Tag Archives: simple

Summer Chicken Club

This Summer Club has a long list of ingredients but I assure you it’s EASY.

First, I used lemon pepper rotisserie chicken and all you have to do is slice it off the breast. I also purchased precooked bacon which worked great in this recipe.

An important ingredient is the tomato so I highly recommend buying local tomatoes because they are more flavorful. Also, you need wonderful bread – a bun, focaccia, even flatbread will work.

The pesto aioli is important as well. To make it, I simply stir together store-bought pesto sauce (or homemade if you have it) with mayonnaise. It’s delicious.  The one caveat is the strength of the basil aioli depends on the pesto you use so taste and adjust as needed. I used Rana, which is found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. I love the flavor of that brand.

So between some wonderful fresh bread I sandwich lemon pepper rotisserie chicken, fresh basil, thick sliced tomato, bacon, tender Butter lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, Swiss cheese and cucumber slices (which is optional). It’s a light sandwich packed with fresh summer flavor. I think you will enjoy it.

Summer Club

Serves 2

2 rolls (focaccia or other large crusty roll)

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoon prepared pesto sauce

2 deli style slices of Swiss cheese

1 lemon pepper rotisserie chicken breast

4 slices of precooked cooked bacon

2-4 thick slices of fresh tomato, salted lightly

4 fresh basil leaves

2 very thin slices of red onion

4 thin slices of English cucumber (optional)

4 slices of Bibb or Butter lettuce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

First, stir together mayonnaise and pesto and set aside.

Slice the breast off the chicken and then slice it into several thinner pieces to fit on your bread.

Cut thick slices of tomato and lightly salt it. Thinly slice onion and cucumber if you are using it.

Either cook your bacon or if you bought precooked bacon, heat it according to the package instructions.

Next, cut the bread open and spread the aioli over the bread. Then top it with Swiss cheese. Put the bread in the oven for 2-3 minutes, just to warm it.

When it comes out of the oven, immediately add fresh basil, lettuce, tomato, bacon, red onion, rotisserie chicken and English cucumber. Serve immediately.

Note: If you ever want to try a different variation to this sandwich, it’s good with thinly sliced and well drained artichoke hearts or roasted red bell peppers (omit the cucumber in this case).

Panna Cotta with Blueberry Port Sauce and Strawberries

If you’ve only ordered panna cotta in a restaurant, you need to make this. If you can make Jello, you can do this. It’s closely related in terms of preparation.

Panna cotta is an eggless Italian custard. It’s fairly plain but is often served with a nice fruit sauce that enhances the flavor.

I created this red, white and blue sweet treat for the Fourth of July.

Since I needed something blue for my theme, I decided to make a blueberry port sauce to pour over and it’s wonderful. Strawberries add a touch of red and texture.  It’s very nice.

For the photos, I styled my panna cotta two ways: in a champagne flute, which is beautiful; and then in a star glass dish that I bought from Dollar Tree.

 

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You can also serve them in ramekins which is more traditional.

It’s simple and perfect for a couple or small family because there’s only five servings. Enjoy!

Panna Cotta with Blueberry Port Sauce and Strawberries

Makes 5 servings

1/2 cup whole milk

1 ½ envelopes (.25 ounces each) unflavored gelatin

2 cups of heavy whipping cream (1 pint)

½ cup sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sauce:

1 pint blueberries

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

3 tablespoons port

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

For the panna cotta: place whole milk in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Set aside for 3 minutes.

Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the tiny seeds inside into a heavy bottomed pot. The seeds contain the vanilla flavor. Next add the heavy cream and sugar and heat it over medium or medium-low heat. You don’t want to rush it because you don’t want the cream to curdle. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Then pour the gelatin/milk mixture into the cream. Stir until gelatin is dissolved which takes about 3 minutes.

When it’s done, turn off the heat and add the vanilla extract.

Pour ½ cup of mixture into ramekins or champagne glasses, whatever you plan to use to serve the dish.  Refrigerate for 4 hours.

For the port sauce, heat blueberries, water and sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens. When it’s done, stir in the port.   For a mild port flavor, use 2 tablespoons. If you want more pronounced flavor, add 3 or even 4. I used Taylor Port which is readily available, inexpensive and works wells in this recipe.

Refrigerate the port sauce until it’s time to use. Note, you can also serve the port sauce warm but if you decide to do this make it right before serving.

Before serving, top each panna cotta with blueberry port sauce and fresh strawberries.

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Chicken Sandwich with Curried Mayo, Mango and Banana

I have not posted in forever, but I’ve been so busy. I just got back from Jamaica and for the next few days, want to share some culinary inspiration from the country. I love Jamaican curry so I decided to craft a rotisserie chicken sandwich that captures flavors from the island: curry, mango and banana.

I am crazy about this sandwich and it takes 10 minutes to prepare so it’s perfect for a busy night (like my nights have been).

I hope you enjoy it! I will be back to posting this week.

Chicken Sandwich with Curried Mayo, Mango and Banana

Serves 2

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons minced red onion

2 rolls or ciabatta rolls

1 large rotisserie chicken breast, sliced

1 large mango, peeled and sliced into thick slices

1 small ripe banana, peeled and sliced

Slices of red or green bell pepper (desired amount)

Handful of cilantro

Salt to taste

Stir together the mayonnaise, curry powder, onion and set aside.

Pull the chicken breast off the rotisserie chicken and cut it into slices that will fit on your bread.

Peel and slice your mango and banana. Slice a desired amount of red or green bell pepper.

Slice the bread in half and generously spread curried mayonnaise mixture on both sides. Place the chicken on the bottom and top it with mango. Place the sliced bananas on the top layer pressing into the mayonnaise using the mayonnaise as a glue to keep them in place.

Add a dash of salt to the banana. Top with sliced bell pepper and some fresh cilantro. Close and consume.

Easy Entertaining Ideas this holiday season

I love entertaining. I don’t like stress.

So when I throw a soiree, I try supplement with what I call “cheater” products.

I am talking about store bought items or super easy recipes. I always have a couple of dishes that are the star of the meal (homemade and decadent), but I also serve five or six items that take no time at all.

For example, I always serve good quality olive oil and vinegar as a dipping sauce with French bread. That takes one minute to assemble, but is another offering on the table.

What impresses people at a party is delicious food, but also variety. Variety is key.  As a host when you offer an array of dips, you ensure everyone will find something they love.

One thing about store bought food is I don’t present it as store bought (of course, I am honest when people ask). But if you open a veggie tray and leave in the container, it’s not as enticing as if you put the vegetables on a platter, place the Ranch dip in a little bowl, and then buy a horseradish dip, maybe some hummus, or even split the Ranch dip in half and add 1 teaspoon of dried dill to the second batch to make it different.

Again, it’s all about variety (and taste and presentation).

Another perk to not serving something in its original container is you can keep the leftovers. If you serve mustard in its jar, then every time someone dips into it they are introducing new bacteria to the mustard which will make leftovers spoil faster if you try to keep them. Also, leaving a dip on the counter for the duration of the party and then refrigerating it for later is not the most sanitary idea.

I only put out half of what I have and then keep the rest in the refrigerator as needed.

I also like to use smaller dishes for serving which enables me to fit more on the table. A Dollar Tree or thrift store is a great place to find inexpensive dishes for a holiday party.

I have some “staples” in terms of entertaining, but I am always trying new products, too. So if you are looking from some excellent products that will impress your guests and keep the stress off you, then here are a few of my recommendations:

Wind & Willow is a company based in Mt. Vernon that sells in 6,000 retail locations nationwide. The products are awesome. The company makes easy dips, cheeseballs, dessert balls, soup mixes etc. The Roasted Red Pepper Dip is one of my absolute favorites.  I serve it with vegetables and crackers. If you are watching your carbs, the dip has less than 1 carb (even after it is assembled). All you have to do is mix it with mayonnaise and sour cream and chill it for a few hours before serving. I make it a day in advance because I think it brings out the flavors and is one less thing I have to do on party day. Another wonderful product from this company is the Tiramisu dessert ball. You can visit www.windandwillow.com/ to see where the products are sold near you.

