Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chicken, mango and avocado salad

When the husband’s away, the wife will – eat salad.
I’m a soup and salad girl who married a meat and potatoes guy. When I’m preparing dinner for the two of us, I try to strike a balance. But when I’m making a meal for myself, I can indulge the lettuce-lover in me. Don’t worry – there will be chocolate for dessert.

Marinate 2 chicken breasts in 1/3 c lemon juice, 2 T olive oil and salt and pepper for at least one hour. If you are able to purchase marinated chicken from your grocery store, do that and save yourself the trouble.

Bake chicken at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. You can also pan cook the chicken for 7-10 minutes in a skillet over medium-high heat.

While chicken cools, divide salad mixture between two plates:

6 ounces mixed greens
½ c chopped mango
½ c avocado
¼ c thinly sliced red onion

Top salad with sliced chicken and serve with your favorite dressing.

It isn’t too often that I make salad dressing, but when I do, I typically use the same base:

3 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
2 T honey or 1 T agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste

I added ¼ t curry powder for this recipe, but ½ t Dijon mustard also works well.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sugar cookie

I’ve been cooking the last couple days, but nothing blog-worthy. So I decided to post an old favorite here.

I searched for a sugar cookie recipe online last summer, but it took me a few times to perfect the one I found. The original was not sweet enough and my initial revision was too sweet.

In honor of my sister (who tells me you can find the best recipes online by adding “best” followed by whatever you’re looking for), I've titled this: best sugar cookie recipe.
Preheat oven to 375.

Mix 1/2 c unsalted, room-temperature butter, 1/2 c granulated sugar, 1/4 c brown sugar and 1/2 c turbinado or coarse sugar.

Add 2 t vanilla extract and one egg and beat for two minutes.

Add 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour, 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t baking soda.

Scoop dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in additional granulated sugar. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven when the tops are cracking (the tops will not brown).

Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.

Cut calories with paint color

Ok, maybe not (although I'm sure painting burns a lot of calories). But did you know restaurants are painted red because it's proven to increase your appetite? My white walls seem to be doing a whole lot of nothing. I made so many decisions in the last year (cabinets, countertops, lighting and more) that I thought we could take a break and just live here awhile before making any changes.

Times up. I have begun thinking about painting and colors, but have been reluctant to make a commitment. It’s not that I’m afraid of color (although as I write this I realize I’m wearing all black, but that’s a color, right? Isn’t black actually the combination of all colors?). But I have had that experience before where the color on the small swatch you get at the paint store looks so much different when it’s on all four walls of the room.

Our dining room has beautiful white wood trim on the bottom half and only top half would be painted. I’ve included pictures.

I am thinking about painting cobalt blue or indigo. I know, I know, it’s such a dark, drastic change, but I think the room can handle it. I love these blue walls I found on Houzz. Any thoughts?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oatmeal, chicken salad and guacamole - oh my!

I read an article in More last summer and according to a nutritionist, oatmeal causes “substantial weight gain", so I have tried to avoid it since. The problem is oatmeal is actually a low-fat, healthy choice for breakfast, so I ignored this theory and made it for breakfast this morning. It was exactly what we needed to get us through until lunch.

Peanut butter oatmeal
Combine 1 c milk or water (I used a combination of soy milk and water), 1/8 t of cinnamon, 1/2 t vanilla extract and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/2 c old-fashioned oats, 1 t of sugar, honey or agave nectar, 1 T peanut butter and cook for 3-5 minutes until oats are soft. Top with sliced bananas.

After the gym and errands, I made rosemary chicken salad to bring to a friend with a new baby and guacamole to accompany our taco dinner.

Rosemary chicken salad recipe (circa 2007)

Chicken salad canapes were served at our wedding and I could never find the recipe, so I had to combine a few recipes to come up with one we love.

Prepare chicken mixture in large bowl:
3 green onions chopped (green parts only)
3 c cooked chicken (I purchase a rotisserie chicken and chopped into bite-sized pieces)
1/2 c red grapes halved
1/4 c toasted, chopped walnuts – to toast, put walnuts in pan over medium heat for a five minutes stirring frequently (and don't forget about them - as my husband will attest, walnuts burn quickly if left unattended) until lightly browned

In small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise mixture:
1/2 lemon squeezed (approximately 1 t juice) or use an entire meyer lemon (which is sweeter than a traditional lemon – my love of meyer lemons will be reserved for another post)
1 1/2 t mild dijon mustard
1 t fresh rosemary finely chopped
3/4 c low fat mayonnaise
pinch of salt and pepper

Combine mayonnaise mixture with chicken mixture. Add salt and pepper as desired. If you refrigerate the chicken salad before serving, be aware that it dries a little and more mayonnaise may need to be added.

Guacamole, mock-a-mole

After I finished the chicken salad, it was onto the guacamole. Guacamole is the only vegetable (vegetable? yes, check out the recipe) we can get our daughter to eat willing. 

This is not an original recipe – it’s borrowed from Bethenny Frankel’s book. Yes, I am a Bethenny fan – not so much for the recipes and diet ideas, but her show is fun and often parallels the problems in our own household, but I digress. 

Her mock-a-mole recipe is a keeper even for non-pea lovers like myself. 

Hidden veggies are the key to a healthy toddler.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blueberry cream cheese pastry

This morning was spent indoors due to wonderful snow. There was some initial disappointment (mostly on my part) that we were missing a dance class at the children's museum. What to do with our morning? I love to bake something warm on these cold, snowy days, but the roads were too icy and not yet plowed to make a quick run to the grocery store. I made this pastry using the following items in my refrigerator and freezer:

*a sheet of pastry puff (this versatile dough a new staple in our home as it can be used to make anything from cinnamon sugar twists to pizza crust and most recently for a delicious vegetable tart)
*reduced fat cream cheese (I didn't have the entire 8 ounce package)
*1/2 c sugar
*1/2 t vanilla extract
*1/2 lemon squeezed (approximately 1 t juice)
*1/3 c fresh blueberries (or use berry you like - fresh or rinsed frozen)
*1/4 t cinnamon

Mix softened cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Add 1/4 t cinnamon. Stir in blueberries. 

Roll pastry puff to approximately 16 x 8 and cut in half. Place half in 8 x 8 pan greased with butter or cooking spray. Spread cream cheese filling on top. Place second pastry puff over filling. Pierce pastry with fork. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake for 20-25 minute at 350 until golden brown.

Who knew such a delicious dessert could be so easy?! If it snows again tomorrow, it might not be that bad after all.

© Lake House Effect. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.