Greek Quinoa Salad

Happy Sunday night! What better way to start the week than with a healthy, make-ahead lunch idea! Fresh, easy, simple, and easy on your waist line! 🙂 If you enjoy meat, feel free to add rotisserie chicken for a more filling meal! Enjoy!


Ingredients
2 cups of cooked quinoa (according to package directions), cooled
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup cubed (or broken up) feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced red onion (or finely diced)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and serve! Can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Enjoy!

Fancy Wedge Salad with Avocado, Strawberries, Bacon & Shrimp

This is a ridiculously easy, no-cook recipe (the ingredients I use are already cooked) that is crispy, fresh, sweet, savory, salty, and anything but boring! This is a great dish to take to a potluck (everyone will be so impressed with you – the beautiful colors of this salad jump out and the presentation with individual wedges is unique and appealing to the eye!). And, regardless of what people might say, yummy-looking food is always more appetizing.

It’s true that other kinds of greens (think: arugula, spinach, chard, etc.) are more nutrition-rich than iceberg lettuce. However, the crunch and crispiness of the iceberg cannot be replicated any other way.

I LOVE this salad, and my friends have enjoyed it with me. I hope you share this with your loved ones and become your next party’s superstar chef with little effort!

Yields: 12 servings
Ingredients
2 heads of iceberg lettuce
~1lb cooked shrimp (peeled)
2 ripe avocados, cubed
6 slices of crispy, cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer thick-cut)
1/2 cup of either finely sliced red onion or finely diced red onion
1 cup of thinly sliced strawberries
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
Salad dressing of your choice

Optional: Sliced, toasted almonds

Directions

Wash and dry the heads of lettuce. Remove the outer layer of lettuce. Split each head in half through the ‘root’. Then cut each half into three wedges. Each head of lettuce will yield 6 wedges.

Skewer the shrimp and avocado, alternating if desired for better presentation, and spike each wedge with your loaded toothpick.

Top each wedge with the bacon, red onion, strawberry slices. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest evenly over all 12 wedges.

Drizzle the dressing of your choice (blue cheese dressing or poppy seed dressing are my favorites!) and enjoy! 🙂

Piquillo Pepper & Chickpea Soup

I tested Food & Wine’s recipe, and have made a few measurement adjustments and added some new garnishings which I think are amazing with this soup. I actually prefer the recipe without rice and without chicken, but feel free to add those if you wish! If you do end up adding rice and/or chicken, it becomes a very satisfying one-pot meal!

Vegetarian or not, this is a fabulous recipe. I was taken aback by how QUICK it is. With the BlendTech blender I use, this is actually a no-cook recipe (also goes for VitaMix users), since these blenders heat up the soup so much while blending it’s not even necessary to reheat. I timed myself and it took a total of 6 minutes to make this recipe start to finish. It takes me more time to drive to Whole Foods and pick up a ready-made soup from there!

I hope that those of you who don’t have much time to cook try this out and make this a regular on your recipe rotation – I know I have!!! And lastly, if you like your meat, use chicken stock instead of vegetable, and top it with shredded chicken!

Enjoy! 🙂


Ingredients
1 cup drained piquillo peppers, reserving a 1/4 cup on the side, thinly sliced for garnish
1 cup store bought plain hummus (or you can make your own homemade hummus – my recipe is so easy!)
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Garnish:
high quality extra-virgin olive oil, drizzled
habanero hot sauce (Trader Joe’s)
cubed avocado
fried chickpeas
thinly sliced piquillo peppers
store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded

Directions
In a blender, combine piquillo peppers, hummus, and stock. Puree until smooth and season according to taste with salt and pepper. Heat in microwave or in a saucepan over medium heat until desired temperature. Serve hot in bowls garnished with drizzled olive oil, piquillo peppers, and any other garnish ideas I’ve given that tickle your fancy. Enjoy! 🙂

Basil & Goat Cheese Filled Cherry Tomatoes

I served these recently at a tapas party and they were a hit! Feel free to use red or yellow cherry tomatoes, both taste and look beautiful! This is a great, no-cook recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. If I would give one piece of advice for this recipe, do not skip the FRESH basil (i.e. dry basil is not a good substitute!).

If you are familiar with piping, feel free to fill the cheese mixture into a piping bag with a pretty styling tip, and pipe the mixture into the cherry tomatoes for a more fancy look!

Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients

1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt (be careful to not over-salt the cheese mixture since goat cheese is already tangy!)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 cherry tomatoes

Variation: Add grilled corn to the cheese mixture for an added sweet crunch! 🙂

Directions

Combine the cheese, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl with a fork, until well-incorporated. Taste test the cheese mixture and adjust seasoning as desired.

Cut the top off each cherry tomato and using a small knife and spoon (or clean hands!) carefully cut and scoop out the pulp to make a hollow, yet sturdy, shell. Note: Drain off any juice that may be in the tomato shells.

Using a small spoon (or your clean hands!), fill each tomato shell with the cheese mixture.

Arrange beautifully in a platter and serve! Can be refrigerated a few hours ahead.

Curried Chicken Tea Sandwich with Toasted Coconut & Almonds

This recipe is a new one in my repertoire and I put it together for a recent event I was hosting at my husband’s office. The food theme was ‘tapas’ and this fit the bill! I only had a few hours to put together a spread of tapas, and this was probably the easiest one for me to put together! The biggest reason is because this is pretty much a no-cook recipe – assembly only!

I bought a rotisserie chicken from the market, and after that it was all assembly! 🙂 I decided to do sandwich triangles, but I also like the thin, rectangular presentation for tea sandwiches (classic is always lovely!). If you are worried about the sandwiches coming apart, feel free to put a toothpick through each sandwich.

Even though this is great as a ‘tea’ sandwich, this sandwich is perfect for a quick lunch sandwich to switch things up a little.

If you don’t want the sweeter taste that comes from the marmalade and coconut, omit them and add white onions and avocado cubes to the chicken mixture (although, try it once – you might be surprised how much you like it!).

Enjoy 🙂

Yields: 24-36 tea sandwiches or 12 entreé-size sandwiches
Ingredients

1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons orange-ginger marmalade (or you can use orange marmalade if orange-ginger is unavailable)
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups diced cooked chicken (I take meat off of a fresh rotisserie chicken from the supermarket)
12 slices of bread of your choice, crusts trimmed (pumpernickel adds a great taste variance, but I usually have buttermilk on hand and enjoy that)
3 tablespoons diced green onions

Preparation

Bake coconut and almonds in a shallow baking pan at 350°, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until toasted. (Note: if you want them to bake separately in case there are leftovers afterward, use different pans, otherwise to save time, I just put them in the same baking pan).

Stir together cream cheese and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; gently stir in chicken with a spatula until all ingredients are well-incorporated. This chicken salad filling can be made ahead and can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Spread evenly on bread slices and top with toasted coconut, toasted almond, and green onion, as desired. Cut each slice into 2-3 strips (optional) for tea sandwiches, or you can leave whole for an entreé portion.

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil & Feta

Happy Friday everyone!! In honor of this upcoming beautiful weather, I decided to take it easy today (especially after posting yesterday’s advanced rabbit-stew recipe!) and post a simple, NO COOK, and in-season recipe!

When heirloom tomatoes come into season, I always rush to the local farmers markets to grab all different colors of them to make all sorts of different dishes (think: heirloom salad terrine, delicious tomato gazpachos, and baked shrimp in a fresh tomato sauce!). However today’s recipe is easy, quick, and so delicious. The tomatoes are so vibrant in color and just as luscious in flavor! The cubed feta and basil are beautiful and delicious additions that are sure to please your palette :).

I hope some of you get to enjoy this with your friends and families!


[Note: make sure to use high quality extra-virgin olive oil since it will be ‘raw’ in the salad, otherwise you can get an off-putting and bitter taste!]

Ingredients

4-6 heirloom tomatoes (they come in many different sizes) of varying colors, chopped in big chunks
2-3 tablespoons of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar (try strawberry or fig balsamic for a twist!)
1/4-1/2 cup of cubed feta (these are sold in blocks like tofu, although you can use crumbled feta too)
1/4 cup of basil, chiffonade
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately! 🙂 [Doesn’t get much more simple than that].

🙂

Gone Bananaz Tropical Cocktail

We recently traveled to the beautiful island of Nevis in the West Indies (my second time, but my husband’s first!) and had a wonderful trip. It was a long weekend full of white, sandy beaches, delicious seafood, ripe, tropical fruits, wonderful people, and last but not least, AMAZING COCKTAILS!!! 🙂

I have to share this one cocktail that was taught to us by our bartender, Kaddy, who works at Montpelier Plantation Inn (the STUNNING hotel we stayed at). We did a fun mixology class with Kaddy, and this cocktail recipe was creamy, had the right amount of sweetness coming from the juice, and the PERFECT amount of alcohol (not too much, not too little) :).

Writing this post makes me nostalgic already, but having this drink transports me back to that wonderful, relaxing state of mind that Nevis offered us.

I hope that many of you try out this drink recipe over the weekend (HAPPY FRIDAY!) or at your next get together – it promises to be a crowd HIT! Also just a note that you can feel free to use any brand for the coconut cream, creme de banana, etc. I have just linked to examples to help you!


Yields: 1 heavenly cocktail

Ingredients
Note: 1 shot of alcohol equates to 1.5 ounces

2 ounces dark rum
1 banana, skin off
1 ounce creme de banana
2 ounce Bailey’s Irish Creme
1 ounce coconut cream
a splash of pineapple juice
two scoops ice
Garnish: fresh grated nutmeg

Instructions

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds-1 minute until ice and ingredients are well-incorporated. Pour into serving glass of your choice, garnish with fresh, grated nutmeg on top and enjoy! 🙂