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SUNSETS CHICAGO STYLE

I spent this past weekend visiting my daughter, Jodi and her boyfriend Neil. While Steve had a seminar, we galavanted around the city, making most of the little time we have together.

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Vitamin D Room at the Summerhouse

Visiting Chicago, or any city for that matter, with Jodi is always an experience! Some people take the time to smell the flowers, but with Jodi we take the time to….(just a little photo journey of our time together)…..

 

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CAPRI AT THE RITZ

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This beautiful display beacons you as you enter the restaurant and wait for your table….

Lunch was an assortment of creative and healthy salads. The most amazing was the cauliflower with jalapeño and parmesan pesto.

 

 

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This little number kept calling to us….and we succumbed. Well worth it!
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We then embarked on a Chicago sunset cruise. It was a little cloudy, but with the little cocktail lounge on the ship, it made for a lovely evening…followed by....

 

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this….amazing lobster roll dripping with huge chunks of lobster on a buttery grilled bun….oh my! 

MINI LOBSTER ROLLS WITH HERBED MAYO

Makes 15 rolls

FOR THE ROLLS

  • 2  lobster tails, thawed if frozen (8 oz. each)
  • 3  cups water
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (zest reserved)
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 5 hot dog buns, sliced length- wise and cut into thirds
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE MAYO

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. each minced celery, fresh chives, tarragon, and parsely 
  • 1  Tbsp. minced shallots 
  • 2  tsp. fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  1. Combine water, juice of 1 lemon, and 1 tsp. Old Bay in a large sauce- pan. Insert steamer basket in pan, bring water to a boil, place the tails in steamer, and cover.
  2. Steam tails 8–10 minutes until shells are red and meat is cooked. Remove tails from pan and cool slightly.
  3. Cut shells lengthwise with kitchen shears. Chop meat into chunks. Preheat broiler with rack 5 inches from the element.
  4. Mix mayonnaise, celery, chives, tarragon, parsley, shallots, 2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. Old Bay, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a bowl. Fold in lobster meat.
  5. Brush rolls with melted butter and broil until toasted, 1–2 minutes. Spoon filling onto toasted rolls and garnish with reserved lemon zest.

Then, of course, on our way to the airport, we HAD to stop for the one and only Shake Shack burger! A delicious patty of perfectly cooked beef topped with cheese and a FRIED CHEESE PORTOBELLO STUFFED MUSHROOM!!! One bite into this massive deliciousness is what I think heaven would be like as the lava fountain of cheese oozes out with each bite….ok. I’m done…😋 (Shake Shack…put it on your bucket list!) People say the secret’s in the sauce, but I say its in the mushroom!

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It’s hard to believe that a little food stand in NYC made its way to major cities with lines blocks long

Here is a

FAKE SHAKE SHACK HACK RECIPE FROM SERIOUS EATS! (It has everything but the portobello.)

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INGREDIENTS
8 ounces beef sirloin, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces well-marbled beef chuck, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces well-marbled beef brisket, fat cap intact, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 Martin’s Sandwich Rolls
4 tablespoons Shack Sauce (recipe follows)
4 leaves of green-leaf lettuce, clipped
8 center-cut slices ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 slices yellow American cheese
Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 slices kosher dill pickle
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
DIRECTIONS
1.
Place feed shaft, blade, and 1/4-inch die of meat grinder in freezer until well-chilled. Meanwhile, place meat chunks on rimmed baking sheet, leaving space between each piece and place in freezer for 10 minutes until meat is firm, but not frozen.

2.
Combine meat in large bowl and toss to combine. Pass meat through grinder twice. Form into four disks, about 2-inches tall, and 2.5-inches wide. Refrigerate until ready for use.

3.
Open buns but do not split hinge. Brush lightly with butter, then place under broiler or in toaster oven until golden brown, about 1 minute. Spread 1 tablespoon Shack Sauce on top half of each bun (for true authenticity, squirt out of squeeze bottle into three lines, three passes on each line). Place 1 leaf lettuce and 2 slices tomato on top half of each bun.

4.
Using wadded-up paper towel, rub inside of heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet with vegetable oil, then place over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Season beef pucks on top side with salt and pepper, then place, seasoned side down, in skillet. Using back of heavy, flat spatula, press down on beef pucks firmly to form 4-inch round patties, being careful not to let it stick to bottom of spatula. Season top side with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp brown crust has formed, about 2-minutes.

5.
Carefully scrape patties from skillet, and flip. Top each patty with 1 slice American cheese. Cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute longer. Transfer patties to burger bun bottoms, close sandwiches, and serve.

6.
Shack Sauce: Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth, scraping down sides of blender with rubber spatula as necessary. Makes about 3/4 cup sauce.

Cheers to sunsets, birthdays, and just about anything you want to toast to….burgers, lobster…anything. Thanks for stopping in and I hope you enjoyed todays read.

xo Laura

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MY MONDAY WORKOUT

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LOVE MY STEP CLASS GIRLS!

I setpped on the scale this morning, reluctantly, knowing how bad I was this weekend…wait….awful this weekend, but it was soo worth it. It began with dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant with those ooey, gooey, amazing garlic rolls dripping with sinful Parmesan dipping oil to start, zucchini fritté (my veggie…and friend), veal Parmesan (fried of course), pasta with spicy diablo sauce, and lots of wine…LOTS OF AMAZING WINE…..that was one out of three nights. Enough said.

So, needless to say, the girls in my step class on Monday can always tell if I overate and was over served 🍷 during the weekend by the intensity of the class. Today’s step class was a big one 😁. We did a class called ‘double step’ and it’s intense but crazy fun.

After class I was starving, but decided to start the week off right with a light lunch. LOVING salads, which can be totally fattening, today’s lunch was a simple spinach salad with blue cheese crumbles, red onion, sliced fresh strawberries and a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I chose cheese over dressing and it was delicious! A little watermelon for desert and I feel satisfied. I’m practicing ‘eating with my eyes,’ which is making the salad pretty enough that my mouth and stomach will like it as much as my eyes do. I’ll let you know if it works! IMG_5368

We have lots of choices which gives us control. Finding variety of fresh goodies in the produce section makes it enjoyable. There are even so many pre-cut choices to save time, just watch the expiration date on the bag.

 

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Thanks for popping in! I hope you have a wonderful week!

Cheers!

Laura

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SUMMER SALAD OBSESSION!

IMG_5326Balmy summer nights and all of the wonderful fresh produce have made me hungry for a variety of savory dinner salads. This whole obsession began with Steve, my husband of ten years this month! Steve decided that WE are getting a little chubby……(we???), so he would like to have salads for dinner. Most salads aren’t exactly low cal and diet friendly, however, loving fresh salads and vegetables (we could easily be vegetarians except for and occasional big ass burger:) I accepted the challenge! 

Last night, Steve and I were having a refreshing cocktail on the deck while I grilled the chicken to top our Greek Cobb Salad. So light and flavorful, it was a hit! I plated it on an oval serving dish and we each had our own side. I am not a big egg fan, and Steve isn’t a big cucumber fan, so we each had our own side of the dish! It was perfect! So perfect, in fact, that we ate to the middle and he took the middle for lunch today:)

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On Pinterest this morning, I went a little wild in the salad department. I counted 21 pins on my SALAD BOARD! I decided to hold off until I had time to try a few of the recipes. 

Here’s the favorites!

Greek Cobb Salad

Serves 6 servings 

 

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE, WHISK:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. each fresh lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • FOR THE SALAD, TOSS:
  • 12 chicken tenders, seasoned with salt and black pepper (11/4 lb.)
  • 4 pitas (6-inch), brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and black pepper

Chop:

  • 5 cups chopped hearts of romaine (about 1 head)

ARRANGE:

  • Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill grate with oil.
    For the vinaigrette, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. oil, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. For the salad, toss tenders with 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette, then grill, covered, until cooked through, 3 minutes per side. Transfer tenders to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Chop tenders, then toss with any residual juices. 
  • grill heat to medium.
    Grill pitas until marks appear,
    1 minute per side. Cut pitas
    into 6 wedges.
    Arrange romaine in a large serving dish. Arrange eggs, tomatoes, feta, olives, red onion,  cucumber, chicken, and pitas on same dish; drizzle vinaigrette over the top.

I am ALL OVER this one for tomorrow night from  Pinterest!

BUFFALO CHICKEN SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE CILANTRO RANCH DRESSING (Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings)IMG_5334

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Does this look amazing?????

INGREDIENTS

Buffalo Chicken Salad
1 recipe Buffalo Chicken (see below), sliced or chopped
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped (about 8 cups)
Fresh corn kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large avocado, chopped or sliced

Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch
1/2 cup real mayonnaise (I use lowfat)
1/2 cup sour cream (may sub Greek yogurt with a pinch of sugar)
3 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup cilantro, packed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dry parsley
1 teaspoons dry chives
1/2 teaspoons dry dill
milk (as needed)

An easy shortcut would be to use purchased ranch dressing, seasonings & blue cheese crumbles.

Garnish
Blue cheese crumbles
freshly squeezed lime juice
bacon crumbles (optional)

Easy Croutons
1/2 loaf garlic/herb French bread
olive oil

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Buffalo Chicken: Prepare Buffalo Chicken according to directions (see below)
Blue Cheese Cilantro Ranch: While your chicken is marinating, add all of the dressing ingredients to your blender and chop then liquefy until smooth, adding milk as needed to reach desired consistency. Chill until ready to use.
Croutons: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cube bread into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Spread bread in an even layer onto baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden.
Assemble: If not expecting leftovers, add all of the Salad ingredients to a large bowl and drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with blue cheese crumbles and croutons. If you are expecting leftovers, toss all of the salad ingredient together in a large bowl except avocados. Garnish individual servings with avocados, croutons and dressing.

 

BUFFALO CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS
2-3 chicken breasts (approx. 1 pound), pounded thin
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Buffalo Marinade
1/4 cup Frank’s Hot WINGS Sauce for more heat OR Frank’s ORIGINAL Hot Sauce for less heat
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Buffalo Glaze
Reserved marinade (in directions)
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
INSTRUCTIONS

Whisk together all of the Buffalo Marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Measure out 1/4 cup and add to a shallow dish or freezer bag, along with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken and toss evenly to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 2 hours up to overnight.
To the remaining marinade, make your Buffalo Glaze by whisking in 1 tablespoon honey and 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
STOVETOP DIRECTIONS
Let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned (or blackened if you prefer) on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Brush chicken with desired amount of glaze – for more heat, more glaze; for less heat, less glaze.
GRILLING DIRECTIONS
Let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
Meanwhile, grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 155 degrees F.)
Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Brush chicken with desired amount of glaze – for more heat, more glaze; for less heat, less glaze.
NOTES
*The chicken is flavorful but not very spicy without the glaze. You can completely customize the heat of the chicken by adding more or less glaze. The more glaze the spicier the chicken
*Try tossing the chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce – amazing!
*Chicken is incredible on sandwiches, in wraps, salads, tacos, etc.
*Total time does not include marinating chicken as this time will vary per individual.

I hope you enjoyed today’s read and have a chance to try these amazing main course salads. I always aim for little fuss, and great flavor, so these two have definitely nailed it!

Don’t forget to check out todays shopping!

Cheers! Laura

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THE SALAD BOWL

Salads are no longer considered ‘rabbit food,’ so I love the creativity in preparing and serving. After the first bite, Steve & I decide if its a ‘keeper!’

Here are a couple of our “KEEPERS!”

shrimp cocktail salad martiniSHRIMP COCKTAIL SALAD

This entre salad is filled with bold flavors and is a switch on the traditional shrimp cocktail appetizer. Combining the tangy vinaigrette with the shrimp, lettuce and tomatoes, makes this a perfect summer meal!shrimp cocktail salad martini

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE, WHISK TOGETHER & SET ASIDE:

1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
1 T. ketchup
1/2 C. prepared horseradish
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. Worcestershire saice
1/4 t. kosher salt and black pepper
FOR THE SHRIMP, HEAT:

3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. kosher salt
2 T. Old Bay seasoning
ADD: 2 lb. peeled & deveined large shrimp & cook until pink, 3 min.
Transfer shrimp to a bowl of ice water, drain & toss in vinaigrette.
Chill for at lest 1 hour.
TO SERVE: TOSS SHRIMP, TOMATOES & LETTUCE TOGETHER BEFORE SERVING & ENJOY!

TACO SALAD WITH CHIPOTLE CHICKEN (serves 4)

This is an easy and flavorful salad served up with a little heat!

TACO SALAD WITH CHICKENTACO SALAD WITH CHICKEN

First, layer the salad in a platter or individual bowls, and put in the fridge:

1 large head chopped romaine lettuce
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 sliced jalapeno
1 C. halved tri-color grape tomatoes
1 C. sliced scallions
1 avocado cut in thin wedges
1 C. corn kernels (frozen & thawed, or fresh and blanched)
1 lime cut into wedges.

FOR THE CHIPOTLE CHICKEN:

COMBINE & SIMMER OVER MEDIUM HEAT ABOUT 25 MIN.

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2/3 C. diced onion
2 T. chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
1 T. tomato paste
2 T. fresh garlic
1 C. fresh or jarred roasted red peppers
1/2 t. salt, cocoa powder, and cumin
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
Transfer the chicken to a plate, shred, and put back in sauce.
When ready to serve, remove platter or salad bowls from the fridge, top with warm chicken mixture, shredded cheddar cheese & garnish with lime wedges.

When I first started planning this blog,

I wanted to touch upon healthy living and healthy eating for many reasons. As we age, our metabolism slows down, and combined with less physical activity, the pounds creep on, and not in places where its attractive. Healthy eating tops my list; low fat, low carbs, and small portions seems to work. My next blog post: “DIET IS A FOUR LETTER WORD!”,  we’ll grab some great ways to balance nutrition combined with exercise, for a healthy lifestyle. Today’s post focuses on the new main course: Salad!

The old adage: “Lettuce is rabbit food!” is just that: old. Looking at older cookbooks like “Cookin’ For a Cause,” (1995),  which benefitted United Way, I found the salad section which I read with great amusement. Fruit salads, pasta salads, jello salads, and pretzel salads topped the list with ingredients sure to pack on the pounds. What caught my eye in reviewing these older cookbooks was the commonality of ‘plussing’ up the salads. It became evident to me that throughout the years, cooks, both home and professional, have been searching for ways to liven up this dish.

When Steve and I decided to eat a more healthful diet, he, 68 and me…60, we looked at salads as a main meal. The usual tossed, Caesar, Greek & wedge were great at first, but seemed boring day after day, so I went on a search to find & create salad menus that are fresh, colorful and bursting with flavor.  We taste with our eyes first, so it is important to serve salads that are ‘guest worthy.’ Thanks for swinging by today, and I hope you enjoy these delicious salad recipes. Also, if you follow me, you will get regular updates!

Cheers!

Laura

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