Saturday, May 29, 2010

Teriyaki Grouper with Pineapple Mango Salsa

E and i are currently celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary at the scene of the crime - anna maria island florida. my aunt and uncle live down there and we are visiting, celebrating, napping, swimming, and most importantly, eating.
last night we revisited "our spot". the place E and i said our vows 6 years ago.
as fate would have it, another couple were getting married very close by and were having their reception in the same location - the sand bar restaurant.
what was a tent for us is now a more permanent structure for the receptions.
music was in the air as we watched the sun set and headed to dinner.
tonight i decided to try out a teriyaki recipe on some fresh grouper we found at the local fish market. i thought topped with a little pineapple mango salsa and served with some tropical quinoa sounded good.
UB grilled the grouper perfectly.
all i did was give it a good coating with the teriyaki sauce. yum!

Teriyaki Sauce

1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
2" knob ginger, minced
3 tbs honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tbs cornstarch
1/2 tbs water

combine all ingredients except cornstarch and water in blender or food processor.  process/blend until well combined and pureed. pour into small saucepan and heat to a boil over medium heat.
meanwhile, combine water and cornstarch in small bowl and whisk until combined into a slurry.
remove sauce from heat and add cornstarch slurry and whisk well until sauce thickens.
set aside and let cool.

Mango Pineapple Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
salt and pepper

combine all ingredients in medium bowl and mix well. season with salt and pepper, to taste.

the tropical quinoa was super simple. i just cooked up some quinoa (2 parts water, 1 part quinoa, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 mins) and added a little of the teriyaki and a little of the salsa. put it in the fridge to cool while we grilled the fish and the meal came together beautifully.
p.s. this is my view as i blog . . . life is good.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuna Wraps

tuna seems to be my forgotten fish. when it comes to figuring out what to have for lunch, i never think about canned tuna. but, for some reason tuna popped into my mind and i decided to make a tuna wrap. it turned out quite tasty so i thought i'd share it with you.

this is actually a tuna salad wrap - literally. i used lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and a light dressing of yogurt and mustard and wrapped it with some cheese. a quick press with the george foreman grill made it warm and panini-ish

tuna salad wrap
makes 2 wraps

1 can chunk light tuna, drained
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tbs plain greek yogurt
1 tbs horseradish mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
field greens
shredded cheddar
2 whole wheat wraps

combine all ingredients except cheese, lettuce, and wrap. stir well to ensure all are well coated. spread field greens onto both wraps. divide tuna mixture among wraps and sprinkle with shredded cheese. roll and enjoy chilled or warm in george foreman or panini press 3-4 minutes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wheatberry Salad

shortly after deciding to drastically reduce my amount of packaged food intake, i realized this would mean even more thought and preparation into our weekly meals. however, with a little forethought and planning i think it will be doable. E and i took a trip to wegmans together on friday and i stocked up with these thoughts in mind.

sunday i made a huge batch of sour cream and onion kale chips, roasted veggie packed burgers, and wheatberry salad. what is wheatberry salad you ask? it may just be the best summer dish. seriously. period.
have you ever eaten a life-changing dish? something you taste and realize you cannot live the rest of your life without this dish? now that you have tasted this amazing bite of insanely good food, you can't possibly go back to never having it again? well, if you are a "foodie" the answer is most likley not only yes but you can list the dishes right now. wheatberry salad is on my list.

almost exactly two years ago, i consumed wheatberry salad at my wonderfully fabulous cousin's wedding (happy almost anniversary G and B). after going back for thirds (i'm not kidding), i knew i had to get my grubby hands on that recipe. Buddy, the genius behind panache catering in baltimore got this recipe from a family who requested he make it for a family wedding because everyone loved it so much it was always requested. he had since added it to his repertoire and has no doubt been getting calls just like mine. along the lines of "i have to have that wheatberry salad recipe. please, i'll do anything!" (side note: if you live in the balitmore area and need an event catered i know of 2 excellent ones - buddy at panache and beth at thyme for you.)

