Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

 

Pasta Salad

1 pound box spiral pasta, cooked al dente (one minute less than the shortest time listed on box)

small bunch broccoli crowns, cut up and put in with pasta for the last one minute of cooking time

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 small can sliced black olives, drained

1/2 cup or more slivered almonds

1/2 pound cheddar cheese, cubed

1 bottle favorite Ceasar or Italian dressing (I use Girard’s Ceasar)

Once the pasta/broccoli, drain and allow to cool a few minutes.  Add the red and green bell pepper and black olives and a bit of the bottled dressing, and allow to cool further before adding the cheese and almonds and rest of the bottle of dressing (the pasta will absorb a lot of the dressing, so yes, use it all).   Refrigerate before serving.

Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler

 
I adapted this recipe from a new favorite cookbook, The Back in the Day Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.  It’s a wonderful book full of old fashioned recipes based on their customers’ favorites from their Southern bakery in Savannah, Georgia.  It’s also packed with their baking know-how tips and gorgeous photos.  I’m currently reading it cover to cover and enjoying every page.
I’ve made many a chicken pot pie in my day and while this recipe goes by a different name, that’s what I still consider it.  It doesn’t have a bottom crust, and I’m ok with that.  It still has chicken and vegetables and gravy.  Where this recipe differs is that every single person at our dinner table loved it.  That just doesn’t happen often at our house, folks.  I will be making it often.
 Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler
                                                                                   
 
                                                                    Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler
 
Filling:
1 ½ sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely diced yellow or brown onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 celery ribs, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground sage
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
 
The Topping:
Buttermilk Bicones (recipe below)
 
 
Preheat oven to 450 ͦ Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray (I like butter flavor for this).
      Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over medium heat; add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender (about 5-8 minutes).  Add the carrots, celery, salt and pepper and sauté 2-3 minutes more before adding the chicken broth.  Bring all to a simmer and lower heat to med-low, partially cover pot and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      Stir in the cream, raise the heat again to medium, and cook, uncovered, until all vegetables are tender, about another 12-15 minutes.
      Meanwhile, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and stir the flour into it to make a smooth paste.   
    When the vegetables are tender, lower the heat and whisk the flour paste a little bit at a time into the broth until combined.  Add the roasted chicken, peas, corn, thyme, sage and cayenne.  Cover the pot and let the filling simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
    Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Arrange the unbaked biscones over the filling, leaving about ¼ inch between them.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
 
 
Buttermilk Biscones   
 
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 sticks cold butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 ½ cups buttermilk (more or less, as needed)
 
Preheat oven to 375 ͦ.   Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
     In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom and whisk until completely incorporated.  Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, or do this in a food processor using quick pulses. You should end up with various-sized pieces of butter, from sandy patches, to pea-sized and larger ones as well.  Gradually pour in the buttermilk and fold the ingredients until you have a soft dough and there are no bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl.  If this happens before you’ve used all of the buttermilk, don’t use the entire 1 ½ cups or it’ll end up to sticky.  If you’ve used it all up but it’s still too dry, use a little more buttermilk.
     Gently pat the dough in the bowl until it resembles a loaf of bread.  Dust the top of it lightly with flour.  Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are 1 inch apart.  Lightly tap the tops down. 
     Brush lightly with extra buttermilk before baking.
 

Kool Aid Play Dough

Kool-Aid Play Dough

My grandmother made this recipe for my daughters often when they would sleep over at her house.  She’d make it for them and then they’d sit for hours at her kitchen counter, with rolling pins and all of her cookie cutters at their disposal, happily chatting away to her as they rolled this out over and over, cutting out their favorite shapes.  This recipe not only smells great, but has the added advantage of being completely non-toxic, in case your little one decides to take a taste (as little ones are known to do!).  I’ve pulled it out now because one of my girls, working her way through college as a nanny, asked me for it so she can make it for the kids she watches a few days every week. This is one recipe that simply builds its own memories.  

 

                                                                    Kool-aid® Playdough

 

3 cups flour

½ cup salt

2 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid

2 cups boiling water

3 Tbls vegetable oil

 

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.   Carefully add the hot water and stir with a large  spoon until all is moistened.  Knead the oil in to the mix as soon as it’s cool enough to handle. Continue to knead until the dough is completely smooth.  Store in zip-loc bags or Tupperware.  

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
 
This is a wonderful, basic, go-to dressing to whip up and use on any salad…. so much better than any store-bought dressing out there!  Very classic in taste, yet so easy to make.  Once you start making your own salad dressing you’ll wonder why you ever bought bottled to begin with!
                                                    
                                                              Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
 
1/3 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chives, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
 
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or cruet  and mix or shake well.  Drizzle over salad and toss lightly.

Cherry Pecan Bread

I love quick breads, and this is one of my favorites.  I made it over the holidays and took it to work for a pot-luck we had on Christmas Eve.  It went over as well there as it does with my family and friends.   Maybe because of the pretty red color, but I do tend to make this mostly over the holiday season…something I just may change this year! 
Cherry Pecan Bread

Cherry Pecan Bread

                                                Cherry Pecan Bread
 
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter, room temp
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 8-10 oz jar maraschino cherries, drained and diced
 
Preheat oven to 350 ͦ
In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffly.  Slowly add some of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, alternating between the two until each is incorporated well.  Fold the pecans and cherries into the batter and turn the batter into a buttered or sprayed 9inch bread loaf pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a baking rack to cool completely.
 
*No buttermilk on hand?  Measure just under one cup of milk and add 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar; mix until the milk looks “curdled.”  It’s a perfect substitute for buttermilk!

Japanese Mushroom Soup

Happy New Year! Working in retail, the holiday season was a busy one for me so I haven’t been blogging much but I hope to do more of it now!  And I was cooking this soup up today so I figured what better time to start.
One of my girls loves the Japanese steakhouse near us… in fact we’ve gone there every year for her birthday as long as I can remember.  We all love the near-clear soup they serve, with just a few mushrooms and onion bits floating in it and when I found this recipe I knew I had to try it.  I tweaked it a bit and, while it’s not exactly like the local  restaurant’s, it’s pretty darn good as is.  
Japanese Mushroom Soup
 
 
 
 
                                                               Japanese Mushroom Soup
 
1 celery stalk
1 small onion
2 carrots
Canned French fried onions
1 small piece fresh ginger (about 1 inch long)
3 garlic cloves
2 large beef bouillon cubes
2 large chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
8 cups water
 
 
Cut the celery, onion and carrots in fourths and add to the water in a large stock pot.  Cut the ginger and garlic into a few pieces each and toss into the water, along with the bouillon cubes.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for a least an hour.  Strain the vegetables, discarding them and leaving just the broth.  Add the sliced mushrooms and simmer a few minutes more.  Serve with a few French fried onions sprinkled on top. 

Spicy Deviled Eggs

Spicy Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs, and I have to give credit to my friend and coworker, Deena, who came up with this recipe to serve at an event we did for work.  She’s a wonderful chef and has had a private catering business for many years, and she’s so much fun to work with because some days all we do is talk food!  I figured with the holiday season upon us I’d post this recipe as it’s really different from any other deviled egg recipe I’ve ever had. 
 
                                                        Spicy Deviled Eggs
 
12 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and chilled
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. drained capers
1 T. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, minced
½ t. red chili???? Oil
1 T. fresh parsley, minced
A thick balsamic vinegar or reduction for drizzle
 
 
Cut eggs in half lengthwise.  Place yolks into a bowl and mash with a fork.  Mix in mayonnaise, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and chili oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in parsley.
  Pipe or spoon egg mixture into egg halves, mounding slightly.  Drizzle with a thick balsamic vinegar and serve.
 
Makes 24.

Super Sugar Cookies

Halloween Sugar Cookies

 
Super Sugar Cookies
 
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Icing from recipe below
colored sugar, sprinkles or gel to color icing
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
 
In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt and stir together.
In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until well blended.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well mixed.  Lower speed, and scraping down the sides, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.  Do not overmix.
Gather the dough into a ball, then flatten slightly and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. 
When chilled through, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to a 1/2-inch thickness.  Cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching carefully from the 12 minute mark so as not to brown.  Immediately transfer the cookies from the baking sheet to a cooling rack to cool.  Cool completely before decorating with the icing.
 
Cookie Icing
 
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
 
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth.  Divide into smaller bowls to color different colors with liquid or gel food colorings.  Sprinkle with colored sugar or candies while still wet.  Allow to set before serving. 

Crostini, plain and simple

Crostini, plain and simple Crostini, plain and simple
 
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Pizza Fondue

pizza fondue 001

 
This make a great appetizer for sure, but I’ve long served it as a quick dinner for my girls.  I’ve paired it in the picture with crostini but it’s also great with garlic bread as a dipping tool!  The recipe calls for mozzarella cheese and one thing I want to point out is that mozzarella can be a salty cheese, so choose wisely, or at least know how it tastes before you put it into this recipe.  If you make it and it turns out too salty, try adding a little more cheddar.  Other add-ins could be those that you’d put on to a pizza, such as sliced olives, diced pepperoni, green peppers etc., so whether you try this for dinner or a game-day appetizer table, you can make it your own.
 
                                                                         Pizza Fondue
 
1 pound ground beef
1 Tablespoon oregano
24oz jar marinara sauce
16oz grated cheddar
10oz grated mozzarella cheese
 
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until well done.  Add the marinara sauce and oregano and mix well.  Stir in both cheeses and stir until the cheeses melt.  Keep warm in a chafing dish if serving as an appetizer.  Serve with crostini or thin slices of garlic bread.

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