Roasted Dill Salmon, Sweet Potato, & Brussels Sprouts

One of the easiest AND delicious meals I’ve made in awhile, this series of recipes will blow you away. It’s so simple, but so good, I don’t know how to explain it.

I’m going to give you these recipes in paragraphs rather than my normal style just to keep it short and to the point. I highly recommend reading before you start cooking, but you do you, maybe you like living on the edge.

This meal is perfect for two for dinner, or just for one loner (like myself) for a lunch and a dinner

So that I don’t get sued, and so that you’re fully aware, the salmon recipe is not mine. I’ll post a hyperlink and give credit where it is due because I’m not a thief (except when I’m stealing your heart with my cooking…. that was such a bad joke just lock me up now).

For the sweet potato:

  • Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and lightly oil a small roasting pan (maybe a tablespoon of oil). Make sure the bottom is coated completely. Take a sweet potato and peel that sucker. Rinse it. Grab a cutting board and cut it into small chunks (not like super small, but smaller than a golf ball). Put the sweet potato chunks into the roasting pan. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes all over those suckers (more salt than anything). Put them in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan once of twice to turn em. You should be able to easily cut through them with a butter knife, that’s how you know they are ready.

For the brussels sprouts:

  • Preheat oven, if not done already, to 400F degrees and again, lightly oil a small roasting pan with a tablespoon of oil, fully coating the bottom. Take about a 1/2 pound fresh brussels sprouts, rinse them in a colander, and cut off the stems of each little, delicious sprout. Then, slice them in half and place each half flat side down in the pan. Try to pour a little oil on top, then sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Cook them in the oven, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the sprouts are browned, even slightly blackened on the outside.

For the dill salmon: 

The original recipe is at this link here. I am just reiterating it for convenience, but it’s not my recipe!

  • Preheat the oven to 475F degrees, after you’ve cooked the veggies above. Take some fresh dill and chop up about two handfuls of it (you should take the “leaves” off the stems and put them in a pile, then take a knife and continually chop through them). Put a few large chunks of butter into a roasting pan, along with the dill. Place in the oven and let cook until that amazing mixture is sizzling. Take out the pan and place the salmon skin side up (if there’s no skin, just whatever side is good). Cook for 4 – 6 minutes. Grab the pan out of the oven (peel the skin off the salmon if there is any). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then flip, and sprinkle again, and place back into the oven for an additional 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Serve it with some lemon juice and fresh slices!!

And that’s it! This ridiculously easy series of recipe makes an amazing meal for you and a date, or just for you! Treat yo self.

 

Power Hour Salad

Alright, listen up. You have a limited income (probably, if you’re a college student suffering from a broken lending system that we can’t escape even with bankruptcy LOL FUN), and you may not eat very healthy all the time because of it. That’s okay though, we are going to change that.

Making this salad is just another little step you can take to eat healthy and be a little less broke at the same time. It is vegetarian, but it’s packed with protein and the good stuff (I want to stress that a protein-packed vegetarian meal is not an oxymoron. It’s absolutely a thing). So, to not bore you further, here it goes!

The Power Hour Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of cooked grains such as quinoa, barley, etc.** (I used the “Super Grains” blend from Whole Foods, it’s pretty tasty and relatively cheap)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed and DRIED!! with a paper towel**
  • A few slices of a red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 – 3 handfuls of mixed spring greens or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup (or handful) of cherry or grape tomatoes (I really love zima, they are orange and sweet and ugh so good)
  • 1/3 of a large cucumber or 1 baby cucumber, chopped and seeded if that’s your thang
  • 1 spoonful of hummus, whatever you like (I love this hummus, it’s magical)
  • 2-3 spoonfuls crumbled feta cheese

Optional Salad Dressing**:

  • 1/4 cup of Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of half a lemon (use the other half for tea or lemon water. Be creative, not wasteful)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper (to your liking)

Instructions:

