Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad

Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad

Watermelon on a salad like what is going on.

I’ve had this idea written up on my nice little kitchen chalkboard for at least three weeks now. The name “Watermelon Chicken Salad” sat there happily on the board right next to all my other random ideas, most of which have since gotten scratched off and erased and replaced with something new because I actually made them and posted them. For whatever reason, this little guy lingered. Another week would pass with no sign of a watermelon chicken salad, but for whatever reason when I’d clean off my board for the week, I really didn’t want to erase the idea just yet. I had this premonition of great things to come.

Speaking of great things.

In the three weeks that “Watermelon Chicken Salad” has been staring me down from the chalkboard, I’ve bought 8 million watermelons with very good intentions, thinking that each of them would be the one I’d use to make some kind of inspired and beautiful salad. But then I discovered this drink instead and every single piece of watermelon since has been doomed for the blender. Or my mouth. Today I ate it for breakfast, which is so weird, but actually not as weird as watermelon in a salad.

And I have a really important question. Why is watermelon like candy? It’s so incredibly good. Juicy, bright, sweet, red… it’s basically large 

 

cubes of all-natural Jolly Ranchers. Have you ever frozen watermelon cubes? <— That. You’re welcome.

So I got a really great bottle of balsamic and starting thinking about salads, and BAM. The inspiration for this salad finally hit and wowzzer. The long wait to actually make this combo happen was totally worth it. Here she is, in all her blue cheese crumbled, rainbow colored, crunchy almond, sweet balsamic glazed glory.

Pinky promise, as I am writing this, I can hear Bjork’s fork + plate clinking together at record speed as he is devouring this in the next room.

The salty blue cheese to me was the thing that tied it all together. You have the sweetness of the watermelon and the balsamic glaze, the savory of the seasoned chicken, the crunch of the almonds, the freshness of the spinach, and then that blue cheese. Oh, the salty, creamy tang that makes my heart go wild. I am making a weird “I LOVE IT” face right now as I’m writing this because I don’t even really know how to describe what I’m trying to say – you get it, though, right? Through computer food osmosis, are we kind of experiencing it together?

Color, crunch, and yum. I want that to be the tagline of my life.

Pretty salad, come to mama.

DESCRIPTION

This Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad has blue cheese, watermelon, almonds, herbed chicken, and a balsamic glaze. Simple and fresh.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 teaspoons all purpose seasoning (I used a spice mix I got at a specialty food store)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups baby spinach or greens
  • 2 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup sliced or crushed almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the balsamic vinegar is significantly reduced and starting to become syrupy.
  2. Meanwhile, turn a grill or nonstick skillet to high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning on both sides and drizzle with the olive oil. Transfer to the hot grill and cook until no longer pink on the inside and nicely browned on the outside. Let rest for 5 minutes; cut into small cubes.
  3. Layer the spinach with the chicken, watermelon, blue cheese, almonds, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste. Top with additional olive oil if desired.

Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad
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Servings Prep Time
4 10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Servings Prep Time
4 10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Servings Prep Time
4 10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Ingredients
Servings:
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Strawberries & Cream Pavlovas

What is a Pavlova?  It’s a sweet cloud of deliciousness!  Actually it’s a meringue based dessert that’s named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.  It’s lightly crispy on the outside and light and marshmallowy on the inside.  It’s usually served topped with fruit and cream.

Pavlovas can be a cake like dessert or they can be individual shells filled with cream that’s topped with fresh or preserved fruits.  I love meringues and Pavlovas are one of my favorites.  It’s one of the desserts I always choose when we’re on a cruise.

Most folks think Pavlovas are for company desserts, yes, they’re that impressive.  But really Pavlovas a pretty easy to make.  I usually make them after I’ve made my grandmother’s flan which uses up a lot of egg yolks.  Pavlovas handily use the remaining egg whites.  Other than egg whites all you need is sugar, preferably caster or baker’s sugar (it’s super fine sugar that is between regular sugar and powdered sugar), cream or tartar, cornstarch, and vanilla.  You probably have all those things already.  (If you don’t have caster sugar you can either pick some up at the grocery store’s baking aisle or place regular granulated sugar in your blender and pulse until the crystals turn into a fine grains, sort of like sand, but not powdery.)

You’ll also want to use your standing mixer with a whisk attachment.  You can also use a hand held mixer.  You’ll need parchment paper to line your baking sheets, and a piping tip and bag if you have one.  Otherwise you can spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper for baking.

