Monday, June 30, 2014

Feta-Stuffed Chicken

Here's another quick and easy recipe with just a handful of ingredients.  The recipe came from a Cooking Light cookbook so it is, as published, very low in fat and calories.  However, if the chicken is just the tiniest bit overcooked, the chicken can become very dry.  Therefore, I would suggest adding a touch of butter to the stuffing as insurance.

The salad was a real surprise given it, too, only had a few ingredients:  spinach, basil, EVOO & balsamic vinegar.  Granted, I used my favorite and sparingly used "GOOD" EVOO (Laudemio) and balsamic (Cavalli) which is so smooth.  I did sprinkle some extra feta on the salad to add a bit more color.


4 (4 oz) skinned, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 oz) crumbled feta cheese with basil and tomatoes
vegetable cooking spray
1 1/2 tsp butter or margarine, melted
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp EVOO
1/8 tsp pepper

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4" thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin.  Dredge chicken in breadcrumbs.  Spoon 1 Tbsp cheese onto each piece of chicken; fold chicken in half.

Place folded breast halves in an 8x8" square baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Drizzle melted butter or margarine over chicken.  Bake, uncovered, at 400F for 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Combine spinach and basil in a bowl; drizzle with oil and vinegar.  Sprinkle pepper over salad; toss well.  Serve chicken over salad.

Recipe Source:  Cooking Light Five*Star Recipes (1999), p. 112

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Teriyaki Maple Salmon

This is going to be the shortest ingredient list I have ever posted.  Talk about easy:

2 parts teriyaki sauce (I only use Soy Vay brand)
1 part pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B, but Grade A would work fine)
salmon filet(s)

That's it.  Here's what I did:

I used a one 8 ounce salmon filet with 2 Tbsp of teriyaki and 1 Tbsp of maple syrup.  I kept the skin on the filet and marinated the salmon with sauce/syrup mixture for a couple of hours.

When ready to cook, use whatever heat source you would like to do at the time: grill, bake, broil.  I used my NuWave :) (keeping my kitchen cool).  I recommend cooking the salmon in some type of vessel so you can baste it when you turn it, thereby keeping the salmon moist.  In the NuWave, I cooked my 1" center-cut filet 6-7 minutes (skin-side up) then turned it, basted it, and cooked it for another 5 minutes.  It came out perfectly moist and flaky (I also cooked at the same time about 1/2 pound of trimmed, thin asparagus spears drizzled with EVOO & S&P for 6 minutes on the 4" rack).  An ear of corn-on-the-cob (husk and silk removed, covered in a paper towel and microwaved {2 ears} for 5 minutes) and dinner was on the table in just over 10 minutes with a cool kitchen, to boot!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Oh this soup is so good!  Generally I would half a recipe of this amount, but I had a feeling it was going to a winner and it was.  Actually, it was a Taste of Home Grand Prize Winner.

I did make one personal tweak.  The recipe added an optional sprig of fresh tarragon.  I love fresh tarragon in creamy soups and tried a cup of it with some chopped tarragon and liked it even better.  So I'm listing that at the end of the recipe as an option.  If you're not sure, just try a small cup with a bit of the chopped herb.  Add it to the entire pot or increase the dried tarragon to suit your taste.

CREAM of CAULIFLOWER SOUP (8-10 servings, about 2 quarts)

2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup plus 6 Tbsp butter, divided
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
S&P to taste
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
6 Tbsp AP flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, optional
Fresh tarragon sprigs, optional

In a soup kettle or Dutch oven, saute the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a 1/4 cup butter until tender.  Add cauliflower, broth, parsley, S&P, basil, and tarragon.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the remaining butter.  Stir in flour until smooth.  Gradually stir in the milk and whipping cream.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Add to cauliflower mixture.  Cook for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat; stir in sour cream.  Stir in additional fresh or dried tarrragon and garnish with tarragon sprigs if desired.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shrimp and Fusilli Salad

Keeping an eye out for recipes featuring dill (I'm still on that road), I ran across this idea the other day in a magazie.  However, it called for a can of tuna and broccoli florets.  I happened to have a few extra bags of small shrimp on hand and asparagus was so sale so I changed it up a bit and turned out wonderfully.  The recipe called for 2 Tbsp of chopped dill and I was afraid it might be too much, but it was perfect.

The recipe called for ranch dressing, but after finding the perfect buttermilk salad dressing recipe, I'll never go back to that premade bottled dressing.  That recipe is listed below.

I roasted the shrimp yesterday and mixed up the rest (except the dressing) earlier today.  A great hot summer lunch or dinner.

SHRIMP and FUSILLI SALAD (2 servings)

1 (12 oz) package 51/60 uncooked shrimp
1 cup uncooked fusilli (corkscrew pasta)
15-20 asparagus spears, depending on size of stalks, giving you 1 cup cooked asparagus
8-12 grape or cherry tomatoes (depending on size), halved
1-2 pickling cucumbers, partially peeled, chopped
1/4 cup (or to taste) buttermilk dressing
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

Shell the shrimp and remove tails.  Toss with a bit of EVOO and coarsely-ground black pepper.  Turn broiler on high.  Broil for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are pink.  Chill in refrigerator.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain and rinse.

Trim asparagus by snapping off tough ends.  If boiling, cut spears into 1" pieces and boil for  2 to 3 minutes, depending on the diameter.  Drain and then place into iced water to stop cooking. If steaming, cook entire spear until crisp-tender.  Let cool and then cut into 1" pieces.

Half tomatoes, chop cucumbers and dill.  Add to pasta and asparagus.  Add chilled shrimp.  Stir until dill is well mixed.  When ready to serve, toss with buttermilk dressing.

Recipe Source:  adapted from "Italian Tuna and Fusilli Salad," Cooking Club magazine, Summer 2014, p. 62

BUTTERMILK DRESSING (makes about 1 cup)

3/4 cup mayo (I use half regular and half reduced-fat)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use fat-free)
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
S&P to taste

Mix all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors.  Cover and refrigerate and remaining dressing.

* For Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing, add 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 tsp paprika.

Recipe Source:  Betty Crocker

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fried Green Tomatoes

Being a true Southern girl now for 6 years, I felt it was my duty to make fried green tomatoes.  I made my first batch last year but, unfortunately, it was towards the end of summer and the only green tomatoes weren't absolutely green so the outcome was a bit messy and not firm.  When I was in the market the other day, I spotted some new-crop firm green tomatoes from a local farm.  So I picked one up.

I will be honest:  I would only make these once a year for two reasons.  One, it's a bit messy and two, this doesn't really fall into the healthy/lo-cal category.  But these are better than the ones I've ordered in local restaurants.  I initially thought the 1/2" cuts were going to be too thick, but if you get yourself a very firm green tomato, it comes out perfectly and you still get that bit of tanginess.  And for me, freshly-ground coarse black pepper makes all the difference.  But be careful not to overdo it.

This is a great side dish for shrimp and grits and even better if you eat them while watching the wonderful movie "Fried Green Tomatoes!"


4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup cornmeal (I used both white and yellow)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/4 tsp (or more to taste) ground black pepper
1 quarter vegetable oil for frying

Slice the tomatoes 1/2" thick.  Discard the ends.

Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl.  Scoop flour onto a plate.  Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and S&P on another plate.  Dip tomatoes into flour to coat.  Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture.  Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.

In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so there is 1/2" of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat.  Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet.  Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other.  When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side.  Drain them well on paper towels.

Recipe Source:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mushroom and Brie Soup with Fresh Dill

The last few days I've had a real craving for fresh dill.  Maybe because mine in my herb garden has really taken off (due to the absence of bunnies this year?)  I also apparently had a craving for mushrooms as I had picked up two batches when I found them for a dollar at Aldi's the other day.  And I'm apparently on a real soup run, evidenced by my making a batch of matzo ball soup last night at about 10:00 (with dill, of course).  Anywho...I knew I needed to use up the mushrooms so I decided to tweak that incredible mushroom and brie soup (see 4-1-14 post) by adding some dill.

I really made just a few changes to that recipe.  I used a lightly-filled 1/4 cup of freshly chopped dill, but think I would add more (I added some fresh to the finished product, but I prefer that slightly heated dill in the processed soup).  So that is up to your personal tastes.  I also lessened the garlic, broth, eliminated the S&P (you can also add that to suit your tastes).  

Save a couple of the quartered mushrooms for garnish and, of course, a little sprig of that lovely fresh dill.

MUSHROOM and BRIE SOUP with FRESH DILL (makes 5 cups)

1 Tbsp oil
1 pound mushrooms, quartered (I used white button mushrooms)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 cup lightly-filled fresh dill (reserve some for garnish)
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable stock (I used Knorr vegetable stock which comes in a gel-form in tubs, found in the soup aisle)
4 oz Brie or Camembert, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup cream
S&P to taste (I suggest adding after tasting finished product)

Toss the mushrooms in the oil, place on baking sheet in a single layer and roast in a preheated 400F oven until they start to carmelize, about 20-30 minutes, mixing them up once during the cooking (30-35 minutes in a NuWave or you can also saute them with the onions, see next step).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the flour and cook 2 minutes.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan.

Add the broth and mushrooms, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the milk and brie, let the brie melt, fish out the rinds, add the fresh dill and puree to desired consistency.  Add fresh dill (if desired) and S&P to taste.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Teriyaki Salmon and Pineapple Quesadillas

I ran across this recipe the other day and thought "What a wonderful idea!"  Teriyaki salmon and pineapple in a quesadilla!

There are several components to this so don't feel overwhelmed.  I made the salmon, grilled the pineapple, prepped the salmon glaze and Srirachi mayo earlier in the day (along with chopping some green onions and red peppers). While I also made the pineapple salsa earlier in the day, I would suggest doing that at the last minute as the onions lost their bright purple color and turned pink (see prettier photos on Kevin's blog, address below).

For the salmon, I simply put a filet in a ziploc bag and let it marinate in some prepared teriyaki sauce for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight (I use the Soy Vay brand) and for the glaze, I made a slurry using about 1/2 tsp of cornstarch mixed into 1 tsp of cold water.  I warmed about 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce and then added and mixed the slurry until thickened.   This was used to drizzle inside the quesadilla and on the outside.  I baked the salmon in my NuWave on the 1" rack for 8 minutes (my filet was 3/4" thick).  Kevin's directions are below.

For the Srirachi mayo, I mixed 2-3 Tbsp mayo with about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of Srirachi (depending on how much heat you like).  For both the glaze and the mayo, I put them into a baggie and cut a tiny corner off the baggie and used that to pipe into/onto the quesadilla.

You will need a fork with these quesadillas as the pineapple can tend to soften them.  This is not the traditional crisp gooey cheese-stretching dish you're used to!  You can either make one full 8" quesadilla or one and a half, depending on if you want two or three quarters each.


2-3 (8") flour tortillas
1/2 to 3/4 cup jack cheese, shredded
1/4 to 1/3 cup teriyaki salmon, cooked
1/4 to 1/2 cup pineapple, sliced and optionally grilled
1-2 green onions, sliced (some reserved for garnish)
teriyaki glaze
Sriracha mayo, optional
chopped red pepper, optional, for garnish

Marinate salmon in teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes to overnight, place in a baking dish and bake in a preheated oven set to broil until the salmon flakes easily, about 7-10 minutes.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat, place one tortilla in the pan (no need to butter or oil the tortilla), sprinkle half of the cheese followed by the salmon, pineapple, green onion, teriyaki glaze, Srirachi mayo (if using), the remaining cheese, and tortilla.

Cook until the quesadilla is golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Cut into quarters.  Drizzle with teriyaki glaze and Srirachi mayo.  Top with a bit of pineapple sauce (serve extra on the side).  Garnish with green onions and chopped red peppers, if desired.


1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded, and finely diced
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Heat your grill (pan) over medium-high heat.

Lightly brush the pineapple slices with oil and grill for 2 minutes on each side.

Dice the pineapple and mix all of the ingredients.

