Strawberry Fields Salad

strawberry fields salad5558

Strawberry Fields Salad

Whereas most people think of strawberries as desserts, these juicy berries can add a delicious sweetness to a savory dish. This fresh and bright salad has the perfect combination of tastes and textures. Each element of the combination … the sweetness from the fruit, tartness from the baby lettuces, saltiness from the cheese, and crunch from the nuts … compliments the others.

The blush wine vinaigrette is a homemade version of a popular store-bought dressing. Making homemade dressings is very simple since most dressings, like this one, use ingredients most people already have in their pantry. Don’t be surprised if you prefer homemade versions of dressings better than their grocery store counterparts. This one for example has a brighter flavor (thanks to the freshly squeezed lemon juice), has no preservatives or MSG, and costs so much less than the bottled original.

Add sliced chicken or a salmon filet and you have a complete meal.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Fields Salad

For the blush wine vinaigrette:
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
5 tbsp. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
6 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
2/3 cup green or red grapes, halved
3 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the blush wine vinaigrette:
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Slowly add the oil in a stream, whisking to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:
In a large salad bowl toss together the salad blend, strawberries, grapes, chives, almond slices, and crumbled goat cheese. Add the dressing to taste and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 6 appetizer or side salads.

Cooking Tip: Mix and match this colorful salad using your favorite ingredients. Try substituting spinach or dried cranberries. Goat cheese is also a nice substitute for the blue cheese.

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks.

Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

 

Banana Pudding Pie

Banana Pudding Pie

Banana Pudding Pie

As all good true Southerners, I love pie and banana pudding!

I came up with this yummy dessert to marry together two of my favorite sweet treats into one perfect concoction!

Think you’ll agree … it’s a marriage made in Heaven!

Enjoy!

Banana Pudding Pie

For the crust:
2 cups vanilla wafer cookies, plus extra for the pie garnish
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature 

For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

For the whipped cream topping:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup granulated or powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

To make the crust: In a food processor, finely grind the cookies. Add the sugar and pulse until combined. Slowly add the butter and pulse until well incorporated and forms moist clumps. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the crust evenly into the bottom and up the side. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Over medium heat, cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer a large mixing bowl. Transfer to the refrigerator and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Spoon 1/2 of the cooled pudding evenly over the bottom of the crust. Create a layer of banana slices, reserving some for garnish. Spoon the remaining pudding evenly over the bananas. Place the pie in the refrigerator to set while making the whipped cream topping.

To make the topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spoon or use a pastry bag to pipe the whipped cream evenly over the pie filling. Chill the pie until set, at least 4 hours. Before serving, garnish with the remaining banana slices and extra vanilla wafer cookies.

Serves 8.

Do-Ahead: You can make and refrigerate this crust and the pie filling the day before. Add the whipped cream and garnishes the day of.

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.

 

BBQ Baked Beans

Baked Beans _0084

BBQ Baked Beans

There is lots of debate of which kind of barbecue is best … ribs versus pulled pork, dry versus wet ribs, who makes the best sauce … but all agree that baked beans are the perfect accompaniment to any type of barbecue.

BBQ baked beans are surprisingly easy to make from scratch and infinitely better than what comes ready-to-serve out of a can.

The main ingredients are common pantry staples you probably already have on hand: beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and yellow mustard.

Vegetables like onions and bell peppers are ways to add more flavor. I like to add a little smokiness to my baked beans and bacon is a simple way to make that happen. The addition of a little pulled pork would make it even better.

As for the beans, you could always soak dry beans but I find using canned beans is a great time saver. I like to use a variety of beans in my BBQ baked bean recipe. This simple twist provides both flavor and color to this classic picnic side.

The key to a good batch of baked beans is to let them slow cook for several hours. The extended cooking time allow the flavors to blend and meld together. Most folks cook them in the oven, but you can also cook them in a slow cooker or even on a grill with the lid closed.

You’ll find these Southern BBQ Baked Beans are the perfect accompaniment to so many dishes traditionally served during this summer. So remember this recipe not just when making barbecue, but also when grilling chicken, burgers or serving a crowd.

Enjoy!

BBQ Baked Beans

1/2 pound bacon (about 10 slices), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1 can (15-ounce) black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-ounce) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-ounce) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions and peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the black eyed peas, red kidney beans, pinto beans, barbecue sauce, cider vinegar, yellow mustard, and brown sugar. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and place in the oven. Cook until the beans are fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Variation: Want a traditional BBQ baked bean dish? Just use three cans of kidney beans instead of the various types listed in this recipe.

Recipe from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler

Photo by Justin Fox Burks

Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler

Grilled Corn and Green Bean Salad

Grilled Corn and Green Bean Salad_0921

 

Grilled Corn and Green Bean Salad 

This easy summer side dish is a great addition to any backyard barbecue. I like to make this colorful and chilled side dish ahead of time so I am free to enjoy time with my guests.

Enjoy!

Grilled Corn and Green Bean Salad

Vegetable oil, for the grates
4 large ears corn, shucked
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound green beans, trimmed, boiled until crisp-tender, and cooled
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (1/2 small onion)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Preheat a clean grill to medium-high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.

Brush the corn with the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the corn on the grill. Close the lid and cook the corn, turning occasionally, until just tender and slightly charred on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the corn to a cutting board to cool.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to carefully slice the kernels off the cob; discard the cob. Place the kernels in a large bowl. Add the beans, tomatoes, and onion.

In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and oil until well combined. Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss to coat. Add the goat cheese and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cooking Tip: Blanching is a culinary term for cooking a vegetable until it is just crisp-tender. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the vegetable and cook until vibrant green and crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Do-Ahead: The vegetables and dressing can be prepped the night before. Toss all the ingredients together before serving.

Variation: Feta cheese would be a delicious substitute for the goat cheese in this salad.

From Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler

Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler

Photo by Justin Fox Burks

 

Pork Souvlaki

Pork Soulvaki6093

Pork Souvlaki

Easy to make and always delicious, kabobs are the perfect way to serve up a dinner hot off the grill. For a little something different, try the traditional Greek kabob pork souvlaki. In this recipe that is simpler than it sounds, a lemony marinade transforms ordinary pork tenderloin into a traditional Greek dish with a bright and fresh flavor that is truly delicious.

The classic Greek ingredients of oregano, lemon, and garlic give these grilled pork kabobs their signature flavor. Even though this marinade is made with simple ingredients, it infuses loads of flavor into the meat because of the large amount of acid from the lemon juice. Typically there is a general rule not to marinate meat with so much acid for too long, but from my experience, letting the pork marinate overnight just makes it all the more better. If short on time, you will still get delicious results by marinating the pork for less time. That said, allow the pork to marinate at least a minimum of one hour before cooking.

Kabobs make an easy weeknight meal since they can be prepared in advance and thrown on the grill when you are ready. As an added bonus, these smaller cuts of meat cook quickly. I prefer to use metal skewers when grilling kabobs because they are no fuss. If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes prior to using to prevent the wood from burning.

Traditionally pork souvlaki is served wrapped in pita bread and then topped with a variety of condiments such as lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. Instead of this classic pita sandwich version, I often serve these kabobs as a main course over a bed of basmati rice with a small Greek salad and some grilled pita on the side.

Cook them on an outdoor grill or indoors on a grill pan, depending on what’s easier for you.

Enjoy!

Pork Souvlaki

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Vegetable oil, for the grates
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Skewers (if using bamboo, soak in water for 30 minutes)

In a shallow nonreactive dish just large enough to hold the pork in a single layer, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, and garlic. Place the pork in the marinade and gently toss until well coated. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight.

Preheat a clean grill to medium-high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.

Remove the pork from the marinade and shake off the excess. Discard the marinade. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Thread the pork cubes onto a skewer.

Place the skewers on the grill. Close the lid and cook, turning once or twice, until they are well browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 to 12 minutes total.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: Tzatziki is a cucumber-yogurt sauce that is traditionally served alongside Greek dishes. To make this condiment, combine 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup finely diced cucumber, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill.

Recipe from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup copy

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup is the Southwestern cousin of mom’s chicken noodle soup, just with a little more kick and a crunchy topping. And, like it’s relative, it warms the soul and makes you feel good all over.

This quick, no-fuss soup has loads of flavor and uses ingredients that are typically on hand. The soup doesn’t take long to make. In fact, it can be on your table in less than 30 minutes. It’s also an ideal way to transform leftover chicken into a tasty and satisfying dish.  It has become a favorite in my house since my good friend Melissa Petersen of Edible Memphis shared this recipe with me.

Much healthier than it tastes, this broth based soup is loaded with tomatoes, lean chicken, and heart healthy avocado. The cumin and oregano add a richness and depth to the dish without any fat. If you want a little extra kick, add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

I like to top mine with a few homemade corn tortilla strips, which are surprisingly easy to make. Just cut corn tortillas into thin strips and fry for about 1 minute in a skillet with vegetable oil. If short on time, use crushed tortilla chips instead. Baked tortilla chips would be a heart-healthy alternative.

Serve with a side salad or a slice of cornbread and you have a satisfying meal.

Enjoy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Vegetable oil, for frying the tortillas
4 small (4-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 can (28-oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

To prepare the tortilla strips, pour enough oil into a large stockpot so that you have a quarter-inch layer of oil. Warm the oil on medium-high heat until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. In batches, fry the tortilla strips until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Use metal tongs or a slotted spoon to lift the tortilla strips out of the pan, draining the excess oil as you do so. (The tortilla strips should be fairly stiff and crisp. If not, the oil is not hot enough.) Transfer the tortilla strips to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper while they are still warm.

In another large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and shredded chicken. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the flavors have melded, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the fried tortilla strips, cheese, avocado, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Do-Ahead: The soup can be made the night before or frozen in advance. Just be sure to add the garnishes (tortilla strips, cheese, and avocado) just before serving.

Freezes well.

 

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Story excerpted from Jennifer Chandler’s bi-weeky Commercial Appeal newspaper column Dinner Tonight.

Photo and Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

 

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

A decadently creamy Alfredo sauce is probably the quickest and easiest pasta sauce to whip up. Made simply of butter, Parmesan cheese, and heavy cream, a homemade version of this sauce is infinitely better than anything you could buy pre-made at the store.

This popular sauce was invented by Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio back in 1914.  He added Parmesan to a classic butter sauce in an attempt to create a dish that would be appetizing to his pregnant wife.  Little did he know that this simple three ingredient sauce would become a classic in the United States thanks to Hollywood actors like Douglas Fairbanks that frequented his restaurant.

Since the sauce is made of just three ingredients, it is important to use high-quality components.  Never use margarine or a butter substitute.  Also, look for a wedge of a good Parmesan in your deli department. Pre-grated cheese won’t give you as flavorful as sauce or melt as smoothly.

I like to add a touch of freshly ground nutmeg to all my cream sauces. It’s a trick I learned in culinary school in France.  The nutmeg adds another layer of flavor to a dish. A dish is fine without it, but a little can add that special touch to the end result. The trick is to always use freshly grated nutmeg and never use the powdered version.

Serve Alfredo sauce plain over your favorite pasta or dress it up with sautéed shrimp and mushrooms like I do in this version. Chicken could easily be substituted for the shrimp if you are not a seafood fan.

Shrimp Alfredo

For the Alfredo Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound medium shrimp (30/40 count), peeled and deveined
1 box (1 pound/16-ounce) fettuccine, cooked per package directions and kept warm
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make the Alfredo sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream and butter to a boil. As soon as it boils, stir in the Parmesan cheese and cook until melted. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

To assemble the pasta: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and they become slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté until cooked through, about 4 minutes.In a large mixing bowl toss together the warm pasta, the Alfredo sauce, and the shrimp mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

 

 

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Story excerpted from Jennifer Chandler’s bi-weeky Commercial Appeal newspaper column Dinner Tonight.

Photo and Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.


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