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Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles

Last night was Mardi Gras and we most definitely had a hankering for some jambalaya (us and well… every other American it seems). I have to say that in the past my experience with jambalaya has mostly consisted of a box mix which is full of lots of preservatives, salt, added calories and usually empty promises. We’ve had quite a bit of rice lately so I thought I would try out my own recipe this time and pour it over a helping of egg noodles as I have a few bags of this stashed around the kitchen and it was begging to be eaten.

This dish actually turned out much better than I anticipated. After I thumbed through my notes of what I used, I also figured it was pretty low calorie. The worst part of this dish is the egg noodles which you can definitely sub for something with less calories or just eat it without any added carbs. A cup of cooked egg noodles is about 220 calories, the jambalaya (shrimp, veggies, sauce) was probably under 100 calories, I figure (with my best google attempt). That means that a pretty large serving is still hovering under 350 calories. Not bad I’d say, not bad. The spice level was a perfectly balanced medium and not too spicy, although you can sure add more spice if you’d like. My hubs shies away from the spicy hot dishes, while I gobble them up, so I usually err on the side of less is more when more people that just myself are eating.

You will notice that I added cauliflower to this recipe. I certainly know that it isn’t an ingredient that usually makes an appearance in this dish, however I had it to use up and took my liberties to do so. This is a great dish to add any other random veggies you have lying around as the cajun spice mix will likely make it taste very good and you won’t notice you are eating veggies (if that is a difficult thing for you).

And on with the recipe! Enjoy!

Servings: 4

Ingredients

12 oz. package of egg noodles
Water
1 lb. wild uncooked Shrimp, de-veined and tails removed (Medium to extra-large in size)
1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 crown cauliflower broken into small florets
1 cup bell peppers sliced (red, yellow, and green)
1/2 large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup broth (I used chicken broth)
Cajun Spice Mix (See recipe below)

Cajun Spice Mix

1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt (this is critical, DO NOT whatever you do use table salt or sea salt. Only Kosher or it will turn out too salty)
2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tb. paprika
1 Tb. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (this will result in medium spice, adjust according to preference)
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine these seasonings in a bowl and mix until combined. This recipe will create more than you will need for the whole recipe, but I suggest putting in an airtight container to use later in other cajun inspired dishes (chicken, fish, shrimp, veggies.. etc.)

Steps for making Jambalaya

1. Make the cajun spice mix according to recipe above. Set aside. Have all other ingredients prepped.

2. Fill a pot with water, sprinkle with kosher salt, and put on the stove on High heat. Bring to a boil. Drop the noodles into the water and set timer (according to package directions).

3. Put shrimp in a bowl and stir in enough cajun spice mix to cover the shrimp. Set aside.

4.  Put a saute pan on the stove, pour in 1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil and heat oil on Medium-High heat.

5. Add chopped garlic, onion, bell peppers and cauliflower to pan and cook for a few minutes until the veggies get nice and seared, leaving then with some brown edges.

6. Sprinkle a bit of the reserved cajun seasoning mix onto the veggies (a couple tsp. is sufficient) and stir to coat.

7. Add the seasoned shrimp to the pan. Cook the mixture until shrimp is half cooked.

8. Add the broth and chopped roma tomatoes to pan. Stir mixture together. Drop the heat down to medium and cook for a few minutes so that some of the liquid reduces.

9. Drain noodles when they are done (according to package directions).

10. Place a scoop of noodles on a plate and cover with jambalaya mixture. Pat yourself on the back, and enjoy!

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Mediterranean Pesto Chicken Sausage and Quinoa (Gluten Free)

I don’t eat exclusively gluten free, but I have dabbled for periods in the past and are often subject to these dishes when dining with family and friends with the sensitivity. Most gluten free recipes are pretty healthful in and of themselves, so I try to incorporate gluten free recipes into my repertoire every now and again. This was a good meal for getting some of my half eaten veggies and canned peppers and olives used up in the fridge, not to mention the half used pesto container from the night before’s homemade pizza (but I really would advocate for making some fresh pesto if you have the ingredients and a few extra minutes, as it’s more flavorful and comes together so quickly in a food processor).

I didn’t intend to make this dish gluten free, but it was a nice little afterthought when I started realizing that all of the foods I was pulling out of the fridge were of the sort. I was actually going to make this dish with noodles or pasta, which would have been delicious too, but I am glad that I chose quinoa as it is so yummy and it’s very healthy for you too, full of protein and fiber. I also love that this dish doesn’t ‘taste’ gluten free, so nothing about it makes you think you are missing out. This meal was delicious so I deemed it blog worthy (as did my husband – although he has to say that, right?). Not only is this yummy it’s also pretty healthy (with a few substitutions that I will note, you can cut more calories if you want), it cooks very quickly and even a novice cook can get this right on the first shot.

This is one of those recipes that you can eye-ball (except for cooking the quinoa) so put away your measuring cups and just start cooking 😉

I made this recipe for 4. There was enough for 2 of us for dinner and then enough for leftovers/lunch the next day.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (will make about 3 cups cooked quinoa)
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 Tb. of extra virgin olive oil
1 package of fully cooked chicken sausage in casings, sliced into medallions (I used Al Fresco brand sun dried tomato chicken sausage, which is gluten free and has no nitrates)
handful of canned pepperoncinis, stem and seeds removed and sliced
1/2 cup greek pitted kalamata olives, halved
A few Tbs. of homemade or store bought pesto (I used about 1/3 of a 6 oz package)
crumbled feta cheese, enough for garnishing each dish
zest from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: dried red chili flakes (I like adding a little spice to my own plate, so I sprinkled a little of this on my own)

Instructions

1. Rinse the quinoa in water and discard rinsing water (A strainer might be helpful here). Add quinoa to saucepan and add in the water or broth. Turn on to high heat. Once it starts boiling put a lid on it and turn it down to a simmer. Keep covered and cook for 15 minutes. Remove quinoa from the heat and allow to sit with the lid on for 5 minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, start preparing the rest of the dish. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan or an enamel coated cast iron pan at medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and cauliflower. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to get golden colored.

3. You might want to add another Tb. of olive oil if your veggies sucked up all the oil. Add your fully cooked chicken sausage medallions and cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes to give a good sear to the sausage.

4. Turn off heat and stir in the pepperoncinis, kalamata olives and pesto sauce.

5. Open lid of quinoa and fluff with a fork. Dish the quinoa onto plates first, top with the sausage and veggie mixture.

6. Top with a shake of crumbled feta and some fresh lemon zest

Cutting Calories? Consider omitting the pesto sauce and add some fresh chopped basil leaves at the end.

If you are using this recipe and sensitive or allergic to gluten, please verify each individual product label you use for this dish is free of gluten.

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Let me know how you like it 😀

Thai Meatloaf with Peanut Sauce & Crispy Garlic Green Beans

At this point you have read the title of the post and already have an opinion of the entree. Meatloaf. You might even be judging it like it did something to you. You probably grew up with some version of it and it elicits strong memories. You might have an aversion to it, or you might delight in the memories of home cookery. Whatever side of the fence you stand on the idea of meatloaf, I propose that you reconsider your stance this one time. This is no ordinary meatloaf. It’s loaded with wonderful bright thai flavors like garlic, ginger, basil, chili, and lime and it’s iced with not ketchup nor tomato sauce, but sweet chili sauce and served with a dose of homemade peanut sauce. The flavors all blend together beautifully and create a super flavorful dish that your mom’s meatloaf doesn’t even hold a candle to (too much? I’m willing to bet…).

I just created this dish for the first time last night, but really it has been a product of obsession in the back of my mind for at least the last couple months. For some reason I just hadn’t gotten around to making it. Oh… and there was this time period where we were eating mostly vegetarian, so a loaf of meat doesn’t really fit in with that.

I knew that the base should include a mix of meats, as the best meatloaf (and for that matter, meatballs as well) come from adding some ground pork into the mix. I guess I just ruined this post for all my Kosher readers. I do a lot of thai cooking at home… many stir fries, noodle dishes and curries and always have a stockpile of asian cooking supplies in my kitchen. It also happens that we live in Seattle and are fortunate to have an abundance of asian cooking stores nearby that we can purchase the ingredients quite inexpensively. So really I have no excuse to not have cooked this sooner. It turned out even better than I had planned, and even as I am writing this a day later, I am one word closer to drooling all over my keyboard thinking about the leftovers that I GET to eat 😀 .

I really hope you enjoy it too, and if you do try it out, please leave a comment and let me know what you liked, or didn’t or any substitutions you made.

