Grilled Salmon and Peach Summer Salad

The Fresh Market had some really nice salmon yesterday and perfectly ripe peaches arrived this week in my CSA so I decided to combine the two in a lovely summer salad.  The peaches are lightly grilled to bring out their sweetness and everything is tossed in a cilantro lime vinaigrette like this one from Epicurious.  You can make this ahead of time and store in the fridge.

This salad is summer cuisine at its best with my favorite summer produce: sugar snaps, peaches and corn!

DSC_0078What to buy (serves 2):

  • 2 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
  • 2 salmon fillets with skin
  • about 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • salt and pepper

for the vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

What to do:

  • to make the dressing combine all ingredients well
  • pat salmon dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides
  • preheat your grill to high
  • lightly spray peach slices with an oil mister or cooking spray and grill peaches until grill marks are present on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes
  • remove peaches, allow to cool and cut into both-size pieces
  • meanwhile, place salmon fillets on grill, skinless side down
  • close the grill lid and cook 1-3 minutes on the first side, depending on how thick the fillets are
  • remove salmon when fillets are opaque
  • combine corn, arugula and sugar snaps and divide among two plates
  • place a piece of salmon on each salad and drizzle with cilantro vinaigrette
  • sprinkle with feta and grilled peaches
  • add salt and pepper to taste

Super Simple (Light on the Mayo) Chicken Salad

I’m not a big fan of mayo so I’m always skeptical of chicken salad and the like but this version (inspired by the ever popular Foster’s Market Tarragon Chicken Salad) is delicious and perfectly light on the mayo. It has grapes and apples for sweetness, pecans and celery for crunch and a creamy chive dressing to top everything off.  It will keep well for several days, so you can make it ahead of time, just add the apples and grapes the day you serve it.  Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with crackers, on a bed of green or on a baguette.  DSC_0539

What to buy (serves 3-4):

  • olive oil
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch chives, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced on the diagonal into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, washed, drained, and cut in half
  • 1 red delicious or other variety apple, cored and cubed
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • Parsley and celery leaves, to garnish, optional
  • 3 cups fresh greens

What to do:

  • heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium heat
  • season chicken with salt and pepper and cook 4-5 minutes per side until golden and cooked through
  • allow the chicken to cool before dicing into bite-size pieces
  • to make the dressing: combine chives, mayo, vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • pour dressing over diced chicken, celery, grapes, apples, and pecans and stir to mix thoroughly
  • season with salt and pepper
  • arrange on top of salad greens and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve

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Fresh Tomato and Corn Salad

This recipe is adapted from Papa Spuds, a cool local company that has been my go-to this Spring and Summer for fresh produce, meats and baked good (the oatmeal raisin cookies are insane.)

Fresh Tomato and Corn Salad is everything I like about summer dining.  There’s no need to turn on the oven and you can’t beat fresh sweet corn just out of the fields and herbs from my back porch.  The flavors combine beautifully and you don’t need to cook the corn first if you, like me, love the crunchy texture and sweet flavors of raw corn.  Sprinkle on some parmesan, feta or whatever cheese you prefer and make this dinner or serve alongside some barbecue chicken or grilled seafood. DSC_0483

What to buy (serves 3-4):

  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup sweet basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • parsley, optional garnish

What to do:

  • chop tomatoes in half, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and place in a colander to drain (you want to remove as much liquid as you can)
  • shuck corn and with a sharp knife, cut kernels off the cob
  • combine tomatoes, corn, herbs, olive oil and juice from lime in a bowl
  • mix well and add salt and pepper to taste
  • top with parmesan and fresh herbs

Thai Chicken Salad (Larb Gai)

We love lettuce wraps around here so this week I wanted to make something that was similarly salty/sweet/spicy and loaded with vegetables. My recipe for Thai Chicken Salad is inspired by this traditional Larb Gai recipe, a classic dish in Thai cooking.

With just a few steps you can put this together and serve it warm or cold (I vote warm) with rice and/or cabbage leaves.  I prefer it with chicken but ground pork or turkey would work as well.  Whatever you do, don’t leave out the fresh mint and lime juice – they’re essential for cutting the saltiness of the soy sauce and the savory kick of the fish sauce.DSC_0413

What to buy (serves 2-3):

  • 1 cup uncooked sticky rice
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used canola)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 1/2 green cabbage, sliced
  • 3-4 tablespoons peanuts, chopped
  • 1 small bunch mint, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

What to do:

  • cook rice as directed on package and set aside
  • in a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high until hot and add onions and serrano pepper, cooking for 5 minutes or until softened
  • add chicken and cook for another 5 minutes until chicken is no longer pink
  • meanwhile, whisk together fish sauce, soy sauce lime juice, brown sugar and add to chicken mixture in skillet
  • cook for another minute stirring until combined
  • transfer the hot chicken mixture to individual plates or a larger salad bowl
  • garnish with peanuts, mint  and lime wedges and serve with cabbage leaves and cucumber on the side

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Spinach, Asparagus and Walnut Spring Salad

This week, at one of my favorite lunch places, Parker and Otis, I overheard someone saying that one of their resolutions for 2015 was to replace the phrase “I’ve been so busy” with “my life is full at the moment.”  I like this sentiment so I’m going to borrow it from the wise stranger and instead of telling you how busy things have been with an almost-8-month-old, I’ll just say that my life is full! While I promise I’m still cooking, I’ve neglected to make the time to photograph our meals and write up the recipes….until today!  Thanks for sticking with me and still being here despite my rather sporadic posting schedule of late.  I’m hoping to get back to a more regular posting schedule soon.

That said, happy Friday and hope you like this seasonally appropriate recipe! April is the peak season for asparagus and we’ve been enjoying plenty of the bright green veggie.  This recipe is super simple and would be great as a side salad to your main meal or with a protein on top. We ate this with grilled salmon for a delicious, light spring meal.DSC_0386

What to buy (serves 2):

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 6-12 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

What to do:

  • place water in the bottom half of a steamer pan set and bring to a boil
  • place asaparagus in the top half of the steamer
  • steam for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus, or until asparagus is tender
  • combine olive oil, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar and parsley until smooth
  • add spinach, walnuts  and asparagus to a large bowl and drizzle with dressing tossing to coat
  • sprinkle with cheese

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Super Bowls

DSC_0308If you’re looking for a healthier twist on the traditional Super Bowl feast you might want to check out this idea of a “Super Bowl” from Vintage Mixer. In lieu of chicken wings and pizza,  spread your table with ‘super foods’ like quinoa and sweet potatoes and everyone can make their own super bowl, topped with a generous amount of creamy avocado jalapeño lime dressing.  We ate these while the quinoa and roasted vegetables were still warm but you could served everything at room temperature.

The options for what to include in your bowls are endless.  I added:

  •  quinoa (brown rice or any grain you like is a good base)
  • roasted spiced sweet potatoes
  • roasted spiced chickpeas
  • roasted spiced corn
  • roasted vidalia onions
  • dried cranberries
  • diced carrots
  • diced snow peas
  • diced cucumber
  • avocado jalapeño lime dressing
  • feta

other ingredients that would be great:

  • micro greens and sprouts
  • nuts
  • a fried or boiled egg
  • roasted cauliflower or broccoli
  • edamame
  •  sunflower or sesame seeds
  • herbs like cilantro, parsley or basil
  • rotisserie chicken

To make the perfect creamy, spicy avocado jalapeño lime dressing: combine 1 medium avocado, 1 small jalapeño (with or without seeds depending on how much heat you like,) juice of 1 lime, 1 clove garlic salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon honey, agave or maple syrup, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon cumin.
Puree everything in a blender or food processor until smooth.




Thirty Recipes for the Fourth of July!

Thank you for following along with my Thirty for the Fourth of July project! I’ve had fun experimenting with traditional cookout dishes and hope I’ve shared some recipes you want to make for your friends and family this Independence Day.fourth

My favorites from the last month are Baked Smores Bars, Spicy Baked BeansSpicy Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Guacamole, Spicy Buffalo Potato Salad and Buffalo Chicken Burgers. Here is the round-up, in pictures and separated into side dishes and salads, mains and desserts, of my June cooking project Thirty for the Fourth of July!!

Side dishes and Salads:

Spicy Baked Beans, Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad, Grilled Vegetable Kabobs with Firecracker SauceGrilled Corn with Basil Butter, Grilled Pineapple, Spicy Buffalo Potato Salad and Mustard Vinaigrette Potato Salad, Pasta Salad with Peas and Broccoli Pesto, Purple NC BBQ Style Coleslaw, Refreshing Lime and Mint Fruit Salad


Buffalo Chicken BurgersGrilled Steak with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction and Blue Cheese, Turkey Burgers with Spicy Pickle SauceSpicy Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Mango Guacamole 


Black and Blue Pie Crisp, Baked Smores Bars, Apple Crumble Pie, Strawberry/Raspberry GranitasGreen Apple/Mint Granitas, Frozen Biscoff Pie, Peach and Plum Crumble Sundae, Smores Brownie Pie , Red White and Blue Cookies , Coconut Banana MilkshakeFrozen Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade, Frozen Oreo Truffles, Morello Cherry Pie 

Refreshing Lime and Mint Fruit Salad

DSC_0162Some friends invited us to a cookout yesterday which was the perfect opportunity to bring one of my favorite fruit salads, a bright combination of berries, watermelon, lime juice and fresh mint.  I like this one because it is pretty easy to put together, the only hands-on time required is to cut the strawberries and watermelonl.  The combination of mint and lime is so refreshing in the heat, reminiscent of one of my favorites summer cocktails: the mojito. In fact, adding some rum to the lime juice before pouring over the salad would be great if you’re having a grown-up BBQ this July 4.  This recipe is number twenty-seven in my countdown of thirty recipes to make for your Fourth of July cookout. Only three more to go and you can find all the previous ones here.

What to buy (serves a crowd):

  • 4 cups watermelon, chopped into bite-size pieces (1 small to medium size seedless watermelon)
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 6 ounces raspberries  (1 small clamshell)
  • 6 ounces blueberries (1 small clamshell)
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped if the leaves are large (my plant is producing really small leaves so I left as is)
  • juice from 1-2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

What to do:

  • add watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and mint to a large bowl
  • stir together lime juice and sugar in a small bowl then pour over fruit
  • lightly toss and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve

Purple NC BBQ Style Coleslaw

When I went to the grocery to get my ingredients to make a BBQ slaw, they only had purple cabbages I decided to give it a try.  It was good but I think I’d recommend using 1/2 a head of green cabbage and 1/2 a head of purple if you can find it.  This recipe follows the traditional North Carolina coleslaw recipe that uses cider vinegar, and ketchup as a flavorful base.   It goes great with pork, chicken or a burger.  This is number twenty-five in my countdown of cookout friendly recipes for the Fourth of JulyDSC_0149

What to buy (serves 8-10):

  • 1 head purple cabbage, chopped (check out this website for an easy way to shred cabbage)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

What to do:

  • mix sugar with cider vinegar until dissolved
  • add other ingredients except the cabbage and mix well
  • toss with cabbage until well mixed and serve immediately or allow to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors develop

Pasta Salad with Peas and Broccoli Pesto

This pasta salad side dish with fresh herb pesto is a great alternative to a creamy pasta salad.  It is a lovely green color,  studded with green peas and nutritionally packs a bunch with a full head of broccoli.DSC_0106This recipe is number twenty-two in my countdown of thirty recipes perfect to make for your cookout this July 4th. You can find all of the previous recipes here.

What to buy (serves 5-6):

for the pesto:

  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

for the salad:

  • 8 ounces farfalle, or more depending on how many people you’re serving, cooked according to package directions
  • 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) frozen green peas, thawed

What to do:

  • to make the pesto, combine the broccoli, herbs, garlic, cheese, nuts, lemon juice and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse until well mixed
  • slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream or in small batches
  • season to taste with salt and pepper
  • combine the cooked pasta and thawed peas, add pesto
  • season to taste with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if needed