Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

While The Man was on a week long trip to Dallas, I only had to run the dishwasher once. A typical week around here sees no less than 6 dish cycles. Needless to say, I cook alot and we eat alot! But with him gone (and numerous friends or family inviting us for dinner) I barely touched the stove. However, I did take advantage of his absence to re-create a salad that uses 2 ingredients that he hates – sweet potatoes and pecans.

Sweet Potatoes and Onions

Thrive is a cool carry-out cafe. They tout their use of locally sourced, organic ingredients and are the only “green certified” restaurant in Savannah. I’m not sure what that means….but trendy claims aside, their food is very good. One of their side dishes is a roasted sweet potato salad. A great mix of savory and sweet that can be served cold or room temp. Makes for a healthy lunch, or an ideal side dish at dinner. Here is my knock off of their salad (which I think is a knock off of a Whole Foods salad….)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

  • 1 Lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and large diced
  • 1/4 C. red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 C. spinach
  • 1/4 C. raisins
  • 1/4 C. pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss together sweet potatoes, onion, Chinese 5 Spice and pepper. Mix until spices evenly coat. Pour onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Evenly spread vegetables, so they are in a single layer. Roast at 400F for 40 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and lightly browned.

Transfer roasted sweet potatoes and onions to a bowl. Add spinach, raisins and pecans. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey, oil, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Whisk until incorporated. Pour over sweet potato mixture. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until read to serve.

Can be served cold or room temperature.

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Avocado & Edamame Salad

I’ve been trying to broaden my vegetable side dish repertoire. It’s easy to get stuck in a habit of rotating variations of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. So to freshen things up, I found an awesome (and versatile)  avocado dressing to spoon over a medley of crisp chopped veggies. The result is this Avocado & Edamame Salad – full of vitamins, nutrients, protein, and flavor.

Avocado Salad with Grilled Chicken Kabob

A note about the dressing – it makes alot. Much more than you will need for the salad. And even though the source recipe says it can keep fresh in the fridge, I found that it was best the first day. It was still good a few days later, but I wouldn’t keep it for the full 10 days that they suggest. But considering how good this dressing is, it isn’t hard to find uses for it. It makes a great dip (for fresh veggies or tortilla chips), spoon it over grilled meat (like the chicken above), or just get out your spoon :)

Avocado Dressing

Avocado Dressing

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 sprigs cilantro
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • water (about 1/2 C.)

Combine avocado, garlic, vinegar, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Slowly add water until desired consistency is reached. Best if used immediately. Or cover and keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Recipe modified from Eat, Lift & Be Happy

Avocado & Edamame Salad

  • 1 C. edamame beans, steamed
  • 1/2 C. yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C. mango, diced
  • 1/4 C. red onion, diced
  • 1/2 Pt. cherry tomatoes
  • 2 T. cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 C. lettuce (bibb or romaine) cut into small bites
  • Avocado dressing

Combine all ingredients except dressing into a bowl. Add dressing 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix to coat. Continue adding dressing until all vegetables are evenly coated.

Whole Wheat & Seed Bread

I was in dire need of some good whole wheat bread yesterday – and the grocery store bakery just wasn’t delivering on all my cravings. I wanted rich and nutty aromas, a bread chock full of nutrients, and deliciously guilt-free. So to the kitchen I went, to concoct the bread my mouth was watering for.

Whole Wheat & Seed BreadYes, this is healthy bread that’s full of bird seed  flax and sesame seeds. But it’s also good bread. It can side a bowl of soup, goes great with butter and honey, or can be the ideal ends (and middle…) to a fantastic Club Sandwich. Something a little like this :club Sandwich

Whole Wheat & Seed Bread

  • 1 1/2 C. warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 C. rolled oats
  • 1/4 C. flax seeds
  • 1/4 C. sunflower seeds (roasted)
  • 1/4 C. sliced almonds
  • 2 – 3 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. olive oil

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, yeast and honey. Allow to proof for 5 minutes. Add in salt, oats, flax, sunflower seeds, and almonds. Mix on low with the dough hook for 1 minute. Add in 2 cups of flour and stir on low until combined (scrape down sides of the bowl as needed). If needed, add in more flour 1/4 cup at a time. Dough will be tacky, but should form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Pour in oil while mixer is running. With the mixer on medium-low, knead for 7 to 10 minutes.

Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough, lightly knead in the bowl for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough into an oiled loaf pan, and  allow to rise until dough crowns over pan by 1 inch (about 1 hour).

Bake bread at 375F for 30 – 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a rack before removing from pan.

Club Sandwich

Layer, from bottom to top :

  • Toasted bread
  • 1 slice cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices deli meat (rotisserie-style chicken)
  • Bibb lettuce
  • Tomato, thick sliced
  • Toasted bread with mayonnaise
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 egg, over easy
  • Toasted bread with whole grain mustard

Getting Saucy & Getting Fit

The Man and I recently started a new workout routine. “Workout routine” is kind of an understatement…more like The Man and I have chosen to get our asses handed to us every day for the next 60 days and we love it! And even though we walked into this with no real intentions of changing our diet, we have both been craving more protein and more fresh veggies. So for dinner last night it was Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and a heaping pile of Snow Pea Salad on the side. Full of flavor and color, everyone can get into this healthy meal – even if you aren’t working on your beachbody.

Chicken Satay with Snow Pea Salad

I found this recipe for Snow Pea Salad on Pinterest a few months back. The dressing is simple, and the ingredients are fresh and crisp. If you can’t find fresh snow peas, sugar snap peas would be a good substitute. And I couldn’t find fresh edamame beans (frozen just won’t work for this dish) so I skipped them. And the only yellow peppers I could find were the size of my head….so I went with orange. But that is kind of the beauty of this recipe – you can modify it endlessly. Thin sliced mushrooms, cilantro, diced avocado, baby corn…any and all would make awesome additions!

Chicken Satay Marinade

Anyone can put chicken on a stick and throw it over the hot coals….but to get this chicken extra tender and full of flavor, I suggest marinating it for a couple of hours before cooking time. I was happy to find thin sliced chicken breasts at my store (and on sale!) which I just had to cut into 2-ish inch strips. If you can’t find these, no worries. You can always slice your chicken in half lengthwise – just be sure to use a sharp knife and take your time to get two even halves. Marinate the chicken for about 6 hours before draining and threading onto the wooden skewers.

Grilled Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Since the chicken is thin, it won’t take long to grill. Towards the end of the cooking time, it’s time to get saucy. Brush a thin layer of the peanut sauce on one side, flip them over, and let the sauce cook on for a minute or so. Then do the same with the other side. Alternatively, you could serve the peanut sauce on the side and let people dip to their liking. I did both….because I can’t get enough peanut sauce!

Chicken Satay with Snow Pea Salad2

Did you make too much peanut sauce, and need a good idea on how to use it?? Try a Thai Chicken Pizza!

Satay Marinade

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, 1/2″ thick and 2″ wide
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. seasame oil
  • 1 T. Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1/2 C. water

Combine all ingredients in a large ziplock bag. Refrigerate for 6+ hours.

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 C. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C. chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger (powder or freshly grated)
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce

Heat up oil in a small sauce pan. Saute garlic for about 2 minutes. Add in peanut butter and remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer then remove from heat. You want the sauce to be slightly runny. Set aside until ready to use.

Grilled Chicken Satay

  • Marinated chicken, drained
  • Wooden skewers (one per chicken piece)
  • Peanut sauce

Run a wooden skewer through each piece of chicken. On a medium heat grill, cook chicken until cooked through (about 4 minutes per side). Brush peanut sauce on each side, cooking for another minute per side. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Grilled Vegetable Couscous

Spring has come and gone a dozen times in the last few months. It’s 75F and sunny one day, then 45F and raining the next. I am so ready for this hard-to-get Spring to make it’s appearance and stay! Maybe if I grill up some Spring veggies, and act like the cold doesn’t bother me, Springtime will quit playing games….

