Category Archives: Salad

Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad

Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 50 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta
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This spring I built two raised garden beds and tried my hand at a garden of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It took off like crazy, especially the squash and cucumbers. I continue to learn about the benefits and purposes of pruning. So I have a few basil plants that are massive but I learned they are too leggy and I failed to prune properly. Nothing has flowered, so I caught before it changed flavors. The good news is that I have a boat load of beautiful green basil.

So I am going to make a pesto and incorporate some chicken and pasta for dinner. Jill loves pesto pasta so this should be right down her alley. My grocery stores pine nuts weren’t too attractive so I am going with walnuts instead.


Ingredients:

Basil Pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 breasts of free range chicken (seasoned, grilled and diced)
1.5 cups of cooked al dente penne pasta
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs of Butter
1 tbs of AP Flour
1/4 cup of cream
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Directions:
1. Make your pesto by first toasting your walnuts on the stove for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. et them cool and then add all the Pesto ingredients and blend until smooth. Use Olive Oil and lemon juice to give it the thickness you like.
2. Season your chicken and grill outside of in a pan with olive oil and cook until 160-165k. Remove and when cooled a bit dice it up.
3. Cook pasta per directions but remove about 1 minute before the pasta is al dente. Grain and set aside.
4. Lastly make a basic roux by adding butter and flour, and stir for 2 minutes on medium-low heat until golden brown.
5. Slowly add the cream until smooth. Now add your chicken, pasta and sliced tomatoes.
Slowly add the pesto while stirring. When you get it flavored to your taste add some more parmesan cheese and serve.

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Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Walnut Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

IMG_1132
This spring I built two raised garden beds and tried my hand at a garden of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It took off like crazy, especially the squash and cucumbers. I continue to learn about the benefits and purposes of pruning. So I have a few basil plants that are massive but I learned they are too leggy and I failed to prune properly. Nothing has flowered, so I caught before it changed flavors. The good news is that I have a boat load of beautiful green basil.

So I am going to make a pesto and incorporate some chicken and pasta for dinner. Jill loves pesto pasta so this should be right down her alley. My grocery stores pine nuts weren’t too attractive so I am going with walnuts instead.


Ingredients:

Basil Pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 breasts of free range chicken (seasoned, grilled and diced)
1.5 cups of cooked al dente penne pasta
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs of Butter
1 tbs of AP Flour
1/4 cup of cream
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Directions:
1. Make your pesto by first toasting your walnuts on the stove for a few minutes. Don’t let them burn. et them cool and then add all the Pesto ingredients and blend until smooth. Use Olive Oil and lemon juice to give it the thickness you like.
2. Season your chicken and grill outside of in a pan with olive oil and cook until 160-165k. Remove and when cooled a bit dice it up.
3. Cook pasta per directions but remove about 1 minute before when the pasta is al dente. Grain and set aside.
4. Lastly, make a basic roux by adding butter and flour and stir for 2 minutes on medium-low heat until golden brown.
5. Slowly add the cream until smooth. Now add your chicken, pasta, and sliced tomatoes.
Slowly add the pesto while stirring. When you get it flavored to your taste add some more parmesan cheese and serve.

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Thai Noodle and Beef Salad

Thai Noodle and Beef Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Thai Noodle and Beef Salad
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We often frequent our local Houston’s on Sunday evenings and enjoy sitting at the bar enjoying a drink and dinner. They have this Thai Noodle Salad that is really good. It has a lot of veggies with a pop of mango. What really pushes this salad over the top is the beef. It’s high quality, super lean and tender. The other night she encouraged me to try her beef and it was so good that it encouraged me to try to make it on my own. I poked around looking for Thai Noodle Salads and found one I like that served as my base and then made adjustments.

It turned out really delicious. The zing from the dressing along with the sweet mango and savory meat makes for a really harmonious meal. I used udon noodles so this would satisfy as gluten free as long as your soy sauce is also GF. If you are looking to try something fresh, colorful, healthy and delicious give it a try.

adapted from Savorybites
Ingredients:

Ingredients:

Dressing
3 tbs fresh lime juice
3 tbs of soy sauce
3 tbs Sriracha
1 tbs fish sauce
Dash of sesame oil
1 tbs of grapeseed oil
1 large clove minced garlic
1 tbs light brown sugar

Marinade for the Beef
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs Sriracha
Dash of sesame oil
1 tbs of grapeseed oil
1 large clove minced garlic
3 tbs of minced ginger
1 tbs light brown sugar

Salad Ingredients:
10 oz of beef filet Mignon
Udon egg noodles for two (30%-40% of package)
1 large handful of spinach
Handful of sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of finely diced red onion
1 large handful shredded red cabbage
1 large handful of cilantro
1 small julienned carrot
1 diced mango
A handful of pistachos

Directions:
1. Mix your dressing and marinade ingredients separately. Dice your beef into large bite sized pieces and add your marinade to a zip lock baggy and let it rest for 6-12hours. Place your dressing in the refrigerator.

2. Cut all you salad ingredients accordingly and set them aside. (don’t dress it yet)

3. Cook your noodles according to the package. These cook quickly (4mins) and you don’t want soggy noodles. Pull them immediately and rinse with cold water until the noodles are cool. Set them aside.

4. Lastly the steak. In a Medium-Medium High heated cast iron skillet you want to take your beef from the marinade and shake it and remove any of the ginger and garlic. This is a nice piece of meat so don’t over cook it. The goal is to sear it for a nice crust. I had to remove some of the liquid once in the process because if the pan is wet it wont get that sear you will want.

5. Assembly. So now you have your cooked noodles, cut veggies and seared steak. In a large bowl slowly spoon your dressing into the veggie mix. Stir or toss your dressed veggies and then add your noodles. Stir/Toss until coated. Taste and add dressing until you get it right(not over dressed or soggy). Plate your dressed veggies/mango and noodles. Place the steak on top of the salad and garnish with pistachios or peanuts.
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Wedge Salad Bites

Wedge Salad Bites

  • Servings: 20
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Wedge Salad Bites
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This is a super easy and fun one-bite appetizer. We had several parties over the holiday’s and they were slanted towards men so I had a lot of heavy, cheesy, meaty dishes. Dude food. So I needed something that wasn’t so heavy so I came up with a little deconstructed salad bite on a stick.

My intention was for each bite to have lettuce, tomato, bacon topped with blue cheese and carrots. I roasted my bacon and it was too crispy to put on the stick so I crumbled it and used it as a topper along with the carrots.

Ingredients:
Iceberg Lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
Bacon
Carrot shreds
Blue Cheese Dressing
Blue Cheese crumbles

Directions:
1. Roast or cook your bacon. Cut your lettuce into little wedges big enough for one bite. Assemble, dress and serve

Salmon Pasta Presto

Salmon Pasta Presto

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Salmon Pasta Presto
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Jill had something the other night so I was a latch key husband for a night. When this happens I go grab Thai or Indian or seem to make some sort of salmon since it isn’t her favorite. So I grabbed a nice filet at the grocery and brought it home. There is a pasta dish I make sometimes that has pasta, Parmesan, peas and asparagus. It’s a nice little dish that is balanced between sweet green peas and the savory/pungent asparagus. It’s not too filling but satisfying.

I always keep frozen peas on hand and had some asparagus on deck with a few bags of near empty pasta. It’s not pretty, it’s not elegant nor fancy but this recipe makes a nice lighter dish with some good veggies and let’s salmon shine.

Ingredients:
Fresh Salmon
Frozen Peas
5-6 stalks of Asparagus
Grated Parmesean
Pasta of your choice
Kosher Salt and Pepper (I like a lot )
Milk cream or pasta water to loosen it up

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly season and oil your salmon and cook it until tender. About 15 minutes.
2. While the salmon is in the oven. Make your pasta and set aside some pasta water. Put the pasta back into the pot and lower the heat to it’s lowest level or turn it off. Stir in your vegetables and Parmesan cheese Taste and season.
3. Spoon the pasta into a bowl and break up the salmon and put it on top. It’s that easy.
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Sombrero Salad with Grilled Chicken

Sombrero Salad with Grilled Chicken

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sombrero Salad with Grilled Chicken
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I was leafing through one of my Rachael Ray’s magazines and spotted an interesting salad that had roasted corn, grilled chicken and avocado. Before I go any further, I must say regardless of what you think of Rachael Ray she puts out really simple but delicious recipes. I don’t watch her shows or anything but I do have her cookbooks and take her magazine. She cranks out so many recipes it’s insane to comprehend. I rarely disappointed in anything I try from her. She, Ina and Rhee really have a knack for churning out great recipes that turn out well.

So I saw this salad in her magazine but didn’t really want a lettuce intensive salad. Interesting tidbit, some guy released a report about salads and how they aren’t that great for you. He states that they are mostly water and when compared to other vegetables the nutrient ratio is super low. Meaning if you eat a big salad without a lot of other stuff in it you are eating low nutrition water. When you look at how spinach and other greens cook down so much it kind of makes sense. Most fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, heck proteins. But it’s interesting to consider water to nutritional value ratios.

I digress again. I took some chicken out in the morning and poured in some lime juice, cilantro stems, chili seasoning, oil and a little tequila and I let it marinate for a few hours. The acid from the lime tenderizes it. I picked up some poblanos, corn, avocados, shallots, cherry tomatoes, 1 can of organic pinto beans. That was the base of my salad. As for the dressing I simply took some sour cream and mixed in some adobo sauce and lime juice.

This ate kind of like a cold version of Chipotle bowl minus the rice. The roasted veggies and adobo sauce gave it a smokey element and the corn popped with sweetness and the beans and avocado added a creamy element. For crunch I did crumble 3-4 tortilla chips.

Ingredients:
2 Chicken Breasts (free range / air chilled)
1 avocado
3 ears of corn
2 Poblano Peppers
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 can of organic pinto or black beans
1 bunch of cilantro
1 small purple onion
2 limes
Shot of tequila
Chili seasoning
1/4 sour cream
1 adobo pepper with 1 tbs of sauce
a few tortilla chips
Goat cheese or Feta or Cojita Cheese

Directions:
1. Marinate your chicken breasts for three hours up to overnight in the juice of one lime, shot of tequila, about 1 tbs of chili seasoning and the stems of your cilantro.

2. Fire up a grill pan or your grill on medium high heat and put your shucked corn and poblano’s on the pan (no oil). Put a char on them and pull them off when nicely blackened. Set aside the corn and put the peppers in a bowl with plastic wrap to steam. After both cooled. Remove the skin of the peppers, seed them and dice them up. Cut the kernels from the cobs.

3. Rinse the beans, dice the tomatoes and red onions. In a bowl combine these with the corn and peppers you blackened. IMG_0546

4. Mix your sour cream, juice of half a lime, and adobo peppers and sauce. Stir it into your veggies to coat them well.

5. Back to the chicken. On that same pan, turn down the heat to medium and cook your chicken until done. When done, let it cool and then cut against the grain at a 45 degree angle

6. Plate it by crushing some chips in the bottom of a bowl. Spoon the veggie mixture into a mound and place your chicken and avocado on top. Sprinkle some cilantro and goat cheese to finish. You could spoon in some salsa but really the salad is kind of a chunky salad.
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Asian Chicken Noodle Kale Salad

Asian Chicken Noodle Kale

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Asian Chicken Noodle Kale Salad
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We were watching Ree, the Pioneer Woman, the other day and her show was about using foods that represented the colors of summer. We hear all the time that foods that are colorful have more health benefits. Of course Kale makes an appearance because it is “such the thing to eat these days”. Truth be told I love collard and mustard greens more than Kale. I find it tough and too chewy so I cut it finely and use it as a supporting character vs the lead of my dishes. Maybe it’s a bit mental too, because the Kale zealots can really be annoying and I tend to have allergies towards people who take a food too far.

I took Ree’s idea and recipe and used it as my foundation. I marinated two chicken breasts overnight in soy and rice wine vinegar. The next day I hammered the to a consistent thickness and grilled them outside until done. I let them rest and sliced thinly and included them on the side of my salad.

Red Cabbage, carrots and Kale have a lot of structure but I found that the “dressing” mellows the stark rawness The flavors were terrific with blends of soy, Sriracha, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce and hints of fish sauce and sesame oil. Really a nice healthy salad that can easily be converted to Paleo, Clean, Whole30 etc..

Ingredients:
2 free range chicken breasts
3 tbs of GF Soy
3 tbs of Rice Wine Vinegar

Salad
Pre-packaged Kale salad
1 small head of shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup of pre-shredded carrots
1 red pepper sliced thinly
Angel Hair Pasta for two (cooked and cooled)
handful of peanuts rough chopped
4 green onions (minced)
Handful of Cilantro (rough chopped)

Dressing
1/4 cup of Hoisin Sauce
1/3 cup of GF Soy Sauce
1/4 cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbs of Sriracha Sauce
1 tsp of Fish Sauce
2 tsp of Sesame Oil
1 tsp of Chili oil
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
2 tbs of Brown Sugar
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbs of ginger minced

Directions
1. Marinate your chicken at least 3 hours and up to overnight in soy and rice wine vinegar.

2. Get your grill fired up to about 350-400 degrees. Put your chicken on the grill and while it is cooking get to chopping your veggies and dressing. IMG_0369

3. Make your dressing by mincing your garlic and ginger and then add the rest. Whisk it violently until it is well combined. Put it in the fridge and chop your veggies.

4. Boil your angel hair pasta (or any noodle you prefer) to package directions. When done, strain them and run cool water over them to cool them off.

5. So now you have your chicken chopped, your veggies chopped and in a large bowl, your dressing ready, your noodles ready and your rough chopped peanuts. Pour half the dressing into the veggies and toss them until well coated. Slowly stir in your cooked noodles. Taste it and dress accordingly (you can always add more dressing but you can’t undress and overdressed salad) I put a little dressing on my grilled chopped chicken and served it on the side of my salad so that I could control my protein/veggie bites.
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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Potato Salad

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Potato Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Despite being from Texas and biased towards beef BBQ, I enjoy pulled pork with tangy sauce equally as much. I actually tend to eat it more often than beef. Given it’s just the two of us I used a cut of of tenderloin over the Pork Butt which has much more fat and flavor. After about 6 or 7 hours in the crock pot this beauty is falling apart at the slightest attempt to turn it or remove it.

So before sandwich assembly I took the pulled pork and flashed in a pan on medium heat to put a little crust on it and to further marinate it in my Woody’s Smokehouse BBQ sauce. I also added a smidgen of vinegar and mustard to it for extra tang. Lastly, I topped it with some cabbage based slaw and also made a tasty potato salad. Good eating.

Ingredients
Pork Butt or untrimmed tenderloin
buns with butter
1 cup of Apple Juice
1 cup of BBQ Sauce
4 tbs of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 beer
Chicken Broth to top

Spice Rub
1/4 cup of Kosher Salt
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tbs of sugar
2 tbs garlic powder
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs paprika
2 tbs ancho chili powder
1 tbs of celery seeds
1 tbs of black pepper
2 tsp of dried thyme
1 tsp of cayenne pepper

Slaw
1 cup of packaged cabbage slaw
2 green onions diced
1 tbs of white vinegar
1 tbs of sugar
1 tbs of Dukes Mayo
Pinch of celery seeds
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Potato Salad
3-6 Red Potatoes (quartered and par-boiled)
3 parts Duke’s Mayo and 1 part French’s Yellow Mustard
1 tbs of Sour Cream
4 green onions diced
1 tsp of celery seeds
2 tbs of minced pickled jalapenos
dash of Tabasco

Directions
1. Ideally you could put an hour of smoke on this pork but I took the lazy way out and used the crock pot. I rubbed my pork loin in the spice rub. That sounded odd. I then put it in the crock pot for 1 hour dry to bloom the the spices. Flipped halfway. I then added the wet ingredients and let it cook for 6 hours on high. IMG_0202

2. Potato Salad – I quartered my potatoes into equal sized pieces and put the into a salted pot of medium high heated water. I pulled them just before totally done because I knew they would continue to cook. I didn’t want them to soften up and turn into mashed potatoes. I let them cool and then added them into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Tasted and adjusted until satisfied and then put them back into the fridge to chill. IMG_0214

3. Put the cabbage slaw, minced jalapenos and green onions into a bowl and mixed in the wet ingredients with the sugar until I got the flavor profile. I wanted sweet but tangy to balance the meat which was savory but tangy.

4. To finish it off, I pulled the pork for two sandwiches and put it on the medium heated pan and topped it with some BBQ sauce, a punch of apple cider vinegar and mustard to bump up the tang. Served it on a butter toasted bun. This is important for structure but also I like that little crunch on the inside when eating it.
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