chicken satay with coconut-peanut sauce

Chicken satay is a food that everyone likes – young, old, picky and adventurous. It also just so happens to be an incredible hors d’oevre that is lean, full of protein, fun to eat (food on a stick!) and bursting with flavor! I really do think that everyone appreciates a healthy option at parties. (But most of them may never even suspect this as “healthy”)

After marinating the cut chicken tenders – recipe from Ellie Kreiger here - I grilled the chicken on the indoor grill. 2nd time using the indoor grill in about 3 years – NOT a purchase I would recommended.

I then set out to make a dipping sauce. Originally I was just going to use the recipe that came along with the satay, but I didn’t want the open can of coconut milk to go to waste so I made a few changes to incorporate it.

Peanut-Coconut Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp ginger
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp chili paste

Blend all ingredients.

a healthy dose of fats

I ♥ fat. I really do. I’m not a fan of the hydrogenated trans-fat kind but healthy fats? Yes please. The occasional bacon fat? Definitely yes. Fat can add so much to a meal – in terms of satiety, texture (crispy, smooth, etc), and because, well, it just tastes good.

Our body also needs fats (in moderation). Why do we need fats?

  • required for some vitamins to be absorbed (Vit D, E, K & A)
  • help to maintain cell membranes
  • needed for growth and development – throughout life
  • source of energy
  • omega-3 fatty acids can help control inflammation – which helps in disease prevention and over-all health

Ready to eat some good fats?

Crispy Salmon with Avocado & Grapefruit Salad adapted from Bon Appétit. Serves two.

  • 1 Tbsp grapefruit juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 salmon filets
  • 1 head bibb lettuce
  • 1/2 english cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, segmented
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

Mix together citrus juices, greek yogurt, garlic and salt & pepper. Set aside. Heat oil in pan until hot. Season salmon with salt & pepper. Sear salmon, skin side down for about 6 minutes, flip over and heat until cooked through, about 4 more minutes. Assemble lettuce, cucumber, grapefruit and avocado. Drizzle with dressing.


in my cupboard: tj’s nuts about chocolate & raspberries mix

When I think about family hikes as a child, one thing comes to mind:

Picture us, much like the Von Trapp family happily singing through the mountains of Austria. Except that it was probably just my mother and I singing “The Hills are Alive” and we were hiking in The Smoky Mountains…

We had gorp (peanuts, raisins and m&m’s) for every hike, which was definitely the highlight for my brother and I. More specifically the m&m’s were the highlight, and we took full advantage of this by needing to stop about every 20 minutes to “refuel” as I’m sure we called it.

Apparently my tastes haven’t changed too much in the last 20 years because my latest trail mix obsession contains a delightful mix of almonds, peanuts, chocolate chips and dried raspberries. It is the perfect ratio of nuts to sweets. Every two nuts has either a raspberry or chocolate to accompany it. Just the way it should be, right?

What is your perfect trail-mix blend?

shrimp etouffee

It was in New Orleans that I first experienced a roux. While I was at the cooking class I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I wanted to make with a roux (sauces, soups, etc). Upon my return home though I wanted little to do with New Orleans cuisine or the butter and oil that came along with it.

Now that it has been almost 6 months, I’m ready to get back to some Louisiana cooking!  A dish that I had only at the cooking school, but loved was crawfish etouffee. Now surprisingly, I can get crawfish in Minnesota, but they are whole and so instead of peeling and preparing crawfish I used shrimp.

The roux – which is a blend of fat (oil, butter, lard) and flour provides a silky sheen to the dish, thickens the sauce and as I also discovered, requires more stirring than risotto. The “chocolate” roux that I made out of oil and flour adds a nutty flavor and is commonly used in cajun and creole cuisine.

Shrimp Etouffee based on New Orleans School of Cooking Recipe

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth, hot
  • 3 Tbsp Joes Stuff Seasoning
  • 1 lb shrimp

To make roux, stir flour into very hot oil. Continue stirring until it turns a dark, chocolate color. (Takes some patience) Add in onions, pepper, celery, garlic and Joe’s Seasoning to roux mixture and stir to combine. Slowly incorporate roux and veggie mix into large pan with hot chicken broth.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add shrimp and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until shrimp is cooked through. Serve over brown rice.