Anna Maria Locke

August 2014

BBQ chicken chopped salad

August 2014AnnaComment

How is it Sunday night already? Weekends always go too fast, no matter how much or how little we have on the schedule. This weekend was a much needed low-key break from the summer craziness! Ben and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, went out for our weekly froyo trip, cleaned and organized the apartment, stopped by our local wine shop for their free Sunday tasting, and finally made it to church for the first time since .....Easter?? I'm so happy I don't have to work on Sundays any more! 

Speaking of work, I'm officially down to my last two weeks at the zoo before launching out on my own. It is exciting, surreal, and starting to kind of freak me out, but I'm doing my best to enjoy this phase of life and trust that everything will work out! I know for certain that I'm headed in the right direction, I have the support of everyone who matters in my life, I truly do believe in myself, and heck--we never really know what the future will bring so why not pursue what makes you happy? 

Nothing is for certain, so don't ever settle for a life that is leaving you aching for something more. Write down what you want to ultimately achieve, do some work, and get out of that comfort zone! I'm looking forward to blogging more and focusing on my Etsy shop which has been languishing in neglect all summer! So many exciting projects and goals that I want to transfer from my mind into reality. 

So that's my quick life update! Let's get to the recipe!

Giant "more is more" dinner salads are apparently becoming a thing in our household. They are just so fresh and tasty, and a perfect way to take advantage of all the summer produce!

Like all my recipes these days, this dinner is fast, easy, and not really a recipe at all. Just keep adding all the produce in your fridge or anything else you think might go well with the flavors! (Blue cheese? Hard boiled egg? Leftover pulled pork?) 

Salads are like a blank canvas, and I love creating delicious works of art.

Oh, and this salad is husband approved. It's extremely hearty and you can eat a ginormous portion because it's mostly veggies! The BBQ Vinaigrette is maybe the best part.

BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

Serves 3-4


-2 heads of romaine, chopped into bite size pieces

-3 chicken breasts, diced

-Seasoning for the chicken (I used a BBQ seasoning mix plus Chipotle Mrs. Dash)

-Bacon! (As much as you want. I've been loving the uncured nitrate-free thick cut bacon at Aldi!)

-1 ear of sweet corn (you can slice off the kernels raw, if it's fresh!)

-1 can white beans (or black beans)

-1 avocado


-Red onion

-Other random veggies that you love


BBQ Vinaigrette

-1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I was going to make my own, but then got lazy and used Sweet Baby Ray's)

-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg's is the best)

-2T olive oil

-a big squirt of yellow mustard

Cook the bacon until desired level of crispiness, then set aside to drain. Leave half the bacon grease in the pan, season the chicken, and saute the chicken in the hot grease until browned and cooked through. Chop all your veggies, and then shake all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar. Assemble all salad ingredients, drizzle with vinaigrette, and enjoy with a bold red wine!

black bean and summer veggie burrito bowl

August 2014AnnaComment

Happy Friday!

This week has thrown me way off schedule, but in a good way. Wednesday night Ben and I went to a Cubs game, and then yesterday I took the day off for a semi-impromptu girls day with my sister Ella! We had a jam-packed adventure in the city (which is turning into a habit...) including eating at three of my favorite restaurants, shopping, and walking 204398 miles.

This weekend Ben and I have absolutely no plans for the first time in as long as I can remember and I'm really looking forward to having a chance to organize my life/mind/apartment and just BREATHE! I'm coming up on my last two weeks at work, and I want to be able to enjoy and make the most of this once in a lifetime transitional phase instead of stressing out and feeling overwhelmed.

Anyway, that's what's up with me right now! Since life has been so crazy, dinners have been one of two things: going out, or super easy and fast concoctions at home. It's all about balance!

August is the best time of the year in terms of vegetables. Everything is in season, and it's hard not to go overboard at the farmer's market! The central Illinois small town girl inside of me has a pretty high standard for sweet corn, and I'm happy to say I found a great corn hook up here in the city. This black bean and summer veggie burrito bowl has it all, and is a great way to use up random veggies in the fridge!

Black Bean and Summer Veggie Burrito Bowl

Serves 4-6


-1 T olive oil

-one red onion, sliced

-2 ears of corn, cooked or raw

-2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed

-red cabbage, shredded

-tomatoes, chopped


-(Insert random veggies here. More is more!)

-taco seasonings (I love Mrs. Dash chipotle seasoning)


-1 lime, juiced

-plain Greek yogurt (a large dollop per serving)


Heat the olive oil in the largest pan you have. Saute the onion for 4-5 minutes, then add beans, corn, cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, and random veggies, spices, and cook until it's all warmed up. Top with cilantro, lime juice, yogurt, guacamole, and enjoy!

This bowl would also be great with some rice, or wrapped up in a tortilla as an actual burrito. And voila, you don't even need to go to Chipotle! AND you can use the money you save to grab some ice cream or froyo for dessert. That's what I would do.

salmon with warm bacon and mustard sweet potato salad

August 2014AnnaComment

Every once in a while I find or concoct a recipe that is just so delicious I want to save it to remember for later! Since I'm such a recipe hoarder, I rarely make the same thing more than once (excepting basic proteins like chicken, steak, and salmon) therefore I'm going to start posting the recipes that were a hit so I can remember to make them again! And so you can enjoy them too. All my dinner recipes are healthy, simple, and fast, perfect for busy weeknights (and then you'll have room for ice cream if it's one of those nights!)

Tonight we made a basic broiled salmon and I paired it with a warm potato salad inspired by a recipe from a Martha Stewart cookbook. I tweaked the ingredients a little bit and it turned out absolutely delicious! I love sweet potatoes and need to make them more often. They are delicious with salty bacon. Yes I'm on a bacon kick.

Salmon with Warm Bacon and Mustard Sweet Potato Salad

Serves 4


-4 wild caught Pacific salmon filets (we usually broil them straight from frozen)

-1/2 lemon

-spices to taste

Potato salad:

-3 medium sweet potatoes

-2 celery stalks, chopped

-1 or 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped

-1/4 c. red wine vinegar

-2 tsp. Dijon mustard

-1 to 2T whole grain brown mustard

-1T olive oil

Chop potatoes into 1" chunks, place in a large pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes for 10-12 minutes, until soft when pierced with a fork.

While potatoes are boiling, squeeze lemon juice over the salmon, liberally sprinkle with spices (we like Mrs. Dash lemon pepper and Old Bay), and broil until cooked through.

Combine vinegar, mustards, and olive oil in a small bowl. When potatoes are done, drain them and dump the dressing into the pot, stir to combine. Add the celery and bacon.

Serve the salmon over greens with a side of potato salad, and enjoy!!