A Dish from the Garden. Summer String Bean Salad with White Zinfandel Salad Dressing.

Since my husband retired last year he was looking forward to starting up a vegetable garden again. Really just the basics to pique his interest. Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, yellow wax beans, and string beans. The zucchini plants didn’t make it this year otherwise I’d be posting one of my many versions of zucchini bread. The herb garden did well with lots of fresh Basil, Parsley (flat and curly), Rosemary, Chives and some Oregano. I hope to expand it a bit more next year. This dish starts with great produce from the garden or your local vegetable stand. Here is my delicious Summer String Bean Salad with White Zinfandel Salad Dressing.

This recipe has no measurements. You can make as much as you need and season to taste. It’s a very flexible recipe.

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Summer Bean Salad

Fresh Blue Lake Green Beans, cook or steam but leave a bit firm.  (I used a combination of green beans and yellow wax bean this time)

Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half

Mozzarella cut into small bite-size cubes (You can also use Feta cheese or any semi-soft cheese to your liking cut into small bites)

Fresh garlic, grated fine on a Microplane. How much you use is up to your personal taste

Add your favorite herbs of choice. The dish in the photo has a chiffonade of some basil and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the bean salad with your favorite Oil & Vinegar dressing, or a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Here is one of my favorite ways to make salad dressing.

 

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White Zinfandel Salad Dressing

1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar (I used Colavita)

3 Tbsp. Water

1 pouch Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup White Zinfandel Wine

Pour Vinegar, Water, Olive oil and white zinfandel into a Salad Shaker. Then add contents of the Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix. Shake until well blended. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before using it.

I hope you will enjoy this dish and thank you for visiting my blog. Please share this site with family and friends.

 

 

Baked Parmesan Tilapia in the Instant Pot Vortex Oven with Basil Penne on the side.

I had been away a bit longer than I had planned. Since the beginning of Summer, my weekend time where I usually enjoy writing about my cooking adventures has been filled with vacation time, house projects, and several milestone birthday parties that needed planning, all great times but it means time away from my computer. So I am trying to pull back the reins to get back on track which can be difficult when you are an easily distracted person like myself.

One of the most exciting things I purchased while on vacation was an Instant Pot Vortex Oven. It is just what I needed now that we are empty nesters and don’t necessarily need to use our larger oven for smaller weeknight meals. Years back I had one of those Showtime Rotisseries which I loved using, but unfortunately during a kitchen renovation when we put it in storage the oven was damaged and became unusable. I enjoyed having a rotisserie for roasting chickens and roasts. While the IP Vortex is a bit smaller than the Showtime Rotisserie it will still do the job perfectly. So I have been having fun making dishes this hot Summer while avoiding heating up the house which is a plus.

Here is a photo of my first time cooking in the IP Vortex making chicken wings in the rotisserie basket and I also made home cut fries that turned out great.

One hot night this past week, I made an easy Baked Parmesan Tilapia in the IP Vortex oven. You can easily adapt this recipe to be made in any oven.

Baked Parmesan Tilapia

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two large pieces of Tilapia fish fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning for rubbing on to the fish
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • coarse ground black pepper to taste

On a plate or small cutting board sprinkle the Old Bay seasoning on both sides of the fish. Mix the mayonnaise, parmesan cheese and garlic powder in a small bowl. With the fish still on the plate apply the mayonnaise mixture to the top of the fish. Transfer the fish to the baking tray. I set the oven to bake then baked these two lovely pieces of fish at 380 degrees for 12 minutes. They came out golden brown, moist and delicious. I served the fish with a few lemon slices and a side dish of penne pasta tossed with pesto made with fresh basil from our garden.

Basil Pesto Sauce

3 cups fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts walnuts, almonds, pignoli (pine) nuts or pecans
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a food processor, blend together basil leaves, nuts, garlic, and cheese. Pour in oil slowly while still mixing. Stir in salt and pepper. Toss over warm pasta. (Note: You may want to reserve a cup of the pasta water to thin the pesto sauce should you feel it is a bit too thick)

Enjoy, and thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you will share it with family and friends.

Mother’s Day Planning – Luncheon Ideas

 

vintage mothers day

Thought I would post a few days early as Sunday I’ll be busy with my family and I thought I would share some Mother’s Day food ideas for anyone looking. I was always one to do lots of things for my mother throughout the year but I made sure I would do something a little extra special for Mother’s Day. Twice we took mom out to dinner and it was really a big mistake, restaurants are super busy, long wait times and they are looking to turn over tables as quick as possible, leaving you feeling rushed through a meal. So instead I would plan a nice day with an extra special dinner or Spring luncheon. Lunch was often a perfect choice, we would have the entire afternoon to enjoy being together and share some Springtime dishes.

