Posts tagged summer

chicken & orzo salad with lemon herb vinaigrette

a week or so ago, in response to my salad a day post, my friend leeza sent me a recipe for a lemon herb vinaigrette she had just tried. it sounded delicious and i knew i wanted to come up with a summery dinner salad to go with it. my wheels started turning and i had visions of going to the grocery store, picking out some great ingredients on my off day and whipping up something great.

…then i had car troubles, my car was stuck at the shop for the day and i was stranded at home. (more on that when i tell you about my weekend in newport!) good things about being stranded at home: it gave me motivation for a practice 5K before saturday and time to wrap up a couple of freelance projects. bad news: no way to get to the market!

instead, i rummaged through the cabinets and fridge and decided to use whatever we had on hand. the moral of this story is:this summery salad is totally customizable. it can be served hot or cold and can use what you’ve got! use my recipe as a guideline, but get creative :) in short, find a grain/pasta, a protein and some veggies. then follow the steps below and you’ll have a delicious meal.

in my case, we had orzo (i could have also used quinoa), a whole roast chicken (ready to make chicken salad with - but i had other plans), spinach (always on hand for my smoothies) and some red bell pepper for color. looking back, this is sort of the summer version of my one-pot lemony chicken and orzo. (full disclosure: i liked this one better, though!)

ingredients (for lemon herb vinaigrette)

2 T white wine vinegar

4 T extra virgin olive oil

juice of half a lemon (appx. 1 T lemon juice)

2 T water

1 t dijon mustard (optional)

1 t garlic powder

1 t dried basil

1 t dried parsley

generous pinch kosher salt

ingredients (for salad)

1/2 cup orzo

appx. 2 cups diced chicken (we used about 2/3 the meat from this small roasted chicken - you could also use about 2-3 chicken breasts)

3 c. raw baby spinach

1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely diced

lemon vinaigrette (recipe above)

done with your collecting? let’s move onto the doing. if you set yourself up properly, this will involve very few pots & pans and will make your cleanup a breeze!

there’s the start of the show - the lemon herb vinaigrette! i made this in a good seasons bottle (great suggestion, leeza!) so after i poured everything in the bottle, i could easily shake it up before serving. if you don’t have an empty dressing bottle, you could always prep it in a small bowl and whisk the ingredients together.

either way, combine all the ingredients (vinegar, oil, water, lemon juice, optional mustard, salt and herbs) and shake ‘em up. set it aside while you prepare the rest of your salad.

alrighty, here’s where a little coordination will go a long way:

1. get your water boiling for your orzo while you dice your chicken.

2. put your spinach and bell peppers in the collander/strainer you’ll be draining your orzo in and set aside.

3. pour the orzo into the boiling water and cook as instructed on the box.

4. finish prepping your chicken while the orzo cooks and pour the cubes into a large mixing bowl (note: picture above is NOT a large mixing bowl, but i’m trying to help you people save on dishes. learn from my mistakes!) set it aside.

5. when your orzo is done cooking, pour the boiling water over the veggies in the strainer to gently wilt them. pour the spinach, peppers and orzo back into the pot, put a cover on it and let it sit for a few minutes to wilt everything a bit more.

pour the veggies and orzo on top of the chicken and mix everything together. grab your dressing from the fridge and pour it on top of everything. mix everything until it’s evenly and lightly coated. then grab a spoon, serve it up and dig in!

thanks again for the inspiration, leeza!

click here for a printable version of the recipe (and while you’re at it, check out the revamped recipes page!)






greek yogurt chicken salad (stuffed in a tomato!)

it feels like summer outside, so i might as well start cooking accordingly, right? thought so. it was my night to make dinner and i wanted something fast, healthy and the perfect combination of light but filling. a girl can dream, right?

i had every intention of tearing through my magazines to find a recipe before i went to the fresh market for the first time the other day, but when nothing spoke to me from those pages, i figured i’d get inspired by the fresh ingredients at the grocery store, instead.

i ended up deciding to make a lightened-up chicken salad, stuffed in a gigantic tomato on top of a bed of greens. think of it as a hybrid between my waldorf salad and orzo stuffed peppers! looking back at my checklist, this was fairly quick to make (with a few errands between steps), was definitely healthy in that it was packed with protein, veggies and pretty low in fat. on top of that, i only had a couple of dishes to wash after, so that definitely adds to the quick factor!

note about the ingredients shot - i’m losing my mind! i stacked everything up for the traditional photo and then broke it down and started cooking without ever snapping the picture. der! this photo is a recreation post-chicken cooking. i guess i’m a little out of practice…


1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 lb)

1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons nonfat, plain greek yogurt

2 celery stalks

3 Tablespoons Craisins (optional)

generous pinches of: onion powder, garlic powder, dill and kosher salt

2 large tomatoes

first up, poach the chicken breasts by boiling them in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes or until they’re cooked all the way through. then, set them aside to cool for a bit. it’s up to you if you want to take this break to go to DSW and pick up two fantastic new pairs of shoes. don’t worry, they were extremely discounted and i had a gift card and coupon. (read: i got two pairs of shoes for the price of one individual shoe, pretty much!)

anywho, back to the kitchen…

while the chicken is cooling, finely dice your celery stalks and set them aside. i decided i had enough, so i polished off the final 1/3 of a stalk with a dab of peanut butter! delicious impromptu snack - totally underrated! why do i always forget how great this tastes?!


next, slice the very top off your tomatoes and hollow out the majority of the inside with a melon baller to create tomato cups. set that aside. (note: i didn’t waste all the tomato guts! which looked sort of like watermelon balls… anywho, i added them to my salad for lunch the next day. easy peasy, no waste!)

when the chicken is cooled, shred it with two forks and place in a medium bowl. this can be a little tedious, but it goes by quickly and you can get some aggression out while you prep your food!

to the medium bowl, add the celery, craisins, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, mayo and yogurt to the bowl. mix until everything is evenly distributed and it has reached your desired consistency.

spoon the chicken salad into the tomatoes, pop onto a bed of lettuce and serve!

click here for a printable version of the recipe!

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#chicken salad

#greek yogurt



salmon with cucumber citrus salad

well hello, there! it’s been a while, no? i really am sorry i’ve been so busy lately. i’ve resorted to eating cereal and bagel bites rather than working on real recipes to eat and share with you. hopefully now that my schedule has calmed down a bit, i’ll be back on track. i also think that spring-y weather makes me want to be outside enjoying the sun instead of inside my kitchen!

speaking of spring weather, though… that was my inspiration (along with a challenge on chopped) for this dish. i wanted something light, different, fun and tasty and simply-prepared salmon with a fresh cucumber citrus salad seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

in the meantime, what has been going on in my life? the 27th annual hockey east tournament, some ncaa northeast regional hockey, turning the big 2-5, catching up with one of the families i used to babysit for, hosting the atlantic-10 women’s basketball tournament, my basketball team making it to the ncaa tournament for the third straight year, the beginning of the softball season. it seems way less overwhelming when i capture it in a sentence like that…

2 salmon fillets

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons honey, divided

1 orange: zest, juice from 1/2, segments sliced

juice from 1/2 lime

1/2 lemon: zest, juice

large cucumber, peeled

[this recipe yields two portions]

whisk together the soy sauce, 1 teaspoon honey, ginger, garlic, juice from the orange, lime and lemon, along with orange and lemon zest. pour it over the salmon in an airtight container. seal, shake so it’s covered and set in the fridge for about 1/2 an hour.

while the salmon is marinating, peel and chop the cucumber and orange. place in a bowl with a sprinkle of ginger, squeeze of lemon juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon of honey. let that sit together for a while, too.

when the salmon has marinated, remove it from the fridge and put the fillets in a skillet. turn it to a medium-low heat, cover and let them cook for 12-15 minutes or until opaque and flaky throughout.

plate the salmon and pour the salad on top. dig in!

it was really refreshing and i have a feeling i’ll be recreating this dish LOTS this summer. my favorite bites were the ones with a little bit of salmon, cucumber AND orange on the fork. :)

click here for the printable version of the recipe!

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