Italian Potato Salad

Before I get to the Italian Potato Salad I have to say I am very excited that I’ve opened up my Etsy shop!  I’ve been working for months on researching what to do and getting my photos together.  I’m starting off with greeting cards but I’ll be adding enlargements and such as I go along.  It is call CreationsByOGP, for some reason Etsy doesn’t like spaces!

If you have a chance, please check it out at CreationsByOGP.

As we’re still battling a fierce heatwave with crazy humidity, dinners need to be easy to put together because standing over a hot stove isn’t my idea of fun in the summer.  The farmer’s market had new potatoes so I decided to make an Italian Potato salad.

Technique for Italian Potato Salad:

I prepped the dressing first so it was ready.

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Mix 2 parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.  Add a healthy handful of fresh thyme and season with sea salt and pepper.  Whisk the ingredients well and set aside.  Next wash the potatoes and roast them at 425F/220C until they are cooked through and the skins are a bit crispy.  Take 4-6 rashers of streaky bacon and cook in a skillet until they are done to the way you like them.  We like them slightly crispy but not cooked too hard.

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Dice the bacon and set aside.  Once the potatoes are cooked, slice the larger ones in half as you want them bite size.

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Toss in a large bowl with the dressing and bacon.  Add fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  Grate fresh parmesan to finish.

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For a bit of variation you can also add grilled chicken or grilled fish.  I have to say though, I’m ready for cooler weather so I can do some baking and such.  Hopefully it’s right round the corner.

Italian Potato Salad

A delicious twist on potato salad with fresh basil and tomatoes.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian Potato Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Salad

  • 1 lb new potatoes 400g
  • 4-6 rashers streaky bacon
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn to small pieces
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup small mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together.  Add the thyme, sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Set aside.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.  Roast the potatoes until the skins are crispy.  Cook the bacon until they are slightly crispy.  Cut up the bacon and slice any new potatoes that are more than bite sized.  Toss all the ingredients together and serve.  

Korean BBQ Steak Salad

I am on a serious Asian flavour kick lately.  With the sticky hot weather it is great to be able to lean on all the flavours but not be heavy.  It also helps me from getting thoroughly sick of salads!  But even with air conditioning, the suffocating heat and humidity the idea of pasta and such doesn’t appeal.

I had made this dish a few weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner and I knew our kids would love it so now that camp is over it was time to make it again.  Their summer adventures are over and school starts next week so we’re getting back into routine again.  Our daughter is applying to universities and our son has four more years left before he flies the coop.  It goes by so fast.

I have a Williams – Sonoma cookery book simply called Asian.  A lot of thought went into that, obviously.  I adapted it based on the ingredients I had on hand.

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I made the dipping sauce/dressing and the marinade at the same time.  I did this several hours prior to grilling.  We’re still working on our bedroom so I knew I also wanted a quick dinner where I do most of the work before we exhausted ourselves painting and installing flooring.

Now I’ve tried the technique that the book mentions twice but without success but I’ll go over it and then just say not to stress or worry about it because you will still get the flavours needed.  They say to make a paste of sugar and garlic with the back of your knife.  I’ve seen it be successful on shows but for the life of me I couldn’t get it to do as it was supposed to.

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Chop up 4-5 cloves of garlic and add a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Attempt to make it into a paste.  Swear a bit then say to the hell with it and add 2/3 of it to one bowl and the rest to a smaller bowl.

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Add 6 tablespoons of soy sauce in the larger bowl and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce in the smaller bowl.  A tablespoon of sesame oil in the large and a couple of teaspoons of the oil in the smaller.  A tablespoon of rice vinegar in each bowl.  A small handful of sliced scallions in each along with a tablespoon of water.   In the larger bowl grate an inch/2.5cm cube of fresh ginger.  Add a dollop or two of the Gochujang paste to the dipping sauce.

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Mix both well.  Set aside the dipping sauce for later.  I had a pound of steak tips so I cubed them to be about 2in/5cm in size.  Toss the meat in the marinade, make sure the meat is well coated and covered.

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Cover and chill until it’s time to grill.

Fire up the grill and put the meat onto skewers.

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Grill it until the desired doneness.  We prefer medium rare for our beef.

