Final Days of Summer: Smoky Buttery Crab Legs

Yesterday was the first day of school for students across the country, which means two things: 1) Summer is over and 2) My mom probably beat me in the summer license game challenge…again. In an effort to make summer last a little bit longer — though it’s 102 degrees in Dallas right now so summer still feels very present — I thought I’d share this recipe my boyfriend and I made this summer while he was interning in LA.

I lived out of a suitcase for roughly two months this summer, and right before that my boyfriend spent the semester studying abroad in Prague. So after 7 months of a super-duper-duper-long distance relationship, my last stop of the summer was on my way back from Hong Kong to visit him in LA, and we had an absolute blast! We had all these grand ideas about site-seeing in LA (I had never been before except to look at colleges my junior year of high school), however, my two continents in under two months exhaustion plus jet lag resulted in all day Netflix binge and lots of homemade meals. That being said, we did manage to check out the Sony Pictures lot (saw the Breaking Bad RV and GEEKED OUT like no other), walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard, and ate at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant The London at West Hollywood — which was delicious! We also ventured out to an awesome event called “Eat See Hear“. It was held outside the LA zoo on a gorgeous summer night, and ten plus food trucks park outside while you listen to live music, followed by a film screening (we saw Jaws – um, how perfect is that?!). All in all, a fun trip to celebrate the fact that we survived being miles apart for so long.

This was one of the two new recipes we tried during that visit, and it was a fun buttery mess! Eating crab legs always reminds me of this restaurant in Chicago my family and I used to go to when I was a little kid called Shaw’s Crab House. I have memories of crab the size of my face, bowls of butter, and my Dad rocking a gigantic bib. So not only is this dish delicious, it brought back some fun foodie memories from my childhood!

Smoky Buttery Crab Legs: Serves 2
Note: This recipe was originally designed for crab claws, that makes 8 appetizer size portions. We couldn’t find any at the store, so we improvised!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lean smoked bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound fresh crab legs
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Instructions:

  • Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, and discard dripping
  • Melt butter in skillet; stir in garlic and green onions
  • Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes
  • Stir in lemon juice, Worcestershire, and crab legs; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until hot.
  • Stir in parsley and bacon
  • Serve immediately

This was a fun date night recipe for so many reasons, we had a blast cooking this one! And laughing our asses off while trying to eat them because we didn’t have those little tiny forks that makes eating crab so much easier. Words can’t express how happy I am that my eating partner-in-crime is finally back in Dallas with me, so stay tuned for more date night ideas, as well as some more stories of our eating adventures this summer (*cough*Diners Drive-Ins and Dives inspired roadtrip*cough*). Til next time, happy eating! And hang onto the fun of summer as long as you can!

 

Welcome Back Chicken Enchiladas

Good news!! After a crazy summer of traveling, I’m finally ready to get back to blogging – and boy do I have a number of stories and recipes to share with y’all. From France, to road-tripping and hunting for Diners Dive-Ins and Dives restaurants with the boyfriend, to Hong Kong… I’ve had the wonderful experience of tasting and trying so many new and great things!

That all being said, I wanted to start off again with a recipe that I made once all my crazy travels had ended. I spent the last month of this summer with my parents up in Wisconsin for some much needed rest, relaxation, and home-cooked meals. While eating out for roughly every day for two and a half months was an epic foodie adventure, sometimes you miss the homey things (my mom’s chocolate chip cookies in particular). My parents recently moved from Chicago to Wisconsin, and while I was sad about the change (read: I was sad to no longer be a reasonable driving distance from Giordano’s pizza), I have to say their new place is perfect. It’s in this calm quiet tiny town with more vowels than I’ve ever seen in a city name. From cute boutique shops on the main street, to jet-skiing at the lake down the street, to being surround by trees in what I’ve affectionally coined “middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin,” this new home feels like we’ve been there all our lives and I love it.

SO, once I got back to Wisconsin I went on a Pinterest binge and picked out a bunch of recipes I wanted to try out, and this was the first one I made for my parents and it was a smashing success! I kept hearing my Dad mumbling under his breath while he was eating, “Yeah, this is good” or “Mmhmm yup we can have this again.” I couldn’t agree more!

I snagged this recipe from the food blog Smells Like Home — which is also where I found this delicious recipe for homemade pretzels. While I appreciate all the support for this blog, you really should check this one out!

Chicken Enchiladas: Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 15 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 12 (6-inch) soft corn or flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
Ingredients for Serving:
  • Diced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Extra chopped cilantro

Instructions:

  • Combine the onion, oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 165° F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside to cool. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the onions to extract as much liquid as possible. Place onion mixture in a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425° F. Lightly spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred or cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the bowl along with the onion mixture. Add in ¼ cup enchilada sauce, 1 cup of each cheese, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss to combine.
  • Stack and wrap the tortillas in a moist paper towel, place on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, about 30 seconds. Working with one tortilla at a time (keep the others inside the warm towel), place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla around the filling and lay them seam-side down in the baking dish.
  • Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, for 7-9 minutes, until the tortillas are starting to brown slightly on the top.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 400° F. Remove the dish from the oven and cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I will definitely be making these for my friends in Dallas in the immediate future (you’re welcome, y’all), and I encourage you to do the same! People will love you for it. And if not… Do you really want people in your life that don’t appreciate good chicken enchiladas? I think we all know the answer to that one… Happy eating y’all, and I’m so excited to be back!!

Rice Bowl with Avocado and Fried Egg

This recipe was a brilliant discovery! I found it on Yahoo — of all places — and I’ve made it 4 times since then. It’s simple, but the flavors are fantastic! There’s a good bite to it that I didn’t expect considering the ingredients are so simple. Needless to say, I’m a big fan!

Be warned, this recipe goes to show that simple ingredients does not guarantee a simple cooking process. I almost smoked out my apartment by trying to cook a fried egg. I encourage y’all to spray the skillet with pam or SOMETHING so that the egg doesn’t stick…  Sigh, have I not learned anything from my hours of watching the Food Network? Here’s a nice little tutorial I probably should have watched prior to attempting this recipe. Also, be careful slicing the avocados. As y’all know, when avocados are ripe they get nice and squishy (look at me with all my technical food lingo). So when you cut them with a knife, you don’t need to push that hard… Yours truly sliced her thumb WIDE open making this dish for a second time. My roommate went into full lifeguard mode and saved the day! …I really can’t handle the site of blood so I’m grateful she was able to swoop in.

Potentially burning my apartment down and personal injury aside… I highly, highly recommend giving this healthy lunch/dinner dish a try!

Rice Bowl with Avocado and Fried Egg: Makes 2 Rice Bowls

Ingredients:

  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • Hot sauce (optional; for serving)

Instructions:

  • Mix scallions, rice, and vinegar in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook until whites are set around the edges, about 1 minute. Flip eggs and cook to desired doneness, about 30 seconds for a runny yolk.
  • Divide rice among bowls; top with eggs, avocado, and hot sauce (optional)

I had been looking for a lunch or dinner recipe to make ahead of time, and this one works really well. Simply make a bigger batch of rice ahead of time, and add the fried egg and avocado when your’e ready to eat — It’s so easy! It was very filling and a new healthy option (I’m so over salads).

On another note, this will be my last blog post for awhile. I’m going to Frances for the Cannes Film Festival for an internship, and then studying abroad in Hong Kong for a month this summer! Which sadly means I won’t have access to a kitchen, but I’ll have many foodie adventures to share with you once I get back! I’ll save up any recipes I make over the summer to send your way in a few months. Thank you to everyone who reads and supports this blog, I really have so much fun with it! So don’t worry, I’ll be back! Happy eating everyone!! :-)

Chicken Pesto Bake

I found a quick and delicious and easy and great dinner recipe on Pinterest that I had to share. I’m swamped with final projects, work, and my internship currently, so I’m always in the mood for meals I can make ahead of time. Along that same train of thought, my apologies in advance for the lack of chit chat before sharing the recipe! It’s that time of year again folks.

Chicken Pesto Bake: Serves 4
Note: Only 236 calories per serving! But only if you follow this blogger’s recipe for Skinny Basil Pesto… which I did not, but it looks perfectly doable! If not, regular Basil Pesto you find in a grocery store will work just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16 oz total) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 4 tsp Skinny Basil Pesto
  • 1 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 6 tbsp (1.5 oz) shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  • Wash chicken and dry with a paper towel. Slice chicken breast horizontally to create 4 thinner cutlets. Season lightly with salt and fresh pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean-up.
  • Place the chicken on prepared baking sheet. Spread 1 tsp of skinny pesto over each piece of chicken.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven;top with tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Simple as that! Despite the fact that I really, truly don’t like tomatoes, on this dish they were perfectly acceptable (weird, right?) That being said, a lot of people that I care about realllllllly can’t stand tomatoes, so feel free to omit them from the recipe! …I ate about half a tomato and considered that a good enough effort. Happy eating everyone, and enjoy your Easter weekend!

