Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

There’s something about the first 80-degree day of the year to make you realize just how badly you need to iron your shorts and shave your legs (sorry, Andrew. ūüėČ ) ¬†Additionally, the gorgeous weather yesterday inspired us to cook dinner on the grill. ¬†This recipe is far from cutting edge, but the end result is quite tasty:

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

1 1/2 lb chicken breasts 

3 bell peppers 

1/2 onion 

2 c pineapple

skewers

(Marinade)

3 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free or regular)

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

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1. Slice chicken into chunks and place in large zip-seal bag.  Slice peppers, onion, and pineapple into 1-2 inch pieces and place in separate zip-seal bag.  2.  Combine ingredients for marinade, mix well, and pour half into each zip-seal bag.  3.  Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour.  4.  Preheat grill to medium heat.  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water (to prevent them from catching fire.)  5.  Put chicken and veggies on skewers, leaving a little room at each end to allow for turning.

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(We put our meat and veggies on separate skewers in case they require different cooking times, but you can mix them up if you want!)

6.  Place skewers on grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning a few times.  Check chicken regularly to make sure it is completely cooked.  7.  Remove from skewers, and enjoy!

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We ate ours with some brown rice (made in the rice cooker,) and it was delicious! ¬†I don’t eat onion, so half of an onion was sufficient for Andrew, but you could certainly use a whole one. ¬†Next time we’ll marinate everything for a bit longer (we didn’t quite give it an hour.) ¬†Even so, it tasted great, and we will definitely make it again!

Enjoy!

Easy Turkey Tacos

Everyone likes tacos, right?

Back in December I babysat overnight for some friends. ¬†Before the three kids left for school the first day, I asked what they wanted for dinner that night. ¬†Tacos suited everyone. ¬†I grocery shopped that afternoon, prepared dinner while the kids were doing homework, and was feeling very pleased with myself (parenthood? ¬†I’ve¬†so¬†got this,) until…

“…This is a strange kind of beef…”–“That’s because it’s chicken.”

“Where are the soft tacos?”–“I only bought the hard shells…”

“Is there sour cream?”–“No…”

Everyone likes tacos… but everyone does tacos a little differently ūüėČ

Last night was taco night for us. ¬†Here’s how¬†we¬†do it:

Easy Turkey Tacos

1 lb lean ground turkey

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp smoked (or regular) paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1+tbsp corn starch

Hard taco shells

Tomato, diced

Mixed greens, finely chopped

Shredded cheddar-jack  cheese (for Catherine, not Andrew)

Lime

1.  Pour olive oil into skillet over medium heat.  Add turkey and cook completely, stirring regularly.

2.  While turkey is cooking, combine spices and corn starch in a glass.  Add 1/2 c water and mix well, making sure there are no corn starch clumps.

3.  Add liquid/spice mixture to cooked turkey in skillet.  Let simmer over medium-low heat, mixing well to coat all the turkey.  Remove from heat when the sauce has thickened.

4. Slice tomatoes and mixed greens.

5.  Assemble, squeezing lime juice over the greens at the very end.

Tacos

We like to warm the shells in the toaster oven for a few minutes before eating them;  if you do this, be sure to watch closely, as they go from cold to burned very quickly (found that out the hard way.)

Tacos are a super easy and quick weeknight meal. ¬†We went from sitting on the couch asking, “Are you getting hungry?” to sitting at the table on the couch eating in about 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Aioli and the Art of Broiling

How does one use the broiler without setting off the fire alarm or, as was the case last night, catching dinner on fire? ¬†If there is an art to broiling, I don’t have it. ¬†My attempts all end with an open window, a fan, and waving a dish towel in front of the smoke detector.

