A FEAST Fit for Fall’s Bounty

16 Sep

 

Ready for a taste of fall’s bounty

A Taste for Fall

Fall is beginning its descent all across the country. Here in Portland, it’s not coming fast enough for me. I’m ready for it to kick into high gear — maybe even wanting to force it a little before its true time.

As a fall baby, I’ve always had a great affinity for my birth season. Even in the midst of a 80 degree day, I can feel myself wanting to bake more. (I’m working on perfecting a super-moist, gluten-free pumpkin cream cheese muffin with candied pepitas right now. Look for it here on the blog soon!)

While we’re still ending our days by running the in-window air conditioner to get our room cool enough to sleep in the evening, I have a taste for the crunch of leaves under foot, the orange globes of ripened pumpkin flesh floating in Thai curry and the sweet, silken flavors of rich chestnut and vibrant butternut squash soups served with a crunchy baguette and a creamy shmear of  triple cream brie.

An Apology

Things have been a bit slow on the blog lately. For that, I apologize to you my Groovy Readers. Besides the usual balancing act of  running a freelance writing business and the needs of an extremely active and talkative toddler, I’ve been juggling two major ghostwriting projects due before the end of the year,  a visit from the mother-in-law, my son’s 4th birthday, the addition of  a bit of summer fun and the delicious foodie-focused events (IFBC and FEAST Portland) descending on Portland lately.

All of this has left little time for blogging, hence the wonderful guest post by my dear friend Brad over at Cast Iron Stomach last week. Brad has inspired me to purchase my own canning supplies and make my own fresh jam with the last of summer’s berry bounty, crisp homemade pickles and juicy bright flavors of homemade pasta sauce.

A FEAST to Kick-Off the Fall Season

In fact, over the course of the next couple months you can expect to see all of these recipes and more as I enter my favorite season for cooking — Fall.  Kicking things off in a big way is Oregon’s first-ever food culture festival, FEAST Portland: A Celebration of Oregon’s bounty.

It’s four days (September 20-23, 2012) of foodie bliss that promises to not only set foodie hearts aflutter with the likes of Mark Bittman, Food Editors from Bon Appetit and Portland Monthly and top chefs from around the country giving cooking demonstrations, talks and serving up some the best food Oregon has to offer, but all net proceeds will go to help end childhood hunger in our area.  Win, win, WIN!!

Check out my FEAST Preview Post on Oregonlive.com later in the week to plan your schedule of all the action.

 

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New Cooking Tools: A Busy Mom’s Best Friend

9 Sep

RIP old friend

The Loss of a Few Trusted Old Friends

Two years ago, my toaster oven died and I didn’t have the funds to replace it, so we began using the oven for our toast in the morning. We found it worked just fine as long as you kept an eye on the toast and remembered to flip it.  I had loved using my toaster oven in the summer for baking fish and other foods. It kept the heat in the house down and it did a great job at keeping the fish juicy too!  I’ve improvised without it for the last two years.

Then, last year, unexpectedly, as I was making a beautiful tomatillo sauce in my Cuisinart Classic Pro, I heard this VERY BAD sound in my processor, like metallic ricocheting off the sides of the bowl, as the blade in my processor whirred. I immediately stopped processing and found that a small chunk of metal had come off the blade and was being whipped around in my sauce. The blade and the sauce both went in the trash. When I contacted Cuisinart about it, they said they’d never heard of someone having a problem like this and that I could PURCHASE a new blade in their online store (the machine was like 10 to 13 years old and I didn’t even remember where I bought it, let alone had a receipt.)

A replacement blade was $40 a pop, but a new Cuisinart in the same model was selling for $89 on Amazon — but, I just couldn’t do it. I’d wait until I could afford a new machine (especially when pleas to Cuisnart’s marketing department for a partnership with my blog fell on deaf ears.)

So I began using my $10 blender for sauces and soups. At first,  everything seemed fine, I could still use my old Cuisinart to grate cheese, shred potatoes for hash browns and slice veggies — that is, until, rather suddenly, one day a big chunk of plastic to the locking mechanism on the machine’s lid flew off as it was grating some cheddar. The machine immediately stopped and so did my dreams of fast, easy cooking. I could not afford to replace the machine at the time. I was smack dab in the middle of launching my own writing business, in the most competitive writing market ever and the worst economy since the depression. Convenience was a luxury my family could NOT afford.

My third birthday with the cake my momma made.

