Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Quinoa, Kale, and Chicken Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

With the temperatures heating up, I was craving a salad that would be filling, healthy, and "light" at the same time.  This salad hit the nail on the head for me.  You can certainly add more veggies, swap out ingredients - whatever makes you happy....enjoy!

Quinoa, Kale, and Chicken Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 2 as a main dish

For the salad:
2 cups cooked, diced chicken (I used the breasts from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1 package of seasoned quinoa (I used the Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil from Nature's Earthly Choice) - cooked, following package directions
2 cups of bite-sized pieces of kale
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

For the dressing
1/4 cup coarse ground mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

To prepare the salad, combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl.  

To prepare the dressing, combine the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk.  Slowly add the olive oil, whisking as you go.  If you add it too fast, your dressing will "break" and there isn't a really good way to recover from that.  When you stir quickly and pour slowly, you will achieve the success of a nicely combined vinaigrette.

Pour the dressing over the salad and gently stir to combine.  

Serve immediately.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Visit to Babbo Italian Eatery

I get so excited when new restaurants open near our home!  Just recently, Babbo Italian Eatery’s Power Ranch location opened at the corner of Queen Creek and Power Road in the Safeway shopping center.  I took my boys to this family owned restaurant on one of the first nights it opened and we recently visited as a family for dinner.

This is a family friendly restaurant that also has an extensive menu, full of contemporary Italian dishes, from which to choose.    If you get there early, you can take advantage of their happy hour specials.  Babbo Italian Eatery features a decent wine list too.  The kids menu offers a good variety of Italian dishes at a reasonable price.  My boys are either pizza or spaghetti and meatballs kind of kids – they love it there. 

The first time I dined there I ordered the Pasta Puglia – this dish was delicious!  Their menu describes it as Fresh Tomato Brodo, Fresh Mozzarella, Italian Sausage topped with Fresh Basil and Shaved Parmesan – Served on Fusilli.  The key words in this description drew me in immediately!   It was awesome. 

More recently, I tried the Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Pasta – I mean, c’mon, how can you go wrong with Brussels Sprouts – right?  This is a dish that includes Crisp Pancetta, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Red Pepper Flakes in a Garlic Butter Sauce.  It is served on Fettuccini and topped with Shaved Parmesan and Parsley.  Yes – that was straight from the menu, but is your mouth watering?  


There are a number of Babbo Italian Eatery locations around the Valley – to find out more, you can go to their website at www.babboitalian.com.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Luc Pirlet Cabernet Sauvignon

Whenever I’m cruising through Total Wine, I always like to find one new wine that based on description (and price of course) I’m willing to try.  Recently, I discovered a 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - Les Barriquesfrom Luc Pirlet, a winery located in southern France.   

While I’m on the brink of making the switch from reds to whites, it has still been “cool” enough in the Valley of the Sun to warrant my continued consumption of red wine.  As you can see in the picture, I broke out the “fancy” Waterford to enjoy this Cab.  This practice of mine is pretty common – no reason for that beautiful stemware to sit in the cabinet unused!

After opening this wine, I did let it breathe in the glasses for a bit – well, I was messing around with taking photos!  It opened up nicely and was quite delicious.  I decided to pair this red with sliced Parmesan cheese and some almonds.  Perfect. 

The description just below the bottle at Total Wine that drew my attention (along with the price tag of $9.99) read: “Milk chocolate and dark cherries abound with ripe tannins and integrated oak and spice flavors. The finish is pure velvet and lingers on for quite a long time. An elegant wine with nicely balanced tannins. Great for pot roast or grilled flank steak.”  I mean, really, how can you resist?

If you haven’t switched over to whites just yet, I’d recommend giving this Cabernet a try – it will be worth it.