For my Strawberries and Cream Pavlovas I make individual shells that I fill with the mascarpone cream I make and top with Riesling Marinated Strawberries.  Click here for the Riesling Marinated Strawberries recipe!

Here’s  how to make these delicious Pavlovas.  Your family and friends will be impressed!

Ingredients:

Meringue:

4 Egg Whites

1 Cup Caster Sugar

1/2 Tsp. Cream of Tartar

1 1/2 Tsp. Cornstarch

2 Tsp. Vanilla

Cream Filling:

8 Oz. Container of Mascarpone Cheese

1 Cup Cold Heavy Whipping Cream

1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 320 degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.

Gradually add caster sugar and cream of tartar.  Continue beating at high speed.

Add cornstarch and vanilla.  Beat until stiff peaks form.

Pipe or spoon meringue on to the parchment paper. If piping start with a small circle for the base then pipe coils of meringue on top of it.  If spooning meringue drop them on the sheet and use the back of the spoon to make a shallow indentation in the  middle.  (I usually drop meringue Kisses with any leftover meringue.  I use them to top the strawberries)

Place on sheet in the oven and IMMEDIATELY lower temperature to 245 degrees.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Lower temperature to 200 degrees and back until the meringue is dry to the touch.  Touch carefully as they are fragile.

Turn off the oven and open door halfway.  Leave meringues inside to cool down to prevent them from cracking.

Meanwhile whip mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

When meringues are cooled fill the wells of each meringue with cold cream mixture.  Top with Riesling Marinated Strawberries.  If you have a meringue kiss place one on top to decorate the pavlova, you can also add a fresh mint leaf if you like.

Serve immediately!


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Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifle

Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifle

Looking for something special for your Father’s Day dessert?  Try these Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifles.

In case you are wondering exactly what a Trifle is well it’s a British dessert that’s made with layers of sponge cake, custard, fruit, and cream.  In other words it’s very similar to a parfait meaning that it’s layers of cake, fruit, and cream.

Trifles can be single serve like your parfaits or they can be done in a large trifle bowl.  Either way they look elegant and of course are delicious.  They really impress your friends and family!

I prefer individual trifles specially you’ve your serving it to company.  Packaged in clear individual cups, by the way you can use clear plastic cups for large dinner parties, they look very impressive.

Although it looks impressive they are pretty simple to make.  Seriously you can use store bought cake, berries, and whipped cream!  But I prefer to use my homemade Madelienes, homemade Mascarpone Cream (recipe below), Riesling Marinated Strawberries, topped with whipped cream (homemade or store bought).  All my ingredients, except homemade whipped cream, can be made in advance so all you have to do just before serving is to put everything together.

My Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifles are a family favorite.  It’s also a go to when we have dinner guests over, everyone loves them!  But before you can put them together gather your ingredients and put it all together just before serving, you don’t want the cake part too soggy.

Ingredients:

Lady Fingers, Madelienes (Click here for my recipe), Sponge Cake, or Pound Cake – you can use any of these cakes; store bought or home made.

Mascarpone Cream (recipe below)

Riesling Marinated Strawberries (Click here for my recipe)

Whipped Cream (homemade or store bought)

Fresh Mint Leaf for garnish if you want

Directions:

Cut Lady Fingers or Madelienes in halves width wise or if using cakes cut them into cubes.

Place 2-3 pieces of the cake you are using into a wine glass or clear plastic tumbler.

Place a Tablespoon of Mascarpone Cream on top of the cake.

Spoon about a Tablespoon of Marinated Strawberries over the cream, make sure you spoon enough of the liquid so that it gets to the cake at the bottom.

Repeat with another each layer of cake, Mascarpone Cream, and Marinated Strawberries.

Top with whipped cream, place one or two slices of Marinated strawberries or a slice of Lady Finger or Madeliene on top of whipped cream.

Drizzle with some of the liquid from the strawberry marinade.  Add a mint leaf if desired for garnish.

Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Mascarpone Chease

1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1/4 Cup Sugar

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Whip until soft peaks form.

Refrigerate  until ready to use.

Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifle
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Riesling Wine Marinated Strawberries

Riesling Wine Marinated Strawberries

Looking for something to up your desserts?  These Riesling Wine Marinated Strawberries are just the thing!  Not only are they delicious but they’ll make even a store bought frozen pound cake look gourmet.  It adds sophistication to a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream too.  Seriously, these strawberries will make just about any dessert look like you spent all day in the kitchen.

