RECIPE: Asian Chicken Salad

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one of my favorites.  it’s fresh.  it’s filling.  best of all,  it’s easy.  it’s an Asian Chicken Salad…

Here’s where I start…  by prepping the chicken.  I usually do this step several hours ahead of making the salad.

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I boil the chicken, to cook it.  I wait for it to cool and then dice it into bite size pieces.

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Here’s my secret flavor weapon for this dish.  Let me start by saying that I’m very sorry if you’re grocer doesn’t carry this brand of dressing/marinade.  Now, print up this picture and take it to your grocer so that they know which one to order.  ; -)  You can thank me later… (wink)

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So, I placed the diced chicken into a sealable plastic bag and  poured a good amount of the dressing/marinade into the bag … then it went into the refrigerator to get all nice and happy.  Every now and then I toss the bag so that the marinating chicken gets covered and smothered.

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Then I diced up some green onions, cilantro (yes – you read that correctly … the cilantro is another secret flavor weapon for this salad – so refreshing!), half a head of cabbage and a head of romaine lettuce.

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Since I usually make up enough for 2 or 3 meals I placed all the cabbage/lettuce into a container for later consumption…

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And then I simply threw the green onions/cilantro on top…

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And here’s the next secret flavor weapon… toasted almond slices…

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I placed them in a warm saute pan (medium heat), and let them brown up SLOWLY.  They brown up fast, so keep a close eye on them.  I tossed them about the pan for about a minute or two, and then they were ready.  I removed them from the hot pan to allow them to cool …

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And for an extra treat, IF I can find these… I like to throw a small handful of these soy ginger wonton strips on top of the salad.  They impart such great flavor…

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So, here it goes… the assembly begins.  Below are the wonton strips, chow mein noodles, roasted/salted sunflower seeds and the toasted almond slices.

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And the building process began…

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Lettuce/cabbage and cilantro/green onions… topped with a healthy drizzle of the dressing (straight from the bottle) and a small amount of each of the crunchy toppings and about one chicken breast worth of the marinaded chicken.

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Isn’t she pretty?! 

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Dinner last night was so yummy!  I’m glad I made enough for more for tonight!

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RECIPE: Corn and Black Bean Salad

If you know me, you know how grumpy I get in the heat of the summer. However, THIS salad makes it all better! Seriously, it’s all better now…

The salad tastes great, comes together quickly and can be made from items in your own garden (if you’re into gardening, of course)… here’s where I started.

Corn, black beans, sweet red pepper, red onion, cilantro, canola oil and some seasonings for the viniagrette.

I start by mixing together the viniagrette… lime juice, canola oil, onion powder, ground cumin, kosher salt/pepper and at the last minute I also decided to add some dried oregano.

Then I added the red onion to the viniagrette so it could sit for about 15 minutes. I prefer the red onions to be “pickled” a little… letting them sit in the viniagrette for a bit tames them down a bit, just to perfection. But it’s here that I also added a few teaspoons of our favorite hot sauce.

After 15 minutes or so I added the corn, black beans, sweet red pepper …

Oh yeah, and the cilantro… and then it sits for another 30 minutes or so…

This time we served it up with our “house grilled chicken”… yummy! Make this salad this summer … your loved ones will love you more for it!

Corn and Black bean Salad
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

Ingredients
2 cups frozen corn
1 can (14 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet red pepper, finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro, diced
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
Salt/pepper to taste

Instructions
In a large bowl make vinaigrette by whisking together lime juice, hot sauce, oil and spices. Add red onion and mix well; set aside. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes.

Add corn kernels, black beans, red pepper and cilantro. Mix well. Allow to sit for another 30 minutes or so, for the tastes to marry. Salt/pepper to taste before serving.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Recipe: Lite Tex Mex Salad

As my hero-of-a-hubby and I embark on an “eating-fresher-and-getting-healthier-in-the-process” adventure we’re finding all sorts of new food combinations, cooking methods, tasty tricks, etc… and this salad was one of the first things we discovered. It will be a staple for us through the summer…

Here’s the recipe we started with… it was originally in Eating Well magazine, but most recently featured on Cooking.com. As you’ll notice, the recipe doesn’t include the fried tortilla… we just crumbled up a few tortilla chips on top of the salad for some extra crunch. The meat has so much flavor… so, so much flavor! What a great salad…

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We decided to use ground turkey (obviously a leaner meat which also contains more protein by ounce and isn’t as high in cholesterol as ground beef)… and then we changed up the dressing to a lighter yogurt version.

The original Southwest Dressing post… Southwest Dressing

But NOW we are replacing the Ranch dressing with Fage greek yogurt. This reduces the calories and carbs dramatically. (And with all the extra seasonings in it you can’t even taste the difference. It’s a perfect substitution!)

Come with us as we dig deeper into the topic of nutrition and as we commit to eating fresher and being healthier!

Below is my “lite” version of Eating Well’s Tex Mex Salad recipe…

Lite Tex Mex Salad
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

Ingredients
½ cup prepared salsa
3 tablespoons Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces ground turkey
1 large plum tomato, diced
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
2 teaspoons chili powder, divided
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
¼ cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

Instructions
Make the lite southwest dressing first. Compbine Fage yogurt, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, pinch of cayenne pepper and kosher salt. Whisk together until combined. Add salsa to yogurt mixture and stir well. Set aside.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until onions start to turn translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or so, stirring often. Add ground meat and cook until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Add kidney beans, cumin, chili powder and a pinch of salt. Stir well, lower heat and place lid on skillet. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes to ensure the beans get cooked. Remove lid, add tomato and cook for a few more minutes, until the tomato begins to break down (about 2 minutes). Remove from the heat, stir in cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the salsa mixture.

In a large bowl add lettuce and remaining salsa mixture – toss until all lettuce pieces are coated with salsa. Divide lettuce among two plates; top with the cooked meat/bean mixture, shredded cheese and a few crumbled tortilla chips.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Taboule salad

The weather is starting to warm up around here… and it’s almost like summer already. If you know me at all you know I’m not very happy about that. My perfect temperature is about 65 degrees F. Yes, that’s cold… just like I like it!

Because of that slightly odd peculiarity about this California native… I am already making cool salads to enjoy for the early onset summer.

And yes, I’m cheating slightly on this recipe… (using a boxed mix which includes dried herbs) instead of buying several bunches of fresh herbs.

And below you’ll see what bulgur wheat looks like (right out of the box)…

It’s rather small… put it in a bowl and follow the instructions on the box. Quick run through of those instructions: add wheat and seasoning packet in a heat-safe bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water over the top. Stir briefly and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes…

While that steeps, prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. Starting with olive oil…

Lemon juice…

and give it a quick whisk…

Let’s get to chopping… cucumber first…

Cherry tomatoes (rather “grape tomatoes” in this instance)…

When your 30 minutes are up fluff the wheat with the tines of a fork. This prevents the small clumps of wheat from sticking together too much and makes it light and fluffy. A spoon won’t work, a spatula won’t work… just trust me on this one and put that fork to use…

While the bulgur wheat is still somewhat warm add the olive oil/lemon juice and stir slowly until all the liquid is absorbed.

And this is where it all starts to come together rather quickly.

But first do me a favor… pretend that I already told you about the green onion, ok?

And now that that’s behind us…

Let’s start piling it all on…

And the last and most important ingredient… some REALLY great feta cheese. Chop it up rather small… a little smaller than the cucumber/tomato pieces.

Another quick toss…

And a nice little plate… where did that fork go?!

Enjoy this quick and easy salad this summer… and this salad is great stuffed in a pita!

Taboule Salad
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

Ingredients
1 box Near East Taboule, prepared according to directions on box
¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (approx 2 lemons)
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup green onions, minced
1 hothouse cucumber, halved and sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
¾ pound feta cheese

Instructions
Prepare taboule according to package instructions. As soon as the rice is done fluff with a fork and add lemon juice, olive oil and pepper. Fluff again with a fork and allow to stand at room temperature for about an hour. Add green onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Fluff again before serving.

If it’s dry, drizzle a little bit more olive oil over the top. Serve with shards of feta on top or stuffed into a pita.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Creamy Herbed Rigatoni and a new salad…

Come along for another Sunday night adventure… if you’ve been watching this blog long enough you know I love my Sunday routine.

Well today’s routine included buying another ingredient to play with: fennel. I am not real sure if I’ve ever used it before… and if I did I was probably scared of it and may not have used it like I was supposed to.

Tonight I wanted to make it a star of the show… I don’t have a recipe for tonight. But I do have a few ingredients and pictures to share.

I started with slicing up the fennel (pretty thinly). Then I cut the chicken tender into bite size pieces. For this dish I seasoned the chicken with salt/pepper on one side only. The olive oil heated up in a large pan… and then I added the sliced fennel and chicken. The kept the mixture on the heat until the chicken was cooked through and the fennel started to slightly brown.

This is what it looked like when I started…

But while the chicken and fennel were cooking I got out another secret weapon…

Yes, your eyes are working correctly. I put this little secret in my pocket a long time ago… it’s not a culinary secret that chefs utilize, but a secret nontheless… plus, I’m not a chef.

Just wait, you watch… you’ll see…

All the while, the rigatoni has been working…

And when it was al dente, I transferred it to the pan with the cooked chicken/fennel. I didn’t strain it… I just pulled the pasta out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and then brought over some pasta water too. (The water helps to make the sauce…)

And then I added some of the Rondele (herbed creamy spread), about 1 cup of it. However, next time… I will do it slightly different: I will add the Rondele BEFORE adding the pasta (and then adding 1/2 cup of pasta water to melt down the cheese). And THEN I will add the pasta… and toss it all together.

But as you can see, it still worked out ok…

I grabbed a big spoon, moved it around in the hot pan… and kept tossing…

Doesn’t that look great?! Oh, it smells good too!

And the pasta dish was served up with Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing.

Except I made some slight changes to Paula Deen’s recipe: 1) I used “spring mix” instead of spinach (‘cuz that’s what I had in the refrigerator), 2) I cooked the diced mushrooms and red onion along w/ the shallots (‘cuz red onions can be kinda strong for me), etc and 3) I used more bacon than the recipe called for. (I’m sure Paula wouldn’t be too upset about that!)

I know what you’re thinking… “There she goes again… not following the rules!”

Follow-up thoughts on fennel… raw it tastes faintly like anise (aka black licorice). And this is nice in a special salad every now and then… but cooked like I did it tonight creates a whole new taste. The anise flavor mellows out but you bite into something slightly crunchy, taste it and your head tilts slightly to the side and you say outloud “what IS that?”… and you’re reminded… life is good!

I dare you… switch it up! Make it your own!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…