Tag Archives: lettuce

Beef Gyros


I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek food. Regardless of the season the tangy Greek flavors of feta cheese, oregano and fresh dill inspire images of sun drenched Greek beaches. And this time of year, when the weather is especially gray and dreary, I find myself longing for a Greek Island getaway. When that isn’t possible, I head to the kitchen and cook up my own Greek feast.

These gyros, adapted from Peanut Butter and Peppers, comes pretty close to channeling the Greek Island experience. Here beef is substituted for the traditional lamb (which is also delicious but sometimes difficult to find). The meat is marinated in a lemon-oregano mixture which ensures that every bite is juicy and flavorful. As a finishing touch the entire gyro is topped with Tzatziki Sauce- the yogurt, dill and cucumber sauce that Greece is famous for.

So here’s to getting your own dose of the Greek Islands. Enjoy!


For the Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup cucumber, diced small

3 tablespoons fresh dill, diced small

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

For the gyros:

1 pound beef steak tips, cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups salad greens

2 tomatoes, sliced

¼ cup feta cheese crumbles

4 pita breads

  • To make the tzatziki sauce, place the cucumber and half of the yogurt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  •  Add mixture to a medium sized bowl and stir in remaining yogurt, the dill, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  • Add additional salt, if needed  and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • To prepare the gyros, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Add the meat to a zip top bag or bowl, and pour marinade over the beef. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to 4 hours.
  • When you are ready to cook, set grill to medium low heat
  • Place the meat on the grill, (you can place meat on skewers if you prefer) and cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until they are done to your preference.
  • Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.
  • Evenly divide the meat on a pita shell, top with the salad greens, tomatoes, feta cheese and the Tzatziki Sauce.

Serves 4


Chipotle Beef & Corn Salad

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Salads make a great summer dinner but for me, they must be satisfying to eat and keep me full (so I don’t get the post-dinner munchies). We grill a lot in our household and most grilling nights I will throw an extra steak (or other protein) on the grill so I can turn it into a dinner salad for the next night. That makes the next night’s dinner even easier.

So here’s a spicy and satisfying dinner salad that I adapted from Williams Sonoma that fits the bill to a tee. The steak is mildly seasoned yet completely satisfying; you can serve it either hot off of the grill or cold. The lime juice makes the corn salsa tangy and the avocados temper the entire dish. Be forewarned: the chipolte dressing is smoky and spicy with quite a bit of heat so a little goes a long way. Of course, I love to pile the dressing on since in my mind there is rarely such a thing as too much heat.


1 flank steak, about 1 1/4 pounds

1 teaspoon adobo seasoning

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup canned chipolte chiles in adobo sauce

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon water

2 ears of corn, kernels removed

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

6 radishes, diced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

2 heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces

  • Place the steak on a plate and sprinkle the adobo seasoning, salt and pepper on both sides of the meat. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Place the meat on the grill and cook for 6-8 minutes per side or until the meat is cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  • Remove the steak from the grill and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Slice the meat into 1/2 inch slices against the grain.
  • To make the dressing, combine the chipolte chiles, the olive oil, juice of 1 lime, vinegar, garlic and water into a small bowl. Using a stick blender, puree until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the corn, orange and green peppers, radishes and tomatoes.
  • Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime over the corn mixture, add the cilantro and stir well.
  • Divide the lettuce amongst four plates. Place 3 slices of steak on top of each pile of lettuce. Add a scoop of the salsa.
  • Divide the avocado amongst the plates then drizzle the salad with the chipolte dressing.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Barbecue Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

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Are you grilling this weekend? Perhaps you are grilling up some chicken slathered in your favorite barbecue sauce. That is what we are doing to celebrate America’s birthday and introduce some of our European friends to the wonders of an American cookout. We’ll be serving hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs, and of course barbecue chicken topped with an old family recipe for a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Naturally there will be the traditional side dishes, salads and desserts as well. What would a barbecue be without lots of food?

But as I have a tendency to do no matter how many times I host an event, I over anticipate and cook too much food, resulting in a refrigerator of leftovers that need to be eaten. So what do I do with those leftovers? My favorite way to use up my barbecue chicken is to make a chicken salad. While you can use any leftover chicken you have on hand, or even buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken if you want to skip the cooking, my favorite chicken salad uses barbecue chicken. The sauce adds a nice tang to the salad and ensures that the entire dish is flavorful. Celery is added for crunch and the grapes add a surprise sweetness. You can eat the salad as is or pile it on a roll to make a sandwich. However, I love to roll up a scoop of the salad inside of a lettuce leaf. It is cool, crispy, and makes for a perfect summer lunch.


4 large lettuce leaves

4 cups cold, cubed barbecue chicken

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

2 stalks celery, diced

1 shallot, minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise, or more to taste (I like Miracle Whip)

Salt & pepper

  • Combine the chicken, grapes, celery and shallot in a large bowl.
  • Add the mayonnaise and stir well to combine. Depending upon how moist you like your salad, you may want to add additional mayonnaise.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Scoop approximately 1 1/4 cups of salad onto each of the four lettuce leaves. Roll the leaves to encase the salad and enjoy.

Serves 4


Chicken Avocado BLT Salad


Here is a substantial salad idea from Cooking Light magazine that is a dinner entrée unto itself. It is essentially a deconstructed bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich and the recipe is more of a suggested method rather than set in stone instructions. The addition of chicken and avocado make it more satisfying with or without a side of bread. (I served the salads with slices of hot garlic bread). Not only is this salad easy to make it is easy to customize dinner to meet everyone’s culinary preferences. The chicken can be served hot or cold; you could use leftover rotisserie chicken. You can also add additional toppings to make it your own; Kalamata olives or even cucumber chips would also be nice. The herbed buttermilk dressing is a nice touch but you can use other herbs depending on your likes and what you have on hand. It is really that easy.

If you want to be particularly decadent, when cooking the chicken omit the olive oil and use 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings to pan sear the chicken breasts before placing them in the oven. Cooking Light most definitely wouldn’t approve but this cook certainly does.


1 cup buttermilk, divided

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

3/4 cup panko crumbs

4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 6 wedges

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into slices

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

3 ounces crumbled blue cheese

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and the egg white in a shallow dish. Place the panko crumbs in a separate shallow dish.
  • Dip the chicken into the egg white mixture then dredge in panko.
  • Sprinkle the chicken breasts with half of the salt and half of the pepper.
  • Heat a ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat.
  • Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes per side.
  • Move the skillet to the oven and bake for 14 minutes or until done.
  • Let the chicken stand for 10 minute then slice crosswise.
  • Combine the remaining buttermilk, the remaining pepper, mayonnaise, dill and vinegar in a small bowl.
  • Place the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Chop the garlic until a paste forms, scraping with the flat side of a knife to mash it into a paste. Add to the dressing and stir well to combine.
  • Place the lettuce wedges on 6 plates. Evenly divide the chicken, avocado, and tomatoes over the top of each piece of lettuce. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the blue cheese and crumbled bacon.

Serves 6


Spicy Shrimp Chop Salad


It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Sometimes a salad is all you need for dinner.  A bed of greens provides the perfect palate for building an interesting meal.  The sky is the limit as I like to use whatever vegetables or fruits I have on hand.  And I do like to use both fruits and vegetables since the combination of sweet and savory adds a satisfying contrast.  Add a bit of protein and some bread and you have a complete and satisfying meal.


For the dressing:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Combine the vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice in a small bowl.
  • Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

For the salad:

2 cups green leafy lettuce, chopped

2 cups arugula, chopped

1 tomato

1 small red bell pepper

1 small green pepper

1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1/2 cup fresh pineapple

1/2 cup fresh corn

  • Divide the lettuce and arugula between to shallow bowls.
  • Dice the tomato, peppers, cucumber, avocado, and pineapple into uniform bite sized pieces.  Place in a large bowl. Add the corn and toss to combine.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the mixture and stir gently.
  • Evenly divide the vegetable mixture over the top of the lettuce and arugula.

For the shrimp:

1 cup raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup corn starch

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Place the cornstarch in a large plastic bag and add the shrimp.  Toss to coat.
  • In a shallow pie pan, combine the garlic powder, paprika, salt, thyme, and cayenne pepper.  Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  • Add the shrimp to the hot oil and stirring occasionally cook until browned and crispy, 2-3 minutes.
  • Divide the shrimp over the top of the prepared salads.

For the toasts:

4 slices crusty bread

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon butter

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the garlic powder and stir to combine.

Add the bread and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and toasted.

Serves 2

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