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Roasted Honey Pecan Chicken Salad

There are only about a million different variations on chicken salad and everyone has their favorite. I don’t particularly care for fruit, dried or otherwise, in mine and I like a lot of texture. I also love to roast chicken versus poaching it to keep it really moist and pull it to catch more of the delicious dressing. This would be amazing on greens, on toast, on a classic sandwich or on my favorite chicken salad accompaniment; a buttery croissant. This chicken salad is really fresh and a good excuse to try just one more chicken salad recipe! 

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, roasted, cooled, shredded
  • 2 chicken legs, roasted, cooled, shredded
  • 1 cup celery, diced 
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chives, minced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 T champagne vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T dijon
  • 1/2 cup mayo (Duke’s)
  • Kosher salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and season to taste. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve however desired.

Enjoy!

Berry Blue Icebox Cake

I have always loved classic zebra icebox cake made with whipped cream and Nabisco chocolate wafers. My friend Mimi’s sweet mom made it growing up and it was my absolute favorite! I’ve asked Mimi to make it for me as my birthday cake as a special treat. Her classic cake inspired me to make an icebox cake for the fourth with the delicious and fresh flavors of summer. I wanted to make a patriotic cake with blackberries and raspberries creating blue and red layers, but it wasn’t meant to be. Feel free to use whichever berries are your favorite to make this cake your own! The berry creams are really something special and would be great with any treats! Make double and save the cream for topping any other desserts! And as if this cake isn’t appealing enough already, it takes 30 minutes, is so easy and is no-bake! Whip it up anytime! This is a messy cake so to get the prettiest slices make sure to use a warm knife to slice.

  • 1 pint blackberries, divided
  • 1 pint blueberries, divided
  • 2 T water, divided
  • 1 qrt heaving whipping cream
  • 1.5 T vanilla
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 sleeves Nabisco chocolate wafers (you might be able to get away with 1 package but I don’t like to have any broken cookies in my cake; call me OCD)

Whip cream to soft peaks; add vanilla and powdered sugar and whip stiff peaks.

Divide cream into thirds, in 3 medium bowls.

Set aside.

Meanwhile process 1 cup blackberries with 1 T water in a food processor until smooth. 

Strain through a fine mesh sieve into one of the bowls of cream.

Mix gently until blended.

Repeat with 1 cup blueberries and 1 T water to make blueberry puree.

Strain into another bowl of cream to make blueberry cream.

Using a spring form pan begin to layer the cake.

First make a layer of overlapping chocolate cookies in the bottom of the pan.

Next layer the blackberry cream, smoothing it out to make an even layer.

Next add a layer of fresh blackberries.

On top of the blackberries make a layer of chocolate cookies.

Add a layer of blueberry cream, then fresh blueberries.

Finally make the last layer of cookies topped with the vanilla whipped cream.

Make the top of the cake with a decorative layer of berries; I did concentric circles of blueberries and blackberries but you could make any kind of design you like.

Refrigerate overnight and remove from the springform when ready to serve.

Slice with a knife that has been warmed under hot running water and then dried for the cleanest slices.

Enjoy!

Recreated J. Alexander’s Israeli Couscous

Sometimes there’s something so tasty and (seemingly) simple in a restaurant that you’ve just got to figure out how to make it for yourself. I’ll admit that when I want a really good caesar salad on a busy night, we like to get takeout from the J. Alexander’s in our neighborhood. However, the one thing I’ve really wanted to recreate is the Israeli Couscous. It seems so basic, but it actually has a million ingredients. I got a waiter on the sly to tell me everything in it and I was very surprised by how much goes into it! I took all of that info and came up with this impostor, and it’s really close to the original and makes for a delicious side. It’s definitely a great accompaniment to grilled chicken thighs. 

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  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1.25 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T chives, minced
  • 2 T tarragon, finely chopped
  • 2 T basil, chiffonade
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated + additional for garnish
  • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 t tarragon vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 t magic seasoning

Heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat in a large sauce pan.

Saute carrot and onion until onion is translucent.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add couscous and toast until golden.

Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to medium low and cook, covered, for about 8 minutes, until couscous is tender and stock is absorbed.

Remove from heat, stir in herbs, cheese, pepper, and vinegar.

Season with salt, pepper and magic seasoning.

Garnish with more grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

Kale and Quinoa Salad

This kale and quinoa salad is quick and easy and makes for a ton to serve as a side or entrée, but also perfect to make ahead for lunch. The sweet and savory flavors are crunchy and cool - a perfect light summer salad on these long, hot days! To shred the kale, strip the leaves off the stems and pulse in a food processor until very finely chopped. It gets better as it sits, so make a big batch on Sunday and you’ll have an easy lunch all week! 

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  • 3 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 3 cups shredded kale
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, chopped or broken into small pieces
  • 6 T champagne vinaigrette
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or make ahead and serve later!

Pomegranate Glazed Skirt Steak Fajitas

Fajitas are the most fun, right?! You get to play with your food and make yours exactly how you like it. These pomegranate glazed fajitas take your classic steak fajitas and take them over the top! The rub alone infuses the steak with sweet, salty, smoky flavors and the glaze is then like “woah” on your taste buds; tart, sweet, so good. And it all comes together in no time. This is a perfect Saturday night dinner in!

  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 T chile powder
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1.5 lb skirt steak, cut into a few smaller pieces
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice (save the rest for margaritas!)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T dijon
  • 1 t cornstarch
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • Tortillas
  • Salsa
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Grated monterey jack

In a small bowl, mix the garlic, chile powder, 1 T salt, 1 T brown sugar and cumin.

Rub the spice mixture over the skirt steak and let sit for 25 to 30 minutes in a dish or ziplock bag.

Meanwhile, whisk the juice, remaining brown sugar, balsamic, dijon, cornstarch and remaining salt in a small saucepan. 

Boil over medium heat and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute.

Set aside.

Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat.

Place the steak and vegetables on the grill, if it all fits.

If not, first cook the steak and then the vegetables while the steak rests.

Cook the steak 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Let rest 5 minutes then slice against the grain.

Grill the vegetables until softened and charred, about 10 minutes.

Serve the steak, onions and peppers with warmed tortillas, salsa, sliced avocado, cheese and pomegranate glaze.

Artichoke Fritters

These fritters are one of my new favorites! Light and fresh, yet they feel a bit decadent because of the cheese and eggs that make them crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. They’re like a dreamy, savory pancake. Pair these fritters with roasted chicken for a simple date night dinner or on a beautiful salad for a satisfying, vegetarian meal. Make a big batch - they reheat really nicely!

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  • 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chives, minced
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 1 T parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 7 T flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 T butter

Mix first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.

Season.

In another small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt to taste. 

Gently mix the flour mixture into the wet, artichoke mixture. 

Melt 1 T butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Sear 1/3 cup of batter in batches, 3-4 at a time, gently flattening with the measuring cup once in the pan.

Fry until golden brown on each side, 5-10 minutes total. 

Remove to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and season with salt. 

After the first batch, you may need to add another T of butter to finish the fritters.

Fritters can be kept warm on the wire rack an oven on low heat, 200 degrees or lower. 

Makes about 10 fritters.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Want to pretend like you’re healthy? Put oats in your cookies so they don’t feel quite as indulgent. For these I just took an oatmeal raisin recipe and subbed the chocolate chips for the raisins. I actually love the cinnamon and brown sugar with the chocolate chips. Cookie time!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 3 T milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.

Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter with sugars and beat until light and fluffy.

Add vanilla, milk, and eggs and mix well.

Add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Remove bowl and stir in oats and chocolate chips.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop 2 T of dough and roll into a ball.

Place on prepared sheet.

Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 3 inches apart.

Press down gently to flatten.

Bake until golden but still soft in center, about 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.

Cool on wire racks.

Enjoy!