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I think I finally found a way to settle an argument between 1) My desire to be swimsuit ready come May and 2) My inner fat kid that demands chocolate on a daily basis. I made these delicious energy bites last week thinking they could replace the 100-calorie snack pack of almonds I’ve been bringing to work with me that’s been serving as the “hold-me-over-til-my-next-meal” snack. Yes, these energy bites acted as a perfect snack (I would bring one maybe two to work with me) because they are surprisingly filling. However, the more genius answer is to eat one after a meal as dessert because it has chocolate and peanut butter and they’re really freaking good. Just one little bite is enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, and it’s much better than stopping by a bakery on my way home to pick up some cake balls (don’t judge, I don’t do it that often….)

I stumbled across this recipe on Instagram and it’s actually the easiest thing ever. Throw a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, mix it together, form individual balls, THE END. It’s great. And it really has been a nice alternative to my bland almond snack!

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites: Makes 12 (depends on how big/small you make them)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (optional – makes them a bit more filling!)

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl
  • Mix well!
  • Roll out into individual balls
  • Store in refrigerator

THE END! That’s it. Like I said, super simple! Really great, filling treat that satisfies that inner fat kid in all of us. SO many people around me are on crazy workout or diet schedules and deprive themselves of their favorite foods. To that I say 1) Balance is important. One chocolate bar won’t make you fat, just like one salad won’t make you skinny. And more importantly, 2) Life’s short, eat the damn cupcake. To those of you who are looking for a healthier snack option that actually tastes good too, I highly recommend these! Happy eating!!

Greek Marinated Chicken and Roasted Asparagus with Feta

Thisssss dishhhhh isssss sooooo good. I made it for my friend Natalie a few weeks ago for our dinner and a movie date: We watched Disney’s new film Frozen, which I’m pretty sure I’ve seen 4 times now since it was released and I’m not the least bit sorry about it. I chose this chicken recipe because I’ve seen it pop up on Pinterest a lot lately and figured these people must be onto something! And they 100% were. Good to know that when all else fails, Pinterest has got your back.

Side Note: For the times when they’re not, check out these hilarious “Pinterest Fails“. It’s genius. You’re welcome.

End tangent. Commence recipe!

Greek Marinated Chicken: Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 medium lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • ¼ bunch fresh parsley
  • 3½ to 4 lbs chicken pieces

Instructions:

  • To make the marinade, combine the yogurt, olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper in a bowl. Use a fine holed cheese grater or a zester to scrape the thin layer of yellow zest from the lemon skin into the bowl. Also add the juice from half of the lemon (about 1-2 Tbsp). Stir until the ingredients are well combined. Roughly chop a big handful, or about ¼ bunch, of parsley and stir it into the marinade.
  • Add the chicken pieces and marinade to a gallon sized zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible, close the bag tightly, and massage the bag to mix the contents and make sure the chicken is well coated. Refrigerate the bag for 30 minutes.
  • After marinating for 30 minutes, either cook the chicken on a grill OR preheat the oven to 375 degrees in preparation to bake the chicken.
  • To bake the chicken, place the chicken pieces in a large casserole dish (9×13). Bake the chicken in the preheated 375 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Such an easy dish to make! While it takes awhile to cook, it’s definitely worth the wait. I recommend making the full recipe size because the leftovers were just as good the next day!

Roasted Asparagus with Feta: Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2-4 lbs fresh crisp asparagus
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon, zest of
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 to taste kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 to taste fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 -4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 6 -8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 lemon (juice of, no seeds)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Heat olive oil, minced garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a small pan over low heat until garlic becomes golden and oil becomes fragrant; remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Bend asparagus gently until it breaks at a natural point and discard ends.
  • Toss asparagus pieces with infused olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet (one with a side edge).
  • Season asparagus with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle asparagus with crumbled feta cheese.
  • Roast at 400F for 12 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and squeeze the lemons over the asparagus, being careful to catch the seeds.
  • Serve hot.

These two dishes complement each other nicely and are easy to make back-to-back. It’s easy to keep the chicken warm while the asparagus cooks, assuming you’ve prepped the asparagus while the chicken is cooking which I highly recommend. Good luck! And whatever your plans are for this weekend, happy eating!

 

Eating My Feelings in Prague!

