Grilled Baby Bok Choy

Bok choy on the grill is so good, flavorful and interesting…and best of all quick, which makes it the perfect candidate for a weeknight dinner side. Of all the Asian ingredients I keep in the fridge, miso paste might be my favorite. I love it’s unami punch and versatility.

Shown with Asian-style Portabello Mushrooms

Grilled Baby Bok Choy
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
I love bok choy on the grill, it's just like grilled romaine, unexpectedly good in a way you never anticipated. I know it sounds crazy, but bok choy is actually very kid-friendly. You don't need to do much for these ingredients, just toss them with a bit of butter or oil, and seasoning and hit the grill. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 3 tbsp Canola oil
  • 3 tbsp Miso paste, white
  • 1 lb Baby bok choy not trimmed (see note)
Instructions
  1. In you have a grill basket - preheat grill to medium. If you do not have a grill basket, spray the grill with canola spray before preheating.
  2. Melt butter, canola oil and miso paste in a small bowl in the microwave.
  3. In a large bowl toss bok choy with miso butter mixture.
  4. Transfer to the grill, and cook, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
  5. The leaves should be slightly crisp and the bulbs tender. When eating you can discard the bok choy bulbs.
Notes
Bok choy - I like to cook the bok choy without trimming the stalks - it's easier to grill if everything is intact.

 

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Spanish-Style Grilled Pork Loin

Pork loin is always a  big hit in our house. It’s delicious, lean, healthy and lends itself to all types of savory flavors. When it’s cold outside I sear and then roast the pork, but as soon as Spring arrives I head out to the grill. Not only am I fascinated by the alchemy of the grill, I love not having dishes to wash, so I am always trying to figure out how to make our entire dinner outside. The tasty marinade bastes the pork and then transforms into a delicious sauce for your dinner…and a vinaigrette for a quick salad later in the week. Now that’s getting some serious mileage from a small cooking investment!

I served my kids the pork without the sauce. If you have adventurous eaters, I envy you! You could also serve the sauce in a little ramekin alongside the pork and encourage them to give it a try.

Spanish-Style Grilled Pork Loin
Author: 
Serves: serves 8 - 10
 
When you are feeding a crowd you can't go wrong with pork loin. It's a crowd pleaser and so much easier to manage on the grill then lots of burgers or chicken breasts. If you don't have oregano, either thyme or rosemary would work equally well in this marinade. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Oregano leaves
  • ¼ cup Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup Olive oil
  • ¼ cup Sherry vinegar
  • 4½ - 5 lb Pork loin, trimmed (see note)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor combine oregano leaves and garlic and pulse until a paste is formed.
  2. Add Kosher salt, olive oil and sherry vinegar and pulse until the dressing is emulsified.
  3. Place the pork in a pyrex dish, poke about 10 holes with a fork in each side of the pork and spread both sides with approximately ⅓ cup of the dressing.
  4. Transfer the rest of the marinade to a mason jar - now you have dressing for your pork.
  5. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  6. Spray grill with olive oil or canola spray and heat to high. Let grill preheat until the temperature gauge reads at least 300 degrees.
  7. Place pork on the grill, I like to put it crossways for grill marks, and grill over high heat, turning every few minutes for about 15 minutes total (this is the searing part of the cook time).
  8. Turn heat to low and continue cooking, turning the pork every 15 minutes, for about 45 minutes longer.
  9. The internal temperature of the pork should be 145 degrees when you take it off the grill. Let it rest for about 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute, the internal temperature will continue to rise.
  10. Thinly slice to serve (the meat will be slightly pink in the center).
Notes
Pork loin - it's important to trim not only the excess fat and the silver skin off the pork. The silver skin is tough and inedible when cooked, so you definitely want to cut it off.

 

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Grilled Sesame Tuna

Seared ahi tuna is one of those fabulous meals that exists somewhere between dreams and reality…this recipe was born from a sushi craving. I love to feed my kids as much seafood as possible, but the reality is that means frozen shrimp or seafood on sale. I saw yellowtail on sale at Wegmans last week, so I snapped it right up. My kids really like seafood, so it wasn’t hard to get them to try tuna. However, the sesame seeds are completely strange to them and I definitely got some pushback, so I adjusted accordingly. I made one of the tuna steaks sesame seed free – and everyone ate their dinner. You have to pick your battles….

Shown here with Wasabi Sauce

Wasabi Sauce


Grilled Sesame Tuna
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
If you aren't sure your kids will eat sesame seeds then play it safe and make one tuna steak sesame seed free. To introduce them to the flavor give them a small piece from your plate and let them try it. For my kids I try to have realistic expectations...eating sesame seeds is less important than enjoying a happy and healthy dinner. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 Tuna steaks (1¼ - ½ lbs total)
  • 4 tbsp Canola oil, divided in half
  • 2 tsp Sesame oil, divided in half
  • ⅔ cups Sesame seeds, mix of white and black seeds, divided in half
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt, divided in half
Instructions
  1. Spray grill with canola spray and turn to medium high.
  2. Pat tuna dry.
  3. On one plate combine half of the canola oil and sesame oil.
  4. On a second plate combine half of the sesame seeds and Kosher salt.
  5. Dip tuna in the oil mixture, making sure to completely cover the tuna.
  6. Transfer to the plate with the sesame seed mixture and throughly coat the tuna, pressing the sesame seeds to adhere to the tuna.
  7. Grill tuna on medium high for 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and slice thinly to serve.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy

 

Grilled Asian-Style Portabello Mushrooms

 

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Wasabi Sauce

Concocting sauces is a particular passion of mine. A simple sauce transforms an ordinary dinner into a special meal. The one constant of WKC sauces is you need Greek yogurt as a creamy base and some fresh herbs for flavor – then you can let your imagination run wild. Loving your leftovers is not only for how to reuse your protein, what about how to adapt a sauce to a second dinner later in the week? This sauce is the perfect compliment to the Grilled Sesame Tuna and the Wasabi Sheet Pan Flank Steak…try both recipes this week!


Wasabi Sauce
Author: 
Serves: 1½ cups
 
This sauce can be mild or spicy depending on the amount of wasabi. Try it with my Grilled Sesame Tuna or my Wasabi Sheet Pan Flank Steak
Ingredients
  • ½ bunch Cilantro, stems roughly chopped and removed
  • 2 Limes, zested and juiced
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt, whole milk
  • ¼ cup Duke's mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Ginger, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp Wasabi, prepared
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In a food processor combine cilantro and lime zest and juice.
  2. Once you have formed a paste, add the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, ginger, wasabi and kosher salt. Pulse until emulisified.
  3. Use right away or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 

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Roasted Shrimp

What’s for dinner? It’s the question we all struggle to answer on a busy weeknight. Shrimp answers that question and delivers in spades – quick, tasty, cost-effective and kids love it! I personally love any recipe I can make in the oven, it’s hands-off and I know I won’t burn anything while I’m helping my kids with their homework. Consider this less of a recipe and more of a guide, once you master this technique, you can tailor the flavor of the dish to suit your family’s preferences.

Shown here with my Oregano Marinade

Oregano Marinade


Roasted Shrimp
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
Try any of my marinades with this technique. If you are using a marinade then you can skip the ingredients below and just follow the cooking instructions. The choices for how you put this meal together are endless and your kids will love the chance to assemble their own plates. Rice bowls or tacos would be fun. And how about some mouthwatering dinner salads for the adults? Try my Vidalia Onion, Caesar or Feta Vinaigrettes...each would work beautifully with the shrimp. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Shrimp, large, uncooked, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil or Canola oil (see note)
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Garlic powder (see note)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss shrimp with oil, Kosher salt and garlic powder and/or pepper if using.
  3. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  4. Roast 8 - 10 minutes until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
  5. Immediately remove from the baking sheet (so the shrimp don't continue to cook).
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Notes
What type of oil to use? It really depends on what type of flavors you are highlighting in your meal. Olive oil will work for everything except for Asian flavors. Mexican themed meals will work with either olive or canola.
Garlic powder - I love garlic powder. Used in small quantities like this recipe, it adds just a hint of flavor that really enhances the shrimp.

 

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Oregano Marinade

Oregano is one of my favorite herbs…super versatile and it’s flavor compliments so many types of proteins. With a jar of this marinade in your fridge, you could make two delicious meals this week…perhaps Roasted Oregano Chicken on a Sunday evening and then a few days later Grilled Oregano Shrimp. An investment in your dinner bank and super kid-friendly as well, this marinade is a keeper!

Roasted Shrimp with Oregano Marinade
Grilled Oregano Chicken with Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette

Oregano Marinade
Author: 
Serves: 1¼ - ½ cup
 
I'm not a gadget girl, give me a chef's knife and I can get dinner on the table. That said, I LOVE my food processor. It's a particular type of magic to toss in a few ingredients, hit the pulse button, and in 30 seconds you have a perfectly emulsified dressing. Of course, a mason jar works fine, but if you don't have a food processor, consider adding it to your wish list...it will quickly your favorite thing in the kitchen! Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3-4 Oregano, large sprigs, leaves removed from the stems
  • 1 shallot, peeled and halved
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ White wine vinegar
  • ¾ Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place oregano and shallot in the food processor and pulse until combined.
  2. Add the Kosher salt, white wine vinegar and olive oil and pulse until emulsified.
  3. Use right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

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Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette

I was so blessed to spend a wonderful day last summer with two dear friends. Lyn and Melissa have been my friends since 6th grade, it was so special to get to spend the afternoon with them and have all of our kids – 8 of them – get to know each other. I love cooking for my friends, so I had to volunteer to bring some food. Lunch turned out great, and since we had all told our kids we were having “Mommy time” we were able to chat uninterrupted for 20 minutes at a stretch. Bliss! What a fun picnic table lunch and we even got to catch up with our friend Karen. I gave her the leftover dressing for a dinner she was hosting later that night…multi-tasking at it’s finest.

Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette
Shown here with grilled chicken made with my Oregano Marinade

Oregano Marinade


Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette
Author: 
Serves: 1½ cups
 
This dressing has a zing to it, which you can temper with more or less chipotle peppers and honey. In addition to being a yummy on a salad, this vinaigrette makes a delicious marinade for pretty much any protein...chicken, pork, steak, fish...Plan on getting your money's worth from this recipe - an amazing salad and fab dinner on the grill later in the week. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3-4 Canned Chipotle peppers (see note)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 4 tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tsp Minced garlic
  • ½ cup Canola oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1½ tsp Cumin, ground
  • ½ tsp Oregano, dried
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, add chipotle peppers, lime zest and juice, and red wine vinegar. Pulse until peppers are throughly combined.
  2. Next add the honey, garlic, canola oil, Kosher salt, cumin and oregano. Throughly pulse until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
  3. Use the dressing right away or you can store in the refridgerator for up to 1 week.
Notes
Canned Chipotle Peppers - 4 peppers will give a medium heat. I'm not a huge fan of spicy food, and I like the "kick" from 4 peppers. If you prefer even less heat you can start with 2 or 3, the dressing will still be delicious.

 

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Chicken & Lemon Stew

At this time of year there’s still some uncertainty in the weather, lots of warm days hint of Spring, but the nights can be chilly and some days you need warm socks and a jacket. This stew is the last one I make each year, it’s fresh and light, and chock full of vibrant flavors – cumin, turmeric, dried red chiles, olives and lots of lemon. While this stew is great for a family dinner, it’s also special enough to serve for a cozy dinner with friends. Don’t be scared away from the long recipe – it’s very simple actually. I also included some technique notes that hopefully will add to your cooking knowledge.

My picture shows the stew with the optional olives and baby spinach. To make this dish more kid-friendly skip those two ingredients (they are optional anyway) and omit the chiles. I was in an indulgent mood and made this stew just for me.

Try my recipe for poached chicken breasts. I guarantee tender, juicy and flavorful chicken – the ideal starting point for literally hundreds of recipes.

