Rosemary Salmon with Balsamic Green Beans and Tomatoes

Rosemary-Salmon

My daughter can eat salmon any time, any where. For my last birthday, we were at Disneyland and had lunch at The Blue Bayou, a nice restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Little Miss O orders salmon, of course. When it arrives, she grabs it off of her plate and hoofs it down in 2 minutes flat, and eats it just like it is a burrito.

Needless to say, salmon is probably the most popular dinner in the Fearless Flying Kitchen.  This is also the dish that means I will always have a rosemary plant growing somewhere at my house. I don’t know what my family would do if salmon just up-and-disappeared one day.

I have made other (very delicious) versions of salmon, some with pesto and tomatoes, others with a miso glaze, but the hubs always tells me that this very simple preparation is the best. And I would have to agree! it is easy, simple and delicious.

We usually alternate the veggie that gets served along side. This time, I decided to fancy up a bag of green beans with a little balsamic glaze and grape tomatoes.  In the past, I have also added some chunks of goat cheese, which is always a plus in my book.

Now, I don’t think you can talk about salmon without bringing up the different types you can purchase and their overall controversial nature.  (Didn’t know salmon was controversial?! Now you do!) These two articles (one from The Cleveland Clinic, the other from The Washington State Dept of Health) do a great job with taking the research that is out there and outlining the pro’s and con’s to consider when choosing between wild or farmed salmon. In a nutshell, farmed fish is more readily available, costs less, has slightly more omega-3’s, and to some (self included) it taste better. But it also has a bit more saturated fat and calories, and with that extra fat, it stores more pollutants and carcinogens (such as PCBs). Either type of salmon is not considered to be high in mercury, with farmed salmon being lower in mercury than wild. Regardless of which option you choose, salmon has a lot of health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids (great for your brain, eyes and heart and just keeping inflammation down in general) and it is a great source of muscle building protein. So, I would recommend including salmon in your healthy diet, try the wild first, and if that isn’t possible, farmed is fine…but keep it to a weekly meal as opposed to a daily occurrence.

Rosemary Salmon and Balsamic Green Beans

Getting this salmon party started!

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees, and then prep your salmon. I always purchase salmon that has the skin still on, but it really doesn’t matter what type you purchase. If you do purchase the “skin-on” salmon, just make sure you discard the skin prior to eating. Most of the salmon is already de-boned that you purchase from Trader Joe’s, but I have, on occasion, come across some tiny bones, so I always rub my finger across each fillet to make sure I can’t find any hard spots.

Prepare your baking sheet. You can place the fillets directly on the sheet, or if you want an easier clean-up, place fillets on top of foil or parchment paper. Pour a little drizzle of Olive Oil over each fillet, and rub in. Then sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. As I previously said, I always have a rosemary plant (originally purchased in the Garden department of TJ’s) that I can go raid, but you can also purchase organic rosemary in a small package from the refrigerated section. Pop that bad boy in the oven for 15-18  minutes (depending on the size of the fillet). You’ll know it is finished if you insert a fork in the fillet and it flakes and will not appear “raw.” Know that there will be some carry-over cooking in the few minutes after it is removed from the oven, so if it is still slightly pink, that is ok. You will also notice that the white fat starts to appear on the top and sides of the filet.

While your salmon cooks, prepare your side items. For these green beans, I simple sautéed them in a little bit of Olive Oil for a few minutes, then added tomatoes and the Balsamic glaze. If you are following a low-carb diet, then your dinner would be done at this point. If you are a member of my family, you love your carbs, so we always have microwave brown rice in the freezer to serve alongside meals like this. Easy peasy.

Voila! Gourmet dinner that will impress, with minimal effort!

Rosemary Salmon

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 Salmon Filets
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary, chopped fine
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon filets on a baking sheet, skin side down (if there is skin). Run finger along the meat to make sure no bones are present. Drizzle a tsp of olive oil on each filet. Then adorn with rosemary, salt and pepper. Place in oven for 15-18 minutes, or until it no longer appears pink and “raw” on the inside. Remove from oven and let rest for about 3-5 minutes before serving.

Balsamic Green Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of Organic Green Beans
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp (approx) Balsamic Glaze

Directions:

Add a small amount of olive oil to a skillet and turn heat to medium-high. When hot, add green beans and sauté until they start to soften. Throw in cherry tomatoes and a squirt of balsamic glaze. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until tomatoes just barely start to break down. Add more or less balsamic glaze to taste.

Tortilla Crusted Chicken Tenders

Tortilla-Crusted-Chicken-Tenders-Main

Chicken tenders seem to be a classic food item that appear on kids menus across america. Often these crispy crowd pleasers are battered or breaded and deep fried (or at least pan fried!) Not necessarily something I want my kid having on a daily basis. They also are on the “no-no” list for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, due to the bread crumb coating.

But have no fear, the Fearless Flying Chef is here to rescue this disastrous meal!!

The first task at hand was to make it a meal that kids (and adults) with food allergies and sensitivities can enjoy. The second was to eliminate the deep fryer (because, let’s be honest, I don’t even own one and don’t plan on buying one). After a few tweaks to your standard chicken strips recipe, this one was definitely a keeper.

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I have made a version of this before with regular hummus and bread crumbs, and it was a hit. So I decided to give it a “South of the Boarder” twist with the Cilantro& Jalapeño Hummus as the binder and crushed White Corn Tortilla Chips as the breading. This makes for a slightly messy and little more involved process, but the end result is worth it!

Tortilla Crusted Chicken Tenders

Ingredients:

  • 8 Chicken Tenders (one package)
  • Half container of Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus
  • 2-3 Cups Tortilla Chips, Crushed
  • Finely Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a 9X12 glass baking dish by spraying lightly with your favorite cooking spray. I used coconut oil spray (my first time using this product), but also stock my cabinet with a sprayable Olive Oil.
  2. Crush tortilla chips (in food processor or manually) and pour out into a dish.
  3. Stir hummus well, then smother each chicken tender with hummus until covered. I used about half of a container for this. Then drudge the chicken tenders into the tortilla chips until covered. Place on prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese (lightly).
  4. Once all of the chicken is smothered and drudged and placed in the baking dish, place in oven in a center rack for ~ 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Turn once and sprinkle other side with cheese.
  5. Remove from oven and let rest ~5 minutes.

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I served this meal with Corn on the Cob, and honestly, had such high aspirations for making a delicious grilled corn. But instead, I went the lamest route possible and MICROWAVED it. Olive still loved it, and my husband and I ate it up just fine. But it probably would have been so much better if I grilled it for a few minutes too. I also heated up a can of Organic Black Beans and sautéed some zucchini and bell peppers in a little bit of Olive Oil as a side (with just some salt and pepper). Very simple and nutritious sides. We also had watermelon as an appetizer. It was intended to be served with dinner, but it never lasts long in our home. Definitely doesn’t last long enough for a picture!

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Bell Pepper and Steak Stir-Fry

 BELL-PEPPER-AND-STEAK

As much as I love to cook, some nights, I just want to pop something in the microwave or order take out. Call it laziness if you want. I call it just, being human. But, what I consider the ultimate, is when I can cook dinner from scratch that involves minimal effort on my part. My biggest TJ’s  “splurge” is usually on pre-cut meats and vegetables. I call it a splurge because it usually costs a few bucks more to get a food item processed. But those few minutes I am spared are well worth it! I mean, come on, the thought of making soup from scratch was a little daunting before I the wonderful Mirepoix Mix, am I right?? Another pre-sliced and diced item I regularly purchase is the Beef Steak Tips, which I decided to bust out for dinner tonight. You can, of course, always use regular tenderloin or sirloin, and just slice into chunks or strips.

When I think of “easy dinner,” my mind jumps right to clean up, which means my easy dinner usually involves no more than 1 pot or utensil. I have seen a bunch of one pot pasta dishes on Pinterest, and I’ll admit, I am a little nervous to try them. I just can’t wrap my head around how it would taste good to throw raw onions and uncooked pasta and tomatoes in a pot with water and have it com out tasting delicious. I hope to prove myself wrong in the future, but, For now, I’ll just stick to crock pots and woks.

Some of my favorite veggies to cook with beef  are bell peppers and onions. I often pair my carne asada with fajita style peppers and  onions. Same with sausages. I wonder why I even thought I would choose a different veggie for my easy mid-week stir fry? I am sure there are great combinations out there. What do you put in your stir-fry? Leave me a comment!

 

Bell Pepper and Steak Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 lb package of beef tips
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bag of microwave brown rice

Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar

Directions:

  • Put 1 Tbsp of oil in wok or large pan, and heat on hight. Once oil is hot, add onion and bell peppers and cook until they just start to get soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.
  • Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for sauce in a separate bowl.
  • Add other tbsp to pan, and add beef tips (salt and pepper to taste prior to cooking). Cook until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add cooked bell peppers and onions, diced tomatoes and sauce mixture cook for another 5 min. Sauce will thicken a little bit. Remove from heat and serve with your favorite whole grain rice. I prefer the frozen brown rice that can be microwaved for 3 minutes and serves two.


Estimated Nutrition Information Per Serving (does not include rice):
Calories: 316   Carbs: 18g   Fat: 17g   Protein: 24g   Sodium: 720 mg   Sugar: 7g

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

Background: I have been wanting to post a recipe for Stuffed Peppers for a long time on here. Only catch…I really didn’t have one that was just right. I would look up recipes online and they just wouldn’t be what I wanted. Some turned out  like meatloaf inside a pepper while others lacked flavor or didn’t have an ideal texture. One time I attempted to make stuffed peppers, the bell pepper was still very crunchy, so the next time I boiled the peppers before stuffing and baking, and that just removed some of the flavor.  I am happy to report that I finally figured it out (all by myself I might add!) and might have come up with the combination for the perfect stuffed pepper. Have you had any of these problems while making stuffed peppers in the past? Am I the only one?? Let me know in the comments below. 

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers with a simple side salad.***

Often, especially in January, I will ask my husband what he wants for dinner and his response is always “Something Healthy.” The first thing that pops into my mind is this delicious Veggie Quinoa Bowl that I make. Second is always Stuffed Peppers (and if you were curious what number three is, that would be my Lentil and Veggie Soup). The one thing that all of these dishes have in common is they are chock-full of vegetables.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 8.03.53 AMI always have some 96% ground beef on hand. I prefer to use this over other ground meat options. Higher % fat ground beef just is too fatty and needs to be drained before proceeding. And, yes, if you were wondering, this equates to me using a lower fat meat because I am lazy. I also sometimes feel that ground turkey ends up being too dry, and I usually don’t use meat substitute unless I am cooking for a vegetarian (but even then, I usually would just use beans or lentils). The 96% Lean Ground Beef also has a long shelf life because of how it is packaged, and so you can have it hanging out in your fridge for a while. If you don’t use it quickly it also freezes really well (just de-thaw in the fridge the night before you want to cook with it). I will use this for Stuffed Peppers, Meat Loaf, Pasta Sauce, Spanish Zucchini, and Mushroom Burgers.

IMG_0121Pasta Sauce is also another item always on hand in my kitchen. I usually like to make my own pasta sauce from scratch using canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil and oregano (and SALT). Mostly just keep it simple, but when I want to impress, I’ll follow this Buzzfeed Recipe for the Best Tomato Sauce, Which is pretty dang good. But it is time consuming, so in a pinch, it is always good to have a simple jar of tomato sauce on hand. You can also quickly turn it into pizza sauce when you add a half jar of tomato paste to it. I recently learned a trick from my mother-in-law, which is to sautée onion and brown ground beef in a pan and then just add some Tomato Basil Tomato Sauce form a jar, and it will taste very home-made and is very quick and easy.

My favorite thing about making Stuffed Peppers is it is a completely standalone dish. You don’t need much else to go along with it aside from a salad and maybe a breadstick if you want (which…My favorite comes in the bread section of Trader Joe’s, or you could make some using their Pizza Dough, like this recipe from Stick Baby and the Snail). It also isn’t too terribly labor intensive, and you can easily forget it once it goes in the oven.

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients:

  • Four Bell Peppers (Red, Yellow, Green, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 Jar of Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce
  • 1 lb 96% Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Zucchini, Diced
  • 1 Bag of Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Organic Breadcrumbs
  • Salt, Pepper, Basil and Garlic Powder to taste
  • Mozzarella Cheese (fresh or shredded)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown ground beef in skillet, once cooked through and brown, add diced zucchini and mushrooms. Break the mushrooms up into smaller pieces (you can either cut them even more before you add them, or just break them up in the pan while they cook).
  3. Once vegetables start to look tender, add about a half cup of marinara sauce and mix well. Just make sure everything is covered, so add a little bit more if you need to. Let that cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add breadcrumbs and mix well. The texture of the mixture should stick together and be very clumpy. Add additional breadcrumbs until this texture is achieved.
  5. Meanwhile, while all of that has been cooking, add about half the jar of pasta sauce to a large pyrex dish (9X12 or large enough to hold all of your peppers) and spread evenly. Prepare the peppers by slicking them in half long ways and removing the stem and seeds. Place them skin-side-down in the pasta sauce.
  6. Add a little bit of mozzarella cheese to the inside of each bell pepper half (if you want to elevate this dish, use fresh mozzarella on the inside. I had some on hand and it was delicious). Then fill the peppers with the meat and veggie mixture. Should be enough to fill all of the bell pepper halves, feel free to push the meat-veggie mix down if it is overflowing. Top bell peppers with more mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake for ~35-40 minutes at 375. Serve with a nice little salad and breadsticks or rice.

Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Agave-Maple Butter Sweet Potatoes and Zucchini

I have a friend. Let’s just call her Kellie. She has celiac disease, which means she cannot eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley). She consequently also has a hard time with dairy, so many of the meals we prepare together have to be both gluten-free and dairy-free. There always seems to be magic in the kitchen when we cook together. I am forced to come up with creative ways to prepare meals I normally make. We always end up with a delicious meal that is simple, lots of vegetables, interesting grains, and lean protein. It also ends up being fairly healthy too (except for that time we added bacon to our cauliflower and leek mashed potatoes…although that was pretty amazing)

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I love using pork because it is fairly inexpensive and you can purchase two tenderloins at Trader Joe’s for under $10. It is a perfect option for entertaining because it can feed quite a few people (you can feed probably 6 people with those two tenderloins). For some reason, I always have to pair pork with sweet potatoes, it just makes sense in my head. Lastly, I consulted Kellie for what veggie she would like, and she suggested Romanesco (those little fractal, lime green veggies that seem to be somewhere in between cauliflower and broccoli). My local TJ’s was fresh out of Fresh Romanesco, so we went with zucchini, one of my old stand-bys. Overall, the meal was a success. I tried something new for the baked sweet potatoes (Maple and Cinnamon Butter instead of just butter and brown sugar), which was a really nice treat. The bag of sweet potatoes is another great buy from TJ’s. There were 6 potatoes in there for less than $2, pretty great deal if you ask me!

Now, on to the process:

Pork Tenderloin and Glaze

You can make the glaze ahead of time , which is what I usually do when I make this. Refrigerate until ready to use. When you are ready to cook up the Pork Tenderloins, just give them a rub down with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  You can either combine the sea salt and pepper and oil and then rub it all together, or rub down with oil and then top with salt and pep. Either way, you’ll be fine. I use a large 9X12 pyrex dish for this. Another reason I love this meal is that you don’t have to marinate the meat for a long time prior to cooking. You don’t even need to prepare the glaze ahead of time either. The pork cooks for 10 minutes, and then you pour the glaze on top, so technically, you could prepare the glaze as the pork begins to cook. You’ll be done, start to finish in less than 30 minutes.

roasted zucchini

The zucchini was going to go in the over with the pork, so I prepared it very simply, with drizzles of Olive Oil, and fresh ground sea salt (or kosher salt) and pepper. I just periodically checked on the zucchini and tossed it as needed.

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I use to never make baked sweet potatoes (or regular potatoes) before I learned how easy it was in the microwave. Now, it is my go-to side dish. So quick and easy. Just rinse the potatoes well, poke them all over with a fork or knife, and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave the sweet potatoes (6 minutes for the first one, then add an additional 2 minutes for each additional potato) and use caution when removing, because they will be ridiculously hot.

Cinnamon Maple Butter

The Cinnamon maple butter was an experiment, and it was so incredibly successful, I feel like I need to make this by the vat full and swim in it. Just used 2 Tbsp Butter, 1 Tbsp Maple Agave Syrup (my personal favorite for taste and consistency, not because it is any more healthy than other syrup. They all are equally sugar-y. I am sure any maple syrup would be fine) and a few sprinkles of Cinnamon. Probably about 1/4 tsp. If I was making this in a larger portion, I probably would have used the stand mixer, but since my butter was soft already, it was easy to mix by hand.

Now is the part of my blog post that gets a little bit sad…

I was way too excited to eat this meal to remember to take a picture of the finished product.

But I assure you it looked colorful and beautiful and would make you salivate just by looking at it!

So, there you go. A super easy dinner that is perfect for entertaining on a budget and will be a breeze to prepare, even for a novice chef.

Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

2 Pork Tenderloins
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 Cup Apricot Preserves or Jam
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp Chicken Broth
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, Chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Coat/rub pork tenderloins with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place pork in the oven for 10 minutes.

In the mean time, prepare the glaze by combining apricot jam, dijon mustard, chicken broth, garlic and thyme. After the pork is in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and add glaze, then return pork to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145.  Remove, slice into 1/2 inch-1 inch thick slices, and drizzle additional glaze on top.

Microwave Sweet Potatoes with Agave-Maple Butter

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: (super) easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp Agave Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Rinse potatoes well and poke with a fork or knife, about 6 times all over. Cover with a damp paper towel and place on microwave-safe dish.  Microwave the sweet potatoes (6 minutes for the first one, then add an additional 2 minutes for each additional potato) and use caution when removing.

While potatoes are cooking, combine last three ingredients until well mixed. Once potatoes are done cooking and ready to be served, slice down the middle with a knife to expose flesh and top with butter.

Simply Roasted Zucchini

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

Three large zucchini or yellow squash
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425. Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch pieces. drizzle with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for ~20 minutes, turning as needed.