I’m sick as a dog. I caught that terrible flu that’s been going around. I had a fever of 103° and felt pretty darn miserable. Finally got rid of the flu, but my doctor says I now have bronchitis, not to mention I’m wheezing like an old asthmatic. Sigh….. Anyway, since I’ve been laid up in bed, I thought this would be a good time to catch up on the blog and post some of my recipes that have been sitting in draft form waiting for a little tweaking or something before being published, so don’t be surprised to see several posts come out all at once.
Salade Niçoise (pronounced ni swaz) is one of my all-time favorite salads. I believe it originated in France and my understanding is the original is made with anchovies, but neverhavingbeen to Nice, I can’t say for sure. Every time I’ve had it, it’s been made with tuna and my family likes it that way so I just keep it up — though personally, I wouldn’t mind anchovies. Hey! I happen to like the little guys! Anyway, classic niçoise salad typically has boiled potatoes, green beans, and niçoise olives, but there again from my readings it seems that boiled veggies are frowned upon in some areas of France. Whatever. I happen to think the boiled potatoes and green beans are the best part of this salad! Anyway, give it a try. I guarantee you’ll love it!
(Makes 4 servings)
12 ozs. boston, bibb, or butter lettuce
16 baby yellow potatoes
4 large eggs
10 ozs. haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
2 cans (5½ oz. each) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup niçoise or Kalamata olives, cut in half
Fill a bowl with ice and water and set it aside. You may have to replenish the ice and/or water as needed.
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover the potatoes and add a teaspoon of salt.
Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to the ice water bath to stop cooking.
When potatoes are cool, remove from ice water, cut in half, and set aside.
Place eggs in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover eggs by one inch.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Let cook for 6-7 minutes until eggs are hard boiled.
Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
When eggs are cool, remove from ice water, peel, and set aside.
Add fresh water to the saucepan and bring it to a boil again.
Add the green beans and blanch till they’re bright green, about 1 minute.
Remove green beans with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop cooking.
Once green beans are cool, remove from ice water, and set aside.
Divide the lettuce equally into 4 salad bowls.
Top each with 4 potatoes cut in half, 1/4 of the green beans, 5 tomatoes cut in half, 1 egg cut into 4 wedges, 1/4 of the olives, and half a can of tuna.
Drizzle lemon-thyme dressing over each salad.
zest of 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper with a wire whisk until well combined.
Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.
Dressing will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
NOTE:We like our dressing with a touch of sweetness, but if you want the dressing to be less sweet, feel free to cut the sugar in half or omit it altogether.
I’ve had this recipe for years but hadn’t made it in a long time. One day, my daughter, Tissi, decided she wanted to make herself some quiche. She’s a veggie eater and she loves quiche so I dug up my recipe for her. The problem was when I wrote it out for her, I said it only needed one pie crust. Needless to say, she ended up with a ton of extra filling. It wasn’t until a couple of attempts later that I realized my recipe was actually for TWO pies! Poor Tis. She couldn’t figure out why the recipe wasn’t working for her. LOL! If you want to make just one pie, cut the recipe in half. Otherwise, make sure you have two pie crusts ready.
No, nobody died. So why “funeral potatoes” you ask? Well, you know how people always bring food to a wake or a funeral when someone passes away? Funeral Potatoes are one of those dishes that’s frequently brought to that somber gathering. Hence, the name. It’s basically a simple potato casserole made with frozen hash browns. There are many versions of the recipe floating around out there. This is how I make mine. It’s super easy to prepare and everyone always likes it. The best part is, it’s not just for funerals. You can serve it any time of the year. It makes a great side dish for a busy weeknight dinner with the kids. I’m actually making it for Easter Sunday brunch this year.
1 bag (28-32 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
¼ – ½ cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of potato soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (optional)
2 cups French’s crispy fried onions
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Take hash browns out of the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This makes them easier to mix.
Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until sides begin to bubble and top is golden brown.
TOPPING VARIATIONS: Toss 4 tbsp. melted butter with 1½ cups panko bread crumbs, or crushed crackers, or crushed cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.
Did you know that February 2nd is National Tater Tot Day? It’s an easy day for me to remember because it’s also my only brother’s birthday. Tater tots are an iconic American food that was created in the early 1950’s. The founders of Ore-Ida were trying to figure out what to do with all the little leftover pieces of potato that they had tons of everyday. They chopped up the potato pieces, mixed them with flour and seasonings, then forced the mixture through the barrel of an extruder, slicing off little one-inch pieces as the mixture came through. And so the tater tot was born.
