Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Staple Dinners: Salmon

If I could suggest one thing to people who are trying to cook healthful balanced meals at home more often, I would say - Have Some Staples. If I cook at home 4 nights a week, at least 2 of those I am cooking staples, or go-to's.

As much as I advocate food being an enjoyable adventure, I do understand that eating is something we all have to do multiple times a day for an entire lifetime. Usually I would look at eating as a "get to" type activity but I know that there are those nights where 30 minutes is all you have time for and eating begins to feel like an obligation. But we all know that even on those nights where time is short, or where we're just a little lazy, in the end we'll feel much better about ourselves if we whip up something a little healthful as opposed to throwing 20 bucks down the drain on fattening take out.

To me a staple is a meal or dish that can be replicated easily and has elements that can also be easily substituted. It is something that you WANT to eat on a regular basis and it is something that you can prepare confidently.

With this I share with you one of my staples. This meal happens once a week in my apartment and with various twists depending on my mood, what I have in my kitchen, or what I may have been inspired by on Pinterest earlier that day.

Oven Roasted Salmon w/steamed Greens & Sweet Potato:

The Salmon:
Usually I take the easy & low calorie route by drizzling my salmon filet with a tid bit of olive oil, the juice from a large lemon, and a liberal sprinkle of lemon pepper. I let it marinate in the fridge for 20-30 minutes and I pop it in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. It is so easy and I know that I am getting so much healthful goodness out of it. Salmon is my absolute go to for seafood because it's hearty and never fishy. I also love that it pairs perfectly with a healthful starch that I rarely feel guilty about... sweet potato!


The Sweet Potato:
Generally I bake these guys, but last night (Typical Tuesday) I whipped them! Yep - easy as that, it was a last minute decision and it worked beautifully. I took the two large sweet potatoes I planned on baking and instead I cut them in half long ways and then into even sized large chunks. I left the skin on and threw them in a pot, covering them in water. I put it on the stove and let it come to a boil until the potatoes were fork tender. I fished them out and easily slid the skins off (they really just fall right off). Then I whipped the potatoes with a little pad of butter, salt to taste, and the juice from half of a Cutie. Yep. My mom makes a sweet potato dish at Thanksgiving that includes the zest/juice from an orange and I happened to have a big bag of cuties on hand so I just cut one in half and gave it a squeeze. It added a nice acidic sweetness!

Whipped with a fork
The Greens:
Seriously you could put anything in this category. For me it is usually asparagus or broccolini. Those just happen to be easy favorites of mine. They're quick to steam with a squeeze of lemon or saute with a little olive oil/garlic/salt/pepper.


Anywho, this dinner may not be the MOST exciting thing in the world but let's face it people, we are busy, and occasionally a bit lazy. This is the perfect go-to/staple meal to have once a week, just make sure you grab these things at the grocery store - salmon fillets,  sweet potatoes, greens, lemon. Boom - easy as that.

Hope this inspires some of you to come up with a good weekly staple meal that's satisfying, healthful, & Dahlicious!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Linguini & Meatballs

Linguini & Meatballs.. I will start right off admitting that I did not in fact make these meatballs. I bought them from the butcher at this new wonderful market that I love called Mariano's. They were Dahlish.

On the Menu:
Homecooked meatballs, homemade marinara sauce with linguini and steamed broccoli

Super Simple, Super Dahlish.

How To:
In a large/deep sauce pan I sauteed the 4 large meatballs on medium to high heat to brown. I have stainless pots and pans so mine got a bit stuck to the bottom for the first few minutes but once they started browning they moved more easily. Once they had a nice crispy brown layer on the outside I placed them in a Pyrex baking dish and put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

During that time I removed most of the oil and meat remnants leaving just a few little bits to add some flavor to the sauce I was fixin' to make. I added a touch more olive oil and a few cloves of pressed garlic and let it saute for just a minute and then added a 28oz can of diced San Marzano tomatoes. THESE ARE THE BEST. I added a bit of salt and pepper to taste as well as a palm full each of crushed dried oregano and crushed dried basil. I tossed in a couple bay leaves and added a splash of white wine and let it come to a rapid simmer. I let it simmer on high for a few minutes stirring occasionally. I then let it simmer a bit lower until the meatballs had spent their 15 minutes or so in the oven. I took the meatballs out and placed them in sauce, covering them with spoonfuls of the tomatoey goodness. I put a lid on the saute pan and let the meatballs finish cooking in the sauce for about 15-20 minutes on a very low simmer. 

Whilst my meatballs were simmering I dropped some linguini in a salty boiling bath and quick steamed a big bunch of broccoli  Once the linguini was done I fetched it out with tongs and dropped it right into my meatball/sauce pan to absorb/coat itself in the sauce for a few minutes before serving. I also gave a liberal squeeze of lemon juice to my bright green broccoli florets and bam dinner was done.

It was super easy and extremely hearty. But I didn't feel too guilty besides for the carbs, I didn't add any butter to the sauce so I felt good about that! Hope you all have a Dahlicious weekend - I'm looking forward to a yummy double date dinner at Balena tonight!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pork Chops w/ Acorn Squash

Pork Chops w/ Acorn Squash... I'm back. And I have to get into the routine of cooking now that it's officially the new year and all these holiday trips are over (fairly tragic). Anywho, last night was the first night back to cooking and although I wasn't feeling too inspired I did whip together a healthful and well rounded meal that was super duper easy. So no excuses people, if I can do it you can do it.

On the Menu:
Grilled pork chops w/roasted acorn squash and sauteed broccolini

How To:
Nothing majorly new or interesting here but it was a flavorful, and might I add, colorful meal.

First I set the oven to 400 degrees for my acorn squash. While the oven was heating up I cut off both the stem and the rough bottom of the squash then proceeded to cut it in half. You can cut it either way but I cut it longways. I scooped out the seeds and gunk and drizzled the insides of each half with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I placed them upside down (skin side up) on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and popped em in the oven for 45 minutes. Voila.

While the squash started cooking I took my boneless chops out of their packaging and put them on a plate. I gave each side a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of grill mate seasoning, lemon pepper, and a TOUCH of cayenne (I think I put more than a touch and it made for a hot little porky!). I covered the plate with foil and put them in the oven until 10 minutes before the squash was ready. I also prepped a few cloves of crushed garlic and some broccolini to saute also around the time I cooked my chops.

I took that in between time to clean up so that I didn't have much to do after dinner - it pays to plan ahead!!

Once my timer was down to about 10 minutes left for the squash I started sauteing the broccolini on medium heat with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil. I threw in a splash of water at the end to steam them through.

I also got out my grill pan and put it on high heat for a minute or two before placing my chops on the pan. I would say they take about 5 or so minutes on each side and it helps if you make a foil tent over the top to keep in some of the heat.

Pre-Cooked Seasoned Chops

Go light on that Cayenne!

Din Din

Once they were done I served it all up with a little slab of butter for the squash. It was easy and Dahlicious and really quite well rounded.

Happy New Year!!