Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

This recipe is from our friend Paige who got it from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It comes together in a snap. The dish tastes great alone but would also be a nice complement to grilled shrimp, fish, or chicken. I reduced the amount of olive oil the original recipe calls for because the pesto has so much oil in it. Also, the original calls for 1 oz. of frozen spinach, but I omitted it because it's such a small amount that you can't taste it. Warning: This is very garlicky, so consider serving it with mint iced tea. This is delicious served with slice grilled chicken. Enjoy!

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
1 1/2 lb. bowtie (farfalle) pasta
1 1/2 cups pesto (I used Classico brand.)
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
1 1/4 mayonnaise (I use a little less than this.)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup pinenuts, toasted

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
2. Combine pesto, lemon zest and juice, and next 4 ingredients. Toss with pasta. Serve at room temperature, or chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Greek Orzo Salad

I had planned to make Greek-Style Tilapia for dinner tonight but wanted to come up with a new side dish to serve with it. Greek Orzo Salad was my solution and it complemented the fish perfectly. Andy told me that I needed to post the recipe for sure (high praise)! He also suggested this might be a good offering for Grace's Kitchen, the restaurant. It's very easy. The flavor is salty (the olives and feta), a little creamy (the feta and pasta), and bright (the tomatoes). The recipe makes a ton, so be prepared. This is a great change from the typical pasta salad. It would be great served cold with grilled chicken or steak as well. Enjoy!

Greek Orzo Salad
1 box orzo pasta
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 (4-oz.) package feta, crumbled
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook orzo according to package directions. Add grape tomatoes to pasta during the last minute of cooking. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in olives, feta, and oregano. In a small bowl, combine red wine vinegar and olive oil, stirring until combined. Pour over orzo mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Grilled Chicken Nachos

Tonight I decided to change up our basic Black Bean Nachos. My inspiration was the terrific nachos I had for dinner Saturday night at a little restaurant in my dear friend Kris's neighborhood, just north of Atlanta. Two things made those nachos stand out: fresh corn sprinkled over the top and the combination of shredded cheese and a drizzle of queso. While this prep takes a bit more time than my basic recipe, it's worth it. Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Nachos
2 boneless chicken cutlets
Salt and pepper
1/4 lb. sliced white American cheese
1 can Mexican-style diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. black peppe
Homemade Tortilla Chips
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 (9-oz.) package frozen white shoepeg corn, thawed
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin. Grill until chicken is done. Cut into chunks.
2. Combine American cheese, 1/2 of the liquid from the Mexican-style tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. tomato mixture, milk, and next 2 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until cheese melts and mixture is combined.
3. Arrange chips on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle black beans and corn over top. Drain remaining Mexican-style tomato mixture; sprinkle tomatoes and green chiles over chips. Add chicken and shredded Cheddar. Drizzle American cheese mixture over chips.
4. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until shredded cheese melts.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Strawberry Crisp

Strawberries are so cheap at the store right now! The ones I bought today were 99 cents a quart. Because of the abundance, I've been tossing around the idea of making a strawberry cobbler. My father-in-law is visiting us tonight, so this seemed like a good opportunity (he's a willing guinea pig). Instead of a cobbler, I ended up making a crisp because it's easier (no mixing required). I used a half-pint of blackberries to balance out the sweet strawberries. We ate ours with vanilla ice cream. Both Andy and his dad gave dessert two thumbs-up. Enjoy!

Strawberry Crisp
This serves 3 to 4, depending on your portion sizes.
1 quart strawberries, quartered
1/2 pint blackberries
1 tsp. orange zest
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
2/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes

1. Combine strawberries and next 3 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and a syrup forms. Stir in 1 Tbsp. flour, and cook until mixture begins to thicken. Pour into a pie plate or small baking dish.
2. Combine remaining 2 Tbsp. flour and next 2 ingredients in a bowl. Use your fingers to blend butter with oatmeal mixture. Sprinkle oatmeal mixture over top of strawberry mixture.
3. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden.

Potato Salad

We had the easiest dinner in the world tonight: hamburgers on the grill and potato salad. I was inspired to make potato salad during my visit to the farmers market on Friday. They had teeny-tiny red potatoes, which were perfect for potato salad. To make the salad, I cut the potatoes in half or, if they were larger, in quarters, and then cooked them in boiling salted water (no peeling required). Once they were tender, I drained them and rinsed them with cold water; then I placed them in a bowl and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The dressing was equally easy: 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 Tbsp. honey, and 1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence. Once the dressing was blended, I tossed it with the potatoes. Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, AC!

Tonight we celebrated AC's sixth birthday, which was on Wednesday. AC and her sister LB, my brother-in-law Russ, and my mom came for dinner. (Mel is at the beach, so she missed the festivities.) For her dinner, AC requested homemade chicken fingers (according to her sister, that's Spanish for chicken nuggets) and yellow rice—two of her favorite foods. (Her mom and uncle always ask for chicken tenders on their birthdays as well!) We had those along with Zucchini Gratin. Hunta brought mini cupcakes from Whole Foods, which were yummy with ice cream. All in all, the birthday girl had a great time!

Zucchini Gratin

Today I made my first trip of the year to the farmers market. I wanted to see what was available to use in a side dish for dinner. After seeing the bright green zucchini, I decided to make this easy gratin. It is a yummy Barefoot Contessa recipe that tastes like summer. My mom, nieces, and brother-in-law joined us for dinner and AC declared she wasn't going to eat the "pickle casserole." I assured she and LB that it was only for the grownups. Enjoy!

Zucchini Gratin
3 sourdough bread slices
6 Tbsp. butter
2 onions, chopped
6 zucchini, sliced into circles
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk, heated in the microwave
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces

1. Pulse bread slices in food processor to make breadcrumbs; set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet; add onions, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook, covered, for 10 more minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, and cook for 10 more minutes. Stir in flour, and cook 1 minute. Gradually add in hot milk, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Pour mixture into a 13- x 9-inch pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle fresh breadcrumbs over zucchini mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Dot butter pieces along top.
3. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.

Chicken Piccata

Chicken cutlets may be one of my favorite convenience products in the grocery store. They are expensive, but if you need dinner on the table in a hurry—they can't be beat. Even better, they were on sale this past week. I decided to use them to make Chicken Piccata. (You can also do this by pounding boneless, skinless chicken breasts until they are flat.) The sauce for this dish is chicken stock, lemon juice, and butter—simple and delicious! I served the dish over Mashed Potatoes. Steam-in-the-bag sugar snap peas rounded out the meal. Enjoy! Note: This recipe has 5 WW points per serving.

Chicken Piccata
1 package chicken cutlets
Salt and pepper
Greek seasoning (Creole or Grill seasoning would also work)
All-purpose flour
Olive oil
1 cup chicken stock (white wine can also be substituted)
3 Tbsp. butter
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, cut into thin slices

1. Sprinkle both sides of cutlets with salt, pepper, and Greek seasoning. Dredge cutlets in flour.
2. Place cutlets in hot oil in large skillet. Cook until done on both sides (about 5 minutes total). Pour in stock. Add in butter, lemon juice, and lemon slices. Cook until liquid evaporates a little and begins to thicken.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recipe Index

I have been working on completing an index of all the recipes on my blog for the past few weeks; I'm happy to announce that it's now complete. Several friends have asked for this feature and I hope it will be a useful tool. Find it at the top, left of the screen. (Side note: I have posted the most dessert recipes—77—over the past two years. Who knew I liked sweets that much?!) Please let me know if you would like additional categories. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Barbecue Pork Quesadillas

Tonight we used the leftover pork tenderloin from Monday to make super-easy quesadillas. I arranged flour tortillas on a baking sheet and topped them with the shredded pork mixture and shredded Colby-Jack cheese. Then additional flour tortillas went on top and were coated with cooking spray. They baked at 400° for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese and crisp the tortillas a bit. Enjoy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pork Tenderloin Sliders With Coleslaw

For dinner tonight and a meal later in the week, I cooked two pork tenderloins in the slow cooker with herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, orange juice, apple juice, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. For tonight's dinner, I shredded one tenderloin and tossed it with some Lemony Barbecue Sauce. Then I served it on whole wheat dinner rolls from Whole Foods (hence the term "sliders"). The coleslaw recipe is one I made up on the spot, combining some of my favorite slaw flavors—very easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Lemony Barbecue Sauce
This is my take on Grannie's classic.
1 1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. butter
Juice from 2 lemons
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Simmer ketchup, butter, lemon juice, 2 lemon halves, and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan until thoroughly heated and flavors are combined.

1 head cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Combine cabbage and next 5 ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in oil. Pour mixture over cabbage mixture; toss to coat.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Strawberry-Orange Syrup

For today's pancake installment, I made Buttermilk Pancakes with a twist. I had forgotten to buy syrup on last week's shopping trip, so I decided to make do with on-hand ingredients. Sliced strawberries were combined with a little sugar, some orange juice, and a splash of amaretto for a yummy pancake topping. Enjoy!

Strawberry-Orange Syrup
1 Tbsp. butter
1 pint strawberries, sliced or cut into quarters
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. amaretto

1. Melt butter in a skillet; stir in strawberries and sugar. Cook until sugar dissolves. Stir in orange juice and amaretto, and cook until slightly thickened. Serve over pancakes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Recipe Rewind: Grilled Flank Steak Salad

This salad is one of our go-to meals when the weather is warm. It's particularly good in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak; tonight I used grape tomatoes. There wasn't any blue cheese in the fridge, but that is a nice addition if you have some. Andy grilled the flank steak and then cut it into thin strips. Homemade Croutons are super easy but make it seem special; the dressing is a streamlined (read: I didn't add minced garlic) version of Balsamic Vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010


It's been years since I've made this easy dish. In fact, I don't think we've had it once in the eight years we've lived in this house. (Think of it as a calzone shaped like a tube!) When we first got married, I made it all the time. It's super simple! Originally, I made Stromboli with frozen French bread dough. However tonight I used Publix pizza dough. This worked better and wasn't as thick as the bread dough. You can layer the dough with any combination of meat/cheese/spread. Tonight we had turkey/provolone/sun-dried tomato pesto. Enjoy!

1 round pizza dough, rolled out
Sun-dried tomato pesto
10 slices smoked deli turkey
5 sliced provolone cheese

1. Spread pesto on pizza dough. On one side, layer cheese along outer long edge of dough. Top with turkey slices. Starting with side of dough with meat and cheeese, roll up dough. Pinch ends to seal. Place on a baking sheet.
2. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until done.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cranberry-Orange Pancakes

The latest installment in Paula's Pancake Chronicles

Cranberry-Orange Pancakes
This serves two but can easily be doubled.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. orange zest
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a bowl. Combine buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; gently stir liquid into flour mixture just until combined. Stir in dried cranberries.
2. Spoon batter by quarter cupfuls onto lightly greased hot grill pan. Turn over when bubbles form on the surface. Serve warm with warm syrup.