Tag Archives: easy recipe

Easy Grilled Beer Can Chicken

4 Jul

You sure have gotten a lot of postcards from me lately about grilling! Now that we have established that anyone can grill let’s keep the good times rolling!

We’ve done fish, vegetables, and salmon on the grill. You may need to take a peek at some past posts and my Youtube videos for a refresher. Find them here.

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Now it’s time to try our hand at chicken. We love simple and it doesn’t get any easier than Beer Can Chicken. The chicken can be seasoned ahead of time or on the spot. You decide. Pop it onto the grill for an hour and voila! You’ve got a whole chicken done to perfection! And the leftovers (if you have any!!)?  BLISS!

Here is how I made my beer can chicken recently. The chicken got seasoned in the morning and put into the fridge till evening. The morning prep made dinner quick to get ready after a busy day. To season this whole chicken, olive oil and some herbs is all this needed. Oh, a bit of salt and pepper is important as well.

*Do NOT wash chicken ahead of using. That actually increases the risk of food borne illness. Please refer to the food safety tip at the end of the blog.

Seasoning this chicken was a snap.

To add flavor to the chicken, I put season salt, pepper, and some salt free seasoning into a small bowl and mixed them together. The chicken got a drizzle of olive oil (inside and out) and rubbed with diced garlic. A simple sprinkle of the seasoning mixture and this chicken is grill ready. You can make your seasoning with anything you prefer, and slather the chicken with as much or as little as you like. Let your flavor personality shine!

This chicken is perfectly seasoned.

At this point, I wasn’t ready to grill the chicken, so I put it into a gallon size ziplock bag and into the fridge for a few hours.

Zip this chicken up and put it into the fridge for a few hours. 

As afternoon waned into evening, I cranked up the gas grill and put all burners on high. As always, when it was hot I cleaned it with a wire grill brush. When the grill was good and hot, the burners on one side were turned off, and the other side went to a medium heat setting.

Now the fun part. No expensive kitchen doodads needed here. Just get a can of beer and pour 1/2 of it out (you can put it into a cup to drink while grilling). Spray the can with non stick cooking spray. Get two little squares of foil ready. Grab everything and head out to the grill with your chicken.

Open the lid of the grill. Take the chicken out of the bag. Stand it up and slide the can of beer up into the bottom (my mom, always the lady, called that part of the chicken the “toot”) of the chicken. Crimp the foil square onto the bottom of each chicken leg. This will allow the chicken to stand up, tripod style, on the grill and the tip of the legs won’t burn.

Put the chicken on the side of the grill that is opposite the direct heat. Since the chicken is not on the direct heat it will cook slowly, assuring a juicy bird when it’s done. Close the lid for an hour.

When you open the grill, you will get the most lovely golden surprise. Just look at this chicken! The skin is crispy, the inside is moist (thanks to the beer) and the herbs are bright and vibrant.

After an hour you will be rewarded with this gorgeous chicken!

But wait!! There’s more!! Time for the side dish. Choose one that is as easy as this chicken. Let me help.

Take zucchini, cut in half, and put just a spritz of olive oil both the skin and the open fleshy side. Salt and pepper the halves. Since your chicken is on the other side of the grill, go ahead and put your zucchini on the direct heat, skin side up. After about 3 minutes, turn them over so the skin is on the grill. Put some decadent fresh parmesan cheese on the top of the zucchini halves, remove the chicken from the grill, and close the lid.

Easy peasy side dish.

Pull the can out of the chicken toot, loosely tent it in foil,  and let it rest. When the cheese is a little melty and the bottom of the zucchini is grilled (about 2 minutes) take them off the heat. Now ring the dinner bell. Now wasn’t that easy? Tell me what you used as seasoning and how your chicken turned out.

*Food safety tip. Do not wash the chicken after removing packaging. Contrary to belief, this actually INCREASES the risk of cross contamination. Washing the chicken can cause splatter of raw chicken around the sink and onto the counter tops. If this was to touch something ready to eat, such as a salad, the possibility of food poisoning becomes possible. For more information on food safety, go here. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-foo

Magnificent Marinade

31 May

You sure have gotten a lot of postcards about grilling from me lately. Let’s keep the good times rolling!

We’ve done fish, vegetables, and salmon on the grill. You may need to take a peek at some past posts and my Youtube videos for a refresher. Find them here.

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Time for a barbecue season favorite-pork tenderloin. Boosting flavors by marinading the tenderloin first will ensure savory goodness! Making a marinade is easily customizable for individual flavor preferences and simple to create. Just toss together a few  ingredients that are on hand. No need to worry about a special trip to the grocery store for your marinade.

Grab a gallon size ziplock bag and some kitchen basics. For this marinade, I used garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. My rosemary is flourishing, so I nabbed some of that to add as well.

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Marinades are easy! Just use what you have on hand!

Put all of the ingredients into the ziplock bag. Mush it around so the flavors come together, and add the tenderloin. Zip the bag. Put the marinading meat into the fridge and go about your day. How easy is that?

A marinade can do it’s job in 20 minutes or all day. You decide. No matter what you do, this step will make sure that your pork is tender and delicious.

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Put your marinade ingredients into a ziplock bag, squish them all together, toss in your tenderloin and zip it up!

When dinner time rolls around, take your marinading tenderloin out of the fridge and prepare for greatness. Grab your cast iron skillet, take it out and place it on the grill. Turn on the gas and light to heat up. If you use charcoal on your grill, get your coals hot before placing the skillet on. Once on, close the lid, and let the skillet heat up.

Get the grill and cast iron skillet good and hot. Searing this tenderloin will be important  when it hits the heat. Take your tenderloin, marinade and all, out to the grill. Bring a little oil, salt, and pepper as well. Add just a thin glaze of oil into the pan and let it heat up for a minute.

The tenderloin will go right from the bag into the skillet. Zip open the bag, use tongs to get the  loin out. Let the extra marinade drip off, then add to your skillet. That sizzle is just what you want to hear!

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The tenderloin will have the flavorful marinade on it but needs to be properly dressed up. This is when salt and pepper comes into play. Sprinkle it on the top of the tenderloin while the bottom is searing. Close the grill and let it get to work!

Each side needs about 4 minutes for a good sear. Once that first side has a nice crust on it, give it a quarter turn to an uncooked side. Dust with salt and pepper with each turn.

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Okay so as you can see I tend to go heavy on the black pepper, but I just adore it. The grill is still at about 400 degrees-and just where you want it to be. After each turn, place the lid down, and let this continue to cook.

At this point, the scents wafting around the grill will be amazing. The lovely meaty aromas floating around while this cooks are mouth watering.

When it is good and seared on all sides pull it off the grill. Total cooking time is about 15 minutes for this 1 1/2 pound tenderloin. Once off the grill, remove it from the hot skillet and place it on a plate. Put a few pats of high quality butter on the hot tenderloin, and cover or “tent” with foil to rest. Please don’t skip this step-it is crucial to the tenderness of the meat.

It’s time to eat! Slice through that delicious seared crust into the juicy tenderloin. and wait for the compliments to roll in. Let me know how you make your marinade! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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This tenderloin was tender and flavorful! I served it with roasted veggies for the perfect keto meal!

 

 

Sweet Sauté

3 May
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Yes please! YUM!

Cooking up something fresh is divine. And in this case, quick and easy. There is nothing like the golden bliss of sautéd onions. The house becomes wrapped in the scents of oniony deliciousness wafting through the air. That, my friend, is an epicureans dream.

When cooking onions, cook up a big batch. Why? Well because of their versatility and their big flavor pop. They last for a couple of days in the fridge, and freeze beautifully for 3 months-always ready to pull out and jazz up just about anything,

For this recipe, the onions need to be uniformly sliced. A mandolin makes quick work of slicing onions, and a cast iron skillet practically does the rest of the work for you. First, get everything ready and you can zip through this recipe in no time.

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Just a few simple ingredients to yummy sautéed onions!

Get your skillet warmed up over a slow low heat while gathering prepping ingredients. You will need a couple of sweet onions (I prefer vidalia), butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

Time to peel and cut the onions. After your onions are free from their papery outer layer, a mandolin makes slicing the onions a snap, and they will all be the same width. Perfect for sautéing. But if a mandolin is out of the question a good sharp knife will work just fine.

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Slicing vegetables is so easy with a mandolin-a very useful kitchen tool.

After the onions are ready for the pan, turn your heat up to medium. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Let that heat up, and then gently slip in the onions. Drizzle the oil over the onions and stir.

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Slide those onions gently into the hot skillet.

Just listen to that sizzle as you add the onions! Oh yes, this is simple but special. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over these guys, give them a stir, and let the hot pan do its job.

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Just a dusting of salt and pepper is perfect for these onions.

Salt and pepper is perfect for these sweet onions, but if you are feeling moody or sassy, go ahead and add more spice, like red pepper flakes. That will kick these fellas up a bit! Give this a stir and let the cast iron skillet and heat do the work.

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A quick stir and you can sit back for a bit.

The onions can sizzle on medium heat for about 10 minutes before moving them around the pan a bit. If they seem a bit dry, go ahead and drizzle a bit more olive oil into the pan.  These little beauties should be getting brown-and getting sweeter.

The scents floating though the kitchen when these are cooking are so enticing. Just imagine what you can put these on (a big ol’ sandwich), or into (a succulent rice dish), or along side (a zesty barbecue chicken thigh) or layer onto (a pizza)! Just sayin…

When the onions are sweet, brown, and ready to come off the heat, its time to finish this off right. Grab your balsamic vinegar and layer on some more flavor. Just a bit will add nice balance to these onions.

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A little bit of acid finishes these onions off perfectly.

And Voila! In a snap you have a glorious onion dish. Use them as you wish, and if you have leftovers, they keep in the freezer beautifully for 3 months. Whatcha doing with your sweet sautéed onions? Let me know!

Amys Sautéed Sweet Onions

  • 2-3 sweet onions, sliced thin
  • 2 T. high quality butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat pan to a medium heat. Place butter in pan, and when melted and bubbling hot, add onions. Stir and add olive oil over the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir. After 10 minutes stir again. When limp and golden brown, turn off heat, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, adjust seasonings and remove from pan. They are now ready to enjoy!

 

 

 

Foraging-Pantry Style

16 Feb

Holidays were so busy this year. I had house guests throughout the season. I dearly love a bustling holiday crowd, but let’s face it-it’s work. Now the holidays have passed with warm happy memories lingering, warming even the coldest of winter days. But I am tired. Which is why I foraged in the kitchen for dinner tonight. It was an epic win. Why? No trip to the store. Created from items on hand. It was easy. And delicious.

It began as a late afternoon (post catnap…isn’t that what weekends are for?) scattered thought-what sounds good for dinner tonight? So I meandered off of the couch and went to the freezer. Score! There was some ravioli that was fresh but had been tossed into the freezer. I pulled it out. It was the starting point. On to the pantry.

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It is a time saver to get fresh pasta. It cooks much more quickly than dried. Don’t have time to cook it? Toss it in the freezer for later!

After flipping the pantry light on and gazing somewhat absentmindedly (my brain may still have been in nap mode!) at the shelves, I silently willed inspiration to come. The ravioli was my center of the plate star, but it needed sauce. Something interesting, fun, different. And above all, quick and easy.

I found a can of artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and a couple of garlic cloves. The fridge had some fresh celery, butter, half and half, and some leftover chicken stock. I could work with this. So (a lazy) dinner prep got underway.

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This is what I foraged from the pantry and fridge.

I took out a sauce pan, put it on a medium heat, and added about 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. While the butter melted into the oil I roughly chopped some celery stalks and leaves. Listen y’all, there is no reason not to use the entire celery stalk for a sauce. I chopped the garlic as well.

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Start with extra virgin olive oil and good quality butter.

When the butter and oil were hot, the celery garlic mixture went into the pan to sizzle for a couple of minutes. I stirred and kept it on a medium low heat-garlic can burn quickly so it must be watched and stirred.

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The garlic and celery filled the kitchen with delicious aromas. Don’t forget to use the celery leaves!

In between stirs, I drained the artichoke hearts. They were packed in water so after they were drained I squeezed them upside-down over the sink to remove excess liquid between the leaves. After a rough chop I added them to the sizzling garlic and celery. Mmmmmm. The kitchen smelled wonderful.

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Drain your artichoke hearts to control the seasoning in the sauce.

Next in went a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Mindful to layer flavors, I added salt and pepper. I keep a salt cellar of a high quality salt and pepper mixture next to my stove. This makes it easy to layer in seasonings as I cook.

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Keeping a salt cellar on the counter is an easy way to layer flavor as you cook.

If adding salty ingredients such as capers to a sauce, I go directly for the pepper and leave the salt out until the last minute, adding if necessary. No capers here, so salt and pepper were a must.

The juice in the tomatoes needed a fresh minutes to reduce and thickness slightly. The heat was still on medium and it took about 8 minutes for this lovely sauce to thicken up. Time to layer some more flavor. A few splashes of chicken stock was sounded yummy.

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Any kind of broth will do for this easy recipe!

After adding the broth, I added a few red pepper flakes as well.  I just can’t stop myself from adding a heat layer. Since this was a recipe for two and Denis is not as fond of heat in a sauce as I am, I went light with just s few flakes. A good stir incorporated all of these lovely flavors.

The sauce was simmering beautifully. Time for the creamy. I added about 1/2 cup of half and half. If you are lactose intolerant you can leave this out. The sauce will still be thick and lovely.

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Oh the creaminess of half and half!

With a good stir and the heat lowered to medium low, this fragrant sauce needed only a few minutes to heat through. I had put a pot of water for the ravioli on, and it was boiling. Time to get the ravioli cooking. It had defrosted and was a fresh pasta. It cooked up in a snap.

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Add a heaping Tablespoon of salt to your pasta water. This not only helps add a bit of flavor to the pasta, the starchy water will thicken any pasta sauce.

Before draining the pasta, I gently removed about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and slowly stirred it into the pasta sauce. A little cooking hint for you-starchy pasta water helps sauce thicken and cling to the pasta. It is a step that is worthwhile to incorporate.

Time to plate this up.  I had opened a can of green beans to cook up quick as a side dish. I chopped up 2 small peppers I’d found in the fridge and added those to the green beans.  Goat cheese crumbles were on hand, so those were lightly sprinkled onto the green beans. Again, this was all foraged from the pantry and fridge. No trip to the grocery store tonight!

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I use my Christmas plates long past the holiday. They just make me happy, so it is usually mid January (okay truth be told maybe even a little later than that) by the time they get put up. Here is the finished super easy dinner. Look at how that sauce clings to the pasta perfectly.

There was just a few ravioli left, so into the fridge they went. My daughter nabbed them the following morning after a long run. Dare I say they were better the next day? Pasta always is! What can you make from your pantry? Send me a postcard and let me know. I love hearing from you!

Artichoke Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon each olive oil and butter
  • small stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can Artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 4 ounces half and half (may omit for vegetarian option
  • Cooked pasta of choice-enough for 2 people
  • 4 ounces pasta cooking water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Add butter and olive oil to pan and heat on medium. When sizzling add celery and garlic and turn heat to medium low.  Stir and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, drain and roughly chop artichoke hearts. Add to the pan and stir. After 4 minutes, add tomatoes with the juice. Add salt and pepper. Stir and simmer for 8-10 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Gently stir in the stock. After well incorporated, add the half and half, if using.

Let the sauce simmer. Add to pasta and enjoy.

NOTE-If a keto or gluten free diet is your thing, this sauce is also wonderful spooned over a piece of chicken or fish instead of pasta. If this needs to be a vegetarian sauce, leave out the half and half and use vegetable broth. For the dairy intolerant, omit the butter and the half and half. How is that for a flexible sauce? Gotta love that!  Let your imagination run wild with this sauce and let me know what you create!

 

 

 

Keto Cod

2 Sep

Fish. It’s good for us, but we sure see it fried a lot. And that is not healthy. Want to make some healthy fish that won’t leave a dirty pan and a fishy smelling house? Keep reading.

We will start with a meaty 16 ounce piece of cod. Why Cod? It is a nice firm clean white fish mild in flavor so it appeals to most everyone. It is low in calories and fat, but a 4 ounce serving packs about 19 grams of protein.

Cod is also rich in B vitamins. Cod also has phosphorus which boosts the efficiency of those B vitamins in your body. The health benefits are substantial with the choice of this protein.

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Look at this gorgeous cod!

Next cut the cod into 4 pieces. The end of the filet is a little thinner than the rest so that piece can be folded under. We want all of the pieces to cook evenly and this simple step will help with that.

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For portion control 4 ounces of cod is just right.

Next, dust the cod with salt and pepper. It doesn’t need much, but feel free to add seasonings that appeal to you. Lemon pepper or herb de provence are also wonderful additions to this flakey white fish. Fresh cilantro would also work well here.

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Less is more with seasoning this mild fish.

Get 4 pieces of foil that are large enough for your filet. We are making a pouch so make sure the foil is large enough to loosely wrap around each piece of cod. Place the fish in the center of the foil and drizzle with olive oil. We are now going to add some serious deliciousness to the cod-tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese. OOOOHHH so good!

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Use a high quality tomato and fresh cheese for this dish.

Dice up the cheese, and drain a tomato from the can. You will need one tomato for each cod fillet. Lay the tomato over the fillet, and sprinkle with the diced cheese.

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Go as heavy or as light as you want with the cheese.

Now doesn’t that look enticing? Finish it off with a little drizzle of olive oil.

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Heart healthy olive oil adds just the right touch here.

I am an acid person-think vinegars and citrus-so I also layered an acid layer here. A little spritz of vinegar was the perfect addition but you can also add a slice of lemon if that is your thing. Express yourself. When you’ve dressed your cod, simply crimp and pinch the foil to make a pouch for the grill. Seal all of that luscious goodness in, and let’s get to cooking.

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This little pouch of deliciousness will save with the cleanup!

Make sure that your grill heated up and cleaned. The temperature should be around 350 degrees. Place your cod pouches  directly on the grates. Close the lid. In about 10-12 minutes, your pouches will be ready to come off the grill.

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Doesn’t this look heavenly? Better yet, cleanup will be a snap. No dirty pans to mess with when making this succulent dish!

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Delicious grilled keto friendly cod!

How is this for a mouthwatering dinner? Quite spectacular! Never cooked fish before? This is too easy not to try. And if you are eating low carb or keto, dig in. This is low carb and keto friendly. Since your grill is heated up, grill some veggies to go along side your cod. Bon appetite!

For more grilling ideas, see my Girls can Grill blog here. https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill

 

 

 

 

Fresh Summer Salsa

28 Jul

The flavors of summer are ripe, juicy and bursting with colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, juicy berries, and gorgeous tree ripened peaches. And we can’t overlook the herbs exploding in our gardens. Need a new way to enjoy the essence of sunny days and warm breezy nights? Summer salsa here we come!

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Look at this versatile summer fruit salsa!

Need some ideas as to what to do with this summer treat? This fruity delight is delicious with a spicy grilled tenderloin. Or on top of shrimp tacos. Or along side juicy chicken thighs.

Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips. It is a can’t miss with some baked brie cheese in puff pastry. The possibilities are endless!

Want more choices, more flexibility? This salsa recipe offers plenty. It’s bold flavor lends itself to endless substitutions to customize anything seasonal. This salsa is yummy with cilantro, but if your herb garden is overflowing with fragrant  rosemary or leafy basil, add that in place of the cilantro. Got blueberries? Toss those in with or in place of something else. Any firm fruit will do.

But first, lets start with the basic recipe. Where you go from there is up to you.

Begin by chopping your cantaloupe and peaches. Add them to a large bowl. Don’t crowd the ingredients as you will have more to add and a little stirring to do.

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Chop up some cantaloupe and peaches. Side bar-if you have a little leftover, sprinkle it with some bleu cheese and enjoy!

Add some luscious summer blackberries.

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Just look at those gorgeous colors!

Now it is time to jazz up the works a bit. Add in your cilantro and finely chopped onions. Give that all a good gentle stir. You are going to love how these flavors work together.

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A little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, another good stir and your summer salsa is ready! This gets better over time so make it ahead of when it will be served and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. See the full recipe below.

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Amy’s Fresh Summer Salsa

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cantaloupe or 1 cup each canteloupe and honey dew melon
  • 2 ripe peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or thinly sliced scallions including green top
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (may substitute basil)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients together and gently stir. Refrigerate until use.

Secret Ingredient-splash 1 or 2 tablespoons over tequila on the salsa. Then serve with margaritas and fish tacos! Be sure to let me know how your salsa turns out and what you love about it!

Pimiento Perfection!

5 May

Pimiento Cheese. I’d never heard of it till a vacation in Florida. It was there, on Marco Island at age twenty something, that I first tasted the savory deliciousness that was pimiento cheese. It was good. Really good.

It was store bought. And come to find out my grocer at home didn’t carry it. Longing for that flavor of vacation, I decided to make it from scratch. I started with a recipe. Over the years I have added my own twists and flavors. Now I’m hooked. You will be too.

Grab your box grater and let’s toss this together. It is super easy to make. In my fridge I had some smokey gouda cheese but only about 3 ounces, so I also grabbed a hunk of cheddar. That is part of the beauty of this recipe-you can really customize it to your taste and what you have on hand.

Besides the cheese, I also pulled out mayonnaise and a jar of pimentos. A dash of vinegar will give the cheese a punch. Next I got a big mixing bowl out and start grating.

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I put the freshly grated cheese into the mixing bowl. It was large enough to do some robust mixing.

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Next I simply add some mayonnaise, the drained jar of pimiento, and a dash of vinegar. And, of course, a little salt and pepper too. Some folks like to use some cottage cheese with their mayo, and others opt for a little sour cream.

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Then I blend, fold and scrape my way to a lovely delicious mixture.

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When you make it, put this in the fridge for a bit before digging in. That way the flavors have time come together and balance out. If you are feeling a bit sassy,  add some diced jalapeño peppers. The heat that the peppers bring to this delectable treat is heavenly.

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That is all there is to it. Get ready for some major YUM!

PIMIENTO CHEESE RECIPE

  • 8 ounces cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 jar chopped pimiento, drained
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Refrigerate until use. Spread on crackers or celery.

By the way, if you have some pimiento cheese left tomorrow, use it to make an out of this world grilled cheese sandwich!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Soup Time!

30 Dec

Cold weather is soup weather. When the chill sets in, the soup goes on. I decided to try making a soup I had never made before. And I wanted to make it from scratch. My darling Denis talked about his sister Kathy’s Italian Wedding Soup. He remembered it being quite delicious. Decision made.

Italian Wedding Soup has meatballs, so my first order of business after finding a recipe that I could start with (while making it my own) was to make meatballs. I used a couple of types of ground meat, bread crumbs, a beaten egg, and some italian seasoning. While some epicureans fry their meatballs, I bake mine. I cooked up a big batch so there were extra to put into the freezer for another day.

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While the meatballs were cooling, I assembled the rest of my ingredients. Cooked meatballs, chicken stock (both homemade and store bought), shredded carrots, celery, arugula and spinach, orzo, eggs, parmesan cheese, and finally salt and pepper were set to come together in one magnificent soup. The homemade chicken stock was loaded with succulent herbss-and would perfectly season the soup.

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Next I started chopping. I like everything ready when I begin making something, It just makes it easier to assemble.

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Just a little FYI…when I use celery in a recipe, I use both the outer stalks and the leafy insides. I don’t waste any flavorful tidbit when I cook.

Next I sautéed the carrots and celery in a little butter. Then I added the stock. My first  ever soup kettle of Italian Wedding Soup was underway. The tantalizing aromas floating through the house brought my darling Denis to the kitchen. One of the many things I love about cooking…the kitchen becomes an impromptu gathering place.

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The soup was bubbling away, and the scents wafting through the house made the frosty day outside fade away . Next, more building of the flavors when the chopped arugula and spinach went into the broth.

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Then it was time to froth up the eggs. When I add eggs to any recipe, they sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature before adding them to a recipe. Eggs work better in recipes when they are room temperature.

 

After whipping the eggs, I stirred the soup and slowly drizzled the eggs in-they cooked slowly as they were added. The soup was coming together beautifully.

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The house was filled with the warmth of bubbling soup.

In went the meatballs. They just had to be heated through and the soup was complete. Time to dig in!

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Freshly grated parmesan garnished the soup. Cripsy garlic bread completed the meal. While it was chilly outside, inside it was warm and oh so delicious.

Soup lends itself to personal csutomization. It can be easily tailored to taste. Love pepper? Grind some flavorful heat into the soup. Want more veggies? Chop them up and toss them in. Is vegetarian soup your preference? Use tofu and vegetable broth. Easy Peasy. Let your food express your personality and have fun!

 

Dinner in a Pot

17 Sep

This is the story of an easy, savory, nutritious one pot dinner. Why one pot? A simple reason: it was a busy weeknight and I did not want a lot of dishes. Keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer is key to quick easy meals. I also like to keep fresh produce on hand so I can pull meals together without those pesky after work visits to the grocery store.

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For this dinner, I started out with broccoli and cauliflower in a bowl. Then I tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I put it on a parchement lined baking sheet (remember…few dishes!) and roasted that for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Then I put some sweet little cherry and grape tomatoes into a pot, again with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I then let that simmer a bit. These cook down to a creamy delight. I also added a clove of chopped garlic.

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As that was simmering, I chopped up some fresh spinach and arugula. When the tomatoes were thick and bubbly, I added the greens. I like to mix arugula into my spinach because of the sharp peppery flavor it adds. I gave all of that a good stir.

Now dinner was really smelling delicious. Savory fragrance was wafting through the house, and I was getting really hungry! I took the veggies out of the oven when they were a little brown on the edges, and let them rest not the counter (on a hot pad) for a few minutes. Next it was time to add the pasta.

Angel hair pasta was going to be my pasta of choice because of its short cook time. I wrapped the pasta up in a clean dish towel, then ran the towel over the edge of the counter. This broke the pasta up efficiently and neatly.

Then I added chicken broth to the tomato mixture. After that, in went the pasta. It was that simple. Again, a couple of quick stirs and I let this cook on medium heat. I then went to  pour a glass of wine to accompany this delicious dinner.

When the pasta was al dente (firm to the bite) I was ready to complete the meal. I added the roasted vegetables along with shrimp as the protein. The shrimp was raw, and it only took about 3 minutes for them to cook-any longer and they would become rubbery.

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And Voila! Dinner was ready. It was a complete meal in a bowl. I grated some fresh parmesan cheese on top, grabbed my glass of wine, and enjoyed a healthy weeknight meal. And my one pot meal left me with very few after dinner dishes.

This meal is customizable. Don’t like cauliflower? Try zucchini. Shrimp isn’t your thing? Add some leftover cooked chicken. Want a more robust flavor? Add red pepper flakes and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Want a vegetarian meal? Use vegetable broth and leave out the shrimp. Craving an italian twist? Toss in some fresh parsley and basil. The possibilities are endless-but the after dinner dishes aren’t!

Blast into Super foods!

26 May

Super foods are in the news constantly these days.  The question is do you find good health in whole foods or in other ways?  While touting super foods, the media also barrages us with cheater methods, like “supplements are a must”, “take those vitamins”.  To that I say pish posh to that.  Bullroar.  Nonsense.  Put that protein powder aside and get into super foods.

Super foods are all the rage…to talk about.  But are you ready to dig in and add them to your diet?  I hope so because nutrient dense foods are cool!  So is having variety in your diet and trying new things.  Expand your palate!  Try new foods and enjoy crazy good health benefits.  Take the leap and delve into super foods.  What to try first…hhhmmmm.  Put cabbage on the menu.  Why?  Glad you asked.  Didn’t like it as a kid?  Well it’s time to try it again,   Overlook its nonglamourous reputation and appreciate the cabbage contribution to good health!  It is loaded with micronutrients.

Micronutrients in food provide the nutrition your cells need to run your body.   These are important for cell function, simply put, by eliminating some bad molecules in our bodies.  Antioxidants are prize fighters in this arena and are essential in a healthy diet.  Where are these elusive antioxidants found?  In many foods, including cabbage.  What else does cabbage do for good health?

In addition to being loaded with antioxidants, cabbage has significant amounts of vitamin C and vitamin K, making it great brain food.  It is also a good source of folate in the diet, which is essential for red blood cell development.

Want to leave the medications at the drugstore?  Me too.  So consider that cabbage has long been used as a natural remedy for relieving constipation, curing headaches, and easing joint inflammation. For a new mother that has breast pain, cabbage is a natural way to eliminate it.  If you aren’t a nursing mother but went out last night and indulged in adult beverages, cabbage has been used for centuries as a hangover remedy.  Hey, I’m just sayin’…

Moving on….it is a vegetable that is often overlooked in its flexibility.  Cabbage goes in soup, can be piled on a sandwich, is a great side dish, and can even make a fantastic appetizer.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  Also, fresh cabbage is budget friendly so it fits into any lifestyle.

Need a quick healthy vegetable to go along side your baked chicken or grilled steak?  Cabbage can simply be sautéed with butter, salt and pepper for an easy side dish.  Simply core a 2 pound head of cabbage and slice thinly.  Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan.  Add the cabbage, stir occasionally, and voila!  In 15 minutes you have a super side dish.

Let’s review.  Cabbage is a really healthy flavorful flexible super food.  It packs a nutritional punch with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease fighting properties.  If that isn’t enough, let me give you one more reason to try cabbage.  Cabbage contains beta-carotene, and that contributes to the growth and repair of the body’s tissues, and that may help protect your skin against sun damage.  All great stuff!  Its time to try cabbage again, so pick a recipe, cook it up, and enjoy a good contribution toward wellness!

Disclaimer: You have to take the good with the bad. Not only does it create a unique and somewhat lingering  scent when you cook it, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable.  That is a fancy way of saying that it is a gas producing veggie.  Yup, you’re gonna fart.  Do not let that stop you from enjoying this delicious vegetable, but eat it with folks you know really well!