Sunday, May 31, 2015

California Chicken Salad

I live in the land of "fruits and nuts".  

California has been called that for years.  I'm sure that they are referring to this figuratively however, I literally live in the land of "fruits and nuts".

Farms are everywhere, producing some of the best fruits and yes, some tasty nuts too!  

Today's dish is all about fruits and nuts.  I took a southern staple, Chicken Salad, and changed it up a bit to make it more "California" style.  Truth be told, the pecans I used (my favorite nut) are not from California, but who's counting? Not me. 

This chicken salad is simple to make, reduced in calories, and oh so tasty!  We shared this for lunch over the weekend with some friends.  I served it in a lettuce lined cup with some crackers, a fruit salad, some pita, and don't forget the iced tea. The perfect meal to have sitting poolside, enjoying the nice weather. 

Everyone raved about the flavors, so this was a big hit.

Equally delicious as a sandwich or in a pita pocket.  You are sure to enjoy this for years to come.

Hope you make this soon.  It's perfect for summer!

California Chicken Salad

serves 4

1/2 c light mayonnaise 
1/2 c sour cream 
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb cooked chicken breasts, chopped 
2 c red and green seedless grapes, cut in half 
1 c chopped pecans 
Lettuce leaves 

In a large bowl add mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt & pepper.  Stir to combine.  Add chicken and grapes, folding to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour. Stir in pecans just before serving. 

Serve in dessert glasses lined with lettuce leaves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Garlic Ginger Chicken Asparagus Stir Fy - Recipe and Product Review

It's been a long time since I've done a product review, but when I find an outstanding product that will save you time in the kitchen I feel I must tell you about now!

I just happened to be walking by my favorite store (Williams-Sonoma) and a display of stir fry cookware and food stopped me dead in my tracks. I love a good stir fry, don't you? I've posted many recipes that prove this such as Tangerine Beef and Bok Choy, Cashew Chicken, and Chicken, Brussels Sprouts and Noodle Stir Fry.  

What's not to love? Great flavors, quick meals, and a wonderful weeknight dinner is served!

I quickly told myself it wouldn't hurt to just pop in the store and take a look at the display. Get some ideas of inspiration for a new dish. Hmmm....yea right.

30 minutes later I exit the store with said bottle of Garlic Ginger Stir Fry Sauce in hand. I surprised I had the control and only bought one item as the whole display was so tempting....pans, woks, tools, and the sauces and spices...oh my! To be honest I'm sooooo glad I bought this sauce. It's amazing.
Photo source:

Filled with good stuff like, ginger and garlic with peppery chilies, toasted sesame and rice vinegar.  You can purchase yours here.  

I quickly went home and made this wonderful stir fry filled with chicken, asparagus, summer squash, cashews, and of course the garlic ginger sauce.  Oh man...this is some good stuff! (and the recipe is awesome too.)

Note: this is not a sponsored post, just my love of good products.

Garlic Ginger chicken Asparagus Stir Fry

serves 4

2 Tbls. canola oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c cornstarch
kosher salt and pepper
1 bunch of thin asparagus, trimmed
1 summer squash, halved and sliced
1/3 c roasted cashews
1 8.5 oz jar of Garlic Ginger Stir Fry Sauce

Cut chicken in to bite sized pieces. Place cornstarch on a plate and dredge chicken, covering all sides.

Heat oil in a wok or skillet. Add chicken and stir fry over medium high heat about 5-7 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.

If necessary add another tablespoon of canola oil to the skillet. Add asparagus and squash, stirring until crisp tender; about 3-4 minutes. Add cashews and stir 1 minute until toasted brown. Return chicken to the skillet and add the stir fry sauce. Stir constantly until all items are coated and sauce has thickened. Serve over rice or noodles.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Menu Ideas

Memorial Day is for remembering and honoring those that have fought for our freedom and lost there lives to keep what we hold dear.

It is also the unofficial start of summer and grilling season.

So Memorial Day is also a time to celebrate with good food! Here are some of my favorites to inspire you.

Chunky Guacamole - Addictive at best.

Black Bean Salsa - Serve this with chips or over grilled chicken or fish.

Sweet Onion Salsa - Make a huge batch of this, cause it goes quickly!

Cherryade - So delicious and perfect for the holiday.

Orange Iced Tea - A southern favorite, and my favorite too!

Grilled Flank Steak in an Adobo Tomato Sauce - Juicy and tasty steak at it's best.

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu - Oh! one of my favs.  Filled with ham and cheese, fabulous.

Cowboy Salad - Perfect combo of steak and salad.

Grilled Green Beans - A perfect side dish with nice in season beans.

Lemon Pasta Salad with Arugula - light and fresh, you'll love it.

Grandma Landon's Strawberry Cake - a family favorite.

Lemon Tea Bread - would be perfect with a blueberry compote.

Have a safe, happy, delicious holiday weekend everyone!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lemon Pasta Salad with Arugula

I might be repeating myself but oh well.... I LOVE SALADS!

You may or may not know that on Sundays, you can usually find me in the kitchen making up some sort of salad that we can eat several times during the week. They are great as a side dish with dinner, or to take for lunch, or just for snacking!   I've made several with grains such as quinoa, faro, barley and others, but this week I turned to pasta.

The weather is warm...I'm craving pasta salad.

Something fresh and light.

This salad will knock your socks off.!  It's full of fresh flavors (lemon) and peppery bites (arugula) that make this pop in your mouth.

You know, this would be perfect for all those summer picnics, concerts in the park...or ....oh! how a Memorial Day?  This would be PERFECT for your Memorial Day cookout.

If you are not into pasta salad so much, here are some other great side dish/salads to choose from.

Veggie Gyro Salad

Asparagus Tabbouleh with Prosciutto

Artichoke and White Bean Salad

Seven-Grain Salad with Roasted Pepper, Feta, and a Mustard Dressing

Creamy Ranch Slaw

Lemon Pasta Salad with Arugula

Serves 6

8 oz tri-color rotini pasta
4 oz boccoini  mozzarella,  quartered
1 pt cherry tomatoes,  halved
2 cups baby arugula

Lemon Vinaigrette:
zest of 1 lemon
2 T fresh lemon juice - 1 lemon
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t white wine vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to the package directions in a pot of boiling, salted water.  Drain (Do not rinse).

Meanwhile quarter your boccoini and halve your cherry tomatoes.  Place in a large bowl.  Add your cooked pasta, and stir in the arugula.

For vinaigrette combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk until combined.  Add to the pasta salad mix and toss gently to coat all pieces.  Chill for about 1 hour to combine flavors.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Honey Balsamic Drumsticks

One way I feed my hobby obsession for cookbooks is through my Kindle.

When you have a bookshelf overflowing with cookbooks it's time to get creative. Using my kindle to buy the books I desire (umm...deserve) digitally allows me to feed my passion and keep the "stuff" in the house down to a minimum.  

So the other day I heard about a new cookbook put out by one of my favorite blogs (Our Best Bites). They have several books and this one is centered around low calorie cooking.  We all need that right? I quickly purchased "400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites" on my Kindle and started perusing the recipes to see which I wanted to make first.  I found that I bookmarked a LOT of recipes, but chose their "Honey Balsamic Drumsticks" as the meal to make today.  

It's a very economical recipe using drumsticks as your chicken pieces, and I found the dish to be simple to put together.  Don't go for drumsticks?   Make this dish with any chicken piece you wish adjusting the baking time as needed. The chicken is covered with a nice rub (which I doubled) and then a sweet, tangy, sticky glaze that really makes this dish. Don't skimp on this part, the sauce is so delishhhh!  Both MGG and I loved this dish and know your family and kids will love it too.

A simple easy meal for a relaxed weeknight or weekend dinner served with my Lemony Arugula Pasta Salad (recipe coming soon) is dinnertime at it's best.  

If  you not like me (a book hoarder) and love an actual book, you can find the book here.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  Here's a link to Amazon's Kindle Store and Fire Tablet store.  We have both items and I can't imagine ever being without them.  This isn't sponsored, I just love mine to death and want to share a great product!

Honey Balsamic Drumsticks

adapted from "400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites" Cookbook by Sarah Wells and Kate Jones, 2015

serves 5-6 (2 drumsticks per serving)

2–2½ pounds chicken drumsticks (10–12 drumsticks) 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1 teaspoon paprika 
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder 
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper 
4 teaspoons olive oil,  divided

2 tablespoons honey 
2 tablespoons balsamic 
2 tablespoons ketchup 
4 cloves garlic, minced  
2 tablespoons water 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat dry the chicken and set aside. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and red pepper. Drizzle chicken with 2 teaspoons olive oil and rub in to coat all the pieces. Sprinkle the spice mixture over chicken and massage in. 

Heat large cast iron braising pan (or heavy oven-proof skillet with an oven-proof lid) to medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil and brush to cover bottom of entire pan. If more is needed, add a light spray of nonstick cooking spray. Brown chicken 2 minutes per side. (Cook in batches if necessary.) 

While chicken is searing, whisk sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Add the sauce to the pan after the chicken has seared. Toss the chicken to coat. Cover and transfer to oven. 

Bake for 20 minutes, rotate chicken pieces, and baste with sauce. Bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and place drumsticks on a foil lined baking sheet.  Turn your oven on broil.  

Bring sauce that remains in the pan to a boil on stove top and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6  minutes until thick and glossy.   Meanwhile return chicken to the oven and broil 3-4 minutes until lightly charred.  Place chicken on a platter and drizzle with sauce.  Serve with extra sauce if desired.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

It's May...and it's raining today...and it's snowing in the mountains.

This may not be unusual for most places in the country but this is Southern California.  The land of sunshine, and this is just plain weird!

Regardless of the weather I'm still grilling today.  Inside, that is.  I have two favorite grilling pans that I use ALL the time! You can find them here and here.  They are staples for me and make indoor grilling a cinch. One is non-stick and lightweight.  It is easy to use and leaves good grill marks.  The other is cast-iron with superior heat distribution.  Both are excellent pans.  You should definitely get one if you don't have one already.

This light and healthy dish is gonna knock your socks off! The flavors of lime and cilantro are perfect together and when you throw in some California avocados the dish just takes off.  Light and healthy is the theme here.  I served this with some saffron rice and some tropical ice tea.  A perfect way to have dinner in the rain.

So be prepared to wow yourself and your family with this dish.  Guaranteed...there won't be any leftovers.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

adapted from

serves 4

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless chicken breast cutlets
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Roma tomatoes chopped
2 Tbls finely chopped red onion
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled and cubed

Combine cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. Place chicken in a ziploc bag and pour marinade over chicken, turning to coat.  Let stand for 5 minutes. Remove from the marinade, discarding remaining liquid.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Add chicken to pan and cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until done.

To prepare salsa, combine tomato, onion, lime juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add avocado, stirring gently to combine. Serve salsa over chicken.


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