Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Grillin'...the meal!

With a little help from Publix (some awesome sirloin kabobs that were marinaded in red wine), we were able to have a delicious meal.  The kabobs had been an "impulse" buy that I ended up with after seeing them as one of this week's specials.  I was a little apprehensive about them after my tooth ordeal, but I'm happy to report that my tooth survived and remains in my mouth where it should be!  

I wanted to do some sort of vegetable to go with the kabobs, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.  While Rick was packing and unpacking as part of the first weekend of his move, I was searching the internet for the perfect side.  I wanted something that we could grill, too, and my old stand-by came through with a delicious zucchini side dish to pair with the kabobs.  As always, I amended it a little bit and pared it down since the original recipe serves 8.  We served it so that we each got 1/2 of a zucchini.  The recipe below serves 4.

Grilled Zucchini with Garlic and Lemon Butter
2 zucchinis, halved length wise
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/2 stick of butter
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cheese blend

Preheat grill (medium setting). Score cut side of zucchini halves diagonally about 1/4 inch deep at 1-inch apart. Melt butter with lemon juice, lemon-pepper seasoning, garlic, oregano, and basil in a small saucepan.  Brush seasoned butter on cut side of zucchini. Place zucchini on the grill face down and grill for around 12 minutes.  Flip zucchini over and sprinkle 3 cheese blend over the cut side.  Close grill top and cook until the cheese is melted.

  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Sunday, May 30, 2010

    Memorial Day Weekend Grillin'...the starter!

    Ahh, Memorial Day's a time synonymous with grilling.  Last night, we went over to our neighbor's house (The Simpsons) for dinner.  I brought my famous shrimp bruschetta as an appetizer.  I felt bad because I was a little unorganized and running late so I didn't have them for us snack on while grilling, but they were a hit!  We had a good time last night, and I look forward to our next joint grilling adventure!

    Today, Rick was at his new place and unpacking the smaller loads that he's been taking over there.  I chilled inside today (tried to nap but failed miserably) and finished up the latest Southern Vampire Mystery that I've been reading.  Hello, new addiction!  For dinner tonight, Rick and I are grilling out (again).  I picked up some delicious looking steak kabobs at Publix as well as some zucchini to go with them.  For starters, I decided to make a smoky pecan relish that I found while flipping through the latest issue of Southern Living to serve with some grilled shrimp.  I apologize for not having pictures, but they were gone before I could get one!  They were the perfect little snack while we did the rest of our meal. I really like what we did with the shrimp--much more flavorful than what we normally do. I can foresee us making them a lot this summer!  (The relish goes great with Triscuits, too!)

    Here's what we did....

    Grilled Shrimp
    1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1 clove of garlic, pressed
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    Lemon pepper seasoning
    1/2 lemon

    Prior to peeling and deveining shrimp, soak bamboo kabobs in water (should soak for at least an hour).  In a medium bowl, mix shrimp, olive oil, garlic, and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning.  Thread shrimp on to kabobs.  Just prior to put on the grill, squeeze lemon juice over the kabobs.  

    Heat grill to medium and grill shrimp.

    Smoky Pecan Relish
    1 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained
    1 glove of garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1/2 teaspoonsalt
    1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
    1/2 cup recipe ready pecan pieces

    Combine all ingredients but the pecans into a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add pecans and pulse 10 times.  

    Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.  It can be kept for up to one week.


    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Missing in Action!!

    Sigh....once again, I've gone M.I.A. from the blog world.  This past weekend, I went out of town for a meeting (again) which was part of the reason that I haven't been posting recipes.  The other one....well, it's a little more traumatic.  Okay, okay, okay, it's really not that bad, but it was traumatic for me at least.  Last Friday was a pretty hectic day at work.  We had a joint injection in between several interviews that were scheduled for our admin assistant position.  After the first two interviews and the injection, I was enjoying my chick-fil-a nuggets and a salad from the Big House (aka the Main Hospital Cafeteria) when suddenly something didn't feel right in my mouth.  My tongue went straight the source of the weirdness which sent me straight to the bathroom.  Yep, my first molar had broken in half!  

    Yes, I have to admit that I have a bit of a teeth issue.  Growing up, I had braces twice so despite some of my poor choices earlier in life, having nice teeth is important to me.  When I realized what had happened, I was definitely started decompensating.  The situation got worse when it became clear that my dentist was closed (I used to go to the faculty dentist clinic at MUSC) due to MUSC's having graduation that morning.  I started calling around to find somewhere...anywhere!...that would take me.  Then another thing dawned on me.  My car was in Mount Pleasant!  Dern you, CARTA Express!!!  Between my cell phone and my office phone, I put in calls to several dentists, Rick, and my friend Kelly.  Apparently, I should've gone to dental school instead of nursing school because none of them are open on Fridays. 

    Luckily, though, this story has a happy ending because I found one in Mount Pleasant.  Kelly came and got me.  I am now a patient at Smileworks who were wonderful enough to come in to see me on a Friday afternoon.  I didn't have to be snaggle-toothed for the Arthritis Walk on Saturday or my meeting to Cincinnati on Sunday.  I got my new temporary crown (no root canal-YAY!) on Tuesday, and I go back for the real deal on June 7th.   

    In the interim, I've been super-careful about what I'm eating because I'm terrified that my crown is going to pop out.  It's been a week of PB&J and soup for me.  I'm so thankful for those fresh soups that they sell at Harris have no idea.  Hopefully, I'll be able to overcome my fear and start adding "real food" to my diet again so I'll be back to sharing them here.  (If anyone has any exciting soft food suggestions, please share!!!!)

    Hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!!!!

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Grilled Lamb and Pork Chops

    When I sent Rick a link to this recipe that I wanted to try, I was met with resistance.  He was not looking forward to lamb tonight, and I told him that we'd do it, and if he didn't like it, we'd heat something up (corndogs) for him.  I was wanting to do lamb chops because Harris Teeter had them on sale.  I was really wanting to stop by the new Harris Teeter that opened yesterday on Highway 17, and that gave me an excellent excuse to do so.  While I was there and gathering things for our meal tonight, Rick popped up.  We were both impressed with the new store, and it made me even more excited for the other new one that is about to open up closer to our neck of the woods off of Highway 41.

    I decided to take the Cooking Light recipe and play with it a little bit.  Rick brought over prok chops to throw on the grill, too, just in case.  I had to play with the herbs from the original recipe because Rick's not a huge rosemary fan, and we were quite impressed.  We served them with our favorite green beans.

    Here's what we did.

    1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence
    1 tablespoon dried basil
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    1 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 garlic clove, minced
    4 lamb loin chops, trimmed
    4 small pork chops

    Prepare grill.

    Mix first 8 ingredients together and spread evenly on both sides of each piece of meat.  Grill until desired doneness.


    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Another Sausage and Pasta Dish

    So I had a little bit of sausage left over from this weekend, and I needed to do something with it before it went bad.  After browsing through the pantry and the refrigerator, I came up with this simple meal.   Another nice thing about it is the leftovers that I got to take to work for lunch.  Those MUSC cafeteria prices are a little much since they remodeled the cafeteria in the Big House (aka the main hospital), and I've more than my fair share of sandwiches, salads, or soups from the little cafe in Rutledge Tower.  Rick stayed at home tonight so it was just me.  I'm thinking that I may not share my leftover...hee, hee, hee!  Here's what I did.

    Penne with Italian Sausage, Green Pepper, and Onions in a Tomato Sauce
    2 Italian Sausages, taken out of the casing and cut into bite-sized pieces
    1 small green pepper, chopped
    1 sweet onion, chopped vertically
    1 can of diced tomatoes (I used the no salt added kind)
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
    1/2 box of penne pasta
    Olive oil

    Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain and return to the pot.

    While the pasta is cooking, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick skillet.  Add sausage, green pepper, onion, garlic, and basil to the skillet and saute until the vegetables are tender.  Add tomatoes and juices from the can.  Heat for another 2 minutes.  Mix the sausage mixture with the pasta in the pot. Serve and enjoy!

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Dressing Up Cheeseburgers

    Weekends are made for grilling, and this weekend, we decided to use charcoal instead of gas.  Gas works great for the week night grilling because it's much quicker than charcoal.  Rick loves the whole process of using charcoal on the weekend, and it makes me happy to see his face light up the way it does when he's putting food on a charcoal grill.  For dinner last night, we decided to do cheeseburgers.  Ground sirloin had been on sale at Publix so we use that.  As usual, I wanted to dress up our burgers a bit.  During a recent visit to, I found a recipe for cheeseburgers with a red onion jam.  The recipe was originally in Cooking Light.  It sounded really good, and I had most of the ingredients on hand at home so I asked Rick to pick up a red onion when he went to Publix for buns.  He came back with a small one so I made a couple of adjustments to the jam. 

    When it came time to add the onions the burgers, Rick was a little apprehensive.  He's not a huge onion fan, but after he saw what I did, he realized that they weren't raw, had a little sample, and wanted some.  The onions ended up being a nice addition to the cheeseburgers and complemented them really well.  

    Here's what we did...

    Red Onion Jam
    Olive oil
    1 small red onion, halved and sliced
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

    Heat oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.  Add onions and saute for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add vinegar, sugar, and thyme to the onions.  Saute until the onions have softened (around 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and serve.


    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

    Earlier this week, my bus buddy, Susan, and I were heading home after a day of work, and the topic of what was for dinner came up.  I told her of my plans to do Chicken Parm, and she said that she was going to be cooking spaghetti squash.  My mind immediately drift to this simple but delicious recipe that I found on back in 2006.  It's so hard for me to believe that I've been making it that long, and everyone that I've made it for has loved it!  I first discovered spaghetti squash about 5 years ago, and it was an exciting time for my mom, too, because she is allergic to sulfates which are usually part of the whole pasta experience.  In the past, I've been known to throw in some mushrooms.  

    The spaghetti squash that they had at Publix were on the smaller side than I'm used to using which saddened me...mainly because it meant that I could use a regular knife instead of my electric knife.  Yep, I got an electric knife with the main purpose of halving a spaghetti squash!!!  Anyway, with the smaller squash, I had to play around with the amount of ingredients, but like always, this recipe turned out to be a fantastic meal!  Another cool thing is that it allowed me to use some of the fresh herbs that Susan had brought me!

    Here's my adapted original recipe!

    Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
    • 1 3 3/4- to 4-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
    • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
    • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups purchased marinara sauce
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • Cheddar cheese
    Preheat oven to 375F.

    Place halved spaghetti squash shell side up on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake squash in the oven for 1 hour.  Let the squash cool.

    While the squash is cooling, sauté sausage, bell pepper, onion, basil, and garlic in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage browns and vegetables are tender, breaking up sausage with back of spoon, about 12 minutes. Mix in marinara sauce. 

    Using fork, pull out squash strands from shells, leaving shells intact. Mix squash strands into sausage mixture. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon filling into squash shells. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover; refrigerate.)

    Turn oven up to 400°F. Arrange filled squash halves on baking sheet. Sprinkle each with Parmesan and then top with a little bit of cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 20 minutes (30 minutes if previously chilled). Cut each squash half in two and serve. 


    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    A Nod (and thanks!) to my Frugal Online Friends

    Wow, another non-food blog! What is up with that?  I guess I just wanted to take a little time and share spotlight some blogs with you that you may (or may not) have bothered to click on over there to the left of my posts.  Basically, I follow three types of blogs:  cooking blogs, my friends' blogs, and saving/coupon blogs.  Admittedly, I've never been much of a coupon clipper.  I don't think I've ever had the patience or made the time to hunt for them. I'm also notorious for clipping and forgetting, but since I've become an adult (ie, graduated from nursing school and started a real job again), I've put myself on a budget and trying to save money.  I guess it's that pile of student loan debt that for my little world rivals the national debt (okay, maybe not THAT bad, but it feels like it!) that has inspired me to be more conscious of my spending habits.  Rick actually helped me get set up on my budget and convinced me to set up a new checking account for "groceries, gas, and fun" which has actually worked out really well so far!  I fished out this plastic, purple, accordion file that my mom had given me YEARS ago to organize my bills, actually labelled it so that I can organize my coupons alphabetically!  My dad has always been big on coupons, and I'm hoping that I'm making him proud!

