Simple Lemon Rosemary Chicken Breasts

Inspiration: I’ve been meeting Brandon at his work for lunch every now and then this summer. His work has some nice picnic tables outside where we sit and enjoy a lunch hour together, which is a pretty nice mid-day treat. I’m always trying to think of new lunches to pack, and the thought occurred to me recently to saute up some chicken breasts to take as the main part of our lunches. The great thing about chicken breasts is that they’re great hot, warm, or cold, so they really work perfectly for a packed lunch.

What We Loved: These are so simple to make and have a nice, refreshing flavor. As the title suggests, the two main flavors are the tart lemon and the earthy rosemary, which are really a couple of great complementary ingredients. I just loved how the lemon really cut through and added such a refreshing taste. With some added garlic, some olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper, there couldn’t be a simpler recipe for a nutritious and filling lunch.

Tips: For an even simpler chicken breast lunch, I’ve also been digging through my pantry and coating some chicken breasts in whatever seasoning mixes that I happen to have (jerk rub, Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, etc.). You can’t get much simpler than throwing some seasoning on a piece of chicken, cooking it, and packing it up for lunch.

Simple Lemon Rosemary Chicken Breasts
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2

2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful fresh rosemary, minced
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Few tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish. Add the garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together well with your hands, cover, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

2. Saute or grill the chicken until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Chicken, Avocado, and Blueberry Salad

Inspiration: I whipped this salad up for lunch one day using just about the only odds and ends that I had left in the refrigerator. It was a day when grocery shopping was desperately needed, and I wasn’t really expecting to much enjoy whatever I threw together. It turned out that I loved this salad so much, that I tossed it onto our dinner menu for the next week. We’re not big salad eaters, and I know that Brandon is usually less-than-excited when a salad appears on the menu for dinner, but I think this one deserved a spot.

What We Loved: I just love how the ingredients in this salad play so well off of each other. The flavors and textures of browned chicken, creamy avocado, tart blueberries, and nice chunks of Colby cheese really complement each other so well. I added a good glug of olive oil over top and plenty of Kosher salt, which really helped to bring everything together and make the flavors pop. As always, the avocado especially benefits from a nice sprinkling of salt. We also love how this is such a substantial and filling salad. Believe it or not, there is a good deal of Romaine lettuce hiding underneath all of the other goodies – you just can’t see it because the salad is so packed full of delicious.

Tips: I think that the chicken on this salad is best at room temperature or cold. If it were hot, it would wilt the lettuce, melt the cheese, warm up the nice cold blueberries, etc. So I would leave enough time to cook your chicken beforehand and let it cool for a while before assembling the salad.

Chicken, Avocado, and Blueberry Salad
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2

2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half
Kosher salt and black pepper
Butter
About 3 cups chopped Romaine hearts
2-3 oz Colby cheese, cubed
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup blueberries
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat a pat of butter in saute pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and saute until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Let cool to room temperature, and then chop into cubes.

2. Divide the lettuce between two salad bowls.  Top with the chicken, Colby cheese, avocado, and blueberries. Drizzle generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

Inspiration: I’ve always been a burger kind of girl – you know, the person who will opt for a burger over a steak nine times out of ten. That’s definitely me. And when it’s summer time and we can have homemade burgers grilled on the charcoal grill, well…there’s just no beating that. In my opinion, it’s almost not a proper summer week without a burger thrown on the menu. And so we’ve got another burger recipe to bring you this week (….and probably a few more to come before the summer weather is over).

What We Loved: This burger is really all about the bacon onion balsamic jam. The burger itself is quite tasty – smoky rich and topped with a gooey gruyere – but the jam is what makes the burger so special. I really let the onions caramelize and let all of the vinegar reduce down until the result was a syrupy sweet yet smoky bacon-y topping. A little bit of the rich burger, gooey cheese, and sweet bacon jam on my fork was just such a wonderful myriad of flavors and textures.

Tips: The recipe calls for the bacon that is mixed into the burgers to be finally minced, but I’d almost recommend throwing it into the food processor to get a nice ground texture, instead. I chopped the bacon pretty small, but there were still pieces throughout the burger that I thought were a little large and had a tough texture. I think if the bacon had more of a ground bacon texture instead, it might mix into the burger a little bit better.

