Tag Archives: dinner

Watermelon Caprese Salad

It’s going to be a sweltering week. If slaving over a hot stove doesn’t appeal to you, then whip up  this cool and delicious  Watermelon Caprese Salad.

Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad made of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and it represents the colors of the Italian flag. I decided to replace the tomato with watermelon and I actually prefer it over the traditional version.

Caprese is often drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar but I had pesto so I scraped the oil off the top of the pesto and dressed the salad with that and it was spectacular. The salty pesto was a great balance to the sweetness of the fruit.

It’s a gorgeous, delicious, healthy, refreshing salad that takes 5 minutes to assemble.

 

Watermelon Caprese Salad

Serves 1

3 (2 1/2-inch) slices of watermelon

2 (2-inch) slices of fresh mozzarella cheese

3 large basil leaves

1 teaspoon pesto (or to taste)

Slice watermelon and mozzarella. Drizzle half of the pesto on the mozzarella. Place one slice of melon on a plate, top with cheese, a basil leaf and repeat. Drizzle the remaining ½ teaspoon of pesto (using mostly the oil on top) around the plate. Serve.

Optional: you can also drizzle this with good quality balsamic vinegar.

Lower Carb Amazing Red Sauce over Spaghetti Squash

The sauce is so delectable and rich, you will not miss the pasta. You will shed about 30 carbs per cup from this dish though.

If you’ve never tried it, spaghetti squash is a big yellow squash that you bake and when it’s done, you use a fork to shred the flesh and it turns into strings that resemble noodles. It’s a healthier, lower-carb option than past; a cup of spaghetti squash has less than 10 carbs compared to about 40 carbs in pasta.

My amazing red sauce was adapted from a recipe my dear friend Heather Landwer gave me a few years ago. I had my own red sauce recipe at the time, but it took about 5 hours to make and this one is just as good but takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes (most of that time is just simmering). It is an intense, thick red sauce and it pairs perfectly with spaghetti squash. I liked the combination so much, I will not use traditional pasta again with this dish.

Amazing Red Sauce over Spaghetti Squash

Serves 4

1 (16-ounce) package Jimmy Dean Sage or Hot sausage

1 large white onion

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste (note, this is the big size)

1 tomato paste can filled with water

1 (15-ounce) can diced or stewed tomatoes

1 large garlic clove, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 large spaghetti squash

Olive oil and salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds and strings in the cavity. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt on the flesh. Pierce the flesh with a knife in several places. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.

While the squash cooks, chop a large white onion. In a pot or pan with a tight lid, fry the sausage and onion together. When sausage is nearly cooked, add oregano, basil and sugar.

When it’s cooked through, drain the fat off the sausage and return the mixture to the pan. Add tomato paste, water, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Then reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and use a fork to shred the inside. Continue to shred until you have removed all the flesh away from the shell. Serve topped with red sauce.

Easy Acorn Squash Stuffed with Circle B Ranch Italian Sausage and Trio of Peppers

What a week. I had planned this for dinner Monday but didn’t get a chance to make it until lunch on Friday. This easy dish comes together in 20 minutes or less (that tells you how busy my week was when I couldn’t even fit this in).

I used sweet Italian sausage from Circle B Ranch, a small hog farm in Seymour, Mo., that is certified Humanely Raised and has great products. I’ve been to the farm and the hogs are healthy and roam freely.

For this dish, I simply microwaved the squash, sautéed all my other ingredients and then stuffed them into the cooked squash. I drizzled it all with 18-year-old balsamic vinegar. An excellent quality balsamic vinegar is a must in this dish which has a lot of sweet accents from the sausage and squash and the vinegar just pulls them all together.

Serves 2

1 acorn squash

1 Italian sausage links

1 small red onion

Half a red bell pepper

Half a green bell pepper

Half a yellow bell pepper

1 small garlic clove

Excellent quality aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Directions:

Cut acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Stab the flesh several times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper and place 1 teaspoon of butter or olive oil in the cavity of each half. Place in a microwave safe dish with 1/2 cup of water on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.

As that cooks, chop red onion, red, yellow and green bell peppers; and garlic.

In a nonstick pan, sauté the onion and sausage (remove the casing first) together until almost done. When the sausage is about a minute away from being cooked through, add the bell peppers and onions and cook 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

By now, the squash will be done. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and don’t put your hand in front of the steam.

Stuff filling into the cavity of each. Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Chicken Fattoush Flatbread

I love, love, love Fattoush, a Middle Eastern salad that explodes with flavor. I was first introduced to it at a Lebanese restaurant in Ghana. I lived in Ghana, in West Africa, for years and it has some incredible restaurants.

Fattoush is served with warm pita, usually crispy from the oven. If you have leftover pita from a party or pita that’s about to go stale, you should make Fattoush.   Fresh herbs, like parsley, mint, basil, are key to this salad. I pack a lot of parsley in mine and often use cilantro, too.  The vinaigrette is simple, lots of lemon and olive oil. If you love lemon, add the lemon zest, too.  I hit mine with a general dose of black pepper and garlic salt and load on the green onions.

My mouth is watering.

The concept of the warm pita was my inspiration for this flatbread. To transform the salad into a main course, I added rotisserie chicken and then piled it all atop of whole wheat flatbread. I made my own flatbread, but you could use Naan or pizza dough or pitas instead.

If you’re looking for a HEALTHY, delicious dinner, you’ve found it. It’s so light and flavorful. It’s the perfect summer dish.

fattoush

Chicken Fattoush Flatbread.

serves 2

1 cooked, crispy flatbread crust (I made my own whole wheat but it’s faster to buy one; my recipe follows)

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced Romaine lettuce

3 green onions, sliced

½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or mint

1 cup chopped cucumber (peeled or unpeeled, it’s up to you)

1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken

2/3 cup sliced grape tomatoes

Generous dose of garlic salt

Generous dose of black pepper to taste

Dressing

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Salt

For the dressing, whisk ingredients together. Salt to taste and set aside.

Bake flatbread according to directions. You want the salad to rest for 5-10 minutes before you add it to the flatbread  but you also want the flatbread to be warm, so read the instructions before you make the salad so you time it right.

For the salad:

Thinly slice the lettuce and green onions and place in a large bowl.

Chop the parsley, cilantro or mint, cucumber, chicken, slice tomatoes and add to bowl. Pour salad dressing over salad and add a lot of black pepper and garlic salt. Taste as you go so you don’t oversalt. Allow it to rest 5-10 minutes.

When pita is ready, top it with the salad and serve.

You can use a pizza, pita or flabtread crust or make your own. For this portions, you will need 3-4 whole wheat pitas or

Whole Wheat Flatbread Crust

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons active yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup lukewarm water

Stir ingredients together in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the dough, cover the bowl with a clean towel and place on the oven to rise for 6 hours. Turn the oven on to 200 degrees or more to help it rise.

When it’s time to cook, preheat oven to 450 and place baking sheet in the oven to heat.

Split the dough in half. Coat your hands with flour and work the dough into a ball (you may need more flour). Sprinkle corn meal and flour on a flat surface. Start working the dough in your hands, pinching it to spread it out. Then place on the floured surface and spread with your fingers until you have a piece of flatbread.

When oven is ready, remove the baking sheet, sprinkle it with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking, and bake 10-13 minutes, until crisp.

Top with fattoush and serve immediately.

Hot Wing Flatbread

I declare this flatbread week! Every day this week I am posting a delicious flatbread, most of them will use rotisserie chicken and be incredibly easy recipes.

This is my Hot Wing Flatbread, which was inspired by hot wings. I loved wings in college, but I can’t touch them now. If I did, I’d be up all night with heartburn. So I decided to take the flavors behind the wing and transform it into a flatbread and the results were FABULOUS.

I spread Ranch dressing on a prebaked crust, topped it with rotisserie chicken that was tossed in hot wing sauce, added celery and blue cheese crumbles. It’s delightful and didn’t give me any heartburn.

This is actually served cool, so it’s excellent on a hot summer day.

I made my own crust. My recipe is simple- it contains flour, salt, yeast and water—but it needs six hours to rise so it’s not something that can be prepared at the last minute.

If you want to simplify this recipe, just use Stonefire Tandoori Baked Original Naan which makes the perfect crust. When you bake it, it’s crisp on the outside but still slightly chewy on the inside.

I started crafting flatbreads this weekend and my inspiration was endless, so I decided to post one recipe a day here.

I hope you enjoy flatbread week.

Hot Wing Flatbread

Makes 1 flatbread

1 precooked flatbread

1/3 cup Ranch dressing

2/3 cup chopped rotisserie chicken

2 -3 tablespoons Ott’s Wing Sauce or your favorite hot wing sauce

2 small stalks of celery, minced

3 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola

I recommend using the breast meat for this recipe. Pull off the chicken breast and finely chop it. Then toss it in the wing sauce and stir to coat the chicken.

Mince two small celery stalks.

Next, spread Ranch dressing on a precooked flatbread. Top with the chicken. Sprinkle with celery and Gorgonzola and serve.

flatbread.buf

Juliana’s Simple Flatbread Crust

1 1/2 cups bread flour, more for dusting

1 1/2 teaspoons active yeast

1 teaspoon salt

¾ to 1 cup lukewarm water

Cornmeal

Olive oil

Stir together flour, yeast and salt. Then add warm water, stir, and then use your hand to gather dough into a ball. Drizzle olive oil over the dough, cover the bowl with a clean towel and place on the oven to rise for 6 hours. Turn the oven on to 200 degrees to help it rise.

When it’s time to cook, preheat oven to 450 and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat.

Split the dough in half. Coat your hands with flour and work the dough into a ball (you may need more flour). Start working the dough in your hands, pinching it to spread it out in your hands. Sprinkle corn meal and flour on a flat surface. Then put the dough down and continue to stretch it until you have a piece of flatbread.

When oven is preheated, remove the baking sheet, sprinkle it with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking, and bake the flatbread for 10-13 minutes.

Chicken, Corn, Avocado, Black Bean Salad in Chipotle Dressing

It’s going to be a scorcher today, so cool off with this delicious, filling salad.

Southwest flavors come together beautifully in this simple meal.  For the dressing, you mix chipotle salsa, mayonnaise and fresh lime juice. Then top romaine lettuce with chopped chicken, fresh corn, black beans, avocado and tomato. Serve it with tortilla chips; shredded cheese and cilantro are optional but add a lot to this salad.

Bell peppers would be a nice addition, too.

It’s that easy. Enjoy

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Chicken, Corn, Avocado, Black Bean Salad in Chipotle Dressing

Serves 2

1 head of Romaine lettuce

1 ear of corn

1 ¼ cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast

1/3 cup black beans, drained

1 avocado

2 campari tomatoes

1/3 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup Pace Southwest Chipotle Salsa

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Tortilla chips

Shredded cheese to garnish (optional)

Cilantro (optional)

Place corn in its husk in the microwave and cook for 3 ½ minutes. Remove and when it’s cool enough to handle, shuck it and slice corn off the cob. Set aside.

Tear romaine into pieces and divide between two bowls.

Pull chicken breast off chicken and discard skin. Chop and sprinkle over salad.

Drain your black beans and divide between the salads.

Slice avocado in half and cut each half into slices and place half an avocado on each salad.

Chop tomatoes and divide between the salads. Sprinkle corn over salads.

For the dressing, whisk together mayonnaise, salsa and lime juice.  Drizzle over salads. Garnish each plate or bowl with tortilla chips. If desired, sprinkle with cheese and fresh cilantro. Serve.

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Vivilore in Independence, Missouri has it all. It’s a must eat and see

It’s not every day that you’ll find a fine art gallery, restaurant, bar, gorgeous courtyard and stunning antiques in one location.

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But at Vivilore in Independence, Mo., you’ll find all of that, delicious food, and an interesting dose of history.

Located in the Englewood art district, this restaurant is refreshingly unusual.

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Independence is just outside Kansas City, so on our last trip to K.C., we made a quick detour to the restaurant which was voted best patio in Kansas City.

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I was not disappointed. In fact, I was stunned at how beautiful it was.

Vivalore is owned by brother and sister by Whit Ross and Cindy Foster, two Independence natives who spent two years renovating this building.

They had no experience in the restaurant industry when they decided to open Vivilore. He had worked in catering; she was a pilot for 23 years.

They bought the historic brick building in 2010 and opened in 2012. They expected renovations to take six months, but it was two solid years because it was an historic building.  The building used to be the Sermon-Anderson interior design/antique business.  Before it closed, the business partners provided window treatments for Harry Truman’s home. One of the owner’s fathers was a close friend of Truman.

The building is 7,000 square feet and started as a private house built in the 1920s.

“It was a rather small house, but they started adding on the back, the front, they raised the roof, made it into a rather large house. In 1951, they built the front part of Vivilore which is the street side,” said Foster.

Because of the history of the building and its expansions, the restaurant feels like a home, but an elegant one. There are magnificent murals on the wall; antique plates; oil paintings; chandeliers, stained glass windows.

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Ross has a flare for interior design, gardening and arts and he is responsible for the elegant table settings, white linens, collection of vases and overall theme of the restaurant.

Art and antiques adorn the walls and all the art is for sale, said Foster.

As beautiful as the interior was, we chose to sit outside the courtyard.

Ross and his mother tend to the gardens daily and their hard work shows. This courtyard is lush and feels like a spa escape: there are statues, various annuals, shrubs, birch trees, a fountain, and a large Weeping Willow tree provides shade. It was a colorful backdrop to an excellent meal.

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My husband and I like to sample so we ordered two appetizers, one main course and one dessert, all to share.

We started with the Beef Tenderloin Tips ($14), which was Angus beef with peppers and onions and a garlic-sherry demi-glaze. These were the most tender beef skewers I’ve ever had. The meat melted in my mouth. We toyed with the idea of ordering a second, but we decided against it as we had dinner plans, too.

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Next, we had the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta ($12) with pickled onions, herbed cream cheese, capers and goat cheese. It was so refreshing on a hot day and the goat cheese elevated a traditional salmon dish. This is one of the best sellers, Foster said.

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The Lobster Roll $14 was our main course and very good, but I used to live on the East Coast so I don’t think it quite compared to some of those but I am a tough critic when it comes to those rolls.

We had a flourless chocolate cake for dessert that was rich, intense and incredible.

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We didn’t stop into the art gallery, but it’s housed upstairs in the restaurant. Foster said they didn’t plan to open an art gallery initially, but five years ago this are became designated as an arts district so they opened a gallery upstairs with its own curator.

Vivilore is a wonderful experience and well worth the quick detour from Kansas City.

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Want to go?

Vivilore, 10815 E. Winner Road, Independence, Mo. Hours: 11a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday – Saturday. For reservations call: 816-836-2222. Online: http://www.vivilore.com/