Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Very Sparty Salad

In the great state of Kentucky, it is the middle of March Sadness. Well, in most people's houses, but not so much in my dad's house. In my dad's house, Tom Izzo may take my father's beloved Spartans to a national championship. I grew up in a divided home. My dad is a Michigan State fan to his soul and my mother always cheered for Michigan. Although I sometimes wonder if she just did that to get his goat. Either way, it was a home divided and game days were a sight. So when I decided to attend the University Of Kentucky, I am sure eyes rolled with regard to sports. Yet another family division. If we're being fair, Kentucky is the obvious better choice of teams to cheer for. I mean, caaahm aaahhhn! Big Blue Nation or Die! I don't feel strongly about this, hahaha! Anyway, my father's allegiance definitely translated in me a certain respect for a team, perhaps the only team in the NCAA, that trains for the tournament all year long. Year in and year out this team gets its butt kicked all over the place. I'm not saying they always lose, we know that's not true. But they kick, scratch and fight their way through their season and their unmatched difficult schedule. Izzo has no interest in making the season a cake walk for these poor kids. But they always show up to the tournament and this year, they just might win. So since my beloved Cats aren't in the tournament, I've been taking bribes at work for which team I cheer for. We have a Cuse fan, a Kansas fan and a State fan. The choice here isn't really a competition, but I do respect all of the teams represented in my office and love the friendly competition it brings come tournament time. It is always fun to be around folks with a similar passion for basketball! Anyway, I was cooking over the weekend and decided I had the ingredients to make a very Sparty Salad that my dad would love!

Here's the breakdown:

Easy Peasy Product
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
*I used cabernet vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

1 bunch green asparagus
1 bunch white asparagus
12 oz country ham, diced
*If you don't have country ham, which unless you're in the south, you dont....use serrano ham or prosciutto
1 6 oz package ArtiHearts grilled artichoke hearts
*or 6 oz of your own grilled artichoke hearts

Cut the woody stems off the asparagus and then cut the spears into thirds. Then divide up the artichoke hearts with your hands. Mix everything together. Food process the sun dried tomatoes and mix with the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients. Toss together some of the dressing with the salad and voila! A very Sparty green and white salad that any State fan would love!

Go State!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Try It Again

I hate salmon. I mean, no, I hate cooked salmon. Cooked salmon is like this year's UK basketball team. You want to love it because you know it's good for you, but ya just hate it! How someone's most favorite piece of sashimi can be someone's most hated fish when it's cooked is totally beyond me, but there you go. I am a freak of nature. The truth as I know it is that salmon changes almost completely once its cooked. So you can imagine we don't eat it in my house...ever. However, because of a great tip that Dave's Fresh Pasta has day boat fresh fish on Thursdays, combined with the fact that Josh likes it, added to the fact that it is seriously good for you, I decided to give it another whirl. Incidentally, did you know how good it actually is for you?

Due to the high amounts of Omega-3 fat and Vitamin D, salmon is great in preventing inflammation, improving cognitive function, preventing cancer. It also improves eye and , skin, hair and cardiovascular health. It is also high in Vitamin B12, protein and is moderately low in calories.

Here's what my little brain produced!


2 Tbsp. fish oil
1/2 cup coconut aminos
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. spicy sesame oil
1" fresh ginger, minced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp honey


3 salmon fillets
1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil


left over marinade 
1-2 Tbsp. almond butter
cayenne pepper

Put all the marinade ingredients into a ziploc bag and mix up thoroughly. Put salmon in the bag skin up so that the fleshy part is in direct contact with the marinade. Marinate for several hours. Remove from the marinade and dry off skin side of the salmon really well. You want it super dry. Heat coconut oil on high then add salmon to the pan skin down. Then turn the heat down to medium. Cook on that side until the fish is almost cooked all the way through. You'll see this happen by the color change. Then flip over for just a minute or two to brown the other side. Reserve the left over marinade and put in a small saucepan. Heat over medium with a little extra honey, almond butter and a dash of cayenne pepper. Stir until it thickens. Spoon over fish.

I served this with bok choy, leek and mushroom stir fry. So here's the verdict. The sauce was amazing! But I still don't like cooked salmon. Josh, on the other hand, loved it. So what have I learned? Stick with sashimi. For all you salmon lovers, I'm sure you'll love this too. If you hate cooked salmon like I do, try this recipe with  fish you like!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Getting Wingy Wit It!!

When I was poor and in college, my friend Jason and I used to go out for half price tall boy beers and half price buffalo wings liiiike every week. We could pretty much get bombed and full for 10 bucks a piece! It was pretty glorious especially in hind sight living in a state where drink specials are illegal. Don't even get me started on this particular subject. Anyway, I believe these nights are where my buffalo chicken obsession began. I could legit happily eat them several times a week. However, those little spicy beauts will make you fat really quick. And in fact, they did! Did I mention I used to be a little pork chop? However, I do not think one should have to give up flavors they love. I think adapting them is the way to go. So that's what I did with this recipe. I seriously enjoyed it and because I thinned out the blue cheese dressing, I also suffered from a little heat induced sweat. Which I hear burns more calories, so rock on!

Here's the breakdown:

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubes
4 cups mixed greens
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/4 english cucumber, sliced
1 crown broccoli
julienned zucchini
*I got this from the salad bar at Whole Foods to make my life easier
Franks Red Hot
*I put that sh*t on everything
1/4-1/2 cup grass fed blue cheese crumbles
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Mix up all the veggies into 2 bowls. Sauté chicken in coconut oil over medium-high heat. Let me give you a great tip incase you aren't already doing this.....melt your oil then put the chicken in and let it sit. I mean really let it sit. Like 2 minutes after you think you should move it around, then do it. I just think the chicken tastes better when you let it get brown and it also sticks less to the pan at that point. So anyway, cook your chicken through and set to the side. Toss with the Franks. For the dressing, I wanted to thin down the blue cheese dressing, not get rid of it. It's one of my favorite parts of eating buffalo chicken! So instead of making it creamy, I made a blue cheese vinaigrette. Cut down some of that dairy and unnecessary fat. So start with the blue cheese in a container that has a tight lid. Then add the vinegar and pepper. Put the lid on and shake the bejesus out of it. It will look milky at this point but still have some chunks. Then add half the olive oil and shake again. Then taste it. If it's too acidic add more little by little tasting it along the way. When it's just to your liking, toss the veggies with the dressing and then place the buffalo chicken on top of your salad. 

This absolutely fixed the need for spicy and blue. It is a terrific alternative to the less healthy alternative and it has exactly the same flavor plus some. You won't even miss those greasy old wings!