Category: Low Calorie

Steak and Blue Cheese Chopped Salad

Steak and blue cheese salad

Steak and Blue Cheese Chopped Salad

Steak and Blue Cheese go together like humans and oxygen. And why not make it better by combining them with salad? This is something I like to make when I have people over because it’s really easy, flavorful, and can readily be tailored to personal tastes, unlike a lot of meals. It is also filling while still being healthful. This dish is more about the process than the ingredients, so I am not including amounts, but I will outline the items I generally use when making it. But again, it is how I make it rather than what I include that is important, so stay tuned for that. If you can grill the steak ahead of time, that will contribute the best flavor, but broiling works as well.

Ingredients
romaine lettuce (my preference for its crunchiness, but you can use any lettuce you want)
red bell pepper
red onion
celery
carrots
cherry tomatoes
avocado
blue cheese (crumbled gorgonzola works well)
steak (cooked to your preference), I love tri-tip or loin tip for its meaty flavor and low price

Ingredients for the dressing
I generally use Italian salad dressing from the packet that you add vinegar, water & oil (olive oil) to. But rather than using red wine vinegar I recommend using balsamic vinegar, which combines exceptionally well with the blue cheese in this salad.

Directions
1. Step 1 is where most of the work comes in. I dice up all the vegetables (except lettuce and avocado)  into small, bite-sized pieces and place them into bowls as preparation for the mixing. The steak should be cooked to your preference and allowed to sit for a while to reabsorb all its juices.  When cool, cut into small pieces, cutting it into strips against the grain, then cutting those strips into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

chiffonade

A chiffonade

2. I then cut the lettuce into a chiffonade. This is when you cut it into small, thin strips (see image). This not only makes the salad easier to eat, but looks really nice when combined with the other ingredients.

3. You then have a choice, you can put everything into bowls and dress, or, my preference is to add the lettuce, carrots, onion, celery, peppers, and cheese into a bowl and add a little less dressing than I think I need (this keeps the calories down and will actually taste just fine). I then mix everything up, which spreads a thin layer of dressing onto everything, then place in serving bowls.

4. Add the steak and tomatoes to the salad. Then scoop out spoonfuls of  avocado onto the salad. I top it off with a little more blue cheese for presentation purposes and serve.

By chopping all the ingredients into small pieces, and coating them well with minimal dressing, you will achieve a healthful salad with a lot of flavor, that doesn’t have to be high in calories. Yes, the blue cheese is not low calorie, but you don’t need a lot of it when you are mixing all the ingredients together, the flavor will carry throughout the salad. This dish always goes over well when I serve it. Some people leave the steak out (my vegetarian brother) and the salad will still taste great.

Caramelized Salsa Verde

Caramelized Salsa Verde

Caramelized Salsa Verde

This is a surprisingly good take on salsa verde, the caramelization of the vegetables adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the classic salsa. I like to serve this warm with tortilla chips, but it works well in place of guacamole, or even with guacamole in tacos and fajitas. I often make it with the green chilies (without the pith and seeds) for a less spicy dish, but the chilies give the salsa a more nuanced character, so I like to include them.

Ingredients
2 pounds of tomatillos (husk removed)
6 green chilies (if you like it spicy)
1/2 of a medium onion, left intact, not cut up
2 garlic cloves
6 sprigs of cilantro leaves, including stem
1 teaspoon lime juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt to taste

Directions
1. Cut the tomatillos into quarters. If you are using the green chilies, you can remove the seeds and the pith (white ribs) if you like them less spicy, or keep them if you like more heat). Heat the oil in a pan and add the tomatillos, chilies, onion, and garlic. Cook over a medium-high heat, moving the items periodically to prevent them from burning. Cook the vegetables until they have turned a nice brown color, indicating that caramelization has begun. The tomatillos will cook down and lose a lot of moisture, this is normal.

2. When the vegetables have caramelized, place them in a blender or food processor, add the cilantro, lime juice and salt, and puree until smooth. Place in a bowl and serve.

This dish can be served on its own as a dip, or used on food. It can also be served warm or chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use, it will taste great either way.

Cold Brewed Iced Tea

iced tea

Iced Tea

I’ve found a way to make iced tea with no bitterness, and it doesn’t become cloudy. It’s called cold-brewed iced tea. Iced tea is something I have around all year, but there’s something about a cold glass on a hot day that makes me shiver with anticipation, and iced tea is still a nice winter beverage for those who like cold drinks. The tannins in the leaves can add astringency (which equals bitterness) to iced tea that I prefer to avoid. By cold brewing the iced tea rather than using warm water, you can still extract all the great flavors without a lot of tannins. Don’t even get me started on “sun tea.” The bacterial levels in that stuff are enough to make me sick just thinking about it; leaving a jar of tea in the sun for a few hours is just not a good idea. “Sun tea” is a potential bio-hazard and iced tea made this way should be avoided.

I’ve been cold brewing my iced tea for years, and this really works. This iced tea is great, and incredibly easy to make. I only wish I had known about this when I was younger.

Ingredients
1 cup loose black tea (or 10 teabags), or flavored tea of your choice
12 cups water

Directions
1. Place the tea leaves or bags in a large pitcher with a top (you can use only 1 cup of tea leaves, or fewer bags if you prefer a lighter tea).

2. Add the water and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, I generally let them soak overnight.

3. Strain the tea or remove the bags and drink!

I like to put in a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint, but you can do anything you like. I sometimes add mango nectar, but any fruit juice works very well too.  You are only limited by your imagination. Iced tea combines with almost any fruit flavor, so any juice works well.

For “Sweet Tea” I just add a little simple syrup, which dissolves easily in tea unlike sugar. Having a southern belle for a wife I always have a lot of tea and simple syrup around and my iced tea is her sweet tea.