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Monday, June 23, 2014

Swiss Chard Slaw

Being home for dinner for four evenings during a week is cause for celebration.  And, cause for creating a menu.  Well, a semblance of a menu.  In reality it's a list of dishes I'd like to make during the week for dinners and lunches.  I had a Cuisine at Home and a Rachael Ray magazine in the car along with Gastro Grilling.  We were heading to Sam's so I knew a rotisserie chicken was in our future.  There's a package of lamb chops to use up.  Connie requested the linguine.  We've still got plenty of Swiss chard in the garden.  And, there's the rest of a bag of onion rolls to use up.  Here's what's on our list for this week:

lamb chops with pine nut, mint and goat cheese pesto
cherry turkey arugula sandwiches
eggplant involtini
quinoa tabbouleh
chicken salad sandwiches
greek salad
swiss chard slaw
linguine with clam sauce
roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes
watermelon with mint cream
Secret Recipe Club baking project

Now, I need to turn that into a real menu! 

We started on Saturday with the usual after the office shopping route:  Penzeys, Trader Joes, Sams and Marsh.  Home by 6:30.  We both really wanted the eggplant involtini.  It's one of those dishes we both crave.  I pulled the recipe up on the blog.  But, along the way I looked at all the other eggplant dishes we've made.  YUM!  I'm looking forward to our eggplants from our garden!! 

What from the list would go well?  The Swiss chard slaw.  Actually, the recipe was written for collard greens.  I was, as usual, substituting.  I also substituted red onion for the scallions since the scallions I thought I had had been used up...

What did we think?  Fantastic.  The only thing I might think about doing differently is swapping some of the cider vinegar for balsamic to sweeten the dish just a tiny bit. 

Swiss Chard Slaw


1 lb Swiss chard (I used two mongo leaves - see photo)
1 c julienned carrots
1 c sliced scallions (I substituted 1/2 a medium red onion)
1/2 c chopped pecans, toasted (see instructions for what I did with these)
1 t butter
1 t Cajun seasoning
4 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 T each sugar and minced garlic
2 t dry mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


In a small skillet, cook the diced bacon.  While it's cooking, one at a time lay the Swiss Chard leaves on a cutting board and cut out the center ribs. 

Once both leaves are de-ribbed, lay one on top of the other then roll the chard.  Slice it thinly. 

Then, slice once down the middle so you've got manageable sized strips. 

Wash the chard in a salad spinner or wash and pat it dry.  Julienne the carrots and onions.  In another small skillet, put about a teaspoon of butter.  Add the pecans and some Cajun seasoning (I use Emeril's recipe.) 

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, sugar, minced garlic and dry mustard.  Now, you're ready to start putting this together.  Remove the bacon from the grease and drain it.  Add the vinegar mixture into the warm bacon grease.  Toss everything together and allow the slaw to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. 

And, yes, that's really critical as the flavors blend and soften considerably over the 30 minutes.

adapted from Cuisine at Home

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Swiss Chard

Our garden is producing like crazy.  We put in six Swiss chard plants and only one made it.  But, it's glorious.  And, the romaine lettuce is so beautiful.  Peas are coming on.  We've got a few baby tomatoes.  The mesclun mix is taking over.  And, we've got almost a whole bed of arugula.  A veritable bounty of veggies.  Connie's been bugging me to please use the Swiss chard.  I'd thawed a pound of lamb stew meat from our friend's at Viking Lamb to make Giggles, The Kitchen Witch's lamb stew for later this week.  It's a dish that's better left overnight.  That meant I still needed something for dinner...  And, I really needed to be thinking about lunch too since what's left at the office is all frozen or canned. 

I knew there was a lamb recipe in Carnivore (Michael Symon) that son David wanted me to make.  My memory did not serve me well because I was convinced it was lamb stew.  So, I hunted for the cookbook to compare that recipe to Giggles.  Well, now, as I looked thru I saw a recipe for Orecchiette with Chorizo and Swiss Chard.  Score.  I didn't have chorizo but I did have about a pound of pulled pork.  My guess was that I could toss about half a pound of that with the chorizo spices and be good to go.  I went back to the chorizo recipe from Hoosier Mama.  We made this a couple of months ago and totally loved it.  And, since I was using pulled pork, I substituted pinto beans.  There.   I had a plan.  Dinner for Sunday.  Dinner for Monday.  And, lunch for Monday was on it's way...

What did we think?  We absolutely loved this.  I wasn't sure the flavors would all work together but they certainly did.  This was so easy to make and for us used mostly pantry ingredients or ingredients that could easily be substituted, my guess is it'll become one of our go-to meals. 

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Swiss Chard


1 lb dried orecchiette pasta (I used half as much)
1 lb fresh chorizo sausage, removed from the casing (see spices below if you're subbing pulled pork)
1 lb Swiss chard with stems, roughly chopped
1 c cannellini beans (I used pinto)
grated zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c chopped fresh leaf parsley
2 T unsalted butter
1 T extra-virgin olive oil

spices I used for the pulled pork:
2 t sweet paprika
2 t finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 t granulated sugar
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 T red wine vinegar


Start a large pot of water boiling.  Once it's ready to go, add the pasta.  Cook it for a couple of minutes less than the package directions.  If you're using the chorizo, brown and drain it.  If you're using the pulled pork, toss it with the spices and set it aside. 

Either add the chopped Swiss chard to the chorizo or put a good drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet, heat it to shimmering and add the Swiss chard.  Once it's wilted, add 1/4 c of the pasta water, the beans, pasta and butter. 

If you're using pulled pork, add it at this time too.  Cook all of that until the pasta is al dente.  Then, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice, the parsley, extra virgin olive oil and the parsley.

Basic recipe from Carnivore.  Chorizo spices from Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

Monday, June 16, 2014

Orange, Should've Been Chicken, Shrimp

I must've been a VERY good girl.  Why?  I got THE blog I wanted for Secret Recipe Club.  You read that right THE blog I wanted.  Last month, The Kitchen Witch got me.  She said we shared the same tastebuds.  She was SO right.  Life was insane (ok, it's been totally insane for years!) and I didn't get a comment to her.  Then, I got my Secret Recipe Club assignment.  Whoop, Whoop!  I now had an excuse to blow two hours reading a blog I wanted to read.  REALLY wanted to read.  Giggles is so right.  We do share the same taste buds.  We both love citrus.  We're both adventurous eaters.  So incredibly much fun to read her blog.  I felt like I was curled up in the cabin of my dreams just relaxing and reading.  Oh, and drooling :-)

So, what to make?  Guiness Irish lamb stew?  Marjitos?  Candied orange olive oil cake?  Lemon ginger elixir?  Orange chicken?  Did you notice how many have citrus?  Yeah, me too.  And, there are plenty more.  Oodles to be specific - lol.  Orange chicken it was.  If I was going to get this made in time, one of us needed to run to the store the evening before our cooking adventure.  I was going to be working in my Columbus, IN office so knew I'd be home late.  Connie got the grocery list that I'd left on the counter.  He got home from the grocery and got busy getting ready for our grandkids to visit.  About 2am he flew out of bed.  I heard the alarm being shut off then the back door opened then a racket in the kitchen.  It was one of those you are better off waiting it out than getting in the middle of it deals.  I waited.  Upstairs he trudged.  So, what happened?  He says, "I never took the groceries out of the trunk."  Ok, so we had rotten chicken.  Fine, we'd stop on the way home from the office the next evening.  Except when we  left the office the rain was pouring. A bar of soap in the back yard and I'd have been able to take a shower!   We got drenched just going to the car.   At that point I made an executive decision.  Giggle's orange chicken would be just fine with shrimp.  And, you know what?  It was.  We loved it.  I wouldn't have changed a thing.  Now, I'll know I can make it with either shrimp or chicken and it'll be great. 

Before I show you the recipe, here are a few of the photos of the epic water balloon fight Grampie had with Bradley and Rosie.  Daddy David sat in a safe zone making the water balloons.  He was also in charge of dousing anyone who didn't follow the rules.  Mostly Grampie who kept forgetting to go back to his safe zone after throwing a balloon.  Mommy Kara and I sat in another safe zone with our cameras.  We were dubbed the historians.  And, yes, that's our herb garden behind Kara.

Orange Chicken


for the chicken:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cubed (I substituted shrimp)
2 eggs
1 T water
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 c cornstarch
1/4 c flour
peanut oil for deep frying

for the sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper
4 green onions sliced, white and green parts separated
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 1/3 c orange juice
2 T cornstarch
1 1/2 T soy sauce
2/3 c orange marmalade


This recipe comes together very quickly so you really want to have everything set up and ready to go.  Your mis en place.  You'll need two bowls for the sauce ingredients.  Put the garlic, ginger, red pepper and whites of the green onions in one. 

The balance of the sauce ingredients go in the other.  Start with the cornstarch and rice wine vinegar.  Stir them into a slurry then add the other ingredients. 

Then set up two wide, shallow bowls (think pasta bowls) for the chicken or shrimp dipping.  In one, put the egg and water.  In the other, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper. 

This is where you can add other seasonings if you'd like.  I thought about adding some Asian seasonings but decided to try that next time.  Put a smallish skillet on the stove with about a tablespoon of oil in it.  Last, but not least, pour peanut oil (I used vegetable oil because that's what we had on hand) about 1" deep in a wide skillet.  Now, Giggles recipe called for a wok or a deep fryer.  I like the skillet because it gives me more control over turning the protein to make sure both sides get browned.  If you've got a deep fryer and want to use it, that way you can get both sides brown at once...  Turn the heat on under the small skillet.  You want to use medium heat.  Heat the oil to about 350.  Now, you're ready to get going.   

Dunk a handful of the protein in the egg wash. 

Then, toss it in the cornstarch/flour mixture.  Put it in the hot oil in the big skillet.

 Put the garlic/ginger mixture in the small skillet.  Once it's sizzling, slowly stir in the orange juice mixture. 

Stir this occasionally.  Turn the protein if you need to get both sides brown.  The crust will be nice and shatter thanks to the cornstarch.  Drain on paper towels.  Once all the protein is done and drained, toss it with the sauce and serve over rice. 

Top with a scattering of the green onion tops. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Strawberry Season and Grandkids Visit

Strawberry season.  Love it.  Our friends Barb and Tom came to visit and brought us two quarts of strawberries from their garden.  Perfect strawberries.  My head was spinning with ideas.  But, simplicity won.  Two different salads then strawberry shortcakes won the day. 

I had a package of smoked salmon that needed to be used up.  And, we'd found halloumi cheese.  What if I grilled strawberries and radishes and halloumi then picked lettuce and spinach from our yard and topped it all with smoked salmon and a mustard tarragon vinaigrette?  Perfection.

My next salad was a little more simple.  Spinach from our garden, strawberries, pecans, feta and a strawberry balsamic dressing.  The dressing was strawberry balsamic, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, crushed garlic and shagbark hickory syrup.  Maple syrup or honey would make a fine substitute. 

Along the way, we had a pretty tasty drink...  Here's a hint.  You'll find it on the blog I was assigned for Secret Recipe Club...

We had another quart left.  Our grandkids were coming to visit.  They'd get to Indy about 5:00 Friday evening.  Connie had plans for that epic water balloon fight Friday evening.  I did not want to spend the evening cooking and miss the festivities.  So, Black Diamond BBQ it was.  Beef brisket, pulled pork, rib tips, mac and cheese, green beans, greens and cole slaw. 

YUM!!!  Strawberry shortcake for dessert. 

Saturday morning we headed to the Broad Ripple Farmers Market.  Got to see our friends Susan and Paul, Connie and Rick and Liz, aka That Skinny Chick Can Bake.  Lots of fun was had by all.  From there we headed to the Children's Museum.  Indianapolis has a world-class children's museum.  The special attraction this time was the terra cotta warriors.  Just amazing.  They had a room set up where kids could sculpt a face.  Turns out each of the 8,000 warriors had an individual face.  They used molds for some of the body parts but the faces were individually done.  Then, we were off to the exhibit about China where the kids had a great time in the kitchen.  They even got to learn some kung-fu moves.  Then, we were off to Sam's Gyros for a fun lunch.  Enjoyed more by the adults than the children...  But, as Daddy David said, someday they will be very grateful that we got them to try so many things and have adventurous taste buds.  Last but not least, we went to see Civic Theatre's production of Pinocchio.  Grammie and Grampie were tired by the time the kids headed home!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pork Tenderloin and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sandwiches

Folks tend to either love or hate Guy Fieri.  I'm in the love camp. The man can cook.  And, he LOVES flavor.  Lots of big, bold flavors.  Maybe a bit more heat than I like but that's easily resolved.  I've been reading his new cookbook, Guy on Fire.  Loads of great recipes and for me, great ideas.  So, we had leftover pork tenderloin from the pork tenderloin we made last week.  I found a recipe I thought would easily adapt to the ingredients I had on hand. 

Those of you who believe in making a recipe the first time the way it's written will be disappointed to know that Guy's recipe was merely the idea.  I didn't bread and fry the pork since I was using leftover pork tenderloin.  I used hearty rye bread instead of baguette since that's what I had on hand.  The mayonnaise was not homemade bacon mayo made with 2/3 c of bacon fat but instead was Hellman's Light with olive salad and garlic.  And, instead of arugula inside the sandwich, I used only one piece of bread per sandwich and topped the sandwiches with dressed greens.  So, I'm not really sure I should be giving credit to Guy for this one, eh?  Whatever you think, We loved these sandwiches. 

Then, there was dessert.  Last week I made a new dessert - gooey bananas.  Tonight, I kicked it up a notch - or three.  The original recipe called for bananas, chocolate, toffee bits and mini marshmallows.  We had a few strawberries left from the batch we picked in our garden.  And, a handful of chopped pecans.  Betcha they'd be good with the bananas.  Yup, they were.

Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches


Hearty rye bread
Green olives with pimentos, finely minced
Garlic, a good sprinkle of garlic powder
Sliced pork tenderloin
Roasted red bell pepper, sliced
Bacon, not too crisp
Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Salad greens
Sherry vinegar
Sugar, just a pinch
Extra virgin olive oil


First, here's a look at how the ingredients were prepped:

Mix the mayonnaise with the chopped green olives and the garlic.
 Toast the bread lightly.
 Slice the pork tenderloin.  Yes, we like ours pretty pink!
 Fry and drain the bacon.  I always sprinkle mine with garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper as it's frying.

Slice the roasted red peppers and the provolone.

Now, let's look at how the sandwiches were put together:

 Schmear the olive mayonnaise on the toasted bread.
 Top with sliced pork tenderloin.
 Then, the sliced roasted red bell peppers

 And the bacon.
 Last, by the provolone.

Broil until the cheese has melted.
Toss the salad greens with a bit of sherry vinegar, a pinch of sugar and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

Thanks to Guy on Fire for the basic idea!