Chickpea, Cucumber and Tomato Salad

While its still pretty cold here in Pittsburgh, I am mentally past comfort foods and ready for backyard grilling and parties. I’ve found myself lately dreaming of summer salads. You know the salads that were made for lazy Sunday afternoons on a friend’s deck with a hotdog and beer. So despite the 50 degree rainy day, I made this chickpea, cucumber and tomato salad using fresh chives from my garden. (side note: chives apparently will survive a harsh Pittsburgh winter) The tangy lemon and dijon dressing bring together the fresh flavors perfectly and the feta offers pops of salty goodness.

chickpea salad

Another plus? The heartier ingredients in the salad hold up over time, which makes it a perfect recipe to throw together on Sunday for weekday lunches. I plan to serve this as a side  with grilled chicken and eat the leftovers for lunch at work throughout the week. This is also good stuffed in a pita with some yogurt!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
2 cups cucumber, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup cooked quinoa (about 1/2 cup dry)
sat & pepper to taste

Begin by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard and chives in the bottom of a large mixing bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients and toss to coat in the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow the salad sit for at least an hour to let the ingredients soak up the lemon dressing.

Enjoy!

chickpea salad

Lemon Dill Salmon

Each Friday I plan our dinners and lunches for coming week then shop and prep accordingly. This way there is no last minute debating when we get home from work and our both starving. There is already a meal planned and prepped, making it quick and easy to get dinner on the table in about half an hour. Most of the time this works perfectly but there are some weeks where something sounds great the weekend before but by the time Wednesday or Thursday rolls around I have zero interest. This is why it took so long for this salmon dish to be made. This lemon dill salmon has been on our menu board for the past two weeks and I finally made it last night for dinner. Knowing that I know now, I should have made it days ago it is that good. I just never was in the mood for salmon until yesterday, but luckily the filets were frozen and thaw quickly.

Salmon

The best part of this dish, other than it being amazingly delicious, is the little clean-up that is needed. The entire meal is baked on a single sheet pan. No sautéing, mixing in separate bowls, anything. Just toss on the pan in stages and in about 30 minutes dinner is good to go!  But most importantly the flavor is amazing. The dill and lemon are so fresh and clean lending the perfect Spring flavor to the dish. And really, is there anything better than roasted baby potatoes?! I think not.

And my son ate the salmon. I repeat… my two year old ate his salmon!

Salmon

There is nothing better than roasted potatoes

Ingredients:
3 salmon filets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1.5 lbs baby potatoes, cut into similar sizes chunks
1/2 bunch asparagus
Salt & pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and prep a large baking sheet with non-stick spray and foil (less clean-up).

Spread potatoes on the baking sheet into one even layer and spray the tops with cooking spray or drizzle with some olive oil. Salt and pepper liberally and bake for 10 minutes.

While the potatoes begin to cook, lay out the salmon filets and dab dry with a paper towel. Pour olive oil over over salmon and top with garlic, dill and the juice of half the lemon. Salt and pepper. After ten minutes toss potatoes in the pan and push them to either side, making room for the salmon. Lay salmon and asparagus on the pan and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked to your liking.

Salmon

Serve with another squeeze of lemon.

Salmon

Enjoy!

Salsa Chicken Stuffed Peppers

Salsa chicken is a go-to slow cooker meal in my house. But after awhile we get bored just using the shredded chicken in tacos. So this week I decided to change it up and use the chicken, along with some black beans and quinoa, for stuffed peppers.

stuffed peppers

The crisp bell peppers are baked until just tender and are full of the flavorful, easy-to-make chicken. And of course the peppers are topped with piles of melty cheese. The biggest plus though is that the chicken is made in the slow cooker while you are at work – making this meal a cinch to throw together within minutes of walking in the door. And you can make the quinoa a few days ahead if you are alike me. I like to make a big batch on Sunday and use throughout the week in dinner and lunches.

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
14 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic
salt & pepper to taste
4 green bell peppers
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Salsa

Begin the chicken in the morning by adding the chicken, spices and diced tomatoes to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken can easily be shredded with a fork.

Remove chicken and shred. Add back into the tomato mixture in the slow cooker and adjust spices to your liking.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the tops of the peppers and remove the inner membranes and seeds. Set aside. Place peppers upright in a baking sheet or cast iron skillet and fill with chicken, quinoa and black beans. Top with shredded cheese and cover loosely with foil.

Bake stuffed peppers for 10 minutes with foil on. Remove peppers and bake for another 10 minutes or until the pepper are soft and cheese is melted. Turn on the broiler at the end if you prefer your cheese a bit toasty!

I served these over a bed of extra quinoa and salsa – but you can eat them as is or with rolled up tortillas that have been warmed on the stove.

stuffed peppers

I know the colors look a bit off… but trust me it was delicious!

Enjoy!

Cumin Chicken Salad

My husband has a soft spot for chicken salad. Weird for a guy right? But he loves the stuff and has to order it if its on a deli menu. I am not 100% in love with creamy salads but every once in awhile it just hits the spot. Making it with Greek yogurt is not only healthier but results in a tangy, light salad. And I love making a batch when we have some left over chicken in the fridge.

Chicken Salad

This chicken salad has a Tex Mex twist with black beans, corn, lime and cumin. We ate this with tortillas chips and salsa for a quick lunch but it will also be amazing stuffed in an avocado or plump tomato. My original plan was to top the salad with fresh cilantro from my garden, however, hungry deer came through my backyard overnight. Apparently they like cilantro and not chives – so chives it is! 

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded chicken
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lime, juiced
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chives, diced

Simply mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl, adjusting spices and lime juice to your taste. Top with chives, or cilantro, and serve!

*This tastes even better if you let the flavors marry in the fridge for an hour or so.

Enjoy!

Chicken Salad

Chicken Pad Thai Zoodles

Let’s talk zoodles. I know I am late the party but I am all about the zoodle lately! And with summer squash season right around the corner, I am getting pretty excited about adding squash noodles to pretty much any dish . They are a great way to indulge in a craving without having a super heavy meal – zoodles and meatballs, zoodle alfredo and this gem… zoodle pad thai.

pad thai

I get it, zoodle pad thai chicken is not a traditional pad thai.

pad thai

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts, cubed
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 zucchinis, “zoodled”
2 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce *more if you like it spicy!
Lime slices
¼ cup peanuts, chopped

Begin by browning the chicken in a heated skillet with a touch of oil. Just before the chicken is done, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. By adding the garlic later you prevent it from burning and getting bitter.

While the chicken cooks, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire and lime juice. Set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, add the zucchini, carrots and sauce. Tossing on medium heat until the zucchini softens and the sauce thickens slightly.

Serve topped with the chopped peanuts and chives with lime wedges on the side.

pad thai

Enjoy!

 

 

Bruschetta Chicken

In this bruschetta chicken, crisp Italian flavors come together for a dinner-worthy interpretation of everyone’s all-time favorite appetizer – bruschetta. However, instead of toasted bread the tomato basil mixture is spooned over grilled chicken making it filling enough for dinner. Yet still light. And with Spring FINALLY here, I am in the mood for lighter fare.

If time allows, I strongly suggest making the bruschetta mixture ahead to let the flavors marry. I often make extras to use later in the week in salads or to top a quick pasta or to eat straight out of the container in front of the fridge. Time will only make this better!

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
4 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup basil, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

Begin by making the bruschetta by combining the tomatoes, red onion, garlic, basil, oil and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and let the flavors marry while the chicken cooks. You can even make the bruschetta the night before!

bruschetta chicken

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly pound out the chicken breasts so they are an even thickness. This helps everything cook evenly and a bit quicker. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Grill chicken for about four minutes each side. If your chicken is not cooked through at this point, I suggest throwing the pan in the oven at 400 degrees to finish cooking without drying it out.

When the chicken is cooked, simply plate with your favorite roasted veggies and top with the bruschetta!

Enjoy!

bruschetta chicken

Veggie Pizza a.k.a cleaning out your fridge…

I have a confession. I am so excited about Spring and the delicious produce showing up in the store that I have been on a buying spree. Green onions? Bought them. Asparagus? Clearly needed TWO bags. And don’t get my started on the lemons! So clearly I need a recipe to help clean out my fridge. Hello, veggie pizza!

Looking at the pictures I now realize I should have piled on more toppings. Next time!

Veggie pizza is such a great way to re-purpose left overs or use up the last of a vegetable before it starts to turn. You can literally come up with a million combinations. For this particular pizza I used asparagus and red onion topped with a pile of lemon-kissed roasted kale. It just screams Spring!

For a simple pizza dough recipe, check out my previous post for BBQ Chicken Pizza here. I often make a few batches and freeze them in individual portions so I am always ready for pizzas, flatbread, empanadas and calzones. But you can of course by pre-made dough. We LOVE the dough at Whole Foods and there are some great options in most regular groceries store now too!

Ingredients:
Pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup marinara *depending on your preference
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup asparagus, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
2 handfuls of kale, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon

Bring your dough to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, be sure to leave the stone in the oven while it pre-heats!

Roll out your dough to your desired thickness, about a 1/2 inch. Place dough on pre-heated pizza stone or prepared baking sheet. Brush edge with olive oil and pre-bake crust for five minutes.

Remove crust from oven and top with sauce, cheese, asparagus and red onion.

Spring Pizza

Return pizza to oven until the cheese is melted and crust is crisped. I often put mine under the broiler for the last few minutes to lightly toast some of the cheese. While the pizza bakes, toss kale in lemon juice. Top pizza with kale before serving.

Enjoy!

Tex-Mex Turkey Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Another quick and healthy weeknight meal to share! These Tex-Mex turkey stuffed sweet potatoes are the perfect thing to get you out of your weeknight dinner rut. I often find myself relying on the same handful of recipes during the week – but how many times can you really eat grilled chicken and roasted veggies before you go insane? Let’s not find out!

stuffed potato

The smokey and slightly spicy turkey filling is the perfect counter to the natural sweetness of the potato. And the stuffing is a lighter take on the classic taco filling, using ground turkey instead of beef. I also make my own spice mix of cumin and chili powder rather than a  seasoning packet to control the amount of salt. This is a healthy way to enjoy the flavors of your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant during the week without the never ending tortilla chips (sorry!).

Have left over filling? No problem! You can use any left over filling throughout the week to stuff enchiladas or top chilaquiles with an egg.

Ingredients:
4 sweet potatoes
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper to taste
Toppings – sliced avocado, shredded cheese, green onions, salsa etc.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. While the over pre-heats, prep the potatoes by using a fork or knife to poke holes all over and wrap in foil. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

For the filling, begin by browning the meat. Remove meat from the pan. Depending on your turkey, you may opt to drain the turkey on paper towels to remove some of the grease. Cook onion, pepper and garlic on medium heat until soft. Once soft, add turkey and remaining ingredients and stir so everything is evenly coated. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. If the mixture gets too dry, you can add more water depending on your preference.

Once potatoes are ready, pull them from the oven and slice. Stuff with turkey mixture and top! I prefer mine with some green onion and avocado but Ben prefers melty cheese (go figure).

stuffed potato

Enjoy!

Hoisin Grilled Veggie Sandwich

Hoisin is magic, literally magic. The pungent sauce resembles an Asian BBQ and brings so much flavor to any dish! Not sure how to elevate your simple chicken and veggie dinner? Toss on some hoisin! I even love hoisin paired with raw veggies. Literally this stuff makes carrot sticks taste like heaven.

hoisin veggie sandwich

So naturally I wanted to add some of this magic sauce to one of my favorite meat-less meals – veggie sandwiches. The hoisin introduces a funkyBBQ flavor that helps my husband quickly get over the fact that there is no meat involved. Though if he had his say, he’d probably throw in some thinly sliced flank steak or pulled pork. He’ll eat veggies to make me happy though.

I joke that my son was built on vegetable sandwiches. But in all seriousness he was. Raw veggie sandwiches from a local bread bakery at least once a week for dinner my entire pregnancy. And even now that I am not pregnant, I still crave that crisp, simple sandwich. It doesn’t hurt that my go-to place has the BEST bread. I’m looking at you Loafers Bread

Ingredients:
1 zucchini, sliced into planks
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup onion, sliced thin
6 stalks of asparagus
4 slices of whole wheat bread
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded

Begin by pre-heating your grill pan over medium heat.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the hoisin, water and sesame oil to create a loose sauce. Combine all prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl and toss in the hoisin mixture. Throw the vegetables on the grill pan, turning after a few minutes. Cook until tender but still crisp – some may cook faster than others so keep an eye on them.

hoisin veggie sandwich

Oh those grill marks…

Spread the remaining hoisin on the bread to add more flavor and top with veggies and mozzarella. Place assembled sandwiches on the grill pan and press to toast bread slightly and melt cheese.

Enjoy!

Hoisin Veggie Sandwich

*note, cheese with an Asian flavor may seem off but the mozzarella is mild enough that is just lends a creamy element. I am also dying to try this with feta… I am convinced everything tastes better with feta!

Lemon and Spring Vegetable Rice Soup

I try to make a slow cooker meal every Monday for dinner. Not only is it super easy to prep the ingredients on Sunday afternoon but its also amazing to walk through the door after work with a “case of the Mondays” with dinner done. And the bonus? Slow cooker meals usually mean extras for lunch throughout the week. Oh and slow cooking the rice in the soup makes it almost creamy without having to use cream. Perfect!

This take on a simple vegetable and rice soup is loaded with spring vegetables and bright lemon. I change up the veggies in this soup based on what I find in the store – this week was spinach and asparagus. Spring is here! 🌸🌼🌱🌸🌼🌱🌸🌼🌱

I strongly suggest serving a bowl of this soup under a mountain of freshly grated parmesan with a side of crusty bread.

lemon veggie soup

Ingredients:
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 cup asparagus, diced
1 cup frozen
1 to 2 lemons, juiced (depending on taste)
Parmesan cheese *optional

Begin by sautéing carrots, onion, celery and garlic for five minutes until softened. Add sautéed vegetables to a slow cooker with the chicken broth, rice and oregano. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Add remaining ingredients along with lemon juice and cook on low for another 30 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Salt and pepper to taste, add more lemon if desired.

When serving, top generously with grated parmesan cheese!

lemon veggie soup

Enjoy!