Chicken Recipe · Summer · Veggies!

No Soggy Lettuce Here

Salads have come a long way over the years. I can’t pinpoint when exactly I noticed the shift, but over time restaurant menus have offered more and more tasty, unique salads that could easily be the main course for a meal. That said, the mere mention of a salad still conjures up visions of sad, soggy lettuce with many people. At work, we do salad events from time-to-time where we offer a spread of a lot of different ingredients, along with sample recipes, and let attendees assemble their own lunch salads. We still sometimes get comments like, “this is rabbit food”, but by and large the attendees to these events leave excited to make more creative salads at home. If you include plenty of protein and make sure the flavors complement each other with some sort of flavor profile, a salad can be a truly satisfying meal…especially in hot weather. And nothing says summer like peaches and basil! Never had them together? You’re in for a treat!

A couple of weeks ago, I had some peaches at home and wanted to whip up a quick lunch, so I threw together a salad that ended up being one of my all-time favorites. I used pre-cooked chicken breast strips from Trader Joe’s to cut down on cooking time, but any cooked chicken you have would work well. For this particular meal, I wanted a light lunch so I stuck to fruit, veggies, and protein, but if I were to make this for dinner I would probably toss in a little quinoa or brown rice to get some whole grains. You really have to make this while peaches are still in season. The sweetness of the peaches and balsamic combined with the salty parmesan is great, and the basil gives it an unexpected pop of flavor. The picture here doesn’t do it justice at all…it is so simple and tasty!

BalsamicPeachBasilSalad

Balsamic Peach & Basil Salad
Servings: 2
Ingredients
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
6 ounces cooked chicken
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh basil, chiffonade or roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions
1. In skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil until translucent
2. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
3. Add peaches, chicken, and balsamic vinegar and cook until peaches soften.
4. Mix 1/4 cup of basil into peach mixture and remove from heat.
5. In large bowl, toss spinach, remaining basil, carrots, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and remaining olive oil.
6. Divide spinach mixture between two bowls or plates and top each with half of peach mixture.

Enjoy!

Batch Recipes · Pasta · Shrimp Recipe · Summer · Veggies!

Who are you calling shrimp??

I may be short, but big things sometimes come in small packages, right?!?!? Much like the little crustaceans we so love to use as a derogatory reference for people of small stature. One 3-ounce portion of shrimp packs about 15 grams of protein! That’s more than a quarter of the daily protein needs of your average 150 pound person. Shrimp contain omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, which are important for cardiovascular health. They also contain the antioxidants selenium and astaxanthin (the pigment that gives shrimp a pink color when cooked). Additionally, shrimp is low in saturated fat.

I don’t know about you, but I crave light, citrusy seafood dishes during the summer. I had a craving several weeks ago for shrimp scampi. Typically a very buttery dish, I used a fraction of the butter called for in most recipes and really amped up the lemon flavor. It has become a favorite around here and I’ve made it at least 3 times since the summer began. This recipe makes a pretty big batch, and we eat the leftovers for a couple of days. I think it’s just as good eaten as leftovers…so good that I only got one photo before we devoured it. Oops!shrimpscampi1_li.jpg

Lightened Up Shrimp Scampi
Servings: 6
Ingredients
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot (or 2 small), minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 – 1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined, tails off
2 medium lemons – zest & juice
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how much spice you like)
1 box (13-16 oz) whole wheat pasta (spaghetti, angel hair pasta, or linguine work well)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup baby spinach, chopped

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of cooking water.
2. In large skillet over medium heat, sauté shallots in butter and olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
3. Add white wine and shrimp, cooking shrimp for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until just pink.
4. Add lemon zest and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and add salt & pepper to taste.
5. Add pasta to skillet with shrimp, then add parsley, spinach, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of the pasta water, and toss all ingredients together until well combined. Remove from heat. If pasta still seems dry, add more pasta water until sauce distributes easily. Salt & pepper to taste.
6. Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

 

Chicken Recipe · International Cooking · Summer · Tasty Sides · Veggies!

It’s Like a Heat Wave!!

Anyone else have a constant jukebox running in their head? No? Just me? Alrighty then! For some reason, the song in the title of this post popped into my head today. Oh, I know why…it’s freaking hot outside! We are definitely in the midst of a heat wave here in New York and it is not so fun. Rather than going on another rant about how much I hate the heat, though, I’m going to tell you how I’m making this bearable. First of all, I’m trying to acclimate by going for a run three days a week. It’s way too hot to run for a really long time, but 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there has made me a little less of a sweaty mess when not running and it’s making my waistline a little less doughy. Win, win! I have also been known to take a cold pack from the freezer and put it behind my knees or neck. It works. Most importantly, we’re not cooking around here. Actually, I should say that we are doing the absolute minimal amount of cooking possible and under absolutely no circumstances are we turning the oven on. That would be grounds for getting banished from the apartment indefinitely.

In our quest to eat well without use of the oven and minimal use of the stove, we have had to get creative. We’ve come up with some really great meals that I think are worth sharing. I have big plans to go for a run then sprawl out in front of the fan for the rest of the day, though, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet and get right to the food.

Back when I was living and working in Dallas, my friend, Jessica, introduced me to a delicious Vietnamese spot and we would grab lunch there at least once a month. My favorite thing on the menu was a rice noodle salad that I only knew as bun…I couldn’t remember the rest of the name. Clearly my Vietnamese language skills are lacking. Anyway, I had a craving the other day so I went on a hunt for the noodles I remember so fondly and came across a recipe for bun with lemongrass chicken (bun ga nuong) from Nagi at RecipeTinEats (find it here). As with all recipes, I made some modifications. I don’t follow directions well. Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it. You can swap out the vegetables with whatever you like. Some recipes call for bean sprouts, some call for shredded lettuce, some don’t use mint. This really is adaptable and so incredibly refreshing for a hot summer dinner. Or, you can toss everything together for a nice side salad…it’s just so diverse!

IMG_0443

Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Chicken (Bun Ga Nuong)
Servings: 4
Ingredients
Chicken
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer peeled so you only use white part, bruised by pounding with side of knife, & cut into big pieces

Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
1 cup hot water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup lime juice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Thai chili or serrano chili, finely minced (I had serranos on hand and they worked well)

Noodles
1 7-8 oz package rice vermicelli noodles
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 small or ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced or julienned
5-6 green onions, sliced

Directions
1. Combine chicken and marinade ingredients and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. For sauce, whisk hot water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, add all other sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
3. For noodles, boil enough water to cover the noodles. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and place noodles in water to soak until al dente (3-7 minutes). When noodles are al dente, immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent sticking.
4. In large skillet, cook chicken over medium heat until cooked through and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Shake off any lemongrass bits and slice chicken.
5. In large bowl, toss noodles, cilantro, carrots, and about half of sauce until thoroughly combined.
6. To serve, portion noodles into bowls and top with vegetables and chicken. Garnish with lime wedges and side of additional sauce.

Enjoy, and stay cool!!!

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So many veggies you can’t even see the noodles!