Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Salad


Here's the 2nd great dish that's perfect for the upcoming 4th of July holiday.

This salad is one of our go-to salads during the summer months.  We tend to eat much lighter than the rest of the year, and we eat tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. MGG and I love going to local farmer's markets and picking in season items to make for dinner over the weekend.  It's a fun summer pass time.  


This year has been one of the best I can remember for strawberries.  they are so plump and juicy and need no sweetening.  I just can't get enough of them.  My Summer Salad features these wonderful berries and the combination of the sweet berries, tang from Gorgonzola cheese, and crunch of pecans is perfect.  Something you will enjoy over and over all summer.

I also love items that are quick to put together.  Who really wants to spend all day in the kitchen during the summer? Not me!


So make sure to round up your friends this weekend, and bring this salad.  They will request seconds....no doubt!

Enjoy!

Kitchen Tip:  Add some grilled or rotisserie chicken to make this a main course salad.



Summer Salad

serves 6

7 cups of romaine lettuce, torn (1 large head)
1 cup of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup pecan halves
3 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

In a large bowl add the lettuce.  Layer on the cheese, pecans, and the strawberries. In a small mason jar add the oil, vinegar, salt, mustard, and garlic.  Place lid on and shake to combine.  

Pour dressing over the salad right before serving.






Monday, June 29, 2015

Asian Cucumber Salad


This is 4th of July week and I have a million things to do to get ready for the big day.

We always have a pool party and do some grilling with friends.  Then it's off to watch fireworks and I can't forget the dessert, which is something that involves fruit such as grilled pound cake and peaches or berries, or a delicious parfait.   But, we can't forget to top it with a scoop of homemade ice cream.  It's a tradition in our family to make ice cream on the 4th of July, and it would be sorely missed if we didn't make it. 



I have a lot of recipes ready for you this week to choose from for your Independence Day bash.  Let's start with a nice fresh side dish that has been in our family for quite some time. Our Asian Cucumber Salad is so refreshing and make the perfect side dish to sliders, chicken, burgers, and even ribs. Let's just say that this didn't last long in my house.  I even caught MGG in the kitchen later eating my leftovers I had saved for lunch!


Kitchen Tip:  If you use English or Hot House Cucumbers, you won't have to peel them (love that!). For regular cucumbers, you will need to peel them like I have done in these pictures.



I know you will enjoy this.  It's easy to put together, and you can make it ahead, which is always a plus in my book!

Be on the look out for more dishes over the next several days.  You won't want to miss them.
Enjoy!




Asian Cucumber Salad

Serves 8

4 large cucumbers, sliced, peeled if necessary, and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
Ground black pepper

In a large bowl, add cucumbers and salt and allow to stand 5 minutes to draw out the moisture. In a small mason jar add the vinegar, ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Shake to combine and set aside. Drain your cucumbers of any collected liquid. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and then cover and chill 1 to 24 hours. Before serving add your chopped mint, and toss to combine. Season with black pepper and serve.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Southwest Chicken Spaghetti - Slow Cooker Meal


I'm addicted to Pinterest.

I admit it.  It's really out of control.  

I pin...and pin...and pin all these recipes that have me drooling that my "to make" board is loading up so much I'll never make all these wonderful dishes in my lifetime.

I really need to limit myself.  Truly....I found this out the other day when I was looking for a recipe that I pinned last week and couldn't find it.  I had pinned so many other "to make" recipes after it that it was buried.  Buried I tell you.  So far down there that I would swear I pinned that months ago. One would think these are gold rather than recipes.  I'm a Pinterest hoader, that's what I am!   I think I'm wasting more time looking for things I know I pinned. This is NOT good.  Do you know the feeling?  Tell me I'm not alone.



So I decided to stop pinning items "to make" and get in there and make some of them.  Today's dish is something I've been wanting to try for quite a while now.  It's a convenient slow cooker meal which is a time saver on the weekends, or during the week when I want to come home and not have to cook.  Even in the summer the slow cooker can be your friend.  The other plus is that this is a spaghetti dish. Everyone loves spaghetti right?  You'll love this southwest variation.  It has such great flavors. 

I adapted the recipe from this blog (Lauren's Latest).  I love that is so easy to make, basically just dump and go.  The only thing you need to do is cook the spaghetti about 45 min prior to your eating time, which covers your cooking time and melding time with the chicken and the sauce.  So gooey and yummy!



The result is one Pinterest "to make" recipe down!  Woohoo!  ....and another item that I want to add to my repertoire.

Enjoy! 


Southwest Chicken Spaghetti

adapted from Lauren's Latest Crock-Pot cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small can mild diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste
2 chicken breasts {about 1 lb.}
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4-1 lb. cooked spaghetti
2-3 cups grated cheddar cheese
a few splashes chicken stock {optional}


Directions:

Place chicken in the bottom of the crock-pot.  Add the onion, bell peppers, green chiles, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, mushroom soup and 1 cup of grated cheese on top of the chicken.   Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to the pot.   

Cook your spaghetti according to the package directions. Add the cooked noodles to the crock-pot and top with remaining cheese. Toss to coat pasta in sauce and melt cheese, adding in a few splashes of chicken stock if necessary to get sauce consistency you want. Cook another 20-30 minutes on low and serve.

Here's her freezer directions:
**Freezer directions: Place onion, bell peppers, green chiles, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chicken, mushroom soup and 1 cup of grated cheese together in a large plastic freezer bag. Seal and freeze. To cook, defrost in fridge, place in crock-pot and cook according to directions listed above.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chicken Taco Meat - Freezer Friendly Bulk Recipe



Saturdays are my day to cook, clean, and watch the Food Network!

I just love watching Giada, Ina, Guy, and a host of others (so much so we're on a first name basis!) because they are excellent chefs, teachers, and very entertaiing.  I've made many items from Ina, (that never fail) and Michael Symon (adore!) but recently I was watching Ree, the Pioneer Woman. 



She was making 'freezer recipes' and specifically, Chicken Tacos.  What really caught my eye was the sauce that she made at the end and simmered the meat in it.  It's like homemade taco sauce built in.  So I knew right then that I wanted to try this out.

You see, I'm a Mexican food lover at heart.  Here are some of my favorites here, and here.  So she really had me at "taco".



This recipe doesn't disappoint.  It has great flavor, it makes a TON, so it's perfect to divide and freeze in packages to pull out when you need a quick weeknight meal.  I made the meat just as stated and we promptly ate our chicken tacos.  Then I froze the rest of the meat in portions to additional meals.  Easy as that...and tasty too!  This is going to be my new go to chicken taco recipe.


Enjoy!



Chicken Taco Meat

serves 16-20


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 14 oz can of tomato sauce

Directions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat until hot. Add the chicken in batches and cook, browning, a couple minutes per side; remove the chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon. Add the garlic and onions to the skillet and cook briefly. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt to taste. Pour in the tomato sauce and 2 cups water to create a broth. Add the chicken back to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the broth is reduced by half.

Serve in hard or soft taco shells with your favorite toppings.

Freezer instructions:
Original recipe size:  Let cool, divide among 4 freezer bags and freeze.

Recipe source:Ree Drummond - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/chicken-taco-meat.html

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Southwest Chicken Chili



Father's Day is tomorrow and it's time to celebrate all the Dads you know. 

My dad loved a good steak dinner, but today I've made another of his favorites...chili.  Dad loved a good bowl of chili topped with shredded cheddar cheese.  So hearty, comforting, and just plain good!  So let's make a down home, comfort food meal for Father's Day.

Today's chili is my quick and easy version, since it uses pantry items and/or leftovers such as pre-cooked chicken and canned ingredients.  It makes a ton of chili...enough to share with the entire family.  You can certainly halve the recipe to make less if you want.  


This isn't your standard beef chili though.  It is a delicious southwestern style chicken chili.  It's the bomb and I can hear my Dad saying "Baby, this is some damn good chili!"

This would also be the perfect game day meal.  Serve it with cornbread and you are all good to go.



Kitchen Tip:  This chili is quite hot.  You can adjust the spice to your liking by increasing or reducing the amount of chili flakes that you use.

Make a dish your dad will love and enjoy!  Happy Father's Day!!


Southwest Chicken Chili

serves 10

2 T canola oil
1 medium onion, small dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (16 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (15 ounces each) chili beans, drained
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with the juices
3 cups cooked chicken, cut in chunks
1 1/3 cups 2% milk
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 T chicken stock concentrate
1 bay leaf
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder,
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:  shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, diced red onion, avocado slices, jalapeno slices, sour cream

In a large pot, heat oil over a medium high heat. Add onion and cook about 7 minutes, until translucent and tender. Add garlic and stir cooking 1 minute.

Stir in remaining ingredients and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered about 15-20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve.  Top with your favorite toppings.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chicken Taco Pizza


I love French bread pizzas.

They bring back memories of mom making them for me when I was growing up.  There is just something about the way the bread gets all crispy when it's cooked.  It's just the perfect vessel for pizza....other than pizza dough!

So today is the day that I re-created my childhood memories.  So digging through the frig to see what I have in leftovers I pull out some shredded chicken, tomatoes and some Mexican cheese I had stashed.  So I decide to mix it up and make this a Mexican flavored pizza. 



Oh my!  This satisfied my pizza craving and it boosted my mood with the Mexican flavors!  Yum!

This is one the kids are sure to love.  Easy to make for lunch as snack, or a quick weeknight dinner.  Make sure to try this soon and keep it in your rotation.
It's that good!



Chicken Taco Pizza

serves 4

1 French Bread loaf
1 cup pizza sauce (or you could use salsa)
1 Tbsp taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1 tomato diced (optional topping)
additional toppings optional: olives, green onions, avocado.


Split French Bread Loaf in half crosswise and then spit both pieces in half lengthwise.  

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place bread pieces cut side up on a cookie sheet.  Spread pizza sauce over each slice.  Sprinkle taco seasoning over the sauce evenly.  Divide chicken among the bread slices.  Top with cheese.  Sprinkle with diced tomato.  Add any additional toppings if desired.

Bake 10-13 minutes until bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Allow to cool 2-3 minutes and serve.




Monday, June 8, 2015

Barbacoa


Do you love Chipotle?  Don't have one close by?
Today's dish will solve that dilemma and your craving for the spicy, wonderful beef Barbacoa. 
Barbacoa is a method of cooking.  Traditionally over an open fire, or in a pit in the ground.  We don't have a pit and open fires can be a little messy so we're going for the slow cooker.  Man's new best friend.  

You don't have to use much effort here.  Just toss it all in and walk away.  When you come back you will have a wonderful beef  that is filled with chunky good stuff!  


So feed your cravings at home and make this Barbacoa soon.  You will have plenty to feed the family and possibly leftover which can be frozen for another day.  Serve over rice and make your own burrito bowl, or serve it in soft tacos like I did today.  Either way, the flavors of the beef are the star.

Enjoy!



Barbacoa

3 lbs top round or chuck roast (fat trimmed), cut into 2-inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped 
1 4oz. can green chiles
3/4 c yellow onion, diced 
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbls apple cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
1 tbls cumin
1 tbls oregano
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup beef broth

Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove beef and shred the beef.  Return to the slow cooker and mix with the juice.  Cover and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaves. Serve in soft tortillas or over rice.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Greek Chicken Bread Salad

 
I started out with good intentions today.

I went to a cooking class, (which was fabulous) and was totally excited to make a southwestern or "TexMex" version of enchiladas along with some Spanish rice, cause I learned a new technique with the enchiladas that I just have to try. Like now....!

This was going to be enchiladas assembly line day...with one set for dinner and another set to freeze.

After the class I decided to go shopping. Since I was in the browsing mood I took my time in a new grocery store, drooling over new items that I might like to create new dishes with. (They have a whole section of exotic fruits I have to get my hands on!) Needless to say, being in a new store trying to locate my must have list items, and me taking my time browsing I spent way to much time in the store...ho hum...


By the time I got home I was hungry (I was very bad...I didn't eat anything today!) and, I was tired. SO NOT in the mood anymore to make my enchiladas. What to do with the chicken I have and a hungry man staring at me in hopes of dinner tonight? Let's whip up a healthy salad!

I love a great Panzanella salad, and with what I had on hand I turned this into a Greek version. The bomb! We both agreed this was a quick, healthy and light salad worthy of a gold star.  


I used Greek ingredients like cucumbers, bell peppers, feta, lemon, and oregano to flavor this Greek version.  You can add anything you like such as olives, tomatoes, pepperocini, etc...make it  your own!  

Kitchen Tip:  If you don't want to go to the trouble to make the toasted bread cubes, use croutons.  They'll be fine.
   
Enjoy!


Greek Chicken Bread Salad

serves 4


2 cups cubed French bread baguette, crust removed
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
zest of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 chicken cutlets, thin sliced
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup sliced red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 medium English cucumber, sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese, chunks or crumbled

Preheat broiler.

Place baguette cubes on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Broil about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over after the 1st minute.

In a small mason jar combine oregano, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon, and red pepper flakes. Shake to combine. Set aside.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with lemon pepper. Place chicken in the skillet and cook about 4 minutes on each side (depending on thickness) or until cooked through. Remove from the pan and allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain.

Add bread cubes, lettuce, bell pepper, cucumber and feta to a large bowl. Toss with salad vinaigrette. Top with chicken.




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