THE Salad

The first summer we lived in TN, we invited a couple of students over for dinner to get to know them better.  I put this salad together, and it was dubbed “THE Salad”.

According to R, THE Salad tasted like summer.  Every time R comes home from college, we intend to have dinner and make THE Salad again, but it has yet to happen.  I will forever remember our evening spent talking and laughing around the table while enjoying THE Salad.

the salad 1

THE Salad

Greens & Veggies:
Enough for 4 servings
2 c chopped Romaine lettuce
2 c chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cucumber, diced
2 to 3 celery stalks, diced
1/2 c match-stick carrots
I add tomatoes seperately, husband doesn’t like ’em.

The stuff that makes it THE Salad:
shake & bake chicken  – 3 chicken breasts were enough for 4 servings
fresh sliced strawberries
fresh cubed buffalo mozzarella
pecan halves – toasted or candied
homemade croutons
Poppyseed dressing

the salad 2

For the croutons:  I had some cubed focaccia bread in the freezer to make breadcrumbs or croutons out of.  I tossed them in a couple splashes of olive oil and toasted them in a 400 degree oven for 10 min.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

When I was a working girl, one of my favorite lunch spots was Hof’s Hut.  A bowl of steamy chicken tortilla soup, a cool crisp salad and a side of garlic bread – heaven.  When I started to cook on my own more, I created my own version of chicken tortilla soup.  It changes a bit each time I make it, seasonings, ingredients, crockpot or stove top.  But each time it’s hot and filling and good.

chicken tortilla

Chicken Tortilla Soup

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 – 13 oz canned in water chicken breast pieces
4 oz can green chilies
15 oz can black beans – rinsed
1 cup corn – I like the fire roasted corn from Trader Joes
3/4 c to 1 cup chopped carrots
3/4 c to 1 cup chopped celery
3/4 c to 1 cup chopped onion
4 c low sodium chicken broth
2 to 3 c water (if needed)

All seasonings to taste:
salt – table or smoked sea salt (Trader Joes)
pepper
garlic
celery seed
onion powder
chili powder
cumin
few dashes of hot sauce
black pepper sauce (Trader Joes)
dried basil
South African smoke seasoning (Trader Joes)

Crock-Pot.  Combine tomatoes through onions in a 5 quart crock pot.  Pour in chicken broth and add water if needed to cover ingredients.  Season soup and turn on low setting for 5-6 hours.  Stir occasionally and taste to see if any further seasoning is needed.

Stove-Top.  Use a 5 quart dutch oven or heavy stock pot.  On medium to med-high heat, coat bottom of pot with olive oil.  Start with the onions and garlic, saute till the onions begin to turn clear.  Add carrots and celery, saute for another 2 minutes.  Add in corn and chicken, saute for another couple minutes, then add the tomatoes, chilies, beans and broth, using water if needed to cover ingredients.  Season your soup, and bring to a low simmer.  Turn heat to low and let sit until everything is heated through.

Serve with: Tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream or black olives.

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast

My last post told you about the wonderful Cinnamon Raisin Bread from “The Bread Bakers Apprentice”.  The day after it was baked, husband and I were talking about how good it might be as french toast.  It happened that same night as our dessert.

cinnamon raisin french toast 2

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast

2 eggs
1/2 c milk or heavy cream (or a combo of both)
2 tsp cinnamon sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I’m usually heavy handed when pouring vanilla)
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients, whisking to incorporate well.

Cut two thick (1 inch) slices of the cinnamon raisin bread and place in a shallow baking dish.

Pour egg mixture over the bread.  Refrigerate and let soak for 1 hour, turning after a half hour to be sure bread is soaked through.

Heat skillet on med-high heat, melting 1 tblsp of butter.

Cook till both sides are golden brown and serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup.  Or a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you’re so inclined…

cinnamon raisin french toast 3

Quiche

Oh Quiche.  What an easy friend, willing to take on any ingredients you may have on hand.  And this friend doesn’t mind stopping by for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This is a favorite in our house.  Served with fresh fruit for breakfast, or a light salad for dinner.  Bacon and cheese, pancetta and spinach or tomatoes and zucchini, its all wonderful.  Below is my basic recipe and a few variations.

quiche Collage

Quiche

prepared 9 inch pie crust
5 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1/4 c water
Spices to taste:
salt, pepper, chili powder, mustard powder, onion powder, celery seed, paparika

Pancetta & Spinach
4 oz chopped Pancetta
1 sm onion, finely chopped
1 c spinach
– thawed from frozen, or wilted fresh spinach
1 c grated cheese

Bacon, Mushroom and Cheese
5-7 slices of bacon, browned and drained
1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
1 cup shredded cheese

Tomato, Zucchini and Cheese
Layer ingredients from the bottom up, until the layers reach right below your pie pan lip.
Tomatoes (round slices)
Zucchini (round slices)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Italian Seasoning
Once layers have been completed, pour egg mixture over the top.

quiche 1

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  If using bacon or pancetta, brown and drain.  Place the pie crust in your pan.  Whisk together eggs, milk, water and spices.  Add other ingredients and pour into pie crust.

Bake for 40-45 min, until the middle is firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

quiche 2

Swedish Meatballs

Husband says it's easier to form balls if your fingers are damp. Keep a little bowl of water nearby for this purpose.

Husband says it’s easier to form balls if your fingers are damp. Keep a little bowl of water nearby for this purpose.

Have you had the meatballs at Ikea?  These meatballs are 10,000 times better than those.  And the recipe came from a Swede who grew up in Sweden.  You can’t get more authentic than that.

This is my mother in law’s recipe, she has told me most families in Sweden have their own version or technique, but I think her’s is the best.  And husband has learned to make these just like his mom.

This is a MUST for any holiday occasion at our house.

Fried in butter - YUM.

Fried in butter – YUM

Swedish Meatballs

2 to 3 lbs low fat ground beef (my subsitute 1 lb ground pork if desired)
1 c bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c whole or 2% milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tblsp worcestershire sauce
1 tblsp sugar
equivalent of 1 medium onion (minced, grated, finely chopped, crushed dry or powdered)
Butter for frying

Soften bread crumbs in milk.  Add the eggs, meat and seasonings and mix well.  This is best done in an electric mixer.  We will prepare the mixture a few hours before frying so all the flavors have a chance to blend together.

Form into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Fry in melted butter until browned.  Pan may need to be shaken around, keeping balls rolling to keep their shape.

Serve immediately.  Or keep warm in a Crock-pot on low – in a baking dish in a 325 degree oven.

swedish meatballs 3

Scrambled Enchiladas

My sister is the inspiration for this recipe.  She said something about scrambled enchilada’s one time and the below recipe is what came to my mind.  It’s a favorite in our house.

Scrambled Enchiladas

11 oz package corn tortillas
12 oz enchilada sauce
4 oz can diced green chilis
15 oz can balck beans – rinsed
1 – 1 1/2 c shredded cheese, plus more for topping

Options for meat (use only one):
2 c shredded beef – from this recipe
2 13oz cans of diced chicken in water
2 c shredded rotisserie chicken

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tortillas into small strips and combine with all ingredients in a large bowl.

Transfer mixture to a 13×9 pan.

Sprinkle top with extra cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

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This recipe is great with either chicken or shredded beef.  This could easily be made into a vegetarian dish with a can of diced tomatoes, a diced onion and a some diced zucchini.

Potsticker Soup

Growing up I had two favorites when my parents and I would go out for Chinese food.  Crispy egg rolls, and war wonton soup.  A couple years ago, Trader Joes had a recipe suggestion for their chicken potstickers to be used in a soup.  I took a simple recipe and altered it , my version of a war wonton soup.

Potsticker Soup

1 lb. package of chicken potsitckers – These come frozen at Trader Joes, be sure to thaw before you start this soup.
13 oz. can diced chicken in water – drained
9 oz. package of snap or sugar peas – rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion – chopped
1 heaping cup of carrots – I use Trader Joes matchstick carrots
8 cups of liquid
– generally I’ll use a carton of low sodium, nonfat chicken broth, approx. 4 cups, plus 4 cups of water.
– This time I used a turkey broth I made from the bones I had left over from Thanksgiving.

Seasonings – all to taste
Celery Seed
Ground Ginger
Chinese five spice powder
Minced garlic
Onion powder
Salt & Pepper

Heat your stock pot or dutch oven on med-high heat and add a touch of oil (I use grapeseed oil.) to cook the veggies.  Add the onions first and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the carrots and peas.  Season the veggies as they’re cooking to add depth of flavor to the soup.

When the onions have softened and your peas are a bright green (approx 3 minutes), add the chicken, potstickers and liquid.  Season soup again, cover and let sit until heated through.

As you can see, I added some shrimp to this go round.  I tossed to coat the shrimp with a blend of garlic powder, ground ginger, onion powder and Chinese five spice powder.  I cooked them on a med-low setting, turning a few times until pink.

This is soup is super easy and super yummy!  If only I could figure out how to make the BBQ pork that you get at Chinese restaurants, my soup would be complete!

Confetti Chili

As the weather cools I turn to soup, chili and stew as a staple in our diet.  When I make chili, it’s a Crockpot, whatever is on hand kinda thing.  Below is my basic recipe, please alter with whatever you may or may not have in your kitchen.

Oh, the blue Crockpot. It’s fugly, but it works.

Confetti Chili

Veggies/Beans:
Trader Joes Mirepoix
1 cup frozen corn – I like the TJ’s fire roasted corn
2 cans diced tomatoes – OR – 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce
1 can black beans – rinsed – OR – 1 can refried black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white kidney beans

Meat:
1 lb. stew meat – browned
1 lb. ground beef – browned
1 lb. ground turkey – browned
2 links chicken andouille sausage – cut into bite size pcs.
1 or 2 links smoked sausage – cut into bit size pcs.
1 heaping cup of diced rotisserie chicken
** I will only use 2 of these options.

Seasonings – these are all to taste:
Garlic
Chili powder
Cumin
Smoked Sea Salt – another TJ’s find
Pepper – it don’t matter if it’s black or white
Celery Salt or Celery Seed
Onion Powder – Penzeys has a great Toasted Onion Powder
TJ’s Black Pepper Sauce
TJ’s Habanero Hot Sauce
TJ’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend

If needed, add a little water to cover everything.

Everything goes in the Crockpot on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8.