Shrimp Tacos.. Ole!

The weather has been dreary lately and so I wanted to add some freshness to our dinner tonight. What better way than to bring the flavors of shrimp tacos with a touch of sweet tropical salsa?!
In Mexico, the word taco is a generic term like the English word, sandwich. A taco is simply a tortilla wrapped around a filling. Like a sandwich the filling can be made with almost anything and prepared in many different ways. Tacos also vary according to the geographical region you are eating them.

Seafood tacos with salsa are easy to make and somewhat exotic. Most people associate tacos beef, chicken or pork but the use of seafood is now seen as a healthier alternative. There’s so many ways to make a taco and it’s accompanying salsa, that the possibilities are endless.

Here is the recipe for Soft Shrimp Tacos with a Tropical Salsa, adapted from CookingLight.com:

Salsa:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon canned chopped green chiles
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits in juice, drained

Tacos:
Cooking spray
1 cup total of yellow, red & green bell pepper strips
1 cup vertically sliced white onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
0% greek yogurt for garnish

– To prepare the salsa, combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill.
– To prepare tacos, place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot.
– Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.
– Add shrimp, cumin, chili powder; sauté 3 minutes or until shrimp are done.
– Stir in cilantro.
– Spoon 1/2 cup shrimp mixture over one half of each tortilla.
– Top with about cheese, salsa and yogurt; fold tortillas in half.

Shrimp Tacos.. Ole!

The weather has been dreary lately and so I wanted to add some freshness to our dinner tonight. What better way than to bring the flavors of shrimp tacos with a touch of sweet tropical salsa?!
In Mexico, the word taco is a generic term like the English word, sandwich. A taco is simply a tortilla wrapped around a filling. Like a sandwich the filling can be made with almost anything and prepared in many different ways. Tacos also vary according to the geographical region you are eating them.

Seafood tacos with salsa are easy to make and somewhat exotic. Most people associate tacos beef, chicken or pork but the use of seafood is now seen as a healthier alternative. There’s so many ways to make a taco and it’s accompanying salsa, that the possibilities are endless.

Here is the recipe for Soft Shrimp Tacos with a Tropical Salsa, adapted from CookingLight.com:

Salsa:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon canned chopped green chiles
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits in juice, drained

Tacos:
Cooking spray
1 cup total of yellow, red & green bell pepper strips
1 cup vertically sliced white onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
0% greek yogurt for garnish

– To prepare the salsa, combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill.
– To prepare tacos, place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot.
– Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.
– Add shrimp, cumin, chili powder; sauté 3 minutes or until shrimp are done.
– Stir in cilantro.
– Spoon 1/2 cup shrimp mixture over one half of each tortilla.
– Top with about cheese, salsa and yogurt; fold tortillas in half.

Hodge Podge Souper Sunday

It’s a perfect day for soup! So I pulled out my trust crockpot and made a hodge podge Chicken Vegetable soup with leftover veggies and chicken, and some barley for good measure.

Barley‘s been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare. It’s most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad. At most stores, there are two types of barley available. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off… but it’s less nutritious and more popular since it’s not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster. For my soup, I chose to use the pearl barley.

Here is my recipe for Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup:

1 cup frozen, cooked and drained spinach
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup of carrots, diced
1 cup of mushooms, sliced
2 cups frozen or canned corn
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
2 cups of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups water or chicken stock/broth
2 chicken buillon cubes – omit if using stock/broth
3/4 dried barley
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 cup chicken sausage, diced

– Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

I served this with crusty french bread & a fresh green salad. Yum.. filling and good for you!

Hodge Podge Souper Sunday

It’s a perfect day for soup! So I pulled out my trust crockpot and made a hodge podge Chicken Vegetable soup with leftover veggies and chicken, and some barley for good measure.

Barley‘s been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare. It’s most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad. At most stores, there are two types of barley available. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off… but it’s less nutritious and more popular since it’s not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster. For my soup, I chose to use the pearl barley.

Here is my recipe for Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup:

1 cup frozen, cooked and drained spinach
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup of carrots, diced
1 cup of mushooms, sliced
2 cups frozen or canned corn
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
2 cups of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups water or chicken stock/broth
2 chicken buillon cubes – omit if using stock/broth
3/4 dried barley
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 cup chicken sausage, diced

– Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

I served this with crusty french bread & a fresh green salad. Yum.. filling and good for you!

Let’s Squash This…Seriously!

