Friday, August 30, 2013

Spaghetti with Olive-Caper Sauce and Shrimp

This is another super easy and simple meals.  It's very filling and full of flavors from the wonderful combination of the capers, kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, garlic, cheese and other goodies.  Great dish.  Enjoy!
-12 oz spaghetti
-1 garlic clove
-2 Tbs capers, drained
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
-1 cup kalamata olive, roughly chopped
-3 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
-8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
-14 oz medium cooked shrimp with tails removed
Boil pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, the drain the pasta.  Set aside.
Meanwhile, mix the garlic, 1 Tbs of the capers, and the red pepper flakes into a paste.
Once the pasta is drained, add the garlic mixture, oil, tomatoes, olives, remaining Tbs of capers, butter and cheese to the pot.  Mix very well until the butter is melted.  Toss in the shrimp and the reserved cooking water.  Season with a little salt.  Toss well, serve and enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found on food network.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Skinny Frozen Peach Yogurt

If you have a few more fresh peaches lingering on your counter, go ahead and make this awesome and simple treat.  Enjoy the last days of summer with this frozen yogurt.  It's a wonderful burst of flavors.  Enjoy!
-4 cups fresh peaches, pitted, sliced and frozen solid
-3 Tbs honey
-1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
-1 Tbs lemon juice
Place all ingredients in food processor.  Process for about 5 minutes or until nice and smooth.
Serve immediately.  If you have leftover, transfer into an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mediterranean-Style Spaghetti Squash

I went to a book club the other day and the host, who just harvested her garden, begged us all to take at least one spaghetti squash with us since she had so many of them.  I happily complied and got excited since I have never had spaghetti squash before.  Just for your own information (I didn't know this before last week :) ), its name comes from the fact  that after it is cooked, as you scrape it with a spoon (not a fork), the flesh comes out looking just like spaghetti.  It's pretty cool actually.  This recipe is awesome!  I can't wait to make it again.  The other vegetables do not take away or overpower the taste of the squash; they actually enhance it.  It is seriously super delicious.  Enjoy!
-1 spaghetti squash
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 onion, finely chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
-3/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
-10 jumbo size black olives, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Set aside.
Cut the stem off the squash.  Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and place with cut sides down on the prepared sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance.  Let is cool a little, then using a large spoon, scoop the stringy pulp and place it in a medium bowl.
While the squash is baking, heat the oil in large skillet.  Add the onion and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).  Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a couple more minutes.
Pour cooked vegetables over scooped squash.  Toss with the cheese and tomatoes.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Salad with Chicken, Asiago, Pears and Cashews

I think the name of this dish says it all.  It is such a wonderful blend of flavors.  It's also very light, yet filling.  I love the use of the Asiago cheese in this.  Compared to Parmesan cheese, Asiago is milder, less salty and softer.  Great salad.  Enjoy!
For dressing:
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
-2 tsp honey
-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp pepper
For salad:
-5 oz baby spinach
-1 cup cooked chicken
-1 medium ripe pear, sliced
-1/2 cup cashew halves and pieces
-1/2 cup shaved Asiago cheese
In a small jar with tight -fitting lid, shake all the dressing ingredients.
Right before serving, toss the spinach with the dressing in a salad bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cookie Salad

Yes, you read that right.  It is a salad with cookies in it!  I saw this a while back on my friend, Haylee's blog. I knew I wanted to make it for my family.  Oh boy, was this a big hit!  Simple and delicious, this makes the perfect dessert.  Enjoy!
-1 (3.4 oz) package French vanilla pudding
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 (11.5 oz) package fudgestripe dark chocolate cookies, broken into bite size pieces
-1 (8 oz) tub cool whip
-1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
-1 (8 oz) can pineapple tidbits, drained
In a large bowl, mix the pudding and buttermilk.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chicken Drumsticks in Creamy Dill Sauce

The sauce for this dish is heavenly.  So creamy and flavorful.  I served ours with orzo, but you can use any pasta you like: spaghetti, fettuccine, rotini, etc.  Great dish and a family favorite.  It's also made under 30 minutes which is always a plus on busy nights.  Enjoy!
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-6 chicken drumsticks
-1 large onion, diced
-1 1/2 cups heavy cream
-2 Tbs flour
-1 Tbs dried dill
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
Heat oil in large skillet.  Add the drumsticks and cover.  Cook until browned on both sides (turning once and keeping them covered).
Lower the heat and add the onion.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix the cream, flour and dill.
Once the onion is cooked, add the sauce. Season with the salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until is nice and thickened. Serve hot over cooked pasta.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Romanian Pickled Vegetables (Muraturi)

