Tag Archives: quick meals

A Fancy Salad Made With The Simplest Ingredients

9 Sep

Looking for a quick & healthy lunch or dinner idea? Try this simple but hearty salad with chicken, diced apples, almonds, cranberries, pinenuts & cheese (mozzarella & cheddar). Serve with a honey mustard or balsamic dressing.

I chose the ingredients based on items I had in my fridge & pantry. Feel free to substitute based on what you have.



Cedar Planked Salmon with Mango-Kiwi Salsa, Angel Hair Pasta and A Cheesy, Nutty Salad

27 May

So my oldest baby girl started this intense 2 week swimming lesson this past Monday. The class requires her to be in the pool precisely at 5pm. Which means both my hubby and I have been quite busy adjusting our schedules to get her there on time. Is it an adjustment? Yes! Has there been a total wrench in routine? Yes! However, as a person who did not learn to swim (I know, I know, shame on me), I think it’s of the upmost importance that my children learn to swim. Not to mention, at least three of my immediate neighbors have pools and my child has already been to her share of pool parties. The point is my children are required to learn to swim.

Anyway, as usual I digress.  I said all of that to say, I didn’t get to cook dinner for 3 days. Monday didn’t matter as I had made plenty on Sunday. However, Tuesday and Wednesday I had to succumb to lures of Fast Food.

By Thursday I knew that I could not eat another greasy meal. I was already starting to feel bloated, lethargic and energy deprived. I wanted some real food that would tantalize and excite my tastebuds without making my esophagus feeling like a oily slip and slide.

So after looking through my recipes I decided I would make Salmon with a Mango-Kiwi salsa.  I served it with angel hair pasta in a marinara sauce and a simple salad topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and praline coated pecans.  It’s quick but satisfying to the palate.  The fruit salsa is a nice addition and really adds a nice summery touch to the salmon.  The salmon recipe is one that I got out of Cooking Light Magazine many years ago.  My version is slightly altered as I like to make it on the grill using cedar planks.  The cedar gives the fish a nice taste that compliments the fruit.  

  • Salmon:
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dry italian herbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon herbed sea salt (or regular salt)
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • Cedar Planks
  • Relish:
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled mango
  • 1/2 cup cubed peeled kiwifruit
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • Soak Cedar-Plank for about 30 min in water or according to directions.
  • To prepare salmon, combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag; seal. Marinate 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
  • While fish marinates, heat grill to 400 degrees.
  • Remove fish from bag, discarding marinade.  Place salmon filets on the cedar board.
  • Place planked salmon on the grill and cook for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
  • While fish cooks, prepare the relish. Combine mango and the remaining ingredients. Serve over fish.

As for the pasta it was a simple Angel hair pasta with a fresh marinara sauce that I buy pre-made.  It’s just a tad more expensive than the jar sauce but I find it to be worth it when I’m pressed for time and just don’t feel like making my own sauce.  I also spiced it up by adding fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of herb olive oil and freshly shredded parmesan cheese.  Yummy, is the word for this pasta.  Plus my oldest daughter loves this pasta so I really enjoy seeing her eyes light up when it’s brought to the table.

The salad was just some romaine lettuce & spinach leaves which I chopped and then topped with coated pecans and fresh mozzarella cheese.  I like using the pecans because it gives a sweetness and crunchiness to the salad.  The cheese not only adds another level of flavor, it also gives the salad more texture.  Trust me if you throw plain lettuce on a plate, it will likely end up in the garbage disposal.  Well at least in my family.  A few simple toppings added and now another vegetable is being eaten at dinner.  Bon Appetit!

Mango, Kiwi and Cilantro, all chopped up ready to be mixed so the flavors can blend together.

Fresh Salmon soaking up all of the marinade.Cedar Plank Boards. Just finished soaking.



Cedar Plank Boards. Just finished soaking.



I love cooking salmon on cedar planks. Great flavor & it absorbs excess oil so you get firm, flaky salmon.


MMMM, al dente pasta with marina sauce, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and shredded parmesan cheese!


Final step was to add the salad and Voila! Dinner is done.

Fighting Childhood Obesity With Turkey Breast, Jambalaya and Quesadillas..i.e…HOMEMADE MEALS!

22 Feb

So, I was listening to my favorite radio program, NPR’S “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin. On this particular day they were discussing a study that showed that there was a link between working moms and overweight children. You can read the interview here: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/15/133777158/Study-Finds-Link-Between-Working-Moms-Overweight-Kids

My first thought was Ouch! Another shot at the working mom who, like most moms, is just trying to do what she feels necessary for her family. However, I could not help but also think about the children. Being the closeted nerd that I am, I have read articles and listened to countless radio and tv programs discussing study after study showing that our children are having higher rates of juvenile diabetes, cholesterol, and other obesity related diseases. So while I felt the sting of the working mom guilt, I knew that the most important thing is the well-being of our children. 

While I was thinking about this study I thought to myself that this just further proves that we (mothers and fathers) need to try hard at staying away from the fast food and cooking more at home. Now, I must say that I enjoy cooking and when I can really get into it, it is a source of relaxation for me. However, at 5:30pm after a long day of work, when I have just walked into the house and I have a 4.5 year old begging for a snack and a 1.5 year old clutched to my leg like a koala bear, I am as stressed as any mother out there. My husband doesn’t usually get home until a little after 6pm and it is my goal to have dinner on the table no later than 6:45pm. I must also admit that while I do prefer cooking, there are times when I decide to stop at Chick-fil-A.  As the saying goes, it is what it is and we do what we have to do.

However, there is also another saying that I love “Failure To Plan Is A Plan To Fail”. It is with this quote in mind that I try to plan out my meals. I think by taking the time to plan meals for our families, we can help prevent some of the potentials discussed in that study.

Now, I’m not saying that I have a calendar with all 5 days planned out. However, I do try to note in my head or on paper at least 3 meals that I will make during the week. I also try to pick meals that can be made in a larger quantity so we can leftovers the next day.  Finally, one of my secret weapons in the fight against the fast food drive in window is to make dishes (like meats or stews) the night before.  Meats taste better and are more tender if they are allowed to rest and the ingredients in stews (such as my jambalaya below) can better blend together and deliver a tastier dish.

So here are a few ideas for all you busy moms, dads and caregivers, that can help you during the busy work week.

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey!  Roasted turkey breast is one of the easiest items to make.  The recipe is to simply season it and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 – 170 degrees.  I like to also use broth to baste the turkey as it keeps it moist.  There, that’s it!  One of my secrets is to make this the night before.  Now you have a turkey breast that you can carve for sandwiches, cube for salads or just eat with your favorite side dish.


Above is a shot of the turkey breast after it has been carved.  I also made a very light gravy using 2 cups of broth, a tablespoon of the turkey drippings (don’t tell my husband I use drippings, he despises the idea of drippings used in food.  But what does he know this is my kitchen, haha) and one tablespoon of cornstarch.  In a saucepan just whisk the cornstarch into the hot liquid and viola.  You can adjust the thickness and taste of the gravy by adding more drippings and cornstarch. 

Above is the same turkey, now it is cubed.  Along with some fresh veggies and we turn that into…(see below)

A Yummy Turkey Cobb Salad in a tostada bowl.  The recipe is simply all of the items (cubed turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, cheese) shown in the above picture and lettuce inside of a tostada bowl.  The dressing I used is a mixture of equal parks guacamole (or you could just mash some avocado) and parmesan ranch dressing. 

Now to the left is a shot of my famous Quesadillas.  Well, they are not really famous but they are a staple in my home.  Now the trick with good quesadillas is to find great tortilla wraps.  You want some that are pliable and not dry.  I find that Trader Joes has the best tortilla wraps.  Their handmade tortilla wraps are never dry and they fold easily.  Now for this recipe it is simply the tortillas and cheese on a hot pan.  Actually, I have stuffed the two closed quesadillas with tomatoes.  You can stuff it with veggies, meat or anything you desire.  I like to spray the pan with Pam and once it is hot put the tortilla on it.  Then I add cheese to half of it and once it starts to melt I fold it.  I then flip it so it is golden brown on both sides.

My final exhibit is below.  It is actually a version on Jambalaya.  It is simply shrimp, chicken & turkey sausage in a tomato & chicken broth sauce.  I also added onions and served it with rice and a few quesadilla wedges.  You can also add corn, peppers or any number of veggies.  Here is a link to a more detailed recipe for jambalaya  http://www.gottarubit.com/2010/12/gottarubit-jambalaya/ .  This freezes well and taste even better the next day. This is another great dish to make the night before.

So I hope these dishes will inspire people to cook more at home and fight the urge to visit the place where you hear “May I take your order please”.  LOL, Bon Appetit!