Chopped Vegetable Salad with Champagne Pear Dressing

My wife created this out of thin air one night when we needed to throw together a quick dinner to counteract the rich foods we had been eating all weekend. The original was made with red pepper, onion, and mushrooms, I think. Every time it got made afterwards something new was added, always with whatever is fresh and in season at the time. Fresh corn, sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, grilled asparagus, red onion, goat or feta cheese and lately…rotisserie chicken.

Things got added but never taken away, and now it resembles something closer to a vegetable explosion than a salad.

The veggies are great, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not what makes this so delicious.

It’s this:

This is not a dressing I would have gone hunting for and I’m not exactly sure how or why it was picked out to begin with (must have been wife), especially given the name. “Champagne Pear” doesn’t exactly scream “great flavor combination” to me. Absolutely makes the salad, though.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 oz cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1-2 medium tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 5-6 white or brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 asparagus stalks, grilled and chopped into 2-in pieces
  • 1 ear of corn (boil for 3 min, then shock in ice water and cut off the cob)
  • 4 oz goat or crumbled feta cheese

Pick your lettuce, I go with 2/3 mixed greens mixed in with 1/3 spinach

Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce and Fake Mashed Potatoes

I’ve made this chicken a few times and it still surprises me how easy it is to throw together. Not only is it satisfying and tasty, but it’s actually healthy too. The sauce adds so much flavor I decided to ditch the real mashed potatoes that usually accompany it in favor of cauliflower “mashed potatoes”. The result is pure low carb deliciousness.

Recipe from Eating Well.

More proof, if any is needed, that any sauce with shallots in it is bound to be a knockout. If you want to know the secret to why restaurant food taste better, it’s shallots. Likewise, if you want your food to taste as good as a restaurant’s…you get the point.

The “mashed potatoes” here are one of the best culinary tricks I’ve ever picked up. I’m a true lover of mashed potatoes and I have no problem substituting these for the real thing. When they’re done right, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference. I discovered these on Steamy Kitchen and I’m so glad I did.

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper
snipped chives

Separate the cauliflower into florets and chop the core finely.

Bring about 1 cup of water (or chicken stock) to a simmer in a pot, then add the cauliflower. Cover and turn the heat to medium. Cook the cauliflower for 12-15 minutes or until very tender.

Drain and discard all of the water (the drier the cauliflower is, the better) and add the milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and mash with a masher until it looks like “mashed potatoes.” Top with chives.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (about 1 pound), trimmed of fat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives, (about 1 bunch)

Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch. Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow glass baking dish and dredge the chicken in it. Discard the excess flour.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour; stir to coat. Add wine, broth and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring often.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until heated through and no longer pink in the center, about 6 minutes. Stir in sour cream and mustard until smooth; turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Stir in chives and serve immediately.

Put a huge portion of the “mashed potatoes” on a plate and put the chicken breasts on top. Pour the source over the whole mess and enjoy.

 

Crock Pot Chicken Sante Fe

The very first time I made this I was blown away, so delicious and satisfying! Plus, any time you’re dealing with a crock pot, you know it’s going to be easy. Just throw some things is and this tasty dish comes out a few hours later.

I make it every other week now.

The recipe is from Skinnytaste.com.

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot. Season chicken breast with a little salt and lay on top. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning. Serve over rice or in a tortilla (extra pts).

Spaghetti Squash Marinara

Three days in Las Vegas is all that any normal person can take. I pushed the limit last week and spent a record-breaking 6 days gorging on everything from deep fried chorizo at Jaleo

Image

…to spaghetti and meatballs at Rao’s

Image

…to a burger topped with beef brisket at Holstein’s.

Image

It felt like I just finished a series of Man vs. Food challenges and won!

Time to reset the diet. Last night I did that with Spaghetti Squash Marinara. Basically, it’s squash and tomato sauce…that’s it.

Image

A perfect use of the Rao’s marinara sauce, by the way.

Image

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash, cored and seeds removed

1 small shallot, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups Rao’s marinara

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Halve the squash and rub with the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle the shallots on the inside of the squash. Salt and pepper a little on top of the squash. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife goes in with little resistance. While the squash is roasting, heat up your marinara. Remove the squash by scraping the inside with a fork. Top with the marinara and shower with grated Parmesan cheese.

Weeknight sole with pan roasted potatoes and glazed “fat” carrots

If I had a quarter for every time I made this…I’d be a hundredaire.

What are “fat carrots”, you ask? Well, fat carrots are what happens when you don’t know how to properly water a garden even though you’ve been at it for over 3 years. If you don’t water deeply enough (which is my problem) or water too often (which is also my problem), the carrot gets all its water near the surface of the soil and doesn’t go any deeper.

Start the potatoes. These are pretty quick and easy and when they come right out of the ground, taste like no other potatoes you’ve ever had.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, leaves removed
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the larger potatoes into 2-inch pieces and keep the smaller ones whole. Put potatoes into a small bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and into the oven for 25-30 minutes. They’re done when they start to brown and are a little crisp on the outside. Take them out of the oven and return to the bowl. Add the thyme to the potatoes and toss until coated. I usually cover the bowl in foil to keep the potatoes warm while everything else is finishing up.

When the potatoes have about 15 minutes left, start the carrots. These are quick too, about 10 minutes from start to finish. Super easy. This recipe was adapted from an Alice Waters cookbook, The Art of Simple Food.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of sugar

Add the carrots, butter, sugar and a little salt to a small frying pan on medium-high heat. When the pan heats up and the butter starts to melt, swirl everything around to combine. Add the water, cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low and steam the carrots for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and saute the carrots for another 4-5 minutes, stirring them a few times. They should be tender with a little resistance when you stick a knife in them. You should be left with a sticky glaze that coats the carrots.

The sole is the last thing I cook because the whole shebang takes about 5 minutes. I’m using Meyer lemons, mostly because I have a small tree in the backyard that usually gives up 20 or so lemons in the winter and they pack a huge lemon punch. This one is store-bought though.

Ingredients:

  • 2 fresh sole filets
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (to season flour)

Lightly dredge sole in seasoned flour. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan until it just begins to smoke. Sauté the sole until golden brown on each side (about 1 to 2 minutes per side). Remove to a plate and cover with foil.  As soon as the fish is done, crank out the sauce.

 Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Add 1 tablespoon butter to a small pan (I’ve used the same pan as the fish was in before, turns out just fine) and heat until the butter gets brown. Add white wine, lemon, capers, parsley salt and pepper. Let it all simmer in the pan for a minute or two, or until the liquid is reduced and thickened (if you’re using the pan the fish was in, it’s already hot and the reduction/thickening happens almost instantaneously). Remove the sole to a plate and pour the sauce over it. Sprinkle with more parsley if you want, you fancy bastard.