Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Terrific Tasting Mussel Recipes

Courtesy of Christine Skopec
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

When you’re looking to get lean, exercise is only half the equation. You can do all the crunches in the world, but the foods you eat are every bit as important. We’ll show you how to use some of the healthiest eats to sculpt your physique without sacrificing flavor.

Health-conscious eaters regularly fill their plates with seafood like salmon and tuna without even letting their minds drift toward mussels. Though these mollusks don’t get as much love, they’re every bit as healthy as any other type of fish. According to NutritionData.com, a 3-ounce serving contains 146 calories, 20 grams of protein, a whopping dose of iron, and a surprising amount of vitamin C.

Because mussels have a naturally sweet flavor, they pair wonderfully with loads of other ingredients. They’re also rock stars for busy nights because cooking takes a matter of minutes. Get more mussels in your life with these five recipes.

The featured Curried Carrot and Mussel Soup is a sweet, creamy carrot soup that gets more staying power with the addition of plenty of mussels in this recipe from Food & Wine. The shellfish create their own broth when steamed in wine, so you’ll end up with a full-flavored dish without much effort. In fact, this delicious soup comes together with just nine ingredients.

High in vitamin B12, mussels could be a great brain food. Studies, including a recent example from Current Alzheimer Research, have linked low levels of the nutrient to Alzheimer’s disease. Getting your fill of vitamin B12 might not be a guaranteed way to eliminate your risk, but it’s not a bad idea.

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1¼ pound carrots, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 quart canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, discard any broken mussels or ones that don’t close when you tap the shell. Add to a large stainless steel pot and pour in wine. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook, shaking pot occasionally, just until mussels open, about 3 minutes. Remove mussels as they open, then close to cook remaining ones. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Once cool, remove all but 12 mussels from shells and discard shells.

Blend half of carrot mixture in a blender or food processor, then return to same pot. Pour mussel liquid into carrot mixture, leaving behind any accumulated grit. Add shelled mussels and cook over low heat just until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve soup topped with remaining mussels.

2. Quick Paella with Shrimp and Mussels

Traditional paella is quite a project to pull off, so many never attempt the dish at home. This speedy version from Eating Well is a great way to enjoy the flavors without the time investment thanks to quick-cooking seafood and instant brown rice. Leftovers make a perfect cold salad you can pack for work later in the week. Just add a lemon wedge to brighten the flavors a bit, and your midday meal is good to go.

Packed with grains, vegetables, and seafood, this dish is pretty much the poster child for Mediterranean eating. The diet has been linked to scores of health benefits, including a longer life. One 2014 study found those who adhered to a Mediterranean diet have longer telomeres, caps at the ends of our chromosomes that help protect our genetic data, which suggest a longer life.

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups instant brown rice
  • 1⅓ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • 1 pound (21 to 25) peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed well
  • 4 lemon wedges

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Add rice, broth, thyme, salt, pepper, and saffron. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in shrimp and peas. Place mussels on top of rice in an even layer. Cover and continue to cook until mussels open, rice is tender, and shrimp are cooked, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let rest, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

3. Thai Seafood Salad

If your entrée salads all look like same variation of chicken breast with greens, shake things up with this Thai-inspired salad from Fine Cooking. It’s brimming with seafood, fresh herbs, and crunchy veggies tossed in a vibrant dressing. Don’t be intimated by the variety of seafood, either. You can easily simplify the recipe by using just one or two types of shellfish.

The delicious taste is reason enough to make this salad, but the health benefits give it extra credit. Mussels might even be the key to warding off cancer. One 2012 study revealed a type of peptide in mussels can kill breast, prostate, and lung cancer cells.

  • 24 small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¾ pound (51 to 60 per pound) fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound cleaned squid, bodies cut into ¼-inch rings and tentacles halved if large
  • ½ pound sea or bay scallops
  • ¼ pound fresh or pasteurized jumbo lump crabmeat

  • 6 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 4½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped spicy green chiles, such as serrano or jalapeño
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

  • 2 cups bite-size pieces Boston lettuce
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • ½ cup sliced English cucumber
  • ½ cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes

Place mussels in a medium pot and add ½ cup water. Cover and set over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until shells open, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate. Discard any unopened mussels, then remove meat from cooked mussels and transfer to a medium bowl. Discard shells and cooking liquid.

Bring a 3-quart saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add salt, then add shrimp and cook until opaque and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to bowl with mussels.

Once water returns to a boil, cook squid until firm and white, about 1 minute. Remove and add to same bowl with mussels and shrimp. Once water returns to a boil, repeat with scallops, cooking just until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes for bay scallops and 2 to 3 minutes for sea scallops. Remove and add to bowl with seafood. Add crab and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chiles, and garlic. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.

Arrange lettuce on a serving platter. Transfer seafood to bowl with dressing and add shallots. Toss to coat, then add scallions, cilantro, and mint. Toss again, then scoop over lettuce with a slotted spoon. Toss cucumber and tomatoes with remaining dressing and arrange around seafood. Drizzle remaining dressing over top. Serve at once.

4. Angel Hair Pasta with Mussels and Red Pepper Sauce

Like clams, mussels pair wonderfully with pasta. Try this recipe filled with a tomato and red pepper sauce from Cooking Light to taste for yourself. While the dish is already healthy, you can get boost the nutrition even more by wilting in some spinach or chard at the very end.

