Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shake Shack-style Burger

*shake shack-style burger

i've been a lot of bark, little bite lately about hot yoga. {enter one of those inspirational big dog quotes here}. i did it once in NYC but recall almost blacking out & removing it from my memory. so i decided to give red hot yoga a go this week. in preparation, i drank somewhere between 2 gallons & lake raybun, noshed on a banana & had a mini-freak out because my "emergency contact" {read: husband} wasn't answering his phone so i could let him know he was on call for the next 90 minutes. a few seconds later i was whisked into a 105 degree room while i tried to settle in like a local on my little yoga mat.

then it got funny...given there was one guy in yum yums {*see pic below} & the male teachers sweat dripped on me when i was lying down & he walked by talking something like "find your balance for the week". balance? it'd take a xanax & an adderall to achieve this "balance" state you speak of.

*yum yums...unfortunately then man in front of me did not look as yummy in his.

so after spending 90 minutes in positions i'd be skeptical to see kerri strug perform, i came home to an amazing burger. and even more amazing, justin did all the cooking & cleaning with only a few pointers from me! our love of shake shack in NYC inspired this cast-iron skillet creation!

{shake shack-style burger}
*for best results, cook in a cast iron skillet

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 3
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • cavenders seasoning
  • worchestire sauce
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 6 slices 2% american cheese
  • 3 buns
  • butter

1. form 6, 1/4 inch patties. these will be thin but each burger will take 2 patties.

2. place on a baking sheet & season {to your taste} each patty with cavenders, worchestire sauce & salt & pepper.

3. in a cast iron skillet, cook one side of patty approximately 2 minutes. as soon as you flip to cook other side, put cheese on the cooked side.

4. while cooking patties, lightly spread a little butter on each bun & lightly toast on broil.

5. to serve, place 2 patties on each bun & enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Low Cal Shrimp & Grits

yesterday was a monumental day at the clay house...we joined COSTCO!! i said i'd never do it but remember my savvy dinner party friend?! well, she introduced me to these hearts of palm that are sold {per my husband, "i'm sure exclusively"} at costco & are quite amazing. so, a $50 membership fee & $76 worth of costco goods...well, made for a damn nice trip. oh & note worthy...i left with a box of veggie straws & crisps!


lastly, i got some delicious shrimp at publix {they have great shrimp if you're ever looking!} & decided to make a low calorie shrimp & grit dinner. each serving was around 200 calories!!

{low cal shrimp & grits}

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 2

  • 2 cups chicken stock {buy 2 cans 14.5 ounce stock}
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking grits
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 round mini babybel original cheese
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • emeril's original essence, *also found in local grocery stores
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 2 chive sprigs, diced, {optional}

1. to prep, toss shrimp with emeril's essence seasoning & set aside.

*now begin with grits because while they "fluff", we can cook the shrimp!

2. in a large pot, bring chicken stock & milk to a boil. slowly stir in grits. add salt & pepper, reduce heat a low simmer & cover. allow to cook for approx. 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. while grits are cooking, heat olive oil in a medium skillet to medium-low heat. toss minced garlic into skillet & saute until transparent & fragrant. toss in tomato, lemon juice, salt & pepper & bring to medium-high heat. cook until tomatoes mixture starts to become thicker & into a "sauce", approx. 6-10 minutes. add shrimp, cook until pink throughout. when done, remove from heat & set aside.

4. stir grits & add more milk if they appear "dry". still over heat, toss in babybel cheese & stir to melt.

5. to serve, place a big spoonful of grits in a bowl & top with shrimp, tomatoes, sauce & garnish with chives. enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Calorie-Busting Chips!

i was in NYC recently & it made me remember how much i love the local bodegas & great delis! as someone who really can't eat just one, i love the unique offering & low cal selection of "chips" these joints offer. here are a few of my favorites that can be found closer to home as well!

do you have a favorite low-calorie chip snack?!
*pirates booty-130 calories, 5 grams fat-1 ounce bag

*glenny's soy crisps-140 calories, 3 grams fat-1.3 ounce bag

*pop chips-100 calories, 3 grams fat-0.8 ounce bag

*sensible portions veggie straws-130 calories, 7 grams fat-1 ounce bag

*food should taste good chips-~140 calories, ~7 grams fat-1 ounce bag

*on a totally unrelated topic, i'm LOVING this commercial...genius!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poppy Seed Chicken

*photo courtesy of the girl who ate everything {b/c it was too dark for me to take a good photo}

my friend dani-girl used to make this in NYC & it definitely was a southern comfort staple in our apartment! it's a comforting cool weather dish but i always welcome a cheesy, creamy casserole any time of year. so here goes my rendering of her poppy seed chicken!

*dani is as tiny as a poppy seed.

{poppy seed chicken}

ingredients {in order of use}
*makes 6 servings
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 {10 3/4 ounce} can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 {8 ounce} container light sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 sleeve {approx. 31} ritz whole wheat crackers
  • 1/4 cup butter {approx. 4 tablespoons}

1. pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. in a large pot, bring water & 1 bouillon cube to a boil. add chicken breasts & cook until no pink is showing in the breast. remove breasts & place on a pate to allow to cool.

3. in a large mixing bowl, add chicken soup, sour cream, poppy seeds & season with salt & pepper. when chicken is cool, shred or cut into bite-sized cubes & mix in with soup mixture.

4. in a smaller bowl, crush ritz crackers & add 1/4 cup of butter. pop bowl in microwave for 20 seconds or until butter melts. stir to coat crackers.

5. coat an 8x8 inch dish with cooking spray. add chicken mixture & spread evenly. top with cracker topping & bake for 30 minutes. remove, allow to cool & set for 5-10 minutes. enjoy!

*caution-these leftovers will make co-workers drool!

*also, each serving contains 307 calories!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is that A Pickle in Your Pantry...

it's back! after a few weeks brainstorming the {a peek in the pantry} feature, i've decided it's fun, interesting & it's moving forward!

so...remember that fun dinner party we went to in birmingham?! well, while the hostess was working on 4 separate dishes at once, i was trying to get a snap shot of her pantry on the sly. and here's what i uncovered...the girl loves easy cooking as much as i do!

{a few items in the pantry}:
  • pickles, pickled green peans, wickles-which were all served at the dinner party!
  • whole wheat orzo-perfect for TBM Orzo a la Risotto!
  • jarred marinara-great for instant meals like Quick Chicken Parmesan!
  • boxes of zatarain's-zzzz Zatarain's
  • hearts of palm-i'm loving this brand right now, sun pix-they sell at costco
  • nutella-which i haven't discovered a deep love of but i saw giada make this the other day & it might change my mind!

*let me know if you want to expose your pantry to {shugart & spice}-i'd love some guest features!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Avocado Salad

i've been craving avocado lately & was dying to make a light, summery salad with one. i love the chunky bites of the smooth fruit {yep, it's a fruit not a veggie!} & tang of the lemon & garlic. it's an easy, healthy dish that can be made for one or a party with ease. toss in any other herbs you have around for a low-cal summer side dish!

{summer avocado salad}

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 2
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup heart of palm
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt & pepper
1. slice cherry tomatoes in half & place in a mixing bowl. halve avocado, peel one side, dice & place in bowl. slice heart of palm into thin slices & place in bowl.

2. add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic & season with salt & pepper. gently toss to coat & allow to marinate at room temp a few minutes before serving. enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roasted Banana Pudding

ever been grocery shopping & left a bag on the turnstile? yep, this happened to me yesterday & when i got home to whip up this recipe, it dawned on me, i left the bananas at kroger...and the milk & cream & parchment paper i'd just purchased. really?

*note to the checker-outer - it's your job to let me know that there are multiple bags. that's why i was multi-tasking on my cell phone in the first place. thanks.

any who, my sweet tooth recently woke up from being dormant for years & my eyes zeroed in on this delicious recipe i spotted in my august cooking light mag. and since i had most ingredients at home, minus the ones i left at kroger, i decided to make it. i was a little hesitant b/c it's total time said 2 hours & 26 minutes but in busy girl fashion, i whittled down the cook time & also a few calories. now if only my waist would start whittling...sigh.

{roasted banana pudding}
*adapted from cooking light

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 4
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/3 cup splenda {divided-half now, half later}
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 of a {12 ounce} container frozen fat-free whipped cream, thawed
  • 25 {reduced-fat} vanilla wafers

1. pre-heat oven to 350.

2. place bananas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. bake for 20 minutes. remove 2, set on a plate & place in freezer to cool. cook remaining banana for 20 additional minutes. remove the 1 banana, peel & set aside.

*consider yourself warned - these guys turn out black as night & leave the house smelling of sugar! it's quite fabulous!

3. in a medium mixing bowl, combine 1/2 of splenda, cornstarch, salt & egg. whisk until well blended. set aside.

4. in a large mixing bowl, fill with ice & water & set aside.

5. in a medium pot, combine milk & remainder 1/2 of splenda & bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. do not boil. when bubbling, remove & slowly add hot milk mixture to sugar/egg mixture & whisk constantly. return milk mixture to pot & cook over medium heat until thick & bubbly-approx. 3 minutes. remove pot from heat & add peeled banana, butter & vanilla & mix & mash completely. place pan in ice bath to allow mixture to come to room temperature, stirring occasionally. fold in 1/3 of whipped cream & stir completely.

6. remove bananas from freezer, peel & slice into thin slices.

7. in an 8x8 pyrex {or 1 L dish}, spread 1/2 custard mixture evenly over bottom of dish. top with 10 vanilla wafers & 1/2 banana slices. repeat - custard, vanilla wafers & remainder of banana slices. spread remaining 1/3 of whipped cream on top & top with 5 crushed vanilla wafers.

8. refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled. enjoy!

*this is even better the next day - great make-ahead dish!!

Skirt Steak Fajitas

*photo courtesy of whole foods - not the recipe as it is WAY to much going on!

{skirt steak fajitas}

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 6 fajitas
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 1 cup italian dressing
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 onion, {optional}
  • 1 green pepper, {optional}
  • additional ingredients: soft taco shells, sour cream, cheddar cheese, salsa, avocado, lettuce, tomato, etc.
1. slice your skirt steak into thin pieces against the grain or you'll have some tough sh*t. literally. toss into a gallon-sized ziploc & add italian dressing, cumin, salt, pepper & onion/green pepper {if you have on hand}. toss, mix & coat everything. place in fridge & allow to marinate at least 4 hours. {this is a great recipe to make before work or the night before}!

2. when ready to cook, coat a grill pan or skillet with cooking spray & bring to medium heat. add meat & vegetables & cook on each side {flipping once} for approx. 4 minutes. allow more time for vegetables to cook down.

3. when steak is cooked, remove from skillet & place on a plate. enjoy your fajita bar without the smell & unwarranted attention from the "tsssssssssssssssssss" restaurant fajitas bring you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Treat the Hostess...And She'll Have You Back!

i always love a good host/hostess gift...both receiving & treating! i think it's a small, thoughtful gesture that packs a BIG {thank you} for your hospitality.

here are a few ideas i think would make for the perfect, {thanks}!

{thanks for having us @ your beach house!}

{thanks for the football tkts/tailgate!}

*georgia "G" molds-because red jello shots are always appropriate at 11am on gamedays?!

*bloody mary gift basket-although i'd make your own with zing zang & the hosts preferred vodka
{ketel, if you're asking}

*custom cornhole boards!

{thanks for letting us stay in your home!}

*doggie treats {if they have a dog} from your local dog bakery

*a local, favorite sauce, spice or dip!

*hand-painted calling cards or stationery...this will ensure they pay it forward!

Grilled Romaine Salad

lets get to down to was in the 80's yesterday in atlanta which means fall is around the corner. or mother nature is tormenting us. either way...this is one of the best times to grill {or stand next to the grill master with wine in hand} - when the weather cools, fall is upon us & football fills the air!

we're trying to get on a health kick around the clay casa & i thought this would be a nice way to ease my husband into a nightly salad...and it worked! although he opted out of balsamic vinegar & preferred ranch as his steps. baby steps we're making here.

{grilled romaine salad}

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 2
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce {bag ones will do!}
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • cheese {i used a rosemary olive oil asiago}
  • balsamic vinegar {or other dressing}
  • optional toppings: artichoke hearts, sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes, croutons, toasted pine nuts, etc.

1. slice romaine hearts in half, careful not to cut off the thick stem holding the leaves together. drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper.

