Chopped Vegetable Salad

FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRenderI was having a dinner party and thought this would be a perfect addition to my menu. It contained fresh  vegetables and a salad all in one! Perfect side dish served right along with dinner. Of course you can add a protein and make this the meal which would be ever so perfect. Perfection in a bowl. This is what I did and what veggies I used, feel free to use the vegetables you would love. These were the quantities that worked perfectly though. I won’t lie it took some prep for this and a good idea would be to chop a lot of the veggies ahead of time and have them ready. Avocado and lettuce must be added right before serving though. Dressing and veggies can be made ahead of time .

*I served as a side dish and it was generous for about 6 -8 servings , if you’re using for a main probably 4-6.

*Original Recipe from O Magazine–I made a few changes

Ingredients:

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

1 garlic clove–minced

1/2 tsp. kosher salt plus a little more to taste at the end

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste at the end

1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:

1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into small pieces — about 1/2″

2 medium carrots, cut into small pieces

3 ears of corn, cut kernels off cobs

1/2 pint small cherry or grape tomatoes cut in 1/2

2 ribs celery, cut into small pieces , about 1/2″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into small pieces , also about 1/2″ size

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1 head romaine , chopped

1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Lastly, whisk in the oil slowly. Set aside.

When water comes to a boil, add cut up green beans and carrots to boiling water and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add corn and cook a couple of minutes more. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water, let veggies completely cool down. I let them sit till they were completely cool. Give vinaigrette a quick whisk, and add veggies to the bowl. Add in the tomatoes, celery , bell pepper and onion and toss well. Set aside and let marinate for at least 1/2 hour. I probably let it sit in marinade for about an hour.

Right before serving, add chopped romaine, avocado and parmesan . Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed. Toss gently to combine.

Serve immediately.

Farmers Market to Table Gazpacho

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Delicious fresh vegetables from the local farmers market went into this gazpacho. This time of year you must take advantage of the awesome selection of fruit and vegetables at your local farmers market. In Colorado there is so much local produce it would be a pity not to . I bought the tomatoes , cucumbers, peppers, garlic and red onion all from our local farmers market. Whole Foods also sells many local products which is so amazing. I don’t want to preach and there are so very many foods that I am particularly fond of that come from very foreign shores ( shrimp for one) . It’s just quite the thing to put food on your table from your own garden or at least from one within 100 miles of where you live. Farm to Table . Simply put it’s the best .

Ingredients:

1 cucumber or 2 – 3 Kirby size cukes, halved and seeded , but don’t peel . If not Kirby cukes you can use a hothouse cucumber. Go organic, because you are eating the peel.

2 yellow bell peppers, cored and seeded. Of course you can use red bell peppers, but not green.

4 tomatoes , use what you can find. I went to local farmers market for mine . If you use plum tomatoes use 4.

1 red onion

3 garlic cloves, minced or throw them into the food processor along with vegetables

3 cups Spicy V8 or use regular tomato juice

1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno depending on how spicy you like it, remove seeds from jalapeno

* cilantro, chopped is a nice touch for garnish

*avocado cut up is also nice garnish

*shrimp is also a nice garnish

Directions:

I cut up cukes, tomatoes, bell peppers and red onions into app. 1 inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor with steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not make baby food, don’t over process.

After each vegetable is chopped up combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic ( if you haven’t already) , juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. It’s a good idea to chill for a while, the longer it sits the more the taste develops.

The second night I added shrimp and avocado.

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My Best(est) Pasta Salad

MY Bestest Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 small box of fusilli pasta*

1 small container of crumbled feta cheese — however much you like -suit your taste

3 cloves garlic

1 can of black olives– you can use none or 1/2 can as many as you like

1 pint of grape tomatoes (if you can get different colors, that is perfect; if not red is just fine)

1/2 cucumber (preferably hot house or small Persian ones; if use Persians, then use 2)

7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons white vinegar (I use a white wine vinegar. Champagne is my favorite go-to as opposed to just plain white vinegar.)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, sliced (you can use as much or as little as you like and you can also use one whole of either but don’t use green)

a handful of fresh basil (roll it up and use kitchen scissors or a knife to cut it up)

2 tablespoons of fresh chives 

Cook pasta in a pan of salted water and add the 3 cloves of garlic. Cook al dente and drain. Put the garlic  aside for the dressing abd put the Pasta in a bowl to cool off.

In a New Bowl :

Cut the tomatoes, cukes, peppers, and black olives into small pieces. Give the herbs a rough chop and add to bowl. Mash cooked garlic cloves on a wooden board and add a little kosher salt, add to this bowl. Add oil, vinegar, and a little more kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add feta cheese to the mixture, then and add pasta. Mix it all up with large spoon.

Let it sit in fridge, mix before serving, and let it sit out at room temperature for at least an hour before serving. Should be room temperature. Mix it well from bottom , and add salt and pepper to taste.

*if fusilli not available, use small shells, elbows, gemelli, etc. They’re all equally good. I like the fusilli b/c cheese and dressing sticks to pasta well.

Watermelom Cucumber Salad–Perfect Summer Salad

This is a most delicious salad and a departure from the usual fare of lettuces etc. Sweet and Savory and very refreshing . Simple to pull together and easy to make. Of course you can substitute or add other items if you’d like such as olives, arugula , basil etc. This is how I did it and we all totally enjoyed it!!! The salad is a rather loose recipe and can be adapted very easily to other ingredients and your own particular tastes.

It really is the perfect Summer Salad. The saltiness of the feta and the sweetness of the watermelon make for a perfect summer salad.

Ingredients:

1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 1″cubes or melon balls.

1 shallot finely chopped

1 chunk of Feta Cheese– I like to cut my feta cubed but crumbled could work as well. Feta is usually a greek style cheese made with sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. I prefer a block even though I know crumbled is more convenient. The block is usually sold in a brine and that will keep the feta moist and crumbles tend to be dryer. They all taste good though so buy what you prefer. I often buy Bulgarian Feta which is rather firm and cuts and crumbles easily. Look for it. Also French Feta sometimes–check out the assortment in the cheese section of your market. And of course Greek Feta is probably the most preferred. Salty and tangy the way feta should be. Cut or Crumble your choice.

4 Tbsp. Torn Fresh Mint — more for garnish –I love Mint but some people really don’t you can substitute Basil or nothing if you’d lke

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

3 persian cucumbers — I buy the small ones and cut into small cubes

1/4 red onion sliced thinly

1/3 cup Pistachio Nuts — I chop them gently — obviously no shells –you can omit this all together if you don’t like them for a nut free salad

 

Vinaigrette:

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

3 small cloves Garlic–finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 Teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

In a small bowl whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Directions:

Combine the watermelon,1 finely chopped shallot, and mint in a large bowl with the 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil . Season with Salt and Pepper to taste and toss to combine. Transfer to fridge and let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Remove from fridge and add the cubed feta, cucumbers, red onion slices and pistachios. Toss to combine. I transferred to a serving platter , drizzled with the vinaigrette and served with extra pistachios and extra mint. 

You’ll want to use a slotted spoon for serving.

 

 

 

Simple Cole Slaw

I love Cole Slaw and it is such a simple thing to make to add to any bbq or meal. It is especially good in the summer when we all love cold salads. I like it all year round. It’s a great side dish to almost any meat and I really like it with roast chicken.

It’s super easy if you buy the bags of pre -shredded cole slaw. If you want to do it yourself you can just cut a whole cabbage in half and remove the core, wash , drain, dry and shred in the food processor or by hand. I just picked up 2 bags of Cole Slaw available everywhere in the produce section. You’ll need about 8 cups. I used 2 bags about 16 ounces.

This is what I did.

Ingredients:

For app. 8 cups of cabbage/cole slaw mix

1/2 cup mayo

2 Tablespoons Apple CiderVinegar

3 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt and more to taste

1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper and more to taste

Mix dressing in a bowl with a whisk is best.

Start slowly adding dressing to coleslaw mix in a large enough bowl to continue tossing. I added a little bit at a time and kept mixing till it was completely saturated with the dressing.

Then I refrigerated it till we were ready to eat and gave it a good toss and tasted for Salt and Pepper before serving!

Enjoy!

 

 

Shrimp and Orzo in One Pan

This recipe is from the NYT Cooking blog courtesy of Ali Slagle and a big thanks out to her . I always read the NYT Cooking it’s really got the most amazing recipes and some of the best chefs out there participate. This recipe caught my eye because of our love of Shrimp. It served 4  and we had a salad I might add some more orzo cooked seperateley but with whatever stock you used for cooking it to add a little more heft to the dish.

I also made  changes which just worked out best for me. That’s the beauty of cooking you can make changes which better suit you. However the recipe is perfect as is. I used a very large shrimp but you can use whatever size suits you and your budget. I used an under 10 Mexican White Shrimp. If you’re buying ask them to clean and de-vein them — Joel did mine.

It’s a spin on a scampi.

It’s rather yummy! Thanks to Ali Slagle for a great recipe. Original recipe is on the NYT Cooking website. I made changes to suit me.

Ingredients:

1 – 1 1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and de-veined

4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Zest plus 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice–1 average to large size lemon

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes– obviously optional if you don’t like the pepper

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

4 Garlic Cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup orzo

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 cups boiling water, seafood stock, or chicken stock–I used Chicken

3 Tablespoons Finely chopped Parsley

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together the shrimp, 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, the lemon zest, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and half the minced garlic.

