Day 65: Kale & Grilled Chicken Mediterranean Pasta

So in case you guys haven’t heard, I ADORE Costco. Like, where else can I eat a meal’s worth of free samples, pick up discounted wine coffee, and get all of my essentials to last me a few months, possibly years?? I used to think it was just for Duggar-sized families, but I was so wrong.

So much kale...
So much kale…

I try to go no more than once or twice a month, since buying in bulk can add up, but I usually come up with some random excuse just to get those samples. Well, I went this weekend and it was great; of course, the samples were on point and I scored a THREE POUND bag of kale for less than $3.50! #steal

... where'd it all go??
… where’d it all go??

The only downside? I now have three pounds of kale that I need to use in about a week. This will mean a whooooole lot of smoothies are in my future, but I also wanted to get some legit food made this week. Kale is one of those veggies that definitely tastes better after it’s been sauteed or roasted anyway, helps to get some of the bitterness out.Kale & Grilled Chicken Mediterranean Pasta | Diamonds & Bacon

Now… pasta tends to get a bad wrap because oh-no-carbs-are-bad! But honestly I’m a sucker for it and I figure if I’m using whole wheat pasta, grilled chicken, and the all powerful kale, it has to be pretty healthy. That’s how it works, right? Right?!?Kale & Grilled Chicken Mediterranean Pasta | Diamonds & Bacon


Kale and Grilled Chicken Mediterranean Pasta
Servings: 4            Total Time: 30 min

Ingredients:
For Chicken:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon pepper
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For the pasta:

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • 3 heaping handfuls of chopped kale (about 4 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large zipper bag or plastic container, combine raw chicken with all ingredients for marinade and let marinade in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes
  2. While the chicken is marinating, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add diced onion with a tsp of salt
  3. Cook onion until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes
  4. Lower heat to medium and add in minced garlic, cook until fragrant being careful not to burn, about 2-3 minutes
  5. While garlic and onions cook down, cook pasta according to package until al dente
  6. Add kale to skillet with onion and garlic, drizzle with additional olive oil and cook down until mostly wilted
  7. Once kale is mostly cooked, add in oregano and lemon zest
  8. At this point, the pasta should be done: remove it from the pot using tongs and add into skillet, reserving the pasta water in the pot
  9. Toss pasta with kale, dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1/4 cup of pasta water
  10. Lower heat to low and allow pasta to soak up flavors while you grill the chicken
  11. After letting the grilled chicken rest, chop and add to warm pasta with feta cheese
  12. The warm pasta will melt the feta juuuuust enough, so stir it up a bit and enjoy!

Day 56: Blueberry Gin Smash

First and foremost, I realized on Monday afternoon that I totally forgot to post about Father’s Day this weekend – Dad, I love you tons I promise! Sunday was just a preeeeeetty busy day, by which I mean I spent a lot of time trying to maintain my tan at the beach – but still! Between tanning, relaxing, and swimming I just didn’t have any interest time to be on the computer.

So Dad, here’s a big thank you and virtual hug to you on Father’s Day and everyday for being my hero, always having my back, and telling the best dad jokes around. Even 50 states apart, I know I can call you anytime (preferably after 12pm EST) and you’ll be there when I need you. I love you to pieces, and I am so proud to be your daughter. ❤

The funny thing about dads is they’re always full of random, interesting facts. You might not even ask, you’ll just ask one simple question that could get a yes or no answer, but good ol’ dad will launch into a 30 minute discussion about “why”. (This isn’t just my dad, right? Like all dads do this??) One day, I was just casually discussing my love of a good gin and tonic and my pops goes “you know WHY they invented gin and tonics??”Blueberry Gin Smash | Diamonds & Bacon

Well kids, long story short: explorers in Africa used to drink tonic water because it contains quinine which helps to prevent malaria. They added the gin because no one really wants to trek through treacherous jungle sober.

Now even though it’s ten trillion degrees here, I’m certainly not doing any trekking today, but I DO still want a good g&t. Something about a good gin & tonic on ice is so refreshing on a hot summer afternoon (and if you disagree, you’re wrong and not living life to the fullest). Blueberries are juuuust starting to come into season and my mint is finally starting to grow like crazy, so I figured they could only add the refresh factor in this beverage.Blueberry Gin Smash | Diamonds & Bacon

Typically I would add simple syrup to this sort of drink, but to me the tonic water and the sweeter berries I had made it sweet enough. Plus, I just really didn’t feel like standing near a hot stove at all – even if it’s just for a five minute simple syrup. I really hope you guys stay cool today, maybe hop on the gin train with me!

Cheers!
Cheers!

Blueberry Gin Smash
Serves: 1       Total Time: 3 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Small handful of blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 generous oz gin
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 1/4 cup tonic water (diet or regular)

Directions: 

  1. In a rocks glass, muddle blueberries and mint with the gin
  2. Fill cup 1/2 full (or empty, depending on the day you’re having) with crush iced
  3. Fill glass with tonic water
  4. Stir and enjoy!

Day 52: Grilled Cajun Pasta

Friiiiday! Friiiiday! Gotta get down on Friday! We made it through the week, congratulations everyone! It was a whirlwind for me getting caught up after vacation, but I think after this weekend I’ll be back into the swing of things. Granted, that also means I have to spend most of the weekend cleaning the house, running errands, and doing chores… sigh.Grilled Cajun Pasta | Diamonds & Bacon

The good news is I DID have time to go grocery shopping finally. Actually, I went to the local farmer’s market here (Dean & Don’s), which somehow just makes all the food taste better and my bill tends to be a bit less expensive. I picked up some local squash, zucchinis, red peppers, and a whole bunch of other goodness I’m sure I’ll put on here one day.Grilled Cajun Pasta | Diamonds & Bacon

Even almost a whole week later I’m still feeling pretty relaxed from my trip, so I wanted to keep things easy-breezy. One of the first things I learned to cook was pasta, so it tends to be my go-to when I want to think less and eat more. I didn’t buy any meat at the farmer’s market, so I defrosted some andouille sausage that was in the freezer and decided a lightened up Cajun pasta would be perfect for this week. To make things easier, I just cranked up the grill (again – may or may not be out of propane already…) and cooked everything in one fell swoop.

Grilled Cajun Pasta | Diamonds & Bacon      Grilled Cajun Pasta | Diamonds & Bacon

This recipe made a huge pot of pasta, which I ate all week for lunch and I still haven’t gotten sick of it. The leftovers taste great warmed up or straight from the fridge – which is pretty important when it’s 95+ degrees outside! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, stay cool, and enjoy some carbs!Grilled Cajun Pasta | Diamonds & Bacon


Grilled Cajun Pasta
Serves: 4-6     Prep Time: 10 min    Total Time: 20 min

 Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole wheat penne
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 lb andouille sausage (two large links)
  • 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning (I used Louisiana Fish Fry Products Cajun Seasoning)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, cook full pound of pasta according to package directions until pasta is al dente
  2. While pasta is cooking, preheat the grill to 350-400 degrees
  3. Cut veggies in half (removing seeds and ribs from the pepper)
  4. Toss the veggies in Cajun seasoning and olive oil – I just eyeballed the olive oil, used just enough to make sure they were evenly coated
  5. Place sausage and veggies on the grill, close lid, and cook about 5 minutes
  6. Flip and continue to cook lid down for another 2-3 minutes until sausage is fully cooked and vegetables are tender but not mushy
  7. Remove and drain pasta if you haven’t already
  8. Put pasta back in the pot, add in veggies and sausage, and toss with additional olive oil (again I eyeballed, the amount is up to how well coated you want your pasta, I’d say I probably used another tablespoon or so)
  9. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve – to yourself, your besties, your honey, and your dog (kidding! Kinda…)