Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Comfort Classic

Spring has sprung and so has our schedule.  The Bear is wrapping up his last graduate class for his master's degree.  He has started slow pitch softball.  I am counting down the days for the end of the school year at work, finishing up the never ending pile of paperwork I have as a special education teacher, and attempting to maintain some of my sanity by regularly going to yoga and the gym to work out.  I need recipes that can do double duty, save me time, and allow for multi-tasking.  My spaghetti and meatballs recipe will do just that. 

Introducing meal number one.  Meatballs cooked in marinara sauce served over brown rice fettuccine noodles.

And...meal number two.  Left over meatballs and sauce made the perfect meatball sub for Monday and Tuesday night dinner.  I served the subs with a side of baked zucchini fries which I will save for another post at another time:)

If I had children, I would hope this would be pretty kid and parent friendly.  The base of this recipe requires minimal prep and can simmer away in your slow-cooker while you multi-task.

Slow Cooker Meatballs in Marinara

For the meatballs:
1 pound lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup egg substitute

For the marinara
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 dried bay leaves
2 cans crushed tomatoes

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together the beef, Parmesan, flax seed, garlic, parsley, and egg.  Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.  Form the beef mixture into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet.  Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the meatballs are lightly browned on the outside.

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Swirl the olive oil.  Add the butter.  When the butter is melted, saute the onions for 5-7 minutes or until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, carrot, and celery.  Cook another 5-7 minutes or until the veggies have softened.  Remove from heat.  Add the veggies to your slow cooker.  Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and meatballs.  Stir and cook over low heat for 5-6 hours.  Make sure you occasionally stir the sauce so it does not burn around the edges of the slow cooker.  Serve over pasta or as a sandwich topper. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Angry Birds

Just when you think you can have a nice, quiet dinner at home...your living room window gets pelted by some angry bird.

Mr. Angry was already at it again at 6:30 this morning. He continues this all day. This started Thursday.  I think he is a cute little bird.  But, he is relentless I tell you!  My neighbor said it was because he is protecting his nest and thinks his reflection is another male. I'm worried someone, the bird, or something, my window, is going to get hurt.

Despite the bird, we did have a nice meal at home last night. I made a beautiful roasted chicken, creamy risotto, and roasted asparagus. The chicken was simply prepared.  I took lemon peels and 3 cloves garlic and stuffed them inside the chicken. Then, I whisked together 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon honey, and one tablespoon olive oil that I poured all over the chicken. A sprinkle of salt and pepper and popped it in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes breast side down before turning the bird and roasting until my thermometer read 165 degrees.

For the risotto, I sautéed one minced shallot in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil until it was soft and translucent. Then, I poured in 1 1/2 cups arborio rice and cooked the rice, stirring frequently, until the rice began to become slightly brown. While this was occurring, in another saucepan I brought 4 cups chicken broth to a gentle simmer. When the rice was lightly browned, I poured in 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 1/2 cup chicken broth.

The trick to a good risotto requires a little baby sitting. You have to stir it constantly. Continuous stirring allows for the rice to release the starch. When the first round of liquids have become almost completely absorbed, continue stirring and adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time. When you have reached your last 1/2 cup of broth, add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel (yellow part only) and stir until combined. Trust me, it is worth the extra attention.

Anyway, does anyone have any good tips on how to stop this bird from dive bombing into the window? I would appreciate any tips!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Menu Post

I don't think I can eat another spoonful of quinoa for a while.  And, I think I need to give sweet potatoes and Mexican food a break.  At least for a week. I don't want the Bear and I to get bored.  This week's menu is full of some comforting classics that have been lightened up by using a few alternatives and tricks I look forward to sharing later throughout the week.  Meatballs, subs, soup, and shrimp are all part of this week's menu.  Here is the lowdown:

Sunday 4/22          Spaghetti and Meatballs with Salad

Monday 4/23        Meatball Subs with Zucchini Fries

Tuesday 4/24        Left-overs

Wednesday 4/25   Bacon Corn Chowder with Herbed Cheese Toast

Thursday 4/26      Left-overs

Friday 4/27 or      Shrimp & Grits with Sauteed Greens
Saturday 4/28

Groceries you will need:

