Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recipe Swap Roundup - Main Course Salads

The theme for this week's recipe swap was Main Course Salads. With the heat of summer in full force, as well as an abundance of gorgeous fresh produce in supermarkets and farmers markets, we can all use some lighter, healthier recipes.

I always hope whoever gets my recipe likes it, so I was thrilled to see that Katie's whole family liked the BBQ Chicken Salad:

Moviegirl03 loved her recipe for Southwestern Chicken Salad:

Jaida's recipe for Quinoa and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad introduced her to not one but two new ingredients:

There was supposed to be steak in the Cookaholic Wife's recipe for Steak and Artichoke Salad, but unfortunately her fridge didn't cooperate and she had to leave it out:

Heather really enjoyed her recipe for Chicken Salad with Strawberries & Dried Cranberries:

Jey's recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad didn't disappoint:

Even though my husband wouldn't touch my recipe for Strawberry, Orange and Grilled Chicken Salad, I loved it:

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recipe Swap - Strawberry, Orange and Grilled Chicken Salad

Want to see what other Main Course Salad recipes were made during the swap? Here is the link to the Main Course Salad Recipe Swap Roundup

This week's recipe swap theme was Main Course Salads. I know a lot of people like to eat lighter, healthier meals in the summer but still want a meal that's substantial enough to last until morning. My recipe was Strawberry, Orange and Grilled Chicken Salad:

In the interest of full disclosure, SP didn't even attempt to eat this one. As soon as I told him what I'd made for dinner he said he "didn't do fruit in salads unless it was a fruit salad" and promptly heated up some leftovers. Oh well, more for me. I really enjoyed this salad. I happen to love fruit in salads and the combination of the strawberries and mandarin oranges was perfect. I added some blue cheese and sliced almonds and I think they were great additions that helped cut some of the sweetness from the other ingredients.

Strawberry, Orange and Grilled Chicken Salad
Adapted from The Cookaholic Wife

6 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups strawberries, diced
1 cup mandarin oranges, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Raspberry vinaigrette (recipe below)
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Add desired amount of dressing, toss well to coat. Season with pepper, to taste. Serve cold.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry preserves
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Fresh tarragon, minced
Black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Honey, to taste

Blend all the ingredients, except the sugar or honey, in a food processor, adding water as necessary to adjust the consistency. Add honey to taste at the very end.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Crispy Margarita Chicken Tacos with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

My friend Jaida recently posted this recipe for Crispy Margarita Chicken Tacos with Strawberry Avocado Salsa, which she saw on How Sweet It Is. I'm always on the lookout for new Mexican recipes and this sounded delicious.

Unfortunately, while I thought they were delicious (especially the salsa) SP wasn't a fan. I didn't even notice this when I was making the recipe, but there's no sauce except for the juices from the salsa. The chicken, while moist and crispy in and of itself, was a little dry when mixed with all the other ingredients. I'm not sure what kind of sauce would go well, maybe sour cream mixed with lime and coriander? If you have any suggestions please leave a comment.

Crispy Margarita Chicken Tacos with Strawberry Avocado Salsa
How Sweet It Is

4 chicken breasts
8 4-inch tortillas (corn, whole wheat, flour)
3 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
Zest of 3 limes
1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup tequila
1/4 cup lime juice
Zest of 2 limes
1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 avocado, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
4 large strawberries, chopped
Juice of half a lime
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Toppings: shredded lettuce, freshly grated Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, lime wedges

At least 2 hours, but no more than 24 hours before making the tacos, combine the marinade ingredients in a plastic food storage bag. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then slice it into strips lengthwise. Put the chicken in the bag, seal and let marinate in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine panko, flour, lime zest and coriander in a bowl. Lay a wire rack on a baking sheet covered with tinfoil and spray with non-stick spray. Remove chicken from marinade and coat strips in panko mixture, pressing so crumbs adhere. Let them on the baking sheet then give them a quick spray of non-stick spray or olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, then bake 10 more.

While chicken is cooking, combine avocado, tomato, strawberries and onion. Mix with salt, pepper and lime juice.

Heat tortillas if desired, then serve with crisp chicken, salsa, and toppings. Spritz with lime wedges.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Menu - Week of June 26, 2011

I just realized the theme for this week's menu is chicken. I try to make sure we have some variety in terms of protein but alas.

