Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Broccoli Slaw

My friend, Susan, shared this recipe with me many years ago and it has become a family favorite. This simple slaw packs a lot of flavor and adds a crunch to any meal. It is simple and can be partially made ahead. For Melissa and Trey's party, Nan added craisins to "kick it up a notch"!

Broccoli Slaw

1 package broccoli slaw
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 packages Ramen noodles, crushed

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Toss together almonds and noodles (without the seasoning pack) and bake for 10 - 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Toss broccoli slaw and onions in dressing and refrigerate for 2 - 4 hours. Stir in toasted almonds and noodles and serve immediately. Yield: 6 - 8 servings.

6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Pour ingredients into a jar and shake to blend.

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is a staple in Southern cooking. I'm not talking about the tasteless, orange stuff you buy in the grocery store, but the homemade variety. The basic ingredients are sharp cheddar cheese, diced pimentos, mayonnaise and a little red pepper. This delicious spread was traditionally served on white bread and was at every picnic. In the days before fast food, pimento cheese was stuffed into the cooler to be used for sandwiches on our trips to Florida. During my college days, I often had pimento cheese sandwiches and coffee for breakfast.

My recipe has evolved over the years. If I'm in a hurry and need a pantry version, I just grate sharp cheddar, add diced pimentos, moisten with mayonaise and season with red pepper. For Melissa and Trey's party, I used my latest creation with a blend of cheddar, pepper jack and cream cheese.

Whatever recipe you use, it is delicious on bread - whole wheat is my favorite - or crackers or used as a stuffing for celery sticks. The flavor is best if served at room temperature and will be a lot easier to spread.

Pimento Cheese for a Crowd

2 pounds sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 pound pepper Jack cheese, grated
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (7-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
2/3 teaspoon granulated garlic
2/3 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 1/3 cup mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to blend. Yield: 60 sandwiches.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Black-Eyed Pea Salad meets all the requirements when feeding a crowd. It is simple, make-ahead salad that looks and tastes good. We served this at Melissa and Trey's party. If I were making this for the family, I would double the amount of jalopeno peppers since we all like our food a little spicy. If you have any leftovers, serve with tortilla chips as a snack.

Black-eyed Pea Salad

1 gallon can of black-eyed peas
16-ounces frozen corn
2 (28-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, chopped
4 onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 jalopeno peppers, chopped
4 limes, juiced
2/3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 cup canola oil
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Rinse and drain peas. Cook corn in boiling water for 5 minutes until tender. Combine peas, corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions, celery, garlic and lime juice in a large container. Whisk together apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard in a bowl. Slowly add canola while whisking. Pour over vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Yield: 40 - 45 servings.

Enhanced Brownies

My Enhanced Brownies were inspired by friends at the Food Network. Emeril likes to "kick it up a notch" so I decided to take Sandra Lee's advice and go "semi-homemade" and start with a basic brownie mix. And the Barefoot Contessa always adds instant espresso to her chocolate dishes. These were served at Melissa and Trey's party and they must have been pretty good since there were no leftovers. Give them a try - I promise you will not be disappointed.

Enhanced Brownies

1 family-size brownie mix
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons instant espresso
1 cup pecans, chopped

Prepare the brownie mix according to the package directions. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to blend. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and spray will oil. Pour brownies into pan and bake according to the package directions. You may need to add 5 extra minutes to your baking since the chocolate chips were added.

Cool in the pan before removing. These can be prepared a couple of days ahead of time and stored in the baking pan, tightly covered for 2 days.

I apologize for the rather sketchy directions, but a lot depends on the brand of brownie mix. Lining the pan with parchment paper makes removable and cutting much easier.

Melissa and Trey

Love was in the air at Quail Hollow on Saturday night as friends and family gathered to celebrate the engagement of Melissa and Trey. The weather was perfect and everyone had a wonderful time. Check out the video!

