Saturday, January 23, 2016

Shrimp and Zucchini Noodle Stir Fry

Shrimp and Zucchini Noodle Stir Fry
I have been on a clean eating diet for the last couple weeks for a weight-loss program I'm doing at the gym. It's mostly high protein and low carb. Eating meat and veggies gets a little boring every night for a foodie like me, so tonight I decided to make it a little fancy and pull out the spiralizer. This is the spiralizer I have from Amazon. I love it and use it several times a week. It's pretty simple to use and most vegetables can be spiralized in advance and stored in containers or plastic bags in the fridge. Zucchini noodles also cook incredibly quick (1 to 2 minutes).
This dinner was delicious and very healthy. I decided to cook it using a Japanese Hibachi style by using a very hot pan or wok and seasoning with bold flavored.  The best part of this meal was that only took 15 minutes to make!
Makes 3 servings 

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 zucchini, spiralized (place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to absorb extra moisture)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed but left whole
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (These are spicy so use with caution. If you like the heat, use 1 teaspoon!)
1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos 
Salt, pepper

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Cooking shrimp is incredibly easy.  I buy the bags of frozen jumbo shrimp that are already peeled and deveined.  Once they defrost (only take about an hour or two), I rinse them under cold water and remove the tails and the peel (they come off very easily).  Make sure you dry your shrimp really well before you add them to the pan.  This is what helps them to get that nice brown crust on the outside.
Drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil in pan and add shrimp. Squeeze fresh lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon) over the shrimp. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper.
After 2 minutes, using tongs, turn the shrimp over to brown the other side. Add the soy sauce (I use Bragg's Liquid Aminos) and cook for another minute or two. Shrimp cook very quickly so don't walk away. Once the shrimp are pink and cooked through, remove to a plate. Leave the garlic in the pan.
Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the pan, and add the zucchini noodles. 
Cook for one to two minutes until zucchini noodles are just starting to cook and add the shrimp back in. 
Turn off the heat and squeeze more fresh lemon juice and if needed, more soy sauce.
Serve immediately while hot.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Zucchini Spiral Noodles and Steak Stir Fry

Zoodles!, i.e. Zucchini Noodles :)
I got a new toy for Christmas this year!  I have always wanted a spiralizer and it is everything I hoped for.  We made a zucchini noodle and steak stir fry this weekend and it was delicious.  The spiralizer was easy and fun to use.  This recipe was healthy and delicious and enjoyed by all.

Zucchini Noodle and Steak Stir Fry

3-4 zucchini
1 large onion
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp canola oil
1 to 1 1/2 lbs of flank steak
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cornstarch

Spiralize your zucchini into noodle shape.  
Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the excess liquid.  I also used kitchen shears to cut the extra long pieces into smaller noddles.
Spiralize the onion.
Cut your flank steak into thirds and trim any fat.
Flank steak can be tough if it is cut improperly. You have to cut AGAINST the grain. You will see a natural grain (or lines) in the meat - do not cut in the same direction as the grain (or the lines). Cutting against the grain (opposite of the lines) will ensure the most tenderness. I like to cut my flank steak very thinly against the grain, at a diagonal. Cut with a sharp knife, almost filleting the pieces you are cutting, that is how thin you want them to be.   Watch this video for more explanation about cutting against the grain.
Mix together in a large bowl the soy sauce, sherry vinegar, ground ginger and cornstarch.  Add the sliced beef and toss to coat evenly.  Set aside to marinade for 10 minutes..
Heat a wok or large skillet over HIGH heat.  Add 1 tbsp of canola oil and cook the steak in batches for 2 minutes on each side.  You want the pan to be super hot so you get a nice sear on the outside of the steak.  If the pan is too over crowded it won't get the sear.  Once the steak is cooked, set aside.
Heat the wok back to high heat, add another tbsp of canola oil and cook the zucchini noodles, also in batches for 1-2 minutes to warm though and soften.  You don't want to over cook it so this will go fast.
Cook the onion and minced garlic for 1-2 minutes until soft and lightly browned and add the cooked zucchini back in the wok.
Now add the cooked steak back in and toss to combine.  Let it cook for another minute to warm the steak.
Serve warm.
This was a big hit in our house for dinner.  My son Jack especially loved this meal and enjoyed eating it with chopsticks.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Luscious Lunchbox Cookies

Luscious Lunchbox Cookies were a favorite childhood snack for me and my siblings. My mom made these often and they were the perfect after school snack, or treat in our lunch boxes. These cookies are full of oats, rice krispy cereal and butterscotch chips. The combination of flavors is amazing and they are always a hit wherever I bring them anywhere.

Luscious Lunchbox Cookies
recipe from Michele Scearbo, originally from a Bon Appetit magazine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups old-fashioned (or quick) oats
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 bag butterscotch chips
In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugars.  Once combined well, add the eggs and vanilla.
Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add to the mixer.
Mix until just combined on low speed.
Fold in the oats.
Fold in the butterscotch chips.
Lastly, fold in the rice krispy cereal.
You are not supposed to do this in the mixer, but I do very slowly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make balls of dough on a lined baking sheet using a cookie scoop (12 cookies per pan).
Have your cute little kitchen buddy help you.
Make sure the cookies are not too close together.
Bake for 10-11 minutes until set and slightly brown on the edges.
Cool on a cookie rack.
Enjoy while warm.
Package to share, or store in a container for up to 3 days for best flavor (if they last that long!).


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chicken and Artichoke Wild Rice Casserole

It is still freezing cold and snowy here in New England, and I don't see winter ending any time soon.  The winter months are great for cooking comfort foods - soups, stews, and casseroles.  I love making this Chicken and Artichoke Wild Rice Casserole because you can make it ahead of time and it makes a ton.  It is also a great meal to make for someone who is sick or needs encouragement.  I tend to avoid most casseroles because they use condensed soup like cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, but this one has a creamy sauce you make yourself with butter, flour, chicken stock and cheddar cheese.  It is sooooo delicious, and everyone loves it in my family.
It is a great way to use up leftover chicken if you have quite a bit, but I usually buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and shred it up for this recipe.  Our local grocery store also sells rotisserie turkey breasts now and I have make this with both, and actually prefer it with the roasted turkey.

Let's get started!
Chicken and Artichoke Wild Rice Casserole

1 box Far East wild rice, prepared according to box directions
3-4 cups cooked shredded chicken or turkey
1 can artichoke hearts, drained well, and chopped
2-3 carrots, cut into thin rounds
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
for the sauce:
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
salt, pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare rice, set aside.
Drain the artichokes, and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Cut the artichokes into small pieces and set aside.
Cut carrots into small rounds.
Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp butter. Cook the diced carrots for about 5 minutes, until softened.  Add the minced garlic, lower the heat to low, and cook for about an additional minute.  Remove carrots with slotted spoon and set aside.
In the same pan, melt 1 tbsp butter more and add the 2 Tbsp flour and whisk for 1 minute. 
Slowly add chicken broth, whisking continually until thick. 
Cook for 2-3 more minutes and turn off heat. 
Grate the cheddar cheese and set aside 1 cup for the top of the casserole.
Add the remaining 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until melted.
Shred the chicken or turkey.
In the pan with the sauce, combine the cooked carrots, chicken, and artichoke hearts. 
Add the cooked wild rice and stir together until combined well with the sauce.
Transfer mixture to a baking dish.
Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over top. 
At this point, you can cover with plastic wrap and save to bake later in the day (or the next day), or even freeze it. Or you can go ahead and bake now.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is warmed through.
Let the casserole cool slightly before serving.
This is one of my favorite casseroles.  Serve with salad and fresh bread for a complete meal.



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