Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lemony Salmon with Creamy Cucumber-Fennel Salad

Tired of dry salmon fillets? Prepping your salmon in the Marinade Express helps to add moisture to your salmon in just 10 minutes. The result is a juicy, scrumptious, nutritious piece of salmon that will melt in your mouth. The salmon is slowly baked with a lemon and thyme that melts into the layers of the salmon distributing flavor throughout the fish. The creamy cucumber-fennel salad accompanies the salmon perfectly. The sweet crunch of the fennel and the refreshing cucumbers complement each other, topped with a creamy, tangy Greek yogurt sauce. This meal has all of the health benefits of protein, Omega 3's, calcium, and veggies.

Lemony Salmon
Adapted from

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12-15 minutes
Servings: 4


MX seasoning mix: either Lemon Pepper or Unflavored
1 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed oil, divided
4  6 to 8 ounce boneless salmon fillets
1 tablespoon dried or fresh chopped thyme
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
4 lemon wedges, for serving

  • Prep the salmon in the Marinade Express using your choice of the Lemon Pepper or Unflavored MX seasoning for 10 minutes.Remove from the appliance and pat dry. 
  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. 
  • Brush with 1/2 tablespoon oil. Place salmon fillets, skin side down on baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl mix remaining oil, thyme, and lemon zest. Spread mixture over the salmon fillets.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake salmon until opaque in center and flaky. About 12-15 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Creamy Cucumber-Fennel salad
Adapted from Real Simple

MX seasoning: Unflavored for Produce
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fennel leaves
1 seedless cucumber (or regular cucumber with seeds removed), thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • Use a cucumber that has previously been prepped in the Marinade Express using the Unflavored MX seasoning for produce. 
  • Whisk together yogurt, vinegar, salt, pepper in a large bowl.
  • Add fennel, fennel leaves, and cucumber. Toss to coat.
  • Serve salmon with creamy cucumber-fennel salad. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Asian Steak Kabobs

The sauce for these Asian Steak kabobs packs a big punch of flavor. With one bite they lead your taste buds on a roller coaster of ginger, garlic, lemongrass, curry, with a slight kick of spice. It is the perfect medley of flavors. I used MX Seasoning, Sesame Ginger, to kick-start the Asian flavors within the meat.Ever since the snow melted in Iowa we have been using our grill whenever possible, trying to urge Mother Nature into warmer spring days. These kabobs could easily be cooked in your oven if you don't have the option of a grill. Either way you won't want to miss out on these Asian-inspired kabobs!

Asian Steak Kabobs:
Adapted from

Sesame Ginger MX Seasoning
2 tablespoons of chopped lemongrass (I used the Gourmet Garden lemongrass in a tube; it's easier to work with and still tastes great!)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 large shallot, minced
2 fresh jalapenos, minced (adjust to preference of spicy heat)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
3 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 1/2 pounds steak of choice cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, cut into 1 inch cubes

  1. Prep steak in Marinade Express for 20 minutes with the MX Seasoning.
  2. Mix all ingredients except steak, bell peppers, and onion into a medium bowl.
  3. Measure 1/4 cup of spice mixture*; toss with steak cubes to coat.
  4. Assemble vegetables and steak onto skewers, alternating vegetables with the steak.
  5. Grill or bake in oven (350 degrees) for approximately 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and steak is browned.
  6.  Serve kabobs with the remaining spice mixture on the side.
*Note: Next time I make this recipe I plan to run the 1/4 cup spice mixture through a food processor before mixing it with the steak. This way it becomes more of a paste and adheres to the meat better during the cooking process.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Quinoa Tuna Salad (gluten-free)

Quinoa has become popular to use as a replacement for rice or other grains because it adds a nutty flavor and is packed with protein and whole grains, and it is gluten-free. I have found it to be delicious in soups and to be a hearty side dish with any meat. It is versatile and pairs well with anything. One surprisingly good food combination is with tuna salad. The quinoa adds a crunchy texture to the tuna. I love that this salad calls for olive oil and lemon juice as its dressing instead of mayonnaise, making it a lighter twist on traditional tuna salad. This salad is a quick, satisfying, balanced meal that is refreshing during the spring and summer.

Quinoa Tuna Salad
Adapted from Hyvee Seasons Magazine
Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

  • MX seasoning, (unflavored for Veggies),  to wash spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 dashes black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooled, cooked white quinoa
  • 2  5oz cans of chunk light tuna, drained
  • 2.25oz can sliced black olives
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 2 cups spinach
  • fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
  1. Follow cooking directions for quinoa. 1 cup of dried quinoa makes 2-3 cups. Add rinsed quinoa to 2 cups of water. Generally, you need 2 cups of water per every 1 cup of dried quinoa. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed by the quinoa. Season to taste and allow to cool.
  2. In the meantime prep the spinach in the Marinade Express, using the unflavored seasoning for Veggies. Set the timer on the Marinade Express for 2 minutes; that's all it takes! Using the Marinade Express kills up to 99.5% of bacteria and helps to eliminate pesticides. Remove the spinach from the Marinade Express, use a salad spinner to dry or pat with kitchen towels. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the can of drained tuna, drained olives, drained can of tomatoes,  green onion, and cooled cooked quinoa. Stir together.
  4. The salad can be made a ahead of time. Mix all ingredients except for spinach, cover and refrigerate. Gently stir in the washed, dried spinach just before serving and garnish with parsley.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Dinner- Italian, Vegetarian, & Gluten-Free

When thinking of what to make for Valentine's Day dinner I thought of one of my favorite Italian recipes, Vegetable Parmesan. It's almost like a vegetarian lasagna, without noodles. It consists of layers of vegetables, mozzarella cheese, and pasta sauce. I've made this recipe several times before; each time it has varied slightly. Sometimes I've had fresh mozzarella on the top with shredded mozzarella sprinkled throughout the layers, and another time I added mushrooms to a layer. Although I've played around with a few ingredients, the important ones have stayed the same. Eggplant is the heart of this dish. It adds a meaty, earthy, richness. Zucchini adds a light, tender texture. Of course a good marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan are necessary to complete this dish. This meal is never a let-down, no matter what vegetables I use. It's a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables, and to have a vegetarian night. Play around with this dish. I've thought about replacing the crunchy, sweet fennel with vibrant, crisp bell peppers, or adding ground beef or sausage to the sauce to make it even more filling. No matter which ingredients you choose, it is a heartwarming, romantic meal that is perfect for Valentine's Day!

Even though this dinner is meatless I used my Marinade Express to help me prep the ingredients. The Marinade Express does a fantastic job of removing pesticides and chemicals from vegetables so you can feel good about what you're putting into your body. I placed the eggplant on one side of the dividers, and the zucchini on the other side of the dividers so I got the vegetables washed at the same time, in one cycle. I used the vegetable MX seasoning and let them rotate for 5 minutes. When they're done simply remove the vegetables and pat dry. Talk about a time saver!

I recommend this dish with a glass of good red wine, especially if you're celebrating Valentine's Day! Enjoy!

Vegetable Parmesan:
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

Prep time: 20 Minutes
Cook time: 30-35 Minutes

1 large eggplant, sliced into rounds
1 large fennel bulb, top cut off, root cut into slices
1 large zucchini, sliced into rounds
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into slices
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2   8 oz jars of good marina sauce, flavored to your taste (I like Classico brand. Its fresh ingredients make the difference in taste).
A handful of breadcrumbs (optional). Use brown rice crumbs for gluten-free eating.
3-4 Tablespoon of grape seed oil
Salt and Pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and also heat an electric grill or a saute pan.
2) Begin by slicing the eggplant, brush it with grape seed oil and salt and pepper. Grill or saute the eggplant on both sides until it has cooked thoroughly.
3) Cut off the green part of the fennel and discard. Peel off the first layer of the fennel root. Slice the fennel root lengthwise. Brush on oil and salt and pepper, grill or saute until tender. Repeat the same process for the zucchini.
4) As each vegetable has finished grilling layer it in a deep casserole dish: start with a layer of marinara sauce directly in the pan. Next, layer the grilled eggplant slices, top with a layer of marinara, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. The fennel is the next layer, followed by sauce and cheeses. The final layer is the zucchini, followed by sauce and cheeses.
5) Top the Vegetable Parmesan with a handful of breadcrumbs and drizzle with oil. This helps to create a brown, crunchy crust.
6) Place in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top layer is a golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Homemade Chicken Stock

