2 Salads & A Salsa

With summer in full swing you are probably heading to quite a few BBQ’s or hosting a few yourself. Today I would like to share with you two salads and a salsa recipe that are super easy & super quick to make for any BBQ you may be hosting or invited to or for those days that you just want to make something quick and easy for dinner that doesn’t involve much effort or thought. With all of these recipes I suggest making them a few hours in advance and refrigerating them so all of the flavors can marinate together.

Green Bean – Cucumber Salad

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 English cucumber, sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add green beans. Boil the green beans until they are tender – approximated 7 minutes – and then drain and rinse under cold water.

2.  In a large bowl toss the green beans along with the remaining ingredients and then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Black Bean – Corn Salad

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Ingredients:

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 cup canned corn

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

Juice of 3 limes

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Whisk together the olive oil, honey and lime juice in a measuring cup.

2.  In a large bowl add the black beans, corn, pepper, scallions and cilantro. Add the olive oil mixture to the black bean mixture and toss all the ingredients together. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the dice avocado. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup diced white onion

1 20 oz. can pineapple slices in juice*

2 tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt

*Alternatively can use 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into rings.

Directions:

1. Soak the onion in cold water for 15 minutes then drain.

2. Preheat an indoor grill pan over medium heat and lightly oil the pan (you could also grill the pineapple on a grill.) Grill the pineapple rings until marked, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and chop.

3. Combine the pineapple, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, ginger and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and season with salt then toss. Serve with tortilla chips. This salsa also tastes great over salmon and grilled chicken.

Last Minute Stuffed Peppers

Baking has always come naturally to me, cooking on the other hand is a whole other ballgame. I’m always apprehensive that I will under season or worse over season things, but lately I have become a bit more confident (or maybe I should say comfortable) with my cooking abilities. There is one thing that still frustrates me though… Figuring out what to cook, especially for dinner. As such was the case one day last week. I really was at a lost as to what to make, then while picking up some produce the light bulb in my head turned on and I thought stuffed peppers…. Hence Last Minute Stuffed Peppers. Customarily for a dish like this I would turn to a recipe, but I decided to wing it and create something on my own and a bit from memory from the last time I made them.

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I began making the filling for the peppers by sautéing sliced mushrooms in olive oil. Once they cooled I chopped them up and placed them in a large bowl.

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In the same pan I used to sauté the mushrooms I then cooked a pound of ground beef which I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and half a red onion chopped. I then added this to the bowl with the mushrooms.

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I then added in a cup and a half of cooked brown rice to the mushroom meat mixture. To cook the brown rice I opted to use the 30 Minute Cooking Method; you bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in at most 2 cups of brown rice, bring the water to a boil once again and allow the rice to cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

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And finally I added in about 1/3 cup of jarred spaghetti sauce and a 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to the rice mixture. I mixed it together well and set it aside.

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Next I prepped the peppers. I sliced the tops off the peppers and cleaned out their insides while I brought a large pot of water to boil. I boiled each of the peppers for about 4-5 minutes. I wanted the peppers to be tender but still a bit rigid so they wouldn’t tear when I stuffed them. I placed them in an 8 x 8 baking dish that I coated with about half of the sauce I had left in the jar.

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I then filled each of the peppers with the rice-beef mixture and topped them with the rest of the sauce and sprinkled each of them with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese. And for the final touch I topped each of the peppers with their respective sliced tops.

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I placed the dish in a 350 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese was melted and I was sure that the filling had enough time to heat through.

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Prior to enjoying one I sliced it in half and added some of the spaghetti sauce that was in the bottom of the dish. Oh yes, and I added some extra vegetables to this dish by serving it with fresh okra on the side.

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My Last Minute Stuffed Peppers were delish! Definitely something that I will be making again. And best of all, it gave me a small boost in my cooking confidence.

 

Last Minute Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 large bell peppers, any color

3 cups (8 oz. package) sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 80%)

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove them from the skillet and once they cool chop them up and place them in a large bowl.

3. In the same skillet, cook the ground beef along with onion and season with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Once the beef is cooked add it to the bowl with the mushrooms.

4. Add the brown rice to the bowl with the beef and mushrooms along with 1/3 cup of the spaghetti sauce and 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Mix the contents together and set aside.

5. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile prep the peppers by slicing off their tops (set them aside) and cleaning out their seeds. Once the water is boiling add the peppers and leave them in the water for about 5 minutes; until the peppers are softened but not to the point where they are going to tear when stuffed.

6. Pour about 1/2 of the remaining spaghetti sauce into an 8 x 8 baking dish and then place the peppers in it. Fill each of the peppers with the rice – beef mixture, filling each of the peppers to the top. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the peppers and top each of the peppers with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover the peppers with their reserved tops and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

You ever have something so delicious at someone else’s house that you can’t wait to make it yourself? That’s what happened to me this week. Over the weekend I had Chicken Spaghetti casserole at a friend’s house and instantly knew I had to make it myself. So, when I had some leftover chicken from dinner the other night I knew exactly what I would be using it for.

First up I got all of my ingredients prepped and together: 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup of diced green and red bell peppers, two cooked chicken thighs shredded, half an onion diced, a can of cream of mushroom soup and spaghetti (I used only half of this one pound box). I should note that my measurements versus the original recipe are different since I opted to halve my version.

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After cooking the spaghetti – I broke it into thirds prior to adding it to the boiling water- I mixed it with all of the ingredients minus 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Prior to draining the spaghetti I reserved about 2 cups of the water from which I added about a cup to the mixture so it wouldn’t be too dry.

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I then poured the mixture into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish and topped it with the remaining shredded cheese

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And finally after baking it for 30 minutes in a 350F pre-heated oven it was ready and just as delicious as the first time I had it!

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The original recipe…

Chicken Spaghetti

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

Total Time: 1 hr. 40 min

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 1 hr. 20 min

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

1 whole raw chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces

2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar

1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Two 10 3/4-ounce cans cream of mushroom soup

1 medium onion, finely diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken pieces to the boiling water and boil for a few minutes, and then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and 2 cups of the chicken cooking broth from the pot. When the chicken is cool, remove the skin and pick out the meat (a mix of dark and white) to make 2 generous cups. Discard the bones and skin.

Cook the spaghetti in the chicken cooking broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When the spaghetti is cooked, combine with the chicken, 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, the green peppers, red peppers, seasoned salt, cayenne, soup and onions, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved chicken cooking broth, adding an additional cup if needed.

Place the mixture in a 9- by 13-inch casserole pan and top with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake immediately until bubbly, about 45 minutes. (If the cheese on top starts to get too dark, cover with foil.)