Tuna in a Tomato (Gluten Free!)

I saw this recipe in Real Simple: Meals Made Easy and it seemed like a super easy and summery lunch. It also took about a grand total of 5 minutes to make, which is also a plus.

While the tomatoes were tasty, there was still something lacking. I think next time around, I might leave out the parsley and add a lot more lemon juice. Despite the lemon juice and all the capers and kalamatas I added the salad it was missing a bit of tanginess.

Tuna in a Tomato (makes 6 servings) inspired by Real Simple: Meals Made Easy p. 93

  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 3 6-oz. cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon high quality mayonnaise (I like Hollywood Safflower Mayonnaise)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
With a paring knife, cut out and discard the stem of each tomato. Using a spoon, hallow out the tomatoes, leaving each with a 1/4-inch shell, and transfer the pulp to a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the tomato pulp and toss gently. Spoon the mixture back into the tomatoes and serve.

Spicy Shrimp Nachos with Restaurant Style Salsa

So, today is the first day of Fiesta here in Santa Barbara. It’s officially called Old Spanish Days, but long story short it’s five days of mariachis, parades, rodeos, cerveza, dancing and confetti. It’s generally a good time. The last couple years I’ve been out of the country for fiesta and I always got a little sad hearing about friends going to celebrate. Well this year my unintended, extended Santa Barbara sojourn means I get to celebrate Fiesta whether I want to or not…

In honor of Fiesta, I will be sharing some of my favorite go to Mexican recipes. Expect lots of tequila and hot sauce.

When you think about it, Americanized Mexican food is basically all the same ingredients just served in a different form. This recipe could just as easily be served in a burrito, as tacos, tostadas, a salad, whatever floats your boat, but I think homemade nachos are always a good way to go (as long as you don’t burn down your apartment in the process, right Amanda? 😉 ). Nachos are great to make for a crowd or make a tasty meal for one or two.

Spicy Shrimp Nachos

  • Corn tortilla chips
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • frozen corn
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, fresh or frozen, defrosted, shelled, tailed
  • Taco seasoning
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Black olives, chopped
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Red onion, diced
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa (recipe is below)
  1. Heat oven to 450. Place tortilla chips on an oven proof plate. Sprinkle with some cheese if you want. Rinse can of beans. Fill empty bean can with frozen corn, rinse under water and allow to thaw out a bit.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When heated, add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Season with as much garlic powder, taco seasoning, paprika and chili powder as desired. Add in corn and beans. Cook until everything is heated through. Removed from skillet and add to prepared tortilla chips. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Place in heated oven for 3-6 minutes until cheese is melted.
  3. In the same skillet add prepared shrimp. Season with more garlic powder, taco seasoning, paprika and chili powder if desired. Cook 3-4 minutes each side until shrimp is cooked through. When cooked, remove from skillet and chop into small pieces.
  4. Sprinkle shrimp and other toppings like olives, green onions over the tortilla chips. Top with sour cream, guac, salsa and your favorite hot sauce.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
Restaurant Style Salsa (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
I am absolutely OBSESSED with this salsa. I’ve taken to making a batch of it every weekend and having it on hand to use through out the week. Everyone who has been lucky enough to have some, has absolutely loved it. I have also used both fresh jalapenos as well as canned diced chilis and both have worked. Also, final note, made sure you use a BIG food processor, there is a lot of liquid going on here.
  • 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (peeled) with juice
  • 2 10-ounce cans Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalepeño, quartered and sliced thin
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • Juice from a fresh lime
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until you reach desired consistency (I do it about 10 or 11 times). Pour into bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday Summary! July 24, 2011

This week involved a lot cleaning and and preparing and cooking for a lot of people I didn’t know. It was weird. Then my one of my favorite singers died. Poor Amy. It was sad. But mainly this week involved a whole lot of this…

except that it's real...

If you have never met me in real life, I should probably take the time to point out that I am the most accident/injury/illness prone person you will ever encounter. I can currently count at least 7 injuries of varying degrees, along with one unknown mystery ailment, which is the bane of my existence at the moment. It’s taken years to perfect this extraordinary skill set of awkward and clumsy, but I really do make the most of it. Plus, all of my ailments and how I acquired them tend to make for fairly amusing stories.

Things I Made:

Things I Want to Make:

Things to Check out:

Grilled Shrimp with Chive Polenta Cakes

When I first saw this recipe I thought “Shrimp. Polenta. Chives. Sold.” Three things that I like all together in one meal, it definitely had to be made.

