Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fresh Orange Mojito

Last night, I needed a little taste of vacation before my vacation.

June has been a long month and these past couple weeks have been particularly stressful. My mini get away to the Outer Banks will be exactly what the doctor ordered.


While sipping my mojito I thought about morning runs on the small friendly roads around the beach house. Board games and snacks with the kids. Cracking blue crabs at dusk on the big screened in porch, books on the beach and 4th of July fireworks.

Today I will be picking up a new beach bag, some deep conditioning spray to protect my hair from salt water frizzies and a new book.

Any beach read suggestions?

Shopping List (from Food Network, minus the lime)

1/2 orange, cut into 3 wedges
2 teaspoons sugar
1 or 2 sprigs fresh mint
2 1/2 ounces white rum
1 cup crushed ice

Put the oranges, sugar, and mint in a large rocks glass. Muddle the leaves and citrus by pressing them with a pestle or a wooden spoon until juicy and fragrant. Add the rum and ice. Cover with a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously, or stir, until combined and chilled, about 30 seconds. (In general, by the time the shaker mists up the drink is ready.) Serve.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So Good: Trader Joe's Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I'm not an "ice cream" girl.  You won't find me watching sad movies with a carton of Ben and Jerry's and a box of tissues.  I'd much rather be bad with a bag of sour cream and onion chips.

But I want to marry this ice cream...


Maybe I like it so much because it's not really ice cream.  It's dairy free... soy free... gluten free and vegan friendly.  Also there are no artificial flavors, preservatives or coloring. Amazing right?

It's as creamy as a milkshake. You get the strawberry flavor first, light and fresh, then a rich, luscious hint of coconut. Not too much though, just enough.


I don't post products often, but I'm telling you, you have to run to Trader Joe's and pick up a carton of their Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream. It's a spoonful of heaven for only $2.99.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Light Huevos Rancheros

I wanted to make a fresh salsa for this post and then use it as my excuse to have a bag of chips and salsa for dinner... but I've promised myself (and that new little black bikini still in my top dresser drawer) no bread, chips, pasta or heavy carbs until my vacation starts.

Huevos Rancheros was where I went instead. Black beans, an egg, avocado, salsa and hot sauce, yum.  I skipped the feta cheese, sour cream and tortilla to cut the carbs and saturated fat. Isn't it colorful?



Have I ever mentioned how much I love hot sauce?

I'm not one of those people who put it on everything, but close enough. In my previous post I mentioned green pepper sauce. For my Huevos Rancheros I used Cholula Hot Sauce. Look even the makers of Cholula think it goes well on ranch style eggs.

I have even heard that making your food spicier helps you lose weight. I'm sure it's not true, but I like the idea. Bring on the Cholula!


Shopping List
1 tomato, diced
1 quarter large red onion, diced
1/2 garlic clove, minced
Fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
Salt
1 egg
Black Beans
Avocado
Cholula Hot Sauce (optional, but so good)

Mix your first six ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Heat up your black beans and use them as a bed for your fried egg. Slice up your avocado for a topping and spoon your freshly made salsa on top as well. Finish with Cholula and serve immediately.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Hot Dog it's Friday! (Gyro Dog)

Fact: I am still craving hot dogs.

Fact: Gyros are my second favorite to hot dogs.

Fact: I don't have anymore facts but I  liked how stating "fact" sounded over and over. As I promised, here is Fridays special hot dog, the "Gyro Dog."


What really made this hot dog work for me was the TABASCO® brand Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce on top of the tzatziki and feta cheese. The green stuff is much more mild than the red so it gives it a perfect little kick.

The lettuce gave it a little crunch and the olives some salt. The flavors work really well on a bun!

I made two and planned on eating them both until Honey (my dog) stole one when I wasn't looking off the coffee table (!!!). Kinda funny that my dog stole my hot dog. I tried not to get too mad at her. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to resist.

Shopping List
All beef hot dogs
Hot dog buns
shredded lettuce
chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
Diced kalamata olives
Tzatziki sauce (you can buy it pre-made or follow my recipe here)
TABASCO® brand Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce

Butterfly your hot dogs and place them on a grill on grill pan until they have perfect grill markings. Toast your buns. Shred or chop your lettuce, tomatoes and olives while the dogs are on the grill.

When your hot dogs and buns are ready, mix your chopped lettuce in some on the tzatziki (wait to do this or it will get soggy) then place it on top of the hot dog, then sprinkle on your feta, tomatoes, and olives. Top with more tzatziki and a few shakes of green pepper sauce. Enjoy!

P.S. Thank you for all the congrats on making todays Foodbuzz Top 9. What an excellent way to start the weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cherry Lemon Granita

Ever since I made the Watermelon Granita and realized how easy it is,  I've been dying to try another flavor.  I know I promised almond would be next, but when I saw these deep red, sweet cherries in the produce isle the other day I couldn't resist.


I added fresh lemon juice and thin curls of lemon peel to perk up the flavors.


Our summer vacation is coming up soon and I've been brainstorming on what would be good to make while at the beach house.

I will definitely be making this and adult and kid friendly versions of these.

But I don't think a granita can handle the hot summer heat ...


Shopping List
1 cup pitted sweet cherries
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
juice of half of a lemon
thin slices of lemon peel, about half of the lemon

After pitting your cherries (you can slice them around the pit as well) add all of your ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until you have a fine puree.

Pour the puree through a sieve/strainer, with a bowl underneath, to remove the left over cherry and lemon pieces and drain out the juices.  It helps to press a large spoon against the cherry bits to help squeeze out any additional liquid.

Pour the juice into a small casserole pan and freeze over night. Scrap your frozen liquid with a fork when it is solid and serve in a martini glass, bowl, or plate as you wish. Enjoy it quickly though before it melts!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Caprese Turkey Burgers

Sometimes life gives you lemons ... and this week I got an entire mesh bag full (and not even nice Meyer lemons either, plain old bruised yellow lemons).

Don’t worry I’m not going to tell you to make lemonade -- or even lemon breakfast bars -- but I will tell you to make Caprese Turkey Burgers.


In times of worry or stress there are four things that make me feel better; bubble baths, hugs, yoga, and cooking.

I find that when I am in the kitchen, I am paying so much attention to not over cook the chicken, or to perfectly coat  my cake pops in chocolate, that it serves as a distraction from my problems.

Last night, I relaxed while preparing a sour cherry granita (that I will post tomorrow) and this healthy burger option.

I have a trick for seasoning the turkey meat that will make you think twice about ever using ground beef again. I add half of a packet of Lipton Beefy Onion soup mix, and diced onion. The flavor is amazing.


Shopping list
1 lb. ground turkey (makes 4 burgers)
1 packet Lipton Beefy Onion Soup
½ of an onion, diced
1 tomato
Fresh buffalo mozzarella
Fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil

Place your ground turkey in a large bowl and add half of your Lipton soup mix and diced onion. Mix until combined but be mindful not to over mix. Form 4 burger patties and place on the grill.

Grill each side for about 5-8 minutes. Turkey grills faster than beef.

Place your patties on a clean white plate and then slice your mozzarella and place it on the burger while it's still warm. Top the mozzarella with a slice of tomato and then fresh basil. Drizzle a tablespoon full of extra virgin olive oil on the plate around the burger and serve.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crabs at Cantler's in Annapolis, Maryland

Forget springtime in Paris... A perfect spring evening is spent at a table with a view of the South River, a brown paper table cloth, a dozen Maryland blue crabs, margaritas (don't forget those!) and your favorite girlfriends.


We waited for a table at Cantler's for close to two hours, but it was totally worth it. At Cantler's you can "tailgate" in the parking lot with drinks and appetizers while you wait.
 

Ariana and I ordered "Jimmy's Crab Feast." For $25.00 you get three large crabs, clams, mussels, shrimp, and corn on the cob.


Marisa got crab-cakes and Jenny and Allison stuck with the classic dozen blue crabs ($65.00) covered in Old Bay Seasoning.

Don't forget the melted butter... smash that crab with a mallet and drown it in butter.

Before moving to DC I had never experienced the joy of cracking open your own crabs and removing the lungs, guts and poop. Yes....  poop. But there is something about the process that makes it taste better. You worked for it!

