Summertime Pasta Salad

pasta salad

I tried a new recipe this week that I loved for several reasons:

  1. I love a cold pasta salad in the summertime.
  2. I served it alongside a BLT and it was a great side dish.
  3. This would also be a great main dish by adding grilled chicken strips, or even shrimp or crab meat!
  4. It’s also a great do-ahead dish.  I made it the night before and it was so great to have it all ready to pull out and add to a simple summer meal like BLT’s!

BLT

Tortellini Caesar Pasta Salad

This recipe was found in a Community Table magazine.  

INGREDIENTS

2 (9-oz) packages cheese tortellini

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

3 ears corn – I used frozen corn kernels – You could use any fresh vegetable – cucumbers, zucchini or squash would all be delicious in this!

1 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

2 carrots, thinly

4 tomatoes, diced

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and cool.

Steam broccoli until tender, about 6 minutes; cool.

Cook corn in boiling water, 5 minutes; cool, then slice kernels off cob. I simply ran the frozen kernels under cold water and added it to the salad.

Toss tortellini, broccoli, and corn with dressing, lemon juice, carrots, tomatoes; salt to taste.

If you love pasta, you’ll love this recipe!  I hope you’ll add it to your menu, either as a side or a main dish, and do it this summer!!

With love from my country kitchen,

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(L)Oven Monday – “Grilled” Chicken Tenders that Taste Like Cracker Barrel’s

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I love it when a restaurant has healthy food that’s so good you don’t feel like you’re missing out when you choose to order wisely!  That’s how I feel about Cracker Barrel’s Grilled Chicken Tenders!  They’re so juicy and flavorful that every bite is like an indulgence.  Recently I found This Copycat recipe on Southern Plate that reminds me so much of that delicious entree!  They’re not really grilled, but they have the taste of it!  Let me show you how simple this recipe is!

“Grilled” Chicken Tenderloins

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips.
  • 1 cup zesty Italian dressing
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons honey
Instructions:
  1. Place chicken in gallon ziplock bag. Combine all other ingredients and pour over. Seal and marinate for at least an hour. Doing this step the night before would make supper a breeze!
  2. Pour all ingredients into a large skillet and cook over medium heat until liquid evaporates and remaining marinade becomes thick and caramelized. This can take from 30-40 minutes.
  3. Coat each piece of chicken in marinade by rubbing it around on the bottom of the pan before removing it.

Here’s what it looked like about half way through the cooking process:

Chicken Tenderloin 3

I cooked my chicken in my electric skillet and it took about 30 minutes, so just keep an eye on the your pan to tell when it’s done.  This is so delicious!  I used the leftovers later in the week for wraps for our lunch and it was delicious cold!  This would be a great staple to keep in the freezer!

Chicken Tenderloin 1

 

If you need a super-simple and fast side to go with a meal, here’s something we love:

Canned Potatoes with Rosemary and Tomatoes

Canned potatoes, drained
1 Tbl. Butter
Grape Tomatoes, halved
Rosemary
Salt
Pepper

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Melt butter in small skillet.  Cube the potatoes and add them to the skillet.  Let them get brown and a little “crispy.”  Add herbs and Grape tomatoes. Let cook until tomatoes are warm.

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This is a super-easy and yummy meal!  I hope you’ll put it on your menu and then let me know how you like it!

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Do you have a favorite Copycat recipe you make?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Summer Menu Family Favorites

Hello friends!  I trust you had a great weekend.  We sure did!  On top of the wonderful church service on Sunday (I’m so thankful for my church!), getting to go hear Chonda Pierce Friday night (hilarious!), and a fun day on Saturday, my cup was just running over!

We had a delicious Sunday dinner at home. I know, it was Mother’s Day, and mom’s aren’t supposed to cook, but I was glad to help. My husband did steaks on the grill for us and I happily contributed all the other parts of the menu.  Everything on the menu is literally a family favorite for summertime cuisine!  This menu is perfect in every way in our house!  I’ve shared them all in times past, but let me tell you about it –

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I usually always make a Teriyaki Marinade for our steaks because it makes them THE BEST EVER!  Spinach Salad has a crunchy element of Water Chestnuts, some boiled eggs, bacon pieces and is then topped with a dressing that is a cross between Catalina and French dressing.  Yum. Every now and then we step into the unhealthy realm and make our family’s favorite Golden Onion Rings.  Again, they’re just the most delicious recipe ever, yet very easy to make.  Lastly, dessert consisted of another family favorite – Fresh Strawberry Pie.  In case you haven’t made any of these, or if you haven’t made these recipes in a while, let me share the links so you can put them on your menu soon!!

Teriyaki Marinated Steaks
Golden Onion Rings
Spinach Salad
Fresh Strawberry Pie

I was too involved with the guests to get good pictures of the food,
but here’s a little peek…

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Dessert’s grand appearance was the Pie!

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My “centerpiece” may seem a little odd to you, but let me explain – I wanted all three of my girls represented on the table.  The Yankee Candle has a label on it with my oldest and youngest daughters pictures on it!  A sweet friend gave that to me for a Mother’s Day gift and it touched my heart so much!  Not only did it represent the girls, it gave a pretty ambiance to the table and it smells wonderful!  Then the little pink rose in the bud vase and the porcelain baby shoes were to represent our second daughter, Ashley.  She’s rejoicing in heaven, and we’ll join her before long!!

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Our youngest daughter and her husband were here with us for supper, and I got to talk to my oldest daughter and my mom on the phone, so that was wonderful!  Even though we had some of our favorite foods, the people we got to be with were the best part of the meal!

What was the best part of your weekend?

With love,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Easter Dinner 2017 Recap

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If you’ve been reading my blog more than a week, you know how I treasure Sunday dinner.  It makes my heart sooo happy! But how does Sunday dinner get even better?  It’s when Sunday dinner is Easter Sunday dinner.  On top of good food, there’s the blessing of remembering Christ’s resurrection from the dead and celebrating that truth that He lives!

So, yesterday, we did indeed have a big Sunday meal, but we started with a wonderful church service where Christ was exalted! We sang of His resurrection and heard God’s truth about how to be sure you can have eternal life!  Then we came home for dinner and included our daughter and son-in-law and a couple of other special people.  We also incorporated a few family traditions, which brings memories and makes memories.  It was a great day!

Here’s the menu:

 Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Ruth’s Chris’ Sweet Potato Casserole
Tarragon Asparagus – New recipe
Deviled Eggs
Caesar Salad in Parmesan Bowls
Bunny-Shaped Breadsticks – New recipe
Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

Let me roll the pictures so you can have a peek into our day and see that I also incorporated all the principles I’ve recently shared about Sunday dinner!

I worked early in the week and got the Coconut Cake baked and layers put in the freezer.  Then at the end of the week, I made the lemon curd and the icing.  It simplifies the process so much!  By Saturday night here’s what was already prepped:

The cake, the rolls, the Sweet potato Casserole, Deviled eggs, and the salad ingredients were totally ready. The table was all set, too.  I also had the roasting pan for the ham set out and ready to bake the main entree.

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When I got home from church it only required to put the finishing touches on everything and bake the casserole.

Here’s how things turned out on Sunday~

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cups –

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Sweet Potato Casserole – The best in my book!

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Terragon Asparagus – This was new, and it was pretty good.  My asparagus wasn’t as fresh as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m going to try this again before giving it a final verdict!

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Bunny Breadsticks – Another new recipe.  These were fantastic on Saturday when I made them, but they don’t really do well the next day.  Sooo, I won’t make these for Sunday any more, but I sure will use this recipe for other days when I have time to make them for that day.  They were delicious right out of the oven!!  And how cute are they???? They can be baked into regular bread sticks if you want to make them other times of the year!

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Coconut Cake

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One tradition that we’ve had for years is Easter sunrise service outside at home.  That was a challenge (and very cold) when we lived in Indiana, but we would don our coats and head to the tree house where we would have our own Sunrise service!  Then we would come inside and have Cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs.  Now that it’s just my husband and me, we simply eat breakfast on the patio and read Scripture together.  It’s usually warm enough that we don’t shiver, thank the Lord!  Here’s what we had yesterday:

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We had Fresh farm eggs, Prosciutto, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Fresh fruit and Coffee.
It was a great way to start Easter Sunday!  This is a reminder that traditions aren’t just for when your kids are at home.  Keep those traditions going even when they’re gone.  It will continue to build strong home ties, and will also give your grown kids the security of knowing that you’re still making the most of your marriage!

So, another Easter dinner is in the (memory) books, and I’ll have to say, it’s a memorable chapter!  I thank the Lord for the blessing of celebrating our Savior’s life and getting to do it at church AND at home around the Sunday dinner table.

