Remember my last post where I talked about how I watched the movie Chef and instantly felt inspired to cook? Well, these incredible sesame, soy & honey glazed chicken wings also came from that giant bout of inspiration. In fact, I made 4 recipes that day in the span of just 3 hours.
It was pure magic, my friends. Sadly such bouts of productivity have since disappeared, but I’m hoping for another big day so I can get back on track with my blog, my job and all of my freelance obligations.
There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything I need done. Actually, scratch that, there isn’t enough DAYLIGHT in the day for me to get everything done. If I could just get home from work and have amazing light until 11pm, that would be awesome. Sadly, enough in the middle of summer we only have light until 7.
I think in order to get my life in order, I should just move to Iceland. During the summer, they have daylight until 2 – 3 am. It’s utterly insane yet completely amazing. I remember walking to dinner at 8pm and it was sunnier than it was at 3pm.
I think I could probably change the world if I had that much daylight. Until then, I’ll dream of my new life in Reykjavik while still trapped in Washington, DC.
Sesame & Soy Glazed Chicken Wings
- 3 pounds frozen chicken wings
- 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sweet ginger garlic spice mix (I used this brand)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 chives, chopped
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Grease the basin of a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
- Toss the wings into the crock pot.
- In a large bowl, whisk the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, shallot, sriracha, sweet garlic spice mix and one chopped green onion. Pour 3/4 of the sauce over the wings.
- Whisk the corn starch with 1/2 tablespoon water. Mix with remaining sauce to thicken.
- Cook on low for about 4 – 5 hours, or until the wings are fork tender.
- Once done, remove from crock pot and place in a bowl. Top with remaining sauce, chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
Nutritional information per serving (about 4 wings):
Fat: 26 grams
Carbohydrates: 35 grams
Fiber: 1.2 grams
Protein: 32 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 13
I’m not even going to apologize for my absence. Or go into this long diatribe about why I was gone. I was in New Zealand on the trip of a freakin’ lifetime and couldn’t tear myself away from the incredible views and epic adventures that were bestowed upon me every single day. For a snippet of my adventures, here’s my Instagram handle!
But I’ll be honest, I missed you guys A TON. Even though it may seem like I let this blog get dusty in the attic without much thought while I’m away, I actually think about it every single day. As fun as my life can be, I miss my daily posts. I miss cooking, to be frank. I miss editing photos and staging dishes like this creamy sausage pesto pasta.
I can’t promise a two week hiatus won’t happen again, so I won’t try to. Instead, i’ll just jump into this dish that completely blew my mind. Actually, the creation of it came the day I returned from a week-long work trip to Miami.
My husband was gone at a Super Bowl event and I was home alone. Since I already missed the eclectic and vibrant city scene of Miami, I decided to watch Chef. (PS: If you haven’t seen it, watch it now). While most are inspired by the cubanos in that movie, I was inspired by the pasta dish he made at the very beginning for Scarlett Johansson’s character.
When he was making it, he had this incredible passion in his eyes. And the moment she took her first bite and had this look of, well, ecstasy was inspiration enough for me to make my own version of it.
Not only is this one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had, I also haven’t had that much fun in the kitchen in a long time. I was dancing, singing and smiling. For some people, that comes daily. For me? I sort of lost it. But it’s finally coming back!
Creamy Sausage Pesto Pasta
Serves about 6.
Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes
Total time: About 35 minutes
For the pesto:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, if possible)
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Dashes of salt and pepper
For the sausage/vegetables:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 orange sweet peppers (the smaller peppers), chopped
- 1 red sweet pepper, chopped
- 2 cups crumbled turkey sausage (I love these Jimmy Dean crumbles)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
For the pasta:
- 1 pound linguine or fettuccine pasta
- Fresh basil as garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and add a dash of salt. Add the noodles and cook, on medium high heat, until al-dente, about 7 – 8 minutes. Rinse in cold water and set aside.
- To make the pesto, add everything into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Reserve 3/4 cup for this recipe and save the rest for later.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and heat until slightly translucent, about 2- 4 minutes. Mix in the chopped peppers and cook until softened, another 3 minutes. Mix in the sausage and cook, over medium heat, until golden brown. Mix in the pesto, pasta and cherry tomatoes.
- Heat another 2 – 3 minutes until everything is heated through. Serve with a dusting of fresh parmesan and basil leaves.
Nutritional information per serving (about 1/2 cup):
Fat: 22.6 grams
Carbohydrates: 60 grams
Fiber: 7.1 grams
Protein: 20 grams
Weight Watchers Points:
If you want to win me over for life, serve me surf n’ turn. There’s nothing I love more than a big juicy steak topped with shrimp. Well, maybe that and a big glass of Côtes du Rhône wine. And maybe a slice of cake.
I mean if I’m being completely honest, the way to my heart is through food that will probably stop it.
Which is completely hilarious and oh so ironic since my blog is technically supposed to be only healthy, good for you foods. But, as I’ve been saying for the past 2 years, I’m going through a slight crisis, er, rebrand, and I’m going to focus less on only healthy dishes and more food that I love to eat.
Which will be primarily healthy, low fat, low carb and high in fiber, but it’ll also include dishes like this that aren’t something you could eat everyday. Unless you’re a 1950’s mobster or on the Atkins diet. In that case, eat up my friends.
I’m still playing with new branding ideas and coming up with new website designs, so you probably won’t see a fresh new “me” until later this year. But in the meantime, you can expect to see more meals like this one grazing this little blog.
And is there really any better time to share an easy DIY surf n’ turf than the week of Valentine’s Day? Thanks to the amazing folks at Certified Angus Beef Brand for providing me with a box of amazing steak in all sorts of cuts, like rib-eye, flank and, my favorite, filet mignon. If your husband, wife or partner is a carnivore like myself, this is the meal to make them and these are the steaks to use.
Not only that, this is the perfect meal to make yourself if you find yourself alone on VDAY because you won’t have to share and can drink the entire bottle of wine yourself. Plus, nothing cures a broken heart like a big ol’ steak. At least that’s what helps me.
Surf N’ Turf (Steak with Shrimp)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
For the steak:
- 2 (5 -6 ounce) filet mignons
- Liberal dashes salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter*
For the shrimp:
- 1/2 pound shrimp, deveined
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Fresh cilantro or parsley
- Fresh parmesan
*For more flavor, use a compound butter. Here’s an easy recipe for one on SheKnows.
- For the steak. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Increase the heat to hight. (You want the pan very hot. Turn on the vent in your house to avoid smoke).
- Rub the steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Then rub the butter all over the steaks and add additional salt and pepper.
- Add to the pan and sear on both sides until browned, about 2 – 3 minutes.
- Remove the entire pan from the skillet and then place in the oven. Bake for an additional 6 – 7 minutes for medium rare. Let rest about 10 – 15 minutes before slicing.
- While the steak is baking, prepare the shrimp. Coat the shrimp liberally with seasoning.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, or about 3 – 5 minutes.
- Top the steaks with additional compound butter and shrimp. Serve with a dash of fresh parmesan and herbs.
Nutritional information per serving (steak with 5 – 7 shrimps):
Fat: 36 grams
Carbohydrates: 1 gram
Fiber: 0 grams
Protein: 60 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 15
Valentine’s Day is less than 2 weeks away! For me, this means one thing: chocolate. Well, I guess love and that sh*& too, but in the sake of being honest, I’m mostly looking forward to the chocolate.
Dessert isn’t something I eat frequently, primarily because I’m always on a diet. In fact, I tried to think of the last time I wasn’t on a diet and the date 1998 rang a bell. Which makes sense because that’s the year I turned 13. I’ve been on a perpetual diet since then.
However, I will also say I use the word diet very laxly. Like, my diets sometimes include bottles of wine for dinner, frosted donuts for lunch and two slices of cold pizza for breakfast. My diets also often include cheese, carbs, cheese, salt and more cheese. This could also be why my 13 year diet hasn’t prove all that fruitfull. I will say that in that time period I have lost (and subsequently gained) 30 pounds.
And even on past Valentine’s Days where I was sitting pretty 30 pounds lighter, I was so worried about everything I ate. I was so anxious about every little calories. And now, weighing much more than I’d prefer, I will say my relationship with food has never been healthier. I indulge when I want and celebrate every morsel. That’s why I don’t feel bad about eating (or posting) these rich and fudgy brownies. Sure they’re not healthy, but Valentine’s Day isn’t about healthy. It’s about being with the ones you love, and if the one you love is made with butter, cocoa powder and slathered in chocolate frosting, who am I to say you can’t enjoy every second (or taste) of it?
Fudgy Double Chocolate Brownies
Serves about 24.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Dash of salt
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 baking sheet with parchment paper and then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the sugar, vanilla, butter and unsweetened applesauce together until smooth and creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- In another bowl, whisk the flours, cocoa powder and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until fully combined. Using a spoon, carefully fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Bake for about 38 – 42 minutes, or until browned and crackly on top.
- Let cool completely then remove from the pan.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter, cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla in another mixing bowl. Spread the frosting over the top of the brownies and garnish with additional chocolate chips.
Nutritional information per brownie:
Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 50 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 3.8 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 9
One thing I loved about my job as a freelancer was that I constantly challenged myself in the kitchen. Because the site I wrote for relied heavily on social media networks like Pinterest for traffic, we were constantly having to come up with extremely unique and innovative recipes. Now that I’ve quit the world of freelancing and am just cooking for pleasure, food and my blog, I’ve sort of hit a creative wall block when it comes to inspiring ideas.
Instead of scouring cookbooks, Pinterest, Food Gawker and G+ for ideas, I find myself reverting back to classics that don’t need a laundry list of ingredients or a whole lot of time. That might make me sound lazy, but when you’re working close to 50 hours a week for a very exhausting, creative job, a classic is all you can handle.
That or frozen pizza, which is what I ate yesterday, shamefully.
However, I will say I’m trying a lot harder to inspire myself to step outside of my comfort zone in the kitchen. As part of my goals, resolutions or inspirations, I’m trying to make blogging something I do for the love of it and something I do far more regularly than I used to. I’m happy it’s not something I rely on for a source of income, but I also want it to be something I’m proud of again, something that reflects who I am as a person, a cook and a foodie.
This recipe for garlic glams with butternut squash bisque isn’t new, in fact, I made it months ago for my Gluten-Free cookbook. Sadly it never made the cut (we already had too many mussel recipes) and I completely forget it existed. Can you believe that?This soup is the creamiest, smoothest and most amazing bisque I’ve ever had. Paired with buttery and garlic mussels, it’s like a dream team when it comes to flavor. In fact, I’m going to remake it this week for a fun little date night in. Too bad my husband doesn’t like seafood, more for me, I suppose!
Garlic and Butter Mussels over Butternut Squash Bisque
Serves about 4. Soup adapted from All Recipes.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
For the mussels:
- 3 pounds fresh mussels
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- Cracked black pepper
- Fresh sea salt
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/4 cup chopped leeks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped orange carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow carrots
- 4 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
- Cracked black pepper and salt
- To make the soup, heat the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic and onions. Stirring constantly, heat the vegetables until soft and fragrant, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add in the carrots and squash. Heat another 3 – 5 minutes, or until they just start to soften.
- Pour the chicken broth, salt and pepper over the vegetables. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes, or vegetables are extremely tender. Remove from heat and pour into blender in batches until smooth and creamy. Whisk in heavy cream.
- To make the mussels, rinse them under cold water and scrub lightly to remove dirt and excess film from outside of the shells. Remove the mussel beards (or those loose hairs on the shells) and discard.
- In a large dutch oven or pot, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium high heat. Add the green onions, garlic and leeks. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the mussels and toss with some tongs. Add in the white wine and the broth. Cover and let steam for about 10 minutes, or until the mussels start to open up. *While the mussels are steaming, it’s important to stir them around so the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom and the mussels are on contact with the heat.
- To serve, ladle the soup into four large bowls. Top with a hefty spoonful of mussels and drizzle with remaining melted butter (from the mussels. Garnish with fresh herbs.
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 22.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 26.25 grams
Fiber: 2.8 grams
Protein: 32 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 11