Greek Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes and Feta

20 May


Simplicity is the name of the game on weeknights. Something healthy, satisfying and not boring is something I’m always looking for. And simple surely doesn’t have to equate to boring.

Sarah Foster’s recipe for Greek Chicken with Olives Tomatoes and Feta fit the bill for this weeks meal. It’s easy enough to whip together on a Monday after work and sturdy enough to reheat for Tuesday night dinner too.

Make sure to utilize fresh summer tomatoes and herbs. It’ll make a big difference.

Greek Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives and Feta

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1½ pounds)
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 tomatoes (on-the-vine or plum), diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup pitted Greek olives, chopped
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Place chicken in a shallow dish to marinate. Make marinade by combining lemon zest and juice, wine, and oregano with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over chicken and rub into all sides. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Heat olive oil and butter in large skillet on medium-high until butter melts. Remove chicken from marinade and place in skillet. Reserve the marinade. Cook chicken, turning once, for 4 to 5 minutes a side, until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Add onion and tomatoes to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until onion is soft and tomatoes soften and release liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one minute more, stirring constantly. Add reserved marinade and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 3 minutes, until reduced slightly. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the sauce. Add the olives and basil, simmer on low for 6 to 8 more minutes, until cooked through.

Transfer chicken to plates, spoon sauce over each breast. Garnish with the feta and additional basil and oregano. Serve immediately.

Summer #soGSO Breakfasts

18 May


My weekend was full of adventure. Dinner with my gala team at the new 1618 Downtown, a train ride to Durham for clam pizza, beers and a quick view of the Bulls, a relaxing Sunday with the special treat of a dinner at the new Crafted Art of Street Food plus a walk home on the Downtown Greenway to pick sweet ripe strawberries at the Tradition Cornerstone. Within a three mile radius there are expected and unexpected treats to explore and discover by foot. Breweries, art, delicious foods… my kind of urban foraging. So Greensboro.

My Downtown Greenway strawberries were the perfect way to start my Monday. I piled them on top of Greek yogurt, local honey and crunchy chia seeds. I enjoyed breakfast and home-brewed iced coffee early in this morning while watering my garden. I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as I did!


Spring Scallop Pappardelle

15 May



Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon with my friend Matt traveling from the Italian market to The Fresh Market picking up ingredients that spoke to us. Great prosciutto and locatelli cheese at Giacamos, the most beautifully packaged Cipriani pappardelle pasta, scallops, asparagus at The Fresh Market and fresh basil from the local shared garden. With no specific direction in mind, we put together a splendid dish that was enjoyed in my completed backyard garden. With my climbing rose bush in full bloom and a reflective glass of rose wine, it wasn’t too bad of a Sunday supper.

I encourage a similar adventure and outdoor meal this weekend.

Spring Scallop Pappardelle

  • 1 tablespoon each, butter and olive oil
  • 8 scallops
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/8 pound prosciutto, chopped
  • grated Parmesan or locatelli cheese
  • 1/2 pound  Pappardelle pasta
  • fresh basil

In a large skillet, melt olive oil and butter on medium high heat. Meanwhile, start a large pot of salted water for boiling.

Dry the scallops, season with salt and pepper, and sear the scallops on each side until brown. Remove the scallops (they may not be fully cooked through depending on their size) and set aside. Lower the temperature to medium. Add asparagus, garlic and shallot. Saute until tender and fragrant.

While the pasta is cooking, return the scallops back to the skillet with asparagus mixture. Saute together until scallops are cooked through. When the pasta is cooked through, transfer it directly from boiling water to the skillet. Taste for seasoning – you may want to add a sprinkle of salt, pepper or even more butter (our secret).

Add fresh basil, prosciutto and cheese. Stir together. Serve hot!

Grilled Chicken Chopped Thai Salad

12 May





This weekend I convinced myself (with much encouragement from my mother) to complete the gaps in my lawn with sod. I don’t recommend this act solo, however, it comes with much self accomplishment once complete (my mom was right, as always). So, when the lawn was filled with lush grass around my new brick walkway, I decided it was only appropriate for have friends over for a dinner in the garden. I bragged about the dirty duty until the rain came… crushing the dream of my garden party. Instead, we enjoyed this super easy Grilled Chicken Chopped Thai Salad with a nice bottle of rose wine inside listening to the rain fall….nourishing my new sod. Winston, my pup, managed to say clean during all the sandy sod moving and muddy rain fall.

This salad is a winner. A nice spicy peanut and soy dressing evenly coating juicy grilled chicken and a variety of fresh crunchy vegetables. I used The Fresh Market’s Thai Curry Cashews for an extra sweet and savory crunch. This salad has enough substance for a dinner party but would be perfect for a lunch gathering too.


Grilled Chicken Chopped Thai Salad


  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced


  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 4 cups napa cabbage, choppers
  • 2 medium carrots, halved crosswise
  • 1 cup edamame, cooked
  • 1 cup red bellpepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ⅓ cup roasted cashews, chopped (I used The Fresh Market Thai Curry Cashews – also admiring their new Siracha 5 O’Clock Crunch Mix)

Peanut-Chili Vinaigrette

  • 2 tsp. peanut butter (creamy)
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (use less or more per taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, pressed
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon siracha (optional for spice)

Grilled Chicken: Marinate the check for 8 to 12 hours in marinade mix.

Peanut-Chili Vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Salad: In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Drizzle with vinaigrette and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning to taste. Enjoy!

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Satay Sauce

7 May


Ina’s Grilled Lemon Chicken with Satay Sauce is one of my favorite Spring to Summer recipes. I once made it for a (literal) boat load of water skiers on Smith Mountain Lake and I’m confident that I’ve never seen food disappear so quickly. There is something about the tangy lemon chicken with sweet and savory peanut sauce. It’s just different enough to make folks wonder what exactly is in it.

Put this on your standby list. It’s a winner, as most Ina recipes are.

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Satay Sauce, Ina Garten 

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Heat a charcoal grill. Grill the chicken breasts for 10 minutes on each side, until just cooked through.

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and use as a dip for Grilled Lemon Chicken.


Cinco de Mayo Mexican Steak Salad

5 May



Last night I celebrated Cinco de Mayo a bit early with this healthier twist on a Mexican dish. A variety of Spring market veggies and lettuces dressed in a lighter Greek yogurt based Green Goddess Dressing with sharp cheese and a spice rubbed grilled steak. Margaret and I toyed with using “organic dorrito nacho chips” as croutons but thought that they didn’t add much to the aesthetics of the presentation. Add a margarita to the mix and you’ll be set for tonight’s festivities!

Mexican Steak Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1 NY Strip steak
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1 handful grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • 4 radishes, sliced

Mix together cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne pepper. Rub all over the NY Strip steak. Grill to your desired temperature. Allow to rest and then slice thin.

Meanwhile, prepare the salad with a variety of colorful spring lettuces and fresh veggies. Mix together with Mexican Green Goddess Dressing. Top with cheese and sliced steak.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

  • 2/3 cup Greek non-fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
  • ½ jalapeno, roughly chopped, or a drizzle of hot sauce
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until completely smooth. The dressing can be kept in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.

They go together like good ham and gruyere cheese; Croque Monsieur

4 May

JP wedding


This weekend I was l honored to witness and celebrate the marriage of my very close friend’s Jamey and Phil. After 15 years of sharing their lives together, it couldn’t have been more special. With over a hundred friends and family of the couple, we celebrated over many drinks and delicious food at the Proximity Hotel. And, a lotta dancing. By the look of the photos, we had a blast. It was just as everyone could expect – a party that no one would forget! Thanks to J&P for including me in so many special moments throughout the years and this very special occasion.

In honor of things that go together just perfectly, I present the most amazing sandwich – the Croque Monsieur. Jamey and Phil go together like good ham and gruyere cheese…over buttery toast and bechamel sauce. Classic, luxurious and timeless!

I enjoyed this recipe with my mom and her BFF Debbie a couple weeks ago for Sunday supper. Enjoy with a light salad and good crisp white wine.

Croque Monsieur

Makes 4 servings

For the Bechamel, melt:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4th Cup all purpose flour
Whisk in:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Sandwiches
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 slices artisan-style white bread
  • 8 slices good cooked ham
  • 4 oz Shredded Gruyere (about 2 cups)
  • Chopped parsley
Preheat broiler to high with rack 6 inches from the element.
For the Bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan, heat until foamy, whisk in flour and cook roux 1 minute.
Whisk in milk, combine completely, Whisk in Dijon and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook until slightly thickened.
For the sandwiches, spread butter on both sides of bread and toast on both sides.
Cover one side of the bread slices with 2 Tbsp bechamel, ham, and Gruyere cheese.
Broil until brown and bubbly! Garnish with parsley!!!!

Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

30 Apr



I love twice-baked potatoes as a make-ahead item for parties. I could never host a Monday night dinner party without some advance preparation. And, you can make all kinds of twists with twice baked potatoes – spring pea, bacon, blue cheese, you name it!  Make everything in ahead and heat them at 350 until warm. Easy, as, that!


Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes


  • 2 medium baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 cups vertically sliced yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • blue cheese crumbles


Pierce potatoes with a fork; arrange on paper towels in microwave oven. Microwave at high 10 minutes or until done, rearranging potatoes after 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sugar; sauté until browned (be patient, this will take a long time).

Cut each potato in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Combine potato pulp, onions, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Spoon potato mixture evenly into shells. Top with cheese. Return potatoes to the oven and broil until toasted!


Sugar Snap Pea Salad

29 Apr



This salad is so delightful. Crunchy sugar snap peas and radishes with silky and salt feta cheese with a tangy lemon dressing and fresh mint. Hello Springtime! It’s perfect for a Spring dinner or picnic lunch. Dig in!

Sugar Snap Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds sugar snap peas, trimmed, stringed
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint

Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Cook peas in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer to bowl with ice water to cool. Drain peas; transfer to a kitchen towel-lined baking sheet to dry. Whisk oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, vinegar in a small bowl. Toss peas, radishes, and cheese in a large bowl.  Add dressing to salad and toss to coat. Season salad with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with mint.

Peanut Butter Brownies

28 Apr


Last night I had the pleasure of hosting the planning committee of the 2015 Guilford Green Foundation Gala. After almost a year of planning, the Gala committee became a little like family. Constant text messages, jokes, witty (and snarky) banter plus a whole lotta work. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the results of our efforts. And, relieved that it’s behind us.

In honor of our hard work, we all gathered on Mendenhall for a no-business dinner. I made a spread of easy make-ahead dishes for an easy Monday night dinner party. I’ll share the recipes this week and will kick off the series with these most delicious Peanut Butter Brownies from Smitten Kitchen. Like the gala, they are time intensive but totally rewarding. Here is the recipe and a little recap video with the entire team!

Peanut Butter Brownies from Smitten Kitchen 
Adapted from Butterwood Desserts, West Falls, New York via Gourmet, October 2007

Makes 32 brownies, more or less, depending on how you cut them

For brownies
2 sticks (1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) sugar
1 cup (255 grams) creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces or 255 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon table salt, see note**

For ganache
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces or 255 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, softened

Make brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.

Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer sped to low, then mix in flour until just combined.

Mix in chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing top. (It will be thick, almost like cookie batter.)

Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make ganache: Put chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute.

Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.

Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.

Brownies keep in one layer in an airtight container three days, and we hope much longer if hidden waaay in the back of the freezer.



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