Bring on Spring (Salads) & Such

SNACKS

Easy Apple Applesauce Muffins  – Sweet, moist, and appley.  Yum.

DINNERS

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – This dinner option never gets old because it’s sooooo good.

Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese – Hello old friend…sorry it’s been so long since we’ve enjoyed spending time eating you!  Seriously people…have you tried this yet?

Spiralized Zucchini “Zoodle” Salad With Tomatoes & Goat Cheese and Pan Seared Chicken Sausage – This is a room temperature salad that would be great for an office luncheon or picnic.  It’s also swell the next day when the flavors have really settled in and made themselves at home.

Greek Salad with Pan Seared Chicken – A super duper easy dinner option that could also work great for an office event too.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Easy Apple Applesauce Muffins

Adapted from Weelicious 

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. homemade buttermilk (see recipe below) or (alternative organic milk)
1/2 c. honey
1 large organic egg
1 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir In Ingredients
1 c. peeled and chopped organic apples (about 2 medium apples)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a muffin pan (alternative: silicone muffin cups).

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Very gently, stir in the apples.  Fill muffin containers ¾ full and bake approximately 15 minutes.

Muffin Tips:

  • Mix/stir as little as possible to create fluffy, moist muffins.
  • I don’t like the clean toothpick test for muffins because they are often overdone. Muffins continue to cook for a bit longer when removed from the oven.  Instead of the toothpick test, watch for them to begin releasing from the edge of the baking cup/tin (and look for a slightly golden color).
  • Once you’ve baked a few batches, you’ll begin to learn your oven’s ideal baking time.

Homemade Buttermilk

Ingredients
2 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice
1 c. organic milk

Directions: Stir together both ingredients in a small bowl and allow rest for 5 minutes.


Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Adapted from Food Network

IMG_7617

Ingredients
1 lb. vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered, & deseeded
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil (divided = 1 T, 2 T.)
Sea salt
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced, optional (but oh so flavorful)
1 (28-ounce) can organic crushed or whole tomatoes (preferably, San Marzano)
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 loaf 100% whole grain sourdough bread, broken into bite sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional topping)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 T. of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss the tomatoes with your hands to evenly cover with oil and salt. Roast in the oven (approximately 20 minutes) or until the edges are browning slightly.

In the meantime, heat a stock pot to medium heat. Add the remaining 2 T. of olive oil, fresh basil, and garlic. Sauté one minute, stirring constantly. Immediately add the canned tomatoes and water (refill the tomato can with water to get all of the tomato bits and juices). With a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the bread. Add the roasted tomatoes when done roasting (don’t forget to reserve a few for the grilled cheese sandwiches). Scrape the baking sheet to get all of the roasted bits and remaining oil. Allow the soup to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. (I like to use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup just a bit).

Serve with a drizzle of the olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Tips:

  • Reserve a few roasted tomatoes for the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • The original recipe calls for “day old” bread. This is not essential. You can use bread straight from the bread bag. It won’t impact the recipe in the least.

Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

IMG_7616

Ingredients
100% whole grain sourdough bread
Organic mozzarella cheese slices or shredded
organic tomatoes, very thinly sliced (alternative: several roasted tomatoes from the soup recipe)
fresh basil leaves

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Assemble the sandwiches as if you were making them for the traditional skillet version.

Sandwich order: bread, cheese, basil leaves, tomatoes, a bit more cheese, and bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Check on the sandwiches a few minutes early to ensure the bread is not getting too dark.


Corn and Tomato Pizza With Cilantro and Goat Cheese

Adapted from Bev Cooks

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Dough
Trader Joe’s premade whole wheat dough, prepared per package directions

Pizza Toppings
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2-3 NON GMO sweet corn ears, shucked and kernels removed (alternative: 2 c. frozen NON GMO sweet corn)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small pkg. organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 c. organic mozzarella, shredded
2 oz. goat cheese
Sea salt/black pepper, freshly ground
Tabasco style hot sauce, optional topping (recommended if you omit the jalapeno)

Directions: Preheat the oven to required pizza dough temperature.

In a medium/large skillet warmed to medium heat, add the olive oil and onion and jalapeno (if using). Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the corn and sauté another 5 minutes. The next step happens quickly because you do not want to burn the garlic! Add the garlic, stirring constantly, allowing it to cook for about a minute or until you can really smell it. Immediately squeeze the lemon over the skillet.  Stir in the cilantro and the cherry tomatoes.  The heat will help the tomatoes to release their juices (about 5 minutes).

Remove from the heat. With the dough on the pizza stone or baking sheet, add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the corn mixture. Crumble the goat cheese atop the pizza and add the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake according to pizza crust directions. This is amazing – especially with a few drops of hot sauce on each slice!!!


Spiralized Zucchini “Zoodle” Salad With Tomatoes & Goat Cheese and Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Mama Balance

Salad Ingredients
3-4 organic zucchini, spiralized
1 pint organic grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ c. fresh organic basil, thinly sliced
1 T. sunflower seeds (alternative: pine nuts)
1.5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients
2 T.  balsamic vinegar (alternative: red wine vinegar)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
½ t. sea salt, freshly ground
¼ t. black pepper, freshly ground
1/8 t. dried crushed red pepper, optional

Directions: Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, assemble the salad in the order listed.  Pour the salad dressing over the top.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste.

[If pairing the salad with chicken sausage, set the salad aside or in the refrigerator.]

Pan sear the chicken sausage.  Serve alongside the salad.


Greek Salad with Pan Seared Chicken

Adapted from Katri

Salad Ingredients
1 pint of organic grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (Alternative: any organic tomato)
1 organic cucumber, chopped (skin on or off, up to you)
1 organic bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 c. Kalamata olives, halved
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients
2 T. of fresh lemon juice (alternative: lime juice)
2 T. vinegar (red or white wine vinegar)
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. of dried parsley, optional
1 t. of sea salt
1/2 t. of freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. of extra virgin olive oil
4 drops organic stevia, optional

Directions: Stir together all ingredients for the dressing. Set aside. Add all veggies and cheese to a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the top, and gently stir. If you can wait, refrigerate this for at least 30 minutes. The flavors will marry and get happier the longer they hang out together.

While the salad flavors spend some time getting to know each other, pan sear the chicken.

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