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.