Actually, when the little potato nuggets were first created, they didn’t have a name for them so the owners of Ore-Ida decided to have a name-the-product contest among their employees. The name “Tater Tots” was submitted by a young mother named Clora Lay Orton. Everyone loved the name and she won the contest.
It’s hard to believe that when the inexpensive tater tots were first sold in stores in 1956, they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of them per year! It’s safe to say the lowly tater tot has finally found its place in society, from school cafeterias to the ever popular food truck. It’s certainly found its way to our dinner table!
CHEESY BACON TATER TOTS
1 bag frozen tater tots
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
2 stalks green onions, chopped
Bake tater tots according to package directions.
While tots are baking, combine sour cream and ranch dressing in a bowl.
Drizzle sour cream mixture over baked tater tots.
Sprinkle cheeses over the top.
Place under broiler until cheese is completely melted.
Remove from broiler and top with crumbled bacon and green onions.
Return to broiler for 2-5 minutes to warm up the bacon.
I always think of my daughter, Tissi, when I make this salad. Tissi and a friend of hers were discussing vegetarianism one day and he made her a bet that she couldn’t go without eating meat for more than 2 days. Tissi decided to take him up on it and she won the bet! The funny thing is, while she was trying to be all vegetarian in order to win, she realized she didn’t miss meat at all! So after her 2 days were up, she decided to just go on eating the way she was and she became a vegetarian for real! Has been for a couple of years now. Isn’t that funny? Anyway, when I make this salad and see all the colorful rows of veggies, I always think of my Tissi. You wouldn’t miss meat either when faced with a healthy, delicious salad like this one!
That being said, the “Tex-Mex” flavor of this salad makes it a great accompaniment to barbecued meat or chicken. It’s delicious alongside a pulled pork sandwich or some tender slices of smoked beef brisket. Sometimes I add crumbled bacon to it which makes it extra yummy in my book. After all, everything is better with bacon, right? (As you might have guessed, I’m not a vegetarian.) If you’re looking for a heartier, more filling salad that could stand alone as a light lunch or brunch dish, you could toss in some chopped grilled chicken.
The dressing for this salad has very little oil which makes it less fattening than other dressings, albeit rather thin. If you want a thicker, creamier dressing, try whisking in a half cup of plain greek yogurt.
SANTA FE CHOPPED SALAD
1 large head romaine lettuce or 2 romaine hearts, washed and roughly chopped
2 small (2.25 oz.) cans sliced black olives, drained
Today was a scary day at work. I arrived at the office to be greeted with the news that our Vice President had called an impromptu “Organizational Announcement” meeting. Everyone was to report to the meeting at 9 a.m. sharp. The VP’s announcement was that they were going to be outsourcing some of our jobs and some people would be laid off at the end of this year. So sad. It’s hard to understand the business decision to cut costs by sending our work abroad, but it’s harder to accept when good, hardworking employees of long standing are laid off without a qualm. I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to keep her job but my heart breaks for my friends who don’t.
I think comfort food is called for tonight. And what could be more comforting than a yummy bowl of tomato soup? Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you’re instantly transported back to those carefree childhood days when it seemed like nothing could go wrong. This soup is delicious and very easy to make. Instead of grilled cheese sandwiches, I gave it a different touch by making Crispy Mozzarella Cubes to serve with it. Yum! Now if only the job situation at work were as easy to fix. Sigh…..
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree
1½ cups chicken broth
3 tbsp. honey
⅓ cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
In a medium pot, heat the oil.
Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until translucent.
Add the garlic and thyme, stirring until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes, broth, and honey, and stir together well.
Season with salt and pepper if desired, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove and discard thyme sprigs.
Puree soup with an immersion blender. If you want it chunky, puree only half the soup.
Stir in the cream, adjust the seasonings, and continue to cook for another minute or two.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley, if desired.
CRISPY MOZZARELLA CUBES
1 block of mozzarella cheese (size depends on how many cubes you want to make)
panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a deep frying pan on the stove.
Cut mozzarella cheese into cubes as small or large as you like. I like a good-sized cube so I cut them about 1½ inches big.
Place about 1 cup flour in a pie plate and season lightly with a little salt and pepper.
Beat 1 egg in a shallow bowl and season lightly with a little more salt and pepper.
Place about 1 cup panko bread crumbs in another pie plate.
