a balanced plate with room for dessert


Mediterranean Chopped Salad

I have a secret: I made this dish months ago. Back when spring was barely showing its face in Wisconsin. I took one bite of the salad and knew that this was going to be absolutely perfect for summer. The salad was delicious back in the spring when it was made from not-quite-in-season veggies. Now that it’s summer, I urge you to take advantage of the delicious, local veggies at a farmers’ market near you. I walk through the Appleton or Madison market every week and the bountiful produce makes my day. I can’t eat this salad right now (it doesn’t fit into my diet quiet yet), but I can dream about it. I’m hoping that my food issues get sorted out before the summer is over so I can take advantage of the fresh veggies from the market and in my garden.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad |

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

1 medium cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 small red onion minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
Ground black pepper

  1. Place cucumber and tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and gently toss to combine. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, onion, and parsley; toss to combine and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Add romaine and feta and toss until ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste before serving.


recipe very slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


Fresh Pineapple Salsa

I’ve been loving the spring weather this week. All the snow is gone and the temps have been warm enough for me to run in a tee. Mike and I are hoping to take advantage of this weather by going on a nice, long hike and with the pups this weekend and then grilling out after. Fingers crossed that the forecast is wrong and that it doesn’t rain!

This pineapple salsa is sweet with the perfect amount of heat. It’s super versatile, too. I ate it with chicken, with pretzel thins, and even just straight-up with a spoon.

Fresh Pineapple Salsa |

Fresh Pineapple Salsa

1/2 pineapple peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large nonreactive bowl, stir together pineapple, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Ginger-Apple Chutney

I can still remember a few (many?) years ago my mom handed me two cookbooks and told me to pick one. One was a Bobby Flay cookbook. The other, a Ming Tsai cookbook. It was a no-brainer – I chose Ming. I’m a cookbook hoarder – I have a scary amount of cookbooks stockpiled in our house. I love looking through them, but I rarely cook from them. Simply Ming is one exception; I cook from his book all the time.

Ming Tsai has yet to let me down. Everything I’ve made of his has been delicious, and this savory-sweet chutney is no exception. It is out of this world. Seriously. I had Mike taste it for a seasoning-check and he asked if he could have it for dinner (ha! crazy man). I am obsessed with this stuff. My one regret is that I didn’t make a double batch of it. I want to put it on everything right now. I have two recipes coming up in the next week or so that will use this chutney and they, too, are pretty dang delicious.

Ginger-Apple Chutney |

Ginger-Apple Chutney
makes about 4 cups

4 cups Fuji apples (about 6 – 8 apples), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup apple juice

  1. Toss apples with lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in onions and ginger and saute until onions are soft, about 3 -4 minutes. Add the apples and stir to combine. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Add in vinegar and apple juice and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until only 1/2 cup liquid remains.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

recipe from Ming Tsai

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Lemon-Thyme Roasted Chicken and Veggies

This chicken is Mike-approved. He inhaled his entire piece before I got through a quarter of mine. I was surprised at how juicy the chicken turned out. When roasting, I usually try to use bone-in, skin-on chicken to keep the chicken from drying out. But the magical lemon-thyme sauce kept this boneless, skinless chicken breast tender and juicy and not at all dry.

Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken |

And the vegetables? They were my favorite part of the meal!

Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken & Veggies |

Lemon-Thyme Roasted Chicken and Veggies

for the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme, minced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced (save other half for veggies)

for the vegetables:
4 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 pound green beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lemon, juiced
Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a shallow dish, combine olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and lemon juice. Add chicken, turning to coat.

Lightly spray an oven-safe pan or cast iron skillet with olive oil and arrange lemon slices on the bottom of the pan. Place chicken on top of the lemon slices, pouring any remaining marinade on top.

Spray a separate oven-safe baking dish with olive oil. Add in potatoes, green beans, garlic and lemon juice. Toss to coat.

Bake for chicken and veggies for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

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Baked Fish and Chips

baked fish and chips {dairy free} |

I don’t know about you, but I love fried food. My dairy-free lifestyle has significantly decreased my fried food consumption, but I still get crazy cravings for it. This baked version of fish and chips (or for my fellow Wisconsinites, a good ol’ fish fry) is delicious and completely satisfied my craving for greasy, fried fish and potatoes.

The best thing was that I didn’t have that heavy, gross feeling I usually get after indulging in fish and chips. Another bonus: I could inspect all the ingredients to make sure they were 100% dairy-free. I mean, it’s not that I don’t trust restaurants, but… OK, I don’t really trust (most) restaurants 😉

baked fish and chips {dairy free} |

Baked Fish and Chips

for the chips:
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes (about 3 – 4 medium)
olive oil spray
salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the fish:
olive oil spray
2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 egg whites
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless perch cut into 2×4-inch pieces

tartar sauce
malt vinegar
lemon wedges

  1. Arrange oven racks in upper and lower third of oven and preheat to 450°F.
  2. To prepare the chips: Slice potatoes into 1/4-inch thick sticks. Spread potatoes out on in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet and spray with olive oil. Place on top rack and bake, flipping fries once or twice, until fries are browned and crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove fries from oven and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. While fries are baking, prepare the fish: Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt in a shallow bowl until frothy; set aside. Place cereal in a shallow bowl and crush with fingers. Season cereal with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Dip fish pieces into egg whites, then roll in cereal to coat. Place fish on prepared baking sheet, thin side down and mist with olive oil spray.
  5. Place fish onto lower rack and bake until crisp and cooked through, about 12 – 15 minutes. Season fish with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Serve fish and chips immediately with tartar sauce, malt vinegar, and lemon wedges.

recipe from Food Network

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Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I slid my way through 6 snowy, icy miles on my run yesterday. There were a few things on my mind:
  1. Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall
  2. Don’t get hit by a car
  3. Don’t fall
  4. I’m so hungry… Ooh! I have Brussels sprouts at home!
These Brussels sprouts are dangerously addictive. Even Mike, who doesn’t really care for Brussels sprouts, gobbled these up happily. He has actually been requesting roasted Brussels sprouts for the last couple weeks. I think we’re averaging 2 – 3 pounds of Brussels sprouts per week right now! 
Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts |
This recipe is a good reminder that good food doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s four ingredients: Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I still can’t get over how simple and delicious these are.
Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts |
Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts
extra virgin olive oil spray
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking pan with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Cut off the end of the Brussels sprouts. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and remove any discolored outer leaves.
  3. Place Brussels sprouts in prepared baking pan and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and stir to coat. Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Brussels sprouts are done when lightly browned. Season with more salt and pepper to taste before serving.


Quick & Easy Mexican Rice

I whipped up a batch of this rice to go with the chicken enchiladas I made for Mike. Because, you know, a carb-heavy entree needs a carb-heavy side dish to go with it. Ok, truth is, I made this rice because the enchiladas smelled so good and I couldn’t eat them. So I made a bunch of rice and ate that instead. Now, this rice is obviously not the same as a chicken enchilada, but it was enough to satisfy my craving. This is my favorite go-to recipe for a quick and easy dish to accompany any Mexican-inspired entree that might find its way onto our table.

Quick and Easy Mexican Rice |

Quick & Easy Mexican Rice

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced, optional
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
cilantro and lime wedges to garnish, optional

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is lightly toasted. Sprinkle with garlic powder and cumin and stir to combine.
  2. Add in onion, garlic, and jalapenos and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Stir in diced tomatoes and broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Fluff with a fork before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a lime wedge if desired.