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Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

As usual around this time of year, I find myself in a bit of a food rut.  It feels like we should be eating local fresh asparagus and ripe sweet strawberries, but our finicky Minnesota climate just can’t decide if it wants to launch into full-on Spring or not. So, I wait patiently for these beautiful gems to show up at the Farmers Market– because, nothing comes even close to tasting as good.  In the meantime, lighter fare is slowly creeping into my subconscious and I find myself using my Dutch oven less and less.

Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

Back in my college days (many years ago), I worked as a caterer.  I really enjoyed working the events and learning about different foods.  One of my favorite dishes we did was one that is similar to the salad I’m sharing today commonly known to us then as the “President’s Salad”, because it was the President of the University’s favorite salad and he always requested it for his catered functions.  It was delicious.

Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

This is my version of that salad.  I like to keep things simple and light and pack it full of robust lemon flavor.  It is definitely customizable, adding pasta stretches it a bit for larger crowds (just double the amount of sauce), which is nice for summer gatherings.  Some people may prefer the sauce in more abundance, so adding a bit more mayonnaise is completely do-able.  Surprisingly, the combination of lemon, artichokes, and carrots are a fantastic match and can make it feel like you’re eating Spring, even if you are still waiting for it to fully arrive.  Finishing it with creamy cashews add a nice crunch that this salad definitely needs.   I hope you are all enjoying a lovely Spring in your parts!

Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots | Relishing It

The Recipe: Lemony Artichoke Chicken Salad with Carrots

(serves 4)

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, roasted and shredded or about 2 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded

4 large carrots, peeled and julienned (or coarse grated)

1 small celery stalk, chopped

1 14-ounce can of quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed

handful of cashews and extra cilantro, for garnish

The Sauce:

1/4 cup mayonnaise (or more, if desired)

juice of 1 medium lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on both sides of the chicken breasts.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 40 minutes (the time will vary depending upon the size of the breasts) or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F.  Remove from oven.  Cover with foil and let rest for about 10  minutes.  Shred with forks or your hands, when cool.

In a small bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Combine the shredded chicken, artichoke hearts, carrots, and celery in a large bowl.  Pour the sauce over the contents and use tongs to gently fold everything together (so the chicken doesn’t fall apart too much).  Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary. This salad is best if it spends a little time in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld.  Serve with cashews and additional cilantro sprinkled on top.  Enjoy!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by Relishing It!  Take care.

Laurie

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Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

We’re kickin’ it old-school today, friends.  If there was one dish that would represent the Midwest (or are we called the North now?) hotdish would definitely win the title.  I think I do a respectable job of exposing my family to worldly cuisines, but to be honest I’m a product of North Dakota and Minnesota, so there’s something that I find so comforting in a good hearty, potato hotdish.  It’s a bit of nostalgia from my childhood, but it also just tastes so good.

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

Hotdish can be made from a variety of ingredients– pasta, rice, or potatoes are generally combined with vegetables and proteins and a sauce of some sort.  My favorite is this one made with potatoes.  It holds together so well and the leftovers are fantastic.  Pasta hotdish leftovers, as you can imagine, become a bit mushy.  But potato versions?  They just keep getting better.

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

The hamburger potato hotdish of my childhood isn’t exactly the version I’m sharing with you today.  My mom would make a version, probably like most of the other moms in the Midwest, using a couple cans of condensed soup.  You know the brand.  It was fine.  It was lovely.  I’m thankful that she made us delicious food.  Do I make my own hotdish using that can of condensed soup? You already know I don’t because I like to keep processed food to a minimum in my house.  Maybe I’m a bit of a control freak and I hate that I can’t control what’s going into that soup.  Maybe I hate that it has been setting on a shelf for weeks, months, or longer.  Maybe I hate preservatives.  Or maybe it’s just so easy to mix up my own– it takes just a few minutes and it tastes about 1,000x better?

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

My point is, with whole ingredients, this hotdish is sensational.  This is mid-winter Midwest food at it’s best.  We love the peas and carrot version that I’ve photographed here.  But another classic combination that we enjoy is fresh green beans and corn.  So good!  Also, give brussel sprouts a try, as well– amazing.  You can really modify this recipe to suit your family’s taste.  Try using sweet potatoes instead of white. The same goes for the mushroom sauce– use any type of flour that your prefer to thicken it.  Make it gluten-free, if that’s what you need.  As I’ve mentioned before, the leftovers are incredible.  If this is your first time embarking on a hotdish, I hope you enjoy this delicious and legendary dish.  Bon Appétit!

Hamburger Potato Hotdish | Relishing It

The Recipe: Hamburger Potato Hotdish

(serves 4-6)

2 pounds ground beef, preferably grass-fed
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
black pepper
6-8 medium-sized yukon gold potatoes, evenly sliced (don’t even bother peeling them)
2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced small
1 10-ounce bag frozen peas, no need to thaw
chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Mushroom Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour (AP, White Whole Wheat, or Gluten-Free all work)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup finely chopped crimini mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried thyme or fresh
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (don’t use dried– just omit if you don’t have any)
kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef. Drain the fat when finished. Add the onion, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes until the vegetables become somewhat aromatic. Remove from heat.

In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter.  When melted, whisk in the flour. When it bubbles, slowly whisk in the milk, followed by the thyme, rosemary, and mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue stirring while the entire mixture becomes hot and starts to form bubbles. It will be done when the sauce has thickened a bit, about 5-10 minutes.

Place the meat mixture in a casserole dish, roughly 11 x 8 x 2.  Then toss the carrots and peas evenly over the meat. Layer the sliced potatoes next until they reach top of the dish. You may need more or less potatoes depending upon the size of your dish. Place the casserole on a large baking sheet to catch any drips while it bakes. Slowly and evenly pour the mushroom sauce over the potatoes. You may want to gently tap the dish to coax the sauce down in between the potatoes.  It will settle in more as it bakes, so don’t worry. Cover with a lid or use a tented piece of foil. Bake for about 1 hour, but remove the lid when there are just 10 minutes left to bake. Test the doneness of the potatoes using a fork.  Bake longer if need be. Remove from oven and let rest for about 15 minutes before serving, or the juices will run everywhere. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

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Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

You know what’s awesome?  Handing your daughter a pickle and having her proclaim (without knowing where it was from) “This is amazin’!”.  That, my friends, is what I call winning.  She didn’t see me make the first batch of refrigerator pickles this year, but she’s been helping me make every batch since.  She is fascinated by the fact that it doesn’t take very long to transform a cucumber into a wonderful pickle.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

I decided to wing-it this year and make up my own pickle recipe.  After waiting rather impatiently for my mom to send me her recipe (you’re in trouble, mother), I decided to conjure up my own version.  Sure, I’ve made lots of refrigerator pickles in the past, but nothing that kept me wanting to make the same batch again.  I was reaching too far, to be honest– over-complicating things.  I kept looking for something “interesting” that would blow me away.  Last year I even tried a version with mint, and while they were fine, they just were not what I was looking for.  I realized that what I was really after wasn’t complicated at all.  I wanted something that was really crunchy, fresh, garlicy, and had a clean dill taste.  Simple. Classic.  So, I stopped searching and just made them the way I wanted.  Duh.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerato Pickles with Garlic + Dill | Relishing It

The key for me to keeping them refreshing is to lessen the salt and vinegar amount a bit.  I remember this trick from my mom, which is why I probably loved her pickles so much.  Add a little filtered water to the vinegar and it creates the most refreshing brine.  Too much salt makes me want to stop eating something in a hurry, but just the right amount– and I can chomp on these babies all day long.  The dill and garlic are just what you’d expect them to be– delicious.  No surprises here.  I always add carrots to my refrigerator dills– they’re fantastic.  They take a bit longer to pickle than the cucumbers do.  Using young small cucumbers is the key to a crunchy pickle, as is not heating up the brine mixture.  Keep everything cold and you’ll have a fantastic crunch– I promise you.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

These pickles are perfect to bring to a barbecue or neighborhood gathering.  Bring a huge bowl of them– they’ll disappear quickly.   There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a cold, crunchy pickle on a hot summer evening.  National Night Out is next Tuesday in the US.  I plan on bringing a big bowl of these crunchy dills, and I think you should do the same.  Or just make a jar or two to keep in your refrigerator for when you need that tangy, satisfying crunch.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

The Recipe: Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic

Smallish cucumbers, cut however you like– I prefer spears

carrots, cut into spears

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt ( I use Diamond Crystal–and weirdly this matters.  Different salt.  Different results.)

fresh dill

white vinegar

Make as many jars as you want.  Fill each clean quart jar with cucumber spears, carrots, 3-4 cloves of garlic, and fresh dill. Make sure everything is packed in there tightly.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Pour vinegar into the jar until it is  3/4 full.  Then finish filling the jar with filtered water, leaving about 1/2-inch space at the top.  Cover with lid and gently shake to combine.  Refrigerate.  Pickles will be ready within a few hours, but it’s best to wait at least a day for optimum results.  Carrots often take a bit longer to fully become pickled, but I generally eat them before the fact.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

Laurie

 

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Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

I love taking a favorite meal of mine and tweaking it just a bit to create something entirely different.  Equally as delicious, just in a different way.  That’s what I’ve done here with this recipe.  I can’t even count how many times I’ve made this slaw.   I basically suggest it to everyone who asks me for a warm-weather meal idea and they end up loving it.  It’s one of the high points of being a “food blogger”– finding out that one of your favorites has become a favorite of so many other people.

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

Sometimes, I want something more filling than just slaw, or more to the point– something hearty to chomp on.  Adding soba noodles to the mix was the perfect solution here, and I love that it’s still accompanied by a ton of vegetables.  The heat is going to crank up here this week, so peanuty cold soba noodles will be on my menu again.  You should make it, too.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, it certainly doesn’t have to be this exact combination.  You may find that you need a bit more soy sauce or salt in the sauce when adding soba noodles to the mix.  I re-season after it’s been mixed, so not to overdo it with the salt.  A squeeze of fresh lime is essential when serving.  Hope you enjoy!  And stay cool.

Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad | Relishing It

 

The Recipe: Peanuty Cold Soba Noodle Salad

(serves 2-3)

Follow this Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw recipe (this time I used broccoli, carrots, red cabbage, cilantro, and radishes)

With Additions Of:

1 bunch soba noodles cooked according to directions, then rinsed with cold water (reserve a bit of cooking water)

scallions, for garnish

black sesame seeds, for garnish

limes

Follow the directions to make the Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw.  Combine the vegetables, sauce, and cold soba noodles together using tongs.  Loosen with a bit of cooking water, if need be.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings, if needed.  I often add a bit more soy or salt when adding soba noodles to the mix.  Squeeze lime juice onto the final mixture and top with peanuts, scallions, cilantro, and black sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

Laurie

 

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Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing it

I love a good slaw.  Basically, I love any salad that is made from cabbage and crunchy vegetables.  Sure, once summer rolls around I’ll be thrilled to dig into a plate of delicate, tender greens.  But, in the meantime, I never tire of crunchy, hearty vegetables.  They satisfy me when I’m hungry.  They have a great mouth-feel– as in, I actually feel like I’m eating something substantial.  Like I’m eating a meal.

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

Cabbage (and kale) are really my go-to winter salad fare.  Remember this salad?  I still eat it at least once a week.  The same goes for the one I’m sharing today.  I love combining Asian flavors into a slaw.  It just works.  Making a dressing using plain yogurt is a perfect way to “health it up”, yet still satisfies that need for something a bit more indulgent and creamy.

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

I used freshly ground peanut butter in this dressing, but you can buy good organic peanut butter at your market.   Be sure to look for a kind that only contains ground peanuts.  Added salt is fine.  If you have to use something else with other ingredients, just be warned that the flavor of the dressing may be a bit off, as those other kinds generally contain a lot of sugar.  Most of the other ingredients for the dressing are things that you probably have in your refrigerator already.  The lime juice is the perfect backdrop for the flavors.  And as for the vegetables, the combination of red cabbage, carrots, carrots, cilantro, and broccoli are wonderful together.  I love using broccoli in this finely-sliced form.  Broccoli has a wonderful flavor, but I don’t always like chewing on the florets, so this is a nice solution.  I’ve also added golden raisins to this slaw.  Taking a bite with one in it feels like hitting the lottery.  Perhaps I should just toss more in next time?!  Cheers– hope you enjoy the slaw!

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

The Recipe: Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw

(serves 1-2)

For the Asian Peanut Dressing:

2 tablespoons organic natural peanut butter (containing only peanuts and salt)

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce

honey (optional)

For the Slaw:

2 medium carrots, grated on the large hole of a box grater

1/4 small head of red cabbage, thinly sliced

5-6 large broccoli florets, thinly sliced

1/4 large red pepper, julienned

small handful of cilantro leaves, stems removed

2-3 tablespoons golden raisins

chopped salted peanuts or cashews, for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk the ingredients for the dressing together.  Set aside.  In a larger bowl, combine all the ingredients for the slaw,  sans peanuts.  Pour the dressing onto the vegetables and mix together using tongs.  You may not want to pour all of the dressing on at once (I generally have a bit leftover).  It’ll depend on your personal taste.  Top with the chopped peanuts or cashews.  Enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota!  And by Spring, I mean it officially reached 80 degrees here yesterday.  Last night we grilled for the first time this season, and it was wonderful.  My husband is one of those guys that would be happy eating cereal for dinner several nights a week if I let him, yet he considers the grilling of a steak a sacred process.  He’s a master, and the New York strip that he grilled-up last night was heavenly.  I mean this now, I’d put it up against any fancy restaurant’s offering.  Anyway, I know we’ll be doing a lot more grilling now that the weather has turned, so I came up with this carrot salad that is a fantastic side dish.  It’s also perfect if you’re in the mood for a light lunch.

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

It seems as though carrots are often just an afterthought in most dishes.  Need a little color in some soup, throw a carrot in!  (Well, except in this soup– one of my favorites– where they’re the star.)  I happen to love carrots.  They have that nice slightly-sweet flavor, a wonderful crunch, and amazing longevity.  In this salad they take center stage.  The flavors are bright, yet there is a nice, complex, smokiness to give it depth.  Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made that homemade Harissa?  It is brilliant combined with these ingredients.  The ricotta salata cheese lends a bit of saltiness to this dish.  If you can’t find ricotta salata, feta is a good substitute.  Personally, I prefer ricotta salata for most salads, because its subtlety allows the other flavors to be more pronounced.  And the creaminess is a welcome addition to most any salad.  The cilantro and lime add that little zing of acidity that compliments the harissa and carrots wonderfully.  If your Harissa is a little on the thick side, feel free to thin it out with a few drops of water or olive oil.  Don’t overdo it though, since there is a squeeze of lime juice at the end that loosens everything up.

Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Simple Carrot Salad with Harissa and Cilantro

(serves 1)

2 carrots, peeled, then thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler

1/2 cup long ribbons of red cabbage

handful of cilantro

1 tablespoon Homemade Harissa or store bought

lime wedges

2 tablespoons of crumbled ricotta salata cheese

sea salt, to taste

This is more of an idea, than a recipe.  Make as much or as little as you want.  This amount will serve one beautifully.  Cut the carrot anyway that you want, though I prefer long beautiful ribbons made by using a vegetable peeler.  They’re just so pretty that way!  Toss all of the ingredients, except the ricotta salata and lime into a large bowl.  Using tongs, gently incorporate the Harissa onto the vegetables.  Add more if you like.  If your Harissa is a bit on the thick side, add a bit of water or olive oil to thin it out.  Plate your salad and top with crumbled ricotta salata cheese and a couple squeezes of lime juice.  Add a sprinkle of salt, if necessary.  Enjoy!

Have a lovely week and thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

xo

Laurie

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Szechwan Carrot Soup

Carrot soup.  It isn’t exactly a cause for celebration, is it?  Carrot soup even sounds dull.  Not this time, though.  I love a dish that takes a reliable, though perhaps uninspiring ingredient, and transforms it into something special.  Here the addition of a few interesting Asian flavors make this carrot soup absolutely delicious.  And as a bonus, this is a perfect weeknight soup.  Chances are the you already have most of these ingredients in your kitchen, and it comes together in less than a half hour.

Like most soups, this recipe has a lot of wiggle room so you can adjust it to fit your palate.  If you like things spicy (like we do) add more red pepper flakes.  Or you may want more peanut butter or sesame oil.  Feel free to experiment.  As always, make sure you taste before you serve it.  Since they remain the central flavor of this soup, it’s worth tracking down organic carrots.  You’ll find the flavor is simply better.  I paired it with this salad (without carrots), and it made a perfect, light weeknight meal.  Hope you enjoy it!

The Recipe: Szechwan Carrot Soup

1/2 medium white onion, chopped

2 celery ribs. chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1  inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, or more to taste

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 -2 teaspoons sesame oil

splash of rice wine vinegar or lime juice

Cilantro, chopped for garnish

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven.  Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the chopped carrots, ginger, red pepper flakes and broth and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20-25 minutes.  Stir in the peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil.  Puree with a emersion blender, or transfer it to a regular blender and mix until smooth.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Add a splash of rice wine vinegar or lime juice.  You may want to add more peanut butter or soy sauce, depending upon your personal taste.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet

Thanks so much for stopping by Relishing It  — I love hearing from you.

Laurie

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