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I’ll be honest here….lunch is not my favorite meal of the day. I’m often running here and there during lunch time and end up throwing some leftovers together, making a salad, or eating the oh so healthy cheese, crackers, and apple lunch. 

Hey, at least I add the apple. 

BUT when I actually plan ahead, with very minimal effort, I can have an awesome lunch of Rosemary Chicken Salad.

Why don’t I do this more often? It’s so good!

I’m a big fan of pretty much any kind of chicken salad you’d care to offer me but this one, flavored with fresh rosemary and pecans  has quickly become my new favorite.

To make life easier, I often bake the chicken in advance and make extra. That way I can use chicken for dinner one night and pop the rest in the fridge for chicken salad later in the week.

Here’s what you need:

Chicken, Celery, Green Onions, Red Grapes, Fresh Rosemary, Pecans, Mayonnaise, Olive Oil (for cooking the chicken, not pictured), and Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Rosemary Chicken Salad Shopping List

As I said earlier, whenever I’m cooking chicken, I usually make extra so I can have some leftovers and  options. It’s great to slice up on a green salad, toss in a quick quinoa salad, make a quesadilla, or just eat as is.

Preheat the oven to 350-375 degrees. Either temp works so if you have something else in the oven, throw the chicken in there with it and save yourself time & energy.

Feel free to use bone in, with skin on or boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I use whatever is on sale or in my freezer.

Place three chicken breast halves on a foil lined tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt & pepper and bake at 350° (or 375°) for 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown, the juices run clear, and the temp reads 160° on an instant read thermometer.

Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your chicken and whether it has bones or not. The boneless, skinless breasts usually cook in about 35 minutes.

Let the chicken cool and then pop it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make your salad.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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I can’t believe I’ve never posted the recipe for Pasta with Shrimp & Fresh Tomatoes!

This has long been one of my favorite dishes to make but I often fiddle around with the recipe adding mushrooms, white wine, some kind of cheesy goodness, and I forget just how good the original recipe is.

Pure and simple, quick and easy too…and totally beholden to good, ripe, summer tomatoes. This is a recipe that can easily be on the table in under 30 minutes.

Since we just passed the Labor Day Weekend, which is something of a second Ground Hog Day for those of us in Florida – Three More Months of Summer (gah!), most of you with gardens are swimming in tomatoes. I think that’s a great problem to have and Pasta with Shrimp & Fresh Tomatoes is the answer!

Here’s what you need:

Shrimp, Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil, Red Pepper Flakes, Heavy Cream, Pasta (Spaghetti or Linguine), Salt & Pepper.

Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese for serving is optional and not pictured.

Click here for a Pasta with Shrimp & Fresh Tomatoes Shopping List

Pick 2 pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes for this dish. I have about 8 Romas because that’s the only thing that looked decent in my store. I’m afflicted with incredible garden and tomato envy this time of year. It’s not even funny the sad state of tomatoes in Florida. I have a whole rant on the subject but I’ll spare you.

We want to scald the tomatoes with boiling water to remove their skins. You can do this a couple of ways…first I cut an X into the bottom of the tomato just to make peeling easier.

Then I like to fill my tea kettle with water and once it comes to a boil, pour the water all over the tomatoes while they’re in the sink. Stop part of the way through and turn the tomatoes over so you scald both sides.

Let them hang out in the sink for 5-10 minutes and then start at the X and remove the peel.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Asian Noodle Salad with Shrimp – Perfect for hot summer weather!

This is an incredibly versatile salad. It can be made ahead and refrigerated or made when you’re ready to eat and served at room temperature. Add whatever veggies you like, have on hand, or have growing in the garden!

Because it’s made with rice noodles or glass noodles (bean thread noodles), it cooks up in only minutes. Perfect for weeknights, great for potlucks or tailgate parties, and really, really good leftover.

Here’s what you need:

Rice Noodles, Shrimp, Green Onions, Celery, Jalapeño Pepper (or Thai Chili), Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mint, Fresh Basil, Fresh Cilantro, Limes, and Fish Sauce, and Sugar (not pictured)

(Ignore that rice vinegar up there…we don’t need it. Imposter!)

Click here for an Asian Noodle Salad with Shrimp Shopping List

Let’s talk about these noodles…

I have a couple of kinds of Asian noodles that I can easily find in my regular grocery store. You can either get rice noodles (on the left) or bean thread noodles (on the right). Both are naturally gluten free. Yay!

The thickness of the noodle is up to you but I prefer a slightly thicker noodle similar in size to spaghetti or linguini. The pink packaged “vermicelli” noodles on the right were suggested in the original recipe but are a little too thin for my taste and tend to clump all together in the bowl. However, not to fear, they’re perfect for my favorite Spring Rolls so I’ll have no problem using them up.

If you have the bean thread noodles, they are sometimes also called Glass Noodles because they will be almost transparent when you cook them whereas the rice noodles remain more whitish in color. Both are good for this recipe.

If you have an Asian market, look around and you’ll find many, many varieties to try. Just like pasta, you can easily swap out noodle sizes and shapes in this salad so don’t worry if your store doesn’t have exactly the same thing.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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We’re taking a little break from recipes so I can share my latest obsession with you…

Today we’re talking about How To Raise Butterflies!

This summer when I was in Minneapolis for the opera, my friend Jen called to ask me if I wanted to help her release monarch butterflies that she had raised from caterpillars.

Heck yeah, I did! So off I went and less than 2 minutes later, a new obsession was born.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the photos I’ve posted on Facebook so I decided to bring them all here and share what I’ve learned so far.

You’ve probably heard that pollinators, bees and butterflies, are struggling these days. Loss of habitat and especially pesticide spraying has wreaked havoc with their populations. This year a big freeze in Mexico where the monarch butterflies over-winter, caused a huge die off.

So, other than the fun and educational aspects of this, why should we help raise butterflies when they’ve been doing it out in the garden on their own all these years?

Well, butterflies raised in a controlled habitat have over a 90% success rate from hatching, through the caterpillar and chrysalis (what we used to call a cocoon) stages, and into a butterfly.

Out in the garden, that rate drops to about 20%. YIKES! Besides humans, think of all the birds, wasps, mites, and other critters that can interfere with this amazing process and you quickly realize that we can lend the monarchs a helping hand.

Or paw…you see Henry quickly became the Chief Butterfly Inspector.

So, right off the top…I’m no expert. I’m a flute player who cooks and blogs, but I’ve learned from friends (thanks to Jen, Rolf & Carrie, and Sandy), googled a lot, and just jumped on in.

Here’s what you need:

Some kind of butterfly enclosure. I have a net one that is collapsable and tall (Henry for scale) and a plastic bin with a ventilated lid that is originally made for reptiles that I picked up at the local pet big box store.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Mango Chicken Stir Fry!

Holy Cats! I love this dish!!!!

A perfectly ripe mango is a beautiful thing. They’re in season right now and I just happened to have 2 sitting on my counter smelling divine.

I also happened to have boneless, skinless chicken thighs thawing in the fridge so with the power of The Google, I went to work trying to find something to cook for dinner that would use both.

Happily I ran across this recipe from food.com – the post said that the original recipe came from Canadian Living Magazine. Apparently it’s from the more tropical part of Canada. I’m all for eating locally and seasonally, but I’d hate to think that my Canadian friends had to miss out on juicy mangoes just because they’re up north!

Here’s what you need:  (Please pardon the messy photos…I wasn’t really planning to post this today but it was JUST TOO GOOD to wait for neater photos!)

Chicken, Bell Peppers, Green Onions, Mangoes, Ginger, Olive Oil, Chicken Broth, Soy Sauce/Tamari, Rice Vinegar, Chili Garlic Sauce, Brown Sugar, Corn Starch, and Curry Paste. Plus rice for serving (not shown)

Click here for a Mango Chicken Stir Fry Shopping List

A couple of notes:  I used about 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs but you can certainly use good old boneless, skinless chicken breasts too. Also, I had a whole bag of those tiny bell peppers in the fridge so that’s what I used. You can substitute a small regular red and a small yellow or orange bell pepper and save yourself a lot of prep work. You need about 2 cups of peppers total.

RICE! Before you start cooking anything else, prepare 1½ cups of dry rice (basmati, brown, long grain, or even jasmine would be fine) in 3 cups of water. Use a rice cooker or the trusty old pan method. Rice takes about 20 minutes which will give you ample time to prepare the Mango Chicken Stir Fry.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Summer Zucchini Season is in full swing so Pasta with Zucchini & Ricotta is the answer to that age old question…

“Hey, would you take some zucchini? I have a ton in my garden!”

That answer should always be, YES!

Quickly sautéed zucchini meets creamy ricotta cheese in a dinner that cooks in just about the time it takes you to boil the pasta.

Here’s what you need:

Zucchini, Onion, Garlic, Lemon, Fresh Basil, Pasta (GF or Regular), Ricotta Cheese, Olive Oil, Pecorino Romano Cheese, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Pasta with Zucchini & Ricotta Shopping List

I really like to load up this pasta with zucchini. I have 4 medium zucchini…a little over 2 pounds for ¾ pound of pasta. If you are using a full pound of pasta, add at least one more zucchini.

If you wind up with one of those giant zucchinis, you could probably use it for this dish, however I would definitely cut it open and scoop out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller. Zucchini seeds, unless they are really small and tender, will separate from the flesh of the zucchini and float around weirdly in your dish.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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TGIF, Friends! I’ve made you a fancy cocktail. A Gin & Ginger Gimlet!

Wow, what a busy summer this has turned out to be. Sorry for the light posting but life has been crazier than expected.

I’ve made my usual summer migration up to Minnesota to play the opera and we’re opening Sweeney Todd tonight! The singers are ridiculously good and this production is perfect for our outdoor space at the antique flour mill ruins. (Pictures to come.)

So maybe we need a cocktail to celebrate. Or maybe we need a cocktail just because it’s Friday. 

Or maybe just because a Gin & Ginger Gimlet is so dang tasty!

I’ve come up with a couple of variations on this drink since originally making it but here are the basics…

Here’s what you need:

Hendrick’s Gin, Ginger Liqueur (Domaine de Canton or other), Club Soda or Tonic Water, Lime, and Cucumber.

Other garnish options which are highly recommended include fresh mint or basil (not pictured).

Click here for a Gin & Ginger Gimlet Shopping List

I had similar drink recently that was made with gin, ginger ale, and basil and that got me thinking that this would be a great use for the ginger liqueur that has been sitting up in our cabinet. We bought it last summer and made some really tasty bourbon & ginger cocktails that both Jim and I have forgotten how to make. Good grief!

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Hawaiian Glazed Chicken is sort of a happy new recipe accident.

My favorite restaurant near my house is actually a food truck called the The South Pacific Grill (greater Tampa/Brandon area) that serves amazing Hawaiian/Asian influenced food. Their Huli Huli Chicken is TO DIE FOR and since I can’t always get out to their truck for a fix, I thought I’d try to recreate it at home.

  

Well, after scouring the google, combining a lot of ideas, and a couple of experiments, I’m still not very close to making proper Huli Huli Chicken but this last attempt was so good, I figured it deserved to be a featured recipe all on its own.

The chicken cooks quickly so it stays super tender and moist and the sauce has quite a nice tang. I made this on the grill but you could also use a grill pan indoors or even a broiler.

For best flavor, this needs to marinate for several hours – at least 2…4 or 6 is even better, so plan ahead!

Here’s what you need:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, Pineapple Juice, Ketchup, Lime, Ginger, Garlic, Brown Sugar, and Soy Sauce or Tamari

Click here for an Hawaiian Glazed Chicken Shopping List

Click HERE there’s more!

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First a disclaimer about Tarragon Fingerling Potatoes…

This is not a real recipe. 

We can call it a method, but I don’t want anyone to think….oh geez, now she’s boiling potatoes and calling it magical, or anything like that.

I happen to have a friend who texts me with great angst whenever a certain someone on the food network is making something like a BLT or a club sandwich and acting like it’s the first, great sandwich idea anyone’s ever had. Don’t want to make that mistake.

I wasn’t even going to post this but since I’ve had 3 different people email or call me this week asking, “What should I do with these weird little potatoes in my CSA box?” I thought I’d put this up.

Also, I feel like fresh tarragon, one of my favorites, is an herb that is often overlooked.

Here’s what you need:

Fingerling Potatoes (or other small potatoes), Butter, and Fresh Tarragon. Salt & Pepper not pictured.

Fingerlings are just what they sound like…small fresh potatoes that are the shape and size of a thumb or finger.

They’re an early summer favorite at farmer’s markets and as I mentioned have started appearing in farm subscription boxes or CSAs.

If you don’t have a market handy, sometimes my grocery store has them or I buy them at Trader Joe’s. They almost always have them in some form or color.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta!

This is the latest recipe in our new section of Weeknight Wonders and is a dish I would happily (and easily) make for guests.

Who doesn’t love a recipe with only a few ingredients that cooks in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta?

I know I do. And yes, the title pretty much says it all….BUTTER! Lemon & Garlic Butter!

Here’s what you need:

Shrimp, Pasta (I have GF), Butter, Lemons, Garlic, Olive Oil (optional), Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Salt & Pepper.

Also chives or parsley for garnish and goat cheese crumbles for decadence. (not pictured but highly recommended.)

Click here for a Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta Shopping List

 

This is a recipe I stole from my lovely sister. She took a Williams Sonoma recipe for grilled shrimp, tweaked it, and turned it into a glorious pasta dish.

I tweaked it a little more with the addition of goat cheese and also by cooking the shrimp and sauce together in one pot. Having fewer pots and pans to wash is always fine with me. (You only need the olive oil if you decide to cook the shrimp separately from the butter sauce.)

Click HERE, there’s more!

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