“Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission.” ~ Andrew Jackson

I found another delicious salad that allows me to use my new favorite ingredient.

Quinoa.

Whats great about quinoa is that it’s very filling and pretty much takes on the flavor of the other ingredients with which it has been paired. Because of this, you can add it or serve it with most any salad or as a bed for a sauce in place of rice. It has been called the “perfect food”.

I am always finding new ways to try quinoa. I have a new recipe for a breakfast bowl that calls for it and I am dying to give it a try.

Stay tuned.

Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

(adapted from Damn Delicious)

Salad

  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup blueberry craisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Toss salad ingredients in large bowl, top with vinaigrette, toss again. Serve immediately.

** This can be made with any mixed green salad but I highly recommend keeping all other ingredients. **

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.

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-abp

“I make it a rule always to believe compliments implicitly for five minutes, and to simmer gently for twenty more.” ~ Alice James

The cold is back.

Luckily, we will not be having the horrible weather expected in the Northeast but nonetheless, you have no idea how ready I am for spring to get here.

But since that is still quite a ways off, I might as well enjoy one of the things that comes with cold weather.

A nice warm stew. One that cooks all day and makes the house smell wonderful!

Today, I have nothing on the calendar so I will luckily stay in my comfy knit pants and sweatshirt, go outside only to get the mail,  do some laundry and start this stew.

My kind of day.

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

  • 1 lb stew meat or beef tips
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cans (15 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can greens beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen Lima beans
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ frozen diced potatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Season beef with salt and pepper, brown on all sides in large pot. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent.

Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, beans, bouillon, broth and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 1-2 hours. After it has simmered for at least an hour, add in potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Best served with cornbread!

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-abp

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” ~ Martina Navratilova

I got a HUGE compliment from my husband!

He told me that the ham I baked for Christmas dinner was the best ham he had ever had!

BTW – he turned 50 this month, so that means the best ham in FIFTY years!

(Happy Birthday REP!)

It was a good Ham – for the first time ever, we ended up eating the whole whopping thing.

We had ham sandwiches, fried ham in biscuits and chopped ham in farmer omelets, etc.

Made me feel very frugal. 🙂

So if you have a hankering for a good ham (would be great for Sunday dinner) or just a great compliment from your hubby (or wife). You need to give this very delicious but very easy ham a try.

Best Ham Ever

(adapted from South Your Mouth)

  • 6-8 lb. bone-in, cured ham
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup prepared dijon mustard
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1½ cup of coke
  • 1 Large turkey baking bag

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Score the Ham 1/4 inches down in a diamond patter.

Place the ham in the baking bag on it’s bottom (cut side out). Place bag on a roasting pan.

Mix mustard and sugar together in a small bowl until combined. Spread mixture over the whole ham (in the bag).

Place orange wedges around the base of the ham and pour coke around the bottom on the ham (not over the top – you do not want to wash your sugar mixture up.

With a puff of air into the bag, close the opening tightly and with a sharp knife, cut 3, 1 inch slits on the top of the bag.

Cook for 1.5 – 2 hours.

Let ham rest for 30 minutes before serving.

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-abp

“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” ~ Robert H. Schuller

I have been on a quest for interesting, great tasting salads.

On Facebook I talked about needing to get more salads (with some kind of protein) into my diet.

But they had to be good!

As I have mentioned before – everything I blog about comes from something I have cooked to eat with my family. I only wish my blog was impressive enough that I actually cooked full time for it. But sadly, not yet. A girl can dream, though!  🙂

So when the thought of a serious diet started, I questioned it with – “What in the world will I be able to blog?” I can’t write about a bagged salad with grilled chicken and a bottled lite vinaigrette every week!

I received lots of great feedback from my friends on Facebook and I foraged Pinterest, because of this, I am starting to get a pretty good list going.

The following is an example.

Apple Harvest Salad

(adapted from Life Made Simple)

Salad

  • 6 cups of lightly packed spinach, torn
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 large fugi apple
  • ½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ Craisins
  • ½ feta cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 2 tsp. minced shallot
  • 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Add greens to a large dinner plate or salad bowl. Top with the cooked (and cooled) quinoa, apple chunks, pepitas and craisins.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the shallot and vinegar in a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil by pouring in a steady stream, whisking vigorously until emulsified. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.

Serve alone or with a protein.

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-abp

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ~ Annie Dillard

If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred times!

Crockpots are the best invention ever!

In my case, it’s the afternoons that start to get busy so it’s great to be able to get a meal on in the morning, knowing either all or at least the main part of dinner will be ready when you are ready for it.

It allows for me to concentrate on dessert or a yummy side or to just come dashing in and throw it on the table.

This recipe is no exception. It’s a breeze to put together but so delicious and very versatile.

It can be eaten by itself, on a bun or my favorite way – on a baked potato.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless  chicken breasts
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup Zesty Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste

Lightly salt chicken and place in slow cooker.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Shred chicken and cook for another 15 minutes on low.

Voilá – it’s ready for however you want to use it!

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-abp

“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.” ~ Jules Renard

I love Chicken and Dumplings.

I made them homemade from scratch, once.

And that will probably be the only time.

Don’t get me wrong they were fantastic and no, the shortcut versions will never be a good but if I ever want to have them again anytime soon – it will have to be a shortcut version.

Or I can go to Cracker Barrel.

This is very, very good alternative and it’s made in the crockpot to boot!

Lazy Day Chicken n’ Dumplings

(adapted from All Things Delicious)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2  (10.5 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1/2 onion, diced OR you can use 2 Tbsp. dried, diced onion (I used fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 4 Grands flaky refrigerator biscuits

Place chicken in crockpot and plop the butter on top of the chicken.  Add cream of chicken soup and chicken broth.  Followed by onion and parsley.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.  After the chicken is cooked, shred it and put it back into the soup. Cut each biscuit into 9 pieces.  Gently stir biscuits into soup.  Cook for another 45 minutes on low.

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I definitely recommend this shortcut recipe for those lazy fall days that are perfect for comfort food! Granted, it doesn’t look like traditional Chicken n’ Dumplings but it sure does taste like them!

-abp

 

“I’m a maniacal perfectionist.” ~ Martha Stewart

I am very impressed with people who can put dinner on the table and every single bit be homemade, every single time.

I can do it and have done it but I have found that if you really want to try and cook at home most weeknights, you have to take shortcuts or you will burn out.

I have gotten to the point that if I have cooked the main dish, I don’t feel too bad if I heat up a can of green beans or corn to go with it.

Or both.

Don’t judge. I never claimed to be Martha Stewart. 🙂

Here is one of those “I only have a short amount of time and a short amount of energy” dinners.

A main dish and canned veggies.

Baked Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders

  • 1/4 cup of grainy, coarse mustard
  • 1/4 cup smooth dijion mustard
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-5 small sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided

In a small bowl, combine the mustards, honey, and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil.

In a sauté pan or cast iron skillet, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Add the onion and the leaves of one rosemary sprig and sauté over medium heat until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 – 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Transfer the onion and garlic to an oven safe dish (or if the saute pan you used is oven safe, you can just use it). Place the chicken on top of onion/garlic mixture. Salt and pepper the tops of the chicken to taste.

Pour the honey mustard mixture on top of the chicken. Arrange the rosemary sprigs around the chicken in the pan.

Bake the chicken covered at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then remove the cover, baste the chicken with the sauce, and continue to cook for an additional 20 – 30 minutes uncovered, or until the chicken is browned on top and cooked through.

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This was really so very good!! It was actually much better than I even expected it to be!! The flavors were fabulous and the chicken was incredibly tender. It will most definitely go on the weeknight rotation.

2 side notes:

1. The sauce was so good that I would omit the canned corn and add a bag of “boil in the bag” (keepin’ it simple) rice, then serve the chicken and the sauce on top of it.

2. I LOVE rosemary so I would never leave it out but if you are not a fan or do not have it on hand, this recipe could easily be made without it and it would be your basic Honey Mustard Chicken but still delicious!

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

-abp

“To me, my recipes are priceless.” ~ Colonel Sanders

Since I have now been on an almost year long quest to loose the baby weight, most of the recipes that would normally catch my eye while skimming Pinterest, magazines, cookbooks etc. have fallen to the wayside.

Those recipes being anything with the word creamy, creamier, and creamiest in the title.

Now, while perusing for new recipes, I refuse to click on them or I just keep flipping the page.

Although, last week, while flipping through the latest Cooking Light Magazine, I came across the recipe – Creamy Pork Chops and Mushrooms.

Wait a minute.

Those two things (Cooking Light and creamy) normally do not go together.

I was intrigued.

So, I gave it a whirl.

I’m very glad I did! These flavors were wonderful together and yes, I got to have a guilt free creamy dish!

Creamy Pork Chops and Mushrooms

(adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 1 cup unseasoned long-grain and wild rice blend
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut loin pork chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 12 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (or any mushroom blend that is not white button mushrooms)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used dried because I had it)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  1. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
  2. While rice cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add rosemary, mushrooms, and onion to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle mushrooms with flour; toss to coat. Stir in vinegar and chicken stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return pork chops and any accumulated juices to pan. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper into rice. Arrange pork chops on a serving platter. Simmer sauce, uncovered, 2 additional ­minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in sour cream. Serve pork chops with mushroom sauce and rice.

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My husband raved over this.  He said it was restaurant worthy. That always makes me smile. 🙂

-abp

“People find life entirely too time consuming.” ~ Stanislaw J. Lec

Oh! The lazy days of summer.  I love it!

Although, that saying doesn’t ring true much anymore.  Schedules are crazy and there is no structure or there is too much structure. Years ago you didn’t even need structure because life was just simple.

You got up, you went out to play, you came in for lunch and a little down time (mine was watching I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show at 12:00 and 12:30 while I ate my lunch on the floor in front of the TV) and then you went back out until dinner time which was followed by a bath and a little more down time before you got in the bed.

You got up and did it again.

For 3 months. 3 whole months.

Life was perfect. And simple.

I really do feel sorry for today’s children, they will never know that sense of “easy”.

Makes me sad.

On another note something that is easy and makes me happy are simple things like one skillet meals. I have posted several on here and now I have another to add to the category.

These are perfect for those more hectic summer days.

BBQ Chicken Skillet Pasta

(adapted from Damn Delicious)

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
  • 3 cups rotini pasta
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, or more, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet or pot, brown bacon until crispy, then remove from pan reserving 1 Tablespoon of fat.

Add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned on all sides.

Add garlic and onions and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until soft.

Mix in chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce and simmer for around 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked.

Stir in BBQ sauce, bacon and cheese. Mix until heated through.

 

 

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-abp

“Let the past be content with itself, for man needs forgetfulness as well as memory.” ~ James Stephens

Stuffed Peppers.

A childhood favorite! Mom used to make them all of the time but bless her, she doesn’t remember quite how she did…… 🙂

I can understand that, I cant remember what I made last week. Does the baby brain ever go away?!?

That’s the thing about childhood favorites and all that good food that your mom and grandma made. They didnt have recipes written down. It was just in their head. I honestly do not know how my grandmother kept up with them all. (She obviously didn’t have baby brain)

Thank goodness for the internet and the beloved Pinterest because now I do not even have to try.

Since I knew I would not be able to recreate the ones my mom made, there would be no reason to even try so I’m putting a different spin on them. More Mexican than Italian. Also, since my husband is not a fan of green bell peppers, I will do a mixture of red and green bell peppers.

Although, I haven’t given up on finding a recipe close to mom’s. Stayed tuned!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

(adapted from Trisha Yearwood)

  • 6 large red or green bell peppers
  • 2½ cups long-grain white rice (or rice of your choice)
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • ½ medium-size sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5-oz can Italian style diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 10-oz can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 16 oz sharp Mexican blend cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut the bell peppers in half, top to bottom. Remove the seeds and the ribs and wilt peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

To save time cook “boil in the bags” rice according to directions in the same water you cook peppers. Or you can cook regular rice in another pot. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic. Drain the meat. Add tomatoes to the meat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in rice, salts and pepper.

In a foil lined pan sprayed with cooking spray, place the bell peppers skin side down. Evenly divide the beef mixture among the pepper halves. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese and cilantro on the top. Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts.

**** Next time I think I may add taco seasoning to kick up the Mexican flavor. ****

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-abp