Monday, August 27, 2012

Bruschetta Chicken

Along with our abundance of zucchini, we've also had a ton of fresh basil and tomatoes that we've been putting to use. My favorite use of them thus far is in this chicken. It was moist, delicious, and some of the best grilled chicken we've ever made. Which is why we've made it three times in as many weeks. It really is that good.

Buschetta Chicken
adapted from Riches to Rags

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup + 2 Tb. balsamic vinegar, divided
1/2 cup olive oil
4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (4-6 ounces each)
4 slices mozzarella cheese
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade (or chopped)
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Combine garlic, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in gallon size ziploc bag. Add chicken and marinade for at least 4 hours (or up to 24).
2. Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Mix tomatoes, remaining 2 Tb. balsamic, and basil in small bowl and set aside. Remove chicken from marinade and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat for 5-6 minutes per side, or until instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees. Top with mozzarella cheese and grill for 1 more minute, to melt cheese. Divide tomato mixture evenly over chicken.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

We planted two zucchini plants in our garden this year. The first day we picked anything from our garden, we picked eight zucchini. We've been getting several a day almost every day since. While I love zucchini, I can only eat it so many days in a row before I get a little sick of it. We've done zucchini fries, zucchini quesadillas, zucchini muffins, zucchini pasta, grilled zucchini, sauteed zucchini and several other iterations. But I think that this one is probably my favorite of them all.

If you happen to have a garden full of zucchini, this is the perfect use for it. And if you don't, it's good enough to wrangle some up (I'm sure you have neighbors that are willing to part with some, or you can probably find it cheap at the grocery store at this time of year). After making it seven or eight times in the last two months, I practically know the recipe by heart. It is moist and delicious, almost like a texas chocolate sheet cake in flavor, and probably one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever made. And the frosting...oh the frosting. It is amazing! I hope you love this one as much as we do!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
barely adapted from

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I've also used melted butter or coconut oil with great results)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely shredded zucchini (no need to peel, just throw it in the food processor or shred it on the small holes in a box grater)

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, mix sugar, vanilla, and oil. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until well combined (batter will be very dry). Stir in zucchini.
3. Spread evenly in prepared pan (the batter might still be dry at this point, but it will moisten from the zucchini. I usually just keep stirring until it moistens enough to spread it in the pan). Bake 25-30 minutes, until cake springs back when gently touched in center. Set aside to cool.
4. Make frosting by beating together cocoa and butter. Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Spread over cake.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

This is one of the most delicious meals I've made in the past couple of months. Even Corey (who doesn't normally think that a salad constitutes a meal and isn't quite on-board with quinoa yet) thought that it was delicious and said he was excited to eat it again--soon. This meal is also super healthy and quick to throw together if you use leftover quinoa and chicken. If you've never made quinoa before, here is a good tutorial on how to cook it. If you're looking for another way to enjoy it--try serving it with this Honey-Balsamic Glazed Salmon. Enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad
adapted from What's Gaby Cooking 

serves 2

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen, thawed)
1 cup shredded, cooked BBQ chicken
1 1/2 - 2 cups baby spinach
1 avocado, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 green onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
2-3 Tb. BBQ sauce
2-3 Tb. ranch dressing
juice of 1/2 lime
1/8 tsp. each cumin and chipotle chili powder
fresh chopped cilantro and lime wedges for serving

1. Combine  BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, lime juice, cumin and chili powder in small bowl. Stir until completely combined.
2. Toss all remaining ingredients in large bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Divide evenly onto serving plates and serve with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Salmon

This post doesn't require a lot of explanation. All I really need to say is this: this is probably my favorite dinner. To say that I love it is an understatement. The glaze is unbelievably good--the perfect mix of sweet, spicy, and tangy. It is fast and easy to throw together but tastes incredible--perfect for company or to mix up the weekly dinner rotation. My favorite way to serve the glaze is over salmon, quinoa and pan-fried spinach (it makes for a super healthy and delicious meal!), but it's also fantastic with chicken, rice, roasted potatoes, veggies, really can't go wrong here.

A few notes:
1. I have made this with cheap $3/bottle balsamic and it turned out great, and I've also made it with more expensive balsamic and it is even better.
2. I definitely recommend using freshly squeezed orange juice, it punches up the flavor and the glaze thickens a little better, but I've also made it with orange juice from a can and it's still good that way too.
3. I usually use skinless salmon fillets, but I've also used skin-on and removed the skin after cooking (after the salmon is cooked the skin slides off really easily--I definitely don't recommend removing the skin before cooking because it is much more difficult to cut off.) I almost always have salmon in the freezer--they sell Wild Alaskan Salmon at Walmart in the freezer section for something like $5/bag. It has 4 individually frozen pieces all shrink-wrapped so you can pull out just what you need. I just thaw the salmon in the sink in warm water for 15ish minutes, remove it from the plastic, dry it, and cook it. It's super convenient!
4. I usually only cook 2-3 pieces of salmon because that's all we need for a meal, but I make the full amount of glaze so we have extra to drizzle over our quinoa/rice/veggies/etc.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as we do!

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Salmon
from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

4 (6 ounce) boneless salmon fillets
salt and pepper
olive oil cooking spray
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
3 Tb. balsamic vinegar
2 Tb. honey
1 Tb. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1/4 tsp. fresh, removed from stem, finely chopped)

1. Dry salmon completely with paper towels and salt and pepper to taste. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray, then add salmon fillets. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through (fish should easily flake apart when poked). Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
2. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Stir remaining ingredients together and pour into skillet. Simmer over medium heat until reduced (it should be slightly thickened and syrupy), 3-5 minutes. Add salmon back to skillet and flip to coat well. Serve salmon over quinoa or rice and drizzle with remaining glaze. Good luck not licking the plate after :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kneader's Mint Brownies

Mint + Chocolate is one of my favorite combinations. Peppermint Oreos. Andes Mints. Chocolate mint truffles. BYU mint brownies. Mint chocolate chip ice cream. But my absolute favorite of all is Kneader's chocolate chunk mint brownies. I could literally eat them every day and be absolutely happy (and, unfortunately, very fat). A couple of weeks ago I was at Kneader's and the line was ridiculously long and I had two fussy kids so I didn't end up getting my brownie. I couldn't stop thinking about that brownie, and was craving it all week long, so I decided to consult my good friend google to see if I could find a recipe and make some at home. I came across this recipe and decided to make it. Best. Idea. Ever. These are every bit as delicious as the ones they sell, and now having the ability to make them myself is dangerous knowledge. Deliciously dangerous knowledge.

I think that these are best a day or two after making them (the brownie layer sets up just right so they're not quite so fudgy), so they are the perfect make-ahead treat!

Kneader's Mint Brownies 
barely adapted from Girls with Recipes

Brownie Layer:
1 cup butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I have used less than this, about 2/3 cup, and thought they still turned out just as good)

Frosting Layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 Tb. milk (as needed until frosting reaches desired consistency)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. peppermint or mint extract (use 1 tsp. for less minty brownies or 1 1/2 tsp. for more minty ones. They do peppermint ones at Christmas time and mint ones the rest of the year.)
2 drops green or red food coloring (red for peppermint or green for mint)

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream (or butter if you don't have cream on hand)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Spray with non-stick spray. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until completely combined. Gently fold in flour and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake 25 - 30 minutes (do not overcook). Cool completely.
2. When brownie layer is completely cooled, prepare mint frosting. Beat all ingredients together with mixer until light and fluffy, adding milk as needed to reach desired consistency. Using an offset spatula, spread over cooled brownies (make sure you spread it evenly so the top ganache layer will work right). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Make ganache layer by heating cream and chocolate chips in microwave for 30 seconds, then stir completely until totally melted and combined (microwave for up to 30 more seconds if needed). Cool slightly, then spread evenly over mint layer. Do not refrigerate, ganache will set up within about an hour.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Key Lime Pie

This is easily the best key lime pie I've ever had, and it is also the easiest! I made it for Christmas and have been waiting for Pi Day to make it again (March 14th = 3.14 = pi for those of you that might not be math nerds like me). It was definitely worth the wait and I'm glad that I had lots of other people there to eat it with me so I didn't eat the whole thing myself! I only got one picture of the pie because it disappeared so quickly...and in a room full of pies, that's saying something!

A quick note: the first time I made this I used fat free sweetened condensed milk and low-fat sour cream. It tasted great, but the textured was just a little grainy. This time I used full-fat milk and sour cream and it was perfectly smooth and creamy. Either way will work, you just have to decide whether you want to sacrifice the texture to save some calories!

Key Lime Pie
adapted from Allrecipes

8" prepared graham cracker crust (I always buy Honeymaid brand because it's the only one I've found that doesn't have trans fat)
2 cups sweetened condensed milk (about 1 1/2 cans)
1/2 cup key lime juice (I used bottled, Nellie and Joe's Brand is the best!)
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together milk, lime juice, and sour cream in large bowl until smooth. Pour into prepared crust and bake for 5-8 minutes, until tiny pinholes form on the top of the pie. Cool completely and garnish with whipped cream and lime slices.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nutella-Yogurt Fruit Dip

In case you haven't noticed, I kind of have a thing for Nutella. But let's be honest here: it's not exactly the healthiest food in the world. However, when you combine it with protein-rich, fat-free Greek yogurt and use it as a dip for fruit, it takes away a little bit of the guilt but still tastes amazing. This dip couldn't be easier and is SO delicious. It is thick, rich, and creamy--I think it tastes kind of like Nutella cheesecake.
Use it as a dip for fruit--I love it with bananas, strawberries, oranges, and apples, and it's also good with fresh pineapple, kiwi, and probably any other fruit you can think of. We also dipped pretzels, marshmallows, and graham crackers in it. I even used some as a topping on some whole-wheat waffles with strawberries and bananas, and I think it would be amazing stuffed inside of crepes. You really can't go wrong here--anything dipped in this magical stuff is bound to be delicious!

Nutella-Yogurt Fruit Dip

1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup Fat-Free Plain Greek Yogurt

Mix until completely combined. (If the Nutella is extra thick I microwave it for about 10 seconds so it's easier to stir.) Serve with fresh fruit for dipping. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to one week.
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