Mediterranean Salad with Grilled Greek Chicken

Today was my time to feed a group of 12 women at work (a monthly luncheon)…I’m pretty new to the group so was nervous as to what to make. Will they like it? Did I make enough? Wonder how long it would take Jimmy John’s to get a bunch of sandwiches up to our conference room? ACK!

I decided on a Greek theme, and picked out recipes that I can serve cold or at room temperature! I found recipes from Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, Ina Garten, and Jamie Oliver. Used a marinade of Rachael’s for the grilled chicken. Giada’s Mediterranean salad, and a meld of Ina’s and Jamie’s Greek Salad. Throw in some pita bread and a lemon cake, from another group member, and we had an AWESOME lunch!

Start with the marinade:

1 large tub of Greek Yogurt
2 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp ground Coriander
2 tsp dried Greek Oregano and Basil (I used my dried herbs from my garden)
1 package of frozen chicken breast tenders

Mix all together and put in large ziplock bag, stick in frig overnight. Either grill on the bbq, or put under the broiler, like I had to as it was raining out last night.

Next, Giada’s Mediterranean Salad:

3 Tbsp Olive Oil (plus about 1/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Israeli couscous
3 C chicken broth
2 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, zested
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 C chopped FRESH basil
1/2 C chopped FRESH mint
1/4 C craisins (dried cranberries)
1/4 C toasted pine nuts (she says to use silvered almonds, toasted)

In a medium saucepan, warm 3 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the couscous and cook until toasted and lightly browned, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add broth, and the juice of 1 lemon, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, covered, until the couscous is tender, but still firm to the bite. About 8 minutes. Drain the couscous.

In a large bowl, toss the couscous with about 1/8 C of olive oil, remaining lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper, pine nuts and craisins and let cool. Once couscous it at room temperature, add the fresh herbs. Toss to combine and serve. (I made this up the night before and took it out of the frig about an hour before serving).

Now for a blend of Ina’s and Jamie’s Greek Salad:
8 cups of halved grape tomatoes ( I used yellow and red)
1 med-lrg red onion, thinly sliced
1 english (seedless) cucumber, cut thickly
handful (1/4-1/2 cup) fresh mint, chopped
handful (1/4-1/2 cup) fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
12 Greek Kalamata olives, crushed by hand
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
8-10 TBSP Olive oil
1/4 C Garlic Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp pepper
feta cheese, crumbled

Throw all ingredients together (except last five) in a large bowl. Put in frig until 1 hour before serving. Mixed olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together…pour over salad one hour before serving, toss well.   Sprinkle the top with dried oregano and basil.  Let everyone sprinkle feta over their salad…as much as they like!

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Cookie Exchange Time

I am so ready for Wednesday’s Cookie Exchange at work!

I made no-bake Bourbon Street Pecan Balls and Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies.

The Bourbon Street Pecan Balls is a recipe from Rachael Ray…I saw the link for it on the 12 Days of Cookies that my friend Jan sends to me every year. 🙂 (Day 6 looks awesome! I’m going to have to try that one too!)

Ingredients: (makes 3 dozen cookies)

4 Cups pecans
2 Cups crushed Nilla wafer cookies
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
4 Jiggers of bourbon (I used 1/2 cup)
3 TBSP light corn syrup
butter for fingers

Roughly chop 4 cups pecans in a food processor (I hand cranked in nutgrinder), then remove 2 cups and set aside. Finely grind the remaining 2 cups in food processor.

Combine the finely ground pecans, vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, bourbon, and corn syrup. Coat fingers with butter and roll about 1 tsp of mixture into a ball. Roll the balls in the remaining chopped pecans.

Put into refrigerator until serving time.

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The Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies came from Mennonite Girls Can Cook…yes they can, indeedly-doodley!

Ingredients: (makes 3 dozen)

1 Cup butter (butter! not anything else!)
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp Pure Vanilla
1/2 Cup gound hazelnuts
chocolate for drizzling, optional

Heat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugar well.
Add vanilla.
Add flour and ground nuts and mix well.
Roll teaspoons of dough into small balls.
Place 2″ apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Flatten to 1″ (and they really mean it! I found out after the second round what a difference it makes!) in diameter, using the flat bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. (I used white mixed with red and green sugar)
Bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to wire rack for cooling.
Drizzle with melted chocolate.

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Lucy wanting a belly rub.