Quick Tomato Sauce

I have a basil plant this summer and it is still alive.  I tell you this because, until this summer, the only living thing I have managed to keep alive for any length of time has been children. Well, this pasta sauce has given me great incentive to keep my little basil plant alive. It was so good and so easy, I could eat it once a week. And, as a big bonus, both of my kiddos liked it too. The great thing about this sauce is that, with the exception of the basil, all of the ingredients are things I always keep in my pantry. The whole meal came together in about 30 minutes. That was 30 minutes with my precious children running around like maniacs.  I’d say that ain’t too shabby for a weeknight dinner. This one is going in the keeper file. I hope it goes in yours too.

Quick Tomato Sauce

Cook’s Country 2/2005

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic , minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt

1. Cook the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed and diced tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the basil and sugar. Season with salt to taste. When tossing the sauce with pasta, add some of the pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the consistency of the sauce.

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Grilled Pizza Margherita

Yesterday was my hubby’s birthday and we made grilled pizza. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound all that special or glamorous, but take my word for it, this pizza was MAGNIFICENT! It  should have a song written about it or something. It was that good. I am still swooning over it.  It is always amazing to me how good it tastes with so few ingredients.  Not only does it taste fantastic, but with a little preparation, it can be thrown together pretty quickly. I think the next time we have people over, I am going to make this and serve it as an appetizer. If you are going to make one thing from this blog this summer, make this pizza.

Grilled Pizza Margherita

1 lb. ball of pizza dough, homemade or store-bought

3 (or more) cloves of garlic, minced

@ 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced (DO NOT use regular mozzarella. It won’t be the same.)

A few leaves fresh basil

Coarse Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Hot Pepper Flakes

  1. About 30 minutes before you grill the pizza, mix the garlic and olive oil together and let it stand. Fire up the grill.
  2. Stretch your pizza dough into a round. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It looks rustic if it isn’t perfect. Brush one side of the dough lightly with some of the garlic oil.
  3. Placed the dough on the grill, oiled side down. Grill until lightly charred and the bottom is cooked.  Brush a little more of the oil on the uncooked side and flip it over on the grill.
  4. Brush the remaining oil, along with all the garlic on the grilled top of the pizza. Place the mozzarella and tomato slices randomly all over the pizza. Grill the pizza until the bottom is fully cooked and the mozzarella is melted.
  5. Sprinkle some basil leaves, sea salt and cracked pepper all over the pizza. Cut into uneven slices.  Devour.

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Filed under Cheese, Pizza, Vegetarian, Warm Weather Food

Buffalo and Blue Cheese Chicken Salad

In past posts I have mentioned my deep affection for all things with Buffalo sauce and Blue Cheese.  I adore it. Almost unnaturally so.  So, when I needed to use up some leftover grilled chicken breasts, I remembered this recipe from my beloved Cook’s Country magazine and decided to make it. Oh.my.goodness. This chicken salad is just awesome. This is not the kind of chicken salad that is lettuce with chicken on it. This is the yummy, creamy, bad for you kind that you put on white bread and snarf down. It is filled with chicken, blue cheese, mayo, hot sauce AND blue cheese dressing.  This is not gourmet food people. This is comfort food and it is ROCKIN’. If you have some leftover chicken from all that summertime grillin’ I know you are doing, then try this chicken salad. You will be so happy.

Buffalo and Blue Cheese Chicken Salad

from Cook’s Country magazine June 2007

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (or more!)
3 tablespoons hot sauce (Use MORE!! And, use Frank’s)
2 tablespoons bottled blue cheese salad dressing (We used Naturally Fresh)
2 celery ribs chopped
5 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
Salt and pepper

Combine mayonnaise, cheese, hot sauce, dressing, celery, and carrot in large bowl. Add chicken and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper. Serve or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Salad, Sandwiches

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls are one of my very favorite foods. I love them and could eat them all the time. That being said, I had never made them before because they seemed intimidating.  Now, that I have, I will be making them all the time.  They are not hard at all, but they are a bit time-consuming. I would make these when you are not super pressed for time or are just enjoying a lazy day. Ok, stop laughing. I realize that we, especially parents,  don’t have a lot of those kind of days, but these are so worth making. Also, there really isn’t a recipe, per se. It is more of a technique. Then, you can fill the summer rolls with whatever you like. If you want to add some shrimp, go for it. I really just like to keep mine vegetarian and then stuff my face with Chicken Satay. Be sure and whip up the peanut sauce (recipe here on the blog) to go with it.

Summer Rolls

I am not going to list any quantities because you can just make how many ever you want. Also, we had the best luck with using 2 of the rice paper wrappers at a time even though it made the outside a bit thicker. When we only used one, they seemed to tear and fall apart more. You can try one at a time and maybe yours will do better.

Here is what you need:

Round Rice Paper Wrappers

Rice Vermicelli

Romaine, green leaf or Bibb lettuce (shredded)

Carrots (shredded)

Cucumbers (peeled and cut into strips)

Fresh Basil (shredded or left whole, if desired. I prefer shredded.)

Fresh Mint

  1. Cook rice vermicelli according to the package directions (in boiling water for about 4 mins). Set aside.
  2. Combine lettuce, shredded carrots and the shredded basil. Have a little place with your lettuce mixture, cucumbers, mint and noodles all set up.
  3. Spread a clean, damp towel on work surface. Fill a pie plate or shallow skillet with about an inch of tepid water. Working 2 at a time (or 1 if you are brave), immerse the wrappers into the water until just pliable enough to work with. Lay the wrapper on the towel. Place a little bit of all your veggies onto the wrapper in this order: Vermicelli, lettuce mixture, cucumbers and ending with the fresh mint. Take care not to over stuff them or they won’t wrap properly. Wrap up the summer roll like you would a burrito. Take the ends and fold together and then roll.
  4. Cut in half on the bias. Serve with peanut sauce.

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Filed under Appetizer, Vegetarian, Veggie, Warm Weather Food

Thai Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Hello friends!! It has been way too long since I update, I know. But, I am back today with some seriously yummy stuff. One of the best meals I have had in a very long time was a meal we made a few weeks ago with a good friend of ours. It was a Thai cookout and it was FANTASTIC. Ren and I are both huge fans of  Thai food and everything in this meal was just perfect. We had Chicken Satay with Peanut sauce (recipe on this blog), grilled shrimp, Thai Cucumber Salad with Peanuts and the best fresh Summer Rolls ever. Oh yeah, and if that wasn’t enough gorging to keep us on the Spin bike for the next year, we also had homemade brownie sundaes. Damn. Just damn. This cucumber salad was so incredibly good and fresh that it would be perfect for any time when you are grilling out or, if you have a potluck to go to and want to bring something totally different, this would be awesome.

Thai Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

from Bon Appetit  August 2001

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)*  Don’t be scared of this, it tastes good. Just don’t smell it.
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili (about 1 large) I used 2 large
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 English hothouse cucumbers, halved, seeded, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sliced red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts

Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Place cucumbers, onion, and mint in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

*Available at Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets.

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Filed under Side Dish, Veggie

Chocolate Syrup

My kids drink quite a bit of chocolate milk. I know I should probably feel guilty about that, but I don’t. I do,  however, feel guilty when I buy the chocolate syrup with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HCFS) in it. I haven’t found ANY chocolate syrup at the regular grocery store that doesn’t have HCFS in it so, I have been buying it at Trader Joe’s. It is good, but we don’t live super close to a TJ’s and I really wanted an alternative that I could easily make at home. Friends, I have found it. This chocolate syrup is so stinkin’ good, that it makes your milk sing!!! I always worry when I make homemade versions of storebought stuff because usually my kiddos will turn their noses up at it (can you say homemade graham crackers?). But this stuff they have been snarfing down like there is no tomorrow. Hooray!!! Go make this. You will be a hero to your kids.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Recipe added by oneordinaryday on TastyKitchen.com

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Water
  • 3 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Whisk cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a pot until combined. Add water and whisk or stir until well blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove syrup from heat and allow to cool.

2. When cooled completely, stir in vanilla extract until well combined. Pour syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate.

3. Makes approximately 1 3/4 cups of syrup and will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. (It’ll never last that long though!)

Use 1 tablespoon per glass of chocolate milk.

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Filed under Chocolate, Dessert, Sauce

Fried Pickles

Yes, you read that right. If you are reading this and you aren’t from the South, you are probably thinking, “Ewwww, why would someone fry a pickle????” Well, we here in the South fry all manor of things, but fried pickles are the BEST. We even have a restaurant near here called the Fickle Pickle that is famous for their fried pickles. These are pretty much as good as those. The sauce recipe comes from another restaurant called Smokejack that also has awesome fried pickles with a spicy sauce. I have made that recipe before, but it is a bit more involved than these and I think these are just as good. So, if you are having friends over and are feeling adventurous, make these pickles. They will LOVE you for it.

Fried Dill Pickles

from Food Network

  • 1 pint sliced dill pickles, undrained
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ c. yellow cornmeal (this is my addition and I love it!)
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Drain pickles, reserving 2/3-cup pickle juice. Press pickles between paper towels. Combine 2/3 cup pickle juice, egg, 1 tablespoon flour, and hot sauce. Stir well and set aside.

2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour with ground red pepper, garlic powder, salt, and paprika.       Blend   well.

3. Dip pickles in egg mixture, then dredge in flour mixture. Fry coated pickles in 375-degree oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Hot Pink Dipping Sauce

Recipe from Smokejack Restaurant

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon Sriracha hot chili sauce (We used WAY more than 1/2 TBS)

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the Sriracha and mix well.

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Filed under Appetizer, Sauce, Spicy