Since our less-than-healthy diets have been linked to high levels of inflammation, cooking more dishes like this mussel-studded pasta is a good idea. One recent study published in Nutrients found arthritis patients treated with an extract from mussels enjoyed reduced inflammation.

  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups diced red bell pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped and undrained
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 36 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions without adding salt or oil. Drain and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, salt, and red pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and wine, bring to a boil, reduce to low heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add mussels and increase heat to medium. Cover and simmer for 7 minutes, or until shells open. Discard any unopened mussels. Serve over pasta and garnish with parsley.

5. Cider-Cooked Mussels with Kale

One-pot meals score points for simplicity as well as keeping dishes to a minimum, and they can also be speedy if you choose wisely. This kale and mussel recipe from Delicious meets all three criteria. In just 20 minutes, you’ll have a delicious dish that needs nothing more than some crusty bread to become a complete meal.

If you don’t particularly care for the strong taste of fatty fish, mussels are a great alternative for getting a dose of omega-3s. Even if you try to get your fill with supplements, you’re better off getting these healthy fats from real food. Unlike seafood consumption, studies have shown fish oil supplements don’t cut the risk of heart disease or death.

  • Olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3½ ounces kale, chopped
  • 6¾ ounces good quality dry cider
  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Bread

Heat a drizzle of oil in a deep pan. Add garlic and shallots and cook over low heat, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes. Add kale and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cider and increase heat to a simmer. Add mussels to pan, bring to a boil, cover, and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mussels have opened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

Add parsley to mussels and stir to combine. Serve mussels in bowls with bread to mop up juices.

Again, exercise is only half the equation, add these delicious mussel recipes to complete your goal without sacrificing taste.

Bon Appétit...

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Dinners Cooked in a Toaster Oven

Courtesy of Catherine Northington
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

Toaster oven cooking may seem elementary, but it can make for some tasty cooking! The toaster oven is a great appliance to keep in your kitchen, as its heats up in seconds and can make for many versatile last-minute dinner dishes. The toaster oven heats and crisps meals to perfection, and it tends to involve substantially less effort than its conventional brethren.

Lemon-Thyme Bruschetta is featured to kick-off dinners cooked in a toaster oven. This light and lemony dish makes a great last minute appetizer or snack. Flavored with thyme, this delicious finger food has an added touch of honey, lending a sweet balance to the dish. They’re a warm, crisp addition to the menu and take only around 15 minutes to prepare. This recipe from the Kitchn yields 10 appetizer servings.

  • 1 baguette; thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 lemon; zested
  • Honey
  • 8 springs fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together ricotta and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Toast baguette slices in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes until slightly browned and warm. Spread liberally with seasoned ricotta. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with thyme. Serve warm.

2. Miso-Glazed Toaster Oven Salmon

Quick, easy, and tasty! The tangy and sweet flavors of the soy sauce and vinegar are nicely offset by the addition of a dry, fragrant sake to the marinade in this dish. This miso glazed salmon from Serious Eats takes just 15 minutes to complete and yields 4 servings — a great choice for last minute dinner prep.

  • ¼ cup red or white miso
  • ⅓ cup sake
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 skinless salmon filets, at least 1 inch thick, 5 to 6 ounces each

Whisk together miso, sake, soy sauce, oil, and sugar. Rub mixture over every surface of salmon filets. Transfer to a plastic zipper lock bag or sealable container. Proceed immediately to next step, or for best results, marinate for about 30 minutes or up to two days.

Preheat toaster oven to high on broiler. Cover a small broiler pan with aluminum foil. Rub excess marinade off of salmon and place on broiler pan. Broil until top surface is well charred and salmon is barely warm in the center, about 5 minutes, using the foil to protect any areas that threaten to burn. Serve immediately.

3. Moroccan Pork Kebabs

Cooking in your toaster oven isn’t just simple — it’s delicious! These Moroccan-inspired pork kebabs are savory and complex addition to your next dinner menu. They’re low in calories, high in protein, and packed with flavor. This recipe from Real Simple yields 4 servings and takes about an hour and 15 minutes to complete.

  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1 ½-inch chunks
  • 1 small eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • Pita bread or flat bread, for serving
  • 1 half-pint container store-bought tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt sauce; optional)
  • ½ small cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Heat toaster oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Add the pork and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the eggplant, onion, and the remaining oil, salt, and pepper. Place the vegetables on skewers, alternating eggplant and onion. Transfer the skewers to a foil-lined toaster-oven baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the vegetables.

Place the pork on skewers and add them to the tray. Bake until the vegetables are tender and the pork is cooked through, turning the pork and vegetables once, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, wrap the bread in foil and place on top of the pork during the last 5 minutes. Transfer the skewers and bread to individual plates. Spoon the tzatziki (optional) on the side and sprinkle with the cucumber and mint.

4. Biscuit Mini Batch for Toaster Oven

These biscuits are a 15-minute shortcut to savory goodness. Instead of whipping together a whole batch, just throw this simple dough into the toaster oven for a few minutes. These are hot, soft, and flaky and are delicious when accompanied with gravy or simply served on the side with a dinner main. This recipe from Food takes 15 minutes to complete and yields 6 biscuits.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk

Pre-heat toaster oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together flour and baking powder. Work in melted butter. Add milk and mix into a soft dough. Drop 6 biscuits onto a small baking sheet that will fit into your toaster oven. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until done.

5. Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms may look, sound, and taste complicated — but this recipe from Mother Would Know is deceptively simple! This vegetarian-friendly recipe is bursting with flavor: basil, onion, and garlic add character to the dish, all baked inside of a lightly crusted portobello mushroom. The dish takes about 45 minutes to complete and yields 2 servings.

  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ medium onion (about ? cup)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup tomatoes, chopped (about 6 cherry tomatoes or 8 to 10 grape tomatoes)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly oil toaster oven pan. Clean the outside of the mushroom caps with a bit of water and dry them. Cut off the stems and use a small spoon to gently scoop out the black gills.

Chop onions, garlic, and basil. Preheat the toaster oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook under a medium heat until they are transparent (about 5 minutes).

Add spinach to the onion and garlic. Cook a few more minutes until the spinach has wilted. Add the ricotta cheese, tomatoes, and basil, then mix to combine all the ingredients in the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place mushroom caps on the oiled pan. Stuff half the contents of the pan into each of the 2 mushrooms.

Put the bread crumbs and most of the Parmesan cheese into the now-empty pan, toss together, and divide between the mushrooms. Add the remaining bit of Parmesan on the top of the mushrooms and sprinkle with the last tablespoon of oil. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is crusty and the filling looks hot inside.

6. Herb-Roasted Chicken Tenders

You’re never too old to enjoy chicken tenders for dinner! Celebrity chef Eric Ripert shares this quick and easy meal with Today. Herbes de Provence lend the dish its flavorful character. It’s savory and delicious — particularly when served alongside a sweet honey Dijon medley for dipping. This recipe takes 20 minutes to complete and yields 2 servings.

  • 7 ounces chicken tenders
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Heat toaster oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle half of the olive oil onto the toaster oven tray. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the tray and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the seasoned chicken. Bake the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, stir together the Dijon mustard and honey. Serve the chicken tenders with mustard on the side. Alternately, serve the chicken tenders on skewers as an appetizer or with an arugula salad.

Try any of these six recipes for a quick and delicious toaster oven dinner. Toaster ovens are great options for small spaces, studio and tiny house living where space is limited.

Bon Appétit...

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Make Classic Meals Into Gourmet Sandwiches

Courtesy of Alli Neal
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

Sometimes, you’re out of clean forks. Sometimes, you just need a sandwich. Branch out from the cold cuts and sliced cheese, though. Whether you’re looking for a new way to eat a favorite meal or a way to love your leftovers, making your meal into a sandwich can be just the way to update a recipe. These recipes don’t just take a scoop of last night’s dinner and plop it between two slices of bread, though — they’re classic meals reimagined as sandwiches.

The featured Lasagna Grilled Cheese is toasted with cheese and tomatoes. No, this isn’t a slice of lasagna between two slices of bread. Instead, Joy the Baker takes the two most iconic flavors of lasagna, tomato and ricotta, and transforms them into a lasagna-esque sandwich. It’s then griddled to a golden crisp. Beware: Hot ricotta may get everywhere on your first delicious bite.

  • 4 slices of a good, sturdy bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter with a dash of olive oil
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Extra salt and pepper for seasoning

Lay out bread slices.

In a medium skillet or nonstick pan, melt butter over medium-low heat.

In a small bowl, stir together ricotta, basil, salt, and pepper.

Top each slice of bread with a bit of mozzarella cheese. Top two of the bread slices with a few smashed cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. On the remaining two slices of bread, dollop and spread the ricotta cheese.

Combine the sandwich halves and place in the warmed skillet. Grill on each side until golden. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 3 minutes before slicing in half and serving.

2. Chicken Pot Pie Salad Sandwiches

A mashup of chicken salad and chicken pot pie, these sandwiches don’t have to be served as “sliders” on biscuits, but why wouldn’t you? For a super easy meal, The Cooking Channel uses rotisserie chicken and store-bought biscuits. You are, as always, invited to make your own!

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small red onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • ½ rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat shredded
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into ?-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces sugar snap peas, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 6 store-bought biscuits, split

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, thyme, a large pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to cook until the onions are softened and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high, bring the wine to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the half-and-half, and mix in the chicken. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.

Discard the thyme. Stir in the mayonnaise, parsley, celery, and snap peas, and season with salt and pepper. Divide the chicken mixture among the biscuits and serve immediately.

3. Shakshuka Open-Faced Sandwich

Shakshuka is a classic Middle Eastern dish of eggs cooked in a spiced tomato sauce, often accompanied by red peppers. Here, Stephanie Smith from 300 Sandwiches turns it into an open-faced sandwich in a new way to make an egg-and-cheese sandwich.

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 English muffins or Portuguese sandwich muffins
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 small red onion, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

In a large skillet with a lid, warm olive oil, then add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Then add green and red peppers and onions, and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add marinara sauce and stir. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

With the back of a spoon, create 4 wells in the sauce for the eggs. Crack one egg into each well, cover the skillet with the lid, and cook about 6 minutes. When the eggs are nearly done, sprinkle the cheese on top and then layer on basil leaves. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, toast muffins. On a plate, lay out a split muffin and spoon one egg with peppers and sauce on top. Repeat with other 3 and serve.

4. Bacon Mac-and-Cheese Sandwich

You can either use leftover baked mac and cheese to make this sandwich from The Food Network or you can use the recipe provided for easy mac and cheese. If you’re a Velveeta user, use Velveeta here. If Velveeta isn’t your thing (we seriously understand), use cream cheese instead. Make sure you use a really sharp cheddar.

Mac and cheese
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounce processed cheese, such as Velveeta
  • 1½ cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar
  • Splash hot sauce, or pinch of cayenne
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 cups mac and cheese
  • 8 slices country white bread, buttered
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 8 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, cooked
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch slices, optional
  • Hot sauce, optional

To cook the mac and cheese, boil the pasta according to package specifications to al dente. Drain.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stir for a couple of minutes, making sure it’s free of lumps and the flour taste is cooked out. Stir in the milk, bring to a simmer, and cook over medium-low until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the processed cheese and cheddar until melted, add the hot sauce, and fold in the macaroni. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Evenly spread the mac and cheese in an 8-inch square baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Cut the mac and cheese into 4 equal-size squares.

Preheat a griddle over medium-low heat. Place each mac and cheese square on a slice of bread, then top with 1 slice cheese and 2 slices bacon. Top with a second piece of bread and griddle the sandwich until golden and warm, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve.

5. French Onion Soup Sandwiches

Joy the Baker really likes making things that are decidedly not sandwiches into sandwiches, and she’s at it again with these soup sandwiches. If you’re really into caramelized onions, make this sandwich. If you have leftover French onion soup, put it back on the stove and cook it all the way down.

  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut in half, and sliced into ¼-inch thick semi-circles
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 scant teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons beef broth, beer, or white wine to deglaze the pan
  • ½ cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese; use more cheese to your own taste
  • 4 slices bread

Place a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil, and stir until butter is melted. Add the sliced onions all at once. Stir to coat the onions in the fat. Allow onions to cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes. Add salt, thyme, and pepper and stir. Place lid on the pan and allow to onions to cook for about 4 minutes at a time. Lower the heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Remove the lid to stir the onions occasionally. The onions will begin to brown, break down, and resemble an onion jam.

When onions are entirely browned and completely soft, add your chosen liquid to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan as the liquid evaporates. This takes about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and allow to rest while you assemble the sandwiches.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the unbuttered side, add a good sprinkling of Gruyere, top with warm onion mixture, top with more cheese, and add the final piece of sandwich bread. Repeat process in assembling the other sandwich.

Cook sandwiches over medium heat in a medium sauté pan. Flip and cook until golden on the outside and melty on the inside. Serve immediately.

6. Pot Roast Sandwiches

A little reminiscent of a French dip sandwich, these pot roast sandwiches are — you guessed it — a great way to use up leftover pot roast. They’re also a wonderful way to get through a pot roast craving without sitting down to a big Sunday dinner. These sandwiches from Oh Sweet Basil don’t have carrots and potatoes, so maybe you should make some fries on the side!

  • 1½ pound tri-tip
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup beef drippings
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, sliced
Sandwich assembly
  • Hoagie rolls or baguette
  • Butter for toasting

Place beef in a slow cooker with seasonings and butter. Cook on low for 8 hours, flipping halfway through.

Twenty minutes before the beef is done, add the tablespoon of butter to a skillet and heat over medium until melted. Add the onions and toss to coat. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 20 minutes.

When the beef is done, remove from slow cooker and transfer the drippings to a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Create a slurry with the cornstarch and cold water, whisking thoroughly, and add to the drippings. Bring back to a boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer and cook until thick, about 10 minutes.

Butter and toast the bread face-down on a skillet or in the oven. Shred the beef — really, picking it up should do this for you — and place on the bread. Top with onion and gravy. Serve.

7. Loaded Turkey Panini

This one is almost like cheating, because these days, everyone has had a Thanksgiving sandwich/gobbler/whatever you call it. This version from Pinch of Yum has more than your normal version, though, with pear slices, bacon, crisped sage, Muenster cheese, and goat cheese. This particular sandwich doesn’t have stuffing because Lindsay had already eaten all the stuffing, but yours could (and should) have stuffing.

  • 2 slices of thick, sturdy white or wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • A few slices of turkey
  • A few sage leaves
  • A few spoonfuls of cranberry sauce
  • 1 ounce goat cheese
  • 2 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 slice Muenster cheese

Heat a skillet or panini press to medium-high heat. Place the bread on a plate. Layer the ingredients between the two pieces of bread: turkey, sage, cranberry sauce, goat cheese, bacon, and Muenster cheese. Spread each piece of bread with butter on the outside.

Transfer to the hot skillet or panini press and press down gently. When the outside is golden-brown and the inside is melted and warm, remove from heat, slice, and serve.

Gourmet sandwiches for you, your family and good friends with leftovers; our twist on recycling.

Bon Appétit...

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Live well,

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Pizza Recipes You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less

Courtesy of Christine Skopec
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

Even though the exact amount of time it takes to prepare a meal and still have it qualify as speedy differs for each person, 30 minutes usually meets the criteria. It would certainly explain why Domino’s implemented its promise to have pizza on your doorstep in under a half hour in 1984. The pledge ended in 1993 after a St. Louis woman struck by a frenzied delivery driver was awarded $78 million, but the hope of getting dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes lives on.

While anybody can throw together a sandwich or scramble some eggs in this amount of time, pizza sounds undeniably more delicious. Good news, it’s completely doable if you make it yourself. These seven delectable recipes will show you how. Fried Egg and Sausage Ciabatta Breakfast Pizzas is our featured pizza recipe today. French bread pizzas were all the rage a few decades ago, then they pretty much vanished. It’s too bad, because using a crusty loaf as the base for a pizza is a genius way to make the meal really fast. Bon Appétit revived the idea with a version topped with sausage and egg. Though the recipe is intended to be for breakfast, it’s delicious any time of day.

