Honey Mustard Chicken, Bacon + Avocado Salad

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I can’t believe I’ve reached the last few weeks of summer and posted only posted TWO recipes to this blog. Bad food blogger, bad!

Perhaps I should give myself a bit of lee-way; it’s been a busy and at times difficult summer. Between a stressful job, a house full of much-loved guests, and a spouse with multiple broken bones from a sports injury, there hasn’t been much time to sit down and breathe, let alone focus on blogging (or much of anything else). Only after quitting my job, bidding fond farewell to our wonderful guests, and putting my hubs on the road to recovery has life finally slowed down to an easier pace. Halle-freaking-lujah!

Of course, I’m one of those people that – despite wanting a break for months – has to fill their first waking moment of free time with activity. In this case, I was only 10 minutes into relaxing on the couch with some Investigation Discovery (it’saddictiveAF) before deciding to have a casual peek at my recipe collection. Casual peek quickly transformed into detailed research, which then morphed into a cooking and baking agenda for the next four months (and a shopping list as long as a novel). And so went my rest time; I was on my way to the market before the murder had even been solved. It was nice knowing you, R & R!

All credit for this beautiful salad recipe goes to Cafe Delites, one of my favorite blogs of all time. The garlicky honey mustard dressing is the BOMB.COM – I’m not a mustard fan by any means, yet I devoured this salad in under 5 minutes! It also makes an unbelievably delicious marinade for the chicken – my husband already requested that I make this again soon. It’s a definite keeper – enjoy!

 

HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN, BACON + AVOCADO SALAD

Yields: 4 servings

For the marinade/dressing:

  • ⅓ cup clear honey
  • 3 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp smooth + mild Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • Salt, to season
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the salad:

  • ¼ cup diced bacon, trimmed of rind and fat
  • 4 cups Romaine lettuce leaves, washed
  • 1 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
  • ¼ cup corn kernels

 

  1. Whisk marinade / dressing ingredients (through salt) together to combine. Pour half into a shallow dish, submerge chicken and marinade for  1 1/2 to 2 hours. Refrigerate the reserved marinade to use as a dressing.
  2. Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan (or grill pan or skillet) over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.  (Grill in batches to prevent excess water being released. Dispose of used marinade.)
  3. Wipe pan over with paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil and fry the bacon until crispy.
  4. Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with leaves, tomatoes, avocado slices, corn and chicken.
  5. Whisk 2 tablespoons of water into the remaining dressing and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the bacon over the top and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup FINAL.jpg

HAPPY NEW YEAR, lovely blog readers!!

We’re kicking off 2016 with chilly temps, gray skies and lots of rain showers here in southern Germany – as a native of the Pacific Northwest, this is just my kind of weather! For my cranky, sun-loving hubby, however, this is a less-than-desirable time of year. And like any good (read: wise and patient) wife confronted with her husband’s grumbling, I nod sympathetically, murmur words of understanding and encouragement, and placate. With soup.

When he requested this Broccoli Cheddar Soup last week, it took me all of 30 minutes to get dressed, throw on some makeup, and drive to the local grocery store for ingredients. Not only because I’ll do anything to turn his frown upside down, but because this soup is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Like better than Panera-style amazing (see Averie Cooks for the original recipe). It’s creamy, rich, and cheesy cheesy CHEESY. The secret to this soup is in fact super high quality, extra sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese. While pre-shredded, bagged cheese has its place in the world, that place is not in this soup; the better the cheese, the better the flavor!

 

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 tbsp + 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, minced
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half (regular or fat-free)
  • 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional), and to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder (optional), and to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional), and to taste
  • 8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese, plus extra to serve

 

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add minced onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and turning lightly golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven or soup pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes (until flour is fully incorporated and thickened), whisking constantly.
  4. Slowly add the vegetable stock and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms (this is normal).
  5. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside. Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. Stir to combine.
  6. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  7. After simmering for 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute. Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately.

[Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.]

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

 

Every once in a blue moon, my baking takes a decidedly healthy turn – and boy oh boy, am I glad it did today! These baked zucchini “fries” are so crispy and flavorful, I would gladly eat them in place of the potato variety (and that’s really saying something, considering my deep love of all things potato!). They’re a great vegetable option for finicky kids, picky spouses, or those looking to shed fat and calories without sacrificing great taste. I ate every bit of cheesy breading that ended up on the aluminum foil after baking, and I bet you will too – enjoy!

TIP: The key to crisp “fries” in this recipe – and in others using vegetables with high water content, such as squash, eggplant, or cucumbers – is disgorging (or degorging). This involves sprinkling the sliced surface of the zucchini with salt, waiting approximately 15-20 minutes, then rinsing and patting dry. The salt causes the excess water inside the zucchini to expel through osmosis, thus preventing sogginess in the final product. Don’t forget the rinse and pat dry, however, to avoid needlessly salty “fries”!

 

BAKED PARMESAN ZUCCHINI FRIES

Yields | 4 servings

Inspiration | Food.com

 

  • 4 small fresh zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten

 

  1. To disgorge zucchini, sprinkle sliced surface liberally with salt. Wait 15 minutes, then rinse with water and pat dry. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius).
  3. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  4. Dip zucchini strips into egg, then into crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Serve with ranch or honey mustard dressing.

 

 

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Asparagus with Balsamic Tomatoes

Well, it finally happened. My co-workers banded together and placed a moratorium on my baked goods for at least 2 weeks. Bollocks! I have so many delicious recipes I was hoping to try this month, but suppose it wouldn’t hurt to make something healthy for a change.

This shouldn’t be too hard … right? Right?!

Luckily, my local farmer’s market was brimming with seasonal fruits and veggies this week, and it was easy to be inspired. I’ve always loved asparagus but have never been particularly imaginative when preparing it. When I spotted this recipe on myrecipes.com, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to try it. Ohemgee! I scarfed down the entire recipe – which apparently makes 4 servings?! – in one sitting. It’s sooo flavorful – especially if you double the garlic like I did. Seriously, double the whole freaking recipe. On second thought, triple it. It’s that good!

 

ASPARAGUS WITH BALSAMIC TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE

Yields: 4 servings

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes. Stir in salt. Arrange asparagus on a platter; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper.