Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quinoa, Beet, and Arugula Salad

I ran across this wonderful quinoa salad while looking for a home for some leftover arugula.  It delicious, healthy, and beautiful (and would look fabulous on your Christmas table).

I do loves me roasted beets and so this was a wonderful excuse to pick up a big batch.  The original recipe ( instructs you to slice and them steam the beets, but I find it easier to bake them like you would a russet potato.  I had some mighty big ones, so I baked them at 350F for about 70 minutes.  Obviously less if you are using smaller beets.  Or take a look at the original recipe and steam them as directed if only cooking one or two small beets.

Also, the recipe calls for red quinoa, but regular quinoa will taste no differently.  But the red does add to the bright colors of the salad.

Goat cheese is added to lend a luscious creaminess to the earthy quinoa and peppery arugula.  I halved this recipe.

QUINOA, BEET, and ARUGULA SALAD (6 servings)

1/2 pound beets
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 green onions, sliced
3 oz arugula, chopped
5 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Cut the ends off of the beets.  Wrap in aluminum foil.  Bake in oven at a temperature you would as if baking a potato.  Check at about 45 minutes and every 10 minutes after until a sharp knife goes in and out easily.  Remove from oven, unwrap and let cool to room temp. Peel and dice.

Bring quinoa and 2 cups water in a saucepan over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, S&P together in a large bowl.

Remove quinoa from heat, then immediately add half of the vinegar dressing while fluffing the quinoa with a fork; reserve remaining dressing.  Cover and refrigerate quinoa until cool, at least 1 hour.

Stir green onions, arugula, goat cheese, beets, and remaining dressing into cooled quinoa mixture.  Toss lightly before servings.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fiery Fish Tacos with Crunchy Corn Salsa

Fish or shrimp tacos....always a great summer dish and so many variations with just about any salsa combination you could imagine.  I loved the crunch of the jicama and the wonderful addition of arugula.  And, still, the incredible summer sweet corn bonanza continues!  Sweet corn cut right of the crunchy.

This original recipe calls for a seasoning of S&P and a bit of cayenne, I substituted Southwest seasoning found in the spice aisle.  It also calls for sour cream, but Jim doesn't like that so I substituted guacamole.  Or use both.  I served these with a side dish of refried beans and Spanish rice.  Also, this recommends using two corn tortillas per tacos, not one.  Absolutely do this.  There is no way a single tortilla would not have disintegrated.  Or, you could use one soft corn and one hard corn tortilla (I use some of the refried beans to "glue" them together.)  Or if you prefer flour tortillas, use those.


6 (4 oz) tilapia (or other mild, white fish) fillets
1 cup fresh corn kernels, cut off of the cob
1 cup peeled and diced jicama
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 to 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves, optional (or substitute a bit of chopped parsley for color)
1 1/2 cups packed baby arugula leaves
1 lime, zested and juiced (2 Tbsp juice)
24 (6") corn tortillas, warmed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 to 2 tsp cayenne, to taste, optional
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup sour cream, optional
guacamole, optional

Preheat a grill on high.  Lightly oil grate.

Mix together corn, jicama, red onion, bell pepper, cilantro, arugula, and lime zest and juice in a bowl.  Toss to combine.

Make 12 stacks of 2 tortillas each.

Combine S&P and cayenne (or any seasoning you're using).  Slice fish fillets lengthwise between thinner and thicker halves,  Brush with oil and sprinkle with spice mixture.  Grill thicker halves until just cooked through, 3 minutes per side. 

Grill thinner halves 1 1/2 minutes per side.  Top each taco with half a fillet, 2 tsp sour cream and/or guacamole, and 1/4 cup salsa.

Recipe Source:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Creamy Horseradish Pork

Thank you (again) Publix!  They have some wonderful recipes, and easy, too (see

We're not big beef/pork eaters here, but when something is on a really good sale, I'll pick something up.  I had a pork tenderloin to use in my freezer-emptying challenge.  Loving horseradish and mustard, I saw this recipe and had to try it.  

One of my problems with pork is that it is so usually so dry.  Not this one.  You don't even need a knife.  It is so moist and tender.

A note: The tenderloins we get are generally 2 one-pound tenderloins packaged together and so when I get them home, I'll separate them and freeze them separately (since I generally cook for just two).  


1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional (or a lesser amount)
1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp half-and-half

Cut pork into 1" thick medallions; season with S&P (wash hands).  Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Place oil in pan, them add pork in single layer; cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove pork from pan.

Add broth to pan and butter to a boil.  Whisk in horseradish, mustard, and red pepper (if using); cook 3-4 minutes or until slightly reduced.  Meanwhile, chop chives.

Remove pan from heat; whisk in butter, half-and-half, and chives.  Return pork to pan and reduce to low; cook 1-2 more minutes or until pork is 145F.  Serve.

Recipe Source:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Roasted Shrimp Salad

This is probably my #1 favorite (and most often prepared) summer entree salad.  I've been making this for years and it's one of the few things I look forward to in the summer.  I first ran across this Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) recipe when I stumbled on an article about roasting shrimp.  Since then, it's about the only way I'll cook shrimp (outside of a sauteeing recipe).  Roasting the shrimp gives it so much flavor and only takes a couple of minutes (be sure to watch don't want overcooked, rubbery shrimp).

Also, the original recipe calls for using freshly squeezed orange juice and zest, but you could probably use lemon or lime.  I've never tried it, though, because I just love the orange flavor with the shrimp.  And I'm really lucky this year, my herb garden is growing like wild fire!  I've never had this much dill and I'm lovin' it.

I've reduced the original recipe down to serve just two, but you can see the original recipe here:  Also, I used smaller 26/30 shrimp taking about 3 minutes to roast.  If you used a different sized shrimp, be sure to adjust the cooking times accordingly.  And I use less than 1/2 of the original dressing, so I've cut the mayo amount in half.


12 oz uncooked shrimp, shelled (I use 26/30 size)
Black pepper
1/4 cup good mayo
1/2 Tbsp orange zest, about 1 orange
1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed orange juice (zest the orange first, and then juice)
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
1 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp small-minced red onion

Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel and devein the shrimp.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with pepper (I omit the salt because the shrimp is salty enough for me).

Place them on a sheet pan (cover with aluminum foil for easier cleanup).  Depending on size, roast the shrimp (26/30s take about 5 minutes....larger 12/15s may take 6-8 minutes, smaller shrimp would take less time.  Shrimp should be pink.).  Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, zest, juice, vinegar and S&P to taste.  Add cooled shrimp and toss.  Add the dill, capers, and red onion and toss well.  The flavors will improve if you allow the salad to sit at room temp for 30 minutes.  Otherwise, chill then serve at room temp.

Recipe Source:  Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Orange Salad

Oops-a-mickey!  Camera problems.....I loaded a couple of new photos and somehow they didn't transfer to my photo gallery.  I have just a couple of more go-to summer dishes that I rely on all season (over and over again!) to post then I can get back to some new stuff.

This is a fabulous side salad to serve with just about any grilled, chicken, or whatever you like.  It's a really simple, few ingredient salad which I always have everything on hand (make the almonds ahead of time....enough to last for the summer....and keep them in the freezer.  The dressing will also keep for months.)  I serve this at least once a week during these dreadful hot, humid summer nights.  Keep a can of mandarins on hand and you should be set to go.


1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
thinly sliced or chopped red onion (to taste)
mandarin oranges (I had an 11 oz can, but only used half and saved the other half in the frig for the next batch)

Sugared Almonds:
6 oz slivered almonds
4-5 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp grated orange peel
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or use the juice from the can of mandarin oranges)
1 Tbsp Good Seasonings Dry Italian Dressing mix
3/4 to 1 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Heat a large non-stick saute pan on medium heat (I used #6 on my smooth-top stove) until hot.  Add almonds and sugar and stir continuously until sugar melts.  I poured mine onto some Reynold's Non-Stick Aluminum Paper (you can use regular aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray).  Let cool.  You will not need all of these almonds for 2 servings.  Put remaining almonds in a humidity-free container and store in the fridge or freezer.

