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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Healthy Shrimp Scampi

I have been craving shrimp recently... and by recently I mean in the last few months. Oddly enough I've never been a shrimp lover until that recent craving began and now I can't get enough of it. So when I was looking through the fridge for dinner the other night and saw I had some frozen shrimp, I knew that was going to be the star of the show in my next big dinner.
Like most of my recipes, this one was super easy and healthy! I used quinoa as opposed to angel hair pasta (quinoa is now my boyfriend's favorite word), and left out the butter and heavy salt. To give it a little extra kick and avoid being bland, I added some cayenne pepper to the shrimp. The cayenne pepper mixed with the lemon zest added a little zing to every bite, which I always appreciate.

I really can't even say enough good things about this recipe. It came together nicely, was filling without needing seconds and just tasted so darn good. Only thing missing was more shrimp... but that can easily be fixed next time around.

Wine recommendation: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (my personal favorite)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Healthy Shrimp Scampi
Serves 4

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound frozen shrimp
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1.5 teaspoons cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
Cayenne pepper for taste
Italian seasoning for taste
1 cup quinoa

  1. Prepare the quinoa following the directions on the package.
  2. Prepare your red bell pepper, asparagus and lemon zest.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Cook vegetables, lemon zest, and salt/pepper in skillet for about 6 minutes until softened. Remove from heat and place in a bowl and cover.
  5. While vegetables are cooking, mince the cloves of garlic.
  6. Mix the cornstarch and chicken broth in a bowl until smooth.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and garlic to the pan, cooking and stirring for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the shrimp to the mix and cook for 2 minutes covered.
  8. Add the cayenne pepper and remaining salt, stir and cover again for a minute. Add broth mixture to the pan, bring to a boil and stir until sauce thickens.
  9. When sauce is at desired thickness and shrimp is cooked all the way through, remove from pan and add to bowl of vegetables.
  10. Mix thoroughly and add italian seasoning and lemon juice.
  11. Serve the vegetables, shrimp, and sauce over quinoa.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

This recipe and blog post comes from my sister, Shannon. She made this for her first dinner party at the home she just bought with her fiance.

I was one of the lucky ones in attendance so I can attest that this was a great meal. I can't eat peppers, so I just had the stuffing on taco shells, but everyone else seemed please with them and I can see why! Stuffed peppers always seem to be a crowd pleaser, but the stuffing in this version is so much tastier than the traditional version (at least in my opinion).

Shannon said it was very easy to make, but she had difficulty choosing what sides to go with it. Instead of stuffing the peppers with rice, she used that as a side and made some steamed broccoli. Next go around she wants go add a clove or two of garlic and see what kind of flavor that will add to the dish. She would also recommend browning the peppers in the saute pan with the onions for a few minutes. The peppers would have been better if they were crispier.

The great thing about this meal is how well they heat up for leftovers. She had one for lunch the next day and said it was like eating it the first time around.

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Serves 3-4

1/2 lb lean ground turkey breast
1 cup chopped onions
1 heaping tbsp of homemade taco seasoning (or you can use the packaged type if you like)
2 cups of cooked rice (any type you like – I like brown)
3-4 bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
½ cup of frozen corn
1 small jar of salsa
olive oil 
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (for topping)
sliced avocado (for topping)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in a baking dish about 20-25 minutes just until cooked through.
  3. Prepare the rice.
  4. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.
  5. Cook turkey until it is slightly browned (also can do this ahead of time to cut down on time).
  6. Saute onions until they are cooked through and translucent.
  7. In a bowl add the taco seasoning, cooked ground turkey, chopped onions, black beans, corn and rice. Add in the jar of salsa and mix well.
  8. Carefully spoon the turkey mixture into each half of the bell peppers and place back into the baking dish.
  9. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are cooked all the way through.
  10. Before removing from the oven sprinkle the tops of each pepper with shredded cheddar cheese.
  11. Place back into the oven just until the cheese has melted.
  12. Remove from the oven and top with avocado slices and/or sour cream just before serving.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sunday Funday Surf & Turf

The weather this weekend in New Jersey was unbearable (unless you were at the shore, where I hear it was lovely)! It was so hot and humid outside that you instantly felt like a sweaty mess upon walking out the front door.

But the sun was shining, a trip to the grocery store (and random stop at a winery) was made, and my boyfriend was hungry... so it was time to grill.

Earlier in the week we saw Paula Dean make a surprisingly healthy meal on her Food Network show for grilled tuna steaks. It made our mouth water so on our weekly trip to the grocery store, we decided to splurge and buy a tuna steak and filet mignon and go to town on the grill.

My boyfriend is the grill master. I am not even allowed near it to flip a burger, let alone man it, so this meal was pretty much made by him. I did all the prep work -- made the aioli, sliced and set up the potatoes for grilling. Everything else just had to be thrown on the grill.

This meal was the perfect ending to a fun weekend spent with friends and the Phillies (even though they suck right now). It gives you a great reason to sit outside with a glass/bottle of wine, set up the speakers to blast some country music and just spend some quality time with the one you love before starting a hectic week at work.

Grilled Tuna Steaks/Filet Mignon
  1. Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Lightly season the filet with your favorite rub.
  2. Grill filet to medium rare about 4-5 minutes each side.
  3. Grill the tuna steaks about 2 minutes each side so that it turns white, but still has a line of pink throughout the center.
  4. Sprinkle some sugar onto lemon halves and grill them face down so they caramelize.
  5. Lemon can be juiced over the tuna steak.
Grilled Potatoes
  1. Slice potatoes (Russet, Idaho) to be about 1 inch thick.
  2. Lay them in a tin foil bed and sprinkle with fresh minced garlic or garlic powder, Italian seasoning and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Cover up with tin foil and grill for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover for the last 5-7 minutes so they brown.
Aioli
  1. Mix 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with minced garlic (2 cloves), half a juiced lemon, chives, salt and pepper.
  2. Refrigerate for a half hour before serving.