July 30, 2014

July 28, 2014

Meatless Monday: Pea, Asapargus, & Garlic Soup

Pea, Asparagus, & Garlic Soup | Hard Parade
Peas are my favorite vegetable. When I was younger, I would open a can of peas, heat them up on the stove, salt them, and eat them with a spoon. If there's a menu item that features peas, I'm ordering it. If I find a recipe that is pea-centric, I'm makin' it. I'm the only one who reaches for the pea dish on Thanksgiving, but my mom makes them anyways because she knows I'll finish them regardless.

One of the reasons I like summer (and there are only a few - I'm a cold-weather girl) is the availability of delicious, sweet, fresh peas. While I certainly don't need a reason to eat a pound of them, this pea soup is another great way to get the starchy little seeds in my belly. It's topped with fresh pea shoots, which are crunchy and add flavor to mostly anything - I like adding them to my sandwiches. In my neck of the woods, they're a bit hard to find, so if you come up short, you can always leave them out but you can usually find them at Trader Joe's. 

Pea, Asapargus, & Garlic Soup
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves 4
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh peas (or frozen if you can't find fresh)
  • 1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cucumber
  • 2 1/2 cups ice water
  • 1 cup torn bread (I used whole grain, it's to give it some thickness - choose what you'd like!)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh pea shoots (for garnish)
  • More olive oil, for drizzling
  • Hot sauce, for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Cook the peas and asparagus in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking process. Set aside 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup asparagus. 
  • Combine the remaining peas and asparagus, ice water, cucumber, bread, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and garlic in a blender, processing until smooth. (I had to do this in batches). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Ladle about 1 1/2 cups soup into each of the 4 bowls and garnish with the set aside peas and asparagus. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and the fresh pea shoots. Drizzle olive oil and hot sauce and dig in!
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July 25, 2014

Steakhouse Salad Pizza

Steakhouse Salad Pizza | Hard Parade
Steakhouse Salad Pizza | Hard Parade
A new thing in our house has been making pizza on Fridays so I figured it was about time I welcome you, my readers (hello, are there any of you out there?) into our tradition! I can eat pizza day or night, seven days a week, but it's hard to keep it healthy when you're ordering in - and when you're eating pizza every single day. By making our own pizzas, it makes pizza night a special event to which I can look forward and I can control my portion sizes as well as any extra fatty ingredients I'm piling onto my pie.

This pizza has all the components of a classic steakhouse salad - lettuce, steak, blue cheese. While most of us know (I think) that steak and blue cheese are a match made in heaven, that point is really punctuated when you marry them on top of a pizza. I've used refrigerated fresh dough, dough from one of those pop-open tubes, and ready-made crusts like Boboli - I'd love to make my own from scratch but Fridays after a long work week don't usually lend themselves to getting down and dirty with the flour.

By the way - this recipe is effortless and will have you maowing down on 'za in no time.
Steak Salad Pizza
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves 6 (unless you are a huge pizza lover in which case it serves 1...or 2)
  • 1 16-oz. pizza crust
    • Like I said above, it's really up to you how you want to go about crusting
  • 8 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 4-oz. beef tenderloin steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2-oz. crumbled blue cheese (I used reduced-fat)
Steakhouse Salad Pizza | Hard Parade
  • Preheat oven to 425f (or as directed on chosen crust label). Combine minced garlic and 6 tsp olive oil in a bowl and brush over the crust. Bake for about 10 minutes
  • While the crust is baking, season the steaks with salt and pepper, let stand for 5 minutes. Heat remaining 2 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Remove from pan and let stand for 5 minutes (do not jump the gun or you will lose that delicious juice!) Cut across the grain into thin slices
  • Combine the arugula, red onion, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl, tossing gently. Arrange over crust and top evenly with steak and blue cheese.
    • ProTip: You may want to cut the crust into slices first and then top with everything. I had a bit of difficulty with the pizza cutter moving everything around and making a mess. 
  • Dig in! I like to add a little hot sauce to my slices for some heat
Steakhouse Salad Pizza | Hard Parade
Happy Pizza Friday!
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July 23, 2014

What to Wear: Anniversary Dinner

Anniversary Dress from ModCloth | hardparade.blogspot.com
Anniversary Dinner Date Outfits | hardparade.blogspot.com
Anniversary Dinner Date Outfits | hardparade.blogspot.com
Earrings: Target - Dress: ModCloth - Belt: H&M - Ring: Bloomingdale's - Purse: Target - Shoes: Franco Sarto via DSW
Button Down: Frank & Oak - Pants: Banana Republic - Belt: Unknown - Shoes: Johnson Murphy
Anniversary Dinner Date Outfits | hardparade.blogspot.com
Anniversary Dinner Date Outfits | hardparade.blogspot.com
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July 17, 2014

Stay Home: Three-Course Anniversary Dinner

This weekend is mine and Dan's FIVE year anniversary - woah, it has been a long time! While every meal we cook together seems special (that is so mushy), there's something significant about cooking for a celebration. Dan plans the restaurant reservation for the actual day (July 19th). I have no idea where we're going - I never do. We just hop on the T and he tells us where to get off. It provides a little mystery in an otherwise completely un-mysterious relationship. I plan the meal at home for the day after so we both contribute :)

This is a three-course menu that you can easily make at home and it still feels upscale and fancy, despite being eaten on your old, warped IKEA kitchen table. Don't like cod? You can substitute another white fish so long as it will soak up the flavor of the saffron broth. All these recipes are pretty Weight Watchers friendly! See? You can still eat fabulously while on a 'diet.'

Escarole Salad with Horseradish and Capers
Recipe modified from Bon Appétit
Serves 2
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups torn escarole (about 1 small head of escarole)
  • 1 tbsp rinsed capers
  • Thinly slice the red onion and soak in a bowl of ice water for at least 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry
  • Whisk sour cream, horseradish, olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper then add the escarole, capers, and red onion. Toss to coat.
  • Top with more freshly cracked black pepper
Escarole Salad with Horseradish and Capers | hardparade.blogspot.com

Poached Cod with Tomatoes and Saffron
Recipe modified from Bon Appétit
Serves 2
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (drink the rest!)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 4 3-oz. skinless cod fillets
  • Heat oil in a medium skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking until fragrant - about 3 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, wine, bay leaves, saffron and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 5-7 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, season the cod with salt and pepper and after the 5-7 minutes, place into the skillet
  • Cover and cook at a very low simmer until cod is cooked throughout, about 5 minutes
  • Transfer cod to shallow bowls and gently spoon poaching liquid over
Poached Cod with Tomatoes and Saffron | hardparade.blogspot.com

Chocolate Custards
Recipe modified from Weight Watchers
Serves 6
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 cups fat free Half-and-Half
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 300f. Fill the bottom of a roasting pan with 1 inch of water and place in the oven
  • Whisk together eggs, yolk, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium bowl
  • Combine cocoa, chocolate, and Half-and-Half in a small pot
  • Heat the chocolate mixture over medium heat, stirring until chocolate is melted and it begins to steam, about 5 minutes
  • Turn off heat and pour in the egg mixture, whisking constantly, the mix in vanilla
  • Divide the mixture evenly among 6 small ramekins, place ramekins in the roasting pan and bake about an hour and 10 minutes
  • Chill for 30 minutes before serving
Chocolate Custards | hardparade.blogspot.com
Do you have any anniversary traditions? Let me know in the comments!
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July 9, 2014

Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw

Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
When it's hot, humid, and sticky out, the last thing anyone wants to do is crank up the oven or stove - especially when your apartment is on the fourth floor, like me. Since salmon cooks pretty quickly, it's definitely a go-to protein in our house during the summer months. While you won't be able to completely escape the heat with this recipe, it's worth turning on the stove for!

Salmon isn't the star of this dish, though - it's all about the slaw. Similar to traditional coleslaw but with red cabbage instead of green and a vinaigrette replacing the mayo, it's light, crunchy, and healthy. Sugar snap peas provide an additional toothy bite and fresh herbs add even more flavor. It's a great partner to salmon but would also work wonders on top of pulled pork sandwiches.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw
Recipe modified from Bon Appétit
Serves 4, PointsPlus: 9
Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
Ingredients - Slaw:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 8-oz. sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint and/or basil, chopped
Directions - Slaw:
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and honey and season with salt and pepper. 
Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
Thinly slice the cabbage and peas and add to a large bowl
Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade

Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
Add in chopped parsley and mint/basil, pour dressing over and toss to combine. 

Ingredients - Salmon:
  • 4 4-oz. salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (I used Maldon salt flakes - you can see below)
  • Olive oil
Directions - Salmon:
Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper
Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add salmon, skin side down, and cook for 4-5 minutes
Flip salmon over and finish cooking the other side, an additional minute or two
Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
Plate salmon with the slaw and enjoy the crunch of summah!
Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade

Pan-Seared Salmon with Purple Slaw | Hard Parade
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July 3, 2014

Blue Cheese Burgers

Blue Cheese Burgers | hardparade.blogspot.com
Something crazy is happening in Boston: the Fourth of July is being celebrated tonight, on the third. Because of the hurricane that's comin' to town, they (and I don't know specifically who 'they' are) decided to move up the big celebration with the Boston Pops and the fireworks and the patriotism and the whatnot to this evening. So I guess today's the day to make burgers and hot dogs and light up the fireworks (totally illegal in MA). The only problem is that Boston didn't exactly decided to cancel business hours, so while I'd love to drink all day until the sun goes down (our fridge is full of Miller High Life, ready to go), I still have that little thing called 'work.' 

The only way I'll eat a cheeseburger is if it's with blue cheese. No blue cheese? That's fine, I'll just have a straight up hamburger. I think this is something I picked up from my mother, who also prefers her burgers with the blue. Despite having both blue cheese AND mayo on these burgers, they're surprisingly healthy and totally WW approved (and delicious). Grab the potato salad and the coleslaw and Happy Third of July. 
Blue Cheese Burgers | hardparade.blogspot.com

Blue Cheese Burgers
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: 4, PointsPlus: 11
  • 1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup light mayo
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce (I used Frank's because it's the best)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 slices Vidalia onion
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 hamburger buns (I used whole wheat)
  • 4 slices tomato
  • Lettuce mix (I used arugula)
  • Combine the blue cheese, mayo, thyme, and hot sauce in a small bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator while preparing the burgers. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray
    • You can obviously grill if you want, but I live in a 4th floor apartment in the city sooo...
  • Divide the ground beef into 4 equal portions and season well with salt and pepper
  • Lightly coat the Vidalia onion slices with a bit of cooking spray and place onto the cast-iron skillet along with the beef patties
  • Cook burger to your liking and set aside, keeping warm (I usually just cover them with tinfoil). Place the onions in a zip-loc bag and toss with apple cider vinegar
  • Spread hamburger buns with the blue cheese mayo mixture, top with a burger patty, tomato slice, onion, and lettuce!
  • PS: You can find the recipe for the potato salad pictured HERE
Blue Cheese Burgers | hardparade.blogspot.com
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