Worst part of this week = having to pack a lunch for FIVE WHOLE DAYS! It’s been weeks since I’ve put in a 40 hour’er – the joy of Christmas brings with it the joy of consecutive 4-5 day weekends. But now, the grim reality that the next company holiday won’t be here until the snow is melted and my brown puffy down coat has been retired for the Winter. Sigh.
Thank god I have these delicious Roasted Red Pepper, Spinach and Goat Cheese Quinoa bites to look forward to at lunch 🙂
Roasted Red Pepper, Spinach & Goat Cheese Quinoa Bites
*yields about 34 bites
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small jar of roasted red peppers, chopped
2 cups frozen chopped spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2) Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add chopped red peppers, spinach and minced garlic and sautee for about 5 minutes, until all the liquid from the peppers and spinach has evaporated. Remove from heat.
3) In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, spinach/red pepper mixture and crumbled goat cheese. Mix together to allow the goat cheese to melt. Once the mixture has cooled a bit more (about 10 minutes), you can then add the eggs and mix together. Season the mixture with salt & pepper to taste.
4) Spray a mini-muffin pan (24 count) with non-stick cooking spray, making sure to spray the top of the pan as well to avoid the bites from sticking. Place one tablespoon of the mixture in each muffin slot and bake in your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
These are a nice light option for lunch or even a snack. They’d also be a great appetizer for your next ladies night! Healthy, yummy and would go nicely with red OR white 🙂
We’re baaaa-aaaack! Were you nervous we had flown the coop? Well technically, I guess we did for a bit, now we’re back and ready to blog our socks off!
Where’ve we been for the last 2 weeks and change? Well I’ll tell you!
We spent a long weekend in Vermont with lots of:
1) Great friends & foliage:
2) Great Beer:
3) The wedding of a GREAT couple, our friends Maggie and Vinny! It was the picture perfect Vermont wedding, with every last detail covered, down to hand written notes from the bride and groom to every single guest at the wedding – my hand is cramping just thinking of it! What a great day it was.
4) A week in Chicago for the greatest metal show on earth (a.k.a – my ‘real life’ job as a metal tradeshow planning machine)
And all the celebrating, beer drinking and metal’ing has left me feeling a little under the weather with a headcold that hit me like a ton of bricks. That and the chilly fall air that has made it’s way to Boston, made me realize that it’s Chicken Chili time. It’s a great spin of that delectable Black Bean Vegetable Soup, with a few adaptations to make a little more ‘chili’esque’, while still being healthy.
1lb 99% fat-free boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet of mild taco seasoning
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. Chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
2 cups chicken stock
2 – 15oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 – 8.75 oz. can whole kernel corn
salt & pepper to taste
1) Coat the chicken breasts with taco seasoning. Cook both sides of chicken in a large saucepan over medium heat until just browned on either side, and set aside.
1) In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat; cook onion, carrots and garlic until onion is softened (about 5 minutes). Season cooked veggies with salt and pepper.
2) In the meantime, take the crushed tomatoes and 1 can of black beans and puree them together in a food processor. Set aside.
3) Add chili powder and cumin to onion/carrot/garlic mixture and cook stirring for about a minute.
4) Add the chicken stock, 1 can of black beans and can of kernel corn and bring to a boil.
5) Once the veggies have come to a boil, add the black bean and tomato puree and browned chicken breasts to the pot. Reduce heat, cover chili, and simmer for about an hour. After an hour, the chicken will be fully cooked which will allow you to shred it using 2 forks. You can remove it from the chili to shred or shred right in the dutch oven. If you shred it outside, make sure to return the chicken back to the chili. Simmer on low heat for another 1-2 hours so the shredded chicken can absorb the flavors.
This is great for Sunday Funday, or even divvy’ing it up into individual containers for lunch during the week. It also freezes really well too, in case you have left overs.
I hope these last couple weeks have been as good for you guys as it’s been for us! But – it’s good to be back 🙂
Last year, I had pumpkin risotto for the first time, and man was it good! Lord Hobo is a bar in Cambridge, MA that you’d probably walk right by and not give a second thought. But their craft beer selection is beyond amazing, and their dishes are just as unique.
So I decided to make this Pumpkin Risotto, in the spirit of fall. Risotto takes a bit of time – all the stirring and adding of the chicken stock – it’s a dish that really needs to be baby sat. So when it’s ready, you can’t WAIT to dig in! Dave and I paired it with Maple Garlic Marinated Pork Tips, which were out of this world. But the risotto just didn’t taste quite as good as I remembered. I strongly believe that thing always taste just a little bit better when you don’t have to make them yourself, but this wasn’t quite the level of delish that I experienced at Lord Hobo.
There was a lot left over, and I toiled back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to photograph and blog about it. Because I wasn’t fully supportive of it. But I didn’t want to waste it either, because it did take so much effort to make. Then the invisible lightbulb turned on and shined bright – ARANCINI BALLS!
I think the first Arancini Ball I ever ate was a frozen one from Trader Joe’s – and even that was so tasty that I wondered how I had never known about this genius concoction of cheese and risotto, rolled into a ball, and fried. I’ve never made them myself, and have heard from others that they’re a lot of work, but the work was well worth it.
Pumpkin Arancini Balls
*Adapted from Epicurious & Food Network
*yields about 16-20 arancini balls
For Pumpkin Risotto
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For Arancini Balls
1 cup + 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
2-3 mozzarella string cheese sticks, cut into 1/2″ pieces
Vegetable oil, for frying
To prepare the risotto:
1) Bring stock and 2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep at a bare simmer.
2) Cook onion in oil in a 2- to 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
3) Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue simmering, adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total. (There may be broth left over.)
4) Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, cheese, and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and be sure to let cool before preparing the arancini balls.
To prepare Arancini Balls:
1) Put 1 cup bread crumbs in a shallow dish and set aside.
2) In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of pumpkin risotto, bread crumbs, parmesan, and eggs.
3) With damp hands, using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture, form the mixture into 1 3/4-inch diameter balls.
4) Make a hole in the center of each ball and insert a piece of the mozzarella in the center, covering the hole to enclose the cheese.
5) Roll the balls in the breading to coat.
6) In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (about 5 minutes).
7) In batches, fry the risotto balls, turning occasionally, until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.
8) Drain on paper towels and serve.
I know you’re thinking ‘WOW – that’s a LOT of steps and a lot of time!’ But I swear, they’re worth every bite, especially served hot, when the cheese is still all gooey and stretchy. The perfect combination of saltiness and sweetness from the pumpkin. And you could probably experiment with the cheese as well – I just happened to have mozzarella (I am 30 going on 5 and still LOVE string cheese!) but I bet goat cheese or feta would be equally as good. And if you didn’t want a big ball of cheese right in the center, you could use a shredded version to make the cheese distribution more uniform throughout.
These would be the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner or any Fall gathering you’re heading to – and everyone will say “AUGH, these are amazing! It must have taken you hours!” – and you lie and tell them “Nahhh – it was easy” 🙂
My gals pals and I had our Fantasy Football draft the other night.
Three years ago, we thought “heck, wouldn’t it be fun to make our own Fantasy Football team and pick all of our players based on 1) cuteness 2) level of hot body’ness?” Well, let’s just say that this strategy didn’t get us too far in terms of winning anything. But, it was a great excuse to sit by the T.V. every Sunday hooting and hollering alongside the men – although we were hooting and hollering at tight camera shots of bums and other body parts vs. touchdowns and field goals.
Last year, it got a little more competitive – my friend Erin took over the roll of commissioner. By day, Erin is this cute little CPA who works for the IRS – on Sunday’s during football season though, she’s a crazed, football-jersey-wearing maniac that screams at the television and sits with her legs open staring intently at the television holding her breath to see what the next play brings (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating at the sitting w/ her legs wide open part – everything else is 100% true!). With Erin as commissioner, we started to take things a little more seriously, and really started to care about more than how long Tom Brady’s hair had gotten or if the camera’s shot to our favorite celebs in the stands during games. We actually like, paid attention – and made changes in our roster every week – and like, kind of knew what was going on!
And this year’s draft was a nail biter, probs the most stressful hour and a half that I’ve had in a while. While we may be ladies Monday through Saturday, on Sundays, the claws will be out. But we need sustenance to keep ourselves going during hours and hours of football watching.
