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Holy Cow...I Can Cook?

I started this food blog New Years 2010 to force myself to get in the kitchen and teach myself how to cook. Well it has been a year, and it turns out, cooking isn't so hard after all. I kept the promise I made to myself and cooked healthy yummy meals for my family all year. Once I just got in there, read the recipes, and experimented I found cooking is yet another form of artistic expression. Just like with my art, I let go of the fear of failure and found a new passion.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pear Salad

This is a nice fresh salad. Raw red onion can be strong, but the sweetness of the dressing and the pears help to balance the flavor.

1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp grape seed oil
4 cups baby spinach
1 pear (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup sliced red onion

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add spinach and remaining ingredients; toss well.

I served this with Apricot Chicken (see separate recipe)

Apricot Chicken

This recipe transforms simply prepared chicken breasts into an elegant dish! Less than 10 ingredients and a cooking time of about 15 minutes makes a busy Mom very happy!

1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup apricot spread
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp water
2 tsp lemon zest

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl : rub spice mixture over chicken.
2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook chicken about 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan, and keep warm.
3. Add apricot spread, lemon juice, and water to pan, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat 1 minute. Spoon sauce over chicken: sprinkle with lemon zest.

*I served this chicken with a Pear Salad (see separate recipe)

Win's husband rating: 8 out of 10!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

It is hard to go wrong with pork tenderloin! It is a beautiful, moist, roast that only takes minutes instead of hours to cook. Your best bet is to use a thermometer to test when it is time to take it out of the oven, an over/under cooked pork loin is not a good thing! Remember to let it rest before you slice it, to keep all those juices inside where they belong!

1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin -trim off any fat you see
3 tbsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (sliced into small slivers)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 475
2. Combine rosemary and minced garlic.
3. Cut several 1/2 in deep slits in the pork, stick slivers of garlic in slits along with half of the rosemary mixture. Rub pork with remaining rosemary mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork in roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Insert meat thermometer into thickest portion of pork.
4. Bake for 25 minutes or until thermometer registers desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices.

Serves 4

*I served this with the Caramelized Carrots (see separate recipe). Both the pork and carrots have a ton of flavor so I kept the starch very simple: Boiled Red Potatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little Smart Balance butter spread.

Caramelized Carrots

This is a really beautiful and simple side dish. I served this with the Rosemary Pork Loin. Just pop it in the oven with whatever you are already roasting, it is so easy!

1 lb baby carrots
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

1. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss to coat the carrots.
3. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 475 or about 15 minutes, be sure to turn them once.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Orange Shrimp

It is Orange season! Our backyard orange tree is covered with big, beautiful, oranges. This dish was a perfect choice for us right now! The weather has not been ideal lately, so we have not been grilling. For this dish, I grilled inside using my panini press. It worked like a charm!

Juice 2 oranges (1/2 cup orange juice)
2 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
2 tbsp green onions (minced)
1 tbsp cilantro (minced)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp grape seed oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 lbs shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 oranges (peeled, cut in half, and quartered)

1. Combine orange juice, ginger, onions, cilantro, vingar, oil, soy sauce, and orange zest in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover bowl and marinate in fridge for about 15 minutes.
2. Remove shrimp from bowl (reserving marinade). Thread shrimp and orange quarters alternately onto 8 skewers.
3. Heat grill pan coated with cooking spray. Cook skewers about 4 minutes each side, basting with reserved marinade.

Serving size : 2 skewers

*We served these shrimp skewers with wild rice and green beans. It was a very fast dish with lots of flavor!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lauren's Chipotle Grilled Pork with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

For the Pork:
2 Tbs minced chipotle chilies, canned in Adobo sauce
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
3/4 cup sliced onion
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed if necessary
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Salsa:
1 quart fresh strawberries, rinsed and cut up
2/3 cup peeled avocado, chopped
2 Tbs thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

To prepare the pork:
In a large ziplock plastic bag, combine the chilies, lime juice, onion and garlic. Add the pork, then seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or more if you want). Turn the bag occasionally.
When ready to cook, preheat a gas grill to high. Remove the pork from the bag and discard the marinade. Sprinkle with salt.
Place pork on the rack and grill over indirect heat, turning occasionally for 20 minutes or until the thermometer registers 155.
Remove meat from the heat and let stand 10 minutes, then slice crosswise.

To prepare salsa:
In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, avocado, scallions, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Toss gently and serve immediately over the sliced pork.

**Lil note: the first few times we followed the recipe exactly; but we really like a lot of salsa with our pork, so we started just "eyeballing" it with the salsa and making a bigger batch. And my hubby(master BBQ'er that he is) grills the meat his own way, but still pulls it off the heat when it reaches 155. So, the recipe is pretty flexible, if you want to tweak it to your liking. We've also baked the pork before too (when the weather was bad, and it came out just as yummy!)

Monday, March 1, 2010


So it has been 8 weeks since I started this new lifestyle and blog. Today I am happy to say I reached my first weight loss goal! Even with unexpected events, eye surgery for example, I managed to drop the pounds. I really don't feel like I have been on a "diet", it feels more like I have picked up a new is just a healthy habit. I would like to outline a few things that I feel have helped me on this road so far.

*At the start, I set out a long term goal. To lose X amount of weight by New Years 2011. I then broke that Big X into smaller goals with no real time line for each. That way I set myself up for achievement instead of failure. In the past I would tell myself "I am going to lose 3 pounds this week" only to be disappointed with a loss of 1 pound! A slow and steady weight loss is what I am shooting for.

*In the past I would weigh myself once a week. That also led to disappointments and then set-backs. I now weigh myself once every 2 weeks.

*One day a week I set aside time to meal plan. Usually on Monday I will sit down with cookbooks and write out the plan for the week. I try to cook with leftovers in mind, that way I am only in the kitchen every other night. I don't just plan dinners, I also plan breakfast and lunches with snacks in between. We are set all day, everyday, with healthy options. I feel like I am eating all the time, so I never feel like I am starving myself!

*Healthier food choices have included: low fat, whole grains, less sugar, less alcohol, less eating-out, and smaller portions. It sounds simple...but it is hard to give up those bad habits.

*I now make time for exercise. Mon. Wed. Fri. are my nights to go to Curves. I get out of the house and spend about 45 minutes with adults! It has really been good for my body as well as my sanity! I also try to get out with Evan everyday for our walk around the neighborhood ending with some fun at the park. Sometimes our good friends Lauren and little Memphis go with us, then it does not even feel like exercise! This week I would also like to add another activity on Tues. and Thurs. (my off days from Curves). Yoga/treadmill perhaps!

One of my biggest changes is in my mind. I try not to beat myself up if I have a bad day, or a few bad days. I just remind myself I can get right back on track and do better the next day or the next week! So far so good... on to the next goal!

Chicken and Artichoke Salad

This salad can go on top of English muffins (as pictured) or on top of mixed greens, in a wrap or spread on whole wheat bread. The pecans add a nice crunchy, nutty flavor.

1 can artichokes (chopped)
1/4 cup pecans (toasted & chopped)
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese (softened)
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp light mayo
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
2 cups chicken breast (cooked & shredded)

1. Combine chopped artichokes and chopped pecans in a small bowl.
2. Combine cream cheese, lemon, mayo, salt, and red pepper in large bowl, stir until smooth. Stir in artichoke mixture and shredded chicken.

*Make a batch of this and keep in the fridge for a quick lunch or light dinner! Super easy and really yummy!