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Saturday, November 21, 2009

recipe of the week: guacamole salad

so i watched ina garten, the barefoot contessa, for the first time on food network last week when we were in las vegas visiting family. there is just something calming and comfortable about her. i would love to sit at her table and eat her food and just chat with her. no wonder she has her own show on food network.

this recipe comes from her kitchen. it was amazing. i was skeptical, but the dinner was an easy 9 in both my husband and i's books. i served it with a piece of grilled chicken and some plain brown rice on the side. it was an absolutely perfect meal.

guacamole salad
modified slightly from ina garten, here
6 servings

3 good-size roma tomatoes, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced (i left this out, but it sounded yummy to include!)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1/2 cup small diced red onion
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
chopped cilantro, to your liking
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes) (i used 1/2 fresh 1/2 not)
a little less than 1/4 cup good olive oil (more like 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced

place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, corn, red onion, jalapeno peppers, cilantro and lime zest in a large bowl. whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. toss well.

just before you're ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

chicken gyros: world's stinkiest breath and totally worth it

these chicken gyros were amazing. i love love love greek food, so it was really fun to make the sauce and soft wrap bread from scratch on these. this one isn't quick, but it's more than worth it. and beware of the garlic breath you'll have afterward. it was pretty scary. don't make them for your anniversary. :) but the thoughts of the gyros i enjoyed while obtaining it made it again - more than worth it.

chicken gyros
i found and slightly adapted them from my kitchen cafe (she adapted them slightly from Annie's Eats, originally from Elly Says Opa!)
8 gyros

**keep in mind this recipe requires straining yogurt which may take overnight and marinating chicken which will take 1-2 hours so plan ahead!**

for the tzatziki sauce:
16 oz. plain yogurt (i used fat free wal-mart brand and it worked great!)
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil

for the chicken:
4 cloves garlic, smashed
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (original recipe called for 1 1/4 lbs, i used more like 1 1/2+)

to assemble:
soft wrap bread (or pita bread)
fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
red onion, sliced thin

to make the tzatziki sauce, strain the yogurt using cheesecloth over a bowl (see for more details on this). let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible. (you won't believe how much liquid drains from the yogurt - it makes the yogurt much thicker and creamier.)

shred the cucumber. wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. drizzle lightly with olive oil. refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

to prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. whisk together until mixed well. add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler. (I sauted them in a hot skillet.) once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

heat pitas or soft wrap bread. top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced onions. serve immediately.


healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!