Saturday, May 31, 2014

Zensational Salad


This is a knock-off of a salad served at a regional fast-food restaurant in our area called Zaxby's.  It's basically a green salad tossed with a Honey/Sesame dressing and topped with a serving of Asian slaw, grilled chicken breast, crispy wonton strips, and served with an egg roll.

There isn't really a recipe for anything but the Honey/Sesame dressing, the amount of everything just depend on your likes.  As far as the Asian slaw, do a search for "Asian slaw" to get a dressing recipe which sounds good to you, and then simply mix a batch of cole slaw mix with some green onions, cilantro, and peanuts, if you like.

HONEY/SESAME SALAD DRESSING (makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp honey or brown sugar
2 Tbsp peeled and minced garlic
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Add 2 Tbsp of water.  Puree until smooth.

ZENSATIONAL SALAD (servings depends upon how much lettuce, etc. you use)

Romaine lettuce, chopped
Honey Sesame Salad Dressing
Asian Cole Slaw
Grilled chicken breast, marinated in Honey/Sesame Dressing
Crispy wonton strips, homemade or prepared strips found in your produce section
Baked or fried egg roll(s)


Build the salad:

Marinate chicken breast(s) in the salad dressing.  Let set for at least half an hour.  Grill breast.  Refrigerate and chill.

Make your choice of Asian slaw recipes.

Toss chopped romaine lettuce with the salad dressing.  Plate.  Place a scoop of slaw in the center of the salad.  Slice chicken breast(s) into strips.  Place on top of salad.  Sprinkle with wonton strips.

Slice egg roll on the diagonal and serve with extra salad dressing as a dip.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin


We rarely eat beef or pork, so surprisingly this just happens to be one of my favorite entrees.  I especially love it as a holiday choice when you're going to be having a large crowd and want an extra meat choice.  Outside of the sweet tender pork with an incredibly delicious creamy mustard dipping sauce, the real beauty of this dish is that you have to make it a day or two ahead....a life saver when your kitchen time is filled to brim with a bazillion other things to do.

The recipe came from a woman I worked for at a restaurant in Minnesota.  It wasn't on the menu, but she would make it for catering events and served it to her employees at a Christmas party.  The recipe below is how she originally printed it and it serves quite a large group as it uses either a four pound pork roast or four (one pound) tenderloins.  Since generally there are just the two of us, I just use one tenderloin.  So, I'm listing the recipe as she gave it to me with the quartered-portion recipe amounts in parentheses.  However, for the maple-mustard sauce I cut it in half (also in parentheses).  I have never made this using the pork roast (only the tenderloin) so I cannot say that the roast is as wonderful as the tenderloin.

If you're looking for a special dinner to make, I hope you'll keep this in mind.  Seriously, it's so nice making something in advance and being able to simply pull it out of the fridge and have dinner ready.  It is served slightly chilled or at room temp so make it a day or two ahead and use the time to set a pretty table and make a simple side dish....nothing fancy as you'll want this entree to shine.

MAPLE GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN (amounts in parentheses are for using one pork tenderloin) Full recipe serves about 16, one tenderloin serves about 4

Glaze:
1/2 cup (2 Tbsp) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (2 Tbsp) finely chopped onion
2 cups (1/2 cup) real maple syrup (not breakfast syrup)
1/2 cup (2 Tbsp) cider vinegar
3 Tbsp (3/4 tsp) Dijon mustard
2 1/2 Tbsp (1/2 Tbsp + 3/4 tsp) Coleman dry mustard
1 tsp (1/4 tsp) black pepper

1 (four pound) boneless pork roast or 4 (one pound) pork tenderloins

Maple-Mustard Sauce:
1 cup (1/2 cup) half an half
3 Tbsp (1 1/2 Tbsp) Coleman dry mustard
1 Tbsp (1/2 Tbsp) flour
1/2 cup (1/4 cup) real maple syrup
1/2 tsp (1/4 tsp) salt
2 (1) large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 Tbsp) cider vinegar
2 Tbsp (1 Tbsp) Dijon mustard

To make the glaze:
Whisk together oil, onion, syrup, vinegar, Dijon, dry mustard, and pepper in a medium saucepan.  Put on moderate-high heat and boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil about 20 minutes or until reduced to 1 3/4 cup (scant 1/2 cup for one tenderloin).  Set aside half of the glaze for later.  You can refrigerate, but you will need to microwave for 10-15 seconds when ready to use again.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Dry the pork off with paper towels and remove the silver lining and as much fat as possible.  Brush the glaze over the pork.  Place the roast in a roaster lined with foil.  Roast for 30 minutes brushing with glaze at 15 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees.  Bake for 15-30 minutes more or until  meat reaches temperature of 155 degrees.  Brush with glaze every 10 minutes. (NOTE: If just using one tenderloin, start checking the temp after the first 30 minutes....mine was done at that time.)

Remove the pork from the oven and cool to room temperature, wrap in foil and refrigerate until well chilled. 

When cooled, slice the meat as thin as possible (an electric knife works wonderfully).  Spread one side of each slice with reserved glaze and press the slices back together, reforming the roast or tenderloin.  Rewrap the fork in foil and refrigerate overnight.

To make the maple-mustard sauce:
Mix the half and half and the dry mustard in a medium pan.  Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to soften the mustard.  Whisk in the flour, syrup, salt, egg yolk(s), vinegar, and Dijon.  Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a full boil and thickens.  Boil for one minute, whisking constantly.  Remove it from the heat and place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the mustard.  Refrigerate.

This mustard sauce will keep for several weeks.  Stir before using.  Serve at room temp.

One hour before serving take the roast out of the refrigerator and bring to room temp.  Place on serving platter and serve alone or with your choice of buns or bread with the maple-mustard sauce. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Butterscotch Chiffon Cake with Penuche Frosting


I ran across this recipe in our monthly food magazine "Relish."  A chiffon cake is a cross between a traditional layer cake and an angel food cake.  It's super light but not as airy as an angel foodcake.  The rich penuche frosting complements the light cake.

BUTTERSCOTCH CHIFFON CAKE with PENUCHE FROSTING

Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Penuche Frosting:
2 2/3 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup butter (10 2/3 to 11 Tbsp)
1/4 tsp salt

To make the penuche frosting, combine all ingredients in a saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until combined, then bring to a full boil. Boil 7 minutes; remove from heat. Let cool completely. Chill 2 hours. Beat until thick and creamy. Spread over sides and top of cooled cake.
 
Preheat oven to 325F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add brown sugar and mix well.  Add oil, egg yolks, cold water, and vanilla; beat until smooth

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold into batter.

Pour batter into ungreased 10" tube pan; bake 55 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.  Invert cake and let it hang upside down on a bottle (I used an empty wine bottle) until completely cooled.

Loosen sides with a knife or spatula, then turn pan over and knock pan to release cake.

Recipe Source: Relish Magazine, April 2014, p. 15

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Waving Flag #2
 
 
Today I know so many Americans are looking at the day as their launch to summer.  I just hope that they take a moment to remember why we recognize Memorial Day: to remember those soldiers who died for our country.
 
It's astounding to think  how many lives just one death touches.  I am grateful, though, that as a nation we have truly come to realize the sacrifices these men and women and their families and friends have made.
 
While the wars below certainly don't represent all of the conflicts our nation has been involved in, the lives effected are staggering.  Even those who survived were forever changed.
 
 
American Revolutionary War (1775-1783):   25,000 casualties
American Civil War (1861-1865):   625,000 casualties
World War I (1917-1918):   116,516 casualties
World War II (1941-1945):    405,399 casualties
Korea (1950-1953):   36,516 casualties
Vietnam (1955-1975):   58,209 casualties
Iraq (2003-2012): 4,840 casualties
Afghanistan (to date):  3,441 casualties

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chili-Spiced Barramundi Fish Tacos


I was on a fish/shrimp taco binge there for a bit and then just got caught up in other things.  But it's back on!  This is the simplest of all the recipes I've made and calls for Barramundi Sea Bass, but any nice white fillet will work like tilapia or (my favorite) Swai.

