Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Can't find the photo.  THIS WILL BE MY LAST POST AT THIS BLOG ADDRESS.  E-mail me for the future blog address and I'll put you on my list, but only if I know who you are.  Don't know when this will happen.  People that I despise have been able to access this wee blog.

I had one small package of Christmas ham and shredded Swiss cheese in the freezer that badly needed a home.  And a local supermarket had split chicken breasts for $1/lb.  A chicken cordon bleu sounded good, but I really didn't want to the trouble of rolling traditional rolls.  A quick search of a chicken cordon bleu casserole turned up a slew of recipes.  I opted for the one from Food Network.

It was really easy to assemble.  I always have some cooked chicken breasts on hand (or use a rotisserie chicken) and then I just chopped the ham and made the sauce.  I served this with the Cauliflower Gratin Bake and some sautéed zucchini.  For a dish in one, you could add some parcooked broccoli.  No side dishes needed in that case.

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU CASSEROLE (

2-3 Tbsp butter
1 cup small-cubed ham
heaping 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
heaping 1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese
2 cups cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
smidgen cayenne powder, or to taste
S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare an 8x8 baking dish.

Put ham on a paper towel-lined dish and microwave for 3 minutes to reduce moisture content (that sounded like a long time to me......I put mine in a paper towel and squeezed out any excess moisture).  Mix Swiss and Jack cheeses in a small bowl and set aside.

Put about a 1/3 of the chicken in the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with half of the ham.  Sprinkle 2-3 Tbsp of cheese.  Repeat one more time and top with the remaining chicken.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Put the Panko in a small bowl and pour half of the melted butter and mix.  Set aside.

Add the flour to the remaining melted butter and cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking out any lumps.  Whisk in milk, broth, Dijon, and cayenne and let it cook until it begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese until melted. Season with S&P.

Pour the sauce over the casserole.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the Panko mix.  Bake until the top is browned and the casserole is bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cauliflower Gratin Bake



I picked up a big, lovely head of cauliflower the other day and it had just so happened that Kristin had posted a cauliflower recipe a few weeks ago that sounded to good to pass up.  But Mel, my other favorite blogger, had something similar on her blog.  So this was a combination of the two.

CAULIFLOWER GRATIN BAKE (3-4 servings)

1/2 head of large cauliflower, but into large florets
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1 medium fresh garlic clove, minced
1 cup milk, room temp
3/4 cup shredded cheese (mixture of Swiss, Jack, Cheddar, Parmesan, your choice)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
smidgen of cayenne, optional, or to taste

Topping:
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp shredded cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add cauliflower.  Look cook for about 2 minutes (not mushy....al dente).  Drain.  Set aside.

In small saucepan, melt butter.  Whisk in flour over medium heat.  Whisk for a few minutes.  Add garlic until fragrant, no more than a minute.  Slowly add milk and continually whisk until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and whisk until melted.  Add dry mustard and cayenne, if using.  Pour into an 8x8 baking dish.

Combine topping ingredients in a food processor.  Sprinkle over cauliflower.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.

Recipe Adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats and Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cafe Rio Chicken



Apparently there's a chain restaurant in Utah called Café Rio which has a great following.  I had run across a couple of copy-cat recipes in which everyone raved about their food.  I had to try it.

An odd combination of zesty Italian salad dressing and an envelope of Ranch Dressing mix, plus some other seasonings, it was an intriguing recipe to try.

A local market has some split chicken breasts on sale for $.99/lb so I picked up a package and used it to make a batch.  It's a really interesting flavor combo which you could use for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or salads.  This batch gave me four 8-oz servings (I froze three of them for quick meals in the future) and used this batch to make chicken tacos.

It's a great recipe to make and leftovers freeze very well for future quick dinners.

P.S.  I also have a recipe for their salad dressing which is great for a green salad to serve with Tex-Mex meals.  I'll post that soon.

CAFE RIO CHICKEN

2 lbs chicken breasts
1/2 cup zesty Italian salad dressing
1/2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1/4 cup water
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin

Place chicken in a crock pot. 

