“In Italy, they add on work and life to food and wine.” ~ Robin Leach

There is nothing better for the perfect summer snack than a Caprese salad. Home grown tomatoes with fresh sliced mozzarella and basil topped with a high quality olive oil and a nice balsamic vinegar drizzle. So yummy and refreshing!

I wanted to extend this appetizer into a meal so with the addition of a few basic ingredients – that’s what I did.

Turned out to be a great light summer dinner.

Caprese Chicken Pasta

  • 2 cups frozen (drained) or tightly packed fresh spinach
  • 1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (jar kind is fine)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans Italian seasoned diced tomatoes (must be the Italian style!)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 10 oz short pasta of your choice (penne, bowtie, elbow etc.), cooked to al dente
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of basil, julienned
  • Mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • Balsamic vinegar, optional

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat, add onion and cook for 5-7 mins or until onions are softened a bit. Add in garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in spinach and chicken and cook for an additional 5 mins.

In a small bowl, make a slurry (whisking together til smooth) with the heavy cream and cornstarch, add this along with the chicken stock and tomatoes to the pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and stir in pasta. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls, garnish with chopped tomatoes, basil, cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


-abp

 

 

 

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“Be quick, but don’t hurry.” ~ John Wooden

Shrimp dishes can be unbelievably quick!

And sometimes (a lot of times) quick is what I really need. Especially in the summer. It stays light out for so long ( I LOVE that though), the night slips up on you! Next thing I know it’s 7:15 and I haven’t even to begin to start supper.

This is why I always have frozen peeled and deveined shrimp in my freezer. It thaws super quick and with a little seasoning and rice – you have a dinner.

There is a little more to the following recipe but it’s still a quick one!

Honey Garlic Shrimp and Noodles

  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 8 oz, udon noodles, cooked

Whisk together honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger in a medium bowl.

In a large zip lock bag, place shrimp and 1/4 of the sauce in the bag. Coat well and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and/or up to 8 hours.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Remove shrimp from marinade (discard marinade) and cook shrimp for about a minute per side. Add in the remaining sauce and cook until heated through, add the cornstarch slurry (whisked water and cornstarch) bring to a simmer until thickened.

Serve shrimp and sauce over cooked udon noodles. Sprinkle with green onions.


-abp

“You may be a redneck if… your lifetime goal is to own a fireworks stand.” ~ Jeff Foxworthy

The 4th of July may be over but it doesn’t mean you can’t still have firecrackers!

Below is a super simple recipe that would be great for any type of gathering. Whether it be July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day or for Tailgaiting.

It’s a spicy twist on the classic Baked Ranch Oysters crackers.

Every now and then we all need a little spice in our life!

Fire Crackers

  • 1 (13 oz) box of Cheez-Its
  • 1 (1 oz) package of dry ranch dressing
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1-4 teaspoons of red pepper flakes (all depends on desired heat, omit if you don’t want any spice)

Preheat oven to 250º.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients making sure to get crackers evenly coated.

Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 or until oil seems to have absorbed.

Remove, cool on sheet and enjoy. Store in a zip lock bag.


-abp

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” ~ Stephen King

Ah Lawd. I’ve created a monster.

My getting back in the kitchen has made my husband come to expect some new dish nightly.

Well. I hate it for him. Lol.

But it’s not too bad when you can whip up something fairly simple – this recipe included.

BTW – we are going out to eat tonight.

Chicken Parmesan

  • 4 chicken cutlets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jar ( oz) marinara sauce
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon water, whisked together
  • 10 oz spaghetti noodles, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • dried basil for garnish
  • salt/pepper

Preheat oven to 350º.

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour (both sides), shake off excess. Then dredge in egg mixture (both sides), shake off excess. Finally, dredge in breadcrumbs (both sides) and press into chicken.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken on both sides (3-4 minutes a side or until cooked through). Remove to paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

Place cooked noodles in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with marinara, reserving 1 cup to top chicken. Arrange chicken breasts on top of noodles, followed by remaining sauce across the chicken. Evenly sprinkle cheese on top of chicken.

Baked uncovered for around 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Sprinkle with basil before serving.

 

-abp

 

“All we have of freedom, all we use or know —This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.”~Rudyard Kipling

We had a great 4th of July weekend!

Although we had out of town company, we really had no major plans but when you throw in fun sunglasses, fake USA themed tattoos, cold beer and a slip n slide – it’s a perfect weekend!

We had the usual cook out fare – grilled burgers, chips, baked beans and cucumber/tomato/onion salad but we had to finish it off with something sweet and since I had fresh Chilton County peaches and a quart of blueberries in hand, I decided to go with a classic cobbler. 

Peach and Bluberry Cobbler

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • 1 ½ cup sugar (divided)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together butter, flour and 1 cup sugar. In another bowl toss fruit with 1/2 cup remaining sugar and lemon juice. Layer the fruit mixture in a 2 quart glass baking dish and pour the flour/milk mixture on top. 

Bake for 45-60 minutes or until brown and bubbly. 

Serve with vanilla icecream. 

-abp