Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

I debated about whether I should share a sweet or a savory recipe with you today.  And it wasn’t an easy decision.  Cookies, bars, or burgers?  But I felt really strongly about you guys needing these burgers in your lives.  Like, pull-that-bacon-and-ground-beef-out-of-the-freezer-before-you-go-to-work strongly.  You’ll regret not putting them on your tables tonight.

OK, maybe if you’re having pizza tonight you won’t regret not having these burgers but for the love of all things good, don’t let the weekend go by without them.  The burgers infused with bits of finely diced bacon and then they’re topped with this other-worldly concoction of slow cooked red onions mixed with [yes more] bacon and balsamic vinegar that thickens into a jammy sauce.  A nice liberal slice of sharp cheddar finishes everything off and by the end of dinner, you’ll wish you had the chance to rewind and start it all over again.  Damn that lack of time travel thing.

We served some baked oven fries alongside these babies but frankly, any typical burger side will work here too, as would a heaping mound of grilled veggies or fresh fruit (you know, for the guilt-factor).  We’ve found our new favorite burger and you can assume that if you’re coming to our house for dinner any time this summer, these are what we’ll be making for you!

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

Yield: 4 servings


    For the Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam:
  • 4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, sliced into ½-inch wide pieces
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup water
  • For the Burgers:
  • 2 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef (85% or 90% lean)
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • Sliced sharp cheddar cheese, optional


  1. To make the jam: Heat a large saute pan (that has a cover) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned but not crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and let it drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain off all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease and then stir in the onions, about 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cover the pan to cook the onions for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and in a splash of water, scraping the bits off of the bottom of the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon. Recover the pan and cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
  2. After the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and water then return the bacon to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens and is almost completely absorbed, about 2-4 minutes (mine definitely took upwards of 4 minutes). At this point, the jam can be covered and refrigerated (you can make it up to 2 days in advance). If using immediately, set it aside in a bowl until ready to use.
  3. To make the burgers: Using a fork, lightly mix the finely diced bacon with the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and ground pepper in a medium bowl until the ingredients form a uniform mixture. Shape the burger mixture into four equal-sized patties, about 1-inch thick. Cook the burgers on a grill pre-heated to medium-high, about 4-5 minutes per side. Once you flip the burgers, add the cheese (if the cheese is thinly sliced, give it a minute or two on the second side before adding it). Once cooked to desired doneness, remove the burgers from the grill and set them aside to rest for 5 minutes before adding the topping, placing on the buns, and serving. No ketchup required.


source: adapted from Fine Cooking, July 2011, via Annie’s Eats and Cook Like a Champion

Light Meals for Hot Nights

I don’t know about you guys but I hate cooking when it’s 90+ degrees.  And I realize that if I lived in Texas, I’d have serious issues but let’s face it, somebody has to get dinner on the table.  So when it’s hotter than heck outside, it might as well be an easy meal even if the A/C is blasting all summer long (like in our wussie house)  Here a few of our favorites:

[Photos listed Left to Right, Top to Bottom]

  1. Watermelon Feta Mixed Greens Salad
  2. Greek Grilled Chicken
  3. Tabbouleh
  4. Grilled Spice-Rubbed Shrimp Nicoise Salad
  5. Chipotle & Honey Glazed Grilled Chicken
  6. Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
  7. Greek Panzanella
  8. Bruschetta with Sweet Red Peppers and Gorgonzola
  9. Spicy Bean Burritos
Quick-Brined Barbecued Chicken Thighs

A couple of years ago, after brining my first turkey for Thanksgiving, I vowed to brine all of the chickens we roasted going forward.  Let’s be real here: that never happened.  I rarely have enough forethought 12-24 hours in advance of roasting a chicken to put a brine together but when I came across a quick brine for chicken thighs one weekend recently, I was all over it.  A 6 hour brine was perfect for me – I could toss the chicken in the brine at noon, have the entire afternoon to work in the yard while fighting off the ever-present bees (I’m a magnet) and reapplying the sunscreen (yes, I burn in my backyard in May), then run inside to shower and have the grill fired up by 6.  Yes, brining chicken pieces is that easy.  Of course the bbq sauce I made for this chicken was just plain stellar, but it really played a supporting role here.  The brined chicken, much like a brined turkey, was tender and moist (shudder word) and for dark meat, the thighs cooked relatively quickly on the grill.  We served this bbq chicken alongside some revolutionary bacon ranch potato salad and I know our garden Beefsteaks will perfectly round out this meal later on in the summer (just pray we can defeat the blight this year).