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken.

Cook on high 4-6 hours on low 6-8 hours. 

Remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred (have you tried using a hand-mixer?  Great trick!!!  Just start on low and check often or it'll turn into chicken mush!)

Remove half of the liquid from the crock pot and put in a bowl.  Add the chicken to the crock pot and combine with the liquid left in the crock pot.  You want the chicken to be nice and moist.  Add more of the liquid if needed.

Serve in tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas, etc. 

Recipe Source:  RealMomKitchen.com


Friday, April 28, 2017

Turkey Shepherd's Pie


I had some leftover frozen mashed potatoes and ground turkey in the freezer looking for a new home.  I ran across this recipe on AllRecipes and it was a perfect combination.

The recipe called for canned mushrooms which I never have, but sliced some fresh mushrooms and sautéed them with the ground turkey.  You could add some more vegetables (corn, green beans) for a bit more color.  Surprisingly, the tiny 1/4 tsp of dried thyme really added some flavor (I'll probably increase it a tad more next just because I like that added punch of flavor).

Easy and quick to assemble (especially if you have any leftover mashed potatoes).  Serve it with a steamed asparagus (or other green vegetable) or a green salad and maybe a good baguette or artisan bread for a perfect meal.  This could easily be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake.

TURKEY SHEPHERD'S PIE (4 servings)

3 large potatoes, peeled
2 Tbsp butter, room temp
1/4 cup warm milk
S&P
or
ready-made mashed potatoes

1 Tbsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 large carrot, shredded
1 (4.5 oz) can sliced mushrooms (or 8 oz package fresh mushroom, sliced)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme, or more, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 Tbsp AP flour
S&P to taste

If making freshly-made mashed potatoes, boil potatoes until tender, 15-20 minutes.  While potatoes are cooking, gather other ingredients.

Mash potatoes with butter and milk.  Season with S&P to taste.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; stir in onion.  Saute onion (and fresh mushrooms, if using....otherwise, add canned mushroom later on) until it has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in ground turkey, carrot, mushrooms, parsley, thyme, garlic, and chicken bouillon.  Cook and stir until meat is broken up and cooked through.  Add S&P to taste.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more.

Transfer meat mixture to a deep dish pie pan or casserole dish.  Spread mashed potatoes over meat and swirl with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven until tops of mashed potatoes are lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Recipe Source: AllRecipes.com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Maple Bourbon Pecan Chicken


After reading Kristin's review of this recipe (see link below), I knew I had to try this recipe.  Maple. Bourbon. Pecan. Chicken.  Over mashed potatoes.  Why wouldn't you try it?!!!

I will let her flaunt the attributes of this delicious dish, as well as her beautiful photography.  But it's a recipe I just had to share.

Maple Bourbon Pecan Chicken (4 servings)

1 1/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup flour
S&P
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp bourbon (I, too, used Maker's Mark)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 chopped pecans
3 Tbsp maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers

Add flour to a shallow baking dish and season with S&P.  Dredge each chicken thigh in the seasoned flour then shake to remove excess and place onto plate. 

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together chicken broth, maple syrup, pecans, Dijon, vinegar, soy, and rosemary and set aside.

Heat olive oil in 12" cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add chicken thighs and then sear until golden brown on one side, 1-2 minutes, searing in batches if needed to not overcrowd.  Flip then sear until golden brown on the other side and then transfer back to the plate (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point).

Remove skillet from heat then carefully add the bourbon.  Most of it should evaporate very quickly (use caution if you have a gas range as the alcohol could flame briefly).  Return skillet to the heat and then add the maple syrup mixture.  Turn the heat up to bring the liquid to a simmer then turn heat down to medium and nestle the chicken back into the skillet.  Loosely cover the skillet with a piece of aluminum foil then simmer until the sauce has reduced and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes, flipping the thighs once or twice.

Place chicken on plate the scoop sauce over the top and serve.

