Monday, September 30, 2013

healthier chinese chicken salad

I love a "chinese" chicken salad.  The peanuts, the fried wantons, the peanut-ey dressing. It's just SO good.  Below is my attempt to make this favorite a little healthier than the average restaurant version.  It turned out really good.  I didn't even miss the fried wantons :).

healthier chinese chicken salad {serves two-three}
-1 chicken breast, grilled and chopped
-chopped romaine (about two cups)
-chopped kale (about a cup)
-chopped radishes (I used three radishes)
-carrots, diced (I used one large carrot)
-cucumber, chopped (I used hald of a large one)
-a handful of fresh cilantro, diced
-a small handful of peanuts

for the dressing
-4 heaping tablespoons of all natural creamy peanut butter
-1 1/2 tablespoons honey
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-fresh grated ginger (about a tablespoon or two)
-a splash of chicken broth or vegetable broth to thin out the dressing

1. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper, grill and chop into bite size pieces.  Set aside.
2. Put all the veggies and peanuts in a large bowl and toss together.  
3. Make the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisking together. It helps to microwave the peanut butter for a few seconds first.
4. Pour the dressing over the veggies, toss all to combine, and plate.  Top each salad with some chicken....or leave off the chicken if that isn't your thing.

This salad is an easy make ahead dish. The kale will soak up the dressing and be better by the second day.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

grilled peach and goat cheese salad

Well, my past two recipe posts have included peaches, so I thought I might as well continue that trend while peaches are still somewhat in season :).

I made this salad last week - it is so simple and delicious.  I LOVE goat cheese and fruit.  A standard lunch in my house is salad greens, fruit, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar.  I also love to add a few nuts.  I am not a fan of nuts in general but I do love them on a salad.

All you need to do to make this salad is...
slice a peach grill it for a few minutes on each side until tender
top a plate with salad greens, the grilled peaches, and nuts (I used raw almonds for this one but hazelnuts would also be delicious)
finish with crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

peach-basil sangria

A few weeks ago I had dinner at a restaurant called Queenstown and I tried their peach-basil sangria.  It was so good that I knew I had to make my own.

I don't have a juicer so the consistency of my peach juice was slightly thick...similar to a tomato juice.  I thinned it out by adding sparkling water.  If you want it even thinner, add in more sparkling water or plain water.  And if your peaches aren't sweet enough for you, add in a little simple syrup.

peach-basil sangria
-6 peaches
-1 cup of plain sparkling water
-a bottle of sweet white wine (I used an inexpensive moscato)
-a huge handful of basil leaves 

1. Chop the peaches (you can leave the peel on) and put in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  I added about 1/3 cup of water to get the blender going.
2. Put a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the peach puree.  Discard the leftover pulp.
3. Put the peach "juice" in a large pitcher and add in the handful of basil leaves.  Pour in the sparkling water and wine and stir all together.  
4. Serve over ice with an extra basil leaf for garnish.

Monday, September 16, 2013

in the moment

I recently read a book called The Art of Racing in the Rain.  The book is told from the perspective of the main character's dog.  The main character is a race car driver (which is something I have absolutely no interest in) but the book is more about the man-dog relationship than about race car driving. 

If you're a dog person, you should read this book.  Even if you're not a dog person, it's worth a read.   It's the sweetest thing. I loved reading a book narrated by someone who could not verbally communicate with the other characters.  All he could do was listen. It made for a really interesting perspective.

Throughout the book the dog storyteller (Enzo) talks about life from his perspective. One thing he discusses is how dogs live in the moment and humans tend to live in the past or the future.  He says that's the problem with humans.

Good memories, bad memories, sad times, no matter what, we tend to spend a huge part of our lives living in the past.  The rest of the time we are thinking about when something will happen.  We wait for a vacation or when we have that dream job, house, family, and so on. 

Rarely do we just live in the moment.

Some people are better at doing this than others.  I, for one, am horrible when it comes to living in the moment.  I am always thinking about what will happen next month, next year, or in 30 years. Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball and could see my life in 30 years.  I want to know how it's all going to work out.  I want to know if I am making mistakes or not doing enough of something.  It stresses me out to not know.  I hate surprises.  When I was a kid, I would read the end of books before the beginning so I didn't have to live in suspense.  

Dogs live in the moment all the time.  It's their nature.  They remember things but they don't hold on to any crap and they're not worried about what will happen tomorrow.

While that would be a nice way to live, it does not really work for humans all the time. We have to plan for the future - both large and small details.  I like to plan and I love having a plan.  It makes me content.  However, I do want to be better at just living in the moment and not worrying so much about how it's all going to be at the end of my life. Things might not go as planned and even though it might be hard at times, it will still be ok.  

I know humans are the most intelligent beings, yet sometimes a sweet little dog can teach us a thing or two about living for each day and taking the good and the bad one day at a time.

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