Our Southern menu included:
Southern Fried Chicken

As for the chicken, we bought it, but everything else was prepared by Nan and me. Now, all of you know that I use my blog for a handy reference to recipes and events, and the rest of this post is for those wondering just how much food you need to serve 50 - 60.
  • Fried Chicken Strips - 75 pieces
  • Tomato Grits - 6 recipes. Many came back for seconds and there was very little left.
  • Black-eyed Pea Salad - 1 1/2 recipes. I made 2 recipes and had plenty of leftovers.
  • Broccoli Slaw -
  • Sweet Pickles - 1 quart
  • Enhanced Brownies - 4 - 5 recipes. We made 5 and had some leftovers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Taste and Create

My partner for this month's Taste and Create is Min from The Bad Girl's Kitchen. Min has an extensive collection of recipes and I was tempted by many of her pasta creations. But with Melissa and Trey's party on Saturday, I was looking for quick and easy. Min's Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans caught my interest. This is truly one of those dump and cook meals. The night before, I chopped the onions and red bell pepper to make an early morning assembly easy. You don't even need to soak the beans overnight. I used my favorite salsa from the produce counter at Publix. But I must say that Min is one spicy gal! The stew is rather hot and next time I will cut back on the heat.
If you have leftovers, fill a warm flour tortilla with the chicken and beans and top with lettuce, salsa and sour cream for another quick meal.

Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans
serves 4

1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 jar (11 ounces) mild or medium salsa (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles, in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles, flour, and 1 cup water. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.

Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. (Do not open lid or stir.)

Remove chicken from stew; shred into large pieces and return to stew. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Egg Olive Sandwiches

Sometimes the simplest ingredients are all it takes to create the perfect sandwich. That is the case with Egg Olive Sandwiches. This was a favorite of my childhood. Mama would often pack the sandwich with chips for a perfect school lunch.

Egg Olive Sandwiches

6 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1o olives, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices whole wheat bread

Combine the eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on bread for a delicious sandwich. Yield: 4 sandwiches

Spring at Quail Hollow

Finally, spring has arrived. Today was a beautiful day - warm and sunny. The pond is full of life with 10 new baby Canada geese. The baby birds in the wreath on the front door have hatched. Enjoy the video of spring.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Roasted New Potatoes and Asparagus

It is 6:00 and I have no idea what we are having for dinner? Does that sound familiar? Since we are leaving town, I do have some asparagus that needs to be cooked and after a quick search of the freezer found a couple of filets. But what could I do with the asparagus, other than the usual saute in olive oil and garlic? I teamed the asparagus with new potatoes and roasted them for a great compliment to the beef.

Roasted New Potatoes and Asparagus

8 small potatoes, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Parmesan cheese, grated
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the potatoes, onions and garlic on a baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Add the asparagus to the potato mixture, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender-crisp.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and add the lemon juice. Toss and top with Parmesan cheese. Yield: 4 servings

Decorating Eggs

Hail! Yes, I said hail. That was the weather as we prepared to dye our Easter eggs. It was one of those scary storms, high winds, heavy rain and marble-size hail. Of course, while we should have been taking cover, we were outside on the porch watching the action and taking pictures.

After the storm, it was egg-dying time. Even Kenny got in on the fun!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Madiera and Mushroom Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

It doesn't get much better than beef tenderloin. For our March meal with Dale and Susan, we attempted to make Paula Deen's Madeira and Mushroom Stuffed Beef Tenderloin. I say attempted because we made some changes in the preparation. First of all, we had to trim the tenderloin which is not one of my favorite preps and is better left to the butcher. And the directions were hard to follow when it came to cutting the meat for stuffing. But the results were delicious. Here is our version.

Madeira and Mushroom Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces proscuitto, finely chopped
24 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup Madeira wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 (6 pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Roasted Garlic Madeira Sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add proscuitto and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until crispy. Remove the proscuitto, leaving the drippings. Add mushrooms and onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add wine and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked proscuitto, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool.

Cut the tenderloin down the center to within 1/2 inch. Open the tenderloin and spread 3/4 of the mushroom mixture over the tenderloin. Reshape the tenderloin and tie at with butcher's twine. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Place tenderloin on a greased baking rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 145 degrees. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve diwth Roasted Garlic Madeira Sauce.

Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Madeira Sauce

1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Madeira wine
Reserved mushroom stuffing
1 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut off the top of the garlic and place on a square of heavy duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, seal in the foil and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool.

In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Squeeze pulp form the garlic into the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and mushroom stuffing and simmer until the wine is reduced by half.

In a small bowl, combine the beef broth and cornstarch. Add to the wine mixture and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute or until thickened. Serve over Stuffed Beef Tenderloin. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Roasted Tomatoes

I am craving the tomatoes of summer. It has been 5 months without those tasty treats and it will be several more before we have fresh tomatoes from the garden. At our March meal with Dale and Susan, we used Ina Gartin's recipe for Roasted Tomatoes. I was very skeptical about the results and pleasantly surprised with the intense flavor. This is a very simple dish and a great way to enjoy tomatoes during the winter months.

Roasted Tomatoes

12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cored and seeded
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 4 to 5 servings.