Recipe Source:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chopped Thai Crunch Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

First of all, please forgive me for the sketchy postings of late....I think the heat is really getting to me and I have just been exhausted all week.  Secondly, I really wish I had a better close-up of this incredible salad or at least some leftovers to take a new photo.

Let me tell you why you must try this.  One:  It is delicious.  Two:  It is beautiful.  Three:  It is ultra-nutritious.  Four:  You can make everything ahead of time and it will keep for several days because it's all crunchy stuff that won't get soggy.  Five:  You can adjust the ingredients to your liking (I add extra edamame).

I cut the recipe in half since there are just two of us and it make plenty for a big entree salad for each of us with enough leftovers for my lunch the next day.  I figure I could make a half recipe during the week when Jim is out of town and have a fantastic lunch or dinner everyday while he is gone.

Delicious, beautiful, full of color and texture.  It's the proverbial party in your mouth!


2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

4 Tbsp rice vinegar
4 Tbsp sweet Thai chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
S&P (a pinch of each)

Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp very hot water, plus more if needed

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped napa cabbage
1 cup chopped red cabbage
1 cup diced cucumber, peeled or not
1 cup edamame
1 cup small diced carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
Peanuts for topping, optional

For the chicken, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, S&P.  Place the chicken in a ziploc bag or shallow dish and cover with the marinade.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours (the longer it marinates, the better the flavor).  Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill 6-7 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate and let cool.  Chop into bite-sized pieces.

For the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a liquid measure or small mason jar and whisk (or shake) until well combined.  The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. 

For the peanut dressing, whisk together (or again, shake in a mason jar) all the ingredients until well combined.  Add additional hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dressing is smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

For the salad, toss together all of the salad ingredients with the cooled and chopped chicken.  This will stay crunchy until ready to dress and serve.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and toss until well-coated.  Serve the salad with the peanut dressing on the side to drizzle on top.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Easy Chinese Corn Soup

There's just about nothing easier to make than egg drop soup.  And I do loves me some egg drop soup.  I ran across this which simply adds cream corn to the mix and a whole new texture to the soup.

It takes just minutes to make and is a great accompaniment to any Asian dish.


1 (15 oz) can cream-style corn
1 (14.5 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cornstarch
chopped chives, optional, for garnish
freshly grated black pepper, optional

In a saucepan, combine the corn and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  In a small bowl or cup, mix together the cornstarch and water; pour into the boiling corn soup and continue cooking for about 2 minutes or until thickened.  Gradually add the beaten egg while stirring the coup.

Remove from serve and garnish with chives and pepper, if desired.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lightened Orange Beef and Broccoli

We're not big beef eaters here, so the few times a year I make a beef dish, it's generally Asian-inspired.  Every so often, I get a taste for Beef and Broccoli.  When I ran across this which is infused with orange flavor, I knew I would try it when I got a craving.

I found the recipe on  Have you seen her blog?  She's a cutie and if you do a search for this recipe you can read how she came about combining the ingredients.  NOTE:  My only personal change I would make in this is lowering the amount of orange zest.  For me, it was over-powering.  She calls for 2 tsp, but I would recommend starting with 1 tsp and adding more if you desire (taste after the sauce is thickened and then add more if you like).  Also, she calls for using 1 1/2 pounds of beef.  I used 1 pound of a beef fillet and it was plenty.

Also, I found it interesting that she recommends using pre-made {like Simply Orange} or from concentrate instead of freshly-squeezed.  Her reasoning (which makes absolute sense) is that one person in Minnesota in August will likely get a vastly different flavor/sweetness than someone in Florida would get in February (peak season being January through March) and by using the pre-made or from-concentrate, everyone would get a consistent result.  But if you prefer freshly-squeezed and can get your hands on some lovely sweet and juicy oranges, do it!

Please don't look at the ingredients list and think it is too daunting.  The beef and the sauce can easily be made ahead and then combined within minutes at serving time.


1 to 1 1/2 lb flank or sirloin steak and cut very thinly, shaved if possible (partially freeze the beef for easier thin slicing)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch, divided
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice (for best results use pre-made or from concentrate, not fresh)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1-2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cups (2-3 stalks, depending on size) broccoli florets
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil
cooked rice, for serving
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish, optional

Add steak to a large ziplock bag then add 1 Tbsp each soy sauce and cornstarch.  Seal then squish to evenly coat and then place in the refrigerator to marinate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce and remaining 1 Tbsp cornstarch with chicken broth, orange juice, rice vinegar, sugar, orange zest, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper then set aside.

Heat a large wok on nonstick skillet over high heat then add broccoli and water.  Stir fry until broccoli is crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes then remove to a plate and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet then add half of the marinated beef in one layer.  Do not disturb for 30 seconds, or until bottom is golden brown.  Flip slices then saute other side until no longer pink.  This goes very quickly, especially if you've been able to very thinly slice the beef.  Don't overcook the beef or it will become tough.  Remove to a plate then cook remaining beef and add to broccoli.

Add the sauce to the wok then cook until thickened and reduced, about 5 mintues.  Add cooked beef and broccoli back into the skillet and stir to combine and warmed throughout.  Serve over cooked rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Recipe Source:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Barramundi with Tomatoes and Basil Mousse

Holy Smoklin' Doklins!!!  (a Southern term) is this stuff good and seriously not all that bad for you!  A fish dish with a tad bit of decadence of pesto and cream (really, not too much) with a wonderful complement of blistered tomatoes.  Quick, easy, and oh so good!!!  I served this with steamed asparagus and my most favorite Crushed Potatoes with Buttermilk Dressing (see 9-5-13 post).  I used an 8 oz filet for the two of us, so obviously I widdled the recipe down to match the servings.  A most perfect dinner.


For the fish:
4 barrimundi fillets with skin (6 oz each)....halibut is a good substitute
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

For basil mousse:
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp basil pesto

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Dry the fillets well on paper towels and season generously with S&P on both sides.

Set a large oven-proof non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add olive oil.  Place the fish in the pan (the nicer side looking side down).  Sear until evenly browned, 2-3 minutes.

Flip the fish, spread the cherry tomatoes in the pan around the fish.  Sprinkle them with a little salt.  Turn tomatoes to coat with pan juices and set the pan in the middle of the oven to finish cooking the fish.  The total cooking time (searing plus baking) will be around 8 minutes per inch of thickness.  To test for doneness, separate the flakes in the thickest part and peek inside.  The fish is done when a trace of translucency still remains in the center.

While the fish is cooking, make the basil mousse.  Whip the cream by hand or with an electric beater until foamy.  Add the pesto and beat until soft peaks form (don't overbeat as the cream might separate).  Season to taste with salt.

Place the fish on 4 plates.  Spoon tomatoes over fish and top with basil mousse.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chorizo and Black Bean Rice

Now here is one unbelievably delicious Mexican dinner side dish!  WOW!  I generally make the "Joy of Cooking" Spanish rice (see 5-12-13 post) as my basic go-to side dish for any Mexican entree but ran across this a few weeks ago.  And since I had some chorizo in the freezer which I needed to use, voila!!!  a new side dish has been born.

This does make a lot (8-10 servings), but leftovers will freeze well for the future.  That is, if there are any leftovers.

CHORIZO and BLACK BEAN RICE (8-10 servings)

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 tsp garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1 lb chorizo, casing removed and crumbled
2 tsp ground anato (found in the herb/spice or Latin aisle of your grocery store)
2 tsp kosher or 1 tsp table salt, or to taste
1 tsp ground black pepepr
3/4 tps ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups long-grain white rice
3 cups water
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a 5-qt stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the crumbled chorizo and cook for 7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the anato, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and white wine and cook for 3 minutes, stirring until fully combined.

Add the rice and stir until it's fully incorporated with the vegetable mixture.  Add in the water and cook, uncovered and without stirring, until all of the liquid is evaporated.  Add the black beans and stir until evenly incorporated.  Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot, and cook for 18-20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Remove the lid, add the chopped cilantro, and mix until evenly incorporated.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Green Pea Soup

I don't think it's any big secret that I love soup.  Love it, love it, love it.  Morning, noon, and night.  I always try to keep some on hand so I have have something nutritious instead of reaching for the chips.