The other thing I really liked about this recipe that it’s one that can be prepared ahead of time and cooked as you are just about to serve it in under 10 minutes. I also think it looks much ‘fancier’ than the preparation involved. I’m sure it would impress just about any dinner guest.

I also took some liberties with the shrimp. I don’t think they really mind, they probably enjoyed it. The original called for basil, which I am so totally not a fan of. Basil = grosssssss. I am, however, a firm believer that it is not a real meal unless there are mass quantities of  garlic and paprika involved (you can take the girl out of Hungary…).  

Grilled Shrimp with Chive Polenta Cakes (adapted from this recipe)

Chive Polenta Cakes:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pyrex dish
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • small bunch of chives
Grilled Shrimp
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 tbsp. oregano, dried or fresh
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Butter a Pyrex dish (the original recipe calls for an 8×8, I used something that was more like a 6×10, worked just as well). In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk, cornmeal, and butter, and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, over medium high heat. When mixture begins to simmer, add salt, chives and goat cheese , and keep stirring until thick, about 15 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and allow to cool and thicken until thick enough to slice, about 3 hours.

Place shrimp, olive oil, paprika, garlic, onion, some big pinches of salt and pepper, and oregano in a large bowl and toss to combine; place in the fridge until polenta has set.

When polenta has set, you can either cut the polenta into slices in the pyrex or un-mold the polenta onto a cutting board and cut it there. Preheat grill or grill pan to high heat.

Gently grill polenta slices until grill marks form, and polenta is heated though, about 8 minutes. Remove from grill and reserve. Grill shrimp until pink and beginning to char, about 3 minutes per side.

The most exciting part of the whole meal was the accompanying side salad! What’s so exciting about lettuce you ask? Well, this was the first harvest from out our garden! I maintain that our homegrown, organic, pesticide-free, raised with tender love and care lettuce tasted much better than what we get at the store, but Mama CC says there was no difference… I like my story better.

I served the lettuce with a little mustardy vinaigrette which is super simple to make a goes with just about any salad.

Mustardy Vinaigrette

  • 1 big spoonful of dijon mustard (I normally use grainy, but we were out)
  • 1 big glug of olive oil
  • 1 medium glug of white wine vinegar
  • Garlic, fresh, minced or I like to use Garlic Gold Nuggets
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper

Sunday Summary June 26, 2011

Well things hit a slight bump in the road this week, hence why post have been scarce over the last few days. I’ve been dealing with this hot mess…

Did you know dogs can get pink eye? Well, they can and they do. Izzy will be donning the ‘Cone of Shame’ for the next two weeks. Geeze, get it together girlfriend.

Things I Made This Week:

Things I Want to Make:
Things to Know:
  • MTV is not replacing Jersey Shore cast. Thank goodness. I was losing sleep over this.
  • I am still losing sleep over Hugo. I really don’t want to have to re-order My Favorite Crazy Dictator list.
  • Bananas make me want to vom, but apparently some people like them. Here are some ways to use them up.

A Father’s Day Feast! Side Dish Edition: Broccoli Salad & Potato Salad

For our main Father’s Day meal, I ventured out and grilled up two things I had never attempted before, Cedar Plank Salmon and Tri-Tip! Despite a minor setback and the loss of a cedar plank, both of them turned out to be absolutely delicious. I also made some side dishes to go with our meal. My all-time favorite broccoli salad and my mom made an awesome eggless potato salad (I’m allergic to eggs, which is fine by me, because eggs are a bit gross in my book).



This broccoli salad is absolutely amazing. I LOVE it. I first had this salad several years ago when I was back visiting family of some kind in Ireland. One of my aunts always takes me to lunch at Avoca, which is kind of like the Irish version of Anthropologie, but more expensive and with a garden center and a grocery section and cafes, but it’s basically the same (same, same, but different, if ya know what I mean…). It’s really hard to say what makes Avoca so great. I’m a little more than casually obsessed and if I could get away with living in one of their stores or if I could afford to just buy everything in their store, I would be a very happy camper. The one of the few things I was able to afford buy, and to this day remains one of my best purchases to date (yes, I keep track in a very elaborate and detailed spreadsheet) is the Avoca cook books.

Broccoli, Feta, Hazelnut & Cherry Tomato Salad

  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 lb. broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • French Dressing – recipe below

Toast the hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, while still warm rub off skins.   Allow to cool, then put the hazelnuts in a bowl with the broccoli, cheese and tomatoes.  Gently toss with the dressing and season with pepper.  Salt may not be required, since the feta is usually quite salty.

