Chopped salad with avocado and gorgonzola

The second meal of this week is an easy salad. You can put it together in 15 minutes and it is so yummy! It doesn’t seem like avocado and gorgonzola go together- but they do! They are so delicious together in this salad. It makes my mouth water just thinking about the creamy, tangy gorgonzola with the yummy balsamic vinaigrette. Make this salad- you won’t regret it =)

Chopped salad with avocado and gorgonzola

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar                                                                                               1 tablespoon red wine vinegar                                                                                           1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil                                                                                                   2 teaspoons honey                                                                                                                 1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                       1/4 teaspoon pepper                                                                                                                 1 avacado, cut into bite sized pieces                                                                               Juice of 1/4 of a lemon                                                                                                            1 bag romaine lettuce, chopped into small pieces                                                              1/4 of a red onion, chopped                                                                                                   5 slices bacon, cooked till crisp and chopped-microwavable bacon works fine if you are in a hurry!                                                                                                                           3 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese                                                                                 1/3 cup crumbled tortilla chips

– Wisk together the first 6 ingredients for the vinaigrette- set aside.

– Sprinkle the lemon juice over the avocado and add to a large salad bowl.

– Add the remaining ingredients. Pour the vinaigrette over and toss.

Serve for crusty bread to soup up the delicious vinaigrette. Serves 4.

The yummy crispy bacon
The yummy crispy bacon
Perfectly ripe avocado with the onions
Perfectly ripe avocado with the onions
Sprinkling on the cheese
Sprinkling on the cheese
All done!
All done!

Creamy chicken soup for the soul

After a long day- curling up with this soup and my family is perfect. I can throw it together quickly- I often do it at nap time and then just let it sit at low on the stove or at 200 degrees in the oven till it is time to eat. If you don’t eat meat use vegetable broth and omit the chicken. This is a great dish to take a friend who is sick or just needs a pick me up! It is so easy to transport and tastes even better the next day. Enjoy!

Creamy chicken soup

5 slices of bacon cut into small chunks- optional                                                               1 tablespoon olive oil                                                                                                                 1 1/2 tablespoons butter                                                                                                           2 chicken breasts cut into small bite size chunks                                                               2 1/2 teaspoons salt- divided                                                                                                   2 teaspoons pepper- divided                                                                                                   1 1/2 teaspoons paprika- divided                                                                                           3 teaspoons Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning- divided                                             4 small yellow potatoes peeled and cubed                                                                           3 carrots chopped                                                                                                                     1 medium yellow onion chopped                                                                                             1 celery stalk chopped                                                                                                               2 cloves garlic minced                                                                                                               3 tablespoons flour                                                                                                                 1/4 cup vermouth or other white wine                                                                                 4 cups or 1 cup chicken stock                                                                                             3/4 cup half & half

– In a large pot cook the bacon if using it. Cook till crispy- set aside.

– Take bacon grease out of pan. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Add the chicken. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash seasoning. Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes on medium- high heat till they get a little brown.

– Add the vegetables except the garlic. Put the remaining olive oil and butter in and stir the pot. Add one more teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash seasoning. Cook on medium- high heat for three minutes. You aren’t looking for everything to be cooked just to be some brown on the veggies for flavor.

– Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.

– Add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.

– Add the vermouth and let it cook away.

– Add the chicken stock and remaining seasonings. Bring to a boil.

– Once boiling add the bacon back in. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add the half & half before serving and season to taste.

The yummy soup!
The yummy soup!

Serves 4-6. Serve with crescent rolls.

I recommend using Kitchen Basics stock with this recipe. It is such a yummy stock! Hope you love it =) Tune in tomorrow for chopped salad with gorgonzola and avocado!

Meal planning for a busy week

On Sundays I am always thinking about what we are going to eat for meals that week. When the boys are napping I scribble out a list of meals and things I need to buy at the store. I got all of the items at the store yesterday for under $100- which isn’t bad considering I bought lunch and snack items too! Here the meals I am going to make this week:

– Creamy chicken soup with crescent rolls. I love that veggies and protein are all in one pot. And leftovers are great for lunches the next day.

– Chopped salad with gorgonzola and avocado. I put a balsamic vinaigrette on this- so yummy.

– Quick spaghetti bolognese. I cheat on this dish and dress up my favorite store-bought marinara sauce with ground beef, shredded carrots and onions and red wine. A rich, hearty meal.

– Thai chicken curry. One of our favorite meals! Coconut milk, lime and red curry. I serve it over basmati rice.

– Stir fried rice. The cheapest, easiest meal! Use the leftover rice from the curry, and veggies you have around. I use carrots, onions, garlic and chives. Topped with soy sauce, lemon and butter- I real treat!

I am going to post the recipes throughout the week! But if you interested here is what you will need at the grocery store:

Creamy chicken soup- bacon- optional, olive oil, butter, chicken breasts, Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning, paprika, salt, pepper, onions, yellow potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, flour, vermouth or white wine, chicken stock, half and half, and crescent rolls.

Chopped salad with gorgonzola and avocado- olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, romaine lettuce, red onions, bacon, avocado, lemon and tortilla chips. French bread- optional.

Quick spaghetti bolognese– Spaghetti, onion, carrot, garlic, ground beef, salt, pepper, fresh thyme and or rosemary or Italian seasoning, red wine, marinara sauce and sugar.

Thai chicken curry- Basmati rice, chicken broth, olive oil, chicken, curry powder, salt, pepper, onions, red pepper, garlic, ginger, red curry paste, coconut milk, lime and sugar.

Stir-fried rice- Vegetable oil, butter, eggs-optional, onions, carrots, garlic, Rice- leftover or fresh, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lemon, pepper, chives.

Later today I will be posting the creamy chicken soup recipe. This is a quick soup that can be done from chopping to eating in one hour.

Happy meal planning! These recipes I am posting this week are all sure family pleasers that are easy! If I can do it with two into everything little boys- anyone can =)

Cinco de Mayo Dinner- Fresh Mexican Salad

With two children under three I am constantly cooking dinner in under 30 minutes, and with a child screaming at me. It sometimes has to be a quick, simple dinner. Of course there are special dinners- I love cooking those! The children are sleeping or being entertained by husband, and I can cook in peace. That is a treat. But on those ordinary days fresh mexican salad is an easy, yummy meal that my husband and I love!

Fresh Mexican Salad

For the dressing:                                                                                                                   1/2 cup salsa                                                                                                                               2 teaspoons red wine vinegar                                                                                             3/4 teaspoon sugar                                                                                                           Juice of 1/2 a lime divided                                                                                                       2 tablespoons olive oil                                                                                                         1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                   1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the salad:                                                                                                                          3 cups lettuce- a combination of romaine and iceberg                                                 1/4 of a red onion chopped                                                                                                     1/2 cup corn frozen corn defrosted                                                                                   1/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple                                                                                       1/4 cup canned black beans drained                                                                                     1  avacado chopped                                                                                                           Juice of 1/2 a lime                                                                                                       optional 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro                                                                                 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese                                                                                     1/2 cup tortilla chips crunched

– Combine all of the salad ingredients with the dressing. Toss and serve.

Dinner is complete!
Dinner is complete!

It doesn’t get much easier than that! Here are some add in ideas: BBQ or saute chicken that is sprinkled with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Right after cooked top with some lime juice. Or you could add a different cheese- colby jack or cotija would be yummy. Also I love to grill the corn instead of using frozen corn. It takes longer but is so good. Put olive oil, salt and pepper on a husked corn ear. Grill till brown. Cut the corn from the cob and viola. It gives the corn a sweetness that is so good. You could also grill the pineapple.

This meal is so easy- it is great for weekday lunches, those essential quick meals or part of a delicious Cinco de Mayo feast. Hope you enjoy!

Easy Comfort Food

My husbands favorite meal is pasta with pesto. I make it for him all of the time! Ordinarily I make homemade pesto. I couldn’t make it homemade yesterday for our special pasta dinner because we currently don’t have a food processor! We are in the Boston area for three months for my husband’s job- and don’t have most of our belongings with us.
Using store bought pesto makes this meal super easy. I love that this meal includes carbs, veggies and protein. Everything you need in one pot. I recommend you make a big pot of it- and save the leftovers for weekly lunches. The recipe serves 4- but the servings are very large!

Easy chicken pesto with mushrooms and asparagus
1 pound box of farfalle pasta (bowties) or any other type of pasta of your choice
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts- cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter divided
1 bundle of asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
8 ounce pack of button mushrooms- chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped                                                                                                       1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided                                                                         1/4 cup half and half                                                                                                                8 ounce container store bought pesto

The veggies all chopped. I buy the sliced mushrooms and chop them smaller.
The veggies all chopped. I buy the packaged sliced mushrooms and chop them smaller.

-Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Add pasta and cook according to directions. Take 1-2 minutes off the cooking time for al dente.

The pasta. We do Barilla Plus a lot of the time for added protein.
The pasta. We do Barilla Plus a lot of the time for added protein.

– Sprinkle the salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder on the chicken.

– In a large pan melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the chicken. Spread it out and don’t stir for a while to get the chicken browned. Remove when fully cooked. Set aside.

– In the same pan add the remaining olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter. Add the mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the asparagus. Brown and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.

Veggies browning. Make sure to get color on the mushrooms. It brings out so much flavor when they are caramelized.
Veggies browning. Make sure to get color on the mushrooms. It brings out so much flavor when they are caramelized.

– In the pasta pot add the cooked pasta. Top with the remaining butter and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir and add the pesto and 1/2 and 1/2.  Add the chicken and veggies and stir. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Stirring everything together.
Stirring everything together.

Optional- Add crispy bacon for a smoky flavor. Substitute or add onions, peas or whatever other veggies you like. Shallots would be great.