“Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission.” ~ Andrew Jackson

I found another delicious salad that allows me to use my new favorite ingredient.

Quinoa.

Whats great about quinoa is that it’s very filling and pretty much takes on the flavor of the other ingredients with which it has been paired. Because of this, you can add it or serve it with most any salad or as a bed for a sauce in place of rice. It has been called the “perfect food”.

I am always finding new ways to try quinoa. I have a new recipe for a breakfast bowl that calls for it and I am dying to give it a try.

Stay tuned.

Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

(adapted from Damn Delicious)

Salad

  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup blueberry craisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Toss salad ingredients in large bowl, top with vinaigrette, toss again. Serve immediately.

** This can be made with any mixed green salad but I highly recommend keeping all other ingredients. **

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.

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-abp

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“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” ~ Pablo Picasso

One of my latest food obsession is Zoe’s Chicken Protein Plate. Actually, I’m pretty obsessed with anything Zoe’s – I’m sure you have noticed that I use their seasoning in most anything I cook that calls for seasoning.  If you don’t have a Zoe’s near you – I am truly sorry. 😦

Luckily, I have one practically in my back yard!

Back to the Protein plate. I’m a carb girl, so this is pretty impressive that I love it so. My mom and I usually get one and split it for lunch a couple times a week. The plate has Zoe’s signature slaw and their grilled chicken and onions.  The chicken and onions is pretty self explanatory but I had to Google the copy cat recipe of the slaw. Both SUPER easy.

The ease of picking it up really can not be beat but I wanted to make it for dinner one night and when making it for more than 2 – it is more cost efficient.

Zoe’s Slaw

(copycat recipe)

  • 1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6 ounce) package crumbled feta
  • 6 -7 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I used a splash of white vinegar along with this)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
Mix all ingredients except for feta cheese in a large bowl. When well combined, stir in the cheese.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

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“I like the cold weather. It means you get work done.” ~ Noam Chomsky

Brrrrr.

It’s that time of year again.

Cold.

Brutally cold.

At least in Southerners terms.

If it doesn’t get out of the 40’s, like today, I do not get out of the house.

Well, if I can help it.

Luckily, today I had nothing pressing to do outside of the home so I am staying in and have spent most of the morning in the kitchen.

It’s nice and warm in there with the oven on.

This gave me an opportunity to try a couple things that have been on my “want to do” list.

One being the very simple Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

  • 1 Box Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Confectioners Sugar Glaze

Preheat oven to 350º.

Mix together cake mix, pumpkin, vanilla and nuts

Scoop even amounts into a lined muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Top with a sprinkle of confectioners sugar and prepared Sugar Glaze (recipe below)

Sugar Glaze

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

Stir milk into sugar. Add vanilla. Drizzle on cupcakes.

May be thickened with confectioners’ sugar or thinned with milk.

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This would be a great last minute breakfast or snack to throw together because it’s quick, simple and you could easily have all the ingredients in your pantry.

-abp

“I’m a maniacal perfectionist.” ~ Martha Stewart

I am very impressed with people who can put dinner on the table and every single bit be homemade, every single time.

I can do it and have done it but I have found that if you really want to try and cook at home most weeknights, you have to take shortcuts or you will burn out.

I have gotten to the point that if I have cooked the main dish, I don’t feel too bad if I heat up a can of green beans or corn to go with it.

Or both.

Don’t judge. I never claimed to be Martha Stewart. 🙂

Here is one of those “I only have a short amount of time and a short amount of energy” dinners.

A main dish and canned veggies.

Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders

  • 1/4 cup of grainy, coarse mustard
  • 1/4 cup smooth dijion mustard
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-5 small sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided

In a small bowl, combine the mustards, honey, and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil.

In a sauté pan or cast iron skillet, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Add the onion and the leaves of one rosemary sprig and sauté over medium heat until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 – 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Transfer the onion and garlic to an oven safe dish (or if the saute pan you used is oven safe, you can just use it). Place the chicken on top of onion/garlic mixture. Salt and pepper the tops of the chicken to taste.

Pour the honey mustard mixture on top of the chicken. Arrange the rosemary sprigs around the chicken in the pan.

Bake the chicken covered at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then remove the cover, baste the chicken with the sauce, and continue to cook for an additional 20 – 30 minutes uncovered, or until the chicken is browned on top and cooked through.

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This was really so very good!! It was actually much better than I even expected it to be!! The flavors were fabulous and the chicken was incredibly tender. It will most definitely go on the weeknight rotation.

2 side notes:

1. The sauce was so good that I would omit the canned corn and add a bag of “boil in the bag” (keepin’ it simple) rice, then serve the chicken and the sauce on top of it.

2. I LOVE rosemary so I would never leave it out but if you are not a fan or do not have it on hand, this recipe could easily be made without it and it would be your basic Honey Mustard Chicken but still delicious!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

-abp

“To me, my recipes are priceless.” ~ Colonel Sanders

Since I have now been on an almost year long quest to loose the baby weight, most of the recipes that would normally catch my eye while skimming Pinterest, magazines, cookbooks etc. have fallen to the wayside.

Those recipes being anything with the word creamy, creamier, and creamiest in the title.

Now, while perusing for new recipes, I refuse to click on them or I just keep flipping the page.

Although, last week, while flipping through the latest Cooking Light Magazine, I came across the recipe – Creamy Pork Chops and Mushrooms.

Wait a minute.

Those two things (Cooking Light and creamy) normally do not go together.

I was intrigued.

So, I gave it a whirl.

I’m very glad I did! These flavors were wonderful together and yes, I got to have a guilt free creamy dish!

Creamy Pork Chops and Mushrooms

(adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 1 cup unseasoned long-grain and wild rice blend
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut loin pork chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 12 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (or any mushroom blend that is not white button mushrooms)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used dried because I had it)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  1. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
  2. While rice cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add rosemary, mushrooms, and onion to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle mushrooms with flour; toss to coat. Stir in vinegar and chicken stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return pork chops and any accumulated juices to pan. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper into rice. Arrange pork chops on a serving platter. Simmer sauce, uncovered, 2 additional ­minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in sour cream. Serve pork chops with mushroom sauce and rice.

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My husband raved over this.  He said it was restaurant worthy. That always makes me smile. 🙂

-abp

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

You wanna know a sure fire way that you are officially a “grown up”?

When you feel like a kid at Christmas, I mean pure giddy over getting a new appliance.

I realized this a couple years ago when I got a deep freezer for the garage. But that does not even compare to the excitement of getting my new Vitamix in the mail!! Fun times!!!

Remember this is coming from the same girl who has been known to clean out the pantry on New Year’s Eve.

And call it a very successful night.

But, come on ladies (and gents), you know what I mean!!

It also means my poor husband will be drinking half his meals for the next couple weeks or until the new wears off!

Here is an example:

Blueberry Banana Oat Smoothie

  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 Tablespoon flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.

(makes one smoothie)

Yum!

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-abp

“As long as there’s a few farmers out there, we’ll keep fighting for them.” ~ Willie Nelson

One of the things I love about the spring and summer is the River Market Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning!

It’s a fabulous way to start your Saturday morning! There is just something about it that makes me happy. 🙂

Growing up on a farm with a huge garden will pretty much spoil you to any other kind of vegetables. Unfortunately, for years I had to do without such fresh homegrown vegetables but with the new interest in fresh homegrown food – I am now able to get a little bit of my childhood back.

I love to just look around a grab a few things for the rest of the week but today I had several things on my list that I had to have for tonight’s dinner and they did not disappoint.

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Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables

  • 4 ounces uncooked ziti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Cook pasta according to directions and preheat oven to 400º.

Sauté squash, zucchini and onion in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add tomato and garlic for 3-5 more minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (minus the cooking spray).

Then add cheese mixture to vegetable mixture and pour into an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

 

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“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen

When I think of flavorful foods, I normally think rich, heavy, warm foods.

Maybe that has been my problem when it comes to not wanting more figure-friendly food.

Case in point, a lean pork tenderloin.

You have to have some thick, rich, heavy sauce to combat the plainness of it, right??

Well, guess what? You don’t!

Below is a way to spice up your grilled tenderloin without all the fat and calories!

It’s pretty too! Perfect for a summer meal on the patio. 🙂

Cantaloupe and Red Pepper Salsa

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

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“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people” ~Abraham Lincoln

I stepped totally out of the box on this one, folks.

This is a recipe I would normally skipped right on past.

But it was the Fourth of July and what better fits that holiday more than watermelon?

– Not much.

And who is trying to lose baby weight?

– Me.

So I thought “why not?”.

I was still skeptical even as I filled the bowls but after all the garnish was applied, it all came together.

The flavors were amazing together and every bite was better than the last!!

Watermelon Gazpacho

1 large tomato, pureed
1/2 Serrano chile
2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 cucumber, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a blender, puree the tomatoes, chile, and 1/2 of the watermelon. Pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil and pulse. Add the onion, cucumber and dill and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour into chilled bowls and sprinkle with dill, feta, and remaining watermelon.

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-abp

“You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Believe me – I’m not a health nut.

I would love to be but I cannot even pretend to be.

I know lately all I seem to be posting are lighter, healthier meals but let’s be honest, I’m not trying to be health conscious – I still have baby weight to lose!! 🙂

So one of the “healthy” things I now incorporate with my meals is using whole wheat pasta. This is because I need to not because I want to. I still vastly prefer the regular but what can you do?

I will tell you! You make a fabulous sauce that masks any taste you are not particularly found of in the whole wheat pasta.

Here’s an example.

Chicken and Penne Pasta with Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Stir together lemon juice and minced shallot; let stand 5 minutes. Whisk in olive oil, parsley, honey, and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

For the Pasta:

  • 2 – 3 pan grilled chicken breasts or 2-3 cups rotisserie chicken (can be served whole or chopped, shredded)
  • 1 (16-oz.) package whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 (8-oz.) package thin green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1.5 cup Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans to boiling water during last 6 minutes of cooking time; drain. Rinse pasta mixture under cold running water until cool; drain. Toss together chicken, pasta mixture, tomatoes, and vinaigrette. Just before serving, stir in dill, and add salt/pepper and feta to taste.

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-abp