Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sausage-Spinach Quinoa Bowl

I admit that I’m late to the quinoa party. Quinoa recipes are everywhere now and I’d been so curious about this superfood for a while but had never tried it. My grocery store doesn’t carry it so I finally went to another grocery store slightly farther away that always seems to carry whatever it is that my grocery store doesn’t. When the check-out girl saw my bag of quinoa, she asked me if it was good, saying her mom wanted to try it for weight loss. I came home and made a batch just to keep on hand to eat as a side in place of my usual brown rice. Even though brown rice is good for your diet, quinoa is better because it’s a complete protein (meaning it has all of the essential amino acids we need). People say it has a nutty taste but I think it tastes more like corn which isn’t at all what I expected.

I wanted to try a recipe using quinoa in place of rice and since the spinach in my produce drawer was close to going bad and I needed to cook the leftover turkey sausage from the gratin I made earlier this week, the perfect dish to make was Sausage-Spinach Quinoa Bowl. With hot turkey sausage, spinach, and quinoa, this dish came together very quickly since I’d already cooked the quinoa. (Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Bring one part quinoa, two parts water to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.) The spiciness of the turkey sausage pairs terrifically with the bitter spinach and the red pepper flake gives it the slightest hint of kick. The quinoa made for a great substitute for the rice which is exactly what I was hoping it would do. I look forward to making this superfood more in the future!

The ingredients:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and cook sausage and red pepper over medium-high heat until browned and crumbled.  

Add in garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 

Add in spinach and cook 30 seconds or until spinach begins to wilt. 

Stir in prepared rice or quinoa; cook 1 minute or until heated.

Additions:  None

Omissions: 

  • Parmesan cheese

Substitutions:

  • Quinoa

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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Piña Colada Smoothie

When I was in Clearwater, Florida two weeks ago, I went to the beach one day with my friend Lori while my other two friends went golfing.  The beach had a little tiki bar which we ponied up to while we contemplated lunch. After seeing the bartender hand a piña colada to the guy next to us, sinfully rimmed in honey and shredded coconut, we decided to forget our diets and forgo lunch for one of those decadent drinks. As we slowly enjoyed the high-caloried rum cocktail and licked the honey off our fingers, we talked about how a low-caloried Piña Colada Smoothie could easily be made at home, even as a cocktail with a shot of rum. With today being Lori’s birthday, it seemed only fitting that I post this in honor of her and our memories of the tiki bar that sunny day.

I’m weird about my smoothies and prefer them made with frozen fruit instead of ice. Frozen fruit tends to blend easier whereas with ice, I can never get it as smooth as I like.  I already had frozen pineapple in my freezer and also had leftover coconut milk from the mahi mahi dish I made last week so all I had to add was a banana.  The coconut milk adds the slightest coconut flavor without adding sweetness but if you like more coconut, consider adding in a little shredded coconut (but keep in mind, it will add more calories).  A shot of white or coconut rum will make this a low-fat piña colada that you don’t have to feel guilty about.

Piña Colada Smoothie (makes 1 smoothie):

  • 1/2 cup frozen chunk pineapple
  • 1/2 small banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry. To get even more decadent, rim your glass with honey and dip in shredded coconut for a fun presentation (like they did at the tiki hut – it was worth the sticky fingers!).

The ingredients:

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender.

Garnish with a pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry (or honey and shredded coconut).

Source: Me! 🙂

Turkey Sausage, Mushroom, and Potato Gratin

We’ve been so lucky in the Philadelphia area lately because the weather has been nice and warm, averaging in the 70s. But this past weekend, the temperate dropped to the 50s, the skies turned gray and down came the rain. Despite the fact that it brought a rainbow on Saturday afternoon and blue skies had returned by Sunday afternoon, it sent me right back into hybernation mode and all I wanted was comfort food. I initially thought that this recipe for Turkey Sausage, Mushroom, and Potato Gratin would be good for Easter but in my comfort food rage, I couldn’t stop myself from making it a little bit early.

I have to tell you that I looooooove turkey sausage. Pretty much any recipe I’ve made for this blog with turkey sausage has gotten my highest rating. I loved sausage as a kid, especially when smothered in maple syrup, and I regularly snacked on veggie sausage links when I was a vegetarian (and still do!). So, it shouldn’t surprise you when I tell you – I. Love. This. Dish! In fact, this is probably one of my favorite dishes I’ve made recently. Filled with creamy potatoes, spicy sausage, earthy mushrooms and topped with Swiss cheese and fresh thyme, this is a comforting dish that would be great for either brunch or dinner. I hunkered down with a bowl of this on Sunday afternoon while I watched The Shining for the 600th time. Comforting indeed!

The ingredients:

Heat sausage in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté for 5 minutes or until browned, breaking up the sausage into crumbles. Remove the sausage from pan and wipe the pan with paper towels.

Melt the butter in the pan and add onion, sautéing for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 6 minutes. Add the potatoes and salt and sauté for 5 minutes or until browned.

Stir in the cooked sausage and broth and remove from heat.

Spoon the mixture into a baking dish coated with cooking spray and top with cheese. Cover and bake in a 400°F for 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with thyme before serving.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • White mushrooms

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

I know, I know, you can’t believe it.  I actually made an entree that isn’t chicken!  It took me a loooooooong time to start eating fish again despite the fact that I used to go fishing with my dad.  We ate fresh fish quite often, not to mention that mashed up fish sticks smothered in lemon-butter was one of my favorite meals.  Like, ever!  And although I’m sure I could probably scarf down a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish if I really wanted to, generally I can’t stand fishy-fish.  I’ve had a couple of mahi recipes tucked away that I haven’t had the nerve to make but after eating mahi mahi two (maybe three?) times in Florida over the weekend, I figured it was time to step up and get over my fear of cooking fish. 

This Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa seemed simple enough and luckily, I had all of the ingredients for the salsa already.  The fish is briefly soaked in a mixture of coconut milk and lime juice before being cooked in a grill pan (although I used a regular pan).  The salsa is filled with flavors of mango, cucumber, red pepper, ginger and jalapeño (the recipe calls for serrano) which taste super-yummy with the mahi mahi.  I’m no longer afraid to make fish at home anymore so this was a big step for me! 

The ingredients:

Combine coconut milk and lime juice in a shallow dish and add the fish.  Turn a few times to coat and let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, chop the mango, red pepper, cucumber, cilantro, ginger, cilantro and jalapeño (and onion, if using) and place in bowl with remaining coconut milk and lime juice.

Remove fish from the marinade and season with salt and pepper.  Place in a grill pan heated over medium-high heat.  Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until fully cooked (mine took an extra 2 or 3 minutes).

Serve with mango salsa.

Additions:  None

Omissions: 

  • Red onion

Substitutions:

  • Jalapeno pepper

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Hawaiian Chicken

Is everyone as happy as me that it’s spring? I was in Florida on vacation this past weekend and even though I took a few days off from my diet, I think I must have eaten pineapple nearly everyday. There is something about spring that makes me want to eat tons of fresh fruits and veggies as well as eat better! (Maybe it’s the impending bathing suit season?) When I came home, I went to the grocery store and nearly went crazy with all of the produce on sale for only $1! Mangos, nectarines, carrots, peppers, avocado, broccoli! It got me in the mood to stay in a “tropical” state of mind with my eating so I made Hawaiian Chicken and ate it with a homemade fruit salad of mangos, nectarines, cilantro and lime juice. Yum! The glaze for this chicken is super easy – soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger, and pineapple juice. The chicken marinates in the refrigerator for a few hours and is grilled. I’m sure this would be a million times better on an outdoor grill but I’m not complaining with how mine turned out. This especially tasted great with mango. I think I mmm-ed with every bite. This delicious chicken dish puts me right in the mood for springtime!

The ingredients:

Combine the ketchup, soy sauce, pineapple juice, garlic and ginger in a small bowl.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade and pour remaining marinade in a zip-top plastic bag. Add the chicken and chill for 4 hours.

Place chicken on a grill or grill pan coated with non-stick spray. Discard marinade. Using reserved marinade to baste the chicken as it cooks over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 minutes on each side or until completely cooked through.

Serve with fresh fruit and brown rice.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle

Happy Spring everyone! As I mentioned last week, I don’t often eat potatoes but I’ve decided I have to make a better effort to include sweet potatoes in my diet. I never ate them as a kid which may be why I don’t eat them as an adult but they are a great source of Vitamin A so why not eat one from time to time? I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the sweetness of these guys – much to the shock and dismay of my ever-present sweet tooth – so if they are prepared in a savory way, I’m ready to try it out. Other than my one attempt at making sweet potato fries a few years ago, I didn’t know the first thing about preparing these orange gems. Since I’m obsessed with the smokiness of chipotles in adobo sauce, these Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle seemed like a perfect way to give sweet potatoes a new shot. I have to tell you – I inhaled this. The contrast of the smoky with the sweet really knocked my socks off and the slight bite of the green onions really took this over the edge. I’m officially obsessed. You win, sweet potatoes. I concede!

The ingredients:

Pierce the potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done. Allow potatoes to cool slightly.

Cut potatoes in half and carefully scoop out the potato pulp. Put into a food processor with butter, chiles, adobo and salt. Add in the white part of the scallions and process briefly.

Spoon potato mixture into the shells and bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until hot. Top with thinly sliced scallions.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Colcannon

What in the world is Colcannon, you ask?  It’s really nothing more than mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage, scallions, butter and cream and is usually served with ham.   Irish food isn’t traditionally known for being “light fare” so in trying to lighten this up, I used kale, light butter, and skim milk.  I don’t often make potatoes at home, not even baked potatoes.  In fact, I think I usually only eat potatoes at Thanksgiving.  I never considered adding in a leafy green with potatoes but I like the idea of it!  Kale works perfectly because it is hearty and can stand up to the heat of the potatoes without disappearing.  It also provides a complementary texture to the potatoes and makes the dish visually interesting.

By the time you read this, I will either be laying on a Florida beach, at a preseason baseball game, or somewhere watching NCAA basketball.  On St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sure I’ll be knee deep in Guiness celebrating life with my friends.  Since I’m taking a few days off, I won’t be able to post anything again until next Tuesday so I hope you have a happy, fun and safe St. Patty’s Day!  Sláinte!

Also check out: Irish Cream Brownies

The ingredients:

Cook the potatoes in a medium pot covered in cold water until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain in a colander.

In the same pot, add in the butter and allow to melt. 

Add in the kale and allow to wilt.  Toss in the green onions.

Pour in the milk and mix well.

Add in the potatoes and mix, using a potato masher to mash the potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper and serve warm with additional butter if you like.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Light butter
  • Skim milk

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  SimplyRecipes.com

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