Nov 122015
 

We all know that when life gets busy, cooking is one of the first things to go. I’m guilty of it too, although due to my somewhat frugal nature (aka shamelessly cheap), rather than ordering take-out this means resorting to a combination of hummus, cereal, peanut butter, and anything else I can find in my fridge. I’ve been getting crafty though, and have realized delicious does not have to entail 20 ingredients and hours in the kitchen. Would you believe me if I told you that this meal, this beautiful restaurant quality, fancy-looking meal, took me a whopping 15 minutes to make? Well believe it.
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Pan-seared salmon is the perfect quick and healthy meal, and for this one after cooking it I made a quick sauce in the pan with a whopping 4 ingredients (lemon juice, maple syrup, whole grain dijon mustard, and olive oil). Another time saving secret I use every week is to prep a big batch of grains and roasted veggies on the weekend, any kind you have/like. This week for me that included quinoa and roasted beets and brussel sprouts. I combined the two along with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oil and vinegar for a super fast side dish.
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Nutrition highlights: We all know salmon is healthy, and I think any fish is better than none (since most of us don’t eat nearly enough)! Still, the truth is that NOT all salmon is created equal and lately even frugal-old-me has been spending the extra few dollars to get wild Alaskan or Norweigan salmon rather than farm raised Atlantic salmon. Not only does it typically have less toxins (like polychlorinated biphenyls), it also has about 1/3 less calories, almost half the fat and higher amounts of many healthy vitamins and minerals. This meal is rounded out by complex carbs/fiber from the quinoa and tons of veggies (brussels and beets) to make it the perfect balanced meal. Though the sauce has a little sugar from the maple syrup, it adds a sweet dimension to this savory dish that makes it incredibly satisfying.
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Pan-Seared Salmon with Maple-Mustard Pan Sauce
makes 1 serving (double it for 2!)
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What’s in it:
1 4-oz wild salmon filet
Juice from 1 lemon, divided
1 Tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons good maple syrup
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, (optional: garlic powder, dried thyme)
Optional: chopped nuts to top fish

How to make it:
1. Cut about 1/3 of the lemon off and squeeze over your salmon filet. Let sit for a few minutes (at least 5) while you get the other ingredients ready.
2. Heat a heavy skillet (NOT non stick is better to get a good crust) over medium-high heat. Dry off the salmon with a paper napkin, season generously with salt and pepper. Once your pan is very hot, add about 1 teaspoon olive oil and place the salmon in the pan (flesh down/skin up). Let cook undisturbed for about 4 minutes (more or less depending on thickness) and then flip and cook the other side for another 3 minutes.
3. Set salmon aside and reduce heat to low. Add another 1 tspn olive oil, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, and the maple syrup/ mustard. Add salt, pepper, and optional garlic powder/dried thyme to taste. Simmer for 1 minute until the sauce thickens slightly.
4. Spoon sauce over salmon and top with chopped nuts for crunch. Serve with your favorite roasted veggies/whole grain for the healthiest meal in all the land. Enjoy!
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Give your seamless/grub-hub/neighborhood chipotle a break this week and try a quick and healthy meal like this one!!
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Jul 012015
 

After spending two weeks in Thailand for my honeymoon, I wasn’t so sure I was ready to come back to America. The beaches were beautiful, the were people friendly, you could have an AMAZING massage for approximately $4, and you can eat pad thai daily with no shame (ps, recipes coming soon!). But, alas, here I am back in the US and I’ve gotta say it’s not so bad here either. Between the supreme court decision last week, the perfect NYC weather, and the 4th of July coming up this weekend, I’m feeling pretty patriotic. Here are two amazing recipe ideas to spice up (literally and figuratively) your summer BBQs!
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Making delicious food in the summer is easy because the produce is so freaking good. Too many people miss this amazing opportunity at have a 4th of July cookout with some sad hot dogs, stale doritos, and maybe a lone slice of watermelon if you’re lucky. Add color and flavor to your bbq using lots of fresh fruits and veggies, in these dishes that look way more advanced than they are.
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This salad is a mix of chopped kale, cooked quinoa, cubed mango and avocado, toasted sunflower seeds, and cilantro. The amazing charred jalapeno vinaigrette adds the perfect punch to bring it all together.
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These kebabs may look like your standard chicken skewers, but looks can be deceiving. These are actually swordfish skewers, which are perfect for grilling due to its sturdy texture. The marinade is a spicy mix of ginger, garlic, soy, and dijon and they can be skewered along with any of your favorite veggies.
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Nutrition highlights: Both of these recipes are incredibly healthy. The kebabs use swordfish which is low in calories (150 per 3 oz serving), and high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids which is great for controlling inflammation in your body. A simple marinade and lots of veggies makes this a very healthy bbq option. The salad is great too, and on it’s own is completely gluten free and vegan. It’s high in protein from the quinoa and healthy fats from the avocado and sunflower seeds, and tons of vitamins (like C and A). It can stand alone as a meal or be the perfect side for your summer BBQ.
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Mango-Avocado Quinoa Salad with Charred Jalapeno Vinaigrette
Makes 3 servings as a main, 5-6 as a side
adapted from plated.com
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What’s in it:

For the salad-
3/4 cup quinoa
1 mango, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 large avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (note, don’t cut avocado until right before use)
1 bunch kale (can sub other greens if you prefer), big stems discarded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

For the dressing-
1 jalapeno
1 shallot, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste

How to make it:
1. Cook your quinoa. Combine 3/4 cup quinoa with 1 1/4 cups water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 10-12 minutes or until water is evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
2. Heat a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron skillet) over high heat. Half the jalapeno and carefully remove the seeds (don’t touch your eyes or you will pay). When pan is just starting to smoke, place the jalapeno cut side down and cook for 3-4 minutes, flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes, pressing down slightly so you get a nice char on the outside. If you are using raw sunflower seeds, you can toast them in this same pan for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. If you’re using already roasted/toasted sunflower seeds you can skip this step.
3. Make the dressing by finely mincing the jalapeno and then adding the vinegar, lime juice, minced shallot, and honey. Whisk to combine. Slowly add olive oil while whisking the dressing. Taste the dressing and add salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.
4. Make the salad by combining the all of the cooled quinoa, thinly chopped kale, and 3/4 of the cilantro, avocado, mango, and sunflower seeds. Toss this with the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste. Top the salad with the remaining cilantro, avocado, mango, and sunflower seeds for presentation. Enjoy!

Notes:
-You can make the vinaigrette and prepare the salad ingredients (except the avocado/mango) up to 2 days in advance. Just toss all of the ingredients before serving!
– If you’re making it for a main, feel free to add other ingredients like red bell peppers, black beans, or tomatoes. Be creative!
– Depending on how much heat you like, you can use more or less jalapeno in the dressing.
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Spicy Swordfish Skewers
Makes about 4 servings (6 smalls skewers or 4 large)
adapted from Ina Garten
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What’s in it:

3 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoon peanut or canola oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/4- 1 1/2 lb swordfish steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt, Pepper to taste
Vegetables for skewering: choose your favorites like zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, red onion, and mushrooms
6 bamboo skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in water

1. Make the marinade by combining the first 8 ingredients. Add the cubed swordfish and marinate in a plastic bag or sealed container for at least 1 hour (preferably 4-8).
2. Prepare the vegetables by cutting them into pieces as close as possible to size as the swordfish cubes.
3. Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high.
4. Make the skewers by alternating veggies and swordfish cubes. Brush the kebabs with some of the remaining marinade and season with salt and pepper as desired.
5. Grill the kebabs for about 2-3 minutes per side, until swordfish is just cooked through and veggies and fish are browned. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Sep 112013
 

I cook so often, that it is relatively rare that I use an ingredient I never have used before. Well, this was an exception. This was my very first scallop endeavour, and I have to say it went pretty darn well. Not sure why I was scared of the little guys. Maybe it was the risk of overcooking, or the need to get the perfectly seared crust, but either way I discovered there’s nothing to be afraid of (except maybe the price tag).
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I also used this recipe as an excuse to get a last use of my favorite summer ingredients-corn and tomatoes. This succotash was incredibly flavorful and was the perfect base for my scallops. See you next year cute little cherry tomatoes from the farmers market…I’ll miss you more than you know.
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Nutritional Highlights: Scallops are really high in protein, selenium, phosphorus, and B12. This B12 is especially important because it helps protect our cardiovascular system from damage by converting this bad chemical (homocystine) into something harmless. Pretty impressive, huh? Corn and tomatoes are also packed with nutrients like vitamin C. Serve this dish along with a little salad and you have a super healthy summer meal.
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Seared Scallops with Tomato-Corn Succotash
adapted from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Serves 4
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What’s in it:

  • 2lb scallops (ask for dry scallops!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus 3 leaves julienned for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon butter

How to Make it:
1. Rinse the scallops under cold water and place between paper towels so they will dry completely. (Note: make sure you buy DRY scallops, because these will be the only kind to get a great sear).

2. Meanwhile, make your succotash. In large nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium flame. Saute the onion slowly until translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and corn and continue to saute until the corn is bright yellow and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for another few minutes until the corn is beginning to caramelize. Turn the heat down to low and add the tomatoes. Stir slowly until the tomatoes heated through, but have not begun to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon and the basil off the heat, and transfer to a platter.
NOTE: the corn can be served warm or at room temperature if you want to make it in advance.

3. Clean out skillet and heat one tablespoon of olive oil over a high flame. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the butter. Gently pat the scallops with a paper towel to make sure they are nice and dry and season them with salt on one side. When the butter is melted and the pan is smoking, add the scallops, making sure not to crowd the pan (you may need to do this in 2 or 3 batches). Turn the pan to keep the butter and oil evenly distributed, but DO NOT move the scallops until they have properly browned, about 2-3 minutes depending on the size of your scallops. When they have a good sear (dark brown crust), flip them and cook for another minute. The scallops should still be slightly translucent in the center–if they are opaque throughout, they will likely be overcooked by the time you serve them. Remove finished scallops to the corn platter, making sure to put the beautiful seared side facing up. Repeat with the remaining scallops.

