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Free Dinner!

14 Mar

This isn’t a nice recipe or anything, but I was just super impressed with my own economical dinner skills tonight and thought I’d share.

I got home late from a meeting, the BF is still out, and I was starving. I was doing my typical stand-in-front-of-the-open-fridge-and-hope-something-tasty-magically-appears. And in my head, I heard my dad yelling, “Shut the door!” (Everyone’s dad yells that, right?) But then something magically did appear: an idea. (Oh so cheesy, I know. Apologies.)

From the top shelf: Leftover bhindi (okra) masala from going out to Tandoor Indian last night (Yum!). The BF already ate the chicken tikka masala, so there wasn’t enough left for a meal.

From the way back of the middle shelf: Leftover brown rice from last weekend’s salmon lunch.

From the bottom shelf: Leftover baked chicken a friend sent home with the BF when I couldn’t make it to dinner this weekend.

From the drawer: Leftover asparagus spears, also from the salmon lunch.

Each on its own, certainly not enough for a meal. But together – perfect! I just finished, and it was delicious, easy, and free. Yay for no waste!

Leftovers Dinner

And for dessert… coconut chocolate chip oatmeal cookies leftover from a visit to a friend this weekend!

C is for Cookie!

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Herbed Salmon with Asparagus and Brown Rice

11 Mar

We just made a super delicious Sunday lunch. Pretty fancy, but it wasn’t much work. This would make a great meal for dinner guests.

We got a frozen salmon fillet from Trader Joe’s and thawed it out. The BF laid it on a baking sheet while I put together the herb blend. I was going for a similar idea as the Herb-Crusted Pork I posted a while back. In a small bowl, I mixed up some toasted chopped almondsdried rosemarydried thyme, and some sage. (Sorry I don’t have exact measurements here, I was just making it up as I went.) I added enough olive oil to give it a somewhat paste-like consistency. Then I spread it evenly on top of the fish. If it looks like it’s not enough, just make a little more.

Fish Close-Up

I set the whole pan in the fridge until we were ready for lunch. Then the BF popped it in the oven, and we baked it on 400 F for about 12-15 minutes. He covered it in foil while it baked so it would stay moist. If you like it flakier, you may opt to go without the foil, or to take the foil off in the last few minutes.

He also prepared a tray of asparagus seasoned with a lemon and garlic spice blend, and baked it right alongside the fish. That’s what made it so easy – they baked at the same temperature for the same amount of time, so only one thing to keep track of.

Asparagus

We served our fish and asparagus with brown rice. A delicious and healthy meal. Lunch is served!

Lunch

Blueberry Burgers with Nectarine Salsa

3 Jul

Sounds weird, huh? I thought so. And honestly, they’ve got blueberries in them — of course they taste a little weird. But weird isn’t always bad. Weird can be good. Like keytars. And blueberry burgers. These don’t taste like normal burgers, but they do taste good. I prepared them two ways, so you can take your pick. There’s 3 different recipes in this 1 post — get excited.

 

Blueberry Quinoa Burgers

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually a seed, but it’s used more like a grain. It’s also super duper healthy, so hipsters love the stuff. It’s a complete protein source, which is unusual for plants, so it’s a great staple in a vegetarian diet. It’s also high in fiber and amino acids. You cook is basically like rice, and it reminds me a lot of couscous.

I thought a veggie burger would be great with blueberries, and I decided to use quinoa to give it that extra protein that is sometimes lacking in vegetarian meals. I started the burgers by cooking the quinoa: I boiled 3/4 cup water and then added 1/2 cup quinoa. I cooked it until the water was absorbed, about 12-14 minutes, and set it aside.

Quinoa

I set up my food processor and added in the burger ingredients: 1 can great northern beans (drained and rinsed), 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs (if you use regular breadcrumbs instead, use about 1/4 cup), 1 egg, 1/3 cup fresh blueberries, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp oyster sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic, a dash of salt, and a  dash of pepper

Quinoa Burger IngredientsI pulsed everything until it was combined but still a little chunky. I divided the mixture into four and formed four patties. They were a little soft and mushy, so I put them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and refrigerated them until I was ready to cook them. (At this point, I prepared the other burgers, but I’ll continue with this recipe for the sake of clarity.)

Quinoa Patty

In a large skillet, I heated some olive oil over medium heat. I cooked the blueberry quinoa burgers until browned, about 8-10 minutes per side.

You can dress up your burger however you like, but I added spinach and mozarella to my burger and served it with a side of chips.

Blueberry Quinoa Burger

 

Blueberry Burger

I wiped out my food processor and started over with the meat burgers. I put two slices of bread in the food processor, processed it to crumbs, and set that aside.

Next, I put the ingredients in the food processor: 1/3 cup fresh blueberries, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard,  1 tsp oyster sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic, a dash of salt, and a dash of pepper. I processed it until it was pureed and then dumped it all into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. I added 1/2 pound ground meat (I used turkey, but you could use beef or whatever you prefer) and mixed everything together. I didn’t have a potato masher, so I used the mixing attachment from my hand mixer. 

Turkey Burger IngredientsOnce it was all mixed up, I divided it into 4 portions and shaped them into patties. I sent the BF out to the electric grill with them, and he grilled them over medium-low heat until done, about 7-8 minutes per side.

Meat Patty

Again, you can dress up your burgers however you like. I added a scoop of nectarine salsa on this one and served it with tortilla chips and more salsa.

Blueberry Burger with Nectarine Salsa

 

Nectarine Salsa

Honestly, this may have been the best part of the entire meal. I thought it was so good. If peaches are in better shape when you go to the store, by all means, use them instead. I went with nectarines because they were a little more ripe.

First I chopped everything up — not too finely since they go for a stint in the food processor, but just enough for the processor to find them manageable. I used 2 ripe (but firm) nectarines with the skin on, 1 shallot,  and 1 jalapeno (I threw out the stems, seeds, and ribs, which are the spiciest parts).

After I got those chopped up and put in the food processor, I added in the juice of half a lemon, 1 T grated ginger, 1 tsp sugar, a dash of salt, and a dash of pepper. I pulsed it just a couple times to get most of the pieces small, but not liquified. It’s salsa, not soup.

Nectarine Salsa

This was great on a blueberry burger — it really made the whole thing nice and sweet an fruity. It was also good with tortilla chips, both that night and the next day — it didn’t last any longer than that.

 

Notes:

  • If you make the salsa, I suggest doing that first so that the flavors have time to sit and meld while you make the rest of the meal.
  • Feel free to flavor your burgers however you like. You can always substitute other flavors and sauces to get the right burger consistency with a different flavor.
  • These would be so fun to serve with a toppings bar that guests can use to dress their burger themselves. Maybe a red, white, and blue summer cookout?
  • Both of these burgers made great leftovers. The next day, I had the turkey burger with more nectarine salsa, and the day after that, I had the quinoa burger with pita and Greek yogurt.

Filet Mignon with Port-Strawberry Reduction

29 Jun

Alright, so I made this a while back, got lazy about posting it, lost the pictures and thought I’d just wait to post till I made it again, eventually decided I should just post it since strawberries are nearly out of season, and then couldn’t find the recipe. Obviously I simply do not have it all together for strawberries. But I’ll tell you this recipe the best I can remember, and if I ever get around to making it again, I’ll post the pictures and we’ll pretend this never happened.

[UPDATE: I found the pictures! They were on my digital camera. Obvious, right?]

I do remember that the first time I made this, my big mistake was that the reduction took wayyy longer than I thought it would, and the steaks were finished for quite some time before the reduction was presentable. Because a sauce can just sit in the stove and simmer for a while, I recommend going ahead and making the reduction in advance and grilling the steaks when it looks about ready.

Strawberries!

Sliced Strawberries!

In a sauce pot, I heated 1 1/2 cups port wine over medium-low heat. If you’re not picky, you could substitute any red wine, really, preferably on the sweeter side. I added in 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries (cut to the size you prefer — I like them small), 1 diced shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. I let this cook down till it was thick like a sauce rather than a runny liquid. It took about half an hour over medium-low heat.

Simmering Strawberries! Sounds like my new curse word.

When it looked about done, I seasoned two small filet mignon steaks (you can use whatever cut you prefer) with salt and pepper and then sent the BF out to the grill to cook them to about medium-rare. When they were finished, we served the steaks with a spoonful of the port-strawberry reduction on top and accompanied with rice pilaf. Very tasty, plus, it gave the rice some flavor as well. The BF was very happily surprised that I served red meat, and I was happy with the fruit reduction served with it!

Filet Mignon with Port Strawberry Reduction

I acknowledge that it looks a little gross like blood. But it’s really tasty, I promise. And I thought even this was a bit watery, but I was hungry and impatient. Simmer it for a long time and it will thicken even more.

We also made this delicious salad with spinach, carrots, strawberries, walnuts, and goat cheese:

Spinach & Strawberry Salad

Bon apetit!

Spinach and Salmon Salad

24 Apr

On Friday, the BF and I had the day off, and we took a little time to try to throw together a nice lunch. We wanted something light and healthy because we were anticipating a weekend’s worth of delicious, fatty food, what with Betsy Bundt‘s wedding on Saturday (don’t fret… I’ll have more cupcake and decorating gossip on that later) and Sunday supper with the family. So we hopped on our bikes and rode to Trader Joe’s to pick up some veggies.

Upon our return, the BF fired up the George Foreman and seasoned the salmon with a dusting of chili powder while I assembled the salad. Actually, the truth is, he pretty much did all of it while I moped around the kitchen in a post-exercise, hunger-induced daze. I did, however, manage to make us each a fruit and yogurt parfait for dessert, and then consume every last bit of mine while he made lunch.

In our salad, we had a bed of organic spinach (a seasonal ingredient available in North Carolina March through December!), carrots, walnuts, goat cheese, and croutons. I found that if you scrape the goat cheese with a fork instead of try to cut it with a knife, then nice little crumbs will fall evenly all over the salad, instead of clumping together.

After the BF finished mastering the electric grill (he suggests medium-low heat, about 4-5 minutes on each side), we added a salmon fillet right on top. Carrots + salmon… weird!? But hey, there are no rules in this kitchen. I drizzled mine with some Italian dressing and the BF chose a light cucumber ranch dressing. It was super delicioso!

"Parfaits got layers! Everybody loves parfaits!" Too old? Too lame? Yes.

As I said, for dessert we had a yogurt and fruit parfait, though I had already eaten mine by this point. I mixed 1 part nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt and 1 part store-bought cream cheese fruit dip (to sweeten it a bit — this is dessert, after all) in a small bowl. I filled the bottom of these cute little glasses with grapes, then a spoonful of my yogurt mixture, then blueberries, then yogurt, then mandarin oranges. A small dollop of yogurt on top made it camera-ready.

Healthy Lunch!

How Sue Sees It:

  • I know this recipe is a bit of a scam, since most salad recipes are lame. I mean, does anyone really need a recipe to make a salad? Put vegetables on a plate and top it with salmon. There, you’re done.
  • If you don’t want to buy the fruit dip, you can easily mix your own — my mom, Susie Senior, makes a great one with one part marshmallow creme/fluff and one part strawberry cream cheese. So your overall mixture would be one part marshmallow fluff, one part cream cheese (choose your flavor), and two parts yogurt.

Pork Chops with Mushroom Sauce

7 Mar

I have no idea why I’m posting so much pork on this blog. I really don’t eat much pork at all, and actually, I’ve been trying to cut down my overall meat consumption lately. Maybe that’s why these end up looking good enough to take pictures of. My favorite part of this dish is the mushroom sauce, so feel free to search for things other than pork to smother. This recipe originally came from Rachael Ray, who just loves to smother fat with fat, so it’s pretty easy, but no claims here about being healthy.

I preheated a large skillet with some extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. I added a dash of salt and pepper to each side of the pork chop and then added it to the pan. I cooked it for about 6-7 minutes, then flipped it to the other side and cooked it for another 6-7 minutes. I removed the pork chop to a temporary plate and tented some foil over it to keep the heat in. Back to the skillet: I turned the skillet down to medium-low and added 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/2 pound sliced white mushrooms, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. I let that saute for 3 or 4 minutes and then added a dash of salt and pepper. I also added about 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and then cooked for about a minute longer. Then I whisked in 1/3 cup dry white wine, 1 cup chicken broth, and 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard. I let it simmer until most of the liquid was absorbed and it had a thick, creamy texture. I served it with a side of baked sweet potato and steamed green beans. As Rachael says, “Yum-o!”

How Sue Sees It:
– Seriously, this mushroom sauce is amazing. And it gives me something to do with all the leftover mushrooms I end up having after I buy some for salad.
– Be flexible. Don’t have mustard? Leave it out. I doubt you’ll notice.

Coconut Curry Chicken

29 Jan

Woo! Another dinner meal! Not baking, true, but a really beautiful dish that’s not too spicy and easy enough for a weeknight. This recipe, which I adapted from a recipe on allrecipes.com, served 2 — me and the BF. We generally don’t eat very much, so feel free to increase the ingredients here if you’re an average-to-big eater.

I started off by dicing up a couple chicken breasts and setting them aside. In a medium bowl, I mixed together 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1 teaspoon curry powder. Basically, just add in whatever you have in your spice rack. If you’re missing one or two of these things, don’t worry, just go with what you have. I also added in a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. I threw the chicken into the spice bowl and tossed it around until all the pieces were well-coated.

I heated about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and then browned the chicken. Once it was brown, but not fully cooked, I moved the pieces to the outside of the pan and added in 1/2 sliced onion, 1/4 sliced green bell pepper, 1/4 sliced yellow bell pepper, 1/4 sliced red bell pepper and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. (The onions and peppers were julienne cut. They were frozen from the leftovers of another dinner. It is not necessary to have different colored bell peppers — they all taste the same. So unless you have leftovers or plan on saving the leftovers from this recipe, just pick one bell pepper and go with it.) I cooked those till the onions became almost clear. Then I dumped in 1 can of diced tomatoes — you can choose whatever variety you like, but I usually get the ones that already have flavors roasted into them, like the one with basil, garlic, and oregano. I stirred everything up, turned the heat down to a medium-low simmer, and cooked everything for another 6-8 minutes. Then I stirred in 1/2 (8 oz) can of coconut milk. Another minute to heat it through, and I was ready to serve!

Cookin' Curry
I served it up on top of bowls of jasmine rice and served naan on the side. (If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s where you live, get your frozen garlic naan from there. It’s easy, cheap, and delicious. I guess if you’re crazy, you could find a recipe online and make it yourself.)

Dinner Is Served

How Sue Sees It:
– I personally thought this was a little bland, but super-flavorful foods tend to be my favorite, like Indian curries, so I think I’m just picky. The BF liked this pretty well.
– You can use regular or light coconut milk, whichever you prefer. Just be sure to shake it up before you open the can.
– Next time I will probably experiment with more healthful ingredients, like chickpeas, eggplant, cauliflower, green beans, etc.