7/19/2017

Antipasto Pasta Salad

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So yeah...I kind of vanished from the food blogging radar once again.  I'll spare you the details of a nasty fall that I had at the end of May. It left me pretty banged up and bruised from my knees down. And by bruised, I mean a severe bone contusion in my right knee that left me immobile for a couple weeks until I had to push through the pain and gimp around The University of Missouri on crutches for Jack's freshman orientation.  Less than two weeks later, I was hobbling around the streets of Nashville to visit Vanderbilt University for Emma.  Since then,  I've been home, resting and recovering as much as I can before I have to leave for another road trip tomorrow.  Mabelle's U13 soccer team won their Midwest Regional soccer tournament and we are off to Indianapolis to watch them compete for The National Cup⚽️🏆. Woohoo! So as you can read, it has been a painful, but proud two months of not blogging.  Ok, that was a couple of details😉.

On to the food...pasta salad.  It's the quintessential summer bowl of goodness that can be made in advance to feed a large crowd all at once or to feed a busy family in shifts because everyone is constantly coming and going.  I swear one these days I am going to have revolving doors installed in the front and back of the house! Like most pasta salad recipes, the ingredients are flexible.  For instance, the original recipe called for 8-ounces each of sopressata and hot capicola (actually they called for salami, but we prefer hot capicola), however I only use 4-ounces of each because I think that is enough cured meat flavor.  I also dial back on the sharp provolone, but then toss in some fresh mozzarella pearls because my family loves that creamy texture. I even add quartered artichoke hearts and a little oregano to bulk up the finished product and flavor.  But the one step in the recipe that is definitely a keeper and really makes it stand out is when the mushrooms are sautéed in part of the vinaigrette.  They become tender and deeply marinated in those antipasto flavors.  Having said that, "Make it for you, make it your own."  Happy cooking!

5/21/2017

Sunday Dinner

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Shrimp Cocktail

White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Mousse with Raspberries


I needed a relatively easy-one-pot-main-dish Sunday dinner tonight.  You see, I am in a huge undertaking of transforming my garage and cooking for my son's high school graduation BBQ party that is being held next Sunday!  And by cooking, I am talking about 45 pounds of Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork, several quarts of Western Carolina Sauce and Mustard Sauce,  a massive amount of Stove-Top Baked Beans, and a bucket load of Classic Creamy Coleslaw for the main event.  Then there are the appetizers-- veggies and Ranch Dressing, Pimento Cheese, Sweet Onion Cheddar Spread And I can't leave out the sweet ending of 6 dozen of my super-duper awesome cupcakes (that's a whole 'nother story that some of you may or may not know about)!  I won't mention the yard work, house cleaning, decorating and Memorial Day soccer tournament.  I just collapsed on my laptop thinking about it.  So yeah, back to the easy Sunday dinner.  

Shrimp cocktail-- cooked tail-on shrimp and jazzed up ketchup. Easy peasy, right? Well, it can be if you buy the shrimp already cooked, but I like to take it one step further and cook the shrimp in a court bouillon (a.k.a fancy word for flavored water).  Taking that little extra step really adds a depth of flavor to the shrimp and the bonus is that it can be done the night before.  The sauce can also be made a week in advance.  That's perfect for me tonight!  

Apparently there is a BBQ theme going on this time of year or me😂!

5/10/2017

Quick Beef and Barley Soup

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My son and I were huddled up in my big comfy chair the other night watching Netflix when I  turned to him and asked the daily question..."Any dinner druthers for tomorrow night?"  Usually I get a smart response like--"Food" from him 🙄.  But this time he quickly responded, "Beef and barley soup would be nice."  Me--🤔

Normally, I would serve this soup in late October when the skies are grey and the air temperature is cool and crisp.  Well, guess what...the skies have been grey and the air temperature has been cool and crisp lately; not to mention the rain.  So it was the perfect time to pull out this recipe.  It's easy and I know everyone LOVES it!

The original recipe called for chicken broth--???, this is a beef soup, so I like to use a mixture of mainly beef broth and a little chicken broth.  I also add garlic because everything is better with garlic.  I use a slurry of a bit more chicken broth and cornstarch at the end of cooking to give the soup a little body.  Then I finish the soup with Worcestershire sauce for a deeper flavor, and red wine vinegar and fresh parsley to give it a bright and fresh taste.
  
Serve it with some warm baked Brown Soda Bread, and this is a soup you will enjoy all year long.

5/07/2017

Sunday Dinner

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(I really need to retake a picture of my roast chicken)



This is one of those Sunday's that I do not have a new recipe to share.  In fact, I have shared each and everyone of the recipes on our dinner menu tonight.  The menu is a variation of one of our favorite Sunday meals; chicken, potatoes, and a green salad.  The only thing that changes seasonally is the appetizer and dessert.  Although I don't have a new recipe to share, I do have something quite beautiful to share that I captured with my camera just a little bit ago.

My next door neighbor texted me that there was a Robin's nest in the peach tree in my fruit and vegetable garden.  I called to my children, grabbed my camera and flew up the stairs to my son's bedroom window.  We spotted the nest immediately and waited for to see if Momma bird came. Moments later, the most beautiful thing happened--a momma feeding her babies ❤️. Happy Spring Sunday!



5/05/2017

Cinco de Mayo Eats

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I apologize for the last minute round-up of Cinco de Mayo fare, but I think it is safe to say that many of you might need some last minute ideas, will be celebrating through out the weekend, or need some recipe inspirations to use up the leftovers.  All those good eats can be found below!

To Start Your Day (or the next morning😉)
To Start Your Evening


A Few Snacks and Condiments








Soups and Salad





The Main Event


(I can't find the picture so, just click on the link above to see the post)







Complimentary Sides
Homemade Flour Tortillas







5/04/2017

Piña Colada Cake

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Can't get to a tropical beach for an island getaway and a glass of the popular drink made with frozen pineapple, pineapple juice, coconut, cream, and rum?  Then... MAKE THIS CAKE! I already know how good this cake tastes, but boy oh boy, is the picture making me drool as I type and it's bringing back fond memories of taking that first bite this past Sunday (cue the ocean breeze).  However, you are going to probably take one look at the recipe and say, "Nope, not happening."  It is a long recipe that requires serval parts and steps, but I guarantee that It comes together fairly easily.

The filling is a cooked combination of pureed pineapple and rum (the alcohol is cooked out) that is thickened with cornstarch.  It can be made up to a day ahead (easy prep work).  The cake itself is a simple yellow cake that is made in a rather unconventional way.  Instead of creaming the butter and sugar first, the butter, sugar, and flour are blended together before adding the wet ingredients.  The frosting is a traditional confectioners' sugar buttercream flavored with a little more coconut.  The assembled cake is garnished with toasted coconut and thin slices of pineapple (that I did dry on paper towels so they would slide around on the top of the cake and make the frosting wet).


I just have one warning before you read the recipe.  There is a copious amount of butter in the cake and the frosting!  But, you are only eating a sliver or a slice (ok maybe two).  Just try not to think about it, don't tell you guests, and wait to feel the island breeze when you take that first bite.

Now, if upon reading the recipe and you still don't want to tackle it, here are some other tasty sweets for your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta!

5/02/2017

Grilled Steak Fajita Sheet Pan Pizza

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When you're working for the day and all you have is take-out pizza on the brain for dinner, but you're kind of craving Mexican food and you still have a leftover grilled strip steak in the refrigerator that you don't want to go to waste...what do you do?  You come home on break, do a quick search on one of your favorite cooking sites and then become inspired to make Grilled Steak Fajita Sheet Pan Pizza, of course! Doesn't everyone think like that??

The original recipe technique required pulling out the grill and grilling the steak, vegetables and the pizza.  But my steak was already cooked and I have several mouths that I need to feed, so I broke out my Sheet Pan Pizza recipe and got down to business.  While the dough was rising, I made the sauce. Oh my, the sauce is so good!  It's a South of the border adaptation to my traditional pizza sauce.  Just make sure you use chipotle chili powder and not regular chili powder for a nice smokey flavor. Instead of vinegar to brighten the sauce, I used pickled jalapeño juice that comes from a jar of jalapeño nacho slices. 



While the dough was still rising, I decided to broil the peppers and onion instead of dragging out the grill for a nice charred flavor.  Then I had my daughter, Mabelle, grate a mixture of Cheddar, Chihuahua, and Monterey Jack cheese for me before she went to soccer practice ⚽️ (she's such a good helper in the kitchen).  The only thing left was to chop some cilantro, stick my head in the oven 😉 and throw it all together!  

OMG y'all--this was mind blowing! It was like, stuff-your-face good! Or like, I can't-wait-to-have-leftover-steak-to-make-this-again good.  So, if you are celebrating Cinco de Mayo this week...make this pizza!! It has all Mexican-American flavors covered.

4/30/2017

Sunday Dinner

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Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana

Pork Carnitas

Piña Colada Cake


How many of you actually celebrate the independence of Mexico from French forces on May 5th? Yeah, I don't either.  But I find it a very good reason to celebrate the Mexican-American culture through food and festivities (emphasis on the food).  Since Cinco de Mayo is only days away (how is it almost May already?!?), this Sunday dinner menu was easily inspired.

Like many recent recipes that I have shared, I have lost count how many times I have had this on a Sunday dinner menu.  So, it is time that the Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexican makes a solo debut.

If you like pico de gallo, guacamole, and sweet shrimp, you are gonna love this! The original recipe used this mixture as a topping for tostadas, but I adapted it so it is a more scoopable appetizer/dish/salsa to begin our meals or have as a light snack.  I added a bit of garlic for more flavor and also added an extra diced avocado for a nice balance of textures and because I love avocados.  The recipe can be made a few hours in advance (bonus when you are a food blogger taking pictures on a Sunday before a big meal).  Just make sure you press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture to avoid oxidation of the avocados. Bring to room temperature before serving, then grab some tortilla chips and dig in. 


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