Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

Last night I made these delicious Mediterranean style stuffed peppers with herb & sun-dried tomato chicken sausage and cauliflower rice....yep! Totally gluten free and grain free, and I promise you would never know the difference.

I decided to use chicken sausage because that is what they had available and fresh yesterday, although you could use any kind of lean meat (turkey, chicken, or even LAMB which would make this even more Mediterranean!). I decided to use actual sausage instead of pre-ground meat and it turned out amazing. You get thicker pieces of sausage in each bite, and as my husband said last night, it tastes more "sausage-y" this way (as opposed to using ground meat)....if that makes sense.

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The cauliflower rice component is what I personally think makes these little guys fantastic. Usually stuffed peppers are loaded with a specific grain such as rice, pasta or even tabouli, which are all high glycemic index. The cauliflower rice is a fantastic grain free, low GI alternative that's gluten free. The "rice" helps to fill out the stuffing in each pepper and when combined with the sausage, these pepps are packed with flavor!

My hubs said this is his new favorite recipe and I hope you all enjoy it too!

6 medium size peppers, caps removed and seeds and ribs scooped out
1 pound of lean sausage meat ( I used sun-dried tomato & herb chicken sausage, about 4 to 5 links)
1 medium head of cauliflower, bottom trimmed off and roughly cut into 4 or 5 segments
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup of chopped white or sweet onion
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes (I used ones packed in olive oil)
2.25 ounce jar of black or green sliced olives
2 teaspoons of capers
2 tablespoons of chopped basil
1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon of chopped oregano
Feta cheese for topping the peppers
Homemade or store bought tomatoes sauce of choice (optional)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Take your de-capped peppers (with the seeds and ribs removed) and steam them for 10 minutes. When finished, place aside in a casserole or baking dish.

To make the cauliflower rice, use a food processor and pulse a few segments at a time so it's in the consistency of a rice. (I usually break it up into two parts with a medium size cauliflower. So I first pulse 2 or 3 segments, pour into a large bowl, and pulse up the rest). BE SURE to not over pulse. You do not want the cauliflower to get mushy. You want it to have a nice texture. Here is what is should look like:

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Coat a large and deep skillet with olive oil and set on medium to high heat. Add the minced garlic and let it become fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the onions and celery and cook until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes or so). Add the cauliflower rice a little at a time, mixing well. Add another tablespoon or 2 of olive oil or even butter (up to you) and mix till combined. Turn up the heat to high and let the cauliflower cook up nicely. (You want it to start to brown and crisp up so it has some more texture. Make sure you don't add too much liquid, otherwise it will become mushy). After about 10 minutes or so, add the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers and season with salt and pepper (to taste). Let the "rice" cook up another 15 minutes or so. While it's cooking it should be sticking to the bottom of the pan in places and you will have to scrape it with a spoon. This is a GOOD thing. You will notice it start to brown and spots which will give it a nice flavor and texture (just make sure it doesn't burn....obviously).

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After the rice is finished, put aside in a bowl and let it cool. To expedite the cooling process, I chilled it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Once cooled, preset your oven to 375 degrees. Pour rice into a larger bowl and add the sausage links by removing the casting on each link and massaging the meat into the rice mixture. Add the basil, rosemary and oregano to the mixture. Once combined, over-stuff each pepper and drizzle olive oil over the stuffed tops (about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon over each pepper).

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Bake peppers at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the peppers are crispy at the edges and the meat is cooked through (and browned on top). Top with crumbled feta cheese and/or your favorite tomato sauce.  Hope you all enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Slow Roasted Salmon

Have you ever slow roasted? I'm officially obsessed. If you wish for a delicious, beyond tender meal that you barely have to do any work for, then you must get a slow cooker. I literally spent 5 minutes in the kitchen and was able to watch ALL of NBC's The Voice (come on, I know you watched it too) while checking emails and enjoying a bottle of vino with the hubs. Then after 1 hour.... "DING!" Dinner is READY. It's like you have a personal chef in the kitchen doing all the work. You are just the brains behind the project.

The one challenge with slow roasting fish, is getting the right flavor. You will have no problem whatsoever (as long as you know how to use your slow cooker of course) with getting a beyond moist and succulent fish. It will cook perfectly. However, the slow roaster tends to obtain a lot of liquid since its covered the whole time. It's really important to season the fish well and garnish with fresh herbs, drizzle with oil and/or top with your favorite sauce to enhance the overall flavor.

For this dish, I did a very simple slow roasted salmon with bright flavors using fresh dill, parsley and lemon zest. I served it alongside a quick cucumber Greek salad, but you can also serve with my Heirloom Tomato and Hearts of Palms Salad which compliments the salmon great.

3 to 4 Wild Alaskan Salmon filets (about 2 pounds of salmon total), skin and any bones removed (ask your fishmonger to remove for you!)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of white wine
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
3 fresh dill springs
Salt and pepper
Fresh chopped parsely (about 1 to 2 tablespoons)
Fresh chopped dill (about 2 tablespoons)
The zest of 2 lemons 
Olive oil of choice for drizzling 

First off, let's start with the slow cooker. There are many different ways you can slow cook this dish. I used my brand new Cuisinart Multicooker from William Sonoma. Set your slow cooker on low and combine the water, veggie stock, white wine, onion, dill and couple teaspoons of salt and pepper. Mix gently in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes so the flavors combine. In the meantime, season salmon filets with a light amount of salt and pepper. Add the salmon filets, cover and slow cook on low for 1 hour or until opaque and just fork tender. (*Side note: it's best not to lift the cover off too much while the salmon is roasting, but you will have to check on your salmon toward the end. You may not need a full hour of cooking time depending on your machine). Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, dill and lemon zest and drizzle with your favorite olive oil for some extra flavor (I used a basil infused oil that tasted lovely with the fish). Serve with your favorite salad such as this Heirloom Tomato and Hearts of Palm Salad.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Grouper Mar-acruz

My mom came down to Miami a few weeks ago for her birthday. We had the perfect girls weekend while my husband was away for a friend's bachelor party. We had so much fun, we decided to extend her trip for another day =)

On her last night, (my husband was now home) she cooked us an amazing grouper veracruz for dinner after we both had a LONG day at work. I re-did this recipe last weekend and it came out absolutely delicious! I am naming it Grouper Mar-acruz (because if you know my Mom, we all call her MAR --- short for Mary of course).

This dish is a great go-to staple that is easy to make and healthy to eat. It goes something like this...

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2 (6 ounce) pieces of Grouper (skin off, bones removed)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
The juice of 4 small limes
The zest of 4 small limes
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 medium shallots, sliced
1/4 cup of green pitted olives or a pre-made olive tapenade
2 medium tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon of sugar substitute (such as splenda or truvia)
1/3 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Place grouper in a medium casserole dish and season with salt and pepper. Rub each side of both filets with garlic cloves. Pour lime juice and lime zest over filets. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and saute until soft and translucent (about 3 minutes). Stir in the tomatoes, olive tapenade, raisins, bay leaf, Herbes de Provence and splenda. Add white wine and reduce heat to simmer (uncovered) and stir occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and put aside in a separate bowl.

Add an extra 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan over medium-high heat. Add the filets and cook on each side until fork tender (about 5 minutes per side). Pour tomato mixture over filets and cook for another minute. Serve fish topped with fresh chopped cilantro. Enjoy!