The dining table would be nicely set and a floral centerpiece to pretty things up. Here are an assortment of the recipes I used over the years.

Sunshine Salad

I found this recipe years ago. When prepared for an evening meal, it’s called “Sunset Salad”.

8-10 Servings
Prep: 10 min. + chilling
Ingredients
•1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits
•1 can (11-15 ounces) mandarin oranges
•1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding
•1 cup quartered strawberries
•1 cup sliced ripe bananas

Directions

Drain pineapple and oranges, reserving juices. In a large bowl,
combine pudding mix with reserved fruit juices. Fold in pineapple,
oranges and strawberries; chill for at least 2 hours. Add bananas
just before serving. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

You can serve this salad on rolls, sandwiches cut in triangles or fill shells made from biscuits.

2 whole boneless chicken breasts
1 stalk celery
1 onions, quartered
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2-2 cups mayonnaise (depending on how wet you like your chicken salad)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dill (optional)
Directions
Place chicken, celery stalk and onion in saucepan with water to cover.
Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done.
Drain and discard onion and celery.
Let chicken cool.
In a food processor chop chicken.
In a medium sized bowl combine chicken with mayonnaise, salt& pepper, parsley, dill seed, chopped celery and lemon juice.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Orzo Salad

orzo salad 2

8 ounces orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in olive oil, vinegar, red onion, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Salad Nicoise

Romaine Hearts
4 Hard-boiled eggs
1 can artichokes
Steamed Green Beans
3 Roma tomatoes cut into wedges
Nicoise olives (Greek pitted Olives)
Potatoes cooked and cut into quarters
1 sweet red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cans of white solid tuna
Anchovies
Dressing
1 garlic clove minced
Lemon Juice
olive oil
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Optional – Fresh chopped basil

Separate romaine heart leaves and arrange on a platter. Arrange hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters, green beans, artichokes, tomatoes, potatoes, and olives decoratively over lettuce leaves. Add the anchovies and onion rings. Break up tuna and arrange over vegetables. Drizzle with dressing.

Cucumber and Onion Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups sliced cucumbers
1 small onion (sliced thinly)

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt. Add cucumbers and
onions; stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Yield: 6-8
servings.

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Deli Style Tuna Salad

You can easily make as much as needed by doubling or tripling.

One 6 oz can albacore tuna
1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped onion
2 Tbsps drained sweet pickle relish
4 Tbsps mayonnaise
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor and process until consistency of pate.

Tomato & Onion Salad

3 large Tomatoes – sliced into wedges or slices if your prefer
1 small to medium sweet red onion – size depends how much onion you prefer
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaf (or ½ teaspoon dried basil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Directions:

Peel the onion and cut into thin rings. Add slice vegetables into a glass bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour over tomatoes and onions.
Cover and allow to stand 30 minutes at room temperature or longer, refrigerated.

Serve with a nice loaf of bread.
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Rainy Day Comfort Food – Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Mac and Cheese Casserole

Even though the calendar says it’s Spring there still may be a bit of a chill in the air and right now we have hit several weeks of on again off again rain.  So it’s still a bit early for starting to make those lighter warm-weather dishes and my old stand-by comfort foods still have a chance to be made once again. So why not make a dish of my homemade baked macaroni & cheese. I know there are many preferences on how people enjoy their mac & cheese, anywhere from the “blue-box” to a thick creamy sauce stirred with pasta and sometimes baked or served as is. I have made and enjoyed them with my family so you won’t get any arguments from me.

While I was growing up my mother made a baked macaroni and cheese casserole that we loved and I pretty much make it the same way. Over the years I made a slight revision to my mother’s recipe to make it just a bit richer by adding two eggs to the milk so it has a more custard-like consistency. I also on occasion add other cheeses to the shredded cheddar like Mozzarella or Fontina when I have it on hand to vary the taste and creaminess.

classic make and cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

You will need: A deep casserole dish or pan

1 lb Elbow macaroni (sometimes I use shells or Cavatappi)

Block of a good quality Sharp or Mild cheddar cheese (about 4 cups shredded) I have on occasion mixed other cheeses to the cheddar like adding Mozzarella or Fontina when I had some left over.

1 Quart (4 cups) Whole Milk

2 Eggs,  beaten

1 Stick of Butter

Ground Black Pepper (as desired)

Directions:

Boil pasta according to the package in salted water, al dente works perfectly.

Drain.

Butter a deep casserole dish

Add the two beaten eggs to the quart of milk and mix well

Place a layer of macaroni (about 1/3), enough to cover the bottom, of the casserole dish. Dot with some butter.

Add a layer of the shredded cheese covering the macaroni.

Repeat these layers until you are out of pasta – the top layer is cheese. Don’t push down on the macaroni or it will make it too dense.

Slowly pour milk/egg mixture over the casserole until the milk almost reaches the top of the casserole dish.

Dot top layer of cheese with butter and ground pepper

Bake uncovered for about 50-60 minutes in a 350-degree oven depending on how crisp you like the top, just make sure the milk mixture has turned to a custard-like consistency when a knife is inserted into the casserole.

You’ll know it is finished cooking when the milk is no longer liquid and is custard-like.

Serves 6 – Cook time and servings are approximate.

A secret to switching up this recipe: If you want to push this recipe over the top my daughter sometimes adds BBQ pulled pork in between the layers when building the casserole. It’s fantastic!

 

St. Patrick’s Day – Corned Beef Dinner

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Taking the day off as it’s been a fun birthday week for me so I thought I would repost last years St. Patrick’s Day meal. This year I am planning to make my corned beef in the Instant Pot so I will post how it turned out on next weeks blog. I love the recipe that I’ve made for years but thought it’s time to mix things up a bit. One year I did try a version made in the slow cooker and it was a bit of a disappointment, so let’s see how the pressure cooker does.

So just click the links below and enjoy!

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Honey Glazed Corned Beef and Colcannon

 

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Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick’s Day in the Kitchen – Honey Glazed Corned Beef & Colcannon

shamrock knot

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday I get the opportunity to make my favorite Irish dishes on the day.
I know there are lots of way of preparing corned beef, plain boiled or simmered in Guinness. I’ve tried many recipes over the years and I’ve had discussions and even disagreements about how to cook it. About 15 years ago I discovered a recipe that has remained a favorite at our house. There are similar versions of this recipe if you search the web but this version is our family favorite.

An Irish Kitchen Prayer

Bless us with good food,
The gift of gab and hearty laughter.
May the love and joy we share
Be with us ever after.
Amen

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Honey Glazed Corned Beef

• Prep Time: 10 mins
• Total Time: 3 1/4 hrs
• Servings: 8

Ingredients
4 lbs corned beef brisket
2 quarts water or enough water to cover the corned beef
1 tablespoon pickling spices – they may come in a packet with the corned beef
2 cups Apple Juice
1 large white onions
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
2 garlic cloves

Glaze
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Directions
1. In a large stock pot, combine corned beef, water, apple juice, pickling spices, whole vegetables, and garlic. (The veggies and garlic are optional) Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 3 hours. (You may use a crockpot for this, cooking 4-6 hours on high.)
2. Place a cooling rack in a shallow baking pan or dish. Transfer brisket from cooking liquid, placing fat side up on the rack.
3. Combine honey, brown sugar, mustard and ginger to make a glaze. Spoon glaze over meat.
4. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350*F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to serving plate.
5. Makes 8 servings.

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2017 St Pat veggies

Often I have served traditional boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes as side dishes. One of my alternate side dishes is Colcannon. I haven’t made it in a while so I’ll be making it this year for change.

colcannon

Colcannon 

Colcannon is a popular version of Irish mashed potatoes.

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, finely diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 leek stalks, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced
• 1 small savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
• 6 large white-flesh potatoes peeled, boiled, and lightly mashed
• 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1. Boil the potatoes until just cooked. Drain and allow to cool.
2. On medium heat, begin by sautéing the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the leeks and continue to sauté for 15 minutes.
3. Add the cabbage and continue to sauté for 15 minutes. You will want the cabbage, leeks, and onions to really cook down and wilt.
4. While the leeks, onions, and cabbage mixture is cooking, prepare the boiled potatoes by giving them a rough mash, these aren’t supposed to be creamy potatoes so do not over mash them. Place the potatoes back into the pot.
5. Add the leek and cabbage mixture to the potatoes and fold in. Turn the heat to medium, add the butter, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
6. When the potatoes are heated through, toss in the freshly chopped parsley. Fold into the mixture and serve. Add a dollop of Irish butter.

Don’t forget to make the Irish Soda bread and serve with some of that yummy Irish butter!

2018 Irish Soda Bread