Game Day Eats

With football season in full swing, it’s only fitting that I share some game day fare.  In my house, we’re off to a great start with Clemson’s win over Georgia last week, our cupcake victory today, and tomorrow we’ll be cheering for the Steelers.

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When it comes to game day eats the words sweet, spicy, and gooey come to my mind.  I discovered this amazing little peachy, sweet onion hot sauce at my favorite local taco joint, The Taco Spot.  It’s the perfect addition to their fish tacos.  Seriously life changing.  I know that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s that good.  Fish tacos aren’t complete without this sauce.

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It’s definitely got a slow burn that catches up with you right about the time you start to say, “It isn’t THAT hot,” but you keep going back for more.  It burns so good.  It’s a wee bit pricey to buy by the bottle, so I decided to try my hand at replicating.  Fortunately for them, I didn’t quite get it right, but I did think my version was good enough to share with you.

I made peeling the peaches easier by scoring the bottom of the peaches, simmering water for about a minute, and then plunging them into ice water.

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While it didn’t taste exactly like what I was going for, it was definitely sweet, spicy, gooey and pretty darn tasty.  So what could you use this for? Well just about anything!  Use it as a dip for grilled chicken bites, slather it on subs, and drizzle it on tacos, of course!  Today I made some sliders with some grilled portobello mushrooms marinated in smoky cumin and Worcestershire sauce, layered some broccoli slaw, and drizzled on this peachy goodness.

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Between this sauce, Clemson’s victory, and South Carolina’s demise it was a pretty great day!

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Enjoy!

Peachy Sweet Onion Hot Sauce

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Yields: 5 ½ cups

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet onions, sliced

½ cup sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

4 medium peaches, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons green tabasco (milder than regular tabasco)

1/3 cup cider vinegar

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

3 cups water

Directions:

  1. Heat a medium-large stockpot over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add sliced onions and sauté until translucent and slightly turning brown (about 7-10 minutes)
  2. Add sugar, salt, and tomato paste.  Sauté for a minute or two.  Stir in peaches, green tabasco, cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and water and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Using a stick blender, blend sauce until smooth and no chunks remain.  If using a regular blender, transfer liquid using a ladle and blend in batches.
  4. Transfer to serving dish or store in refrigerator for up to a week.  Alternatively, this sauce can be stored in freezer or canned for later use.

Per 2 tablespoons:

22 calories, 5 grams carbohydrate (4 grams sugar), 0 grams fat, 0 grams protein, 55 mg sodium

A Virtual Birthday Dinner

Today is my mom’s birthday. Unfortunately, she lives many hours away in Pittsburgh, so I’m not usually able to be with her on her birthday. But if she was here, I would certainly make her dinner.   Of course I would make her favorite food, which happens to be anything with shrimp in it.

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When my parents ran their restaurant years ago, the menu didn’t have many seafood options.  So when Dad ran shrimp specials, he would promise my mother to keep a portion off the side for her.   Sometimes we would run out of those specials, but Mom always got her portion at the end of the night.

Lucky for her and all her fellow shellfish lovers, shrimp is a great lean, low-fat protein source.  Sure, shellfish has a moderate amount of cholesterol with about 172 mg per 4 oz. serving, which is a little over half the daily maximum suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.  Cholesterol found in food doesn’t have as much of an impact on our blood cholesterol as we once thought.  The amount of fat and carbohydrates we consume tends to have more impact on our blood cholesterol numbers, so don’t give up your shellfish for the sake of your cholesterol.

I apologize for the less-than-great photo as it isn’t the most photogenic, but it does taste good.  It’s really easy to adapt by changing up the vegetables.  It would be excellent served over spaghetti squash or zucchini instead of pasta noodles to reduce calories and increase vitamins and minerals.  It would also make a great “Meatless Monday” by skipping the shrimp altogether.  But when I make this for Mom the next time she visits, I’ll be sure to include the shrimp.  Happy birthday, Mom!

Enjoy!

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Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Pasta with Shrimp

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Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz. linguine (half of regular package)

1 pound raw shrimp, cleaned and shell removed

Salt + pepper, to taste

2 tsp. olive oil, divided

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 jar (6.5 oz) marinated artichoke quarters, drained, chopped

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

½ cup low-sodium chicken stock

4 cups fresh spinach, chopped

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Cook linguine according to package directions.
  2. Season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add 1 tsp. of oil over medium heat.  Sauté shrimp in oil until pink and each is close to touching.* Transfer shrimp onto plate and set aside.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend ricotta cheese and chicken stock.
  4. Heat 1 tsp. of oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped garlic and artichoke.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add ricotta sauce to skillet.
  5. Add chopped raw spinach and shrimp.  Heat through until spinach wilts.  Serve over linguine and top with parmesan cheese.

*I usually take shrimp off when they’re almost done, but not quite. They’ll continue cooking after you take them out of the pan and in this recipe you’ll be adding them back to the pan to reheat, which will help cook them as well.

