Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spinach Strawberry Blueberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

I work for a visitor center in the town we live in and each year we honor our volunteers and their spouses by having a pot luck dinner.  The center provides the hamburgers, hot dogs and the fixing's and the staff, volunteers provide all the other goodies.  I wanted to make something light that could withstand being out at a picnic.  I put together this salad which seemed to go over very well based on the lack of salad we brought home.

Spinach Strawberry Blueberry Salad
1 large container (16 ounces) of baby spinach
3 containers of strawberries, some sliced and some diced
2 containers (6 ounces each) of blueberries
1 small package of sliced almonds
Place spinach, strawberries and blueberries into a large bowl and toss together.  Add dressing a little at a time, tossing as needed.  Add almond after all dressing has been added, toss salad again and serve.  I served this salad in a Wilton Armetale bowl, the great thing about these bowls is that you can freeze them so they can stay very cold for a while.  I travelled with the salad in a large bowl with a tight lid and at the picnic transferred it into the Wilton bowl.

Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 cup honey (from local farmers market)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh onion puree (I used the fine part of the cheese grater for this)
1 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Put all ingredients into a small jar and shake until well mixed.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts with a Make your Own Salad Bar

What to do when you have a bunch of friends come over for lunch.  I know that several friends eat a paleo type diet and we aren't really too far behind that with what we eat, so I thought a make your own salad salad bar would be a easy and fun way to have lunch.

Having a salad bar at work is also fun and easy, just have each person bring one item and don't forget the dressing.

Marinated Chicken Breasts
This marinated 8 chicken breasts
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 sprig of rosemary, removed from stem (to do this just hold the rosemary stem from the top and using your other hand putting your other hand at the top, close to where you are holding it, and pull down.  The rosemary will come off the stem)
A couple of sprigs fresh thyme
Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add chicken to a large Ziploc bag, add marinade and knead to incorporate marinade throughout the bag.  Place chicken bag into refrigerator until ready to be cooked.  I marinated this for 18 hours.

To cook the chicken, place the chicken on a 450 Fahrenheit preheated grill.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Using tongs flip the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, repeat for a total cooking time of 20 minutes.

For the Salad Bar:
Green leaf lettuce (this came from our garden)
Grape tomatoes
Green pepper
Hard cooked eggs
Button mushrooms
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Sliced kiwi fruit
Aduki beans
Hemp hearts
A variety of nuts (walnut, almond, pine)
Kalamata olives
Bacon (bacon cut into bits and then cooked)
Grilled Marinated chicken

I apologize for the lack of pictures.  We were so happy to start chowing down that I forgot to take a picture of the spread.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lemon Thyme Halibut in Parchment

We just got this fresh halibut from Alaska today, from SeaBear.  It came via UPS, and literally came off the truck and into the oven.  In deciding what to do with the halibut I thought if I cooked it in parchment that it would be something different instead of the same old thing.  I also found out that the french word for parchment is en papillote.  Of course any classic trained chef probably already knows this, however this home chef/cook didn't know that.

This recipe is super simple and easy.

Lemon-Thyme Halibut in Parchment
(This recipe is enough for 2 halibut filets, if you have more just double the recipe)
1/4 cup olive oil
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 halibut filets
2 lemons
4 tablespoons white wine, chardonnay
1 medium size tomato, seeded and diced
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine olive oil and 4 sprigs of thyme in a small saucepan.  Over medium low heat, simmer oil and thyme for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Cut 1 lemon in half.  Cut the remaining lemon into very thin slices.  Cut parchment paper into 4 large squares.    Once the oil has cooled, strain it to remove the pieces of thyme.  Brush one side of each piece of parchment with some of the thyme oil.  Place a filet into the middle of the parchment paper.  Squeeze one of the lemon halves over each filet.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of wine over each filet.  Generously brush each filet with the thyme oil.  Place half of the diced tomatoes over the filet, repeat with other filet.  Place lemon slices and fresh thyme on top of each filet.  Sprinkle the fish with a dash of salt and pepper. Carefully place a second oiled parchment square on top of each filet with the oil side against the filet.  Fold the edges of the parchment paper together, sealing well.  Place packets onto a baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes.  Serve the fish in the parchment.  Just make a cut along the  top and peel open to serve.

