Saturday, July 31, 2010

Grilled Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple

"The shrimp is on the barbie." Yeah, I really said it. Out loud. And was (rightfully) mocked for it. But since "Dumb and Dumber" is one of my favorite movies, I've always wanted to say that line and actually mean it. Which means (if you can read between the lines), I fired up my Weber and grilled shrimp for dinner tonight.

Tonight's menu was grilled teriyaki shrimp with pineapple over pine nut/scallion brown rice and grilled veggies on the side. Sounds fancy, right? WRONG - it was so simple and the prep was super short.

I originally had the best intentions of making my own teriyaki sauce...but the convenience of Trader Joe's got to me and I purchased this "Island Soyaki" instead. Really, the ingredients in this marinade are nearly identical to the recipe I was going to make anyways - ingredients from the label: soy sauce, sugar, pineapple juice, vinegar, soy oil, sesame seeds, fresh garlic, dried onion, fresh ginger, garlic granules, sesame oil, onion powder, ginger powder. Not bad! I can pronounce AND identify each ingredient.

Then I splurged and got the peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp from Coastal Seafoods to mask my un-homemade marinade.

I also hit up TJ's for their awesome brown rice medley (which I've used before - it's got brown rice, black barley, and daikon radish seeds - nutty, crunchy, and delish!). Then I jazzed up the rice by adding toasted pine nuts and green onions.

I needed some more veg on the side so I grilled up zucchini, yellow squash, and red pepper simply dressed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. About 5 minutes on each side was all it took.

That's pretty much it - easy peasy! And, if you don't have a charcoal grill, use an indoor grill pan or broiler and you'll get pretty much the same delicious result!

Grilled Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple
3/4 cup Island Soyaki marinade from Trader Joe's
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into bit-sized chunks

Soak wooden skewers for at least 30 minutes. Put shrimp and marinade in zip top bag, shake to coat, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Thread shrimp and pineapple on wooden skewers. Grill on medium-hot grill 2-3 minutes on each side or until pink and firm.

Serve over brown rice (recipe follows).

Brown Rice with Pine Nuts and Scallions
1 cup brown rice medley (from Trader Joe's)
2.5 cups water
1 vegetarian bouillon cube
1 cup toasted pine nuts (or peanuts or cashews)
1 cup chopped green onions

Boil water. Add rice and bouillon cube and return to boil. Simmer covered for 35 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add nuts and green onions. Cover and let sit until shrimp is finished grilling.

Serve with additional grilled veggies (preferably green ones!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tempeh Reubens

I love a good sandwich, and I rarely bring them for lunch 'cuz I like 'em hot and grilled and melty. And I don't make them often for dinner either because it seems a little indulgent (all that cheese!) so I try to make leaner dinners most nights.

But every once in awhile, that craving kicks in. You know the one I'm talking about...the one that makes you think a frosty cold beer and piping hot french fries from a neighborhood bar would be the perfect dinner. I've been there, done that. It's not healthy. A Tempeh Reuben satisfies that craving in a much healthier way.

You don't need to marinate tempeh, I read somewhere that it makes it fall apart. Just a quick dip in a little sauce and into a hot pan to sear on each side. The sauce I used was simply sesame oil and tamari (soy) sauce.

Also, I know you can make sauerkraut from scratch but it's cheap and yummy from a can. Plus, look at the ingredients - doesn't get much less processed than that!

I know it's traditional to use rye bread in a Reuben, but I have these cute little ciabatta rolls so I improvised. And, oh my gosh I know you are just sick to death of hearing about them, but Refrigerator Pickles are so good with everything I eat right now! They make Tempeh Reubens kick major Tuesday night butt.

Tempeh Reubens
1 package tempeh, cut into sandwich-sized squares
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce, or tamari
sauerkraut, drained
swiss cheese, sliced
1 tsp mayo
1 tsp ketchup
pickles, sliced or chopped
sandwich bread or rolls (preferably rye)

Mix sesame oil and soy sauce in shallow dish. Dip squares of tempeh in the mixture, then pan fry over medium-high heat until nice and golden brown on both sides and hot through. I dumped the rest of the oil/soy mixture on top of the tempeh as it was frying to use it all up.

Mix mayo, ketchup, and pickles together to make your "thousand island" dressing.

Layer mayo/ketchup mixture, pickles, tempeh, kraut, and cheese on bread.

Either do what I did and put it on a grilled roll/bun, or grill like a panini.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Salad on a Stick

We Minnesotans love stuff on a stick, as evidenced by the ridiculous display of walleye, candy bars, bacon, fruit, hotdish, and whatnot you find on a stick at the MN State Fair.

Or so I've heard - I've only been to the state fair once and I didn't eat anything on a stick. Mostly because it's all deep fried. Don't get me wrong, I love deep fried food but it's not the healthiest option and when you see all the unhealthy people at the state fair, it's very easy to say "no thanks" to what they are eating.

Why not make something green and lean on a stick? It's a simple way to get some veggies into people at a summer party. Plus it looks really cool on a plate. And it's easy to eat while standing and mingling and waiting to watch some epic fireworks in beautiful downtown Minneapolis.

This is a pasta salad version of Salad on a Stick, but there's a lot of different ways to make it. A Greek salad on a stick would have cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, squares of feta cheese drizzled with a red wine/oregano vinaigrette. A caprese salad on a stick would have fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette. Do you know of any other salads that would work on a stick?

Salad on a Stick
Cheese-filled tortellini, from the refrigerator case at the store
Zucchini and yellow squash, cut into thick slices or chunks
Red and yellow peppers, cut into big squares
Cherry tomatoes
Turkey pepperoni
Extra large black olives
Italian vinaigrette (I bought one of those envelopes of spices and added oil and vinegar in my blender to make it good and whipped).

Boil your tortellini according to package directions then rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Thread all ingredients on skewers.

Arrange on a platter and drizzle with Italian vinaigrette.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bar La Grassa Beans

I have to confess that my house is devoid of food right now. It's one of those days I need to scrounge to find something to eat. I've been wanting Hummus to go with my Refrigerator Pickles, but I'm out of garbanzos and I don't want to boil water on the stove for hours in this heat.

So I started digging around in my pantry cupboard looking for some thing resembling creamy hummus. I found a lonely can of large butter beans, thought "what the hell?" and mixed some in with my pickles and pickling liquid. I thought it would be good with some salty cheese so I crumbled some parmigiano-reggiano cheese on top and started snacking.

With the first bite, I had mega deja-vu. I had eaten this before....but where??? It hit me - this tastes exactly like the free appetizer you get at Bar La Grassa! City Pages even listed it as one of their 100 favorite local dishes earlier this year.

No recipe, just wanted to post this so I wouldn't forget how good it is.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Creamy Cucumber Salad

If you are hanging out in South Minneapolis this week and you see a curly-haired chick with a slightly green's me. I don't know if my skin really is green, but it should be after all the cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, and kale I've eaten this week.

I had yummy cukes from the Kingfield Farmer's Market and have been waiting and waiting for this time of year to make this salad from It's creamy and rich, but still light and healthy because the creaminess comes from yogurt.

I've been bringing this salad to lunch with some boiled beets thrown into the same tupperware. It turns the yogurt dressing fuchsia, and honestly it MAKES MY DAY to open my lunch container and see that beautiful bright color! How can anyone not smile when their lunch is hot pink???

The cucumber salad also goes very well with salmon burgers, made from this recipe. Know what else goes really well with salmon burgers? Refrigerator pickles! And a fresh slice of tomato. And mayo jazzed up with lemon juice and fresh dill. And toasty buns!

Anyways, I digress. This is a nice way to enjoy a no-cook side salad and use up some of those cucumbers you may have grown, purchased, or been given during the height of MN growing season.

Creamy Cucumber Salad, adapted slightly from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
2 cucumbers, sliced thinly
1/2 Tbsp salt
4 Tbsp plain whole milk yogurt
1 Tbsp mayo
juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
3 scallions, chopped
4 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese

Mix everything together. Chill. Eat.

ONE YEAR AGO: Nothing, I was totally on vacation!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles

There's a bar up by my lake cabin out in the middle of nowhere called The Pickle Factory. In the basement there are rows and rows of pickled things for sale. I bought a jar of spicy pickled mixed veggies (red pepper, cauliflower, green beans, and carrots). It was a nice addition to my bloody marys!

But ever since then I've been dreaming of making my own pickles, because six bucks for a pint of spicy pickled veggies is crazy! I knew I could do it for much less, and without all the mess of actual canning.

Today at the Kingfield Farmer's Market, I got some pickling cucumbers for $2 or $3 (can't remember which). I made these dead simple pickles and they're an excellent addition to a simple no-cook summer supper. Keep in mind, though, these are not spicy - they are very sweet. I thought I didn't like sweet pickles, but I was wrong. These are yummy.

My favorite way to eat these pickles is with hummus. Pickles and hummus on a sandwich, in a wrap, or just on crackers. It's a combination I learned at PDT, the bar hidden behind a telephone booth inside Crif Dogs restaurant in the East Village NYC. Cass and I went there in 2008 when she interviewed for a job (which she naturally nailed and was offered). While sitting at the bar enjoying a cocktail, we ordered the veggie dog - and it came smothered in hummus and pickles and was DELICIOUS. Brilliant.

Refrigerator Pickles, adapted from MyRecipes
5-6 cups sliced cucumbers (small "kirby" cukes work best but I've used regular cukes and they'll work too).
1 large sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Slice your cucumbers, onion, and garlic finely. Use a knife, mandoline, or zip 'em through the slicer attachment on your food processor. Place into a large bowl.

Boil all the remaining ingredients (except dill) in a saucepan for 1 full minute and pour over your veggies. Let cool to room temperature, then add dill and refrigerate.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

White Gazpacho

Sometimes I find it hard to entertain at my house in the summer because I don't want to turn on the oven or stove and add all that unnecessary heat into my un-air conditioned house.

That's why no-cook meals like gazpacho are genius. Cassandra inspired me with a text photo of what she called "CSA Green Gazpacho" last weekend. It sounded so refreshing I knew I wanted to make my own cold soups ASAP! [NOTE TO CASS: If you have a few minutes, I'd love it if you'd post in the comments what all went into your green version!]

For my summer deck dinner party last night, I made two kinds of gazpacho. One was the same kind I have made for years, and the other was a White Gazpacho, that actually turned out light green because I didn't peel my cucumbers. I liked both of them, Alicia preferred the traditional, and Terrin liked the white one. So, I am going to consider both recipes successful.

To go with our gazpacho, I had an assortment of hard and soft cheeses, bread, crackers, and olives. It was quite Mediterranean! And while there isn't any meat in this meal, it was substantial enough that we were all so full we turned down dessert (yes, really!).

The White Gazpacho is oddly sweet, but acidic from the vinegar. It's got the great cucumbery flavor that's grounded by the earthy almonds. I don't think I would enjoy a huge bowl of it as a main course, but it's perfect as tapas or a first course. And of course, since it's chilled it will cool you down and completely refresh you!

White Gazpacho, adapted from Ellie Krieger
3 thick slices day old crusty bread, cubed
1/2 cup warm water
1 large clove garlic, grated on microplane
1 large seedless cucumber, chopped
1 cup green seedless grapes, halved
3/4 cup Marcona almonds
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 small lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Pour water over bread cubes and let sit a few minutes to soak. Then blend the soaked bread and the rest of the ingredients together in a food processor or blender. Best if chilled at least an hour before serving. Garnish with more Marcona almonds or some toasted slivered almonds and halved green grapes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Asian Noodle Salad

Being a fan of hyperbole, I was immediately drawn to the title of a blog post from the Pioneer Woman. The title was: "My Most Favorite Salad Ever. Ever, Ever, Ever!"

The Pioneer Woman has all kinds of great recipes, and she has about a kazillion readers. I think the key demographic she's going for are truly beginner cooks because I personally get a little irked by all the photos of her chopping and preparing every single ingredient that goes into each dish. Like, really? That's how you cut up cabbage? Well shucks, I thought you used a fork! (Excuse the extreme sarcasm, it's late and I haven't had any alcohol at all today. Detoxing from vacation is hard!)

Anyways, the complete over-the-top gushing over this salad was enough to convince me to try it. And I'm glad I did, it was very good and very healthy. But it is a far cry from my most favorite salad ever (Anyone? Yep, it's the Nicoise! Which I've only mentioned about 8 thousand times on the blog). I liked this asian flavored salad because it wasn't doused in a high calorie peanut butter sauce for a change. It's light and very refreshing.

Also, the preparation of this salad was thrilling! Seriously - to be back in my kitchen after a vacation, prepping fresh veggies and whisking a's my happy place, my zen palace, my calm oasis. Chopping vegetables may just be one of the most therapeutic and restorative pasttimes I will ever experience. Just me and my Wusthof, slashing away at fresh summer produce!

I served my salad with some baked tofu (yeah, the pre-packaged Thai-flavored kind) for additional protein. Next time I'll grill my own tofu cuz that will taste way better. In the end, it was a satisfying, CRUNCHY, and pretty dinner.

Asian Noodle Salad, from The Pioneer Woman
1/2 lb cooked whole wheat pasta noodles (fettucini, linguini, or spaghetti will work)
1 head napa cabbage, chopped
1 bag bean sprouts
sliced bell peppers, in a variety of colors
a big bunch of spinach
a few scallions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
*add any other veggies that strike your fancy!

Add all these veggies and noodles to a BIG bowl, then prep your vinaigrette.

8 Tbsp soy sauce
8 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (yes, really! Another bunch!)

Whisk these ingredients together and toss with your veggies. Like any other cabbage slaw, it wilts a little so you may think you don't have enough liquid at first but trust me, you will.

ONE YEAR AGO: Collard Wrap

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grilled Pizza

Oh heeeeyyyyy food blog readers! I didn't forget about you beautiful people! OK, maybe I did forget about you a little bit but only because I was soaking up sunshine for 2 weeks up north at the lake. I'm sure you understand? Minnesota summers are so glorious when the weather cooperates!!!

I had AMAZING food on vacation. I cooked up this Trader Joe's brown rice medley and made a greek salad with half of it (cucumbers, artichokes, garbanzo beans, feta, red wine vinaigrette) and a mexi salad with the other half (corn, black beans, edamame, lime/chili oil vinaigrette). It was a great way to get my whole grains and veggies even while surrounded by burgers and bratwursts.

But my proudest achievement was grilling pizza. I dug 2 whole wheat pizza doughs from my freezer and brought them to the lake on a whim. I've always wanted to grill pizza but didn't have the nerve. I thought with moral support from my mom and wine, we'd be able to figure it out!

There was no rolling pin at the cabin but fortunately I had dozens of bottles of wine. I rolled the crust out thin with a wine bottle and threw it on the hot grates of the grill. After about 1 minute the bottom was charred so we flipped the crust over and quickly threw on fresh tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions, olives, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Then I just closed the grill cover to finish cooking the crust and melt the cheese. In all, the pizza was on the grill for only about 5 minutes.

The crust turned out perfectly crispy and the toppings were so fresh and delicious! I totally impressed the parents with this dinner! With a big green salad and red

My dad was right when he said (over and over and over again during the last 2 weeks) "It just doesn't get much better than this!" A truly Minnesotan sentiment, but spot on nonetheless!