Asian Slaw with Cantaloupe and Mint

I love the unexpected surprise and the pop of sweetness of fruit in salads. This was a refreshing and satisfying accompaniment to our Chili Lime Glazed Salmon. Double the recipe for potlucks or large crowds.

1/2 bag cole slaw mix (red, and green shredded cabbage and carrots)

1T chopped fresh mint

1/2 of a cantaloupe ,seeds removed, and cut into bite sized chunks

1T fresh lime juice

3T Asian Vinaigrette ( I used a store-bought one for this recipe)

Mix together all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and serve.

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Broiled Salmon with Chili Lime Glaze

2 large salmon filets cut into 6 pieces

4 T Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (found in Asian section of supermarket)

1T minced ginger

1T Lime Juice

Mix together ingredients in a small bowl, pour over salmon Marinate in fridge for 30 minutes, Preheat Broiler.

Place on Broiler Pan and Cook for 7-10 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.

No Stress Breakfast: Bacon and Egg Cups with Goat Cheese, Arugula, and Tomatoes

I am not a fan of breakfast, not because I don’t like to eat it, just because I am not a morning person. Also it can be hard to get everything ready on time to feed a whole family or god forbid guests. I feel like a harried short order cook with a huge mess in my kitchen. It can ruin my whole day. This is an easy way to serve a crowd or just make ahead for the week to save you time and stress.

Bacon, love it probably more than any other food, but it can be messy. When I was a young bride I was not such a great cook and I tried making bacon in a fry pan on the stove, what a mess, it doesn’t really fit in the pan, and it never cooks evenly. Who wants to stand over the stove with grease flying at you? Then there is the microwave, sure it cooks but your oven is covered in a layer of grease that will take forever to clean, there goes the 5 minutes you saved choosing that method of cooking. For whatever reason one day I tried it in the oven, why had I not ever tried this before? There was no mess, no standing like a slave to the cook top and guess what it came out better and more evenly cooked. Not to mention you can make a whole pound at one time if you are feeding a crowd or in my case a family of 4, who loves bacon.

Lay your slices on a heavy-duty sheet pan with sides. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Take out and drain on paper towels. My family likes it “well done” this was cooked for about 17 minutes.Unused bacon can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and reheated in the microwave for 30 seconds or warmed in a skillet pan.

For the Egg Cups:

8 eggs

3T half and half or milk

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1/4 t black pepper

1/2 t salt

3 T creamy goat cheese

1/2 c chopped arugula

1/2 c chopped tomatoes

Grease or spray a 6 muffin tin. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a large bowl add eggs, spices, goat cheese and half and half, whisk until combined.

Pour into muffin tins, I used a large ice cream scoop. Then add about a tablespoon of tomatoes and a tablespoon of arugula to each cup. and stir with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Eggs will rise but with deflate when removed from the oven. If you are worried about spillage in your oven, place muffin tin on a cookie sheet before baking. You can put any uneaten cups in a large freezer bag  and place into the freezer for future use.

Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Lemon

Healthy, fresh, and delicious this easy weeknight meal is very versatile. It can be served over pasta, rice or greens.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

4 boneless chicken breasts

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes slices in half

2T balsamic vinegar

1/2 lemon sliced

1 half lemon juices

1 t olive oil

1/2 t salt

1/8 pepper

2 cloves garlic minced

1 T fresh basil

Place chicken in a baking dish. toss with vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, lemon slices and garlic.

Place pan in oven and cook for 35-45 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Slice chicken and top with tomato mixture and fresh basil.

Gifts that keep on giving: Booze Baskets

Finding a perfect gift for someone is difficult, getting the right size or color or worrying if the receiver already has one etc… I recently got a new neighbor and was wondering what to get her. I knew what colors she likes and we were already friends so I kind of knew her tastes but still had no idea. Then I remembered that she said her new house would have a signature cocktail…mojitos. Well what could be better than all the ingredients for her new house drink. I always save my Christmas gift baskets, you know the ones that different business send out with stale nuts and cheap chocolate, the basket is probably the best part. I found one in my closet that would fit all of the needed supplies. For the Mojito basket I put white rum, club soda, a muddler, limes and a mint plant. I also made a batch of simple syrup and filled a glass jar with it.

Simple Syrup is easy to make and a great addition to mojitos, iced coffee and iced tea. I actually made a double batch so I could keep some for myself.

Add equal parts sugar and water to a pan, bring to a boil and remove from heat, let cool and store in the refrigerator.

To keep all the contents from falling out, I used some clear shrink-wrap, which is now available at my dollar store and tied a bow on the top. Voila, gift giving made easy. This basket could easily be done with a different drink theme. Margaritas, cosmos, martinis. Now I can’t wait to join my new neighbor for happy hour by the pool once she gets settled.

Bacon Jam: Yes, there is such a thing and it’s delicious

I have a friend who lives in England and I kept seeing her posts on Facebook about something called Bacon Jam. I had never heard of such a thing here in the states. I googled it and saw some jars of it all available in Europe, but not here. But it was bacon so I somehow had to try it.looked for a recipe for it and of course my favorite woman to love and hate but mostly love, Martha Stewart had one on her site. I am never one to follow a recipe verbatim but I have never actually had bacon jam so I didn’t want to start experimenting too much until I actually tasted it. I was envisioning serving it with cheese and crackers or maybe as a topping on pizza so the only thing I did differently was change out the vinegar, as I thought balsamic would go better with those things.

1 1/2 lbs of bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

2 medium yellow onions diced

3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 pure maple syrup

3/4 c strong brewed coffee

Cook bacon pieces in a large pan over med-med high heat until they are slightly browned about 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Reserve one tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan  and discard the rest. Heat onions in garlic in pan over medium heat and cook until translucent about 5-6 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add bacon back to pan and stir.

Add contents of pan to a slow cooker and heat on high with a piece of foil loosely place on the top for about 3 hours or until liquid becomes syrupy.

Place mixture into a food processor and pulse until it becomes jam like.

The possibilities are now endless. Serve with a cheese plate, on pizza, in a quesadilla, we even tried it with peanut butter on a chocolate graham cracker. Will keep up to 4 weeks, in the refrigerator in an air tight container.

with apple slices on crostini

With goat cheese on crackers

Andouille Sausage and Peppers over Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits

It’s been a week of go to, easy favorites for dinner in our house. We have graduations, birthdays, and baby showers to plan, not to mention Memorial Day. My kids are not huge seafood fans so this is a nice alternative to the classic shrimp and grits which I regularly crave. It is super quick and easy, yet filling and comforting.

5 links andouille sausage ( you could use Kielbasa if you don’t like the spice or the spice doesn’t like you ) sliced on the bias into bite sized rounds

1 green pepper sliced into thin strips

1 small yellow onion sliced

Saute the sausage in a large skillet for about 3 minutes, add onion and peppers and continue cooking over med heat until they are soft and sausage is cooked through.

Meanwhile cook 4 servings of Quick grits (not instant) according to package directions.

Add the following to the cooked grits:

2 T butter

1/2 c of milk

1 clove of minced garlic

2 cups shredded smoked gouda cheese

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 t cayenne pepper

1/2 t salt

1/4 black pepper

Stir to combine, add more milk if needed

Add grits to serving bowls and top with sausage and pepper mixture.

Late Night Snack: S’mores Popcorn

I saw an idea for S’mores popcorn on Pinterest but the link was broken so I don’t know who thought of this or who to give credit to. All I know is that I was shopping in my local market and these cute Honeymaid mini graham crackers were on sale, it made me think of the popcorn I saw so I decided to give it a try. The original picture on pinterest used Golden Grahams so if you have those on hand I am sure they would work just fine.

4 cups popped corn

1 1/2 cups mini graham crackers

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup chocolate chips

2 T half and half

Melt chocolate chips and half and half  in a double boiler.

Put graham crackers, marshmallows and popcorn in a large bowl and toss with hands to mix together. using a spoon drizzle chocolate over mixture and stir until it is all incorporated.

Serve immediately. Would be perfect for kids sleepovers, and late night snacks.

Pappardelle Pasta with Peas, Ricotta, and Mint

This is a quick, easy, and light pasta dish. Delicious as a weeknight dinner, a great addition to a brunch or terrific meatless option. If you want to please your meat eaters, try adding, crispy bacon, ham or prosciutto at the end.

1 package pappardelle pasta ( or your favorite shape)

1/2 to 1 c reserved pasta cooking water

1 1/2 c ricotta cheese

1 c frozen peas

2 T fresh mint

1 T fresh lemon juice

1/4 t black pepper

1/2 t salt

crumbled ricotta salata or shaved parmesan for topping

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions, reserving 1 c pasta water before draining. Add ricotta, peas, mint and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse until combined, stir in salt and pepper.

Toss ricotta mixture and pasta together, add reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time until sauce is desired consistency. Serve topped with crumbled ricotta salata or shaved parmesan.

Instant Party: Beer Ritas

This weekend my friends stopped over and it ended up being an unplanned girls night in. Luckily they thought to bring the makings for one of our favorite but under utilized drinks, Beer Ritas. We discovered this recipe over 10 years ago, but sometimes we forget about it, it is a Margarita made with beer and limeade instead of that weird pre made Margarita mix with the funny after taste. It’s just  as easy but much more refreshing and delicious. I am going to stock up and keep some limeade in my freezer, you never know when you need the makings for an instant party. Pairs perfectly with salsa and chips.

1 can or 6oz frozen limeade concentrate (we used Minute Maid)

1 can or 6 oz Tequila

1 can or 6 oz water

1 12 oz bottle of light beer, we used Corona Light

Lime slices

Kosher Salt

Empty the can of limeade into a blender or pitcher, refill the can with Tequila, and add, than refill with water and add. Pour in one bottle of beer and stir or blend in a blender. Serve over ice in salt rimmed glasses. To make salt rimmed glasses, run a lime wedge around the rim of a glass and dip into salt poured on a small plate.