Friday, January 30, 2015

Power Spinach Salad with Chicken and Farro

It seems unreal that I'm back here.  It's probably been like 2 years, I don't even know!  All I know is that my passion for food and cooking has never gone away, life has just taken the front seat.  Now that my children are 13, 12 and 9, I find myself in the car most of the day dropping off, picking up, waiting in line, etc.  Which means my time in the kitchen is quick and to the point most nights.   No time for pictures, or writing down recipes, it's all quick and off the top of my head.
Anyway, I figure it's a new year and a new opportunity to get back to what I love...sharing my recipes and ideas with anyone who wants to listen.  Who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself and do this once a week :)
A few weeks back I decided to do my bi-annual detox meal plan.  Pretty much it consists of low-carb, no sugar, no alcohol, low-fat, high "good for you" foods :)
I stuck with it for about 14 days.  It always feels good to cut out sugar.  I don't know why I crave it so, but when I do without for 14 days, I actually enjoy not having it!!
This was a salad I made myself for lunch during my detox.  It was more than satisfying and I felt so good about myself while eating it!  I cooked the chicken and the farro the day before, so it was very, very simple to throw together.
If your unfamiliar with Farro, I suggest you give it a try.  You can find it just about anywhere now...I found mine at Trader Joe's.  It's a grain that is nutty and satisfying.  It has about 7 grams of protein per serving and I believe (don't quote me) that it's a low-gluten food.  It's not gluten free, but has less gluten than wheat.  You can serve it as you would rice, you can add to soups, you can use it cold in salads, or you can eat it for breakfast like you would oatmeal.  It may be good mixed in some yogurt!

Here's my take on a power salad, hope you enjoy!



  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken 
  • 1/2 cup farro, cooked according to package directions (I cooked mine in chicken broth)
  • avocado slices
  • grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • cucumber sliced, about 1/4 cup
  • canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. crumbled feta
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • half fresh lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  Place the spinach in a bowl or on a plate.  Pile up all ingredients over spinach except lemon, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Squeeze in some of the lemon juice.  Pour a small amount over salad and stir.  Use more dressing if desired.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Skillet Focaccia - one hour

I was in the mood for homemade bread last night to go with my homemade garden fresh tomato sauce.  It was one of those days that I got to be home and in my kitchen...just how I like it!  I had just picked a ton of tomatoes from my garden so I committed myself to making sauce and then thought, well what else could I make?  Bread!!  I had remembered seeing this one hour recipe and using the cast iron skillet made it sound all the more appealing.  I LOVE my cast iron skillet...LOVE IT!  If you don't have one, I suggest getting on Amazon right now, ordering a 10-inch skillet with a lid.  I promise you will fall in love with it too, from baking brownies, to frying up crispy potatoes, or my favorite...bacon!  Anyway, now that I know I can make bread in it, I am a happy baker :)

Honestly, I think this recipe took less than an hour start to finish.  It was so easy I would recommend anyone who is afraid of homemade bread to start with this recipe.  I made a couple slight changes to the recipe, but nothing big.  The recipe came from HERE and she has step-by-step pictures too .

Skillet Focaccia Bread - One Hour

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, or a little chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
1.  Place water and sugar in bowl of a stand mixer.  Stir until sugar has dissolved. 
2 Add yeast, stir and let sit about 5 minutes or until bubbly.
3. Turn mixer on low and add 1 cup flour and salt.  Mix until combined.
4.  Add olive oil and mix well.
5.  Gradually add as much of the second cup of flour as needed, mixing until dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl.  You most likely will only use about 3/4 cup of the flour.  Save the rest of the flour for rolling.
6.  Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees then turn oven off (leaving door closed).
7. Grease 10-inch cast iron skillet (I used a little softened butter)
8. Place dough on floured surface and using the leftover flour, fold a few times until it becomes soft and not sticky anymore.  Shape into a ball.
9.  Roll dough out to the size of the skillet.
10. Place in skillet and stretch up about 1/2 inch up sides.  Cover with a kitchen towel and place in oven for 20 minutes. 
11.  Take skillet out of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Make indentations in the dough with your thumb.  
12.  Mix the olive oil, seasoning and salt together in small bowl.  
13.  Brush the dough with half of the oil mixture and place in preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Brush with remaining olive oil and let cool until safe to touch.  Slice and serve warm!  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Strawberries and Cream Scones

Man this blog is such a dusty site these days!  Life is full in our neck of the woods and blogging has definitely taken a back seat.  Oh well, I'm happy when I can get on here and write, because it inspires me to get back sooner!  I found this recipe for scones last year and have already made them a lot!
The last time I made them I used boysenberries instead of strawberries and they were SO GOOD!  Definitely a versatile scone recipe, so feel free to play around with fruit or even some chocolate chips...I love a good chocolate chip scone.

I found this recipe HERE and although she calls them Strawberry Shortcake Scones, I played with the name because the main ingredients are Strawberries and it only seemed fitting :)
I doubled the recipe which is why in my pictures I have 2 baking sheets of scones!

Strawberries and Cream Scones {makes 12 scones}


  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 T. chilled salted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (freeze butter for 30 min. and it's easier to cut)
  • 2 small baskets of strawberries, hullled and quartered 
  • 3/4 cup cream or half & half 
  • 3 Cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cream or half & half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line large baking sheet with parchment; set aside. 
(*To freeze scones see note below)
In a mixing bowl, or food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Add butter and cut in with fork, or pulse with food processor until mixture resembles crumbs.  Be sure not to over mix as you don't want the butter to soften.  Toss in strawberries and coat lightly with mixture.  Add cream and fold together gently until mixture just begins to come together.  

Turn dough onto floured surface and gently pat together into a 1-inch thick rectangle.  Using a sharp knife, cut dough into six squares then cut the squarers on the diagonal to make 12 scones.  They don't have to look perfect, because they will taste amazing!!

Place scones on prepared baking sheet and bake for 16-18 minutes or until scones are slightly golden on top.  Place a cooling rack on top of a sheet of parchment or foil.  Once scones are finished, place them on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes.  They don't have to be completely cool before glazing.  
To make the glaze, whisk together the sifted powdered sugar, cream and vanilla.  If the glaze is too thick you can add just a little more cream OR if it's too thin, just add a little more powdered sugar to find the right consistency.  

To glaze, take a large tablespoon and drizzle glaze over each scone, OR you may take each scone and dip the top of the scone into the glaze and return it to the cooling rack to set.  The parchment or foil will catch the drips.  The glaze will set when scones have cooled.  
Serve the scones warm or at room temp.  ENJOY!

*If you want to make the scones the day before, just make the 
dough, cut into shape and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Place foil on top of scones and put in freezer.  Remove from freezer just before baking and bake for about 18-20 min. or until golden on top.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mexican Chicken Bowls

WELL....It's good to be back!  Not that I've really been anywhere, just MIA when it comes to blogging!  I actually think it was a good thing to take a break.  I feel like I have a little more time and energy to devote to some new recipes and almost a renewed excitement for cooking!!  After all of the holidays, baking cookies, eating cookies, and big heavy dinners, I'm ready to lighten things up a bit but without skimping on taste!!  I'm going to try my best to put out some legit healthy & tasty recipes :)
I may add the occasional sweet treat, but hey, everything in moderation right?!?!

This dish was way too easy to prepare and honestly everyone in my family loved it!  I guess you could call it a deconstructed burrito, but I almost enjoyed it better than a burrito.  Give it a try!

MEXICAN CHICKEN BOWL - (recipe adapted from HERE )

INGREDIENTS: (Makes about 4-5 bowls)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • chili powder, paprika & garlic salt to season chicken
  • 1 jar (16 oz) salsa, your favorite kind!
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice...I used 2 bags of Trader Joes Frozen Organic Brown Rice
  • 1-2 cups frozen corn, heated
  • 1 can black beans, heated & drained
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 avocados, mashed with fresh lemon juice, garlic powder & sea salt to taste
  • sour cream, optional
  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and season with some chili powder, paprika and garlic salt.  Pour the jar of salsa on top of chicken breasts, cover tightly with foil and bake in oven for 1 hour.  Turn oven off and leave the chicken in the oven for another hour (or longer).  The chicken will shred very easily this way. (You can alternately do the chicken in your crockpot, on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours). I like the oven method the best :)
Leave the chicken in the baking dish when you shred it so it so you can mix it with the salsa that's left in the will want the chicken to be a little saucy!
Once the chicken is shredded, start prepping all of the other ingredients.  When I don't have time or ingredients to make guacamole, I do more of a "avocado mash", which is avocados, lemon juice, garlic powder and sea salt.  Mash it all together and it's a perfect condiment to any mexican dish!!
To assemble the bowl, place about 3/4 to 1 cup of the rice on the bottom of the bowl, a couple spoonfuls of chicken (with some of the salsa) on top, a scoop of black beans, some shredded cheese, the last but not least the mashed avocado and sour cream if you like.
I gobbled up the first bowl then went back for a little extra chicken and black beans!  If you have some tortilla chips, you can definitely serve those on the side for scooping! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I made these last week and they were a HIT with the whole family!  I love watching my kids enjoy a meal that is wrapped in lettuce :) I served my coconut-lemongrass rice on the side and it was a great meal!  I've been cooking like crazy the past couple of weeks and my creativity is coming back.
Been trying to hit the farmers markets and make meals with whats in season.  Our garden is booming with zucchini, yellow squash, sugar snap peas, green beans, fresh basil and of course a lot of tomatoes!!
It's been awesome to not have to buy much produce at the store.  I encourage you to go check out your farmers markets and create a meal with whats fresh & local!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps (serves 5-6) recipe adapted from HERE


