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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Salty Sweet Celebration

The last few months have been a whirlwind. I have oficially graduated from Florida State University and moved back to the Tampa Bay area to plan my next move. Although we're no longer roommates Kelsey and I will still be co-authors of What Tasty Food. Like my life as a graduate our culinary adventures are just getting started.

Chocolate is a girl's best friend at an emotional time like this so I turned to a cookie recipe that never fails to satisfy. I first discovered this salted double chocolate peanut butter cookie recipe on the blog Brown Eyed Baker a couple months ago and it's quickly become one of my go to comfort foods. The combonitation of sweet and salty can't be beat! The only adjustment I make to the recipe is adding crunchy penut butter rather than creamy. This gives the same delicious flavor and allows me to omit the whole peanuts.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Dip

This is one of the best dips I've ever made, and it's also one of the easiest. I bookmarked this recipe from Closet Cooking back in March, and I've been waiting to use it ever since. I usually don't attempt his recipes because they either require too many ingredients or ingredients I've never heard of or worked with before, so when I saw this dip, I knew it was perfect for me. While a pepperoni pizza dip can hardly be qualified as "light," I did make slight changes here and there to lighten up the dish as much as I could.

Pepperoni Pizza Dip

Pepperoni Pizza Dip
Adapted from Closet Cooking.

  • 4 ounces low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 2 larges pinches Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic Seasoning Blend (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fat-free mayo
  • 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Ragu Homemade Style pizza sauce
  • about 1 ounce pepperoni (16-20 slices)

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Mix cream cheese with Mrs. Dash seasoning blend, sour cream, mayo, half of the mozzarella, and half of the parmesan. Spread mixture in bottom of pie plate.
  3. Pour and spread pizza sauce to cover the cheese mixture. Top with remaining cheeses and pepperoni.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese bubbles.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Check Out WTF on Endless Simmer, The Huffington Post & Kitchen Daily

Looks like my Deviled Egg Chicks caught the eye of fellow food-lover Brendan Spiegel of Endless Simmer.

Check out his post Deviled Eggs Gone Wild, a top ten list of new-school deviled eggs, where ours land third place. The article is also syndicated on The Huffington Post and Kitchen Daily. All of the other creations are incredible, so take a look!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Blog: Chocolate Marshmallow Madness Cupcakes by Lauren

This is another lovely guest blog from none other than Lauren. Enjoy!

I saw this recipe on the cooking channels show Hungry Girl and decided to try it. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of her. I feel like most of the swaps she makes are fairly obvious or too artificial and not healthy, but I really wanted a cupcake, and didn’t believe her that she could make a standard size cupcake for only 110 calories.

The only thing I did differently was I used real sugar instead of splenda and I used 2 real eggs as opposed to the egg substitute. These swaps probably made my cupcakes closer to 120 calories, but I can live with that. Overall they were pretty good and definitely a great dessert if you are trying to watch calories. Hungry Girl has multiple other cupcake recipes that I will be trying in the very near future.

For Cupcakes:
2 cups moist-style chocolate cake mix (1/2 of an 18.25-ounce box)
One 25-calorie packet diet hot cocoa mix
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
1 tablespoon Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, granulated
1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dissolve the hot cocoa mix in ¼ cup of hot water. Combine all ingredients and 1 cup cold water into mixing bowl.
  • Place batter evenly in a lined standard 12 cupcake pan.
  • Bake for about 15-18 minutes until tooth pick comes out clean.

For Glaze:
1/4 cup Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Cream
1 teaspoon light vanilla soymilk (I used regular milk)

  • Instead of a frosting these cupcakes they use a marshmallow fluff glaze. At first the marshmallow fluff became very watery and started to separate. Just keep stirring until it becomes smooth, then drizzle over cupcakes.

For Topping:
1 tablespoon mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 mini marshmallows

  • Sprinkle on top of the cupcakes. And I may have accidentally used more chocolate chips and mini marshmallows than the recipe asks for.

PER SERVING (1 glazed and topped cupcake):
109 calories, 2g fat, 230mg sodium, 21g carbs, 0.75g fiber, 12.5g sugars, 2g protein

SOURCE: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Valentine/recipe?id=8572349

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For the Love of Chobani

Chobani Yogurt

The first time I tried Greek yogurt, I disliked it. I tried Chobani Honey and Blueberry about a year ago but decided it wasn't for me. It lacked the sweetness I was used to with regular yogurt, and I wasn't sure if I was a fan.

At the recommendation of Lauren, I tried FAGE Strawberry and loved it, but they didn't have the variety of flavors I was hoping for. Raspberry, where are you? I went back to Chobani, avoiding Honey and Blueberry, and found plenty of flavors I enjoy. Mango, Pineapple, and there you are Raspberry!

Maybe my tastes have changed in the last year, but after eating this for weeks I can't imagine going back to regular yogurt. I enjoy the tart flavor and thick texture.

Non-fat flavored varieties of Chobani do have slightly more calories than non-fat regular yogurt, but it doesn't hurt that a single 6 oz cup has about 14 grams of protein! This makes part of a great breakfast or a quick snack to tide you over between meals.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shrimp & Grits Casserole

One of the things I've enjoyed most about cooking at home is the wonderful herb garden in my parent's backyard. They have chives, parsley, and basil, all of which I've used this week. I might just have to start my own little herb garden at my place!

This is another Cooking Light meal, and this one is from March 2008. I absolutely love this magazine because it shows that healthy food doesn't have to be tasteless and bland. I did use regular cream cheese instead of reduced-fat, and I served it with squash and zucchini that were done in a little bacon grease, so perhaps this "light" dish is a bit of a wash. Nonetheless, it was amazing. The flavors and textures complimented one another. I was afraid that either the grits wouldn't be creamy enough or the Parmesan would be too powerful, but neither of those things happened.

I will make this again, and I recommend it to shrimp and grits lovers.

Shrimp & Grits Casserole

Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2008
Makes 6 1-cup servings
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 3-ounce package cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined uncooked medium shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • A few dashes hot sauce

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Combine milk and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add grits and salt. Cook 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in parmesan, butter, and cream cheese until melted and combined. Add remaining ingredients (parsley, chives, lemon, egg whites, shrimp, hot sauce).
  • Spoon mixture into an two-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until egg is set and shrimp are cooked.

Shrimp & Grits Casserole

Friday, May 6, 2011

Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken

Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken

Since my parents are both at work all day while I'm in town visiting, I told my mom I would cook so that she could come home and relax, without having to worry about putting food on the table. This is also a defense mechanism on my end, because if my mom cooked all my favorite foods like I normally request, I would leave here five pounds heavier.

While searching for a low-calories recipe that my mom and dad would enjoy, I came across Cooking Light's Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe from 2004. The original recipe makes four chicken breasts, but I've adjusted it to make five. We served it with steamed asparagus and Parmesan Orzo Pasta. The chicken was very moist and the tangy goat cheese complimented the sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.

Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2004
Serves 5
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
  • 2 tbsp EVOO, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp + 1-1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup or about 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • black pepper
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp water

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Boil 1 cup water in small pan. Add sun-dried tomatoes, remove heat, and cover. Let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, sugar, and garlic. Cook until lightly browned, stirring often. Spoon shallots into a small bowl and combine with 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, chopped tomatoes, shallots, goat cheese, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Cut a slit into the side of chicken breast to form a pouch for the stuffing. Stuff about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 6 minutes on each side until brown. Remove from pan and cook on baking sheet in oven for 10 minutes, five on each side, or until cooked through.
  • In the same pan the chicken was cooked in, add broth, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and thyme and bring to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in the water, stirring with a fork. Add cornstarch mixture to pan and cook one minute or until sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Serve sauce over chicken.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Crawfish Noob No More

Considering my parents have lived in Louisiana for three years, it's shocking that I have never tried crawfish. Since I rarely come home in the spring, I've never been around during crawfish season, but my early summer visit this year has landed me here at just the right time.

My parents explained to me that there are several local hot spots for crawfish, each with their own cajun flavor, but they took me to their favorite, Cormier's. Cormier's boiled crawfish has been voted number one in the Twin Cities since 1989.


While I was excited to have my first crawfish experience, I didn't want to get down and dirty with my dinner, especially after I heard I had to de-head the thing. Can my food not look back at me, please? They ordered five pounds of crawfish each, while I enjoyed a much cleaner crawfish etouffee with cheese potatoes and red beans and rice.

Crawfish Etouffee, Cheese Potatoes & Red Beans and Rice

I have to say, I wholeheartedly approve. I love cajun flavors, so this hit the spot. I think we all left feeling uncomfortably full, but it was worth it. This Saturday, May 7, Cormier's will celebrate their 23rd anniversary.

Cormier's Cajun Catering and Restaurant
1205 Forsythe Avenue
Monroe, LA 71201-4309
(318) 322-0414

Sunday, May 1, 2011

FSPA 2011: Orlando

After our Tampa Tribune feature, Megan and I were asked to speak at the 2011 Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA) convention in Orlando by my former high school journalism teacher and FSPA President, Joe Humphrey. FSPA aims to educate, train and support scholastic journalism, and it means a lot to me because I attended FSPA, JEA/NSPA and CSPA conventions all throughout high school.

This year's theme was "The Social Network," and we were asked to teach a session on blogging. Unfortunately, the conference fell on the same day as our graduation and in the end, Megan chose to walk and I opted to go to the conference, since I'm graduating again next spring anyway. Congrats, Megan!

The first thing I did when I got my program was flip to the guest speaker page to read the bio! As a high school student I wondered how speakers landed their spots, so it's funny that I find myself right in their shoes. What is the answer? Relationship building and, of course, networking.

When I arrived at the hotel Saturday morning, I co-judged a team marketing contest for the AAA PROMise program which aims to educate teens and parents on the dangers of underage drinking and to encourage teens to make good decisions on prom night. Later in the afternoon I taught the first of my two 50-minute sessions called "Blogged Down." The room held about 40 students, and I was delighted by all the questions I got and the amount of advisers that attended my sessions.

After my sessions, I checked into my room and headed upstairs to settle in. I walked down the long hall, scanning the door numbers for my room. Finally I get to the end and realize that the double doors belonged to me. Originally my room was at another hotel, but they managed to get me one where the convention was. The blogosphere gods smiled upon me as I waltzed into my king bed suite. FSPA, I love you.

Can't wait for next year!


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