Welcome, I'm Monique! Ambitious Kitchen is a blog devoted to clean eating, healthier baked treats, plus my passion for fitness and nutrition. Bottom line, I love to inspire others in and out of the kitchen! Read more.
If I ever move anywhere else in the United States, it would be to California. Lately I’ve been thinking about the days when I used to live in Hermosa Beach. The weather was indescribably beautiful. The neon pink and orange sunsets were astounding. The wines were bold and native. The hiking trails were gruesome (in a good way).
Every year these memories come up as we approach cooler temperatures. I can already feel it happening and I’m just not ready yet. How about you?
I think one of the most important things in any relationship is finding someone who can make you laugh. Or who you can laugh along with. I’m a HUGE goofball (and pretty weird), so finding someone that understands my sense of humor is essential.
Oh, I think I forgot to tell you guys I am dating. Not serious marriage dating, just having fun and searching for that little bit of laughter in my life. Good, right? Well obviously for whoever I date it’s good. I mean, what kind of guy can resist freshly baked cookies and mexican food for dinner?
There are reasons I can’t go around cooking for all of my dates — food is a serious attachment. That’s why I only bake the life-changing cookies when I REALLY like someone. Because after those cookies, there is no turning back.
Anyway I’ll keep you posted on all of that… as if you care. But let’s pretend you do, because frankly I can’t just talk about tacos all day.
First thing’s first: How was your Memorial Day Weekend? I hope you had the chance to relax and eat some delicious food.
I was able to finally catch The Great Gatsby in theaters and HOLY heaven… Leo! I don’t think he’s been that good looking since his Titanic days. Besides staring into Leo’s eyes via theater projection screen, I was able to accomplish a lot this weekend. I cleaned my room (MAJOR DEAL), booked some flights, spent time with my family, cooked, and instagramed my food like a freak.
Yes, I’m totally one of those people.
I wish I could say I instagrammed and ate this salmon this weekend, but that’s just not truth. I actually created this dish several months ago and completely forgot about it until recently when I was strolling through my photos. Please forgive me! How could I deny you this magical meal?
This salmon. Um, words really won’t do it justice, but I’ll try to describe it in the best way I know how: through super delicious adjectives (obviously) and dramatic descriptors.
I just wanted to tell you all that I’m in a Starbucks writing this post. I’m hungrier than a lion and those little salted caramel cake pops are staring at me. Seriously, whoever invented those is a genius because I want to destroy about three of them… with my mouth.
Sorry if that was too much, but writing about food, staring at food, and smelling food is making me a little bit weird. Minus the fact that I’m already weird, so this post is just extremely weird. Got it?
Anyway I’ve gathered all of my willpower so we can chat about what’s been actually going down in my kitchen. About a month ago I posted a simple photo of tilapia on my Facebook page. Many of you asked for the recipe, so although I don’t have photos of the finished, plated meal, I thought that you would still enjoy it. But here’s some truth: half of the things I create or bake don’t end up on my blog. Sometimes it’s simply because I didn’t snap a photo; realistically it’s because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist now that I own a nice camera. Most of the food I create is made at night for dinner, so finding time to set up a photoshoot when I’m hungry can be difficult. Not to mention I only use natural lighting, so I’m a little bit bummed that it’s getting darker, earlier.
Let me introduce you what’s been happening. Usually my kitchen is a mess.
Mostly because I make a lot of pancakes. Like every morning. They’re always different and damn, they are delicious.
I promised myself that this Summer I would try to set out some time for myself each day. Lately it’s enjoying a perfectly sweet cocktail while watching tangerine painted sunsets; those moments make me want to savor summer forever.
I’ve also discovered that one of my favorite things to do is to get a little crazy cooking in the kitchen. It’s like a competition with myself; how many dishes can I create in one day?
Last Sunday, I pulled five recipes out of my head and made it my mission to finish them all before the night was over. It’s quite possible that I looked like I was on some sort of drug; every inch of kitchen counter space was filled and my pants had about nine different stains on them. Dough flew, marinades were made, and I probably chopped about 23 vegetables; it was so much fun! And no, I’m not being sarcastic.
Sometimes I believe that good things come from chaos. Just take a look at this buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth salmon.
Mmmm I lovvveeeeeee me some fish and the man behind the butcher counter at my local grocery store knows this for a fact. I have been stalking him for weeks asking when he was going to have walleye in (the Minnesota state fish). Apparently the waters have been too warm in Canada so they haven’t been able to net them. Don’t you worry though, I’ll continue to ask. I mean I’m practically there daily anyway.
Instead of walleye, he suggested I bake salmon for a sensational summer meal. Okay… he didn’t actually use the word sensational, but I felt like that’s what he was voicing to me. Anyway in an effort to make the salmon CRAZY GOOD, I marinated the life out of it with an asian inspired sweet teriyaki sauce.
HOLY. WHAT THE… it’s SO, SO GOOD. Even better than…
Well, you know I’m not sure what it’s better than. It’s just really, freaking good. The marinade is simple enough to make yourself and baking salmon is like baking chicken. No really, it is! Don’t be nervous about overcooking it, just at least give it a try for me. Pretty please?! I’ll bake you cookies if you do.
Oh, you’re convinced now? Well that was easy.
For ease, I purchased teriyaki sauce from the grocery store (soy sauce would also work), then whisked in olive oil, garlic, ginger and a little honey and brown sugar for sweetness. I poured it all over the salmon and marinated it until I got hypoglycemic hungry… like to the point of passing out. I wanted to eat my arm. What? Food is so much better when you’re ready to eat everything in sight.
Oh, and don’t you worry about that quinoa, because we’ve already discussed the ease of making it fluffy and delicious in 15 minutes or less. This time it’s cooked in a little bit of garlic salt for that bit of pizzaz. All you really need to do is stir-fry veggies and drink a little sangria… or guzzle it, I mean, whatever works best for you. I choose guzzle.
See? It’s not complicated or time consuming. And now you’ll have extra time to spend time with your honey. Or just in case your single, catch up on reality TV and pin things on Pinterest. For me? Grocery shopping and butcher stalking… totally normal!
Alright time for you to get a little crazy in the kitchen. Sensational salmon is calling your name.
Sesame Ginger Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir-fry
Delicious, healthy salmon has never tasted SO good.
For the Salmon & marinade:
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound salmon
For Quinoa Stir-fry:
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if desired
extra soy or teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients: teriyaki sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and honey. Place salmon in large ziploc bag and add marinade. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour. (I marinated my salmon in a baking pan because I ran out of ziploc bags.)
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Remove salmon from ziploc bag and place skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork. I found that 18 minutes was absolutely perfect. **See notes for additional information on cooking times.
While salmon is cooking, prepare quinoa stir-fry. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water with garlic salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add quinoa and cover; simmering until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, ginger, and sliced bell peppers; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes more. Add quinoa to vegetables, then add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes if desired.
Spoon quinoa stir-fry evenly into 4 bowls or plates. Immediately place salmon on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Glaze with extra teriyaki sauce. DIG IN!
Inspired by How Sweet Eat's Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon Salmon is very sensitive and can dry out easily if overcooked, so make sure you watch your fish! For every inch of thickness of the salmon, generally it takes about 10 minutes to cook. Usually salmon fillets are about 1 1/2 inches thick. Preparing quinoa ahead of time makes this dish even easier; simply reheat quinoa and add to stir fried veggies.
A place where I can go to have both a delicious experience and a delicious time. I just want to eat all day and bask in the sun. Hmmm… Mexico? They may have Cartels, but that won’t stop me. Homemade guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, cheese on everything. Yes please! But wait, I can’t forget about those warm salty tortilla chips. Note to self: warn dates of obsession with tortilla chips so they don’t touch the bowl.
There’s just so much comfort in the simplicity of good Mexican food.
My obsession with fish tacos began last summer when my Godfather and I went to the local Minneapolis food truck, Barrio. They happen to be known for their tacos & tequila. (Hell yes!) We spent nearly a half hour waiting in line under the beating sun. I can tell you that it was absolutely worth sweating for. The fish was beer battered, fried crisp to perfection, then wrapped between a corn tortilla and topped with a creamy slaw. I put a little habanero salsa in mine too. Such a delicious experience.