I am a sucker for good homemade soup; it is very satisfying and comforting. With fall ending and winter approaching I decided to make a large portion of chicken stock to freeze and use for soups as I need it. Previously, I had prepped a whole chicken in the Marinade Express, cooked it, carved the meat off, and kept the carcass in the freezer until I was ready to cook up a storm. Although this recipe takes 3-4 hours of simmering time it is definitely well worth the wait. This chicken stock is by far the best I have ever had. Prepping the chicken in the Marinade Express makes a world of difference in pure, fresh stock.That step removed impurities, allowing terrific taste to be highlighted. You can anticipate how much better this stock is going to taste compared to any prepared without the benefit of the Marinade Express when you do not have to skim as much of the usual "scum" that ordinarily rises to the surface of the pot when simmering the carcass. That's what the Marinade Express is all about--infusing antioxidants in (whether marinade-flavored or unflavored), and flushing impurities, contaminants, and free radicals out. The result is divine taste and healthier eating!   Since this stock is so flavorful I would recommend using it as the base of soup that is simple, like chicken noodle, allowing the taste of the stock to shine through. Save the bland, store-bought chicken stock for tomato-based soups.


1) Carcass from a whole chicken or bones from about 3 pounds of chicken parts.
2) 1/4 cup vinegar
3) 2 teaspoons sea salt
4) 1 onion, unpeeled but well-washed (preferably in the Marinade Express) & quartered (the peel adds color to the stock)
5) 1 carrot, unpeeled but well-washed (preferably in the Marinade Express) & quartered
6) 1-2 ribs of celery with leaves, well-washed (preferably in the Marinade Express) & quartered
7) 1 bay leaf


1) Process the whole chicken (or chicken parts) in the Marinade Express. Use the Express unflavored MX Marinade if you prefer to highlight the natural flavor of chicken, or select one of the 10 flavored MX Marinade blends recommended for chicken at Marinade Express. Spin-tumble for 30  to 45 minutes. Remove from the appliance and cook according to your preferred method. Remove the meat from the carcass and freeze the bones if you will be making the stock later.
2) Rinse the vegetables under running water to remove any surface dirt, then place the onion and carrot on one side of the divider ribs in the Marinade Express, and the celery on the other side. Use the Express unflavored MX Marinade to remove bacteria, pesticide residue and other contaminants. Spin-tumble about 4 minutes, then quarter them.  (Efficiently prep additional vegetables needed for other use in this same batch. Carrots are then more nutritious, as you can avoid peeling them. Pat dry and refrigerate.)
3) Place the (defrosted) carcass and the vegetables in a stock pot with a tight-fitting lid and add enough cold water to just barely cover. Add the vinegar & salt (to extract the calcium and juices from the bones).
4) Bring slowly to a simmer. Simmer gently so bubbles just break on the surface. Skim any remaining impurities that arise as "scum" during the first 1/2 hour, but there should not be much.
5) Cover the pot and simmer gently 3 to 4 hours.
6) Remove from heat and strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. If you can detect any odor of vinegar, return the strained liquid to the pot and boil a few minutes until no vinegar odor remains.
7) Refrigerate the stock overnight and remove any fat that has solidified on top.
8) Use in your favorite recipe, or freeze in portions for use later, adding fresh vegetables and seasonings to taste.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vegan & Gluten-Free Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite dishes during the Thanksgiving feast is stuffing. When I saw this twist on traditional stuffing, substituting nutritious Quinoa for the bread,  I had to try it. Although it doesn't happen often, I find it fun to cook a vegetarian dish once in a while. My body craves high amounts of protein at every meal. Usually my vegetarian dishes have lots of cheese, or eggs. This is probably the first vegan dish that I tried that has been able to satisfy my hunger because this amazing little grain is packed full of protein, vitamins, and fiber. Not to mention, it is gluten free. If you've never tried Quinoa, I highly recommend it: takes only 10 to 15 minutes to make, it is more flavorful and nutritious than rice and it is very versatile and filling!

 For the first time making this recipe I omitted the cranberries because Paul was eating with me and cranberries don't agree with him. After chowing down we both determined that the cranberries would have added a necessary flavor dimension, an extra sweetness to compliment the green apples. Since cranberries weren't an option for us, I cursed myself for not thinking to substitute raisins, which also would have been perfect. Another variation I thought would be delicious if you don't want to go the vegan route is to add some ground turkey or lean ground sausage. The fun part about this dish is that it is a creative, healthy spin on a traditional American comfort food, which leaves room for experiment and personalization. I will definitely be visiting this deliciously, satisfying recipe again!

Vegan & Gluten-Free Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers Adapted from Hyvee Seasons Magazine:

Ingredients: Serves 6 (1 bell pepper each)
1 cup low-sodium, gluten free vegetable stock
1 cup fresh apple cider
1 teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups diced celery
1 onion, diced
2 granny smith apples, cored and finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage (or 2 tsp.crumbled dried leaves)
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp.dried)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
6 medium green bell peppers, tops cut off and hollowed

 1) Prep the bell peppers in the Marinade Express, using the unflavored MX Marinade for 5 minutes. This removes bacteria, dirt, and pesticides from veggies and fruits. Drain the peppers inverted..
 2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock, apple cider, and fennel seeds to a boil. Add quinoa, cover and allow to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
 3) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent, about 10 minutes. Add celery, apples, salt and pepper for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are slightly tender.
4) Combine quinoa and sauteed vegetables and fruit. Stir in cranberries (or raisins), thyme, sage and pecans. Spoon stuffing into bell peppers then stand upright in a baking dish.
5) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until peppers are tender and stuffing is heated through. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Brazilian Chicken Soup

With the leaves changing to vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows there also comes a chilly threat of winter. The crisp autumn air reminds me that it is officially soup season! I love the way a bowl of hot soup warms you from the inside out. It comforts the soul. I truly believe a hearty, delicious bowl of soup and a steaming cup of tea help us who live in the Midwest survive our bitterly cold weather-- at least they make a big difference for me. Expect many more comforting soup and stew recipes to come.

I found this Brazilian Chicken soup recipe in my trusty Soup's On cookbook. It appealed to me because you cook a half of a chicken in water which creates its own broth. Then you pull the moist chicken meat off and put it directly into the soup. Because the Marinade Express process removes impurities from the chicken, the broth will not require skimming to remove the impurities that usually form as a scum in soup broth. The broth is subtly flavored; I added some extra spices to bump up the flavor complex. The carrots are a great way to make this soup a meal in one.


Brazilian Chicken Soup Adapted from Soup's On cookbook (6 servings):


Half of a 3 to 4 pound chicken
Santa Fe MX Seasoning mix
4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1 sprig fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1. Process the whole chicken in the Marinade Express for 15 minutes with the Santa Fe Salsa Mx Seasoning.
2. Reserve 1/2 of the chicken for another use and place the other 1/2 into a large stock pot with the bay leaves, tomatoes, onion, celery, and parsley. Add 2 quarts (8 cups) water, cover with lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the broth is flavorful, about 1 hour. Remove the soup form the heat.
3. Remove the chicken from the stock and let it cool. When it is cool enough to handle, use a fork to pull the meat from the bones. Set the meat aside and discard the skin. I put the bones in a freezer bag to save for another soup later.
4. Put the stock and vegetables through a food mill (or use an immersion blender) to create a thick chicken stock.
5. Return the stock to the pot, add the carrots, rice, salt & pepper, cumin, curry, and smoked paprika and 2 cups water to the pot. Cook on medium heat, reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, until rice is tender. Add the chicken in for the last 10 minutes to heat. Serve hot and enjoy.