Monday, December 1, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Grilled Maple Soy Salmon

Just because winter’s in the air doesn’t mean you can’t pop outside for a few minutes to grill up this quick dinner! Pair this delicious salmon with a side salad, some steamed rice, whatever floats your boat.

Grilled Maple Soy Salmon 
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
2 half-pound coho salmon fillets, skin removed
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

In a resealable plastic bag, combine soy sauce, maple syrup, sambal oelek and salmon fillets. Marinade for 30 minutes. Preheat the grill at medium-high heat. Remove salmon from bag and discard remaining marinade. Grill salmon for 8 minutes, flipping once. Sprinkle each fillet with sesame seeds before serving.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Much to celebrate!

I don’t write about life outside the kitchen too much on this site -- this is a food blog, after all! However, happenings outside of the blogosphere have been pretty darned exciting so I figure it’s time to bring everyone up to speed (which also explains why you haven't seen a ton of new posts in recent months). The two biggies?

1. Chris and I moved from Sacramento to Mountain View last year and are loving life in the Bay Area, and

2. We got married!

Our big day was everything we’d hoped and planned for -- so much joy and love shared with our families and friends. Now that things have calmed down and we’re settling into daily life as husband and wife, I’m really excited to get back into the kitchen and to create new, share-worthy recipes. First up is a new Make-Fast Mondays treat I whipped up the other night.

Open-Faced Salmon Sandwiches 
Dark rye
Sliced smoked salmon
Whipped cream cheese
Capers, drained and rinsed
Mustard (Inglehoffer Creamy Dill, if you can find it, but Dijon's also great)

Apply a good slathering of cream cheese to toasted rye slices. Add salmon, top with capers and a dollop of mustard, and enjoy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Merguez Pita Pizzas

Have you ever tried merguez? It’s my new favorite sausage and one I recently discovered thanks to a vendor at our local farmers market. This spicy lamb sausage tastes great grilled, and it’s also fabulous on these single-serving pita pizzas.

Merguez Pita Pizzas 
½ pound merguez, casings removed
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ cup thin-sliced red onion
½ cup feta
4 pita rounds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is heating, brown sausage in frying pan over medium heat, using spatula or large spoon to break meat into crumbles. Remove from heat drain fat from pan. Place two pita rounds on two baking sheets. Combine tomato sauce, oregano and garlic powder in a bowl and whisk with fork until blended. Divide sauce among the four pita rounds, followed by the red onions, feta and merguez. Bake pizzas for 15 minutes, remove from oven and serve.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Get these barbecue chicken bowls in your life

One of the many reasons why I love my slow cooker? Throw some meat in with a little sauce, simmer for a few hours and BAM! Shredded, meaty goodness. I recently revisited the barbecue chicken aspect of this recipe and crafted up some seriously delicious bowls.

Barbecue Chicken Bowls 
You’ll want the following ingredients per serving: 
1 cup shredded barbecue chicken
½ cup fresh, raw corn
½ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup cooked pinto beans
Garnishes including finely diced red onion, chopped cilantro and sliced avocado

Combine ingredients in large salad bowl and enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Focaccia Veggie Pizzas

Not sure about you, but little Loryll was a biiiiig fan of french-bread pizzas. This is my grown-up attempt take on this special, easy treat. I’ve balanced out the food groups just a little bit more -- less pepperoni and bread, with more veggies and still plenty of delicious cheese. 

Focaccia Veggie Pizzas 
1 16-ounce focaccia loaf
1 cup prepared pesto
1 ½ cups marinara sauce
2 large sliced Roma tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced (I ended up with 10-12)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice the focaccia horizontally so you’ve got two thin, flat pieces to work with. Place each focaccia slice on a baking sheet. Spread pesto sauce on one piece of the focaccia and top with half the mozzarella slices and all of the tomatoes. Evenly cover the other slice of focaccia with marinara sauce, remaining mozzarella and red bell peppers. Bake the pizzas for 10 minutes before removing them from the oven, slicing and serving.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Creamy Cilantro and White Bean Soup

Want a thick, creamy soup without adding any dairy? My favorite trick in the past has been to purée some, if not all of my ingredients, with our trusty Vitamix after everything’s had a chance to simmer. However, scooping steamy soup into a pitcher can be a bit hot and messy, so with this recipe I opted to purée before cooking. Less mess, and tossing the whole onion into the blender meant less time chopping. Piece of cake.

Creamy Cilantro and White Bean Soup 
4 15-ounce cans white beans, drained
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 large white onion
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic 
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Equipment: Blender 

Put two cans of beans, broth, onion and cilantro in blender pitcher, add lid, and blend ingredients until smooth. Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium flame. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two, until aromatic. Pour contents of pitcher and remaining beans into pot. Stir in cumin. Increase heat and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat, cover pot with lid and let soup simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Remove soup from heat and stir in the lime juice. Divide soup among four bowls and serve.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Garden Fajita Veggies with Quinoa

I don’t know about you, but it seems like a lot of people I know are in for a bountiful summer of home-grown goodies. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are blowing up with lovely photos of herbs, fruits and vegetables grown in backyards and container gardens. Me? I’m about to bring in my first ripe Early Girl of the year and can’t wait to take a big bite out of that gorgeous red tomato. Use this recipe the next time you find yourself wondering what to do with a cornucopia of sun-ripened veggies from the garden (or just want a quick meat-free dinner idea). While I used zucchini, bell pepper and mushrooms, pretty much any mix of vegetables will work just fine.

Garden Fajita Vegetables with Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large zucchini, diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
8 ounces sliced brown mushrooms
1 packet fajita seasoning

Possible garnishes: avocado slices, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion, hot sauce

Bring 6 cups water to boil in saucepan. Add quinoa and continue boiling for 10-15 minutes, until quinoa is soft. Remove saucepan from heat and drain. While quinoa is boiling, heat vegetable oil in frying pan or skillet over high heat. Add vegetables and cook for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re tender but not mushy. Reduce heat to low and add fajita seasoning and appropriate amount of water indicated on the packaging. Let simmer for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally so the veggies get a nice saucy coating. Scoop some quinoa into a couple bowls, top with veggies, garnish to your liking and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ready to dig into a satisfying salad?

While this Asian chicken salad recipe isn’t the most original idea I’ve had in the kitchen, it’s still pretty satisfying.

Sesame Chicken Slaw 
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave syrup
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 head green cabbage, shredded (about six cups)
2 cups diced chicken breast
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin
⅓ cup chopped green onions
⅓ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup unsalted, dry roasted peanuts

Whisk lemon juice, soy sauce, agave syrup, minced ginger and sesame oil together to create dressing. Combine remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl and drizzle with dressing. Use tongs to toss and serve salad.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Meatball mania!

Who doesn’t love a good meatball? While handmade always beats the competition, I’m also a big fan of buying a bag of frozen meatballs when there’s not enough time or motivation to start from scratch. Simmer pre-made meatballs with a jar of your favorite marinara, serve with creamy polenta (so easy when using the technique described in this recipe) and top with fresh basil and you’ve got a delicious dinner takes about 30 minutes to make, doesn’t require much prep work and won’t leave you washing dishes all night.

Meatballs with Marinara and Creamy Polenta 
1 pound bag frozen meatballs
25-ounce jar of marinara sauce
1 cup polenta
1 quart chicken broth
2 bay leaves
Fresh basil, sliced, for garnish

Bring chicken broth to a boil in large saucepan.

While waiting for broth to boil, place meatballs and marinara in large sauté pan and cover, cooking over low-medium heat and stirring occasionally, until meatballs are thoroughly heated, roughly 30 minutes. 

Once broth is boiling, gradually add polenta and bay leaves, stirring for a minute or two, 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 discard the bay leaves. Divide polenta between four dishes. Top each dish with meatballs, marinara and basil.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Make-Fast Mondays: Dill-icious Pasta Salad

Tonight’s Make-Fast Monday dinner is the end result in taking what I love about this recipe and ramping it up while scaling back the pasta. The end result is an entree-worthy pasta salad loaded with delicious shrimp, crunchy cucumber and a delightfully dilly dressing. It’s easy to prep all the components of this salad while boiling water and cooking your pasta. It’s also worth noting that I used Trader Joe’s Brown Rice  & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta, a new favorite, but a whole-wheat pasta would also yield similar results. 

Shrimp and Cucumber Fusilli with Dill Dressing 
¾ cup olive oil
5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ cup chopped dill
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
8 ounce fusilli, cooked al dente and rinsed with cold water
4 green onions, sliced
1 pound Persian cucumbers, halved and cut into thick slices (English cucumber would also work)
1 pound cooked medium shrimp, tails removed and deveined
1 cup fat-free crumbled feta

Blend olive oil, Dijon, dill and white wine vinegar in a blender until smooth and creamy. Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl, and stir in dressing until everything’s evenly coated.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A salad that talks back

This is not a quiet salad. Cabbage and pepitas give it plenty of satisfying crunch, and the shrimp possess a nice kick thanks to garlic, cayenne, cumin and lime juice.

Snappy Shrimp and Cabbage Salad 
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 tablespoon agave syrup
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
¾ pound raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups shredded green cabbage
1/2 cup pepitas
1 cup black beans
1 avocado, sliced

Create salad dressing by whisking 2 tablespoons lime juice, agave syrup, salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil and cilantro in a bowl; set aside. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons in frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan and sauté until fragrant, just a minute or so. Add shrimp to pan with cumin, cayenne pepper and lime juice. Cook shrimp for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until pink. Build salads by equally divide shredded cabbage, beans, shrimp, avocado and pepitas between two large dishes or bowls. Top with salad dressing and enjoy.

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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

You just can’t say no to baked ravioli

Baked ravioli is simply irresistible. How do I know?

The first time I made baked ravioli, I was fresh out of college and was just starting to experiment in the kitchen. One night, I got the bright idea to take a package of fresh ravioli, mix it in a baking dish with some marinara sauce, top it with plenty of grated cheese, and bake until melted and bubbly. Not too shabby for a first attempt, I thought, and put a mostly full casserole dish in the fridge after enjoying my dinner.

Imagine my shock when I opened the fridge a couple days later, ready to enjoy my leftovers, and instead discovered an empty, dirty baking dish. My roommate at the time apparently spotted the ravioli, decided to help himself to what would have been three or four meals for me. Instead of cleaning up after himself and apologizing, he thought it would be funny to put the dirty dish back in the fridge and wait for me to find it. Ridiculous.

Let this serve as a warning -- if you make the following recipe, be prepared to fight for your fair share!

Baked Ravioli 
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces brown mushrooms, sliced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
25-ounce bag frozen ravioli (I used Safeway Select Portobello Ravioli)
2 cups grated mozzarella or other shredded cheese (I used cheddar because it was already in the fridge) 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for about a minute before adding mushrooms. Cook mushrooms for a couple minutes, until slightly soft. Add diced tomatoes, oregano, Worcestershire sauce and red pepper flakes to pan. Let sauce simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon one cup of the sauce mix into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Layer half the ravioli in the dish, cover with a half the sauce, top with one cup of cheese, then repeat. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove from heat and serve.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fresh cocktail fit for Fridays

Every day has the potential to be great, but you’ve got to admit -- Fridays are their own kind of wonderful.

2 mint leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 ounces grapefruit juice
2 ounces vodka
2 teaspoons agave syrup
Soda water

Muddle mint leaves in cocktail mixer. Add grapefruit juice, vodka and agave syrup to mixer. Cover and shake the mixer. Pour contents into glass filled with ice. Top off with some soda water, stir, garnish with mint leaf, and enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Broiled salmon packed with sweet, smoky flavors

This easy dinner has a lot of things going for it. First off, the key ingredient is delicious salmon. Salmon’s pretty good no matter what you do to it, but it tastes particularly great with this quick miso glaze. Served with some kale wilted with soy sauce and other goodies and you’ve got a wonderful meal that doesn’t take all night to prepare.

Miso Salmon with Kale 
1 pound salmon filet
¼ cup white miso paste
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
½ pound kale, cleaned, stems and center ribs removed

Whisk miso paste, ginger, vinegar, 3 teaspoons soy sauce, agave syrup and 1 tablespoon sesame oil together in bowl. Place salmon in glass baking dish and coat with marinade. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 45 minutes. Position oven rack about 6 inches from broiler and preheat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove salmon from glass dish and place, skin down, on baking sheet. Place salmon in oven, rotating baking sheet once, and broil for 15-20 minutes, until salmon is cooked through. Remove from oven. While salmon is in the oven, heat remaining sesame oil over medium heat in large frying pan. Add kale, soy and red pepper flakes, cooking until kale wilts. Remove from heat and serve with salmon.