Sushi Stacks

My husband and I are HUGE fans of sushi…needless to say the giving up meat on Fridays during Lent is NOT really any sort of penance for us as it is usually just an excuse to go out for sushi. I have had this recipe pinned for a while but decided to give it a try this week in hopes of finding something that could help curb those sushi cravings. It got multiple nods of approval from the husband. The original recipe credits go to http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/tuna-sushi-stacks/ as does the photo credit. What I love about this recipe is its versatility, we used salmon filets that I baked and then flaked apart, but you can use fresh tuna, or canned tuna or salmon as well if you are in a hurry or are on a more limited budget. You can also top with whatever you want, we stuck to the recipe and used cucumber, red onion, and mango (which we tried for the first time and it was really good!!) but you can add carrots, edamame, peppers, etc and each person can customize as they desire which makes it great for feeding a family! We used Basamati rice because I had it in the cabinet to use, but I think the next time we will do brown rice or a quinoa mix. This is super easy to assemble and you can even get the little ones involved in assembly!

Here’s how we did it:

  • prepare rice (or quinoa) per package instructions – we had about 3 cups of rice cooked
  • bake fish (if you aren’t using canned) – we used 1 lb of frozen salmon, thawed, and baked with a little olive oil and soy sauce drizzled over the top and baked for 15-20 minutes.
  • dice desired toppings (we used 1 mango, 1 cucumber, and 1/2 red onion) and add salt and pepper to taste, mix together
  • peel, core, and mash 1 avocado
  • Assemble your sushi stacks using a 1 cup measuring cup or a small glass:
    • place diced toppings in the bottom of the cup and then spread mashed avocado on top (fill about 1/3 of the way up)
    • then layer about 1/3 of a cup of fish on top of avocado
    • top with about 1/3 cup of rice (until cup is full)
    • ** note, do not press anything in very tightly as this will make it hard to get the stack out of the cup
    • turn cup over on plate and remove cup to reveal your sushi stack!
    • you can top with sesame seeds, Sriracha mayo, yum yum sauce (we made our own!), or drizzle a little soy sauce over the top
    • ENJOY!

Peanut Butter Blondies

I found this recipe a few days ago on Pintrest and decided to try them in anticipation of Mardi Gras. This one was husband-approved (even AFTER he learned there were chickpeas in it although I will admit I made him try them before I told him what was in it). I love the ooey-gooey consistency of the bars and they are really sweet due to the honey and coconut sugar (yes, I even tried a new sugar for this one…) along with the chocolate chips. Add some banana ice cream and you have one not-quite-so-fattening Fat Tuesday treat! The recipe and picture come from http://joyfoodsunshine.com/healthy-peanut-butter-blondies/

Here’s how to make them:

1 – 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1/4 coconut sugar (you could probably use regular sugar just as easily but the coconut sugar wasn’t hard to find and worked well)

1 tbsp. milk (the recipe calls for almond milk, I used 1% cow’s milk)

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips (plus a few more for on top)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degF and grease an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. Add all ingredients except chocolate chips to food processor and mix until smooth.
  3. Add chocolate chips and mix by hand.
  4. Spread into prepared baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips over the top (and sea salt if you would like).
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until top is set and golden brown and edges have just started to pull away from pan.
  7. Let cool for 15 minutes and then serve.

I’m thinking the addition of some walnuts or pecans would add a nice touch as well. I also plan at some point try the above recipe with chopped nuts in place of the chocolate chips, I’m thinking it will have a butter-pecan kind of flavor and would be good for those who don’t like or can’t have chocolate.

Fish Tacos!!

OK, so it finally happened. What you may ask? I finally convinced my husband that we should try home-made fish tacos! Fish tacos tend to be my go-to when we go out to eat because it was something I wasn’t eating at home but after pinning numerous fish taco recipes I decided it was time for us to try this out at home. I used cod as my fish and pan-seared it instead of frying. I paired it with a chipotle pepper and cilantro sour cream and topped it with an avocado slaw. Let’s just say this received multiple nods of approval and will be a regular in our dinnertime line-up 🙂

For the fish, I took 3 cod fillets and spiced them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a small dash of cayenne pepper. If you have other favorite spices, feel free to throw those in too and make sure to season both sides of the fish. I then chopped some cilantro and added that to the fish as well. Next, take a small amount of olive oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet, and heat it over medium-high heat. Sear the fish on both sides, you will start to see a nice golden brown color when they are done (I did 3-4 minutes on each side, it depends on how thick the fillets are).

Meanwhile, make your chipotle pepper and cilantro sour cream by taking 1/2 cup of sour cream. Use 1-2 tsp of lime juice (more or less as desired) and mix into sour cream. Then, add chipotle chili powder (or just regular chili powder – just something to add a little heat) to the level of spice you desire (if you don’t like spice, you can leave it out all together too) – start small and taste as you add to ensure you don’t make it too hot for your liking. I think I wound up with 1/2 tsp of chili powder but you may want to start with 1/4 tsp. Then, add in cilantro, I used 1 tsp of chopped cilantro but again you can add in more as needed. I also added 1 healthy tsp of honey to add some sweetness.

Dice cooked fish into small pieces and layer into warmed tortilla shells (our 3 fillets filled 4 taco shells), top with sour cream and then add toppings of your choice. We used diced tomatoes in addition to the avocado slaw (recipe below).

For the avocado slaw, I used 1/2 bag (2-3 cups) of shredded slaw mix (you can also shred your own cabbage if you are feeling ambitious. For your sauce, mix 1 cup avocado salad dressing with 1/2 mayonnaise and a drizzle of honey to add some sweetness (if you use store-bought mayo instead of your own you may not need the honey). This made a pretty saucy slaw, so if you like your slaw a little bit drier, you may want to use the whole bag of slaw mix or limit the amount of dressing you add. We liked the flavor and moisture it added to the taco along with the crunch of the slaw mix.

My avocado dressing consists of: 1 avocado, 1/2 tsp of garlic (more to taste if desired), salt and pepper to taste, 2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. of water all blended in blender until smooth. Add more water if needed for consistency.

 

Cashew Chicken Quinoa Casserole

Like most people, my husband and I have New Year’s resolutions to be healthier and make better diet choices (we fell off of the bandwagon hard over the holidays…). We have been working on lower carb options and healthier grains. Enter quinoa, a trendy alternative to rice for many of our recipes. In a recent Pintrest search for new recipes, I came across gem which is quickly becoming a staple in our home. Next time, I may try making my own version of Hoisin sauce to make sure we are limiting our sugar intake. The picture and recipe come from http://fitfoodiefinds.com/2015/08/cashew-chicken-quinoa-bake/#_a5y_p=4232068

Here’s how to do it:

Preheat oven to 375 degF. Grease 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray of your choice (I used canola oil, the recipe calls for coconut oil). Rinse 1 cup of quinoa (I used white) and spread in bottom of baking dish. Layer 1 cup of minced yellow onion and 2 medium red peppers chopped into bite-sized pieces on top of quinoa. The second time I made this, I combined red, orange, and green peppers and it turned out well too, I did 4 total peppers. Dice 3-4 raw chicken breasts and layer on top of onion and peppers. Then, make sauce by combining 1/2 cup Hoisin sauce, 2 tbsp. soy sauce (I used low sodium), and 1 cup of water. The recipe also called for 1/2 tbsp. of fresh ginger, minced and 1 tbsp. minced garlic to be added to the sauce, I used about 1/2 tsp of ground ginger and a dash of garlic powder instead – you can use more or less depending on your taste. Once sauce is mixed, pour over chicken evenly. I also drizzled a little extra Hoisin sauce alone over the top of the dish. Bake for 45 minutes, uncovered. Then, sprinkle chopped cashews over the top and bake for an additional 10 minutes. You can also garnish with green onion once removed from the oven if desired.

We have made this recipe twice now and have loved it both times!

 

 

Pumpkin Muffins

As you could probably tell by the previous post, one of my favorite fall flavors is pumpkin! For the last couple of years, I have been roasting my own pumpkins for fresh pumpkin puree. It’s a little bit more watery than canned pumpkin, but I still love using it. I made these pumpkin muffins for work and they were a huge hit, getting numerous compliments. I love the texture that the ground oatmeal gives and the muffins are super moist and delicious! I tweaked the recipe a little bit and doubled the batch to make sure I had plenty of muffins to go around. The original recipe comes from http://www.makingthymeforhealth.com/healthy-flourless-pumpkin-muffins/#_a5y_p=4289226. Here’s what I did:

2cups pumpkin puree

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

4 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)

5 cups rolled oats (** If you doubled the original recipe, it would be 4 1/2cups but I did a little more to counteract my watery pumpkin puree, so if you are doing canned pumpkin, use 4 1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups chocolate chips (or craisins/raisins, walnuts, pecans, or whatever other add ins you want)

Heat over to 350 degF and line muffin tins for 24 muffins.

Ground oatmeal up into a coarse flour with food processor. Mix other dry ingredients. Then, mix wet ingredients in a bowl and mix with hand mixer or blend in a blender or food processor. Next, add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir until blended and add chocolate chips. Fill the muffin tins, about 3/4 full for each (I use an ice cream scoop to easily and neatly get the batter into the muffin tins). Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the top is a light golden brown. Allow to cool and enjoy!

 

 

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year…the boots, the sweaters, the fall leaves, the pumpkin spice umm, everything :)! I love soups and am always looking for a good hearty soup recipe to try for dinner. This soup was super easy to make and very delicious. It also made plenty for leftover lunches. We paired this with a mixed green salad. I prepped a lot of this the night before to cut down on the time it took – listed at 1 hour total – (we had wild rice pilaf the night before so I made extra and I went ahead and chopped the veggies the night before also). Special thanks to my friend Jess for finding and trialing the recipe before me (and sharing it for lunch!), and for Cooking Classy for the recipe and photo. I changed some things to try and make it a little lower in fat – I used 3 tbsp of olive oil instead of 3 tbsp of butter when making my roux and used 1% milk (I also used this in place of the heavy cream – 2 cups of milk total). You can find the original at http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/02/creamy-chicken-wild-rice-soup/

  • 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice blend
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (from 2 medium)
  • 1 cup diced celery (from 2 – 3 stalks)
  • 7 Tbsp butter, diced, divided (or can use at least some olive oil)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp of each dried thyme, sage and rosemary
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or just use extra milk)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  1. Prepare wild rice blend as directed on the package.
  2. In a large pot, melt 1 tbsp butter (or you can use olive oil) and add carrots, celery, and onion, simmer until soft. Add chicken broth, thyme, sage, and rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste (or whatever other spices you want – I added oregano).
  3. Once boiling, add diced chicken, cover and continue to boil for 10 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, melt remaining 6 tbsp of butter (or use olive oil – I did 1/2 butter and 1/2 oil) and whisk in 1/2 cup flour, stirring until blended. Cook for 1.5 minutes, then slowly add milk (I did all 2 cups at this point since I wasn’t using cream), continue to whisk until smooth and cook until thickened.
  5. Add flour/butter/milk mixture to the soup and stir.
  6. Stir in cooked rice.
  7. At this point, you can let the soup simmer until you are ready to eat, then stir in lemon zest, grab your favorite soup bowl and spoon, and enjoy!