Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Comfort foods are one of the best medicines around. After a long, hard day at work or a bad breakup you could use some cheering up. I know for myself I always resort to a big hearty bowl of pasta. There is just something about it that momentarily eases the pain. The other day I made tacos for myself  due to my intense craving for some. As I was debating what to cook last night for dinner, I had an idea to combine the taco meat with pasta and add lots of cheese. That is some good looking comfort right there. I added some golden raisins to the taco meat for sweetness, capers for some extra saltiness and diced green chilies for that extra zing.. yum. This dish could easily be made into a vegetarian or vegan version with some seitan and vegan cheese
Cheesy taco bake

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 package ground turkey-seitan crumbles for vegetarian
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Original Blend
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon diced green chilies (can)
1 tablespoon grated onion
2 teaspoons capers
4 oz. unsalted tomato salt
2 tablespoons taco sauce
1/4 cup golden raisins 
1 box pasta of choice or gluten free pasta
1/2 cup Mexican shredded cheese blend + 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese or 1 cup Daiya pepperjack shreds for vegan
1. Heat non-stick skillet with olive oil and grab another pot to bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Add turkey to skillet and cook for a couple minutes.
3. Throw in seasonings, chilies and onion. Cook for around 7-9 minutes or until fully brown and cooked through. While cooking, add pasta to boiled water and cook according to package
4. Add capers, raisins, taco and tomato sauce to meat and cook for another 5 minutes.
5. When everything is finished cooking, throw together in casserole dish and add cheese. Mix through and add some extra taco sauce.
6.Place in oven and cook for around 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Everything about BBQ's win me over. I love the atmosphere, fun activities are always a plus, lounging around shooting the breeze and of course the food. Whenever I think of BBQ's, potato salad pops into my head. I am a huge fan of this starchy side, I could probably inhale a pound of it in one sitting. Unfortunately, this isn't the most figure-friendly part of the meal, but it is just so hard to resist! Since I enjoy it so much, I decided to create my own version and let me tell you.. it is full of flavor and absolutely fantastic. I wasn't really sure which direction I was heading when I started making the side, but I knew I wanted it creamy (obviously). I stuck with the basic mayonnaise but added in some sour cream, onion and dill to give it just the pizzazz it needed. Plus I added some bacon and cheese which you could never go wrong with.
Sour cream and onion potato salad

4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken stock-low sodium
2 strips bacon cooked and chopped
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fat free sour cream
1 tablespoon grated onion (grate over the mayo and sour cream)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
2. Place potatoes in a pot and pour stock to cover potatoes. Boil and simmer for around ten minutes.
3.Combine mayo, sour cream, dill and onion in a bowl.
4. When potatoes are finished, throw in freezer for 10 minutes.
5. Chop up bacon and reserve.
6. When potatoes are out of the freezer, combine the dressing. Only mix in around 1/4-1/2 cup, depending how creamy you want it. There will be extra so save it for later use of you could put it out with some chips.
7. Mix in bacon
8. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Last night my brother and I were left to fend for ourselves at dinnertime while our parents were out living it up. My brother wanted something quick and easy so we opted for Thai food. Our family has only ever taken out from one restaurant, but due to recommendations from friends, we decided to try out Lemonleaf Grill. Since my brother isn't a fan of spicy foods, curry and all that good stuff, we made it simple; House fried rice, pad see ew and asparagus with mushrooms. While the dishes were palate friendly, I was longing for more flavor. With the leftover white rice from last night, I cooked up some coconut lime fried rice.. SO GOOD. I wanted to make sure the flavors complimented each other without leaving a bitter taste, so after some research, I scripted my recipe.. and I was not left disappointed!
Veggie-packed coconut lime fried rice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 small onion-diced
1 Fresno chili pepper-ribs and seeds removed and diced
1 egg
few dashes hot sauce
1/4 cup corn
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/3 cup peas
juice 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Heat a skillet with coconut oil until melted. Keep the spoon for later use.
2. Add zest of lime and ginger
3. Cook for a few minutes
4. Add chili pepper and onions
5. cook for ten minutes
6. Make an empty hole in the center of the skillet.
7. Crack egg in small cup and mix together with the same tablespoon you used the coconut oil and add hot sauce.
8. Fill the hole with the egg and scramble.
9. Add corn and cook for 2 minutes.
10. Add rice and mix around for a minute, or until everything is evenly distributed.
11. Add peas and follow with soy sauce. Mix around and cook for a few minutes.
12. Add juice of lime and few more dashes hot sauce. Enjoy!