Here was our intended menu, and more or less what ended up on the table last night:

Broiled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Aioli

Quinoa with Cranberries and Almonds

Sauteed Green Beans

I started with an enormous piece of fish;  I took a photo of it with my hand for comparison:

salmon

After cutting it into more reasonably sized fillets, I put it back on this aluminum foil lined pan, with salt and pepper and ¬†just a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking. ¬†(Question: because salmon is so oily anyway, is the olive oil necessary? ¬†Perhaps it was part of the problem…)

I turned on the broiler. ¬†I placed the pan with the salmon on a rack about six inches from the top of the oven. ¬†I set the timer for 3 minutes (just 3 minutes!) ¬†When the timer beeped I grabbed an oven mitt, opened the oven, and smoke billowed out. ¬†I reached in to pull out the pan, and¬†Fwooosh!¬†(<–That’s the sound salmon fillets make when they catch on fire.) ¬†I pushed the pan back into the oven and closed the door.

What did I do wrong?  Was it the olive oil?  Too close to the top of the oven?  Too hot (550 degrees)?

Once I’d dealt with the fire, I decided to bake the salmon the rest of the way–450 degrees on the middle rack. ¬†Much safer. ūüôā ¬†From that point the fillets took about 10 minutes to finish cooking, and thankfully turned out pretty well.

Now, about that aioli.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve seriously disliked mayonnaise. ¬†Perhaps it began in childhood, eating ham sandwiches with mayo on the beach and having grains of sand blow into them as I took a bite. ¬†Who knows? ¬†I hated it as a kid, and as I grew up I saw no point in trying it again, as it is a fairly nutritionally-void food.

However, mayonnaise has recently crept into my life in the form of aioli. ¬†It’s basically a fancy mayonnaise, with added herbs or spices. ¬†Some restaurants serve a variety of aiolis instead of ketchup with their french fries, and I love it. ¬†I hate that I love it, but I love it nonetheless. ¬†I even put mayonnaise on a sandwich while visiting my sister earlier this month, and I¬†liked it… I liked the whole thing!

With this new found appreciation for mayonnaise, I decided to make a lemon-herb aioli to go with the salmon last night.  We had some rosemary and sage left over from this meal, so I chopped them finely and mixed them into a small bowl of mayo with a squeeze of lemon juice.

The final product:

salmon and quinoa salmon and quinoa2

We cooked the quinoa in the rice cooker with low-sodium chicken broth, then added Craisins and sliced almonds at the end.  The green beans were frozen, and we put them in a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Easy and delicious.

The salmon emerged from the fire relatively unscathed. ¬†The skin was crispy, but Andrew tells me that’s something to strive for in the culinary world. ūüėČ

Even with the fire incident, this meal was on the table in 30 minutes.  Not bad for a Wednesday night!

Do you have any broiling tips that could keep me from setting off the smoke detector next time?

Baked Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

My preferred cooking style is one that creates plenty of leftovers. ¬†Generally we cook Monday, Wednesday, and either Friday or Saturday (and go out to eat the other night,) and eat leftovers Tuesday*, Thursday, and Sunday. ¬†As much as I love cooking, I think I’d go crazy if I had to do it every day!

(*Of course, we make exceptions for Stewsday ;-))

This was our cook Monday/eat leftovers Tuesday meal–great for a week night because other than slicing a few vegetables, there is very little prep:

Baked Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

1 1/2 lb chicken breasts

4 carrots, peeled & sliced

4 celery stalks, sliced

15 grape tomatoes

12-15 gold potatoes (the small ones), quartered

12 oz green beans

3 cloves of garlic

1 c chicken broth

1/4 c dry white wine

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Rosemary and Sage, 1 sprig each, fresh

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line baking dish with aluminum foil.

2. Place potatoes in pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, and mix to coat.  Spread potatoes evenly on pan.  Place in oven for 10 minutes.

3. Remove pan from oven.   Add all vegetables and liquids.  Place chicken breasts on top of the veggies, and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper.  Divide rosemary and sage evenly on top of each chicken breast.

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4. Cover with foil.  Place in oven for 30 minutes.

5. Remove foil.  Place back in oven for 10 minutes.

6. Remove from oven, check that chicken is done, and enjoy!

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We used more chicken broth than I indicated above, and found myself wishing the meal were more roasted and less boiled; ¬†1 cup of broth should be the perfect amount! ¬†Also, the amounts I indicated for the vegetables are estimates (as usual.) ¬†As Andrew put it, “Just fill the pan!” ¬†You’re not going to mess it up.

