Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Grilled Chicken Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

I’m not typically an impulse buyer at the grocery store. I have my weekly menu planning down to an art and do a great job sticking to my shopping list...until I show up at Trader Joe’s. They do too good of a job of creating new, reasonably priced items that pique my interest and before you know it, I’m buying things that weren’t on my list. This is how I ended up bringing home a bottle of Trader Joe’s Yuzu Hot Sauce, which touts itself as “simultaneously spicy and citrusy fragrant.”

For someone who can tolerate a mild-to-moderate level of spice, this sauce has plenty of kick for my liking. Using it in the salad dressing (that also doubles as a marinade) for this colorful salad is a great way to enjoy a little heat along with lots of other fresh flavors.

Grilled Chicken Salads with Spicy Citrus Dressing
Serves 4 

For the salad dressing: 
2 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Yuzu Hot Sauce
½ cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
1 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for grilling
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

For the salad: 
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ head green cabbage, shredded
¼ head red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated or sliced into ribbons
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
4 green onions, sliced
2 avocados, sliced

Combine ½ cup of the dressing with chicken breasts in a bowl or resealable plastic bag. Let chicken marinate in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. Refrigerate remaining salad dressing.

Once chicken has marinated, preheat the grill at medium-high heat. When you’re ready to grill, first oil the grill by oiling a folded paper towel, holding it with tongs and rubbing it over the rack. Use a fork or tongs to remove chicken from marinade and place chicken on the grill. Grill the chicken, flipping once, until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter or cutting board and let it sit for a few minutes before slicing.

Divide chicken and vegetables among four plates and top with remaining salad dressing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lemony Shrimp and Asparagus with Cheesy Polenta

This recipe is the perfect combination of what I love about winter cooking and spring cooking, and it’s great for this time of year when we’re still getting rain in the Bay Area but the daffodils and irises are pushing up.

On one hand you have polenta, which is perfectly cozy and comforting and just what I want slowly simmering on the stove when it’s cold and dark outside. But then you also have bright, springy flavors thanks to shrimp quickly cooked with tender asparagus and some zippy lemon. It’s the best of both worlds!

Lemony Shrimp and Asparagus with Cheesy Polenta 
Serves 4-6 
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup polenta
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup sliced shallots (from 3 large shallots)
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually add polenta, stirring for a minute, before reducing heat to low and covering the saucepan. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring the polenta for a minute every 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan and lemon zest.

While polenta is cooking, heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shallots have softened and started to brown. Add butter to the pan to melt before adding asparagus and cooking for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Remove pan from heat, stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Distribute polenta evenly among bowls, followed by shrimp and asparagus, and then garnish with Parmesan.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Kale Salad with Spiced Chickpeas and Sunflower Seeds

I’ve been working on this recipe for a few weeks now, and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally nailed it. As I’ve said before, I love a snappy salad with plenty of sass, and this one has plenty to go around. 
A few things I want to mention about this recipe:

  • Massaging the kale helps to tenderize it a bit. 
  • While the chickpeas are more spiced than spicy, if you like your flavors on the milder side you can try using half the recommended amount. 
  • You might end up with extra dressing, but it’ll be OK in the fridge for a couple days. 
  • I like mine on the thicker side of things, and it’s also great as a dip with raw veggies. 
  • Add a cup of cooked quinoa to make the salad even bigger and heartier. 
  • This recipe yields 4 entree salads or more as a side.

Kale Salad with Spiced Chickpeas and Sunflower Seeds 
For the salad: 
1 bunch green curly kale, washed, stalks removed and leaves sliced
1 cup shredded red cabbage (from ¼ head)
1 cup grated carrot (from 2 carrots)
½ cup raisins
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Half a lime, juiced

For the spiced chickpeas and sunflower seeds:
2 cans chickpeas, drained and toweled off
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup raw, shelled sunflower seeds

For the dressing: 
½ cup avocado (from 1 avocado)
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Start by preparing the salad. In a large bowl, add kale, cabbage, carrots, raisins, salt, olive oil and lime juice. Massage ingredients for a minute and then set aside.

Next, prepare the chickpeas and sunflower seeds. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas with olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, coriander and salt, until chickpeas are evenly coated with seasoning mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes. While chickpeas are in the oven, toss sunflower seeds in the same bowl used for the chickpeas to pick up any remaining spices. After baking chickpeas for 18 minutes, add sunflower seeds to baking sheet and bake for 2 more minutes before removing baking sheet from the oven.

Once the chickpeas are in the oven, make the dressing by blending the avocado, Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, olive oil and cumin in a food processor. Thin the dressing with water to desired consistency by adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time.

Toss salad mixture with dressing until coated to your liking (I used ½ cup) and divide evenly among plates. Top each plate with spiced chickpeas and sunflower seeds.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Quinoa Breakfast Casserole with Andouille and Greens

It’s all about the proteins with this breakfast casserole. Between the eggs, quinoa and some spicy Andouille, you’re getting quite the protein punch. Add a bunch of beet greens for even more healthy goodness! Don’t have (or don’t like) beet greens? Use a bunch of kale or chard instead. Can't find Gruyère? White cheddar or Monterey Jack would also taste great.

Quinoa Breakfast Casserole with Andouille and Greens 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
8 ounces andouille sausage, cubed
1 bunch beet greens, chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Gruyère

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish (I used an 8-by-8 glass dish) with butter or non-stick spray. Heat olive oil in a frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add Andouille and cook until browned, 4-5 minutes. Add beet greens and quinoa to the pan and cook for another minute or two. Add mixture to baking dish, followed by eggs. Top with grated Gruyère and bake for 20-25 minutes, until eggs are set.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chocolate Banana Spinach Smoothie

This smoothie has become my favorite snack when I’m craving something sweet but don’t want to resort to eating candy or a cookie. Even though it contains 2 packed cups of fresh baby spinach, this smoothie’s green hue is the only indication it contains vegetables.

Chocolate Banana Spinach Smoothie 
1 large banana
2 packed cups baby spinach
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk (I use low-fat cow’s milk, but it’s also really good with unsweetened almond milk)
A couple ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Frittata Bites with Spinach and Parmesan

Our friends recently invited us to a brunch potluck...with a bit of a twist. What set this party apart? It was a tiny food party! Everyone was encouraged to bring a bite-sized food or beverage to share. It took a while for me to figure out what I wanted to bring that would fit the theme, and settled on making frittata bites, which were quick and easy to make in my mini-muffin pan. This recipe yields about 30 tiny frittatas, which ended up being plenty to go around considering all the delicious options people brought including tiny burritos, hard-boiled quail eggs and even mimosas in miniature champagne flutes.

Frittata Bites with Spinach and Parmesan 
8 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces baby spinach, chopped
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat eggs, milk and olive oil together in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. If your mini muffin pans aren’t the nonstick variety, be sure to prepare them with a little bit of cooking spray or butter. Put one tablespoon of egg mixture in each muffin cup. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the middle of mini frittata comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mushroom Marsala Lasagna

If you don’t already know this about me, I LOOOOOVE mushrooms. This decadent lasagna is just my latest in a long list of meals centered around my favorite fungus.

If you, like me, can't get enough mushroomy goodness in your life, scroll down beyond the lasagna recipe for links to some other delicious recipes!

Mushroom Marsala Lasagna 
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped shallots
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 cup marsala wine
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups milk
½ cup cup grated Parmesan
⅓ cup chopped Italian parsley
3 cups mix of grated Fontina and Gruyère
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In Dutch oven or other large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add half the mushrooms to the pot and saute for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining mushrooms and cooking for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the marsala and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in flour and nutmeg and cook for a minute. Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened a little. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and parsley. 

To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Layer the dish with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles followed by mushroom sauce and grated cheese. Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil from dish and bake for additional 15-20 minutes, allowing cheese to brown. Remove lasagna from oven, season with fresh cracked pepper, and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

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