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Baked Chicken Tenders
adapted from Chicken Recipe Box

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast tenders
1 cup bread crumbs (I use 3 slices of whole grain bread which I pulse into bread crumbs in the mini food processor.)
3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut chicken thighs into thin strips. The thinner they are, the quicker they will cook in the oven. Make sure to keep cuts about the same size for even cooking. If you use chicken breast tenders, you can use them as they come if all the tenders are approximately the same size (this choice is healthier since it’s white meat and, therefore, leaner and it’s a time saver=double bonus!).
In one small bowl, combine flour, salt and black pepper. In a second small bowl, beat 2 eggs. In a third small bowl, add bread crumbs.

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Dredge each strip of chicken in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Repeat for all chicken strips. If you have children, let them help with this step- they love to get their hands messy and participate in meal prep, just make sure you are able to get them to a sink with soap and warm water quickly after finishing.
Lay coated chicken strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for less sticking and easier clean-up).
Bake chicken strips in oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked and crisp. Turn the chicken strips about 1/2 way through cooking.

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Serve with ketchup, mustard, or your favorite dip. I prefer a Siracha ketchup or Ranch.

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Happy Spring to everyone! Yesterday, on the official first day of spring, our weather started out with heavy rain and gray skies. Then, the wind kicked up and blew the clouds and rain away to reveal beautiful blue skies and sunshine! The pops of color from the spring flowers, amidst the lush green landscape we are so accustomed to in Seattle, is so much more astounding when the sunlight hits it just right.

Oh, spring! We are ready for you…flowers, longer days, warmer weather cocktails (I’m craving a Dark and Stormy badly these days!), grilling, Easter egg hunts, and basketball!!! Who else is excited for the official start of March Madness today??! My loyalty lies with two teams. First and foremost, my alma mater, the Davidson Wildcats who play Marquette this afternoon (Go Cats!!!) and despite being such a small school nearly always score a spot in the Big Dance! And, the Florida Gators who play their first game on Friday evening…Go Gators!!!

Today is quite the perfect day for the slow cooker to cook your meal and to have it ready to be eaten right when you get home from work, when you’re ready to sit for several hours on the sofa watching all the madness of the games and updating your brackets! This chicken is really good! I prepped it the night before, cutting the onions and peppers and rubbing on the spices, then placed all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and popped it right into the refrigerator until the next morning. I started the slow cooker right before I left for work and when I got home the chicken was fragrant and very tender- I shredded it with a fork. And, it makes enough to have this same meal twice or to use the leftover chicken in a salad or on nachos! If you double the batch,you could even freeze half, which I love to do. A freezer full of stacked ziplocs filled with sauces or shredded meats makes my heart happy!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas Tacos
adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

for spice rub—

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

for serving—

corn tortillas

avocado slices

shredded sharp cheddar cheese

your favorite salsa

limes

Directions:

Mix together all spices in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over the chicken. Then, place the chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cover the chicken with the chopped onions, pepper, jalapeño pepper, and garlic. If you are prepping ahead, place in the refrigerator until the next morning. When you are ready to start cooking, turn heat on LOW and cook for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, remove meat from crock pot and shred with a fork. It should be incredibly easy to shred.

To serve, heat your corn tortillas in a skillet on the stove or in a toaster oven on 200 degrees. Spoon some carnitas on a tortilla then top with salsa, avocado, cheese, and a squeeze of lime.

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Today’s nap time goal: Shred leftover rotisserie chicken, make salad dressing, slice sweet peppers

Tonight’s menu: Coconut Curry Tomato Soup, Rustic Chicken Salad, Good Bread (recipe to come!), Crisp White Wine

We started a Monday dinner routine this summer of having a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods along with various vegetable sides and usually some roasted sweet potatoes. It makes for an easy Monday night dinner and gives me an excuse to go to Whole Foods weekly to purchase all of the yummy things that we like especially from there.

Typically, I’m the one to gobble up all of the leftovers from the chicken as it sits atop my salad lunches for the week alongside any leftover vegetables. But, sometimes I feel like sharing and being creative with the leftover chicken. Tonight is one of those times. And, this salad is scrumptiously delicious and share-worthy. Pair it with the tomato soup and a slice of good bread and you have yourself a perfect meal to bridge the transition between the seasons.

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Rustic Chicken Salad
adapted from a salad seen on Farmhouse Table
Ingredients:
leftover rotisserie chicken (save the juices and drippings)
1 large bag of arugula
3 small pears, sliced thin
4 medium sweet peppers, seeds removed, then slivered
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1 shallot, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/3- 1/2 c. olive oil

Directions:
Gently combine shredded chicken, arugula, pears, peppers, almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Place shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, drippings from chicken, and olive oil in a small pitcher and whisk vigorously to combine. Right before eating, add dressing to salad and toss until well coated.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall,” so I’m letting the change of seasons inspire a rebirth here…in this space I hold so dear but so often neglect.

This blog has been shifted to the back burner as of late with my sporadic popping-ins to post about random things in my head or goings on in my life, and while that is all well and good, it makes for an unreliable and disorganized blog. Did you realize that I haven’t posted a proper recipe since the early part of May?! I had no idea it had been that long!

I’m really excited to get back to the real purpose of this blog…to share recipes (mixed in with bits about my life) that will inspire you to cook nutritious foods for your table. To help you juggle cooking tasks between child care duties and work and life so that you feel motivated, empowered, and inspired to fit real food into real life. My hope is to provide ideas and recipes to inspire you to organize your meals and create seasonal, fresh, and delicious dinners that work for your everyone who gathers around your table, so that cooking and eating can be enjoyed…together.

I’m not promising daily posts, but I will say that my intention is to post during the week on the days that I am working as a stay at home mom rather than away from home as a dietitian. I want to provide you with a glimpse at our day, a menu plan, and a recipe…let’s see how I do!

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Today’s Pre-Dinner Goals (during nap or rest time): Make marinara sauce to simmer for the afternoon, slice peaches, and prep the sweet Ricotta cheese

Tonight’s Menu: Meaty Marinara Sauce over Grilled Summer Squash, Freshly Sliced Stone Fruit with Sweet Ricotta Cheese, Crisp White Wine

Jack starts the official 2012-2013 preschool year in a few more days. While he officially joined the Montessori preschool back in July for its summer session, the thought of him launching into his first real school year makes my eyes water. Some days it just feels like he is growing up so fast! His vocabulary is growing beyond belief being showcased with his elaborate story telling, he dresses himself now and even wants to pick out his own clothes which makes for some very funny outfits (wool cap in the summer sun with St Patrick’s Day leprechaun headband on top!), and he even looks older as he lengthens and loses his baby pudge.

I wanted to make a dinner that felt perfectly homemade, a dinner that showed love. But, we also wanted to spend our “last day of summer” playing at the playground and lounging on the back deck rather than being stuck in the kitchen. So, I decided on my meaty marinara sauce as it can be started on the stove during naptime and left to simmer for the whole afternoon while we play in the sunshine. In my goal of reducing the amount of pasta and other refined carbohydrates we consume, we’ve been eating homemade marinara sauce over grilled zucchini throughout the summer months. You will have to ask my boys, but I haven’t even missed the pasta…In fact, I’ve realized it’s the sauce that steals the show!

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Meaty Marinara Sauce over Grilled Summer Squash

Ingredients:
Olive oil
6 minced garlic cloves
1 lb ground beef (I used Kobe beef as a special treat, but any lean ground beef will do)
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 jar basil and roasted garlic marinara sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped basil

About 2 lbs mixed summer squash
Kosher salt

Directions:
1. In a large pot, brown the garlic cloves in a splash of olive oil until fragrant. Add the ground beef, sprinkle with Old Bay, and cook until browned through. Once cooked, drain any excess oil from the pot taking care not to lose any of the garlic.

2. Add the jar of marinara sauce, dried oregano, and dash of cayenne pepper and stir well to combine. Simmer over low heat with lid on until you are ready for dinner….the longer the better as the flavors will more fully develop. Stir occasionally.

3. Right before dinner, add the chopped basil to the sauce. Then, slice squash into thin strips. Toss with olive oil and kosher salt and then lay in a single layer in a grill pan to sear. You may have to grill the squash in batches.

4. Once squash is cooked, plate the squash and then top generously with the marinara sauce. A little Parmesan on top is always welcome. Serve.

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Sweet Ricotta Cheese

1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
2 tablespoons Maple Syrup

Mix together until combined well and creamed.
Spoon on top of sliced stone fruit (peaches, plums, pluots) or berries.

Will keep for several days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

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We spent the past week, the week between school changes for Jack and the transition week from surgery intern year to radiology residency for David, hosting David’s brother, our sister-in-law, and our niece and nephew who traveled from the mind-numbing heat of Atlanta to chilly, rainy, and occasionally sunny Seattle! David’s sister and her boyfriend also live in this area, so it was a wonderful reunion time of all 3 siblings. We had so much fun and created a lot of dear and silly memories, especially for the two- and three-year-old boy cousins!

We spent lots of time hanging out in the backyard climbing trees, enjoying drinks, digging in the dirt, playing with balls, and eating meals. And, we had a morning art/craft project making a mess with cloud dough!
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The older boys had a challenging, yet fun, golf outing at Chambers Bay, the site of the 2015 US Open. The course is immensely pretty, situated along the Puget Sound with views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.
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We visited the top of the Space Needle, locate in Seattle Center adjacent to the new Chihuly Glass Museum (a glass tree can be seen in the background of the first photo below). It was both our visitors’ and Jack’s first time to the Needle and we were lucky to choose a stunningly clear day! We were awarded with unobstructed views of all of Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and the surrounding islands.
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We enjoyed a long morning at Pike Place Market where we indulged in a delicious French pastry breakfast, meandered through the many market vendors where flowers and cherries, in particular, caught my eye, explored the fun underground stores, watched cheese being made at Beecher’s, and then had a picnic lunch in the sun at Victor Steinbureck park.

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On their last day here, we went to the Wooden Boat Festival at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union. It was such a fun festival with wooden boats to walk on and explore, a craft booth to make your own wooden boat to take home, yummy festival food, and small model sailboat races in the pond. Our dear friends, Amy, Phil, and Hanna joined us for the outing.
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We even managed to get a cute group photo of us all at Kerry Park in Queen Anne, one of my most favorite spots in all of Seattle, and a great picture of the three cousins with their Aunt Laura. We were sad to see them go!
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I’ve always loved the idea of gardening, tinkering around in the dirt with a few plants never really understanding the right thing to do, always having a low yield. But, this year, my parents sent us a garden box (a raised bed) and I researched and planned, determined to really test my green thumb.

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And, I have to say that if you’ve never tried it you are missing out on an amazing opportunity. There is no gratification greater for me than serving a meal with vegetables that I grew with my own two hands. I love kneeling down with my knees in the cool grass, plucking lettuce leaves, arugula leaves, and kale from the garden box for lunch and dinner…there is something so therapeutic about it, something so naturally fundamental to my being. And, I love how much Jack is interested in the growing, caring for, and harvesting.

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This is the time of year when the garden is abundant with its harvest. I love serving fresh, simple salads with every summer dinner, so when we had friend’s over for dinner this past weekend, I knew one of my shared dishes was going to be a mixed greens salad. I chose to keep it simple so as to highlight the freshness of the lettuce and arugula leaves without losing all those delicate flavors. I paired the greens with goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries and then lightly tossed it in olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and kosher salt. It was the perfect taste of homegrown summer time!

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We made this pasta dish after we all arrived home from long days at work and school stumbling into our dark house, shedding our scarves, hats, and coats, throwing our empty lunch bags onto the counter, and gathering in the kitchen for dinner prep. I began chopping as the ravioli boiled in a large pot. Jack got in a few dances to “Farmer in the Dell” and “Oh, Susanna” playing from his farm magnet on the refrigerator, we poured 2 glasses of red wine, and all three of us were happily sitting around the table by 6 o’clock enjoying a delicious plate of pasta.

The arugula brings the perfect addition of green and the olives and feta provide just enough salt and tang to brighten the dish. This is really yummy…a perfect weeknight meal.

Ravioli with Arugula and Olives

1 pound mini cheese ravioli
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped green and black olives
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 cups chopped arugula
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and stir well. Let the pasta cook at a slow boil, stirring occasionally, until tender. When the ravioli is cooked, drain completely and transfer to a large bowl.

Stir the olive oil into the pasta, then add the olives, basil, arugula, and feta cheese and toss gently to mix. Enjoy with red wine and milk ;)

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I posted this recipe years ago, back when I was doing my weekly menus with recipes all in one post. And, coincidentally, the first recipe was also posted during this time of year. The dish would actually be good in any season- a particularly yummy way to enjoy summer’s fresh basil and pepper bounty- but the roasting process and the high temperature of the oven seems to make the most sense to me in the winter.

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A friend actually reminded me about this dish (Thank you, Sarah!) claiming that it makes her husband’s night when it appears on their dinner menu. It’s so simple, yet so delicious, I think it might make most people excited to see it on their table.

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The way the goat cheese browns and the edges of the peppers become charred adds to its winter appeal. The olive oil and pesto give the dish some substance, yet it remains light, calling you to eat the whole pan at one sitting. We had them with chicken sausages last week, but I also think they’d be good as a side to a hearty grain like quinoa or with other roasted vegetables as I suggested in the original post. Another idea that just popped into my head is how fabulous they’d taste over orzo pasta as a sort of deconstructed pasta sauce…..mmm!

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I’ve made a few changes to the recipe over the years, realizing it didn’t quite need so much olive oil, but for the most part it’s the same. I hope you enjoy these.

Roasted Peppers with Goat Cheese and Pesto

3 peppers of differing colors
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Basil leaves
Pesto
Goat Cheese

Half and seed the red, yellow, and orange bell peppers. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray roasting pan with olive oil and place peppers in pan, cut side up. Drizzle peppers lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put a basil leaf, a generous spoonful of pesto, and a chunk of goat cheese in each pepper half. Add the pan to the oven for about 30 minutes- you are looking for the peppers to get crispy brown at the edges. Serve with extra freshly torn basil leaves.

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Eager to incorporate fish into our weekly dinner menu has led me to finding quick, tasty ways to prepare it without leaving our house smelling of a fishy pier.

Simply, this recipe is a keeper. One I’m sure to use monthly as it is easy enough for a week night meal, very tasty and fresh, looks elegant on a table, and provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fats.
Plus, the clean up is minimal since the fish bakes in a sheet of aluminum foil!

Baked Salmon with Lemon Slices

One pound salmon filet, with skin on
1 lemon, sliced very thin
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Instructions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place salmon filet on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Season the topside only with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and place thin slices of lemon on top of filet.

Gather the foil into a loose “pocket” shape being careful not to create a package that is tight. The loose shape will allow steam to form inside the foil, which helps to cook the fish.

Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees, then place salmon in the oven. Cook for about 10- 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filet.

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As you know, I’m always on the hunt for easy and quick recipes for weeknight meals. The recipe has to be really good to land a spot in our rotation since I love trying new dishes. This pasta dish is definitely a staple in my kitchen. What I love about it is its versatility. There are so many options for ingredients in this dish that we always have enough on hand to make a pleasing pasta dinner. It usually goes something like this:

1. Pour a glass of wine- usually red, but sometimes white

2. Prepare the following:

3/4 lb of whatever pasta you have on hand
Some protein- we often use chick peas, white beans, prosciutto, or salami
A large bag or bunch of greens- I wish I could say I get mine from the farmer’s market, but what I typically have is the bag of mixed Southern Greens from Trader Joe’s
A 1/2 cup of cheese- ricotta seems to be the go-to around here since I love having it around to spread on warm toast, but we also use mozzarella quite often
1 lemon
Lots of olive oil
3 or 4 garlic cloves
Salt & ground pepper
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Boil a big pot of salted water. Cook pasta about 12 minutes, or according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water to use if your pasta dish is too dry once combined- I ALWAYS forget to do this, even if I remember to set aside the water, but I do think it would be a good addition.

While the pasta is cooking, chop the meat, if using, into small pieces, or rinse and drain your beans. Sauté the meat in a large pot over medium heat with some olive oil until crispy. Add the minced cloves of garlic to the pot and sauté until fragrant (if you are not using meat, add olive oil with your garlic). Next, add your mix of greens, sautéing until wilted. Add more olive oil here if the greens are not covered nicely. If using beans, add them after you have wilted the greens. Squeeze half a lemon on top of the mixture.

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Stir the cooked pasta, and pasta water, if you remember, into the greens mixture. Toss with cheese and perhaps another squeeze of lemon. Salt to taste…Savor.
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