Thursday, August 25, 2016

Simplicity - Grilled, Marinated Calamari Salad

Every season there is at least one dish I make for the first time then repeat over and over again. What can I say? I'm a creature of habit. Once I find something I like, I see no problem with enjoying it multiple times, often in quick succession. My high school and college friends can attest; I ate the same lunch almost every day for a year at a time. This doesn't mean I don't like variety, and that's what's so beautiful about all the fresh Summer Salads you see here today.

Lemon Marinated then Grilled Calamari, Greenleaf and Florida Lettuce, Thin Sliced Radishes, Nectarines, Cucumbers, Grilled Corn,  Vidalia Onion with a Lemon Vinaigrette. Photo: NK 

Marinated & Grilled Flank Steak Over Peaches, Radishes, Greenleaf And Florida Lettuce, Shaved Zucchini,
Fresh Sliced and Fried Shallots and a Parsley Garnish Photo: NK

While the Grilled Calamari Salad Recipe we will share below was the clear winner, we enjoyed several other protein variations (with Shrimp and even Marinated Flank Steak) throughout the course of this summer season. Turns out that almost any well cooked (ideally a little charred) grilled item tastes amazing over fresh, seasonal and, best of all ,colorful summer produce. 

So I know you're with me in declaring 2016 "The Summer of Salad." 

You see, I love vegetables. I love them as much or more than meat and fish, but that doesn't mean I want to have to choose. Creating easy yet elegant lunches and dinners using salad as a base is a great way to lighten up summer fare and highlight the best produce the season has to offer. Plus, if you're into the low carb thing, (no pasta?) this sure does the trick!

Below you'll find plenty of ingredient inspiration for a few of our favorite summer lunch salads plus the recipe for the Simply Grilled, Marinated Calamari that starred in so many fantastic meals. 

Note: All of the salads you see bleow are lightly dressed with a simple Lemon (or Orange) Vinaigrette (below). For the Orange variation just sub out all Lemon ingredients with Orange Juice and Zest in Equal Measure and add a drop or two of Vinegar to taste. 

Simple Lemon Vinaigrette

Recipe By Epicurious

Grilled Calamari (Marinated in Orange & OIive Oil), Oranges, Redleaf and
Greenleaf Lettuce,  Purple Cherokee Heirloom Tomatoes, 

Radicchio, Black Olives, Radishes, Photo: NK 

Prepping the Marinated Flank Steak Salad - Sliced Peaches, Thin Sliced Radishes,
Raw Zucchini Shaved on a Vegetable Peeler
Photo: NK 

Simply Marinated & Grilled Calamari
Serves 2-3 atop a salad of your choice 

1 Pound Cleaned Squid (Calamari), tubes and tentacles
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 Lemon 
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
Salt & Pepper to Taste 

Preheat a grill or grill pan until very hot. If using an outdoor grill place a grill pan on it to preheat (Squid will fall through the grates otherwise) 
Place Squid in a Ziploc Bag or airtight container. Add marinade ingredients and let sit in the fridge 30 minutes to a half hour.

Place Squid on a hot grill pan and cook until golden in parts, a few minutes per side. Squid will be opaque, firm but not rubbery. Serve over Vinaigrette Dressed salad, plus a little Salt to taste, and enjoy! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Health Break! - Chocolate Coco-Nut Chia Bites

I eat pretty well at home and really terribly at work. Why? I have zero impulse control. When sweet treats are presented to me, as they seem to be nearly every day at the office, I have an absolutely pitiful chance of resisting. At home, the solution is simply not to buy them, but in my office, well, that's where I really get in trouble. Between so many coworker celebrations and the reality that our office kitchen has become the de facto dumping ground for everyone's no-no foods (leftover cake from a weekend birthday, surplus goods from an at home baking binge, candy that you just want to get out of your house), it's a wonder I ever get out of there without a forbidden food in my hand. Happily though, I have found that I can make it a safer and less tempting place if I only come prepared.  

Chocolate Coco-Nut Chia Bites, Photo: NK 

Having a healthy and satisfying sweet on hand for that post-lunch sugar craving helps me from feeling deprived. And making something no-bake that's super fast is a huge help in all of our busy lifestyles. It's in this spirit of disciplined snacking that I set out to jump on the Energy Bite bandwagon. 

These tempting, chocolatey little energy Bites serve two purposes - they're  naturally satisfying your sweet tooth while also giving you a little boost. They're also Vegan, have no added sugar and are fairly nutritious thanks to Nuts, Chia and Coconut Flake and Coconut Oil. Best of all, you can make them in under ten minutes using a food processor. They can be stored up to two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge. 


Chocolate Coco-Nut Chia Energy Balls 
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Makes about 22 1-inch Energy Bites

2 Cups of Pitted Medjool Dates (Medjools are nice and soft) loosely packed, about 12 Dates
1 Tablespoon Ground Chia Seed (you could sub in ground Flax Seed as well) 
2 teaspoons Coconut Oil 
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flake (we prefer Bob's Red Mill)  
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Hershey's works fine)
1/4 Cup Hazelnuts, Almonds, Pecans or similar -- I prefer Hazelnuts or Almonds 
1 teaspoon high quality Vanilla Extract 
1 Tablespoon Water 

Place all ingredients in a Food Processor and process until relatively smooth except for some bits of nuts. The mixture will naturally clump and you may have to carefully scrape down the sides. (Optional Mix-In: you could also bulk this up by adding a tablespoon or two of Rolled Oats moistened with a little Almond Milk or Water)

To form, place a piece of wax or parchment paper on a surface and using a small spoon, scoop out the batter and form into 1-inch balls by rolling in your palm. Place each ball on the paper. Optionally sprinkle with additional Coconut Flake. When done (you should have 20-22), remove to an airtight container and chill in the fridge until ready to eat! 

Bites will stay up to 2 weeks refrigerated in a sealed container! 

Nutrition: Per Bite - 63 Calories, 11g Carbs, 2.5g Fat, 1g Protein, 8.5g Sugar

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer & Spice - Grilled Buffalo Calamari

You don't have to eat poultry to enjoy Buffalo flavor. Turns out, Buffalo ANYTHING is pretty darn delicious - even humble Cauliflower becomes the life of the party when paired with America's favorite spicy sauce. 

In today's post, we give Calamari a really fun twist. Buffalo Calamari is a light seafood appetizer that is fun, super shareable and easy to execute in just ten minutes of active time. While I prefer to marinate the squid for about an hour in a bit in Oil, Lemon, Salt and Pepper, it's still good even if you don't have time for that. 

Grilling Calamari outdoors on a grill pan will prevent the tubes from slipping through the cracks. Alternately, you can boil Calamari on the stove just a few minutes until it is fully opaque and firm but not rubbery. Toss it in the sauce and you have a winning starter that guests will love. Enjoy and let's get to it. 

Grilled Buffalo Calamari, Photo: NK
Grilled Buffalo Calamari
Serves 3-4 as a light Appetizer

1.25 Pounds Cleaned Calamari, Tubes and Tentacles
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
2.5 Tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce 
Scallions and Cilantro or Celery/Celery Leaves for garnish

About an hour before you'd like to grill, add the cleaned Calamari to a large Ziploc Bag with the Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, and a few light shakes of Salt and Pepper. Allow to sit in the fridge for an hour. 

Preheat your grill until very hot with a thin Grill Pan suited for seafood on top of it. Grill Calamari about 3-4 minutes per side until golden in parts and opaque, but not rubbery. Remove Calamari to a cutting board to cool a bit. Once cooled, slice into 1/2 inch rings and leave small tentacles intact. Place in a mixing bowl. 

In a small saucepan, mix the Hot Sauce, 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter and 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce. When the butter melts, mix into the Calamari and toss. Serve warm with your desired garnishes and enjoy!