In a medium skillet sprayed with cooking spray, add the butter, the remaining oil and garlic and heat over low to medium heat. Don’t burn the garlic. When the butter starts to bubble, add the orzo and another 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook by stirring around the pan as often as possible, toast the orzo in pan for about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat so as not to burn the orzo or the garlic. Carefully add the wine to the pan and stir in until it is absorbed for another minute or so. Stir in the chicken stock , reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the orzo is al dente, probably another 12- 15 minutes. This would be a good time to taste for salt and pepper .

Add the shrimp ( see photo) put them in a snug even layer on top of the orzo, cover and cook until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. This will all depend on the size of your shrimp. Remove from heat and let sit, covered for another few minutes till you’re ready to serve.

I poured the lemon juice over the finished shrimp — placed on a platter and sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Serve and Enoy!

Super Easy Peach Cobbler

I had some amazingly delicious peaches and knew that there was no way they were getting eaten so I figured I’d make a Peach Cobbler or a Peach Crisp. Now I have other recipes @cookingwithcandi but I also happen to be in possession of a box of yellow cake mix in my pantry and wanted to use it. So for those of you who don’t feel comfortable messing around with flour and the likes of that — this one’s for you. No judging here and this was very delicious and simple as could be.

Ingredients:

6 – 7 Ripe Peaches

3 cups Water

3/4 cup Sugar

1 9 ounce box Golden Yellow Cake Mix — doesn’t matter what brand

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray of your choice.

Peel and Slice Peaches. Add peaches to a medium sized pot and add the 3 cups water and 1/2 cup sugar. Cook over medium low heat until the peaches are soft. 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain peaches and while you’re straining do so into a bowl so you can reserve app. 1/2 cup of the strained liquid from the peaches. Then add strained peaches to the prepared baking dish. Add 1/2 cup of the liquid from the peaches and pour over the peaches.

Sprinkle with boxed cake mix .

Top cake with 1/4 cup of the sugar and 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Using a butter knife, make swirls in baking dish to combine some of the dry ingredients with the peach juices below.

Drizzle melted butter

Bake for app. 30-35 minutes till golden brown and set.

Serve with Ice-Cream.

 

Chicken Fajitas on the Grill

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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 call them Hobo Packs.

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

Last night there were 4 of us so I used about 2 lbs. of chicken but kept everything else the same and it worked out just fine!

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

Follow me on Instagram @cookingwithcandi

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken tenders–you can 1/2 them lengthwise into thin strips or leave them whole which is what I did. If you can’t find tenders use a cutlet and cut into thin strips.

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.

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.

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.

Arrange 4 14 inch sheets of heavy duty foil on a work surface ( see pics) app. 14 inches don’t get the ruler out. Just 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.

Enjoy!

Basic Corn Salad

It’s Summer 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.

Happy 4th of July!

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

Ingredients:

5-6 ears of corn , schucked

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.

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Crunchy Noodle Salad–with Ramen Noodles

This is an oldie but goodie and always welcome on the table. It is perfect with a bbq and always seems to be a hit.  It’s the time of year when cold salads are abundant but this beauty is really wonderful all year round.

Napa Noodle Salad

4 cups sliced Napa Cabbage ( I cheat and buy the cabbage in a bag. It’s not always Napa but sometimes I don’t feel like chopping.  if you buy the bag, it’s fine, just use 1 whole bag. It’s more than 4 cups but it’s fine, and if all you can find is the cole slaw kind it’s Ok too, it will just have some carrots and some purple cabbage.

5 green onions (scallions) sliced very thin (green parts only)

Mix cabbage and green onions and refrigerate for a few hours (at least 2). This gives it a chance to meld and wilt a bit.

2 packages of Ramen noodles (It doesn’t matter which flavor you buy b/c you will be throwing away those flavor packs  –you won’t be needing them for this salad–just the noodles

handful of sliced almonds

1/2 cup sesame seeds (available in the spice aisle)

1/4 cup butter

Take the noodles (hard crunchy ones) and put in a large plastic bag. Bang noodles with a mallet or your fist (fist is fine) and just crack them up. They’ll be easier to work with. Add the almonds and sesame seeds and brown all together in the butter.

Dressing

1/2 cup sugar ( I know, but I never said I cook DIET)

1/2 cup salad oil (plain old vegetable oil will do just fine)

1/4 cup vinegar (I use white rice vinegar, which is available in Asian section of supermarket or just wherever the vinegars are.)

1 Tbsp. soy sauce (low sodium always)

Toss all together and Serve

*cabbage and onions need to meld and wilt a bit, so make sure to give them at least 2 hours in the fridge. The hard noodles should stay a little crunchy. Don’t burn–just brown–the ingredients until the butter gets a bit bubbly; not burnt. Be careful. While you’re browning the noodles with the almonds and sesame seeds, move them around with a wooden spoon so it all gets buttery.

I know this is fattening, but isn’t everything fattening so yummy??? And you’re not eating the whole thing, so enjoy!!!

Of course you can double up this recipe, it’s just a whole lotta cabbage to toss! As a side dish, this is a nice amount as is.

Serves 4 – 6 as a side dish