Sweet and Spicy Twice As Nice-y

I have to say that I do enjoy eating healthfully, now if I can eat healthfully while feeling a wee bit sinful that’s even better. Kind of like my obsession with dark chocolate squares, a little bit of guilt but it has antioxidants and other good stuff so it can’t be that bad right? Anyhoodles, when I watched the episode from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger that featured recipes from A Day at the Diner I was more than intrigued.
This episode featured a grilled cheese sandwich that would become a favorite of mine in no time. Her Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches features sauteed red onions, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, beefsteak tomatoes on whole wheat bread. See, she didn’t even call for reduced fat sucky cheese or anything, rejoice! I like to serve this with her Chopped “Fixin’s” Salad from the same episode which is simply greens, pickles, onions, tomatoes (although I used red bell pepper instead) salt, pepper and a little bit of blended red wine vinegar and olive oil. So simple but what a fun and unique side to go with just about anything.
To really throw Ellie’s Healthy Appetite straight out the window, I thought of another sweet and spicy concoction that I love from Gourmet, that’s right people, Sweet and Spicy BACON. To make myself feel a little better I did use the Oscar Mayer Center Cut kind which counts as being a little healthier correct? :) Not really but I’ll just keep telling myself that. Seriously the sweet and spicy bacon with the sweet and spicy grilled cheese sandwiches is not overkill! Try it for yourself and I promise you will love it.

Cool, Creamy Dessert from Cooking Light

This week is a week of “house favorites” so I started it off with Turkey Meatloaf Sandwiches from the Neiman-Marcus cookbook that my dearest friend The Boo gave me for my birthday last year. When I first saw Neiman Marcus I thought “oh dear, this is going to be too fancy schmancy for me!” but dear readers it is NOT at all! The salads, sandwiches, entrees etc are actually pretty easy to make and everything I’ve made so far has been delicious. Now, I’m going to be a tease here because I don’t have the book with me today but will post the recipe soon…sorry, I suck!

I did also make the Cool, Creamy Dessert from Cooking Light last night. I would recommend this for a day when you have some time to spare since it is a layered dessert that takes time to, well, layer. This dish is sweetened by the powdered sugar, fat-free cool whipped topping, cream cheese (1/3 less fat and fat free), fat-free chocolate pudding and the flaky, pecan laden crust is wonderful. This is definitely something for a special occasion and is reminiscent of a tiramisu, without the icky coffee aftertaste or ladyfingers plus the fact that it won’t add 10 pounds to your backside. Also, I just got the new Cooking Light and Everyday Food so watch out all 10 of you gentle readers, there are going to be some really good recipes coming up!

Open-Face Pork Tacos from Everyday with Rachael Ray

I love tacos, maybe it’s because I’m a Tex-Mex freak, I don’t know, but me and tacos are like this.

I love trying new flavors for tacos and I have never had one with mashed plantains in it, enter the Open-Face Pork Tacos recipe in Everyday with Rachael Ray that is now one of my new favorites.

I was a little worried that two chipotles plus the adobo sauce would make this bad boy super spicy, but mixed with the sweet onions and crushed tomatoes it thickened into a delicious sauce that complemented the meat and orange juice.

The only thing I changed was instead of avocado, I made a guacamole with lime juice, cumin, salt, chile powder, salt and red pepper flakes. I smoothed the pureed plantain on the tortilla, then crunchy tortilla chips, then the guacamole topped with the saucy beef mixture. I always have to have some kind of crunch when all other textures are soft and this worked out well.

I was thinking this could easily be enjoyed as a vegetarian option too if you wanted to add in kidney or black beans instead of meat.

Yummy Mango Napoleons

So I made dinner last night and let’s just say none of the recipes I tried were really worthy of posting here…sad. BUT, the one shining dish was for dessert, these delicious Mango Napoleons from Everyday with Rachael Ray were so tasty that they are going on regular rotation in my house.

Not only were these super-easy to make, they turned out beautifully on the plate and were so, so, so delicious. I was a little worried about the flavor of the Greek-style yogurt (I used the 2% as I eat this stuff like it’s going out of style) since it can have a distinct bite to it. However, with a little sugar and vanilla extract mixed in, it balanced out the flavors and made it very creamy.
The ripe mangos on top with a little bit of sugar were the perfect complement with the yogurt mixture and flaky puff pastry.
Try these for an easy dessert option for a weeknight dinner or these are a great to be enjoyed at a party like the magazine suggests.
I couldn’t find the recipe online so here you go:
Mango Napoleons
Serves 6
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 20 minutes
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 ripe mangos, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a work surface, unfold the puff pastry and cut into 6 rectangles. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden-brown, about 15 minutes then lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake for 5 minutes more. Let cool.
Meanwhile, toss together the mangos and 2 tablespoons sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Mix the yogurt with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla. Using a serrated knife, halve the baked pastries horizontally. Spread the yogurt-vanilla mixture on the bottom halves, spoon the mango on top and cover with the remaining pastry halves.

Foods I Love to Hate

I’m very open to anything when it comes to food and love trying new things, but there are just some that I really am not a fan of and they have met their doom here. Muwhahahahahaha! I seriously had a disgusted look on my face the entire time I wrote out this list…it was not pretty.

#1 Fennel: tastes like licorice, no thank you. (Tarragon and anise get off the hook sometimes with me if they are in dishes so they are not on the list).

#2 Portobello Mushrooms: just too meaty for me to be a mushroom, blech

#3 Ricotta: the texture of ricotta is like a grainy, mushy mess

#4 Salmon: I can hear the nutritionistas pulling their hair out now. Salmon, it’s not that I hate you, it’s just if I had choice of any other fish in the sea you would always be last.

#5 – Eggplant: once again a veggie or I guess in this case a fruit (really? I didn’t know that) that is too meaty for my liking. Can you tell I don’t like vegetables that think they are proteins?

#6 – Capers: Ick, the flavor of these just makes me ill which is odd because they have the same flavor profile as olives (see below).

# 7 – Frisee: I was just reminded by a dear reader Wendy that I seriously am not a fan of frisee. You know that curly looking branch stuff that is in spring mix? Ewwww. I loathe this so much that I had to come back and add to my list. Thanks Wendy!

Here are items recently removed from my love to hate list, see Fennel you might be here some day…might being the operative word:

Olives – until a recent tasting here in the office I removed olives from salads, pizzas or dips because I just didn’t like the taste. However, I have come to appreciate an olives salty bite and varying flavors of each variety.

Caramel – this is odd I know. I really didn’t like caramel on things until yet again we had a tasting here in the office and I started to like it, not love it, like it.

Beets – oh beets, you are so earthy and delicious, how did I shut you out of my life for so long?

What are the foods you love to hate? Share with me!

Me Oh My, Tortilla Pie and the Best Salsa You’ve Ever Tasted

I came across this super simple Tortilla Pie with Chicken in the new Everyday Food and for some reason I love trying versions of this dish because it’s usually so easy to make and full of flavor. This recipe was easy to assemble and I, of course, love the short ingredient list.

I decided to not use one of the salsa recipes they recommended and instead use my favorite salsa recipe in the world. Thanks to the gentle souls over at We Heart Food they have the delicious recipe from the restaurant Luna de Noche in Dallas posted on their blog. Note to those who do not like cilantro: this sucker contains five bunches of cilantro, yes five bunches, so if you are one of those people who think cilantro taste like soap then this may not be for you. For everyone else, you will find that whenever a recipe ever calls for salsa you can whip this up in no time and have a delicious tasting salsa for your dish and the rest of the week.
To round out the meal I made a simple salad of fresh mango and pineapple with red onions, a little olive oil and distilled white vinegar with cracked black pepper. It was a fresh complement to the tortilla pie and the two gallons of salsa I consumed.


Open-Face Crab Burgers with Red Pepper Dressing and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Bell Pepper

Looking at the title I was obviously in a red bell pepper mood eh? I have to say I have been looking forward to these two recipes all week from the May Bon Appetit and they did not disappoint.

First, the Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Bell Pepper had some interesting flavor combinations of roasted sweet potatoes, cilantro, shallots, jalapeno, rice wine vinegar, green onions and obviously red bell pepper. I did not have a fresh red bell pepper on hand so used a roasted red pepper from the jar. The recipe doesn’t call for it but I kind of mashed this all together when it was still warm and the flavor was excellent and sooooo easy to make.
The Open-Face Crab Burgers with Red Pepper Dressing were just as easy to make. You will see in the recipe the sauce mimics what goes into the actual burger so you can easily set out two bowls and dump the same ingredient into each bowl as you go. While they melded in the fridge I made the salad and simply grilled and served.
 Give them a try, I think you will looooove these two!

Scallophobia? No Way!

I have to confess, I love scallops…when they are cooked at a restaurant. I have had a fear of cooking them at mi casa because if you overcook them they get too chewy and if they are undercooked well, let’s just not go there. SO, I was brave last night and tried the Seared Scallops with Roasted Tomatoes from Cooking Light and I did good for my first attempt!

This recipe was so fast I barely had time to do anything else (i.e. pour a glass of wine) until it was done. I wasn’t feeling pasta last night so instead I sauteed some fresh broccoli and served with the scallops and roasted tomatoes with just a smidge of fresh lemon juice.
Give this dish a try if you are looking to experiment easily with scallops – it was a very enjoyable. Do you think I’ve earned the right to wear a “Top Scallop” t-shirt now?
Also, in honor of April Fool’s Day I really enjoyed this story on Great Food Pranks. I cannot believe people really thought you could grow spaghetti trees.