Thai Basil Beef “Fake-Out-Take-Out”

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It only took one bite to know that this recipe would become a regular in my kitchen. Traditionally Thai dishes don’t use ground beef but since I have two very busy little boys I needed to make it easy and affordable. Ground beef or beef strips, this recipe is a show stopper. The flavor is savory, spicy, and sweet. I think the fresh basil is really the highlight here. It adds a crisp fresh element that really blew us away. We spooned the beef over a mound of brown rice that added a nice chewy texture. We declared that from now on we will be doubling this recipe because two dinners just isn’t enough!

Serves: 5     Calories: 423 per serving (includes 1 cup brown rice)     Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil, I used Canola
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 cups basil, I used 1.5 cups of basil from my garden
  • Brown rice, cooked (optional)

Directions:

  1. If you’re serving with rice start cooking your rice now.
  2. Crush garlic with the flat blade of a knife. If you have a mortar and pestle you can use them to make a paste with the crushed garlic, pepper flakes and salt. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle continue using the flat blade of a knife and crush together the garlic, pepper flakes and salt to make a garlic-y paste. Once you’ve made the paste let it sit for a minute or two to allow the flavors to meld together.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and cook the garlic paste with shallot for a minute over medium heat.
  4. Add the beef and continue to cook until just browned, approximately 6 minutes
  5. Stir in your bell peppers. I like to leave my bell peppers still a little crunchy so I immediately moved onto the next step. If you like your bell pepper more soft allow them to cook for a minute or two before moving onto the next step.
  6. Add the soy sauce and brown sugar. Cook for a minute or two longer
  7. Add the basil and cook until just wilted, about a minute.
  8. Spoon beef over a bed of rice or other steamed veggies. OR eat it straight out of the pan, I will not confirm nor deny that I was tempted..
  9. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe is adapted from http://www.littlespicejar.com which is an adorable food blog with many many more delicious recipes!

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Roasted Asparagus with Feta – ★★★★★

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I take pride in trying to feed my family healthy dinners, but I seriously need to up the ante on how often we eat veggies. That being said, I am trying to include one dinner a week that is 100% veggie based. The problem with this is that there are not many recipes out there that take a vegetable and stick to some sort of nutritional value AND pack in some flavor. All the recipes that look good are either smothered in a brown sugar glaze or have so much salt I would end up a bloated mess for about a week. This recipe surfaced from a google search that led me to www.gonnawantseconds.com, a beautiful recipe site that had me salivating by the time I was done looking through all the yummy meals. This recipe is a dream because it so easy to make and the asparagus tips literally melt in your mouth. You start by making a garlic and herb infused oil that I would probably drink if I knew no one would judge me for it. I think this oil would go great on roasted green beans, brussel sprouts, or basically any savory veggie you can get your hands on. I know that is what I plan to do to keep this veggie train in motion. The feta is an awesome creamy touch that Perry really enjoyed. He gave 5 stars and here is why:

” This one did not disappoint. The asparagus had a”melt in your mouth” texture at the tips but kept a tender/crisp texture towards the bottom. My favorite part was the feta. The crumbles that fell on the pan came out melted but when it cooled they were like parmesan crisps. I would describe the flavor as refreshing because it has a nice light lemony taste. I give it five stars”

Serves: 4-6      Calories: 157 per serving     Time: 45

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fresh asparagus, washed and woody roots trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 14 cloves of garlic, minced (original recipe only calls for 6 but I love garlic… Don’t judge me….)
  • 1.5 tsp lemon zest
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (I used sun-dried tomato and herb feta because… why not?)
  • 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Start by prepping your ingredients. If you’re using 14 cloves of garlic, which I totally recommend, this could take a few extra minutes.
  2. In a saucepan heat oil, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and pepper flakes over low heat stirring occasionally until garlic starts to turn a golden brown (approx.. 5 minutes). Remove the saucepan from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. In a large mixing bowl toss the asparagus with garlic and herb oil.
  5. Lay the asparagus in a single layer on baking sheet. Top with oil left in the mixing bowl and 1/2 cup of feta.
  6. Roast for approximately 15 minutes. Remove and spritz with lemon juice.
  7. Serve immediately

*Original recipe found at http://www.gonnawantseconds.com/

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Margherita Pizza – ★★★★✩

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We moved back to Pennsylvania from Southern California about a month ago and are taking full advantage of the wonderful farmers markets around here. Summer in the northeast translates to Jersey Tomato season, and I am extra spoiled because my mom grows all kinds of hearty veggies and fragrant herbs in her back yard. I really wanted to utilize all these resources to feed my family a delicious and easy-to-make meal. This is a new crust recipe as I normally use a cornmeal dough, but I was really happy with the results. The crust is pretty simple which allows for the tomato and basil to really stand out. The flavor was wonderful and had only a couple of complaints. First, that I did not add sauce to the pie. The reason I usually do not add sauce is because I am selfish and don’t like the taste of reheated sauce. However, I do heat up marinara for dipping if anyone wants sauce so keep that in mind if you have family/friends who don’t like white pizza. Secondly, I did not overload with toppings. This pizza is meant to be light so please enjoy the simplicity of it because it is a nice change from extreme pepperoni and sausage. I doubled this recipe in order to make two pies which worked out perfectly. The four of us ate until we were satisfied last night, and there was enough for three of us to have left overs today.  Perry gave 4 stars and here is why:

“The flavor of this pizza was really good but I’m an extreme pizza topper. When I order a pizza I ask for double meat, double cheese and double veggies. This is not that kind of pizza. It is really light on your stomach which is good, but it’s nothing like the loaded Mediterranean Pizza Kels makes. That is why I’m not going to give full stars. It was a delicious slice. but I would have added double cheese, double tomatoes, and double basil. However, if you’re looking for something with decent flavor and doesn’t sit heavy in your gut then this is the pizza for you.”

Serves: 4         Calories: 413.4 per 2 slices     Carbs: 55 per 2 slices      Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water + 2 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1 large tomato, rinsed and sliced thin
  • sprinkling of garlic salt and black pepper
  • large handful of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix 1 cup of water with yeast, salt, sugar and lukewarm water. Gradually add the second cup of flour until a dough ball forms.
  3. Knead dough ball on clean surface for 3-5 minutes
  4. Put dough ball back in mixing bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let dough rest and rise for 15 minutes
  5. While dough is rising, slice tomato and season with garlic salt and black pepper. Set aside until ready to assemble pizza.
  6. Spread dough on greased pizza stone or pan and poke with a fork in order to avoid large bubbles in the finished pizza.
  7. Rub down the “face-up” side of dough with olive oil and bake for 8-10 minutes. Be careful because you will be baking it again after you put on your toppings so you don’t want it too crisp right away.
  8. Remove from oven and assemble your toppings.
  9. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  10. Slice and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Original pizza dough recipe can be found at http://www.food.com

Homestyle Sun-dried Tomato and Herb Hummus – ★★★★★

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We love hummus and find our homestyle recipe to be better then the store bought stuff. This recipe isn’t exactly creamy because it is hand mixed, and that is one of the things we love most about it. Every bite is different with chunks of tomato, chickpea and garlic. I’m seriously about to go break some out of the fridge just talking about it. It’s that good! We like to make it not only for ourselves but as an appetizer for when we have friends/family over. Definitely a crowd pleaser! Perry always gives five stars and here is why:

“This hummus is unique in that it’s not what you would expect hummus to be.. I was used to what Kelsey calls “liquid hummus” from the store before she introduced me to this recipe. I’m hooked and am now appalled by store bought hummus. I like this recipe because it is thick, hearty and versatile. Each batch never tastes the same because Kelsey likes to experiment with herbs. That being said we’ve never had a bad batch. We usually eat this hummus with triscuits making it a delicious protein/fiber snack.” 

Serves: a ton         Calories: 30 calories/ tbsp      Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15oz) cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 medium jar of sliced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  •  4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dill seed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain beans. 
  2. In a microwave safe bowl heat chickpeas for approximately 1-1.5 minutes
  3. Mash chickpeas with something like a meat mallet or potato masher. They will be hot so please be careful
  4. Once it’s cooled a bit add 1/2 of the jar of tomatoes and oil (you can use more if it suits your taste but at least use half of the jar), garlic and spices.
  5. Mix it all together and serve with a drizzling more of the tomato olive oil overtop. 
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo and recipe are originals. Feel free to use recipe on your own blog but please link it back to my blog for credit. 

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Spicy Zucchini-Tomato Sauce – ★★★★★

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I remember, as a child, my mom making pasta sauce from scratch. It would take hours to simmer, tasted delicious and the house would smell amazing. Unfortunately I don’t have that kind of time so if I wanted to make my own sauce I had to find something to whip up in 45 mins max… The Food Network gods have blessed me with this recipe and doubt I’ll ever go back to the Jar. The fresh basil is a must so please don’t skimp there and use dried basil. I cannot stress enough how much of a difference it will make. Perry loved this recipe because not only was it tasty but it made enough for leftovers and according to him it tasted better day after day. He gave 5 stars and here is why:

This sauce is amazing. It tastes very fresh and has a nice little kick at the end. I really like the addition of zucchini because it gives a little crunch and of course adds flavor. It didn’t seem like it took to much effort to make and it wasn’t very expensive either. We only spent $60.00 for the three meals we made +extra things we needed so I’ll estimate this only cost about 10.00 max to make. These are the kind of dinners I like, cheap and delicious.

Serves: 4-6      Total Time: 35 minutes     Calories: 354  

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil. (Olive oil is the best but we had canola on hand.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I used about 3 because I love garlic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus a little extra to sprinkle ontop if you really like the heat)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into small chunks 
  • 1 pkg whole wheat pasta of your choice (we used spaghetti)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (THE BEST!)
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for topping (Optional but very recommended)

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is just golden, about 1 minute.
  2. Squash the whole tomatoes with your hands over the skillet, add with juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt or less and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed. Drain and add to the sauce along with the basil; toss to coat.
  4. Top with parmesan and enjoy!

*Original recipe belongs to http://www.foodnetwork.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Curried Cashews and Chickpeas with Almond Asparagus

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Yesterday we were out almost the whole day which meant we had fast food for breakfast and lunch. By the time dinner came we felt so gross after eating all the crap that we decided to cook on the lighter side. These recipes are actually side dishes but since we are trying to eat smaller portions it all works out. These recipes make just enough to have a serving for dinner and a serving for lunch the next day. The curry dish is rich and creamy with a greek yogurt topping and the asparagus is simple enough to not take away from the curry. These two recipes work well together without making me feel guilty after eating 🙂 I will post the recipes separately if you just want to make them as a side dish.  Perry gave the curry 5 stars and the asparagus 4 stars. Here is why:

It is no secret that we love curry. This recipe is a lot different though because Kels did not use the huge chunks of potato, chicken and carrot like she usually does. I like her traditional “stewy” curry because it is what I am used to, but I think I like this one better because it is crunchy and more creamy. It isn’t as heavy as usual either which I like because I don’t feel so huge after I eat. The asparagus was good but not as good as the curry. I think it had too much salt and not enough orange so unless Kelsey notes in the recipe I would cut the salt in half and double the orange juice. Overall the meal was delicious and we managed to keep leftovers to enjoy tomorrow for lunch.”

Serves: 4         Calories: 344

Ingredients:

For Asparagus:

  • 2 lbs asparagus, washed trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice (Perry didn’t think this was enough orange juice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (Perry thought this was too much salt)

For Curry: 

  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (15oz) can of no salt added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted cashews, you can chop these if you like but I used them whole
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tbsp fat-free plain greek yogurt

Directions for Asparagus (25 minutes) :

  1. In a large pot bring 1 inch of water to a rolling boil. Add the asparagus and cook for two minutes or until bright green. Drain and pat dry
  2. Toast nuts in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often as not to burn them for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a dish and wipe out the skillet.
  3. Coat the same skillet with cooking spray and add the asparagus and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for two minutes or until garlic starts to lightly brown. Stirring occasionally.
  4. Add orange juice and salt, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
  5. Sprinkle toasted nuts over asparagus and serve.  

For the Curry (20 minutes): 

  1. Whisk cornstarch in a small bowl with vegetable broth to dissolve. Set aside
  2. Combine oil, onion, curry powder, salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. 
  3. Add broth and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add chickpeas and cashews. Simmer for 5 minutes allowing the flavors to blend. Fold in the parsley.
  4. Serve with a spoonful of greek yogurt.

*Photo is an original belonging to me

** Original recipe belongs to The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook 

 

Mediterranean Pizza – ★★★★★

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This was an “on the fly” recipe because we found ourselves at the grocery store short a dinner recipe. That is what is so cool about having this blog because I was able to look it up on my phone and throw something quick and delicious together. I used my “go to crust recipe” and decided I would switch up the toppings. We went Mediterranean because as of late I’ve developed an obsession with feta. The added bonus of this recipe is that we were able to get two big pizzas out of the toppings we used. Since this was a “throw together” I do not have exact measurements for the toppings but will do my best to describe what we used. Perry loved this pizza (mainly because of the banana peppers are his fav) and gave five stars. Here is why:

This pizza is definitely not your traditional cheese and pepperoni. That is one of the things I love about Kelsey’s recipes. She strays away from the norm and uses a lot of different flavors that work really well together. This one had a combination of all our favorite toppings. I love banana peppers and black olives while Kelsey loves sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Every bite was different and equally as delicious if not more than the last. I was even able to bring left overs to work and it heated up great in the microwave. I give this pizza full stars.”

Serves: 4       Calories: 338

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 & 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (I used the one specifically for pizza crust but the original kind works great too)
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 1 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup + a pinch of cornmeal
  • Tall jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced (also keep the oil to drizzle over crust before putting on toppings)
  • Medium jar of black olives, drained washed and sliced
  • Tall jar of banana peppers also known as pepperoncini
  • 5 oz. container of feta cheese, you can get the herbed kind if you like
  • Any herbs/spices you might like or have on hand (we used garlic, oregano and dill)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. In mixing bowl combine 3/4 cup of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Stir in the water and olive oil. Beat about 2 minutes and stir in 1/3 cup of cornmeal and the remaining 3/4 cup of flour to make the dough ball.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour on the surface you want to knead the dough on. Knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl and let it rise for 10 minutes.
  4. Spray a cookie/baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with additional cornmeal. Press dough into a rectangular shape, and pinch with fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes (until edges start to brown)
  5. NOTE: If you want to make two pizzas only use half of the toppings per pizza. If you only want to make one pizza than go topping-crazy 🙂
  6. Drizzle olive oil from sun-dried tomatoes over crust. Don’t drizzle too much because it will come out super greasy and I am assuming it may make your crust a little soggy for left overs. A little does it 😉 Layer your tomatoes, olives, banana peppers, feta and any spices/herbs you desire on top of the crust and pop back into the oven for an additional 5-6 minutes until toppings heat through and cheese softens.
  7. Slice and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Recipe belongs to me but you have my permission to take it and change it and publish it on your own blog. If you post it I just ask for a little mention/credit. Sharing is caring right?