Archive for January, 2012

January 30, 2012

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

If you are like me (and many other women out there), you have come to love Pinterest. It is such a simple concept with so many possibilities. Pinterest has given me the ability to easy keep track of things I find online and discover lots of new ideas! This recipe came to me through this wonderful new community. Read the original blog post here. I made a few changes and I think I will make a few more next time I try this. Sweet potatoes are really good for you and super yummy too. Sometimes it is fun to put a twist on an old favorite; I thought these were awesome. I don’t really think you have to parboil them, so I would just start by roasting them instead. After being boiled, they got just a little too soft and squished a little too much (although that could just be me being overzealous.) I also added a bit more spice to balance out the sugar in this recipe since the potatoes are sweet on their own. This was amazing with some simple roast chicken, try it out! I will update you when I try these again.


Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 quarts water

1-2 tablespoons melted butter

1-2 tablespoons olive oil


1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Meat Magic

10 grinds black pepper – coarse

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice about 1 & ¼ inches thick.

Add ½ teaspoon salt to water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add potato slices and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until somewhat softened. Remove carefully to a wire rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Blend the topping ingredients together really well with a fork, making sure to get the sugar completely incorporated.

Line a large, heavy sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Using a flat bottomed bowl, slightly mash each potato slice, taking care that they stay intact. Drizzle each slice with a mixture of the butter and oil and sprinkle evenly with ½ of the topping mixture. Make sure you avoid getting the topping on the sheet between the slices if possible – it will burn and smoke before the potatoes are done.

Gently turn over each slice, drizzle with the remaining butter/oil mixture and sprinkle with the remaining seasonings. (I didn’t think these needed that much fat. To keep it lighter, brush lightly with melted butter for the flavor or spray with cooking spray.) Roast at 375° for 20 minutes, carefully flip each slice and return to oven for about 10 minutes more.

Serve hot. YUMMY!!

January 23, 2012

Shrimp Cocktail

It had never occurred to me to make shrimp cocktail at home. It is one of those things that you buy prepared for a quick and easy appetizer or meal that requires little to no prep. A sale on some shell-on shrimp and a request by Ali changed my mind. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this was and the result was pretty great. This is really just like making one of my favorite things to make: stock. The shrimp ended up very tender and flavorful. This is one I may have to play with a little more and try out making cocktail sauce as well. We used the 365 brand sauce from Whole Foods. It was fine, I would give it a solid C, but there are better jarred options out there. One of the surprising parts of this recipe for me was the lovely stock created by draining the boiling liquid. That will be in the freezer ready for something fun soon! We served these with a lovely salad and some garlic toast. Overall, a satisfying and healthy meal!



Shrimp Cocktail

10 cups cold water

1 large onion, halved

2 carrots, quartered

2 stalks of celery

1 head garlic, halved

1 lemon, halved

1/2 bunch parsley

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 pound medium or large shrimp, in the shell, split & deveined, rinsed

Cocktail Sauce

Lemon wedges


Put the water, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, lemon, parsley, thyme, salt and bay leaves in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

(Ok, so we were missing a few veggies, so I spiced things up a bit with some dried herbs.) Lower the heat to a simmer, set a cover on top slightly ajar, and cook for 10 to 30 minutes until fragrant. Drop the shrimp into the liquid and turn off the heat after 10 seconds.

Cook the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until they curl and turn pink, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for medium shrimp, 3 minutes for large ones. Drain and cool to room temperature. Peel the shrimp leaving the tails on. Refrigerate if not serving right away.

To serve put the cocktail sauce in a medium bowl and surround with the shrimp, or loop the shrimp over the edge of an individual cocktail glass and top with the sauce. Garnish with the lemon and serve.

P.S. Those are my grandmother’s shrimp cocktail glasses, yep just for this dish. I love that the vintage glassware still gets used in the family!

