Friday, May 29, 2020

Three Olive Potato Salad

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In my family, potato salad was a main staple of every summertime event. I can still remember being barely able to see over the counter, watching my mother cube potatoes into a large bowl where she would eventually add lots of other ingredients, stir it together with a large wooden spoon (that I now have), and it would turn those potatoes into something magical. Sounds simple, right? Well...

When I married the late Mr. O-P, I had a rather rude awakening. I made the potato salad of my youth, and presented it to him. Apparently he and his family did things differently. They didn’t cube potatoes, they sliced them. He wasn’t happy with my efforts at all! It was then that I came to realize that, when it comes to potato salad, there are “slice people” and there are “cube people.” I, my friends, am a cube person. When you make this potato salad, feel free to slice them if you must, but do make this delicious version with three kinds of olives. Olive lover or not, you will love this intensely flavorful version, while maintaining its comfortable familiarity.
Three Olive Potato Salad

5 lbs.
Melissa’s Baby Red Potatoes
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped red onion
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
½ c. sliced black olives
½ c. sliced
green olives stuffed with garlic
½ c. sliced Kalamata olives
½ c. chopped Melissa’s Red Bell Peppers
½ c. sweet pickle relish
½ c. chopped dill pickles
½ t. smoked paprika
2 T.
stone ground mustard
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place potatoes into a large pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.

Remove peel from potatoes, and cut into chunks. Place potatoes in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine. If the potato salad is too dry, add additional mayonnaise and cider vinegar in equal portions.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sweet & Spicy Coleslaw

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While backyard barbecues and holiday gatherings may be a bit different this year, the food remains the same. I have been craving summer food like ribs on the grill, mounds of potato salad, deviled eggs, and coleslaw. Inasmuch as coleslaw is perfectly good on its own, I find I like it more as a sandwich topper. If you have never tried that, put a mound on top of a barbecued beef sandwich, burger, or, as I have done here, a homemade Sloppy Joe. It is so good. This is my favorite recipe for coleslaw. It was inspired by of Bobby Flay's recipe. As simple as it looks, it has a lot of flavor.

Sweet & Spicy Coleslaw
Inspired by Bobby Flay

1 sm. head green cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, finely shredded
1/3 c. Duke’s mayonnaise
1 T. sour cream
1 T. grated
Melissa's shallot 
2 T. granulated sugar
1 T. cider vinegar
1 t.
dry mustard
1 t. celery salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving, preferably overnight.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Cheesy Spinach Pull-Apart Bread with Hearts of Palm

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 In your family do you have things that you refer to as “party food?“ We do. This generally applies to finger foods, baked appetizers, and other truly wonderful little edibles that we tend to only make for parties, and never for ourselves. Why is that? I mean, we love this food, why not enjoy it more often? Today, I decided that I was going to make party food for myself.

This is super simple to make. The filling can be made the day before, and assembly is a breeze so that you can bake it up just before you’re ready to enjoy it. Dividing the filling between the slices of biscuit is best accomplished by using a
cookie scoop, as I did. Seriously, this went together in no time at all. I had it with a spinach and strawberry salad, and enjoyed myself tremendously. More party food is in my future, I guarantee!
Cheesy Spinach Pull-Apart Bread with Hearts of Palm

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature 
½ c. finely chopped Melissa’s Hearts of Palm 
½ c. finely chopped baby spinach
1 c. shredded mozzarella, divided
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan
   1 t. minced garlic
¼ t. red pepper flakes
Pinch kosher salt
  Freshly ground black pepper
 tube Pillsbury refrigerated biscuit dough
Fresh or dried parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9"-x-5" loaf pan with PAM; set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, hearts of palm, spinach, ½ cup mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Cut each biscuit in half horizontally.
Using a cookie scoop, dollop 2 tablespoons of the dip mixture onto one side of each biscuit half.
Stack biscuits so that there is a layer of dip between each biscuit, leaving the ends plain.

Place your biscuit stack into prepared loaf pan. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil. 
Brush with butter, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella, and bake 15 minutes more, until biscuits are golden and cheese is melted.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and carefully remove. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Frozen Creamsicle Crush

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On Tuesday I told you about my charcuterie breakfast and gave you the recipe for Baked Eggs for One, today I am going to give you the recipe for that wonderfully delicious Frozen Creamsicle Crush. It’s not as easy for us to enjoy ourselves these days as it has been in the past, so I say get likker’d up early. Start at breakfast. It makes a whale of a difference in how you look at the rest of your day. I’m teasing of course…or am I? At any rate, whenever you decide to enjoy this, I think you’ll find it quite delicious.
Frozen Creamsicle Crush

1/2 of 6-oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate
½ c. water
½ c. whole milk
3 oz. Whipped Cream Vodka
¼ c. sugar
½ t. vanilla
5 - 6 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in
high-speed blender for 30-45 seconds. Makes 3 cups.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Breakfast Charcuterie: Baked Eggs for One

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I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the popular charcuterie board. Essentially, it is a board full of attractively displayed and varied types of meats, cheeses, and condiments, along with cornichons, olives of all types, nuts, sometimes a bit of sweet, and flatbread or crackers. It is a fun way to relax with friends while enjoying cocktails, because it allows you to graze at your leisure.

Something new to social media is the breakfast charcuterie, similar to the above, but with items more suitable to the day’s first meal. Because we are all in self-isolation, I didn’t want to make (and had no need for) a large board, so I decided to make a breakfast charcuterie for one. It was so enjoyable to sit down with this beautiful meal. I’ll be giving you the recipe for the delicious cocktail in my next post (Yes, around here, cocktail hour is 24/7, give me trouble, and I’ll fight you.), but for now, I will share the recipe for the baked eggs.

This is a very versatile recipe. Mine was vegetarian, but feel free to add crumbled bacon, crumbled cooked sausage, or diced ham. I find it bakes up the best (and offers a serving significant enough to enjoy) in square ramekins like
Baked Eggs for One

2 large eggs
1 T. whole milk
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
2 button mushrooms, sliced
1 scallion, chopped
1/3 c. chopped, fresh spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a small baking dish with PAM; set aside. Whisk together eggs and milk until light and fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Bang Bang Cauliflower

It is a real challenge, isn’t it, to walk that fine line between treating yourself and eating healthy. Sometimes it seems impossible to do both. Not so with this recipe that your entire family will enjoy. Set up a dipping station, and the process goes fairly quickly. While the cauliflower is roasting, make your Bang Bang Sauce. If there’s any sauce left over, use it for dipping vegetables, tater tots, french fries, or on a burger for Bang Bang Burgers.
Bang Bang Cauliflower

2 large eggs, beaten with 1 T. water
½ c. flour
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Separate head of cauliflower into bite-size, but large-ish florettes.

In a medium shallow bowl, combine panko with paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Coat cauliflower first in flour, then egg, and then the panko mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes, carefully turn them over, and bake 10-12 minutes more, until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

While cauliflower is baking, make Bang Bang Sauce (recipe below).
Serve cauliflower with drizzled with Bang Bang Sauce (or as a dipping sauce on the side).

Bang Bang Sauce
½ c. mayonnaise
1 t. sriracha

Whisk above ingredients together in a small bowl. Will keep in the refrigerator 3-5 days.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Chicken Tikka Salad with Yogurt Mint Dressing

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There is no doubt about it these are unique times. But, I have always contended that there is good and bad in everything, and some of the good comes from connections that I have made on Twitter. I am a fan of the British television series, “Father Brown.” John Burton, who plays Constable Goodfellow in that series, is on Twitter, and he cooks! One day he posted a picture of a chicken tikka salad that he had made, and it looked so good that I had to try it. I took a chance, and asked him for the recipe, and he was only too happy to provide it.
Photo credit: IMDb
This is my own unique twist on John’s salad. Everything can be prepared a day in advance, and you can cook up the chicken shortly before serving. Do allow the chicken to cool before putting it on the salad, or your lettuce will wilt.
Chicken Tikka Salad
Inspired by John Burton

For the salad:
1 small head green leaf lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
Sliced cucumber
Thinly sliced red onion
1 apple, diced
¼ c. walnuts

For the marinade
1 c. whole plain yogurt
2 t.
garam masala
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. cardamom
1 t. ground turmeric
1 t. paprika
1 t. kosher salt
1 t.
ground coriander
1 T. Melissa’s minced garlic
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and minced
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

Prepare the marinade: in a medium bowl combine all marinade ingredients. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day combine salad ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.

Remove marinated chicken from the refrigerator. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken AND marinade and cook, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through, 3-4 minutes aside. Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Once chicken has cooled slightly toss it with the salad greens to combine. Drizzle with Yogurt Mint Dressing (recipe below).

Yogurt Mint Dressing
 ½ c. whole plain yogurt
1 - 2 t. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Add more lemon juice to thin, if desired.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Meyer Lemon Sugar Cookies

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I generally never do two dessert posts in a row, but I had four egg yolks left over from that White Snack Cake that I made, and I needed to do something with them. I asked friends for ideas, and my aunt mentioned an old family favorite sugar cookie recipe that called for three of them. As I remembered those sugar cookies quite fondly, I decided that’s what I was going to do. But I also had a fresh lemon off of my Meyer lemon tree, so decided to turn our family favorite sugar cookies into Meyer Lemon Sugar Cookies, with quite pleasing results. Lemon lovers will enjoy these, sugar cookie purest will enjoy these, kids, of course, will enjoy these. They’re easy to put together -- don’t bother with rolling them into balls (don’t you just hate that?!) -- just use a cookie scoop, and plop that dough right into a bowl of granulated sugar. Roll it around a bit, and put it on a cookie sheet. Done! Crisp, refreshing, sugar cookie deliciousness.
Meyer Lemon Sugar Cookies

2 stick (1 c.) butter
1½ c. granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla
1 t.
lemon oil
1 T. Meyer Lemon zest
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cream butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon flavoring, and lemon zest, beat until combined. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Slowly add the flour to the creamed mixture. Do not over beat. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 13 - 15 minutes until edges just begin to brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, May 11, 2020

White Almond Snack Cake

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I like cake. I like white cake. I like bakery cake. I like wedding cake. My mother found this exasperating, because she didn’t think any of those cakes had much taste. I thought the taste was subtle, but wonderful. I’m not going to give you the whys and wherefores as to how much I love cake; you can read about that in my post about the White Almond Cake. No, today I’m going to give you a mini version of that White Almond Cake in this White Almond Snack Cake. Now, I’m going to be honest with you, it is a bit of work, but then isn’t everything? The plus here is that it only makes a small cake, and you don’t have to deal with stacking layers. This cake also makes wonderful petit fours if you’re looking to do that for a shower, tea party, or children’s party. All you need to do is cut these into small squares. Then get yourself a can of white icing, put it in the microwave for a minute, stir it up, and pour it over all of those little cake cubes. Allow the icing time to dry, and you will have the most precious little cakes, and can decorate them as you see fit. I just used a star tip to decorate this one. I made it for myself, but just because I did, doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty.
White Almond Snack Cake

½ c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
½ c. whole milk, room temperature
1½ c. cups cake flour
2 t. baking powder
4 egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8” x 8” pan with Baker’s Joy; set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter at medium speed until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.

Stir together milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Sift together flour and baking powder. With mixer set on low, alternately add flour and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just blended.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form; gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350°F for 35-38 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.
Frost with Almond Butter Cream Frosting

Almond Butter Cream Frosting

3 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/3 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 to 2 T. whole milk

Beat together sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Add remaining ingredients and beat at high-speed for five minutes, until light and fluffy, add more milk to thin, if necessary.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Crunchy Beef Bake

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What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the words “comfort food?“ Don’t over think it, what is first thing that popped in your head? For me, it’s noodles. Any kind of noodle, I’m not picky, and it’s even better if that noodle happens to be baked into a casserole. It can be spaghetti noodles like in Baked Spaghetti, egg noodles as in this Comforting Chicken Noodle Casserole, rotini noodles as in this ultra delicious and ever-so-comforting, Pimiento Mac and Cheese, even chow mein noodles as I use in Oriental Beef Casserole. It doesn’t matter the kind, I just have to have noodles for true comfort, and if I want to maximize that, I also need ground beef.

This was of great comfort to me today. It was easy to put together, tasty and satisfying, and the extra crunch from those French fried onions was most welcome. This is the kind of food that we all need during difficult times, no matter what is causing those difficulties. My son and his family tried this, and it was thumbs up all around. Kid friendly, family-friendly, comforting and tasty, really, what more do you really need?
Crunchy Beef Bake

6-oz. campanelle pasta*
1 lb. ground chuck
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (6-oz.) can
 French fried onions
¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese
½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ t.
Montreal Steak Seasoning
½ c. beef stock
½ c. freshly brewed black coffee

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a two-quart casserole dish with PAM; set aside.

Prepare pasta as directed on box. While pasta is cooking, brown ground chuck; drain. Combine all ingredients except onions. Pour half of the beef/pasta mixture into the casserole dish. Scatter 1/2 of the can of onions evenly over mixture. Add remaining beef/pasta mixture. Cover and bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and top with remaining onions. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5-7 minutes.

*Or an equal amount of whatever noodle you have on hand.