Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chicken Pasta Salad

(Hello, first real food pics from my new lens. You are beautiful. The end.)

4 svgs farfalle (bowtie) pasta
3 svgs garden rotini pasta
1 chicken breast
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1/2 cucumber, cut into 1/2" chunks
pasta salad seasoning, to taste

Prepare pastas as directed. Drain and run under cool water until room temperature (or cooler if desired).

Cut chicken breast into small chunks and pan fry over medium heat. Add 1 TBSP of Italian dressing to chicken chunks when chicken is almost finished cooking.

Toss chicken, cucumber, and pastas together.

Add dressing (amount is really up to you, and depends on your tastes) and pasta salad seasoning.

Best when served chilled for an hour or so. Serves 6+.

To rejuvenate the next day, toss with a bit more salad dressing and another couple of shakes of pasta salad seasoning.

Comments from the cook: I debated whether or not to post this recipe. It's not really MY recipe. It's just 6 ingredients. Nothing is really homemade (unless you call browning a chicken breast HOMEMADE). But we eat it (or some version of it) at least once a week in the summertime. And I'm the boss of this very food blog, so I can post whatever I want! :)

If you read my other blog, you'll know that pasta salad seasoning is a BIG DEAL to me. My mom found a seasoning called "Salad Elegance" long ago (made by Johnny's), we got hooked on it, and then I moved to Utah. It was hard to find there, but not impossible. And then the place I always bought it stopped carrying it. So I did what any normal person would do. I ordered a $30 2.5-lb tub of it. And I've not been happier with a purchase ever since.

McCormick makes a version called Salad Supreme (sold in the spice section), which will work, if you don't have access to the loveliness that is Salad Elegance. My observation was that McCormick's SS has more celery salt, and is not as light tasting...but we ate it when times were hard and Johnny's got the boot from our local store. Until we took matters into our own hands, that is.

Variations of pasta salad are endless. My mom has added fresh tomatoes and olives to hers before. We also do a version that is just spaghetti noodles, cut-up pepperonis, chunks of cheese, Italian dressing, and Salad Elegance (for dinner when we're trying to UP the taste and HOLD the healthy!)

Either way, this is one of our favorites. And, I tell you, I've never been happier to own $30 of a spice.

Originally made by my mom, Alane Sleight.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

French Silk Pie

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (3 - 1 oz. squares)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 TBSP sugar
1 deep-dish pie shell, prepared as directed
1 Hershey chocolate bar

Melt unsweetened chocolate and allow to cool 5-10 minutes (or use pre-melted, squeezable packets).

Cream butter and sugar. Add unsweetened chocolate and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until blended.

Add eggs one at a time, beating with electric mixer for 5 minutes after each one.

Pour chocolate mixture into fully-cooked deep-dish pie shell.

Beat whipping cream with 1 TBSP sugar until firm.

Top pie with whipped cream and refrigerate at least 4 hrs before serving.

Decorate with chocolate curls if desired. (Grate Hershey bar with carrot peeler, running peeler down the edge of the bar to form curls.)

Comments from the cook's wife: This pie. Ohhhh, this pie. French Silk Pie is one of Brian's absolute favorites, and this recipe came from a family friend of his (and now mine), Vicki Luker. While our preference is always to go with a pastry crust, Vicki's original recipe calls for an Oreo or chocolate graham cracker crust.

This pie is one of Brian's favorites to make, and I've never discouraged him! While you're at it, you may even want to make two of these babies. They are sure to disappear in the blink of an eye! Some recipes discourage doubling, but this one doubles without any problem.

Originally shared by Vicki Luker, the Minnesotan Queen of Dessert.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Teriyaki Kabobs

1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
1 tsp garlic
2 TBSP green onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

To be skewered:
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
1 fresh pineapple
fresh chicken breasts (frozen ok, defrosted)
steak (stew meat ok)

3 russet (or red) potatoes
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 TBSP olive oil

Combine marinade ingredients in glass bowl. (Separate into 2 medium bowls if doing separate containers for chicken and beef).

Cut meat (chicken and beef) into 1" pieces and place in marinade. Refrigerate and allow to sit for 2 hrs.

In the meantime, cut potatoes into 1" pieces and boil for 4 minutes. Drain and allow to cool and dry on dishcloth for about 30 min. When cooled, toss in about 3 TBSP olive oil. Add rosemary, thyme, sea salt, and pepper.

Cut veggies and pineapple into 1" pieces.

Assemble skewers. Grease skewers slightly (dip your thumb and index finger in oil and run it down the skewer) before adding meat and veggies.

Alternate veggies, potatoes, meat, and pineapple as desired.

Heat grill to hottest temperature, and cook skewers evenly over fire. Rotate as needed.

Don't have a grill? Have one and it gives out? Broil them in the oven! Place skewers on a cookie sheet, and cook on top rack. Watch them closely and turn them every couple of minutes in order to avoid overcooking.

Comments from the cook's wife: This really is Brian's recipe, so I can't say much...beyond how much I LOVE these, and how much you need to try them!

The measurements for the marinade are not set in stone. If you don't think it's enough, double it. If you only want to make a few skewers worth, make a bit less. Brian learned to combine sugar, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and green onions from a man on his mission, and has never been the same since! We have eaten many-a-meal with that sauce as a base, and look forward to more in the future.

We use metal skewers (we upgraded a year ago), but the inexpensive wood ones also work. We read online that they need to soak in water for about 30 minutes ahead of time. This apparently keeps the wood from burning as quickly.

Kabobs are very filling, but making a few extra might be just what you're looking for. They make for EXCELLENT leftovers. (Just push the meat and veggies off the skewer with a fork, and store them in an air-tight container. Reheat for 3-4 minutes in the microwave and enjoy again!)

A CookieSheets&CakePans original.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

2 (1 lb) cartons fresh strawberries
1 bag Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips
3 squares almond bark (or about 2/3 white chocolate chips)
1 tsp canola oil

Wash strawberries and allow them to dry completely before dipping. (I let mine dry on a kitchen towel overnight.)

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside.

Use a double boiler to melt chocolate chips, adding about 1/2 tsp canola oil to bowl of chips before melting.

(Don't have a double boiler? No sweat. You can melt the chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl. In order to avoid burning/overcooking the chocolate, you'll want to melt for 30 seconds, take out and stir, melt another 30 seconds, stir, etc...until they've melted completely.)

Dip strawberries in first chocolate flavor and place on wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Refrigerate until first layer has hardened.

Dip strawberries in second flavor if desired (chocolate may need to be reheated for a few seconds if it has thickened) and place back on cookie sheet.

Use a fork to "flick" chocolate across tops of strawberries.

Best when served chilled.

Comments from the cook: Another recipe that hardly needs an explanation! My dear friend Mary Ann made these for my outrageously-embarrassing bridal shower a few years ago (ok, five) and told me that the secret to these is in the little bit of oil (isn't it always?). She's a fantastic cook, so I always do what she tells me. :)

Shared by Mary Ann Hawes, my old roommate and friend.
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