Adding a Little Fruity Goodness to Summer

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit. Adding fruit to any dish provides a fun twist to lighten it up and to make it more refreshing. With that being said, this Farro, Walnut, and Cherry salad from Cooking Light is exactly the kind of dish I’m talking about. It’s easy and loaded with fresh cherries, a fruit that adds the perfect amount of fruity goodness.
 
ImageFor this salad you’ll need:
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked farro
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 3/4 lb. (about two cups) sweet cherries, pitted and halved (A great excuse to visit a local farmer’s market!)
  • 2/3 c. celery, diced
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 c. packed fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Bring those 5 cups of water to a boil, adding the farro and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook for about 15 minutes. Once done, drain and cool at room temperature. Next you’ll want to combine the farro, cherries, celery, walnuts, and parsley in a large bowl. Then, combine the lemon juice, mustard, honey, pepper, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and stir with a whisk. Gradually add the oil and continue to whisk till all dressing ingredients are mixed. Lastly, pour that bowl of goodness over the farro and cherry mixture and enjoy!

I loved this salad so much I took a huge container of it back on the train with me! It’s a delicious summer dish that easy to make in bulk (can someone say party side dish??) and it pairs fantastically with grilled balsamic chicken or a tender juicy skirt steak. I’m telling you, nothing beats a summer dish with a helping of fruit. You have to test this out, it won’t let you down. But until next time, keep eating!

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Snack Attack!

Truth be told that snacking throughout the day helps ease cravings and keeps you full. But raw almonds can get slightly boring. I found a way to spice up a simple snack. These Honey-Glazed Almonds from Cooking Light will solve all your snacking problems. It’s a bold, creative twist on a healthy snack. Each bite is packed with with the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.
 
I found this gem in Cooking Light’s Lighten Up, America Cookbook by Allison Fishman Task. It’s filled with favorite American foods all made guilt-free. I am a huge fan of almonds but not going to lie, I do get sick of a handful of raw almonds. That’s where this recipe comes in.
ImageYou’ll need: 1 1/2 c. raw, unblanched almonds; 1 tbsp. sugar; 1 1/2 tbsp. honey, 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chili powder; 1/4 tsp. ground cumin and 1/4 tsp. salt. Talk about easy.
 
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place almonds in a medium non-stick skillet and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted. You’ll want to shake the pan frequently so that they don’t burn! Then, combine sugar and next 4 ingredients (through salt) into a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for about 30 seconds. Once heated, add the honey mixture into the skillet with almonds and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly (make sure all the almonds get coated with the honey sauce!). Finally spread almonds onto parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool for 10 minutes (if you can wait that long).
 
This is an insanely easy and mouthwatering snack that will keep you coming back for more. PLUS it makes your kitchen smell amazing as well! You could try these as an appetizer for a party, a snack for the hectic work week or as a garnish on top of a salad. The options are endless. Test these out and let me know what you think. But until next time, keep eating!

Delicioso Risotto!

I simply could not wait to blog about this dish. Simple Lobster Risotto from Cooking Light–that sure has a nice ring to it. I don’t make risotto often but when I do I like to go all out and treat myself. This magical dish combines tender chunks of lobster, creamy risotto infused with lobster juice, and sweet green peas. Now it doesn’t get much better than that. 

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To make this mouth-watering dish all you’ll need is: 4 cups of fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, 3 (5oz.) American lobster tails (I used two small whole lobsters), 3 tbsp. butter, divided; 1 c. uncooked Arborio rice; and 3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed. I love 5 ingredient recipes–just another perk of this recipe!

How to make this bowl of goodness: Bring the broth and 1 1/2 c. water to a boil in a saucepan. Then, add the lobster; cover and cook for 4 minutes. Remove the lobster from the pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, remove the meat from the lobster tails, reserve the shells, and chop up the tender lobster meat. Next, place the shells in a plastic bag and coarsely crush them using a meat mallet. Once thoroughly crushed, add the shells back to the broth mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook for 20 minutes. After that, strain the shell mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving the broth and discarding the shells. Then, return the broth mixture to the saucepan. (Okay I have to admit I was in a time-crunch and didn’t have time to crush and cook the shells so I just cleaned the meat from each lobster over a bowl and collected the juices that way–it’s cheating slightly but works just as well!) 

