thai coconut mussels

unnamed-2Let’s hear it for Chef Michelle!

I just love Thai food and was excited to try out this new recipe from The Skinny-Taste Cookbook by Gina Homolka. This was easy to make, healthy, and everyone went back for seconds so this is another KEEPER! For those of you looking for a new cookbook that features, as Gina puts it, “Light on calories, big on flavor,” recipes, I highly recommend this one. It has quickly turned into one of my favorite, go-to cookbooks.

Hands-on Time: 30 min.
Total Time: Under 1 hour.
Serves 5 (easily)

Ingredients:unnamed
1 teaspoon coconut oil
½ finely chopped red bell pepper
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger*
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk (I went with Gina’s recommendation of using Thai Kitchen brand)
1 to 2 fresh red chiles, finely chopped or ½ to ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)**
½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 pound mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (about 60 medium)***
½ lime
Loaf of crusty bread for soaking up the yummy sauceunnamed-1

michelle’s musings
*Since I didn’t have fresh ginger on hand I used 1 packet of sushi ginger. I usually keep a few packets from sushi takeout in my refrigerator just in case.

** I used ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

***I used 1 bag of Wegman’s Organic Mussels and we had plenty for 6 servings.

Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the bell pepper and scallions and cook, stirring, until soft, 1—2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, chilies or red pepper flakes, ¼ cup of the cilantro and salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

2. Add the mussels, cover, and cook until the mussels open, 5—7 minutes. Squeeze the lime over the mussels and top with the remaining ¼ cup cilantro. Divide the mussels and broth equally among bowls and serve with crusty bread.

ENJOY!

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Nutrition Information (courtesy of the Skinny-Taste Cookbook):
1 Serving (12 mussels): 302 calories; 12.5 fat (5.5g saturated); 33g protein; 21g carbohydrates; 1.5g fiber; 54mg cholesterol; 5g sugars; 918mg sodium

crock-pot pulled pork bbq

unnamedChef Michelle is on the scene once again!

I am a huge crock-pot fan! Throw a bunch of stuff in, walk out the door, and when you get home dinner is done. Who doesn’t love that?! I wanted to share this super simple recipe that is a family favorite. I’m not sure what magazine I ripped this out of years ago but I hope you like it as much as we do. ENJOY!

Hands-on Time:
10 min.
Total Time: 6—9 hours.
Serves 6 (easily)

Ingredients:
3 lb. or larger boneless pork butt roast, trimmed of fat.unnamed-1
1 12-oz. can of Coke (I use 1-20 oz. bottle of Coke Zero to help save on calories while still getting the flavor. Don’t use diet soda.)
18.5 bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce (I use Stubb’s Spicy barbeque)
Rolls for serving – either sandwich size or you can use slider rolls.

Directions
1). Place the pork butt roast in your crock pot and pour the soda in. Cook on low for 6—8 hours.unnamed-2

2). Remove roast, shred meat and remove any extra fatty pieces. Reserve the juices.

3). Return meat to the crock pot. Add in your barbeque sauce and some of the reserved juices to make a medium-thin sauce. Cook and additional 30—60 minutes.

michelle’s musings
I have a large crock pot so I typically use a 6 lb. size for leftovers. I don’t trim the fat off since I think it adds flavor and it’s much easier to take any fat off when shredding it. Place the roast fat side up in your crock pot. I have also used bone-in which again, no big deal removing the bone and fat at the end when shredding. If you want to substitute with chicken breasts, I have made it by cooking it on high for 4.5 hours.

I love BBQ with slaw so I will also grab a bag of the pre-mixed coleslaw and add Wegman’s Yogurt Coleslaw Dressing. Another great slaw recipe is from Cooking Light, Tequila Slaw with Lime and Cilantro.

