Friday, May 31, 2013

Strawberry Quinoa Salad with Chili-Lemon Tilapia

Strawberry Quinoa Salad with Chili-Lemon Tilapia
(for two)

This Greek-inspired Quinoa salad is creamy and refreshing with layers of bright flavor. Although I’ve labeled this meal as “for two”, the Quinoa Salad could serve 4. It can be enjoyed on its own or with the protein of your choice; here I paired it with a simple Chili-Lemon Tilapia.


Strawberry Quinoa Salad:

-1 cup Quinoa
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 medium cucumber
- 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- 6 oz plain nonfat greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon Agave Nectar (or honey)
- 1-2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
- Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Chili-Lemon Tilapia:

-2 Tilapia Filets
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Salt to taste

Pour 1 ¼ cups water into a small saucepan, add salt to taste and bring to a boil.

Add quinoa to the water, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook about 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. When the quinoa has finished cooking, allow it to cool before adding to the other ingredients. *Note: you can even prepare the quinoa in advance and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chop the strawberries and cucumber into ½ inch pieces.

Spoon the greek yogurt into a large mixing bowl. Add the dried dill, lemon juice, Agave, mustard, red pepper flakes, and ground black pepper. Mix until well combined.

Stir in the strawberries, cucumber and chopped mint (reserving some of the strawberries and mint for garnishing purposes).

Add the cooled quinoa, stir until all ingredients are evenly coated with the greek yogurt dressing. Add salt to taste.

Heat some oil in a skillet or cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the lemon 
zest to the oil.

Evenly sprinkle both sides of the tilapia filets with chili powder and salt.

Place the filets into the hot pan and squeeze the lemon over them. Cook until the fish is white and opaque (1-2 minutes per side).

To serve: Place a tilapia filet on each plate, spoon some of the Strawberry Quinoa Salad over each one and garnish with some of the reserved strawberries and mint. Enjoy!

Shrimp and Vegetables in Asian Peanut Sauce

Shrimp and Vegetables in Asian Peanut Sauce
(for two)

This dish comes together quickly using simple ingredients, making it a great weeknight meal. The velvety peanut sauce surrounds the shrimp and vegetables with Asian flavors and a hint of sweetness.

-2 medium broccoli crowns
- 1 large yellow bell pepper
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons chunky natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons Sriracha (an Asian hot sauce)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar (packed)
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 16 large shrimp (peeled and deveined with tails removed)
- Crushed peanuts for garnish (optional)

Chop the bell pepper and broccoli crowns and set aside.

Heat the chicken broth over medium heat in a large saucepan.

Once the broth has reached a gentle simmer, add the peanut butter and stir until it dissolves into the broth.

Allow the mixture to continue to simmer and thicken. Add the Sriracha, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger.

Add the vegetables to the mixture. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low; cook until the vegetables have wilted but still retain some firmness.

Add the shrimp and cook until they are pink and opaque (you may want to bring the temperature of the pan back up to medium).

Garnish with crushed peanuts and enjoy over white or brown rice with a leafy 
green salad on the side. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Casa V's Red Lentil Stew

Casa V’s Red Lentil Stew
 (serves at least 6)

Lentil stew is a meal that my husband and I regularly enjoy. This is our tried and true house recipe laden with vegetables and some of our favorite seasonings. It also works well as a meatless meal if you omit the beef. This recipe creates a very large yield but the leftovers freeze wonderfully in batches for multiple quick meals.

-1 lb lean ground beef
- 2 medium onions (diced)
- 3 large stalks celery (sliced)
- 1 large red bell pepper (diced)
- 3 handfuls baby carrots (sliced)
- 3 large garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
- 2 cups red lentils (divided)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 cups chicken broth (my favorite)
- 4 cups water
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 5 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 3 teaspoons ground coriander
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Olive oil for the pan

Heat some oil in a large cast iron dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until softened and translucent.

In a separate pan or cast iron skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat 
then set aside.
Add the sliced carrots and a sprinkle of salt to the onions. Stir and allow 
the carrots to soften. 

Add the celery (reserving the celery greens for garnishing purposes) along 
with the minced garlic.

Cook for a minute or two, and then pour the chicken broth and water into the pan. Then add the can of diced tomatoes with the juice.

Measure out the ginger, smoked paprika, turmeric, coriander, and cumin and add to the mixture along with at least 2 teaspoons of salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Squeeze the lemon into the pan, and then add the ground beef, red bell pepper and sliced jalapeño (if using).

Finally pour 1 ½ cups of the red lentils into the pan and stir to combine.

Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer as long as you like but at least 30 minutes. Fifteen minutes before you plan to serve the stew, add the last ½ cup of red lentils and continue cooking (at least 15 minutes) until you are ready to eat. Before serving, taste and 
add more salt if necessary.

Serve the stew with a leafy green salad and cornbread wedges (our favorite recipe) if desired. Garnish with the celery greens; enjoy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Quick Braised Italian Sausage with Spring Vegetables

Quick Braised Italian Sausage with Spring Vegetables
(for two)

This one-dish-meal is perfect for a Spring weeknight. Quickly braising the Italian Sausage and Potatoes in a Garlic and Rosemary Broth with a hint of smokiness, is the secret to achieving its deep flavor. Adding the corn and asparagus at the end keeps the dish fresh.


-2 ¾ cups chicken broth, divided (my favorite)
- 2 links Italian Sausage (I used turkey sausage)
- 2 ears fresh corn (husks removed)
- 10 slender stalks of asparagus
- 1 medium sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 large garlic clove (minced)
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 9 small potatoes (red, white or purple)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Pour ½ cup of  chicken broth into a measuring cup. Place sausages in a large pan over medium heat; cook until the outsides are browned. Splash some of the chicken broth into the pan and cover. As the sausages cook, add more chicken broth a little bit at a time, until the sausages are fully cooked (firm) and the liquid has evaporated 
(use more chicken stock if necessary).

Remove sausages from the pan and set aside.
Pour 1 ½ cups of chicken broth into the pan, stir to incorporate any brown bits and add the potatoes, salt (make sure to salt well to prevent the potatoes from being bland), pepper and smoked paprika. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer (medium low heat).

Remove the needles from the stem of the rosemary sprig. 

Coarsely chop the needles and add to the potato-broth mixture along with the minced garlic. Cook covered for about 25 minutes or until fork-tender. 15 minutes through the cooking time, add another ½ cup of chicken broth.

Cut the corn kernels off of the cobs. Chop off the woody bottoms of the asparagus (take off about an inch and a half), then cut the stems into approx. 2 inch segments.

Cut the sausage links into thin, diagonal slices.

When the potatoes are fork-tender, add the sausage to the pan along with the corn, asparagus and ¼ cup of chicken stock. Taste a little of the broth and 
add more salt if necessary.

Return the heat to medium (you may want to cover the pan at first until it gets up to temperature), and cook until the corn is tender and the asparagus is bright green (this won’t take very long).

Spoon a balanced portion of each ingredient onto plates and serve!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Crunchy Thai Rice Bowls

Crunchy Thai Rice Bowls
(Makes 6-8 rice bowls)

Creamy rice, tangy slaw and Thai-spiced shrimp all come together in one crunchy bowl, creating a satisfying combination of flavors and textures. For a variation, substitute chicken for the shrimp, making sure to double or triple the amount of curry paste.



-A 13.5 oz can of lite coconut milk
- 1 cup rice
- Generous ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar (I used 2)


-6-8 Corn Tortillas
- ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts (shelled)


-2 generous cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
- 1 medium orange bell pepper
- Handful of coarsely chopped cilantro
- 2-3 Tablespoons light mayo (just enough to bind the mixture)
- ½ Lemon
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- Salt to taste


-16 large shrimp (peeled, deveined and thawed) with tails removed
- 1 teaspoon Thai Panang curry paste (or Red Curry paste)*
- Small amount of coconut oil for the pan

*You can find Thai curry paste at any Asian market, or the international foods section of well stocked grocery stores.*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray the underside of a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Place several tortillas on a small plate and cover with a wet paper towel.

Microwave 30 seconds (this will make the tortillas pliable so that they can be 
formed into “bowls”.

Take the warmed tortillas and place in the spaces between the muffin cups, pressing down on the middles so that the edges stand up.

Bake about 8 minutes per batch, or until golden brown and crispy.

*Note: You can prepare the tortilla bowls in advance to cut down on prep time.*

Over medium heat, bring the coconut milk, salt and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to make sure that the sugar has dissolved. *Tip: covering the saucepan will 
expedite this process.*
Once the coconut milk is boiling add the rice, stir and re-cover. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for about 35 minutes, stirring once during the cooking time. 

The rice will still be creamy after 35 minutes. Remove the lid and remove from heat; this will allow the rice to absorb more of the liquid.

While the rice is cooking, place the peanuts in a small zip top bag. Crush the peanuts by tapping them with the back of a knife.

Place the coleslaw mix (or cabbage) in a medium sized bowl.

Remove the stem, seeds and pith from the bell pepper. Slice thinly, lengthwise, then cut the slices in half crosswise.

Add to the coleslaw mix and toss with a fork.
Squeeze the lemon half into the bowl. Add the mayo, mustard and cilantro and stir to combine. Add salt to taste.

Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a large skillet. Add the curry paste and stir until the oil and curry paste have combined.

Add the shrimp to the pan and toss to make sure that they are evenly covered with the oil and curry paste. Cook until pink in color and opaque.

To serve: place a few tablespoons of the rice into the bottoms of the tortilla bowls. Add a layer of the slaw and then several of the shrimp to each bowl. 
Top with the crushed peanuts and enjoy!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Celery Quinoa with Worcestershire-Lime Shrimp

Celery Quinoa with Worcestershire-Lime Shrimp
(serves 2-4)

Although celery may be an underrated member of the vegetable world, it is truly the star of this meal. The result is a savory dish with fresh notes and just a hint of sweetness. Chicken can be substituted for the shrimp, but factor in an adjustment in cooking times and measurements.


Celery Quinoa:

-1 medium onion
- A handful of baby carrots
- 3 large stalks of celery
- 2 large garlic cloves
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup quinoa
- 3 large dates (chopped) or substitute dried cranberries
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for the pan

Worcestershire-Lime Shrimp:

-16 large shrimp (uncooked, peeled and deveined)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Juice of ½ lime
- Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
- Olive oil for the pan

Dice the onion, carrots and celery, removing the tops (greens) from the celery first and setting them aside for later use. 

Heat some oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion to the pan.
 Cook until softened.

Add the diced carrot and celery and continue to cook until they begin to soften.

Mince the garlic (or use garlic press) and add to the pan along with the turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. *Note: unless you are using fully salted chicken broth, you want this mixture to be a little on the salty side. The addition of the broth and quinoa will really soften the salt flavor.*

Squeeze the lime into the pan and then add the broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil, and then stir in the chopped dates. 

Cover and reduce heat to low. The quinoa will need to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. When it has finished cooking (the liquid will have been absorbed and you should be able to fluff it with a fork), remove from the heat.

Roughly chop the celery greens (nice large chunks).

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Remove the tails from the shrimp, *Tip: the easiest way to do this is to pinch the middle of the tail between your thumb and forefinger, and with the other hand, grasp the base of the shrimp, nearest the tail, and pull. This should enable you to successfully remove the tails without losing any of the shrimp meat.*

Add the shrimp to the hot pan. Drizzle the Worcestershire sauce 
and squeeze the lime over them. 

Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and allow the shrimp to cook until the flesh becomes opaque and pink in color. When the shrimp has finished cooking, turn off the heat and add the celery greens to the pan. This will slightly “wilt” the greens without sacrificing their flavor or bright green color.

To serve: Make a bed of quinoa on the plate; I chose to form mine in a circular shape. Top with several of the cooked shrimp and some celery greens. Enjoy!