Friday, May 30, 2014

Mighty Green Kale Asparagus and Leek Salad

Hey People,
This is the special salad I mentioned earlier when giving you the recipe to my Lemon Vinaigrette. I wanted to make a healthy salad but one different from the standard romaine, tomato, cucumber salad we all know. This was definitely what I was looking for. Very healthy and very filling. The addition of egg rounded everything out perfectly. I actually think next time instead of boiling it I may make it runny and let the yolk coat the lettuce along with the dressing. Ohhhhh, now I'm salivating. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:
1/2 bunch Kale, rinsed well and spun dry
1/2 fresh bunch spinach or 1/3 bag
1 Leek, cut down the center and rinsed thoroughly
1 bunch thin Asparagus, tough bottoms removed
1/2 bunch Parsley, rinsed and dried
1 cucumber, sliced
1 egg per person
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Rinse leek. Seriously, get in there and rinse out that leek. They are full of dirt in between the layers and dirt salad just is not appetizing.
  3. Rinse your asparagus and cut off the tough bottoms. A nice way to know where to cut is to take one asparagus, hold it at both ends and start to bend. Where it breaks is where you should cut.
  4. Place you asparagus in the boiling water and boil for around 2-4 minutes. Asparagus should be right on the edge between crisp and tender. They will still be bright green if blanched correctly. Once blanched, run under really cold water to stop the cooking. Dry them and place in a dish to rest. Sprinkle with a little salt.
  5. Repeat the process for the split leeks. Submerge them in the boiling water, let them boil for around 2-4 minutes and remove. Run them under cold water to stop the cooking, dry them and then slice them into 1 inch, half moon shaped, slices.
  6. Boil your eggs, cool, then peel.
  7. Rinse your cucumber. Peel the skin if so desired and slice into thin rounds.
  8. Assemble kale, spinach, leeks, asparagus and cucumbers together in a bowl. Tear parsley off stems and add.
  9. Add salt and pepper to each individual serving along with one egg. Serve with Lemon Vinaigrette. 







Thursday, May 29, 2014

Handbag Giveaway

Who loves a giveaway? If you do, you might want to head on over to The Lady Loves Couture and subscribe to their email list to be entered to win a couture handbag. Each quarter of this year there will be a drawing to win one of four handbags from designers such as Chanel and Herm├Ęs

Click on their photograph below to head over to the drawing.

http://theladylovescouture.com/handbag-giveaway/

Sweet Onion Vinaigarette

This Sweet Onion vinaigrette doesn't disappoint. It lends a powerful punch of flavor to any dish and is great replacement for store bought salad dressings and marinades. Plus, this is an easy and simple salad dressing that takes no time to whip up.

Ingredients:
3/4 cups Olive Oil
1/2 medium Sweet Onion such as Vidalia
Pinch Salt
Pinch Pepper
1 clove Garlic
1/4 cup Vinegar

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend to the desired consistency.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lemon Vinaigrette

I had a specific salad concept that I wanted to create and I needed a special dressing to brighten it all up and bring it together. I love the flavor lemon brings and decided to make a lemon vinaigrette for my special salad. I think I succeeded in making a healthy and tasty dressing free from all that junk that comes in the store brands.

Yield: 7 oz


Ingredients:
1/2 cup Light Taste Olive Oil
1/4 cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Fresh Rosemary
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Ground Mustard
Pinch Salt
Ground Pepper
1/2 tsp Agave or Natural Sugar

Wisk thoroughly. Adjust any flavors if needed.





Healthy Smoothies Recipes

So the husband bought a Ninja Blender for me as a Mother's Day gift. Don't be alarmed! It's EXACTLY what I wanted. Somehow right after he finished college we ended up with a turquoise Sunbeam blender and we kept it all these years. I remember we bought it on sale from Target and I must admit, although obvious at this point, it did last several years. Not bad for a $15 blender I guess. It was basically used to make adult beverages and not much else. I never even really thought to use it for anything else. Not until after we started juicing, that is.

We were using our black Jack LaLanne juicer that we picked up from a liquidation warehouse for a while, but for some reason we just didn't keep up our juicing regimen. I am not sure what it is about juicing but I just couldn't keep it up. It might be the fact that our juicer wasn't the best, or the fact that there were so many parts or who knows what. The point is that for me, personally, I took to smoothies with greater ease. I still love fresh juice but for the time being I will be paying someone an exorbitant amount of money to do the juicing for me when I desire.