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pillsbury pull-aparts

IMG_2067In a three-way (minds out of gutter) text between myself and two of my oldest and dearest friends, Lisa asked for Easter recipes. Meg and I dove right in to provide some. Lisa used none of them and Meg and I proceeded to add to our collection. I see why this is a go-to for her when she has house-guests. Meg, thanks for sending it! And Lisa, thanks for asking–next time, try this one! Enjoy!

While I got the recipe from Meg, it originated on the Pillsbury site.

Ingredients
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 (16.3-oz.) can Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers Refrigerated Original Biscuits
1 (2.1-oz.) pkg. precooked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 oz. (3/4 cup) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (4 medium)IMG_2061

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 11×7- or 12×8-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat egg and milk with wire whisk until smooth.

2. Separate dough into 8 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Gently stir biscuit pieces into egg mixture to coat evenly. Fold in bacon, cheese and onions. Spoon mixture into sprayed dish; arrange IMG_2063biscuit pieces in single layer.

3. Bake at 350°F. for 23 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares.

tara’s tips: I used an 8×8 square baking dish from Pampered Chef. Make sure the biscuits ‘stuffed’ into the pan. I fried 5 slices of bacon and drained it instead of using precooked.

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loaded baked potato casserole

This was so easy it was criminal and yet flavorful and yummy. If you make it on a weeknight, leave yourself some time to make the bacon and do some chopping–but it’s definitely doable. Literally a meat and potatoes meal, and delish to boot. Enjoy!

Originally found on A Household Almanac Rachel Schultz

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes, cubedIMG_2024
  • 4 chicken breasts, uncooked and cubed
  • 1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cheddar
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • Season Salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.IMG_2033
  2. Place potatoes in a 9×13 baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Stir to coat potatoes. Mix in bacon, raw chicken, and cheddar.
  3. Lay butter slices over casserole. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes.IMG_2035
  5. Top with green onion.

tara’s tips: I used kosher salt on my potatoes and chicken instead of table salt. And when it came to mixing things up, I used my hands–sometimes there’s just no better way. I used salt, pepper, and season salt on my chicken. I fried 7 pieces of bacon and then crumbled it. Once again, I used thin sliced chicken breasts, which for recipes of this nature, does not make for easy chopping, I’d recommend using regular chicken breasts. Because I seasoned my chicken and the potatoes, I did not season with salt and pepper after adding the butter slices. It goes without saying, I grated my own cheese, in this case, an entire block of mild cheddar. And I admittedly forgot to cover with foil, so I baked for 70 minutes uncovered and it still came out yummy.

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“doubletree” chocolate chip cookies

For years I have been foiled by the chocolate chip cookie. I’ve followed recipe after recipe to the letter. I’ve asked people about their tips and tricks–more vanilla, expensive vanilla, different sugar ratios, all just bought/fresh ingredients–nothing has worked. And then–my friend Jess opened my eyes to these. It’s supposed to be the ‘DoubleTree Hotel’ chocolate chip cookies–yes, those. The cookie with the reputation that precedes it, in a great way! I will not lie, for a cookie recipe, this one is rather involved and has some surprising ingredients, but trust me when I say–it’s worth it. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups semi-sweet, chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice in another IMG_2010medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well blended.
  3. For the best results, chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking the cookies. IMG_2018
  4. Spoon rounded 1/4 cup portions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the scoops about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 350°F oven for 16-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft.

tara’s tips (and jess’s by proxy): I softened the butter in the microwave, but did not melt it completely like I often do when baking. I only had pecans in the house, not walnuts, so I chopped them up using my food processor. I also stored the big ball of dough wrapped in wax paper in a freezer bag. While ovens vary, I tried baking the cookies 2 minutes past the 18 minute mark, not a good idea. They were still delish, just not as soft and chewy as they can be. The dough keeps for a long time in the frig, but Jess suggests ‘flash’ freezing the portions on a cookie sheet and then putting them in a freezer bag so whenever the need for a chocolate chip cookie strikes, you can just take a few out and bake ’em!

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