Fresh summer fruit & red quinoa balsamic salad.

This quick and easy salad is perfect for a refreshing summer dinner.  We are off early tonight to head to a swim meet and this protein-packed dinner.  You can certainly use whatever free stone fruit and berries that you have on hand and make this your very own.


1 cup of red or white quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 quart of strawberries, hulled, washed and chopped
2 peaches, stone removed and chopped
1 nectarine, stone removed and chopped
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
Zest from half of a lemon
15 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup of good quality balsamic vinegar


Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and stir well.  I leave this sit on my countertop for about 20 minutes prior to serving to let the balsamic seep into the fruit.  Serve alongside chicken, fish or pork.  Enjoy!  Would also make a great breakfast :)


Balsamic Cucumbers.

We harvested our very first cucumber yesterday and I made my favorite, super easy, refreshing salad with it.  Although this recipe can be made with any normal grocery store balsamic, I’m a huge proponent of buying a much better quality balsamic when you’re eating it pretty much straight.  Aged balsamic vinegar has such a wonderful complexity of flavors, smooth and doesn’t have that bitter bite afterwards.  I use Olivier Aged 25 year balsamic.  One bottle lasts me typically half the summer – and I use it in many dishes that I make.


2-4 cucumbers, peeled and sliced into 1.5 inch slices
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic (eyeball the amount more/less depending on the quantity of cucumbers that you use)
1/8 tsp of better quality dijon mustard (I used Maille)
1/2 tsp of fresh chives, sliced into small pieces


Add your cucumbers to your bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.  In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons or so (again depending on how many cucumbers you’re using) and of dijon.  Whisk to combine.  Pour over the cucumbers and toss.  Top with the chives and serve or refrigerate until serving.  Must serve this dish nice and chilled :)


Peach salsa.


Eating the rainbow just got a whole lot tastier!  This fresh peach salsa is perfect alone with chips or atop chicken, pork or fish.  Tonight, it will sit along a lovely grilled pork tenderloin.


2 peaches, pitted and chopped
1/4 of a red onion, diced
1/2 jalapeño, diced
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 handful of cilantro leaves, washed, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of olive oil


Add all of the ingredients to a bowl.  Toss and refrigerate for 2 hours or so to let the flavors meld.  Enjoy!


Kentucky Derby Bourbon Sweet Potatoes.

In honor of the 38th running of the Kentucky Derby, Hilary from the awesome food blog Baking Bad is hosting a virtual Derby party.  She has asked some friends to pop by and bring a Kentucky Derby-inspired dish and I was so happy to oblige with my sweet potato creation.  :)


3 enormous sweet potatoes (or you can use 5-6 large sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 c of light brown sugar
1/2 c of butter
3/4 c of bourbon (I used Jim Bean)
1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of nutmeg, ground


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place all of the peeled, chopped sweet potatoes in a glass 13×9 pan.  In a sauce pan over medium heat, add all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Whisk the ingredients as they cook.  Once boiling, pour the liquid mixture over top of the potatoes.  Bake for 50 minutes or unit the potatoes are fork tender.


Veggie & black bean salad. Vegetarian.


My vegetarian friend Brooke, made me a salad similar to this years ago and over the years I’ve revamped it and made it my own.  I can honestly down this entire, very large, container in one sitting if I needed to.  I did help myself to 3, yes 3, helpings at dinner.  Consider I only ate watermelon for lunch, that would explain my voracious appetite :)


1 – 15 oz can of organic black or adzuki beans
2 c of fresh corn or frozen
2 c of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped (color of the pepper may vary)
1/2 c of a red onion, diced
2 jalapeño, chopped finely
1/3 c of fresh lime juice
1/4 c of olive oil
1/4 c cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp of salt
3/4 tsp of ground cumin (if you don’t like cumin as much as I do, use 1/4 or 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp of ground black pepper


Combine in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours to let the flavors mingle.  You can serve this as a side dish, with tortilla chips at a party or just with a big spoon!  YUM!

The aftermath.



Mexican twice baked potatoes with Chobani.

Get ready for some healthy, protein-packed & delicious side dish!


4 medium to large sized sweet potatoes, washed and poked with a knife
1 c of corn (frozen, canned or cut off the cobb)
1/4 tsp cumin, garlic powder & cayenne
1-14 oz can of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbl butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed with hand blender
2 oz of less fat cream cheese
1/3 c non fat Chobani plain yogurt
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of cumin
1 handful of chopped cilantro
1/4 c or less of jack or cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake the sweet potatoes for 30-45 minutes or until they’re fork tender.  Once they are, remove and set aside for 5 minutes to cool.  Over medium to high heat in a dry pan, add the corn along with cumin, garlic powder and cayenne and roast the corn until golden brown. Meanwhile, add the black beans to a bowl.  Once the corn is roasted nicely, add it to the black beans.  Stir to combine.In the same pan you roasted the corn, add the butter and once melted, add the onion.  Cook until translucent and then remove from heat.  In the meantime, halve the potatoes and scrape out the flesh, leaving the skin and a bit of flesh remaining (so it stays a bit a firm).  The flesh will be added to your stand mixer with the paddle attachment on.  In your mixer bowl, add the chipotle peppers,  cream cheese, Chobani, salt and cumin.  Beat until mixed well.  Then by hand, mix in the corn/bean mixture, sautéed onions and chopped cilantro.  Then top with your cheese of choice and broil on high for 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


Herb marinated pork with maple mashed sweet potatoes.

It was such an incredibly beautiful day again here in PA and I really was in the mood to fire up the grill & that’s just what I did.  I had some pork in the freezer (and in my sad attempt to clean the freezer out before I purchase more food for it) I thawed it out and created a super delicious marinade.  You have to try it!

Ingredients (Pork):

4-6 pork chops (I used w/o the bone but you can certainly use a bone-in)
Salt and pepper
4 tbl of olive oil
3 tbl of freshly chopped parsley
1 tbl of dried oregano (if you have fresh, use 2 tbl)
1 tsp of garlic powder
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbl of lime juice, fresh
1 tsp of hot sauce (I used Sriracha)


Rinse under cold water and pat dry each piece of pork.  Season with salt and pepper and place in a platter with sides (or you can use tupperware) and then set aside.

In my large measuring cup (or a small mixing bowl) add the olive oil, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, garlic, lime juice and hot sauce.  Whisk to combine and then pour over the pork.  Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  Longer is better :)

When you’re ready to cook, preheat your grill to 375 or so.  Add the pork and grill until it’s no longer pink inside and has an internal temperature greater than 145 degrees.  Then place in a clean platter and tent with foil for 5-7 minutes.

Ingredients (Maple mashed sweet potatoes):
6-7 small to medium yams/sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tbl butter or substitute
3 tbl finer grade maple syrup
2 tbl ground cinnamon
4 tbl almond milk (vanilla flavored but regular milk would be sufficient)


Cook your sweet potatoes in a large pot of boiling/salted water.  Once fork-tender, drain with colander.  I then add the potatoes to my stand mixer bowl, with the paddle attachment on, then add the remaining ingredients.  Start out mixing slowly and then increase the speed.  Blend until creamy or until you have the desired texture you wish.

I top with additional cinnamon before serving.



Apple sage stuffed pork over Chobani apple cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes.

Apples & pork are truly one of my favorite food combinations.  I paired the pork up with mashed sweet potatoes (that I purchased from the farmer’s market on Tuesday).  And thanks to Chobani sending me a ton of wonderful yogurt today, I thought I would try adding  the apple cinnamon to the mashed potatoes and so glad I did.  It added another layer of that wonderful apple flavor to the dish.


5 boneless pork filets (you can use 4-6 for this recipe), created a pocket with my filet knife being careful not to go all the way through the meat to the other side.
1/4 c of chopped onion
2 tsp of butter or substitute butter product (I used I can’t believe it’s not butter)
1 c of chopped apples
1/2 c of Panko bread crumbs (or regular if that’s all you have in your pantry)
1 tsp of dried sage

Over a medium flame, heat your butter till melted. Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Then add the Panko.  Mix until the butter and onion is absorbed and toasted.  It should look like this:

Then sprinkle with sage.  Once cooled down a bit, stuff your pork (pocket you created with your filet knife) and then close and seal with a toothpick or two.  Repeat until done.  Set aside.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a skillet over medium flame, drizzle some olive oil or a pat of butter.  Once hot, add the pork and brown on each side.  This should take 1-2 minutes.  Then remove and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until no longer pink.

Sweet Potatoes:

6 medium sized yams, washed and cut into larger size pieces
1 6 oz cup of Chobani Apple Cinnamon yogurt
2 tbl of Cinnamon butter spread (you can use regular butter)
1 tbl of light brown sugar

Bring a large Dutch oven with about 4 qts of water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender.  Before draining, remove about 1 c of the water that the potatoes were cooked in and set aside.  Then drain the potatoes and add them to your stand mixer with the paddle attachment on.  Then add the butter and brown sugar.  Mix until creamy.  Add the Chobani yogurt and continue to blend.  Taste test and adjust the seasonings as needed.  Spoon into a serving bowl and cover until ready to serve.

For plating…
Add the sweet mashed potatoes as a bed and the pork on top.  Sprinkle with parsley and freshly ground pepper.  Enjoy!



Quinoa veggie aduki bean salad with cilantro lime vinaigrette.

Okay that title is a mouthful!  My quinoa salad is my own creation but the cilantro lime vinaigrette is from my dear foodie friend, Lauren Kelly, Certified Nutritionist.  I’ll post the recipe here and along with providing you with her link to her blog.

So our Meatless Monday dinner consisted of yummy spicy black bean burgers that hubby purchased from Costco.  I’ve been meaning to get to them and I’ve decided that I’m cleaning out my freezers this week and using up what is stored in them.  We grilled the burgers and they were delightful.  Easy and quite filling.

The quinoa salad I prepared earlier in the afternoon and let refrigerate this afternoon.  Pulled it out and served it at room temperature.  Easy peasy!

2 c of quinoa, cook according to package directions
1 handful of green beans, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 c of Aduki beans, drained and rinsed (you can use black beans as well)
5 new potatoes, cooked whole, drained and cut in half

First, I cook the new potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Drain and let cool. Cut in quarters and add to the serving bowl.

Second, I boil about 4 cups of water and add the green beans.  Cook for 3 minutes, remove and then submerge in a bowl of ice water to blanch.  This will keep them nice and crispy and bright green for the salad.  Add them to the salad bowl.

Third,  add the peppers and quinoa to the bowl with the potatoes and beans.  Give a good stir.  Set aside.

To make the dressing:

1 clove garlic
1/4 c grape seed oil (I used olive oil)
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/4 c fresh lime juice
Zest of one lime
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
1/4 c fresh packed cilantro leaves

I added all of the ingredients to my immersion hand blender container (like a big plastic cup) and blended until creamy.  Poured over my quinoa salad and gave it a good stir.  Refrigerated for 2 hours.  I then let it come up to room temperature for about an hour prior to serving.

Sooooo yummy!


Cheddar mashed potatoes.

My mashed potato recipe is hard to convey because I just add things as it needs it not really paying attention to exact amounts.  You may need to adjust more water or more cheddar depending on your taste.  This is a good baseline to start with so let’s roll…


10 smaller golden potatoes, washed and cubed
3 tbl of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of dried parsley
1/4 tsp of ground pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 c of shredded Cheddar, Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
1/2 c of Chobani plain, non fat yogurt


Get a large stock pot of salted water boiling.  Place the cubed potatoes in the pot and let cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.  Drain the potatoes in a colander. Then I place them in my stand mixer, with the paddle attachment.  I add all of the other ingredients and mix.  The paddle will break the potatoes down nicely.  Add the cooking water as needed to moisten the potatoes up.   I add additional cheese, salt etc. as needed per my taste.  Enjoy!