For the risotto: heat 1 tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 c. of the broth mixture and cook for 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed. Don’t forget to stir constantly! Reserve 2 tbsp. of the broth mixture and add the remaining broth, 1/2 c. at a time, into the rice. Stir constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (should take about 22 in.). Finally, remove from heat, stir in the lobster, the remaining 2 tbsp. broth, 2 tbsp. butter and the peas. Voila! There you have it–simple, delicious lobster risotto. YUM.

It was hard to savor this dish–I wanted to shovel it into my mouth–it took a tremendous amount of control not to do so. You will find yourself saying ‘More Please,’ or singing ‘I Just Can’t Get Enough.’ Anyways, test this recipe out and let me know what you think–I always love feedback! But until next time, keep eating!  

Fish Tacos You’ll Get Hooked On

With fall just around the corner and hot soups on the menu, this was my last chance to make one of my favorite summer meals. What’s that you ask? Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos from Cooking Light. The lightness of the fresh fish, the flavor packed in the sour cream and cilantro sauce, and the warm tortillas, all combine to make this dish simply irresistible. 

One of the perks of summer is all the fresh seafood and this recipe calls for just that. For this recipe you’ll need: 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream; 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro; 2 tbsp fresh lime juice; 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped; 1 c. thinly sliced white onion; 1 1/2 tsp paprika; 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar; 1 tsp dried oregano; 3/4 tsp garlic powder; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp ground cumin; 1/4 tsp ground red pepper; 4 (6oz. tilapia fillets); 1 tbsp canola oil; 8 corn tortillas; 1/2 ripe peeled avocado, thinly sliced; and four lime wedges for serving.

Image How to whip up these delicious tacos: Combine the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Then, combine jalapeno sauce and white onion in a small bowl; Next, combine paprika and next six ingredients (through the ground pepper) and sprinkle evenly over the fish (apply generously); Then, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Lastly, warm the tortillas up (don’t skip this step–a warm tortilla goes a long way). To serve, divide the fish, onion mixture, and avocado among each tortilla and serve with lime wedges. This dish will be gone in minutes. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve made this dish this summer. I seem to ALWAYS have a craving for it. It’s quick, it’s fun to make, and it’s simply refreshing. It’s the perfect meal to eat outside on the deck (just make sure you have lots of napkins!) Trust me, once you take a bite of these tacos, you’ll start to crave them as much as I do. I’m sad to admit this is probably the last summer meal I’ll make, but I’m excited for all the foods/flavors fall has in store (can you say pumpkin??). But until next time, keep eating!

I’m in Love With a Flexitarian

I just have to say…Mark Bittman, I love you.

One of my favorite sources to find recipes has to be Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times. His recipes are simple yet delicious, making it extremely easy to eat good food that’s healthy for you. His most recent recipe (which naturally I had to make) was Pasta alla Norma—and it was to die for.

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For the recipe you’ll need: 1 ½ pounds of eggplant, cut into decent –sized chunks; 1 tbsp. of chopped garlic (I took the easier approach put the garlic through a mincer); 3-4 dried chiles (I left these out but by all means add them if you want a nice kick to your dish); 1 ½ pounds of tomatoes—his recipe calls for fresh but canned work just as well!; 1 teaspoon dried oregano; 1 pound of pasta–I used this amazing big rigatoni from Eataly (my mom and I were calling it “big rig” by the end of the night); ½ cup chopped parsley or basil; and last but not least, ½ cup grated ricotta salata.

Simply cook the eggplant in lots and lots of olive oil (good thing it’s heart healthy!), and season with salt and pepper. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the box. Once the eggplant is nice and brown, remove and sauté the garlic (and chiles if you use them), then add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook until ‘saucy’ (his words not mine).  When the pasta is done, strain and add to the tomato/garlic mixture, top with grated ricotta salata, and there you have it! Pasta alla Norma cooked from scratch. This is a dish that is guaranteed to impress any guest!

If you haven’t seen Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times, check it out! He takes wonderful ingredients and turns them into a fabulous meal that doesn’t take much time at all. Trust me, his recipes won’t disappoint you. Try some of his recipes and let me know which ones are your favorites—I’d love to blog about them! But until next time, keep eating!