Warm Spinach Salad

Eating alone does not have to be take out or something boring. Big Pete is away at a conference and I still like to cook something delicious even if I am dining alone…because I am worth it!

This is a simple spinach salad with a half a chicken breast and the dressing is made right in the pan then poured over the salad while still warm.

You will need:

  • a few big handfuls of baby Spinach or Spinach and Arugula
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 small yellow onion – sliced into half rings
  • a few slices of red onion
  • great extra virgin olive oil (always!! I am using a beautiful Itrana from Quatrociocchi ) you will use some for cooking and some to finish
  • a dash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 chicken breast sliced -cooked then chopped
  • 6-7 white mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 small tomato chopped into small dice (approx 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of jalapeno jelly
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: cook a couple of slices of good quality bacon on a medium heat flipping it from time to time to get an even crispiness. I like mine just shy of cooked until it is crumbly but you cook it as you like. Once cooked remove from pan and place on paper towel to absorb excess fat and set aside to cool, then chop.

Step 2: toss a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach and arugula to a big bowl. There are lots of other ingredients here so don’t worry that this is not enough.

Step 3: slice up a half a yellow or white onion and saute on medium heat in a bit of your good olive oil (honestly don’t ever buy that junk stuff from the grocery store buy real oil of decent quality no matter what!) saute until browned. While your onions cook slice up a bit of red onion into half rings and toss along with a handful of blueberries into your bowl with the greens.

Chop up your tomato and set in a small bowl.

This salad is a combination of raw and cold and warm and spicy. The tartness of the blueberries along with the raw onion goes so nicely with the warm chicken covered in the sweet and spicy jalapeno jelly.

Step 4: add a splash of balsamic vinegar when the onions are just starting to brown. Cook for a minute or two more then add your chicken. Remember to add a bit of salt and pepper and cook chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and chop. You should have your chicken chopped, your tomato chopped and your bacon chopped.

Step 5: in the same pan saute the mushrooms until nicely golden around the edges and then add back the meat, your mustard, the jalapeno jelly and a dash of red wine vinegar. Stir until a simple sauce starts to form.

Step 6: add all remaining ingredients. Cook 1 more minute.

Toss the warm ingredients over the cold taste and adjust for salt and pepper once more. I also always add a little drizzle of my great olive oil for a perfect raw oil finish. Think of olive oil as a condiment here. Eat right away!

Filipino Chicken Adobo

 My pal Dan was talking about his favorite foods from the Philippines and Chicken Adobo came up in the conversation! I said “I have never made Chicken Adobo!” His eyes lit up and he described the sweet, sour and rich tastes he remembered growing up. I said “I have to make that!”

So this one was made with love for Dan! and of course Big Pete!

This is slow simmered until it thickens and gets all dark and wonderful. It is sweet, sour and tangy. Served piping hot over fragrant Jasmine rice, I promise you will love it!

You will need:

  • 8-10 organic chicken thighs
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic -chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed peppercorns
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes (crushed or pieces)
  • 1 small onion
  • scallions or onion sprouts to serve
  • your favorite rice – I like Jasmine
  • 1 small pork tenderloin chopped in large slices(optional for a Pork & Chicken Adobo version – if you prefer!)

Step 1: I like to clean off some of the big pieces of fat on the thighs and then I cut them in half or quarters. Place in a large bowl.

Step 2: take an onion and lots of garlic and mince finely. This will just disappear in the sauce. Add to chicken.

Step 3: add your cider (or white) vinegar and soy to the bowl.

Step 4: add the palm sugar or brown sugar if you don’t have palm (you can find it in any good grocery store or health food store)

Step 5: you can add canned tomatoes but I had fresh seasonal so I just did a rough chop and threw them in the food processor. Add to the bowl. Add the cracked peppercorns – don’t worry you can add lots!

Step 6: marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Step 7: OPTIONAL* you can  also add some pork tenderloin but, I do not add until the last 1/2 hour of cooking. I have chopped into similar sized pieces as the chicken and you can add some of the sauce to it to marinate before adding to the pot.

Step 8: add to a large heavy pot – this is when I bring out the heavy enamelled cast iron Le Crueset.(they are worth every penny by the way!) Turn on medium heat, let come to a boil and then just lower to a steady blip for 3 hours or until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is tender. If you are adding the pork add it in the last 15- 30 minutes because the meat is so tender.

It gets all thick and dark caramelly brown!! My mouth is watering just looking at this picture.

Serve over Jasmine rice and a few onion sprouts or scallions to make it pretty!

The boy could hardly wait to eat a big bowl of it! Big Pete approved!!

I hope Dan liked it too!!

Potato and Pesto Chicken Soup

I can’t believe how simple and delicious this soup is. You can make your own pesto (I have a really excellent pesto recipe on this blog!) or you can just buy a good quality one from the store. By the way it’s absolutely delicious with or without the chicken. You decide.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp great extra virgin olive oil -I used Solla Stella from Texas Hill Country
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 small onion -finely minced
  • 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large baking potato -peeled and cubed into dice that fits on a spoon size
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced finely
  • 4 oz cannellini beans- rinsed
  • 1 litre chicken broth
  • 1 chicken breast – sliced finely and tossed in 1 tbsp pesto.
  • 1/2 cup small pasta
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp pesto
  • fresh grated Parmesan to serve with another drizzle of good oil.

Step 1: I like to assemble everything so I don’t forget things. I chop and have things ready to go when I start.

Step 2: cook bacon in some olive oil until crispy. Drain and set aside. I drain oil and then start with fresh olive oil for the next step.

Step 3: add a bit more olive oil and butter to saute your onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes and then add potatoes.  Toss and cook another 3 minutes until all potatoes are coated .

Step 4: add lots of salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding broth.

Step 5: add your box of chicken broth -if you have homemade even better! and add beans.

Step 6: saute a chicken breast sliced and tossed in a bit of pesto. Add to soup.

Step 7: cook approximately 20 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add pasta shells and  chili flakes – cook another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add pesto to taste. Adjust salt and pepper if you want more.

If you don’t want the chicken just add the bacon back in at the last minute, a drizzle of good oil and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

If you like add the cooked chicken along with everything else!

 

Spring Chicken with Lemon, Asparagus and Fresh Peas

This is a fresh spring dish using so many things that first come into season like fresh peas, asparagus and zucchini. Then adding a bit of chicken, lemon and great Olive Oil to make a dish you can enjoy as is or add to pasta or rice if you want to make it heart.  Don’t forget the Parmesan shavings to finish.

You will need:

  • 1 chicken breast – sliced into thin strips
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic – minced finely
  • 2 tbsp mild and fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used Bozzano – Miller’s Blend from California
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning mix – dry
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup fresh peas
  • 12- 15 asparagus spears – peeled then sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 small zucchini -sliced on the diagonal
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 spring onions -sliced thin
  • 1/2 – 1 whole jalapeno pepper – sliced finely
  • 2-3 tbsp more olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard
  • freshly peeled shavings of Parmesano Reggiano cheese

I found some great things in the market like purple asparagus and fresh peas so I thought this would go perfect with a chicken breast and some lemon.

Step 1: mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and divide the pile into 2. Remember that the finer you mince the stronger the garlic flavor.

Step 2: slice your chicken breast into thin strips and add half of your garlic, some great olive oil. I used Bozzano Ranch – Miller’s blend which is a fruity mild oil from California. Also add some lemon zest and a half of lemon juiced. Mix and set aside while you prepare your vegetables.

Step 3: I don’t even like peas! except when they are fresh at the beginning of the season. These beauties are great to snack on raw too!

 Step 4:  I had to buy this gorgeous asparagus because of it’s color!

Step 5: I peeled both sides until I could not peel any more. I then took these spears and sliced them on an angle to create a nice dice.

Step 6: I kept the shavings of asparagus separated because I want those raw in this dish and the dice I will cook briefly.

Step 7: slice a half or the whole jalapeno (ha-la- pain-yo) and some green onions for a fresh taste

Step 8: saute your chicken in a hot pan and add your dry chilis and your Italian seasoning mix along with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Step 9: add a spoon of mustard, stir and remove chicken from pan. Set aside.

Step 10: add your veggies and perhaps a bit more oil and saute a few minutes until just starting to brown around edges, you want the vegetables to still be fresh and not too soft.

Step 11: add back you chicken and all the juices and stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper then shave the Parmesan.

I always finish with another little drizzle of great olive oil for a fresh finish!

Teriyaki

This is an exciting post for me! This is my 500th post on this blog!! wow I could never have imagined it would get this far!! Thanks for joining me on my journey and remember there are lots of recipes on this site!! Cook something.

Teriyaki sauce is easy to make and great on, or in so many things. I love it on Salmon, Beef or chicken and I have even added it to burgers for something different. Don’t buy it in a bottle make it yourself!

You will need:

  • 2 beef tenderloin steaks – partially freeze for easy slicing
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh grated horseradish
  • 1 tsp fresh finely chopped red chili – medium heat
  • 1 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Mirin (sweet sake)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

and create your favorite salad to top steak on

Step 1: if you are preparing the beef teriyaki I recommend tenderloin which is tender and expensive however, 1 or 2 little streaks is all you need. I like to partially freeze the meat and then slice thin and gently flatten the meat with the blade of your knife. This meat will easily tear so be gentle. You can also use a flank steak for feeding a bigger crowd for less money. I like tenderloin because one small steak feeds 2 people. You can also slice chicken breasts into strips or even salmon.

Step 2: prepare your teriyaki  sauce. In a small bowl add all remaining ingredients in recipe. Chop your chili and garlic very finely and grate your ginger and horseradish (you could use a bit of wasabi  if you don’t have fresh horseradish. Mix everything to combine.

Step 3: Now you can add this meat carefully to a skewer or carefully grill for literally 1 minute on each side until done. I add the sauce to the meat to marinade only while the grill is heating up, you don’t want the meat to be cooked by the strong marinade. If you are cooking chicken you can allow the marinade to work for an hour or a few before grilling. The salmon is like the tenderloin very delicate and you don’t want the sauce to cook the meat.

Grill for one minute on each side for this thin beef. I have made it without a skewer and also with skewers I find you need to be gentle when handling this meat. The chicken is much easier to deal with and can be marinated for longer. Brush extra sauce over meat while cooking and serve immediately. I like to top this meat on a Spinach salad but, you can top any salad you prefer.

Greek Salad

Always fresh and delicious and you can’t believe it’s been so long since you have had this! A simple Greek salad can become the perfect weekday meal with a bit of grilled chicken or salmon.

You will need:

Dressing

  • 1 tsp minced garlic – 1 small clove
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Olive View Estate by Temecula Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Salad

  • tomatoes – chopped
  • English cucumber – chopped
  • red onion – slices
  • romaine lettuce
  • red or green pepper – chopped
  • avocado – cubed
  • fresh mint and basil – sliced into strips(chiffonade)
  • assorted olives
  • Greek feta cheese – it really is more superior than domestic

Chicken

  • chicken breast – marinaded in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dry oregano, salt and pepper. Then grill to perfection.

Step 1: gather all your ingredients. Chop into a chunky salad.

I like to keep everything separate until just before serving then I add the dressing and toss. This way everything stays crispy and fresh. If you want to leave this for a hour you can wet a paper towel and just place over all your chopped vegetables and put the bowl in the fridge.

Step 2: in a small jar with a lid add all ingredients for the dressing and shake until you are ready to pour over salad. Any leftover dressing can go in the fridge or you can also drizzle some over your salmon or chicken. I use a mild/medium intense olive oil like this Temecula Olive View Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Mix dressing into salad. I use a bit and then only add more if you need it. Top with feta crumbles and olives.

Serve with warm chicken or salmon.

Chicken Bahn Meatballs

This is my simple version of a Vietnamese favorite street food. My Bahn Mi (Meatball) sandwich is made with ground chicken and served on a soft roll. Make lots they will want seconds!

You will need:

  • 1 lb ground chicken – dark and white is best
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped white part of lemongrass
  • 3-4 cloves garlic – chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
  • 1 small fresh chili – chopped finely (use 3/4 in the meatballs and 1/4 in carrot topping)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • enough good extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of pan while cooking the meatballs (you could use peanut or another oil but. I love olive oil so I use it for everything!)
  • a bit of ginger ale to deglaze the pan
  • 2-3 small carrots -sliced into fine matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1.4 of the chopped chilies
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 mini English cucumber – sliced into matchsticks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh buns
  • more cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • sweet Thai chili sauce

Start with a good quality ground chicken. I like a blend of dark and white meat for a more tender meatball.

Step 1: in a large bowl combine chicken, lemongrass, chopped garlic, cilantro, chili, brown sugar, salt, fish sauce, sesame oil and breadcrumbs.

mix to combine

Step 2: form into balls and you can store in fridge for a few hours or heat oil and prepare right away.

I used a Planeta Olive oil from Sicily to cook on medium heat until browned and cooked through.

At the last minute I pour over a good glug of ginger ale to add a bit of sweetness and also to deglaze the pan.

Step 3: While the meatballs cook I prepare the vegetable/quick pickle

Chop carrots into think matchsticks

Chop chili, cilantro and cucumber. Add rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve a few meatballs on a soft roll top with a squeeze of lime,  the vegetables, more cilantro and some Sweet Thai Chili sauce if you like or even a bit of sliced mango!!

Honey, Mustard and Zahtar Grilled Chicken

This is a very quick honey, mustard grilled chicken. Perfect over a salad or as a COB (chicken on a bun!) If you have never tried Zahtar it is a fantastic seasoning mix of thyme, sesame seeds, dried sumac and salt. It is wonderful on chicken, fish or even just added to olive oil to dip bread.

You will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp zahtar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic -finely minced
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves – sliced finely
  • salt and pepper

Step 1: mix all ingredients and pour over chicken breasts. You can let this marinate for an hour or so if you like or grill right away.

Step 2: rub over breasts.

sprinkle over the basil

grill

chop

 Eat it!

Debra’s Fantastic Chicken Burgers

My dear friend Debra told me about her burgers that are a huge hit with the boys in her house and I had to try them. Debra is a fantastic cook and uses great ingredients which she lovingly prepares for the people she loves. She is a damn fine gardener too (my kind of gal!). Debra grinds her organic chicken but, of course you can use a good quality store bought ground chicken. She uses mostly thighs and a bit of white meat. These are truly fantastic and your family will absolutely want you to make them again and again. If you partially freeze the burgers before grilling it helps to keep their shape until the cooking firms them up for easy flipping.

 

You will need:

 

  • 1lb ground chicken thighs or ground dark meat –  if grinding chop thighs into 4 – partially frozen
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast or 1 cup ground breast if grinding cut into small cubes – partially frozen for easy grinding
  • 1/2 small red onion minced – I used white because I didnt have a red
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper – finely minced
  • 1/8 -1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (depending on how wet your chicken is)
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
  • 1 tbsp dry rub seasoning of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

 

Step 1: start with great quality ground or whole chicken pieces. Gather and chop chicken, onion, garlic jalapeno.

 

 

Step 2: grind chicken. I also ran the jalapeno and bread through the machine to clean it. If you want the jalapeno in larger chunks then just add it chopped. I added 1 slice of bread to machine but you can just sprinkle breadcrumbs in the mix. Add all other ingredients to bowl and mix.

 

Step 3: form into patties and place on oiled parchment paper (brush a bit of oil on paper and tops- look at the beautiful coloured olive oil!)

Freeze 20 minutes.

Step 4: grill over medium-high direct heat and brush with additional sauce to finish. Be careful not to flip too soon as they are delicate until they set and firm up.

Serve on a fresh squishy bun or not! and top with your favorite things.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

Chicken Rice Noodle Salad

This is a satisfying salad perfect for a summer dinner and it’s gluten-free. You can cook or grill a bit of chicken or shrimp, rehydrate some rice stick noodles and chop some fresh crunchy veggies. Dinner is served and packed full of flavour with just a hint of heat.

You will need:

 * for 2 servings

  • 1 chicken breast chopped into small pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic – sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (I keep frozen and grate it frozen)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 – 1 whole fresh hot chili – sliced into thin rings (I also keep frozen and slice frozen)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lime – squeezed
  • 1 tsp miso paste (mine is the light variety – Shiro)
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • half a package of rice stick noodles (my pkg is 225 grams which is perfect for 4 people)
  • 4 leaves of napa cabbage – sliced into thin strips
  • 4-5 mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 carrot – sliced into strips with a peeler or into sticks
  • a handful of baby spinach
  • 4-5 baby English/Persian cucumbers – sliced into sticks
  • a handful of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves
  • a handful of salted peanuts or mixed nuts chopped

Step 1: chop chicken breast into small pieces. Chop and add garlic, chilies and fresh ginger. Add sesame oil, salt and pepper. Mix, cover and let marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Step 2: in a small jar add ingredients for dressing: fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, miso paste, garlic, honey, soy. Shake and set aside.

Step 3: chop, slice and shave all your veggies.

Step 4: quickly saute your chicken for a few minutes until cooked. Rehydrate your noodles in boiling water according to your package instructions.

Toss it all together and serve topped with peanuts and cilantro.