Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Don't Throw Out the Pickle Juice!

There is a first time for everything, for me, it is using pickle juice.  I know that it is a regular thing for many cooks to use pickle juice in their potato salad.  Until recently, I had always made my own oil and vinegar mixture for marinating the potatoes and seemed to be stuck in my ways.  That is why when I was presented with this recipe, I just had to "follow directions".  Just what has cooks singing pickle juice praises was something I wanted to know. 

I tossed my fresh cooked potatoes with the pickle juice, just as directed.  What I learned is that pickle juice offers up a smooth tangy flavor with just a hint of sweet.  This was a flavor that makes potato salad dance!  It was delicious....

All-American Potato Salad
adapted from The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook

Yield: 8-10 servings

3 large eggs
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 Tbsp dill pickle juice, plus 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped dill pickles
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
1/4 tsp paprika, for garnish

Bring the eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and one quart of water to a boil in a saucepan.  When it reaches a boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.  Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool for about five minutes, then peel and coarsely chop the eggs.  Set aside.

Place potatoes in a large pot.  Add enough cold water to cover them by an inch.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add one teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low.  Allow the potatoes to simmer until they are tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain and spread the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet.

Mix two Tablespoons pickle juice and mustard together in a small bowl,drizzle the mixture over the hot potatoes and toss until coated evenly.  Refrigerate until cooled, about half an hour.

Mix the remaining Tablespoon of pickle juice, chopped pickles, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, sour cream, red onion, and celery in a large bowl.  Add the cooled potatoes and toss.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.  Just before serving fold in the chopped eggs.  Sprinkle the mixture with the paprika and the chopped parsley prior to serving.


This met the taste test.  I will definitely make it again.  Will I give up the usual way that I marinate warm potatoes?  No.  I have just added another choice to the repertoire!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mac and Cheese Salad with Chipotle

We eat our fill of macaroni salad and potato salad during the warm months.  There is just something about it that says tasty!  I love the tanginess of the two salads and since they are a cold dish, I can think "cool"!

I recently prepared a Macaroni Salad with Cheese and Chipotle for a gathering of friends.  It was a new recipe but friends do not mind being guinea pigs!  The only thing I was nervous about was that the recipe called for three tablespoons of chipotle....you know that was destined to be a super spicy hot side dish!  Since I didn't want to run my friends off, I decided to add the chipotle a tablespoon at a time and taste test in between.  It seemed the prudent thing to do.

There was one little thing that happened....at least, I thought it had happened....I was squeezing my lemon juice into the salad when I heard a pop.  Thought about it and kept on mixing.  It kept niggling at me.  Upon investigation I noticed that one screw on the lemon juicer was missing...hmmmm....had it already been missing and I hadn't noticed, or, did it just then pop into the macaroni salad?

I poked around in the salad with a fork and didn't find anything...but, this was a ton of salad and the screw was tiny.  Since I really didn't want anybody to break a tooth, an additional search was necessary.  So, a spoonful at a time was removed from the bowl and checked for a screw!  While one was not found, I did give fair warning to friends, just in case!

This wasn't a king cake, nobody got the prize for finding something strange in the salad!

Macaroni Salad with Cheddar and Chiptole
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Yield:  12-15 servings

1 1/2 pounds large elbow macaroni
1/2 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/2 cup minced red onion
3 ribs celery, minced
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3 Tbsp lemon juice
5 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 1/4 cups mayonnaise

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta plus 1 1/2 Tbsp salt and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.  Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water until cool.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the cheddar, onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic powder and cayenne.  Add the chipotle a tablespoon at a time, taste testing in between.  Or, if you are brave, add all three tablespoons at once.  Let the mixture sit until the flavors are absorbed.

Stir in the mayonnaise and allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes while the may is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Test Kitchen says that the salad may be refrigerated for up to a day.  They recommend mixing in 1 Tablespoon of hot water at a time to refresh the salad prior to serving.


We decided that we would definitely make this again.  There was something about the sharp cheddar and the tang of the chipotle.  Delicious!

You will be happy to know that I am the proud owner of a new lemon juicer!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Slow Cooker Salmon Chowder #soupswappers

I gave Terry a choice today.  Should I make a Salmon Chowder or a Thai Crab and Corn Chowder?  I was leaning toward the crab.  He was leaning toward the salmon.  I leaned toward the slow cooker.  Salmon Chowder was the choice for Saturday Soup Swappers.

