Fajita Salad

It is one of those nights where I just can’t get my act together to make something “fancy” for dinner.  It’s funny that this type of night is exactly when I end up turning a boring dinner into an awesome one!  I’m in the mood for salad, but also for something spicy… so Fajita Salads it is.  You can use any type of meat (or no meat) for these bad boys… but since my Mom had just bought some fresh ground turkey breast that’s what we decided to do.

 

DIY Fajita Salad

Ingredients:

1 Onion, sliced

6 small Sweet Peppers (or 2 bell peppers)

1 Tablespoon Garlic

1 Jalepeno

1 cup frozen Corn

1 packet Fajita Seasoning

1 lb Ground Turkey Breast

1 Can Rotel (diced tomatoes w/ chilies)

1/2 packet Taco Seasoning

Lettuce

Optional Garnish:  Salsa, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Cilantro, Hot Sauce

Directions:

Slice all of the veggies and put into a heated and oiled pan.  Simmer on low.  Heat the ground turkey and chop into small pieces in another pan.  Add the fajita seasoning to the veggies and 1/2 of a packet of taco seasoning onto the ground turkey.  Also add 1/2 – 1 Can of Rotel to the turkey.  Continue to cook over medium heat until the turkey is cooked all the way through.

Serve the veggies and the turkey over chopped lettuce.

 

Like most of my recipes, you can really do whatever you want with this!  As you can see, even Dave and I had completely different salads.

My salad...

 

...Dave's Salad

We used Cilantro, chopped Grape Tomatoes, a bit of Reduced Fat shredded Cheese, Green Tabasco Sauce, a drizzle of Light Ranch dressing, and I threw in a few spicy peanuts we had in the house.  You really only need a DRIZZLE of dressing, if that.  The turkey and veggies provide enough sauce to make up for dressing.  What a great dinner, out of nothing.  I love it!

How to Put Together a Fabulous Salad

I’m not gonna lie to you.  I would give up a salad for a burger any day.  However, there are times when a nice, big, hearty salad is my absolute favorite meal.  Making a good dinner salad could be as simple as throwing some veggies on lettuce.  In our house, salad night is often more complicated than normal dinners, involving homemade dressing, cooking up some bacon, and slicing and dicing several veggies and cheeses.  I need to find a happy medium!

Cooking Light has put together a list of 7 Helpful Tips to help you put together a great salad that is worthy of serving to your guests… or even being your own favorite recipe!

1.  Start with 2 cups of SHREDDED LETTUCE.  My favorite lettuce to use for my own salads is the Baby Lettuce Mix or Butter Lettuce Mix from Trader Joe’s.  I love the texture of the soft lettuce leaves and the amount of essential nutrients found in these types of lettuce is ridiculous!  Arrange leaves or shredded lettuce on the plate.

2.  Add 3 oz of PROTEIN per plate.  You can do grilled BBQ, Asian, or Cajun chicken, chilled shrimp, marinated salmon, or really anything for this!  Dave’s favorite salad ever includes just a simple scoop of Tuna Salad mixed with hot sauce.  It sounded weird to me at first, but it works really well!  Place the protein on top of the salad greens.

3.  Add 1 cup of VEGGIES and/or FRUIT per person.  As much as I claim to like “everything” in the world of food… something I do not like is salad veggies.  I prefer my veggies cooked, and raw veggies in a salad usually doesn’t do it for me.  The only two salad veggies I can really stand are thinly sliced Cucumber and Carrots.  After 25 years of HATING tomatoes, I finally eat those, so a nice handful of Grape Tomatoes usually makes my cut… but then again that’s a fruit.  I love using fresh Blueberries or Strawberries.  Use a variety of Fruit & Veggies and sprinkle on top of the protein around the greens.

4.  Give it some CrUnCh (2 Tablespoons)!!  Croutons are so last year.  Unless of course they’re homemade, but that’s another story.  I LOVE to crunchify my salad with toasted nuts.  You can buy silvered almonds, candied or spiced pecans at Trader Joe’s or really at any grocery store.  A Mexican themed salad could use tortilla strips while an Asian themed salad could use chow mein noodles.  Dot your crunch all around the plate.

5.  Get Cheesey (1 oz).  With the exception of my “no cheese January”, I almost always have just a sprinkle of  cheese on my salads.  I have mentioned before, that I LOVE blue cheese.  If you’re making a salad with fruit or some kind of sweet dressing, the tang of blue cheese will go perfectly.  Try goat cheese too!  Sprinkle the cheese over the plates.

 

6.  Drizzle the dressing (2-3 Tablespoons).  As for bottled dressing, always read the labels.  Besides most of them being fattening, most of them are very high in sodium.  My favorite bottled dressing is Ken’s Light Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy.  It is low in fat but not sodium.  Recently, I have been using just a spray of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.  You can even find flavored vinegar to make things interesting.  Evenly drizzle the dressing over each salad.

7.  Add the Seasoning.  A step I normally forget when I’m at home but NEVER forget at a restaurant with fresh ground black pepper served by the waiter.  MMM!  I will have to remember this part when making my own salads from now on.

For now, here is a recipe for a random salad night at my house.  I called it the “mish-mosh” Salad.

Mish-Mosh Salad & Maple-Teriyaki Salmon

Whew!  I am exhausted from our trip to LA.  Dave and I had such an amazing time exploring a new city and spending time with our family and friends.  We got to do so many fun things and of course eat so much good food.   I was so pooped after having to work the day after the flight home, that I decided to make a quick dinner for Dave and I.  My sister Mellie is home from college this month so she decided to join in on the fun too!

I actually had a Groupon deal for $20 to Whole Foods that was expiring soon, so I bought 1.5 pounds of fresh salmon to start with.  When I got home, I turned the oven on preheat to 350 and put the beautifully cut salmon into a sprayed pyrex dish with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  I put the salmon in the oven and got working on my sauce!

the Salmon is ready to go in the oven!

First, I heated about 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce in a saucepan.  I then added ½ teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of orange juice, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.  A drop or two of hot chili sesame oil somehow made its way into the pot too!  I let the sauce warm on low and stirred it when it started to bubble.

Meanwhile, I had a lot of veggies to chop for our salads.  I was craving salad my entire trip because I couldn’t wait to use our new vinegar.  I had too many great ingredients for the salad to make any sense, so I just chopped and added everything and put it all on a bed of spring mix.

Once the chopping was under way, I added between 1.5-2 tablespoons of maple syrup to the heating sauce (all I had was light maple syrup… it tasted really good anyway!).  I stirred it some more and let it bubble again.  I took the salmon out, poured the hot sauce ontop, and put the fish back into the oven.  While I was chopping and putting the salads together, I took the salmon out two times or so to check on it.  When I did that, I used a spoon to take the sauce from the pyrex and drench the salmon in it.

The timing of my salad being done and the salmon worked out perfectly.  I don’t know exactly how long the salmon took to cook, but you should know it’s done when you start seeing white on the sides… or you can read more about it here!  The salad was random but it didn’t matter.  The Strawberry Balsamic from A Taste of Olive made the whole thing come together great.

This was a healthy and simple dinner that didn’t sacrifice taste for time… and the best part is Dave and Mellie cleaned up the kitchen for me!

Maple-Teriyaki Salmon

Maple-Teriyaki Salmon

Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes

2 tablespoons Teriyaki Sauce

½ teaspoon Minced Garlic

1 tablespoon Orange Juice

1 tablespoon Soy Sauce

2 drops Hot Chili Sesame Oil

1.5-2 tablespoons Maple Syrup

Mish-Mosh Salad

Mish Mosh Salad

Spring Mix, Carrots, Celery, Manzanilla Olives, Tri-Colored Cherry Tomatoes (from Whole Foods, what a find!), Cucumber, Jalapeño, Yellow Sweet Peppers, a touch of chopped Roquefort, blueberries, and a few Fat-Free Croutons!

The Tomato Bistro

Who doesn’t love a great deal?  I do!  I recently purchased a Groupon for The Tomato Bistro in Manayunk.  The Tomato Bistro is the newly renovated “upstairs” at the Couch Tomato.  The deal was $25 for a FOUR course meal for TWO!

I felt like this would be a perfect time to mention- until about five months ago, I have hated, and I mean HATED tomatoes my entire life!  It’s actually just raw tomatoes that get me.  The seeds, the goo in the middle… it’s disgusting!  Everything ordered in a restaurant, sandwiches, salads… I always had to request “absolutely no tomatoes please”.  When the kitchen would forget (this happened often, since who doesn’t love a good tomato??) someone else at the table would have to pick them off for me, since I couldn’t bear to touch them.

Thankfully, I recently forced myself to try a cherry tomato on a big bite of salad with a friend of mine in Philly.  I could hardly taste it but decided then and there that I was over my fear of tomatoes, and have been eating them ever since!  It took some getting used to but I do enjoy them now, and even choose to include them in my sandwiches and omelets!

The Tomato Bistro 3rd Floor

Now, back to the Tomato Bistro!  One of my close friends, Allie (who is my inspiration for starting my blog) was the perfect date for the four-course evening.  When we arrived at the restaurant, we decided to sit on the third floor.  The atmosphere was bright and happy but cozy, perfect for our date.  Along with our wine, the waitress delivered us a small cup of their Tomato (duh) Bisque and a few cheese croutons.  It was an unexpected nice touch and it was so yummy!

Sample of Tomato Bisque

For our first course, we were able to pick any three items from their small plates menu.  Allie and I decided on trying the Crab Crepe, the Cornflake Chicken, and Popcorn Mac & Cheese.  Everything was so good we couldn’t decide what we liked better.  Allie also convinced me to try grilled artichokes- one of the only things i don’t like to eat these days.  Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised and wished there was more of it!

Our Three Tapas

Crab Crepe:  Leeks, Carrots, Jumbo Crab, Dijon Cream

Crab Crepe

Cornflake Cicken:  Artichockes, Prosciutto, Cornflakes, Caramelized Onion, Ricotta, Arugula

Cornflake Chicken

The Popcorn Mac & Cheese is actually not listed on their online menu!  Weird!

Popcorn Mac

Crispy Artichokes:  Baby Long-Stem Marinated Artichokes, Olive Tapenade, Lemon Aioli … we ate this one too fast to snap a picture!  DUH!

Next, we got to pick a salad and a pizza.  The decision was so hard, but we finally decided on the Prosciutto Di Parma Salad & the Mushroom Pizza.  Neither of our boyfriends eat mushrooms, so we jumped on the opportunity to be able to order them.

Prosciutto Di Parma Salad:  Arugula, Red Onion, Olives, Piave Cheese, Prosciutto, Grapes, Lemon, Olive Oil

Prosciutto Di Parma Salad

Mushroom Pizza:  Garlic Oil, Assorted Mushrooms, Goat Cheese

Mushroom Pizza

I didn’t love the salad, but the pizza was to die for!  The thin crust was perfectly crusty without being burnt, and the goat cheese tasted amazing with the mushrooms.

We also got to choose a dessert, but we had already talked ourselves into (or I talked Allie into) making a stop at Whirled Peace, the DIY Frozen Yogurt place down a block or two.  We did try Tomato Bistro’s Lavender Scented Crème Brûlée.  It was a perfectly tiny little dessert for a bite or two, but the garnish was pretty strange, don’t you think?

Creme Brulee

Overall, the Couch Tomato’s new sister restaurant “upstairs” Tomato Bistro was delish.  Maybe it was the creative tapas, maybe it was the crispy crust pizza, or maybe it even is the FREE vallet service (so clutch in Manayunk, for this non-paralell parker!) …  but I think it’s my new found respect for the TOMATO!

By the way, you can find my awesome date Allie’s food blog here!  She started it over a year ago, and has some amazing suggestions and recipes.  ENJOY!