Crispy Mexican Hash Browns

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Crispy Mexican Hashbrowns:

  • 5 Idaho potatoes – cleaned, peeled, dried
  • 1 serrano pepper – minced
  • 2 stalks scallions – minced
  • 1-2 tsp no salt/low sodium Mexican seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • pinch of cumin powder
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • PAM Original Flavor

1. Grate the potato into a cheese cloth, and once all the potato is grated, tie tight and squeeze out the excess water. Place into a medium bowl. Toss in the minced serrano and scallions. You want to mix in the remaining ingredients 5 minutes before cooking.

2. Spray a large non-stick skillet with PAM and place over medium-high flame. Add the potato mixture, making sure to spread it out evenly all over the pan – you want it to be a thin layer so it crisps up. Cook on 1 side for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Then try and flip to the other side (or flip over in sections) and cook for a few minutes until browned. Remove and place on a serving dish. Garnich with a generous amount of chopped scallions. Serve!

Serves 2-4 

Mexican Street Corn

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The first time I ever ate charred corn on the cob with spicy Mexican mayo and crumbled queso fresco was in Acapulco, Mexico nearly 10 years ago. Ever since then I’ve been in love. I’ve made several Mexican Street Corn versions since then, but I must say this was probably one of the best variations I’ve made. I made this corn this past Sunday for a Mother’s Day Brunch and it was a super hit with my family! Try it for yourself…

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Mexican Street Corn:

  • 4-5 fresh corn on the cob – de-husked
  • a little less than a 1/4 cup softened butter/margarine – I used Light Butter with Canola Oil
  • 1 tbsp no/low sodium Mexican seasoning – I used McCormick 
  • 1 Serrano chili – minced
  • pinch salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch finely chopped cilantro
  • squeeze of lemon/lime juice from a quarter lemon/lime
  • 1/4 cup shredded Queso Blanco
  • fresh chopped cilantro for garnishing

1. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter, seasoning, chili, salt, pepper, cilantro, and lemon juice. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Char the corns either on an open grill or directly on the flame on the stove top for about 5 minutes on each side. Corn should be charred and completely cooked through. Using a very sharp knife, cut each cob in half.

3. Once the corns are slightly cool, spread a generous amount of butter on each, making sure to roll around so all the kernels can seep in the flavor. Top each with the shredded queso blanco and chopped cilantro. Serve!

Feeds 4-8 people 

Nutella Cupcakes

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Do these really need an intro….?

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Nutella Cupcakes:

  • My moist chocolate cupakes
  • 1 small jar of nutella
  • cream cheese frosting
  • chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a regular cupcake baking sheet, fill each lined cup 1/2 with batter. In each put a little less than 1 tbsp of nutella into the middle. Bake for about 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let cool.

2. Top with the cream cheese frosting and drizzle a generous amount of nutella on top plus chopped hazelnuts.

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Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 8oz bar of reduced-fat cream cheese – softened
  • 1 stick butter – softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-5 cups sifted confectioners

1. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and mix. Then slowly add in the sugar until incorporated and switch mixer to high until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Open Faced Crispy Eggplant Sandwich

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I love eggplant parm, but just like any other foodies, I find it to be a bit boring. My mom makes these delicious thin and crispy eggplant cutlets once in a while, which remind me of eggplant parm. So I decided to use those and whip up something that was similar to an eggplant parm, but just jazzed up. I think this recipe is great for a weekend brunch!

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Open Faced Crispy Eggplant Sandwich:

  • 1 large Italian eggplant – thinly sliced (1/8 of an inch thick)
  • couple tbsp course salt
  • 1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • olive oil
  • 2 ciabatta rolls – each roll should be sliced in 4 thin slices
  • 1/4 cup lowfat mayo
  • 3-4 tbsp pesto
  • 1 bell pepper – thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño – thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic – thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella
  • 1 beefsteak tomato – finely chopped
  • salt
  • black pepper

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1. First lay the eggplant slices in a colander (or baking sheet with holes) sprinkle generously with the course salt and let sit until all the moisture seeps out. About 30 minutes.

2. Set up an assembly line with the buttermilk in a shallow dish and the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Take the salted eggplant slices and first dip in buttermilk on both sides and then coat with the breadcrumbs on both sides, making sure to pat in the breadcrumbs until they adhere. While you’re preparing the slices, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium flame spray with PAM and pour in olive oil to coat the pan. Place the slices into the pan and pan sear on both sides until the breadcrumbs are dark brown and the eggplant is cooked through. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo and 2 tbsp pesto. Set aside.

