Adding a Little Fruity Goodness to Summer

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit. Adding fruit to any dish provides a fun twist to lighten it up and to make it more refreshing. With that being said, this Farro, Walnut, and Cherry salad from Cooking Light is exactly the kind of dish I’m talking about. It’s easy and loaded with fresh cherries, a fruit that adds the perfect amount of fruity goodness.
 
ImageFor this salad you’ll need:
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked farro
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 3/4 lb. (about two cups) sweet cherries, pitted and halved (A great excuse to visit a local farmer’s market!)
  • 2/3 c. celery, diced
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 c. packed fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Bring those 5 cups of water to a boil, adding the farro and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook for about 15 minutes. Once done, drain and cool at room temperature. Next you’ll want to combine the farro, cherries, celery, walnuts, and parsley in a large bowl. Then, combine the lemon juice, mustard, honey, pepper, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and stir with a whisk. Gradually add the oil and continue to whisk till all dressing ingredients are mixed. Lastly, pour that bowl of goodness over the farro and cherry mixture and enjoy!

I loved this salad so much I took a huge container of it back on the train with me! It’s a delicious summer dish that easy to make in bulk (can someone say party side dish??) and it pairs fantastically with grilled balsamic chicken or a tender juicy skirt steak. I’m telling you, nothing beats a summer dish with a helping of fruit. You have to test this out, it won’t let you down. But until next time, keep eating!

Chill Out With These Enchiladas

I never get tired of Mexican food. There are so many unique dishes with different flavor profiles making the options endless. If you told me that I could make an awesome Mexican dinner in less than 30 minutes, I would say ‘sign me up.’ Cooking Light told me that with their Chicken Verde Enchiladas, which are made in under 30 minutes, and I did not hesitate one second to rip out the recipe out and buy the ingredients.
 
ImageFor this dish you’ll need:
  • 3/4 cup pre-chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
  • 2 tablespoons sliced pickled jalapeño pepper
  • 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, coarsely mashed
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shaved
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

First, place oven rack in lower third of oven, and preheat broiler to high. Then, combine first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until heated. Remove from heat. Stir in tomato, sour cream, and avocado. Next, stack the tortillas and wrap in damp paper towels. Microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds. Spoon 1 cup chicken mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in baking dish. Top with cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.  For the finishing touch, sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

I could not even let these cool down before digging in. I was hooked. I loved the fresh avocado within the enchiladas–it brought down the spice of the jalapeno and gave the dish a cooling element. The crispy broiled cheese added a gooey as well as a crunch component. Hands down, I would make this recipe again–I’m so excited that I have leftovers for the week. Test it out–I’d love to hear your thoughts/feedback. But until next time, keep eating!

Simple Summer Chicken

I’m excited to share I found another summer dish I can’t get enough of: Greek-Style Chicken Breasts from Cooking Light’s May issue. It brings together all of the wonderful Mediterranean flavors while being light and refreshing, perfect as the weather gets warmer.
 
ImageFor this dish you’ll need:
  • 4 (6oz.) skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 3/4 c. vertically sliced onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 oz. chopped and pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 medium tomato, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan, cooking for 6 minutes on each side. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. Then add onion and garlic, saute for 4 minutes, then add the olives and tomato. Cook everything for 3 minutes or until the tomato begins to break down. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley oregano and lemon juice. Lastly, top the chicken with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with feta.

Cooking Light serves this dish with herbed gold potatoes but I also found this dish pairs exceptionally well with pasta or quinoa. Adding a grain definitely rounds out the dish–I highly recommend it! The only thing that could make this dish better would be to have a deck or patio I could eat it outside on 🙂 Test this chicken out–it’s quick and absolutely delicious–you won’t be disappointed (I’m ashamed to admit I ate almost the entire pot, it’s THAT good). But until next time, keep eating!

Easy ‘A’ rtichokes

Artichokes are the perfect go-to food. They taste amazing, they’re easy to make, and they have multiple health benefits. Normally, I would steam them but this time, and of course in keeping with the springtime theme, I wanted to try something new.
For this recipe you’ll need:
  • 6 c. water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 18 baby artichokes (about 1 3/4 lbs.)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 425. Combine water and 3 tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl. Cut off top 1/2 inch of artichokes, then cut the stems to within 1 inch of base. Peel the stems and remove tough outer leaves so the tender cores are left. Halve and add to water. Next, drain the artichokes and pat dry. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl. Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add half of the artichoke mixture to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Repeat with the rest of the artichoke mixture. Return everything to the pan, add lemon slices and rosemary, and bake for 20 minutes. Once done, remove rosemary and blackened lemon rinds, and enjoy!

They are SO good. So there you have it–a fool-proof side perfect for the warm weather. Can’t go wrong with that in my book. I paired mine with a tender, juicy flank steak and crispy polenta, but you can have it practically with anything you want. Test it out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

Asparagus With Lots of ‘A’ Game

Words cannot describe how excited I am that the weather is finally getting nicer and warmer. Today I thought what better way to ring in spring than with a shaved asparagus salad with Manchego and almonds. I’ve never had shaved asparagus before and I have to say I would make it again (a little time consuming but completely worth it.)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. walnut oil (if you don’t have this you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil)
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 oz. Manchego cheese, shaved (about 1/4 c.)

My favorite part (aside from the eating the salad part) was making the salad. First combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and stir using a whisk. Using a sharp peeler, thinly peel asparagus to equal 3 c. of ribbons. Add asparagus and parsley to the bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Next, combine 8 cups water and white vinegar in a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Break each egg into a custard cup and pour gently into pan. Cook for three minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove the eggs from pan using a slotted spoon. Finally, serve, asparagus on plate first, then almonds, next the egg and finally top with cheese.