I watch a couple of cooking shows and competitions and lately I've seen them featuring pea soup.  I had never had green pea soup nor have I made it (not split pea mind you....that's a whole other (and wonderful) dish).  But I love peas (I always keep a bag in the freezer and pour a bowl out, let them thaw, and then snack on them).  So why wouldn't I like pea soup?  Turns out I do.  A lot.  It is absolutely delicious, nutritious, filling, and incredibly low in fat and calories (lighten it even more by using cooking spray instead of butter in the first step) and high in fiber.

I researched some recipes and they're all pretty basically the same.  This is just about as easy as you can get.  Peas, a leek, some mint, and broth.  While I like mint, I wasn't sure how it was going to come out.  But nothing could have complemented the soup as well. 

A few notes.  Note that this recipe calls for kosher salt and, in my opinion, too much.  So start out with much can always add more.  And if you do use table salt instead, be sure to use half of what the recipe calls for or you will end up with salt soup. 

Also, this is a soup that can be served chilled or warm.  I'm not a big fan of chilled soup (I make gazpacho only once or twice a year), but this is a good one if you do like it cold. 

GREEN PEA SOUP (4 servings....well, maybe!)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise and rinsed, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 tsp kosher salt, divided (start with much less and add to taste)
2 1/2 cups homemade vegetable broth or 1 cup low-sodium canned vegetable broth mixed with 1 1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper, more as needed
3 cups shelled fresh peas (about 2 1/2 pounds of peas in their pods) or 1 (16 oz) package frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves (stems and hard veins removed)
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
Creme fraiche or sour cream for garnish, optional

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming.  Add the leek, 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the broth, remaining salt (start with 1/2 tsp and add more to your taste), and any more pepper you would like and bring to a boil.  Add the peas and bring to a boil again.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes (not necessary if using thawed frozen peas).

Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves and stir to combine.  Let sit uncovered until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.

Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth (you may need to remove the small cap on the lid and cover with a kitchen towel to allow the steam to escape and prevent splatter). 

Transfer the soup to a clean saucepan (if serving warm) or a heatproof bowl and stir in the lemon juice.  Taste and season with any salt, pepper, or lemon juice if necessary.

Top with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, if desired.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Warm Nappa Slaw

This is Part Two of yesterday's listing.  Just when I think I've found my favorite coleslaw, WHAM!!!!  I new one comes down the pike!

Again, a Publix demo.  These people come up with the best and simplest of dishes.  And they're great at making the best substitutions.  The first day they made this slaw, they followed the recipe.  But then the produce department ran out of the Nappa cabbage, so they substituted angel-hair cole slaw and they all agreed they like that version even better. 

Also, this recipe calls for spinach salad dressing (they used Marie's brand, found in the produce department).  Since it's a relatively small amount, I was just going to make my bacon viniagrette that I usually make when making a spinach salad.  But when making a new recipe for the first time, I like to follow it as directed and then make my personal desired changes the second time around.  So I splurged and bought the dressing.  So glad I did!

I used it the next night on a spinach salad and a wonderful marinated tilapia....a bonus thanks to Publix.  But back to today's post.

One adjustment I did make (outside of using the angel hair slaw), I cut the recipe in half.  I ended up using about 2/3 to 3/4 bag of a 10 oz bag of slaw mix and cut everything else in half.  But I'm posting this recipe as Publix printed it.  I could make a meal out of this slaw.  Holy Smokes!  It is so good.

WARM NAPPA SLAW (6 servings)

1 medium head Nappa cabbage, thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, thinly chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms (2 cups)
1/3 cup spinach salad dressing
2 tsp country Dijon mustard
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat large saute pan on medium 2-3 minutes.  Place bacon in pan; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until crisp.  Remove bacon, reserving 2 Tbsp drippings in pan.  Add mushrooms to drippings, cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

Combine spinach dressing and mustard then stir into mushrooms, cook and stir 1 minute.

Remove pan fromheat; pour dressing over cabbage.  Add blue cheese and bacon; toss until evenly coated.  Serve.

Recipe Source:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chicken Herb Sandwich

Publix has done it again.  Honestly, just when I think I've found my favorite demo-ed recipe, they come up with something that just goes over the top.  They served this with a slaw (which I will post tomorrow) and I couldn't decide which I liked better: the sandwich or the slaw.  Really, these two are fantastic!

Their recipe calls for using ciabatta rolls, but they were using their store bakery French hamburger buns which have a crusty outside and chewy inside, just like a good ciabatta.  Also, they call for using a deli rotisserie chicken, but I made that wonderful Rosemary Baked Chicken (see 4-29-14 post) in the NuWave.  Also, it calls for Swiss cheese, but I used smoked provolone.

These are made open-faced.  Again, I used the NuWave so I didn't heat up my kitchen on a hot summer evening.  The ciabatta rolls this recipe calls for must be a pretty good size, because the directions call to cut them in half which each half constitutes a full serving.  I simply used two of the French hamburger buns and served a full sandwich to each of us.


1 deli rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup light mayo
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning herb paste (found in most produce comes in a tube and the brand name found here is "Gourmet Garden")
3 bakery ciabatta rolls, sliced
4 oz sliced mushrooms (1 cup)
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 (1 oz) slices Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.
Shred chicken (breast only) into large pieces (2 cups)

Cut ciabatta rolls in half.  Combine mayo and herb paste, spread 1 Tbsp evenly over both sides of rolls and place on baking sheet.  Divide chicken evenly over bottom halves of rolls.  Top remaining upper halves of rolls with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese.

Bake sandwiches (open-faced) 10-12 minutes or until chicken is hot and mushrooms are tender.  Assemble sandwiches; cut each in half.  Serve.

Recipe Source:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Chilled Shrimp Pasta Salad

Here's a great summer salad that can be made the morning ahead.  I keep the cooked pasta separate (in a plastic bag in the refrigerator) and then mix it all together at serving time.  And while the recipe didn't call for it, I added some chopped fresh dill (since my dill has really taken off this year, thanks to the absence of rabbits).  When it's time to eat, all you need to do is maybe heat a nice artisan bread, set the table, and enjoy a wonderful lunch or dinner.


1 1/2 cups uncooked small pasta (shells, penne, ditalini)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
2 Tbsp horseradish sauce
1 Tbsp grated onion
3/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb peeled and deveined cooked small shrimp
1/2 cucumber or 1 to 2 small pickling cucumbers, chopped
1-2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
fresh dill, chopped, optional
lettuce leaves, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain; rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, mix sour cream, mayo, horseradish sauce, onion, seasoned salt and pepper.  Stir in shrimp, cucumber, celery, and dill, if using.  Refrigerate until serving.  At serving time, fold in pasta and serve on lettuce (if using).

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home, June 2014, p. 60

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chicken Liver Pate

Ahhh....back to pictures!!!  I will do my best to see that it doesn't happen again.

This is another recipe from the restaurant in Minnesota I worked it called "Oar d'oeuvre,"  a nautical themed restaurant with an emphasis on hors d'oeuvres.   And she had some great recipes.

This was one of my favorites.  But you definitely have to have a liking for chicken livers.  It's easy to make and freezes well.  Her recipe (below) calls for making one large bowl, but in the restaurant (and when I make it), we made smaller portions.  I use the 4 oz "monkey" bowls (see photos below).  Since I am the only one here who loves this dish, I make several bowls and freeze them.  I freeze each bowl separately and then, when frozen, I stack them so they take up less freezer space.

Spread this on baguette crostinis (one baguette sliced thinly, lightly brushed with EVOO, place slices on a baking sheet and bake at 325F for 15-20 minutes or until crunchy).  She also served grilled Italian sausages with mustard sauce on the side.

