Tag Archives: Salad

Roasted Pear & Portobello Quinoa Salad

7 Nov

Isn’t funny how your cravings for food change along with the weather??

After Labor Day, I feel like everything Fall was pushed upon us. Pumpkin Lattes! Boots! Halloween candy!

But Chicago was still enjoying 70-80 degree weather days and I just wasn’t ready. Now that Halloween has passed, stores are already putting up Christmas decorations. (Thanksgiving is totally getting the shaft.)

50 degree weather leaves just enough chill in my bones to accept winter is right around the corner. So much chill that I was craving a warm salad. This isn’t a normal thing for me. Fruits or vegetables (that don’t require to be cooked to eat) must be stored in the fridge. Cold, crisp produce tastes so much better!

But there are times I manage to surprise myself. I came up with a Roasted Pear & Portobello Quinoa Salad on Monday night.

I cranked up my oven to 400 degrees and loaded a baking sheet with sliced pears, Portobello mushrooms, onions and garlic. 10 minutes is all you need. The pears are cooked but still firm. Portobello slices have softened just enough. And of course, the smell of roasting garlic and onions is just heavenly. As long as the quinoa is cooking by the time the pear mixture is in the oven, this salad will be on your table in 15 minutes. Quick & Easy!

This isn’t a salad I would be eating in the dog days of summer, but as long as it’s cold, a roasted warm salad isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Roasted Pear & Portobello Quinoa Salad, serves 6

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 pears, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock
  • Baby Spinach
  • Goat cheese crumbles


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix vinegar & oil to make salad dressing. Season with salt & pepper. In a large bag, add pears, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Add half of the salad dressing. Close bag and distribute salad dressing.
  2. On a lined baking pan, add marinated pear mixture. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. When done cooking, let the mixture cool for 2 minutes.
  3. In a sauce pan, bring quinoa and chicken stock to a boil. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes.
  4. Place baby spinach in a large serving dish. Place quinoa on top of spinach. The spinach will slightly wilt. Layer pear & Portobello mixture on top of quinoa. Sprinkle goat cheese crumbles. Drizzle the rest of the dressing.

New Recipe: Grilled Corn, Feta Cheese & Quinoa Salad – Gluten Free, Vegetarian Meal

25 Jul

Soooo, I know I’ve been neglected my blog duties for the last few months…  My excuse – it’s a mixture of being busy & lazy. Does that make sense??

I had intentions of sharing all of the wonderful things I’ve been making. I took the time to take pictures of recipes…but no motivation to hop onto my computer and write everything down.

After being told my recipes were missed on the world wide web, I decided I needed to get back to something I truly love to do!

Are you ready?? Here we go!

I’m happy to report I’m finally cooking for two. Me & the hubby. I’m shocked he’s ok with me making healthy girlie salads. And it’s not like I’m pulling a fast one on him. He’s been going to the grocery store for me and sticking to the list. I think he’s on board with it!

This salad tastes like summer. Sweet grilled corn, juicy cherry tomatoes, spicy jalapeno and fresh basil. So good! Cooking the quinoa and adding it to the veggies & cheese makes the whole salad melt to together. It’s topped off with a zesty lemon & garlic dressing. Perfect to eat warm. It’s even better if you wait a day and eat it cold the next day.

Grilled Corn, Feta Cheese & Quinoa Salad, serves 4

  • 2-3 ears fresh corn,  husked
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • ¾ cup crumbled  feta
  • 1 pint grape  tomatoes, halved
  • 1 15-ounce  can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (can be omitted)
  • 1 tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and fresh  ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4-5 basil  leaves


1. Turn on the grill. Rub olive oil onto corn and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook the on the grill for 8 minutes. Be sure to rotate corn so all sides get evenly cooked. When the corn is done, let it cool. When corn is cool enough to work with, remove kernels with a knife. I’ve found this method is easiest. You won’t be picking corn kernels off the floor.

2. Add quinoa and chicken stock or water to a sauce pan. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid has reduced. Fluff with fork.

3. Cut up all of the veggies and add them to the bowl with corn. Add chick peas. When the quinoa is done cooking, add it to the veggies mixture.

4. To make the salad dressing, add minced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Pour salad dressing over quinoa & veggies. Top with feta cheese and fold into the salad. Top with basil.

Breithlá sona duit!!

