Category Archives: meal planning

Summer Corn Chowder

Happy Back to School Day to all the parents out there! All too often we celebrate the fresh starts, new classes and that whole importance of educating our youth when in reality we should be celebrating the fact you just survived three months of 24-hour parenting without the assistance of teachers. So let’s take a moment to pat you on the back for making it through. And another one for the kind teachers who are going to take over from here for you.

I remember my first day of sixth grade like it was yesterday. We had just moved to a new neighborhood and not only was I starting a new school, but I was starting public school for the first time after attending a Montessori school since I was two. I was nervous, but I had a great set of friends and a brand new coordinating Limited Too top and shorts to wear with my Birkenstocks so there wasn’t much that could cramp my style. We snapped first day photos that wouldn’t be developed for weeks, took turns guessing who would be in our homeroom and waited for the bus to show up.

The bus never came.

My first day of sixth grade didn’t happen because some high-schooler slashed the bus tires of nearly the entire fleet. So we settled for an extra day of summer break and a few quotes in the local newspaper. Perks of having a former reporter in the family I suppose.

This recipe has little to do with Back to School time but it would be a good one to add to your rotation as a quick go-to dinner. It doesn’t require the time a lot of soups take and it’s light enough to enjoy even in the summer heat. I used shrimp in this version, but you could add crab or remove the seafood altogether if you have a picky eater in the family.

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Shrimp and Corn Chowder
-adapted from Cooking Light

  • 4 slices Canadian bacon, diced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 TBL thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 1/2 C low-fat milk
  • 1 1/4 C unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Penzeys Forward seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2 pound uncooked fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 (12-ounce) package frozen sweet corn

In a small prep bowl, set aside two tablespoons of chopped green onions.

In a dutch oven, cook Canadian bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb extra grease.

Add green onions, thyme and garlic to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Spoon flour over onion mixture.

Add milk and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Add seasoning, salt and red and black pepper.

Add 3/4 of the corn and half Canadian bacon pieces to the broth. Cook until corn is heated through. Using an immersion blender, cream corn and bacon to thicken chowder. Once pureed, add remaining corn and shrimp. Cook for another 5 minutes or until shrimp is done.

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Garnish chowder with remaining bacon and green onions.

summer_corn_chowder_three

 

Enjoy!

Panzanella Salad

Considering I’m a true adult now and all, I figured I should start expanding my salad repertoire and get a little fancier.

Just kidding. I just had some rock hard bread that I didn’t want to go to waste.

Truth is I love carbs as much as the next runner gearing up for a big race, but when it comes to my salad, I’d rather have a side of bread to accompany it than to have it mixed in. But this. This crunchy, grainy goodness is worth a try.

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Panzanella Salad

  • 1 C mixed greens (arugula, spinach, etc)
  • 2 C cubed day old bread (I used half of a loaf of Trader Joe’s multigrain ciabatta)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 C cucumber, sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBL feta cheese
  • 2 TBL thinly sliced red onion

Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 TBL champagne or cider vinegar
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (can sub garlic powder)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil and feta. Set aside.

In a skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bread cubes and toss until crispy and brown.

Whisk vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Toss all ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes or so to let flavors combine.

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A great lunch for a warm summer day. Enjoy!

Currently I’m…

In the middle of a full-on middle school crush with The Mindy Project. It’s been about 4 years since I had sophisticated TV equipment so I’m on technology overload as of late. How did I go so long without this show in my life and why can’t all OB/GYNs be that funny?

Finding it hard to concentrate on much else besides my trip to Chicago this weekend. Don’t get me wrong Florida is sunshine and blazing hot temps and all but I can’t wait to get back to the city and catch up with my friends and celebrate their offspring. After this past winter, I feel like I’m entitled to enjoying above freezing temps with the people I suffered alongside.

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Wondering how my dog is more proficient in yoga poses than I am. Here I am practicing three times a week in a studio and all I have to do is pull out the vacuum for him to do a perfect downward dog. I’m going to see if my teacher will let us try out the “twisted swissy” next class.

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Really starting to feel my age. According to this Health survey, my true age is only 25.6, but if you ask my joints, I’m feeling a wee bit older than that. It seems fitting though, to start a glucosamine supplement just a week before your 30th birthday, doesn’t it?

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Really wishing I wouldn’t have thrown away the rest of Matt’s birthday cake last week.

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Willing to grill just about anything if it means avoiding using my stove these days. Last night we did an entire meal on the grill and I’m not upset about it. Not one bit. We even swapped out a salad for grilled romaine just to keep it simple. Just kidding, we did it because I was too lazy to chop up the other ingredients.

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Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri

  • 1 C parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 C cilantro, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 C olive oil (I kept mine more acidic than oily)
  • 4 TBL fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 TBL water (if needed)

Place all ingredients except oil and water into a food processor. Add oil slowly until it reaches pesto consistency. Since we were originally planning on using this as a steak marinade, I made it lighter on the oil. Good news, it’s great on shrimp too.

Peel and devein uncooked shrimp and place on a metal skewer. Heat grill to medium. Baste chimichurri on shrimp towards the end of the cooking process.

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We got two uses out of this batch. The first night for shrimp and whitefish tostadas and the second for skirt steak and shrimp the next night.

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And in celebrating for Matt’s trip to Mexico we washed them down with a two-ingredient margarita I hacked up just before we sat down. Still on that lazy cooking kick if you can’t tell.

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Two-ingredient Margarita

  • La Croix Lime
  • Tequila
  • Fresh Lime juice
  • Honey or agave
  • Salt

OK so I lied about the two ingredient part but in reality you can just make this with tequila and La Croix. The fresh lime juice and sweetener just helps it taste a little more traditional. The key here is using a good tequila. The stuff so good it doesn’t even taste like tequila, tequila.

I get bored talking to myself all the time. What are you currently into?

Have a great day!

Tabbouleh Salad and Sangria

Before I share with you a super easy salad recipe that goes great with blazing hot weather, I want to give you a quick rundown of some observations from the weekend.

Bridge runs are for the birds

On Saturday mornings, we like to take Finn down to a park along Sarasota Bay where he can play with other pups, swim and run around for the 15 minutes it takes him to be completely exhausted and ready for a nap.

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🎶down by the bay🎶

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If I’m not rolling solo, Matt and I like to take turns going up to the Ringling Bridge and running it for a quick and ridiculously exhausting workout. I thought the humidity and heat would be the toughest part about running in Florida but bridge running in hot and humid temps might just be my worst nightmare. So if you’re looking for a quick workout, go find a long bridge and run across it.

Not all movie theaters have two entrances.

Matt and I went to see Tammy this weekend and after arriving at the show during the previews we were faced with the dilemma of choosing which side of the theater to enter and find a seat. We hesitated briefly and both decided left would be the way to go. As Matt so eloquently pointed out, “All of America goes right.” So we opened the door to the left and walked into a utility closet. We laughed. Harder than we did for most of the movie so go ahead and save your $10 and wait until it comes out on DVD.

Ice Deli should exist in every city that I live. 

Need I say more?

Summer is meant for cold salads.

After making and eating Matt’s birthday cake all week, I’ve been sort of lazy on the cooking front. Loads of butter will do that to a girl. And whenever I’m feeling lazy as a cook I make a big batch of quinoa or other grain salad and eat it for every meal until it’s gone. You should, too.

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Tabbouleh (bulgur) salad

  •  3 Cups cooked bulgur (I use the 10-minute bulgur from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 C tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 C cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 C red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C celery, chopped
  • 2-3 TBL crumbled feta
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Parsley, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice
  • salt/pepper

Cook bulgur according to package directions. Let cool.

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Chop vegetables. Add to bulgur once it is cool. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

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Eat it straight from the bowl, put it on a bed of spinach with a little balsamic vinegar or serve it with a piece of fish for a complete meal.

And while we’re on the lazy front, I was messing around this evening and tested out a two ingredient sangria recipe for you. It was pretty tough. It took me about 30 seconds to pull a bottle of merlot out of the fridge and consider what would happen if I poured some San Pellegrino Limonata into it. By golly it worked. Chop up some apples and you have an individual serving of a decent sangria on your hands.

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Two recipes so easy you’ll have no excuse to cook this week.

Summer meal planning

Oh hey there. Me again.

I’ve been meaning to share our meal plan this week with you but apparently I can only get my stuff together to make one of them happen at a time. Now don’t assume I’m a super planner who writes down her weekday meals every Sunday or anything. I want to be that girl I really do, but in reality I’m more of an I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and we should try it tonight type of girl. To make things a little more complicated, I’ve also been known to avoid running to the store last-minute for things that a recipe calls for. If I can substitute or wing it and avoid the trip, I will. Even if the grocery store is 2 minutes away.

But enough about my grocery issues. Here’s what our meal plan looked like this week:

Monday-Black Bean Burgers with a Kale and Kiwi salad
Tuesday-Sun-dried tomato chicken tenders and heirloom tomato salad
Wednesday-Crock-pot Pulled Pork and peach relish
Thursday-Sweet & Sour Chicken and Broccoli
Friday-BLT pizza and spinach salad (actual- fresh oysters and lobster bake at our local seafood spot)

So let’s talk about Monday’s Black Bean Burgers today. These are rich enough in flavor that even a beef lover can enjoy them. And I say that because I like beef but I really like these burgers too.

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Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 15 oz can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 C onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C spinach (I was out of cilantro)
  • 1 TBL garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 C panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg

In a large mixing bowl, mash black beans with a fork. Add onion, spinach, garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. Make a small hole in mixture for egg. Whip egg and blend it into bean mixture.

Divide into 4-5 patties and grill for 4-6 minutes on each side on medium heat or until crispy. Note: these can fall apart easily so be careful if you are using a grill or cook on a pan in the oven at 425 degrees for 8-11 minutes.

Sriracha Aioli

  • 1/4 C light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice

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Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns and garnish with a dollop of sriracha aioli and a kale salad with kiwi, blueberries and a white balsamic vinaigrette.

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Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

I don’t like to toot my own horn but over the years I’ve learned to make a pretty mean turkey burger.

Toot. Toot.

And so on my weekly (ok maybe more than weekly) Target trip I bought a pound of ground turkey with plans of making burgers.

But then I saw this recipe from Little Leopard Book using Turkey in a way I had never tried before and thought.

I have turkey. 

I like hot sauce. 

And so our turkey burgers turned in to turkey flatbreads and the rest is history. I think I may just start mixing buffalo sauce with all of my dishes because well, I like hot sauce. You should too. All too often everything buffalo is with chicken. Using turkey gives you a richer flavor and is a nice change of pace.

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Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 C Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce
  • 2-3 TBL light blue cheese dressing
  • 2 pieces Naan or other flatbread
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • parsley or cilantro

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil.

Add celery and onion and cook for until onions are no longer opaque. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add ground turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add buffalo sauce.

Reduce heat and simmer.

While sauce is simmering, heat grill to medium.

Cook one side of naan pieces until browned.

Depending on the size of your flatbread, lightly dress the grilled side of naan with blue cheese dressing. Add turkey mixture on top of dressing. Add a few blue cheese crumbles then return the flatbread to the grill. Cook until cheese is bubbly and bottom crispy.

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Garnish with parsley or cilantro, slice and serve it up with your favorite summer beer!

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Thanks to Little Leopard Book for the inspiration. Otherwise we would have been stuck with turkey burgers again. Not that there’s anything wrong with my turkey burgers.

Enjoy!

Classic Greek Salad

When it comes to the salad game, I’m pretty traditional. Most days, I settle for a classic mixed greens salad with cucumber, tomato and a balsamic vinaigrette of some sort and I never get tired of it.

Every once in a while though, a girl needs to mix things up. So now that Greece is out of the World Cup (yes I know the U.S. is too) I am able to re-introduce international foods into my diet without backhandedly supporting opposing teams. It will however, be a long time before I can look at a Belgium waffle the same way again.

Just kidding. I love waffles.

Anywho, I’ve got a Greek salad recipe for you today. Simple. Classic. Sour. All things that make up a great salad in my opinion. Why I feel the need to tell you it’s in my opinion when it’s written by me on my blog I don’t know. Maybe you like sweet salads? If so that’s cool. You just won’t want to eat this one.

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Classic Greek Salad

  • 1 bunch Romaine lettuce, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 C chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 C red onion, sliced
  • 2 TBL crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 TBL chopped pepperocinis
  • Handful chopped and pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 C chopped tomatoes

Add all of the above ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Toss. Set aside.

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Greek Salad Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 4 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 4 TBL olive oil (I use less but it just depends how you like your dressing)

In a small bowl, whisk garlic, mustard, vinegar and spices together. Add olive oil and whisk until combined.

Dress salad lightly and then add more as needed. Plate and serve.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

For the love of oats

I have a wee bit of a sweet spot for oats. A self-proclaimed carb-lover, I like that oats provide a complete breakfast with little more than a dash of salt and water. And unlike other carby breakfast foods, they actually fill you up.

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I also love my cast-iron skillet so I’ve been waiting for a chance to try a baked oats recipe in it for a while now. Not that I need a special occasion to bake some oats in a skillet but when I say it that way maybe you will judge this excited oat lover a little less.

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This is a great recipe for a group as it makes several servings. I adapted my version from this Two Peas and Their Pod one.  Contrary to how the photos look, there are peaches in it, they are just busy getting browned and gooey in the bottom of the pan. In other words they are busy getting awesome. I got called out on Instagram for only using 5 blueberries in my photo so let this be a disclaimer to you to add as many blueberries (or peaches) as you would like. I just added them to the dishes when we served this up.

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Peach and Blueberry Oatmeal Bake 

  • 2 C Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 C chopped roasted almonds
  • 2 C Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBL coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix oats, brown sugar, salt, baking powder cinnamon and chopped almonds.

In another bowl, blend almond milk, egg, coconut oil and vanilla.

Slice peaches and layer in bottom of cast iron skillet. Arrange oat mixture on top of peaches. Pour almond milk mixture over oats. Bake for 40 minutes or until top is golden.

Serve in a bowl with as many fresh blueberries as you can handle and a dash of almond milk.

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Have a great day!

Very Berry French Toast

We decided to mix up our Sunday routine and go to a later mass today. I know what your thinking. Real crazy life we are living these days. Truth is, since we moved in, we’ve been going to an early mass so we could get to the beach each Sunday. Matt’s family was in town most of the week for vacation so we were able to fill our beach quota for a little while.

When we lived in Chicago, we were incredibly spoiled for brunch. My old place was just a few blocks from a delicious Greek breakfast spot called Meli where we ate nearly every week. We miss it terribly, but have been doing our best to try new spots around town to find a replacement. Since we haven’t found anything close just yet, we thought this week we’d give it a shot ourselves.

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This recipe is silly simple. I cheat and use cinnamon raisin bread because it’s just thick enough and soaks up the liquid without getting too soggy, but your typical challah bread will work too.

Very Berry (Cinnamon Raisin) French Toast

  • 5 slices cinnamon raisin bread (pepperidge farm swirl)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg

Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a shallow dish. While pan heats, soak two slices at a time in dish. Flip and soak the other sides.

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Rinse and prepare fruit and place it in a small bowl. We used strawberries, peaches and blueberries for this batch.

Cook two slices at a time, flipping when browned. Top with fresh berries and honey or syrup.

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Bon Appetit!

Summer Chicken Salad

Is it too early for me to mock the weather in Florida? It pains me to do it especially considering the winter we just came from in Chicago, but I can’t help but laugh at these people when they deliver the news every morning.

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Traffic is a hoot. Yes there’s violence but on a completely different level. Don’t get me started on the local morning show. But the weather. Lord does it get me laughing.

I giggle at the TV, as a chipper weather girl comes on every morning and delivers a 7-day forecast identical to the 5 days prior plus or minus a few percentages of humidity.

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Bright and sunny with a high of 88 today folks! It’s another beautiful day out there!

Don’t get me wrong it’s awesome to know you can walk outside sans coat, boots, hat and gloves no matter the hour, but where’s the variety? Coming from the Midwest we killed for this kind of weather. Ok, maybe that’s not the analogy I am going for but the bottom line is we relished in 88 and sunny because we rarely saw it. 88 and sunny. Are you kidding me?

Get the sprinkler out hunny! I hope the Ice Deli is open because we are totally going there after we grill everything in our fridge! We’ve only got 24 hours to enjoy this before it rains, storms or snows.

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And the radio meteorologists aren’t much better. I’m just cruising along trying to avoid anyone who should no longer have their license and all of a sudden a deep authoritative voice comes on and says,

‘Now, the official suncoast forecast’

Here I am expecting a tornado (water spout) warning, flood watch or at least an excessive heat advisory, but nope. Each and every day this intro is followed by the following:

Sunshine for the remainder of today with a low of 68. The temperature is currently 88 under clear skies.

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Now I realize we’ve only been here the better part of a month and there will be plenty of weather changes over the course of the year, but you should have seen them last weekend when we had a ‘cold front’ come through.

‘Good morning. Sunny and 88 for most of the week until the a cold front comes through on Thursday. Things will really cool down as our high on Friday will only reach 84. Still sunny though!’

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Cold front? It was 92 by noon that day. Meanwhile my friends in Chicago are sending me pictures of snow. Snow! In May! And this lady is warning of a cold front that is nothing like any cold front I’ve ever experienced. It’s hard to be a Midwest transplant in Florida in May. I still catch myself putting on layers to walk the dog only to sweat more than the fur covered mountain dog himself. And I can’t help but laugh at the way these newscasters report on delightful weather.

It’s been beautiful out. So while my Midwest family is still deciding whether it’s safe to pack away their coats, I’ve been jumping straight into summer recipes.

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Summer Chicken Salad

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked
  • 3 TBL greek yogurt
  • 2 TBL spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4 C chopped roasted almonds
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 1/4 C chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C chopped apple (can substitute grapes or craisins)
  • 2 TBL chopped green onion
  • lemon juice
  • cilantro, chopped
  • salt, pepper

Cook chicken breast according to your preference. I did a salt brine on mine for 30 minutes and then grilled them. You can bake or boil as well. Once chicken is cooked, shred into pieces and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Fold chopped vegetables, chicken and apple into dressing. Add chopped cilantro and almonds before serving.

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Stay cool out there, folks!