Today's chowder doesn't have a heavy cream base.  It is predominately clam juice with just a bit of cream and a dab of butter.  It was really perfect and I must admit that I was trepidatious. I am really used to making chowders of the creamy variety!  This isn't a brothy soup and only partially submerging the salmon allows it to poach in the herby broth.  Yummy!

Slow Cooker Salmon Chowder
adapted from the Food Network Kitchen

Yield:  4 servings

3 cups bottled clam juice
1 pound potato medley (red, yellow and purple), diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
12 sprigs dill
12 sprigs parsley
8 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 wide strip of lemon zest
1 pound fillet, skin removed, cut into four pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter

Chopped fresh chives
Chopped dill

In a large measuring cup, heat the clam juice until very hot.

Scatter the potatoes, celery, carrots, onion and garlic in a 6-quart slow cooker.  Tie the dill, parsley, thyme, lemon strip together with twine.  Lay the herb bundle on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.  Add the bay leaves.  Pour in the hot clam juice.  Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper.  Stir the heavy cream into the vegetable mixture.  Lay the salmon pieces on top, partially submerging them.   Cover and cook an additional 30-40 minutes.

Discard the herb bundle, remove the bay leaves.  Stir in the butter.  Season the chowder with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the broth and vegetables into a soup bowl and top with a piece of salmon.  Garnish the chowder with chopped chives and a sprinkle of dill and serve.


Chowder is the theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers.  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!  This Saturday is hosted by the chef who began the group, Wendy!  Thank you for all of your work!

I mentioned earlier I was trepidatious about making a chowder like this but I did get encouragement from Terry...to quote, "Everything you make is delicious, unless it's not...but that only happens every five of six years."  Ha!  This was not one of those years!

Friday, May 18, 2018

White Bean and Barley Soup #soupswappers

"Some days are like that...Even in Australia."  
(Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst)

We all can count upon having a bad day now and then, it is what happens.  What I try to remember is that there are those whose day is probably worse than mine, so, be strong, push through. The quotation from Judith Viorst's children's book has long been a quotation that I think of when things get tough.  But....my question is, does this also apply to months?  I think it must.  What a month it has been.  

In a span of five days my ninety-one year old mother had a big setback:  five falls, a trip to urgent care, two trips by ambulance to the emergency room, a three day stay in the hospital for observation and as a result, a need to change her living situation which entailed a move to a dementia care facility.  With that decision, the dominoes begin to fall in regard to moving. What to do with furniture, household items, etc.  I must say that I appreciate my niece.  She and her husband came to the rescue.  (I love it when needs match up!)

Meshed in among all of the above we was hosting a family dinner for visiting out of state family, a trip to Seattle to help my daughter as her hubby had to go to....wait for it....Australia.... I got sick so I wasn't really much help.....came home and began the laundry that had been piling up for a long while.  It was either do the laundry or go to the store and buy new necessities!  Watching the washing machine could be therapeutic.  Ha!   

Thankfully, I had made this easy, soothing, flavorful, and delicious Bean and Barley Soup before the dominoes began falling!  It is Saturday!  It is the third Saturday of May!  I am to make a soup with the theme that Paula at The Saucy Southerner selected for the Soup Saturday Swappers: Let's Go Meatless!

What I learned in making this soup was that all vegetable broths are not created equal.  The broth that I found at Trader Joe's exceeded the other brand I had purchased...hands down!  If you haven't tried it...do so!

White Bean and Barley Soup
adapted from Eating Well

1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried basil
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup quick cooking barley
6 oz package baby spinach (about 6 cups)
1/4  cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onion, fennel, garlic, and basil.  Stirring frequently, cook the mixture until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes.

Mash about 1 cup of the beans.  Add the mashed beans, remaining whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot and stir.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer.  Stir the mixture occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach leaves cooking until wilted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cheese and pepper.

Notes:  The soup may be refrigerated for up to three days.  It freezes well for up to six months.


This would be a great soup for a girls' luncheon served with some crusty bread!  I know that I will definitely make this soup again.  In fact I have some friends coming next week....all I need is the fennel!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Red Wine Beef Stew #soupswappers

It is Saturday!  It is the third Saturday of April!  It is spring...or supposed to be!  I am supposed to make a soup with the theme that Camilla, at Culinary Adventures with Camilla selected for the Soup Saturday Swappers:  Spring Has Sprung

The only problem I have is that it is winter outside.  So, I do believe I am a failure at making a soup that has spring vegetables.  We really were craving comfort food, I mean it was going down to 38°.  I know that there are some folks out there with even colder weather....I'm sorry your spring looks like winter!  What I do know is that you would be comforted with this super, slow cooked Red Wine Beef Stew!

