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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 — small Persians work well here and you’ll probably need 3 or 4 — I don’t scoop out seeds from the Persian cucumbers

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 .

Summer Salad — Arugula, Farro and Peaches

This past week I made this salad 3 times and it’s not over yet. It is a delicious salad filled with farro, manchego cheese ( or feta, parmesan, goat or any cheese you like) I just happen to love Manchego and marcona almonds, peaches and chives or scallions whichever you have or prefer or none at all. I will give you some substitutions in the ingredients section. The local peaches in Colorado are ripe and beautiful now so perfect for this lovely salad. And you can add any protein you like and it makes a perfect lunch or dinner salad.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3/4 -1 cup farro — should be about 2 -2 1/2 cups cooked

5-6 ounces arugula ( I prefer baby arugula)

2 peaches , chopped

1/4 cup chives, chopped or chopped up scallions or none

I used a handful of marcona almonds and chopped them, you can use almonds or walnuts I love Marcona

I used Manchego Cheese, and just used a bit of it — don’t want to overwhelm the salad with cheese , I cut up Manchego into small pieces but feel free to sprinkle crumbled feta, shaved Parm, gorgonzola etc.

Dressing:

3 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar or White Vinegar

2 Teaspoons Honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

a few grinds of fresh black pepper

5 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Directions:

Cook Farro according to directions on package. I just place in small saucepan with water to cover by about 3 inches, add a little kosher salt, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool. I try and make the farro ahead of time and put in container so it’s ready to use.

In a small bowl or glass jar place all ingredients for dressing, shake or whisk .

When ready to eat place all ingredients in a large bowl, add dressing ( you’ll probably use all of it) Toss and Serve.

Delicious fresh tasting Summer Salad.

Cowboy Caviar

I made this for the first time and really enjoyed it. It’s a great dip as an appetizer with chips but I served it as a side dish alongside my chicken fajitas along with some chips. Ingredients can be swapped out to use what you like or don’t like just try and keep the quantities the same. I couldn’t find black eyed peas so used pinto beans and it was fine. I love a bit of spicy so used a jalapeño and I love cilantro but so many people don’t like it so I left it out this time. It ‘s very delicious and other than a bit of chopping up veggies which can be done ahead it’s super easy! You can add some fresh avocado chunks at the end right before serving and you can make a day ahead and maybe drain some of the liquid before serving, it’s almost better the next day since flavors meld overnight. A squeeze of fresh lime would also be nice. I wouldn’t omit the sugar as the amount is so small in relation to the whole recipe that health concerns are negligible. The sugar adds overall flavor and adds a balance between the acidity and the saltiness flavor. Have fun with this recipe no matter how you do it — no right and no wrong here do it your way. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

for the dressing:

1/3 cup Olive Oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3-4 garlic cloves -minced

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Kosher Salt and black pepper

For the Salad:

3 plum tomatoes, cored , seeded if desired and diced — you can also halved cherry tomatoes and use about 1/2 pint

1/2 red onion, finely diced — app. 3/4 up

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz. can black eyed peas , rinsed and drained– I used Pinto because I couldn’t find black eyed peas out here in CO whatever beans you like you can even use 2 cans of black beans

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels ( about 3-4 cobs) or thawed drained frozen sweet corn about 8 oz. or even roasted corn ( Trader Joes) if you like it and can get it– I used 4 cobs of fresh corn which is so abundant right now

1 red, green, or orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced *

*1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves plus more for garnish — totally optional

1 scallion, white and green parts, added at the end before serving for garnish

*tortilla chips, for serving also optional

Directions:

Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to combine– set aside

Add the tomatoes, red onion, drained and rinsed beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeño, and if you’re using cilantro, Toss to combine with dressing and season for salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving or even overnight.

To serve, take out of fridge, toss well and taste for seasonings. Sprinkle with scallions and if you’re serving as a dip or even as a side dish it’s great with tortilla chips. ( everything is better with chips)

Chicken Fajitas on the Grill

IMG_5599.JPG

IMG_5593.JPG Wow–Fajitas on the Grill and the best part is there were no pots and pans to clean up! Cooked in Aluminum Foil Packs right on the grill! They’re called Hobo Packs. This is so easy to make and so delicious to eat. Definitely one of our favorite go to meals in the summer. If you don’t have a grill you can make in the oven on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Very quick prep and delicious ingredients. Feel free to substitute whatever peppers you would prefer. This is what I did.

You’ll need heavy-duty aluminum foil for the grill.

  • If you double up the recipe you’ll need more hobo packs and feel free to experiment with the ingredients. 

Follow me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken tenders–I cut them in 1/2 so they’re still thick enough that they don’t over-cook in the 15 minutes it takes to cook. If the pieces are too too thin they’ll over-cook. 

1 medium red onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (approximately)

1 poblano chile or serrano chile whatever you can get. Stemmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips. I used both .

1 Red Bell Pepper–cut into strips lengthwise

1 Yellow Bell Pepper –cut into strips lengthwise

*you can really use any peppers that you’d like–these are the ones I used Shishito Peppers would be wonderful as well.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper- you’ll need to be fairly generous with the salt –I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill.

4 -6 fresh oregano sprigs–at least 1 in each packet–I used 2 in each packet. This is an optional option if no oregano– I like the flavor. 

1 lime, thinly sliced crosswise

Warm flour or corn tortillas, sour cream , guacamole and salsa and some hot sauce for serving. I used small tortillas but any kind will work out nicely. This is a very easy Summer Meal. I also like to serve with rice and beans.

Directions:

Cut up all the veggies, onions and chicken and light the grill, I had the grill turned up high , it should be medium to high. I put it to high to pre-heat and then lowered to a more medium – high, if you are unable to do this step just check on them after 12 minutes to make sure the bottom isn’t burning.

In a large bowl, toss the chicken, onion and all the peppers with the olive oil and cumin seeds. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss again. I like it to sit for about 15 minutes while grill is heating up. 

Arrange 4 14 inch sheets of heavy duty foil on a work surface ( see pics) app. 14 inches don’t get the ruler out you can   eyeball it, it needs to fit a pile of veggies and chicken. Last night I increased the chicken so we had about 6 packs.

Pile the chicken and veggies evenly on one 1/2 of each foil sheet and top with the oregano and lime slices. Fold the foil over the ingredients and pinch the edges to seal.

Place the foil packets on the grill, close the lid and cook over moderately high heat until the chicken is cooked through, anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes.

Open the packets and serve with warm flour fajitas, sour cream , guacamole, salsa and hot sauce.

*Packets can be made a night ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.

I usually place all ingredients after cooking in a large serving dish/bowl and let everyone take for themselves.

Enjoy!

S’mores Dip

Melted Chocolate and Toasty Marshmallows!!! This is a hit for your next party or just for your family. Who says it’s only for camping out? This was made in the oven very quickly and came out perfectly delicious and perfect all year round.  A few minutes in the oven and a few minutes to prep and you have a delicious most fun dessert to serve. Serve it with graham crackers or graham cracker sticks and watch it disappear. You can also mix it with peanut butter chips for a little bit different spin on S’mores. All I can say is yum!

Ingredients:

app. 1 regular size bag of  chocolate chips, you can use semi-sweet, milk chocolate, peanut butter chips or any combo.

Marshmallows- start out with a whole bag — you’ll probably use 3/4 of the bag –you can use minis or the large ones but I just used regular sized this time which are readily available

Graham Cracker Squares–for dipping

I used an 8 inch cast iron skillet– it makes for a great presentation and it cooks perfectly– just be very very careful with serving it because skillet will be very hot — careful supervision with this one

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray the cast iron pan with cooking spray ( this will help with clean up)  Pour the chips you’re using in an even layer on the bottom of the skillet.  Bake for3-4  minutes or until chocolate chips are melted . Watch closely because you don’t want to burn. Using an oven mitt –remove the skillet from the oven and stir the chocolate around  then cover the top with the marshmallows completely. Bake for another 4-5 minutes or until marshmallows are browned on top. ( see photo)  Serve immediately with graham cracker squares —only tip is to be very careful , because the dip and the pan will be very hot!!!! you’ll have to supervise with little ones and even some of the over anxious adults. You can let it rest for about 4-5 minutes before serving. But it should be served hot.

*if you don’t have a skillet you may use another oven-safe baking dish like a 9×13 pyrex would work . Chocolate does melt more evenly in cast-iron skillet and it retains heat better. 

*you can adjust the amounts of chocolate and marshmallows to your liking, and the size of the skillet. Some of these photos show the jumbo sized marshmallows which will work just as well or you can cut them in 1/2. 

*use whatever kind of chips you like, and any kind of marshmallows you like — mini marshmallows work well here too.

BBQ Chicken Marinade

Last night I put together this marinade and it was so very delicious. It has a definite Chinese flavor which we love. It’s sweet and savory all at the same time. You don’t have to marinade over night. I marinated the chicken for about 2 hours. Of course you can marinade overnight if you’d like but not necessary with this one. Easy to obtain ingredients — you may have to buy Chinese 5 spice powder if you don’t have in the house, this makes the flavor so don’t omit. Very easy prep on this one; most of the ingredients come out of bottles of which I had all in pantry or fridge. I cooked on the outside grill on a medium setting so as not to burn the chicken. Cooks in about 10 -12 minutes. This chicken would be delicious the next day but we didn’t have any leftovers. I cut in 1/2 for the two of us. We also prefer thighs which we like best but this would be just fine on white meat as well but timing may vary. Serve alongside a salad , some rice and a vegetable and you’re good to go. The leftovers would be amazing over fried rice — just saying. If no outdoor grill use a grill pan.

Enjoy! it’s my marinade for the summer.

Ingredients:

2 -2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons Ketchup

4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Directions:

Pat the chicken thighs with paper towels to remove excess moisture

In a large bowl ( big enough to hold chicken) stir together the minced garlic, five-spice powder, honey, hoisin, soy sauce , ketchup and sesame oil. I whisk all ingredients together.

Remove about a cup of the sauce to a small dish for glazing the chicken.

Add the chicken to the bowl, coating all pieces well. Cover with plastic wrap and since I only did for a few hours I left it on counter . If you’re doing over-night place in fridge but take out and bring to room temp. before cooking. You can marinade for as little as 30 minutes or up to over-night.

I pre-heated grill to medium and I cooked chicken for about 10-12 minutes depending on the size of the thighs. I basted with a brush some of the marinade at the very end ( app. 2-3 minutes)Transfer to a platter and let sit for a few minutes.

That’s it — very simple and very delicious week night meal or BBQ for guests.

White Bean Caprese Salad

An easy side salad for the lazy hazy last days of Summer and really good anytime of the year. White Beans from the can which is always in my pantry works to make this an easy simple delicious side salad. You can add some arugula or just serve alongside any protein and it’s perfection with simple ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 14 oz. can white beans such as cannellini, rinsed

app. 5 oz. small cherry or grape tomatoes , halved

app. 5 oz. small mozzarella balls such as cilliegine which is available in most grocery stores in an 8 oz. container. You can also use any good quality fresh mozzarella torn into bite size pieces.

1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves , I like them cut up

2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed —

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste and sometimes a pinch or two of crushed red pepper if you like a little kick

2 Teaspoons good – quality balsamic vinegar, plus more if needed

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, cheese and 1/2 the basil. Gently toss together.

Add the olive oil and season the salad with salt and pepper. Gently stir to combine.

Drizzle the salad with the balsamic vinegar and top with the remaining basil and taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Add a drizzle or so more of oil and vinegar if needed.

Enjoy!

Coconut Rice — Chrissy Teigen Recipe

This is my go to rice recipe — sweet and salty delicious recipe. Perfect served alongside a savory BBQ or any meal for that matter. Always a hit at our house. I like Chrissy Teigen’s recipe of all the coconut rice recipes. And don’t skimp on the toasted coconut. This is not diet food — but it’s delicious and worth the few extra calories. Absolutely yummy!

Don’t forget to rinse the rice and let it dry — it takes another 1/2 hour or so and is absolutely worth it. I just rinse it through a mesh colander– run cold water over rice and move rice around a little with your hands and let it dry . Rinsing or washing rice removes that excess starch, resulting in grains that are more separate when cooked.

Enjoy and thanks again to Chrissy Teigen for this wonderful recipe.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups Jasmine Rice ( rinsed and drained)

1 14 oz. can coconut milk– full fat not light

1 3/4 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:

In a dry pan, toast coconut over medium-low heat, stirring until lightly brown and fragrant. About 4-5 minutes. Watch carefully . Transfer to a plate to cool.

In a medium saucepan, combine all other ingredients including rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and salt.

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Once it boils reduce heat to a barely simmer until rice is fully cooked and liquid absorbed keep covered. About 20 minutes. I time it for 20 and check on it at 15 minutes. Remove from heat when all liquid is absorbed and fluff with a fork. Then re-cover the saucepan and let it stand for at least 5 minutes before serving. Last night I made an hour ahead and let it sit and it was perfect.

Transfer to a sering bowl and top with toasted coconut.

Enjoy!

A Berry Patriotic Trifle

I made this for the Fourth of July and it was so very pretty and pretty yummy too. I honestly didn’t care how good it tasted because it looked that good but it really was very yummy. Very easy to make and no baking involved. Perfect for the Fourth or Labor Day or really any old time . Actually this would be lovely made with all blackberries , all strawberries and just serve it any old time if you’re not feeling the Patriotic theme. It’s delicious and an easy solution for dessert for those summer bbq’s.

You’ll need a Trifle Bowl — worth the investment.

Ingredients:

1 store bought angel food cake

For the syrup:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1/4 tsp. Almond Extract

Whipped Cream Cheese:

2/3 cup sugar

1 lb. Cream cheese , at room temperature

2 cups Heavy Cream, at room temperature

Fruit:

2 pints blueberries

2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced

Directions:

Heat 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice , and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.

Cut the pre made angel cake into 1 ” slices

Brush both sides of the sliced cake with syrup — I put on a rimmed baking sheet to do this

Cut the slices into 1″ cubes

Beat 2/3 cup sugar and the cream cheese with a mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth and light. Add the cream and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and the consistency of whipped cream

Arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom a 13 cup trifle dish. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries. Dollop half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread

Top with a layer of strawberries

Layer the remaining cake cubes on top of the strawberries. Then sprinkle with more blueberries

Top with remaining whipped cream and finish with the remaining strawberries and blueberries, arranging them in a decorative pattern. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours. Overnight is perfect and what I recommend.

Like I said any berries will do , it’s a lovely dessert.

Chicken Shawarma

I got this recipe from Pamela Salzman’s cookbook Kitchen Matters. I absolutely loved it. I made the chicken and then proceeded to turn it into a rice bowl. The rice bowl accompaniments can be whatever you like. I use Tzatziki Sauce instead of Tahini white sauce. You can also serve over salad which is quite delicious as well. Greek Salad in particular would be great! Add some delicious pita or Naan bread and it’s perfection! I made a side order of roasted peppers and onions and you can add mushrooms as well. I did this in the oven about an hour before dinner. (cut up peppers and onions add a little olive oil to coat and salt and pepper and 400 degrees for about 45 minutes )Big thumbs up on the peppers and onions in the rice bowl. Feta cheese is a must here! (buy a good one) and pepperoncini in mine!

I cooked on my outside grill but this can be cooked indoors on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. Or use a grill pan which would probably cook faster — either way it is delicious.

I also highly recommend marinating for as long as possible. I prepared the chicken in the morning and probably marinated for about 7 hours. Minimum of 1 hour and you can do overnight as well. This marinade was very flavorful.

Thanks to www.pamelasalzman.com

Marinade:

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice– I used 2 average sized lemons

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon — I used a heaping 1/8 teaspoon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper– I used a heaping 1/8 here too

Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper –probably 1/4 teaspoon as well

4 minced garlic cloves

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Directions:

prepare the marinade– Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl. Add the raw chicken and toss to coat. Marinade in the fridge for as many hours as you can — this was key. Remove the chicken from the fridge about 1/2 hour before cooking.

I cooked on my outside grill for about 7 minutes on each side. I like the outside edges a little crispy since I don’t have a revolving spit to cook my chicken on this is as close as I could get.

I sliced up chicken served it in a rice bowl and we each used different accompaniments. The peppers and onions were perfect with it. Highly recommend it and you can buy store bought tzatziki which would be just fine. Would be good with some delicious toasted pita or naan bread.