 

Harry & David Charred Pineapple Relish is incredible mixed with a log of chevre. I mix one-third of the jar with a 4 ounce log of chevre and serve with tortilla chips. People always ask for this recipe. The goat cheese just gives it this zing. The relish is slightly spicy.  Another excellent product from Harry & David is the Onion and Pepper Relish, which is served over a block of cream cheese. Find the closest outlet to you or order online: www.harryanddavid.com

 

I discovered Robert Rothschild Raspberry Honey Mustard about 10 years ago and it remains my favorite honey mustard.

Rothschild mustard credit Robert Rothschild company

 

The mustard is on the pricey side ($6-$8), but I serve it with a $1 bag of pretzels, so it’s not too expensive overall. If you have leftovers of the mustard, spread it on a chicken sandwich with arugula and sharp cheddar cheese (you can also made mini sliders for your party using that same recipe). Another idea for leftovers is to use it as a salad dressing on a salad of spinach, chicken, goat cheese, candied pecans, and strawberries and raspberries. It’s fantastic.

This Christmas tree has four ingredients and takes minutes to assemble.

 

Green salsa and goat cheese Credit Juliana Goodwin (2)

First, I cut a block of cold cream cheese on a diagonal so it makes two right angle triangles. Then flip one of the triangles over to put the two together to make a tree shape. Generously cover the block of cream cheese with pesto sauce. Add a piece of a pretzel rod to make the base of the tree (just break off a piece). And thinly slice a desired amount of sundried tomatoes to make garland and string those across the tree. This step is optional; you can simply serve the pesto tree.  I use this recipe for different holidays –  a spider web at Halloween or a football field for the super bowl. No matter when I serve it, people love both the flavor and presentation. My favorite store bought pesto sauce Giovanni Rana because of its flavor and vibrant green color. It’s refrigerated so it’s fresher than a jarred variety. Serve this dip with French bread and crackers.

World Table Roasted Salsa Verde is one of the best commercially made green salsas I’ve ever tried.

Green salsa and goat cheese Credit Juliana Goodwin (1)

 

So many green salsas are too salty, too limey or too thin. This one is perfect. It’s slightly spicy so I mix it with a block of chevre and serve it as a dip (about ½ cup to 2/3 cup of green salsa). An alternative if you don’t like goat cheese is to pour the salsa over a block of cream cheese. I’ve served it both ways and it has been popular. It’s available at Walmart stores.

You may not think of pomegranate and guacamole as going together, but they pair beautifully. A friend of mine made a pomegranate guacamole a few years ago and I fell in love with.

Guacamole Pomegranate tree credit Juliana Goodwin

 

This is simply store-bought guacamole decorated with pomegranate seeds (also known as arils). It’s pretty and delicious.  I used an open Christmas cookie cutter to make the shape of the tree and filled it with pomegranate seeds. You could use any shapes. You can buy a pomegranate or simply purchase the POM arils which is the easiest way to go. If you decide to buy a pomegranate, leftover pomegranate arils are excellent in sparkling wine or moscato. You can also hallow out the shell of the pomegranate and serve a dip in it. In terms of guacamole, I recommend Holy Guacamole or the Aldi’s variety.

Pomegranate Guacamole Credit Juliana Goodwin

With these dips, you can throw together a party in no time. Happy holidays.

Five-Minute Pumpkin Mousse

If you only try one new pumpkin recipe this fall, let it be my Five-Minute Pumpkin Mousse.

Don’t let the word “mousse” intimidate you because this is as easy as it gets: it takes five minutes and has five ingredients. You simply whisk together sweetened condensed milk, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and whipped topping. Then serve it with gingersnap cookies for dipping (although the velvety mousse is delicious on its own).

I’ve created a variety of pumpkin mousse recipes over the years, but this is my best.

I gave my 3-year-old – who is hesitant to try new things – a bite and asked if she wanted another bite. She said: “I want the whole thing,” and promptly took it from my hands. She licked the bowl clean.

My husband said he could bathe in this; my mom said it was better than pumpkin pie. The rave reviews have ensued every time I make it (and I am sure you’ll get the same response).

This recipe will be a winner this holiday season. It’s even better after a few hours of refrigeration, but can be served immediately, too.

This mousse would be great at your Halloween party. Simply carve out a small pie pumpkin and fill it with mousse and serve it with Gingersnap cookies.

