Panzanella Salad

Ina Garten shared a recipe for the 4th of July that we ended up loving – Panzanella Salad.  It is fresh, easy and hearty enough to be a main dish for lunch.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 loaf of French Bread, cut into 1″ cubes (ends up being 6 cups)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes cut into 1″ cubes

1 cucumber, unpeeled, halved and seeded, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp capers, drained

Vinaigrette
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar (Ina uses Champagne vinegar but I didn’t have any)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan. Add bread and salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients

In a nice large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, basil and capers. Toss with vinaigrette, and then add bread cubes and toss again. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Can serve right away or after a half hour.

Delish.  Thanks for another fabulous recipe, Ina!

Caitlin’s Curried Avocado Toast

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Avocados by twinsfisch on Unsplash

Caitlin, my son’s fiancee is a wonderful cook and she made curried avocado toast the other day that was delicious. Don’t know why I never thought of putting a spin on avocado toast, but why not?  Avocados are not a common food in the Indian Subcontinent at all, but putting those flavors together is incredibly good.

Ingredients:

1 avocado, seeded and peeled and very slightly mashed in a bowl
sprinkle of curry powder (Caitie used Madras Curry Powder)
pinch of Cayenne pepper
quick grind of black pepper
sprinkle of Maldon Salt

Toast a good, hearty bread. Scoop avocado onto toast and sprinkle with rest of ingredients. Devour.

Variations: Caitie also suggested an alternative of avocado, salt and pepper and chopped fresh rosemary, which I will definitely try. She also said avocado toast made on Herbes de Provence bread is amazing. I have a feeling this is going to be a summer of Avocado Toast at our house!

Tangy Fruit Salad

Another great recipe from Ree Drummond, that’s both pretty and delicious.  I ended up halving Ree’s original recipe, which serves 12, and still had more than enough for the 6 of us, with plenty left over for nibbling later.

The Orange Vanilla sauce adds just enough sweetness and tanginess to brighten everything up without being too sweet.  We loved it and had leftover fruit and syrup on vanilla ice cream the next day.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
2 pints blueberries
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup green grapes, halved

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the sugar, water, orange juice and orange zest into a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 to thicken slightly. Set aside to cool, then stir in vanilla. Store in the fridge until cold.

Mix together all the fruit in a large bowl and refrigerate.  Just before serving, pour the syrup over the fruit, tossing gently to coat.

 

One Pan Oven-fried Chicken, Pork Chops or Cauliflower Steaks with Veggies.

Southern Living Magazine has done it again.  Another recipe that I am not entirely certain how I lived without.  I made it a few weeks ago and then again the other night when the kids were over for supper, and it is ridiculously good!

You can make it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pork chops, or even cauliflower “steaks”. (Just slice a cauliflower in half, and slice the halves into 3/4″ slices, without removing the stem.) I do love a meal that comes together in one pan, and this one is really cleverly done.  You can substitute almost any veggie as long as pay attention to cooking time, so use whatever you have on hand.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp dijon mustard (I used Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp chopped dried rosemary, or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

1 cup panko bread crumbs
7 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs or 4 good sized porkchops, or 4 big cauliflower steaks.

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 shallots, halved
12 oz fresh green beans, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar.

Mix first five ingredients in a medium bowl, and save 2 tsp out. Add meat/cauliflower into bowl, and gently with remaining mustard mixture.  Place in a lightly oiled baking tray.

Mix panko bread crumbs with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Scoop the panko bread crumbs on top of the meat, dividing equally and patting gently on top.

In a the mustard mix bowl, toss together all veggies except green beans with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Scatter the veggies around the meat.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Mix the green beans with 1 Tbsp olive oil and scatter over the veggies. Bake another 5-10 minutes until the green beans are slightly tender and all the vegetables are cooked.

Mix the 2 tsp of mustard mix with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar. Drizzle over the veggies and serve.

Alternate veggies:

1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 lb. baby potatoes, cut in half
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 lb. green beans

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

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Beautiful image of peppers by Csengele Horn-Barta from Unsplash.

Ree Drummond has a wonderful recipe for roasted pepper soup that I will make often – since it’s easy and so good. I did make a few changes, but stayed pretty true to Ree’s recipe.

Normally I always drain and rinse canned veggies, but because the peppers were in a glass jar, I tasted the red pepper jar liquid.  It wasn’t very salty and had lots of pepper flavor, so I tossed it in, too. Not sure if that breaks some kind of kitchen “law” – but it tasted great.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chopped dry oregano, or 2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1 good-sized russet potato, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
3 jars (12 oz each) roasted red peppers, sliced – plus the jar liquid
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup half n half (Ree uses heavy cream)
1 tbsp cider vinegar (Ree uses red wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add potato, roasted peppers, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Mix well and let cook for 5 minutes.

Add white wine and let it cook down for 3-4 minutes. Then add the stock and pepper jar liquid. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, checking to see that the potatoes are nice and soft. Remove from heat, and buzz with an immersion blender until everything is fairly smooth. Add cider vinegar, butter and 1/2 and 1/2 and let heat for a minute or two. Check seasonings.

Serve with fresh grated parmesan sprinkled on top. So good – and even better the next day.

I also stirred in a tsp of butter at the end, so you could do that too.

For a vegan version – leave out the 1/2 and 1/2 and butter, or substitute vegan butter.

Golden Chicken, Mushroom & Rice Soup

It was cold and snowy today – perfect for a good bowl of this golden, delicious soup. Based on recipe from Southern Living, my version is much quicker, uses basmati rice and is a bit spicier.  It’s rather closer to Mulligatawny Soup, so you can add a squeeze of fresh lemon when serving if you like.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tsp garlic, minced
7 cups chicken broth
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1″ pieces (or 3 cups rotisserie chicken cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup basmati rice (any rice would probably be fine.)
fresh lemon wedges (optional)

Directions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.

Add onion, celery, mushrooms and minced garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.

Add everything else and bring just to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes until chicken and rice are both cooked.  (Note: If using rotisserie chicken, just add it for the last 5 minutes of cooking.)  Check seasonings and if you wish, serve with a wedge of lemon.

To make a vegan version of this, replace the chicken and butter with a can or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained and a bit more olive oil.  Swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock. 

Cranberry Jalapeno Dip

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Image courtesy of Joanna Kosinska – Unsplash

Someone brought this dip to Thanksgiving and we all loved it.  So I found a recipe and made it for a get-together with friends last night.  It is crazy easy, looks pretty on a plate and is difficult to leave alone!  (Based on a recipe from SnackinginSneakers.com but with a few changes.) Quite a few recipes called for twice as much sugar but this one was sweet enough.

Ingredients

12 oz fresh cranberries (one bag)
1 large jalapeno, quartered and chopped with stem, seeds and ribs removed
4 medium green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of Kosher Salt

Two 14 oz. pkgs cream cheese or vegan cream cheese

Add cranberries, jalapeno and green onions to a food processor. Buzz a couple of times until you no longer see large chunks of  cranberries.

Add everything else and buzz for 30 more seconds. Turn out into a medium bowl and stir gently for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved.

Let sit for 30 minutes. Dump into a strainer and let excess liquid drain away for 5 minutes or so. It doesn’t need to be completely dry – just don’t want liquid running all over the serving platter.

Open foil surrounding each brick of cheese and slice horizontally into two thin layers. (You may not need all of it depending on the size of your platter.)

On a large white platter, arrange cheese to form a long, flat rectangle in the center. Neaten up the corners and edges and smooth the top with a knife. (You can stop at this point, cover the platter with cream cheese and hold it until you’re ready to serve.)

To serve, scoop the cranberry mix over the center top of the cheese and gently nudge it so it just sort of spills over the edges of the cheese. If you’ve saved a couple of cranberries and some Cilantro, you can add a few to the top.

If you’ve dashed off from home and left those behind, it’s still very festive looking.

Serve with a nice wheat cracker.

Also fantastic with leftover chicken or turkey in a sandwich.