Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pasta

The Eat at Home Challenge is off to a great start! Nearly 1800 people have joined.  I’m doing the challenge right along with everyone else, but last week I was sick all week.  Summer isn’t supposed to be for viruses, but this one sure did lay me flat!  It’s put me a little behind and made the Eat at Home Challenge a bit more challenging for my family.  We haven’t eaten perfectly planned meals, but we have eaten.  Fingers crossed that this week is better!

Today, we’ve got a recipe from Kate.  This one looks fantastic!

I know the summer stereotype is lazy days but my summers are always busy. The longer days always seem to keep us out and about later, which often means less time to make dinner. This pasta has been one of my favorites so far this summer. It’s a recreation of something I got at a local café and it comes together in about fifteen minutes. If you cook the pasta the night before, you can have it on the table in about five.

ChipotleRanchChickenPasta

I prefer to serve this cold – it feels more refreshing on a summer night, especially with fresh-from-the-garden corn and tomatoes – but you can heat it if you want to.

ChipotleRanchIngredients

Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pasta
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. mini penne
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ear of corn, grilled and cut off
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 8 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 tsp. chipotle sauce, or more, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ranch dressing and chipotle sauce.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken, corn, tomato and onion. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat. Add the cheese and stir until evenly distributed.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Kate is a home cook and new mom  from New Jersey. In addition to sharing recipes with Eat at Home readers, she blogs her cooking adventures at Kate’s Recipe Box. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can find her reading or tending to her garden.

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Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I’ve learned}

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great dish to bring to a party, family get-together or for summer entertaining. It makes a great side, and if you are like me, you can make a meal out of it. It’s also so versatile, that you can add just about anything to it. However, for years…I just couldn’t get it right. After much trial and error, I have come up with what I think is the Perfect Pasta Salad!

Perfect Pasta Salad Bowl EAH

 

  • First tip, it’s important to cook your pasta al dente (it should say on the box how many minutes this is, I like to use rotini pasta and it’s usually 7 minutes). This will prevent the pasta from getting too mushy/soggy because the pasta will soak up some of the dressing as it sits.
  • Second, and this is where I often went wrong, you need equal amounts of pasta to vegetables/add-ins. I like to chop my main veggies fairly uniform (“bite” size), like cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. My other ingredients that I use less of because of the strong flavor, such as onions and peppers, are chopped smaller. By add-ins, I am talking about not only vegetables, but also cheese, meats (pepperoni, ham, chicken), etc.
  • Third,  the dressing…everyone has their favorite and how much they like, but too much or too little can turn your perfect pasta salad into a “ehhh, it’s okay” pasta salad. My rule of thumb is 4:4:14 cups cooked pasta, 4 cups veggies/add-ins, 1 cup dressing. Even when I make a large batch for a cook-out or party, I stick with my ratios. See, math does come in handy sometimes! The pasta and veggies will soak up some of the dressing, so if you make this the night before, you may need to add a little more dressing the next day. This is a good starting point, and you can adjust to suit your taste buds.
  • Finally, and this is just a suggestion because they are not always readily available, but I highly recommend adding fresh herbs. My favorites to use are basil or cilantro.

Pasta Salad Ingredients EAH

I am particularly fond of the above ingredients for my pasta salad. However, I usually add peppers and I always add some kind of cheese, which somehow did not make the picture! I usually use feta, but feel free to add whatever is your favorite.

Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I've learned}
This pasta salad is the perfect side or light meal. Great for parties, cookouts, and more.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz dry pasta (will yield about 4 cups when cooked)
  • 4 cups desired vegetables/add-ins (such as cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, fresh herbs, cheese)
  • 1 cup dressing (such as House Italian, Oil & Vinegar, etc.)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package for al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Place drained pasta in a large bowl, adding vegetables and desired add-ins.
  3. Add dressing, salt, pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Place in fridge to chill or serve immediately.

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Kim is a contributing writer for Eat at Home and author of food & family blog, Makin’ it Mo’Betta. She blogs about her adventures in the kitchen, incorporating life as mom to teen and tween girls, as well as a young son with nut allergies, and wife to a diabetic husband. Life is never dull!

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Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Salt and Pepper Dressing – an easy, whole food side dish

Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Salt and Pepper Dressing

 

This side dish is so easy and it’s a great way to use up the vegetables in your fridge.  You can use just about any vegetable you want, although I do recommend sticking with tomatoes.  They add some juice that creates its own dressing.

The ingredients in this are super simple.  It’s really more method than recipe.

I made this on a night that we needed to pack our dinner for a soccer game.  The green beans needed to be used, but we weren’t going to be home to eat them hot.  I blanched the beans, added the tomatoes, threw on a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar.

I think the tomatoes would be great paired with broccoli or cauliflower or zucchini or yellow squash.  You can add fresh herbs too, if you’ve got them.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Orange and Red Onion Salad – It’s simple, healthy and amazing!

Orange and Red Onion Salad

 

Have you ever eaten a salad that was so good you just couldn’t stop eating it?

That’s this salad.

I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this before.  It’s amazingly simple.  Super healthy.  And it’s also one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.

Two ingredients, plus salt and pepper.  How can such a simple combination taste so fantastic?!

This recipe is bright and light.  The sweet, citrus of the oranges is perfect with the sharp bite of the red onion.

Try this with pork, chicken, fish or ham.   It would be wonderful with fish tacos!

This is more method than recipe.  Grab a few oranges and thinly slice red onion into them.  Toss with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Orange and Red Onion Salad - It's simple, healthy and amazing!
Ingredients
  • ½ - 1 orange per person, depending on the size of the orange
  • approximately ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut oranges in bite sized pieces.
  2. Toss red onion slices with oranges in bowl.
  3. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve.

P.S. Do you struggle to come up with easy side dishes to go with your main dish? We’ve done all the planning for you – side dishes and color-coded grocery list included!  Find your perfect Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plan here.

 

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Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish and Caribbean Citrus Slaw

Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish and Caribbean Citrus Slaw

 

When I made these recipes, the entire state of Kentucky was knee deep in snow.   But the bright flavors in the McCormick Caribbean Citrus Seafood Marinade Mix made us think of a warmer place.

I know many of you eat fish on Fridays during Lent.  This is an easy dinner that’s quick to fix, but has a big pay off in taste.

I used the marinade packet for both the fish and the slaw.  I wasn’t sure how it would work in the slaw dressing.  After all, the packet does say Seafood Marinade.  But it works great!  I added a little sugar and more oil.  The instructions are below in the recipe.

Using the same seasoning for both fish and slaw keeps things simple and ensures that the main dish and side dish complement each other.  If you want to add another side, I recommend sweet potato fries or a simple baked sweet potato.

Here’s what you’ll need for the fish.  I cooked mine on a George Foreman grill.  But I’ve included baking instructions if you’d rather use the oven.

Caribbean Citrus Grilled Fish ingr

 

[Read more…]

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Layered Cole Slaw – Perfect for Potlucks and Family Gatherings

Layered Cole Slaw

 

This easy salad uses slaw mix, peas, bacon bits, water chestnuts and a simple homemade dressing.  It’s perfect for potlucks and family gatherings, but easy enough for a plain old weeknight.

 

Not only is this salad easy, it also holds up well.  Unlike the lettuce version (which is also fantastic), this one holds its shape.  You can make it early and it still tastes fresh later.

And if you have leftovers (unlikely if you take it to a potluck), it doesn’t go limp.  Even the next day the slaw stays crisp.

This is a common salad to find on the potluck table, but it’s usually made with lettuce.  Sometimes there are peas in it and sometimes cauliflower.  Both are wonderful!

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Balsamic Strawberries – An easy way to serve strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries

 

I admit, when I first heard of putting balsamic vinegar on strawberries I thought it sounded crazy at best, and disgusting at worst.

But then I tried it.  Oh my!  Somehow, the balsamic vinegar brings out all the strawberry-ness of the berries.  It doesn’t taste vinegary at all.  The strawberries are elevated to be their best selves.  Fantastic!

And it’s such an easy thing to do.  Clean and slice the berries.  Add a bit of sugar and splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir and serve.

You need to try this!

It’s more method than recipe, but here are some measurements to get you started.

  • 3 – 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Stir it all together and be amazed at how this weird sounding combo is one of the most delicious things you’ve ever eaten!

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Simple Lettuce Wedge Salad – a salad for people who hate to make salad

Simple Lettuce Wedge Salad

 

I’ve seen lettuce wedge salads around recently on blogs and restaurant menus.  Honestly, I wondered what the big deal was or why anyone would want one.  I mean, it’s just iceberg lettuce.

Then a friend ordered a lettuce wedge salad when we went out to eat for book club.  I was sitting next to her and I really wanted to ask for a bite.  It looked amazing!  I refrained from asking for a taste.  Elizabeth might have thought I was a bit nutty if I’d made that request.

Then one day, I decided to make one at home.  And I discovered that this is the perfect salad for me to make.  I hate cleaning and tearing romaine lettuce.  And I’m not a fan of the stems on spinach so I end up tearing all of those off.

But with a lettuce wedge, you just rinse the head, tear off the weird and wilted outer leaves and chop.  Two or three cuts with a sharp knife and the lettuce is ready to go!

I like to add chopped tomatoes, bacon bits and a drizzle of ranch dressing.  If I’ve got croutons, I’ll add those too.

And for reasons I can’t explain, these salads taste like so much more than the sum of their parts.  It really is better than if I served it as a tossed salad.  Maybe it stays crisper?

Whatever the reason, these are good!  Give them a try with a meal soon.

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‘Detox’ Salad full of Dark Green Leafy Veggies

Ever feel like your body just needs a ‘detox’? All the over-indulgence of the holidays (because they just seem to keep coming!), and you feel like your body is craving something healthy and nutritious? I know this happens to me frequently. Of course, I admit, I splurge a little to often!

This salad (which from what I have gathered, originated from Whole Foods, but I adapted this recipe) is not only super healthy, it is super delicious!

If you were to hand me a bunch of broccoli, cauliflower and kale on a plate, I would say “no, thank you” – but somehow, when they are all chopped up together with a little fruit and seeds and a very light dressing – it transforms them into a bowl full of goodness.  A bowl of this salad also packs quite a nutritional punch, giving you a good dose of super foods!

‘Detox’ Salad
Ingredients
  • 2 broccoli crowns
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 small bunch kale (stems removed)
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped
  • 1 cup dried berries (cherries, cranberries, blueberries)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or other mild flavored vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets.
  2. Cut the carrots into large chunks.
  3. Roughly chop the kale.
  4. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the broccoli, cauliflower, kale and parsley until fine and add them to a large mixing bowl. (It will probably take more than one batch)
  5. Process the carrots and add to the bowl.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Add the sunflower seeds, almonds, and dried fruit.
  8. Stir to combine.
  9. Add lemon juice, vinegar and syrup.
  10. Toss to coat.
  11. Taste, and add salt and/or pepper as needed.

Warning, this recipe does make a HUGE bowl of salad, but it keeps in the refrigerator for several days.  With all the “bugs” floating around right now, I am happy to have a little immunity boosting salad in my fridge!  If I could just get my kids to eat it….

KimM is a contributing writer for Eat at Home. See more from her at her blog Makin’ it Mo’Betta, and follow along on PinterestFacebook and Twitter! 

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Quinoa, Broccoli and Chicken Salad (and $50 Sam’s Club card giveaway!)

We eat more broccoli than any other veggie.  Raw, steamed, roasted – we love it all of these ways.  So I was really excited to get to try new Beneforté Naturally Better Broccoli.

One reason I like serving broccoli is because it’s a healthy, green leafy vegetable.  Beneforté broccoli is even more nutritious than other broccoli.  It’s a result of cross-pollination with commercial broccoli and a wild variety found in Italy.  The taste is the same, but it’s much better for you.  The enzymes in Beneforte maintain the antioxidant activity of vitamins A,C and E in the body.

Bottom line is the kids like it and since it’s hard to get them to eat enough veggies, I love that this one packs a big nutrition punch.

Beneforté broccoli is easy to cook with too, because it’s cleaned, trimmed and ready to use.  Or munch right out of the bag.

The recipe for Quinoa, Broccoli and Chicken Salad was inspired by a recent trip to Disney World.  Jim and I had a similar salad in Hollywood Studios for lunch (who says theme park food is all burgers and fries?).  The Disney version had arugula instead of broccoli, but I found that to be a bit bitter.  I think the broccoli works better in this salad.

This is a great dish to pack for lunches or to make a day ahead of time.  I made it on a Saturday so that we could have it on Sunday after church.  Here’s what you’ll need:  [Read more…]

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