4. In the same skillet that you cooked the eggplant in, remove an access/burnt crumbs and set over medium flame. Spray with PAM and add in the bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, and garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add in the oregano, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Continue to saute over medium-low flame until vegetable begin to soften and caramelize. While that’s cookies, mix together remaining 2 tbsp of pesto and chopped tomatoes in a small bowl. Set aside. Once veggies have cooked and become soft, remove from the pan.

5. Spray both sides of each of the slices of ciabatta. Place on the same pan to toast until golden brown. While the slices are still sitting in the pan (I just did 2 at a time), spread with about 1 tbsp of pesto mayo, place 2 slices of crispy eggplant, top with a generous amount of sauteed veggies, top with shredded cheese and heat over low flame. I place a steel bowl over it so the cheese melts. Remove from the pan and place on a serving dish. Top with pesto tomatoes and a smear of pesto-mayo on the side. Delish!

Mediterranean Orzo

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I think orzo is underrated. It cooks really fast and acts and taste just like regular pasta, which means its absorbs any of the goodness you add to it. I also think it’s really versatile, which means it doesn’t have to be just Italian. That being said, I made a super simple Mediterranean Orzo with ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

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Mediterranean Orzo:

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 red onion – diced
  • 1 clove of garlic – minced
  • 1 zucchini – diced
  • 1 yellow squash – diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos – diced
  • couple tsp dried oregano
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 pencil asparagus – diced
  • 1/4 cup canned chickpeas – drained and rinsed
  • handful of kalamata olives – diced
  • red crushed pepper
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • a little less than 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey-dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tsp of honey
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

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1. In a large pot add water, drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and set over high flame to bring to a boil. Add in the orzo, and boil for about 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Strain, reserving the water and set the orzo aside.

2. In a large skillet, add in a tbsp of olive oil and heat over medium flame. Add in the onions and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Then add in the jalapenos and the rest of the veggies. Saute for a few minutes until slightly soft. Add in the oregano, red crushed pepper, salt, and pepper and chickpeas. Saute for another 5-8 minutes until all the veggies are tender, but not soft and mushy. Remove from the stove.

3. In a large serving bowl, mix together the red wine vinegar, mustard, honey, oregano, some more salt and black pepper. Drizzle in about 2-3 tbsp of olive oil until emulsified. Add in the cooked orzo and sauteed veggies. Mix altogether. Also add in the chopped olives and toss, making sure the pasta is completely coated with the dressing. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 3-4 

Oil n’ Garlic Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions & Parmesan

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I think if someone asked me what my favorite simple pasta dish was I’d probably say Oil n’ Garlic (or vodka or pesto or pink sauce, etc etc..EVERYTHING). No, but really – I love Oil n’Garlic pasta. It’s garlicky, and smooth and when topped with parmigiana cheese -adds just the right amount of salt. One night my mom and I were craving some, so I whipped up this simple dish with the addition of caramelized onions.

Oil n’ Garlic Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions:

  • 1 large white onion – thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • sprinkle of salt
  • couple tbsp olive oil – good quality
  • 4-5 cloves garlic – lightly smashed
  • red crushed pepper
  • 1/4 box of Thin Spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmigiana cheese
  • good extra virgin olive oil

1. In a medium non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low flame. Add the sliced onions and saute. Once the onions start turning translucent, reduce the heat to slightly above low and continue to cook. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and the 1 tsp of sugar. You want to cook these onions for about 10-15 minutes until super soft and golden in color like caramel. Remove  from the skillet and set aside.

2. In a large pot bring water to a boil – sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and add a tsp of olive oil. Boil until al dente, then strain, but reserve the starchy water. Set aside.

3. In the same medium skillet, add a touch more olive oil and set over medium-low flame. Add in the garlic cloves and red crushed pepper. Saute for a 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add in the cooked pasta and a couple of tbsp of the reserved pasta water. Toss and add in a little more reserved pasta water if it seems to be getting dry. I added about 1/4 cup of the water in total. Toss in the reserved caramelized onions and the parmigiana cheese. Toss and place in a serving dish and top with more cheese. Serve!

