Thursday, June 28, 2012

Farmer's Market

Do you have a farmer's market in your town? If you do, you should go immediately and buy as much fresh produce as you can.  The variety of produce is often different than what is in the grocery store.  And it is always fresher because it has been picked recently. I like to buy tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, onions (red and yellow), and most of all okra. One recent saturday, I was at the farmer's market mulling over the squash choices and one of the farmer's gave me a squash I had never had before. It was a pattypan squash. He said to grill it with a little butter and garlic. What is so cool is that I would not have purchased this on my own, but because he was generous I will definitely go back to his stand and buy more. Many of the farmers will let you try the produce. The fresh fruit is delectable and succulent.  

Here is the pattypan squash:

My favorite thing to make with fresh produce is a pasta salad.  

Tri-color Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables

1 package tri-color rotini pasta
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 cucumber
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 bottle of Wish Bone Lite Italian Dressing
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Boil pasta according to package directions.  Do not overcook.  Add chopped vegetables and pour dressing and cheese over salad.  Refridgerate to chill.  Just before serving, I usually mix in a little more dressing and cheese as the pasta usually soaks up the dressing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Chicken Parmesan

This recipe is from Chef John over at Food Wishes, and it was absolutely delicious. I loved every bite, and I will never make Chicken Parmesan the same way again. This casserole was so easy and came together very quickly. No breading, no frying!  The whole family liked it, even a three-year old.  It could be served with a side of spaghetti or with grilled vegetables, such as zucchini or yellow squash.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used chicken tenders and just filled the pan with them.)
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons

In 9x13 pan, mix olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Layer the rest. Place chicken breasts over oil mixture.  Add marinara.  Sprinkle chopped basil over marinara.  Add half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Add croutons.  Add remainder of cheese. Cook 35 minutes to an hour until the chicken is done at 350 degrees. 

Monday, June 25, 2012


It's time again for summer reading.  What books should I read?  Leave a comment and let me know which books are "Don't miss" this summer.

Quick Southern Style Baked Beans

I am reposting this recipe because it is worth repeating!

Quick Southern-Style Baked Beans

This is the adapted version for 4-6 people of the Quick Southern-Style Baked Beans recipe by Pam Anderson

4 slices bacon, halved
1/2 medium onion, cut into small dice
1/4 medium green pepper, cut into small dice
3 large cans (15 ounces each) pork and beans
3/4 cup barbecue sauce, I use KC Masterpiece Hickory and Brown Sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoons dry mustard or 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients).  I use a cast iron skillet so I just put that in the oven, but if you want you can pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Paula Deen’s Mexican Casserole
(Recipe from

Paula Deen!  Yes, she makes Mexican, too.  I made this tonight, and while I prefer my other Chicken Enchilada Casserole made with tortilla chips, this one is pretty good. This one is made with soft flour tortillas.  I missed the little bit of crunch, but don't worry.  I also made Copycat Chili's Salsa to go with my tortilla chips, which was good but not exactly like Chili's.  It has no cilantro in it, so for those cilantro haters out there--you know who you are--this one's for you.  I don't really understand hating cilantro, but even the Barefoot Contessa doesn't like it, so I guess there are detractors from my beloved herb.

Paula Deen’s Mexican Casserole

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cheddar cheese soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes
1 whole chicken, cooked, boned, and chopped or 4 cups leftover cooked chicken
Unsalted butter, for greasing pan
1 (11 1/2-ounce) package flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 by-9-inch pan with the cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the 3 kinds of soup and the tomatoes. Stir in the chicken.
Layer the tortillas and the chicken mixture in the pan, beginning and ending with tortillas. Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes.

Copycat Chili's Salsa

Chili's Copycat Salsa Recipe:
(Recipe from Deals to Meals)

2 cans (14.5 oz each) whole tomatoes, drained
1 small (4 oz) can diced or whole jalapenos (not pickled)--about 4-5 jalapenos (or less if you don't like a lot of spice)
1/4 c. yellow onion, cut into quarters (you can also use dried minced onion)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (depending on how much you prefer)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. lime juice

Place all of the ingredients together into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Have I mentioned I am addicted to roast?  I mean, really, I need a 12 step program for this roast addiction.  On a whim, I decided to search out a new recipe.  On numerous websites, I found the 3 Packet Roast.  This is the easiest, tastiest roast and so low maintenance because it is all done in the crock pot.

3 Packet Roast

1 Packet Brown Gravy
1 Packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
1 Packet Good Seasons Italian Dressing
2-3 lb. chuck roast
2-3 cups water
2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)

Place roast in crock pot.  Empty the 3 packets over the roast.  Pour water over the packet seasonings.  Cook on high for 8 hours.  I added the mushrooms two hours before it was done.  

I served with mashed potatoes.  The juice from the roast makes a wonder gravy.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Stir Fry Chicken and Vegetables

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 cup sliced carrots
1 crown broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth

Blanch vegetables for 1 minute in boiling water. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add chicken and cook 4 minutes, until starting to brown, stirring constantly. Add vegetables cook 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and cook 2 minutes, until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Stir cornstarch into chicken broth and add to skillet. Simmer 2 minutes, until sauce thickens. Serve over plain or fried rice.

Fried Rice

6 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
3 cups cooked rice
¼ cup soy sauce
4-6 eggs
2-4 green onions

Fry bacon, but don’t overcook.  Remove pieces and add rice.  Let it fry for a bit on one side and then flip it over.  Add soy sauce.  Add bacon pieces back in.  Push rice to one side, and soft scramble eggs, then integrate into rice.  Add onions at the end.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Restaurant Dish from Craig's in Los Angeles

Chicken Velasco

This recipe appeared in the June 2012 issue of People magazine.  The dish is a spicy chicken dish from a Los Angeles restaurant.  I looked up Craig’s Restaurant and read the menu, and yes, it is actually on the menu.  It is described as:
Chicken Velasco 25
(garlic & jalapeno jus,
mashed potatoes, daily vegetable)
Yes, it is $25.00 at Craig’s, but you can have this in your very own home.  Check out the Craig's menu here. It is not too spicy, and I suggest serving it with the mashed potatoes because the jus would make a nice gravy for the potatoes, even though I served it Oven Baked Parmesan Potato and Zucchini Fries--recipe here. I also sautéd a few mushrooms because I had them on hand.  I topped the chicken dish with the mushrooms.

3 medium jalapeno peppers, sliced
5 cloves garlic
Canola Oil for the sauce (and olive oil if you like for the chicken.)
½ cup white wine
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
Salt and pepper
2 (8-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half (I used chicken tenders.)

1. In a medium saucepan, sauté jalapeno and garlic in 2 tsp. oil until golden, 4 minutes. Add wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Add lemon juice and stock, and bring to a simmer.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add mixture to sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Strain. Stir in ¾ tsp. salt and set aside.
3. Lightly coat chicken with oil (I used Olive Oil for this step). Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, sauté chicken until golden brown. Place chicken on plates and cover with sauce. Serve. 

A Blast from My Past

Southern Fried Yellow Squash

This recipe takes me back to Granny Bowers's kitchen. These golden gems are the perfect side dish. You just know these taste great because they are fried!

Yellow squash, sliced to 1/4 inch thickness
Flour, one to two cups depending on how many you are going to fry
1 egg
Salt, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
Pepper, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
Vegetable oil

Pour vegetable oil in skillet and heat over medium high heat.  You will need enough oil to cover the squash slices. Beat egg with fork.  Take slices of squash and place them in the egg wash.  Drop them into a Ziploc bag containing flour, salt, and pepper. Shake bag, then place in hot oil to cook.  Brown until squash has a light brown color.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Toast to Tomatoes

This dinner was light, fresh and healthy. It started with Tomato Soup.  The soup was from Jenny Steffens Hobick's blog, and you can see it here.  I hope you stay around her blog and check her out.  She lived in Fairway, KS at one time, and her blog has quickly become one of my favorites.

I picked the basil from my little garden of herbs.  Okay, it is really just three potted plants:  Thyme, Basil, and Tomatoes.  So, I suppose it is a Garden-ette!

Along with the soup, I made Parmesan Crisps and Grilled Zucchini. The freshness of this dinner was over the top, and I loved it for a summer evening.

How to make Parmesan Crisps (recipe courtesy of Hyacinth--hey favorite auntie!):
Take fresh Parmesan and sprinkle it into 2 inch circles in a non-stick pan.  Toast each side until brown.  

How to make Grilled Zucchini:
To make zucchini, I used my panini pan.  I sprayed with non-stick spray.  Then, I sliced the zucchini to quarter inch thickness.  Brushed each side with olive oil and placed in the pan until these lovely little grill marks appeared.  Don't you just love grill marks.  It makes me happy.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Aussie Chicken? I wonder if they are like American Chickens???

This recipe is a gem I discovered from a website called I adapted it slightly.  It is one of the best chicken dishes I have made in a long time.  I hope you try it and love it as much as I did.  Sooooooo delicious!  

Sherry’s Aussie Chicken (Like Alice Springs Chicken from Outback Restaurant)

8 boneless skinless chicken tenders
seasoning salt or you can use salt and pepper to season the chicken
6 slices bacon, cut in half
4 Tablespoons Honey Mustard Dressing (I used Great Value Honey Mustard Dressing and Dip)
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups shredded Colby/Jack cheese, grated

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon.  Do not discard grease. Sauté the seasoned chicken in the bacon grease for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until browned.  Move chicken to a 9×13 pan.

In a small bowl, mix the honey mustard and dried onion flakes.  Apply the honey mustard to each breast, then layer with mushrooms, bacon, and shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is done.  If you use whole chicken breasts instead of chicken tenders, you may need to cook longer.

Serve with honey mustard sauce.

~You can also make your own honey mustard sauce by using the following recipe:
¼ cup regular mustard (French’s or Grey Poupon, whatever you have)
¼ to 1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons mayonnaise