Southwestern Salmon Cobb Salad

8 Jul

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Do excuse my brief hiatus again.  Cooking a lot had fallen on my list of priorities having been really sick recently.  Also, my car was hit on my street and ultimately ruled a total loss.  Thus, I’ve been in settling out mode with insurance and researching mode with replacing my car.  All has worked out in the end- no one hurt and I ended up with a settlement amount that was more than the worth of my car due to the very low mileage and excellent condition (pre-accident of course) of my car.  While I’m sad to say goodbye to my little Scion TC, I am happy to welcome an Acura TSX into my world. 

So it is time to get back to some good eating!  I had never had salmon atop a salad until this recipe as it kinda seemed gross to me for some reason.  I like salmon with a salad on the side so I’m not sure what my issue was.  In any case, I’m a changed lady.  This Eating Well recipe is great and the flavors are unique as salads go in my opinion.  What else do I love about it? It is filling yet nutritious (4 servings; each @ 385 calories; 22 g fat ( 8 g sat , 9 g mono ); 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 37 g protein; 7 g fiber; 696 mg sodium; 1476 mg potassium). It also did not take 2 hours to prep rather just a half hour tops.  The recipe notes to skin the salmon, but I just cooked on the Foreman where the salmon meat and skin separate pretty effortlessly.  The recipe link does offer tips re: skinning the fish and oiling the grill if you go that direction.  I like to share the ways I find easiest with you all of course.  Give it a go! 

Ingredients:

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  • 1 1/4 pounds wild Alaskan salmon, skinned (see Tips)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles, plus 1 tablespoon minced chipotle in adobo, divided 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (or plain greek yogurt which is what I chose to use)
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 10 cups mixed salad greens (romaine is just fine too!)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high (or George Foreman to around 350 degrees).
  2. Cut salmon into 4 equal portions (I portioned after cooking). Brush with adobo sauce and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Oil the grill rack.  Grill the salmon, turning once, until opaque, about 3 minutes per side (no need to turn on Foreman).IMG_20130629_203157_770                                                                                                            
  4. Combine sour cream (or greek yogurt), vinegar, water, minced chipotle and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Toss greens in a large bowl with 1/2 cup of the dressing.
  5. Divide the greens and salmon among 4 plates. Top with avocado, tomatoes and blue cheese. Drizzle with the remaining dressing.

June Cooking Club: Chilled Grape and Almond Soup

24 Jun

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It’s been a few months since I’ve participated in cooking club with my co-workers.  Last time was actually in March when B and I hosted (still owe you a post about that iteration actually!)  I’ve missed the secret ingredients cherry and flowers respectively.  What have I missed since this thing started?  Earning the trophy for best dish!   This time I was determined to take it home.  The secret ingredient was grape and I decided to make 2 dishes to increase  my odds :)  Consequently, I received an email with a very promising sounding recipe for Chilled Grape and Almond Soup

To continue with a theme of starters, I researched Welch’s website.  I arrived at making Tangy Grape BBQ Meatballs for my other dish.  While cooking club participants seemed to enjoy the meatballs, I have to say that I was not a big fan of the recipe.  I feel that meatballs should have a consistency of browned/ slightly crisp on the outside and tasting more meaty than overpowered by any sort of filling to hold them together on the inside.  These meatballs, while cooked through, were too moist for my liking.  B agreed with this.  Thus, I don’t intend to promote that dish all that much with my readers!

The Chilled Grape and Almond Soup is worth encouraging you to try though (recipe below). I’ve heard of other chilled soups not turning out so well. My friend, Megan, from cooking club had one such story to share where her boyfriend attempted a similar sounding chilled grape soup for this event and it tasted awful.😦 He’ll have to make this one sometime! It is silly easy too- you simply do some food chopping/measuring prep, blend it together in a blender or food processor, and chill. The creativity of recipe and taste were there and then I simply added the presentation factor. I did it right this time, because we won! The other awesome dishes included: a shrimp cup, grape salad, and chicken and grape kebabs. The drink category included old school Snoopy grape snowcones (adult style of course) and drunken purple cows featuring plenty of ice cream, grape juice, and vodka. Stiff competition, but Gleason’s purple cows took the win. See photo slideshow at the end of this post.

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The trophy is pretty freaky, huh? It has been through a lot since its original gold plated gnome existence. The only rule is you must add to it once you win. Due to a tragic car accident, the gnome’s head was lost, but a stuffed animal duck head was gained. The flag, flowers, green bow, and stand are among other fabulous additions. July’s cooking club theme is MUUUUURRRICA: A Backyard Potluck which will feature dishes you bring to a cookout/potluck and plenty of red, white, and blue attire- hopefully of the fantastic tacky persuasion.
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs seedless green grapes, destemmed
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 2 scallions, white & light green parts, chopped
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 dill sprigs, chopped
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine grapes, cucumber, almonds, scallions, vinegar, yogurt, cream cheese, olive oil, buttermilk in food processor or blender, and process until mostly smooth – leave some texture.
  2. Stir in salt, pepper, dill, and cayenne. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. IMG_20130615_164640_374

  4. Serve ice cold, garnish with fresh chives, thinly sliced cucumber rounds or grapes and fresh chives and/or some additional dill.

 
Other Grape Cooking Club Photos:

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Skinny Coconut Shrimp

17 Jun

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Coconut shrimp is not a dish you usually think of as skinny, but you can make it that way thanks to Skinnytaste.  This recipe serves 8 assuming 3 shrimp and 1 TBSP of the sauce with the following stats: 162 calories/ 3.4 g fat/ 10.2 g protein/ 15.7 g sugar.  Now we had this for dinner (with a little bit of leftovers) not as an app yet the shrimp portion still came out to around 400 calories each which would not happen in a restaurant setting, my friends.  I will say we were approaching the sinner meal line since I made us our own individual dipping sauce bowls and the apricot preserves were not of the sugar-free persuasion.  I indulged and maybe you’ll decide to as well.  Blanket statement of caution: dipping sauces, dressings, and other ancillary items like cheese, nuts, etc. can take your caloric intake to new levels in your meal.  It’s like those people who don’t count drink calories when they’re dieting.  When you’re banging out 2-3 margaritas at happy hour and wondering why the lbs aren’t falling off, consider looking at the “nutrition” facts on one of those bad boys.  Point being the that extras do matter if you’re not moderate about them.  No judgement here- I am the same girl who made my own dipping sauce bowl for this recipe after all- just a tip to be mindful of whether you’re eating out or cooking in!  Enjoy this shrimp recipe that I’m so happy I stumbled upon.

Ingredients:

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  • 1 lb (24) large raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined (weight after peeled)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp panko crumbs
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour (you will only use 1 tbsp)
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch salt
  • non-stick spray

For the Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves (you can use sugar free)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or a tad less if you’re very sensitive to spice)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Position one of your racks in the middle of the oven.
  2. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Combine coconut flakes, panko bread crumbs, and salt in a bowl.  Place flour in a small dish.  Whisk egg in yet another dish.
  4. Lightly season shrimp with salt (I threw them in a large ziplock bag, added the salt, and gave it a great shake to distribute evenly).  Dip shrimp in the flour shaking off the excess, then into the egg, and finally into the coconut crumb mixture.                                                                                                   IMG_20130606_194347_949
  5. Lay shrimp on the cookie sheet and spray the top of the shrimp once more with cooking spray.  Bake on the middle rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  7. Turn shrimp over after the first 1o minutes and continue cooking for 6-7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
  8. Remove from oven and serve with dipping sauce.

Slow Cooker Mexican-Style Pulled Chicken

12 Jun

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In pursuit of a quick, minimal ingredient, yet still delicious slow cooker recipe?  You will find it in this recipe.  With a slow cooker and just 4 main ingredients plus a few spices that you likely have in your pantry already, you can throw together this tasty pulled chicken recipe.  I suggest you make it meal by partnering it with some hard taco shells, soft wheat tortillas, or grab some crisp Boston or Bibb lettuce to go easy on the carbs by making lettuce wraps.  Toppings like guac, greek yogurt in sour cream’s stead, lettuce, or chopped tomatoes are fabulous ones to consider.  A side of black beans, reduced fat refried beans, or a fresh salad with a cilantro dressing would be fantastic to round out a meal here.  Thanks to Running to the Kitchen for this great recipe!

Ingredients:

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  • 1 lb. chicken breasts
  • 1 16oz. jar of salsa
  • 1 15oz. can of black beans, rinsed & drained
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta (or grated cheddar)
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (I only had regular and it was just fine!)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour salsa into slow cooker then layer beans and chicken in that order.
  2. Cook on high for 3 hours.
  3. After 3 hours, remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks. It should come apart easily.
  4. Return chicken to the slow cooker.
  5. Add the spices and cheese and mix to combine.
  6. Serve with garnish of cilantro and avocado and/or the toppings I have recommended above.

