Broccoli & Snap Pea Salad

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Looking for a perfect side dish to bring to your family cook out? Having some friends over for some football and BBQ? Whatever the occasion, this side dish pairs perfectly with everything on a hot summer night! I had brought this to my in laws birthday dinner, they grilled some brats, steaks, and salmon and had some corn on the cob and amazing hash brown casserole (I am getting that recipe!). This cool and crisp salad was the perfect accompaniment with the hot off the grill meats and casserole. The dressing is light and doesn’t give you that “I just ate a bowl of fat” feeling most summer salad dishes tend to give you. The best thing about this dish is it takes no time at all to make! The longest time spent making this was cooking the bacon!

I derived this recipe from multiple google search results and combined a few of my favorite ones and added my own touches and substitutions. Feel free to add or remove anything, it’s fun to be creative!

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Let’s get started! Take your favorite pan for cooking bacon (you know you have one) and fry up your bacon. I cooked mine well done, the crispier the better! While your bacon is frying, go ahead and cut up your broccoli. I call the tops “trees”. You want to cut all of the way up the stem to the trees and even cut some of those to make small bite size trees. Place in a large bowl. Cut up your onion into bite size pieces and place in the bowl. Add your craisins, cashews, and snap peas. I broke my snap peas into smaller pieces, most were torn into two to three pieces per pod. Once your bacon is done, place on a plate lined in paper towels to soak up excess grease. Once cooled, crumble that crispy bacon into bacon bits and add to your bowl, you can try to resist eating some, but it won’t work. Mix well, add more cashews or craisins if needed. I am big on ratio’s and I like everything to be evenly placed in the salad, so I ended up adding a little more of each.

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I used a special vinegar that I purchased at a small shop in Sanibel Island, FL. White Jalapeño Lime Balsamic Vinegar… fancy I know. It gave the dressing a little more flavor and turned out really good! You can buy these online and they come in all different flavors and sizes. If you don’t have any special vinegar, just use all white wine vinegar. Take a bowl and mix up your mayo, vinegar and spices. Taste before mixing with your dry ingredients to make sure it’s to your liking. I ended up adding a little more vinegar and salt to my dressing. Once your dressing is acceptable pour in a little at a time and mix evenly. If you want a lighter dressed salad you don’t need to use all of the dressing. I ended up leaving a little bit out.

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Cool in the fridge for a few hours to get a little more flavor! Serve cold and enjoy!

What you’ll need:
For the salad:
1lb bacon, fried extra crispy and crumbled (center cut is good)
4 heads of broccoli, cut into small bite sized trees
2 cups of sugar snap peas, broken into 2-3 pieces per pod
1/2 red onion, diced
1-1½ cups cashews ( I used salted and halved)
1 cup dried cranberries (I added a little more for ratio purposes)
For the dressing:
1 cup olive oil based mayo
3 tbsp white jalapeño lime balsamic vinegar (if you don’t have anything similar, just use white wine vinegar)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

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Seared Ahi Tuna

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I am a sucker for anything seafood. I love ahi tuna, and I’ve always wanted to try it homemade. This is super easy and really not very expensive considering you will have enough to feed at least two people. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first, I’ve been living right by the ocean for the past 4 years and have gotten used to very fresh, right off the boat kind of seafood. So, going to the seafood counter at our local Kroger in Northern Kentucky definitely took some convincing to myself. Of course, I had to ask where they got the tuna steaks from and if they were fresh or previously frozen. (This is always important to me, you will not have the same end result when cooking previously frozen fish, I guarantee you!) After confirming that they were fresh and the color looked really good to me (you can always tell by the color of salmon, tuna, and mahi if they are good quality) I decided to go for it! And I was not disappointed!

The reason why I seem so anal about the quality of the tuna is because ahi tuna is pan seared for just a minute or two on each side, it is not fully cooked. I would say it’s close to medium rare, but more on the rare side. You do not want to eat anything like this unless you know it’s a good fresh piece of fish, or your stomach will have you locked up in the bathroom all night with food poisoning or a nasty stomach bug!

Ok, now that my health inspection- germ freaky rant is done, now we can talk about the good stuff!

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Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, taste test it and add more honey or tamari if you want it a little more sweet or a little more salty. Take two tbsp and set aside. Take your tuna steak and place in a ziploc bag and pour in the sauce, marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once marinated sprinkle the steak with salt, pepper, and a decent amount of toasted (or regular if you cant find them toasted) sesame seeds. Press down on the seeds slightly, to help them stick on the steak.

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Take your pan and place the oil. Swirl to coat, and put it on medium high to high heat. Wait until the pan is hot then pan sear the tuna 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Set on cutting board.

Bring out your greens, avacado, scallions and extra sauce. Place your greens on a plate, then your avacado, then take your ahi tuna and thinly slice lengthwise. Place your tuna over your salad. Drizzle the extra sauce over top of your salad and tuna. Take a lemon wedge and lightly squeeze over top, if you wish. Serve.

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That’s it!! super easy and fast, not to mention healthy! I like to eat mine with a side of white rice. Next time I think I’ll try an Ahi Poke Bowl! If you’ve never had one you’ve gotta try it, Salt Life Food Shack has a pretty mean one!

What you’ll need:
For the Sauce:
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp finely grated ginger (or powder)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp low sodium tamari (you can also substitute with low sodium soy sauce)
1 tbsp honey (I may have added a tad bit more after my taste test)
2 teaspoon Siracha sauce (I like it spicy!)
1 tbsp gyoza sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
**You can find all or most of these sauces in the asian aisle at your local grocery store**
For the rest:
One tuna steak, raw and not previously frozen (See rant at top for tips)
Salt and pepper
Sesame seeds, preferably toasted
Field greens
Avacado, diced
White Rice or your favorite kind of rice on the side

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Chicken Salad from Scratch!!

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When I think of summertime, I think of sun, pools, beach and always having fresh lemonade, fruit, and cold sandwiches on hand! This chicken salad is perfect after a long day in the sun and you cannot beat how fresh it tastes! You can put it on bread to make a sandwich, you can spoon it on top of a salad, you can make lettuce cups with it (definitely recommended!). This recipe makes a lot of chicken salad so leftovers leave room for a variety of options to use with it.

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To get started, boil your chicken in a large pot for 20-25 minutes or until the middle is no longer pink. Drain and set aside to cool. The longest part of this meal is the prepping! Chop up your celery (i like to add the leaves), onion, grapes, chicken, and fresh herbs. I mixed them up prior to adding my wet ingredients.

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In a separate bowl, mix together your yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, spicy dijon mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper, cajun and cayenne pepper spices. You can substitute sour cream or buttermilk instead of yogurt if you wish. Whisk together well, then taste it before mixing in the large bowl. Mine was too bitter for me so i added lots more brown sugar until I was content with what I tasted.

When mixing the wet ingredients to the dry, do a folding technique to prevent the mixture from falling apart and being over mixed.

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If you prefer your chicken salad as a sandwich I would highly recommend toasting your bread and adding some spinach or spring greens on there!! Of course you don’t ever want to deny any extra vegetables! Enjoy with some chips or fresh fruit.

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What you’ll need:

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken breast, boiled and cubed
  • 2 stalks (to 3 Stalks) Celery, Chopped
  • 3 whole Green Onions, Chopped
  • 2 cups (to 3 Cups) Grapes, Halved (green and purple)
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt Or Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  •  A Small Handful Of Fresh Dill and Parsley, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon (to 4 Tablespoons) Brown Sugar
  •  Juice Of One Lemon
  •  Kosher Salt  and Black Pepper To Taste
  •  Cayenne and Cajun Seasonings To Taste

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Healthified Taco Salad

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Most people love taco salad. But let me tell you, just because the word “salad” is in the sentence does NOT mean it’s good for you!! I did some research and on average, a taco salad at your local restaurant will cost you almost 1,000 calories!! Not to mention about 57g of fat and almost 2,000g of sodium!!! If you’re familiar with weight watchers, that’s about 23 points! Absolutely disgusting!! Who needs all of that when you can make a healthier, less calorie and fat version at home? And let me tell you, it will taste better than the one you buy at the restaurant! Not to mention it’s super easy to make and you will save money and have left overs!

To get started, preheat your oven to 350°. Take your shells out to make them closer to room temperature. I chose to use Jimmy Dean‘s sausage turkey crumbles as my meat choice. It’s much lower in fat and I think it has more flavor than ground beef. Once it’s preheated, bake the shells as directed, the instructions are very easy to do! 8-10 minutes (i think mine was closer to 12 because I like my shell crispy, but be careful not to burn it!!)

In a skillet, cook your turkey crumbles, no need for any oil or pam with these. Next add your seasonings, you can use taco seasoning or i use my own mix (pretty much the same as taco seasoning) which is cajun, cumin, cayenne, chili, onion, garlic powders, and pepper. Add your salsa, I also added a little queso for some texture and flavor and a little bit of shredded Monterrey jack cheese last until it melts.

Once your shell is cooked let sit for a few minutes (it’s very hot and you don’t want your lettuce to wilt!) Build your salad by adding your lettuce, then turkey mixture, then a dallop of sour cream on top! My picture is a little messy looking because I was very hungry and I built my salad backwards! Lettuce ended up being on top so then I just mixed it all together. Needless to say I need to start working on my presentations more! You can use your favorite type of lettuce, I chose red leaf lettuce because that’s my favorite! It lasts longer and it carries many more nutrients than iceberg.

I did the math and this salad will run you about 340 calories. This is also depending on how much of the toppings you use, the more toppings the more calories. In my opinion, this salad tastes better, fresher, and healthier than the one you would buy at a restaurant. Not to mention the average calories you would save are about 660! Half of the recommended daily calorie allowance, that’s pretty insane! Now you have room for that dessert you always crave or that glass of wine you now have room for 🙂

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What you’ll need:

  • Azteca taco salad shells (you can find these by the butter and cream cheeses in the refrigerated section)
  • Jimmy Dean’s sausage turkey crumbles (in a bag) or your choice of meat 1/2-1 cup
  • (I don’t ever measure my seasonings so this is an estimate) 1 tsp each of cumin, cayenne, cajun, chili, garlic, and onion powder and pepper to taste
  • your favorite salsa, I use Pace
  • Newman’s Own salsa con queso 2 tbsps
  • Shredded Monterrey jack cheese a small hand full
  • Daisy Light sour cream 1tbsp
  • As much as you can fit of your favorite kind of salad, I  used red leaf lettuce (packed with vitamins!)