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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Crispy Tuna Cakes with Dijon Mayo Sauce

Now that it's officially Spring I've started my annual "time to get in shape" mindset. This basically involves me promising myself that I'll workout, that this will be the year I can confidently wear any outfit I want and not feel like I should be covering this or that up.

So yesterday I did it. I ran in the park for the first time this season. I'm lucky to live near a large park that sits right on the edge of the the river that separates Bayonne from Newark. There's a promenade right on the water's edge where you'll get the most refreshing breeze which is a much needed relief during those hot weather runs, but on the flip side that water breeze can freeze you right in your tracks in the winter.

The good thing about this park is it also has a track. I may be in the minority here, but I love running around the track sometimes instead of running through the park trails. It definitely has to do with the fact that I ran track in high school. Now, I'm using the phrase "ran track" very loosely. I was totally the weakest link on the team, I didn't practice as hard as I should have but I was using it to stay in shape not to be the all-star track runner. But when I hit the track here in the park, the memories come flooding back. Seeing those big numbers in the lanes 1-2-3-4-5-6, the turns, those straights of 100 meters that felt like a mile at the end of the race. Running the track makes me feel energized, like "I've got this" feeling.

After a workout, and especially this time of the year, I want something light for dinner. I won't go so far as to call this a healthy dish, but it is on the lighter side and has more of a refreshing element to it without making you feel weighed down or sluggish. This is a unique way to enjoy tuna fish, move over crab cakes, now tuna can be the star of a fish-cake. The top and bottom will get just crispy enough for a slight *snap* when you cut into it with your fork, and the inside will be tender and soft. Top this with a quick and easy mustard-mayo sauce, it will give this a much needed punch from the tangy mustard.




Tuna cakes are a light but satisfying dinner. Tuna takes center stage in patty-form seasoned with mustard and lemon, seared with a crunchy outer top and bottom to add texture to the inner soft tuna. Top this with a mayo-mustard mixture to add a tangy bite. Recipe yields 4-5 cakes.


For the Tuna Cakes
-2 5oz cans tuna in water, drained
-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
-1/2 cup Panko crumbs
-1 teaspoon lemon zest
-1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
-1 tablespoon water
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh scallions
-1 egg
-salt and pepper
-1-2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Sauce
-2 tablespoons mayo
-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1. Drain the cans of tuna and place tuna in a bowl. Add in the Dijon mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, Panko, water, parsley, scallions, and salt & pepper. Mix together until everything is combined. The great thing about this recipe is you can taste it at this point (no raw meat!) and adjust any amounts if you feel it might need more seasoning. After tasting and adjusting, add the egg.

2. Form the mixture into patties, if you make them a little on the smaller side you could get 5, otherwise make 4 patties. Flatten them slightly, you want them more the form of a burger not rounded like a meatball. Place the patties in the fridge for an hour to chill. While chilling isn't absolutely necessary, it's going to make it much easier to manage them in the cooking process. If you don't chill them just be aware they make break apart a bit and you'll need to be careful.

3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, the amount of oil will depend on your pan size. You want enough to have a slight layer of oil in the bottom of your pan so all patties will be sitting in some of the oil. Start pouring on the lighter side then add more until you get to the full 2 tablespoons. Cook the patties 3-4 minutes per side until they are nice and browned and crispy on both sides. While the patties are cooking on one side, mix up the topping sauce. Just mix together the mayo and the mustard...done!

Enjoy!




Source: Simply Recipes

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Lighter Creamy Lemon Orzo with Toasted Almonds

Making lighter versions of recipes isn't really my 'thing'. It's not that I'm not a fan of shaving off calories or swapping a high fat content ingredient for a lighter one, it's just that those types of recipes aren't what I gravitate to and not what I set out to create. But what happened with this lovely Lighter Lemon Orzo is I stumbled upon a dish that sounded amazing, tasted amazing, and just so happened to be a light version of a cream based pasta.