All in all, this meal was a success! ¬†Happy cooking ūüėÄ

Simple is Better (Date Night Steak Dinner)

Between birthday dinners and our recent trip to Colorado, Andrew and I have gone out to eat for an absurd number of meals in the last few weeks, so when the weekend arrived, a home-cooked meal sounded like a pretty fantastic date night plan.  Plus, with the warmer weather and extra light in the evenings, we were eager to bring the grill out of hibernation.

We went to the grocery store with the plan to buy chicken or pork–something lighter, as we’ve been eating a lot of heavy meals–but the organic steaks were 50% off. ¬†How could we pass that up?

Back at home, as we were preparing the meal together, something occurred to me:  simple is better.  As much as I love cooking, creating, and trying new recipes, often the meals I find most satisfying are those that require the least preparation.  A little olive oil, salt, and pepper go a long way!

Here’s what was on our simple menu last night:

Grilled Strip Steaks

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sweet Potatoes

(Plus grilled mushrooms and onions for Andrew…because he wanted to cook more things on the grill ;-))

The preparation:

Sweet Potatoes: 1. Wash.  2. Poke holes with fork.  3. Put in oven at 425 for about 45 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts: 1. Wash. ¬†2. Cut off bottoms and remove any bad-looking outer leaves. 3. Slice in half. ¬†4. Place sprouts in a bowl, add olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix well. ¬†5. Place in a foil-lined baking pan, and put in oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. ¬†(*I’d normally cook them at a lower heat, but because the sweet potatoes needed to cook as well, we rolled with it.)

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Steaks- 1. Coat with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  2. Place on grill at a medium heat for about 20 minutes.

steaks grilling

So simple. ¬†All that’s left to do is enjoy!

moscato

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Mmm…

We each only ate about half of our giant sweet potatoes; ¬†Andrew made it a little further with the 1/2 lb steak than I did, but we definitely have some leftovers. ūüôā

Don’t underestimate the value of olive oil, salt and pepper; ¬†simple is often better when it comes to creating a delicious meal!

The Easiest Stew You’ll Ever Make

We celebrated Stewsday this week with a recipe I created a few years ago, of which I am quite proud.  This stew is delicious, healthy, hearty, quick, and most importantly, foolproof.  Truly foolproof.  If you can open a few cans, you can make this stew.

Here’s the original recipe:

Simple Salsa Stew

16 oz salsa

1 (15oz) can Great Northern beans, drained/rinsed

1 (15oz) can carrots, drained

1 (15 oz) can green beans, drained

1 (15oz) can corn, drained

1 lb canned chicken

Water to reach desired consistency

1. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan.  2. Heat and stir.  3. Eat.

It’s really that easy. ¬†¬†The longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste, but if you are in a hurry you can eat it as fast as you can heat it!

This week we had a few bags of frozen vegetables and chicken breasts (not canned), so we modified the recipe, making it only slightly more labor intensive.

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We used: 32 oz medium salsa (2 jars,) 1 bag each corn, carrots, and green beans, 2 cans Great Northern beans, and 1.25 lb chicken breasts (boiled, then shredded with a fork.) ¬†We added chicken broth rather than water to make up for the juices that would have been in the can of chicken. ¬†(Chicken juices… mmm… ;-))

We heated everything over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes;  we let this batch simmer a bit longer than usual to allow the frozen vegetables to soften.  The end result:

stew

So good. ¬†We like to scoop ours with tortilla chips–it is, after all, a souped up version of salsa¬†(pun intended :-D).

There it is: quite possibly the easiest stew you will ever make.  And for the amount of work you put in, the taste is pretty tough to beat.

Enjoy!

Ginger-Lime Salmon and Asparagus-Mushroom Risotto

Andrew and I tag-teamed dinner last night.  He handled the protein, and I made a side dish from a recipe found in The Gluten-Free Bible cookbook:  Asparagus-Parmesan Risotto.  As usual, I altered it a bit.

I don’t have the exact recipe for what Andrew made, but I know he cooked the salmon in a skillet with lime slices and ginger, and made a soy sauce based sauce. ¬†It tasted good, but the risotto was the clear winner according to my taste buds.

Asparagus-Mushroom Risotto

4 tbsp butter (we used Smart Balance)

2 c uncooked Arborio rice

2/3 c dry white wine

5 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth

1 bunch of asparagus (cut into 1 inch pieces)

2/3 c frozen peas

12 oz mushrooms

Salt & Pepper

1. Melt 3 tbsp butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in rice; cook 2 minutes or until rice is coated with butter, stirring frequently.  Add wine; cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine is absorbed.

2.  Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce to heat to low.

3. Add 1 1/2 c hot broth to rice mixture; cook and stir 6-7 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed.  (Mixture should simmer, but not boil.)  Add 2 c broth and asparagus; cook and stir 6-7 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed.  Add remaining 2 c broth, peas, and mushrooms; cook and stir 6-7 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed and rice mixture is creamy.

4. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tbsp butter.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

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I did sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on mine, as the original recipe suggested–none for the lactose-intolerant guy, unfortunately. ¬†At first glance, 4 tablespoons of butter seemed like a lot to me, but the recipe made so much risotto that there really isn’t that much butter per serving.

And, oh man, it was tasty.  Even without the Parmesan cheese it was creamy and filling.  Andrew and I both went back for seconds.

Enjoy!

Breakfast and Post Run Fuel

I’m a morning runner. ¬†I enjoy the stillness of life before most people are awake, the sounds, the dim light. ¬†I am a morning runner, but I am not a roll-out-of-bed-put-on-my-running-shoes runner. ¬†I am a hungry person in the morning, and the hunger hits hard and fast. ¬†From the time my eyes open in that blissful, half-awake state, I have approximately eleven minutes until my stomach is snarling (yes, it’s beyond a growl) in a painful way.

Here’s one of my morning favorites that is satisfying, healthy, and delicious (and probably won’t give you “the feeling” in the middle of your run. ¬†You know what I’m talking about.) :

Cocoa Almond Oatmeal with Banana

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1/2 c oats (not instant oatmeal)

1 c almond milk (unsweetened)

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tsp cocoa powder (not hot cocoa mix)

banana

1. Bring almond milk to a boil.  2. Add oats. Reduce heat, and cook oats for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly.  3. Add cocoa powder.  Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring well to mix the cocoa and oats.  4.  Remove from heat, add almond butter, and stir well.  5. Top with sliced banana, and enjoy!

You could certainly use regular or soy milk rather than almond milk, and peanut butter rather than almond butter. ¬†Using hot cocoa mix instead of cocoa powder would be extra tasty, but I am trying to keep the added sugar to a minimum ūüėČ ¬†Also, shredded coconut would be excellent in this bowl, but alas, we did not have any.

After running or any type of workout, it’s important to refuel your muscles with a combination of carbohydrates and protein. ¬†My go-to is a smoothie:

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Frozen berries + frozen mango + spinach + soy milk

Why frozen fruit? ¬†It gives the smoothie thickness without having to add ice. ¬†Spinach? ¬†It has SO many health benefits, and you can’t taste it, I promise. ūüôā ¬†A banana will do wonders for your smoothie as well, but I’ve found my stomach can only handle banana in small doses (weird, I know.) ¬†I had already hit my daily limit with the oatmeal!

DSCN7264Ooh Yeeah.

Just make sure you floss; those berry bits you see have a way of placing themselves between every single one of your teeth ūüôā

The Sandwich-Hater’s Lunch: Spicy Lentil Soup

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am a sandwich-hater (hi, Catherine.)  

I have a new lunch recipe this week for anyone craving an alternative to the sandwich. ¬†It’s very easy, but does require a bit of time, so I’d recommend preparing it on Sunday evening (or whenever you have a spare hour.)

Spicy Lentil Soup

1+ c dry lentils

2-3 carrots

2 celery stalks

8 oz cherry tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

Spinach leaves (large handful)

5 c low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp thyme

salt & pepper (to taste)

Red wine vinegar (a splash)

1 tbsp olive oil

1.  Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Meanwhile, slice carrots, celery, tomatoes, and garlic.

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I really love these multi-colored tomatoes from Trader Joe’s… Go antioxidants!

2. Add carrots, celery, and tomatoes to saucepan.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add garlic.  Cook for another 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring often.

3.  Add lentils and chicken broth, and bring to a simmer.  Add bay leaf, spices, salt & pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes (or until carrots and lentils are mostly soft.)

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4. Add spinach and red wine vinegar, and let simmer for a few more minutes (the spinach will wilt quickly.)

5. Taste test; add any spices, salt, pepper, etc. that you desire.

6.. Ladle into your favorite mug or bowl, and enjoy!

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Nutrient-packed, delicious, and very filling.

If you are a vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth rather than chicken broth.  If you are one who believes that a meal must contain meat to be considered a meal (Andrew falls squarely in that category,) a great addition to this soup would be a ham steak, cubed, and added to the pot at the same time as the lentils.

This batch will definitely not last the entire week. ¬†Next time I will double the recipe to safeguard against hungry husbands (Well, just one hungry husband, really. ¬†I haven’t had much trouble with anyone else’s husband snacking on my lunch food ;-))

Lunch shouldn’t be boring; ¬†stay strong, my fellow sandwich-haters!

Incredibly Easy Pork Tenderloin + Me Time

Recently Andrew and I had the following conversation:

        A: When are you getting together with your college roommates?

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† C: February 4-5. ¬†It’s a Monday-Tuesday.

        A: Hmm.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† C: Why do you ask? (Fishing for an “I’m going to miss you!”)

        A: I was hoping it was on a weekend.  I need a weekend to get some things done  

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†around the house without having to worry about “quality time.”

Husbands, right? ūüėÄ

I tell you this story so that I don’t look like the bad guy when I say that I thoroughly enjoyed some me-time last night while Andrew was out (he had a work related dinner followed by a basketball game.) ¬†No matter how much two people love each other, I think personal time is crucial. ¬†While Andrew was off shooting hoops and talking about rocks (mine engineer,) here’s how I filled my evening: Dinner & Relaxation

Dinner

Herb-Seasoned Pork Tenderloin, Oven Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli

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I would make this meal every week if I were cooking only for myself. ¬†Pork is, without question, my favorite type of meat. ¬†Here’s how I prepared it last night:

1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp rosemary

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp paprika

Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and paprika.

3. Place pork tenderloin on the baking sheet and spoon spice/oil mixture over top.  Use hands to make sure entire tenderloin is coated.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

4. Place in oven for 30-45 minutes (Mine took about 35.)

5. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes (this allows the meat to reabsorb its juices.)

DSCN7279Foil = clean pan and tender, juicy meat

6. Dig in, and enjoy!

Oh man. ¬†This came out perfectly. ¬†I’d like to take credit, but I think it’s just tough to mess up a pork tenderloin.

DSCN7282I slice in at least 5 places to make sure it’s done. ¬†Paranoid? ¬†Perhaps. ūüėČ

With the roasted potatoes and slightly over-steamed (in other words, delicious) broccoli, it was a very satisfying meal.

DSCN7292Mmm.

Relaxation

Tea–Easy Now by Traditional Medicinals, in my “C” mug that my sister-in-law Jenny gave me for Christmas! ¬†TM has a tea for almost any ailment you could imagine, and I generally turn to them before medicine, for better or worse ūüėČ ¬†Their Throat Coat¬†tea is nothing short of miraculous. ¬†Easy Now contains lavender and chamomile, among other herbs, and definitely helps me relax.

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Bubble Bath–Who doesn’t love a hot bath? ¬†Don’t answer that; ¬†I’m sure there are people who aren’t into that. ¬†I’m not one of those people.

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Bubble bath, tea, magazine… perfect.

It’s good to be alone sometimes. ¬†Especially while blogging, when your husband is a super rational, get-things-done kind of guy–

“Why did you take a picture of your tea? <Sigh.> We are raising up a generation of complete egotists.”

Who, me? ūüėČ