Tag Archives: wheat free

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce

If you haven’t noticed by now, I really like grilling vegetables (see Grilled Sweet Bell Peppers and Grilled Romaine Salad with Bacon and Bleu Cheese).  I think I’m drawn to doing this because roasting and grilling gives veggies another dimension of flavor you can’t achieve in other cooking methods.  It also is a low fat way to give your veggie more flavors.  With very little seasoning (if any at all) you can transform a bland vegetable into a vegetable with slightly more flavor.

I’ve always been a fan of eating artichokes.  I know some people have never even picked one up at the grocery store because they wouldn’t know how to go about cooking it or eating it.   Hopefully if you’re an artichoke virgin, this blog post helps alleviate some of those fears about artichokes.

First things first – prepping the artichoke:

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Each leaf on the artichoke has a little thorn at the tip of it, which makes them undesirable to handle.  Before steaming the artichoke, these spiky tips should be removed.  I use a serrated knife to cut off the tops of the artichokes.  I recommend a serrated knife as opposed to a regular knife because the leaves are rather tough when raw, and the serration help cut through the leaves easier.  I also trim up the stem at this point.  My only motivation behind it is so that it fits in the pot easier when I steam them.  Next, you should use a pair a scissors to remove the remaining spiky tips around the rest of the artichoke.

Once that is completed, place them in a pot with some water and steam them anywhere from 20-30 minutes.  The artichoke is ready when you can easily pierce the stem with a fork.

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Grilling the artichokes:
I started doing this about a year ago, and now that I’ve tried it, it’s my preferred method of cooking.  The ‘chokes are ready after being steamed, but I like taking it one step further and grilling them.

To do this, cut the ‘chokes in half and remove the heart.  Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper and make sure the flat surface of the ‘choke is covered (the part that will be touching the grill).  Put them on a grill with medium to medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes.  This part is to your own preference on how grilled/charred you like them.

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Traditionally, artichokes are served with some sort of dipping sauce.  Usually it’s a mayonnaise or aioli of some sort, or melted butter.  I wanted to change it up and make a healthier dipping sauce with flavors that compliment the artichoke well.

Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce:
Plain Greek Yogurt
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp dill
salt & pepper

Mix the ingredients above to desired consistency.  The lemon juice is meant to add flavor as well as thin the yogurt a bit so it’s not so thick and easier to dip into.

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There you have it, I hope you enjoy.  What other veggies do you like grilling?

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Green Onion Condiment

Hiya Everyone!  Well, today I’ve got a quick and easy recipe for you that may or may not blow your mind.  I know… the name is lame-o, but I did not know what else to name it.  In my family, we literally refer to it as “the green onion stuff.”  Since it’s essentially a condiment to add as a topper to different proteins and tasty nibbles like egg rolls, I gave it the ever-so-appropriate title of “Green Onion Condiment.”  Sometimes I lack imagination…GreenOnion3

This recipe is really easy – three ingredients.  Be warned, if you decide to double or even triple this recipe, the ratio of ingredients may not necessarily be the same.  The onion can double, triple and so on, but I caution you to use your best judgment in increasing the salt and oil ratios.  You’d probably be safe keeping the onion to salt ratio consistent, but there is no need to double and triple the oil.  A little oil can go a long way and this condiment isn’t meant to be overly oily.

Ingredients:
8 green onions (thinly sliced)
1 tsp salt
2 T canola or vegetable oil

I do not recommend substituting extra virgin olive oil or regular olive oil in this recipe.  These oils have different smoking points than canola and vegetable.  I cannot guaranty the results if you make an oil substitute.

Directions:
Thinly slice green onion.  Heat oil in a pan/pot until smoking.  (Yes, until it is smoking, that’s when you know it’s hot enough.  If not hot enough, you won’t get a flash cook on the onions.  You’ll just have greasy onions.)  Add salt to onion.  When oil is smoking, immediately pour it on the onion and mix.

Ta-da!  All done.  Fast. Easy. Flavorful.  Did I just make a new acronym?  FEF.  Move over Rachel Ray.

While this is something we usually only eat on Chinese food, I’m sure it’d be a yummy topping to many other things.

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What can you think of that this would be a great topping for?

Mangu – A Traditional Dominican Breakfast

One of the foods I wasn’t afraid to try while in the D.R. was Mangu.  Both places we stayed at served this food daily at breakfast.   This “mashed-potato” like food is a staple in the Dominican diet.  Most commonly served for breakfast, this hearty meal can keep you full for hours.  It’s most commonly served with Dominican sausage, queso frito (fried cheese) and eggs on top.

You won’t find me recommending this as a healthy food alternative because there is not really much healthy about it at all.  The Mangu itself isn’t so bad, but when you add the FRIED sausage, FRIED cheese, and FRIED eggs… things are starting to get a little heavy on the fat side.  One morning while in the DR I ate the full blown traditional breakfast and I immediately needed a nap.

That being said, this shouldn’t deter you from ever trying it.  It’s quite delicious. (How could it not be; Fried+Fried+Fried= Deliciousness.)  I think if you made the Mangu with poached eggs on top, omitted the sausage and fried cheese, this would be a healthy enough breakfast.

If you have a mortar and pestle, I suggest using it. I do not own one so I used our mashed potato utensil and a bowl.  It still got the job done.

Mangu Recipe:
2 unripe plantains (peeled and quartered into 2-3 in pieces, see photos)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil or butter (margarine)
salt
½ onion fried

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Directions:
In a large pot of water, boil plantains for approximately 20 minutes until they are cooked.  Reserve 1 cup of the plantain water.  Transfer plantain pieces to a bowl, and begin mashing plantains (just as if you were making mashed potatoes).   Add in the olive oil and reserved water until desired consistency is achieved.

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In a skillet, add some olive oil and fry the onion.  Top the finished Mangu with onion.

Since I did not have access to queso frito or Dominican sausage in Reno, NV.  I opted to cook up some linguica and attempted to fry a random Latin cheese (it worked, but it’s not as good as the queso frito – the cheese that was meant to be fried).

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I hope you enjoy.  Be honest – who has eaten such a rich breakfast before it called for immediate nap time?

Cucumber Noodle Salad

Often times, I crave pasta at lunch.  I don’t know what it is about twirling noodles on a fork that I find so appealing.  But since I try to be sensible about what I eat, I know that a daily dose of pasta probably isn’t the best choice to be making for the waist line.

I was sitting at work one day, pondering the possibilities of lunch, when the only thing on my mind was pasta… pasta… and pasta.  UGH!  There has to be a way I can combat this pasta craving with a healthier substitute.  (LIGHT BULB)

A few weeks back, I had encountered this handy little tool at William’s Sonoma.  It is a julienne peeler.  Hmm… well that could enable me to make noodles out of nearly any veggie.  An idea was hatched… I will try my hand at making cucumber noodle salad.

Ingredients:
2 English cucumbers
½ red onion
salt
¼ C rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more depending on desired spiciness)
¼ c water
toasted sesame seeds

Directions:  Peel English cucumber lengthwise to create long “noodles”.  Continue around the cucumber until you’ve reached the core, do not peel the seeded portion. (I just save the middle of my cucumber and cut it into slices for a snack).  In a bowl, salt the cucumber noodles to help extract the water.  If you have time, allow this to sit refrigerated for up to an hour.  (I gave myself about 15 minutes, and my “noodles” were a little soggy, but still eatable).

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While cucumber noodles are refrigerating, thinly slice the onion.  Shoestring slices are preferable to match the noodle consistency of the cucumber.  Blanch sliced onions (this step is optional, I don’t like an overly strong onion flavor because it literally gives me a headache when I eat it, I’ve found that if I just shock them with some boiling water, then drain that the flavor is more palatable).

Mix together ingredients for dressing: rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, sugar and water.  Once cucumber noodles are done “draining” combine it with red onion and dressing.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve.

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Chinese Chicken Maifun Salad

Sadly, this week, I have no funny back story for this recipe.  There are lots of versions of Chinese chicken salad out there, and this is merely one of them.  This was a re-engineered recipe of a Chinese chicken salad I’ve enjoyed over the years from Flaming Wok at Meadowood Mall.

I know, it may seem silly to reconstruct a salad made from a Chinese fast food place, but it was one of my favorites, so I had to try.  Plus, every time I would buy this salad I thought, why can’t I just make this?  It’s not complex; very few ingredients.

If you take anything away from this blog post, I hope it’s that you learn the ease and deliciousness of poaching chicken as a cooking method.  And seeing how fun it is to fry maifun noodles.

Ingredients:
3-4 chicken tenderloins; poached; then thinly sliced
1 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
Maifun noodles (cook as many as desired, sometimes you can get carried away cooking them because it’s so fun!)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 green onions chopped (optional)

For the Dressing:
2 Tsp. Sesame Oil
1/4 Canola Oil (salad oil)
1/4 Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Sugar

– Directions –
To Poach Chicken: Boil a pot of water large enough to house chicken pieces. Chicken can be frozen or thawed.  Once water is boiling, drop in chicken, and turn heat down to a temperature where the water is swirling, but not boiling. For frozen chicken, you may have to leave it in for 15 minutes, thawed chicken; it should cook within 5-6 minutes.

To fry maifun noodles:  Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a pot.  Temperature should reach 375-400 degrees, but if you don’t have a thermometer, it’s OK. Monitor the oil, and periodically drop in a bit of small noodle.  If it sizzles and rises to the top fast, your oil is ready.  Proceed to cook as many noodles as desired.

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Dressing:  Combine ingredients, and mix thoroughly.

Assemble the salad:  Combine thinly sliced lettuce with chicken, and sesame seeds.  Just before serving, toss in dressing and maifun noodles.  Serve immediately.

