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.

Print Recipe
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.

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.

Print Recipe
Seafood Stuffed Whole Salmon
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
SERVINGS
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
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.

Honey Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Being a fig lover, I am always attracted to recipes with this tasty little fruit in them. Some years ago, I started using the Kraft Fig Balsamic Dressing and it became one of my favorites.

Salad dressings have started catering to consumer demand for thoughtfully crafted products made with natural ingredients. Fig balsamic dressing can be used in numerous ways. It has a tangy and delicately sweet, caramelized fig flavor that works as a glaze for roasted or grilled pork, sauteed chicken and baked salmon. You can brush it on in the last few minutes of cooking or add a little to the skillet, just to coat your saute.

This balsamic vinaigrette has enough flavor to dress a salad on its own or use over roasted veggies, aged & soft cheeses or in soups. For dessert try drizzling some over fruit & Greek yogurt or ice cream. It’s amazing!

This glazed salmon is an excellent meal served with rice or roasted potatoes.

Print Recipe
Honey Balsamic Glazed Salmon
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add vegetables; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon vegetables to one side of skillet. Add salmon, flesh side down, to other side of skillet; cover. Cook on medium heat 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork, turning after 4 minutes.
  2. Transfer fish & vegetables to a plate; cover to keep warm. Add dressing & honey to skillet; cook & stir 30 seconds or until heated through.
  3. Pour dressing mixture over fish. Top vegetables with Parmesan & fresh basil.

Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

Rice has always been a staple at our house. I think Brion could eat rice almost everyday without problem. Although the steamed long grain would be his favorite, I can’t resist making a risotto periodically.

A properly cooked risotto should form a soft, creamy mound on a dinner plate. It shouldn’t run across the plate, nor should it be stiff and gluey.

Risotto’s signature tenderness is traditionally achieved by slowly adding spoonfuls of liquid while the rice cooks. This shortcut version eliminates most of the stove top stirring, but produces equally silky results.

Print Recipe
Chicken & Mushroom Risotto
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Keyword risotto
Servings
Course Main Dish
Keyword risotto
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a LARGE POT or DEEP SKILLET over high heat. Add bacon & cook until golden. Transfer to a small microwave-proof bowl.
  2. Leave about 1 Tbsp bacon drippings in pot & discard the rest. Add chicken & cook until browned through. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add mushrooms & cook until light golden. Add to bowl with chicken.
  3. Turn heat down to medium & return pot to the stove. Add butter & melt; then add garlic & onion. Saute for 3 minutes or until softened. Turn up heat, add rice & stir until grains become partially translucent, about 1 minute (do NOT overcook).
  4. Add wine & cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any brown bits, about 2 minutes. Turn down heat to medium-low; add about 3 cups of chicken stock. Leave, uncovered, stirring just once or twice, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Check firmness of rice & add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring in between until absorbed & rice is cooked to YOUR taste. Add the chicken & mushrooms back into the risotto towards the end, just to heat through. Right at the end when the risotto is ready, add a 'splash' more chicken broth to make the risotto slightly soupy, then take it off the stove.
  6. Add butter & Parmesan cheese, then stir vigorously (this will activate the starch & make it super creamy). Serve immediately. Garnish with reheated bacon & extra Parmesan if you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • Risotto is best made with Arborio rice which is starchier than other types of rice, making it essential to achieve a creamy risotto.
  • In order to use this 'no stir' method of cooking risotto, you MUST use a large pot or deep skillet so the rice & liquid is spread out & not too deep.

French Onion Chicken Meatballs

Although ancient in origin, French onion soup underwent a resurgence in popularity during the 1960’s due to the greater interest in French cuisine.

French onion soup is a type of soup usually based on a meat broth and onions. At some point in time, the French decided that the onions should be caramelized to bring out their natural sweetness. Then, to top things off, its garnished with Gruyere cheese on a slice of baguette and broiled in the oven.

These chicken meatballs put a bit of a different spin on that iconic soup. Made with all the classic ingredients, but turned into a main course meal. Nice to serve with either pasta or rice.

Print Recipe
French Onion Chicken Meatballs
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Chicken Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & rub with oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, Gruyere, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 16 meatballs then place on prepared baking sheet & bake until golden & cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Sauce
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions & cook until very soft & golden, 25 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic & cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add broth & thyme & season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat & let simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Pasta
  1. Boil egg noodles in salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes; drain & add to sauce. Grate Gruyere & Parmesan cheeses & combine.
Assembly
  1. Divide pasta/sauce between 4 serving plates. Top each with 4 meatballs & divide cheese combo between them. If you wish, microwave each plate for a couple of minutes to melt cheese before serving.

Sausage & Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

While there are numerous ways to enjoy spaghetti squash, I favor stuffed. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to stuffing. Beef, turkey, chicken along with rice and a nice smoky cheese like Gruyere or even mozzarella and Parmesan work really well.

It’s called spaghetti squash for a reason. Just steam, microwave or bake the squash in its shell and scrape out the flesh with a fork or spoon. No need for a spiralizer as it separates its own flesh in slender pasta-like strands. It makes for a remarkable stand-in for pasta dishes and with such a mild flavor you can chose from any number of sauces to give it a flavor boost.

This stuffed squash is the full meal deal. Along with veggies, you have chicken, sausage and cheese. Super good!

Print Recipe
Sausage & Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Drizzle cut sides of spaghetti squash with oil & season with salt & pepper. Place cut side down on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Using a fork, break up squash strands. Set aside.
Filling & Topping
  1. In a large skillet, scramble-fry sausage in olive oil; drain on paper towels. Add another Tbsp oil to skillet; saute onion & pepper about 3-4 minutes then add tomatoes, zucchini, garlic & lemon zest. Season with salt, pepper & Italian seasoning & cook 3-4 minutes more. Gently stir in squash, cooked chicken & sausage & remove from heat.
  2. Divide mixture between spaghetti squash halves (or quarters). Top each spaghetti squash portion with mozzarella cheese & return to oven to melt for 5 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan & serve.

Baked Shells w/ Pesto, Cheese & Meat Sauce

Pasta is without a doubt, one of the most versatile ingredients to cook with. It can be prepared in so many unique ways with different sauces. Pesto sauce is one of those … a simple sauce with simple ingredients that packs a huge flavor.

Pesto sauce originated in Genoa, which is located in the northern region of Italy. The Italian word for pesto: pestare, means to pound or to crush. It was originally prepared with a marble mortar and wooden pestle. However, the translation may be a bit misleading because preparation does not consist of pounding, rather it is of grounding.

Traditionally, pesto is made of crushed garlic, fresh basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil. There are many variations of pesto and while the most popular is a pasta sauce, it can be used for a spread or dip, salad dressing or as an accompaniment to steak, poultry or fish. Red pesto is either made from sundried tomatoes or red bell peppers.

This pasta meal comes together easily in a short space of time. Sometimes its the simplest dishes that are truly the best!

Print Recipe
Baked Shells w/ Pesto, Mozzarella & Meat Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, saute onion in olive oil for 5-7 minutes. Add ground pork, 2 Tbsp water, pepper, sage, red pepper flakes & ginger. Cook, stirring until no longer pink.
  3. Add salt, dried basil & diced tomatoes; bring to a boil then lower heat & simmer for 20 minutes. Stir periodically. At the end of cooking time, stir in pesto & remove from heat.
  4. While sauce is simmering, cook pasta shells al dente. It is important not to overcook shells as they will be further cooked in the oven. Drain pasta, add cooked sauce & gently toss.
  5. Place half of the pasta in a baking dish & sprinkle with half of mozzarella & Parmesan. Top it up with remaining pasta & sprinkle with other half of the cheeses.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until cheese is golden & pasta is hot & bubbly.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to bake your pasta in individual servings.

Mushroom Stuffed Potato Cakes

Is there anything potatoes can not do! Many cultures make some form of potato cakes with any kind of filling you can imagine. Sauteed cabbage, ground meat, egg and onions, you name it, the possibilities are endless. Mushrooms are by far, one of my most favorite fillings.

Did you know that most of the table mushrooms we eat are all the same variety. The difference is just age.

The white button mushrooms, are simply the youngest variety. They have been cultivated, too, for that white color and soft texture. In the wild these mushrooms are usually browner.

The Portobello is the most mature mushroom; it’s really just an overgrown white mushroom! They are left to grow for longer, until they have spread out into that delicious meaty cap.

The Cremini mushroom is just in between these two varieties. It’s a moderately mature version of the white button mushroom. Mature state means that they have a browner color, firmer texture and better flavor than the younger white mushrooms. Who knew!!

These stuffed potato cakes are such a nice addition to a winter meal.

Print Recipe
Mushroom Stuffed Potato Cakes
Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes in salted, boiling water until soft. Drain & mash.
  2. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms & garlic in olive oil. Season with salt & pepper & add chopped parsley.
  3. Place mashed potatoes in a bowl; add egg, butter, grated Parmigiana cheese, a pinch of salt, pepper & nutmeg. Combine well. Divide mixture into 8 equal patties. Roll into balls & then flatten into patties. In the center of 4 of the patties place 1/4 of the mushroom mixture. Top mushrooms with a cube of mozzarella cheese. Place one of the remaining potato patties on top of each filled one & gently press edges to seal.
  4. Heat a griddle to 350 F. Brush with some butter & fry stuffed potato patties to a golden brown on each side. Be careful when turning as they will be quite soft.

Baked Potato Skins

With the last day of December right around the corner, its time to focus on New Year’s Eve celebrations. Even if you don’t have big party plans, you will no doubt still want to enjoy a few finger foods to ring in the new year with. The fact that so much emphasis is placed on sweets over Christmas, now is a good time to enjoy something savory.

During the many years I worked in the commercial food service industry, new years eve was all about finger food. I remember making hundreds of these little bite size morsels. The thing about this type of food is, it takes hours of prep work but they can be devoured in a very short space of time.

Although the humble potato skin appetizer is pretty basic, its easy to make and quite tasty. Originally served as a clever way to repurpose food scraps, potato skins have been around since the 1970’s.

Today’s recipe works well in that you can prepare them the day before needed and refrigerate. Half an hour before you are ready to serve …. bake, sprinkle with toppings and bring on the new year!

Print Recipe
Baked Potato Skins
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pierce potatoes 2-3 times. Bake directly on middle rack of oven for 50-60 minutes until tender.
  2. When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in quarters lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop pulp from skins, leaving 1/4-inch thick shells. Place skin side down on ungreased baking sheets. Brush with oil; sprinkle with Parmesan, garlic salt & chili powder. The potatoes can be prepared up to this point one day ahead. Nest skins in rigid plastic containers, cover & refrigerate.
  3. To serve: Heat oven to 450 F. Bake skins 15-20 minutes or until hot & edges are crisp. Remove from oven; sprinkle with bacon, green onions & cheese. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with sour cream or Ranch dressing.

Candied Kumquats over Pistachio Crusted Turkey Breast

Today, December 25th our family celebrates my sister Rita’s birthday. She will forever be the special Christmas gift our family was so privileged to receive on that Christmas day. This time of the year makes us reflect on many different things. This moment, this day, this season will never come again. Treasure it and treasure those you love who make it memorable. I like to keep in mind that the best reflection of Christmas takes place in the mirror of our own hearts.

For many of us, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven. But that doesn’t mean you have to roast the whole bird to get the desired effect. Even though Brion and I probably like the dark meat almost better than the white, we have enjoyed quite a few little turkey ‘breast’ dinners.

This year kumquats are high on my list. They not only add a festive touch but paired with pistachios they seem to really enrich the flavor of the meat. Kumquat season is short and usually begins in November and lasts through the Chinese New Year in January. The name kumquat means ‘golden orange’ in its native Canton.

Although this recipe has about three parts, it comes together real easy. The pistachios form a nice crispy crust while the turkey breast stays tender and moist. It is so nice complimented by all the usual ‘side’ dishes of a turkey feast.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RITA … WE LOVE YOU … ENJOY YOUR DAY!

SEASON’S GREETINGS TO EVERYONE

Print Recipe
Candied Kumquats over Pistachio Crusted Turkey Breast
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
Ingredients
Pistachio Breading
Candied Kumquats
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
Ingredients
Pistachio Breading
Candied Kumquats
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Pistachio Breading
  1. In a shallow dish, combine pistachios & bread crumbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together mustard, olive oil & honey.
Turkey / Stuffing
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil then stir in contents of stuffing mix. Cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork & cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a large piece of heavy foil, making a circle about the same size as the turkey breast. Keeping the whole turkey breast intact, flatten slightly to create a uniform thicken.
  3. Dip the turkey breast in Dijon mixture, being sure to coat both inside & outside well. Next coat both inside & outside with pistachio/bread crumb mixture. Lay breast on buttered foil; top half of the breast with the turkey stuffing. Fold other half on top to enclose the filling. If necessary, use some toothpicks to secure stuffed breast during roasting time. Cup sides of foil fairly close to meat.
  4. Roast, covered for 1 hour, remove top piece of foil & continue to bake another 1/2 hour or until 185 F. is reached on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven & allow to rest a few minutes before slicing.
Candied Kumquats
  1. While the turkey is roasting prepare your kumquats. Heat water & sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Once sugar water begins to boil, add (seeded) sliced kumquats, stirring to coat well. Reduce heat to low & let simmer until liquid is reduced to a syrup consistency. Remove from heat & serve with turkey breasts.