Chicken Fried Quinoa

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Last weekend I was debating what to make for dinner and growing hangrier (angry+hungry) by the minute. Seeing as it was damn near 100 degrees outside, I knew I wasn’t going to use the oven — AKA turn our house into the seventh circle of Hell — and there was no way I was going to stand over the inferno that is our grill.

I halfheartedly opened the fridge, fully expecting we would be ordering takeout when lo and behold — Quinoa! I try to keep a batch of plain quinoa in the fridge for occasions such as this, but more often than not I end up eating plain quinoa for all three meals….because I’m lazy.

Anyways, I surveyed the rest of my fridge and saw a smattering of veggies and leftover Asian grilled chicken from the night before and I knew right away I was going to make chicken fried quinoa.

Quick, easy, and delicious — this recipe will satisfy your cravings for flavor-packed fried rice, but without the guilt…or the MSG.

So let’s get cooking!

INGREDIENTS
3 C. cooked quinoa (preferably a day or two old)
Small white onion, diced
1 C. carrot, diced
2/3 C. frozen peas, thawed & drained
1/2 C. bean sprouts
2-3 green onions, chopped
2 large eggs
1 C. chopped or shredded chicken (I used leftover Asian grilled chicken and it was perfect!)
2 Tbs. canola oil
3Tbs. + 1/2 tsp. soy sauce (low sodium if available)
1 Tbs. teryaki sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil

DIRECTIONS
Add canola oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot and rippling, add chopped white onion. Stir fry for 6-8 minutes or until onions just begin to brown.

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Add chopped carrots to pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Once carrots have softened just slightly, add chicken and peas to pan. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes or until warmed through.

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Add quinoa to pan and stir to combine. Warm through.

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In a small bowl combine eggs, 1/2 tsp. soy sauce and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Beat eggs until combined.

When quinoa is mixed in and warm, push everything to one side of the pan. Add beaten eggs to the other side of the pan and scramble until cooked firm.

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Once egg is cooked, mix together with quinoa and drizzle in remaining soy and teriyaki sauce. Stir to combine.

Using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula, firmly pack down quinoa mixture, creating a flat top. Let cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, then stir and repeat 5-6 times. This step is CRUCIAL to getting that delicious charred flavor of fried rice.

Add green onions and bean sprouts to the quinoa before you pack it down the last time. This way they will be warm, but still crisp.IMG_2926

We had this by itself for dinner, but it would be a great compliment to any Asian dish!

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Until next time,

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Hey Misses DJ | Cheerleader

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Truth be told, I love music more than most things.

I am a proud choir nerd and alumni of musical theater. I have been known to break out in song at any given moment and chances are I could kick your booty at “Name That Tune”.

Even though I never realized my dream of becoming a professional opera singer or the 6th member of the Spice Girls, I still love music with a deep, deep passion. I believe music to be the purest form of therapy – capable of changing a mood, invoking an emotion, or recalling a memory.

For these reason I’ve decided to create a new segment dedicated to all things music….Hey Misses DJ! (Because yes, women can be DJs, and I’m progressive like that)

Most likely these posts will just be whatever song(s) I’m jamming (or crying) to that week, but you never know where things could lead!

For this inaugural week I’ve decided to post what is quickly becoming my jam for Summer 2015. Cheerleader by OMI is absolutely on repeat in my house right now. Those trumpets. That drum line. That sweet Jamaican soul. I LOVE IT! If this doesn’t make you want to dance then we just can’t be friends.

So here you go, the first installment of Hey Misses DJ! Get up & shake that booty kids!

Until next time friends,

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Shrimp Ceviche


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I’m a big fan of seafood, more specifically, shellfish.

Crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, oysters, etc – I want them all! But my absolute favorite thing in the whole wide world is ceviche. Delicious, spicy, salty, ceviche.

I mean, it’s basically seafood salsa, what’s not to love?

Traditionally, ceviche is made by combining raw seafood with lime juice and fresh veggies. The acid from the lime actually “cooks” the fish and brings out some amaaaazing flavors. But, unless you are catching your own shrimp or buying fresh from a reputable market, I would not suggest “cooking” the fish via lime juice – you just don’t know what those little guys have been doing or who they’ve been doing it with….

This presents a problem to those of us who do not have either: A) a private fishing boat  or B) enough dollar bills to fly in the catch of the day. (If you have either of these things, call me, we should be friends)

Since I’m neither a fisherman (fisherwoman?) nor a millionaire, I have devised a delicious ceviche recipe using good ol’ Costco frozen shrimp. Instead of cooking the shrimp in the lime juice, this recipe lightly poaches them in hot water before they join everyone else in the pool.

Even if it’s not quite authentico,this ceviche is still muy delicioso! I minored in Spanish in college and this is the best I can do. Lo Siento.

DISCLAIMER: In my excitement to make ceviche at home I didn’t bother to make sure I had all the traditional ingredients on hand. I did some improvising and I was pleasantly surprised by the end result. I would definitely suggest playing around with ingredients and flavors — you really can’t go wrong! 

SHRIMP CEVICHE
Ingredients
10-12 raw large shrimp, deveined & tails removed
2 Tbs. shallot, finely diced (if you don’t have shallots, sub red or purple onion)
1/4 C. Jicama, diced
1/4 C. Red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 C. Yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 C. Cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 large clove garlic, minced or grated
1 Tbs. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Place frozen shrimp in a bowl of cold water to thaw – replacing water 1-2 times as needed. When thawed, remove any shells or tails still intact.

On the stovetop, bring 2 C. water to a light boil. When water is just barely boiling add the shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes or until opaque. Remove shrimp from pot and pat dry with paper towel. Set aside to cool.

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While shrimp is cooking prep and chop your veggies. I had some already sliced jicama in the fridge so it was a last minute addition, but a delicious one!

When shrimp has cooled, roughly chop into bite size pieces — this should be about 1 C. of shrimp

In a medium bowl combine shrimp with shallot, garlic, jicama, tomato, peppers, and cilantro. Squeeze lime juice over mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to incorporate ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp. sea salt and 1 tsp. cracked black pepper).IMG_2845

Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

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Serve with crispy tortilla chips and dig in!

Until next time friends,

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Sufferin’ Summer Succotash

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Last weekend the hubs and I ventured out to the farmer’s market and later stopped to have lunch with my MIL and a few friends. While I can say it was probably the absolute WORST service I’ve ever encountered dining out, the food was so so tasty! After perusing the BBQ and meat-centric menu, I opted for a roasted beet sandwich and lil side o’ succotash.

You guys.

The roasted beet sandwich was delicious yes, but the succotash?!

It. Was. So. Good.

I made a vow right then and there that I would concoct my own version of this southern staple at home and by god, my husband was going to eat it, and he was going to like it!

Now, my husband can be an adventurous eater….when he feels like it. He will try most things, but when it comes to veggies he’s not quite convinced unless they are swimming in ranch dressing.

So what was a gal to do?

Duh. Cook the veggies in bacon fat.

I’m very proud to report that not only did my hubby eat his succotash, he didn’t even feel the need to drown it in ranch or hot sauce….a significant indicator of whether or not he finds something “edible”. I’m gonna chalk this one up as a win for me — and vegetables everywhere.

SUMMER SUCCOTASH
Ingredients
2 C. frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
1 3/4 C. frozen lima beans, cooked to package directions (I would suggest slightly under cooking the lima beans as they will continue to cook in the pan and can get mushy when overdone)
1 C. yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 C. cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
4 pieces bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar (white or cider vinegars also work)
1 1/2 Tbs. parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
1. Starting with a cold pan on the stove top, cook the bacon to your preferred doneness (Starting with a cold pan allows the bacon fat to render slower and will leave more tasty goodness in the pan for later). Remove cooked bacon from pan and set aside to drain on a paper towel. Reserve bacon fat in pan.

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2. While bacon is cooking, prep and chop your veggies. Onion and bell pepper should be about the same size dice so everything cooks evenly in the pan. (the corn and lima beans should be as dry as possible so after they are thawed and drained, I like to spread them on a paper towel to dry)

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3. Add onion and crushed red pepper to pan with hot bacon grease and cook for 3-5 minutes or until onions begins to brown slightly. Next, add in chopped red bell pepper and garlic. Cook for 1 minute more.

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4. Add corn and lima beans to the pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes until incorporated. Using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula, gently press mixture down, creating a flat even top. Let cook undisturbed for 1-2 minutes, then stir and repeat. By pressing the mixture down you should get some really nice char marks on the veggies — making the succotash tastier and prettier.

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5. Once veggies are charred to your liking, add the chopped cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon, parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper to your liking. Stir to coat and cook for 1-2 minutes until warmed through.

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Sprinkle with a little more parsley and dig in!

We served ours up with some good ol’ fashion BBQ chicken and had ourselves a southern feast!

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Until next time friends,

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Resting B**** Face and The Workplace

As many of my close family and friends know, I am afflicted by what is commonly know as Resting Bitch Face. What this means, in essence, is that I constantly look pissed off. As far as first impressions go, I’ve been told many-a-time that people were either afraid of me or assumed I was a snotty beezy.

Sorry kids, that’s just ma face.

Truly, it’s never bothered me to hear people say I come off as intimidating. I want you to be intimidated, I’m awesome! But, I’m also shy and reserved when the situation calls for it, like when I’m at work. I would say I am a very toned down version of my usual self at work, and perhaps this coupled with my RBF strikes some people as unfriendly? I don’t know.

Currently I work in an office that has windows all around that look out onto the floor of my workplace. Everyone on the staff passes by my desk/windows multiple times a day and when I’m not busy I try to acknowledge everyone and say hi, because that’s polite and my momma raised me right! But just this last week a male coworker of mine felt the need to come into my office (without knocking I might add) and inform me that I “Need to Smile More”. Naturally I stared blankly back at him (in full RBF mode) and simply asked, “Why?”

Now some might think my response was rude, but then I ask you the same question…Why? Why do I need to smile? I was not hired for this position because I have the world’s best teeth. Nowhere in my job description does it say MUST SMILE AT ALL TIMES. Whether or not I smile has absolutely no effect whatsoever on my ability to perform my job. So why do you care?

My coworker was initially flustered by my flatline response, but he quickly recovered and went on to say, “Oh — well — the other guys were asking me why you’re so mad. I said you were just concentrating hard.” I was able to manage a weak “Ha ha, nope I’m fine” in response, but I sat there fuming about it for the next several hours.

Who do you think you are, that you can just barge into my office and basically tell me my facial expression is not appealing to you? That I must be concentrating hard, otherwise I would be sitting here with some shit eating grin on my face.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that if I were a MALE, you would NEVER even dream of saying that to me. I guarantee no male has ever approached another male coworker and said, “You know what Bob, the guys and I were talking about your face (read: body) and we’ve all decided you should smile more for our own entertainment!” Because let’s be honest, that’s really what he was saying. We don’t like looking at your (female) face if it’s not smiling, so do us all a favor and smile, honey.

Ugh.

Until next time friends, wear that RBF proudly!

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Skinny Girl Shrimp Yakisoba

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Today we’re talking about a slimmed-down version of Yakisoba. Traditionally, this Japanese dish is made with buckwheat or ramen noodles. However, in this version I’m cutting the carbs and the dreaded gluten (gasp!) by using my new favorite cooking staple, drumroll please…shirataki noodles.

photo 1With a name like Pasta Zero, it has to be good, right!?

Shirataki noodles are typically made from yams or tofu and are the perfect pasta substitute for those of us watching our calories. They come in serval different varieties like fettuccine, angel hair, or spaghetti (which is what I used for this recipe) and can be found in almost every major grocery store – usually in the produce section near the tofu.

While they are perfectly safe to eat directly from the packaging, it is best to drain and rinse them first. WARNING: these little noods are packed in water and can have a somewhat off-putting smell. I’ve found the best way to combat the smell is to boil them in chicken/veggie stock for a few minutes and then rinse and drain again. It may sound tedious, but c’mon, it’s guilt-free pasta!  Trust me, it’s worth it.

With that said, let’s get cooking!

INGREDIENTS
2 8oz packages of Shirataki spaghetti
10-12 large raw shrimp, deveined & tails removed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 small crown broccoli, shopped
1/3 C. button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 head (or one small head) green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

FOR THE SAUCE
1/3 C. low sodium soy sauce
1/3 C. worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. ketchup
1 Tbs. Sriracha
1 tsp. chives

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring a small saucepan of chicken/veggie stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove shirataki spaghetti from packaging and rinse with cold water in a colander. Place noodles in boiling stock and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water and set aside.

2. While noodles are simmering, chop and prep your veggies and prepare sauce. For sauce combine soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, sriracha and chives in a small bowl and whisk until ketchup dissolves. Set aside.

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3. Heat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat and add 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Once oil is warmed through, add the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until shrimp are just barely opaque. remove shrimp from pan and set aside to cool.

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4. Increase heat to medium-high and to that same skillet add the additional 1 Tbs. of olive oil and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Once oil is hot, add crushed red pepper and sauté for a few minutes to bring out the heat. Add minced garlic and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant, but not brown.

photo 5This will be sure to elicit an excited “What’s for dinner?” from anyone in the house

5. Add onion, carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms and cabbage to the pan. Stir-fry for 5-7 minutes or until veggies have wilted, but are still slightly firm. ( To keep its crunch, I usually wait 3 or so minutes before adding the cabbage).

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6. Once veggies are wilted, add the noodles and shrimp back in to the skillet.

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7. Slowly stir in the sauce and toss to combine. Cook for additional 2-3 minutes or until everything is warmed through.

8. Turn off heat and sprinkle cilantro over the top of the dish.

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Serve immediately & enjoy!

photo 5A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds makes for a pretty presentation and extra texture. Yum! 

Until next time friends,

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Portobello Lasagna Cups

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Lately I’ve been on a crusade to get back to eating right. I struggled with my diet over the holiday season and now my waistline is paying for it. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to eat “clean” and cut out the junk food the fat kid inside of my craves, but let’s be honest, there’s only so many salads one gal can eat.

I was craving something more substantial that wouldn’t undo all my hard work at the gym. After surveying my veggie-stocked fridge, I came up with this little gem! This meat-less recipe was a snap to throw together and it has all the delicious flavors of lasagna, but without the guilt of pasta and unnecessary carbs.

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna Cups
INGREDIENTS
2 large portobello mushroom caps
1/2 C non-fat greek yogurt
1/4 C (combined) shredded mozzarella & shredded parmesan cheese
1/5 C fresh spinach, chopped
2 Tbs plain bread crumbs
1 egg white
1 tsp garlic powder
1tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 C prepared marinara (I prefer Prego Heart Healthy)
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a spoon, gently scrape out the gills of the mushrooms. Brush both sides of mushrooms with olive oil, lightly salt and pepper both sides.

2. Place mushroom caps on a baking sheet, cap side down, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Once tender, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

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3. While mushrooms cook, prepare filling by combining; greek yogurt, egg white, spinach, shredded cheeses, bread crumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, and basil.

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4. After mushrooms have cooled, use a paper towel to blot any moisture from inside of cap before assembling.

5. To assemble, spread a layer of prepared red sauce in mushroom caps, followed by a layer of the greek yogurt filling. Top with one more layer of red sauce and finish with a sprinkle of cheese.

6. Return mushroom caps to the oven and back for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and all ingredients are warmed through.

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I saved a few more carbs by serving the portobello cups on a bed of spaghetti squash. Perfection!

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Guilt free, good for you, and so very tasty!

Until next time friends,

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