Grilled Cantaloupe with Ancho Date Sauce #FireUpYourStay

isclaimer: This post is sponsored by TownPlace Suites by Marriott. However, all opinions, experiences, content/recipes and enthusiasm are my own.

If you’ve ever had to stay in a hotel for an extended period of time, whether for vacation, business, or even “between houses,” you will likely agree that both your wallet and waistline take a hit eating every meal out. TownPlace by Marriott is your home away from home and even has Weber Grills on site.

Thank goodness for TownePlace Suites by Marriott, my favorite “home away from home” that keeps me in a happy place with all of my life’s necessary comforts — free-flowing Wi-Fi, spacious living areas, a full kitchen for recipe creating, and even high-end Weber grills in the patio area. Honestly, I was so fired up after finding out that TownPlace had partnered with Weber Grills, I created a special fresh and fit recipe to celebrate – Grilled Cantaloupe with Ancho Date SauceContinue reading

3 Ways to Grill Corn Perfectly this Summer

Raise your hand if you can’t resist corn on the cob !  Not only is this vegetable fun to eat, it’s usually super cheap in the summer season – I just bought a dozen plump, juicy organic ones at Whole Foods for $3 total! Making corn on the cob on the grill is super easy; it’s a must-have at our house for backyard barbecues and casual entertaining. You know it’s on my menu for all the big summer celebrations including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and our big family reunion!    jennifer grilling cornThere are three main ways to cook a whole ear of corn on the grill, and I’m going to run you through them. But, first, you’ll want to find the freshest corn possible for the yummiest result. Corn sugars undergo enzymatic reactions after ears are picked, slowly converting into less tasty, mealy starches. So, the fresher the corn, the sweeter – all the more reason to make friends with your local farmers.

3 Ways to Grill Corn Perfectly -- the perfect side dish to any backyard BBQ or summer celebration!

Method 1 – Cook Corn in Husk

 Grilling an ear of corn in the husk is so simple and mess-free – the end part of the cob serves as a handle as your peel back the husk dig into the steamed kernels. Notice how I said “steamed” – that’s because this method actually uses water from all the parts of the corn to steam it into tenderness – the grill just serves as the heat source. If the corn is fresh, it won’t need a pre-soak in water. However, if the husk looks a bit dried out, soak the entire ear of corn in water for about 10 minutes before grilling.

How to: Simply place corn directly on the coals or grates of your grill or campfire (heated to about 400F degrees) and cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until tender (peel back husk if needed). The outside will be blackened, but inside it’s pure perfection. Peel back the husks; remove the silks and butter and season to your preferences. If you want to get fancy, you peel back husks without taking completely off, remove silks, butter and season and then pull back up the husks before grilling. But, I think this makes it too complicated (and the butter tends to drip out!)

Method 2 – Foil-wrapped

Grilling your corn wrapped in foil is a handy-dandy way to prepare it if you don’t want family and friends to be dealing with charred, messy husks. Again, you are actually steaming it with this method.  Plus, you can easily oil, butter or season your corn before cooking and the toppings won’t drip out . . . and you don’t have to deal with mess and logistics of setting out these perishable condiments if you have a large crowd.

How to: Shuck corn toss away silks and husk. Wrap the corn in heavy duty aluminum foil, with or without flavorings like butter, herbs, salt, pepper, grated cheeses, etc.  Grill right on top of hot coals, or on a grill grate set, turning a few times, about 10 – 15 minutes

Method – Naked

This is my favorite way to prepare corn on the grill because I like the nutty, smoked flavor that a bit of charring on the kernels brings. However, this method is not “steaming” like the other ways to grill corn, so the final result is not quite as juicy and, it can’t be cooked directly on coals. But, I feel like this is how we do it down here in Texas and it tastes so good — yeehaw!

How to: Pull back husks and remove completely or braid and tie off for a decorative effect. Pull away most of the silks – the remaining will burn away on the grill! Cook corn over a medium-hot grill (about 400F degrees) for about 10 to 15 minutes, rotating frequently to prevent burning and encourage all-over light charring. In the last few minutes you can brush with a flavored olive oil and sprinkle with herbs or do that while still warm before serving.

Grilled Corn with Ancho Vinaigrette is a southwestern inspired side dish for your next bbq or summer celebration.

I love serving my grilled corn with slightly spicy-sweet Ancho Vinaigrette – you can get my recipe here:

CalCornia Shrimp Pizza makes a speedy mead for busy weeknights - grill or make in the oven.

I’ve also been known to grill waaaaaaay to much corn and I’ll shear off the kernels and use in recipes like my Cali-Corn-ia Shrimp Pizza!

cooking light cornAlso, check out Cooking Light’s collection of in-season ideas for Cooking with Corn.

So, how do you usually make your grilled corn – foil, husked or naked? Also, do you use those little stab-in handle thingies or just eat right out of hand? Got any corny jokes? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

 

 

 

 

Copy Cat Freebird’s Ancho Salad Dressing Recipe

Grilling 101 - Texas Beef Council & The Fit ForkThis past weekend, I teamed up with the Texas Beef Council to teach a Grilling 101 class – and it was the perfect day for outdoor cooking with members of the Beef Team. Weather was in the mid-80s and it seems nearly every Austinite was down at our venue, Zilker Park, my hometown’s favorite urban spot for relaxing and recreating!  Texas Beef Council - Grilling 101

beef team grill

After learning some grill basics on how to operate gas and charcoal grills and prep beef before it hits the grates, participants put their skills to practical use firing up flat iron steaks to perfection – they were delicious!  A+ to everyone, especially genius, fast-learning student who cooked my steak to a magnificent medium-rare while I was off making the final salad preparations!

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I’ll get back to the beef another day (oh, you know I will), but today wanted to share the dressing I made I made to accompany our steak lunch. Since I’m a huge fan of the Freedom Salad (with beef) at Freebird’s World Burrito that is drizzled with the yummiest ancho dressing ever, I knew I needed to replicate it for our post-class meal. Check out my recipe for Freebird’s Copy-Cat Ancho Dressing :

Freebirds Copy Cat Ancho Salad Dressing

Ancho Salad Dressing Hope you enjoy the Freebird’s Copy-Cat Ancho Dressing as much as I do!

This southwestern-inspired vinaigrette is delicious on everything from salads to corn-on-the-cob and other veggies — or use as a marinade for meats and seafood.

 

Copy Cat Freebirds Ancho Salad Dressing

Did you know that Anchos are smoked poblano chile peppers?!  What would you drizzle this dressing on? What is your favorite steak cut? Do you prefer chacoal or gas grilling? Please share in the comments below – xoxo, Jennifer Fisher

 

Copy Cat Freebirds Ancho Salad Dressing
Print Recipe
This vinaigrette is not too spicy and a tiny, tiny bit sweet -- it's perfect for salads, side dishes and marinades.
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 4 hours
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 4 hours
Copy Cat Freebirds Ancho Salad Dressing
Print Recipe
This vinaigrette is not too spicy and a tiny, tiny bit sweet -- it's perfect for salads, side dishes and marinades.
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 4 hours
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
0 minutes 4 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add dried ancho chiles to bowl of water, weight down with a plate so they don’t float to the top. Soak 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain water off rehydrated ancho chiles. Discard stems and cut open to remove seeds. Chop.
  3. Add chopped chiles, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, honey, salt, pepper and chile powder to blender.
  4. Pulse blender on and off, blending ingredients until smooth and combined – about 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Pour in 16-ounce Mason jar or salad dressing cruet and refrigerate until serving time.
  6. Makes 12 – 14 ounces.
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Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon a Spartan Beast Feast!