    Since discovering Friday Follow, I've been introduced to quite a few really cool blogs that are all about saving money, getting free goodies, and coupons!  Now, I enjoy browsing different blogs and checking out their posts about where to get cool free stuff and what specials certain stores are having.  I've started getting the Sunday paper because all the cool coupons are there, and I recently discovered that there are websites out there that give a preview of what the Sunday coupons are.  How exciting is that!  Hmm....maybe I do need to get out more.

    Here are some of the buttons  (I think I may have button envy!) that will take you to some really cool places to help you stay on a budget.  Be sure to continue to check them out on a regular basis, too.  If you have any that you frequent or if  you have your own, please share them in a comment.

    So check 'em out!

    This site I stumbled upon while looking for info on the Publix Penny Saver.

    This site has a great FAQ section that explains about couponing that really helped change my attitude about couponing. 

    The name says it all....

    This blog has all kinds of links to giveaways and how to get free goodies in the mail (my new favorite thing to do)!
    Shelley's Swag

    Here's one done by a fellow RN! (Me?  Biased?  Never!)

    Thanks to all the awesome bloggers who do these sites!  My bank account thanks you, too!

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Chicken Pasta with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms

    I was going to make this recipe over the weekend, but I ended up spending my Friday night helping Kelly decorate her visor for the Dragon Boat Race on Saturday.  Her visor turned out really cute!  I was quite impressed with myself.  Saturday night, I just wasn't feeling like cooking so I had leftovers.  When Sunday rolled around, I was really want to make this recipe that I had found on from Cooking Light, and I decided to make it for Rick and I for dinner last night when he got back from his trip to visit his parents.  As usual, I made a few changes that are reflected in the recipe below.  Not being the mushroom fan, Rick picked most of them out from his serving, and I took them!   When I was putting together our leftovers, I was nice enough to give him chicken only.  Are I sweet?  We ended up making the whole box of pasta (which is why I'm suggesting 1/2 the box in the recipe), and we're planning on using the rest of it when we make Chicken Parm this week.

    Chicken Pasta with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms
    • 3/4  cup  coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
    • 1  cup  water
    • 1/4 cup half and half
    • 1 1/4  teaspoons  salt, divided
    • 1 pack of skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into cubes
    • Garlic and herb spice grinder
    • 1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • Cooking spray
    • 1/4  cup  finely chopped shallots
    • 1  (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
    • 1/2 box of pasta of your choice
    Place pecans in a food processor; process until smooth (about 1 minute), scraping sides of bowl once. With processor on, add water, then milk, and 3/4 teaspoon salt; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl.

    Season chicken with Garlic and Herb Grinder.  Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sauté until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

    Add basil, shallots, and mushrooms to pan; sauté until mushrooms are tender. Stir in pecan cream, pepper and add chicken back to the pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 1/2 minutes.  Serve over 1 cup pasta.


    Thursday, May 06, 2010


    I rarely do non-food posts, but I just had to do one today because it's Nurses Day!  I'm really proud that I'm able to call myself a nurse.  This past December, I joined the ranks of many women that I admire and appreciate.  My path to this career was a long one that started off in research in psychiatry, took a turn into the rheumatology world, detoured for a masters in clinical counseling, and then started nursing school in the fall of 2008.  I got some grief today about my many degrees, and minus the student loan debt, I'm very happy with the choice that I've made.  I'm just as thankful to all of those who have supported and encouraged me all that path.  So I'd like to say thank you to all of the nurses in my life...the friends, mentors, and healthcare providers who have been there for me along the way.  I hope that you will do the same and thank those wonderful men and women who call themselves nurses!

    Link within

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