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Once it’s done, add it to the salad and use the dipping sauce as a dressing.

Korean BBQ 9 2018It is also great as part of an Asian tapas night or over rice.  But for now we’re keeping it light until the cooler weather finally arrives.  Hopefully that comes soon!

 

Pineapple Asian Chicken

I have a little vent before I get to my recipe.  Thursdays are my grocery shop day and I headed to our co-op.  They leave water out for the dogs which is great on hot days like this but the whole front is covered by concrete which gets quite hot.  When I pulled in I could hear a dog whinging.  There was a small dog tied up outside on the hot concrete.  It kept lifting its paws.  I took out one of my cloth bags and laid it down and the pup immediately sat down on it.  I sat on the bench to wait for the owner so the dog could keep it’s paws off the concrete.

I only waited a couple of minutes before the owner came out.  She was not happy with me at all!  I said the dog’s paws were too hot because of the concrete and she very dismissively said the dog was fine.  I didn’t leave right away and said if a dog keeps trying to lift all their paws, they aren’t all right.  She was a bit shirty with me but I didn’t care and then she noticed the cloth bag and asked if it was mine and tossed it to me.  Honestly, while I would never tie my dog outside somewhere, if I did and someone said the pup was distressed I wouldn’t be bitchy about it!  I really don’t understand people.

I hope I got my point across!

Last week while we were running errands I got peckish and grabbed some turkey jerky.  A very strange texture but the flavour was really good so I made note of the ingredients as I thought it would make a great marinade for some chicken wings I needed to use up.

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Now I don’t get anything for “promoting” the ingredients in the picture, they just happen to be what we like to buy and use.  In a bowl or container add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice, a splash of lime juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  Finely chop 2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on their size, and grate 1in/2.5cm cube of fresh ginger.

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Whisk until the ingredients are well blended.  Taste and adjust the flavours as you like.  Toss the chicken wings to coat well.

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Marinate for at least an hour, I marinated for most of the day.  When it was time for dinner I fired up the grill and prepped the ingredients.  Out I go to grill the wings and find we ran out of gas.  Thank goodness for the stove top griddle so I got that heated up and began to grill the wings.

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I also grilled some mushrooms and jalapeño as sides to the salad.  It’s much easier on the grill as the wings are surrounded by the heat.  When it is stovetop you have to keep turning and making sure nothing catches while you are trying to get it cooked through.

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Serve on top of a salad and enjoy.  A very easy meal to throw together if you have a crazy busy day.  🙂

Spicy Pork in Lettuce

When the kids are away the parents will play.  While the kids were off having the time of their life at camp we thought it would be fun to have friends over for dinner.  I was still going through the withdrawal from the fibro meds so food had to be simple.  I was a hot mess and a few days before I couldn’t really get out of bed so my husband was questioning my sanity.  I won’t go into detail on how often he does that.  😉

I was in the mood to do Asian tapas.  I did up chicken satay, Korean BBQ steak, some spring rolls and spicy pork in lettuce.  If you can find the type of lettuce that gives you small cups go for that.  I couldn’t so had to use Romaine lettuce.

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I chopped up a healthy handful of scallions and 2 garlic cloves.  Peel an inch/2.5cm cube of ginger and set aside.  In a skillet add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and heat up.  Once the oil is hot add a pound of ground pork.  As it starts browning add the scallion, garlic and grate the ginger into the skillet

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Add a few tablespoons of Gochujang, which is a fermented hot chili paste, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and a few splashes of lime juice.  Simmer to allow the flavours to develop.

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Adjust the spicy heat as needed.  If you want more, add more Gochujang or red pepper flakes.  Season with fresh ground black pepper.  You shouldn’t need salt given the other ingredients.

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As I was finishing this dish our friends showed up so it was a quick photo so not to be rude.  Plus I had to make the Mai Tais.  First time making them and we’re totally hooked. Such a good drink to go with Asian tapas.  🙂

Whirlwind Trip to the UK

This has taken much longer getting back into posting after our busy holiday than I imagined it would.  Before I get to our amazing holiday I wanted to share a PSA with everyone.  Our trip was 3 weeks long but it’s been another couple of weeks since and I haven’t posted.

I had decided a few months ago I would come off my fibro meds once we were back from holiday because I still had the fibro symptoms plus some awful side effects.  Including a brain fog that was something else!  Now I spoke with doctors beforehand and the only thing they said was to step down the dose carefully.  I did it nice and slow.  It went better than I thought it would.  But once I finished the fun really started and they never mentioned anything about this which is why I’m sharing this with you.  I know I’m not the only one going through this.  The withdrawal after the meds was horrendous and I could barely get out of bed.  I did some research and found that people can end up having seizures or have to be in hospital.  Luckily I didn’t have that but I was really upset that I wasn’t told of this prior to going on the meds and not being told this when I said I was coming off!  So if you are going to be dealing with this, do research and really push your doctor to give you proper support, otherwise it can get really miserable.

That’s the end of the PSA and on to the fun stuff!

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This year we took the kids with us to the UK, one because we were due for a family trip and two because our daughter is touring universities this year.  Surreal that she is beginning this new chapter!  We had so much to fit into this trip and hit the ground running by taking a day trip to Cardiff.  We were all pleasantly surprised at what a fabulous city it is.  The university was right near the town centre and we were fortunate to be able to speak with a senior professor who is part of the admissions.  It was a well spent half hour.  Crossing the Severn was quite the treat as well.

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Without much of a break we headed to our next adventure.  My husband’s family planned a day coach trip to the Somme because his great great uncle was killed in action 100 years ago to the day.  The cemeteries take your breath away and they are immaculate.

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Thiepval was very powerful.  73,000 names of people of unknown burial.  73,000 families had the heartbreak of not knowing what happened.  It was overwhelming for me.  I was struck by the inability of humans to learn from history and the current climate doesn’t hold much hope that we won’t see another Thiepval.

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We were treated to a gorgeous view back across the channel with the sunset.  Hard to beat the sun going down over water.

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We realised that the kids had never been to Stonehenge so it sounded like a perfect day trip.  I really like how they’ve changed the area by moving the visitor centre a mile and a half away.  It really opens up the surrounding area so you see how it was in ancient times.  It was really lovely to walk in the countryside seeing all the barrows.  We also went to Avebury which is a village smack in the middle of a very large stone circle.  A fascinating place.

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After a couple of days puttering about it was time to head north.  I couldn’t wait to show the kids the countryside up north.  University of Manchester was on the list to tour and my friend works there.  Which was fabulous as she actually gave us a much better tour than the official one.  Including getting into the Rutherford Room where the atom was split in 1911.  That was so cool.

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The next day was a gorgeous trip into Yorkshire with Skipton Castle and Bolton Abbey.  I hadn’t been to the Abbey before and I loved it.  The whole area includes the Abbey, the current church in use and the village.  Loads of walking to be done.

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The next day was a great mix of geeky stuff.  We went to see the Lovell Telescope which is an incredible bit of engineering.  You have to have your phones off or in airplane mode as you can interfere with the telescope.  The telescope can pick up a single mobile phone signal from Mars.  We also enjoyed the diesel gala at the East Lancs Railway.  We rode the rails for bit.  The door windows were popular as it was the best way to cool off on the trains!

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It was time to head to London, no rest for the wicked!  Our daughter wanted to visit the Tate as some of the art work was in her image set from her AP Art History course.  I’ll admit, I don’t get the Tate.  At all but to each their own.  It was this afternoon that our daughter got her results for her AP Art History and AP Bio.  She achieved a 5 in both, we are so incredibly proud of all her hard work.  She worked so much with the studying.  It took a lot of time after school and weekends for the heavy coursework.

My husband noticed before our trip that the London Transport Museum was having an open day at Acton.  Our kids weren’t overly impressed but he and I loved walking round all the old stock, maps, signs and artifacts.

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We spent the rest of the day wandering round Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square.  I have to say by this time I was tired of the sun and heat.  It wasn’t so bad in the countryside but London was pushing it!

For the last full day we headed to Cambridge for the last of the university tours.  We loved being able to walk in the footsteps of Darwin.  His room is still used by students.  Can you imagine being assigned his room?  Because most of the colleges own the river banks they charge you to walk through to the River Cam so we decided to do a punt tour down the river.  So much cooler on the river!  We got a great view of the Bridge of Sighs, named because Queen Victoria thought it looked just like a bridge in Venice.  It doesn’t but who was going to argue with the Queen?

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After a week straight of walking 4-8 miles a day, we were done in but what memories.  It was amazing to do all the exploring with the kids and spending the time with them before they went off on their next summer adventures.

 

 

Peach and Jalapeño Grilled Steak

While I’m not a fan of the heat of summer I do love the flavours of summer.  The shops are starting to have peaches and other stone fruits which means light delicious meals and desserts.

It’s been a busy week but I wanted to make a nice meal for my husband and myself last night.  Peaches sparked an idea and jalapeño is one of my husband’s favourite hot peppers.  A match is made!

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I prepped the corn by soaking the ears before grilling and dusted the steak with chili powder and cumin.

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Slice up a quarter red onion.  Begin to sweat them in a hot skillet with olive oil.  Slice the jalapeño.  I removed the seeds because sometimes the pepper can be very hot and I didn’t want to overwhelm the peach.  I also started with half a pepper.

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Sauté the pepper and onion for a few minutes.  I sliced up three small peaches.  You can tell it’s the beginning of the season as the peaches were quite small.  Add the peaches.  Cook for a few minutes.  Fire up the grill to start grilling the corn.  I grill the corn, unshucked, 5 minutes a side.  Season the peach with chili pepper and cumin.  Add a splash of lime juice.  After tasting I added the rest of the pepper as there wasn’t much heat.

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Grill the steak to the desired doneness.  We like ours on the rare side.  Once cooked, rest the steak for a few minutes then slice.  Shuck the corn.  Place the steak on salad greens and spoon the peach over the steak.

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Bring on summer flavours, just not the heat.  Unless it’s in the food.  🙂

 

White Chocolate Muffins for a Sweet Treat

Oh blogger’s block!  We’ve all been there.  This week, with us getting ready to go across the pond and the school year coming to a close, my mind was blank.  Crickets!  I try to plan a week ahead but nothing came to me.  The other night we were watching the Great British Bake Off.  Sadly not the one with Mary Berry.  Sorry to say but Pru is not Mary Berry! But it finally sparked inspiration.

I have one of Mary Berry’s baking books, “Baking with Mary Berry”.  She has a recipe for white chocolate and strawberry muffins which calls for strawberry jam.  I had my strawberry rhubarb jam in the fridge so I thought this would be fun to make for the kids.

This is a very easy recipe to make, in fact most of it’s done by the time the oven is preheated at 400F/200C.

The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of self rising flour.  If you don’t have that it is easy to make it.  Add 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt per cup of flour.  Sift all together and you are off and running.  I had to prep this and also melted 7 tablespoons of butter.

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In the mixer bowl add 2 large eggs, beat them.  Then add the butter, a cup/8 oz of milk.  I used full fat milk here.  Next add 2 tsp of vanilla and 2/3 cup of sugar.  Tip in the flour mixture then blend everything until it’s smooth and incorporated.  Once it’s mixed add 100g of white chocolate chips.  Mix well.

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Line a 12 well muffin tin with paper cups.  Spoon in half the batter divided equally between the 12 cups.  Spoon in a bit of jam in each cup.

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With the remaining batter cover each muffin evenly.

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Bake 25-30 minutes until they are golden and pass the toothpick test.  Allow to cool then dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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I found this in the breakfast chapter but I think this would be a bit sweet to start the day with.  After school snack?  Perfect.  🙂  This would also work with a variety of fruit jams so the sky is the limit.

 

Easy Homemade Granola

We’ve all done it, keep meaning to make something homemade to save money but never getting around to it.  Then thinking about it all over again as you scoop the expensive stuff into a bag at the shop.  My husband enjoys having granola on his yoghurt in the mornings.  For at least a year I’ve been meaning to give it a try but something always distracted me.

The other week https://frugalhausfrau.com posted about making granola.  She made it look so easy and delicious I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer!  And quite frankly, with two teenagers in the house, any way I can save on the food bill is a good thing.

My husband loves raisins/sultanas and currants so I thought I would keep it simple with the addition of almonds.

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Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.

In a bowl add a cup of oats, a handful of almonds (chopped), a pinch of salt, a tablespoon or so of brown sugar, half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground nutmeg.  Mix well.

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Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add this and a teaspoon of vanilla to the bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Taste to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.

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Spread out evenly on parchment paper over a baking sheet.  Bake 30-40 minutes.  This is a wide range because you don’t want to bring out a burnt taste to the granola and every oven is different.  Stir the granola twice during the baking.  Once it’s a light golden colour it should be done.

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Once it’s baked, let it cool before adding the raisins/sultanas and currants.  I added a healthy handful of each.  If you find the raisins are on the sweet side you can back off on the sugar to keep it balanced.

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I enjoyed it over yoghurt but this is great as an on the go snack or over ice cream.  As we ended up with nearly 3 cups of mixed granola store it in an airtight container.  This is so easy and the variations are endless, there isn’t any reason to buy it anymore!

Creamy Lemon Bacon Chicken Pasta

It was a rite of passage this past weekend for our daughter with the high school prom.  She’s been to friends proms in the past but this was the first for her high school.  I have to say, proms have come a long way since I last had to worry about prom.  It’s much more inclusive and more often than not, groups of students go as friends rather than missing out because a date couldn’t be found.  Way better!

My daughter had a few friends over to get ready before her date showed up.  I did my first ever updo.  It came out ok, phew!  It was lovely to see that all the girls dressed in elegant dresses, no hoochie mamas.  Some of the dresses I’ve seen in the past few years leave little to the imagination.  Thankfully that trend wasn’t to prevalent this time round.

Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we just did photos round the house.  The weather did bring in some cooler weather which called for comfort food!  I saw a recipe calling for bacon and mushroom in a cream sauce.  That sparked an idea.  Lemon and grilled chicken would be a great addition.

I kept the marinade for the chicken very simple.  With a ratio of about 2:1 olive oil to lemon juice, whisk those together with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and marinate for a couple of hours.

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When it’s time to cook up the dinner, grill the chicken and cook up the pasta.  Cut into small squares, 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.  Start cooking the bacon in a large skillet.  Slice a few mushrooms and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic.  Sauté the ingredients with the bacon.  Add a handful of fresh thyme.

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When the bacon is nearly cooked add 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  You want this to be really lemony at this point so the brightness isn’t lost in the cream and pasta.  Bring this to a simmer then add a 1/3 cup/3oz of heavy cream.  Cook on low until the chicken and pasta are done cooking.

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Slice the chicken and add that and the pasta to the skillet and stir well.  Right before serving add a bunch of arugula or spinach and let wilt.

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Serve and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

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Comfort food with the lightness of lemon, great for a cool spring night.

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken

On Sunday, the day I made this meal, we were faced with how surreal life is.  It was a gorgeous day and we were tackling the hops (seriously never plant those!).  We were struck by how busy the fire and police departments were.  While we were planting some veg in the back we realised the current set of sirens didn’t go past our house.

Out of curiosity we wandered out front to see 5 cop cars, 2 ambulances, and various other vehicles.  Something was definitely up.  A few minutes later an ambulance went tearing up the road.  The initial report was someone shot himself by accident and he was belligerent which caused the cops to be called to hospital.  Unfortunately the real story was worse.  The man died and the guy who shot him is in jail for felony manslaughter.

It’s a bit shocking in our small town.  What made it all surreal for me was as they were putting up the crime tape I noticed how life continues on.  The next door neighbour to the crime scene was mowing the lawn, people were walking their dog and we’re were putting about in the garden.  I know it’s how life works but I found it jarring.

After all the work in the garden we wanted a light dinner.  I had seen a few recipes involving orange juice and mustard, orange juice and thyme or orange juice and garlic.  I thought I could come up with a recipe involving all of it.  Lots of flavour and still keeping it light.

In a bowl add equal parts orange juice and olive oil.  Finely chop a few cloves of garlic and add it to the bowl with a handful of fresh thyme.  Add a dash of lemon juice and a good heaping spoonful of stoneground mustard.

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Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the chicken breast to marinate for a couple of hours.

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When it’s time for dinner fire up the grill.

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I did up a fresh salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber and carrot.  I do love salad season!

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Here’s hoping the upcoming weekend is a lot quieter for all.