Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Chili Butter

I saw this and knew I had to make it. I mean, come on. It's scallops. And an excuse to use my favorite bacon! I'm not even a bacon person, but I loooove the apple cured bacon from Trader Joe's! I mean, obsessed.

Anyhoo, apparently it's not even just me who recognizes my love of scallops. I got an email from my dear friend Katie (check out her blog!), saying that she saw this recipe and thought I would love it. Guess what? I did!

I made these on a lazy night, and John and I ate a little more than half of them as our dinner. I was too tired to even make a vegetable (shame on me!). Lots of protein though, right? I'll take any excuse. These were delicious! I would have never put in chili powder with scallops, but it is an amazing flavor combo. Just use a hint of this chili butter and you won't feel too guilty about the richness. It's worth it, though! Promise.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Chili Butter
Recipe by The Pioneer Woman
Serves 4
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*1 pound scallops (I used large/jumbo but would use regular next time)
*bacon (about 4 slices - - I used my favorite from Trader Joe's!)
*1/4 stick butter (was originally 1/2 stick)
*1/2 tsp. chili powder (originally 1 tsp.)

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

*Cut bacon pieces into thirds or halves, depending on size of scallops and bacon. Wrap each scallop with bacon piece and secure with toothpick or wood skewer.

*Place in oven on drip pan (or for me...cooling rack on top of a sheet pan!) for 20 minutes.

*While scallops are cooking, melt butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, add chili powder. Serve over or alongside scallops (I served mine alongside, so as not to serve too much).


wrapped bacon

close up!

all done!

with the chili butter in a ramekin

dip! and don't use blue toothpicks...for obvious reasons...whoops!

just a dab!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Pesto, Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Oh and with spinach, too. But that would have made the title even longer than it already is.

Okay...I have a problem. I've been stuffing everything lately, as I'm sure you've noticed. Maybe it's because I've finally figured out how to slice the meat without cutting all the way through. Or perhaps it's because it's just so easy to make a full meal by stuffing a few extra ingredients inside it. Either way, this is a problem I can handle.

I came up with this while planning a dinner party with some of my sorority sisters. I was hosting everyone, and I wanted something that would be easy, wouldn't make a big mess, and would allow me to spend time with my girlfriends instead of glued to the kitchen. Oh, and something super tasty, too.

This met all the requirements! I was able to have the tenderloin all rolled up and ready, and popped it in the oven once everyone arrived. I enjoyed sitting with my friends, having a glass of wine, and knowing dinner was in the bag. I think it turned out great, and received many compliments from the girls - even one who normally doesn't eat meat. This night was a success, and a perfect evening filled with wonderful friends! :)

Pork Tenderloin with Pesto, Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Spinach
Recipe by Call Me Mrs. Rapp
Serves 4-6, depending on portion sizes. 
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*pork tenderloin (my 1.5 lb package included 2 tenderloins; I rolled both of them)
*2 oz. sun-dried tomatoes
*2 oz. light cream cheese
*1.5 oz. goat cheese
*6 oz. spinach, roughly cut or torn
*1/3 cup pesto
*olive oil
*salt and pepper
*2 cloves garlic, minced

*Preheat oven to 400.

*Combine cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, pesto and garlic in a bowl. Mix until well combined.

*Create a slit in the pork tenderloin, lengthwise, so it lays flat like a book (careful not to cut all the way through!). Spread mixture onto tenderloin, and roll it up (lengthwise, like a jelly roll). Use toothpicks to secure.

*Place stuffed and rolled tenderloin on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

*Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork is 155 degrees.  
Note: I would highly suggest using a meat thermometer because I saw so many different suggestions when researching cooking times. Time will vary based on thickness of your pork, oven, etc.

*Let pork rest for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
blurry...but you can see it cut

Open like a book

Showing how I cut it

the filling!

spread out

secured with toothpicks

toothpicks, olive oil, slat and pepper done


sliced and standing

yummy filling

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Roasted Green Beans with Balsamic & Parmesan

This is now the third recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen I've tried, and I'm really enjoying her healthy recipes. I think she follows the South Beach Diet because she always makes a comment about how a recipe falls in with that. I don't know anyone that is still on that diet, but if you are I bet you'd love her site.

I made this as a side to the Stuffed Pork Tenderloin I made for my little dinner party. One of my girlfriends who came over pinned it on Pinterest, and I thought it would go perfectly with our main dish. Not only that, it was easy to have ready before they arrived, and throw into the oven before dinner. I did some modifications because of having one oven and using it for the tenderloin, but I loved how it turned out.

These were a big hit, and everyone liked how they didn't feel heavy, but were super tasty. I agreed, and I am so happy that I made extra to bring for lunch tomorrow! Crispy, crunchy, sweet green beans. Healthy and delicious. Oh...and easy! What more could you want?

On a side note, since I was making these for a dinner party I totally forgot to take pictures as I cooked! Fortunately, there was not much to photograph. Cut up green beans. Mix with two ingredients. Cook. Mix with parmesan, which leads you to the pictures I have. If you have problems, though, feel free to let me know!

Roasted Green Beans with Balsamic & Parmesan
Recipe by Kalyn's Kitchen 
Serves 4-6, depending on portions   
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*1 lb fresh green beans
*1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
*1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
*2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees (original recipe calls for 450).

*Trim ends of beans and cut beans in half so you have bite-sized pieces.

*Put cut beans into a Ziploc bag or plastic bowl. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over, then squeeze bag or stir so all the beans are lightly coated with the mixture.

*Arrange on large cookie sheet, spreading them out well so beans are not crowded.

*Roast 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn oven up to 450 and roast for additional 10-15 minutes.

*Season beans to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper (didn't do this!), then sprinkle with finely grated parmesan. Serve hot.

Look at those!

Close up! Sweet, crispy, crunchy, with just enough cheese to add flavor but not texture or be too much. Who knew I could say that about cheese??

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ricotta, Spinach, Tomato & Basil Stuffed Chicken

Like my most recent post about Stuffed Zucchini (seriously awesome; it's been lunch all week), this post was going to have a LONG title. Well, it still does, but it was going to be even longer. I wrestled with what to call this so that you would have an accurate idea of what it entails. I stuff a fair amount of chicken so "Stuffed Chicken" wasn't going to cut it.

Want to hear the long version of this? Panko-Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, Basil & Tomato. Too long? I thought so. Hopefully you're pleased with the title I settled on. Because I've got nothing! Not to mention I kept hearing my journalism professors yell at me for passive voice with many title attempts...I think my friends Ally and Katie would understand best.

This recipe is courtesy of For the Love of Cooking, which recently got a blog makeover/upgrade! At first I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find it - my "pin" on Pinterest didn't take me to the right page, gasp! But luckily I wrote the correct name of the dish on my pin and with a quick search was back in business. You can find it without searching by clicking here (or reading this post). 

Oh, you may want to know how this dish actually was, huh? So great. The chicken was moist and juicy, and the filling, was, well...filling! I didn't even serve a vegetable on the side - as I normally do - and John and I couldn't even finish our chicken breasts (they were pretty big to begin with, but still). This was a refreshing and pretty simple meal. I highly recommend it!

Ricotta, Spinach, Tomato & Basil Stuffed Chicken
Recipe by For the Love of Cooking
Yields 2 stuffed chicken breasts 
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*1 cup of fat free ricotta cheese
*Small handful of baby spinach, chopped
*Small handful of grape tomatoes, diced (remove the seeds if possible)
*2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
*1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
*1 clove of garlic, minced
*salt and pepper, to taste
*Dash of oregano
*2 chicken breasts
*Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs (in my case...panko bread crumbs plus italian bread crumbs mixed together)
*2 tsp olive oil

*Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

*Combine the ricotta, spinach, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Mix until thoroughly combined.

*Rinse the chicken breasts then cut a long horizontal slit along the center of the thin long edge of the chicken breast, nearly through to the other side. Fill the cavity of the chicken breast with the ricotta mixture. Season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.

*Carefully dip the chicken breasts in the panko crumbs until both sides are evenly covered. Close the slit together with toothpicks.

*Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown.

*Flip the chicken over and place the skillet into the oven (I transferred mine to a baking sheet because I wasn't sure if my skillet was oven-safe). Cook for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Then, dig in!


on the skillet...once I made the slit I just kept going and forgot to take pictures. See here for pictures of slitting chicken.

crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside

make sure to scoop up some filling for each bite :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini

The zucchini is stuffed with brown rice, lean ground beef, red peppers, parmesan cheese and basil, just to name a few. I thought that would be a bit of a mouthful if I put it in the title. In fact you may have looked at a long title and thought, "forget about it!" Hopefully you didn't because this was super yummy!

I told you I love zucchini! When I was searching for a great casserole recipe I also stumbled up on this little gem. Turns out, Kalyn's Kitchen has tons of great zucchini recipes. Looks like she's as crazy about them as I am. I found her recipe here, but I made a few modifications based on what we had - and err what I forgot to do while cooking.

This was filling and very healthy. It gives you something from almost every food group! Talk about a well-rounded meal. We were both full but not stuffed and uncomfortable like some dishes can make you. I will definitely be making this again!

*Note: For you vegetarians: substitute ground beef for black beans! I plan to make it that way next time. I think it will be awesome! 

