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.

Shredded BBQ Chicken

Memorial Day weekend marks the official beginning of summer!  My mind begins to think about all the yummy summer foods our family enjoys.  Throughout the coming weeks I will be sharing favorites from our table.  These recipes allow you soak up the sun and spend little time in the kitchen.  You will begin to learn that Chris has a little “Bobby Flay” attitude around the grill.  While he is the master of the grill, I play with fun side items to make our meals come alive.  There are times that we can’t make it to the grill and still want some yummy barbecue.  This Shredded BBQ Chicken will change your life.  There is no thinking involved and the outcome is delicious.  Serve as mouthwatering small sandwiches or individually with your favorite BBQ sides.  You will enjoy your leftovers the next day.  Here’s to summer!- Amanda

Shredded BBQ Chicken

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)
1 T onion powder
1 T smoked paprika
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
8 oz of beer* (I used Stella Artois)
32 oz barbecue sauce (I used Mark’s “Red” Sauce- Louisville, KY local- Our new favorite)

Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Toss chicken to coat and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to absorb everything. This chicken is delicious on your favorite rolls.  We used sweet Hawaiian rolls.  I tossed up some coleslaw and dill pickle spears.  Great leftovers the next day!
*You can substitute beer with water.  I have found beer to tenderize the meat.  And we all know that alcohol cooks out, just in case you were worried.

Meatless Monday: Skillet Chard, White Beans, & Gnocchi

On this Meatless Monday, we cooked up a delicious one skillet dinner.  Gnocchi is one of my favorites.  The combination of chard, tomatoes, and white beans gives this whole wheat gnocchi just the right shock. Then top it all with gooey mozzarella.  YUM!  Serve with a mixed green salad with vinaigrette. If you are worried about chard exchange it for spinach.  Enjoy Meatless Monday!- Amanda

Skillet Chard, White Beans, & Gnocchi

1 T plus 1 t extra-virgin olive oil, divided

16-ounce package whole wheat gnocchi

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

6 cups chopped chard leaves, about 1 small bunch

15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings

15-ounce can white beans, rinsed

1/4 t freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and slightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 t olive oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft for 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.


Look at that Beautiful Rainbow Chard 

Buffalo Salmon

Buffalo Salmon

In the attempt to eat more salmon, we discovered a twist that certainly makes this salmon irresistible.  We all know that Frank’s Redhot Sauce packs a punch to our favorite chicken wings.  Well, move over chicken, salmon gets a chance to swim in Frank’s goodness.  I served our Buffalo Salmon with salad and celery sticks.  It was a hit! Enjoy your kick!- Amanda

1 (2-lb) salmon fillet

5 T  unsalted butter

1/4 cup Frank’s Redhot Sauce

1/3 cup Panko

1 T  vegetable oil

1/2 t pepper (divided)

1/2 t salt (divided)

Lightly oil a shallow baking pan.  Melt butter with hot sauce and add 1/4 pepper and salt.  Set aside 1/4 cup sauce.  Toss Panko with oil in a bowl. Put salmon, skin side down, in baking pan and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper, then brush with remaining sauce. Sprinkle Panko evenly over top of fish.  Bake salmon at 425 degrees.  Cook until Panko is golden and fish is just cooked through about 16 to 22 minutes. Serve reserved sauce on the side.

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes

We all want a quick weeknight meal.  A meal that does not need a lot of brainwork and is delicious.  This meal has all our favorites: pasta, tomatoes, and chicken.  Serve it with a salad and garlic bread.  Here’s to keeping it easy on a weeknight!- Amanda

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes 

2 skinless chicken breast halves, diced in 1 inch cubes

cooking spray

1/2 t dried basil

kosher salt and fresh pepper

8 oz angel hair pasta

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T chopped fresh basil

Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, coat with cooking spray and add chicken. Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, and basil. Cook about 3-4 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.  While pasta cooks, add olive oil to skillet on high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté about 4-5 minutes. Add drained pasta to garlic and tomato mixture and toss well. If pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.  Then add fresh basil and chicken and toss well. Serve and top with grated cheese.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

We are continuing on our Meatless Monday adventure.  I hope you have taken a little time to investigate the advantages of Meatless Monday.  (Check out my Tomato Pie recipe for more information about Meatless Monday).  This week we created Spinach Lasagna Rolls.  This is a perfect meal for family dinners or sharing with others.  Use your favorite spaghetti sauce to give this meal the perfect kick. Our Meatless Monday was completed with steamed broccoli and a mixed salad.  Go Meatless once a week!- Amanda

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

9 lasagna noodles, cooked

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained

15 oz fat free ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

salt and fresh pepper

28 oz spaghetti sauce (use your favorite)

1 cup shredded skim mozzarella cheese

Combine spinach, ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Dry the lasagna noodles.  Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.  Makes nine rolls.

Pour remaining sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top evenly with mozzarella cheese. Cover baking dish with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Sauce should be bubbly and cheese melted.

Our First Meatless Monday: Tomato Pie

Yesterday was Earth Day.  William and I read an article about Meatless Monday.  The article was very convincing and my six-year-old declared our family needed to take the challenge.  So, here it is Monday evening and I’m proud to say that we met the challenge.  I know you may have a few questions.  There is a ton of great information you can find about Meatless Monday but I answered the top two questions:
Why Meatless?: Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.
Why Monday?: For most Americans the week begins on Monday. On Monday we move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school. We set our intentions for the next six days. We plan ahead and evaluate progress. Studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health.  Monday is the call to action built in to every calendar each week. And if this Monday passes you by, next week is another chance to go meatless!
Our first Meatless Monday dinner was fun.  I whipped up Tomato Pie, sautéed asparagus, and a fresh mixed green salad.  I’m thinking going meatless once a week is an easy challenge. Will you give Meatless Monday a try?–Amanda

Tomato Pie

3 ripe tomatoes, sliced

1 (9-inch) unbaked refrigerated piecrust

salt

pepper

Italian seasoning

dried basil

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 C mayo (I used light Hellmann’s)

1 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and turn down to 325 for baking.  Drain sliced tomatoes on paper towels for 15 minutes.  Roll piecrust out on baking pie plate.  Pinch crust to sides and work out all air bubbles.  Poke a few small holes into crust and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove crust and let cool.

Cover bottom of pie crust with the tomato slices.  Cover tomatoes with chopped green onions.  Sprinkle liberally with seasonings, salt, and pepper.  In a small container, stir mayo and cheese.  Spread mixture over layers.  Use Roma tomatoes as top layer, slightly overlap tomatoes to create complete layer.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden and bubbly.  Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.  Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.

If you want meat, this meal can accompany any chicken or beef dish.  Another idea, add 6 strips of cook, crumbled bacon.

You can always add different types of cheeses or different types of veggies.  If you decided to use red onions or bell peppers, sauté them first.

Salmon and Rosemary

We all know how nutritious salmon is for your body.  It is full of brain food and a healthy option.  Don’t be nervous about cooking fish at home.  As I have confessed before, I was intimidated by fish.  The secret is finding a great fish market and using fresh ingredients.  This particular dish, Salmon and Rosemary, is a favorite in our house.  William loves this meal and has no trouble cleaning his plate.  I have adapted this recipe from The South Beach Diet.  We all know that only means good things!  Serve it up with sautéed zucchini and a green salad.  Enjoy some tasty brain food!- Amanda

Salmon and Rosemary

1 pound salmon (I use Wild Alaskan)

1 T olive oil

2 t fresh lemon juice

1/4 t kosher salt

1/8 black pepper, freshly ground

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 t fresh rosemary, chopped (cut from my herb garden)

Cut the salmon into 4 equal-size portions.  Coat oven dish with olive oil.  Place salmon pieces in oven dish.  Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary in a bowl.  Brush the mixture onto the fish.

Bake salmon at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.  If your salmon pieces are thick, make sure they are fully cooked.

Chicken and Spinach Shells

I was in a pasta mood.  I needed a meal that would cure my craving and be healthy.  This dish controls the amount of pasta you use and adds fabulous ingredients that don’t leave you with guilt.  It’s simple and healthy.  I whipped up these chicken and spinach shells without much thought.  It has a tasty hit and has been requested in the future.     Enjoy!- AF

Chicken and Spinach Shells

12 jumbo pasta shells

1 1/2 cup pasta sauce

2 large egg whites, gently beaten

1 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced

1 cup frozen spinach (chopped) thawed (drain all excess water)

2 t garlic powder

1 T oregano

1 T chopped basil

1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook shells in boiling water according to the directions on box.
Rinse with cold water and set aside for later use.
Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and spread 1/2 cup of pasta sauce evenly over the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Pasta shell filling: Stir together egg whites, ricotta, chicken, spinach, garlic powder, basil, and oregano. Stir in 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
Fill each shell with mixture and place filled shells in the baking dish on top of the sauce. Spread remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.