Tag Archives: dinner ideas

Meal Plan April 10-16

Writing a meal plan for the week will help you eat healthier foods, save money by eating at home and use the fresh foods that you bought before everything goes to waste (you know you do this, right?) Besides who doesn’t love to be organized even on the laid back Baja?

Some days I can’t even find two flip flops that match, much less think up a fast nutritious meal. Believe me, at 4 pm, I need a plan.

La Gringa Cooks

Snacks and sides:
Roasted beets
Beet greens and Swiss chard
Deviled Easter eggs
Mesclun salad and goat cheese
Almonds
Apple and peanut butter

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa and Pico de Gallo recipes @Salsa Sunday

Recipes coming soon to Whatsfordinnerdoc.com
Loaded cauliflower bake
Taco zucchini boats
Roasted tomatoes, basil pasta
Vegan mushroom tostadas
Seared Yellow tail with mango and ginger

Make a plan to eat real food for your health and happiness.
If you must eat out here are some tips for staying healthy and maintaining your nutrition goals when aren’t at home. Healthy Eating.

Baja Stuffed Peppers

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What inspires your cooking?
Smells, colors, freshness, memories, blog posts, magazine photos?
I’m inspired by all of these things and my weekly menu is designed around the freshest ingredients that I can find. This is a weeks worth of produce which costs me between $8-12 US depending on how much fruit I buy. Fruit is relatively expensive here because most of it has to travel farther than local vegetables. Mexico does grow a large amount of citrus, melons and tropical fruits which are available year round but I often splurge on American apples and pears which are expensive by Mexican standards. Apples can cost $1.50 each. Gasp. A huge cabbage costs about $.50 in comparison.

I buy produce at our outdoor market every Sunday and meat in town from a local grocery store or from the butcher. I confess that buying the meats on display on tables at the open air market makes my “food safety” radar go on high alert. I do realize that our local restaurants buy meat there, I’ve seen my favorite chef actually choosing meats, but I haven’t been able to get past the flys and feral dogs hovering about. I’m failing at complete Mexican cooking immersion but I’m sure there will be a blog post on the day that I give in.

This stuffed pepper recipe was inspired by these beautiful striped bell peppers. I choose the vegetables, add my aromatics, pick a cuisine or a combination of cuisines, add a protein source and start to design the dish.

Baja Stuffed Peppers

Mix and Match Ingredients for 4 servings:

4 bell peppers, any color
1 pound ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork. Vegans substitute legumes, tofu, nuts.
1/2 cup cooked “grains” quinoa, rice, bulgar. I used quinoa
1/2 cup diced onion
2 gloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cup chopped vegetables, I used carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini.
1/2 finely chopped chili pepper, serrano, poblano, jalepeno for heat
1/2 cup tomatoe sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs. I used flat leaf parsley, lovage and oregano. Cilantro or basil would be great too.
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add lean protein and brown. Add remaining herbs, vegetables and seasonings. Simmer until vegetables are soft but still hold their shape.
Slice off the top of each pepper and remove seeds. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and replace the tops. I use any remaking meat mixture to pack around the peppers in a casserole dish to hold them upright.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees until peppers are soft.
Serve with salsa, sour cream, more veggies (sautéed beet greens) and fruit.

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La Gringa Cooks: Flips & Flops, Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Peppers

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FLIPS & FLOPS

I’m sure you noticed the new header on What’s for dinner, Doc? Who can resist a pelican? My new series La Grinda Cooks became La Gringa Cooks: Flips & Flops from Baja, Mexico. The title speaks for itself but the idea for the flips & flops came while standing in my kitchen dressed in my kitchen uniform, shorts and you guessed it, flip-flops. Dreaming and waiting for my fresh pepper cheese to form lovely curds and whey, I caught a glimpse of the Sea of Cortez. Ok, to be fair it’s a sliver of blue ocean, if I stand on tip toes and tilt my head at a 45 degree angle south 😎. Anyway I waited and waited and waited. No beautiful curds, no clear whey, just a mess of salted acidic milk.

