Friday, May 31, 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I have been holding onto this recipe for a long, long time but just never made it.  I guess I had that thickly-breaded and deep-fried clumps of questionable chicken drowned in a grossly artificially-colored too-sweet sauce found in most Chinese restaurants.  But I had held onto for some reason and, looking for a quick and easy dinner to make for myself last night, decided to take the plunge and give it a try.

What a mistake to wait this long!!!!  This is delicious.  And it really is quite easy, not messy, and much, much healthier than most you would find outside of your own kitchen.

A Note:  If you like extra sauce, double the sauce ingredients.  Pour half over the chicken and follow the recipe instructions; pour the other half in a small saucepan and cook the sauce on the stovetop at a simmer for 8-10 minutes until it reduces and thickens.  Serve it on the side of the chicken.

SWEET and SOUR CHICKEN (Serves 4-5)

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

Cooked rice

Preheat oven to 325F.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into 1" pieces.  Season with S&P.  Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag.  Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken.  Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie pan.  Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet.  Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip each piece over to cook on the other side until nicely golden but not all the way cooked through.  Place in a single layer in the baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken in the baking dish.  Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce.  Serve over hot, steamed rice.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Girls

This blog, after all, is called "TheFultonGirls."  So this is for Papa who is out of town and no doubt misses his best girls.  So Papa, your sweet girls say "we miss you and can't wait for you to get home."  Top to bottom:  Muffin, Scooter, Lindie, and Nellie.  Come home soon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chipotle Chicken Skewers with Creamy Dipping Sauce

Let me preface by saying that this is the BEST chicken I have ever cooked on a grill.  EVER.....EVER.  Really.  If you cook no other chicken on a grill, I beg you!!!!!  let this be the one.

What can I say?  Tender, succulent, and a flavor that will linger for quite a while.  Honestly, this chicken can hold its own, but it comes with a delicious creamy sauce.  I served this with a grilled corn on the cob and a crock pot baked potato (see 5-19-13 post) and the chicken sauce was just wonderful on the potato (an extra added bonus for the summer:   ABSOLUTELY no heating up of your kitchen!!!!)  The chicken recipe does call for chipotle chiles and adobo sauce (which I love the flavor but can't always tolerate the heat.....ahhhh....the joys of aging), but if you are like me, simply scrape the seeds from the chiles and this will still give you just a hint of heat but full-on flavor of the chipotles.  Also, this recipe calls for cooking the chicken on wood or metal skewers, but really, this is just for presentation purposes (in my opinion).  For ease of cooking, I would simply place the strips on the grill.

I have a few pieces left over and as I sit here typing, I'm wondering what's more important...posting this recipe or running downstairs and making sure those leftover have a good home.  Such sacrifices....I will finish this post for you.


Chicken Skewers:
2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (4-5 medium breasts)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced (scrape out the seeds before minced to reduce spiciness)
2 tsp adobo sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
12 bamboo or metal skewers

Creamy Dipping Sauce:
3/4 cup lowfat sour cream
1/4 cup lowfat mayo or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lime juice
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Slice the chicken breasts into long, thin strips, about 1/2" thick.  You should have right around 30 strips.  In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cilantro, chipotle chile, adobo sauce, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper.  Toss the chicken with the brown sugar mixture coating all the pieces evenly.  Cover the chicken (or place in a ziplock bag) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours (I mixed everything in a ziplock bag and then added the sliced chicken, squished {a technical cooking term} it around several times during the marinating period).

For the dipping sauce, in a bowl stir all of the ingredients together.  Cover the mixture and let stand at room temp for 30 minutes until the flavors combine.  Alternately, you can make the dipping sauce in advance and refrigerate up to two days.  Be sure to season the dipping sauce with additional lime juice, S&P to taste before serving.

30 minutes before grilling, cover the bamboo skewers with water and soak.  Skip this step if using metal skewers or omitting the skewers altogether,.

Preheat an oven broiler or grill.  Weave two strips of chicken onto each skewer.  Broil or grill the chicken for 5-8  minutes until cooked through, using nonstick cooking spray on a foil-lined pan if you are broiling.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Food Find: Burrata Cheese

First, let me apologize for the skimpiness of postings lately.  Jim has been out of town and I am trying to plow through my frig/freezer to whittle down its inventory.  I'll try to get out a new recipe very soon.

