Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shrimp Louie Pasta Salad

My friend, Cathy, at Wives with Knives is a wonderful cook!  I always know that if she recommends a recipe, it is spot on.  That is the way I felt about the Shrimp Louie Pasta Salad that she shared last summer.  I cannot believe that it actually took me so long to make it.  I can tell you that it won't be that long before I make it again.  It was so delicious.   

I have taken it to two meetings...and each time it disappeared.  I think it is time to make it for us...

Cathy gives the history of the Louie salad and dressing in her post.  Let it be said that she is right...this is a West Coast delight!  This particular version of the salad doesn't use the traditional Louie dressing, just the traditional ingredients.  I think when I make it next, I will try it with the traditional dressing and maybe serve it in half of an avocado.  That sounds like a plan....I can hardly wait!

Shrimp Louie Pasta Salad
adapted from Wives with Knives

1 pound cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp
8 ounces macaroni pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tbsp red onion, minced
5 hard boiled eggs, 3 chopped for the salad, 2 quartered and set aside for garnish
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill,  or 1 teaspoon dried dill
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle a small bit of paprika over the top.

Slice the cooked shrimp in half lengthwise.  Add it to the pasta in a large bowl along with the celery, relish, tomatoes, red onion, 3 chopped hard boiled eggs, the parsley and dill.

MIx the mayonnaise and lemon juice together and stir until smooth. Combine it with the pasta mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish:  Arrange the egg quarters over the top and sprinkle with a small bit of paprika.

Make several hours up to a day ahead so the flavors meld.


This is the perfect summer salad and works well as a main dish or as a side.

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Kitchen and at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spanish Tapas with Savory Manchego Crackers!

Spanish tapas for was an evening filled with some new and wonderful flavors, Sangria and wine! It was a relaxed evening with friends and the perfect way to start a weekend.  This was the evening that started with these wonderful Savory Manchego Crackers, a variety of Spanish cheeses, Serrano ham slices, and quince paste along with a few Marcona almonds and ended with the Magic Chocolate Flan Cake!!  And if I had pictures of all of the wonderful "tapas that were in between", I would tell you about them, too!

I really like manchego cheese.  It is a cheese made from sheep's milk and comes from the La Mancha region of Spain which was also the home to Don Quixote.  I think it is the first cheese that I had that was made from sheep's milk and given how much I love lamb, I wasn't certain that I was going to really like it....but, it won my heart a few years ago, so naturally I jumped at the chance to make these wonderful savory crackers.

As I prepared the crackers I learned a lesson about softened butter.....I had to make two batches for us....  I had set the butter out early in the morning but didn't get around to making the crackers until the afternoon.  The butter was very soft.  Everything mixed up easily and crackers turned out perfectly. For the most part I was a happy girl.  The second batch was different....the butter wasn't quite as soft and I do not think it mixed in as smoothly.  Consequently, I had a few crackers that looked like pancakes!

Anyway, I loved these flavorful crackers!  They were perfect.

Savory Manchego Crackers
adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves:  24
Preheat Oven:  350° F.

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
5 ounces Manchego cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup crisp rice cereal

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In the mixer bowl, beat the butter, cheese, pepper and salt until combined. Gradually stir in the flour until just incorporated.  Add the rice cereal until combined.

Form rounded tablespoons for dough into disks that are about 1 1/2 inches across.  Place the disks on the backing sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It's a Picnic, Blogger CLUE!

Don't you just love picnics?  I have loved them since I was a little girl.  I remember going to the park for my dad's company picnic.  There was so much to do and so much to eat...hamburgers, hot dogs, deep pit barbecue, beans, salad, drinks....great fun!  Then there was the picnic with friends where I met my husband...I can still remember what I wore...can't remember a thing about what we ate but it must have been good.  I don't think I was focused on the food at that picnic.  You see, picnics are fun!

That is why I was so excited for this month's Blogger CLUE post.  Bet you can't guess the theme...yep, picnic food!  I was assigned Debra's blog, Eliot's Eats.  Debra made it hard this month because I found so many things that could be taken on a picnic.  Since I was having trouble narrowing it down, I decided that since picnics of my past were so much fun, I would have a retro picnic on the patio.