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta bread
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces sliced pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 pound spicy or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 8 large eggs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut bread in half horizontally and transfer each half to a baking sheet. Mix onions and 6 tablespoons oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Reserve 2 tablespoons oil, then spread remaining oil over bread halves. Top with cheese.

Cook sausage over medium-high heat, breaking up with a spoon, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Divide among bread halves. Transfer to oven and bake until cheese melts and bread begins to crisp, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in each of two large skillet over medium-high heat. Crack four eggs into each. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand in skillets as pizza bakes.

Arrange four eggs over each pizza then top with remaining onion oil. Cut pizza between each egg into four pieces. Serve.

2. 20-Minute Grilled Pizza with Smoked Salmon and Mixed Greens

For those who don’t want to turn their kitchen into a sauna by cranking the oven, grilled pizza is a great alternative. The intense, direct heat also cooks pizza dough in a fraction of the time. Try it out with these salmon-topped pies from Food Network. Because the pizza is so speedy, you even have time to toss a crisp salad to serve on the side. In short, this recipe is a weeknight miracle.

  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
  • Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, roughly chopped, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed
  • All-purpose flour, for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • ½ pound smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • 1 Persian cucumber, very thinly sliced
  • 2 radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces mesculun mix

Preheat grill to medium high. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and ¼ cup dill. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.

Divide dough into two balls and roll each into an elongated crust on a floured work surface. Each one should be about 16 inches long and 6 inches wide. Transfer crusts to prepared baking sheet. Brush both sides of each crust with 2 tablespoons oil and lightly season with salt.

Oil grates and grill crusts until beginning to puff and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook just until cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Discard parchment paper and transfer crusts to bare baking sheet.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over crusts. Top with salmon, then scatter cucumbers and radishes over the top. Garnish with remaining dill.

In a large bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice, remaining oil, and a large pinch each of salt and pepper to combine. Add greens and toss to combine. Serve pizzas with salad.

3. Easy Barbecue Chicken Naan Pizza

When a bare fridge and pantry require a trip to the grocery store in order to make dinner, this barbecue chicken pie from Bowl of Delicious is a winner. With just six ingredients, you’ll be out of the store in no time. And because the crust is made with already cooked naan, this pizza will be ready in 20 minutes.

  • 2 whole-wheat naan flatbreads
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1 cup cooked shredded chicken
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake naan directly on oven racks until beginning to crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. In a small bowl, toss chicken with 2 to 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce.

Remove crisped naan from oven and spread remaining barbecue sauce over each piece. Add chicken, cheese, and onion. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven, top with cilantro, slice, and serve.

4. Blue Cheese and Bacon Pizza

Serious blue cheese fans need look no further than this white pizza from Taste and Tell. With little more than bacon and dairy, the pungent cheese really has a chance to shine. Be aware you’ll need to allow plenty of time for the pizza stone to heat up, if you’re using one. As long as you preheat the oven when you walk in the door, it shouldn’t derail your dinner plans.

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Salt, pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • ½ pound bacon, cooked and chopped
  • ⅔ cup crumbled blue cheese

Place pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 475 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, or as high as your oven will go. Allow stone to preheat for at least 30 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk in a steady stream. Continue to cook, whisking, until sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Roll pizza dough into a large round on a pizza peel or a piece of parchment paper. Evenly spread béchamel over crust, then top with bacon and blue cheese. Transfer pizza to oven and bake until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

5. Flatbread Pizza with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Whether you’re vegetarian or not, meatless meals are a smart choice for those looking to speed their way toward dinner. Take this spinach pizza from Green Valley Kitchen, for example. It’s packed with flavor thanks to three kinds of cheese and some garlicky greens, but only takes 15 minutes to prepare.

  • 2 naan flatbreads
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook, tossing occasionally, until beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook, until combined and wilted, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Set flatbreads on a baking sheet and top each with spinach. Evenly divide mozzarella, then Parmesan over the two flatbreads. Top with goat cheese, transfer to oven, and bake for 5 minutes. Switch oven to broil and broil until bubbling and beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven, slice, and serve.

6. Greek Pizza

Some people are happy to dig into a salad for dinner, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Even a fully loaded Greek version can leave you feeling peckish in an hour or two. Translating the flavors to a pizza makes for a more substantial meal without making things too complicated, so try it with this quick recipe from Cookie and Kate. If you’d like to add a little protein, toss some shredded rotisserie chicken on top.

  • 1 batch easy whole wheat pizza dough or 1 pound store-bought dough
  • ⅔ cup marinara sauce or 1 (32-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed with your hands
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups shredded low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup thinly sliced roasted red bell pepper
  • ½ cup quartered marinated artichoke hearts, halved
  • 15 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Optional garnishes
  • Torn fresh basil
  • Red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange rack in upper-third position. Add a pizza stone to rack, if using.

Divide dough in half and roll each portion into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Top dough rounds with sauce or crushed tomatoes, then top with oregano. Evenly divide mozzarella, red peppers, artichokes, olives, and feta between two crusts.

Bake pizzas, one at a time, until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbling, about 12 minutes in a regular oven, less if you’re using a stone. Transfer to a cutting board and top with basil and red pepper flakes. Slice and serve.

7. The Ultimate Meat Lover’s Pizza

Most meat lover’s pizzas really don’t live up to the name, featuring only a stingy sprinkling of protein. For true carnivores, a homemade version is definitely the way to go. With bacon, ground beef, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and ham, this version from i am a food blog more than delivers on the promise of meat. And with a total cook time of 30 minutes, it can be yours tonight.

  • 1 ball no-knead pizza dough or store-bought dough
  • ⅓ to ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 to 10 slices pepperoni
  • 1 to 2 slices ham, cut into small squares
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
  • 1 spicy Italian sausage link, removed from casing and cooked
  • ½ cup cooked ground beef
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes

Arrange rack in middle position and preheat oven as hot as it will go, usually 500 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly grease a cast-iron skillet and dust with cornmeal. Alternatively, grease and dust a baking sheet. Shape dough into a thin round and transfer to pan or baking sheet. Spread sauce over top. Top with garlic, mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, bacon, sausage, beef, and Parmesan.

Transfer to oven and bake until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbling, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with red pepper flakes.

Enjoy your fresh from the oven home-made pizzas in 30 minutes or less.

Bon Appétit...

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

6 Protein-Packed Salads That Will Actually Fill You Up

Courtesy of Emily Coyle
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

Many consumers want to eat healthy, but healthy sometimes translates to hungry, and no one wants to be hangry (hungry plus angry). That’s where hearty salads come in. Doctored with protein-packed ingredients and toppings, the carnivore-friendly salads we’re highlighting today are lean, green, and if prepared with pre-cooked meat, can even be made without turning on your oven. Pick one of these nutritious recipes and you’ll be amazed at how satisfying well-made salads really can be.

Up first is a formula from Martha Stewart for a Chef’s Salad with Turkey, Avocado, and Jack Cheese. Thanks to the protein from the pre-cooked turkey and the healthy fats from the avocado, this salad will fill you up, and it’s far from tasteless thanks to the addition of cheese, carrots, radishes, and a buttermilk-based dressing you can make completely by yourself. Whether you enjoy the greens for lunch or dinner, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the hearty yet healthy meal, and you’ll remember once again that nutritious can be delicious.

  • ⅓ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 large head Boston lettuce
  • 1 pound sliced roasted turkey breast, torn into pieces
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts or pea shoots
  • 6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into strips (1 cup)

In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, and honey; season with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside. Divide lettuce among four serving plates; top with turkey, avocado, sprouts, radishes, carrots, and cheese. Drizzle with dressing, and serve.

2. Smoky Ham and Corn Salad

Try this Smoky Ham and Corn Salad from Eating Well. Once again, you can prepare this dinner salad without turning on the oven as long as you plan ahead and pick up fresh diced ham at the store. Accompanying your ham on the bed of greens is a mixture of fresh corn, crunchy croutons, crisp tomatoes, and a light dressing. We told you greenery really can be delicious.

  • ⅓ cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups trimmed frisée, or 8 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 cup croutons, preferably whole-grain
  • ¾ cup diced ham

Whisk sour cream, vinegar, paprika, and salt in a large bowl. Add frisée (or salad greens), tomato, corn, croutons and ham; toss to coat.

3. Taco Salad

More fun healthy fuel can come in the form of Taco Salad. Try this recipe from Little Spice Jar and see how taco fillings taste just as good on top of a bed of greens as they do in carb-heavy tortillas. Skip the calories from the carbs and instead enjoy the meaty Mexican flavors on their own. You can eat your tacos with a fork while still getting your Mexican fix of beans, beef, avocado, tomatoes, and cheese.

Ground Beef
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning, homemade or packaged
  • ⅓ cup water
Taco Salad
  • 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large haas avocado, diced
  • 2 handfuls tortilla chips, crushed up
  • Catalina Dressing, as needed

For the seasoned ground beef: In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the onions for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown. Drain any excess fat. Add the taco seasoning along with the water and let the ground beef simmer for 5 minutes or until all the water has evaporated.

To assemble the taco salad:
In a large bowl, or in individual bowls, toss the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, cheddar cheese, diced avocado, and tortilla chips. Drizzle with as much or as little of the dressing as desired.

4. Grilled Steak Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

This next salad recipe from Bon Appétit requires that you turn on the grill, but trust us when we say the end result is well worth it. This Grilled Steak Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette could make a greens convert out of anyone, and it’s all thanks to the help of fresh ingredients, including corn, tomatoes, and lettuce. The perfectly seared steak doesn’t hurt either. Thanks to a punch of protein from the meat, the dish won’t leave anyone hungry.

  • 1 pound hanger, skirt, or flank steak
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more t
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, halved
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup plus 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 spring onions or 6 scallions, bulbs halved, dark-green parts discarded
  • 5½-inch-thick slices ciabatta
  • 8 cups mixed summer lettuces
  • ¾ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into ½-inch strips

Season steak with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper; set aside. Grate cut sides of tomato on coarse holes of a box grater into a medium bowl down to the skin; discard skin. Add shallot and vinegar; whisk in ¼ cup oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Toss spring onions in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill onions until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 2-inch pieces.

Grill steak until seared and cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, depending on steak’s thickness. Transfer to a cutting board. Let rest, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make croutons: Brush both sides of bread slices with remaining 4 teaspoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill bread until dark golden brown and nicely charred in spots, about 2 minutes per side. Set toast aside until cool enough to handle, then break toast into roughly 1-inch pieces.

