Sunday, July 27, 2008

Three Bean Salad

Sweet, Tangy and a Little Squeaky!

I love fresh green beans and I'm always on the lookout for a new way to prepare them. Although this recipe is not a new concept, it's new for me. I have never made three bean salad, nor have I ever even eaten a homemade version. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've only had the one that comes in a jar. I don't buy it too often because it's not very nutritious and has way too many chemicals.
Have you ever noticed that the beans in this type of salad become squeaky when you bite into them? I wonder what makes this happen. It doesn't bother me, as a matter of fact it kind of adds to the playfulness of this recipe. Since it is sweet and a little tangy, so why not squeaky!

Three Bean Salad

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 medium cloves garlic, grated on microplane or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper
8 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
8 ounces yellow wax beans, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans , rinsed and drained
1 medium/large shallot, chopped medium dice
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Heat vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large nonreactive bowl and cool to room temperature.
2. Steam green and yellow beans in water with 1 tablespoon salt added to it; cook until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with ice water. When beans are done, immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking process; let sit until chilled, about 2 minutes. Drain well.
3. Add green and yellow beans, kidney beans, shallot, and parsley to vinegar mixture; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let flavors meld. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. (Salad can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 days.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Hate Zucchini?
No problem. Have a piece, I promise
you won't taste it.

This is my favorite kind of recipe. The kind that allows you to "hide" something healthy like vegetables, in this case zucchini, in something seemingly unhealthy like a double chocolate loaf. If just the thought of zucchini with chocolate makes you shiver, fear not, you will absolutely not taste the zucchini. In fact, just forget it's even in there and enjoy a nice piece of double chocolate loaf.

You might remember the Chocolate Zucchini Muffins that I posted a while ago, well this is basically the same recipe with just a few minor changes. Sometimes it's just easier to make a loaf than muffins. By the way, you could even add some walnuts for an added crunch and a boost of omega 3!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

by Mixed Salad Annie

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/3 cup tub margarine or butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsps. vanilla
3/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt
2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees for glass pans. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray and dust by sifting a tablespoon of cocoa over the pans. Shake pans to evenly cover.

Melt the margarine or butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and heat until fragrant, stirring constantly about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Cream together cocoa butter mixture and sugars in mixing bowl until light and fluffy,
using electric mixer at medium speed. Beat in oil; add yogurt, then blend in eggs and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients and blend until just combined. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grilled Chicken Fingers with Dipping Sauce

Finger Dipping Good!

Finally! I finally got my blog header up. Hope you like it. It was really hard to decide what to put up for a photo, because it will ultimately define you...
That is why it was empty for so long. I couldn't decide how to define my blog. Is it healthy food, lightened up desserts, lower-fat entrees, quick and easy dinners? Or a little of all of those things?

So I thought maybe I should put up a bunch of different photos of all different things. But then I thought it would probably just confuse people and look like a hodge podge. So I decided on the fresh veggies. They're colorful, healthy, low-fat, quick to prepare and truly represent healthy eating! I'm still tweaking it, so be patient, better things are yet to come.

Speaking of better things, let me tell you about these chicken fingers and "chimchurri inspired" marinade and dipping sauce. Very easy to prepare, very health conscious, and super delicious. The marinade is very similar to a chimichurri marinade. I included a few different herbs and I used my signature leek instead of an onion. And for the sauce, I added low-fat sour cream. Very luscious!

Grilled Chicken Fingers with Dipping Sauce
by Mixed Salad Annie

1 pound chicken tenders, cut in half

Leaves from 2-3 sprigs fresh oregano
Leaves from 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 fresh sage leave, torn into several pieces
1 cup Italian parsley
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 of medium leek, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or grated on microplane
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice from half a fresh lemon
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

In a food processor or using a hand held immersion blender combine parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, paprika, leek, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar. Pulse until everything is thoroughly combined.

Continue pulsing and slowly add in all of the olive oil.

Place chicken tenders in a shallow dish and add half of the marinade. Mix to completely cover chicken pieces. May be refrigerated overnight if desired.

Add the sour cream to the reserved marinade and mix well. Transfer to a small dipping bowl. Set aside.

Place the chicken pieces on the pre-heated grill and cook 3-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve with reserved dipping sauce.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Mock" Berry Tiramisu

No Bake, No Fuss, and there will be...
No Leftovers!

Tiramisu is a delicious Italian dessert made with zabaglione which is a light custard consisting of egg yolks, mascarpone cheese and a bit of sweet liquor, usually sweet marsala wine. Italian cookies called lady fingers are dipped in espresso and layered with the zabaglione and it is usually topped off with cocoa powder. In Italian tiramisu means "pick me up". Great name!

Let me start by saying that there is no replacement for the original tiramisu. But this is a super easy, low-fat and delicious summer dessert that mimics the Italian classic. It's quick to prepare and serves as a lower calorie alternative to a traditional tiramisu. And I think it will definately pick you up!

I am sending this over to Susan at Food Blogga who is hosting Sugar High Fridays this month for Jennifer of the Domestic Goddess, the creator of the SHF. Check it out for the most outrageously delicious berry concoctions.
"Mock" Berry Tiramisu
by Mixed Salad Annie

One 8 ounce package of Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), room temperature
1 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons Amaretto liquor, or your favorite sweet liquor
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup cold Teeccino Herbal Coffee, or cold strong black coffee
24 Lady Finger Cookies
Powdered sugar

Mix the cream cheese to soften just until smooth and then fold in the yogurt and Amaretto.

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing the wrap to extend over the sides. In a wide, flat bowl, whisk the teeccino/coffee with the sugar.

Dip 8 cookies into the teeccino/coffee one at a time, and arrange 4 in a single layer and another 4 in a single layer, on the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon one third of the cream cheese mixture over the cookies to cover. Top with strawberries, reserving a few for the garnish. Repeat the dipping and layering of the next 8 cookies and cream cheese mixture, topping this layer with the blueberries.
Dip the remaining 8 cookies in the teeccino/coffee and arrange on the top. Evenly spoon on remaining cream cheese mixture. (The top layer will extend a little above the pan sides). Cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to one day.
Unwrap the plastic and invert the tiramisu onto a platter and remove the plastic. Top with remaining strawberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sugar Snap Peas with Broccoli, Leeks and Grape Tomatoes

Fresh and Flavorful!

I was looking for green beans in the market yesterday and they looked terrible. They had brown spots all over them and very limp. Change of plans...

I did find these great sugar snap peas and some fresh broccoli, so I thought I would try something a little different. Different for me that is.

I had a leek in the fridge and some grape tomatoes, so I decided to use everything. Why not?

It turned out great. The veggies were tender with just a slight crispiness and the leeks, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs really woke everything up!

Sugar Snap Peas with Broccoli, Leeks and Grape Tomatoes
By Mixed Salad Annie

8 oz package sugar snap peas, ends and strings removed if needed
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 leek, cut lengthwise, washed, dried and sliced in half circles

1 cup grape tomatoes
Sea Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh basil, thinly sliced

Steam the sugar snap peas and broccoli in a steamer basket over boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and salt; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the sugar snap peas, broccoli, tomatoes, and more salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until heated through. Squeeze the lemon over the veggies and add in the chives and basil. Serves 3-4.

Monday, July 07, 2008

What's Grilling?

Eat Your "Grilled" Fruits and Vegetables...

For those of you who do not like fruits or vegetables... You don't know what your missing. I love fresh fruit and veggies and eat both everyday. If you've never tried grilling these natural wonders, there is no better time to get going.

Pick fruits and vegetables that are in season for the freshest tasting experience. Grilling brings out the natural sugars in the fruit as well as in the veggies and gives a great caramelized flavor. Dress them simply so that their natural sweet flavors shine through.

The next two recipes were inspired by Giada DiLaurentiis and they are both delicioius!

Grilled Pineapple with Chocolate-Hazelnut Drizzle and Pistashios
by Mixed Salad Annie adapted from Giada DeLauentiis

1 pineapple, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and core removed or 1 large can of sliced pineapple, drained
1/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
Handful of salted Pistashio nuts

Heat an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill on medium high heat. Grill the pineapple slices 3 minutes per side or until you see golden grill marks on the bottoms.

Heat the chocolate-hazelnut spread in a small bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds until melted; stir to see if it is ready to drizzle. Heat 30 seconds longer if needed.

Place the grilled pineapple slices on a large serving plate and drizzle the chocolate spread over the top. Sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Grilled Zucchini and Vidalia Onions with Balsamic Herb Dressing
by Mixed Salad Annie adapted from Giada DeLauentiis

4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch-thick
4 slices vadalia onion, sliced 1/2-inch-thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Heat an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill on medium high heat. In a large baking dish add olive oil and salt and pepper. Add the zucchini and toss to coat. Place 1/2 of the zucchini on the grill. Add the onions to the dish and carefully toss to coat with oil. Add them to the grill. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the vegetables are tender and show golden grill marks on the bottoms. Grill the remaining zucchini. Arrange the zucchini on a platter and top with onion slices.

In the same baking dish whisk the 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, parsley, basil, and thyme until blended. Drizzle the over the top of the vegetables. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Lobster Salad for One

To Eat or Not To Eat...

We went out for lobster on the 4th and it was delicious. Since it was served with chowder and french fries, I decided to save the tail and take it home. Not that I couldn't have finished the whole lobster, but I kept thinking about what a great lobster salad I could make if I saved some.
Crazy? Not really, it made a delicious lunch the next day!

Lobster Salad for One
by Mixed Salad Annie

1 fresh cooked lobster tail, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons celery, minced
2 tablespoons vadalia onion, minced
2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon mixed dill and lemon spice, or fresh dill
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 slices Italian bread, sprayed with olive oil and lightly grilled or toasted

Combine all salad ingredients. Fill bread slices with salad and eat!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th!!

Flagalicious Berry Trifle
Inspired by America's Test Kitchen

Not bad for a last minute decision to make this. I didn't have the required ingredients either, so I compromised and this is how it came out. Lets just say it tasted better than it looked!!

Here's the real deal...Here's the original recipe!