Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad with Spiced Pecans

This salad is the perfect summer salad!  It’s light, fresh and feel free to change up the fruit you used based on what’s in season.  I opted for raspberries because they looked gorgeous at the store – but blueberries or peaches would be amazing.

The chicken is simply seasoned with salt, pepper and I added a little onion powder.  If you have a favorite seasoning blend, go for it!  Big Guy fired up the grill and got the most perfect grill marks.  The key to moist chicken is not to overcook it.

The dressing is a simple mix of balsamic vinegar, EVOO, mustard, garlic plus salt and pepper.  One of the best parts about this salad is the spiced pecans.  I recommend doubling this recipe – Big Guy was obsessed.  Pecans are sautéed in a pan until fragrant (about 4 minutes).  Add in the butter, brown sugar and hot sauce and cook for another 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  They are sweet, crunchy with a little hint of heat.

To assemble the salad, put a big layer of greens on the plate followed by the raspberries, pecans and chicken.  Drizzle with the dressing and devour.

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

This “take-out, fake-out” dinner is on the table in less time than it would take you to order and pick-up delivery from your local Chinese restaurant.  And it’s so much better for you than take-out.

The sweet and sour flavors come from a mix of ketchup, cider vinegar, brown sugar and soy sauce.  Fresh ginger adds a ton of flavor, too.  I adored the addition of sweet pineapple with crisp red bell pepper.

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The key to making Chinese food at home is to prep all your ingredients before you start cooking.  Because once you start the cooking, it goes quickly.

My favorite bite was a little green onion, a little pineapple and SAUCE.

So good.

You could totally serve this over a bed of rice but I went with a glass of wine on the side.

What is your favorite “take-out” order?

Chicken Thighs with Ginger-Sesame Glaze + Asparagus with Sesame & Citrus Vinaigrette

The next couple of weeks are cray-zeeeee.  Fun but crazy.  There’s going to be a lot of go-go-go-ing.  And I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one.  For those of you with kids in school, well, summer is right around the corner.  And for those of you with little ones, well, life always seems crazy.  And for those of you without children, the start of the summer more often than not brings about a jam-packed social calendar.

So regardless of which category you fall in – this easy, 20-minute dinner is the ticket to ease your weeknight, dinner worries.  You can mix together the glaze in the morning and then all you have to do come dinner time is warm up the grill pan and pull together the asparagus.  

The glaze is a mixture of green onions, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and sambal oelek.  Basically the glaze = flavor.  The chicken thighs are marinated in half of the mixture while the other half is saved for glazing the chicken before serving.

The asparagus are simply roasted and then tossed with orange segments, a little fresh orange juice, sesame oil, salt, pepper and then sprinkled with sesame seeds.

I loved the the brightness that the orange juice and pieces brought to a salty, savory and slightly spicy dinner.

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So good!  So flavorful!

Let the craziness begin….

Lemon Chicken with Feta Rice

Three years ago we were celebrating Cinco de Drinko, I mean, Cinco de Mayo, on our honeymoon in Scrub Island.  A frozen margarita never tasted so delicious.  This throw back has been dreaming of another tropical vacation. #wanderlust  Especially since it’s been incredibly rainy and messy ALL week long.  (Saturday best be GAWGeous to make up for it.)

I don’t have any guacamole or tacos or quesadillas to share with you today but if you need some inspiration, I suggest checking out How Sweet It Is and What’s Gaby Cooking.  Both will have you running out the door to pick up tequila and avocados.

Since this week has been lacking sunshine, I brought some sunshine to the kitchen with this light and bright chicken dinner.  The ingredient list is so SHORT and it literally takes 20 minutes from start to finish.  ANYONE can make this easy yet delicious dinner.

Before you do anything, marinate your chicken (I used chicken tenders) in an easy mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and lots of garlic.  Marinate the chicken in a large ziplock back to make clean-up a breeze.

While the chicken is marinating, heat your grill pan or skillet and bring water (or broth) to a boil to cook your rice in.  I used a 5-minute brown rice but you can use the boil-in-a-bag rice if that’s what you have on hand.

