Thursday, June 23, 2016

Indoor Cowgirl Supper

What's your favorite thing to chow down when you're hungry, and I mean really hungry? Mine is comfort food, and this little concoction is just that- it's loaded with meat, spiced veggies and beans. This is certainly not a Florida dish, but lately the heat and humidity in these parts has got me exercising daily in a therapy current pool, which is not only great exercise and a daily dose of vitamin D, but a great excuse to make a manly meal that works great for dinner, lunch or snack (and it reheats like a dream). This cowgirl supper is simple and no fuss, and you don't have to be on the open range to make it. But it does take some time in the oven, so let's put this together so we can relax while it cooks.

Cowgirl Franks and Beans
serves 4-6

1/2 pound ground sirloin
1-1/2 T taco seasoning (I use the Publix brand these days, it's just as good as the national brands and a lot less expensive)
2 jumbo beef franks (6 oz) sliced 1/8-1/4 inch
1 can (28 oz) Bush's Original Baked Beans
1/2 large onion chopped/diced 1/4 inch
1/2 green pepper chopped/diced 1/4 inch
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T brown sugar
2 T hot sauce (I like Frank's Original for this recipe)
4-5 slices bacon

Spray an 8" x 8" pan with non stick spray and set aside. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.

On medium heat on stovetop, brown ground meat. When meat is beginning to turn color, add the taco seasoning and continue to cook until meat is brown. Set aside and continue with the rest of the steps.

In large mixing bowl combine your chopped onions and peppers, ketchup, mustard, sugar, and hot sauce.

Now add the beans and frankfurters and stir to combine. Pour this beany goodness into prepared baking pan. So far so good, and doesn't that look yummy? We're almost done with the prep.

Top casserole with crumbled, seasoned beef. Then top with bacon.

I'm liking the looks of this for sure. Cover with foil and leave one corner of the dish open/vented to allow steam to escape. Bake 1 hour. Remove foil, cook another 45 minutes uncovered and get ready to serve a filling, heartwarming meal fit for any indoor wannabe cowgirl.

Serve this with some Texas toast and a green salad. You'll feel like you're at home on the range. Happy Trails!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer Salad

Long time no new recipes, sorrrrry.

My lame excuse- I made the big move to Florida from Massachusetts a few months ago and with that hectic move came a few medical issues that needed to be taken care of. All is well now and  I'm back.... living in a darling apartment in south east Florida with a much smaller kitchen (unfortunately with improper lighting for good photos which is a bummer for me), but I promise that every recipe posted may not look as lovely as I'd like, but will be worth making.

I've made some friends in my new surroundings and Marlene is one of them. Picky eater? YES. Native Bostonian? YES. So of course we became fast friends (I think it was day 2 that we bonded) and it's always nice to share a winner dish that a picky eater loves. Reminds me of the old commercial for Life cereal. "She likes it!" Marlene actually said she loved it, so this recipe post is for you Marlene and all the other picky eaters out there.

Ready to hardly cook? This is so easy... and if Marlene likes it, you know you've got something to make your family and friends happy or bring to a barbecue or pot luck.

Roasted Grape Tomato, Orzo, Black Bean and Corn Salad
serves 6

1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup orzo (uncooked)
1 15 oz can corn (use fresh or frozen if you have it)
1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained (I use Bush's low sodium)
1 7 oz can diced green chilies (I use the mild)
3 scallions diced 1/4 inch
2 avocados chopped
4 oz goat cheese
2 limes
3/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil
cilantro- as much as you like, chopped or whole leaves

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees and slice grape tomatoes in half. Toss the maters in a teaspoon or two of canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Let cool and add to a large mixing bowl.

While the tomatoes are roasting cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and add to tomatoes.

To mixing bowl add corn, black beans, chilies, and scallions. Add cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and however much pepper you like. Taste and see if it fits your flavor palette. Add more seasoning if necessary.

Juice 2 limes and add to chopped avocado. Add both the lime juice and avocados to mixing bowl. Finish with crumbled goat cheese and cilantro, stir and you've got a super salad even Marlene would love.

I like to serve this salad chilled, but it's also good at room temp.

You can custom make this salad to your liking. Double up on the corn if that's your fancy, or omit it completely. Use cannellini beans, Monterey Jack cheese or add some chili powder for a bit more oomph, anything goes here.

Here's to great summer all. I'm looking forward to posting more fresh ideas from Florida soon.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Banana Bread, Cream Cheese and Strawberry Open Face Sammies

We're in the middle of summer and I've been slacking as far as the blog posts go. My apologies, but I have a lame excuse, I do. There are too many delicious recipes to try and too much time to spend outdoors. Well this long over do post is one that is delish and truly not my own creation. It's a compilation of a few great bloggers out there and let's give credit where credit is due. The sour cream banana bread comes from Courtney at and the strawberry sauce/compote comes from Christine who got the recipe from Aunt Missy's Kitchen.

I love a creamy banana bread and Courney hit the nail on the head with this one. Here's her recipe (with one minor change from me):

Sour Cream Banana Bread
8 slices

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened (Courtney melted her butter)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large very ripe bananas
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon. baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Grease an 8 inch bread pan with butter or cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. I used my hand mixer for this stage and mixed ingredients together until smooth and no brown sugar lumps remained. Put your mixer away and whisk in the sour cream, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas then whisk them into the sour cream/egg mixture.
Sprinkle the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon on top then stir it together until flour is incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Check the pan after about 30 minutes. If the top is getting too browned, cover with foil for the remaining baking time. I didn't have to do that the two times I made this bread.  Allow the bread to cool before removing from the pan. Wrap leftovers in saran wrap. Bread will keep for up to a week. (Mine is gobbled up in a matter of days)
Now how about some strawberries to top this moist, delicious bread? Sounds good to me!

Homemade Strawberry Sauce

12 oz fresh strawberries rinsed and hulled
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp butter
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1 lemon (Missy uses 1/2 a lemon)
2 level teaspoons cornstarch
1 T cool water

In medium saucepan combine half the berries, sugar, butter, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure the sugar is dissolved and the mixture doesn't stick to the pan. (If you forget the butter, as I did the first time I made this, the mixture WILL stick to the pan, but the easy solution is to add the butter as soon as you realize you forgot it and you should be all right). In a separate small bowl, combine cornstarch and water and stir until smooth. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the strawberry mixture and stir. Allow berries to bubble and simmer for another minute or two and remove from heat. Add the remainder of the strawberries. Cool and refrigerate for later.

As Missy says, "this makes a great sauce for cheesecake, ice cream, pancakes, French Toast etc". I took the etcetera route and made a decadent breakfast/brunch entrĂ©e or side. Open Faced Banana Bread, Cream Cheese and Strawberry Sandwiches. Yummy delish, that's all I can say. Thanks fellow bloggers for all your inspiration!
And a few days later, I came up with this idea for easy portability. Three layer banana bread with all the fixings.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mediterranean Inspired Orzo Salad

Here's a new favorite salad of mine, created in my mind a while ago, and served on the table tonight. It's light and tasty and will make every little taste bud dance in your mouth. I promise it will, and the pastabilities are endless!

Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Serves 6

2 T canola oil
1 large onion diced
Kosher salt
1 cup uncooked orzo
Additional salt and pepper
1-3/4 cups water

1/2 English cucumber peeled, seeded and thinly sliced in half moons
4 scallions chopped 1/4 inch
4 oz roasted grape tomatoes halved
10 Kalamata olives halved
2-3 oz feta cheese chopped 1/4 inch
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 T store bought hummus
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T light soy sauce
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To cook the orzo: In medium size saucepan on medium low heat, heat your canola oil. Add the chopped onions and some salt and pepper. Cook uncovered on stovetop to soften the onions, not brown them. After about 5 minutes they will be translucent and ready to accept the orzo. Add the cup of orzo and coat with the buttery onions. Add a bit more salt and pepper (the orzo has absolutely no flavor if you do not season it). Stir to combine onions and orzo and let the orzo toast a bit (2-3 minutes). Add water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to the lowest simmer and cook 12-13 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

While orzo is cooking, make your dressing and prep your veggies. The dressing is so simple...just put all ingredients into a medium size jar, shake and dressing is done. Even though there's soy in the dressing, I add a pinch or two of salt. It's up to you, but I like that little extra pinch in there.

Place all salad ingredients into a medium size bowl and toss with a 1/4 cup of dressing.

Now add the cooled orzo and dress with another 1/4 cup of dressing. Add some more cilantro leaves and serve in lettuce cups if you desire.

And now for the re-mixes: How about adding a cup of chick peas or artichoke hearts? And if you'd like to take this out of the vegetarian arena, give some small dices of salami a try- I bet that would be delish. You could also switch out the cilantro for mint. Or try a creamy goat cheese, buttery fontina or tangy blue. My favorite addition/idea to this salad so far will be to add some falafel croutons. I haven't tried that yet, but I will for sure. And soon!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Penne Pasta Crab Louie Salad

It's salad season and I'm excited to share this new one with you. It's quick, inexpensive and looks oh-so pretty on a plate. I was going to make it with shrimp but came across some imitation crab on sale at my market. All I can say is, what a difference in price, and it's worth a try! I used to be a snob about the Pollack/King Crab mixture and wouldn't give it a second thought. Well, times have changed. I'm a big girl now and have to admit, it's really quite delicious. The brand I bought is Trans Ocean Crab Classic and I'll buy it again.

Penne Pasta Crab Louie Salad
Serves 4-6

The Salad
6 oz uncooked penne pasta
8 oz imitation crab
1/2 cup finely diced celery
4 scallions (white and light green parts) chopped

The Sauce
1-1/2 T cocktail sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used lite)
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
1/2-1 lemon
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 T capers
salt and pepper to taste

The Garnish (use one or all)
hard boiled eggs
baby spinach
grape tomatoes halved
Olde Thompson Steak & Burger Seasoning

Prepare penne according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, prep your crab, celery and scallions. When penne is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. To make the Louie sauce, combine all ingredients, mix well and taste to see if you need additional salt, pepper or lemon. I like my Louie sauce on the lemony side. Mix your sauce with the cooled pasta, crab, celery and scallions and refrigerate until chilled.

Right before serving, I give the salad an additional squeeze of lemon to loosen it up a bit and regenerate it. Plate this baby up and enjoy, I sure did!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Berry Good Baked Pancake

Some of you may have seen the King Arthur baked pancake post on face book the other day. This is the link I saw. Blueberry pancakes cooked in the oven. Brilliant!! But does it work? I'm happy to say in capital letters, "YES, YES it does". Great for breakfast, brunch, dinner or anytime. I had 12 ounces of fresh raspberries and thought I'd go for it. I think this recipe should feed 6 people, but after my two helpings I snuck in a third one. So plan on a meal for 4, just saying... So simple and ready in a half hour.

King Arthur Inspired Baked Raspberry Pancakes
Serves 4

1 T unsalted butter for greasing a 9" x 13" pan (I used a glass dish)
2 cups Bisquick original pancake/baking mix (any pancake mix will do, or from scratch)
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
12 oz fresh raspberries divided

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp maple extract
Approximately 1/4 cup milk
dash of salt

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pan with butter. Set aside and make your pancake batter according to package directions. Add in 6 ounces of the fresh raspberries and pour into baking dish. Place on middle rack in oven. Set timer for 35 minutes.

While the pancakes are cooking make the glaze. With whisk, combine the confectioner's sugar, maple extract and 1/4 cup of milk (or even less, depending how thick you like your glaze). Set aside and wait for pancakes to come out of the oven.

When pancakes are done (test them as you would a cake, with a toothpick) set aside and let cool a bit. When warm and not too hot anymore, brush with at least half the glaze. Slice into 12 squares, garnish with the additional berries and drizzle on some more of that decadent glaze.

Since this was a test recipe for me, I pretty much followed King Arthur's directions to the letter. I'm thinking next time a little orange or lemon zest would be a happy addition to the batter. And call me crazy, but even some mini chocolate chips in the batter would work nicely, with a small little squirt of chocolate sauce on the side. Thanks King Arthur, I'm a happy gal tonight.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Another Saucy Idea

I'm still working with the Saucy Mama products that were sent to me and tonight's dinner (shame on me it's not a balanced meal) was delish! It's an appetizer that fit my mood and evening time frame. And again, you're going to like this little gem! It's 3 ingredients, how nice is that?

Saucy Kielbasa Rounds
Serves 4-5 as an appetizer
1 package (13 oz) Polska Kielbasa (I used Hillshire Farm Lite)
10 oz apricot jam (I used Smucker's Simply Fruit)
5 oz Saucy Mama Apricot Ginger Mustard
Slice kielbasa into 4 or 5 pieces and place in water in semi-deep saucepan. Bring water to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Cook about 20 minutes until sausage has plumped. Remove from water and let cool. Save about one cup of cooking water (I added less) to enhance the mustard/apricot sauce.
When sausage is cool, slice into 1 inch rounds. Add them back to the pot they were previously cooked in and add the mustard and apricot jam and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir to combine and simmer on low for 30 minutes or even a little longer until sauce reduces and gets a little sticky. 
Plate and serve. This is a burst of flavor on a plate!