Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Fresh Mango Salsa

Today was one of those picture perfect days. 75 degrees and sunny = pure bliss. I rarely miss an opportunity to bust out the grill and make a quick, super flavorful meal. Tonight I put together a salmon dish that was sweet and spicy (my favorite combo) and paired it with a fresh salsa, quinoa and grilled zucchini. Colorful and full of nutrition!


Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Serves 2-3

1 lb. fresh salmon, skin on
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

My beautiful salmon filet - thanks Hy-Vee!

1. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

 2. Combine seasonings and rub over the salmon.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high. Place salmon on the grill, flesh side down, and cook 5-6 minutes, or until cooked through.

4. Flip the salmon filet and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter.

Fresh Mango Salsa

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup frozen mango chunks, thawed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.

Quinoa with Toasted Almonds

Makes 4 cups

2 cups dry quinoa
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1. Bring quinoa and chicken broth to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook quinoa for 15 minutes, or until all broth is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

2. Combine almonds and quinoa.

3. Add the garbanzo beans and fresh parsley and toss to combine.

And put it all together!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grilled Cheese with Tomato Onion Jam

I recently found out that April is grilled cheese month so I had to figure out a way to highlight one of my favorite quick meals. Although the traditional grilled cheese with tomato soup is a-maz-ing, here is a  recipe that combines the two and makes for a delicious sweet and salty bite.


Grilled Cheese with Tomato Onion Jam

Serves 6

Tomato Jam:
1 onion, sliced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (10-15 minutes).

2. Add the tomatoes, garlic, balsamic, water and sugar. Cook 20 minutes, smashing down the tomatoes to create a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

When it's done it should look like this:

Grilled Cheese:
12 slices Italian bread
Cooking spray
12 slices American or sharp cheddar cheese
Tomato jam

1. Heat a non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. Spray each piece of bread with cooking spray.
2. Spread bread lightly with the tomato jam and top with cheese.
3. Cook each sandwich for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Flavor city.

Chicken Chilaquiles

I haven't met many people that don't enjoy a hearty Mexican dish. When Josh and I traveled to Mexico last March we ate chilaquiles every morning for breakfast. Although it's commonly even for breakfast topped with an egg, I love it for any meal! It's so comforting and it's one of the easiest meals you can make.


Chicken Chilaquiles

Serves 4

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
3 jalapeƱos, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
7 ounces tortilla chips
1 cup shredded chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings (optional):
Queso fresco (Mexican crumbly cheese - similar to feta, but less salty)
Sliced yellow onion
Light sour cream
Fresh cilantro
Lime wedges

1. Place the tomatoes, jalapeƱos, onion and garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and pour the tomato sauce and chicken broth in. Cook until the sauce starts to bubble.

3. Add the tortilla chips and stir until the chips start to soften.

4. Add the chicken and cook 3-4 minutes until mixture is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

And that's it!

Chicken with 40 Garlic Cloves

April 19th is National Garlic Day! Garlic is not only healthy for you, but it adds flavor to so many dishes. Try this dish for a delicious date night or Sunday dinner. It seems like a ton of garlic, but as it cooks with the chicken thighs, the garlic becomes super sweet and helps to develop a yummy sauce.


Chicken with 40 Garlic Cloves

Serves 6-8

8 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in)
1 bunch green onion, sliced thin
10 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 cup white wine
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large oven-safe pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

3. Working in batches, place the chicken thighs in the pot, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

4. In the same pot, add the green onion and half the thyme leaves and cook for 1 minute.

5. Add half the garlic. Top with the chicken thighs, remaining garlic, wine and thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Place the pot in the oven (covered) and cook for 1 and 1/2 hours.

Place chicken and sauce on a platter and serve. How good does that look? :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Protein-Packed Salads

One of my favorite meals when I'm looking to eat lighter is a protein packed salad with lots of veggies. This week, I made my version of a salad recipe that the Hy-Vee dietitians recommended using our new Angus beef. The beef is naturally aged, so it's naturally tender (and very tasty).


Peppered Steak Salad with Balsamic-Parmesan Dressing

Serves 4

1 lb. Angus beef top-sirloin steak
1 bag salad greens (any variety)
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup seasoned croutons

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Season Angus beef steaks with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes per side (for medium rare). Transfer to a cutting board to rest.

2. Dice the steak into small cubes.

3. Place the salad greens in a large bowl.

4. Top with steak, cherry tomatoes, hard cooked eggs and croutons.

5. Top with dressing and toss to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

This next recipe was one of my childhood favorites. The combination of crunchy noodles and toasted almonds with the tender chunks of chicken is the perfect bite. This is a really good salad for lunch and if you have leftovers (not likely!) it is also delicious the next day.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 package ramen noodles (discard seasoning packet)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots (optional - I added it for color and crunch)

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

1. Cover chicken with water in a large pot and add the ground ginger. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook chicken for 20 minutes (or until no longer pink in the middle). Transfer to a cutting board to rest.

2. Place almonds and sesame seeds on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes or until toasted.

3. Smash the ramen noodles into small pieces. Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a skillet and fry the noodles over medium heat until browned.

4. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper until boiling. Remove from heat and add the canola oil.

5. Combine all the salad ingredients and the warm salad dressing in a large mixing bowl. Top with shredded carrot (if desired) and serve.