Monday, May 26, 2014

Grilled vegetable marinade

We have been trying to incorporate more vegetables daily, and while we love green beans and broccoli (the greens of choice in our household), I love grilled zucchini and yellow squash. I could eat these every single day.

My "usual" routine is to cut up the zucchini, squash, and an onion (occasionally an eggplant), add some salt and pepper, then put in several (healthy) splashes of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I was looking for something similar but different, and ran across So Tasty So Yummy's blog. She has a grilled asparagus recipe and recommended that I try that marinade. It was a little different in that it not only has balsamic vinegar, but also includes some lemon juice, soy sauce, and garlic.

This marinade was definitely a keeper! It had a little more depth to the marinade, and the vegetables turned out delicious.

Can you believe this much vegetables (raw, tossed in marinade)...

... turn into this after being cooked? Yum.

  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellowneck squash, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

  1. Place all the diced vegetables into a large Ziploc bag.
  2. Add the marinade 60 minutes before cooking.

Source: Adapted from So Tasty So Yummy

Bobby Flay's Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze

While I love roasted vegetables, "roasted vegetable meatloaf" was not on my radar... until someone on one of my forums recommended this dish. I would never have tried this dish (despite the 300+ positive reviews) had it not been for her recommendation- and I would have never found my favorite turkey meatloaf. Yes, it was just that good! Don't get me wrong- when it comes to a beef meatloaf, this is still our reigning favorite. But, this one was delicious- like out of the world, I never expected this to be so darn good, delicious.
Bobby Flay's original version uses a mixture of ground chuck, veal, and pork ("meatloaf mix"), but I decided to go with ground turkey- yes it's more lean and not as flavorful, but I was told that the meatloaf would still be incredibly moist due to the roasted vegetables within. Let me tell you- it didn't sacrifice flavor or tenderness at all.

I also love that there are vegetables within this meatloaf (or for you parents, what an easy way to "sneak" in veggies), and the balsamic glaze- oh, the super delicious balsamic glaze!- you are in for a scrumptious treat!

Some notes I learned:
  • Use a Silpat or parchment paper- Balsamic is really sticky, and it leaves for an extremely sticky (and messy) if it gets onto your pan. Make sure to cover your pan well with parchment paper (don't use foil, trust me). If you've got a Silpat, use that instead of parchment paper
  • The meatloaf is rather flat- This meatloaf shape isn't your traditional hunk of meat- it is pretty narrow height-wise (look at above picture)
See how flat I am?

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves (I used 1-1/2 tsp dried thyme)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (I used 2 Tbsp dried parsley)
  • 1.75-2# ground turkey (we use 93% lean ground turkey)
  • 1 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup, divided
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium/medium-low heat. Add the zucchini, peppers, onion, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until almost soft, 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl.
  5. Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup and 2 Tbsp of the balsamic vinegar, and the vegetables; Mix until just combined.
  6. Mold the meatloaf on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper (see notes above). 
  7. Whisk together the remaining ketchup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl then brush the mixture over the entire loaf.
  8. Bake the meatloaf for approximately 1-1/2 hours.
  9. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Source: Adapted from Bobby Flay

Skinnytaste's Fiesta Bean Salad

If you love beans, you're going to go bonkers for this healthy salad. Beans are mixed in with cilantro, red onions, avocado, and cherry tomatoes in a cumin-lime dressing. It is so refreshing, light, and healthy! Perfect for all the upcoming BBQ parties. 

You can make this salad in advance, and add the avocados right before serving (so they don't turn brown on you).

I also like to add in some chicken (my favorite way here) to increase the protein factor. I made this over the weekend, and divided this up into (4) 1-cup(ish) servings. Can't wait to have this light and satisfying salad for lunch!

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice (this was approx 2 small limes for me)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, diced

  1. In a large bowl, combined the garlic, lime juice, oil, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt.
  2. Add the black beans, chickpeas, tomato, red onion, and cilantro; mix well.
  3. When you're ready to eat, add the diced avocados, and serve immediately.

Source: Skinnytaste

Overnight Oats

I've been seeing this talked about a lot amongst friends. I love having oatmeal for breakfast, and while cooing oatmeal is simple, I love how creamy and filling this version is. I would call this a "suped up" oatmeal since it's more than just oats- it has tons of calcium (milk- use regular, coconut, almond- any milk you like), protein (greek yogurt, or if you're like me, I love Kroger's CarbMaster yogurt), and healthy carbs (oats!). You can also top it with nuts (walnuts, almonds, or pecans), granola, or fresh fruit. I can eat it in the morning and I feel full until lunchtime.

There are many versions out on the internet, but I think this makes a great base and you can add your own varieties to make it your favorite!

I bought these 8-oz Ball jars at Kroger


  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned (not quick cooking) oats
  • 1/4 cup milk (I use almond milk)
  • 3-oz Greek yogurt (I use 1/2 of 6-oz container of Kroger CarbMaster yogurt)
  • Pinch of cinnamon

  1. The night before you plan to eat your oats, assemble all ingredients above and mix well. Seal in an airtight container.
  2. Refrigerate the mixture overnight (they will be ready in about 5 hours, but overnight is best).
  3. Wake up and enjoy the next day!

I like to top mine with...

  • Fresh fruit- Sliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries
  • Granola
  • Nuts- Crushed pecans, almonds, or walnuts

Source: Adapted from Lauren Conrad

Mojo Criollo Pork Chops

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

This truly marks our grilling season, and today couldn't have been a better day to bust out the grill. Sunny, warm, and non humid, grilling on days like these are pretty terrific. I had bought this marinade years ago, and completely forgot about it until I passed it at Kroger doing my weekly grocery shopping.

As the bottle states, Mojo Criollo marinade is made with "garlic, onion, and citrus for tender, tasty meat and poultry." In the past, we have used it to marinade flank steak, pork chops, and fajita beef. It really makes it flavorful, and the taste is out of this world.

I love grilling pork chops with some garlic salt and pepper, but I really wanted something refreshing and different, so in went this marinade into my shopping cart. I also purchased a boneless pork loin and cut up my own pork chops (thick cut all the way), and let them marinade for almost 24 hours.

The result? The pork chops came out moist and tender with a zesty spicy/smoky flavor. I am definitely glad I let it marinate for awhile (I think at least overnight so the marinade tenderizes the meat), and I couldn't have been more pleased with the end result.


  • 1-1/2 cups Goya Mojo Criollo marinade
  • 4# boneless pork loin, cut into thick 3/4"-1" pork chops
  • Goya Adobo all-purpose seasoning

  1. In a large Ziploc bag, add the marinade and pork chops, making sure the chops are fully immersed in the marinade. 
  2. Place the Ziploc into a glass pan (just in case the bag leaks), and refrigerate for at least overnight up to 24 hours.
  3. Prepare the grill; while the grill heats up, remove the pork chops from the fridge and let it sit in room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the pork chops from the marinade (discard the marinade), season the chops with adobo seasoning, and grill it until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees. While the pork chops cook, baste it with additional marinade (don't use the marinade that the pork chops were marinating in)- it should cook in 15-20 minutes.

Adapted from Goya

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Alton Brown's Onion Dip (from scratch)

Onion Dip (picture does not do it justice)

This is one heck of a delicious dip- I made this Friday night, and I had to "test it out" before going to bed... I ended up eating half the dip! Then, the next morning, I woke up craving it and ended up eating the other half. This dip didn't even last 6 hours, and because Darin doesn't like onion dip, I ate the whole thing. It was so SO good, and perfect for this summer all year round. Much better and flavorful than the dry mix kind :)

Cooking time is long (you want to caramelize the onions to get great flavor), but the actual prepwork is easy and simple. Reviews said to make this ahead of time, and I am so glad I did- I tasted it right when I mixed the ingredients together and wasn't blown away. 2 hours later, I took it out of the fridge to "test it out", and it was all over- I was hooked. Having a few hours to allow the flavors to meld made all the difference in the world.

  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups diced onions (I used 2 large Vidalia/sweet onions)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (make sure it's KOSHER salt, not table salt)
  • 1-1/2 cups sour cream (I used reduced-fat)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's full-fat mayo; don't use reduced-fat)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper (don't use black pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Pair this with- potato chips (we love Ruffles), baby carrots, sliced cucumbers

  1. In a saute pan or Dutch oven on medium-low, add oil, onions, and salt. Saute the onions until they are caramelized into a golden brown color, about 1-1.5 hours. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place the cooled onions into a food processor to mince the onions finely (glad I did this, as I didn't want chunks of onions, and processing it allowed the onions to really "melt" into the sour cream mixture.)
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add in the cooled, minced onions.
  4. Refrigerate the mixture for a few hours before serving.
Yield: approx. 4 cups

Adapted from Alton Brown

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