Monday, February 29, 2016

(Spicy) Coconut Shrimp with Quinoa


I've yet to meet a shrimp dish I didn't like!  I do loves me shrimp!  This is certainly no exception.  Coconut, orange, ginger, curry, cumin give this dish a lovely taste combination.  The original recipe calls for snow peas, but I used sugar snaps (because I happened to have them on hand), but either will lend a nice crunch.  But the surprise to me was the toasted coconut.....it really added a sweetness to each bite.  I put the (SPICY) in parentheses in case you don't want any heat.

Just add your favorite salad (I used this recipe). 

(SPICY) COCONUT SHRIMP with QUINOA (4 servings)

1 cup quinoa/rinsed
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt

Shrimp:
1 tsp EVOO
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced fresh gingerroot
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
1 lb uncooked shrimp (26/30s suggested), peeled and deveined
2 cups snow or sugar snap peas, trimmed
3 or more Tbsp light coconut milk (I doubled the 3 Tbsp)
1-2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

In a saucepan, combine the quinoa, water, and salt; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion; cook and stir 4-6 minutes or until tender.  Stir in ginger, curry powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne; cook 1 minute longer.

Add shrimp and snow peas to skillet; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and peas are crisp-tender.  Stir in coconut milk and orange juice; heat through.

Serve over quinoa; top each serving with coconut and cilantro.

To toast coconut:
Bake in a shallow pan in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally (mine took 5 minutes).

Recipe Source: Taste of Home, December 2015, p. 33

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hominy and Cheese Casserole


I tend to make a lot of Mexican/TexMex meal and usually serve the entree with rice and beans.  And as much as I love both of these dishes, it's nice to have something a bit difference every once in a while.  

I found this at my go-to website for recipes, AllRecipes.com.  I hadn't had hominy since I was a little girl and forgotten just how much I like it.  I like it all by itself, but this kicked-up version was something else!  And so simple.  Just a handful of ingredients is a great combination.  Try it if you're looking for a new side dish (I served this with some chorizo and eggs and a vegetable saute of zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onions, and garlic).

HOMINY and CHEESE CASSERLE (4 servings)

1/4 cup diced onion
1 fresh garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tsp)
1/2 (7 oz) can chopped green chilies
4 oz cream cheese (regular, reduced-fat, or fat-free)
1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (15.5 oz) can white hominy, drained

Preheat oven to 350F.

Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onions are soft and translucent.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and mix in the green chilies; cook for one minute.  Stir in the cream cheese until fully melted.  Remove the skillet from the heat.

Place the Cheddar, hominy, and cream cheese mixture in a 1 quart casserole; stir until well-combined.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-35  minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/142655/hominy-and-cheese-casserole/

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicken in a Creamy Parmesan and Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce


I was searching for something I could make with what I had on hand and opted for this.  I will so, as is often the case, my photo doesn't do this justice (see the link below for a prettier shot!)  And for some reason my sauce came out much browner.  The only thing I can think of is that his recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes in oil.....the ones I used weren't in oil, therefore they didn't have that pretty red color, but were dark brown.

Regardless, the flavor was really good.  I served it with quinoa and the extra sauce was mopped up quickly.  Steamed or roasted broccoli is a great side dish.

CHICKEN in a CREAMY PARMESAN and SUN-DRIED TOMATO SAUCE (4 servings)

1 Tbsp oil
4 (4-6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts (can be pounded thin if you like)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
S&P
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced (or 1 tsp dried basil)
fresh or frozen (thawed and wrung dry) chopped spinach, optional

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the chicken and cook until lightly golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side (unless you're using a thicken breast).  Remove from pan and set aside.

Making sure that pan isn't too hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about a minute making sure NOT to burn the garlic.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan.

Add the broth, cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and Parmesan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens a bit, about 3-5 minutes.

Mix in the chicken along with any juices, season with S&P to taste, and mix in the basil (and spinach, if using).  Heat through.  Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: http://www.closetcooking.com/2014/10/chicken-in-creamy-parmesan-and-sundried.html

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Baked Chicken Chalupas


I ran across this recipe a few weeks ago and tucked it aside for a night when I needed a quick and easy dinner.  I didn't have great expectations because it just looked too simple.  But it turned out to be a really nice entree.  I doctored it up a bit by some red cabbage for color, lime for some acidity, and sliced avocados for, well, I just love avocados!

BAKED CHICKEN CHALUPAS (makes 6 chalupas)

6 (6") corn tortillas
2 tsp EVOO
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies (like Rotel), undrained
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground cumin
S&P
1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage
fresh lime wedges, optional
sliced avocado, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place tortillas on an ungreased baking sheet.  Brush each tortilla with olive oil (I just brushed the edges....don't go too heavy or tortilla could turn out soggy instead of crispy.)  Sprinkle with cheese.

Toss shredded cabbage with a little cumin and lime juice.

Place chicken, tomatoes, and seasonings in a large skillet; cook and stir over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Spoon over tortillas.  Bake chalupas 15-18 minutes or until tortillas are crisp and cheese is melted.  Top with cabbage.

Recipe Source:  http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/baked-chicken-chalupas?Login=joinlogin 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nellie Votes


We are a patriotic family.  We pledge our allegiance (as hard as that is getting to be given the current and possible "leadership" in our country), we fly our flag, and we vote.  All of us.  Well, all of us that walk on two legs.  But Nellie got a vote by proxy.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cauliflower Broccoli Cheese Soup


I just love this soup!  I had some leftover cauliflower and broccoli and boy! oh boy!  What a great place for it to land.

This is ultra easy and so creamy and cheesy.  You will lick the bowl clean.  This is a small recipe (just serves 2) so if you want leftovers, double it!  It won't go to waste.

CAULIFLOWER BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP (serves 2)

3/4 cup small cauliflower florets
3/4 cup small broccoli florets
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup carrots, halved and thinly sliced
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups 2% milk, divided
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
S&P to taste
2 Tbsp AP flour
1/3 cup cubed processed American cheese (Velveeta)

In a large saucepan, cook the cauliflower, broccoli, onion, and carrot in butter for 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Stir in 1 1/4 cup milk, bouillon, S&P.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Combine the flour and remaining 1/4 cup milk until smooth; add to saucepan.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat; add cheese and stir until melted.  Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/search/index?search=cauliflower+broccoli+cheese+soup

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Shrimp Sambuca


This is hands-down my most favoritist entree ever.  Ever. Ever. Ever.  And yet, I hadn't made it in years.  The reason:  I never had a written-down recipe and the last time I made it, it just wasn't up to par.  I've been gun shy.  

So after all this time, I went on a search and found a recipe that I knew was almost identical to how I use to make it.  My only deviation was the addition of sliced mushrooms and the pasta.  And it came out perfectly.

There was a restaurant in Oklahoma City many years ago and this was their signature dish (and at about $25/plate 25 years ago....quite the splurge!)  I have never seen it served anywhere else and what a shame.  This (to me) is heaven on a plate.  It's basically a shrimp scampi recipe with the addition of an anise-flavored liqueur.  This one addition sends this into the culinary stratosphere.  There is a sweet, luscious, velvety smoothness in the sauce.

I have traditionally made this only for special occasions: anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine's Day.  But it's been on the back burner for way too long.  Now that I have a true recipe to follow, it's coming out of the mothballs and I'm not saving it any longer!

SHRIMP SAMBUCA (4 servings)

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined (I generally use 26/30s, don't go any smaller)
4 Tbsp butter, divided
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 oz Sambuca liqueur or another anise-based liqueur)
S&P, optional
8-12 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
cooked fettucine (or other pasta of your choice)
chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Melt 2 Tbsp butter on a low-medium to medium heat.  Add garilc and saute being very careful not to let it burn.  Add cream and mix well (you can refrigerate this part for several hours to allow garlic to permeate the butter).

Melt the remaining butter and saute the mushrooms.  Add shrimp and cook until pink.  Add the remaining butter, cream, and garlic mixture.  Simmer on low for a few minutes.  Season with S&P is desired.

Serve over pasta.  Garnish with parsley.  All you need now is a nice, crusty, artisan bread or baguette.

Recipe Source:  adapted from http://www.food.com/recipe/sambuca-shrimp-105311

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad with Feta



Oh, just another really good shrimp/feta/orzo recipe.  I input the ingredients I had in the www.allrecipes.com website (I just love this feature!) and came up with the recipe.

It is an entree salad.  Serve it with a good baquette or roll (mine came from Fresh Market: a Rosemary and SeaSalt roll).

ROASTED SHRIMP and ORZO SALAD with FETA (6 servings)

Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced




Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.
Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!
Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.


Recipe Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-shrimp-and-orzo-recipe.html

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos w/Roasted Corn Slaw and Roasted Jalapeno Crema



It has been a while since I'd made any fish/shrimp tacos (it seems to be more of a warm weather dish for me).  But if they're on the menu at any restaurant I go to, I usually order them.  So I guess I was having a bit of shrimp taco withdrawal when I ran across this new recipe.

Please don't let the directions seem daunting. You can make everything ahead and assemble in minutes.  I served it with my favorite Spanish rice (see post  https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=5674076844350843074;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=6;src=link) from Joy of Cooking and some seasoned black beans.

One note:  When making tacos, I generally use both a hard shell and a soft shell, "glued" together using refried beans (the soft shell going on the outside to catch the crumbly hard shell!).  This time I just used the soft shell.  It was a bit messy and hard to hold together.  Use whichever you're most comfortable with.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos w/Roasted Corn Slaw and Roasted Jalapeno Crema (4 servings)


    FOR THE ROASTED JALAPENO CREMA:
  • 2+ jalapeno peppers, cut in half and seeded
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • FOR THE ROASTED CORN SLAW:
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted jalapeno crema

  FOR THE TACOS:
  • 12 small corn tortillas
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • cilantro to taste

    FOR THE ROASTED JALAPENO CREMA
    1. Place the peppers on a baking sheet with the cut side facing down, place the baking sheet on the top shelf in the oven and broil until the outer layer of the skin has blistered and blackened, about 8-14 minutes.
    2. Place the peppers in a sealable container, seal and let them cool until you can handle them, about 10 minutes, before pinching off the skins.
    3. Puree everything.
    FOR THE ROASTED CORN SLAW
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet to medium-high, add the corn, toss and let it sit cooking until charred, about 6-8 minutes, mix it up, let it char again and set aside.
  2. Mix everything.
  3. FOR THE TACOS:
  4. Assemble the tacos with slaw on the bottom, topped with avocado, shrimp and a dollop of roasted jalapeno crema along with a garnish of cilantro.

Recipe Source: www.closetcooking.com

Friday, February 12, 2016

Portillo's Chopped Salad with Sweet Italian Dressing


Thank you for your patience.  It's been lonely week around here as we continue to miss our Sweet Muffin.

I ran across this salad recipe and couldn't wait to try it.  This is my new favorite chopped salad recipe.  So simple, yet it never occurred to me that the simple addition of small pasta bits would make such a difference.  And this dressing is just perfect.

Portillo's is a restaurant chain based in the Chicago area.  Their menu says they use romaine, iceberg, and red cabbage as the base so that's what I used.  And except in a pinch I won't change that.  This is a great year-around salad for a great dinner.

A note:  The original salad calls for ditalini pasta, a tiny tube shaped pasta.  Again, I stick with this because I really like ditalini.  But you could sub in any small pasta shape, even small elbows.  Also, leftovers keep well (just don't dress the salad until serving time to keep the lettuce crisp).  But since there are just the two of us, I reduced the salad part substantially, but made the entire dressing amount.....it will keep for a long time.

PORTILLO'S CHOPPED SALAD with SWEET ITALIAN DRESSING  (Serves 8 as a main salad)
    Sweet Italian Dressing:
    1/3 cup white or regular balsamic vinegar
    1/3 cup olive oil
     cloves garlic, finely minced
    2 teaspoons sugar, honey or maple syrup
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    Salad:

    8 ounces (about 1 cup or so) uncooked Ditalini pasta (see note above)

    5 cups chopped lettuce (use what you like: romaine, spring mix, iceberg or a combo)

    1 cup chopped red cabbage (see note above)

    1 cup chopped tomatoes

    3 green onions, chopped

    1/2 - 1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon

    1/4 - 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese


    2 cups cooked, diced chicken (you could use rotisserie chicken or any cooked chicken you might have left over)



  • For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or jar. Process or shake until well-combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. You can make and refrigerate the dressing a week or two in advance.

  • In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse quickly with cool water so it doesn't stick together while it cools. Pour a few tablespoons of the dressing over the pasta and stir lightly. Set aside to cool to room temperature (spreading it into a flatter layer - versus mounded in a bowl - will speed up the cooling process).

  • In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, and green onions. Add the cooled pasta, bacon, gorgonzola cheese, and chicken.

  • To serve, you can toss the salad with the dressing before serving - or, if you anticipate leftovers, add dressing only to the portions of salad served and then store the dressing and salad separately for fabulous leftovers.




  • Recipe Source: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/portillos-chopped-salad-with-sweet-italian-dressing/


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Muffin


Our bestest buddy, Muffin, died today.  We had her almost 17 years and we loved her every single minute of every day.  She brought us such joy and home just won't be the same without her.

We miss you terribly, Muffin.  Thank you for so many years of love.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes with Three Cheeses

These potatoes a staple in all of our holiday meals.  Absolutely delicious, I mean really, really, really delicious.  I first tasted them at a demo at Central Market in San Antonio.  And since then, it's definitely in our Top Three favorite dishes.  Originally posted April 10, 2011.




This is the potato dish Jim most often requests. This was a demo dish at Central Market when we lived in San Antonio and I cannot tell you how many times I've made it, and how absolutely delicious it is! We have it with just about every basic, traditional, holiday meal: Chrismas, Thanksgiving, Easter. Turkey or ham. I roasted a turkey yesterday so had a great excuse to make another dish of these yummy, yummy potatoes. I'm going to list the recipe as I received it from CM (serves 12, using a 13x9 dish), but I always half the recipe and use an 8x8 baking dish. Just right for the two of us and company, or to have leftovers. It is a total of about 1 1/2 hours of baking time.


SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH THREE CHEESES


3/4 c extra-sharp cheddar, 4 oz

3/4 c bleu cheese or gorgonzola, 2 oz

1/3 c grated Parm, 1 1/4 oz

4 lb russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4" rounds (I use a mandolin)

1 1/2 tsp salt (I use much less, due to the saltiness of the cheeses, I just sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

3 Tbsp flour

4 Tbsp butter

3 c milk (skim, lo-fat, whole....I've used them all with great results)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter (I use cooking spray) 13x9 glass baking dish. Mix cheeses in a small bowl.


Arrange half of the potatoes in prepared dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Sprinkle onion over, then flour. Dot with 2 Tbsp butter. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over. Top with the remaining potatoes, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 2 Tbsp butter. Reserve remaining cheeses.


Bring milk to simmer in medium saucepan (I microwave until just boiling). Pour milk over potatoes (milk will not cover completely). Cover tightly with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil (liquids in dish may look curdled). Sprinkle potatoes with reserved cheese mixture. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender and cheese is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Quicker-Than-Take-Out Orange Chicken

A few years ago I discovered a series of cookbooks by Marlene Koch.  I now have three of them.  She's wonderful....she takes tradition and restaurant recipes and lowers the calories and fat grams.  And the results are fabulous!

She has a son whose favorite take-out meal is the Orange Chicken at "Panda Express."  She revamped the recipe to make it so much healthier and really, really tasty.  I've never had their Orange Chicken and feel no need to try this guilt-free version.  Originally  posted on November 3, 2011.


I caught a show featuring a new cookbook, "Eat What You Love" by Marlene Koch.  She likes to take favorite recipes and make them a bit healthier by lowering the fat/calorie contents.  Her favorite makeover is this take on "Panda Express'" Orange Chicken.   This entire recipe serves 4 and each serving (1 cup) contains just 290 calories with just 9 grams of fat.  I served this over steamed brown basmati rice and steamed asparagus.  It was absolutely delicious.  Fantastic make-over meal.

QUICKER-THAN-TAKE-OUT ORANGE CHICKEN (Serves 4)

Sauce:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup light orange juice
1/2 cup Splenda granulated sweetener
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Chicken:
1+ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into about 1" cubes, or bite-sized
1 large egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute) beaten
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 small red pepper, cut into small strips, or chopped
1 small onion, chopped

To make the sauce, in a medium saucepan whisk together the first nine ingredients (water through pepper flakes).  Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a low simmer.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp of water and the cornstarch to create a slurry and whisk into the sauce.  Bring the sauce to a low boil and cook for 1 minute, or until the sauce thickens and clears.  Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer.

Roll the chicken in the egg and toss with flour to coat.

Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in the large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half of the chicken and cook 4-5 minutes, or until well browned on all sides and chicken is cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a bowl and cover.  Heat the remaining oil and cook the remaining chicken pieces.  Add the chicken to the bowl and set aside.

Add the red pepper and onion to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until slightly softened.  Add the chicken to the pan and then the orange sauce.  Stir to coat and serve.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Panzanella

I have two salads I go back to time and time again during hot summer months (and a few times non-summer just because I crave them).  Panzanella is one of them.  Had I read the recipe before tasting it, I never would made it.  For the most part, I'm not a big sweet pepper fan.  But all of this comes together so deliciously.  Originally posted June 25, 2011.



OK, let me just say first of all.....this is my FAVORITE summer salad.  And who'd a thunk it?  Bread Salad?  Really???  With a bunch of peppers?  Really???  Oh, yes!!!



I could eat this salad everyday during these horrid hot, humid days of summer.   And so weird!  I'm not a big sweet pepper fan, but this all comes together so beautifully.  I do love cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, basil, and bread.  And these croutons just put it over over the top.   I never in a million years would have tried this recipe, but, once again, working at a (different) restaurant in Minnesota, I came in one morning to find the leftovers of a special that Char had run.  I think I ate them all.  And this was after the croutons had become all soggy.  But the flavor was just incredible.  Char was a big fan of Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) and this recipe came from one of her cookbooks.  She's (Ina Garten) done a variation on this recipe calling it Greek Panzanella where she substitues Kalamata olives for the capers, and adds feta cheese, but we love this salad so much as it is that we've never tried that version.

Now for me, the secret is the croutons.  I will only use Panera Bread's baguette.  If you don't have a Panera Bread near you, please use a high-quality baguette.  I make a lot of croutons for Caesar Salad using bagels and then baking them, but the process here is completely different and results in a dramatically different crouton.  I cover the bottom of a hot Dutch Oven with olive oil, then add salt, then dump in the baguette cubes and stir quickly to coat the bread with the salted olive oil.  It takes a while (maybe 15-20 minutes?) on a medium/medium-high heat to brown the bread cubes, stirring very often.

Also, this recipe makes a nice batch.  Probably 4 entree-servings.  So, since there are just two of us, I'll dice all of the vegetables, but will keep the croutons separate so I dress them then toss them with the vegetables shortly before serving time.  I'll pour the dressing on the croutons (a heavy hand so the extra dressing will also coat the vegetables) about 10 minutes before serving so the croutons will soften a bit.  Then I just keep the diced vegetables in an air-tight container and the dry croutons in a baggie until I'm ready for the next batch.

I really hope you'll try this incredibly wonderful summer salad.  Not only is it visually appealing, you'll be looking forward to the leftovers!

PANZANELLA (approximately 4 large servings)

Cube one baguette.  In Dutch Oven, add olive oil to coat the bottom and add kosher salt.  Add bread cubes and continue to stir until croutons are browned.

SALAD:

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lenghwise
1 English cucumber or 5-6 pickling cucumbers (I like to strip four strips of skin, then cut the cuke into four lenghtwise cuts, then dice the cuke into about 1/4-1/2" cubes)
1 red, orange, and yellow sweet pepper, diced (I like to cut pieces small/large enough to get a piece of pepper, tomato, cucumber, crouton, onion, caper on each fork-full!)
A couple of semi-thick slices of red onion, diced
about 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp capers

VINAIGRETTE:

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

When read to serve, mix all of the vegetables with the croutons and vinaigrette.  If serving at different times, keep the vegetables and croutons separate so the croutons don't become soggy, then dress the croutons and then mix the vegetables in.  Let me know if you try it and love it as much as we do!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Crushed Potatoes with Buttermilk Dressing

My potato preference is RED.  Russets are the only close second and I only use them for mashing.  I love reds boiled or baked.  So this recipe combines the boiled and the baked (more specifically, broiled....this gives them lovely, crispy edges).

I absolutely love these potatoes.  Again, the creaminess of the reds, the crispiness of the skins, and that only Ranch Dressing recipe you'll ever use.  Perfection.  Originally posted on September 5, 2013.










Given my love of new potatoes and a contrast of textures, I could KICK myself for not having found this earlier or figured it out on my own!  These potatoes are fabulous!  and oh-so-easy.

This is all you need to do:  Boil as many new potatoes as you'd like, until they are cooked through.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I used a stoneware cookie sheet which doesn't need to be lined).  Smash with a fork.  Drizzle thin streams of olive oil over the potatoes and then sprinkle with S&P.

Place under a broiler until the potatoes are crisp and browned on the outside.  The recipe I read said to broil them for 15 minutes....mine were ready in 7-8 minutes.

Top with buttermilk dressing (dressing below) and chopped scallions or chives and S&P to taste.

BUTTERMILK DRESSING

3/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp dried minced onion 
1/2 tsp salt
coarsely ground pepper to taste
1 tsp minced garlic

Mix all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to blend. Cover and refrigerate remaining dressing.

For buttermilk parmesan dressing:  Add 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1/2 tsp paprika, smoked paprika for something extra-special.

Recipe Source: www.asouthern-soul.blogspot.com