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Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

27 Jan

I made this… well, let’s just say it was a really, really long time ago. This is one of those recipes that was super backlogged… BUT it’s here finally, and that’s what matters! And I’ve been DYING to make it again, so maybe now I will 😉

The past few days, husband and I have been watching a series by the BBC called “The Truth About Food,” and it has been fascinating. The episode last night was about how to stay looking young and beautiful (in fact, watching food documentaries is one of our favorite pastimes, so I do have several I could recommend!), and the results from the studies conducted were pretty fascinating (so much, so, that it influenced me to post this particular recipe as my first recipe for the new year)! I’ve linked to the episode, and it’s a very informative and entertaining way to spend a few hours, if you really care to make the most of your health. This episode, in particular, highlighted the healing effects of eating fruits and veggies, with a specific study on tomatoes. The study required participants to consume at least 55g (1.9 oz) of tomato paste a day, and, at the end of (i think) 3 months, measured the amount of burn damage done to the skin from light exposure (and compared it with the burn damage measured before the incorporation of tomato into the diet). The result?

Eating tomatoes helps protect your skin from sun damage (a little natural SPF)! However, tomato paste does not sound like the most exciting thing to eat in order for most people to incorporate a beneficial amount into their diet. THAT is where this recipe comes in! I know there are many people out there who do not enjoy eating tomatoes; only in the last few years have I began consuming tomatoes raw. Some days I could eat an entire container of cherry tomatoes! And yet other days, managing to choke down 3 can be a struggle. BLT’s are a great way to mask some of the strong tomato flavor, but eat too many and you risk negating the beneficial effects through a much higher intake of greasy bacon.

I found this combination of roasting tomatoes with salmon an especially fantastic one (since I actually like to eat my salmon with ketchup, as it is). I’d never had roasted tomatoes before this meal, and I fell in love with them instantly and actually regretted not having used more – so feel free to go crazy with the amount you decide to use! Salmon itself is incredibly healthy – it’s got the Omega 3 fatty acids that help lower LDL (AKA: BAD) cholesterol and improve brain function, and Vitamins A, D, and some amino acids that fortify the nervous system, for added security! AND, like most fish, it is naturally low in calories! Which is always an automatic plus for me. Add tomatoes into the mix, and you get a brain and skin preserving supermeal! The thing that makes this all even BETTER?! This meal is almost TOO easy – all you do is throw everything together in a baking sheet and let it cook itself to perfection in the oven for ~25 minutes. Eating fresh and healthy foods doesn’t get much simpler than this recipe, I don’t think…

Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
(via Cooking Light)

What you need:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (or more! However many you want, really!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray; toss to coat tomatoes. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Add fish to pan. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve the tomato mixture over fish. Drizzle with lemon juice.

Additionally, I firmly believe Cooking Light is a magazine everyone should be subscribed to. Even if you hate cooking, it would at least inspire you to healthy life; each issue is full of not just quick (of the 20, 30, and 40 minutes varieties), healthy (low-cal), easy recipes (for entrees, sides, AND desserts!), but lifestyle tips, general nutrition tips, stories, etc. – it really is an awesome magazine! And EVERYTHING I’ve ever made from it over the course of my now… 3 year subscription to it, has been outstanding.

Nutrition per serving: Calories: 265; Fat: 12.6g; Saturated fat: 2.7g; Monounsaturated fat: 6g; Polyunsaturated fat: 2.8g; Protein: 28.7g; Carbohydrate: 9.6g; Cholesterol: 65mg; Sodium: 368mg; Calcium: 37mg

Chick-fil-A, I say!

25 Sep

What do you do when your absolute #1 favorite establishment to dine at is no longer located anywhere near you? As much as I would love to call up the CEO and demand that they build a location in the nearest vacant lot to me, that is sadly probably not the most plausible option. So instead, I settled for attempting to make their food myself!

The restaurant I’m speaking of is none other than the most delicious and, what I think to be, the most healthy of fast food chains: Chick-fil-A! In Texas, I had the luxury in both Houston and Austin to live right down the street from at least one Chick-fil-A, with others easily within driving range. Sadly, it appears that Chick-fil-A has yet to extend its warm, chickeny embrace to the northwest. I found myself craving it intensly – I needed a fix. I was ECSTATIC when I found a recipe online that claimed to be as close in taste to the real thing as possible, and set out to make it immediately.

Sadly, this is, AGAIN, ANOTHER RECIPE I MESSED UP! Sigh. But I almost can’t even find it in myself to care, because these were still super yummy. I can’t quite seem to get the hang of my oven here. I’m very used to gas ovens, but this one is electric, so it’s taking some getting used to. I had the heat up too high apparently, and thus, the oil too hot, and so the coating is far crispier than it should have been. I also used Canola oil instead of Peanut oil, because that was all we had here. I really want to make these again using Peanut oil to see if that gets the taste closer to real Chick-fil-A or not (because this recipe comes very close, regardless)!

