Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rice and Noodle Pilaf w/Edamame and Scallops

I had made this recipe which came from our local newspaper's "Food Section" sometime last year.  And it is good.  The original recipe calls for shrimp, but I had some bay scallops in the freezer which I thought might make a nice substitution.  They were.

This recipe calls for Canadian Bacon.  I don't use CB much, but it does freeze quite well.  In a pinch, you could always you bacon.  I just love fresh dill and edamames are just about my favorite vegetable.   A really, really nice, quick, tasty dinner.  The original recipe calls for grilling the shrimp, but I'm just about the biggest advocate of roasting shrimp, so I did this will the scallops.  The recipe below reflects how I prepared the scallops.  I served it simply with a whole-grain roll.


1/2 Tbsp + 1 tsp EVOO
1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
8 oz bay scallops (or raw shrimp, deveined and peeled)
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 oz Canadian Bacon, finely chopped
6 Tbsp fine egg noodles, broken up
6 Tbsp instant brown rice
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame (in a pinch you could substitute baby lima beans)
3/4 cup chicken broth
S&P to taste
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus a few sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 400.

In a bowl, whisk together 1 tsp olive oil and lemon juice.  Add the scallops (or shrimp), toss to coat, set aside.

In a large saucepan or small Dutch oven over medium heat, add the remaining 1/2 tsp of oil.  Add the onion and bacon and saute until the onion becomes translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add the noodles and rice and cook, stirring often, until the noodles begin to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Add the edamame and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer covered, for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime. place the scallops or shrimp on a lined baking sheet (sprayed with cooking spray) and roast for 5-7 minutes, or until done.  (The original recipe calls for grilled the shrimp.)

Remove the pilaf from the heat and let stand, covered, for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the dill.  Season with S&P.  Plate the pilaf and top with roasted/grilled shrimp or scallops.  Garnish wtih dill sprigs.

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Corn Salad

I am now officially counting down the days until the end of summer.  I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We are, however, still up in the 90's this week, but we've actually had a couple of really cool mornings (I put on a jacket the other day!)

But, it is still hot so I am still sticking to salads and grilled foods.  This is a repeat recipe, but it is so good it is worth repeating.  And easy.  One of the few reasons I can appreciate summer.


Shelled, deveined, uncooked shrimp (I used 24 {31-40 count} shrimp)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
pinch cayenne
1/2 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can (11 oz) white and yellow corn, drained
10-15 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
one head of romaine, chopped
a handful of romaine, chopped (optional, but what an incredible addition)
large tortilla chips, for garnish

Rinse shrimp.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Place in a ziplock bag.  Whisk together olive oil, lime, cilantro, cumin, salt, and cayenne.  Put 3 Tbsp of dressing in ziplock with shrimp.  Refrigerate at least one hour (mine sat for about 6 hours).  Combine beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and remaining dressing  Refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Now at this point, the recipe instructs you to skewer the shrimp and grill until cooked.  However, I prefer to roast the shrimp in a 400 degree oven for about 6 minutes.  Perfection!

To serve, toss romaine into bean mixture.  Spoon onto serving plates.  Top with shrimp.  Garnish with chips.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Well, it's been exactly one year since I started this blog.  Oh, and what a year it's been!  This blog is called, afterall, The Fulton Girls.  Which means it's supposed to be about our girls.  Pauline (the cat, age 16 1/2), Spot and Muffin (ages 12 1/2), and Lindie, somewhere around 5 years old, we have no idea.

And these girls are aging, but then, aren't we all?  OK, I have to admit, Pauline has never been our favorite cat.  And we've had some good ones.  My bestest buddy, Sooner, lived to be 18.   And Asta, who had a never-ending engine, had just about as many good years.  And who could forget Chester the Molester?  Such a character!!!!!  Sweet little Joneva, the tiniest girl you ever saw.   We will all be together forever.

But, we are definitely in the twilight years of three of our girls.  Even though Spot and Muffin promised me to live to be 30-years-old (people years), we must be realistic. And Paulina has dwindled from 14 pounds last year to less than 10 pounds this year.  And my Sweetheart says he feels Spot and Muffin are thinning out as well.  Just the thought of it makes me weepy.  After all, they promised me, right?

Here in Chattanooga, I think we are finally starting to see the end of this horrid summer heat.  I actually sat out on the back porch trying to finish the best-seller "The Help."  Under 90 degrees, low humidity, a really nice breeze.  I'm just about to the end of the book and such a tale it is.  I cannot wait to finish it, just like I cannot wait for this long, hot summer to end.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Brownies on Steroids

These are not for the faint-of-heart.  One bite is worth about 6 months of chocolateness.  Brownies topped with peanuts and melted Reese's peanut butter cups, then topped with a Rice-Krispy-treat made with chocolate and peanut butter.  Have 911 on the speed dial.


1 batch brownies (boxed mix)
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped (if you don't have salted, add some kosher salt)
1 cup chopped Reese's peanut butter cups
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp butter
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Mix brownies according to directions, but underbake a bit (20-25 minutes) in a 9x13 baking dish.  Remove from the oven and top with chopped peanuts and peanut butter cups and bake for 4-6 minutes.

While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter.  Stir in cereal.  Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.  Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Buttermilk Dressing

This is a duplicate recipe.  I think.  For the life of me I cannot find where I previously posted this but I'm so certain I did.  If anyone out there can help me put a "Search" button on this blog, I'd appreciate your help.

OK, but back to the recipe.  This may be one of the original "Ranch" dressing recipes, from an old Betty Crocker cookbook.  Make this dressing and you will never buy bottled Ranch Dressing again.  So so good.  Not just as a salad dressing, but as a basic dip recipe.  I am forever in a fight to lighten a recipe.  Originally I made this using reduced-fat mayo.  While it was good on that first day, by the second day it became completely runny.  On a hunch, I tried it again using half regular mayo and half reduced-fat mayo.  PERFECT!!!  The same deliciousness of a full-fat dressing and it also kept for at least a month.  So, I was able to lighten it by half but the flavor didn't suffer one single bit.  Goodness this stuff is good!


3/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp dried minced onion (I go a little heavy on this)
1/2 tsp salt (I use kosher)
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 clove (tsp) minced garlic (I go a bit heavy on this, also)

Mix all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors.  Cover and refrigerate.  Will keep for at least a month.

For Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing:  Add 1/3 cup grated Parm and 1/2 tsp paprika

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scallops w/Creamy Bacon Corn Sauce

Thank you, Publix!  Another fantastic recipe!  A great recipe during the height of corn season, but even during the middle of winter, those frozen niblet cobs would work wonderfully well, also.  I'll list the recipe as Publix posted it, however, I cannot imagine adding a tablespoon of blackening seasoning!  That would probably send both Jim and I to the emergency room.  But, to each their own!


3 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 lb sea scallops, thawed
4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
8 oz tomato trinity mix (fresh diced tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers)
1 Tbsp blackening seasoning (to taste.....I only used about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 Tbsp chives, for garnish

Remove corn husks and silks; slice kernels off cobs (2-3 cups) into medium bowl.  Scrape cobs with back of knife to release remaining juices.

Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Season scallops with S&P.  Place oil in pan, then add scallops; cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden, opaque, and firm.  Remove pan from heat; transfer scallops to plate and cover to keep warm.

Cut bacon into small pieces (using kitchen shears) while adding to same pan (wash hands); cook 3-4 minutes or until crisp.  Drain bacon fat, reserving one tablespoon in pan.  Stir in trinity mix; cook 2-3 minutes or until soft.  Combine blackening seasoning, half-and-half, and corn; add to pan.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3-4 more minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Transfer corn mixture to serving dish; top with scallops and chives.  Serve.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fruited Chicken Salad

Another easy chicken salad for these still steamy summer evenings.


