Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pimento Stuffed Deviled Eggs with Pickled Okra

DSC_0552It’s Easter week and if you’re on the hunt for great recipes for the day, I have some. This year, I’ve created a variety of deviled eggs and this is one of the more unusual recipes.  The pickled okra is key in this recipe and ties it all together, so don’t skip it.

Follow your favorite method for boiled eggs.

Pimento Stuffed Deviled Eggs with Pickled Okra

6 large boiled eggs

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons drained pimento

2 tablespoons shredded cheddar

White part of a green onion

Salt and pepper to taste

Spicy pickled okra

Celery salt or seed

Place eggs yolks, mayonnaise, pimento, cheddar cheese and white part of a green onion in a food processor  Process until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add salt and pepper to taste but don’t go overboard on the salt because you will sprinkle these will celery salt or seed before serving.

Fill the eggs back with pimento mixture.

Cut a couple slices of spicy or regular pickled okra. Add a slice to each egg. Sprinkle with celery seed or celery salt before serving.

DSC_0538

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

What’s not to love about a deviled egg?

These little snacks are easy to prepare, inexpensive, high in protein, and cool on a hot day. I love to just pop one in my mouth.

 

This deviled egg combines some of my favorite flavors, smoked salmon, capers, red onion, and horseradish with a deviled egg.. I put horseradish sauce into the yolk mixture. If you use pure horseradish, then you definitely want to scale it back. I use Woeber’s Horseradish sauce which I find is the perfect balance of heat.

Everyone has their own method for boiling eggs, and if you have one, follow yours.

I like my eggs a little firm so I place eggs in a pot covered with cold water (always use large eggs).  Make sure the eggs are in a single layer and the water is at least 1 inch above the eggs. Bring to a boil and then boil 12-14 minutes (12 will do the job).  Then immediately drain off the water,  place the pot under the tap with cold water running and add 2 cups of ice cubes to the pot. When eggs have cooled down, refrigerate until time to use.

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

6 large boiled eggs

3 tablespoons Miracle Whip

1 tablespoon horseradish sauce

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 -2 ounces smoked salmon

18 capers

Slice eggs in half, and place egg yolks in a bowl and smash with a fork until the yolks are crumbs. Add the Miracle Whip, horseradish sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Top each egg with a slice of smoked salmon.  Sprinkle each egg with red onion and add 3 capers to each egg. Serve.

I made these and kept them for myself, served with a side salad for lunch. It was a high protein, low fat dish.

 

Potatoes Stuffed with Rotisserie Chicken in a Peanut Sauce

There has been a chill in the air all weekend which makes me crave comfort food. Stuffed potatoes takes me back to my childhood, but I have put a modern, and more healthy, twist on traditional baked potatoes.

I have always loved chicken with Asian chicken sauce. Until a trip to Indonesia, I made it Thai style with coconut milk, but an Indonesian woman taught me this recipe which I now use because it’s so easy and has minimal ingredients.

These serve as a main course and are inspired by chicken satay. This recipe is so easy! While the potatoes cook in the microwave, you can assemble everything else, including the sauce.  Then add a few condiments to adorn your dish and you are done.

 

Potatoes Stuffed with Rotisserie Chicken in a Peanut Sauce

Makes 4 modest portions or 2 large portions

2 large cooked Russet potatoes

2 rotisserie chicken breasts, shredded

Peanut Sauce (see recipe below)

2/3 cup shredded carrots

3 green onions

1 small cucumber, chopped

chopped cilantro to garnish

Peanut sauce:

½ cup boiling water

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon Tamari soy sauce

¼ teaspoon ginger paste

½ teaspoon lime juice

Note: This can serve as many as four if you use half a potato per person. We eat smaller dinners, so this is ample for my family, but some families may want a whole potato per person, in which case this will only serve two.

To microwave a regular potato, simply wash it, pierce it many times with a fork and then microwave for 4 minutes. Turn it over with tongs and cook another 3 minutes, until it’s super tender.

Pull breasts off chicken, shred with your hands and set aside.

To make the sauce, combine boiling water, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger paste and lime juice. Stir until well combined and smooth.

Pour half of the sauce over the chicken and stir to coat. Set it aside and slice the green onions, chop the cilantro and cucumber.

Slice the potatoes in half and place one half on each plate. Add salt and pepper. Take a fork and smash the inside and add 1 teaspoon peanut sauce to each potato. Next, top with shredded chicken, carrots, cilantro, onion and cucumber. Drizzle with remaining peanut sauce and serve.

Candied Pecans- marvelous gift

This is one of my top three most popular holiday food gifts. People are already asking me when my candied pecans will be ready.  To me, this is the most perfect recipe. It’s not too sweet, the coating isn’t too hard like some recipes. It’s perfect.

You can substitute rum extract for the vanilla, too. It’s amazing. Enjoy!

Candied Pecans

3 cups pecan halves

½ cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix together sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Whisk together egg white and vanilla extract. Place pecans in a large bowl and add the egg white mixture. Toss to thoroughly coat the pecans. Then add the cinnamon sugar and stir until all the nuts are coated.

Spread pecans out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (very important). Bake for 15 minutes. Give the pecans a good stir and then bake 15 more minutes.

Be sure to cool the pecans completely before you package them or they will become soft. Store in an airtight container.

Give Me S’more Love

S’mores are gooey goodness.

While many people consider them a summer ritual, for me it’s fall fare. I am far more likely to sit around a campfire when the temperatures cool off than I am on a hot summer night.

There is something so simple and special about a toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers with chocolate. I love it. When I was a kid, I made basic S’mores but today I get creative with this treat. There are different flavored marshmallows on the market, a variety of graham crackers to choose from, different chocolates (I’m partial to dark chocolate), and my imagination.

If you’re only familiar with a traditional S’more, try a few of these ideas:

Use a cinnamon graham cracker topped with apple butter or pumpkin butter instead of chocolate and then add the toasted marshmallow.

Use pumpkin flavored marshmallows in the fall and pair it with white chocolate.

Create a S’more ice cream sandwich with a little vanilla ice cream, toasted marshmallow and a big drizzle of fudge sauce and caramel sauce. This is lovely! Eat it like a sandwich or use the graham crackers as a spoon.

Use Ritz crackers instead of graham crackers for a salty kick. A little date jam or spread is great with the salt.

A thin slice of brie at room temperature with the chocolate and toasted marshmallow is excellent.

Use a chocolate graham cracker, dark chocolate and add a slice of strawberry on your S’more sandwich.

After you toast your marshmallow, roll it in shredded coconut and drizzle dark Hershey’s syrup on instead of using a square of chocolate.

smore-coconut

One of my favorite S’mores is Peanut Butter Banana because the peanut butter cuts the sweetness and adds richness, and I love bananas and chocolate.   Add a slice of candied bacon and call it “The Elvis.”

Use a variety of nut spreads on the graham cracker like almond or cashew; or skip the chocolate and use Nutella instead.

As you can see, there are so many combinations.

Aside from good old-fashioned S’mores, I wanted to share a few other S’more themed recipes like my  Easy S’more Bars. The name says it all. I start with a box of cake mix, mix it with eggs and butter and then spread it in a pan. I top that with chocolate and marshmallows and bake it. That’s easy!

dsc_0437-2

You can serve this dish warm or room temperature, see my notes in the instructions.

And finally, The S’mores Fondue is so decadent, quick, and perfect for a party. If you don’t have a flame to toast your marshmallows but still want the spirit of that dessert, this is the recipe for you. The fondue takes less than 10 minutes to make (it has only two ingredients) and then you dip graham crackers and marshmallows in the melted chocolate and it’s heavenly. If you don’t have a fire pit, live in an apartment or just don’t want to deal with fire, this is a great option.

dsc_0538-2-1280x848

I hope this gets you out of your S’mores comfort zone and you enjoy these recipes.

Peanut Butter Banana S’mores

10 graham crackers

5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

10 thin slices of banana

5 large marshmallows

5 large pieces of dark chocolate (or your favorite chocolate)

Spread the peanut butter on only one side of the graham crackers and then top each with two slices of banana.  Set aside.

Toast your marshmallows to desired doneness and then sandwich one on a graham cracker. Add chocolate and close it to make a sandwich. Eat and enjoy. It’s messy so have a napkin handy.

dsc_0447-2

Easy S’more Bars

Serves 12-16

1 yellow cake mix

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups chocolate chips

2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the cake mix into a medium bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave and the pour it into the bowl. Add the beaten eggs and stir until combined. Coat a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray. Spread the mixture in the pan using your hands to spread it out and press it down. Try to make it as even as possible. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows over the top and bake it for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

Note: This dish is incredible warm out of the oven but it doesn’t slice well. If you are serving family and don’t care how it looks, you can serve it warm while the chips are melted, just know it will fall apart. It’s amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream when it’s warm though.

For proper bars, you must cool the dessert completely before slicing.

dsc_0537-2

S’mores Fondue

Serves 10

½ pint of heavy whipping cream

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 bag or large marshmallows

1 box of Graham crackers

Sticks to skewer the marshmallows

This dish comes together quickly so you want everything ready for serving. It takes about 7 minutes total and then it’s ready to serve. I have fondue equipment, but if you don’t you can use forks to skewer the marshmallows or even wooden skewers.

Pour the heavy whipping cream in a medium pot and turn the heat to medium. When the cream just starts to form bubbles around the edges, stir in the chocolate chips.  Stir until the chocolate has melted and it is smooth. It will look and smell incredible. Immediately transfer it to a serving bowl. Surround the dish with marshmallows and graham crackers and serve.

smore-fondue-848x1280

How to reuse olive brine, oil from sundried tomatoes and more (and transform it into fabulous fare)

The next time you eat the last olive out of the jar and go to wash the brine down the sink, stop! You are about to pour flavor down the drain.

My kitchen motto is “think before I toss.” I can’t stand wasting food so I am constantly looking for ways to reuse ingredients and save items people normally throw away- like brine or the oil in sundried tomatoes. Those ingredients are incredibly flavorful.

Olive brine is great in marinades (just use it instead of vinegar in your recipe); mix a tablespoon into mayonnaise when making potato salad; mix brine, olive oil and Italian seasoning and use it to marinate vegetables; add a dash to a dirty martini or Bloody Mary; or make my Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes.

DSC_0552 (2)

I don’t eat potatoes very often because once you add all the flavorings like butter or cream, they are so fattening. This is a fat free recipe that uses olive brine, rosemary and chives to flavor the potatoes. I came up with it this week and considering it is fat free, I think it’s great.

As for the oil in a jar of sundried tomatoes- that’s my favorite leftover ingredient. You can mix it with balsamic vinegar for an instant salad dressing; use it to dress orzo or other pasta; use it as the oil when you make goat cheese omelets;  use it instead of olive oil when you make croutons or crostini; or make my Warm Bruschetta. This is my favorite recipe and it’s ready in less than 5 minutes. I simply slice grape or cherry tomatoes, warm some of the oil in a pan, toss the tomatoes in with basil and cook for 1 minute. Salt to taste and serve.

DSC_0536 (2)

You can also save the oil from artichokes and use that in marinades or salad dressings.

Pickle brine is another item you can reuse. It’s good in marinades, but I often refill the jar with other items like cucumbers or carrots and reuse the brine. I have a recipe below for Spicy Dill Carrots which is simply carrots, onions and jalapenos in dill pickle brine.

Brine from hot peppers is good in marinades, barbecue sauces, or add a touch to deviled eggs (but use sparingly).

Beer is another item I can’t stand to waste. A couple of days ago, I tried a new beer and I hated it. There was no way I could drink it, so I put it in the fridge to use in the future. The next day I made Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken.  You can also make beer bread, beer cheese dip, or use leftover beer to boil brats (add onions to the beer and finish the brats on the grill).

There are so many items we throw away every day that we can reuse. I hope this inspires you to think before you toss. Enjoy.

Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes

1 pound microwave in a bag red potatoes

¼ cup olive brine

¼ cup chopped chives

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes according to package directions. While the potatoes cook, chop the chives and rosemary.

When the potatoes are ready, empty the bag into a serving bowl and smash them down.

Pour the brine over potatoes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Then top with chives and rosemary. Toss and serve.

You can also substitute basil in this recipe if you don’t like rosemary.

DSC_0562 (2)

 

Warm Bruschetta

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, assorted colors

1 ½ tablespoons oil left from the sundried tomato jar

10 basil leaves

Salt to taste

Slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half. Set aside.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with basil and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

This dish is delicious over couscous or with French bread, but I also like it alone as a side dish.

 

Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken

6 chicken thighs, legs, or breasts

1 tablespoon barbecue rub

1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon jerk seasoning

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Half an onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 almost full bottle of beer

1 bottle of KC style barbecue sauce

White rice for serving

Lay chicken in a 13 by 11 inch pan. Sprinkle with all the seasoning. Slice the onion and garlic and sprinkle both over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Pour beer in the side of the pan being careful not to wash off the seasonings. Pour half the bottle of barbecue sauce over the chicken and then stir about a fourth of the bottle into the beer. You will use about ¾ a bottle.

Bake for 1 hour (check it after 50 minutes because cooking times vary depending on the size of the piece of meat and what you cook. Breasts cook faster than thighs).

Serve over rice and spoon the sauce over rice before serving.

DSC_0498 (2)

Spicy Dill Carrots

2 cups leftover juice from dill pickles

1 ¼ cups carrot slices (I buy the precut carrot chips)

2 jalapenos (or to taste), sliced in half

Half a red onion, thinly sliced.

When the jar of dill pickles is gone, simply fill it with carrots, jalapeno and onion. Refrigerate for 2 days before eating. Consume within 10 days.

If you add the jalapeno seeds, it will be significantly spicier.

DSC_0547 (2)

Watermelon Caprese Salad

It’s going to be a sweltering week. If slaving over a hot stove doesn’t appeal to you, then whip up  this cool and delicious  Watermelon Caprese Salad.

Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad made of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and it represents the colors of the Italian flag. I decided to replace the tomato with watermelon and I actually prefer it over the traditional version.

Caprese is often drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar but I had pesto so I scraped the oil off the top of the pesto and dressed the salad with that and it was spectacular. The salty pesto was a great balance to the sweetness of the fruit.

It’s a gorgeous, delicious, healthy, refreshing salad that takes 5 minutes to assemble.

 

Watermelon Caprese Salad

Serves 1

3 (2 1/2-inch) slices of watermelon

2 (2-inch) slices of fresh mozzarella cheese

3 large basil leaves

1 teaspoon pesto (or to taste)

Slice watermelon and mozzarella. Drizzle half of the pesto on the mozzarella. Place one slice of melon on a plate, top with cheese, a basil leaf and repeat. Drizzle the remaining ½ teaspoon of pesto (using mostly the oil on top) around the plate. Serve.

Optional: you can also drizzle this with good quality balsamic vinegar.