4. Place scallops over the succotash, squeeze a little extra lemon juice over the scallops and garnish with julienned basil. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
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Jul 152013
 

One of my favorite features of my new apartment is the little herb garden I’ve started in the windowsill. Well, it’s actually a bit generous to even call it a garden, really it’s just three little pots.  And while we’re being honest, I should probably confess that I’ve already killed 2 of the 3 plants (rest in peace thyme and oregano).  Clearly I don’t have much of a green thumb, at least not yet, but what I do have is a surprisingly healthy basil plant despite my repeated attempts at negligence, so I’ve been trying to use her as much as possible.  Last week it was in this amazing summer “pasta” dish, Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo served over Zucchini Linguine.


For me, pasta has always been more about the sauce and the toppings than the noodles itself.   That’s why I’m so excited when I come up with a noodle like alternative, like spaghetti squash in the fall or shredded zucchini in the summer.  For noodle enthusiasts out there (hey, sis) this substitution may not cut it, but for me it’s a perfect way to lighten up a heavy italian dish.  Next time I may get a julienne peeler, which makes the zucchini a little thicker and sturdier, but I just used a wide cheese grater for this “linguine”.  The sauce was a spicy mix of tomatoes, white wine, garlic, herbs, and of course, chili flakes.  Simply sauteed shrimp topped it off and this meal took well under an hour start to finish.


Nutritional Highlights:  A cup of cooked linguine would have 220 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates, whereas a cup of zucchini has only about 20 calories and 4 carbohydrates. Just a tiny difference there, right?  By making your own sauce, you know that there isn’t a ton of added salt and sugar like a lot of store bought sauces have.  Shrimp is a great low cal protein source as well, but be careful with shellfish if you have high cholesterol (but as long and you’re careful with portion size, you should be OK).  Overall this meal is incredibly healthy and well balanced, and perfect for a quick summer meal.


Shrimp Fra Diavolo
serves 4

adapated from Giada DeLaurentis

Ingredients
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined (I used wild frozen shrimp)
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

4 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute, until fragrant.  Then add tomatoes with their juices, wine, oregano, and half of the basil. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10-15 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

For Zucchini Pasta:  Use about 1 large Zucchini per person.  Shred the zucchini into pasta strands, it seems like a julienne peeler gets the best results, but you can also use a cheese grater. Right before serving, heat a saute pan over medium, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, and add your zucchini.  Saute for 2 minutes just until it has softened slightly, season with salt and pepper, and top with your favorite sauce and toppings (like this shrimp fra diavolo!  Enjoy!

 

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



Ingredients

•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)

Preparation

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 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

Ingredients:

  • 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
Directions:
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!

 

Jun 132012
 

I can’t believe that less than five years ago I wouldn’t even go near seafood or fish of any kind (except for maybe those little orange crackers) and now it’s basically the only thing I order when I eat out.  The only problem is that it can get pretty expensive at restaurants so I decided to make some restaurant quality tuna at home.  This sesame crusted tuna is seared and served rare along with a spicy Avocado-Wasabi sauce.  





The sesame seed crust isn’t just there to make it look cool. It also gives the tuna great crunchy texture and nuttiness.  It’s also incredibly quick to make, because you only cook the tuna for about 20 seconds on each side if you like it rare like I do.  You’ll impress just about anyone with this meal, and it took me about 15 minutes to put together the whole thing.  Not too bad.         





Nutritional Highlights:  Tuna is totally nutrient packed.  It’s an excellent source of protein and rich in a variety of important nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, and potassium; the B vitamins niacin, B1 and B6; and perhaps most important, the beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids. Although people worry about consuming too much Mercury, as long as you eat tuna in moderation you will be fine.  The sesame seeds and avocado sauce add additional protein and healthy fat to this recipe.  Serving it with plenty of vegetables makes this and incredibly healthy meal for anyone (except maybe my prego sister :)

Seared sesame crusted tuna
  • ¾ to 1 lb sushi grade yellowfin tuna
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Sea salt
  1. Cut the tuna into 2-3 rectangular pieces.
  2. Mix the sesame seeds and sea salt together on a plate.
  3. Press the tuna into the sesame seeds on all sides.
  4. Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Sear the tuna for 20 seconds on each side, then transfer to a paper towel to drain. Let rest a couple of minutes.
  6. Slice  into ¼-thick pieces and serve with orange ginger dipping sauce.
For the Avocado-wasabi sauce:  I mixed 1/4 mashed avocado, 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste (I had saved from my last sushi order), juice from 1/2 lime, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and salt. If wasabi is not your thing, you could also try this orange ginger sauce from the original recipe here.  

Serve the tuna with the wasabi sauce and your favorite veggies or brown rice.  Enjoy your amazing restaurant quality meal at home!