This photo looks a bit bare but rest assured, there's plenty of fish buried underneath the slaw.  In addition, I traditionally use refried beans to "glue" the soft corn tortilla to the hard corn tortilla (to keep the hard shell from crumbling all over your plate/self).  Of course, you can use just a soft or a hard shell, but I love the contrasting texture of the hard and soft together and so I always "double-deck" my shells when making tacos.  I left it out this time because I didn't have any canned refried beans, nor did I have the time to make them.  Regardless, as usual, these tacos were wonderful and great served with the leftover Cheesy Corn Salad I posted yesterday.

CHILI-SPICED BARRAMUNDI FISH TACOS (2 servings)

8 oz barramundi filet, or other mild white fish like tilapia or swai
a pinch of S&P, cumin, and chili powder
2 tsp EVOO
4/8 corn (soft and/or hard) tortillas
1 tomato, chopped
2-3 cups sliced cabbage or cole slaw mix
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime

Mix cabbage/cole slaw mix, tomato, cilantro, and lime.  Set aside.

Season fish with S&P, cumin, and chili powder.

Grill (or saute in 2 tsp EVOO) over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Flip and cook for 2 more minutes or until fish is easily divided.

Divide fish between your chosen tortillas.

Serve with slaw salad on top.

Recipe Source:  www.thebetterfish.com




Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cheesy Corn Salad


This is just about as quick and simple as you can get and results in a delightful combination of crunch, creaminess, color, and texture.  An absolutely perfect summer side salad when your herbs are in abundance and summer corn is at its sweetest.

There were no amounts listed in this "quickie" recipe, so what I'm showing below is what I used.  Certainly adjust everything to you liking.  I would suggest using bi-color corn (aka Peaches & Cream) simply for presentation purposes, although all yellow or all white won't make a difference in taste.  Also, I personally preferred this warm, mixing just after the kernels are steamed (although I didn't let the chilled leftovers go to waste!)

CHEESY CORN SALAD (4-6 servings)

3 ears of corn
EVOO
2 Tbsp thinly sliced basil
1/3 to 1/2 cup goat cheese

Cut kernels off of cob and steam (I used my microwave steamer and cooked for 2 1/2 minutes.....I like my kernels still crunchy).  Toss with olive oil.  Add basil and goat cheese.  Serve warm or chilled.

Recipe Source:  Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine, May 2014, p. 7 of included pamphet

Friday, May 23, 2014

Italian Bean and Pasta Soup


This is a different variation of a pasta fagioli and personally, I like this one much better.  The vegetables and seasonings make this blended version OH SO GOOD!  And it is very filling....one bowl filled me up for hours.

The recipe was really easy to cut in half, but instead next time I'll make the entire batch.  This would freeze very nicely.  PLAN AHEAD....the beans need to soak for several hours.

ITALIAN BEAN and PASTA SOUP (8 servings)

1 pound dried pinto or cranberry beans (about 3 cups), picked over and rinsed
10 cups water
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tsp salt, divided
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
5 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 piece Parmiagiano Reggiano rind, roughly 2"x3", optional, or shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish
1 pound dried ditalini pasta, cooked and tossed with oil
fresh chives, chopped, optional for garnish
olive oil for drizzling, optional

Bring beans and water to a boil in a large heavy soup pot and boil 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 2 hours.  Do not drain.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onions and 1/2 tsp salt; saute 8 minutes.  Add carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, rosemary, and pepper; saute, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Add beans with their soaking water and cheese rind (if using) and simmer, covered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until beans are tender.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup oil and remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt.  Let cool.

Remove and discard cheese rind.  Transfer soup to a blender or food processor and puree; return to the pot (or use an immersion blender and puree the soup in the pot).  Reheat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with spoonfuls of pasta and cheese and chives (if using) and drizzle with olive oil (if desired).

