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Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Book Club Simple Celebration

A simple book club celebration

A Book Club Simple Celebration

Members of a local book club who love to cook and are great fans of A Simple Celebration, decided to change things up for their recent meeting.  Instead of getting together at a restaurant to discuss their latest literary selection, they met at a member’s home where everyone brought a different recipe from our blog.  Great idea for your book club, neighborhood pot luck, or girls night “in!”

The simple celebration got started on the right foot with St. Pete Sunshine Martinis along with Southwest Black Bean and Avocado Dip.  The Arugula Salad with Roasted Asparagus, Pears, and Manchego was next followed by Tangy Grilled Chicken and Savory Salmon on Rock Salt.  Their evening wrapped up on a sweet note with a batch of the Best Chocolate Brownies Ever.  Thanks ladies for making A Simple Celebration a member of your club!

All of the recipes mentioned can be found on our home page.  Click on side dishes, entrees, cocktails or desserts to get all the info.


Flavorful Grouper Fillets with a Crunch

Crispy Grouper

Flavorful Grouper Fillets with a Crunch

Happy Friday to all of our blog followers!  Wherever you are located, we hope a little bit of fall is coming your way and you get to enjoy the great outdoors.  Here in Florida, we are celebrating a day that won’t quite hit 90!

We are wrapping up our series on healthy, flavorful dishes with this unique grouper recipe.   This dish will even please the “I don’t like fish” eaters in your family.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 8 ounce jar salsa verde
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1 cup crumbled tortilla chips (whole grained)
  • 24 ounces of grouper (cut in 4 equal fillets)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Minced cilantro

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet.  Add salsa verde to pan and stir for several minutes.  Mix salsa with the olives and place in a glass 9 X 13 pan.  Make sure that salsa covers most of the bottom of the pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the green onion, queso fresco, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and crumbled chips.

Season grouper with salt and pepper.  Put grouper on top of salsa and turn over once to coat fish.  Top with chip and cheese mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes and let sit for several minutes.  Garnish with cilantro.  This dish goes well with the rice pilaf recipe from a previous blog.

Colorful Squash Sauté

Image 1

This healthy and colorful side dish will be on your table in minutes!

  • 1 zucchini, sliced in thin strips
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced in thin strips
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced dill
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper

Place about 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add zucchini and squash and sauté for several minutes (adding more oil if needed).  Top with dill and salt & pepper.  Serve warm.

Serves 3-4 people

Savory Flank Steak Salad

Savory Flank Steak Salad

Savory Flank Steak Salad

Another low calorie, delicious recipe from A Simple Celebration!  This dish is great to serve for a family dinner or a dinner party.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 pound flank steak, sliced at an angle in 1/4 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 10 ounces mixed greens
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

To make the marinade, combine 1/2 cup soy sauce with ginger, garlic and cilantro.  Toss the sliced beef with the marinade, and let sit in refrigerator for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Bring to room temperature on counter for 45 minutes.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, peppers, 1/2 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce.  Set aside.

Remove the flank steak from the marinade.  In a skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over high heat.  Quickly sear the flank steak for about three minutes making sure to not over cook meat (flank steak should be served medium rare).

Place greens and scallions on 4 large plates.  Top with flank steak.  Add vinaigrette to the same skillet and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Pour the sauce over the steak and greens.  Top with sesame seeds.

This recipe has around 375 calories per serving.  Serve 4.

Mango and Mint Madness Martini

Mango and Mint Madness Martini

Mango and Mint Madness Martini

Since we are eating healthy this month, let’s have a healthy cocktail!  Well,  this Madness Martini may not be low in calorie, but it has healthy mango and mint, so we felt it qualified.

For one cocktail:

  • 2 oz. rum
  • 1/2 ripe, peeled mango cut into chunks
  • 4 mint leaves (plus two sprigs for garnish)
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup*

In a cocktail shaker, add mango, mint leaves, lime juice and simple syrup.  Muddle (mash) until mango is mostly liquid.  Fill with ice, add rum and shake.  Double strain using the cocktail shaker top and a small strainer.  Pour into chilled martini glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.

*Simple syrup – Boil equal parts of water and sugar until sugar has melted.  Cool before use.  This is a common cocktail ingredient – make a large batch and keep in the refrigerator for your next cocktail celebration.

Dark-Chocolate Bark – Only 60 Calories!

Dark Chocolate Bark

Dark Chocolate Bark

We are over halfway through our healthy eating month – it’s time for chocolate!!!  Can a chocolate dessert be healthy?  Absolutely – dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and the dried fruits are high in fiber and minerals.  So let’s indulge …

  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves (6 ounces)
  • 9  ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (we like Perugina brand)
  • 3/4 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (found in baking aisle)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes.  Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.  In a glass bowl, heat two-thirds of the chocolate in the microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time until just melted.  Stir until smooth.  Add the remaining chocolate and stir until melted.  Stir in the walnuts, cherries, blueberries, and ginger until evenly coated. Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until firm enough to cut.

Cut the bark into 48 pieces (6 rows by 8 rows) and transfer to a plate.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tangy Grilled Chicken

Tangy Grilled Chicken

Tangy Grilled Chicken Ingredients

Have you ever gotten home after a long day and only have chicken in the refrigerator?  Well here is a recipe that is both easy and healthy and uses ingredients that you probably have on hand.  Serve it with a fresh vegetable and a simple salad and you have a tasty, easy, and low calorie meal.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa (a peach salsa will add sweetness)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper

Mix together, the salsa, brown sugar and mustard.  Heat up grill.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Place chicken on grill and brush generously with sauce.  Heat remaining sauce and place in a bowl and serve on the side.

Serves 4.

Hot ‘N Spicy Shrimp Dip

Hot 'N Spicy Shrimp Dip

Hot ‘N Spicy Shrimp Dip

It’s Friday night.  We’ve been eating (mostly) healthy for the month so far.  Let’s reward ourselves with a simple appetizer and a glass of wine.  This recipe’s ingredients have been adjusted to make it a healthier version:

  • 1 can artichoke hearts (14 oz.), drained and diced
  • 1 can medium deveined shrimp (4 oz.) or fresh cooked shrimp, roughly chopped
  • 1 –  3 ounce package low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup low fat mayo
  • 1/2 cup salsa (fresh or your favorite)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 green onions sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except green onions and put in a pretty pie or quiche plate.  This link is to a very nice quiche dish that comes in red, white, or blue:

Bake for 20 minutes.  Serve with vegetables, vegetable chips (we like Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips) and whole wheat crackers.

Arugula Salad with Roasted Asparagus, Pears and Manchego

Arugula, Asparagus and Pear Salad

Arugula, Asparagus and Pear Salad

This salad is a hearty side dish that can be served along a simply grilled piece of chicken or fish.  No need to add a starch!

  • 5 ounces of arugula
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 2 red Bartlett or red anjou pears, cut in thin slices
  • 1/2 cup shaved manchego cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons walnut oil, or high quality olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons champagne or pinot gris vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Dressing – Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  This can be done earlier in the day.

Preheat oven to 400℉. Line several cookie sheets with aluminum foil.

Cut or break ends from asparagus and discard.  Toss  asparagus with a small amount of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place on cookie sheet in a single layer.  Cook for about 12 minutes.

Just before serving, place arugula, basil, chives, walnuts and shallots in a large bowl.  Toss with enough dressing to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place salad on a large platter.  Top with roasted asparagus, pears and cheese and drizzle a little more dressing over the top.

Serves 6.

Seared Tuna with Ginger Noodles


Sesame Seared Tuna

Sesame Seared Tuna

This recipe is from Vicki’s Australian days.  She was a big fan of the Marie Claire by Donna Hay cookbooks and bought every new edition the day it hit the shelves.  This one is from the “Flavours” cookbook.

With less than 350 calories per serving, this is a great meal for our healthy eating  month!

  • 6 1/2 ounces dry somen  or soba noodles
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi paste
  • 1/4 cup drained pickled ginger
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 12 ounces sashimi grade tuna, cut in two pieces
  • Black & white sesame seeds (enough to coat tuna)
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi paste

Boil water in a large sauce pan.  Put noodles in boiling water and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain.  Run cool water over noodles.

Combine the oils, lime juice and wasabi paste and pour over noodles.  Add the pickled ginger and chives and toss.

Put sesame seeds on a flat plate.  Press seeds into tuna until tuna is well coated.  Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat.  Cook tuna on each side for 1 minute each or until just seared.  Cut tuna into 3/4 inch slices.

Divide the noodles among 4 large bowls and top with tuna.  Serve with soy sauce and a small dab of wasabi in a separate dipping bowl.

Here is the link to purchase your own copy of the “Flavours” cookbook.

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