May 232013
You’d think that as soon as I got done with finals for the semester, I would suddenly have plenty of time to cook and blog and do all sorts of productive things I had been putting off.  In fact, quite the opposite happens.  As soon I find myself with some free time, I achieve a new level of laziness, that I didn’t even think was possible before.  Instead of cooking, my DVR gets lot of love and attention, and instead of hitting the gym, online shopping becomes a new pastime.  But it can’t go on anymore, gotta get it back together, so here’s a quick post about my tasty dinner last weekend…Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon with Black Rice Sesame Noodles.   

I had gone intended to buy some soba noodles for this recipe, but these black rice noodles looked so cool that I had to try them.  Plus, I know black rice has tons of antioxidants, so why not eat them in noodle form.  They were really tasty and a perfect substitution in this sesame noodle recipe.

Nutritional Highlights: Salmon is one of those foods that I try to eat once a week if I can.  It has tons of Omega 3’s which very few foods do (other big ones are flaxseed, walnuts, and also sardines…but, ew).  So I try to get it through salmon which is one of my favorites anyway.  A 6 oz portion (which is usually what I ask for at the fish counter) is only about 170 calories.  This black rice noodle side dish is also a nutritional powerhouse.  The noodles have tons of antioxidants and you can add any veggies that you like!

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon

Adapted from Eating Well
4 servings

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


•1 scallion, minced

•2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

•1 tablespoon rice vinegar

•1 tablespoon honey

•1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

•1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skinned (see Tip) and cut into 4 portions

•1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, (see Tip)


1.Whisk scallion, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a sealable plastic bag, add 3 tablespoons of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.

2.Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

3.Transfer the salmon to the pan, skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil the salmon 4 to 6 inches from the heat source until cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce and garnish with sesame seeds.

Tips & Notes

•To toast sesame seeds, heat a small dry skillet over low heat. Add seeds and stir constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

For the Soba Noodles, I used this recipe from Annie Eats but just used the vegetables I had and substituted black rice noodles for soba noodles!

May 152013

There are a few things I always look forward to when I go home to Chicago.  First, seeing my family (duh) and especially it’s newest addition, my nephew Owen.  And second, cooking in my Mom’s amazing kitchen with my grill-master dad ready to assist.  This visit I was in charge of a Mother’s Day BBQ, but needed to come up with a few ideas that wouldn’t take too long as to maximize baby time.  So, I made this relatively easy but super impressive meal, Bruschetta Grilled Chicken Breasts with Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta Salad.  A little more impressive than the usual burgers and dogs, right?

This chicken recipe will definitely be a new go to.  I marinated it in a simple balsamic/garlic/oil mixture but you can also just use a bottled balsamic dressing.  Grill the chicken, and top with a mixture of fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, basil, and garlic, with a drizzle of oil and vinegar.  For the pasta salad, just throw any veggies you like into the oven to roast, and meanwhile, boil some whole wheat pasta.  Toss it all together with store bought or homemade pesto and chill til you’re ready to eat it. 

Check out the grill master at work…

And now the final product.  You want that.

Nutritional Highlights:  BBQs can be a deadly thing…most of the traditional items, burgers, hotdogs, pasta salad, are not the best for you.  This is a great recipe that will satisfy all bbq-goers and not be detrimental to your plans to wear a bathing suit come memorial day.  We all know that chicken is a lean protein source, but go organic if you can afford it.  The topping  has tons of antioxidant rich tomatoes.  For pasta salad, always choose whole grain pasta and load it up with veggies so you eat less of the actual pasta part of it.  I’d also add a salad to this meal, but I just needed to get back to my adorable nephew.  See below…you get why I don’t want to be trapped in the kitchen now.

Bruschetta Chicken

Serves 4

For Chicken:

• 4 chicken breasts (if they are very unevenly thick, you may want to pound them out a bit for easier cooking)

• 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing (or make your own by mixing balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper)

For Bruschetta Topping

• 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

• 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil

• 4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes

• ½ small garlic clove, finely minced (could also sub garlic powder)

• Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar


• salt and pepper to taste


1. Marinade chicken breasts in balsamic vinaigrette for at least 1 hour (but more is even better). I like to poke a few holes in my chicken breasts with a fork so the flavor can really penetrate.

2. While chicken is marinating, combine brushcetta topping and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

3. Grill chicken until it is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes but varies depending on thickness of your chicken)

4. Top chicken with bruschetta topping and enjoy.

Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta Salad

For 4-6 servings


• 2 cups whole wheat penne (or other whole wheat pasta of your choosing)

• 4 cups mixed vegetables, cut into pieces for roasting (I used red pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and asparagus)

• ½ cup pesto (store bought or homemade)

• Olive oil, salt, and pepper


• Preheat oven to 400 and put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta

• Put vegetables in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt pepper (I also added red pepper flakes and garlic powder here). Spread veggies on a large baking sheet.

• Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until vegetables have softened and browned.

• Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.

• Combined pasta, roasted vegetables, and toss with pesto sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve for a bbq but this would also be delish as a hot meal as well!

May 052013

Feliz Cinco de Mayo everyone!  Hopefully you’re spending your day drinking margaritas and eating lots of guacamole, and not working on final papers like I am (or at least, like I should be…what is really happening is a lot of staring at the computer screen).  To keep things a little festive, I made these cute mexican inspired shrimp salads with mango, avocado, red peppers, cilantro, black beans, and onion.  These made an awesome lunch but would also be an impressive appetizer for your upcoming summer fiestas.

Start to finish these took about 30 minutes to make.  Not bad huh?  I used frozen shrimp so while they were thawing under cold water, I chopped the mango, cilantro, red onion, red pepper, jalapeno, and mixed it with black beans and lots of lime juice.  Then I seasoned the shrimpies and sauteed them quickly until just cooked through.  After letting them cool for a few, they got chopped and tossed in with the rest of the salad.  Then, scoop out the center of the avocado, chop it, and add it to the salad, leaving you with cute little avocado bowls for your salads.   Fill the bowls with the salad and prepare to impress people with your creative presentation.  

Nutrition Highlights:  This recipe uses tons of great ingredients- high fiber black beans, vitamin packed mango and red pepper, and shrimp which has lots of tryptophan, selenium, and protein.  You can also make this without the shrimp to keep it vegan.  

Mango-Black Bean Shrimp Salad in Avocado Bowls

Makes 4 Avocado halves


  • 2 Avocados
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped mango
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 6 shrimp, fresh or frozen
  • salt and pepper to taste
1.  If using frozen shrimp, run under cold water to allow it to thaw
2.  Meanwhile, chop all of the other ingredients: red onion, mango, cilantro, red pepper, and jalapeno.
3.  Add the black beans to the other ingredients. 
4.  Halve the avocados and scoop out the centers using a spoon, leaving a little bit of avocado inside so there is a nice green border for your bowls.  I also cut a very small amount off the bottom of the bowl so it would lay flat without rolling.
5.  Season your shrimp (I used salt, pepper, and chili powder) and saute in a tiny bit of oil oil for 2-4 minutes over medium-high heat.   Once cooked through, set shrimp aside to cool.  
6.  Chop 4 of the shrimp and add to the salad.  Cut the other two shrimp in half lengthwise to lay on top of the salad at the end.
7.  Dress your salad with juice from one lime and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
8.  Fill your avocado bowls, top with shrimp half and cilantro leave.  Serve along with some tortilla chips and enjoy!