Serves 2-3 (or 1 depending on how hungry/hangry you are) 

Chile Relleno

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A lot of what I make is based on what’s good in the grocery store that day. Earlier this weekend, I went to the grocery store just to get 2 items. But of course, I cam out with 5 bags full of unnecessary (but very necessary) items. I found some beautiful fresh Poblanos and instantly thought – Stuffed Chili Rellenos. But, I wanted to make them healthy – althought the cheese stuffed, deep-fried restaurant version is great, I can’t be eating like that when I have to expose myself in a bathing suit next month. So, I whipped up a low-carb, low-fat Roasted Chili Relleno dish. It came out very good! See below…

(please excuse the iPhone 5 pics, ugh)

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Roasted Chili Relleno:

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 yam/sweet potato – boiled until for tender then diced
  • 1 medium white onion – diced
  • 1-2 jalapeños – diced
  • 1 yellow (or any color) bell pepper – diced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp unsalted taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic – smashed and minced
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 lime
  • 3-4 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar – if vegan, use vegan cheddar
  • couple of slices of Cabot Habanero Cheddar – omit if vegan
  • handful fresh cilantro – chopped
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes – diced
  • olive oil
  • PAM

1. Char 2 of the poblanos directly on the flame on the stovetop until very soft and completely charred all around. Remove and let cool.

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Next char the remaining 2 poblanos on the flame but not as much – you want them to be slightly charred all around and JUST fork tender. Remove and let cool.

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2. Meanwhile in a large skillet spray with Pam and heat about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the cumin seeds and let them become fragrant about 30 seconds. Then add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeños, and diced yams and sauté. Add the taco seasoning, sprinkle of salt and pepper and the 1 tsp of oregano and continue sautéing. Add the spinach and mix in. Sprinkle in some water in the mixture. You want to cook this for about 10-15 minutes until all the veggies (especially the yams) are cooked through. Taste for salt and seasoning. At the last moment right after you shut off the flame, mix in a couple tbsp of the chopped cilantro. Set aside.

3. To make the sauce: Take the 2 very charred poblanos and remove from the stem and seed pods. Add to a blender with the sour cream, about 3 tbsp water, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp chili powder, juice from 1/4 of the lime, and 1-2 tbsp of the chopped cilantro. Blend on high until very smooth – you may need to add a little more water. Set aside.

4. Quick Pico de Gallo: Mix together the chopped tomato, 1 tbsp of the chopped cilantro, lime juice from 1/4 lime, pinch of salt and set aside.

5. Assembly: Make a slit in the middle of the remaining 2 slightly charred poblanos. Place on a baking sheet. Remove some of the seeds of the poblano and discard. Stuffed generously with the vegetable stuffing all the way to the top. Top with the cheeses and broil for a few minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove. Place each one on a serving dish and top with a generous amount of the sauce and the pico de gallo. Serve!

Serves 2 

“Fancy” Grilled Cheese

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Do you ever get a craving for a simple grilled cheese sandwich? Something gooey and delicious and full of carbs and cheesy goodness? Yah, I get these cravings all the time, but if I ate what I craved all the time, I’d probably be a beluga whale. But I do like to reasonably indulge from time-to-time. I was craving a grilled cheese the other day, but I wanted something tasty and not too fatty. Thus, the “Fancy” Grilled Cheese was born.

“Fancy” Grilled Cheese:

  • 2 slices multigrain/whole wheat bread (I used Pepperidge Farm Brand)
  • 2 slices part-skim American Cheese (I used good ole’ Kraft)
  • 1 slice reduced-fat Pepper Jack Cheese (I used Sargento)
  • 2-3 slices beefsteak tomato
  • 3-4 slices fresh basil
  • Black Pepper
  • PAM Olive Oil Flavor

Pesto Aioli:

  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat mayo
  • 1 tsp basil pesto
  • sprinkle of red crushed pepper

1. Layer the ingredients evenly between the 2 slices of bread. Spray both sides of the outside of sandwich with PAM.

2. Pesto Aioli- stir all ingredients and set aside.

3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and spray with PAM. Grill both sides of the sandwich for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Remove from the skillet, and slice in half. Serve with Pesto Aioli.

Eggless Nutella Stuffed French Toast

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Last weekend a legend passed away: Michele Ferrero the owner of Nutella (not to mention the richest man in Italy) died on Valentine’s Day (of all days!!!). In his honor, I had to use Nutella this past weekend (let’s be honest, it was just another excuse for me to use Nutella). Recently my mom made me a delicious stuffed french toast, so I used the same concept and added a few delicious things.

When you hear French Toast, you probably think of something decadent and unhealthy. Don’t get me wrong, this is very decadent, but definitely not super unhealthy. Its a simple and satisfying item to make for brunch and it’s sure to please your friends and family!

Eggless Nutella French Toast:

  • 4 slices cinnamon-swirl bread
  • 3-4 tbsp Nutella
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half & half
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mix
  • PAM Butter Flavor
  • sliced strawberries
  • raspberries
  • cinnamon whipped cream (recipe below)

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream – chilled
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

1. Spread about 1 tbsp of Nutella on each of the 2 slices of cinnamon-swirl bread. Top with the other non-Nutella sides to create a sandwich. In a shallow and wide plate pour in fat-free half & half and add in vanilla extract, mix. In another shallow and wide plate, add in the cinnamon-sugar mix. Lightly dip each side of the Nutella sandwich into the milk mixture, and shake off access. Dip each of the wet sides into the cinnamon sugar mix. Repeat for the second Nutella sandwich.

2. Spray a on-stick skillet with PAM and place over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, place in the french toast one at a time. Grill on each side for about 2 minutes. Remove, and cut in half on the diagonal. Top with fresh berries, whipped cream and powder sugar (optional).

Cinnamon Whipper Cream:

1. In a clean and chilled bowl, pour in heavy cream and using a hand mixer beat on medium speed until it becomes frothy then slowly sprinkle in the cinnamon and sugar. Continue to beat on high until stiff peaks. Wrap bowl in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach Pesto

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This past Christmas we decided to relax at home and I cooked up a vegetarian Italian feast! I decided to make Eggplant Rollatini as the main dish, but of course with a twist. I first made a homemade marinara sauce using San Marzano crushed tomatoes the night before. I spiced up the traditional ricotta filling with a homemade spinach pesto and pine nuts. It was delicious and fairly simple to put together.

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Eggplant Rollatini:

  • 2 large Italian eggplants – cut into 1/8 thick long slices
  • salt
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk

1. Place the eggplant slices on a slotted cookie sheet/large colander. Sprinkle generously with salt on both sides. Let sit (I placed them in the sink), so all the moisture drains out – for about 15-20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Place a large skillet over medium-low flame. Pour in olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and fill about 1/8 of the way up. Meanwhile, place the buttermilk in a large shallow plate. Sprinkle in the cayenne pepper and black pepper. Stir. In another shallow dish, add the breadcrumbs and basil – stir. Carefully dip each eggplant slice into the buttermilk, coat well on both sides, and then dip in the breadcrumb mixture. Press the breadcrumbs into each side, gently shake off excess crumbs. Place slice into the hot skillet. Place about 2-3 slices at a time – you do not want to overcrowd the pan, so adjust this based on how big your pan is. Cook about 3-4 minutes on each side until browned and crisp. Remove and lay on a play that’s lined with foil and paper towels to drain excess oil.

Spinach Pesto – Ricotta Filling:

  • about 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • red crushed pepper
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • about 2 tbsp roasted garlic olive oil/extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 12 oz lowfat ricotta cheese – drained in a cheese cloth to remove excess liquid
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts – toasted
  • 1 tbsp grated pecorino

1. Place spinach, garlic, red crushed pepper, salt, and black pepper in a food processor. Pulse until relatively chopped. Turn to low and drizzle in olive oil and continue grinding until its a thick paste. Mix in the toasted pine nuts and grated pecorino, set aside.

 Assembly: 

  • 1 bunch of basil leaves (enough so each eggplant gets 1 leaf), plus some more for garnishing
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 jar homemade/favorite store-bought marinara sauce
  • 1-2 balls fresh mozzarella – sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

1. In a large oven-safe casserole dish, place about 1/4 of the homemade sauce on the bottom of the dish, and spread evenly to cover the entire surface.

2. Once the fried eggplants have cooled and drained, place each one gently on a clean surface/cutting board. Place about 2 tbsp of ricotta filling at the fat end, and gently roll making sure the filling is not squeezing out. Repeat with the rest of the breaded eggplant slides and then carefully place each roll in the saucy casserole dish close to one another until the dish is covered completely,

3. Pour the remainder of the sauce all over the eggplants, making sure to cover everything. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella on each rollatini. Top the entire dish with shredded mozzarella.

4. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 mins, or until bubbling. Remove foil, and switch oven to maxi broil, and bake for a few minutes, until cheese its melted and slightly brown. Carefully remove, and let rest for 2 minutes before serving. Take the reserved fresh basil leaves, and tear over the top before serving.

Enjoy!

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