Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Apple Horseradish Egg Salad

In my research, I've found tons of recipes for curried egg salad...but never something as radical as apple horseradish egg salad. It's spicy, rich with a hint of onion flavor and herbs. I hope you enjoy this unique combination as much as I have. Plus, I've made it all the more healthful by substituting Greek yogurt for mayonnaise. Enjoy!
Apple Horseradish Egg Salad

-6 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
-1 medium apple, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch pieces
-1/2 cup 2% fat Greek Yogurt
-2 tablespoons scallion, thinly sliced (green section only)
-1 TBSP prepared horseradish
-1 1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
-1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
-1/4 tsp.  Herb de Provence 
-Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
-2 cups of spinach leaves

In a small pot, cover the eggs with waterand bring to a boil, uncovered. Allow to boil for two minutes, remove from heat and cover. Allow to steam for 12 minutes and immediately run under cool water and peel.

In a medium bowl, add the yogurt, scallion, horseradish, apple cider vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Herb de Provence and whisk together. Toss the chopped eggs and apples.  Taste and add salt and pepper to season to your preference. Allow to chill for 30 minutes to one hour. Serve on a bed of spinach and a hunk of cornbread. Serves 3.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thai One On

Thai cuisine is a simple yet clever combination of Eastern and Western influences harmoniously combining sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavors.  Thai food variesdepending upon the area or region of Thailand the dish originates from. These regions include the north, northeast, south and central. The north tends to be a little heavier handed with hot spices, while the south incorporates more curry and lemongrass flavors they picked up from their Indian neighbors.

Traditional Thai cookery involved stewing and baking, or grilling. However, with the migration of Chinese people into the area that is now Thailand, Burma and Vietnam, frying, stir-frying and deep-frying of food became more popular techniques, and to this day pad thai (fried noodles) and khao pad (fried rice) remain classic Thai dishes. 

There's a quick history lesson so when you try my Thai inspired recipe this week you'll appreciate the flavors even more!

Faux Pad Thai
I wanted to try my hand at creating a healthier version of traditional pad thai, which is why I call my recipe this week faux pad thai. It still features rice noodles, created from rice flour, but I added a few more vegetables and cut down on the protein from eggs and tofu. I love the combination of grilled food with a spicy complimenting dish. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did and yes, it does taste delish cold, although I wouldn't recommend it for breakfast.

-2 leg quarters of bone-in chicken
-1 TBSP light brown sugar
-1 TBSP rice vinegar plus 1 TBSP water
-2 radish, thinly sliced
-½ cup vinegar
-1 TBSP kosher salt
-1/2 pound dried rice noodles
-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-4 cups Bok Choy, chopped
-1 TBSP soy sauce
-1 TBSP fish sauce
-1 TBSP Sambal Oelek
-1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
-3 scallions, sliced
-½ cup roasted peanuts
-4 TBSP tablespoons cilantro leaves (optional)
-1 lime, cut into small wedges

Place chicken in a bowl, add the sugar and rice vinegar mixture and toss to coat. Heat grill and cook thoroughly.

Add the radishes to the kosher salt and vinegar inside a glass jar or bowl. Cover and allow pickling for 30 minutes.

Once the chicken has begun grilling, soak the rice noodles in very warm water for 20 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, place a large skillet over high heat.  Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the garlic and stir-fry briefly just until it begins to change color, about 15 seconds. Add the bok choy and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Press the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the remaining oil to the skillet. Toss in the drained rice noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce and Sambal Oelek. (Note: this can be found in most grocery's Asian food aisle and is simply chilies to give a dish heat without altering the flavors in the dish like using Sriracha, its chili sauce cousin).  Briefly stir fry for one minute or less to combine the noodles and vegetables.

In a shallow serving bowl, plate a serving of noodles. Top with bean sprouts, scallions, roasted peanuts, cilantro leaves and pickled radish. Squeeze a lime wedge over the entire mixture and serve with a piece of grilled chicken. Serves 4. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Slaw with Black Beans and Rice

Slaw has a negative connotation due in part to its most popular version, coleslaw made with tons of mayonnaise. It doesn't have to be! I love slaw's ability to combine cabbage with the flavors of your choosing and then meld together creating a wonderful addition or side to most dinners.

Try your hand at unique combinations for slaw or try one of these:

Serve with seared tuna
-Napa cabbage, sesame seeds, Sriracha, shredded carrots and sesame oil

Serve with grilled chicken:
-Green cabbage, lemon zest, juice of one lemon, baby greens from bok choy, kale, etc. and pine nuts

Top Fish Tacos:
-Green and red cabbage, Wasabi paste, lemon juice, cumin powder and Greek yogurt 
This version of slaw features apples, sweet red onion, spicy pickled jalapeños and fresh lime juice. The crunchy cabbage and snappy apple work well to balance out the warmth of black beans and rice.

Apple Slaw with Black Beans and Rice

-1 cup of julienned apple
-1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
-1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
-1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, divided
-1 fresh lime, juiced
-2 TBSP pickled jalapeños, chopped
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
-1 teaspoon ground coriander
-3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
-2 cups low-salt chicken broth
-1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-2 cups cooked brown rice
-1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded 
-4-6 lime wedges

Cut slices of the apple around the core, leaving a rectangle shaped core. Lay the flat edge of the apple down on a board and cut horizontally. Flip the board 180 degrees and cut thin sticks out of the apple. Combine apple, cabbage, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons onion, jalapenos and lime juice in a small bowl; toss to coat. Set apple slaw aside.

Combine remaining onion and oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.

Divide rice and beans among plates. Top with some chicken and apple slaw. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime wedges. Serves 2.

Kelly Lake
Administration Director & Healthy Food Enthusiast 
Bay Athletic Club
Like me on Facebook 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Homemade Tomato Marinana Sauce

You might be asking, "Why would I need to make my own red marinara sauce...the stuff in the jar is fast and easy." Well, I would have to agree with you, but before you write this week's recipe off, allow me to make a case for the ease and superiority of homemade sauce.
With mainly pantry items, this sauce can come together in 20 minutes. Plus, imagine how good you will feel to serve your family homemade sauce, even if you are not the world's craftiest cook. Building on that thought; why not get your family to help you with the sauce?  Watching is primarily how children learn how to cook and tasking them with appropriate work will jettison their progress. Have them stir the sauce if you are comfortable having them around a hot stove, or have the younger ones prep the herbs by washing, drying and tearing the basil into small pieces or adding the ingredients to the pot with your help. What little one wouldn't love squishing a tomato in their bare hand?

So, yes, this recipe is not as easy as opening a jar of sauce, but, I'm guessing you'll feel the experience well outweighs the slight time advantage of doing so. Twenty minutes with your family in the kitchen to create a meal counts as solid quality time to me. So, let's get you started. 

 Homemade Pantry Marinara Sauce

-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 small yellow onion, finely diced
-2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
-1 bay leaf
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 sprig of fresh Thyme
-½ cup of sliced fresh basil
-Parmesan cheese, to garnish, optional
-Cooked pasta, to serve ( or make zucchini ribbons)

Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan with the onions. Crush the tomatoes in your hand as you add them, or smash them against the sides of the pan with your spatula. Add the bay leaf and thyme.

Simmer for about 20 minutes: Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue simmering until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Be sure to stir the sauce every minute so it reduces and does not burn on the bottom.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta or zucchini ribbons in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse. To create zucchini ribbons, cut the ends of both sides of the zucchini, peel and cut long sections around the middle of the core to eliminate any seeds from your ribbons. Slice the zucchini into thin sections, lengthwise. Cook like pasta, but only for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain quickly and bath in an ice bath. Remove and place into a bowl.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems. Serve the sauce immediately over pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for about a week or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Monday, September 8, 2014

We are What we Eat

We are what we eat.  If you put junk in your body you will feel tired, bloated and perhaps even pained.  I recently got a reminder of this when traveling downstate.

I was craving a coffee for our drive, but the local coffee shop was out of the way so we went through the drive-thru of a popular fast food chain.  I ordered a black coffee, but my husband was hungry so he ordered some chicken nuggets.  As soon as he was done eating he felt sick and developed a headache that ended up lasting for two days!

My husband and I rarely eat fast food so are bodies are not used to the processing agents they have in them.  His reaction was likely his body rejecting the unrecognized chemicals.  If you normally eat clean, you will feel it when you eat something processed or preserved with chemicals.

 The food you eat counts. Your body needs to know how to break it down. If you can't pronounce it, your body can't either. It knows what to do with an apple...I can't say the same thing for Dimethylpolysiloxane (listed ingredient for chicken nuggets)- used as an anti-foaming agent, this industrial chemical is typically used in caulking and sealants and comes with a list of safety concerns. 

Instead of chicken nuggets try these hand-held chicken tacos.  I promise, you can pronounce all the ingredients.
My Gift to You
This dish is a wonderful weeknight, on the go type of dish. The best part? These chicken tacos are good cold or warm. If you are looking for a quick dinner solution that is also easy, here it lies. When you have extra time in your week, grill the chicken and onion, get the toppings clean, chopped and ready to top a warm tortilla. You can make a whole family dinner or feed one throughout the week. Need to take it with you? Assemble, wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and go.

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Radish, Lime and Cilantro    

-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-1 TBSP ground cumin
-1 garlic clove, chopped
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp black pepper
-1 TBSP oil
-1 Vidalia onion, cut into large slices
-2 to 3 radishes, thinly sliced
-1/3 cup cilantro leaves
-1 lime
-Salsa Verde (click for recipe)
-plain Greek yogurt for garnish (optional)
-4 whole wheat tortillas

In a large bowl, toss the chicken, onion, garlic, oil and seasoning together. Allow to marinade for 30 minutes (at least) for best results.  Grill the chicken and onion on separate sides of your cook top until both are well done and slightly blackened in parts. Allow the chicken to cool for a couple minutes and then chop into medium pieces. Add to your warm tortilla and top with radishes, cilantro, a squirt of lime, salsa verde and Greek yogurt. Serves 2 adults. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Spice Up your Next Meal: Salsa Verde

Salsa verde is the way to do it. This easy to make sauce is a snap to bring together when friends are gathering around the grill or simply for a weeknight addition to taco night. It's less acidic than traditional red salsa, since there are no tomatoes, but packed with vitamins and minerals from the main ingredient, tomatillos. I've added flavor by charring the vegetables before simply pulsing them in a blender. Paired with cilantro and a fresh squeeze of lime juice, this quick and easy salsashould be the star of your next fiesta. Enjoy!

 1 lbs. green tomatillo
 2 jalapenos
 2 banana peppers
 1 TBSP olive oil
 1 tsp. black pepper
  1 garlic clove

 1 lime, juiced
 2 TBSP fresh cilantro, stems removed

Remove the husks from the tomatillo and rinse and scrub the sap from the flesh. Dry well and add to a bowl with the clean peppers, oil and pepper. Heat your grill to 500 degrees or higher and place the oiled veggies directly on the grill. Allow the flesh to blacken and then flip over. The peppers will cook first. When the skin of the peppers looks well done, remove from the grill and place in a brown paper bag. This will allow the skin to steam away from the flesh of the pepper and makes removal a cinch. The tomatillos will take about 15 minutes . You'll know they are ready when blackened on both sides, but still holding their shape. Remove and place in the oiled bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes while you prep the other ingredients. Add everything to the blender and pulse 5 times or until the mixture is consistent, but not homogenous.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Prep for Your Week!

We all know that preparation is the biggest aid to healthy yet easy and convenient eating - however getting all of your foods washed, chopped and put away can take some time. However, doing it all on one day will actually save you time in the kitchen in the long run. Just think, you will have only one set of dishes to wash, versus doing it seven times a week!

Here are the things that really make a difference for me, personally. I'd love to hear what healthy foods you like to prep in advance, too!

The 5 Foods I Like to Prep Every Sunday
Melon - It's so fresh and sweet right now. The refreshing quench of water from the fruit nails both a thirst and sweet craving after lunch.

Pecans - My essential snacking standby. I know not everyone loves nuts, but I find the crunch super satisfying for my hunger. Often, a handful between meals will allow me to never feel overly hungry, which can lead to larger portions come meal time. Other great choices are almonds and walnuts, always go for raw. They are slightly sweet and nutty that way.

Hummus - When I have extra time I make a big batch of hummus. When the week is busy I pick up a container at the store and pair it with cucumber slices. I love the combination of lemony garlic hummus with the cool crisp cucumber.  Hothouse cucumbers are a little more expensive, but they aren't waxed so I don't have to peel them. Perfect for saving time and adding more fiber to my diet.

