Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summertime Salad

Summertime Salads are one of my favorite things! And it seems that this summer has been so stinkin' hot that I hate putting any additional heat in the house, so this recipe is one of my favorites, not only is it tasty, but it requires very little effort or time!

Straight from Betty Crocker, here is a delicious light salad that you have to try! The dressing is fantastic and the ramen noodles give it the perfect crunch! I always try to keep cooked chicken in the house just for things like this, so I give it a quick chop and voila! This makes the perfect amount for our family, or it would be great for a pot luck. Enjoy!

5 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 package (3 oz) Oriental-flavor ramen noodle soup mix
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1 can (11 oz) Green Giant® Niblets® white shoepeg corn, drained
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2 medium green onions, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts (I usually omit this)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon grated gingerroot (I sometimes use ground ginger)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
  1. In bottom of large (3-quart) clear glass serving bowl, arrange lettuce. Discard seasoning packet from soup mix; coarsely crush noodles. Layer noodles and remaining salad ingredients, in order listed, over lettuce.
  2. In small jar with tight-fitting lid, shake dressing ingredients until well blended. Pour over salad. Serve immediately. (I like to whisk my ingredients together in a bowl instead of shaking, but it's just a personal preference)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grilled Peaches, yes I said Grilled Peaches!!!

There is nothing quite like livin' in the south! If you've ever driven through Georgia about this time of the year, anywhere along Hwy 319, you'll find some of the juiciest locally grown peaches! A sweet lady that attended church with us gave me peaches one year that were so delicious and sweet. I'll never forget her or those peaches. It's one of my favorite fruits and is so versatile and if you are lucky enough to live in a good growing area, you should stock up to use this flavorful fruit.

Peaches are very firm so they can withstand many different types of preparation. Grilling is one of the most delicious and probably not often thought of, methods of preparing this simple dessert.

Grilled Peaches

Wash, core and slice your peaches in half.
brush with just a dab of oil and sprinkle with some brown sugar, then grill skin side down first and then flip. It should only grill for about a minute.

Praline Sauce
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons Light corn syrup
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine the sugars, buttermilk, butter, syrup, and baking soda in a heavy saucepan. Bring to the boiling point, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and nuts. Cool completely before serving. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

If you don't have buttermilk (which I don't usually keep on hand), you can use milk and add just a little vinegar.

Cream Cheese filling:
1 pkg (8 ounces) cream cheese softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup milk

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Spoon into the center of grilled peaches.
Drizzle praline sauce over the cheese filling and Yum! There's a fabulous dessert that's a great compliment for any grilled entree.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red, White, and Chocolate

I LOVE celebrating Independence Day! Summertime Fireworks make me so happy! The last 2 nights have been popping and cracking with evening fireworks. We are fortunate to see them from our 3rd story windows, but tonight we are headed to the waterside to see a grand illumination!!! The city spares no cost when it comes to pyrotechnic displays, lemmetellya. It's serious!

Typically, we celebrate with quiet time at home! Maybe a trip to the beach, maybe a visit to the "Great American Picnic" in Town Point Park to listen to the Fleet Jazz Ensemble. It's humbling to live in such a large military community. Norfolk is home to the largest Naval Base in the Country, making our city a great melting pot full of culture and diversity. Hampton Roads and the Tidewater area is also home to Army & Air Force Bases, the US Coast Guard, NOAA, the list continues.

Grateful to be able to celebrate this wonderful summertime holiday, we enjoyed a simple late afternoon picnic for our family.

Baked Steak Burgers
Garden Pasta Salad
Fresh Buttery Corn on the Cob
Watermelon Kabobs
Red, White, and Chocolate Cupcakes

Here are a few of my tips for a great summer picnic!
Pre-made patties are a great time saver! I just add some Montreal Steak seasoning to the tops of the burgers and broil on a rack, so the fat drips onto a foil covered pan.
Boxed pasta salad is great. Instead of using the seasoning mix, use a bottle of light italian dressing. Chop fresh veggies, like cucumbers, tomato, and red onion. Toss with your pasta and voila!

Watermelon is one of my favorite summer fruits! We have a hard time eating a whole watermelon by ourselves. Unless you feel like sharing some with your neighbors a you can keep it fresh it by making frozen fruit kabobs.
(This week I found several pounds of fresh fruit on sale! Peaches, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, oranges, apples, bananas. I used the fresh peaches, grapes, strawberries and watermelon sliced into thick chunks and skewered them. Wrap them in foil and freeze. This is a great way for the girls to have a cold treat on a hot day this week and it's healthy! Another way to enjoy these kabobs is with a cup of cold vanilla yogurt.)
These red, white, and chocolate cupcakes are a real treat! I make the basic homemade chocolate cake mix in cupcake form.
Store bought frosting can save some time. A way to jazz it up a little is to add 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tsp of another extract such as almond or rum. Mix it together in a bowl and top your cupcakes. Use sprinkles to decorate. Another way to decorate is with edible glitter and cocoa powder. I chose to use a little bit of hot chocolate mix instead of cocoa. What a great way to use what you have on hand!!
I hope you enjoy celebrating your freedom and the love of this country! Happy 4th of July America!