Tag Archives: balsamic

Gluten-Free Main Meal Seafood

Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes

We just got back from a weekend trip to Chicago to visit family and friends. Unfortunately, the weather gods hated us, and it rained every day of our trip…and because we were stuck inside all day, our weekend turned into an eating extravaganza.

Now, as a food-lover, I really shouldn’t complain because everything we ate was delicious…but let’s just say I am ready for a detox. There is only so much deep-dish pizza, burgers, and pasta my tummy can handle.

Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

I am excited to get back into my healthy groove this week. On the menu: lots of lean proteins and vegetables. This Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes hits all the marks: protein-packed, flavorful, healthy, and weeknight fast!

Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

We love this dish so much, we made it twice in one week. I find my barramundi filets in the frozen section at Whole Foods. If you can’t find them, halibut or another mild white fish would work just as well for this recipe.

Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

One important word of advice: DON’T skimp on the basil at the end. It makes every bite delectable and this dish couldn’t be the same without it.



Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 (6-ounce) barramundi fillets
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ cup chopped fresh basil
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan. Sprinkle fish with a pinch each of the salt and pepper.
  2. Add fish to pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side, until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fish from pan and keep warm.
  3. Add remaining Tablespoon of oil to pan. Add cherry tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Next, add the balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 more minute or until tomatoes begin to burst. Stir in half of the basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve tomato mixture with fish. Garnish with additional basil.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Gluten-Free Salad

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette


Basil. Basil. Basil.

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasil! Just a small whiff of this delightful herb makes me so darn happy. Doesn’t it just remind you of summer? If I could, I would probably put fresh basil on everything. Yes, even in sweet treats! Have you ever had strawberry-basil ice cream? It is INCREDIBLE.

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

I purchased a large bunch of fresh basil at Whole Foods this weekend with the intention of using it in a summer pasta dish this week. Luckily, I had so much extra so I was able to experiment a bit with a basil vinaigrette. We eat a lot of salads in our house, so we like to change up the dressings fairly regularly to prevent eating the same thing all the time.

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

I’ve always loved the combination of tomato + basil + mozzarella + balsamic, so I knew those flavors would make a delicious vinaigrette (minus the mozzarella, of course….that would be weird). I never thought to put tomatoes in a vinaigrette before, but we had a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes sitting on our counter, so I thought, “Why not?” and just went for it.

The result? A serious winner!

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

This dressing is slightly chunky, so you end up with delicious tastes of basil and tomato in every bite. I served it with a simple salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, roasted red pepper, and feta, but I think it would taste great with almost anything you can throw together!


Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons shallot, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. In a mini food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, basil, shallot, garlic, dijon, balsamic, and honey. Blend for about 30 seconds. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender half way through and continue blending. Add the olive oil and blend for about 10 more seconds or until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Eats Lately

What I Ate Thursday

I love when bloggers share their daily eats because I always get inspired with new meal and snack ideas. Today, I am jumping on that bandwagon and showing you what I ate Thursday!

Yesterday morning, my alarm clock went off at 5AM and I forced myself out of bed. After quickly getting ready, I ran to the gym and conquered a tough back and bicep workout. By the time I got home, my body was HUNGRY, so after a speedy shower I rushed to the kitchen to make this delicious protein shake:

Protein Shake

In the mix was: 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 3 large ice cubes, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop chocolate egg-white protein powder, and 2 teaspoons of instant coffee. I love adding instant coffee to my morning shakes now because I get a good dose of protein and caffeine all at once! I chugged half of the shake and brought the rest in the car with me to finish on my way to work.

Protein Shake - Little Chef Big Appetite

A few hours later, my tummy started rumbling, so I grabbed a Kind Bar from my desk drawer (where I stash all my snacks!) I am hooked on this flavor, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein = YUM!

Kind Bar - Little Chef Big Appetite

For lunch I had a delicious salad that I packed and photographed the night before. I combined pulled chicken breast from the slow cooker, sliced strawberries, apples, toasted pecans, and a delicious new balsamic vinegar to create this bad boy. (All of this was thrown into plastic tupperware to transport to work).

Lunch Salad - Little Chef Big Appetite

As I was taking these pictures on Wednesday evening, I found the best lighting was actually on our living room floor, so Bessie ran over to get in on the action. She was incredibly well-behaved. Instead of lunging at the chicken, she just sat patiently waiting for me to pet her. I was shocked! What dog sees chicken in a bowl on the floor and doesn’t think it is for them? Little Bessie is getting pretty darn smart…

Salad and Bessie - Little Chef Big Appetite

Around 4 o’clock on Thursday my usual hunger rolled in, so I grabbed a quick snack of plain Greek Yogurt with blueberries and my Cardamom Granola. I pretty much eat this combo every day now and I am far from sick of it!