Recipe Source: Relish magazine supplement, February 2014, p. 4



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Honey Nut Chicken Salad


When I was in OKC a few months ago, I was able to shop at Sprouts, a regional natural food store primarily in the Southwest (next year in Atlanta!!!)  Their deli has this wonderfully different and delicious chicken salad called Uncle Hank's Honey Nut Chicken Salad.  I can't remember ever turning down any chicken salad, but after a while they all tend to meld into one.  This was really different with a honey/mayo base and the addition of fresh apricots.

I brought the label home so I had all of the ingredients and tried to duplicate it as best as I could remember.  I think I came pretty close but if I didn't, it's still a good one I'll be making all summer long.

HONEY NUT CHICKEN SALAD (2 servings)

1 cup cooked, shredded and smushed white chicken
3 Tbsp finely chopped celery
2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans
2 Tbsp finely chopped almonds
1-2 apricot(s), peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 Tbsp craisins
2 Tbsp mayo
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste

Mix first six ingredients together (chicken through craisins).  Set aside.

Mix dressing ingredients together.  Adjust honey and salt to taste.  Mix into chicken mixture.

Let chill at least several hours before servings.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Corned Beef Hash


I have never made corned beef hash.  In fact, I've only tasted it from the line of a breakfast buffet.  Not overly impressed.  But then, who knows how long it had been sitting out.

The reason I have never made it is because I've never had any leftover corned beef.  Even though I wasn't going to use all of my reserve, I decided to take a leap and use a bit of my precious leftovers to try it.  Afterall, I do love corned beef and potatoes.  It turned out wonderfully, especially with an over-easy egg to mop up the hash.

I looked at several recipes and this is a compilation of several, even though there are just a handful of ingredients (one recipe called for using beef broth which you poured in and let steam out, but I wanted to crispier version.....but you could certainly add this is you like a creamier version).  Also, I used leftover home-fried potatoes from a breakfast Jim and I went to which included some green and red peppers, which I thought would be a great addition to this hash.

CORNED BEEF HASH (4-6 servings)

2-3 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup green and/or red peppers, optional
2-3 cups finely chopped cooked corned beef
2-3 cups finely chopped cooked potatoes
S&P to taste

Melt about half of the butter in the bottom of a skillet.  Cook onions (and peppers, if using) until softened.  Add corned beef and potatoes and cook until crisp on the bottom.  Flip (add extra butter if necessary) and cook until other side is crisp.  Serve warm.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage


Why in the world do I only make corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day?  I love it!  I have found that our local markets carry two brands around this time of year (one: Murphy and David's and the other Groebbel's Flat Cut).  I've tried them both and several times I have had excellent results from the Groebbel's, better flavor and much less fat.  However, they only carry the Groebbel's during the St. Pat's season, so this year I picked up a few extras (update 9/1/14...I saw this brand the other day at Wal-Mart!).

I also prepared it in a slightly different manner in the pressure cooker.  Regardless, this stuff is so good I still am in awe of why I only serve it once a year.  Next year when I am able to find this brand in the store, I'm going to pick up more than a few!

CORNED BEEF and CABBAGE (4-6 servings)

12 oz lager beer
3 to 3 1/2 lb corned beef brisket
heaping Tbsp minced garlic
pickling spice packet
1 large sweet onion, quartered
4-6 large carrots, peeled and halved (not lengthwise)
2 stalks celery, halved (not lengthwise)
1 small or half large head cabbage, halved or quartered
4-8 small/medium red potatoes

Place the lager, corned beef, garlic, pickling spice, and onion in the pressure cooker.

Secure the lid, press the BEEF button, and hold the button until 60 shows up on the LED.

When the cooking cycle has completed, turn the pressure release to the exhaust position to release any pressure.

Open the lid and add remaining ingredients.  Secure the lid and press the BEEF button again and hold it until 20 minutes appears on the LED.

When the cook cycle is complete, turn the pressure release nozzle to the exhaust position to releae any steam.

Remove ingredients to a platter and serve with spicy mustard and cider vinegar or horseradish sauce on the side.

