Monday, January 30, 2012

A Tuna Among Steaks

I have mentioned in the past that as a child I detested seafood and fish of all kinds. This was an almost truth. As a child I absolutely loved tuna fish salad! You know, the stuff in the can with mayo and sweet pickle relish. I have vivid memories of sitting in the living room watching Sesame Street and my mom calling me in for tuna on toast! An open face sangwich of tuna salad! And to this day, despite my slight embarrassment to admit this, I still love tuna on toast, open face! However, in my older age, tuna in the real fish form has become one of my faves. However, it’s not something I cook often. I love tuna sushi and I like it out, but short of going down to the seaport, it’s really tough to find good quality tuna that I want to eat. Forget about getting it at the regular grocery store. And honestly, I’d rather eat good tilapia than a watery tuna steak from Stop and Shop. Fortunately, now that I work in Acton, a trip to Idylewild Farms is super easy. I’ve mentioned this store before, but if you haven’t gone, let me just reiterate how fabulous it is! So in a recent visit, I found some fabulous looking tuna steaks. And I trusted it because if it was ick, I’d let my friend Matt know!

When I find good tuna steak, I like to grill it because it doesn’t fall apart on the grill like a lot of other kinds of fish. So I made a little mish mash marinade and threw them on the grill for a pretty easy tuna supper.

Here’s the breakdown:

2 tuna steaks
1 orange, zested and juiced
6 stalks rosemary, chopped finely
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 Tbsp steak seasoning (Montreal)
3 Tbsp olive oil

Basically all you have to do is put all the kids in a large Ziploc bag and let it sit for a few hours. Get your grill screaming hot and grill the steaks for 4 minutes per side. ***This will get you a good medium to medium rarish on a 1” steak. Well that’s pretty much it folks. I served it with brussel sprouts prepared the same as in my past blog.

It’s quite yummy and pretty easy. I know a lot of people that don’t cook fish because they don’t know how. So if that’s you, try this one, it is as easy as it sounds.


***I must note that I love raw tuna. But in sashimi cuts. Having a whole tuna steak rare weirds me out. I think it’s a texture thing. But if you like it rare, by all means…

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Beetchyoull Like This Salad

When I was a kid, my family frequented Frisch’s. Especially when my grandparents were around. To this day I miss the place. Anyway, if you’ve never been, let me kind of describe it. It’s a “family” diner-like restaurant with a salad bar and in the mornings a breakfast bar. My mom always required my brother and I to get the salad bar regardless of what else we wanted. We could have our cheeseburger, but not without the salad bar. This for me was ok; my parents may have gotten a pout every once in a blue moon from me. But my brother absolutely loved the idea! The reason is, according to my mom, he was a little bit of a strange eater as a kid. I’ve heard her say she used to have to pack him salads for lunch when he was in elementary school because he hated sandwiches! This is pretty funny for me partly because my brother was a seriously cute kid (I can just picture him at the lunch table in Kindergarten pulling out his salad) and partly because he is still kind of like that. About 5 Christmas dinners ago, we were having salad. I asked him if he wanted me to pass him some salad dressing. He looks dead at me, serious as a heart attack and says, “Why would I want salad dressing when the tomatoes are so juicy?” #bellylaugh You Win! So back to the salad bar. The other very strange thing about my brother’s childhood salad adoration was his LOOOOVE for beets. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t touch them! I mean; if we’re truly honest with ourselves, they taste like dirt! I think as a grown up that’s the part I like most about them, but its definitely NAAAHT a kid flavor! Nevertheless, a very young Ryan mowed them like they were skittles for a normal child his age!

At this matured age, I now eat them at every opportunity. It’s pretty standard for me to have a beet salad if I’m out for a decent dinner. But I also like making them at home. Beets are one of the veggies I really like to get organic. I guess it’s the porous nature of a beet growing in the ground that causes me to prefer them organic. But even more than that I really like to get them locally at my farmers’ market when I can. They seriously taste better. So a few weeks ago in my organics box I received a whole slew of delicious beets. I was hosting company and needed a salad for them, so I decided to come up with a beet salad. Assuming everyone likes beets is risky, but my friends do, so I lucked out.

First, you must roast your beets. This is quite easy so don’t let it intimidate you. All you have to do is pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Remove the stems from your beets, rub them with olive oil (skin on) and wrap them in aluminum foil. Bake them on a baking sheet for about an hour depending on their size. Check them with a fork and cook until the fork pierces through easily. When they come out of the oven, rub them individually with paper towel gently and the skin will rub right off. Dice them to the size you want them and splash them with rice wine vinegar. Then refrigerate until the next day or at least 3-4 hours before you need them.