Poached Chicken


Chicken, Lemon & Olive Stew
Author: 
Serves: 10 - 12
 
You will notice the recipe calls for 1-3 chile de Arbol (check the notes for more on them), they do make this stew a bit spicy. If you aren't sure you want it spicy make it the first time with 1 or 2 chiles. If you want to make this stew super family-friendly you could even omit the chiles entirely and only add the olives in the adult servings (I know my kids wouldn't touch olives). Your stew will still be totally delicious! Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 2 Onions, yellow, large, minced
  • 12 tsp Minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp Turmeric, ground
  • 1 tbsp Cumin, ground
  • 1 tbsp Coriander, ground
  • 1-3 Chile de Arbol, stemmed, seeded and minced (see note)
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Bay leaves, dried
  • 3 (15.5 oz) cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, with 1 can pureed (see note)
  • 6 cups plus ½ cup Chicken broth, low-sodium or homemade
  • 3 Lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4-5 lbs. Chicken, cooked and shredded (I use skinless, boneless breasts)
  • 2 cups Green olives, small, pitted (optional)
  • 1 (6 oz) bag Baby Spinach, with stems removed (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a Dutch oven over medium low heat add the oilve oil. Once the oil has warmed add the onions. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, Kosher salt, turmeric, cumin, and coriander and continue to cook for 5 minutes more.
  3. In the meantime, puree 1 can of the chickpeas with ½ cup of chicken broth. (If you don't have a food processor you can simply mash them with a potato masher)
  4. Add chile(s), cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, all of the chickpeas (pureed and regular), chicken broth, the zest and juice of 2 lemons and the chicken. Stir well, adjust heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Remove Dutch oven from heat. Add last lemon (zest and juice) as well as olives and baby spinach if using. Stir well. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can also freeze for up to 1 month.
Notes
Why do I add spices so early in a recipe? Many years ago I discovered the Indian technique of "blooming" spices. All that means is you add your spices and seasonings to hot oil and allow them to cook for a few minutes. You achieve two things - one, the hot oil helps release the flavors and two, your dish has so many more layers of flavor. Give it a try!
Chile de Arbol - one of my favorite aspects of cooking is that you never stop learning, there is ALWAYS a new ingredient, technique, recipe to experiment with. I came late to dried chiles - I did not start cooking with them until this winter and I was instantly hooked. They add such an interesting complexity to dishes. Yes, they are a bit expensive (a container of these costs around $5, but they last forever). Depending on your heat tolerance start with small, maybe just use 1 chile and see how you enjoy the heat.
Chickpeas - They can be a wonderful way to add thickness and body to a soup or stew, so in this recipe I take 1 can and puree it in the food processor with ½ cup of chicken broth. It's a great technique to use in a variety of dishes.

 

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Caesar Salad Dressing

Salad dressings are one of my favorite things to concoct. I love the simplicity of the mason jar, the math of the oil versus acid proportion, and the transformation of a handful of herbs tossed into the food processor. Not only are they great on salads, vinaigrettes are one of the fastest ways to answer the what’s for dinner question – marinate a protein in the yummy dressing you have in the fridge and you are halfway to getting a meal on the table. This vinaigrette is so easy to make, all you need is a handful of pantry ingredients and the secret ingredient – Greek whole milk yogurt.


Caesar Salad Dressing
Author: 
Serves: ½ - ¾ cup
 
A terrific kitchen shortcut is a jar of minced garlic in the fridge. I rarely cook with fresh garlic, but in a recipe like this one, fresh garlic is essential because it is such a forward flavor in the dressing. Think beyond a salad - this vinaigrette is also a delicious marinade for seafood and chicken. Envision a grilled chicken Caesar salad...you can easily whisk this dressing but I just throw everything in my food processor. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Lemon, large, zested and juiced
  • 3 tbsp Greek yogurt, whole milk
  • 2 tbsp Mayonnaise (I use Duke's)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place garlic in a food processor, pulse to mince.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, pulse several times until the dressing in emulsified.
  3. Serve right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

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Chicken & Pepper Stir-Fry

For many years I stayed away from stir-fries, I was intimidated about how fast they cook and trying to have all the ingredients ready to go. Once I got over that fear, my eyes were finally opened to how stir-fries are the answer to a quick and savory weeknight dinner. This stir-fry is one of my favorites, the sauce is simple to make and so yummy, but if you don’t think your children will eat the sauce you have the option to pull some of the chicken and peppers out before adding the sauce at the end of the recipe.

Complete this meal with fluffy and tasty Jasmine rice.

Jasmine Rice


Chicken & Pepper Stir-Fry
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Consider this stir-fry recipe a template. You can learn the technique and timing, and then swap in your family's favorite ingredients. You might not be familiar with Hoisin sauce, it has a wonderful slightly sweet flavor that really enhances this stir-fry, and will make this dinner a kid favorite. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp Agave, light
  • 3 tbsp Canola oil
  • 3 (6 oz) Chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into ½ inch thick strips
  • 2 Peppers, large, sliced into strips (I used red)
  • 3 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Scallions, green parts only, minced (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl combine hoisin, agave and 2 tbsp water. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
  3. Add chicken and stir-fry for 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate.
  4. Add peppers and cook until lightly browned, 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Pour hoisin mixture into the skillet and add the chicken back into the skillet. Reduce heat to simmer and allow the chicken and vegetables to simmer in the sauce for 2 additional minutes.
  6. Plate and top with scallions is using.

 

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