Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Asparagus Salad


1/2 pound fresh asparagus, cut in one-inch pieces, grilled or steamed
2 ears of corn on the cob, grilled or steamed
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh cut cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, give or take
salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the top 4 ingredients as listed above: cut the asparagus, either steam in microwave (cut and place in glass bowl, top with cling wrap and microwave for 2-3 minutes, stir and then microwave an additional 2 minutes.  Or place uncut asparagus on your bbq grill, after applying with non-stick cooking spray.  Grill on medium-low on one side for about 4-5 minutes and then turn over and grill an additional 4 minutes.  Cut the grilled asparagus when cooled.   Either grill the corn on the cob on your bbq, wrapping corn in foil and leaving on the medium-low grill for 10 minutes, or microwave for 4-6 minutes.  Once the corn is cooked, cut it from the cob with a sharp knife, and allow to chill.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half and place in a large serving bowl.  Peel and chop a ripe avocado into small pieces.  If unsure how to peel and chop an avocado, try this: with a sharp knife, cut through the avocado peel from top to bottom in two cross-wise sections, lengthwise; then take the peel right off the avocado and remove all four sections of the avocado "meat" from the pit and chop into desired pieces.   Add avocado, corn, and asparagus to the bowl of tomatoes.  Crumble the feta cheese into the serving bowl and mix in cilantro.  Toss the salad with the lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad

  • Romaine lettuce torn or chopped
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Avocado, chopped
  • Hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • Blue cheese crumbles (can substitute feta)
  • Bacon bits (you can use any meat for "bacon")
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Chicken (BBQ breasts with your favorite BBQ sauce, then cut into bite-sized pieces.  Then coat chicken pieces with additional BBQ sauce so that all sides are covered.)
  • Blue Cheese dressing or another preferred dressing (my favorite is Blue Cheese Vinaigrette by Litehouse sold in the refrigerated section)

  1. On top of the bed of lettuce, lay each ingredient in a "stripe".
  2. I recommend either keeping the BBQ chicken warm or reheating before placing on the salad.
  3. Use dressing as desired.

This is one of my favorite meals for the summer.  It's fresh, delicious, and filling.  My hubby who isn't too into having a salad for a dinner entree, really enjoys this as well.  You can substitute to your liking and/or what you have on hand.  It's relatively easy to prepare and a definite crowd pleaser. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Recipe from


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (smooth is what I used)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
For sprinkling: 1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
In your mixing bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern (I used the back of a small offset spatula to keep it smooth on top), but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ginger Peanut Chicken Salad Wraps


* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 6 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
* 1 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
* 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
* 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
* 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
* 2 tablespoons water
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
* 8 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
* 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove the chicken from pan; cool. Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Place chicken, cucumber, and bell pepper in a large bowl; set aside.

2. Place sugar and the next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a blender, and process until smooth. Add peanut butter and water; process until smooth, scraping sides. Add peanut butter mixture to chicken mixture; stir well. Add cilantro, and toss well. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla; top each serving with 1/2 cup lettuce, and roll up.

*I also add rice to the wraps. It makes them a bit more filling.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Baja Fish Tacos, Ole!


  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • About 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound flaky white fish (such as mahi mahi or cod), cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt (to season)
  • 8 fresh corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
  • 2 cups of raw coleslaw
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Mexican crema (light sour cream + hot sauce and/or salsa, to your liking)
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges 


Marinate the Onion
Put the onion in a small bowl and pour in enough red wine vinegar to cover well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to several weeks.
Marinate the Fish
Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the ancho chile powder, paprika, cumin, chopped cilantro, and some salt. Mix well. Place the fish on a dish and pour the marinade over it, making sure to coat the fish well on both sides. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes.
Cook the Fish
Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade and place in the hot pan (there is no need to add more oil). Season the fish with salt. Cook the fish for 4 minutes undisturbed, then turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and flake the fish into the pan with a fork, making sure to mix in all the marinade that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.
Heat the Tortillas
Place four of the tortillas on a plate and sandwich them between two slightly dampened sheets of paper towel. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Place the warm tortillas in a towel-lined basket or plate and cover. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Assemble and Serve
To assemble the tacos, place a heaping spoonful of the marinated flaked fish onto the center of a tortilla. Squeeze a bit of lime juice on the fish.  Top with your choice of: marinated onions, coleslaw, cheese, avocado. Drizzle Mexican crema over the top. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Caribbean Pulled Pork

  • 1 raw picnic pork/ham (approx 5 lbs.)
  • 1T or more white wine vinegar
  • 1T fresh ground blk pepper
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 2 T fresh oregano chopped (don't skimp on the fresh stuff here)
  • 1 bay leaf finely crumbled
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Soak picnic pork for at least one hour submerged in water (takes some of the salt out)
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  3. Combine all ingredients except for vinegar in a small bowl to make paste
  4. Make shallow (1/2" or so) slits on the surface of the pork
  5. Rub vinegar all over the surface of the pork (I use my hands for this)
  6. Rub paste all over ham shoving it into the slits
  7. Roll ham in aluminum foil (roughly 4-5 layers of foil)
  8. Stick ham in a roasting pan
  9. Cook 12-18 hours
  10. Let set 30 minutes
  11. Unwrap ham and it will literally fall apart.  Shred with forks or tongs and throw away clumps of fat and bone.

You can serve this as a main dish by itself (try it topped with mango or pineapple salsa), in a bun with BBQ sauce, or as the meat for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and/or tostadas.  This week I served it with hard taco shells, cheese, shredded cabbage, mango salsa and fresh avocado... delicious! Thanks to Phaedra for sharing this recipe with me.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars


2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cold
1 1/8 cups light brown sugar, packed

1 2/3 cups butterscotch chips
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups cashew pieces, roasted and salted


Position one rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease a 12 x 17-inch sheet pan lightly with softened butter and line it with aluminum foil, pressing the foil up the sides of the pan and into the corners. Grease the foil with softened butter.

