Monday, March 28, 2011

Margarita Madness

Hello there bloggers!
So, I didn't end up going to Miami. BUT to celebrate my spring break and remind me of the warm weather that is hopefully on the way, I decided to make shrimp tacos and margaritas. Awesome Friday night.

Earlier in the afternoon, Steve and I ventured out and walked around downtown Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. There is this awesome shop called "Oro" there, where you can sample different flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars! Super unique, I've never seen anything like it. So we went around sampling the different flavors, and I couldn't pry myself from this White Peach Balsamic. I felt this was a sign from God, that I should use it with my tacos! God can be very specific sometimes.

So I did use it in my marinade. It was super delish, and to make this post even better, I made up the recipe all by myself! To celebrate my originality, I've included some margarita pictures. Good old Jose...he can help you through a lot.

White Peach Shrimp Tacos

What ya need:
1 lb. of shrimp (de-tailed and de-veined)
2 avocados
2 tomatoes
1 onion
1 package of cilantro (chopped)
1 lime
1/4 cup White Peach Balsamic
Flour tortillas
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

What ya do:
*Thaw the shrimp by placing it in a colander and running cold water over it for five minutes. Place it in a zip lock bag, with the balsamic, cilantro and the juice of one lime. Shake it up, and let marinate for at least 1/2 hour in the fridge, if not longer.

*After the shrimp has marinated in the fridge, heat 1 tbl of olive oil in a sautee pan over medium heat. Chop up the onion, and sautee in the pan until lightly browned. Add the shrimp to the onion, and cook until shrimp is pink all over.
*While shrimp is cooking, chop up tomatoes and avocado to add to the tacos, and throw the tortillas in the oven to brown a bit. When the shrimp is done, make your tacos with the shrimp/onion mix, tomatoes, avocados and any other fixins' you would like. Enjoy! (hopefully with a strong margarita ).

This dish was truly awesome..super flavorful. The best part is, you can use many different flavors of balsamic..I was debating between the peach and the blackberry ginger. Try experimenting! Happy eating :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Bit of Spice.

Hey everyone! I thought I'd leave you with a little recipe before I jet off to Miami for spring break! Hopefully I'll have some good restaurant details and pictures when I come back.

Since I've been on this "health kick", I thought I would try this Chicken Curry dish I've been dying to test out, while dreaming of desserts in all of my spare time.

I had my sous chef Steve help me out. This dish is super cheap, easy to make and a healthy alternative. If you want some more flavor, you can choose different curry flavors. I just picked up your regular old curry powder at the grocery was very mild, which is good because I'm a baby when it comes to spice. However, feel free to pick up something with more of a kick!

Chicken Curry

What ya need:
2 TBL flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 TBL olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I just chopped mine into slices, but feel free to change it up!)
2 garlic cloves (I always add an extra one...I'm a huge fan of garlic, just check my breath.)
2 tsp medium to hot curry powder
Coarse salt
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (zesty flavored), with juices.
3/4 lb small red potaoes

*RANT* As some of you may know, I have a huge grudge against potatoes. They are a lot of work, with little natural flavor, and there are so many other starches that would fulfill my balanced meal. As I am Irish, this may sound strange...but I really hate potatoes. Now, I try to make it a point to try new things and broaden my horizons blah blah. But it takes a lot of convincing. If this ever happens to you, try making a dish you don't really care for in a new and different way. I love sweet potatoes, so awhile ago I made some sweet potato fries..boom solution. However, today was not one of those days, so I substituted green peppers for the potatoes :) Feel free to add any extra vegetables to this curry if you want...I could see eggplant tasting really good as well.

What ya do:

*Place flour on a plate, and dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. In a large skillet, heat the 1 TBL oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side (I cooked mine a little longer, because I didn't use potatoes and later in the recipe you have to add a lot of water to reduce). Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.

*Heat the remaining 2 tsp oil in the same skillet and cook onion and garlic, stir frequently, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and 3/4 tsp salt, cook for 1 minute more.

*Add the green peppers (or potatoes..ugh). Since I used peppers, I didn't add any water but if you are using potatoes you should add 1 cup of water, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are just tender but still offer slight resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 7 minutes. Since I used peppers, I just stirred in the tomatoes and 1/4 cup of water (if potatoes, just do this after they're cooked).

*Return the chicken to the skillet along with any accumulated juices in the bowl; simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked (unless you cooked it already) 12-15 minutes. Serve hot, with desired accompaniments on the side. I served this with some brown rice. If you are a grad student, a nice grocery staple is the packaged rice that cooks in 90 seconds. It's relatively cheap, and easy to cook and serve with some chicken or a meat of your choice.

That's all folks! I'm off to Miami and warm weather. If you have spring break this week, enjoy it wherever you are. As always, happy cooking!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Health Kick...kind of.

Hello everyone! So last week, Lent began. And although I gorged myself on ice cream, cookies and one Cadbury egg on Fat Tuesday, I decided to give up sweets. Before your heart stops, I don't want you to fret...this will not affect my blog, as it appears I enjoy torturing myself for the sake of good desserts. So, I've included a delicious, healthy soup recipe that had awesome flavor and lasted for at least five meals this past week, and also an amazing truffle recipe...I'm sorry the screen is blurry due to my tears.

Spinach Tomato Orzo Soup

What ya need:

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 lb spinach, fresh or frozen, defrosted

1 – 15 oz can diced Italian tomatoes (with oregano and basil)

[[Got my haircut! And this is why I never cook in my own kitchen...]]

1 lb package orzo pasta
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
2 quarts water
olive oil (I kind of like to readjust the measurements sometimes as I go, so I only put one quart of water in because I like a thicker can feel free to change things if you like it a different way!)

What ya do:

*Put olive oil in sautee pot. Add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, spinach, chicken or vegetable stock and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.

*Add orzo cook for 12 – 15 minutes, or until orzo is tender.

This made tons of soup, and it was cheap and easy. A good way to make something inexpensive, and not worry about dinners for the week after class. I just kept it in the fridge and threw it in the microwave! Now I also wanted to make something for my lovely friend Caroline :) I found this awesome truffle recipe, and despite the mind-blowing temptation, I made them without even licking my fingers! I made some changes to this as well, so what I did is noted in parentheses.

Nutella Oreo Truffles

What ya need:

3 sleeves of Oreo cookies (1/2 of the last sleeve can be used to snack on...or for your boyfriend and his brother to snack on while you cry in the corner).

2 T. cream cheese (I ended up using three after some trial and error)

2 T. Nutella (again, I added an extra tablespoon in after trying some different things)

1 1/2 cups milk or semi sweet chocolate chips

(I also added maybe 1 T of heavy cream in the second half of the batch, because I was unhappy with how crumbly it was to form into truffle balls!)

What ya do:

*Place 2 1/2 sleeves of Oreos in food processor and pulse until fine. Add the cream cheese and nutella and continue to pulse until thick and easy to handle (it was at this point that I added the extra tablespoon each of nutella and cream cheese, and put a dash of cream into the batter). Refrigerate for half an hour, and melt the chocolate to have ready while you are waiting. Also, prepare any toppings to roll the truffles in like: coconut flakes, powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon, cookies, crushed hazelnuts, or anything else.

*Once the batter is hard enough, roll into small balls and then dip in the melted chocolate, then letting set almost fully on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Before the

chocolate sets completely, roll each ball in desired topping or toppings! For this batch, I chose some Ghiradelli hot chocolate mix my Mom sent was awesome. Another reason this recipe is truly awesome, is that often times you have a lot of what you need to make it. I usually have at least a little bit of nutella, and all I really needed to get were the oreos. Dipping the balls into chocolate was a little tricky, and prepare to get a little messy. But I hear the taste is worth it Easter yet?

Makes about 14-16 truffles

I'm also throwing in a stuffed blueberry french toast recipe that I made for Steve's birthday a couple weeks ago that I'd forgotten about. To be perfectly honest, I hated it..but I'm not really much for french toast. But, I wanted to make the birthday boy something for breakfast. I asked him, preparing for something like, oh I'll just have some scrambled eggs, or an omelette with toast. No. He casually suggests stuffed french toast. If he wasn't so cute...

Blueberry Stuffed French Toast

What ya need:

1 (14-ounce) loaf of egg challah bread (I ended up using an egg bread that a woman at the bakery suggested because they were all out of challah).

4 ounces cream cheese

2 cups, divided (1 cup each) blueberries, fresh or frozen

8 large eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup butter, melted

What ya do:

*Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Remove crust from bread; cut into 1-inch cubes (makes about 10 cups). Cut cream cheese into small cubes (makes about 1 cup).

*Grease a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Place half of the bread cubes in the dish.

*Sprinkle cream cheese cubes and 1 cup of the blueberries over the bread. Top with remaining bread cubes and blueberries.

*In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, maple syrup and butter. Carefully pour over bread mixture.

*Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, covering with aluminum foil if edges brown too much

*To serve, cut into squares. Accompany with additional maple syrup, if desired.

Makes 9 servings.

