Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fourth Of July Beans

My husband got this recipe several years ago from a co-worker of his who had brought this dish to their weekly potluck. Guys swapping recipes? (It happens)

Anyway, I never did meet the woman behind the dish, and so never got the chance to ask her about the name. I just figured she probably made this every year on the 4TH and wanted to keep it simple.

This is another one of those dishes that I can bring to any potluck or neighborhood BBQ and there's never a drop left in the pot. Sweet, savory, and incredibly delicious! Enjoy!
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

All the goodness of a loaded baked potato mixed together in salad form. I love this dish! I make it every few months and my family "oohs" and "ahhs" over it every time. I like to mix it all together while the potatoes are still  fairly warm and serve it right away. Also excellent when served chilled. It's really up to your preference. The perfect partner for your grilled steak or chicken. Enjoy!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Fiesta Dip

My daughters and I make it a point to have lunch together every Monday. It's something we started doing a few years ago when Erica, our oldest, moved out. (Super sniffles on that one!) We go out, we stay in, pretty much whatever we're in the mood for, or if one of us has a specific dish we've been craving. Today was an "in" day and the craving was my Fiesta Dip. Chip and dip for lunch? Why not! Enjoy!

2 to 4 ripe avocados, made into Guacamole
1 16 oz can refried beans
1 2.5 oz can diced green chiles
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or blend of jack and cheddar
4 green onion stalks, sliced on the round
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 2.5 oz can sliced black olives, drained

Prepare your guacamole as desired and set in fridge to keep chilled. In a small bowl, mix your refried beans and can of green chiles, set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix your sour cream with cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. Have all of your chopped veggies and cheese ready and assemble on a dish in this order:
refried bean mixture, sour cream mixture, guacamole, shredded cheese, olives, tomatoes, and green onion. Top with additional cheese if you like. Let chill for about an hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

LESLIE'S NOTES: To really kick it up a few notches I have recently been making this with homemade refried beans. It's not as difficult as you might be thinking! I simply freeze a few cups of them and thaw them out when I need. The flavor difference is amazing!

Blogs I have shared my dish with: Ladybug BlessingsVintage Wanna BeeClaiming Our SpaceJAQS StudioThe Sasse LifeG'Day SaturdayCrumbs And Chaos

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Spaghetti

Lightly roasted Summer veggies, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with copious amounts of  fresh Parmesan, and tossed in spaghetti. Quite possibly one of the easiest pasta dishes you'll ever make! Enjoy!

1/2 Lb uncooked spaghetti
2 large zucchinis
2 large summer squash
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
Italian herbs such as basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley (fresh or dried) to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare spaghetti according to package directions, rinse and set aside; reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Slice your zucchinis and squash in half lengthwise and then quarter them. Place in a large mixing bowl with tomatoes. Toss with about 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper, and kosher salt. I roast my veggies by placing the zucchinis and squash, fleshy side down, on the griddle insert of my stove top. Or you can roast them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees. Let them cook for about 5 minutes or until they start to brown. Then flip them over and let the skin side cook for a few more minutes. I cook my tomatoes along side of them just until the skins start to tear; about 3 to 5 minutes. Tomatoes will be ready before other veggies; remove them with tongs and set them aside in a small dish. Place roasted zucchini and squash  on a cutting board; roughly chop them into pieces.

Heat the other 1/4 cup of olive oil in a wok or non-stick skillet. Add minced garlic and cook just until fragrant, about a minute or two. Add spaghetti and 1/2 cup of pasta water. (I use my tongs to combine the garlic with the noodles.) Add all of the roasted veggies tossing to combine. Season with Italian herbs of choice, mixing well. Sprinkle generously with freshly grated Parm. Toss once again with tongs to combine. Serve immediately.

LESLIE'S NOTES: This is one of those dishes I have been making for years. It is not an exact dish. By this I mean: Feel free to use less olive oil if you like. You want MORE Parmesan? Go for it! If I have fresh herbs I tend to go with those first. If not, dried herbs are fine. The veggies are also nice when cooked on your outside grill.

Being that it's a simple dish, I always use the highest quality ingredients I can find. Good olive oil is a must! I always and only use California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin. I also like to grate my own Parm by chopping the block in to cubes and placing it in my food processor. You'll never buy the stuff in the green can again!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lemonade Layer Cake

I have said it before, I don't have a sweet tooth. I have a meat tooth. But lately I have been all about cake. Maybe it's because I recently got a brand new cake stand and am always wanting something pretty to sit on it. (I don't know.) Whatever the reason, my kids have been loving this new side of me! A new cake every few days. "Mom is awesome!" (At least I think I heard them say that...)

Lemonade Layer Cake is currently being touted as "The Best Cake On Pinterest." I can tell you that it's the best lemon cake I have ever had or made. Tart and delicious! And seeing as how we have a lemon tree in our backyard that is FULL of fruit right now, this cake was a no-brainer for me. Simple enough to make on a weekday but definitely worthy of company! This dish is a keeper! Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Asian Marinated Chicken

I made this dish over the weekend and served my Cucumber Salad as a side. Let me just tell you that it was a HUGE hit! I always seem to have an abundance of chicken on hand, and so I am always looking for new ways to serve it up. I do suggest that you stick to the instructions of marinating for 24 hours. I prepared one tray of it a day in advance and then another tray the day I was going to cook it. The dish that marinated for the full 24 hours was literally TWICE as flavorful. (Live and learn) I also added a dash of garlic chili sauce for some kick. So good! Enjoy!

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tbs peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger, from 1 ( 3 - 4 ") piece
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic chili sauce *optional
3 Lbs bone-in, skin-on,chicken thighs, drumsticks, and breasts, combination of all three

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together and pour into a 9X13 broiler proof baking dish. Lay chicken pieces in a single layer on top of marinade and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning chicken at least once during that time. Remove chicken from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Place oven rack in the middle and heat oven to 475 degrees. Turn all chicken pieces skin side up in the dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is starting to turn dark brown in color. Set the oven to broil and roast until the skin is nice and crisped, about 3 minutes. Serve with sauce on the side.

Recipe adapted from: Chow 
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Cucumber Salad

Light and refreshing! Perfect for Summer! My family LOVED this salad! The dressing really makes it pop!

Ingredients For Salad:
4 to 6 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 white or red onion, thinly sliced
1 to 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
1 Tbs salt (don't worry, you're going to rinse it all off)

Ingredients For Dressing:
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (like McCormick perfect pinch)
1/2 tsp salt
2 dashes of cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, toss your sliced cucumbers with 1 Tbs salt. (This draws all the water out of the cucumbers so they stay nice and crisp in the salad.) Set bowl of cucumbers in fridge for about half an hour to keep them chilled while they sweat out their water. Meanwhile, place all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.  Over your sink, place cucumbers in a large strainer and rinse with cold water to remove the salt. Drain well and add to a large salad bowl along with your sliced onions. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Gently fold in the tomato wedges. Cover and chill for about an hour before serving.

Recipe adapted from: Kelsie's Kitchen (Seasoned With Love)
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Cheesy Beefy Mac (Skillet Casserole)

I wish I had some really cool name to give this dish. Honestly, for the last twenty years my kid's have just called it "casserole." I really never needed a name for it until I started this blog. I thought of calling it something like "wacky casserole" or "crazy mac."  Because the ingredients are KINDA wacky and crazy. But you know what, they work! So I gave it a somewhat dignified name. Cheesy Beefy Mac sounds dignified, right?

This is one of the very first dishes I ever put together. And out of the respect I have for my humble beginnings, I have never changed the list of ingredients or my method. It's incredibly basic; my homemade version of Hamburger Helper, if you will. I just have to smile every time I make it. Because, of all the culinary adventures and endeavors I have had over the years, this dish, this one right here, my kid's request the most.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Carnitas (Braised Pork Tacos)

Our youngest son is by far our pickiest eater. He thumbs his nose at just about everything I make. I know! Go figure, right? I try not to give him too much grief for this though. I remember myself at his age. And have telephoned my mother on more than one occasion to apologize for my behavior. (Ah...teenagers!)  In the midst of all his angst and all his, "That's for dinner? Never mind, I'll have peanut butter and jelly," he has admitted to me that he does like it when I make tacos. More specifically, my Carnitas. Score!

I don't really have a solid recipe for these. (I'm always adding something) I pretty much buy pork shoulder or butt and braise it in my slow cooker with a bottle of light beer and some seasonings. It seems like there should be so much more to this dish, but it sort of cooks itself. If you're wondering what ingredient to use in place of the beer, I really don't have one. That specific flavor mixed with the jalapeno and the cilantro, really make it what it is...GOOD!

I like to keep it simple by garnishing these with some thinly sliced cabbage, Mexican cheese, and some freshly chopped cilantro. A dash or two of  Jalapeno Tobasco is also really nice on these. Enjoy!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Southwest Quinoa Salad

How beautiful does this dish look! I almost hated to eat it! (ALMOST) My very good  friend, Michele, gave me this recipe last Summer and it has remained on heavy menu-rotation in my kitchen ever since. It's super simple to make and incredibly delicious! It's also lite and healthy. In my opinion, it's the perfect Summer dish.

I usually toss two extra chicken breasts (boneless skinless) into our weekend BBQ mix. (Yes, we grill every weekend year round.) And that way I always have the right amount of cooked chicken for this salad. If you are a vegetarian, simply leave the chicken out altogether. Maybe just add some more veggies. (The original recipe called for cucumber, celery, and some feta.) I have played around with it over the past few months, and ended up with more of a Southwest inspired version. So good!

Ingredients For Salad:
2 cups uncooked quinoa
1/4 tsp cumin
1 Lb grilled chicken, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, semi thawed
2 Hass avocados

 Ingredients For Dressing:
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
*Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Add the Better Than Boullion and 1/4 tsp cumin to the boiling water. I like to use Ancient Harvest Brand quinoa because it's pre-washed.
When quinoa is ready, fluff it with a fork and turn it out into a large bowl to cool. While quinoa is cooling, chop your bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, and chicken. Add all chopped ingredients along with your corn and black beans to a large salad bowl. Gently mix in the cooled quinoa. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate for an hour so that all the flavors have time to meld. Right before serving, chop your avocado and gently fold in to salad.

LESLIE'S NOTES: I like to add my avocado to each individual dish I serve from the main bowl of this salad. That way we can enjoy the leftovers throughout the week without any brown avocado chunks in there. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from the one given to me by: Michele Carnohan. Thanks, Michele!

Southwest Quinoa Salad Will Be Participating In These Fantastic LINK PARTIES
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Veggie Au Gratin

This is a dish I have been making for years. It's gone through several transformations and been given just as many names. But when I really think of it, it clearly is an Au Gratin that's FULL of beautiful Summer vegetables. So I'm thinking the name fits! And the flavor combination is amazing! The slightly caramelized onion and Parmesan really pull it all together. Served piping hot with some garlic bread and grilled meat of choice, it really dresses up your dinner. Enjoy!

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash of salt and pepper
1 cup  Parmesan cheese plus another 1/2 cup for garnish (1 1/2 cups total)
3/4 cups panko bread crumbs

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss your zucchini and squash with 2 Tbs olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper, in a medium mixing bowl; set aside. Freshly grate 1 1/2 cup of Parmesan. (The green can of sprinkle cheese does NOT work well with this dish.) Place cheese in a small mixing bowl and combine with panko bread crumbs. Set it aside as well. Drizzle the other 2 Tbs olive oil on to the center of a rimmed cookie sheet. Lay your sliced onions on top of the oil. (Kind of swoosh them around to make sure the entire bottom of dish is lightly coated with oil.) Layer your sliced tomatoes on top of the onions. Top with zucchini and squash slices. Sprinkle with panko/Parmesan mix and top with additional 1/2 cup of Parm. Bake UNCOVERED for about 20 minutes. Just until topping is lightly browned and onions start to caramelize. (I like to leave some of the edges of my onions showing so I can tell when they're done.)
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Garlic Chicken (Stir Fry)

Garlic Chicken With Zucchini And Mushrooms
The key to a successful stir fry lies mostly in the preparation. If you have cooked with a wok you know what I'm talking about. It goes quick! The first thing I do is cook my rice. And while the rice is steaming I chop my veggies and any meat I will be using. I also like to stick to the "Three Veggie Rule." (Okay, so maybe that's a rule that I made up to make it easier on myself.) Whatever, it works! I choose no more than three vegetables to go in my stir fry. Less is more, right? Unless of course I am doing an all veggie stir fry, then all bets are off! By the way...I consider an onion as a vegetable when it comes to stir fry. (Another made-up rule of mine.)

As you can see in my photos here, you can go with any veggie trio that suits your tastes. Serve it over rice, some lo mein, soba noodles, or even by itself. My family really likes the zucchini and mushroom combo. And the sauce I use is almost identical to the one at our favorite wok house. Every time we dine there I order the Garlic Chicken. So good!

 I am writing this dish up with just two cloves of garlic in the sauce. Trust me, that's plenty of garlic. But for it to truly live up to it's name you need to go with four cloves. And just know in advance that you won't be doing a whole lot of kissing later that night. (garlic breath)  Quick and delicious! This is one of my favorite dishes! Enjoy!
Garlic Chicken With Baby Bok Choy And Mushrooms

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