Black Bean Salad

Meatless Monday’s Protein – Black Beans

Black Bean SaladOnce in a while my husband and I like to have a meatless meal just for a nice change-up. Black beans are such a good source of protein, 1 cup offers about 30% of your daily protein requirement, as well as providing high percentages of iron, folate and fiber, that they are always one of our top choices for just such a meal. Black beans have also been recognized as providing health benefits for the digestive tract and the colon. Research has found that eating 3 cups of legumes a week will provide optimal health benefits.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Once Upon A Chef and it proved to be absolutely over-the-top delicious! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. By the way, this also makes an excellent side dish for fish or chicken dinners.

Black Bean Salad with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15.25 oz. can sweet corn, drained (of which you use about 3/4 can)
  • 1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped + additonal for garnish
  • 1 Haas avocado, chopped

Directions:

Mix all of the above ingredients together, except avocado, and place in refrigerator for flavors to mix for about 6 hours.

To serve: Prepare avocado and gently mix into salad. Let sit for an hour at room temperature, garnish with additional cilantro, and serve.

Serves 6.

Note: By rinsing or soaking the beans you can reduce the flatulence-related substances by as much as 33%.

Linda's Signature

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Pineapple Fried Rice

Meatless Monday – Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice Recently my husband and I went to a cool sushi bar called Buddha Sky Bar in downtown Delray Beach, Florida. If you are ever in the South Florida area this is definitely a restaurant you should make an effort to visit. It is small and decorated very nicely, with superb food and service as well as a nice view over Atlantic Avenue, the main attraction.

During our visit we had the most delicious Pineapple Fried Rice that i just had to try and duplicate it. And I have to say, it came out pretty well. If you get all the ingredients cut up and separated ahead of time it is really quick and easy to make. Hint: Make the rice the day before and put it in your refrigerator overnight.

Pineapple Fried Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine or chicken stock (if not going meatless)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2-3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry powder (although I used the paste)
  • 2 green onions, slice thin
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Cook rice according to directions. This recipe works best if the rice is cooked the day before so it dries out slightly. If cooking the same day, cook earlier in the day and place in refrigerator without a lid so it dries more quickly.

When ready to assemble ingredients:

Place onion, garlic and red pepper flakes together in bowl.

Place carrots & peas in a second bowl.

Place rice mixed with 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil, pineapple chunks and cashews in another bowl.

Mix soy sauce and Thai curry paste together and set aside.

To cook: Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture from the first bowl and stir-fry for about 1 minutes. If pan becomes a little dry add a little chicken stock or white wine. Add the 2 eggs and scramble quickly mixing in with onion mixture. Add the carrots and peas from second bowl and stir-fry another minute or two.

Now add the rice mixture to the pan along with the soy sauce/curry paste and stir-fry about 5-8 minutes. They usually say to cook until you hear the rice making popping sounds.

Place into serving bowl and garnish with green onion and cilantro.

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe is gluten-free if you use both gluten free soy sauce and brown rice or a jasmine rice that has not been over processed.  For a meatier option, add shrimp or chicken .

Wine Pairing:  A white wine with a little citrus flavor blends well with the pineapple in this dish. Try a Pouilly-Fuisse, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc although some Chardonnays will work here as well.

Meatless Monday – A Savory Sweet Potato Side Dish

Sweet Potatoes and OnionsI love sweet potatoes and I will try just about any recipe that comes my way. It is also nice to know how good they are for you so you don’t have to feel guilty eating this sweet side dish.

Sweet Potatoes are one of the best vegetables you can eat. They are full of carotenoids, a plant pigment that the body can turn into Vitamin A, and are a great source of antioxidants that may help prevent certain cancers and heart disease as well as strengthen your immune system. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Convinced? If you are, here is an easy recipe that lends a bit of sweet onion flavor to the mix.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onion

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium peeled sweet potato, cut in large chunks
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion (Vidalia), cut in ¼” thick rings
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper blend
  • 1/8-1/4 garlic powder
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place sweet potatoes, onions rings that have been cut in half and remaining ingredients in 8” square baking dish and stir to make sure all potatoes and onion pieces are well coated. Vary quantity of spices to your liking. I like to use the full amount of seasoned pepper and garlic powder but did cut the salt to 1/8 teaspoon.

