Friday, June 27, 2008

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

This is a summertime favorite in my household. When it's too hot to turn on the oven, throw these yummy ingredients together in a bowl and, voilĂ ! Dinner is served. Of course, you can always add some grilled chicken for a meaty take.

1 head of green leaf lettuce, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced
½ pint fresh strawberries, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
curtons or sliced almonds (optional)
Marie Callender’s Poppyseed Dressing (others can substitute, but this is the best)

Chop, mix, and enjoy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Southern Style Baked Chicken

This is a healthful take on some southern cooking. I just made this recipe up as I went, so feel free to modify to suite your tastes.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of bread crumbs
1/2 cup of quick cooking oats
1 cup milk
salt/pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs. parsley
2 tbs. Parmesan cheese
4 dabs of butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the milk in shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs, oats, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and cheese together in another shallow bowl.

Dip chicken in the milk, then in the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to coat well on both sides.

Place in non-stick baking dish or pan. Put a dab of butter atop each breast. Cook 30 to 45 minutes.

Goes great as is, or with country gravy and rice.

Or, with only a few minutes of cooking left, add a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and some broccoli, or sliced tomato, to the top of each chicken breast.

Black Bean and Ham Soup

I am not a soup lover. In fact I have several, um, "yucky" experiences with soups and therefore I tend to stay away from them. However, there are just some days that require a warm and cozy meal. Yesterday was such a day.

As I was making out my weekly menu and grocery list, the weather turned ugly. Dark clouds, howling wind and pelting rain against my window. I decided that it was a perfect night for soup. (Of course, in true Vermont fashion, by dinner time it was sunny and 40 degrees. I just can't win!)

Anyway, it turned out delicious. In case anyone is in need of something yummy to cook for dinner tonight, here is the recipe I used.

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion (or 2 small shallots), diced
6 cloves garlic, diced
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes, diced)
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup frozen corn
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cubed ham
2 limes
1/4 cup cilantro (or half a bunch)
1 avocado, sliced (optional garnish)
sour cream (optional garnish)

Heat olive oil in large pot (I used my slow cooker). Add in onion and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent. Add in beans, tomatoes and corn. Pour in chicken stock- just enough to cover ingredients. (I don't like extremely watery soups, so I added less than I originally planned. Probably only 3 cups.)

Season with chili powder and/or salt and pepper- to taste.

Let cook on high in crock pot, or med-high on stove, for 2 hours. Then add in diced ham and the juice from the 2 limes. Continue cooking 1 hour, or until the ham is warmed through.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. (I found mine needed more chili powder, but I like things a bit spicy.)

Serve garnished with dollop of sour cream, sliced avocado and cilantro.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BBQ Meatloaf

I grew up eating meat loaf. It was one of my mom's 10 go-to recipes. In order to get my brothers and I to eat it she added a cup of salsa to the mix. Anything with salsa is yummy in my book. I had planned to cook mom's version several times, but my hubby's grimace every time I mentioned it kept me from trying. He was not a meatloaf fan, at all.

That is, until I came up with this little recipe. This meat loaf is now his favorite meal of all time. And best of all, it's super easy to make.

for the loaf...
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 grated cheese
salt/pepper, to taste

for glaze...
2 tbsp favorite BBQ sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1/2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease baking dish.

In a medium sized bowl, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Form beef into loaf and place in the baking dish.

Tip: Place two slices of bread on the bottom of your dish before adding the meatloaf and the bread will soak up all the extra grease.

In a separate bowl, mix together all ingredients for the sauce. Spread over the meat loaf, coating all sides. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake for 30-45 minutes.

I usually serve this with a fresh, green salad and couscous.