Thai Cucumber Salad

Great anyday salad, but perfect for a day of NO COOKING, like Saturday or Sunday! And you know we enjoy Thai food whenever we get to our favourite restaurant in nearby Baca. It is a quick and easy salad that even the kids could make if you supervise their cutting! Personally, I used my mandoline.

This salad tasted so good even with regular cucumbers (seeds and all) and I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to get a real picture before it was GONE!

I replaced the red chile pepper with a bit of finely diced red pepper but still used the red pepper flakes for a little heat.

Thai Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 red Thai chile pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 large cucumber, spiralized or sliced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1. Combine rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and red Thai chile pepper in a small bowl. Mix well.

2. In another small bowl, combine cucumber, shallots and red pepper flakes. Mix well.

3. Pour liquid mixture over cucumber mixture. Toss until cucumbers are coated well. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Another hot day in Yucatan and time for a cold dinner of salads. Previously I shared 10 Minute Canned Salmon Salad (May 31,2020) and also Chilled Asparagus Salad (last week). Here I am adding an easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad with garnishes of jicama, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and black olives. The “noodles” are actually rice vermicelli which is readily available in most grocery stores where pasta or Asian foods are displayed. It made a great looking salad bowl! (I took this photo before I added the tomatoes) LOL.

The “salads” can easily be made ahead and assembled as shown when lunch or dinner calls.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces thin Asian vermicelli noodles
  • 2 carrots shredded
  • 2 cucumbers seeded and shredded
  • 4 green onion chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts OPTIONAL
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro OPTIONAL
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Lime

1. Soften the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl by covering with boiling water and soaking for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Rinse under cold water, drain, and add to a large bowl. Add the shredded carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts and chopped cilantro to the noodles.

2. In a glass jar fitted with a lid or a bowl, mix together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and crushed red pepper. Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the noodles and toss to coat. Add more dressing if desired. Sprinkle with more cilantro and green onion and a squeeze of lime if desired. Salad can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight, however if making ahead, add the cilantro just before serving.

Chilled Asparagus with Citrus Dressing

For a great summer lunch try this chilled asparagus with some salmon poached in wine. I usually do the salmon with cold green beans (blanched), but not having found any at Costco, I went for using asparagus, which I believe you northerners are seeing IN SEASON. We started the meal with a cold strawberry soup ( which is somewhere on this blog if you do a search). The great thing about this meal is that you can easily prepare it all in the morning and just plate it up when company arrives.

Chilled Asparagus with Citrus Dressing

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-pound asparagus, woody ends cut off
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Juice of an orange
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Add in the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Immediately remove the asparagus from the boiling water and place it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

4. Once the asparagus has cooled remove it from the water, blot it dry with a towel, and place it in a large bowl.

5. In a glass measuring cup combine the remaining ingredients (everything from zest down to pepper) and whisk together to form the citrus vinaigrette.

6. Pour the desired amount of vinaigrette over the asparagus and toss to coat.

7. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, then top with a little more salt and pepper.

Romaine “Wedge” Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

You will have noted that I put the word “wedge” in brackets. Actually I dislike it when I see romain served in wedges. It’s difficult to eat without a fork AND knife. I much prefer to have the romaine torn into smaller parts before it is served. This is true of some restaurant Caesar salads as well. Without a doubt, the highlight of this salad is the ranch dressing, which you can use on almost any salad OR as a simple veggie dip. Of course, you can skip the blue cheese, but why would you? LOL

Romaine Wedge Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Homemade Ranch Dressing*
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 slices sourdough bread cut into ½-inch cube (I did some store-bought croutons in butter and garlic powder)
  • 4 slices thick bacon cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce quartered lengthwise into wedges
  • 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • finely chopped chives optional

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sourdough cubes; cook and stir until cubes are lightly browned on all sides. Remove from skillet and reserve.

2. Add bacon to same skillet; cook and stir until bacon is crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel to drain.

3. Carefully rinse and dry romaine wedges, doing your best to keep them intact. OR tear them up

4. Arrange romaine wedges on a platter. Drizzle desired amount of dressing on salad and sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Serve.

*Homemade Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup chives finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
  • milk enough to reach your desired consistency (optional)

Instructions

Whisk together the sour cream, garlic, parsley and chives. Add milk to reach your desired consistency.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy as a salad dressing or a vegetable dip.

Zucchini Noodle Pesto for Two

My spouse bought three medium sized zucchini at the grocery store with which I made this wonderful pesto dish. Meatless! Unlike most pesto dishes, this one I made with no pesto sauce, as you will see below. It was all his idea and turned out perfectly!

Zucchini Noodle ‘Pesto” for Two

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchinis (ends trimmed) unpeeled
  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 T. cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese+
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Use a spiralizer to make strands of zucchini noodles(zoodles). I chose the thinner setting.
  2. Shred the basil leaves by rolling them together like a cigar and slicing across the roll. This is called chiffonading.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan until slightly brown and remove from heat.
  4. Sauté the zucchini noodles in 1 tablespoon of cooking olive oil in a wok or deep frying pan for two minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the fresh basil leaves to the noodles and stir to mix well.
  6. Add pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Salt and pepper to preference.
  7. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the noodles and serve.
  8. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Garnish with more basil leaves.

Greek Salad and Dressing for Two

Tired of the same old green salads? No lettuce in the house? Greek salad is the answer – minus lettuce, which is not even normally found in a true Greek salad.

