Shrimp, spinach, and Soba noodles with garlic and white wine

One of the items in my first ever #Foodiepenpals box was Soba noodles from Lauren at Lauren Living Locally. Since I didn’t have Kale or Walnuts on hand to try the recipe she gave me, I decided to pair some great ingredients that I did have on hand. The result was Soba noodles with shrimp and spinach, and a garlic and white wine sauce. This recipe was for 1 person, so you would just need to multiply all ingredient amounts by the amount of people you want to serve. Both mom and brother sampled the recipe, and believe me- you’ll want to serve this one. It is ridiculously quick, simple, and one of the most incredible meals I have ever cooked solo at home!

Soba noodles with Shrimp, Spinach, and Garlic and White Wine Sauce

Ingredients

7-10 medium shrimp (I used frozen)

2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed (adjust depending on your tastes)

1 bundle Planet Organic Soba noodles

2 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup white wine

2 tbsp Grape Seed or Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/8 cup butter or margarine (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and had no issues)

Preparation

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat with the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Once the oil is heated, add the shrimp and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until each side turns pink and becomes opaque.

In a sauce pan heat water to boiling, and add Soba noodles once boiling. Reduce heat and let simmer for 4-6 minutes until tender.

While noodles are cooking, remove shrimp from skillet and add butter and white wine to the same pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until mixture begins to thicken, and then cover with a lid and simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Add the shrimp back to the sauce pan and let sit in the sauce for 1-2 minutes while you drain the noodles.You can add the spinach to the shrimp mixture to wilt slightly if you prefer, but I like mine with a bit of crunch, so I simply put it in the serving dish, mixed it with the still-hot Soba noodles, and let the spinach only wilt slightly.

I mixed the sauce with the noodles and tossed lightly with tongs. After adding a shake of some grated Parmesan, I dug right in to this exquisite dish!

Calories according to the MFP Recipe Tool: 476 calories, 62g of carbs, 10g of fat, 33g of protein, and 4g of fiber!

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Who says healthy can’t be tasty?

This will be a short post, as I’ve discussed all possible relative topics to death, and nothing is really a new “recipe” (excepting maybe the quinoa.)

This, is why I am in love with my grill. And salmon.

The zucchini, squash, and asparagus was done in a basket on the grill. In cheated and microwaved the quinoa in a little water, and when it was finished I added roughly 1/4 cup of chopped grape tomatoes, and a tablespoon of tomato basil feta. The salmon got nothing but a pinch of salt and pepper, and a salt-water soaked cedar plank. De-lic-ious.

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I’m having an affair

I have fallen in love with another. Alex need not worry, this new love is certainly not a man. It is not my grill, either. It is a food. A delicious, versatile, filling, fantastic food. My new love is none other than Quinoa.

Even before I made the decision to get healthier, I kept stumbling upon delicious looking recipes using quinoa on Pinterest. Mixtures of luscious vegetables, flavorful meats, and creamy sauces, all mixed in with these tiny, moist, soft little granules.

It is ridiculously simple to prepare, both on the stove top and in the microwave when I’m feeling lazy. I have paired it various proteins, using it as a side with broiled salmon, as a main course with chunks of chicken, veggies, and soy sauce, and as a southwestern casserole with black beans, corn, salsa, and cheese. It is the perfect base for any accompaniment.

Tonight Alex started on his quest to perfect the “Juicy Lucy” (apparently this is the popular term for a burger cooked with the cheese on the inside, who knew?) He even made a special Lucy for me, stuffing mine with a little Atheno’s Tomato and Basil feta, and topping it with fresh spinach.

While he was busy on the grill, I was busy whipping up a delicious quinoa side. The amount prepared could comfortably serve about 8 people, and I am super excited about the leftovers. I am affectionately referring to tonight’s concoction as, simply, “Italian Quinoa.”

Italian Quinoa
-1/2 cup Ancient Harvest Quinoa
-1 can of Del Monte diced tomatoes with garlic and basil
-1/2 10oz package of Fresh Express baby spinach
-1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped

I prepared the quinoa in the microwave using the directions on the box (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, loosely covered in a microwave safe bowl for about 8 minutes) so that I could use the stove to prepare the veggies without having to stress too much. (I’m PMSing this week, forgive me.)

While the quinoa was cooking, I sauteed the mushrooms with a little grape seed oil in a saucepan. Once tender, I added the spinach and let it cook down. I drained a little excess liquid out of the tomatoes, and added them to the pan along with the now finished quinoa.

I seasoned with a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic, and McCormick Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning, and about 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. I brought the mix up to a boil, reduced to simmer, and let it cook for just a couple of more minutes (until the Lucy’s were ready for consumption.)

The whole meal was a bit above where I typically like to stay, coming in at 734 calories, but again- PMS. It’s getting really hard to behave right now, and I’m proud I’m doing as well as I am.

The quinoa dish breaks down as follows per serving: 84 calories, 13g carbs, 2g fat, 4g protein, and 2g of fiber.

Have you tried quinoa? How do you like to prepare it?

Salmon- my new obsession

Prior to starting this journey, I wouldn’t touch salmon with a ten foot pole. I don’t know if I just never had it prepared well, or if I was just too scared of fish to really give it a fair chance, but literally…the pole would have had to be ten feet, at least.

Alex and I went to O’Charley’s one night with some friends at the beginning of my healthy eating revolution, before I was really comfortable ordering off of a menu at a restaurant. Since I knew salmon is supposed to be super healthy, and the meal only came with a side of broccoli, I figured it would be a pretty safe (and healthy!) bet (minus all of the additional sodium that I feel is in pretty much any meal that I don’t prepare myself…)

I tried their cedar-planked salmon, and I have not turned back since. O’Charley’s is not my favorite restaurant, and some of their food is slightly strange, so I was definitely a little nervous. But both of the friends that we went to dinner with either previously worked at O’chuck’s, or currently work there, and they both stood by the salmon as one of the highest reviewed and biggest selling dishes they offer. So I gave it agao, and it was love at first bite.

I can’t fully describe the absolute succulence that pours through every taste bud with this dish, but I knew that I had to learn how to replicate it at home. Alex and I picked up a four pack of cedar planks at our local Kroger, and got them soaking in some salt water. Essentially what I have learned is to let them song as long as possible. Our package said at least 1 hour in salted water, but everything I read online said the longer, the better. We settled on about two hours since we didn’t have much more time to prepare, and while I don’t think the fish even needs a strong marinade when cooked on the plank, the recipe below was one of the most delicious pieces of fish I have eaten, ever. Bar none. I’ve peaked, it will never, ever get ANY better than this salmon. On a side note, you can use cedar planks in the oven, but it’s 80 degrees in March, so we used the grill, damnit!

Cedar-Planked Asian Salmon
2 mid-sized salmon fillets, skin removed (this is kind of difficult pre-cooking, but do it.)
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use low-sodium Kikkoman)
Dried mustard (I don’t do measurements when I cook…)
Grated ginger (see above…)
Granulated garlic (see above…)
Granulated onion (see above…)

I split the fillets into four equal pieces, and stirred the marinade together in a bowl. Once the ingredients were well-mixed, I placed the fillets inside and refrigerated them for 2-3 hours. During this time the planks were also “marinating” in the salt water.

When everything else is getting ready to go (you want to be out 20 minutes out from everything being ready) fire up the grill. You want the grill right around 350-400. Heat the cedar planks on the grill for 3 minutes, then flip and place salmon fillets on heated side. Close the grill lid and let salmon cook without flipping at all for between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the size of your fillets.

We paired these with some baked potatoes and roasted asparagus for one of the most succulent, juicy, smoky meals that grill has ever produced. Each bite was like walking one step further into heaven. The salmon was smoky, meaty, and full of Asian flavor. It paired perfectly with the potatoes and asparagus, and even had my salmon-hating mom’s mouth watering!

If you’re skeptical about salmon, give this recipe a go- you’ll never doubt it again!

I don’t have caloric information for the entire meal, but the Salmon breaks down like this: 199 calories per serving, 4g carbs, 9g fat, 27g protein, 1g fiber. The recipe claims a large amount of sodium, but you don’t drink the marinade, so you don’t really get as much as it says (so much so that I won’t list it here!)

Enjoy!

The last chicken recipe you’ll ever need

Okay, maybe the title is a bit ambitious, but I am not lying when I say that this chicken is absolutely to-die-for. The most succulent, flavorful piece of meat you’ll ever eat. Yup, I just said it.

So last week at Publix the Ken’s salad dressings were BOGO, and I had a $1.00 off coupon. So we got a killer deal on the dressings. We picked up a ranch (I do not obsess about salad dressings, by the way. I’m fully aware they’re pretty terrible, but I just make it a point to cut back on sodium and fat with other things) and a lite sun dried tomato dressing. The sun dried tomato is a vinaigrette and is significantly lighter, but still contains a decent amount of sodium so that would be my primary caution. In terms of taste, it is delicious. It is perfectly salty mixed with the sweet tang of the sun dried tomato. It is excellent on salads of course, but so many other things, too!

Tonight I decided to marinate my chicken in the dressing, and pair it with the complementary flavors of sauteed baby spinach and fresh crumbled feta cheese. For sides I included 1/2 a sweet potato, sliced into medallions and partially cooked in the microwave before finishing in a saute pan, and Green Giant frozen steam bag peas. The total meal came in at 480 calories, including the 2 tbsp of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter I used to saute.

Spinach and feta stuffed chicken with sun dried tomato glaze (serves 2):

1 large chicken breast (about 1/2 lb) pounded thin and cut into two portions

2 tablespoons Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette dressing

1/4 cup Atheno’s original crumbled feta

3 cups fresh baby spinach (organic is recommended)

Pound and trim chicken, cutting it into two equal portions. Place in ziplock bag with two tablespoons of dressing. Close bag and toss gently, coating all sides of the chicken. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

When chicken is almost finished marinating, preheat oven to 350 and heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil (I used ICBINB) and add 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed. Saute for 2-3 minutes until garlic is lightly browned. Add 3 cups baby spinach and continue cooking until spinach is cooked down to desired tenderness. Toss with feta and lightly saute for 30-45 more seconds, until cheese is just melting.

Prepare small baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and place marinated breasts inside. Place generous portion of the spinach and feta (about half) on top of each chicken breast. Roll breast around filling, and secure with toothpicks. Place crushed garlic cloves on top of chicken, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (also depends on how thin you pound your chicken!)

Pair with sauteed sweet potato medallions and green peas for a filling, delicious meal that is the perfect way to end a day!

Chicken Facts:225 calories, 9g carbs, 10g fat, 28g protein, 841mg sodium, 1g fiber.

Whole Meal: 480 calories, 38g carbs, 26g fat, 33g protein, 1,024mg sodium* (this is much higher than I would typically consume in a meal, and is something that you should monitor carefully if you have already consumed significant amounts of sodium, or are on a low-sodium diet,) 6g fiber.

I’ve been cooking a lot lately

I’m a little behind on my recipe posts, but the days and nights have been busy, and filled with laughter and happiness, so I really cannot complain. Saturday John and Tonya came over so that us gals could craft and that evening we went to O’Charleys for dinner. I tried the cedar-planked salmon, and oh. my. God. It was delicious.

As luck would have it, the very next day at Ingles, Alex and I spotted a 1/2lb salmon filet on sale for only $2.50. Nothing wrong with it, straight from the fish counter, fresh not frozen, just marked down for quick sale. I knew I’d either have to freeze it, or cook it that night, so I decided to try my luck on a salmon recipe.

For my first time cooking fish at home that is not processed, preserved or frozen, I was more than a little intimidated. I let Alex cook his new recipe first (cast-iron skillet pizza) while I poured over 800 how-to websites and obsessed over what to do with the skin-side. When all was said and done I settled on broiling as my cooking method, and a simple marinade of garlic and lemon infused olive oil. I coupled it with fresh steamed broccoli with a little lemon, salt and pepper, and a risotto-inspired portabello quinoa.

Broiled salmon, mushroom quinoa risotto, and steamed broccoli:

1 large (1/2lb) salmon filet
2 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves fresh garlic
salt
pepper
1 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup quinoa
1 cup portabello mushrooms

Bring 1/2 low-sodium chicken stock, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup quinoa to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, saute one cup mushrooms in a separate pan. Pour mushrooms and drippings into after it finishes boiling, cover, and set aside.

Cook broccoli however you prefer. I cheat and cook in the microwave in a bowl with about 1/4 cup of water and a loose cover.

Turn oven on to broil. Prepare a pan lined with foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place salmon on the pan (skin side down!) and rub the flesh lightly with butter. Saute garlic cloves in 2 tbsp olive oil until garlic is golden brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic, it gets a bitter taste. Press down on garlic cloves and remove them. Add lemon juice to oil to taste, and baste over butter layer on fish. Place in oven and broil, uninterrupted for 10 minutes, or approximately 5 minutes per 1/2 inch of thickness. I wanted mine a little bit more done, and turn the oven off but left the fish inside for an additional 5-7 minutes.

Plate up and enjoy a fest of garlic-lemon broiled salmon, mock-mushroom risotto and fresh citrus broccoli.

The whole meal was approximately 605 calories, including: 39g carbs, 28g fat, 52g protein, 519mg sodium and 6g fiber!

Quinoa stir fry with chicken and vegetables

Let me begin by saying I am disgusted with most of the major chicken companies. Primarily, Tyson. I know, I know, I just need to buy organic. Unfortunately, our roommate just moved out and it’s all I can scrape to buy my spinach organic. But Tyson is just ridiculous. The quality is horrendous, and they are grossly overpriced unless you can catch it when the family packs are on sale for $1.98/lb. So this week, nearly out of chicken, I opted for the Ingles meat counter’s stir fry chicken packet. They’re pre cleaned, pre sliced for stir fry, and looked better overall than most all of the Tyson at the store.

I’ve been craving Chinese food really badly for a week or so now, and it was brought to a whole new level on Friday night because my family ordered take out and it smelled delicious. Tonight I threw together a healthy take on stir fry with Quinoa, the prepared chicken, tons of delicious veggies, and a little Asian flavor.

I ate my fill, mom loved it, and dad had seconds. And maybe thirds. It was definitely delicious. Alex had some of the same chicken chopped smaller and made into quesadillas, and he thoroughly enjoyed those, too.

Quinoa stir fry with chicken and vegetables:

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 medium zucchini squash
1 medium yellow squash
2 medium carrots
1 cup portabello mushrooms
1/2 medium yellow bell pepper
1 medium stalk of broccoli
1 package stir fry chicken, about 1/2 lb
Soy sauce/duck sauce to taste (we didn’t have bottles on hand so it was equivalent to 7 packets of Kari-Out soy sauce, and 4 packets of Kari-Out duck sauce.

Bring 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup chicken broth to a rapid boil. Boil for 10 minutes, adding about 3/4 a cup of water halfway through. When most liquid has been absorbed, remove from heat and cover. Leave aside until everything else is ready to serve.

I began by prepping all of my veggies. I simply sliced the zucchini and squash into medallions, and then halved or quartered them depending on the medallion size. I cut florets off the top of the broccoli, and set the stalk aside. Mushrooms got a rough chop, keeping them fairly large since they cook down quite a bit. The carrots were thinly sliced lengthwise and the bell pepper was chopped into bite sized pieces. I trimmed the outer skin off the broccoli stalk, and julienned it so that it mimicked the bamboo shoots I love so much in restaurant Chinese food.

In a large skillet or wok, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp butter. Add all veggies, kickin’ chickn’ seasoning to taste, and saute until all veggies are soft but still a little crisp. When veggies are cooked, add soy sauce, duck sauce, and ground ginger to taste, and reduce heat to low allowing vegetables to simmer while you cook the chicken.

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to another saute pan, add chicken, kickin’ chickn seasoning and saute until chicken is golden-brown and cooked through. Add chicken to vegetables, and serve on top of quinoa.

This makes about 6 healthy servings, and contains: 197 calories, 19g of carbs, 5g of fat, 22g of protein, 248mg sodium, and 3g of fiber.

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