Quick And Easy Homemade Croutons

Quick And Easy Homemade Croutons. The end of summer is nearing and what better way to finish it out than with a flavorful salad straight from the garden. My Panzanella salad with a dijon vinaigrette is fantastic. It’s tangy and sweet with lots of crunchy vegetables and of course Croutons! Panzanella is a traditional Italian “bread salad.” For the full recipe on how to make it click the link. Now, these crispy croutons are so easy to make and so much better than the bagged stuff. You can use them in your next soup or salad recipe and create something magical. Just chop, cube and brown in the oven, and about fifteen minutes later you’ll have golden chewy and crispy croutons! Try it with cornbread for a yummy alternative. What’s your favorite way to eat croutons? Comment below.

 

Enjoy!

Xo- Ayesha

Quick And Easy Homemade Croutons

Quick And Easy Homemade Croutons

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
One long baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
One teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl add bread cubes, salt, and garlic powder. Drizzle with olive oil over the bread and combine well until coated and the bread absorbs olive oil.

Spread cubes of bread onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden all around. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Cucumber And Tomato Salad

Cucumber And Tomato Salad. In my cookbook, “The Seasoned Life,” I  have a recipe for “Cucumber Salad.” Here I added in some fresh tomatoes from my garden. I also used Thai chili powder in place of red pepper flakes. It’s perfect in this chilled salad. If you can get ahold of it and enjoy a little heat, give it a try! Such a quick and straightforward way to use produce that you have on hand or can get ahold of at your local market or farmers market. This dish is sweet, vinegary and has a touch of heat — the perfect complement to your next summer cookout.

Enjoy,

Xo- Ayesha

 

Cucumber And Tomato Salad

Cucumber And Tomato Salad

1 Cucumber peeled and sliced
1-pint baby cherry or heirloom tomatoes
Two tablespoons red wine vinegar
Two tablespoons minced red onion
Two teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a small bowl mix vinegar, onion, sugar, salt, and chili flakes. mIx well.

In a large bowl add cucumber slice and tomatoes. Add in dressing and toss to coat. Allow to sit for atlas 5 minutes before serving or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Tip* I personally think it tastes better the longer it sits. So if you have time to make beforehand and refrigerate I would suggest it.

Warm Arugula Salad With A Maple Vinaigrette

Warm Arugula Salad With Maple Vinaigrette. I absolutely love being able to harvest the vegetables from my garden and being able to prepare easy and delicious meals with them. This salad is full of crunchy, sweet, and sour goodness. Arugula is such a pepper flavored green that has loads of health benefits. And it works perfectly with the sweet and tangy maple vinaigrette. I topped it with some quickly seared scallops, fresh corn, peas, and chopped asparagus. But the beauty of this salad is that you can substitute your favorite vegetables that you have on hand and it will be just as good. Use whatever protein you want — the perfect meal for a quick lunch or dinner. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Enjoy.

Xo- Ayesha

 

Warm Arugula Salad With Maple Vinaigrette

Warm Arugula Salad With Maple Vinaigrette

3 cups arugula (You could also substitute spinach)
Large ear of corn shucked and cut off the cob
One cup asparagus, sliced.
1/2 cup peas fresh (Or frozen)
Maple vinaigrette, recipe below.

Just heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook asparagus until tender and bright green for about 2 minutes. Add in corn and peas and saute for 1 minute more. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, add arugula and warm veggies. Toss with vinaigrette and combine well. Serve warm with a protein of choice or on its own.

Maple Vinaigrette

One clove finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Two tablespoons pure maple syrup
One tablespoon white wine vinegar
Two tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Add all of the ingredients into a jar and shake well. Set aside until ready to use.

Leftover Chicken Curry Sandwiches

Leftover Chicken Curry Sandwiches. Looking for a simple and flavorful dish to make this week? Then look no further.  These can be made with quickly poached chicken breast, store-bought rotisserie chicken or in my case leftover chicken breasts! It is such a great combination of flavor and texture. Curry powder has a deep and earthy flavor from a blend of coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other spices. But don’t worry, it’s not spicy! I love that you can make this the night before and have tomorrows dinner practically finished.  Let me know what you think in the comments below. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Xo- Ayesha

 

Leftover Chicken Curry Sandwiches

Leftover Chicken Curry Sandwiches

Three cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (You could also use a rotisserie chicken.)
1 cup real mayonnaise
One tablespoon shallot, finely diced.
1/2 cup celery, diced.
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped. (optional)
One cup halved grapes (optional)
One heaping tablespoon apricot preserves
One tablespoon lemon juice

1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder
Pinch kosher salt
Cracked black pepper to taste.

 

In a small bowl add mayonnaise, curry, apricot, lemon, salt, pepper and mix well.

Dice chicken into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl along with shallot, grapes, and celery.

Now toss your chicken with curried mayonnaise and adjust seasonings if needed. Toss with nuts before serving. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight before serving. (The longer you wait, the more flavorful it will be!)

Serve tucked in fresh croissants or rolls. You can even serve it in a bowl for dipping with crackers or spread over crostini. Yum!

Panzanella Salad

Throwback Thursday! With my end of summer Panzanella Salad. What better way to use produce than to make a Panzanella salad. Which is a traditional Italian “bread salad.” Crispy croutons made from toasted baguette cubes along with fresh, crunchy veggies bring this powerhouse salad together. Drizzle with a little dijon vinaigrette love, and you can’t go wrong. Gardening is such a joy to my family and me. Nothing beats growing something with your own hands and watching it flourish. We’ve created so many delicious recipes using various tomato plants, cucumber, zucchini, and watermelon.

Along with so many amazing fresh herbs. Start your own garden! It’s a fantastic way to get the kids involved too. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Xo- Ayesha

Panzanella Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
1 long baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
One orange bell pepper, seeded and cubed
One red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
One English cucumber halved and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons capers

For the vinaigrette:

1 clove finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together all ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside.

In a large bowl add bread cubes and salt. Drizzle olive oil over the bread and combine well until coated and olive oil is absorbed by the bread.

Spread cubes of bread onto a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden all around. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss well.

Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit at room temperature for 25-30 minutes. (The longer it sits the better it gets!)

Easy Caprese Salad

Flashback Friday with my “Easy Caprese Salad.”

Hi guys! I hope you all enjoyed your week! Here is a super simple Caprese salad recipe. It’s easy and so delicious! Perfect for a busy weekend or work week lunch! My kids love to eat this, and it would be a great addition to those back to school lunches coming up. What is your go-to salad? Please share yours in the comments below.

Enjoy the weekend!

Xo- Ayesha

Easy Caprese Salad

Ingredients

6 -8 small fresh mozzarella balls

8-10 Cherry tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

3 Leaves of fresh Basil (chopped)

A Drizzle of Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

Comine all of the ingredients into a bowl, drizzle with balsamic and enjoy! It’s really that simple, I love it. Be sure to use aged balsamic as it has a thicker and sweeter consistency.

Wedge Salad Skewers

Hey everyone! Heres, another crowd pleaser that will be sure to impress. Wedge salad on a skewers with crisp iceberg lettuce, bacon, and tomato. Topped with a blue cheese dressing, red onion, and a balsamic drizzle. Simple and delicious! I dare you to try this recipe with my brown sugar bacon. You can find the recipe in my cookbook “The seasoned life.” This is a slight twist on a classic steakhouse wedge salad. I’m guilty of probably ordering a wedge salad anytime we go to a steakhouse. Just don’t forget my red onion! I love that for something so simple it packs a lot of flavors. And the tangy and easy to make blue cheese dressing is the perfect complement to this salad. Does anyone love a wedge salad as much as me? Leave a comment below.

Enjoy,

Xo-Ayesha

 

 

 

Wedge Salad skewers

6-8 slices cooked bacon, cut into quarters.
1-pint cherry tomatoes
Head iceberg lettuce, cut into quarters.
One red onion, finely diced.
Blue Cheese Dressing recipe (recipe below)
6 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled.
Balsamic glaze, optional.

Remove outer layer of lettuce head and the stem. Slice lettuce into quarters and slice into bite-sized wedges to fit on the skewer. Assemble the skewers by layering lettuce, bacon, and tomato.

Drizzle creamy dressing on top of the skewers. Top with diced red onion and gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Drizzle with a little balsamic glaze and enjoy!

Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
One tablespoon red wine vinegar
One tablespoon sugar
Dash of Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste. (I used about a teaspoon each)
1/3 cup blue cheese (I prefer a creamy Danish cheese)

Simply place everything but the blue cheese in a mason jar or bowl and combine thoroughly. Add your crumbled blue cheese and carefully mix. You want it to be chunky! If you like your dressing to be thinner just add more milk.

Jalapeno Cornbread Croutons

Happy Monday everyone! Today I wanted to share a basic cornbread recipe that transforms into a delicious topping for your next favorite soup, salad and more. Jalapeno cornbread croutons! I just throw a little jalapeño into the cornbread mixture a little heat. But you can omit that step if you are not a fan of it. You can even make your cornbread a couple of days ahead of time. Its then cubed and baked off until crisp croutons are created. Crispy and buttery with a touch of heat. An irresistible combination. The croutons while crisp on the outside are nice and chewy inside. I’ve used these to top Caesar salads, chowders and of course my game day chili! what do you like to eat with cornbread? Share below.

Enjoy,

Xo-Ayesha

Jalapeno Cornbread Croutons

2 cups jalapeno cornbread, cubed.
2 Tablespoons butter, melted.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add croutons to a large bowl.

Drizzle with butter and toss.

On a large rimmed baking sheet evenly distribute croutons.

Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Serve warm over soup, salad, or chili.

Basic Cornbread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
One tablespoon baking powder
One teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
One large egg, lightly beaten.
One tablespoon jalapeno, finely diced. (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl combine all of your dry ingredients and mix well.

In a small bowl add milk, oil, egg and mix well.

Add wet mixture to dry and combine well. You can now add your jalapeño if you choose to.

Pour into a buttered pan or cast iron skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until pick comes out clean.

 

 

Grilled Chicken Salad For A Crowd With Vinaigrette

Grilled Chicken Salad For A Crowd With Vinaigrette

Sometimes I just need a break from all the carbs! This salad makes for a delicious weeknight salad recipe that has the perfect balance of salty and sweet! Filled with chicken, crisp apple, pears, goat cheese, tomatoes, onions, and topped with a Vinaigrette! Such a flavorful salad! I used fresh romaine lettuce in this dish, but you can use any mix of greens you have on hand. Quickly brown some marinated chicken and assemble your salad. Dinner will be at the table in no time.

Enjoy!

Xo- Ayesha

Grilled Chicken Salad For A Crowd With Vinaigrette

Four boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 cups romaine lettuce, thoroughly washed
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled.
1 cup whole baby tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion, diced.
1/2 cup dried cranberries
One green apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced.
One pear, peeled and thinly sliced.

Assemble the salad by adding lettuce to a large serving bowl and topping with sliced apple, pears, onions, cheese, tomato, and cranberries.

Add sliced chicken to the salad and serve with honey mustard vinaigrette.

Grilled Chicken

Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Two tablespoon lemon juice
Two tablespoons olive oil
One tablespoon dijon mustard
Two tablespoons dark brown sugar
Two tablespoon soy sauce
Two cloves garlic cloves, minced.
One sprig fresh thyme (1/4 teaspoon)
One sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Add chicken breasts to a large ziplock bag.

In a small bowl add all ingredients and mix well. Pour mixture over chicken and seal bag. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Making sure to turn the bag occasionally.

Remove chicken from marinade. Do not use any of leftover marinade.

Preheat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook about 5-6 minutes on each side and juices run clear. Remove from pan and allow to cool.

Slice at an angle and serve cooled chicken over your salad.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Two tablespoons honey
Two tablespoons dijon mustard
One tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste.

Just place all of your ingredients into a mason jar with a lid and shake well.

Pour over salad and enjoy!

Lunch In A Jar!

Who has the time to stop and make lunch these days! We end up making bad food choices that are convenient, and not always the best choice for our body. With a little prep, you can whip up an entire week’s worth of lunches, all at once. Filled with delicious items that help to keep your energy up and hunger at bay. Here are two variations of “lunch in a jar” that I came up with. You can create hundreds of different combinations using ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Send me your favorite combination for a chance at winning a signed copy of my book “The Seasoned Life“. Now buy some mason jars and get inspired!

Lunch In A Jar #1

2-3 Cilantro lime salad dressing (Or your favorite)
6 Evenly cubed fresh jicama sticks
2 Small Persian cucumbers, sliced.
1/2 Cup corn kernels (canned is fine)
1/2 Cup black beans
2 Cup spring salad mix
1/4 Cup Cojita cheese
1/2 Diced jalapeno, without seeds. (optional)
4-6 Cooked shrimp. (depending on size)

Pour your salad dressing at the bottom of the jar. Then add jicama, corn, beans, cucumber, lettuce, cheese, and protein. In that order. The crunchy items help to keep the salad from becoming soggy.

Lunch In A Jar #2

2-3 Tablespoons fig balsamic salad dressing (Or your favorite)
1 Cup of chickpeas
1/2 Cup sliced sunburst tomatoes.
2 Small Persian cucumbers, sliced.
2 Cup spring salad mix
1/4 Cup feta cheese
1/2 Cup tuna fish or salmon. (canned is fine)

Pour your salad dressing at the bottom of the jar. Then add chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, cheese, and protein. In that order. The crunchy items help to keep the salad from becoming soggy.

And now you’ve got the perfect jar of salad happiness!

Enjoy.

Xo Ayesha

 

 

I love you so much, Austin TX

Live music, endless street art, southern comfort, and food that is so unbelievably good you can’t come to Austin, Texas without expecting to put on a few pounds. This past weekend I had the luxury of visiting this lively city with my older sister, who attends the University of Texas at Austin. After only hearing good things about Austin my expectations were high, but I didn’t know what to expect. So many things to see and do there wasn’t nearly enough time to finish it all in 48 hours. That’s why I can’t wait to come back in the fall for the Austin City Limits music festival. Here’s my review and overall experience of Austin, Texas and I hope this guide is helpful to the next adventure seeking vacationers.

For the past three years Austin has reached summer temperatures of over 100 degrees for two or three consecutive months, and the weather was headed in that direction. So packing during the warm (and humid) months, pack light and airy clothes. At night it doesn’t get lower than 85, I didn’t bother bringing a sweater.

In the morning we ate at a restaurant called Blue Dahlia, the scene was adorable and the french cafe was a great spot to kick off the weekend. The restaurant is known for their open faced sandwiches. Outdoor seating is available in the front and back, request the front for people watching! Across the street was the famous BBQ joint called Franklins. To eat at this restaurant you need to wait in line for at least a couple hours; we passed by and the line was around 100 people long. The food typically runs out at 12 o’clock, and then the restaurant closes for the day. Most people end up having bbq for breakfast, but nothing wrong with that! We wandered around 2nd street, a lively place for shopping boutiques and more great restaurants are located there. Along Second is the river that goes through Austin, and it really makes the whole city so refreshing. We walked across the bridge and over to South Congress for the famous Gourdough’s Doughnut truck. Look at my picture and zoom in to read the menu (it’s insane) any topping you want on a sweet, warm, doughy doughnut. Mouth watering…The best part about Austin is that everywhere you go, you can’t go without passing all these killer food trucks. Empty parking lots are filled with options and each truck is so unique and so good. Plus they have their own addresses on google maps which makes it really easy to access the ones you want.

On our way home we stopped at the worlds largest and first Whole Foods. I skipped into the store like a four year old because I was so excited. For anyone visiting Austin you can’t leave without coming here, even if you don’t buy anything you leave the store stuffed because of all the free samples. I left with a pressed juice because whenever I drink those I’m convinced it’s a workout in a bottle (I didn’t go to the gym that day…..) That night we went downtown to 6th street, thousands of people fill the streets and live music is at every corner. We indulged in the famous post-party snack, Roppolo’s Pizzeria (greasy goodness.) Late that night my sister still reminded me I hadn’t tried the Texas fad, Queso. Indulging our bodies once again, we ordered this delicacy. I could make an entire blog post just on this damn food. We Californians love guacamole and salsa with our tortilla chips, but that really needs to change. Queso is melted cheese filled with Spanish spices and guacamole in the bottom of the bowl. Each bite leaves your body with a happy sensation. I can’t explain to you guys how good this treat is and I hope everyone is lucky enough to try this one day.

Sunday- I was so excited to get myself a Texas burger at the hotspot, Hopdoddys. Three hours before my flight, the line was a two hour wait…. I didn’t get my Hopdoddys. But, I’m a sucker for sushi, and across the street was a super cool Japanese kitchen, Funky Robot. The interior was just as good as the food, the walls were filled with murals and the furniture and decorations were so bright, some tables even had swings as their seating!

Each time we went to a new spot for food walking around the area was always so intriguing. Street art in Austin is huge and every plain building is transformed into funky works of art, decorated with some sort of colorful mural or message. Of course my sister and I took a picture in front of the famous Instagram hot spot “I love you so much”… yes, I Insta’d the photo. Sadly, it was time to leave this crazy city, 48 hours is not enough time to see everything. Overall Austin is such a sensational town; the music, the food, the smells, and the heat! If you end up visiting you must keep your expectations high and open minded because they will be fulfilled in every way. I love you so much, Austin!                                                                   -Olivia Vigo