Thinly slice steak against the grain. Toss lettuces, basil, spring onions, croutons, and some of the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add steak and toss gently to coat. Serve with remaining vinaigrette alongside.

5. Shrimp Cobb Salad

Another protein-packed salad is coming your way from Cooking Light. This recipe for Shrimp Cobb Salad yields a bed of greenery studded with perfectly seasoned shrimp, veggies, and even some bacon pieces. Because what would a cobb salad be without bacon? This salad will come together in 20 minutes or less, and it doesn’t require the use of your oven or grill.

  • 4 slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 package romaine salad
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, cut into 8 wedges

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; cut in half crosswise. Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle shrimp with paprika and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Sprinkle with ? teaspoon salt; toss to coat.

While the shrimp cooks, combine remaining ? teaspoon salt, juice, oil, and mustard in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add lettuce; toss to coat.

Arrange about 1 ½ cups lettuce mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with about 6 shrimp, ½ cup tomatoes, ¼ cup carrot, ¼ cup corn, 2 avocado wedges, and 2 bacon pieces.

6. Balsamic Chicken and White Bean Salad

Last but not least is this Balsamic Chicken and White Bean Salad from Taste.com. You’ll be getting your protein fix from your chicken and beans with these greens. In this recipe, balsamic-marinated chicken mixes with cannellini beans, feta, and rocket lettuce to yield a salad that is a fun twist on your usual standbys. The key to keeping salads interesting is continually mixing and matching ingredients, and it’s safe to say that this cool combo is a satiating home run.

  • 1⅓ pounds skinless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1¼ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup low-fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • ⅔ cup rocket leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Whisk garlic, mustard, and vinegar in a ceramic dish. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat a barbecue plate on high heat. Remove chicken from marinade. Lightly spray chicken with oil. Cook for 1 minute each side or until golden. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook chicken for 6 to 8 minutes each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Cover and stand for 5 minutes.

Slice chicken. Combine beans, tomato, feta, rocket leaves, and chicken in a large bowl. Toss gently. Spoon onto plates. Season with pepper. Serve with lemon.

Great recipes to fill up on protein without those pesky pounds.

Bon Appétit...

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cheeseburger Nachos

Courtesy of Christine Skopec
Culture CheatSheet

Hi Friends,

Cracking open a beer or shaking a cocktail at home might be one of the most relaxing ways to spend a weekend evening, but that doesn’t mean you should resort to a boring bag of pretzels for the accompanying snack. Using original recipes from our Bar Snack Saturday series, you can turn out eats that are easy, delicious, and sure to wow your pals.

Combining two winning foods to create one dish either ends deliciously or disastrously, and you never really know until you try. For some reason, we were pretty confident the marriage between nachos and a cheeseburger would work. We were correct.

About this recipe...

Food mashups are known for being over the top, criminally delicious, and a ton of work. We wanted to make something that kept the cooking firmly in the easy category while still delivering on the first two promises because making food for your friends shouldn’t be stressful. We managed to achieve our goal by cooking a simple onion and beef topping and using the standard burger fixings instead of making a bunch of condiments from scratch.

Start by cooking the onions in a bit of oil. Adding this one extra ingredient to the meat delivers a surprising dose of flavor without the harsh bite you run into when using raw onion. Once they’re softened and browned around the edges, add the meat along with a hefty amount of salt and pepper. Because ingredients are kept to a minimum, the meat mixture needs to be really well seasoned.

As with a regular burger, use beef that contains 20% fat. It has tons of flavor and stays really juicy, even when fully cooked. That’s really important for these nachos because the meat will get heated again in the oven. Once your meat is nicely browned, just use a few paper towels to soak up the extra grease, then you’re ready to build.

Most nacho recipes go wrong by layering all of the chips, all of the meat, then all of the cheese. You wind up with a handful of great bites, but then a bunch of naked chips are left on the bottom. The solution is as simple as doing it twice. Lay out half of the chips, top with half the meat, sprinkle with half the cheese, then repeat. And speaking of cheese, we went with a smoked cheddar here to help recreate some of that grill-like flavor.

The nachos need about 10 minutes to bake, then things go pretty fast. As soon as the dish comes out of the oven, drizzle the entire tray with plenty of ketchup, mustard, and mayo that’s been thinned with a bit of water. You can get as fancy with the condiments as you like, but we stuck with basic ketchup and yellow mustard. Top with some chopped dill pickles, then dig in as soon as your fingers can tolerate the heat. Keep the napkins handy.

Because none of the flavors in this recipe dominate, it’s incredibly flexible as far as beverage pairings go. If you’re a wine drinker, consider combating the salt and fat with a dry, sparkling white wine. Skip the Champagne, though. Opt for something less expensive like Cava. The beef and toppings also partner really well with red wines. Serious Eats recommended a bold, fruity Zinfandel to stand up to burgers with ketchup, onions, and pickles.

Both nachos and burgers go well with a variety of beers, so you have a lot of options here as well. CraftBeer recommended reaching for an IPA. Be open-minded, though. A group of beverage professionals suggested sour beers, pilsners, and even cider in a story by Eater Boston.

If you’d prefer a cocktail, the Washingtonian said a margarita made with mezcal helps echo the grilled flavors of a burger, which works equally as well for the smoked cheddar we used. Need a recipe? Try this simple one from Gimme Some Oven. You can also play off the idea of a summer cookout by making a drink featuring iced tea and whiskey.

Cheeseburger Nachos

Exercising restraint when cooking is usually a good idea, but you can honestly add any other toppings you’d like to these nachos. Pickled jalapeños, coleslaw, diced tomatoes, and sweet relish would all be pretty at home. This recipe makes enough for 4 to 6 people.

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ pound 80% lean ground beef
  • 6 ounces tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise thinned with 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ cup chopped dill pickles

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onion and season with salt. Cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add beef and season generously with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, occasionally breaking meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and drain off fat.

On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spread half the chips in an even layer. Top with half the beef mixture, then half of the cheese. Repeat layers once more, transfer to the oven, and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes.

Drizzle nachos with ketchup, mustard, and thinned mayo. Sprinkle chopped pickles over top and serve immediately.

Cheeseburgers and nachos, both really delicious but together, even better!

Bon Appétit...

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Monday, March 20, 2017

1st Day of Spring...

Courtesy of Allison Norton

Hi Friends,

Spring is the most hopeful season of the year. Along with the warmer days and budding blooms that symbolize spring also come the hopes of dining outdoors, and the exciting feeling of trying new activities. Be an advocate of making seasonal to-do lists in order to keep life interesting. Here are a few ideas that will have you ready to embrace any adventure that comes your way before Labor Day. Without further ado, here are 10 Spring adventures that should go on your Spring bucket list…

10 Things to Try This Spring

1. Go to an outdoor music festival.
In the past few years, I have come to associate the month of April with Coachella. If you have never been, there is no better time to go than now (the lineup this year is amazing!). And if you've been before…do I even have to convince you? For those of you who don't live in Southern California, be sure to look into Mile High Music Festival, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, which are all in the summer.

2. Go on an impulsive weekend road trip.
The best kinds of road trips are the ones that happen in a spur of the moment decision. Pick a place you have always wanted to visit (I'm dying to go to Big Sur), grab your best friend or boyfriend, and just make it happen. Be sure to bring a cool camera to take snapshots along the way.

3. Create a cozy patio set up for springtime entertaining.
My apartment has a darling little back patio that is just begging to be used for an al fresco dinner party. This spring, I vow to add outdoor furniture, twinkle lights, and potted succulents to make the space inviting and useful. If you have a patio, I encourage you to do the same!

4. Springify your closet.
There's nothing like a bit of spring-cleaning to help get you excited for new warm-weather wardrobe staples. Donate items you haven't worn in a while, and reorganize the clothing and accessories you plan to keep for a fresh perspective. It will give you a good idea of what to add to add to your spring shopping list.

5. Hike to the highest spot in town.
Los Angeles has some pretty amazing hiking spots that are especially enjoyable on a gorgeous spring day. This season, take advantage of getting a good workout and enjoying the view by hiking to the highest spot in your town. You might even see your city in a whole new light.

6. Volunteer once a week.
Volunteering once a week this spring (and beyond!) is so rewarding, and it will enrich your life. I highly recommend researching a food bank, soup kitchen, or inner city school closest to you and lending a hand. It doesn't even need to be once a week-even going once a month will make a difference, and it will make you feel good in return.

7. Learn how to nurture.
Practice cultivating something this spring… Whether that means planting an herb garden, bringing home your first goldfish, or buying a puppy, learning to take care of something else will give you a broadened outlook on life.

8. Learn how to bake a pie.
I've always wanted to learn how to bake a pie from scratch, and this season I've decided to make it happen. Bake a pie with seasonal spring fruits like rhubarb, strawberries, or cherries.

9. Add a flea market addition to your home.
While you may be quite familiar with the flea markets in your area, a vintage splurge might not happen every time you make the trip. Promise yourself one special purchase at your local flea market that you will love in your home. It will refresh your décor for the changing seasons and get you excited about adding more new pieces in the future.

10. Add a few sun kissed strands to your hair.
In my opinion, one of the best parts about spring is that it leads into summer! Get your tresses beach-ready by adding in a few highlights. If your hair is chestnut brown, throw some golden strands into the mix. If you're a redhead, try a bit of strawberry blonde. And if you have golden locks, bright blonde is the way to go.

These are just a few ideas to get your started, compliments of Allison Norton but if you might also be inspired by Malavika Suresh with Spring Inspiration.

Spring Inspiration: Things to do this spring...

1. Go on a detox/cleanse.

2. Spring clean your home.

3. Have a yard sale (or an e-bay sale) to get rid of what you don't need anymore.

4. Rearrange the furniture in your home. Feng Shui up your life and bring in a newer and fresher energy.

5. Have fresh flowers in your home.

6. Take care of your legs (it's time to get those bad boys out!) and toes. Get pedicures and manicures often.

7. Update your Spring/Summer wardrobe.

8. Learn some new hairstyles.

9. Detail your car.

10. Start a brand new project.

11. Plan a summer trip.

12. Start a reading list.

13. Get a new hair style.

14. Take more walks in beautiful places.

15. Ride your bicycle.

16. Have a picnic.

17. Start running again.

18. Drink more water.

19. Wear lighter colours.

20. Start an outdoor hobby.

Both list are great, but whatever you decide to do this Spring have fun with family and friends...

Check back for more great ideas and enjoy this Spring from your friends at Interior Design!

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Live well,