Monday, April 30, 2018

Marmalade Chicken Salad

I don’t know about you, but I love chicken salad. Still, as much as I love it, I do get tired of the same old thing. Sure, I can add more celery, raisins, or grapes, include almonds or pecans, but essentially it always seems to taste pretty much the same…until now. This morning, as I was smearing marmalade onto my piece of toast, I got to wondering how it would be in chicken salad. I generally love the combination of citrus and chicken, so decided to stir a little bit of my Homemade Orange Marmalade into the mayonnaise before combining all of the ingredients. It was excellent! It gave it a wonderful brightness, tiny hint of sweetness, and a much more complex flavor than your run-of-the-mill chicken salad. Try this, and serve it on a bed of lettuce with an orange muffin on the side, or as I did here, on a freshly baked croissant.
Marmalade Chicken Salad

1 T.
orange marmalade
2 T. Duke’s mayonnaise
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
2/3 c. chopped celery
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. onion powder
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and marmalade; set aside. In a medium bowl combine remaining ingredients. Fold marmalade/mayonnaise mixture into chicken salad, and stir to combine. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

If you prefer your chicken salad warm, you will love this recipe for Hot Chicken Salad.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Top Ten Tablescapes

Last week, a group of bloggers were listing their top 10 favorite tablescape posts. I am late to the party, but nonetheless, having spent time going through every tablescape that I’ve ever done, here are my top 10 favorites. I had to laugh when I looked at these. I do like vibrant colors, and I love my black plaid placemats! So, in descending order, here are my favorites, I hope you see something here that pleases you, too. Click on the name of the tablescape beneath it to see the full post.

Everyone hostess should have a great set of white dishes!

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Friday, April 27, 2018

You Can Do It! Chicken Piccata

Last week I went out to lunch with more than a dozen neighborhood friends. We dined at a lovely, local restaurant that offered up a nice variety of delicious food. I ordered a cheeseburger, something I generally do when I go out to eat, because I love them, and never make them at home. Somehow, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make a cheeseburger as good as the ones I get at restaurants. This one was particularly good — deliciously seasoned, topped with those crispy fried onions, and a bleu cheese sauce. Heaven! I find that you can tell a lot about a restaurant by their cheeseburger, but I digress.

A good portion of the women with me ordered chicken piccata. Chicken piccata! I can make that at home in no time. I shared my feelings with the women at the table, whose only response was to look at me as though I had just landed from another planet. You see, about 90% of the women in my neighborhood don’t cook. The thought of making chicken piccata, even though I told them it can be on the table in about 15 minutes, is as foreign to them as higher math is to me.

It was that lunch out that prompted this tutorial. Anybody can make this. There is just nothing to it. Four ingredients, people! Chicken, chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers. It’s going to be just as good as what you eat out, at a fraction of the cost. Dazzle your family and friends. There’s nothing easier.

You Can Do It! Chicken Piccata

1 skinless and boneless chicken breast, butterflied, halved
Sea salt, garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1-2 T.
brined capers, rinsed
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

Season chicken with salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 T. butter with olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, turn over and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Remove pan from heat; add lemon juice, stock, and capers. Return to flame and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a heated plate, and keep warm. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk to combine. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Serves 2.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Roasted Radishes with Green Goddess Dressing

I have been a fan of radishes all of my life. When I was a little girl, my dad planted a garden in our backyard. He was a radish fan like I was, and we had rows and rows of radishes. It was such fun to see them sprout, and then to see the tops of the little red bulbs as they swelled beneath the earth. My mother was continually perplexed as to why dad planted radishes, asserting that they were one of the cheapest vegetables one could buy, but nothing deterred dad who knew, as I did, that there is ease and joy in radish gardening.

Not everyone shares my love of radishes, and that’s a shame. They are inexpensive, surprisingly nutritious, and more versatile than you can imagine. Dad and I used to eat them warm from the ground with a little salt. But when Mr. O-P was alive, we used to sauté them with freshly chopped chives. They were surprisingly tasty. The French eat them slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt. Cookbook author (I reviewed her book,
Supermarket Healthy here) and TV chef, Melissa d’Arabian, roasts them and serves them with green goddess dressing. I think this just may be my new favorite way of eating them. You can drizzle them with the dressing, or serve it on the side and allow people to dip. Either way, this is a unique and delicious starter for any meal, or to enjoy with cocktails alfresco.
Roasted Radishes with Green Goddess Dressing
 Slightly adapted from Melissa D’Arabian

1 pound radishes, about 15, cut in half, lengthwise
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Green Goddess Dressing:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic (about 1/2 a clove)
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400° F. 
Place the halved radishes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place all the dressing ingredients into a blender and blend just until mixed, about 20 seconds. (The recipe makes extra dressing.)
Serve the radishes warm or room temperature with about half of the sauce — either drizzled on top, or served in a small bowl as a dip.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

El Rancho Tacos

I love taco meat. When I buy ground chuck in a family pack, I will often come home and turn that entire family pack of meat, whether three pounds or five, into taco meat. I will then freeze it in individual 1-pound containers, so that I have it on hand anytime I need it, and, trust me when I tell you, I need it often.

I honestly can’t think of any other meat filling that is so versatile. First of all, you can make tacos, natch. Second, you can mound it on top of the simplest of green salads, top it with your preferred taco toppers, and you have a delicious homemade taco salad. Third, it can be stirred into queso to make a delicious hot dip. You can even have it for breakfast, mounded on top of an omelet and drizzled with salsa. I have even been known to make a Sloppy José (a sloppy joe using taco meat), and it is delicious!

This is my favorite way to make it and employs the use of the
Ultimate Taco Seasoning that I told you about yesterday, as well as a packet of ranch dressing. Somehow the combination of the two gives this such a wonderful flavor. Try this, and you will be making it in huge proportions like I do, and devouring it with gusto.
El Rancho Tacos

2 pounds ground chuck
4 heaping tablespoons Ultimate Taco Seasoning
1 1-ounce package Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
1-1/3 cups water
2 teaspoons minced garlic*
Juice of 1/2 lime

In a 10”-12” sauté pan over medium heat, cook ground beef until brown. Drain fat on a paper towel-lined plate, and return beef to pan. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked down. Serve in tortillas or taco shells with your favorite toppings, or in any way that you see fit. You can even eat it with a spoon.

*In a hurry? Make life easier by using Melissa’s Chopped Garlic, so easy, and from a company that you can trust.

Be sure to check out this post for Ultimate Taco Seasoning in order to make your tacos the best!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

“Ultimate” Taco Seasoning

If you are anything like me, you like to make your seasoning blends at home. There is just something about using the freshest spices, with no stabilizers, that makes seasoning blends the best. Today I am giving you what I consider to be the absolute ULTIMATE taco seasoning mixture ever! Two of the ingredients in this mix I have told you about before, tomato powder and Worcestershire powder. (You can read what I had to say about them here, and you can find the tomato powder here and the Worcestershire powder here.) I strongly encourage you to get both of these. If you make soups or stews, hamburgers or meatloaf, or any type of seasoning blend, these two powders are going to enhance it tremendously. There is a world of difference between seasoning blends that include these, and those that don’t. Make your seasoning blends extra special and include these two powders. My complete recipe is below. This is enough to season 2 pounds of ground beef for tacos. You can cut this in half, or, do what I do and, at least, double it. You are going to want to keep this on hand.
“Ultimate” Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon
tomato powder
½ teaspoon Worcestershire powder

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Two heaping tablespoons equals one commercial packet.

If you are looking for a recipe in which to use this fantastic seasoning, I recommend this DELICIOUS Taco Meatloaf.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Mushroom Chicken Stock

Last week, I went out to lunch with some neighborhood friends, but before I did I put components for chicken stock into the slow cooker and set it to low, so that it could simmer all day long. I had gotten a rotisserie chicken (I find they make absolutely the best stock), had stripped the meat off of it, and placed all of the remaining parts into the slow cooker. I surrounded it with carrots, celery, one package of Melissa’s Pearl Onions, that I had carefully rinsed, a variety of fresh herbs and seasonings, and, on a whim, pulled a package of dried mushrooms out of the cabinet (in this case, Melissa’s Dried Portobellos), gave them a good rinse, and added them to the pot. Adding the dried mushrooms made a world of difference. I have never tasted a better chicken stock than this one! Just looking at the picture here, you can see that it is rich and loaded with flavor. Any dish that calls for chicken stock will be greatly enhanced by using this mushroom variety. Keep this in mind the next time you make stock, adding dried mushrooms is going to benefit it immensely. Let’s face it, when you go to the effort to make a good chicken stock, you want to be amply rewarded.

Mushroom Chicken Stock

1 whole chicken or rotisserie chicken*
1 pkg. Melissa’s Pearl Onions, washed, skin on
2-3 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces, with leaves in tact
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 sprig fresh)
1 teaspoon rubbed sage (or 1 sprig fresh)
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Add cold water to cover.  Cook on low for 8 hours. Allow to cool slightly, and then place a large colander in a large bowl.  Pour the stock into the colander, separating the solids from the liquids.  Discard solids. Pour the stock into jars or containers.  I use various sized plastic containers from 1/2 cup up to 3 cups, so it is premeasured for just about any recipe that I need.   If you plan to freeze the stock, leave about an inch at the top for liquid expansion, otherwise use within three days.  

*As rotisserie chickens tend to be highly seasoned, I find that they yield the most flavorful stock.

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