Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taco Tuesday: Spicy Steak Tacos with Roasted Tomato & Swiss Chard Salsa

Hey. You.

Do you know what today is?? Today is a very special day.


I know I missed a week and I'm super-duper sorry. But, it was either miss a week or post a really terrible picture that wouldn't have done the taco justice. I just couldn't. So I waited a week for a better taco, a better picture, and an ah-may-zing roasted salsa. Totally worth the wait, I promise!

Grilled Steak Taco with Tomato & Chard Salsa

Mmm...spicy-seasoned steak, grilled to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, with creamy guacamole, and a unique roasted salsa with garden tomatoes and Swiss chard!! Yep. That's what I said. Bev is a genius. I'd never eaten - hell, seen - Swiss chard until I came across this recipe of hers. Amazeballs,  y'all. And yes, I just said that like I'm a 15-year-old girl. 

Look. Just look at that salsa down there...how could it not be the most delicious thing you ever put in your mouth? Ok...so maybe not the most delicious (mama's salsa is still the best) but it's purdy dang good. And I got to use garden tomatoes and jalapenos in it. Bonus!

Roasted Tomato & Swiss Chard Salsa

So get your booty to the kitchen (or the grill outside) and make these tacos.

Now, now, now!! (in my best Cartman voice.)

Spicy Steak Tacos with Roasted Tomato & Swiss Chard Salsa
Every so slightly adapted from Bev Cooks

  • 1 lb sirloin (or flank or skirt) steak
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
For the salsa
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato (I used one from our garden), cut in half
  • 1/2 large white onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4 large Swiss chard leaves, ends trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, juiced
For the tacos
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 6-8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese

  1. Combine all the spice ingredients in a small bowl and evenly pat it into the steak on both sides. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Prepare your salsa veggies (cut them up) and place the tomato, onion jalapeno, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Add the Swiss chard and give everything a light spray of olive oil or cooking spray. Roast for 5-10 minutes, or until slightly charred and softened. The chard will be a little crispy, but not burnt.
  3. Remove from the oven and place in a blender or food processor with the garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper and the lime juice. Process until well combined. You can do a rough chop if you like it more chunky. 
  4. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan (or your outside grill) over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. 
  5. Grill the steak to your preferred doneness, 3-5 minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices.
  6. While the steak is resting you can make your guacamole by combining the avocado (peel and pit removed), garlic powder and lime juice in a medium bowl and mashing with a fork until smooth. 
  7. Warm the tortillas and top with guacamole, a few slices of steak, a sprinkle of cheese and a spoonful. of that yummy salsa!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Super-foods Salad with Pan-seared Salmon

 Good Monday morning, friends!!

I know that I told you all on Saturday that I live for the weekends, from the start of Monday morning. And while this is true, I have actually been looking forward to this particular Monday for awhile. You see, awhile back I applied to become a part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program and I got the call last week to schedule my interview. I can't say that I'm nervous, because this is something that I'm doing from the heart, with a true desire to have a positive impact on a child's life as a mentor. But the thought of an hour-and-half interview is a little intimidating, nonetheless. I'm excited for this step in the process, as it only takes me that much closer to becoming a big sister (Big) to a very special Little.  I don't know how long the process is, but you know I will keep you posted!

Meanwhile, let me share with you one one amazing salad.

Superfood Salad with Pan-Seared Salmon 3

I always say that we're going to eat more salads, and in fact try to plan them for Sunday lunches pretty regularly, but it doesn't always work out that I actually get to make the ones I've planned. When I saw this one (and the pomegranates were actually at the grocery store!) I knew that J would love it and that I had to make it. Immediately. Every single component of the salad, including the dressing, are ones that I really love. And aside from the pomegranate, these are things we eat on a regular basis anyway. As in, more than once a week. So yeah. this salad was meant for us. 

Superfood Salad with Pan-Seared Salmon 2

Just look at it...how could something that pretty not be delicious?!?! It's the pomegranate, y'all. They make it so dang pretty. But, it's all of the components together that make it such an amazing salad. Crisp greens, creamy avocado, quinoa, and of course the salmon itself, drizzled with a tangy honey mustard vinaigrette and topped with pomegranate seeds that pop flavor into your mouth with each bite.

Super-foods Salad with Pan-seared Salmon
Packed full of 5 (or 6!) super foods (salmon, quinoa, avocado, pomegranate, kale and/or spinach, this salad is both nutritious and delicious!!

  • 2 6-oz wild salmon fillets
  • 3 cups baby spinach &/or kale (I used a baby spinach/baby kale mix)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 lg avocado, pit removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
For the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp honey (or to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a saute pan over medium-high heat, pan-sear the salmon until golden and cooked to your liking. If your salmon still has the skin on, cook skin side down first, about 4-5 minutes, then flip and sear the other side for an additional 4 minutes. While this side is cooking, use a set of tongs to gently remove the skin from the salmon. Flip back over and cook 1 additional minute, or until cooked through. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing the rest of the salad.
  2. Add the dressing ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth and emulsified, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Divide the kale and/or spinach between two bowls. Top with 1/4-1/2 cup of quinoa (however much you like), 1/2 avocado, and one salmon filet. Drizzle with dressing (your desired amount) and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sammich Saturday: Blueberry Chicken Salad Wrap

It's Saturday...yay!! I live for the weekends. As soon as Monday morning comes around, I'm counting down the time until 4:30 Friday afternoon rolls around. Not that the weekdays and working are so terrible, but let's be honest...working all week, plus the commute, going to the gym, bible studies, and all the other daily tasks doesn't leave much time for fun time. The weekdays are busy. That's just the reality of life.

So, I look forward to the weekends when I can spend time with J and the pups without having to worry about getting to bed and waking up early to start another day. Of course there is still chores to be done...laundry, yard work, and such. More joys of being an adult. But there's fun stuff too. And cooking. Even though I do that every day, I have more leeway to do so and still have good daylight to get good photos. During the week, that is a serious challenge with our schedules. Weekend lunches are usually when I get the best photos. Like these wraps.

Blueberry  Chicken Salad Wrap (1)

Blueberries? In chicken salad? Sounds weird, right? But really, it's not much different than adding apples as far as the addition of fruit goes. It is, however, freaking delicious. Especially wrapped in a spinach tortilla. I'm just sayin'. Oh, and other than cooking the chicken, which doesn't take very long, it can be thrown together in a flash. You can have these babies on the table in about 15 minutes, even with cooking the chicken!! That's what we like around. Quick and delicious!

Blueberry  Chicken Salad Wrap (3)

It was a last minute decision to use the spinach wraps. I had bought them for another recipe and didn't use them all so I figured hey, why not? And let me just tell you...that was a good call. This is a great, healthy lunch, packed full of flavor!

Blueberry Chicken Salad Wraps
As seen on Farm Flavor

  • 3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp mayo or miracle whip (I'm a miracle whip girl, through-and-through)
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced (I used two chicken breasts, seasoned with salt & pepper and cooked in a skillet for about 3 minutes per side. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then cut them up)
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries
  • 1-2 cups baby spinach and kale mix
  • 4 burrito-size spinach tortillas

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayo, celery and salt.
  2. Gently stir in chicken and blueberries.
  3. Warm the tortillas then top with 1/4-1/2 cup of baby spinach and kale and 1/2 cup of the chicken and blueberry salad mixture.
  4. Roll up each tortillas (fold two sides in towards the middle, then fold the bottom side up and roll to the other side to make a "burrito") then cut in half and serve. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing

Um...you guys. How in the world is July almost over already?? I mean, in one month...ONE MONTH...I turn 34. How is this possible?? My mind swears I'm still 19. Every other part of me disagrees, but that mind of mine...it's hard to ignore. And then the reality hits...34...how can it be?? I'm not one of those gals who freaks out about getting older (and no, I don't think 34 is "old" so don't freak out on me.) I didn't think turning 30 was a big deal like some of my friends. But 34?!?! I just don't know where the time has gone!

I do, however, know where this salad went...in mah bellah!! Well, mine and J's, of course.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing

I always try to have something quick and easy planned for Sunday lunches, so that when we get home (and J is starving to death after having not eaten for a couple of hours), I can throw something together in about 15 minutes. This, was one such Sunday lunch. Throw the shrimp in a pan with some seasonings, cut up the avocado and cucumber, blend up the dressing and throw it all in a bowl with some baby spinach and kale. A little bit of spicy, a little bit of crunchy, and a little bit of creamy. A lot of deliciousness. Bad-a-bing, Bad-a-boom, lunch is served! And J is saved from starvation...just barely. 

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing 2

It's Friday, and it didn't get here fast enough (unlike the looming birthday that is approaching...it can wait just a leetle bit longer!) There are a couple of bedrooms in this house that are begging for some organization attention, so that's where you can find me this weekend. You, on the other had, should be found in the kitchen. Making this salad. It will be epic and you'll be the lunch hero.

Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing
As seen on Pinch of Yum


For the salad
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ lb raw shrimp, tails removed
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 1 lg avocado (or 2 small), peeled, pit removed, and sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 4 cups baby spinach or baby kale
  • fresh chopped cilantro for topping
For the dressing
  • 1-inch piece of fresh peeled ginger
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice (more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1½ Tbsp white miso (it's like a paste - you can buy it at many regular grocery stores)
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt

  1. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shrimp and season with the chili powder and cayenne. Saute for about 2 minutes on each side until the shrimp are cooked through and golden.
  2. Place the greens, avocado, and cucumber in your serving bowls and top with shrimp. 
  3. Puree all the dressing ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and top with fresh cilantro.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

I can't believe that I'm just  now sharing these meatballs with you! I mean, meatballs are pretty fantastic as it is, but when you stuff them with fresh mozzarella it elevates them to a whole other level of awesomeness. Seriously! And for J, topping them with homemade marinara sauce is all the better. He loves him some marinara sauce. Oh, oh, oh! And the pasta! Remember when I told you about the pastas that my mom gave me awhile back?? Well, I used the last of the garlic-basil, and spinach linguine for this dish and I think it went perfectly!

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

I don't make Italian food (i.e. pasta) very often, but this dish was chock full of Italian flavors in both the meatballs and the pasta. I wish I had some of these right now. At 6 am. That's how good they are. Trust me peeps!!

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
As seen on A Duck's Oven

  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 oz fresh mozzarella mini balls (Bocconcini), or any fresh mozzarella torn into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cups Pasta Sauce of choice (I used this leftover pizza sauce I had frozen)

  1. Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Add the ground beef, chili powder, paprika, Italian herbs, salt, black pepper, and garlic and mix with your hands until combined.
  2. Pull enough of the mixture out (a couple of tablespoons worth should be plenty) to flatten and wrap around one mozzarella ball. Squish the edges together to be sure it is sealed, so the cheese won't ooze out.  Repeat this process until you've used up all the meat. Should make 10-12 meatballs. 
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until well-browned.
  4. When meatballs are browned, add the pasta sauce (enough to coat the bottom and come up about half-way on the meatballs. I used about 3 cups, but you can use more or less - whatever you like) to the skillet and simmer for about five minutes, turning occasionally to coat the meatballs.
  5. Serve over pasta, rice, as a sammich, or by themselves! I served ours over some yummy garlic, basil, and spinach linguine!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Chicken & Chopped Brussels Sprouts Salad with Creamy Shallot Dressing

Well, hello beautiful!! I have had this salad bouncing around on my menu plan for...awhile. And it didn't get pushed back week after week for any other reason but no pomegranates at the grocery store.

< insert squinty-eyed, annoyed face here >

I see them one week and then they're just...gone.

Chicken & Chopped Brussels Sprouts Salad with Creamy Shallot Dressing (1)

But as soon as I saw the end-cap display in the produce department, I grabbed a couple and, voila! This salad finally came to be a reality in our house. I got a little side-eye action from J when the mention of raw Brussels sprouts came up, but in the end he ate more of this than I did!! Of course, he added sun-dried tomato vinaigrette because...well...he likes that salad dressing better than any other, no matter how delicious. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed the creamy shallot dressing. 

And the salad itself? Well...crunchy, shredded brussels go great with sweet pomegranate, crunchy bacon, chicken and parmesan cheese. It was like a flavor festival in my mouth!! 

Ok, that was a little cheesy...kinda like this salad!! 

Ok, ok...enough of that. But do try this salad, because I'm quite sure you will find it as delicious as we did!

Chicken & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Creamy Shallot Dressing
As seen on Pinch of Yum

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 30-40 Brussels sprouts (makes about 4 cups shredded)
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
For the dressing
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • juice of one orange
  • juice of one lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • up to 2 Tbsp water

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting into bite-sized pieces. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside.
  3. Shred or slice the Brussels sprouts. I used my food processor, which has a nifty little attachment that shreds things quite nicely. You can use a knife, a mandolin, or whatever you have. 
  4. Extract the pomegranate seeds from their shell - this part can be a little messy. Don't wear white!! 
  5. Place the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and top with chicken, bacon crumbles, pomegranate arils, and cheese.
  6. Place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and pulse until creamy. Add the water as needed for consistency. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ginger Beef & Chicken with Mandarin Oranges

Haaaaapy Hump Day, friends!! I've had a Spark and I'm working on a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha right now, so I'm a little wound up...wooohoooo!!! That's how you get through the mid-week slump, my friends. Caffeinate yourself beyond all reason and recognition. Ok, so I don't really recommend drinking both drinks back-to-back, the Spark is usually all I drink, but I wanted a breakfast sandwich and it just felt weird to go to Starbucks and not get coffee. So I did it. And now I  probably look bug-eyed like Roo. At least that's how they feel...all wide-eyed and crazy. Good thing I have my own office at work to hide in.

I guess I should focus now and tell you about this here dish, shouldn't I?? It's just so bright and colorful it was almost hard to eat. Almost, I said. I loooove mandarin oranges. My mom used to buy cans of them for me "just because" she knew I loved them so. Isn't she nice??

Ginger Beef & Chicken

She also used to buy me Ramen noodles and Spaghettio's with meatballs. Aaah the good ol' days, circa 1999. I haven't seen a package of either of those in years. Well I've seen them, at the grocery store, but not in my cart or in my pantry. Or my mouth or my belly. I suppose my palate has matured some since those days. But I won't lie...I could scarf down a bowl of Spaghettio's right about now. It may be processed but that's some delicious stuff, y'all!! Don't run away screaming now...you haven't heard about this healthy dish yet!!

Ginger Beef & Chicken 2

That's what you really want to hear about, amIright? Well alrighty then...who am I to deny you what you came here for??

The original recipe was a crockpot recipe and used only beef, no chicken. And mushrooms, not broccoli. But, I had some chicken thawed out that needed to be used, J and I both hate mushrooms, and I didn't have time for the crockpot. Thus, this modified version of the original came to be. And it.was.good.

J scoffed at the can of water chestnuts, thinking he didn't like them. But I've learned that he sometimes thinks he doesn't like things, until I make them. Then he can't remember why he didn't like them. 

Except for cauliflower. I didn't win that battle. Sad. 

Anywho...back to the stir fry. It was actually super simple to make, and the simmering meat and broccoli in the sauce helped it to absorb flavor and get nice and tender. Because no one wants to bite into a tough piece of beef. Yuck. I didn't put mandarin oranges in J's, as he claims to not like those, either. And since I love them so, I didn't have any problem scarfing them all down myself. Some in this dish, and some with a fork right out of it's jar. Yep, I said it. And it too, was good!

Add this to your menu this week and you will also say, It.Was.Good!!

Ginger Beef & Chicken with Mandarin Oranges
Adapted from The Midnight Baker

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless sirloin steak (or flank or skirt steak)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or sesame oil)
  • 1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger -OR- 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 can (11 oz) mandarin orange sections (reserve juice)
  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice

  1. Trim beef of visible fat and cut into 1/4 inch strips or bite-sized chunks. Do the same with the chicken breasts.  
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of  the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once it is very hot, at the beef slices, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Brown on all sides. Cook in batches if necessary and remove to a plate once browned. Add the chicken to the pan and repeat. Remove to the plate when done. 
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the broccoli, water chestnuts and onion. Saute until onion begins to get soft. Add the soy sauce and the mirin, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. 
  4. Drain 1/2 cup of juice from the mandarin oranges can, setting the orange segments aside for later use.
  5. In a medium-bowl, combine the beef stock, orange juice, cornstarch and ginger. Whisk until well combined.
  6. Return the beef and chicken to the skillet with the veggies and pour the beef stock mixture over the top. 
  7. Reduced the heat to a medium simmer and cook for 20 minutes or so, until the meat is cooked through and tender, and the sauce has thickened. 
  8. Remove from heat and mix in the reserved mandarin orange sections just before serving.
  9. Serve over rice.
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