Friday, September 28, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Serves 6.

I added some Ranch to make this dish a little milder, and reduced the amount of blue cheese after realizing it was a bit overwhelming.  It's rich  with the recommended 1-1/2 cups, but if that's your groove, then go for it! 
Slightly adapted from: The Girl Who Ate Everything

8 ounces small uncooked pasta (such as penne)
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 cup Ranch dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 cups precooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, chopped
3/4 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
(optional) 1/2 cup red onion, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente in adequately salted water. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water (If serving hot don't use cold water).

While pasta is cooking, whisk together hot sauce, oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt in small bowl until well combined.

Place the pasta in large mixing bowl. Stir in chicken, blue cheese, carrots, celery, and onion (optional). Slowly mix in desired amount of dressing. You may not want to use all of the dressing.
Can be served cold or hot. If serving cold, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken Cobb Salad

Chicken Cobb Salad

Serves 4.

Probably my favorite go-to salad... but it definitely takes some thought since I rarely have all of these ingredients on hand.  I took my photo before adding the red onions -- oops!  Don't forget those (or DO forget if you aren't wild about onions).

Romaine lettuce, cleaned and chopped
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
7-8 strips bacon, chopped and cooked
4 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/2 red onion, diced
Dressing of your choice -- Ranch or Bleu Cheese?

Top romaine lettuce with listed ingredients, and serve with Ranch or Bleu cheese dressing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Sweet and Sour Glaze

Grilled Chicken with Sweet and Sour Glaze

Serves 4.

The original recipe uses pork chops instead of chicken, so feel free to try both.  It is a fantastic recipe.  Great for a weeknight dinner, yet still fancy enough for entertaining a dinner party.  And even though we grilled the chicken breasts, you could easily cook them inside to make this recipe work for all seasons.
Adapted from: Weeknights with Giada

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, pale green and white parts only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chicken: Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Grill chicken into cooked through.  Set aside and keep warm under foil, if necessary.

Glaze: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, honey, garlic, scallions, and rosemary to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved. Simmer for 9 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve chicken with glaze on top.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bran Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bran Muffins

Makes 6-8.

The original recipe calls for bran muffin mix, but, surprisingly, I couldn't find it at my local grocery store.  Instead, I substituted an apple cinnamon muffin mix, which worked out pretty well.  The result?  A just-sweet-enough muffin with bursts of flavor.
Slightly adapted from: Cupcakes! from The Cake Mix Doctor

1 package (7 ounces) apple cinnamon muffin mix
1 cup sweetened bran flake cereal with raisins, such as Raisin Bran
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare muffin tin with liners.

Place the muffin mix and cereal in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.  Place the buttermilk, oil, and egg in the well and stir with a fork to combine and break up the egg yolk.  Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon just until combined.  Let the batter rest in the bowl to soften the bran flakes, about 5 minutes.

Scoop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup, filling it three quarters of the way full.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed with your finger.

Allow muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to continue to cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Serves 8.

Take advantage of these last few Indian summer days and make a summer pie, like this delicious lemon meringue.  Yum!  And a tip for serving from Mimo: cut pie with a wet knife.  It helps to keep the meringue from sticking to the knife.
Source: Mimo, my grandmother

1/4 c. cornstarch
3 T. flour
1-3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten  (**Save the egg whites for the meringue!)
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon peel
1 T. butter
Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan; mix well.  Gradually add 2 cups of water, stirring until smooth.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Boil one minute until shiny.  Quickly stir some hot mixture into yolks, and then pour back into mixture.  Return to heat and cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into pie crust.
4 egg whites
1/4 t. cream of tarter
1/2 c. sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Beat egg whites with cream of tarter until frothy.  Gradually beat in sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time.  Beat until stiff.
Spread on pie carefully, sealing edges with meringue.
Bake for 7-9 minutes.  Cool for 3 hours on a wire rack.  Refrigerate until serving.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Creamy Lumaconi with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Creamy Lumaconi with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Serves 2.

Satisfyingly rich cream sauce with the healthy crunch of fresh spinach.  Very good!
Slightly adapted from: Bev Cooks

1 head garlic, end sliced off
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups lumaconi (or any small pasta)
2 Italian sausage links, casings removed
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
1 thyme sprig, leaves removed
1 oregano sprig, leaves removed
2 cups chopped spinach
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Place the garlic head in a small piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with oil, seal and roast for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.  When cool, squeeze whole garlic cloves out of shell.

Heat a medium sauce pot over medium high. Add the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon, cooking until browned all over, 6 minutes.  Remove sausage, leaving the grease (about 1 tablespoon).  Add butter, and melt.  When the foaming subsides, add the flour. Whisk constantly for 1 minute, and then slowly add the milk, continuing to whisk another 5 minutes or so until the sauce gets thick and creamy. Add in the herbs, a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk a little more. Transfer a small amount (about 1/3 cup) of cream sauce to a small food processor, add the roasted garlic cloves and pulse until very smooth. Return to the sauce pot, mix to combine, and keep warm.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until al dente. Just taste it to test it. Drain and return to the pot.