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I hope you enjoy this simple salad.  Let me know what you think.

Huevos Rancheros – Costa Rican Style

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Costa Rica not once, but twice in the last few years.  This country is enchanting.  The views are breathtaking; you can get a variety of beaches, rainforests, and volcanoes.CostaRica5

You will never be bored when visiting this country.  Take a look at this website to see some of the possibilitiesCostaRica1CostaRica4

On top of the amazing scenery and activities, the people of Costa Rica, (aka Ticos and Ticas) are through and through some of the nicest people I’ve ever met while travelling.  Both trips to Costa Rica have been fun filled and adventurous.  I highly recommend adding this country to your bucket list if you haven’t already been there.

On my last trip there, I had the opportunity to stay at this gorgeous rental home in Domincal, CR.  The host of this vacation home employed the services of a personal chef while I was staying there.  One morning, this chef made what he called Huevos Rancheros Costa Rican style.


Well, what that means is he used Lizano salsa and black beans to create his style of huevos rancheros.  This is the country’s beloved hot sauce, which is not really that heat spicy.  For those of you who have been to Costa Rica and tried this salsa before, would you agree that it’s quite provocative?  It definitely has it’s own flavor that isn’t replicated by anything I’ve tried in the US.

I liked this salsa so much that I brought it back as souvenirs to my family and friends.  (What a boring souvenir hunh?)  If you’re planning on visiting Costa Rica soon, trying this salsa is a must, and if you like it, you can bring it back and execute this recipe. Or if you’re not going to Costa Rica anytime soon, you can buy it on Amazon.

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Or, if by chance you were like me and impulsively bought a ton of it and brought it back, now you are running out of ideas on how to use it, here you go.

Ingredients:
1 15 oz. can black beans
5-6 diced sweet bell peppers (or 1 green or red bell pepper)
½ cup diced onion
1 celery rib chopped
corn tortillas
eggs (to serve on top fried or poached)
¼ to 1/3 Lizano salsa (depending on desired consistency)

Directions:  Start by sautéing your chopped peppers, celery and onions in some olive oil on a medium to medium-high heat.  Once they soften, add in the black beans. Add the Lizano salsa.  Toss to coat; turn heat to low.

Warm tortillas and prepare eggs to desired doneness.  Poached or fried will work. Add the bean, veggie mixture to the top of the warmed tortillas and top with eggs. You can top it off with a little more Lizano as well.

In the picture mine are fried because I failed miserably at poaching them.  Poaching is healthier. Overall this is a fairly healthy recipe.

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Serve and enjoy!

Have any of you tried Lizano salsa before? How else do you like to use this Costa Rican salsa?

Grilled Sweet Bell Peppers

Summer is rapidly approaching which means it’s time to have fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.  I think summer is Reno’s best season.  There is so much to do in this area when it comes to outdoor activity.  Check out Josh Vega’s blog and Robin’s blog to check in on fun things to do in and around Reno and Tahoe.  If you’re new to Reno and/or Tahoe, try your best to not believe what you see on TV (ie Reno 911).  This area has so much more to offer.

Another thing we can all look forward to this summer is the extended daylight and warm evenings that are perfect for grilling on the barbeque.  Not to mention, we’re all gearing up for those fit summer bodies, right?  If you missed jumping on New Year’s Eve Resolution losing weight bandwagon, it’s not too late.

We’re in early April, you’ve still got time to tighten, tone, lose weight, whatever your goal may be before summer is upon us.  Zumba by Andrea Tibaduiza is a great place to go if you dread treadmills, weights, and or anything else that resembles a traditional gym.  If you do like more of a traditional, but would like to spice it up a little, I highly recommend a visit to Camie Cragg Fitness.  The energy and enthusiasm in this gym is infectious, encouraging and fun!

What I have to share with you today is an easy veggie side dish that will not only help you support that goal of a hotty summer body, but it will also get you to use your barbeque grill that has patiently waited your return all winter.

“But I don’t have a grill….” You say?  No problem.  This recipe can also be done in the oven on a cookie sheet under your broiler or at an oven temp of 450-475.  Results are nearly the same; the only difference is that flavor you can only get from the grill.

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Ingredients:
Sweet Bell Peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper (optional)

Directions for grill:

  1. Peppers need zero prep other than putting them on metal skewers.  I do it this way because they’re easier to flip once on the BBQ.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over peppers.  They don’t need much, I don’t measure this; it is just by sight.  Not drenched, but not dry.
  3. Put them on the grill (grill should be at medium to medium-high heat).

Once they char on one side, turn them over and cook until charred on the opposite side.  When desired doneness is achieved, remove from grill.

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These veggies appear burnt, but trust me, it’s the char that really makes your taste buds do back flips.  Note the description – these are SWEET peppers, not spicy ones.

Let me know what you think!  Happy charring!