Delicious food goes hand in hand with football season – chilli – wings – dips of all kinds – which is what we have today! I’m a huge Spinach dip lover, so this is a Skinny version of a great Sunday Funday snack, made with Kale and Feta Cheese (you could easily use spinach too, I just wanted to shake things up a bit) and homemade pita chips! I am OBSESSED with the Josephs© line of sandwich wraps. They have pita bread, wraps and lavash that are all only 2 WW points each! And, they made amazing home made pita chips!
Kale & Feta Dip with Homemade Pita Chips
*yields about 1 cup of dip and 16 pita chips – serving size is 1/4 cup of dip and 4 pita chips
For Kale & Feta Dip:
4 cups chopped kale
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup fat-free feta cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp. grated parmesean cheese
salt and pepper to taste
For Pita Chips:
Non-stick cooking spray
2 whole Josephs Pita Breads
(the large size, not the smaller sandwich size ones)
Salt and Pepper
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a medium sauce pan, sautee minced garlic and chopped kale over medium heat until it shrinks to about 1/2 it’s original size.
3) Place cooked kale in a large mixing bowl and add cream cheese, sour cream, feta and lemon juice and mix until combined. Add salt and pepper as needed.
4) Place in an oven-safe baking dish and sprinkle grated parmesean cheese on the top. Cook for about 10 minues, or until bubbly.
5) Slice the pita breads into 8 triangles (16 total). Spray with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven about 5 minutes on each side, until chips reach desired level of crunchiness.
TOUCHDOWN! A delicious dip, that can be served hot or cold, that is only 3.5 WW points per serving. So if you were so preoccupied with the action and ate the whole thing by mistake, it wouldn’t be so bad!
Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone 🙂
It’s the last week of summer (I know – sniff, sniff). That means there is one week left to:
1) Strut around in your bikini (or one-piece with conservative coverup) while the weather is still nice
2) Capitalize on the freshest produce of the year!
And these next recipes will be nothing but bikini friendly. In only a couple short weeks, it’ll be time to stuff ourselves in sweaters and shovel in the chilli w/ cheese, sour cream and fritos while watching Sunday football. HOWEVER, until then, let’s keep it on the skinny, shall we?
This Summer Bruschetta is SOO freaking delish, a take-off on that delightful Tomato, Cucumber & Feta Salad. I think I’ve made it about 7596943 times this summer. It’s easy – it’s healthy – and there’s no better way to showcase one of summer’s star veggie-fruits than with bruschetta.
1 large package of heirloom tomatoes, chopped or pulsed a few times in the food processor (about 2 cups)
(I like to use the different colored ones, but all red would do too)
1 tbsp. lite italian dressing
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fat-free feta cheese
8-10 large basil leaves, chopped
1) Chop tomatoes into small pieces or pulse in the food processor a few times until they reach your desired size. Place in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2) In a small mixing bowl, whisk together italian dressing, balsamic vinegar and minced garlic. Pour mixture over the chopped tomatoes and fold with a spatula.
3) Add fat-free feta cheese and chopped basil and fold into tomato/dressing mixture.
4) Let the mix sit for at least 1/2 hour. I personally like letting it sit at room temperature (cold tomatoes = yucka) but you could also chill it in the refridgerator.
5) Serve on sliced french bread or crackers!
You can adjust this recipe as you see fit, adding more/less basil & feta cheese, but the ENTIRE bowl of bruschetta (minus the bread/crackers) is only 3 WW points – 3. Whole thing. Chilli can wait!
It’s been way too long since Buffalo Chicken has showed it’s mug here. So happy Buffalo Chicken Monday to all!
While most of the Buffalo Chicken recipes on this Blog have been pre-meditated, this one was purely by accident. Yesterday morning, while still half asleep, I reached my hand in the freezer, did an “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” and pulled out what you could call the ‘pandora’s box’ of the freezer – ground chicken. For some reason, I continue to buy this at the store, and then when faced with doing something with it, always seem to be left scratching my head. Last time I was faced with this was back in April, when Southwest Chicken Burgers were born. And last night, almost 4 months later, a new ground chicken master piece was born, and Buffalo Chicken Tacos was it’s name! You could use rotissere chicken or shredded chicken breast for this as well.
