Since I have been on my own, I have developed a love for cooking… which is kinda funny because I used to have no interest whatsoever in cooking, and I knew absolutely nothing about it. I have since learned that it’s really not that difficult to follow a recipe, and the more I cook, the more I learn, the better I get. If you know me, you know I am OBSESSED with the Food Network. It is literally the only channel I watch. It has been an inspiration, as well as living with Gareth. He also loves to cook with me. Besides the Food Network, my other main resource is my parents. When I have a question about anything, they are just a phone call away. So, I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes on here and encourage everyone I can to cook.
I saw this recipe on Giada – I am a little obsessed with her and Ina from the Food Network. In fact, I sometimes daydream about living in the Hamptons and being a chef for a living, having my own cooking show, and going to market to find the very best ingredients, and just cooking all day. Maybe in another life! But anyhow, I do love to cook, and as I mentioned in my recipe blog below, I have found the key to happy cooking!!! Music, yes. But as I was cooking about 2 weeks ago, I got really upset and stressed out and Gareth said, “Why don’t you read the recipe all the way through before you start cooking?!” I was annoyed by his comment, but it really made me think… why didn’t I do that? Duh! So, all I do now is read everything once or twice. Make sure I have a hold on it. Then I start doing all the prep work. I get all my ingredients out at once and start chopping, mincing, grating, washing, draining, etc. Then when it comes time to start the cooking process, I have all my ingredients ready to go! Wow lol, what a difference!!! This is what I made last night. It was bursting with flavor!!! I altered Giada’s recipe just a little bit, so this is my version. I posted a link to her original recipe at the end of this blog, but I bet mine is better 🙂
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use the zester for my garlic, so easy)
2 cans of tuna in oil, drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can of artichokes, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Turkey & Spinach Taquitos
My husband and I made these taquitos last night and they were soooooooo amazingly delicious. I always find that when I’m making something that requires chopping, mincing, grating, etc, I like to do all that before hand, have it ready to go, and then start the cooking process. It just makes my life so much easier and less stressful. So there’s a little tip, which I’m sure most people have also figured out. Als0 – we used the smaller corn tortillas. I think they measured about 5 1/2 inches diameter. We cut this entire recipe in half and it made 11 taquitos. This recipe would be perfect if you were having people over!
Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 packed cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature (8 ounces)
Eighteen 6 1/2-inch-diameter extra-thin or regular corn tortillas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded white or extra sharp Cheddar (4 ounces)
Serving suggestion: salsa or guacamole
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Spray a heavy nonstick baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.
For the filling: Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch skillet. Chop the onions and spinach, grate the cheese, drain and rinse the black beans, and don’t forget to set out the mascarpone cheese!
Add the turkey and cumin. Cook until the turkey is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the beans. Mash the beans until smooth, using a fork. Stir in the mascarpone. (Forgot to take a picture of this.)
Place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush each side of the tortillas with olive oil. Cook the tortillas in batches until warm, about 30 seconds. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling into each tortilla and roll up into a cigar shape. Place the tortillas, seam-side-down, on the baking sheet. This is where my husband comes in! He really enjoys doing stuff like this, and I don’t, so we make a good team.
Bake until the Cheddar is melted and the tortillas are crisp and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes (really important) and serve with Greek yogurt, salsa and guacamole.
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/turkey-and-spinach-taquitos-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback
Potato Crusted Halibut
So, I haven’t made this yet, but after we finish eating all of our Thanksgiving leftovers, I’m definitely trying this out! We always need to eat more fish, and I love finding new ways to make fish in different ways. Gareth and I probably eat fish about 3 times a week on average. It’s easy, delicious, and is so good for you.
2 tablespoons dried herbs, and combination (I like a little rosemary, parsley and thyme)
1 cup instant mashed potato flakes
4 fillets (4 ounces each) halibut or other white fish
Salt and pepper
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water
Vegetable oil for frying
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the herbs and potato flakes and spread on a small plate.
Sprinkle the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Dip one side of fillets in egg mixture and then press into potato mixture. Set on a plate, potato crust up, while oil is heating in a skillet.
Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add about 1/4 inch deep oil. Place fillets in pan, potato side down, and fry to a golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Turn fish fillets over and then place skillet in oven for about 10 minutes, until fillets are cooked through.
Smoky Spice Rubbed Grilled Salmon with Black Beans and Corn
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 lime, juice of
- 4 (6 oz) Alaskan wild pink or chum salmon fillets
- olive oil spray
For the black beans and corn:
- 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups corn (I just thawed frozen corn)
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 3 tbsp finely minced cilantro
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
- kosher salt to taste
Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Squeeze lime juice over salmon then rub in the spices to completely coat; set aside to rest about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 2 minutes; add beans, corn and salt and cook until heated through, about 6 – 8 minutes. Toss in cilantro and lime juice and keep on low heat until ready to serve.
Heat a clean outdoor grill (make sure the grates are clean and lightly oiled) or if cooking indoors a lightly oiled grill pan over high heat. When hot, grill the salmon for about 5 minutes on each side or until the fish is opaque throughout. Serve with black beans, corn and lime wedges.
Trust me this is freaking delicious! I also made some guacamole to go with it. I think I’ve already mentioned how I make the guac, but every time is a little different. This time I did 3 avocados, 1 tomato, 1 huge clove of garlic that I mashed to a paste, lots of cilantro, lemon and lime juice, and some cumin.
Calories: 399 • Fat: 8.7 g • Carb: 41.3 g • Fiber: 8.2 g • Protein: 45.4 g • Sugar: 6.7 g
Sodium: 824.5 mg (without salt)
This is one that I got from my parents. I have made it multiple times and it is so easy and delicious. You have to try it. I also love cooking meals in my slow-cooker because I can get up in the morning, throw all the ingredients into one pot, let it cook all day and when we come home from work, dinner is already made!
- 4 Chicken breasts
- 2 Cans of White Northern Beans
- 6 Cups of Chicken Broth
- 1 small can of Green Chilies
- 2 tsp of Cumin
- 1/2 tsp of Garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp Oregano
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Capers
Put all the ingredients into the slow-cooker. Cook on High for half the day and Low for the other half.. or whatever you want, really. When you get home, shred the chicken with 2 forks and put it back in the pot til you’re ready to eat. Sprinkle on some crushed up tortilla chips, some shredded mozzarella, and fresh parsley, and you’re good to go! You’ll definitely have some leftovers!
Got this one from Giada. Made it last night and it was seriously sooo delicious! Only takes about 30 minutes.
And just remember – this is for 6-8 people, so if you are serving 2-4, lower the portions.
Creamy Caper and Lemon Sauce:
- 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup capers, drained and chopped
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 thin-cut pork chops
For the Creamy Caper and Lemon Sauce: Combine the mascarpone and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Slowly add the milk, stirring as you go, until all the milk is incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Set aside. (I added all the lemon juice of the lemon as well. Then put it in the fridge to chill for a couple hours before coming back to make the pork.)
For the Pork Milanese: Combine the flour and the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a shallow dish and stir together. Crack the eggs into another shallow dish and beat until combined. (I used just one egg because I was making 2 pork chops.) In a third shallow bowl, place the bread crumbs.(I also added Italian seasoning to the Italian bread crumbs.) Season the pork with salt and pepper. Dip the pork, 1at a time first in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs. Warm the vegetable in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot place the breaded pork in the pan. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a serving platter and serve with the sauce alongside.
- 1 pound of Tilapia (You can buy the frozen tilapia fillets at Target)
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over the fish fillets and let marinate for 20 minutes.
You will also need:
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons of Chipotle pepper
- 8 corn tortillas
- Shredded cabbage or lettuce
- 1/2 cup corn
- Cilantro leaves
- Lime wedges
Remove the fish from the marinade and grill on a preheated grill or nonstick grill pan over a medium-high heat until cooked thorough, about 3 minutes per side. Set the fish aside on a plate for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, and chipotle pepper.
Heat the tortillas on the grill or grill pan for 30 seconds on each side.
Flake the fish with a fork. Top each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of the chipotle cream. Top with fish, cabbage, corn and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
AND…. I made some yummy guacamole to go with the tacos. Just mix together 2 avocados, 1/4 red onion, 1 small tomato, cilantro, lime juice and garlic powder to taste!
- 1/2 cup Butter
- 1/2 cup Smucker’s® Creamy Natural Peanut Butter, stirred
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 30-40 foil-wrapped milk chocolate pieces, unwrapped
2. STIR together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Beat on low speed until stiff dough forms.
3. SHAPE into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. BAKE 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
5. TOP each cookie immediately with a chocolate piece, pressing down firmly so that cookie cracks around edge. Remove from cookie sheets to cool.
Traditional Eggnog – my FAVORITE!
Traditional Eggnog Ingredients
12 eggs, separated
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy/ thickened cream
2 cups bourbon
1+ 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
Traditional Eggnog Directions
In a large bowl and using a mixer, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for approx 10 minutes (you want the mixture to be firm and the colour of butter).
Very slowly, add in the bourbon and brandy – just a little at a time.
When bourbon and brandy have been added, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge (for up to 6 hours, depending on how long before your party you’re making the eggnog).
30 minutes before your guests arrive, stir the milk into the chilled yolk mixture.
Stir in 1+ 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture.
After ladling into cups, garnish with the remainder of the ground nutmeg.
11-8-11: This recipe is from Rachel Ray. I’m not a big fan, but she has some awesome meals. I made this last night and it was a big hit. I changed a couple of things, like adding Italian Sausage, and it made it soo much better. All the changes I made are bolded. Feel free to make it however you like! Tasted so yummy and it was quite easy to make!
- 1 pound small shell pasta
- 3 links of Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 1/2 small to medium yellow onion (I left this out because I hate onions. I used Onion Powder instead)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes, any brand
- 1/2 cup, 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces (I just used dry basil seasoning and also a lot of dry Italian seasoning)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup store bought basil pesto sauce
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water. Add small shell pasta and cook the pasta to al dente doneness which means that the pasta will still have a bite to it or be a little chewy. The pasta will soak up more juice and keep on cooking after we drain it, so we need it to be a little under cooked. The shells will probably cook about 9 or 10 minutes.
Preheat a deep, big skillet or a medium sauce pot over medium heat.
Brown your sausage, and break it up to small pieces with your spatula. Should take about 8-10 minutes. When it is finished, set it aside on a plate covered with 2 paper towels to drain the grease. Wash out your pan so you can make the sauce.
Place garlic on the cutting board and place the flat of your knife on top of each clove. Carefully give the garlic a whack with the palm of your hand to separate the cloves from the skins. Throw out the skins and chop up the garlic. Remember to keep your fingers curled under and the edge of your sharp, chef’s knife tilted slightly away from your body.
(or you can used minced garlic – 1 tsp = 1 clove. Just put it in the pan of olive oil, as it says below. When you can smell the garlic, it is ready to add the tomatoes and other ingredients)
Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan by pouring a slow stream of it twice-around-the-pan. This will be about 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Do not let the oil pour out too fast. You are looking for a slow, steady stream. Add the garlic to the oil. To chop the onion, cut the ends off and cut the whole onion down the center. Wrap half and save it. Cut the other half into thin slices then twist the slices a quarter turn and chop them again. Hold the tip of knife on the cutting board and lift the back of the knife up and down over the onion to make the pieces really small. Add the chopped up onion to the garlic and oil. Cook, stirring a lot, 5 minutes until the onions are mushy and look cooked. (Or just add Onion Powder)
Add the tomatoes to the onions and stir. When the tomatoes come to a bubble, reduce the heat under the sauce to low. Stir in basil pieces to wilt them. (Or stir in dry Basil and dry Italian seasoning.) Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to your taste.
Preheat your broiler to high and place a rack in the center of the oven.
Drain pasta shells. (You’ve probably already done this and set them aside.) Add them to a casserole dish. Add pesto sauce, 1 cup of ricotta cheese and a handful of grated Parmigiano, too. Stir carefully and coat the hot pasta with the pesto and cheeses. Pour the hot tomato and basil sauce over the pasta, as much as you like. You can always serve a little extra at the table, to pass around. Shred up some mozzarella cheese with a grater and scatter it over the pasta. (Or just use mozzarella that is already grated from the store.) Add a final sprinkle of Parmigiano to the mozzarella as well. Place the casserole under the broiler in the middle of oven, 10 to 12 inches from the heat. Let the cheese melt and bubble on top, 3 to 5 minutes.
Sweet & Spicy Greek Meatballs
Got this recipe from “Giada at Home”. Most everything I cook is something new, and these looked particularly yummy, so I had to try them. They don’t take long to cook at all, about 30 minutes total. I also made some spaghetti to go with them, but you can just eat them by themselves. They are so delicious.
- 1 pound ground lamb, or 20-percent fat ground beef (I used beef)
- 1 cup cooked and cooled couscous (see Cook’s Note)
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped – or two teaspoons of minced garlic
- 1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons dried mint (I used Basil instead)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (25-ounce) jar marinara sauce
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cook’s Note: To make 1 cup cooked couscous, bring 1/2 cup water or stock to a boil. Add 1/3 cup uncooked couscous and cover the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
For the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix together the lamb, couscous, scallions, garlic, egg, parsley, olive oil, mint, oregano, salt, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Form the mixture into 15 to 16 (2-inch diameter) meatballs.
For the sauce: Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, cinnamon sticks, and ground cinnamon. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, turning occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a large bowl and serve.