So back to this sunbeam. I was juicing before school started and just like everything else outside of school, work, daughter or husband, it fell to the wayside. That juicer along with the little $15 sunbeam blender were all alone on the kitchen counter until I could no longer ignore the pooch forming in my lower abdomen. The pooch that I got rid of 4 weeks after giving birth to my daughter. The pooch that I thought I wouldn't gain. And it was staring, taunting and saying all sorts of vile things. "Hahahaha, you'll never get rid of me" it jeered from the bathroom mirror one morning. "Dammit, how am I going to get rid of this thing?" I thought. "I don't have time to cook properly, let alone work out." Depressed yet? I certainly was. The only sweating I had done was from the eyeballs trying to conquer calculus and I certainly wasn't putting anything in front of the student loan debt that required me to pass all classes with a B or better to even begin to be worth the interest rate. But that is another story for another blog.

Anyway, I was on Instagram one morning and realized I was following a page called Simple Green Smoothies. I thought to myself I should try making smoothies to help me cut back on my calorie intake and improve my diet and wondered why I hadn't thought of it earlier. So I started making smoothies. I don't really follow a recipe but I do always use spinach or kale and try to use carrots in all of my smoothies too. I feel like the veggies are the really important part but it's hard to sneak too many veggies in there or the husband and daughter won't drink. As far a fruit goes I use mostly fresh but if I find frozen for a good price I purchase it too. Normally I use berries, mango, kiwi and/or apples. I want to get around to using broccoli, avocado and many more veggies but I have to work my way up to that.

For blending I try to follow a ratio of 1 part liquid, 1 part veggies, 2 parts fruits. I will be working my way up to more veggies as soon as I can get my family more acclimated. I think as long as you have a ratio that you like you'll be fine. You have to experiment to learn what flavor combos you like and only you can decide that.

What do you guys put in your smoothies? Do you have any suggestions? What kinds of liquids do you use? I've tried water, coconut water, juice, almond or coconut milk. I think I will try yogurt soon. Have you guys tried it? Do you have a favorite? Let me know.

Here are some options I use and some I look forward to using soon. As soon as I try them I'll let you know what I think.

Veggies
Fruits
Arugula
Apples
Avocado (technically a fruit)
Bananas
Bell Pepper
Berries
Broccoli
Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit
Cucumber (technically a fruit too)
Grapes
Herbs like Parsley
Mangos
Kale
Peaches and Nectarines
Spinach
Plums



Spinach, Carrots, Strawberries, Blueberries, Banana, Apples, Mangos,


Spinach, Peaches, Blackberries, Carrots, Mangos, Bananas, Raspberries

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Target Designer Collaboration

According to the folks over at Lucky Mag and a video link on YouTube, designer Altuzarra will be teaming up with Target for their next designer collaboration.

Altuzarra was launched out of New York City in 2008 as a luxury women’s ready-to-wear brand. His styles can be seen worn on celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian to royalty such as Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. 

The designer's style consists of structured pieces paired with soft feminine elements. 

Check out the brief ad here: 



Take a look at his Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear line over at style.com.

The collab is set to hit Target stores and Net-a-porter September 14.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Crispy Kale Chips are a healthy snack and the addition of salt and vinegar are an awesome flavoring to this delicious snack.

I've been wanting to make kale chips for so long that I can't even give a time frame. Since returning to healthy eating I have of course been craving all the horrible foods that you are not supposed to eat. In response to those cravings I decided to get inventive and make a substitute for salt and vinegar potato chips which are one of my favorite unhealthy snacks.

These salt and vinegar kale chips are really easy to make, really tasty and provide the crunch and taste that you miss when you can't eat chips. Oh and if you have a kid or two or three, you might want to double up on this. My daughter devoured them. I had to stop her before she ate the whole batch because she would've if I had let her. I think that is actually a serious score- healthy snacks that the kid can't get enough of. That's a plus in my book. Hope you enjoy.

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
3 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil plus more to coat cookie sheet
Kosher Salt to taste

Preparation:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.Rinse kale to remove dirt and debris.
3.Remove the kale leaves from the stems, tearing them into bite sized pieces as you go. When you are done breaking the kale down place it in your salad spinner and rinse again. Mine were kinda' grimy so I spent a nice amount of time on this. Now, spin until you can't spin any more. You want your kale to be as dry as you can get it. You might have to do this step in batches depending on how big your salad spinner is.
4.Once your kale is dry place it in a large bowl and add your vinegar and olive oil. Fold the Kale over and over in the bowl until every piece is covered really well.
5.Cover your cookie sheet with aluminum foil and add a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.
6.Place kale in one single layer on the sheet. You really want the kale to be in one layer, this is how they get crispy. I had one leaf sneak under another and it was cooked but not crispy. Press them down to get them as flat as you can and then sprinkle a little salt over all of the leaves.
7.Cook for about 6 minutes and then check on them. You don't want them to get too dry or dark or they will taste burned. Some of my smaller leaves did this and I think I should have just removed them after the 6 minutes and let the rest cook on if they weren't crispy enough. All leaves should be done by 9 minutes but if they are not just continue to check on them every few minutes. Again, you might have to work in batches unless you use more than one cookie sheet.




Seared Chicken with Leeks and Mushrooms

This recipe for Chicken with leeks and Mushrooms is savory and lush and wonderful. Definitely something to make if you want to impress guests or in-laws.

Leeks look like a large green onions or scallions and in fact that is kinda' what they are. They are apart of the onion family along with garlic and chives. I have always wanted to cook with leeks but have never tried it. They were on sale this week, not that they are expensive, so I picked up two with no idea to do with them. I googled leek recipes and came across one that interested me so I tweaked it and here it is.

Yield: 6 servings

You'll Need:
2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned and deboned
1 carton of Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 leeks, sliced (white and light green portion only)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp herbs de provence
Aldi country herb grinder*
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

*Aldi Grinder contains Sea Salt, Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Mint, Sage

How To's:

Clean your leeks really well under running water. Mine had a lot of dirt inside the leaves so make sure to get in there with a low pressure stream of water and rinse them so they are free from all the gunk.  

Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add your oil.

Season both sides of your chicken with a decent dusting of salt, pepper and the country herb grinder.

Carefully place the chicken in the skillet, making sure to not overcrowd the pan and let the chicken form a golden brown crust. It will take at least 7 minutes. Once browned, flip and repeat.

While the chicken is browning mince your garlic and slice your leeks and mushrooms. Slice your leek just as you would a green onion, but don't go all the way the stalk. Stop at the light green color before it transitions into dark. The dark leaves are edible they are just tougher and require longer cooking and I didn't have time for that.

Once both sides have been browned, remove the chicken from the skillet and pour off all but 1 tbsp of the fat. Place your leeks, garlic and mushrooms in the pan and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. If the pan becomes too dry you may add more oil, 1 tsp at a time. After about 8 minutes sprinkle the veggies with flour and stir for 1 minute. This will get rid of the raw flour taste and allow a sauce to form. 

Stir in your wine and chicken stock and boil for 2 minutes. Add your herbs de provence and nestle the removed chicken back into the skillet. Reduce the heat to simmer or medium low, cover and cook for another 15-25 minutes until chicken is extremely tender.

At this point if you are not avoiding carbs you should add rice. The sauce with this dish is so dern good I tried to rationalize how I could sneak rice into a late night meal. Of course I couldn't but once I reach my target weight I will be remaking this just so I can try it with rice. It's sooooo good.

This dish is delicate, savory, creamy and simple. It plates like something you'd get from a fancy restaurant and I think would be great to entertain with. I really encourage you to try it. 



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring Fashion: 1 Skirt, Styled 3 Ways

Spring is here. The flowers are blooming, the pollen is spreading and the rain is falling. Well that was not the description I was aiming for. So wait, how is spring so magical again? Oh yes, it is a time of renewal.  A time of blue skies, chirping birds and beautiful days despite the sneezing that comes along with it.

Along with the sneezing and the rain our weather has been dysfunctional to say the least. Temperatures here in Middle Tennessee have ranged from the 40's to the high 80's. However, I am determined to not be confined to the house like I have been for the previous 10 months. With the weather so unpredictable you have to dress accordingly so I came up with a few styles that I think will work with our temperature fluctuations. Let me know what you think.



