Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ladies Light Dinner

Having the girls over for a fun get together? Serve something light and easy with just that right unique twist to keep them talking you (favorably) after they leave!

Chicken Salad on Croissants.
4 chicken breasts (boiled and chopped) *add 1/2 cup chopped celery while cooking chicken if desired
1 cup seedless grapes halved (I like the red to add a pretty color to the salad)
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c sweet relish (dill relish is also amazingly good but use one or the other - NOT both)
salt and pepper to taste
butter lettuce leaves
Mix and let sit in refrigerator a couple hours then spread on mini croissants or if you can't find mini's use full size croissants but slice them in half before spreading chicken salad. Add butter lettuce leaf, top with a tablespoon or two of chicken salad, top! Serves six. Voila'

Baked Brie
1 8 oz round of brie (leave rind intact)
3 Tbl brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
2 Granny Smith apples sliced
Ritz Crackers or Town House Crackers
Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Spread pastry on a flat surface. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans together. Spread nut mixture in the center of the pastry. Set the brie on top of the nut mixture then fold the pastry up and over the brie (wrap it like a package) and pinch the seams of the pastry closed to seal the cheese. Flip the pastry onto the baking sheet (seam side down). Bake at 350* for 20 minutes until the pastry is browned. Serve with sliced apples and crackers.

Melon Salad
This is all about presentation. Select the melon (or a combination of them) to serve as your bowl. Take the top 1/3 off the melon in a horizontal slice. Shell out fruit and cube the contents. Use a paring knife to make a jagged edge to the top of the melon shell (or a scalloped edge if you're good with that knife). Combine the melon cubes (your choice on which melons to use...a combination of Honeydew, Cantaloupe and Watermelon is colorful and delicious). You can even add drained mandarin oranges or peach slices if you'd like. Serve from your decorative melon shell. That's it! Simple, elegant and diet friendly!

Cake Balls
1 package cake mix of your choice, prepared as directed
1 can ready to use cake frosting (a flavor that would go well with your cake mix flavor)
3 oz confectioner's chocolate (melted smooth) Select the better fit for your cake flavor to determine if you use milk chocolate or white chocolate.
Crumble cooled cake into a mixing bowl and combine with frosting. Scoop out with a tablespoon or melon baller and shape into golf ball size balls (roll them tightly using your hands). Insert a toothpick or candy stick and dip cake balls into the melted chocolate. If you feel really jazzy, let cool on waxed paper (I refrigerate mine to hurry the setting) then drizzle with the opposite color chocolate or dip in crushed nuts, or sprinkles. You can leave the pick in or remove it...I leave it is as it makes it easy to serve.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Veggie Side Salads

Garden Vegetables are some of Summer's greatest goodies! To change up the pace of your summer sides, try one of these to energize your summer dinners.

Green Bean Salad

1 lb whole green beans (fresh, ends snapped, rinse and drain or 2 cans), 1 medium purple onion sliced, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, 6 Tbl vinegar, 1/4 c cooking oil, 6 slices of bacon (cooked, drained and chopped), 4 hard boiled eggs (sliced), 4 Tbl salad dressing, 4 tsp vinegar, 4 tsp prepared mustard. Mix first six ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. Drain standing marinate, add remaining ingredients, mix well and chill for a couple of hours and serve. You can add sliced tomatoes, sliced almonds or even blue cheese crumbles to dress this up a bit.

Summer Corn Salad

6 ears of corn, cut from the cob, cooked and drained or 4 cups of canned corn (drained), 2 tomatoes diced, 1 medium onion diced, 1/4 c olive oil, 2 Tbl vinegar, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or fresh basil if you prefer), salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients together, chill and serve. Good on it's own or with saltines or even tortilla chips.

Tennessee Caviar

3 cans black eyed peas, 1 can black beans, 1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild or regular - your choice), 1 can corn, 1 tomato chopped, 1 bunch green onions chopped (just the greens), salt and pepper to taste. Drain all veggies and Rotel, mix well with other ingredients, let chill and serve. Good alone or with corn chips to scoop up every yummy bite!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Salad Options, more than just lettuce

You always need options for a holiday side dish that will draw some interest at the pic-nic! Salad is more than the traditional lettuce with ranch dressing or pasta with Italian dressing ... try something different today and get yourself noticed!

Cracker Salad
1 sleeve saltines, crushed (name them after who ever you are mad at when you crush them, makes you feel a little better when you are smashing them:), 3-4 chopped green onions, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 c mayonnaise, 1 hard boiled egg, a couple of grinds of fresh peppercorns. Mix onions, tomatoes mayonnaise, egg and pepper. Toss in the crushed crackers and serve immediately. I made this for a pic-nic years ago and one guest still asks for this each time she comes over!

Greek Pasta Salad
3 c cooked shell pasta (I like the medium size shells), 1 pint of cherry tomatoes sliced in halves, 1 cucumber diced, 1 sweet pepper diced (I like yellow for extra color in your salad), 1/2 small red onion diced, 1/4 cup pitted olives sliced, 1 can of cannelloni beans (rinse and drain), 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese. Mix all together then make the dressing: 3Tbl extra virgin olive oil, 3Tbl red wine vinegar, 3Tbl lemon juice, 1tsp honey, 1tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper with a pinch of oregano. Whisk dressing together ten toss with pasta and veggies and serve.

Taco Salad
Kid's favorite! 1/2 bag of nacho flavored Doritos (crushed), 1 head of lettuce chopped, 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved, 1 bell pepper chopped, 1 bundle of green onions chopped, 2 c shredded cheddar cheese, 1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained), *1 lb of ground beef (browned, drained and cooled). In a very large Tupperware box with a good fitting lid, toss all your ingredients together. I put the lid on and just tumble it about! Dress with 1/2 bottle of Catalina dressing. Let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and this makes nice summer lunch. Serve with flour tortillas cut into wedges. You can lighten this recipe with baked chips, low fat cheese and the meat is optional.

Ramen Salad
1 bag of broccoli slaw mix, 2 packages of beef flavor ramen noodles, 2 small packages of sunflower seeds (about 1/4 c), 1/4 c sliced almonds. Crush noodles and mix with slaw mix, seeds and nuts. Dressing: 1c light olive oil, 1/3 c apple cider vinegar, 1/2c sugar, the two beef seasoning packets from the ramen, whisk all together and pour over slaw mix. Let salad chill in refrigerator for a hour then serve. Great for pic-nics as there is no mayonnaise in this recipe! The crunch of the noodles make this just fantastic!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Potato Salad, a variety of options

Potato Salad is a deeply personal recipe in the either Love it or Hate it...or it may depend on who made it and out did your recipe! Please try one or two of the recipes below as they represent excellent flavor from some of my "besties"!

Deviled Egg Potato Salad

3 lbs of new potatoes, washed and drained, 1/2 c mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, 3 T mustard (Dijon or regular yellow mustard), 4 hard boiled eggs, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 c chopped parsley. Cube potatoes and bake in the oven until tender, 30-40 minutes. Chop boiled eggs, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard (I like plain old yellow mustard but it's your choice entirely). Let potatoes cool, salt and pepper to taste, then combine with mayo mixture and add chopped eggs, mix gently and add parsley on top at the last step as a garnish.

German Potato Salad

4 Idaho baking potatoes, 4 slices of bacon, 1 Tbl flour, 2 Tbl sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 c white vinegar, 1/2 c chopped green onions. Boil potatoes until tender, cool with cold water and chop. Cook bacon and set aside to cool, then chop. Add flour, water and vinegar to bacon grease and cook over medium heat until thick.'s your choice - hot or cold. If you like your potato salad hot, toss in the potatoes and green onions into the skillet until it is all coated and warm, then serve. If you like your potato salad cold, let your dressing mixture cool then toss with potatoes and garnish with green onions.

Loaded Potato Salad

This has everything but the kitchen sink in it and I wouldn't leave out one single thing! 4 lbs new potatoes, cubed and cooked until tender, 1 lb of bacon, cooked, cooled and chopped, 1/2 stick of butter, 1/2 c green onions, 1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 c sour cream (light or fat free is fine), 1 Tlb fresh ground black pepper (if you don't have a pepper grinder...GET ONE! It is a thousand times better than that powdered stuff), 1 tsp sea salt. Cube and cook your potatoes until just tender (boil or bake, your choice) - do not over cook your potatoes. Mix all other ingredients together. When potato cubes are cooled completely, toss with dressing mixture and chill for 4 hours. Adjust salt and pepper to taste prior to serving.

Southern Potato Salad

Okay, I have to confess, this is the BEST potato salad I've EVER had...the deviled potato salad comes close but trust me ... I bow to this recipe over ALL others! 1 bag (2-3 lbs) new potatoes, skin on, cubed and boil until just not over cook. mix with 1/2 onion chopped fine (or green onions are fine too 1/2 c), mix potatoes, onions with 3/4 c mayonnaise, 3/4 cup salad dressing (YES, mayonnaise and salad dressing are two different things), 1/4 c yellow mustard, 1 - 2 tsp sugar, salt and pepper. Mix the cooled potatoes with the remaining ingredients and serve right off the counter, if you have left overs, do refrigerate them but this is good as gold just as it is.

I've eaten and enjoyed a lot of variations on potato salad, you can add chopped celery, chopped bell peppers or even celery seed, chopped pimento, what ever you like, to adjust the flavor to suit you...Just pick a base that suits you and make it your own and let the carbohydrates run wild!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kentucky Pork Tenderloin

Looking for something to change up your Sunday dinner menu? Try this marinated Pork'll need to plan ahead as this needs to sleep with the marinade in the fridge on Saturday night, but it is OH SO worth it!

Kentucky Pork Tenderloin

1/4 c Kentucky Bourbon, 1/4 c soy sauce, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/4 c Dijon mustard, 1/4 c canola oil, 3 cloves minced garlic (or 1 1/2 tsp if using garlic flakes), 1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1 tsp worchestershire sauce - whisk all together and pour into a very large zip lock bag, add your pork loin and let everyone get a good nights sleep - you go to bed and the pork goes in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge an hour before cooking, discard the marinade let the pork come up in temperature before grilling. Cook over hot coals for 20-25 minutes, until the center is 165 degrees (no pink pork ... that's my rule).

I recommend making double the marinade and reserve 1/2 to baste with while cooking.

If you're in a hurry, you can slice you pork tenderloin before you marinate and you can cut the fridge time to about 8 hours. You can start this before you leave for church and still grill it for dinner.