But onto this post......some time ago a heard a spot about burrata cheese on NPR's "The Splendid Table."  I was intrigued and tried to find it.  No luck, not even on-line.  And then last week I was in Chattanooga's  "Whole Foods" store on the North Shore searching, again, for my nowhere-to-be-found-lately goat butter when low and behold!  I spied this little gem. 

Burrata is a homemade mozzarella filled with cream.  Granted, this is not an everyday treat.  This is definitely for special occasions or for a treat after spending about four hours at the gym!

I ate mine on a piece of crostini with some fresh tomatoes and basil.  Some of the serving suggestions on the card that came with the cheese were:

* toss with cooked pasta, fresh tomato, basil, olive oil, S&P
* use as a pizza topping
* on top of any sweet water biscuit with orange marmalade, chopped crystallized ginger, and orange zest as a dessert
* add to fresh tomato and basil for a twist on the classic caprese

If you're in a specialty food market, keep an eye out an try this for a special treat.  You'll be looking for more.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Couscous Salad with Tomato and Basil

Here is a great side salad for your summer dinner table (and a nice little snack from the leftovers).  Definitely use summer-fresh tomatoes (or year-around full-of-flavor grape tomatoes) and fresh basil (this recipe calls for 1/3 cup.....I would add a bit more).  I also had some whole wheat couscous on hand.  I had never used WW couscous before and was skeptical.  I always try to use whole grains when available (except pasta) but had never seen this before.  I found it at our local Earth Fare in the bulk section and was wonderfully surprised that I couldn't tell a difference between regular and whole wheat.  I'll definitely be using this from now on.

COUSCOUS SALAD with TOMATO and BASIL (6 servings)

1 Tbsp EVOO
2 tsp minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 cups chopped tomato
1/3 cup (or more) thinly sliced fresh basil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp EVOO
1/4 cup (or more) crumbled feta cheese

Mix 1 Tbsp EVOO and garlic in a large microwave-safe bowl; heat on high until fragrant, about 45 minutes.  Add chicken broth and heat on high until simmering, about 4 minutes.  Gradually stir in couscous.  Cover and let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Fluff couscous with a fork.

Stir tomato, basil, vinegar and S&P into couscous; drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle it with feta cheese.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Salmon with Bacon and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Just when I thought I had run the gamet of salmon recipes, I ran across this one.  I gotta admit....I was a bit leary.  Baking at 400F for 20-25 minutes?  Isn't that just the recipe for the driest baked salmon you'll ever have????   Somehow, not here.  It works.  And it is delicious.

Is it the bacon or is it the vinaigrette?  Couldn't tell you.  I just know it comes out right (and any leftover vinaigrette makes a fantastic salad dressing).  I served it with some fresh  steamed asparagus and a wonderful couscous salad (see post tomorrow).  Perfect dinner.


2 (6-8 oz) salmon fillets
4 slices thick cut bacon
1/2 cup EVOO 
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

In a small mixing bowl, whip together the EVOO, balsamic vinegar, garlic, S&P, and brown sugar until creamy.

Place the salmon in a shallow baking dish and cover the salmon on both sides with the vinaigrette.

Cut the bacon slices in half and top the salmon with the bacon slices.

Bake in the oven at 400F for 20-25 minutes or util bacon begins to crisp (I turned the broiler on for the last few minutes to crisp it).

Remove from the oven and let set for 10 minutes.

Recipe Source: 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

Am I the last one to hear about this?!!!  This is just the greatest idea given that we're going to be hitting 90 degrees this week and who wants to have the oven on high during that kind of heat?

Well, if you haven't tried this, it works like a charm!!!  You may have to experiment a time or two to get the temp/time right, but I have a feeling that even in the wintertime, I'll be using this method.

No recipe, really.  Prick your potatoes (russet, red, sweet) with a fork 4-5 times.  Rub a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.  Wrap in a piece of aluminum foil.  I only cooked two medium-sized potatoes on high for about 3 hours.  However, if you want to do this during holidays or larger get-togethers, fill your crock pot (I used a 4 quart, but you can use any size depending on how many you want to cook) no more than 3/4 full.  Make sure the seam is facing upwards.

Again, depending on how many potatoes you're going to cook, test them (open the foil and see if a knife will go through it easily) at the low-end of the cooking time.  HIGH: 3-5 hours, LOW: 7-8 1/2 hours.

