Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gotta LOVE Home Cookin...

This week has been my first full week working from home in quite some time so I was VERY excited to be able to cook some home cooked meals.  I had been saving up a lot of these recipes because they all looked so amazing!!!  All of these are quite healthy and for the tzatziki sauce often times put less sour cream or no sour cream, pending if we actually have non-expired sour cream in the fridge (more often than not it is expired!)  That being said, even sour cream is an all natural product so clearly isn't terrible for you :) 

Quick summary, Monday's meal is Salmon which I love.  I have been on a recent seafood kick so it was a nice twist to the normal fish tacos that we make where we cook up tilapia and then add some veggies.  This was super fast to make and the sauce and slaw are amazing!  This made plenty for Joe and I and he had left overs for lunch the following day!

Tuesday was another seafood meal for part of it.  The tostadas take some time because it's a lot of attention to making the corn tortillas toasty!  Besides that they are simple to make.  The lettuce wraps still didn't take a lot of time but the chicken took a bit to cook and making the tzatziki sauce doesn't take too long.  The combination of the tostadas and lettuce wraps was really what took the longest both turned out great and Joe and I both had left overs for the next day!

Wednesday is a quick and easy meal but I had never worked with ground lamb so I was super excited!  I love lamb, but beware, it can't be found at all grocery stores!  I found mine at whole foods and it was a very reasonable price as well!  It made the nacho's amazing and I think the extra 5 or so dollars we spent on getting lamb vs. beef was WELL worth it and I don't think we would make them without lamb! 

Anyways, since we are halfway through the week, please enjoy the first three meals I made! 

Seared Salmon Tacos with Honey-Lime Slaw + Sriracha Ranch
Fresh wild Alaskan salmon [enough to yield several tacos]
1-2 large ripe avocado, sliced
4-5 wheat tortillas
1/4 cup crumbled feta
 olive oil
1 lime, wedged

Spices for Salmon
ground cayenne pepper
garlic +/or onion powder
dried parsley
salt and pepper
+/or your favorite spice blend

3 TBSP homemade or store-bought ranch dressing
1 TBSP Sririacha chili sauce

1 heaping cup cabbage, finely chopped/shredded
1/4 small red onion, sliced thin
1-2 TBSP apple cider vinegar [optional]
1 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp dried or fresh cilantro, to taste
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp garlic powder
a pinch of salt

First make your slaw!  Toss together cabbage [plain, mixed, or purple!] and onion with the above ingredients and adjust to taste. If needed you can always add more cabbage or more onion/vinegar/honey/spices at the end so it's uber easy to customize to perfection.

For the sauce, whisk together ranch and Sriracha, using more Sriracha for a spicy sauce and less for a more mild drizzle.

Prep the tortillas by wrapping in a slightly moistened paper towel and microwaving for 25-30 seconds to steam.  I like to rub mine with a teeny bit of oil afterwards and toss them onto a heated pan  for a minute or so on each side.  This gives them a teeny bit of crunch/texture while still allowing them to bend soft-taco style.
Next move on to the salmon.  Heat a cast iron pan or skillet with a drizzle of oil + season both sides of your salmon with paprika, cayenne pepper, parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper, along with any additional seasonings.  The salmon I buy always has the skin left on one side - simply remove it with a knife or sear that side [unseasoned] first, it will peel right off after a minute or two!  Follow up the skin removal by seasoning that side as well.  I adore cooking my salmon with a sear/bake combo, but feel free to simply sear yours if you prefer to skip the extra step.  Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 450F.  Once your pan is  hot, add the salmon and sear on both sides for approx 2 minutes each.  Look for a reddish/golden crust with a rare center.  With a spatula, move the salmon to a foil lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 5-10 minutes depending on thickness.  The result is a crisp, flavorful crust on the outside with a tender flaky inside.
Now all that's left is to assemble your tacos, pile on the toppings, and dig in!  Crushing a fresh lime wedge atop each taco before they hit your face is optional, but oh-so delicious! Don't forget the slaw, fish, avocado, feta, and sauce!
Seared Salmon Tacos


Shrimp and Guacamole Tostadas
6 corn tortillas
 cooking spray
 cups grated cheddar cheese
 2 avocados
 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
 juice from 1 lime
 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
 1 Tbs ground cumin
 2 Tbs chili powder
 1 tsp crushed red or green pepper
 1 tsp garlic salt
 1 red bell pepper, cut into small slices
Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly coat both sides of the corn tortillas with cooking spray. Bake for 4 minutes on each side. Switch oven to broil. Evenly divide the cheese over the tortillas and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, 2-ish minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the avocados, cilantro, lime juice and a pinch of kosher salt. Mash up with a fork until you get guacamole. Go ahead and eat a few bites for your well being.

Toss the shrimp with the cumin, chili powder, crushed pepper flakes and garlic salt.  Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high. Sear the shrimp on one side for 2 minutes; flip and sear 30 more seconds. Remove from pan.

To the pan, add the sliced red bell pepper. Saute for 2 minutes, scraping the browned bits from the pan, seasoning the peppers. Sprinkle in a leetle salt.

Spoon the guacamole over each cheesy tostada, followed by shrimp and red bell pepper. Garnish each tostado with cilantro and give another good squeeze of lime juice over each one.

Mediterranean Chicken Lettuce Wrap

12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4-inch-long, 1-inch-thick strips
2 teaspoons Mediterranean Spice 
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette
4 romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
1 tablespoon thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup Red-Wine Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
 1/4 cup Tzatziki
  • 1/2 finely chopped, peeled, and seeded cucumber
  • Coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 5 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Pinch sugar
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • 5 cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
12 butter lettuce leaves
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano


Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon Mediterranean spice and place on grill. Cook, basting with balsamic vinaigrette and turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Season chicken with remaining teaspoon Mediterranean spice and remove from grill; set aside.

Place shredded romaine lettuce and red onions in a medium bowl; drizzle with red-wine vinaigrette and toss to combine. Divide mixture evenly among butter lettuce leaves and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon tzatziki.

Top each taco with 1 piece of chicken and garnish with chopped tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives. Season with parsley, basil, and oregano; serve.
Lettuce Wraps and Tostadas!

Greek Nachos
1 lbs ground lamb
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 1 cup Tzatziki
  • 1/2 finely chopped, peeled, and seeded cucumber
  • Coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 5 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Pinch sugar
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • 5 cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 Roma Tomato, diced
6 Pitas
Season ground lamb with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Oil pan with olive oil then brown the lamb until cooked to taste.  Drain the ground lamb then set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut each pita into 8ths and sprinkle with olive oil.  Place on baking sheet then toast in oven until crispy to perfection (about 10 minutes).

To assemble the nachos, place the pitas on the plate.  Then spread ground lamb over top.  Sprinkle diced tomatoes then spread Tzatziki sauce on top.  Sprinkle feta cheese to finish up the nacos and enjoy!

Yummmmmy Nachos!
Honey Apple Pork Loin

2.5-3 lbs. Pork Loin
3 sliced Red Delicious Apples
4 T Honey
2 T Cinnamon

Lay the apple slices (from two of the apples) in the bottom of the crockpot.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Then, cut slits in the pork loin (approx 1/2″-3/4″). Drizzle some honey into the slits.  Then place apple slices into the slits. Place the pork loin into the crockpot. Drizzle the top with the remainder of the honey. Place the rest of the apples on top.

Sprinkle whole pot with cinnamon.   Cook on low for 7 hours. For more flavor, you may poke holes in the pork. Then place the pork loin in a bag with honey and cinnamon and marinate it overnight.

The finished product out of the crock-pot!

Served with roasted potatoes and apples
Greek Chicken Pita Folds
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1½ teaspoons lemon pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
4 pita pocket breads
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tomato, sliced
½ cup chopped cucumber
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips

1. In slow-cooker, combine onion, garlic, chicken, lemon pepper, oregano, and allspice; mix to coat chicken with seasoning.
2. Cover and cook on LOW for 4–6 hours.
3. Heat pita bread as directed on package. Meanwhile, remove chicken from slow-cooker; place on cutting board. Using two forks, shred chicken.
4. To serve, stir yogurt into onion mixture in slow-cooker. Spoon chicken onto warm pita bread. With slotted spoon, transfer onion mixture onto chicken; top with tomato, cucumber, and red pepper strips.

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