2. on either a grill pan {on medium heat} or a grill, place romaine flat side down & grill for approx. 5 minutes, or when grill marks begin to form. the longer you grill, the more the leaves wilt, which might be okay with you. i prefer that!

3. when cooked, remove & plate. cut off about 1 inch of thick stem. sprinkle with cheese, balsamic {or other dressing} & top with any additional salad toppers you have around. now enjoy you grilled summer salad!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Southern Comfort Dinner Party

*southern comfort dinner party in birmingham, al

*the hostess purchased a huge piece of bularp off of amazon to use as the table cloth!

birmingham, alabama...that's where i latest travels took us & can i say one thing, what a delicious town! our good friends, the weils, hosted an amazing southern-themed dinner party saturday night for 23 people - definitely the hostess with the mostest!

i'll try to recap below but you really should just host one yourself. what a fun dinner party, birthday party or night with the girls this theme provides.


*tray of pickled treats: wickles, pickled okra, pickled green beans & cornichons
*pimento cheese with crackers
*the BEST alabama sausage, grilled - conechu sausage - with mustards for dipping.
*flash fried okra from fresh market - i recommend these for snacking & any party!
*cheese straws - a true, southern staple!

*pimento cheese-the hostess' own recipe!

*BGE for grilled sausage!

*delicious flash fried okra found @ fresh market!

*cheese straws - these always make for a great party app!

{signature southern comfort drink}:

*signature drinks served in mason jars with a 'pop-color' straw!

*fried chicken from the club
*bottega's mac & cheese

no pictures of the full dinner spread b/c it was down the hatch in a flash! although, i definitely
recommend making the pickled shrimp with hearts of palm. it was incredible!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ramblings & A Recipe

the past few days have been fast & furious & i have a few thoughts for you:

1. pedicures: i have a love~hate relationship with these guys. of course i love having someone massage my legs & put some elbow grease behind those callouses but i really, really do not like waiting for polish to dry.

recently on the receiving end {woof...i could never administer}, it brings my latest revelation to my mouth...i understand that the remote next to me indicates you have a massage chair but when i sat down & didn't press one of the 20 buttons, i don't want it on. no, i don't enjoy being sucker punched a$$ to neck while i'm relaxing. i need to ensure that for $20, you stay in the lines.

2. painting a room: this is fun for about an hour. not 2 days. i completed 2 coats of martha stewart gull & it looks SOOOOO much better then before. i'll take a pic tomorrow when it's sunny! i got the inspiration from my friend maggie's interior blog & am so ready to get the stripes going {eh...i'll wait on my project manager mom to come for that one!}.

*and on a really techie note...i got a retweet from home depot!

lastly, we're eating mexican out tonight but this shrimp creole by paula deen is in my line up to make for dinner next week. try it & let me know what you think!

*photo courtesy:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back off my sammy...

i once worked in an establishment where people would steal your food from the community fridge...i know, right?! sad, gross, sad & most importantly, a total buzz kill come lunch time! so when i saw these anti-theft sandwich bags on sodelushious {a hilarious blog by SI swim suit model, chrissy tiegen & john legend's gf}, i couldn't help but re-post.

*be back tomorrow with something more palatable...i spent the better part of the day painting our basement...which made me question if the previous owners were blind, or just preferred multiple shades of doo-doo brown?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Veggie Wonton Soup

*mine is a little plain due to using what was on hand

love asian food but not the calories? i'm a huge fan of wonton soup, udon noodle soup & sweet & sour soup...but i'm not a huge fan of the amount of calories these dishes can pack! i had an amazing go-to spot in nyc that made a delicious udon noodle soup so it inspired me to try to recreate it in my home-low cal style!

this is the perfect, busy girls, asian-inspired noodle soup that can be made with simple ingredients. it's filling & most importantly, low in calories-around 245 for the 2 1/2 cups it makes!

{veggie wonton soup}

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 1-2
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 zucchini
  • optional veggies: carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, sprouts
  • 8 annie chun's mini wontons {i like garlic chicken & cilantro; found in the organic section}
  • 1 ounce annie chun's rice noodles {found in the organic section}
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • soy sauce, optional

1. in a small pot, add chicken broth & bring to medium heat. using a peeler, peel zucchini into ribbons directly into pot. add any other veggies you choose. add frozen mini wontons & allow to cook for 5 minutes.