I decided to make a standard, Barbecue Baked Beans.  I found a recipe for Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce and Tony Roma's Carolina Honeys, either would be perfect for the beans.  And then, what could be more retro than a recipe that Debra said was from Betty Crocker's Party Book published in 1960?  For some reason, the picture of the Chickenburger-in-a-Basket made me think of a lobster roll.  I couldn't get it out of my mind so it had to come on the picnic but, lobster for me....just chicken.

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce
adapted from Eliot's Eats

2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the minced garlic for one minute.  Be careful not to burn it.

Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan.  Whisk to combine.  

Heat the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low and simmer uncovered.  Simmer for 45-60 minutes.  When the mixture thickens, remove it from the heat.

Store the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Baked Beans
adapted from Eliot's Eats

6 slices bacon, cooked crisp (reserve the bacon grease)
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 28-oz can of Pork and Beans, fat removed
1 15-oz can black beans, drain and rinse
1/2 cup Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Fry the bacon until crisp.  Remove it from the pan to paper towels to drain.  Crumble.

Add the onion to the bacon grease and saute until soft.  Remove the onion from the pan and drain.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce. Whisk.  Stir in the beans, bacon and onion.

Place the mixture into a baking dish and bake 45-60 minutes.


The beans were delicious.  We loved them both served hot and served cold.  Don't know why I love cold homemade baked beans but I do.  They went great with my sandwich at lunch the next day. This is a keeper recipe.  Terry couldn't get enough of them.

Now for my Lobster  Chickenburger Roll-in-a-Basket!  Debra says that these are ooey-gooey goodness.  I can't tell you how much I was fixating on this recipe and I do not know exactly why....I just knew that I had to make it.  Saying that, I had to shake my head...recipe adjustments ahead.  I remember my mom always spreading butter on the bread when she made a sandwich.  I cannot do it. "smile"

Chickenburger Roll-in-a-Basket
adapted from Eliot's Eats

Preheat oven:  350° F.
Serves 4

2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp sweet pickles relish
1 chicken breast, poached and diced or shredded (I used some rotisserie chicken.)
1 green onion, sliced
1 Tbsp diced red bell pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 oz. Third less fat cream cheese
Dash of Sriracha sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

4 soft rolls

Mix all of the ingredients together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Split and butter the buns, if desired.  Fill the buns with the chicken mixture.  Wrap the rolls in foil.

Heat the rolls in the oven for 15 minutes.


Both of us had to chuckle when we took our first sent us back a few years.  If I said it tasted soooo retro, you would understand.  I would actually make these again only with an updated recipe.  I would first omit or cut in half the cream cheese and then increase the pickle or pickle relish and the red pepper.  I would probably also add some green onion.  I think that is it...I can hardly wait for the next picnic so I can make those great Barbecue Baked Beans and yes, the Chickenburger Roll-in-a-Basket!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Spicy Mexican Chicken Salad

When the outside temperatures heat up, it would be crazy to turn on the oven or even use the stovetop for that matter, we turn to salads.  We wanted something a little different from what I usually make so today, I am sharing a Spicy Mexican Chicken Salad!

This was a super easy salad to make.  There really isn't anything that is fancy or takes a long time to do and, Terry put the chicken on the barbecue so the house didn't heat up!  I am certain he heated up but he is always willing to grill during this hot weather.  Bless him. It is early for 105° but that was today's temperature!

Spicy Mexican Chicken Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning, any brand should be fine.
2 heads of romaine lettuce or romaine hearts
1 pint mixed tomatoes (I used heirloom cherry tomatoes.)
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen white corn kernels
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (I cut the slices of bacon into small pieces about 1/2" wide and then cook.)
1/2 cup grated or crumbled queso fresco cheese

1/2 to 1 cup Ranch Dressing
1-2 tsp adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chile)

On the side:
Spicy Salsa

Preheat the grill.  Place the chicken on a baking sheet and use the taco seasoning as a rub on both sides of the chicken breasts.  

Cut the bacon slices into small pieces.  Cook and drain on paper towels.  

Chop the lettuce and then prep the remaining ingredients.

Mix up the dressing.

