Monday, July 11, 2016

Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken

This dinner is so simple and so perfect for those hot and humid summer nights.  I really can't think of a dinner that I crave more right now.  It's light, healthy and really versatile.  You can really change it up to suit your needs.  If you need it to be vegan, leave out the feta and chicken.  If you're looking for vegetarian, swap the chicken for shrimp or salmon.  If you don't like onions, just leave them out.  I think the dressing makes this salad really delicious so you can add in or take out anything you like.  It's also very quick.  I can have this dinner on the table in 30-40 minutes start to finish.  My kids really like it, although they will pick around the tomatoes and onions.  If I pair this salad with one of my favorite Albariños, their whining about the tomatoes and onions becomes tolerable!  I recommend eating this salad al fresco and definitely with a glass of white wine.   Enjoy this light summer dinner!  

I like to eat this salad with Pita too and a sprinkle of Za'atar seasoning for an extra tasty Mediterranean kick. 

It's helpful to scrape out the cucumbers.  Sometimes the seeds can make the salad too watery.

I like the cut the Feta into small cubes.  Thinly slice the red onion, leave the pitted olives whole and half the tomatoes.  The cucumbers can be cut into 1/4 inch half rounds.  

I like the chicken to be really tender so I try to marinate it over night.  If you forget, marinating for a few hours will work too.  I also try and pound it really flat so it only takes about 5 minutes per side to grill.  

Here are some of the brands that I really like.

La Recette:

2 lbs organic chicken breasts, pounded thin to about 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large head organic romaine lettuce, chopped
1 large English cucumber, halved the long way and seeds scraped, cut into half rounds
3/4 cup Feta cheese, cubed
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Peperoncini peppers for garnish -add as many as you like

For the dressing-
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon of maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pita* and Za'atar - optional
-Za'atar is a spice blend generally made up of Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Sesame Seeds, salt, and Sumac.

Chef's knife
Cutting board (I like to use two - one for veggies and one for chicken)
Measuring cups and spoons 
Microplane - optional
Meat tenderizer 
Plastic bag
Baking dish
Large serving dish
Medium bowl

-Preferably the night before, place the chicken in a large plastic bag (Ziploc style) and pound the chicken to about a 1/4 inch thick.  The link below with show how I flatten the chicken and what tools I use.
Dump in the 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper, olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar.  Make sure it's sealed and shake the bag for about 30 seconds.  Pour the chicken into the baking dish and let it sit covered in the fridge over night or for a least 2 hours.
-After the chicken has marinaded, take it out of the fridge and prepare the grill.  If grilling isn't convenient, you can bake the chicken as well.  Make sure your grill is hot.  I spray my grill with an organic canola oil and grill about five minutes per side.  Remove the chicken from the grill and set on a cutting board.  Let it cool for 10 minutes and thinly slice.
-In the meantime, layer all the veggies in your serving platter/bowl.  Start with the romaine, then cucumbers, feta, olives, tomatoes, onions, chicken and garnish with the Peperoncini.
-For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients into the medium bowl.  Whisk vigorously for 15-20 seconds.  The dressing lasts in the fridge for about a week.  I love homemade salad dressing.  

-This serves 3-4 adults.

*The gluten free pita that I like to use is called My Bread.  I always find it at Whole Foods.  It is delicious.  Hopefully soon I will start experimenting with making my own GF pita.  

Gorgeous head of Romaine!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Banana Smoothie

I have a confession to make.  I can't stand lunch.  As far as the three meals go...lunch is by far my least favorite.  Unless I'm in the south of France drinking a nice rosé with some oysters on the side - I'm not interested in lunch.  Unfortunately, I don't frequent the Côte d'Azur very often (meaning never) and usually I make a meal out of my daughters grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly crusts.  Which surprisingly isn't as bad as it sounds but there isn't much nutritional value there.  I need something that is quick, tasty and nutritious.  This little smoothie is a great combination.  It has your good fat, protein, and fruit.  It's quick and delicious...I just might become a lunch person.  Next up, I'll invent a rosé smoothie!  Enjoy and I'm sure your kiddos are going to want some sips of your smoothie too!  

All of the ingredients you need for the smoothie minus the cocoa powder and the ice.  Super easy.  

La Recette:

1 frozen banana
1/2 cup organic vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup ice
2 tablespoons organic creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blender, food processor, or Vitamix
Measuring cups and spoons

-Combine all ingredients in the Vitamix except for the ice, blend until smooth.
-Next, add in the ice and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

*Makes one serving.  Double or triple recipe to make more.
**One serving is 375 calories

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Linzer Cookies

I LOVE Valentine's Day and these Linzer Cookies are a perfect treat.  They require just a few ingredients and it's a great project to do with your kids.  They are egg free and can easily be made vegan by replacing the butter with Earth Balance Vegan Sticks.  If you are using butter I recommend using a European style of butter which contains more butterfat.  I used the Barefoot Contessa's recipe.  I love this women.  She has inspired so many of my recipes.  Because I have watched a countless amount of her shows and made a ton of her recipes, she really gave me the courage to start gluten free cooking and baking.  I hope I can meet her one day.  It would be a dream come true.  Anyways, it's a super simple recipe and I think it makes a fantastic Valentine's dessert.  Both my kids claimed to not like raspberry preserves but gobbled them up after they were made.  If your kids really don't like preserves, you can use Nutella or chocolate.  You can use a heart shaped cookie cutter or a round cookie cutter.  If you don't have either, you can use a drinking glass as a round cookie cutter.  I cut the small heart in the center free hand just using a paring knife.  I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day filled with love and enjoy these cookies! 

As always with gluten free dough, make sure it's really cold and I use a spatula to help pick up the shapes after they are cut.  

You can use any shape you like.  I personally like the heart shape with the fluted edges.

La Recette:

-3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature (substitute Earth Balance for vegan version)
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-3 1/2 cups gluten free baking mix (if you don't need gf sub AP* flour)
-1/4 salt
-3/4 cup raspberry preserves (I really like Bonne Maman)
-Confectioners' sugar for dusting

-Electric mixer or large bowl with mixing spoons
-Medium sized bowl
-Measuring spoons and cups
-Rolling pin
-Parchment paper
-Plastic wrap
-Baking sheets
-Cookie cutter of your choosing
-Paring knife
-Small fine mesh strainer for dusting

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar until just combined.
-Next, add in the vanilla.
-In a medium bowl, mix the gluten free baking mix and salt together.  Then add the mix to the butter and sugar mixture.
-Mix on low until the dough starts to come together.
-Spread two pieces of plastic wrap onto the counter.  Dump the dough onto the plastic wrap and divide equally.   Shape both into a flat disks.  Cover the dough with the plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.  
-When you are ready to roll the dough, place parchment paper on the counter.  Unwrap the dough disks and put onto the parchment.  Roll one disk out at a time.  Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough.  Let the dough sit for 5 minutes at room temp.  Gluten free dough is very delicate.  It will look like it's cracking at the edges but roll it out slowly and you'll get to the desired thickness.  You'll roll out the dough between to two pieces of paper - much easier with gluten free.
-Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Using the cookie cutter, cut out the shapes and place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.   Space them about 2 inches apart.  On half of the cookies cut out a smaller heart shape. 
-Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes.  
-Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cookies brown slightly.
-Cool to room temperature and spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie.
-Dust the top of the cut out cookie with confectioners' sugar.  
-Press the cookies together so the preserves are in the middle and the confectioners' sugar is on top.

*All purpose
**It depends on your cookie cutter size, but my medium (2-2.5 inch diameter) heart cutter makes 20-24 cookies. 
***Once you cut out the cookie shapes, you can gather the dough scraps and re-roll the dough.  Only do this once and it may need to be refrigerated again before rolling.  

-If you need some Valentine song suggestions, try adding these to your playlist.  Some of my favorites and fun to listen to while you're baking ;)

1.  Sugar, Maroon 5
2.  Juntos, Juanes
3.  Chet Baker, Vanessa Paradis
4.  My Funny Valentine, Chaka Khan
5.  I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash

One of my funny Valentines...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Linguine with Avocado Sauce

I've been on a very long hiatus but I think you'll really enjoy this dish.  It's such a great way to get on a healthy eating kick because this pasta is very decadent but full of all the good fats and none of the bad.  It's super quick and convenient when you need to get your kids to eat some greens.  Most kids love avocado, but mine just eat it occasionally.  So, when they were happily eating this dinner without complaining and even commenting on how much they liked it (gasp), I wanted to get up and dance on the table.  Cooking for your kids can feel unrewarding at times.  There is a lot of complaining, especially when you are trying to get them to eat something healthy, and not a lot of appreciation.  This dinner, however, is a real winner.  It can be made vegan by omitting the cheese and I can't think of a dinner that is so delicious and so easy.  You can definitely have this meal done in less than thirty minutes.  The scallions and lemon give it an extra tasty zing.  It takes less than ten ingredients, many of which you might already have in your fridge.  Please put this meal in your line up when you are looking for something new.   My posts will now be coming on a more regular basis so get ready to make some delicious meals, snacks and desserts!

Pictured above are all of the ingredients you'll need for this recipe!

La Recette:

-12 oz. linguini (I love Bionaturae's gluten free pasta)
-2 avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
-1 garlic clove smashed
-3 scallions roughly chopped 
-zest and juice of 1 lemon
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 teaspoon of kosher salt 
-1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
-1/2 cup of chopped Italian Parsley
-1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional)

-blender, food processor, or Vitamix
-chef's knife
-cutting board
-zester or microplane
-measuring cups and spoons
-stock pot (for the pasta)

-Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta until al dente. 
-In the meantime, combine the avocado, garlic, scallions, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper into the blender.  Blend until creamy.
-When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Then drain the pasta.  Add the reserved pasta water to the avocado sauce and blend until smooth.
-Add the avocado sauce to the pasta and toss well to coat.
-Plate the pasta and garnish with the parsley and cheese (optional).    

*Serves 4

I can't help but share my absolute favorite dress from the SAG Awards on Saturday night.    Alicia Vikander is wearing such a stunning geometric print and sequined gown from Louis Vuitton.  In my opinion, she is by far the best dressed of the night.  She looks perfect.

Photo credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...