Miracle berry sweetened dinner

Any Top Chef fans out there? Do you guys remember a few weeks ago when the chefs had to study up on Modernist Cuisine and then cook a quickfire meal with modernist techniques? Chris Jones started his meal with a miracle berry tablet, which reminded me I got these babies in my Christmas stocking last year (from Adam of course)!!!

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Have you heard of miracle berries before? Wikipedia tells me it’s also called synsepalum dulcificum (way harder to pronounce!) which is a plant with a berry that makes sour things taste sweet. The tablets are basically ground up miracle berries – all natural Smile

Last night we had our friends Jim and Liz over for dinner to experiment with this “mysterious fruit tab.” We started the dinner by dissolving a tablet on our tongues and then dove into lemons, limes and grapefruit. Not gonna lie, it was a little scary to take the first bite! Would it really work?

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Action shots!

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Wow, guys. This was crazy. Seriously insane. Everything was SO SWEET – I honestly had no idea how sweet they’d be (and started getting a little nervous that our whole dinner will taste like pure sugar). Biting into a lime and being overwhelmed by its sweetness was surreal (the limes were the sweetest – almost inedible at first because of how sweet they were).

We calmed our palettes for a minute with these clover rolls, which had nothing to do with our experiment but delicious nonetheless. Definitely a must-make again recipe!

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Aside from the rolls which were a last minute decision (a brilliant last minute decision!), the rest of the dinner all centered around citrus. I looked for recipes that utilized oranges (already sweet) but used lemons and grapefruit instead, knowing they would be made sweeter because of the tablets.

Grapefruit and avocado salad with a citrus dressing (here is the base recipes, I subbed grapefruit for oranges in everything)

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Jalapeno citrus salmon (based on this recipe, I used half grapefruit, half lemon juice for the glaze)

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My plate:

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My beverage of choice for the night – it had citrus notes which turned sweet. The beer tasted kind of like a beer cocktail as a result. I liked it Smile

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The effect lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours and over the course of dinner we definitely felt it fade. The citrus still tasted very sweet but we could start slowly also tasting mild sour notes. Luckily non-citrusy components made the meal a real dinner – salmon, avocado, jalapenos all stayed true to themselves Smile

Of course we had to finish the meal with some lemon sherbet. This particular brand was super creamy – the perfect ending to a sweet citrus meal!

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This was super fun!! Apparently hot sauce and radishes should have been part of our experiment too. I may just have to keep playing around with this stuff. It’s sort of trippy in a good way Winking smile

Would you want to try this stuff? What would you make? I may use these for nights when my sweet tooth won’t stop nagging. A wedge of lemon would totally do the trick!

Healthy and Sane flashback: sweet and spicy glazed salmon

Healthy and Sane has come a long way over the past three plus years. I’d like to think I’ve become a better and more adventurous cook. I’ve changed the blog format from journal-style to random-style (heh). I’ve stopped counting calories and continue to explore what diet-free living means to me. And while I still have a lot to learn about food photography, I know the picture quality on this little blog has improved. The very first post (and many to closely follow) definitely required some imagination!  I’m happy you took the leap and tried a lot of the recipes I shared here with you regardless!

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So here is the deal. I want to bring some old favorites back. I want to share them with you again. I want you to SEE, not just imagine, how delicious they are. And then hopefully even more of you will be inspired to make them. I’m definitely having a lot of fun making them again!

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Let’s start with a little flashback going back to December 2009… when I had my parents and aunt from Russia over for dinner.  When I told you that this Cooking Light recipe for sweet-spicy glazed salmon was a recent favorite. It comes together in less than 15 minutes and is certainly impressive and delicious enough to serve to company. The salmon gets a quick sprinkling of salt and pepper and then bakes for 10-12 minutes. In the mean time, you can work on the sweet and spicy glaze made of brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar and mustard (I now use 100% dijon in place of Chinese mustard). The salmon is finished with a good slathering of the sauce. It’s shiny and sticky and finger-licking good.

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Drooooool.

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Of course you’ll need a side dish for the salmon. May I recommend this Food & Wine recipe for roasted brussels sprouts with capers, walnuts and anchovies? [Originally found through The Sweets Life] These babies are roasted at the same temperature and the dressing also contains mustard, which makes these two just meant for each other! I cut the oil in the dressing quite a bit and used a little less anchovies (PS – I hope you’re not scared of them, they are salty and just melt into the dressing. Don’t skip them!). This meal was so good that Adam broke the “no fish in the office” rule and took the leftovers (which were originally meant for me) to work for lunch the next day. He said it was worth the looks he got Winking smile

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I’m very seriously considering making these brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving this year. I loved how the sweet caramelized brussels sprouts were balanced by the salty/acidic dressing. Delicious!

PS – The photos were taken in my new “photo studio” with a custom white balance and dimmed overhead lights. I like how much more vivid the colors are. The gorgeous orange hue of salmon helped of course! Smile

Do you have any old favorites you’d like to bring back? Also…

Are you making any veggie sides for Thanksgiving? Share some recipes with me, I’m still trying to finalize my contribution to the table!

Meal planning follow through

You know how I talked about my love of meal planning? Well, it’s true. I LOVE it. Unfortunately, I often get a little too ambitious/excited about all the delicious things I could be making, so I make a crazy long list and then don’t really follow through. I often get tired after a day of work or upset about something, and end up eating random stuff instead of following through with the plan.

This week, however, I was on a mission to finally make things that have been on my to-make list for AGES. I bought the ingredients weeks ago and this week was the week!!! Wanna see what I’ve been up to in my kitchen? Come, come!!

Jen posted about these salmon burgers last August during her burger week and raved about them. I love smoked salmon and thought it was such a fun addition to the mix.

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Unfortunately wild salmon is very lean and I overcooked these. They tasted like dry smoked salmon patties – the sauce was the only saving grace. I mixed greek yogurt with sriracha and diced grape tomatoes. They added some spice and freshness. :)

The next night I wanted to make something with goat cheese. I cooked some ww pasta, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, threw in some leftover lamb sausage and then topped it all with creamy sundried tomato and goat cheese sauce.

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I was a bit disappointed with how thin the sauce turned out… but it ended up thickening significantly as it cooled.

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Adam actually said this was one of the best things I’ve made in a while! After a few bites I was hooked too – creamy and slightly tangy, with a pronounced sun-dried tomato flavor and just a hint of nuttiness from walnuts.

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Btw, I only used 2-3T of sun-dried tomato olive oil (from the jar the tomatoes were in) instead of 7. This was plenty rich as is!

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Next up, a craving hit. I NEEDED cheesecake asap. Although I live across the street from the Cheesecake Factory, I stay away from their 1,000+ calorie slices.

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Instead, I went with an old (healthier!) favorite – honey yogurt cheesecake bars (ick, my photos have improved over the years, huh?).

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I did have some meyer lemons so meyer lemon cheesecake bars were born (I added a bunch of juice and zest and subbed agave nectar for honey to let the lemon flavor stand out).

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Can you see how light these are? They taste decadent but also very airy unlike the more traditional dense cheesecakes. I really love this recipe!

Agave isn’t as sweet as honey so these weren’t sweet enough for my liking (and the meyer lemon flavor was still lost) so I drizzled some maple syrup over the bars once cooled. I guess they ended up being maple syrup cheesecake bars! :D

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Whatever you call them, these were delicious! How would you make the lemon flavor be more pronounced? I was afraid about too much liquid if I continued to add lemon juice….

Last recipe! I told you I was busy in the kitchen this week!!! GRANOLA.

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While most of you (from what I read ;) ) seem to be obsessed with cereal and granola and need a lock on your cupboards, I’m much more of a trailmix/nut/cookie girl. Cereal, as delicious as it is, isn’t a “trigger” food for me.

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That was apparently because I’ve never made homemade granola – totally different ball game! I made Flour Bakery‘s granola last month and was amazed at how much I loved it. In fact, I ate a whole container-worth in just a matter of a few days… and it was supposed to be “for Adam.”

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So this week I tried again. I followed NY Times’ recipe for olive oil granola (found through Tri to Cook).

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I thought you could just throw everything in and bake, but I learned a lesson here. Yeah, someone didn’t read the instructions well! :shock: Add the dried fruit at the end - my beautifully sweet dried apricots turned into rocks!!! No worries, I picked them out and carried on with my newly established granola obsession.

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Adam said it was the best granola he’s ever had!! I actually can’t choose between this one and Flour’s – both are fantastic. A little salty, crunchy, nutty. Yeah, I’m going to be honest – this granola has been enjoyed more often than not, straight out of the jar. And I’m ok with it :D

If you meal plan, how often do you deviate from the plan? I was so proud for following through because there is not much better than a delicious homemade meal. :mrgreen:

On next week’s agenda – take ice cream and granola bars off the list. I hope to report back next week with some pictures for evidence ;)

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