Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

This is the perfect side for your next BBQ.

YIELDS: 8

PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 10 MINS

TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 30 MINS

 

 

INGREDIENTS 

FOR THE PASTA SALAD

1 lb. penne

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. garlic powder

Kosher salt

2 c. chopped romaine lettuce

1 c. halved grape tomatoes

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 c. croutons

2/3 c. Caesar dressing

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley 

Freshly ground black pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook penne according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer to large bowl. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Season chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt. Cook until golden and cooked through, 8 minutes per side. Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into 1″ pieces. 

Add romaine, tomatoes, Parmesan, croutons, and chicken to pasta bowl. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together Caesar dressing, lemon juice, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Pour over penne mixture and toss to combine. 


Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
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4th of July Brie

4th of July Brie

We used a BIG wheel of brie for this video, which can be very expensive. You can get away with something about (or a little over) half the size. A little bit of brie goes a long way.

YIELDS: 8 SERVINGS       PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 15 MINS      TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 40 MINS

INGREDIENTS

1 (35-oz.) wheel brie
6 strawberries, tops removed and sliced
1/2 c. blueberries
1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. honey
Graham crackers, for dipping

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut off the top rind of brie then place brie in a skillet about its same size. Bake until brie is bubbling and totally melted throughout, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place strawberries and blueberries in separate medium bowls. Divide orange juice and honey evenly between each bowl and toss to combine. When brie is ready, arrange fruit in the pattern of the American flag. Serve immediately, with graham crackers for dipping.


4th of July Brie
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8 SERVINGS
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8 SERVINGS
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Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifle

Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifle

Looking for something special for your Father’s Day dessert?  Try these Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifles.

In case you are wondering exactly what a Trifle is well it’s a British dessert that’s made with layers of sponge cake, custard, fruit, and cream.  In other words it’s very similar to a parfait meaning that it’s layers of cake, fruit, and cream.

Trifles can be single serve like your parfaits or they can be done in a large trifle bowl.  Either way they look elegant and of course are delicious.  They really impress your friends and family!

I prefer individual trifles specially you’ve your serving it to company.  Packaged in clear individual cups, by the way you can use clear plastic cups for large dinner parties, they look very impressive.

Although it looks impressive they are pretty simple to make.  Seriously you can use store bought cake, berries, and whipped cream!  But I prefer to use my homemade Madelienes, homemade Mascarpone Cream (recipe below), Riesling Marinated Strawberries, topped with whipped cream (homemade or store bought).  All my ingredients, except homemade whipped cream, can be made in advance so all you have to do just before serving is to put everything together.

My Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifles are a family favorite.  It’s also a go to when we have dinner guests over, everyone loves them!  But before you can put them together gather your ingredients and put it all together just before serving, you don’t want the cake part too soggy.

Ingredients:

Lady Fingers, Madelienes (Click here for my recipe), Sponge Cake, or Pound Cake – you can use any of these cakes; store bought or home made.

Mascarpone Cream (recipe below)

Riesling Marinated Strawberries (Click here for my recipe)

Whipped Cream (homemade or store bought)

Fresh Mint Leaf for garnish if you want

Directions:

Cut Lady Fingers or Madelienes in halves width wise or if using cakes cut them into cubes.

Place 2-3 pieces of the cake you are using into a wine glass or clear plastic tumbler.

Place a Tablespoon of Mascarpone Cream on top of the cake.

Spoon about a Tablespoon of Marinated Strawberries over the cream, make sure you spoon enough of the liquid so that it gets to the cake at the bottom.

Repeat with another each layer of cake, Mascarpone Cream, and Marinated Strawberries.

Top with whipped cream, place one or two slices of Marinated strawberries or a slice of Lady Finger or Madeliene on top of whipped cream.

Drizzle with some of the liquid from the strawberry marinade.  Add a mint leaf if desired for garnish.

Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Mascarpone Chease

1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1/4 Cup Sugar

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Whip until soft peaks form.

Refrigerate  until ready to use.

Mini Strawberries & Cream Trifle
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Sweet Potato Pie – Old Fashioned Comfort Food

Every year at Thanksgsweet potato pieiving I like to try something new to add to our Thanksgiving dinner menu.  If we like it then it becomes a permanent addition to our traditional meal.

This year my grandson Dion and I decided to try our had at a Southern Thanksgiving meal staple, Sweet Potato Pie.  I’ve never actually had Sweet Potato Pie, but Dion loves it.  He says it’s his favorite pie, specially the way his grandmother from Atlanta makes it.

Sweet Potato Pie is a Southern specialty that can be served instead of or beside the traditional Pumpkin Pie which graces just about everyone’s Thanksgiving dessert table.

So we searched online for a Sweet Potato Pie recipe; we found hundreds!  Each one touting that it was the best of course.  Well we experimented with a couple of different recipes and relied on Dion’s recollections of watching his Southern grandma make her pies.  In the end by tweaking and patching several recipes together we ended up with our own version which turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

We’ll share our version of Sweet Potato Pie below, but before we do here are a few things we learned along the way.  It might help you out and save you from making the same mistakes we made.

  1.  Use fresh yams!  Not canned yams preserved in sweet syrup!  Don’t get me started on this, just ask yourself, would your granny use canned yams?  I doubt it!
  2. Use Large RED Yams.  Not white yams, or purple yams, or Okinawan sweet potato.  Just plain old Red Yams!  And before you ask, yes there are many varieties of yams and sweet potatoes in the markets.  So don’t get fancy, keep it simple, RED Yams.
  3. Bake your yams DO NOT boil them!  This saves you from peeling and chopping raw yams.  BTW have you ever tried peeling and chopping raw yams or sweet potatoes?  No?  Well let me tell you peeling and chopping wood might just be easier!  Most importantly baked yams make a better pie filling, it’s not mushy or watery like boiled yams can be.  And you can bake yams for your Sweet Potato Pie up to a week before you actually make your pie.  Still not convinced or it sounds too tedious?  Remember even though it takes an hour to bake the yams it’s actually a hands off hour so you can do something else like making applesauce, doing laundry, or relaxing in the tub.
  4. Baking yams – Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you’re ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.
  5. Just like Pumpkin and pecan pies, a Sweet Potato Pie is considered a custard pie; hence it must have some form of milk or cream.  There are recipes out there that call for milk, cream, or half-and-half; but since it’s a truly Southern specialty you should use canned evaporated milk.  That’s what they used in the Southern states.  Trust me on this you’ll end up with a creamier and smoother Sweet Potato Pie when you use canned evaporated milk.
  6. When you bake your pie pay close attention to the timer.  Test pie before removing from oven.  First nudge the pie – the center of the pie should be slightly softer than the rest of the pie so that it jiggles a bit when nudged.  Then insert a knife or a toothpick at the center – it should come out clean but moist.
  7. Let baked pie stand for about 30 minutes before cutting it.  This will firm it up so sliced don’t fall apart.  Better yet refrigerate the pie overnight then remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving so it warms up to room temperature.  I like my custard pies cool I feel it brings out the sweetness.

Having said that here’s our recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Large Red Yams – Baked & Mashed to yield 3 cups (see tips for baking instructions)

1  Cup butter – softened

4  Cups Sugar

1 Can Evaporated Milk 12oz.

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

6  eggs – beaten

1 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon

2 Unbaked deep dish pie shells – homemade or frozen

Proceedure:

Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.

Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.

Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.

Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.

Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Sweet Potato Pie
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Sweet Potato Pie
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Instructions
  1. Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.
  2. Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.
  4. Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.
  5. Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  6. Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes

Baking yams - Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you're ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.

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Grilled Apple Crisp

Grilled Apple Crisp

The first time I tasted this old-fashioned apple crisp, I couldn’t believe it was made on the grill. Topped with a scoop of ice cream, the warm heartwarming dessert will earn you rave reviews.

Perfect for camping or tailgating, a grilled apple crisp in a foil pack is a deliciously simple and portable version of the classic. I want to love camping.  I really do. I love the idea of settling in around a blazing fire, toasting a couple of marshmallows on the perfect stick until gooey and charred. Coffee in a metal pot. Fried eggs in a cast iron skillet nestled into the coals. Sounds perfect! 

That is until the reality of it all kicks in. The  hot suffocating tent in the morning. Showers and toilets (or the lack thereof).  And don’t even get me started on  wildlife, specially things that are creepy crawly.

This Grilled Apple Crisp recipe is great for  camping aficionados and non capers.  And with the fall rolling around, it would also make a great sweet alternative for your tailgate. If you’re a little more adventurous than me, mix up the oat topping in advance, grab a few apples and some foil and pack it for your next excursion. But trust me, this homey dessert tastes just as good sitting comfortably at my kitchen table. Or if I’m feeling particularly outdoorsy, my picnic table. Enjoy!

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Here’s a recipe for Grilled Apple Crisp

Ingredients

10 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 8 medium)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
Vanilla ice cream, optional

Directions

1. Place the apple slices on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 24×12 in.). In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over apples.
2. Fold foil around apple mixture and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until apples are tender. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 381 calories, 9g fat (5g saturated fat), 20mg cholesterol, 92mg sodium, 77g carbohydrate (58g sugars, 6g fiber), 3g protein.

 

 

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