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go and visit my boyfriend Parker in Prague for my Spring Break! He’s studying at a European film school for the semester, and he couldn’t have picked a more beautiful place to live for five months. I stayed for a little over a week and we did all the touristy things: Visit to the Prague Castle, walk down Charles Bridge, photos in front of the Lennon Wall, and a hilarious evening at the St. Matthew’s Fair. We also went out a few nights with his friends, one night of which was at a night club called Lucerna that plays 80s and 90s music with the music videos projected onto the wall. WHY is this BRILLIANCE not in the United States?! I may or may not have completely lost my cool when 90s Brittney Spears came on, it’s casual.

As nice it was to go sight-seeing, let’s be real. I like food. Like, a lot. So I challenged Parker to take me to the best places he’s eaten at in Prague so far. And while I appreciated the irony and hilarity of our first meal at Prague being at a TGI Friday’s (it’s turned into an odd tradition: Almost every trip we’ve been on we’ve managed to eat at TGI Friday’s…), I was obviously looking for something a little more local. Typical broke college student responded with: “There’s this epic Chinese take-out place down the street. And an Italian place by my apartment that has the world’s best pizza!” While we did go to these places (two times for Chinese food and three times for the pizza… He wasn’t kidding, it was amazing), I wanted to try food from the Czech Republic. Parker’s Czech roommate kindly pointed us to a place called Lokal – THIS is exactly what we were looking for!

According to their website, Lokal is known for their homemade Czech cuisine and carefully handled beer. The Pilsner Urquell (the beer that’s cheaper than water) is supervisted by an international master bartender. If I learned anything in Prague, it’s that they take their beer very, very seriously! This is also the same reason my boyfriend may never come back to America haha, someone’s gonna be in for a reality check when he comes back and beer costs him more than $2.00. Anyways! The first night we got there, the restaurant was packed. Praise Jesus, the wait staff spoke English, though I have to give Parker some credit – his Czech was good enough to order food at everyone restaurant we went to and to get us from point A to point B. I was pretty impressed. That language is not user friendly (I could barely say “hello” properly by the time I left). Since the restaurant was so crowded, they shuffled us to the back of the restaurant and we had a beer (or two) while we waited for a table. This restaurant had the most hilarious and genius way of keeping track of how many beers each table had: They had a sheet with about 50 small beer mugs printed on it. Every time they delivered a beer to your table, they’d cross off a beer mug on your sheet. Like I said, HILARIOUS and GENIUS.

We sat down and they handed us the menu, which also was luckily in English. Parker ordered Krejcars’ hot dog sausages with homemade mustard and creamy whipped horseradish for an appetizer while I looked through the menu some more in an effort to make a decision. For the record, that appetizer in Czech is “Párky od Krejcarů s domácí hořčicí a smetanovým křenem.” WHAT. I couldn’t even guess as to what that is supposed to sound like… Fortunately, we didn’t have to be able to pronounce it to eat it! And they were delicious. It reminded me of when my family and I were in Germany when I was 10 years old. We were staying in the hotel and my Dad ordered three hot dogs, makes sense right? Two kids, one for my Mom or Dad, perfectly logical. What showed up instead was three TRAYS of 10 small sausages each. For those who don’t like math, that means my Dad ordered 30 sausages through room service. The look of happiness on my little sister’s face is something I will never ever forget! This sausage appetizer was on par with our German hotdog smorgasbord, and that’s saying somethingfolks.

I eventually caved and asked Parker what an infamous Czech dish was because I figured that’s what I should order because when it comes to choosing what to eat I’m really bad at making decisions, especially with so many good options. His response: Svíčková. No, I couldn’t pronounce it. Yes, I tried repeatedly. Yes, Parker laughed at my several butchered attempts. Basically, Svíčková is braised beef served with a thick gravy/sauce. I ordered mine with a side of potato dumplings (or in the hardest language ever, “bramborové knedlíky”). HOLY AMAZEBALLS PRAISE ALL THAT IS HOLY AND GLORIOUS – This stuff was amazing! The beef literally fell apart in your mouth, and the potato dumplings were fluffy and wonderful and great and I might be drooling just thinking about it. I don’t know how they made it, but you can bet I’m going to try and find a way to duplicate this in the future.

Parker and me at the Daughtry concertIn conclusion, if you ever find yourself in Prague I highly, highly recommend you give Lokal a try. Parker and I ended up going back there my last night in town because it was conveniently located right next door to the concert venue we were going to later that night. One of my favorite bands – Daughtry – just happened to be playing in Prague while I was there, talk about the best coincidence ever! Such a wonderful way to end the trip. Great food, awesome music, and an amazing night with my best friend boyfriend. No wonder it was so hard to leave! Hope y’all enjoyed hearing about my trip! I’ll go back to posting recipes on Thursday – it’s a good one too!! Until then, happy eating!