Mediterranean Power Salad

It may be September but here in Austin it’s still in the high 90s and the humidity did not get the message to go away because it’s supposed to be turning into autumn. So what does one do for a healthy weeknight dinner that does not involve touching the stove? You make yourself a power salad filled with all that is good and filling. I do not believe that salads have to be boring or limp. You can add grains, you can add protein that isn’t bland and it can have a ton flavor. Since my mind has been preoccupied with dreaming of a trip to the Mediterranean, my taste buds needed to be inspired too. Mediterranean power salad it is.

There’s not a lot of real measurements so you can make it however big or small you want, so here’s the cast of characters:

A bed of power greens

Diced red onion

Chopped cucumber

Kalamata olives

Cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup couscous per person

Rosemary citrus shrimp (marinade to follow)

 

Simple list and the shrimpies cook up quick with just 2-3 minutes (or until opaque) on each side on medium high heat. Throw the veggies and greens together, dress with your favorite vinaigrette (try using pomegranate red wine vinegar if you make your own) and top with warm couscous and shrimp. I paired mine with a grapefruit vodka and soda cocktail and was happy as a clam.

Mediterranean

Yes yes you get an iphone shot instead of a real picture but it’s actually because I was too excited to eat the salad than actually try and take a pretty picture of it. And the fact that I was only an episode away from finishing Sherlock had nothing to do with me not wanting to get up and find a camera. Nothing.

I posted my favorite vinaigrette recipe here. And here’s my rosemary citrus shrimp marinade for around 1/2 pound of shrimp:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh citrus juice (I tried lime and grapefruit and both balanced out the rosemary very nicely)

1-2 Tbsp. diced fresh rosemary (really depends on how big your shrimp are)

Sea salt and cracked pepper to your preference

I recommend seasoning your shrimp with salt and pepper before adding to the marinade.

Now all you have to do is let your taste buds take you to a Greek Isle and enjoy.

Baked Pesto Pasta

I did something good. Like really good. And it was easy too so it made it that much better. I made this baked pasta dish with pesto and veggies and cheese and goodness in abundance. I got the inspiration from here but subbed in some other ingredients to fit Jon and I’s taste and it turned out so well I can’t wait to make it again. Lets begin shall we:

You’ll need:

-3/4 lb- 1 lb angel hair pasta

-1/4 cup olive oil

-1/4 cup pesto

-1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

-1 Tsp dill

-1 Tsp crushed red pepper (or however much kick you like)

-1/2 container of mushrooms, sliced

-1/2 onion diced

-1/3 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil

-3 red bell peppers, sliced

-8-10 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

-freshly chopped basil and grated parmesan for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil pasta to al dente and drain well.

While pasta is cooking, slice your mushrooms and peppers and dice your onions (SLICE AND DICE–name that reference)

To your baking dish (I used an 11″ gratin dish that worked great, or a 9 X 13 of course) add the oil, pesto and seasonings to coat the bottom of the dish.

Pestodish

Add your pasta and chopped veggies and sun dried tomatoes and toss to coat with the oil and pesto.

Add 3/4 of the shredded mozzarella on top and then add the peppers on top, followed by the rest of the cheese.

Pestodish2

Bake for 45 minutes or until peppers have cooked down.

Top with parmesan and fresh basil and enjoy!

Pestodish3

Hope this makes for an easy weeknight dinner that all will enjoy!

Good Morning Smoothie

Good mornin’ Good mornin’ to you!

Remember that super catchy song from Singing in the Rain? Remember how you don’t pop out of bed singing that song all bright eyed and chipper? Well I’m not saying this smoothie will fix that but at least you’ll start yourself on the right foot that can help lead to healthy choices for the rest of the day. Isn’t it nice to begin the day not slowed down by a sugary first meal? I think so.

It’s got all the good stuff: power greens, protein, antioxidants in the blueberries, fiber and Omega-3 in the flax, and it’s not watered down by using a frozen banana instead of ice.

Serving: 1

A small handful of greens (kale, spinach, mustard greens etc)

Half scoop of protein powder

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 frozen banana

2 Tbs flax seed

1 cup liquid of your choice (I’ve used water, almond milk and soy milk and it doesn’t really make a difference)

Blend together, stick a straw in it and be on your way to a great day!

 

 

Note: I’ve been using my immersion blender and it works great-no splatter if you push it all the way down. Also no picture because despite the blueberries it doesn’t come out the prettiest color thanks to the greens.

Weeknight Dinner: Power Salad

Uh-oh watch out, I’m at it again with those crazy power salads. Just kidding. They’re not that exciting and I’m not that nuts. Basically it’s getting hotter outside which means I’m less inclined to use my stove/oven and quite frankly, I’m tired after working and then going on a run with the pup. Power salad it is.

Power salad

Power salad

You know the drill- mix together and eat.

  • Large handful of spinach
  • 1/4 C cooked quinoa
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • 1 orange sliced
  • Handful of chopped almonds
  • 1/2 C chopped mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
  • Cracked pepper to taste

Vinaigrette (my new favorite salad dressing!)

The proper method is to whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil and then slowly pour and whisk in the olive oil to combine. BUT since we’re not at a culinary school in the heart of France-I put all the ingredients in a jar and shook and it turned out magnificently. Like I said, my new favorite salad dressing.

  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 Tsp dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil

 

Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Cookies

There’s just something about the combination of sweet and salty, it just hits the spot. The thought “it is well with my soul” comes to mind… And sometimes after looking at wedding photographer portfolios for a little too long into the night you crave a cookie. But not just any cookie, a peanut butter cookie. But not just any peanut butter cookie but one with a hint of saltiness to it because you need it all from a cookie. It’s got to be good because you’ve been staring at a screen for waaaaaaaaaay to long now. Let’s work with our hands. And by hands, I mean a stand mixer. Close enough. I present to you- Sea Salt  and Peanut Butter Cookie. Sweet and salty and all that is good.

hello lovelies

hello lovelies

1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature

1 C peanut butter

1/2 C sugar

3/4 C brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1 C flour

3/4 Tsp baking soda

1 Tsp sea salt + more for sprinkling

 

Preheat oven to 350

Cream the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla until combined. In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. Add this dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.

Scoop out a heaping tablespoon onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a Sil-Pat, leaving around 2 inches between each scoop. Using the tines of a fork, press down twice in opposite directions to create the criss-cross pattern. (Hashtag) Sprinkle with sea salt.

(Note: It took me a couple round of baking and refrigerating the dough in between rounds helps a whole lot to ease the scooping the dough and it not sticking to e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g)

Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating half way. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Then nom nom nom nom nom.

I would you give you serving suggestions, but that would make me a hypocrite.

It is well with my soul.

Weeknight Dinner: Power Salad

Here’s an easy peasy one for a Monday night. No peas though.

Power salad = Spinach + Quinoa + Mushrooms + Cranberries + Blueberries + Walnuts

Cook the quinoa

Chop mushrooms

Heat olive oil and throw in berries until they start to burst break down

Throw together, top with some freshly ground black pepper and enjoy!

I didn’t put a salad dressing on because the berry juice and the olive oil and black pepper was good enough for me but I’m sure a vinaigrette would be lovely.

feel the power

feel the power

Not Yo Mama’s Brussel Sprouts

I can make you like brussel sprouts. I can make you want them all the time, even for your birthday. It can be done. They’re not bitter and they’re not stinky (FRIENDS reference? always).  The secret? Caramelized to a wonderful color and at the last second hit with a splash of balsamic vinegar. You have to have patience though but good things come to those who wait.

1. Cut brussel sprouts in half longways

2. Heat olive oil to medium heat

3. Place brussel sprouts cut side down and cook until they get a nice nutty brown color

Cooking cut side down first

Cooking cut side down first

4. The interesting part- flip them to quickly cook the other side (If you find a fool proof efficient method for this step- please let me know! I’ve tried everything down to chop sticks) OH and beware- they pop and can flip themselves back over at this step

I need tiny tongs or something for the tiny cabbages

I need tiny tongs or something for the tiny cabbages

5. Toss on some balsamic vinegar (to taste) and quickly stir around to coat and deglaze the pan and then enjoy!

This is the key: balsamic cuts out the bitterness so you are not repelled

This is the key: balsamic cuts out the bitterness so you are not repelled by something so good

Some additions to the sprouts to dress them up can be to saute some garlic in with them (careful not to burn) or off course crumbled bacon or pancetta, toasted pecans or walnuts and cheesed (preferably a salty one to counter the balsamic)

Give them a chance!

Has anyone else found a way to enjoy a veg with a bad rap?