Pour the cream sauce over the pasta, along with the spinach and sausage. Toss to coat and combine everything.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mimo's Pie Crust

Mimo's Pie Crust

Makes 1 crust

This pie crust is perfect for sweet pies that only need a bottom crust.  It almost takes like a shortbread crust.  I haven't perfected it as a rolled crust, and maybe Mimo never intended it to be.  Regardless of it's unique form, it's a crust that I love to use for my dessert pies -- it's delicious, simple, and reminds me of Mimo.
Source: My grandmother, who we lovingly called Mimo

1 stick butter
2 T. sugar
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat butter in a saucepan until melted.  Add sugar and mix until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.

Stir in flour until fully combined.  Pat into pie pan. 

If you will be using the crust for a no-bake pie such as coconut cream or lemon meringue (well, yes, it IS baked for a few minutes to brown the meringue...) bake for 15 minutes to set.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Garden Vegetable Tart

Garden Vegetable Tart

Serves 4-6.

Use up the last of those garden veggies for this delicious tart!  We all loved it!  It can be served as a side dish or main dish.
Slightly adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens, August 2012

1 frozen puff pastry sheet (half a 17.3-oz. package)
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup water
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Crushed red pepper and dried basil (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to a 14x10-inch rectangle; transfer to a baking pan.  Prick pastry all over with a fork.  Bake 10 minutes, until center is set.  Remove from oven; lightly press center with spatula.

Meanwhile, wrap cleaned corn in waxed paper.  Microwave for 2 minutes.  Cut corn kernels off the cob.  Add corn, zucchini, and tomatoes into a saucepan and saute with olive oil over medium heat until tender, 5-7 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste and water; spread on puff pastry.  Top pastry with cheese and vegetables.  Bake tart 10 minutes, until pastry is golden and cheese is melted.  Top with red pepper and basil.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Dry Grass of August

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

This is such a quick, easy read!  It will pull at your emotions, but you can read it in a day or two if you have a decent amount of time (think vacations or days when you exclusively read while your child naps...).

Book description from Amazon:

In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation, what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood--and for the woman who means the world to her. . .

On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family's black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there--cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father's rages and her mother's benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally. Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass, and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents' failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence. . .  Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us--from child to adult, from wounded to indomitable.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas

Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas

Serves: 4-6

Here's a fit and healthy way to start your day.  And you'll enjoy it too!  If you need a little added sweetness, try drizzling syrup on top.  This was enjoyed by adults and kids alike!
Slightly adapted from: Skinny Taste blog

3 medium ripe bananas, (the riper the better) sliced into 1/2" pieces
3 cups blueberries
1/2 cup honey (or agave)
2 cup uncooked quick oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pinch of salt
2 cups fat free milk (or any milk you desire)
2 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly spray a 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Sprinkle half of the blueberries over the bananas, 1 tsp of the cinnamon, 2 tbsp of the honey and cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes, until the bananas get soft.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of nuts, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, and salt; stir together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining honey, milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

Remove the bananas from the oven, then pour the oat mixture over the bananas and blueberries.

Pour the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as possible over the oats. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries and walnuts over the the top.

Bake the oatmeal for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Israeli Couscous Taco Salad with Avocado

Israeli Couscous Taco Salad with Avocado

Serves 3-4.

So delicious and great for your body.  We added chicken for extra protein.
Slightly adapted from: What's Gaby Cooking?

1 cup Israeli Couscous
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup black beans, cooked and drained
2 ears corn, kernels removed
4 scallions, chopped
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup salsa
2 California Avocados, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded, if desired
Cook the Israeli Couscous according to the package directions. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine the red bell pepper, black beans, corn, scallions, cilantro, salsa and lime juice. Mix together.

Add the Israeli Couscous and chicken (if using); toss together. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust lime juice if needed.

Before serving, add chopped avocado.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker by E L James

Book two.  Just as addicting as the first.  Still not the greatest of writing, but a fun read to stay up-to-date with what's hot.  :)

Book description from Amazon:

Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house.

But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Potato Chip Cookies

Potato Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen.

I've been wanting to try these for a while now.  And they were good!  Really soft, and a yummy combination of salty and sweet.  Recent barbeque?  This is a great way to use up leftover potato chips!
Source: King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup rolled oats, traditional or quick
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 2/3 cups gently crushed potato chips
additional salt for sprinkling on top, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Beat together the shortening, sugars, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.  Beat in the egg, then stir in the oats and flour, mixing till cohesive. The dough will be stiff.  Gently stir in the potato chips.

Drop the dough in chestnut-sized pieces (about 1 level tablespoon) onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2" space around each cookie.

Bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes, until they're barely beginning to brown. This will yield a cookie that's crunchy on the outside, and softer within. For a cookie that's crunchy/hard all the way through, bake for 10-12 minutes, till light golden brown.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool right on the pan.