Tina Made Blackberry Vinaigrette

I f-ing love salad. Not because it’s healthy or good for me or because I’m supposed to, but I genuinely think it’s delicious. EXCEPT when the dressing sucks. So maybe I don’t really love salad, I love salad dressing. Shrug.

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I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time getting proportions right when I’m making dressing. It’s always too oily or too tangy or too something. I keep adding the “missing” ingredient until I end up with 2 cups of mediocrity. -_- So. Here’s a foolproof vinaigrette dressing recipe (that I should follow more often). I used blackberry balsamic from Beyond the Olive, which pretty much guaranteed it would be delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup blackberry balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove chopped garlic

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Enjoy, herbivores.

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Tina Made Baked White Fish with Veggies

I love white fish. I also love fast recipes. And delicious food. So when one of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, recently posted a fish recipe described as a “super quick and delicious meal,” I jumped on it.

Their tutorial (linked above) was pretty self-explanatory, but I documented the steps anyway, with just a few changes (addition/omission of a couple ingredients). Also, I added an ingredients list (with exact amounts, because remember… I’m neurotic/a step-by-step cook… and maybe you are too).

This meal is perfect to make even if you’re only cooking for one! Which is usually annoying, but it totally works for this dish because it’s so simple. I’ve already made it twice!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 white fish fillet (I used tilapia once and swai once– both good)
  • 1/2 bundle of asparagus (about half pound)
  • 1 zucchini (added to original recipe)
  • 1 small lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter (halved from original recipe)
  • salt & pepper
  • rectangular piece of parchment paper (1.5 feet is plenty)
  • omitted from original recipe: fresh dill

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Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice zucchini into rounds and chop off ends of asparagus.

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Slice ~3/4 of lemon into thin slices. Fold parchment paper in half, and lay out zucchini and asparagus on one side of  parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. Lay lemon slices on top. Squeeze juice of remaining 1/4 lemon onto veggies.

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Using a knife, chop up garlic cloves and mash together with butter. Season fish fillet with salt and pepper, then lay on top of lemon slices. Spread butter-garlic mash over top of the fish.

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Fold the second half of the parchment paper over the fish & veggies, and fold closed (a bit trickier than it looks..!). Bake for 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. Everything will steam inside the parchment.

Voila! All done. I cannot emphasize how fast and easy this is. It’s literally ~10 minutes to prep, and while it cooks for ~10 minutes in the oven, you can clean up your kitchen, so when you’re finished eating, there will be minimal dishes to do. EXCITING.

Enjoy!

Tina Made a Harvest Grains Salad

I rarely cook dishes without a recipe. Allrecipes.com is my best friend in the kitchen. SO when I do cook on the fly (and the dish turns out edible… or even delicious), I feel really proud of myself. Like really. It’s a rare occasion to be celebrated.

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My sister recently gave me a bag of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend (contains Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa) and told me that it tastes good as a cold salad mixed with veggies and Greek dressing. Okay, fine, that’s pretty much a recipe. So sue me.

Anyway, if you’re neurotic like me (or you’re just a bad cook who needs maximum direction), then here’s exactly what I did–

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend (1 1/4 c. uncooked)
  • 1.5 Persian cucumbers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • ~20 grape tomatoes, quartered (or equivalent amount of regular tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1/2 can olives (~2 oz.)

Dressing

  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

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Cook 1/2 package of grains per package instructions. You can cook the grains in either water or chicken broth; I used mostly (low-sodium) chicken broth with a splash of water. You also need a tablespoon of butter!

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Set aside your cooked grain medley to cool. Meanwhile, chop your olives…

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Seed and chop your cucumbers… Chop your red onion (just 1/4)…

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Quarter your tomatoes… then put all 4 ingredients aside (in the fridge, if you prefer).

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Combine evoo, lemon juice (I cheated… use fresh lemon juice if possible!!), minced garlic, salt, and pepper and mix vigorously. Proportions can be fiddled with per taste preference (I tend to like things extra citrusy). Note: In the picture on the left, there are two cloves of garlic. I highly advise you use just one. I LOVE garlic but two was a little too much, even for me.

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Once your grains have sufficiently cooled, mix in the olives, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes and refrigerate for a bit. If you’re going to serve immediately, slowly mix in the dressing, being careful not to over-dress (add & taste, add & taste). If not, then I’d recommend dressing right before serving to prevent over-saturation.

Yum! Super easy, healthy, and fresh. Perfect for a summer side dish. Serves 5.

PS- There are obviously different ingredients I could have added (e.g. fresh mint, parsley, cilantro, carrots, etc.) with different dressings, but I’m very satisfied with how this combination tasted. 🙂

Tina Made Seven Layer Dip

I always stress out a little bit before potlucks. “What if nobody likes my food? What if someone gets sick? Wah wah wah.” With this recipe though, I know I’m pretty safe. Because there’s little room for failure. And who doesn’t love a good seven-layer dip?! There’s tons of variations of this recipe online, but this one (adapted from multiple recipes) is tried and true.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can refried beans (8 oz.)
  • 1 can Fritos bean dip (9 oz.)
  • 1 c. guacamole
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 1 c. shredded Jack and cheddar cheese
  • 1 can sliced black olives
  • 1 container pico de gallo/salsa (I used La Mexicana medium salsa, 16 oz.)
  • 2 bunches chopped green onion

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Mix refried beans and Fritos bean dip; spread in bottom of small baking dish (8″x8″). Next, spread guacamole. If you’re ambitious, make your own guacamole. I was not.

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Mix sour cream and taco seasoning; spread. Spread layer of pico de gallo/salsa. *Note: I used a wire mesh sieve to squeeze out the liquid of the salsa first!

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Sprinkle cheese, then olives, then green onions, in that order.

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Tempted to eat the whole dish myself. Yum.

Enjoy!

Tina Made Rosemary Chicken

By no stretch of the imagination am I “good” at cooking, but I realize that it’s a very necessary life skill (sigh). With that said… Holy smokes. This is the best recipe I’ve tried in a long time. I’ve been on a let’s-eat-more-fish-and-less-chicken-and-beef kick, but this dish has ruined me because it’s been officially added to my rotation of favorites. Here it is from Food Network, rated 5 stars and all, with a few ingredient modifications in italics below.

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large [increased to 1 lb.]
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed [increased to 3 cloves]
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes [what’s considered a pinch?! I used a dime-sized amount.]
  • Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed quarters reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each) [used 1.5 lbs. chicken thighs– also can use drumsticks]
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved [increased to 1lb., threw away the stems, and quartered]

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Preheat the oven to 450. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

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Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife.

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Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

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Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. While chicken cooks, wash and quarter cremini mushrooms. NOTE: I don’t have a cast-iron skillet so I used a regular large fry pan.

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Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon. Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon quarters to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. If you’re using a regular pan like I did, transfer everything to an oven-safe dish before putting in the oven; I used a 9″x13″ Pyrex baking dish.

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An additional change I would make for next time would be to use skin-on chicken thighs/breasts or drumsticks like the original recipe recommends. Mine was skinless, and therefore lost all crispiness. Delicious regardless. 🙂 Yields 4 servings.