Sunday - Strawberry, Orange and Grilled Chicken Salad

Monday - Date Night

Tuesday - Chicken Tikka Masala, basmati rice, naan and raita

Wednesday - Pulled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches, caprese pasta salad

Thursday - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Friday - Burgers on the grill, quick potato salad
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Eggplant Panini

I've had this recipe for Eggplant Panini printed out and ready to make since Lishie submitted it for a recipe swap on my life board, but I didn't want to make it until I could pick fresh basil from my backyard. I finally got my herb garden going a few weeks ago and immediately put this on the menu for the first week after my big work conference.

I made a few modifications, replacing the roasted red peppers with tomato sauce, ditching the balsamic simply because I forgot to include it, and using flour and egg to coat the eggplant instead of breadcrumbs (which is how we make our eggplant rollatini). I'd really like to try it with the roasted red pepper and balsamic next time. SP gave this sandwich his highest honor - he said it tasted like something he'd get at a restaurant. High praise indeed!

Eggplant Panini
Modified from DeLish!

1 eggplant
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1lb fresh mozzarella, sliced
6-8 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 cup marinara sauce
4 Italian sub rolls

Trim the stems and ends from the eggplants. Remove strips of peel about 1" wide from the eggplants, leaving about 1/2 the peel intact. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4" slices and place them in a colander. Sprinkle generously with coarse salt, tossing to expose all slices, and let drain 1 hour. Rinse eggplant under cool running water, drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.

Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl and put the flour in another bowl. Heat the oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat. Dip the eggplant slice first in the egg then coat the slices with flour. Add to the oil, making sure not to crowd the pan, and cook until they are golden, about 2-3 minutes each side. Allow to cool on a paper towel-lined plate.

To assemble the sandwiches - cut each roll in half. Spread marinara sauce on each slice of bread. Layer the eggplant, mozzarella slices, and basil leaves. Close the assembled sandwiches and cook either on a panini press or on a grill pan with a weight on the sandwich (another pan or heavy plate) until the mozzarella is melted. Serve hot.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kicked-Up Carbonara

If you've read this blog for any length of time you know how much I love carbonara. I discovered it with a good friend when we were studying abroad and have been in love with it ever since. When I saw Kicked-Up Carbonara on Cassie's blog I knew it would be a winner in my book.

I made a few changes in order to incorporate some of the flavors I love from my traditional carbonara recipe (sliced onion and vermouth) and swapped fresh tomato for the red pepper since neither of us are big pepper fans. The result was utterly delicious - rich and creamy, with a bright burst from the tomatoes. I also loved the addition of the spinach. Carbonara is my guilty pleasure, so if I can add some veggies in it makes me feel better about eating it. Thanks again, Cassie!

Kicked-Up Carbonara
Adapted from Cassie Craves

1 pound linguine or spaghetti
8 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup vermouth
2 cups fresh baby spinach
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to pan.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Add vermouth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; boil gently, uncovered, 3 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add spinach and cook 1 minute, or until wilted. Add pasta to skillet and toss to coat the pasta with the syrupy liquid.

In medium bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg and Pecorino cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Off heat (this is very important or the eggs will scramble) add egg mixture to skillet and toss to coat. Add the tomatoes. Taste and season with more salt, pepper or cheese, if necessary and serve immediately.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

Someone on my cooking board recently asked for ideas for jalapenos and one of the recommendations was this recipe for Jalapeno Popper Chicken. I love jalapeno poppers so I thought I'd give it a try.

Unfortunately this was just too spicy for me. I was hoping for a mild heat, but I guess I left too many ribs and seeds in the jalapenos because this was downright spicy. SP liked it, but wished I had sauteed the jalapenos before combining them with the cheese. I have to agree. This has definite potential but needs some tweaking. I've added my recommendations to the recipe below.

Jalapeno Popper Chicken
Adapted from The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen

4 chicken breasts
4oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded cheese (any flavor)
1 tablespoon oil
4 jalapenos, chopped (ribs and seeds removed)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup Panko
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix together cream cheese, shredded cheese, and jalapeno peppers. Use a knife to make a pocket in each chicken breast. Stuff mixture into pocket. Use a toothpick to secure if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix together bread crumbs, Panko and taco seasoning on a plate. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl. Dip chicken into bread crumb mixture then egg and again into bread crumbs.

Place in baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove toothpicks and serve.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Menu - Week of June 19, 2011

The results are unanimous vote I will now post a weekly menu (hopefully on Sundays) of my meal plan for the week. I've been thinking about doing this for awhile and I'm not really sure what was holding me back. So, here goes!