luckily G was able to get it from him and i have been making it ever since. i have even tweaked it enough that it is quite possibly now the perfect recipe. every time i make it for company, they love it and ask for the recipe. when i make it for clients, they inevitably ask for it again and again.

i have to admit, i secretly don't want to give the recipe out. i want it to be my little secret that everyone wishes they knew how to duplicate. but, alas, since that family was nice enough to give buddy the recipe and he was nice enough to share it with G, who gave it to me, i feel i have no choice but to keep the goodness going. is it bad that i give out the original recipe without my little tweaks?? God forgive me:)
so, here it is in all its glory. even with my changes. you must make this and soon. you will be thanking me and making it all summer long. it does make a lot but i highly recommend making the whole recipe because you will want leftovers. i promise. 

Wheatberry Salad
(makes 6-8 servings unless you are like me and make a meal out of it)

1 cup wheatberries
4-6 cups chicken stock
1-2 cups water
3 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into eighths
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
4-5 green onions, thinly sliced (sometimes i use minced red onion if i don't have green on hand)

bring wheatberries to a boil in chicken stock. reduce heat to medium low (to simmer) and cook for approximately 2 hours. add water as needed to keep the wheatberries covered. check for doneness after 2 hours (wheatberries will be chewy but not hard). remove from heat, drain, and let cool when finished cooking.

meanwhile, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. add cooked wheatberries, halved tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta, and green onions.

stir well and enjoy. keep in fridge until ready to serve. stir well before serving.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Email Alerts

i finally figured out how to alert you via email when i write a post. if you are interested in this feature, please send your email address to and i will add you to the list.

if this doesn't interest you, ignore this post and stay tuned for one of my top 5 favorite recipes of all time - right here tomorrow.

Rosemary Olive Oil and Chocolate Chunk Cake

i had the baking bug today. after catching up on a bunch of food blogs i missed while i was gone i decided i had to bake. originally i wanted to bake bread. after "in defense of food" i decided i wanted to bake my own bread. this brings back memories of being made fun of by my friends in college for bringing a bread machine to our sophomore year apartment. i think i baked 2 loaves of bread before i gave up. but i have moved on from that experience and after perusing the bread isle in wegmans and finding no suitable bread without some sort of questionable or unpronounceable ingredients (short of ezekial bread), i made up my mind to start baking bread. plus, it makes your house smell amazing. it's a win-win really.
alas, i discover i don't have any yeast so i had to satisfy my baking desire with something else. so, what better to do that than cake? after reading sarah over at blue ridge baker go on and on about this olive oil cake i had to try it despite the somewhat interesting ingredients. a cake with olive oil? rosemary??? and chocolate??? i had to try it and see for myself. i made a few tweaks but the result was surprising. . .
each bite was quite complex. i tasted the rosemary right of the bat. then the olive oil says hello, followed by my favorite - the creamy chocolate taste kicks in. seriously every bite was layers of flavor. very interesting - i have never tasted anything quite like it.

Rosemary, Olive Oil, and Chocolate Chunk Cake
adapted from Blue Ridge Baker

3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup olive oil
1 cup buttermilk (i used milk with a squeeze of lemon and let it sit)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

butter and flour a 9" round cake pan.

in a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and rosemary. whisk to combine. in another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and olive oil. add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. whisk until just combined. fold in chocolate and pour batter into cake pan.

bake for 40-45 minuted until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pesto Pasta Salad

E is doing the columbia triathlon tomorrow so he needed some carbs tonight. because it was such a beautiful warm day today that i didn't want to turn the oven on or eat something hot, so i decided on pasta salad loaded with veggies. i made the pecan crusted chilean sea bass again to go with it. if you haven't tried that recipe yet i suggest you do. it turns out tasty every time!

i filled up the pasta salad with some veggies i had on hand. the great thing about pasta salad is you can really add whatever you have on hand to it. tonight it was some chopped zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and minced red onion. i added some pesto i made at the end of last summer and froze. it tasted so fresh and summery plus it was pretty easy to make. i sauteed the zucchini and squash for a couple of minutes while the whole wheat pasta cooked and i added the chopped sugar snap peas into the pasta for the last minute of cooking. a quick rinse with cold water stopped the cooking. you can find my pesto recipe here.

Pesto Pasta Salad
serves 4

1 cup whole wheat pasta (i used elbow macaroni)
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 red onion, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup sugar snap peas, chopped
3 tbs pesto
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

bring water to boil in a medium pot. add pasta and cook according to package directions. add chopped sugar snap peas to pot when there is just 1 minute left to cook. drain pasta and peas and rinse well with cold water to stop cooking.

saute chopped zucchini and squash over medium heat in 1 tbs olive oil until just tender, about 2 minutes. remove from heat and let cool while you chop remaining veggies.

add pasta, peas, chopped tomatoes, minced red onion, cooled zucchini and squash, pesto, and parmesan cheese into a large bowl. stir well to evenly distribute pesto. serve immediately or store in fridge until ready to serve.

In Defense of Food

W and i listened to "In Defense of Food" by michael pollan on our cross country journey. i think it's safe to say it was an eye opener for both of us. if you have not read this book, i highly recommend you get your hands on a copy. or, listen to it on CD. listening to it was probably the best way for my to digest the information since there is so much of it and it does tend to get a little repetitive and scientific.

it confirmed a lot of the "clean eating" ways of thinking i have adapted but changed some things in my mind. i will be sticking more firmly to this rule: if it has more than 5 ingredients on the ingredients list or i cannot pronounce some of the ingredients, i will not be buying it.

you can get it on amazon and i encourage you to do so.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Curried Vegetables

i am trying to increase my veggie intake on a daily basis by eating more vegetables at lunchtime. i decided to throw a bunch of vegetables together yesterday and add some different spices. the results of my first spice experiment were wonderful. i used a little curry and cumin and they were quite tasty.
i started with 1/2 an onion and added roughly 15 chopped green beans, 1 smallish chopped zucchini, and a 1/2 cup pf frozen peas. i used about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp of ground curry and 1/2 tsp of ground cumin. when the vegetables were almost finished i added half a grilled chicken breast i had chopped up about the same size as the vegetables. from start to finish (including chopping) took less than 15 minutes.

this was a super simple and quick homemade lunch full of vegetables and it kept me full for quite some time. i am going to be continuing to experiment more with fresh herbs and spices and let you know what i discover. in fact, today i am off to spring meadow farms to stock up on some fresh herbs to plant in my herb garden!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Buddha Bowl

as soon as i saw these bowls on kath's website, i knew i had to have them. i almost always eat breakfast (and if i'm being totally honest, most lunches) on our couch. this has me always balancing my bowl full of cereal, yogurt, fruit, or oatmeal in the palm of my hand.
this buddha bowl fits perfectly in the palm of my hand with a thumb hold.
i love these bowls (set of 2) from the open sky project. now i can cozy up with a warm bowl of oatmeal or soup in the winter and enjoy my cereal with ice cold milk in the mornings and not worry about spilling all over our cream colored couch. life is good.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Memphis BBQ

i have been experiencing the joys of driving cross country this past week and thus, my absence. let me tell you that i have seen the entire width of oklahoma and tennessee for that matter. we do have a beautiful country full of good food.
i have two places in particular to tell you about. the first was quite possibly my favorite of the trip Payne's BBQ in memphis, tn. (the second will be detailed in a future post). the reviews i found online for Payne's were spot on as this was some of the best pork bbq to pass these lips. Payne's is run by Flora and her son and is open tuesday-saurday for lunch and dinner. the building is a little hard on the eyes, it's not much outside or in. but the bbq more than makes up for its very basic, converted garage, curb appeal.
i ordered the chopped pork sandwich with the slaw and medium sauce served on top of the pork. at first glance i have my concerns because the slaw was almost a neon yellow color from what i can only assume is yellow mustard. it only took one bite to calm my worries and let me taste buds enjoy their treat. the medium bbq sauce had just the right amount of spice and tang and the pork was super-tender with the charred pieces mixed in from the sides and ends of the slow cooked meat.
my brother and travel partner, W had the smoked sausage with slaw and mild sauce on top. the sausage was good but we both agreed i had the better order. lucky for W i shared like a good sister.
overall, it was heavenly and earned every high rating and positive review. Payne's has come to be somewhat of an institution in memphis and if you are ever driving through, it's worth the stop. food and wine, travel and leisure, and chowhound.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Grilled Veggie Burgers

this isn't what you think. not a veggie burger but a burger with veggies. this is a real ground beef
hamburger with roasted veggies and gorgonzola cheese.
if you are looking for a new hamburger for the summer, look no further. this is awesome and packed with veggies - zucchini, squash, and onions to be exact.
it's important to dice the veggies fairly small so they all fit nicely into the hamburger patty. the veggies roast at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes until they are just starting to brown.

Vegetable Stuffed Burgers
makes 8 patties

2 lbs lean ground beef (i have also used ground bison)
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium squash, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 envelope onion soup mix
5 oz gorgonzola cheese (feta is good too)
salt and pepper

dice vegetables and roast in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. remove and let cool slightly.

meanwhile, prepare grill.
 mix ground beef, roasted vegetable, cheese, and onion soup mix with your hands until combined but do not overmix.
form into 8 patties. grill 5 minutes per side. remove from grill and cover with foil to keep warm.
we served the burgers with a wonderful garden salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, thinly sliced onion and homemade balsamic viniagrette.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pecan Crusted Sea Bass

i have another quick and easy dinner for you tonight. i have a goal of incorporating more fish into our diets and this is a great way to do it.

seriously, this is super easy! pecan crusted chilean sea bass. i recommend serving it with brown rice and a load of veggies. you can use this recipe with any white fish and really any kind of nut. i have used pistachios with rave reviews.

the sea bass turned out super moist and flaky. each bite just seemed to melt in my mouth and there was a touch of sweetness from the honey. 

Pecan Crusted Fish

2 - 6oz pieces of white fish
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs raw honey
salt and pepper
2 tbs olive oil

heat skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.

meanwhile, pat fish dry with a paper towel and brush honey mustard on one side of fish. pour pecans onto plate. press fish, mustard side down into pecans. brush other side with honey mustard and press pecans into other side of fish. sprinkle with salt and pepper. repeat with other piece of fish.

reduce heat to medium low and sear fish in skillet approximately 5 minutes per side. remove from skillet and cover with foil. let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Mint Julep

in the spirit of the kentucky derby, i have been consuming mint juleps this week. upon ordering one out last night and deciding it didn't taste nearly as fabulous and a jessop mint julep, i decided i share my family recipe with the world.

according to wikipedia, the origins of the mint julep are cloudy. but it's thought to be believed that "the mint julep originated in the southern united states, probably during the eighteenth century. U.S. senator henry clay of kentucky introduced the drink to washington, d.c., at the round robin bar in the famous Willard Hotel during his residence in the city."

the origins of the jessop julep are more concrete. the jessop julep as told to my mother by my grandfather differs slightly from what you find on the internet mainly because we use more mint.
as i said the other day, the mint is up and it is thriving!

the other secret is using simple syrup instead of sugar and water separately. the sugar is given time to properly dissolve in the water by making the syrup and you don't have the grittiness of the inevitable bits of sugar that have not dissolved. i have to admit, i made my simple syrup with agave nectar this time and i thought it tasted just the same. (my simple syrup ratios: 1/2 cup agave nectar to 1 cup water)

so, here are the assembly instructions
start with fresh mint. place at least 6 medium sized leaves in the bottom of a rocks glass.
fill glass with crushed ice and stir together well to bruise mint but do not pulverize it.
add 2 oz whiskey (i used seagram's 7 because that was poppop's favorite, but have also used jamesion irish whiskey (gasp!) and jack daniels with success)
 add 1 1/2 oz simple syrup and stir well
garnish with mint sprig and enjoy!

it might not be the grass root traditional kentucky derby mint julep, but i'll take my jessop julep anyday!
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