Thursday, December 22, 2016

Salmon with Spinach and Feta in Phyllo Dough

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Want an elegant yet easy salmon entrée?  Try this salmon wrapped in phyllo dough.  With the added yumminess of a spinach/feta mixture included.

SALMON with SPINACH and FETA in PHYLLO DOUGH (4 servings)

4 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled, room temp
1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
juice of 1/4 lemon
4 (4-6 oz) salmon fillets, skinless
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
melted butter (1/2 - 1 stick butter  (or more) if needed

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and feta, mixing until smooth.  Add scallion, spinach, and lemon juice; mix well.  Spread 1/4 of the mixture over each salmon fillet.

Unroll phyllo sheets onto a smooth, dry surface and cover with a damp towel.  Working quickly, lay one phyllo sheet on counter, brush with melted butter and top with another sheet of phyllo.  Brush second sheet lightly with melted butter.  Lay one salmon fillet at the short end of the phyllo and roll, tucking sides in.  Place package, seam side down (cheese covered side of salmon up), on parchment-lined pan.  Brush with melted butter.  Repeat with remaining salmon.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until browned. 

NOTE:  You can prepare early in the day and refrigerate until ready to bake.  These freeze well before baking.  Place frozen on parchment-lined pan and bake in preheated 400F oven 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Shrimp Scampi with Roasted Peppers and Spinach


Holy Smokes!!!  This recipe is so good!  Not to mention easy.  It's another incredible Publix recipe and it's sitting in my Top Ten.  A wickedly good gussied-up scampi recipe.

SHRIMP SCAMPI with ROASTED PEPPERS and SPINACH  (4 servings)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup roasted red peppers, finely chopped
1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
8 oz linguine pasta
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 oz peeled/deveined shrimp, thawed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp pepper, divided
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
5 oz baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)

Cook and drain pasta following packaging directions.

Preheat large saute pan on medium 1-2 minutes.  Place oil and garlic in pan; cook 3-4 minutes or until the garlic edges begin to turn golden.

Add peppers, shrimp, pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp each of S&P; cook and stir 1 minute.

Add broth; cook 2-3 minutes or until reduced by about one-half and shrimp have just turned pink and opaque.

Reduce heat to low; stir in butter, spinach, cheese, pasta, and remaining S&P.  Toss until butter and cheese melts and spinach wilts.  Serve.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cream of Jalapeno Soup


Yippee!!!  Jim came home and helped me get all the photos off of our camera and onto my new computer.   So I've got a backlog of recipes to start posting, plus, now that he's home, I'm back in the kitchen!

I'm posting this recipe first because it's one of my favorites.  I don't remember how I came across the recipe, but it came from Sargento, the cheese folks and is dated July of 2001.   I have lost the recipe several times and ran across it again recently and knew I had to get it posted so I won't lose it again! 

This is not a spicy soup, but certainly has the jalapeno flavor.  This original recipe is incredibly rich so I tried reducing it a bit by using less butter, reduced-fat cheese, and half-and-half.  I don't know the rules of substituting fat-free half-and-half, but I would love to try it that way to reduce the guilt even more.

CREAM of JALAPENO SOUP (6 servings)

4 Tbsp butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 fresh or canned jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
3 Tbsp AP flour
3 cup chicken broth
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
Hot sauce and/or Cajun seasoning, optional

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot, and bell pepper; reduced heat and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally (Note to Self:  make sure bell and jalapeno peppers and well-cooked and tender).  Stir in jalapeno peppers.  Remove vegetable mixture from saucepan; set aside.

Melt remaining butter in medium saucepan.  Add flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add broth and cream; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until thickened.  Add reserved vegetables and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.  If you like it spicier, add hot sauce and/or Cajun seasoning (I use Nunu's).

Recipe Source: Sargento Foods




Saturday, November 26, 2016

Still Here!

Just a note:  I haven't forgotten thee, O Blog!  When Jim was last home, he was able to load my new photos on the computer but now I can't find them!

