Monday, November 29, 2010

Gnocchi with Onion Cream Sauce

I got a bottle of Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette as a gift yesterday. I didn't want it to just be used on salad, so I though it just might make a great pasta sauce. When I first typed Onion Cream Sauce I deleted it and tried to think of a better name because it sounds nasty. But that's what it is! And it's not nasty it's delicious. So I'm going to leave it at that and not worry about how it sounds. The gnocchi could easily stand alone as an entree but I served it as a side dish to a pan fried steak and roasted parmesan broccoli. So good! Enjoy!

Onion Cream Sauce
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 1/2 tsp of minced garlic
4 Tbsp Onion Vinaigrette (or other thick dressing)

Mix ingredients to combine and refrigerate unless using immediately. Boil gnocchi and serve with heated sauce. I heated the sauce in the same pan used to cook the steaks. It gives the sauce a deeper, and in my case buttery flavor. Top the gnocchi with parmesan cheese. Eat it on it's own or make it a side dish, enjoy!

My Momma's Sausage Dip

Sadly I don't have a picture of this, as soon as I get one I'll put it up. My mom has made this for as long as I can remember. And it's a family favorite. Sounds strange at first sausge-dip. And yesterday when I served it at our housewarming party most people assumed it was chili. While it's not chili it's equally delicious. Once you try it you'll be hooked! This stuff is killer! Extremely simple and not many ingredients. It's a go to for any get together and can be made in giant batches to feed an army of guests. Serve with tortilla chips or dish out a heaping serving like my brother does and eat it with a spoon!

1 package of good sausage (I like Jimmy Dean)
2 packages of cream cheese
1-2 cans of Rotel (most grocery stores carry this, it's diced tomatoes and green chile)

Brown the sausage in a large skillet. Once sausage is cooked through add cream cheese on lower heat and melt. Once the cream cheese melts add a can of Rotel, if it's too thick add another can of rotel. Incorporate and keep on low heat or transfer to a crock pot to keep warm. YUM!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Paula Deen's Lady and Sons

Savannah is one of my favorite cities, and since we live less than three hours away, my husband and I travel there quite often. That also means that whenever we have company we take them down there. This week my family—mom, dad, and grandma—is visiting Georgia for Thanksgiving, so a drive down to Savannah was definitely in order.

Not only is Savannah absolutely gorgeous, but there is great history around every corner. And the food...oh, the food. It's so lip-smacking delicious that you almost wish your stomach never got full. Fresh fish, an open container policy where you can drink on the streets of Savannah, and yummy desserts await your taste buds.

When I asked my family if they wanted to visit Savannah  I could practically hear them jump up and down as they shouted, "YES!" over the phone. Then, the second thing they asked was if we could dine at Paula Deen's famous restaurant, Lady and Sons.

This summer I ate at Lady and Sons with my best friend, but we kind of cheated the system. The "rules" for eating there consist of this: There are no reservations. Instead, you have to stand in a line with other food lovers at 9:30 am and get your name on a list with a time to come back later in the day. But here's an insider's tip: If there are just a couple of you, skip the line and head over to the hostess' station in the afternoon for a late lunch or an early dinner and ask to sit at the bar. Sometimes they have openings at the bar and will let you waltz right on up there. This trick doesn't work every time, but if it does, you'll be feasting your teeth on fried and buttered food in no time.

Anyway, back to our trip this weekend. My husband and I showed up around 8:30 am (an hour before they start taking reservations) and were 20th in line. Not too shabby for it being the "off season." We put our name on the list for 1:30 pm and were told to show up just a tad before then to check in. We had just enough time to take a wonderful trolley tour of Savannah. I highly recommend taking this tour if your a first-timer to the city.

When we came back for our allotted lunch time, they wouldn't seat us until the whole party was present (my husband and I were parking the car...), but once we were all there we had an incredibly friendly waitress who explained that we could either order off the menu or opt for the buffet. Four of us had the buffet and my grandma ordered the "Poet's Lunch," a sandwich and cup of soup.

Before we even had drinks on our table, we were presented with a hoe cake—very similar to a pancake, but made with cornmeal—and a cheesy, garlicky roll—think Red Lobster style, only 10 times better. The majority of our group ordered the Southern favorite, sweet tea, that came with a sprig of mint.

 Then it was on to the buffet.

This is my second helping of food—hey, you only eat at Paula Deen's restaurant once, right? (Or twice in my case, but let's pretend it was just this once.) I should also mention that I did eat a plate of salad, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Their ranch dressing was pretty tasty, and their homemade croutons were crunchy and perfectly seasoned.

The fried chicken was moist, crunchy, not as greasy as I thought it'd be, and the baked chicken was less salty and more flavorful than I imagined, too. I heard someone at the next table over claim the fried chicken was, "the best fried chicken I've ever, ever had." I personally don't eat that much fried chicken, so it was good, but I don't know if I can claim that it was the best. It definitely tasted better than a fast-food fried chicken, though.

Next up was macaroni and cheese. This was just okay for me, but I've never been a huge mac and cheese fan. My favorite at Lady and Sons, though, is her collard greens. Oh my, they are phenomenal. I'm sure they're made with a pound of butter and enough salt to kill a man, but I don't really care. I would've had an entire plate full of them. YUM! Eating her collard greens has actually inspired me to attempt making my own.

Next on the plate above was rice, but I actually ended up scooting the rice away and replacing it with lima beans. Yes, lima beans that were also out of this world (and made with more butter and salt). I love how this place makes food that normally isn't a favorite vegetable into something I want to eat all the time.

Speaking of, there were BBQ short ribs on the buffet as well. I know this may sound crazy, but I'm not a huge fan of BBQ. However, this sauce was so tasty that we bought a jar of it in the store next door. I'm really excited use it.

After all this food you'd think I'd be unbuttoning my pants just so I could breathe a little better, but we still weren't finished. Up next was dessert. If you order the buffet, you have your choice of three desserts: Ooey, Gooey Butter Cake, Peach Cobbler, or Banana Puddin'. We, of coure, tried them all:

First up, the Gooey Butter Cake is definitely for chocolate lovers. Don't even attempt to eat this if you don't like chocolate. I did and regretted it, because it was so rich. The Peach Cobbler was very "eh" for me, but that could be because I like my husband's version a whole lot more. My favorite from the trip was the Banana Puddin'; it was just a perfect way to top off the meal, because it wasn't too sweet and actually felt a little lighter compared to everything else.

Paula Deen's definitely isn't for everyone. The food is fried, saturated in butter, and sometimes too heavily seasoned with salt, but you're really not going there for a five-star meal; if you're going to eat there you're going because you want to say that you've eaten there. If you do make your way to Savannah and dine with Paula, just remember one thing: leave enough time after your meal for a nap, because you're definitely going to fall into a food coma after devouring all of that food!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mango Avocado Salsa

I made this recipe for the first time two weeks after I got married. I wanted tilapia for dinner (it's healthy) and my husband wanted something that didn't taste like tilapia, so he found this recipe and asked if I'd make it. Up until that point I had never tasted a "salsa" that included fruit as its main ingredient. Tomatoes, yes; mangos and avocados, heck no.

But let me tell you, it was love at first bite and we've made this countless times since. This salsa is creamy, crunch, spicy, sweet, and just a tad bit addicting—fair warning. Cook your tilpia with just a touch of seasoning (we like a dusting of lemon/garlic seasoning) and then pile the salsa on top. And if you have any salsa left over, just go ahead and eat it with a spoon! 
 Mango Avocado Salsa

1 cup avocado, cut in small chunks 
1 cup mango, cut in small chunks 
4 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 roma tomato
5 "deli" jalapenos diced (omit/tweak to taste)
2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of Paprika
Pinch of salt and pepper

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Cover and leave in fridge for at least 30 minutes, so the flavors can all mingle together.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fennel Pork Loin with Apple Cider Gravy

I always pick up a pork loin when I find it on sale and stash it in the freezer until I'm ready to use it. I was really excited to find one hiding in the freezer when I came across a recipe for a roasted pork loin with fennel. And roasted vegetables are a perfect pairing for a cold fall night!