A Major FLOP. I have had other flops while trying to adapt my culinary skills to the climate, ingredients and flair of Mexican cuisine. So travel with me, summer attire optional, as I explore the best of the flips (hits) and flops (mishaps) in my Baja kitchen.

Now that I’ve peaked your interest and whet your appetite for acidic, salted milky cheese here’s the flop.

When milk does not becomes cheese:

Making quéso fresco is easy and I’ve succeeded many times in the U.S. You can find the recipe here. I purchased readily available pasteurized whole cow’s milk (leche de vaca entera) and white vinegar (vinagre blanco). I finely chopped jalapeño and red bell pepper in anticipation of making Quéso Fresco con Pimientos. The local goat ranchers make a fresh fabulous quéso and I was sure that I could recreate one with cow milk. I followed the directions exactly. The milk partially separated but the curds were minuscule and there was never a clear whey layer. The problem it seems was the milk. Mexican milk has less protein than U.S. milk and that can affect curd yield. The lower protein content makes it difficult to froth the milk for a cappuccino also. The most likely reason for cheese to fail is old milk which is too acidic or the milk has been ultra-pasteurized. The milk didn’t say ultra-pasteurized but who knows, it could have been. When in doubt, blame the milk. Next time I will use fresh goat milk from a local rancher. Stay tuned. I salvaged the thickened milky cheese layer from the sack cloth, added diced jalapeño pepper and red bell pepper and a sauce was born. I turned that flop into a flip with a slight of hand.

 
Finally the Recipe

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Poblano and Red Bell Pepper

Ingredients:
2 medium to large sweet potatoes (yams)
1 red onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 poblano pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Scrub vegetables and sweet potatoes, I leave the peel for more fiber and nutrition. Dice into 1 inch pieces, mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Microwave for 5 minutes to soft the potatoes. Grill in a grill basket over medium heat, 350-375F, until soft and slightly charred. Serve plain or drizzle with plain yogurt, la crema, or failed quéso fresco. Eat as a side dish with grilled meat or as a vegetarian entrée by adding legumes, nuts or more dairy to increase the protein content.

Savor every bite and enjoy the journey.
I’m taking this easy side dish to Fiesta Friday where you can find delicious recipes from around the globe.

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Salmon in Yellow Thai Curry

Salmon and yellow Thai curry

I try to eat fresh local foods so living on a lake in rural Northern California can somewhat limit my food choices. We almost never eat out and when we do there are certainly no ethnic restaurants, unless you count Mexican cuisine as ethnic. Mexican food is a mainstay of the western U.S. food culture and you can find a Mexican food restaurant in almost every little town. And thank goodness for that!
Anyway….. I was craving Thai food and we certainly don’t have a Thai restaurant within 100 miles so I went searching for a meal to make at home.

I usually have salmon in the freezer so that was my starting ingredient. I found an easy to follow recipe by Lindsay at Pinch of Yum for a yellow Thai curry paste @PinchofYum The ingredients were readily available except for the lemon grass paste so I used a squeeze of lime juice.
I picked Thai and Sweet Basil from my deck garden, opened a can of coconut milk, grated some ginger and this recipe was born. I served the salmon over rice noodles and fresh asparagus for a dinner party worthy meal.

Salmon and yellow Thai curry

Recipe

Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a deep sauce pan. Add skin on salmon filets and cook for 3 minutes per side. Combine 1-3 tablespoons of yellow curry paste with 14 ounces of coconut milk and add to salmon. Simmer 10 minutes. Add a generous 1/2 cup of fresh chopped sweet basil and Thai basil (if you have some hanging around). Serve over jasmine rice, zunoodles, rice noodles or any steamed vegetable.

I’m taking my Thai craving over to Fiesta Friday. You’ll find many delicious and inspirational posts at the party. Come join us.

Turkey, Apple, Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m bored with my mostly Paleo diet. Protein plus veggies and fruit. Rewind and repeat. I’m guessing that even a cave woman would have branched out to add some pizazz to her diet given the chance.
Paleo works for me and I’m thinner and fitter than I have ever been as an adult but I haven’t been exploring or creating foods that make me healthy AND happy.

