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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Greek Green Bean Salad

What happens when you have a professional photographer over for dinner?  You get professional shots of your food!  SCORE!  My friend Stacy met me at our old house to take some new photos for the listing.  As a pro, she's got the equipment to take some wide angle shots so she was able to really do justice to the old place.  After photos, we were off to the new house for a tour.  She loved the kitchen and the master bathroom in particular.  So do we.  And, all the windows and all the trees.  Yes, we do love our new home!!! 

I'd had Connie pick up some salmon, green beans, strawberries and cherry tomatoes.  The basis for a really fun meal.  We made our favorite  Salmon with Marmalade Glaze

and my mom's parmesan noodles.  Except, I used truffle cheese in place of the parmesan.  Oh, la la! 

Along side that I made a salad with strawberries and a green bean tomato salad. 

Let's start with the salad with strawberries.  There's a place called Queen Creek Olives outside of Phoenix in Queen Creek.  Addictive.  Highly addictive olives.  And, olive oil.  And, balsamic vinegar.  And lots of other wonderful things like barbecue sauces and cheese spreads and chutneys.  Oh, yes.  I order their stuff by the case.  And, we inhale it.  Last time I was in Phoenix I went to one of their stores and taste tested.  One of the combos I bought was rosemary olive oil with a cranberry balsamic glaze.  I heated a bit more than a tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet and added cored, halved strawberries.  When they'd warmed through a bit, I poured some of the cranberry balsamic glaze in.  Connie had thinned the mesclun in the garden so I mixed that with some chopped beet greens.  The warm strawberries and dressing were poured over and served. 

The noodles are medium egg noodles cooked then tossed with butter, fresh parsley and shredded cheese.  Couldn't be simpler.  And, every time I make them Connie tells me how much he likes them.  Me too!

Last but not least, the green bean and tomato salad.  I'd read a blurb in a magazine recently about green beans, tomatoes and feta cheese.  This was served with a bottled Greek vinaigrette.  Um, thanks but no thanks.  There are very few bottled dressings I'll use.  Most of them taste old and stale to me.  Probably thanks to all the preservative crap they put in them...  Oh, well, I'd make my own.  I went on and found a recipe by Sue Lau.  She mentioned using her dressing on kalamata olives.  Bingo, I'd add those.  And, we had a jar of pickled garlic that was just screaming to be opened.  Now, the recipe called for oregano.  But, I wanted to use basil.  Don't ask me why because oregano is the quintessential Greek seasoning.  But I did so I did.  LOL.  That's the benefit of being the chief cook around here.  My kitchen.  My rules.  To quote a coffee mug from fine young stepson Matthew. 

We loved the whole dinner.  Ate it out on the deck.  Watched the hummingbird come and drink many times.  Loved the view.  And, loved the break from the heat and humidity.  I know it'll be back but for one evening it was delightful. 

So, here's the recipe:

Greek Green Bean Salad


for the salad:
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" lengths
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 c Kalamata olives, chopped

For the dressing:

2 T red wine vinegar
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t oregano (I subbed 6 basil leaves, minced - added to the salad, not the dressing)
1 t kosher salt
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t sugar
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil


Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Blanch the green beans for a couple of minutes.  Drain them and dump them into an ice bath.  You want them dark green and slightly crunchy.  Quarter the cherry tomatoes.  Crumble the feta cheese.  Drain the green beans and toss the salad fixings together.  You might want to add pickled garlic (chopped) or pepperoncini (chopped) or if you're adventurous, minced jalapeno.  Mix all of the dressing ingredients except the olive oil.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil so the dressing will emulsify.  Pour the olive oil over the salad ingredients.  Toss well and serve.

adapted from by Sue Lau

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mushroom Parmesan Muffins

In the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society we have such an interesting group of bloggers.  Some specialize in one thing or another and others don't.  That's why when I needed to make muffins for a girls dinner I immediately went to FoodLustPeopleLove by my friend, Stacy.  She can be counted on for a new muffin recipe every once in a while on a Monday morning.  As I was hunting for something savory, I found several sweet muffins that I'd really like to make.  Peanut butter and jam would be the first.  I'm not a huge peanut butter fan unless it's in something.  Like a muffin.  There's also a spinach feta savory muffin that caught my eye.  But, I used up the frozen spinach and haven't replaced it since I've not had the opportunity to organize my freezers since the move...

Doris, Donna and Patti are coming over to see the new house.  The new mell of a hess is more like it.  I'm not sure why we keep showing our friends our mess.  But, we do.  And, I think everyone is looking beyond the piles of boxes remaining and realizing how lovely this place will look in a few weeks.  What's that saying?  Progress is messy?  Yeah, that's what's going on here.  Last night we cleared enough of the garage to actually get a car in.  Three and a half hours of back breaking work in almost 90 degree heat and humidity.  I finally got a wet towel and just kept it draped around my neck.  Poured ice water on it every few minutes to keep it cool.  Ten boxes of clay pots and flower pots and other assorted shed goodies got unloaded onto a shelving unit.  Another ten boxes or so came in to the house to be unloaded.  Oh, joy.  But, we got a lot done!

Doris is bringing salmon.  Donna is bringing a veggie.  Patti is bringing a dessert.  I'm going to do an appetizer, a salad and a roll or muffin.  I thought these would be perfect with salmon.  And, now that I've devoured one, I know they will be!  I just need to get a good compound butter made and put in the freezer overnight. 

These came together so easily, even for a non-baker like me!

Mushroom Parmesan Muffins


5 oz mushrooms, reserve two, mince the rest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 T butter
2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
3 oz Parmesan, grated
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1/4 c oil
3/4 milk


Preheat your oven to 350.  In a medium skillet, melt the butter.  Saute the mushrooms, garlic and jalapeno. 

The mushrooms will initially release a good bit of moisture.  Make sure all of that moisture has evaporated before you turn off the heat.  Allow the mushroom mixture to cool while you prep the other ingredients.  Mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and the wet ingredients in a smaller one.  Whisk the wet ingredients to mix. 

Slowly add them to the dry ingredients along with the mushrooms.  Spoon the batter into muffin tins.  Top each muffin with a very thin slice of one of the reserved mushrooms. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until done. 

Here's a link to the recipe on Stacy's blog:  Mushroom Parmesan Muffins

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Smoky Barbecue Vinaigrette

Picnics!  That's our theme this month for the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society.

I had a heckuva time keeping my focus on picnics while reading Aly's blog, Cooking in Stilettos.   I kept finding wonderful recipes that just might not work for a picnic.  Macadamia nut crusted French toast.  Do you suppose I could cheat and do that one?  It sounds amazing.  Actually, it sounds like a recipe I've got to put on my make soon list.  Then, there was butternut squash with blue cheese and shallots and pecans.  What a fabulous combination.  Focus, Kate.  Focus.  Picnic.  Ok, fine.  There was lemon chicken, Mexican street corn salad, guacamole, chiles rellenos quiche.  How about barbecue chicken salad with smoky barbecue dressing?  Doesn't that just make your mouth water?  Me too!  On the sweet side (you do need a dessert for a picnic!)  there were the boozy cherries and the chocolate caramel studded toffee bars.  Oh, and the bourbon brownies with bourbon frosting.  Wonder how those would be with a bit of bacon added.  Sounds decadent!   How to decide?

Finally, a decision.  I just couldn't get the barbecued chicken salad out of my mind.  I'd made the bourbon brownies.  But, I didn't have bourbon so I used Scotch.  Don't get me started on the STOOOPID laws in Indiana.  We can't buy booze in a store on Sundays.  Because our legislators are in the hip pocket of the folks who don't want to be open on Sundays.  Nothing about convenience for the consumer.  Let's worry about all that money you need for your next campaign.  ARGH!  Makes me crazy.  While we were moving we'd use something up and not replace it.  And, we've not made a list of what we're missing.  So, we're missing a bunch of things.  Well, I also didn't have dark chocolate chips.  So, I tried replacing some of the milk chocolate chips with bitter chocolate bars.  The brownies were dry.  Very dry. Like we each ate one and the rest went down the disposal.  It was all my fault for substituting like crazy. 

I'd bought everything I needed to make the salads for Sunday evening dinner.  Saturday afternoon I'd headed to Bloomington, IN for a Kappa Kappa Gamma reunion.  Five classes of gals.  About 40 out of 150 showed.  It was a hoot.  After lots of chips and sweets and wine, I was more than ready for a salad.  So, fine, I'd switch gears and blog about the salad rather than my pitiful attempt at brownies.  I'll go back to my sorority sister Sally's recipe that I can make despite the fact that I'm just not a wonderful baker.  But, I'll have to try brushing those with bourbon and making an icing with bourbon.  And, maybe I'll go wild and put in some bacon.  Just for testing purposes, you know. 

Well, let's talk about the salad, OK?  Talk about fabulous!!!!!!!!  I made what should have been four servings.  That's 1/2 of a chicken thigh each.  We'll wind up with at least six servings out of this.  I'll need to make more dressing.  But, that's ok because it's easy and oh, so very good.  It's so good that it will become part of our regular salad rotation at the office.  Along with Giada's chicken salad, Meridian Hills Special Salad and Casa d'Angelo salad...

Before I get into the recipe, let me introduce you to Aly.  She lives in Philly.  Loves living in Philly.  Has a 9-5 that's frequently a 9-9.   But, despite the hours she works, she still manages to post some incredible food!  Here's how to find this recipe on her blog:  Barbecued Chicken Salad with Smoky Barbecue Vinaigrette.

And, if you'd like to see some more wonderful picnic food, please visit my friends listed at the bottom of this blog.  They're a group of really fun folks who also love to cook and eat.  All I can say is I always wind up making about half of the recipes posted...

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Salad with Smoky Barbecue Vinaigrette


for the salad:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used two bone-in, skin on chicken thighs)
5 slices thick cut bacon, browned and crumbled (my addition)
1/3 c barbecue sauce (our house sauce is Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 head romaine lettuce
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 c frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 16 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced (my addition)
1 c each coarsely grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese

for the vinaigrette:

3/4 c barbecue sauce
1 t cumin
1/2 t chipotle chili powder (replaced the smoked paprika I'm not a fan of)
3 T honey
zest and juice of a lime
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 t freshly cracked black pepper
salt to taste


I chose to use chicken thighs because 1) Connie likes them better and 2) they stay more moist when grilling.  The skin on also helps the moisture.  Now, granted, there's not as much BBQ sauce on the chicken when you put it on the salad.  But, the dressing will more than take care of that issue.  So, you grill the chicken.  Here's Connie at the grill.  Don't you love the view from our deck???  Oh, and that's taken through the window above the sink.  Almost makes it fun to do dishes.  Well, ok, maybe not. 

Then, you chop and arrange all of the fixings.  I chose to do a fix your own salad bar kind of a deal. 

Then, you either shred or chop your lettuce.  If you're using it right away, chopping is just fine.  Otherwise, shred it or the cut edges will get brown.

Last but not least, you mix up your dressing.  I doubled Aly's dressing recipe.  We used all of that between dinner and lunch.  Four salads in all.  Now we've got enough for another lunch so I'll make another recipe of it.  That means we'll have three times her recipe.  That's how I showed the measurements up above.  So, please don't triple my measurements or you'll be eating the dressing on your pancakes next weekend just to try and use it all up!  It's really good but probably not great on pancakes.  LOL.   

So, my plate looks a bit helter-skelter.  But this certainly did taste wonderful.  Did I mention we love, love, loved this salad???  Thank you Aly!!

adapted from Cooking in Stilettos

  • Lisa from Authentic Suburban Gourmet

  • Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva

  • Azmina from Lawyer Loves Lunch

  • Kelli from Kelli's Kitchen

  • Kim from Liv Life

  • Stacy from Food Lust People Love

  • Lea Ann from Cooking on the Ranch

  • Kathleen from Bakeaway with Me

  • Anna from annaDishes

  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm

  • Jean from Lemons and Anchovies

  • Heather from girlichef

  • Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

  • Christiane from Taking on Magazines

  • Debra from Eliot's Eats

  • Kathy from A Spoonful of Thyme

  • Rebekah from Making Miracles

  • Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • Kate from Kate's Kitchen

  • Aly from Cooking in Stilettos