Posts tagged ‘easy’
The weather is finally starting to warm up in the New Jersey, getting me excited for grilling season! While many people think of seasons in terms of weather, I often think in term of food seasons. The fall and winter are roasting seasons, perfect for root vegetables and hearty meals; the spring and summer are grilling ones, great for fish and grilled peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing I like better than both cooking and eating outdoors when the weather allows. However, I will miss my oven, which usually goes neglected from May through September to keep the house cool. If you are looking for a final oven meal to warm up with during cooler early spring nights, this one is a great staple!
I found a basic roasted chicken recipe in one of my mom’s many food magazines. (Being on this extended vacation is seriously great for my cooking creativity!) I tweaked it slightly to use up what I had on hand, but have so many ideas for variations! I used red onion and thyme as called for in the original recipe, but decided to use chicken thighs and baby bella mushrooms for a bit more flavor and earthiness. I think that shallots or Vidalia onions would actually be even better than the red onions, and that a little more garlic would be welcome. I would also love to play with the herbs, switching out the thyme for rosemary or basil. If you aren’t a mushroom person, you could easily leave them out, or add some cherry tomatoes in their stead. Since I am currently cooking for 4-6 people on a regular basis, I couldn’t quite make it a one-skillet meal, but think this would be an easy task if cooking for one or two! Just throw some cubed potatoes (parboiled to make them cook at the same time), vegetables (I love asparagus and Brussels sprouts in the oven), and the chicken thighs into an oven safe skillet and bake!
Question: What is your favorite “food season?”
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Red Onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (organic if possible)
1 red onion, sectioned
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
salt, pepper and thyme to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Heat olive oil over high heat. Quickly sear the outside of each chicken thigh over high heat. Add red onion sections and mushroom halves, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and thyme. Place skillet in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken thighs are cooked through. Remove and allow to cool prior to serving.
Ok, so here’s my first attempt at a recipe post. I have made this sandwich for lunch three times this week and bragged to Jen about it so she encouraged me to share it as my first post!
So, who doesn’t love grilled cheese? There is something so remarkably comforting about a simple grilled cheese sandwich, especially when paired with a bowl of tomato soup. I also love the flavor combinations of Greek food, especially Tziki sauce. I was inspired to make this sandwich from a post I saw on Pinterest.
I love to make my own Tziki dip, but who wants to do all that work for a quick lunch sandwich, so I came up with a cheater to still get the flavor. This sandwich combines all the flavors I love, pumpernickel bread, cucumber, dill, and goat cheese, which packs a punch with flavor.
To begin, I weighed my goat cheese on a kitchen scale. It is easy to completely load or sandwiches up with unnecessary fat and calories, and until you have a great understanding of servings, this is the easiest suggestion to monitor calorie intake. You may be surprised with how much you end up with, a serving often being larger or smaller than you think. After weighing out an ounce of cheese, I popped it in the microwave for 10 seconds to make if more spreadable. You can skip this step if you leave the cheese sitting on the counter for a little bit, but let’s be honest, who thinks that far ahead? I know when I’m hungry, it is time to make that sandwich and eat it!I This makes the cheese wonderfully spreadable. Then layer the cucumbers up on top of the cheese. This is the fun part. No measuring, just as much as you desire. Nobody got fat by eating too many vegetables! I personally prefer my cucumbers sliced very thinly so I can pile them up higher and feel like there is more on there, but feel free to cut to your desire! I also peeled my cucumber, simply because it is on it’s way out of being good (frugality at its finest!) On this particular sandwich I photographed I do feel like I would have liked more cucumbers. Live and learn!
On the other piece of bread I make my quick tziki. I simply spread a thin layer of greek yogurt on the other piece of bread, sprinkled some onion powder and dill. These flavors combined with cucumber very successfully imitates the tziki flavor, though I will post the recipe at a later time, being that it is one of my favorite dips to make for veggies. After the sandwich was assembled, I sprayed both sides with cooking spray. This way, you achieve the buttery flavor on the outside without loading up on the calories of spreading butter all over. It also helps crisp up the bread. I cooked my sandwich on my George Foreman grill because I like the lines and even texture it gives, but there is nothing stopped you from throwing it in a frying pan the old fashioned way!
I accompanied my sandwich with a bunch of plain baby carrots. For me it added the crunch and sweetness I needed to feel completely full and satisfied. If you are counting calories or doing WeightWatchers, this entire sandwich is 7 points, mostly due to the pumpernickel bread which is 2 points a slice, but feel free to find a different brand!
