Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad with Mangoes

Chicken and mango work really well together. I was happily surprised with this delicious and colorful salad.
This appealing salad packs many vitamins and nutrients. Mangoes in particular are packed with powerful cancer fighting agents. Baby spinach and grape tomatoes add extra flavor as well as extra antioxidants. And of course........this recipe calls for a little bit of cheese! Feta! (Recipe source: Whole Foods)


3 packed cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice baby spinach into thin strips and transfer to a large bowl. Add tomatoes, chicken, feta and mango.

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and honey. Serve with salad!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fish Tacos

This past spring we spent 9 days in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on a quest for the best fish taco. Chris and I tried all the typical tourists places, local spots, and street vendors. I was obsessed, and we came home with the determination to re-create our own version of the fish taco. After making it a few times, this recipe is really tasty & a treat to make!


1 tbsp of olive oil (or you can use an olive oil misto, my new favorite kitchen tool)
1 tsp of minced garlic
2 tbsp of lime juice
1/2 tsp of salt
3 pinches of cayenne pepper
2-4 Whole Wheat Tortillas
2 pieces of Tilapia (Halibut or Cod could also be used)
6 oz of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
6 oz of Shredded Monterrey Jack Jalapeno Cheese
2 cups of Mango Salsa (from a previous post)

You could make this recipe healthier by omitting the cheese, but obviously for us that was not an option! We shredded a mixture of 2 cheeses we had in the fridge - 2% Sharp Cheddar Cheese, and Monterrey Jack with Jalapeno Cheese (to give it some heat).

Heat a large skillet with the olive oil and garlic. Add the two pieces of fish and season with lime juice, salt & cayenne pepper. Cook until the fish starts to turn white, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
While the fish is cooking, heat up the tortillas in the oven (or toaster oven). Add desired amount of cheese to the tortillas as a base and then add the sauteed fish. Top with fresh mango salsa.

To complete the meal, serve with a couple of Corona's & enjoy!!!!!!

Mango Salsa

Mango's are fun and a delicious treat in the summer. This salsa is a healthy, fresh take on the traditional tomato-based salsa. Using a mango adds a vibrant, sweet taste to the salsa and it is complimented by the heat of a jalapeno pepper. We used this recipe to make fish tacos, but it is also great on its own as a dip with nachos!

This recipe is best prepared a couple days ahead of time so the flavors can really settle.

Mango Salsa Ingredients

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 Jalapeño chile, minced (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste if desired)
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup of frozen corn
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Chill for a day or two.

Here is a picture of my husband helping me cut up the jalapeño pepper! He is super cute, always wanting to help me out in the kitchen!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Viet Grilled Chicken

This recipe is absolutely delicious, and should be included in everyone's marinade files. We have tried baking chicken coated with this marinade before, but I advise to grill the chicken - the direct heat really brings out the flavor. (Recipe source: The Washington Post, July 07)


1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Canola or other neutral oil (I used vegatable oil this time)
2 pounds of chicken

In a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken, combine all ingredients except the chicken and mix well. Add chicken and use your fingers to massage marinade into the meat, distributing the seasonings as evenly as possible. Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Place chicken on grill rack and cook, turning every five minutes, until browned on both sides. Enjoy!!!

Just for fun, here is a picture of me eating my first spring roll in Vietnam, which would taste absolutely delicious with the chicken!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Whitewater Rafting

Last weekend my parents, Jo & Walt, flew down to Charlotte to see our new place and check out the area. My Mom and I were both researching the area to see if there were any interesting things we all could go check out together. In addition to several museums and the NASCAR Hall of Fame (no thank you), we discovered that the US National Whitewater Center is just 15 minutes from our house! My parents completely shocked Chris and I when they said they wanted to go - rafting. "Way back when" they used to go on lots of whitewater rafting trips when they were younger and were interested in giving it another try.

I have to admit I was very skeptical when my highly risk-adverse mom said she wanted to take on class four rapids. Turns out I was more of a Nervous Nelly when it came to it!!!!!

The US National Whitewater Rafting Center is an enormous outdoor recreation center that not only has rafting but has kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking. The USNWRC is also the official Olympic training site for whitewater slalom racing.This fall their "mega zip" zip line is promised to be open (sounds cool).

