Blackened Salmon with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

This recipe is hands DOWN my favorite food to come out of my kitchen!  Writing about this recipe is hands DOWN my favorite way to procrastinate the residency application work that is looming over my head. Now that exams are over, this is the last *big* project left in medical school…and hopefully some interviews to follow during this coming winter!

While I am SO ready for fall to come (hey there, football season!), it will be hard to say goodbye to the fresh, crisp, summery foods. My new tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum combo is absolutely avocado and strawberries!  This fab duo pairs magnificently with spicy, seared salmon to create an unforgettable dish.  Plus, it doesn’t take long to make! So you can impress your tastetesters in no time at all.  Have any leftovers? Check out this SWAG Salad – strawberry, walnut, avocado, and goat cheese!

Um, hi there lovely summer colors!

So, in these last few weeks of summer I’ve created a mini-bucket list!

  1. Go to the Toledo ZOO! And finally check out the safari side!
  2. Take the dogs to all the metro parks when it cools down – their fur can’t handle the heat!
  3. Check out one of the new rooftop bars in downtown Toledo!
  4. Make this dish as long as the strawberries look delish 😀

Let me know how your dish turns out! And, as always, tag @anappleadayonline so I can check it out!

Blackened Salmon with Strawberry Avocado Salsa
Recipe type: Seafood
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
This has been my go-to meal for years - this combination creates a sweet heat that is unbeatable! This recipe is enough for two servings, so multiply for a large crowd!
For the salsa:
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • ¼ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup strawberries, diced
  • 1 tbsp. diced red onion
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, minced
  • ½ lime, juiced
For the Salmon:
  • 2 medium-sized salmon filets
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (I love the frozen brown rice packs by the frozen veggies - makes weeknight dinners a breeze!)
  1. Combine the salsa ingredients and mix well, set aside.
  2. Cook the brown rice according to the instructions.
  3. Mix the rub ingredients together - salt, pepper, chili powder, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Pat salmon filets dry and press the rub onto one side.
  4. Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Place salmon rub-side down and cook for 60-90 seconds (just enough to create a crust). Flip the salmon and reduce the heat to medium.
  6. Cook the remaining side for 7 minutes (might need more depending on how thick they are).
  7. Serve the salmon over a bed of brown rice. Top with the strawberry avocado salsa and enjoy!


Chimichurri Shrimp

Hi friends – reporting from my couch on a Saturday night.  I successfully have made no plans this weekend and have watched The Bachelorette, 2 Denzel Washington movies (The Hurricane and Man on Fire…both amazing), and we’re about to start the new season of Bloodline, so things are looking good over here. On top of that, I have brainstormed SO many food projects featuring my herb garden, with special appearances from my friends Cilantro, Chive, Mint, Thai Basil, Dill, and Parsley.  Real Basil is struggling in the growing department, so cross your fingers it kicks in by the time caprese salads are on a daily rotation in this household.

Amazing, herby, delicious shrimpies.

The last few weeks I’ve been leaning on the quick, 20-minutes-to-throw together meals to get me through the week.  Ingredients I always have on hand? Fresh herbs, lemon or lime, little bit of heat, olive oil, and seafood.  Any combination of those will yield you amazing results. Every. Single. Time. BUT, I’m about to introduce you to a sauce that you can use again and again, on chicken, shrimp, steak, sandwiches…? Haven’t tried that last one, but WHY NOT.

Tomatoes added. For effect and color contrasting.

Traditional chimichurri can be found in the best of Argentinian cuisine, but this is my “take” on it.  Usually, it features parsley, garlic, vinegar, and oil.  Instead, we’re adding everything we can find within arms reach to take it up a notch.  You know those giant bunches of herbs you have lying around when you need one tablespoon but buy 7 cups at the grocery store?  THIS is what you should make with them.  Honestly, throw anything you’ve got in there.  Don’t like cilantro because you think it tastes like soap? First, read this article because it’s interesting.  Then, I give you permission to add any other herbs you want!  My favorite extras are mint, chives, and dill.  It’s that easy!

Salad on the side. Because #veggies.

So friends, take a stab at this delicious, easy, quick, but PACKED WITH FLAVOR recipe.  I would have grilled them, but alas, we were out of propane.  So I envy anyone that gets to throw these bad boys on the grill with a little char.  Let me know what you think!

Chimichurri Shrimp
Recipe type: Seafood
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
This chimichurri sauce can be added to anything (try chicken and steak!), but with these grilled or sauteed shrimp, it makes a quick meal with amazing flavor.
For the chimichurri sauce:
  • 2 cups of herbs, minced (I recommend heavier in the parsley/cilantro area, but add in mint, dill, basil, and chives!)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • Note: feel free to add one serrano or jalapeno pepper (take out the seeds and membrane!) for some extra heat, but keep in mind the shrimp have some red pepper flakes!
For the Shrimp:
  • 1 pound of shrimp, deveined, tails on
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
For the shrimp:
  1. Marinade the shrimp in the olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile...make your sauce!
For the sauce:
  1. Combine the minced herbs, lime juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic in a large bowl.
Back to shrimp:
  1. Saute or grill (on skewers!) the shrimp for 2 minutes per side on medium/high heat. Add the shrimp to the large bowl with the chimichurri sauce and toss until they're all coated. Cover for 5 minutes to let the heat combine all the flavors.
  2. Enjoy!


Steakhouse Salad with Greek Yogurt Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Hey all! It has been a while since I popped in here with a new recipe!  Life update = third year of medical school has been crazy busy (hence why I went MIA for many months), I’m officially going into OBGYN (hooray!), and the dogs, Dan, and I have been doing well!   I’ve got roughly a year left of school, but exams end this summer!

So, in the spirit of spring, I’ve got an easy salad that packs a huge flavor punch!  It reminds me of those *awesome* wedge salads you get at steakhouses, but with a healthy twist – greek yogurt buttermilk ranch dressing! The first time I tried this, I accidentally used vanilla greek yogurt…uhhhh the WORST accident I have ever made!  Hopefully you have better luck! SO, without further ado…

Steakhouse Salad with Greek Yogurt Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 salads
A healthy twist on a steakhouse classic!
For the steak:
  • 1 skirt steak, about 1 pound
  • Salt and pepper to season
For the salad:
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
For the dressing:
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup buttermik
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
For the steak:
  1. Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a saute pan, and sear on each side (only about 3-4 minutes per cooks quickly because it is so thin!). Let rest and cut in strips against the grain.
For the dressing:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. You'll have extra, so save for the week!
For the salad:
  1. Dress the lettuce with the greek yogurt dressing.
  2. Top with tomatoes, blue cheese, and steak strips.
  3. Enjoy!


Easy, Healthy “Bi Bim Bop”

Finished, Delicious Bi Bim Bop!

Finished, Delicious Bi Bim Bop!

I’m sure when everyone looks back on their college years, they have a few “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda” moments.  For example, I wish I woulda snuck onto the Big House field like a few of my senior year companions.  I shoulda went to a Michigan hockey game.  I wish I coulda attend a few more biology classes – that would have helped during medical school.

But one of my biggest regrets is never going to the small Korean restaurant below my apartment sophomore year.  Every day, multiple times, I’d walk by Kang’s Korean Restaurant with its giant red sign.  My roommate, Hannah, LOVED Kang’s.  She’d frequent the restaurant, bringing back leftovers that smelled delicious.  But I never once took her word for it.  And I seriously regret it.

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash and “Albondigas” – Meatballs in Garlic Tomato Sauce

Healthified "spaghetti" and "albondigas"!

Healthified “spaghetti” and “albondigas”!

Given that it’s Halloweek, I am going to tell you a horror story about these delicious meatballs.  Like any horror movie, there are several plot twists when you *think* something terrifying is about to happen, but it’s just the cat, or a gust of wind.  This story is no different – I dodged quite a few disasters before the TRUE horror hit my kitchen!

Potential Scary Moment #1:  When I decided to try and copy Dan’s mom’s meatballs.  They’re awesome and cannot be beat.  But I think these turned out well!  They’re definitely not “made-by-mom” quality, but they’re great for a first attempt.

Potential Scary Moment #2: I wanted to try roasting spaghetti squash for the first time.  This is scary for two reasons – I knew Dan wouldn’t eat it because it’s a weird vegetable, and I had no idea what I was doing.  But after a quick Google search, I found a fool-proof method for great spaghetti squash every time!  And I was impressed with how it soaked up the flavors in the sauce so easily.

Real, True, I-Can’t-Believe-This-Happened Scary Moment:  I was beaming with pride after successfully making meatballs and a new, delicious vegetable.  I had tripled the recipe to have leftovers for days to come!  I woke up the next morning, ready to pack up some lunches, and…*duh duh duuuuhhhhh* I LEFT THE FOOD OUT ALL NIGHT.  RUINED!!!  I was incredibly upset.  And in a bad mood for about 23 minutes.  I think a tear rolled down my cheek as I threw my beautiful-gone-bad meatballs down the garbage disposal.

Mix, Mix, Mix It Up!

Mix, Mix, Mix It Up!

The good news, after this scary-spooky-horror-story, is that I can’t WAIT to make these again.  They’re AWESOME.  And relatively easy to make in a big batch so you can throw some in the freezer or have leftovers for a few days.  They’re extremely versatile.  I added them to spaghetti squash – which is a great healthy alternative to pasta.  But they’d be just as good in a meatball sub with some mozzarella, mixed with veggies, or plain as a protein-filled snack!

Waiting to be browned!

Waiting to be browned!

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Muy Delicioso!

I came across this simple meatball recipe at a wine tasting party thrown by my friend, Karen.  She took us on a culinary, wine-filled tour of the Iberian Peninsula and paired these delicious “albondigas” with a Rioja wine (featured in Wine and Popcorn pairings earlier this year!).  They were so simple, with a basic red sauce, but every bite was better than the last.  Then, after trying Dan’s mom’s meatballs recently, I knew I had to try and make some of my own.  So I fused her recipe with the Spanish albondigas and added some lean ground turkey for a health kick!

Meatballs simmering in red sauce.

Meatballs simmering in red sauce.

I urge you to make these ASAP – but maybe after Halloweek so you don’t experience a horror story of your own!

Good luck!  And remember to follow @anappleadayonline on Instagram!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash and "Albondigas" - Meatballs in Garlic Tomato Sauce
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
Great beginner meatball recipe - few ingredients and even fewer steps! These can be added to the roasted spaghetti squash, a pasta of your choosing, or thrown into a meatball sub. Throw your spaghetti squash into the oven first, then mix up your meatballs and sauce so everything finishes at the same time!
For the spaghetti squash:
  • 1 whole spaghetti squash, cut lengthwise
  • Water (enough to fill pan up ½ inch)
For the sauce:
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, low sodium
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1.5 tsp. dried basil
For the albondigas:
  • 1½ pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 80/20 ratio)
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • ⅔ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
For the spaghetti squash:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise.
  3. Using a baking dish (a lasagna dish works perfectly), place squash cut side down into the dish.
  4. Fill dish with ½ inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil
  5. Cook for 45 minutes. Remove squash and flip over (cut side up). Be careful when removing foil - steam is hot!
  6. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until squash is very tender.
  7. Allow to slightly cool. Remove seeds using a spoon. Then, using a fork, shred the remainder of the squash into "spaghetti-like" strands.
For the sauce:
  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. olive oil.
  2. Saute garlic until fragrant - about 4 minutes.
  3. Add whole tomatoes and tomato sauce. Gradually break up large pieces using a spoon.
  4. Add pepper, salt, oregano, and basil.
  5. Turn heat to low and allow sauce to simmer and thicken while you prepare the albondigas.
For the albondigas:
  1. Add ground turkey, ground beef, green pepper, onion, nutmeg, parsley, and bread crumbs to a large mixing bowl. Combine using a large spoon or your hands. (It's much easier with your hands!)
  2. Form meatballs using a spoon. Each meatball should use up about 2 tbsp of the mixture. I ended up with about 35 in total.
  3. Heat large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil (you may need additional oil with several batches).
  4. In batches of 12 meatballs, brown on all sides. Turn using tongs to brown evenly. This should take about 5 minutes per batch.
  5. Add meatballs to tomato sauce.
  6. Cover, with heat on low, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
To complete the recipe:
  1. Combine spaghetti squash and albondigas - with plenty of sauce - on your plate. Top with additional parmesan cheese or fresh parsley.
This was the method I used for cooking the spaghetti squash if you need clarification. Thanks Emeril!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup squash and 6 meatballs Calories: 525 Fat: 28 g Saturated fat: 10 g Unsaturated fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 31 g Sugar: 10 g Sodium: 577 mg Fiber: 6 g Protein: 36 g Cholesterol: 120 mg


Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini “Zoodles”

Zoodily Zoodles and World’s Best Garlic Bread!

My mom taught me quite a few things in the kitchen.  One of those things is homemade garlic bread, and I am forever grateful.  Buying a French baguette at the grocery store is a decision I don’t take lightly – I know it’ll be followed by over-garlicked, buttery, amazing bread.  And I need the perfect meal to enjoy it with.  And to use leftovers to make homemade croutons – another one of my mother’s culinary gifts.

I have found that meal.  Healthified chicken parmesan with zoodles!  A great dose of vegetables, protein, and some cheesy goodness.  Best part?  No boiling noodles, a quick *zesty* red sauce, and easy chicken finished in the oven.  Perfect to melt your cheese and brown your garlic bread under the broiler.  And go back for a second slice of this delicious bread!  No pasta = extra bread 😉

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Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

The goodness that is easy, 3-ingredient shredded chicken.

The goodness that is easy, 3-ingredient shredded chicken.

MONDAYZZZ. Ugh. I shouldn’t even be complaining.  It’s Fall break, which means no class for 2 days.  It was sunny and 65 degrees out today.  Football Today had a new podcast out and they continued to rave about the Packers.  I made my childhood favorite meal (Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole) on a whim today.  And it was just as good as I remembered.

But, today was one of those days I needed a Diet Coke at 5PM and I don’t even drink pop unless it has Jack Daniel’s in it.  I didn’t even wear mascara today. *Gasp*.  Before I was writing this, I was reading a book about patient case files and realizing how much I have to study before medicine starts back up again next summer.  My biggest accomplishment was tying my tennis shoes today.

And for days like today?  And I know everyone has them.  CROCKPOT.  Buy one.  Use it.  I’ll make it easy for you: CROCK POT.  Even better? Throw 3 ingredients in there and you’ve got a delicioso meal that will last you FOREVER.  Okay, like 3 meals, but that’s pretty good.

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Lightened-Up Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms and Chicken

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FALL IS HERE!  Salads and smoothies MOVE OVER.  Soups, pasta, and oatmeal COME ON IN! While comfort food is a must during the cold months, there’s always an easy way to up the deliciousness and the health-factor to the max.  This recipe takes a classic – pesto – and adds in some healthy fats with avocado.  Adding lean protein and veggies to the pasta makes this a well rounded dish that’s quick and easy!

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Skinny Pizza Stuffed Peppers

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If there’s one food I could eat for every single meal, it would absolutely be pizza.  Growing up with my dad and brother – who can seriously eat some food – I learned that when I ordered my cheese only Domino’s pizza, it required a “DO NOT EAT” sign on the leftovers.  I’d wake up in the morning and savor my cold, delicious pizza for the second time around.  And maybe even for lunch! So sue me!

Then, sadly, I became aware of the evils of regular pizza eating.  Or maybe it was the beer drinking that usually preceeded the pizza eating.  EITHER WAY.  Don’t get me wrong, I can still throw down a pizza if I had to.  Twist my arm.  But my frequency of indulging in cheesy goodness was becoming a problem.  And I found the solution.  PIZZA PEPPERS.  All the pizza flavor without the pizza guilt!  Not so good for drunchies (“drunk-munchies” for my baby boomers out there), but great for a weeknight!

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