Thursday, August 25, 2016

Shrimp & Tomato Zoodles

TGIT. We're headed back to Ohio this weekend to celebrate my sister-in-law's wedding shower, and I seriously can't wait for this week to be over. I'm over it.

So for a quick weeknight meal, I recently made this yummy zoodle pasta dish. Zoodles are no match for real pasta, obviously, but for a super healthy, low carb alternative, I'm a fan. To give this dish a little fat and flavor, I've used a few pats of butter which went a long way. You could certainly sub out the zoodles here and just use spaghetti.

Shrimp & Tomato Zoodles

makes 3-4 servings
cook time: 30 minutes active

1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp (raw)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 shallot (diced)
6 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 lemon (juice)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp unsalted butter
olive oil
salt and pepper

for the zoodles
2-3 zucchini (spiralized)
2 tbsp low sodium chicken broth
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start by spiralizing the zucchini. My preference is to use the thinnest zoodle option, but any will work. Spiralize the zucchini and place into a collander. Sprikle with salt and toss to coat. Put the collander over a bowl and let sit 30-60 minutes. This will help draw out some of the liquid in the zucchini. After 30-60 minutes, pat the zoodles dry and set aside. 

As your zoodles drain, get the shrimp started. Sprinkle shrimp with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. Drop in about 1/2 of the shrimp, making sure each shrimp touches the pan on one entire side. Cook for 2 minutes on 1 side, and flip for another 2 so they are browned on both sides. Remove with tongs to a plate. Repeat the process with the other 1/2 of the shirmp. Remove to the plate. 

Lower heat to medium and add additional olive oil. Add shallots, cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic slices and cook for 1 additional minute. Now add tomatoes, lemon juice, chicken broth, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 8 minutes. Add shrimp back in and 1 more tbsp of butter. Let the butter melt, about 30 seconds and remove from heat. 

As the shrimp cooks, you're going to saute your zoodles. In a separate saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add zoodles, 2 tbsp chicken broth, salt and pepper. Let cook for 3-5 minutes. You don't want the zoodles completely soggy, but a little bite left in them. Remove from heat.

Pile up some zoodles on your plate, and pour the shrimp, tomato sauce over top. Finish wish a sprinkling of parmesan. 

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Spicy Shredded Chicken Tacos

Yes, another taco recipe. A shredded chicken one this time. I've made another variations of this recipe here, but I think this one is a little bit better, and definitely a little bit spicier. Thanks to my mom and dad, I had a bunch of fresh peppers from their garden to use in this one. Definitely pretty hot, but if you use 1 poblano as I mention in the recipe, you'll be just fine. 

And finally, a note on chicken tacos. While I am a huge fan of carnitas or any slow cooked pork tacos, shredded chicken tacos take significantly shorter to make, and are so delicious if you make a cook simmering liquid. Okay, that's all. Enjoy.

Spicy Shredded Chicken Tacos
makes enough chicken for ~20 tacos
cook time: 30 min active, 1.5 hr inactive

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion (diced)
6 - 8 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 poblano pepper or 3-4 smaller peppers (mild/med heat)
1 4 oz. can green chilis (diced)
2 chipotles in adobo sauce (diced)
1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (diced)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lime (juice)
spices: cumin, coriander, garlic powder, green/red chili powder
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
olive oil

for the tacos
red cabbage slaw (recipe below)
avocado slices
sour cream or Greek yogurt
corn tortillas (La Tortilla Factory White Corn Tortillas are my fave.)

Give yourself a few hours to make this so the chicken can cook nice and slow. 

Cut the chicken breasts in half and cover in cumin, garlic powder, coriander, green/red chili powder, salt and pepper.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with olive oil. Add half the chicken and brown on one side for 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat, and add remaining chicken to the pan, cooking the same time. Remove all chicken to a plate. 

Lower heat to medium. Add onions and chopped up poblano, can of green chilis, a mix of spices, salt and pepper. Let cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. 

Add in the chipotles with the juice from when you diced them up, diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Add a few more pinches of each spice, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir to combine everything and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add chicken and accumulated juices, and lime juice. Cover and keep over low heat for about 1.5 hours. Shred the chicken directly in the pot, it will fall apart. Let simmer, covered, for 10 more minutes once shredded.

