May 30, 2013

Fresh Caprese Tower Salad

A couple of summers ago I was down the shore just for the day with a good friend and my two kiddies. We decided to have lunch at this lovely restaurant called The Columns right across from the beach in the beautifully Victorian shore point known as Avon by the Sea NJ.. We went in bathing suit covers and all, but then again that is the attire of the sea shore! Anyway, we ordered up this appetizer called a Caprese Tower, and I have been wanting to recreate it since then.

Well this week the northeast is in a little bit of a heat wave, 90+ degrees to be exact, and because of this unusually warm weather I have begun dreaming about the summer's tomatoes and fresh basil. Fortunately our local Thriftway had a huge sale on vine ripened tomatoes this week, so I grabbed a few just to have for salads. Much to my surprise they weren't spongy at all...they quite beautiful, perfect for the Caprese Tower!  

All you need is a nice ripe tomato cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Do the same thing with a medium size ball of fresh mozzarella. Pour some olive oil on your serving plate and kind of roll the oil around. Then grab some large fresh basil leaves and begin to stack your tower on the olive oil covered plate. Start with the mozzarella and finish with a tomato slice with one basil leaf between the tomato and cheese. Top with a pretty sprig of basil. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. I also added some balsamic vinegar to the plate so I could swirl each bite of my tower through both oil and vinegar.

 We decided to really enjoy our tower and sit outside with a little white wine to accompany this wonderful dish. Kids are outside what a great beginning to the summer season!


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May 29, 2013

Mom's Favorite Picnic Chicken

OK...we are talking super easy and packed with flavor!!! Typically I use thighs and legs for this recipe but you can easily use breast meat too. Instead of dipping the chicken into egg and then coating it with bread crumbs, the chicken is first covered with a creamy salad dressing and then coated in crunchy Panko crumbs. The dressing actually helps to seal in the meat's juices so every piece is super moist. This chicken goes great with any summer salad, and is perfect for toting to any outdoor party!

6-8 pieces of chicken, skin removed, rinsed and patted dry
Any thick salad dressing like Ranch, Creamy Italian, Creamy Caeser and such
1 cup panko style bread crumbs
1/2 package of Good Season's Zesty Italian dry mix
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix dry dressing mix with the bread crumbs, then coat the chicken with the creamy dressing followed by dredging it in the Panko crumb mix. Place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. It's that easy!!

Hope you enjoy!!


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May 28, 2013

Being Featured Today Over at Fox News Magazine


Last week I was contacted by Fox News Magazine editor Michael Bartiromo asking if TheBigGiantFoodBasket would like to contribute a recipe to an upcoming article. 

Well you can just imagine my surprise and thrill! And as many bloggers do, I didn't want to jinx the whole thing by revealing anything until the article was up in print. The recipe they were interested in was my Limey Roasted Corn Salad. The article it is being highlighted in is titled...

Don't you  just love the title? To see the other fabulous non lettuce recipes follow the link above. 

Gosh you never know who is out there reading your blog.

Wishing you a wonderful day!!!


May 26, 2013

Fresh Blueberry and Sweet Basil Salad Dressing

This is one of my favorite summertime dressings to make. You really do not need much more than some greens, toasted sliced almonds and a little blue cheese or Gorgonzola...toss and you have this fabulous healthy salad with such a unique and delicious flavor.

The dressing includes...

1/2 cup fresh blueberries 
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons water
half a medium shallot chopped
one tablespoon basil chopped
 1/4 cup of olive oil 
and a pinch of Kosher salt.

Blend all the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender.

 Blueberries are loaded with the antioxidant polyphenol that neutralizes free radicals in the body which can cause cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's Disease. Blueberries are rich in vitamin C too. Olive oil in the dressing along with the almonds in the salad are also heart healthy foods. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and a good source of high quality protein. Almonds can help lower LDL and lipids (fat). Olive oil can help reduce cholesterol as well as the risk of certain cancers like breast, prostate, endometrial and cancers of the digestive track.

So eat up those brightly colored foods mother nature has generously provided for us, they are packed with nutrients which can ward of diseases and help keep our immunity in tack.


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