I actually first made a version of this recipe many years ago, back when I still lived in Charleston, SC. It was when I was still very much a novice in cooking and my food photography was....pretty terrible. I'll spare you that photo and you can just enjoy the one below.

Anyway, back then I was part of a forum of other food bloggers and we'd share recipes, food photos and blog posts so I was always finding new things to try. Prevention RD had a delicious post for a creamy pasta that used Greek yogurt to make the dish creamy...no light cream!

I've made a few adjustments since I wanted this to be a side dish not the main dish. Orzo pasta is such a perfect choice for an easy pasta side dish. And the toasted almonds I added...oh my. You are going to LOVE this. The crunch is a needed interruption from the pasta becoming too monotonous and the lemon is just enough without being too overwhelming. And the fact that this is easy...and light...makes this a win all around. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

 Lighter Creamy Lemon Orzo with Toasted Almonds is an easy and light pasta side dish to add to your Spring and Summer menus. Get the flavor of a cream sauce by using Greek yogurt!


-1 and 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
-1/2 cup almond slivers
-2 tablespoons butter
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 large lemon, juiced and zested
-1 5.3oz container plain Greek yogurt
-Salt to taste



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour almond slivers onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes until browned.

2. Cook pasta, then drain and leave in strainer, drizzle very lightly with some olive oil and stir to prevent it from sticking.

2. Melt butter in the pot that was used to cook the pasta over low heat. Add garlic cloves, then lemon juice. Turn heat off, then add yogurt and stir to combine. Add lemon zest and salt to taste.  Pour mixture over pasta and stir. Garnish with toasted almonds.

Enjoy!

Adapted from: Prevention RD

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gingerbread Spiced Energy Bites

Yes, I know it's May and here I am making a totally Fall recipe.

I don't know what it was, but I was really in the mood for gingerbread flavor. I tried playing around making a puff pastry with the gingerbread but it didn't come out quite right. Then, breakfast bites popped into my head...you really can't go wrong with these. You'll notice when I make breakfast bites I really love to add chopped dark chocolate. You can omit this, but for me I love to find a way to sneak in some chocolate into something you can eat for breakfast. These are packed with chia seeds, flax seed, cashew butter, chopped dark chocolate, honey and the super warm and flavorful gingerbread spices.

Make a batch of these and enjoy with your morning or afternoon coffee. There's no rule that says you can't eat gingerbread in Spring.






-1 and 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
-1 and 1/8 teaspoons ginger
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-dash of cloves (just a very small dash, less than 1/8 tsp!)
-1/2 teaspoon sugar
-2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
-1 tablespoon chia seeds
-1/3 cup honey
-1 cup cashew butter
-1 teaspoon molasses
-2 cups quick oats
 -1 3.5oz bar of dark chocolate, I like Ghirardelli 72%, chopped

1. Mix together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and sugar. Pour the molasses into the cashew butter and stir to combine.

2. In a large bowl pour the quick oats, then stir in the spices mixture. Stir in the flaxseed and chia seeds, then the honey and cashew molasses butter. Lastly stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Place bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes.

3. After the mix has cooled, roll into the balls, making sure to continually grab some of the chocolate pieces that could pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Toasted Sesame Spinach Dip

New pic, who dis?

Let me just say, and I hope you've noticed, that I've seriously stepped up my photo game. I've taken advantage of some training and learned a lot about angles, lighting, and styling shots to be more inviting and not just a a closeup of the food itself. That's one of the biggest things I've learned. If you take a look at my photos from last year and the year before, the photos weren't inviting, they didn't help you envision making and eating the food, they were pretty flat and boring. But no more. Just dive right in a take a a bite, right? Take a look at the original post and photo here: Sesame Spinach Dip 2016

I'll admit, I don't think I've reached my happy place with my photography. I still have a lot of growth that I want to do, and to help with that I'm getting a new lens in next week that I'm super excited to start playing around with. Thanks for coming on this journey with me!

This is a great easy dip to whip up. First, there's no cheese! That's right, no cheese. No cream cheese, no Mozzarella cheese...nothing. Ok so it does have sour cream, but if you're trying to cut back on cheese or looking for a lighter dip option this is going to be right up your alley. Toasted sesame seeds, chopped scallions, spinach and chopped water chestnuts all come together to make a light and crunch dip perfect for Summer. If you've never bought water chestnuts before you'll find them near where you'd by soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, they come in a can a bit larger than a tuna fish can.


-1 cup sour cream
-1 cup chopped scallions
-1 teaspoon garlic salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
-1 package (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
-1 can (8oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1. To toast sesame seeds, pour them onto a foil lined baking sheet and toast at 350 for 10 minutes.

2. Mix together the sour cream, scallions, garlic salt, pepper, drained spinach, and chopped water chestnuts. Stir in half the toasted sesame seeds. Pour into a large bowl and then garnish the top of the dip with the remaining toasted seeds.

Source: Keebler Toasteds Crackers

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Southwest Chicken Fajitas

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I occasionally run polls where ingredients face-off to be featured in recipes. I know what you're thinking...how exciting right? (Yes there's sarcasm there.)

But seriously, when I engage with my Instagram followers I really want to know their feedback as to what recipes they want to see more of, what ingredients they want to see highlighted, and even what types of things they aren't interested in. While this is my food blog, I wouldn't be here without my readers and followers so I want to be sure that I'm consistently giving you recipes and content that you want to see and not just what I'm interested in.

So a few weeks ago bell peppers went up against asparagus and bell peppers won the poll to get their featured recipe. I cook with bell peppers a lot, mostly in quesadillas or in omelets. But to win a poll I felt like they really needed to be highlighted in something special, something different that you probably hadn't cooked before. Stuffed peppers was too obvious for me, and with that I felt like the focus is more on the stuffing and not on the pepper itself. I've been obsessed with chipolte aioli recently so I decided to make a Southwest Chicken Fajita and top with with a spice Chipolte Sour Cream. I also wanted to feature as many colors of peppers as I could, not just the red and green that are most common.

You can find sheet pan fajita recipes which are a bit easier since you dump everything on a pan and bake it, but I find with that method the peppers and onions lack a certain something. I really prefer to cook them in a pan so you can get the char and caramelized pieces that add a depth a flavor you can't get if you're just baking them. This makes a nice big pan so will definitely get you some leftovers if you're not going to eat 6-8 fajitas. Lefotvers would be great over a bowl of rice.

 I've noted below, when you make the chipolte sour cream just start with 1 tablespoon of the chipolte then give it a taste, if you can handle more heat go ahead and add the second tablespoon. The sour cream does have a nice kick to it, but I want to make sure you enjoy it...once you add the heat you can't take it out so start light and go from there.


Southwest Chicken Fajitas with Chipolte Sour Cream use colorful bell peppers and onions topped with a spicy sour cream. So much flavor and makes enough for leftovers.
For the Fajitas -1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 yellow pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 orange pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 white onion, sliced thin
-2 chicken breasts, cut into thin slices about 1/4" thick
-10.5 oz can black beans, drained
-11 oz can corn, drained
-flour tortillas
 -3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the Fajita Seasoning
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon coriander


For the Chipolte Sour Cream
-1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chipolte in adobo sauce (I recommended starting with 1 tablespoon and tasting, if you like more heat add the second tablespoon...this does have quite the kick)
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-juice from two lime wedges

1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice the chicken breast into slices about 1/4" thick, if some are very wide just give them another cut. 2 chicken breasts should get you enough for 6-8 fajitas. Mix all of the fajita seasoning ingredients together. In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the chicken slices and all of the fajita seasoning, stir until the chicken is well coated. Pour chicken onto a sheet pan and spread out the pieces so none are touching each other. Bake for 25 minutes.

