There’s something about Italian food that brings people together. Lots of our family celebrations seem to involve pizza, pasta, and generous servings of salad like this chopped antipasti salad. It’s a copycat version of a salad served at Buca di Beppo, one of our favorite restaurants for birthdays, graduations and other special occasions. It’s full of yummy veggies, plus pepperoni, two kinds of olives, and three cheeses. It’s far from being a plain, ordinary salad.
Chicken kabobs are one of my favorite weeknight dinners. They’re quick and easy to prepare, and very versatile. I have a couple of marinades that I really love, but these cilantro-lime chicken kabobs are one of my favorites. Most people think of kabobs as a summertime backyard bbq dinner, but because I make them year-round I’ve included both oven and grill cooking directions.
For whatever reason, I often get asked to bring a salad to a party or social gathering. Maybe it’s because salads are so easy to share. This berry salad with spinach, feta and spiced pecans is a crowd-pleasing favorite, and it usually disappears fast from a buffet at a party. Of course, you can also make a smaller version just for yourself or your family. The combination of sweet, crunchy, salty, tangy, creamy and earthy flavors in this salad make it a winner.
To make this salad, start with a bed of your favorite greens. I like to use spinach, butter lettuce and arugula. Layer on sliced strawberries and blueberries, crumbled feta cheese, and spiced pecans. For dressing, I use balsamic glaze, olive oil, salt and pepper.
I love salsa: salsa roja, corn salsa, pico de gallo, mango salsa, I’d be happy to eat salsa every single day. But I think salsa verde might just be my favorite. I bought salsa verde for years without thinking about making it myself, for some reason I always thought it was going to be difficult or require complicated ingredients. Last year my family planted a large garden for the first time and we made salsa verde from our own homegrown tomatillos. It was hands down the best salsa verde I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. After that summer I’ve never gone back to store-bought salsa verde.
While traditional red salsa is tomato based, salsa verde is tomatillo based. If you’ve never cooked with or purchased tomatillos, they’re those small green tomatoes with husks on them. They’re not actually tomatoes, just a member of the tomato family and they have a bright, fruity flavor that I think comes out especially well when they’re roasted.
We celebrated Easter and a family birthday this past weekend, and it made my heart happy to reconnect with loved ones. I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. I ate more than my fair share of candy and yummy baked goods, and now that the holiday is over, I really want to get back to a healthier eating pattern and invite more veggies into my life. Maybe that’s the reason I felt inspired to make this low-calorie balsamic glaze using only two simple ingredients. It adds a sweet-tart deliciousness to salads, grilled or roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or salmon.
It’s easy enough to pick up a bottle of balsamic glaze at the grocery store, next to the balsamic vinegar, but if you make your own, you’ll find it has a more intense flavor. It’s also free of corn syrup and starchy thickeners, ingredients you will find in ready-made balsamic glaze.
Meet my new obsession: Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Lime Sauce. Born out of my favorite Best Ever Mexican Black Beans, this meal is easy, quick, and seriously delicious.
I love black beans in almost any form, but to me the real star of this recipe is the Avocado-Lime Sauce. Think of it as a cross between cilantro-lime dressing and guacamole. It’s absolutely perfect for dipping these tacos, or as a topping for burritos or salads.
I always seem to have the ingredients for this recipe in my kitchen, so this one is perfect for weeknights when I’m short on time. I love that the tacos are rich and crunchy, and the sauce is packed with fresh flavors.
If you want to try a sour cream-based sauce, or maybe serve two different sauces, these black bean tacos also taste great with Chipotle Lime Crema.
This recipe makes 12 tacos – enough for 6 servings, plus a little extra sauce. If 12 tacos is too many, this recipe is really easy to cut in half. But is there really such a thing as too many tacos?
I have a beef with turkey burgers. Did you see what I did there? Yes, they’re healthier and lower in fat that traditional burgers, but they often turn out dry, bland, and boring. After trying many different recipes, I was about to give up on the idea of a delicious, juicy home made turkey burger when I found two ingredients that take turkey burgers to the next level.
The two ingredients that really make these burgers stand out are the BBQ sauce and the smoked paprika. Together they make the burgers juicer and they add a rich, smoky flavor that turkey burgers usually lack. I personally like to use a thick, corn-syrupy BBQ sauce for these and I’m always careful to choose one with a lower than average sugar content (yes, difficult to find when looking at BBQ sauce) as sugar burns easily.
To me the most important difference between beef burgers and turkey burgers is that unlike beef burgers, turkey burgers should not be cooked rare or medium rare. You really don’t want to under cook ground turkey. If you spend some time looking at various turkey burger recipes you’ll see a range of different recommended temperatures the turkey should be cooked to; from 160 F to 180 degrees F. Wanting to make sure I was cooking my meat thoroughly, I did a little research and found that Foodsafety.gov lists 165 degrees F as the safe minimum cooking temperature for ground turkey, with no rest time needed. Be sure to use your meat thermometer, not just your eyes to make sure these are done.
Once you’ve cooked them to the appropriate temperature you’ll arrive at my second-favorite step: topping the burgers. I topped mine with a colby-pepper jack cheese, extra bbq sauce, then piled on the veggies. Then, on to my first-favorite step: eating them.
When it comes to dinner, I’m a planner. I have a routine. I find out what’s on sale at my favorite grocery store, ask my family what they feel like having, look at the weekly calendar to figure out who’s going to be home when, and plan menus from that. More often than not, there’s a white index card on my refrigerator with the menu for each night’s dinner written on it.
But every once in a while, that system falls apart. Life gets extra busy, or I realize at 5 p.m. that I forgot to put that pork roast in the slow cooker, or a million other things, and I just have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner.
This quick and easy lemon grilled chicken is perfect for those times. You can have it on the table in under an hour, with ingredients you probably have on hand. It’s also a great meal planned ahead, when you can give the chicken more time to marinate. It’s inexpensive, low in calories, and super tasty.
To begin the recipe, thaw and trim the chicken breasts. If you have to thaw them in a hurry, you can use the microwave. I used three boneless, skinless chicken breast halves that I bought at Costco, and they were huge, so I cut them in half, making diagonal cuts to try to keep the pieces an even thickness. After trimming away the fat and tendons, I had about 24 ounces of chicken breast, which serves six people, or four if they’re really hungry.
The marinade for this chicken contains olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. It doesn’t have a strong mustard taste, though – the mustard just enhances the lemon flavor. Mix up the marinade and put it in a bowl just large enough to hold it and the chicken breasts, and let the chicken marinate anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Longer is better, but don’t go past 2 hours, because marinating chicken breasts in an acidic liquid too long can make them tougher.
I cooked my lemon chicken on a stovetop grill pan, but you could also cook it on an outdoor grill or in a frying pan. You can serve this with a simple baked potato and veggie side dish for a no-fuss healthy dinner. This recipe pairs well with Slimmed-Down Roasted Broccoli, Balsamic Roasted Carrots, or Berry Spinach Salad.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- ¼ c. olive oil
- Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons (about ¼ c.)
- 2 t. Dijon mustard
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1 t. dried thyme
- Cut chicken breast pieces in half, if they are very large, making diagonal cuts to keep pieces an even thickness. Trim visible fat and tendons. Whisk remaining ingredients in a medium bowl to combine. Add chicken pieces and press down so chicken pieces are covered with marinade. Allow chicken to marinate at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Heat a stovetop grill pan, frying pan, or outdoor grill to medium high heat. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center. If using an instant-read meat thermometer, cook to 160 degrees.
- Remove chicken from heat and serve with additional lemon wedges for garnish (optional).