Well I’m on a healthy kick and tonight I finally made a recipe using spaghetti squash! It’s a new favorite of mine and definitely a healthy alternative to standard pasta.
Averaging from 4 to 8 pounds, the cylinder shaped spaghetti squash is generally available year-round with a peak season from early fall through winter. While a true spaghetti squash is pale ivory to pale yellow in color, in the early 1990’s, an orange spaghetti squash, known as “Orangetti” was developed and this is what is frequently found in today’s supermarkets. Higher in beta carotene, the orange variety is also bit sweeter than its paler counterpart, although both have a mild flavor that is easily enhanced by the food served with or on it. A dieter’s dream, a four-ounce serving of spaghetti squash has only 37 calories!Here is the recipe for my Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bake which was inspired by my friend Cara:

2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
ground black pepper to taste
10 oz chopped, cooked & drained spinach
2 links of chicken sausage, such as spinach asiago (Optional – can omit completely)
1 cup pasta sauce
1/2 cup italian cheese blend

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
– In a 9×13 pan, grease it well with cooking spray.
– Layer the cooked spaghetti squash on the bottom of the pan.
– In a pan, saute garlic, onions in olive oil and cook until softened.
– Add mushrooms and spinach, cooking until heated through.
– Add black pepper to taste.
– Layer the mushroom/spinach mixture on top of spaghetti squash in pan.
– (If using sausage – Cut the sausage links into thin slices and layer over mushroom/spinach mixture in pan.)
– Top with pasta sauce.
– Sprinkle italian cheese on top.
– Bake for 30-40 minutes; let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Let’s Squash This…Seriously!

Well I’m on a healthy kick and tonight I finally made a recipe using spaghetti squash! It’s a new favorite of mine and definitely a healthy alternative to standard pasta.
Averaging from 4 to 8 pounds, the cylinder shaped spaghetti squash is generally available year-round with a peak season from early fall through winter. While a true spaghetti squash is pale ivory to pale yellow in color, in the early 1990’s, an orange spaghetti squash, known as “Orangetti” was developed and this is what is frequently found in today’s supermarkets. Higher in beta carotene, the orange variety is also bit sweeter than its paler counterpart, although both have a mild flavor that is easily enhanced by the food served with or on it. A dieter’s dream, a four-ounce serving of spaghetti squash has only 37 calories!Here is the recipe for my Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bake which was inspired by my friend Cara:

2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
ground black pepper to taste
10 oz chopped, cooked & drained spinach
2 links of chicken sausage, such as spinach asiago
1 cup pasta sauce
1/2 cup italian cheese blend

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
– In a 9×13 pan, grease it well with cooking spray.
– Layer the cooked spaghetti squash on the bottom of the pan.
– In a pan, saute garlic, onions in olive oil and cook until softened.
– Add mushrooms and spinach, cooking until heated through.
– Add black pepper to taste.
– Layer the mushroom/spinach mixture on top of spaghetti squash in pan.
– Cut the sausage links into thin slices and layer over mushroom/spinach mixture in pan.
– Top with pasta sauce.
– Sprinkle italian cheese on top.
– Bake for 30-40 minutes; let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Pretzel Twisting, Anyone?

It’s yet another cold night and with some extra time on my hands, I decided to try a pretzel recipe that my friend Amber shared with me. However, I wanted to be a little more adventurous and add a healthy sweet spin.

Here’s my recipe for honey wheat apple cinnamon pretzels:

Dough:
1/8 cup hot water
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 cups whole wheat flour

Baking soda bath:
4 cups water
4 tablespoons baking soda

Cooking spray
Melted butter
Cinnamon sugar for topping

– Prep your baking soda bath by adding ingredients to a 3-4 qt pan and letting it come to a gentle boil.
– Prep another baking sheet with cooking spray, being sure it is fully greased.
– Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

– In a large bowl, combine hot water & yeast. Stir until dissolved.
– Add warm water, brown sugar, applesauce, honey and cinnamon. Stir until combined.
– Slowly add 4 cups of whole wheat flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a dough that doesnt stick to the sides of the bowl.
– Lightly flour counter or a large baking sheet and also your hands.
– Knead the dough until it is stretch & smooth. Push dough down and away from you with the palms of your hands, turning the dough as you work.
– Divide the dough into 8 equal sized balls. Using the following 4 steaps, shape each dough balls into a pretzel shape:
1. Roll the dough into a 14″ long rope as thick as your thumb. Bend the dough into a U shape.
2. Cross one ends of the rope over the other one. The ropes should cross about 3″ from the tips.
3. Twist the crossed ends, making a full turn. Fold ends back, towards the middle of the U.
4. Open the ends slightly to form a pretzel shape. Press ends into the dough firmly.

– After you’ve made your pretzels, your baking soda bath will be ready.
– Using a pancake turner/wide slotted spatula, immerse one pretzel into the water and allow it to come up to the surface. It will float when its ready – about 30-35 seconds.
– Place pretzel onto your greased cookie sheet, shaking off excess water.
– Spray the tops of your pretzels with cooking spray and bake for 8-10 minutes.
– Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
– Brush with melted butter and top with cinnamon sugar.