Archives for February 2011

Garden Fresh Tuna Salad (Another one from the Castle…possibly fit for a King)!






Hey y’all,
Well, once again I have been inspired by the cafe at my gym to recreate one of their recipes. And…once again I have out done myself…I am telling you, if they aren’t careful I could be putting them out of business pretty soon! Bahahaha! A couple of weeks ago I tried the cafes Garden Tuna Salad for lunch and fell in love. I really enjoy this tuna salad because it is so unique from your everyday restaurant tuna salad. I mentioned the delicious cashew “mayo” that the cafe uses to make their spinach artichoke dip, and now they have made it an all-purpose staple for their chicken, as well as their tuna salad. Let me tell you…the ingredients in this tuna salad really make it taste as though you are eating straight from the garden. The combination of crisp red bell pepper, red cabbage, red onion, crunchy celery and carrot, and sweet red apple is delightfully tasty. The kicker to the salad is the inventive dressing along with it’s spicy counterpart, the stone ground mustard. Top the salad off with vibrant green Italian flat-leaf parsley and you might as well start growing your own garden to make this salad again and again. Not to mention, eating this tuna salad will definitely make you feel as though you are doing your body a favor by feeding it a fresh and healthy meal. And we all know how good it feels to eat well. I would suggest serving this salad over a bed of baby spinach or mixed field of greens. I tried mine sandwiched between two slices of honey whole-wheat bread and my lunch was simply magnificent!!! I hope y’all enjoy my tuna salad and share the recipe with your family and friends!

Fresh from the Garden Tuna Salad

Ingredients:


For the tuna salad:
24 oz. of canned tuna in water, drained
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 large Gala apple, finely diced
1 c. shredded carrots
1/2 of a red onion, finely diced
1 c. celery, finely diced
1 c. red cabbage, shredded
1/2 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbs. stone ground mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Cashew “Mayo”:
1/4 c. raw cashew pieces
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. Agave Nectar


Directions:

1. Drain and place the tuna in a large mixing bowl.
2. Use a fork to shred the tuna into small pieces (to me, this makes more tuna salad…you don’t want a bunch of large chunks).
3. Prepare the vegetables and apple accordingly and place them in a separate large bowl.
4. Mix the vegetables and apple together using a spatula until well combined.
5. Add the tuna to the vegetable and apple mixture and combine thoroughly.
6. Add the parsley and stone ground mustard, mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add all of the cashew mayo ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend into a mayo-like consistency (the dressing should be smooth and have a partially thick consistency).
8. Pour the cashew mayo over the tuna salad and combine until fully incorporated.
9. Place the tuna salad in the fridge and allow the salad to marinate for at least one hour.

MANGIA!!!

Nuts for Zucchini Cake!!!
















Happy Sunday y’all,
Let me tell you my Sunday has been pretty eventful. I woke up, went to church @ 8 (without having coffee beforehand might I add…big mistake, I could barely stay awake through the homily…but no worries, I made up for it with a double shot americano immediately afterward!), ran errands, came home, ate lunch, made tons of dishes, went to Target and Ulta to run more errands, did laundry, folded clothes, uploaded photos, and now I am watching the Oscars Red Carpet…my treat to me!!! Whew…what a day…lucky for you, you get to reap the benefits. Let me first begin by saying that I am absolutely in love with zucchini. I believe the first time I tried zucchini was at one of my favorite little lunch dives in Houston inside the Galleria mall, which ironically is named “zucchini’s”. Anyway, I had it the best possible way that you could try zucchini for the first time…sliced into zucchini buttons, covered with a Parmesan/breadcrumb crust, and pan fried to a golden perfection. To just send me overboard, they serve the fried zucchini with a side of tangy ranch dressing for dipping…this dish calls to me in my sleep. While I love zucchini in savory dishes, lately my sweet tooth has been kicking in and since my little sis has allergies I have been experimenting with different types of gluten-free flours. One of the best gluten-free “flours” in my opinion is almond meal, which is basically just raw whole almonds processed into a flour. You can buy it at the store, or make your own using a blender or food processor. Anyways, I substituted almond meal in my zucchini cake recipe, and o.m.g., I have never tasted a cake so moist, light, airy, and dense all at the same time. This cake is truly melt in your mouth, and my Greek yogurt icing is absolutely the perfect topping, adding a hint of tanginess to a subtly sweet cake. By the way this cake is loaded with tons of vitamins and nutrients from the zucchini and almonds…so you can feel a little less guilty about a second helping of the good stuff. I would suggest this cake as an after dinner dessert with a cup of coffee and a few sliced fresh strawberries.

Zucchini Cake with Greek yogurt icing

Ingredients:

For the cake:
1 1/2 c. brown sugar (I ran out of brown sugar, so I did 3/4 c. brown sugar and 3/4 c. granulated sugar…just as good)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. almond meal
1 1/2 c. zucchini, coarsely grated

For the icing:
3/4 c. Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. Mexican vanilla
2 Tbs. granulated sugar

Directions:

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Butter the sides of a bundt cake pan (you can also use a round cake pan or a spring form cake tin would be just fine).
3. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar and the oil.
4. Add egg yolks, one at a time mixing to combine. Stir in almond meal and zucchini.
5. Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites with a pinch of salt on high until you have firm peaks.
6. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the zucchini mixture.
7. Carefully pour the cake batter into the prepared tin.
8. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until the top is golden and feels firm to the touch. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan.

For the icing:
1. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Once the cake has cooled completely, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake.

MANGIA!!!




Bugs Bunny would definitely be proud!





Alrighty ya’ll,
So…once again my trusty whole foods market has lived up to their name. I know in the past I have mentioned my obsession with wf just once or twice…okay, maybe it was a little more than that…okay i give, i give…it was ALOT more than that. Well…what do you want me to say? They deserve the credit. I mean, I go to wf so often the seafood department knows me by my first name…it’s actually quite sick. I guess it all began when I started placing special orders over the telephone for my sis’ gluten-free tequila lime burger…let me tell you, these cats will go above and beyond to cater to people with food allergies and boy do they knock it out of the part. Anyways, the other day I went in to wf to go to the seafood counter and pick up some smoked alaskan salmon and in the process I ordered some of those burgers for next-day pickup. Well, apparently my trusty seafood guy got a bit distracted and gave me the order that was sitting next to my smoked alaskan salmon ( i thought the package felt a bit heavy). But…no need to fret, he realized it and tracked me down on aisle 8 just to exchange the orders and of course, apologize for the mix-up. Now that is what I call hospitality!!! Okay, so enough about the seafood…let’s talk about the homemade soups at wf’s. Every day the wf’s crew creates a variety of seasonal soups for their daily soup bar. Recently I have become attached to their chicken posole, tortilla, garden vegetable and most of all, carrot ginger soup. Now, I know what you are thinking? Carrots are strictly for crudite platters and for dipping in Hidden Valley Ranch. But let me assure you…they knock this soup out of the park. The carrots give the soup that sweet and nutty taste after being simmered in a flavorful broth along with the half lemony, half spicy and peppery taste of the ginger. Top it off with a bit of fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt and you have yourself a nice bowl of thick, hearty, and robust soup. Of course I had to replicate the recipe after purchasing the soup around five to six times per week…it can get a little expensive. Rest assured I replicated the soup pretty darn well if I may say so myself and couldn’t resist adding my own touch…canned pumpkin to the mix, just to give the soup that rich fall flavor that sadly will soon be coming to an end. I hope ya’ll enjoy this soup because it has definitely kept me warm and cozy against those freezing fall temperatures. Not to mention carrots make your hair shiny and eyes brighter…well, at least that is what my grandmother has been telling me all these years. Hey, anything to get me to eat my veggies, right?

Carrot Ginger Pumpkin Soup

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 small ginger root, peeled and finely grated (finely chopping works too)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. low-sodium vegetable broth + 3 c. water
1 lb. carrots, cut into 1/2 in. chunks
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
pinch of curry powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; saute for 5-10 minutes.
3. Add the broth, water, carrots, and pumpkin to the pot and heat until boiling.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes.
5. Puree the soup in batches using a blender or a food processor.
6. Season with curry powder, salt and pepper, to taste.

The soup can be served immediately. I garnish mine with a dollop of greek yogurt and a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese….so yummy!!!

MANGIA!!!

Spinach Artichoke Dip Fit for a King!










Howdy ya’ll,
Well I know it has been a while since I have posted but I have been super duper busy with my life: work, family, pilates certification, and driving back and forth to Houston every other weekend has left me no time to post recipes and be the outstanding food blogger that you all expect me to be. Anyways…I am back in action. So, this past year my sis and I joined a smaller, private gym here in Austin called Castle Hill Fitness. Not only does this gym have all the equipment, trainers, classes, etc., you can also get a full one-hour body massage or a rejuvenating facial in the gym’s spa!!! I am telling you these licensed massage therapists definitely know what they are doing. One of my favorite things about the gym is the cafe, Food for Fitness…isn’t that cute? The cafe offers wholesome smoothies, coffee and tea drinks, snacks, and homemade healthy entrees like an enchilada frittata for breakfast, or a middle eastern turkey burger with roasted sweet potatoes for dinner. Breakfast and dinner are great, but I usually only have time to grab lunch or a snack. Most recently I discovered one of their newest snacks, the Spinach Artichoke Dip. Now, this is not your average spinach dip made with mayo, and a couple of different types of cheeses. Honestly, I was so blown away by the combination of tasty ingredients that I would never make the traditional kind of spinach artichoke dip that we are all used to ever again…well, maybe just in some cases. Anyhoo, the cafe has made an imitation type of dressing that they refer to as a “cashew mayo.” This cashew mayo is the binder for the spinach artichoke dip and is truly a clever invention. I have actually become addicted to the dip and one day when they didn’t have it in stock I just asked the counter people (who of course have become my new found foodie friends) how to whip this stuff up. And boy, whip it up I did! Actually, I tore it up…I really out did myself…I mean I went above and beyond. Okay, so I guess I should stop tooting my own horn but hey, this stuff is the bomb. I would suggest that you serve it at your next house party, it would be a fantastic addition to the appetizer table…especially paired with Ritz, Triscuits, or some good ole veggie crudite (i eat my dip with cucumbers and carrots). I hope that ya’ll enjoy this dip as much as I did and once again, I apologize for the delay…I will try to live up to my good foodie name from now on!

Ingredients:
1 zucchini squash, finely diced
2 small cans of artichokes packed in water, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 c. capers, roughly chopped
1 bunch of fresh spinach
1/4 c. raw cashew pieces
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. Agave Nectar
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Dice the zucchini, chop the artichokes and caper and place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and wilt the spinach, season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the spinach to the mixing bowl.
4. In a blender, blend cashew pieces through agave nectar, until it becomes smooth like a mayonnaise-like consistency.
5. Add the cashew-mayo to the mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and combine all of the ingredients together until evenly distributed.
6. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving…this dish only gets better the longer it is refrigerated.

MANGIA!!!