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam
Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Fine Cooking
Serves: 3

For the Topping
4 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup water

For the Burgers
2 slices bacon, minced
1 lb ground beef (85% lean)
Good dash Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and black pepper
Freshly shredded gruyere cheese

1. To make the topping, heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon until lightly browned, and remove to paper towels to drain. Drain all but about a tablespoon of the bacon grease from the pan. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cover the pan for two minutes. Uncover the pan, add a splash of water, and scrape any browned bits from the bottom. Cover again and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and beginning to get nice and browned.

2.Stir in the vinegar, mustard, and water. Return the bacon to the pan, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until thickened. Remove from the heat.

3. To make the burgers, add the bacon, ground beef, Worcestershire, and a good pinch of salt and pepper to a bowl. Mix well to combine, and form into patties (I was able to make three). Make a good indentation in the middle of the patties with your thumb to allow for even cooking.

4. Cook on a charcoal grill for about 5 minutes per side, until the burgers are cooked through. About two minutes before removing the burgers from the grill, top with the gruyere cheese.

5. Serve the burgers topped with the onion jam.

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

Inspiration: This is one of those recipes that I’ve seen all over the internet for about a year now. I always just figured it was too good to be true, like I’ve found most recipes to be that are substitutes for the real thing. But when I ended up with a slew of extra bananas that I really didn’t feel like eating after we had taken them along for snacks on a road trip…..well, there really was no choice but to throw those babies into the freezer and wait for an ice cream sort of day.

What We Loved: We both really enjoyed this as a substitute for ice cream. Like most things that are substitutes, it’s not the same as the real thing, but it’s pretty darn good just the same. It’s hard to believe that one simple ingredient can be turned into such a creamy treat, but it really does work. The texture is delightfully creamy, and the taste is wonderfully banana and refreshing. What a nice and surprising treat.

Tips: You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the food processor often while making this. Don’t be discouraged if it looks like the recipe isn’t going to work – it’ll come together in time. I also think that this would be great with almond butter mixed in, or maybe with a little dark chocolate melted and poured over top.

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
Source: All over the internet

Ripe bananas (I used four to give us four servings about 1/2 cup each)

1. Peel the bananas and cut them into slices. Place the slices into the freezer for a least a few hours to freeze (I actually had mine in there for about a month).

2. Place the banana slices in the food processor. Process until the bananas form a smooth puree, scraping down the sides of the food processor often while you’re processing.

3. Eat the ice cream as is, or place it back into the freezer to harden further before serving.

Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellas

Inspiration: I can never seem to figure out how to use up a tub of ricotta. I don’t buy it often, but every now and then a recipe that includes it strikes my fancy, so I throw a tub into the grocery cart and figure that I’ll use it up somehow. Then most of it sits in my fridge and stresses me out. (Yes, the thought of something going bad nearly sends me into a panic.) Since we don’t eat pasta, there just aren’t a whole lot of day-to-day recipes that I’ve found that even make use of ricotta, and one can only eat it mixed into scrambled eggs so many days in a row. The day after I made these portabella pizzas, I saw this recipe for lasagna-stuffed portabellas and knew that since the pizzas were such a success, I’d definitely have to try the lasagnas out. And as luck would have it, that tub of ricotta in the fridge was not getting any younger.

What We Loved: I’m not sure which I loved more, the portabella pizzas or these lasagna-stuffed portabellas. Both were incredible. With these, the intensely rich flavor of the dish as a whole was just outstanding. The ricotta filling was so creamy and had a wonderful basil taste; the tomato sauce was bright and rich; and the melted mozzarella on top was the finishing gooey touch. The mushrooms themselves were so earthy and had an intense browned garlic flavor that we just loved.  These really did taste quite a bit like lasagna, which was certainly a welcome thing.

Tips: I think that these would be great with a nice dollop of pesto on top. I almost threw some on this time, but I wanted to try the recipe as it was first. But I do think that it would be a great addition.

Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellas
Source: Adapted from Elly Says Opa, originally from Pink Parsley
Serves: 2

2 portabella mushroom caps
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Handful fresh basil, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Drizzle the mushroom caps with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 clove of the minced garlic. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Place cap-side down in a saute pan, and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the caps begin to brown and release some moisture.

2. Mix the ricotta with the second clove of minced garlic, the basil, and a couple tablespoons of the mozzarella cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

3. Place the mushroom caps into a baking dish. Top each with a spoonful of marinara sauce, the ricotta filling, and then the rest of the marinara. Top with shredded mozzarella and additional Italian seasoning.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are cooked through.

Chicken with Black Beans, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Cilantro, & Cheddar

Inspiration: Have you ever thought to use sun dried tomatoes in a Mexican or Tex-Mex inspired dish? I always tend to use fresh diced tomatoes or sliced grape tomatoes when cooking that type of cuisine, and I tend to use sun dried tomatoes almost exclusively with Italian. I’d probably list sun dried tomatoes as my favorite type of tomato, though, so I was more than excited to run across the idea of combining my favorite tomato with my favorite cuisine. (And since Brandon loves fresh garden tomatoes best, I might just try this recipe out later on using fresh tomatoes to see how it compares).

What We Loved: As I was hoping, this chicken had a nice Mexican flair with all of the different flavor components that were thrown in. The chicken itself was seasoned with cumin and chili powder, which are a couple of spices that I think always give that Tex-Mex or Mexican twist to a meal. With creamy black beans, bright and fresh cilantro, gooey cheddar, and the unexpected tangy sweetness of the sun dried tomatoes, this meal sure had a lot of great things going on. A nice squeeze of fresh lime juice over top added a tart, fresh flavor that really was the finishing touch. We enjoyed this alongside our favorite hearts of palm salad, which was the perfect complement.

Tips: I used plain sun dried tomatoes that I re-hydrated in water, but I think that olive oil packed sun dried tomatoes or other flavored sun dried tomatoes would be fantastic and lend another dimension of flavor to the dish. The original recipe actually uses sun dried tomatoes with pepper strips, which sounds great.

Sauteed Chicken with Black Beans, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Cilantro, and Cheddar
Source: Adapted from I Wash…You Dry.
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, butterflied
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Cumin
Chili powder
Butter
1/3 cup cooked black beans
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Handful fresh cilantro, minced
Freshly grated sharp cheddar
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Heat a couple of pats of butter in a saute pan. Add the chicken, and cook for about 4-5 minutes on the first side.

2. Flip the chicken. Top each breast with black beans, sundried tomatoes, cilantro, and cheddar. Cover the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Serve with lime wedges.

Beef Burgers with Onion Slices and Mashed Avocado

Inspiration: It’s about time that we shared this recipe with you. We’ve been making it for years now, and it’s certainly our very favorite burger recipe. When summer time rolls around, these guys make an appearance on our dinner table quite often. To me, a great grilled burger is quintessential summer, and this is the best burger of them all.

What We Loved: As I said, these are our favorite burgers, and for good reason. They’ve got so much rich and delicious flavor going on. Grilled Vidalia onion slices are just fantastic on burgers, particularly if they’re grilled on charcoal. They lend such a smoky sweet flavor to the burgers. And you really can’t go wrong with creamy avocado with just a touch of salt and bright cilantro. With smoked gruyere (my new addiction) and an already smoky, juicy burger, the flavors in each bite are so rich and fantastic. I could eat these every day.

Tips: These are good any way that you cook them, but the best way by far is to use the charcoal grill to cook both the burgers and the onion slices. That grilled charcoal flavor just can’t be replicated on a gas grill on in a saute pan. The last time that we made these, we added these hickory chips to the coals, and they were some of the best burgers that we’ve ever had.

Beef Burgers with Onion Slices and Mashed Avocado
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2

About 3/4 lb ground beef (I use 85% grass-fed)
Burger seasoning of choice
Applewood smoked gruyere cheese, shredded
2 thick slices Vidalia onion
1 small avocado
Handful fresh cilantro, minced
Kosher salt

1. Season the ground beef and form into two patties. Make a nice indentation in the middle of each patty with your thumb, which will allow for even cooking.

2. Place the burgers and the onion slices on the charcoal grill, and grill until the burgers are cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. About two minutes before removing the burgers from the grill, top them with the gruyere cheese.

3. Meanwhile, mash the avocado in a bowl. Mix it with a handful of fresh cilantro and a good sprinkle of Kosher salt.

4. Serve the burgers topped with the grilled onion slices, the mashed avocado, and additional cilantro.

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