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California Style Tuna Salad (Mayo-Free!)

June 25, 2013

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If we’re being totally honest, Tuesdays are one of my least favorite days of the week. Mondays have been redeemed by the fact that The Bachelorette is on TV, though I think this season is incredibly lame and am struggling to get into it. Anyone with me? By Wednesday you can say “the week is halfway over” and Thursday and Friday are filled with anticipation of the weekend to come. I’m still searching for something to love about Tuesdays.

I guess that really has nothing to do with tuna salad, other than the fact that on Tuesday I’m usually ready for an easy weeknight meal that I can throw together in just a couple minutes. When Joe and I get home from working out we’re both starving and need food now, so dishes like this are the perfect solution.

Up until a couple weeks ago, I was not a fan of tuna salad in any form. Since I hate mayonnaise with a passion, most tuna salads were out by process of elimination. And the idea of using yogurt in place of mayo in tuna salad really grosses me out. So what’s a girl to do? Consult my favorite cookbook, of course!

A couple months ago our book club at work went through Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. I’ve talked about my love for Sprouted Kitchen blog many times on this site, and the cookbook did not disappoint, either. I was so impressed by the book at book club that I bought my own copy a few days later. I’ve been cooking my way through ever since, adapting the recipes to suit our tastes and the ingredients we have on hand. I’m pretty sure I made at least one recipe a week from the cookbook.

Anyway, back to the tuna salad! This recipe doesn’t contain any mayo and instead gets its flavor from coarse grain mustard and olive oil, a combination that I love. The original recipe doesn’t include avocados or tomatoes (I photographed sans tomatoes but added them in after) but I really liked the flavor and increased volume that they added to this dish. Joe and I have been eating this every week, usually with tortilla chips of some sort for dipping.

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California Style Tuna Salad (Mayo-Free!)
Makes 2 servings
Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients
2 cans (5 oz each) water-packed white tuna
2 tablespoons coarse grain mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Combine all of  the above ingredients. Stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips, if desired. The tortilla chips pictured above are the new Green Giant Veggie Chips I scored at work. They are fantastic!

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Barley and Bean Pesto Salad

May 30, 2013

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Summer seems to be taking its sweet time arriving in Minnesota this year. And to say that the weather has been crazy this month would be an understatement. We had snow, rain, hail, 100 degree temps and 30 degree temps. And right now? Well it’s as muggy as Florida with treats of severe weather and tornados. Crazy, I tell you!

And while summer may not be here in full force, Joe and I have certainly been eating meals that feel like summer. So take that, Minnesota. Grain salads packed with veggies are one of my summer favorites. They are fresh and hearty and store well for a couple days in the refrigerator, meaning I can take leftovers to work the next day. Major bonus.

I ate more than my fair share of this salad last night. Probably a little more than I should have, since I was absolutely stuffed after dinner. Considering that this salad is packed with good-for-you ingredients like barley, black beans and green beans, I guess there are worse things to overdose on.

If you’re looking for a dish to take to a picnic or barbecue, I would highly recommend taking along this salad. It’s incredibly versatile and easy to customize. If you leave off the feta cheese this dish can also be made vegan, just be sure the purchased pesto you use is vegan, too. Or make your own if you’re feeling like an overachiever! 

Barley and Bean Pesto Salad
Makes 2 to 3 dinner-sized servings or 4 to 6 smaller side dish servings
Ingredients
Dressing
3/4 cup baby spinach
2 tablespoons purchased pesto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salad
1 1/2 cups cooked barley (I love the quick cooking barley from Trader Joe’s)
8 oz steamed and chopped green beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 to 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions
1. In a food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients. Process until blended and well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
2. Combine the barley, green beans and black beans in a large bowl. Toss with dressing until well combined. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Top with crumbled feta cheese. This salad can be served warm, at room temp or chilled. I prefer it chilled.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Peter Reinhart’s Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pizza Crust

May 28, 2013

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Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend. Perhaps you were blessed with prettier weather than we were in Minnesota? It pretty much drizzled all weekend and stayed in the 60s. Since my dad, step-mom and little sisters were visiting from Idaho, I was hoping to have a little bit better weather. But we made the best of the weather and gave them a great taste of Minneapolis. It was also so much fun showing them our house for the first time! We managed a full long weekend with six people in our house and it wasn’t all that bad. I would call that a success.

I’ll have photos of our weekend to share in a couple of days, but in the meantime let’s talk about pizza. A couple weeks ago, someone at work prepared this pizza recipe and immediately I knew I had to have the recipe. The recipe, created by master baker Peter Reinhart, was unlike any pizza recipe I’ve ever had before. It was made with almond flour, egg whites and was completely gluten-free. Crazy, right? How almond meal and egg whites could come together to make a pizza crust is beyond me, but after tasting it and then making my own batch, I’m totally a believer.

If you have friends who are gluten-free or looking to cut back on carbohydrates, this would be a great dish to share. It’s fun to make because it’s so unique and takes much less time than traditional dough. Additionally, Joe and I both found that it makes great leftovers because the almond meal keeps the dough from drying out. This dough doesn’t taste like wheat-based dough but it its own thing all together. Very delicious, slightly nutty with a little crunch. It’s incredibly delicious, hearty and a great change of pace for pizza lovers like us.