3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 8 oz can pineapple tidbits
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup mayo
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vinegar (I used cider)
salt to taste

Mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad ingredients.  Toss to coat.  Refrigerate until serving.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Strawberry Lime Cream Cake


Today is my sweetheart's birthday so I wanted to find something special to make.  This man prefers white cakes so when I ran across this recipe, I just had to try it.  First of all, it's a real looker, especially if (unlike me) you have a knack for creating beautiful cakes.  And secondly, this is an incredibly wonderful cake for hot weather.  The cake itself is so genuinely good, and then you layer it with with a strawberry puree and some lime cream.  And then frost it with a whipped cream icing.  Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

Now, it looks like there are a lot of steps, but if you try this (and I hope you do), plan on starting a day or two ahead and doing a bit here and there, and then you can put it all together pretty quickly.  After completely assembling, you'll want to refrigerate the cake for a couple of hours so the frosting will set.  Personally, next time I make it, I will make the lime cream and strawberry puree two days before, the cake and frosting the day before (or early morning for a dinner dessert).  Assembly will be much quicker with less clean up.

For me, my misstep was the lime cream.  I couldn't really get it to whip up into peaks, I think I may have had a bit too much lime juice.  But by experiment, I put the leftover (most of it!) cream in the frig and today it was much thicker and would have spread much better if I had only made it and let it sit for a day.  However, for the birthday boy's cake, I just served some of it on the side, a dollop for each bite.  And you must have this lime cream with the cake.  Oh so good.  As is the strawberry puree.  And the cake.  And the frosting.


White Cake:
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.  Add the egg whites and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the batter into 2 greased and floured 9" round cake pans (I use Baker's Joy cooking spray).  Bake the cakes for 28-30 minutes (mine took a few minutes longer, maybe 32-25 minutes) until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs.  Don't overbake or the cakes will be dry.  Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Loosen the sides with a butter knife and remove the cakes from the pan to cool completely.

Strawberry Puree:
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Lime Cream:
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (4-6 limes), zest before juicing
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Zest and juice the limes into a medium bowl.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix well.  Add the whipping cream and beat until medium-stiff peaks form.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Whipped Cream Frosting:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 envelope (about 2 tsp) unflavored gelatin
4 Tbsp water

In a small bowl, place the water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top.  Let the mixture stand for 3-4 minutes until the gelatin has thickened.  Microwave for 20-30 seconds until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture is warm.  Remove from the microwave and let the mixture cool to room temperature (don't let it set up!)  In a large bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until slightly thickened.  While beating slowly, gradually add the cooled gelatin to the whipped cream mixture.  Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the cake, slice each cooled cake round in half horizontally to form 4 cake circles.  Place on cake layer on a cake plate and spread an even layer of strawberry puree over the top.  Spread a thick layer of lime cream over the puree, leaving a 1/2" border around the edge as the top cake layers will press the cream out toward the edges.  Repeat the same layering process with the next two layers.  Top with the final cake layer (do not top with puree or lime cream) and frost the entire cake with the whipped cream frosting.  Garnish with fresh lime slices and halved strawberries.  Chill for 1-2 hours before serving to let the cake set up.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Twix Cookies

I have made several different cookies using candy bars.  And not a one of them bad!  This combination of chocolate, caramel, and shortbread is no exception.  A wonderful cookie with a surprise in every bite!


2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped Twix bars

Preheat oven to 325.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.  Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Gently stir in the Twix chunks.

(At this point, I refrigerate the dough overnight).  Roll the dough into balls and bake on a lined baking sheet for 15-18 minutes (I weighed mine out at 18 grams).

Allow the cookies to cool for ten minutes before removing them off the baking sheet.  This recipe made about 5 dozen cookies for me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rattlesnake Pasta

Here's another repeat.  And for a reason.  Oh so good!!!  This is a copycat recipe my neighbor created for J. Alexander's "Rattlesnake Pasta."  I've had both and let me tell you, her version leave J. A's in the dust.  The secret is the cilantro.  Now if you have the cilantro-soap gene like I do, you might question this.  But heat-processing cilantro for even just a few minutes completely transforms this dish.  It adds an incredible depth of flavor. 

Outside of the incredible taste, a few more of the pluses to this dish are the simplicity, the presentation, and the added benefit that it gets better after sitting.  Translation:  make this dish ahead of time, let it chill, then reheat to really bring the flavor up.  I simply serve this with a crusty baguette and a nice glass of wine for a wonderful dinner.

RATTLESNAKE PASTA (3-4 servings)

8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into about 1/2" bites, seasoned with seasoned salt and a bit of cayenne
1 tsp minced garlic
3 oz (3/4 cup) sweet peppers, very finely julienned (I like to use red, orange, and yellow peppers for color)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
16 oz (2 cups) alfredo sauce, homemade or jarred
6 oz bow-tie pasta, or shape of your choice, cooked al dente (especially if you are going to reheat later)

In a large skillet, heat a bit of canola oil or spray hot pan with cooking spray.  Cook chicken and garlic until done.  Add peppers, onion, and cilantro.  Cook until peppers are crisp-tender.  Add alfredo sauce until heated.  Add pasta. Heat throughout.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Espresso Mint Cookies

OK, I posted this recipe last year.  And if I had to choose only one cookie that I had to pick to eat for the rest of my life, I think this would be the one.  But there is one caveat, perhaps making this an extra-special cookie, and that is that the essential ingredient is only available seasonally.  If that.

I ran across these Hershey Kisses last winter.  I don't know if these were only available last year, or if this will be an annual seasonal kiss for Hershey's.  Oh, I am keeping my fingers crossed.  Once I discovered this recipe and these kisses, I stocked up.  After this batch of cookies, I am down to four bags.  I hope Jim's office is grateful, they are definitely receiving a very special cookie.

ESPRESSO MINT COOKIES  (makes about 3 dozen cookies)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp KOSHER salt (1/4 tsp if using regular table salt)
1 3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp instant espresso granules (found in the coffee aisle next to instant coffee)
1 package (8 oz)  Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Cream the butter and sugars.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture.  Stir in the chopped Kisses (this is a pretty dry dough...I used my (CLEAN) hands to mix up the dough and the Kisses.

Drop by heaping tablespoons (18 grams) onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 11-13 minutes until golden around the edges, but still a bit soft in the middle.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp

I love this dish.  Love, love, love it.  The original recipe (listed below) calls for Thai red curry paste.  I've always made it using the paste (which can be a bit spicy, you may want to cut it down a bit), but I have a couple of bottles of Red-Curry Coconut Sauce I picked up on my last trip to Central Market and thought I try that.  It was perfect (I halved the recipe and used 2 Tbsp of the sauce)!!!  Much less heat than the paste, and just a bit extra coconut flavor.  This is such a fast, delicious, beautiful dish.  You can't go wrong with either the paste or the sauce.  I served this on jasmine rice and with an artichoke.


1 tsp oil
4 scallions, white and greens separated, chopped
1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 oz coconut milk
2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high.  Add scallion whites and red curry paste and saute one minute.  Add shrimp and garlic, season with salt and cook about 2-3 minutes.  Add coconut milk, fish sauce, and mix well.  Simmer about 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is cooked through.  Remove from heat, mix in scallion greens and cilantro.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ranch Chicken Kabobs

I have really gotten into a "Kabob" mode lately.  A different way to use the grill, I suppose after these last few months of such hot weather.  Regardless, they've all turned out wonderfully, pretty, and fun to eat.  We both love grilled vegetables and this chicken recipe is simply a new spin on an old favorite.  A great meal to cook when you simply don't want to heat up your kitchen!


1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp dry rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

Stir together marinade ingredients.  Place chicken in bowl and pour marinade over, make sure all the chicken pieces are coated.  Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to med-high.  Thread chicken on metal skewers and discard marinade.  Lightly oil grill grates.  Grill kabobs for 8-12 minutes or until no longer pink in center and juices run clear.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spicy Beans

I was looking for a bean dish to serve with Mexican food last week.  I ran across this recipe on ThePioneerWoman blog and boy! did it ever fit the bill.  Not just a good side dish for Mexican food, but with other dishes.  Tonight we're having a garden vegetable dinner (tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini) with cornbread and I have a bit of beans leftover which will work wonderfully.  Ree (the pioneer woman) does not overnight-soak her beans, just puts them on the stove ready to go.  I'm old school, so I did do the "bring beans to a boil, remove from heat, keep covered for one hour, rinse, and then start cooking" process.

I have been looking for a recipe like this for the longest time.  It will definitely be a staple in our home from here on out.

SPICY BEANS (NOTE: I cut this recipe in half, using about 2 cups/8 oz pintos, and some cubed ham used for seasoning)

4 cups dry pinto beans
1 whole ham hock
1 whole onion, diced
2 whole red peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tsp)
2 whole jalapenos, sliced (I seeded mine for less heat)
2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp chili powder (optional)
2 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Rinse beans under cold water, sorting out any rocks/particles.

Place beans in a stock pot with the ham hock and cover with water by 2".  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the water level is fine.  Add more water as needed (don't overdo it, though, you'll eventually want a bit of "bean gravy").

Then throw in diced onion, red bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno.  Cover and continue cooking for another hour or two, remembering to check the water level.

Add salt, chili powder (if desired) and pepper, then cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until beans are tender.  Serve with cornbread as a meal, or spoon on top of nachos, tacos, etc.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oven Fried Fish Sticks and Homemade Tartar Sauce

This is so good, so easy, and so affordable!  We do love our fish around here, baked, broiled, grilled, it just doesn't matter.  Here's another delicious way to serve it.  The fish recipe came from and the tartar sauce recipe is courtesy of The Joy of Cooking.  I cut the recipe in half using just 3/4 pound of catfish costing under $5.


About 1 1/2 pounds firm filleted fish, like cod, pollock, swordfish, or catfish
1 1/2 cups milk, buttermilk, or yogurt (I use buttermilk)
Bread crumbs, preferably fresh, for dredging (I use Panko)
3 Tbsp melted butter or EVOO
Lemon wedges or sauce of your choice for serving

Cut the fish into sticks and 1/2" thick; soak in the milk while you heat the oven to 450.  Put the bread crumbs on a plate and sprinkle with S&P.

When the oven is hot, pull the fish from the milk and let it drain a bit.  Dredge the still-wet fish in the bread crumbs, patting them to make sure they adhere.  Drizzle a little of the butter or oil over the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan or large rimmed baking sheet, then lay the fish sticks in the pan.  Drizzle with the remaining butter or oil.

Bake near the top of the oven for about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness; the fish will be crisp on the outside and tender and opaque when done (NOTE:  I turned the broiler on for the last few minutes to crisp-up the Panko crumbs).  Serve immediately.


1 cup mayo
1 hard-cooked egg, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chopped drained sweet pickle relish
1 Tbsp chopped drained capers
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley (or other herb, such as tarragon or chives)
1 Tbsp chopped green olives (optional)
1 tsp Dijon
1 tsp minced shallot
cayenne or hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)
S&P to taste
Wine vinegar or freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad w/Sweet and Spicy Dressing

OK, I have been fiddling with corn and black bean salad all summer.  I haven't been disappointed in a single one, and this one is no exception.  As with the others, the beauty of these ingredients are how adaptable they are.  I'm going to list the recipe exactly how I found it, but here's what I did to adapt it to what I had in my frig and pantry.    I cut the recipe in half, using equal amounts of white and brown/wild rice blend.  I used one whole can of black beans, eliminating the pintos.  I left out the chicken, and added red onions instead of green, and I chopped up some cilantro and parsley to add the green splash of color.  Oh, and some diced red pepper.

I will definitely up the amount of lime juice.....this dressing really makes the salad.  I only used about half the dressing to dress the salad, and served the other half on the side, so each person can add as much (or little) as they like. 

I love having a new use for leftover rice other than fried rice.  This, or another variation, will definitely be in the frig for the rest of the summer.


5 cups cooked rice, warm or at room temp (white, brown, wild rice or a combination)
2 tsp salt
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1 (12-oz) can corn, drained
4 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup fresly-squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
4-5 pickled jalapeno pepper rounds (found in the glass jars in the pickle/olive section of your market)
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin

Combine all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients in blender until peppers are finely minced.  Toss with salad.  Serve warm or at room temp.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Greek Salad

Still grillin' and salad makin'!  I'm trying so hard to make a varying menu during the week that I oftentimes forget some of my favorite, fundamental salads.  Like this greek salad.  I've been making this salad for 25 years and love it every single time.  And with tomato/cucumber season in full bloom, I always have everything on hand to make it at the last minute.  Add some leftover grilled chicken if you are so inclined.

GREEK SALAD (serves 2)

1 small head romaine, chopped
about 10-12 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4-1/2 green pepper, thinly slices
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
about 1/2 cup olives (black, Kalamata, oil-cured)
fresh dill, chopped (optional)
feta cheese

2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4-1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2-1 tsp minced garlic
salt, to taste (I don't use it, I find the feta salty enough)

Whisk the dressing together.  Toss the salad ingredients, add dressing.  Serve with a crusty baguette.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce

The tomatoes are in!!!  Jim brought home a big bag of tomatoes courtesy of Jamie (from work).  Thank you, Jamie!  And ours are almost ripe on the vine.  I had made a big batch of salsa last summer so I wondered what I could use these for.  I decided on marinara.  Now I love the 5 Minute Marinara (see February 4th post), but I wanted something a bit different using garden-fresh tomatoes.  I found this recipe on  You throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar at the very end for a really nice, different, complex flavor.  A wonderful way to use those extra summer tomatoes.


8 large garden tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
6 cloves (6 tsp) minced garlic
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 1/2 tsp sugar (to taste)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Drop half of the tomatoes into boiling water in a big stockpot and boil for about a minute or until skins start to split.  Remove with slotted spot into colander, repeat with remaining tomatoes.  When cool enough to handle, remove skins.  Core and cut tomatoes into 2-3" cubes.

Chop the onino, preheat oil in the stockpot.  Saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add cubed tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then hard simmer for half an hour.

Add basil, oregano, salt, and sugar, adjust seasonings to taste.  Hard simmer for another half hour (mine took over an hour.....guess my heat wasn't high enough) or until sauce has been reduced by half.  Stir in balsamic vinegar.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cake Mix Cookies

For some reason, I keep running across dessert treat recipes using a cake mix as part of the ingredients.  Is this a new trend?  Regardless, I was looking for something new to send to Jim's office so thought I'd give these a try (I have some leftover mix which I'm going to use with cake mix Rice Crispie treats).  I split the dough in half and added mini chocolate chips to have, and made the other half plain.  Quite good.  Like a chewy sugar cookie. PLAN AHEAD:  The dough needs to refrigerate overnight.

CAKE MIX COOKIES (makes 3-4 dozen, depending on whether you add choc chips)

3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup Funfetti Cake Mix
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (amount to taste, optional)

Cream together the butter and sugars.  Mix in the egg yolk, egg, and vanilla until creamy.  Add in the flour, cake mix, and baking soda.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Scoop heaping Tablespoons (I measured mine, 18 grams) of dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Caesar-Style Tortellini w/Chicken

Talk about a fast and easy summer salad!  This is a slightly altered Publix recipe.  Their recipe called for grilling a pork tenderloin, but I had BBQ'ed some chicken the other night and had leftovers, so I just used that.

The Publix recipe calls for a 10-oz Caesar salad know,  the bagged lettuce in the produce department.  The bag has cut-up romaine lettuce, croutons, and Caesar dressing.  I had all of these separately, so I just chopped up some lettuce and added my own croutons.  I have a creamy Caesar dressing made up which I used to mix with the rest.  I also adjusted the rest of the ingredients to make enough for just us two.

Toss everything together and serve with a crusty baguette and BAM!  you've got dinner on another hot summer night.


1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1 (10-oz) Caesar salad kit
3 cups frozen cheese tortellini
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp Dijon
1/3 cup slices black olives, drained

leftover chicken or pork, diced or shredded

Cook tortellini following package instructions.  Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water when draining.

Combine in salad bowl, 1/4 cup Parmesan, sour cream, mustard, Caesar dressing (from kit), reserved pasta water, and S&P to taste; whisk until smooth.

Add tortellinis, olives, tomatoes, croutons (from kit), and lettuce, toss with dressing.  Sprinkle with chicken or pork and remaining 1 Tbsp Parmesan.