appetizer

Chicken Caesar Salad (Lightened-Up!)

If you’re like me, you loovvee a good Caesar salad.  Like a really good, restaurant-worthy one.  One that cannot be made with store bought, fake tasting nonsense.  If you’re also like me, you crave this salad more often than not, yet you know that hhmmm…they may be pretty darn fattening and you find yourself weighing the flavor over your waist.

Whelp, this easy (no raw egg even, especially if you’re ‘weird’ about that) version can be made for dinner in a quick 30 minutes!  You can get in your protein with the chicken and Greek yogurt based dressing without sacrificing ANY of the restaurant worthiness (<– not sure if that’s a word, but you get it.)!

*Feel free to sub the chicken for shrimp, or nothing at all!  By all means, use your backyard grill too!

The Starting Lineup

Chicken:

  • 1-1/2 lb(s) boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken cutlets
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic power
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • hefty pinch of kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 of a lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the “green can”, please!)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Garnish (optional):

  • Garlic croutons
  • Avocado slices
  • Bacon, chopped
  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved
  • Lemon Wedges

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the blackening seasoning for the chicken breasts.  On a lined sheet pan, swirl about two tablespoons of oil and place chicken, tossing to coat.  Heavily sprinkle on the blackening season, each side.

Place in the oven, turning once, for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through.  Allow to rest and thinly slice.  *By all means, if weather permits, grill outdoors for another great flavor!

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.  Make sure to taste to your preference (i.e. add more salt, always PLENTY of freshly cracked black pepper, thin with a bit more olive oil or lemon, etc..)

Prepare: In individual bowls, add in a cup of rinsed and patted dry romaine lettuce.  Top with the sliced, blackened chicken, more parmesan and croutons and avocado, bacon and/or lemon if desired.  Drizzle dressing overtop.  Enjoy!

Caeser

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Green Chile Artichoke Dip

If you haven’t realized, I like to take classic recipes and give them a bit of a spin!  The typical artichoke dip is no exception.  I took the hot, cheesy concoction and amped it up with a couple cans of green chiles and diced hot peppers.  What was usually tasty, but quite bland, now has a real kick of flavor and your guests will love the welcome change!

*IF you have any leftover, you can served warm over grilled chicken breasts and rice.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cans diced green chiles, (one 4oz hot, one 7oz regular)
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1-2 fresh jalapenos, diced (I keep seeds in)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Drain the artichokes and pat dry.  In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients and transfer to an 8-inch cast iron pan (preferred, to hold in the heat) or 8×8 baking tin.

Place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until hot and bubbly, and then pop under the broiler till the top is a golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips, baguette bread or fresh veggies.

GreenChileArtichokeDip

Quick Chicken Lettuce Wraps

For my fellow friends who follow me, one knows I do not care for traditional breakfast foods (even though I make it for my family every single day), nor am I too found of Chinese food.  I’m sorry, truly sorry, but it’s just not so great to me.  I love Japanese, even Thai, but not Chinese.  However…..IF I am going to surprise my husband with one of his favorite cuisines, THIS is what I make!  This recipe is super easy and quick!!  After 20 minutes, you’ll have chicken lettuce wraps that will rival the ‘you-know-who-restaurant’, plus are a lot healthier!  I like to serve them with either egg rolls or pot stickers.. or both (and a to-go order of sushi for me ;)!

*The teriyaki, hoisin, soy sauce and cornstarch can easily be found in gluten-free, in case of dietary restrictions.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce (or sriracha)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (can substitute tapioca starch or arrowroot for true gluten free)
  • 1-2 heads of butter lettuce, leaves washed and patted dry
  • 3 green onions, sliced

In a small bowl, whisk together the teriyaki sauce, chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ground ginger and cornstarch.  Set aside, but give another whisk before ready to use.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil.  Add in the mushrooms till softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  Add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil to the hot pan and add the ground chicken, cooking until done.  *I like to use my hand-held potato masher to really break up the ground chicken into crumbles.  To the cooked chicken, add in the minced garlic and the mushrooms back in, followed by the basil leaves.

Re-whisk and pour the sauce that you made earlier over the cooked chicken mixture and thoroughly combine, cooking about 1 more minute.  Spoon into the lettuce leaves and sprinkle on the sliced green onions.  Enjoy!

*Serve alongside extra sriracha, soy sauce or make a double batch of the sauce you made in the beginning to dip or drizzle over.

QuickChickenLettuceWraps

Red, White & Bleu Potato Salad

America the Beautiful.  Those three words are the absolute truth!  I am a proud American who absolutely loves the 4th of July.  Even as a young child, I’m not sure what it was exactly that this holiday brought me so much joy, but its always been my favorite.  No pretty, wrapped presents are involved, no Santa, no costumes and candy from door-to-door, just family, fireworks and delish food!

Now, I have quite a few potato salad recipes, but as a lover of meat n’ potatoes, I love to pair them with the unique flavor of blue cheese!  I know, I know, it’s not for everyone.  However, if you love this cheese as much as myself, than rest assured, you’ll love this alongside your steak hot off the grill!  If blue cheese isn’t your think, feel free to switch it out for chunks of cheddar for an equally great salad!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 lbs potatoes (I prefer red or baby purple potato medley for the appropriate 4th of July colors)
  • 1 package bacon, cooked & crumbled (reserve the grease)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green onion, sliced
  • 2-3oz bleu cheese crumbles, to taste
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Cut each rinsed potato into rough 1″ chunks and add to a large stockpot of salted water, bring to a boil until they are fork tender.  Meanwhile, crisp up the bacon, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate while reserving the bacon grease.

Drain the boiled potatoes and add to a large bowl.  While still hot, pour over the reserved bacon grease along with the cooked, crumbled bacon.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the bleu cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and the red and green onions.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the potatoes and toss to coat.  Top with any extra bacon and green onions.  Enjoy!!

 

RedWhiteandBleuPotatoSalad

Peach, Basil & Goat Cheese Pizza

As they say, simple is best!  Especially when it comes to summer suppers.  We often enjoy this with fresh peaches from our yard and if in the mood, we’ll even prepare this on the grill!  This sweet and savory pizza is perfect as an appetizer or paired with a side salad for a light dinner.  I kept this meal as light as can be with only four toppings, but feel free to add on what you wish.  Perhaps mozzarella, thinly sliced onion or red pepper flakes or pepperoncini’s for a kick!  Just remember…simplicity is key with this dish!

The Starting Lineup

Refrigerated pizza crust (i.e. Pillsbury’s BEST Classic Crust)
• 2 TBSP olive oil
• 1 -2 fresh peaches, pitted and sliced
• 4oz goat cheese
• 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
• Balsamic Glaze (*NOT to be confused for balsamic vinegar)

 
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Unroll your dough, place on a baking sheet or pizza stone and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the par-cooked dough and add on the peach slices and crumble the goat cheese overtop, place back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown.  Remove and immediately sprinkle on the fresh basil and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

*Bake dough according to your recipe or store-bought package directions. Remove halfway through, add toppings and finish baking. Dusting cornmeal under the dough before baking yields a great crunch!

PeachBasilGoatCheesePizza2

Dr. Pepper Popcorn

I’m pretty sure that if Dr. Pepper isn’t Texas’ official state drink, then it’s tied for first with sweet tea!  The bubbly, iconic soda pop is from small town Dublin, which located in our great state and we all have the deepest appreciation for it…or maybe the correct ‘A’ word is addiction. 😉

That being said, we always have a case of the famous Dr. P in our pantry ready to drink.  Though, this time, I decided to change things up a bit and instead of drinking it, why not eat it??  With snack time around the corner and an ample amount of popcorn sitting on the shelf next to it, the idea of a sweet and salty popcorn came to mind.

Really, this recipe couldn’t be easier and takes just minutes to prepare.  The only bummer is waiting that 20 minutes while the delicious mashup is baking in the oven!  So please, try to let cool before gobbling it all up!

 

The Starting Lineup

2 microwave bags plain popcorn, popped
• ¾ cup butter
• 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
• ½ cup Dr. Pepper
• ¼ cup light corn syrup
• Pinch of salt

*If handy, I also LOVE to add a handful or two of shelled peanuts to the mix!  Once coated and baked, they may be my favorite part of the entire recipe!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a medium sized saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, Dr. Pepper and corn syrup until it comes to a boil. Allow it to boil for about 4 minutes and don’t stir.

Pour over the popcorn (and peanuts) and toss to evenly coat. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

DrPepperPopcorn

Halibut Ceviche Veracruz

This Mexican-style ceviche is a perfect light snack or appetizer for these coming summer months.  Truth be told, I have eaten just this for my dinner on a hot, sunny evening.

The flavors here are bold, but still light and refreshing!  Zesty lime juice, brininess from the olives and capers, sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado chunks and a kick of the jalapeno.  I chose halibut for this, but you can use any sashimi-grade, firm white fish that is available to you.

I also love this meal because there is no need to even turn your oven on, keeping your kitchen cool.  So please give this simple, refreshing recipe a try!

The Starting Lineup

• 10oz halibut, cut into 1” cubes
• ½ cup of fresh lime juice
• 2 firm, ripe tomatoes, diced
• 1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced
• 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1 large avocado, chopped
• 12 Manzanilla (green) olives, pitted and halved
• 1 Tbsp capers
• Kosher salt & pepper

In a medium glass bowl, add the cubed halibut and pour the lime juice overtop, making sure all the fish is covered. Plastic wrap the bowl and place in your refrigerator for 2-3 hours, until the fish is opaque and firm.

Drain and pat dry your fish with a paper towel and place back in the bowl. To that, add in the diced tomatoes, serrano, cilantro and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and place back in the refrigerator, covered again, for at least 2 hours/up to 12 hours.

When ready to serve, add in the chopped avocado, green olives and capers. Serve immediately with corn tortilla chips.

HalibutCevicheVeracruz

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