Friday, September 28, 2012

Almond Crusted Salmon

Almond Crusted Salmon...I like to eat a lot of fish during the week, its healthy, its quick, just seems like a good idea - right? But sometimes it can get a bit monotonous and sometimes you need to add a new texture to the mix. Enter almonds.

I've had nut crusted fishes before, but last night I decided to attempt my own version - using whole unsalted almonds and salmon. I figured I'd just make it up as I go, as I often do, and that if it turned out well I'd share it, and if not no one would ever have to know that it was a bad combo. I will say it did turn out well and I am quite happy to share that it was simple and provided a nice crunch without using breadcrumbs and instead adding protein on top of your protein!

On The Menu:
Almond crusted salmon, sauteed broccolini, and whole wheat spaghetti w/sauteed onions & tomatoes

The Almond Crusted Salmon:
I happened to have a bag of unsalted whole almonds in my pantry, which I bought a little while back thinking I'd be good and eat them as a snack at work. As it turns out I hate unsalted whole almonds, so they've been sitting there just waiting to be put to use. I grabbed a big hand full of the almonds and put them in a zip lock bag, ensuring all of the air was squeezed out. I took a meat tenderizer, and using the small pokey side I gave it a good smackin. You could use the bottom of a pot, or you could toss them in a food process to get a good chop. My technique worked quite nicely so I'd recommend it if you've got some sort of tenderizer/mallet.

Once the almonds were half dust/half small crumbles I dumped them into a cream soup bowl (a flat plate would do) and added a liberal sprinkling of grill seasoning. You could add anything here. If I had any fresh herbs on hand they would have been chopped and added - but alls I had was the seasoning. Then I gave it a nice mix so that the salmon would get a good even coating. Before dredging the salmon in the almonds, I patted the it down with a paper towel (in the hopes it would make the nuts stick better) and I added a little salt & pepper to the fillets. Then the dredge. Sadly not much of the nut mixture adhered to the raw salmon so I ended up using a spoon to cake the rest of the nuts on top of the fillets. Once they were nicely covered I drizzled a bit of olive oil over the top and popped them in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

The Pasta:
This type of side dish has become a staple when I want a little carb and need to use some veggies in the fridge, yet want to keep it light. I sauteed one whole yellow onion (which I had sliced and cut in half) along with the rest of the little yellow tomatoes I had to use up - in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, crushed dried oregano, and crushed dried basil. Once the tomatoes were ready to squish up I did so and added just a tiny bit of butter. I let that continue melding together on low heat before adding my al dente whole wheat spaghetti.

The Broccolini:
Simple saute in olive oil, salt and pepper. A little steam action at the end and voila - flavorful greens!

Happy Friday to all - try this Dahlicious new fish recipe next week when you're ready for a little crunch!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shrimp & Whole Wheat Spaghetti

Shrimp & Whole Wheat Spaghetti... It's Tuesday night, your cooking for one, it's late September so it's starting to get dark a little earlier now, and you're ready to make a quick but satisfying dinner. You're in the mood for a little carb but you know the weekend is just around the corner and you aren't interested in totally ruining your healthy streak for the week. You've got 5 whole peeled shrimp, a bunch of fresh broccoli, a hand full of baby yellow tomatoes, garlic, lemon, and green olive tapenade - so clearly turning that into a Dahlicious sauce over perfectly al dente whole wheat spaghetti comes to mind... clearly.

On the Menu:
Shrimp & Whole Wheat Spaghetti

How To:
Super Simple. Saute the broccoli and tomatoes with a crushed garlic in olive oil over medium/high heat. Once the broccoli starts to brown and the tomatoes are getting soft, add in your shrimp. I let my shrimp marinate in a bit of lemon juice for a few minutes before tossing it in the pan. Cook them for just a minute or two on each side until they're pink and a tiny golden. Add a big squeeze of lemon juice and a tad more olive oil. Let that saute for a bit until the tomatoes are soft enough that they're ready to be squished. Go on and smash them up, creating a bit of a sauce and add a spoonful of the tapenade. I happened to have a jar of this on hand but you could add capers or chopped olives, heck even whole kalamata olives if you have them! This was just an extra layer of flavor and texture for me. I love olives and that acidic punch they bring to a dish so I often toss them into a lot of my sauces/sautes (side note: they're great for spicing up plain green beans as well, when you're sauteing your greens just add a spoon full and they really brighten it up).

Once your pasta is just al dente, still a bit firm on the inside, scoop it out (its OK to keep a little bit of the starchy water - so don't feel like it must  be drained completely) and toss it in your shrimpy mixture. Give it a good toss and let it sit with the stove off for a minute or two to get the pasta fully coated in that Dahlicious goodness. Now the pics don't do it justice, but this dish was very flavorful (as you might assume from the garlic and tomatoes and tapenade and lemon) but it was still light. Plus with the broccoli and shrimp in there is was healthy too!

Hope yall are having a Dahlicious week!

Additional side note - I am a big promoter of TJ's but I will remind everyone that all of their nut butters have been recalled due to salmonella outbreaks. I happened to eat the Almond Butter with Flaxseeds for lunch on Monday - wish me luck!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tofu & Kale Stir Fry

Tofu & Kale Stir Fry... Monday was one of those nights where I immediately changed into comfy clothes upon getting home from work & with the rain that quickly ensued, I had no interest in making any great efforts at ANYTHING that night. When I have no interest in making any real effort, yet I still know I need to eat a healthy hearty meal, I generally turn to a stir fry. For this reason, I usually make sure that in my fridge I have ample veggies and some sort of protein that can be made into a stir fry (ie: tofu, chicken, etc). Additionally, a bottle or two of TJ's Soyaki is always on hand and so is a box of their already cooked, frozen brown rice.

On the Menu:
Tofu, Kale & Bell Pepper stir fry over Brown Rice

I wish there was a whole lot to describe here but there isn't. I sauteed my kale and bell peppers in a bit of oil until they were slightly wilted. At the same time I crisped up some hunks of tofu in a seperate pan. I then added a liberal pour of the Soyaki into the veggie pan and let the kale & peppers steam in the sauce. Once the tofu was golden brown I added it to the veggies and gave it a toss. I let it meld together on low heat for another 10 minutes and served it over hot brown rice.

Easy as can be, and Dahlicious to boot! Hopefully I can get more inspired to create NEW dishes soon, mostly I'm on repeat mode, plus eating healthy (fish & veggies) is on my to do list for now!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Seared Tuna & Warm Lentil Salad

Seared Tuna & Warm Lentil Salad... It's been another hectic two weeks! First there were a few nights where I was repeating some already documented Dahlicious meals (with slight variations based on what I had), then there were out of town guests (which meant eating out - Chicago style deep dish is a must when I have visitors), and of course the weekend lent itself to eggs benny brunches and a fun dinner party with lots of new friends!

Side note: For the dinner party I brought a side of roasted potatoes. Worked out so well, I just prepped them earlier in the afternoon and then put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes while I got ready for the night. I used yellow and red little potatoes, cut them into quarters, drizzled with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt & pepper. When they were finished I tossed them in a bunch of very finely chopped fresh parsley and voila!

So last night I finally had a chance to whip up a meal. With all that eating out I felt like I needed to try to be good this week, so I kicked it off with a healthy, yet hearty, Sunday dinner.

On the Menu:
Seared Tuna, sauteed garlic broccolini, warm lentil & avocado salad

The Tuna:
As I've done many times, I simply marinated the tuna steaks in olive oil, lemon juice, and a liberal sprinkling of lemon pepper on both sides for about 20 minutes in the fridge. I took them out just before cooking and threw them on my grill pan on high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side. A little longer if you like it cooked all the way through. Simple. Add some fresh lemon wedges on the plate for an additional squeeze before eating.

The Broccolini:
I love broccolini, its a great veggie. It has the small leafy/flowery bits that regular broccoli has, but somehow seems to absorb the flavor of the olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper better than your normal broccoli does. The only tip I have here is to sauté them on high heat for 5 or so minute until they're getting a little browned, then add just a splash of water and cover them on medium/low heat for another few minutes. Since they have a thicker stalk than say asparagus, this quick steaming helps to cook them all the way through.

The Warm Lentils:
I've made these Trader Joe's pre-cooked lentils many times before, however last night I spiced them up just a tad. I took a beautifully ripe avocado and cut it into bit sized chunks. I added a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half, a bunch of chopped fresh parsley, 1 crushed garlic clove, a little drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon. A tiny salt & pepper to taste. I gave all of that a good toss in a large bowl, and once the lentils were finished (3 minutes in the microwave to get them nice and hot) I just folded them into the fresh ingredinets. If you wanted to serve this cold you could use the lentils right out of the refrigerated package. They're a great side, hot or cold to serve when you want a starch but you're looking for a healthy alternative!

This meal was healthy and filling AND let me tell you easy! It took all of 8-10 minutes for the broccolini, 5 minutes for the lentils (do your chopping while they're heating up for 3 minutes), and about 6 minutes for the tuna.

In all - if you've got 20 minutes, you can make a healthy and complete meal... just plan ahead! Hope yall had a Dahlicious Sunday. Keep checking back this week!