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July 4th: Pasta Salads

summer pasta salad

JeffreyW gives us a delicious example above

I am going to a quick 4th of July party on Monday – I still have to work, and pack. I’ll probably be working the entire holiday weekend so I can take off the week after I move.

My friend and I were talking menu items and pasta salad made our list. So I thought I’d put up a few salad recipes for the holiday.

My favorite is Chipotle Macaroni Salad and can be found here.

Greek Pasta Salad adds a fresh take on the traditional pasta dish. Recipe is here.

Tangy Pasta Salad incorporates lots of fresh vegetables. For complete dinner menu, recipes and shopping list, click here.

Pasta Salad final

And finally, this one is just as it says, quick and easy, and very tasty.

Quick and Easy Macaroni Salad

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • pepper

Blend together well and refrigerate until ready to mix in.

Salad:

  • 16 oz box favorite pasta
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz shredded carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz cubed mild cheese (I used a marbled colby/jack)

Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt and pasta. Cook until al dente (firm to tooth). Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Do not drain well, allow macaroni to stay wet, remove to bowl. Immediately add garlic, spices, celery seed, and let sit for 5 minutes. As the pasta absorbs the remaining water, it absorbs all the flavors. Next stir in carrots, celery, cheese and tomatoes. Save tossing with the dressing until 5-10 minutes before serving. This keeps the pasta from absorbing all of it and becoming mushy and flavorless, but still gives it enough time to meld the flavors together.

Next up – what I decided to bring to the party….stay tuned….

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilling Up a Storm

Bixby is 2 snap

Bixby turned two on Thursday and I felt that justified a Bixby Diaries post. So for the pet lovers, you’ll find lots of new and old photos, plus video of the Beast here. For the rest of you, it’s a grilling themed recipe exchange.

First up, Grilled Chicken and Papaya, recipe here. I noticed in the stores that mangoes were plentiful, and I can’t imagine why you couldn’t substitute – I would add a dash of lime to it all with mangoes.

Speaking of mangoes and papayas, how about Grilled Fish with Mango and Papaya Salsa, recipe here.

A couple of nice sides to round things out. But don’t think you need a recipe, fresh veggies from the garden, tossed in olive oil and grilled in a grilling basket can’t be beat.

Grilled Vegetable Salad, click here, can be a meal in itself or a hearty side.

Greek Grilled Potatoes, recipe here, are a nice, tangy change from regular potato packets.

What’s on the menu this weekend? Anything special planned for Father’s Day? What’s your favorite food to take out of the kitchen and make on the grill?

Flank Pinwheel Prep Final

Tonight, I combined two favorite recipes. I love the pinwheels because they are so showy (and tasty). I thought it would be a great recipe for Father’s Day weekend. Then I ran across my spicy sauce and thought, yum, that would work. If you don’t want spicy, here is the original Pinwheel Recipe. And if you don’t want pinwheels, here is the original Spicy Grilled Flank Steak recipe. I got you covered.

Grilled Spicy Flank Steak Pinwheels

Sauce:

ING-chili-garlic-sauce-2_sql

  • 1 tbsp chili garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup orange juice

Pinwheels:

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 8 oz sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 bunch washed and dried spinach leaves
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • olive oil

ziplock bag,

You can ask the butcher to butterfly your flank steak, which  is what I did. But it’s fairly easy to butterfly. You want the grain running up and down in front of you and then you’ll slice it in half, NOT slicing all the way through. When you’re done you’ll lay it open, flat, basically making a larger, thinner steak.

Image from Serious Eats

Once you have it laid out flat in front of you with the grain running left to right, you’ll want to tenderize it, pounding it thin.

Keeping it flat, place into a ziplock bag,  add marinade and coat completely on both sides. Marinate flat in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove from marinade and assemble.

Layer the spinach over the meat. You want it to be several leaves thick, because it will reduce as it cooks.

Next layer the provolone cheese slices, two to three slices thick, over the meat.

Now it’s time to roll.  Roll tightly in the direction of the grain. Add a skewer every 2 inches and then slice between the skewers, so you have 2-inch thick pinwheels.

Heat grill and oil grates well – alternately you can cook in a cast iron skillet (heat 1/2 to 1 tbsp of oil in it) on the grill. If using a gas grill – heat one side to high for searing, turn the other side to about medium to finish cooking. For coals – place coals toward center of the grill, leaving the edges cool for finishing cooking.

