Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grape Salad


I had this salad years ago when visiting Jim's dad in Texas.  I pretty much ate through the entire batch, it was so good.  And then I forgot about it until my friend, Sharon, told me about this grape salad she had just made.  I knew it had to be the same one and asked her to forward the recipe to me, which she did (thank you, friend!)

I would love to know the origin of this super-simple recipe.  It reminds me of something likely found in a 1950's or 60's church ladies cookbook.  The original recipe calls for 4 pounds of green grapes, but I quartered the entire recipe since they're just for me.  Also, I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red grapes for a prettier presentation.  And reduced-fat cream cheese and sour cream work great.

As hard as it might be, try not to eat them all as soon as you've made them...let them chill at least a couple of hours to allow the flavors to meld the the consistency to firm up. 

GRAPE SALAD

4 pounds of green grapes, stems removed and rinsed
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz chopped pecans
2 tsp brown sugar

Mix everything except the grapes until you have a creamy, smooth consistency.  Stir in grapes.  Chill several hours before serving.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chicken with Buffalo Cream Sauce




Talk about easy and what a delight!

A note about this entree.  This is a Publix demo and they used this package of Buffalo sauce and coating mix (found in the spice aisle).  However, I found out that (after demo-ing it), they ran out of these packages and substituted Buffalo Wing sauce and fried onions (you know, the kind that people use in holiday green bean casseroles).  Luckily, I had a can of Trader Joe's fried onions my friend, Donna (thank you, Donna) had sent me (since we don't have a TJ's in Chattanooga) and I just picked up some hot wing sauce (although you can make your own with butter and hot sauce) and save a few $$$.

This was served with the that wonderful bleu cheese slaw (posted yesterday).

CHICKEN with BUFFALO CREAM SAUCE (4 servings)

1 egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 (8 oz) package Buffalo sauce  and coating mix
1 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line baking sheet with foil.  Place egg in shallow bowl; place coating mix in second bowl.  Dip chicken into egg (allowing excess to drip off), then dip into breading mixture, pressing with fingertips to evenly coat.  Arrange chicken on baking sheet (wash hands).  Bake chicken 12 minutes.

Turn chicken over; bake 10-12 more minutes or until chicken is 165F and breading is well browned (***in the Nu-Wave, I cooked it about 8 minutes on each side of thin chicken cutlets).

Combine buffalo sauce (from mix) with yogurt, then stir in onions.  Slice chicken.  Serve chicken with sauce.

Recipe Source:  www.publix.com/aprons


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blue Cheese Slaw


As a big lover of cole slaw and bleu cheese, I was excited to run across this recipe.  I've seen bleu cheese cole slaw recipes before but had actually never made any of them.

This one is a bit more varied.  When I first read the list of ingredients, I did a double-take.  It sounded like a pretty convoluted mixture, but odd enough I just had to try it!  Really: cole slaw with cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and bacon, not to mention the bleu cheese?

Yet after trying it, I can't make imagine leaving a single thing out of this slaw.  The sun-dried tomatoes really surprised me (I used smoked sun-dried tomatoes).  It gave the salad a bit of tartness.

I mixed everything together a few hours ahead of serving time and then dressed it at the last minute.  I have some leftover from last night so it should be good for a few days by waiting until serving time to add the dressing.

BLEU CHEESE SLAW (4-8 servings, depending on serving size)

1 (16 oz) bag shredded 3-color coleslaw mix
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried julienne-cut tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 cup cooked bacon pieces
1/2 cup bleu cheese salad dressing

Place all ingredients (except dressing) in salad bowl.

Chill until ready to serve.  Stir in dressing, toss until evenly coated.

Recipe Source: www.publix.com/aprons

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shrimp Stroganoff



I love shrimp and this dish is definitely a winner!  The original recipe calls for roasted red peppers, but readers suggested substituting asparagus or green peas.  I had a half a pound of thin asparagus, so I stemmed them, steamed them, and then cut them into 1-2" pieces.  I had all of the ingredients ready to go and the dish was ready when the pasta was cooked.  Serve with a Caesar or green salad for a quick and easy dinner.

A note: It took me some time to come around to the briny taste of capers but have come to love them.  If you're one of those fence-sitters, please don't give up....keep trying!  Also, while cayenne pepper is too often overwhelmingly hot for our tastes, a small sprinkle (at least for us) bumps this dish up just a bit.

SHRMIP STROGANOFF (4 servings)

1 pound large shrimp (24 to 26 per pound); thawed (if frozen), peeled, deveined, and patted dry
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
6 oz fettucine
2 Tbsp butter
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp chopped shallot
1 2/3 cup chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 (7 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
Salt to taste
cayenne pepper, a small sprinkle or more (or none) to taste

Combine shrimp, oil, and Cajun seasoning in a bowl.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.  Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat in a large skillet.  Cook mushrooms and shallots in butter, stirring until tender, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.

Melt remaining Tbsp butter in skillet, then add shrimp and cook, stirring until shrimp turns pink, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer shrimp to bowl with mushrooms.  Add 2/3 cup chicken broth to skillet and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 2-3 minutes.

In a bowl, stir together sour cream and cornstarch; mix in remaining chicken broth.  Stir into reduced chicken broth in skillet.  Cook stirring, until thick and bubbly, about 1 minute.  Stir in shrimp and mushroom mixture, red peppers, and capers.  Heat through and season with salt and cayenne pepper, if using.

Serve over pasta.

Recipe Source:  AllRecipes magazine, August 2014, p. 79

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Greek Chicken and Artichokes


How is everyone doing today?  I don't know where you're at, but here in southeastern Tennessee it is absolutely glorious!!!  We have come into some kind of weird summer "cool snap."  I mowed the lawn this morning and when I did, I felt like it was autumn.  I have slept the last two nights with the windows open!!!   Something unheard of in these parts in the middle of July.  I know it's not going to last, but I am in my element in these fews days of cool weather.  I am officially in my countdown to autumn....tick tock, tick tock.

But back to this recipe.  I ran across it and just happened to have everything it called for on hand.  How great can that be?!!!  Also, it's fast and easy.  I served it with my favorite Greek salad and brown rice on the side.  My only error here, I believe, is I should have added some chopped fresh parsley at the end to add a bit of color.  But that wouldn't have changed the flavor.  This is a great, healthy, easy meal which can be on your table in minutes.

GREEK CHICKEN and ARTICHOKES (4 servings)

3/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/4 tsp Greek seasoning (found in the baking aisle of your supermarket)
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can (14.5 oz) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14 oz) water-packed quartered artichokes hearts, drained (I use artichoke bottoms, the "heart" of the artichoke....the brand here is "Reese's."  I had to ask my Publix manager to order them for me)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Toss chicken with Greek seasoning.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook and stir until lightly browned.  Add mushrooms; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.

Stir in tomatoes and artichoke hearts.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 8-12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve with rice.  Top with cheese.

Recipe Source: "Taste of Home" recipe, April/May 2014, p. 30

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Field Pea Soup


On my never-ending quest to lighten the load of my pantry and freezer, I ran across a bag of dried field peas which had been around for quite some time.  I love these little guys....they have a nice "snap" and are full of nutrition.  I'd only eaten them as a side dish but thought they should make a nice soup.  Now granted, this is a soup I would generally make in the fall or winter, but it just sounded good at the moment.

Oh so right!  I ran across this recipe and not only did it use the peas, but I had some celery, carrots, and potatoes which were on their last legs.  Win/win.  I have to admit, I just about made myself sick eating this....I just couldn't put it down.  Makes a pretty good breakfast, too.

FIELD PEA SOUP

1 Tbsp bacon grease
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped (2 lg/3 medium)
2 tsp minced garlic
S&P
sprinkle of cayenne
3 Tbsp AP flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups dried field peas, soaked overnight, rinsed, and drained
1 ham hock
2 potatoes (russet/red/Yukon Gold), scrubbed and cut into cubes
touch of cream

Soak the peas in a bowl of water overnight.  Rinse well, set aside.

In a large Dutch oven on medium heat, add bacon grease to melt.  Add onion, celery, and carrots and cook until vegetables are soft.  Add the garlic, S&P, and cayenne and cook for a minute longer.  Sprinkle the flour in and stir constantly for a minute longer or until the flour is cooked, turning a blonde color. 

Slowly whisjk in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the peas and ham hock.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and turning the ham hock.

Add the potatoes and simmer for 30 minutes longer until they are tender.  You may need to cook longer (or shorter) depending on how soft you like your peas.  Just before serving, stir in the cream (about 2 Tbsp) to make it a bit richer.  Remove ham hock before serving.

Recipe Source:  adapted from www.heedthefeed.com

Monday, July 14, 2014

Greek Salad


I've been making this salad for decades and have finally tweaked it to perfection (for me, at least).  It's easily tweakable like using black or kalamata olives instead of oil-cured, iceberg lettuce instead of romaine, artichokes or not, tofu instead of feta (marinate tofu cubes in the dressing).  You can use it as a side salad or it is substantial enough to be your entree.  It's good any time of the year, but is especially nice in the summer when cukes and tomatoes are at their best and the dill is thriving in your herb garden.

I didn't list any amounts for the salad ingredients....it just depends on how many salads you want to make and how large you want them.  For a side salad, I generally use a half a head of romaine for the two of us.  For an entree salad, I would use the entire head (I buy the three hearts in a bag, which are generally a uniform size).  Also, I've listed the dressing recipe as published, but personally I would half or even quarter the amounts since there are just two of us.

To make a fantastic entree salad, top with some roasted shrimp (peel and devein shrimp, toss with EVOO and a bit of black pepper, roast at 425F for 3-6 minutes, depending on size, until pink).

GREEK SALAD

Dressing:
1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
2 tsp salt (omit if you're using feta in the salad instead of tofu)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried dill (omit if using fresh dill in the salad)

Whisk ingredients until emulsified.

Tofu:
Cut firm tofu into 3/4" cubes.  Marinate in some of the dressing for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Salad:
Romaine lettuce
Grape tomatoes, halved, or garden tomatoes chopped (if in season)
Cucumbers (pickling cucumbers highly recommended), chopped
Red onions, thinly sliced
Oil-cured olives
Green pepper, thinly sliced
Chopped fresh dill
Feta cheese, plain or tomato/basil flavored or marinated tofu
Roasted shrimp, optional

Toss salad ingredients together.  Add dressing and mix until well combined.  Top with roasted shrimp, if using.

Recipe Source:  Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler (1982), p. 28