Sunday, June 12, 2016

Spring Chicken Salad

Well yes, even though it's still technically spring, it's hit over the 100 degree mark in many of our states by now, so that means most of you are hitting the beaches, lakes, parks, and trails with your kids, grandkids, dogs, and best friends on summer vacation activities.  And even those of us with more than a few decades behind us still want (and need) to keep up with those little ones.  Basically, we all want to feel like... let's say it together... a Spring Chicken! 

We have the DESIRE to eat healthy, but it must fit certain criteria, dangit!  We want our meal to taste great, to fill us up, to be visually appealing, to be balanced with textures and flavors - creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, savory, smooth... you name it - we WANT it!  And oh yes, can it please be healthy?  And for some of us, can it please be gluten free?  Can I make up the components ahead of time and throw it together in the morning?  For the guys - Will it have enough protein to keep my blood sugar level and not feel like something "a girl" would eat?  Can I have my dressing on the side?  Can the dressing multitask and be used for something my kidlets like?   YES!  YES!  YES!  Let's do healthy together.  You're going to love it!  


Salad Ingredients:
  • Your choice of salad mix
    • shown is a mix of Romaine and organic spring salad mix
  • Seasoned and grilled chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
    • can be made and portioned ahead of time
  • Dried cranberries
  • Apples cut into matchsticks
  • Candied black pepper walnuts
    • see link to make walnuts or substitute purchased glazed nuts
  • Herbed goat cheese, crumbled over salad
  • *Optional grating of Romano cheese over the top
  • Honey Dijon vinaigrette (recipe below)
Honey Dijon Vinaigrette (yield 7 cups)
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 1/4 cup canola oil 

Method:
Begin by making the Honey Dijon Vinaigrette.  This amazing dressing can be kept covered in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and is fabulous on chicken tenders, coconut shrimp, etc.   We make a bunch of it at a time; but you can feel free to cut the recipe in half if you'd like.  

Add the first 6 ingredients to your blender.  Do not add the oil yet.
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup water
1 tsp kosher salt (not table salt)
1 tsp large ground black pepper 
1/4 cup honey
Stop here!  Don't add the canola oil along with the rest of the ingredients.
3 1/4 cup canola oil
(We actually use a mixture of canola/sunflower oil, but that's probably hard to find.)
Okay, with the first six ingredients in your blender, get it started... then slowly pour in the canola oil with the blender going.  We want to emulsify the dressing and make it light, fluffy, and silky.

There is a big color change from a darker yellow to a pale yellow, and the texture is way different now.  It is light and airy and very silky.
Pour your dressing into an airtight container for storage.   Isn't it beautiful?  :)
Now, for the salad, start with you greens, then top with all the pieces and parts in the amounts you would like.  That's all there is to it.  Enjoy!  

You've got protein from the grilled chicken, the goat cheese, and from the walnuts.  You've got tons of antioxidants in the cranberries, walnuts and spinach, and vitamins and minerals from the leafy greens.  You've got juicy sweet apples for sweetness to balance out the tartness of the honey Dijon... let's face it... you've got it all in this one!  

Busy mom/dad tips - 
  • There are cute little 2 oz salad dressing containers available in the stores.  You can pre-portion your dressing and have some ready to go for your brown bag lunch in the morning.  
  • Pre-portion your other ingredients in ziptop backs to have them ready to throw together: grilled  chicken, cranberries, etc.  
  • This also makes a fabulous "big salad" for a family reunion or large function.
  • If you are going to chop up your apples ahead of time, either sprinkle them with Fruit Fresh or give them a quick bath in acidulated water (water containing some lemon or lime juice) to prevent them from oxidizing.  But this is a step you can easily do in the morning.  
  • Do yourself a favor a make up a batch of the walnuts.  Not only are they super healthy (including tons of melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants as well as supporting brain health), but they are so  so so delicious!!!  They also make great gifts!  (Think - Father's Day!) 
And don't forget, June is officially "Men's Health" month!  So in honor of all the men that we love in our lives, check out this cute graphic.  Feel free to click on it for Easy Tips for Leading a Healthier Life from https://nuts.com/nuts/.  
Written Method:
Prepare dressing first.  Add first six ingredients into blender, then slowly pour canola oil into blender while it is processing other ingredients until dressing is light and fluffy.  Store covered in the refrigerator.

Salad - Start with salad greens and top with other ingredients as desired.

I hope you enjoyed this amazingly delicous recipe!

There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and make great gifts all year long!  For more information, here is a link!
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.
Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Creamy Italian Sausage and Tortellini







Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Knife Skills Training for Kids


Hey out there, guys and gals!  
It's summer.. and that means, kiddos needing to be entertained...and cooked for.  Well how about we turn this little thing around and get THEM cooking?!   You are going to LOVE this!!!!  and it's FREE!!!!! 

My friend Katie is pulling a couple videos out of her Kids Cook Real FoodeCourse and offering them for free as a special gift to you!  This whole series is an excellent opportunity to get your kids in the kitchen and learn some great skills this summer.  Katie is a teacher, and she's awesome.  :)

When she did this last January, over 7,000 families signed up to teach kids knife safety and techniques. I’m so excited that it's happening again so you get a chance too!


There's one to watch with your kids that will demonstrate how to safely handle dull and sharp knives (you decide which on depending on their age and maturity), and then there are two more training videos for YOU to help you feel completely comfortable and confident giving your kids sharp knives.

I know some parents might feel like they need 3 or 4 chances to feel comfortable, but I'm confident you'll be ready after the two important videos Katie is putting together for you. ;)

Don't worry if you feel like you have a busy day or week - just sign up so that you have access to all 3 videos as soon as they're each available, and you'll get reminders to make it happen through June 6.


What you'll learn in these short videos:
  • Basic knife skills and techniques for kids age two to teen
  • Mastery of the three safe ways to hold food while cutting
  • How child development impacts your child's readiness to learn new skills
  • The #1 mistake that destroys your chance of enjoying time in the kitchen with your kids
  • A tested 3-step process for teaching kids in the kitchen so young cooks learn basic skills the right way
Here’s a note from a sweet grandma who emailed after signing up last January:

Loved this video. I sent the information off to my daughter-in law who has already started to teach the 5 & 7 year olds to cook. She's a teacher too and will love how you broke the process down. Thanks!

See what all the buzz is about and get those kids in the kitchen!
And seriously... the price is right - it's free!!!  


Julie

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Meatball stuffed Buns


Do you guys remember these little beauties?  I just got an email telling me that the Meatball Stuffed Buns made it to the ListsForAll.com Top 10 Best Appetizers list!  WooHoo!!!  So if you are new to the blog, and have never come across this fun little appetizer; or maybe you've forgotten about it.. you may want to check it out again!  :) 

They are super duper easy and make a great afterschool snack, or just a "some friends are coming over" snack for those of you who may not have kiddos.  Because who can resist an Italian meatball and warm mozzarella inside a bun dipped in warm marinara?  Ummm... not me!  Want to go all out and use your own homemade meatballs?  Be my guest.  But I'll show you the down and dirty "quickie" version using your favorite frozen meatballs - because this one is for busy moms.  Can I get an "Amen?"  

So hop on over to the link I've provided to the original recipe where I have provided the complete step-by-step photos to making these cuties, as well as a short YouTube video tutorial.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Pillsbury golden layers biscuits - each pulled into 2 layers (or bun dough)
  • 10 frozen fully cooked italian style meatballs - thawed and cut in half
  • 5 sticks string cheese - cut each into 4 pieces each
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • cracked black pepper
  • marinara sauce

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Decadent Chocolate Truffles


Chocolate truffles are SOoooo easy to make.  You pay a fortune for them at a chocolate shop, but you certainly don't have to.  Gather together some fun friends and have a great time making these for someone you love.  You can flavor them with liqueur if you'd like, but we made ours straight up with easy-to-obtain pantry staples.  These make such special gifts or party favors.  You'll be super glad you did!  It's true, you can go out and buy the "store bought ones," but when you give a homemade gift like this, the recipient is always truly overjoyed! 

Print this Page

Ingredients: (2 dozen)

  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp or 1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla 
  • various optional toppings of your choice
    • dark cocoa powder
    • chocolate candy coating
    • shredded coconut 
    • crumbled shortbread cookies
    • chopped pecans
    • colored sugar crystals
    • etc (be creative as you'd like) 

Step-by-Step:
In a medium sized bowl, combine 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips plus 1/2 cup room temperature (or slightly melted) butter.

 
In a medium (but heavy duty) pot, gently warm the 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream until it is at a simmer.  You will notice the bubbles start to form around the edges of the pot.  Here is where I will tell you to watch it carefully.  You do not want it to come to a boil.  You just want it heated.
Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and butter.  Whisk them together.  This is where the magic starts to happen.  :) 
 You can get someone to start whisking for you while you add the other stuff.  (It's not essential to have a helper, but it is a fun place to allow kids to help.)  Add in the 3/4 tsp of kosher salt, and the 1 tsp of vanilla.  
All at once, the mixture starts coming together... like magic.  It looks - divine.  It smells - divine!  It tastes - DIVINE! 
I just HAD to add these pictures in here.  I know they aren't clear, because the lens focused on the rim of the bowl.  But the camera captured more than that.  The looks on their faces tell the story here. The smell...... Mmmm.  The texture..... Oooooh when it all comes together at once.  This, my friends, is the fun of cooking with your kids.  :)

Now you can add it to a shallow dish that you have lined with plastic food wrap.  It can be a cookie sheet or a casserole dish or whatever you choose.  Sometimes teamwork is the best way to go here.
Spread it out into an even layer.

Allow it to cool in the fridge a couple of hours to overnight.  Then I sort of scored it with a pizza cutter so that I could get the same amount of ganache in each truffle.   
You need to work quickly, because your hands are warm.  Keep in in the cold pan while you are working.  Quickly roll them into a ball.
Set the balls out onto parchment paper when you've rolled them.  Now these need to go BACK into the fridge for about an hour before you dip them or roll them into anything. 
The simplest truffles resemble the truffle mushrooms, so they get rolled into dark chocolate cocoa powder. 
For the rest, just use your imagination.  I purchased some chocolate candy coating that you melt either over a double boiler or in the microwave, dipped them, then while they were still wet, sprinkled them with whichever topping we chose and allowed them to dry.  It's that simple. 
Then go out and buy a cute little box, add some gift wrap tissue, your beautiful truffles, and you are all set to make someone's day!

I hope you enjoyed this fabulous and easy recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  

Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.


You can also visit my YouTube page to check out short cooking video tutorials.Here is an example of one forCoconut Lime Chicken!  YUM!!  Just click the picture and view it right in this page.
Here are some bonus recipes for you:
Happy Hour Pizza Rolls

Short Cut Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Korean BBQ Shish Kabobs

Yogurt Marinated Greek Style Chicken Gyros

Written Method:

Step-by-Step:
In a medium sized bowl, combine 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips plus 1/2 cup room temperature (or slightly melted butter).  In a separate medium (but heavy duty) pot, gently warm the 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream until it is at a simmer.  You will notice the bubbles start to form around the edges of the pot.  Here is where I will tell you to watch it carefully.  You do not want it to come to a boil.  You just want it heated. 

Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and butter.  Whisk them together.  This is where the magic starts to happen.  You can get someone to start whisking for you while you add the other stuff.  (It's not essential to have a helper, but it is a fun place to allow kids to help.)  Add in the 3/4 tsp of kosher salt, and the 1 tsp of vanilla.

Now you can add it to a shallow dish that you have lined with plastic food wrap.  It can be a cookie sheet or a casserole dish or whatever you choose. Spread it out into an even layer.  Allow it to cool in the fridge a couple of hours to overnight.  Then I sort of scored it with a pizza cutter so that I could get the same amount of ganache in each truffle.   You need to work quickly, because your hands are warm.  Keep in in the cold pan while you are working.  Quickly roll them into a ball.  Set the balls out onto parchment paper when you've rolled them.  Now these need to go BACK into the fridge for about an hour before you dip them or roll them into anything. 

The simplest truffles resemble the truffle mushrooms, so they get rolled into dark chocolate cocoa powder.  For the rest, just use your imagination. I purchased some chocolate candy coating that you melt either over a double boiler or in the microwave, dipped them, then while they were still wet, sprinkled them with whichever topping we chose and allowed them to dry.  It's that simple.  Then go out and buy a cute little box, add some gift wrap tissue, your beautiful truffles, and you are all set to make someone's day!

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