And now, I can't wait for St. Patrick's Day! I would attempt to make corned beef and cabbage, because I look forward to my Mom's every single year on our family's favorite holiday. However, I think my friends and I will be hitting the bars right after's not looking like I'll be heading back to the kitchen anytime that night.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Mardi Gras Sunday

Hello bloggers! Happy Fat Tuesday :) As a celebration, I've been cooking up storm lately, so expect an influx of delicious recipes! School has been pretty relaxed the past week or so, so I've been filling my time with checking out new recipes and drooling over other blogs. However, this usually results in some pretty happy bellies.

This Sunday, I woke up and decided to make cinnamon roll pancakes. Even though these were probably the best pancakes I've ever had, you should eat them once-a-never since they are soooo bad for you.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

What ya need:


1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten


1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

4 Tablespoons butter

2 ounces cream cheese

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

What ya do:
1. Prepare pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in milk, oil and egg, just until batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine, and make the pancakes even better in my opinion).

2. In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a small zip baggie and set aside.

3. In a medium, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter and cream cheese until melted. Whisk together until smooth; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Be careful with the cream cheese and make sure it's thoroughly and cream cheese have had some beef in the past...and by beef I mean I don't let it melt and it gets chunky. Gross.

4. Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick spray. Scoop about 3/4 cup batter onto the skillet. Snip the corner of your baggie of filling and squeeze a spiral of the filling onto the top of the pancake. Be careful to make sure that the cinnamon filling is mixed well, and only cut a very small hole in the bag. The first batch I made, the hole was very big and it got messy!When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

5. When ready to serve, spoon warmed glaze onto the top of each pancake.

Since it was Mardi Gras, I decided to keep the food celebrations going (and immediately start a diet the next day) and make chicken pumpkin enchiladas! I know it sounds kind of crazy...I was concerned that they wouldn't be very good, considering you don't hear about people making pumpkin enchiladas everyday.

Chicken Pumpkin Enchiladas

What ya need:
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cup chicken, cooked and diced

1/2 cup pumpkin

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cumin

Dash of salt & pepper

8 corn tortillas
(if you wanted to use flour, it wouldn't be a crime..I could only find small corn tortillas, and they broke pretty easily)
1 cup Queso Fresco, crumbled

1/4 cup. diced scallions

What ya do:
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the onion slices.

Saute until brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pan, stirring it to mix with the caramelized onions, then remove from the heat (Side note: I cooked the chicken beforehand, just with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I think it's best to do this, even though it takes a little extra time...I've tried using ground chicken in the past and it's just too dry).

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, cream, broth, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, salt and pepper.

Spoon chicken mixture into the tortilla's, rolling them tightly and placing in a medium-sized baking dish.

Once all enchiladas have been rolled, spread the pumpkin cream sauce over the top. Sprinkle generously with Queso Fresco, then bake in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or just until the tips of the cheese begins to brown. Garnish with diced scallions before serving.

I don't want to overload you with foodie love, so I'll save my blueberry stuffed french toast and spinach orzo tomato soup for another night this week! Happy eating :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Holy Meatloaf! is a secret. I HATE meatloaf. I really do. When I was growing up, I would rather eat my grandmother's stinky brussel sprouts (which I now love) rather than choke down that beefy loaf. I'm sure my eloquent descriptions are making you hungry. However, my Mom who is and has always been an amazing chef, made a meatloaf that "rearranged my mental furniture", as she likes to say.

So here it is! A meatloaf that is to die for, paired with the ever popular green bean casserole that is easy and delish.

Michaele's Meat Loaf
What ya need-
2 lbs hamburg chuck (85%) lean
1/3 cups chopped onions (you could be like me...cheat and use a food will give you more strength later for mixing everything together with your hands)
1/3 cups chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 eggs
1/3 cup bread crumbs
3-4 cloves minced garlic
chopped fresh parsley
BBQ sauce (or ketchup)
salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper

What ya do-
Mix all ingredients and form the loaf with your hands. This took a little elbow grease.
Place loaf in a loaf pan that has been coated with cooking spray/PAM.
Coat top of meatloaf with BBQ sauce.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until medium rare to medium..I would put it in for longer than an hour..when I first took mine out it wasn't cooked all the way. I blame Steve's stove and not my awesome skillz...

*Note: Not the most aesthetically pleasing dish. If entertaining, maybe choose something that looks more enticing.

Green Bean Casserole
*You can find this recipe on the back of any French's french fried onion can.

What ya need-
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 pkgs (9 oz each) frozen cut green beans, can use canned as well!
1 1/3 cups French's Original french fried onions

What ya do-
Mix soup, milk and pepper in a baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cups french fried onions.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until hot.
Top with remaining fried onions and bake for 5 more minutes.

That's all for now! This weekend I'm thinking it's all about soups...or chicken curry! Feel free to post ideas and I'll be happy to oblige :) Happy eating!