The Cooking Lesson

What I learned from this experience is that poverty is something that can keep your cooking lean, mean and unpretentious. I grew up poor. My mom used the same dented, banged up and chipped pans and bowls my entire childhood. She never knew anything about Henkels or Wusthof knives, she didn’t use specialty avocado tools like those made by OXO, she didn’t own a food processor or an ice cream maker. There were no ricers, salad spinners or meat grinders.

My mother rolled and cut her homemade egg noodles by hand and then hung them on string throughout the house to let them air dry. The fanciest tool in her kitchen was an old stainless steel french fry cutter she picked up at an antique store around the corner from our apartment. She had only four cookbooks to her name — 2 classics (one of these a Betty Crocker), 2 obscure (including one that was just a collection of army wives’ recipes from my dad’s troop in Germany).

None of it mattered — what she didn’t have in tools, she made up for in tenacity, skill, love for her family and her love for cooking. Her repertoire included many Mexican favorites (she grew up in Los Alamitos, California) like chile rellanos and enchiladas, as well as dishes like lasagna, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, eggplant parmigiana, chicken and dumplings (with those homemade egg noodles) and dark chocolate satin pie (I swear, I requested this for my birthday every year for like 10 years!)

My mom’s kitchen tools may not have been worthy of the likes of Gordon Ramsay, but they made great meals, just the same.

Without the fancy doohickeys and time-saving devices, you learn how to cut, grate, chop and pulverize with much more efficiency — real chef skills. You learn that even a $10 blender can help take the place of a $150 food processor for soup,  sauce, and quinoa cupcake batter and that a cute and willing hubby can grate cheese just as fast.

My new baby!

Tickled Pink: Welcome Home New Besties

Still, when I received my advance for the book I’m working on, among the first purchases I made were those to replace these kitchen convenience items. After much research (looking at competing brands, reading reviews and talking to fellow food bloggers) I PURCHASED the new Cuisinart 12 cup Elite food processor in hot pink, the matching blender, and a Cuisinart toaster/convection oven.

I didn’t set out to buy Cuisinart again but when the feedback you get is this resounding (and the color is so sassy!) you just have to go for it. The great thing about the fact that I purchased these myself is that my readers (you guys) will know with 100% certainty that I have no feelings of obligation towards this brand and that over the course of the time that I use these on my blog — I will give you the straight dope on whether the purchases were worth it or not (so far it’s been bliss.)

Mama’s lil helper

Mama Needs a Little Help in the Kitchen

Why’d I go back to the tools? Because, when you’re busy juggling it all — a little help and a little speed are a welcome reprieve.  But the lessons I learned by first not having, then having and losing, will remain with me as a cook. They are the same lessons I take with me in life:

  • You can do a lot with a little
  • With a little ingenuity, a dash of commitment and fueled by love you can make magic happen
  • It’s not the tools, it’s the heart
  • Money can buy ease and convenience but not true joy

Tell me what your favorite tool in the kitchen is and what you love to make with it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Cooking!

It’s mate. . .

How to Make Jam: Jamming with the Cast Iron Stomach

4 Sep

Today’s guest post is courtesy of my friend Brad. Brad is my oldest friend in life — which is saying a lot for a girl who attended 4 elementary schools, 4 junior high schools and 2 high schools. I have known him since I was 14 years old, where we met under our desks during a disaster drill (remember those?) in Mr. Seifert’s class.

The way they were . . .Brad and Karen in 1988 from our high school yearbook (Aren’t they adorable?!)

Brad and his BFF Karen (who also attended our old alma mater) are just kicking things off at their new foodie blog Cast Iron Stomach. (Check out his post on The Bad Egg— great primer on how to tell fresh eggs.)

Just one of the many glorious tables at Brad’s famous wine and cheese party

Anyway, I LOVE Brad (and by proxy Karen, too!) The man has always had a great sense of style (Generra and Swatch in the 80’s anyone?), an awesome sense of humor (he once bought me a can of Pringles for my birthday because I loved them so much!) and a flair for the written word (you should see the poems we co-authored in journalism class!)

When the “oh so very rad,” Brad (Yes, I am a product of California circa the 80’s, lol) told me that he and Karen were starting a new food blog and I found out that he’d recently spent a day making homemade jam, I begged for a guest post to share with you all.

So, without any further adieu, I give you my dear friend Brad and his out of this world jam (one jar of each flavor, I hope is on its way to my house right now. Hint, Hint, Brad!)

