Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Broiled Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Pineapple and Cilantro Rice



Alex and I cooked this last night, but not for dinner.  We were out celebrating my birthday with my family. 

Here is a recap of some of my birthday celebrations:

We were matching. 

Birthday dinner with some of my favs!  Baby Walker Davis Smith joined us from Holly's belly! 

I got to enjoy dinner with two of my InsideOut high school girls too. 

 Celebrating with Mary in Mexico

 The whole gang in Mexico

Can we go back already?!

I made this for my lunch this week at work.  My picky husband does not care for salmon or left over fish.  So when I found this recipe I knew it was perfect for me to take to work for some variety.  

I love when sweet and spicy come together.  This is a light meal to make and really quick too.  From start to finish I was done in under 30 minutes. 

I bought my wild caught salmon, frozen, at Trader Joe's.  I read an article once about wild caught vs. farm raised salmon.  Farm raised salmon are not naturally pink inside.  They add a dye before they are sold which causes them to turn pink and go blind.  The research did not show that it is harmful to humans, but you have to wonder.  Regardless of that, I still choose wild caught because farm raised are pumped full of anti-biotics to prevent diseases that are caused when a large amount of fish are grown in a small cage.

Broiled sweet and spicy salmon with pineapple and cilantro rice



Ingredients:
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (we used a mix of jasmine and basmati)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I added a little more and it gave it a great kick)
  • 1 lb. skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt and pepper 
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/2 of a whole pineapple peeled, cored, and cut into 8 pieces lengthwise (my pineapple went bad before I got to this recipe so I used a can of the pineapple tidbits instead)
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • lime wedges (optional)
Directions:

Heat broiler, with rack in top position.  Cook rice according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together maple syrup and cayenne pepper.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Place salmon on baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Layer pineapple around salmon in a single layer.  Brush salmon and pineapple with half of the maple syrup glaze.  Broil the salmon until it is cooked though 8 to 11 minutes, brushing the salmon and pineapple half way through cooking time with other half of glaze.  Add cilantro to rice and fluff with fork.  Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on top of dish if desired.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Basic Overnight Oats


The beaches in Mexico are beautiful.  I grew up going down to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida so I am spoiled by the white, beautiful  beaches.  I don't love vacationing to the east coast because the beach just isn't as pretty.  Mexico did not disappoint.

Here are a few pics of us enjoying the beautiful weather we had.

 Alex (A.K.A picky husband) laying out trying to get some color.

 The view back up towards the resort.

 Alex and I about to head down to the beach.

 BEAUTIFUL.  Alex wanted to wind surf and/or ocean kayak the whole time we were down there, but the water was too rough.


 My amazing husband of almost 5 years!

He knows how to make me smile.

I have been seeing overnight oats all over the blogging world lately.  I finally had a chance to make my own this weekend.  Unfortunately we were completely out of groceries so my ingredients were limited.  I wish I had some fresh fruit to add in.

I used steel cut oats instead of the regular rolled oats.  You get in a 1/4 of a cup of steel cut oats what you would get in 1/2 cup of rolled oats.  They tasted great.  A little chewier than regular oatmeal.  Definitely give these guys a try even if you don't normally like oatmeal.

You can make overnight oats into whatever you like.  The options are endless.  I first read about them on Kath Eats Real Food.  You can see there is so much you can add.  Have fun with this one.  Also try it with regular rolled oats.

Here are some of my future ideas of things to add:  greek yogurt instead of protein powder, cocoa, strawberries, bananas, blue berries, any fruit, peanut butter or other nut butter, nutmeg, honey, etc.

Overnight Oats

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup quick cook steel cut oats (Trader Joe's has the quick cook)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
Place oats and almond milk in a container to sit in refrigerator overnight.  In the morning add all other ingredients.  Mix and eat!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Italian Pasta Casserole



I miss Mexico!  I loved how wherever we walked we always saw animals.  I think over half of my 150 pictures were of animals.  They are beautiful and I loved hearing them while we were lying in bed in the morning. 

Iguanas are everywhere sunbathing.

Peacocks were everywhere too.  This one gave us the full show from feathers down to his back view and then he twirled around like he was showing off.

I did not love hearing the Howler Monkeys while I slept.  The first morning I woke up at 3AM having no clue what that noise was outside.  It sounded like a lion roar.  (Not that I have ever heard a lion roar in real life.)  Apparently these little guys (they sound big) come out late at night and early morning.  They don't enjoy our company during the day.  As soon as I realized there were monkeys I made it my mission to see them before our trip came to an end.  Our third day at the resort we got to see them.  We just left our room and were headed to dinner when we heard their howl.  We saw some people gathered around an area taking pictures so I ran over.  Sure enough there were about five up in a tree.  They were crazy, jumping around and pulling off branches.  They looked like they were having a party.  It made my day and trip!

It is hard to see them with the sun in the background, but there are two in this shot. 


I might be small, but I am loud when I jump!

Our first night at dinner (Monkey arm shot (ha ha))

We all went into the town of Playa Del Carmen one night to explore the local environment.  We also wanted some truly authentic food while in Mexico.  There were all sorts of people on the streets providing entertainment.  The first thing we stumbled upon was a man with two spider monkeys.  We were so excited.  The guy wanted you to pay him to take pictures with the monkeys which we were happy to do!  Alex said that was the best experience of his life.  Not sure I would say that, but it was definitely fun!

Look at that big smile!

That monkey was ready to move on to the next person...ME!

I was so afraid it was going to go to the bathroom on my head!

Mary and Mark with the monkeys.  I love Mary's face in this one because she has no clue what is happening on her head.  

Back to food.  This was an easy dish to throw together.  Took a little while to cook, but it is nice because you make your own spaghetti sauce so you know it is fresh.

I used brown rice pasta in this dish and it tasted great.  Way healthier than normal pasta.  Great served with a salad.

Pasta Casserole
Source:  Annie's Eats



Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (great bulk buy at Sam's)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
Directions:

Cook ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink.  Drain excess fat.  Return to pan.  Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, basil, oregano, salt to taste, and water.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.  Drain well and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese, and egg.  Stir until well blended.  Add green onions and stir.

To assemble, spread a very thin layer of sauce on bottom of baking dish.  Next, add half of the pasta.  Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over pasta, then top with half of the remaining sauce.  Repeat with pasta, cream cheese mixture, and remaining sauce.  Spring shredded mozzarella evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and browned. 

Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chicken Taquitos



I am back!  Back to the blogging world and back from MEXICO!  Sorry for my absence.  We had so much going on before our trip.  Blogging would have just stressed me out.

In the taxi on the way to the resort after our airport issues.

We flew in on separate flights because Alex used Delta Sky Miles points and Air Tran was cheaper for me to buy a ticket on.  Everyone told us we could just meet at baggage claim.  Well, little did we know that Delta and Air Tran fly into two separate terminals.  So Alex was waiting patiently at his terminal for my flight to arrive and I am frantic at my terminal when I find out that Delta doesn't come there!  God definitely was in control of the situation because he got me to Alex's terminal just before he left to head over to mine.  What a mess that would have been if he left before I got to his. We did not find it very funny at the time, but we can laugh now.  Lesson learned, we will never fly separately again!  

We made it to the resort, now it is time for lunch.

We went to Playa del Carmen and had the most amazing and relaxing vacation.  The weather was perfect and the resort was beautiful.  It was built into a jungle like setting.  Everything was open and exposed to all the fun sites and animals.

Can you see the flamingos in the distance?

Alex and I were there by our selves for a few days then our friends Mark and Mary joined us.  It was great vacationing with people you love to hang out with.

This little guy hung out with us while we were waiting for the restaurant to open.

We also celebrated my 28th birthday while down there.

I don't want to overwhelm this blog with tons of pictures, so I will give you a few with each entry!

I felt it was appropriate though to start back with a Mexican recipe in honor of our trip:)  This meal is super quick to make.  You can bake the chicken ahead of time so it is just ready to go.

Chicken Taquitos



Ingredients:

  • 3/4  cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. taco seasoning mix
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Toppings: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese
Turn on oven to 350 degrees.  Bake two chicken breasts until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.  



Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Shred chicken breasts using a fork.  Mix shredded chicken with salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and taco seasoning.  Set aside.



Place a damp paper towel on plate.  Place corn tortillas on top and cover with another damp paper towel.  Heat for ~1 minutes in microwave.  Remove and keep covered.  

Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray.  

Remove one tortilla and place ~2 tbsp. of shredded chicken mixture in the middle.  Gently roll up and place seam side down on baking sheet.  Continue with the rest of the chicken mixture.  



Bake for ~15 minutes or until golden.  Serve with desired toppings.  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins


As many of you know I have a gluten intolerance.  I have done a lot of research about it and came across some interesting information.  Apparently we are seeing this diagnosis popping up more and more because of the amount of processed food we are consuming as a society.

When wheat is processed from its whole form a layer is removed in order to increase its shelf life.  This layer also contains enzymes our bodies need to help break down and digest the gluten.  Over time our bodies begin to show the signs and symptoms of a gluten intolerance when it is no longer able to handle the task of digesting it alone.

Having been gluten free for almost a year now I have felt great.  I found the modifications I needed for most foods I wanted to enjoy.  I feel that is has helped me lean more towards fruits and veggies then I did before.  It made me cut out foods that really didn't provide me with any nutritional value.

A few of my patients at work have told me about a place called Bread Beckers.  You can go there and buy any type of grain in its whole form unprocessed.  You then can mill it yourself and use for cooking, baking, etc.  I received a free copy of their CD describing their beliefs and the benefits of milling your own grains.

I decided to experiment with milling my own wheat.  If I did it myself, then the layer of wheat my body needs to digest the gluten would still be there.

Nervous that it may not work for me, I only bought two smaller buckets.  One soft white wheat which is better for baking and hard white wheat good for making bread.


This is the soft white wheat in its whole form.

I made two batches of muffins this weekend, apple cinnamon and banana nut.  They both taste great and I have not had any GI issues!!!!  

I am still being cautious and not going crazy with my bread consumption.  Besides, I like my more balanced diet of fruits and veggies.

I have yet to experiment with the bread yet because I am intimidated by the process.  I hope to tackle that fear sooner than later.  I know my bread loving picky husband will be on cloud 9 when the first batch of rolls come out of the oven.

I was nervous that this whole process was going to be super time consuming and tedious.  It wasn't.  We didn't even have to purchase a food mill.  We just bought the dry bucket for our VitaMix blender. (They should really start paying me for all the free advertising I am currently giving them!)  The other ingredients are probably already in your pantry.  Super cheap and super healthy way to consume yummy food!

  All ready to go...

All blended and ready for use just like normal flour.

The wheat in its whole form will last for forever.  It doesn't go bad.  However, once it is milled it must be used within a few days.

Banana Nut Muffins
Source:  Bread Beckers Recipe book

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups freshly milled flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 mashed up bananas
  • 1/4-1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts)
Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together.  Add all wet ingredients and stir until mixed.  Spread additional olive oil in muffin tins to prevent it from sticking.  Fill each tin 3/4 of the way.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  (Our oven cooks super fast so 15 was plenty.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bean Tostadas

Candle lit dinner because the power was out!

Atlanta and the surrounding cities were hit hard on Monday with some crazy storms.  Alex and I were out doing some shopping for our trip to Mexico in less than TWO weeks!  We had one last stop when the sky turned gray and the bottom fell out.  We heard the weather sirens and decided we should head home because Tini freaks out with storms.  

Easier said then done.  We get to Crabapple, which is the street we live off, and traffic was backed up all the way down Hwy. 92 to turn onto it.  We decide to keep heading down 92 to King Rd.  In a moments time we were in the middle of a hail storm.  It was crazy and very scary.  We made it home in one piece. It wasn't even raining once we got home.

I was hungry so I got dinner ready while Alex took care of the dogs.  The bean tostadas were super easy and healthy.  Right when we were about to serve ourselves the power went out.  Thank goodness for gas stoves:)  Alex went and grabbed a flash light and his head lamp to light the way.  

In the dark with his head lamp.

Dinner was awesome.  We will definitely be making this again.  Alex threw some left over steak into a pan with some chipotle pepper sauce and sauteed it to add to his tostada.  You can use this mix in a burrito or a taco.  

Bean Tostadas
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp minced chipotle in adobo sauce (found on the ethnic aisle)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 1-15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 tbsp. fresh salsa
  • Corn tortillas
  • Optional Toppings:  Shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream, green onions, lettuce
  • (You could also add cooked chicken or steak if you want meat)
Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper; stir, cooking 30 seconds.  Add the beans and the vegetable broth to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. 

While the beans are cooking place another small skillet over medium heat.  Brush olive oil on desired number of corn tortillas.  Place in skillet and cook on each side until cooked through.  Approximately 2-3 minutes.  

 Remove the bean skillet from the heat, stir in the salsa and mash the mixture with a potato masher.

Lay tortilla flat and add bean mixture.  Top with desired toppings and enjoy!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hoisin Shrimp and Vegetable Fried Rice

 Yummy Hoisin Shrimp

Veggie Fried Rice

Where did the weekend go?  I didn't even have time to sit down and read some of my favorite blogs, let alone write one!

This is a two for one blog with a main dish and side.  The main dish was ridiculously easy so it hardly deserved a posting of its own.

Friday night we went to my in-laws house to have dinner.  Ashley my sister in law was in town for the end of the week.  We had the yummy fish tacos that I made about a month ago.  Susan did a much better job with the beans. We realized the trick was not draining and rising them like usual.

Saturday, I had lunch at Cans with two of my high school small group girls, Abby and Amanda.  They are amazing girls and I just love spending time with them.  Then I was off to Soda Salon to get my hair cut.

Saturday night we had family over because we just couldn't get enough of them on Friday!  We started the night by playing cornhole.  Nothing like a little fun competition.

Dinner was super easy to prep.  I got the shrimp on the skewers and brushed them down with Hoisin sauce.  Alex cut up the veggies for the stir fry. We cooked the rice before cornhole to allow it to cool.  Lastly, I prepped the roasted kale on a baking sheet and stuck it back in the fridge.

I loved the rice because you can modify it to you liking with any veggies you might have leftover from the week.  I might actually make this one more time, later in the week, with the addition of chicken.

If you like condiments then heat some of the hoisin sauce to serve on the side for dipping.

Hoisin Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of peeled and deveined shrimp
  • Hoisin sauce (found on the ethnic aisle)
  • Wooden skewers
Directions:

Heat broiler.

Place shrimp on wooden skewers.  Place skewers on a broiler proof pan.  Brush with hoisin sauce.  Broil for 2-3 minutes on each side.  

Vegetable Fried Rice
Source: adapted from www.showmethecurry.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup jasmine rice (I am sure any long grain rice would work)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg well beaten
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Soy sauce and thai chili sauce to taste (Yum!)
Directions:

Cook rice according to package directions (typically involving rinsing 2-3 times) in vegetable broth.  Allow time to cool.  

In a wok, or large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add carrots and onion.  Cook until onion is transparent.  Move veggies to side of pan and add egg.  Scramble until egg is cooked.  Mix the egg with the veggies.  Continue to cook the veggies until they are soft.  Add rice to pan.  Mix in soy sauce and vinegar.  Continue to cook until rice is heated.  

Serve, adding soy sauce and thai chili sauce to your liking.  

You can add other veggies or even meat to this dish.  Make it your own!