Smoky Shrimp Quesadillas with Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Happy New Year!

With the new year, comes new goals. My goal is to run three separate races this year, Philadelphia’s Broad Street Run, a half, and a full marathon. With that said, training is essential and time is limited. The girls have full schedules during the week so that gives me an excuse to not exercise as much as I would like to. No more excuses!

Now that I am training it is also important to maintain a diet that will give me the energy and endurance needed to run long distance. I really wanted Mexican for dinner tonight but didn’t want to spoil my efforts to eat consciously. I decided to make shrimp quesadillas and roasted sweet potato wedges. These quesadillas are great because it’s loaded with yummy veggies and just enough cheese to keep the quesadillas together.

Check in every now and then to see how my training is coming along. If you have running goals this year I will be featuring recipes and tips to keep us focused on our goal! We can do this!

Smoky Shrimp Quesadillas

1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 dash of cayenne pepper
Salt, pepper, olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 handful of cilantro, loosely chopped
1 avocado or guacamole
Mexican blend cheese (Monterey jack, cheddar, queso)
Line, cut in 4 wedges

Instructions

Coat the shrimp with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Grill the shrimp on a grill pan for about 2-3 minutes on each side until they are pink. Remove from the pan and put in a separate bowl. Add two tortillas to the pan and add the shrimp, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado or guacamole and a little cheese. Fold over and heat both sides until hot with grill marks, about 3 minutes on each side. Repeat with two more tortillas. Squeeze with a lime right before eating. Flavor explosion!

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

2 large yams
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Olive oil

Instructions

Peel and cut each sweet potato in 8 equal wedges. Toss them with the remaining ingredients and roast on 450 for about 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Fall is Here: Butternut Squash and Sausage Stew

 

 

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I had every intention to post three wonderful squash recipes that the world would be inspired to make. After posting a picture of my what I thought would turn out being chili on social media, I received requests for the recipe. So here is my one squash recipe for now. Look for more soon because I have to get rid of the acorn and spaghetti squash I have sitting in my kitchen.

This “stew” is so flavorful and filling. I made it in the crockpot so it cooked while I went on with my life. You can put the crockpot on while you sleep or while you are at work. Putting it on while I am at work makes me nervous as I am away for a good ten to eleven hours and fear that I am going to burn my apartment building down. Cooking while sleeping works out better for me. It’s your choice.

I also made cornbread with this meal and am giving my super simple recipe for that too. You will never need to make cornbread from a box ever again. It takes the same amount of time so make one from scratch. Really. For everyone who is already making their own, you will notice I don’t use butter in the batter. Try to breath. I add only two tablespoons of butter on top once it comes out of the oven versus the usual four tablespoons in the batter. It makes me feel better. Do what you will. Anything tastes better than than the boxed version.

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped

10 baby carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cups apple, peeled, cored and diced

2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped

5 Italian sausage links, casings removed, cooked

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

10 ounces chicken broth

1/2 can light coconut milk

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Fresh sage leaves

Instructions

Make sure your sausage is fully cooked. Add all the ingredients in the crockpot, stir, and let it simmer on low for 4-6 hours. Add fresh sage and enjoy!

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Cast Iron Cornbread

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Ingredients

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons of butter, set aside until the cornbread is done

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, milk, and egg. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir the batter together until completely combined. Don’t over stir.

3. Grease a small cast iron skillet, pour the batter in the skillet, and bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and slather the butter on top while it’s hot. Serve warm. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

I hope you try this meal. If you do, let me know how you like it and how you made it your own.

Fall is Here!

Such a bittersweet day for me. On the eve of the first day of fall, I bid farewell to summer. Gone are the beach days and the scent of sunscreen. Adios to the trips to our local ice cream shop which seemed to happen on a daily basis. I am officially turning back to my milk chocolate hue instead of the sun-kissed ebony I am in the summer months. It’s been real!

Fall is officially here tomorrow and it comes with its own delights: candy apples, pumpkin patch visits, apple cider donuts, and pumpkin ale. The scent of cloves and cinnamon begin to fill their air around this time, preparing our taste buds for Thanksgiving.

The recipe below inspired me to get in the fall mood. I found this one on the ever addicting Pinterest. I hope you try and enjoy the cinnamon rolls as much as my family, friends, co-workers, and I did. Thank you for this awesome recipe, Sally!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls(Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

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Ingredients:

PUMPKIN DOUGH

  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk*
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) 100% pure pumpkin
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) dark brown sugar (or light brown)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard package) instant active dry yeast
  • 2 and 1/2 cups  bread flour (340 grams) OR all-purpose flour (315 grams)*

FILLING

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground nutmeg and ground cloves*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice*
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, melted

MAPLE CREAM CHEESE GLAZE

  • 3 oz (84 grams) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (82 grams) pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted 

Sally gives very detailed instructions and tips for this recipe. You can find them here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/09/26/pumpkin-cinnamon-rolls/

These rolls were by far my favorite pumpkin recipe, although I didn’t have one. I took a bite of my Annie’s when they came out of the oven. I had to stop at one bite as I felt myself wanting to keep them all for myself. Shonn requested that I make them again this upcoming weekend. Needless to say, I will be indulging.

More pumpkin recipes to come but in the meantime, what are your favorite fall traditions?

 

Recipe: Fried Spicy Chicken and Waffles with Peach Green Tea Lemonade

I’ve always been a fan of Rev Run, best known as “Run” from Run DMC. He’s managed to successfully transition from a hip hop legend to a motivational speaker and family man. I’ve faithfully watched every one of his shows, including Run’s House, Rev Run’s Renovation, and now, Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers.

In a recent episode, Russy, Rev Run’s son, wanted a shirt and decided to make his dad a meal to help convince him to buy the shirt for him. With the help of his mom Justine, Russy made spicy oven-fried chicken with pecan waffles. You had me at hello! Disclosure: I fried my chicken. So much for the healthy meal… I decided to look up spicy fried chicken recipes online and found the Neely’s version. I combined both recipes and created my own. Enjoy!

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Spicy Fried Chicken for 2

1 cup buttermilk

3 tbsp. sriracha hot sauce

6 chicken wings

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

canola oil, for frying

Mix the buttermilk and hot sauce. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture and marinate for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. Once marinated, mix the flour, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a paper bag. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan or fryer, about 375 degrees. Place the chicken in the bag in groups and shake until fully coated. Fry the chicken, being careful not to overcrowd the pan or fryer.

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Chicken in buttermilk mixture

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Any paper bag will do

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My version of the pecan wafffles is very similiar to Justine’s, however I removed the wheat germ and the all purpose flour and added cinnamon and only used whole wheat flour.

Pecan Whole Wheat Waffles

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tbsp. dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 tbsp. butter, melted

1 egg

1/2  cup chopped pecans

Canola oil spray, for spraying

Maple syrup, for serving

Preheat a waffle iron. Combine the flour,  brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in pecans just to combine.

Spray the waffle iron lightly with oil spray. Ladle the batter onto the waffle iron and cook until golden brown according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Serve with maple syrup.

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Batter will be slightly lumpy and thick

I’ve never been one to have a food craving for a long time. I am generally satisfied after about 2 servings. Such is not the case with my latest craving, the peach green tea lemonade at Starbucks. It is summer in a cup! Light, refreshing, and just the right amount of sweetness. I’ve had a cup of this goodness every day for the last two weeks. Let’s just say I had to reload my Starbucks’ card a little more frequently than normal. As it’s great to earn stars, I had to recreate this at home as shelling out $5 for a drink every day is not a habit I want to keep. In addition to the cost, I am not a fan of the peach syrup they use as a sweetener. I decided to use peach puree instead of the syrup and agave syrup as a sweetener. Feel free to use honey instead. The peach puree makes this drink great! I hope you try it and enjoy!

Peach Green Tea Lemonade

4 lemons

2 peaches, peeled and quatered

4 tazo green tea ginger tea bags

agave syrup, to taste, about 1/3 cup

12 cups water, 4 cups used for the tea

1 peach and 1 lemon, for slicing

Add the peaches to 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. Boil the peaches for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the water to cool slightly. While the water is cooling, juice the lemons in a bowl. Add the tea bags to the water and steep for about 5 minutes. Take the peaches out of the tea and blend until it becomes a puree. Add the puree, lemon juice, tea, syrup or honey and rest of the water to a large pitcher. Allow to refrigerate for 3 hours. Enjoy!

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Empanadas: Recipes

Classic beef and black bean and plantain empanadas are the winners! Image

Beef Empanadas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound ground beef(I used 85% lean)

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon curry powder

1 packet of Goya Sazon seasoning(ethnic food section)

salt and pepper, to taste

1 package of empanada wrappers(Goya brand located in the international foods freezer section)

1 egg

Chipotle Mayo Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup mayo

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 teaspoon adobo sauce Image

 

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In a medium-sized skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the beef and cook until brown. Add the peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, curry powder, sazon packet, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly so that the ingredients are well blended. Set aside and let the filling cool.

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Put 3 tablespoons of filling on half of the round. Fold the other half of the round over and using a fork, press down on the edge of the dough making sure it is sealed all the way around. Ta-da, you got yourself an empanada! Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush the top of each empanada with the egg wash. Arrange the empanadas on a nonstick sheet pan and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the empanadas to a serving platter and serve.

***Disclaimer*** I baked these this time as I am on a vacation diet. Diets are the worse thing in life…. I recommend two things; if you use the Goya empanada wrappers, fry them in four inches of oil or a fryer. If you make your own wrapper(basic pie crust recipe), bake them.

Black Bean and Sweet Plantain Empanadas

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 sweet plantain, sliced

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 packet of Goya sazon

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/4 cup chicken stock (***see note)

1 cup queso fresco, grated (I couldn’t find it at two of my local grocery stores so I used ricotta instead)

4-5 Goya empanada wrappers

In a medium-sized skillet, heat the canola oil over high heat. Add the plantains and cook until brown on both sides. Set aside to cool. Add the black beans, onion, red peppers, cumin,  sazon packet, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly so that the ingredients are well blended. Add the stock and cook until warmed. Set aside and let the filling cool.

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Mash the bean mixture until you form a course paste. Add the plantains and mix until well blended.

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Put 3 tablespoons of filling on half of the round. Fold the other half of the round over and using a fork, press down on the edge of the dough making sure it is sealed all the way around. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush the top of each empanada with the egg wash. Arrange the empanadas on a nonstick sheet pan and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the empanadas to a serving platter and serve.

***I didn’t use chicken stock but recommend it for this recipe. The filling was too dry so the stock is necessary.

I hope you get a chance to try these recipes and let me know how you liked them. Please share your empanada recipes with me!

Pizza Recipes

I am so late with posting my pizza recipes. April was a very busy month for this girl! Anyway, I make a pizza every week and two of the recipes mentioned are my go-to recipes. The first recipe was my attempt to recreate a fig pizza I devoured at Dock Street Brewing Co and Earth Bread Brewery. Lets just say I need to revisit that recipe. Ha! I will refer to this recipe as my healthy pizza recipe. It just didn’t have the decadence that I experienced at the breweries. Shonn however loved it. So try it and let me know what you think. The jury is still out.

You will see that Trader Joes is in heavy rotation in my kitchen. I want to highlight two items: The marinated grilled chicken breasts and the ready made pizza crusts. Heaven sent!

Fig and Bacon Pizza

8-10 figs( I used dried but go with fresh, depending on the time of the year)

3 slices of uncured bacon

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

2 tbs of olive oil

2 tbs of oregano

2 turns of garlic powder

1 cup of arugula

Whole wheat pizza crust

Balsamic maple glaze

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbs maple syrup

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425. Slice the figs into halves and set aside. Cook the bacon until just crisp. Caramelize the onions in the bacon grease. Stretch the dough into the shape of a flat bread or traditional round pizza dough. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Layer the crust with goat cheese, figs, bacon, onions, and mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle the oregano, garlic, powder, and the rest of the olive oil. Put in the oven for 12-15 minutes. While the pizza is in the oven, pour the vinegar in a small saucepan. Add the maple syrup and simmer for about 5 minutes until it turns into a syrup consistency. Once the pizza is done, top with arugula and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

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BBQ Chicken Pizza

2 cups of chicken breast, grilled

1/4-1/2 cup of BBQ sauce, according to your taste

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup of gouda cheese, shredded

1/2 cup of mozzarella, shredded

1 tbs of olive oil

1 tbs garlic powder

2 tbs oregano

2 tbs fresh cilantro

Pizza crust of your choice, I used the herb pizza crust from Trader Joes

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425. Stretch the crust to your liking. Layer the BBQ sauce, gouda and mozzarella cheeses, chicken, and red onion, garlic powder, oregano, and olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Once the pizza is done, sprinkle the cilantro on top. Enjoy!

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I made a pizza tonight that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of. It was pretty simple. One side was layered with pesto sauce, grilled chicken breasts, and mozzarella cheese. The other side was layered with tomato sauce, green peppers, red onion, and a mix of monterey, mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses. The pizza was topped with garlic powder, oregano, and olive oil. Easy breezy!

Feel free to try these recipes or make your own recipe. What’s your favorite pizza recipe? Please share!

Up next, empanadas… Yum!

Mussels, My Way

The moment has arrived! I explored and conquered. I decided to go with a Spanish themed mussel dish which is not at all like any of the mussels I tried at various restaurants. I knew I wanted a complementary meat based on my experiences at both Goat Hollow and Monk’s Cafe.

Before you read this recipe, keep in mind that I rarely measure anything. I always tend to guesstimate so feel free to do the same. The objective to cooking with love is doing what feels right. Go with your gut. I trust you!

Recipe:

2 healthy turns of olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper( you can find this is any grocery store dry spice aisle)

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 fennel bulb (not a fan of this so I only added enough to enhance the flavor. Feel free to use more if you like)

2 spicy chorizo sausage links, casing removed (I purchased mine from a butcher. This allows you to be in control of exactly how much you want to buy)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup of white wine ( just use what you have on hand)

1/4-1/3 cup of vegetable stock

3/4 tablespoon of salt

1/2 tablespoon of pepper

1 pound of mussels, cleaned and beards removed

1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, halved

About 10 springs if fresh chives, chopped

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Juice of a half of a lemon

Pat of butter

Italian loaf from local bakery (includes grocery store bakery)

20140127-102253.jpg     20140127-102315.jpg                Step 1: Add oil to pan set to medium high heat. Add chorizo and red pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, breaking chorizo into healthy bite sized pieces. Add onions and fennel and cook about 2 minutes.                                                              20140127-102326.jpg

Step 2: Add garlic, white wine, and stock. Simmer for about a minute and add salt and pepper.                                                                                20140127-102334.jpg

Step 3: Add mussels, close the lid and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Don’t open the lid until at least 4 minutes pass as you don’t want to interrupt the steam process. 20140127-102349.jpg

Step 4: Open the lid, add the tomatoes and stir in the mussels and broth. Ladle the mussel mixture into two deep bowls. Squeeze lemon juice over each bowl and top with chives, parsley, and a half pat of butter.                                      20140127-102400.jpg

Step 5: Enjoy with a nice size piece of bread.               20140127-102409.jpg

I hope you are inspired to try this dish! Let me know how your dish turned out and if you did anything differently! After all, I am learning as well!