Monday, September 27, 2010

Quick Dinner Fave: Grilled Salmon w/Sautéed Greens & Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Ever since I moved from my apartment to my new house, I have been a grilling machine! Pizza, fish, veggies, chicken, you name it! But out of everything I've made so far, this is definitely my favorite.  In my opinion, this meal is nothing short of perfect, and overall, it's pretty healthy too!  The potatoes are so tasty, not too rich, seasoned just right, and the greens, heated just enough to wilt, but not get soggy (I just can't eat 'em that way!).  Overall, this one is yum, yum, YUM. 

For the buttermilk mashed potatoes, follow this recipe courtesy of Ina Garten.

Grilled Salmon & Sautéed Greens:
Serves 4

2 lb Salmon
Olive Oil
8 cups of arugula and spinach mix
1-2 teeth of garlic
1 c grape tomatoes

Pre-heat grill to Medium. Lightly coat meat side of salmon with olive oil and sprinkle generous amount of seasoning (but don't over do it!), set aside.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes according to recipe.  About halfway through the potatoes, put the salmon on the grill meat side down.  Close grill and cook for about 6 minutes turning once, until fish flakes easily with a fork. 

Once salmon is on the grill, heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil* in a medium saute pan, and add minced garlic and tomatoes and saute for 6-8 minutes.  Remove from heat, then add spinach/arugula mix and cover immediately.  Stir greens every few minutes until wilted buy not soggy. 

Once salmon and potatoes are done, plate and enjoy!

  • Timing is key to getting this on the table quickly! Read all recipes ahead of time, and follow the order above and you should be good to go!
  • Much of this meal is seasoned to taste, don't over do it.
  • The potato recipe calls for peeled potatoes, but feel free to leave some skin on for a more homemade texture. 
  • DON'T overcook the greens. Okay that's the last time I'll say it. :)

*For an extra treat - cook 1-2 pieces of bacon in pan prior to garlic, and omit the oil, but drain the pan before adding the garlic! You don't want all that grease in your greens, just enough left lining the pan to saute the garlic, etc.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Healthy Eating: Mediterranean Couscous w/Shrimp & Arugula

SO easy, SO good. I got this idea from another recipe I read in Cooking Light, but I decided to give it my own twist. I've recently started sautéing small tomatoes, and I love the way they turn out, tart but sweet and full of that 'tomato' flavor.  This one is a must try, no excuses!

Mediterranean Couscous w/Shrimp & Arugula
Serves 4

3/4 lb shrimp, pealed & deveined
4 oz. feta, crumbled
1 c. kalamata olives, chopped
1 - 1.5 c of grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp scallions, chopped
1 box couscous, I prefer Near East Whole Grain Wheat, Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil
Olive oil
Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat oven to 400*. 

Rinse shrimp and place in bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, season w/salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Spread shrimp onto ungreased baking sheet and place in oven for 10 - 12 minutes until pink and cooked throughout, turning once at 6 minutes.

While shrimp bakes, cook couscous according to the package directions. While couscous is cooking, slice grape tomatoes in half and saute w/1 tbsp of olive oil until they become soft and start to break down, about 7 minutes.

While tomatoes, couscous and shrimp are cooking, chop kalamata olives and scallions and set aside. Once all are done, combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl, folding in arugula last.  Serve immediately.


Friday, September 10, 2010

DIY: Alambres w/Shrimp & Veggies

My coworkers and I have a little place we looove going to for special occasion lunches, (or when we just need a little extra motivation to make it through a Friday!), Manuel's on Congress not only has the best, most addicting salsa, but awesome margaritas and lunch specials.  One of my new faves is the Alambres, "skewered and grilled gulf shrimp and fresh vegetables..".  (Side note: "Alambres" is a common term used in Latin cuisine used to describe a dish of roasted skewers of meat w/ veggies). 

Well after a recent trip to Manuel's, I decided to recreate this super tasty, and healthy dish at home.  It was really simple, delicious and thus, definitely blog-worthy.

1 Red bell pepper
1 Green bell pepper
8 oz. Pineapple
1/2 White onion
1 lb. Shrimp, uncooked, peeled, deveined
Extra-virgin olive oil

Soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (or fire up the grill to med/high!).  Toss shrimp with 1-2 tbsp of EVOO, and 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper.  I also like to sprinkle on some of Chef Paul's Magic Salmon Seasoning, it's a little hard to find, but SO tasty.  If you use it, you could probably cut out the salt and pepper, because it provides plenty of flavor. 

Chop the peppers, onions and pineapple into 1 inch squares.  Skewer the shrimp and veggies, alternating ingredients. If baking, place cooling rack on a baking sheet and skewers on top of rack. Place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until shrimp are pink and firm. If grilling, 5-7 minutes should do the trick.

 Serve with your favorite rice and black beans.  Enjoy!



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Healthy Eating: Pasta w/Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon & Tuna

I'd like to start by expressing my love for a (somewhat) new found favorite of mine, Fine Cooking magazine and daily email recipes.  Although the magazine itself is not cheap, the free daily emails give you the recipes from the latest issue, win-win! Not to mention, everything I've made from their collection has been delicious, easy and pretty healthy, just the combination I'm looking for. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, our lives are full of house 'stuff' lately, and it's just been difficult to find time to do much else.  But when I got an email today with this inticing recipe, I decided I was going to make time for it.  I've occasionally seen pasta recipes that call for tuna, and have always wondered how they turn out.  This one was for sure a winner. It was so full of flavor, and such a perfect balance of lemon, tuna, pepperoncinis, parsley and tomatoes.  Whoever thought of this combination seriously deserves a day off.

  • I used about 2.5 cups of tomatoes as opposed to 4, (they're not cheap and it seemed like enough!). I'd use more next time, they turned out so good, that I was definitely wishing I had a few more in my bowl!
  • Cut the tomatoes in half.  It helps them to break down quicker, and ensures the perfect amount of tomato with each bite.
  • Add extra oil to the tomatoes, if needed.  I'm not sure why this happened, as the recipe calls for high heat, but the bottom of the pan dried up about halfway through cooking the tomatoes, I had to add a little bit of olive oil. (I wonder how a splash of white wine would have turned out?)
  • Use more tuna...  One small can just didn't seem like enough to spread across 4 servings, so I used two small cans instead and although it was a bit much, I'd rather have more than skimp on it.
  • ... And buy good stuff, you will taste it! Look for all natural, imported, packed in oil, and low sodium is definitely a plus.
  • Don't be discouraged by appearance! I'll be honest, I didn't take pictures along the way because it looked so unappetizing that I thought for sure there was no way for this one to be blog-worthy - I was SO wrong.  
  • Top with a sprinkle of Asiago cheese.  Mmm!
  • Make fresh green beans*  to go along with your pasta, it's the perfect side, and provides the much needed crunch. 

*Prepare my favorite way by chopping off ends, saute with onions, garlic and tomatoes (splurge with a piece of bacon or two!) in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, or follow this recipe.


DIY: Thai-Style Stir-Fried Chicken & Basil

Remember my week of intimidating Asian recipes? I know, it might be difficult, it been a whole two months - eek! I can't believe how time flies.  In the past two months, we've searched for a house, found a house, bought the house, renovated, painted and gotten really close to moving into the house, and man has it been busy! I was reminded this week how important it is to do things you love, so here we are.

If you have cravings for Thai food, but are hesitant to consume the calories (because Lord knows you won't eat just half), then you should definitely give this one a try.  It was tasty, satisfying, and felt healthy all at the same time!  I will say that it was not the same as your favorite Thai takeout, but it was a great, simple weeknight dinner nonetheless.

  • I only used 2 shallots and it seemed like plenty, so my advice is to use sparingly.
  • Add peanuts.  It just seemed like the right thing to do, and I just can't imagine this dish without them!
  • Be generous on the seasoning. This could be because I used slightly more than 1 lb of chicken, and I did regular white rice as opposed to Jasmine, but I had to add a little extra fish sauce to give it that umph. And speaking of fish sauce, don't be afraid!  This ingredient was one of the very reasons I started this challenge. I was unfamiliar with it, I had no idea where to buy, and 'fish sauce'?... Well folks, just follow the recipe (for the most part), buy it at your local grocery store, and it's really not so 'fishy' after all, so there.
  • Who uses just 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes? Pile those babies on! Maybe it's just me, but I don't even notice the 1/4 tsp. I need that noticeable kick, so I just sprinkled in until it seemed like enough. :) 


Monday, June 7, 2010

DIY: Stir-Fried Noodles w/Beef & Vegetables

This week I've decided to challenge myself with a few recipes that "intimidate" me.  I love Asian food of all kinds, but whenever I read the recipes, I have to admit, I'm intimidated.  There are just so many ingredients I'm not familiar with that I just sort of glaze over and turn the page.  Not this week.  Nope. I've come across one too many recipes that requires rice vinegar, fish sauce, or sesame oil so, here we go... 

Seriously friends, this could not have been easier! The whole production took less than an hour, and that includes eating time.  I will definitely be making this again, and the great thing is, you can easily swap out meats and veggies to change it up.  

  • Drizzle a little sriracha sauce on top (and maybe a squeeze of lime) for an extra burst of flavor.
  • Timing is very important with this recipe, make sure you read it all the way through before starting.
  • The 3 oz. of noodles doesn't seem like a lot, so I used 5 oz and it ended up being more than enough, aka - 3 oz. was probably fine.  Once you throw everything in, it really becomes quite a bit of food.  
  • Be generous when adding the sauce ingredients, although I probably only needed a bit more because of the extra noodles used.  
  • You could go for 3/4 lb of meat, but not completely necessary.  Speaking of, consider upgrading from flank steak to something a bit higher quality.  I wasn't too impressed with flank, but it did the job just fine. 

P.S. I think I have a new love for sesame oil. If you have any fav recipes that use it, please pass them along!

Make it Your Own: Grilled Mozzarella & Spinach BLT's

I came across this fabulous recipe in one of my most recent issues of Fine Cooking.  It's kind of ironic, because displayed quite prominently on the cover is "100+ Healthy Recipes," but the cover image is of a Grilled Mozzarella and Spinach BLT.  I like to think that that illusion was the reason I let myself make this one :) I'm thinking it probably shouldn't be categorized as a "healthy" recipe.

I'm calling this one "Make it Your Own," because I made one seemingly minor change, and it made the absolute world of difference in this sandwich.  Arugula. Wow - talk about awesome!  Although the recipe calls for spinach, I had a mix of the two and I decided to improvise, really glad I did.  I might even write in to the magazine... 

  • I honestly don't know the difference between sliced mozzarella and the "good" stuff that you usually get in Caprese sandwiches.  This recipe called for the latter judging by the picture, and maybe by the use of the word "fresh," but I just had some thick slices cut at the deli of what I'll call the "regular" mozzarella, and it worked great.  If you do this, make sure that the cheese is the appropriate size, I ended up trimming it down.  Originally, I had thought the more cheese the better, but honestly that coupled with the bacon, greens and tomato, makes less OK here.
  • Two pieces of bacon, as opposed to 3, works just fine here. (Hey - gotta try to make it "healthier" if it's going to be in the healthy issue!)
  • Use yogurt-based margarine instead of butter or olive oil. It gives that buttery taste without all the calories!
  • Per sandwich, you'll use one generous handful of greens, as they reduce down quite a bit when they're cooked.
  • If you don't have a panini press, you'll survive.