Boiled Eggs - They are a true time saver and help clean out your fridge. Why? Older eggs are the perfect candidate for boiled eggs. Want to test yours out? Fill abowl with cold water, add your eggs. If they float halfway up, they are perfect! All the way up? Time to toss them and head down to the Farmers Market for a new batch.  Eggs that stay on the bottom are pretty fresh and are great for less than fully cooked applications.

Lentil or Bean Salad - As far as lunch goes, lentil salads have always been my go to. Beans and other legumes have decent protein and fiber, which fills you up and keeps you satisfied. A bowl of hearty lentil salad or soup keeps me going all afternoon.

That's my Sunday prep list now, this season, but it can change as the seasons change. But that's just me - what about you? What's on your essential healthy eating prep list?
Say perhaps you went a little overboard on the boiled eggs and need to use them up before next week's new prep day. Why not add them to a cold salad? They are classics in potato salad, yes, but let's branch out from. This week, I bring you a cold soba noodle (made from buckwheat flour which is gluten free), mixed with a tangy kim-chee (cabbage dish) vinaigrette and fresh veggies.  This pairs extremely well with grilled steak, venison or pork. The best part? It takes minutes to put together and can be made well ahead of time. If you liked my sriracha slaw, you'll love this salad too. 
Kimchee Soba Noodle Salad

8 oz. Soba noodles
1 12  oz. jar napa kimchi
½ cup shelled edamame
2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
2 large eggs, hardboiled and quartered
½ hothouse cucumber, cut into slivers
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 TBSP sesame seeds

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add noodles and edamame and cook for one a half minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Drain Kimchi, reserving liquid; chop kimchi. Combine kimchi, liquid, vinegar, oil, sugar and fish sauce in a large bowl. Mix well to combine. Add noodles and edamame and toss to coat. Season with salt and more vinegar if desired. Serve topped with eggs, cucumber, scallion and sesame seeds.

Serve at room temperature or place in fridge to cool, covered. Serving size is one cup.
Kelly Lake
Administration Director & Healthy Food Enthusiast 
Bay Athletic Club
Like me on Facebook 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Very Berry Salad

When it's hot and humid, you don't want to eat heavy foods, but still need the dose of nutrition your body is craving, right? Summertime salads are a favorite of mine for one reason, berries are completely in season and the cool, sweet burst from these little flavor morsels compliments the heat of the day. 

Berries are typically very healthful little nuggets packing an antioxidant punch. Blackberries in particular shine in the health department. Much like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and Vitamin C, have low sodium and have only 62 calories to a cup.

The dark blue/purple color indicates blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Antioxidants, well-known for lowering the risk of a number of cancers, are a huge bonus, but be aware the berries are best consumed in their natural state to get the full benefits.

PS--Another great tip to save you time in the kitchen? While you are making your dinner salad, put a lunch to-go container next to your large serving bowl and fill it up as you fix dinner. 
My recipe of the week features two health-giving berries that are in season, blackberries and raspberries. I've paired them with sweet, yet nutty pecans, cool cucumbers and spicy chives. Pair this great summer salad with the lean protein of your choice. I used lean venison steak, simply spiced and grilled. Enjoy! 

Very Berry Summer Salad

1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
½ cup toasted pecans
3 TBSP chopped chives
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups of spring greens 

Step One: Chop your romaine lettuce by cutting off the bottom then slicing vertically four times, quartering it. Then chop horizontally. Wash well. 
Step Two: Make dinner salad prep easier by layering your ingredients in a very large and shallow serving bowl. You'll be able to toss the ingredients together so much easier and then serve it into smaller bowls for your family. Add the spring greens to the mix at this point and toss a few times to combine. 
Step Three: Cut your cucumbers into bite sized pieces. Many times you'll see the cucumber cut into discs, but they are little difficult to eat in a salad. 
Here's a better way: peel and cut the cucumber in half, vertically. 
Step Four: Cut the cucumber into fourths, by slicing down the middle of the halves and then place the seed side down on the cutting board. 
Step Five: Finally, cut the cucumber horizontally into bite sized pieces. 
Step Six: Next, chop your chives into small pieces using either a knife and cutting board or kitchen shears work well too! 

Step Seven: Wash your berries well by placing them in a deep bowl with a little splash of white vinegar and cold water. This helps get any dust and dirt left over from the farm out of the gentle flesh of the berries without crushing them. Add them to the top of your pretty salad. 
Step Eight: To finish the salad, toast pecans in a heavy bottomed skillet in the oven. 300 degrees for 10 minutes should do the trick. Don't want to turn the oven on? Raw pecans are not only safe to eat, but very delish on their own. 
Divide the salad up into two bowls with your lean protein of choice and enjoy! This salad goes perfectly with the salad dressing I show you how to make here LIVE on WBKB:
Kelly Lake
Administration Director & Healthy Food Enthusiast 
Bay Athletic Club
Like me on Facebook 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Travel the World One Plate at a Time

So many delicious meals happen when well spiced food is rolled up inside a wrapper. Cultures and countries all around the world have some version. From Eastern Europe's pierogi, to the China's Dim Sum style of dumplings, South of the Border's enchiladas (and flautas and tamales and so many more), France's Crepes, Russia's blinis and Americans have taken them all in with in a sort of culinary reverie. As we get lost in the food, sometimes we forget the origins. Described by some as a melting pot of culture, when it comes to food, Americans truly are such.  What was once distinctly foreign, becomes a common meal in our homes.

And why not? With one bite, you can travel farther than your body could travel in a lifetime. In one day of eating, you could move around the globe, starting in Parisian café, biting delicious and delicate rolled crepes, darting to a Mexican taco stand for a snack, winding down the night with caviar and blinis and finishing with in the delight of trays of steamed dumplings in a traditional Dim Sum restaurant.  Sounds amazing right? I believe to eat of other cultures is to try to understand them better, on a deeper human level. So much of our history stems from the traditional food we cook. It makes the saying, 'you are what you eat,' a little more prolific. Remembering where your food originated  from can only add to the experience.

So whether it's to enrich your personal culture, celebrate the ancestors that helped get you here or to simply enjoy a good meal, take some time and get into the kitchen this week.   

For this week's recipe, I wanted to blend the cultures Asian, Indian and Latin America. I love the idea of a steamed dumpling, covered in a mild curry like sauce and baked. Hence, my recipe of the week is a globe trotter: 

Egg-roll Enchiladas 

 1 package of wonton wrappers
1 lbs. of ground pork, chicken or turkey
1 bunch, scallions, divided white section from the green
3 large carrots, shredded
1 inch section of fresh ginger root 
1 15 oz. can of chicken stock
1 tsp. coriander
2 limes, juiced 
1 cup of shredded Napa cabbage 
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves only, chopped

In a large skillet, add the ground meat and brown quickly. Toss in the cabbage, 1 cup of the shredded carrot, half of the sliced green section of scallion, all the cilantro and coriander. Stir constantly for one minute and turn the mixture out into a large bowl to cool. 

In a blender, add the rest of the shredded carrot, ginger root, chicken stock, white section of the scallion, juice of limes. Blend very briefly on high until the mixture has some body but is combined. 

On a large cutting board, set out your supplies: Wonton wrappers, a small bowl of water and a clean towel. You'll want to wipe the board down after each wrapper is filled and folded. Use this visual tutorial to assemble and finish your egg roll enchiladas. 
 Start with a blank canvas on a clean board. 
Add about 1/4 cup of your mixture. 
Fold one corner over the mixture and wet the edges with water on your fingertips. 
Fold the outside corners on top of your first corner and wet them to seal in the goodness. 
Pour 1 cup of your sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish and assemble the rest of your wraps. 
Cover the wraps with the rest of your sauce the reserved green sections of the scallions. 
Set your oven to 350 degrees and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown. 
Plate on a bed of baby greens and enjoy! 

Serving size is one wrapper per person, unless you are my fiance who liked them so much, he had four :) I'll take that as a compliment!  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Green is the New Black

Spring is around the corner, but until the green onions, peas, fresh herbs and asparagus start shooting through the soil, dinner solutions can be slightly challenging if trying to stay fresh and seasonal. That is why for this month's recipe, I've turned to some shelf stable ingredients like sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts for nutrition and flavor. There are still plenty of vegetables that are available this time of year like spinach and onions which pair beautifully with the savory steak. This recipe also includes an innovative way to create your own vinaigrette, using the same skillet you've cooked the other ingredients in to yield a warm and distinctly seasoned sauce for your winter salad. Enjoy! 
French Onion Steak Salad with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes
-1 lb. lean steak (beef, venison), sliced
-2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
-3 oz. sun-dried tomatoes
-2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
-¼ cup pine nuts
-4 cups baby spinach or mixed micro super greens
-1 large onion
-1 TBSP oil
-Garnish with a handful of whole wheat croutons

½ cup olive oil
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 tsp. ground rosemary
1 tsp. ground black pepper
In a small bowl, toss the sliced steak and Worcestershire sauce together and let marinate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cover sun-dried tomatoes with water and microwave for 3 minutes. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, drain and reserve water. Slice the reconstituted tomatoes into little ribbons.

In a large skillet, add the oil and heat to low. Slice the onion into thin slices and heat, stirring frequently for about 30 minutes or until the color of the onions is light brown. Reserve in a small bowl and turn the skillet up to medium high heat. Toss the steak into the pan to sear quickly, about 3 to 4 minutes before turning and cooking an additional two minutes.  Remove the meat from the pan.

Make the vinaigrette by adding the left over water into the skillet and turn the heat down to medium low. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir constantly to emulsify. Remove from heat and assemble salad.

For each salad, ladle in two tablespoons of the warm dressing and add two cups of spinach, half of the feta, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts. Top with steak and croutons (if using) and toss to combine. Serves two. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Make your Own Mix

Instead of using added fats and sugars in my meals, I love cooking with fresh herbs and dried spices to flavor my dishes. The packets of seasonings that you can find in the grocery store seem very convenient and can certainly add tons of flavor to your dish (especially if you are unfamiliar with what spices go well together), but I avoid them. Why? I don't like to add unnecessary amounts of sodium and additives that are common in the packets. Many companies use flavor additives like MSG, fillers like potato starch or anti-caking chemicals like silicon dioxide. As a clean eating cook, I just don't want to take chances with my family's health since I'm unfamiliar with how these additives affect the body long-term.

Rather than participate in a food science experiments, I have taken to creating my own spice mixes to have on hand, for simplicity and ease in quick weeknight meals. Here is my favorite blend for seasoning my favorite Tex Mex meals like burritos, tacos and the Wake Up Your Palate recipe of the week, Chicken Meat Ball Chili.
Money saving tip: purchase the main ingredients chili powder, paprika, garlic powder and ground coriander at a bulk supply like they have at locally in Alpena at Neiman's Family Market or Gordon Food Service. You'll use them up (especially if you cook many of the Wake Up your Palate recipes) and save yourself money in the end.

Kelly's Tex Mex Seasoning Blend

2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP ground coriander
2 TBSP paprika 
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 TBSP ground oregano
2 tsp. Ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne powder
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Blend well in a small bowl and transfer to one of those old Parmesan cheese containers (if you have) or anything air tight. Stores great at room temperature, but try to keep moisture out of the container.

My fiance, Jody, wanted to call this Chicken Burrito Soup since it has many elements of our favorite weeknight meal, but after seeing the blend come together, we agreed it certainly looks and eats a bit more like a chili. It's great the same night you cook it, but really blends together so well the longer it marinates. Enjoy!

Chicken Meatball Chili

1 ½ lbs. ground chicken
2 TBSP oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
32 oz. unsalted chicken stock
1 can of black beans, drained  and rinsed well (feel free to sub in your favorite bean)
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
½ cup frozen corn kernels
1 TBSP of Kelly's Tex Mex Seasoning
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
1 bag of spinach, chopped
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
Greek yogurt, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll ground chicken into small meatballs, about ½ inch in diameter, so they are bite sized. Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle 1 TBSP of oil over the meatballs. Add to the warm oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot heated over medium heat, add the chopped onions. Stir frequently to avoid burnt edges. After about 5 minutes, add the seasoning to the pot, stir well and heat for about one minute to infuse the flavor of the spices. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, cherry tomatoes and corn. Turn the heat up to bring the mix to a slow boil and cook for about 15 minutes or until the meatballs are finished baking. Add the chicken meatballs, cilantro and spinach to the mix. Stir to combine and wilt the greens. Remove from heat and serve 1 cup per person. Garnish with a squeeze of a lime wedge and a dollop of Greek yogurt if desired.
Kelly Bowlin
Kelly Bowlin
Administration Director & BAC Foodie :) 
Bay Athletic Club
Like me on Facebook