Summer Bolognese

I call this summer bolognese because it’s lighter than my regular bolognese recipe . It’s made with fresh tomatoes which makes all the difference. I made this sauce the other night and I have to say it was just perfect . It cooked up in no time ( about 1/2 hour) and tasted fresh and delicious. Of course if you would like it vegetarian just omit the chicken. I wanted the protein so added a pound of ground chicken you can also use turkey and if you want ground beef. This time I kept it fairly light and used ground chicken. Used a thick ropy pasta — Bucatini and it was perfection on a plate made with fresh tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves– minced– I use a mini food processor always for mincing garlic — just makes it easy

1 lb. ground chicken, turkey or beef

Kosher Salt to taste

1/4 cup dry white wine

4 Tbsp. tomato paste if you use double concentrate use 2

1 lb. cherry tomatoes ( which are abundant and fresh right now)

12 oz. Bucatini or any spaghtetti you like or rigatoni or penne would work here as well

about 1 cup of Pasta Water — which you may or not need

Finely Grated Parmesan for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet or pot heat oil then add garlic and cook till softened ( a few minutes) don’t brown it just soften it — sometimes you’ll need to turn off stove and let it just cook for a couple of minutes to soften.

With pan at medium high add chicken and cook, breaking up chicken for about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and fully cooked.

Add wine and reduce heat to medium low. Continue breaking up meat till it’s small pieces until wine is evaporated– another 5 minutes or so. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring till absorbed into chicken and cook for another few minutes.

Add tomatoes and let it cook down, stir to coat the tomatoes with the mixture — allow the tomatoes to cook till they are ready to burst — about 5 minutes. I used a masher ( see photo) and I smashed down on the tomatoes and burst all of them. You can leave some whole if you like but I didn’t because this is where the sauce will come from. Stir occasionally on medium low but don’t allow to burn. Allow sauce to thicken for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until very al dente ( at least that’s how we like it)

Reserve about 1 cup of cooked pasta water because you may need it if sauce is too thick.

Taste sauce for salt and add accordingly. I probably added a teaspoon of Kosher Salt — everyone’s taste is different for salt so add to your liking.

Drain pasta and I used tongs and transferred pasta to pan with sauce. Tossing it in and cooking at a low simmer the pasta and the sauce thickened and I added a little pasta water at a time till I reached a perfect consistency . I probably used about 1/2 cup of pasta water. ( which also contains salt so consider this and don’t over-salt sauce — you can always add salt but it’s tough to take away if you make it too salty. The sauce was creamy and delicious .

Remove from heat and if you’d like add fresh basil.

Transfer to pasta bowls and top with Parmesan.

Salmon with Peanut-Butter Glaze and String Beans

I saw this recipe in the NYT Cooking and knew I had to make it — I mean almost anything with peanut butter has my name on it. I was a little skeptical but the flavor was Thai like and the lemon juice cuts the peanut butter perfectly. Very easy recipe and very quick to prep and cook. It’s sweet and savory and you can make the glaze a day ahead and just bring it to room temperature first. We enjoyed this very much and the beans were perfect! Perfect weeknight meal.

I served over Jasmine Rice.

thanks @nytimes.com/recipes and Kay Chun for this delicious recipe.

recipe should serve 4

Ingredients:

1 pound green beans, trimmed

1 bunch scallions ( about 6) halved lengthwise then cut crosswise into thirds

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

3 Tablespoons neutral oil, I used Canola — 2 for the beans and 1 for the salmon

Kosher Salt and Coarse Black Pepper

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter , I use good old Skippy but you can use natural as well

2 Tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce ( which I always use)

1 Tablespoon minced ginger — I used fresh peeled ginger and minced it in mini food processor

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

4 center cut salmon fillets

*1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts — I did it for the crunch but totally optional

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

I put beans, scallions, garlic and 2 Tablespoons of Canola Oil in a large bowl , tossed well and added kosher salt and pepper to taste

Then I spread on a large rimmed baking sheet that I sprayed with Pam Cooking Spray. Spread Beans and scallions in an even layer.

Prepare the peanut butter glaze:

In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon water. Whisk until smooth.

Rub salmon with 1 Tablespoon of Canola Oil and season with a little kosher salt.

Arrange Salmon on top of beans and spoon peanut butter glaze on top of the fish. Roast until salmon is cooked to medium and beans are crisp-tender. App. 5- 7 minutes depending on the thickness of your salmon. I probably didn’t use all of the glaze.

Cook rice if you’re using. I used Jasmine Rice.

Divide salmon and beans over the rice. Top with peanuts an serve with lemon wedges.

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce –Perfect Summer Pasta

FullSizeRenderThis is one of my old tried and true recipes and also one of our family’s all time favorites.  Perfect for a large get together and totally tasty. There are a lot of ingredients but it is very easy to put together and it’s always a hit! I made the sauce a day ahead which I highly recommend doing, it gives flavors a chance to really come together.  I had all the ingredients in the house and day of I will cook the noodles and mix together. If making sauce ahead of time — take it out of refrigerator and let the sauce sit at room temperature before mixing with noodles. I used 1 teaspoon of cayenne, but because I wasn’t sure of everyone’s taste buds for hot and spicy I left out the chili oil. If you want it spicier you can always add some hot chili oil, or more cayenne pepper.  You can actually make the sauce a few days ahead of time. Enjoy this oldie but goodie. I have played around with the recipe a lot, and have found these ingredients work the best for me. I also like to put a little fresh cilantro on the side for those who love it ( like me) and don’t leave out the chopped peanuts they give it that extra yummy crunch. Enjoy! Excellent addition to any Father’s Day or BBQ.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!

Ingredients: 

1 lb. linguine or spaghetti ( or you can use Chinese egg noodles)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

7 tablespoons Peanut Butter ( creamy ) by the way I always use the low-fat one, it’s perfectly fine

2/3 cup warm water

6 tablespoons soy sauce ( use low sodium)

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more to specific taste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic

3 to 4 scallions , finely chopped

*1 sliced cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned (optional) but tasty and crunchy

*fresh cilantro chopped (optional)

*sprinkle of chopped peanuts ( optional) but extra added crunch if you have them on hand

*dash of hot chili oil ( to taste) I usually just throw in a dash of this.

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, using a fork or a small wire whisk, beat the peanut butter together with the water until it is smooth. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, sugar, and salt. Beat till smooth. If you’re adding hot chili oil this is when you would add that.

Add the chopped garlic, and stir well. Because I was using it the next day, I left out scallions till I cooked pasta .

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water, until noodles are cooled down sufficiently. Place noodles in a large bowl, drizzle with the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and toss well. Refrigerate noodles until you are ready to serve. About an hour or so before I am ready to serve, I pour sauce over noodles and mix well. Make sure sauce has been left out at room temperature for a while till it’s not too cold.  Add the scallions and cucumbers and mix well. Right before serving you can sprinkle the cilantro and chopped peanuts if you like. I pour about 2/3 of the sauce over noodles and mix well, adding more sauce as I feel necessary. I definitely didn’t use all of the sauce that I made, add slowly and taste as you go along.  Right before serving I usually add some more sauce, but leave it out at room temperature. This is a deadly go to leftover the next day.

Pan roasted chicken with herb tomatoes

I love to use fresh tomatoes and herbs in my cooking, they are sweet and the roasting just intensifies their sweet flavor. I try to use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and during the summer there is so much to choose from. This is a light dish cooked in the oven, I used dry Herbes de Provence which is something everyone should have in their spice drawer. I used fresh tarragon which gave this dish amazing flavor, if you’re not into the tarragon flavor or just can’t get it I am sure fresh basil will work here just fine. I served over jasmine rice. This is a keeper for sure. I got it from Bon Appetit magazine which has a treasure trove of delicious recipes.

*for just the two of us I cut the tomatoes to 1 lb. and the chicken to 1 lb.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb.-2 lb. cherry tomatoes or any small tomatoes

6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 Tbsp. herbes de Provence

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 -2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 small shallot, minced

2 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar

3 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 Tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. oil and herbes de Provence in a large bowl. Season with some salt and pepper, toss to coat the tomatoes. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet , carefully add tomatoes to pan, oil may splatter. Transfer skillet to oven and roast tomatoes, give tomatoes a turn in about 10 minutes, you want tomatoes to burst and release some of their juices, total time should be 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl and drizzle with Worcestershire sauce.

Meanwhile, season chicken with app. 1 tsp. kosher salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Sear chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer pan to oven and roast chicken until cooked through, another 10 minutes or so. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest .

Add remaining 1 tbsp. oil to same skillet, heat over medium heart. Add shallot and cook, stirring often , until softened , about 3 minutes. Deglaze pan with vinegar ( just put in vinegar) scraping up whatever browned bits are in the bottom of the pan, then add tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer , sauce will begin to thicken up, about 2 minutes or so. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper to your liking.

Slice chicken, divide among plates. Spoon tomatoes and sauce over, garnish with fresh herbs ( tarragon and parsley) . I served over rice (any kind you like) but it will stand on it’s own. Roasted Potatoes would also work well here.

Cucumber Avocado Salad

Light and easy — Cucumbers and Avocado Salad with a light lime dressing. This side salad will disappear very quickly and you’ll be wanting more.

I made it without the green onion so feel free to add it or not it was just as yummy without. Just happen to have avocado and cucumber in the house but next time I will make sure to add a little green onion!

Ingredients:

2 English Cucumbers — I scoop out seeds and cut into 1/2 moon slices– Slice Cuke in 1/2 — scoop out seeds and slice or any cucumbers you like I just like to take out seeds and cut smaller cukes into smaller pieces — it really doesn’t matter how you slice them up– if I use kirby type cucumbers (as pictured) I cut into smaller pieces — totally up to you– it’s all good

1 large avocado pitted, peeled and cut into chunks or slices whichever you prefer

*1/3 cup green onion , chopped

2 Tbsp. Lime Juice from 1 medium lime

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

In a medium sized salad type bowl, combine sliced cucumbers , avocado and if you’re adding green onions.

Drizzle with lime juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. I sliced cucumbers and dressing earlier than right before I served it added the avocado so it wouldn’t brown. The lime juice should prevent it from turning brown though.

That’s it and very delicious side salad .

Old Fashioned Lemon Icebox Cake–No Baking at all

IMG_1266

Nothing not to love here, Lemons, cream cheese, heavy cream, lemon curd and did I mention no baking??? So great and fairly easy with simple ingredients. You’ll need either an electric mixer or a hand mixer to whip cream. Nothing beats an electric mixer though with the whisking attachment.

I made it in a 9×13 pan but I think next time I will try to do it in a bowl. It would also be beautiful garnished with fresh lemon slices or berries. We were in a hurry to dig into it so never did get to garnish it.  If you’d like it to look neater when you scoop it out you will have to be more precise with the layering. My cake was very uneven and all the layers and flavors blended together, who cares? it was delicious. If you’d like you can also layer in a trifle type bowl and make a very pretty presentation! Up to you but it was all delish.

This is simple and delicious food if not very rich, but hey it’s dessert! Perfect for a Labor Day BBQ or anytime!

Enjoy Labor Day Weekend even if it’s a little strange this year.

Visit me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (just leave it out at room temperature for a while till it’s room temperature and feels squishy and soft)

3 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

3 teaspoons lemon zest, plus a little more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

11 ounces vanilla wafer cookies ( app. 1 1/2 boxes)

10 ounces lemon curd–usually available with the jams and jellies  or baking aisle of most supermarkets. (see photo)

Directions:

Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft. Add the heavy cream, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until it just holds stiff peaks. It takes app. 3-6 minutes for peaks to form, be patient.

Spread the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. Arrange 1/2 of the cookies on top of the cream, fitting in as many as you can without overlapping.(see photos) Spoon 1/2 of the remaining cream mixture on top and smooth evenly with an offset spatula or if no offset spatula use a butter knife. In spoonfuls , app. every 2 inches, spoon half of the lemon curd onto the cream and then use a butter knife to swirl the curd into the cream. Top with another layer of cookies, followed by the remaining cream. Spoon  the remaining lemon curd and swirl into the cream again with the butter knife. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cookies have softened, it should be fine after at least 3 hours and you can make a day ahead and just leave in the fridge!

It would be pretty garnished with some lemon zest , some lemon slices or fresh berries, we were in a rush to eat it so no garnish in my photos. Next time!

*if you use a bowl you’ll just have to figure out the cream to cookie ratio but make sure you follow my steps so it ends up the same.

*another good thing–I actually froze leftovers and when I wanted to eat it , I removed from freezer for about an hour and it was perfect.

Fresh Basil Pesto

photo 2 (6)

Chicken and Pesto on the Grill

photo 2 (8)

Pasta Pesto

The original recipe for this delicious pesto appeared back in May 2011 on Cooking with Candi and this pesto sauce has summer written all over it. Basil is abundant in the summer and it’s great on pasta as well as chicken. Yummy Pesto was the original title for this recipe way back in 2011.  This is the same recipe from my BFF Suki. I have tried many pesto sauces and this remains my absolute go to favorite. It is super easy and while the basil is abundant you should make it and freeze it. When you freeze the pesto in a container, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top . I have it frozen for up to 3 months. I use it on chicken, pasta, and it’s wonderful as a spread. This recipe is good for 2 lbs. of pasta usually. So I use 1/2 and freeze the rest if it’s just the 2 of us.

Enjoy!

Pesto Chicken on the Grill with Grilled Peppers and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

DSCN3588

Fresh Basil

If you are going to use on chicken , just brush on the chicken sprinkle a tiny bit of  kosher salt on it and  let it marinate for a few hours at least and it can be marinated  overnight in the refrigerator. Take it out of fridge and let it sit at room temp. before putting on the grill. That’s it!

*You’ll need a food processor

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil (washed)

1/2 cup romano cheese (grated)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese ( grated)

1/2 cup pignolli nuts or walnuts

1 cup extra virgin olive oil–use a good one

1 – 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (it’s good if the butter is softened before adding) you can soften in microwave

4 cloves garlic – peeled and whole

freshly ground black pepper–to taste

*kosher salt to taste if you feel you need it after finished making pesto

Directions:

I put all ingredients except for olive oil in the food processor. Give it a few grinds using the blade attachment. Then I slowly add in the olive oil through the top of processor while it’s on. Beautiful green pesto! so easy. Taste for salt and pepper

Cook pasta and drain and add pesto. Done!

Basic Corn Salad

It’s Summer (well almost)  and the living is easy –and the corn is delicious.  There are times I buy fresh corn but don’t feel like serving it on the cob even though it is perfectly delicious this way. This corn salad is a suggestion for you as a side dish with very little ingredients and pretty much all corn. I like to serve as a side dish in the summer because it can be made ahead and served at room temperature. It’s a most perfect side dish. It doesn’t get more basic or easier than this recipe.  My absolute go-to summer side dish. Super Easy.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and keep on Cooking with Candi.

Ingredients:

5-6 ears of corn , shucked

1/2 cup small diced red onion

3 Tablespoons cider vinegar

3 Tablespoons good olive oil

1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt – you can always add more salt after you finish and taste for salt

1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper the same applies for the pepper as for the salt

app. 1/2 cup cut up fresh basil leaves–use as much or as little as you like –it adds wonderful flavor

*add a few small cut up grape tomatoes for another variety on this

Directions:

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn for app. 3 minutes (just to let go of the starchiness) Drain and immerse in ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. When the corn cools down , cut the kernels off the cob , cutting close to the cob to get the whole kernel. I use a bundt pan to catch all the kernels.

Toss the corn kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

How simple and easy is this?IMG_5739

Green Goddess Salad

I first came upon this recipe from Melissa Benishay on Instagram . It is simple , delicious and nutritious. I make it my way which means I pretty much follow her recipe but add chicken, chopped bacon (sometimes), feta, scallions and cucumbers. I also will add chopped up jalapeños for a spicy kick and avocado would be perfect as well. You can make this completely vegan of course but I just like to zuzh it up a bit. Add whatever you like and make it your way. Enjoy!

The ingredients are interesting and you may need to buy a few of these items. For the dressing

Lemons — which give it the fresh taste and the acid it requires

Olive Oil– for the good Fat

Rice Vinegar– a bit of sweet flavor and tang

Shallot– for the sweeter onion flavor

Garlic– because it’s garlic– need I say more

Basil–for that pesto like consistency and flavor

Spinach– for extra nutrients and a lot of green color and don’t tell my hub

Nutritional Yeast– I know I know why???? Because it adds cheesy like consistency and B12 vitamins –it’s kind of like powdered cheese and full of flavor but vegan and has now become a shelf staple in my house for vegan cheese sauces, vegan dips, soups, scrambles, stews and you get the drill.It’s super nutritious and full of protein, B Vitamins, and anti-oxidents.

Walnuts– a nutty base

Salt– to pull it all together and highlight all the layers of flavors and way to bland with no salt

*you’ll need a blender for this one

You can make the dressing ahead like I do in the morning or the day before and it will keep in the fridge for 2-3 maybe 4 days.

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

2 largish cloves of garlic

1 smallish shallot

1/3 cup chives

1/4 cup walnuts, cashews, or nut of your choice — I always have chopped walnuts so that’s my nut of choice

1 cup fresh torn Basil Leaves

1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast– I got mine at Trader Joes but you can get this in almost any supermarket

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

For the Salad:

I like 1 head ofIceberg Lettuce chopped up and finely diced or you can use a head of green cabbage

3-4 mini cucumbers finely diced–optional see above paragraph on ingredients

1/4 cup chives, finely diced — also optional I used green onions/scallions tonight — use what you have even red onion diced is fine

1 bundle green onions / scallions

Directions:

Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl once they’re chopped up

Add all liquid dressing ingredients to a blender give it a whirl, and then add dry dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.

Yummmmmmmm and Thank You to Melissa Benishay or Baked by Melissa as most of you know

Avocado Salad with Corn and Tomatoes –Fresh and Delicious

DSCN0190 DSCN0195 DSCN0194 DSCN0199It’ s June so let’s break out all the delicious summer food. This is a most perfect summer salad and it is a vegetarian delight . It is totally vegan. I am not a vegan but totally love this salad with all it’s fresh flavors . I had 2 beautiful ripe avocados on hand and all the ingredients for this yummy salad.  I had some fresh corn so I just brought the water to a boil threw it in and when it turned yellow took it out and threw it in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.   Of course I love  jalapenos , use your own discretion and this would be amazing without as well but it was kick ass with them.  You can make the salad ahead and let juices meld but don’t add the avocados till you’re ready to serve.  You can give them a little squeeze of fresh lime juice so they won’t turn brown so fast.  I like to serve salad at room temperature, you just don’t get the flavors when it’s too cold. It will keep in fridge for a few days, but you’ll have to take out the leftover avocado since it will turn brown. I cut this salad in 1/2 for the 2 of us. This easily will serve 6 as a side.

Ingredients:

2 cobs of fresh corn ( cook and then shuck corn off the cob) if no fresh corn available use frozen . I use frozen when I have to and 1 small bag is usually sufficient. The frozen corn will defrost very quickly so just take it out and when you mix in with other ingredients it will start to completely thaw by the time you’re ready to serve. You want to serve at room temperature anyway.

1 pint grape tomatoes , halved

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced into small pieces ( app. 1/2 “)

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup small diced red onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded ( app. 2 small jalapenos) use at your own discretion . Remove Seeds

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice ( 2 limes)

1/4 cup good olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled and cut into small cubes.

Directions:

Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper. Pour over the vegetables. Toss well. In the meanwhile cook the corn , bring water to a boil throw in for a few minutes to turn bright yellow, then I throw in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes to stop the cooking and lock in flavor and color. Then remove corn from cob. I let the salad sit for about an hour before adding avocados into the salad. Just fold avocados into the salad when you’re ready to serve. Check for seasoning and serve at room temperature.