Friday, February 22, 2013

Tuna Melt or Bruschetta?

Last night I made quite the treat for my family, I couldn't tell you what the name of this dish is because it obtains qualities of both a bold bruschetta, and a tasty tuna melt. I will let you decide:

Oh my gosh this was so.....incredibly...DELICIOUS. I can sincerely say that it melted in my mouth. I will admit, it was not one of my healthiest creations due to the the three cheese french bread I used as the base, but trust me, it was absolutely worth the splurge :)

Unfortunately, I ran out of tuna so only half of these delicacies had it, while the others resembled a typical bruschetta dish.

BOTH creations were packed with an intense flavor, I can vouch for that one because I sampled one of each :) Carbo-Load? I think so.

The inspiration for this dish, well, came from my own mother! She is the culprit of bringing home this wonderful french bread and a zesty Italian dipping oil to match.

The inspiration for this recipe, however, came from two dishes that I found on Pinterest. The one containing tuna came from while the one without came from

Of course, I tweaked just a few of the ingredients on both dishes in order to call it a creation of my own!

Here is the list of ingredients I used for the tuna dish:
*5-ounce can of White Albacore Tuna
*1 1/2 tablespoons of Hellman's Olive Oil Mayonnaise
*3 tablespoons of Shaved Aged Parmesan (1 tablespoon for each)
*Dash of Sea Salt/Ground Black Pepper
*1 tablespoon of Capers (chopped)
*1 tablespoon of Fresh Basil (chopped)
*3 Slices of French Bread (three cheese for an extra kick!)
*A swipe of Zesty Italian Dipping Oil (on top of each bread)
*Garlic Powder (as much as your heart desires)

Simply stir mayo, garlic powder, and capers in with the tuna and place on top of baguette, which should have already have a thin coating of the olive oil on its surface. Then top it with shaved Parmesan cheese, basil, sea salt, and pepper. Make sure the pan is sprayed with just a squirt of Vegetable Cooking Spray and broil for 4-5 minutes.

Fun Fact: Why use tuna? Not only does it have an incredible flavor but it contains a significant source of Omega-3 fatty acids which lowers the level of triglycerides in your blood (fats that clog your arteries!). In addition, it is a great source of protein and steers clear from ANY saturated fats.
Lesson of the day- EAT MORE TUNA.

In the original recipe, this dish called for home-made olive oil mayonnaise which sounded fantastic, however, I already had a jar of Hellman's in my refrigerator and with graduation approaching in the spring, I am trying to save every penny I can get my hands on for college!!! Can I get an Amen?!

Also, the chef of this original masterpiece used a hard-boiled egg in her recipe and I did not, however, I did add an extra splash of flavor with that zesty dipping oil!

The ingredients for the Bruschetta are quite simple:
*3 thin slices of Fresh Swiss (one for each)
*3 tomato slices (again, one for each)
*1 tablespoon of Fresh Basil (chopped)
*Generous swipe of Zesty Italian Dipping Oil (on each)
*1 Tablespoon of Shaved Aged Parmesan 

The only thing I substituted was Bocconcini (mozzarella) balls for Swiss cheese, because I had a large amount of fresh Swiss in my fridge from the Amish country!


A special dinner for the family has been served :) Enjoy!



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wake Up to Breakfast!

Rumor has it that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, well guess what? This could not be more true!!! Over the years, studies have shown that breakfast-eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast-skippers, that is, when the breakfasts' are healthy of course :) There is an endless number of benefits that a nutritious and well-balanced breakfast provides. For example, eating right when you wake up helps rev your metabolism, and can assist in regulating the quantity of food you consume throughout the rest of the day. Perhaps you have heard of ELMO.....Eat Less More Often? You do not need a pill for this folks, you can do this YOURSELF by doing your metabolism a HUGE favor by eating some calories in the morning! It doesn't have to be a huge meal, after all, something small is better than nothing at all. 

I personally LOVE breakfast. I try to go to bed hungry every night, just so I can wake up and start my day with a delicious, energy-packed meal! Today, I woke up starving because of the long and strenuous day I had yesterday- track meets are quite tiring! I was lacking my typical spunky mood, partly because my stomach felt empty, so I knew that I was in need of something more than just my usual bowl of oatmeal and a banana. So, I decided to whip up this quick dish:

It was FABULOUS and my hunger pains were instantly cured!:D

All I did was toast a whole wheat sandwich thin (only 90 calories) which, might I add is only $1.99 for a pack of eight at Kroger, and spread just a dab (a teaspoon) of butter for flavor. Then I put an organic brown egg on the skillet for about 2 minutes, flipped it, and added a pinch of shredded mozzarella, minced onion, and curry powder to the top of the egg. I flipped it again in order for the egg to fully absorb the seasonings. After that side turned a nice golden brown, I flipped it over to the sandwich thin and added a tablespoon of Chi-Chi's mild salsa.

Fun Fact: Not only is Chi-Chi's salsa inexpensive but it also does not contain any high-fructose corn syrup like some salsas' do!! Hint: The less ingredients condiments such as ketchup and/or salsa have, the better it is for you! Do you really want to eat something that has an ingredient listed that starts with Synthetic, or contains something like, Partially Hydrogenated Oils? Like, ew.
Get real.

In addition to my egg over-easy sandwich, I added a side of Oikos vanilla, non-fat Greek yogurt! As much as I love plain ol' vanilla, I like to add as much flavor to a dish as possible, which is why I stirred in 1/2 tablespoon of honey and a pinch of cinnamon! Finally, I topped it with a handful of fresh, juicy strawberries.

So there you have it folks, a quick and easy breakfast that contains the perfect balance between carbohydrates and protein! What better way to start your day than with this nutrient packed dish?:)

Egg Roll/Mozzarella Stick Combo!

On the evening of Valentines Day, I decided to spend the night with the love of my Sounds kind of lame, huh? Well wait until you hear what I made.

It was love at first sight.
I prepared an egg roll/mozzarella stick appetizer and it was quite a hit at my house!
The idea was, of course, Pinterest inspired. The recipe came from a and it gave specific instructions for homemade mozzarella sticks! Again, it was another spectacular recipe, however, I felt like it was my duty to make it even BETTER somehow. How does one make an already amazing dish better, you might ask? Step one: Ramp up its nutritional value content.

Here is what the original recipe called for: (quite simple!)

* 12 pieces string cheese
* 12 egg roll wrappers
* Oil for deep-fat frying
* Marinara or spaghetti sauce

I love it when the directions are easy to follow :) Unfortunately, I made it a bit more tedious but it is totally worth it, I promise!!

First off I must clarify something immediately. I did not, nor will I ever, and I mean NEVER, fry anything and blog about it claiming that it is healthy. That would seriously be going against everything I believe in. Luckily, there is an alternative to this sinful way of cooking delicacies- BAKE IT. Yes my friends, it is as easy as throwing it in the oven for 10-12 minutes and calling it a day. And you save about 100-150 calories of pure FAT along the way as well :) Yay for ovens!:D

The big thing I changed was the filling of the stick....cheese alone was not going to suffice!! I am an advocate for eating as many veggies as possible within a day's caloric intake, so I try to incorporate them in every meal I eat. This addition is what transformed the recipe from a simple mozzarella stick to a combination between that and an egg roll!

Here is a list of the veggies I added:
* Chopped Celery
* Bean Sprouts
* Mushrooms/Red Onion (Sauteed these before adding them into the roll)

Also, I substituted string cheese sticks for thin slices of fresh mozzarella.....string cheese made me think of my lunchbox back in the elementary days of my life, and I deemed it necessary to upgrade to a more mature cheese selection :)

Finally, once the the rolls were wrapped, I glazed them with Kikkoman's Teriyaki Garlic & Onion sauce. To secure the mozzarella stick taste, I heated up a spoonful of Classico's lovely marinara sauce for dipping :)

The result:


I was very pleased and so was the rest of my family! It was a very nice Valentines Day treat that did not include any of those nasty refined sugars that are found in most candy and chocolates! Not to mention it was very inexpensive to make....the egg rolls I used were only $2.50 at Kroger, and one package included 21 wrappers! The brand is called Nasoya, and I am particularly fond of their products because they do not include any genetically engineered ingredients, nor MSG! WOOOHOO! Yay for natural ingredients!

The only suggestion I have for you fellow chefs out there who are eager to try out this dish is to leave the rolls/sticks in the oven for 15-17minutes as opposed to 10-12minutes, because that will give them a crispier texture. Also, remember to lightly grease the pan with vegetable cooking spray to avoid them sticking to the pan!

That is all for now, hope you all had a very nice Valentines can try this out anytime, you do not need an excuse to make this special appetizer!:)


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sensational Stir-Fry!

Sunday. What a wonderful day Sunday is :) It is the day of the week where I can just be. My routine is quite similar each Sunday; I relax at home, do homework at a leisurely pace, go for a short easy run, and, on an occasion, become one within myself through the ancient teachings of yoga :) It is the day of the week where peace overwhelms the atmosphere. I find it necessary and even enjoyable, to reflect on any accomplishments that were made during the week, even if it was something as minuscule as receiving an A on a quiz. You earned it, so why not celebrate your achievement? Everyone could use a little extra confidence, so take pride in any step you make towards success. And now with my latest addition to my Sunday routine, cooking nutritious Pinterst-inspired meals for my family, I have found my extra source of confidence.

Life is GOOD :)

Anyways, that is a sneak peak of my sporadic Buddha wisdom for all of you fellow readers out there....let us resume to the dish shall we?;)
Two weeks ago, one of my dear friends Anna asked me what I was planning on making for my blog that Sunday, and I had told her about my idea of giving the sweet potato skin recipe a whirl. She kindly responded, "Oh yum!! But you know what would be really good? STIR-FRY." And just like that, inspiration was BORN.


I am quite the fan of Chinese food, but I always feel gross after I consume a plate of sesame or orange chicken with a side of lo mein noodles- it is one of those dishes where it feels good while eating it, but causes severe stomach cramps afterwards. Yeah, we have all been there. Soooo, I was eager to come upon this light and zesty Stiry-Fry dish on Pinterest!:)

Say, "Bye-Bye" to heavily doused oily veggies, and say hello to a light sensational flavor!

The inspiration for this heavenly dish came from!

This recipe is killer on its own, but in order to claim it as one of my own creations I had to add a bit of a twist to this already fabulous recipe!

Here is what the recipe calls for:

    Sauce:                                                                      Stir-Fry
    -1/2 cup of orange juice                                -1 lb. chicken (cubed)
    - 2 tablespoons soy sauce                            -salt/pepper
    - 2 tablespoons rice vinegar                       -3 tablespoons corn starch
    -1 tablespoon oyster sauce                          -4 cups chopped veggies
    -1 tablespoon orange zest                            -olive oil
    -2 large garlic cloves                                     -1/2 cup yellow onion (chopped)
    -1 teaspoon minced ginger
    -optional sweetener: sugar, honey etc.

I made just a few tweaks to the recipe to better its nutritional value and to save a couple bucks along the way too- woohoo!
Instead of using both oyster and soy sauce, I raided my pantry and found teriyaki sauce which contains a significant source of soy sauce in it already! Conveniently, this bottle of teriyaki had 40% less sodium than its normal sauce- my heart will thank me for that one!:D I substituted the oyster and soy sauces for 3 tablespoons of teriyaki and it turned out great!

In addition, I substituted whole wheat flour for corn starch to eliminate those harmful GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) found in corn products! Also, a little extra fiber never hurt anyone either ;)

Finally, for my choice of veggies I threw in yellow squash, broccoli, mushroom, carrots (shaved 1 whole carrot), and bean sprouts.

The result: DELICIOSO! 

The directions are SO easy to follow. For the sauce, all you need to do is throw all of its ingredients into a blender and let them mix together for 10-15 seconds on a high speed.

Once it has the consistency of a puree, pour into a large skillet over medium heat and let it begin to bubble. Next throw in seasoned chicken (which should be already massaged with a coat of that whole wheat flour) and all of your veggies/olive oil! Keep on skillet till your veggies have a nice crunch :)

Once your Stir-Fry has reached perfection, pour it upon a bed of wild grain or brown rice. Your Chinese fix is complete :) Without all of that extra peanut oil and fried breading that makes your stomach feel grody!!!

There you have it folks, a Sensational Stir-Fry dish can be made in no time in the comfort of your own home! 



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Seaside Satisfaction!

Do you ever wish you could live off of the coast of an island? Being a native of Ohio, I am deprived of this beautiful oceanic scenery- I mean we have Lake Erie but I would not necessarily call that a beach, or sanitary for that matter. YUCK!

Since I do not have the luxury of stepping out to a beach in my back yard, why not bring a piece of the ocean home to me? "How do you do this exactly?" one might ask. The answer is quite simple, introduce a piece of the ocean to your home that you can get from any grocery store in ANY state, seafood! I apologize if I just killed your dreams of transforming the living room into a beach, but hey, my advice remains solely for dinner table adventures!

I.....L-O-V-E seafood. I am not picky when it comes to selecting seafood, scallops, shrimp, tilapia, lobster, crab- I could go on for days, seriously. But one of my absolute favorites is salmon, because not only does it taste fabulous with any rice & veggie dish you can imagine, but it also contains a significant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which provide numerous beneficial perks for all over your body! For example, they can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, strengthen arteries, prevent loss of eyesight, improves both memory and skin texture, and much much more!

The thicker the cut of salmon, the BETTER it is for you. Yeah so, "Go Big or GO HOME."

Here is the dish I prepared (another classic improv creation of my own):


                                                              One word: YUM.

                                           I loved it so much I took another picture :)

Notice I added a side of sauteed asparagus, red onion, and wild grain rice to compliment this meaty delight. And of course, I added my fair share of garlic powder, dill, pepper, minced onion, Parmesan cheese, rosemary, and Italian seasoning to the sides and salmon as well for an extra explosion of flavor! Just brush the salmon with 1/2-1 tablespoon of olive oil and add a dash (or a pile, whatever your taste buds can handle) of spices to the top before you throw it in the oven, which should be preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Quick Tip: If you let the salmon defrost entirely, the quicker it will cook in the oven. This should be common sense but it is tough to wait around while you are starving! So to avoid this altogether, let the salmon sit out on an open plate and cover with saran wrap, and allow it to sit out for about 2 hours before you begin splashing it with seasonings.

There you have it, a Midwesterner's dream dish fresh from the Pacific Ocean :)

Hope you enjoy!!!!