Monday, January 30, 2017

Easy Avocado Spread

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy breakfast.  I love the freshness of the avocado on toast.  It's delicious and super good for you, and it's done in less than 5 minutes.  Enjoy!
-1 avocado
-1/2 tsp lemon juice
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Pit the avocado and scoop up the flesh in a bowl.  Mash with a fork.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Spread on toast and enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mediterranean Dish with Kielbasa, Orzo, and Spinach

This beautiful dish is easy to put together and super flavorful. Enjoy!
-1 lb kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into chunks
-1 red onion, finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped (keep the juices too)
-1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 cup water
-1/2 cup orzo
-1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach
-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Add the kielbasa chunks and onion.  Give it a good stir and cook for 7-10 minutes or until sausage is golden brown and onion is tender.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
Stir in the tomatoes, olives, oregano, and water.  Mix well and bring to a boil.
Add the orzo and spinach.  Give it a good stir, reduce heat, cover and let it simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from stove, sprinkle with the cheese, and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette

This is my favorite way of enjoying asparagus.  It's super easy and oh, so tasty!  The asparagus is roasted to perfection, then it is tossed with the simple vinaigrette which makes the flavor really pop.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1 lb fresh asparagus
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
For the vinaigrette:
-1/2 lemon, juiced
-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Remove woody stems from asparagus, then tear each spear into 1 inch pieces.  Place on large baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir, then spread in single layer.
Roast in preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk all vinaigrette ingredients until nice and smooth.
Remove roasted asparagus onto serving bowl.  Drizzle the vinaigrette and mix well.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Melissa D'Arabian recipe.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Slow Cooker Corn and Ham Chowder

I just love dishes like this where you just dump everything in the slow cooker, let it do its magic, then simply enjoy a delicious meal. This is a great soup for a cold winter day.  Enjoy!
- 1 onion, finely chopped
-1 cup frozen shredded hash browns
-2 1/2 cups milk (no lower than 2%)
-1 (14.5 oz) can cream style corn
-1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
-12 oz frozen corn
-8 oz chopped ham
-2 tsp dried parsley flakes
-2 Tbs salted butter, cut into small chunks
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
To garnish:
-bacon bits
Place all soup ingredients into your slow cooker.  Give it a good stir.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Ladle into bowls, garnish with chives and bacon bits.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quick Three Cheese Tortellini and Veggies Salad

I just love quick and easy meals like this on a busy night.  Yes, a slow cooker meal or casserole would do, but I like fresh cooking and crunchy veggies every so often, so this is actually perfect for that.  The whole thing comes together in about 15 minutes and is such a treat to the palate with a burst of fresh veggies and the cheesiness of the tortellini. Great dish!  Enjoy!
-1 head broccoli
-1 red bell pepper
-1/2  cup pimiento stuffed green olives
-1 (19 oz) package three cheese tortellini
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While the water gets boiling, chop the head of broccoli into florets and place in a big salad bowl.  Also, cut the bell pepper into small strips and half the olives.  Place all with the broccoli.
Once the water is boiling, quickly cook the tortellini according to the package directions.  Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool.  Drain well and add to the salad bowl.
Add the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Give it a really good stir.  Serve and enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Beef and Veggies Soup

We love this soup because it's hearty, packed with veggies, and it tastes amazing!  It's absolutely perfect for these cold, winter days.  Enjoy!
-1 lb extra lean ground beef
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-1 green bell pepper, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 (14.5 oz each) cans diced tomatoes, NOT drained
-3 1/2 cups beef broth
-2 cups water
-1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
-1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
-12 oz frozen corn
-2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper
-1 Tbs dried basil leaves
-1/2 lb elbow macaroni pasta
-1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
In a large saucepan, cook the beef, onion, and bell pepper, until meat is no longer pink.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Stir in the tomatoes, broth, water, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and basil.  Give it a good stir and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a little more Parmesan.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pan Seared Chicken with Green Olives

This is a very simple and easy way to prepare a nice chicken dinner.  I love green olives stuffed with pimientos.  They add that nice extra flavor to any dish. In this one, they are the perfect addition to the chicken.  I served ours with mashed potatoes.  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1 cup green olives stuffed with pimientos, halved
-1/2 cup chicken broth
Heat oil in large skillet.
While that's heating, score chicken on the skin side.  Season evenly on both sides with the pepper, salt and crushed rosemary.  Add to the hot skillet and quickly sear on both sides until beautiful and golden brown.
Add the olives and broth.  Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve on top of mashed potatoes or polenta.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sweet Potato-Beef Stew (Biggest Loser)

I love watching the Biggest Loser while working out on the treadmill.  Besides the drama, it's quite an inspirational show and it keeps me motivated. I looked up some of their recipes and stumbled on this one.  It looked awesome and I had to give it a try.  Let me tell you, it instantly became one of our family favorites!  The flavors are absolutely amazing and everything is super tender and it melts in your mouth.  The sweet potatoes mixed with the mushrooms, onion and carrots are to die for, and the beef is cooked for a long time so that it becomes super tender.  Yum! Enjoy!
-2 Tbs flour
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 lbs top round steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-8 oz white mushrooms, quartered
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-3 1/2 cups beef broth
-2 carrots, peeled and sliced
-2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
Place flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a ziploc bag.  Mix well.  Add the stake cubes and shake to coat evenly.  Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the beef cubes and cook until nice and browned (it will only be browned, not cooked through).
Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Add the broth and carrots.  Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 45 minutes.
Finally, add the sweet potatoes, give it a good stir, cover and simmer for 45 more minutes.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Biggest Loser recipe.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lemon-Dill Pasta Salad with Shrimp

We love, love, love this pasta salad.  The flavors are absolutely amazing together.  The freshness of the dill, lemons and veggies really make this a great salad.  Enjoy!
-5 lemons
-2 tsp honey
-1 oz fresh dill, fronds chopped, stems reserved
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper
-1 1/2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed
-1 lb pasta (rotini, bows, shells, etc)
-2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
-1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
Whisk together the juice of 3 lemons, honey and chopped dill.  Slowly, whisk in the olive oil.  Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.  Give it a good stir and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the juice of the remaining 2 lemons, the dill stems and 1 Tbs salt. Add the shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and add it to the dressing.  Toss to coat.
Bring the liquid from pot back to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander.  Rinse with cold water until pasta is cooled. Remove the dill stems.
Add the cooled pasta, along with the tomatoes and cucumber to the salad. Give it one last good stir and serve.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Brownie Cookies

Oh, yeah baby!  You get the chewiness and yumminess of a brownie into a perfect cookie! You seriously can't get better than this!  My beautiful daughters made these for our family and, needless to say, they were all gone almost immediately.  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
-3 large eggs
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1 Tbs vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-3/4 cup flour
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In your electric mixer's bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and brown sugar. Stir in the vanilla, baking powder and salt.  Mix very well.  Beat on high for 5 minutes to make it all nice and fluffy.
Reduce the speed to low and add the cooled melted chocolate mixture. Mix well. Stir in the cocoa powder and flour.  Mix very well.  Add the remaining chocolate chips. Mix well.
cover the batter and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a couple of baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop batter onto prepared sheets.
Bake cookies in preheated oven for 15 minutes. The cookies will look set at the edges, but still a little wet looking in the center.  That's how you want them to look to get the fudgy texture.
Remove cookies from the oven and set the trays on wire racks.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Roasted Broccoli and Pecans

This is the perfect side dish!  It is super easy to put together, quick to cook, and an amazing balance of flavors.  I love the crunchiness and sweetness of the pecans combined with the broccoli.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 large bunches of broccoli, cleaned and cut into 1 inch florets
-2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
-1/2 cup pecan halves
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Make sure to mix very well.  Place mixture on large baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Slightly adapted from a recipe found on 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bean and Salt Pork Soup (Ciorbă de Fasole cu Șuncă)

This is one of our family's favorite comfort foods.  It's relatively quick, hearty, and packed with so much flavor and goodness. The beans, along with the salt pork are simply the best combination!
I like to use Vegeta in a lot of my cooking because I grew up with it and it can be found here, in the States, almost everywhere. Vegeta is a spice containing salt and crushed dried vegetables.  It is very common in Romania and throughout Europe.  However, it can be found quite easily in most grocery stores in the international isle.  If you don't have it, can't find it or simply don't want it, season with seasoned salt and other spices you might like, such as dried herbs and garlic powder or something.
Now go ahead and make this for dinner!  You'll love it!  Enjoy!
-cooking spray
-12 oz salt pork, trimmed of fat and cut into large chunks
-6 cups water
-3 (15 oz each) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
-1 (15 oz) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-3 Tbs tomato paste
-1.5 Tbs Vegeta
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray.  Add the chunks of salt pork and cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
Add the water and beans.  Give it a good stir and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Stir until completely melted.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Give it another good stir, lower the heat to low, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy!


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