Last Minute Ideas for Grill – Burgers, Bananas & More Recipes!

LaI’m not a plan-aheader. I used to make lists, follow detailed workout schedules and fret about the future. I’d also worry what we were going to eat days in advance — not that meal planning is a bad thing, actually it’s awesome. It’s just right now, where I am in life coupled with how busy my family is, there is just no telling who will be home for dinner when.  So typically, I just wing it knowing that if I keep lean meats in the freezer and fresh produce in the fridge, I can always whip up a quick and reasonably healthy meal out on the grill. Lucky to be in Austin where I can pretty much grill year-round.

Showing folks how to grill (indoors) at Whole Foods with Sarah from Mix 94.7 !

Showing folks how to grill (indoors) at Whole Foods with Sarah from Mix 94.7 !

Grilling is one of my cooking methods; I’ve taught classes on it and you could say I flip for it! Not only does it make beef, chicken, fish and all the veggies (and fruits) taste fantastic, it’s a healthy way to prepare food because you are not adding any additional fats.  However, research has shown that meats cooked over high heat can cause carcinogens to form — but there are easy ways to keep grilling safe. Namely, marinate if possible to create an “invisible” barrier, clean the grill grates, par cook thicker cuts in microwave, prevent and flare ups of fire by cooking over medium heat – these will all help carcinogens heterocyclic amine (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from forming. However, if you do get crispy bits, don’t freak – just cut that part off.

Here are some great grilling recipes for a last-minute BBQ bash! Enjoy!

Sirloin Cobb Kebab - Your favorite entree salad on a stick!

Sirloin Cobb Kebabs with Ranch Viniagrette

jennifer fisher - grilled bananas - main photo option1

Grilled Chocolate Raspberry Banana Boats

Mojo Chicken Breast and Grilled Citrus -- perfect for spring and summer entertaining.

Mojo Chicken Breasts with Grilled Citrus

Seared Steak and Mango Thai Noodle Salad

Seared Thai Steak Salad

Grill apricots to magnify their flavor and toss on an easy dale salad!Grilled Apricot Kale Salad (add grilled shrimp to make this one an entree)

Beef Burger Bonanza

Enjoy ALL the burgers with this round up of unique hamburgers – and, BTW, I have no guilt about eating one now and then.

What are you grilling today?  Please share in the comments!

Kebabs at the Lake & Obstacle Course WOD

 

jennifer beef for kebabs

Ready to make 200+ Beef Kebabs!

Wow, I had a busy weekend – how about you?! Friday and Saturday were spent shopping, prepping and putting on a cooking demonstration for a fundraiser ultimately benefiting the Flatwater Foundation, an important organization providing families with access to mental health support while dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

dtc_board

The final event takes place on June 9th, when a group of stand-up paddlers will complete a 21-mile course during an all-day event called “Tyler’s Dam that Cancer” – every SUP-er raises funds as part of their participation, so I was so happy to help friends with this event so close to their hearts. I’m hoping next year I can join them out on the lake!

Thankful for my hunky hubby who did all the hard work!

Thankful for my hunky hubby who did all the hard work!

The friend who hosted this party had such an awesome backyard on the lake, it was a little hard to keep my mind on the  “lean beef is good for you” message I was giving on behalf of the Texas Beef Council with all the boats and beverages floating around! Usually, I just do the “show and tell,” while a grill-master experienced in feeding a crowd does the heavy cooking – however this time, everyone was booked and it was just me! Wow, putting together over 200 kebabs is a lot harder than I thought and thank goodness I recruited my husband to do all the grilling while I entertained the crowd with my fit foodie antics.

The recipe chosen for this evening is one of my favorites for the grill – Mojo Beef Kebabs.  Check it out, I even have a video.

jennifer fisher_thefitfork_mojo beef kabobs

 

 

searing grillSunday was busy getting the kids ready for a week of end-of-school events – concerts, finals, SATs, field trips and more. Amazingly I did find a bit of time to experiment on another grilling recipe I’ve developed for Hamilton Beach and their really cool Searing Grill. I can’t divulge the recipe now, but stay tuned. The post will run in mid-June and I will also be giving away one of the grills – whoohooo!

All this running around makes me feel like I’m navigating a never-ending obstacle course, I’m sure you’ve felt like this too?! So, to stay in shape for all of life’s crazy ups and downs and detours, try this Obstacle Course Workout I created for Core Power.

Core Power Workout

 

corepower summer saleYou know I love my Core Power – it is such a convenient way to take in quality protein after a hard workout at the gym. You don’t want to waste that 30 minute window to refuel with protein and carbs to help muscles recover. Check out the Summer Sale – when you take advantage of  Subscribe & Save for home delivery, you’ll get $5 off  your favorite @CorePower shakes http://bit.ly/CPSaleAmazon.

Answer me this – What did you do this weekend? What is your favorite meat to eat on a stick? Have you ever done an obstacle race and if so, would you do another? 

 

Sunday Dinners | New Tradition with Salads & Skewers

Do you have any recollections of traditional Sunday dinners with grandparents, parents, siblings and other relatives all gathered around the table? When Foodie.com asked me to share a post on the topic, I knew it would be easy because I have lots of great memories.

When I was a young working adult and newly-married wife, my grandmother and aunt would host a Sunday dinner in the middle of the afternoon complete with huge roast, ham or turkey and smorgasbord of sides – plus there was always a super yummy dessert. This spread was cooked with so much care and attention, the frequent non-family guests would always think we were celebrating some sort of special occasion – and we were! The special occasion was the company of each other and reminiscing about our collective past and sharing dreams for the future – in addition, there were always plenty of funny jokes and good-natured ribbing to go around. An extra perk for me was to see the making of secret family recipes firsthand and to learn great food tips from these two fabulous home chefs in the family.

Classic #throwback scene from a Sunday dinner at grandparent's house.

Classic #throwback scene from a Sunday dinner at grandparent’s house.

My grandmother is long gone and I live in a different city from my aunt today. But, I am blessed to have parents now living nearby and three children of my own; that’s why we try to get together as often as possible to share meals – and happy news, hopeful plans and lots of hugs.  Often these meals don’t happen on Sunday and they are usually not as elaborate as the traditional meals prepared by the earlier mentioned matriarchs – but we are still together breaking bread and making memories. Sometimes we do pizza as a treat for the kids, but often I try to keep it healthy by putting quick and nutritious salads and grilled kebabs on the menu

In addition to making kebabs outdoors on the grill, whipping up a big entrée salad is one of my favorite Sunday dinner ideas – especially on those busy weekends that are packed full of sports, church and volunteer activities. A big salad, like my recipe for Speedy Salad Nicoise, come together in just a few minutes, especially if you have already pre-grilled or roasted your lean protein. That’s one of my favorite tips for a busy week – I’ll crockpot a big chuck roast or grill a huge tray of chicken breasts or salmon to eat throughout the week.  Add a rustic loaf of bread, some flavorful compound butter . . . . and uncork a bottle of wine (plus apple cider for the kids) and you have all the makings for a special meal that brings together those who are near and dear. Salad with olives tuna tomatoes green beans

Speedy Salad Nicoise Recipe
Serves:  4

  • 3/4 lb. trimmed green beans
  • 4 small red potatoes
  • 1 head of Bibb, Boston or artisanal Romaine lettuce
  • ½ pint halved red and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup drained Nicoise olives
  • 2 (4-oz) pouches drained premium albacore tuna steaks
  • 2 Tbsp. drained capers
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives
  • 4 oz. Red Wine Olive Oil Vinaigrette
  1.  Add eggs to large pot of water and bring to a boil; allow to gently boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water. Drain, remove shells and let eggs cool. Slice or quarter eggs lengthwise; set aside.
  2. Add the green beans to pot of water and par-boil for 2 minutes. Lift out with tongs and rinse in colander with cold water.
  3. Return the water in pot to a boil, adding more water if needed. Add the potatoes and boil for 15 minutes or tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl to cool. Peel potatoes and quarter or cut in large chunks.
  4. On a large platter, arrange the lettuce, sliced eggs, green beans, potatoes, halved tomatoes, and olives. Drain tuna steaks from their packing liquid and place in center of salad; sprinkle with capers. Dust entire salad with parsley and chives. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Serves 4.
Tuna jar salad

Bottle up your leftovers in a jar for Monday lunch!

And, if you have leftovers you can bottle them up for lunch on Monday. Just pile everything in a Mason jar with the sturdiest ingredients on the bottom (including the dressing) and the most delicate on top. When hunger strikes, turn the jar upside down, give a few shakes and pour on a plate (or eat straight from the jar)!

I’d love to hear your favorite Sunday dinner memory or recipe, please share in the comments!

This post was sponsored by Foodie.com.

Quick Beef Kofta Kebabs & Global Kitchen #Giveaway

beef meatball kebobs

Winner, winner, lean beef dinner! My super-fast, super tasty meal tonight, Quick Beef Kofta with Smokey Paprika Yogurt Sauce, was inspired from a recipe from a new cookbook I was sent to review, Cooking Light’s Global Kitchen (giveaway at bottom of post). A keeper on so many levels — my boys gobbled up this healthy recipe (skewered meat, grunt) without any suspicious looks of me serving up something new, the lean protein really took care of my  own personal “hangry” mood, and the dish was so fast to make, I had it done well before it was time to take off to soccer practice.

jennifer fisher pullup

Fueled by lean beef, are you?

If you’ve never heard of Kofta before, it’s probably because it’s not a dish from ‘round these parts. The dish originates in the Middle East and is basically what us here  in ‘merica would call a meatball on a stick. What’s not to like, right?! The traditional recipe for Kofta is typically made with ground lamb, but certainly any ground meat will substitute. So, y’all that know me probably know where I’m heading with this . . . . . GROUND BEEF!  I’ts no secret my body RUNS on beef and another way to use lean ground beef makes me happy, happy, haller-lu-ya!

I was excited to try out the GreatO brand and, for full disclosure, the company sent me a free coupon for some ground beef to try out.  I’ve seen this product at the store and wondered what it was all about.  This red meat is marketed as “abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids” with “TWICE the Omega-3s of grass feed beef” and “up to 200x more than ordinary ground beef.”  When I read the corporate information online, I found it very interesting. This company actually works at the very front end of the cattle industry to create a more nutritionally sound food product.

GreatO actually has an aligned supply chain where producers feed their animals GreatO-Shelf-02-540x410following a proprietary feed mix and protocol that is specifically designed to maximize Omega-3 fatty acids – the whole process is literally farm to fork (uh, well, except you have to cook the ground beef yourself).  The GreatO brand of ground beef says their 80%/20% ground beef offers 200mg Omega-3 fatty acids per 4-oz serving compared to virtually none for traditional ground beef and 70mg for grass finished beef (assuming adequate access to quality fresh green grass).

Now, some things to note because I want to give an honest review. There are other dietary sources significantly more robust in Omega-3s; for example, a 4-oz serving of wild salmon has 2 full grams. Other choices like shrimp and soybeans and even cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and winter squash all have way, way more Omega-3s than this “omegafied” beef.  If I’m doing the math right, 200mg of Omega3 in a serving of greatO beef equates to just 0.2 grams.  I’m not knocking the good intentions; only suggesting that there are more efficient ways. Anyhow, I think the GreatO brand is a great choice for the consumer who feels he or she might not be getting enough of this important nutrient in their diet.  Plus, GreatO ground beef tastes gooooooooood and taste and flavor go a long way in my book. Also, this product is not “grass finished,” meaning animals DO spend time in a feed lot, albeit eating a special Omega3 rich diet.  This issue doesn’t bother me at all; I’ve been to feedlots before and seen how the animals are treated, the conditions, and so on. It’s not at all what is portrayed in the media and these industry glimpses definitely reassured my choice to (usually) buy a feedlot finished product.  So, to conclude, I would definitely buy the GreatO brand for myself and family, as my budget permits, it’s definitely not as expensive as wild salmon (but I’ll have to work harder to get my 4 gram recommended daily allowance of Omega-3s for the day).

Ground Beef Kebob and Moroccan salad

So, I’m finally getting to the meat of the post – my own special recipe for Quick Beef Kofta with Smokey Paprika Yogurt Sauce.  At the end of the recipe you’ll see the giveaway link for the awesome Cooking Light’s Global Kitchen cookbook.  By the way, Kofta is usually served the traditional way over some sort of fancified rice or wrapped in warm flatbread. Instead I plated it with a side of Moroccan Spinach Salad with Pistachios & Apricots — I’ll share the details on that another day.

Quick Beef Kofta with Smokey Paprika Yogurt Sauce Recipe

  • 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup finely minced white onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For sauce:

  • 6 oz cup of 0% fat plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Add ground beef, onion, parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika and salt to bowl. With spatula or clean hands work onions and spices into beef. From into 12 oblong, foot-ball shaped patties, approximately 2 ounces each.

Heat large, non-stick grill pan over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan, cooking approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side (only flip once to keep grill marks).  These may also be prepared on an outdoor grill using skewers.

While kofta is cooking, prepare yogurt sauce by combining yogurt, paprika, lemon juice Worcestershire, and cayenne pepper in a small dip dish.

To serve, skewer patties (if you haven’t already done so) for easy dipping into the sauce. Serve on a salad, over brown rice or in warmed flatbread.

Serves 6 (2 each).

Cold or rainy? Cook these ground beef kebabs indoors on a grill pan.

Cold or rainy? Cook these ground beef kebabs indoors on a grill pan.

globalDon’t miss out on entering to win a copy of Cooking Light’s Global Kitchen – The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy! As part of the Cooking Light Blogger’s Connection, I was sent a copy of this inspiring cookbook to review and another cookbook to giveaway. I seriously LOVE this cookbook, it has so many adventurous, flavorful ideas to get me out of my “what to make for dinner” rut. There are mouthwatering dishes from every continent and lots of drool-inducing photos.  Plus, each of the 120 recipes comes with complete nutritional info.

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Oh, F-word | Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with Sriracha-Orange Glaze for Dinner

Oh, F word. And by “F word” I mean fat. Seventy two hours into my quest to eat 180 grams of healthy fat a day for 10 days is proving harder than I imagined. I’m doing this as a fat-loading phase of a marathon nutrition plan. I’ve had avocado, almonds and eggs.  I put real cream in my tea. I was thinking whole plain Greek yogurt would be yummy, but am finding it actually hard to find at the grocery store. Everything is marketed as fat-free, low-fat, reduced-fat or I-can’t-believe-its-not-fat! I did find one large carton of yogurt that had nearly half its calories made from creamy goodness, but the expiration date was looming. Conspiracy!

Eggs, avocado and cheese only got me 1/9th of the way to my 180 gram fat goal.

Eggs, avocado and cheese only got me 1/9th of the way to my 180 gram fat goal.

I was planning a fabulous beef dinner crisped up in rendered fat, but keep forgetting to pull the roast out of the freezer. That will happen this weekend, but I still needed dinner inspiration for tonight. With salmon and bacon on hand, it didn’t take long to realize that these two high-fat proteins would pair up like fine wine and Cheetos (really, try it). With salmon rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids and the bacon sputtering with a hefty dose of (one might argue) less-healthy saturated fats, it only took a mere bamboo skewer to bring together these two opposing forces of dietary fat. You can call the fat combo “naughty and nice” or you can call it “yin and yang,” but why not just make this recipe for Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with Sriracha-Orange Glaze and call it a damn good thang?!  

jennifer fisher thefitfork bacon wrapped salmon kebabs sriracha

Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with Sriracha-Orange Glaze Recipe

  • 8 ounces wild-caught sockeye salmon, skin off
  • 6 slices of hardwood smoked bacon
  • Zest from one orange
  • Juice from one orange
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade (all-fruit, no added sugar)
  • 6 6-inch bamboo skewers

jennifer fisher thefitfork raw kebabs1) Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent burning.Cut salmon into 6 equal-sized strips. Thread onto skewers. Wrap skewered salmon with one slice of bacon.

jennifer fisher thefitfork salmon kebabs grill pan

2) Heat grill pan to medium-high heat. Pan grill kebabs for approximately 4 minutes on each side (including sides), for a total of approximately 16 minutes or until bacon is crisped and salmon cooked through.

3) While kebabs are grilling, prepare glaze by adding juice, tamari, Sriracha and marmalade into a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for approximately 1 minute, stirring once, or until heated through.

jennifer fisher thefitfork.com bacon salmon kebabs close up

4) Remove kebabs from heat and brush with glaze. Sprinkle with orange zest. Use any remaining glaze on the greens, noodles, rice or whatever you are serving*

Serves 2.

When I made the greens, I just kept the rendered fat from the bacon in the pan because I (ahem) wanted it. But, drain off if you wish.

When I made the greens, I just kept the rendered fat from the bacon in the pan because I (ahem) wanted it. But, drain off if you wish.

I served these Bacon-wrapped Salmon Kebabs with a version of my Kicked-up Orange Cashew Kale. Heck yeah, the cashews add a little extra crunch and healthy fat. Instead of kale, I used a 10-ounce bag of mixed greens (turnip, collard and mustard). By the time it cooks down, that big bag (which isn’t all yet in the pan above) serves just the two of us. Convenient because I still  can’t get my kids to eat cooked greens; pretty sure I wouldn’t as a teenager either.

Sirloin Cobb Kebabs with Ranch Vinaigrette Recipe #LivingWell

Earlier in the Fall, I traveled to Chicago to visit with the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner people and attend their #LiveWell event. While I mentioned this tasty trip a while back on the blog, all the (ahem) hard studying and sampling of lean beef distracted me from sharing one of my favorite parts of the trip – a recipe challenge!

Scene of the showdown - The Chopping Block in Chicago

Scene of the showdown – The Chopping Block in Chicago

Our blogging, beef-eating group gathered at The Chopping Block, a popular cooking school in the Windy City, and divided up into teams.  I was partnered up with the perfect cooking clique; we were truly “a cut above.” With Amee, the CrossFitting, book-writing mama , from Amee’s Savory Dish wielding bamboo skewers on one side and Shaina, also an author and epicure, from Food for my Family ready to whisk, there was no way we could lose this showdown. Oh, I missed the memo that this was not, in fact, a contest! However, trying to be creative under the time and ingredient constraints, thinking it was a cook-off, is what made it all the more fun!

cobb kebob team

Our team was charged with making over a traditional recipe – Cobb Salad. This iconic entrée salad was only meant to be our inspiration; we could concoct anything we pleased as long as it was a healthy, quick fix. Oh yeah, and it had to include top sirloin steak (which by the way is one of the 29 lean cuts of beef, about 150 calories per cooked 3-ounce serving and under 6 grams of fat).

jennifer chopping block

I use top sirloin all the time for the grill, especially kebab-making (check out these Mojo Beef Kebabs). The collective creative wheels didn’t spin long with our wing-it-and-bring-it party of three. In a matter of minutes, Amee, Shaina and I were grabbing up fresh produce and supplies from the “ingredient bar” to make (drumroll, please) . . . . . Sirloin Cobb Kebabs!

sirloin cobb kebobs

Sirloin Cobb Kebabs with Ranch Vinaigrette Dressing

 Ingredients for the kebabs:

  • 1 ½ lbs top sirloin, cut into 2” bite size pieces
  • 2 red peppers, cut into 2” size pieces
  • 1 pint golden cherry tomatoes, keep whole
  • 3-4 large romaine leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese (block), cut into 2” chunks

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup light ranch dressing
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Additional ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare your medium boiled eggs (firm white and semi-firm yolk) by placing them into a small pot and cover with cold water.  Bring water to a full boil, then turn off heat and cover with a lid and set the timer for 6 minutes.  When the timer goes off, immediately place eggs in an ice bath to stop the cooking process while you prepare your other ingredients.

To prepare dressing, mix together the ranch dressing, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and half of the fresh parsley. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Top with remaining parsley before serving.

For the kebabs, soak wooden skewers in water to prepare them for the grill for 10 minutes (or use metal skewers).  Toss steak cubes, peppers, cherry tomatoes and romaine in a little olive oil and season lightly with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Place steak cubes, peppers and cherry tomatoes on a skewer, leaving room for the romaine and cheese on the end (but do not add them yet).

Grill kebabs over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side (so steak is medium rare).   Lay romaine leaves onto the grill and cook quickly until each side is starting to wilt and ends are getting brown, approximately 1 minute per side.  Remove from grill, chop into large pieces for skewering and set aside.

In a grill pan, flash cook the cheese until it just gets warm and soft enough to skewer.  Now add the romaine and cheese to the kebabs.  Peel and slice your eggs and arrange on a platter with the kebabs.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with the dressing on the side for dipping.

Serves 4 to 6.

cobb kebob close up

Sirloin Cobb Kebabs