Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chop chop!

   Yep, pork chops again! First, because they are delicious, second, because you can't eat chicken all the time, and third, because they are on sale very often. And I do not miss a good sale, no matter what it is, if I can get it for less money, I'm on it! I usually have a menu planed before I go to the grocery store, but if I see something on sale, which I didn't plan on... I'm changing everything around. The more money I save on food... the more perfumes I can buy! To keep things exciting, I always try to come up with different flavor combinations and different side dishes, so we won't get bored with it. This time I came up with very clean and simple dish with only a few ingredients, but lots of flavor. Check out this mint and thyme pork chops with apples. Here is the recipe:

*  4 medium cut pork chops
*  1 large onion (sliced)
*  1 large apple (quartered and sliced)
*  1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
*  1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme
*  1 cup chicken broth
*  2 tbsp vegetable oil
*  salt and pepper

1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides
2. In a dutch oven heat the oil and brown the chops on both sides. Cover with sliced onion, apple, and herbs, add a chicken broth and bring to a boil.
3. Cover the dish with a lid and bake everything in 350F for about 90 minutes.

   It's a very tender and very aromatic dish. When you open the lid the smell of mint and thyme transfers into the entire kitchen and makes you even more hungry than before! The apples and onions soften and make a great sauce that doesn't need any cream or butter. Serve it with some mashed potatoes and a fresh salad and you have a great and satisfying dish!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle... yeah!!!

   Summer is definitely here! It's so hot outside and all you want to do is relax in a cool place with either a cold cocktail or a bowl of ice cream in your hand! Well, that can be dangerous... too many cocktails can give you a headache, and too many ice cream bowls can give you wide hips! Both are not good, especially during the summer. But don't worry I got you covered. Skip the ice cream (easier said than done!) and substitute them with delicious, fruity, and cold jello. If you think that's jello is not exciting and not worthy of your attention, wait until you see how pretty it can be if you are willing to give it some time. It's not much work and most of it's just waiting for each layer to set, but you end up with super cute and super healthy (70 calories each!!!) desserts. It doesn't get any better than that! Here is what you do to get four desserts:

*  3 sugar-free jellos (red, yellow, and green)
*  1 cup blueberries
*  1/2 sliced mango
*  lime zest

1. Prepare first jello according to the box instructions. Divide into four and pour into glasses. Add 1/4 cup of blueberries to each of them and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours until the jello sets.
2. Prepare the second jello, cool a little and pour onto the previous, set layer. Add slices of mango and refrigerate for another 1-2 hours.
3. Prepare the third jello, cool down, pour over previous two layers, add some lime zest, refrigerate until it sets, and it's ready to enjoy.

   You can use any flavor/color/fruit you want to, I just happened to have blueberries and mango on hand. Try to avoid kiwi and pineapple, because their enzymes interfere with the jello and it won't set properly. If you want something that tastes great and is not a diet buster this is your thing. It's such a guilt-free and calorie-free desert that all you can say after eating it is: "...look at this body... I'm sexy and I know it!"


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quick fixin!

   I think it's time for one of my famous super quick dinners that take less than 5 minutes to make, but are filling and delicious. Perfect for the middle of the week, when you get home late from work and you don't really feel like whipping up home made ravioli with four home made cheeses in it! So, the star of today's episode is a pita bread pocket stuffed with herby, crunchy, and delicious tuna "concoction" (sounds much better than a tuna salad).  I think the pita sandwiches (sandwiches in general) are Justin's favorite, not only because they are quick and easy, but also because there is not too many dishes left to clean! And since he is the one who cleans all the pots, pans, plates and millions of used utensils, he always encourages me to make "something easy", especially when we both had a busy day. So here you go, this is a super easy recipe for a crunchy tuna salad inside of a pita bread:

*  2 cans tuna in water
*  1/2 cup fat-free mayo
*  1 cup sweet relish
*  1/2 cup chopped radishes
*  2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
*  2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
*  salt and pepper

*  4-6 pitas

1. Mix all the ingredients (besides the pitas!) in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cut pita bread in half and stuff each half with a generous spoon of tuna filling.
3. Decorate the pockets with lettuce and radishes and it's ready to eat.