Grilled Vegetables

Couscous is a quick-cooking, small granule pasta. It is bland and boring a blank slate, that is ready and waiting for tons of flavor. Treat couscous like pasta (technically, it is pasta), and consider this dish a “pasta salad”.  My store had zucchini, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes on sale – so they were all a must. Then I picked up a purple onion and a red bell pepper to round out the flavors.

Grilled Vegetable couscous2

 Grilled Vegetable Couscous

  • 1 C. couscous
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/2 purple onion, cut into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 Pt. cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 C. parley, chopped
  • 2 T. sliced olives
  • 1 T. capers
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sliced Vegetables

Brush zucchini, squash, onion and bell pepper with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Make a boat out of tinfoil for cherry tomatoes. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put all vegetables onto a medium-heat grill. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables have softened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

Grilled Tomatoes

Put couscous in a large bowl. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Pour stock over couscous, then cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Stock & Couscous

Add chopped vegetables to couscous. Add in parsley, olives, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Mix in feta. Serve warm or room temperature.

Grilled Vegetable couscous

Grilled Vegetable Couscous pairs well with Beer Can Chicken. Also serve it with some warm pita bread and hummus.

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Cilantro & Garlic Tacos with Mango Salsa

When I met The Man, he claimed to not like Mexican food. But I love Mexican food! Ok, I thought, this is a small concession that I can live with. But a life without Mexican food means no fresh salsas, no garlic and cilantro marinated meats, no cheesy saucy baked tortilla dishes….no Margarita Thursdays!? Ok, this was a bigger problem than I first thought!

Chicken Taco

His former experience with Mexican cuisine involved greasy, bland concoctions that contained suspect meat products and void of all vegetables. Yea, I would hate that too. When I think Mexican, I think fresh, full of complex flavors, and tons of color. Well it turns out that he doesn’t hate Mexican food – he just hates bad Mexican food! Phew! We dodged a bullet there…

Garlic & Cilantro Garlic & Cilantro Marinade

Let’s start with the meat. Whether I’m making chicken or steak tacos, I like to start with the same marinade – a cilantro and lime vinaigrette with a hint of spice and lots of citrus. After a few hours in the acidic and flavor punching bath, meat has no choice but to be tender and juicy. A few minutes on a hot grill, and you’ve got a fab foundation for a great taco.

Shredded Chicken

The choice of taco toppings is endless – sliced avocado, salsa, shredded lettuce, cilantro, cheese, corn salsa, guacamole, chipotle sour cream, diced tomatoes, sauteed onions and peppers….in fact, if you’re hosting a casual party, a taco bar is a great buffet idea! Tonight I’m gonna go with fresh mango salsa and sliced avocado (and probably a little cheese and sour cream too…). If you can’t find good fresh mango, frozen works alright too. It’s not quite as good – but it’s better than no mango salsa.

Mangoes Mango Salsa

Cilantro & Garlic Tacos

  • 1 1/2 Lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 C. cilantro and garlic marinade
  • Flour tortillas
  • Mango salsa
  • Sliced avocado
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Sour cream

Marinate chicken breasts in marinade for at least 6 hours. Remove from marinade and grill on medium for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes, then shred with 2 forks.

Warm tortillas on the grill for about 1 minute per side. Alternately, heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds.

To assemble, place a scoopful of chicken on to warm taco shell. Top with mango salsa, 2 slices of avocado, a Tablespoon of cheese, and a small spoonful of sour cream.

Cilantro & Garlic Marinade

  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 jalapeno, halved
  • Lime zest and juice, from 1 lime
  • Handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 C. orange juice
  • 1/3 C. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until everything is smooth and combined. Marinate chicken for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Makes enough marinade for 6 chicken breasts.

Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/4 C. red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • Handful cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Pinch of salt, pepper, and cumin

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until needed.