We eat a lot of chicken around here. As you might guess if you are a frequent visitor to my blog. Chicken, in my opinion, is a perfect double duty food element.
You can easily whip up a big batch of chicken on the weekend, and stock pile it in the fridge for quick fix meals later in the week. My favorites are to use it in a soup, a salad or a pasta dish. It is so versatile that all you need to do to reinvent it is to mix the chicken with some new flavors.
I’ve come into a pretty good routine in the past year of cooking meals that do double duty. So, here’s another of my favorites.
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1. Mix together the marinade in a ziptop bag and place the chicken inside. Make sure that all sides of the chicken is covered before you leave it to do it’s thing in the refrigerator. Marinate it between 1-3 hours, longer than this will cause the chicken to become mushy.
2. Drain the chicken and either grill it on a hot grill for 6-7 minutes per side or cook it in a saute pan on medium high heat for the same amount of time. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan as the chicken will steam, rather than caramelize.
3. Save 1 1/2 chicken breasts to shred for the salad below.
For the second dish of the week you will need the items below. Check out the original posting of this recipe here.
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (see above)
1 cup uncooked Israeli Couscous (or other small pasta)
1 apple diced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
4 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles (hey: by all means if you hate blue cheese a good substitute is feta here, or you could leave it out altogether)
I feel like sometimes I get stuck in a side dish rut. I pick up the same veggies (depending on the season, really) and those are my weekly veggies, for a month or two. During summer it tends to be green beans, corn, carrots and red peppers. Of course, I add to my list cucumbers and tomatoes and avocados for salads, but as far as an accompaniment to a meal I get stuck sometimes with serving the same side dish for too long. Most of the time it doesn’t really bother me because I’m always just trying to get something on the table that we all like to eat.
Of late my go to side dish has been corn on the cob. Everyone in our family likes it. And it’s so easy to prepare; it really is no brainer when I’m prepping another dish too. I’ll be honest though and sometimes I avoid the whole side dish issue by making a one pot meal like paella or something else, so I don’t have to monitor two pots at once.
But this complacency is what leads to the inability to try new things in our family. So, every couple of weeks, (ok, whenever I think of it) I try a new side dish or try an old one in a different way. Thus, the fancy new pepper recipe.
So with this revamping I figured I’d take my chances with red peppers. My kids have like sweet red peppers for a while now, but roasting them and filling them with cheese made them go from snack to side dish pretty easily. The nice thing about this side dish is that it’s sophisticated enough to serve at a dinner party while also accommodating a few of our more selective family members (sic kids).
What’s your go to side dish?
3 medium-sized red peppers
2 ounces softened goat cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1. Cut each pepper in half and remove the seeds. Try to keep the stem in tact. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Lay the peppers on a parchment lined baking sheet and divide the goat cheese evenly amongst the 6 halves.
3. Roast the peppers with the cheese about 5-7 minutes, until the edges of the peppers begin to turn black and the cheese is melted.
4. Remove the peppers from the oven and drizzle with balsamic and basil and salt and pepper to taste.
With summer in full swing, barbeques and potlucks are plentiful. And of course, I’m always debating about what to bring for these events. Since it really depends on the group your serving, and if you’ve been assigned a specific dish or not. It can be tough to bring a side that stands out, but at the same time will tempt most palates. For a different take on a potato salad, try this pesto infused travel-friendly version. It’s super easy to throw together and pretty tasty as well.
1 pound baby new potatoes, halved
2 cobbs of fresh corn, with corn cut off
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch peices
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of prepared pesto, here’s my version of pesto.
1. Bring a small pot of water to boil, with a 1 teaspoonn of salt.
2. Add the potatoes to the pot and set the timer for 10 minutes. At ten minutes throw in the green beans for only two minutes. And then immediately, toss them all in ice water to stop the cooking process. The potatoes should be a tender, but still crisp.
3. While the potatoes are warm stir in the pesto sauce, the corn and red pepper. Then, it’s ready to serve.
So by now I'm sure you none of you reading this are surprised that this salad will include two of my favorites: bacon and blue cheese. My hubby and I recently went out to a nice French restaurant where we ordered a salad similar to this. I've seen a ton of brussel sprout salads in mags lately, but often they are served raw and shredded, like coleslaw (see here for my thoughts about this salad), so when this came to our table I was surprised that it was in fact a wonderfully savory and sweet way for me to eat this often shunned, now celebrity-like veggie.
I have to say I was pretty impressed with this salad. Since it is one that can be made ahead and is full of nutrients, I wouldn't be shocked if it started to make an appearance at the holiday buffet for my family. You have been warned!
1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
3 slices of bacon
1/4 cup of walnuts
2 green onions, sliced
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1-2 tablespoons light blue cheese dressing
1. In a 8 x 8 baking dish toss the brussel sprouts with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast at 475 degrees for about 20 minutes.
2. When the brussel sprouts have cooled for about 10 minutes, toss in all the other ingredients and serve.
We all know that summer truly came to an end a few weeks ago when the kids (and teachers) went back to school, but with the official change of seasons this week I thought it would be nice to compile some of my favorite salads that I’ve posted this summer along with a few new ones that I haven’t yet photographed.
Now, I have to preface this list with the fact that these are not the only salads I make. In fact, these are strictly my party salads (one’s that I serve at a party or bring to a potluck) and salads for lunch. For dinner I rarely make such a filling side dish, but often use spinach or romaine with a few other simple ingredients and a favorite dressing or a fast homemade one to round out my veggie intake.
Pasta Salad My favorite recreation this year is probably a Trader Joe’s inspired Israeli Couscous Spa Salad. For over a year I was buying a pre-made salad similar to this one at the market when I realized that I could reinvent this salad at home pretty easily. As a result I decided to combine it with some Waldorf-like ingredients to make a really fresh and filling meal and not so much like the romaine based one at the food chain.
Hearty Salad One that stands the test of time for my family is the Marinated Mushroom Salad, which is so simple and hearty that you could certainly toss it with some cooked pasta to make a meal too. The great thing about this one is that the ingredients like bacon and garlic add a lovely robust flavor to the meal and it’s darn easy to make, I mean you just pile it all in a bowl and let it sit at room temperature until you’re ready to serve it. That’s why this one always makes an appearance at holiday meals.
Bean Salad Another hearty one is the White Bean Picnic Salad. The flavors here are so fresh and clean that they pop against the creaminess of the white beans. The nice thing about this one is that you control the sodium since you’re not using canned beans. But hey, you certainly could cut down on the time involved by using a canned low sodium white bean of your choice. I’m not against using those types of shortcuts that make our lives simpler, but in this case I was trying to cut the salt down in our diet. That’s the great part about eating flavorful food, you don’t need as much of that other stuff, like salt, if you’ve wonderful food.
Slaw Ok so eventually I move to slaws. As far as slaws go, they’re normally too sweet for me, and the mayo in most of them really grosses me out. So I tend to toss my coleslaw mix with a store-bought Asian Dressing, but I also like to make this Thai Carrot Slaw, which would be really fun for a Halloween party.
Spinach Salad So my favorite spinach salad has to be one that I copied from the Marriott Desert Springs Spa. They no longer have this one on their menu, weep weep, but I ordered it so many times before they took it off that I have got the flavor profile down, and now I feel that I own it.
I haven’t taken any pictures of it, crazy since I just made it for our back to school party, but I thought as I was accumulating ideas I couldn’t ignore this one. It’s pretty simple. Here it goes. In a serving bowl combine one pound of baby spinach, one sweet potato (peel it, cube it, then steam for 4 minutes in the microwave) , a kid-sized box of raisins, a couple of handfuls of pecans toasted, a handful or two or dried cranberries and a few slivers of red onion. Toss with your favorite dressing. A sweet one like a honey mustard works well. To mix your own Honey Mustard vinaigrette simply combine 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Or… I often use my go to party dressing in a pinch, Girard’s White Balsamic Vinaigrette. This one serves 3-4 as a meal.
As summer’s end officially makes it’s mark on the calendar, we all know the weather hasn’t followed the rules this year, so go ahead and continue to make some salads as a light dinner. Maybe this collection will give you a few more in your repettoire.
I’m not a big fan of coleslaw, in fact, I really hate most that I encounter. If I am served one, I simply doctor it up a bit. I find that they are too sweet for my taste. And don’t even get me started on mayonnaise. I know some of you love this condiment, but I am purely creeped out by it! It’s eggs and oil and it’s supposed to taste like something other than fat? I just don’t get it.
I digress. Although I have a strong distaste for slaws, I do like shredded cabbage as an alternative to lettuce for a quick salad. And since there’s more good stuff in cabbage than romaine, so I’ve come to topping my tacos as well as serving a shredded cabbage salad tossed with a store-bought Asian Vinaigrette. Paul Newman’s is my favorite right now, and its low fat too.
But this is not a cabbage slaw. It is a shredded carrot slaw with a homemade dressing. And it’s the Big Boy’s favorite salad of the moment.
2 Tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
2 Cups shredded carrots (I used the pre-cut ones from the veggie aisle)
3 cups shredded cabbage
2 Tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
for the dressing:
4 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Place carrots, cabbage and cilantro in a serving bowl.
2. In a small Tupperware container mix dressing ingredients together. Put the lid on the Tupperware and shake it vigorously to combine it all.
3. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve with chopped peanuts.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but it’s for a good reason….I’ve been super busy at work and juggling all the afterschool activities of the kids’, and of course, toss in a little illness and a wonderful vacation and there you have it.
But that seems to be the life of a working mom–busy all time–attempting to carve out time for herself. I feel like this blog has helped me to do that with some regularity.
So, Today’s recipe comes as an easy side dish or a light meal, either way it’s fabulous way to get some healthy grains into our diet disguised in a refreshing salad. After our fantastic cruise on the Disney Wonder last week, our bodies needed to used to eating without over indulging.
So this seemed like the perfect fix. And it’s pretty simple to make and you can certainly add in more fresh veggies or some grilled protien of sort to make it even more filling. It’s definitely an easy dinner since none of the preparation entails a watchful eye. It’s my speed, a recipe that I can tackle while I’m rangling half a dozen other things too.
32 ounces beef broth
2 cups dry pearl barley
1 red pepper diced
3 green onions sliced
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1 whole garlic clove
1. Rinse barley and bring to a boil with the beef broth and garlic. Once it comes to a boil, cover it and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it cook until tender and chewy about 40 minutes, most of the broth will be absorbed at this point too.
2. While the barley cooks away, chop all the veggies and toss them in a serving bowl.
3. Once the barely is cooked through, let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before tossing it with the red pepper, green onions and feta. Another nice addition is a few freshly torn basil leaves and spinach. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.