Five-Minute Pumpkin Mousse

Makes 20 (2-ounce) servings

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 (8-ounce) tub of whipped topping, defrosted

Mini Gingersnap cookies to garnish

Beat or stir together sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and whipped topping, until combined.

Pour mixture into 2-ounce glasses and top with a gingersnap cookie. Serve immediately.

Other serving options: If you have a smaller crowd and want to serve larger portions, you can serve pumpkin mousse in wine glasses with or without a cookie. You can also crumble cookies and put them on top.

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Slow Cooker Apple Butter

I met a family once who planned their annual reunion around apple butter.

I spent the weekend with this clan – about 40 strong- who peeled hundreds of apples on Friday, and then Saturday slowly cooked the apples down over a huge, antique copper pot. They took turns stirring the apples with a wooden spoon that looked like a paddle.

It was a crisp fall day and I sat at watched steam rise from the pot and the aroma of a campfire, apples, cinnamon and cloves fill the air (I was writing a story about their unique tradition).  When the apples had melted into a thick butter-like consistency, they canned the mixture into the night. When that was done, they made a mega batch of biscuits and used the warm biscuits to scrape up the last of the apple butter that still glazed the inside of the pot.

I can’t eat an apple butter stuffed biscuit without thinking of them. I had to stop this photo shoot to gobble up a biscuit.

apple butter biscuit

I love apple season and autumn means the apples are ripe from the orchards to the farmers markets and the grocery stores.  Now, as much as I enjoy apple butter, I don’t have time to make it from scratch so I whip up a slow cooker version.

You have to peel about 10-12 apples, but if you have an apple peeler, then it’s quick.  I use a mix of Granny Smith and red apples for this.

You can make a variation on this recipe by adding ½ teaspoon or ¼ teaspoon of extract once the mixture has been cooked. For example, split the batch in half or thirds and add vanilla extract, or maple or rum (those are my favorites). It’s just a slight twist on the same recipe. I always start with ¼ teaspoon and then double it if I don’t think it’s changed the flavor enough.

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Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Makes about 1 1/2 pints

7 cups of peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples

1 ½ cups peeled and sliced red apples (about 2 red apples)

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (use less or omit if you don’t like cloves because you can taste it)

1/3 cup apple juice

Place apple juice in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Core, peel and slice all the apples and place on top of apple juice. Stir together your sugar and spices until well combined and sprinkle over the apples. Cover and cook for 10 hours, undisturbed. When done, allow to rest at the warm temperature setting for 1-2 hours. Then turn off and remove the lid and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to cool.

Place in a food processor and blend until smooth (don’t use all the liquid in the slow cooker or it may be too thin). Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

Try this Fabulous Chicken, Bacon, Gorgonzola Flatbread

Divine. Heavenly. That’s how I’d describe my Chicken, Bacon, Gorgonzola Flatbread, which is bubbly, creamy, bacon goodness.

Every day this week, I am showcasing a new flatbread creation and this is my favorite so far. Now, I am not done creating yet, but I’m in the home stretch.

This wonderful flatbread is topped with bits of tart apple that provide a nice contrast in terms of texture and flavor.

This pairs beautifully with red wine. The funny thing is I don’t usually like blue cheese, but Gorgonzola is much lighter than many other varieties and this doesn’t even taste like blue cheese. So if you think you don’t like blue cheese, it’s still worth trying this.

I can’t wait to eat it again.

Chicken, Bacon, Gorgonzola Flatbread

Makes 2 flatbreads

1 (8.8 ounce) package (which contains 2 flatbreads) of Stonefire Tandoori Baked Original Naan

5 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup real bacon pieces or chopped bacon, plus 1 teaspoon (do not use bacon bits)

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ cup Gorgonzola crumbles

1 ¼ cups chopped rotisserie chicken

2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 Granny Smith apple

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together cream cheese, bacon, heavy whipping cream, garlic powder and Gorgonzola. Set aside.

Remove the breasts from the rotisserie chicken and chop those. Finely mince the Granny Smith apple and set aside.

When oven is preheated, spread half the cream cheese mixture on each flatbread. Sprinkle half the chicken on each flatbread and top with Mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 9 minutes. Then sprinkle with the apple and serve.

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