Salads

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta

 

The classic example of seasonal fruit.  When strawberries are in season, I can not resist.  I say hello to these beauties during May and June when they’re plump, sweet, and juicy.  Then, I say goodbye until the following Spring.  Simply delicious this time of year.  Yup, I’m a strawberry snob and proud of it.

Strawberries

 

Perfectly ripe strawberries make a tasty and beautiful addition to a salad.  Here’s the perfect example.

When the temperature outside rises, I lack the motivation to stay inside and turn on my oven.  However, I gain plenty of motivation to head outdoors for grilling and salads. I incorporate the grilling aspect of warm weather, with my love of seasonal fruit in this beauty.  Garlicky-lemony-juicy grilled chicken, spring greens, strawberries, avocado, feta, toasted pine nuts … all tossed together with a homemade vinaigrette consisting of apple cider vinegar, Dijon, and honey.

Fire up your grill. Throw together a salad that gives proper respect to the seasonal strawberries.

Can’t beat it!

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta

 

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 2 large chicken breasts)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 10 oz baby spring greens mix
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • A small squeeze of honey (approx 1 tsp)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a medium size bowl, combine olive oil, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Mix to combine and add chicken.  Cover bowl and allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.  Remove chicken from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you plan to cook it.  Heat grill to medium-high and grill chicken for 5-8 minutes per side, or until cooked through and no longer pink.  (Note:  The 5-8 minute cook time is for larger chicken breasts. If you are cooking thin chicken breasts, cook for 3-4 minutes per side.)  Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.  Slice chicken into thin strips and reserve.

Add salad dressing ingredients to a small mason jar.  Secure lid and shake to combine.  Alternatively add ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, layer spring greens, chicken, avocado, strawberries, feta cheese, and pine nuts.  Top with salad dressing, toss, and serve.

Servings: 4

Note: The strawberries in this post were gifted to me from Driscoll’s.  Thank you for the gorgeous little beauties!

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta

 

Advertisements
Crock Pot Recipes, Main Course Recipes

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

I made this incredibly healthy and delicious chicken for a taco dinner.  Obviously this salsa chicken can be used for a multitude of different dishes, not just tacos.  Obviously your kitchen will smell great when this chicken is cooking.  And, obviously it’s simple and easy to make. (It is a crock pot recipe, after all.)

Five minutes and a few simple ingredients is all you need to get this delicious chicken simmering away.  My favorite, and the most obvious, uses for this salsa chicken are as follows. (1) Set up a “make your own” taco bar. (2) Dive into a delicious burrito bowl. (3) Make a super duper healthy taco salad.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

(1) If making tacos, simply serve with your favorite traditional taco fixings and tortillas.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

(2) If making a burrito or burrito bowl, whip up some cilantro lime rice, homemade black beans (recipe below), cabbage slaw (recipe below), pico de gallo, and guacamole.  Add some sour cream and fresh cilantro and you’ve got perfection!  If you don’t like cabbage, substitute shredded lettuce.  Add cheese if you please, and be sure to remember the tortilla chips for scooping the burrito bowl.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

(3) A super duper healthy taco salad requires shredded lettuce, fresh cilantro, pico de gallo, roasted corn, red bell pepper, fresh avocado, a squeeze of lime juice, and a mound of salsa chicken to top it off. (Hot sauce optional…or in my case, mandatory!)

Options galore.  Enjoy crock pot salsa chicken any way you choose.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz jar medium salsa
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, and finely diced (use the whole jalapeno if you like it spicy)
  • 1 oz (2 tbsp) taco seasoning, homemade or store bought
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 lbs chicken (breasts, thighs, or a combo)

Directions:

Combine salsa, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, taco seasoning, and lime juice in the bowl of your crock pot.  Stir to combine.  Add chicken. Stir to coat chicken.  Cook on High for 4 hours, or Low for 6 hours.  Chicken will be falling apart. Turn crock pot off and shred chicken in cooking liquid.  Serve chicken in tacos, in burritos/burrito bowl, or on a taco salad.

Note: Makes wonderful leftovers, and will last for several days in your refrigerator in an airtight container.

Recipe for Cabbage Slaw: Combine 3 cups shredded red cabbage, 2 chopped green onions, 1 tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar, 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Recipe for Black Beans:  Soak 1 lb dry black beans in 6 cups of water for 8 hours or overnight.  Drain beans and rinse beans well.  Add beans and enough water to cover the beans, plus another inch or 2 to a large pot.  Bring to a boil for 15 minutes.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender (1-2 hours typically). Check beans after 1 hour.  My beans took an hour and a half to fully cook.  When making black beans to compliment your salsa chicken, toss cooked beans with lime juice, salt, and pepper, or use your cooked beans to make this recipe.  You can also use drained and rinsed canned black beans.  Note:  I like to freeze cooked and cooled beans in 1 3/4 cup increments (equivalent to a 15 ounce can) to be used in future recipes.  Note to self:  I should write an entire post on preparing beans from a dry state.  I have so much to share with you.  This takes a little bit of time, but it’s a much healthier option.  Plus, it’s much less expensive than using canned beans.

Main Course Recipes

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken

 

I like to roast a whole chicken on a Sunday afternoon.  I know, how very “1950’s women” cliche of me.  I’ve been told many times that I’m an old soul.  Really, though, don’t you want your chicken cooked by an old soul? (Just say yes, because you know it’s the right answer.)  Here’s the versatility of the roasted chicken:

  1. Eat it right away, crispy skin and all, along side vegetables and a nice salad.  (A wonderful Sunday night dinner.)
  2. Dice or shred the meat and add to casseroles, salads, soups, or sandwiches throughout the week.
  3. Enjoy chicken breast sliced on top of quinoa, pasta, or couscous for a light lunch or dinner.
  4. Make a homemade stock with the leftover carcass.  Place the leftover bones and skin in a pot and cover with cold water, add onions, celery, carrots, parsley (or other fresh herbs), whole black peppercorns, and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low and simmer for 4-5 hours.  You will occasionally want to check on the stock and skim fat off the top layer.  Remove bones, and strain stock.  Use right away, or return stock to pot and simmer for another hour or two to reduce the stock and concentrate the flavors.  EASY PEASY. Homemade chicken stock.
  5. Make chicken salad and serve in lettuce cups or on toasted sourdough bread.
  6. The options are endless!

Now onto the recipe – This chicken came out crispy, juicy, and, (OK I’m going to say it), better than any other chicken I have ever had!  Feel free to use whatever herbs or citrus you have on hand.  (I often times use rosemary.)  The key = roast at a high temperature for about 15 minutes for crispy skin, then reduce the heat to allow the chicken to cook the rest of the way through.  (It helps to have friends in culinary school who can point me in the right direction.)

I would love to hear your favorite way to use up leftover roast chicken.  Share with us by leaving a comment below.

Perfect Roast Chicken

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 – 6 lb chicken, giblets removed and discarded
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • Small bunch of thyme sprigs (approximately 20 sprigs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Onion and celery to make a bed for chicken (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Thoroughly rinse chicken under cold running tap water.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels. (Note: It is important to thoroughly dry the chicken to ensure a crispy skin.)

Place chicken either on a wire rack in a shallow roasting pan or on a bed of sliced onions and whole celery ribs in a large saute pan (as I have done in the pictures) or a rimmed baking sheet.  It is important to keep the chicken off the bottom of the pan so it isn’t sitting in the pan drippings and juices.

Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper, and stuff with lemon, onion, garlic, and thyme.  At this point you can truss the chicken if you like.  Trussing the chicken helps to keep the citrus and aromatics inside the cavity of the chicken, as well as holds the chicken’s shape during the cooking process.

With a small pastry brush coat the outside of the chicken with olive oil, and generously season with salt and pepper.  Pour chicken broth into the base of your pan.  Your chicken is now ready for the oven.

Cook chicken at 500 degrees for 20 minutes until skin starts to get nice and crispy.  Remove bird from the oven, and baste with the pan juices.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and return the bird to the oven.  The total cook time should be 14-15 minutes per lb.  For a 5 lb bird, I cooked it at 500 degrees for 20 minutes and 350 degrees for 50 minutes.  Note: Baste the chicken every 20 minutes or so with the pan juices.  If pan juices run low, add additional chicken broth.

To test chicken, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken.  You are looking for 160 degrees when you remove it from the oven (the chicken will continue to cook and will raise another 5 degrees as it rests).  Allow chicken to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Your chicken is now ready for carving!  Serve with pan juices.

Servings: 4

Main Course Recipes

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins

 

I live for the weekends!  Especially weekends with good friends, good food, and plenty of time outdoors.  Chicago is in the prime of autumn right now.  The leaves have reached their peak colors, so a long walk around the neighborhood was on the agenda yesterday.  It almost felt like we were walking through a watercolor painting.  Absolutely stunning.

fall foliage

 

After we got home, sporting windburned cheeks and towing an exhausted puppy, I got to work on Sunday night dinner.  Sunday night dinners always make me happy.  I can take my time, prep all the ingredients before I start cooking (my ideal way to cook), sip a glass of wine, and enjoy what I love … preparing a healthy and comforting meal for my family and friends.

I’m not usually one to make foods in “mini” form.  I typically opt for a family style dining experience.  Going against that idea, I decided to have these Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins make an appearance in my kitchen. This recipe is ideal to make ahead (directions below), and great for entertaining.  I was pleasantly surprised by these little muffins of cheesy meaty goodness.  They were flavorful, perfectly moist, and had a great crunch from the panko breadcrumbs.  Another perk… built in portion control.  Make these for your next party, or laid back Sunday night dinner.  Serve with a nice salad, a fresh veg, and a glass of red wine. Great meal to take in the peak of fall.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins 2

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 white onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely graded, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes, a pinch
  • 6 1-inch cubes of mozzarella (1 oz each), cut from a block
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
  • Additional parmesan cheese and herbs for topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.  Using your fingers, combine the ingredients until well incorporated.  Set mixture aside and reserve.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat, add onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine egg, cooled vegetable mixture, chicken, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, parsley, basil, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Mix ingredients until well incorporated.

Prepare a muffin pan (I used a 6 cup regular size muffin pan) by spraying it with non stick vegetable spray.

Divide the chicken mixture into the 6 muffin cups (roughly 1 cup of mixture per cup).  Nestle a mozzarella cube into the center of each muffin cup, pat the chicken mixture over the mozzarella so it is completely covered.

Top each muffin with panko mixture.  Try to get as much panko as you can onto each muffin.  (Note: I had about a 1/4 cup the panko mixture leftover that wouldn’t fit onto the muffins.)

Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the outside of each muffin to release it from the pan.

Serve with warm marinara sauce and additional parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.

Servings: 3-6 (Serving size: 1-2 muffins)  Note: I was satisfied with 1 muffin served along side a hearty salad.  The men in my life however will eat 2 muffins, so double the recipe if serving a crowd.

Make ahead instructions: Hold off on making panko mixture until you plan to bake the muffins.  Prepare muffins as directed, up until “top each muffin with panko mixture.”  Store in your refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 day in advance.  Just before baking, preheat oven, bring muffins to room temperature, prepare panko mixture, top muffins with panko mixture, and bake as directed.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins3

Main Course Recipes

Simple Garlic and Herb Lemon Roast Chicken

Simple Garlic and Herb Lemon Roast Chicken

 

Deliciously tender roast chicken on a weeknight?  Yes please.  Almost no work involved?  Yes please, again!

For this chicken, I created a simple, fresh, pesto-esque marinade.  It’s garlicky, lemony, and herb forward with a slight kick.  This marinade is a great way to use up the fresh herbs you have in your garden (or those small, insanely overpriced containers of herbs you have left over in the refrigerator).  I used fresh parsley, basil, and rosemary.  Oregano or thyme would work as well.  Just be sure to use a heaping 1/2 cup of herbs.

I like to get my bird marinating before heading off to work for the day. When I arrive home, all I have to do is let it come to room temperature and pop it into the oven to roast.  As always, the thought of minimal work in the kitchen on a weeknight makes me a happy camper.  No need to stop at the store on my way home.  No need to give dinner much thought (other than how delish it will be).  This is my idea of an easy, healthy, comforting, and satisfying weeknight meal.  Kick off your shoes, have a glass of wine, and let the oven do the work while you unwind for the day.

Simple Garlic and Herb Lemon Roast Chicken

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 – 4 lb chicken, butterflied and split in half (breastbone removed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (about 1 tbsp chopped)
  • 1 hot pepper (I used a hot banana pepper), seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 9 garlic cloves (4 chopped for marinade, 5 left in skins for roasting)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 lemon sliced into rings
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Rinse your chicken under cold water, dry with paper towel, and remove any extra fat.  Set aside in a large bowl or ziplock bag.  (Side note: When you pick up your chicken from the butcher, ask to have it butterflied and split in half.  I also asked my butcher to pound the chicken so it flattens to an even thickness and allows the chicken to cook evenly).

Make the marinade by combining parsley, basil, rosemary, hot pepper, 4 chopped garlic cloves, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor.  Blend until all ingredients are incorporated and it looks like a chunky pesto.

Add marinade to chicken, making sure to get some of the marinade between the skin and the meat.  Simply run your fingers under the skin to make a small pocket for the marinade.  Spoon some of the marinade into the pocket and rub into the meat.  This helps to season the meat, not just the skin.  Cover bowl or seal ziplock bag, and allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Pull chicken out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.

Lay lemon slices and 5 garlic cloves (don’t remove the skins) on a baking tray.  (Side note: Leaving the garlic in the skins allows the garlic to roast and become soft).  Remove chicken from the marinade and place skin side up on top of the lemon slices and garlic.  Pour any additional marinade on top of the chicken.  Salt and pepper your chicken (remember there was no salt or pepper in the marinade so be liberal).

Roast the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a cutting board, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.  Carve the chicken into pieces and drizzle with some of the cooking juices leftover in the baking tray.
Serve with roasted garlic cloves, fresh bread, and a nice salad.   (Hint hint: take a piece of fresh bread, dunk it into some of the cooking juices, top with some roasted garlic, and a nice chunk of chicken.  YUM!)
Servings: 4 (Serving Size: 1/4 chicken)
Appetizers, Crock Pot Recipes

Crock Pot Chicken Caesar Sliders

Crockpot Chicken Caesar Sliders

 

This past weekend, both Saturday and Sunday provided perfect air and water show weather.  So we put our entertaining hats on, hit the rooftop, and took advantage.  It was indeed a success.

I wanted to make something delicious for my guests that didn’t require much work on my part. These sliders fit both those requirements.  Plus, they were just the right size for guests to manage in one hand, while holding a cold beer (or glass of wine) in the other.  I served the sliders with my Lentil Orzo Salad, Meredith’s Classic Oatmeal Cookies, and lots of cold beverages.

The Caesar chicken can be made up to a day ahead of serving and reheated in the crock pot just before guests arrive.  If you choose to make it in advance, be careful not to dry out your chicken during the reheating process (just keep an eye on it and add additional salad dressing if it gets too dry).  I put the chicken in the crock pot at 7 am and it was fully cooked and ready for shredding at 11 am.  With guests arriving at noon, timing worked out perfectly.  The chicken was fall apart tender.  It soaked up all the yummy flavors once combined with the rest of the ingredients.

These sliders are  simple and sophisticated at the same time.  A great, “friends over on the weekend,” meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup homemade creamy Caesar salad dressing, or store-bought
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 16 slider buns, toasted
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, outside leaves removed and sliced thin
  • Additional creamy caesar salad dressing and parmesan cheese for slider toppings

Directions:

Place chicken breasts and chicken broth in crock pot.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.

Remove chicken from crock pot and reserve 1/3 cup chicken broth.  Discard additional broth (or skim and reserve for use in another recipe).  Allow chicken to cool enough to handle and shred.

Return shredded chicken to crock pot, add reserved chicken broth, 3/4 cup salad dressing, Parmesan cheese, parsley and black pepper.  Stir to combine.  Turn crock pot to low (or keep warm, if your crock pot has that setting) and allow to heat through for 15 minutes.  Add the additional 1/4 cup salad dressing if needed.

Top each slider bun with 1/4 cup caesar chicken mixture and romaine lettuce.  Serve with additional salad dressing and parmesan cheese for individuals to customize.

Servings: 16 (Serving size: 1 slider)

Notes: This recipe makes 4 cups of caesar chicken.  If you prefer to serve on full size buns, recipe makes 8 sandwiches with 1/2 cup caesar chicken on each.

Crock Pot Recipes, Soup and Chili Recipes

Crock Pot White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili

 

I’ll wake up early to cook.  I do it often.  If, upon waking up, I have my old friend Mr. Crock Pot readily available to help me out…well, waking up early becomes much easier.  Upon arriving home that night, you have the delicious aromas and the ready to eat meal. The magic of the crock pot.

White Chicken Chili is a great change from the traditional chili we grew up with.  This recipe is simple, flavorful, healthy, hearty and extremely satisfying.  20 minutes is all it will take you to get all the of the ingredients into the pot and cooking.  No need to sear any meat or saute any vegetables before adding them.  The calories in this meal are kept low due to absence of oil.  Just another plus.

I hope this chili makes it’s way into your regular rotation.  When you’re craving chili, this always satisfies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 4oz cans diced green chilies
  • 3 15oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 chicken breasts (2 lbs total)
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Fixings – Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, chopped green onion, lime wedges

White Bean Chicken Chili fixings

 

Directions:

Combine the first 13 ingredients in crock pot (through bay leaf).  I used a 5 quart crock pot.  Stir to combine.  Nestle chicken breasts into other ingredients so fully submerged.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Remove chicken and shred with 2 forks.  Return shredded chicken to crock pot, add lime juice, sour cream, and cilantro.  Stir to combine. Cook an additional 20 minutes.  At this point, the chili is ready to eat.  You can also turn the dial to “keep warm” until ready to serve.

Top with traditional chili fixings.  I like to add shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and green onion.

You can also make this chili on the stove top.  To do so, combine the first 13 ingredients in a large stock pot or dutch oven.  Stir to combine.  Add chicken breasts and nestle into other ingredients so fully submerged.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours.  Follow additional steps as indicated above.

Servings: 8 (Serving Size: 2 cups)