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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick Braised Cod in Vegetable Broth

This is a perfect dish if you are looking for something quick and healthy. I used spicy vegetable juice and added jalapenos for some extra kick. Next time I might try adding some additional spices to layer the flavors. I bet curry or cumin and oregano would make nice additions. This was great served over wild rice. Thanks to my mom for sharing this with me!


Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, like Vidalia, cut in thin slices
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 jalapeno, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable juice, such as V8 (low sodium is best, I used spicy V8)
Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (1 tsp. zest and 2 Tbsp. juice)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 pound skinless cod fillets (or other firm white fish, I used halibut), cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish (I used cilantro instead)

Directions:
Heat the oil in a 10 to 12 inch saute pan over med-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, salt and pepper, stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not brown.

Add the wine; increase the heat to med-high and cook for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable juice, lemon zest and sugar. Once the mixture comes to a full boil, immediately reduce the heat to med-low and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to maintain a low boil.

Add the fish; cover and cook for 10 minutes, maintaining a low boil.

Add the lemon juice and parsley or cilantro. Serve immediately.

Servings: 4
190 calories, 22 g. protein, 13 g carbs, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar per serving.

Recipe slightly adapted from the Washington Post 
 

Linked to Shine Your Light Mangia Mondays and EKat's Kitchen Friday Potluck

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Basement Renovation: The Plan

Other than filling in the hole in the middle of the basement, we also wanted to create more storage, a separate laundry room, and use up the empty space behind the staircase. The current layout had lots of unusable space in the back half of the floor, especially to the right of the fireplace and spiral staircase that we wanted to make better use of.

Layout Before:

3D Before Layout:
We decided to build a closet to use up the space to the right of the staircase to hold all of Casey's tools and we will build built-in shelving next to the fireplace which will be accessed from the living area. I plan to have books/games stored there.

By changing the location of the bathroom door (previously located on the wall to the right) we were able to close off the laundry room. The laundry room has a stackable washer/dryer to save space. At some point, we will have shelving/cabinets built there for laundry storage. The laundry room also has a walkout to go out to the back patio.

We kept the bathroom fixtures in the same place to save on work and money. We also created a storage closet in front of the bathroom to enclose the water heater and to allow storage for bigger items (brooms, ladder, etc).

Now the previously unusable space gives us lots of much needed storage. We also have a decent sized area to the left of the staircase which I have yet to decide how to best utilize. I am thinking perhaps a console table against the left wall. Or something similar with storage. The front half of the floors is a decent sized living area and feels somewhat separate from the storage/laundry space.

Layout After:



3D After Layout:








Layouts from floorplanner.com

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Basement Renovation: The Before

I have finally gotten around to preparing some posts for our basement renovation to post later this week. Before I show the amazing transformation, I thought I would show everyone what we had to work with.

The first picture is how the basement looked the day we purchased it. Yikes! Obviously, there are major cosmetic issues which I have pointed out below. Hello, early 80s. The biggest issue with the space is the hole (or pool, as we liked to call it, and it did in fact fill up with water once or twice after we gutted it but I digress) in the center of the room.

At some point, the basement was probably dug out since houses around here did not have basements when they were built. When the basement was dug out, cement footers were put around the walls (which are shown in the picture covered in teal carpet). The previous owner decided to use those footers as benches and have the sunken part in the middle be a dance floor. For the time, it was probably really hip and we have heard from neighbors that our house used to be an after hours dancing/gambling club frequented by Sugar Ray Leonard (btw, no stashes of cash hidden in the walls have been found). Bur, for us, working around that hole would have proven to be extremely challenging and we ended up having enough ceiling height to work with to be able to fill in the sunken space.


The aesthetics of the basement weren't the only concern. There was major water damage, leaks, mold, and termite damage behind the walls. We ended up gutting the entire basement to start from scratch. Here is what the basement looked since right after we moved in and Casey gutted it. Bye, bye mirrors! It was actually kind of nice to have this space to work in while we were renovating the rest of the house, but eventually we were ansy to have the extra livable space.

More to come soon!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chicken Thighs with Olives and Tomato Sauce

Another great slow cooker dish, I am starting to become rather predicatble! I added cumin and curry to the chicken before browning it for a little bit of a different flavor. The end result turned out nice and spicy. This was great served atop a bed of rice. Recipe from Cooking Light.

 

Ingredients:
12 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), skinned (I used boneless, skinless)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
2-3 tbsps capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place chicken in an electric slow cooker.
Add garlic to pan, and sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 30 seconds. Place wine mixture in cooker. Add tomato paste, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes to cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours (or low for 8 hours). Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, olives, capers, and parsley.
Servings: 6
Calories: 270

Linked to Fudge Ripple Tuesday Night Supper Club and Prairie Story Recipe Swap Thursday.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recipe Revisit: Baked Beef Ziti

I had planned to post corned beef and cabbage today in honor of St, Patrick's Day but my plans were foiled. I had everything laid out in the crock pot on Tuesday night and forgot to take it out of the fridge and start it up yesterday morning. Oh well, we have it waiting for us to devour when we get home tonight!

