a balanced plate with room for dessert

1 Comment

Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini and Corn

chicken with cherry tomatoes, zucchini, corn and arugula |

Folks, we are up to our ears in tomatoes. Still. It’s been week after week of a million tomatoes. I did one round of canning and got 7 jars out of it. I think I’m all canned out for the season. It’s just not worth all the work.

Unfortunately, that leaves me with about 40 pounds of tomatoes to eat. Every week. I cook with them as much as I can. I bring them to work and try to pawn them off on my coworkers. I lure friends into my home and then won’t let them leave until they take some tomatoes.

Is it bad to say that I’m actually kind of sick of tomatoes? Even worse, a lot of the delicious tomato recipes I’m seeing are filled with my most recent nemesis – cheese (insert sobbing here).

Fortunately, there are recipes out there that are easily adapted to be cheese-free. This recipe happened to not only use up a decent amount of tomatoes, but I was also able to sneak in a garden zucchini and some of our garden hot peppers as well. Win!!

chicken with cherry tomatoes, zucchini, corn and arugula |

Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes, Corn, and Zucchini

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 lemon, zested and juiced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn or frozen)
2 medium zucchini, quartered, seeded, and cut into 1/4″ pieces
1 bunch green onions, whites sliced
2 small fresh red or green chile peppers, finely chopped
3 cups cherry tomatoes
4 cups arugula
1/2 cup parsley

  1. Butterfly each chicken breast by cutting it in half horizontally and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken 3 – 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm.
  3. Add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to pan. Add in lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in corn, zucchini, green onions, and green chiles. Cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 4 – 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and parsley and remove pan from heat.
  4. Top each chicken cutlet with a handful of arugula and a healthy scoop of vegetables.

adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine, September 2013


Ultimate Veggie Burger

I lost my favorite work perk last week with the end of the school year.

Salads. Delivered to me. Every day.

I never had to worry about what I was going to eat, never had to pack leftovers for lunch, never had to resort to a sad PB&J or turkey & cheese sandwich. I had an amazing salad sent to me. Now it’s all over. The kitchens are closed until September and I’m… hungry.

I’ll admit that I have been really bad about remembering to bring lunch with me. In the 7 work days that I have been salad-less, I have forgotten lunch 3 times. Not good, Jen, not good. I’m at least smart enough to keep our office fridge well-stocked with Greek yogurt and I have a fairly impressive stash of snacks in my desk drawer as well. Wheat crackers and Greek yogurt make for a sad lunch, though, and 3 days of it is more than enough for me.

I’m making an effort to pack a lunch, and these veggie burgers were first up on my list. I made a huge batch of it and have enough to feed Mike and me for a week.

Ultimate Veggie Burger |

Ultimate Veggie Burger

for the patties:
2 cans black beans drained, liquid reserved
4 large carrots, grated
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

for the burgers:
olive oil
whole wheat hamburger buns
optional toppings: thinly sliced tomato, lettuce, onion

  1. Combine all veggie patty ingredients (black beans through black pepper) in a food processor. Pulse until combined, being careful not to puree. If mixture does not easily stick together, add reserved bean liquid 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.
  2. Shape mixture into 4 or 5 patties 1″ thick.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add patties and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until browned on both sides. Serve hot on a bun and garnish with lettuce, tomato, and any other toppings you desire!

Leave a comment

Beef & Ricotta Meatballs

Nothing quite beats a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs. I have been looking for ways to use up the cans of marinara I have in my pantry. You see, last summer our garden did really well. However, we planted mostly tomatoes. This meant that at the end of summer we had roughly a bajillion tomatoes in our garden. And as much as I love tomatoes, there was no way we could eat all of them. I decided to make salsa and marinara with the tomatoes. In hindsight, I wish I had canned whole tomatoes, because now I have a lot of marinara and salsa to use up.

So, this summer we plan to plant even more tomatoes. And I promise to be much smarter about how I go about canning them!!

I saw this recipe on Prevention RD and was intrigued – I’ve never put ricotta into my meatballs before. Since I’m always looking for new things to cook up, I decided to give it a try. The result? Absolutely delish. They were wonderful and tender and best of all, I was able to use up a jar of marinara 🙂

beef & ricotta meatballs

Beef & Ricotta Meatballs
from The Lemon Bowl via Prevention RD

1 pound ground sirloin (90% lean)
2/3 cup low-fat ricotta
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 egg whites, whisked
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Using a small cooking scoop, scoop out meat mixture and shape into balls. Place in an even layer on the  baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until browned.
  5. Serve with pasta and sauce of choice.


Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

It was Blogger’s Choice for today’s recipe swap. I was assigned to Amy’s Kitchen Creations. I saw the chicken pot pies and had my heart set on making them. Then, time got away from me and I realized that there was no way I would ever have the time to prepare that dish in time for the swap reveal!

Thank goodness she has so many recipes to choose from! I came upon the corn, avocado, and tomato salad and knew that it would be perfect. I had a ton of corn to use up from the CSA and we had a bunch of ripe cherry tomatoes that were begging to be used in our garden!

I loved how easy this was to make! I ended up doubling the recipe because I had so much corn to use up. Now, I have a bunch of delicious leftovers to get me through the next few days 🙂

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad
slightly adapted from Amy’s Kitchen Creations

11 ears corn, cooked and kernels cut off
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup red onion, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, zested
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Combine the corn, tomatoes, avocado, and onion in a large glass bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss gently to combine.



Eggplant Parmesan

I had said yesterday that I’ve only made one meal in the last week. I now have to admit that the only reason I made this was because I had signed up for a vegetarian recipe swap and the reveal is today. If it weren’t for this, I probably would’ve survived on random junk in my fridge and Sour Patch Kids. So, thank goodness for this tasty meal because it fed us for a really long time!

The recipe I was assigned was Eggplant Parmesan from Tasty Treats by Tina. The last time I had made eggplant parm was just over 3 years ago. Holy smokes! I love how Tina’s version is unbreaded. It cuts down on the prep and I think that her recipe is to die for!

Eggplant Parmesan
recipe very slightly adapted from Tasty Treats by Tina

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fat free ricotta cheese
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup basil, chopped
4 cups tomato sauce (recipe follows)

  1.  Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt. Place slices in a colander, and place a dish underneath the colander to capture liquid that will sweat out of the eggplant. Allow to sit for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Mix in egg and basil.
  4. Rinse the eggplant in cold water until all salt is removed. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Place one layer of eggplant in the pan, brown each side. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, using additional oil if necessary.
  5. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, evenly spread 1 1/2 cups of pasta sauce. Arrange a single layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Top the eggplant with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering process until all the eggplant and cheese mixture is used. Pour remaining sauce on top of layers, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake 30 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until sauce is bubbly.

Basic Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
4-8 ounce cans low sodium tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat  olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until until is translucent.
  2. Add tomato sauce and seasonings and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.


Prosciutto T.B.M. Sandwich

It’s swap time again! This is my third swap and I’m officially addicted. The other two times I have participated it was Blogger’s Choice and I got to choose whatever I wanted from the assigned blog. It was kind of nice having a dish just given to me – it means I don’t have to spend hours deciding what dish to make!

This time, I got the Prosciutto TBM Sandwich from Does Not Cook Well With Others (DNCWWO). She was inspired by the TBM sandwich at Cosi, a sandwich chain that originated out east. Lucky for me, there was one in Madison, WI as well so I have had the opportunity to eat there. I don’t recall ever ordering the TBM, but next time I’m in Madison I will put it on my must-try list!

Apologies in advance for the picture – I rushed through this so I could get the sandwich from the plate and into my mouth as quickly as possible. It was late, and I was hungry 🙂

Prosciutto TBM Sandwich
very slightly adapted from DNCWWO

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 loaf sourdough bread
3 ounces prosciutto
1 pound mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
15 basil leaves

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  2. Slice the loaf of sourdough bread into 6 – 1/2  inch slices. Brush one side of each slice of bread with vinaigrette with a pastry brush.
  3. On three slices of bread, layer on prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Place second slice of bread on top.
  4. Slice sandwich in half and serve immediately.

Leave a comment

Black Bean Salsa

I first had this salsa at a friend’s wedding brunch. And I had it again when we went to visit these friends in Minnesota. It swept me off my feet the first time I had it and the feeling didn’t change. Obviously, I had to get the recipe! So, thank you Kirsten, for passing Georgette’s Black Bean Salsa recipe to me! Can you spot it in this yum-licious pile of nachos??

I made a huge batch a few days ago and the flavor just gets better and better every day. Yum. I think I need to always keep ingredients for this on hand.

Georgette’s Black Bean Salsa

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white corn, drained
3 large tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
1 green pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced

  1. Combine oil, apple cider vinegar, and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Warm until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir to combine.