Greek Salad

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Greek Salad 

My husband adores my Greek salads.  The key to this salad is making everything small, similar, bite sized pieces.  I am always happy to make this salad because it is  healthy, easy to assemble, and makes a great side dish or a dinner.  Just add some grilled chicken breast, shrimp or lamb and some grilled pita, and dinner is ready! The Mediterranean is calling…

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bag Romaine hearts, chopped
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • handful Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • pinch dried dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl combine the first 8 ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, dill, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Pour dressing over salad and toss well to combine.

Make sure to dress the salad just before serving or it will wilt the lettuce.

Sumer’s Amazing Water

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Sumer’s Amazing Water

We were invited to our friend’s house for dinner last year and she had this incredible water.  It was refreshing, wonderful, and I have been obsessed with it ever since.  Thank God she told me what was in it.  This calls for orange blossom water, which can be found in most middle eastern markets, but you don’t have to use it.  If you can’t find it, just throw in some more sliced oranges.  Same effect.  The possibilities are endless on this: melon-cucumber, basil with berries, lemon-blueberry-mint.  This is a beautiful presentation for a shower or party or just to fill up your water jar to drink at work.  I promise you will drink more water by making this!

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon purified or spring water
  • 1/2 clamshell of fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 orange, sliced thinly or clamshell of kumquats, cut in half
  • 1 lime, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water (optional)
Stir all ingredients together and serve over ice.

 

Sliced Pork with Soba Noodle Salad

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Sliced Pork with Soba Noodle Salad

This is a super simple dinner.  I am sure all of the ingredients for the salad don’t sound terribly easy to find, but most of them are in your grocery store.  If you don’t feel like assembling the dressing, take a cheat and buy a Soyaki type  dressing/marinade and put it over the noodles instead.  This dish can be made vegetarian by omitting the pork (obviously) and adding a grilled or breaded portobello mushroom.  A little tip for de-seeding your cucumbers: cut them in half lengthwise, using a small teaspoon, simply scrape the seeds out.

Serves 4

For the Pork:

  • 1 lb. thin cut boneless pork chops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread (or regular bread) crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
  • Vegetable or peanut oil for sauteing
In a large saute pan, heat 6 tablespoons oil over medium heat.  Place panko in a shallow dish, and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the beaten eggs into a separate shallow dish.  Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  When the oil is hot, dip one chop at a time in the egg then the bread crumbs.  Working in batches, add the pork to the hot pan and saute for 3-4 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain any excess oil.  Let cool 5 minutes, slice thinly and serve over top the soba salad.

For the Soba Noodle Salad:

  • 1 package Soba noodles, cooked according to package directions, drain and cool
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced (discard last 1/4 of onion)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks (or grated)
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks (or grated)
  • handful cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriacha
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder or fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Place the cooled soba noodles in a large bowl.  Add the carrots, cucumber, onion, cilantro, and sesame seeds to the noodles.  In a separate small, microwave safe bowl, add peanut butter and heat for 20-30 seconds until thinned.  Let cool for a minute or so and whisk in the sesame oil, Sriacha, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar until smooth.  Pour dressing over noodles, toss all ingredients well and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

 

Light Lemony Chicken Pasta

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Light Lemony Chicken Pasta 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled and sliced
  • 2 cups cooked pasta, 1/4 cup of the cooking water reserved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red Anaheim chili, chopped or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • pinch dried basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • parmesan cheese
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

In a medium saute pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic 30 seconds, stirring frequently.  Add red peppers or red pepper flakes and saute another 30 seconds. Toss in pasta, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, tomato, basil, and season with salt and pepper. Stir and let cook for 2 minutes. Add parsley and cook another minute.  Divide pasta between two plates, top with parmesan cheese and chicken breasts.

Healthy Doesn’t Have To Be Boring Chicken Dinner

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Healthy Doesn’t Have To Be Boring Chicken Dinner

I have been back on my super healthy kick and have been eating this dinner almost nightly.  It is super easy and my fall back recipe that I know is healthy, filling and low fat.  I always keep a bag of frozen veggies from Costco and a bag of frozen chicken breasts.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen (thawed) or fresh chicken breasts
  • 2 cups frozen veggies (mixture of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots), cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 package fresh white button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • olive oil nonstick cooking spray
  • garlic powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (low cal) or 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice

Directions:

Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Spray a pan with nonstick cooking spray and cook chicken breasts until cooked through about 4-6 minutes on each side.  These can also be done on the grill or in a grill pan, however you prefer. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Spray pan again with nonstick cooking spray and add mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and cook until tender for 3-4 minutes.  Pour mushrooms into plate with chicken.  Slice chicken into strips.  Place 1/2 cup rice on a plate, top with veggies, and chicken breast slices. Drizzle sauce choice over top of plate.

 

Roasted Eggplant Dip

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Roasted Eggplant Dip 

Serves 4

I like to serve this smoky dip alongside lamb or with pita triangles. This dip also turns into a wonderful sandwich spread with roasted veggies or with chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Japanese eggplants (or 2 small American), peeled and cubed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch cumin

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread cubed eggplant out on a large baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and toss around with your fingers to coat all pieces well.  Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned and soft.

Scrape eggplant into food processor. Season with salt and pepper, cayenne and cumin.  Pour in lemon juice and olive oil and pulse until smooth. You can add more or less olive oil for desired consistency.

Drizzle with a little extra olive oil to serve and a pinch of cayenne.

 

Sunday Night Braised Lamb Shanks

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Sunday Night Braised Lamb Shanks

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Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs. lamb shanks, cut into big pieces (2-4 per shank)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine (shiraz, cabernet, merlot)
  • 1 32 ounce container beef broth
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Directions:

Season shanks with salt and pepper and sprinkle liberally with flour.

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In a large stock pot, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches, brown shanks on each side for about 2 minutes, adding more oil if necessary.  Remove shanks to a plate, add another 2 tablespoons oil and add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to pot.  Season veggies with salt and pepper.  Saute vegetables for another 4 minutes until softened and fragrant.

Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. This is where all the yummy flavor is hiding.  Let mixture come to a gentle boil and cook for one minute.  Add beef broth, lemon zest, Bay leaf, cinnamon stick and season with salt and pepper.  Cover pot and cook for 45-50 minutes or until shanks are cooked and coming away from the bone.

Serve over couscous or rice or with a crusty pita to sop up all the delicious juices.

Basil Lemon Vinaigrette

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Basil Lemon Vinaigrette

There is an amazing salad at a local restaurant in Phoenix that I adore. This is my take on their dressing.  This beautiful green dressing be amazing drizzled on fish or chicken, on greens, or tossed into my couscous salad. It is very similar to pesto but much milder in flavor and brighter tasting from the lemon.

  • zest from one lemon
  • juice from 1/2 large lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch garlic powder

In a food processor or blender, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar, cayenne and garlic.  With motor running, slowly pour in olive oil (through feed tube if you have one).  Once incorporated, add in basil leaves and pulse until well combined.

Chicken and Rice Stuffed Roasted Peppers

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Chicken and Rice Stuffed Roasted Peppers

I used poblano chilies in this recipe and seem to have gotten a super hot batch of them.  Ouch.  If you don’t mind heat, use poblanos.  However, I would recommend using red bell peppers instead if you don’t want to chance the heat.  I cooked my brown rice with a few saffron threads, which made it phenomenal, but you can omit it for obvious reasons.  I also opted to melt a strip of monterey jack cheese over my peppers (mainly because my husband and son won’t touch them if they are too healthy) but you can omit the cheese to keep it low-fat and low-cal.  Another option is to omit the chicken and replace it with spinach and corn or black beans for a nice vegetarian option.

Serves 4

  • 8 red bell peppers or poblano peppers
  • 1 pound ground chicken (not too lean)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked or regular paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 package sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced jarred roasted red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 green onions, chopped, white and green parts
  • handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse and pat dry peppers.  Char the skin of the peppers until blackened on all sides under the broiler, on the stove top (directly on the burner), or on a grill.  Let the peppers sit for about 10 minutes then run under cool water and the skin will slip right off.  Once all the skins have been removed, make a slit in each pepper from top to bottom and squeeze seeds out of each one.

In a medium saute pan, over medium heat, add pine nuts and cook stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Pour pine nuts into a large bowl.  In same skillet, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil. Over medium heat, cook mushrooms until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mushrooms out into bowl.  Add ground chicken to skillet, season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.  Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, breaking up any chunks with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Drain off any remaining fat in the pan and add chicken to bowl.  Add rice to bowl, roasted red pepper, onions, and cilantro.

Place all peppers in a large baking dish and stuff each with the filling.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Kale Chips

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Kale Chips

Kale chips are the newest food revolution.  I, sadly, had not caught on to this revolution until just recently.  I am now in LOVE with them! In a potato chip fight, they would give them a serious beat down.  They are healthy, GREAT for you (fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, need I list more?), taste way better than a cruddy bagged chip full of chemicals, and easy to make. You could toss them with a bit of garlic powder, smoky paprika, and or toss them with a bit of lemon juice.

Remove the rough ribs down the center with a knife and tear the leaves into 3 inch pieces. Toss the leaves with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread the leaves out on 2 baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees until browned around the edges and crispy, 12 to 15 minutes.