Tag Archives: peppers

Grilled Corn, Poblano, and Black Bean Salad

I’ve been noticing how few vegetables have been making their way into my kitchen lately so when I went to the store early on Saturday morning, I spent a lot of time in the produce section, picking up zucchini, squash, peppers, oranges, corn, avocado, and tomato amongst others. I’m trying to make a deal with myself that I won’t eat anything unless it has a fruit or veggie in it or with it. Not a bad way to live, I assume. This means that if I splurge on an egg sandwich in the morning, I have to be prepared to bring in a baggie of spinach to put on it or at least pick up a piece of fruit to eat with it. It doesn’t help that I can’t stop watching the Olympics and seeing all of these physically fit athletes are really sending me into a self-loathing spiral. First up is Grilled Corn, Poblano, and Black Bean Salad which is perfect on a summer day.

Fresh Jersey corn, red pepper, poblano pepper, avocado and scallions are all grilled until brown and soft before being tossed with cilantro and black beans. A light coating of freshly squeezed lime juice, olive oil, ground cumin, salt and pepper, round out this light summer salad which truly tastes like summer in a bowl. Don’t have a grill or a grill pan? Just use your broiler instead (a great way to make this recipe year-round). The red peppers and corn are perfectly sweet while the grilled poblano (my latest obsession) gives a subtle kick of heat. The avocado, true to form, provides a slightly creamy element and the ground cumin adds a hint of smoky flavor. I can’t think of another word to describe this vibrant salad other than lovely. Eat this plain or with your favorite grilled burger for a true summertime moment.

The ingredients:

Place green onions, avocado, bell pepper, and poblano on a grill rack coated with cooking spray and preheated on high heat. Grill onions and avocado 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Grill bell pepper 6 minutes on each side or until blackened and peel (put peppers in a plastic storage bag for a few minutes to loosen skin, in necessary). Grill poblano 9 minutes on each side or until blackened and peel.

Brush corn with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and grill corn 12 minutes or until beginning to brown on all sides, turning occasionally.

Cut kernels from ears of corn and place in a large bowl.

Chop onion, bell pepper, and poblano and add to the bowl with corn.

Add remaining olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, ground cumin, salt, black pepper, and black beans to bowl. Toss well.

Cut avocado into thin slices and place on top of salad.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

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Summer Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

Sometimes you just need a salad. After my birthday celebration this past weekend that lasted a day longer than we all anticipated, I need several salads. And several more after that. My problem is: I. just. don’t. like. salad. I do like salads at restaurants that have bad stuff, like crispy chicken, fatty dressing, tons of cheese and nary a vegetable anywhere. You know. The ones nutritionists and dietitians tell you in magazines that you should never order? Fortunately, the building where I work not only has a cafe with a large salad bar, but one floor up from that is another salad spot where you can have someone make one for you. Unfortunately, I hate those salads. I don’t know if it’s the dressing, the lack of options or what, but each time I get one of these salads, I’m miserable and disappointed. I have figured out though, I like salads I make myself, where I control the ingredients and only put in what I know I like. And I since I don’t really like bottled dressing, I like simple vinaigrettes where I can control the fat and the flavor. So after work last night, I stopped at the store and started filling my basket with both fruits and veggies that I knew would not only be tasty but would also take advantage of summer’s colorful (and local!) produce. Hence, the homemade Summer Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette.

A simple butter lettuce/red leaf lettuce combination is topped with Jersey plum tomatoes, baby carrots, avocado, red pepper, mango, and toasted almonds before being drizzled with a vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. The almonds, carrots and red pepper give a yummy crunch while the avocado provides a creamy texture. And the mango…oh the mango. Some people don’t like fruit in their salads but I think nothing is better. The slightest bit of sweetness in the mango mixes so well with the other produce and gives this salad the perfect ending note. The vinaigrette is simple and light and especially good with a dash or two of garlic powder. Use any vinegar you like and as little or as much oil as you prefer. This salad didn’t leave me feeling unsatisfied or unhappy. It’s one salad I can definitely get behind!

Summer Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette (makes 2 servings)

  • 4 cups salad greens (your preferred choice)
  • 1 or 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup baby carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted (or any preferred nut)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

Combine extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinaigrette, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (if using) in a jar or bowl. Shake or whisk to combine. Divide lettuce between two plates, and top with even amounts of tomato, carrot, red pepper, avocado and mango. Top each plate with one tablespoon of toasted almonds. Drizzle each plate with dressing, using as little or as much as you like. Finish with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Combine extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinaigrette, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (if using) in a jar or bowl. Shake or whisk to combine.

Divide lettuce between two plates, and top with even amounts of tomato, carrot, red pepper, avocado and mango.

Top each plate with one tablespoon of toasted almonds and drizzle each plate with dressing, using as little or as much as you like.

Finish with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Rum-Marinated Chicken Breasts with Pineapple Relish

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I spent the weekend laying low, only going to dinner and a movie on Friday night with friends and spending the rest of my time engrossed in a new novel while watching either Food Network or reruns of various Bourne movies.  That’s pretty much how I roll.  Oh, and I made food.  Like usual.  Again, that’s how I roll.  I usually scan the grocery store circulars to see what’s on sale before I decide what to make but this week, I decided to make what I was in the mood for.  I sucked up the fact that chicken is ridiculously expensive in order to make Rum-Marinated Chicken Breasts with Pineapple Relish, a light chicken dish filled with vibrant tropical flavors.

Chicken breasts are marinated in a mixture of dark rum, barbecue sauce, Caribbean hot sauce and lime juice before being grilled to perfection and topped off with a golden relish of fresh pineapple and red pepper.  Never had Caribbean hot sauce?  I’m no stranger to Pickapeppa Sauce (a condiment made of tomatoes, mangoes, raisins and peppers, among other things) which was introduced to me by my old roommate who would pour half a bottle over cream cheese and smear it over Triscuits.  True story.  There was never a shortage of Pickapeppa in my apartment.  But I digress.  The rum marinade perfectly tenderizes the chicken and is then boiled to create a rich, silky sauce.  The golden relish is tangy, slightly sweet, tart and a tasty complement to the chicken.  Not a fan of pineapple’s acidity?  Consider substituting any summer fruit, like mango, peach or nectarine.  This is a chicken dish that I could eat, in any variation, nearly every day.  

The ingredients (disregard the honey, my bad):

Combine dark rum, barbecue sauce, Pickapeppa sauce, lime juice, salt and vegetable oil in large zip-top plastic bag.  Add chicken to the bag and seal, allowing chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

To prepare relish, place pineapple on grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill 3 minutes on each side or until soft and browned around the edge.  Allow to cool slightly and chop. 

Combine pineapple, bell pepper, lime rind, lime juice, dark rum, Pickapeppa sauce and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Remove the chicken from the bag and set aside.  Reserve marinade, discarding any chicken bits remaining and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Set aside.  Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill until chicken is cooked to 165ºF.  (Remove and discard skin if using bone-in chicken.)

Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan and cook 1 minute.  Drizzle cooked marinade over chicken.

Serve chicken with relish and lime wedges.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Boneless chicken breasts

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Spicy Moroccan Chicken Skewers

Last week, when I made Tortellini Caprese Bites, I mentioned that I could probably revolve this entire blog around different caprese recipes. This week I have come to realize that I could also write just as much about different kinds of skewers. I mean, who doesn’t like food on a stick? We were all kids once, right? One thing about skewers that I love is that they can be so healthy if made with lean meat and tons of veggies.

These Spicy Moroccan Chicken Skewers not only have tender chicken, plump juicy cherry tomatoes and sunny yellow peppers, but the chicken is coated in a spicy marinade of chile paste, cumin and coriander which provides tons of bold flavors. Serve this with a side of plain Greek yogurt to tame the flavors and cool your palette if you like. I cooked my skewers on an indoor grill but I can only imagine how much better these are over an open flame. If the tomatoes are slightly big or different sizes, pay close attention to the chicken as it’s cooking to ensure it is fully cooked. Or consider using grape tomatoes instead. Eaten plain or with a side of quinoa, couscous or rice, these skewers are sure to please. I can’t think of anything better than a spring or summer evening with chicken skewers in one hand and sparklers in another. Ah, to be a kid again.

The ingredients:

Combine garlic, chile paste, olive oil, salt, cumin and coriander in a small bowl.

Using a rubber spatula or spoon, place mixture into a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken and seal, massaging chicken so that all pieces are coated by the marinade. Marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours, turning after 1 hour.

Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning on the grill. Drain and pat dry. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and discard any remaining marinade. Thread 3 chicken pieces, 1 pepper piece, and 1 tomato alternately onto each skewer, beginning and ending with chicken. Sprinkle with remaining salt. Arrange skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done.

Serve with yogurt.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Despite the fact that we had perfectly blue skies and warm weather this past weekend in the Philadelphia area, the recent rainy, damp weather had me wanting to run to Au Bon Pain for soup nearly everyday.  And even though the weather is supposed to get better, I just felt like making a nice pot of warm and comforting soup.  Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup is spicy, creamy, and hearty – just what you want from a soup.

Don’t be freaked out by the coconut in the name of this soup. It comes from light coconut milk which is mild in flavor and provides a silky creaminess. Chopped mushrooms and red peppers provide some rustic bulk while ginger, garlic, and chile paste provide some hefty flavor. Precooked chicken is thrown in at the end which helps save time, making this soup a perfect use of leftover chicken you might have on hand. Toppings of scallions and cilantro add a fresh brightness at the end so don’t skimp on them. I omitted the lemongrass, substituted ground ginger for fresh ginger and used soy sauce instead of fish sauce. These changes seemed to work because I loved this soup. This recipe wasn’t even the reason why I tore out the page it was on from the magazine it was in but what an amazingly pleasant surprise! This just goes to show – pay attention to every recipe you see. You just might end up making it.

The ingredients:

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and add in mushrooms, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass (I omitted this). Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add chile paste and cook 1 minute.

Add chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add chicken to pan and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Discard lemongrass (if using).

Top with onions, cilantro, and lime juice.

Additions: None

Omissions:

  • Lemongrass

Substitutions:

  • Ground ginger for fresh ginger
  • Chili-garlic sauce for chile paste
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce for fish sauce

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Chicken-and-Veggie Stir-fry

I had a nice long three-day weekend this past weekend and got to spend all of Friday with a bunch of my friends eating a lot of soft pretzels and pasta and drinking a lot of beer.  And wine.  And bloody marys.  So, feeling a little heavy on the carbs, I decided I wanted to finish the weekend with something a little lighter, preferably with lots of veggies.  Chicken-and-Veggie Stir-fry turned out to be just what I wanted.

Thinly sliced chicken is cooked and stir-fried with yellow squash, broccoli, green onions and red pepper.  Small additions of lime juice, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce adds punches of flavor.  This is a very versatile recipe that could be made with any of your favorite vegetables or even tofu.  The recipe calls for broccolini but I used regular broccoli here and I also reduced the cornstarch on the chicken by less than half when I prepared this.  If you like a slightly crispier coating to your chicken, keep the cornstarch at the full amount.  I also used thinly sliced chicken breasts from my grocery store which cook quickly in stir-fries and are also cheaper than regular chicken breasts.  I really love a brightly colored and visually appealing dish like this, especially when it can be made in one pot.  Serve this over rice, quinoa, or simply eat it plain like I did.

 

The ingredients:

Sprinkle chicken with salt and toss with cornstarch.

Stir-fry the chicken in oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until golden brown and done, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Add broccoli and 1/4 cup broth to the pan and cover,  cooking 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Transfer to plate with chicken.

Add remaining oil to the skillet and sauté bell pepper, squash and green onions for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Whisk together 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and remaining 3/4 cup broth until cornstarch dissolves.  Add broth mixture, chicken, and broccoli to bell pepper mixture in skillet.  Cook, stirring often, 1 minute or until liquid thickens.

Stir in lime juice, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce.  

Serve over hot cooked rice, quinoa or enjoy as-is.

Additions:  None

Omissions: 

  • 1/2 of the cornstarch

Substitutions:

  • Broccoli

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Southern Living 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

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