Sunday: Burgers on the grill, pasta salad

Monday: Date night

Tuesday: Kicked-Up Carbonara

Wednesday: Eggplant Paninis, pasta salad with mozzarella and grape tomatoes

Thursday: Crispy Margarita Chicken Tacos with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

Friday: Burger Friday (TBD)
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recipe Swap Roundup - Breakfast

The theme for this week's recipe swap was breakfast. I love breakfast, but like most people I rarely get a chance to enjoy it except on weekends. There were a lot of great recipes submitted this week (mainly pancakes, but a few savory dishes as well) so hopefully if you're a breakfast lover you'll find something new to try.

Jillian had my recipe for Canadian Benny's, which was fitting since she's Canadian:

Melissa, a true pancake lover, enjoyed the Banana Nut Pancakes with Sweet Cream Topping:

The Cookaholic Wife had another savory recipe, Breakfast Crostata:

There were quite a few pancake submissions, like the one Melissa made for Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes:

Jaida tried her hand at making homemade Cinnamon Rolls:

Cathy recipe for Breakfast Muesli with Raisins and Flaxseed was a hit with her and her husband:

Brianna was pleased with how easy these Currant Scones were to make:

Lauren went out of her comfort zone to make a Sausage Breakfast Sandwich:

My recipe was a delicious Vegetable and Cheese Frittata:

Heather enjoyed her knockoff Almost Cinnabons:

Carrie's husband and daughter loved the Banana Oatmeal Pancakes:

Jey had another pancake recipe, this one for Strawberry Pancakes:

Christine had yet another recipe for pancakes - Banana Sour Cream Pancakes:

Unfortunately Valerie, a recipe swap newcomer, doesn't have a photo of her Cake Batter Pancakes, but you can read her review on her blog.

Lisa doesn't have a blog, but she really enjoyed her recipe for The Buttermilk Pancakes of my Childhood, submitted by Brianna. She says, "These were super easy, very flavorful pancakes. Only needed to buy one ingredient, the buttermilk. Will absolutely use this recipe for my future pancake making needs."
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Recipe Swap - Vegetable and Cheese Frittata

Want to see what other Breakfast recipes were made during the swap? Here is the link to the Breakfast Recipe Swap Roundup

This week's recipe swap theme was breakfast. When I was a kid I didn't like breakfast foods. I don't know what was I thinking. All those years I missed out on delicious eggs, pancakes, waffles, etc...such a shame. These days I love breakfast and I couldn't wait to see what the wonderful ladies on the cooking board came up with. I was very excited when I got this recipe for Vegetable and Cheese Frittata from Melissa at Lemons and Love. I love all things eggs and just reading the ingredients made my mouth water.

It did not disappoint. I made a few minor substitutions based on what I had on hand (blue cheese for feta, Mexican shredded for cheddar, frozen spinach for fresh, fresh basil for dried) and, honestly, the vegetable and cheese possibilities are endless. I ate two slices for breakfast and could have kept eating. Thanks for a fantastic recipe, Melissa!

Vegetable and Cheese Frittata
Adapted from Lemons and Love

8 eggs, slightly beaten
4 basil leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried basil
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1 cup chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup blue or feta cheese, crumbled
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper

If you have a broiler, preheat it. If not, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, blue or feta cheese, basil, salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat oil in a large broiler-proof skillet; add corn, spinach, tomatoes, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Pour egg mixture over vegetables in skillet. Cook over medium heat. As mixture sets, run a spatula around edge of skillet, lifting egg mixture so uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking and lifting edges until egg mixture is almost set (surface will be moist).

Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Place the skillet under broiler 4 to 5 inches from heat. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until the top is just set and cheese is melted. If you don't have a broiler, bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Burger Friday - Pesto Burger

I had some pesto leftover from the Chicken with Pesto Mushroom Cream Sauce so I used it to top this week's burger:

... along with sliced tomato and shredded Mexican cheese. Delish!
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

I've found SP's new favorite meal - Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta.

I made a big batch of this pasta the night before we left for a long weekend. SP was so upset that we wouldn't be able to eat leftovers he made me promise to keep them in the freezer and make it again soon. So I did, this week when I needed another easy meal.

I'm sorry for the horrible photo. I went to a lot of trouble to arrange the pasta nicely in a baking dish but as soon as I was ready to photograph it outside in the natural light a huge storm blew through and it was pitch black at 6:30pm. Sigh. The photos at How Sweet It Is are much better than anything I could take anyway so just go check those out.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
How Sweet It Is

1 pound short-cut pasta
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk
4 ounces grated Monterey jack cheese + more for topping
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese + more for topping
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce + more for topping
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color. Add milk, stir and turn down heat to low. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in grated cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in buffalo wing sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Spray a baking dish (9 x 13 is fine, I used a round 4-inch deep dish) with non-stick spray. Add pasta and chicken, then pour cheese sauce over and mix thoroughly until everything is coated. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately top with Gorgonzola, green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce.
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pizza Paninis

I needed another quick and easy dinner last week and these Pizza Paninis looked great.

I had some pizza sauce in the freezer from when I was doing Pizza Fridays, so all I had to do was heat it up before serving. I added sliced black olives and used shredded Mexican cheese just because we always have it on hand. These were so good I either need to make a more substantial side dish to go with them or budget two sandwiches per person. And like Cassie said, the filling possibilities are endless.

Pizza Panini
Cassie Craves

Frozen garlic Texas toast
Deli-sliced pepperoni
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce

Prepare garlic toast according to package directions. To assemble sandwiches, top a slice of garlic toast with pepperoni and a sprinkling of cheese, then another piece of garlic toast. Cook in a panini press until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Chicken with Pesto Mushroom Cream Sauce

I need to keep dinner simple right now because of my big work conference next week so I was browsing Cassie's blog looking for inspiration. Cassie and I are very similar in our cooking styles and I knew she wouldn't steer me wrong. I did a search for mushrooms, since I had some in the fridge from last week, and came across this gem - Chicken with Pesto Mushroom Cream Sauce.

I modified it slightly, cutting up the chicken to make it easier and faster to cook, but that's the only change I made...well, besides doubling the sauce so I could serve it over spaghetti. SP loved it and he isn't a big pesto fan. Thanks Cassie. I knew I could count on you.

Chicken with Pesto Mushroom Cream Sauce
Very slightly modified from Cassie Craves

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups heavy cream (or half & half)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Pasta of your choice

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cooking chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet and cook mushrooms until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream, broth and chicken to skillet, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet and toss with the sauce. Off heat, stir in pesto and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

No real recipe for this, just a photo of delicious roasted asparagus we had recently.

I was going to grill these but our gas grill ran out of propane and SP didn't feel like setting up the charcoal grill, so I roasted them in our toaster oven. Drizzled with oil, salt and pepper and finished with a shower of grated Pecorino cheese.
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Recipe Swap Roundup - Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. It also marks the unofficial start of summer and many of us use the long weekend to get together with friends and family for a cookout. I thought a Memorial Day theme for the cooking board recipe swap would be a great way to switch up the dishes we usually see at cookouts.

Kate really enjoyed my recipe for Grilled Corn Salad, which is one of my all-time favorite side dishes when corn is in season:

Mary Ellen loves experimenting with different pasta salads so she was thrilled to get Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad for the swap:

Melissa loved all the flavors in her recipe for Mediterranean Layer Dip:

Christine loved that the veggies in her Sweet Beginnings' Summer Pasta Salad really shown through:

The Cookaholic Wife had another take on a Mediterranean Layer Dip:

Melissa was thrilled for an excuse to make panzanella, also known as Grilled Ciabatta Bread Salad:

Jaida's recipe for Fruit Kabobs wasn't exactly a recipe but it fit perfectly with her detox diet:

Jey really enjoyed her recipe for Grilled Corn with Garlic Butter, Lime and Parmesan:

My recipe for Avocado and Tahini Salad was a nice change from our usual salads:

Jenny, a newcomer to the recipe swaps, made a Marinated Carrot Salad:

The Cooking Nurse had a delicious dessert recipe, S’more Brownies:

Tyler made a refreshing Orzo Salad with Watermelon and Feta:

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Recipe Swap - Avocado and Tahini Salad with Chickpeas

Want to see what other Memorial Day recipes were made during the swap? Here is the link to the Memorial Day Recipe Swap Roundup

This week's cooking board recipe swap theme was something you'd bring to a cookout. I got this recipe for Avocado & Tahini Salad with Chickpeas from Jill over at JBean Cuisine.

The salad was good and like Jill's husband, we found the dressing to be almost like a dip. Unfortunately we didn't have any cookouts to attend this year so it was just the two of us eating this, but it was a welcome change from our usual sides.

I found the dressing to be a little thick, even with the addition of the yogurt, so I added some cold water to the food processor to thin it out. I left out the carrots since I'm not a fan of raw carrots, and I didn't specify baby spinach on the shopping list so I left that out as well, but I'm leaving Jill's original recipe below. You can add whatever salad ingredients you like or have on hand.

Avocado and Tahini Salad with Chickpeas
JBean Cuisine

1 avocado, cut in half and flesh removed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
3 tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
cold water, as needed
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped finely
1 can of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
10 baby carrots, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 medium cucumber, chopped

Using your food processor combine all of the dressing ingredients. Give it a whirl until well incorporated.

Prepare and chop all of your salad ingredients. Place salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
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