Summer Pasta Salad

 

Hello all– This weekend we’re happily stacking all the things we need to pack up for early Monday morning, when we fly off for our Laurel & John’s wedding in the woods of Wisconsin!  Party dress,  check. Sunblock, check. Grandma Lo’s wedding cake bride and groom, check.  Surprises for grand-girl Jobay, turning 6 on the wedding date, checkity check.

And meanwhile, around here, we’re cleaning out things lingering in the kitchen before we go.  Had a 1/3 bag of egg noodles, a ready to eat avocado, MORE of Larry’s sweet tomatoes…  Throw them in with some corn, a couple slices of bacon and a little chicken.  Summer Pasta Salad  –just right on a hot summer evening!

SUMMER PASTA SALAD
4 oz. pasta (I used egg noodles)
1 boneless chicken breast
1 tab. olive oil
5 slices bacon
2 ears of corn, cut from the cob
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, cut to nice chunks

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar*
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain and let it cool.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into 3 flat filets and saute in a skillet until it’s nicely browned and cooked through (3 or4 minutes on each side). Remove to cutting board and cut into nice polite size pieces.

Wipe out the skillet and cook up the bacon.  Crumble it to small bits.

Cook the corn cobs in the microwave 6 or 7 minutes.  Cut the corn from the cobs with a large knife.

To make the dressing put the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it up until it’s completely blended.

When the chicken and pasta have cooled, put them in a large mixing bowl and mix in the bacon, corn, tomatoes, green onion and dressing.  Then gently fold in the avocado.  Put to chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Chicken & Summer Veggie Tostadas

Hello all– If you go into our back yard and peek through the fence, you can see our neighbor, Mr. Wicks’ garden!  Really more of a mini-farm.  Fruit trees and all kinds of squash,  green beans and loaded tomato bushes eight feet tall!  And he’s generous.  Giving out fruit and his famous roses to neighbors who pass by.  And we are the often happy beneficiaries of his bounty– this week zucchini and yellow squash!

And of course, the best way to use any lovely food is to roll it into a taco, in this case a tostada.  Thanks Mr. Wicks.  They were delicious!

 

CHICKEN & SUMMER VEGGIE TOSTADAS
1 tab. olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound boneless chicken breast
1/4 cup red onion, chopped fine
1 medium zucchini, chopped to small bits
1 cup fresh (or frozen, defrosted) corn kernels
1/2 cup sales verde
3 tab. chopped cilantro
6 standard corn tortillas
1 tab. olive oil
1/2 cup colby jack, grated
garnish: cilantro, avocado slices

 

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet.  Mix the cumin, salt & pepper in a bowl.  Cut the chicken into flat filets and dredge it in the cumin mixture.  Set it in the hot pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Take the chicken out of the pan to a cutting board and cut it into small bite size pieces.

In the same skillet, add the chopped red onion, zucchini and corn.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add in the salsa verde and cilantro.  Mix. Take it off the heat.

Set the tortillas onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Brush the tablespoon of olive oil onto the tortillas.  Set them under the broiler on a medium heat setting for 1 or 2 minutes until they are crispy and lightly browned.

Then stir the chicken into the zucchini mixture and heap it onto the tortillas.  Sprinkle the cheese over the tops and set them back under the broiler for just a minute until the cheese melts.  Garnish with cilantro & avocado.  Add a crispy salad and dinner is ready!!

Mexican Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

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Hi all– We are trying to get a little jump on summer here.  It’s been warm and my thoughts are already on summer break, lazing in bed mornings with a book, lunch dates with friends, weekend beach walks, dinner out under the maples in the backyard…  It’s all about slowing down, less rush.

And salads.  A bright salad for dinner, makes it seem like summer.  Fresh colorful veggies, salty bacon and cheese.  And tart cilantro lime dressing.  It isn’t June yet, but with this salad on the table, it feels like summer!

MEXICAN COBB SALAD WITH CILANTRO LIME DRESSING

Salad:
4 cups leafy greens
3 small tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 firm avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
1 Persian cucumber, sliced thin
3 strips of bacon, fried & crumbled
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
1/3  cup cortijo cheese*

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. lime juice (about 1 large lime)
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

This is easy.  Spread the lettuces out on a platter and spoon the other ingredients on top.  Done!

For the dressing, put the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, sugar and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake til it’s thoroughly blended and drizzle over the salad.

Great served with a chunk of cornbread– or if there’s no time to bake, a handful of crispy tortilla chips. Dinner for two.  Enjoy!

*I didn’t have cortijo cheese in the fridge, so used feta.

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Chipotle Veggie Chili

IMG_2395Hey there– Looking for something warm and cozy and good for you, amid all the Holiday eating?  Set aside the fudge and roast beast (thank you Dr. Seuss) for this simple, filling Veggie Chili.  It makes a fine supper served up with a hot slab of cornbread.

CHILPOTLE VEGGIE CHILI
2 tab. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, stopped to smallish bits
1 chipotle pepper, seeds removed, minced
4 cloves garlic
1 tab. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2  14 oz. cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
14 oz. can petit cut tomatoes with garlic
14 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can chili beans, include sauce
1 can yellow corn, drained
2 cups water
3/4 cup farro
1/2 tsp. salt & freshly ground pepper to tastE
garnish:  sour cream, cheddar green onions…

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and then toss in the chopped onion and carrots.  Sauce for 3 or 4 minutes until the onions are tender.  Then add in the chipotle pepper, garlic, chili powder and cumin and stir it around for a minute.

Then add in the tomatoes, black beans, chili beans, corn, water and faro.  Simmer on low for 10 to 15 minutes more until the faro is tender.

Season with salt & pepper to taste.  And serve it up hot with sour cream or cheddar or green onions…

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Chicken Enchilada Soup

IMG_2573Hello all–  This week our young mom’s group* got together after our summer hiatus.  I made a major pot of soup (did I really think we’d eat that much?!) and set the table, but I didn’t know it would be a celebration dinner– Esther and her Brian finally signed the adoptions papers this week for their little guy– it’s been 3 years of unbelievable ups and downs.  We all couldn’t have been more thrilled!!

So this simple chunky soup became a special occasion supper– I think it was yummy enough to measure up– along with a bright fruity green salad and some orange poppy seed cornbread.  So happy for Esther and her sweet family!

CHICKEN ENCHILADA SOUP
splash olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup yellow corn meal
3 cups chicken broth
14 0z. can green enchilada sauce**
14 oz. black beans
14 oz. can corn
14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped to nice little bites***
1 cup cheddar shredded
salt to taste
toppings:  avocado, cheddar, cilantro, red onion, chopped tomatoes, chips…

Heat the oil in the bottom of a soup pot.  Throw in the onions and cook for 4 or 5 minutes until they are completely wilted, then drop in the garlic and cook a minute more.

Stir in the cornmeal.  Then stir in the chicken broth until it’s all blended and bubbling.  then add in the enchiladas sauce, black beans, corn, tomatoes and cumin.

I’m averse to big chunks of tomato floating in my soup, so I smoothed it all out with a stick blender at this point– but you can totally skip that if you’re found of tomatoes.

Then stir in the chicken and finally the cheddar.  Bring it to a simmer and taste to see if you want to add salt– I added just a 1/4 tsp.

It’s ready!!  So easy.  You can serve it with any or all of the garnishes– and with a fruity salad and a slab of cornbread on the side it’s a happy meal.

*It’s a young moms group– but I’m an old mentor mom in this group.

**I love Herdrez brand enchilada sauce (and their green salsa)
***Used a rotisserie chicken from the market, plus several cans of all those ingredients– makes the recipe so fast and easy.

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Summer Corn Soup

IMG_2234Hello all–  Supper tonight landed at the intersection of summer and fall. The last of the sweet summer corn cooked into a hearty fall-ish soup.  It’s a little lighter and fresher than the normal corn chowder.  The sweetness of that summer corn shines through.

SUMMER CORN SOUP
3 tab. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 small red or yukon gold potatoes
3 ears of corn
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
3 tab. cornstarch
salt & freshly ground pepper
Garnish: paprika, green onion & avocado

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil and then add in the chopped onion.  When the onion is wilted, add in the minced garlic and cooked 2 minutes more.

While that’s happening– cook the ears of corn for 6 minutes in the microwave in a dish with water and a couple shakes of salt.  Cut the corn off of the cobs.  (save a 1/2 cup of corn aside to use as a garnish)

Cut the potatoes into small bits.  When the corn is done cooking, pop the potatoes into the microwave in the dish with water & a shake of salt.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Then add the corn, potatoes, chicken broth and milk to the onions in the soup pot.  Stir it up and taste.  Season with salt & pepper til it’s just right.   Bring it to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

In a container with a tight lid, shake together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water.  Add it to the simmering soup and stir a couple minutes until it thickens.

Serve it up hot– and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, some chopped green onion, avocado and saved corn. Makes 4 -6 lovely bowls of soup.

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Fresh Corn Salad

IMG_9582Hey there–  Break out the bar-b-que time at our house!  Even though it was Fathers Day, we set Larry to do the work at the grill, while the grand-girls cranked out “Happy Fathers Day” signs and blew up balloons to hang in the yard by the table.  Time to celebrate Dads!

And I was (where else?) –in the kitchen putting lunch together.  Loved this cool salad, in place of good old corn on the cob.  I could make it early in the day and let it chill, ready to set on the table as the meat came off the grill.  It’s crunchy & sweet & tangy– perfect for a sumer afternoon…

FRESH CORN SALAD
4 ears of corn
12-15 cherry tomatoes sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled & cut in small bits
3 green onions, the green parts sliced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, cut to small pieces
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
2 avocados, peeled and cut to small chunks
6 tab. olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar
2 tsp. sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper

Cook the corn as you wish– I just cooked up these 4 ears in the microwave for 6 minutes.  When it’s cooled a bit, sliced the kernels off of the cob with a sharp knife.

Then in a large mixing bowl stir together the corn, tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, red pepper, cilantro and avocado.

Then in a container with a tight lid, shake together the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. When it’s well blended, pour it over the salad and mix it into coat all the ingredients.  Pop it into the fridge to chill for a couple hours if you have time.

That’s it.  Bar-b-que ready– for a summer’s dinner in the yard or at the beach!

IMG_9612Happy Fathers Day to 3 generations of Dads!  Our son Micah, Stu his grandpa and my Larry all ready to sit down to dinner in the backyard…  We love these great dads!