Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. Hope that everyone has safe travels and enjoys the time with family and friends. Remember to give thanks for all that you have.

This cartoon says it best.... enjoy Turkey Day then worry about Santa coming... I really try not to rush Christmas and give this day of thanks its own time.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Country French Vinaigrette

You have heard me talk multiple times about Penzey's Spices (here, here, here, here, here). I love all of their products and more importantly I love shopping at the store. I get lost in their store for hours and my un-creative mind even starts coming up with ways to use each spice. In the store you can smell each spice, which is a major bonus. Unless you smell a hot chipotle pepper seasoning and start sneezing your head off!

The Country French Vinaigrette has been my go to dressing base. I love how fresh it tastes, you have to rehydrate the spices for 5 minutes in water to accomplish this. The directions are on the back of the jar, making it easy to whip up the dressing in a hurry!

We not only use this as a delicious salad dressing, but also as a topping for broccoli, asparagus, steamed kale, and have even used as a marinade for fish. It works wonderful to create a complex flavor with all the foods I have used it on so far.

I love making Greek Salads with this dressing so here's an easy recipe

Greek Salad

1 head lettuce or 3 stalks romaine (I usually use whatever lettuce is in my fridge - in the picture above this was a mixed baby lettuce pack)
artichokes in a jar - sliced
kalamata olives (pitted) - halved
grape tomatoes - halved
roasted red and yellow peppers - chopped (you can either make them or buy a jar of them)
chickpeas - drained
sprinkle of parmesan cheese
feta cheese (or could use provolone cheese)
salami - chopped into small squares *optional
pepperocini peppers
Country French Vinaigrette - Penzey's spices (try to order this from penzey's or use a store bought greek dressing to substitute)

Mix all of the above together and you have a fresh lunch or dinner salad. I like to toss the dressing with the mixture but remember to start with a little dressing and add more as needed. This dressing is very flavorful so a little goes a long way. I love the ease of this salad. I usually can make 3-4 salads with a jar or can of each of the ingredients listed above. Or use the full jars/can and add some extra lettuce for a large salad to entertain guests with

Balsamic Chicken with Kale

Kale is such a versatile green. I use it in my green smoothies, in autumn soups, and sauteed with olive oil and garlic as a side dish.

{photo taken at night with bad lighting... sorry}

When I told Ryan we were having kale and chicken for dinner, he replied with "what did I do wrong?" Funny thing is that he enjoyed the dinner and have made this multiple times since then. Chicken with kale is a great light dish with a balanced flavor. You could serve this with a fresh salad if you like.

Balsamic Chicken with Kale

Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger

1 TBS olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound of chicken breast (about 4 halved breasts)
8-10 ounces kale (can use a mixture of spinach, swiss chard, and kale)
2 TBS balsamic vinegar, use high quality
1/2 cup chicken broth
a pinch or two of red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (I used Muir Glen roasted tomatoes)
2 cups grain (can use whole wheat couscous, quinoa, brown rice)

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan and cook through, this took about 5-7 minutes (depending on your thickness of your chicken breasts). When cooked through, set aside.

Cook your grain of choice according to the package. I love the Israeli Couscous or brown rice with this dish, but you could really use anything, or nothing at all and make it lower on the carbohydrate side.

Add the 10 ounces of kale (or greens mixture) to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until wilted, then set this aside also.

Add the 3 minced garlic cloves to the pan and saute until the "garlic speaks". Then, stir in the chicken broth (1/2 cup) and balsamic vinegar (2 Tablespoons), which will allow you to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then add in the can of diced, roasted tomatoes. Season with the red pepper flakes (couple of pinches) and simmer for 4 minutes, then add the chicken back to the pan, nestling it in to re-warm the chicken. Remember not to cook the chicken here, as it should already be cooked through.

To plate your dinner, place your grain on the bottom, then the kale or greens mixture, then the chicken with tomatoes on top. You could also add a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese, although I don't think that it is necessary (I say this because Ryan wanted some parmesan on top!)