Grilled Asian-Inspired Chicken & Peach Salad

This weekend was that rare weekend when we had very little we needed to do.  We listened to jazz in the sculpture garden.  We ate ramen.  We drank one too many vodka sodas and danced our faces off.  We ate Italian and maybe drank too much wine.  We went to the movies – I even got to pick, since it’s my birthday week . Crushed it.

Sort of like this salad.  And the Barden Bellas.

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for the marinade

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or other chili paste
  • about 1/2 cup soy
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • a few cracks black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts

for the salad

  • arugula
  • 3-4 peaches, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 big handful cherry tomatoes
  • about 6-8 green onions, sliced
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

for the dressing

  • a few quick zests of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup soy
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a few cracks of black pepper
  1. Whisk together your marinade.  Place chicken in large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over it; make sure the chicken really bathes it all in.  Place in the fridge and let it rest for about 2-3 hours – any longer and the soy sauce will start to really toughen up the meat.
  2. Heat two large grill pans (jealous of those of you with REAL grills); coat with nonstick spray.  Cook the chicken 3-4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  In a separate pan, toss together the peaches & tomatoes and grill those about 3-5 minutes total; add the green onions at the end, so they don’t overcook.
  3. Add all salad ingredients together – arugula, avocado, chicken, & grilled fruit.  Whisk together a little dressing using (most of) the same ingredients as the marinade and toss the whole salad with the goat cheese.

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The Verdict:

There’s going to be a tussle tomorrow for who gets to bring the leftovers for lunch.

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Mediterranean Farro Salad

Is this a recipe?  Probably not.  What this is is taking stock of your pantry and fridge, and figuring what you have on hand to make a meal.  Which is basically what happens chez nous, on the reg.

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Mediterranean Farro Salad

  • 1 cup quick-cooking farro
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • big handful spinach or arugula (about 1/2 bag)
  • half dozen small mozzarella balls, sliced &/or quartered
  • small carton grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • fresh herbs: basil, parsley, etc.
  • avocado, diced
  • olives, if you’re into that kind of thing
  • salt, pepper
  • optional: dressing –
    • Whisk together 2 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, a splash of lemon juice, mixed together
  1. Bring apple cider, vinegar, bay leaves and a pinch of salt to a boil.  Add farro, reduce heat, and cook according to directions, about 10-12 minutes (you may need to pour off a bit of excess liquid).
  2. Meanwhile, cut up your mozzarella and tomatoes, herbs and avocado.  Add to a large bowl and give it a toss with the arugula.
  3. Pour the hot farro over the salad mixture and give it a thorough mix – you want the farro to wilt the arugula a little bit.  Season with salt & pepper and serve with dressing, if you please.

The Verdict:

This is worth sharing for one small reason: cooking the farro in the apple cider vinegar and the bay leaves gives it a tart, wonderful flavor that only gets better the longer the salad sits.  If you make enough to last you into lunch the next day, you don’t need any dressing.  How’s that for healthy!?.

Recreating Duke’s: Avocado Toast with Poached Egg

There is this restaurant called Duke’s Grocery a few blocks down from us that both Husband and I love.  We love it so much, in fact, that we once waited almost 2 hours (!!!) for a table for four at brunch.  (I will note this was only acceptable because they also serve bottomless Bloody Mary’s and mimosas for $15.  One Bloody Mary is $8.  Obviously, there is significant positive marginal utility to me, the consumer & lover of all things spicy, horseradish-y, and salty, in this construct).

According to the Husband, there is really only one problem with this restaurant (other than the sometimes interminable wait): they do not serve french fries with their completely epic burger.  We are talking TWO (thin, because what are you, a glutton??) patties of perfectly cooked Angus beef, smoky Gouda cheese, caramelized red onions, a sweet chili sauce, garlicky mayo…I could go on.  Last time we were here, the Husband rectified the lack-of-starch-issue by ordering a second burger.  (Again, bottomless drinks cost $15 and we had waited almost two hours.)

Saturday morning, though, we waltzed right in, and ordered the usual.  Burger for him, avocado toast with poached egg for me.  And then Sunday morning, it hit me.  I had the celery, the horseradish, the tomato juice, the vodka, the sriracha.  That’s bottomless for $0.  I also had a perfectly ripe avocado, eggs, and some spinach to use up.  One epic brunch, coming my way.

