Backyard To Ballroom | Personal Chef Services

Scroll to Info & Navigation

Smoky Southwest Superfoods Salad

image

I developed this salad for the newsletter for the amazing ladies at Swell Studio Pilates. Swell is an awesome reformer pilates studio, offering challenging (but manageable) group or private classes that make a huge difference in your body in a short period of time. It’s fun, upbeat, and everyone is so nice! I really don’t like exercising that much, so I’m happy to have found an exercise program that I love. I urge anyone to try it!

Ok, back to the food- I love this salad because it takes advantage of the bountiful produce available locally right now. It’s also hearty enough to be a complete meal for anyone, even for dinner, especially if you add a little lean protein like chicken or fish. Nobody wants to eat a salad unless it’s satisfying and this light yet creamy dressing makes these super greens irresistible! Add all these super toppings and you’re ready to go. If there’s something you don’t like, leave it out, and if you want to add something, throw it in. You can customize this salad entirely to your own tastes. 

40 min + chilling time for pickled onions

8 side servings or 4 main course servings

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1/4 t chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 t coriander
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/4 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced (leave this out or remove seeds if you don’t like your food as spicy!)
  • pinch of kosher salt

Salad:

  • 6 cups super greens
  • 2 roasted poblanos, peeled, seeded, and diced (can also leave out for less heat or served raw to save time)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced 
  • 1 green tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup pepitas 
  • 2 ears corn, husked and kernels cut off the cob
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed if not organic
  • 1/4 cup pickled red onion (omit or serve raw to save time)
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • maldon or sea salt, to taste
  • Grilled chicken or fish (optional)

*See below for instructions on roasting peppers and pickling onions.

For dressing:

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and set aside while you prepare the salad.

For salad:

Combine greens and vegetables in a large bowl.

Toss with dressing to taste (I use about half to dress lightly).

Save the rest of the dressing for another use.

Toss salad gently and season with salt.

Enjoy!

To roast the peppers:

Either grill the peppers over high heat, or broil, until blackened all over.

Place in a ziplock bag for 10 minutes to steam.

Now the skin should easily peel off! 

Don’t worry about whatever skin doesn’t want to come off. 

Now you can seed and dice as you would a regular bell pepper.

Just be sure not to rinse under water; You don’t want to wash off the tasty oils.

To pickle the onions:

Slice a red onion thinly.

Bring 4 T red wine vinegar, 2 cups water and 1 t salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

Pour over sliced onion.

Chill completely before serving.

Roasted Honey Pecan Chicken Salad

There are only about a million different variations on chicken salad and we all have our 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, toast, a classic sandwich or 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! 

image

  • 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. 

image

  • 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! 

image

  • 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!

image

  • 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.