I unfortunately was under a time crunch and being that I have never poached an egg before I simply fried mine (it still tasted delicious!) but that’s my goal for the weekend. Poach. an. egg. Wish me luck! Definitely try this salad, you won’t regret it! But until next time, keep eating!

A Salad That Packs A Punch

Have you ever had a dish you just can’t get enough of? This Southwestern Steak Salad just about does it for me–bet you didn’t think I was going to salad did you?. I absolutely love steak and unfortunately I don’t eat it as much as I would like (but then again I guess that’s a good thing). What I love about this salad is that the spiciness of the chipotle chiles in adobe pairs so well the steak.

Image

Southwestern Steak SaladFor this dish you’ll need:

For this salad you’ll need:

  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce (torn)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • tomatoes (grape or fresh Jersey tomatoes work here)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 c. olive oil

First, cook the steak however you prefer–I cooked mine on the grill but pan-frying it works just as well. In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine chile, lime juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and any juices from the steak (this sounds a little gross but TRUST me this takes the flavor to a whole other level). Finally, pour the dressing over the salad, add steak, and toss once more.

Now I wasn’t kidding when I said this was easy. Easy and utterly delicious. I just bought the ingredients to make this salad this week, and I can’t wait. This salad is certainly enough for dinner and I suggest adding a grilled piece of bread to soak up the amazing dressing. Let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

‘Just Beet It’ Rice Bowl

If you’re looking for a awesome healthy dinner, I must say Cooking Light‘s Brown Rice bowl (paired with five different toppings of your choice) is perfect.
 
ImageFor tonight I choose the ‘Just Beet It’ topping. Simply start with 3/4 c. brown rice (you can use quick precooked rice or make a pot of it, it just depends on how much time you have). Then you’ll need:
  • 2/3 c. thinly sliced and halved roasted beets
  • 2 tsp. walnut oil
  • 1 tbsp. dry-roasted, salted pistachios
  • 1/2 baby arugula
  • 1 tbsp. thinly sliced shallot
  • 2 tbsp. crumbled goat cheese

Once the rice is done, combine the flavors and there you have it. An insanely quick, healthy, and delicious meal.

If beets aren’t your thing, opt for the ‘Steak and Greens’ or the ‘Balsamic Cranberry Pork.’ You can even make up your own rice bowl and add the toppings of your choice. I’d love to hear other creative topping ideas! But until next time, keep eating!

 

A Night of the Sides

I’m always on the hunt for a delicious side dish. I would argue that a good side dish can make a meal. And this is side dish is a showstopper. Tomato and feta Asparagus from Cooking Light. Now it may sound simple but boy does it pack a punch.
ImageWhat you’ll need:
  • 1 lb. trimmed asparagus
  • 1 1/2 c. grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 oz. crumbled goat cheese (I substituted in feta)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tomatoes and olive oil on a pan and toss. Bake for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, add the asparagus and bake for 9 minutes. Once done, top with balsamic, salt, pepper, and feta. Voila! Simple and delicious. The tomatoes and asparagus get a nice char on them from the oven, almost giving them the flavor as if they were cooked on the grill. There’s something about the tomato, feta, and asparagus combo that never gets old. Throw in some balsamic and BAM there you have it–a side dish that can easily win the hearts of anyone who tries it.

There are 5 other different flavor profiles in the article that I can’t wait to try. Next up: Red pepper and Manchego (one of my favorite cheeses!). Asparagus is the perfect side to any main–chicken, fish, steak, you name it! Test some of the different combos out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

Sesame-Carrot Salad

Found: the perfect side for any stir fry. Sesame-carrot salad from Cooking Light. 
 
ImageI must say I do cook my fair share of stir frys–it’s great excuse to use up every vegetable you have laying around (within reason of course). The other night, as I was cooking vegetables for my stir fry, I realized I wanted something more. Something new and different that I haven’t made before, while at the same time complimenting my all-time favorite stir fry accessory: Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce. It’s just a little bit of heaven in a bottle.
 
And this sesame-carrot salad was it. Combine 3 c. matchstick-cut carrots, 1 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, 1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. dark sesame oil, 1 tsp. lower-sodium soy sauce’ and 1 tsp. ground pepper. Simply throw all these ingredients in a bowl and toss well to coat. Easy as pie and it provides a nice crunch alongside the stir fry. 
 
If you love a good stir fry as much as I do, try this out! But until next time, keep eating! 

This Dish is Hot Hot Hot!

It’s no secret how much I love my crock pot so naturally I’m on the lookout for any recipe that requires me to use it. My latest crock pot find: Spicy Chicken Cacciatore from Cooking Light
 
The thing I love about chicken is that it really doesn’t take long to cook once it’s in a crock pot (unlike pork or beef which can take hours). The hands-on time for this recipe is about 25 minutes, that’s music to my ears.
 
ImageFor this recipe you’ll need:
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 c. chopped onion
  • 2 c. chopped red bell pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 dry red wine
  • 1/2 tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can unsalted, petite diced tomatoes. undrained
  • chopped parsley (for a garnish)

1. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken in it; shake to remove excess flour.

2. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat; add oil. Add chicken and cook until browned (about 4 min.). Once done, place chicken in your crock pot.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for about 4 min. Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 min.

4. Add the bell pepper mixture, tomato puree, and next 6 ingredients (through diced tomatoes) to the crock pot. Make sure you mix everything and cover all the chicken.

5. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 4 hours or until chicken is tender. Once done, serve over a grain of your choice (you’ll REALLY want to soak up all the extra sauce) and top with the parsley.

This is a dish worth trying whether you eat the chicken as is or on top of a grain such as polenta or pasta. The crushed red pepper gives the dish that spicy kick and after cooking in the incredible sauce, the chicken becomes deliciously tender. Test this out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!