Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BBQ Chicken Salad

I tried to recreate the BBQ Chicken Salad from Zupas. And I have to say it came pretty close. I have just seen them make it. It is super easy and a great quick dinner for the summer.

BBQ Chicken Salad

2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Place chicken breasts on baking dish and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for about 30 to 40 minutes until cooked through. You can also poach the chicken but I find it loses lots of its flavor so I would poach it in a chicken stock and water combo.

After the chicken has rested for 10 minutes, chop up the chicken in bite size pieces.

Combine chopped sweet lettuces and iceburg lettuce in a bowl. Find your favorite ranch dressing and dilute it a bit with milk if it is a little "blobby". I don't like "blobby" ranch. And add enough dressing so that is lightly covers the lettuce. Then all you do is add a couple of tablespoons of each:
chopped tomatoes
canned black beans, drained
canned corn, drained, or even better, grilled, fresh corn
black olives, sliced
chopped chicken

And to make it BBQ, drizzle your favorite BBQ sauce over top of the salad, and add crunchy tortilla strips. So easy and yummy. Serve it with homemade cornbread (again, for the carb lover! I think I have my favorite cornbread recipe on the blog).

Grilled Greek Chicken and Tzatziki sauce

Sometimes in the summer I feel like something a little lighter for dinner. I love Greek food and tried out my own Greek spin on dinner. I added a a side of chopped lettuce, cucumbers, and feta cheese. Ooh, and don't forget a warm pita if you are a carb lover like me! I like Ezekiel Bread, it's a whole wheat pita and I get it from Whole Foods. It's a great alternative to bread if you are watching your carbs. But why would you want to do that ;)?

Grilled Greek Chicken

2 chicken breasts
about 3 tablespoons lemon juice
about 1/2 cup olive oil
about 1-2 tsp oregano
about 1-2 tsp paprika
about 1-2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Okay, so I did this without really measuring. That's just how I do lots of my marinades. So my measurements above are really estimates. But the good news is that you can't really mess it up. Mix up the the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Then taste it. See if you want to add anything more of the ingredients. I know this is frustrating to some, but really this is the best way to learn how to cook. BUT do taste the marinade BEFORE you put the chicken in it! Eeeek, you do not want to do that once the chicken is in the marinade. Once you feel the marinade is to your liking, then let the chicken marinade in it for about 6 hours.

I grilled the chicken breasts on my cast iron grill/skillet. Makes it taste so "rustic yummy" (if that is even a proper adjective). You can also do it on an outside grill.

Tzatziki Sauce


  • 16 oz of sour cream (if you use greek yogurt you must drain it in cheese cloth)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber - peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder


In a food processor or blender, combine yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic. Process until well-combined. Transfer to a separate dish, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for best flavor.

Baked French Toast Casserole

I had extra time and extra french bread one Friday evening and decided to throw this together so that we would have a yummy breakfast the next morning. It's really quite easy, do all the prep the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Then all you need to do is pop it in the oven the next morning. Perhaps top it with fresh berries, no syrup needed. It is already sweet and moist.

A Paula Deen Recipe!


  • 1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash salt
  • Praline Topping, recipe follows
  • Maple syrup


Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup

Praline Topping:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter (Melissa did not use this much butter, just one stick)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

Mushroom Tetrazzini

I love mushrooms! I don't know why, but I love them. So this is a great meat-free pasta that tastes hearty and satisfying - proved to me that I don't always need meat in my dinner menu to feel satisfied! Throw together a fresh green salad with it and voila!

adapted from Rachael Ray


  • 1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry or Marsala
  • 1 cup cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • About a cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus some to pass at table
  • 1 pound egg tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 1 cup frozen organic peas, defrosted
  • Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta.

Heat EVOO and butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and thyme, and cook to tender, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper, and add shallots and garlic. Sauté another 4-5 minutes then deglaze the pan with sherry or Marsala. Stir in cream and bring to a bubble then reduce heat to low and simmer. Season with nutmeg. When pasta is just about done, turn off heat and stir in cheese, a couple of handfuls. Cover and reserve.

Cook pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup starchy cooking liquid, then drain pasta and return to hot pot with peas. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid and mushroom sauce, and toss to combine, 1-2 minutes. Add more water as necessary to coat pasta evenly.

Serve in shallow bowls topped with parsley and pass more cheese at table.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Josh's Birthday Chocolate Cake!

I normally don't pay too much attention to the recipes on the back of packages and boxes. BUT this is a chocolate cake recipe I got straight from the Hersheys Unsweetened Cocoa tin. I made it for Josh's birthday. I followed the cake and frosting recipe exactly, and it was yummy. Taste like what a chocolate cake should taste like, rich and chocolatey. I like my chocolate cakes to have substance;) It's nice to have a cake from scratch every now and then. So if you are looking for a chocolate cake recipe, look no further than the back of the Hershey's cocoa tin.

But don't get my wrong, I am a big cake mix fan;)

I don't feel like posting the recipe but it is easy to find:)

Turkey Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

My husband loves this shepherds pie, he is a big fan of sweet potatoes. So I have made this a couple of times in the fall. It a great cool weather/fall dinner. The picture isn't the best, but it is a tasty and filling dish, though I think my husband likes it more than me. (It's a Rachael Ray recipe)


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey or chopped leftover turkey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken stock (recommended: Kitchen Basics brand)
  • A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas
  • 1 very ripe banana ( I instead added some brown sugar and a little butter)
  • A few dashes hot sauce
  • 2 cups shredded sharp yellow Cheddar (I usually have put this on, but if you are making your sweet potatoes sweeter, then I prefer without it)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a deep skillet or a Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Add meat and break up with a wooden spoon, season with salt and pepper and poultry seasoning.

Place sweet potatoes in a pot, cover with water, cover pot, bring to a boil, salt and cook 15 minutes until tender.

Grate onions and carrots into the turkey. Add the celery and stir, cook 5 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add flour to melted butter and whisk 1 minute then whisk in stock and season with salt, pepper and Worcestershire. Thicken a few minutes.

Stir the gravy into the turkey mixture. Stir peas into meat and turn heat off.

Drain potatoes and return pot to heat. Add remaining butter and melt over medium heat. Peel and slice banana and add potatoes to the pot. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and a few dashes hot sauce. Mash potatoes and banana to combine, adjust seasoning. Top the meat with the potatoes. Cover potatoes with cheese and set in oven. Bake to melt cheese, 5 minutes.

Linguini con Vongole e Cozze

Here is my finished product! I served it with a crusty garlic bread.

I LOVE seafood and lately I have been craving a savory pasta dish with clams and mussels. I had some in Italy and at other restaurants I have been to in the past year, and I loved it. I had never really had mussels or clams (besides clam chowder) in a dish until recently and now it is one of my favorite things. Steamed mussels with fresh, crusty bread to dip in the broth or clams with pasta, you name it, I like all of it!

So here is a seafood pasta dish from Emeril Lagasse with a little alterations. The nice thing about this dish is it is flexible and easy to alter, like most pasta dishes.

I found some good fresh mussels and clams at a nearby place. In fact ALL but one of them opened when I steamed them, which means all but that one are good to eat. You will normally have a few that don't open when you steam/cook them and that means you want to throw them out because it's probably bad shell. So whoever says you can't find good seafood when you are not by the sea, I must say you are wrong. Yes, living on the coast gives you better options but, you are not without options when you are landlocked:)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 pounds baby clams (littleneck if available), scrubbed
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into tablespoons (I cut back on the butter by about half, but it probably would be better with all)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic, in all
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pounds fresh angel hair pasta (I used linguini)
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
Bring a pot of salted water up to a boil. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and the garlic cloves. When the garlic starts to turn golden discard the cloves, about 2 minutes. Add the mussels and clams to the oil. Cover the pan and saute the seafood for about 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, or until the shells open. Remove the pan from the heat and discard any shells that did not open. Pour the seafood into a bowl and set aside. Place the saute pan back on the heat and melt the butter with the minced garlic, over medium-low heat, about 2 minutes. I also added some seafood (or chicken stock) to the pan for more liquid. I wanted more of a broth with my pasta. You can also thicken it a LITTLE, with a LITTLE cornstarch. Drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Sauteed mussels and clams with their liquid back into the pan. Saute for 1 minute. Remove the pasta from the water and drain. Place the pasta directly into the saute pan. Remove from the heat and toss the pasta with the mussels and clams. Season with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in the center of an over-sized pasta bowl. Garnish with the grated cheese and chopped parsley.
Like I said, I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but this is basically the way to get this type of dish. Just play around with it:)