“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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-abp

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“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” ~ Robert H. Schuller

I have been on a quest for interesting, great tasting salads.

On Facebook I talked about needing to get more salads (with some kind of protein) into my diet.

But they had to be good!

As I have mentioned before – everything I blog about comes from something I have cooked to eat with my family. I only wish my blog was impressive enough that I actually cooked full time for it. But sadly, not yet. A girl can dream, though!  🙂

So when the thought of a serious diet started, I questioned it with – “What in the world will I be able to blog?” I can’t write about a bagged salad with grilled chicken and a bottled lite vinaigrette every week!

I received lots of great feedback from my friends on Facebook and I foraged Pinterest, because of this, I am starting to get a pretty good list going.

The following is an example.

Apple Harvest Salad

(adapted from Life Made Simple)

Salad

  • 6 cups of lightly packed spinach, torn
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 large fugi apple
  • ½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ Craisins
  • ½ feta cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 2 tsp. minced shallot
  • 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Add greens to a large dinner plate or salad bowl. Top with the cooked (and cooled) quinoa, apple chunks, pepitas and craisins.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the shallot and vinegar in a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil by pouring in a steady stream, whisking vigorously until emulsified. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.

Serve alone or with a protein.

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-abp

“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

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” ~ Mario Andretti

You know what my favorite thing is about shrimp dishes?

How fast they cook!

Granted, for it to be quick, you need to buy peeled and de-veined shrimp. (worth every penny IMO!)

Although I’m at home most of the time now – my time is not my own, so quick and tasty meals are perfect for a week night meal.

This is a perfect example.

 Baked Greek Shrimp

(adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Greek Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons bottled clam juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese$
  • 1 tablespoons dried parsley

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine lemon juice, greek seasoning and shrimp in a large bowl; toss well.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion to pan; sauté 2-3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add clam juice, wine, oregano, pepper, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp mixture. Place mixture in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheese evenly over mixture.

Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until shrimp are done and cheese melts. Sprinkle with parsley; serve over cooked orzo.

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“In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.” ~ Winston Churchill

I guess I’m going to have to eat a little crow.

I was for sure there was no way that I could find (or if I did, enjoy) any lighter (i.e. diet) meals to cook at home.

I’m a southern cook – I like butter and lots of bread. Both preferably fried.

But no need to fret because this leopard has not changed its spots. I have just expanded my horizons a bit and I’m so glad I did because I really needed to start working on this baby weight but cooking is my joy and I was afraid I would be bound to lettuce and grilled chicken forever.

Here is one of my new finds.

Greek Stuffed Chicken with Mango Sauce

(adapted from The Chew)

Chicken

  • 10 oz feta cheese
  • 1 cup packed spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (the kind in the jar)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Greek seasoning
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin

Mango Sauce

  • 1 large or 2 small mangoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
  • 1/2 Jalapeno pepper with ribs and seeds removed, minced

Preheat oven to 375º.

In a medium bowl, mix feta, spinach, parsley, garlic, olive oil and pepper.

Divide mixture between the 4 chicken breasts. Fold over, season with greek seasoning.

Place in greased pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring all sauce ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Serve over chicken.

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-abp

“You know what the secret to weight loss is? Don’t eat much.” ~ Simon Cowell

Okay, I’ve been on this healthier, lower carb, gotta loose some baby weight diet for the past few days.

I’ve never liked it, never been good at it and pretty much know I will never stick to it for long but sometimes it just has to be done.

This time around though, I’ve tried to be creative with my “chicken”. Think outside the box a little. So last night, instead of a typical grilled chicken salad – I decided to step it up with Taziki’s Friday Pasta Salad. (with whole grain pasta, of course)

It was fabulous – it did not feel like diet food at all, which is good because I would just as soon eat nothing than eat blah food.

The recipe below is for the full recipe of the dressing which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and is great to throw on any salad. The remaining ingredients can be adjusted to how many you are serving. Of course you could always half the dressing too.

Taziki’s Friday Pasta

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon green onion or shallot, minced
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 3 chicken breasts, seasoned with Greek seasoning and pan fried, chopped
  • 1 lb of whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bag mixed greens
  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • Handful of chopped basil

For the dressing, put first 6 ingredients through mustard in bowl, mix. Then slowly whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered for at least 30 minutes.

Combine chopped chicken and cooked pasta and coat with dressing (amount determined by how much you made)

Mix greens and place a serving size on each plate. Top with pasta/chicken mixture. Then sprinkle tomatoes, feta and basil.

You may want to add a little dressing to your greens as well. Just a personal preference and how healthy you want to be. 😉

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-abp