Add pinwheels to the grill, flat side down. After a minute, using the skewer (you may also need a metal spatula to get all the cheesy goodness) flip over, sear additional minute.  The usual method of waiting until the meat moves easily to flip will not work with this because the cheese is sticky. So just do one minute each side, it will be fine.

After the second side is done, move steaks off of high heat to the cooler grates  and let the steak finish for about 10 to 15 minutes for medium rare. These are thin and don’t need a lot of cooking time and you don’t want the cheese to burn.

Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes, so the cheese isn’t molten lava.

My steak made 4 large pinwheels.

That’s it for this week. I don’t know how many recipe exchanges I’ll have in me while I’m packing, but stay tuned. Have a great weekend! – TaMara



 

Grilled Vegetable Salad

This works well as a side or a nice, fresh main course.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

  • 1 large red onion, quartered
  • 4 red potatoes, quartered
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tsp sage, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 8 oz bag spinach leaves or spring greens
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

serving bowl, large bowl, grilling basket or foil

Mix oil and spices, toss with onion, potatoes and carrots in a large bowl, until well coated. Place in a grilling basket or wrap in foil and grill for 20 minutes, stirring or turning frequently.  Mix together lemon & butter.  In serving bowl, add greens, grilled vegetables and toss with lemon butter

white-bowl-with-fresh-spinach-leaves



 

Grilled Chicken and Papaya

I’m thinking I’ll focus on grilling recipes this week. Start with something a bit different with some exotic flavors.  Serve over rice or couscous and add some grilled vegetables for a quick and easy dinner.

Grilled Chicken & Papaya

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 button mushrooms, washed
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 papaya, peeled, seeded & cut into 8 chunks
  • 4 large metal skewers (if you use wooden, remember to soak them first)

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add curry powder and stir for 30 seconds, remove from heat & add lemon juice, water, salt & pepper. Cut each breast into 4 to 6 cubes. Thread on skewers: (suggested) mushroom, chicken, onion, pepper, chicken, papaya, chicken, pepper, onion, chicken, papaya, mushroom. Brush curry mixture on all sides of the kabobs. Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently and basting with curry mixture.

papaya1



 

Memorial Weekend Recipes: Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze

 

DSC_2163 [1024X768]I didn’t have any photos of my ribs, but JeffreyW never fails to bring the yummy. 

Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze

  • 4 to 6 slabs baby back ribs, about 10 – 12 ribs per slab
  • Chinese five spice powder
  • salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Foil

Season the ribs liberally on both sides with spices. Place the ribs on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side. Remove the ribs from the grill and allow to cool (or if you prefer, you can broil them, 5 minutes per side).

Preheat the oven (or grill) to 325 degrees. Wrap the ribs in foil, tightly,  and then wrap in another layer of foil, place on a baking sheet or directly on grill, and bake for 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the oven and allow to cool while still wrapped.

Prior to serving, spoon the Citrus Glaze (see recipe below) over the ribs, liberally coating both sides.  Serve with remaining glaze.

4 – 6 servings

Citrus Glaze

  • 12 oz orange juice concentrate, not diluted
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 of a 7-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed in the blender or finely chopped (more or less depending on the heat you desire)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar

In saucepan combine  ingredients and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted and the sauce has reduced to half and coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes.  Careful, you’ll have to stir frequently and watch to make sure it does not boil over or burn.



 

Grilling Menu: Stuffed Jalapeno-Cheddar Burgers and Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

Stuffed Burger Uncut Snap

I make these all the time because they really are easy and a great way to have a cheeseburger without losing half the cheese to the grill. And the sweet potato cajun fries are the perfect sweet, spicy combo.  Grill some plums and dinner is done. Enjoy.

On the board tonight:

  1. Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers
  2. Kaiser Rolls
  3. Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
  4. Raw Vegetable Tray
  5. Plums

Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers

Stuffed Burger Final

Ingredients for each burger:

  • 4 oz ground beef
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (opt)
  • 1 oz sharp cheddar, sliced thin
  • 2 or more slices of pickled jalapenos

Mix salt, pepper and garlic into the ground beef. Form two, 2-oz patties. Place jalapenos on one burger, cheese on the other.

Prep2

Place the two sides together and seal the edges completely. Gently flatten the burger, but be careful because you don’t want the cheese busting out of the center.

