Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

One of the great things about cooking for yourself is that you always know exactly what is going into your food. If you go to a restaurant or order takeout, you don't know WHAT chemicals, animal parts, or other nasty bits you are consuming. Perhaps most mysterious of all is Asian food.

Fortunately (no pun intended), making your own Asian food is fast, delicious, healthy, and less mysterious. You are what you eat, and no one wants to be chicken necks cooked in monosodium glutamate!

My recipe for Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry was adapted from one by a Food Network chef I have yet to introduce, Robin Miller. I made it a little easier and user-friendly. It is absolutely delicious.... enjoy!

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 bag frozen stir fry vegetables. No need to thaw. You can use fresh vegetables if you want, but frozen saves you time, money, and even nutrients, so take the short cut!
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil. Robin Miller's recipe used peanut oil, but sesame oil gives the dish such a rich, Asian-y flavor.
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp. minced ginger. I used a delicious minced ginger paste I found at the grocery store, but you can also mince your own fresh, or even use ground ginger powder if you must.
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • Brown rice. Optional. You can also serve this stir fry with white rice or noodles.


As so many of my recipes begin, cut up your chicken breast into small, bite sized pieces.

Heat your sesame oil to medium high in a large, high-sided sautee pan (or wok if you are a bad ass and own one) and add your garlic and ginger.

Let the oil, ginger, and garlic cook for a minute until nice and fragrant, and then add your chicken pieces, stirring to coat in the mixture.

Once the chicken is white/brown on all sides, add your frozen veggies and soy sauce.

At this point, you might wanna make your rice or noodles. I used brown rice cause it's fast and healthy.

To add more flavor to rice, use some chicken broth instead of water when you prepare it! Since you have to open up some chicken broth for this recipe anyways, you might as well make the most of it!

Back to the main event. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk the cornstarch into the chicken broth until it is incorporated. This mixture will help thicken your sauce.

Pour the broth/cornstarch into the pan and let the mixture simmer for several minutes until the veggies are warmed through, the chicken is fully cooked, and the sauce has thickened.

Put your rice in a bowl, top with the stir fry, and dig in! You should have plenty for leftovers, too.

Do YOU have any easy Asian recipes?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mediterranean Salmon

We all love salmon, right? Salmon is one of those fish that even fish-haters will eat, if it is prepared well. Plus, it's crazy healthy for you.

In case you haven't noticed yet, I love Italian and Mediterranean cooking. It is very healthy, tasty, and simple (unlike snooty French food!) I threw together some pantry staples to create my lovely Mediterranean Salmon. Enjoy!

  • 1 salmon fillet. I like them skinless cause the skin creeps me out, but it doesn't really matter.
  • 1 dollop lite mayonnaise. How much is a dollop, one may ask? I am being purposefully vague because it depends how big your salmon fillet is. This dollop should be big enough that when combined with the pesto, it creates a thin layer covering the surface of the salmon.
  • 1/2 dollop pesto. See above
  • 1 can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, drained. These lovelies come with the flavors of basil, oregano, and garlic, meaning less ingredients for you!
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles. More or less depending on how much salmon you have and how much you like feta.
That's it! Another five ingredient fix that packs a flavorful punch :)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and put your salmon in the middle. Dollop your mayo and pesto (you like how I made "dollop" a verb there?)

Mix and spread the pesto and mayo so it covers the salmon in a thin, even layer.

Pour the drained tomatoes on either side of the salmon and cover all with the feta crumbles. Though you will eventually put the tomatoes on top of the salmon, you wanna give it room to breathe while it is cooking. Don't smother the poor thing!

Pop it in the oven for about fifteen minutes. You will know it is done when the salmon is opaque and flakes easily when you stick a fork in it (though you can't really undercook salmon too badly, since many people like it raw in sushi!)

Take it out, put it on a plate, and top the salmon with the tomatoes and feta. That's it! Molto bene!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Apricot Chicken with Wild Rice

Last week, I thought it might be nice to cook dinner for my boyfriend and have a date night.

I wasn't sure what to make for him, as he can sometimes be a picky eater, and I didn't have a lot of time to sit around preparing something elaborate. So I went to one of my great fallback recipes: Apricot Chicken.

I found this recipe years ago online and have been making it for my family every time I go home to visit. It is a dish that is simple to make and delicious, both sweet and savory, and is great for company. Enjoy!

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This is if you are cooking for two, obviously, but you can easily make more or less depending on who you are cooking for.
  • 1 12 oz. can apricot pie filling
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain Wild Rice. This side dish is easy to make, and healthier than regular rice. Uncle Ben is your friend!
Very few ingredients combine to make chicken sweet, savory, and with a bit of crunch. Delicious!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together the pie filling, lemon juice, salt, nutmeg, and pecans.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray for easy clean-up. Lay your chicken breasts in the dish and cover with the apricot mixture.

COVER THE DISH WITH FOIL. Do not forget this! Otherwise the apricot mixture will burn, and no one wants that. Pop that baby in the oven for an hour.

I know what you are thinking: "Damnnnn, an hour?? I don't have that kind of time!"

Well, considering that the prep for this took all of ten minutes, once the chicken is in the oven you are now free to move about the cabin. The rice takes about 25 minutes to cook (plus a few minutes waiting for the water to boil), so for your remaining 30 minutes, you can:

A) Watch the first 30 minutes of Date Night.

B) Set the table, light candles, and put on mood music if it's a special occasion. If not, break out the Chinet paper plates, cause the apricot sauce can be a bitch to clean up.

C) If you are nervous about your impending date, drink. Actually, if you are excited about your impending date, drink too. Here is a fun accessory every chef can use:

Okay. When there is about a half hour to go, prepare your wild rice according to the directions on the box.

When the rice and chicken are done, put a lovely mound of rice on the plate, top with the chicken, and garnish with fresh parsley if you'd like. Ta da!

Do YOU have any recipe ideas for an easy date night? (Meaning the dish is easy to make, not that your date is easy.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Food Network Fridays: Giada De Laurentiis!

It's that time again! Pull out your limoncello, folks, cause today we will be drinking with Giada.

For those of you who don't know her, Giada De Laurentiis is a cleavage bearing, lemon zesting, pasta making, Italian over-pronouncing hottie of a Food Network chef.

Giada makes Italian themed cuisine with a bit of a gourmet flair. She has a gorgeous home in California where she hosts many awkward parties, and often guest stars her adorable baby Jade (isn't that just Giada in English? Weird!) and gangly husband Todd.

Pop open that bottle of limoncello, open up a box of amaretti cookies, and get to know Giada!

Shows: Everyday Italian and Giada at Home

  • Giada's home is just so gosh darn beautiful that it makes her show very aesthetically pleasing. Lots of sunlight, a kitchen window overlooking the ocean....magnifico!
  • As compared to many other Food Network chefs (cough Rachel Ray cough), Giada is very un-annoying. Aside from dramatically over-pronouncing Italian words, she has no goofy catch phrases.
  • Giada's food always looks awesome. And I am sure it tastes great. I just don't know if I could ever actually make it.
  • Her abundant use of peppers. I absolutely loathe peppers, and she often includes them in her recipes. Enough of a reason to dislike Giada? I think yes.
  • Though I mentioned that for the most part Giada is un-annoying, she always horribly over-enunciates any Italian word. We get it, Giada. You are Italian.
  • The fact that Giada feels the need to show at least three inches of cleavage in every outfit. While this may be a pro for the guys reading this, I think it's kind of a cheap way to get ratings. No Cooking with Cleavage for me.
Giada Drinking Game:
  • Take a drink every time Giada over-pronounces a word that isn't even very Italian, such as "PAS-ta!" or "spa-GIT-ee!"
  • Take a drink every time Giada zests a lemon.
  • Take a drink every time Aunt Raffy makes an appearance (bonus drink if you notice the giant mole on her right boob) (photo cred to
  • Take a drink every time Giada talks about "peppery arugula"
  • Take a drink every time Giada talks about something being "nice and brown on the outside and moist and tender on the inside."
  • Take a drink every time Giada acts really bossy at a party she is hosting, directing people where to sit and what to eat first.
  • Take a drink every time Giada's husband Todd shows up looking bored and/or confused.

Get crunk with Giada and let me know what you think! Have a great weekend :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Asian Salmon and Vegetables

Sometimes we all just crave some Asian food. Savory, salty, delicious Asian food. However, if you decide to go out to eat, your choices are usually expensive sit-down restaurants, or greasy take out. In both cases, you are looking at at least 45 minutes til you get your food.

Why not make it yourself? All it takes is an Asian baby in a hamburger costume!


But fo real, it's really easy, fast, and a lot healthier to make your own Asian food. Enjoy!

  • 1 salmon filet. See? Sometimes I do branch out from tilapia!
  • 1 small can lite mandarin orange segments in juice. These add a delicious sweet burst to the salmon. Also, you can use the juice in the marinade.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lite soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp mandarin orange juice. Don't buy this-- reserve it from your can of mandarin oranges! Make your ingredients do double duty for you.
  • 1.5 tsp sesame oil. If you like making Asian food and stir fries, this stuff is worth buying. One sniff of the bottle tells you that this is the magic flavor bullet in most Asian dishes.
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar. This adds nice sweetness to the fish and also creates a caramelized crust.
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced onions. The kind in the container, not real onion.
  • 1/2 package frozen stir fry vegetables. Most grocery stores already have a nice combo of veggies available.
Public Service Announcement: Studies have shown that frozen vegetables are often MORE nutritious than fresh! They are frozen right after they are picked, locking in the nutrients, whereas fresh vegetables have to travel all the way from the farm to the grocery store to your fridge to your plate.

Save money, save time, save nutrients: buy frozen!

This message brought to you by the fine people at Birdseye.

Anyways. This recipe is unbelievably healthy, flavorful, and idiot-proof. Feel free to serve over rice if you'd like!


In a small bowl, whisk together your olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, mandarin orange juice, brown sugar, garlic, and onion.

Put the salmon in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade in the bag, squishing it around to coat the salmon. CLOSE THE BAG!

The salmon should marinate in the fridge for at least half an hour, but the longer the better (that's what she said?)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Then cover a baking sheet with foil (do not skip this step cause the sauce tends to get all crusty in the oven and would be a bitch to have to clean) and some nonstick cooking spray.

Put the salmon on the pan and top with some mandarin orange segments. Bake for fifteen minutes!

In the meanwhile, you can whip up your veggies real quick. Rather than throw out that delicious marinade, use it as a sauce!

Any time you re-use marinade, you must cook it thoroughly, as it has been soaking in raw meat. As long as it comes up to a boil (which it will while cooking these vegetables) you are fine.

Pour the remaining marinade into a sautee pan heated to medium high.

Once the marinade is nice and hot, pour in your frozen veggies. Stir to coat them in the sauce, and let everything cook together while you wait for your salmon to bake. You might wanna put the heat down to low at this point.

Once the salmon is done, pour your veggies onto a plate and top with the salmon. Dig in!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad is a perfect example of a recipe that sounds a lot more fancy and complicated than it actually is. It conjures up images of driving a Ferrari around a seaside cliff in Italy, savoring life as the wind blows back your hair.

In reality, this salad is so easy to make that I can barely even call it a recipe. It is very simple, fresh, and elegant, and it makes a beautiful start to a meal if you are entertaining. I never used to really like raw tomato, but I love it in this dish.

Caprese Salads can be made in a wide variety of ways and presentations, but mine is obviously the best. Buon appetito!

  • 1/2 large tomato. Doesn't matter what type as long as it's nice and big (that's what she said?)
  • 3 thick round slices of fresh mozzarella. You can buy it already sliced into medallions, or slice it yourself.
  • Fresh basil. Depends how much based on how big the leaves are, but enough to form a layer the size of a tomato slice, plus some more to garnish.
  • Balsamic vinegar. Just enough to drizzle.
  • Olive oil. Ditto.
  • Salt n' pepa
As you can see, very few ingredients for this salad, and the flavors balance perfectly. It looks beautiful on the plate, and it couldn't be easier to make!


Slice your tomato half in half again, cutting off either the top of the tomato or the bottom depending which half you are using so the slices are both flat and even. I like to have nice thick slices of tomato!

Arrange the medallions of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves on one of the tomato slices.

Sprinkle with salt n' pepa to taste.

Put the other slice of tomato on top, drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and garnish with some more fresh basil. That's all there is to it!

Do YOU have any easy salad ideas?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mediterranean Chicken Couscous

You may be wondering: "Stacy, what the hell is couscous?"

Is it:

A) A small African rodent

B) French for "kiss kiss!"

C) Some crazy health food grain

D) A pasta dish of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour.

If you guessed D, then you are correct!!

Believe it or not, couscous (pronounced "koose koose") is a type of pasta. It is used often in Mediterranean, Middle East, and African dishes. It cooks up WAY faster than spaghetti or rice and isn't as heavy in your tummy. Also, all the little bits soak up sauce and are delicious. At any grocery store you can find lots of tasty varieties!

My recipe for Mediterranean Chicken Couscous is quite possibly one of my fastest, easiest, and most delicious yet (if I do say so, myself.) Enjoy!


  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup julienne cut sundried tomatoes jarred in olive oil and herbs. This sounds like a crazy specific ingredient, but these are tasty and you don't have to chop then. You can buy this at most grocery stores and it is a delicious and healthy way to add tons of flavor to your food! Also great in scrambled eggs.
  • 1 cup of feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn. This is optional, but I think it adds great color and flavor!
  • 1 box Near East brand "Mediterranean Curry" Couscous. Near East is the brand I have seen most often in grocery stores, and Mediterranean Curry is just one of the tasty flavors they offer.
Very few ingredients are needed since the Mediterranean couscous comes with its own spice packet. Super easy!


Prep time: you know the drill. Cut up your chicken breast into small, bite sized pieces of about the same size. Peel your onion and chop it up.

Heat a sautee pan to medium high heat and put in your sundried tomatoes. Make sure to include plenty of that delicious herbed olive oil from the jar! Sometimes the oil congeals if your jar has been in the fridge for a while, but it will liquefy again once it heats up.

After the tomatoes have heated up for a minute, add your onions to let them cook in the herbed oil until they are translucent.

Now add your chicken. As the meat cooks, it will soak up all that delicious flavor from the sundried tomatoes and the herbed olive oil. Once again, you will know the chicken is done when no pink remains.

At this point while the chicken cooks, you can prepare the couscous according to the directions on the box. In a microwave, it only takes five minutes!

Put the couscous in a bowl and top with the chicken mixture, feta cheese, and basil. This should be enough for at least two meals, unless you are obese. Enjoy :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Make Your Sandwiches Sexier

Now that I am part of the work force, I have realized how much money (and calories) you save by packing your own lunch for school or work. For example, you could buy a pound of sliced turkey at the deli counter to last you a week for the same amount it would cost to buy just ONE sandwich at a cafe or restaurant. That shit adds up!

The most common gripes about why people don't want to pack their own lunches are that they don't have the time, and that homemade lunches are boring and don't taste as good.

To address the first issue, it takes ten minutes to make a sandwich, you lazy ass. It probably takes longer to go out and buy something.

To address the second issue, I am writing this blog post!

Making sandwiches sexier is easy. Start with something basic you like, such as turkey, roast beef, or tuna, and play around with different accompaniments. Try different breads, cheeses, and toppings. To get you started, here are just a couple ideas:

Turkey with Pesto Mayonnaise

For a long time, my standard sandwich was turkey on wheat with lettuce, cheese, and light mayo. It kept me satisfied for a while, but I started to crave more flavor that wouldn't involve having to buy a lot more ingredients. The solution? Pesto!

You can buy pesto in a jar at the grocery store. It is more expensive than your typical condiment, but one little jar can last for months.

All I do is put a little dollop of light mayo on a slice of bread, and then about half a dollop of pesto. You can mix it right there on the bread as you spread it need to dirty any more bowls or utensils!

The pesto adds an intense kick of flavor to an otherwise bland sandwich without adding calories.

Turkey with Cranberry Sauce

Another easy condiment to add to a plain ole turkey sandwich is cranberry sauce. You can buy the kind in the can that slides right out onto a plate in the same shape as the can, frightening young and old alike.

Just shave a layer off the top and spread it onto your bread with your other toppings! As anyone who has ever celebrated Thanksgiving can attest to, turkey and cranberry are a match made in heaven. I would not recommend mixing with mayonnaise or anything crazy like that.

The cranberry sauce adds a nice sweet, tangy flavor to your sandwich!


Some other fun ingredients you might wanna try to jazz up a turkey sandwich: very thin slices of apple, avocado slices instead of mayo, or even mix a bit of curry powder into some mayo if you like it hot! Go CRAZY.

And now for an actual recipe.

Yada, yada, yada, Stacy. We know how to make a sandwich. We want RECIPES!

Here is my recipe for Grape and Walnut Tuna Salad. It is a fantastic way to add flavor, nutrients, and texture to regular ole tuna! Makes for an easy and healthy sandwich.

  • 3 cans of tuna
  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 1/4 cup light ranch dressing
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts. Adds a healthy crunch.
  • 1 bunch of red seedless grapes. Adds pretty color and a sweet burst of flavor.
  • Lettuce
  • Bread

NOTE: This makes enough tuna salad for 3-4 sandwiches. It is smart to make a big batch at the beginning of the week to enjoy over lettuce or in a sandwich to take to school/work.


Open your cans of tuna, drain them, and put the tuna into a mixing bowl. Flake with a fork to break up any large chunks (sorry if you are offended by the word "chunks").

Pour in your mayonnaise and ranch dressing and mix well to combine. Slice your grapes in half and mix them in as well.

Chop up your walnuts if you did not buy them pre-chopped and put them in, too.

Mix everything together and put on bread with some lettuce. Or serve a scoop of it over some lettuce. In either case, be sure to chill it well beforehand. Enjoy your big delicious sandwich!

Do YOU have any ideas on how to jazz up a basic sandwich? Any wacky ingredients others may not have thought of? Let's hear em!