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Peter Reinhart’s Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pizza Crust
Ingredients
Dough (adapted slightly)
*3 cups almond meal
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
*4 egg whites
*1 cup chicken broth
*3/4 cup grated mozzarella, fontina or Monterey Jack cheese
Toppings
*Marinara sauce and shredded cheese

Directions
*Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat, such as a Silpat. Set aside. You can also use parchment paper brushed with olive oil.
*In bowl, whisk together the almond meal, salt, baking powder, and xanthan gum. In a second bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until they develop stiff peaks.
*Add the broth to the dry ingredients and stir until it makes a smooth batter. Fold in the egg whites and the cheese.
*Pour mixture onto prepared pan with the nonstick baking mat. Spread into an even layer, using wet fingers if necessary to prevent sticking. Top lightly with marinara sauce and shredded cheese.
*Bake 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the crust is puffed through and baked and filling is bubbly. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

April 3, 2013

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Lately, I’ve been trying to do a little bit more “organic” blogging and a little less blogging for the sake of blogging. Can we make the phrase “organic blogging” a thing? What I mean is this: Joe and I keep a pretty busy schedule. I don’t mean to say we are too busy to enjoy life. In fact, a lot of the things that keep us occupied and busy are actually related to enjoying life and packing a lot of different things into a short amount of time.

A typical day consists of waking up and eating breakfast together, taking Nutmeg out and packing lunches to take to work. After work we both head straight to the gym and meet up there. I work closer to our gym so typically I get done before Joe gets done, giving me time to head home, shower and prep dinner. When Joe gets home he lets Nutmeg out and showers while I finish dinner. If we have dinner leftovers, I pack them up for our lunches the next day and Joe loads the dishes in the dishwasher. Then, we crash on the couch for a bit for some cuddle time with Nutmeg and a little bit of TV time before we head to bed. Some nights we have friends over for dinner, maybe once a week,

As you can see, our days are full of great stuff. And while I love blogging more than a lot of other things, it doesn’t take precedence over my job, my hubby or getting in a good sweat session. So in the name of juggling it all I’ve been trying to find ways to integrate blogging into daily life. This salad is a great example of just that.

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Last night when I got home from the gym, I pulled together this salad for dinner. It was incredibly easy and truly made sense for a weeknight meal. Since the days are getting longer and the temps are slowly rising, I’ve started to crave foods that are more summer-like in nature: salads, smoothies and chilled grain and pasta dishes. But since it’s still not exactly balmy outside, my hankering for foods like roasted sweet potatoes hasn’t completely disappeared.

The minute I walked in the door, I preheated the oven to 375F. I chopped the lettuce and tossed it in a bowl with avocado, sliced grape tomatoes, and edamame. Then, I chopped the sweet potatoes and shallots and put them in an oven with a little olive oil and salt. While they roasted, I jumped in the shower and unpacked my gym bag. Multi-tasking while making dinner? Major win in my book.

Joe and I fell in love with this dish from the first bite. Something about the crispy bits of onion and the charred ends of the sweet potato paired with the crisp lettuce, tomatoes and other toppings just hit the spot and made it hearty enough to serve as a main meal for dinner on a Tuesday night.

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Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Makes 2 to 3 large servings
Ingredients
*2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
*2 medium shallots, sliced
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
*1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
*1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
*1/2 cup shelled edamame
*1/4 cup sesame seeds
*Your favorite dressing to toss (we prefer Trader Joe’s Spicy Asian Peanut Vinaigrette in this salad)

Instructions
*Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly toss sweet potatoes and shallots with onion and sprinkle with the salt and ground black pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until sweet potatoes and crisp on the outside and tender inside.
*Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Once sweet potatoes are finished cooking, add them to the salad mixture and toss with dressing before serving.

Happy cooking!
Madison

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Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Spaghetti

October 17, 2012

Lately, I’ve fallen into a bit of a cooking rut. It’s not that Joe and I have been eating takeout every night, but I haven’t really been cooking anything interesting. Most nights, I find myself falling back on easy staples like roasted veggies, baked chicken breasts for Joe, and some whole grain, such as quinoa, whole wheat pasta or brown rice. Tasty? Sure. But I’ve hardly been pushing myself out of my culinary comfort zone.

This week, I set out on a mission to get back on my cooking game by making our meals from real, actual recipes. Beef stew and biscuits one night, sweet potato and black bean enchiladas another. It’s amazing how putting a little extra effort into meal planning can have incredibly tasty results. But the recipe I was most excited to try was a recipe I found on Cooking Canuck’s site for Cannellini Bean “Meatballs” made with beans, bread crumbs and Italian herbs.

I tweaked the recipe slightly to suit the ingredients I had in my pantry, and added a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese to the mix, too, since I don’t think adding cheese is ever a bad decision. And although Joe was pretty skeptical of the recipe while it was cooking, he was pleasantly surprised with the end product. I don’t think anyone will be fooled into thinking these are actual meatballs, but once they are tossed with marinara sauce and served over whole wheat pasta it creates an incredibly satisfying, flavorful dinner that will keep you full for hours.

We had quite a few leftover “meatballs” and I found that they heat well in the microwave for lunch the next day or dinnertime leftovers. The second time around, I served them alongside a bowl of roasted Brussels sprouts. So tasty!

Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Spaghetti
Inspired by Cooking Canuck’s Bean Balls
Ingredients
*2 1/2 cups canned white beans, drained or cooked dried beans (such as cannellini beans or my new favorite, cranberry beans)
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 medium yellow onion, grated
*1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
*1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
*Whole wheat angel hair pasta (enough to serve 4)

Instructions
*In the bowl of a food processor, combine the beans and garlic and process with on-off turns until beans are broken up and begin to hold together but are not so processed that they form a paste. Transfer bean mixture to a mixing bowl and add in the onion, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, egg, Parm, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
*Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop bean balls by heaping tablespoons and shape into circles with your hands, about 2-inches in diameter. Place balls on the baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp around the outside. Remove from oven. Toss with warmed marinara sauce and serve atop whole wheat angel hair pasta. Makes 4 servings

Happy Cooking!
Madison