East-West Shishito Pepper and Mushroom Saute

Shishito Pepper and Mushroom Saute packed with loads of veggies and bold umami taste - TheFitFork.com

Food science nerd alert – I’m talking about umami again. You know, our fifth taste receptor, the newfound “delicious essense” those Japanese waxed so poetically about in the 20th century.  It’s all about the high concentrations of glutamates and nucleotides found in certain foods and how combing these foods creates a meaty, savory crave factor that is just really hard to describe in words. In fact, research has shown that pairing up glutamate and nucleotide rich ingredients magnifies their joint umami effect up to 8 times as much.  I’ve found that using a few umami-rich ingredients in healthier recipes is an easy way to create an amazing and indulgent-seeming eating experience.

Live Fire Beef at the Salt Lick - TheFitFork.com

There was so much umami going on at the beef-centric Live Fire event I attended this week at with friends from BeefLovingTexans.com), I wish I could have taken all of you to this meat extravaganza at the famous Salt Lick in the Texas Hill Country.  Did what I had to do as a food blogger and made all the rounds to taste meaty, marvelous dishes from chefs from all over Texas. It’s amazing how versatile beef is – not only are there a zillion cuts to choose from (I even tried tongue), beef can be served up to conjure up a fond memories. Over the night, I felt like I had been at grandma’s house getting a hug from comfort food ( with the pimento cheese grits with burnt ends brisket) to being on an exotic vacation (with the Thai NY strip satay with green mango salad).

Essential Umami Ingredients to Stock your Pantry  - TheFitFork.comFind out more about umami from this past blog post, no need to rehash it all here. I’ve also curated a handy collection of essential umami pantry staples for Mode.com, check that out too! Some of the first foods people mention when asked about umami are steaks, mushrooms, red wine, fermented sauces and aged cheeses. It’s true, all these are delicious pairing. However, did you know that as far as vegetables go, mushrooms don’t have a monopoly on umami. Lot of other veggies are high in umami, including sea vegetables (like kelp), mushrooms, corn, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, winter squash, green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard and kale.

Check out my vegetable-packed recipe for  East-West Shishito Pepper, Mushroom  and Corn Saute. Almost all the ingredient are umami-rich and it tastes super “meaty” just on it’s own – but I’ve used as a topping for brisket tacos and steak, and it was pure heaven.

Umami-Rich Mushrooms, Corn & Chile Pepper Saute - TheFitFork.com

Umami-Rich Mushrooms, Corn & Chile Pepper Saute - TheFitFork.com
East-West Shishito Pepper and Mushroom Saute
Print Recipe
This easy saute of mild peppers, mushrooms, corn, and onions will rock your socks off with bold umami taste! Great as a vegetarian dish but also fantastic atop a steak or beef taco.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Umami-Rich Mushrooms, Corn & Chile Pepper Saute - TheFitFork.com
East-West Shishito Pepper and Mushroom Saute
Print Recipe
This easy saute of mild peppers, mushrooms, corn, and onions will rock your socks off with bold umami taste! Great as a vegetarian dish but also fantastic atop a steak or beef taco.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes
Servings: servings
  1. Heat olive oil in large skilled over medium-high heat.
  2. Add peppers and onion and saute for 2 minutes, or until softening.
  3. Add thawed corn and mushrooms to pepper mixture and continue to saute for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add soy sauce and stir until vegetables coated, cook for about 30 more seconds.
  5. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve as a side, on a salad, steak or taco.
Recipe Notes

This easy saute of mild peppers, mushrooms, corn, and onions will rock your socks off with bold umami taste! Great as a vegetarian dish but also fantastic atop a steak or beef taco.

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Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salad + Stability Ball WOD

We had a busy but wonderful family weekend, so I’m going to keep it short and sweet! Saturday we celebrated my oldest son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor – whew, he made it!

The Family -- Yup, I'm a Boy mom times three!

The Family — Yup, I’m a Boy mom times three!

And, Sunday, we got together with my mom (and dad) to revel in Mother’s Day. While you might think your mother is “best,” mine really takes the cake – and the corn salad! And, with that corniness out of the way, I’m excited to be sharing her family-famous Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salad recipe. Yeah, yeah – your mom makes something like this . . . but my mom makes it better!

southwestern black bean salad

Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salad Recipe

  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
  • 2 (15.5-oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large avocados, peeled, seeded and chopped*
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Place frozen corn on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir to coat and then spread out in single layer. Roast under broiler for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring once, until starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

In large bowl, place beans, chopped bell pepper, chopped onion, quartered grape tomatoes, minced jalapeno, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro and cooled corn. Add remaining olive oil (1/4 cup), lime juice, vinegar, chile powder and cumin; stir until all ingredients are coated.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Use as a side dish, topping on salad or relish for chips and tacos. Serves 12.

*Recipe can be made ahead, even overnight. However, for best results, do not peel and chop and mix in avocado until ready to serve.

Stablity Ball Workout


If you need a quick workout for this Monday morning, check out the Stability Ball WOD I created for CorePower.com.  I often use the stability ball to make basic exercises like push-ups, crunches, and squats exponentially more challenging. Because the ball is never completely still, I have to work my muscles much harder to find the balance. If you need further instructions for each specific move above, head over to Core Power to read my blow by blow.

Gone Grilling | Spice-Crusted Tenderloin Steaks and Street Corn with Chipotle Garlic Butter

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - ribeye filet grilled corn

It was a glorious day of grilling at our house last night, the aroma of succulent beef and sweet corn was drifting across the backyard thanks to an unseasonal but oh-so welcomed breeze. At one point I heard the neighboring carnivores come out of their caves to make whining, whimpering noises, but sorry folks, only enough meat to feed my famished five. Maybe next time I will invite YOU over for Spice-Crusted Tenderloin Steaks and Street Corn with Chipotle Garlic Butter!

cuts of tenderloin

If you like a lean yet tender steak that doesn’t need much fussing, you’ll love my favorite cut of beef– tenderloin (flat iron steak is a close second). Before processed and carved into steaks, this long chunk of meat sits beneath the ribs near the backbone. The muscle does very little work in the life of a cow, that’s why it’s the tenderest cut available – it practically melts in your mouth! Sometimes, with all the interchangable names that are used for beef cuts, it can get confusing to understand what you are purchasing. The diagram above shows how the muscle is further butchered into the various products we buy at the market or order off the menu.

Steaks ready to hit the grill, rubbed with flavorful spices.

Steaks ready to hit the grill, rubbed with flavorful spices.

Because this portion of beef is so tender, there is no need to use a marinade. Instead, I use a homemade spice rub to create a flavorful crust that seals in natural juices. Since I had the grill already fired up for steaks, I decided to cook the whole dinner out on it. The kids voted for street fair style corn, the summer treat that smells so yummy roasting and is extra fun to eat.  Really, I can’t even tell you how good this meal was, not a leftover scrap in sight!

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - grilling corn


Spice-Crusted Tenderloin Steaks and Street Corn with Chipotle Garlic Butter

For Chipotle Garlic Butter:

  • ½ cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced chipotle (with adobe sauce from can)

For Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or “regular” chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 6-ounce tenderloin steaks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ears corn, unhusked
  • 1 tablespoon salt


Prepare the compound butter first, so it has time to set up while corn and steaks are cooking.

In small bowl, mix together softened butter, cilantro, garlic and chipotle peppers (using a bit of the adobe sauce).  Transfer to ramekin and stick in the refrigerator to firm up while the rest of the meal is grilling.

Next prepare rub by combine all ingredients for rub in a small bowl or zip-top bag. Shake or stir well until thoroughly mixed.

Lightly brush both sides of each steak with olive oil. Press in approximately 1 tablespoon total of rub into both sides of steak. Let sit for 15 minutes.

While steaks rest with the rub, start preparing corn. Pull down outer husks on ears of corn to the base, taking care to rip them all the way off.  Pull off silk from each corn ear and discard. Pull husks back up and set in large tub of cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 – 12 minutes.

Pre-heat grill to 400 F degrees.

Pull corn out of water and shake off water. Set corn, with husks still up, onto grates of grill. Cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, or until kernels are tender. Rotate ears once during grilling.

After corn has been started for about 5 minutes, throw steaks onto the same 400 F degree grill. Cook for approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of the steak reads 135 F degrees. Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes; steaks will continue to cook on the serving platter and ultimately reach 140 to 145 F degrees (medium).

To serve, place a pat of Chipotle Garlic Butter on the husked ears of corn and center of steak.

Serves 4.

Bumper Crop Boogie | How to Blanch and Freeze Summer Vegetables

The sun-drenched colors, the succulent flavors; summer vegetables make me want to dance! In my opinion, a person can’t have too much of a good thing when it comes to summer season vegetables. But, often in the warmer months, even though I don’t have my very own garden, the produce bin in the fridge runneth over. When I see a sale on corn for under a quarter a cob, I can’t pass it up. When my parents bring me surplus zucchini from their urban community garden, I welcome the windfall. I can’t pass up a farmer’s market or roadside stand without pulling over to check out the local selections. You get the idea and it’s inspired a ton of great recipes, like my Green Chile & Pork Stuffed Zucchini.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com summer veggies

This week, I had more veggies on hand than my family could scarf down in a week. So, rather than sit there and watch them wrinkle and rot, I decided to take a few extra minutes and prep the abundance for the freezer. Not trying to go all Little-House-On-The-Prairie on you but “putting up your vegetables” for the winter, or whatever time of year, is a great way to reduce needless waste (did you know 40% of America’s food goes uneaten?) and enjoy the fresh flavors of the season later.

Getting your veggies ready for the freezer is easy; the main point to remember is that most vegetables (except for herbs, green peppers and, in my opinion grape tomatoes) will need blanching. Blanching is just another term for par-cooking vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time. The process of blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color, texture and vitamins. The type of vegetable and how big of chunks it is cut up into (if at all) dictates the amount of time to blanch. The University of Colorado Extension Services has some good tips on how to prepare, blanch and pack your veggies for the freezer.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - tray freezing veggies

How to Prepare a Jumble of Fresh Corn, Zucchini and Grape Tomatoes for the Freezer

  1. Husk and remove silk from corn.
  2. Rinse grape tomatoes and set aside. I skip blanching and put my grape tomatoes straight in freezer.
  3. Slice zucchini into 1/2 inch slices; cut slices into quarters.
  4. Boil large pot of water.
  5. Add corn and blanch (boil) for 5 minutes.
  6. After 1 minute, add zucchini and blanch for 4 minutes along with corn.
  7. While veggies are blanching, prepare a big bowl of ice water.
  8. Remove zucchini and corn with tongs or a slotted spoon and place in ice bath to stop cooking process.
  9. After a few minutes, remove veggies to clean towel to drain excess water.
  10. Use sharp knife to remove corn kernels from cob.
  11. Lay veggies (including tomatoes) in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  12. Freeze vegetables for several hours, until hardened.
  13. Repackage vegetable mix into zip-top bags, leaving a little bit of room at the top for expansion.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - frozen vegetables bag

Even though it might seem easy to dump blanched vegetables into a container for freezing, they’ll all end up hardened together into one big lump. That’s why tray freezing is so cool (pardon the pun) and totally worth the extra step involved. Whether you want a small portion or a large portion, you can scoop out exactly what you desire if you’ve tray frozen your vegetables before pouring into a freezer bag. Vegetables blanched and then frozen in this manner will have a life of at least 12 months in a freezer set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wondering how to cook this mix of tomatoes, corn and zucchini? Just thaw out a portion from your freezer stash and toss into a skillet that has been heated with oil good for sautéing. I like grape seed oil. Cook on the stove top for just a few minutes until heated through, but not overcooked and soggy. For flavor, toss in some garlic, chopped herbs and a dash of soy sauce. The mix also works great in other recipes and could easily be incorporated into my Crustless Calabacita Quiche!


“Jar” Going to Love Lunch! Ancho-Chile Chopped Chicken Salad Recipe

Genius, pure genius in a jar! I’ve been seeing these healthy-eating, eco-friendly salads splashed across the pages of my favorite food magazines, so it was only a matter of time before I had to create my own version – Ancho-Chile Chopped Chicken Salad in a Jar. The concept is simple, layer ingredients in a 2 cup capacity glass canning jar from the bottom up, starting with the most “sturdy” ingredients that won’t turn limp spitting in a bit of salad dressing and finishing with the most delicate items up top.

Perfect for lunch on the go; and that’s whether you’re stuck behind a desk or lucky enough to be picnicking after a run. While you do your thing in the morning, the salad waits patiently in the fridge or a lunch cooler. The various flavors are deliciously mingling, waiting for that final “shake up” of salad dressing just before you are ready to dig in. Eat this salad right out of the jar or spoon over a plate of baby greens if you’re feeling fancy. Not only will you be saving money by not eating out, you’ll be saving the world from the number of wasteful throwaway containers that end up in landfills.  After you’re done, just take your jar home, wash it out and start over again!

Ancho-Chile Chopped Chicken Salad in a Jar Recipe

  •  2 ounces fresh lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
  • ½ cup shredded chicken
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels, roasted
  • 1/3 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon shredded fresh cilantro

In a small lidded bottle (or with a bowl and whisk), make the dressing by adding the lime juice, olive oil, ancho chili powder, cumin and honey. Put lid on bottle and shake vigorously for about 1 minute to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

In 16-ounce canning jar, add the black beans. Pour 2 tablespoons of dressing over the beans. Next layer the remaining ingredients (leave about ½ to 1-inch of headroom at the top of jar. Reserve additional dressing for use on another day. Put lid on jar and refrigerate salad until ready to eat, even overnight. To serve, gently shake jar until ingredients are coated with dressing and somewhat “mixed” up.  Eat straight from jar or any other way you see fit!

Serves 1

Nutrition Information