Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ginger-Soy Baked Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Ginger-Soy Baked Tilapia with Mango Salsa

One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh fruit. Let me tell you, if you're a tropical kinda girl like me, then Texas is one of the best places to get that fresh fruit. The mangos and pineapples are definitely an improvement over those I used to get back in Seattle. The mangos in particular are so ripe that sometimes I just eat them like an apple! Peel and all! Trust me, the peel is surprisingly sweet. And pineapples...not only do they look AWESOME, but I can remember many a time where I made my mouth numb from eating too much...

I love combining sweet, fruity flavors like mango with savory flavors. They contrast and compliment each other perfectly. This is a great summer dish! It's light, colorful, and fresh. What screams summer more than that?

Ginger-Soy Baked Tilapia with Mango Salsa


1 lb of Tilapia fillets
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Tbsp ginger, grated
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475 F. Lay Tilapia fillets in a lightly oiled 9x9-in square glass baking dish. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and pour over fillets. Let marinate for 15 minutes, while marinating prepare salsa. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until fish flakes but is still quite moist.

1/2 cup mango, roughly chopped
1/3 cup purple onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Combine ingredients in a bowl and serve with Tilapia.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

Can we just take a minute and appreciate the wonderful name of this dip? Baba Ghanoush. It just rolls off the tongue and sounds so silly! This dip is a lot like hummus, but instead of using chickpeas as a base it uses eggplant! Beware, it's very addictive. I literally got tired of the pita chips and just started eating it with a spoon. Luckily it's quite healthy, so copious amounts of it shouldn't do too much harm.

Baba Ghanoush


1 large eggplant (or 2 small ones in my case)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place eggplant on a lightly greased baking sheet. Poke holes in the eggplant with a fork. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until soft. Remove from oven, peel off skin. Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, and garlic in a blender, and purree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to bowl and mix in olive oil. Serve with pita or pita chips. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

If you hadn't noticed, I've been a little obsessed with spinach lately. I've always seen green smoothies at the store but have consciously avoided them. If you're gonna give me the choice, I will definitely choose a sure-to-satisfy mango smoothie over some mystery-green, goblin-ish juice...this kinda goes against my philosophy about food and life, but for some reason I'm a little judgmental about my smoothies appearance. 

But eventually...I gave in. I couldn't bring myself to purchase a small $5 smoothie, so I thought the best way to try this would be to make it myself of course! I popped all the ingredients in the blender and prayed that some green monster wasn't going to jump out of my blender and attack me. Luckily, that didn't happen. Quite the opposite really! I tried a spoonful of the smoothie and immediately fell in love. Everyone who hates vegetables should eat their spinach like this. Seriously. You couldn't even taste the spinach! Wow. I can't wait to make more green smoothies!

Green Smoothie

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 large handfuls spinach
1/4-1/2 cup juice (I used pineapple-mango, but anything fruity will work)
1 cup cubed pineapple
1 large banana
10 ice cubes

Pop the yogurt, spinach, 1/4 cup juice, pineapple, and banana in a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and more juice to reach desired consistency. Makes 2 small smoothies or 1 mega smoothie. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grilled Pineapple and Balsamic Strawberries

Grilled Pineapple and Balsamic Strawberries

Ever since coming home I've been itching to fire up the barbeque. All semester I've wanted to have a cook out in Texas...but that's not really possible without a BBQ... 

I decided to go all experimental and break the mold of traditional BBQ-ing. After eating my fill of hotdogs and grilled salmon, I broke out the fruit. I got some questioning looks which made me doubt my ideas, but was reassured after trying this perfect summer treat. 

Grilled Pineapple

Slice a large pineapple in half length wise and slice into 1 inch thick, long rectangles. Pop em on the grill and flip them in about 3-5 minutes. Cook them for about the same length of time on the other side and leave them all natural or drizzle with a little honey. 

Balsamic Strawberries

Remove stems from strawberries. Roll strawberries first in balsamic vinegar and then coat with brown sugar. Line prepared strawberries up on a skewer and grill for 3-5 minutes, turning a little halfway through. 

Enjoy with whip cream, ice cream, or all by themselves!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mediterranean Whole-Wheat Pizza

Mediterranean Whole-Wheat Pizza

Greece is one of the top places I want to visit, partially because of the beauty and culture, but mostly because; you guessed it, the food! The pure, healthy, and vibrant flavors of Mediterranean food are truly unlike any other cultures food. I just love the extreme complexity of kalamata olives, the creaminess of feta cheese, and the cool, lightness of tzatziki sauce. Oh man…now I’m really craving a gyro…

I made this colorful pizza for my two besties last week, and it was a hit! Although it’s vegetarian it is still quite filling. The hearty whole-wheat crust makes up for the lack of meat. It reminds me of a gyro in pizza form. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Whole-Wheat Pizza

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from

1 cup white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 pkg or 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
¾ tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, yeat and salt. Add water, oil and honey; mix well. Add extra white flour if necessary. Knead dough for 6 minutes on a lightly floured surface, adding enough flour to make a stiff dough. Dough may be slightly sticky. Place kneaded dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a moist cloth. Place in a warm spot (I like to put it in an unheated oven with just the oven light on) for 30 minutes to rise. After 30 minutes punch down and spread onto a greased 14 or 10 inch pizza pan. Spread sauce and other ingredients on pizza crust.

Mediterranean Pizza

4 oz container of goat cheese (or feta)
½ purple onion, sliced
1 cup tomato-basil sauce
1/3 cup halved kalamata olives
2 cups wilted spinach

Spread dough with tomato sauce. Top with spinach, cheese, olives and onions. Bake at 425 F for 15 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

I'm back home again from Texas for a quick trip to see the fam before I head off to New York for most the summer! Today we got to celebrate my twin bro's and my 21st birthday (only about a month late...). It was so great to see all of my family and bond over yummy food. My parents are both fantastic cooks and always plan the best parties. They prepared an amazing spread of fajitas, with anything you could ever want to put on top of it. I stuffed myself beyond reason. And of course we had to have strawberry margaritas, made so splendidly by my lovely aunt! So I decided to go along with the Mexican theme, and make one of my favorite Mexican desserts, Tres Leches Cake!

I had never even heard of Tres Leches till I went to school in Texas. Quite honestly, the cake did not sound appealing at all when I first heard of it. "A cake soaked in milk....?!?" But let me tell you, I quickly fell in love with this moist and creamy cake. It's a nice change from the traditional birthday cake and ice cream. To me this cake is kinda like a combo of ice cream and cake. So yummy. It's super easy to whip up, you have no excuse not to try making this!

Tres Leches Cake
Recipe Adapted from All Recipes

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside. Cream butter or margarine and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork. Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Be sure and keep cake refrigerated, enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Corn Nuts (Hominy)

Corn Nuts (Hominy)

You might recall that a couple weeks ago I made menudo with my lovely friend Sylvia! Well one of the defining ingredients in menudo is hominy, which I like to think of as glorified, not quite as tasty corn. When we made the menudo we bought this MASSIVE container of hominy and of course, we had leftovers. Since then I’ve been trying to come up with creative ways to eat it…

Corn nuts were always the cool thing to eat at my Junior High School.  I’m not really sure why...they were super loud to eat and obnoxious…but no matter, they were cool. My favorite flavor was ranch, but I haven’t figured out how to make that kind yet, so I just settled with spicy, and bursting with flavor! These “hominy nuts” will not break your teeth like corn nuts do. They’re a little crispy on the outside but still kinda soft on the inside. It’s a very interesting texture that reminded me of roasted chickpeas. These roasted hominy kernels are great for snacking on and are best right out of the oven.

Roasted Hominy

2 cups canned hominy
½ Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp black pepper
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl combine all ingredients. Feel free to add extra spices to taste. Spread hominy on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until hominy starts to feel crispy on the outside.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Toasty Salami-Apple Sandwich

Toasty Salami-Apple Sandwich

You know it’s nearing the end of the semester when I start making creative sandwiches! The end of the semester has many great things going on, finals being the first and most fun of course, and I guess summer right around the corner, end-of-the-year parties, and all those free events are kinda fun too…but really what beats them all is getting to clean out my fridge!

I had many opportunities to procrastinate while studying for finals, by daydreaming about what interesting concoctions I could come up with that could use up all the things in my fridge before I headed home. This sandwich was one such inspiration! It’s the perfect combination of salty and tangy and sweet. Hope you like it!