January 10, 2012

Salmon with Zucchini Mixed Green Salad

Every year seems to have a cycle. We enjoy the holidays by indulging on some of our favorite foods, not to mention lots of party food. Then you get to good old January and feel the need to set yourself right again. I am trying to do that with more veggies and protein and less carbs and alcohol. This is a great salad to get you on the right track! I like to experiment with textures and colors to make salads more interesting. It makes salad feel like a gourmet meal and will leave you satisfied. I served salmon here, but you could use any kind of protein you like. I especially try to incorporate fish when I find a special; here in Colorado, fish can be expensive and is not always the best quality. Try this one out, the warm zucchini is a great compliment to the freshness of the salad! Do you have any ideas for going healthier this month?


Salmon with Zucchini Mixed Green Salad

4 Cups mixed green salad mix

3 Zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

2 Carrots, shredded

1 Tomato, cubed

½ Avocado, cubed

1 Can sliced hearts of palm

1 oz. Goat cheese, crumbled

¼ Cup Vinaigrette (3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, 1 T Dijon mustard, 1 clove crushed and peeled garlic, salt and pepper)

1 lb. Salmon

1/3 Cup Marinade (4 T each citrus seasoning, orange juice and apple cider vinegar; 2 T each soy sauce and lime juice, olive oil)


Combine all the marinade ingredients in a shallow dish and add the fish. Allow to marinade 1 hour to overnight turning several times.

Preheat your broiler. Place the zucchini on a lightly greased sheet pan. Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Broil for about 5-7 minutes until golden (although I like them well done.) Wash and dry the vegetables and combine in a large bowl. Add the hearts of palm and goat cheese.

Combine vinaigrette ingredients in an airtight container and shake well.

Place the fish under the broiler for about 15 min (keep a close eye on anything you broil as it can burn quickly.) Remove the garlic then toss the salad with the desired amount of salad dressing.

Top with the zucchini and fish.


January 8, 2012

Happy Snowy Sunday

Happy snowy Sunday from Colorado! I hope you are having a fabulous day. I will be enjoying my Sunday with church, brunch and enjoying our beautiful blue skies.



January 2, 2012

Bowl Game Food: Soft Pretzels

This holiday season was so confusing. All the holidays on the weekends, and the Rose Bowl game on the 2nd. What to make? Well, it felt like we should’ve made chili, but that didn’t happen.

Luckily, there’s almost always white flour in the house. Sorry, Atkins, South Beach, Dukan and Boulder, in general. Can’t seem to make it without gluten.

Been searching for a good Soft Pretzel recipe. I’ve tried several but don’t like butter in the dough. Started with King Arthur but thought it should be boiled like bagels. Anyway, here’s what we came up with. I was pretty happy with it.



Soft Pretzels

Inspired by King Arthur Flour’s Hot Buttered Pretzels

2 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons regular instant yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water*
8 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

*Use more water in the winter (or in a dry climate like Colorado), the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Place all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat till well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, till it’s soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 500°F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with vegetable oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each).

Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel.

Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, bring 8 cups of water plus the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn’t, it’ll make your pretzels splotchy. Gently place 1-2 pretzels at a time in the boiling water for about 1 minute per side to set the dough.

Carefully remove from the pot. A chopstick works well to turn the pretzels, but a spatula works best to remove from the water.

Brush the pretzels with the melted butter. Sprinkle them lightly with pretzel salt (you can use kosher, but the pretzel salt really does make a BIG difference.) Keep brushing the butter on until you’ve used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that’s what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Bake the pretzels for 8 to 12 minutes, or until they’re golden brown, reversing the baking sheets halfway through.

Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave. Yield: 8 pretzels.

January 1, 2012

Welcome 2012!

What a year 2011 was! It seems that the years go by faster and faster. Today is not only the day we celebrate a new year and all its possibilities, but it is also the 1 year anniversary for Zest! Thank you all for following our journey. We have learned a lot and have loved sharing with you. We are looking forward to more fun this year! Happy Birthday to Zest and Happy New Year to you!!


P.S. I was reading one of my favorite blogs, COCOCOZY, and I loved her resolution post. I am not really one for resolutions; goals, yes — resolutions, no. However, I may be adopting Coco’s resolution from last year: to be brave. What about you, any good resolutions for this year? ❤

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