Friday, July 27, 2012

Grilled Blue Marlin with Apple Lime Vinaigrette

This is Part II of my delicious gourmet meal from the other night. :) I highly recommend eating this with the roasted vegetable & chickpea salad that I posted earlier. So. Delicious.

Before I jump into this recipe, though, let me just brag a little bit...

I stopped at my favorite consignment shop here in town last week, and happened upon a size 8/10 Armani suit. When I tried it on, I discovered that it fit almost perfectly (just need the pants hemmed)! The tag from the consignment shop had it priced at $200...and marked down to $90! Guess who is the proud new owner of a gorgeous Armani suit? This girl!! Even better--when I got home, I checked online to see how much women's Armani suits generally cost--and saw that they run about $1,200 to $3,000. And I got mine for $90!? It does make me wonder, though, who in Omaha would get rid of their timeless Armani suit??

And now, back to our regularly scheduled recipe for this post. ;)

I found this recipe in a local HyVee flyer that was advertising a sale on blue marlin, which I've never had before. I've decided that I really, really like it--it has a dense, meaty texture, and a light, not-very-fishy flavor. I have also read that this fish is very high protein but also very low in fat, which makes it an excellent lean protein source--and a nice change from all the chicken breasts and tilapia I've been eating! The vinaigrette is excellent, too, and I think it would also be good on chicken, pork, and/or tilapia. Possibly even in a quinoa salad.

Grilled Blue Marlin with Apple Lime Vinaigrette (from the July 2012 HyVee sale flyer)

4 pieces blue marlin fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar or 1/2 tbsp splenda (or 1/3 tbsp stevia--which is what I did)
1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored, seeded and diced
2 tbsp bacon bits, finely chopped and divided in two

Preheat outside grill to medium-high heat. Let fish stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, blend the apple, parsley, lime juice, apple juice, vinegar, 1 tbsp bacon bits, and sugar/sweetener. Slowly add olive oil and blend for 1 minute. Add remaining bacon bits and stir (not blend).

Lightly brush marlin filets on each side with vinaigrette and place on grill. Grill for 3 minutes per side. Fish will begin to slightly flake when done. Fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Do not overcook.

Place fish onto plates and drizzle with additional vinaigrette. Can be served with grilled pineapple as garnish.

Nutrition Information
4 oz blue marlin:
Calories: 175.6    Fat: 5.3g    Chol: 55.9    Sod: 130.3mg    Carbs: 0    Fiber: 0    Protein: 29.3

2 Tbsp serving Apple Lime Vinaigrette (guesstimating based on making about 1.5cups for a total of 10 servings):
Calories: 68   Fat: 6g    Chol: 1.6    Sod: 0.7mg   Carbs: 3.7   Fiber: 0.5   Protein: 0.4   Sugars: 3.1

Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

I had a gourmet dinner last night. At home. Cooked by me! Well, mostly me--Ben grilled the fish.

It started with this warm vegetable salad recipe that I've been wanting to try--I found it on How Sweet It Is, one of the blogs that I follow. Then, I saw a flyer from our local HyVee that advertised blue marlin loins on sale (which I've never had before) and a recipe for grilling the blue marlin with an apple lime vinaigrette (which I'll post in the next day or so, I promise!).

But first, the vegetables! Roasted, then tossed in a sweet/sour vinaigrette, fresh herbs, creamy gorgonzola cheese and avocados. Mmmmm...

I followed the original recipe almost exactly this time around, but if when I make it again, I think I will actually cut out one can of chickpeas and one ear of corn and add in some cauliflower and zucchini or summer squash and possibly some bell peppers. My reason for this would be that many of the vegetables in this recipe are higher on the glycemic index, and therefore I consider them a little starchy to be my primary vegetables. Also, I'm not a HUGE blue cheese/gorgonzola fan (though it was delicious with this cheese!), so I might try to substitute feta instead, just to see how that tastes.

But even without my planned changes, this was DELICIOUS.

Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad (from How Sweet It Is)

1 pint grape tomatos
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped  (the original recipe calls for red onion, but I hate red onion)
4 ears of fresh corn, corn cut from the cob
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, chopped
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and add tomatoes, peppers, corn, onions and garlic. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (I just sprayed mine well with my Misto olive oil sprayer), then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, toss, then roast for 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
While veggies are cooling, add chickpeas to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together remaining olive oil, vinegar and honey. Set aside.
Add veggies to the chickpeas in the bowl. Add in fresh herbs, then crumble on gorgonzola. Drizzle with dressing, tossing to coat, then top with freshly chopped avocado. Season more if desired. Serve immediately!

Nutrition Information
I'm not totally certain of the nutrition information yet, as I didn't measure out how much this recipe made and/or how much of it I actually ate--my best guess is that it makes about 3 cups of vegetables total, and a serving would be about 1/3 to 1/2 cup (maybe?). I'm ballpark guessing (after entering the recipe into with those amounts) that one serving would be around 200 calories (which isn't bad if you consider the corn/chickpeas to count as your starch and you eat it with a lean protein like blue marlin, tilapia, or chicken breast!).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cuban-Style Chicken Wraps

I found the original recipe for this several years ago, in one of my sister's Cooking Light magazines. Since then, I've actually made this meal with various modifications; I'll go ahead and give you the original recipe from the magazine, but then explain some of the options I've found for modification. :)

Cuban-Style Chicken Wraps (from Cooking Light)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into short strips
1/2 c. diced fresh pineapple
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp orange marmelade
1 can (15oz) black beans (I use Goya low-sodium beans), rinsed well
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika

Combine pineapple, beans, vinegar, and marmelade in saucepan. Add 1/8 tsp red pepper. Bring to simmer over medium heat; cook 1 minute, and then turn to low to keep warm.

Combine remaining spices and sprinkle over chicken. Coat chicken with cooking spray and cook over medium heat until done.

Serve together in a corn or flour tortilla.

Now, here are some of my modifications I've done in the past: 
1) If you don't have marmelade, just use a pinch of brown sugar (this is what I usually do).
2) Sometimes I like to mash a small slice of avocado onto the tortilla before adding the meat and bean mixture--makes it extra creamy and delicious. :)

The biggest modification that I've done was when I made this dinner last week: I seasoned the meat with Todd's Bayou Dirt instead of the pepper/salt/paprika (I still added 1/8 tsp of the pepper to the beans/pineapple, though). Ben actually suggested this change, because he wanted his meat to be seasoned more and a bit spicier. So, I put the chicken in a mixing bowl, and liberally added the Todd's Dirt, turning the chicken to coat it completely in the seasoning. I then added olive oil to the pan, and cooked the chicken on med-high heat to sear it and allow the seasoning to kind of create a crust on the chicken. It was delicious, and definitely spicier than we've had in the past, so this is probably how I'll season the chicken from here on out.

I served myself with two Mama Lupe Low Carb Tortillas (our local Baker's store carries them, only 60 calories each!), 4.5 oz of chicken (divided between the 2 tortillas), and about 1-2 tablespoons of the bean/pineapple mixture on each tortilla. I also added a side of steamed broccoli, to make sure I got my veggies!

Nutrition Information (2 chicken wraps, using Mama Lupe Low Carb Tortilla):
Calories: 342.44
Fat: 22.5g       Sodium: 567.62mg      Carb: 22.04g      Fiber: 11.16g       Prot: 48.72g        Sugars: 0.84

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cucumber & Radish Salad

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had a cool, Thai-style cucumber and radish salad with my baked chicken the other night, so I thought I'd post the recipe for the salad, too. It's fairly quick and easy to put together, requires no cooking, and is a light, summery salad that is a nice change from traditional lettuce salads. Also, it's kind of pretty! :)

I honestly can't remember where I found the recipe for this, so I apologize for not crediting the source here; if I ever do figure it out, I'll be sure to edit this post with that information.

Cucumber and Radish Salad
1 cup thinly sliced radish
1/2 cup finely chopped orange or red bell pepper
2 cucumbers (English cucumbers work best, as they have more "meat" and less seed/goo), thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
salt & pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp kosher salt and just over 1/4 tsp ground pepper)

After slicing/chopping vegetables, toss them together in a dish. In a separate bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk with a fork. Pour dressing over vegetables, and gently toss or turn vegetables until they are all coated in the dressing. Set aside or in the fridge for at least 10 minutes, then toss vegetables in dressing again before serving.

I forgot to pick up some parsley, so just imagine it in there. ;)
A few notes on this salad:
1) using a mandolin slicer makes slicing the cucumbers/radishes much safer and quicker and gives you thinner slices than with a knife.
2) this dish is best served on the same day you make it. It's okay the next day, but tends to be a little sweeter (I think because the salt draws out the natural sugars in the cucumber and radish). Also, the pink skin on the radishes will bleed out and dye the dressing and parts of the cucumber pink by the next day. It's still good, but just looks a little if you want to make this a day ahead but don't want it to be pink, I suggest peeling the radishes.
3) I'm not completely sure how to calculate the nutritional value of this dish, since the dressing mostly ends up in the bottom of the dish, so I'm not going to provide that information here. For my purposes on my calorie tracking program, I just input the cucumbers/radish I ate (measured by the cup), and then guesstimated that I had about 1/2 tsp of olive oil, but your guess is as good as mine (vinegar and lemon juice have minimal calories and are considered "freebies" by my maintenance plan, so I didn't try to add those in).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Red Pepper & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

With 100+ degree temperatures this week, I was loathe to turn the oven on, but also didn't want to send poor Ben outside to stand over a hot grill. So, I decided to crank up the a/c and make some baked, stuffed chicken breasts (we've been getting a little sick of simple, plain chicken breasts, so I fancied them up a little bit).

I wanted to keep this low-calorie/low-fat, so I didn't want to do a bread stuffing or a traditional cordon bleu or florentine-style chicken. I opened the fridge to see what I already had that I could use, and right up front was my TJ's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic. Perfect! I had just a little bit of feta left, so I decided to use that up, too--although I ended up only having enough feta for one chicken breast, so I supplemented with my chevre goat cheese and did one breast with feta and one with goat cheese. They were both tasty, in our opinion, so use whichever you prefer/have on hand. :)

This was delicious. Not too heavy, but very moist and flavorful. The most time-consuming part was pounding out the chicken breasts, but other than that it was simple and easy to throw together and bake--which also didn't take very long.

Red Pepper & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp Red Pepper Spread
2 Tbsp feta or chevre goat cheese (or 1 Tbsp each)
Panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp egg white

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup!). Cover chicken breast with foil or plastic and pound out until about 1/4" thick (I use a frying pan for this, as it provides enough heft to make it easy, yet doesn't damage/tear the chicken).

Spread 1 Tbsp red pepper spread on one side of chicken breast, sprinkled on top with 1 Tbsp cheese. Roll chicken breast carefully (pushing filling back in as needed), secure with toothpick. Gently brush chicken with egg white, then carefully roll in panko bread crumbs to cover (I didn't measure how much stuck to the chicken breasts--for calorie counting, I'm guessing about 1 Tbsp per chicken breast??).

Bake at 400 degrees approximately 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through.

I ate my chicken with a cool, Thai-style cucumber and radish salad that I made while the chicken was baking--I'll be sure to post that recipe, too, either later today or sometime tomorrow.

Also, I usually eat 4oz of cooked protein at a meal, but my finished chicken breast weighed in at about 9oz. I guessed and mentally subtracted 1 oz for the pepper spread, putting it at 8oz. I probably should have cut it in half and only eaten that much, but I was so HUNGRY and it was soooo delicious--I ended up eating the whole thing. I don't feel too guilty about it, though, since it's mostly lean and healthy protein, as opposed to eating a giant slice of fudge cake. Anyway, for calorie-counting purposes, I'm just going to put the information below in according to my 8 oz stuffed chicken breast--feel free to eat a smaller portion and reduce your calorie intake if this is too much for you.

Nutrition Information
Calories:  304.3
Fat: 6.57g     Sodium: 100.85mg     Carb: 5.12g     Fiber: 1g     Protein: 50.52g     Sugars: 1.26

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Another Product Rave: Chicken Sausage

Fort Falls, at Ft. Niobrara Wildlife Refuge
We've been doing a bit of camping this summer, and that makes eating plain and healthy a bit difficult--after all, "convenience" foods tend to be unhealthy and/or very processed.

Yes, we could have made elaborate camp dinners using foil packets and the dutch oven or skillet, but we really prefer to keep things simple. We don't like cooking over a hot skillet on a campfire when it's hot outside, dutch oven cooking takes more time and planning (and usually, more ingredients to have to bring along).

Ben, making a ham & egg scramble.
So, we kept it simple. Sandwiches and veggies with hummus for lunches, venison hot dogs (courtesy of Ben's hunting) or chicken sausages for dinner, and scrambled ham and eggs with a side of leftover chicken sausage for breakfast.

Here comes my product recommendation for the chicken sausage: Aidell's chicken sausages are delicious, low-fat, and very reasonable for calories and sodium. But most important: they're delicious AND easy to cook over a campfire--because they're pre-cooked! You don't have to worry about eating raw meat if they're not cooked to a certain temperature; you're pretty much just warming them up over the fire. Simple! Delicious! Safe!

NOTE: I am NOT getting money or free products from this company (though I wouldn't turn them down if they offered). I simply found a great product that I wanted to share with my health and food-conscious friends. :)

Ben & his friend, Thomas, heating up sausage for dinner.
Anyway, Aidell's makes a variety of tasty chicken sausages; in fact, I thought we had tried all of them, only to discover a yummy list of their products on the website that our local grocery store doesn't carry. Now I'm inspired to ask my store to order some for me, or to find a way to order them online! We've already tried the artichoke & garlic, cajun style andouille, chicken & apple, pineapple & bacon, and Italian style with mozzarella. I highly recommend all of these. :)

I usually ate my chicken sausage either wrapped in a slice of Sara Lee Delightful bread or by itself on my plate. I also took apart some cauliflower and put it in a heavy-duty foil packet with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then set it in the coals to cook--I think it took about 20-30 minutes--to add some veggies to my dinner.

Now I'm just looking forward to trying some of the other sausages they make--especially the spicy mango/jalapeno and the roasted garlic with gruyere cheese!