Monday, April 21, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Speedy Sausage Skewers

Throw a couple additional items in your shopping cart and you’ve got a great, grilled dinner in your future. The sausage is already cooked and doesn’t need to soak in any marinade to pick up flavor. Grilled veggies taste great on their own, and even better with a little dash of seasoning.

It’s worth noting that I use metal skewers because why waste money with one-and-done bamboo skewers? I’m also a big fan of flexible metal skewers, which seem to hold at least double the food as a regular skewer.

Don’t have a gas grill or don’t feel like cooking al fresco? Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and stir-fry the sausages and vegetables for a few minutes over medium-high heat.

No matter how you prepare this meal, it’s going to taste nice and springy with some pasta salad (no shame in buying some at the deli counter) or rice pilaf (which you’ll want to start before skewering the sausage and vegetables).

Speedy Sausage Skewers 
12 ounces cooked chicken sausages, cut into one-inch slices
1 large red bell pepper, cut into one-inch pieces
8 ounces white or brown mushrooms
Creole seasoning (or favorite spice mix)

Prepare your grill (medium-high heat did the trick). Alternate sausage, peppers and mushrooms on skewers. Place skewers on platter and dust skewers with seasoning. Grill until sausage and veggies have some good grill marks but aren’t overly charred, turning skewers occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Remove sausage and vegetables from skewers and serve.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Keep things moving with Make-Fast Mondays

Mondays possess a lot of potential. A productive Monday, both at and after work, can set the tone for a great week ahead. I like to knock out my weekly grocery shopping on Monday evening in order to make room for other things later in the week. By the time all the groceries are unloaded, I’d rather not spend much more time in the kitchen. This is where the idea for Make-Fast Mondays originated. My goal is to create simple, flavorful meals that leave plenty of time for other activities!

Turkey Lavash Wraps 
1 piece whole wheat lavash bread (or other flatbread)
3 ounces oven-roasted turkey deli meat
2-3 tablespoons of your favorite hummus
1-2 loosely packed cups of baby lettuce mix
Hefty pinch of micro sprouts (alfalfa sprouts would also work)
10-12 thin English cucumber slices

Spread hummus evenly on piece of lavash bread. Arrange turkey and cucumber slices in even layers on one half of the lavash. Add lettuce mix to the other half of the lavash. Sprinkle sprouts on top of turkey. Roll up lavash, cut finished roll into two pieces and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Feeding my cold with plenty of fluids

I’ve been under the weather for the past couple days. I try to consume as many fluids as possible in order to to stay hydrated, and I’ve got a few standard go-to comforts when I’ve come down with a cold -- brothy soups, Emergen-C and lots of hot tea (caffeine-free peppermint’s my favorite). Smoothies like this one are also pretty great, and I’m drinking this particular blend in hopes that it does keep the doctor away and that I’m back to good in no time.

An Apple a Day
1 Pink Lady apple, cored and sliced
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup coconut water

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Miso makes everything taste better

Y’know that broiled salmon I made a while back? Turns out the miso marinade from that recipe also tastes pretty flippin’ good with tofu and asparagus! Baking tofu is a relatively new thing in our house, but lemme tell you, it is wonderful because it comes out of the oven toasty on the outside and soft on the inside. Give it a try!

Miso Asparagus and Tofu with Black Rice 
½ cup white miso paste
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
14-ounce package firm tofu, cubed and patted dry with paper towels
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends peeled and/or removed
3 cups cooked black rice
Non-stick cooking spray
Sliced green onion, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and mist two cooking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk first six ingredients together in large bowl. Working in batches, add a few tofu cubes to bowl at a time, stirring gently with slotted spoon. Use spoon to remove tofu from bowl, allowing excess sauce to drain back into the bowl, and arrange cubes, in a single layer and so that they’re not touching, on one of the coated baking sheets. Put tofu in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, flip tofu cubes, and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes.

Use slotted spoon to mix asparagus with remaining miso sauce until lightly coated. Distribute asparagus on second baking sheet. Put asparagus in the oven 10 minutes before the tofu’s done, and everything is ready to serve at the same time. Divide rice evenly among four plates or bowls, then top with asparagus and tofu, and garnish with green onion.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Salad fit for a picnic basket

This salad has got a lot going on -- it’s crunchy, chewy, sweet and tangy. It’s also got a great make-ahead quality to it (just keep the balsamic vinaigrette in a separate container), so it's perfectly portable for the next time you feel like dining al fresco.

Picnic Salad 
Shredded green leaf lettuce
½ cup cooked chicken breast, cubed
½ cup cooked Israeli couscous
½ cup diced apple
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup blanched, slivered almonds
Balsamic vinaigrette

Combine ingredients in a bowl, drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette, and enjoy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Maximizing mushrooms in this decadent burger

If you’ve seen “Anchorman,” I’m sure you can recall Ron Burgundy singing “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch.” Well, my version of this song would be all about mushrooms, and while it might not be as catchy, and definitely has more syllables, the idea’s still the same because I love putting mushrooms in and on everything!

I had planned to grill these mushroomy burgers for dinner last night. However, I did this without checking the forecast. It’s been raining quite a bit today, so instead of monitoring my burgers while wearing a raincoat and headlamp, I brought out Nana Dollie’s trusty cast-iron skillet instead. I think cooking everything in one skillet made the flavors even better.

Million Mushroom Skillet Burgers 
1 pound 93% lean ground sirloin
3 teaspoons Trader Joe’s Black Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
8 ounces sliced brown mushrooms
3 slices of Trader Joe’s Triple Cream Brie with Wild Mushrooms
3 pretzel buns, toasted
Salt and pepper

Form ground beef into three patties. Place patties on a plate, season each side with a little bit of salt and pepper, and set plate aside. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or so. Put mushrooms in a bowl and tent bowl with aluminum foil. Increase heat to high and add remaining oil to skillet so surface has a light overall coating. Place patties in skillet and cook for three minutes before flipping. Cook patties for additional 5-7 minutes or until they’re cooked to your preference. Top each patty with a slice of Brie about two minutes before burgers are done. Sandwich the patty, topped with sautéed mushrooms, between buns.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A breakfast beverage to brighten your day

We finally got some much-needed rain out here in California. Never thought I’d be so happy to see gray skies and wet roads! While we’ve been waiting for rain to come, I know plenty of friends and family elsewhere in the country who have had their fill of wintry conditions. No matter the forecast for your neck of the woods, brighten your day with this smoothie. This recipe makes enough to fill two pint glasses, plus a little extra.

Sunshine in a Glass 
2 cups carrot-orange juice
2 bananas
3 cups frozen peaches

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.