Shirt: The Gap
Skirt: Agaci
Shoes: Off Broadway
Jewelry: F21 or Charming Charlies or CR


Sweater: New York and Co. 
Shoes: Off Broadway
Bangles: F21 or CC or CR

 
Shirt: F21
Shoes: Just Fab

Is the weather wonky in your city? How are you dealing with it?

Cauliflower Mash

Okay folks, I am trying to lose the weight I gained while enrolled in school. I have been trying to avoid really starchy foods and bread but that just exacerbates my lack of side dishes dilemma that we talked about earlier. In trying to expand my side dish repertoire I've been experimenting with cauliflower. I decided to try my hand at cauliflower mash which I think I saw on Pinterest. What I created was actually more like a veggie mash but it turned out really tasty. My husband was so apprehensive of this dish that I decided to put a small amount of potato in it so he would be more willing to try it. He still initially refused to eat it but he eventually came around and once he did he raved about it.

You will need:
1 head of cauliflower
2 Parsnips
2 very small potatoes (white, russet, petite, fingerling, yellow, doesn't matter) 
1 tbsp Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/2 small onion, husk removed but not chopped
4 whole cloves garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese 


1. Begin by filling a large pot with water and set the burner to high so that you have boiling water ready.
2. While the water is heating,  peel your parsnips and russet potatoes and cut them into small chunks. Once the water is boiling, throw them in along with the garlic and onion. Boil until vegetables are soft and place into a food processor (or bowl if you're using a potato masher). These take longer to soften so that is why I boil them separately.



3. While your other veggies are cooking, break the cauliflower down by removing the leaves and bottom stem. Cut off the florets and cut the core into small pieces. Place the cauliflower into the boiling water and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Drain and place in the food processor.






4. Once all ingredients are in the food processor add salt, pepper, cheese and butter. Blend to the consistency you desire and the check seasonings on final time. 


Cauliflower Mashed Potates

You now have a creamy low starch substitute for mashed potatoes with this dish. It made my husband a believer so I think you might like too.
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes



Cauliflower Mashed Potates



Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes



Click Card to Print

Monday, May 19, 2014

Favorite looks from the 2014 Billboard Music Awards Red Carpet

Hey Folks,

The 2014 Billboard Music Awards went down last night and I of course did not watch. LOL. I was cooking and cleaning but I did happen to catch some of the outfits. Here are a few of my fav's. I'll be updating this post with details if I can find them but for now here are some of the best looks:


Here is Chrissy Teigen, model wife of John Legend. According to Fashion Bomb Daily her dress is designed by Fyodor Golan and she is wearing Giuseppe Zanotti snake ankle wrap sandals. I love the dress and and sandals but the look seems to almost swallow her tiny frame. She however gets a pass from me because of the boldness of the look.

Billboard Music Awards

I got the deets on rapper Iggy Azalea's dress from blogger Perez Hilton. While he did not like the artist in the burgundy Zuhair Murad dress I loved the lace design and slightly sexy appeal. Thumbs up from me.

Billboard Music Awards

Kelly killed it in this edgy outfit. I love the short hair, the gold accents and the bold earrings and eye. I'm not sure who designed this crop top/skirt combo but it was definitely my favorite look.

Billboard Music Awards

Kendall Jenner of the Kardashian clan had my second favorite look of the night with this Olcay Gulsen ensemble. It is perfection and I  don't feel I need to say anymore. 


Billboard Music Awards
Singer Shakira gave me mixed feelings but I still loved the dress so she gets a pass like Chrissy. I would have preferred a different shoe with this dress, something metallic maybe, but she still looks good in this Julien Macdonald piece.


Last listed is singer Carrie Underwood in my third favorite look which is this beautiful beaded dress by Oriett Domenech. I love the colors and the design but the dress is giving me funny vibes around the hip/lower stomach area. Otherwise this would my favorite look of the night. It is still beautiful nonetheless right? 

What were some of your favorite looks of the night? Are there any that I like that you don't? Let me know and see ya soon.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May and June Event Calendar

Now that it's the middle of May and I am just returning to this blog we will have missed some of May's events but here is an offering of upcoming food related events in Tennessee. I am sure that I haven't covered everything so if you have anything food related to add please let me know and I will be glad to update.

West Tennessee 

05.29.14-5.31.14 Memphis Italian Festival


Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Recipe

I really struggle sometimes with coming up with vegetable side dishes. Sometimes I feel like I eat the same thing over and over. Well, I do eat this dish over and over but it doesn't bother me one bit because it is good and good for you. The hubster actually knows that if i say I'm making broccoli that it will be roasted. But, just for him I decided to try to change it up a tad with the addition of cauliflower This is a super easy recipe and it takes no time at all. I'm sure you'll like how quick and easy it is as well as the taste.

For this  you'll need:

1 head Cauliflower
3 heads Broccoli
4 tbsp Olive Oil (I really just eyeballed it, this is not a strict recommendation)
Kosher Salt
Pepper
1 1/2 tbsp Garlic
1/4 cup Onion

1. Heat oven to 415 degrees.

2. Wash broccoli and dry thoroughly. How you cut your broccoli is really a personal preference. I eat some of the stem but some people (like my husband) only want the florets. To cut, trim off a chunk of the very bottom portion of the stem, around 1-2 inches, and discard. You can slice the remaining portion of the stem, if you prefer, into 1/2 inch portions or smaller  until you reach the florets. I trim the florets organically, just letting them separate where they will, into large or small pieces.

3. When cutting the cauliflower the florets are face down and the stem is up. Remove the bottom leaves and stem by cutting each leaf until all that remains is the cauliflower core and the attached stems. Cut off each stem until all you have is a long core without florets. Discard the lonely core and combine the broccoli and cauliflower on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet or roasting pan.

4. Mince garlic and onion and throw in with the florets. Now, drizzle in the olive oil and toss everything together making sure the onion and garlic are on the florets and not just covering the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper, I really just eyeballed that too. Don't skimp on the salt and pepper is all I can say. Don't head down the road to hypertension but don't skimp.

Put this in the oven for at least 15 minutes, more like 20, and you will have a delicious and eaaaaasssssyyyyy side dish.The onion and garlic lend awesome caramelized flavor to the veggie cousins (No really, look it up, they're related) and the little burned corners are heavenly. Yaay for us, our taste buds and easy side dishes!

Broccoli

Honey and Whole Grain Mustard Baked Chicken

Mother's Day was the first Sunday (in I cannot remember when) that I didn't have to study, write or do homework so I cooked dinner. This dish is pretty tasty, tangy and a bit sweet.

What I used:

4 Chicken Quarters
2 tablespoons Honey
1/4 cup Whole Grain Mustard
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme
Olive Oil
Country Herb Grinder (it contains sea salt, dried rosemary, parsley, oregano, basil, mint, sage and thyme)


Remove the rosemary and thyme leaves from their sprigs by sliding your fingers, from tip to base, down the stems. Once stripped, chop the herbs finely. Drizzle both sides of the chicken quarters with a bit of olive oil, probably no more than 3 tablespoons total (I must admit I didn't measure), and rub the rosemary and thyme onto the bird. Follow that with a light dusting of the seasoning from the herb grinder and let the pieces marinate for at least one hour.



Once you are done marinating you chicken, combine the honey with the whole grain mustard and mix well. Pour an equal amount of the mixture over each quarter and press it into the skin with the back of a spoon, making sure to cover both sides.



I covered with aluminum foil and cooked on 375 for almost two hours because my quarters were uncomfortably large. I seriously don't want pieces that thick again. I just felt weird when eating them. Anyway, back to cooking. I uncovered the chicken, pumped up the temp to 415, and cooked for another twenty minutes so that the chicken would turn that oh so very appetizing nice golden crispy brown color.

For chicken and really any other meat the golden rule is to own a meat thermometer. Make sure your chicken reaches at least 165 degrees. And here is the finished product. Isn't that just luscious?


Whole Grain Mustard Chicken

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

♫ Allow me to reintroduce myself, My name is ♫..... SUMMER!

Sooooo I did not pick the best time to start a blog. I'm still not completely sure how I will blog, go to school, and be a mom and wife but the good news for now is that "♫ School's out for summer ♫." Well sorta good news. I would prefer to get as many classes under my belt as I can but summer school is not really possible for me so I will be more present for the time being. Not that anybody even sees this blog yet but here's hoping. So don't let the lack of posts deter you from sticking around. The good news is that for both the fall and spring semester I pulled out with a 3.5. Yaaaay Me! Now let's get back to the good stuff. The sweet, spicy, sour, sticky, slightly burnt and all things scrumptious stuff.  Muah!