BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Cumin Dressing

BBQ Chicken Southwest Salad with Creamy Cumin Dressing

It’s that day of the week.  The one where my number one taste-tester becomes the chef.  Yes this is another tried and true meal your man can make for you :)

No surprise that in our household these meals will generally have a Mexican theme to them since Andrew loves Mexican food and is having an affair with avocados or “avos” as he likes to say.  I am pretty sure that he would dress me up as an avo if he could.  I should be careful what I say about avocado costumes since Halloween is around the corner.

We decided to tag team this meal.  He mans the grill and preps the veggies, I create the dressing.  He was pretty proud of the grill marks on his chicken:

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Cumin DressingYes, I was instructed to take a close up of the grill marks.

Don’t worry you don’t need to make your own dressing for this salad you can top it with ranch, bbq sauce, a vinaigrette, whatever your heart desires…my heart just happens to be OBSESSED with CUMIN.  I love the earthy flavor of cumin and this is the spice I associate with Tex-Mex food.  I like to balance sweet, cool, earthy, spicy, and citrus when I make this dressing.  I think the end result is the perfect mix, but you can feel-free to play with the flavors if you prefer a little more creamy or less spicy.

BBQ Chicken Southwest Salad with Creamy Cumin DressingHow amazing does that look?  Even without the dressing and cheese, my mouth is watering…

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep Time: 20 min + 1 hr for marinade
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

The Players:

For the salad:
1-2 chicken breasts
BBQ sauce for marinade, extra for drizzling
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 vine ripe tomato, diced
1/2 C red onion, slliced
1/2 C English cucumber, halved and sliced
1 avocado, pitted and cubed
6 oz baby spinach
1/2 C extra sharp cheddar, shredded
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped

For the dressing:
1/4 C greek yogurt
1/8 C light agave syrup
1/8 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 t cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and cracked pepper to taste

The Rules:

  1. Trim the fat from the chicken breast.  Marinate chicken in your favorite bbq sauce for at least one hour, preferably 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. While the chicken is marinating, prep all vegetables, except the corn and black beans, for the salad.  (Note: you can squeeze some fresh lime juice over the avocado to prevent from turning brown or wait to cut this until the salad is assembled)
  3. Pre-heat the grill to 400 F. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side.  Remove from grill and allow to rest.  This will prevent the juices from running when you slice the chicken.
  4. Place frozen corn in a small sauce pan with 1 tsp of water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until heated through (~5 minutes). Remove from heat once warm.
  5. Place black beans in a small sauce pan with 1-2 Tbsp of water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until heated through (~5 minutes). Remove from heat once warm.
  6. While the corn and black beans are warming up and the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisking together.
  7. Assemble the salad in a large serving bowl: spinach, then fresh vegetables, corn and black beans, grilled chicken, shredded cheese, and cilantro.  Serve with extra bbq sauce and dressing drizzled over the top or on the side.

Better Than Grandma’s Tuna Casserole

Better Than Grandma's Tuna Casserole

Like every good Midwestern girl, I love a good casserole.  Since I moved to the PNW, I find myself craving a yummy home-made hot dish from time to time.  And contrary to popular belief you do not have to use canned soup to make a delicious casserole.  Since casseroles are meant to be layered with ooey-gooey goodness, I don’t skimp on the sauce I just opt for a healthier, lighter version.

PAUSE. Did she just say “healthier” and “casserole”.

I know you might be thinking it isn’t possible, but believe me it is.  Andrew even gave me the highest praise tonight, he said “it tastes just like my grandma’s used to.”  I know the title says “Better Than Grandma’s Tuna Casserole,” but that’s because this version tastes as good as you remember from your childhood AND it doesn’t have as much of the fat.  Winner winner chicken dinner.  Well not quite chicken, unless you’re Jessica Simpson (bad pop culture joke).

Better Than Grandma's Tuna CasseroleDefinitely no skimping on the flavor or the sauce here.

Don’t get me wrong, I still add a little mayo and cheese to my casserole, but I substitute non-fat greek yogurt for most of the mayo and the canned soup.  Instead of regular pasta, I substitute whole-wheat and load up the tuna and peas.

This casserole even has the crunchy texture component that is  MUST HAVE in any delicious hot dish.  Panko bread crumbs have more “umph” than regular bread crumbs so they become a nice crispy topping to contrast the melted cheese and savory tuna-pasta mixture.

Better Than Grandma's Tuna CasseroleLook at the golden brown, crunchy, cheesy goodness!

Seriously, if you love tuna casserole, your belly will be happy after a serving or two of this bad boy.  You don’t even have to feel guilty about that second helping ;)

Better Than Grandma's Tuna Casserole

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

The Players:

1/2 lb whole wheat fusilli pasta
2 cans of tuna in water (5 oz each), drained
1/2 C red onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 C non-fat greek yogurt
1/4 C reduced-fat mayo
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t red pepper flakes
salt and cracked pepper to taste
1 1/2 C frozen peas, thawed
1/2 C  extra sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 C parmesan, grated
1/3 C panko bread crumbs (can substitute regular bread crumbs)
Cooking spray (I use coconut oil cooking spray)

The Rules:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring water for pasta to a boil. Season water with salt.
  3. Add the fusilli to the boiling water and cook until pasta is al dente (follow the instructions on the package).
  4. While the pasta is cooking, in a large mixing bowl combine tuna, lemon juice, greek yogurt, mayo, onion, and seasonings.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain using a colander. Add the pasta to the tuna mixture and mix well using a spatula until fusilli are covered.  (Note: the pasta mixture is not meant to look “wet”, but you can add a bit more mayo or greek yogurt if there is not enough sauce to cover the pasta).
  6. Fold the peas into the tuna-pasta mixture, taking care not smash the peas in the process.
  7. Transfer the pasta salad into the baking dish and spread evenly. Top with cheese and panko bread crumbs.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven, lightly spray the top of the casserole with cooking spray. (Note: the cooking spray will help the panko bread crumbs get golden)
  9. Change the oven setting to broil.  Return casserole into oven and broil for 5-10 minutes until top of casserole is golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Reduced-Guilt Broccoli Salad

Reduced-Guilt Broccoli Salad

This is a salad that somehow shows up at every potluck in the Midwest. I grew up looking forward to potlucks and gatherings for this broccoli salad. That must mean something, since most kids do not look forward to parties for the veggies—especially the broccoli.

Like most Midwest potluck dishes, this salad calls for mayo, but I adapted the dressing so that your waistline does not have to worry. That’s right you can wear regular jeans to a potluck that has this salad—leave the jeggings at home! (I know horrible humor)

Reduced-Guild Broccoli Salad

Teek could not wait for the salad to be done, I think it was the smell of bacon…

I decided to make this recipe with a fall twist so I used dried cranberries and raw pumpkin seeds, but feel free to substitute your favorite dried fruits/nuts.  Also, this salad tastes better the longer it marinades in the dressing, so leave it overnight in the fridge for the best results!

As always,

Bon Appeteek

 Adapted from Older Mommy Still Yummy

The Players:

For the salad
10 oz package pre-washed broccoli florets
½ C diced red onion
¼ C dried unsweetened, dried cranberries (or any dried fruit, i.e. cherries)
¼ C raw pumpkin seeds (or any nut/seed, i.e. sunflower seeds, slivered almonds)
½ C grated sharp cheddar cheese (or any softer cheese you prefer)
2 pieces of turkey bacon (or regular bacon)

For the dressing
¼ C greek yogurt
¼ C reduced fat mayo
¼ C sugar
2 T red wine vinegar (or any vinegar you have on hand)
Fresh cracked black pepper

The Rules:

  1. Combine the broccoli florets, red onion, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and cheese in a medium-large bowl.
  2. Microwave 2 pieces of turkey bacon for 90 seconds (or per cooking instructions on package). Cut into pieces similar in size to the diced onion. Add to the salad mix.
  3. In a small bowl combine ingredients for the dressing and mix well.
  4. Pour the dressing over the broccoli salad. Coat well using a rubber spatula to ensure that dressing covers each broccoli floret.
  5. Cover with lid and place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours, preferably over night.