Monthly Archives: June, 2012

Garlic Basil Chicken with Caprese Salad

I always find it so amusing seeing my children eating (and loving) caprese salad when I didn’t even try it until I was in my late 20’s.  Both my little guys loved it!  I thought that the chicken alone in this meal was a bit light on flavor but when topped with the caprese salad, especially pouring the additional dressing over the top, the flavor was great!  I also think that the caprese salad could easily stand alone without the chicken as a great summer salad.

Garlic Basil Chicken with Caprese Salad

Recipe adapted from

Chicken Marinade:
1/4  c. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt/pepper to taste
4 chicken breasts

Caprese Salad:
1 1/2 c. red grape tomatoes, sliced
1/2 c. fresh mozzarella, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt/pepper to taste


In a freezer bag, place chicken marinade ingredients and chicken.  Seal and squish around to mix well.  Either freeze at this point and thaw in the fridge before cooking or place in the fridge and marinate for 4-24 hours.

Begin preparing caprese salad about 20-30 minutes prior to cooking the chicken.  Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt/pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.  Add mozzarella and tomatoes and allow to sit until just prior to serving.  Add basil in at time of serving so it stays a vivid green.

Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade.  Grill chicken over medium heat for about 6 minutes per side until no longer pink and cooked through.

Top chicken with a large scoop of carpese salad (don’t forget to pour a little of the dressing over it too!).  Enjoy!

Husband Rating:  9 out of 10

Food for Thought: Having leftovers of this meal is a great thing.  The leftover chicken breasts can be sliced and then grilled into a delicious chicken mozzarella tomato sandwich with basil.  Yummy!


Quinoa with Chicken and Black Beans

My friend, Katie G., led me to this recipe.  It was an easy, one-dish meal that everyone in the house seemed to like.  I made a few adjustments to the original recipe to adapt it to our family’s taste preferences and I will definitely be making this again!

Quinoa with Chicken and Black Beans

Recipe adapted from

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. chopped red onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 c. quinoa, rinsed
2 c. chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
salt/pepper to taste
1 tsp. cumin
pinch cayenne
1 can black beans, rinsed


In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until no longer pink and juices run clear.  (about 5 minutes per side).

Remove chicken, cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat remaining olive oil an add the onion, garlic, and red pepper.  Saute over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until veggies are soft.  Add the quinoa and saute for another 3 minutes.

Pour chicken broth over quinoa and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed.  Add remaining ingredients, stirring until hot through and serve immediately.

Husband Rating: 5 out of 10

Food for Thought: This is an easy meal to make vegetarian by simply omitting the chicken and adding additional black beans.  It would also make a nice side dish to compliment any mexican dish.

Summer Veggie Baked Pasta

This was a delicious dish packed with veggies.  Everyone in the house enjoyed it!  It’s another way to use all the good veggies of summer.

Summer Veggie Baked Pasta

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine.

6 ounces multi-colored rotini
1 package Sweet Italian Sausage, sliced (I got it from Trader Joe’s)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large zucchini, chopped
2 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
4 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
cooking spray


Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions, omitting fat and salt.  Drain and set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add oil.  Add zucchini, squash, and onion and saute for 5 minutes.  Add sausage, tomatoes, and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add pasta, 1 c. shredded mozzarella, basil, oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.

Stir into pasta mixture.  Spoon pasta into a 2 quart casserole prepared with cooking spray.

Top with remaining shredded cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Husband Rating: Didn’t get one… that seems to be happening more often!  I will work on hounding him for his thoughts!  🙂

Food For Thought: This would also be delicious as a meatless dish or a side dish (if you took out the sausage).  I liked that it was a full balanced meal (minus fruit) without having to make multiple things!

Burgers on the Grill… Nothing Fancy!

Tonight we did my favorite, no frills grilling meal – cheese burgers with grilled potatoes on the side.  My recipe is definitely nothing fancy and probably the basic one everyone uses but we all love it.  Even the boys seemed to devour their meal down.  I served the burgers and potatoes with steamed green beans on the side.  Yay for summer meals!

Basic Burger Recipe

1 1/3 lb. ground beef (we used organic)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. minced yellow onion
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Burger Extras:
sharp cheddar cheese


To make the burgers, simply combine all the burger ingredients and mash together with your hands.  Divide into four balls and flatten into patties.

Heat the grill to medium-high heat.

Grill burgers 5 minutes a side until medium or medium well done.  Flip only once.  About 1-2 minutes before removing from the grill, top with a slice of cheese.
I served the burgers on buns with avocado, grilled onions (see below), and other various condiments.

Grilled Potatoes and Onions

4-6 medium red potatoes
1 yellow onion
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt/Pepper to taste

Wash potatoes and slice thinly.  Soak potatoes in a bowl of cold water for 20-30 minutes prior to grilling.  Remove potatoes from water and dry.  While soaking potatoes, slice onion thinly.

Place  potatoes and onion slices in a ziploc baggie and add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Zip bag shut carefully (making sure it is shut all the way or you will have it all over your floor when you shake it like I did a few nights ago!).  Shake the bag until all is well coated.

Over medium high heat, place potatoes and onions on a grill pan.  Do not disturb for 10-15 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until potatoes are tender and starting to char and carmelize.

If you don’t have a grilling pan, simply wrap the potatoes and onions in tin foil and place on the grill.  Flip foil packet once after 15 minutes and continue cooking another 15 minutes.  Remove from grill and carefully open packet to remove potatoes. 

Hint: If you like the crispy, darkened potatoes, divide them into smaller foil packets.

Husband Rating: 6 out of 10

Food for Thought:  The burgers are easy to make ahead of time and keep in the freezer.  To do this, simply make the patties and then flash freeze on wax paper on a plate or flat surface for about 2 hours before transferring to a freezer bag.  When you are ready to eat, simply take straight from the freezer and grill!  Yummy!

Our Growing Paynes

A journey about cooking, traveling, gardening, and crafting.

Pastor Dale Jenkins

Encouragement, Faith, and Hope for the Journey

Scissortail SILK | Becky Thompson

Encouragement for Today >>> Hope for Tomorrow

Clare Smith

Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"

Eat the cookie!

before the cookie eats you...

Life Shared and Loved

A blog written by Krysta Kemp on all areas of life loved.

Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"

Spiritual Table

One girl's quest to learn why food is a matter of faith.

oil-istas - The oil-istas Blog

Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"

Bee Baby Blog

Real food, baby stuff and awesomeness

Sugar-Free Mom

Just another site

Keeper of the Home

Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"

Proverbs and Pacifiers

Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"

The Better Mom

Growing Better Together

Organizing Made Fun

Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"

Simple Life Mom

Natural Beauty and Homemade Everything

I'm an Organizing Junkie

Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"


Or, a way to answer the question, "What's for dinner?"