My kids call these the stinky veggies, because, well, honestly, they do stink.  But they are really good and healthy.  Of course, I grew up with these because it was the only way to enjoy vegetables during the winter months.  Since during communism we didn't really have refrigerators (just insanely small ones) and canned or jarred food was out of the question (only rotten stuff would go in there and they were all expired), we simply pickled the vegetables.  They were just perfect for the winter and as a side dish to mostly anything, or even as a snack.  I will only give the water-salt ratio, as the exact amounts depend on the size of your jars and on how much you want to pickle.  Also, the variety of veggies is endless.  I wanted to pickle celery root and leaves too, but they are very hard to find, so I just left them out.  Carrots, cauliflower, green tomatoes and red cabbage are very common.  Whatever you prefer, just enjoy!
-pickling or kosher salt
-vegetables of choice cut into chunks (if using green tomatoes, leave them whole; the red cabbage needs to have the stump remove and be quartered)
-bay leaves
-whole garlic cloves, peeled
-red pepper flakes
To every 4 cups of water add 1 heaping Tbs of pickling salt.  Mix it in a large pot and bring it to a simmer (do not boil it!).  You might need to do this step in batches, depending on how much you want to pickle.
Meanwhile, on the bottom of the jar, lay 1 Tbs peppercorns and 2 bay leaves.  Place your prepared vegetables on top.  Try to fit them snugly in there.  Leave a couple of inches from the top of the jar.
Pour the warm salt water on top of the vegetables. Top with 4 garlic cloves and 1 tsp red pepper flakes.  Cover with plastic wrap secured with a rubber band and the top of the jar.  Keep on the kitchen counter for about 2 weeks or until pickled.
Every day, during the pickling period, using a tall straw, blow into the liquid to air it out so that the vegetables won't rot.
This is how they look at the beginning.
 My liquid changed colors because of the red cabbage.  But see how the veggies came up on top as they pickled.
Once the vegetables are pickled, place them in the refrigerator to keep longer.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hunan Beef

This is another quick and easy recipe for a busy night.  Enjoy!
For beef:
-1 lb flank steak, cut into thin strips
-1 egg white
-1 Tbs cornstarch
-2 Tbs oil
For sauce:
-2 Tbs soy sauce
-1 Tbs chili garlic sauce
-1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
-1/2 tsp sugar
-1 tsp sesame oil
-2 garlic cloves, minced
For broccoli:
-1 Tbs oil
-1 head broccoli, cut into florets
-1 Tbs apple juice
-1/2 tsp salt
In a bowl, mix beef with the egg white and cornstarch.  Set aside.
In another bowl, mix the soy sauce with chili sauce.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Heat the 2 Tbs of oil and add the beef.  Cook until browned on all sides.  Add the sauce and cook for a couple more minutes.  Remove from wok or skillet and set aside.
In the same wok or skillet, heat the remaining Tbs of oil.  Add the broccoli, apple juice and salt and give it a good stir.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add the beef and sauce, mix well and cook for 1 more minute.
Serve over rice.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Texas Peach Cobbler

This is definitely a kicked-up version of a peach cobbler. It is packed with lots of delicious flavor and definitely don't count the calories on this one!  :)  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup flour
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 Tbs baking powder
-3/4 cup milk
-3 cups fresh peaches, sliced, with skin on
-1/2 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Melt the butter and pour it into an 8x8 baking dish.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and milk.  Pour this batter right on top of the melted butter without stirring.  Without mixing, arrange the peaches evenly on top of the batter.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes

It's nice to have a delicious side dish ready to enjoy with a little salad and some protein like fried chicken for dinner.  I love how easy this dish is to put together.  It then sits in that slow cooker the whole day developing into an amazing dish, while your house smells heavenly.  Yum!  Enjoy!
-cooking spray
-4 lbs potatoes, peeled and sliced
-1 large onion, diced
-1 lb thick cut smoked bacon, diced
-4 cups shredded fiesta blend cheese
-3 (10 3/4 oz each) cans cream of chicken soup
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray. Place half of the sliced potatoes on bottom of slow cooker.  Top with half the onion, cheese and bacon.  Repeat layers.  Top with soup.  Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Banana Beignets

Quick, simple, delicious!  A great way of using overripe bananas.  Enjoy!
For beignets:
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1/8 cup cornstarch
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-2 Tbs vegetable oil
-1/2 cup milk
-1 overripe banana, mashed
For dusting:
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 cup sugar
Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together egg, oil, milk and mashed banana.  Add banana mixture to flour and mix until just moistened.
Heat oil into a large pan over medium heat.  Working in batches, drop spoonfuls of dough into hot oil.  Fry until golden brown, but make sure to give them enough time to cook in the middle as well.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, then roll in the cinnamon sugar while still warm.  Enjoy!
Adapted from a Food Network recipe.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Romanian Pilaf with Chicken

When I scheduled this meal, I thought it would just take the normal time and effort any dish takes.  However, when I turned on my stove, there was no heat!  Long story short, our electrical box had to be replaced.  This took about 2 days, but we still needed to eat, right?  So I improvised and cooked my meals on our gas grill.  It actually worked out just great.  We now have the power back on, so things are good again.  This is another great dish I grew up with.  It's easy to make and delicious!
I used Vegeta for this dish.  Vegeta is a spice containing salt and crushed dried vegetables.  It is very common in Romania.  However, it can be found quite easily in most grocery stores in the international isle.  If you don't have it, can't find it or simply don't want it, season with seasoned salt and other spices you might like, such as dried herbs and garlic powder or something.  With that in mind, enjoy!
-7 cups water
-2 Tbs Vegeta
-4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
-2 cups white rice, uncooked
-salt and pepper, to taste
Place water, Vegeta and chicken in a large sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer and cook the chicken all the way through.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Add the uncooked rice to the pan and give it a good stir (make sure to scrape all the goodness from the chicken on the sides of the pan).  Lower the heat and let it simmer, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked through, stirring often.  Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes so that all of the liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile, lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill, fry or bake it a little so that the skin gets some crisp to it.  Serve it hot over the rice pilaf.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Easy Refrigerator Peach Jam