3/4 pound carrots- I used baby carrots already peeled
3 cups broccoli florets
4 small red potatoes- cut like fries
1 medium red onion- cut in wedges
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Rosemary
Olive Oil- to coat pan and baking sheet
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
Pork Tenderloin- 1 1/4 pound
2 Tbsp crushed fennel seeds
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tsp honey
Splash of dry white wine
1/4 cup of water
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet toss carrots, broccoli, potatoes, onion, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp rosemary. Peel 4 cloves of garlic and toss in with veggies. Place in oven to roast while you prepare the pork.

Season the pork with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp rosemary, and coat with fennel seeds. In a large skillet heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium to high heat. Sear the pork turning to brown all sides 6-8 minutes. Transfer the pork onto the baking sheet with the vegetables. At this point if the veggies are about done take them off the baking sheet and put them aside. Roast the pork until cooked through and veggies are tender about 20 minutes (I like my potatoes crispy so I cook them a little longer). If you have a meat thermometer the pork is done when at 160 degree's. Always put the needle in the thickest part of the meat.

While the pork is roasting add cider, honey, wine, and water to skillet over medium heat and whisk to combine. Boil to reduce. If you want a more gravy like sauce add 1-2 Tbsp of flour. Once reduced by 1/2 turn heat to low and add 1 Tbsp butter to finish it off. When the pork is done let it rest outside of the oven for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the pork and veggies!!

Hearty Lasagna

If you're a fan of pasta, meat, tomatoes, lots of cheese, and a perfect blending of flavors, then you need to make this lasagna asap. True to its name, it's extremely filling and so flavorful you'll want to have seconds. I suggest making it in advance—in the morning/afternoon if you want it for dinner—because it only tastes better over time. But don't worry, if you eat it just after the 10-minute cooling mark, it will still taste great.

Hearty Lasagna
 (adapted) from Cooking Light
makes 12 servings (~6 WW points)


  • 12  lasagna noodles
  • 3/4  pound  ground round
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 8 ounces fresh mushroom, chopped or sliced
  • 1/4  cup chopped fresh parsley (or basil), divided
  • 1  (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, and chopped
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1  (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1  (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2  teaspoons  dried oregano
  • 1  teaspoon  dried basil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper
  • 2  cups  nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1  (15-ounce) container nonfat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1  egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2  cups  (8 ounces) shredded Italian provolone cheese
  • Fresh oregano sprigs (optional)



Pre-heat oven to 350°. Cook lasagna noodles for half the amount of time called for. Meanwhile, cook meat and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a large saucepan over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble; drain; set aside. Wipe pan with paper towel. Coat pan with cooking spray; add onion, garlic, and mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes. Return meat to pan. Add 2 tablespoons parsley (or basil) and next 7 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes. Uncover; simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Combine remaining 2 tablespoons parsley (or basil), cottage cheese, and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; stir well; set aside.

Spread 3/4 cup tomato mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over tomato mixture; top with half of cottage cheese mixture, 2 1/4 cups tomato mixture, and 2/3 cup provolone. Repeat layers, ending with noodles; spread remaining tomato mixture over noodles.

Cover; bake at 350° for 1 hour. Sprinkle with remaining provolone; bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with oregano, if desired.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Turkey & Bean Chili

It is down right cold here in Albuquerque (at least for today) and that means it's time for cold weather food! When I woke up this morning and saw the overcast sky and couldn't feel my toes I had to make Chili!! We eat alot of turkey here in the Torres household and I've been really wanting to make chili with ground turkey vs. beef. YUM!