Take a mozzarella cube and coat it first in flour, then egg, and finally bread crumbs. Repeat with remaining cubes. If you run out of flour or bread crumbs, just add more, and beat another egg if you need to.
Carefully drop each coated mozzarella cube into hot oil.
Deep fry until golden brown.
Transfer briefly to paper towel lined plate to drain.
I make these bars a lot during zucchini season. The zucchini is like a “surprise ingredient” that fools everybody. They all think it’s apple and don’t believe me when I tell them it’s zucchini. These bars are delicious, and best of all, are so easy to make. My family loves to eat them warm with a scoop of ice cream. Give them a try and see if they don’t surprise you, too.
ZUCCHINI CRUMBLE BARS
For the Filling:
8-10 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4-5 lbs.)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tbsp. cold water (this is called a slurry)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook zucchini, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring occasionally until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 15-20 minutes.
While stirring constantly, pour in slurry (cornstarch water mixture). It is important to keep stirring as the slurry will thicken the mixture very quickly.
Continue to cook and stir, 1-2 minutes more, until mixture is thick and glossy.
Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Crust:
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups cold butter, cut in cubes
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Set aside about 3 cups of the crust mixture for topping.
Press remaining crust mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
Pour zucchini mixture over crust, spreading evenly to edges.
Crumble remaining crust mixture over zucchini mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.
This is an old Bisquick recipe and is delicious served as an appetizer or for a light lunch or brunch dish. It’s easy to make and is a good way to use up extra zucchini when it’s in season. I think the addition of oregano adds a bright herby flavor to this dish but you could omit it if you like, or substitute a different herb like thyme or savory.
ZUCCHINI ONION APPETIZER SQUARES
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. dried oregano (optional)
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
1 cup Bisquick baking mix
3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (about 3 or 4)
1 small onion, chopped
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of a 9×13″ baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, parmesan cheese, oil, parsley, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and Bisquick.
Stir in the zucchini and onion.
Spread in prepared baking pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned at edges
Cut into 1¼-squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
Summer has kicked in with a vengeance! Boy is it Hot!….. with a capital H! We’ve been experiencing some triple digit days these past couple of weeks. Believe me, 108 degrees is no picnic! This kind of heat makes me think of long, tall drinks, big bowls of ice cream, and cool refreshing salads.
This salad is a play on my friend Cyndi’s winter fruit salad. I thought why not do the same thing for the summer except using fresh berries? I had some leftover shredded rotisserie chicken so I added it in for some healthy protein. The salad made a great lunch served with some of No. 1’s homemade french bread and a cool glass of crisp white wine. Mm… mm… mm…..
SUMMER BERRY AND CHICKEN SALAD WITH LEMON POPPY SEED DRESSING
⅓ cup lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
⅔ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
Combine lemon juice, sugar, onion, mustard and salt in the container of a food processor or blender; process until smooth.
With the machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream and process until thick and smooth.
Add the poppy seeds and pulse a few times to mix.
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup quartered strawberries
½ cup blueberries
½ cup pineapple tidbits (or pineapple chunks cut in half)
½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Place the lettuce, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and nuts in a large salad bowl.
I love smoked salmon. It’s delicious made with pasta or turned into a dip for crackers. But my all-time favorite way to eat smoked salmon is with bagels and cream cheese. These canapés are a take-off on the bagel and cream cheese idea. Instead of bagels, I used english cucumbers for a base. I made our family’s traditional cream cheese filling, but I substituted dill for the green onions.
If you’re wondering where to get smoked salmon, Costco carries a Norwegian brand called Foppen that is just wonderful because besides being delicious, the salmon is already thinly sliced and ready to use. The package comes with plain, peppered, and dilled slices. I cut each slice into strips and then roll each strip into a cone to make the little rosette shapes. It’s really easy and looks so pretty on your appetizer table.
SMOKED SALMON CUCUMBER CANAPÉS
1 lb. smoked salmon, very thinly sliced
2 english cucumbers
1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup mayonnaise
4 tbsps. fresh dill, chopped
½ tsp. salt
With a fork, score lines down the skin of the cucumbers. Slice scored cucumbers into rounds.
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise, dill, and salt until well combined.
Pipe a little cream cheese mixture on top of each cucumber slice.
With a sharp paring knife, cut each slice of smoked salmon into strips approximately ¾ inch wide.
Roll each strip into a rosette shape.
Top each cucumber slice with a salmon rosette.
If not serving immediately, chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.