So, I ran the Spartan Beast Dallas this past Saturday. It was muddy – really, really muddy thanks to record Texas flooding.  This is only the second obstacle course I’ve raced and the first as an elite —  I knew to expect the unexpected, but damn – it was a crazy from just trying to get into the parking lot . . . . . . . and then trying to get out, let alone the course.

Stuck in mud at Spartan Beast Dallas

The race was delayed while they rerouted the trail due to raging rivers. I got hungry. Then I got muddy – really, really muddy. I was hoping to dominate the running, but the ankle-deep mud made lifting each footstep up out of the muck difficult for me . . .and everyone. On this course, I think my favorite obstacles were the barbed wire crawl (the mud made for good slithering) and the monkey bars (because swinging around like a chimpanzee is just plain fun). Spartan Beast Dallas Barbed Wire Crawl

Spartan Beast Dallas Sand Bag Carry The bucket carry and sand bag carry were both hard obstacles given the incline of the hills and the slippery footing. I made a ton of mistakes but am excited to run another and see improvements in my strategy – and I’m happy to report that I came in as the 14th Elite and 2nd  Master Elite at the Spartan Beast Dallas  . . . and I’m not too badly banged up. The worst of it was a thigh rope burn and a goose egg on my head where I slid right into a tree limb!

 

Get 10% off a Reebok Spartan Race! Use Code: FINISH10. Sign Up Today!

Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey SalmonSo, enough about running and hurdling over stuff – onto the food! This easy dinner recipe for Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon is deliciously flavorful and surprisingly satiating even served atop a salad thanks to protein and heart-healthy fats. I love southwestern and spicy-sweet flavors and this fish recipe was inspired by a savory-sweet Ancho Honey Granola I made a few months ago – I originally served the granola on top of an heirloom tomato salad, but the leftovers are perfect for making a crunch topping. If you want to make the whole batch of granola (keep it in the freezer for long-lasting yumminess and recipe inspiration), check out the recipe post – otherwise, I have pared down the ingredients for just enough to make a topping for 4 salmon fillets.

So, how do you make your salmon? Saute, bake, special seasonings or sauces? And, have you ever run an obstacle course race — love it or leave it?  Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

 

Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Print Recipe
The slightly-spicy, slighlty-sweet crunchy topping on top of succulent salmon is such a contrast in textures -- and a real treat! Clever enough for company, but easy for busy weeknight dinners.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Crunchy Baked Ancho Honey Salmon
Print Recipe
The slightly-spicy, slighlty-sweet crunchy topping on top of succulent salmon is such a contrast in textures -- and a real treat! Clever enough for company, but easy for busy weeknight dinners.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
for topping
  1. Add coconut oil to large skillet and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Add pepita seeds, slivered almonds and chili powder to skillet and stir for 1 – 2 minutes or until beginning to toast. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of the honey and stir to combine.
  3. Mix oats, chia seeds, dried cilantro and sea salt to skillet, stirring well to coat with honey mixture. Continue to stir over medium heat for approximately 5 – 6 minutes longer, taking care that honey doesn’t start to burn.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes on paper towels.
for fish
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  2. Place salmon filets, skin side down, on foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle tops of salmon filets with evenly with remaining honey; lightly rub in with fingers.
  3. Top each filet evenly with oat mixture, patting down with fingers. Bake in pre-heated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until salmon cooked through and flaking.
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Ancho Chile Honey Granola on Summer Tomato Salad

Ancho Chile Honey Granola adds a sweet and savory crunch to soups, salads, baked fish and more.If someone says “granola” and do you instantly think sweet, crunchy and  . . . spicy?  Probably not, but I’m here to share my recipe for Ancho Chile Honey Granola — it might just be the most delicious and versatile granola recipe ever. The secret is a dash of ancho chile powder — don’t worry, ancho chiles (referred to as poblano peppers when fresh) aren’t super hot, they are the sweetest of the dried chiles and most commonly used in authentic Mexican cooking.

Tomato Salad with Ancho Chile Honey Granola

Ancho Chile Honey Granola can be made in a skillet on the stove top in less than 10 minutes. Packed with pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia seeds, this easy granola recipe is a fantastic way to get the benefits of the heart healthy fats that nuts and seeds offer.It’s lightly sweetened with honey to complement the mild ancho heat.Use the savory-sweet granola to top a tomato salad (as pictured), to add a crunch factor to green salads, atop soups, as a crispy topping on baked fish or chicken — or simply eaten straight out of the container!

 

Ancho Chile Honey Skillet Granola ingredients

Oh, and you’re going to LOVE that it’s super easy to make — just requiring 10 minutes in a skillet on the stove top rather than the lengthy baking of traditional granola recipes. I originally created this recipe for the Living Litehouse Blog at LitehouseFoods.com, check it out — I’m a big fan of their Instantly Fresh Herbs.

Have you every tried a savory granola? What is your favorite flavor of granola — spicy or sweet?  Please share in the comments below? XOXO, Jennifer 

 

 

Ancho Chile Honey Granola
Print Recipe
Add a slightly spicy, slightly sweet kick to your salads, soups and entree recipes with this savory granola -- also great for a "right out of the bag" snack.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ancho Chile Honey Granola
Print Recipe
Add a slightly spicy, slightly sweet kick to your salads, soups and entree recipes with this savory granola -- also great for a "right out of the bag" snack.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
For Salad
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil to large skillet and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Add pepita seeds, slivered almonds and chili powder to skillet and stir for 1 – 2 minutes or until beginning to toast. Add honey and stir to combine.
  3. Mix oats, chia seeds, dried cilantro and sea salt to skillet, stirring well to coat with honey mixture. Continue to stir over medium heat for approximately 5 – 6 minutes longer, taking care that honey doesn’t start to burn.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes in skillet. Transfer to air-tight container using spatula to break up any pieces stuck to skillet.
  5. Make salad by slicing tomatoes and sprinkling with yellow bell pepper and cilantro. Top with a dollop of ranch dip and ancho chile honey granola.
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FAST! Beef Tenderloin and Tomato Pizza with Ancho Crema

Use leftover beef steak, fresh tomatoes and naan bread to make a easy weeknight meal.

I’d hard to imagine there would EVER be beef tenderloin left on the platter at my house – but there was this weekend! That’s because I cooked an extra hunk so that we’d have “leftovers on purpose” for a couple easy weeknight recipes that were floating around in my head. I had to threaten all the boys to keep their dirty meat-stealing mitts of this extra steak, and once they saw the More-eo Blondie Bars I made for dessert, they had moved on to new conquests.

This southwestern-inspired naan pizza recipe uses leftover steak dressed up with fresh tomatoes and an creamy ancho pepper drizzle.

So, the great thing about this Beef Tenderloin & Tomato Pizza with Ancho Crema is that you can use thin slices of any leftover steak like top sirloin, ribeye, flat iron — or even fajita meat! I also used naan bread for “let’s make dinner in five minutes” convenience, but feel free to do a homemade traditional crust or even a cauliflower crust if you prefer.

Tomatoes are an abundant source of lycopene, vitamin B6 and other important nutrients.The toppings are fresh and healthy with a southwestern spin – cilantro, queso fresco, hatch green chilies and a trifecta of colorful tomatoes. Red, yellow and orange – they were almost too beautiful to eat!  But gobble them up because I know how great the abundance of lycopene and vitamin B6 found in tomatoes is for athletes — you can learn more on the topic of tomatoes and working out in a post I wrote for CorePower.com.

Beef Tenderloin & Tomato Pizza with Ancho Crema Recipe

  • 4 8-inch diameter pieces of naan bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium yellow tomato, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1 medium red tomato, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 1 medium orange tomato, seeded and sliced thinly
  • ½ cup chopped fire-roasted hatch green chilies (or can use canned)
  • 1 cup of crumbled queso freco
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 8-ounce pre-cooked beef tenderloin steak (or other steak) sliced thinly across grain.
  •  1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder
  • Avocado for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  2. Lay naan bread on a baking sheet and brush tops with olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic salt and pepper flakes.
  3. Layer each crust with tomato slices and green chilies. Sprinkle with queso fresco cheese.
  4. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes or until edges of bread turning golden brown and cheese beginning to bubble.
  5. Remove from oven and top with thinly sliced steak that is room temperature or has been lightly warmed — taking care not to over reheat it and make tough.
  6. To make crema, whisk together Greek yogurt, Worcestershire sauce and chili powder in small bowl. Drizzle on top of pizzas. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with avocado, if desired. Serves 4.

Slice of healthy naan bread pizza.What toppings do you like to put on your pizza? Please share in the comments below:

#SlowCookerMeals – Ancho Mama’s Pot Roast Recipe & Tacos!

Taught a class on economical cuts of beef last night – ground beef immediately comes to mind when the word “budget” is tossed around. However, top sirloin and chuck roast are both versatile cuts that can stretch your family’s food allowance and still give you that “mmmmmm” satisfaction that comes along a nice, hearty and yet healthy beef dinner.

win me slow cookerI’ve been in slow-cooker mode for the past few weeks and want to remind you about my giveaway for a programmable slow cooker from Hamilton Beach – this modern convenience will transform your life. I broke in this bad boy with Honey Balsamic Chicken (with 3 recipes) earlier this week.  Typically when I pull the slow cooker out of the cabinet, I think of time-honored comfort foods like a fork-tender, juicy pot roast.

 

jennifer fisher thefitfork beef chuckA chuck roast is THE cut of choice when it comes to fall-apart, fork-tender deliciousness.  This budget-friendly hunk of meat may look intimidating, but there is no way you can mess it up with any type of liquid-based, low-and-slow cooking method like braising or the slow cooker. Chuck roast in the slow cooker will rock your world, just add some chopped up veggies, a little broth, the spices you like and then WALK AWAY. IT’S JUST THAT EASY. I now reclaimed the time I need to manage my crazy life and workout routine —  and even indulge in frivolous hobbies  like gardening, reading and catching up with friends.

If you love southwestern foods, you’ll be all over this slow cooker recipe for Ancho Mama’s Pot Roast.  Ancho is just a dried poblano pepper –  this flavor profile adds a mild heat and smoky flavor to recipes. For convenience, I buy ground ancho chili powder at the market – you can usually find the McCormick brand on the spice aisle.

ancho chili slow cooker pot roast

Ancho Mama’s Pot Roast Recipe for Slow Cooker (aka Crock Pot)

  • 1 2 ½ to 3 lb boneless beef chuck pot roast
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 16-ounce container salsa (I used fresh salsa from produce dept.)
  1. Trim fat from meat and cut down, if needed, to fit into 4 qt. slow cooker.
  2. Add onion and corn to slow cooker and top with meat.
  3. Sprinkle garlic, chili powder, pepper, and salt over meat. Pour salsa over spices.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat in slow cooker for 8 – 10 hours or on high heat for 4 – 5 hours.
  5. Transfer roast to rimmed baking sheet and shred. Top with strained corn, onion and salsa mixture.
  6. Serves 8

So how can you serve this delicious dinner – well, one night we usually have it over rice and the next night is TACO NIGHT!  You can’t beat the leftovers on this recipe for tacos, quesadillas or mixed into a breakfast hash.

shredded ancho chili chuck roast tacos

Also, check out these 23 slow cooker meals from Cooking Light — I love this collection of recipes that represent a healthy, balanced eating plan. Easy to make comfort food CAN be good for you!

slow cooker ideas from cooking light

What would you do with the time saved by preparing dinner in a slow cooker? Please share in the comments.