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Avocado Toast with Poached Egg (inspired by Duke’s)

  • multigrain toast or English muffin
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 eggs
    • to poach: water, vinegar
  • about a tablespoon or two of cream cheese (once you go jalapeno, you never go back)
  • arugula or spinach
  • s&p
  1. Bring a small but deep pot to boil.  Add about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of vinegar to the pot, reduce the heat until the water only bubbles slightly.  Carefully crack one egg and slide it into the water; repeat with second egg.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the egg white firms up around the yolk.  Remove (gently!) with a slotted spoon.
  2. As your eggs cook, toast your bread.  Spread with a bit of cream cheese, top with a few slices of avocado and a bit of arugula or spinach.
  3. Top with the poached eggs and sprinkle some cracked salt and pepper over the top.  Serve with a Bloody Mary and wish every day were the weekend.

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The Verdict:

I think poached eggs are a bit of a skill – I get them right about 65% of the time (honestly, who wants an overcooked egg yolk, YUCK)…but I swear to goodness, this was 98% as good as my Duke’s breakfast the day previously.  The chief difference, of course, being that at home, I have to wash my own dishes (my chief dishwasher, aka Husband, wasn’t awake yet).

Vegetable & Soba Noodle Salad

It is officially spring in Washington, DC: my Instragram feed is full of cherry blossoms and the car is dusted with pollen.  Life is good again (as long as the tourists stick to the right side of the Metro escalator.  Seriously, ok? Right. Side.).

Spring means more happy-looking vegetables, even at our local Safeway.  It also means that fresh, quick & easy is the best way to do dinner.

This “recipe” comes courtesy of my sister, and before that, one of her friends.  Really, though, there’s no plan to follow here – just use the vegetables in your refrigerator.  Although as my sister wisely said to me, “I know you wouldn’t do this, but obviously don’t skimp on the avocado.”  OBVIOUSLY NOT.

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Soba Noodle Salad

  • 1 package soba or buckwheat noodles
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 head purple or green cabbage, shredded
  • handful sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • a big handful cilantro, chopped
  • other optional toppings: feta cheese, shredded/cooked chicken, pan fried tofu, peanuts
  • dressing:
    • 1 part olive oil
    • 1 part rice vinegar
    • 1 part soy sauce
    • 1/2 part toasted sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon or so honey, plus more as needed
    • juice from 1/2 lime
    • healthy dose sriracha
    • freshly grated ginger
    • s&p to taste
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook soba noodles until just before al dente, about 5-6 minutes.  Rinse immediately with cold water.
  2. Combine all of your chopped veggies (from bell pepper through cabbage) in a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk your dressing together; continually taste and adjust to your liking.
  3. Add noodles to veggies; top with sesame seeds & dressing.  Give the bowl a thorough mix with tongs and add avocado and cilantro.  Serve warm or cold.

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The Verdict:

Husband hasn’t passed the verdict yet, so you can be the judge…d’accord?

It’s Mexican Night: Make Your Own Tacos

Is this a recipe?  Probably not.  But this is a go-to around here, and is perfect for those nights when 1. you need to feed more than two people; 2. you have no time to cook; and 3. you just want people to be happy (note: avocados + sour cream + cheese + tortillas + chicken = happiness).

crucial topping: avocado
crucial topping: avocado

Make Your Own (Slow-Cooked) Tacos:

for the chicken –

  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 jar salsa, your choice of spiciness
  • splash of chicken broth (if you don’t have that much salsa, which we didn’t)
  • spices galore: crushed red pepper, salt + pepper, chili powder, cumin, adobo seasoning, anything your heart desires
  • optional: 1-2 cloves crushed garlic

and your toppings –

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2-3 bell peppers (green, red, orange), sliced
  • salt, pepper, other seasonings
  • additional: tortillas, taco chips, avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, quartered cherry tomatoes, spinach, beans, cilantro, salsa, rice, etc.
  1. Arrange the sliced onion at the bottom of the crockpot.  Season the chicken liberally – salt, pepper, chili powder, crushed reds, and then place on top of the onion.  Pour a bit of the salsa all around and finish with a splash of chicken broth, if needed.  Add more seasonings – seriously, you probably can’t use enough.  Add the garlic, if using.  Cover and set on low; cook for 8 hours or so.
  2. When you get home from work and are so hungry you might just tear into your cupboards instead, get your onions sizzling in a saute pan in a little olive oil.  Cook down a minute or two and then add the bell peppers.  Season as you wish.
  3. Shred the chicken in the crockpot, plate all of your toppings, and serve in a warm tortilla.  Happiness ensues.
i like to overstuff the taco/burrito. it's more delicious that way.
i like to overstuff the taco (maybe this is better called a burrito). i’m pretty sure it’s more delicious that way.

The Verdict:

Even if you don’t have a Mexican restaurant near you (Barbara, this one is for you!), you can bring the Mexican restaurant to you.  And if you have leftovers, this is seriously even better served over a bed of spinach as a salad.