Olive Oil- to coat pan
1/2 onion- diced small
4 cloves of garlic- minced
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Parsley
2 Tbsp Oregano
2 tsp chili powder
3 dashes Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/2 cup Chicken Broth (or water)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 small cans of diced tomatoes (or 1 large can)
1 can kidney beans
1 can navy beans
1 Tbsp corn meal (or flour)
Salt and Pepper- to taste
Low Fat Sour Cream- garnish
Reduced fat cheddar- garnish

This can either be made in a stock pot or in a slow cooker. I had alot of time on my hands today so I used the crock pot. Turn the heat on high and coat the pot with olive oil. Add onion and garlic. Cook until the onions start to carmelize. Add ground turkey. I used taco seasoned turkey, it has alot of the flavors that I want in chili already in the meat! If you can't find seasoned meat you might want to add extra chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Add cumin, oregano, parsley, chili powder, salt and pepper. Once the meat is browned add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, and chicken broth. Bring everything to a boil. Once at a good boil ad
d rinsed beans. At this point if the chili is too thin add corn meal to thicken. Lower the heat and let sit to thicken. I really like it after about 1/2 an hour. This is a fairly low cal dish, and to keep it that way top with low fat sour cream and cheese- ENJOY!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sweet, Spicy, and Citrus Tilapia

I love tilipia. It's low in calories and fat and high in all of those good omega 3 fatty acids. But here's the thing with tilapia: it's boring if not properly seasoned. We're all for healthy eating over here, but it has to be flavorful. So when I saw this recipe in the August issue of Cooking Light I knew we had to try it. Well low and behold, it's now one of our favorite meals!

This is perfect for one of those nights when you really don't know what you want to have for dinner. As long as you have orange juice on hand you can whip this up in no time. Not a fan of spice? Cut back on the red pepper flakes just a bit. It's really the perfect combination of flavors. 

Sweet, Spicy, and Citrus Tilapia 
adapted from Cooking Light magazine

4  (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
1/2  cup  fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
3  tablespoons  fresh lime or lemon juice (I've used bottled juice before, too)
1  tablespoon  brown sugar
1/2  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
2  teaspoons  lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
2  garlic cloves, crushed
1/2  teaspoon  paprika


1. Arrange fish in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Combine orange juice and the next 9 ingredients (through garlic); pour over fish. Let stand 15 minutes.
2. Preheat broiler.
3. Sprinkle fish with paprika; broil 10-15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Drizzle sauce over fish.
Serve with rice or potatoes and a veggie! Enjoy. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zuppa Toscana

The weather in Georgia has been on the warm side lately, but this morning was so chilly I think I really heard autumn knocking on our door, telling us fall had finally arrived. And so I bring you a tasty, cold-weather meal!

A couple months ago my husband and I ate at Olive Garden. He ordered a delicious pasta meal and I choose their soup and salad combo. The second I tasted their Zuppa Tuscana I knew I wanted more, so I told him right then and there that I was going to learn how to make it at home.

I scoured the web for a good recipe and found one that looked almost identical to Olive Garden's version, I tweaked it to make it a little healthier. Not only does this taste better than the restaurant's version (my husband even said so!), but it freezes well. (Note: when you unfreeze it or even take it out of the fridge then next day, the half and half and water separate a little—don't worry! Just nuke it in the microwave for a couple minutes and then mix it all together; it'll be fine, I promise.)

 {Olive Garden's} Zuppa Tuscana
makes around 8 servings (~4 WW points)
adapted from Tuscan Recipes

1 pound ground Italian turkey sausage
1½ tsp crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
5 minced garlic cloves
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup fat-free half and half
1 pound sliced Russet potatoes
2 cups of chopped kale*, stems removed 

Sauté Italian turkey sausage and crushed red pepper in large pot. Drain excess fat; refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients. In same pan, sauté bacon, onions, and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until onions are soft. Add chicken bouillon and water to pot; heat until it starts to boil. Add sliced potatoes; cook until soft—about 30 minutes. Add fat-free half and half; cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in sausage and kale; heat thoroughly. 
Enjoy :) 

A Tale of Amanda

Jess being the wonderful writer she is did a fabulous job of introducing herself. And despite my want to just hide behind my recipes I feel I owe it to the blogging world to write a bit about myself. I am also extremely excited to be apart of this blog. I wouldn't do something like this on my own, so I am very grateful to Jessica for getting this all going.

I've been experimenting in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. With my American Girl Cookbook in hand you could find me every Saturday morning mixing up breakfast in bed for my parents. More than half of the time it was terrible. My parents suffered through burnt pancake after burnt pancake. My family to this day still gives me a hard time for the cloud of smoke I whipped up every weekend. I finally got the hang of it somewhere around middle school, and it's a passion I will never give up.

I loved having a reason to make "special" dinners. This usually meant hours in my mothers kitchen and a tornado of smells and tastes covering the countertops and stove. When I met my husband I started turning out the food more than ever. There is nothing I love more than cooking for a sweet man who loves my food. My dad was always happy when Chris came for dinner because that meant something extreme! At the time I was in culinary school here in NM. Although I didn't finish the program I really learned alot from it. I started a cake business with the help of my husband in 2008. However I love to cook just as much as I bake.

I struggle to follow recipes, I always end up putting it aside and improvising. I love to experiment and try new foods. I really enjoy a good challenge, spending days sometimes weeks to perfect something. I like adapting old family recipes and finding new things online. Well enough about me and on to the FOOD!

A Tale of Jessica

I am so excited to start this blog with my sister-in-law, not to mention I'm really happy to have a place to share recipes we've been trying over here. My first several posts will be recipes I've posted on my personal blog and then I'll start adding new ones.

But before I start posting recipes I figured you may like to know a little more about me. When I was younger I never really cooked or baked. I would much rather take a nap instead. When I would attempt to create something in the kitchen it would typically come out horribly wrong (like putting salt in place of sugar in sugar cookies). I tried, tried, and kept on trying, but eventually gave up.

But then I met my husband and he encouraged me to get back in the kitchen and try again—and I saw that in a completely non-demeaning way, I promise. My husband loves to try new things and is fantastic in the kitchen. Seriously, the man can cook, and bake, and eat!

We also like revamping recipes and tweaking them to make them healthier, so be on the lookout for tips and tricks in my posts. As for food, I like making and trying out just about anything. I use cookbooks and websites a lot, and I'll give you all the sources when I can. I also like taking favorite foods and meals from restaurants and making them into something healthy I can eat at home.

Well, that was a lot of talking for me. I promise from now on my posts will have less words and more pictures of food! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Citrus and Herb Salmon

I went back and forth all day trying to figure out what my first post should be. From muffins to soup to pasta. Then I decided I'll post whatever I decide to make for dinner. This just happens to be a household favorite and quite bold, a fantastic combination! I’m always looking for ways to change the “usual” way of cooking something. Most prefer Salmon grilled. And while I’m not against grilling I wanted a new spin. In this dish every bit gets used up, with the drippings reduced into a smooth rich sauce. It goes great with steamed broccoli, I wish I had some on hand tonight!

4 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ White Onion minced
5 cloves of garlic minced
2 salmon fillets
2 tsp dried parsley
3 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 chopped green onions
1 medium lemon- thinly sliced and seeded
For Pan Sauce:
½ cup dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over low to medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until translucent. Turn heat to medium and place salmon in skillet skin side down. The skin will easily peel off after the fish is cooked. Season fish with parsley, oregano, rosemary and green onions. Add salt, and pepper to taste. Place lemon slices on fillets and scatter the remaining in the skillet. Cook 4 minutes on each side, turning once. It should be firm with some give to it, not squishy. Once the salmon is cooked take out of the pan and place it in foil to keep warm. Turn heat to high and remove any really burnt bits and lemon slices. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil. Stir in sour cream and parmesan. Once incorporated add 1 Tbsp olive oil and turn off heat. I like this Salmon served over rigatoni (I love Dreamfields) or with roasted new potatoes. Poor the sauce over the fish or the pasta or both! YUM!! And if you're like me you'll steam a couple pieces for the dog too :)

Hello, world!

Oh, hello there! I'll most likely delete this post once we get other stuff up and running, but for now, this is a good starting off point!

I can't wait to start sharing all the things we're whipping up over here.