NOTE:  This was prepared in my Cook's Essential 5-quart digital pressure cooker

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Santorini Salad w/Cucumber-Basil Yogurt Vinaigrette





Here's a super-simple entree salad great for a light dinner or a warm summer meal.  These roasted garbanzo beans have been the big buzz in foodie world of late and I've been looking for an excuse to try them.  There are too many spice variations for the beans to list and this recipe is about as basic as you get; however, you could certainly add more heat or different spices to suit your taste.

This recipe calls to saute the shrimp but I am an avid shrimp-roaster.  I think it brings out so much more of the shrimp flavor.  Also, I cooked my garbanzo beans in the NuWave in two batches....I liked them with a bit of chew left in the center, so I will make them again at the shorter cooking time.  But if you like yours purely crunchy, you'll want to bake them at the longer cooking time.

One last thing.  You might want to think about doubling the dressing recipe....it would make a great marinade for some grilled chicken.  And an added bonus, most of this can be made ahead of time and then simply tossed together at mealtime.

SANTORINI SALAD with CUCUMBER-BASIL YOGURT VINAIGRETTE (4-6 entree servings)

Salad Ingredients:
2 (10 oz) bags cut romaine lettuce
15 oz can garbanzo (chickpeas) beans
2 tsp EVOO
Garlic salt and black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium/large shrimp
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Cucumber-Basil Yogurt Dressing:
1/2 cup peeled and seeded (optional) chopped cucumber
2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
S&P

Preheat oven to 350F.  Drain garbanzo beans then rinse and pat dry with a towel (the drier the better).  Pour onto a baking sheet then add EVOO, garlic salt, and pepper then toss wtih hands or spatula to coat.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown, shaking pan halfway through (beans will continue crisping as they cool) then set aside to cool completely (25-30 minutes in the NuWave on 1" rack).  These can be made ahead of time.  Bake then cool comletely before storing in an airtight container.

Combine ingredients for the dressing in a food processor then blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust S&P if necessary then set aside or refrigerate.  This can be made ahead of time.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat then spray with nonstick spray or mist with EVOO.  Pat shrimp dry then season with garlic salt and pepper.  Add to skillet then cook for 1-2 minutes on one side before flipping and cooking for 1-2 minutes on the other side, or until pink (don't overcook).  Squeeze lemon into skillet then cook until evaporated, about 1 minute.  Remove shrimp to plate then set aside.  (To roast the shrimp: Peel and devein shrimp, drizzle EVOO and sprinkle with black pepper.  Place on a lined baking sheet and place broiler on "high."  Cook 4-7 minutes, depending on size of shrimp.  Stir the shrimp halfway through broiling time.  Remove from oven, let cool, and then squeeze lemon over shrimp.  I cooked mine earlier in the day and left it in the refrigerator to completely cool).

Divide lettue between plates then top each with 2 Tbsp feta cheese and a quarter of the tomatoes, shrimp, and crispy garbanzo beans.  Drizzle dressing on top then serve (or you can dress the lettuce before plating).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Birthday Cake Chocolate Chip Cookies

 
 
How is everyone today?  It is fantastic here.  At least for today.  After 89/90 degree days, we had rain all night and the highs today are only in their 60s!!!!!  Like I needed another reason to look forward to October.  This cool weather is heaven on earth.  I was up at 5:30 a.m, got my house cleaned and floors mopped, 4 loads of laundry done, made some salad dressing (recipe coming up), and baked a big batch of cookies.  I'm already looking forward to a nap (I come from a long line of nappers).

For a person who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, I do appreciate all of those "birthday-cake" flavored goodies like ice-cream and now, cookies.  I ran across these festive cookies a few weeks ago and put the dough together a few days ago (some cookie makers insist on making their doughs a day ahead of baking and I've simply fallen into that habit) to let it refrigerate overnight.

It's basically a chocolate chip cookie with that wonderful birthday-cake flavor.  They are truly festive looking and would be a great treat for birthdays and other special events.

FYI: The beautiful doily was made and sent to me by my dear friend Sharon.  Doesn't it just make the presentation even more special???!!!  xoxoxo

BIRTHDAY CAKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (makes 5-6 dozen)

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cake mix (FUNFETTI or white/vanilla will do in a pinch)
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup sprinkles
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups coarsely chopped Birthday Cake Golden Oreos (about 12 cookies)

In a bowl of your stand mixer cream butter and sugar together for about a minute until light and fluffly.  Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.

With mixer or low add in baking soda, salt, flour and cake mix, stirring until mixture just comes together.

With mixer still on low add in sprinkles, chocolate chips, and chopped Oreos.  Stir until evenly incorporated.

Chill dough for at least 2 hours, overnight is better.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and form dough into Tbsp round balls, placing them 2" apart on baking sheet.

Baked cookies 10-12 minutes, rotating pan at half time, until edges are slightly golden.

Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes and then transferr to wire rack to continue cooking.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Salmon Wellington





I was so proud and surprised at how well this turned out!  I have only done a Wellington dish once before, years ago.  But this is surprisingly easy and so, so good.

A couple of things.  First, the recipe listed below is half of what the original recipe called for (see the original at www.allrecipes.com).  This made four hearty servings and since there are two of us, half of it was leftover so next time I may cut this in half.

Secondly, as the recipe states, it calls for 3/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup of dijon.  A full cup seemed a bit much for me, so I cut the mayo down to 1/2 cup (1/4 cup each of regular and reduced fat).  Even with the lessened amount, it seemed like way too much to put inside the puff pastry {I was afraid it would make the pastry soggy}, so I only used about half of it and served the other half on the side (it was great for dipping the salmon and also a nice addition to the asparagus, or would make a great dip for a simple grilled chicken or salmon).  A PERSONAL NOTE: I just heated up some leftovers (10 minutes in the NuWave) and having the sauce on the side really made it!  So I will definitely always keep half of the sauce on the side, purely for dipping.

Thirdly, I had sat out one package of the puff pastry a few hours before to thaw it, per instructions (you get two packages in one box).  It was warm and humid her yesterday and it ended up all sticking together.  I was afraid it wasn't going to work, but I just floured a cabinet surface and rolled it out like a pie crust.  So if this happens to you, don't worry.  Or just keep an eye on it and fold it out just as it begins to thaw.

And last of all, I used my NuWave oven and set it for 45 minutes (on the 1" rack) and the pastry and salmon came out perfectly.  And it didn't heat up my kitchen!  I have a feeling that by the end of summer, I'm going to become a NuWave spokesman.

SALMON WELLINGTON (4 servings)

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 pound salmon fillet
1/2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1/2 tsp dried leaf oregano
1/2 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and wrung out
1/2 of a 17.3 oz package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 egg white, beaten

Preheat an oven to 375F (190C).

Sprinkle salt on both sides of the salmon.  Mix the thyme, oregano, basil, dill, mustard, and mayo in a small bowl and spread over the salmon, then sprinkle the feta cheese on top.  Layer the spinach over the feta cheese.

Roll the pastry out wide enough and long enough to wrap around the salmon, about 1/4" thickness.  Place the salmon in the center of the pastry and fold the pastry over the salmon.  Place the roll seam-side down on a baking sheet.  Cut several small slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape.  Brush the egg whites onto the pastry.

Bake in the preheated oven until pastry is golden brown and and salmon flakes easily with a fork, about 45 minutes.

Recipe Source: www.allrecipes.com
 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos


These little babies are so good, quick, and easy and a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken!  I halved the original recipe and since there are just two of us, it made 6 taquitos last night and I have enough leftover filling to make 6 more which I will put together and freeze for another quick dinner (or snack).  Serve these with guacamole, salsa, and/or sour cream.  I made a simple green salad with tomatoes topped with guacamole. 

CREAMY BAKED CHICKEN TAQUITOS (makes about 12 taquitos)

3 oz cream cheese, softened (reduced-fat is fine)
1/3 cup salsa verde
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
3 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp chopped scallions
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup shredded cheese, use one or a mixture: sharp cheddar, pepperjack, Mexican blend
12 (6") corn tortillas
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (I used the NuWave oven).

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt.  Fold in the chicken and cheeses.  Taste and season with additional S&P if necessary.

Working 3 tortillas at a time, stack them on a microwave-safe plate and cover with plastic wrap.  Cook 30 seconds, or until tortillas are soft and pliable.  NOTE:  I was able to skip this step as my tortillas were already pliable.

Spoon 2-3 Tbsp of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly.  Place seam side-down on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.

Spray the taquitos lightly with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas and crisp and golden-brown.  Serve with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

To freeze: Prepare the taquitos, but before baking, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until taquitos are completely cold.  Wrap each taquito in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and freeze.  To bake, unwrap the taquitos and cook in a 425F oven for 20 minutes (no need to thaw first).

Recipe Source:  www.OurBestBites.com

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Guacamole


The primary reason I started this blog was to keep track of my own personal menus and recipes.  While there are many variations of guacamole, this is my standard recipe I almost always fall back on.  When avocados are on sale I stock up.  I love them on sandwiches and in salads {even on their own}, but as they start to over-ripen, I always use the leftovers for guacamole. 

So this isn't so much a recipe as a guideline, at least for myself.  If avocados are pricey, you can stretch the spread by adding some mayo or cottage cheese.  If you are a cilantro afficionado, mince some up to add to the dip.

Quantities are to your taste.  I have just five ingredients I generally use.  Adjust them to suit your tastes.

GUACAMOLE

Avocado(s)
prepared salsa
finely minced sweet onion
freshly-squeezed lime juice
salt

Mash the avocados to your liking (very smooth or chunky).  Add other ingredients, stir to combine. 

For storing, squeeze additional lime juice to avoid dip turning brown.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Salmon Croquettes


I grew up on canned-salmon salmon croquettes.  Not that there was much of a choice when it came to salmon back in 1960's Oklahoma!  So it never really occurred to me that croquettes could be made out of fresh salmon until some years ago when I ran across this recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  And what a difference!  It's a wonderful, different way to get those healthy Omega-3 fatty acids that salmon is infamous for.  I will never use canned salmon again (except to snack on that wonderful soft bone in the center of the can!)

SALMON CROQUETTES (serves 2)

1/2 to 3/4 pound salmon fillet, very finely chopped
1 Tbsp mayo
2 Tbsp finely grated onion
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3/4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste
flour
egg or egg beaters
panko breadcrumbs

Mix the first 6 ingredients (salmon through salt) together.  Divide the mixture into four parts.  Pat into equal-sized patties.

Place on a cookie sheet or plate lined with waxed paper and put into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Have three plates or bowls ready.  Place the flour in one, the egg in the next, and the breadcrumbs in the last one.  This part is a bit messy and you'll need to rinse you hands and utensil after making each patty.  Dip the patty first into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs.  Fry in a skillet with either vegetable oil or a pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook until brown on both sides.

NOTE:  I traditionally serve these with macaroni and cheese and green beans.

Recipe Source:  Cook's Illustrated


Monday, May 5, 2014

Char's Sausage and Peppers


I have a couple of recipes that I posted a few years ago, but need to be repeated.  Afterall, don't you have a handful of recipes that you keep going back to?

This one is a dish I never would have thought I'd even like.  I'm not a big fan of cooked peppers (sweet/bell), but I do loves me onions and sausage!  While working at a now- defunct Italian restaurant in Red Wing, MN (the owner, Char, has since moved on to Florida), I watched in wonder as her teenage cook made this fantastic concoction of a luscious red wine sauce with pepper, onions, and sausage and served over a bed of pasta of your choice.  He referred to the sauce as "liquid gold."  Oh, how right he was.

I could, actually, make a soup out of this liquid.  Holy smokes, is this stuff good!   But then add in some sweet peppers, sweet onion, and any Italian sausage of your choice (regular, turkey, sweet, hot) and do you ever have an incredible dish!  I used to serve this with a Caesar salad and a good crusty artisan bread, but that is all superfluous.  This dish is all you need.

