Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chopped Chicken Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette

It's safe to say I'm still in a turkey coma from this past weekend. While Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever, after a few days of what seemed like an eating competition, today I was ready for a light meal. I don't eat a lot of salads, but if they contain a combination of sweet and salty ingredients, you can bet I'll like it. I decided to pair sweet dried apricots with salty blue cheese in this one for a flavor that will have you craving more. The vinaigrette's fresh rosemary adds a special touch. Make this meal for dinner and if you have any left, it's a perfectly portable lunch. Enjoy! 




1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.


3. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Cook chicken for 3 minutes per side and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes, then dice.


4. Place chopped romaine in a large mixing bowl. Top with the diced chicken and chopped apricots. Drizzle vinaigrette over and toss lightly.


5. Transfer salad to a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese and almonds.


Chopped Chicken Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette
Serves 4

All you need:
Vinaigrette
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large or 2 small heads romaine lettuce, finely chopped
10 dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Cook chicken for 3 minutes per side and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes, then dice.
4. Place chopped romaine in a large mixing bowl. Top with the diced chicken and chopped apricots. Drizzle vinaigrette over and toss lightly.
5. Transfer salad to a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese and almonds.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cran-Citrus Hot Pepper Jelly Dip

The holidays are here and as a chef, I like to go all out with my menu planning. The second I see pumpkin or cranberries on the shelf, I'm ready to think of new recipes. If you've visited my blog before, you know I'm the biggest fan of sweet and spicy foods. I was cleaning out my pantry today and found a bottle of hot pepper jelly that was begging to be eaten. Although great on it's own, pepper jelly pairs well with cranberries. The citrus and cilantro add a wonderful freshness to the sauce as well. This sauce works served as a salsa with tortilla chips too. Happy cooking this week!




1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook until lightly softened, about 2 minutes.

2. Add cranberries, pepper jelly and crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the cranberries "pop", about 5 minutes.



3. Remove pan from heat and stir in orange and lime zest/juice as well as the fresh cilantro. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool to room temperature.




4. Place cream cheese on a serving platter and spoon cranberry mixture over (refrigerate any extra). Serve with crackers. 



Cran-Citrus Hot Pepper Jelly Dip
Serves 8

All you need:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 (12 oz.) bag fresh cranberries (or 1-1/2 cups frozen)
1 cup red pepper jelly
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 block light cream cheese
Buttery crackers or woven wheat crackers, for serving

All you do:
1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook until lightly softened, about 2 minutes.
2. Add cranberries, pepper jelly and crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the cranberries "pop", about 5 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in orange and lime zest/juice as well as the fresh cilantro. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
4. Place cream cheese on a serving platter and spoon cranberry mixture over (refrigerate any extra). Serve with crackers.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Go Green" Pizza

I love coming up with making pizza recipes that also provide nutrition. This pizza is packed to the brim with yummy veggies and fresh herbs with just a sprinkle of cheese to hold everything together. The creamy goat cheese and spinach mixture that is spread onto the crust before the pizza sauce is really what makes this dish super special. Pair this meal with a glass of red wine and you've got dinner in no time!



1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Combine spinach and goat cheese in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.


3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pepperoni and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.


4. In the same skillet, cook the red onion and mushrooms until softened, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.


4. Spread spinach and goat cheese mixture evenly onto the pizza crust. Top with a thin layer of pizza sauce followed by the cooked pepperoni, onion and mushrooms as well as the broccoli and artichoke hearts. Sprinkle with the seasonings and mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-18 minutes or until cheese is lightly golden brown and crust is crisp.





5. Garnish pizza with fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil. Let pizza sit 5 minutes before slicing. 



"Go Green" Pizza
Serves 8

All you need:
6 oz. goat cheese, softened
3 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup turkey pepperoni, diced
1 red onion, sliced thin
8 oz. sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 large thin pizza crust
1 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, for garnish

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Combine spinach and goat cheese in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pepperoni and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
4. In the same skillet, cook the red onion and mushrooms until softened, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
4. Spread spinach and goat cheese mixture evenly onto the pizza crust. Top with a thin layer of pizza sauce followed by the cooked pepperoni, onion and mushrooms as well as the broccoli and artichoke hearts. Sprinkle with the seasonings and mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-18 minutes or until cheese is lightly golden brown and crust is crisp.
5. Garnish pizza with fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil. Let pizza sit 5 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cherry and Pomegranate Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

Growing up with a sister who has diabetes, we were always doing our best to watch carbs and make sure there were desserts she could enjoy as well. Her go-to dessert that she would prepare for us was what she called "5-minute mousse" which was simply sugar free pudding and whipped topping. It's the easiest dish ever to make, but the flavor is awesome! I figured I would jazz up her favorite mousse by adding more nutritious ingredients like cherries, pomegranate seeds and dark chocolate chips. These parfaits are the perfect make-ahead dessert and would be a great addition to your holiday table!




1. Combine pudding mix and milk until slightly thickened.


2. Fold whipped topping in and stir to combine. Set aside.

3. Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl.


4. Build parfaits: start with a layer of chocolate mousse, followed by a layer of graham crackers, then a layer of cherries and pomegranate seeds and finally chocolate chips. Repeat layers one more time.


5. Garnish each parfait with toasted pistachios. Keep cold until ready to serve.



Cherry and Pomegranate Chocolate Mousse Parfaits
Makes 6 parfaits

All you need:
1 (1.4 ounce) package instant sugar free chocolate fudge pudding
1 1/2 cups cold unsweetened almond milk (or skim milk)
1 (8 ounce) container light whipped topping
1 sleeve chocolate graham crackers
1 (12 ounce) bag frozen dark sweet cherries
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted pistachios, for garnish

All you do:
1. Combine pudding mix and milk until slightly thickened.
2. Fold whipped topping in and stir to combine. Set aside.
3. Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl.
4. Build parfaits: start with a layer of chocolate mousse, followed by a layer of graham crackers, then a layer of cherries and pomegranate seeds and finally chocolate chips. Repeat layers one more time.
5. Garnish each parfait with toasted pistachios. Keep cold until ready to serve.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Creamy Paprika Chicken with Egg Noodles

As the nights become longer and the windy and colder days become more frequent, nothing beats a comforting, good-for-you meal. This dish has so many layers of flavor. Fresh veggies and herbs, red wine and warming spices like paprika and cayenne bring this dish to life. The chicken mixture is fine to be eaten all by itself, but I like it served over egg noodles or whole grain pasta for that chewy "bite". This is a protein-packed dinner that is super family-friendly and it re-heats well too!



1. Cook egg noodles in salted boiling water for 6 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs and cook until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.


3. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the pan and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add red wine and simmer until wine is almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.


4. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes longer.


5. Add the paprika, allspice, fennel seeds, cayenne and stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until sauce has reduced by half. Remove pan from heat and stir in fresh parsley. Finish with sour cream. Adjust seasonings as needed.




6. Serve chicken mixture over egg noodles.

Creamy Paprika Chicken with Egg Noodles
Serves 6

All you need:
12 oz. egg noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts, if you prefer), diced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups baby spinach
8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup light sour cream
1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

All you do:
1. Cook egg noodles in salted boiling water for 6 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs and cook until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the pan and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add red wine and simmer until wine is almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
4. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes longer.
5. Add the paprika, allspice, fennel seeds, cayenne and stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until sauce has reduced by half. Remove pan from heat and stir in fresh parsley. Finish with sour cream. Adjust seasonings as needed.
6. Serve chicken mixture over egg noodles.