May Menu ~ 2013

You may have noticed that I took a little sabbatical from blogging. I didn’t know I was going to take a break but it was obvious that I needed one. It’s also pretty obvious that I didn’t cook nearly as much of my April menu as I intended and I usually try to make those recipes up the next month, but alas, I probably won’t get to those any time soon. But I do have a whole menu of new and exciting recipes to share, and I appreciate all you wonderful readers and fellow bloggers for coming back to see what I’m cooking 🙂

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Recipes I’m cooking that I’ve shared before:

Zucchini Noodles,  Cilantro Lime Rice,  Spinach Tomato Feta Frittata,  Cheeseburger Salad,  Black Bean & Steak Taquitos

Recipes I’m working on this month:

Quinoa, Black Bean & Corn Burritos

Fish Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Dip

Mushroom & Peas Pulao

Chicken Enchilada Pasta Bake

Skinny Cheeseburger Casserole

Southwest Chicken & Corn Chowder

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

White Bean Turkey Chili

Marinated London Broil

Cajun Chicken Fritters with Cajun Aioli

Bourbon BBQ Sliders with Garlic Aioli

Southwest Chicken Wraps

Honey-Lime Chicken Kabobs

Shredded Beef Tacos with Lime Cabbage & Queso

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Chipotle Steak Burritos

Crispy GF Sweet & Sour Chicken

Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

 Sides & Other:

Thai Dragon Noodles

Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Potato Cakes

Four Bean Salad

Parmesan & Chive Quinoa Patties

Deviled Potato Salad

Breakfast Enchilada Bake

Desserts:

Gooey Butter Bars with Fresh Strawberries

Mini Apple Tarte Tatin

Strawberry Tart with Basil Cream

Vanilla-Coconut Rice Pudding

Chocolate Banana Pudding Pie

Lemon Cake with Raspberries and Yogurt Frosting

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Baked Potato Slices

Have you ever tried to make Hasselback potatoes and ended up with a bunch of potato slices? No?? Hmm…. Must just be me then.

I am sure some day when I have a little more patience I’ll be successful at the Hasselback, but this time I wasn’t. What I was successful at, however, was taking all those slices and making them pretty tasty.

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Baked Potato Slices

2 baking potatoes, sliced thin

1/4 cup butter, melted

salt & pepper

Similar to the poaching method I used for my Poached Salmon and Sour Cream Dill Dressing, I stacked those slices on their edges as if it were a whole potato, poured melted butter in between the slices, and salted & peppered it before wrapping everything up in a foil pillow.

Bake at 400* for about 45 minutes. Serve with love 🙂 And don’t forget to put some of that sour cream & dill dressing on the potatoes. Fabulous!

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Asparagus Feta Tart

This was a yummy side dish for my Poached Salmon with Sour Cream Dill Dressing and a fun way to get the kids to eat their veggies. We are all feta fans here, me especially, but you could use just about any strong-flavored cheese you like. Feta doesn’t melt well, so if you think you might have a problem with your asparagus rolling off the tart, you may want to use Gruyere or Jarslberg or something else equally yummy.

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Asparagus Feta Tart

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled fine

1 bunch asparagus*

EVOO

salt & pepper

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Preheat oven to 400*. Unfold the pastry sheet and roll out to about a square foot in size. I roll it out over parchment paper so that I can easily transfer it to a baking sheet. Just flip it over and slowly peel the paper off.

Fork the dough all over so it won’t rise during baking. Bake for about 10 minutes or until very light brown.

While it’s baking prepare your asparagus. *I used rather fat ones because that’s what was available, which were fine, but thin ones crisp up so nicely in the oven. That would be my preference and recommendation. Cut off the ends and try to get all the stalks as even in size as possible. Toss with EVOO and salt & pepper. You could even throw a little minced garlic or garlic powder in there if you’re feeling frisky.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the feta pieces evenly. Then top with the asparagus spears, arranging them by alternating tips and ends.

Bake for about 20 more minutes.

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Poached Salmon with Sour Cream Dill Dressing

This poached salmon recipe has been sorely neglected. Once a staple in our house, it was replaced by the BBQ Salmon, and even more recently the Dijon Dill Salmon, and so I haven’t prepared salmon this way in years.

But this is good. Like really, really good. If you like salmon. And the dressing is heavenly. It makes everything better. In fact, this dressing is great on a variety of things including raw veggies and baked potatoes. It’s a thick dressing, but it melts easily and mixes in well with chunks of juicy veggies like tomatoes. But you absolutely have to try it on your salmon. Promise.

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Poached Salmon

3 lb filet of salmon*

EVOO

2-3 stalks celery

1 medium onion, sliced

1 T capers

1 T lemon juice

2 T dill weed

salt & pepper

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1. Preheat oven to 350* and cut a large piece of heavy-duty foil (about twice the size of your baking dish.

2. Wash and dry your salmon. *I use individual filets without skin and make one per person.

3. Wash your celery and cut into large chunks, including leaves. Slice onion. Arrange celery and onion on the bottom of the baking dish (on top of the center of the foil), leaving a few extra pieces for the top.

4. Place the salmon on top of the veggies (skin side down). Sprinkle liberally with EVOO over each piece (about 2 tsp each) then a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper. *Fresh lemon slices are wonderful on this dish but if you don’t have any bottle lemon juice will work.

5. Sprinkle the dill and the capers over it all and then put any extra onions and celery pieces on top.

6. Fold the foil over and seal the top and the sides, creating a pillow. Bake for about 30 minutes. *Salmon will be tender and moist.

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Sour Cream & Dill Dressing

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

1 tsp dill weed

2 T minced onion

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 T lemon juice

1/4 tsp white pepper

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1. Combine everything and taste. Add salt & pepper as needed.

2. Refrigerate at least an hour. Makes 1 cup.

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Raspberry Coconut Squares

YUM! That’s all I can say about this ooey gooey fabulous dessert. The crust is AH-MA-ZING and the rest is just nom nom nom….

You’ll want to make this one. Like soon.

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Raspberry Coconut Squares

2 pkgs graham crackers (16-18 sheets)

1 stick butter, melted

2 T sugar

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 cup coconut flakes

1 jar (12 oz.) raspberry preserves

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate

1 tsp shortening

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1. Preheat oven to 350*

2. Crush graham crackers and combine with melted butter and sugar. Use a fork to mix well. Press into greased 9×13 baking dish.

3. Sprinkle coconut evenly over the graham crust, then drizzle the condensed milk over all of the coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

4. Let pan cool completely.

5. Spread the preserves over the top of the browned coconut and then sprinkle with pecans  and mini chocolate chips.

6. Melt the white chocolate and combine with the shortening until smooth. Drizzle over the top. (You can also drizzle some melted semi sweet chocolate as well if you like lots of chocolate. No shortening necessary.)

7. Cool in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened. Cut in bars.

These are pretty sweet so they go very well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream 🙂 Yield: 36

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

I’ve noticed a few Facebook and Pinterest re-posts going around for something very similar to this. It seems to happen occasionally that I’ll put something on my menu plan and several weeks later when I’m finally getting to it it’s already hit the blog circuit. Does this mean I have awesome food instincts??

Yeah…unlikely, I know.

Well, whatever it is, I can’t be too far off the foodie path, I just wish sometimes that I had something with a little “wow” factor. Hopefully this will make someone happy, as it did me. I found this recipe through TLC’s Take Home Chef, but I had to adapt it quite a bit as I’ve noticed that chef Curtis Stone likes to really stretch his culinary skills and I’m just a bit of an underachiever most days 🙂

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

1 T EVOO

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

2 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tsp basil

salt & pepper

extra zucchini, chopped*

3 zucchini

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup grated or shredded mozzarella

1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

pepper

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1. To get the ragu started it’s best if you have about an hour. First saute the onions in the EVOO, then add it to the diced tomatoes, extra zucchini, and the wine, with 1 tsp thyme and the bay leaf, over medium-high heat and reduce it by a third. Sauce will be thickened. (20-30 minutes)

2. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and spoon out the seeds. If the zucchini are still a bit hard inside just run a sharp knife down each side and score it a little. This will help when scooping out the seeds. *Also, if your zucchini are different lengths, you can cut them all the same and chop up the excess for the ragu, other wise I highly recommend you chopping up a fourth, smaller, zucchini to add to the sauce. It’s just a tomato sauce without it, and while it’s still good, the zucchini really adds something to it.

3. Combine the tomato sauce to your ragu along with the remaining tsp of thyme and the basil. Salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer, stirring often, for another 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350*. Combine the three cheeses together in a small bowl using a fork. Season  with pepper, and mound the cut-side of the zucchini with the cheese mixture.

5. Lightly spray a 7 x 11 baking dish. Spoon the ragu into the bottom of the dish and place the stuffed zucchini on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for an additional 10 minutes. Zucchini will be tender but if you prefer them more cooked through try pre-cooking them a bit before assembly or leaving it in the oven at 250* for an extra 15-20 minutes.

I served this over Parmesan Couscous and it was amazing. A very satisfying vegetarian and, if you serve it with rice, a gluten-free meal.

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Caramel Praline Tart

Did you know that April is National Pecan Month and yesterday was National Pecan Day? In honor of the pecan I’ve decided to share this re-post worthy recipe with you. Make it soon. It’s awesome 🙂

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The Home Heart

I’ve been waiting quite some time to be able to share this awesome tart with you. I made one weeks ago, but alas, it fell apart in my fridge, and I was so angry I picked it up in chunks and threw it across my kitchen. I had streaks of sticky caramel and clumps of pralines and pie crust everywhere! It took me two hours to clean my kitchen (I was surprised to see some of the places that caramel got into!) and another hour and half to clean out my refrigerator. The moral to this story is: It may make you feel really good to throw food, but you will have to clean it up, and that doesn’t feel so good.

*Sigh. K, I have to admit, I didn’t care about having to clean it up- throwing it was extremely therapeutic 🙂

Without further ado, I give you an…

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Amazing Cashew Chicken

Yay for the slow cooker! This awesome Asian -inspired meal is super easy and really, really good. It only takes a minimal  bit of prep work and then the crock pot does the rest of the work for you. I served this over brown rice with some chicken broth-steamed broccoli. Delicious!

Cashew Chicken

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3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup unbleached flour

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 T sesame oil or EVOO

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 T white vinegar*

2 T white balsamic vinegar*

1/4 cup  ketchup

1 1/2 T brown sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup cashews**

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1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Combine flour and black pepper into a bowl or ziplock bag and toss the chicken thoroughly. Brown the chicken about 2 or 3 minutes on each side.

2. Whisk soy sauce, vinegars (*you can substitute 1/4 cup white rice vinegar) ketchup, sugar, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes together until combined.

3. Place browned chicken in sprayed crock pot and pour the soy sauce mixture over it. **You can add the cashews now or toward the end, either is fine.

4. Cook on low for 4 hours. Stir occasionally.

5. Serve over rice.

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Spinach Squares & the Liebster Award

I love these spinach squares. This is such a great way to serve spinach and it makes a great side dish to just about anything. Also, if you are trying not to do a lot of the “bread thing” like me, this has just a hint of Bisquick in it so you get that feeling you’ve eaten a bit of bread.

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Spinach Squares

1 (10 oz) pkg chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup milk

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic, minced

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp thyme

1/3 cup Bisquick

1/3 cup Swiss cheese, shredded

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

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1. Preheat oven to 350* and grease an 8×8 pan.

2. Whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and Bisquick.

3. Stir in spinach and cheeses.

4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 -30 minutes, or until edges are browned and a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

5. Let cool before cutting. Makes 9 squares.

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A very special thank you to Shikoomkoom @ welcomebackbelly  for nominating me for the Liebster Award, which is intended to recognize up-and-coming blogs with fewer than 200 followers.