6 Mar

No, I did not make up my own kind of language. Breithlá sona duit means “Happy Birthday” in Irish Gaelic.

Today is a very special person’s birthday. My Dad. And in honor of him, he asked me to come up with a salmon dish…. you know, something besides adding some salt & pepper before throwing it on the grill.

Dad requested something sweet & maybe with a little bourbon. I can do sweet, but no bourbon. I have a Monday Bourbon Free rule. I know that sounds shocking, but it’s true. My liver needs a break.

Instead, I create a marinade with lime juice, cilantro & cumin. YUM. The leftover marinade turned into my sauce for the baked fish. I added some olive oil and honey in my blender with the cilantro marinade and it turned out to be just the right amount of sweet. To round out the meal, I created a veggie filled couscous salad. It was really light and paired nicely with the salmon.

If you have leftovers, this meal is easily made into a salad. This morning, I “flaked” the salmon and added it to my left over couscous, then I drizzled the cilantro honey sauce over it. It was so good!! And it made me really happy to have such a great lunch. (Subway can get a little old after a while.)

So Dad, I hope this recipe hits the spot. If you miss the bourbon, have a little on the side in a shot glass. After all, it is YOUR birthday!

Cilantro Honey Salmon & Veggie Couscous Salad

  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 box couscous, prepared as directed on package
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped thin
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1/4 cup cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cumin and paprika in a small bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Spray two pieces of tin foil with cooking spray. Place a salmon fillet in the center of each piece of tine foil. Pour 1/4 cup of marinade over the fillets. (share 1/4 cup between both fillets.) Wrap up each fillet in the tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer the remaining marinade to the blender. Add 1/2 cup cilantro, olive oil and honey; puree until smooth. Taste, add additional seasoning if needed.
  3. Cook couscous according to directions on the package. Add red pepper, green onions & carrots when the couscous is ready to be fluffed. Put the lid back on the pot for 3 minutes; the veggies will soften slightly.
  4. When the salmon is done, take each fillet out of the foil. Top with salmon & couscous with honey cilantro sauce.

Caprese Polenta Bites

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day!! How is everyone celebrating?? I’m going to see The Vow with @hayesman_. I’m sneaking these tasty treats into the theater. I’m sooooo bad.

I’ll need some food in my belly before heading out to the theater. As much as I love movie theater popcorn, I hate how I feel after eating it. I refuse to eat popcorn for dinner tonight! Take that overpriced Movie Theater. So far, I’m feeling Meghan – 2, Movie Theater – 0.

Caprese Salad (tomato, mozzarella cheese & basil) is something I don’t order that often when I go out to dinner. Mainly because it’s kind of boring but I love all of the elements in the salad. So I’m going to change it up and make an appetizer I’d love to eat.

I came up with Caprese Polenta Bites topped with homemade pesto. I’ve been eyeing the pre-made polenta at Trader Joe’s for the last week. Polenta is made from cornmeal. You can make your own (there are plenty of recipes on the internet) or you can save yourself 20 minutes and buy it pre-made.

This is how the recipe is assembled. Your polenta should be about 1/2 inch thick and it’s the bottom of your bite. Place a thinly sliced tomato piece on top of the polenta. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Meghan, where is the basil??” Well, the bite is going to be topped with homemade pesto. Once the caprese polenta is done cooking, drizzle some pesto on top. You can buy pre-made pesto at the grocery store if you don’t have the time to make your own… but if you have a good blender/food processor, it’s very easy to make your own.

Isn’t this cute??!

I ate a couple of these for dinner, but it would make a great appetizer at the party. They’re just a few bites and you don’t need silverware. Just bite right on in and enjoy the wonderful flavors.

I made a lot of pesto, so you’ll get another pesto recipe this week. I haaaaate to be wasteful. 🙂

Caprese Polenta Bites (makes 12 bites)

  • Polenta, pre-made
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Pesto, recipe to follow


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Slice polenta so it’s 1/2 inch thick. Season polenta with salt & pepper. Top with tomatoes and cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Top with pesto and serve.

Pesto Recipe

  • 2 cups basil
  • 1/3 cup almonds, walnuts or pine nuts. (I used almonds since I had them on hand)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste


  1. Combine basil, nuts and garlic cloves in the blender/food processor. Pulse a few times.
  2. Stream in olive oil while the blender/food processor is running. You may need to scrap the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is getting mixed. The consistency should be like a runny paste.
  3. Add lemon juice and cheese; pulse a few more times. Taste pesto and add Salt & Pepper if needed.

Chicken & Goat Cheese Wrap

2 Feb

Today was Day 3 of my new work out plan. I’m a fan of the company, Beach Body, and I’ve done a few of their work out series including Insanity & Turbo Jam. So after seeing the Brazil Butt Lift infomerical for the 12th time, I finally caved and ordered it. I’m glad I did. I can already tell it’s a good work out. I know this because everytime I get up from a chair, my first few steps are more like a waddle. I haven’t had a work out like this in a long time…. please hold the giggles. 🙂

Besides a good work out, one of the things I love are no-cook meals. These types of recipes are usually pretty quick & there isn’t much clean up. Perfect for a week night meal!

This might sound a little crazy but I rarely have bread in my house….but I always have tortillas. So when I want a sandwich, I’ll turn it into a wrap by eating it in a tortilla. Delicious, less carbs & calories.

A tip when using tortillas, they should be warm. They roll & fold much better that way. You can stick them in the microwave for 10 seconds or you can do what I do. I like to put a tortilla directly on a lit gas burner (on the stove) & cook it for a few seconds on each side. I learned this in my Cuisine of Mexico class and it’s the only way I do it.

Since I wanted to use the fresh ingredients I bought earlier in the week, I came up with a Chicken & Goat Cheese wrap. It also has roasted red peppers, mushrooms & salad greens. This recipe is great because all you need is a cutting board, a knife and a bowl. After dicing everything up, throw it into a bowl, add some flavor and then it goes onto the tortilla. In regards to adding flavor, I used balsamic vinegar & olive oil. You can use any vinegar you have on hand.

This recipe is scaled for two people. However, since I was only feeding myself, I ate the extra as a salad. See…

This is a quick, easy & tasty meal. And great for the waistline.

Chicken & Goat Cheese Wrap

  • 1 cup spring salad mix (any type of greens would work)
  • 1/2 cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/4 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 3 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (any vinegar you like, use it!)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla, (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 tbs goat cheese


  1. Add everything except the tortilla & goat cheese to a bowl. Toss well.
  2. Warm tortilla. Spread goat cheese on tortilla and top with salad mixture.
  3. Fold the top and the bottom of the tortilla in towards the salad mixture. While holding the ends down, fold over the side of the tortilla that’s closest to you. Then roll the tortilla over towards the salad mixture and roll until you reach the the far side of the tortilla. It should look like a burrito. (Hope that makes sense!!)

Superfood Meal – Quinoa Salad

1 Feb

I’m sure most of you have heard of quinoa and all of the benefits it has for your diet. It’s considered a superfood because it’s a whole grain that’s high in fiber & protein. It’s also gluten-free. Quinoa is a tiny grain that cooks up like rice and has a mild, nutty flavor and a light, fluffy texture similar to couscous. You can find it next to other grains in health-food stores and your supermarket.

I’ll be honest, I don’t eat quinoa enough. I’ve had a box of it sitting in my pantry since this summer. Luckily, it doesn’t go bad.

Since I made Creamy Goat Cheese & Chicken Risotto last night, I wanted an easy meal that doesn’t require me standing over a stove. And some nights, I just want a salad. A fully loaded salad, yet not a calorie bomb.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post I’m going to use the same 4 ingredients in all of my meals this week — Chicken, goat cheese, roasted red peppers and mushrooms. I think these elements will go great in a salad, but I wanted something heartier to go with it besides a bag of mixed salad greens. Then I had a “Ding! Ding! Ding” moment. I should finally use that box of quinoa in my salad.

I’m soooo glad I did! This salad was awesome! The quinoa brings a fun texture to the dish. It’s not as mushy as couscous but not as firm as rice. I added the veggies & cooked chicken towards the end of cooking the quinoa, so they stayed crisp. I ate this salad warm, but it can also be eaten cold. I had the cold version today for lunch. I added some additional lemon, olive oil and S&P. It was really good! Another option for this salad is  add it to your favorite tortilla wrap — then you have a sandwich wrap!

Quinoa Salad with Chicken & Veggies (makes 3 cups of quinoa salad)

  • 2 cups of chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/2 cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbs goat cheese
  • Mixed salad greens


  1. In a saucepan, combine broth and quinoa. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover the saucepan. Let the quinoa cook for 10-15 minutes.
  2. When the quinoa is cooked, add in the chicken, red pepper, mushrooms, onion, olive oil & lemon to the saucepan. Mix well and taste. Add salt & pepper if needed.
  3. Add goat cheese and fold into the salad.
  4. Place salad greens on your plate and top with quinoa. Add additional goat cheese if you like. (I did!)

Multiple Meals Post: Colorful Asian Salad & Baked Dumplings

4 Jan

On Monday night for dinner, I wanted to kick off the week with a non-boring salad. I hate those sad diet salads. You know, the ones that have the everyday veggies and a light store-bought dressing. Yuck. I’ve learned you don’t need to eat that way in order to stay healthy.

I love Asian flavors. Ginger, cilantro, soy sauce – sign me up! I went to the store and bought cabbage, red peppers, apples, cilantro, onion, garlic, carrots, ginger & chicken. I knew this would make a great salad and I needed to come up with my own dressing. I believe most dressings should be made at home. They are so much better!!

When I got home, I knew I wanted to make a dressing based around soy sauce. Soy Sauce has such a potent flavor, a dressing needs some sweetness. Honey & Soy Sauce is such a great flavor combo.  My salad dressing was starting to come together.

Are you curious to see what this flavorful & bright salad looks like??

Anything this colorful & healthy will help you to eat better this year. My secret ingredient – Peanuts. It gave the salad such a fun crunch. I found myself going through the salad and trying to get them out. 🙂

Tip – If you want to eat this salad over multiple days, be sure to put lemon or lime juice on your apples to prevent them from browning.

Asian Slaw Salad — serves 6


  • 4 cups (8 oz.) thinly sliced savoy cabbage
  • 2 cups (6 oz.) thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots (4 oz.), shredded
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple (8 oz.), unpeeled, cored, and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 2 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced (2 cups)
  • 1 pinch salt, optional
  • 1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, optional (but I wouldn’t skip on this!!)


1. Combine savoy cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, and apple in large heat-proof bowl. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, 2 Tbs. water, and honey in small bowl.

2. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a skillet at medium heat. Salt & Pepper the chicken tenders and cook in the skillet. About 3 minutes per side, depending on how thick the tenders are. When done cooking, let them cool and dice up the meat. Add chicken to the bowl with the salad mixture.

3. Heat the other 2 Tbs. oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt, and cook 7 to 8 minutes, or until onions are browned and bottom of pan has brown bits. Add ginger, and cook 30 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture to deglaze, and cook 15 to 25 seconds, using spatula or spoon to scrape up brown bits. Remove from heat, and spread onion mixture over cabbage mixture. Toss with tongs until slaw is well combined and cabbages begin to wilt. ( Tip – if you’re eating this salad over a few days, only add the dressing to the portion you’re going to eat at that time.)

4. Add 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, and toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes, then serve garnished with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and peanuts, if using.

This recipe makes A LOT of salad. Since I had some left over won tons from the Baked Southwestern Eggs Rolls, I wanted to use them before they went bad. On Tuesday night, I decided to put the won tons in a muffin tin and filled them with the salad. I made some additional salad dressing as a dipping sauce. Dumplings in 15 minutes at home, yes please!

If you want to eat this salad over multiple days, be sure to put lemon or lime juice on your apples to prevent them from browning.

Crispy Asian Slaw Dumplings with Honey & Ginger Soy Sauce


  • Asian Slaw recipe, listed above
  • Honey Ginger Salad Dressing, listed above
  • Wonton/egg roll wrappers
  • Olive oil Spray


1. Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees. Spray muffin pan with olive oil spray. Put an egg roll wrapper in each tin you plan on using. Be sure to press the wrapper into the bottom of each tin.

2. Put 1/4 cup of the Asian Slaw into each egg roll wrapper (there should be a little salad dressing tossed into the salad.) Take the sides of each wrapper and fold it towards the center. Be sure to pinch the tops so the slaw is enclosed.

3. Spray the egg rolls again with olive oil spray. This will give the dumplings a nice brown color. Bake won tons for 15- 20 minutes. Serve with warm Honey Ginger Salad dressing.