An Easy, Delicious, Healthy and Provincial Way to Prep and Serve Fish

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 Do you, despite knowledge of  the outstanding benefits of fish,  prepare it sparingly, if at all?  If you answered “yes”,  you’re  not alone. Although Americans  are starting to try to eat healthier,  our consumption of fish (particularly in home cooking) is down from what it was ten years ago.

So today’s post is my attempt to do my part.  To get you more comfortable with preparing fish in your own home. It’s important to start with a good marinade, I am using a simple one that would be good on most  fish, 3 parts butter, 2 parts lemon juice. I am also using  a cedar plank, good for firm flesh fish like salmon (the classic choice for this method of preparation), tuna,  shark and  wahoo. The later is  my choice for today because I have a freezer full (read about my freezing method here) thanks to Boomer’s  fishing promise fulfilled.

The resulting fish has a smoky, woodsy flavor. I especially like the provincial presentation of serving right off of the cedar plank. So relax; use this plain sailing way to prep and serve fish at home!

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Have you ever used a cedar plank for cooking? What are your favorite ways to prepare and serve fish?

Cedar Plank Wahoo

serves 4-6

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • one wooden grilling plank
  • 1 1/2 pound Wahoo steaks
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • canola oil for brushing plank
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • one lemon, sliced

Instructions

1. Soak the wooden grilling plank in water for 2 hours prior to putting it on the grill.

2. in a small bowl combine butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

3. Place the Wahoo steaks in a zip lock plastic bag and pour marinade over top. Allow to marinate 20-30 minutes.

4. Light gas grill and allow to get hot (about 400 degrees F).

5. Brush wooden plank with canola oil and set wahoo steaks on top.

6. Place the planked wahoo on the grilling grate, and cook with the grill covered, until the fish surface begins to turn white. (Approximately 30 minutes for 1 inch thick fish steaks.)

(Note the grill time will be longer when using a plank because the fish is cooking indirectly.)

7. When the fish is done remove the entire plank and fish steaks with a pair of grilling mitts.

8. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Top with lemon slices.

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Lunch to Go: Quinoa Salad in a Jar

IMG_9505 Mason jar mania is my favorite food craze since the cupcake. And to think I really didn’t catch on to this trend until after my post on refrigerator pickles! Thank you Recipe Redux! Call me a laggard. Nevertheless, I do adore this Mason jar movement which has taken a firm hold on our foodie culture.  I especially like the layered salad in a jar phenomena. It’s truly  a brillant way to pack a salad because it eliminates plastic containers, makes food look delicious, keeps all ingredients together yet keeps salad greens from getting soggy (thank goodness and why did it take sooo long!?)   If you’re tired of blah lunches, unhealthy food, and going out to lunch everyday, read on.

Here is the anatomy of my quinoa salad in a jar. It’s  a tote able lunch that will energize you through the second half of your day.

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When I first assembled this salad in the pint size, wide mouth Mason  jar, I didn’t think it would be very substantial.   But look below at  how it fills my dinner plate! If you’ve been making excuses for not eating healthy, break the cycle by improving what happens over your lunch hour. Now that the heat of the summer is behind us, spend your lunch hour outside enjoying  both the fresh air and a meal  that’s high in protein,  a whole grain, high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, low in fat, low in sodium, and  has no added sugar or preservatives. Remember, real change starts with the small stuff. Share the love with your friends 

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Quinoa Salad in a Jar

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup julienne carrots
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup steamed baby beets
  • 2 ounces cooked chicken
  • salad greens

Instructions

1. Combine honey and lemon juice and add to the bottom of a one pint Mason jar.

2. Layer remaining ingredients in jar, one on top of the other starting with julienne carrots.

3. Finish by packing jar full with salad greens.

4. Place lid on jar. Refrigerate or pack in a insulated lunch box with ice pack.

5. To serve: Shake jar and pour into a bowl or plate, or eat right out of the jar.

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Problem Solving / Fishing Promise Fulfilled: the FoodSaver®

Disclosure: I was not asked to write a product review. I purchased the foodsaver with my own funds and came up with the idea of a product review on my own. I was not compensated for my time. Opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago I had a problem I’ve never had before. But it was a good problem.    You see, my son went fishing and unlike his other fishing trips, he actually caught something. Here’s proof. Wahoo_edited-1And so when he and his friends arrived home with a cooler full of wahoo, I was at a loss for words and at a loss for how to store it to lock in freshness. Because I knew,photo-182

as much as we like fish, we wouldn’t be finishing ten plus pounds in a couple of days.  So what would be the best way to freeze these keepers to maintain the nutritional value, flavor and overall quality? My first thought was a vacuum food sealer, but it didn’t make sense to spend $400 (or more) on a system to freeze such a small amount of fish, once. So I opted for a hand held system, the food saver®, I purchased for a mere fraction of the cost of a big unit, $19.99 to be exact.

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This hand held device comes with quart sized freezing bags that were a perfect size for my needs, freezing individual 3/4 – 1 pound portions of wahoo steak. This system is simple to use.  Fill quart zipper bags with fish. Place the nozzle of the Food Saver® over the designated circle on the bag. Turn it on. Most all of the air is removed and the fish was ready for the freezer in minutes.

photo-183_edited-1Have you ever used a vacuum food sealer before? What are your thoughts?

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Something to Anticipate: Chocolate Cookie Bars with Creamy Filling

Anticipation

n. noun the act of expecting or foreseeing something; expectation or presentiment.

If you’ve been following this blog you are aware that I am, along with my colleagues, anticipating the #BlogBrûlée. Woo Hoo! We’ve been tweeting, blogging  and instagraming for weeks now about this inaugrual event taking place over the weekend of Sept 12 in beautiful Vermont. Why? Because anticipation is half the fun! The same goes for eating. Love your food! Instead of settling for the easiest option (something straight out of a bag or box), add a little pizazz to the lunch or bento boxes of your loved ones with the promise of something homemade, fresh and flavorful. Maybe like this…IMG_9293I made these  chocolate cookie bars with creamy filling in response to this month’s Recipe Redux challenge. The theme for August: Bars and Bites for Brown Bags,  is timed just right for back to school.IMG_9201

 I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid and carried a bagged lunch everyday, I always anticipated that one special surprise mom would tuck in. She loved to bake, so I  had the best desserts.  Well, thanks to Mom, I always had first draft picks when it came to bartering for food in the school cafeteria! One of the nicest thing about baking your own goodies is you can pack a little more nutrition into something homemade.  Homemade items are also tastier. These cookie bars evolved from IMG_9256  a chocolate drop cookie I made little healthier by substituting Unknown-7Greek yogurt  for some of the butter (see the cheat sheet on the right for more ways to use Greek yogurt to reduce fat in baking), and boosting  the fiber and phytonutrients by swapping  white whole wheat for half of the all purpose flour. The filling is identical to the filling  in my Oatmeal Bars with Creamy Ricotta Filling, except I replaced the lemon zest with pistachios. The result was everything I had hoped for, moist, chocolatey with  a sweet and salty middle. Please see the links at the bottom of this post for more nutritious ideas that will have  your loved ones anticipating their bagged lunches like never before.

IMG_9260Chocolate Cookies Bars with Creamy  Filling

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the filling

  • 16 oz part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil.

3. In a large bowl sift together the flours, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4. Cream yogurt, butter,  brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

5. Beat in flour mixture a little at a time, until well blended and smooth.

6. Set aside 1 cup of dough and refrigerate.

7. Spread the remainder of the dough into the prepared baking pan using a spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough into a even layer.

8 Make the filling by adding ricotta cheese, sugar, egg, honey to a medium bowl and stirring to combine.

9. Spread filling evenly over the bottom layer of dough.

10. Take out out the reserved dough from the refrigerator and using a grater, shred dough over top of filling creating third layer, or simply crumble reserved dough on top.

11. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Store in the refrigerator. Pack in lunch or bento boxes with a lunch box freezer pack or next to a bottle of frozen water.

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Blog Brûlée Will be My First: What do I hope for?

Blog_Brulee_LogoDisclosure: My attendance at the Blog Brûlée is  partially funded by Sponsor’s of the Blog Brûlée and  I have received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post.  Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.

There’s nothing else like doing something for the first time! It’s exciting! And  exhilarating! Even  a bit scary.  Right now, I’m feeling all of these sensations as I plan my trip to Vermont to attend my very first blogging conference, and the inaugural Blog Brûlée! Today’s post is about what I hope to achieve during the weekend of September 12-14  in the mountains with 30 food bloggers!

Like all continuing education conferences, I will be trying to fill my noggin with as much information as will stick. What type of know how is necessary for a good food blog?   If there’s one thing I have learned from  blogging it’s this: gorgeous  photos lure  people to your site. Taking pictures of  food is NOT something that comes natural to me. When I first began my blog (this September will be my third year anniversary), I didn’t know a thing about photography and getting a picture to go along with my post was not a piece of cake.  Admittedly, I still struggle with it at times today.  So here’s  something that thrills me;   I will be picking up photography skills from 3 amazing gals –  I consider them the  crème de la crème of food photography: Regan Jones of Healthy Aperture; Gretchen Brown of Kumquat; and Deanna Seagrave-Daily of Teaspoon of Spice. What an opportunity!

What else is important? You’ve probably heard this before but I will repeat it, content is king! I cannot think of two better individuals to share their  advice on  the art of story telling than media personality Brierley Wright from EatingWell.com and Eating Well Magazine (one of my personal favorite foodie magazines)  and Dallas, Texas based nutrition and culinary expert Robin Plotkin of Robinsbite. Nutrition is a science, but writing about nutrition is an art.  This creative outlet (along with photography) brings balance to my work day!

Better story telling and  improved images here we come!!! Is there more? Yes, on a strictly personal note,  I am seeking direction. It’s great not having a boss, but there’s a down side to flying solo. Sometimes you need someone to be honest. Someone to  tell you… this is great.. or lousy… or   you should spend more time doing this… or  you’re wasting your time on that.  I hate that at the end of the day when my husband asks, “What can I do to help you?”  I have to answer,   “I don’t know!”  I am looking forward to three speakers who are champions when it comes to building a virtual community. EA Stewart, the Spicy RD, has a strategy that  aligns with  her personal philosophy. Then there is the dynamic duo, Janice Bissex and Liz Weiss, aka Meal Makeover Moms, who have mastered the art of name recognition! Online communities are here and now.  My membership in the  blogging community Recipe Redux has been an all around positive experience and I attribute much of the growth of my blog to this virtual community.  Of course I’m  curious how I can continue to use social media  to influence,  grow and create more opportunities.

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Behind the scenes with my faithful assistant!

Last but not  least, I hope to recharge my battery.   Outside of the time I spend with private patients and public speaking, most of my work-time is spent alone;  reading, writing, developing recipes, prepping food, grocery shopping, cooking, taking and editing photographs, planning menus and meal patterns, brainstorming and putting together power point presentations.  It’s quiet and it gets lonely (thank goodness for my son’s chocolate lab, Brody).  It will be great to have some up-close and personal time with individuals I communicate with online and I’m enthusiastic to hear about each and every speaker’s and attendee’s  experiences, ideas, passions and dreams.  Let’s face it, food bloggers feed off of each other! Pun intended.

Before I close, I’m shouting out to all the generous brands  for making this inaugural event possible.  I know my first time will be a memorable one! Thank you!

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