Thai Meatloaf

Servings: 4-6 people

3/4 lb. ground turkey
3/4 lb. ground pork
2 eggs
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (could substitute regular breadcrumbs)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
zest of 1 lime
2 Tb. soy sauce
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil (thai basil is preferred)
1 Tb. grill seasoning (I used a mix that I think was Montreal steak seasoning)
1 tsp. red chili flakes (Medium spiciness, level 3 at a thai restaurant – adjust accordingly)
1 Tb. green curry paste (this is optional, but I had it, so I used it)
Sweet Chili Sauce (I used probably about 1/2 cup, but enough to cover the top of the meatloaf)

Instructions:

  • Heat oven to 375°
  • I placed a foil lined pan below to catch any drippings from the sauce.
  • Combine all ingredients except the sweet chili sauce in a bowl and mash together with your hands until all ingredients have been properly distributed throughout the meat
  • I checked my seasonings at this point by taking a tablespoon of the meat mixture out and cooking in a pan with a little oil. My seasonings were to my liking, but if they aren’t for you, tweak the seasonings above.
  • Put all of meat mixture into an oiled loaf pan. I used sesame oil because I had it, but you can use any type of oil you have. Spread out the meat and press into the pan so that it is even on the top.
  • Pour the sweet chili sauce over the meat so that it covers it
  • Place into oven on the rack above the foil lined pan you placed below. If I had opted for a larger loaf pan, I probably wouldn’t have needed the foil lined pan.
  • Cook meatloaf to an internal temperature of 165°. This took about 1 hour and 15 minutes for ours to cook.
  • Enjoy!

Thai Peanut Sauce

I make my Thai peanut sauce using the ratios below. If you have more than 2-3 people eating, you will want to double or triple the recipe below.

1 rounded Tb. of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, but make to use a natural kind like Adam’s)
1 Tb. soy sauce
1/3 cup sweet chili sauce

Warm up the peanut butter in a bowl in the microwave until it is just softened. Add the soy sauce and sweet chili sauce and mix until combined. Serve with the meatloaf.

Crispy Garlic Green Beans

Ingredients:

Green beans, 1 lb. (I used whole frozen green beans)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (but really, the more the better)
kosher salt
1 Tb. peanut oil (or another oil with a high smoking point)

Slice up your garlic.
Pour the oil into a pan and heat it on medium-high heat.
Add the garlic into the oil. Saute until they start to turn a little brown.
Add green beans and saute until cooked through. Season with kosher salt to taste.

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Whiskey Caramel Cinnamon Rolls with Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

whiskey. caramel. carbs. What else do you need?

This dessert… or breakfast… or snack (it’s ok, I won’t judge you even if you eat it for dinner) was inspired first by my love for a good bread pudding. I love me some bread pudding with yummy, warm and gooey whiskey carmel sauce. If it’s on the menu at a restaurant I have probably had it. I’d venture to say that there is few things better in this world. A few weeks ago I also had one fierce craving for cinnamon rolls, but I didn’t dare indulge my craving unless I was going to have a decent cinnamon roll at best (I could have fallen hard for even one of those mall cinnamon rolls.. yep you know the one). On a recent trip to the liquor store with my hubby, I got a mini bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. I had never tried it, but after rave reviews from friends and my hubs, I thought I better try it. But did I drink it? No. I made the best cinnamon rolls with it.

I must confess that I am not much of a baker. I tend to steer towards cooking as it inherently more creative and allows for more trial and error than baking does. But I do love a good challenge and up until this post I had never made my own homemade cinnamon rolls. I relied on a heavy dose of Alton Brown for the dough recipe and altered a whiskey caramel sauce recipe with the Fireball Cinnamon Whisky – so I can’t take complete credit for it, however, I have yet to find this recipe anywhere else. I learned a lot about baking for this post and if it wasn’t for a dear friend who held my hand (through the phone) and held back my tears as the dough nearly didn’t rise, this may not have become a success.

I am now hooked on making homemade cinnamon rolls and have a few new ideas up my sleeve for next time. Enjoy!

You can watch the video here to prepare the dough: Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

Dough (courtesy of Alton Brown from Food Network):

  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg, room temperature
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
  • 6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
  • 20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
  • 1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Filling:

  • 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

Note: I mixed up this recipe by adding a few dashes of vanilla over the sugar mixture and I chose to add chopped walnuts on half of the dough after I rolled it out (to see if we liked it better with or without nuts). Perhaps next time I make this I will experiment with a lil’ orange zest.

Directions

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Caramel Sauce: 

  • 1/4 cup of butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
  • 6 Tbsp heavy cream

Combine the first four ingredients in a sauce pan and boil for 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat, stir in the cream.
Drizzle Drench rolls in this delicious sauce and enjoy.

Note: This sauce will make enough for about 6 of the rolls. It is so good you will want to double the sauce recipe above so you have enough for all of the rolls. Since there is just 2 of us in our house and the sauce is made so quickly, I chose to make the sauce two different times (the first night we had it for dessert and the next night we finished them up).

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