Eating with the Armstrongs

Happy Fourth of July week! We are headed to the beach with some friends today and I couldn’t be more excited for some time to relax and to get a much needed tan. I’ll be making my recipe below for Grilled Teriyaki Chicken in kabob form for our Fourth of July feast along with my Zesty Black Bean Dip that I posted last week, and will probably include grilled corn and fresh watermelon for sides! Yum!

We’ve enjoyed the recipes below this summer-I hope you try them out!

Perfect Peach Iced Tea  We love sweet tea all year around, but especially in the summer time! And I’ve been completely obsessed with peaches this summer, so this tea really hit the spot for refreshment. I like how the simple syrup can be served on the side so that people can add it as they choose.

Grilled Veggie Burritos The Pioneer Woman always has great recipes, and this one is super easy and delicious. Grilled vegetables are another summer food favorite for us. You can easily swap out the white rice for brown rice or quinoa.

Artichoke Pesto I really enjoyed this flavorful take on pesto. Delicious on pasta, but also on a sandwich, grilled chicken or other veggies.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken  The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful and tender it will be! The whole day or even over night is the best way to go. As you’ll see, I used salmon for the original recipe, which is incredible as well. Make sure to boil the marinade rather than throwing it away so that you can use it for an incredible sauce over rice, cous cous or quinoa. You’ll need to bring it to a boil, then allow it to simmer for ten minutes since it was used with raw chicken. But after that, it’s safe to consume! My only change is that I used a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard instead of the white wine and ground mustard. The Dijon provides a similar flavor profile if you don’t have wine on hand!

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Enchiladas I could eat the sauce for these guys by the spoonful! What’s better than roasted red pepper? A few swaps for this recipe:

-swap 2 red peppers for the poblanos, but roast for the same amount of time

-exclude the bread crumbs in the sauce

-swap half a 28oz can of whole tomatoes in their juice for the chicken broth

-swap the black beans for 2 cups of cooked chicken

-to make it a little lighter, I sprinkled a 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top rather than 1 cup.

Quinoa Salad This is my all time favorite quinoa salad! To mix it up a little, I used a roasted poblano pepper (roast at 425 for 3o minutes, allow to cool, remove skin, chop) instead of the red pepper. I also added half a can of black beans for added protein. Delicious!


Eating with the Armstrongs (plus why I love my siblings)

Today is a beautiful, sunny day in Baton Rouge. I’ve already enjoyed sitting outside at a coffee shop with a friend and later I’m planning to head to the dog park with Boone. The weather is a much needed pick-me-up from the early weeks of February which were grey and cold and sad.

I love February because I love Valentines Day! Hearts and chocolate, pink flowers, fancy food, cards, I love it all. Growing up, my mom always made Valentines Day special with a delicious and gourmet breakfast or dinner and my dad would give us flowers and Godiva chocolates, the best! It’s altogether more delightful being married on Valentines Day. Matthew and I celebrated with dinner at our favorite restaurant, Roberto’s on River Road, where we enjoyed sensation salad, stuffed red fish, and King Cake bread pudding. To die for. I bought Matthew some a beef jerky milk chocolate bar from Wild Ophelia and he said it is the best chocolate he’s ever had. What a man.

flowers

February is also wonderful because I get to celebrate the birthdays of two of my very favorite people in the whole world, my older brother and my younger sister.

Ryan lives in Colorado where he skis and snowboards and makes the most of life with new adventures developing all the time. He is laid back, full of joy, friendly, and just the sweetest. I’m so thankful for my big brother!

Natalie lives in Texas where she is loved by every person she knows, is the smartest girl I’ve ever met, drop dead gorgeous, and excellent in everything she puts her hand to. She may be my little sister, but I have lots to learn from her.

I’m celebrating you both today!

family

In the food world, here are a few recipes that we have enjoyed lately:

Caesar Dressing is one of my favorite things to make at home. This one uses Greek yogurt for a delightful creaminess. If you’re afraid of anchovies, just omit them! As much as I love garlic, I would use 2 cloves instead of 4, especially if you make this for a party.

The Pioneer Woman wins again with these decadent dark chocolate brownies. Chocolate heaven. As well as with Queso Fundido, a meaty Queso dip that was devoured in minutes by recent party guests.

We loved the Walnut Crusted Chicken from Kitchenspired. The flavors are really profound and the walnut crust gives the impression of breadcrumbs without the bread.

One of my new favorite meals is spaghetti squash with a meaty marinara suace. I really don’t miss the pasta at all. Just use your favorite meat sauce recipe with roasted spaghetti squash. It’s delicious!

Enjoy these recipes, friends!


Mixed Green Salad with Figs, Candied Pistachios, Red Onion, Feta Cheese & Lemony Dressing

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One of the books on my Book List for 2014 is Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I’m not sure why I haven’t read it until now as it’s been recommended to me countless times and I gave it to both my mom and mom-in-law for Mother’s Day. But now I’m halfway through and totally in love. Her thoughts on food and community are rich and real, blanketed with recipes and with stories invoking laughter and tears. I’ve already tried her enchiladas, which are incredible, and I can’t wait to try everything else!

One of my favorite things she shares is her philosophy on feasting and fasting. The idea that in life there are times of feasting, indulging mostly around holidays and vacations, which can be followed by times of fasting, eating a stricter more careful diet, with some treats in moderation. I love this idea. We don’t have to feel guilty about eating that extra sugar cookie or drinking a huge mug of hot cocoa when we balance it with a season of grilled salmon and mixed greens and spinach upon spinach.

This really encouraged me as today I’ve started the 21 Day Sugar Detox. After a hearty time of holiday feasting, I’ve felt the need to freshen up our meals. Inspired by my friend Alexa who has a wonderful blog, aptly named, Kitchenspired, I’m jumping in! Find out more here or follow Alexa’s journey.

Today’s salad is a lovely combination of flavors that can be enjoyed in a season of feasting or fasting. (Although it’s off limits for the detox.) Over the holidays, we went to a delicious little restaurant in Rockwall, Texas called Zanatas. Upon fist bite of their house salad, I knew I’d want it again, so here’s my recreation, which I think is pretty similar. I hope you try it!

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Mixed Green Salad with Figs, Red Onion, Candied Pistachios, Feta Cheese & Lemony Dressing
serves 4

Ingredients:
4 handfuls of mixed greens
6 dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup of crumbled feta
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 tablespoon salt

for the dressing
Adapted from Power Foods
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large shallot, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
(You’ll have extra, use on other salads or sandwiches!)

To make
:
For the candied pistachios: preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt and water. Add pistachios, stir to combine. Place a piece of parchment paper on a small baking sheet. Spoon pistachios onto parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Mix together lemon juice, Dijon, olive oil minced shallot, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

In a salad bowl, place mixed greens, diced red onions, feta, chopped figs and candied pistachios. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of dressing, combine and add more if needed.

Enjoy!


Cous Cous, Corn & Black Bean Salad with Chipotle Dressing

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As much as I absolutely love the fall months, I’m not quite ready for summer to end. I’m holding on to every fresh berry and ripe tomato I can get my hands on and I’m especially not ready for Hobby Lobby to be filled with scarecrows and pumpkins. Don’t get me wrong, fall is probably my favorite time of year, but I don’t want to skip the end of summer. Given the fact that it won’t get even slightly chilly here in Louisiana until maybe mid-October, I guess I have a bit more time.

For me, salads are the best thing to eat in the summer. And even though I could certainly make this salad in the fall or winter, there’s something summery about it. The tangy feta and spicy chipotle make this easy dish flavor packed.

This recipe comes from one of my all time favorite cookbooks, Power Foods. I’ve shared the quinoa salad here before, it’s incredible!

For a heartier salad, add some chopped rotisserie chicken or mixed greens and avocado. But without any of those things, this is still a hearty and delicious salad.

Happy end of summer!

For the salad:

2 cups of plain cous cous
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup crumbled feta
Chopped cilantro
A handful of blue corn tortilla chips

optional: chopped rotisserie chicken, sliced avocado, a handful of mixed greens

Dressing:

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Tablespoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo (found in a small can on the Mexican foods aisle)
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of water

To make:

Cook cous cous according to package directions, fluff and scoop 2 cups into a large bowl. Add drained & rinsed black beans, corn. Add chicken if using.

In a blender combine dressing ingredients. Add to cous cous mixture and stir to combine.

Place salad ingredients in a bowl on top of a handful of mixed greens if using. Top with a sprinkling of feta, cilantro and avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.
Enjoy!

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