Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Three-Cheese Queso

So I have a confession. I made this really yummy queso. So good, in fact, that I forgot to take the pictures after it was done...But, I'm guessing you all know what queso looks like, so I'm hoping you aren't too upset that this is not my best post, photo-wise.

I modified this from a recipe my friend Jourdan made. She was attempting to recreate Qdoba's queso, and stumbled upon a recipe close to this. I agreed with her findings that it wasn't Qdoba caliber, but it was delicious nonetheless!

This was a great side to Stacked Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Enchiladas, but would be perfect for entertaining guests while you're watching football, basketball (go IU!) or just hanging out. Try it! And let me know what cheeses you use in yours. :)

Three-Cheese Queso
Recipe by Call Me Mrs. Rapp, adapted from Jourdan Leigh & Concoctionista
Serves 4-6, depending on portions  
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1 cup shreddred monterey jack cheese
1 cup sharp New York cheddar cheese (regular sharp cheddar is fine!)
1 cup shredded Wisconsin white cheddar cheese (regular white cheddar is fine!)
2-3 roasted poblano peppers (I used 1)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (I didn't and mine was a bit too thin until I added more cheese)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons ground garlic
optional seasonings:  salt, chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes

*Roast your pablano(s) in the oven under the broiler until skin is blackened and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.

*Once cool, peel the skin off (it's very thin and translucent) and toss the stem and seeds. Dice roasted pepper(s) finely. 

*Shred cheeses.

*Combine all ingredients in crockpot/slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until cheese is melted. Thin with more milk or cream if necessary (wasn't for me). Taste and adjust seasonings.

*Serve hot from crockpot/slow cooker with tortilla chips.  

hello cheese...

shredded and ready

adding roasted poblano pepper

all mixed up and ready to cook for a couple hours!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Carrot Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

I was going to post this a long time ago. Like weeks ago. But you know why I didn't? Because genius over here deleted all the pictures before uploading them to my post. I typed out the recipe and my intro, went to get the pictures, only to realize I had deleted them. Lovely. Anyway, it gave me an excuse to make them again (Thanksgiving!), so here you are. 

My friend Jourdan adapted this muffin recipe to make it healthier.  She's so good about doing that with her recipes, and I wanted to try this one for a faculty chip-in lunch we had a few weeks ago.

Even with less oil and sugar and whole wheat flour, these were delicious! I doubled the recipe and was only left with four at the end of the day, which I in turn gave away so I wouldn't be tempted to eat them all myself! (I doubled the recipe for Thanksgiving, too, and almost all were gone as well!)

These have the perfect blend of spices and flavors, and the cream cheese filling was by far the best part of the muffin! Yum!

Carrot Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling
Recipe by Jourdan Leigh, adapted from The Delicious Life
Yields about 16 muffins
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*3/4 cup all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or could use all-purpose flour)
*1½ tsp. baking soda
*1 tsp.baking powder
*½ tsp. salt
*1 tsp. cinnamon
*½ tsp. nutmeg
*3/4 cup sugar (recipe calls for 1 cup; I used 1 part sugar 1 part splenda)
*3 eggs
*2/3 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/3 c. butter, 1/3 c. olive oil)
*1 cup shredded carrots
*1/2 cup pumpkin puree

For filling:
4 oz. softened cream cheese (I used light cream cheese)
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar (original had 1/2 cup; I did one part splenda one part sugar)
1/2 tsp. vanilla

*Preheat oven to 350.

*Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.

*In a separate bowl, beat eggs, and oil (and butter if using) until lightened.

*Stir in shredded carrots and pumpkin.

*In another bowl, cream softened cream cheese with egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla.

*Fold the dry ingredients into the egg/oil mixture. Stir until just combined.

*Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Plop a generous teaspoon of the cream cheese filling on top of the batter in each muffin cup.  I sort of used my spoon to fill it down into the middle of the cupcakes...other wise it will spread out over the top while baking.

*Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake part comes out clean.
muffin mixture

cream cheese filling...clearly I've already been dipping...


