Mexican Salmon with Quinoa and a Strawberry Corn Salad

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Trader Joe’s is a wonderful place. So many delicious snacks, chocolate covered nuts, easy and tasty frozen meals for nights when you don’t have time to spare and all at really great prices! I did my meal shopping there this week and bought some really nice looking salmon that was labeled as “southwestern salmon”. It was seasoned already, and it inspired me to make a healthier Mexican meal.

Last night, I cooked up the salmon with some quinoa, and a strawberry, corn, and spinach salad. Here is what I did:

FOR THE SALMON

Ingredients
2 Trader Joe’s southwestern salmon filets
1/4 lemon
2 tbsp Trader Joe’s chunky salsa
salt and pepper

Directions
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a glass baking pan with aluminum foil, place salmon filets in the pan. Squeeze the 1/4 lemon over the top of each and top with 1 tbsp of salsa, each. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.

 

FOR THE SALAD

Ingredients
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup fresh strawberries, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cubed farmer cheese
1 ear of corn
2 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
garlic clove, pressed

Directions
Shuck the corn, then wrap the corn, seasonings, and butter into a tight foil pouch. Bake in the 450 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. Let it cool a bit, then cut the kernels off and reserve the butter and seasoning mixture. Pile the salad with spinach then layer on the strawberries, cheese, and corn. Pour the butter mixture over the top.

 

FOR THE QUINOA

I used Trader Joe’s white quinoa and prepared it in a rice cooker. 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Next, I seasoned it with a little cumin and a little cayenne pepper. To top it off, I poured a little leftover cheese dip on top (we were doing pretty well with the healthy thing until that part, weren’t we?)

 

Plate it all together and enjoy! If I may say so, it was quite tasty and satisfying and I did not feel like I needed to be carted away from the dinner table in a wheelbarrow like I normally do after eating Mexican food.

What is your favorite way to enjoy Mexican while keeping the calories down?

 

 

 

Delicious Sandwich, Dumb Name

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What I Ate:

Harvest Jammer Sandwich

This sandwich is one of my favorites. I recently made it right before going out to a fun tiny concert at Smith’s Olde Bar. The bands were Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers and Union Apollo (or Apollo Union) opened for them. Loved both bands and had a blast!

So, before doing a little white girl dancing, I needed to get in some protein and carbs to make sure I could keep my energy up the moves. This sandwich is the perfect solution for that. It never disappoints! I first had this sandwich in college at Daylight Donuts in Statesboro, GA. They called it the “Harvest Jammer”, which is just a terribly cheesy name–but it’s memorable, so I kept that for my version too. I’m not sure if this is exactly how Daylight Donuts makes their version, but here’s my spin on the yumminess:

Ingredients
8 slices Bakery fresh Italian bread, sliced into desired sandwich thickness
1 lb Thinly sliced smoked, good quality deli turkey
1/4 lb Smoked cheddar cheese, sliced
1/3 cup whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup craisins, finely chopped
1 green apple, cored and sliced into 1/4 in thick circular slices
Butter or olive oil for toasting

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush butter or oil on one side of 4 of the slices of bread, place butter side down on a baking sheet. Layer on an even amount of turkey and cheese on each, then add equal amounts of the apple slices. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and craisin pieces and mix until it looks sort of pink. On the remaining 4 slices, evenly spread a generous amount of the cream cheese mixture. Place on top of the other half of the sandwich, brush with butter or oil and bake for about 10 minutes or just until bread gets toasted and slightly golden and cheese is melted.

Tastes pretty dang good with a local Atlanta IPA, “Hoplanta” from Red Brick Brewery¬†and some extra crunchy potato chips.

 

 

French Toast with Warm Berry Compote

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What I Ate:

French Toast with Berry Compote, Powdered Sugar and Syrup

FOR THE TOAST

Ingredients
4 large slices of bakery fresh Italian bread (I realize French bread would make more sense)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Directions
Whisk together everything except the bread in a shallow baking dish, then soak the bread in a single layer for about couple minutes on each side. Heat a lightly greased griddle over medium-low heat. Cook slowly until the first side becomes golden brown and lightly crispy. Flip, and cook until that side is also golden brown.

FOR THE BERRY COMPOTE

Ingredients
1 cup frozen (or fresh) mixed berries
3 tbsp simple syrup

Directions

Heat a small sauce pot with about 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. You will only need 3 tbsp of syrup, so if there is any extra, set aside for sweetening drinks or something. Add in the berries and cook just until warm. You want most of the berries to stay intact, but it is OK if some of them become a little squishy looking (I know that sounds suuuuper appetizing!)

Serve warm french toast topped with berry compote and a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a little drizzle of good maple syrup.

Enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala

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What I Ate:

Chicken Tikka Masala

FOR THE CHICKEN

Ingredients
1 lb chicken breasts, chopped into 1.5″ cubes
5 tsp masala seasoning
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup prepared tomato sauce
1/3 cup cream

Directions
Mix together the masala, curry, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and yogurt in a bowl. Stir in the chicken chunks so they are evenly coated in the masala mixture and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator over night.

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Chicken chunks cooking away

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, once it is nice and hot, add in the chicken chunks and cook through. Pour in the chicken broth and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Pour in the tomato sauce and the cream and stir to combine the sauces.

FOR THE VEGETABLES

Ingredients
3 large carrots, chopped into 1 in chunks
2 new potatoes, chopped into 1 in chunks
1 cup green peas
2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth

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Vegetables before the peas are added

Directions
Toss carrots and potatoes in lemon juice, salt, pepper, and curry. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, saute the garlic until it starts to sizzle. Cook the carrots and potatoes until they are soft. Add in the peas at the last-minute.

Serve with naan, cous cous, heap on the vegetables over the cous cous, then spoon a generous portion of the chicken and sauce over the veggies and cous cous.

Salmon with Sauteed Kale and Rice

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What I Ate:

Salmon with Sauteed Kale and Rice

This salmon dish was so easy and delicious! Mama told me about this one and I’m not sure where she found it, but it’s totally worth making.

FOR THE SALMON

Ingredients
1 lb salmon fillet
1/3 cup sour cream (light is fine) or 1/3 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons onions, finely minced
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (light is fine)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
paprika
Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
If frozen, partially thaw fillets and cut into serving size pieces.
Place in a greased baking dish.
Combine sour cream or yogurt, mustard, onion, dill, and mayonnaise.
Season with salt and pepper.
Spread mixture over fish.
Bake 20 minutes per inch of thickness of fish if frozen or 10-12 minutes if thawed.
When just done, sprinkle with the cheeses and a dash of paprika.
Broil 1 minute or until the cheese is bubbly and flecked with brown.
Serve with lemon wedges.

FOR THE KALE

Ingredients1 bunch kale, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 onion, minced
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water

Directions
Heat olive oil over medium low heat. Sautee the onions and then add the garlic. Add in the kale and toss until it wilts a bit. Add the vinegar, water, and sugar and toss.

Business Woman Lunch Specials

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For the past two weeks, I’ve been out of town for work. It’s pretty nice to be flown to another city, put up in a room with a king bed and view! I have the uncanny ability to be able to sleep pretty much anywhere, so the fact that I’m not in my own bed for weeks at a time doesn’t really phase me, nor does the driving of a rental car (in fact, it’s way cleaner than my car and I love it!), not even living out of a suitcase bothers me much because I have to hand it to myself, I did an excellent job packing.

Loving travel in general comes in handy when you’re on a trip for work–but there are a few things I do wish were here with me:

1. Weezy. The bed may be cooler and cleaner without her, but I miss my sweet dog and can’t wait to pick her up soon! Her furry face and wiggly butt really put a smile on my face and make walks in the nice weather 100xs better.

2. A kitchen. Restaurants are great, and I love to go out to eat and try new foods, but after 13 days of restaurant food–I’m spent. It seems most food in restaurants is saltier than what I make at home. I have to ration my bottles of water for fear of breaking into the $7 bottles of water calling my name on the nightstand! Plus, I just love cooking so I can’t wait to get back it.

3. And of course, my friends and family. This is a great city with gorgeous weather and adorable shops and restaurants, complete with beautiful river and ocean views. I’d love to share my trip with those I love. Also, it sure would save my phone battery from all the photos and Face Timing!

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But, since I will be here a while longer, here’s to new friendships, room service and enjoying business women’s lunch specials!

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Shrimp and Green Pea Risotto

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What I Ate:

Shrimp and Green Pea Risotto

This is a super simple recipe but it tastes flavorful and is fun to eat.

Ingredients
1 lb peeled deveined shrimp
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 cups frozen green peas
1/2 cup risotto (or cous cous)
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions
Sautee onions in olive oil until they begin to soften. Add garlic and give the pan a stir. Add your shrimp and cook until they turn pink and are cooked through. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, toast cous cous until they are just very slightly golden brown (if you are using risotto, skip this step). Add in chicken broth and salt and cook to desired texture. Stir in frozen peas to take the chill off. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Remove the shrimp, onions, and garlic from the sautee pan and add them to the risotto or cous cous mixture. Enjoy!

Pomegranate Brownies

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I love brownies. What’s not to love? Sweet, rich, chocolately goodness! In my family, we have a tried and true brownie recipe that my Mama has made for as long as I can remember. In fact, I think I can blame her for my love of brownies since she has admitted to baking and eating these multiple times while pregnant with both me and my sister.

When I was home for Christmas, my mama gave me a pomegranate. They are so delicious and excellent for your health. If you like tart fruit, pomegranate seeds are great for snacking. I had quite a few seeds so I decided to make use of some of them aside from snacking so why not make pomegranate brownies!

Pomegranate Brownies

Ingredients
2, 1 ounce squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Pomegranate syrup*

Directions
Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over hot water. Cream butter and sugar together, then add the eggs and beat well. Add in the chocolate, vanilla, and flour and mix well. Pour into a greased 8″x8″x2″ pan and pour the pomegranate syrup over the top. Take a butter knife or spatula and twirl through the batter and syrup to create ribbons throughout. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool and then cut into 12 squares. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of fresh pomegranate arils.

Pomegranate Syrup

Ingredients
1 cup pomegranate juice (you can use bottled or do like I did and blend pomegranate arils then strain out the seeds)
1/3 cup white sugar

Directions
Heat juice and sugar in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir often, allowing the mixture to cook for about 20 minutes longer. It will be ready once the syrup has thickened a little and been reduced by half.

Fake Baked Empanadas

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I got the idea for these from a Pillsbury Biscuits commercial. They made “Unsloppy Joes” that looked pretty tasty so I decided to make my own but put a Mexican spin on them because I love Mexican food and pretty much anything spicy. Fair warning: these are not fancy food. I like fancy food most of the time, but sometimes a girl needs a little bit of white trash food.

Ingredients
1 can large biscuits
1/3 lb lean ground beef
1/3 cup enchilada sauce
1 packets taco sauce (I’m a sucker for Taco Bell so I used a few leftovers I had from that fine establishment)
1 onion, chopped
Shredded cheese (or really any kind you might like in a Mexican dish)

Side dishes: Seasoned black beans, Spanish Rice, and a little salad with salsa and sour cream on top.

Directions
Preheat oven to canned biscuit package directions. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Sautee onion in a little bit of olive oil until softened, then add ground beef and brown. Drain the fat off of the beef once cooked through. Pour in the enchilada and taco sauces and shredded cheese and stir to combine. Roll each biscuit as thin as you can get them with a rolling pin. Place a heaping tablespoon on the beef mixture in the center of the biscuit and seal the edges–they might come undone–all of mine did but that is why the foil is there. Bake per biscuit package directions. Serve with whatever side dishes you think would be the most delicious, and if you’re feeling extra trashy, get more Taco Bell taco sauce and dunk your fake empanadas in it as you eat.