Monday, January 31, 2011

Tortellini in Pesto Broth

As I mentioned previously, my friend, Branny, is hosting a Charity Souper Bowl to help donate money to the ASPCA.  She and her husband, the Omnivore, have made it their New Year's Resolution to donate more to this wonderful cause!

They have asked fellow bloggers, family and friends to enter a soup recipe to Branny's blog, Branny Boils Over, including a picture of the soup and of the pet you wish to dedicate it to.  They have offered to donate $1 for each entry received.  Their goal is to reach a minimum of 100 entries and the last I heard, they were definitely getting closer!

I opted to make a Tortellini in Pesto Broth and it was, by far, the easiest and quickest soup I've ever made!  It was also really delicious and versatile so you could add a variety of things to make it more hearty!

This soup is dedicated to sweet little Bailey!  We adopted Bailey shortly after moving to South Carolina and she has been a joy in my life ever since!  We got her at just 10 weeks old and didn't know much about her history or why she had been dropped off, but she won our hearts immediately with her sweet little face!  Just look at could you not love that face?!

Don't get me wrong, she has definitely had her "puppy" moments but all in all, she has been a great dog and she brightens my day!  She has grown up so much in the year that we've had her and really
come into her own.  She has quite the personality and some funny little quirks!

We absolutely adore her and cannot imagine our life without her!  For it being the first time that either of us had ever adopted, we sure lucked out and found the perfect addition to our little family!

Tortellini in Pesto Broth

4 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
1/3 Parmesan Cheese, grated
6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Pine Nuts
1 Garlic Clove
32 oz. Tortellini (fresh or frozen)

In a large pot, heat the broth over med-high heat until boiling.

Meanwhile, place the basil, Parmesan, olive oil, pine nuts and garlic into a food processor and process until smooth.  Whisk 1/3 cup of the pesto into the hot broth, reserving the remaining pesto for another use.

Reduce the heat to medium and add in the tortellini; cook until tender (about 7 minutes).

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.

Yield: 4 Servings
Source: From Radically Simple
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Madness - Week of 1.30.11

Here it is!  Our menu for the week....There is definitely some overlap from last week due to a few unexpected things happening, but no biggie!  We just make the necessary adjustments and push them out to this week!  Have a great week y'all!

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Garlic Rice Pilaf


I'm always trying to find new ways of incorporating "healthier" side dishes into our meals, mainly veggies and good starches.  It seems like we never grow tired of roasted (or grilled in the Summer) veggies; they take on a whole new flavor when cooked different ways and both methods are so versatile and allow you to change up the flavorings just by adding different seasonings or sauces.

Good starches, on the other hand, are a little more trying for me to work with in the sense of them not being too "fattened up" with butter, sauces, etc.  We love pasta and could eat it everyday but let's face it, it's not always the best thing to eat  Potatoes are good, couscous is good and rice is good too, but I only have so many variations in my repertoire of how to prepare these items to prevent us from getting bored and throwing ourselves off the healthy bandwagon!

So when I came across this recipe, I thought that it not only looked tasty but sounded tasty and easy enough to make.  It is a little time consuming in sense that it takes a while to cook but the preparation part is rather effortless and includes ingredients that are kitchen staples: rice, garlic, chicken broth, lemon, salt and pepper!

I actually altered the cooking time a bit to shorten it up and I felt like it turned out just fine and was really, really good!  Now that I know I can make it in less time than what the original recipe says, this will become a regular side dish in our weekly rotation of favorite meals!

Garlic Rice Pilaf

2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 cup White Rice, uncooked
2 1/2 cups Chicken Broth, divided
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/2 Lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large pan, melt the butter over med-high heat.  Add in the garlic and rice; cook until both are browned (about 4 minutes).  Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.

Pour the mixture into a small casserole dish and bake, covered for 15 minutes.

Stir in the remaining chicken broth and bake, covered, for an additional 20 minutes.  Squeeze in the juice of the lemon, stir to combine and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is light and fluffy.

Yield: 4 Servings
Source: Adapted from Jaime Cooks, originally from What's Cooking in the Orange Kitchen
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tilapia with Lemon-Butter Sauce


I mentioned previously that one of our resolutions for this year was to focus on getting healthier.  They say that happiness can make you fat and it has!  I am extremely happy (happier than I've ever been) but I've also packed on a few extra pounds.  I have a little frame so it's very noticeable when I do gain a little weight.  I still fit into my clothes, but they're definitely getting tight and that is a sure sign that something needs to be done!

I didn't want to diet though.  I've tried zillions of diets over the years only to be left discouraged and giving up, ahem, after a couple of weeks.  I've heard time and time again that being healthy should be a lifestyle and not considered a "diet."  Let's face it, dieting doesn't work.  We needed to adopt a healthier approach to eating and staying fit.  And it needs to become a way of life, not a punishment that most "diets" feel like. 

I've always tried to take a somewhat healthy approach to my cooking....I don't use a lot of salt, I make a lot of my own seasonings, I try to avoid most processed foods, etc.  We always had fruit and veggies on-hand, but not enough to get the proper nutrition we needed.  So we decided that we're going to incorporate more healthy foods into our life...more fish, more poultry, more fruit, more veggies, more water, etc.  Since doing so, we've felt a noticeable difference in how we feel!

Yes, we do have the occasional bag of potato chips or homemade cookies, but we don't devour it's entire contents in 1 or 2 days!  We eat in moderation.  We still go out to dinner on the weekends and while sometimes we choose healthier options (as healthy as you can get going out), sometimes I just want a big, juicy cheeseburger!  Or a slice of pizza!  And that's okay, because I do it in moderation and I don't pig out until I'm miserable. 

I made this fish last night and it was unbelievably good!  The fish, alone, was really tasty but after adding the lemon-butter sauce, it was phenomenal!  And so simple to make!  It took, maybe, 15 minutes at the most to throw together.  The fish was light and flavorful and the sauce wasn't too heavy...just a nice balance of flavor.  The sauce would dually be good on chicken as well!  This little guy is definitely going to make it's way into our regular rotation of favorites!

Tilapia with Lemon-Butter Sauce

1 lb. Tilapia or any type of hearty, white fish
3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, divided
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Tsp. Flour
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
2 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Med. Tomato, diced

Pat dry the fillets and season both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large pan, heat 2 Tbsp. butter over med-high heat.  Add in the fillets and sear 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through.  Remove the fillets from the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter over med-high heat.  Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Stir in the flour and cook for an additional minute.  Gradually add in the chicken stock, followed by the lemon juice, stirring constantly until a smooth consistency forms.  If the sauce thickens, add in more stock to get the consistency you prefer.

Spoon the sauce over the fillets and top with the diced tomatoes.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 Servings
Source: Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Madness - Week of 1.23.11

Happy Monday to y'all!  I hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready for another week.  As promised, I am going to start posting our menu for each week to not only give you an idea of what we'll be eating for dinner each night (maybe to help you plan) but also to give you a sneak peek at what types of new recipes you can expect to see here in the next couple of weeks to come!

You may notice that I don't cook dinner every single night.  Because it's just the two of us here, I find that the meals I make during the week, tend to hold us over into another night with leftovers.  I don't believe in being wasteful and sometimes the leftovers are the best part!  So I usually try to judge and plan accordingly to the meal(s) that I'm making.  It really saves on time and cuts down on our grocery bill, but I always have extra items on-hand to quickly throw something easy together if we do run out of leftovers.  For instance, this week I have the ingredients to make Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Beer Bread or I could do Spaghetti with Homemade Turkey Meatballs and a salad if needed.  It's always good to be prepared!

So without further ado, here is the menu we have planned for this week....

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Annnnd We're Back!


Remember that line?  No?  From SNL?  Jimmy Fallon?  Ben Affleck?  Well, if I'm still not jogging your memory, here is the video....HILLARIOUS!  Definitely an oldie, but most definitely a goodie!

I realize it's been a little over a month since I've posted anything.  I'm sorry.  In fact, I don't think I've posted anything since before Christmas!  Man, I'm waaaay behind!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to y'all...I hope everyone had a great holiday season!

Things have been pretty chaotic since then...I flew to MI for Christmas (it was a last-minute/unexpected trip, but one that was well overdue).  I was able to catch up and spend time with family and one of my best friends.  Overall, a successful trip and well worth the the crazy airport crowds!

Like everyone, one of our New Year's resolutions included getting healthy and taking better care of our bodies.  I know it's pretty cliche' and one that easily pushes you off the wagon after just a few weeks, but I must say that we're doing pretty darn good with it being almost a month in!  We never really ate really bad before (only sometimes) but we're just focusing more on incorporating more figure-friendly foods...things like more fish (eating it more than once a week), a lot more fruits and veggies, cutting back on bad starches and increasing our intake of good starches, drinking less soda and alcohol, etc.  We've also been really diligent on being more active and getting in more cardio each day just to better our health overall.

So....with all this healthy eating, I haven't had much to blog.  Plus, things were busy with work and now I'm going to be starting a new job in a week, so my schedule will be even more busy!

But I promise to be around more and I'm excited to be incorporating a few more features here!  I've slacked quite a bit on "Things I ♥" and need to start sharing with y'all more gadgets, tools and accessories that I love in the kitchen.  

I'm also going to be sharing our menu for each week with you, called "Menu Madness" and, of course, I'm going to continue participating in our What's Baking group!  Speaking of which, this month's theme is "Try something new for the new year" to challenge each of us to bake something utilizing a recipe, technique or ingredient that we've never used before.  I'm pretty excited to see what everyone comes up with!  I've also been chosen to host next month's group, so stick around to hear me announce the theme for February!

And last, but not least, I wanted to discuss something very near and dear to my heart....animals!  My friend, Branny, over at Branny Boils Over is hosting a Charity Souper Bowl in which she and her husband, The Omnivore, are going to donate $1 to the ASPCA for every soup recipe that is entered!  That's amazing and so kind of her!  That is actually their New Year's Resolution and it's a fantastic one and definitely something we can all contribute to.  Her goal is to reach a minimum of $100 and right now, she's 1/4 of the way there, so she needs all the help she can get!  I'm definitely going to be participating and you can too!  It's simple....all you have to do is make a new or favorite soup recipe.  If you're a fellow blogger, blog about it (and perhaps tribute the post to your pet or a past pet you've had) and share the link with Branny.  If you're not a blogger, email Branny with the recipe, a photo of the soup and the name of the animal you'd like to dedicate it to!  We've all seen those dreaded commercials with Sarah McLachlan songs playing in the background...the one that I always have to turn the channel because I just can't bear to look at those faces (it just breaks my heart).  So please help her out and let me know if you participate!

I'm signing off for now, but not for long!  Have a happy and relaxing Sunday and I'll see you soon!
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