Beet & Pear Salad

Roasted beets
Raw red pears, cored and diced
Fresh thyme
1 navel orange
feta cheese crumbles

Put beets, diced pears, thyme and feta in a bowl. Zest the orange into the salad then squeeze the juice of the orange over it. Toss and serve!

This salad was absolutely beautiful and quite yummy as well. But the bonus points are as follows: 1) it’s super easy and 2) beets are great for you!

Beets have zero trans fat and zero saturated fat. They are low calorie! Beets are also high in carbohydrates which means they are a great instant energy source, but unlike processed foods which are high in carbohydrates, beets will energize your body. Beets contain sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosperous! They are also considered a fiber food and contain vitamins A and C as well as niacin! Beets contain folic acid which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. Studies have shown that beets guard against cancer, especially colon cancer. Medical studies have also shown that including beets in your diet helps protect a body against heart disease.
-15 Health Benefits of Beets: Fight Cancer and More

So grab your forks and get to eating some beets! If you don’t do it for your health…do it because it’s super trendy! *wink wink


Monday, January 16, 2012

To Be...Or Not To Be....A CHICKEN NUGGET!

My sincerest apologies readers for my lack of blogging this month. My only excuse is that I haven’t done any terribly inspired cooking lately. Additionally with my new job, I’m just not finding or making the time. This is the case today, but I wanted to get something out there for you that I found interesting and wildly horrifying!

I have always heard people mention that what is in fast food isn’t what we think. But I had never really cared enough to do any research on it. Frankly, I don’t eat the stuff and stopped for the most part when I moved to Boston because it just wasn’t accessible! Later deciding I really wasn’t missing out on anything and that my health was too important. But I came upon a link Guess What McDonalds Food Item This Is from a post of a Facebook friend and I am floored. Yes, we know that fast food isn’t good for us. It’s deep fried and it’s greasy. This is not rocket science. But I never could have imagined the horrible truth.

This article explains the process in which chicken nuggets as we know them are made. It details a product called Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) or Mechanically Separated Poultry (MSP). MSM and MSP are meat produced by pulverizing the entire animal through a sieve-like machine. It does separate the bones and whatnot from the meat, but its not just delicious chicken meat coming through. Its also connective tissue, tendons and muscle fiber. So a portion of what we would separate from a whole animal if doing it ourselves get smashed through this machine to make a paste. If this doesn’t sound tasty to you…you’d be on to something. Because this “paste” doesn’t taste like yummy chicken, they must add various products to it. Now, there has been a bit of a movement due to controversy and because the government requires all products being made with MSP to be labeled that way. But even without the tendons or muscles, the ingredient list for them is extensive!

Here is the list of ingredients in

McDonalds Chicken Nuggets:
Chicken Meat White, Water, Food Starch Modified, Salt, Seasoning (Yeast Extract Autolyzed, Salt, Wheat Starch, Flavoring Natural, Safflower Oil, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Rosemary), Sodium Phosphate, Seasoning (Canola Oil, Mono and Diglycerides, Rosemary Extractives), Batter and Breading : Water, Flour Enriched (Wheat Flour Bleached, Niacin, Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)), Corn Flour Yellow, Food Starch Modified, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Lactate), Spice(s), Wheat Starch, Whey, Corn Starch, Prepared with Vegetable(s) Oil (May contain : Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean(s) Oil, Soybean(s) Oil Hydrogenated, with TBHQ and Citric Acid To Preserve Freshness), Dimethylpolysiloxane An Anti-foaming Agent

Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets:
Chicken Breast, Water, Corn Starch Modified, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Whey Protein Concentrate, Battered and Breaded : Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Flour Bleached, Salt, Corn Starch Modified, Spice(s), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Dextrose, Corn Flour Yellow, Yeast, Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Spice(s) Extractive, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Xanthan Gum, Cooked in Vegetable(s) Oil (Soybean(s) Oil, Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Soybean(s) Oil Hydrogenated, Flavor(s) Natural [Vegetable(s)], Citric Acid, Dimethylpolysiloxane)

Burger King Chicken Fries:
Chicken Fries : Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Salt, Food Starch Modified, Flavoring), Potato(es) Starch Modified, Sodium Phosphate, Breaded with, Wheat Flour Bleached, Wheat Starch Modified, Rice Flour, Salt, Spice(s), Dextrose, Paprika, Monosodium Glutamate, Garlic Dehydrated, Onion(s) Dehydrated, Soybean(s) Oil, Maltodextrin, Flavor(s) Natural, Paprika Extractives, Battered With Water, Wheat Flour Bleached, Corn Starch, Wheat Starch Modified, Maltodextrin, Potato(es) Starch, Food Starch Modified, Methylcellulose, Mono and Diglycerides, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Predusted With, Wheat Flour Bleached, Food Starch Modified (Corn Or Potato(es)), Dextrose, Monosodium Glutamate, Salt, Maltodextrin, Corn Starch, Sugar, Soybean(s) Oil, Paprika, Spice(s), Onion(s) Powder, Paprika Extractives, Garlic Powder, Turmeric, Flavor(s) Natural, Breading set in Soybean(s) Oil Or Vegetable(s) Oil, Food Starch Modified Includes Corn, Potato(es) and Wheat, Flavoring Or Flavor(s) Natural Includes Garlic Oil, Pepper(s) Black Extractives, Oleoresin Capsicum, Oleoresin Chili

This is somewhere around 30 ingredients each. Most of these ingredients I cannot pronounce let alone know what they are! And this doesn’t just go for fast food restaurants. This is the same for the frozen chicken nuggets you get in the grocery store.

If you look closely at the last line of ingredients in the McDonalds nuggets you’ll see this…. “Dimethylpolysiloxane An Anti-foaming Agent”
*This information comes straight from them!

You’ll also notice… “hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness” on the McDonalds nuggets. According to Wiki (and we NEVER question our pal Wikipedia) regarding TBHQat higher doses, it has some negative health effects on lab animals, such as producing precursors to stomach tumors and damage to DNA. A number of studies have shown that prolonged exposure to high doses of TBHQ may be carcinogenic, especially for stomach tumors." (


So today I’m here to give you a tip on making your own chicken nuggets because they can be yummy and not scary.

Chicken breasts
*Use wheat flour if you can
Panko breadcrumbs
Egg whites, beaten
Cayenne pepper
*If you want them with a little kick
Olive oil or olive oil spray

There you go. 6 ingredients you can pronounce and feel good about!

Slice your chicken breasts horizontally to make them thin. Cut them into “nuggets”. Put the flour & cayenne, egg whites and panko into three separate Ziploc bags. Drop the chicken into the flour and shake. Then into the egg whites and shake. Finally into the panko and….surprise….SHAKE! If you want to fry them put a little olive oil in a pan, bring to medium-high heat and cook on both sides until golden brown. I prefer to bake them. If you do that spray a cookie sheet with olive oil spray place them on the sheet and spray a small amount on top of them. Bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes flipping them over after the first 10 minutes.

I like to eat them with honey!

I hope this has scared you enough into no only changing your nugget habits but into thinking more about what you could be putting into your body! I personally don’t wish to grow a tail in 10 years because of the strange stuff I was eating!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Do Naaaaht Eat Dairy with Fish.....or do.....?!?!

I normally have a very strict policy against dairy and fish. Not individually of course! In fact, dairy of any variety alone and fish of any variety alone are two of my faves! But you will not catch me eating shrimp tacos with cheese, parmesan baked fish or any other combination of dairy and fish/shellfish you can think of. It absolutely grosses me out! This is a very personal preference. For those of you who like parmesan encrusted trout, knock yourselves out! And there are tons of recipes online for them. But you will not find one on my blog. Well, until today-ish! I am momentarily suspending my HATE for dairy and fish combinations to bring you one truly delicious fish dinner that I urge you to try no matter what component you think you hate!

I found this recipe on my new iPad App for All Recipes. If you have an iPad and don’t use this App, definitely check it out! For me it’s been really useful because I can save recipes for later when I can’t think of anything to cook. This particular recipe is for Thai flavored tilapia. Well, I love Thai food and I think I’m keeping the tilapia farmers in business: done and done!

Here’s the breakdown as submitted by Tiny Poem:

1/2 cup coconut milk
12 whole almonds
2 tablespoons chopped white onion
1” fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon chopped fresh lemon grass
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a food processor or blender, combine the coconut milk, almonds, onion, ginger, turmeric, lemon grass, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Process until smooth.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper on both sides, then place them skin-side up in the skillet. Pour the pureed sauce over the fish. Use a spatula to coat the fish evenly with the sauce. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the puree is thickened and fish flakes easily with a fork.

In a large skillet, I quickly sautéed snap peas and carrots with a little olive oil over high heat. Approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently. It makes a healthy and very crispy, crunchy side dish for the fish!

I just want to say that no, I will not be attempting any other dairy and fish combos! This is all you get friends. But I really hope you enjoy it, I sure did!