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
12 oz. center cut bacon
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
2 large zucchini
1/2 pound potatoes
3 yellow or white onions
1 shallot
1 head garlic
1 bunch celery
1 package baby carrots
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch green onions or chives
1 package chopped kale
1 package salad of your choice
2 boxes reduced sodium chicken broth
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 cans creamed corn
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 container Parmesan cheese
1 package sliced 2% mozzarella or Swiss cheese
1 pint 2% milk
1 pint low fat buttermilk
1 package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
Eggs or egg substitute
1 package spaghetti noodles (we will be using brown rice fettuccine noodles because they were on sale)
Gluten free cibatta rolls and/or regular cibatta rolls
1 container white or yellow corn meal
Ground flax seed (I buy mine in the bulk section you will need 2 tablespoons)
1 bag frozen corn

Pantry items you will need:

Non-stick cooking spray
Extra virgin olive oil
Brown rice flour or regular flour
Garlic powder
Dried thyme
Dried Italian seasoning

In other Nickel news, I will be posting later this evening about my roasted chicken and one angry bird!  See you all later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Veggie Fajitas

Yeah, I know.  It's another taco-like post.  But what can I say, I love tacos!  This time I changed it up by sizzling my veg to create fajitas.  There is a difference.  I also love the combing black beans, corn, red bell pepper, and red onion together in any south-of-the boarder dish I create.  I feel it is sort of a staple or mirepoix.  I often rely on these items when I need a quick dish. They are cheap and always in my pantry.

This evening's meal is vegetarian, gluten-free, and can be made in under 30 minutes.  With the bulk of the veggies and beans there is no need for any meat.  Garnish with a side of sour cream, cheese, and avocado and you are good to go.

Veggie Fajitas & Spanish Rice

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers cut into 1-1 1/2 inch strips
1 cup thawed frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (preferably with peppers, onions, and garlic)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Warm corn tortillas

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, diced
1 cup brown rice
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Swirl the olive oil into the skillet.  Add the red onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion softens (about 5-7 minutes).  Add the pepper strips.  Cook stirring occasionally until the peppers begin to soften (another 5-7 minutes).  Add the corn, black beans, and tomatoes stirring occasionally until the juices begin to thicken.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Cook another three minutes or until the mixture is thickened.  You can add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with the tortillas.  Garnish with sour cream, cheese, and avocado if you please.

To make the rice, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large stockpot.  Add one diced white or yellow onion.  Saute until the onion is soft and translucent.  Stir in one cup brown rice.  Stirring frequently, cook the rice until it is a golden brown then add 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth.  Stir until combined then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice has absorbed all of the broth.  Stir in 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas, 1/2 cup chopped carrot, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste.  Cover and shut of the heat.  Let the rice set for 5-7 minutes.  Fluff with a fork or spoon and serve.  You can salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

From Kansas City with Love

Despite the possibility of severe thunderstorms/ tornadoes last night, we ventured out to meet some friends from college at 75th Street Brewery.  While the brewery is mainly known for it's beer, I had one of the best slow cooked pork dishes I think I've ever had.  Because many are there to enjoy libations, they offer a nice array of "small plates" which save you a little money.  I dined on the 7 Hour Roasted Pork served over a lovely risotto with a side of grilled asparagus.  Sweet, tender, goodness.  That is all I can say.  And to think I almost didn't order this goodness all because we are having Chipotle Pork Tenderloin tonight is just ludicrous.

I am so excited to share this recipe with you after making some additional changes.  I try not to steer too far from the weekly menu post.  Last night changed my culinary experiences a little and I just had to share.  I've taken the lighter cut of the other white meat, simmered it in a lovely chipotle sauce, and then after removing the fork tender pork to rest, created a spicier copycat BBQ reduction from last night's meal. The reduction sticks to the pork and takes it to perfection.  Trust me about taking the time for the BBQ reduction is well worth it.  I know something about BBQ after living in Kansas City for eight years.  Slow cooked pork + BBQ reduction = love from Sara Nickel to you:)

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin

1-2 pounds pork tenderloin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 shallot, roughly chopped
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons adobo sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup BBQ sauce of your choice (I used Hickory KC Masterpiece because it was in my fridge)

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and swirl the olive oil.  Evenly sprinkle the salt and pepper on all sides of the pork.  Add the pork to the skillet, making sure to brown all sides of the pork.