Stuffed Zucchini with Ground Beef, Red Pepper, Brown Rice & Parmesan
Recipe by Kalyn's Kitchen
Yields 4 stuffed zucchini halves
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*2 large or 4 small round zucchini (or use regular shaped zucchini)
*1/2 onion, chopped
*1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
*2 tsp. olive oil
*1 lb. very lean ground beef (less than 10% fat; mine had 4% fat)
*1 tsp. chopped garlic or garlic puree (from a jar; *I used 2 cloves garlic, minced)
*1/2 tsp. ground fennel seed (I did my best to "grind" my fennel seed - from spice rack!)
*1 cup cooked brown rice
*1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
*3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
*1/4 cup chicken stock (totally forgot this step while cooking, whoops!)

*Preheat oven to 375. 
*Cut stem and flower ends off zucchini. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, then using a pointed teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out and discard most of the zucchini flesh and seeds.
*Microwave zucchini 3-4 minutes on high.

*Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan and saute chopped onions and peppers until they are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. (They will cook more in the oven, so they don't need to be fully cooked at this point.) 
*Remove onions and peppers to large mixing bowl, then add ground beef to hot pan and cook until starting to brown. When meat is about half cooked, season with ground fennel and add garlic, and continue to cook until meat is well browned, breaking it into small pieces. Remove cooked ground beef to mixing bowl.

*Add cooked brown rice, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock to meat and vegetable mixture, and gently combine.

*Spray pan with nonstick spray or a light misting of olive oil. Stuff zucchini with stuffing mixture, packing in as much as you can into each zucchini, and mounding it up as high as you can, until all stuffing is used (I couldn't even use all mine! It will be lunch leftovers this week!).

*Put zucchini into roasting pan (I used a 9x9 pan), putting them close together so they hold each other stuffing-side up. Roast uncovered 20-30 minutes, until zucchini is tender-crisp, and filling is hot and slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
scooped out zucchini

onion and pepper cooking

time to add seasoning to meat!
everything mixed up and ready for filling

the boats are ready!
with a little extra parmesan cheese on top

delicious and filling!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake

I absolutely adore zucchini and squash.  It doesn't even need to be fancied up. I can cook it on a skillet for a few minutes and eat it as my meal. Well, I picked up both zucchini and yellow squash, and I thought I might as well look for some fun new casserole to try with them.

I stumbled upon Kalyn's Kitchen, a blog I had not heard of, and found several great zucchini recipes. This recipe, and another I plan to make this week as well. Looks like I may be returning for more inspiration soon!

Anyhoo...this was so tasty!! John and I gobbled it up and we both had seconds. It was an excellent side to Poppyseed Chicken, and the best part was they could both cook in the oven at the same time. Love it!

I will definitely be making this again. In fact, probably this week, because I have some more zucchini and squash sitting in my fridge and I can't let them go to waste. :)

Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake
Recipe by Kalyn's Kitchen
Serves 4-6 as a side, depending on portions
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*2 medium-sized zucchini, cut in slices or half-moon slices
*2 medium-sized yellow squash, cut in slices or half-moon slices
*2-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil (or even less, depending on how much you like the flavor of basil)
*1/2 tsp. dried thyme
*3/4 tsp. garlic powder
*1/2 cup + 1/2 cup white cheese (I used white cheddar and Fontina)
*1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan
*salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

*Spray an 8" x 8" baking dish with olive oil or non-stick spray.

*Combine the sliced squash, chopped basil, dried thyme, garlic powder, and both kinds of cheese (1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup white cheese) and stir together until the veggies are coated with cheese and the herbs are well-distributed.  Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

*Put the mixture in the baking dish and bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes.

*When the zucchini is nearly cooked through, take the casserole dish out of the oven and sprinkle over the remaining 1/2 cup of grated white cheese.

*Put the dish back in the oven and bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and nicely browned and zucchini is fully cooked.  Serve hot.

all the ingredients ready to go

in the pan


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How To: Cook Easy & Healthy Chicken

When I first started cooking I opted for casseroles. It always seemed so much easier to throw all the ingredients together and let them do the work. The only problem? They all called for cooked chicken. I tried so many different ways - frying it on a skillet (which involved oil), baking it in the oven (which required me to wait for awhile and then put the casserole in the oven after that)...

Then, a student's parent last year gave me some inspiration. She is very healthy - runs marathons, cooks extremely nutritious - and delicious! - meals. She had this phenomenal Chicken Fajita recipe, and even suggested a really lean way of cooking the chicken. She put her chicken in a casserole dish, added some sodium-free chicken broth and cooked the chicken overnight in the oven on very low heat.