Recommended:  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Recipe Source: Iowa Girl Eats

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

22nd Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing



Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing.  On that day I stood on the 21st floor of the First National Bank Building, 2 blocks south of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.  The blast was so strong that it made me fall.  Someone in my office said "that's the Federal Building."  I said, "NO!  My brother works in the Federal Building."

I'll never, ever forget that elevator ride to the first floor.  I was exhilarated.  I hated my job and the women I worked with.  A day off!!!!  Our family was so close and Oh! So lucky!  Nothing like this could have ever happened to us.

I drove from downtown OKC to my parents' home, going down East Reno Ave. as the interstate (I-40) had already been blocked by OKC's finest (see The Oklahoma Standard).  I got to Mom and Dad's house.  They had heard and felt the explosion but weren't worried.  We lived near Tinker Air Force base and had experienced several plane crashes during the Vietnam War.  But the plume of smoke was in a different direction.  Dad stayed out in his garden.  I remember the television was on and was showing the chaos downtown.  Our friend, Mrs. Johnson, called to say her son had seen Paul helping out and we were so relieved.  I wanted to page Paul (this was before cell phones) but my dad said "NO!"  We need to stay out of the way and let him do his job.  Dad stayed in the garden, but Mom and I were inside.  She sat on the sofa and I laid down next to her with my head in her lap.  I think we both knew.

Some time after, Dad became concerned.  This feeble old man decided he needed to go downtown the St. Anthony Hospital which was the "clearing house" for bombing info.  And can you believe it?!!!!  On the "Treated and Released" board was the name "Paul Ice!"  Oh, how happy we were.  But where was he????

A couple of nurses who were assigned to help family members came to Dad's aid.  It turned out that there was a Paul Ice who was a janitor at the church across the street.  Now, you have to realize what irony this was.  Ice, especially in the 50's, 60's, 70's in relatively small-town OKC was an incredibly unusual last name.  And we were all related.  And Paul was not a very common Christian name.

Our panic grew.  Some hours later, we learned that Paul's secretary had been rescued and was in St. Anthony's.  I went.  She cried and said Paul was standing in front of her at the time of the blast.  She didn't think he had survived.

I made it back to Mom and Dad's.  And there we waited eight days before Paul's body was recovered.

OKC was lucky in that, unlike 9-11, all of our victim's bodies were recovered.  Does that make it any easier?  After 22 years I can tell you "NO."  I didn't just lose a brother I came to adore, this country lost a man who served his country as a Lt. Col. in the Marines and as a Senior Special Agent with U. S. Customs (now called ICE.......oh! how he would have loved that!)

When you see a police vehicle, I hope you will always remember my brother: Paul Ice (POL-ICE).  He loved his job as a soldier and a law enforcement office.  We were all blessed to have him in our lives, if you knew it or not.

P. S.  Forrest Gump was one  of his favorite movies and the "Feather Theme" was the song that was one his answering machine the morning of the bombing.  There were so many messages on his machine when we went into his home that evening.  Everyone who called heard him say, "I'm not here, but take a minute to listen to this music."  What I wouldn't do to have that recording again.

He was just the nicest guy in the world and I miss him terribly, even 22 years later.  Doggone it.


Oklahoma City National Memorial


Paul Ice


Forrest Gump Theme Song

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Southern Squash and Shrimp Quiche


I was looking for something different for Easter dinner.  Since there's just the two of us, I really didn't want to go down the traditional ham dinner route (not that I don't love that, there's just too much leftover).

I happened upon this on the Publix website and thought this sounded like a good alternative.  So right!  It had been a while since I made a quiche and I don't know why.  But this is a great choice right out of the gate.  It is a great combo: shrimp, squash, Old Bay Seasoning, and fresh basil.

I served it with steamed asparagus, fruit cup, and a crusty baguette.

SOUTHERN SQUASH and SHRIMP QUICHE (6-8 servings)

1 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
8 oz peeled/deveined shrimp (tails off), coarsely chopped
1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large eggs or 1 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp hot pepper sauce

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut squash into small cubes (about 1 1/2 cups); chop basil and shrimp.  Place piecrust on baking sheet for ease in handling; bake 5 minutes or until sides are set.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in medium, nonstick saute pan on medium heat.  Add squash, cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.  Remove pan from heat, set aside to cool slightly.

Combine in large bowl eggs, mayo, sour cream, 1/4 cup each of the cheddar and mozzarella, Old Bay, and hot sauce; whisk until blended.  Stir in basil, shrimp, and squash.  Pour egg mixture into piecrust.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup of each cheese.  Bake 30-35 minutes (NOTE TO SELF:  Mine took a bit longer, at least another 15 minutes) or until center is set (it won't jiggle).  Transfer to a wire rack and let stand for 15 minutes to set.

Recipe Source: Publix Aprons

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Chicken Fajita Pasta


CHICKEN FAJITA PASTA (4 servings)

2 Tbsp EVOO, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 envelope (3 Tbsp) taco or fajita seasoning
2 cups diced onion (about 1 whole onion)
2 cups diced bell peppers (2-3 peppers; use green or a green and a red)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup regular or heavy cream
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles or 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (for a less-spicy version)
8 oz (about 3 cups) uncooked penne pasta
1/2 tsp salt

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Season with half of the taco seasoning.  In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is very hot, carefully add the chicken in a single layer and cook without stirring until one side is seared and browned, about 1-2  minutes.  Flip the chicken to the other side and cook until browned.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining Tbsp of olive oil to the skillet with the heat still on medium-high.  When the oil is very hot again, add the onions, peppers, and remaining taco seasoning.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are slightly blacked.  Turn heat to low, add minced garlic, and stir until fragrant and well-combined, about 30 seconds.  Remove the veggies to the plate with the chicken.

In the same skillet, add the broth, cream, tomatoes, uncooked pasta, and salt.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then cover, turn heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed.  Add the chicken and veggies back into the skillet and stir to combine until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Recipe Source:  http://www.kevinandamanda.com/chicken-fajita-pasta/

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Asian Lettuce Wraps



I love lettuce wraps.  They're delicious, healthy, and fun to eat.  There's a bunch of different recipes so you can customize them to suit your tastes. 

ASIAN LETTUCE WRAPS (4 servings)

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 Tbps cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp minced pickled ginger
1 dash Asian chile pepper sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook and stir ground beef or turkey in cooking oil in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly.  Drain and discard any grease; transfer to a bowl.

Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef/turkey until slightly tender, 5-10 minutes.  Stir in hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chile pepper sauce into onions.  Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef/turkey; cook and stir until the green onions just being to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.

ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE

1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp chile paste, or to taste
sugar, to taste
green onion, green part only, sliced, optional

Recipe Source: AllRecipes



Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Broccoli and Rice



Another 30-minute one-pot (well, one pot and one saucepan) meal that's got it all: color, texture, and taste!  So easy to put together.  For step-by-step photos, see the link below.

CHEESY CHICKEN BACON BROCCOLI and RICE (4-6 servings)

8 sliced regular or turkey bacon, diced
12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
S&P
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 cup diced onion
12 oz (about 4 cups) broccoli florets, roughly chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) cans Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles or 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes (for less spiciness)

For the rice:

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups water
1 tsp salt

SAUCE:

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup extra-sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp each S&P

Add the diced bacon to a very large skillet or dutch oven and turn heat to medium-high.  Cook the bacon until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Season generously on both sides with S&P.

When the bacon is crisp, use a slotted spoon to remove to a plate.  If needed to grease the bottom of the pan, add butter and olive oil to the skillet.  Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for five minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Remove the chicken to the place with the bacon.

Add the rice, water, and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 14 minutes.  When done, remove from heat.

Meanwhile, add the onion and broccoli to the skillet where you cooked the bacon and chicken.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until broccoli is tender and onions are brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add in minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Top with tomatoes, rice, chicken, and bacon and stir to combine.  Reduce heat to keep warm

For the sauce:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour until just combined.  Add in the chicken broth and stir well.  Increase heat to high and cook until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and add in cheese and S&P.  Stir until cheese is melted, then pour in the skillet with the chicken and rice.  Stir to combine and serve.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Skinny Shrimp Piccata with Zoodles


I'd been wanting to try a spiralizer for the longest time, but I really didn't want to spend $50 on one of the better models.  And then I ran across this OXO hand spiralizer costing just $15.  I thought I could try it and if I liked it, then I might spring for the better models.

No need.  This thing does such a great job and it's so easy to use.  I wasn't sure how the "zoodles" would come out knowing how it's so easy to overcook sliced squash.  But these things not only came out with texture after being cook, they still had a crunch when I ate the leftovers two days later!

SIMPLE SHRIMP PICCATA with ZOODLES (3-4 servings)

4 small, thin zucchini (I used half zucchini and half yellow squash)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
S&P
garlic salt
1 lemon, cut in half
3 Tbsp EVOO, divided
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp capers
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Spiralize zucchini then add to a colander set atop a bowl.  Lightly salt the zoodles, toss with your fingers to coat, then cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or an hour to drain.  Pat or gently squeeze excess liquid from the zucchini with paper towels or a kitchen towel then set aside.

Pat shrimp very dry between paper towels then season both sides with garlic salt and pepper.  Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a large, 12" skillet over heat that's just a touch above medium then add half the shrimp and saute until cooked through (time depends on the size of the shrimp).  About 30 seconds before the shrimp are fully cooked, drizzle in a little lemon juice then remove shrimp to a plate once the lemon juice has evaporated.  Heat remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in the skillet then saute remaining shrimp, repeating the lemon juice step at the end.

Melt butter in the skillet then add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Add zoodles then turn heat up slightly and saute until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes.  Add a drizzle of lemon juice, the capers, Parmesan cheese, and S&P to taste, then toss to combine.

Plate then top with cooked shrimp and serve.

Recipe Source:  Iowa Girl Eats

Saturday, March 25, 2017

City Cafe Oriental Chicken Salad


There is a restaurant (actually three) here in Chattanooga that Jim and I used to go to every single Sunday morning.  This place has the most incredible, diverse menu and, for me, the selling point was that you can order anything on the menu 24 hours a day (and for someone not overly fond of breakfast foods, this is a blessing to me).  Anything.  Feeling like fried catfish at 7 a.m?  No problem.  Eggplant Parmesan at 9 a.m?  No problem.  Any breakfast item you like, but of course!  And a salad?  Absolutely!

I love their salads.  And their portions are ginormous.  I would generally get three meals out of one salad.

So this really isn't a recipe, but ingredients to make up a great salad.  They offered the salad with the basic restaurant salad dressings, but I used a recipe for a teriyaki vinaigrette I found somewhere on line (I Googled it again, but couldn't find it.  But there are a handful of different recipes you can use if you want).

So here's what I put in my salad.  You can see the City Café menu at the link below.

CITY CAFE ORIENTAL CHICKEN SALAD

Lettuce (Romaine, Mixed Greens, Iceberg, your choice)
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Sauteed sliced onions and green and/or red peppers, cooled to room temp
Strips of boneless, skinless chicken breasts marinated in teriyaki sauce (I use Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce), grilled
Roasted red pepper strips
Hard-boiled eggs
Toasted slivered almonds

Salad Dressing of your choice

Recipe Idea Source: City Cafe Menu

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spicy (or not) Sausage Pasta


OK, pay attention!!!  This is just about the best recipe I have found in a long time.  I made it a few weeks ago but lost the photos so, alas, I had to make it again.

And not is it divinely delicious, it's a super-easy one-pot meal.  Make a green salad for a complete meal.

NOTE:  The original recipe calls for Rotel tomatoes with green chiles which are a bit too spicy for me.  I used a can of petite-diced tomato.  Perfection!

SPICY (or not) SAUSAGE PASTA (4 servings)

1 Tbsp EVOO
1 lb smoked sausage (I used turkey)
1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups lo-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes and green chiles, mild, or 1 can (14.5 oz) petite-diced tomatoes
1/2 cup regular or heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 tsp each S&P
1 cup Jack cheese, shredded
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

Add olive oil to oven-safe skillet over medium heat until just smoking.  Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, and S&P and stir.  Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese.  Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions.  Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Image result for happy st patrick's day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I love this day, not because I'm Irish, but because it's a wonderful excuse to make corned beef and cabbage.  This year I'll be making mine in the pressure cooker.  I love using the pressure cooker because everything comes out so tender.  Mine is a digital PC unlike the stove-top version my mom used to use which scared the bejesus out of everyone (I still don't know exactly why, but can only imagine).  The 21st century version is completely safe and easy to use.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Louis Salad Dressing


Whenever Publix has their lump crab meat on sale (BOGO, half-price!) I always grab a couple of containers to make one of my favorite salads!  Looking at different salad recipes, you can add whatever toppings you like.  On this one I used romaine, Campari tomatoes, black olives, asparagus, and a hard-boiled egg.

But this is about the salad dressing.  I ran across this years ago in the South Beach Diet book.  I could drink this stuff!  Quick and easy to make, it's good on any salad.

LOUIS SALAD DRESSING

1/2 cup mayo (I use half regular and half reduced-fat)
2 Tbsp chili sauce
1 Tbsp grated onion
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 Tbsp cream or half-and-half
hot sauce, to taste
S&P, to taste

Blend together.  Let stand a few hours to allow flavors to meld.

Recipe Source: The South Beach Diet, 2003, p. 226

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Skillet Ravioli Lasagna


I don't know why I've happened upon so many 20/30 minute meals of late, but this is another one that came out really well.  And easy.  And it just so happened I had everything on hand (I keep a bag of Celentano Cheese Raviolis on hand for quick, delish dinners).  Add some jarred spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, cheese, spinach, and basil for this meal-in-one entrée.  I cut the recipe in half for the two of us.

SKILLET RAVIOLI LASAGNA (5-6 servings)

8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
2 Tbsp EVOO, divided
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 25 oz packaged frozen cheese ravioli, thawed on counter or in microwave (you won't use them all), or refrigerated ravioli
2 (23.5 oz) jars spaghetti sauce
16 oz mozzarella cheese, divided, plus extra for serving
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, plus extra for serving
2 cups fresh spinach, rough chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground back pepper

Saute mushrooms in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp dried oregano.  Set aside.

In a 12" non-stick skillet, drizzle 2 Tbsp oil.  Spread about 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce over the bottom of the skillet.  Sprinkle about 2 Tbsp Parm over the sauce.

Layer enough of the ravioli to almost cover the sauce layer, about 10-11.  Sprinkle grated mozz over the ravioli, to your liking, covering all the ravioli pieces and depending on how cheesy you like your lasagna.  Place about 1/3 of the mushrooms over the mozz.  Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of the fresh basil over the mushrooms and mozz.  Add half of the chopped spinach, spreading over everything.

Cover this layer with more sauce to thinly cover.  Sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan over the sauce.

Repeat with another layer of ravioli, mushrooms, mozz, basil, spinach, sauce, and Parmesan.

For the final (top) layer, place only 3-4 more raviolis over the layers, more sauce, then more Parmesan and mozz.  Add the rest of the mushrooms and sprinkle more basil, using all or some of what you have left, to your liking.

Now sprinkle Parmesan once more over everything and grated from black pepper on top.

Turn heat to medium until sauce starts barely bubbling through the ravioli.  Turn to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Cover and cook until mozz topping has melted and lasagna is nice and bubbly, approximately 5 minutes.  Uncover and try not to let any moisture accumulate on the lid and drip back into the skillet.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE:  If you want to add meat to this recipe, brown one pound of ground beef (or half beef and half Italian sausage) until no longer pink on the outside.  Drain and then remove the meat to a plate.  Using the same skillet, start your layers adding the meat into the sauce layer during assembly.

Recipe Source:  Good Dinner Mom


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Salmon Provencal


I try to serve salmon at least once a week, preferably twice.  I haven't been too good about that lately, so I was excited to find this elegant restaurant-quality dish that includes capers (I do love my capers!)  It's another quick (20 minute) dinner.  Serve it over rice or another grain (I used red quinoa this time).

SALMON PROVENCAL (2 servings)

1 large vine-ripened tomato
EVOO
2 salmon filets (4-6 oz each)
S&P
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp capers (more or less, to taste)
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp butter

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Score an "X" on the bottom of the tomato then add to the pot and remove once the skin beings to peel back, 30 seconds.  Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the tomato and discard, then finely chop tomato and add everything (flesh, seeds, and juices) to a bowl.  Measure out 1/2 cup of the tomato and juices then set aside.

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over heat that's just a touch above medium.  Season salmon filets generously with S&P then place skin side up in the skillet and saute for 2 minutes.  Flip then saute for 3-4 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through.  Transfer filets to a plate then let skillet sit off the heat for a minute to cool down slightly.

Add garlic to skillet then stir constantly until golden brown, 30 seconds, then add wine, chicken broth, tomatoes, and capers.  Turn heat up to  bring to a boil then turn back down and simmer until liquid has reduced by half, 2-3 minutes.  Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice (you can always add more).  Add butter and swirl until melted.  Taste then add S&P if necessary.  Plate salmon then top with sauce and serve.

Recipe Source: Iowa Girl Eats

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Skillet Honey Garlic Chicken


Here's a quick and basic busy night dinner.  A 20 minute meal using ingredients you probably always have on hand.  Serve it over rice or another grain and add a green vegetable or salad and you're set.

SKILLET HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN (3-4 servings)

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
S&P
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cornstarch
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 Tbsp EVOO
Hot, cooked rice or other grain, for serving

Lightly season chicken with S&P. 

Whisk together the chicken broth, garlic, soy sauce, honey, cornstarch and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling.

Add chicken in a single layer and cook, without stirring for a minute or two until the chicken begins to turn golden.  Flip the chicken pieces. 

Whisk the sauce to recombine and stir it into the skillet; bring the mixture to a simmer.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and the chicken has cooked through. 

Serve over hot rice or quinoa.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Memphis BBQ Pork Totchos


Oh my goodness!  What a fun surprise these turned out to be!

A tater tot take on nachos.  Subbing the tots for tortillas and adding some pulled pork, cheese, and some crunchy slaw.  A great game day treat or a busy day entrée.  Easy peasy and quick using prepared ingredients.

I omitted the jalapenos,  but definitely added the slaw.  Adds that great crunch and color.

MEMPHIS BBQ PORK TOTCHOS (8 servings)

1 (28 oz) package frozen bite-size potato nuggets (preferably extra crispy)
2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese
2 cups cooked pulled pork in sauce, warmed
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup prepared coleslaw, optional
1 bunch green onions, sliced (1 cup)

Preheat oven to 425F.

Arrange tater tots in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes, then flip nuggets over and continue baking until extra crispy, 20-24 more minutes (NOTE:  I cooked mine according to package directions, about half the time).  Remove from oven.

Preheat broiler with rack 6" from heat source.  Top tots with cheese, pork, onion, and jalapenos.  Drizzle with BBQ sauce.  Broil tots until cheese starts to bubble, 3-5 minutes.  Top with coleslaw and green onions.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Meet Opie


I can't believe I forgot to introduce you to our newest!  Our first little boy puppy dog, Opie!

I went to a craft show back in December and a local rescue group had a tent set up.  When I saw this little guy I just wanted to scoop him up.  But figuring he was  too cute and would certainly be adopted, I left my name and number just in case.

Well, about 5:00 that night the phone rang.  And so guess who had a new home.

We don't really know how old he is, probably somewhere between 1-3, definitely still plenty of puppiness in him.  He loves any kind of food, toys, walks, car rides, and playing with other dogs (he's particularly sweet on our neighbor's dog, Maggie).  I wish I could say the same for Lindie and Nellie.  He tries so hard to play with Nellie and she'll have nothing to do with him (Lindie and Nellie are at least 10-years-old). 

But just look at the mug!  He's even cuter and funnier in person.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Beet Salad with Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette


I've loved beets for as long as I can remember, probably because my Mom made the best pickled beets in the world.  And then years ago I worked in a restaurant where they served a salad with roasted beets.  Since then I've been roasting beets for salads and just to eat.

Recently I've been finding recipes for salt-roasted beets.  After learning that salt brings out natural sweetness in vegetables (try throwing a couple tablespoons of kosher salt in boiling water when cooking green beans to get the sweetest beans you'll ever eat), I thought I'd give this a try.  There were several methods from completely encrusting a beet to simply putting 1/4" of kosher salt in a baking dish, adding beets (ends pared, but unpeeled) then covering with aluminum foil and baking until cooked through.  I tried the latter.  To me, there was just a tad of difference in the way I baked them before (wrapped in aluminum foil like a baked potato) and the salt-roasted batch.  It really doesn't matter.  Either way you'll end up with a scrumptious roasted beet.

So.....when I ran across this recipe for a salad including roasted beets, it piqued my interest.  That along with my love for pecans.  And goat cheese.  Oh, and just to bump this simple salad one more notch, see if you can find Honey Goat Cheese (I get mine at Aldi's).  I could live on this salad alone.

BEET SALAD with TOASTED PECAN VINAIGRETTE

Salad:
Romaine, spring mix, spinach or a mixture
toasted pecans
roasted beets
goat cheese, crumbled (use honey goat cheese if you can for deliciousness out of this world)

Salad Dressing:
1/2 pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp real  maple syrup (not breakfast syrup)
2 Tbsp chopped shallot
3/4 cup EVOO
water for thinning, around 1/2 cup
S&P to taste

Instructions for the salad dressing:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place pecans on cookie sheet.  Bake the pecans, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant, around 10 minutes.  Cool completely.  Coarsely chop the pecans.

In a high-powered blender or food processor, add pecans, vinegar, syrup, and shallots.  While blending, slowly add in the olive oil.  Blend until completely smooth.  Add water as needed to thin.

Season with S&P to taste.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pasta e Fagioli (Olive Garden)


I am a shameless fan of The Olive Garden.  Not often, but every once in a while nothing fills the bill like a lunch of soup and salad at TOG.

When I go, my soup of choice is always Zuppa Toscano.  Jim's is Pasta e Fagioli.  I never really care much for his choice, then several months ago The World's Best Neighbor brought me a batch she had made up from a copycat recipe.

I really liked it!  And I paired it with another copycat recipe for their salad dressing (I think this one is even better).

The recipe she gave me makes 9 quarts!!!  I cut it down to 1/4 of this.  See the original recipe if you want to make a ginormous batch.

PASTA e FAGIOLI (Olive Garden Copycat, makes 2+ quarts)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef or turkey
3 oz chopped onions
4 oz chopped carrots
4 oz chopped celery
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup cooked/canned kidney beans (drained/rinsed)
2 3/4 cup beef stock
3/4-1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp hot sauce
12 oz spaghetti sauce
2 oz pasta (ditalini or small shells), cooked according to package directions
Grated Parmesan cheese

Saute beef or turkey in soup pot until browned.  Add onions, celery, carrots, and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.

 Add beans, beef stock, oregano, hot sauce, and spaghetti sauce.  Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.  Add parsley and cooked pasta.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Source: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/524/Olive_Garden_Pasta_E_Fagioli35471.shtmlhttp://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/524/Olive_Garden_Pasta_E_Fagioli35471.shtml