Thai Style Zucchini

5 Jun

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I am a big advocate for semi-homemade dinners during the week.  By semi-homemade, I mean getting fancy on the main dish or side dish of the greater meal and opting for convenience for the rest.  Have you all heard of Campbell’s Skillet Sauces?  Here is the Thai Green Curry one I used just last week:

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They are a perfect way to achieve a semi-homemade meal.  You simply add chicken.  This semi-homemade meal would involve channeling my cooking energy into a side dish.  I did a little searching and found this Food.com Thai Zucchini recipe.  It turned out to perfectly compliment the green curry chicken.  I also got to have fun with these adorable baby zucchini from Trader Joe’s (below).  TJ’s was out of regular-sized zucchini, but I think these little ones ended up being much easier to cut into thin strips so I am recommending you grab these if possible.  I hope you’ll enjoy this flavorful side dish as part of your own semi- or fully-homemade meal. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 pinch dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 teaspoons chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 3 medium zucchini or 12  oz bag of baby zucchini, cut into very thin strips

Directions:

  1. Cook garlic, ginger, and red pepper in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Add peanuts and next 4 ingredients (chicken broth through sugar), stirring well.
  3. Add zucchini, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until crisp tender.
  4. Serve immediately.

S’mores Cheesecake Bars

3 Jun

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The opportunity to bake a sinful treat arose this past week as my client site had a cookout.  While I didn’t have to do anything besides contribute $5, I really wanted to make a new treat.  Bryan loves when these inspirations hit me!  I thought something s’mores related would be a win.  I found a number of s’mores bars that I wasn’t all that jazzed about, but then I came across a s’mores bar WITH CHEESECAKE recipe.  Thanks to Annie’s Eats, I had some happy co-workers.  Thank goodness too because these  phenom bars involved the labor of love!  This recipe yields about 12-16 bars which was not enough for the crowd I was making them for.  Thus, I doubled this recipe.  Still, not a big deal until you 1) only have one 8 x 8 pan 2) arrive at the grocery store at 10 pm to gather ingredients and 3) don’t begin making them until 10:30 pm on a Wednesday night.  I felt accomplished as I climbed into bed at 1:30 am! 

In the spirit of being a balanced bean, I lightened this recipe ever so slightly by using reduced-fat versions of cream cheese and sour cream.  Probably did not make a world of difference, but I feel good about that choice and how the taste was not compromised in the slightest🙂

Ingredients:

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For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup light sour cream
½ cup marshmallow cream
2 tsp. cocoa powder
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the topping:
1½ cups mini marshmallows
Milk chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Directions:

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8×8″ baking pan with enough foil for the edges of the foil to be easily pulled out (this matters later on!); spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl.  Stir together with a fork until well combined.  
  3. Press the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Bake 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the filling.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F.

To make the filling:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.  Alternatively, place chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30 second increments at 50% power, stirring each time.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  
  2. Using a standup or hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and marshmallow cream.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and eggs until incorporated.  Stir in the melted chocolate until well blended.  
  3. Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula.  
  4. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the center is just set (does not jiggle when shaken gently.)  Remove from the oven.                                                                                

To make the topping:

  1. Evenly top the cheesecake layer with the mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just long enough so the marshmallows begin to melt into each other.  Transfer your foil pan to a wire cooling rack.  
  2. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows.  Alternatively, this can be done underneath the broiler with a very watchful eye.  I used the broiler for exactly one minute, but I watched it for every one of those 60 seconds!
  3. Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted milk chocolate if desired.  (TIP: Placing melted chocolate chips in a ziplock bag and cutting a tiny tip of the bottom off creates a great little piping bag for drizzling the chocolate)  
  4. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 2-3 hours before slicing and serving. This is important because it sets the cheesecake.  It will look like this before you begin to slice and serve:IMG_20130530_090626_777

Blackened Cumin-Cayenne Tilapia

29 May

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It was time for a new tilapia recipe.  Between a tilapia dish Bryan makes using lemon juice and old bay (I’ll share that one sometime- it tastes like crab ultimately!) and my tried and true tilapia recipes, I was in search of a recipe using some other spices.  This Cooking Light recipe meets the mark and could not be easier to prepare.  3 steps to delicious, my friends!  The cayenne does give a little kick so be prepared particularly those of you sensitive to a little heat.  Per other recipes you’ve seen from me, I guess it is no secret how much I love a sweet potato with marshmallows atop, huh?  It went with the fish quite well if I do say so myself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler.  If you don’t have a broiler, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Rub oil evenly over fish. Combine cumin, salt, garlic powder, and peppers; sprinkle over fish. Arrange fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.                                                                        IMG_20130514_200000_906
  3. Broil 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or desired degree of doneness.  Alternatively, you can bake the tilapia for around 10 minutes at 325 degrees.