Back to School in Spain

Back to School in Spain

Be extension, I have completely neglected this blog, my first and favorite blog.

I’m trying out new flavor packed “real food” recipes and you can come along for the ride.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the planning, recipe writing and photographing and give up before I even start to write. Today I remembered that all of my blog buddies just use recipes as a starting point or as inspiration for their own creations and they don’t expect perfection.

Besides, my messy posts make theirs look so much fancier. 😋 So here’s a not so perfect blog post with a delicious and healthy recipe for you to enjoy as is, modify at will or save for a day when you are feeling bored with food.
For more awesome recipes to try this weekend jump over to Fiesta Friday and see what’s cooking.

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Turkey, Apple, Carmelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe yields 6 large or 12 small mushroom servings.

Ingredients:
6 baby portobello or 12 cremimi mushrooms, stems removed and chopped.
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1/2 Granny Smith or Fuji apple, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1-3 leaves of fresh sage chopped, I used pineapple sage, or 1 tsp dried sage.
Optional: 1-2 ounces goat cheese crumbled if you eat dairy. I added the cheese and was happy with its binding capacity and flavor punch but you can skip it and enjoy a more crumbly texture or substitute an egg for moisture and binding.

Caramelize Onion
Thinly slice the onion into rings. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a dash of salt. Cook onion, stirring occasionally until golden brown. About 30 minutes. Set aside in a serving dish.

Prepare the turkey mixture
Add remaining oil to pan and add chopped apple, chopped mushroom stems, sage, minced garlic and ground turkey. Sauté until apples are softened and turkey is lightly browned. Stir goat cheese into meat mixture and combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Fill mushroom caps with meat and cheese mixture.

Bake on a lined cookie sheet at 400 degrees F until browned and mushrooms are soft. 25-30 minutes.

Serve over greens and top with caramelized onions or serve as an appetizer if you prefer.
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What’s For Dinner? Ratatouille With Chicken

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Ratatouille With Chicken

Slice eggplant, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes into thin slices. I used cherry tomatoes and left them whole. Cut chicken breast into 1 inch pieces and lightly salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil in a baking dish. Layer vegetables, basil leaves and chicken in the baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes in a 375 F oven. I topped mine with slices of fresh mozzarella and returned the ratatouille to the oven and broiled until the cheese melted. Serve with a crisp green salad and fruit for a complete rainbow colored meal.

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What’s For Dinner? : Let’s Be Honest

Friends and family often ask, “What do you really eat?” I guess they think that I’m fabricating when I say, “I eat real food, mostly plants, some chicken and lots of fish.” I don’t eat bread, pasta, processed foods or much sugar. (Yes, you can live without simple carbohydrates.) Those of you who know me, know that I’m not perfect. 🙂 I do love a glass or two of wine.

I save my carbohydrate calories for an amazing piece of dessert to share or a square of dark chocolate. If I eat bread it better be spectacular sour dough right out of the oven or to me it isn’t worth eating.

Every day is a reason to celebrate with fresh healthy food, not an excuse to feast on the average American diet of processed foods and sugar.

If you want to feel better then start with eating right.

It works, I promise.

Let’s play a game of What’s for Dinner?

This is actually how I create meals for my family. I buy the freshest, seasonal ingredients so my refrigerator is stocked with vegetables, fruits, lean meats and fish. The secret of course is to actual eat the produce that you buy. 😉

Here’s what’s in the house

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Tomatoes
Italian squash
Eggplant
Red and orange peppers
Basil
Chicken breast or tofu
Olive oil
Any herbs or spices you like

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This is how I play the dinner game.

Pick a cuisine

Italian, Mexican, Indian, American, Fusion

Now add your spices
Italian – basil, oregano, garlic
Indian – ginger, turmeric, curry blends
Mexican – jalapeños, chili powder, cumin
Fusion- Any herb or spice will do. It’s your palette, mix any flavors that appeal to you.

Bake it, sauté it, braise it, or grill it

What will you make for dinner?
Stay tuned and I’ll show you what I made for dinner in my next post.