Serve on warm tortillas with your favorite taco toppings. My toppings for this taco included fresh avocado, cilantro, Greek Yogurt and a homemade quick slaw... see below. 

for the red cabbage slaw

1/4 head purple cabbage (grated on mandolin)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
2 green onions (finely sliced)
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes before serving. 

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Eggplant Lasagna (no pasta!)

Eggplant is at the farmer's market now, and what the heck to do with it. My sister recently bought some at one of her local markets, but had to skip town before she could use it. So, hand me down eggplant ended up in my kitchen. 

One night this week I can home from work around 6 and really wanted a home cooked meal, and to use up these eggplants before they went bad. In about 20 minutes depending on your multitasking abilities and knife skills, this baby will be in the oven. There are so many reasons I loved this dish. Easy and fast to make. Low carb. Easy clean up. Really, so delicious. Leftovers!

No Pasta Eggplant Lasagna
makes 4-6 servings

1 yellow onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp dried Italian oregano
1 large purple eggplant (thinly sliced)
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Make your sauce first, and then prep everything else. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Add onions and let cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, crushed red pepper flakes , and cook for 1 minute. Now add the whole can of crushed tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. As the sauce simmers, slice up the eggplant, into 1/4 inch slices. If they're too thick they won't cook. Grease a square or other small baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil. 

Now, begin the layering process as follows:
Layer 1: Sauce to coat the bottom, 5-6 eggplant slices, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, pepper
Layer 2: 5-6 eggplant slices, sauce, cottage cheese, Parmesan, salt, pepper
Layer 3: 5-6 eggplant slices, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, pepper
Layer 4: 5-6 eggplant slices, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, pepper

If you have extra ingredients, and your dish allows it, go ahead and make another layer. The top layer should finish with cheese though!

Cover the dish with foil and pop into the oven for 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, remove the foil and let cook for another 10-15 minutes. 

Remove and let cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve with extra parmesan and don't leave any sauce behind in the pan!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Better Pictures & White Bean Artichoke Dip

Noticed my pictures getting better lately? I'm not bragging, just kind of stating the obvious. The reason: my kitchen isn't a dark cave anymore + I have outdoor space. Natural light! It's so much easier to take good pictures when you have natural light. I struggled for years to take good pictures for a few reasons. Let me take you through my journey. 

2011 - 2012: Pictures on an iPhone 4 or a snap and shoot camera from college. Boo. 
2012 - 2013: New DSLR camera, yay! Literally no clue how to use it.
2014 - 2015: Knew what I was doing wrong, but had no access to natural light. No photo editing.
2016: I have a good camera and lens. Have tons of natural light to work with at my new house. And... I started using some editing software. Blair from The Fox & She wrote an article last year about good, affordable editing software and I tried it out. Its crazy how much better edited pictures look... duh. Thanks for that Blair!
2016 - beyond: Food styling progress. Better pictures. Update my blog to a new platform. Someday...

So, if you're a professional photographer you probably think my pictures are shit. I'm sure they are. But, 5 years later I'm glad to say they aren't horendous and I feel proud of them! Here's to a continued and evolving journey of my favorite hobby. Food blogging.

White Bean Artichoke Dip
makes enough for a party

15.5 oz can cannellini beans (drained)
14 oz can artichoke hearts (drained, rough chop)
2 tbsp tahini
1 lemon (juice + 1/2 zest)
1 clove garlic (whole)
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

for dipping
pita crackers/chips
warm pita bread
fresh veggies

In a food processor, add the cannellini beans, tahini and garlic clove. Pulse until smooth, for 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides as necessary (with the blade off obviously).

In a medium mixing bowl, add chopped artichoke hearts, juice from a whole lemon and half the zest, Greek yogurt, olive oil, and cayenne pepper. Pour in the cannellini bean mix. Mix everything to combine, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a serving bowl with a drizzle of olive oil on top and some freshly grated pepper. I served mine with my favorite pita crackers from Trader Joes. You could also serve with fresh veggies like carrots and cucumbers, or warm pita bread.

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