Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Grilled Tyson® Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney

Grilled Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney

What is it about the smell of a smoky grill that brings everyone out of the woodwork and magnetically draws people to gather 'round?

It could be the memories of long summer days. It might be the recollection of a favorite family recipe sizzling away on the grill grates. But even though we all look forward to the finished product being served up for us to enjoy, it's the togetherness that makes grilling out something we crave.

Around here, we're lucky to have "grilling weather" pretty much year round, which means lots of time to experiment with different recipes and spend time outdoors enjoying the sunshine and one another. But once we approach those super steamy summer months, I have to admit I prefer sending the husband out to do the grilling while I stay cool indoors!

Even if you're not standing right alongside the "grillmaster" in your family, you can still participate in the food prep when you tag team on recipes like this one -- Grilled Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney.

Smoky with a hint of heat thanks to a dusting of ground chipotle chili pepper, grilled Tyson® Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs {available fresh or frozen at your local Walmart} create a fantastic balance with sweet, fruity chutney. The chicken is perfect grilling up in advance and turning into lunch on the go for a family picnic, beach day or a portable lunch any day of the week.

Though the flavors of the chutney are complex, putting it together is pretty simple... and a great excuse to work in an air conditioned kitchen while the sweating is going on outside!

No matter who does what job, the whole family will come together to enjoy these chicken wraps when the work is done. And that's truly the best part!

For more products & recipes to bring your family together this summer, visit Walmart's Gather 'Round the Grill ideas!

Grilled Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney

Tyson® Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper {or smoked paprika}
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 whole wheat wraps
1 cup greens of your choice {I used mixed greens}
1 tomato, sliced

1. Preheat grill. Season chicken thighs with chipotle chili pepper and salt.

2. Grill chicken thighs until fully cooked through and juices run clear, about 5-7 minutes on each side {until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.}

Remove from grill place onto a plate covered with foil to rest. Once cooled, chop or slice into pieces. Set aside until ready to make wraps.

For Peach-Ginger Chutney: 
Adapted from Fine Cooking

2 peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 large pieces
1 shallot, finely diced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper

1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

2. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the peaches have softened completely, stirring often.

3. Once cooked, remove the large pieces of ginger and the thyme stem. Mash with a fork or potato masher to achieve desired amount of chunkiness. Set aside unit ready to use.

To assemble wraps:

1. Lay out wraps and distribute greens and tomato evenly between the four wraps. Place grilled, chopped chicken thigh onto each wrap and top with a heaping tablespoon of chutney.

2. Carefully tuck in the sides of the wrap, then fold over and wrap tightly to secure the contents of each wrap. Place seam-side down and secure with a toothpick with desired, or cut in half to serve.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods Inc. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Roasted Broccoli & Feta Quinoa

True story: I was almost killed by a cherry tomato over the weekend. No lie.

Here I am, trying to get back on track with eating {mostly} healthy, and the plan completely backfires and literally almost does me in.

When you're a mama-on-duty 24/7 and eating becomes secondary to -- well, everything -- it's easy to get into the habit of grabbing things that are more treat-like than nourishing and forget to consume enough servings of fruits and veggies.

So, I've been making more of an effort to eat mindfully and choose carefully when it comes to my daily diet. Over the weekend, I wanted to munch with reckless abandon... but I behaved myself and stuck to mostly healthy choices. {Minus some ridiculous homemade brownies that happened. Balance, people.}

During my weekly visit to Trader Joe's, I had been seduced by some beautiful, vibrant red cherry tomatoes. When lunchtime came around on Sunday and I needed a quick bite, I reached for a handful of them with a dollop of hummus.

Steve was playing with Cole and I was happily snacking away when suddenly -- POP. I bit down and was nearly drowned by a giant wave of seeds and juice that erupted forth from the tiny tomato with the power of a Nerf Super Soaker.

I can imagine that the look on my face was priceless; the choking and gagging that ensued was enough to rouse Steve, who usually just looks at me like he's had enough of my dramatics when something of the sort happens.

Coughing, hacking and gasping for breath followed as I tried to get some air. As it turns out, aspirating tiny seeds is quite unpleasant. Once I cleared my airway, I sputtered words of disdain for the offending tomato {though quite delicious, if I'm being completely honest} and assured Steve that there was no need for the Heimlich or a call to 911.


I doubt that a chocolate bar would assault me in such a violent fashion... just sayin'.