Below you can't even see Chris and I, as we are completely submerged under a class 4 rapid at the front of the boat.

This place totally had our friend "Steve" written all over it. I also can see lots of our other friends enjoying this place when they come to visit! If my Mom can whitewater raft, you can too! (Awesome job Mom :)

It was a perfect way to do something adventurous over the weekend, we ended up having a blast & can't wait to go back again!!!!!!!!!!!

Fresh Herbs from the Garden

One of the biggest things I have been looking forward to setting up here in Charlotte is a garden! Our apartment in Charlottesville was nice, but it unfortunately did not have any outdoor space.

It's a small start, but I am really looking forward to cooking with these fresh herbs. The possibilities are endless!

Herbs I planted:

Italian Parsley
Baby Tomatoes

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jess' Watermelon Summer Smoothie

Yesterday was my husband's first day at the big new job. I was so excited and nervous for him, that I wanted to make him a special treat to come home to. For desert last night I used up some leftover watermelon from the weekend to make us some delicious, and very refreshing summer watermelon drinks!!! Watermelon not only essential for summer, but very good for you. It contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and numerous antioxidants.

This drink is easy enough to make for just yourself, or mix a larger batch when entertaining.


3 cups of sliced seedless watermelon
1 container of Strawberry Greek Yogurt
1 packet of Splenda
2 cups of ice
3-4 large mint leaves


Add watermelon, greek yogurt, ice and mint to a blender and process till smooth! Garnish with additional mint leaves, if desired. Serve immediately.

This also could easily be turned into an "adult beverage"! Omit the yogurt, & add rum and lemonade for a cool mojito, vodka with lemon for a refreshing slush, or (my favorite), champagne to blended watermelon juice for a classy cocktail!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


One of the biggest benefits of moving to North Carolina is that we now live in the furniture capital of the US. Which can come quite handy when you throw out most of furniture you own before you move (adios old Target furniture!).

Last Saturday we made the one hour drive up to High Point, NC to visit the world famous Furnitureland South. This place is ENORMOUS with 3,000,000 square feet of showrooms. Every single type of furniture & designer are available, all at a huge discount. I was never into furniture, but living on cheap Ikea, Walmart & Target stuff since college started to get old 2 years ago. I found myself started admiring furniture in homes of friends & family that was obviously of better quality. The old falling apart stuff had to go!

(Pictured above, Chris standing in front of the famous 85-foot tall Highboy)

So after spending 5 hours (including a stop at the Starbucks which is conveniently located about halfway through the building) we happily left with an order for a sweet new bedroom set!! Only a couple of weeks till delivery....

Creamy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

I have always wanted to do a stuffed mushroom dish. It wasn't until recently that we both started to eat them. Now we can't get enough of the meaty texture and flavor. (Also great & very healthy with breakfast in egg whites with onion and lean turkey!)

The stuffed mushrooms were super easy to make and tasted great! Though I think I used a tad too much crushed red pepper because the dish came out quite spicy, but my husband loved it. We really enjoyed the mushroom flavor and the stuffing was creamy and tasty. The golden brown bread crumb topping added a nice crispy contrast in texture.

1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces low fat cream cheese
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
2 large portabella mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon light butter
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 cup chicken (cooked and shredded)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Mix in the cream cheese, white wine and red pepper flakes. Cook until it thickens.
3. Set aside.
4. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them.
5. Melt the butter in a pan.
6. Add the onion and saute until until tender, about 5 minutes.
7. Add the garlic and saute, about 1 minute.
8. Add the chopped mushroom stems and chicken and cook for 5 minutes.
9. Add the cream sauce to the chicken and mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Pour the filling into the mushroom tops and sprinkle the bread crumbs on.
11. Broil until golden brown, about 8-14 minutes.

(Pictured Above: Me being cheesy of course, posing for picture while cooking up the filling)


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cheddar is Always Better

We're unpacked! Well, mostly. One of the best things of unpacking is unwrapping all the pretty gifts we have been so fortunate to receive. Chris and I decided to celebrate our unpacking with a a piece of sharp cheddar (and the finest bubbly from Target)!

*Note, the cheese platter was a gift from my brother & beautiful sister-in-law. How cute is it?

Simple post, but simply delicious!