A Bean Salad, A Potato Salad and A Watermelon Salsa

Summer is in full swing! The weather has been quite spectacular thus far. Days have been in the low 80’s and there hasn’t been that many ridiculously oppressive weather days. You know the ones I am talking about… the ones with the three dreaded H’s – Hazy, Hot & Humid. Fingers crossed it continues like this and August doesn’t rear its ugly head with horrific weather. Nonetheless, pleasant weather or not, it is the summer and one thing is for sure, heavy meals are just not what you want to eat. I know I personally don’t like to eat anything too heavy during the summer months. So today, I am brining you two salads and a salsa that I recently made for my 4th of July BBQ that got rave reviews.

Up first a Greek Chickpea Salad. The most time consuming part of this salad was chopping Persian cucumbers and halving cherry tomatoes. Hence, it was a cinch. What was really nice about this salad is that the leftovers kept well for a few days. There are some salads that just turn into a soggy or sour mess, but, not this once. That could be because the vinaigrette is freshly made as opposed to using something from a bottle.

Next, a Cucumber Potato Salad. It might sound like an odd combination and what might sound even more odd is that soy sauce is added to the mayonnaise, but, thanks to the addition of freshly squeezed lemon & lime juice that soy flavor is really toned down and the two veggies together really complement each other. The red potatoes have a nice creamy texture to them and the cucumbers give the salad a nice crunch.

And finally… A Watermelon Salsa. Yes, a watermelon salsa. My friends more or less had a bewildered or apprehensive look on their face when I told them what the salsa was made of, but, once they tried it their eyes widened in delight. It was supposed to have mango, but, since I didn’t have any on hand I opted to add in an extra cup of diced watermelon. Also, I made this salsa the day before to make sure all of the flavors – cilantro, red onion, basil, lime, etc. – really blended together and then on the day of, before serving it, I transferred it to another bowl and drained some of the juices out of it so it wouldn’t be a watery mess.

So, what salads have you been enjoying or wanting to try this summer?

 

Greek Chickpea Salad

Basic Vinaigrette:

1/4 red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk the vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot, oregano. 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of the pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing is emulsified and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use and any leftovers.

Salad:

2 15 oz. cans of Chickpeas – drained and rinsed

2 cups Persian cucumber, chopped

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped basil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with 2/3 cup of the basic vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and refrigerate until serving.

 

Cucumber Potato Salad

Ingredients:

2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. lemon zest plus 1 tbsp. fresh juice

1/2 tsp. lime zest plus 1 tbsp. fresh juice

1/2 cup chopped chives

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1/3 English cucumber, sliced into half moons

1 tbsp. finely diced scallions

black pepper

Directions:

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with about 1 inch of water, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain and spread the potatoes on a baking sheet and allow them to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl mix together the mayonnaise, soy sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, lime zest and lime juice, stir together. Add black pepper and the remaining salt. Add the cool potatoes along with the chives, celery, cucumber and shallots. Stir gently and refrigerate until serving, at least 20 minutes.

Recipe from Dale Talde

 

Watermelon Salsa

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp. lime zest (about 1 lime)

1/4 fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)

1 tablespoon sugar

Freshly ground pepper

3 cups seeded and finely diced watermelon*

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 mango, peeled and diced*

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minces

1 small red onion, finely chopped

8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Tortilla chips for serving

*Instead of using a mango I used 4 cups of watermelon

Directions:

Stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Add the watermelon, cucumber, mango, jalapeno, onion and basil and toss gently. Chill the salsa until ready to serve. If you find the salsa is too watery before serving, drain some of the juices out. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe from Trisha Yearwood

 

Cherry Pie

Happy First Day of Summer! You may recall back in March I posted a Blueberry Pie in honor of Pi Day and that it was the first time I ever had Blueberry Pie, well, another confession. I’ve never had Cherry Pie. So, what better way to celebrate the start of the summer and cherry season than with a Cherry Pie!

First things first… Since I was using fresh cherries I had to pit them. I don’t own a cherry pitter so I pitted the cherries by using a reusable plastic straw. I literally just pushed the straw through the cherry to remove the pit. Check out this link for a few more ideas on how to pit cherries without a cherry pitter.

You may recall I’m not a fan of making pie crust from scratch – one of these days I will attempt to make it again – so I used my usual Pillsbury Pie crust. I rolled out one of the crusts an extra inch or two and then placed it in the bottom of my pie dish.

To prep the filling, I mixed flour, sugar and cinnamon in a Ziploc bag and then added in the cherries and tossed them around in the mixture to make sure they were completely covered.

I then poured the mixture, along with the excess flour mixture, into the pie plate.

Next, I used the second pie crust to top the pie and brushed it with milk and sprinkled sugar on it.

I then baked it in a 425 F preheated oven for 25 minutes and then lowered the oven temperature to 350 F and baked it for an additional 30 minutes. Until the filling was bubbling.

While my crust did come out a little wonky looking, it didn’t take away from how delicious the pie was. There’s something to be said about using fresh fruit… YUM!

 

Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

4 cups sweet cherries, pitted

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pastry for double-crust 9-inch pie

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F

Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish with one of the pie crusts

In a Ziploc bag combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the cherries and toss to coat. Add to the pie crust lined-dish

Place the second crust on top and trim the ends. Cut vent slits in the middle of the pie and crimp the edges.

Bake for 25 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. If the edges of the pie begin to brown too quickly, tent the pie.

Recipe from Food.com

Garlicky Baked Shrimp

This is my kind of recipe… Quick, simple and foolproof. I’ve made it 3 times and each time it was perfect. What is it… Garlicky Baked Shrimp. I usually serve it with rice, but, I think it would be perfect tossed with some pasta.

A few things to note… Don’t bake for more than 7 minutes or you will overcook the shrimp and you definitely don’t want rubbery shrimp. You can broil for an extra minute or so, but, once you see the bread crumbs are a nice toasty color you’re good to go – you don’t want garlic shrimp with a burnt topping. And finally, if you like your shrimp extra garlicky, through in an extra clove of garlic or two.

Garlicky Baked Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined*

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons white wine**

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons melted butter***

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1-2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh Italian-leaf parsley, chopped

*I buy my shrimp frozen, uncooked, peeled and de-veined. I let it sit out for a few hours to defrost and then proceed with the recipe.

**I used Chardonnay

***I used unsalted. If you choose to use salted keep that in mind when seasoning the shrimp with salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In a medium bowl combine the shrimp, garlic and white wine and toss to combine. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a 9 x 13 – inch baking dish and spread it out in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper.

Rinse out the bowl and then add the melted butter and bread crumbs. Use a fork to stir everything together. With your finger, sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the shrimp.

Bake for about 7 minutes, until the shrimp is just turning pink. Switch the oven to broiler setting (high if you have that option) and broil for 2-3 minutes. Until the shrimp are completely pink and cooked through and the bread crumbs are beginning to turn golden.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the lemon juice over the shrimp and then sprinkle the parsley.

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven Blog

 

 

 

Southwestern Chicken Egg Rolls

You may recall a while back I made Chicken Egg Rolls that were super simple and quite delicious. Well, the wrappers I used came with a few more recipes and I finally got around to trying one of them out… A Southwestern Chicken Egg Roll.

I began my mixing together chicken, cilantro, salsa, jack cheese and fresh lime juice in a bowl and chilled it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Instead of cooking chicken I opted to pick up a rotisserie chicken from Costco… they are cheap enough and then I have leftovers to make other things or for lunch.  I should note that the original recipe also called for a slice of avocado in each egg roll and while I had every intention of adding it, my avocado never ripened properly. On a side note, have you noticed that the price of avocados is rising and they don’t taste as good? I guess once something goes mainstream prices must rise. There is that whole rage of avocado toast now, can I just say that I have been eating avocado on bread  – as I always have referred to it as – for years, way before it was cool… LOL!

Next, I filled the wrappers and folded them to create the egg rolls.

 

I ended up with 12 egg rolls…

And then fried them for 2 minutes…

Then transferred them to a baking sheet….

To then bake them in a 425 F oven for about 4 minutes – until they were crispy and the filling was hot.

There’s no need for a dipping sauce for these egg rolls as the salsa added to the chicken mixture kept the filling moist and quite honestly I didn’t miss the avocado! I can’t wait to make these again!

Southwestern Chicken Egg Rolls

  • Servings: 12 Egg Rolls
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chicken meat, cooked and shredded

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

3/4 cup salsa

1/4 cheddar jack cheese, shredded

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

12 egg roll wrappers

oil for frying

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix chicken, cilantro, salsa, cheese and lime juice together in a bowl and set aside in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes.

With a wrapper in front you in a diamond shape moisten all 4 edges of the wrapper. Place 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture just below the center and fold up the bottom corner, then fold in the sides and finally roll the egg roll and seal the top corner.

Fry for 2 minutes in 350 F oil and then place on a baking sheet. Once all the egg rolls have been fried place the baking sheet in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the egg rolls are crispy and the filling is hot.

Recipe adapted from JSL Foods

Slow Cooker Sunday: Creamy Corn Casserole

As the days start to get warmer I am trying to find things to make in my slow cooker that aren’t too heavy. This Corn Casserole fits the bill and it’s perfect for warmer days when fresh corn starts flooding your supermarket and you don’t want to turn on your oven.

I started off by mixing all the ingredients together in a large bowl. I started off my creaming sugar and cream cheese together. Then adding in two eggs. Next, I stirred in the dry in the dry ingredients – flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. And then some more wet ingredients – melted butter, mill and heavy cream. And finally, I stirred in a chopped jalapeno, cheddar cheese and corn. I used frozen corn, so, in order to thaw it out I left it in a bowl on my counter for a few hours stirring it occasionally.

 

I then poured the mixture into the insert of my slow cooker that I generously sprayed with cooking spray. I covered it and set it took to cook on low for about 4 hours. I knew it was ready once it was set in the middle and the delicious aroma started filling my house.

 

 

Now, I made the big mistake of trying to remove the casserole from my slow cooker while it was still warm, so, it broke apart. I “saved” it by just scooping it into a glass dish. Trust me it didn’t alter the delicious flavor one bit. To avoid my mishap, I suggest you remove the insert from the slow cooker once the casserole is done and let it cool a bit.

 

Slow Cooker Creamy Corn Casserole

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, salted

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

4 cups corn, fresh or frozen and thawed

Directions: 

Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the dry ingredients – flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, mixing the ingredients together well. Add in the melted butter, milk and heavy cream. Once everything is well combined, stir in the jalapeno, cheddar cheese and the corn.

Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and cook on low for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Until the center is set and the top is puffy.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Cupcake Bouquet Tutorial

I came across Cupcake Bouquets while doing some research on Pinterest for something else. Once I saw it though I knew I wanted to try making one myself.

To begin, I gathered my supplies: a 6-inch pot, a 6-inch Styrofoam ball, 9oz. paper cups, toothpicks, and glass weights or rocks. You will also need a hot glue gun. A couple of things to point out… Make sure that the size of your pot and ball are the same size, or close to it, so that ball can fit snug inside of the pot.

Since I had a piece of circular Styrofoam I decided to cut it down to fit inside the bottom of the pot…

So, just in case any of my glass weights escaped from the newspaper I wrapped them in they wouldn’t fall through the hole in the bottom of the pot. The reason for the weights in the pot is to prevent it from tipping over if all the cupcakes are removed from one side.

Next, I lined the inside of the top of the pot with hot glue and placed the Styrofoam ball inside and let it dry for a few minutes before hot gluing paper cups – that I cut to an inch tall – to the ball. Make sure you place the cups just above the rim of your pot, you don’t want too much space. You could attempt to just stick the cupcakes on to the ball using toothpicks, but, using the cups will give the cupcakes more support and less chance of them falling off.

 

I continued gluing the cups around the ball, placing them fairly close together. I ended up with 9 cups in my first round.

For the second round, I placed the cups in between two cups from the first round, ending up with a total of 6 cups. And then, one final cup on top of the ball. Don’t worry about the spaces as they will be filled later with cupcake liners.

 

And finally I placed toothpicks inside of each of the cups. Three toothpicks forming a triangle in the first round, and two toothpicks in the cups on the second round and the one on top. Leave about half of the toothpick out. Be careful as you might stick yourself with a toothpick here and there and it can be quite painful.

A quick recap… A 6-inch Styrofoam ball in a 6-inch pot will yield a 16-Flower Cupcake Bouquet.

Next, bake your favorite cupcakes – I decided on Chocolate & Yellow cupcakes. Once they cooled I stuck one into each of the cups on the ball.

  

Now it’s time to fill the spaces between the cupcakes. Using green cupcake liners, I gathered them and began placing them in the empty spaces, using toothpicks to anchor them to the ball.

 

Next, the fun part – decorating the cupcakes. Since you will be piping flowers, make sure your frosting is firm enough to be piped. Your best bet is to make your own. My favorite frosting to use for piping and decorating is this Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. It’s the perfect consistency and tastes delicious. I used a Wilton 1M tip to creates the roses and a 2D tip to create the hydrangeas. Before you start piping the flowers on to the cupcakes just give them a little nudge to make sure they are all the way into the cups secured by the toothpicks.

 

And finally… You have your Cupcake Bouquet. This is a nice gift for a birthday, a cute idea for a baby shower, or a nice alternative to flowers, etc.

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Indian Butter Chicken

Happy Sunday! I came across this recipe on Food Network’s Instagram feed and knew I had to try it.

I began by crumbling a 1/2 piece of naan into the bottom of my slow cooker. On top of that I added in thinly sliced red onion, quartered red potatoes, a sliced jalapeno and chopped cilantro stems.

On top of that I arranged chicken thighs in a single layer and then sprinkled them garam masala, kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. I also placed a cinnamon stick and dotted the chicken the butter.

And finally I poured tomato sauce over everything.

I set it to cook on low for 7 hours and then switched the slow cooker to the warm setting and gently stirred in heavy cream and let it stand for 10 minutes.

And finally I stirred in chopped cilantro leaves…

And then served myself some over basmati rice and a piece of naan… YUM!

 

Slow-Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Ingredients:

3 pieces naan bread

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size

1 Fresno or jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced

1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated and chopped

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 6)

1 tablespoon garam masala

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cinnamon stick

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Crumble 1/2 piece naan into the bottom of a slow cooker insert. On top of that add the onion, potatoes, pepper and cilantro stems.

Arrange the chicken on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the garam masala, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Dot the chicken with the butter and add the cinnamon stick and then pour the tomato sauce over the top. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

Uncover and switch to the warm setting and pour in the heavy cream. Gently stir in the heavy cream and break the chicken into large chunks. Let it stand for 10 minutes and then stir in the cilantro leaves and season with salt if necessary.

Serve with the remaining naan and basmati rice.

Recipe from Food Network