“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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“Warning: Going to Sleep on Sunday night will cause Monday.” ~ unknown

What goes better with a cold, rainy night than a good ole bowl of warm chili??

I can’t think of much else…..

It’s also perfect for winding down the weekend on Sunday night.

So, if you happen to have a cold, rainy, Sunday night – you will have pure perfection with this recipe!

Sunday Night Chili

  • 12 ounces packaged bacon
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1, 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1, 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 1, 15 oz can light red kidney bean, plus one can of water
  • 1, 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed, plus one can of water
  • 1.5 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  • Shredded cheese, green onion, Fritos and sour cream for toppings
Cook bacon until crisp, remove, crumble once cooled.
In bacon grease cook onion and red pepper for 2 mins then add in ground beef, cook until browned, drain excess grease.
Add crumbled bacon and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1-1.5 hours. Salt/pepper to taste and serve with toppings of your choice.
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-abp

“Kiss my grits!” ~ Flo Castleberry

Some things are just southern.

Fried chicken.

Pimento cheese.

SunDrop and Nehi.

Cornbread.

But nothing says southern like grits.

Luckily the rest of the United States have started to catch on and use them in recipes at great restaurants across the country.

If you are new to the south and want to solidify your place here – try this recipe. If you are already from here, you already understand the importance of trying this recipe.

This recipe is versatile – it’s great for breakfast or to add to any shrimp and grits recipe.

Perfect Cheese Grits

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grits
  • 3 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook grits according to directions in chicken broth, adding garlic before grits.

Once grits are cooked, remove from heat and stir in cheese, butter and cream.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

-abp

“It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.” ~ Ernie Harwell

My friends and I, The Regular Crew,  as they are called, will pretty much come up with most any reason to have a “gathering”.

These gatherings are always a fun, good excuse to try one of those new appetizers that cover up Pinterest. This gathering is no exception except that is will be bittersweet because the reason for this gathering is to say goodbye to 2 of our own, as they embark on their next life adventure in Indiana. 😦

While trying not to get too blue about that fact for the moment, lets focus on the app at hand.

I know most everyone has had the ham and cheese sandwiches with the popyseed/mustard spread and those really can’t be beat so today, so I’m not going to change up the original idea of the sandwiches but the way they are constructed.

Ham and Cheese Rolls

(adapted from Kevin & Amanda)

  • 1 can refrigerated pizza crust
  • 3/4 lb deli ham (thinly sliced, but not shaved)
  • 12 slices Swiss cheese (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350º.

Spray a 9×13 in baking dish with cooking spray.

Unroll pizza dough and stretch/press it out until it is around 13×18 in size.

On a cutting board, layer ham and cheese evenly on top of pizza crust. Tightly roll up the longer side, all the way to the edge. Pinch together and place seam side down.

Cut into 1 inches slices (12 in all) and arrange in baking dish.

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat,

Combine the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and poppy seeds.
Whisk until all the butter is melted and ingredients are completely combined.
Pour evenly over rolls.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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-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

“As long as there’s a few farmers out there, we’ll keep fighting for them.” ~ Willie Nelson

One of the things I love about the spring and summer is the River Market Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning!

It’s a fabulous way to start your Saturday morning! There is just something about it that makes me happy. 🙂

Growing up on a farm with a huge garden will pretty much spoil you to any other kind of vegetables. Unfortunately, for years I had to do without such fresh homegrown vegetables but with the new interest in fresh homegrown food – I am now able to get a little bit of my childhood back.

I love to just look around a grab a few things for the rest of the week but today I had several things on my list that I had to have for tonight’s dinner and they did not disappoint.

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Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables

  • 4 ounces uncooked ziti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Cook pasta according to directions and preheat oven to 400º.

Sauté squash, zucchini and onion in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add tomato and garlic for 3-5 more minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (minus the cooking spray).

Then add cheese mixture to vegetable mixture and pour into an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

 

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“A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” ~ Bil Keane

Here is day 2 of my Sweetheart’s Italian food inspired Valentine’s Day Week.
This one is so simple, I actually feel bad saying “it’s part of a special week menu” – but not too bad. 😉

Had it not been so simple he may have had only 2 special meals instead of 3 because Friday, I’m going all out!

Well, all out for my standards.
Anywho, here’s the scoop on the simplest meal ever.

Hug-Your-Hubby
Crockpot Italian Chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 red potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 bag small carrots
  • 16 oz Zesty Italian dressing
  • 1 Tablespoon dry Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

Add all ingredients to your crockpot, vegetables on the bottom. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove chicken to a bowl and shred. Remove vegetables to separate bowl. Take juice from crockpot and pour over the shredded chicken.

Add garlic bread and it’s perfect!

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-abp

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Hello, it’s me again! Sorry I have been MIA but if you have read much of my blog lately you know I have a good reason! 🙂

Miss Elizabeth Louise Poore made her debut on Halloween – my little pumpkin baby!!

So, of course, it has been quite hectic around here but I wanted to throw a quick recipe out there for you.  It’s a very popular, easy party dip that I’m sure you have seen at a many of parties.

7 Layer Dip

  • 2 cans of refried beans with greens chilies
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup guacamole (I used premade)
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded mexi-blend cheese
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped green onions (green part only)
  • tortilla chips

Spread beans evenly in a glass dish (9×11). Then layer the remaining indredients and serve with chips.

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Now how easy was that?? Easy enough for a mom with a 4 week old to make and take to an Iron Bowl party, but we are not going to talk about that. RTR anyway!

-abp

 

“Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Simple was the key for Sunday night when preparing dinner because I had one eye on dinner and the other eye on the tv watching The Oscars or Oscar coverage. That’s why I opted for the all time favorite – spaghetti.

I love me some “sketti”.

And don’t you just love all those dresses?!?

(Although some of those chicks really need to eat.)

The girly girl in me wishes there were more occasions to dress up – it’s so much fun!

Don’t get me wrong – I looooove casual but I do not think there are enough times that we go all out like they used to in the golden era.

You know – “dress for dinner”

Oh well. I’m sure there are more days that I’m glad I do not have to “dress for dinner” than there are days that I wish I could.

Since Sunday was just a staple dinner I thought last night I would try something a little different.

BBQ Chicken Pizza.  Should be pretty simple and will go perfectly with the left over Cheesecake in the fridge. 🙂

BBQ Chicken Pizza

(adapted from My Baking Addiction)

  • 1 store bought pizza crust or refrigerated crust
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 ½ cup cooked and shredded chicken (I pan fried a few chicken tenders and shredded that)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ½ – 1 orange bell pepper; diced
  • 1 cup mozzarella  shredded cheese
  • Chopped cilantro; to taste

(all these ingredient amounts vary according to size of pizza crust and your desired tastes)

Preheat oven to the temperature your pizza crust suggests.

Place Pizza dough on pizza stone or foil lined baking sheet and cook until it has a slight toast on it – about 5 minutes. (I opted for foil lined because my stone is round and this pizza crust was square)

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Remove crust and spread barbecue sauce over crust. Add shredded chicken, onion, and bell peppers on top of the barbecue sauce. Top with cheese and cilantro.

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Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown. Garnish with more cilantro.

Chicken BBQ PizzaChicken BBQ PizzaThis was so so good! It tastes like you ordered it from a specialty pizza place! And EASY too!

I might add artichoke hearts next time – and there will be a next time – soon!

-abp

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” ~ Hippocrates

I’m so happy that my seafood man “Bayou Joe” (who has been out of commission because of health reasons) is feeling better and back at selling good quality seafood.

That is why I have two shrimp recipes this week. I bought 2 lbs of shrimp and a pound of scallops which I can not wait to use. Anybody have any “can’t live without” scallop recipes??

This recipe is an adapted version of the Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole from the locally famous Winning Seasons cookbook that was put out by the Tuscaloosa Junior League in the 70’s and is a must have for any southern cook.

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Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

  • 2 Tbs chopped green onions (green part only)
  • 2 Tbs chopped sweet onion
  • 2 Tbs slice mushrooms (I used the kind in the jar because it was all I had but fresh preferably)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbs mustard
  • A few shakes of hot sauce
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 can cream of mushroom
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Pam cooking spray

Preheat over to 350º.

Saute pepper, onion and mushrooms in butter until soft.

DSC03362Mix together onion mixture, worcestershire, mustard, hot sauce, shrimp, soup, salt, pepper, cheese and cooked rice.

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Place in prepared (spray with Pam) casserole dish and top with bread crumbs and spray crumbs with Pam (to help brown). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until browned and bubbly. (I had to broil at the end to get it brown enough)

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This is very simple meal that can be easily doubled and served to a crowd or it can be a different swing to a weeknight comfort meal.

**Note** – this could also be made with chicken.

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Enjoy!

-abp