Our little peach tree produced a lot again this year.  We love eating the raw peaches, but there are way too many and I'm trying to use different ways to use most of them (we also gave lots to neighbors and family).  Here's one more way of using fresh, sweet peaches.  It's super easy.  This recipe yields only one regular sized jar, so if you want more, plan accordingly.  Enjoy!
 Ingredients (for 1 jar):
-2 cups diced fresh peaches (with skin on)
-1 cup water
-3/4 cup sugar
Combine ingredients into small saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Take the cover off, lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced to half.  Remove from heat and set on counter.  Let it cool a little, then pour into a food processor (a blender probably works just fine too).  Process for about 10-15 seconds, then pour into jar.
Let it cool completely.  After it cooled, cover the jar and place in your fridge.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Taco Pasta Salad

This is another recipe I found on Facebook thanks to my friend, Brandi.  This was another family success.  It's quick to put together, simple and very tasty.  Enjoy!
-16 oz garden rotini pasta
-1 lb extra lean ground beef
-3/4 cup water
-1 envelope taco seasoning
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-1 large green pepper, chopped
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
-1 (16 oz ) can olives, pitted and drained
-1 (16 oz) bottle classic Catalina dressing
Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain and pour into big salad bowl.
Meanwhile, brown the ground beef.  Add the water and seasoning and mix well.  Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let it cool a little. Once cooled pour over pasta.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir very well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thai Spicy Shrimp

This recipe comes from Chef Robert Irvine.  It is not very appealing, but it sure is tasty.  Make sure you give it a stir before dipping the bread and enjoying the dish.  The flavors are wonderful, not too spicy and just perfect together.  Great dish.  Enjoy!
-1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
-1/2 red onion, finely diced
-2 Tbs Sriracha hot chili sauce
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1 cup grapeseed oil
-1 cup vegetable oil
-French bread, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Divide the shrimp among 6 small ramekin dishes, place all of them on a cookie sheet and set aside.
Mix the garlic, tomatoes, onion, chili sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Divide the mixture between the ramekins with shrimp.
Meanwhile, blend both oils in a saucepan until sizzling, but not boiling.  Pour evenly into the ramekin dishes.
Place the cookie sheet into preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes.
Serve immediately with the French bread for dipping.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Robert Irvine recipe.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Kentucky Hot Brown Bake

My friend Brandi posted the recipe for this on Facebook the other day.  I don't know where the actual source is, but we loved, loved, loved this recipe.  It's super easy to make and very tasty.  Enjoy!
-1 (8 oz) package refrigerated crescent rolls
-14 oz smoked turkey lunch meat
-8 slices cooked bacon
-8 slices Swiss cheese
-3 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
-4 eggs, beaten, divided
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease or line with parchment paper an 8x8 pan.
Unroll the crescents and separate into 2 squares.  Place one square on bottom of prepared pan.  Press dough to fit pan.  Layer with half the turkey, bacon, cheese and tomatoes.  Pour half of the beaten eggs on top.
Repeat layers of turkey, bacon, cheese and tomatoes.  Top this with remaining dough square.  Pour remaining eggs over top.
Cover with foil and cook in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 20-25 more minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from heat and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer Layered Chicken Salad

I ran across this recipe a while back and thought it looked good.  Hands down!  This is the BEST salad ever!  I want to eat it again and again.  It is that good!  The dressing is to die for and it goes just perfect with the crunchiness of the lettuce and pecans, plus the sweetness and juiciness of the chicken and strawberries.  The Gorgonzola cheese adds the final touch to a wonderful and delicious salad.  You have to make this one!  Enjoy!
For salad:
-1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
-4 cups cooked chicken breast strips (not breaded)
-5 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
-1 cup pecan halves
-3 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned and quartered
For dressing:
-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 Tbs sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-3 Tbs red wine vinegar
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 clove garlic, finely minced
In a large salad bowl, place half of the torn lettuce.  Layer with chicken, cheese, pecan, remaining lettuce and strawberries.
In a small bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients until well blended.  Pour dressing over salad just before serving.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nutella Popsicles

This is seriously the easiest thing ever!  Thanks, Pinterest!  :) Not only it is easy; it's also super delicious!  Only two ingredients and the results are phenomenal!  I will definitely double the recipe next time as my family gobbled them up immediately.  :)  This recipe only makes 6 popsicles (I use the Ikea molds).  Anyway, this is definitely a must try.  Enjoy!
-1 cup milk (2 %)
-1/4 cup Nutella
Put milk and Nutella in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into molds, insert the sticks and freeze for 24 hours.  Enjoy!


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