Halibut ready to be covered with the second sheet of parchment

The parchment bundles ready to go into the oven

Ready to eat!

Sauteed Kale
1 large bunch of kale, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon white wine, chardonnay
Salt and Pepper
Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add kale, toss to coat, careful not to burn it.  Add wine and let cook.  Continue to toss kale in skillet until wilted and cooked.   Add a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Also served this meal with a cooked sweet potato.  The sweet potato was cooked in the microwave to save time.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fish and Chips (Gluten Free)

I really wanted to do something different with the fish for tonight's dinner.  So I opted to do a baked fish with a crispy coating (no fried food here).  

Fish and Chips
2 black cod fish filets
1 cup of gluten free flour**
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place flour and a little bit of salt and pepper in a small dish, add eggs to another dish.  Dip fish into flour, then egg and then flour again.  Place coated fish onto a baking sheet.  Place fish into oven and cook for about 20 minutes.
**For my gluten free flour mix, click here.

Along with this meal I had a bag of organic tater tots in the freezer so we thought this would be a perfect combination and would make for a quick easy dinner.

Serve it with a side salad full of greens.  

Serve with a side of ketchup and homemade tarter sauce.  To make tarter sauce:  In a small bowl mix together mayonnaise and a little bit of sweet pickle relish. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bratwurst Vegetable Medley

This dinner is quick, easy and you will have it on the table in no time.  Enjoy!

Bratwurst Vegetable Medley
1 package bratwurst (from a local farm)
1 bunch of asparagus, snapped
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 package brown rice pasta (I used shell shaped pasta)
Several small tomatoes cut into fourths (I pulled out juliet tomatoes that we froze last summer)
Cook bratwurst in a skillet over medium high heat until brown.  Remove from pan and slice.  Return sliced bratwurst to pan.
Fill a medium saucepan with water, place on stove and bring to a boil.  Add asparagus, and cook until just tender (it will depend on the thickness of them), remove them to a bowl, but do not dump the water.    In the same pan, return water to a boil and dump pasta into water.  Cook according to package directions.  ***Note:  By not dumping the water you cooked the pasta in a vitamin rich water.
Cut the cooked asparagus into smaller pieces, add to skillet.  Toss to mix.  Add black beans and tomatoes.  Cook until all is incorporated and heated thoroughly.  Serve.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Honey Mustard Glazed Grilled Salmon

Cooking on the grill outside is one of the best things in the world when it comes to cooking dinner.  The one thing I truly love about it is the simplicity of it.  You can heat up the grill, add some food, cook it and you are done and ready to eat.  Clean up is simple, it doesn't heat up your house and you can cook the whole meal on there.

All of tonight's meal was cooked on our grill.  In case you were wondering the grill is an infrared gas grill. 

Honey Mustard Glaze
This recipe came out of a cookbook that I picked up when I was in Alaska last year.  It is called Cooking Alaska's Wild Salmon by Kathy Doogan.  The cookbook has everything salmon.
1/4 teaspoon salt (I did not use salt, I didn't think it was needed)
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a bowl mix all ingredients.  

Grilled Salmon
2 salmon filets (Our salmon came from SeaBear)
Honey Mustard Glaze
Brush the tops of the salmon with the glaze.  Place salmon on grill  over direct heat that has been preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cook for 8 minutes, brushing with more glaze as needed.

Kale (cooked in a foil pouch)
1 large head of kale, washed, stems removed and torn into small pieces
Olive oil
Place kale on a large piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil.  Place another piece of foil over top, roll up the sides to create a packet.  Place kale on direct heat for 5 minutes, remove to indirect heat for 10 minutes. Remove and serve.

Sweet Potatoes (cooked in a foil pouch)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (we used a Japanese sweet potato)
Olive oil
Place sweet potatoes on a large piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil.  Place another piece of foil over top, roll up the sides to create a packet.  Place on the grill on direct heat for 5 minutes, turn, cook for another 5 minutes and then remove to indirect heat and cook for another 10 minutes.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Grilled Chicken Strawberry Salad

I have a confession, I love salads.  My husband (Mike) is not a huge salad eater but as of late he is becoming more and more of a salad eater.  It started when we did the detox diet, we ate a ton of salads. So tonight when I suggested grilling the chicken and then as I was trying to figure out the rest of the meal, he suggested having a salad.  Of course I said all right with me!

I went online and looked for a recipe for the strawberry vinaigrette dressing, I mean after all, someone else has done it.  So why re-create the wheel so to speak.   I found the recipe at Prevention RD, it looked simple enough with the right ingredients (no sugar or other bad stuff).

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place on a preheated 450 degree Fahrenheit grill.  Cook for 15 minutes, flipping several times.  Remove from grill to a platter, cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.  Slice and place on top of salad.

For the salad I had a mix of greens (green and red leaf lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula), strawberries that have been washed, capped and sliced, a small amount of pecans, and a half of a tomato.  Serve with vinaigrette.

Strawberry Vinaigrette
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 white wine vinegar
8 ounces strawberries, washed and capped
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Baked Halibut with Mushroom Rice Pasta

Last night we had a sick dog (her name is Maggie) in our house, she still isn't 100% but she is getting better.  We have her on a diet of cooked white rice and boiled chicken.  Not very exciting but for her it is bland and it will help for her to get better.  So because of that I did not cook, instead we opted to eat out (as in go pick it up and bring it back) which made it much easier to keep an eye on her.  What I had planned on having for last night's dinner turned into tonight's dinner.

Baked Halibut
Place 2 halibut steaks onto a cookie sheet (I covered it with foil to make clean-up easier), squeeze lemon juice over, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for about 15 minutes (it will depend on the thickness of your halibut).  If you want it to be a little more brown on top, turn broiler on until brown, but don't overdo it.

Mushroom Rice Pasta
The other night I made Stir Fry Chicken and Vegetables and had some leftover rice noodles (I had cooked too much) so I decided to use it in tonight's dinner.  The amount that was leftover was about 1 cups worth.
1 package of mixed mushrooms (oyster, button, etc)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
6 calmata olives
olive oil
leftover rice noodles
In a skillet over heat some olive oil over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and garlic and stir.  Cook until mushrooms have browned slightly and softened.  Add noodles and olives, toss.  Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.  Serve

Fried Plantains
To cook them peel the outside off, slice the plantain.  Add slices to a warm skillet that has a little bit of olive oil.  Add plantains to skillet and cook, flipping several times until they reach a golden brown.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Stir Fry Chicken and Vegetables

I created tonight's dinner while I was in the grocery store today stocking up on fresh vegetables.   I had some ideas in mind but created the meal as I was walking around.

Stir Fry Chicken and Vegetables
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 of green pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 small carrots, sliced into thin strips
a couple of heads of fresh broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 4-ounce package of sliced shiitake mushrooms
5 leaves napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
4 thai chili peppers
1/2 cup coconut aminos (similar to soy sauce or tamari)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 a package of rice noodles
small amount of coconut oil for wok
green onions for garnish, sliced
Place rice noodles into a bowl and add boiling water to cover them.  Let sit for about 8 minutes.
Place coconut oil into wok and let heat up.  Add chicken and toss to mix.  Cook chicken until just about done, stir in half of fresh ginger.  Add green peppers, carrots and broccoli, toss to mix.  In a small bowl whisk together coconut aminos, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and rest of ginger.  Add mixture to wok and stir to mix.  Continue to cook until vegetables are starting to become tender.  Stir in  mushrooms.  Let cook for a while longer.  Drain rice noodles, stir in noodles, a little bit at a time, to the wok.  Serve.