Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad

For some of us, the best part of salads is everything but the greens! I have always had a hard time digesting lettuce so I’m never drawn to it when we get to salad season.

The idea of a full meal (lettuce-less) salad has always appealed to me. Of course there are many of these using a variety of ingredients. Probably one of the most popular was the taco salad. The earliest record of it dates back to the 1960’s with its predecessor being the small teacup-sized ‘Tacup’. It consisted of beef, beans, sour cream and cheese, served in a small ‘bowl’ made entirely of a Fritos tortilla.

The taco in a Tacup was invented by Charles Elmer Doolin, the founder of Fritos (tortilla chips). He created a device that looked like tongs but with two tart molds at the end of each tong. One mold would fit within the other mold with a tortilla sandwiched between them. The scalloped-edged shell was the dipped into hot oil. Holes in the bottom mold exposed the tortilla to the hot oil, enabling it to cook evenly.

Tacups were first served in Dallas, Texas in the early 1950’s and by 1955, he was selling them in Fritos’ flagship restaurant, ‘Casa de Fritos’, at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It became popular enough that the Tacup was made bigger and served as a full, main-dish sized salad bowl.

Today’s salad is a satisfying meal (without a shred of lettuce) served in an edible tortilla bowl.

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Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad
Instructions
Marinade
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. In a large resealable plastic bag, pour marinade. Add sliced chicken; seal & turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours. When finished marinating, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat & set aside.
Salad
  1. Cook corn cobs in a pot of boiling, salted water, covered for 5-7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, hold the corncob vertically on a slip-proof cutting board & cut corn kernels from top to bottom around the sides with a sharp knife. Leave corn in bite-sized pieces.
  2. Fry bacon slices until brown & crispy. Chop into small pieces.
  3. Peel, pit & cube avocados. Sprinkle with a bit of lime or lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Dice Roma tomato. Slice green onions, chives & dill. Drain sliced black olives. Cube Gouda cheese.
Tortilla Bowls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush the inside of 2 heat-resistant glass bowls with oil. Place one tortilla in each bowl so that the shape more or less adheres to the bowl. Line each tortilla with cheddar cheese slices & then place the second tortilla on top.
  2. Place the bowls with the layered tortillas in the oven & bake for 7 minutes. Remove the bowls from the oven & allow to cool before removing the 'edible tortilla bowls'.
Assembly
  1. Place tortilla bowls on serving plates. Place cooked chicken on the bottom, top with corn, avocados, tomato, onions, olives Gouda & herbs. Drizzle with Ranch dressing (or dressing of choice). If you wish, before putting the dressing on, give it 30 seconds in the microwave to warm it slightly again.

Chicken Cheese Burgers w/ Portobello Fries

CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!

In Canada, July 1st marks the day for Canadians to show pride in their nations history, culture and achievements. From coast to coast the country’s birthday is marked with various events.

This is the date of the historical event in which Canada gained its independence from Great Britain in 1867.

Barbecues are definitely the preferred choice of food event for the day. Although we are experiencing some rainy conditions this Canada Day, nothing says you can’t modify the traditional barbecue with cooking indoors. For something different, I decided to try making some portobello ‘fries’ to accompany our chicken cheese burgers. Technically, they are not really fries at all, but they’re crispy and dip able and that is all anyone expects from a fry.. right? Sliced and breaded with crumbs and cheese then baked makes these portobello fries super tasty.

Of course, the staple at most barbecues, tailgates and picnics is the classic burger. But a burger doesn’t have to be just a burger and cheese isn’t just cheese. For ours, I’m making chicken burgers ‘infused’ with shredded Gruyere cheese. Then taking it to the next level and adding caramelized onions and guacamole.

What a nice ‘Canada Day’ meal it makes!

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Chicken Cheese Burgers w/ Portobello Fries
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Chicken Cheese Burgers
  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, Gruyere, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 4 patties & place in refrigerator until ready to grill.
Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat oil in skillet until hot. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Place in a dish; set aside.
Guacamole
  1. In a bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro; blend well. Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge until needed.
Portobello Fries
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet lined with foil.
  2. In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, spices, salt & pepper. In another shallow dish, lightly beat eggs with 1 Tbsp water. In the third shallow dish, combine panko/butter mixture with the Parmesan cheese.
  3. Gently toss mushroom slices in the flour mixture. Coat evenly & shake off any excess flour. Then, dip the floured fries into the eggs, drip off any excess eggs & then place them into the panko mixture. Gently press the panko mixture onto the mushrooms.
  4. Place the fries onto the wire rack, leaving an 1/8-inch space between each. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown & crispy. If you wish, you could serve fries with marinara sauce, ketchup or a roasted garlic mayo.
Assembly
  1. Once you have all the various components to this meal this far all that is left is to barbecue the chicken burgers over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked thru. Instead of baking the mushroom fries you can alternately grill them on the BBQ as well.
  2. Slice & lightly grill Ciabatta buns. Top each bottom half with a chicken burger, a slice of cheese, some guacamole, caramelized onions & a tomato slice, ending with the other half of the bun. The big question is, how to get your mouth around it!
Recipe Notes
  • Whether you bake or grill, either way its all good!

Salmon & Zucchini Enchiladas

Salmon and zucchini have always been a great pairing, but have you tried this combo in some enchiladas?

Wild canned salmon doesn’t have to just mean sandwiches. This high quality protein makes for an incredible pantry staple that is ready when you need it. Add it to just about any plate … over top a green salad, in a wrap, served over rice, pasta, zucchini noodles, potatoes or squash etc., etc.

When I originally developed this recipe, it served as a filling for some jumbo pasta shells. After a few modifications, it became an enchilada meal.

As their original form as Mexican street food, enchiladas were simply corn tortillas dipped in chili sauce and eaten without fillings. There are now so many varieties, which are distinguished primarily by their sauces, fillings or form. Here are a few examples:

Enchiladas suizas are topped with a milk or cream based white sauce such as bechamel.

Enfrijoladas are topped with refried beans.

Enchiladas verdes are sauced with salsa verde and typically made with white corn tortillas, poached chicken breast and cheese.

Entomatadas are made with tomato sauce.

Enchiladas montadas are a stacked variation.

Always on the quest for something different!!

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Salmon & Zucchini Enchiladas
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword enchiladas
Servings
ENCHILADAS
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword enchiladas
Servings
ENCHILADAS
Votes: 1
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Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, saute onion, zucchini & mushrooms until tender-crisp; place in a large bowl & set aside.
  2. In saucepan, melt butter & remove from heat. Stir in water & sauce mix. Return to heat & bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat & simmer 3 minutes.
  3. To bowl of sauteed vegetables add drained salmon chunks & a small amount of cooked 'dill sauce'. Lay out tortilla shells on a work surface & divide mixture between them. Blend together remaining dill sauce, reserved salmon juice & soup.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a 9 X 13-inch baking dish, spread some sauce over the bottom. Lay filled, rolled tortillas single file in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over all & top with grated cheese combo. Bake about 30-40 minutes.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin w/ Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onions & Bacon

CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!

Father’s Day is celebrated on many different dates around the world. It gives us the opportunity to thank or reflect on, that special person we call ‘Dad’.

The imprint of a father remains forever on the lives of his children. For daughters, he is the standard against which she will judge all men. To a son, he is his first hero.

Father’s are some of the most unsung, unpraised and unnoticed valuable assets of our society. Growing up, I recall that wonderful feeling of being very protected by our father.

Both of our dad’s are no longer with us but we will always hold dear fond memories of them. It seems a father’s love and influence is never fully appreciated until they are no longer with you.

Today, I’m making a stuffed tenderloin meal which I think they both would have enjoyed.

Pork tenderloin is definitely one of my ‘go to’ sources of protein. It is a very lean cut with virtually no fat at all and can be flavored and cooked in a variety of ways.

Pork can be as easy or involved as you choose to make it. Since sweet potatoes make the perfect compliment to pork, combining them with caramelized onion and bacon tastes amazing.

Slicing into this tenderloin reveals the wonderful colors of the stuffing, making it a feast for both eyes and taste buds.

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Stuffed Pork Tenderloin w/ Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onions & Bacon
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon until cooked but not crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; blot on paper towel.
  2. Dice onion in about a 1/4-inch size. Add to bacon drippings in skillet & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture has evaporated & onion is soft.
  3. Reduce heat; sprinkle with apple cider vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Add brown sugar; cook & stir until golden. Cook sweet potato, peel & mash.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Remove any 'silver-skin' from pork tenderloin. Butterfly tenderloin & pound carefully to make it an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread cut side evenly with mashed sweet potato & top with caramelized onion & crumbled bacon .
  6. Starting on the short end, roll tenderloin & place seam side down on a lightly greased piece of foil. Place on a baking sheet & cup foil corners to resemble a dish. Brush tenderloin with Fig Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette (or just use oil).
  7. Roast about 45 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 F. If you prefer you can roast the tenderloin 8-10 minutes more.

Avocado Dinner Buns w/ Major Grey’s Mango Chutney

Although, avocados are most traditionally used as a main ingredient in guacamole or to top a salad or sandwich, used in baking they are amazing.

When adding them into yeast bread recipes, you can replace all the butter with equal amounts of room temperature, mashed, ripe avocado. The ripeness of the avocado is very important as it needs to be very soft for it to work perfectly.

In addition to their creamy texture and mild flavor, avocados have a high water content so they can help to make baking softer, chewier and less likely to crumble.

You can freeze mashed, fresh, ripe avocados if you want to have an ’emergency supply’ on hand. To freeze, mash the avocados with a fork or blender. Add some lime juice and mix well. For every avocado use about 1 tablespoon of lime juice to prevent them from browning. Fill a freezer weight zip-lock bag with this puree. Remove the air from the bag, then zip closed and freeze. Best to use frozen avocados within 4-5 months of freezing.

I thought some Major Grey’s mango chutney would be a perfect compliment to these avocado rolls. Major Grey’s chutney is a style of chutney not a brand. The ingredients in Major Grey’s chutney vary both across commercial brands and recipes, but a few elements seem to remain constant like mangoes, raisins, citrus, onions, a sugar of some sort, and warm spices. The chutney is sweet and tangy with a nice ‘kick’ of heat at the end that’s enough to compliment the different layers of flavor without consuming them. You will often see it served with curried dishes or as a compliment to meats and cheeses.

Major Grey’s chutney is considered by many the gold standard of all chutneys. Complete with its own legend of a 19th Century British Army officer who presumably lived in British India and created this unique condiment.

The great part about making your own chutney is that you can tailor the ‘sweet & heat’ balance to your own preferences. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with just picking up a jar at the supermarket!!

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Avocado Dinner Buns w/ Major Grey's Mango Chutney
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Servings
ROLLS
Servings
ROLLS
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Instructions
Avocado Rolls
  1. In a small bowl, place yeast, lukewarm milk & 1 tsp sugar. Stir; cover & set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mashed avocado, eggs. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  3. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture gradually, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least an hour in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  5. Punch dough down. Divide into 18 equal pieces in shape into balls. Place into a greased baking dish & cover with plastic wrap/towel. Allow to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake rolls about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then brush with the Tbsp of butter. Serve with Mango Chutney.
Mango Chutney
  1. In a saucepan, combine all chutney ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring, until reduced & thick. Refrigerate any not used on rolls.

Pearl Couscous w/ Wild Mushrooms & Herbs

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed pearl couscous has become one of my favorites. There was a time when rice and pasta reigned supreme as a side dish staple in North America. But we have become more adventurous, probably due to world travel and the internet. Foods like couscous have come onto the food scene and never left.

If you have not tried it, pearl or Israeli couscous has a chewy texture with a warm, nutty flavor. Made from wheat flour and semolina, it has a ball-like shape and is toasted, rather than dried, after the granules are formed. Unlike common types of pasta or couscous, pearl couscous was factory made from the outset and therefore is rarely seen homemade from scratch.

Whether you like it hot or cold, savory or even a little sweet, the options are endless with this versatile ‘ancient’ food.

I find it pairs so well with the wild mushrooms & herbs. I wanted to make this dish as our main course so I added some bacon which really added to the flavor.

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Pearl Couscous w/ Wild Mushrooms & Herbs
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Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, fry chopped bacon until crisp, about 3 minutes; remove from pan & blot on paper towel. Add mushrooms, onion & garlic; saute until softened.
  2. To the mushroom mixture add broth, (salt if using water) & bring to a boil. Add couscous; stir to combine. Cover saucepan & remove from heat; set aside until liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add herbs & bacon crumbles. Gently stir together with a fork. Serve immediately.

Leek ‘Cannelloni’ w/ Ground Beef & Cheese in Herb Sauce

Transforming vegetables into majestic vessels for holding flavorful fillings is nothing new. Any vegetable that keeps its shape while cooking is a good candidate for stuffing.

The leek is a winter vegetable, inexpensive, sturdy and resistant. It will keep for several months, thus its association with ‘rustic’ food.

It has been said that the leek has a dual personality. Although, an unsung hero of the onion family, it has long been prized for its aromatic properties and considered an essential addition to stocks, soups and stews.

Stuffed vegetables appear as first courses, as main course accompaniments and as the main course itself.

In this recipe, the outer layers of the leeks form the ‘pasta’ here, whereas in the classic ‘cannelloni’ dish, pasta tubes are stuffed with various fillings and baked in a bechamel sauce. This recipe is an adaptation of a Turkish meal which leek tubes are filled with a beef mixture and baked in a cream sauce.

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Leek 'Cannelloni' w/ Ground Beef & Cheese in Herb Sauce
Votes: 1
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Keyword stuffed leeks
Servings
"CANNELLONI
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Keyword stuffed leeks
Servings
"CANNELLONI
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Leek Cannelloni
  1. Peel, wash & remove root end & unwanted green parts of leek. Cut crosswise into 10 cm - 4-inch long pieces. Simmer in salted water for about 5 minutes or until tender but NOT real soft. Remove from pan, reserving liquid; drain. Push center parts of leek out with fingers, making leek shells open on both ends. Set aside.
  2. Add rice to reserved liquid from leeks & cook until just barely done, then pour it into a strainer & cool it down to room temperature. In a saucepan, fry chopped bacon; add ground beef, onions & garlic. Cook ONLY until meat is no longer pink. Remove from saucepan & drain on paper towels.
  3. In a bowl, combine bacon, ground beef & onions, cooked rice, egg, parsley, paprika, salt, pepper & grated cheese. Spoon the mixture into the leek 'noodles'. Place the stuffed leeks standing upright in a casserole dish.
Herb Cream Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a saucepan, heat butter; add chopped leeks & herbs & saute for a few minutes. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute or until smooth & bubbly. Add milk, chicken broth. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes or until sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper. Pour over the leek noodles, sprinkle shredded cheese on top & bake for 30-40 minutes.
  2. This meal is so nice served with mashed potatoes or bread sticks.

Seafood Stuffed Whole Salmon

Something about summer makes us want to add more fish, preferably WILD CAUGHT, to our meals. Whole fish is usually less expensive than fillets and the presentation looks amazing.

Its common knowledge that fish is one of the easiest and fastest meals you can prepare. Their muscle fibers are much shorter than they are in beef, so fish cooks quickly and there is no tenderizing to do. In fact, the biggest challenge in preparing fish is to keep it from falling apart after cooking it.

To prevent it from drying out, fish require higher temperatures and shorter cooking times than meat. The transition from ‘almost done to perfectly cooked’, happens in minutes. Remember that residual heat means the fish continues to cook for a few minutes even after it is removed from the heat, so if it seems tough when you bite into it is probably overcooked. As it moves from ‘done to overdone’, the flesh continues to firm then shrinks, pushing out moisture, which evaporates and leaves the fish dry and chewy. It seems that cooking fish rests on science as well as the art of restraint.

This seafood stuffing is a great compliment to the rich flavor of the salmon as well as keeping it moist. If this seems like a lot of fish, it really isn’t when you think all all the other meals you can create with the leftovers.

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Seafood Stuffed Whole Salmon
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Instructions
  1. Clean & chop raw shrimp & scallops, cook rice & slice green onions. In a large bowl, combine rice, shrimp/scallop combo, cream cheese, butter, garlic, basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary & celery seed.
  2. Lay salmon on a double thickness of greased foil. Fill salmon with stuffing mixture; secure with toothpicks. Brush with olive oil & sprinkle with dill weed & salt.
  3. At this point you can either bake the salmon at 425 F. in the oven or place it with the foil, over a medium heat on a closed grill. Allow 10 minutes per 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness measured after stuffing at thickest part. Fish should flake easily with a fork at the thickest part when done.

Bacon Wrapped, Cauliflower Stuffed Meatballs

It seems the cauliflower craze has managed to last longer than just about any other that’s come before it. A total superstar when it comes to all the popular diets currently on everyone’s radar, including keto, paleo & whole 30. All signs point to cauliflower becoming the longest lasting food trend of all time.

Cauliflower ….. a naturally gluten-free food that just requires heavy seasoning, is healthy, versatile and ‘tasteless’. Its an entirely blank canvas for all your cooking needs because you can make it taste like ‘anything’ you want.

Last summer, Brion & I stopped for lunch at a popular take-out restaurant. He decided to try their much advertised ‘plant-based burger’. He was not impressed. Let’s say … it was not as advertised!!

In a previous blog, a while back, I had made cauliflower pizza crust and we had really enjoyed it. So today I am making meatballs stuffed with cauliflower in a cauliflower cheese sauce. I guess, this is my version of a ‘plant-based meatball’. Hopefully that works out better.

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Bacon Wrapped, Cauliflower Stuffed Meatballs
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SERVINGS
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. In a large pot, cook head of cauliflower in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes. Remove the stem & cut off florets. Set STEM aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, with eggs, onion, garlic, mustard & spices. Mix well. Divide meat mixture into 7 equal amounts & flatten each piece in your hand (one at a time). Place a cauliflower floret in the middle of each, then seal the meat around it forming a meatball.
  3. Wrap a slice of bacon around each cauliflower meatball. In a saucepan, heat a small amount of oil over medium heat & cook the meatballs on all sides.
Cheese Sauce
  1. Chop the reserved cauliflower stem. Shred cheese & place in a food processor with milk, seasonings & chopped cauliflower stem. Puree mixture until smooth.
  2. Pour the cauliflower cheese sauce over the meatballs in the pan & allow to simmer about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted & smooth. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Shrimp Pot Pie

There are many kinds of comfort food. The humble pot pie seems to be one that fits into that category quite well. In 1951, the first frozen pot pie was created by the C. A. Swanson Company and was made of chicken.

If you do a search for a seafood pot pie on the internet, very often what you find is basically a copy of chicken pot pie with seafood subbed in. The sauce or gravy is a ‘cream of whatever’ can of soup. Nothing wrong with that, but I find if you use a combo of clam juice, half & half cream and some seafood spices, you can come up with a more defined flavor.

The nice thing about a pot pie is that it can be made to feed a crowd or as an individual meal. Whether it has a bottom crust or not is up to you. Toppings can vary from mashed potatoes to cornbread or biscuits etc., etc. Above all else, you can make some extras to freeze for another day. As the saying goes … its all good!

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Shrimp Pot Pie
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword shrimp pot pie,
Servings
SERVINGS
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Instructions
  1. Thaw frozen puff pastry in refrigerator. Keep chilled until you are ready for it. The pastry will be used for a top crust ONLY. Butter the bottom & sides of your casserole dish; set aside.
  2. In a large pot, pour the clam nectar; bring to a simmer over medium heat & add the shrimp. Poach shrimp JUST until they are opaque & cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Pour the broth & shrimp into a bowl & set aside.
  3. Return the pot back to the stove; over medium heat & melt the butter. Stir in onion, celery & mushrooms; saute until vegetables are translucent, 5-6 minutes then stir in the garlic, flour & seasoning. Cook, stirring for 1 minute then add the shrimp & broth. Cook for several minutes, stirring until sauce thickens. Add 1/3 cup half & half & simmer gently for a minute or two. Remove from heat.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  5. In a small saucepan, place potatoes & peas. Add enough lightly salted water to barely cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat & cook at a low boil until the potatoes are just tender, 7-8 minutes. Drain. Taste the shrimp sauce; add salt & pepper to taste. Add potatoes, peas & tomatoes (if using). Pour mixture into buttered casserole dish.
  6. Place the chilled pastry over the filling, tucking it down between the filling & the dish or drape it over the sides. Poke a steam vent in the top with a paring knife. Place the casserole on a baking sheet. Beat the egg with remaining Tbsp of half & half. Lightly brush the pastry with egg wash.
  7. Bake casserole until filling is bubbly & top is golden brown about 30-35 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack & allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving.