Friday, May 29, 2015

Pan-Seared Salmon on Garlic Mashed Beans

Super quick, easy and DELICIOUS!  This meal is so amazing!  It's hearty, yet delicate and the blend of flavors is unbelievable!  Enjoy!
For garlic mashed beans:
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
-1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
-2 (15.5 oz each) cans cannelloni, white or navy beans, rinsed very well and drained
-salt and pepper, to taste
For salmon:
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-4 (5-6 oz each) salmon fillets
-salt and pepper
-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
-1 jalapeno, seeded, halved and sliced
Make the garlic mashed beans first, by heating the oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the garlic and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes (make sure the garlic doesn't brown).  Add the broth and beans, along with some salt and pepper. Let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes.
Transfer to your food processor and puree until just smooth. *If you don't have a food processor, mashing the mixture by hand works just fine.
Adjust seasoning to your liking and set aside.
Make the salmon, by heating oil in large skillet.  Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides.  Add to hot oil and sear until golden brown-about 5 minutes per side.  Remove salmon onto plate.
Return skillet to stove and add the tomatoes and jalapeño.  Season with a little salt and pepper.
To serve, scoop some garlic mashed beans onto plate.  Top with salmon and tomato-jalapeno mixture.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Chicken Salad Wraps in a Bbq-Ranch Sauce

Easy, simple and delicious!  You can have this as a wrap or simply add some seasoned croutons and make it a true salad.  Enjoy!
-2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into chunks
-1/2 cup bbq sauce (I prefer Sweet Baby Rays), divided
-1/3 cup buttermilk
-2 green onions, finely chopped
-1 tsp salt
-1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
-1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
-1 (15.5 oz) can corn, drained
-1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
-soft tortillas to wrap
Preheat oven to 425 F.  Toss chicken chunks with 1/4 cup of the bbq sauce.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken from baking dish onto a plate and let it cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in your salad bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup bbq sauce with the buttermilk, green onions, salt and vinegar.  Mix until smooth.  Add the red pepper, corn, black beans, lettuce and cooked chicken.  Mix very well.
Wrap in soft tortillas or eat it with seasoned croutons as a salad.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Tortellini with Tomato-Kalamata-Artichoke Sauce

Sometimes I just have stuff in my pantry and fridge that I need to get rid of.  That's when creativity usually strikes.  So, why not make a sauce for my tortellini?  This came out super delicious!  You can control the spiciness according to your taste.  I like mine on the really spicy side, so this was quite the treat.  However you like it I'm sure you'll enjoy this delicious sauce.  Enjoy!
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/8 cup dried basil
-1/2 Tbs dried oregano leaves
-1 Tbs dried parsley
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (you can do 1/2 tsp or none, according to your taste)
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 (28 oz each) cans crushed tomatoes
-1 (14 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts
-1 cup kalamata olives, pitted, drained and roughly chopped
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 (24 oz) bag 5 cheese tortellini (or whatever kind you like)
Heat oil in large saucepan.  Add the onion, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley and pepper flakes.  Stir well and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and tomatoes.  Give it a good stir, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally).
Meanwhile, drain the artichokes in a bowl.  This should give you about 1/2 cup marinade.  Do not throw it away!  Also, go ahead and roughly chop the artichokes.
After the 30 minutes of simmering, add the artichoke marinade to the pan.  Stir and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes.
Toss in the chopped artichokes, cover and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the olives and cheese.  Give it a good stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain and toss with the sauce.  Serve and enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Romanian Individual Cakes-Savarine(2nd version)

While the first version of savarine came out real nice and yummy, this one is definitely better and much closer to the taste I remember growing up.  The batter is different.  There are no bread crumbs in this, but there is a batter of flour and yeast.  Give it a try.  You'll LOVE it!  This is one of the reasons I always looked forward to my birthday.  I never had a cake growing up, but I almost always had savarine.  It truly is a feast for the mouth and belly!  Super, super delicious!
For the batter:
-2 cups flour
-2 Tbs yeast
-1 1/2 cups milk
-2 eggs
-3 Tbs sugar
-1/4 cup oil
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
For the syrup:
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 cups water
-1 Tbs rum extract
-1 tsp vanilla extract
To decorate:
-whipped cream
-your favorite jelly (cherry, strawberry, raspberry, etc)
Mix batter ingredients.  Spray 8 ramekins with non-stick baking spray and place them all on baking sheet.  Pour batter mixture equally into prepared dishes.  Cover with towel and set in warm spot.  Let batter rise for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. 
Preheat oven to 300 F.  Once batter is doubled, place baking sheet with ramekins into the oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean and top of savarine is light golden brown.
In the last 10 minutes of baking, start preparing the syrup.  Mix sugar and water in small sauce pan, and place over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and add rum and vanilla extracts.
Once the savarine are cooked, remove from oven and ramekins and place on clean baking sheet.  Pour syrup generously over all of them (use all the syrup) and let them cool for at least an hour.  Right before serving, cut the top off and fill with whipped cream.  Place top back on and spread a little of the jelly on top.  Enjoy!
If not using all the savarine in one sitting, place the remaining ones (without the whipped cream and jelly on them) in the fridge.  You may keep them for up to 48 hours.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pan Seared and Baked Chicken with Spinach, Onions and Artichoke

Delicious, delicious, delicious!  True soul food! I served ours on some yummy homemade mashies.  Enjoy!
-1 Tbs salted butter
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-salt and pepper
-1 onion, halved and sliced
-1 red onion, halved and sliced
-1 (14 oz) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
-1 medium zucchini, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-6 oz baby spinach
-1/2 cup vegetable broth
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Heat butter and oil in large oven proof skillet.  Generously season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add to hot skillet and sear for about 5 minutes on each side-just until golden brown, although chicken won't be cooked through at this point.  Remove chicken from skillet onto plate.
Return skillet to stove and add the onions, artichoke hearts and zucchini.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until veggies start to get tender.  Add the garlic and spinach and cook for 1 more minutes.  Season with a little more salt and pepper and add the broth.  Give it a good stir.
Remove from stove and add the chicken.  Place in preheated oven and bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Serve on top of mashies or by itself.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Layered Vegetable Casserole

This is super extra delicious!  My family loves it!  It's a perfect combination of flavors and textures and it's very filling by itself.  The caramelized onion and garlic are on the bottom, giving you a perfect bite every time.  Also, the smoked gruyere cheese is a perfect substitute for my favorite cheese I grew up with in Romania (caș). Absolutely delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 large onions, halved and sliced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-about 4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
-2 medium zucchinis, sliced
-about 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced
-salt and pepper
-2 tsp dried thyme
-olive oil flavored cooking spray
-4 oz gruyere cheese, freshly grated
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Heat oil in large skillet.  Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until translucent.  Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute.  Spread this on bottom of 9x13 casserole dish.
Layer potatoes, zucchinis and tomatoes on top of onion mixture (make one layer only).  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with the dried thyme.  Coat everything well with olive oil flavored cooking spray. 
Cover dish with foil and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle with the cheese.  Return to the oven and bake for 30 more minutes.  Scoop onto plates and enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Spicy Black Bean and Shrimp Soup

The weather keeps on shifting on us.  It goes from hot and sunny to windy, cold and rainy.  So it is this weekend again.  Of course, a nice warm and spicy soup is what comes to my mind.  This one is super easy, loaded with veggies and goodies, and simply delicious!  You can serve it with some hot bread and a dollop of sour cream, or just as is.  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 red onion, chopped
-1 bell pepper, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 cups vegetable broth
-2 (15 oz each) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes with zesty jalapenos
-2 Tbs red wine vinegar
-1 tsp dried oregano leaves
-1 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp cayenne 
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-12 oz shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tail removed
In large saucepan, heat oil.  Add the onion and bell pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring ice in a while.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
Stir in the broth, black beans, tomatoes with the juice and vinegar.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for shrimp and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Using your immersion blender or working in batches in a regular blender, puree soup until smooth, or to your desired consistency (I like to leave a few chunks in mine).
Once pureed, add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes or until shrimp becomes nice and pink.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Evil Chicken Dinner

I found this recipe while reading a murder mystery book by Josi Kilpack about a lady who loves cooking. :)  The recipe sounded quite intriguing to me because it involves bacon, chili powder and brown sugar.  The result is absolutely DELICIOUS!  This is definitely a winner dinner.  The sugar takes away most of the spiciness, leaving just a tiny little subtle kick.  It is absolutely amazing! This dish goes perfect on top of rice with a little salad or veggies on the side.  Enjoy!
-16 oz bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
-2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into chunks
-3 Tbs chili powder
-1 cup brown sugar
Cook bacon in a large skillet until nearly done.  Do NOT drain.  Add the chicken and chili powder and give it a good stir.  Cook until chicken is done.  Add the brown sugar and mix well until it dissolves.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until sauce begins to thicken (4-5 minutes).
Serve on top of rice with plenty of the sauce.  Enjoy!
Original recipe found here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Loaded Chicken Gnocchi Bake

Super delicious!  And it's pretty quick too.  Enjoy!
-16 oz gnocchi
-14 oz frozen broccoli florets
-2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cooked and cut into chunks
-6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
-1 (15 oz) jar roasted garlic parmesan sauce
-2 cups shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cook gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain and place in large bowl.  Add to it the broccoli, chicken chunks, bacon and sauce.  Mix very well and place in 9x13 casserole dish.  Top with the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Without removing the casserole, turn the oven on to HIGH broil and cook for about 3 minutes.
Remove from the oven, scoop into dishes and enjoy!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Turtle Cookies

These are so decadent, so delicious, so, so good!  You have to make them!  It's a perfect treat. Enjoy!
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2/3 cup sugar
-2 large eggs, divided
-2 Tbs milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 cup flour
-1 cup pecans, finely chopped
-14 soft caramels candies
-3 Tbs heavy cream
Cream butter and sugar until nice and fluffy.  Add one yolk, keeping the white in a small bowl in the fridge until ready to use. Stir in the milk, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder.  Mix well.  Add the flour and mix until well incorporated.
Place bowl with dough in the fridge for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 2 cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove dough from the fridge.
To the reserved egg white, add the second egg white.  Beat until frothy.  Place pecan crumbs into a shallow bowl.
Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls.  Dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans.  Place on prepared cookie sheets and make an indentation with your thumb in the middle (make sure to not put a hole in the cookie ;) ).  Use the rest of the dough.
Bake cookies in preheated oven for 12-13 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave the caramels and cream in a bowl for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.
Once the cookies are out of the oven, fill each indentation with 1/2 to 1 tsp of the caramel mixture.  Let cool completely on the cookie sheets.  Move onto serving platter and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Quick and Easy Spicy Pork Noodles

Quick, easy and delicious!  This is my favorite type of meal.  The flavors are just fantastic!  Enjoy!
-1 lb linguine pasta
-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
-24 oz ground pork
-3 Tbs soy sauce
-2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
-2 Tbs Sriracha sauce
-6 oz baby spinach
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in large skillet.  Add the pork and cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks. 
In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar and Sriracha.  Mix well and pour over pork.  Give it a good stir.  Add the spinach, mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes, until spinach has wilted.
Toss the drained noodles with the pork mixture.  Serve and enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Quick Kielbasa, Onion, Pepper and Potatoes Hash

This is a super quick dinner.  Everything comes together super fast in a wonderful combination of flavors.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 (14 oz) kielbasa, cut into chunks
-1 (28 oz) bag of frozen potatoes with onions and peppers mix (O'Brien hash)
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tsp smoked paprika
-pinch of cayenne
Heat oil in large skillet. Add the kielbasa and cook for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Add the hash mixture and cook for another 8-10 minutes with the sausage, until potatoes are cooked through.  Season with the salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne.  Stir very well.  Serve and enjoy!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Skinnier Lemon Muffins (3 ingredients)

These are quick and VERY moist!  I also love the strong lemon flavor from them.  Really nice treat, with half the calories of a normal muffin because you get to use yogurt instead of oil and eggs.  Really yummy!  Enjoy!
-1 (15.25 oz) super moist lemon cake mix
-1 (6 oz) lemon burst yogurt (I like to use Yoplait)
-1 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line 2 cupcake pans (you'll get somewhere between 18-20 muffins) and set aside.
Mix all ingredients together very well.  Fill cupcake liners halfway full.
Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!


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