I have been trying to revisit some of my old recipes lately, and this one has always been a favorite. See the original post and recipe here. Serve it with a side salad and garlic bread for a great meal. I love Alexia's Garlic Baguette which is 3 points plus for 2 pieces.




 

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Pork Cutlets

I try to add in some pork to our diets every now and then because I can tend to cook lots and lots of chicken. I really like using pork tenderloin and this recipe sounded delicious and simple. The dish turned out really tasty, both Casey and I loved it. Leftovers worked well reheated in the oven. I served this with a side of creamy polenta for a perfect meal! Recipe from Real Simple.



Ingredients:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups arugula, rinsed and dried
2 tomatoes, sliced into wedges
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, quartered

Directions:
Heat oven to 400° F.

Thinly slice the tenderloin on a diagonal into 8 pieces. Pound the slices to a 1/4-inch thickness.

Place the flour on a plate. Place the eggs in a shallow bowl and beat lightly. In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt, and Parmesan. Working in batches, lightly coat the cutlets first in the flour, then in the egg mixture (allowing any excess to drip off), and finally in the bread crumb mixture.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 of the cutlets. Cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place the cutlets on a baking sheet. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining olive oil and cutlets. Transfer to oven and heat until the pork is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Divide the arugula and tomatoes among individual plates and drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with the cutlets and lemon wedges.

Servings: 4
Calories: 379

Linked to Fudge Ripple Tuesday Night Supper Club and FTLOB Tasty Tuesday.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recipe Revisit: Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms

This is a terrific weeknight meal if you are looking for something quick and healthy but that tastes delicious too! I originally posted this recipe back in 09 and have made it a number of times, at 4 points per serving you really can't beat it! I love the thyme flavored mushrooms and the balsmic keeps the chicken super moist. I like to cut the breasts in half horizontally so they are nice and thin. Be sure to not overcook the chicken! See the original post and recipe here.


 

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

This is my favorite kind of recipe, easy, low-cal, and oh so satisfying! I served this over Cilantro Lime Rice and topped it off with Guacamole, sour cream, and cheese to make my own little burrito bowl reminiscent of those I get from Chipotle. My only complaint is that I could barely keep myself from seconds and thirds... and fourths! Recipe from Gina at Skinny Taste.
 
Ingredients:
24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, with juices
15 oz can black beans, drained
8 oz frozen corn (I used canned)
4 oz can sliced jalapeno, drained (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
3 scallions, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
Salt to taste

Directions:
Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot. Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning. Serve over rice and top with your favorite fixings (extra points).

Servings: 8
Calories: 190
Points Plus: 4
 

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Italian Drip Beef Sandwiches

This started off to be a bit of a fail but I think in the end I was able to salvage it. Every so often I try a recipe that turns out to be lackluster either because of the recipe itself or because of mistakes I have made in cooking it. I never post those recipes because I want all the recipes that I post here to be ones that I would make again. However, this time I made a bunch of rookie mistakes but was able to somewhat fix them.

Firstly, I used a much smaller (about 1.5 lbs) roast than what was listed in the recipe but forgot to adjust the seasoning. Ooops. I tend to often decrease the amount of meat used in recipes but keep the same amounts of acoutrements because I like things to be heavy on the spices/veggies/sauce but this time I forgot to adjust the salt. I also forgot to adjust the cooking time. So, when I pulled the pot out of the oven after 5 hours, all the liquid had cooked down and the beef tasted like a salt-lick. Practically inedible.

I frantically googled and asked friends' opinions on how to salvage an over-salted dish. I had no time to cook up another batch so that wouldn't work. I ended up adding brown sugar, a little at a time, and then balsamic vinegar, a little at a time, tasting as I went. This definitely did help with the saltiness. It was still saltier than I would like but not inedible anymore. I actually really liked the new flavor profile that the balsamic brought. The meat ended up being sweet at first with a spicy kick at the end. I think if I made this again, I would still love the addition of balsamic.

I decided to add some water to the meat and let it cook down a bit and used unsalted butter on the bread. Once the meat was on the bread, it definitely improved in salt level. All in all, this would have been super yummy without so much salt but was still tasty and I loved the sweet and spicy combo. I didn't have any extra liquid for dipping but I don't think I missed it too much. Recipe from the Pioneer Woman.



Ingredients:
1 whole beef chuck roast, 2.5 to 4 pounds
1 can beef consomme or beef broth
3 tablespoons (heaping) Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cups water
½ jars (16 oz) pepperoncini peppers, with juice
Buttered, toasted deli rolls

Directions:Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Stir lightly to combine seasoning with the liquid.

Cover and bake in a 275 degree oven for 5 to 6 hours, or until meat is fork-tender and falling apart. If meat is not yet tender, return to oven for 30 minute intervals till it’s tender!

Remove from oven. With two forks, completely shred all meat, leaving no large chunks behind. Serve immediately, or keep warm over a simmer on the stove.

May make the day before, then store in the refrigerator. Remove the hardened fat from the top before reheating.

Serve on buttered, toasted rolls. Top with cheese and melt under the broiler if desired. Serve with juices from the pot.

Linked to Fudge Ripple Tuesday Night Supper Club.

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C + C Marriage Factory: March 2011

C + C Marriage Factory