It’s Monday! That means it’s time for a new recipe, one designed to be used for the whole week. Last week I started the Series off with Roasted Garlic. I hope that you were able to enjoy those yummy sweet cloves in all of your dishes.
This week I would like to introduce you to balsamic reduction. You’ve used balsamic vinegar countless times, but did you know that when you cook it down it becomes a rich, thick syrup? It’s a delicious, low-calorie treat with endless possibilities. I like to use mine as a dressing for mixed greens or drizzled over a bowl of hearty grains. It’s also fantastic spooned over frozen yogurt or sliced strawberries.
The recipe is simple and you can keep it in the fridge to use all week. Just be sure to cover with a tight-fitting lid and keep below 40’F.
Today is the launch of my “Make it Monday” series. This will be a regular post on my blog that features a new recipe (almost) every Monday that you can make early in the week and continue to enjoy the rest of the week. Sound good to you? Ok, then let’s get started with the first recipe.
This week’s feature is roasted garlic. I love this stuff. I love it so much, that I try to always have it on hand in my refrigerator. While I certainly enjoy garlic raw or sauteed, when it’s roasted with a little olive oil, it is simply magnificent. Not a fan of garlic? I bet I’ll convert you with this recipe. Raw garlic can be bitter and rather pungent, but roasting caramelizes the garlic, making it sweet, and providing a softer garlic flavor. You can use roasted garlic in so many ways. You can spread it on toasts to make delicious, guilt-free garlic bread or add it to Greek mayo for a sandwich spread. You can toss it into your next batch of hummus or stir into almost any pasta dish.
Why should you include garlic in your next recipe? Besides adding so much flavor, garlic may also protect your heart by helping lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Garlic also contains antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties.
So hit the grocery store on your way home and then get roasting!
A grilled salad recipe that easily serves a crowd.
For the dressing
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
For the grilled vegetables and croutons
1 large whole wheat baguette, sliced in half length-wise
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4 “ slices
2 large assorted bell peppers, seeded, cut into large planks
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the salad
5 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
3/4 cup Spanish olives, chopped
To prepare the dressing: whisk together the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream. Add the chopped parsley, garlic and Manchego.
Pre-heat the grill to medium. Lightly brush the bread halves, red onion slices and bell peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the grill is hot, add the vegetables and grill until tender, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
Place the bread on the grill cut side down and cook until light brown in color and slightly crunchy, about 4-5 minutes. Turn occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop the bread into large bite-sized pieces. Place the chopped bread, onions and peppers into a large bowl.
Toss the bread and vegetables with the dressing, tomatoes and olives. Let stand at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
Add a can of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans or cannellini beans to make this salad a complete meal!
Raining or snowing? No problem, just make the recipe inside using a grill pan. Instead of cutting the bread lengthwise, cut horizontally into 12 pieces, slicing on the bias, brush with olive oil, then grill.
Cooking is all about building flavor. And when you’re cooking healthfully, putting that into practice is even more important. Because by layering flavor, you can turn a boring dish into an amazing one. One simple way to do that is to start your dish with a blend of herbs, spices and peppers known as a sofrito. Sofritos are commonly used in Latin American cooking, and vary greatly depending on culture. That’s why there are so many unique variations for one seemingly simple recipe. The version I have created here is based loosely on the Puerto Rican interpretation. Puerto Rican sofritos don’t typically call for tomatoes, so you’ll notice there aren’t any in my recipe. I also roasted my vegetables first, which adds a level of sweetness to the sofrito. Cubanelles are one of the main ingredients, but if you can’t find them at your grocery, you can substitute another sweet bell pepper.
What do you do with the sofrito once you make it? There are several fun ways to incorporate sofrito into the dishes you are already making. If rice is on the menu, saute up the sofrito in a little olive oil first, then add the rice and water, cover and cook until done. Or if you are making a soup, sweat some onion, celery and carrot in a pot in a little olive oil, add the sofrito and cook until fragrant, then add your broth and remaining ingredients. What else can you do? Stir sofrito into sauteed vegetable dishes, beans or stews. Or use it as a spread for sandwiches or tortas. The options are truly endless. So enjoy this amazingly healthy recipe to add bold flavors to your next meal.
A simply healthy and delicious recipe that can add flavor to anything from rice dishes to beans.
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and cut into 2-inch planks
3 cubanelle peppers, seeded, stemmed and cut into 2-inch planks
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head garlic, loose, papery leaves removed
1 cup cilantro, washed
Preheat the oven to 425’F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
Toss the red bell pepper, cubanelle peppers and onion with half of the olive oil in a large bowl. Spread out in an even layer onto the baking sheet.
Slice off the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves. Place the garlic with the cut end up on a piece of foil then drizzle with the remaining oil. Fold up the sides of the foil and loosely close at the top. Place on the sheet pan or directly on the rack in the oven.
Roast vegetables for 30minutes or until tender, stirring the pepper and onion mixture halfway through cooking time.
Allow the vegetables to cool slightly. Transfer the peppers and onions to a blender. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the blender and add the cilantro. Blend for about 1 minute, processing until slightly smooth, preserving some of the texture.
If you head down the condiment aisle in the grocery store you’ll notice that the salad dressing industry is booming. It used to be that there were just a handful of varieties and more often than not, you were reaching for the Ranch or Italian version from the brand of your choice. Now it can take 5 minutes to just narrow down the choices. While I appreciate the convenience of pre-made salad dressing, I still choose to make my own. Why? Well, because like most of the other food I make, I know what’s going in it. It’s also almost always cheaper and it doesn’t even take that long to make. One of my favorites it’s a creamy, spicy chipotle dressing. Not only is it great on salad, but it’s also delicious tossed with cold pasta and veggies for a Southwest pasta salad. You can also use it as a spread for sandwiches or wraps. It can be a fun swap for sour cream in tacos or other Mexican dishes. It’s worth a shot and who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself skipping that condiment aisle at your next trip to the grocery!
Looking for a new way to cook fish? What if I told you it was easy and almost fool-proof? You wouldn’t believe me, right? But, it’s true. The trick is to cook fish “en papillote” or in little parchment packets. This method cooks the fish using steam (produced by whatever liquid you introduce into the packet) which keeps fish moist and perfectly flaky. Another bonus to this type of cooking? You can infuse so much flavor! This means you can take almost any mild fish, add herbs, wine, vinegar, and other aromatics and turn it into a delicious masterpiece! Check out the recipe below I created for Food and Nutrition magazine. And if you want to learn more about parchment, read more about it here!
Perfectly steamed barramundi fillets topped with lemon juice and freshly chopped herbs and almonds
¼ cup chopped sliced toasted almonds
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 small lemons)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
6 sprigs, parsley, cleaned
6 barramundi fillets, 5 oz each, skinned and boned
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
¾ cup dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 400’F.
Cut parchment paper into sheets, approximately 12×16-inches, then fold each piece in half lengthwise. Trace a half of a heart onto each piece, using the fold as the center of the heart. Cut along the traced edges. (You did it correctly if you open the folded paper and see a full heart)
To make the Gremolata: Combine the almonds, chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Stir until well incorporated.
Toss the onion and peppers together in a bowl. On one half of each parchment heart place approximately a ½ cup of the vegetable mixture and a sprig of parsley. Top with a piece of fish and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the fish with the gremolata, evenly distributing among the packets. To seal the packets, begin by folding over the heart. Starting with the pointed end, begin making small folds up the open sides of the parchment. Before fully sealing, fill each packet with 2 tablespoons of white wine. Fold closed.
Place packets on a sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish reaches an internal temperature of 145’F for 15 seconds.
The dish can then be served either within the packets or portioned onto plates. If desired, serve with lemon slices or a splash of lemon juice prior to serving.
Tired of rice? Why not try quinoa? This seed is a true gem in the nutritional department and makes a great replacement for most recipes that call for rice. What makes it so amazing? Besides being one of the few plant sources that is considered a complete protein (a real plus for Vegetarians!), it’s loaded with fiber, iron and magnesium. Another reason to love it? It’s easy to prepare and only takes about 15-20 minutes to cook. Need some recipe inspiration? The recipe below is simple and versatile. It’s delicious as a side dish for any Mexican meal or can be used as a filler for tacos or burritos or even as a topping for a taco salad. Looking to get more mileage out of this recipe? Amp up the flavor by adding more cilantro along with some chopped green onions. Want a spicier version? Try dicing up a jalapeno and cook it along with the cumin. Need a more satisfying dish? Stir in black beans, grape tomatoes and corn to make a hearty salad…really the options are endless!
Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the quinoa and toast for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cumin and continue to stir, cooking an additional minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is cooked, about 15-20 minutes.
Drain any excess water. Add the lime juice and zest, cilantro, salt and pepper and toss until well combined.
It was starting to bother me. Those 3 bananas sitting on my counter were begging me to do something with them. I could almost hear them say, “Sara, listen, if you wait too much longer, we are going to get so brown and rotten that you’ll have to make our lives end by the way of the trash can. Wouldn’t you rather turn us into something more wonderful, something that says we were destined for more than just compost?” Geez, guilt-trip me why don’t you bananas!? Ok, ok, I hear you! So, I turned to my belly and asked it what it wanted. And without hesitation my belly said, “muffins!!!!” Good call belly. So I was off to discover a recipe to make what I wanted. But after some searching I realized that what I wanted wasn’t out there. Darn! Now what? The only answer seemed to be that I was going to have to make my own recipe. Because I just can’t bring myself to “snack” on anything that could potentially have zero health benefits, I made a recipe that included whole wheat flour, lots of walnuts and even chia seeds. It’s a satisfying snack and as it turns out, is not only a hit with adults, but kids too. And now I share it with you! Happy Baking!!!
Preheat the oven to 350’F and line mini-muffin pan(s) with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
In a measuring cup combine the chia seeds and the water. Stir vigorously then let sit for 10-15 minutes, until a gel forms.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the chia mixture, banana and eggs.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Gently stir dry mixture into the wet mixture until just moistened, then gently fold in the walnuts.
Using a small cookie scooper or a tablespoon, fill cups with batter, about two-thirds full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool, remove from pan and repeat with remaining batter.
1) Purchased the delicious (yet VERY expensive) fresh guacamole from your local grocery store?
or 2) Purchased the not-so-delicious (yet still kind of expensive) prepackaged, weirdly-colored guacamole from your local grocery store?
If you answered “yes” to either of the above questions, then I have an idea that will save your wallet and your tastebuds!!!
My solution? Glad you asked! Make your own. Yup, I said it, make your own. Believe it or not, it’s much cheaper (I just bought an avocado for $1.00) and even more delicious because you control what goes in it. I know, you are worried about picking the right one…am I correct? Well, it’s easy…really.
Most of the avocados in our grocery stores are Hass avocados from California. Because they don’t ripen on the tree, they may arrive to your grocery store rock hard. Depending on when you’re going to use the avocado, this may not be a bad thing. For instance, you can absolutely buy the rock-solid avocado if you aren’t planning on using it within the next few days. Just leave it on the counter and allow it to ripen at room temperature. Once it’s ripe, just put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it (within a day or so would be good). If you want to use your avocado right away, be sure to pick one that gives slightly to light pressure. If it’s bruised or dented or super-soft to the touch, it’s not any good. If you aren’t confidant, just ask the person working in the produce section. Trust me, they would rather be helping you than stacking bananas on the shelf.
Now that you have your perfect avocado, you will need to pick up a few other ingredients for this amazing guacamole that you’re going to make. Those other ingredients include a yellow onion, fresh cilantro, a lime, garlic and a jalepeno. Ok, now you are ready!
It’s easy to buy granola, but why on earth would you when the label lists over 20 ingredients, half of which you can’t pronounce? No thank you. Sure, some of those 5-syllable words are harmless, but it just doesn’t taste the same as homemade granola. I mean, what’s better, ripping open a box and pulling apart a plastic bag or opening your grandmother’s old mason jar, with the scent of cinnamon tickling your nose, and scooping out your own version? Or how about the satisfaction of having coworkers gawk in amazement after watching you pour your homemade wonder into your yogurt at lunch! You will be the talk of the lunch table for sure…in a good way! Have I convinced you yet? The cool thing is that granola is super easy, fast and customizable! Woo hoo! So, here’s a base recipe, but add things and change it up how you like. Experiment and report back!