 

Nutrition per serving:

470 calories

48 grams carbohydrates

12 grams fat

41 grams protein

525 mg sodium

Bumper Crop

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Summer feels like it’s almost over even though here in Charleston I’ll still be running my air conditioning until at least October.  But as it winds down, it always seems like there’s a surplus of zucchini lying around.  Last year when I moved from upstate South Carolina to Charleston, I had to leave my heirloom vegetable garden behind.  I moved from a three bedroom house with a yard to a one bedroom apartment with no outdoor space for plants whatsoever; let’s just say it’s been an adjustment.  Funny thing is I never grew zucchini in my garden, but I always had some around because there is always someone around who grew too much.

I love zucchini, but it’s easy to get stuck making it the same old way.  Because of its neutral flavor, it can go with just about anything.  I kind of feel like Bubba would feel the same way about zucchini as he does shrimp.

My dad was telling me a few weeks ago about this grilled potato salad that he makes at work.  He gave me the general idea of how he makes it, so I came up with a few tweaks to make it a little healthier.  Potatoes get a bad rap for being higher in calories than other vegetables, but by adding a non-starchy vegetable, like zucchini, you can pump up nutrition without adding many calories.  I love this recipe for two reasons.  One you can use up that bumper crop of zucchini you might have lying around.  And two, it can satisfy both sides of the potato salad divide.  There are those that love vinegar-based, German style potato salad and those who love their creamy, mayo based potato salad.  If you’re in the former, prepare to step 4 and garnish with green onions.  This style will save you 30 calories per serving.  If you’re more into the creamy style, this recipe still only clocks in at 220 calories per serving.  Feel free to add more zucchini if you like.  It would make a perfect addition to any Labor Day celebration!

Enjoy!

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Grilled Potato Salad Skewers with Zucchini

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Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 lb. of Yukon gold potatoes, diced in 1 ½ inch cubes

½ lb. zucchini (about 1 medium), diced in 1 ½ inch cubes

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

1 tsp. celery salt

1 tsp. honey

1 ½ tsp. dried dill

2 tsp. whole grain or Dijon mustard

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tbsp. fat-free milk

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

2 stalks green onions, white and green parts, chopped

Directions:

  1. If using wooden skewers, soak skewers in water for at least 15-30 minutes.
  2. Boil potatoes in pot of water for 10-15 minutes or until they can easily be pierced by fork but not mushy. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, celery salt, honey, dried dill, and mustard together in a bowl. While whisking, slowly add olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Place softened potatoes and raw zucchini cubes in shallow pan or large resealable bag and add vinaigrette mixture on top. Mix together and allow to marinate at least 15 minutes in refrigerator. Meanwhile, preheat grill to 350ºF or grill pan over stovetop to medium-high heat.
  4. Thread vegetables onto wooden or metal skewers, alternating between potato and zucchini slices. Grill each skewer for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until dark grill marks appear. Place on serving dish and set aside.*
  5. Whisk mayonnaise and fat-free milk together.  Drizzle skewers with mayonnaise sauce. Garnish with hard-boiled egg and green onions.  Serve immediately.

Per serving (1/6 of recipe):

220 calories

4 grams protein

12 grams fat

27 grams carbohydrate

238 mg sodium

Tea Grahams

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I’ve been rolling a few ideas around in my head of what my first post should be for this blog.  I’m legendary for being indecisive with these types of things.  But when I woke up this morning to drizzling rain, I caught the baking bug.  I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I think rainy weather and baking go hand-in-hand.  My husband has been on a graham cracker kick lately.  He’s been having a couple of graham crackers after dinner for dessert, so I thought some sort of whole grain crunchy, snap cookie would be nice, especially since we ran out last night.

Then I thought about my favorite shortbread cookie recipe that has little flecks of loose leaf tea running throughout.  I love the simplicity of them, but they’re certainly not a cookie to be eaten regularly since shortbread requires at least two stick of butter. So, I combined the two ideas together: whole grain, crunchy cookie + loose leaf tea.

I chose whole leaf chai tea for this recipe, but you could use any black tea you desire.  If you only have tea bags, make sure that the tea is whole leaf.  Two bags of whole leaf tea should yield around 1 tablespoon.  Ground teas tend to be bitter and inferior quality.  The shortbread recipe uses Earl Grey, which would be nice as well.  If you’re out of tea, consider using an aromatic spice like powdered ginger or even Chinese Five Spice, which is one of my favorites.  I would start by using 1 tsp. of the spice since spices like that can be pretty potent.  You can always add more next time.

I trimmed the edges of the end cookies, but they would make an excellent add-in for some Greek yogurt, especially if you can find a lemon or lime flavor.

They’ve got a snap and crunch to them, so they’re great for dunking.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Tea Grahams

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt

1 tablespoon loose-leaf chai tea

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons canola oil (or any other neutral flavored oil of choice)

3 tablespoons of water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pulse together both flours, baking soda, salt, tea, and granulated sugar in food processor until well distributed.
  3. Add molasses, vanilla extract, oil, and water and pulse until crumbly, but holds together when pressed between fingers.
  4. Dump mixture on to baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press down mixture into a rectangle on to sheet with your fingers as you would a graham cracker crust.  If needed, use rolling pin or a smooth drinking glass to evenly flatten dough.
  5. Use pizza cutter or knife to score into 16 rectangle cookies.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Trim edges if desired. Cool and enjoy!

Yield: 16 cookies

Nutrition per cookie:

80 calories, 13 grams total carbohydrate (4 grams sugar), 3 grams fat, 2 grams protein, 42 mg sodium