Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blackened Tuna with Sweet Onion Relish

Blackened Tuna with Sweet Onion Relish

I love tuna steak.  Dan, not so much.  This recipe he loved.  So much so, he told me that I could make it over and over again.  He especially loved the sweet onion relish on top of the tuna steak.

The nice thing about pan-searing tuna is that you can control the level of "done-ness" (is that a word?).  Dan likes his tuna medium well.  I like mine medium rare. 

I didn't use Sushi grade tuna, so that is why I cooked it a little bit longer.  Adjust cooking time accordingly for your liking.   

This recipe is super easy.

Serves 2

What you need to make this dish:

2 medium slices sweet or Vidalia onion
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 Tuna steaks (4-6 ounces each)
3 tablespoons salted butter, divided
1-2 teaspoons Blackened Seasoning (your favorite brand)
Coarse sea salt, to taste
1 medium lime, quartered
Fresh chopped dill weed
Fresh chopped chives

Preheat grill to 350 degrees.

Brush onion slices with one teaspoon of the oil, on both sides. 

Grilling sweet onions before slicing and
adding to the pan brings out the flavor.

Toss onion slices on the grill.   Cook on one side only for five minutes and do not flip. 

Brush tuna steaks with another teaspoon of the oil and season with the Blackened seasoning, more or less to taste.  Sprinkle with course sea salt.

Wipe a cast iron or heavy flame-safe skillet with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil with a paper towel.  Heat skillet over the side burner on your grill.   Add one tablespoon of the butter. 

Dan likes his tuna steak medium well,
so I added his to the pan first.

Once butter melts and the skillet is smoking hot, add the tuna.  Cook tuna on three minutes each side for medium rare, or five minutes on one side and four on the other for medium.  Squirt tuna with juice from one quarter of the fresh lime while cooking.

Remove to plate and keep warm.

Turn heat down or off under skillet.

Remove the onions from the grill.  Carefully slice and add to hot skillet.  Return to heat.  Add one more pat of butter.  Squirt with juice of 1/4 of the lime.   Saute the onions for about five minutes.  

Return the tuna steaks to the skillet on top of the onions.  Cook for one or two more minutes to re-warm.  Add the last pat of butter.

Serve onions over tuna.  Be sure to include the butter from the pan.  

Serve each tuna steak with a lime wedge.  Top with fresh dill weed and chives.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tomato Talk Part IV/Salad Days Part III - Stuffed Tomatoes with Mushrooms and Garlic

I know that some are getting snow up north.  Snow!  

It was rainy down here in the Orlando area this weekend.   Today the temperature only topped out at about 70 degrees.  It's going to be in the 40's tonight.   But then it's going back up to 90 this weekend.  Crazy!

Still we are on the healthy and lighter eating kick for the warm months.   As part of my "Tomato Talk" and "Salad Days" series (so you can find it under both for later reference if you want to make this dish), I am bringing you a salad that can be served warm on a cooler night or room temperature on a hot day.  

Tomato Talk/Salad Days Part III -
Stuffed Tomatoes with Mushrooms and Garlic

Serves 4

4 vine ripened tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced baby bella (crimini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon Elephant garlic, chopped
2  teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
Course sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Other:  Cooking spray
                 Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice tomatoes into quarters but not all the way through so that the four slices are still connected.  

Add olive oil to skillet.  Heat skillet over medium heat for about one minute and then add the diced mushrooms.  Cook mushrooms for about four minutes until browned.

Add garlic and cook for one more minute.

Stir in thyme and Balsamic vinegar.   Add salt and pepper.  

Spray baking dish with cooking spray.   Add sliced tomatoes, open side up.  Spoon 1/4 of the mushroom and garlic mixture into each tomato. 

Bake for ten minutes.  

Turn on broiler.  Top each tomato with 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese.  Broil for about three minutes until cheese slightly browns.

Top with fresh parsley, if using.

Serve immediately or let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.    Great with baked chicken or fish.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bruschetta-Style Garlic and Cheese Toasts

Okay, I am now on this "bruschetta" kick, or variations of it.  I love to make it as a starter for any meal.  

Bruschetta-Style Garlic and Cheese Toasts

I forgot to buy garlic bread to serve with my  Easy Shrimp and Bay Scallop Alfredo .   I decided to make my own using a baguette. 

This is so cheesy and good, you are going to love it.  The elephant garlic gives it a sweet garlic flavor which is not overpowering.


12 slices baguette, cut about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 medium sized clove elephant garlic, chopped
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
Pinch or two of coarse Sea salt
1/8 cup packaged Italian Cheese Blend, shredded (your choice)
2 tablespoons seasoned Panko bread crumbs
Fresh chopped chives, for topping

Preheat broiler.

Slice baguette.  

In a medium mixing bowl, mash the garlic, olive oil and salt together until a paste is created.  

Liberally brush the bread with the garlic mixture.  Top with cheese and the bread crumbs. 

Place bread in boiler-safe pan.  Broil for about four or five minutes until cheese turns bubbly and brown.

I like to serve the browned bits of the cheese with the bread (those that fall to the bottom of the baking pan that can be easily scooped up).

Top with chives.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easy Shrimp and Bay Scallop Alfredo

Hello!   I am back.

I took a few days off over a long weekend to rejuvenate my mind and body.  Tonight is technically the last night of my mini "vacation."  I am treating myself to a glass of wine and this simple dinner.

Easy Shrimp and Bay Scallop Alfredo

This Alfredo recipe takes a little help from the store -- or should I say, "from my friend" to coin a famous Beatles song.  My friend, Susanne, works for a food consultant.  Like my cooking, hers is from a "healthier focus."  She kindly gives me some of the Alfredo base that she uses in the test kitchen.  All I do is add a little butter, grated cheese and 2% milk. 

In this recipe, I call for "your favorite" Alfredo.  Most store-bought brands are loaded with calories.  I would encourage you to surf the net for a skinny version that you like.  I wouldn't be truthful here if I told you that I made the sauce myself.  One of these days I will come up with an Alfredo recipe that is "skinny" and as good as Susanne's.  

If you are one of my food blogger friends, you know we all support each other.  As I often say, "Food bloggers are the nicest people in the world!"  If you have a skinny Alfredo recipe, feel free to post your link here.  My only request is that the recipe be lower in calories, fat, or other bad things that make us - well, not so skinny.

Here you go.


1/2 pound Fettuccine pasta, cooked per package directions
1 1/2 cups of your favorite Alfredo sauce
Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
Pinch of white pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound bay scallops
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
Splash of dry white vermouth (optional)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley and chives), to taste
Grated Parmesan and Romano cheese for passing at the table

Prepare pasta per package directions and warm Alfredo sauce.  Add nutmg and white pepper to sauce and stir.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil until just before smoke point. 

Toss scallops in Cajun seasoning and add to hot pan.  Saute for two minutes.

Add butter.  Once butter melts, add cooked shrimp and cook for one more minute. 

Add vermouth, if using, and lemon juice.

Toss pasta with Alfredo sauce.  Plate equal portions on plates.  Top with seafood mixture and a little of the sauce from the saute pan.

Top with herbs and cheese.

Now, isn't that easy? 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Grilled Lamb with Yogurt Mint and Honey Sauce

Before I begin, a big shout out to Susie from Nutrition and Wellness News for posting my leg of lamb recipe.  Thank you, Susie.

I got the idea for this recipe from Suzanne Somers.  Suzanne wrote a similar recipe years ago in her diet cookbook "Get Skinny on Fabulous Food" (page 219.).  I revised the recipe a bit for our taste buds, and I make a smaller roast.  

Grilled lamb has become an Easter tradition in our home.  I grilled this up on Sunday night so I wanted to share it with you.  If you read last year's recipe, you'll see that I made a few variations this year.  That is the great thing about a good "base" recipe; it can evolve over time and as it does, it just keeps getting better and better.    I think I actually (finally) mastered the proper grilling time so that I get the results that I want; something for everyone.  We like leftovers so I keep the rarest portion of the lamb to reheat.

Here is a link to last year's post:

Easter Grilled Lamb
with Yogurt Mint and Honey Sauce

You will need:

1 boned leg of lamb, rolled -  3 to 3 1/2 pounds (netting removed)
1 cup olive oil, divided
Juice of one lemon, one tablespoon reserved and lemon reserved and sliced
4 or 5 fresh rosemary sprigs, whole, plus one tablespoon finely chopped
1 clove elephant garlic*, sliced thin
2 tablespoons grill seasoning for steak
Cooking spray for grill

For the Yogurt Mint and Honey Sauce:

1 cup Greek yogurt (plain)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Spanish paprika

Garnish:  Fresh chopped Mint (optional)

*Elephant garlic is larger and sweeter than regular garlic.  Find it in your produce section at your local supermarket.  If you cannot find it, you can substitute regular garlic cloves.

24 1/2 hours before grilling, butterfly your rolled leg of lamb by removing the net and cutting through the connective tissue so that the lamb lies flat in your marinating dish.  Some of the lamb might be thicker at some points but that is okay.  This will help to create slices that are more or less well done for your guests.

Place the meat in the marinating pan fat cap side down.

Combine the olive oil and lemon juice, reserving the one tablespoon for later.   Pour this over the meat.  Add the rosemary sprigs, the garlic slices and the reserved lemon slices. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 24 hours.

1/2 hour before you are ready to grill, remove the lamb from the marinade and pat dry.  Be sure to remove the rosemary springs, the garlic and the lemon slices and discard them.

Pat meat dry with a paper towel to remove excess oil.   Rub the grill seasoning into both sides of the meat.  Let meat rest to take off some of the refrigerator chill for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Spray grill with cooking spray.  Preheat grill to 350 degrees.

Whisk together remaining olive oil with lemon juice and chopped rosemary and set aside.

Add meat to hot grill, fat cap side up.  This is important so that the fat on the lamb doesn't cause an immediate flair up.  It will flair a little due to the oil in the marinade.

Cook on first side for 15 minutes.  Flip lamb. 

Important:  Turn center burners off.  Continue to cook lamb over indirect heat for 8 - 10 minutes more.  This will create medium well ends, medium rare for the sides of the roast, and a rare center.  Adjust cooking time on second side based on the temperature you like.

Plate lamb and pour the oil, lemon and rosemary mixture over the top.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with mint if using.   

Cook's note:  I like to also add a few lemon slices to the plate.  I squeeze those on before slicing the meat.  But like the mint, that is entirely optional.

Combine  all  ingredients for the sauce.  Serve with sliced lamb. 

Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in a sealed container for about 3 or 4 days.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"The Great Steak Challenge" - Cooking Channel 9 PM EDT - April 10th

Photo By Mary Steinbacher
Used with permission

My huband, Dan, is going to be on the Cooking Channel on April 10th at 9 PM EDT.

Me in 2010 at the Regionals

As many of you already know, I was a regional finalist in the 1st ever Beringer Great Steak Challenge in 2010 in Orlando.  While I didn't win, that gave me the confidence to move forward and look at the contests I've won and the recipes I've had published!  It only takes one to give you the "bug."

I underwent several outpatient procedures last year.  Life was a little rough for me for a few months there and I wasn't sure if I would be able to travel, so I decided not to enter.  I didn't feel healthy and I certainly didn't feel pretty enough to be on camera if I did place in the contest.   When you are sick, you often opt out of participating in the real world.

When I was in the regional contest the year prior, my husband, Dan, was there to cheer me on and then some, to the point of making me want to yell at him.  Yeah, Dan goes a little overboard sometimes in the cheering section.  LOL.

Long story short:  Several people encouraged Dan to "put his money where his mouth is."  For months he worked on dry rub recipes.  Finally, he hit on something really special and I encouraged him to enter it if that is what he wanted to do. So, he did.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Lookie what I got in return...
Yummy, yummy... ;.)

Dan is a baker (I don't bake, as you know).  He came up with this fabulous Hazelnut Coffee steak rub using baking spices.  For those of you who are skeptical about the big guy coming up with this on his own -  believe me, I get tired of answering that question.   YES, Dan came up with this recipe all on his own.   

How did Dan get to like cooking?   I think it was when won sixth place (second runner up) in a Sunkist cooking contest a few years ago.  I didn't even place in the same contest. 

I  guess it's all about stereotyping.  As a diversity trainer by day, I think the world stereotypes far too often.  We need to stop that!  Big guys who like football and beer CAN cook and do know about food and wine pairing sometimes.  Truth is, when we go wine tasting, the big guy has a better sense of the vino than I do!  Believe me, I am loving that he has the cooking bug now.  Less work for me!  ;.)   And I hope this story inspires you all to try new things in the kitchen and to reach for your own goals.

There were other previous contestants who had relatives and friends in the finals this year, too.   You might even know someone who was in the contest.  If that be the case, you know we are on a gag order.  I cannot reveal anything about the results until after the first airing tomorrow at 9 PM EDT.  After that, you can ask all the questions you want about the competition. 

Here is the link to the pre-show video.   Dan has a speaking part at the end.

I hope you will watch and I hope you will cheer for Dan and try his recipe!   Dan's recipe is number six over on the list of fabulous steak dishes.   Do not read anything into this as to the results!   Those were posted prior to the competition.

BTW -  the contest is wonderful.  I would highly encourage everyone to give it a try!  Dan and I haven't decided yet if we want to enter. 

If we do, maybe we will see you in Napa next year!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Salad Days Part II: Southwestern Salsa Salad

This recipe is great because you can serve it as a side salad with grilled food or fish, or you use it as a "salsa" like we did with chicken tacos.  That is why I am including this recipe in the Salad Days series.

Southwestern Salsa Salad

Serves 4-6

What you need to make this dish:

2 vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and coarsely diced
1/4 cup sliced green Spring onion, white and green parts (I used a large Vidalia)
1 teaspoon minced Jalapeno pepper, seeded
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1/4 cup olive oil (good quality)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Coarse sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon dried cumin
Chopped cilantro, to taste

Seed the tomatoes....
Toss everything into a salad bowl....

Combine ingredients in a salad bowl and toss well.  Chill or keep at room temperature until you are ready to serve. 

Salsa on a chicken taco.

Wow, I believe that is the simplest recipe I ever posted.

If you celebrate Passover or Easter, I hope you have a very happy time with family and friends.  We have friends and family coming to visit this weekend.  I am taking Monday morning off to clean up the house after the weekend.  I will be back on Monday with another great recipe. 

Peace, love and joy to all!  May food bring us together!

See you soon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Orange Roughy with Shrimp Sauce

Orange Roughy with Shrimp Sauce

I was watching the local news this weekend and as they often do, they visited an Orlando restaurant.  The chef made his version of fish with a seafood sauce.  I didn't have any bay scallops so I created my own version using just chopped shrimp.  I also added wine and a few more herbs than the chef called for in his creation.

I suggest using mint infused wine.  All I did was take 2/3 cup of white wine and add mint leaves. I let the mint flavor "infuse" into the wine in a sealed container for a few days.  If you don't have time to do that, just use dry white wine or non-alcoholic wine if you prefer. 

Serves 2


cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 Orange Roughy fillets, 6 ounces each
Cajun seasoning, to taste
12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2/3 cup mint infused wine (see comment above)
Chopped dill
Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray baking pan with cooking spray.  Melt one tablespoon of butter and coat the bottom of the pan.

Add fish to pan.  Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.

Bake for twenty minutes.

Add oil to pan on stove. Add shrimp and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Add butter and chives. Once butter is melted, add the wine.

Top the fish with the shrimp sauce and return to oven for three or four minutes until shrimp are cooked.  Do not over-cook as shrimp will become tough.

Top with fresh dill.  Serve with a lemon wedge.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Salad Days - Part I: Goat Cheese Croutons

Over the next few weeks, along with other culinary delights, I am going to post a series of salad recipes, toppers and dressings -- perfect for spring and summer light dining.  Today is the first of which I will call "Salad Days." 

In the spotlight;
Goat Cheese Croutons

We are on a very tight budget.  I am learning to pass up the convenience items in my grocery store .  Home cooking is better anyway as you know what you put in there!

Using stale baguette and a few fresh ingredients, I made wonderfully delicious goat cheese croutons.  I used them to top this insanely good chicken salad that I whipped up for dinner the other night.  

For the salad, I simply used a store-bought black peppercorn sauce (Kraft) to cook the cage free raised boneless chicken.  I created a salad using fresh greens, green beans, roasted potatoes, tomatoes, and hard boiled egg.  I even threw in a little leftover corn.  Store-bought Caesar dressing was used for the greens.  The dressing came with the pepper sauce.

No matter what veggies or dressing you toss together, these croutons will make it special.  Here is how you can make Goat Cheese Croutons at home:


About 2 1/2 cups stale baguette or sour dough bread, cubed
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
Seasoned salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut bread into cubes.

Add olive oil, goat cheese and garlic powder to a bowl.  Using a fork or a wire whisk, mash the goat cheese into the oil and combine with the garlic powder.  The cheese will blend into the oil.

Toss bread with the oil and cheese mixture until coated.

Arrange cubes on cookie sheet.  Spray liberally with cooking spray and sprinkle still a little seasoned salt.  Turn the cubes over and repeat process on second side.

Bake for five minutes or until crispy to your liking, turning once.