Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day BBQ-ribs and potato salad

I don't usually grill; leaving that part of cooking to Husband.  He gets credit for both this lovely rack of BBQ ribs and the photo.   KC Masterpiece sauce in Hickory Brown sugar is, by the way, delicious.

I have been making potato salad for years; tweaking it a bit here and there.  We have tons of dill pickle relish for some reason so that was added this time and I liked the addition.

A coworker brought potato salad to work a few months ago and it was excellent.  She uses the same ingredients I do but she makes her potatoes ahead of time and them mixes in the remaining ingredients to the cold potatoes. Most recipes call for making up the salad immediately after boiling the potatoes.  I tried that this time and also hard boiled the eggs ahead of time. It did make a difference; in my opinion. 


 6 medium potatoes, peeled (2 pounds)
 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise or salad dressing
 1 tbsp. white vinegar
 1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
 1 tsp. salt
 1/4 tsp. pepper
 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
 2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)
 4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
 2 heaping TBSP dill pickle relish


1.    Heat 1 inch water (salted if desired) to boiling in 3-quart saucepan. Add potatoes. Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cook 30 to 35 minutes or until tender; drain. Cool at least two hours; cut into cubes.

2.    Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in large glass or plastic bowl. Add potatoes, celery and onion; toss. Stir in eggs and dill pickle relish. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours until chilled.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

These tasty little muffins were breakfast this morning. It's hard to go too wrong with bacon and cheddar cheese.

Yield: 12 muffins


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
Fresh ground Pepper to taste
6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
4 oz. coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1 cup milk, 2% or higher
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly


Heat the oven to 400 F and prepare a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Add the bacon and cheese and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, eggs and butter. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix until the dry ingredients are just moist. The batter will be lumpy.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool in the pan for three minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm

Adapted from EvilShenanigans

*We always use skim milk, but I did have some half & half left over from a previous recipe. I used 1/2 cup skim milk and 1/2 cup half & half. I added the pepper from the original recipe.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake is such a terrific summer dessert. I decided to make some tonight as I had leftover strawberries after making a pie last weekend. Strawberry rhubarb pie is my favorite, but shortcake is close second for a great use of fresh strawberries.

I am always challenged with sizing things down for the two of us. Last year I figured out that half of this recipe baked in a loaf pan makes a nice amount of shortcake for two.


2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, well beaten
6 tbsp. cold butter
1/3 cup milk
4 cups fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
whipped cream


Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Sift. Work in butter with pastry blender or fingertips; add egg and milk. Mix just until dough is moist. Turn dough into a buttered and floured 8 or 9-inch round cake pan and pat into shape. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes in a 400° oven, or until golden brown. Test with a toothpick inserted in the center. If it comes out with dough clinging to it, lower the heat to 350° and bake about 5 more minutes. Remove from the pan and split horizontally with a serrated knife. Butter the cut side of both layers. Put layers together with strawberries and their juice between the layers and on top. Garnish with several whole berries and serve with whipped cream.

To Prepare Strawberries:
Prepare strawberries an hour or two before serving. Rinse, hull, and slice 1 quart of fresh strawberries, leaving 8 to 12 whole for garnishing. Place the sliced berries in a bowl; add 3/4 cup brown sugar and let stand for at least 1 hour at room temp.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lemon-Garlic chicken Kabobs and Tomato Mozzarella pasta

Last night I tried two new recipes.

Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs


3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch pieces


In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Prepare a medium fire in a grill. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes before use.

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and discard the excess marinade. Lightly oil the grill grates. Place the kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 8-12 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. Transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately.

Recipe found on Annie's Eats Food Blog.

* The chicken pieces were in the marinade for almost four hours and turned out wonderful. The lemon and garlic flavors really came through and the chicken was tender and flavorful.

Tomato Mozzarella Pasta

This pasta side was prepared while Husband did the grilling.


Coarse salt
3/4 lb. rigatoni, or other short tubular pasta
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 lb. plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp red onion finely chopped
1/4 tsp. red-pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, dice


1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; add sun-dried tomatoes with about 5 minutes left in the pasta time. drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tomatoes, vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.

3. In a small skillet, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring often, until tender and just beginning to take on color, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in red-pepper flakes.

4. Stir garlic mixture into reserved tomato mixture. Add parsley, oregano, mozzarella, and pasta; toss.

*Loosely based on this Martha Stewart recipe. I did add the sun-dried tomatoes and red onions. I made about half of this recipe and it was a great side for the grilled chicken. I really like the distinctive balsamic vinegar flavor along with the Italian. I also loved the fresh mozzarella and using pearls made it really easy.

As I side dipping sauce for the chicken I served the leftover pita sauce from a couple nights ago.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuna Pasta Salad

I have been making this salad for about 20 years. The first time I tried it was at my in-laws shortly after marrying my husband. I really liked it as I love light summer salads. In asking for the recipe my mother-in-law gave me the ingredients, but as far as amounts she used a little of this and a little of that.

I took a shot with the amounts and it worked out fine. I still make it a few times every summer. It's easy and a great summer dish. It is also a terrific potluck addition.

Tuna Pasta Salad

1 package of salad pasta (I usually use rings or shells)
1 can tuna-drained
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 rib of celery-chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion (red or yellow)
1/3 cup small cubes of cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup mayo or salad dressing

Prepare pasta as directed on the box. Add frozen peas with about 2 minutes left the pasta preparation.
Mix with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicken Gyros

When I planned the menu this week I was looking for a new light, spring/summer recipe. I love pitas and the sauce sounded really intriguing.


16 oz. plain yogurt (not nonfat, if possible)
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil


4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 1/4 lbs. chicken pieces (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

Chopped tomatoes
Thinly sliced red onion

To make the sauce, strain the yogurt over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible.
Shred the cucumber. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler.
Heat pitas. Top with chicken, sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced onions. Serve immediately.

I made about half this recipe and it made two pitas for each of us. To prepare the chicken I broiled it in the toaster oven. (LOVE the toaster oven - especially during warmer weather)

I did have leftover sauce, but I plan to serve it as dipping sauce for some Chicken Kabobs I have planned to try later in the week. It's a new recipe so chances are good it will make for another blog post.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grilling Season

After over a week of rainy, cold weather we finally have a few nice days. It seemed a good day for some grilling.

I had been looking for an excuse to try out a marinade for steak and pulled a t-bone steak out of the freezer. After looking at several marinate recipes I ended up using the following. I didn't really measure, so the amounts are very approximate.

Steak Marinade

1/2 cup red wine-I used Pinot Noir
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
Fresh ground black pepper

The t-bone and the marinade went in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for about five hours.

I really liked it. It was tangy and slightly sweet and I thought it really enhanced the flavor.

Potatoes and steak go together so nicely and I love foil potatoes on the grill. No muss, no fuss.

Foil Potatoes

2 large Russet potatoes-peeled and sliced
1/2 yellow onion-chopped
2 tbsp butter
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.

Layer all ingredients a large piece of tin foil. Fold the tin foil over and seal. Place directly on grill along with meat. Turn several times during cooking.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

The recipe actually came about after making this fabulous beef stew. Husband suggested using the basis of the stew recipe for stroganoff, so I gave it a shot.

I eliminated the the potatoes,carrots and peas, and added sour cream at the end for the creamy consistency. The stroganoff was served over wide egg noodles. It is really delicious; for many of the same reasons the stew is so good. The wine, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes make it so wonderful.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hot German potato salad

One of our favorite side dishes is Hot German potato salad. It has a great zesty, robust flavor that holds its own with a strongly flavored meat. I have made it with chicken and beef, but it went particularly well with the ring of Farmer sausage we had tonight.

This recipe is what I consider classic German potato salad. I have heard of making it with eggs and some do a creamy, rather than zesty version, but I keep going back to this recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook.

Hot German potato salad

4 medium round red or white potatoes (1 1/3 lb)
3 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. celery seed
Dash pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar

1 Place potatoes in 3-quart saucepan; add enough water just to cover potatoes. Cover; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cook covered 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch slices.

2. In 10-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet with slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

3. Cook onion in bacon fat in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat.

4. Stir water and vinegar into onion mixture. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat.

5. Stir in potatoes and bacon. Heat over medium heat, stirring gently to coat potato slices, until hot and bubbly. Serve warm.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Cookware

In watching chefs on Food Network over the years I have noticed a common theme; gas burners and stainless steel cookware.

I have long been a fan of the gas stove; having grown up and been taught to cook that way. When forced to use electric I very quickly learned the benefits of a heat source that was immediately on and then immediately off. I burned more food trying to cook with an electric burner!

For cookware, however, I have always used non-stick frying pans and for years have been using a set of Visions glass cookware. Both have been fine, but a while ago I decided I wanted a new set of cookware and decided to go with stainless steel. Husband found this Cuisinart set on Amazon and I decided to go for it. It will take a bit of getting used to, but so far, so good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lemon Chicken

We eat a lot of chicken at our house; so new recipes are a good thing. I thought this marinade sounded delicious and liked the idea of pouring it over the chicken as it baked. I made this recipe with two chicken breasts instead of thighs or drumsticks as suggested. It was really good, but as Husband mentioned the lemon is restricted to the surface. It would be a great way to make drumsticks.

I will definitely be making this again. An added bonus was how amazing it smelled while cooking. We were both starving by the time I served dinner.

Lemon Chicken

2 tbsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2-4 lbs. of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks
2-3 tbsp. melted butter

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large zipper-lock plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake well to blend. Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the marinade, pressing out excess air and sealing once more. Refrigerate and let marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and transfer to a baking dish, skin-side up, reserving the leftover marinade. Brush the top of each piece of chicken with melted butter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the skins are crispy and well-browned. Halfway through baking, pour the remaining marinade over the chicken pieces in the baking dish. Once fully baked, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving.