Chicken Lettuce Wraps

IMG_4554Have you ever had a PF Chang Lettuce Wrap? I haven’t had one in a very long time, but am still in awe  of how perfect their lettuce cups are?  How do they get the lettuce like that? No matter how delicate I am with the lettuce, my lettuce cups do not look like theirs. I usually manage to get two or three perfect cups from one head of lettuce. The rest of them aren’t horrible, but definitely have their flaws. I’m convinced PF Changs has a modified lettuce plant that grows single lettuce cups. It’s the only explanation I can come up with.  My lettuce wraps may not be as pretty as the PF Chang version, but they taste very good, and that’s really what matters.

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Burrata + Beet + Blood Orange Salad

IMG_3763Have you ever had Burrata cheese? If your answer is no, stop what you are doing and immediately go buy some. Burrata is the God of all cheeses. It looks like a ball of Mozzarella cheese, but when cut into it reveals itself as a distant (and way cooler) relaitive . It oozes out a rich, buttery and creamy filling. Buratta tastes amazing on it’s own, which is why it is important to keep the recipe simple when it involves this gem of a cheese. Today I tossed it with some arugula, roasted beets, blood orange and finished it off with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The spiciness of the arugula, sweetness of roasted beets, tartness of blood orange and overall amazingness of the burrata came together to create magic. Serious deliciousness.

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Salmon Tacos + Avocado Corn Slaw

IMG_4199Winter is officially behind us in Austin, Texas. Which means goodbye chilly days and comforting foods and hello hot sun and refreshingly light dinners. For a quick minute I thought I would miss the ease of throwing a bunch of ingredients  into a pot and making a soup to warm the soul on a cold day.  That was until I made these salmon tacos with corn and avocado slaw. This recipe gave me the little nudge I needed to be 100%  excited about the departure of winter and arrival of spring foods. These tacos hit the spot on warm evening. Of course, anything with avocado hits the spot for me.

This recipe makes more slaw then needed for the tacos. I did that on purpose because the slaw is DE-licious. You can eat it as is or top a salad with it. Having a dinner party? Corn and Avocado Slaw also works great as a dip! Endless possibilities.

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Kale + Pesto + Pasta {gluten free}

IMG_3960Last week I was in the happiest place on earth with the happiest little boys on earth. My mom, sister, brother-in-law, two nephews and I hit up Disneyland for 3 days. Being 8 months preggo and walking around Disneyland may sound like a nightmare, but it was quite the opposite. Maybe it was the ridiculous large Minnie mouse ears I wore the entire time, the people watching, or the sheer joy in my nephew’s faces that were a distraction from all the walking. Whatever it was, we had the absolute best time.  I will add that I strongly believe three days is the max any sane person can do Disneyland. At the end of day three we were all ready to lounge by a pool for a few days and give our feet a rest. Thankfully that was the plan and after snapping some photos with Mickey Mouse on our last day we loaded up the car and headed to Palm Springs for some R & R.

I am at my happiest when I am with my nephews. At their young age they have the ability to make me laugh harder and smile bigger than any adult. Quite the accomplishment for a 2 and 4 year old. I made my Kale Pesto Pasta with them in mind. They are pasta boys. Ask them what they want for dinner and there is a good chance they will say “pasta” with absolute zero hesitation. I was planning on making this for them while we were in Palm Springs, but most of the days we stayed in the pool until we were called up for dinner. Let’s be honest…diving for sticks and practicing “shark bobs” (going under water) is way more exciting than cooking dinner 🙂

Quinoa pasta is my gluten free pasta of choice. It has the best texture and taste. Use your favorite pasta in place of quinoa pasta for this recipe. Or forgo the pasta all together.

I love using Kale in my pesto for an extra nutrient boost. If you have spinach on hand you may sub it for the Kale. To make a vegan version, just swap the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast. This recipe is super versatile and can be used on fish, chicken, veggies, pizza, sandwiches…pretty much anything. The recipe makes 2/3 cup, which depending on how pesto-e you like your pasta, may be more than you need. I freeze the extra or use it throughout the week.

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Herb Stuffed Chicken Breast

IMG_3804When we found out we were expecting a little one, Taber and I decided it was time to bid farewell to downtown living and move into a house with a yard.  This was a bittersweet decision. On one hand I was super excited to be able to let Lily out in the morning without having to change out of my raggedy sweat pants that should have gone to goodwill many years ago (not proper elevator attire). On the other hand, I was sad to leave the downtown life of being able to walk to restaurants and the dog park. Luckily we found a house five minutes from downtown, so we didn’t have to move too far away. It isn’t within walking distance to our second home usual dog park, but we can live with a short drive.  I immediately fell in love with this house. The large kitchen and closet both spoke to my heart, but what hooked me was the flourishing herb garden in the back yard. Once I saw that I was ready to sign the lease in permenant marker. It was meant to be. Since moving in I have been itching to use the herbs. Today was the day it happened.  And I have a feeling I am going to be using them nightly.

I made a herb stuffed chicken breast using fresh oregano from the garden, spinach, prosciutto, garlic and a white cheddar cheese. Putting melted cheese on anything pretty much guarantees it will be delicious, so I didn’t have too many worries about this recipe not turning out. “Stuffed Chicken” sounds like it would be difficult to put together, but it was quite simple. For that reason, it is the perfect dish to make while entertaining. Your guests will think you slaved over the stove all day when really you had enough time to prepare dinner, get a massage, pedicure and manicure.

To keep some moisture in the chicken, I suggest covering it with foil when baking it. That way the heat won’t dry out the chicken breast.

I used an organic raw milk white cheddar cheese to stuff the chicken. It paired well with the salty prosciutto and herbs. Any cheese would work well in this recipe.

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Lemon + Basil + Pasta

IMG_3736Today is a big day. Possibly one of the most exciting Sundays of the entire year. When I tell you why it’s a big day you may judge me a little, but I am ok with that. Today marks the day  The Bachelor wedding is on TV. It’s a big day not only because The Bachelor is one of my favorite shows, but also because Catherine and Sean are one of the few bachelor couples that’s actually made it down the aisle. Most of the couples break-up when reality sets in and their dates consist of dinner and a movie rather than fantasy suites on private islands.   See what I mean, big day. By the way, I am fully aware I’m one of the few who still watches the Bachelor. In college my friends and I would gather every Monday night to watch the trainwrecks women compete for those valuable red roses. As time went on my friends slowly started to drop out of the viewing party until I was left with just myself. I can’t tear myself away from the show. It is one of my guilty pleasures and I am sticking to it.

In celebration of the big show tonight I had Taber choose what we had for dinner. Staying true to his pasta loving self, he chose one of his favorite dishes, Lemon Basil Pasta. I usually serve this pasta in the summer, but since today felt like summer here in Austin, I went ahead and made it. I am glad I did and so is he.

Disclaimer- Taber does not share my love of The Bachelor, so he isn’t looking forward to the show tonight, but he is happy he gets a good meal out of it.

In the recipe I posted 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice for the creamy pasta sauce. I originally used four tablespoons which Taber thought was a bit on the strong side. I would suggest starting with three and adding more if you prefer. Personally, I like a stronger lemony taste. Adding some prosciutto would taste great in this pasta. Cook the prosciutto with a bit of olive oil and garlic in a small sauté pan and add it to the pasta after adding the lemon sauce.

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Veggie Spring Rolls + Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

IMG_3728Now that the Seattle Seahawks are officially in the Super Bowl (we all saw it coming), it’s time to start menu planning for the big party.  First on my list- Veggie Spring Rolls. They are the perfect balance to the typical heavy game day appetizers. Light enough to keep you out of a food coma yet fulfilling enough to keep you satisfied.

Speaking of the Seahawks…unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past week there is a very good chance you have heard about Richard Sherman’s interview declaring he is the best corner back in the NFL. Well if you haven’t, let me fill you in. He proclaimed his amazingness in an interview with Erin Andrews seconds  after he tipped the ball out of a 49er’s hand to secure the win for the Seahawks. His adrenaline was still pumping and he may have let his mouth run a bit too much. At the time I thought he should have kept his confidence on the hush hush, but after making these veggie spring rolls I can relate to him.   Had Erin Andrews been in my kitchen the moment I finished folding my 12th spring roll I would have proclaimed (with certainty) that they are the best appetizer of all football appetizers. Just like Sherman I wouldn’t have been able to control my words or my confidence. Unlike Sherman, my declaration that veggie rolls are the best super bowl appetizer would not have made it on national news or in every single facebook post.

On a side note- This may be the only time in my life I will be able to relate to a NFL football player. Actually check back in a few months when I am 9 months pregnant. There is a slight chance I will feel as big as a line backer.

 

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Sesame Seared Ahi Salad

IMG_3294This recipe is a bit of a tease for me. I love love love seared ahi tuna but for the next 5 months it is off limits (one of the many perks of being pregnant…major sarcasm). Making this salad without taking a bite of the ahi was torture, but I managed to do it. Lucky for Taber he got double the amount of ahi while I enjoy the salad vegetarian style.

This salad is crisp and refreshing, which is a nice break from holiday comfort food. I tossed the cabbage, carrot, pepper and tomato mixture with a sesame dressing and then topped it with seared tuna. It is substantial enough for a main course salad.

With that I will leave you the recipe. The more I write about it the more I want seared ahi. So this post is done.

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Shredded Brussels Sprouts + Caramelized Onions + Sausage Sauté

IMG_3265Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad seems to be this years food version of twerking  (super trendy). It is all over the place. In magazines, on cooking shows and on seasonal restaurant menus.  I’m 100% ok with this, it is a tasty salad packed full of health supportive ingredients.  Hopefully it won’t fall off the trend wagon anytime soon. On the flip side, I hope twerking falls off the trend wagon very soon, like yesterday.

Today I set out to make my own version of Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad. I had my ingredients and I had a plan. Then my plan didn’t go as planned. What started out as a salad ended up as a sauté. Minus the Kale. I caramelized the onions and added the shaved brussels sprouts. My next plan of action was to toss it with kale, organic sausage, almonds and a dijon vinaigrette. I didn’t make it that far.  The caramelized onions and brussels sprouts looked delicious on their own. They were begging not to be made into a salad.  I complied and tossed the warm brussel sprouts and caramelized onions with a dijon vinegrette, almonds and organic sausage. The kale was left untouched on my cutting board.  My unplanned plan ended up being perfect. This recipe was warming and flavorful.

Now what to do with the bunch of Kale I have sitting in my fridge. I am thinking Cheesy Kale Chips… Stay tuned.

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Roasted Tomato Soup

IMG_3230My kitchen has looked like a bomb zone the past few weeks. Every night I clean it only to get it messy  the following day. I can’t stop recipe testing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Through all my recipe testing I have learned that it’s vital to have a few prepared meals in the fridge I can slurp down between measuring, whipping, roasting and baking. My favorite go-to has been my Roasted Tomato Soup. It is simple and classic. I make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy it throughout the week.

Roasting the tomatoes with garlic and carrots is the secret to this soup.  The roasting takes a bit of extra time, but it is worth it. The depth of flavor is taken to the next level. This soup definitely falls into the comfort food zone. It is not only perfect for a quick meal while recipe testing, but also on a cold Fall day.

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