It got me to thinking, and I was inspired to develop a similar way that didn't involve the oven. The result? Perfectly cooked and extremely moist and juicy chicken! This is my go-to method for cooking chicken for things like pizza toppings, casserole dishes, pulled BBQ chicken, fajitas, enchiladas...the list goes on because it is perfect every time, and so, so easy!

How To: Cook Easy & Healthy Chicken
Method by Call Me Mrs. Rapp
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What you'll need:
*chicken breasts (I've used 2-5 at a time)
*fat free, sodium free chicken or vegetable broth (I suggest chicken broth unless cooking something with vegetables, in which case the vegetable broth gives it an awesome flavor)
*a slow-cooker or crock pot
*salt and pepper, to taste

How you do it:
*Place chicken breasts in the bottom of a slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

*Pour broth over chicken, until it is about half-way covered.

*Set your slow cooker on low, and cook for 6.5-7 hours, depending on how many breasts you have and how big they are.

*Pull the chicken out of the slow cooker with tongs. Leave any remaining broth in the cooker. Cut, shred, pull chicken when it's done!

Chicken in slow cooker

plus broth

Completed chicken!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leg Circuit Workout

So I do this thing that John makes fun of me for all the time. I'm going to share it with you, and will probably be told by many other people that I'm wrong, John is right, blah, blah, blah...but here goes...

I have this belief that you have to feel some sort of discomfort for certain things to "work." Example: the salicylic acid acne stuff you put on your face? I feel like it needs to burn in order for me to know it is actually working. That makes sense, right?! I know it does.

Well, exercising is kind of the same way. I like to feel sore afterward because then I know it worked my muscles and brings me one step closer to my goals. Well, this workout did it to me. Oh my goodness it did. My legs hurt for days...but I liked it. Not because I enjoy pain (no, no, especially when induced by needles or resulting in blood), but because I knew my muscles had been pushed.

So here is another AMAZING workout, legs this time, courtesy of my amazing trainer. I will have to tell her she's becoming a staple on my blog because she is so good at coming up with creative workouts that push me - and hopefully you!

*Disclaimer: I am not a health professional.  I am writing about my own life experiences and what works for me.  For concerns about your own health and diet, please discuss with your doctor.*

Leg Circuit Workout! 
Pin It This set has four exercises. You will move from each exercise to the next without rest. After the first set take a 60 second rest. Then repeat set once more.

*Dumbbell Diagonal Lunge with Touch 24 reps; 12 each side (Be sure to use weights and touch the ground with them before pushing yourself to starting position - - link doesn't include "touch")

*Box leg lifts 24 reps; 12 each side (Similar to single leg glute bridge but not exactly; One leg is on a box/step while the other is in the air. Lift the leg in the air and keep your hips UP! You should feel it in your glute!)

*Quad Swing 20 reps; 10 each side (Couldn't find a video or example...hopefully you can just ask someone at the gym! You do this exercise on a machine. I will ask which one and update. --> Update: It is the Quad machine: with hands on bar, raise your leg so it makes a right angle; extend forward so leg straightens and repeat)

*FreeMotion Squats - 15 reps (I believe my weight was set at 140lbs, but I was too focused on getting them done to look carefully!)

Poppyseed Chicken

This recipe brings back so many memories of living in my sorority. We had poppyseed chicken for dinner all the time! It was one of the dishes I actually really enjoyed - and looked forward to when I saw it on the menu. It's a very simple dish, but just seems homey.

I changed a couple of things with this recipe, though I bet it's perfect as it stands. I added some chia seeds - full of Omega 3 and Fiber and completely tasteless - because I thought the texture wouldn't stand out with the poppyseeds. I was right! It did nothing to the flavor, and was an easy way to up the nutrition in a dish.

Recipe is courtesy of my friend Jourdan's mother-in-law, but you can find it here. Thanks for sharing, Jourdan (and Corey's mom!). :)

Poppyseed Chicken
Recipe by Corey's Mom; Shared by Jourdan Leigh
Serves 2-4, depending on portions; recipe can be easily doubled
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*1 can cream of chicken soup
*1 small can sliced mushrooms (I didn't do this part)
*2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded (I used three very small breasts)
*1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (I used whole wheat Ritz)
*4 tablespoons butter, melted
*poppyseeds (found at the grocery store in the spice aisle)
*1/2 tbsp. chia seeds (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350.

*Combine soup and chicken in a bowl.  Spread mixture into your baking dish.

*Top with crushed Ritz, melted butter, then sprinkle poppyseeds over the casserole.

*Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Shredded chicken...thank you slow cooker & chicken broth for perfectly cooked and juicy chicken every time!

chicken plus soup

toppings and ready for oven!

the chia seeds

time to dig in!

yum :)
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