2. While the chicken is baking, heat a large pan over medium heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add all of the peppers and onions. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and turning up the heat to medium high if pieces aren't getting browned. You want to get some nice browned and charred look to the peppers and onions. Pour in the drained black beans and corn, cook an additional 5 minutes. Then, turn off heat.

3. To make the chipolte sour cream, combine all ingredients in a food processor. As noted above, start by adding only half of the chipolte in adobo sauce and give it a taste. If you want more heat, add the second tablespoon.

4. To assemble, spoon a generous helping of the peppers and onions mixture into a flour tortilla, top with chicken, and lastly spoon with chipolte sour cream. You should get 6-8 fajitas depending on how thick you want to make them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Lemon Zest

Move over green bean casserole. Like wayyyy over. There's a new green bean on the block and it's about to take center stage.

Growing up, my mom had a recipe for green beans with toasted almonds and sauteed shallots and it's such a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. The toasted almonds add such an interesting flavor to the bite and are a nice little surprise. I was looking to update the recipe a bit and make it perfect for Spring and Summer, and what better flavor to add then lemon?

Oh this green beans with toasted almonds and fresh lemon juice and lemon zest is so bright and refreshing. It's not a complicated recipe to make either. A note though, you must use fresh green beans. Anything else will not get the quality flavor that you get from using the good fresh greens.

Add this to an otherwise heavy dinner to lighten the flavors and add a crisp bite, or thee would be perfect as a side to some summer grilling. Have these once and I bet you'll want to be adding these to your menu every week!



-1.5-2lbs of fresh green beans
-1 shallot, minced
-2 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
-zest of 1 lemon
-1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
-1/2 cup slivered almonds
-1 bowl of ice water


1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread the slivered almonds on a foil lined baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes.

2. Trim the ends off the fresh green beans and bring a pot of salted water to boil. Boil the green beans for 3 minutes, strain, then immediately dump into the ice water bowl. Leave in the ice water for 5 minutes, then strain into an empty bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a large pot, add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Dump in the zest of the whole lemon, the lemon juice, toasted almonds and the green beans. Stir so everything is well blended. Turn heat to low and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Pesto Chicken Parm

I'm a huge fan of the super easy, requires little clean up dinners. Aren't you?

As a food blogger, I'll admit, I love to experiment with flavors and try new adventurous techniques. But, I'm a mom. I work full time. I'm exhausted 99% of the time. I absolutely hate..HATE doing dishes and cleaning up. So when there's a meal that saves me time, requires minimal cleanup, but is a delicious homemade meal I'm all for it.

This recipe is a fun twist on the traditional chicken parm. Who doesn't love chicken parm?! Ok...I do love chicken parm but it does get a bit...boring? Maybe a little predictable? Add a generous layer of pesto underneath the tomato sauce and cheese and you'll have a dinner that's not at all boring or predictable. And since there's no chopping, no slicing and no dicing you can have dinner on the table without breaking a sweat.

I'll also add this was kid approved. Miss Lilly loved this! I take off the melted Mozzarella before I feed her since that can get a little stringy and I'm not comfortable with her ability to chew that. But she loved the pesto tomato chicken, so a meal that works for mommy, daddy, and Lilly is a winner in my book.

So the recipe below lists out the ingredients you need, but some of the quantities can be up to you...there's no right or wrong here...another reason to love this recipe! If you're a huge pesto fan go ahead and add more!


-2 chicken breasts, butterflied
-1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
-1 jar of pesto
-Shredded Mozzarella cheese
-Grated Parmesan cheese
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Salt & Pepper

1. Heat oven to 350. Lay the butterflied chicken breasts in a baking dish, drizzle with some EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Generously cover each chicken piece with pesto, then with tomato sauce (again, generously), and lastly the Mozzarella cheese. bake for 27-30 minutes until chicken is cooked. Place under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese (always watch the food when it's under the broiler, things can burn very quickly!).

2. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a side of pasta.

Enjoy!


Source: Iowa Girl Eats