And, this $7.00 margarita was 10 times better than the one I ordered here. Though many might argue that crabs are served best with a bottle of cold beer.


And here is what I was left with...


P.S. We spent the afternoon kayaking around Annapolis with a guided historical tour. Our guides were very cool. They actually used to live in Hawaii where they met on a kayaking tour, fell in love and eventually ended up in Annapolis. Take their tour, it's the perfect way to get some sun, workout your arms and then have an excuse to eat crabs at Cantler's later!

Kayaking photos here on Jenny's blog Savory Style

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grilled Ruben Hot Dog

"What do you want for dinner tonight?"

"I really want a hot dog..."

"How can you possibly want another hot dog?"

"I don't know, I just need one!"
 

This is a reoccurring conversation in my little kitchen lately. And while some people are all "hot-dogged out" I just can't seem to get enough.

So in order to fulfill this craving once and for all, I am hereby declaring this Summer, The Summer of the Hot Dog!  For the rest of the summer (which officially starts next week) I will blog a new hot dog recipe every Friday.


And not just any old ketchup and mustard hot dog, these hot dogs will be special. This week is the Grilled Ruben Hot Dog.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coconut Lemon Breakfast Bars

I candied lemon slices the other day and put them on top of breakfast bars. (They were almost as good as these)  While the breakfast bars  came out perfectly, I was anything but perfect in the kitchen.  I was a disorganized,  clumsy mess.  It took me way to long to do everything, and I broke a knife and a chair...  yes a chair.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greek Quinoa Salad in a Lettuce Wrap with Tzatziki

Beautiful bowls of this flavorful grain have been popping up all over the blogosphere lately. I jumped on the Quinoa bandwagon last night and I'm so glad I did.

Initially I wanted to make Greek quesadillas, but then I thought of all the carbs in tortillas --  and how I would want to melt cheese inside -- and how guilty I would feel after. 

That's when I thought of the giant bag of quinoa my Grandpa gave me when I went home last weekend and how the texture of the grain with some Greek flavors would be just as hearty.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Adventures in Hot Dogs

I'm back! We just returned from a weekend with family in Connecticut, which means mani-pedi's with my mom, morning runs on the beach  and catching up with old friends.

But this post isn't about my trip (more about that later)... it's about the best hot dog I've ever had.


I've been seriously craving hot dogs lately, (no really, all the time, all I want are hot dogs?!) unfortunately, the DC area doesn't offer much other than your typical run of the mill hot dog stand outside Union Station.

But in Connecticut they have Super Duper Weenie.

Super Duper Weenie initially started as a food truck but did so well that they had to expand into a permanent location. Their dogs are so good that Guy Fieri  featured them on his hit show "Diners, Drive ins and Dives."

Chicagoan photo via www.lunchoclock.blogspot.com

My Grandpa had the "Chicagoan" that's topped with crazy green lettuce, tomato, mustard, celery salt, hot relish and a pickle (classic Chicago style).  We also had the "Dixie Dog" and the "New Englander." 

Menu photo from www.seriouseats.com

Who has your favorite hot dogs? Does anyone have any suggestions as to where this New England girl can find a good hot dog in DC? I can't seem to shake this craving!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweet Drinks & Cupcakes

Hey everyone! This is Ericka from The Sweet Life :) I'm so excited to be here guest-posting on That's So Michelle for the first time. Since this blog is one of my inspirations (and Michelle is one of my best friends), I'm honored!

It was desperately humid out last night but oh so summery so we wanted to sit outside for some drinks, apps and girl talk (pretty much my favorite things!)

We decided on Morton's Steakhouse -- and while getting steak would have been the best option -- budgets don't agree with Morton's prices! Instead, I spent my precious dollar bills on my favorite drink -- a lemon drop martini for the fat price of $14.75. Talk about missing happy hour :( But licking the sugar rim was totally worth it! Michelle got the margarita, which was even MORE!



I was in the mood for something light so I got my absolute favorite appetizer, mozzarella and tomato salad with basil. Unfortunately, it was pretty puny and actually one of the most disappointing I've had. Michelle ordered the tuna tar tar with avocado and tomato, which looked amazing but also came out lacking in taste. A little salt helped the problem but it was also disappointing overall.


Of course we were NOT full by these pathetic little nibbles and I had never been to Red Velvet Cupcakery, which was right around the corner. I am a lover of cupcakes and was super-excited to try -- what else -- the red velvet flavor. All these cupcake spots opening up in D.C. have me craving them constantly but it turns out I'm rather picky. Though my cupcake was good, I still liked Hello Cupcake better and am dying to try Sprinkles, which Maggie swares by! Read more about my cupcake experience over at my blog!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Watermelon Granita

I don't know why but I've always been intimidated by the term "granita" and thought it was too fancy for me to try on my own.

Well, it is fancy! But guess what, it's also super easy, and really fresh and light. A perfect summer dessert. The flavor is so obviously watermelon without being cloyingly sweet. It's just right. You have to try it.




I followed the recipe from my latest Bon Appetit Magazine . They also featured an Espresso and an Almond Granita as well. I'm definitely going to try the almond next.

Watermelon Granita:
4 cups (1 3/4 pounds) cubed seedless watermelon (from a 4-lb. melon)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions:
Purée all ingredients in a blender (I used a food processor) until smooth. Pour into a 9x9x2" metal baking pan. Freeze mixture for 1 hour. Stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork. Cover and freeze mixture until firm, might as well leave it over night.

Using a fork, scrape granita vigorously to form icy flakes. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover tightly with foil and keep frozen. Give it a quick scrape before serving.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Buffalo Chicken Dip

Finally! I know that's what my girlfriends are thinking as they read this post. I have been asked how to make this buffalo chicken dip a million times.  Ironically, it's the one signature recipe I haven't posted yet on this blog. There is a good reason for that ...


Let's face it...  It's just not the prettiest dish. It looks like orange mush, but those who have tasted it will attest that it's a perfect bite of spicy, tangy, chicken goodness.  Your friends will crave it and make you promise to bring it their next party.

The concept of this dish isn't original, but it's my technique that makes it better than the rest. Rather than poaching the chicken and pulling it apart with a fork, I poach mine and shred it into find crumbles in a food processor. Don't skip that step, it's just not the same without it.

You taste the chicken, but you just can't put your finger on if there is really chicken in there. It's so creamy, and so smooth... 


I would also suggest that you only use Frank's Red Hot Original cayenne sauce and that you most certainly do not use fat free ingredients. It's worth running 3 miles to burn off after.

Michelle's Buffalo Chicken Dip
 
2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup Franks Red Hot Original cayenne sauce
3 chicken breasts
1 package shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 large casserole pan
1 bag of tortilla chips
Chopped celery

Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

Poach your chicken in boiling hot water with some salt for 10 minutes, turn off the burner and leave for an additional 5 minutes (over cooking the chicken will give it a gamey taste, gross)

Let the chicken cool then cut the breasts into smaller chucks. Using your shredding blade -- that comes with most food processors -- shred the chicken until it looks like crumbles or the way tuna fish looks when it's mixed with a fork.

Remove the packaging from your cream cheese and place both packages in your casserole dish. To make sure your cream cheese is spreadable place the casserole dish with the cream cheese in the oven for about 10 minutes.

When the cream cheese is soft, pour in your cup of ranch and then cup of hot sauce and stir until it's all mostly combined. Then about a quarter at a time mix in your shredded chicken. Next sprinkle in about half of your bag of shredded cheddar and mix. Heat in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the dip is warm.

Sprinkle more cheese on top and cover with foil until you serve with celery and tortilla chips.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Strawberry Margarita Jello Shots

So, typically my lemon or orange peel jello shots are my go to party trick, but I was feeling sassy this weekend and wanted to try something new.


I found the recipe for these strawberry margarita jello shots on Bakers Royale. They weren't as easy to make as I had assumed.  Here are are the instructions adapted from Bakers Royale and some tips to make sure you don't have the problems I did.



Strawberry Prep (About two plastic containers of strawberries should do it, but you will have left over jello for sure)  Cut the bottoms of the strawberry flat to get them to stand upright. When you do so, make sure that you do not cut off so much that there is a hole at the bottom. *REALLY  be careful about cutting off the bottom of the strawberry. Just the littlest hole (even a teeny tiny one) will make your jello leak out of the berry.

Use a paring knife or small spoon to hollow out the berries. Don't get too into emptying the strawberry, just do your best.  *Look for the biggest strawberries you can, they hold the most jello. 

Jello Mix
1 regular (small) box Strawberry Jell-O
1 cup tequila,
1 cup water
Sugar and sliced lime for garnish

(For a kid friendly non-alcoholic version just use cold water or lemonade instead of tequila!)

Instructions
Boil one cup of hot water in a saucepan, then add in Jell-o powder and whisk until powder is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Set aside. Measure out 1 cup of  tequila and set aside.

Add cold tequila to hot Jell-o mixture and stir to combine.

Pour mix into strawberries and chill overnight. Pour some sugar on a plate and rim your strawberries with it. You don't need to wet the berry it will stick on its own. Garnish with cut lime triangles to finish. Keep really cold until serving.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Goat Cheese

Remember how I said I never liked zuchini as a kid and now I love it?  Well I've never really liked eggplant either but while roaming the grocery store looking for healthy dinner options, those big, strange, purple vegetables called to me.


And guess what?!  Just like zucchini,  I am now a fan of eggplant.  Maybe it had just never been prepared the way I like it.  Or maybe all the breading and cheese that was melted on top of eggplant Parmesan was too much of a reminder that it wasn't chicken. 




But this grilled eggplant dish,  topped with  grape tomatoes,  basil and goat cheese,  complements the soft and juicy vegetable perfectly.



What foods did you hate as a kid and now you love?  Brussels Sprouts?  Spinach?

Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Goat Cheese  Serves Two or more

2 Eggplant (any kind, I used graffiti)
Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves
Grape tomatoes
Crumbled goat cheese
Basil
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

*Heat up a grill-pan on medium heat. As it is warming slice your eggplant into 1/3 to 1/4 inch circles. Mince one garlic clove and toss it into a bowl with about 1/2 a cup of olive oil. Brush the olive oil and garlic onto the eggplant slices. Salt the slices and allow them to sit for 5 minutes. Grill the eggplant for 5-6 minutes on each side.

*Chop your grape tomatoes into smaller pieces and mix gentle with chopped basil, minced garlic clove, and crumbled goat cheese. Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and grate in the zest.

*Top your eggplant with the tomato and goat cheese mixture and salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Baked Zucchini Chips with Sweet Garlic & Dill Aioli

It's that time again. Time for me to stop baking things like these, and start playing around with healthy, vegetarian, vegan and even raw recipes.

Zucchini is my new favorite vegetable. I never liked it as a kid but lately I just can't get enough.


It's already bikini season. Can you believe it? What you put in your body really effects not only how you look but also how you feel. 


These were dinner tonight, and after a good run with Honey, I feel pretty good!

For Zucchini Chips
  Serves Two
1 Zucchini
2 Eggs
Half loaf old french bread (or your choice of light breading)
1/4 cup flour
Salt
Pepper
Pinch of dried or fresh dill

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees.Slice your zucchini in 1/3 to 1/4 slices. Salt them and set them aside to sweat for 5 minutes.

*Run your french bread through the food processor until it's in fine, small crumbs. Mix the bread crumbs with your flour and season with salt, pepper and dill (to you taste buds desire)

*Mix your eggs in a separate bowl. Dip your zucchini slices in the eggs, then each side in the bread crumb mixture. Lay each slice on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes on each side.

Crunchy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside!


For Sweet Garlic Aioli
Two egg yolks
1 Garlic clove
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Dash fresh or dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

*In a food processor or blender add your egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, dill, and honey. Blend for about 2 minutes. Slowly -- one drip at a time ,for the first 10 drips -- add your olive oil. Continue adding the oil until you get the right consistency. (If it still seems to thin, keep blending, trust me it will get there)

P.S. You should probably listen to this while you make your healthy zucchini treats. Bop around that kitchen!


Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks from Foster The People on Vimeo.
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