Prep1a

The key to grilling or frying these is low and slow. Medium heat seals them and allows the cheese to melt without drying the burger out. I flipped at the 5 minute mark, but depending on the heat, 3-4 minutes may be enough to flip. They’re thin, so the beef cooks quickly, but you want to make sure the cheese melts. I would say minimum 4 minutes per side.

If cheese starts to leak out, flip and flip again as needed. DON’T press down on these burgers while you grill, you’ll have a cheesy mess.

Now the warning. Did I say WARNING? Yes I did. You’ll need to rest these burgers to let the cheese cool a bit. Otherwise you could be biting into a scalding cheese center. You’ve been WARNED.

That’s the basics, now let your imagination run wild. Maybe I should have titled this, How To Stuff A Wild Burger.

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

large bowl or baking dish and baking sheet

Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 2 or 3 lengthwise slices. In bowl, toss with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, turn and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown outside and tender inside.

Plums

If you grilled the burgers you can also grill the plums. Slice in half, remove the pits and grill over low heat

Shopping List:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar or jalapeno jack
  • sliced jalapenos (I use pickled)
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 large Kaiser rolls
  • Favorite raw vegetables
  • Vegetable dip
  • 4 to 8 plums

Also: cumin, Cajun spice, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed garlic

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Spicy, Sweet and Hot

DSC_5818 [1600x1200]

I was looking around for one of my recipes, which I’m using for tonight’s featured recipe, and in the process stumbled upon JeffreyW’s cache of wings – in all kinds of varieties (you can see most of them here). That inspired tonight’s theme – hot wings!

Before I get to that, a couple of things cooking in my kitchen this week.

Cold weather refused to go away, so I made a big batch of Beef and Barley Soup, recipe here.

This week’s dinner menu was Sweet Ginger Beef and Snow Peas, click here for menu and recipes.

Now for the wings:

JeffreyW makes mouths water with his Sesame Wings, picture above and recipe here.

His secret for crispy Oven Baked Hot Wings, pictured below, can be found here.

20160301_124225 (1600x1060)

And finally, Baked Honey Glazed Wings, if you’re not into a lot of heat. Click here.

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen (or on your patio) this weekend? I’m in need of an ultimate (and easy) waffle recipe for upcoming company. Anyone have one they want to share?

Buffalo Leg Quarters

Wings are great as snacks for a big crowd, but when you want a dinner entree, I find this recipe works great.

I love Buffalo Wings. I don’t make them much because it seems a lot of work. I can almost always find a special on leg quarters and look over there next to them…bottles of my favorite buffalo sauce. Together they make a yummy dinner.

Buffalo Chicken

  • 4 lbs of leg quarters (approximately 4 pieces)
  • flour
  • salt & pepper
  • cayenne pepper (opt)
  • oil
  • favorite Buffalo sauce (mine is from a local shop that sells bottles at my local grocery store)

skillet, baking sheet

Mix together flour and spices. I like mine spicy so I added cayenne to the flour mixture. Dredge chicken in flour mixture until well coated.

Over medium heat, heat a tbsp of oil for each quarter (I had to fry mine in two batches, so I added 2 tbsp for each batch). It doesn’t take much to crisp up the skin. Fry until golden brown, turn and brown on the other side. It can take from 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Remove to baking sheet and bake uncovered at 350 degree until the thigh temp is 175 degrees (about 30 to 40 minutes). Every 10 minutes, remove and baste with Buffalo sauce, about three times. Before removing the fully cooked chicken from the oven, give a generous coating of Buffalo sauce and let heat through. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with bleu cheese or ranch dressing, and celery sticks.

That’s it for this weekend. Next week I’ll share the menu for my very special company. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Beef and Barley Vegetable Soup

DSC_9314 (1600x1060)

JeffreyW makes mouths water with this photo of his Beef and Barley Soup (with bonus foccacia recipe here)

It has been unseasonably cold here. Today was the first day that I could actually open the windows. So soup seemed like a good idea over the weekend. Chuck roast was on sale for the amazing price of $2.99 lb. So I bought several large pieces, cut them up to dinner size and a couple pounds up for soup and stew. First up was this soup.

Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1 lb chuck, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 cups of water
  • 12 oz sliced carrots (frozen ok)
  • 12 oz green beans (frozen ok)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt (more as desired. I use salt-free canned tomatoes, so I usually add more salt)
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)

large saucepan

Heat oil in saucepan, sauté onions for 1 minute, add beef and brown on all sides, add garlic and sauté for 1 minute making sure not to burn the garlic. Add remaining ingredients** and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until barley is tender.  Serve with biscuits or cornbread.

**Alternately – I blend tomatoes, and 6 oz of the carrots, 6 oz of the green beans, 2 stalks of the celery, 1 cup water into a smooth puree, to make a hearty base for the soup. Then I add the remaining veggies as directed above. I like the hearty stock.

Yum.



 

Dinner Menu: Sweet Ginger Beef and Snow Peas

Stir-frying is great for quick dinners. I often make a double batch of rice, so that I can heat up what I need for another meal. It keeps well for about a week in the refrigerator. Don’t freeze it, the consistency changes drastically.

On the board tonight:

  1. Sweet Ginger Beef & Peas
  2. Rice**
  3. Salad w/Peanut Sauce Dressing
  4. Sliced Pineapples

Sweet Ginger Beef & Snow Peas

  • 1 lb sirloin, sliced thin*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz snow peas
  • ½ cup sweet ginger sauce

wok or skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add beef and stir fry for 3-5 minutes, push to sides, add more oil if needed and stir-fry snow peas until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Add sauce, stir in beef and peas until completely coated.  Cook 1 minute or until heated through.

*easiest to do if the beef is slightly frozen

Sweet Ginger Sauce:

If you can’t find bottled sweet ginger sauce, this works well.  In a saucepan add all ingredients and bring to a low boil stirring until thickened. 

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp cornstarch

Salad w/Peanut Sauce Dressing

  • 16 oz spring greens
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small Jicama, peeled & sliced
  • 4 oz unsalted peanuts
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 c. salad oil
  • 2 tbsp Peanut sauce
  • 4 tsp. Vinegar
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

**Try a new rice like Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio or brown rice

cropped-dsc_4715-1600x12001.jpg



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Filled Shortbread Cookies

Filled shortbread cookies

That blemish on that strawberry is going to haunt me. But the cookies were delicious. A bit of cooking going on this week. I’m also putting together my menu for my June visitors, which will probably be the topic for the next several recipe exchanges.

Tonight’s feature recipe was going to be used during that visit, but I won’t lie to you, it’s labor intensive and I decided there would be too much going on to try and attempt them. This is why I test-drive recipes. I refuse to be a tied to the kitchen when I could be having fun with my guests.

Before we get to that recipe, here is what else was cookin’ in my kitchen this week:

Rotelle No-Boil Pasta Bake – quick, easy and I love the little wheels. Click here for the recipe.

Leftover raspberries went into a nice salad: Pear-Raspberry Salad, recipe here.

Spring Roll step 1

And this week’s dinner menu was Chicken Satay and Thai Spring Rolls. Menu, recipe and shopping list are here and photo instructions for the spring rolls are here.

No Bixby this week (although his resistance video got picked up by I Love Great Danes and he’s quite popular. Insists on wearing shades when we walk now – no autographs please). But here is a little kitteh to end your week. She rules the big guy.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Have any warm weather recipes to share? Grilling, fresh greens, fun sweet treats?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Raspberry and Strawberry Filled Shortbread Cookies

I was going to make my own filling, but when I realized how labor intensive rolling out shortbread dough was going to be, I went will all-fruit style jams instead.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2-1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • fruit filling – I went with strawberry (hearts) and raspberry (circles)
  • parchment paper (not optional)

cookie cutters (sharper the better), rolling pin, baking sheets

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add salt and then flour, about a third at a time, mixing gently until all flour is incorporated.  Divide dough in half. Place one half on parchment sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment and roll to about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second section of dough. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator and cool for an hour.

Remove one of the dough parchment packets (keep the other refrigerated until ready to use). Peel off the top piece of parchment and cut out the large shapes, then for half the shapes, use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the center. Move the center pieces from the center to the parchment, so they don’t bake back together. I used the center pieces to make sandwich cookies. Place the parchment on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees (f) for about 15 to 20 minutes – remove them when they are light golden. Because they are thinner than regular shortbread, keep a good eye on them, they cook up quickly.

Repeat with the second parchment packet.

Remove cookies and let cool thoroughly before assembling. To assemble, place a spoonful of fruit filling in the center of the whole cookie and GENTLY press the cut out cookie on the top, allowing the fruit filling to spread to the edges and fill the center. (Resist the urge to lick the edges to smooth them out) Serve the centers plain or make fruit filled sandwich cookies as desired.

Makes about two dozen, depending on the size of the cookie cutters.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara



 

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