Did you have Easter dinner?  Did you cook?  What made it special for your family?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Successful Sunday Dinner Finale

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Today is the last post for Successful Sunday dinner.  I will continue to share my recipes and what I served at my house, but as far as the 1,2,3’s, we’re going to wrap it up and get you ready to dive into that great Sunday meal for your family!

Remember that if it’s your desire to make Sunday dinner special at your house, it’s going to take some intentional effort and planning. Here were the three crucial steps before getting the meal going:

  1. Ponder the needs –

  2. Plan the menu 

  3. Prepare ahead

  • Ponder the needs -Consider any allergies or health concerns, like diabetes.
  • Plan the menu around those needs, your time and budget.  Typically if I’m making a main dish or a bread that requires lots of time, I’ll make another part of the meal easier to prepare.
  • Prepare ahead by doing everything you can on Saturday (or before).  It will lessen your stress level!
    • Set the table
    • Chop all veggies
    • Marinate meat
    • Prepare the salad
    • Prepare the dessert
    • Get the side dishes started

Let me give you a little rundown on how my week may look when I’m hosting a typical Sunday dinner…

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Early in the week – 

Wednesday – 

  • Make Rolls and freeze
  • Check to see if tablecloth or napkins need ironing

Saturday – 

  • Prep chicken dish and  go ahead and bake it.  All it needs on Sunday is to be warmed up. I wouldn’t leave this dish in the oven during church – it would dry out.
  • Peel potatoes and place in water overnight
  • Cut up apples for salad and place in lemon juice/water mixture overnight
  • Make Vinaigrette for salad
  • Wash and slice strawberries
  • Make tea
  • Set table
  • Set out serving dishes

Sunday – Before church

  • Mix salad ingredients, except dressing
  • Put potatoes in crock pot, turn on high
  • Set rolls out to rise

Sunday – After church

  • Set out a light snack for guests, if needed
  • Warm chicken either in a large pan on the stove or in the microwave on a med setting.
  • Prep asparagus for roasting
  • Mash potatoes and keep warm
  • Bake rolls – Keep warm
  • Roast asparagus
  • Put into serving dishes

Enjoy the meal!!!

Serve dessert and then pray someone volunteers to help with the dishes!

I hope this series has helped you to see that you CAN make Sunday dinner something special and memorable.  Start out small and work your way into more complicated menus.  Do what you feel comfortable with and keep trying to improve your game plan.

 

Remember that the most important ingredient of any meal is THE PEOPLE!  Don’t make it about you and your inadequacies.  Make them feel welcome and important and they will love their time around your Sunday dinner table!

Is there an unanswered question that you have?  I’d be happy to address it!  Leave me a comment here and I promise to answer you!

Let’s eat!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

 

Easy Entertaining Menu

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Entertaining at any season can be overwhelming, but especially so at Christmas, right?  I came up with an entertaining menu that can be made completely ahead of time and simply warmed up when ready to serve.  This is a Mexican Food feast that is delicious and stress-free!  Talk about simplifying things – this will do just that when you invite folks over!

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Avocado Salsa

Spanish Rice

Refried Beans

Coffee Pie

spiced-pork

Spiced Pork Tenderloin Tacos

  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive

Preheat the oven to 375°. Set the tenderloin on a large rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix the smoked paprika with the cumin, garlic powder, oregano and cinnamon. Rub the pork with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the pork. Roast the tenderloin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the centers registers 145°. Transfer the tenderloins to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Using two forks, shred the tenderloin for tacos.

Salsa Ingredients

  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Warm tortillas, for serving

For Salsa:

In a medium bowl, mix the onion with the red wine vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the tomato, avocado, chipotle, oregano and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss gently. Fill warm tortillas with the sliced pork, top with the salsa and serve.

spanishrice

The Spanish Rice is every bit as easy as a boxed brand but even tastier!  You may already have every ingredient in your pantry for this recipe!

Spanish Rice

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

refried-beans

Refried beans are not the most beautiful dish to photograph, but when they’re made from scratch, they are a beautiful thing! This recipe is so delicious.  Here’s how I made mine using the crock pot to simplify the recipe:

Refried Beans
(I halved the recipe and it made plenty for 6-8)

6 cups dried pinto beans
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch slices (or you can use salt pork, ham hock or diced ham instead)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more if needed
1/2 stick butter
1 onion, diced
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
Sliced jarred jalapenos

Put beans in a pot of water and let sit overnight.  In the morning, cook beans at medium-high temp until boiling.  Add 2 tsp baking soda.  Cook for 2 minutes. (This releases the gases in the beans and will keep tummies from feeling like they’ve eaten beans!)  Drain off water, rinse and place beans and bacon in a crock pot with enough water to cover.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.  Simmer butter and cook onion until tender.  Add the beans and liquid into a cast iron skillet, along with seasonings.  Cook until the sauce thickens and beans are tender.  Mash with potato masher until some beans still remain whole.  Serve with Cheddar cheese and Jalapenos.

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Coffee Pie

1 Cup Water
1 tlb instant coffee granules
30 Large marshmallows
1/2 Cup walnuts
1 cup Whipping Cream
Cool Whip
Chopped Coffee Beans or Mini Chocolate Chips
Baked pie Shell

Bake Pie shell.  Let cool.
In a medium sauce pan, boil water.  Add coffee granules and marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted.  Let cool completely.

Whip the whipping cream.  Fold into cooled coffee mixture.  Pour into bake pie shell.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Cover with Cool Whip and Coffee beans or Chocolate chips.  Serve (with coffee!)

Take the stress out of entertaining and make a menu like this one that can all be prepared ahead of time!  My guests enjoyed it, and if you invite people that love Mexican food, they’ll be really glad you invited them over!

Happy entertaining!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Summer Luncheon ~ Salmon Croquettes

A couple weeks ago while visiting my family in Kentucky, my sister had my parents and me over for a summery lunch.  Everything was so delicious, and I promised I would get her recipe for the Salmon Croquettes for you all.  Today’s the day!

This is a great meal – it’s healthy, it’s economical, and it’s so yummy!  These are all things you could keep on hand for a busy night when you need supper in a hurry.  I chop up fresh red peppers and keep them in the freezer for recipes like this.  Why not plan on making this one night this week?

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Salmon Croquettes & Mayo/Herb Topping

WHAT YOU NEED:

15 oz skinless, boneless pink salmon (I used Kirkland brand from Costco)

½ cup panko crumbs

½ cup finely chopped red sweet pepper

½ cup finely chopped green onions

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 TBL mayo

1 TBL yellow mustard

Topping:

½ cup mayo

3 TBL finely chopped fresh parsley

1 TBL fresh lemon juice

1 tsp bottled hot pepper sauce

  1. Mix topping ingredients.  Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  2. In a medium bowl combine salmon, bread crumbs, sweet pepper, green onions, egg, 2 TBL mayo, and mustard.  Shape into eight 2 ½ inch patties.  (about 1/3 cup each)
  3. Coat a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat.  Add patties, cook 4-5 minutes or until browned. Spray the tops with cooking spray before flipping.   Continue cooking 4-5 minutes or until cooked through.  (160 degrees F)
  4. Place patties on a platter with a dollop of the mayo topping.

Her potato Salad tasted like something purchased in a nice deli!  This was a great addition to the Salmon!

POTATO SALAD

8 medium red potatoes

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup chopped green onion tops

1 cup chopped celery

3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

¼ cup diced pimento

1 TBL Dijon mustard

1 cup mayo

¼ cup sour cream

salt and pepper to taste.

1 TBL seasoned salt

Wash and cube potatoes, leaving skin on.  Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until tender.  Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients and gently fold into potato mixture.

Now, let me end this post with a fun and delicious way to have the taste of S’mores but with a little twist!  Pictured below is what we call Waffle Cone S’Mores:

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Take all the ingredients you would like to melt and roast together, add it to the inside of sugar cone or waffle cone. We have found that a good combination is chocolate, marshmallows and strawberries.  Fruit really adds the “over-the-top” edge!  The mini Reeses cups makes the perfect little cap at the top of the cone, and when it melts…wow!

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Pack it deep inside the cone, wrap in foil and set it on the grate over a fire or grill.  Try to wait patiently for everything to melt together – about 10 minutes.  Unwrap and enjoy!

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These are the kinds of treats summer was intended for!  Plus you have the fun of the fire, everyone standing around making their own dessert, laughing, munching and enjoying the summer evening.  What fun!

I hope you’ll put some part of this on your menu soon.  What a great recipe for your family, and one special enough for entertaining with as well!

With love from my country kitchen,