   If you don't have radishes, or if you are not the fan of them you can substitute them with chopped celery stalks. Just make sure you have something crunchy inside, it makes the dish much more "exciting". Relish makes the salad a little bit sweet and dill gives it a summery kick! I usually slice some more radishes and eat them on a side as I would potato chips... it's much healthier and much prettier.

Good luck.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Accidentally in love.

   Let me explain the title of this post. "Accidentally" - this post wasn't planned and the dish wasn't supposed to be photographed or featured on the blog. "In love" - this totally improvised chicken dish turned out to be so delicious and amazing that I felt in love immediately and would never keep it away from you. I came home from work planning to make a salad for dinner, but the day was so long and crazy that last thing I wanted to do is to eat like a goat. I needed some warm, comforty, and meaty dish that would make the world a better place. So I fired up the stove and started tossing in all of my favorite ingredients hoping that the outcome would at least be edible, but what I got exceeded all of my expectations! All I remember is me tasting the dish every five seconds, yelling how effing good it was, and telling Justin to bring my camera because it had to be documented and talked about. So here I present you with coconut/peanut butter/cilantro chicken served with couscous. Here is the recipe:

*  1 chicken breast (cubed)
*  1 can coconut milk
*  1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
*  1 large onion
*  1 tbsp grated ginger
*  1 cup chopped cilantro
*  lime juice (from 2 limes)
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  1 tsp sesame oil
*  salt

1. In a skillet, heat olive oil and sesame oil, add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add ginger and cubed chicken, season with salt and cook for 5-6 minutes until chicken is no longer pink, then add lime juice and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
3. In a bowl, whisk together coconut milk and peanut butter until combined, add it to chicken together with cilantro and cook everything for about 10 more minutes.
4. Serve it over couscous and you will be in heaven.

   Such a delicious dish. Sesame oil and peanut butter are super naughty, coconut  milk is sweet and silky, and cilantro finishes everything with a punch of exotic flavor. Super recommended dish!

Good luck.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This is how we do it!

   For those of you who think that there is nothing more boring and unattractive than potatoes and that you can't serve them at a fancy dinner, you couldn't be more mistaken. I love to experiment and try new things as a side dish, especially when I have a company over, but lets be honest, there is nothing better than a bowl of hot buttery potatoes sprinkled with fresh dill. Justin can tell you that it doesn't get any more Polish than that. Everywhere you go there are potatoes, you just can't escape them in Poland. So if you want to impress your friends with transforming such an ordinary ingredient into an extraordinary side dish, follow me. There is nothing cooler than a combination of small, colorful potatoes that look like a piece of art on the plate. You couldn't need fewer ingredients than that:

*  2 pounds of small colorful potatoes (yellow, red, and purple)
*  1 tbsp butter (melted)
*  2 tbsp fresh chopped dill
*  salt

1. Wash and gently scrub the potatoes, don't peel.
2. Boil potatoes in salty water for about 15-20 minutes, until they are fork tender.
3. Drain them, add butter and fresh dill, toss everything together and look how cute they are:

   OK! For all of you that see what I see... this was not my intention! By the time I realized how my "neat" presentation looks like, we already ate all the potatoes and there was no way I could retake the picture... so just look past that, if that's possible. I personally can't stop laughing. BUT, despite the unfortunate layout, the potatoes are super delicious. The touch of butter makes everything taste much better and the dill adds this incredible "Polish" aroma.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Ballsy Dinner!

   Looking at the title (Ballsy dinner) you probably think we ate some crazy things, like grilled lizards or stuffed roasted spiders, but it's nothing like that! How about balls of meat stuffed with balls of cheese? What can be more ballsy than that? Lizards don't even come close, although that's something to think about for the future! And if you think that meatballs are nothing special and not good enough, wait until you try them with the sweet and sour pineapple sauce I made! There is nothing better than that! Here is the recipe for about 15 meatballs:


*  2 lbs ground lean chicken
*  2 cloves garlic (smashed)
*  seasoned salt
*  2 tbsp fresh mint (chopped)
*  1/3 cup breadcrumbs
*  15 bocconcini (small mozzarella cheese balls)

1. Combine the meat with breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and mint. Mix everything together.
2. To form each ball, take a handful of meat and wrap it around a piece of mozzarella. Coat balls gently with some olive oil, arrange on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and evenly browned.


*  1 can (20oz) sliced pineapple
*  1 small onion (chopped)
*  1 tsp ketchup
*  1 tbsp soy sauce
*  1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
*  1 tbsp light brown sugar
*  1 tbsp fresh mint
*  1 tsp fresh thyme
*  black pepper

1. Puree half of the pineapple and finely chop the other half.
2. In a pan, combine all the ingredients together with a pineapple juice and 1 cup of water. Cook everything for  10-15 minutes until sauce thickens. Simple, isn't it?

   The cheese inside is gooey, chewy, and super delicious. The mint is fresh and summery and the sauce... man, that sauce is just amazing. Sweet, sour, tangy, and a little bit spicy from the pepper. You can serve the meatballs with pasta if you want, but they are so rich that I just decided to serve them with some salad.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer bake.

   Today's post will be about one of my favorite types of food: casseroles. Not only they are super easy, can be made out of any ingredient available in your fridge and pantry, but also they are perfect for a busy week, because you make them once and eat them for a few days. Oh, and for me they are super comforty too... and that's important! This time I used a lot of veggies and some turkey, but don't worry, just so you don't think that it's way too healthy for you, I soaked them in delicious and rich white sauce (made with fat-free milk so we don't clog our arteries). The key to this dish is to use tones of herbs. First, because it's summer and it's the right think to do, and second, because they make the dish taste like heaven! Here is the recipe:

*  4 large potatoes
*  4 baby zucchinis
*  4 tomatoes
*  1 lb ground turkey
*  1 large onion (chopped)
*  4 tbsp flour
*  2 cups fat-free milk
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  1 cup chopped herbs (parsley, mint, basil)
*  salt and pepper
*  pinch of nutmeg

1.  Using a mandoline slicer, thinly slice potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. I like the slices to be not too thin, so they have some bite to them.
2. Saute chopped onion and turkey with olive oil, salt, and pepper. When meat is cooked add flour, cook for 1-2 minutes then add milk and nutmeg, mix well, and cook everything for 4-5 minutes until sauce thickens. If the sauce is too thick you can dilute it with more milk or water.
3. In a large, deep, greased baking dish layer potatoes, zucchini, meat, herbs, and tomatoes. Repeat the same layers once again lightly salting each layer. On the very top layer slices of potatoes, spray with cooking spray, salt, and pepper.
4. Cover with foil and to prevent sticking, spray foil with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes covered with foil, then remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes to brown the top. 

   It's kind of like a pasta-less lasagna. The veggies are super tender,the meat is very saucy, and the herbs are super fragrant. You can easily get 6-8 portions out of the recipe (depending on how hungry you are).

   You can probably replace the white sauce with marinara, but it just so happens I am a big fan of bechamel based sauces, so that's what I made. And to all my vegetarian friends, you know the drill... leave the meat out, and you got yourself a delicious dinner as well. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seafood junkie!

   I love seafood. All kinds of fish, shrimp, muscles (love, love muscles), scallops, octopus.... not enough space to mention all the delicious creatures living in the sea that I love! If I have an option in a restaurant, I order seafood. I always have some in the freezer in case of emergency cravings and if we get Chinese take out... you guessed, it's usually shrimp for me! If you are not crazy about shrimp or fish come over to my house and I will make you change your mind. If you don't want to come over, I will show you how to make the best shrimp pasta ever. The rule of a thumb is to have butter, white wine, garlic, and herbs. Add a little bit of lemon juice and you have a simple and delicious dish. Here is the recipe that makes 4 portions:

*  1 lb shrimp (shelled and deveined)
*  1 lb angel hair pasta
*  1 stick of butter (I know, just indulge this one time!)
*  4 cloves of garlic (mashed)
*  1 cup white wine
*  1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
*  1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
*  lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
*  lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
*  salt and pepper

1. Cook pasta to be a little bit al dente.
2. In a meantime in a large skillet melt butter, add mashed garlic, herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cook everything together for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add shrimp, wine, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes until shrimp is cooked (pink and curly). Add cooked pasta, toss everything together and let it cook for 2-3 minutes so the pasta can soak some of the juices.

   Oh, I just noticed I grabbed a chipped wine glass... there goes my perfect picture! Well, but let's focus on the dish. So simple and so incredibly delicious. You can taste the butter, the garlic, and the wine, and then you bite into a juicy tender shrimp. The herbs give the dish an amazing aroma and make it so much better. I am telling you this is the best shrimp dish ever. Trust me, I'm a doctor!!!

Good luck.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Enjoying the summer!

   My garden is going crazy... my dill is 8 foot tall, my basil is wider than me (I know, it's hard to believe), and my favorite baby, mint, is out of control. I kind of make sure it has all the care it needs, because I use it all the time and I need a lot of it. I use it in savory dishes, I use it in deserts, I eat it by itself... but most of all, I make Mojitos!!! I'm crazy about them, I had all the different variations, all the different flavors...and I love them all. Normally when you think about Mojito, you think about mint, rum, and sugar. Well, today I will show you a different version without all the squeezing, crushing, and without rum! Yeah, it's still a Mojito, it's just Vodka Mojito!!! Here is what you need:

*  1 1/2 cups water
*  1 cup white sugar
*  1/2 cup brown sugar
*  2 handfuls of mint
*  1 cup vodka
*  lime juice (from 3 limes)
*  1 1/2 cup club soda (sparkling water)
*  ice

1. Prepare simple syrup: in a small saucepan combine the sugars, water, and mint leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the leaves.
2. In a pitcher combine simple syrup, vodka, lime juice, and club soda. Add few slices of lime and few leaves of fresh mint, pour into ice-filled glasses and enjoy!!!

   How simple, but how delicious is it? There is no better flavor than mint... so fresh, so summery, and so aromatic. If you don't have brown sugar you can use regular sugar, but I like the touch of molasses and the color it gives to the drink. Glass of Mojito, a gossip magazine in my hand (or a laptop in Justin's case), a comfortable reclining chair in the back yard, the dog next to us... is that a perfect summer Sunday or what?


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cheesy Comfy Friday!

   I love Fridays! Not only because it's the beginning of the weekend, but also because it means that we are having rich, delicious, and comforty food for dinner!!! Oh, how I love Friday dinners! So yesterday, half way through my work day, I already started to plan what I'm gonna make that would satisfy my need for comfort. I definitely did not want to go to the store, so it had to be something that could be made out of things I had at home. And that's how we ended up with cheddar and dill scones with a peppery chicken gravy! Here is the recipe for scones:

*  2 cups all-purpose flour
*  1 tbsp baking powder
*  1 tsp salt
*  1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
*  1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
*  1 stick of cold butter cut into pieces
*  2 eggs
*  1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk

1. In a food processor combine flour, baking powder, salt, dill, and butter. Pulse until everything is combined and butter is in a small chunks. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl whisk eggs and buttermilk together and pour it into a flour mixture.
3. Mix everything together until combined and using your hands knead the dough
4. Transfer it onto a flour covered surface and divide it into two equal parts. Roll the dough into 1 inch tall circles and cut them into 6 pieces (like how you would slice pizza). Transfer onto greased baking sheet and bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

   The scones are super fluffy and cheesy... if you want comfort, that's your dish! I am probably going to make them for breakfasts for the entire next week! They are very good on their own and they don't really need anything else, but this time I decided to serve them with a black pepper chicken gravy. Here is the recipe:

*  1 chicken breast (cooked and shredded)
*  1 small onion (chopped)
*  2 tbsp all-purpose flour
*  1 cup fat-free milk
*  1 cup water
*  1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
*  1 tsp black pepper
*  1/4 cup chopped parsley
*  salt
*  olive oil

1. Saute onions with olive oil, add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper, mix everything together and cook for 5 minutes until thickens.
2. Add shredded chicken and parsley, pour over the scone, and it's ready to enjoy!

   It's kind of like biscuits and gravy. The thing is that I'm not really crazy about biscuits, but I love scones (go figure!), so I definitely enjoyed that dish! If you don't like gravy, don't worry... just try the scones, they are awesome.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shroomy tart!

   Man, who would have thought that this week will be so busy... well, actually I knew exactly how busy it would be... this one and all that follow. But craziness at work, long days, and late "home comings" will not stop me from cooking, photographing, and posting, so don't you worry! It may delay some stuff, maybe make some things a little "simpler", but definitely won't stop me from doing it. So today I made something mushroomy, herby and oniony (I don't understand why all those three words got highlighted as a mistake? Somebody is trying to tell me they don't exist?). Well they do exist in my dictionary! Here is the recipe for a caramelized red onions and mushroom tart:


*  1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
*  1/2 tsp salt
*  1 tsp sugar
*  3 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
*  1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese
*  3 tbsp ice water
*  1/3 cup chopped parsley
*  2-3 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary


*  3 red onions, thinly sliced
*  1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
*  2 cups chopped mushroom
*  salt and pepper
*  olive oil

1. In a food processor combine the flour, herbs, salt, and sugar. Pulse to combine.
2. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is finely chopped and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the cheese and the ice water and run the machine just until the mixture is moist and crumbly, but does not form a ball. Do not over mix. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Roll the crust and transfer into a greased tart dish.
4. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add sliced onions, Worcestershire sauce, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 15-20 minutes until onions are caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside.
5. Into the same pan add chopped mushroom, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5-6 minutes.
6. Cover the crust with layer on caramelized onions, top with mushroom and bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes.

   It may sound impossible but the tart is super rich and super light at the same time. To make it even lighter and healthier, I usually serve it with a side of greens (mostly to silence my guilt). I'm sure all my vegetarian (and not only) friends would love it.

Good luck.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sushi Sous Chef!

   Let me tell you a story about my husband, or actually a story about how awesome my mother-in-law is. Once upon a time, when my husband was a young and wild bachelor, his mom told him that he has to learn how to make at least one "real" dish, so he can cook it for his future wife (God bless her heart for that!). She took him to the Sur La Table (a kitchen store) and told him that she is not leaving until he chooses all necessary items to make something from the scratch. How lucky am I that he chose a sushi kit? She got him books, a bamboo rolling mat, spoons, sushi molds... you name it, he got it! And from that moment sushi became his signature dish. First time he made it for me (a couple of weeks after we met) I was so impressed that I was ready to marry him there and then (but don't tell him that!). So every time we have home made sushi, I take my executive chef hat off, hand it to Justin, and become a sous chef for the night! You can put any combination of fish and veggies inside of the rolls, but this is what we did this time:

*  2 cups sushi rice
*  3-4 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
*  pinch of salt
*  10 sheets seaweed
*  smoked salmon
*  cucumber
*  avocado
*  fat-free cream cheese
*  crab legs

For serving:
*  soy sauce
*  wasabi paste
*  pickled ginger

1. Using a rice cooker, cook the rice according to the instructions. Pour rice vinegar over cooked rice, mix together, and let it cool.
2. Place one sheet of seaweed on a bamboo rolling mat, cover the seaweed with prepared sushi rice (don't stuff too much on) and leave an inch of the seaweed bare at the top.
3. Cut fish and veggies into long, thin pieces and place ingredients length-ways in the center of the rice (use any combination you like, make it your own creation)
4. Using the mat, roll the rice around the filling and press lightly to seal. Cut into small pieces and serve with wasabi, ginger, soy sauce, and some beer!

   We love sushi and we could probably eat it all the time. It's not easy, it's not quick either, but it's so worth it. Unfortunately, I can't take any credit for it! All I did is cut the ingredients and took the pictures, everything else was done by my top chef  husband!

Good luck.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Yummy yams.

   Who doesn't like potato chips? I very rarely eat them, but it doesn't mean I don't like them, it's just because it's not worth all the calories and the guilt that follows. I am a salty-snack-kind-of-girl, so I knew I better come up with a healthy version of it if I don't want to pay a fortune for the angioplasty! So I did. Not only did I switch the cooking method (baking rather than frying), but I also used yams instead of regular potatoes. They are much tastier, prettier, and better for you. Try it for yourself.

*  2 yams
*  cooking spray
*  finely chopped rosemary
*  cumin
*  salt

1. Wash unpeeled yams and pat them dry
2. Using a mandoline slicer cut yams into very thin slices, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, spray with a cooking spray, sprinkle with rosemary, cumin, and salt
3. Bake at 380F for 15-20 minutes until crisp

   They are definitely different than the store bought chips, maybe not as crunchy, but much more flavorful and healthier. The sweetness of the yams goes great with the warmth of cumin and fragrant piney rosemary. The perfect snack for a marathon of your favorite TV show!

Have fun.