I used a toothpick to swirl the tops so they would look pretty like the nutella cupcakes

out of the oven!


sooo fluffy!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stacked Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Enchiladas

Happy day-after Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed time with family, friends or someone special to you. Now that Thanksgiving is over, are you ready for some non-Thanksgiving food?? If so, then wow do I have a tasty - and healthy! - recipe for you today!

I saw my friend Jourdan post this recipe, and it looked so beautiful and colorful and delicious that I had to make it. She's been posting tons of healthy recipes lately so you should check it out. Anyhoo, my version is a little different, so be sure to check out hers if you want to see what she did.

So how were these? Amazing! And perfect before heading into a holiday full of heavy eating. I also decided to make some homemade three-cheese queso, because, I just had to spoil this healthy meal with something indulgent. Guess it's good I spent a lot of time at the gym!

I will tell you that this recipe is super, super easy. However, it's one of those recipes that is a bit more time consuming because you have lots of prep work (cutting, dicing, etc.) and cooking time (about an hour). If you've got the time I would so, so recommend these. You won't be disappointed!

(And for you vegetarians, just cut the chicken out of this recipe!)

Stacked Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Enchiladas
Recipe adapted from Perry's Plate
Serves 3-6, depending on portions
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About 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (see below for how I did mine)
1 poblano pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 cup zucchini (I used a little more - a whole zucchini)
1 cup sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I just used 1 sweet potato)
1 small onion, halved and cut into thin strips
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup black beans
olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
chili powder to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
1 cup homemade or store bought salsa/pico de gallo
2 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 2 big handfuls)
4-6 corn tortillas, halved (I used 4 whole wheat flour tortillas)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a white cheddar-Monterey Jack blend)
sour cream and thinly sliced scallions (green onions) for garnish, if desired

*For Chicken: Place two chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Cover half way up the chicken with vegetable broth (chicken broth would work fine too). Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove and shred with a fork. Sprinkle a little salt on shredded chicken. 

*Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

*Place poblanos, red bell peppers, sweet potato, and onion, onto cookie sheet.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and minced garlic over top.  Then use your hands to mix everything together.  After everything is coated well, roast for 20 minutes (stiring at 10 minutes).

*After 20 minutes, add diced zucchini, mix together, then and roast for 10-15 more minutes, until vegetables are tender and begin to brown in spots.

*Remove pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

*Combine black beans and corn in a small bowl.

*Spread 1/2 of salsa into the bottom of the 8x8 inch baking pan.  Add a layer of tortilla pieces (half), to completely cover the salsa.  Top with half the chicken, half the vegetables, half of black bean corn mixture, a handful of spinach, and 1/3 of the cheese.

*Make a second layer of tortilla, salsa, cheese, spinach, chicken, vegetables, corn/bean mixture, and lastly a little more cheese over the top.

*Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and everything is heated through.

*Let it sit for 5 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of sliced scallions.
I love zucchini.

adding the zucchini to the roasted vegetables

shredded chicken

Just ready for the cheese on top
out of the oven and looking good!

Smelling sooo good too.

little sour cream on the side

serves 6 hearty portions!

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Blog Look!

Hey there internet friends!

I did something today...did you notice? I added a new header to the blog! I saw and my friend Katie's blog and immediately loved her cute heading. She was kind enough to share this blog with me, which details step by step instructions for creating your own photo collage header. How awesome is that?

I played around with several variations for a few weeks, and I finally settled on this. What do you think? I'm not sure if it's the final version yet, so I'd love some constructive feedback.

Happy Tuesday all! Also known as the last day before a 5-day weekend (for me, hopefully you!) and Thanksgiving feasts! :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Peppercorn Ahi Tuna with Salsa Rossa

So I was going to publish a great post about these delicious carrot pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling, but it turns out I deleted the pictures before I uploaded them to my already typed post. Grrr. Frustrated to say the least.

Anyhoo, I decided that since I couldn't show you those amazing muffins I would have to settle with telling you about this insanely easy and tasty ahi tuna dish. I was at Trader Joe's last week and saw that they had frozen ahi tuna (2 steaks) for less than $5 total! I instantly picked them up, knowing I could throw together an easy tuna steak recipe.

I remembered that when I first made Salsa Rossa with Chicken "Paninis" with Mozzarella & Basil (yum!) that the salsa rossa was paired with seared ahi tuna. It just so happens that I had some frozen from the last time I made it, so I simply put it in the fridge when I put the tuna in the fridge to thaw overnight.

This was perfect. I now know why the sauce was originally paired with ahi tuna. Because it is amazing!! Not only was this ready super fast, but it tasted great. So filling yet healthy, which  is one of my favorite combinations. I also threw some frozen seared asparagus in the microwave and we had a perfect meal in under 10 minutes. I dare you to find something easier and healthier. Go ahead. :)

Peppercorn Ahi Tuna with Salsa Rossa
Recipe adapted from The Newlyweds' Cookbook
Serves 2
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*whole peppercorns, crushed (about 1 tablespoon)
*2 ahi tuna steaks
*salsa rossa
*olive oil
*salt and pepper

*Preheat a grill pan on high.

*Drizzle olive oil on the ahi tuna steaks and sprinkle with salt and crushed black peppercorns. Place the tuna steaks on the grill pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side for rare. I cooked mine for about 2 1/2-3 minutes on each side and it was perfect.

*Heat salsa rossa in a small saucepan.

*When tuna is done, drizzle liberally with salsa rossa and serve with rice or a green side. Enjoy!

side one grilling

onto side too...looking good!

before salsa rossa...looks good, but eh...

instantly transformed

I could drown this in sauce

asparagus was the perfect side dish

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shrimp & Pesto Pasta

Have I annoyed you with pesto yet? Well I'm sorry if I have, but I just can't help it. I love how one batch of this pesto has gone so far and been used in so many meals. Not to mention it has made my life easier having some in the freezer to grab whenever it fancies me.

So about this dish...John and I used to walk to Noodles on Saturday afternoons during our senior year of college. He would always - and I mean always - get the mac and cheese with parmesan chicken. I would alternate between that spicy tomato cream dish (can't remember what it's called) and the pesto pasta with shrimp. The Shrimp Diablo I make pretty much covers that first recipe I always ordered, but I had yet to tackle the second...

...until now! And guess what? It turned out great! John gave me an awesome compliment (he always does but this one was super great) when he said that it "smells like Italy" when I put his bowl down in front of him. John adores Italy. He studied there for a summer and has never fully came home. So for him to say this, I was beyond excited and had a little happy step going on.

So enjoy this easy meal, pretend summer is still here, and prepare for the cold winter by making and freezing some of this delicious pesto!! (Tip: if you don't have a jar you can freeze it in an ice cube tray then remove it and put it in a plastic bag for easy single servings. Ta-da!)

Shrimp & Pesto Pasta
Recipe by Call Me Mrs. Rapp, inspired by Noodles & Company
Serves 4, depending on portions
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*1/2-1 cup pesto sauce, store bought or homemade (go for it - make it - I promise it's worth it!)
*about 1 box whole wheat whole grain pasta (I used a hodgepodge of macaroni noodles and penne because it was all I had in my pantry)
*some grape tomatoes, halved
*shrimp, as much or as little as you desire (I used a whole bag, probably a good 20 shrimp)
*Parmesan cheese, for garnish
*salt and pepper
*olive oil

*Thaw shrimp, if frozen, and rinse well.

*Put of large pot of water on stove and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

*While pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil (or use olive oil spray as I've taken a liking to doing) on a skillet. Add shrimp and saute both sides until cooked to your liking.

*Remove shrimp from skillet and add tomatoes, cooking for 1-2 minutes, until softened.

*Drain pasta.

*Combine shrimp, tomatoes and pasta in a large bowl. Add pesto to the bowl, starting with 1/2 cup and adding more to your taste. Mix well before adding more because a little goes a long way.

*Serve in bowls and sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese (or bagged!).
Searing the shrimp

The extra pesto I whipped up (wanted to be sure to replenish my stock!)

Shrimp is done

like my hodgepodge?

All mixed up...sorry for the fuzzy picture

Surprise, surprise, I added extra parmesan cheese for garnish...

dig in!

I heart pesto.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Risotto

Let me tell you, this was goooooood. Yes, it deserved the "oooooo" in the middle. Not only is this probably the healthiest risotto you'll ever have, it's definitely one of the tastiest. Creamy and warm, but guilt-free because there is no cream and and it's all veggie-based. I got my 5 servings in today - score! Better yet? A small bowl was all each of us needed for dinner. We also had leftovers for some yummy lunches this week.

Not only did I love this, but John did too. He high-fived me and yelled "awesome, baby!" And, no, that was not directed at the IU basketball game. Although, truth be told, he did say "nice, baby!" while I was cooking and I know it wasn't directed at me...Moving on...

I saw this recipe on a great blog I follow, Peanut Butter Fingers. If you haven't checked out Julie's blog yet you should. You'll love it! It is so uplifting and inspiring for healthy eating and living - without being preachy.

Anyway, Julie whipped up a Butternut Squash Wheatberry Mock Risotto that looked amazing. Unfortunately I couldn't find wheatberry at Trader Joe's. I did have some arborio rice (the kind used for risotto) so I went for a regular risotto. I decided to add some sweet potato since I had a bag from making Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna.

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Risotto
Recipe adapted from Peanut Butter Fingers
Serves 4-6, depending on portion and if used as side dish or entree   
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*1/2 large onion, chopped
*1/4 teaspoon thyme
*2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
*2 heaping cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
*1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
*3 cups fresh spinach
*1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
*about 2 cups arborio rice 

*Heat oil in a medium size pot over medium heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are slightly soft, about five minutes.

*Turn the heat to medium-high. Add broth, sweet potato cubes and butternut squash. Stir constantly (ok so I didn't really do it constantly but I was in the kitchen the whole time) and allow to simmer until broth is nearly completely dissolved and butternut squash breaks down and becomes creamy (somewhat like mashed potatoes), approximately 25 – 30 minutes.

*While the vegetables are cooking, prepare your arborio rice, according to package directions.

*Stir in Parmesan cheese to sauce (the now creamy vegetable mixture).

*Add spinach and stir until leaves are somewhat wilted.

*Combine risotto with sauce and serve!

Starts as this...

ends up looking like this!

add spinach

spinach is wilted


I added a little extra parmesan on top for garnish

so good!

Garlic-Roasted Zucchini & Tomatoes

Remember those delicious parmesean-crusted zucchini sticks I told you about? Well I had some leftover zucchinni slices from that recipe, so the next night I decided to saute them with some garlic and grape tomatoes. The result? Perfect, but then again zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables ever.

This was so simple and done in a snap. Literally, this is a 5-minute recipe. Pair it with Seared Salmon with Pesto and you have dinner in a mere 15 minutes. Yay!

On a side note these are some of the worst pictures I've taken. All the steam was messing with my phone (which is what I use to take all my blog pictures) and eventually I gave up. Sorry!

Garlic-Roasted Zucchini & Tomatoes
Recipe by Call Me Mrs. Rapp
Serves 2
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*zucchinni, sliced into strips
*1 garlic clove, minced
*grape tomatoes, halved
*olive oil

*Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Toss zucchini in until almost cooked and slightly golden.  Remove zucchini from skillet.

*Add a little more oil to skillet and toss in garlic. Cook garlic for about a minute (not too long because the skillet will be hot and you don't want it to burn) before adding tomatoes.

*When tomatoes are softened and warmed add zucchini back in and toss together. Cook for another minute or so. Serve immediately.

Ahhh how I love zucchini, but hate spelling it because somehow I always want to use one "c" instead of two

Starting to brown

yikes! how grainy...

served with salmon with pesto - yum!
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