Watermelon & Feta Salad, SRC June

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Hi friends!

I can’t wait to share today’s recipe with you- it’s delicious, healthy, and full of juicy summer flavor.  I just love a watermelon salad!

The recipe today comes from another talented blogger, “The Tasty Gardener“, my pairing for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.  The Secret Recipe Club is a really cool group I joined a little while back.  Every month, we are assigned a new blogger.  We get to pick ANY recipe that blogger has written about and cook it up ourselves.  We can make adjustments according to our tastes too.  All of the bloggers post their results on the same day and we all get to see who had who and more importantly, what delicious dishes were made!

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups Spring Mix Lettuce

1 cup Watermelon, chopped into small chunks

1/4 cup Reduced Fat Feta Cheese, chopped or crumbled

2 slices Sweet Onion, chopped

1/4 Red Bell Pepper, chopped

Mint Leaves

Cilantro Leaves

Olives, Sunflower Seeds, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Place lettuce in a bowl or tupperware container.  Add chopped ingredients and top with mint and cilantro.  Add with other salad toppings such as sunflower seeds and olives and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add 1-2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar and ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from:  The Tasty Gardener

The original recipe was more like a side salad, but I wanted to turn that recipe into a lunch appropriate salad with fresh lettuce and more veggies.  The flavors are just fantastic and the juicy watermelon is such a nice addition to my lunchtime salad.  It gives not only a sweetness but a crunchy texture bursting with flavor.  I loved it!

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Now take a moment to check out these other fab recipes from this month’s SRC Reveal:

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

I’m finally back on track with the blog people.

I’ve been running around like crazy (as always) but this time, I was getting ready for my first vacation with Dave in a year and a half!!  We just returned late last night and I cannot wait to tell you all about it soon.  Our trip took us to Seattle and Vancouver… and was full of lots of fun sightseeing, exploring, family time, and of course good food & drink.

The view from our run in Vancouver.  Absolutely gorgeous!  Worth torturing myself for a few miles while on vacation...

The view from our run in Vancouver. Absolutely gorgeous! Worth torturing myself for a few miles while on vacation…

I just wanted to make you really jealous and give you a preview… this beautiful picture was taken on our run along the beach one morning in Vancouver.  How gorgeous?

Feeling selfish lately after basically neglecting you all, I thought it’d be only fair to give you a new recipe today… a really awesome one.  I saw this recipe on a blog that I’m just loving, it’s called Iowa Girl Eats.  Check it out!  I think Kristin’s pictures on her blog are absolutely amazing.  Anyway, I saw her Mediterranean Orzo Salad in March and realized that I had all of the ingredients at home… my favorite type of recipe.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Makes 4 Servings as a side dish

Ingredients:
4oz Orzo
1 handful Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 5oz container Reduced Fat Feta Crumbles
1/4 cup Olives, sliced 
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped (I used my handy dandy freeze-dried herbs again)
2 Tablespoons Capers
1/4 cup Lemon Juice (2 Lemons)
1 teaspoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
1/4 cup EVOO or other Oil (grapeseed)
Directions:
1.  Cook Orzo in a large pot of salted water, boiling until al dente as the box instructs.  Drain, set aside.
2.  Make the dressing.  Whisk or blend the lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper (pinches of each, taste test).  Slowly drizzle in the oil while pulsing the blender or whisking if you’re not using the blender.  
3.  Combine tomatoes, feta, olives, parsley, and capers in a large bowl.  Add cooked orzo and the dressing.  Toss to combine.  
*This can be served warm or room temp.  Also, if you’re planning on not eating right away, save some dressing on the side so you can top it off before you’re ready to eat it.  The pasta will probably have soaked up a lot overnight.*

Recipe slightly adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats

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I decided to make this to eat as a side for both lunch and dinner.  It was a delicious change of pace for us, since I rarely ever make pasta salads.  The pasta salad had such great flavor from the freshness of the lemon juice and the salty from the olives and capers.  Yummy, simple yet special.

You should be warned though that I don’t like my pasta salad drenched in oil, so I halved the oil that the original recipe calls for.  If you don’t like yours on the dry side, I’d recommend doubling the dressing.

Be on the lookout for my post in the next week or so about our trip!

 

Tuna (salad) Salad & Chicken Cutlet Salad

I HATE when i run out of things to eat for dinner.  In a perfect world, I’d have a whole menu plan complete with 5 different recipes to try out every night of the week.  Of course… I do NOT live in that dream world… I live in a world where I’m on a budget, I have to workout after work is over and get home at 7pm (on an early day).  In that world, I’m LUCKY if I have an interesting dinner that’s not pre-planned all week.

Do you have nights like that?  Where you come home starving, with not much time to throw together a quick meal?  These nights have become my specialty.

A great solution to this problem is to throw together a nice big salad with a bunch of stuff you have in your kitchen already.  My salads on nights like these don’t always necessarily match or have homemade dressings or fancy cheeses… but they are fun, usually colorful, and a healthy way to end my night!

Tuna Salad Salad:  Baby Lettuce Mix, Grape Tomatoes, Mandarin Oranges, Olives, Blueberries, Blue Cheese, and a nice scoop of 1/2 Can Tuna Salad (using Canola Mayo and not very much of it).  I also topped this one off with “garlic bread” made from some leftover whole wheat burger buns from another meal.  I throw on some spray butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder & smoked paprika.  Stick it in the toaster.  Dee-lish.  To change it up- add some Frank’s Hot Sauce in your tuna… Dave LOVES this.  Top it all off with Ken’s Light Asian Sesame Dressing or just some Balsamic Vinegar.  

Chicken Cutlet Salad:  Baby Lettuce Mix, Grape Tomatoes, Mandarin Oranges, Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, Cherry Peppers, Feta Cheese, Carrots, one serving (5 lol) Fat Free Croutons, and 1 Low Fat Perdue Chicken Cutlet- cooked and chopped.  Top with Ken’s Light Northern Italian Dressing.  YUM!

Healthy Dinner Idea: Steak, Baked Potato, & TBM

It’s hard to eat healthy and keep yourself interested in what you’re eating.  I know it’s easy to get stuck making the same things over and over again because they’re safe.  You know how many calories, or points, or whatever you count… and it’s not hard to get stuck in a dinner rut.

I have been trying to avoid this dinner rut by making new and exciting meals but keeping to my diet.  I make a lot of chicken, salmon, eggs, and tons of salads.  This week, I wanted to expand my horizons and try out steak.  

Of course, I love steak, and I’ve eaten it a million times… but with my new diet, and my the advice of John the Dietitian, I have to stick with lean beef– not the usual Rib Eye.  😦

The cut of meat I decided to try out first was a Top Sirloin Steak.  It was super cheap at the market, and I could see just by looking at it that there wasn’t much fat in it.  I marinated the steak in a gallon ziplock back for about an hour.  The marinade consisted of a little bit of Sunflower Oil (Trader Joe’s), Worcestershire Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, & Minced Garlic.  Pretty simple.  I cooked the steak in my new cast iron skillet, for maybe five minutes on each side.  I took the steak off and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

The steak was a little bit more tough than my typical Rib-Eye, but it was still really good.  The pieces that were on the rarer-side were even more delicious, so I might try to not overcook it next time.  I also would love to try an Asian marinade too!

Yummy steak!

Along with the steak, we baked some potatoes.  I was inspired by Robert Irvine’s Hasselback’s Roasted Potatoes that were featured on “Best Thing I Ever Made” which looked absolutely bomb.  (amazing) lol.  

Robert Irvine’s Hasselback Potatoes…. WOW! Wish mine came out that way… lol.

Since his potatoes are drenched in butter, basted with butter, then cooked with 3 Cheeses… I decided to just take his method from the Hasselbacks.  I sliced the potatoes 3/4 of the way down into several thin slices.  This opened up the potato which allows it to fully bake on the inside but get nice and crispy on the outside.  

First, I soaked the 3/4 of the way cut poatoes in a big bowl with lemon juice (plop the lemon in there too!).  This was also inspired by Robert Irvine and prevents the potatoes from turning color!  I also think it kept it nice and fluffy too.  When I was ready to bake them, I took them out, patted them dry, and sprayed them with just a touch of Olive Oil & Salt & Pepper.  Four of these were baked in the oven on 400 degrees ontop of a foil-lined baking sheet.   They turned out great.

Make sure you don’t slice them all the way through! They will open up just a crack when they bake.

Finally, in the grand story of this exciting new meal, I’ll tell you about the TBM. I actually happened to make these first!  I started this meal off with a nice, fresh , little salad topped with Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella.  

The tomatoes I used for this experiment were “Kumato“s.  From my recent Wegmans shopping trip, they’re just smaller tomatoes… they’re a little bit sweeter than Grape Tomatoes and have a reddish-brown color.  I love them.  

They might be “ugly” tomatoes, but they’re so sweet

I stacked slices of the Kumatos with a small square of fresh Part-Skim Mozzarella, and small Basil leaves.  They were finished off with a splash of Balsamic Vinegar & just a pinch of Sea Salt & Pepper.  For showing-off-to-you-people purposes, I held it all together with a basil-topped toothpick.  MMM!

How pretty! Super easy too…

Finished product

Do you have a meal that you’ve recently tried for the first time?  – OR – Do you normally keep to the same rotation of dinners?  

How cute is Miss Stella?! She’s snuggling with her crab stuffed animal. Had to throw this one in there!

Summer Salad

Usually when I come home from work and working out, the last thing I feel like doing is making a fancy dinner.  If I put together a salad or some stir-fry… chances are that I won’t be writing about it on the blog.

With that being said, this “ordinary” weeknight dinner salad was just too pretty and too delicious to not brag about!

Summer Salad

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Makes 1 Serving @  5 WW Points
Ingredients:
1/4 Head Iceberg Lettuce, torn
1/4 Champagne Mango
1/4 Cucumber
1/4 Avocado
1 slice Bacon, cooked crisp
6 Grape Tomatoes
4 Green Beans
Green Onion, Sea Salt &  Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Sunflower Seeds
1/4 lb Cooked Shrimp
Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
Directions:
1.  Chop all of the ingredients except the shrimp.  Mix in a large bowl with the iceberg lettuce.  Pull the tails off of the shrimp and top the mixed salad.
2.  Dress the salad with some chopped green onion, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Sprinkle w/ a teaspoon of Sunflower Seeds.  Drizzle w/ Strawberry (or plain) Balsamic Vinegar.

Loved this salad!  I am not a big fan of raw veggies, so my salads tend to rely on the heavier, less healthy items such as chicken, cheeses, croutons, nuts, etc.  This salad was the perfect combination of the “good” stuff & the “bad” stuff.  I don’t put oil on my salads when I use Vinegar, and trust me, you aren’t missing it.  The touch of salt and pepper enhances the flavors and makes everything delish!

As ginormous as this salad is, believe it or not, it only racks up FIVE Weight Watchers Points.  FIVE!  OMG!

Asian BBQ’ed Chicken & Grilled Romaine

I’m ready for summer!  That means its time to get out the scrubber and clean off the BBQ!

5-Ingredient Asian Marinade

for BBQ Chicken
Ingredients:
4 Shakes Hot Chili Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce
2 teaspoons Sweet Chili Sauce
4 teaspoons Teriyaki Sauce
1 teaspoon Honey
Directions:
1.  Place 2 chicken breasts in a freezer bag.  Add all 5 sauce ingredients.  Zip up and mush the chicken around in the bag (with the bag closed!) until the sauce is mixed well.  Put in the refrigerator for an hour.  Flip the bag over once during that time.
2.  After it sits for a while, take the chicken out.  Fire up your barbie (cleaned and sprayed with Pam BEFORE lighting).  Place chicken on the grill over medium to medium high heat.  Depending on thickness, heat flipping once until it looks done.  If you aren’t sure, go ahead and take a piece off, cut it in the middle and make sure it’s no longer pink.  Put it back on if it’s not done.
3.  That’s ALL!!!

I’m not the best judge with checking to see if my chicken is done.  I’m so paranoid that I always end up taking it off too late when it’s all dried out.  This time around, I made sure to not over-cook it and it was perfect!  You can use this chart for some helpful tips!

Chicken marinating…

I was able to get some nice grill marks on there!

I served this sweet and spicy chicken over a really yummy salad… with GRILLED ROMAINE!  Have you ever had it before?  It’s so good!  It was so easy to do and I will absolutely be using this again, really soon!

Grilled Romaine

Ingredients:
2 heads Romaine, rinsed and patted dry
Olive Oil sprayer
Salt & Pepper
Directions:
1.  Slice the romaine in half, lengthwise with a large knife so you make it through the entire head, leaving the bottom white part in tact.  Pat dry and let sit for 5 minutes.  Spray with an oil sprayer, or carefully lightly drizzle olive oil on.  You really don’t want to use too much.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2.  Fire up your Barbie!  You’ll only need medium-low heat for these babies so make sure it’s not too high.  Place the lettuce slice-side-down onto the grill.  Let the sit for 5 minutes before checking on them.  Once they are starting to get some grill marks, cook for another minute or two, then using tongs, take off of the grill.
3.  Cut off the white-ends of the lettuce, cut up and serve in a salad!

cut the romaine length-wise so the leaves stay together

finished product!

This was so delish!  You seriously won’t believe how easy it is and how much of a difference it will make to your salad.  Try it!!!

The rest of the stuff in this salad were some strawberries, dried currants, sunflower seeds, red bell pepper, celery, a hot cherry pepper and some blue cheese crumbles.  It all came together really well with the chicken and some Ken’s Light Asian Sesame.

yummy salad with both the romaine and the chicken

SBS Salad

“It’s a salad… only bigger… with lots of stuff in it”… Elaine Benes said it right when she made the “Big Salad” a hit back in the ’90’s.  In my house, “big salad” night is always quite the production.  Everyone is in the kitchen, rinsing, chopping, and even sometimes cooking to prepare their own version of the big salad.  You can always find bacon in my Dad’s, onion in my Mom’s, and blue cheese in mine.  We all have our favorites and this dinner is an easy one to personalize.  

If you didn’t catch these before, check out two of my favorite salads:  The Fajita Salad & the Mish-Mosh Salad.  We had just gone food shopping this week so our fresh ingredients were plentiful and this salad turned out beautiful!  I love when I manage to get so many colors in one bowl.  

I call this one (oh, and naming them for the blog makes the entire process so much more fun) the SBS Salad and boy was it delicious!!

SBS Salad (Strawberry, Blue, & Shrimp)

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Ingredients:
2 Cups Romaine, chopped
5 Shrimp, cooked, chilled, chopped
2 Tablespoons Blue Cheese Crumbles
3 Strawberries, washed & sliced
1/2 Carrot, shaved with a vegetable peeler
2 Tablespoons Purple Cabbage, sliced
1 Hot Cherry Pepper, seeded & sliced
1 Tablespoon Sliced & Roasted Almonds
5 Yellow Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half
5 Fat Free Croutons
2 Tablespoons Ken’s Light Asian Sesame (my FAV dressing)

I’m pretty sure that this salad is better than Elaine’s at Monk’s!  YUM!  

What’s your favorite “big salad” topping?