But he will be home again in a week, plus I'll be cooking again.  So give me a few weeks and I should be back on a regular basis.

Looking forward!  Kay

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Grilled Salmon with Chorizo Olive Sauce

Grilled Salmon with Chorizo-Olive Sauce Recipe

I ran across this recipe a few months ago and saved it for a weekend when Jim was home.  We both love salmon and chorizo so I figured this would be a good one.  Not to mention how fast and easy it is to prepare.

A note:  don't omit the small amount of grated orange peel...it really takes it up a notch.

GRILLED SALMON with CHORIZO OLIVE SAUCE (4 servings)

3 links (3-4 oz each) fresh chorizo
4 green onions, chopped
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped pitted green onions
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 salmon fillets (4-6 oz each)

Remove chorizo from casings.  In a large ovenproof skillet on a stove or grill, cook chorizo, green onions and garlic over medium-high heat, crumbling sausage until no longer pink, 4-6 minutes; drain.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add tomatoes, olives, and orange peel; stir to combine.  Sprinkle S&P over salmon.

On a greased grill rack, grill salmon, covered, over medium heat, 3-4 minutes per side, or until fish just begins to flakes easy with a fork (about 10 minutes per inch).  Top with chorizo mixture.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home Sept/Oct 2016 p.83

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween 2016



Happy Halloween, Friends!  Halloween is just about my favorite "holiday" as it generally signals the heart of autumn.  Unfortunately, that's not the case here in SE Tennessee.  We're setting record highs (it's in the upper 80's today) and it absolutely doesn't feel like end the of October.

I'm unable to get my photos onto my computer, but as soon as I do, I've got to show you my this-year's-Halloween treat bags.  We get between 100-125 trick-or-treaters every year and it's so much fun!

So have fun tonight.  Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fruity Curry Chicken Salad

PHOTO TO COME

For some reason, I can't get my photos from the camera to the computer.



This recipe is kind of a note to myself.  I generally just throw together a chicken salad, but this time I actually measured the amounts I used.  This is a very adjustable recipe, add more or less of what you like or don't like.  This is a great starter recipe.

FRUITY CURRY CHICKEN SALAD (makes 5-6 cups)

8-10 oz cooked chicken (about 1 1/2-2 cups), cubed or shredded
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup grape halves
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Craisins or raisins, amount to liking, optional
1/2 cup mayo (I use half regular and half reduced-fat)
scant 1/2 tsp curry
black pepper, to taste

Mix the mayo, curry, and black pepper.

Combine the chicken through nuts (or C(raisins).  Fold in dressing.  Chill until serving time.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

BBQ Chicken Salad Cilantro Lime Rice Bowls


Instead of posting the recipe here, I'm just going to add the link to this wonderfully easy and delicious salad (and much better photos! {per usual}).  Outside of mixing the dressing, this is a quick salad which requires little prep. 

Great use for leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken.  You could eat this everyday for lunch (or dinner) and not be sorry.

Just in case you didn't know, Mel is my go-to food blog.  I've been following her for years and she has NEVER disappointed.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Deviled Shrimp Ragu


Greetings!  Sorry it's been so long, but being here alone and with this intensely long, hot summer, well...there's just not been a lot of cooking going on here.

And another pretty bad photo (see the link below for a much better shot!)  Had this recipe not been so good, I never would have posted it.  But it is so good!!!

I found the recipe on Allrecipes.com.  It's my #1 go-to site for recipes because you can plug in whatever ingredients you're wanting to use.  I happened to be wanting a shrimp recipe, plus I thought I'd like to use some smoked paprika.  When I first saw that this recipe called for using ketchup (?!!!) I hesitated.  But "Chef John" on allrecipes has always come through with some outstanding recipes.  This one has to be at the top of my list.

He notes that he uses the shrimp alone as an entrée or could be served over rice or noodles.  I used rice.  Doesn't really matter.  This shrimp is a standout.

DEVILED SHRIMP RAGU (2 servings)

1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined shells reserved
1 bay leaf
1 pinch smoked paprika
1 cup water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground dried chipotle pepper, optional
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp minced garlic
salt to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 Tbsp minced fresh chives

Cooked rice or noodles, optional

Place shrimp shells into a saucepan with bay leaf and 1 pinch of smoked paprika over medium-low heat; cook and stir shells until they turn pink, about 5 minutes.  Pour in water, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and simmer shrimp stock for 20-25 minutes.

Mix lemon juice, ketchup, brown sugar, ground chipotle pepper (if using), 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, garlic, 1 pinch of salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.

Strain shrimp stock into a bowl; discard shells and bay leaf.  Whisk shrimp stock into ketchup mixture and set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat until small wisps of smoke rise from the skillet.  Cook shrimp in the hot oil until bottom sides of shrimp are seared and browned, about 3 minutes.  Stir in shrimp stock mixture and cook until shrimp are opaque, about 3 minutes.  Transfer shrimp to a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving sauce in skillet.

Bring sauce to a boil and cook until sauce has reduced and thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in cold butter, turn off heat, and let residual heat of pan melt butter.  Stir until butter has incorporated into sauce and sauce is slightly thickened.

Stir shrimp into sauce and toss with chives.  Serve shrimp with sauce.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shrimp and Asparagus


I had some shrimp and mushrooms on hand and did a search on Allrecipes to find a recipe using these ingredients.  I found this recipe and after reading some of the comments, made some adjustments.

First and foremost, the original recipe had way to much fat in the way of butter and olive oil.  I used just enough to cook the mushrooms and shrimp.

I made this last week so my recipe is loosely based on my memory.  If you'd like, compare mine to the original and make adjustments to fit your taste.

SHRIMP and ASPARAGUS (2 servings)

1/2 lb fresh asparagus, cut into about 1" pieces
4 oz angel hair pasta
1-2 tsp minced garlic
EVOO
butter
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 lb uncooked peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
Parmesan cheese
S&P to taste

Steam asparagus.  Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, set aside.

Saute mushrooms in a mixture of EVOO and butter.  Saute until mushrooms are limp.

Place butter and lemon juice in a saucepan.  Heat until the butter has melted.  Place the shrimp in the saucepan and cook until the shrimp turns pink.  Add the mushrooms and shrimp.

Toss the shrimp and vegetables with the cooked pasta.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  S&P to taste.



Monday, September 5, 2016

Mustard Potato Salad


This recipe is kind of a note to myself.  I don't think I've ever made potato salad the same way.....it's always off-the-cuff and sometimes it's pretty good and sometimes is only so-so.  This batch came off quite good and, if nothing else, is a great basic recipe to start with and alter it to your tastes.

A few notes.  Generally I prefer red-skinned potatoes, but I have a bag of russets that need to be used.  Also, sometimes I do like a Miracle Whip-based dressing, but I usually stick with mayo.  Also, the recipe I worked from (I think it was in allrecipes.com, but can't find it right now) called for dill pickles).  I only had hamburger chips, so that's what I used.  The mustard I used was dill mustard, a yellow-mustard with dried dill weed (the brand is Silver Springs.  A plain yellow mustard would just fine.  I generally boil the potatoes, but this time I had the oven on and so I just baked the potatoes.

One last thing, I don't like too much dressing.  This amount was a bit more than I used.  So if you're like me, you won't need this much (I ended up making up another batch of potatoes, eggs, onions, and celery to use it up).

Again for me, this is a great basic recipe to start with.  Fine tune it to your tastes and/or what you have on hand.

POTATO SALAD  (3-4 servings)

6 small potatoes (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), cooked and cubed
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
sweet onion, chopped

DRESSING
1/2 cup mayo (I use 1/2 regular, 1/2 reduced-fat)
3 + Tbsp yellow mustard
2 Tbsp pickle juice
6 hamburger pickle chips, chopped (or 1/4 cup dill relish in lieu of juice and chips)
S&P to taste
celery seed to taste
Cajun seasoning to taste (I use Nunu's)

Whisk dressing ingredients.  Check seasonings.

Stir dressing into potato mixture until coated as you like.  (If I'm going to have the salad around for a few days, I mix the dressing into the salad at time of serving.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip





This is a great, easy dip recipe to have on hand.  I make a batch and then just heat up a single serving each time.  I've had mine in the fridge for a couple of weeks and it bakes up nicely.

There are many variations on Artichoke Spinach Dip.  This is a great basic recipe to which you can make many changes.  The only thing I changed was to add a can of water chestnuts (chopped) simply because I like the which crunch it adds.

A tip to myself:  a 10 oz package of frozen, chopped spinach can be drained and pressed dry and then divided into four 1/2 cup portions and refrozen.  So I can make four batches out of one package of spinach.  And a note to others:  If you can find them, try using artichoke bottoms instead of hearts (Reese's brand is what I was able to get).  They're all meat and don't have those annoying spiky leafs you'll get in cans/jars of artichoke hearts.  Publix was good enough to special-order them for me.

HOT ARTICHOKE AND SPINACH DIP

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese (I use reduced-fat)
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup Parmesan and/or Romano shredded cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh garlic
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 (14 oz) can artichoke bottoms or hearts
1/2 cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 can water chestnuts, chopped, optional
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).  Lightly grease a small baking dish (I used my NuWave oven and baked for about 12 minutes).

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayo, cheese(s), garlic, basil, garlic salt, S&P to taste.  Gently stir in artichokes, spinach and chestnuts (if using).  Either sprinkle in the mozzarella on top after putting into baking dish or (if making individual portions) stir it into the mixture.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish.  Top with mozz.  Bake into preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Zucchini and Squash Bake


I wish I could remember where I originally saw this recipe because I adjusted it to use what I had on hand.  And incredibly, it came out wonderfully (I say this because I'm not particularly good at changing up recipes).

When I mixed it up (it was still warm) I thought it was good as it was.  But the recipe I was working from said to bake it for an hour.  So I did bake the next serving and it was even better!

This amount made about 4 single servings.  I think it would also be good to add some pasta sauce and use only mozzarella (omitting the Velveeta and cheddar).  I added a bit of anise seed because the Italian sausage I used didn't have enough flavor for my taste.

ZUCCHINI and SQUASH BAKE (4 servings)

8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 small onion, diced
4 oz Italian sausage, crumbled
1 small zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
16 grape or cherry tomatoes
2 oz Velveeta
1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1 1/2-2 cups cooked rice
1/8 to 1/4 tsp anise seed, optional

Saute the mushrooms in equal amounts of EVOO and butter until cooked.  Set aside.

Saute onion and Italian sausage until sausage is cooked.  Add zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.  Saute until until vegetables are cooked.  Stir in cooked mushrooms.  Add Velveeta, mozzarella, and cheddar.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cooked rice and anise seed.

Bake at 350 for about an hour.




Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fish with Chorizo Tomato Sauce


OK, I finally put my old photos on my laptop (since the desktop crashed) and found a couple of old recipes I didn't get to post. 

This is a Publix demo recipe and it is so good!!!  I just happened to have everything on hand and am so glad I made this.  The chorizo and capers are a new and unique (to me) addition to a fish dish.  Easy to make on top of everything.

FISH with CHORIZO TOMATO SAUCE (4 servings)

1 shallot, finely chopped
2 fresh medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 oz cured chorizo, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp capers
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 (6 oz) flaky fish fillets (ex: orange roughy, tilapia, Swai, flounder)
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped, optional

Chop shallot (2 Tbsp), tomatoes, and chorizo.  Preheat large saute pan on medium 2-3 minutes.  Place oil in pan, then add shallots, capers, and chorizo; cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until shallots have softened.

Stir in tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper; cook and stir 8-10 minutes or until tomatoes are softened and saucy.

Reduce heat to medium-low.  Nestle fish into sauce, pour wine over fish, and cover; simmer 5-6 minutes or until fish is 145F (or opaque and separates easily).  Meanwhile, chop oregano (if using).  Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with oregano.  Serve.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Spiced Salmon with Mango Salsa and Cauliflower "Rice"



Greetings, again!