Consequently, cherry tomatoes and I are taking a little break from each other for a while. Meanwhile, I've come up with another quick dish that probably won't try to drown you or infringe upon your airway at all as long as you chew carefully while I recover: Roasted Broccoli & Feta Quinoa.

I can't tell you how many times I've made this, and I can't get sick of it. Roasty-toasty broccoli {I like it almost burnt to a crisp} gives a nutty and textural bite to simple quinoa salad. Punctuated by salty bits of feta cheese, everything is brought together with an easy lemon vinaigrette for a tangy zip.

Healthy eating may extend your life -- or, it may cut it short! Ha. So you might as well enjoy the things you eat; this dish will kill two birds with one stone!

Roasted Broccoli & Feta Quinoa

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 or 2 tablespoons extra for roasting broccoli
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or your favorite herb
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a baking pan by lining with foil. Place broccoli florets on pan and drizzle with about a tablespoon or two of olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how toasty you like your broccoli.

2. Meanwhile, prepare vinaigrette by whisking together 1/4 cup olive oil with the juice of 1 lemon, garlic, marjoram and a small dash of salt. Set aside.

3. When broccoli is finished roasting, remove from baking sheet and place in a medium bowl. Add cooked quinoa and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle vinaigrette over top and fold ingredients together gently until well combined.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blue Cheese & Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes | Castello #BluesdayTuesday

I am officially outnumbered by men in my household. We started out 50/50 when we moved in together many moons ago. Then we added on a fur-baby who tipped the balance in favor of testosterone. And now, the addition of our son has really pushed me into the minority.

My mother-in-law, who also lived in a male-dominated household in her child-rearing years, promises that it's not so bad. She even confided that most times it's nice to be the queen among kings. I'll take her word for it.

So far, all I'm seeing is a heightened tolerance to foul smells and a growing commitment to meatier meals. {Though currently, we're still testing out the waters with fruits and veggies for Cole. But I see what's coming up ahead.}

It is no secret that I'm not a huge meat eater. I could happily subsist on meals like cheese and crackers, seasoned veggies and the occasional bowl of cereal. You know, "girl food." But a girl's gotta adapt, which is how I got into all this cooking business to begin with. {Still no red meat for me.}

Whether I'm cooking something to please the "hims of the household" or to indulge my own palate, there is one great equalizer: cheese. Yes, I try to use it sparingly but it just goes so well with so many things. {And it's so darn delicious.}

Case in point: Blue Cheese & Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes. I mean, who doesn't love cheesy potatoes?

Tangy, creamy Castello Extra Creamy Danish Blue shines in this easy side. If you are a lover of blue cheese, your mouth will do a little happy dance and rejoice. That sharp blue cheese "bite" is unmistakable, but mellowed by the creaminess and richness of this decadent rendition. Combined with crispy, smoky bacon there's a little love in here for everyone.

Give this crowd pleaser a try... it'll impress boys and girls alike!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Castello Cheese for Summer of Blue; I have been compensated for this post. However, as always, the opinions you read here are all my own.

Blue Cheese & Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes
Makes 6 servings

3 russet potatoes, scrubbed & dried
Olive or canola oil
Kosher salt
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5-6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2.5 ounces {approximately} Castello Danish Blue Cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

1. To bake potatoes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place directly onto center rack and bake for about 1 hour or until tender. {A knife should easily pierce the potato.} Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

2. Once cooled, cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the insides leaving a thin wall of potato so that they are sturdy, taking care not to puncture the skins; place in a medium-sized bowl.

3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place potato boats on a baking pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, to the potato in the bowl, add Greek yogurt, butter, salt, garlic and onion powders. Mash until smooth {or use a hand mixer, but don't overmix or you'll get gluey potatoes}. Gently fold in 3/4 of bacon {reserve some for crumbling on top} and Castello Danish Blue.

5. Scoop filling into each potato boat, dividing evenly among each one. Top each potato with reserved bacon and extra blue cheese.

6. Return to oven for another 15-20 minutes until heated through and the top just begins to brown.

Serve hot.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mandarin Avocado Salad

I love it when I open the fridge planning to make myself something only to find that my husband has eaten the ingredients I need. And by "love", I mean I want to pull my hair out a little bit. 

{P.S. Did you know that your hair falls out like crazy after you have a baby? I'm talkin' bald spots. Mine is just now starting to grow back, so maybe I'll refrain from the frustrated hair pulling for now.}

But...marriage vows, right? 