Start with a freshmade dressing, refrigerated while you chop up the salad ingredientes. This is one of our new favorites, for sure! And it looks beautiful as well.

You won’t find a better Greek salad anywhere…

Greek Salad and Dressing for Two

Ingredients

  • 1 large clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Measure all ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well-blended and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

(Alternatively, you may whisk the ingredients together in a bowl, process the ingredients in a mini food processor, or blend them together in a blender.) Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator; allow to come to room temperature and shake well before using.

Greek Salad

  • 1 Roma tomato diced
  • ¼ red onion diced
  • ½ English seedless cucumber large dice
  • ½ red pepper diced
  • ½ cup whole black olives
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Mix all salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss with dressing and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Muffin Tin Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

My spouse’s mother always made him pineapple upside down cake for his birthday when he was young. Waking up early on his birthday, I decided that was what I would make him also. I had previously found a recipe and purchased all of the ingredients. It doesn’t get much easier than this recipe! PS…It would be great for Easter Sunday!!!

Muffin Tin Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Ingredients…

  • 1/4 C Butter
  • 1 C Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Can (20 Oz) Pineapple slices in juice, drained, reserve juice
  • 1 Jar (6 oz) Maraschino cherries without stems – drained
  • 1 Box Betty Crocker Supermoist yellow cake mix
    • oil and eggs called for on box –

1 – Preheat oven – 350 degrees.  In a 13 x 9 x2 pan, melt butter in oven.  Here is where I made a change – I sprayed the pan first with PAM – just a precaution I wanted to take.  Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter.  Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar.  Place cherries in centers and around the slices – press gently into the sugar/butter.

2 – Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to make 1 cup.  Make cake batter as directed on box, substituting pineapple juice mixture for the water.  Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.

3 – Bake about 40 or so minutes – or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Immediately run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen cake.  I let mine sit in the pan for about 10 minutes then turned it out onto a serving platter leaving the pan on top for an additional 15 to 20 minutes… This lets the brown sugar drizzle over the cake – remove pan.  Cool for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm or cool.  Store covered in the refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

Normally, when I do sausage and peppers, it is in the oven. Since I had time this week I found a slow cooker/crockpot recipe on Pinterest for this method. Come to find out, I liked it much better without having to use the oven. The texture of the sausage was so very different and the peppers were great. Served this with a little side of steamed broccoli. Perfect dish!

FYI…the sausages I prefer are Obertal Argentinian Chorizos, but that is your choice.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg Italian sausages (5) My preference is Obertal Argentinian Chorizo
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup chunky marinara sauce I substituted a small jar of PACE Medium Salsa
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.

2. Sear the Italian sausages 2-3 mins on each side until starting to brown. You aren’t trying to cook them all the way through, you’re just browning the outside a bit which always increases the flavor while slow cooking.

3. Lay the seared Italian sausages in the bottom of a slow cooker/crockpot.

4. Add the uncooked sliced onions and peppers on top of the sausages.

5. Sprinkle the garlic salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning over the top.

6. Spread the marinara sauce or PACE salsa over the onion and pepper mixture.

7. Cook the crock pot sausage and peppers recipe on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours until the peppers are soft and the Italian sausage is cook through. FYI…mine was done at 4 hours on low!

8. The crockpot Italian sausage and peppers are seriously SO delicious as is, but to take it up a notch, take the sausage and peppers out of the slow cooker and spread into a broiler-safe pan and follow the cheese steps in the optional section.

Optional – Add Cheese

1. Sprinkle 1/2 – 3/4 cups of your favorite shredded white cheese, like mozzarella, Monterey Jack, an Italian blend, or Colby Jack would all be great choices.

2. Broil the Italian sausage and peppers mix for 1-2 minutes 4″ from the heat source until the cheese is melted.

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

With a package of frozen meatballs in the freezer, a jar of marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella and rotini pasta in the pantry, this recipe was so easy to throw together. Best part You dont need to precook the pasta!!!

Just make sure those meatballs are thawed before you start the recipe…

Hidden meatballs…

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

Total Time 55 minutes         Servings 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 (24 or 25 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (14 ounce) package fully-cooked miniature (cocktail-size) meatballs (if using frozen meatballs, make sure that they are completely thawed before using)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, and meatballs. Season with salt to taste; stir. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.

3. Uncover; stir. At this point you should check the pasta to make sure that it is al dente (firm but just about finished cooking). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente. Then move on to the next step.

4. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).

Hungarian Goulash

In 2010, we had a great trip to Europe, where we experienced food in several countries. It was in Budapest where we had a wonderful goulash at Paprika Vendeglo restaurant. We had previously been in Prague where we had tasted Czech goulash. Both of us preferred the former for its wonderful goulash, pictured here – served in a small bowl over an open flame with noodles.

Thankfully for Pinterest, I was able to make a tasty Hungarian Goulash recipe which I attempted this week. It brought back memories, sans the noodles/dumplings.

Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ pound stewing beef trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 cups beef broth or water
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes canned
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cup carrot diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, diced

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add onion. Cook till translucent. Stir in caraway seeds and paprika and mix well.

2. In a bowl, dredge the stew beef with flour. Add beef to the onion mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Slowly add about ¼ cup of the beef broth to lift the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Then add remaining broth, diced tomatoes (potatoes and carrots if using), salt and pepper.

4. Stir and bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer for about 1 ½ -2 hours or until tender. Stir

Serve with noodles or dumplings or just plain as I did.