Red Wine Beef Stew
adapted from NY Times Recipes

Marinating Mixture
3 1/2 - 4 pounds beef stew. cut into large pieces
2 large sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
12 juniper berries
1/2 bottle red wine (red table wine or cabernet works well)

In the Pot
Salt and fresh ground pepper
4 garlic cloves  (1 smashed, 3 minced)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 stalks celery
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 1/2 onion, chopped
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and diced
3-4 slices bacon, cut into lardons
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tomato paste

Bouquet garni (2 sprigs fresh thyme 2 sprigs rosemary and parsley, 2 bay leaves, 6 juniper berries, 4 whole cloves, 1 tsp dried orange peel, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied.

1/2 bottle
Chicken broth, as needed
3 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.  Mix well.  Place the meat and marinade into a large zip lock bag or bowl and refrigerate.  Marinate for at least two hours or up to a day.

After the meat has marinated, strain off the marinade and reserve for cooking.  Drain the meat on paper towels and pat dry.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Prepare the vegetables:  cut the celery and carrots into large chunks.  Peel and dice the onion.  Peel and dice the potato. Set aside.

Prepare a large, heavy pot with a tight fitting lid by placing it on the stove and rubbing the bottom with the smashed and peeled garlic clove coating it with the garlic's oils.  Discard the garlic.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil in the pot until shimmering.  Add half of the meat and brown gently on both sides.  When browned, remove the meat to paper towels to drain.  Repeat with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and meat.  Then return the all the meat to the pot.

Heat the oven to 250° F.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon lardons until crisp.  Cook gently until the fat renders.  When the bacon is close to finished, add the onions, celery, carrots, and minced garlic.  Cook stirring, until softened and golden, about ten minutes.  Increase the heat, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring until sizzling and fragrant.  Add the bouquet garni, reserved marinade and potato.  Let the mixture bubble rigorously for 5 to 10 minutes until the liquid is thickened and syrupy.  Transfer the mixture to the heavy pot with the meat.

Pour the remaining half bottle of red wine to the pot.  If needed, add enough chicken broth so that the ingredients are covered.  Stir to combine.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Place the lid on the pot and bake four to five hours.  At four hours, test the meat for doneness.  It should be soft enough to eat with a spoon and the sauce should be thick.  If after four hours, the liquid appears thin, remove the lid from the pot and bake uncovered for the remaining time.

When done, let cool slightly.  Remove and discard the bouquet garni and the celery chunks.  To thicken the stew, smash some of the carrots and potatoes with a fork.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Garnish each serving with thyme leaves and chopped parsley.


 Copycat soup recipe is the theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers!  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cheese, Leek and Potato Pasties - SRC

Today is special.  It is a reunion and I am so excited!  For a number of years, I participated in a group called the Secret Recipe Club.  Each month we were assigned a blog and asked to select a recipe to prepare and share.  It was so much fun.  It made me get out there and really look at another blogger's work.  I prepared dishes that I probably would never have tackled if left to my own devices...you know how it is...your own little recipes, routine and rotation.  It is easy to fall back into that MOD.   I must admit as I examined my "little rotation", I noticed that a number of recipes were those that I found on a Secret Recipe Club blog!  It made me smile.

For the reunion I was assigned Maxine's lovely blog, WHYIAMNOTSKINNY. I have visited Maxine's blog a number of times as she was my assigned blogger in 2016.  At that time I was searching for food that could travel so I made Maxine's wonderful blueberry muffins.  This time, I was just looking with no idea of where I was headed. It was kind of like a kid in a candy store. So many choices and I could only have one.

You see, WHYIAMNOTSKINNY is impressive!  Not only does Maxine love food, cook and share recipes, she has written many restaurant reviews.  Maxine and her work are well known in Brussels and the blogging community.  She loves to share "food gathering" experiences...and you know what?  She is right.  All of us gather together around food. We bring family together for birthdays, holidays and other special occasions.  We meet friends for brunch, lunch and dinner....  Food is a focal point and I am thrilled to be able to share WHYIAMNOTSKINNY with you today.

As I searched through the recipe index, my eyes landed on the word "pastie".  This just could be it, Cheese Leek and Potato Pasties! I read a lot of historical fiction and every character is always grabbing a pastie for a meal.  It was definitely time for me to expand my horizons, so to speak, and prepare and grab pasties for our meal!!  I loved the idea of using puff pastry.  The only thing that I did differently was add bacon so it would appeal to Mr. T.

Leek, Cheese, and Potato Pasties

Yield: 4 pasties
Preheat oven:  350°
Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment.

2 small potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp butter
2 small leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned, split in half lengthwise and finely sliced
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg (14 oz.) puff pastry
flour for dusting
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 egg beaten
3 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

In a medium fry pan, cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain and crumble.

In a saucepan boil the potatoes in salted water until tender but still holding shape.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the leeks and cook on medium until softened, about 10-12  minutes.

Drain the potatoes.  Add them to the leeks along with the seasonings.  Stir in the cream.  Add the bacon and stir. Set the mixture aside to cool.

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to the thickness of about 1/8 inch.  Using a small bowl with a diameter of 6 inches, cut out four to six circles.

Mix the cheese with the leek and potato mixture.  Scoop about 1/4-1/3 cup of the mixture into the center of each pastry.

Brush beaten egg around the edges.  Bring the opposite sides to the center and crimp the edges with fingers.  During this step you will be able to determine if you have too little or too much filling.  Brush a little egg over the outside of the pasties.

Place the formed pasties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake pasties at 350° for 40-45 minutes.


Reunions are fun and this one was especially so. Thank you, Sarah for bringing us all together again!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Puerto Rican Asopao #soupswappers

Puerto Rican Asopao....What is asopao?  An asopao is a Puerto Rican rice soup.  It is one of those dishes that can be a soup, a gumbo, or a stew.  Rice is the one consistent ingredient.  The protein will vary from chef to chef....for today's soup, stew, gumbo...probably more like a stew or gumbo as this dish wasn't very soupy, the protein is seafood:  shrimp and rockfish.

The soup starts with a sofrito which is a Caribbean sauce made of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and herbs.  It was a lovely base for this soup!

Today I was challenged to prepare a soup that would Say Goodbye to Winter.  One that would soothe my soul and chase away the winter blues...for me, that is soup with some type of seafood.  I always associate seafood with spring, summer or fall...but, never winter.  It is usually a dish on the lighter side and as it warms up, I have to say goodbye to all of the wonderful comfort foods I have been enjoying!  This soup has a hint of spring featuring shrimp and rockfish.

Say Goodbye to Winter is hosted by Sally at Bewitching Kitchen  Thank you for making me think of spring!  It was a delicious bowl of soup!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Puerto Rican Asopao
adapted from Coastal Living Magazine

Yields:  4 servings

1 red pepper, chunked
1 small tomato, quartered
1/2 onion, rough chop
1 jalapeno chile, stem, seeds removed
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp smoked paprika (The amount may be adjusted up or down based on preference.)
1 cup Sofrito
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt, divided
6 cups water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 pounds firm white fish fillets, cut into 1-in. cubes (snapper, rockfish, etc.)
1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 tomatoes diced (about 2 cups)

1/2 white onion, small chop
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 lemons or limes cut into wedges
2 jalapeno chiles, thinly sliced

Prepare the sofrito.
In a blender process all of the sofrito ingredients until finely chopped and incorporated.  (Process just enough so that there are no large chunks in the mixture.)

Prepare the asopao.
Heat oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium high heat.  Add the paprika and cook until fragrant.  Add the sofrito and the tomato paste.  Cook, stirring often until the mixture is fragrant and slightly reduced, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the rice and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring, until slightly toasted.  Add 1 Tablespoon salt.  Add the water, vinegar and bay leaf then bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cover.  Cook until the rice is almost tender, about 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the seafood.  Season the fish with the remaining 1/2 Tablespoon of salt.  Uncover the stockpot, nestle the fish, shrimp and tomatoes in the rice.  Cover and cook until the rice and fish are fully cooked, about another 15 minutes.  Remove the soup from the heat and allow to stand for five minutes.  

Garnish the soup with any or all of the toppings.


We both enjoyed this soup, stew, gumbo....on that day the sun was shining...the trees were blooming and the citrus is offering tiny little buds to make us smile!  Thank you, Sally!

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