This Mandarin Avocado Salad is not something I'd normally think to put together, but I was inspired by a salad that I get at a local spot that serves grilled chicken on a bed of greens with avocado, mandarin oranges, red onion and a citrus vinaigrette. Such a refreshing combo, it's hard for me to choose anything else when I visit.

Though my plans were originally to recreate the salad, my hopes were dashed when I discovered that dear husband had polished off the salad greens and chicken. Oh, well... Lucky for him this works just as well! The creamy avocado, sweet mandarin oranges, juicy tomatoes, salty feta and tangy vinaigrette form a harmonious little dish that works well as an appetizer or a light lunch.

Simple, fresh and summery. 

I guess the husband managed to avoid the doghouse... this time.

Mandarin Avocado Salad
Makes about 2 servings

For Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar {I used Colavita Chardonnay Vinegar}
2 tablespoons Orange Olive Oil {or regular olive oil}
1 teaspoon juice/syrup from canned mandarin oranges
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk together all ingredients until well combined and emulsified. 

Note: If you don't have orange olive oil, you can use regular and add about 1/2 teaspoon orange zest for orange flavor.

For Salad:

1 large avocado, peeled, pit removed and cubed 
About 1/2 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained
About 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
{Optional} Thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Place all ingredients except feta cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with citrus vinaigrette and toss gently to coat.

2. Portion out servings and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Strawberry-Basil Iced Tea

You know what makes me super happy? When big, luscious strawberries are "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" at the grocery store. Know what makes me super sad? When I don't eat them fast enough and they turn into sad, wrinkly strawberries. Whomp whooomp.

I'm here to rescue you from having to experience the berry blues! If your berries are less-than-beautiful, you can still salvage them without having anyone in your household look at you like, "Why are you serving me substandard berries?" Because once you blend them up in this thirst-quenching beverage, they'll have imparted their strawberry flavor and fulfilled their fruity destiny without being judged for their appearance. It's a win-win for everyone.

May is National Strawberry Month {shouldn't every month be?} and this is the perfect way to celebrate the occasion!

As a matter of fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea to whip up a pitcher or two for any of your summer celebrations.

A fun twist on iced tea, this drink surprises the palate with the taste of ripe strawberries and the fresh flavor of basil. Don't care for basil? Swap it out for some mint instead for a cooling treat.

Have some stunning strawberries that you wouldn't mind putting in the spotlight? Check out some of the recipes from my friends at Driscoll's!

Disclosure: I received a gift card and product coupons in exchange for this post. As always, the opinions here are all my own!

Strawberry-Basil Iced Tea
Makes 4 servings

4 cups water
4 black tea bags
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4-5 large basil leaves, chopped or torn
About 1/2 a package of Driscoll's Strawberries

1. Bring water to a boil {in kettle or microwave}. Add 4 tea bags and steep until desired strength is achieved.

2. Meanwhile, bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; simmer for 1 minute or until sugar is completely dissolved. Toss in basil leaves and allow to steep for about 10 minutes.

3. When tea and sugar syrup are ready and slightly cooled, strain into a blender with strawberries. Blend for a minute or two, until mixture is completely smooth.

4. Using a mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a pitcher, pressing on the solids to remove any juice. Discard solids.

Pour over ice to serve.

*If you prefer your tea sweeter, you can increase the amount of syrup you add. Simply use equal parts of sugar to water in making your syrup.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Olive Oil Polenta Cake with Grilled Apricots & Raspberries

As much as I love summer cookouts, when I think "grill" I often think "meat." And yeah, I like a good turkey burger or tasty chicken kebab, but you know that my heart belongs to just about anything falling into the category of "dessert." Every party needs a little something sweet, and there's no need to turn off the grill when it's time to serve dessert at your grilling get-togethers this summer!

Thanks to my friends at Colavita, I had an arsenal of amazing, authentic Italian goodies to inspire me as I pondered ways to move dessert prep from oven to grill. No, really. I mean a triple-decker care package of foodie love.

Olive Oil Polenta Cake is served up with grilled apricots and raspberries that have taken a soak in fragrant raspberry vinegar. A scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of tangy balsamic glace and some fresh basil complement the flavors and work together to create a fantastic balance -- sweet, savory, tart and creamy.

This cake is just about foolproof; ideal for last minute baking. The texture of the cake is intriguing with its slightly crackly crust and moist chewy interior, polenta adding a little crunch and a hint of cornbread-like flavor to the mix.