Toasty Salami-Apple Sandwich

Whole wheat bread
Honey mustard
Mozzarella cheese
Granny smith apple, sliced thinly
Purple onion, sliced

Turn broiler on high. Slather whole wheat bread slices with honey mustard. Layer one slice of bread with salami and cheese. On the other slice layer apples, salami and purple onion slices. Stick under the broiler for a couple minutes, or until cheese starts to bubble and bread toasts slightly. Stick the two sides together and eat it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spinach Pancakes

Spinach Pancakes

What better way to celebrate the end of a semester than with breakfast for dinner! And not just any breakfast mind you...we had spinach pancakes! I had so much fun making these crazy, colorful pancakes with my best girlfriends last night. It was fun watching their confused faces when I told them we were making pancakes out of spinach. But they turned out pretty well and I think everyone liked them!

We decided to make them into little breakfast sandwiches, and boy were they tasty! Just add a fried egg, some maple bacon, and shredded cheese and you've got yourself a healthified egg mcmuffin. Make sure you have lots of napkins though, they can get pretty messy... 

Spinach Pancakes
Recipe from Spabettie

3 cups spinach
3 eggs
2/3 cup rice flour

Pulse spinach and eggs in a blender until blended. Add flour and puree until smooth. Spray griddle or pan and heat to medium high. Flip when bottom begins to turn slightly golden. Remove from heat when other side is cooked.
Makes about 8 small pancakes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Banana Curry Chicken Foil Packets

Banana Curry Chicken Foil Packets

Tired of making banana bread out of all those overripe bananas? Me too! I found this awesome recipe and modified it a bit to fit the ingredients I had, and it was still quite a success! I always end up with far too many bananas. I just get so excited when I walk past them at the grocery store! Not only do they look so happy, but they're the perfect healthy snack and they're super cheap. Plus they go perfectly with peanut butter. And the more peanut butter I can eat the better! 

These foil packets were so fun to make! They reminded me of going to camp in Junior High and having cookouts where we roasted hotdogs, onions, and baked beans in foil packets over the fire. They were probably my favorite memory of camp (along with all those millions of friendship bracelets I made...). For some reason everything just tastes better with a little smokiness to it. I can't wait to try a million different foil packet recipes when I go camping this summer!

Banana Curry Chicken Foil Packets
Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine

Foil Packs
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 4 5-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Lay 4 large pieces of aluminum foil on a work surface and mist with cooking spray. Place quarter of sliced vegetables (carrots and onion) in center of each piece and top with 1 chicken breast. Season chicken with salt and black pepper.
  2. In a blender, add banana, milk, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and ginger and process until smooth. Pour banana-coconut milk mixture over each chicken breast, dividing evenly. Seal foil packets by bringing together 2 opposite edges and folding them down together, then tucking in other 2 sides. Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and cook in oven for 22 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool for a few minutes before opening.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare quinoa: In a medium saucepan, add quinoa, 2 cups water, cumin, and raisins. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. 
  4. Carefully open foil packets and transfer chicken and vegetables to a plate, spooning excess sauce over top. Garnish with cilantro and serve with quinoa alongside.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Healthy Brownies

Healthy Brownies

I was given this recipe a little while ago and have been itching ever since to make them! Who wouldn't be curious to see how brownies with spinach in them would taste? Plus I'm completely obsessed with spinach and literally eat it every day. So any creative way to use it, you can bet I've tried or will try. Next on my list for creative recipes are spinach pancakes!

Luckily, my wonderful bassoon professor had a birthday this past weekend, giving me an excuse to make these brownies. She is always encouraging her students to be healthier and so I thought what better way to honor her than with a healthy dessert! I hope everyone gets the chance to someday meet this lovely, inspiring woman!

Healthy Brownies
Adapted from The Sneaky Chef

6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Purple Puree (see below)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 Tbsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Spray bottom (not sides) of a 9x9 square baking pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler or in the microwave. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. In another bowl mix together eggs, vanilla, sugar, and Purple Puree. Add cooled chocolate to mixture. In another mixing bowl combine flours, cocoa powder, oats, and salt. Add this to chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly. Stir in walnuts if using. Transfer to prepared baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Test with a toothpick. When cooled use a plastic knife to cut.

Purple Puree Recipe
(makes 1/2 a cup)

1 1/2 cups raw spinach leaves
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2-1 Tbsp water

Puree ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. You may need to stop occasionally to push ingredients to the bottom or add more water to reach desired consistency.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pork Menudo

Pork Menudo

My desire to make menudo all stemmed from a conversation with my good friend Sylvia! While we were walking to church together on Easter Sunday I asked her if family usually had any traditions that they liked to do, and her response was to eat menudo together. My response to that was, "what's menudo?" And so, then and there, I vowed to her that we would make menudo some time together. 

