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Tidbits

Bitsy is a fan of boxes but she deemed this one too small.It’s really too soon for B(E)LTs but I was in a hurry and they make quick lunches.  I made do with a Kroger tomato.  They can leave the vine on, connecting a half dozen tomatoes, and call them vine ripened but that doesn’t lean for a minute that they taste good.We have puppies too!  A trio of picnic side salads.  A bog standard potato salad on the left, a copy-cat slaw on the right, and a mish mash of a bean salad in the middle.  My usual recipe calls for chick peas but I was out of them and subbed in great northern and black beans.  I though it needed more color so I sent Mrs J to the freezer for corn.  She said it  was white corn but it might do, so we tossed those in as well.  It didn’t hurt it.Beans!  I made a double batch because I figure we are heading into peak container garden planting season and they would go well with the other stuff. Kittehs!  A brand new batch.A sloppy dog, now with extra slop.

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Tidbits

20160904_122601(1600x1200)We had enough chicken and sauce left over from those sour cream enchiladas for another go.  The side dish is a black bean and corn salad with onions, peppers, and diced celery in a cumin vinaigrette.IMG_20160830_122526604(1600x1200)Here’s that chihuahua mix before she got after the chicken in that bag before her.  Cute as a button!20160901_164720(1600x1200)Roast/BBQ chicken quarter with rosemary garlic potato wedges and an ear of grilled corn.  The local Kroger has been offering seasoned leg quarters off and on for a while now and pricing them decently.  I generally buy some to cook right away and extra to freeze for later.DSC03743 (1600x1200)This is Spots, we’ve put up her picture here before – she’s about 2 years old and is a sweetheart.  Mrs J reminds me that St Francis has lowered their adoption fees during “Happy Cat Month” to $25 and that includes vaccinations, chipping, and spaying/neutering.  They also test for FeLV/FIV.20160905_080654(1600x1200)That new toaster oven has slo-cook settings that work pretty much like on a dedicated crock-pot style cooker.  I have it set on low, it is showing the default time setting of 6 hours.  I had a brisket in the smoker overnight and I’m finishing it here.  It’s wrapped in foil inside the pan.IMG_20160814_132009849(1600x1200)Moar Gabe!  Here he is, studiously ignoring Bea Kitteh.  We’ve since ripped out everything in the garden except for the figs.  Still waiting for them to ripen.IMG_20160827_125640142(1600x1200) Here’s Bea again, luxuriating in catnip that Mrs J was cleaning up in the front from under the little dogwood tree.20160901_121953(1600x1200)I’ll wind this up with this sammich.  It has deli sliced ham, roast chicken, and cheddar under all that salad.  That green salad in the back is one of Kroger’s frequent forays into artisinal salads, this one is predominately kale and was pretty bad.  Baby spinach maybe would work but the kale really needed cooking.

Brats

20160423_113427(1600x1200)Brats are about as basic as you can go, store had one of their specials going so I bought several.  Potato salad, slaw, and three  four bean salad round the lunch plate off in a nice picnic style.  Not a huge fan of eating outside but the flavor was there. LOL

Friday Recipe Exchange: Cold Salads, Part Deux

Cucumber Salad FinaIt’s been over 100 degrees most of this week and when that happens, I want only two things: cold fruits and cold vegetables. Okay and maybe some ice cream, but we already did that post.  So it seemed like a good time to revisit cold salads. Coleslaw and pasta were covered here and tonight will be about cucumbers and potato salads. I should think between all of those you’ll have plenty of choices for holiday cookouts this next week. Which reminds me, there will be no recipe exchange next week.

My dad is an avid gardener and until he catches on, I often plan my summer trip home in time to coincide with tomato, cucumber, and corn harvest. I always come home with a big bag of produce. My youngest brother is following in his footsteps, so my bag of goodies overfloweth. I’m not a bad gardener myself, but my current location has not proved productive. So I’ll take advantage where I can.

The abundance of cucumbers inspires my brother and his wife to makes jars and jars of pickles, but I’m not as ambitious. Instead, I like to make a variety of cucumber salads, three of which are tonight’s featured recipes.

To start off, let’s talk potato salads. I suspect there are as many recipes as their are families. My mom makes one I still cannot duplicate, but everyone wants her to bring to family gatherings. It’s got lots of mayo, onions and mustard in it. I make do with a different take on the salad with a lighter touch with my Italian Potato Salad (recipe here).

