A Blast from the Past

So many of you have joined this blog since it was begun back since 10 years ago, that I thought you might enjoy a flashback from the past, more or less the recipe that started it all! Hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as myself and many others have turned to so many times… Thanks for hanging in there my friends! Originally posted March 19, 2011

Rose and Thistle Salad Dressing

Technically, this recipe was stolen from a little restaurant in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. The restaurant is/was The Rose and Thistle.  As a special request was made, I decided to post this one early…let me know how it turns out Bev…

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup salad oil (NOT Olive)
  • crushed garlic to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • Dash Worcestershire
  • Dash pepper

Put into a blender for 1 to 2 minutes. I cheat and pout it in a shaker and shake hard.

Make it ahead as it keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. It is great on almost any salad, including spinach!

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.

Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Salt and Pepper Salmon Bites

My dilemma…do I buy a full side salmon filet or just three pieces at the fish counter? With the full side from Costco, there are thick and thin pieces, some cook faster than others.

Resolution, trim off the thinner sides of the piece, along with the tail end. Cut these into cubes or smaller slices and freeze them in a bag to make other salmon dishes not requiring small filets. The result was this recipe which makes a very nice dinner when served with some freshly steamed brussel sprouts and maybe a nice rice dish. Those pieces can also be used in a pasta dish.

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Salt and Pepper Salmon Bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2-pound skinless salmon filet
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • red pepper flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice the salmon into strips about an inch thick.

In a bowl combine the pepper, salt, five spice and cornstarch.

Add the salmon pieces and toss well making sure the salmon is well coated.

In a medium sized pan stick pan heat the oil until hot.

Gently place the salmon into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes. Turn the salmon pieces over and repeat with the other side until salmon is fully cooked.

Transfer the salmon to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Serve with rice and garnish with chopped green onions and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a bit of sour cream if you like.

Brown Sugar Carnitas

Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats”, is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three to four hours, and the result is very tender and juicy meat, which is then typically served with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans (frijoles refritos).

Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich boston butt or picnic ham cuts of pork. The 6–16 lb (3–7 kg) sections are usually cut down to a workable (6–10 lb) size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying.

The traditional way to cook carnitas is in a copper pot (or any thick-bottomed pot), which disperses the heat evenly in a process similar to confit. Lard is used to cover the dish in proportion to the amount of meat being cooked. Once the lard has melted, pork and flavorings are added (usually salt, chili, cumin, oregano or Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and crushed garlic cloves). Traditional carnitas are then made by a process of simmering the meat in the lard until tender over a very low heat. Once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. (WIKIPEDIA)

Having read that, you are probably thinking TOO MUCH WORK! Indeed, my spouse made carnitas the traditional way, complete with the copper pan we bought in Quiroga when we visited that area of Mexico. It took hours and was incredible BUT….too time consuming and messy!

One of my favorite Mexican TV cooks is Pati Jinich, who has a program on PBS and on YouTube (Pati’s Mexican Table). The following recipe is her version and done on the stovetop in a Dutch oven. It was PERFECT and a lot less onerous.

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Brown Sugar Carnitas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or oil (I used oil)
  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, fat on, cut into 3” chunks
  • 4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute.

Heat the lard in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Season the meat with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Once the lard has melted, add the meat, brown on all sides, stirring and flipping as it does, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

In the jar of a blender, pour 1 ½ cups of the milk and add the garlic, onion and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Puree until smooth. Pour over the meat and let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, drop in the bay leaves, and cover. Cook covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, flipping the chunks of meat a couple times in between.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup milk with the sugar. Pour over the carnitas, stir, and let them continue to cook, uncovered, for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and place in a bowl. Shred with a couple forks, add a couple tablespoons of the seasoned fat remaining in the casserole and toss.

This is normally eaten in  tacos with toppings like sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa, etc. As you can see we skipped the tacos/tortillas and simply plated it with some rice and green beans.

Stacked Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

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Stacked Tomato Salad with Black Olive Tapenade and Sweet Basil Dressing

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, (beefsteak, yellow, and heirloom), sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • Tapenade, recipe follows*
  • 1-pound goat cheese, thinly sliced (or use Mozzarella, but goat is better)
  • Fresh basil leaves and sprigs, for layering and for garnish

Sweet Basil Dressing, recipe follows below

Directions

Place a tomato slice on a plate and spread with some of the tapenade. Then place a slice of the goat cheese on top, add a few basil leaves, and finish with another tomato slice. You can add another layer to make Napoleon as high as you desire. Top with another small spoonful of the tapenade and then drizzle the Sweet Basil Dressing over the tomato and around the plate. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and repeat to make 4 to 6 plates. For a smaller version, use Roma tomatoes.

Tapenade (Honestly, I buy a small jar at the store…a whole lot easier)

  • 2 cups kalamata or niçoise olives, pitted
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine olives, garlic, anchovies and pine nuts in a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sweet Basil Dressing

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup pure olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (roll the leaves in a little tube shape and slice across the leaves)

Whisk together vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and then stir in the basil.

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10 Minute Canned Salmon Salad

Just in time for summer, maybe…LOL. This is not your traditional salmon salad. I prefer sockeye when I can get it, but you could use whatever you can find. It will last two days in the refrigerator. I am not a canned tuna fan but you could try it…

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10 Minute Canned Salmon Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 package (10 oz) carrot matchsticks* (I used two whole carrots julienned)
  • 3 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 oz jar capers, drained**
  • 2 cans (8 oz each) wild salmon
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 large avocados, diced

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, add carrots, bell peppers and capers. Mash salmon a bit with a fork inside the can and add to the salad.

Add parsley, salt, pepper, mayo, Greek yogurt and gently toss to coat. Add avocado and give a few more stirs. Serve cold.

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Notes

*A few cups of coarsely shredded carrots would work. **Use any pickled goodies like asparagus, beans, olives etc.

Steak Bites with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

Got the urge to BBQ already and realize that the BBQ is probably dirty from its last use, who knows when in this weather? Treat yourself to this recipe from The Spicy Apron (Pinterest).  While it calls for putting the steak on skewers, I modified it and used my frying pan.  With the blue cheese sauce, it was awesome! Throw a salad or bake a potato and you have a complete easy meal! Photo is from The Spicy Apron, since I forgot to take a photo when I made this.

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Steak Bites with Creamy Blue Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 Pounds Sirloin Cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt Can use Seasoned Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Pepper
  • 4 Ounces Cream Cheese Room Temperature
  • 4 Ounces Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Ounces Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 2 green onions Sliced crosswise (green parts)

Instructions

  1. Put 6-8 pieces of the beef on each skewer. Liberally salt and pepper all sides of the meat. Heat grill on high. Place skewers on hot grill and sear on each side, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and cover with foil. OR…
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and place the steak bites in until slightly golden, choosing how well you want them done. Well…definitely NOT!
  3. Combine cream cheese, cream, and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over medium low heat until heated through. Stir well to combine. Remove from heat and add crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle over cooked beef skewers or in a small dish on the side for dipping. Top with sliced green onions.

Cucumber and Mango Salad

Our Canadian friends who are “snowbirds” recently had us over for lunch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. She served a wonderful cucumber and mango salad, not unlike this recipe. She and her husband love to experiment in the kitchen with whatever ingredients they have on hand. The cucumber and mango salad was wonderful!! We ate it all and this sent me looking through Pinterest for a similar recipe. Hope you will be able to give this one a try…

Cucumber Mango Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 c.)
  • 2 mangos peeled and diced
  • 1/2 c. diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 3 Tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/16 tsp. red pepper (more if you like it spicier)
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Toss together the cucumber, mango, red onion, and garlic in a medium sized bowl,
  2. In a separate small bowl or jar whisk together the lime juice, honey, cumin, red pepper, coriander, and black pepper. Pour over the cucumber-mango mixture and stir gently.
  3. Fold in the chopped cilantro.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later

Roasted Summer Squash with Sweet Peppers and Onions

 You are probably wondering why I am using summer squash now that it is Fall. Well, the truth is that northern type squash, which I love, are not normally available in Yucatan. What is “normal” are patty pan squash which are quite small but are available most of the year here. Recently I found a package of these so-called summer squash at a local grocery chain. So, here goes…

Roasted Summer Squash with Sweet Peppers and Onion

This recipe can be easily doubled, using 2 baking sheets and rotating the pans to allow for even cooking. And, yes, we eat the rinds, since there are lots of nutrients..

  • 1 large yellow squash  or smaller summer squash [about 2 cups] unpeeled
  • 1 large zucchini squash [about 2 cups] unpeeled
  • 1 medium purple onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet orange pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 3/4-1 tsp garlic salt
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a baking sheet liberally with cooking spray.
  2. Cut the yellow squash and zucchini into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
  3. Thinly slice the onion and cut the peppers into strips.
  4. Place all of the veggies into a medium size mixing bowl.
  5. Drizzle the veggies add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle with the seasonings, add 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, 3/4-1 teaspoon of garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well.
  7. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Stir. In the first 20 minutes, the vegetables will release a lot of moisture.
  9. Bake for another 15 minutes, then stir again.
  10. Increase the oven temperature to 475°F and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until golden.

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