This dish was surprisingly easy to make, especially after looking at the traditional recipes that take 8 hours because of the beef tripe. We decided to modify ours and use pork instead. After combining a couple different recipes into our own it ended up only taking about an hour and a half! This recipe makes lots of leftovers and is perfect for all those health-minded budgeters out there! 

Pork Menudo

6 chiles de arbol
1 white onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic
2 gallons of water
1 1/2 Tbsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
6 cups canned white hominy
2 lbs pork loin, cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 white onion, chopped

Slit open chiles and remove seeds and veins. Arrange chiles on a baking sheet and broil at a low temperature for 2 minutes, or until chiles start to scorch. Place chiles in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off heat and let chiles steep for 30 minutes. Put cooled chiles, garlic, and onion in a blender and blend until smooth. Add leftover chile water to reach desired consistency.  Pour mixture into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Press out as much juice from mixture into bowl as possible. Discard leftover chile remnants from strainer. 
In a large pot, combine chile sauce, 2 gallons of water, oregano, pepper, salt, and cumin. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add hominy and pork and simmer for another 15 minutes. 
Serve with cilantro, onion, and lime wedges.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

This is one of those perfect budget recipes! It uses an ingredient that most people would just toss out. Don't be that person though! Holiday's always come with many leftovers, and in some cases I look forward to those more than the holiday meal itself. Now I'm not just talking about leftovers, I'm talking about revamping the leftovers to make them into new, exciting dishes!  

Whenever a big holiday comes about (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter...) my family usually buys a honey baked ham. And I know that when all the meat has been picked off that ham bone my mom will make her famous split pea soup! Well, now that I'm in college I have to fend for myself on some this past Easter I made my own honey baked ham! To carry on the tradition and to make the most out of my money, I made some split pea soup. There were lots of leftovers from Easter though, so I decided to freeze the ham bone to make it later on, and it tasted just as lovely.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb split green peas
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 meaty ham bone (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp marjoram (dried, crushed)
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped

In a large pot combine peas, broth, water, ham bone, black pepper and marjoram. Bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham bone and cut off meat, and coarsely chop. Discard bone. Return meat to soup (feel free to add extra chopped ham). Stir in carrots and celery. Cover, simmer 30 minutes more. Season and serve. (serves 10)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sweet Empanadas

Sweet Empanadas

Sweet empanadas are like the calzone version of pie. They are made of exactly the same thing and yet they are so different. These little empanadas are perfect finger food for any occasion. Plus you won't need to buy the extra forks and plates like you would for pie! Save time cleaning up and get the same great taste! Now that's what I'd call a good deal.

Another thing I like about this recipe is that you can get super creative with it! You can fill this sweet dough with basically anything you want. Use your favorite pie filling recipe or just throw whatever the heck you'd like inside it. I was thinking I might try putting some peanut butter and jelly for filling to make a lil' baby PBJ! Stay tuned!

Sweet Empanadas
Adapted from Kitchen Trials


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 package (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup flour

In a large bowl beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add flour and beat until dough comes together. Press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 mins and up to 24 hours. Take dough out of fridge and roll out, onto a well floured counter, until thin (about 1/8" thick). Use a 4" cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to cut as many circles as you can. Reroll the scraps once. 
Place a level Tbsp of filling in center of each circle. Wet the edges of the circles with water, then fold into a half moon and press edges together well. Place folded empanadas on lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 15 mins or until lightly browned.

2 large apples, peeled cored and diced very small
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt

1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

While dough is in fridge, make the filling. Melt butter in a large saucepan until just starting to brown, add diced apples. Stir until coated with butter. Add brown sugar and white sugar, stirring well after each addition. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened and liquid has thickened, about 5 mins. Add vanilla, cinnamon, salt and raisins. Remove filling to a bowl. Go back to directions above. While empanadas are baking mix together cinnamon and sugar. As soon as empanadas come out of the oven roll them in the mixture and then set on a cooling rack. Be careful though, they're hot!

I also made strawberry-chocolate empanadas. They use the same dough recipe but are filled with strawberries, chocolate chips and sugar instead.