Italian Baked Eggs

Family Circle April 2013

Italian Baked Eggs are the perfect start to any morning!

If one of your goals for 2014 was to lose weight, the most popular piece of advice you’ll hear is – Eat Breakfast.  Having a healthy breakfast in the morning will jump-start your metabolism and prevent you from overeating throughout the day.  Problem is – I’ve never been a breakfast person.  I can remember my mom imploring me every morning to eat something, anything before rushing off to school.  I never did.

I carried that bad habit into adulthood, and rarely (if ever) did I eat breakfast.  Although lately, ever since I started my take on magazine recipes, I’ve been incorporating more breakfast items into my weekly routine.  I try to make breakfast at least one morning on the weekends – something my family is ever so grateful for.

Italian Baked Eggs seemed so different to me.  Definitely not the traditional scrambled eggs and bacon I’m used to.  I was surprised at how easy it was to make.  The fresh mozzarella makes the dish extra rich and creamy and – let’s face it – mozzarella on anything is heavenly.

You will definitely enjoy this one!

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Italian Baked Eggs

Rating: 31

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 19 minutes

Total Time: 23 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Calories per serving: 267

Italian Baked Eggs

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Crusty bread

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large oven-safe skillet (not nonstick), heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onion; cook 3 to 5 minutes until softened. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute until softened. Pour in tomatoes, ¼ cup of the basil, the salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Remove skillet from heat. Crack eggs into sauce, spacing evenly apart. Distribute cheese around skillet. Bake at 400° on top rack until egg whites are set, about 8 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove skillet from oven. Scatter remaining ¼ cup basil on top and serve immediately with crusty bread.
http://thoughtsfromher.com/2014/02/italian-baked-eggs/

Easy Shrimp Paella

Good Housekeeping August 2013

Easy Shrimp Paella recipe via thoughtsfromher.com

I’m going to be honest here: I don’t like to cook.  I do it because I have to feed my family, but when I find myself making the same dishes week after week, the whole cooking thing gets a little old.  Lately the only thing that can pique my interest in the kitchen is a pile of magazines that I have that are loaded with new recipes to try.

Now here’s where you really get to see how OCD, crazy, odd different I can really be.

For one, I’m a bit of a paper hoarder.  I get this from my mother, I know, but for some reason I just can’t throw away paper that can still be used.  I have scrap paper that can last me through the next decade or so.  Notebook paper doesn’t get tossed until I have written on both sides of the paper.  For me, that includes magazines that still have information inside that I can use.  Mostly, the recipes.

So now, every time I receive a magazine and read it, I flag it (with little sticky tabs) and won’t toss the magazine until I’ve made all the recipes from it that had been flagged.  For some magazines that’s only 2 or 3 recipes, for others it’s more like 9 or 10.  Once I’ve made all the recipes I can finally justify tossing the magazine.

Magazine Recipes - I can't toss any magazines until I've made all the recipes I've flagged from them. via thoughtsfromher.com

Did I lose you yet?  Think I’m a total nut job? (I’m crossing my fingers that you don’t.)

So anyhow, tonight’s recipe was an Easy Shrimp Paella recipe from the August 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping.  I think the only time I’ve ever had a Spanish paella was at a tapas restaurant in downtown Chicago.  I have never, ever attempted to make it on my own, but I make rice all the time so I thought this would be a snap.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t though. Sad smile

Prep was easy enough, but midway through I realized that I used the wrong pot (I used a cast iron skillet when I needed a skillet with a lid) and the recipe calls for a 15 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes.  I obviously can’t read and used an entire 28 oz can.  So, what I ended up making was a soggy mess of shrimp and sticky rice.  It was so sticky that my daughter thought I’d made an Asian rice instead of a Spanish dish.  My Puerto Rican ancestors are rolling in graves right now, I assure you.

Bottom line:  Make sure your skillet is deep enough, and has a lid.  And read through the entire recipe and use the correct ingredient quantity.  But of course you would. Screwing it up is just me.  I do it all the time.

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Easy Shrimp Paella

Rating: 21

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4

Calories per serving: 610

Easy Shrimp Paella

The only reason this recipe gets 2 stars from me is that I screwed it up a bit. The flavor was good, but I added a whole 28 oz can of tomatoes, making my rice too sticky for my liking.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1 tsp paprika (divided)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 med onion, finely chopped
  • 2 lg red peppers,finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on med-high heat. Toss shrimp with 1/2 tsp paprika and salt. Cook 3 minutes, or until opaque. Transfer to bowl.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in the same skillet on med-high heat. Add onion and red pepper and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add rice and can of tomatoes, stirring until combined. Add 1/2 tsp paprika and chicken broth and heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
  3. Stir in cooked shrimp and peas into cooked rice. Serve immediately.
http://thoughtsfromher.com/2014/01/easy-shrimp-paella/

Learning Proper Knife Skills with Chicago Cutlery

I had so much fun when I attended this event, I have no idea why I haven’t shared yet!  Back in mid-September, I attended a blogger-only event at The Chopping Block in Chicago hosted by Chicago Cutlery and Mom Central.  Honestly, I have always wanted to take a class at The Chopping Block.  I used to work at the Merchandise Mart downtown and used to walk by The Chopping Block every day when I got off the train.  You can totally see some of the classroom space when walking by and it always looked so FUN!  I was honored when given the chance to take a cooking class there and learn how to properly use a knife by the great folks from Chicago Cutlery.  Proper knife skills are a MUST for anyone trying to make their way around a kitchen.  I’m no Rachael Ray, but I’m trying to get there!