  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (or use ground chicken)
  • 1 head Bibb Lettuce or Iceberg Lettuce (look for bibb lettuce at your farmers market)
  • 1 small can water chestnuts, diced (optional)
  • 1 carrot, julienned 
  • 1 small zucchini, small dice
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews (optional)
  • bean thread noodles, fried (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped 
  • 3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, fined minced
  • 1 jalapeƱo, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp. sirracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce (find it in Asian section at grocery store)
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the stir fry sauce and set aside.
Heat a Wok or large skillet to medium-high heat.  Add some oil to the pan (I used canola) and cook the chicken with salt and pepper until done.  Remove the chicken from pan and set aside.  Add a little more oil and saute the carrot, zucchini, water chestnuts and green onion for about 4-5 minutes.  Add the chicken back to the pan, pour in the stir fry sauce and cook until bubbly and thickened, about 5 minutes.  Serve on top of lettuce leaves and sprinkle with roasted cashews.  I fried up some Bean Thread Noodles to serve on top as well.  My kids really like those!  If you would like to have a "dipping sauce" for the lettuce wraps, here is a recipe below:

  • 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. hot water
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 tsp. sesame oil

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grilled Pineapple-Turkey Burgers

It's August already...I seriously can't believe it!  My kids will be heading back to school next week and I'm already anxious to light my Fall candle!  I know, sounds strange that I'm thinking of Fall while it's still 75 degrees and sunny here, but it's inevitable that once school starts, our summer fun will be over :(
Oh well, we had a such a full summer that it will be nice to be back on a routine, which means I'll be doing a lot more cooking.  I'm actually looking forward to it...trying out some new recipes and having the house full of comforting smells when the kids get home from school.
This burger recipe has been on my "have to try" list for a while!  I'm a huge fan of turkey burgers that are seasoned just right, so they don't dry out.  The grilled pineapple definitely makes this burger a top-of-the-line burger (in my opinion).  You could add cheese or some fresh spinach leaves, but I think it's great as is.  Oh, and my new favorite thing to do with the hamburger buns is, lightly mayo the buns then put them on the grill for just a few minutes.  Honestly, I'm not a fan of mayo at all, but it seriously makes for one great grilled bun :)

Grilled Pineapple-Turkey Burgers 
(recipe very slightly adapted from Confections of a foodie Bride )

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 4 burgers *I made 2 large patties and 3 medium to smaller ones for my kids)

  • 1 pineapple, sliced into 4 rings
  • 1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey (I don't use the super lean turkey)
  • 3 Tbsp. Heinz 57 steak sauce or a little more (trust me, this is SO GOOD)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • handful of cilantro, chopped and divided
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • worcestershire sauce
  • hamburger buns
Heat grill to medium-high.  I used my indoor grill pan this time.  Place pineapple rings on grill and cook about 4-5 minutes per side, or until you get some nice grill marks.  Remove pineapple and set aside on plate.  
In a large bowl, combine turkey, steak sauce, red onion, about 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of worcestershire.  Mix together well.  *fyi...I left out the cilantro and red onion from my kids burgers.  Place on grill and cook about 5 minutes per side.  After the burgers come off, you can now grill your buns if you like!  Next time I'd also like to grill some red onion rings to place on the burger.  
Serve the burgers on buns with additional steak sauce, grilled pineapple rings, and a little cilantro.  If you have left-over chopped red onion, you can also sprinkle some of that on top if you like, but I left it off.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

WOW!  I can't believe I'm actually back blogging!  My life has been consumed with kids activities...mainly Baseball.  We entered the All-Star season right before school got out, then finished the last tournament of the season this week!  It's been a SUPER busy summer and actually hasn't felt much like summer at all.  We're home more baseball scrimmages, baseball practice, baseball tournaments, washing and scrubbing baseball pants...until the Fall.  So for now, we will sleep in, enjoy playing in the backyard, peaceful evenings at home, home-made dinners, and maybe I'll get a chance to do some reading.  Simple things that make summer feel like summer.  
This sandwich is one of those things that I enjoy so much!  I love chicken salad, but I'm a little picky when it comes to texture...I'm not a fan of super creamy chicken salad.  This particular recipe was great...not too creamy, nice and chunky, with a lot of different textures.   Make this in the morning and then serve for lunch or even dinner with a pasta salad.  Perfect for the summer months when you don't feel like spending all evening in the kitchen!  

CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICHES  {recipe adapted from Cooking Classy}

INGREDIENTS: {makes about 3-4 sandwiches}
  • 3 bone-in chicken breast halves, roasted and cut in chunks {about 3 cups chicken}
  • 2-3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped {I used dried cherries}
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped {you could use walnuts or cashews too}
  • 1/2 cup mayonaise 
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • romaine lettuce
  • sliced bread or croissants 
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Rub chicken breast halves with some olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place in roasting pan and bake for 1 hour.  Turn oven off, cover chicken with foil and leave in oven for another 20 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and let chicken cool before you cut in chunks.  
In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken chunks, celery, cranberries, and toasted pecans.
In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, dijon mustard, honey, vinegar, onion powder, and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and stir to combine.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate for a couple of hours, or until ready to use.
Pile on thick pieces of bread, add your lettuce, and you have a super delicious lunch or an easy dinner!


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