Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad

Tahini is an ingredient in my pantry that goes unused for weeks yet it’s such a fantastic addition to your arsenal of ingredients.  In this recipe, tahini not only adds flavor to the chicken but it keeps the chicken incredibly tender and allows the chicken to have the most beautiful grill marks from the grill.  If you’re unsure of what tahini is, the best way to describe it is the same way peanuts become peanut butter – sesame seeds become tahini.

The chicken can be marinated for up to overnight (or as little as 8 hours) so I prepped this the evening before we would be eating this particular dinner.  The marinade is a mixture of tahini (that is well stirred), parsley, olive oil, water, rosemary, lemon zest, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, garlic and grated shallot.  Before adding the chicken, reserve some of the marinade that will be used as a sauce when serving.

While Big Guy grilled the chicken, I prepped the rice and cucumber-tomato salad.  The salad is insanely easy to throw together.  Simple mix together chopped cucumber, chopped tomato and chopped parsley with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Serve the grilled chicken over a bed of rice and a size of salad with a little more of the tahini marinade on top.

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The chicken cuts like butter and does not have an overwhelming sesame flavor.  So many fresh flavors on the plate while be filling and healthy.  This is a must-try recipe if you’re in a chicken-rut.

OH, and if you don’t have tahini in your pantry – I recommend going to Trader Joe’s if possible – incredibly affordable and excellent flavor.

Honey Garlic Butter Shrimp with Coconut Rice, Fried Plantains and Avocado

There are no words for how delicious this dinner was on Sunday evening.  It’s insane how much flavor is packed in one bowl of food.

At the beach I picked up a pound of our favorite shrimp that we then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, honey, garlic, ginger, jalapeño (I used one), cumin and cilantro.  We let our marinate for a few hours but you can let it rest from 30 minutes to 24 hours.  The coconut rice is a must!  Jasmine rice is cooked in coconut milk instead of water for the creamiest and richest rice that has the slightest hint of coconut flavor.  Don’t skip this step!  I added a pinch of salt once the rice was cooked.  The plantains are also something you cannot skip.  I repeat, do NOT skip the plantains.  Plantains can be found in most grocery stores – in fact, I picked mine up at Walmart.  Yellow plantains are best for frying – a little sweeter than the green/less rice plantains.  The plantains are fried for 1 to 2 minutes on each side and then sprinkle with flaky salt as soon as they come out of the hot oil.

The shrimp take such a short amount of time to cook – so do this last!  Melt a small amount of butter in a pan and then sauté the shrimp until almost cooked through.  Add in the butter and allow it to melt and simmer with the shrimp until browned – but NOT burnt.  Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk.

Serve the shrimp by spooning the rice into the bowl and then top with the tantalizing shrimp, crispy plantains and creamy avocado.  Give the whole bowl a pop of freshness with a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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I promise you’ll love this dish.  So many flavors.  So many textures.

And despite saying I have no words for this dish, I just wrote 315.

Bacon & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers + Avocado Spinach Artichoke Dip

I’m back from a wonderful couple of days at the beach for our third annual Flamingo Fling.

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Flamingo Fling is basically an excuse for all the Bell ladies to get together without the men and enjoy a weekend doing whatever, whenever we want.  And of course we use ALL the things “flamingo.”

After enjoying a little sunshine on Friday afternoon, it was time for a fun flamingo drink!  My Momma made a delicious blackberry lemonade spritzer that was sweet and bubbly.  Maggie spiked hers with a little Prosecco – last year she was the pregnant one.

Typically on our first night, we dine “appy hour” style.  Meaning lots of small bites and appetizers.

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We had quite the assortment.  I made bacon and goat cheese stuffed mini peppers which exceeded my expectations.  Sweet mini peppers were stuffed with a  mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese, chives, garlic and crispy bacon before being baked and then dipped in a balsamic sweet chili sauce.  A super easy recipe that I’ll definitely be making again.  Momma made avocado spinach artichoke dip that was addicting when paired with crunchy pita chips.  The food processor does all the work with this recipe – whirling together avocado, lemon juice, garlic, spinach, artichokes, a little EVOO and red pepper flakes.  Go a little heavy on the salt – it needs it, especially when paired with raw veggies. Maggie picked up some fantastic chicken salad from a local restaurant and she also provided a variety  of dark chocolate for dessert.

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The rest of the weekend was full of relaxing, learning about Young Living essential oils, sun, a little shopping and more eating!

My heart is always full after Flamingo Fling and I’m already looking forward to our weekend together next year.

My New Favorite Green Smoothie

There’s a new smoothie in town and shockingly it doesn’t include frozen bananas or nut butter.  I go through phases with smoothies – I’ll drink them for weeks and then I’ll be totally over them and can’t even think about blending one up for months.  Currently I’m experiencing the phase where I’m drinking several smoothies a week.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach a lunchtime “sweat” class.  I usually leave the class starving (despite my mid-morning snack) and find myself craving something cold and that is easy to assemble.  Enter in this creation.

smoothie

In the mix:

12 ounces liquid (I used a cup of almond milk plus 1/2 cup water)
4 frozen Just Coconut Chunks (new find at Trader Joes)
1/2 a small avocado (adds so much creaminess)
1 scoop protein powder (I use a plant-based, gluten-free, dairy free and no stevia powder)
1/4-1/3 cup frozen riced cauliflower (another find at Trader Joes)
Large handful spinach 

Blend until creamy.

I pinky-promise that you can not taste the cauliflower or the spinach in this smoothie.  It’s ridiculously thick (aka sometimes you need a spoon) and it tastes delicious.  I love the subtle hint of coconut.

It’s refreshing, it’s healthy and it’s super filling.

 

 

Balsamic Roasted Veggie and White Bean Pasta

Yesterday I shared an indulgent dinner and today I share a recipe that is LOADED with veggies.  In fact, you’ll feel good eating this dinner and serving it to your family.

Dinner starts by roasted all of the vegetables including broccoli, sliced mushrooms, red bell pepper, zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes and red onion.

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The veggies were tossed with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, dried herbs, garlic, salt and EVOO before roasting at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  While the veggies were cooking I went ahead and brought my pasta water to a boil so that it was ready when I needed it.  No one has time to watch a pot of water come to a boil.  I also prepped a batch of skinny pesto.

When the veggies were almost done cooking, I tossed the pasta into the boiling water and let it cook until al dente (about 9 minutes for gluten-free pasta).

As soon as the pasta was perfectly cooked, it was drained and then mixed with the white beans, pesto and parmesan before adding all the yummy veggies.

To serve, I sprinkled a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes over my portion.

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Another successful dinner loaded with veggies from the garden.

Not only is this a great dinner option but it’s perfect to make ahead and have for quick lunches throughout the week.  The portion size is large and the recipe makes a TON of food.

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Grilled Burrata Pizza with Crispy Prosciutto and Basil

Burrata is slowly but surely becoming one of my favorite cheeses.  Perhaps it’s because it’s a bit elusive (aka I have to go to Raleigh to find it) or maybe it’s because it’s just so creamy and dreamy.  Either way, this pizza has one of the shortest ingredient lists of any pizza we’ve ever made yet it’s one of my all-time favorites.

By grilling our favorite dough, the crust had the slightest “smoky/grilled” taste to it and I loved how crispy yet chewy the crust was.  Once we grilled one side of the dough, we flipped and grilled the other halfway before added shredded mozzarella.  Then came the burrata with all it’s lusciousness.  On top of that went crispy prosciutto that I cooked over the stovetop in the smallest amount of EVOO.  Then I added crispy basil that I cooked in the prosciutto fat/EVOO.  Right before serving, I sprinkled with sea salt that added a pop of flavor.

burratapizza

Salty.  Creamy.  Crispy.  Herbaceous.  Cheesy.

Pizza perfection.

Skillet Nacho Dip

Our third and final dinner utilizing the caramelized onion burgers I made over the weekend.  I can honestly say that all three dinners have been extremely different in flavors and textures and presentation.  I also think it was helpful to spread out the meals, allowing for a day of leftovers here and there.

This dinner came together SO fast – I’m talking under 20 minutes.  Diced red onion and jalapeño are sautéed in a little bit of EVOO before adding in the spices:  cumin and chili powder along with a thickening agent (I used cornstarch, recipe called for flour).  Stock is added and allow the mixture to bubble and thicken before adding in pinto beans (you honestly could use any bean here – black would be great) and the chopped burgers.  Add in some of the cheese and mix before adding more cheese on top and broiling until melted.  Before serving, top the skillet dip with diced tomato and avocado.  Serve with tortilla chips.

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I loved how I felt like I was eating a “cheat” meal – we usually doing eat nachos during the week.

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So dippin’ good.