Mother-Daughter Dinners: Summer Style

Now and then, my husband will have a late meeting or work-related event and he'll be unable to have dinner with my daughter and me. Does that mean PB&J for dinner? No way! We're both fans of lots of flavor, so we take the opportunity to blend lots of fresh foods and amazing textures for fun dishes like this:

This was a recent dinner she and I put together. Wait, you may be wondering, she helped you cook? Of course! In this case, she cleaned and prepped the greens, including picking out some edible flowers from our patio garden to include, and shook the dressing in a jar for my favorite kind of quick-style salad topping. We had a great time making dinner together and an even greater time eating it! About halfway through her meal, she paused and suggested we should make it again sometime when Daddy would be home. This is how plans get made.

Combining a bunch of great ingredients for both the breading and the dressing in this salad allowed us to make the salad itself incredibly simple. It was a mix of our favorite gourmet greens and a light sprinkling of edible flower blossoms. My daughter has become very interested in gardening and she's in charge of a collection of edible flowers on our patio this summer and they've found their way into many a salad. Pro-tip: Getting kids involved and invested in your food is a great way to say goodbye to picky eaters!

It was a warm day when we enjoy these salads, so we completed the meal pretty simply. We had a few slices of juicy watermelon and glasses of iced tea (for me) and lemonade (for her). Dessert was about as simple as it gets with a scoop of ice cream enjoyed on the aforementioned patio. Summer can be a treat, no matter who is or isn't at the table. Try your hand at making dinner special, even if (and maybe especially because) not everyone is there.

Coconut Chicken Salads with Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1/4 c. flaked coconut
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. panko
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 T. canola oil, for frying
  • 8-10 oz. mixed gourmet salad greens - even better if you have some flower petals in the mix!
  • 1 T. sweet honey mustard
  • 1 tsp. spicy mustard
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. plain lowfat yogurt
  • Olive oil, for thinning - optional

Combine the coconut, garlic, paprika, salt, and black pepper in a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle. Process as needed to form a fine seasoning mixture. Using a fork, combine this mixture with the panko and place in a small, shallow dish. Carefully dredge the chicken strips in the mixture and fry in a medium-sized pan in the canola oil. Use medium or medium-high heat. Too much heat will burn the breading easily. Remove the pieces of chicken to a plate to drain a little.

Arrange the mixed gourmet salad greens on 2 serving plates. Carefully arrange the cooked chicken over the greens.

Combine the remaining ingredients (sweet honey mustard through olive oil, if your dressing is too thick) in a small jar with a lid. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to combine. This is an excellent job for a youngster in the kitchen, by the way. Once the dressing is of the consistency you prefer, drizzle it lightly over your salads and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes