Friday, June 19, 2015

Penne Pasta Crab Louie Salad

It's salad season and I'm excited to share this new one with you. It's quick, inexpensive and looks oh-so pretty on a plate. I was going to make it with shrimp but came across some imitation crab on sale at my market. All I can say is, what a difference in price, and it's worth a try! I used to be a snob about the Pollack/King Crab mixture and wouldn't give it a second thought. Well, times have changed. I'm a big girl now and have to admit, it's really quite delicious. The brand I bought is Trans Ocean Crab Classic and I'll buy it again.

Penne Pasta Crab Louie Salad
Serves 4-6

The Salad
6 oz uncooked penne pasta
8 oz imitation crab
1/2 cup finely diced celery
4 scallions (white and light green parts) chopped

The Sauce
1-1/2 T cocktail sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used lite)
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
1/2-1 lemon
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 T capers
salt and pepper to taste

The Garnish (use one or all)
hard boiled eggs
baby spinach
grape tomatoes halved
Olde Thompson Steak & Burger Seasoning

Prepare penne according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, prep your crab, celery and scallions. When penne is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. To make the Louie sauce, combine all ingredients, mix well and taste to see if you need additional salt, pepper or lemon. I like my Louie sauce on the lemony side. Mix your sauce with the cooled pasta, crab, celery and scallions and refrigerate until chilled.

Right before serving, I give the salad an additional squeeze of lemon to loosen it up a bit and regenerate it. Plate this baby up and enjoy, I sure did!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Berry Good Baked Pancake

Some of you may have seen the King Arthur baked pancake post on face book the other day. This is the link I saw. Blueberry pancakes cooked in the oven. Brilliant!! But does it work? I'm happy to say in capital letters, "YES, YES it does". Great for breakfast, brunch, dinner or anytime. I had 12 ounces of fresh raspberries and thought I'd go for it. I think this recipe should feed 6 people, but after my two helpings I snuck in a third one. So plan on a meal for 4, just saying... So simple and ready in a half hour.

King Arthur Inspired Baked Raspberry Pancakes
Serves 4

1 T unsalted butter for greasing a 9" x 13" pan (I used a glass dish)
2 cups Bisquick original pancake/baking mix (any pancake mix will do, or from scratch)
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
12 oz fresh raspberries divided

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp maple extract
Approximately 1/4 cup milk
dash of salt

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pan with butter. Set aside and make your pancake batter according to package directions. Add in 6 ounces of the fresh raspberries and pour into baking dish. Place on middle rack in oven. Set timer for 35 minutes.

While the pancakes are cooking make the glaze. With whisk, combine the confectioner's sugar, maple extract and 1/4 cup of milk (or even less, depending how thick you like your glaze). Set aside and wait for pancakes to come out of the oven.

When pancakes are done (test them as you would a cake, with a toothpick) set aside and let cool a bit. When warm and not too hot anymore, brush with at least half the glaze. Slice into 12 squares, garnish with the additional berries and drizzle on some more of that decadent glaze.

Since this was a test recipe for me, I pretty much followed King Arthur's directions to the letter. I'm thinking next time a little orange or lemon zest would be a happy addition to the batter. And call me crazy, but even some mini chocolate chips in the batter would work nicely, with a small little squirt of chocolate sauce on the side. Thanks King Arthur, I'm a happy gal tonight.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Another Saucy Idea

I'm still working with the Saucy Mama products that were sent to me and tonight's dinner (shame on me it's not a balanced meal) was delish! It's an appetizer that fit my mood and evening time frame. And again, you're going to like this little gem! It's 3 ingredients, how nice is that?

Saucy Kielbasa Rounds
Serves 4-5 as an appetizer
1 package (13 oz) Polska Kielbasa (I used Hillshire Farm Lite)
10 oz apricot jam (I used Smucker's Simply Fruit)
5 oz Saucy Mama Apricot Ginger Mustard
Slice kielbasa into 4 or 5 pieces and place in water in semi-deep saucepan. Bring water to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Cook about 20 minutes until sausage has plumped. Remove from water and let cool. Save about one cup of cooking water (I added less) to enhance the mustard/apricot sauce.
When sausage is cool, slice into 1 inch rounds. Add them back to the pot they were previously cooked in and add the mustard and apricot jam and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Stir to combine and simmer on low for 30 minutes or even a little longer until sauce reduces and gets a little sticky. 
Plate and serve. This is a burst of flavor on a plate!

Friday, May 29, 2015

More Saucy Noodles


Here's another quick recipe using two Saucy Mama dressings. It's Asian inspired and just like last week's recipe, it has only 7 ingredients. Thanks Saucy Mama for doing all the hard work!

Chicken Sesame Peanut Noodles

8 oz linguini
1/2 cup Saucy Mama Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing
1/4 cup Saucy Mama Sesame Ginger Dressing
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 T toasted sesame oil
4-5 chopped scallions
1/2 pound ground chicken

1/4 cup chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Crushed red pepper flakes for topping (optional)

Sauté your chicken on stovetop on medium heat with a little salt and pepper until cooked through and in little crumbles. Drain any fat from the pan and set aside. While chicken is browning, cook linguini according to package directions, chop your scallions and make the dressing.

To make the dressing: whisk together the 2 Saucy Mama dressings with peanut butter and sesame oil.

That's it, dressing is done. Doesn't it look yummy? I could dive right in. Add cooled/rinsed pasta, chicken and chopped scallions. Mix well, and plate with chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds. Serve at room temp and add a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes for a bit more heat.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Saucy Grilled Shrimp and Pasta Salad

I'm in love with the flavors of Asia. Whether it's a curry, stir fry or salad, I'm giving it a try in my kitchen. And I have spent hours upon hours testing recipes that mimic my favorite dishes from the authentic Asian restaurants I frequent. Imagine my delight when I tasted Saucy Mama's Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing? Wowser!! Was I impressed! It had all the flavors I usually strive for when I make my garlic/ginger dressing. And there's no grating ginger or chopping garlic, no checking the pantry and fridge for rice vinegar and soy sauce, and no measuring anything. And I'm reluctant to admit, but I's as good or maybe even better than my homemade.

So let's get cooking and put together a simple salad that's perfect for a weeknight meal or company fare. And it's only seven ingredients. Yes, you read that right, seven ingredients.

Pacific Rim Ginger Grilled Shrimp and Pasta Salad
Servers 4 to 6

1 lb Gulf Shrimp peeled and deveined (I like the 16-21 count)
1 cup Saucy Mama Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing divided
1/2 lb sugar snap peas
1 large red pepper sliced 1/4 inch
2-3 scallions chopped
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
8 oz linguini

I just made this tonight and it's fresh in my mind. This is what I did. I soaked some wooden skewers in water for a half hour (so they don't burn on my indoor grill). While they were bathing I poured 1/2 cup of Pacific Rim Ginger Dressing into a gallon size plastic bag. In went the cleaned shrimp, and they had a bath of their own for 30 minutes. I then skewered them and cooked them in my grill pan on my stovetop for about 2-3 minutes per side.

Yummy looking right? One of these skewers is meant for the chef, so help yourself, simply delish. The shrimp can sit for a bit while you assemble the salad. Cook linguini according to package directions and drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. While pasta is cooking, chop the cilantro and scallions, and microwave the sugar snaps for 1-1/2 minutes. Most people don't cook their red peppers, but I microwave mine for about 45 seconds (Crazy? maybe, but I think they're just a little bit sweeter that way). Combine pasta and cooled veggies, scallions and cilantro in a bowl and toss with remaining 1/2 cup of dressing.

Plate and garnish with cilantro leaves. You can serve the shrimp on skewers as I did, but when it's mixed with the pasta salad, it's pretty impressive as well. Serve at room temp or even cold.

Saucy Giveaway! Yes, a giveaway. Please leave a comment here or on my facebook page for a chance to win some Saucy Mama products. I see some good eating in some reader's future. Details about the giveaway will be posted soon.

Diane Smith, you've won the giveaway! I'll message you with the saucy choices. Congrats!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Exciting News!

I'm so excited, yes I am! I'm one of twenty five bloggers selected to compete in the 2015 Saucy Mama recipe contest. This contest is a biggie. It awards one winner a paid entry and all expenses paid trip to the World Food Championships this year in Kissimmee, FL which takes place next November. As always, I'm going to give it my all. I've got lots of ideas and am waiting for the products to arrive. This Saucy Mama wants to win! Be sure to check out my upcoming recipes and sign up for a chance to win some Saucy Mama products so you can enjoy them in your kitchen as well. Details to follow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Caramalized Onion, Bacon, Cheese and Baby Kale Strata

Before I say good bye to winter, I must share my latest strata (last of the comfort food hopefully?). Remember, I live in New England and while a lot of the country has been enjoying comfortable temperatures, I made this dish 3 days ago when it was hailing on my way home from work. It's a simple fix, and I know you're going to like the caramelized onion/cheese/bacon/kale combo. Oh and the little tang of Dijon mustard is just perfect. Here's what you need to put this little darling together, and you don't have to be having a tough winter to make this, it's a great brunch entrée- hot out of the oven or served at room temp.

End of the Winter Strata
Serves 6

6 slices bacon chopped 1 inch pieces
1 T olive oil
2 medium sized onions chopped
1/2 cup Fontina cheese shredded
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbled
3/4 cup baby kale chopped
8 slices hearty white or Italian bread cut into 1 inch cubes
4 large eggs
1-3/4 cups milk or half and half
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 T unsalted butter melted

Let's do this with pictures. It will help me next year when I'm at my wit's end with cold weather. Yes, that might help!

Sauté bacon in a large pan.

When just about crisp, remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Save 1 T of bacon fat and place back in pan and add 1 T of olive oil. Add your onions and cook on low heat for at least 20-30 minutes.

Add a little salt and pepper if you like. I did. While onions are caramelizing, shred your Fontina cheese and crumble the Gorganzola. Now chop your baby kale, slice your bread, melt butter and prepare your egg custard. In mixing bowl or large measuring cup mix eggs, milk, mustard, salt, pepper and cooled melted butter.

Prepare an 8" x 8' baking dish with cooking spray and layer 4 of the sliced pieces of bread.

Add your cooked bacon, caramelized onions, cheese and kale.

Top with the rest of the sliced bread and add the egg custard. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about an hour.

Since I've been making strata's all winter, I've been reading up on the "setting-up in the fridge" time of this lovely dish, and I am of the belief that 1 -2 hours is all you need. Some say overnight. Sorry- I don't have time for that, and also...I don't think it bakes as well. Yeah, I'm a rebel. But try it my way, I think you'll be happy. So put this little dish of deliciousness in a 325 degree oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. Oh, you can also add a bit more cheese to the top. It is a farewell to winter right? Take a look. Imagine how good it tastes.