2. add noodles & a pinch of red pepper flakes {if you prefer spicier!}. allow noodles to cook for about 2 minutes. transfer to a large bowl {if making for one} & add soy sauce. enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Free {half-gallon} Tea @ Chick-fil-A

my friend allender {and shugart & spice follower!} told me about an awesome deal that chick-fil-a is hosting in the greater atlanta & athens area....a FREE {half-gallon} of TEA! click on the link below & hopefully a location near you still has open spots. you can select sweet or unsweet tea...who doesn't love free treats!

DIY: Herb Pots

remember a while back i mentioned that my {mil} gave me this awesome herb pot?! i absolutely love it & use it's offspring almost every night when cooking-it includes basil, chives, thyme & rosemary {unfortunately, i couldn't keep the parsley alive & lost it}.

i decided a few weeks ago that i needed to re-pot the herbs to prevent their roots from becoming crowded so i began the search for glossy white pots, inspired by the ones that perch on ina garten's counter tops {see back left}:

*photo courtesy: food netwark

just when i'd almost given up on finding four, 6-inch, glossy white pots, i found the almost-perfect match at ikea! bonus-they were $0.89 a piece but were only offered in a pale mushroom color. and since they were from ikea & there is always an obstacle to jump this case, the pots didn't have holes in the bottom for drainage. but never fear, my trusty ACE hardware helped me solve exactly what i wanted; they had small plastic pots that tuck nicely into the porcelain pot & a can of glossy white spray paint to achieve the look i was going for.

so just wanted to share with you all a fun, cheap, tasty way to dress up your kitchen counter a la ina! i also am making a few on the side to give as gifts-what a fun gift to give or receive!

*preparing to spray paint-these are the original pots that in person, were much creamier than white

*glossy, white, all-purpose spray paint

*first coat-careful not to spray too close which will result in "drippy" paint marks

*when dry, flip & spray rim

*re-potting of herbs; i also bought some seed packets & punched up my thyme & basil to ensure a big bunch!

*pretty little pots {sorry for the bad quality pic-my kitchen is dark!}

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quick Chicken Parmesan

i love dinners when i don't have to make a trip to the grocery! not only do i feel like it saves money, it reassures me that should another crazy snow storm hit atlanta, we'd be able to hunker down & live off the pantry & freezer for a week!

i've never made chicken parm & the thought of pounding out meat made me a little queasy {do southern ladies really own meat mallets?!}. but when i saw the queen of 30 minute meals use a campbell's soup can to turn a pork chop into a piece of paper, i knew i too could do it!

and what a success-this easy dish is full of flavor & received an A+ from my hubs!

{quick chicken parmesan}

ingredients {in order of use}
*serves 2
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons parmesan, grated & divided {4 now, 2 later}
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon italian seasonings
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jar of marinara
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 4 basil leaves, optional
  • spaghetti

1. pre-heat oven to 425 degrees & spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. place one chicken tender {at a time} in a plastic bag & pound to an even 1/2 inch thickness with a can. a soup can will work just fine...pound away! continue with each tender & place on a plate when pounding is complete. season with salt & pepper.

3. in a bowl, add egg whites & whisk until foamy. in another bowl, add bread crumbs & 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan, garlic salt & italian seasonings. mix with a fork. on a plate, evenly spread flour & prepare your assembly line:

raw chicken - flour plate - egg whites bowl - bread crumb bowl

4. in a large skillet, add olive oil & bring to medium-high heat. dredge one piece of chicken in flour & coat evenly on both sides; shake off any excess. dip in egg whites, dredge in breadcrumb mix & add to hot oil. continue with next piece & cook two tenders at a time in skillet. cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until starting to brown. flip with tongs.

5. when chicken is browned & crisped on both sides, place in baking dish. continue cooking rest of chicken & add to dish when cooked.

6. using a spoon, place about 3-4 spoonfuls of marinara on each chicken tender. top with shredded mozzarella, parmesan & basil {optional}. bake in oven uncovered for approx. 15 minutes, or until cheese starts to brown.

7. while chicken is baking, boil spaghetti, drain & place back in pot. add leftover marinara & mix. to plate, add spaghetti & top with chicken parmesan; serve hot & bubbly!

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