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

Sometime around 1999, I tried a veggie burger for the first time.  It was frozen, from the grocery store, and not as horrific as my little brother proclaimed it was.  Actually, I kind of liked it but then proceeded not to eat another one ever again.  And for no specific reason, just that beef [or chicken or turkey] burgers made more sense to me.  Flash forward to 2012 where about 50% of our meals each week are vegetarian.  This time, I have specific reasons: increasing the number of [oftentimes] lower caloric and nutrient-rich veggie-packed meals we eat, lowering our carbon footprint, saving a few bucks on meat that seems to be ever-so expensive these days, and do I even have to mention pink slime?  (Whole Foods in Danbury, CT, please hurry up and get built!!!)


For at least a year now, I’ve been wanting to make veggie burgers at home and I’m so, so glad I finally did because I totally fell in love with them.  Earthy and deeply, almost roasted flavored from sautéed vegetables and mushrooms, these burgers are a meal by themselves.  Primarily held together by a mixture of lentils, black beans, bulger, and panko breadcrumbs, the texture is decent – definitely not cardboard-esque like those which hail from the freezer section but more like that of a crab cake: light, soft, and a little messy (though not messy to cook, just a little messy to eat).  Grilled or pan-fried, served atop some homemade buns with your choice of toppings and a little garlic aioli, and you’ve got yourself a hearty and completely satisfying meatless burger.  The only downfall to this recipe is that it isn’t a quick one.  I felt like I used every pan and bowl in my kitchen that night last week and from start to finish, these burgers took me about an hour to make.  The good thing is that the recipe yields 12 large burgers (there’s no harm in even making them a little smaller) and you can freeze the uncooked remaining veggie burger patties.  For this I’m ecstatic because now I’ve got an instant and fabulous dinner ready for when we’re ready to fire up our new grill!

Grilled Greek Chicken


Hunting for new and exciting boneless chicken breast recipes never gets old to me.  I would say that in an average month, we try 4-5 new recipes involving the “plain Jane” of chicken pieces but because you’re not seeing 4-5 new chicken recipes here each month, you can safely assume that most of them are not, in my overly selective eyes, worthy of sharing with you.

Lemon Thyme

And then along came this grilled Greek chicken recipe.  I was smitten at the word “Greek.”  Though you may have already guessed that from my professed infatuation for feta cheese.  Maybe to your dismay, this post isn’t about the feta though.  It’s about the chicken and after tasting this chicken, you may understand why I forgot to put the feta in the cucumber tomato salad (whoops).  The chicken really has a chance to cozy up with a marinade of bold citrus, a generous amount of garlic, and a handful of garden fresh herbs and after 48 hours in this marinade, the plain Jane chicken breast emerges as a Greek goddess.  It’s true.  The chicken is transformed and I can guarantee that, upon being grilled, you will not end up a with a dry piece of chicken.  The marinade penetrates itself into the chicken breast (after 48 hours in a plastic bag, it needs somewhere to go!), leaving the chicken fork-tender and dripping with the earthy flavor of the garlic and fresh herbs.  Overall, I’m thrilled at having found this recipe and I know it’s one that I’ll be excited to keep in our rotation.  And next time, maybe I won’t be so distracted by this glorious chicken that I’ll remember the feta.


BBQ Chicken Burgers


If you’re familiar with New England vernacular, you’ve heard the term “wicked good” being thrown around a bit.  Meaning insanely good, it’s a term I’ve been resistant to, being from “Lawng” Island, and all.  And for years after I started attending college in Connecticut way back in the 90s, I couldn’t help but cringe when it emerged in conversation.

But despite my dislike for all things “wicked good,” I couldn’t come up with a better way to describe these BBQ Chicken Burgers.  With an ingredient list that includes a homemade bbq sauce, cilantro, and scallions, my pal Josie completely outdid herself when she developed this recipe.  If you want to go a step further with the recipe, Josie suggests adding some barbecued pulled pork which will add a touch of smokiness to the burgers (I foolishly didn’t think far enough in advance to take the pulled pork out of the freezer).  Oh yeah…pulled pork inside a grilled chicken burger.  Josie is from the South, after all, and I suppose she’s got some vintage cookbook about 101 ways to work with pulled pork floating around her kitchen just like I’m sure she’s got one with 101 ways to wield peaches. 😉 Regardless of where she got the brilliant idea for these burgers, I foresee them making the cut for my weekly menu at least 6 or 7 more times this summer.

BBQ Chicken Burgers

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 burgers

I realize that ground chicken has a reputation for being dry when cooked but even with the addition of cornmeal to the chicken, these burgers retain plenty of their moisture while on the grill. If you’re worried, you can add a little extra bbq sauce; they will be almost too wet to put on the grill so be sure you oil the grates well and have faith that they’ll be great!


    For the bbq sauce:
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp very finely chopped (or grated) onion
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • For the burgers:
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ½ cup crumbled cornbread or ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped pulled pork (optional)
  • 5 tbsp bbq sauce, divided
  • For serving:
  • Grilled red onion slices
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
  • Additional bbq sauce
  • Hamburger buns


  1. To make the sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Cook the sauce about 7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be reduced down to approximately 1 cup. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for about 1 week.
  2. To make the burgers: Heat the grill to medium-high.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cornbread, scallion, cilantro, paprika, garlic, mustard, salt, cayenne, brown sugar, pork, and 2 tablespoons of the bbq sauce. Lightly but thoroughly mix with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of bbq sauce to a small bowl.
  4. Form the mixture into 4 equal-sized patties. Brush the grates of the grill with olive oil. Place the burgers and onions on the grill, and cook the burgers 5-6 minutes, then flip. Turn the onions as well. Brush the cooked sides with half the reserved bbq sauce. After 3-4 minutes, flip the burgers again. glazing the other side with the remaining bbq sauce. Place a slice of cheese on each patty, and lay the buns, cut side down, on the grill. Close the lid and allow the cheese to melt and the buns to toast.
  5. Remove all the food from the grill, assembling the burgers as desired. Serve with additional bbq sauce if desired.


sources: burgers adapted from Pink Parsley | bbq sauce adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Annie’s Eats

Grilled Shrimp & Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze

If you haven’t picked up the June 2010 Bon Appétit yet, you are sorely missing out.  Featured in this month’s magazine is the Ultimate Summer Menu Guide with more than 2,600 different mix-and-match menu combinations from 30 different dishes.  2,688 to be exact.  That’s incredible!  The first recipe I chose from the mouth-watering list of 30 was probably the most obvious: the cover recipe, Grilled Shrimp & Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze.  Certainly a mouthful of a recipe name but seriously one of the best dishes I’ve made in a long, long time.  This recipe lived up to everything I hoped it would be.  The skewers were smoky, spicy and savory.  And they were delicious.  Better yet, the recipe was a piece of cake to put together and should you be planning for guests, the skewers can be assembled hours in advanced and chilled until you’re ready to grill them.   Don’t ya just love that?!

Spring Green Risotto with Grilled Herb Shrimp

Do yourselves a favor and don’t wait as long I did to make this risotto! Seriously, I put off making this May Barefoot Bloggers recipe for an entire month because I just wasn’t thrilled with the idea of risotto surrounded by a bunch of veggies but this recipe was such a pleasant surprise.  I paired it with a highly modified version of the other BB recipe for the May, Grilled Herb Shrimp, and the shrimp really rounded out the meal.  As all of Ina’s recipes do, the full risotto recipe makes a lot (6 meal servings rather than the 4 Ina suggests) but neither of us are complaining about having leftovers for lunch for the next couple of days.  And even though the recipe name suggests that it’s a spring recipe, all of the ingredients are available year-round; they just happen to be less expensive this time of year.  Really though like I said, don’t wait to make too long to make this – you’ll regret it like I did!

Many thanks to Kimberly from Indulge and Enjoy for choosing the risotto and to Penny of Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen for choosing the shrimp recipe for May’s BB choices!

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas

When I saw this recipe posted over at Ezra Pound Cake (my co-conspirator for Barefoot Bloggers) this summer, I knew I needed to make it.  I mean, seriously…how incredible do these quesadillas look??  Well, these zucchini and corn quesadillas were out.standing. Really.  The veggies were perfectly sautéed while retaining just enough crunch to complement the soft, melted cheese.  The only change I made to the recipe was to use a nice sharp cheddar in place of the pepper Jack and it was a great choice to use here.  If you’re not looking for heat in recipe like this, be sure to use a cheese with some “umph” like sharp cheddar.  While I love Monterrey Jack, I think it would get lost in this recipe.  As a vegetarian meal, we were perfectly satisfied but if you need the meat, some grilled or sautéed chicken would probably be delicious added to the quesadillas.  I think what I’m most excited about is that you can use frozen corn if fresh corn isn’t in season and that zucchini is available year-round in the grocery stores so we won’t have to wait until next summer to eat these again!

Chicken Satay with Peanut-Chutney Sauce

July 2009 3 037

I’m all about trying new dishes these days.  And by new, I mean new recipes and new kinds of food I never thought I’d like.  I’ve been wanting to make some kind of chicken satay for months now and finally came across a recipe I was happy with on the Martha Stewart website one day a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, it took me some time to find the necessary mango chutney for the recipe but finally came across it last week in Whole Foods.  Love that store!

July 2009 3 036

This recipe definitely did not disappoint.  In fact, it was pretty damn awesome!  The sauce took 5 minutes to put together (not nearly close to the 45 minutes the recipe suggests) and was absolutely delicious with the soy sauce-grilled chicken.  I used natural peanut butter (as suggested) and added an extra tablespoon of the chutney to the sauce because 3 tablespoons wasn’t quite sweet enough to balance the peanut butter.  One note if you’re going to use wooden skewers for the chicken.  Be sure to soak them for at least 30 minutes.  It will prevent burning on the grill and will help to get the chicken pieces off after you’ve grilled them.  If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal or even a fancy appetizer for your next party, you must try this recipe – you will not be let down.

PS – This recipe makes a lot of sauce.  Either refrigerate the leftovers for another meal or cut the recipe in half.

Chipotle Honey Glazed Chicken

THIS is the recipe that sold me on purchasing Bobby Flay’s Grill It! A few of the recipes definitely caught my eye that day in the bookstore while I flipped through the book but this chipotle honey glazed chicken was the recipe that made need this cookbook.  I wasn’t crazy about making wings so boneless skinless breasts it was.  And this recipe certainly did not disappoint. You know sometimes when eating spicy food that you can’t taste anything because it’s just so spicy?  Well you won’t find that here. It was sweet and spicy – most definitely spicy – but the rest of the flavors really came through and the chipotles didn’t overpower at all.

As far as the ingredient list goes, it’s a little on the long side, but I’d bet that most people have most of what’s needed in their pantries already.  The one spice I was missing was the ancho chili powder and since there have been a few recipes I’ve passed over because I didn’t have any, I decided it was time to invest.  I figured that there was a reason why recipes called for ancho rather than regular chili powder and I’m so glad to have finally made the leap after being so freaked out about a little spicy heat in my food for so long.  I absolutely adored this dish – and so did my stuffed-up-allergy-ridden sinuses!


Two Years Ago: Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese, Chicken Parm, and Crunchy Noodle Salad


Grilled Spice-Rubbed Shrimp “Niçoise” Salad

Up until about 3 months ago, I wasn’t able to watch any Bobby Flay show on FoodNetwork with Kyle in the room.  He couldn’t stand Bobby, saying that he was way too full of himself. Well, duh. But I’ve always thought that this personality trait was what made Bobby so good at what he does.  And because of this pull and push about this FN celeb, I never really got around to making any of Bobby’s recipes until we came across a recipe for sausage-stuffed portobello mushrooms back in March.  We loved the recipe but I never blogged about it because my photos were horrific – you can pop over to Annie’s blog for the recipe and some really pretty photos though.  And after testing this one out, we were both sold on Bobby’s abilities.  After all that time.  But I digress.

So when perusing the cookbook section of my local bookstore last month, I picked up Bobby’s Grill It! cookbook and after flipping through for a few minutes, I was sold.  This recipe here is the first one we’ve tried from the book and we were very, very pleased with the results.  And you can thank Kyle for choosing it (go figure).   It is a wee bit time-consuming of a recipe and I requested that Kyle help me with the prep the next time we make it but the salad was certainly worth every bit of my time; it was FABULOUS!!!  I do recommend cutting down the spice rub for the shrimp by half because it was very strong but I wouldn’t change a single thing about the rest of the recipe.  It’s a salad full of beans, tomatoes, onions, grilled fingerling potatoes (yum!!!) and topped with grilled shrimp (though traditionally topped with tuna) and a delicious vinaigrette. And mom, if you’re reading this, I ate  (and loved!) the green beans!! Only you would be so proud!!  So if you’re looking for an impressive main course salad to serve to guests this summer, you must give this one a try!!

Grilled Spice-Rubbed Shrimp “Niçoise” Salad

source: Bobby Flay, Grill It!, pages 227-228

For the salad:

  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces fresh wax beans (which I couldn’t find so I omitted)
  • 4 ounces fresh green beans
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound red and yellow grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Niçoise Vinaigrette, recipe follows

For the Spice-Rubbed Shrimp:

  • 4 teaspoons ground fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound jumbo (21 to 25 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water and set aside.
  2. Bring a medium pot of salted cold water to a boil. Add the yellow and green beans and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until just crisp-tender. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking. Let sit in the ice water for a few minutes, and then drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with salted cold water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are almost cooked through (a knife or skewer inserted into the center should meet just a little resistance), 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and let cool slightly.
  4. Heat your grill to high.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes lengthwise, brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, cut side down, and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and grill until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Keep the grill on.
  6. Combine the cooked beans, grilled potatoes, tomatoes, onion, basil and parsley in a large bowl. Ad the vinaigrette and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit at room temperature while you prepare the shrimp.
  7. To make the spice rub, combine the fennel, mustard and coriander with the salt and pepper in a bowl.
  8. Put the shrimp in a large bowl and toss with the spice rub until evenly coated. Add the 1/4 cup olive oil and toss to coat. Place the shrimp on the grates of the grill in an even layer and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and continue grilling until just cooked through, 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.
  9. Arrange the salad on 4 large plates and top with the shrimp.

For the Niçoise Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (don’t skip this!!)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic and anchovy paste and season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Chicken Gyros

chicken gyros 1

I think you might find this very recipe pop up on a few other blogs in the coming days and I certainly hope you will consider making it yourself because these gyros are fantastic!! Granted, neither Kyle nor myself had ever eaten gyros before so we don’t really have anything to compare them to but when I saw them over at Annie’s Eats and that they were Elly’s recipe, I had to give them a fair shot.  How could they not be good coming from a person whose blog name is Elly Says Opa! ??

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make this one but trust me, you won’t be sorry! I had huge issues straining the water off the yogurt with cheesecloth and after a huge white mess I figured out how to make it work.  I only let it strain for about 2 hours but the leftover yogurt seemed to be plenty thick enough.  I should have read Elly’s tzatziki post before making it since she does note that using Greek yogurt (like Fage) will work fine because it is already strained and thick.  This would have considerably cut down on the prep time. And in another attempt to cut down on the prep time, I took Annie’s suggestion and use my food processor’s shredder attachment (for the first time which was tons of fun!!).

The chicken was bursting with flavor with a little tanginess from the yogurt in the marinade and the tzatziki sauce was both refreshing from the cukes and powerful from the fresh garlic (which we love!).  And the combination of the tzatziki and the chicken was to die for.  My only regret about the dish was not making my own pitas, which I will definitely do this weekend when I make these gyros again.  I ran out of time on Sunday and was bouncing between the yard and the kitchen trying to get things done in both areas and making pitas just wasn’t in the cards.  Keep your eye open for that post next week though!!


One year ago: Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

Two years ago: Creamy Orzo with Herb-Rubbed Grilled Chicken


Chinese Chicken Salad


We’ve introduced a new feature to Barefoot Bloggers called Barefoot Backtracker which gives the group members the opportunity to choose a past BB recipe and either make it again with improvements or to choose a past BB recipe they may have missed.  Well, I missed this one.  Regrettably, I might add.  For whatever reason, I dreaded making this recipe; but it was most likely because I got hung up on roasting the chicken on the bone in the oven.  Always a pain in the you-know-what to me.  So I put it off for a few days which became a few weeks…and before I knew it, it was May. Damn.  And after reading all of the glowing comments about this recipe, I was really kicking myself for skipping it.  Which is why you see it today in place of the Tuna Salad that was chosen.

In short, this was a fantastic recipe!!!  I was totally blown away by how the flavors of the dressing came together and meshed so beautifully.  I ended up grilling the chicken rather than roasting it and cut it into cubes – shredding it seemed like too much work!  This recipe as a whole is a lot like Ina’s Crunchy Noodle Salad and since I remember that Kyle wasn’t a huge fan of this dish, I cut back on the peanut butter by about a tablespoon or so.  Also, since I’m back on WW again ::sigh:: I probably should have “pointed” the sauce before making it because [with a serving of chicken] the dish was about 13 or 14 points per serving.  I figured that next time I make it, I will cut down on the veg oil (to 6tbsp), the sesame oil (to 1tbsp), and peanut butter (to 3tbsp) to make it about 11 points, which really isn’t too bad for a nice, filling dinner.

My peanut butter adjustment went over very well and Kyle ended up loving this salad.  Thankfully, because other than grilling the chicken, there is essentially no other cooking involved which makes this perfect for those looming hot summer nights!

My thanks (and apologies for not making this last month!) go out to McKenzie of Kenzie’s Kitchen for choosing this recipe – it seems to be a favorite amongst the group members!

Chinese Chicken Salad

source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!

  • 4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar (I used pomegranate champagne vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons a pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.
  3. Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Honey Lime Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Margarita Slaw

Shrimp Tacos with Margarita Slaw

Carb-free tacos, anyway.  I’ve been in love with fish tacos since first trying them while I in LA for the first time a couple of months ago.  Let’s just say that I’m harboring a not-so-secret love affair with them and have been testing them out wherever I go.  So naturally, when I came across this recipe on the Foodie Bride’s blog, I had to try them.  I wasted no time and picked up the ingredients I needed the first weekend after the recipe was posted.

And holy freaking moly.  This was seriously one of the best recipes I’ve tried in AGES.  The slaw was perfectly limey with just a hint of tequila and the grilled shrimp was quite literally finger-licking good.  I made my own marinade (recipe below) then grilled the shrimp for a couple of minutes on each side.  You can’t go wrong with this marinade – it’s fantastic!!  I served the shrimp directly over the slaw without the tortilla.  If you’re thinking “Wait, shrimp tacos without the tortilla?  Not happening…”  well, the slaw stands up on it’s own and doesn’t need anything else helping it to be better than it already is.  So I ate the slaw more like a salad sans avocado, chipotle mayo, and tortilla.  And it was goooood.


One Year Ago: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake


Honey Lime Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Margarita Slaw

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


    For the margarita slaw:
  • 12 oz (about 7 cups) rainbow salad mix (or coleslaw mix)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ tsp lime zest
  • 1 shot Tequila
  • Dash of Tobasco sauce or other hot sauce
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • For the honey lime marinade and shrimp:
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • chili powder
  • ground cumin
  • ground coriander
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (uncooked)


  1. To make the slaw: Place cabbage and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, lime and orange juices, lime zest, tequila, and Tobasco. Pour over cabbage and toss to coat completely. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold.
  2. To make the marinade and shrimp: In a large zipper bag, combine first 4 ingredients. Add a few sprinkles each of the spices, salt and pepper. Mix well to incorporate the honey into the oil and lime juice. Add the shrimp and toss well to coat. Allow shrimp to marinate 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  3. Allow the shrimp to come to room temperature before grilling to avoid the shrimp from shrinking drastically on the grill. Over a hot grill, grill the shrimp for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on the first side then flip and grill for another 30 seconds. Remove from grill and serve hot over the cool margarita slaw.


sources: Honey Lime Grilled Shrimp: Smells Like Home original | Margarita Slaw: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride which was heavily revised from Bon Appetit and inspired by Canyon Cafe