One of my favorite posts ever was when I asked everyone to send me their favorite Potato Salad Recipes and I received quite a few, those recipes are here. Talk about variety.

Moving into the cucumber section of the garden, JeffreyW makes Cucumber Kimchi (click here), not to be missed.

My family has a favorite (and pretty traditional) Cucumber and Tomato Salad (recipe here)

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your plate (figuratively and literally) for the mid-week holiday celebration? Cook-outs? Fireworks (a must for me)? Waterpark? What do you absolutely crave when the mercury rises to new heights? Hit the comments and share your recipes.

Now the featured recipes, three quick and easy cucumber salads:

Simple Cucumber Salad (pictured above)

I grabbed what looked good at the farmer’s market, you can change up the ingredients to your faves.

  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 English cucumber, washed and sliced thin
  • 2 cucumbers, washed* and sliced thin (I did a little decorative peeling before I sliced it)
  • 1 sweet red pepper, washed, sliced thin (or substitute orange or yellow)
  • 3 tomatoes, washed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch of dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • opt: garlic, basil, rosemary – one or more of this depending on your tastes

Add sliced onion and vinegar to a bowl and marinate onion for at least 30 minutes. Prepare the rest of the vegetables and toss gently with the onion slices (reserve vinegar).  Mix together 3 tbsp (or more if desired) of the vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil and pour over vegetables. Add salt, pepper, dill and toss gently. Let rest for 5-10 minutes at room temperature and then refrigerate until ready to serve. This one is best if it’s served within an hour – the vegetables are still crisp and that enhances the fresh, light flavors of the dish.

*If it’s been waxed, you’ll probably want to peel it completely before slicing

Chipotle Lime Cucumber Salad

  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Chipolte Lime Dressing (bottle or recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

Mix together dressing and mayonnaise, add to sliced cucumber, toss and refrigerate. With this dish, the longer it has, the better the flavors blend. So at least an hour or more ahead of time. I made it for a bridal shower and actually made it the night before.

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced finely (start with one, add another as desired)
  • salt to taste

Mix ingredients together well. Goes great on salads, tacos and as a marinade, too.

Minted Cucumbers

Now for something completely different, these have a distinct Mediterranean feel.

  • 2 English cucumbers, sliced or diced, don’t peel (no wax, thin skins)
  • 2 mild red chilies, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mint, crushed (or 2 oz fresh leaves)
  • 4 oz dates or figs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 to 4 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • feta cheese as optional garnish

bowl

Mix vinegar with sugar and toss with remaining ingredients, salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with feta

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Cold Salads

Pasta Salad final

Cookout season is in full swing. And with it, cold salads, a personal favorite. There are so many varieties out there, from coleslaw, to macaroni, to cold bean salads I thought it would be a good place to start the summer cookout season.

The featured recipe tonight is from a neighborhood cookout we had last week. I was very busy, so I had to throw together something quick. I went with a basic macaroni salad, but with a few tricks to keep it fresh and flavorful, instead of soggy and bland as some can be.

Before that, here are a few other cold salads:

JeffreyW has a traditional coleslaw recipe (and slideshow) here.

I’ve made a Caribbean Orange-Mango Coleslaw for several summer cookouts. Recipe here.

I adapted a Giada De Laurentiis, recipe for Italian Lentil Salad here.

And here are several pasta salads: Chipolte Macaroni and Cheese Salad with Bacon (here), Greek Pasta Salad (here), and my favorite quick dinner, Pasta Caprese (here).

That’s just a start. I’ll probably follow-up in a while with some veggie cold salads. But until then, what’s on your summer plate this weekend? What are some of your favorite cold salads? What’s your go-to dish when you’re invited to a cookout? Hit the comments and share your ideas.

And finally, the featured recipe (pictured above).

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.

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Mmm…Salad Again

We lunched on leftovers, warmed up the refried beans and chorizo and had burritos again.  A few nacho chips and the guacamole was wiped out.  Mrs J spent the morning at the shelter and then came home and dragged poor Jack off to the vet after lunch.  He’s been gimping around as bad as I have been.  They’ll run some more xrays and start him on some serious antibiotics in case the problem is the Rocky Mountain fever flaring up in his ankle.  I go in next week for a procedure on my knee that I’m hoping will allow me to walk again without looking like Chester on the old Gunsmoke.

Where’s this salad I was talking about?  Well, it’s gone now, but I have some pictures:

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