Roasted potato and green bean salad with caramelized onions, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

I love this salad.

There are few salads that I really enjoy eating. One is a strawberry, spinach and kiwi salad my mom makes. One is this salad. And one is this roasted potato and green bean salad. This salad is so easy but it has so many different flavors and textures that it makes it seem like the most complex salad. But its not. Its so easy. And so tasty. And you must make it. Trust me. People will love you after you make this salad.

I have been making this salad for years. Its a really great salad to make if you’re having company over or need to bring something to someone’s house for a dinner party. It has something in it that will please everyone, and the ease of preparation makes it an instant go-to salad for me.

It is also a great salad to make and then add things to it to make it a complete meal. Sometimes I will add grilled chicken or steak to it and it becomes a really great, fast, and easy dinner.

OK, so I just planned your next dinner. You’re welcome.

Ingredients

1 12 ounce bag of field greens
1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
1 sprig of rosemary, minced
2 sprigs of thyme, minced
2 sprigs of parsley, minced
5 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil (divided)
2 Tbls. butter
Salt/pepper, to taste
Blue cheese, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, herbs, 3 Tbls. olive oil, and salt and pepper. Coat potatoes and spread onto a rimed baking sheet cut side down. Roast in the oven for twenty minutes, stopping halfway through to loosen potatoes with a spatula and flip them.

While you potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add butter and remaining olive oil. Add onions to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Caramelize onions by stirring them around the pan every five minutes (Lower your heat if the onions are becoming too browned). After twenty minutes, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and stir onion around. Let onions cook for ten more minutes. At this point, the onions should be a deep brown color. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Reserve the pan with the leftover oil from the onions for green beans.

In the same pan, saute green beans until cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper. set aside to cool.

To assemble the salad, place field greens into a large bowl and add potatoes, green beans, onions and blue cheese. Toss to combine. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad and toss.

Vinaigrette

1 Tbls dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt/pepper

In a large bowl or blender, add all ingredients except olive oil. Whisk or blend until all ingredients are well combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking or while your blender in on. Blend until all of the oil has been added. Drizzle over salad right before you are ready to eat.

Enjoy!!!

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Very berry crumble

Nothing screams spring time louder than a big bowl of fresh berries. And nothing tastes as great either. The weather in NC has been so beautiful lately so I have been taking full advantage of all the amazing produce that our grocery stores have been providing. I could not pass up buying fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries a few days ago – but berries go bad so quickly that I figured I’d better use them while they are still fresh.

By the way, since when is a half pint of blueberries $5??? I need a better job. Oh wait, I need an actual job.

Anyways, this crumble is a great way to use up some berries in a very delicious way. It is another very simple preparation with an amazing turnout. I usually bake my crumbles in a 9×13 baking dish, but my baking dish was being used to house my spinach artichoke dip (posting later on). So, I baked these little suckers in muffin tins. They were more like individual crumbles. But if you are anything like me – three crumbles was one serving size 😉 . Oh well. It’s fruit so it must be healthy. Right?

Ingredients

4 cups of your favorite mixed berries (I used blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Place filling into a baking dish or muffin tins. Set aside.

Crumble topping
1 cup quick cooking oats
4 Tbl butter
2 Tbl whole wheat flour
1 Tbl granulated sugar
2 Tbl brown sugar

In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Combine all ingredients until crumbly. Mixture should have the consistency of wet sand. If you mixture seems a little dry, add a tablespoon more of butter. Pour crumble over top of the berry mixture and lightly pat down.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is slightly browned. Serve with or without ice cream.

Enjoy!!

Lemon basil risotto with peas corn and spinach

Risotto is a labor of love. If you have ever had authentic risotto, you know that it is a creamy, satisfying rice dish that is full of flavor. And, if you have ever cooked risotto, you know that it requires your time and patience – standing over the stove constantly stirring it until it is perfectly cooked.

I don’t make risotto often. It can be heavy and I usually don’t have the time to make it the way it should be made. But tonight was an exception. And after I ate this, I realized the true reason why I don’t make it too much. It is SO good! And I would be a balloon if I ate this all the time.

Although this is an indulgent dish for me, the addition of veggies and lemon really helps keep it fresh and light tasting. Feel free to add in your own variations to this recipe. Some mushrooms or shrimp over top would also be amazing in this and would really make it feel like a complete meal.

This is a perfect spring or summer dish to add to your table and I know you will love it if you take a little extra time to make it right.

Ingredients

3 Tbl olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups low sodium chicken stock (If you are a vegetarian, you can certainly use vegetable stock here)
1 cup dry white wine
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbl butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbl basil, minced
1 Tbl lemon zest
salt/pepper to taste

In a small sauce pot, keep the chicken stock warm until needed.

In a deep saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook until slightly softened. Pour rice into pan and toast for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add white wine to pan and allow rice to absorb most of the liquid. Once the liquid has almost all absorbed, add in one ladle full of chicken stock. Stirring constantly, allow rice to absorb the liquid in the pan and then add in another ladle of stock. Continue this process, stirring the entire time until all of the chicken stock has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is al dente.

Once all of the chicken stock is absorbed into the rice, add in the corn, peas, and spinach. Let the risotto cook for five minutes or until spinach has wilted and vegetables are heated through. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in butter, cheese, basil and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

*If your risotto seems a little dry, add in extra stock to thin it out.

Enjoy!!

Southwestern quinoa with roasted shrimp

This weekend I went to Winston-Salem, NC to visit my sister, Jen. We are super close, so every time I go see her we always have so much fun! She also loves to cook so it is always a great excuse to try out some new recipes whenever I am over there because I know she will help out. My first night there we went out for dinner and drinks and then for some frozen custard. If you have never had frozen custard, do yourself a favor and go get some! Its awesome! Its basically ice cream – just a lot richer (and probably more fattening). But it is delicious. And I ate way too much of it.

So after a night of drinks and custard, we decided that we should make some kind of effort to eat slightly healthier the next night – hence the quinoa. Quinoa is so easy to make and with the addition of some other flavorful ingredients, it really makes it a great meal.

Ingredients
Recipe collaborator: Jennifer Reppucci

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and devained
1 Tbl blackening seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
olive oil
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 cup corn (frozen or fresh)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 avocado, diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced and caramelized
Salt/pepper, to taste

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a plastic re-sealable bag add in your shrimp. Season with salt, pepper, and blackening seasoning and olive oil. Seal the bag and shake the shrimp around the bag to coat it with the seasoning. Empty the shrimp onto a sheet tray and discard the plastic baggy. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through. Set aside.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add quinoa and toast until slightly browned. Add in stock and bring to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook, covered for about 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat and add in your corn, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, and onion. Pour cilantro vinaigrette over and serve with shrimp over top.

Cilantro Vinaigrette

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt/pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour over quinoa and toss to combine.

Enjoy!!!

Beer braised chicken tacos with a mango corn and avocado salsa

I am craving summer time so badly. I have five weeks left of school, and then I am done. FOREVER. Thank goodness. This recipe brings me back home because during the summer, my family and I are always making all kinds of salsas and tacos to enjoy after a long day of fun in the sun.

These tacos are really tasty and super easy. Once your chicken is in the slow cooker, its smooth sailing. And this salsa. This salsa is amazing. Sweet, salty, tart, creamy. What more do you want? Well, I could use a drink, but this salsa will do for now. Next time I make this salsa, I might use it on top of some grilled fish – or even in fish tacos. And, just so you know – this recipe makes a ton of salsa. But that’s OK. Because you will not want to stop eating it. I personally polished off a bowl of it tonight.

Ingredients
Enough chicken for about 8 tacos

Flour tortillas
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle beer (I used Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy)
1 package taco seasoning

Place all of the ingredients except tortillas into your slow cooker on the ‘high’ setting and let cook for 4 hours. Once 3 hours have elapsed,, remove the chicken from the slow cooker (leaving all liquid in the slow cooker) and using two fork, shred on a cutting board. Place chicken back into the slow cooker and continue cooking for the remaining hour.

When the four hours is up, the chicken is done and you can begin to assemble your tacos.

Mango Corn Avocado Salsa

1 large mango
2 medium avocados
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 small red onion, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 small bunch cilantro, minced
Juice and zest from two limes

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and place corn on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until corn begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Set aside.

Peel and chop mango and avocados. Place into a large bowl and add in onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice and zest. Add in your cooled corn and mix all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to top your tacos with.

*I used low carb whole wheat tortillas, but feel free to use whatever you like. This chicken and salsa would also be really good over some lettuce as a salad.

** If you don’t have a slow cooker, don’t worry – you can still make this recipe. Instead of placing all the ingredients in the slow cooker, add it to a pot on the stove top and cook it over medium heat until chicken is shreddable. This should take about 45 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it and occasionally add water or chicken stock into the pot so all of your liquid doesn’t evaporate.

Enjoy!!!