CHAR'S SAUSAGE and PEPPERS (serves 4)

EVOO, enough to cover the bottom of a stock pot
1 large sweet onion, julienned
2-3 red peppers, depending on size, julienned, or 1 package of mini sweet peppers (1 lb) of a mixture of red/orange/yellow peppers
1 medium green pepper, julienned
6-8 tsp minced garlic
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
3/4 bottle red wine (Char always used Carlos Rossi Paisano), but I have used others
3 to 4 links of Italian sausage (your choice: regular, turkey, hot, mild)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sugar
6-12 oz cooked pasta, shape and amount of your choice

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add peppers and cook about 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste and wine.  Bring to a boil then turn down to a low simmer.  Cook uncovered for a couple of hours until sauce is reduced by at least half. Add sugar and butter.

Saute the sausage (you can saute the entire link or cut into chunks, I have done it both ways.  Whole links are nice for presentation, but chunks are easier for eating).  Add sausage and drippings to sauce.  Simmer for another half an hour.

Serve this on pasta.  If you want, make it the day ahead, it's even better on the second day!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tequila-Lime Shrimp and Quinoa Bowls


Two of my favorite things in own bowl: quinoa and shrimp!  And everything can be made ahead of time.  So mix up the marinade and vinaigrette in the morning (even cook the quinoa and shrimp {after it has marinated for a bit} and let it chill) and then simply toss everything else for a quick, light summer dinner.  This is a one dish meal....you don't even need to heat up a baquette unless you just want to.  This dish has it all.

TEQUILA-LIME SHRIMP and QUINOA BOWLS (serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main)

Salad:
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup chicken broth (could use vegetable broth or water)
15 oz can corn, drained (or 1 3/4 cup fresh or frozen-then-thawed corn)
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Shrimp and Marinade:
3/4 lb (12 oz) raw peeled and de-veined shrimp
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup tequila
juice of 2 limes (microwave for about 15 seconds if your limes are hard)
1 Tbsp honey
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
S&P

Chile-Lime Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup EVOO
2 Tbsp honey
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp chili powder
S&P

For the quinoa:
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan then add quinoa and place a lid on top.  Turn heat down to medium-low then simmer until quinoa is tender and broth has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork then transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.

For the tequila-lime shrimp:
Whisk together all ingredients except shrimp in a large bowl or ziplock bag then add shrimp and marinade for 10 minutes.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat then mist with olive oil or nonstick spray.  Add shrimp, being careful not to crowd the pan (may need to do 2 or 3 batches) then saute for 1-2 minutes on each side or until cooked through.  Add to bowl with cooked quinoa.

For the chile-lime vinaigrette:
Combine ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or in a small bowl then shake or whisk to combine and set aside.


To prepare the bowls:
In the bowl with the quinoa and shrimp, add corn, black beans, avocado, red onion, and cilantro, then drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Toss to combine then taste and adjust S&P if necessary.  Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Summer Squash Soup


With summer just around the bend, summer vegetables like tomatoes, squash, and zucchini might likely be finding themselves left on your doorsteps overnight by well-meaning friends and neighbors!  Should you find yourself with an abundance of yellow crookneck squash, here's a really simple but filling and wholesome soup for which you can use them.  6 ingredients, quick and easy.  The original recipe calls for all vegetable or chicken broth, but I substituted half of the liquid with half-and-half to make it a bit creamier.  You'll also want to adjust S&P seasonings to your liking.

SUMMER SQUASH SOUP (4 servings)

2 Tbsp EVOO
1 medium onion (5 oz/142 g), peeled, diced
1 pound (452 g) summer squash, diced
2 heads garlic, roasted (cut off heads of garlic bulbs; place in small microwave-safe dish; place water to cover about 1/3 of the garlic bulbs; drizzle with EVOO & S&P; microwave for about 7 1/2 minutes at 50% power; let cool; squeeze roasted garlic cloves out)
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) vegetable or chicken broth or a combination of broth and half-and-half
1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
S&P to taste

Saute onion, squash, and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until golden, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add broth (and half-and-half, if using).  Simmer about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Place mixture into a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Reheat if necessary.

Recipe Source:  adapted from "Vitamix Creations"