To make the crust, In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour and salt. Dice the butter into 1-inch pieces and place half in the food processor with the flour. Pulse for a few seconds. Add half of the brown sugar and pulse again, and then add the remaining butter and brown sugar and process for 20 to 30 seconds until a coarse meal is formed and the dough is just beginning to gather into a ball. If you don’t have a food processor, follow the same procedure but cut the butter into the flour, alternating with the brown sugar, using a pastry blender to form a coarse meal. The dough will be a little crumbly but will almost form a ball.

Spread the crust evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Pat it gently and evenly into the pan all the way into the corners. Be careful not to pack it down too much or the crust will become tough. Bake it for 5 minutes then prick the dough lightly with a fork all over, and return the pan to the oven and bake for about 10 more minutes. The crust should be slightly browned and soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool for several minutes. Do not turn off the oven.

To make the topping, In a medium saucepan, add the butterscotch chips, corn syrup, butter, water, and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the chips have melted completely and the topping has just begun to simmer, about 5 minutes.

Stir the cashew pieces into the hot topping and spread it evenly over the baked crust. Try to spread it out to the corners if possible, but the topping will spread into any bare spots during baking.

Bake again for 11 to 15 minutes, or until the surface is brown and very bubbly.

Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting them into bars. (I used a pizza cutter to slice)

I originally tasted these for the first time when my friend, Amy Wilcox, made them for me.  I died ten times when I tasted them and begged her for the recipe which comes from a cookbook called The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread.  Since my step-mom loves nuts, I thought this would be a great treat to make for her birthday... and dinner club... and my mom... and my hubby.  Yeah, they're famazing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

BLTA Pasta Salad

This quick and easy recipe is from!

16 oz. gemelli pasta
1/2 lb. turkey bacon, chopped or crumbled
1 lb. grape tomatoes, halved
4-6 green onions, chopped
8 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup light or traditional ranch dressing
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat until browned and crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the Ranch dressing, onion, and tomatoes. Mix in the cooled pasta. The pasta will absorb some of the dressing, so don't worry if it seems like too much. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Crumble bacon over the top and add chopped avocado just before serving.

Knife & Fork Sirloin Burgers


1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 large shallots, sliced or chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt and pepper
2 pounds lean ground beef sirloin
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2/3 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley (a couple of generous handfuls)
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups provolone cheese, shredded
Juice of 1/2 lemon


Pre-heat the oven to 400°.

On a baking sheet, toss the tomatoes and shallots in 1 tablespoon of EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes; set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the ground beef, green onion, parsley and garlic and form into four patties, pressing your thumb into the center of each burger to prevent them from bulging when cooking. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO, one turn of the pan, over medium-high heat and cook the burgers for 7-8 minutes on each side for well-done.
While the burgers cook, in a medium size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add the provolone and, using a wooden spoon, stir in a figure-eight motion until combined; season with salt and pepper.
Toss the tomatoes/shallots with the lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon of EVOO and salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve each burger with a pile of tomatoes and shallots and a small bowl of cheese sauce for dipping.

From Rachael Ray's website

Banana Cookies w/Chocolate Chips


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup mashed banana (2 to 3 medium)
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts


Preheat your oven to 375F degrees. For best results line cookies with silicone liners, or parchment paper. Alternatively, lightly spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium size bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, spices, baking soda, and salt until well blended and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
Beat in the egg and mashed bananas, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary to make sure everything is well blended.
Stir in the flour mixture with the mixer on low speed or with a wooden spoon just until combined.
Stir in the the nuts, if using.
Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until no indentation remains when touched, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack with a spatula and allow to cool completely before storing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shish Kabobs

This "recipe" doesn't really even need a real recipe, but I am adding it to the blog as more of a reminder that this is a quick, easy, and very healthy meal that we often forget about!  It's delicious in the summer cooked on the grill, but really can be made anytime!

 Some of my favorite shish kabob ingredients are: 
  • marinated meat (I usually use a teriyaki sauce for the marinade)
  • red onion
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • bell pepper
  • pineapple
Obviously, you can get crazy and creative with what you put on them.  One tip I will share with you is to soak your skewers in water for at least 20 minutes before you prep your kabobs for grilling.  This will keep them from burning up on the grill.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts


* 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes
* 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 to 1-1/2 pounds total)
* 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 ounce)
* 2 tablespoons softened fat-free cream cheese (1 ounce)
* 2 teaspoons snipped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
* 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon olive oil or cooking oil
* Fresh basil sprigs (optional)


1. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket in each chicken breast by cutting horizontally through the thickest portion to, but not through, the opposite side. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine feta, cream cheese, the snipped or dried basil, and tomatoes. Spoon about 1 rounded tablespoon into each pocket. If necessary, secure openings with wooden toothpicks. Sprinkle chicken with pepper.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until tender and no longer pink, turning once (reduce heat to medium if chicken browns too quickly). Serve warm. If desired, garnish with basil sprigs. Makes 4 servings.
Wrap chicken breasts in tin foil and grill. Since it's supposed to be summer around here, I grilled them. And by "I," I mean my husband, Eric. I don't trust myself with the grill. I'm always scared I'll overcook the meat, so any time a recipe calls for grilling, Eric takes over. I'm giving him a shout out here because on this particular day, it was absolutely pouring rain and we don't have a cover over our patio. However, my hubby who is a HUGE advocate of dinner club, was more than willing to take one for the team! Thanks, Eric!