Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Not Your Average Tuna Fish Sandwich

So I stumbled upon 2 tuna steaks in my freezer this morning and decided to make a new recipe tonight! I've made blackened tuna steaks before, but I thought I'd switch it up a bit. Tuna steaks are very inexpensive (my mom got a two pack at Trader Joe's for $4.50) and there are multiple ways of flavoring them and making meals out of them. Here is one of them:


Not Your Average Tuna Fish Sandwich (for 2):
2 tuna steaks
1 Tbl oil (olive, vegetable, or sesame works)
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
4 pieces of bread
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 Tbl Sriracha 
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup Arugula

Heat a non-stick skillet to very high heat. While it is heating, mix together all of the spices well. Coat both sides of each tuna steak with the blackening spice, making sure you cover the entire surface of the fish (if you like it less spicy, use less of the mixture). Once the skillet is smoking, add the oil, and carefully place in the fish. If you have a splatter guard, this would be a great time to use it. Cook the fish for 2 minutes on each side, then remove and let sit for an additional 2 minutes. 

Mix together the mayo, Sriracha, and lemon juice, and spread it on one slice of bread for each sandwich (the sturdier the bread the better...Ciabatta would be best, but anything you have on hand will do). Add the arugula on top of the spicy mayo (1/2 cup per sandwich). Slice the tuna into thin, long, strips, and place on top of the arugula. Add the top pieces of bread, and voila! 

Nutrition Facts (including bread, mayo, and arugula):
Calories: 440 per steak
Total Fat: 14.8g
Sodium: 910.6mg
Carbohydrates: 26.4g
Protein: 45.1g

The sriracha mayo is 78 calories per 1/8 cup, and the bread I used is 100 calories.


Enjoy :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pulled Pork Recipe

If you had the pleasure of attending the Brewer family Christmas party over the weekend, you also got to experience my crock pot pulled pork. I found a great recipe on What's Gaby Cooking?, a food blog that contains tons of delicious recipes for any occasion. Of course, I added my own flare to the recipe as well as doubled it so there would be plenty of leftovers!


Pulled Pork Sliders (doubled...makes 24 sliders):

Ingredients:
2 medium onions, chopped or grated
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbl black pepper
1 tbl garlic powder
5 lbs pork butt, cut into 2-4 pieces
24 slider buns

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients except the pork butt and the buns in a slow cooker and mix together with a spoon. Add the pieces of pork and cover the slow cooker. Set for 8 hours on low.

After 8 hours, using 2 forks, shred the pork and remove the pork with the remaining sauce into a large bowl. Toast the slider buns and add some of the pulled pork to each bun. 


Nutrition facts:
Calories: 378 per slider (including bun)
Total Fat: 10.5g
Cholesterol: 80.3mg
Sodium 553.7mg
Carbohydrates: 35.6g
Protein: 32.3g

Enjoy :) Also, feel free to add more spice or any other flavoring you like to make it your own!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Go-To Holiday Treats

With the holidays coming up, I'm sure everyone has a million parties to attend. If you aren't hosting, it is always polite to bring either a food item or something alcohol related. You should always ask the host "is there something you want me to bring?" before assuming they need anything. If they tell you "nothing," bring a bottle of wine. Most guests will bring either wine (which you can never have enough of since it doesn't go bad unopened) or cookies/brownies (which you will have too much of).

Wine #1
 
This is a Caplan family favorite year round but is more frequently consumed around the holidays. It's light, tasty, and relatively inexpensive (around $15 a bottle in stores). My mom bought a case of it and with extra savings, it equaled out to less than $9 a bottle! 

Wine #2

I think this may be my favorite wine of all time. The first time I had it was at The Cheese Plate in Warren, RI and my 3 friends and I loved it. Unfortunately, it is not sold in every liquor store (I guess this can be a good thing since it is one of my secret obsessions). It has hints of grapefruit and tastes similar to a very light and fruity pinot grigio. If you can't find Ken Forrester, Baron Herzog is probably your best bet as a second choice. 

I don't drink red wine so the next two are strictly recommendations from friends:
 
Wine #3

This wine is a little more pricey than the previous two (still under $25 though which is fine). It has a woody, yet fruity taste as you drink, and finishes your pallet with a spicy afterthought. It's great with Italian food and has hints of cherry, almond, cola and blue flower.

 Wine #4

I've heard great things about Kendall Jackson; whether it be the Merlot or the Chardonnay, it seems to be on point. This specific wine has a dense plum taste with hints of cherries and spice. It goes great with any type of food and good company! You can find it at most wine and spirit stores for around $20 per bottle.


Since I don't bring dessert to parties, I opt for H'orderves, dips, or any finger food really. For parties with my friends I am notorious for making Buffalo Chicken Dip or my Corn and Black Bean Salad. I'm spicing things up a bit this year and making BBQ pulled pork sliders from scratch to bring to a holiday party on Saturday! I'll post the recipe after, don't worry.

H'orderve #1

Christmas Eve is a small celebration for my family but it has always been one of my most favorite traditions. We always have tons of different appetizers (and wine) and you can always find these mini quiche! They come in 3 flavors: spinach, veggie, and cheese. The Veggie one is my personal favorite but they are all so delicious! If you can't get your kids to eat them, do as my brother did and dip them in ketchup (gross, Scott).

H'orderve #2
 
Yes I know, "way to self promote, Rachel." But seriously, these are SO easy to make and you can add a variety of ingredients. For some reason, not everyone likes buffalo chicken. These can be made with barbequed chicken, steak and cheese, or with just veggies and cheese. There are also so many different dipping sauces that can be used to change things up. 
H'orderve #3

As you know from previous blogs, I love crab meat. My friend Kelly is from Baltimore and is a genius on all things crab. Since I cannot divulge her family's recipe, I found one that sounds pretty amazing as a substitute. These little treats are a great finger food and aren't terrible for you either. You know it's a good party if these are present!

H'orderve #4
The link for this one goes to one of my favorite food bloggers. I have recreated quite a few recipes from Life's Ambrosia, and they have all turned out to be delicious. Instead of posting my own recipe for this finger food (super simple), I just shared hers. I've made many different dished with a baguette since they are so inexpensive. Cheesy garlic bread and this bruschetta are among my favorites. Easy, yummy, and a crowd pleaser!


Enjoy your holiday parties :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Favorite Breakfast Sandwich

I don't know why I haven't blogged about this before, seeing as how I eat them a few times a week. I'm talking about breakfast sandwiches. Now in my blog about food I don't like that makes people angry/confused, I mentioned that I don't like going out for breakfast. However, I love making breakfast at home or having my dad make it for me (he's seriously the best breakfast man ever!). I don't have a ton of time in the morning, but I make sure I leave at least 15 minutes to eat breakfast, drink coffee, and read the funny pages (yes I still do that).



Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Cabot shredded is best, reduced fat if you want)
1 Arnold Sandwich Thin (I use multigrain)
Ketchup
Sriracha (Asian hot sauce)

First things first, open the sandwich thin and put the cheese on the top piece. Place in the toaster oven and cook on medium/light. While this is cooking, take out a bowl with a round bottom. Butter the bowl and the sides (cooking tip: turn a zip-lock bag inside out, put your hand in the bag, and butter on the outside of the bag. When you finish buttering, simply turn the bag right side out, seal it, and throw it away). Put one whole egg and just the whites of the second egg into the bowl. If you like your yolk hard, poke it with a fork before cooking. Place plastic wrap over the bowl and microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds.

When the cheesy bread is done, squirt ketchup and Sriracha on the top half (as much as you desire). The egg will be hot, so I use a spoon to help get it from the bowl to the bottom half of the bread. Place the top half on the egg and you have completed your sandwich!

I like to eat spicy food for breakfast because it wakes up my mouth. You can omit the Sriracha, substitue for a different hot sauce, and add anything else you like to the sandwich (bacon, sausage, onions, etc).

Enjoy :)

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 272
Protein: 22g
Sodium: 700mg
Carbs: 25g

Monday, November 14, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Rolls

I discovered a simple, yet amazing looking recipe on Pinterest last Friday- Buffalo Chicken Rolls. I love buffalo chicken and I love finger foods, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The recipe came from an inspiring blog about a girl who lost 135 pounds through healthy eating and exercise. It's a great blog with some delicious looking recipes that I thought I should recreate. I usually alter recipes quite a bit to make them my own, but I only did one alteration in this case and they came out fabulous. They are a bit time consuming but very easy to make!


Buffalo Chicken Rolls (pictures and recipe directly from Can You Stay For Dinner?)

12 egg roll wrappers (they are in the produce section at the grocery store...took me a while to find)
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (6 ounces)
1/2- 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup broccoli slaw or cole slaw (dry)
Small bowl of water
Nonstick cooking spray
Frank's Red Hot Sauce infused sour cream for dipping

To cook the chicken quickly and in bulk, place 1/2 lb of uncooked chicken breast in a small pot and fill with enough water just to cover it. Bring to a boil on your stove top, reduce the heat slightly, then simmer for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and let cool before shredding with two forks, pulling against the grain of the meat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lay egg roll wrappers on a clean work surface. In a small bowl, stir and hot sauce until well coated, using more or less sauce depending on your spice preference. The meat should be moist with sauce.
 
Begin by placing one tablespoon of the broccoli slaw on the diagonal of the bottom right corner of one of the wrappers. Next, place 2 tablespoons of shredded spicy chicken evenly on top of the slaw. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mozzarella cheese over the chicken. Do not overfill.



To fold: Fold the bottom right corner over the stuffing mixture so that it covers it completely, with the tip of the corner now pointing to the center of the egg roll wrapper. Fold in the bottom left corner, followed by the right, so that you now have formed an envelope. Roll the wrap upward one time, leaving the top left corner open. Wet your index finger in the small bowl of water and press to moisten the top left corner. Now fold that down on top of the filled roll, sealing it like you would an envelope.

Repeat with remaining rolls, then place the rolls on a wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet (or just on a greased cookie sheet) coated with nonstick cooking spray. Spritz each roll evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls crisp and turn a light golden brown.

Nutrition Information for 1 roll: Calories: 103, Fat: 3.2g, Cholesterol 19.5mg, Sodium 237.7mg, Carb: 9.9g, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugars: 0.3g, Protein: 8.1g

My changes: Everyone who knows me knows that I hate Blue Cheese so so so much. The original recipe calls for Blue Cheese crumbles instead of mozzarella, and Blue Cheese dressing to dip instead of my crazy sour cream mixture. I also just made a pound of chicken instead of the required amount so I have plenty of leftover buffalo chicken for sandwiches :)

Enjoy!


 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What to do with wine corks

If you are like me, you like to drink wine. I really only drink white wine, but as I'm going to a wine tasting in Boston this coming Saturday, I am going to give red a chance. But this got me thinking- what do people do with their wine corks when they are done? I thought I'd explore some ideas for DIY projects to do with used wine corks!

1. Tuscan Wine Relief Cork Display Wall Art

I stumbled upon this wall art while shopping for a housewarming gift. It's a really great way to keep and store your corks without them getting in the way or overcrowding junk drawers. This isn't technically a DIY project, but more of a gradual creation. You could even dye the corks different shades of reds and green to represent the grapes that the wine is made from!

2. Turn Corks into Candle Holders


I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it was a good reason for me to start drinking more wine (or taking corks from friends). Candle holders can be expensive if you want the fancy good ones, and the cheap ones are usually boring. All you need in order to make one cork candle are corks, a tea candle, a large glass cylinder, and a small glass cylinder. The blog that gives instructions mentions that the smaller glass is from a Dollar Tree, so you can imagine what an inexpensive but cute project this is.
 
3. Wine Cork Coasters


The top coasters are definitely easier to make than the bottom. All you need are cheap, square picture frames with the glass and backing taken out, hot glue, and 8 corks per coaster. The bottom coasters are unique and could also serve as trivets for hot dishes, but are difficult to make. For the bottom coaster, you have to slice corks with a sharp knife to get them all in a uniform size. Then, you would have to stitch them together with a needle and thread (the difficult part). I wonder if a stapler would do the trick...


4. Make a Homemade Piece of Art
 
One of the best things about cork is that it is 3 dimensional. Many little kids have those wooden/plastic letters from Michael's that correspond with the first letter of their name. They paint them, add stickers to them, or leave them white and hang them in their rooms. Pictured above is one of those cheap, wooden letters, covered in corks. Since this one doesn't look very kid friendly, I bet it would be super easy to dye the corks and then adhere them as a fun project!

5. Wine Cork Bottle Stopper

This last idea is probably the most common use for recycled cork. Cork is used in wine bottles to prevent the wine from leaking before you open it, so it makes perfect sense to use cork for the same thing when you haven't finished the bottle. You simply cut down the cork at an angle so the bottom is thin, and attach some little trinket lying around your house (like Legos for example). Clearly the person who made this giraffe bottle stopper is one of those people who buy little memorabilia from everywhere they go in the world.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Soup

So I made another crock pot recipe...although I can't take the credit for this one. I was on Pinterest (one of the greatest websites) and found this recipe via Real Mom Kitchen, which is a food blog written by a mom of 3 who is in the process of creating her own cookbook. When copying recipes off of an online resource, I always find it helpful to read comments by those who post them. This particular recipe got raving reviews with just a few suggestions to make it taste even better. This soup is very healthy and hearty, and was a crowd pleaser at my house!

Chicken Enchilada Soup
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with sweet onion
1 10oz package frozen whole kernel corn (the roasted kind from Trader Joe's worked great)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 10oz can mild, red enchilada sauce
1 10.75oz can low sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups milk (whatever you have on hand)
1/2 package of Old El Paso original taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand...we always use sharp cheddar!)
2 thawed chicken breasts

Combine the beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and peppers directly in the crock pot. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, enchilada sauce, soup, and taco seasoning. Place the chicken breasts (try to get them to be equal, medium sized) on top of the corn mixture. Add the liquid on top of the chicken. Cook on low for about 6-7 hours. Take out the chicken, shred it using 2 forks, and add it back into the soup. Mix everything up, and serve with a sprinkle of cheese on top!

For an extra Mexican flare, add crushed tortilla chips at the end as well. Enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken

I've never made barbeque sauce from scratch before, but it's always been one of those things I've been meaning to try. This Sunday was the perfect opportunity to try since my Mom was in NYC for the Food and Wine Festival (SO jealous!). Since I didn't feel like going to Shaw's I just used what we had in the house, looked a few sauce recipes online, and made some food.

The great thing about crock pots is that you really can "set it and forget it" which is great for Sunday dinner!
Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken (serves 4)
3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
2 cups of ketchup
5 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons garlic powder

Mix everything but the chicken into the crock pot and stir. Turn the temperature to high and add the chicken, making sure you cover as much of the chicken as you can. After 3 hours, pull the chicken apart using 2 forks to make it easy. Taste the sauce to see if you need to make any adjustments. If it tastes too ketchup-y, add a bit more soy sauce and or maple syrup. Let it sit for another half hour to 45 minutes and enjoy!

You can serve this in a sandwich, quesadilla, on a salad, or just eat it straight out of a bowl! Be creative!

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 330 per serving
Total Fat: 2.9g
Cholesterol: 54.8mg
Sodium: 1,899.1mg (rough life)
Carbohydrates: 56.9g
Protein: 22.9g

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken Parm Casserole

So today I'm sharing one of my creations that I came up with when I was hosting girl's night. I wanted to have a menu where everyone would be happy and satisfied, so I automatically though of chicken parm. However, as I pan seared the chicken, I decided to put it in a casserole dish and turn it into Chicken Parm Casserole, which has become one of my favorites to make for a large group (or just my parents and I).

                                                                  Photo Credit

Ingredients (serves 8):
1 pound of boneless, skinless, chicken breast
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk (or any kind you have on hand)
1-1 1/2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (depending on how much sauce you like)
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp salt, divided
2 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbl of extra light olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
9X9 casserole dish
Large non-stick skillet
3 large bowls/shallow dishes

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350º. Meanwhile, pound out your pieces of chicken so they are no more than 1/4 inch thick. The thinner the chicken, the faster it cooks. If you are buying the very thick cut of chicken, you might want to cut them in half lengthwise before you pound them out.

In bowl/dish 1, add your flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp cayenne. In bowl 2 beat the eggs together with the milk, and remaining salt and pepper. In bowl 3, add the bread crumbs.

Heat the skillet on medium high and add half of your oil (1/4 cup). You will want to change out the oil/add the remainder about halfway through cooking the chicken so they do not get too dark, or taste burnt.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the flour, coating the entire piece, then into the egg mixture, once again coating the entire piece, and finally into the Italian breadcrumbs. Place each piece of chicken into the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Once all of the chicken is cooked it is time to build the casserole. Many people add pasta to their recipes but I do not wish to kill people with an overload of cholesterol/carbs/calories. Place a layer of chicken on the bottom of the casserole dish. Spoon a layer of sauce (as much as you like) on top of that. Sprinkle 1/3 of your Mozzarella cheese and Pecorino Romano on top of the sauce. Repeat this process until you have your final layer of chicken, sauce, and cheeses (usually about 3 layers.

Place your casserole in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes and enjoy!

The great part about this recipe is the amount simple changes you can make to it to call it your own. When I made this last night I caramelized 3 large white onions and put them in between the layers of sauce and cheese. You could add mushrooms, zucchini, or even substitute the chicken for steak or veal. Get creative!


Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 461 per serving
Total Fat: 20.5g
Cholesterol: 138.3mg
Sodium: 1,127.3mg
Carbohydrates: 40g
Protein: 29.6g

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday Night Dinner

So if you are anything like me, there are always those nights when you don't really feel like taking more than 20 minutes to make dinner. On Mondays my mom has yoga which means I either have to plan something to make for everyone, or I raid the fridge. Usually the latter wins out. This past Monday I went straight from work to the gym and got home around 7:45 hungry for something delicious! This inspired the blog for today: How do I know what to cook?

There are 3 questions to ask before cooking dinner:
1. What do I have on hand in the fridge?
2. What will be ready in the shortest time?
3. What am I craving?

Monday's are probably the easiest days to raid the fridge because many American households have Sunday dinners, and it is the end of the weekend.  In my fridge there was leftover plain penne, ratatouille, I had made ground beef with sautéed onions and garlic for tacos on Saturday night, roasted chicken, squash, roasted potatoes, and I had plenty of herbs, spices, and vegetables to add.

I love spicy food more than any other food, so my first thought was to morph my ground beef into "Buffalo Beef." I added some Franks Red Hot and some diced pickled jalapenos to add the zing I craved. Since I didn't want to just eat a bowl of beef I mixed some of the beef in with some of the leftover penne. I picked out some zucchini (from the garden) that was mixed in with the ratatouille and threw that in as well. I then added some marinara sauce that was in the fridge, some pecorino romano, and threw it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Voilà! Dinner in less than 5 minutes, as well as a new meal to add to the recipe book: Buffalo Beef Penne.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Zucchini Cakes

So my parents have 2 gardens in the back yard- one for my dad to grow vegetables and one for my mom to grow herbs. This summer has turned my family into zucchini eating beasts. You should see the size of the zucchinis that my dad brings in from the yard. Since we have this overdose of zucchini we have been trying to be extra creative in cooking with the suckers.



In our family, we have been using the same recipes for dinner for years and years. Occasionally a new meal is created, but not often do we find something that can be added to the Caplan supper circulation. I often go on StumbleUpon.com, where you can “stumble” all through the internet for websites based on your interests. Since it was my turn to get creative with the green plant, I stumbled around looking for recipes. I came across a website/food blog called lifeambrosia.com which happened to have a tasty looking recipe for “zucchini cakes.”



I read the recipe the blogger had, tweaked it to my liking, and created a food that since last week I have already made twice. The first time went well and I used a “normal” sized zucchini. The second time, per request of my parents, I used the largest zucchini the garden produced all summer and made a triple batch (yes, with one zucchini.)



I froze most of the cakes since there were so for many the 3 of us but I can guarantee they will be gone in a week!

                                                                Photo Credit
Zucchini Cakes recipe (makes 8):
1 Large Zucchini
3 cloves garlic
1 egg
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (or ¼ of the pre bought)
¼ tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh black pepper
1 Tbl extra light olive oil



Grate the zucchini, remove excess water (with paper towels), and place into a large bowl. Remove the skin of your garlic clove and grate it with a micro plane into the bowl. Add the cheese, bread crumbs, nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper. Crack your egg into a separate dish to make sure you don’t get any shells and add to the bowl. Get down and dirty and mix everything up with your hands.

Pour the oil into a large skillet and heat on medium high. Form the mixture into patties about the size of your palm (a little larger) and place them in the skillet. Cook for 4 minutes and then flip them over, cooking for 3 minutes on the other side. Place them onto a paper towel covered plate to cool down.


These can be eaten by themselves or dipped in marina!



My mom and I were also saying if we opened up a restaurant these would make great vegetarian safe meatballs!




Enjoy :)






Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 110 per cake
Total Fat: 5.3g
Cholesterol: 31.6mg
Sodium: 468.7mg
Carbohydrates: 12g
Protein: 5.5g

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip: Lower Fat!

mmmm. buffalo chicken dip.

Let's face it, buffalo chicken dip is delicious, addictive, and something I crave once a week. However, the usual recipe has like 3000 calories and you can't move for 2 hours after you eat it. I decided to take the recipe from the back of the Frank's Red Hot bottle and make it a tad bit better for you.

                                                                photo credit

This is a double batch since I usually make it for a group of people because I'm such a good friend.

2 8oz packages of room temperature 1/3 less fat cream cheese (go with the Philly.)
1 Cup of fat free ranch dressing (Kraft is my favorite)
1 Cup of Frank's Red Hot Wing sauce
1 Cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast (the thinner the better)

Preheat oven to 350º F.
The easiest, healthiest, and fastest way to cook the chicken is to boil it. If you didn't get the super thin chicken breasts, just cut the thick peices in half the long way. Drop the chicken into the boiling water and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Shred the chicken into bite sized peices (either use 2 forks or get down and dirty with your hands). I usually do this directly in the container I plan on baking the dip in.

In a separate bowl (I use a measuring glass), mix the hot sauce with the ranch dressing and all but 1/4 cup of the cheese. Add this to the chicken and mix well. Once your cream cheese is nice and spreadable*, add it to the chicken mixture and mix well with either a spatula or wisk. Finally, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the dip.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until you get impatient and want to eat the dip. Serve with celery to be extra healthy, or tortilla chips to go a little on the wild side. Enjoy!

*no time to wait for your cream cheese to thaw? put it on a microwave safe plate for 10-15 seconds and you are good to go!


Nutrition Facts (rule of thumb is that dips have 15 servings):
Calories: 151 per serving
Total Fat: 7.6g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 874.5mg
Carbohydrates: 8.6g
Protein: 10.8g

Corn and Black Bean Salad

I love to cook, and one of my favorite summer salads is a corn and black bean salad. I searched the internet for the perfect one but decided to do my own thing instead. Here is what I came up with:

                                                                    photo credit

4 Cups of whole kernel frozen corn; defrosted
2 (15 oz) cans of black beans; drained and rinsed
3 fresh tomatoes; seeded and diced
1/3 Cup of scallions; diced

Dressing:
3 Tabelspoons of honey
1/4 Cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra light olive oil or vegatable oil
1 teaspoon blasamic vinegar
1 Tabelspoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt; separated
2 teaspoons pepper; separated

Mix the dressing until smooth and add to the corn, beans, scallions, and tomatoes. Add 1 teaspoon of both salt and pepper to the final product. Let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours (VERY important).

The best thing about this salad is you can serve it as a dip (like a salsa), eat it with a spoon right from the bowl, put in on your eggs, or add it to some spinach and romaine for a bigger, better, salad!

Enjoy :)