The apricots become slightly soft and caramelized when grilled, and they are nothing short of heavenly when eaten with a bite of vanilla ice cream and balsamic glace. {If you've never tried ice cream with vinegar, I highly recommend it!}

Don't limit yourself to burgers and hot dogs at your next backyard barbecue. Save a space for some sweetness on those grates, and some room for this cake in your belly!

Get $1 off Colavita products or 15% off your online order with this offer

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Colavita. As always, all opinions seen here are my own!
Olive Oil Polenta Cake with Grilled Apricots & Raspberries

For Fruit:
2 tablespoons Colavita Raspberry Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teapoon basil, finely chopped {plus extra for garnish}
4 apricots {or peaches}, halved, pits removed
4 ounces raspberries
Colavita Balsamic Glace

For Cake:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Colavita Fine Italian "00" Flour
1/4 cup Colavita Polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional: Powdered sugar for garnish, Vanilla Ice Cream for Serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cake pan* by greasing liberally with butter. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together raspberry vinegar, olive oil, honey and basil. Add halved apricots and raspberries to mixture and gently toss to coat. Set aside while preparing cake.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar until pale. Slowly stream in the olive oil until fully incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract.

4. Whisk together flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. With the mixer running at low speed, slowly incorporate dry ingredients into the wet mixture until fully incorporated.

5. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before cutting.

For Fruit:

Scoop apricots from vinegar mixture. Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Place apricots or peaches cut side down onto grill and cook until slightly softened and grill marks have formed, about 5-7 minutes.

To serve: 

Place a piece of cake on plate. Top with a grilled apricot and raspberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired. Drizzle with balsamic glace and sprinkle of basil.

*I used a small, 6 inch cake pan for this recipe. The cake rose above the rim but did not spill over the sides, though I did place the cake pan on a baking sheet just to be safe. If you use a standard 9 inch, you may need to reduce the baking time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two-Bite Bourbon & Coke Cakes

I hate saying, "We've been so busy." because it's usually just a lame excuse for being bad at staying in touch or not posting on Mondays being able to make it to something, no matter how true the statement is. But you guys, we've been so busy.

The month of May began like a starting pistol and we've been going ever since. We have had a wedding every weekend -- one out of state -- and weeks filled with projects and obligations, not to mention, you know, life.

Currently, I am typing this with 1,200 other things swirling around in my brain, Cole sitting next to me eating a set of colorful plastic car keys & listening to "Under the Sea" on Pandora, sweet potatoes boiling so I can puree them for his lunch and pollen violently attacking my sinuses. It's always a good time around here.

Anyway, BOURBON {and chocolate. Yes, please.}.

I have mentioned several times before that I am a fan. And that most people look at me funny because apparently you should only like it if you have chest hair peeking out from the neck of your collar. Whatever. My taste buds like it and that's all that matters.

But I understand that it's not everyone's cup of... er... liquor. If you are among the folks that fall into this category, I highly suggest you try this recipe before writing it off altogether. Because YUM.

A classic cocktail-turned-cake, this recipe from Morgan Murphy's cookbook, Bourbon & Bacon, has the sweetness of chocolate and cola with just a hint of Four Roses Bourbon shining through. The little cakes are rich and fudgy, crowned with a generous drizzle of Bourbon & Cola Glaze to gild the lily.

No matter how "crazy busy" you are, make some time to try out these little two-bite cakes. You won't regret it for one overbooked second!

Disclosure: I received a bottle of Four Roses Bourbon and compensation for this post. As always, the opinions here are all my own!

Morgan Murphy’s Two-Bite Bourbon and Coke Cakes
Reprinted with permission from author Morgan Murphy from Bourbon & Bacon

Makes: 3 Dozen
Hands-On: 20 mins
Total: 1 hr. 40 mins

1 ½ cups butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup cola soft drink
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup bourbon
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
Bourbon- and- Cola Glaze


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beat until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat at low speed until blended.

2. Stir together cola, buttermilk, and bourbon in a small bowl. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in another bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with cola mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed.

3. Pour batter into 3 lightly greased 12-cup Bundt brownie pans, filling each three-fourths full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool 30 minutes.

4. Drizzle warm Bourbon-and-Cola Glaze over cakes.

Take note: Batter can be poured into 1 greased and floured 15-cup Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Bourbon-and- Cola Glaze:
Cook ¼ cup butter, 3 Tbsp. cola soft drink, and 2 ½ Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts. Remove from heat; stir in 1 Tbsp. bourbon. Beat in 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Makes 1 ¾ cups