In the interest of fairness — me in 1989 (I’m in the black and white skorts.)

The Way of the Jam

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve always been surrounded by fresh produce. Every year my parents would plant a summer garden consisting of everything from zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes to green beans, corn and peppers. There was always an abundance of produce when growing up.

When my parents were not growing produce in the back yard of our house in San Lorenzo, the family would often make trips to Brentwood for U-Pick produce: Tomatoes and peaches were always on the list, but we always came home with a trunk full of different fruits and vegetables.

Since we couldn’t possibly eat all this produce before it went bad, my mother would turn to what every mother at that time and before hers turned to; home canning. When she made homemade jam, my brother, sister and I could hardly wait for it to cool. We just wanted to dig in.

Twenty-something years later, I decided to give canning a try of my own. About 10 years ago, I started canning tomatoes and peaches (separately of course) with my mom in my tiny apartment kitchen in Alameda, producing excellent results.

The tomatoes I canned were great in soups and stews as well as tomato sauces for pasta and chili. The peaches were fantastic in peach cobblers or straight from a bowl. Yummy.
A few years have passed since I’ve pulled out the canning equipment, but this past Spring I decided to haul it out and start making jam.

Jam Research & Equipment

I did a good amount of research, turning to my mom for advice as well as talking to others about the process. I had almost all the equipment I needed, but one thing I ultimately desired was a French, unlined copper confiture pan, which I quickly went out and purchased at my local Williams-Sonoma. Note: You do not need a copper pot. A stainless pot, or any non-reactive pot, will work just fine.

Over the next several months, I made several batches of jam: Apricot, Strawberry, Fig and Blackberry. Each batch turned out wonderful. (I credit the copper pan for that.) My favorite, however, has to be Apricot.

Apricot Jam — YUM!

As summer 2012 winds to an end, summer’s produce will soon be replaced by autumn’s fresh citrus. My father’s favorite marmalade will be my next canning journey. I hope I’ve inspired you to make some jam for yourself. Jam making is a comforting and enjoyable process — definitely worth the extra effort.

Cheers,

Brad Michaelis

Cast Iron Stomach

Brad’s Tips for Beginning Jammers

  • Be organized.  It’s best to lay out all your ingredients and equipment before you start making jam.
  • Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Be sure to sanitize ALL your equipment before you start especially the jars, lids and bands.
  • Keep jars hot in the dishwasher or in a pot of boiling water until ready to use.
  • Buy the best, freshest produce possible.
  • Follow your preferred canning instructions precisely. (I use the water bath method outlined in the Ball Blue Book)
  • Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.

How to Make Apricot Jam

Adapted from The Blue Chairs Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders

  • 6 pounds Patterson apricots, pitted and halved
  • 2 1/2 pounds cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
 (Makes two batches)

Slice the apricots in half and remove the pits.
Divide the apricots and sugar in two separate bowls.
Mix well.
Cover and let macerate in the fridge for at least 12 hours or overnight.
The next day, remove the apricots from the fridge.
Uncover and pour one bowl of apricots into the jam pot.
Reserve the second bowl for your next batch.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat stirring frequently.
After the apricots have boiled for three or four minutes, begin skimming off any foam that forms on the top of the mixture.
Decrease heat and continue to cook for about 30 minutes or until thickened.
When the jam seems ready, test it for doneness. (Refer to the Ball Canning cookbook for specifics.)
If not set, cook the jam for another couple of minutes.
If the jam is set, pour into sterilized canning jars and process as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cool and enjoy.

Live Food Blogging at the IFBC Portland

24 Aug

This weekend I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference held this year, right here in Portland. It was three days of work (I volunteered), networking, and learning.

This post is from a crazy attempt at “live food blogging” during a speed tasting event we did on day 1. By the end, I was too hopped up on sugar and coffee to make any sense of anything. Though there were 21 vendors present, each table only made it through about 10 vendors each in the time allotted.

Here is my valiant attempt to blog live, as I tasted and conferred (with the lovely Janelle over at Talk of Tomatoes), listened and was brochured, typed and procured (goodies for my temporarily absent table mate, the irascible, Vicki Winters over @mybigmouth on Twitter, who was checking into the hotel downstairs.) In the end, I got a little too loud and silly (after 2 extremely small cups of coffee and about 5 pieces of chocolate — I am such a lightweight!) with the wonderful ladies at Table 22!! Cheers to Janelle, Miss Vicki, Megan, Jacqueln and the gorgeous gals of Maxwell PR — had a blast with you all.

