Monthly Archives: June 2014

Stone Fruit Chicken-Rice Salad

I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to me to always have precooked rice, lots of fruits and/veggies, and chicken on hand to make a hodge podge rice bowl. These kinds of meals are always exactly what tastes so good to me and what leaves me feeling satisfied. I do have a ridiculous love for rice so I try not to eat too much of it (hence why it’s never in the house). If I could figure out how to control myself, maybe I could actual have certain foods on standby. But rice with chicken and fruits or veggies along with an Asian flavored sauce or a light vinaigrette is usually my perfect little meal. Which explains why I was so drawn to this Stone Fruit Chicken-Rice Salad.

Grilled chicken, nectarines, brown rice, cherries, scallions, almonds, and mint are mixed together before being tossed with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon and Dijon. Served with whatever kind of green you like (I used arugula), this salad is a perfect lunch or even a light which takes advantage of summer’s fruits. I look forward to nectarines, peaches, berries and especially cherries each year so as soon as I saw cherries in the store, I grabbed a huge bag no matter the cost. Substitute this salad with rotisserie chicken, turkey, blueberries, corn, spinach, zucchini, basil, tomatoes or whatever your heart desires. No matter what you throw in, you won’t go wrong.

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Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes. Chop chicken.

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Combine oil, rind, juice, and mustard in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

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Add chopped, cooked chicken, nectarines, and remaining ingredients; toss well.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Arugula
  • Sliced almonds

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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Green Pesto Sauce

I’m a real sucker for pesto but it’s one of those sauces that I don’t like to buy (I think it’s better when it’s fresh) yet I never make it at home, even when I have a bunch of basil.  Pesto is so full of flavor and so easy to make that it’s just silly that I don’t make it more. It’s good on any meat, pasta, veggie, pizza, sandwich or even eggs. When I came across this recipe for Green Pesto Sauce, I wasn’t sure what to think since it’s made with fruit juice but one day at the store, I found myself looking at bottles of Naked juice and decided to give this pesto a try.

Basic pesto ingredients of basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, and nuts (I used sliced almonds because I had them on hand) are combined with parsley, green fruit juice and lemon juice which add other layers of flavor. This isn’t your basic pesto so the hint of sweetness from the fruit juice may not be your cup of tea. And while I prefer regular pesto, I was pretty surprised with the interesting and unique flavor of this.

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In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth.

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Serve at once atop steamed or roasted potatoes or vegetables or cover and chill up to 2 days. Stir in additional juice to desired consistency.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Sliced almonds
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

Thirty years ago tomorrow, my favorite person in the world was brought into this world: my sister Katie. I still remember the early Illinois morning she was born, while I was sound asleep. My mom had been up the night before watching television with my dad on a typical weeknight and there were no signs from her that she might be heading into labor in the next few hours. But she did, while I was peacefully asleep, and when the phone rang, I jolted awake. The news that I had a baby sister made me cry. I wanted a baby brother (I’ve told her this before). But I never spent another minute wishing for a brother and I’m beyond thankful that she isn’t just the best sister anyone could ever ask for but she is also an amazing woman. She is never judgmental, just listens when I need her, and is the yin to my yang. She is my rock to my roll. She is my everything. And now she has given me a niece and a nephew who I can’t get enough of, even though we all live over 1,500 miles away from each other. If I could have one wish for the rest of my life, it would be that we could see each other each and every day.

Because of my sweet Katie, I made these Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars. Because birthdays are a perfect reason to eat icing.

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray, and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg white, sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract, and mix until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt to form a crumbly dough. Press the dough into the prepared pan to form an even layer, and poke the dough every few inches with a fork so it will bake evenly. Bake 17-20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool completely. To make the frosting, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and half and half until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt, and food coloring, and beat again until fluffy. Spread over cooled cookies and add sprinkles. Cut into squares.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: The Baker Upstairs blog

 

Taco Night Popcorn

Who doesn’t love a really simple snack recipe? Popcorn, in general, is a simple and low calorie snack but sometimes it can just be so stinking boring. I go in waves with popcorn where I’ll eat a portion-controlled bag each and every night and then when I run out, I’ll buy another box that will sit, unopened, in my cabinet and go well past the expiration date. Sometimes it tastes good and sometimes I can’t fathom the thought of it. But I came across a bunch of recipes for flavored popcorn and decided I had everything to make this Taco Night Popcorn. With a frosty beer and a good movie, this is an addicting and not boring popcorn snack.

Olive oil, chili powder, lime zest, cumin and garlic powder are mixed together and tossed over basic microwaved popcorn and pieces of tortilla chips (I used these chips – my favorite!) making this a flavorful snack that really does make you think of tacos. I combined the oil and spices together and dumped the mixture into a zip-top storage bag then added the popcorn and chips and shook it all up. It really seemed to coat the popcorn well, without too much of any oil or spices ending up in random clumps. I know adding olive oil to a healthy snack like popcorn isn’t necessary what you want to do when you are trying to be good but a little goes a long way and this is a great snack for those nights when you just can’t have plain old popcorn yet again.

Like this? Also check out Chili and Spice Popcorn and Buffalo Popcorn!

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Mix olive oil, chili powder, grated lime peel, cumin, and garlic powder; toss with 1 bag microwave popcorn, popped, and tortilla chip pieces.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Good Housekeeping magazine

Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I hope your weekend was a little better than mine! The sky was perfectly blue and sunny and all I wanted was to enjoy the beautiful weather by either going to the beach or a baseball game. Instead, I spent my entire weekend indoors at my house because I had car problems and didn’t do much of anything but sit home alone watching several baseball games go into extra innings on Friday, and again on Saturday, and again on Sunday. Luckily, on Sunday morning I was able to get to the grocery store because I was really looking forward to making these Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps all weekend.

An Asian-inspired sauce made up of soy sauce, hoisin, rice vinegar and sherry is added to garlic, ginger, rotisserie chicken and packaged coleslaw and heated briefly before being spooned into lettuce cups and topped with scallions and nuts. I used broccoli slaw instead of regular coleslaw which stayed pretty crunchy even after being heated and the scallions add a fresh mild onion flavor. I also used peanuts instead of cashews because I had peanuts on hand but any nut will work or you can leave it out altogether. Because this dish uses precooked chicken, it comes together really quickly making this an easy weeknight dinner. If you are looking for something light, fast, low-carb and very tasty, this is a dish for you.

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Combine soy sauce, sherry, hoisin, and rice vinegar in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic and ginger to pan; sauté 30 seconds.

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Add soy sauce mixture and coleslaw; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add chicken and 1/4 cup onions to pan; cook 1 minute or until coleslaw just begins to wilt.

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Divide chicken mixture evenly among lettuce leaves; sprinkle evenly with remaining scallions and nuts.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Boston lettuce
  • Broccoli slaw
  • Peanuts

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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