Cook the chicken on the BBQ until done, 165° is the recommended temperature for safe cooking of chicken breasts.  Allow the chicken to rest, then slice the breasts into medallions.

Pile the chopped lettuce on a large platter or in a shallow bowl.  Sprinkle the bacon, corn, and the black beans over the lettuce.  Place the chicken medallions down the center.  Arrange the tomatoes and avocados around the chicken.  Sprinkle the grated cheese around the outer edge.  Sprinkle the chopped green onion over everything.

Serve at once with salsa on the side.

I used 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce to 1/2 cup of Ranch Dressing.  You will want to taste and adjust the amount of adobo for you.
I served the salsa on the side to be added as desired.
You may wish to shred some jicama to add to the salad.
A little crunch can be added with the addition of some slivers of baked or fried tortilla strips.


This is one of those salads that you will eat more than once this summer!  Enjoy!!

I am sharing this week at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Kitchen and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Meyer Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing, SRC

There was quite a crop of Meyer lemons on the tree this year so naturally, I have been searching for recipes that featured lemon.  With that in mind, I decided to search for a versatile lemon recipe, not even certain what that would look like!  The best place to start was at my assigned blog for the Secret Recipe Club, Goodie Godmother.

It was obvious when I started that this wasn't going to be easy as I was being distracted by so many recipes that had nothing to do with lemons!  I spied Honey Vanilla French Toast, then there was the Cast Iron Skillet Pancake with Fresh Blackberry Champagne Compote....  That one kept popping up on my Facebook feed so it was really tough to resist.  Then there was Churros 101...there were so many temptations.  I even bumped into Chipotle Sweet Potato Latkas, that  one, I couldn't resist. Yes, I made them....but you aren't going to hear about them today.

Instead, I want to share the recipe for Meyer Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing!  It was perfect for what I had in mind.  I had decided that I was going to stretch a bit and use this lovely dressing on the green beans I was making.  It was certain to give them an additional pop of flavor.

Meyer Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing
adapted from Goodie Godmother

1 clove of garlic, crushed
zest from 1 Meyer lemon
1/4 cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, whole grain
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp heavy cream

Whisk together all ingredients, except the heavy cream, in a bowl or salad dressing cruet.
Stir in the heavy cream.
Refrigerate the dressing at least one hour to allow the flavors to meld.


True Confessions:  1) I grabbed the wrong container of mustard.  The whole grain mustard remained on the shelf and I didn't notice what I had done until I started mixing it up.  2) I used the frozen juice from my lemons consequently, there was no zest.

It was still delicious!  Terry loved the vinaigrette on the green beans and so did I.  After steaming the beans, I tossed them in a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette and then sprinkled a mixture of bread crumbs and grated parmesan over the top.

There is enough dressing leftover to have with our salad tomorrow.....see? Versatile!

Now for a little bit about Mary, the Goodie Godmother, who would sprinkle baked goods down upon her co-workers and was thusly dubbed.  Let's see, engineering, mathematics, an MBA, a dance studio and a bakery!  My goodness, what a path.  Presently Mary spends her time crafting recipes, caring for her daughter and honing her photography skills.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Do You Believe in Magic?

Do you believe in magic?  
When there's no rock 'n' roll?  
When there's no music?  
Do you believe like I believe?  

Well, I was a believer Saturday night! I had the most delicious piece of Magic Chocolate Flan Cake. Oh my goodness, there was no music but it did make me smile and there was music in fact, there was music around the table as everybody took a bite of dessert!

The magic is in the science.  Whomever says there isn't science hasn't baked!  The cake has three layers poured into a bundt pan in this order:  caramel sauce, cake batter, flan mixture.  During baking, the cake raises to the top or the flan sinks to the bottom...either way, they switch places.   It was a perfect combination and I thought it was beautiful!  Another plus for this cake is that it needs to be made a day in advance as it must be refrigerated for 8 hours. allowing the flan to set.

Magic Chocolate Flan Cake
adapted from Cook's Country

Serves:  16
Position oven rack to the middle
Preheat oven:  350°

Plan ahead:  
The cake must be baked in a water bath so you will need to check the size of your bundt and your roasting pan.  It must also chill for 8 hours after baking.  

1/2 cup caramel sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
4-ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups whole milk
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 eggs
4 egg yolks
1 tap vanilla extract

Cake:  Thoroughly grease a 12-cup bundt pan.  Microwave caramel until easily pourable, about 30 seconds.  Pour caramel sauce into the bottom of the bundt pan. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

Place chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl, heat until melted, 2 minutes at 50% power. Whisk buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla into chocolate until incorporated. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour batter over caramel.

Flan:  Add sweetened condensed milk. milk, cream cheese, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla to a blender, Blend until very smooth, about one minute.  Slowly pour flan mixture over cake batter.

Place a large roasting pan on the oven rack.  Place the bundt pan in the roasting pan.  Pour boiling water halfway up the sides of the bundt pan.  Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or when a toothpick comes out clean. (Test at 75 minutes.) The flan should register 180°.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.  Refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours to allow the flan to set.

To unmold, place the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 1 minute. Place a completely flat cake plate over the bundt pan and flip over. Slowly remove bundt pan allowing the caramel to drizzle over the top of the cake.  Serve with additional caramel sauce drizzled over the top of each piece.


This was a fun and tasty dessert.  We ate outside on this evening and all I had available was the cell phone.  The pictures aren't the best but you get the idea....

As for the magic has to do with density and displacement or maybe it is gas and physics and chemistry.  Yep, let's be has to do with physics and chemistry.

I also have to fess was my night for appetizers so the cake was prepared by our Master Chef, Bruce!  Thank you, Bruce for a great dessert.

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Kitchen!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Making Great Basic Meatballs!

For years I approached meatballs as a challenge.  Balls aren't supposed to have sides....How do I keep them round?  Why are they falling apart?  Are they done in the middle?  Why do they taste like a hamburger that was just tossed in a Marinara sauce?  Why go to all of the trouble to be disappointed? Greatly frustrated I took them off the they more meatballs.

Then, I read an article about the meatball's versatility...I think I rolled my eyes.   The article went on about making various sizes of meatballs...really?????  Just making one normal size meatball stay together and not be flat would be good for me....  Continuing on, the author said that meatballs were fried for extra flavor and a firm texture but that it wasn't necessary.  No frying and no mess?  I was listening...  The answer?  Baking.  The article said that baking the meatballs at a high temperature retains flavor and their texture.  I was paying attention.  No mess...I was smiling.

I learned three basic steps to great basic meatballs: mixing, shaping and cooking.

Mixing:  There are two steps.  Before adding the meat, blend all of the other ingredients together thoroughly.  Add the meat and combine using a fork.  The idea is not to overmix and compact the meat which will yield tough meatballs.

Shaping:  Use a scoop!  Why didn't I think of that?  Scooping and then rolling the meat into a ball gives uniformity.  (I turned in the two spoons that I had been using.  They worked for mom and they worked for my cousin...I never mastered spoons!)

Cooking:  Place the meatballs on a baking sheet after rolling them.  Pour in enough beef broth or stock to cover the bottom of the pan.  The beef broth keeps the meatballs juicy.  The drippings can be saved and used later in a sauce, if you like.

Basic Meatballs
adapted from Cuisine at Home, October 2002

Yield:  30 meatballs (about 1 1/2 oz each)
Preheat oven:  450°

1 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup beef broth or stock
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper (I always use's a matter of taste.)
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of nutmeg

1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
1 cup or more beef broth or stock for to cover the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, stir together all of the ingredients (except the ground meat).  Combine the meats with the bread crumb mixture.  Stir thoroughly with a fork. Using a scoop or two spoons, shape the meat mixture into balls that are about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in diameter.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Space the meatballs on the pan so that they are not touching or crowded.

Cover the bottom of the pan with beef broth.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the meatballs are just cooked through.  Reserve the pan juices for a sauce, if desired.

The original recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground chuck.  I like to use a mixture of beef and pork.  If you do not want a spicy meatball, reduce the amount of red pepper flakes by half.

The recipe makes more meatballs that we need for one meal.  I freeze the extra meatballs in a freezer bag for future use.


I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage!