Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Simple Recipes: Tuna Sandwiches

Simple recipes use kitchen staples to make quick and easy meals. It’s almost lunch time and I know I don’t want to have the same old tuna sandwich. Here’s three delicious ways to upgrade your traditional tuna with ingredients that are already sitting next to your cans of tuna or hiding in the fridge!

Basil-Pesto Tuna on Toasted Swirl Bread
4 slices of Pumpernickel-Rye Bread
6oz can of tuna in water
1-2 tablespoons of basil pesto (I use the Classico brand in a jar)
salt & pepper to taste

First, drain the tuna. Then, in a small bowl mix pesto and tuna together; make larger pieces of tuna smaller by flaking with the fork. Meanwhile, toast the bread in the toaster. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, place on bread and serve.

Open-Faced Tuna Melt
2 English muffins
¼ cup green onions (chopped)
¼ cup mayo
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 can of tuna in water (drained)
4 slices of tomato
½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Cut English muffins in half and lightly toast, set aside. In a bowl combine onions, mayo, Worcestershire, horseradish, mustard, red pepper flakes and tuna, mix well. Turn on oven to Broil. Place muffins halves on baking sheet and top with tuna mixture, tomato slice and sprinkle cheese on top. Place in oven and heat for 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Sourdough bread slices
1 can of white tuna (drained)
6 tablespoons of mayo
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon dried onion flakes
¼ teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon dried dill
dash of garlic powder

In a bowl combine tuna, mayo, cheese, and onion flakes together. Add curry powder, dill, and garlic powder, mix well. Serve on sourdough bread, I like to toast mine first, and enjoy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Turkey-Ricotta Pasta Bake

I often have days when I get home from the office and just don't feel like doing all the prep work for a meal. Thankfully I have a few dishes that I can prepare ahead of time that I can just heat and eat! I love pasta dishes because they are very filling and nutritious. This next recipe I make at least three times a month, it's easy filling and a big hit. I didn't even get to take a picture before it was devoured up!

Ingredients you will need:
- olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves or 1 tbsp minced
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced (OPTIONAL)
- 1/2 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 cup-3/4 cup jarred basil tomato pasta sauce
- 3/4 cup of whole wheat penne pasta
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Italian mix cheese

Heat oil in pan over med-high heat, saute garlic (and onion). Add ground turkey and cook until brown and crumbly, break up the larger chunks. Mix in sauce with the meat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat boiling water with a pinch of salt, add pasta. Cook for about 6 minutes, you don't want to cook it any longer since it will be baked. After pasta has been drained add to meat sauce, stir in ricotta cheese and mix it all together. Grease a loaf pan, then add pasta mixture, top with shredded cheese. *I make all this part ahead of time, that way I can come home from the office and just place it in the oven, but it can be baked immediately as well. * Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees :)

Money saving tip: I use leftover sauce, this last time I had a 1/2 cup vodka and 1/4 cup spicy basil and just added them both it was very flavorful and I didn't have to open a brand new jar.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Better Safe than Sorry: Kitchen Staples

There are some things that you should always have in at your house…the little black dress, a flashlight, an umbrella, a pair of jeans, you know the basics. That same rule also applies towards your kitchen; there are some items you should always have on hand. I’ve compiled a short list of items that should be in your pantry. You might already have these but I figured I would share them with you so you can have a master list of these ‘must-haves’ of the pantry. Always remember to purchase when they are on sale, and stock up so you save money. For a great deal on spices go to the bulk stores (Sam’s, Costco, etc) they usually have restaurant size containers of spices for right around $3.

· olive oil
· vegetable oil
· balsamic Vinegar
· red wine vinegar
· kosher salt
· black pepper
· sea salt
· cayenne pepper
· chili powder
· red pepper flakes
· oregano
· thyme
· nutmeg
· rosemary
· ground cinnamon
· paprika
· chicken broth
· jarred pasta sauces (get both red and white)
· canned tuna
· canned beans (kidney and/or black)
· rice (white and/or brown)
· pasta (stick with the basics: ziti, linguini, spaghetti, macaroni)
· flour
· white sugar
· garlic (I use the already minced in a jar, last longer and the work is done for you)
· white wine
· red wine
· potatoes
· onions
· butter
· milk
· eggs
· dijon mustard
· cheese (choose a variety)
· lemon
· lime
· chicken breast
· ground beef or turkey
· bread

A few tips:

-usually you can find coupons for McCormick’s grinders or get them BOGO for the sea salt & blk pepper
-olive oil, pasta and pasta sauces are often BOGO at the groccery stores
-use coupons on tuna, pasta sauces, and pasta.
-remember the wine can be the cheap stuff, if it’s just for cooking
-buy meats at bulk clubs seperate into 1 or 2 lbs and freeze :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dressed Up Zucchini

I LOVE zucchini! It is one of my favorite veggies and I love buying it fresh from the local farmers at the market. It's a great summer vegetable that is easy to find fresh and even though zucchini season is May-August, most grocery stores have it available year round. This recipe is my favorite side dish, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Dressed-Up Zucchini

Here's what you need to make it:
two zucchini
salt and pepper
olive oil
minced garlic
sun-dried tomatoes
fresh basil
feta cheese

Slice zucchini down the middle, cut top and bottom ends of off, then slice off soft seed core. Place zucchini cut side up and sprinkle with salt, set aside for a couple minutes. Dice the sundried tomatoes and basil. Blot water off zucchini and cut into diagonal slices. Next, heat oil in pan over medium heat then add garlic (you can add as much as you want) and zucchini. Saute until zucchini starts to brown. Take off heat and toss in tomatoes, basil, and feta. Season with salt and pepper before serving. (serves 4)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cheat Dishes: Quick and Easy Recipes

Usually I prefer to cook using all fresh ingredients but there are certain days when you just don't have the time to cook a labor entensive meal. When that's the case you should use items you have on hand or require a quick stop at the deli. These are my top three favorites and are delicious!

Cheater Lasagna
26-oz jar of pasta sauce (I used tomato-vodka sauce, since I had extra)
bag of frozen ravalio (the square kind)
small box of frozen chopped spinach,
1 bag shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (it's usually next to the fresh pasta section)

Heat oven to 350° F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Meanwhile, thaw and squeeze the water out of the spinach. Spoon in a third of the sauce onto the bottom of the dish. Place ravioli on top and scatter the spinach over them, top with half of each cheese. Add with another layer of ravioli and the remaining sauce and cheese, if you still have extra room continue layering. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 to 10 minutes more or until bubbly.

Cheater Cheese Pizza
a frozen cheese pizza
1/4 cup store-bought pesto
1/2 cup ricotta

Gently spread the pesto over the frozen pizzas. Place a couple spoonfuls of the ricotta on top then cook according to the package directions.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich
rotisserie chicken (should equal 4-5 cups)
honey barbecue sauce (1-2 cups depending on amount of chicken)
hamburger buns

Shred the chicken in a bowl and add bbq sauce, mix well. Place spoonfuls of meat onto buns and serve, how easy is that :) For extra flavor try the mojo chicken or a spicy bbq sauce, I used Bull's Guinness Sauce.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Update: Something New

My neighbor started brewing beer out of his kitchen earlier this year, and yesterday I finally got to sample some. It was delicious, reminded me of the Japanese beer, Kirin with a honey taste to it. Well, he has over six varieties and this beer sampling party got us thinking that maybe we should have a joint post once a week paring his beers to my recipes, and using our neighbors and friends as our tasters. We are planning on doing this tomorrow, so the post will be on Thursday. Be ready for a delicious honey teriyaki pork chops plus some mystery sides and appetizers!

I wanted to know what other types of beer, wine, or alcohol you would like to see and I will prepare a menu with recipies to pair with it :)

(image found on

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sundried Tomato Scramble

This past Saturday morning I wanted to cook something light and healthy for breakfast, however Monday's are my grocery day and I was running low on supplies. I opened my fridge to find sun dried tomatoes, eggs, a little bit of milk, and a container of the Parmesan cheese I had shredded earlier this week. I have an addiction to sun dried tomatoes, I just love them so I decided to add them to my usual scramble for a healthy twist, and that is how this recipe was born!

To make Sun dried Tomato Scramble you need:
2 eggs
splash of milk
handful of sun dried tomatoes
salt and pepper
2 slice of wheat toast
Parmesan cheese

Chop the sun dried tomatoes into small pieces. Next, in a small bowl whisk the eggs, milk, and sun dried tomatoes together, season with salt & pepper. Heat skillet and add butter to the pan. Add eggs and continue stirring until they get nice and fluffy. Meanwhile put the bread in a toaster. The eggs and toast should finish about the same time, when done add mayo to the toast and top with eggs. Finish with a sprinkle or pile of cheese depending how cheesy you want it. This makes two delicious servings!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pork Loin with Rosemary & White Beans

I made this yummy meal right out of the Just Three Steps cookbook. It's very simple to make and serves two people for under $10 which is an even better bonus.

What you need to make this Pork Loin with Rosemary White Beans:
2 Boneless Pork Loin chops (most come packaged with at least 4)
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
Butter (like a tablespoon)
Clove of garlic
Rosemary (a generous pinch, chopped)
One can of Cannelini beans (White beans)

Season the chops with salt and pepper, rub with oil. Heat skillet over medium-heat and cook chops for 5 minutes on each side. Reduce heat and cover pan, cook for 10 minutes turning once. Meanwhile heat butter, garlic, and rosemary in small saucepan over medium heat. Add all but about 3 tablespoons of beans and moisten with a splash of water. Stir to heat, then mash with a wooden spoon, season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the mash beans between the two plates, top with pork chop and pour the juices from the pan overtop. Warm the reserved beans and scatter over chops, garnish with rosemary and ENJOY :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stuffed Chicken, Tequila Jalapeno Chicken, & Chicken Piccata

I will apologize in advance for the terrible picture quality but I will tell you that each of the chicken dishes were amazing and the pictures don't do them any justice! I do have a reason for making three different entrees though... I had about 2lbs of chicken breast hanging out in my freezer and I decided it needed to be cooked as it was coming up on the 2-3 month old mark. I decided to make all three recipes that way I had meals already for the week ahead. One for dinner that night, one for lunch and the last for dinner the next day. Basically it was three large chicken breast that I sliced in half to make six pieces, two for each recipe. Each recipe had about 2-4 servings each depending on who is eating the dish :)

To make the Lemon Chicken Piccata you need:
2 tablespoons capers
olive oil
chicken breast, pounded thin
salt & pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
clove garlic
drop of honey
lemon (half for juice/half sliced)
2 tablespoons cold butter

Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat, add capers and cook for about a minute then remove from pan. Season chicken with salt & pepper, then saute in pan until they are golden brown on each side, remove from heat. Add garlic to pan, then chicken broth and scrape the sides to deglaze the pan. Turn up heat so the broth will boil, add lemon juice and honey . Turn off the heat and add the butter to thicken up the sauce, as it thickens toss in about half of the cooked capers. Pour sauce over chicken when ready to serve, add lemon slices and leftover capers to garnish... enjoy :)

To make the Tequila Jalapeno Chicken you need:
Chicken breast, diced
1/2 cup Tequila
juice of one lime
dash of chili powder
diced jalapeno
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
salt & pepper
olive oil

Add entire mixture into zip-top bag, refrigerate for at least 2 hours but no more than overnight. When ready to cook, heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until slightly brown (about 5 minutes). That's it, told you it was easy :)

To make the Stuffed Chicken you need:

Feta Cheese
Sun-dried Tomatoes (by the julienne cut ones and dice them yourself)
Garlic (I use minced garlic in the jar)
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
White Wine
Olive Oil
Chicken Breast

In a bowl mix together the cheese, vinegar, tomatoes, and basil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then place cheese mixture onto chicken and wrap the chicken up, secure with toothpick. In a skillet heat olive oil and garlic, add chicken and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Remove chicken, deglaze pan with wine, place chicken back in pan and simmer until ready to serve.

Egg Drop Soup & Gyoza

Decided to try to cook some Asian Cuisine for a change.
It was delicious, and I am very proud of myself for not cheating and buying the pre-made version. Filling and wrapping the Gyoza was actually a lot of fun and you can freeze them (since you cook the filling ahead of time) and then all you have to do is steam or lightly fry them for a quick 5 minute appetizer or snack. Also, the egg drop soup is surprisingly easy to make, you probably already have all the ingredients in your fridge and pantry.

This post is featured on

Egg Drop Soup

Egg Drop Soup with homemade Wonton Strips
Here's what you need for Egg Drop Soup:
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp green onions, chopped
2 tbsp water chestnuts, diced
dash of soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
Bring chicken broth to a medium boil. Add onions, soy sauce, water chestnuts, and parsley. Slowly pour in beaten egg while stirring broth in one direction, it will cook almost immediately. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with wonton strips. It makes two servings.
I made my own wonton strips by slicing wonton wrappers in one inch strips, lightly season with salt. Place them into skillet with peanut oil and saute until they are a nice golden brown.

Gyoza Steamed

Gyoza Lightly Fried then Steamed

Plated Gyoza with homemade sauce

What you need for Gyoza:

1/2 lb of ground pork (it's near the pork chops NOT the sausage)

soy sauce

seaseme oil

red pepper flakes

1/4 cup of green onions

1.5 cups of shredded cabbage (I use the prepackaged coleslaw mix)

1 TBSP Cornstartch (Can use flour as well)

Gyoza skins/wonton wrappers (My store was out of gyoza skins so I used wonton wrappers)

Peanut Oil

Heat skillet over medium high heat and cook pork until it crumbles. Add red pepper, vinegar, and soy, mix into meat. Add green onions and cabbage, cook until cabbage begins to wilt (about one minute). Mix cornstartch with TBSP of water and add to meat mixture. Remove pan from heat. Put mixture into food processor and blend lightly. Now comes the fun part, even though it's time consuming it will be worth it. Place about a spoonful of the mixture onto the wrapper/skins. On the package of your wrappers/skins are instructions on how to fold and seal. It's really easy, I reccommend placing your finished gyoza on a cookie sheet when your done place them in the freezer to allow them to seal for about 1 hour. I used the waiting time to cook the soup. After your hour has passed take as many as the gyoza you want to cook off the try and place the rest in a zippy bag and put in the freezer for an easy snack at a later date. Heat the peanut oil in a skillet on medium heat, when starts to sizzle add the gyzoa and cook until brown on the bottom, once they reach this add about 1/2 cup of water and cover with lid. Let steam for about 5 minutes and then remove lid and cook for about a minute until water is evaporated. Remove from heat, set on plate to cool. To make the sauce for the gyoza you need two parts soy sauce to one part rice vinegar, add a couple flakes of red pepper and splash of oil, then mix together. ENJOY :)

Tilapia Picatta, Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, and Arugula Salad

This meal was easy to make and delicious as well. I served it to a friend of mine whom enjoyed it thoroughly and suggested that I post it online. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

What You Need for Tilapia Piccata:
2-3 tilapia fillets
sea salt and black pepper
splash of olive oil
about a tablespoon butter
splash of white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
lemon (use half for juice and cut the other half into slices)
2 tablespoons capers
about a tablespoon butter

Heat olive oil and butter in your pan over medium heat, meanwhile season your fish with the salt and pepper. Add your fish to the pan and fry until they are a nice golden brown on each side, remove from heat. Add a splash of wine to deglaze your pan and pour a glass for yourself :)
Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers to the pan, let simmer for a minute or two until liquid reduces by half. Add the butter to thicken up the sauce. Pour sauce over fish and garnish with lemon slices.

I prefer my fish served over rice and then topped off with the sauce but you can omit the rice if you would like.

What You Need for Steamed Broccoli with Cheese Sauce:
broccoli tops (I use the prepackaged ready-to-cook broccoli)
steamer bags (they are located in the plastic baggie/tinfoil aisle)
seasoned salt
black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
2/3 of a bag of grated Italian cheese mixture (I used Publix Brand)
about a cup of grated Parmesan cheese
dash of nutmeg
splash of wine

Add broccoli and spices into steamer bag and follow cooking directions on the bag. Meanwhile, begin making the cheese sauce. Add butter and flour into small pot over medium heat, stir until it becomes a crumbly paste. Add the milk and stir until it is completely smooth, continue stirring, add the grated cheeses and splash of wine, add the Parmesan and nutmeg, and continue stirring until it starts to bubble. Pour over broccoli to serve.

What You Need for Arugula and Parmesan Salad with Homemade Dressing:
Half a bag of Arugula (it's located next to the salad mixtures)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese shavings
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper
minced garlic (either fresh or from the jar)

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic until the sugar and salt are dissolved in a small bowl. While continuing to whisk, add the olive oil and continue to mix together. Place arugula in serving bowl and toss with some of the dressing. Serve topped with Parmesan shavings.

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