It's been a difficult month but I have some recipes I've been wanting to share.  I'm still having computer problems so I'm having to copy photos from other sources.  Probably a good thing since I'm not a very good photographer.

Also, Jim has been working out of state for several months and, therefore, I'm just not doing much cooking.  But I want to keep a record for myself of those really outstanding recipes I don't want to forget.

And this one really tops the list.  Another demo from Publix, this is the simplest and one of my favorite salmon recipes.  Our Publix happens to have sockeye salmon on sale and it's the best I've had in a long time.  I've already made this recipe three times in the last two weeks.  And I've actually simplified it by simply spraying the fillet with cooking spray and then just sprinkling both sides with smoked paprika, cumin, and salt.  The complete recipe is below.

And this cauliflower "rice" recipe is wonderful!!!  The cauliflower gives you that bit of texture and the hominy really adds a new flavor dimension.  The cheese and chives really round it out.

SPICED SALMON with MANGO SALSA and CAULIFLOWER "RICE" (4 servings)



1 mango
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 limes, for juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 lb sockeye (or coho) salmon fillet, skin removed
Cooking spray  

Preheat grill (or grill pan).  Peel mango and cut into 1/4" cubes (1 cup).  Chop onion (2 Tbsp) and cilantro.  Squeeze limes for juice (1 1/2 Tbsp).  Combine mango, onion, cilantro, lime juice, agave, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Combine all spices and remaining 1/4 tsp salt.  Cut salmon into four equal pieces.  Coat both sides of salmon with spray and spice mixture.  Place salmon on grill (or in grill pan); grill 3-4 minutes on each side or until salmon is 145F (or opaque and separates easily).  (Or bake salmon in oven preheated to 400F for 8-10 minutes.) 

Serve mango salsa over salmon.

Cauliflower "Rice"                        

1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 lb)
1 (15.5-oz) can hominy, drained and rinsed
Cooking spray
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
tablespoon dried chives

Cut cauliflower into florets and place in food processor bowl; pulse until finely chopped (resembling rice).  Transfer into medium bowl.

Place hominy in same food processor bowl; pulse until finely chopped, then stir into cauliflower.

Preheat large saute pan on medium 2-3 minutes.  Place cauliflower mixture in pan and coat with spray; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until tender.  Remove pan from heat; stir in cheese and chives.  Serve.












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Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th & Nathan's Famous

Hero-halloffame



Happy 4th of July!!!  And another exciting play-by-play of Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Joey "The Jaws" Chestnut came back to reclaim his Mustard Belt by beating last year's champ, Matt Stonie, by a landslide!

How he did it, I can't start to imagine.  In ten minutes, I ate one Nathan's dog (natural casing, of course) while Joey ate 7-0.  That's seventy.   70 hot dogs in 10 minutes. And buns.  7 hot dogs per minute.  More than 1 every 10 seconds!!!!

Every bite they take it looks like they're about to hurl.  Surely this happens.  Surely.  Thank you ESPN for not showing that part.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Absence

My postings have been few and far between of late.  Sorry.  And now I need to go out of town and I have a bad feeling my desktop computer has died.  So I'm going to take some time off and try to get things in order.

I shall return.

See you later!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Make-Ahead Raspberry-Peach Crisp Breakfast Parfait


I am not a big fruit and/or yogurt fan.  So whatever possessed me to try these (is it that they're just so pretty?), I'm glad I did.

What a great healthy and very filling make-ahead breakfast.  The oatmeal mixed into the yogurt gives it a wonderful chewiness and the almonds give the crunch.  Make sure your peaches are ripe!

I made two and ate the second one on Day Three, so they keep well for several days in the fridge.  For step-by-step (and much better!) photos, click on the link below.

MAKE-AHEAD RASPBERRY-PEACH CRISP BREAKFAST PARFAIT (2 servings)

2 (5.3 oz) containers vanilla Greek yogurt
2/3 cup (uncooked) old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup milk (any kind)
2 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
2 peaches, chopped
6 oz raspberry
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Stir together yogurt, oats, milk, chia seeds, and vanilla.  In a large bowl, scoop 1/4 of the mixture into the bottoms into the bottoms of two 16 oz mason jars with lids.  Top each with 1/4 of the peaches and raspberries, and 1 Tbsp of almonds.  Repeat layers then screw lids on top and store in the refrigerator.  Parfaits will stay good for 2-3 days.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2016/06/06/make-ahead-raspberry-peach-crisp-breakfast-parfaits/

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pico de Gallo and Guacamole


This is just kind of a note for myself.  Years ago working at a restaurant in Red Wing, MN, we used to make pico de gallo.  It's really the simplest recipe you can find.  I recently had a craving for it, even with the addition of cilantro (see the info on cilantro-soap gene).  You can make this as spicy as you like....traditional pico calls for using jalapenos (with seeds for even more heat).  I choose to use poblanos as they have much less heat (see the difference on the scoville chart). 

With summer approaching and tomatoes coming into season, this will be a staple in many homes.  Keep a couple of avocados on hand (I'll buy them at different stages of ripeness so they ripen at intervals) and can always make this traditional guac or the different nouveau guac (Balsamic Guacamole).  

PICO de GALLO and GUACAMOLE (8 servings)

For the Pico de Gallo:
5 whole plum (Roma) tomatoes
1/2 large (or 1 small) onion
3 whole jalapeno peppers (I use equal amount of seeded poblanos)
cilantro
lime juice 
salt to taste

For the Guacamole:
3 whole avocados
Pico de Gallo
lime juice
salt to taste

Instructions:

For the Pico de Gallo:

Chop jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions into a very small dice (leave seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico).  Adjust amount of jalapenos to your preferred temp.  Next, chop up a nice-sized bunch of cilantro.  Just remove and discard the long, leafless stems before chopping.  No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely.  Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir.

Squeeze the juice of half of one lime and into the bowl.  Add salt to taste and stir again.

For the Guacamole:

Start with buttery-soft avocados.  Halve them lengthwise and remove the pits.  Next, with a spoon  scrap the "meat" out onto a large plate.  Next, with the bottom of a clean cup (or with a fork) mash the avocados, making sure to leave it relatively chunky.  Add just a couple of shakes of salt to taste.  Next, add a generous helping of Pico de Gallo.  Fold together.  Lastly, squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top.  Give it one last stir.

Recipe Source: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/pico_de_gallo_a/

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pineapple Mango Salsa


Last week Aldi's had pineapples for $1 and mangoes for $.50.  I let them both sit for a few days to ripen and they were perfect.....so sweet and the mangoes were still firm but juicy.

This is perfect now that it's getting hot and humid.  Delicious with fish or chicken or, of course, nachos.  Don't make a bunch ahead of time, this is something that needs to be served pretty soon after making or it will get a bit mushy.

Click on the link below to see step-by-step photos and instructions.  Adjust ingredients to your liking (I used less pineapple-to-mango ratio).

PINEAPPLE MANGO SALSA

1 whole pineapple, peeled and diced
1 whole mango, diced
1/2 whole medium red onion, finely diced
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and diced (use 1/2 seeded poblano for less heat)
fresh cilantro, chopped
1 whole lime, juiced
dash kosher salt
dash granulated sugar, optional

Combine diced pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.  Squeeze in lime juice and add salt and sugar (if needed).  Stir to combine.  Serve within an hour with tortilla chips or on top of chicken or fish.

Recipe Source:  http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/pineapple-mango-salsa/

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms




I do loves me mushrooms, no matter the variety or how they're prepared.  And for me, a stuffed portabella is a meal in itself.

This is a recipe from a restaurant I worked at years ago.  Two different stuffed mushrooms were offered, this creamy vegetable stuffed choice or an Italian sausage stuffed 'room.  Both excellent.  I just happened to have everything on hand to make this one.  Never a bad choice.

STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

4 portabella mushrooms (or you could use 12 large button mushrooms)
1 Tbsp EVOO
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp chopped green onion
8 oz cream cheese (regular or reduced-fat), softened
3 Tbsp port or merlot wine
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 dashes hot sauce

Remove stems from mushrooms and finely chop them.  Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat.  Stir in mushroom stems, garlic, and green onions.  Cook and stir until soft.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool until easily handled.  

In a medium bowl, mix together chopped mushroom stem mixture, cream cheese, wine, Italian seasoning, both cheeses, black pepper, and hot sauce.  Stuff mushroom caps with mixture and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Daddy


Happy Birthday, Daddy!

This was my father at the age of 19 (in 1944).  Had he not died in 1999, he would have been 91-years-old today.  He, as many young men during WWII, left high school to join the Navy.  I don't know many of the details of his service (those secrets he left only with my brother, Paul), but I do know he served in the South Pacific and was severely injured in a plane crash while serving as a bombardier (information his sister, Magdalene, shared with me).  I know his service haunted him and I don't know if he ever found peace.

He was, however, profoundly proud of this country (I can't imagine how he'd feel about it these days) and know that he felt strongly about honoring the men and women who died as hero soldiers defending this country.  

To the families, friends, and loved ones of those who gave their lives defending this country, my love and sincere sympathy.  Memorial Day isn't about the beginning of the summer months.  It's about them.  Please don't forget that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Strawberry Coconut Water Lemonade




Are you ready for the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend?  It will definitely be feeling like summer here in SE Tennessee this weekends with highs around 90.  Ughhh.  
This is definitely a summertime drink, and pretty, too.  While I've used coconut milk for years, I had never tried coconut water.  It's a great addition in that it's not sweet-tasting on its own, but it does cut the tartness of the lemon juice, leading to less added sugar.  Hmmm, you learn something everyday.

Click on the recipe link below for lots of added tips (like adding sparkling water, getting the most juice out of lemons, adding alcohol, making popsicles, lots of beautiful photos, and step-by-step instructions).

STRAWBERRY COCONUT WATER LEMONADE (makes 5 cups)

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1 lb strawberries, trimmed and halved
2 cups coconut water
sparkling water, optional

Stir together the water and sugar in a glass bowl then microwave for about 90 seconds.  Carefully remove from the microwave then stir until all the sugar has dissolved (you know have simple syrup).  Refrigerate until cool (this can be made several days ahead).

Combine lemon juice and strawberries in a blender then blend until very smooth.  Stir in coconut water then simple syrup to taste (start with 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp; amount used will depend on your taste and the sweetness of your strawberries).

Refrigerate lemonade until ready to serve then pour into glasses over ice and top with sparkling water (optional) just before serving.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2016/05/02/strawberry-coconut-water-lemonade/

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup with Blue Cheese


I don't know how I ran across this recipe but I'm so glad I did!  I've said before that I'm really bad about thinking outside of the box.  Never in a million years would I have come up with the idea of adding blue cheese to this garden soup.

I started to follow the recipe found at Food.com, but changed a few things.  The main change was to omit the half-and-half.  Don't get me wrong, it would still be fabulous, but leave it out and you have an extra-healthy, low-fat, high-fiber soup.  It was so tasty that I just left the H&H out.  Also, the original recipe calls to blend the soup once the vegetables are tender.  I like it chunky, so I left out the step.  In both instances, your choice.  But taste it to the last direction I've posted and then  you decide if you want to add the dairy.

CREAMY BROCCOLI CAULIFLOWER SOUP with BLUE CHEESE (4 servings)

2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced medium
1/2 bunch broccoli, stems removed and broken into florets
1/2 head cauliflower, broken into florets
about 6 baby carrots or one medium carrot, sliced or chopped
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1/4 shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup half-and-half, optional

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt butter; add shallot and saute for 3 minutes.  Add flour and whisk briefly to form a roux.  Slowly whisk in broth.

Add potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and spices.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all veggies are tender.

Optional: Using an immersion blender/blender/food processor; puree to desired consistency.

Return to pot over medium-low heat and stir in cheese (and half-and-half, if using).  Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve.

Recipe Adapted from: http://www.food.com/recipe/creamy-broccoli-cauliflower-soup-with-blue-cheese-156415

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Orange Beef and Veggie Stir Fry


I've mentioned before we're not big beef eaters here.  But a couple of times a year I just get a craving.  I usually want either the traditional Swiss steak or an Asian stir fry.  I was scrolling through one of my favorite food blogs the other day when I ran across this recipe and just happened to have everything on hand (except the beef), and it just so happened to coincide with my semiannual beef-craving-day.

I made the baked brown rice (also found on her website) to serve the stir fry over.  Perfect one-plate dinner.

ORANGE BEEF and VEGGIE STIR FRY (4 servings)

1 tsp freshly-grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp beef bouillon granules (or 1 cube beef bouillon, crushed)
12 oz skirt or flank steak (I used Round Top Round Steak because it was about $4/lb cheaper)
2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
4 green onions, white and green parts chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1-2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup chopped carrots
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips or diced
1/4 cup water

In a small bowl, stir together the orange zest and juice, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, and beef bouillon.  Set aside.

Thinly slice the beef across the grain.  Lightly S&P the beef slices.  Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until rippling and hot.  Add the beef in a single layer.  Cook over medium-high heat until just cooked through, flipping and stirring occasionally.  Remove the beef to a plate or bowl.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan.  Add the green onions and garlic.  Cook for one minute, stirring constantly until fragrant.  Add the chopped broccoli, carrots, and red peppers.  Stir to combine.  Add the water, cover the skillet, and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 2-4 minutes.  Stir in the cooked beef.

Whisk the sauce to recombine and stir it into the skillet.  Toss the meat and vegetables to coat in the sauce and cook the mixture at a simmer until hot and the sauce has thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Serve over hot, cooked rice.

Recipe Source: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/orange-beef-and-veggie-stir-fry/

Friday, May 13, 2016

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies


A friend asked me a few weeks ago if I would make some peanut butter cookies for her.  It has been years since I've made PB cookies so I went to my go-to recipe source (AllRecipes) for a traditional recipe.

I haven't made them because it's one of the few cookies Jim just doesn't really care for.  But when I made them, I remembered it's one of the few that I do like.  If you are a peanut butter cookie fan, this is the recipe you'll remember from your mother and grandmother.

A note:  I would suggest going to the link below and reading some of the reviews for the recipe.  Many of the people suggested adding additional flour and peanut butter.  I did end up adding 1/4 cup each.  I'll post the recipe as published on the website.

CLASSIC PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES (makes 2-3 dozen cookies)

1 cup butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (1 1/4+ for me)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups AP flour (2 3/4 for me)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 baking soda

Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together in a bowl; beat in eggs.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture.  Refrigerate dough 1 hour or overnight.

Roll dough into 1" balls and put on baking sheets.  Flatten each ball with a fork, making a crisscross pattern.  Bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

Recipe Source:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/10275/classic-peanut-butter-cookies/?internalSource=search%20result&referringContentType=search%20results

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Balsamic Guacamole


Again, I'm not good about thinking outside the box.  But when I see a different twist on a traditional twist, I'm gonna try it.  Case-in-point: Guacamole.  Instead of using lime as the acid, you use balsamic.  And a bit of kosher or sea salt.  Nothing else.  Who'd a thunk it?

This is the easiest guac ever.  You could still doll it up with a bit of minced onion, fresh garlic, some small diced tomato and/or cilantro.  But it's not necessary.  So if you're in a hurry for a quick appetizer and just happen to have a ripe avocado on hand, you're set.

BALSAMIC GUACAMOLE 

1 avocado
kosher or sea salt
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Peel avocado and remove seed.  Smash with a fork to desired consistency.  Add salt and vinegar to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips.