I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with learning how to relax. It sounds really silly when I say it out loud but because everyone can relax - right? After all, I've got lots of things that I like to do simply for fun, the problem is that I wouldn't necessarily describe them as relaxing. Hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, exercising, baking, cooking, gardening, and taking pictures are all things that I enjoy but none of them are inherently relaxing. Believe it or not, I do enjoy some activities that require me to sit down like sewing and playing the piano but those would definitely fall into a more arduous category because I'm not very proficient at either.
You've probably figured out by now, based on my list of activities that I enjoy, that I'm not a very good movie watcher or reader either. If I start a good book, I feel compelled to put aside all of my daily tasks and sequester myself in a room on a reading marathon until I finish it. I wish that I was the kind of girl who could pick up a book every evening and read one chapter before bed but ... I'm not.
I have a tendency to spend my day moving from one activity to another so quickly that I have to remind myself to breathe, relax and enjoy each moment. Why is it that the older I get, the faster time seems to pass?
Dinner is really the perfect time for me to practice my relaxation skills. I spend a lot of time on my feet and there are days when dinner is the very first chance that I get to sit in a chair all day long. Learning how to slow down and relax and enjoy my dinner is a process and quite honestly, some nights I do better than others. These Chicken and Peach Flatbreads are definitely one of those meals that are meant to be savored and appreciated. The complex blend of flavors is unique and best enjoyed with a glass of chilled white wine.
Chicken and Peach Flatbreads
3 prebaked pizza crusts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 garlic clove, minces
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup sliced peaches
1 1/2 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon balsamic glaze
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Sprinkle with torn basil leaves.
Slice and serve with a green salad.
I don't know why I've been on a flatbread kick lately but I just can't get enough of these thin crispy pizzas. I've been experimenting with all kinds of different flatbread toppings. I love the traditional margherita flatbread with basil and mozzarella but I also like trying new and unique toppings. This peach and ricotta topped flatbread may not be your cup of tea but I hope that it inspires you to find your own unique flatbread style. If you come up with an original creation - send me your idea - I'd love to try it.
This summer we were lucky enough to take not one but TWO family vacations. Since Ryan interned this summer in North Carolina, I was super excited about having him (and his beautiful girlfriend) join us on vacation for a week at a time. Our trips were all about reconnecting with family, laughing til our bellys hurt, playing games til we couldn't possibly stay awake any longer and consuming lots and lots of really amazing food.
I wouldn't have changed a thing about our vacations and I have some great memories and pictures from both of them. Unfortunately, memories and pictures weren't the only things that I brought home this summer. All of those trips to the seafood restaurants by the shore, cocktails by the sea and late night trips to the ice cream store caught up with me in the form of a few extra pounds. Now that we're done traveling for the summer, it's time for me to get back on track with my healthy eating plan. Blackened halibut sandwiches to the rescue.
Blackened Halibut Sandwiches
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (6 ounce) Halibut filets
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
1 Tablespoon ketchup
4 whole wheat buns
4 pickle slices
8 plum tomato slices
Top with pickle, tomato and filet.
Top with bun and enjoy!
My family absolutely gobbled up these yummy sandwiches. Even my child who really only eats fried fish - finished her entire sandwich. I bought frozen halibut filets and they were a little pricey but they were totally worth it. These sandwiches were AMAZING.
I recently read an article that compared grain fed beef to grass fed beef and I have to admit that I was quite surprised at the results. I really haven't previously given the whole grain fed vs. grass fed debate much thought because I'm not a ground beef eater. As a member of the food service community, I felt like I needed to be better educated about the differences between the two types of meat though. What I found was surprising.
According to Cooking Light - 100 grams of grain fed beef contains 1.87 total grams of fat and .80 grams of saturated fat. The same amount of grass fed beef contains 3.65 total grams of fat and 1.58 grams of saturated fat. That means that grass fed beef is 95% higher in total fat and 97% higher in saturated fat than grass fed beef!
Just for the sake of argument, I compared the grain fed beef to a piece of dark meat chicken of the same size. 100 grams of chicken thigh meat contains 7.20 total grams of fat and 2.09 grams of saturated fat. That means that the chicken thigh contains 285% more total fat than grass fed beef and 161% more saturated fat.
Anyone else surprised by the results? I have a whole new respect for grass fed beef. Now that I'm a more informed beef shopper, I no longer dismiss the more expensive packages of grass fed beef as a marketing ploy to charge more money for ground beef. I sought out some really great grass fed beef for these grass fed burgers, in fact. They were not only a big hit with my family - I felt better about feeding them beef that was lower in total fat and saturated fat.
Grass Fed Beef Burgers
1 teaspoon canola oil
3/4 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound 93% lean grass fed ground sirloin
4 cheddar cheese slices
4 whole wheat buns
4 tomato slices
4 bibb lettuce leaves
1 avocado, sliced
1 ounce dill pickle slices
This is my idea of a perfect burger - 10% beef, 10% bun and 80% vegetables. I love giving my family the challenge of trying to wrap their jaw around this massive burger.
These burgers were a big hit with my family. I'm not sure they noticed that these grass fed burgers tasted any differently that ordinary ground beef burgers but I knew that I was giving them a healthier burger. I love the fact that I was able to pile on a couple servings of vegetables on top of these burgers too.
Summer is the perfect time to get outside and barbecue. So today I'm sharing my new favorite summer barbecue recipe with all of you. Trust me when I tell you that you will be licking this delicious sauce off your spoon, your plate AND your fingers because you will not want to waste even a single drop. It's just that good. You should probably just go ahead and make a double batch because you will want to have plenty of extra. I know that this sauce tastes great on chicken but I'm sure it would be equally tantalizing on ribs or even shrimp.
Grilled Chicken with Bourbon Cherry Barbecue Sauce
3 cups frozen cherries, pitted and thawed
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
4 split chicken breasts
Remove chicken from grill and allow to rest.
Serve chicken with reserved sauce.
It's really hard to tell from these pictures but this sauce was the most beautifully ruby red colored barbecue sauce that I've ever seen. I don't know if I've ever referred to barbecue sauce as "beautiful" but this shiny, deep burgundy sauce really was pretty AND it was just as delicious as it was beautiful.
What do you do when you want to pre-make some meals for a crowd? You make a giant pot of paella. Chicken, clams, shrimp, chorizo, rice and peas all cooked in one cast iron pot on the grill. (There's a little something for everyone in this steaming pot of seafood goodness.)
My dad is the one who introduced me to this delicous one pot meal last summer. He used a Cook's Illustrated recipe to create his version of paella and then shared with me his modifications. My dad used a 10x13 pan to make his paella but since I didn't have a similar pan, I decided to make do with the pan that I had - a cast iron dutch oven.
I have to admit that I didn't expect the normally picky eaters who live in this house to love this paella as much as they did. I really thought they would eat a small helping to be polite but they just kept piling spoonful after spoonful onto thier plates.
2 pounds chicken thighs
16 ounces jumbo shrimp
6 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
8 ounce bottle clam juice
2/3 cup dry sherry
pinch saffron threads
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers
3 cups Arborio rice
1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 pound chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup frozen peas
Arrange chicken over rice. Pour broth mixture and juices over chicken.
Sprinkle peas evenly over paella, cover grill and cook until liquid is fully absorbed and rice on the bottom sizzles. (5-8 minutes)
Remove pan from grill and cover with foil. Let stand 10 minutes.
This paella is super tasty and somehow the flavors just get even better the longer it sits in the refrigerator. I left the leftover paella in the dutch oven and stored it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. I pulled it out and put the whole pot in the oven to reheat and serve to my family for lunch on Christmas Eve. It was nice to have this fully cooked meal ready to reheat and eat on such a busy day.
Just make sure that you invite your friends and family over when you make this recipe - it's makes plenty for everyone.
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