Market Fresh: Strawberries

I’m so excited that it’s strawberry season and grill season! I combined the two into a Balsamic Grilled Chicken Strawberry Salad. This was so delicious and so summery and the colors are stunning! This will definitely make a frequent appearance on our summer menu!

CREAMY BALSAMIC GRILLED CHICKEN STRAWBERRY SALAD
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1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. herbs de provence
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. heavy cream
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Combine first five ingredients. Place chicken in a bag or container and pour marinade overall. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Grill until chicken is fully cooked – juices will run clear.

Salad:
1/2 lb. baby spinach
1/2 lb. strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1/4 c. feta cheese (blue or gorgonzola would also be great!)
1/4 c. pecans, chopped

Arrange on a platter or in a salad bowl. Top with grilled chicken. Drizzle dressing over all.

Dressing:
3 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. heavy cream

Combine all ingredients and shake or whisk well to combine.

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The Salad Bowl: Everyday Mustard Dressing

I wish I could say that I make all of my salad dressings at home, because truly they are so easy! However, I admittedly keep a bottle or two of the store bought kind in the door of my fridge for the days I don’t feel like whipping up my own batch.

If you’ve never made your own salad dressing, though, I suggest you try it sometime. I found this dressing recipe in Mariel’s Kitchen and have made it many times. The original recipe didn’t include any particular seasonings, so I always jazz it up with salt, pepper and anything else from my spice cabinet that suits my palate and salad bowl. Enjoy creating your own version.


EVERYDAY MUSTARD DRESSING
(originally from Mariel’s Kitchen)
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2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
salt, pepper, spices to taste

Blend until creamy. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Market Fresh: Basil

One nice thing about summer is the availability of fresh herbs — whether from the farmer’s market, or your own backyard! If you don’t have a garden, you can even grow herbs in pots, which is what I’ve done for many years.

Basil is a popular herb, with many varieties to choose from. My sister just introduced me to “Boxwood Basil” which has tiny leaves and grows much like the boxwood shrub. Last year I planted a few rows of mixed basil seeds and ended up with some lovely purple basil mixed in with four other kinds.

I’m sure most of us think of pesto, or caprese salad when we think basil. Caprese salad is my favorite salad of the summer, but basil doesn’t need to stop there. Think of it as an addition to a green salad, a topping for a plate of sliced tomatoes, the fragrance on top of a pile of fresh pasta, and even, paired with fruit, the end note to a lovely meal (see below).

This Basil Green Goddess Dressing from Ina Garten is delicious! And a sure way to make the most of your summer crop. And, when the basil runs out, why not try it with another herb, such as parsley or tarragon.

BASIL GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
(Barefood Contessa at Home)
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1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts (8-10 green onions)
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice)
2 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tsp. anchovy paste (I left this out)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream

Place the mayonnaise, green onions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. (If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.)

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even contemplated pairing basil with something sweet, such as peaches or nectarines. I was pleasantly surprised to find the combination worked! This is a fresh and easy way to make a tasty summer dessert, and if you don’t want to cook the peaches, you can just slice them fresh and add a squeeze of orange juice and some shredded basil.

WARM PEACHES WITH BASIL AND HONEY
(BBC Good Food)
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2 Tbsp. butter
2 ripe peaches or nectarines, stoned and thickly sliced
2 Tbsp. clear honey
juice of 1 orange
8-10 basil leaves, shredded

vanilla or white chocolate ice-cream to serve (Greek yogurt is also particularly nice!)

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the peaches or nectarines, then cook both sides until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the honey and stir to make a sauce, then add the orange juice and allow to bubble briefly. Stir in the basil and serve warm with scoops of ice cream.

Weekend Fare: Chicken Dinner

Well, life has been a little unexpected of late. If you know me in real life, you know that I filled our house with smoke last weekend making chicken stock overnight and you know that as a result, we are not living at our house for the next 2-4 weeks. And if you don’t know me, you are now caught up – it’s been an adventure. So, it was a bit ironic that I roasted a chicken for this edition of weekend fare. A few jokes were made and I watched that chicken as if my life depended on it. It turned out great and everyone declared it delicious! It has a lovely hint of garlic and lemon.

ROASTED CHICKEN

1 – 4-5lb. whole chicken
3 cloves garlic
1 lemon
Salt & Pepper

Rinse chicken and clean out. Pat dry. Remove skin if desired (I did). Rub cut cloves garlic all over chicken. Squeeze lemon all over and put garlic cloves and lemon inside the chicken. Rub with salt and pepper. Roast in a pan on a rack at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes per pound or until juices run clear. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

We enjoyed this with sides of baked sweet potato (I put these in when the chicken had about an hour left), hot, buttered peas, and a vegetable salad w/honey mustard vinaigrette (recipe below).

HONEY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
2 Tb. white wine vinegar
4 Tb. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together to emulsify the vinegar and oil. Drizzle on salad and enjoy!

Market Fresh: Spring Salad Mix

It’s nearly spring! After a month of snow in February and not even a hint of warmer weather to come, it’s nice to have March here with its promise of spring — if not in real life, at least on the calendar!

Spring Salad Mix, while something we can buy year round at the grocery store, is about to be coming into its own at the local farmer’s market and before long in our own gardens!

Here are some ideas for creating some terrific salads:

SPRING SALAD MIX SALADS AND DRESSINGS
(Heather)
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Spring salad mix

Choose a fruit:
apple
strawberries
pears
Asian pear
grapefruit
mandarin oranges
dried cranberries or cherries or blueberries
peaches
nectarines
plums
avocado

Choose something crunchy:
toasted pecans
walnuts
hazelnuts
slivered almonds
pumpkin seeds
crumbled bacon
sunflower seeds
croutons
pine nuts

Choose a cheese:
slivered Parmesan
crumbled feta
crumbled blue cheese

Choose a dressing:
Creamy
Applesauce
Lemon & Oil

Place your spring mix into a salad bowl. Add the fruit, something crunchy, and cheese of your choice. Toss with the dressing just before serving.

CREAMY SPRING SALAD DRESSING
(adapted from Jacques Pepin)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1-2 Tbsp. water
salt & pepper

Whisk the cream in a bowl until it is frothy. Add the red wine vinegar and give a few more whisks. The cream will thicken. Add water to make the dressing the desired consistency (i.e. not so thick). Add salt and pepper to taste and pour over salad. This amount works for a salad to serve about 4.

APPLESAUCE SALAD DRESSING
(as given to me by my friend Carla)

1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 green onions, sliced (include a little bit of green)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz until well-blended.

LEMON AND OIL DRESSING
(Heather)

1 part lemon juice
2 parts canola oil
salt & pepper

I squeeze the lemon juice into a small glass jar, add the oil, salt and pepper and place the lid on the jar. Shake vigorously and pour onto salad. This is my most-used salad dressing.