Bite-Sized Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

On this Meatless Monday, I wanted to share a favorite “meatless” salad.  In the summer, I make this salad once a week to accompany pasta dishes, steaks, or even hamburgers.  It perfect to bring as your side to the next neighborhood cookout.  And with the 4th right around the corner, serve your salad in a blue bowl to capture all the red, white, and blue!  Taste the summer!- Amanda 

Bite-Sized  Tomato & Mozzarella Salad 

1 cup small cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped into pieces

1 1/2 T olive oil

1 t soy sauce (we use low sodium)

1 t balsamic vinegar

pinch of sugar

freshly ground pepper

Mix together the tomatoes and mozzarella.  In separate bowl, whisk together oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and sugar.  Toss the tomatoes and mozzarella in dressing.  Then add the fresh basil.  Top with fresh ground pepper.

Zucchini Tots

As Chris prepared some mean hamburgers, I whipped up some zucchini tots.  These bite-sized tots are the perfect guilt-free alternative that complete our hamburger night.  Just a little prep work and pop those tots in the oven.  Nothing to it!- Amanda

Zucchini Tots

1 cup zucchini, grated- like a cheese grater- The whole zucchini!

1 large egg

1/4 onion, diced

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

1 T parmesan, grated

1/8 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/8 cup Panko

Salt and Pepper

Take grated zucchini and by using paper towels squeeze out the excess water.  This will make sure your tots are not soggy.  No one likes a soggy tot! In a bowl combine all ingredients: egg, onion, cheese, bread crumbs, Panko,  zucchini, salt and pepper.

Prepare mini muffin pan by spraying with non-stick spray. Using a spoon, fill the muffin cups to the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is browned and set.  Makes about 12 tots.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

After a long, hot summer day, my family wants something cool and refreshing for dinner.    I believe in the summer you need to enjoy beautiful, seasonal fruits.  We will be eating lots of fruit salads (more to come).  This yummy salad is easy and leaves everyone feeling full but not heavy.  Serve as a side dish or add grilled chicken for the main entree.  Gotta love strawberries!- Amanda  

 Strawberry Spinach Salad

1 T poppy seeds

1 1/2 t minced onion

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 t Worcestershire

1/4 t paprika

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 bag (10 oz) spinach

1 pint (or more) strawberries, sliced thin

In blender, combine sugar, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire, paprika, oil, and vinegar.  Blend well.  If seems thick, add a few drops of water.

Remove stems of spinach (or not).  Arrange on plates, top with strawberries.  Drizzle the dressing over strawberries and serve.

To give a good punch of protein, add some grilled chicken.

Amanda Jean’s Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad is another one of those items that everyone has opinion to add.  At the end of the day, you have chicken usually mayo and then all the other ingredients that you love in your chicken salad.  This is my plain “jean” chicken salad.  We have several favorites but this is an easy go to.  I’ll share our others soon.  This was a special request from Chris for Father’s Day lunch.  We love our plain “jean” chicken salad on flaky croissants.  Happy Summer!- Amanda

Amanda Jean’s Chicken Salad

1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked, finely shredded

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/8 t pepper, freshly ground

1/3 cup Hellmann’s light mayo

2 T bell pepper, finely chopped

2 t prepared mustard

In a mixing bowl combine chicken, celery, green onions, lemon juice, and pepper.  Stir in mayo, bell pepper, and mustard.  Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Serve your chicken salad on crackers or our family favorite, croissants.  This makes about enough chicken salad for 4 croissant sandwiches.  Plus it makes great leftovers.

Zucchini Fries

It’s that time of year when the grills are heating up with yumminess.  I promised I would be sharing my favorites and some new summery side dishes.  This past week when Chris was grilling hamburgers we thought it was no better time to create a french fry substitute.  In about 25 minutes, I created zucchini fries that were devoured without any guilt.  This recipe is versatile and can compliment any meal.  It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure in the kitchen.  You pick the veggies and seasonings.  Could it be any easier?  Eat your veggies! -Amanda

Zucchini Fries

Choose your Veggies– Zucchini, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Squash (you get the idea)
Choose your Seasonings– Always start with pepper and sea salt.  Just stick with one extra seasoning to make sure your veggies don’t come out crazy! Need some ideas: paprika, cumin, cayenne, crushed red peppers, thyme, rosemary, sage.  You can also use premixed spice blends like Spike, Italian, Mexican, Old Bay.

Cut your veggies into 3-inch sticks.  Try to keep the same thickness to help even out cooking.
Now it’s time to play with your seasonings.  Start with pepper and easy on the sea salt.  Then get creative with a seasoning that excites your palate or compliments the main dish you have planned.  This time I used freshly ground pepper, sea salt and Spike (a favorite premixed spice blend).
Lightly toss your veggie with olive oil (not too much) and the herbs and spices.
Spread your seasoned veggies over a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper and a light layer of olive oil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes (flipping halfway through) or until golden and slightly browned at the edges.