Combine dressing ingredients.  Whisk or shake until combined.

Toss diced lettuce, onions, oranges, and almonds.  Dress with dressing.  If using as an entree salad, sliced some grilled chicken and fan it out. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015


I still can't believe this is one of my favorite go-to summer dinners.  I'm not a big fan of sweet peppers, but once when I worked at a restaurant in Minnesota, the owner made this one of her specials (an Ina Garten "The Barefoot Contessa" recipe).  When I came in the next morning, I had a couple of bites and couldn't believe how much I loved it!  Ten years later, I'm still making it, usually a couple of times of month during the summer.  It's a beautiful, healthy, light dinner to make when Jim has been out working in the hot, humid yard all day long.

Personally, there are three ingredients that are most important to me:  a good baguette (I always use Panera since it's available coast-to-coast and you can always count on its uniformity), pickling cucumbers (versus regular large cucumbers), since they are sweeter, crisper, and don't have those chewy seeds in those big honkin' cukes stores tend to stock, and grape tomatoes, since they have the traditional tomato flavor and available year-around.

One other thing, I tend to buy the packages of mini sweet peppers (you can find them at Aldi's for much less than at your local grocer) and so you don't have to spend a small fortune on one red, one orange, and one yellow pepper.  Just kinda figure out how many small peppers might equal one regular-sized one.  This is a real "guesstimate."  Adjust the ingredients to your liking.

PANZANELLA (4 entree servings)

Cube one baguette.  In Dutch oven, add olive oil to coat the bottom and add kosher salt.  Add bread cubes (you may need to do several batches) and continue to stir until croutons are browned.

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
5-6 pickling cucumbers (I strip 3-4 strips of the peel off, then cut the cuke into 4 lengthwise cuts, then dice) or 1 diced English cucumber
1 red, orange, and yellow sweet pepper, diced
2 semi-thick slices of red onion, diced
about 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp capers

1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO

When ready to serve, mix all of the vegetables with the croutons and vinaigrette. 

Recipe Source:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Capellini Pomodoro

This is a knock-off of an Olive Garden menu item we used to order when we lived in Florida.  We tried it in a couple of other states and it was never as good, so I came up with this recipe that was like the original.

A great summertime pasta dish and oh-so-quick-and-easy!  It's not a hearty pasta dish since you'll use angel hair pasta with just a few ingredients, including some fresh basil from your herb garden.

Serve it with a Caesar salad and a baguette for a perfect light dinner on a hot summer night.


8 to 12 oz angel-hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup onion, diced small, or more to taste
1-2 tsp minced fresh garlic
chopped fresh basil, to taste
salt, optional
Parmesan or Asiago cheese, grated

Saute onions until they begin to soften.  At about the last minute, add garlic and stir until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and basil.  Heat throughout.

Drizzle cooked pasta with olive oil and salt to taste.  Top pasta with tomato mixture.  Add grated cheese.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Baked Swai

FYI....although it's not yet officially summer on the calendar (June 21st), it is definitely summer here in SE Tennessee, 90's with high humidity.  I'm already counting down to September (I am not a fan of summer!)

When it's this hot and humid, I tend to stick to much lighter dinners and rely a lot on seafood, salads, and grilling.  The coming recipes are all repeats, but there's a handful of recipes I use over and over during these summer months.  They're my go-to entrees and side dishes I use at least once a week.

The first one is Baked Swai.  I ran across Swai a few years ago and it immediately took my #1 spot for fish choices.  While I still use tilapia, I prefer the flavor of the Swai.  When I first ran across Swai, I could only find it in one grocery store.  Now it's everywhere....thank goodness!  This is an incredibly versatile fish you can use in so many ways from simple (this recipe) to wonderfully marinated fillets.  I served this with my favorite coleslaw (to follow) and corn-on-the-cob.

BAKED SWAI (4 servings)

1 Tbsp butter or butter-flavored cooking spray
3 Swai fillets, about 6 oz each
3 Tbsp EVOO, divided
1 cup plain breadcrumbs (I prefer Panko)
lemon wedges 

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly butter or spray a 13x9 baking dish.  Brush Swai fillets on both sides with EVOO.  Season with S&P.  Dredge in breadcrumbs on both sides.  Arrange fillets in dish.

Drizzle 1 tsp EVOO over each fillet.  Bake until cooked through, 12-15 minutes.  NOTE TO SELF:  Even if fillet is only 1/2" thick, cook the entire 12-15 minutes.

Turn oven to broil.  Broil until crust is golden, watching closely to avoid burning, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to plates, squeeze lemon over top, and serve.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

First, apologies for the sloppy photo.  I forgot to take a picture before I dished it out.  We were already into a couple of bites before it hit me.

Regardless, this is one delicious, comfort-food recipe.  On my never-ending quest to clean out my freezer (I'm doin' so good, you guys!) I found a ham bone and some frozen ham from Easter.  I had some russets that were becoming a bit, ummm, questionable.

This wonderful list of ingredients came together so well.  The sauce recipe alone is something to hold on to.  A one-dish meal....serve it with a steamed green vegetable to make it complete.


1 meaty ham bone
4 cups peeled and sliced potatoes
2 cups diced ham
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups milk
1 cup frozen peas
3 Tbsp AP flour
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt, optional
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 pound Cheddar cheese, diced
1 pinch paprika, or to taste

Simmer the ham bone in the milk for about 1/2-1 hour until the milk takes on the ham flavor.  Remove the bone and any meat from the bone.  Reserve the milk.

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).

Layer half of the potatoes, half of the ham, and half of the onion in a 2-quart baking dish (see NOTE below); repeat the layers.

Heat milk, peas, flour, butter, S&P, garlic powder, and onion powder in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, 7-10 minutes.

Stir Cheddar cheese into sauce until cheese is melted.

Pour sauce over potato and ham mixture; sprinkle with paprika (NOTE: my 2-quart dish was completely full......I would pour half over the the first layer of potatoes and ham and the remainder over the top.)

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil.

Bake in the preheated oven until potatoes are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until potatoes become tender.

Remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned, about 15 minutes more.

Recipe Adapted from:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Luau Chicken Salad

There is a relatively new regional chain restaurant in Chattanooga called the "Chicken Salad Chick."  Almost their entire menu is different types of chicken salad (and being in the south they had to add a pimiento cheese sandwich/salad!)  One of their choices was the Luau Lydia chicken salad.  It was really tasty and really easy to replicate.   Simple, simple, simple.  Chicken, pineapple, pine nuts, and mayo.

I happened to have some smoked turkey breast in my freezer (one more down!!!) to use.  So you could use turkey or chicken.  I put the pieces in a mini food processor (one of the best $10 Black & Decker kitchen gadgets you can get at Wal-Mart) and processed it until it was shredded.

I had pineapple chunks on hand which I chopped up.  You could use crushed pineapple or tidbits.....depends on how fine you like the pineapple.  Also, I used macadamia chips I found in the baking aisle, but you could just as easily roughly chop up whole macs to the size you like.  I left out S&P....I just didn't feel it needed it.  Add it if you like.

I served this with that fan-tabulous Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Brie Soup ( 10/17/14 post).  Serve it on lettuce or as a sandwich on your favorite bread.

LUAU CHICKEN SALAD (2-4 servings)

1 1/2 cups shredded chicken or (smoked) turkey
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup mayo
2 Tbsp pineapple juice
S&P, optional

Whisk mayo and pineapple juice together.

Mix chicken, pineapple, and macadamia nuts together.  Dress with pineapple mayo.   Add S&P if using. Garnish with additional nuts, if desired.