French ‘n Feta Pasta Salad

Why should mayonnaise or Italian dressing or vinaigrettes have all the fun with pasta salad?

Loosely based on my old fave retro Jardinière Salad, but without the Kraft Dinner or, in fact, the mayonnaise, this features a combination of French dressings – Catalina-style (as in the Jardinière) and creamy (y’know, the orange one?) come together with ditalini pasta, feta cheese, and a few other tasty additions to make for a fine pasta salad!

INGREDIENTS
•8 oz ditalini pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed*
•1/3 cup Catalina dressing
•1/3 cup French dressing
•1/4 cup diced red onion
•1/4 cup sliced black olives
•1/4 cup sliced peperoncini
•1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp Black pepper
•Chopped fresh parsley

*Yes! You DO rinse cooked pasta when using it in a salad.

Note: next time I make this, I plan on upping the amount of salad dressings used from 1/3 cup each to 1/2 cup each.

Stir the French dressings into the cooked, drained, and rinsed pasta in a bowl and, if possible, cover and let rest in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight. This will allow the pasta to absorb some of the excess dressing (and the flavor!).

Stir the remaining ingredients into the cooled pasta and serve.

Or…

Cover again and stash in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Nice just as it is, but do think about increasing the amount(s) of dressings used; and feel free to add any other ingredients you especially like.

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Apple and Cheddar Waffles

It was breakfast for dinner with apple and Cheddar waffles and blueberry sausages with Dijon mustard and maple syrup spread!

And…

It was all delicious!

The waffles were a new (to me recipe) that I adapted from the nice folk at Food Network; I mean, do I really need to buy self-rising flour when I can just make it?

I thought no

Also, the addition of my fave hot sauce and black pepper was a given, so why even bother to wonder?

First, a thing about mustard… the original recipe called for grainy mustard, and I swapped out this – very zippy Dijon from Trader Joe’s with excellent results. And no, the folk at TJ’s do not pay me to say this, or to plug their product. It is just my .

INGREDIENTS
Self-Rising Flour:
•2 cups flour
•1 tbsp baking powder
•1/2 tsp salt

Maple Mustard:
•1/3 cup maple syrup
•1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Waffles:
•2 cups self-rising flour
•1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled •1 1/2 cups milk
•2 large eggs
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your own fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
•1 Gala apple, finely chopped
•1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
•Cook spray

Preheat your oven to “keep warm” – or 225º to 250º if it has those settings.

Whisk together the self-rising flour ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and slightly cooled melted butter to blend well, then stir in the flour and confectioners’ sugar to moisten.

Stir in the chopped apple and grated cheese until well mixed.

Whisk the maple syrup into the mustard in a small container and set aside.

Note: it is quite good, so feel free to double the recipe for use on sammiches and burgers and stuff.

Apply cooking spray to your waffle iron and heat according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Ladle the batter over the heated waffle iron, spreading to cover the surface.

Note: I find that a crêpe paddle works a treat for spreading even when using such a thick batter as this.

Close the waffle iron and cook for five to seven minutes, until the waffles are nicely browned and crisped.

Yeh, I know that my waffles are a bit “rough” around the edges. You want perfection, go to a waffle place.

Remove the waffles and stash in the oven to keep warm while you repeat with the remaining batter.

I ended up with about a dozen waffles (rough edges and all), and no one really minded a bit.

Oh, and those breakfast sausages?

I heated my air fryer to 400º, arranged ’em in a single layer in the basket and cooked ’em for five minutes before turning them over and cooking for another five minutes.

Perfection.

 

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Gluten-Free – and Baked! – Buffalo Wings

Yep.

You read that correctly.

Not only are these Buffalo Wings gluten-free, thanks to the use of coconut flour; they are also baked, using just two tablespoons of olive oil for 20 wings!

Of course, that stick of Irish butter in the sauce, and the Bleu Cheese Dressing for dipping are both gonna bring back all of the fat saved; but, hey, we tried, right?

INGREDIENTS
Chicken Wings:
•1 packet chicken wings
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp onion powder
•1 tbsp coconut flour
•1 tbsp olive oil (peanut oil is nice, too)

Note: for this batch, I used 2 packets of chicken wings, about 20 in all; so for two packets, I mix up two batches of the wing seasonings and bread each batch separately.

Buffalo Sauce:
•1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
•1/3 cup Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
•1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat your oven to 400º and line a rimmed baking pan with foil.

Fit a baking rack into the pan and apply cooking spray.

Add all of the seasonings (except for the oil) to a gallon sized zipper bag, close, and shake to mix well.

Add one packet of chicken wings, shake to coat, then add the oil and, again, shake to more or less evenly coat all of the wings.

Arrange in a single layer on the prepared rack, then repeat with the seasonings and oil for each packet of wings you are using.

Pop into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

While the wings are baking, make the sauce by adding all the ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat and stirring until the butter is melted and the sauce is nicely blended together. Set aside and keep warm.

Note: this will be plenty of sauce for two packets (about 20 total) of wings.

Pull the wings out of the oven and transfer to a large bowl.

Pour the sauce over the wings, toss to coat well, then arrange in a single layer back on the rack in the baking pan and pop back into the oven for another ten minutes or so.

Remove from the oven and serve. We like Blue Cheese Dressing, but ranch’ll work a treat, too.

I also served these with celery (traditional) and air fried toasted buffalo chicken ravioli from the freezer case at Jewel (not traditional or gluten-free, but still nice).

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Fractured Tacos – With Turkey!

This casserole, another recipe from my Aunt Buzz, is the perfect accompaniment to yesterday’s Lime, Horseradish, and Pineapple Salad, and was a pretty huge hit as a family Sunday lunch; so much so that both sisters-in-law asked for the recipe.

Good thing it is so easy to toss together, and flexible. Aunt Buzz made hers pretty exclusively with ground beef, but ground chicken or turkey works a treat, too; and, since I sneak in shredded cabbage, everyone is getting plenty of veggies!

INGREDIENTS
Casserole:
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 lb ground turkey
•1 cup diced onion
•1 or 2 cups coleslaw mix
•1 pkg taco seasoning mix
•3/4 cup water
•2 tbsp Catalina salad dressing
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles, drained
•Shredded Mexican blend cheese
•Sliced grape tomatoes
•Crushed tortilla chips

Toppings:
•Shredded lettuce
•Avocado
•Diced onion
•Ranch dressing
•Sour cream

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the ground turkey, onion, and coleslaw mix.

Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the turkey is cooked through and the onion and coleslaw mix are tender.

Stir in the water taco seasoning, Catalina dressing, Sherry Peppers Sauce, hot sauce, and green chiles and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the pan liquids have been cooked off.

Apply cooking spray to a 2-1/2 quart casserole and heat your oven to 350º.

Need to make a smaller casserole? No problem! Simply cool and stash 1/2 of the taco meat mixture in a freezer bag to save for another time and proceed with an 8×8 baking pan. Thanks, by the way, to my sister-in-law Carole for making me realize this simple recipe hack.

Spread the taco meat mixture evenly over the bottom of your casserole and top with a layer of shredded cheese.

Top this with a layer of sliced grape tomatoes, and with the crushed tortilla chips to cover.

Note: to make this casserole gluten-free, check that your tortilla chips are labelled gluten-free; a lot of them are. Otherwise, Doritos Cool Ranch are a nice option.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the casserole is warmed through and the cheese is melted.

Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Serve with that lovely lime horseradish salad on the side and top with shredded lettuce, avocado, onion, ranch dressing and/or sour cream.

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Lime, Horseradish, and Pineapple Salad

Let’s make a Jello salad!

Wait…

Where’d everybody go?

I know. I know. Jello salads have a bad reputation – and deservedly so, in many cases – but this! This is (and deserves to be) an exception!

Yes, the flavors are, at first, an odd mix, but you will not believe how perfectly this cool,

creamy – but zippy! – salad goes with tacos. Or, indeed, the Fractured Taco Casserole I served family – some of whom are wicked picky – the other weekend. Even one of my pickiest in-laws, who admitted that I could easily skip bringing this to any future family gathering finished her serving (yeh, it was small, but still!).

So… lemon jello. Lime jello. Crushed pineapple. Cottage cheese.

We’re all good, if a bit boring so far, right?

Now… we go in for the kill with the addition of prepared horseradish!

Mama Stamburg would approve.*

*Regular NPR listeners will know what I am talking about.

Note: a jello mold is ideal for this salad, but you can get the same, if less fancy, results with a bowl.

INGREDIENTS
•1 small box lemon jello
•1 small box lime jello
•2 cups water
•1 cup mayonnaise
•1 cup cottage cheese
•20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
•1/4 cup horseradish
•1/8 tsp salt

Note: if you like, you can up the horseradish to 1/2 cup. My original recipe, from my Aunt Buzz, only called for two tablespoons of horseradish, and I think 1/4 cup (four tablespoons) is a nice update; while friends with spicier palates think that 1/2 cup would be ideal.

To make the salad, stir the lemon and lime jello into two cups of boiling water until dissolved, then set aside to cool and thicken a bit on the counter for one hour.

This is the perfect time to well and truly drain your crushed pineapple!

After an hour, add the mayonnaise, cottage cheese, horseradish, well and truly drained pineapple, and salt to your blender and pulse until blended and smooth.

Add the cooled and slightly thickened jello and blend again until nicely mixed and pale green – think pistachio ice cream.

Pour into a bowl or mold, cover, and stash in the fridge for at least two hours or – always more better – overnight to set.

Note: if you are using a Tupperware-type mold, as I did, place the mold on a rimmed plate before stashing in the fridge – this’ll save you from mopping up any leakage before the salad has set.

When ready to serve, uncover the mold (or bowl) and set in a large bowl of warm water for a couple of minutes to loosen before inverting onto a serving plate.

Hint: with my mold, I found it useful to loosen the edges with a butter knife.

Slice and serve.

My Aunt Buzz always offered this along side her Fractured Taco Casserole and still today, decades later, I cannot imagine a better accompaniment.

Oh, and that casserole?

I have already posted it, but will feature it again, tomorrow, with ground turkey.

Thanks again, Aunt Buzz!

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Red Velvet Coca Cola Cake

And to think, this cake almost didn’t happen.

A big chunk of family was coming, some last minute, for the weekend and, while I had the meals pretty well planned, and fruit and bakery cookies and other munchies all in stock; something was telling me I might want to make a cake.

So, I grabbed a red velvet cake mix and a bottle of Mexican Coke (it’s made with all sugar) from the pantry and set to work.

Note: Mexican Coke can be found, at least around about here, in glass bottles in the Hispanic Foods aisle in most markets. A lot of markets also carry Mexican versions of Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, and others, too.

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
•1 box red velvet cake mix
•12 oz Coca Cola*

Buttercream Frosting:
•1 cup unsalted butter, softened
•1 tsp vanilla
•1/8 tsp salt
•1/8 tsp black pepper
•3 cups confectioners’ sugar
•2 tbsp whipping cream or half and half

*When I first came across this “cake mix + soda” method, it was recommended to only use ‘regular’ – not lite or diet sodas; but since that time, I have seen posts using both options and, while not my preference, if you want to go that way, let your freak fly.

Heat your oven to 350º (or whatever the directions on your cake mix calls for) and apply cooking spray to your chosen baking pan(s). I went with a 13×9 pan because, large-ish group of family and all that.

Pour the Coke into the cake mix in a large bowl and mix according to package instructions, scraping the bowl as needed.

Note: truly, all you need is the cake mix and the 12 ounces of Coke. Fergettabout the eggs and the oil and whatever else.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan(s) and bake according to the instructions on your cake mix box; about 35 minutes for this 13×9 pan.

When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool on a rack.

Once the cake is cooled, make the frosting by beating the softened butter until creamy, then add the vanilla, salt and pepper.

Note: if you are not using unsalted butter, you can skip the salt; but please consider keeping that bit of black pepper. I think it helps to bring out the flavor in the frosting.

Slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar until well blended, then beat in the cream or half and half until the frosting is the consistency you like for spreading.

Note: feel free to add more confectioners’ sugar and cream or half and half to make more frosting. You could also beat in a bit of softened cream cheese with the butter.

Cake made and frosted, and, good thing too!

The last brother-in-law I would’ve expected to had a piece the night they arrived, and then after just about every meal of the weekend, and most of the rest of the family followed suit, so, this 13×9 cake was well and truly gone in a little over two days.

I like that in a cake.

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Pineapple ‘n Pepper Relish BBQ Sauce – and Ribs!

I am pretty well known for my Barbecue Sauce so, when I make a variation with pineapple juice, Pepper Relish, and a wee, tiny bit of Arby’s Sauce and half the table asks about the sauce, I guess I should start to think about making and canning a variation – the holidaze are coming, after all.

I haven’t got my new caning method worked out for this, but here’s an easy way to make your own; even if you do not have a stash of my barbecue sauce, pepper relish, or Arby’s Sauce in your pantry.

INGREDIENTS
Sauce:
•16 oz Barbecue Sauce
•8 oz Pepper Relish
•6 oz pineapple juice
•2 tbsp Arby’s Sauce

Ribs:
•2 racks pork ribs
•Montreal Steak Seasoning
•Aluminum foil

Note: if you, in fact, don’t have my barbecue sauce, pepper relish, or Arby’s Sauce on hand, go ahead and use the same amount of your fave barbecue sauce. Pepper relish can be found in many well-stocked markets or specialty stores; and, well go ahead and try Heinz 57 or other steak sauce for the Arby’s.

Heat your oven to 350º.

Arrange the racks of ribs in a large roasting pan, like the one you use for your turkey.

No large roasting pan? No Problem! Two 13×9 glass baking pans will work a treat, though you may need to cut the racks in half to fit one flat in each pan.

Season the ribs well with the Montreal Steak Seasoning, then cover the pan(s) tightly with foil and bake for 75 minutes.

While the ribs are baking, go ahead and make the sauce by whisking this ingredients together until nicely blended.

Once the ribs have finished baking, remove from the oven and drain and dispose of any cooking liquids in the pan(s).

At this point, you have a choice…

You can finish your ribs off on the grill, brushing both sides with the sauce until you have a nice crust,

or…

place the ribs, bone-side up in the baking pan(s), brush with some sauce and return to the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Turn the ribs over, brush with more of the sauce, and return to the oven for another 30 minutes, until they are blackened in spots.

Your ribs are tender, tasty, and ready.

For a large gathering, such as the one I made these for, I cut the ribs into various sizes to accommodate the different-sized  appetites around the table.

Served with the Marinated Bean Salad and garlic bread, most everyone was more than happily fed.

And…

if they weren’t, the Coca Cola Red Velvet Cake with Irish Butter cream frosting more than took care of that.

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Marinated Bean Salad

The Washington Post called this “Marinated Pizza Bean Salad” when they published the recipe a few weeks ago and, this does have the bones of a good pizza – the oil, the basil, the garlic, the Mozz, etc.; I didn’t get an overwhelming sense of “PIZZA.”

Just a very, very good salad, that is gonna be on offer at a lot of gatherings from now on.

Of course, I did up the garlic, swapped out one of the cheeses called for with Feta, and added some stuff, but still…

tasty salad!

INGREDIENTS
Marinated Beans:
•1/3 cup olive oil
•1/4 cup red wine vinegar
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
•2 (15 oz) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed

Salad:
•Chopped lettuce (I used a blend)
•Sliced grape tomatoes
•Sautéed asparagus
•Olive oil
•1 shallot, sliced
•6 oz small Mozzarella balls
•1/2 cup Feta cheese chunks
•Chopped fresh basil leaves
•Marcona almonds with rosemary*

*Available at Trader Joe’s.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a medium pan, then stir in the beans.

Bring to a simmer, stirring every now and then, then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly, and stash in the fridge overnight.

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus and cut into one inch slices.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil (garlic infused olive oil is lovely here) in a skillet over medium high heat.

Add the asparagus and sautée for five to ten minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender.

Set aside to cool, then transfer to a covered container and stash in the fridge until it is time to make the salad.

To make the salad ahead; ddd the salad ingredients (without the beans) to a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

If you have room, go ahead and stash in the fridge to crisp until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve, add the beans, with the marinade, to the salad and toss to combine and dress the salad.

Go ahead and enjoy.

I served this at a family gathering and most everyone was very happy with it.

Not, I will admit, as happy as they all were with the ribs I served along with, but, still, there were some picky eaters in that group, so I will take it as a win.

Besides, we both loved the salad, so…

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Pork Tenderloin Wellington

Looking for a pretty darned fast, wicked easy, recipe to make for family on a weekday or, heck, friends at the weekend?

We have you covered with this lovely pork tenderloin with chutney wrapped in puff pastry recipe from Rachael Ray!

Ms. Ray uses Mayor Grey’s Chutney and browns her tenderloin(s) first, but this really works out as well with non-browned tenderloin and most any chutney you have on hand.

For this batch, I used Old Farmhouse Chutney from Stonewall Kitchen because, well, they’d had a sale, and my husband stocked up, and we had some stuff in the pantry that really needed using up.

Still worked a treat.

I also, normally, buy individual pork tenderloins, but, when I pulled this particular packet out of the freezer along with one sheet of puff pastry, I discovered that it was a two pack and decided, because this was, after all, just a weeknight dinner for three, I would wrap both tenderloins in one puff pastry sheet.

Still worked a treat, tho’ I upped the baking time by ten minutes or so from the original.

A note on the puff pastry: I love, Love, LOVE Trader Joe’s frozen French puff pastry; but it is a seasonal item, only available, at least around here, in the fall and through the holidaze.

Note: any brands I mention in any post are ones I like and use. Nobody has offered me anything to mention of use them.

Though… I am open to offers.

Just sayin’

INGREDIENTS
•1 pork tenderloin
•Chutney (your choice)
•Puff pastry sheet, thawed

Heat your oven to 400º and line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

Unroll the thawed pastry on the parchment and spread the chutney more or less evenly to within about an inch of the edges.

Arrange the tenderloin in the middle of the chutney spread pastry, then pull the sides up and over to cover.

Note: again, I tucked two tenderloins into one pastry sheet.

Press the top and the edges together to seal the pastry, and then, this is your choice…

Flip the pastry packet over so that it is seam side down before baking;

or…

just leave it as is for, what I am calling a “more rustic appearance.”

pop into the hot oven and bake for 25 minutes – though, recall, I have two tenderloins in that packet, so I gave it 35 minutes – until the dough is a lovely, deep golden brown.

How pretty is that? Tasty, too.

Allow to rest for five minutes after removing from the oven before using a serrated knife to slice, then serve as you will.

Cheesy Ranch Broccoli made a nice side.

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Cheesy Ranch Broccoli

OK, so mebbe this should be called “Cheezzzy” Ranch Broccoli, since I used my Cheezzz; but if you don’t feel like making your own, wonderfully melty cheese, go ahead and use Velveeta.

A big bag of frozen broccoli florets, thawed, makes this whole side come together with minimal fuss and next to no fuss – you just bake (or ‘wave) the broccoli, and then make the Cheesy Ranch sauce in the ‘wave, pour it over the broccoli and serve to pretty much universal acclaim.

INGREDIENTS
•1 bag frozen broccoli, thawed
•1/2 cup milk
•1 cup Velveeta, cubed
•1/4 cup ranch dressing (not the mix)
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper

Note: if you plan to ‘wave the broccoli, just tumble the frozen bag into a ‘wave safe casserole with a lid and cook, covered for five to six minutes, until cooked.

Set aside covered while you make the cheese sauce.

Make the cheese sauce by ‘waving the cheese cubes for 30 seconds, until the cheese is softened.

Whisk the milk, ranch dressing, Seasoned Salt and peppers into the cheese until smooth and pour over the thawed broccoli in a two quart baking dish.

Or, stir into the ‘waved broccoli and serve.

Stir until evenly mixed, then pop into a 350º oven and bake for 30 minutes.

If you want to bake your broccoli, thaw completely, then place in a two quart baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 350º.

That is it; all in the ‘wave or ‘wave and oven combo, this is a holidaze worthy side dish that you can enjoy any time.

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