Make sure to sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper before cooking about 6 minutes on each side (or until there’s no pink).  While the chicken is cooking, chop your herbs (I used parsley).  Once the rice is finished cooking, toss the warm rice with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and finally some feta (I used a mediterranean feta).  For even more flavor, I added some lemon zest – because throwing it away is such a waste of BRIGHTNESS.

Simple serve the chicken on a bed of the feta rice.

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Zippy and bright, the perfect bit of sunshine on a dreary day.

 

Flattened Chicken with Almond & Paprika Vinaigrette + Manchego Grits

Good morning!  I’m hoping that all the rain today means that we’ll have a nice and sunny Saturday.

We enjoyed this chicken dinner last Friday night and it’s definitely worth sharing.  There are so many flavors and textures going on – the perfect way to jazz up “basic” chicken breasts.

The chicken breasts that I used were quite large so instead of pounding them thin, I cut them in half to make cutlets.  The chicken is then seasons with salt and pepper and seared in a  little olive oil until cooked through – about 3-4 minutes on each side.

In that same pan, a warm vinaigrette is made chicken stock, garlic, chopped almonds, lemon zest, lemon juice, smoked paprika and Dijon mustard.

While the chicken cooked, prepare the grits.  I used the stovetop method and 5-minute grits.  Either follow the recipe or saute a little chopped onion in the olive oil.  Once softened, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Slowly add the grits and whisk until thickened.  Before serving, stir in grated Manchego cheese, salt and pepper. The chicken is served over the grits  with the vinaigrette spooned on top and then finished with chopped green olives and fresh parsley.

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I loved the crunch of the almonds, the herbaceous parsley and the burst of brininess from the olives.  And well, grits are always a good idea.

Enjoy this Spanish-inspired dinner any night of the week.  And in case you were wondering, a Sonoma Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with this dinner.

Slow Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Some days are busier than others.  And those days are when I’m glad I decided to let my slow cooker do all most of the work.  The hardest part about a slow cooker dinner – smelling it all.day.long.

While there are some slow cooker recipes that require you to sear or saute before adding it to the slow cooker, this is not one of them.

That’s right – you simply mix, add all the ingredients to the base of the slow cooker and let it roll.

The end result is melt-in-your-mouth chicken with tender potatoes and the most mellow, delectable garlic ever. The platter is finished with a squeeze of lemon for brightness and some parsley for a pop of freshness.

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The only changes I made to the recipe was not using white wine (instead I used 1/4 cup more of chicken stock), I used brown rice flower instead of all-purpose, and I used baby potatoes instead of red potatoes.

Don’t let the 40 cloves of garlic scare you.  Unless you try to peel 40 cloves.  Use the pre-peeled garlic and trust me when I say they mellow.  After 8 hours in the slow-cooker, the pungent flavor is replaced with the most delicate, butter flavor.

But seriously, don’t peel 40 cloves.  You’ll smell like garlic for 40 days.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Baby Potatoes

Why is it that the simplest of dinners turn out to be some of the most delicious?  Cooking Light has started featuring recipes in the magazine that are just two servings and I find they’re perfect when I don’t need a ton of leftovers.  Not only are there just two of us but when Big Guy is not around for dinner, I definitely don’t need a recipe that serves six.  This chicken dish has a small ingredient list and the “technique” is fool proof.

Start by pre-heating your oven to 500 degrees.  Yes, you want it screaming hot!  While the oven is doing it’s thing, make your mustard mixture (this is where ALL your flavor is).  In the mixture:  olive oil, mustard (Lusty Monk!), fresh herbs (I used thyme and dill), a drizzle of honey and a splash of white wine vinegar (the recipe called for white wine but I am not about to open a bottle on a Tuesday for one tablespoon).

Roast the potatoes for about 10 minutes.  While the potatoes are getting their roast on, sear the chicken for 5 minutes on one side after sprinkling with salt and pepper.  Transfer the chicken to the pan, top with 2 tablespoons of the mustard mixture and bake for 10 more minutes.

Once everything is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, top with the remaining mustard mixture.

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So good!  The chicken is insanely tender and moist, the potatoes have a soft inside but a “snap” on the outside.  And that mustard mixture!  I seriously need to get my hands on another jar of Lusty Monk.

But now I wish there were leftovers…wink wink.