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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lunch this Week: Double Cheddar and Vegetable Frittata

I’m picky when it comes to eggs. I didn’t even eat eggs until I was an adult, and I learned that eggs (specifically omelets) are a great hangover remedy… and are pretty tasty when mixed with cheese, veggies and bacon.

One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is as a frittata. Frittatas are so versatile. They are ready to eat in less than 30 minutes most of the time and are great for cleaning out your produce drawer.

Every week I try to make one thing to eat for lunch for the whole week. I do this because then I don’t have to try and think about what to make every day and it helps keep me on track “diet” wise. I’m not on a diet per say but I’m always trying to eat as healthy as possible. And it is easiest for me to do that when I plan ahead. A lot of people have problems with eating the same thing every day for a week. And I can understand that because it can get boring.  I’ve found the key to being able to do it successfully is to make something you WANT to eat and look forward to eating.

This week I made a frittata! It has two kinds of cheese and all of my favorite veggies. And it was pretty hard to only eat once slice this morning because it is very tasty.

Double Cheddar and Vegetable Frittata
*Serves 6

-          8 eggs
-          1/3 cup milk
-          ¼ cup sharp cheddar, small dice
-          ¼ cup mild cheddar, small dice
-          1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
-          ½ cup diced red onion
-          1/3 cup sliced roasted red peppers
-          1-2 tablespoons canola oil
-          1 ½  tablespoons butter
-          2 handfuls spinach


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Heat a large sauté pan (10-12 inches and oven safe) to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon canola oil and mushrooms. Sauté for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.
  1. Reduce pan’s heat to medium low and add onions. Add additional canola oil if needed. Sauté for 8 minutes or until onions have softened. Add roasted red peppers and toss together for a few moments then remove from pan and add to separate bowl with mushrooms.
  1. Remove pan from heat and very carefully wipe clean with a paper towel. Return pan to burner and add butter. Heat pan to medium heat.
  1. In a large bowl whisk eggs and milk until fully combined. Add to pan once butter is fully melted and slightly bubbly. Add mushrooms, pepper, onions, and spinach to eggs. Stir gently to distribute veggies evenly. Cook for 2 minutes and then sprinkle diced cheese over top. Transfer to oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  1. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Banana Nut Muffins

A few months back I posted a Banana Bread recipe that was fantastic – if I do say so myself. I liked it so much that I honestly never see myself making any changes to it. However, I did want to make a version that was a bit healthier.

Now I’m not going to tell you that this is a super healthy banana bread/muffin recipe that you can eat as much as you want of guilt-free, but it is healthier that my other recipe. The best part it is that it’s really just as good. The only difference is this recipe is slightly less sweet and the texture is a tad different.

I like to think of my original version as the kind you make for a special occasion or holiday and this version for anytime. 

Banana Nut Muffins
*Makes 1 dozen muffins

-          4 very ripe bananas
-          3 tablespoons softened butter
-          ¼ cup light brown sugar
-          ¼ cup white sugar
-          ¼ cup honey
-          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-          1 large egg
-          ¼ teaspoon salt
-          ¼ teaspoon baking powder
-          ½ teaspoon baking soda
-          ½ teaspoon cinnamon
-          1 ½ cups wheat flour
-          Heaping ½ cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine bananas, butter, light brown sugar, white sugar, honey, vanilla extract and egg. Smash all ingredients together until well combined. Some banana chunks are ok.
  1. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix to incorporate and then slowly add to wet mixture, Next beat on low with hand mixer to fully combine for about 1 -2 minutes. Stir in walnuts.
  1. Pour batter into a greased or lined muffin tins (3/4 the way up) and bake in oven for 16-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (Bake 50-65 for a loaf.)
  1. Allow muffins to cool for several minutes before removing from pan. Allow muffins to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. 

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Mustard and Mushroom Pork Tenderloin

I’m ready for the warm weather to get here. Usually I try to cling to every last chilly day we get – probably because we only get about 10 here in Tampa and I am SUCH a New England girl who loves her scarves and boots – but this year I am ready for cute spring/summer dresses and pretty wedges. I’m ready to wiggle my toes into the sand, and relax on the beach with a good book pretending to weigh about 15 pounds less than I do.

All of this has zero to do with this recipe, which I really love. I first made it a couple of years ago when my dad was coming to visit and I wanted to use the slow cooker so I could spend my time visiting with him rather than cooking. It’s warm and comforting and perfect for one of the last few chilly nights before spring really blooms.

Mustard and Mushroom Pork Tenderloin
*Serves 4

-          2 lbs pork tenderloin or roast
-          8oz mushrooms, quartered
-          1 ½ cups chicken broth
-          3 garlic cloves, smashed or minced
-          ½ medium onion, sliced
-          ½ cup white wine
-          2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
-          1 bay leaf
-          1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
-          ½ teaspoon celery salt
-          ½ teaspoon ground thyme
-          2 tablespoons butter
-          3 tablespoons flour


  1. In a 4 or 6 quart slow cooker combine broth, wine, mustard, thyme, celery salt, bay leaf and worcestershire sauce. Add garlic, mushrooms, onions and pork. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.
  1. Remove tenderloin and set aside. Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Remove mushrooms and set aside. Reserve 2 ½ - 3 cups of liquid to make sauce.
  1. In a large sauté pan melt butter over medium low heat. Once melted add flour and whisk together for about one minute. Then slowly add reserved cooking liquid whisking as you combine. Bring heat up to medium-high to let thicken – about 5 minutes.
  1. Once sauce has thickened, taste for seasoning and add any salt and pepper if needed. Stir in mushrooms.
  1. Slice pork and serve over mashed potatoes or rice and top with gravy.
So what are you most looking forward to this spring?

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blackened Fish Tacos

I’m a sucker for a good fish taco. It combines two things I am absolutely crazy about – seafood and tex-mex.

And they can actually be fairly healthy for you depending on how you make them. These are lightly pan fried so they have a bit of texture but not deep fried so they aren’t a huge calorie bomb. These are blackened as well so they have a nice spicy kick to them.

A win-win as far as I’m concerned given that it is SPRING and swimsuit season is right around the corner.

Blackened Fish Tacos
*Serves 4

-          1 lb mild white fish such as tilapia, cod or grouper
-          ¼ cup flour
-          1.5 – 2.5 teaspoons blacken seasoning, based on your spice preference
-          1 tablespoon canola oil, more if needed
-          1/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
-          Zest of lime
-          1 tablespoon lime juice
-          8-10 flour tortillas

-          Lettuce, shredded or chopped
-          Pico de Gallo
-          Avocado, sliced


  1. In a small bowl combine sour cream, lime zest, and lime juice. Set aside for later.
  1. Prep the fish by patting dry and slicing into 1” thick slices about 2”-3” inches long.
  1. In a shallow bowl or plate combine blacken seasoning and flour. Dredge fish in flour and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  1. Heat a large sauté pan to medium high heat with canola oil. Pan fry fish for 3-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through and lightly golden brown. Repeat until done. (You can keep cooked fish in a 200 degree oven on a wire rack to keep warm while you finish.)
  1. Heat tortillas according to package directions and serve tacos with toppings of choice. I used shredded lettuce, the lime zest sour cream, pico de gallo and sliced avocado. 

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Pico de Gallo

I’m pretty sure I’ve established here that I love Tex-Mex and Mexican food. I love spicy, cheesy, guacamole covered yumminess. I can’t help it.

Pico de Gallo is a common Mexican fresh condiment much like salsa. Many people have their own version and this one is mine. Chili peppers are common in Pico but I omit them when I make Pico. I feel chili peppers (such as jalapeños) have their place already in salsa and I prefer Pico to just be fresh and bright with no heat.

And because I love Mexican food and I use pico de gallo so much, it gets its own post so I can refer back to it. Later I will share a recipe where I use it. It’s a pretty great one too!

Pico de Gallo
* Makes about 1 ½ cups

-          1 cup diced tomato, about 2 medium tomatoes seeded
-          1/3 cup diced red onion (you can use white or yellow)
-          2-3 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro, depends on your taste
-          Juice of ½ lime
-          Salt and Pepper

  1. Prep all ingredients and combine in a small bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. 
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day: Irish Cream Dark Chocolate Truffles

For Valentine’s Day Brent surprised me with some Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolates. They were pretty fantastic and since then I’ve wanted to play around with a boozy truffle.

I used dark chocolate for these since it’s better for you than milk chocolate, but if you don’t dig dark chocolate, use semi-sweet. The older I get the more I prefer dark chocolate and I loved how these truffles came out. The dark chocolate takes center stage while the liquor plays in the background.

There is a fair amount of straight liquor in these so you may not want to serve them to children. Just a warning to all the parents out there! These are probably best served at an adult only party.

Irish Cream Dark Chocolate Truffles
*Makes approx 35 truffles

-          14oz dark chocolate, chopped or chips
-          ¾ cup heavy cream
-          4 tablespoons butter
-          ¾ cup Irish cream liquor such as Baileys (can dial back to ½ cup)
-          ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
-          Optional: sprinkles

  1. Place chocolate in a large metal or glass bowl. Make sure chocolate is room temperature.
  1. In a small sauté pan over medium heat bring heavy cream and butter to a slow boil. Stay nearby b/c it can boil over pretty quickly.
  1. Once cream/butter comes to a boil pour over chocolate. Gentle shake bowl to ensure all chocolate is submerged and let sit 2-3 minutes. Then whisk mixture until chocolate is smooth.
  1. Add liquor and whisk again until incorporated. Place in fridge and chill for 2 hours.
  1. Remove from fridge and beat with hand mixer on low for 2 minutes. Chill again for 1 ½ - 2 hours.
  1. Remove from fridge and roll chocolate into small balls. About 1 tablespoon worth of mixture. Place on a wax paper lined sheet pan and refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
  1. After 30 minutes re-roll any balls that need to be re-shaped. Dredge lightly in cocoa powder or dust lightly on top. 

I dredged them but next time I think I’ll just light dust them since cocoa powder can be a bit overwhelming for some. I also sprinkled some green sugar on some. Crushed walnuts might also be a great addition for topping.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mushroom Ravioli in a Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

Restaurant Recreation: Olive Garden’s Ravioli di Portobello

Ahhh….the Olive Garden. The go-to date night dinner destination of my teenage youth. This dish was the only one I would ever order there. It was consistent and good, the sauce especially since you could dip the breadsticks in it.

This is such a cheater’s version of it, which makes it perfect for a weeknight meal. And if you’re good at multi-tasking in the kitchen you can get it on the table in about 20 minutes.

This dish is very savory and gets a lovely pop of brightness from the fresh tomato and scallions. And it’s that combination I think that won me over so many years ago.

Mushroom Ravioli in a Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
*Serves 4


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