Goat Cheese and Cucumber Grilled Cheese
serves 1, 7 points total
2 slices pumpernickel bread
cucumber (however much you desire)
1 ounce goat cheese
1 tsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp dill
1 tsp onion powder
2 sprays cooking spray
If you haven’t noticed, I am rather passionate about those three words in the title. Food should be simple, healthy, and delicious. Simply put. I often feel like a broken record, but there are times where even I forget that. When life gets busy, take-out seems easier. Healthy seems to fall by the wayside. Delicious seems like a luxury.
I have been doing lots of reading and research for school about talking with and educating patients about nutrition and developing healthy lifestyle habits. It is remarkable how ineffective we as a medical community have been at focusing on prevention of chronic disease! As I read more about the “standard American diet,” often pithily labeled the “SAD” diet, I think that the lack of nutrition in the average diet can’t all be related to lack of access or knowledge. I often think that healthy eating, generally, feels the opposite of the things above. Prepping fruits and vegetables does not feel simple. It is time-consuming and takes planning and thought. Kale also isn’t always the most appetizing, even for the biggest veggie enthusiast. So… how do we find a way to unify these words again?
Take some short cuts every once in a while! I recently discovered the pre-cut items at Trader Joe’s and have instantly fallen in love. (I know, I catch on slowly.) Broccoli slaw, spinach, kale… you name it! Cut, washed and ready to go, there isn’t an easier way to get greens on your dinner plate! While the bag of kale will be marked up compared to a bunch of it, the time savings is often worth it. So that takes care of the simple, now what about the healthy? Trader Joe’s (and Costco!) also have a great line of flavorful chicken sausages that add tons of interest to any simple meal! I really like the Chipotle Mango Chicken sausage, but my favorite is the Spinach and Red Pepper Chicken sausage (from Costco). There is so much flavor packed into each bite of these sausages that a lot of the work in finishing off your delicious meal is done for you! Try out the recipe below- packed with protein, fiber, and flavor, there is no better quick fix to get greens on your weeknight dinner table!
Are you as convinced as I am that food should meet all of those three criteria? Then share with me your tips and tricks for making healthy eating simple and delicious!
Chicken Sausage, Kale and Quinoa Salad
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 cup quinoa
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 cup water
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
5 Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Chicken sausage links
Parmesan cheese, to serve
In a medium saucepan, saute garlic and onion in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and stir for 1 minute. Add the quinoa, then stir for about 3 minutes or until the quinoa is well toasted. Add the water, broth, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer until the quinoa is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Meanwhile, steam the kale until just before it is soft. (I microwaved it with a bit of water for 3 minutes). Also cook the chicken sausage links in a frying or grill pan until crispy on the outside and heated through. Slice the chicken sausage links into bite-sized rounds. Stir together the quinoa, cooked kale and chicken sausage until well-combined. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
I spoke too soon! I may have mentioned that I rarely receive excited unknown veggies anymore in my Boston Organics box… well, the veggie gods must have taken that as a complaint and decided to throw me a curveball.
That, right there, is (not my own picture of) kohlrabi. I had no idea what this strange and questionable vegetable was until I googled it. I had heard of kohlrabi before but never actually seen it (or many recipes with it) and so was at a loss until 4 failed searches in. After reading a little bit about how the inside of kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked, I searched some recipes, which led me to this delicious creation from Epicurious. It looked simple and amenable to ingredients I already had in my fridge and freezer, so I decided to give it a shot!
The result? Amazing! Now, I might not be running out to the store for kohlrabi to incorporate into every meal. However, I would definitely make the trip to make this recipe again, and am looking forward to further experimentation should I happen upon this veggie in my box in the future! Kohlrabi has a great firm texture with a sharp, fresh taste. I almost want to compare it to a hybrid apple and potato, but that might be a stretch. Regardless, it worked great with the sweet corn and tropical flavors from the salsa I used, and really enhanced what would otherwise be a boring white fish. The key to the kohlrabi being edible and enjoyable is to peel it well– we used an industrial peeler and still ended with some of the thick, waxy coating in the finished product. Next time I know to be more careful! Also, though sources say you can enjoy it raw, I definitely preferred it cooked! Lastly, I made mini wedges instead of dicing the kohlrabi, which led to longer and more uneven boiling. Next time, I am going to dice the kohlrabi (and suggest you try it that way!) so that it is faster and blends into the compote better!
If you find yourself with kohlrabi or a craving for something new, give this recipe a shot! It comes together in less than a half hour, including prep time, so is great for a quick, healthy and delicious weeknight meal for two!
White Fish with Tropical Kohlrabi and Corn Compote
inspired by this recipe, serves 2
2 haddock (or other local white fish) fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 kohlrabi, peeled well and diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup tropical salsa (I used Mango Salsa from Costco)
Heat olive oil in a frying pan until popping hot. Add the fish fillets and season with salt and pepper. Cook 4 minutes, then carefully flip. Season again with salt and pepper, then cook 4-5 more minutes or until cooked through. Transfer fish to oven-safe dish and keep in a warm oven.
Meanwhile, bring roughly diced kohlrabi to a boil and cook until fork tender – about 5 minutes. Drain and mix with corn and salsa over low heat. Once warmed through and well combined, spoon mixture over fish fillets and serve.
It has been humid this past week in Boston, and so I have been craving cold salads and anything frozen. Last summer, I made a heavenly frozen treat that I nick named “Monkey Bites.” When I got around to making them again this summer, I found a way to simplify and clean up the process.
Smart, you say, right? I’d like to say that I am always that on top of my game, but we all know that is not true. More often than not, I am prone to some pretty hilarious blonde moments. Take the time I walked into my grandparent’s glass door in Florida trying to look at the alligator in their lake. They were nice enough to tape a napkin to the door for the rest of the week so I knew my boundaries. In my defense, my grandma is a very clean lady…
When I am not walking into doors or saying silly things, I am at least coming up with creative kitchen ideas! The recipe is about the same: bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter. But the method is simplified and cleaned up with some handy grill skewers. First, cut the bananas into bite sized chunks. Then, thread a few onto a skewer and pop them into the freezer for an hour or two. When they are almost frozen, melt down some chocolate and peanut butter. This is much easier than creating a peanut butter layer on each individual banana piece but still gets you some chocolate and peanut butter-y goodness in every bite!
Then, take the skewers, and rotate the banana pieces in the chocolate, using a spoon to make sure they get fully covered.
Pop ‘em back in the freezer for 20 minutes, then slide ‘em off the sticks and keep in a Tupperware in the freezer! They make a good snack or small dessert bite, perfect for steamy summer days. Enjoy!
Question: Are you prone to blonde moments? Leave a comment telling your funniest silly story!
Smarter than a Monkey Bite
3 medium bananas, very ripe, cut into chunks
3 standard chocolate bars of your choice
2 tbsp peanut butter
6 wooden skewers
Cut the banana into pieces. Slide, with space, onto skewers and freeze. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and peanut butter over a double boiler. Cover each banana piece with chocolate mixture. Freeze for 20 minutes on the skewers, and then remove to a storage container. See text of post for more detailed instructions.
The only thing better than cooking a great dinner is having leftovers for the next day or week. I frequently suffer from food boredom, though, so have become quite creative in repurposing some of my recipes into new grab-and-go lunch creations. I highlighted some of my leftover makeovers last summer, and figured I’d keep up with this mini-series again this summer! Hopefully there will be more to come!
This repurposing is simple: it is basically the previous night’s dinner all re-bundled grab-and-go style. All I did was take a few spoonfuls of the leftover curried quinoa with greens, a spoonful of caramelized sweet potatoes, some chopped cucumber, and a stripe of Greek yogurt and mango butter. I rolled this all up inside of a wrap and then rolled that in foil. This lunch was surprisingly filling, thanks to the protein from the quinoa and the Greek yogurt, and helped me conquer a busy Saturday afternoon on the wards!
My friend must know me really well. I check in on her dogs every once in a while if she and her husband are out of town, and in turn am always offered produce they have in their fridge that they want to make sure gets eaten! So I think I get the best of all ends of the deal: I get my puppy fix by playing with two adorable dogs for a bit, and then get to take home fruits and veggies as I leave? Yes, please!
This time my payment was a giant head of green cabbage. I can tell I am getting older because of how much I have grown to love this vegetable. As a kid, I associated cabbage with the boiled stuff you picked at on St. Patrick’s Day. Bland, soft, and generally not my favorite. Now, I know that cabbage is great sautéed with fennel, pickled with apple cider vinegar, or added to stir fries. Thanks to Chelsey, I have one more way to enjoy it: roasted. I followed her recipe closely, but wanted to spice it up a little bit. I added some garlic powder and apple cider vinegar in addition to the olive oil, salt and pepper that she called for. Also, I decided to make a quick mustard vinaigrette, and have never been happier. I combined a tablespoon each of Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil and poured that over my portion of cabbage. I enjoyed bowls upon bowls of this for lunch over the past week, along with some leftover burek that my friend brought for dinner while visiting. It’s like eating a salad, but more warm and comforting – delicious for the still chilly winter air. My roommate stole a bite and liked it enough to get her own head of cabbage – that should be convincing enough to convert some new cabbage lovers out there!