First, we were greeted by this gorgeous kitchen!  I mean, if I had a kitchen like that at home, I’d be cooking every day!  Well, no – maybe I’m exaggerating, but that is a really sweet kitchen!

This was our lunch menu…and, yes, we cooked everything on the menu ourselves!  It was surprisingly easy too.

Some of the things we learned were…

How to properly hold a knife.  I used to hold the knife with my index finger on top of the blade.  I thought I had more control that way, but I was wrong.  (This knife is part of a new Design Pro series by Chicago Cutlery.)

Your other hand (the hand holding the food) should be curled up a bit and you should hold the food with the tips of your fingers.

When cutting julienne slices of food, always push the blade away from you.   It’s like a down and out motion.

And probably the most valuable tip of the day:  Before cutting an onion, put it in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes and then soak the onion in cold water for a few minutes.  NO MORE TEARS!!!  Seriously – I cut an entire Spanish onion and didn’t let out a single tear!  No burning eyes = a very happy me!

We took all those julienned veggies and made salmon in parchment paper – something I’ve never done before, but will definitely be doing again!

And before we knew it…viola…lunch was served!  And it was Mmm, Mmm GOOD!

Disclosure:  I wrote this review after attending a cooking class with Chicago Cutlery and Mom Central at The Chopping Block in Chicago.  All stories presented here are 100% my own.

Avocado Recipes I Want My Child to Love #ILoveAvocados

Avocados are definitely a staple in my house.  We make guacamole, cut it up to eat with rice, put it on sandwiches…anytime an avocado would “go” with a dish, we add it.  They are just sooooo good!

That being said, my son is not a fan…yet.  Sure he’ll eat it if I squish it up and camouflage it with a spoonful of rice, but otherwise, he’s just not having it.  And that makes me sad.  The rest of the family can’t get enough, but my son could take it or leave it. :(  And there is one avocado recipe in particular that my family loves and I’m hoping that one day we can get my son on board.

This recipe is a little spicy (just a little) and that’s why my little guy has yet to try it.  But, hey, I’m a Latina…HELLO, I love my food with a bit of spice.  Mmm…sabroso!  Hopefully he’ll come to appreciate it one day as much as we do.  My chorizo burgers con queso fresco y salsa de agaucate (fresh cheese and avocado salsa) is quickly becoming one of my husband’s most requested meals!

It was also nice (for me) that my husband helped me make this recipe this time.  Help in the kitchen is never denied!

All these goodies will make your avocado salsa.  Just looking at this picture I can smell the cilantro. Best. Scent. Ever.

Avocado Recipe

In the end, your salsa should look like this.  Notice how thick and chunky the avocados are…try not to squish them when you mix the ingredients together.

And these burgers are the bomb-diggity, ya’ll.  Just sayin’. :)

For more delicious avocado recipes, visit the Avocados from Mexico site and their Fan Recipe page.

Chorizo Burgers con Queso Fresco y Salsa de Aguacate
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Author: Amanda. Original Recipe in the Chicago Tribune
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 8
These burgers are just a little bit spicy, but a whole lot of delicious!
Ingredients
  • For the burgers:
  • 3 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cider vinegar
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 8 bolillo rolls (Mexican torta bread), toasted (or substitute hamburger buns)
  • Queso fresco, crumbled to garnish on top
  • For the avocado salsa:
  • 2-3 large ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped small
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of 4 limes
Instructions
  1. For the burgers:
  2. Combine chili powder, salt, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the meat; combine with your hands thoroughly. Form into 8 patties, wrap well in plastic and chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Heat grill to medium high. Place patties on the grill; cook, turning once, until cooked through, approx 4 min each side. Serve on toasted rolls topped with avocado salsa and queso fresco.
  4. For the avocado salsa:
  5. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; stir gently without smashing. Salsa should be chunky.
 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post provided by Avocados from Mexico and Latina Bloggers Connect.  As always, all opinions, ideas, and stories stated here are clearly my own.

Join Bobby Flay and Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight

So I’m curious…how many of my readers watch the Food Network?  Stupid question, right?!?!  I LOVE watching the Food Network…and Bobby Flay!  That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about Bobby Flay teaming up with Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight.  It’s really amazing.

Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight’s mission is to spread the issue of healthy living and healthy eating.
(Yes, that means exercise and vegetables. LOL)  Their website even has a ton of healthy recipes to browse through and try.  I found a recipe for Five Spice Turkey Lettuce Wraps that I’m dying to make…the spicier the better for me!  Yum, yum.

Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight has also partnered with SheSpeaks to host a Twitter Party to swap healthy, tasty recipes on Thursday, September 15th at 8pm EST.  Follow @shespeaksup on Twitter and use the hashtag #SSFoodFight to join in on the fun.  Hope to tweet with ya tomorrow!

To learn more about Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight, please visit their website at http://healthyfoodfight.com.  You can also click the image below to be directed to the site.

Adventures in Cooking: Spanish Dish Take One

Many of you may not know, but I am ½ Puerto Rican.  My father was born & raised in Patillas, Puerto Rico and I was brought up around an extremely large family – and we love to eat!  I was introduced to the cuisine very early on as my mom was expected to learn how to cook their food (yes, my dad is an old school Puerto Rican so his woman needs to know her way around the kitchen!).  I, on the other hand, never learned.  Only recently have I been venturing out of my comfort zone and trying different dishes.  Rice – I’ve got it down, but the other dishes need some work.

I was given the recipe for Pollo Guisado (Stewed Chicken) from my step-mom, and this is what she gave me verbatim (I’ve taken the liberty to correct some spelling errors.)

Big pot – ½ filled with water.  2 large spoons of sofrito.  ½ can of tomato sauce.  1 envelope of Sazón.  3 medium potatoes cut very small.  Large spoon of minced garlic.  Start boiling.  Then adobar chicken to your taste.  When other ingredients are boiling, add chicken and keep fire on medium for about 45 minutes to an hour or until chicken is tender.  If potatoes dissolve, you can add one or two more cut a little larger.  Serve over rice.

Sounds semi-easy, right?  Hmm…well let me tell you how it went wrong and what I did to correct it.  Just the fact that I’m learning how to substitute is huge, I tell you!

Mishap #1:  Looking for the ingredients in my kitchen, I realized I had NO SOFRITO left!  (Sofrito is the base for most Puerto Rican dishes.  It’s basically just a yummy puree of some vegetables and we use it on everything!  Hence, the reason that I’m all out.)  Luckily my bestest friend in the whole wide world {{insert stupid teenage giggle here}} only lives a two minute drive from me so I immediately called her and asked for some.  Of course she had some made…PHEW!  Crisis averted!

Mishap #2:  It’s pretty hard to gauge what kind of pot you need to have half full of water based on her recipe, so I used the pot I normally boil pasta in.  Yeah – that’s a lot of water.  Guess that pot would’ve been ok if I were making a soup…but I already started, so I just gotta roll with it.

Mishap #3:  Since I used such a big pot – with a whole lot of water – it looked like I was making a soup.  But I remembered that she told me to mash up some of the potatoes to make the stock a little thicker, so I got out my potato masher.  After mashing just about all the potatoes in the pot (and the water still just as thick as before), I figured I had to add some more.  I added 3.  Still runny as soup.  Well, improvise must be my middle name because I figured I’d just add some corn starch.  3 heaping tablespoons later – still runny.  Oh well.

Mishap #4:  The instructions said to cook for 45 minutes to an hour.  Not sure what’s wrong with the fire in my house because mine took TWO HOURS!  WTF?!?!  Needless-to-say, my family was starving at 9pm.

But – I got it done.  Made the rice and even grilled some onions in the oven.  (Hey, I bought the onions to grill outside but the weather’s getting cold again in Chicago.  Didn’t want to waste some perfectly good onions!)  And, you know what – it was GOOD!  Guess I might be getting the hang of this thing a little better than I thought.

I hope to share more of my cooking misadventures with you in the future…there will be plenty, I’m sure.  Shoot me an email if you’d like the whole recipe.  And, if you’re a Latina who really knows her way around the kitchen – PLEASE offer up any suggestions you may have.  THX!

Rotisserie Magic!

So by now you all know that I am NOT the world’s best cook.  Not even close.

I know that.  Hey, I even accept it.

But that doesn’t mean my family is going to starve.  Night after night, I put something on the table.  One of my family’s favorites – TOSTADAS!

Mmm…yummy, right?

Not only do I “make” (I used that term extremely loosely…LOL) awesome tostadas, but it only takes me approximately 10 minutes – start to finish!  Doesn’t get any better than that.

First I start with a good, ‘ole rotisserie chicken and shred it.  (The ones at Costco/Sam’s Club are really tasty.)  Put all the chicken in a bowl.  Then heat up some refried beans and set out your toppings – lettuce, diced tomato, sour cream, shredded cheese, perhaps some salsa.  And…viola!  Dinner is served!

 Cheating, you say?  Totally.  But bellies are full and there are smiles on their faces.

 Best of all – the leftover chicken can be used to make, well…a whole lot.

 Add to soup – chicken sandwiches – quesadillas – tacos – add to a pasta dish.

 The possibilities are endless.

 So, I’m curious…do you do the same?  Or am I the only “cheater” amongst us?

I wrote this post for Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop in response to Prompt #5: Watcha’ cookin?  Share a recipe.  This is a recipe, right?
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