Greek Yogurt - Little Chef Big Appetite

Travis was out for a work event last night and by the time I got home I had no desire to cook myself a “real” meal, so I ended up having breakfast for dinner. I made my favorite protein pancakes and topped them with Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. No complaints here. I was a happy camper!

Protein Pancakes - Little Chef Big Appetite

Looking back on it, almost everything I ate yesterday was “breakfast” type food. Not that I care because that is my favorite meal of the day!

Well, that about sums it up. What was your favorite meal you ate yesterday?



Please note: I am not a registered dietitian. What works for my diet may or may not work for yours. Please consult your doctor with any nutrition or diet concerns.

Side Dish Vegan

Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic, Thyme, and Rosemary

I have a problem.

No, it’s not about my kitchen failures or my addiction to peanut butter. It’s about real life things.

My problem is stress — that stupid, awful, nagging, sensation that gets in your way and makes your head feel like it is going to explode.

You see, I overwhelm myself. Totally unnecessarily, too. If I know a have a few REALLY busy days ahead, my mind freaks out into this “AH-WHAT-ARE-YOU-GOING-TO-DO!?” kinda way. My body freezes up and makes it impossible for me to focus on any one thing because I am too busy worrying about the next thing I have to do.

I know, I know, one step at a time. But, it’s hard, you know?

You get it. You stress too. You may just not be as crazy as me. Maybe you’re worse…

How do we stop? How do we make time to do all that we need to do in a day AND all of the other necessary little things. You know, like go to the gym, call our moms, cook a delicious dinner, ask our friends how they are doing…

Well, I am starting to figure it out a little bit. Last week, in the middle of all my craziness, when I wanted to focus on X and could only think about XYZQW!!!!, I roasted some vegetables. The reason was twofold. One: I needed to get away from my computer and forget about life and two: these veggies were pretty much the only thing I had left in my fridge (and god forbid I take any extra time to go to Trader Joes).

Since I can’t just shut my brain off (Google, can you invent something for that?), I cook.

What do you do?

Can we help each other out a little bit?

It’ll be good — I’ll tell you how to cook these delicious “stress-free” veggies and you…oh you know, you’ll buy me a massage, pour me a glass of wine, and listen to my crazy head…

Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic, Thyme, and Rosemary Recipe

This works for you, right?

You’re a good friend. I’m glad I have you.

Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic, Thyme, and Rosemary Recipe



Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic, Thyme, and Rosemary
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2-3
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2-3 handfuls baby carrots
  • 1 medium bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into large pieces (about 2-3”)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine all of the vegetables, olive oil, balsamic, thyme and rosemary. Stir well.
  3. Spread the vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet in one even layer. (If there is extra oil at the bottom of your bowl, do not pour this onto the baking sheet. It will make the vegetables soggy and they will take longer to cook). Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring the vegetables with a spatula every 15 minutes.

Gluten-Free Poultry Salad

Balsamic Chicken and Apple Salad

I decided to make you a salad.

I decided you should know that I don’t just eat PB&J Muffins and really really yummy granola bars. I eat real food, too. Sometimes.

Sometimes I get in ruts, though. When I am rushed for time and don’t feel like learning a new recipe, I make the same damn things over and over. Then favorite recipes turn into bland, unexciting meals.

This recipe was passed along to me from a friend who told me it was amazing. They were right. I made the marinade in less than 5 minutes before class yesterday and let the chicken marinate ALL.DAY.

The chicken was out of the fridge and onto my plate in less than 10 minutes. More importantly, it was juicy, flavorful, and something different to add to my routine.

Salad with Balsamic Chicken and Apples Recipe

I will definitely make this again…

and again…

and again…

I think you’re starting to understand me now.


Balsamic Chicken 

For 2 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

In a bowl, mix together the balsamic, dijon, brown sugar, thyme, and rosemary. Add the chicken and cover completely with the marinade (or place the marinade and chicken in a plastic bag). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight (the longer the MUCH better!)

When ready to cook the chicken, heat a medium skillet on medium-high heat and add a drop of olive oil. When the oil is hot add the chicken and marinade to the pan.  Cook the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side (until it is cooked through), and then remove the chicken and let it rest on a plate. Let the sauce continue to simmer until it is at your desired thickness.

Assemble a salad using any lettuce of your choice. Place the chicken on top and use the sauce in your pan as your dressing.  Apple slices are a great addition, but raisins, bell pepper, or candied walnuts would be yummy as well.

** This chicken and sauce also tastes great with brown rice.