Tastes Like Summer: Grilled Chicken and Pasta Salad With Fresh Strawberries, Basil and Gouda Cheese


Wow! What a crazy week this has been! I feel like I have not been able to keep up. Which means my food choices have not been the greatest this week.

Today, I finally had a chance to get out and do some real grocery shopping. I have three stores that I tend to do my shopping at. Costco for the bulk stuff, Trader Joe’s for the unique stuff and wine and Fred Meyer (Kroger’s) for the staples.

My last stop for the day was at Trader Joe’s where they were doing some wine tasting. They had this wonderful Grenache Rose’ wine from the Rouge Valley in Oregon. A dry French style Rose’ that was deliciously fruity and bursting with flavors of strawberry, citrus and light floral notes.

I grabbed a couple of bottles ( A steal at $7.99 a bottle) and decided that this would be my inspiration for tonight’s meal.


Since it was a beautiful warm sunny day, a nice light salad would be the perfect fix. I had already purchased a container of fresh strawberries at Costco, I just needed to roam the aisles for further inspiration.

On one of the end caps they had a display with this gorgeous, colorful pasta. Pasta salad it is! Perfetto!


I picked up a few other ingredients that I thought would go nicely in my salad. Cheese, of course, fresh basil and some chicken breast.

Back at home, I pour a glass of wine and create. This salad ended up being the perfect compliment to the Rose’ that I had bought. Make it a day ahead for the perfect weeknight summer meal or pack it up for your next picnic outing.


For the Grilled Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup Grenache rose’ wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh shallot
  • 1 clove minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast

Place chicken breasts in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Seal bag and message around until marinade coats all of the chicken. marinate for at least 1 hour. Remove chicken from marinade and grill over a medium flame until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees when thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from heat and let chicken rest 10-15 minutes before serving. this allows juices to redistribute throughout the chicken. Once chicken has rested slice and serve with pasta salad.

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 1 pound multi-colored spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup torn fresh basil, washed and patted dry
  • 1/3 pound aged Gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, quartered into slivers
  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente’. Drain cooked pasta and cool with cold running water. Toss with a little olive oil to prevent from sticking. In a large bowl combine cooled pasta, shallots, strawberries, basil, cheese and olives. In another bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over pasta salad and toss to coat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

To serve:

Place some of the pasta salad into individual bowls top with some sliced grilled chicken and fresh basil sprig.






Home Run! Potato Salad


We are in the midst of baseball season! Who’s your favorite team? I honestly don’t have one, but being only a few hours away from Seattle, I would love to see the Mariners play.

For me, it’s about summer get together’s with friends and sharing yummy food and drinks.

Potato salad has always been a fan favorite to serve at BBQ’s, sporting events, picnics and other summer gatherings.

I was recently asked if I would cater a baseball themed shower in July and this will be one of the items on the menu. Hence the name “home run” potato salad. (I will share the rest of the menu and pics mid July)

I created this simple potato salad a few years back and it always gets rave reviews. I hope you enjoy! Memorial Day weekend is only a few days away.


Home Run Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 3 hard cooked eggs, finely chopped
  • 1 cup good quality mayonnaise (Best foods or Hellman’s)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic ( Not garlic salt or garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Wash potatoes well and cut into uniform sized pieces. Steam potatoes until soft and then lay out on a sheet pan and cool in fridge or freezer. ( I like to steam the potatoes rather than boil because they don’t soak up the water and become soggy)

To cook eggs perfectly, place in a pan of cold water. Bring to a boil. Cover and turn off heat. Let sit covered 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cooled. Peel and chop fine.

Place chopped egg, celery and scallion in a large bowl. Add cooled potatoes. In another bowl whisk together mayonnaise, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Add to potato mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Adjust seasonings if needed.




Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake


I started out with the intention of making a banana bread recipe since I had a few overripe bananas on the counter. But when I went to use them they were a bit too far gone, so change of plan.

I had just bought some strawberries at the store the day before, and thought, why not make something with that instead.


So I put some dry ingredients together and then went to grab the eggs from the fridge….. Dang! Not enough eggs. This is not starting out well. I set the dry ingredients aside and decided I better make a list to take to the store tomorrow so that I don’t forget anything else.

I feel like I’ve had to stop by the store every day this week because I keep forgetting one thing or another! I need to get better at making a list.

Anyway, I finally have what I need to complete this recipe. I decided that, instead of a bread, I would make a coffee cake. Kind of a cross between a bread and a cake.

I must say that it turned out quite delicious. I had a piece with my coffee this morning and another for dessert after dinner. It’s addicting!  Definitely worth that extra trip to the store………again.

Move over banana bread, there’s a new coffee cake in town!

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I a mixing bowl sift together dry ingredients. Add eggs and melted butter and mix until combined. Fold in chopped strawberries. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Batter will be thick. Spread evenly in pan.


Bake at 350 degree for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake. Let cool thoroughly before serving. To serve, you can sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with freshly whipped cream or just as is. Enjoy!