Summer is strawberry season so you’ll have no problem finding cartons of strawberries at very reasonable prices.  I make these strawberries many time every summer.  I store them in my fridge and use them to spruce up desserts.  A batch will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days; and the longer the berries are steeped in the wine marinade the tastier they’ll be.  But do toss them out if the berries start to look brown and wrinkled, that is if you can keep them long enough for that to happen.

The best part of making these strawberries is that it is so easy!  So make a batch today!

Ingredients:

1 Basket of Fresh Ripe Strawberries – cleaned, hulled, and sliced

2 Cups Riesling Wine

2 Cups Sugar

1 Vanilla bean

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Directions:

Place wine and sugar into a saucepan.

Slit vanilla bean lengthwise and scrap some of the inside into the wine mixture then place the bean in the pot.

Bring pot to boil then lower heat.

Simmer the wine mixture in the pot until the liquid is reduced by 1/3.  Syrup will be thin not thick.

Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean.  You can save the bean to use later for something else.

Let syrup cool to room temperature.

Place sliced strawberries into your container, I use a Mason Jar, then pour syrup into the jar.

Let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using to top desserts.  Marinated strawberries will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Use these Riesling Wine Marinated Strawberries to top ice cream, lady fingers, pound cake, sponge cake or you favorite dessert.  Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a mint leaf and you’ve got a sophisticated looking dessert.

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Riesling Wine Marinated Strawberries
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Best-Ever Gazpacho

Best-Ever Gazpacho

The sad truth is that, for most of the year at least, tomatoes are terrible. But when late summer rolls around, the tomatoes turn juicy and sweet, and then we can’t get enough of them. When we’re not busy scarfing them down in caprese salad form, we love them in this classic summer soup. Since tomatoes have varying amounts of sweetness and acidity, feel free to adjust the vinegar amount to taste.

Made it? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!

YIELDS:
SERVINGS
PREP TIME:

HOURS 15 MINS

TOTAL TIME:
0 HOURS 25 MINS

INGREDIENTS

 
2 lb. tomatoes, quartered
2 Persian cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp.  red wine or sherry vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

Kosher saltFreshly ground black pepper

2 slices country bread, cubed
2 tbsp. thinly sliced basil

DIRECTIONS

 

  1. Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and water in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, then add olive oil and blend to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar if needed. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add cubed bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is golden and crisp. Remove from heat, season with salt, and let cool.
  3. To serve, divide soup among bowls and top with basil, croutons, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Best-Ever Gazpacho
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Servings Prep Time
3 15 MINS
Cook Time
25 MINS
Servings Prep Time
3 15 MINS
Cook Time
25 MINS
Best-Ever Gazpacho
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Servings Prep Time
3 15 MINS
Cook Time
25 MINS
Servings Prep Time
3 15 MINS
Cook Time
25 MINS
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Madeleines

Madeleines

Madeleines are those dainty little shell shaped cakes from the Lorraine Region of Northeast France.  They get their distinctive shell shape from the specialty pans (Madeleine Pans) they are baked in.

These buttery French cakes are loved at our house.  My grandkids love to snack on them just the way they are.  But you can dust them with powder sugar or dip them in melted chocolate if you want.  I also use them in parfaits and trifles.  They are truly very versatile.

I love the shell shape, I feel that they add an elegant touch to tea parties or any dessert.  But if you don’t have a madeleine pan don’t worry.  You don’t have to rush out and buy one!  You can bake your madeleines in mini muffin pans, they’ll look and taste just as good!

As yummy as they are you’d think they’d be difficult to make, but they’re not.  Basic Madeleines require just 5 ingredients which you probably already have at home.  You can whip up a few dozen in less than an hour.  They’re so delicious and impressive that your friends and family will think you spent the day baking them!

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Madeleines

Ingredients:

4 Eggs

1 Cup Sugar

2 Tsp. Vanilla

1/2 Tsp. salt

2 Cups Flour

1 1/4 cup melted butter

Powder sugar or chocolate melts for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In your stand up mixer (or use a handheld one if you don’t have a stand  up one) beat eggs and sugar together until smooth.

Beat in vanilla and salt.

Gradually add flour to the egg mixture  until the flour is incorporated in the mixture.

Gradually add melted butter using a steady stream.   Beat until well combined.

Spoon batter into each shell on the madeleine pan or each cup on a mini muffin pan.  You don’t have to spread them they’ll melt into the mold nicely.  If you prefer spoon the batter in a large ziplock bag, snip of a corner and squeeze the batter on to the pans.

Bake for about 12 minutes or  until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes then gently remove from pans.

You can sprinkle them with powder sugar or dip them in melted chocolate.

Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 2 days or you can freeze them and thaw at room temperature when you need them.


Madeleines
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