In a blender or food processor, blend the garlic, shallot, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, honey, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth.  Remove the pork from the skillet and place in a slow-cooker.  Pour the chipotle sauce over the pork and spread until the pork is covered on all sides with the sauce.  Cover and cook in your slow cooker on low for 5-6 hours.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place in a dish to rest.  Reserve the juice from the cooker and pour into a small sauce pan.    Raise the heat to low or until the juice begins to simmer.  Whisk in the brown sugar and BBQ sauce.  Continue stirring occasionally and simmering until the sauce reduces to the consistency of melted caramel. 

After the pork has rested and the sauce has reduced, shred the pork and pour the sauce over the pork.  Toss together until combined and serve.  You could easily make sandwiches, serve over a risotto, or on it's own with roasted sweet potatoes and a salad as I did. 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Menu Post

Meet Todd.  Todd is my brother-in-law on the left.  We call Todd the gentle giant because he is one of the nicest guys I know.  Todd, however, does not do anything small.  Todd is a big guy.  He wrestled heavy weight through college.  He works for the rail road.  He has a firm handshake and when he hugs you, he might accidentally crack your back.  When Todd goes grocery shopping, he always comes home with a mass supply of groceries usually complete with several large cuts of meat to stock his caveman like deep freeze.  I think if there were ever in a nuclear fall-out, I would want to be sheltered with Erin and Todd.

On our last visit to Iowa, Todd came home with two 10 pound pork tenderloins.  He graciously gave one to us.  This week, I plan on thawing the meat and cutting it into sections we can actually consume.  I plan on using some for my Chipotle Pork Tenderloin and then re-freezing the rest.  And because we can't seem to eat enough Mexican food, we will be dining vegetarian with veggie fajitas.  Later in the week, I will experiment with a lemon-basil dressing recipe courtesy of Cooking Light.  For the weekend, I hope to make a simple roast chicken with risotto and asparagus.  Simple spring cooking!

Sunday 4/15        Chipotle Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Salad

Monday 4/16       Left-overs

Tuesday 4/17      Veggie Fajitas with Spanish Rice

Wednesday 4/18  Left-overs

Thursday 4/19      Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing

Friday 4/20 or      Roasted Chicken with Lemon Risotto and Asparagus
Saturday 4/21

What you will need:

1-2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 whole chicken
2 red bell peppers
1-2 lemons
1 bunch asparagus
1 red onion
1 yellow or white onion
1 head garlic
1 bag spinach
1 bag baby carrots
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 pound sweet potatoes
Fresh basil
Corn tortillas
1 can black beans
1 can chickpeas
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can chipotle peppers
1 box instant brown rice
1 box arborio rice
1 bag quinoa
2 boxes reduced sodium chicken broth
1 canister Parmesan cheese
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag frozen peas
1 container fat-free sour cream
1 bag 2% shredded cheddar cheese

Pantry items you will need:

Dijon mustard
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Chili powder
Black pepper

Friday, April 13, 2012

Deep Dish Quinoa Pizza

One of the things I really miss since going gluten-free is a good deep dish pizza.  I remember my first deep dish pizza experience so fondly.  I was with a bunch of sorority sisters celebrating a bachelorette party in Chicago.  The best deep dish really can only be found in Chicago, but Barley's Brewhause in Kansas City does a pretty good replication with their Windy City pie.  Sadly, though, I can no longer enjoy the wheat variety and I'm still sticking to my Drop 10 challenge.  I've lost a total of 6 pounds so far!  Last night I was craving a deep dish pizza and was ready to fly myself to Chicago.  So, I decided to make my own deep dish pizza.

You would never know this pizza is actually good for you!  Quinoa is packed with protein, amino acids, and fiber.  It is truly a versatile super food and is a staple on the Drop 10 challenge.  This pizza is loaded with all the toppings of a deep dish pizza, but with far fewer calories and fat.

Deep Dish Quinoa Pizza

2 cups water
1 cup dried quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup 2% mozzarella cheese
15 slices turkey pepperoni
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a large pot, bring the 2 cups water to a boil.  Add the quinoa, stir until the quinoa is dispersed.  Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes).  Cover, remove from heat, and cool for 10 minutes. 

Spray a large non-stick skillet with non-stick cooking spray.  Fluff with quinoa with a spoon and pour onto the skillet.  Drizzle with the olive oil and press the quinoa with your hands to form a crust in the skillet like so:

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the crust.  Bake in the skillet for 15 minutes or until the crust becomes lightly browned.  Remove from the oven.  Then, spread the spaghetti sauce over the crust.  Sprinkle the mozzarella over the sauce.  Layer the pepperoni, peppers, and onion over the cheese.  Sprinkle the goat cheese over the pepperoni and veggies.  Place the skillet back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and starts to brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

I don't know what it is, but I've been on a Greek kick lately.  My senior year of high school, I had the unique opportunity to waitress at one of the few Greek restaurants in southwest Iowa, A & G Restaurant and Lounge.  It was seriously one of the best jobs ever.  Not only did you learn every part of the restaurant business, but you also became a part of the family.  Tony always made sure you left after work with a full belly.  So many, many stories I could tell about Tony.  One of the best was his story about his heart surgery. 

Tony used to smoke a lot, drink a lot, and eat a lot.  He wasn't a very big guy, but had the temper to burn all of the calories he consumed.  Tony once chased his son out of the restaurant with a butcher knife!  Anyhow, he had to go in for bypass surgery right around the time I had started working at A & G.  He had stopped smoking and gave up most hard alcoholic beverages, but suddenly had acquired a taste for beer.  The day of the surgery, they put him under, opened him up, and to medical amazement...Tony was fine.  After he woke up from surgery, Tony said they asked him about what he did to avoid death.  Tony replied to the doctors in his heavy Greek accent, "It must be the Fosters."

While this post would never make it on the A & G menu, I tried to honor all of the fond flavors I remember. Feta cheese, kalamata olives, oregano, and olive oil are all flavors that remind me of A & G.  This is just maybe a "skinnier" version of those memories:)

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash

1 medium to large spaghetti squash
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
10 kalamata or black olives, cut into halves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Heat you oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a non-stick cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Cut the stem off the spaghetti squash using a very sharp knife.  Then, cut the squash in half along the long side of the squash.  Using a spoon or ice cream scooper, scrape and discard the seeds.  Lay each squash half skin side up on the cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is soft to a gentle nudge (with an oven mitt on your hand of course).  Remove the squash from the oven and cool until you are able to pick the squash up with your hands. 

When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh of the squash into a large bowl.  Discard the skins.  Add the green pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and olives to the squash.  Toss together.  In a small dish, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper until combined and thickened.  Pour over the squash mixture.  Toss until coated.  Sprinkle with cheese and lightly toss again until the cheese is evenly disbursed.  You can serve immediately or chill until you are ready to serve.  Just make sure you give the salad a little toss before serving. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weekend Re-Cap

The Easter Bunny was not the only entertainment in town...

He also brought a set of googly eyeball glasses that created a Sylvie monster.  And...

Some mustaches for the Duree sisters to sport!  From left to right, my sisters Amy, Erin, and myself.

And some lovely gluten-free cupcakes made by Erin!

No this was not Halloween.  It really was Easter.  I think we maybe just had a little too much fun:)  Hope you all had a lovely weekend! 
Look forward to more recipe posts this week!  I'm off to relax a little after working kindergarten round-up at school.  At least you all know I'll have the sense of humor for working with the future little cuties:)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Menu Post

My challenge this week is to have meals that take under 30 minutes to prepare with minimal prep. With the holiday weekend and travel time, I will not have my usual Sunday prep-day to get much ready. Not a problem though. This week's menu is chuck full of vegetables and freshness. After last week's Mediterranean post, I am still craving the flavors and colors of Greece. I am substituting pasta noodles with spaghetti squash and adding the Greek flavors. Wednesday and Thursday, I am flying solo for dinner, so I am making something I love; tarragon chicken salad. I take left-over chicken breast, mix it with a little fat-free sour cream, light mayo, Dijon mustard, tarragon, celery, apples, cranberries, and grapes. Finally for the weekend, we will wind down with an elegant steak dinner. The menu and list can be found below:

 Sunday 4/8 Happy Easter!

 Monday 4/9 Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Chicken

 Tuesday 4/10 Left-overs

 Wednesday 4/11 Tarragon Chicken Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 Thursday 4/12 Left-overs

 Friday 4/13 or Steak with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
Saturday 4/14

 Groceries you will need:

1 large spaghetti squash
1 large cucumber
1 green pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 red onion
1 shallot
1 head garlic
1 bunch celery
1 lb. red skinned potatoes
1-2 lemons
1 bag grapes
1 whole chicken or 1 rotisserre chicken
 2 cuts of your favorite steak
1 bag frozen green beans
1 tub fat-free or light sour cream
8 oz. feta cheese

 Pantry items you will need:

Dried oregano
Dried tarragon
Light mayo

White wine vinegar
Salt Pepper

 The action this weekend is never ending! We woke up to Sylvie and Gavin tackling us and ready to go. I'm off to stuff some Easter eggs for Mr. Easter Bunny:) Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blackened Tofu

This photos says it all.  I actually have a red kitchen.  I love the color and actually had planned on painting my kitchen red sometime in my life.  Any chop block type background you see in any of my photos is from my countertops circa 1970 something and I totally love it.  I just wish I could capture more of my recipes in more natural light to share some of the beauty.  Not everyone may love it, but I truly adore my kitchen.  It is a sanctuary.  Words cannot explain the true therapeutic value cooking brings to me.

Just like any situation in life, I can really screw things up in the kitchen; however, it is such a beautiful mess.  I've never made tofu before.  Thinking it was a little sturdier than it's delicacy, I originally flipped my pressed blocks like I would chicken breast.  Then, this happened:

My beautiful blackened rectangles cracked and fell apart.  I kept thinking, "What am I doing wrong?"  Not realizing that the texture is a little more delicate than meat, my colleagues informed me that this happens all the time.  I guess I need to be more gentle:)  Not such a big problem in the large scheme of life.

Many have been excited for this post.  Not to disappoint, I wanted to share the pictures; however, I cannot steal glory.  I actually never would have tried cooking tofu on my own without the step-by-step help of Emily Malone from Daily Garnish.  I love Emily's blog and find inspiration in her vegetarian recipes.  I cannot take credit for this recipe, but have left the link above.  This tofu recipe is all it claims to be.  It will make any meat eater more open to vegetarian recipes and anyone fearful of tofu not so afraid.  It was truly wonderful!!  Please give it a try:)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chicken Kabobs & Greek Quinoa Salad

When the weather is as beautiful as it has been in the Kansas City metro area, you have to grill.  I was once told that Kansas City was the only city in the United States that had increased levels of ozone in the environment on the weekends due to the massive amount of people firing up their grills during the summer.  I don't know if it is a true fact, but there is always a lot of grilling going on, even in the dead of winter.  Not exactly environmentaly friendly, but what can we say?  We love our BBQ and our grills!

Kabobs are an easy meal to assemble and toss on the grill.  Keeping with a Mediterranean theme, I served ours with a traditional Greek yogurt sauce and Greek style quinoa salad.  The photo of above is the Bear's plate, as my plate was sans pita bread.  I pre-cut my veggies, marinated the meat, and made the salad the day before to save time on assembly.  Colorful, healthy, but not lacking in flavor!

Chicken Kabobs with Greek Yogurt Sauce

6 long wooden skewers
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel (yellow part only)
Juice of one large lemon
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 red onion cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup non-fat Greek style yogurt
1/4 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small dish, whisk together the olive oil, grated lemon peel, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Pour into a large Ziplock bag and add the chicken breast.  Seal the bag and squish the bag with your hands to make sure all pieces of the chicken are covered in the marinade.  Marinade the chicken breast for 1-3 hours or overnight depending on how much flavor you would like to infuse.

Meanwhile in another dish, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, dill weed, garlic powder, and salt.  Cover and store until you are ready to serve with the kabobs.

Fill a long baking dish with water. Soak skewers for at least 30 minutes before assembling the kabobs and grilling so the skewers do not burn.  Skewer a piece of the chicken, onion, and pepper onto the skewer and repeat until your skewer is full.  Repeat with other skewers.  Grill on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.  Turn each skewer and grill another 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove from the grill.  Let the kabobs set for a few minutes so the juices in the chicken redistribute.  Serve with the yogurt sauce and pita bread if you choose.  You can also substitute the chicken for lamb or beef.

Greek Quinoa Salad

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth.
1 cup dried quinoa
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded cut into 1/4 inch chunks
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 in chunks
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes halved
1/4 cup red onion, finely minced
1/4 cup kalamata olives cut in half
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

In a stockpot, bring the chicken broth to a boil.  Add the quinoa and gently stir until the quinoa is submerged in the broth.  Lower the heat to a simmer.  Let the quinoa simmer away until all the liquid is absorbed.  Cover and remove from the heat.  Set aside to cool.

In a small dish, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and black pepper until combined.  Set aside.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork.  In a large bowl, add the quinoa, cucumber, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, onion, and olives.  Toss together until combined.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again until combine.  Add the cheese and toss again.  You can serve this dish room temperature or store and cool until you are ready to serve.