a balanced plate with room for dessert

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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


Couscous Salad

It’s recipe swap time again! This month’s theme was Summer Salads and I got a couscous salad recipe from Nicole over at Cookies on Friday.

I was super excited to get this recipe because I love couscous. Specifically, pearl couscous. There’s just something really amusing about the shape and size of it to me. Unfortunately, the only place that I could find it before was at Trader Joe’s two hours away from home. Whenever I was in Madison, I would stock up on couscous.

Now, Trader Joe’s is a lovely 20 minute drive across town for me. I no longer have to be that crazy lady in the checkout line with 8 boxes of couscous in my arms.

If you can’t find pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous) you can use normal couscous instead! Nicole also noted that you can use whatever combination of mayonnaise and yogurt that you would like. I opted to use less mayo and subbed in a Greek yogurt instead of using a plain yogurt or sour cream, but feel free to use what you have on hand!

Couscous Salad |

Couscous Salad
recipe adapted from Cookies on Friday via All Recipes

1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/3 cups pearl couscous
1 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup toasted and sliced almonds
1 – 15 ounce can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  1. To prepare the dressing: combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Slowly add in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let simmer for 12 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine couscous, onion, bell pepper, parsley, raisins, almonds, and chickpeas. Toss to combine. Stir in dressing until evenly incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Thanks to Taste of Home Cooking for organizing! Make sure to check out the other recipe swap posts!


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California Rice and Beans

My favorite part of traveling for work is getting to eat at different restaurants. My first business trip meal was at Mona Lisa’s in Eau Claire. I had their gnocchi with sausage and peppers, and it was phenomenal. The downside to all this eating out is… well, it’s a lot of eating out. I got home and just needed an easy, home cooked meal. I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine and knew it would be perfect after being on the road.

I’m still trying to find a balance between my new work life, working out, and cooking. Before, I was able to run before work. I opted to work 7 – 3:30 at this new job, so running before work just isn’t going to happen! I’m a morning person, but waking up at 5:15 is as early as I can manage. Running before work would mean getting up an hour or more earlier than 5:15, depending on my distance. Nope, no thanks!  So, now I’m running after work and racing the clock to get dinner on the table at a decent time. Simple dishes are good right now since I don’t have a fully stocked pantry like I’m used to and I’m limited with my cooking tools as well.

California Rice & Beans |

California Rice and Beans
adapted from Food Network Magazine, September 2013

1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 – 15 ounce can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
5 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 green onions, sliced

  1. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, bell peppers, squash, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss until evenly coated.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Place vegetables into pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place beans in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir in lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place hot rice on 4 plates and top with vegetables and mashed beans. Top beans with sliced almonds and green onions. Serve immediately.

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Shrimp with Mango, Lime and Radish Salsa

I’m happy to say that I survived my first week of work. The best part is that I really, really like my job so far and I think it’s only going to get better!

I am also happy to report that we are 90% moved in. Madison is finally starting to feel like home. We have a bed, our laptops, and most importantly – internet. The hardest part of having two homes is not having access to all of my cooking gadgets all the time. I had a difficult time deciding if I wanted to bring my stand mixer or my hand mixer (hand mixer won, due to space), a blender or a food processor (blender… but I think that I might end up getting the food processor anyway), what pots and pans to bring… I’m still not 100% satisfied with my decisions, but that will eventually get figured out, too.

The downside to this move is I haven’t been cooking a lot. We’ve been living off of sandwiches, salads, and pasta mixed with ground turkey and the tomato sauce I canned last summer. Nothing too exciting. I do have a shrimp dish that I made pre-move, though! The whole time I was eating this I was thinking about Scott Conant, a judge on Chopped, who hates raw onion. If you haven’t seen him on the show before, you will just have to trust me when I say that this man hates raw onion with a passion. He tears apart every.single.chef that uses it in their dish. If you are like Scott and hate raw onion, this dish probably isn’t for you. If you do like raw onions, then continue on!

Shrimp with Mango, Lime and Radish Salsa |

Shrimp with Mango, Lime and Radish Salsa
slightly adapted from Food Network

1 1/2 pounds large uncooked shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 lemon, juiced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the salsa:
3 limes
2 mangoes, diced
4 radishes, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Toss with shrimp until well combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator and let marinate for 45 minutes. Heat remaining olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp until they turn pink, turning once.
  2. Remove segments from the limes by cutting off both ends. Place lime on one cut end and with a small, sharp knife, cut off the pith and peel. When all peel and pith is removed, carefully cut between the membrane to remove the lime segments.
  3. Place lime segments in a large bowl. squeeze juice from the lime membranes into the bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Place cooked shrimp on top and serve immediately.


Roasted Veggie Wraps with Goat Cheese Yogurt Spread

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. I know I did! I spent a lot of time in the kitchen… like 8 hours a day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And, surprisingly, the majority of that time was not spent on cooking or baking! You see, last Tuesday morning Mike and I were out for a run. While on this run, I saw a hideous/beautiful dresser on the side of the road. We ran past it once, then twice, and then a third time. The final time I stopped and inspected it. It was in good condition, the drawers appeared clean and the construction was solid. We called my father in law and he came right away with his trailer and helped us drag it home. At 6 in the morning. Bless him.

So, that became my weekend project. The dresser got moved into the kitchen and I disinfected the whole dang thing twice and then got to work. I spent all weekend sanding, priming, painting, sanding, painting, sanding… You get the picture. As I type, all 9 dresser drawers have been painted an amazing shade of blue and have their first coat of polycrylic on it. They need to be sanded and coated with 2 more coats of polycrylic. The dresser itself has been primed and painted, but needs a third layer of paint. Then it will get the same polycrylic treatment as the drawers. Then the hardware needs to get spray painted. All this needs to happen before we move to Madison in 2 weeks.

The other highlight of my weekend was going to the farmers’ market. It’s one of my favorite Saturday morning activities. We usually walk away with one thing: kettle corn. This weekend, we walked away with a bit more: kettle corn, fougasse, and some eggplant. I tend to do my menu planning on Sunday or Mondays and then go shopping on Wednesdays. I think I need to rethink my timing so I can incorporate some more farmers’ market goodies into our weekly meals. There is seriously nothing better than eating market goodies for dinner 🙂

Roasted Veggie Wraps with Goat Cheese Yogurt Spread |

Roasted Veggie Wraps with Goat Cheese Yogurt Spread

for the roasted vegetables:
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ x 3″ pieces
3 Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ x 3″ pieces
1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 large red onion, chopped
3 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 1/2 tablespoons Arizona Dreaming seasoning or other seasoning of choice
salt and pepper
olive oil

for the goat cheese yogurt spread:
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

8 large whole wheat tortillas
4 cups baby spinach

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss vegetables with seasoning, salt, pepper, and olive oil until well combined. Spread into an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes or until just tender. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, make the goat cheese yogurt spread. Combine all spread ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. To assemble, spread 2 tablespoons of the spread onto a whole wheat tortilla. Lay down 1/2 cup of baby spinach and 1/8 of the roasted vegetable mixture on one end of the tortilla. Roll up tightly. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Slice in half and serve.

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Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers

This summery pasta dish is perfect for those nights where it’s just too dang hot to spend hours sweating in the kitchen. Or for those nights where you need something on the table in less than 30 minutes. Or for those nights where you are just really craving tofu.

What? You don’t crave tofu? I do. I also really hate cooking when it’s hot and humid out. So this dish was perfect.

Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers |

Cold Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Bell Peppers
adapted from Food and Wine

3/4 pound cold tofu, cut into 1/2 – 3/4″ cubes
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 pound Chinese shan dong noodles or other wide, flat noodle
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Chinese chile-black bean sauce
1″ piece of ginger, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 large green onions, thinly sliced
cilantro, optional

  1. Toss tofu with 1/3 cup soy sauce in a medium bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions until they are al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Combine the remaining soy sauce with peanut butter, broth, vinegar, chile sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Puree until smooth. Pour over the noodles and toss to combine.
  4. To serve, place noodles into a bowl and top with tofu, bell peppers, and green onions. Serve immediately.

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Panko-Coated Chicken Schnitzel with Parsley Potatoes

Summer means shorter work hours for me, but for some reason I’m finding myself less and less motivated to make elaborate meals. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe the shorter work weeks make me lazy. Maybe it’s Summer Brain. 

All that said, I love this dish because it tastes complicated but is really quite simple to make. The worst of it was it requires a lot of pans, plates, and utensils, but that’s not really my problem since Mike does the dishes 😉

Panko-Coated Chicken Schnitzel with Parsley Potatoes |

Chicken Schnitzel with Parsley Potatoes

for the chicken:
1 cup flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied and pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons capers
juice of 1 1/2 large lemons
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

for the potatoes:
1 pound red potatoes, quartered or cut into eighths if large
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
juice of 1/2 large lemon
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. To make the chicken, place the flour, eggs, and panko in three separate shallow dishes. Mix in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper into the flour mixture.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess. Dip into egg and then coat with panko, using your hands to gently press the panko to the chicken.
  3. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 – 4 minutes each side.
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until lightly browned. Add in chicken broth, capers, and lemon juice. Spoon over chicken and sprinkle with parsley before serving.
  5. To make the potatoes, place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper. Toss gently until potatoes are coated evenly.

schnitzel recipe adapted from Food & Wine

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Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini Bell Peppers

This simple salad is packed full of flavor and makes the perfect accompaniment to pretty much any summer dish. If you’re ever asked to bring a salad or side dish for a potluck, throw this together… I’m 99% sure that no one else will show up with the same dish as you 😉

I’ll tell you a little secret though – this dish is also perfect alone as a main. I meant to grill some chicken to go with it, but sometimes I just run out of gas at the end of the day. This was one of those days. So we each had nice, large bowls of this instead. Perfect 🙂

Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini Bell Peppers |

Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini Bell Peppers

4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups quinoa
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup garlic olive oil, divided
1 package mini bell peppers
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add in quinoa and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pot. Simmer until chicken broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place peppers in skillet in a single layer and cook until blistered on all sides. Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Add quinoa to bowl along with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Top dish with feta and parsley and serve.


Summertime Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin has been on my must-cook list for years. Yes, years. I’m not sure why I never got around to making it, but I was pretty excited when I received this recipe for the “cooking with alcohol” swap from My Chicago Kitchen.

Now that I’ve made this, I know that I will be making this again and again and again. It was so easy to put together it was unbelievable. Slow cookers in my house are used pretty much only in the fall and winter. Once summer comes around, it goes into hibernation deep in my cupboards.

Why that happens, I’m not quite sure… but this recipe definitely convinced me that slowcookers are a year-round kitchen tool that I should be using!

Summertime Coq au Vin |

Summertime Coq au Vin
adapted from My Chicago Kitchen, originally from Williams-Sonoma

1 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, minced
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
6 sprigs fresh parsley
6 springs fresh thyme
6 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups pearl onions
2 cups sugar snap peas

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour and shake off any excess. Brown chicken in pan on all sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Place chicken into slow cooker.
  2. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of grease in pan. Add shallots and saute for 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and pour in wine and chicken stock. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Pour into slow cooker over the chicken.
  3. Add in parsley, thyme, and carrots, making sure the herbs are fully submerged in the liquid. Cover and cook for 2 hours on high or 5 hours on low.
  4. After 2 or 5 hours, uncover and add in onion and peas, submerging them in the liquid. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on low. Serve warm.

Thanks to Taste of Home Cooking for organizing! Make sure to check out the other recipe swap posts!


Hot Italian Sausage & Pepper Hash

It finally feels like summer to me. I’m taking a week off work  to explore some great things out west with my family. Mike, my dad, step-mom, brother and I are trekking out there to do some serious exploring.

trip out west

We’re doing a little bit of everything, from Vegas to Grand Canyon North & South Rim, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon with a bunch of stuff in between. I’m super excited since it’s going to be my first time ’round those parts 🙂

Downside(s)? The heat. I melt in the Wisconsin summer. I will surely die in the heat of Vegas (100°F? Why does this temperature even exist?) and surrounding areas. I’m also a little worried about my workouts. I’m bringing my running gear and I bought a travel yoga mat to help me stay on track. My plan is to run 3 times and do yoga 3 times while we’re out there. My regular routine, essentially. Hopefully I can stick to it!

We’re leaving for the airport in a few short hours and I still have a huge list of things to finish up (like the apple crisp in the oven). I’m running off to do some last minute packing now, but I’ll leave you with a super simple and super delicious recipe – enjoy!

Hot Italian Sausage & Pepper Hash |

Hot Italian Sausage and Pepper Hash 

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, quartered and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-19 ounce package hot Italian sausage links, casings removed
3 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
10 mini bell peppers or 3 large bell peppers, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
6 large eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook onions, stirring frequently, until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place sausage in a medium pan over medium-high heat and brown, chopping up links into crumbles with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Cook until browned and drain off excess fat.
  4. Stir sausage into onions and add in potatoes. Season with salt and pepper  to taste. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour potatoes and sausage mixture into a large baking sheet and sprinkle sliced peppers on top. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  5. In the last few minutes of baking, heat olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Cook eggs until desired doneness is reached. Scoop hash into bowls and top with an egg. Serve immediately.