Tag Archives: make it fresh

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.

Quinoa Tabbouleh With a Poblano and Lime Twist

I love Sunday Market days in Miramar. My menus are inspired by the freshest ingredients. I planted herbs on my deck and the landscaper assures me that the plants and soil are organic. Call me a skeptic but I’m guessing my herb garden would not get the organic seal of approval in the states. I have learned to accept that I eat more pesticides in Mexico than I do in the U.S. but at least I’m in charge of what goes on my herbs after they are planted. This recipe showcases my fresh parsley and mint. The tomatoes are readily available and vine ripened so I can enjoy them year round.

Quinoa is available in our larger supermarkets and in specialty shops that cater to expats. The price is equivalent to U.S. prices which means it is ridiculously expensive by Mexican standards. Quinoa has more protein and nutritional value than bulgar and it’s easier to find, thus the quinoa in this tabbouleh. Lemons are difficult to impossible to find here so I often substitute key lime juice for lemon juice.
I added poblano peppers for a mild spicy kick and a Mexican flare. This salad is a superfood power house.

Enjoy with homemade hummus and tortillas in a vegan wrap or as a side dish for grilled chicken or fish.

Savor every bite.

I’m late for the party but I’m taking my salad to Fiesta Friday where you can find more delicious recipes.
This week’s co-hosts are Zeba and Jhuls.

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Quinoa Tabboleah With a Poblano and Lime Twist

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large cucumber cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped poblano pepper

PREPARATION

Bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, whisk lime juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Let quinoa cool and transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing.
Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss gently with the remaining dressing.
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Crispy Panko Jalapeño Peppers

jalapeño poppers

We rarely eat American bar food when we are in the States but who doesn’t love a deep fried jalapeño popper? Sometimes a greasy appetizer and a cold beer just hit the spot.

This is a BBQ version of poppers made crispy with a Panko topping instead of deep frying. These are not picante if you remove the seeds and ribs. Leave some ribs if you like it hot! The recipe showcases the ubiquitous jalapeño peppers and cheeses of Mexico. There are limited varieties of cheeses available in rural Mexico so I have learned to work with the substitutions and the results can be delicious. I do worry a little about buying raw goat milk cheeses from the open air market where I buy all of my produce. There is always a chance of bacterial contamination when consuming unpasteurized dairy products. As a precaution, if you are pregnant, I would advice against eating local raw milk cheeses. The freshest cheeses can be purchased directly from the local goat ranchers and you can see the adorable baby goats while you’re visiting.
I’m taking my appetizer to Fiesta Friday.

 

Crispy Panko Jalapeño Poppers
Servings: 24 poppers

Ingredients:
• 12 jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise. Seeds and ribs removed
• 8 oz quéso crema (cream cheese), let soften on the counter for 15 minutes.
• 1/2 cup shredded Chihuahua or Queso de Oaxaca (I found cheddar cheese at a specialty deli but it isn’t widely available)
• 2 tablespoons of crispy tocino (bacon)
1 1/4 cup Panko
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Variations: Mix in 1/4 cup green onions chopped or chopped cilantro or minced sweet red pepper. Substitute chorizo for the bacon or leave out the meat for a vegetarian appetizer. If Panko is not available substitute dried bread crumbs.

Directions
1. Wash and slice peppers. Use gloves to keep your hands from burning. Leave 1/2 of the stem attached to each piece. Remove seeds and ribs.
2. Mix remaining ingredients with a fork until combined.
3. Fill each half pepper with a heaping spoonful of cheese mixture. Mix panko and olive oil and top each pepper with a scant tablespoon of the mixture.
4. Grill in the barbecue on medium heat until peppers are soft, slightly blackened and the Panko is crisp. If your barbecue has a broiler element then you can quickly broil the peppers for a more crispy topping. Watch closely and don’t burn them.

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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.

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.