Enjoy!

 

First up: Oregon Blackberry-Ginger Dressing over Salmon and Summer Vegetable Salad

Served: by the Chef from Adalu Stew (uses food as the foundation for cancer care to optimize health) on a small bamboo app spoon

IMPRESSION:Delish, fresh, light, clean and with a clear asian influence

 

Second: Silverspot IPA (Pelican Pub and Brewery)

IMPRESSION: This beer is 6%ABV English style IPA, not hoppy, the IBU is 55 (not gluten-free)

BONUS: Portion of the proceeds goes to collaborative habitat restoration for the threatened species of Oregon silverspot butterfly

 

3rd: Nicky USA Purveyors of specialty game and high quality meat (local PacNW)

Dish: Tartar Water Buffalo on a cracker, Jacobson’s sea salt, lemon, capers

IMPRESSION: So delicious, fresh and savory, yet light with the lemon

 

FOURTH: Rockfish Bakery Cafe, Lincoln City, Oregon

DISH: Sourdough Bread

IMPRESSION: I didn’t taste it (not gluten-free) but tablemates say it’s very good bread, great chew, good crackle,and a mild sour flavor. “It’s worth the carbs to eat bread this good!”

Cool Stuff: Naturally risen bread, takes 2 days to make, simple ingredient recipes

 

5th: Wild Caught Oregon Albacore (OregonCoast.org, Lincoln, City, Oregon)

DISH: Classic Tuna Salad sandwich

IMPRESSION:Yum! Looking at the fresh canned/jarred tuna and finding out how to get from my local Oregon fisherman (will fill you all in later on a future blog!)

 

6th: Jacobsen Sea Salt

DISH: small bites, sourdough bread with butter, honey and sea salt

IMPRESSION:Lovely seas salt, knowledgeable purveyor

7th: Happyrock Coffee Roastery

DISH: Coffee (just a taste in a dixie type cup)

IMPRESSION: nicely roasted flavor, not too acrid and it packed a caffeinated whollop!

 

8th: Coastal Mist Chocolates

Dish: Box of chocolates for the table to share! Yay!

IMPRESSION: Gorgeous looking chocolates, not sure if they’re fair trade or not. Some flavors were really interesting like the yuzku, others (like the marshmallow filled) left something to be desired. All were beautiful looking though and it was awesome of them to give each table a box.

9th: Temptress Truffles

Dish: sliced apple with truffle salted caramel sauce

IMPRESSION: Divine — this was the BIGGEST hit at our table. Not only was her truffle sauce out of this world BUT she was just too sweet and adorable to not fall in love with her! You MUST support this micro-business — she’s the real deal!

10th & Final: Fishes Sushi and Japanese Cuisine

Dish: 1 slice of a crab roll with Oregon wasabi

IMPRESSION: Yum! But I needed more and some saki. 🙂

 

 

 

Bonus: Blackberries are high in antioxidants and fiber

 

Beat Your Soda Addiction: Go Sugar-Free with Stevia

19 Jul

As part our family’s commitment to Build A Better Me this year, we have eliminated gluten in our diets, reduced the overall carbs in our family’s food choices, and adopted a mostly Paleo style diet. But the most compelling change in our household came for my husband. It was over a year ago now, that he drank his last soda and he did it with some help from a little herb called Stevia.

Which is why I was so excited when my favorite purveyor of liquid Stevia — NuNaturals, contacted me and offered to send me a selection of their Stevia products. After chatting with Ron over at NuNaturals, I was excited to find that he was going to send out a couple new flavors in their liquid Stevia line (peppermint and orange!) for me to try. What he sent was much more than I could have ever expected!

 

My all-time favorite is the alcohol-free vanilla liquid, made with Singing Dog Vanilla (in fact, it was my recent post on homemade Faux Vanilla Frappuccinos that caught their eye.) I use this regularly in my tea, Teecchino, and even in water but the most amazing thing about the vanilla liquid  Stevia is that it helped my hubby beat a lifelong soda addiction (he’s been off soda for over a year now! Yay, honey!)

How to Beat Your Soda Addiction

When I met my husband, he had a serious soda habit. His drug of choice rhymed with Hoka Hole-A. He would drink it from a can or two liter bottle if he had to, but he had a particular fancy for the soda fountain variety, with a little extra syrup in the syrup to carbonation ratio (yes, I know, he had a problem, poor baby!) The worst part is, he was buying several of these 32 to 64 ounce babies a day. He had tried to quit many times before in his life but was NEVER successful.

Then, I came into his life and naturally, as we all do, you want to be the best for the person you love, so he began focusing on his health more, cutting way back on his soda drinking (and eating more vegetables!) but still he never fully was able to wrest himself from soda’s grip (sugar has been determined to be as addictive as cocaine and heroin.) But with the birth of our son, came a new determination for my hubby to stop drinking soda. His own father had passed on at the early age of 53 from a heart attack and my husband decided that whatever he did, he wanted to be in the best shape possible to be around for his son.

Stepping Down, to Step Away

Together we came up with a plan for kicking his deadly soda habit. I call it Stepping Down, to Step Away — he used a replacement method to help him reduce his reliance and finally step away, completely, from soda — this is the most sustainable way I know to quit something. Here are the steps he took:

  • Step 1 Cutback: Reduce the number and frequency of sodas that you ingest throughout the day. How many can you cut out, what meals, times of day can you skip it without replacing it? Do it.
  • Step 2 Drink more water: The more you properly hydrate yourself, the less you’ll be triggered for soda.
  • Step 3 Replace with the Next Best Option : My husband replaced high fructose corn syrup, caffeine and sodium benzoate drenched commercial sodas, with all natural sodas (in cola and ginger ale flavors.) The best brand, hands down, is Blue Sky Naturals which has both a regular and organic line of sodas, both are all natural nothing artificial, no preservatives and all naturally flavored. You can find these at Whole Foods Markets nationwide. They even have a new Stevia sweetened version.
  • Step 3 Go Down to the Next, Next Best Option: Here, the hubs began replacing some of the natural sodas with Dry Soda, a less sweet, all natural, only 4 ingredient soda. It comes in a variety of sexy flavors from rhubarb, blood orange and cucumber to vanilla, lavender, and juniper berry. Delish.
  • Step 4 The BEST level: Here’s where the hubby made the healthiest choice, he made his final step down using the vanilla Stevia Liquid from NuNaturals in his sparkling water. All he needed was 4 to 5 drops to get that sweet but deep vanilla flavor, paired with the tongue tickling bubbles of sparkling water. WIN!

In the beginning, there was just natural soda and that old villain, Hoka Hole-A, but the more he drank the natural soda, the less he relied on the “hard” stuff and pretty soon he was drinking only natural soda (except at the movies, where temptation was greatest!) Then we added Dry Soda to the mix, to reduce his sugar intake, and finally we introduced the vanilla Stevia (stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose levels, so it’s an awesome choice) and sparkling water.

There were times when all of them were in the mix but with perseverance, a good plan and a supportive mate (I even began sneaking paper cups, filled with ice, complete with lids and straws into the movie theater in my big purse, along with ice-cold cans of Blue Sky cola. Once inside, we’d pop the tab and pour it into the cup — he’d get the movie experience he wanted, without all the crap food temptation. Voila!) My sweet hubby became a soda-free man!

The soda-free dude himself.

There were loads of interesting side effects of his quitting soda:

  • He lost weight
  • He is less moody
  • He has way more energy
  • His seasonal allergies have gotten better
  • His digestion is better
  • He’s reduced his chances for diabetes (even 1 soda a day increases your risk!)
  • He’s reduced his chances for heart disease

The bonus? With the Stevia and sparkling water, my hubs still gets to enjoy a really refreshing beverage that helps keep his body well-hydrated, his taste buds satisfied and his body in good health. I am so proud of him — what he did for himself and what he did for our family is significant. He made a choice for better health, to be around for his son (and for me.)

If you’d like tips on how to reduce the sugar in your diet, stop by my friend David’s blog called Stop Being Sweet and see what effects reducing the sugar in your life can make.

WIN a bottle of NuNaturals Pure Liquid alcohol-free Vanilla Stevia

NuNaturals wants to give away a bottle a post (4 total) of each of their enticing liquid Stevia flavors. If you’d like to win my favorite, the vanilla, just visit NuNaturals website’s recipe section and post a comment below telling me what recipe you’d like to use your NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia in.

Extra entries:

Be sure to let me know each of these you did in the comment section below:

Guilt-Free Summer: Frosty Faux Frappuccino

2 Jul
frappuccino homemade and guilt-free

Mmmmm. . . frosty, sweet and creamy — hits the spot!

Here on the blog (and more importantly, in my life) I am always striving to be better and do better. Not only am I gluten-free right now (and way low carb) I have also eliminated sugar and caffeine from the old diet as well. I never know how long this will last, I try my best, but I am far from perfect — I just think it’s important to try to be as healthy as I can be.

That said, as many of you who have tried my recipes know — I will NEVER sacrifice flavor. Continue reading

A Bountiful Bevy of Berry Recipes from a Berrylicious Summer Party

29 Jun

Berry Gazpacho with Basil and Crema

Berries are nature’s candy. There is nothing better than biting into a handful of the sweetest, ripest and juiciest of summer’s bounties — the berry. Berries are so delectable and favored in our house, that my son refers to them as dessert and has, on many occasions, passed on ice cream or a cookie in favor of a juicy crimson-fleshed strawberry (his favorite.)  Not only are they delicious but — wait for it — they pack a wallop when it comes to nutrition. That is, if you eat organic. Continue reading

Sour Cherry and Sour Cream Shake from Adam Ried’s Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes

25 Jun

It’s summer time and though the weather here in the Pacific Northwest hasn’t seemed to have received that memo yet — we at The Groovy Foody have. We’re not gonna let a little lack of sunshine ruin our summer fun, we’re celebrating the kick-off of summer with the bevy creamy treats whipped up by Adam Ried in his freshly released cookbook, Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes. Continue reading

Easy Frozen Fruit Pops

23 Jun

Around here at The Groovy Foody, we’re kind of known for doing more complicated dishes, for delving into alternatives like baking with whole grain quinoa or exploring world cuisine but even the most adventurous foodie among us likes to take part in the simple things.  This is even more imperative on hot days, when you might not want to be hanging around a hot stove and instead enjoying a frozen treat to beat the heat. Continue reading

Summer Strawberry-Hazelnut Chicken Salad

16 Jun

Just another lunch at Casa de Groovy

For our daily lunch over here at Casa de Groovy, we often eat a variety of green salads or things like tuna, salmon or chicken salad on brown rice cake, served with assorted fresh veggies and humus. These lunches are always extremely satisfying, never weigh us down and also help us to avoid that dreaded mid-afternoon slump most folks get after filling up on starchy carbs. But the other day, the hubby felt like chicken salad and we had all the ingredients, except the red grapes we usually use and we had no apples or pears for substitution — what to do? Run to the store? — No way!

Be Inventive!

What we did have was a nest of ripe, red and juicy organic strawberries in the fridge. Would strawberries work? Would their sweetness be overwhelmed by the sharp vinegar of the mayo? I decided to forage through our staples and find this salad’s perfect partners. This is what I came up with:

Greek yogurt, mayo, orange muscat champagne vinegar, bleu cheese, green onions and hazelnuts!

Not only would it work — this might just be the best summer chicken salad ever!

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Markets

That’s what I’m hoping the folks over at Whole Foods will think. They’re celebrating berry season over there and as part of it, yours truly entered a Whole Foods Berry Recipe contest with this recipe (Yay! I hope I win!) Besides that though, I get to take part in the celebration by hosting a berry party for friends (pics and recipes to come!) during the month of June — Coming soon!

Have you ever been out of a key ingredient and found a substitution that blew your socks off? Share your story in the comments below.

Summer Strawberry-Hazelnut Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • About 8 to 10 medium-sized ripe strawberries (chopped)
  • 2 medium chicken breasts (fully cooked)
  • 1/8 cup chopped (or smashed) hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp chopped green onions
  • 1/8 cup mild bleu cheese

Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise or Veganaise
  • 2 Tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp Trader Joe’s Orange-Muscat Champagne Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Squeeze of lemon to make the strawberry’s flavor pop!
  • Salt to taste

Prep

Cook the chicken breast, in the oven, skillet or by boiling, and set aside to cool. Chop the strawberries, hazelnuts and green onions and crumble the bleu cheese, setting each aside, in a separate bowl. When chicken has cooled cut it into small, bite size pieces.

Whisk together the yogurt, mayo, vinegar and cinnamon to make the dressing, adjust seasoning to taste.

Mix all ingredients together with the dressing in a medium-sized bowl and chill for 15 to 20 minutes or up to 1 day. Serve on a rice cake, baguette, flaky croissant or a bed of fresh spinach or mixed greens for the perfect summer chicken salad.

Enjoy!

Perfect with fresh veggies and humus