CHICKEN LIVER PATE  (makes one 3-cup bowl or 6-8 (4 oz) bowls)

1/2 pound ground pork or turkey breakfast sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound chicken livers, cut in half
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried chives
1/4 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 tsp marjoram
2 dashes hot sauce

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage and onion until meat is no longer pink.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  In the drippings, cook chicken livers over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink; drain and let cool for 10 minutes.

Place the remaining ingredients (cream cheese through hot sauce) in a food processor and add cook sausage and onions and blend until smooth.

Add chicken livers and continue to blend until "nearly smooth" - leave a little texture.  Pour into a 3 cup serving bowl or mold (or smaller lined "monkey" bowls) lined with plastic wrap.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Smaller portions freeze wonderfully and will keep for months in the freezer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake (no photo)

I can hardly wait to make this again for two reasons:  1) so I can add a photo to this post and 2) because it is an incredible substitute for a side pasta dish.

I love that this super food has gained such popularity and that recipes for it are plentiful.  I really try to limit the simple-carb pasta dishes to just a few times a month so when I made the bruschetta salmon the other day, I needed a good side dish.  This is absolutely wonderful!!!  All the flavors of a baked pasta dish but with the goodness of quinoa.

** NOTE: The recipe calls for a cup of mozzarella, either shredded or fresh.  I think next time I'll use both:  shredded inside the casserole (for the fun cheese stretch!) and fresh for the top for the wonderful, creamy goodness.

And I will be getting a photo to this soon...I can hardly wait to make it again!


2 cups cooked quinoa (*see note)
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella, divided (**see note)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (about 12 tomatoes)
1 large bunch fresh basil, cut into ribbons, divided
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat pasta sauce and tomato paste over low heat in a large saucepan.  Once warm, stir in heavy cream, parmesan, crushed red pepper, S&P.  Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa.  Fold in half of the mozzarella (see note ** above) and half of the tomatoes, then about half of the basil ribbons.  Once combined, spray an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire quinoa mixture into the dish.  Top with fresh mozzarella (or shredded) and the remaining tomatoes.

Bake for 10-15 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil ribbons.  Allow to sit five minutes and then serve.

* NOTE:  1 cup uncooked quinoa yields about 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa.  I make the  entire batch so I have some leftover for a snack.  To cook, bring 2 cups water to a boil, add uncooked quinoa and let simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grilled Bruschetta Salmon (no photo)

Well, I'm just sick!  After loading my new food photos up, I decided to clean up the computer and camera and ended up deleting today and tomorrow's recipe photos!  Ughhh!!!  Please don't hold this against me and if you are a salmon lover, this is a delicious and easy recipe. 

This recipe came from a Kraft "Food & Family" magazine and so, of course, it calls for Kraft products.  One is the Vinaigrette Dressing but I didn't want to buy an entire bottle for one recipe so I found another recipe on-line and used it.  That recipe is listed after the salmon.


1/2 tomato, chopped
1/4 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing made wtih EVOO, divided
1 (1/2 to 3/4 pound) salmon fillet, skin left on
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Heat grill to medium heat.  Combine first 4 ingredients (tomato through cheese) with
1 1/2 Tbsp dressing.  Spray large sheet of heavy-duty foil with cooking spray.

Place foil on grill grate.  Top with fish, flesh side down.

Grill 5 minutes; turn fish.  Brush with remaining dressing.

Top with tomato mixture.

Grill until fish flakes easily.  On my grill, I generally cook fish 10 minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest part of the fish.  My fillet was 1 1/2" thick, so after turning, I cooked it another 10 minutes.

Top with chopped fresh basil.

Recipe Source:  Kraft Food & Family, Summer 2014, p. 14

SUN-DRIED TOMATO VINAIGRETTE DRESSING (enough for recipe, can easily be doubled or more)

1 sun-dried tomato half
3/4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp minced garlic and mashed with 1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves

In a saucepan, simmer the sun-dried tomato in 2" water for 3 minutes, or until they are tender; drain them, and mince them.  In a bowl, whisk together the tomatoes, the vinegars, and the garlic paste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the vinaigrette until it is emulsified.  Stir in the basil.

Recipe Source: