Tag Archives: salad

Crowd Pleasing Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara

I love to cook for people. Have I ever mentioned that before? I recently met some new people to cook for, and at our first meeting, I kinda bragged about being an amazing cook. I even brought some of my Homemade Bagels to share. I think they liked them (either that or they’re great at faking it.lol) So of course, when the invitation came for me to bring my kids out to their house and cook dinner, I was all-too-happy to plan a meal that would be both simple enough to cook while visiting and something my hostess would be able to easily recreate on her own, but also a crowd pleaser and a “wow” kinda meal. I do believe I picked a near-perfect meal to do the trick. I have only 1 picture to share with you, and the credit for that goes to Carri who brought out her phone to snap a picture before we dished up. I was too busy enjoying cooking in a big kitchen and visiting and dancing while doing so to think about taking pictures. (I know, shocking, right?)

Our hosts spent a good amount of time that day showing me and my kids around and introducing us to all their animals, even putting my girl child on a horse to ride around for a bit (the boy child had no interest). They shot a bow and arrow, enjoyed the company of children other than each other, and generally just had a nice, fun, relaxing day/evening. And I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with adults outside of work, something I don’t get to do enough of lately.

I am not a perfect cook, to which I have admitted many times. I do make some really great food, most of the time, but I do have my mishaps… In planning the menu, I decided I wanted to make dessert as well, which I was going to prepare at home and bring along. I decided on my old “signature” dessert of cream puffs…but they didn’t puff, and my work schedule was so hectic there was no way I would have time to re-make them. Seeing my sadness (I was near tears…probably more because of my hectic schedule and trying to do too much and overwhelming myself than having not had success with the puffs, though…) at not having success with this, my girl child (15 years old now, by the way! How did THAT happen?!) offered to give them a try while I was at work. When I saw her facebook status update declaring “I WIN”, I knew she had had success and it was for sure a proud mommy moment.

So, what did we share with this family of new friends? Having bragged about being an amazing cook, it had to be something amazing, of course… Well, the cream puffs, of course, thanks to the girl child. I also made Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara (the recipe is below, but to be honest, I didn’t really follow it too closely, and had only made it once before this night, so threw it together from memory, but it seemed to turn out quite well… also, this recipe is a combination of several I found on the www with my own little twists added to it) and a big green salad with lemon salad dressing. Yeah, that’s it. But it was plenty!

Thanks again for letting me come out to your house and mess up your kitchen!

 

Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara

This is a dish that can be complete in less than 20 minutes if you gather all your ingredients before you start. It’s simple, with simple ingredients, and a crowd-pleaser!

When I told my kids one night that we were having Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner, they both cried out “YUM!!!!” But they had no idea what it was. They just liked the sound of the name. When I told them it had bacon in it, I thought they would both faint from excitement. I love these simple meals that impress. ūüôā


Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3/4 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lemon
    Here’s What to do:

    1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Smash about 8 cloves of garlic (or more) and add them to the water (I do this instead of salt) along with the pasta. Cook to al dente, according to package directions.

    2. Meanwhile, heat the largest skillet you have over medium to medium-high heat. Add bacon to pan and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Chop the remaining garlic cloves, and slice the green onion (green and white parts), reserving a bit for garnish. Add these to the bacon and grease in the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Chop tomato into cubes and cut lemon in half during this cooking time.

    3. In a bowl, beat yolks and add 1/2 cup of the water from the pasta. This keeps the eggs from scrambling when added to the pasta.

    4. Drain pasta and add it directly to the skillet with the bacon mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Working quickly, toss to coat the pasta, adding more water to make a creamy texture, maybe a ladel or 2 full. Remove from heat and add a large handful of cheese, about 1/2 cup or so, and chopped tomatoes. Continue to toss the pasta until it thickens. Garnish with reserved green onion and extra grated Parmesan.

    5. Serve in pasta bowls or on plates with large sides to hold the yummy goodness in!

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Filed under Entertainment, Main Dishes, Pasta, Pork, Recipes

Eye Roll Worthy Ranch

I make an eye roll worthy Ranch dressing. It will make people roll their eyes for different reasons, but will almost always bring on the eye roll in some form.

Believe it or not, some people don’t understand why I would make my own Ranch dressing (or any other dressing for that matter) when the condiment aisle is filled with so many choices and it wouldn’t take any effort. These people are rolling their eyes at my preference to make my own dressings (and many other things) because they think I waste my time to make something that I can just buy in a bottle… but they don’t know what the next group of eye rollers know…

Anyone who has ever tried my Ranch dressing has rolled their eyes. It’s that eye roll of pleasure. Yes, I don’t mind if I do say so myself, my Ranch dressing will make your eyes roll back in your head!

My secret is simplicity! And I’m going to share it with you.

Eye Roll Worthy Ranch Dressing:

  • buttermilk
  • mayonnaise
  • garlic
  • fresh herbs

As with most of my “recipes”, there’s not much recipe at all, just a list of ingredients. And with this one, it’s a matter of taste and how much dressing you want to make. So, here’s how I do it.

Start with¬†equal amounts of buttermilk and mayonnaise (I never measure, but it’s probably about 1 cup of each). Mix in 1 pressed garlic clove and 2-3 tablespoons of fresh herbs. My favorite combo is dill and chives. I’ve used oregano and marjoram¬†and thyme, also. Generally, I send my kids out to the garden to choose 2-3 herbs to mix in. Whisk all of it together and put it in a jar in the fridge. It’s best to allow at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend together before serving.

I would try to give you an idea of the shelf-life for this, except it rarely lasts more than 3 or 4 days in my fridge before I find the jar empty. ūüėČ

I serve this up with salads, potatoes, oven fries, fresh veggies… you can make this a thicker dressing for a dip by adding more mayonnaise than buttermilk.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Sauces/Dressings

I Like to Share

Dinner with Loved Ones

As you know, I love to cook for people! This weekend was a bit of a treat for me, getting to cook for my sis, who I rarely cook for and her foster daughter (the kid)¬†who was getting to experience a dinner in my home for the first time. On Saturday morning, my sis took the kids fishing¬†while I went shopping and to spend some “me” time. By the time I got home, everyone was waiting for dinner (which ended up being very late… but it’s a Holiday weekend, so that’s ok, right? ūüėČ ) I made Mom’s Stuffed Green Peppers (recipe to follow in a few days), baked potatoes with mushroom brandy sauce (this recipe will also follow sometime this week), and a big ol’ salad topped with tomatoes I picked up from the Farmer’s Market. When the kid saw the platter of salad she excitedly asked “Are you going to take a picture of that?” (This is something she thought was odd about our family at first, but by the end of pickle makin’ weekend she thought it was pretty neat.) But her real excitement came when I told her that the ranch dressing sitting atop her colorful salad was homemade! I wish I could have captured the look on her face. It was pure excitment and joy and it filled me up with excitement and joy, too. I hope the kid enjoyed her weekend here, and will always have good memories to look back on of her time with our family.

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Filed under Cooking With Love

Jerk Chicken Salad

I am just back from a wonderfully relaxing weekend at the beach with some of my favorite people! While there, I made dinner one night for everyone (Does that surprise you? I’m at the beach and I wanted to cook for my friends…) So… one of my favorite summer meals is Jerk Chicken Salad. It is simple and versatile.¬† The recipe is from The Pampered Chef and calls for serving with romaine lettuce. You’ll see in the Cook’s Tips at the end of the recipe that you can serve with pasta instead, which is what I prefer. On this occasion, however, we had a friend with a wheat allergy, so stuck with the lettuce version. When I do this at home, I like to use whole wheat rotini (corkscrew) pasta and then the leftovers are quite good served cold for lunch the next day.

And now, ON TO THE RECIPE!!! (As requested by some of the ladies this weekend…)

The Pampered Chef ¬ģ
Jerk Chicken Salad
Recipe
 1 tablespoon  Garlic Oil or olive oil 
 1 tablespoon  Jamaican Jerk Rub 
 1 pound chicken tenders 
 1 medium pineapple 
 1 red bell pepper 
 3 green onions (white and light green parts only) 
 2 heads romaine lettuce 
 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained 
 6 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled 
Dressing
 2 limes 
 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise 
 2 tablespoons pineapple preserves 
  1. In Classic Batter Bowl, whisk together oil and jerk rub with Stainless Whisk. Add chicken tenders; mix well to coat and set aside. Peel pineapple and cut in half lengthwise with Santoku Knife; reserve half for another use. Cut remaining pineapple in half lengthwise and remove core. Slice crosswise into ¬ľ-inch slices. Heat Grill Pan over medium heat 5 minutes. Add chicken; cook 3-5 minutes on each side, turning once. Remove from pan. Add pineapple to pan. Cook 1 minute on each side, turning once; remove from pan. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces using Utility Knife; set chicken and pineapple aside.
  2. Thinly slice bell pepper and green onions on Cutting Board with Measure Cups using Santoku Knife. Arrange 12 large lettuce leaves around Simple Additions¬ģ Large Round Platter. Chop remaining lettuce; set vegetables aside. Drain and rinse beans using Strainer; set aside.
  3. For dressing, zest one lime using Microplane¬ģ Adjustable Grater. Juice both limes into Small Batter Bowl using Citrus Press. Add lime zest, mayonnaise and pineapple preserves to batter bowl; mix well.
  4. Layer chopped lettuce, beans, bell pepper, chicken, pineapple, bacon and green onions over each lettuce leaf. Drizzle dressing over salad.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 320, Total Fat 16 g, Saturated Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 60 mg, Carbohydrate 24 g, Protein 24 g, Sodium 580 mg, Fiber 5 g
Cook’s Tip: If desired, 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips, can be substituted for the chicken tenders. To microwave bacon, line Medium Bar Pan with sheet of Parchment Paper. Arrange bacon slices in a single layer on bar pan; cover with another sheet of Parchment Paper. Microwave on HIGH 4-6 minutes, checking after each 30-second interval and turning once with Bamboo Tongs. Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate to drain. For a kid-friendly version of this recipe, prepare recipe as directed, omitting lettuce. Cook 1 pound rotini pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and toss with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add remaining ingredients; drizzle with dressing and toss gently.
© The Pampered Chef, Ltd., 2001

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Filed under Cooking With Love, Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads

Asian Dressing

1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pressed garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup vegetable oil
 
Combine all ingredients into a salad dressing mixer, or small bowl. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
 

 
MY NOTES:
I use low sodium soy sauce
1 garlic clove seems weak to me, but I’m a garlic-lover! I use 2…
Instead of vegetable oil, I use sesame oil to add another element of flavor to the dressing….
 

 
THE SALAD!!!
 
I have no measurements… it’s a salad, just use as much as you need to make enough for your family!
 
sliced red cabbage
sliced savoy cabbage
sliced green onion tops
carrot strips (jullienne, or shredded with a vegetable peeler for ribbons)
sugar snap peas
new addition to the salad…
ramen noodles, broken into small pieces
(This was added my request of the family…. and they love it, so I will probably keep adding it…… I guess… lol As long as they don’t start asking me to make them soup with the noodles, it’s all good. LOL)
 
You may also add grilled chicken, toasted sliced almonds, sesame seeds…… it’s a salad! BE CREATIVE!

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Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing

2 cups fresh spinach, cleaned and dried
4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 green onion top, sliced
3 hard boiled eggs
1 avocado
Bacon Dressing (recipe follows)
 
Toss first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl with Bacon dressing, immediately before serving. Top with sliced eggs and avocado. Enjoy!
 
Bacon Dressing:
2 Tbl bacon drippings
3 Tbl vinegar
1/4 C. heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp sugar
 
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring constantly. Simmer about 2 minutes. (Dressing will still be thin) Cool slightly before tossing with salad. (Mix in bacon pieces and chopped egg, if desired)

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Tropical Fruit Salad

2 cans Tropical Fruit
2 bananas
1 apple
1 orange
1 coconut
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
 
Drain canned fruit. If time permits, let it sit in the drainer, over a bowl, in the fridge to get as much juice out as possible. Slice bananas. Cut apple into chunks. Cut peel off orange, then cut segments into chunks. Toss all the fruits together and set aside (still in the drainer over a bowl so juice can keep running off… you don’t want it to break down the whip cream and make runny salad). Cut the "meat" out of the coconut shell and use a grater to shred it. Set aside.
 
Pour cream into a chilled bowl, add powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. (You can use an electric mixer to make quick work of this task. If you don’t have a mixer, use a whisk and place the bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice and start whipping! It’ll take 5-10 minutes… enlist the help of anyone who plans to eat the fruit salad!). Mix the fruit in with whip cream, plus some shredded coconut, just before serving. Sprinkle the top with additional coconut.

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Filed under Dessert, Recipes, Salads