  1. **If you’re new to this: Before you do anything, read that ingredients list and prepare everything! Cut and prep everything so it doesn’t take you forever.
  2. NOW, DO THIS NOW; cook your grains. It’s going to take awhile. Pick something like quinoa and read the package for cooking times. Usually, it will take you about 30 minutes. If you do choose to cook quinoa, try to make sure you rinse it through a fine mesh strainer before cooking. So, get that water boiling before you do anything else.
  3. Once you have begun cooking your grains, get a frying pan, heat it to medium-high heat, and add the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Next, add the onion to the pan and cook until they have a slight yellow look to them (but not browned).
  4. Now to add the garlic and chickpeas! Stir it on up and cook for another two to three minutes. Take off the heat and place into a bowl.
  5. If you didn’t already, cut your veggies!
  6. Take out a large bowl and add the salad greens you are using. Start to assemble everything by adding the tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas and onions (not all of them, save some and make a pita wrap maybe?), the cooked grains, hummus, and feta cheese.
  7. If you would like to add a simple homemade salad dressing, keep reading. Otherwise, mix it all up and you’re good to go!!
  8. For the salad dressing: Get a small bowl. Whisk together the Greek yogurt, lemon, and honey. Next add the oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix it all together and there you have it! You may choose to add other herbs or spices. It’s really whatever you prefer.

Side Notes:

**It may be easier to make a whole cup of cooked grains and reserve the rest for another recipe!! That’s what I do.

**You need to make sure whenever you fry anything with oil that you limit the amount of water in contact with the item. Please make sure after you rinse the chickpeas, you dry them too to prevent yourself from being burned

**I also think this salad is great with tzatziki, which is a lot like the salad dressing above, as it’s a yogurt sauce that is so delicious. It’s a little expensive though, and if you’re not a big fan you could end up wasting it.

Cherry Tomato, Almond, and Feta Salad

I’m going to get to the point real fast for you:

This salad is delicious and you should absolutely make this with a halloumi veggie sandwich

I came up with the recipe on the spot when I had nothing else to eat. It’s great with lunch, and a perfect dinner side dish. Think chicken or sustainably sourced salmon. You can always enjoy it as a quick snack, no judgement from me!

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped kale (tip on Kale Prep)
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp oil (prefer sunflower, olive works too)
  • 1 tsp of vinegar, like white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds, raw or toasted in a pan
  • 1-2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves (chopped), optional

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the spinach and kale. Mix together for even distribution.
  2. Add the honey, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk this together to make a quick, yummy salad dressing.
  3. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the large bowl, along with the almonds.
  4. Mix in the salad dressing (as much as you’d like) and toss the salad.
  5. Add the feta cheese now and lightly mix to prevent the cheese from becoming an absolute disaster in the bowl.
  6. Serve, topping it with fresh basil if available.

Odd Thoughts: September 26th

As I sit here on my break at work, I am painfully reminded of the time just a month ago when I wished I was back in school and busy. Oh how young and naive I was at 20 years and 8 months old. With almost no free time, except for when I’m not sacrificing my soul to the almighty gods of homework, I have realized there isn’t much time to plan what to eat. What ever is quick and cheap will end up in my stomach because I honestly don’t have time to contemplate the amount of sugar in that energy bar. I think all students with packed schedules can relate to this. It’s an uphill battle to eat healthy, get enough sleep, get good grades, and stay sane.

Where there is a will… Oh who am I kidding! I want to eat healthy, and I don’t need a cliche to tell you that if you really want to do something, you’ll get it done. Recently, I’ve been prepping meals at 10pm, sometimes until 1am, for the upcoming days. I make incredibly boring, but healthy, dishes that I know I’ll eat no matter what. If I have to eat broccoli and chicken for every dinner, so be it! (Unless there’s pizza) I’ve come to notice that it saves me a lot of money too.

You can definitely do the same thing for yourself; you just have to see the benefit of it. It’s like working out, except more fun because you see the physical fruits of your labor right away. When your fridge is full of prepped meals, it shows your hard work in a weirdly satisfying way. You also start to feel the effects of eating better within days. Trust me, it’s worth it.

ron-eating

 

Breakfast Tacos

This recipe is so easy, so I want to write it concisely so you can get to enjoying these wonderful vegetarian tacos

Ingredients:

  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Shredded Cheese (Mexican, White Cheddar, Pepper Jack)
  • Avocado, peeled and mashed
  • Tortillas, taco sized
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream, for topping
  • Hot Sauce (I love Trader Joe’s Chili Sauce)
  • Eggs, scrambled
  • Salt
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder

Instructions:

  1. Prepare all ingredients. If you’re making one or two for yourself, use a handful of each the cheese and tomatoes. Grab one egg for one person, three for two people, and so on.
  2. Take the eggs you’re using and scramble them with a pinch of each salt, chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder.
  3. Put a saucepan on the stove top, set the temperature to medium-low, and cook the eggs. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula until they are fluffy and just a little wet.
  4. Meanwhile, heat your tortillas in the microwave between damp paper towels, about thirty seconds.
  5. Grab a tortilla and smear a generous amount of avocado on it. Place egg on top of tortilla.
  6. Top off the tortilla with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, Greek yogurt/sour cream, and hot sauce.
  7. Enjoy because it’ll be the best part of your day.

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Note: Whole Wheat Flour

Whether it’s whole wheat or white whole wheat flour, you are going to have to be careful while using it when baking.

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This flour is tricky and sticky. If you are making a batter, ensure that you DO NOT OVERMIX. The best way to make certain you don’t is to only mix until you can’t see any loose flour. If its all blended, STOP. I avoid using a hand or stand mixer. Use that “I LIFT” arm strength and mix it by hand.

What will overmixing do?

If you overmix your batter, whatever is being made will be edible…. it just won’t be that good. The product will be stiff and without fluffiness. It may be too dense, especially in the case of bread.

Odd Thoughts : August 7th

After working two jobs and taking a class this summer, I can proudly claim I am still alive. However, I can’t say I’m unscathed. Being a camp counselor is like being a mom to thirty kids all at once. All the yelling and talking back doesn’t take away from how much fun it really was. Pool every day; arts and crafts with 5 year olds. It certainly brought out the inner kid in me when one of the little girls would look up at me, smiling and proud, to claim she just farted. I don’t know how, but I almost forgot to mention all of the questions I got about marriage and a boyfriend. All of the kids were convinced that I should be married at twenty with three children and a house.

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Overall though, my summer has been an A+ for work, but a C- for a healthy lifestyle. I definitely was active every single day chasing kids around and playing “Catch the Counselor” in the pool. My diet though was like a kid’s dream. I snacked way to often, and I don’t think I’ve ever baked so much in my life. Unfortunately I’ve compromised my healthy lifestyle, even though this was mostly because I wanted to post for this blog and my instagram.

Going forward, I’m not going to be posting as many dessert recipes or snacks. I now have time to focus on the best stuff, my healthy but still damn delicious, meals. I’ll probably work my way down from breakfast to dinner. We’ll see!

My Garden

Living in College Park was a constant reminder of what I missed at home; my garden. In the concrete stop between Baltimore and D.C, there was little room to grow anything unless it was at the school. I discovered, a bit too late, about the community garden plots I could have rented.

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Now I’m home, so it doesn’t really matter. I can’t grow in the ground this year because we’re moving out of this house, but I have so many pots that it doesn’t even matter.

Anything I grow is grown without pesticides or toxins that hurt the ecosystem. I use recycled rainwater and kitchen water for my plants. If there’s any way to reduce waste, pollution, and my impact on the surrounding environment, I do it. Any plant matter that would be wasted is composted 🙂

So, basically it’s an organic potted garden across my front and back deck. It’s lovely and always worth my time. I believe a garden is patience at work, something we must all learn and grow to appreciate.

My favorite thing to grow, and eat, are tomatoes of all kinds. this year I’m growing sun gold, vine, and yellow goddess cherry tomatoes. Also, Roma tomatoes and I’m thinking about some better boys.

Love Dove farm is the vendor I got this tomato plant from. I usually don’t buy my plants; I grow them from seeds. I couldn’t resist though. They’re tomatoes are to die for. A worthy investment.

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I made a trellis for my wax and green bean plants. I may be too excited about them. Nerding out for beans.

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Garden

On the back porch, I stick to tomatoes and beans, where as up front, I have more delicate plants to tend to. Mixed salad greens, basil, and various herbs that are taking forever to sprout are sprawled on the front steps of this old house.

herbs

Every morning, it brings a smile to my face as I walk out the door to see the progress my seedlings have made. All the plants were started from a few seeds, a little hope, and a consistent want to help them grow. That’s really all you need to do to have a garden, besides read up a bit. A lot of what I have learned about gardening has come from reading books from the library and experimenting on my own. If you fail, it’s really no big deal! Try again, and try something new. Fix the problems.

garden 1

My first time growing any vegetables was with my Roma tomato plant. Each tomato ended up having a black bottom, caved in. Instead of letting it go on, I googled what was up. Turns out, my plant was suffering from calcium deficiency, a side effect of which was blossom end rot. I bought calcium chloride online to solve the problem. That’s what you have to do, in the garden and in life. Be a fixer.

 

 

In a month, when I move into my new apartment, I’ll be on the verge of tears. Withdraw symptoms will be unpleasant for my roommates. We don’t have a balcony at the apartment complex, so no outdoor plants. I’m just going to try to live in the moment and enjoy my plants as much as I can right now.

basil

Grapefruit Chicken Marinade

The inspiration for this recipe came to me when I was actually reading another marinade recipe online. In the instructions, whoever wrote it said to use any citrus juice you’d like. I don’t think he/she meant grapefruit! It was the only citrus I had at hand at the time, but the marinade turned out perfect.

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I can’t find the inspirational recipe anywhere, but I’ve written my own grapefruit marinade that knocks any others out of the park! I love this recipe because it doesn’t use any sweeteners. Fresh grapefruit juice is enough because as you cook the chicken, the sugars in the juice caramelize for a slight sweet note. I make this ALL the time.

Depending on when you need to cook the chicken, you can make the marinade up to a day in advance. I like to marinate for a good 4-5 hours, even overnight sometimes. An hour is the minimum I’d say.

Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup grapefruit juice, freshly juiced
  • 2 tbls distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or sunflower)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1-3 tbls sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3-4 chicken breasts

Instructions:

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  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl or plastic bag and stir. Allow to sit for 5- 10 minutes before adding the chicken.
  2. Tenderize the chicken, poking each side with a pair of forks. Place chicken in the marinade.
  3. Put the marinade with the chicken into the fridge for at least an hour, up to a day.
  4. Grill, saute, or bake the chicken after it’s finished marinating!

 

 

Farmor’s Birthday

Today was my grandma’s birthday, a day after my father’s. I can’t imagine giving birth a day before my own birthday. She’s an incredible woman who deserves a lot more credit than she’s given. I’m not talking about giving her lots of gifts and presents. Actions and choices speak much louder than objects and words. Food does too.

I decided to cook Farmor my Norwegian Waffles for brunch and set up a nice table for us to simply enjoy our time together. With fresh fruits, jam, and honey, I don’t know if anything could have made this afternoon better. I must say, they were the best damn waffles I’ve ever made. Not to be cliche, but who cares, they were made with love!

brunch with farmor

Happy Birthday Farmor!

Maximum Yogurt Deliciousness

I have trouble making decisions, about everything. Whether it was choosing my major or which carton of eggs (because they’re all so different right?). Sometimes, there are just too many options to choose from. I’m not complaining! I’d rather have variety than be limited, but choosing the right… anything? can be difficult.

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If you shop at a grocery store, you’ve probably seen the wall or isle of yogurt options. Fruit in the bottom, fat-free, sugar-free, candy add ins, all types of Greek yogurt, and so it goes. I probably haven’t even covered half the choices. With all of these brands, types, and “healthy” claims, I used to be lost and confused on what the hell I should buy. “Greek yogurt is so good for you! With probiotics, antibiotics, holy water, golden flakes, it’s all great!” If you look at a standard container of flavored Greek yogurt though, the sugar content is comparable to a serving of ice cream. Fruit-in-the-bottom yogurt is even worse. Health claims scream from the labels, making empty promises a lot of the time.

I love what Michael Pollan said about labels with health claims in his book and documentary In Defense of Food.  “If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.” I live by this advice. When I grocery shop, I buy food without labels or with little to say if it has a label.

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I recommend following this advice with all of your food shopping, but especially yogurt. Buy plain and simple. Every time I shop for food, I buy a large container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. I don’t listen to the health claims; I just now it has added protein and I like the thickness of it. Plain Greek yogurt sounds bland as hell if you aren’t used to flavoring things on your own, but that’s what I’m here for! You can eat healthy and enjoy it too.

Okay, so first, buy the plain Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt. Just make sure it’s plain).

Decide how you want to eat it. Do you want to have yogurt for breakfast? Is it a snack? How about savory options? I have a few recipes for each.

Breakfast

  • Take some yoYogurt with cinnamon + honey + vanilla + blueberriesgurt and add honey + cinnamon + fresh fruit. Don’t add the fruit till you’re happy with the sweetness. I don’t want to tell you how much to add because I’m weird and sweetness isn’t a priority. Only add around 1/8 tsp cinnamon for each 1/3 cup yogurt. You can make this a day or two ahead.

 

 

 

  • Greek yogurt with maple syrup + toasted walnuts + ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract per 1/3 cup yogurt.
    • I love this on an autumn morning. The maple syrup may make it a bit thinner if you use a larger amount. I recommend having this with an apple or waffles, but don’t add the syrup to the waffles! You’ve already got it.
  • Yogurt + vanilla extract + almond extract + toasted almonds + fresh blueberries
    • Both extracts ¼ teaspoon per 1/3 cup yogurt
  • Add your favorite cereal (low in sugar I hope) to yogurt for a longer lasting full feeling

Sweet Snack

I usually just add a spoonful of each ingredient (besides extracts and spices) for a few spoonfuls of yogurt

Yogurt 2

  • Yogurt + natural peanut butter + jam
    • Add more jam than peanut butter.
  • Yogurt + natural peanut butter + honey + cinnamon + Nutella OR chocolate chips (unless you’re a rebel)
  • Yogurt + Nutella + peanut butter chips (this is enough sugar, I promise)
  • Yogurt + lemon juice + honey
  • Yogurt + jam + chocolate chips or toasted, crushed nuts
    • Any type of jam will do, but I love blueberry
  • Yogurt + pumpkin puree + cinnamon + toasted walnuts
  • Yogurt + orange juice + orange zest + vanilla extract
  • Yogurt + broiled strawberries + brown sugar

Savory

  • Dips for chips and veggies
    • Yogurt + toasted sunflower seeds + lemon juice + thyme
    • Yogurt + chopped green onion + minced garlic or garlic powder + salt + olive oil
  • Sandwich or pita spread
    • yogurt + fresh dill + lemon juice + salt + little bit of garlic

IF YOU WANT SPECIFIC RECIPES WITH AMOUNTS AND ALL THAT JAZZ, POST A COMMENT AND LET ME KNOW.

Other Uses

Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream, which is less calories if you’re into that. I just like the way it tastes.

Probably works as a good calking agent if you leave it out in the sun

It can help you live to 100 if you rub it on your elbows each morning

It can turn you into a time lord for a split second if you close your eyes. You’d have to each five tubs of it though for this to occur.

Greek yogurt is a great hair gel. Wear it to all family get-togethers and especially on dates.