Buffalo Chicken Tacos
1 lb. ground chicken
(I used the 93/7 mix)
2 stalks of celery, diced small
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 onion, diced small
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
1/4 cup Ranch dressing (or blue cheese, depending on your preference)
(I used a light version, but you could use full fat or fat free too)
2 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
6 (or so) corn tortillas
1) Cook celery, carrot, onion and garlic over medium heat in a non-stick skillet until translucent (about 5 minutes)
2) Add ground chicken to vegetables and sautee until cooked through.
3) Take the Frank’s and ranch dressing and whisk together in a small dish, then pour the mixture over the vegetable/chicken mix. Add blue cheese and stir until melted.
4) Let simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes, until some of the sauce has absorbed.
5) Cook corn tortillas over direct flame until char marks appear, then flip and repeat on the other side.
6) Top with minced celery and carrot and sprinkle some blue cheese and ranch or blue cheese dressing.
Before tonight, I questioned the sanity of the person who came up with the idea of shoving a can of beer into the rear-end of a dead chicken and calling it dinner. But, my mind has been changed.
6 months of marriage was achieved on Saturday! So Dave and I decied to try this new restaurant in the neighborhood that opened up called M3. M3’s predecessor, Al Fresco, seemed like it was in business forever, one of those small italian eateries that never had a packed house or a line out the door, but their longevity in the area implied they were doing something right. Well – I guess they weren’t, because one day as I was jogging by, expecting a waft of roasted garlic and simmering meatballs as I passed by, Al Fresco was gone. And the next time I ran by, M3 was there, and it was PACKED! I tried to figure out what type of place this was, as the name isn’t very telling. I saw a lot of intriguing things 1) Chalkboard tables – perfect for 5 (and 30) year old patrons 2) Beer in cans 3) The dessert menu – FRIED fluffenutter! What????? Apon further investigation, I discovered that it was a Southern Joint, toteing all of pre-diabetic Paula Deens faves – Fried Chicken, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Cheese curds (are you picking up on a theme?) and my dinner for the evening, Beer Can Hen. And after blushing when the waitress placed the violated cooked hen on the table, I was able to dig in (only after the hostess came over and helped me remove the can from it’s rear – she must have seen that this was unchartered territory for me). My only disappointment was Harriet the Hen didn’t have quite as much meat on her bones as I would have liked. But, it was a great excuse to try it the next night for dinner! And strangely enough, my mom bought Dave a special “Beer Can Chicken” grill pan for his birthday, so it seemed as though it was written in the stars.
Spice Rubbed Beer Can Chicken
*A K&D Original recipe
1 – 3-4 lb. Chicken Roaster
1 – 12oz. can of beer (your choice – we used a summer lager)
SPICE RUB INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp. chilli powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. seasoned salt
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tbsp. red pepper flakes
few shakes of salt and pepper
1) Remove giblets from the inside of the chicken. Rinse and pat the chicken dry.
2) Prepare your grill for indirect heat – we basically lit two piles of charcoal on either side of the grill, leaving a space in the center of the grate for the chicken that wouldn’t be directly over the heat (this is a really good video tutorial). But, if you’re using a gas grill, turn on all burners until grill reaches 350 degrees, then turn off the burners on one side. If cooking in an oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a shallow roasting pan with tin foil to catch any drips.
3) Get rid of half of the can of beer (how you choose to do this is completely up to you – I suggest drinking it :)). If using a special BCC pan, place can in the compartment reserved for it. If not, place can upright into the chicken, making sure it’s fitted within the cavity of the chicken.
4) Coat the outside of the chicken with olive oil and then coat it in the spice rub.
5) After your briquettes have become ‘ashy’ looking, you can place your chicken onto the grate. Roast for 1.5 – 2 hours, rotating about halfway through cooking time, until an instant read thermometer reads 180 degrees.
6) Take chicken off of the grill and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
I’m gonna go ahead and say that this may have been the best tasting chicken I’ve ever had in my life – swear. The moistness was unreal, and the slow roasting really let the flavors of the beer and the spices seep into the meat. And the great thing about the pan was that you could just toss your potatoes and veggies right onto the grill with the chicken. Even if you didn’t have Beer Can Chicken specific pan, you could probably do the same with another vegetable roasting basket for the grill (place the chicken with the beer can in the center of the roasting basket and place the sides around it).
So if you’re looking for the most tender and flavorful chicken you’ve ever had in your life, and you don’t mind sticking an aluminum can in the butt of a chicken, well then you’ve got yourself a doozie of a recipe here!