And of course you can try different oils or cooking sprays and seasonings.  I wanted to start with a basic and venture off from there.  Regardless, you're going to end up with a wonderful baked potato and a cool kitchen!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Israeli Couscous with Peas, Asparagus, and Mint

This is going to be a great summer salad!  It has it all:  texture, bright colors and flavors, and a burst of citrus.  An added plus, this would go wonderfully with just about anything you grill this summer.  I think the mint and lemon zest are a must, for me they really put this salad over the top.


2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

2 Tbsp EVOO
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1 3/4 cups water
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 3/4" pieces
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 3/4" pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

To make the dressing:
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, S&P in a small bowl.  Set aside.

To make the couscous:
Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the couscous and stir frequently to toast the couscous until brown.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender, 5-6 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus, snap peas, and garlic.  Stir-fry until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes.  Transfer the vegetables and couscous to a large bowl.  Add the dressing, mint, and cheese and toss well before serving.

Recipe Source:  "In the Kitchen with David" by David Venable

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Herb-Encrusted Tilapia

OK, if you are a fish lover/eater, you have to try this recipe!!!  I was absolutely in awe of the incredible punch of flavor these small amounts of herbs added to this fish.  Any mild, white fish will work beautifully (I used Swai) and it was perfect, mild enough to allow the flavors in the coating to shine.

This recipe is a wonderful excuse (if you need one) to have an herb garden, however small.  Or have these three herbs growing in pots.  Just have them, this summer.  If you love this fish as much as I do, you will be making it over and over and over.

It calls for a mixture of bread crumbs and Panko.  Given that I only have Panko in my pantry, I simply toasted a slice of whole grain bread and then ground it in my mini-food processor.  I served it with an equally wonderful Israeli couscous salad which I'll post tomorrow.  A simple, delicious meal, especially good for these coming hot months.


1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 (or less) tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 (6-8 oz) tilapia (or other mild, white fish) fillets
Vegetable cooking spray
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp minced fresh parsley
2 tsp minced fresh basil
2 tsp minced fresh chives
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Whisk together the buttermilk, S&P.  In a shallow dish large enough to hold the fish in a single layer.  Add the tilapia and turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place an oven rack in the top third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place a wire rack on the prepared baking sheet and spray the wire rack with the cooking spray.

Combine the bread crumbs, Panko, parsley, basil, chives, and lemon zest on a shallow plate.

Drain the buttermilk from the tilapia and dredge each fillet in the bread crumb mixture.  Arrange the tilapia on the prepared wire rack.  Bake until the coating is crisp and golden brown and the fish is opaque in the center, 12-15 minutes.

Recipe Source:  "In the Kitchen with David" by David Venable 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Miniature Shrimp Quiches

Here's a great little dish you can use as an appetizer or even an entree.  This recipe gives a list of ingredients for the pastry shells, but (on a freezer-cleaning mission, again) I had a box of mini phyllo shells I wanted to use instead (the box had 15 shells, so I halved the recipe below).  They worked just fine.  I used this as my main dish along with my Go-to Summer Salad and some polenta fries.


1 cup (4 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped cooked shrimp
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Pastry Shells (recipe below)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Dash of hot sauce

Combine first four ingredients; spoon evenly into Pastry Shells.  Combine eggs and remaining ingredients, stirring well; pour mixture even into Pastry Shells.  Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until set. 


1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed of an electric mixer until well-blended; stir in flour and salt.  Cover and chill one hour.

Shape chilled dough into 1" balls.  Place in ungreased minature (1 3/4") mini-muffin pans, shaping each ball into a shell.

Recipe Source: The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spanish Rice

Looking through previous posts, I just can't believe I've never posted this recipe.  Don't you have recipes for a specific food that you always fall back on....your favorite meatloaf, mashed potato, roasted chicken, etc?  Well, given that I tend to make a fair amount of Mexican foods, Spanish rice is often included in the menu.  And this is the only recipe I will use.

This comes from "The Joy of Cooking."  The only changes I have made to suit our tastes are that I add cilantro and I use smoked paprika instead of the sweet or hot.  To me, the two changes add a depth of flavor that make this dish my fall-back recipe.  Perfect every time.

SPANISH RICE (4-6 servings)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 slices bacon, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
cilantro to taste, about 1/2 handful (optional)
1 cup long-grain white rice (I use Jasmine)
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp sweet or hot paprika (I use smoked)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine in a 10" ovenproof skillet or flameproof casserole the oil, bacon, onion, pepper, garlic, and cilantro and cook, stirring over medium heat until the onions are golden, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and stir until well coated.

Add broth, tomatoes, paprika, and S&P and bring to a boil.  Stir once, cover, transfer to oven, and bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

Uncover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source:  The Joy of Cooking

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mediterranean Fish Over Potatoes

This is a basic recipe I tend to keep going to back to every once in a while because I generally have all of the ingredients on hand.  This time, however, I didn't have the potatoes, but I did have some rice in the freezer so decided to see how this would work. It turned out fantastic.  The rice got nice and crispy on the bottom.

So try it with rice or potatoes and a green vegetable or salad for an quick and easy dinner.


1 Tbsp EVOO
2 cups refrigerated homestyle sliced potatoes
1/3 cup water
6 kalamata (or pitted black) olives
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 to 1 1/2 lb tilapia (or any other mild white fish)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 (14.5 oz) can herb/garlic diced tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled plain or tomato/basil feta cheese

Place oil in large saute pan, add potatoes and water, then cover; cook and stir on medium-high 5-6 minutes or until potatoes are tender and water is absorbed (I did not add any water with the cooked rice and heated it up on medium).  Remove pits from olives; chop olives coarsely.

Reduce heat to medium.  Arrange potatoes evenly into a single layer, sprinkle with olives, salt, and pepper.  Place fish (darker side up) on potatoes.  Squeeze juice of one half lemon over fish.

Drain tomatoes very thoroughly (press tightly to remove as much liquid as possible).  Spread tomatoes over fish and sprinkle with feta cheese, then cover, cook 4-6 minutes, without turning or stirring or until fish is opaque and flakes easily.

Reduce heat to low and remove cover, cook 1-2 minutes to allow any extra liquid to evaporate.  Serve.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fall-Apart Tender Slow Roast Pork

Another incredible recipe from food scientist Shirley Corriher.  This pork is so very tender and so very full of flavor!  Not to mention it can be unbelievably versatile.  But honestly, for me, because of the sweetness of the brown sugar and apple juice, I like it all by itself.  However, you could use it in salads, baked potatoes, tacos, casseroles or sandwiches.  Jim added BBQ sauce to his.

This recipe calls to bake it at a low temperature in the oven.  However, I have always used a crock pot.  For a smaller roast (up to 4 pounds), I used my smaller CP and cooked it on low for about 7 hours.  For a large roast (8-9 pounds), I used my larger CP, cooked for a total of 9-10 hours on low.  About halfway through the cooking, I turned it up to high for 2 hours (turning the roast over at the one hour) then turned it back down to low.  I put the roast in a colander and pulled any fat off.  Some pieces shredded and there were also big chunks of this delicious roast.

What this recipe shows:  
* Cooking meat slowly at a low temperature produces a wonderfully tender, juicy dish.
* Pork butt, a less expensive cut (I got this on sale for $.99/pound) that is frequently avoided because of the fat and connective tissue, is ideal for slow cooking which dissolves both fat and connective tissue.


1 pork butt roast (about 4 pounds)
1/4 to 1/3 cup Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce
3/4 light brown sugar
1 cup apple juice
1/2 tsp salt

With a shelf arranged slightly below the center, preheat the oven to 400F.

Place the pork in a casserole that is just large enough to hold it and has a lid.  Sprinkle pork on all sides with the worcestershire sauce.  Then, press brown sugar coating on all sides of the pork.  Pour the apple juice down the side to the bottom of the casserole not over the crusted meat.  Cover tightly

Place in the oven and TURN DOWN OVEN TO 200F and roast without opening the oven for about 5 hours, until the meat is so tender that it pulls apart easily.  If the meat does not pull apart easily, cover, return to the oven and roast 30 minutes more.  Check again, roast 30 minutes more as needed.  Depending on your oven, the roast may take as long as 7 hours to get to the pull-apart stage.  Pull the meat apart, remove the bone.  Stir in salt.  Do not omit this salt.  It is vital for the taste of the dish.  Serve meat in its delicous juice hot or at room temperature.

NOTE:  This can easily be done in the crock pot.  Set on high for 30 minutes, then turn down to low for the day or night.

If using a crock pot...spray the pot with cooking spray before starting the roast.

Recipe Source:  Shirley Corriher

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mixed Crisp Greens with Crunchies and Walnuts

This is one of my favorite basic salads, good all year around.  Outside of the wonderful taste (this is a great vinaigrette), I love food with texture!!!

This recipe calls for Boston, Bibb, and romaine lettuces.  Personally, I just like romaine (again for the crunch).  If you like it, I would suggest doubly the crunchies and just keep them in the frig for future use.  Also, this recipe says that after toasting the walnut to stir in melted butter.  I don't find this necessary and skip this step.  Please don't let this lengthy recipe scare you.   The first step (cleaning and drying the lettuce), the third step (preparing the noodles and walnuts), the fourth step (toasting the bread crumbs), and the sixth step (making the dressing) can be done days ahead of serving time.

This salad was featured in a Central Market (TX) cooking class featuring the incredibly entertaining food scientist Shirley Corriher of Atlanta (she may have seen her as a guest on some Food Network shows like Alton Brown's "Good Eats.")  With each recipe she demoed, she gave reasons for doing specific steps in the recipe.  Here she's written: "What This Recipe Shows."

* Less vinegar than the standard 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil produces a more delicate flavor balance and a delicious salad dressing.
* Dry salad greens require a minimum of dressing.
* Ground roasted walnuts thicken the dressing and add flavor.
* Crisp roasted ramen noodles and grated cauliflower add texture.


1 small head Boston lettuce
1 small head Bibb lettuce
1 small head romaine lettuce
2 pkgs ramen noodles (any "flavor" be tossing the seasoning package)
1/4 tsp seasoned salt or Old Bay seasoning
10 Tbsp butter, divided
1 1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 head of a small cauliflower

2 large shallots, peeled and halved
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable or olive oil (I prefer canola oil in this recipe)
10 fresh basil leaves (optional......but I think this makes the recipe)

Wash the lettuces and soak for 10-30 minutes in cold water.  Spin dry, then wrap in a clean towel do dry thoroughly.  Remove and place in zip-top plastic bags, squeeze out the air, seal and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Unwrap ramen noodles and discard flavoring package, break noodles up in a bowl.  Stir seasoning salt into 4 Tbsp melted butter and mix into crumbled noodles, coating well.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the noodles on one side of the baking sheet and the walnut pieces on the other side.  Bake until browned, about 10 minutes.  While the walnuts are hot, stir in 2 Tbsp butter and 1/2 tsp salt.

In a large skillet, melt 4 Tbsp butter, stir in bread crumbs and toast, stirring constantly over low heat until lightly browned.

Grate cauliflower or coarsely chop with quick on/offs with the steel knife in the food processor.  Remove to a small bowl.

With the steel knife in the workbowl, turn on the food processor and drop the shallots one at a time down the feedtube onto the spinning blade to mince.  Add the vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, sugar, pepper, and mustard.  With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil.  Add 1/4 cup of the walnuts and basil leaves, process a few seconds to grind.  Set aside.

When ready to serve, tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1/2 cup dressing and toss very well to coat each piece.  Taste and add more dressing or salt if needed.  Add roasted ramen noodles and grated cauliflower.  Place on a cold salad plate.  Top with crumbs and remaining walnuts and serve immediately.

For an added bit of decadence, drizzle a tiny bit of white truffle oil on salad.

Recipe Source: Shirley Corriher

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chart House Bleu Cheese Dressing

For me, this is the standard of Bleu Cheese salad dressings.  I have to be honest, I have never used another recipe since this is what bleu cheese dressing should be, at least in my opinion.  Many decades ago, living in California, I used to eat at the Chart House restaurant.  Imagination my amazement when I asked for and received their recipe for my favorite salad dressing.  I have yet to find another restaurant who will share their recipes.

A note, this really needs to be made at least a day ahead to let the flavors come to full fruition.  Believe me, it is worth the wait.

CHART HOUSE BLEU CHEESE DRESSING (makes about 2 1/2 cups)

Place in mixing bowl:

3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
scant 1/2 tsp salt
scant 1/3 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Blend 2 minutes at low speed.  Add:

1 1/3 cup mayo

Blend 30 seconds at low speed.  Then blend 2 minutes at medium speed.  Crumble:

4 oz bleu cheese by hand into very small pieces

Add to mixture.  Blend at low speed, no longer than 4 minutes.

Allow to rest for 24 hours before using.

Recipe Source:  Chart House Restaurant, Monterey, California

Monday, May 6, 2013

Guacamole Lettuce Salad

This really isn't a recipe, but it is a great idea (courtesy of Publix) for a wonderful side salad/dish for many meals.

Simply shred some iceberg lettuce and top with a big scoop of guacamole.  Add a dollop of sour cream and/or salsa and some tortilla strips.  I'd guess there are plenty of guac recipes out there, but generally this is what I use for a quick, easy, delicious guacamole:

2 ripe avocadoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into big chunks
1/2 roma or other tomato, finely diced
1-2 Tbsp onion, finely minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
spoonful of prepared salsa
salt to taste

Depending on how creamy you like your guac, combine everything and smash the avocado to the desired consistency (I like bits of chunkiness in mine).  If you're not going to be serving it immediately, squeeze more lime on top to keep it from turning brown.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tex-Mex Enchilada Casserole

I love Mexican dishes and I love casseroles.   And this may be about the best recipe combining these two.  One big difference than other Mexican casseroles is that you toast the tortillas, thereby avoiding a soggy dish.  Next time I make this I will add more corn and maybe black beans, but the amount of poblano pepper was perfect for us.  If you like more heat, double it.  Poblanos are the mildest (outside of bell peppers) peppers on the Scoville scale and are readily available, so don't be afraid!

I just made half of the recipe (using an 8x8 dish), but I do believe this casserole would freeze beautifully (in fact I have some leftover already cooked and think I'll freeze the cooked portion and so how that turns out.....I'll report back when I use it).  Point being, if you are just cooking for 2 or 3, go ahead and make the entire recipe and freeze half of it (both in 8x8 dishes, one uncooked).

I served this with a guacamole lettuce salad (no recipe, really, but will post it tomorrow).


14 corn tortillas cut into thirds
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red or green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced (I used 1/2 of each that I had in the freezer)
1 large poblano chile pepper, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels (I'll use more next time)
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup AP flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained (I'll probably use more next time)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
S&P to taste
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz Jack cheese, shredded (or you can use 16 oz Mexican cheese blend)
chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly coat a 13x9" baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Arrange the cut tortillas in a single layer on two large rimmed baking sheets.  Bake the tortillas until slightly crisp, 10-15 minutes.

In a large 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef, turkey, or chicken with 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper breaking the meat up into bite-sized pieces.  Cook until the meat is no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.  Scrape the meat onto a plate and wipe the skillet clean (you may need to drain off excess grease from the meat depending on the fat content).

In the same skillet over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil and stir in the onion, bell pepper(s), poblano, corn, and garlic.  Cook until the veggies are softened, 3-4 minutes.  Stir the flour, chili powder, cumin, and coriander into the vegetable mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the bean, lime juice, and season with S&P.

Line the bottom of the greased baking pan with 1/3 of the baked tortillas.  Layer with 1/3 of the meat and then 1/3 of the veggie/sauce mixture and then sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses.  Repeat that process again twice more ending with the cheeses.

Bake the casserole until hot and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let site for 10 minutes or so before serving.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Curried Spinach and Cheese

I used to cook Indian dishes quite often.  For some reason, I don't do much anymore.  It popped up in my mind the other day and I remembered this dish I was introduced to while in a class at Central Market (in San Antonio, TX) way back in 1999.  You might think of this as an Indian version of creamed spinach.

The really fun thing about this recipe is that you make the cheese that goes into it.  This was the first and only time I've ever made cheese.  It is so much fun and so very easy.  The cheese, called Panir, reminds me of something in the mozzarella family.

So if you're making any Indian-inspired entree, think about trying this as a side dish.

(I'm including the recipe as I received it, but I cut it in half, both the Panir and the Spinach.)


1/2 gallon low-fat (2%) milk (I used 1%)
1 quart buttermilk (I used fat-free)

Bring milk to a boil on medium heat.  Do not use non-stick pan.

Add buttermilk and stir.  When whey separates from solids, about 1 minute, turn off heat. Stir until solids are completely separated.

Keep a strainer lined with a double-layer of cheesecloth ready.  Pour the panir and whey into cheesecloth.  Discard whey (the liquid).

(The fun part....) Tie the cheesecloth loosely on kitchen faucet over the sink for 5 minutes to let it drip (no more than 5 minutes).  Open cheesecloth, flatten panir with hand and twist ends of cheesecloth tightly to enclose panir.

Place wrapped panir under weight on edge of sink with ends of cheesecloth dripping into sink.  Leave for 30 minutes.

Remove and use as required.

NOTE:  Store up to 4 days in frig, wrapped in plastic wrap.  Can be frozen for up to 3 months.

CURRIED SPINACH and CHEESE (8 servings...can be made ahead up until the last step)

1 recipe Panir, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 Tbsp peeled and minced ginger root
2-3 minced green chilies, preferably serranos (seed for milder, or leave seeds in if you like a lot of heat)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
4 bunches fresh spinach, washed, chopped, cooked, and drained or
     2 (10 oz) packages chopped frozen spinach
Salt to taste
1 cup skim milk (I used 1%)
2 cups plain nonfat yogurt (must be at room temperature) stirred to a creamy consistency.

Heat oil in large pan.  Fry onions, ginger, and chilies about 6-8 minutes until soft.  Add coriander and turmeric and fry 2-3 minutes, stirring well.

Add spinach and salt.  Mix well.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and puree in a blender with milk.  (Dish can be made ahead at this point.....from that morning to several days ahead.)

Return to heat and stir in yogurt and panir.  Mix thoroughly.  Cover and simmer another 5 minutes to heat through.

NOTE:  Consistency of spinach should be creamy.  If too dry, add a little more yogurt.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Amici's Meatballs

This is a recipe I posted a few years ago, but with quite a few new viewers, I wanted to make sure that those who missed it get a chance to ponder making these wonderful, succulent, healthy meatballs.

Years ago, I worked at an Italian restaurant (Amici's) in Red Wing, MN.  The owner, Char, made the most wonderful meatballs and I was shocked, SHOCKED I say, to learn that she included raisins in her recipe.  I have to tell you, there are very few foods I just won't eat and raisins top the list.  I couldn't believe the difference they make.

Now Char used the traditional meat mixture of beef and pork to make her meatballs.  Just for kicks, I wanted to see if I could lighten them up.  Ground turkey breast is just about as lean as you can get with very little fat.  I had no idea how they would turn out without the added fat of beef and pork, but amazingly, I think these are even better.  I don't know if it's the raisins that provides the moistness, but, who cares?  I will never use another recipe.  These are fabulous.

These are fast and easy to prepare.  Just mix up the ingredients, roll them, and bake.  Since these are made with ground turkey breast, the meatballs will be a very light color (not the traditional brown when made with beef and pork), but don't worry because you're going to be adding them to your favorite red sauce so you'll never see the light color.  Oh, one more plus, these freeze and keep wonderfully for months.....just take out how many you want for dinner, let thaw for about an hour, add them to your warmed sauce, and serve them over spaghetti with a Caesar salad.  Dinner is served.

AMICI'S MEATBALLS (makes 18 meatballs)

20 oz ground turkey breast
2 eggs or 1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup shaved/shredded Parmesan cheese
2-3 tsp minced garlic
handful of raisins
1/2 cup milk (whole, skim, whatever you have on hand works)
S&P to taste

Mix everything together until just combined.  I weigh my meatballs at 50 grams each (about 2" diameter) and cook at 350F for 18 minutes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Shrimp Newburg

I have to say two things about this recipe.  One: by no means is this an authentic Newburg recipe, but the first time I ever tried it was at a Publix demo.  It was so lucious and delicious and so easy that I've never tried a "real" recipe (plus it's much lower in calories and fat than others).  Two:  there are only two recipes in which I use a cream-of-something soup.  This one and Tater Tot Hotdish (it's a Minnesota thing).  It just works.

SHRIMP NEWBURG (4 servings)

1 Tbsp garlic butter
2 tsp country Dijon mustard
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp seafood seasoning (I used Old Bay)
1 pound peeled/deveined shrimp (I used 21/25s)
1/4 cup cream sherry
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of shrimp soup
1/2 cup reduced-fat milk
Prepared mashed potatoes
Fresh or dried parsley flakes for garnish, optional

Preheat large saucepan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.

Place garlic butter in saucepan; swirl to coat.  Stir in mustard, flour, and seasoning.  Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, or until well blended and bubbling.

Stir in (in thie order) shrimp, sherry, soup, and milk.  Reduce heat to medium; cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until shrimp are opaque ans sauce thickens.  Serve over mashed potatoes.  Garnish with fresh or dried parsley.