Bake for 40 minutes, stirring half way through cooking time.

Serves 2.

Linda's Signature

White Lasagna for National Lasagna Day

White Chicken or Vegetable Lasagnacat in lasagna dish

It’s National Lasagna Day so what better dish to write about than a delicious vegetable or chicken lasagna. It can be a low-fat dinner using chicken or a nice vegetarian meal using zucchini noodles and mushrooms in place of chicken.  You’ll want to be sure to make enough as this always goes fast in our house.

White Chicken/Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles or thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or white wine
  • 1-3/4 cups low fat milk or plain almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or can use mushrooms if want to leave meat out altogether
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 9-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 12-oz box frozen mashed squash, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with Pam or other non-stick spray.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. When done, rinse well with cold water and set aside. If using zucchini strips, cut into 1/8″ thick long strips, lightly salt, and let sit for 15 minutes. Lightly dab with paper towel to help get rid of excess moisture. On a grill or under broiler, cook zucchini strips for 1-2 minutes per side then place on paper towels to drain.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic (and mushrooms if using them to replace chicken) then cook for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir well, cooking for about 1 minute. Add chicken broth or white wine slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Add milk, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, basil and oregano. Set cheese mixture aside.

Lay out remaining ingredients – mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, cooked chicken (if using), spinach (that has been squeezed to get out all liquid) and squash.

Begin assembling lasagna by putting a small amount of cheese sauce in the casserole dish and spreading to cover bottom. Place 3 lasagna noodles/zucchini strips on top of sauce forming the first layer. Place 1/2 of the remaining cheese sauce on top of noodles/zucchini strips, 1/2 of the chicken (ignore if omitting chicken) and then spread ricotta cheese on top. Layer 3 more noodles/zucchini strips. Spread remaining cheese sauce on top of noodles and top with chicken (if using), spinach and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Add last layer of pasta/zucchini strips and spread butternut squash over the top. Add remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and allow cheese to brown, about 15 minutes. If cheese is still not browning, turn on the broiler and watch carefully until browned.

Tip: If you let the lasagna cool for about 10-15 minutes it will be easier to cut and serve.

Note: You can prepare ahead of time, up to the covering with foil then store in refrigerator until ready for dinner. You may need to cook it slightly longer since the casserole will be cold.

Serves 6-8.

Wine Pairing: Choose a wine that will compliment the cheeses such as a Sauvignon Blanc or one that will suit the spinach and squash as well like a nice oaked Chardonnay or a Viognier.

Linda's Signature

Meatless Monday – Grilled Mahi with Basil Butter

Mahi Mahi with Basil ButterFish is a healthy and delicious way to give your body the protein it needs without all the fat. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids that keep our heart and brain healthy as well as important vitamins such as D and B2. It is also a great source of calcium, phosphorus and minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. All that in a little piece of fish!

This meatless Monday is a great time to start eating one of your two recommended servings of fish a week to help you on your way to a healthy diet.

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Basil Butter

Ingredients:

  • 2 6-oz. mahi-mahi fillets
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, 1 Tablespoon olive oil (cuts a little of the fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions:

Preheat grill. Prepare a grill pan by spraying with nonstick spray.

I like to purchase the fillets that still have the skin on one side. This helps hold this delicate fish together on the grill. Sprinkle fish with a light coating of cajun seasoning and place flesh side down on hot grill. Cook 4 minutes on flesh side, turn, and cook 4-6 minutes, skin-side down, or until fish flakes easily with fork.

While fish is cooking, combine butter, oil and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter has melted then turn heat to low and keep warm until fish is done.

To serve, place fish on platter and top with some of the basil butter. Garnish with slices of lemon and a sprig of basil.

Serves 2.

