Mediterranean Chicken Salad




Again, a combination of both warm elements and crisp cool crunch in a salad make a meal complete.

Warm foods in the belly create a feeling of comfort and true nourishment. Sometimes I just don’t know how we survive on those hot summer days when nothing warm at all appeals, as sweat drips down the brow and we gravitate towards any sort of coolness in the air ~ well, actually, inner warmth and contentment always appeals to me, even if it is blistering out outside.

So, warm up the oven or fire up the grill and throw the elements together. This combination is an “oh my good God” meal. Yes, it truly is.

Salty, sweet, tangy…warm, crisp and delicious…


Mediterranean Chicken Salad

2 large chicken breasts
2 tsp. Mediterranean sea salt
freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

3 cups mixed baby greens
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
14 Raw Botija Olives (dried) – these are truly amazing…chocolatey, mocha, smooth and olive deliciousness all in one bite!
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced into chiffonade
2-3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a glass baking dish, season the chicken with Mediterranean salt and pepper, as well as the lemon juice. Cover and bake 35-40 minutes, until thoroughly cooked, but still very tender and juicy. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small non-stick skillet, “dry sauté” the red pepper until soft and a bit “toasted.” Season with salt and balsamic vinegar.
Divide the remaining salad ingredients between two bowls and toss with sliced chicken and red peppers. Even add a bit of cooked rice or cauliflower rice (nice and warm, for sure) for a little extra substance.

The perfect pairing for Josh Cabernet Sauvignon.


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Renee Erickson’s Sautéed Dates

sauteed dates 3

Umm…I think I might have just died and gone to heaven.

I saw this GENIUS RECIPE from Food52.

Uh “genius?” yes.

“pretty much the best thing ever?” double yes.

In fact, I literally almost cried as I sifted through the beauty of this slippery sweet and sensationally salty concoction.

Appetizers don’t have to be much to be perfect. The best ones require nothing more than plating: a platter of olives, or cured meats and cheeses, or whole radishes with butter and salt. These are what people really want to eat before dinner.
An ideal pre-meal meal should be inherently pretty (without having to form any sort of ball or log), and dramatic enough in flavor and texture to prod your appetite. It should be bite-sized, communal, and inviting of conversation (“Are these from the salami of the month club?” “Did I ever tell you about the first time I dipped radishes in butter?” and so on.) Olives will do.


Appetizers like these are a free pass, and we might as well take it. Because when we don’t have to mix and mold and garnish or keep anything crisp, we can focus on the rest of the evening — whether that’s a multi-stage dinner party, or just sitting around the TV clinking coupes and missing Joan Rivers.

Renee Erickson’s sautéed dates are one of these effortless treats, but also have the benefit of being entirely unexpected (go conversation go!). Dates don’t need to be stuffed with anything or wrapped in bacon to be a convincing appetizer — they just need a little framing.

and the best part of it all ~

sauteed dates 2

On their own, dates can be almost too sweet, which is why many of us rarely think of them at all, or blend them up into breads or shakes as a natural sweetener. But once harnessed with a little salt, the sugar stops being overwhelming and the winey, butterscotch-y nuances become clear. We’re familiar here with salting in the form of bacon or goat cheese, but it could also just be salt.

Serves as many as you like

  • Sharp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Dates, unpitted (count on 4 to 5 per person as an appetizer)
  • Flaky sea salt
  1. Heat 1/4 inch olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Fill the pan with dates and cook, turning them a few times, just until they’ve warmed through. (They burn easily, so don’t overdo it.) Serve them on a plate with flaky sea salt.

sauteed dates 1

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Chili Mocha Skirt Steak with Rainbow Carrot Crunch




I believe it’s still slow cooker and crockpot season. In fact, isn’t it always a good time to break out the slow cooker and not have to worry about a thing…walking into a house wafting of sensual aromas and savory spices? Why yes, of course. And, to add to the savory spice mix, why not add a little bit of sweetness…cocoa almond goodness anyone?

The umami combination of tamari and a bit of coffee with beef is unmatched. Spiked with a bit of spice from chili powder and then the intricacies of both coconut vinegar and vanilla salt draped carrots – oh, and don’t forget the complexity of maple and cocoa almonds – your mouth will be watering at just the thought.

Am I right?

Chili Mocha Skirt Steak with Rainbow Carrot Crunch

2 1/2 lbs. grass fed skirt steak
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs. dark coffee grounds (fresh, of course)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup coconut vinegar
1 Tbs. wheat-free tamari (or coconut aminos for a soy-free version)


1 lb. rainbow carrots, spiralized or “noodled”
1-2 tsp. vanilla salt

1/2 cup Mexican Cocoa Almonds

Chili Mocha


Combine the cocoa powder, coffee, and chili powder in a small bowl. Rub the spice/coffee mixture into the meat. Add meat and onions to the slow cooker and drizzle with coconut vinegar and tamari (add an extra tablespoon of tamari if you’re so inclined…salt fanatics such as myself quite enjoy that experience). Set on low and slow for 4-6 hours.

Just before serving, spirals the beautifully colorful carrots and steam until tender. Sprinkle with vanilla salt.

Serve the steak over the carrots and then top with the crunchy almond goodness.

Oh, and are you a wine lover? Pair this beauty with Wrangler Red. Are you a “wrangler” or are you a “cowboy?”

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