Lite Bite: Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad

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Summer BBQ, party or potluck? Look no further than this recipe. I have a thing for watermelon feta salads because I actually already have two (here and here) recipes on my site, but this one. THIS ONE!!

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Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad

Ingredients:
1/2 medium seedless watermelon, cut into small cubes
16 oz mini heirloom tomatoes (found at Trader Joe's), sliced in half
8 oz feta cheese block, cut into small cubes
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
flakey salt and fresh crackd pepper
small bunch of fresh basil

Directions:
In a large bowl gently toss cubed watermelon, cubed feta and sliced mini tomatoes. Drizzle over olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Not too much, you can always add more later. Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper and maldon salt if you have it. Any flakey salt will do. Tear the basil over the top. Tear instead of cut. Tearing will lend to better overall flavor and not brown the basil! Toss gently again and sprinkle a bit more salt, pepper and basil over the top to serve!

P.S. this makes great leftovers and is wonderful paired with grilled chicken (seen below).

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Figs

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We all know I love figs. I also have a mad crush on sweet potatoes. I dreamt up this recipe while trying to come up with as many was as I could to include figs in a recipe. I turned to the world wide web for more inspo and it seems that someone beat me to the chase. Not just anyone, but the great Yotam Ottolenghi (Yo-TAm Oh-toe-LEng-he) of Plenty, Jerusalem and more. We are big Jerusalem fans in my family. Thank you for that Claire and Mike. 

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Roasted sweet potatoes are such a staple. Throw my favorite fruit with it and you have an insane side dish. So easy, but impressive. Just what I'm about. 

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs adapted from Jerusalem 
yields 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes (optional) 
4 figs, stems removed and quartered
2 green onions, whtie and green part sliced on an angle
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 475 degrees. (I've been using my toaster oven like crazy in this summer heat to avoid heating my whole house and to avoid an extreme electricity bill).

Slice your sweet potatoes into wedges. Slice in half lengthwise, then in half again, and then again, so you get 8 wedges from one potato. Place the wedges on a roasting sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, flipping them halfway through. 

When your potatoes are almost done, it's time to start making the balsamic reduction. In a small sauce pan, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 2 to 4 minutes. The balsamic with thicken. You will know when it easily coats the back of a spoon. If it gets too thick you can add a few drops of water to thin it out. 

Arrange the potato wedges and fresh figs on a platter.  Sprinkle over green onions and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. 

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Annie

Watermelon Feta Pistachio Salad

Summer food is a love language of mine. It's colorful, fresh, bright, full of flavor, I love it. The unique combinations of summery fruits and vegetables totally gets me. This salad is just that. You get peppery arugula, juicy watermelon, crunchy pistachios, creamy feta cheese, finished off with salty sweet olive oil and balsamic. It works perfectly for a potluck side dish or a summer lunch or dinner. Bonus, there is no cooking involved. Just cut, chop and assemble. 

Watermelon Feta Pistachio Salad
yields 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 medium watermelon (soccer ball size)
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
3 cups arugula
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Cut your watermelon into 1 inch cubes, removing any seeds, then set aside. Roughly chop the pistachios. 

On a large platter layer your arugula. Top with half of the chopped watermelon, then sprinkle with some of the feta cheese. Layer on the rest of your watermelon and the rest of the feta. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios all over the top. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

All hail summer food!

Annie
 

Zucchini, So Hot Right Now

Zucchini bread, zucchini salsa, zucchini cakes and now zucchini fries. I'm on a zucchini kick, but apparently the rest of the world is too.

After having a casual discussion about zucchini with one of my roommates (we are strange like that) and both mentioning how we've always wanted to make zucchini fries, it seemed like the time was of the present. I googled a recipe, adapted it a bit to make them healthier, then found myself sitting down to a whole plate of z-fries for dinner. 

Baked Zucchini Fries
yields 16 fries

Ingredients: 
1 medium zucchini
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
whatever seasonings you have in the pantry (I did a combination of salt, pepper, dried rosemary and garlic salt)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg white

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry your zucchini and cut the ends off. Cut your zucchini in half. Then slice each half down the middle. Slice into fourths so you end up with about 16 fry shape pieces. 

Mix bread crumbs and seasonings in a shallow dish. Pour flour in a separate dish, and beat your egg white in another dish. Dredge each fry in flour, egg, then bread crumbs and then place on your baking sheet. Once all your fries are coated, bake for 25 minutes until brown and crispy! 

I served mine with a spicy sriracha/ketchup combo! Extra tasty guilt free fries people!

You can serve these as a snack, side dish, or like me, a main dish! I find this totally acceptable considering all the health benefits of these little summer squashes. Low in calories, help prevent cancer and heart disease, have more potassium than a banana and can even help reduce constipation :0. Here are 35 more ways you can use this constipation reducing veggie. TMI? nah.

Annie

Dinner For a Crowd

Sunday night was one of those perfect nights including good food and great company. I love to cook for my small family or myself, but cooking for a crowd makes me slightly anxious. I planned out a menu that ended up being ready on the table all at the same time without stress or hours slaved away in the kitchen. A gourmet fruit salad, veggie side dish and my favorite chicken recipe is my perfect 'Dinner for a Crowd" meal.

Watermelon Feta Salad:
serves 8-10

Ingredients:
1 medium watermelon
6 oz or about 1 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
large handful of fresh basil, chopped
balsamic vinaigrette
salt and pepper

Directions:
Dice your watermelon into 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle in feta and basil. Dress with dressing, season with salt and pepper and toss together. 

Sautéed Yellow Squash:
serves 8-10

Ingredients:
4 yellow squash, sliced
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
salt, pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Slice your squash. Once the oil is heated begin to sauté your squash, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and let it melt over the squash. Continue to sauté for about 3 minutes. 

Parmesan Baked Chicken with Arugula Salad
serves 8-10

Ingredients:
4-6 large chicken breast sliced in half length wise
1 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2/3 cups parmesan cheese
juice of 2 lemons
2 Tbsps. olive oil
salt and pepper
olive oil spray

Arugula Salad:
4 cups or one large bag/container of arugula
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of two lemons
salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a large pan in the oven to get hot. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in one dish or bowl and the lemon juice, olive oil and pepper in another. Slice your chicken in half and pound out thin. Season the chicken with salt and pepper then dredge the chicken into the lemon/oil mixture, then the bread crumb/cheese mixture. 

Take your hot pan out of the oven and spray with cooking spray. Place your chicken on the pan then spray the chicken with cooking spray (this will help brown the bread crumbs). Bake the chicken, flipping once halfway through for 15-20 minutes or until browned and crispy. 

While your chicken is baking whisk or shake together all the ingredients for your lemon vinaigrette. Toss the arugula with the dressing. Remove chicken from the oven and top with arugula salad. 

**see tips below

**Minute by minute tips for a low stress meal

During the afternoon or at least an hour before your guests arrive:
-Cut your watermelon and leave in the fridge.
-Make the vinaigrette for the arugula salad.
-Slice your squash and leave in the fridge until it's time to sauté.
-Set the table.

30 minutes before:
-Preheat your oven and prep your chicken. 

15 Minutes before:
-Begin to sauté your squash.
-Add the feta, chopped basil and dressing to the watermelon.
-Toss the arugula with the dressing.
-Bake your chicken.

Once your guests arrive:
-Your squash should be tender, your chicken should be finishing up and the watermelon salad is ready to go!

Paper plates, plastic silverware and Styrofoam cups, just keepin' it real. 

"People who love to eat are always the best kind of people." - Julia Childs

Cheers to you people!

Annie