Tip: Serve with steamed broccoli as the basil butter makes a delicious topping for this as well.

Wine Pairing: Choose a light white wine for this delicate, flaky fish so as not to overwhelm the dish itself such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin blanc or Pinot Grigio. You might also try an unoaked Chardonnay as these are much lighter than their oaked counterparts.

Linda's Signature

Rattlesnake Pasta for Meatless Monday

Rattlesnake PastaWe try to have seafood at least 3 times per week and I always seem to go back to pasta with shrimp for one of those meals. This recipe was inspired by the Rattlesnake Pasta that we order when we dine out at J. Alexanders. If you ever get the chance to visit one of their restaurants try their dish made with chicken instead of shrimp and a creamier, more caloric but delicious, sauce and a side of their Alexander salad. Of course, any of their dishes are superb and the staff is friendly and efficient.

rattlesnake sign

My recipe is a healthier version of  Rattlesnake Pasta but watch out because the spicy bite  of the sauce definitely lives up to its name. You can vary the amount of spiciness to your liking by lessening the amount of cajun spice, red pepper flakes and jalapeno you add to the dish. Enjoy!

Rattlesnake Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon minced rosemary
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, depending on your preferred level of hotness
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or white wine
  • 1/4-1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot with lid to keep warm.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Coat shrimp with Cajun seasoning and add to skillet. Brown shrimp on both sides, about 1 minute per side, then add tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno, rosemary and crushed red pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes, crushing tomatoes slightly to release juices. Add spaghetti and broth or wine to skillet then season with salt and pepper. Toss together, add Parmesan cheese and mix well. Cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally for 2-4 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve immediately on plates garnished with rosemary sprig

Serves 2-3.

Wine Pairing: When pairing wines with spicy dishes lean towards those with low alcohol and a bit of fruity sweetness such as Sauvignon Blancs, Rieslings, Chenin Blancs and Roses. If you pair this meal with a higher alcohol wine, the spice in the dish will appear even hotter (whew!), if paired with an oaky Chardonnay, the wine will seem to be even oakier and if your wine is more of a tannic red it will seem bitter to the taste. So stick with those above that will tame some of the spiciness and help you enjoy both the meal and the wine.

Linda's Signature

Almost Meatless Monday – Shrimp & Chorizo Skewers

Shrimp and Chorizo SkewersOK, I cheated a little on calling this a meatless Monday dish but you can easily make it meatless by substituting vegetables such as onions and bell peppers or even pineapple for the chorizo. Now, I don’t know why you would want to do that as the chorizo gives such a nice spicy kick to the shrimp and when it is all crisp from the grill it makes it even better. But whatever way you have it, this is one easy but delicious recipe!

Shrimp & Chorizo Skewers

Ingredients:

  • 18 shrimp, peeled & deveined (leaves tails on)
  • 18 1/4″ slices chorizo
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Prepare shrimp. Mix remaining ingredients, except for chorizo & parsley, in a large ziploc bag. Add shrimp, seal and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

At this time, if using wooden skewers, place in water and let soak for 30 minutes to prevent burning once placed on grill.

When ready to assemble, cut chorizo into 1/4″ thick rounds. Thread one shrimp then one piece chorizo alternately onto skewers. I used very long metal skewers and wound up using 5 skewers.

Once assembled, place on grill for approximately 2-3 minutes per side or until shrimp are pink and chorizo is slightly charred.

Serve over rice, either long grain & wild rice or a nice rice pilaf, and garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Note: You can also serve these as appetizers by cutting the wooden skewers in half and placing one shrimp and one piece of chorizo on each skewer and cooking as above. This will give you 18 small appetizers.

Wine Pairing: When eating Spanish chorizo the best wines to accompany this spicy sausage are the Spanish riojas and tempranillos, both spicy, juicy and smoky in their own right. Two great selections to try are either the 2009 Manon Tempranillo or the 2008 Bodegas Dios Area Rioja Crianza.

Linda's Signature

Munchies for Monday – Vanilla Almond Granola

One of my favorite toppings for yogurt in the morning is this homemade granola. It is so easy to make and turns out crispy and ultra flavorful. And a whole lot cheaper than buying something of the same quality at the store and you know exactly what is going into the mix.  It is even good as a snack in the middle of the day when you need that little pick-me-up or as a dessert option such as the parfait shown here. All you have to do is layer vanilla yogurt, blueberries and granola and voila –  a fantastic and healthy dessert option.

vanilla almond granola and parfait

Vanilla Almond Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup almond or vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray 2 large cookie sheets with non-stick spray. (I usually use non-stick pans as well)

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, mix together oil, honey and brown sugar and cook over medium heat while whisking continuously until it begins to simmer. Cook 30 seconds then remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

Pour the oil-honey mixture over the dry ingredients and stir well. I find it easier to use my hands to crunch the ingredients together as it seems to work better to get all ingredients well coated with the honey.

Pour the granola onto the prepared cookie sheets, dividing evenly between the two, and making sure it is mostly on one layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring twice during the baking process. Hint: It is easier to take the cookie sheets out of the oven to stir the ingredients then return to oven to continue baking.

Remove from oven and place cookie sheets on wire racks to cool completely. Stir to break up any large pieces then store in large airtight container. Mine keeps for at least two weeks and may keep longer but it never lasts that long.

Makes 5-6 cups.

Linda's Signature

Zucchini – Whatever Floats Your Boat!

Margherita Zucchini BoatsI have developed a taste for zucchini lately and have been looking for new ways to fix this nutritious and delicious veggie. Did you know it was a member of the summer squash family and delivers loads of Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6 and potassium? It even delivers smaller amounts of Vitamin A, magnesium, calcium and iron and all for only 33 calories for the entire zucchini!

Of course, now that I told you how low in calories this vegetable is, I am going to up the count by adding some delicious cheese but still keep it on the healthy side with the addition of tomatoes and fresh basil. You will find it quite similar to a margherita pizza but with a lot less calories!

Margherita Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

  • 3 zucchini
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, or to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1/8-1/4 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1/4-1/2 lb. sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 2-4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line with aluminum foil.

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and, using a teaspoon, scoop out seeds and just a little extra so that it can hold the other ingredients. Place on prepared cookie sheet. If you need to, cut a little off the bottom of each zucchini half so that it sits flat.

In a small bowl, mix 3 Tablespoons olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper. Brush over the top of each zucchini. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top of the garlic spread then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.

Zucchini BoatsRemove from oven and place slices of mozzarella around tomatoes and sprinkle with a little of the chopped basil and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the top and place under broiler until cheese has melted and browned. To serve, top with remaining basil and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

Note: The amount of ingredients you use is up to you and your family’s tastes. I like to use quite a bit of garlic and fresh basil when I prepare this dish and sometimes add some red pepper flakes to the olive oil-garlic mixture for a little extra kick. Enjoy!

Linda's Signature

Meatless Monday – Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

Parmesan Spaghetti SquashA delicious addition to any meal, spaghetti squash can be fixed many different ways but it is the fact that this vegetable can look like spaghetti that creates the many variations. In this recipe I am using the squash in place of pasta, similar to an Italian macaroni and cheese, and dressing it up a little with some fresh garlic. I served it as a side for grilled fish but it could just as easily be a side dish for meat of any kind.

Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-4 lb. squash
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1-1/4 cups Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped fine
  • Salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with aluminum foil.

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Season with 1 Tablespoons olive oil, salt & fresh ground black pepper. Place, cut side down, on prepared cookie sheet and cook for 25-35 minutes depending on size of squash.

Remove from oven when tender and wait for it to cool slightly. Taking a fork, shred the squash into what looks like spaghetti noodles. Place in a large bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil, roasted garlic, Parmesan cheese and additional salt and quite a bit of freshly ground pepper. Stir and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Note: In place of roasted garlic you can saute 1 teaspoon of minced garlic in a skillet for 1-2 minutes or until browned.

Linda's Signature