If you haven’t seen her blog yet please click the link and check it out.

Rules to follow when you are nominated…

  1. Upload a picture of the Liebster Award badge onto your blog post.
  2. Post 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions posted by the person who nominated you.

Eleven facts about myself:

  1. I have CD’s I like to listen to occasionally in the privacy of my car by artists I will not admit to 🙂
  2. I rarely bother shaving my legs in the winter.
  3. I love Yorkshire Pudding.
  4. I still have my childhood stuffed Winnie-the-pooh and will probably be buried with it.
  5. Scratch that- I want to be cremated, so I guess that means Pooh will be coming into the incinerator with me.
  6. I’m an avid hair twirler. Have been my whole life. You can even see me twirling my hair as I’m driving in my car.
  7. I memorized the majority of Steel Magnolias over 20 years ago, and even to this day that movie makes me bawl.
  8. I take my coffee black, 2 cups every morning.
  9. I love Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes. It’s a really good thing those are only seasonal.
  10. My keyboard is a mess because I’m always eating at the computer.  (I know…eww)
  11. At different times in my life I have gone by these nicknames: Casey, Chatang, Chanise, Lips, Cappie, Peaches, Cranberry, and Capricious.  (And one rather dirty nickname via Nicole I won’t share here – you’re welcome. Also I don’t acknowledge car related nicknames.)

11 Questions for me from Shikoomkoom:

  1. If you won ridiculous amounts on the lottery, what would you do with it? I would buy our retirement home (mine and Hubby’s) and set up funds for my kids. 
  2. What are your guilty pleasures? Wine and chocolate, and The Sims 🙂
  3. What are your 3 favourite traits in a person? Honestly, loyalty, humor
  4. What kind of things make you happy? Wine and chocolate. Oh, and hearing my kids play and laugh together. And good food. 
  5. If you had to pick one cause to champion for the rest of your life, what would it be? I would start a non-profit organization that goes into schools and educates teachers and parents about ADHD.
  6. Food heaven and food hell? Food Heaven: Filet Mignon & Tiramisu. Food Hell: Snails.
  7. If you had children, what would you call them? If you do have children, what are their names and why did you choose them? Number One’s name is Brandon, which is Hubby’s middle name. Number Two is Jadon, who was a man in the book of Jeremiah. He helped rebuild the walls of Jericho. It means “God hears”.
  8. If you were granted one wish, the effects of which would last for the rest of your life, what would you choose? To reverse my back injury.
  9. Your favourite book? Sell it to me! Pride & Prejudice. Seriously. And I don’t have to sell it because everyone loves it, only I’ve loved this book since 1995 before it was fad.
  10. The best dessert you have ever had? Hmm…tough one. I can think of a few. The best tiramisu (vs. the worst), a chocolate torte with raspberry puree, or my Pot au Chocolate de Creme  (<– shameless plug, but that one made me very happy). What do you know? All chocolate 🙂
  11. Where in the world would you most like to visit? Greece and London

Banana Dabs with Banana-Albumen Dip

Dabs are another word for Dodger, which is a word commonly used to describe the hush puppy. These Banana Dabs are a lot like a hush puppy in that they are fried bread balls, but what makes these awesome is their light and fluffy banana texture and flavor. Even better is the frothy sweet banana dip that goes with it. But if you don’t like the idea of eating albumen (raw egg whites) then rest assured that these little dabs go excellent with chocolate syrup!

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Banana Dabs 

1 3/4 cup flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 ripe banana, mashed

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup water*

Banana-Albumen Dip:

3 tsp sugar

2 egg whites

1 ripe banana, mashed

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1. Heat at least an inch of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

2. Mix together mashed banana with the vanilla, then add in flour, sugar and baking powder. Slowly mix in the water. *You may need up to another 1/4 cup but only until the batter is sticky.

3. Spoon out large teaspoons of batter into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown on all sides- about a minute. Dabs will be beautiful and puffy.

4. Set all dabs to drain on paper towels.

5. In mixer whip egg whites with sugar and mashed banana until super frothy and thick.

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