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Summer Salmon Salad

June 23, 2014

photo 1 (3)

This weekend summer officially started- school let out, the days stretch out with endless opportunities, and the sunsets even seem to sigh with relief.  It’s in these lazy days where I find myself wanting meals that are bright and fresh.  I find this to be especially true this year, since I’m trying to eat healthy and nutritious for bambino and myself!

So this weekend, I whipped up a Summer Salmon Salad.  Super easy and super delicious.

2 Salmon Filets
2 TBSP Applewood BBQ Sauce
Mixed Baby Greens, Organic and well rinsed.
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
1 cup corn (drained if canned, thawed if frozen)
Your favorite salad dressing- for this, I like sesame Asian.  Kevin likes to just add more barbeque sauce.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and on a foil lined baking sheet, brush 1 tbsp of barbeque sauce on each salmon filet.  Let them cook for 15-20 minutes.
(Sometimes, I make this step easier and buy Sea Cuisine’s Applewood Smoked Salmon.)
And if you visit their website, you can get a coupon!

In the meantime, saute up your 1 can of corn in a skillet over medium heat.  I usually start this when there’s about 8 to 10 minutes left on the salmon, tossing occasionally so they don’t burn.
In the last few minutes, slice your tomatoes and your avocado.

When the salmon is finished, flake it up with a fork.  Assemble your salad, and you’re good to go!

What are some of your favorite summer salads?


Snow Day Magic

January 24, 2013

Even as an adult, there is nothing quite like that giddy feeling that you get  upon discovering that you have a snow day.  It’s one of those extra little perks of being an educator.  (Go ahead, say teachers have it easy- I permit you to on this one occasion- but rest assured, the moments of school leading up to a potential school day could make you lose your mind.  Just something to consider.)

Anyway,  snow days always take me back to my childhood in Western, PA.  Snow days were rare, and when they happened, it was because we had a TON of snow.  Every kid on the block let out a collective sigh of relief when Joe Denardo proclaimed a snow day.  And almost immediately, mum would open the cabinet and take down the Salton sandwich maker. 

Billy and I would put on our layers upon layers and head out to the frozen wonderland.  We’d have snowball fights with neighborhood kids, sled ride down Shelby Drive, and have igloo building competitions.  At the end of it all, we’d always come inside and warm up with a pocket sandwich. 

They were never anything fancy or remotely gourmet – obviously, I mean, we WERE kids, after all!  But usually, they were a twist on pizza, or ham and cheese, or perhaps turkey…whatever was on hand.
They were such a tasty treat, and the anticipation of waiting for that little red light to go out was almost too much to ever bear.  I remember that first sizzle as the bread hit the hot machine, and getting the timing JUST perfect so you had the absolute perfect shade of toasted pattern on your bread without letting cheese ooze out. 

Even now, the sandwich maker resides in our kitchen.  Same one.  It’s probably 25 years old, and still works like a dream.  Whenever I need that nostalgia, I take her out, and wait for that little red light. 

Maybe some day, I’ll go gourmet- as gourmet as a pocket sandwich can be, I guess… but for today, it’s a pizza pocket sandwich and snow day magic.

Until next time,

Big Changes

January 5, 2013

Long ago when I began this blog, I had no idea how popular the phrase “modern day Martha” was… Or what I was really diving into. During our short time together, I’ve realized a few things, readers…
1) that phrase is everywhere
2) I am a bit more culinary and a bit less crafty than dear Martha
3) I’m lost in a sea of bloggers…
4) this blog is not eye pleasing what so ever

So, that means a few changes…
Hopefully the majority will be completed this weekend. We need a revamp! New name, new look… Same me.

Oh- and the recipe for those dates…they were tasty!

Betty’s “Kick Butt Chili”

October 28, 2012

As we wait for the impending “FRANKENSTORM”, I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to have a big ol’ pot of chili going on the stove. (OR- further below- in the crock pot!)  This recipe is near and dear to me, and to most people in our family- It’s a betty classic, and award winning at that.  Any time I need to feel warm, miss my mother, or see some gross weather heading our way, I instantly want this meal.  It’s no surprise to me that it’s the one recipe that’s requested the most out of my mother’s repertoire.  Her secret?  Orange soda.  Today, we’re having Kick Butt Chili. 

*NOTE* Generally, I just get a pack of hot sausage and a pack of sweet sausage and skip the ground chuck- my mother would probably protest that I am messing with a flawless recipe, but it’s what we like.

1 and 1/2 lbs ground chuck
1 lb hot or sweet sausage  (I use combination)
2 cans kidney beans (one light, one dark)
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
5-7 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup of orange soda *add half way through*

Brown the meat/ sausage and drain well.  Rinse your beans to relieve them of some of the gas they contain.  Add additional ingredients and spices, mix well.  Simmer over low heat for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent sticking.  After 1/2 an hour, add 1/2 cup of orange soda.

This is great served with shredded cheddar cheese and corn chips.  Sometimes I’ll top it with some red onion too. 

Crockpot version- Brown your meat, drain- add all ingredients to crock pot and cook it low and slow for 6-8 hours.  This works even better if you made the meat the night before and can just toss it all in the crockpot in the morning before work.

If there’s only 1 recipe you ever make from this blog… make this one.  It was “Betty’s” favorite recipe, and for good reason.  It’s won competitions, is always a crowd pleaser, and never has any leftovers when taken to a game day party.  This one won’t let you down. 

Happy eating- and stay dry out there!

It’s hard to be a culinary mastermind while living in Suburbia hell.

September 23, 2012

Today I am disappointed to say that my brioche, goat cheese, and quail egg topped wonder sandwich will not be occurring.  I’ve discovered that is incredibly difficult to be a culinary mastermind while living in suburbia hell.  Don’t get me wrong, suburbia hell is great for other things… all the houses look the same, every road ends in a col-da-sac, and there are roughly 4 Walgreens within 5 miles.  But try to find gourmet ingredients for a killer meal, and you’re totally screwed. 

For what it’s worth, I retract my previous statement of “you can get quail eggs at Wegmans, who knew?!”…. You cannot.  After this sad realization the wild goose, ok… quail,  hunt began! Bless my poor, yet very patient husband.  You also can’t get them at Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s, or the local farmer’s markets. At least not in Northern VA.  For what it’s worth, you also won’t find Brioche.  It’s apparently a “holiday” item. 

I now know how Julia Child must have felt when surrounded by a world of Tuna Noodle Casseroles and Jello Molds.  I’m reading Dearie and I can relate, because she talks about so many challenges that she faced in those times, along with everyone thinking she was a total nut.  She was tired of the ho-hum, and she loved food!  Me too, Julia, me too… and while we don’t have tuna noodle casseroles today like they did in the 60’s, we do have pre-made EVERYTHING.  I can walk into my local store and get 4 different types of meatloaf, already made, or a rotisserie chicken with mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, or collard greens…. but I’ll be damned if I can get some quail eggs.  I wonder how many times Julia was looked at like she had 3 heads.  The lady at Wegman’s bakery was like “this hallah bread will be a good stand in for french toast”  UM, I never said I was making french toast.  I tried to explain my masterfully planned dish, and she just said “oh.”  Sigh. 

It’s like that strange scene they do in movies where the world is moving around you, and you’re standing still like no one can see you or understand you. I stood clutching my empty shopping basket in the middle of Wegmans, feeling rather disappointed at the whole situation.  All around me were shopping carts full of modern convenience.  I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs “STOP THE INSANITY!!!” but, I figured that would cause a scene.  Plus, I’ll admit- some of those things are in my kitchen for days when I just don’t feel like it, or want something really quick, or want to pack one of those items for my lunch.  But it makes me sad that food, dinner in particular,  is no longer an experience. How did we come to this?  When did the go..go…go… suddenly mean that dinner as something special is gone..gone..gone.  It’s hard- I get it, and it’s true for us too.  The go, go go, takes it’s tole.  During the week, dinner is quick- a planned out weekly menu made on Sunday, pre-prepped and ready to roll.  Usually something homemade and with love, with great flavor, and variety of colors on the plate… but quick.   (I’m Jennifer Stump,  and I make 30 minute meals!  I even sound like RR this week with my sexy, raspy voice.) Weekends are different though- weekends, I try to make an experience where we can sit, relax, talk, and enjoy our time while enjoying a great meal.  Our weekend days revolve around the  food.  I feel very misunderstood in this modern world of hectic schedules and zero time. 

The cheese stands alone.  (mostly because, that was the only ingredient I could find- HA!)

A tiny update, and The best thing I ever ate…

September 22, 2012

Hey friends!

It’s been a while, and life has been the usual tornado!  But now, as a lot of you know, I’m a married lady!  I have a super great husband, and we had a wonderful day with family and friends.  Following that, we went on an incredible honeymoon to Lake Tahoe.  Completely breathtaking.  And now, with the school year nearly a month in, and everyone settling in, I am back to my happy little blog world- tea in hand.  And that means…..

Tomorrow is the day.  I have decided. I’ve been shaking in my boots a little bit since I posted about The Chef’s Table, and attempting to recreate some of the items on my own… especially after the chef commented!

However, a promise is a promise, and tomorrow, my quest for greatness begins.
My new knives, cutting board, pots, and pans are all ready. (getting married does super cool things for your kitchen)

Tomorrow is the day that I attempt to make the best thing I ever ate.  Flash back to earlier in the summer, and this post:

“Grilled Brioche and Goat Cheese Sandwich served with 2 over easy quail eggs, and a banana pepper jelly
I will never eat a regular grilled cheese again. Ever.  My world has distinctly been placed into two periods of time… life before this grilled cheese wonder, and life after.  This is the 1 dish that I am most looking forward to trying to recreate.  I felt like I should have been alone in a dark room with that grilled cheese and quail egg mix, it felt that naughty to sit there and eat something so decadent- and the banana pepper jelly?! WELL… rest assured that when I perfect that little baby, I’m going to can it, and you all will receive some with a note that says “Make the grilled cheese”.   I don’t need “50 Shades of Grey”… just a grilled cheese, and if that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
  Also- you can find quail eggs at Wegman’s!?  WHO KNEW?!”

Am I nervous? A bit… excited?  You bet.
Stay tuned, bloggies… this one is either going to be genius, or a disaster.


Triple Threat Casserole- A “Betty” classic dish.

August 26, 2012

If I were to ever open a restaurant, or a small side business selling confections and sweets of sorts, it would definitely be called “Betty’s”.  “Betty” is my mother- her real name was Lauren, but when we were small kids, she asked my cousin Chris what her name was.  He couldn’t remember at the time, and responded with “You’re not Betty….”  And so, Aunt Betty it was from then on. 

I have a lot of “Betty” dishes in my repertoire.  Many of which, no one else really HAS..because God forbid she actually wrote them down or put in her measurements for a recipe she adjusted.  It took a lot of watching, a lot of guessing, and a lot of her method of “I don’t know, I just throw some in there”… to get some of them just right.  A few are written down on yellow paper, with red pen (her favorite combination)… but most, most are engrained in my head and in my heart, and today I share a favorite.

For anyone concerned with BUT ITS A FAMILY RECIPE!!!… “Betty” believed that food was for sharing and there are no secrets to our recipes.  She’d be tickled that I am sharing them, and that maybe someone else will try them and love them. 

Today is Betty’s “Triple Threat Casserole”.  Now, she didn’t call it that- ever- she simply called it the “Chicken with the Ham and Bacon” casserole.  I dubbed it triple threat because, let’s face it, it has 3 meats and I’d eat it morning, noon, and night.

It’s pretty easy peasy, and there’s a fancy dinner party version that I’ll note at the end as well.

Triple Threat Casserole

4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 pack of bacon, cooked, cubed (how do you cube bacon?)
2 cups diced ham (or deli meat slices, “cubed” works too.)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 container (15 oz?) of sour cream
1 sleeve ritz crackers, crushed
1 stick of butter, melted.

Combine the cream of chicken soup with the sour cream. This will look super gross at first, but keep mixing it until its combined and a light “broth” type color. Throw in your meats. Toss that mixture into a baking dish. Combine the crushed up ritz crackers and melted butter and top your baking dish mixture with that. Pop into the oven at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes. I cover it with foil for the first 30 then take the foil off so the crackers are browned but not burnt.

This sucker is killer warm, but is also even deadlier to eat cold as leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. I’ve been known to take out the entire casserole in a day and a half- Don’t judge me.

(Note: I will take a picture of this when I make it on Tuesday, which would be “Betty’s” Birthday.)

For a fancier version if you’re having company over, you just don’t dice it up.  You take a chicken breast, drape a slice or two of ham over top of it, spoon some of the sour cream mixture over that, and then criss cross it with 2 strips of bacon and skip the cracker topping.  If serving it that way, it is divine atop fluffy white rice, and is also delightful with “smashed” potatoes.  Green beans pair well as a side, but get creative and do what works best for your guests and your family.

Until next time..
Happy Eating,