Mock Chick-fil-A Chicken!
(As discovered here)

What you need:

  • Cooking Oil (Peanut or Canola would be best)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • I Tablespoon of Salt
  • 2 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast, cut in strips or cubed

Directions:

1. Whisk together the egg and the milk. Cut chicken into cubes and place in the milk and egg mixture. I marinated them for four hours.

2. In a large Ziploc bag, mix together the Flour, Powdered Sugar, Pepper and Salt. After chicken is marinated, toss it in the bag and shake vigorously to coat well.

3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil to 375 degrees. Warning: the coating makes the oil pretty messy. Gently drop your chicken pieces in the heated oil and cook until golden brown.

4. Drain cooked chicken with a paper towel. Cool, pair with your favorite preferred dipping sauce, and enjoy!

Despite the heat fiasco, my husband still found them PHENOMENAL (he, too, is a Chick-fil-A aficionado). He wanted to eat all of them, if he hadn’t had to share them with me.

My favorite sauce at Chick-fil-A is the Honey-Roasted BBQ sauce that comes in those little long packets (my second favorite is the Chick-fil-A sauce). I paired these nuggets with an impromptu homemade honey-mustard dipping sauce that I made by mixing Miracle Whip, Dijon mustard, and honey (who would’ve thought!). Without the sauce, this recipe tasted kind of like real Chick-fil-A nuggets, though I felt like something was missing. However, when I dipped these nuggets in that sauce… wow. Yeah. They tasted EXACTLY like the real thing. And in that moment, I couldn’t have been happier.

Next on my list to find and try is a mock recipe for McDonald’s Quarter Pounder… mmm… mouth is watering just thinking about…

Sage-and-Pecan Pork Tenderloin Cutlets

24 Sep

YUMMM!! This is one of my favorite pork recipes to make! The first time I ever made this dish, it turned out perfectly! This time though, not so much. I had the heat up too high for as thick of pieces of pork as I was using (because I used cuts instead of a tenderloin), and I forgot to reduce the vinegar enough, etc etc. But that’s what I like about cooking (as opposed to baking) –  you can mess a few things up, and it can still turn out delicious, as this did! And I mean, hey, everyone has their off days!

Sage and Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin Cutlets w/Blackberry-Reduction Sauce

What you need:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons seedless blackberry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • Fresh spinach leaves (optional)
  • Garnish: fresh blackberries

Directions:

1. Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 6 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in blackberry preserves, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in salt.

This is the step that I most fumbled in, and resulted in the greatest change in the overall flavor. I boiled and then cooked the vinegar for six minutes, however, I forgot the whole “reduced by half” part. It most definitely was not reduced by half when I added everything else. I tried to add more preserves to compensate, but I couldn’t seem to add enough, and so there was a slightly stronger vinegar smell and taste to the sauce than there ever should have been. For me, this was not a terrible problem, but for my husband who hates vinegar, it was. He still enjoyed the dish, but after having to eat it for a few days, he was more than pleased to see it gone. The first time I made this, I reduced the vinegar by half, if not more, and the sauce was very fruity (yet still dry), as it should have been. Better to over-reduce than to not reduce enough in the case of this recipe, I’d say!

2. Remove silver skin from pork tenderloin, leaving a thin layer of fat covering meat. Cut pork into 8 slices. Place pork between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and flatten to a 1/4-inch thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet.

Again, I would stress the importance of that thinness, especially if you are like me: paranoid of under-cooking your meat. With pork being as dangerous as it is when undercooked, I tend to prefer it a little overdone, if I have to. Generally I manage to get it just right, but this time, my cuts weren’t thin enough (and I too lazy to flatten them), so the coating definitely browned way before the meat was anywhere near done, even though I had the heat down pretty low.

3. Stir together breadcrumbs, pecans, and sage in a shallow bowl.

4. Dredge pork in breadcrumb mixture, dip in beaten eggs, and dredge again in breadcrumb mixture.

5. Cook 4 pork slices in 2 tsp. hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 minutes or until done, turning every 2 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining pork and oil. Serve pork over fresh spinach, if desired. Drizzle with vinegar mixture; garnish, if desired.

Despite my mishaps, it managed to turn out alright. Though the coating was quite brown (as you can probably see in the picture), I managed to salvage it by turning the heat down even lower, and cooking them for what seemed like forever, managing to avoid any burned taste. So I guess, overall, a bit of a more complicated recipe that, when completed accordingly, is absolutely fabulous!

Oh, and I suggest serving this oover a bread of fresh spinach. It is a fabulous compliment, as the sauce ends up doubling as a dressing!

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 452
  • Fat: 22.4g
  • Saturated fat: 3.9g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 11.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 4.4g
  • Protein: 29.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 33.6g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Cholesterol: 171mg
  • Iron: 3mg
  • Sodium: 516mg
  • Calcium: 68mg