And dinner from last night:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This heat is driving me crazy. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love summer, more than any other season. If we owned a pool my feelings may be swayed differently towards this heat wave, but nonetheless it's hottttt. Ok on to the more important part-food!
 Mexican is one of those cuisines that is super fun and flavorful, but the price could be overwhelming. Going out to eat with some friends can easily turn into a $30-$45 affair. Yes that's expensive especially for a cheap person like me. However cooking Mexican food could be just as enjoyable, if not more than eating out. Along with choosing which flavors and heat levels to infuse into your dish, the add-ins are the best part.
           My new addiction is tempeh. It is an alternative to meat, gluten free and yummy. It is a great combination with my Mexican favorite- enchiladas. I mean tons of sauce and ooey-gooey cheese-it can't get much better than that. (Ok so I also love Italian food). Since vegetables are my go-to, I figured why not combine them into a meal that is figure-friendly along with being scrumptious.

Tempeh enchiladas-vegetarian


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup corn kernels (preferably fresh)
1 package frozen spinach-thawed and wrung out
1/2 cup onions-chopped
1 package organic tempeh-cut into strips
1 8oz can low-sodium tomato sauce
1 chipotle in adobo-seeded if desired
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. dash seasoning blend
1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend
2 flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Heat olive oil in skillet.
3. Add onions and sauté for 10 minutes
4. Add in corn and cook for another 5 minutes
5. Cook tempeh according to package.
6. Sprinkle garlic powder onto spinach. Add into pan and cook for five minutes.
7. Add tomato sauce, chipotle, cumin and Mrs. Dash seasoning to food processer. Pulse to turn into sauce consistency.
8. Add the vegetable mixture and tempeh into the tortilla and roll it up.
9. Pour the sauce over the tortilla
10. Add cheese and put into oven until cheese melts and bubbles.



Friday, June 28, 2013

There is nothing like reading a book outside while soaking in the sun on a summer's day....Nothing. I mean attempt to do that in the blistery cold weather when December and January roll around, no thank you Sitting by the indoor fireplace roasting marshmallows seems like a much better option. Other than reading outside or swimming in the pool, BBQs and parties are the big event this time of year. And for me, the little appetizers are almost as fun as sipping on a cold margherita or chilled beer.
Yesterday, I created an adorable, tasty starter that is easy to eat with your hand. Yes, hand. No need to grip these babies with both, leaving you room to enjoy a refreshing drink with the other. Behold the zucchini parm coins. These little finger foods are perfect for serving up at any get together. They are simple to make, healthy and full of flavor.
Zucchini Parm coins



 1 zucchini

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash table blend
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 egg whites
few dashes hot sauce

1 8oz can no salt added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon McCormick's minced onion (dried)
mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix together the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, Mrs. Dash Table Blend, Italian seasoning and salt.
3. Cut the zucchini into thin coins.
4. Mix together egg whites and hot sauce
5. Coat in the egg white mixture and cover up the zucchini with the breadcrumbs.
6. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Pop in oven for around 10-12 minutes.
7. For the sauce, mix together the tomato sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and minced onion.
8. Take out and place a dollop of sauce on each of the zucchinis and cover with cheese.
9. Place back in oven for another 3-4 minutes until melted, starting to bubble.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We rarely eat fish in the Ross household, well except when my dad cooks up his paella. After witnessing Rachael Ray put together a black cod smothered with curry sauce yesterday on TV, I needed to give it a try. Let's talk about this sauce for a second, it is creamy, savory and fragrant; if you enjoy curry, this is the dish for you. Andddd I developed my own spice blend! I researched the flavor profiles that make up this palatable powder and formulated them into my own mix. It is delicious! I am very proud of it. If you want to whip up this magnificent fish dish, here is the recipe, and if you are wondering about my spice blend.. this is it:
 Curry spice blend
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt.


Monday, June 24, 2013

For me, the key component to great meatballs is the sauce that is soaked into the meat, creating a delicious, tangy coating. Obviously texture is important as you wouldn't want the meatballs to be tough and dry, making the eating experience less than desirable. I have become addicted to Trader Joe's meatless meatballs. No, I am not a vegetarian, but how could you resist meatballs that are deliciously flavored and not dry at all?
When I noticed how much sodium my bottled tomato sauce contained, I realized that I could simplify this by whipping up my own concoction. We had a tiny can of unsalted tomato sauce in the pantry and after pouring that into a bowl, I added some spices to give the sauce that extra punch of flavor it needed. This sauce is sweeter than your average Ragu, but it is delicious!
Low-sodium tomato sauce
1 8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 heaping teaspoon apple jelly
Mix together the ingredients creating a smooth consistency. Heat up in stove and pour over favorite meatballs. Enjoy!