French Dressing

  • ½ pint sunflower oil
  • ½ pint olive oil
  • ½ pint red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Will keep in refrigerator for several weeks.  Shake well before serving.

Perfect Potato Salad (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 pound of small red-skinned potatoes (our skins weren’t that nice, so we peeled them)
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 3 Tbsp chopped red onion
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook potatoes 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain potatoes. Peel and chop into 1½-inch pieces. Add peas, 2 Tbsp dill, and red onion. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gently toss dressing with salad. Spoon into serving bowl. Sprinkle with remaining dill. Before serving, taste; add extra salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve and Enjoy!

A Flay Feast! Goat Cheese Queso Fundido, Sophie’s Chopped Salad, Grilled Garlic Cilantro Shrimp

Posts have been a little slow this week. I’ve been off doing real life things that were really super important, like going to Disneyland and hanging out with Lauren who was gracing Southern California with her presence for the past week.

You are never too old for Disneyland. We loved it. We waited over an hour (the line was over 4 hours a one point in the day) to go on the new 3D Star Tours ride and it was totally worth it. I will fully admit that I am a Star Wars fan, all the cool kids are (or at least that’s what my mom tells me…). We also went to California Adventure. It was my first time there. Being the die hard Californian that I am, I loved it. It was very different than Disneyland proper, but still a lot of fun. Soaring Over California was definitely my favorite ride. I should probably say that I am beyond terrified of  not a fan of heights, but I loved Soaring Over California and California Screaming. However, I still have not fully recovered from Lauren making me go on the Tower of Terror Tears and Pure Fear. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do not see how a trip to the Haunted Mansion, justifies being tortured 13 stories in the air…

When we got home from our LA adventures yesterday we got busy catching up on gossip and our Google readers and thinking about what we wanted to cook up for dinner. We found all the inspiration we needed from one of our favorite blogs The Fitnessista. Gina and her Pilot went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Vegas and shared some pictures of amazing looking food. I’m still miffed that in all my trips to Vegas I’ve never made it to Mesa Grill, plus I’m kind of obsessed with Bobby Flay. Have you seen Brunch at Bobby’s or Grill It!? Anyone who has shows dedicated to my two favorite activities (brunching and grilling) is amazing in my book.

Inspired by Gina’s B. Flay inspiration, Lauren and I decided to whip up some Goat Cheese Queso Fundido (I cannot adequately describe how amazing this was), Sophie’s Chopped Salada and Bobby Flay’s Grilled Shrimp with Jalapeno-Garlic Vinaigrette. This was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in a long while. I would strongly recommend you plan on making it sometime soon. Like right meow.

Goat Cheese Queso Fundido (adapted from this recipe)
(There are no pictures of the queso because it was promptly consumed upon completion. There also might have been talk of attempting to drink it through a straw… No one will ever know for sure.) 

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 1 cup pepper jack, grated
  • 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6+ garlic cloves, minced (I used a whole bulb, don’t you dare judge me)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla chips (for serving)
In a pan, heat a bit of oil and sauté the garlic and jalapeno until the garlic is golden brown and crispy. Set aside.
In a double broiler, bring wine to a simmer. Add mozzarella and monterey jack and stir until melted. Add garlic/jalapeno, goat cheese, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies (I bet it would make an awesome fondue).
Sophie’s Chopped Salad 
(I based mine off of this recipe)
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3-4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • Generous handful of shredded mozzarella and pepper jack
Mix first 5 ingredients together to make dressing. Combine the remaining ingredients and serve. (I combine all the ingredients besides the lettuce and arugula and they kept overnight as their own little salad).

Grilled Shrimp with Jalapeno-Garlic Vinaigrette (adapted from this recipe)

  •  6-10 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/2 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
  • 5 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 16 jumbo shrimp, deveined
In a small pan, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic and simmer until light brown. Remove from heat, place garlic in a blender and allow oil to cool. Add jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and honey to blender. Add oil when slightly cooled. Blend.
Toss shrimp with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Cook in pan until done. Transfer to plate, drizzle with vinaigrette and serve!

Gluten-free Corn Cakes with Grilled Shrimp & Onion Salsa

I generally try to have a rough plan of the week’s dinners. It’s not really set in stone, but I like to be able to take care of groceries and prep work ahead of time. I’m still trying to get organized from my weekend trip to San Francisco, so planning tonight’s meal definitely did not happen, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise! Tonight we whipped up some gluten-free corn cakes with grilled shrimp on a bed of mixed greens topped with onion ‘salsa’. It was quick, simple and super tasty. What else do you really want from a meal?


Corn Cakes
I based my gluten-free corn cakes on this recipe with several adjustments made for food allergies and personal taste.

  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 egg yolks (or 1 large egg)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • A few generous turns fresh ground pepper
  • A few generous shakes of garlic powder
  • Oil or butter for frying

Pulse the corn kernels, egg, milk and butter together in a food processor. I like my cakes to have a few chunky kernels in them, so pulse to your own preference. In a large bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients with the corn mixture until the dry ingredients are mixed with the wet. Heat the oil in a pan and then place spoonfuls of the mixture in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Onion Salsa

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped (I used a container of baby heirloom toms from Trader Joe’s since that’s all I had, it worked)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Garlic powder, a generous shake
  • Smoked paprika, a generous shake
  • Rice vinegar, a few generous shakes

Mix all ingredients together in a large, non-reactive bowl. Allow to mariniate together for a little bit (like 15 minutes) before serving.

Grilled Tuna with Asian Salad and Corn

It seems like it finally might be summer here, or at least this week’s mini-heat wave is sure making it seem that way. I’m sorry 91 degrees in March is just unacceptable, but fortunately it’s the perfect excuse to clean off the grill, eat outside and listen to Vin Scully on the radio. I’m not sure what I was more excited about, using the grill for the first time in forever, eating a delicious meal outside or watching Dodgers opening day.


To celebrate the ridiculous weather and Opening Day, barbecuing just seemed like a must. I marinated some Ahi Tuna steaks (they have great 2-packs in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s) in an Asian-inspired marinated and a salad with some homemade Asian inspired dressing, along with some corn drizzled with olive oil and garlic powder. I must admit that everything was absolutely delicious. Everything was accompanied by Frei Brothers Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, which was absolutely perfect with the meal. It was light and fruity, but not overwhelmingly sweet.


Ahi Tuna Marinade

  • 1/4 C. Olive Oil
  • 1/4C. Tamari or Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Sesame Oil (I used Chili Sesame Oil for a little extra kick)
  • A chunk of fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • A few shakes of roasted sesame seeds

Mixed the marinade and then allowed the Ahi to marinate while I got the rest of the dinner ready and the grill heated up. Flipping the steaks every 15 minutes or so. I then cooked the Ahi at around 350 on the grill, 3 minutes each side, and they came out perfectly.


Gluten-Free Fish Tacos and some Caesar Salad too!

Tacos! Tacos! Tacos!

It’s no secret I LOVE Mexican food. Today when I was at the grocery store there was some really nice looking snapper on sale (you would think that 13 years of Catholic school would have clued me into the fact that it’s Lent, but since I’m a little slow on the uptake and majorly lapsed on the Catholic part, I totally didn’t get why all the fish was so cheap). I originally intended to a nice civilized meal of the snapper with polenta and asparagus, but that quickly went out the window courtesy of a friend’s facebook status. She made fish tacos for dinner, why couldn’t I make fish tacos for dinner!?

I rinsed the fish and let it marinade for about 40 minutes in a really, really simple marinade. I really wanted to grill it, but I was hungry and wanted to eat before 10pm, so I was not in the mood to clean off the grill (it hasn’t been used yet this year… sad.), so I cooked it up in the pan. I also crisped up some corn tortillas in a tiny bit of vegetable oil in another pan. I made them flat more like tostadas than taco shells, let them drain and cool for a few minutes on a paper towel and then I topped them with the fish, salsa, cheese, lettuce and some other good fixin’s. I also made a delicious ‘southwestern’ casear salad with tomato and green onion. SUCH a good meal. This will definitely be entering the regular rotation.

Fish Taco Marinade

  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 4 generous shakes of chili or chipotle powder
  • 1 generous shake of smoked paprika
  • Goya Adobo seasoning*

Mix lime, lemon oil and spices and mix with prepared fish. Cover with cling wrap and allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes. Cook on grill or in pan. Serve and enjoy!

* – Goya Adobo seasoning is a relatively new discovery for me and I’m obsessed with it. It’s basically garlic salt with some more Mexican flavorings. I’ve been using it instead of salt that’s called for in a lot of recipes and it’s great on roasted corn or popcorn as well.

Southwest Caesar Salad Dressing

Inspired by this All Recipes Caesar Salad Supreme Recipe

  • 6-10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 c. mayo
  • 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chipotle or chili powder
  • black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients either in small food processor or tupperware box (I put them all in a small tupperware box and just shake, shake, shake) and then refrigerate until ready to use.