Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Potato & Chive Salad with a Side of Sheepishness

Sorry I have been so slacking! I am embarrassed to have stepped away from my blog and my project for so long. I could provide all of the things that have taken up my time (CMP certification, new Mary Kay business, overscheduling myself) but really I should keep to my committments instead of moving on to new ones!! So here it is- my recommitment toward my resolution. Now where to start.....

I did prepare one new recipe in the down time. It was for John's 2nd birthday party! We made a lot of our usual dishes (pulled pork, Shawn's homemade slaw, my mac & cheese) and I wanted to do one new thing. I had a bunch of potatoes that needed to be prepared and decided that potato salad would fit in perfectly.

The next step was to take out all of my recipe books and create just the right one! I found an old book that I rarely use called "500 All Time Greatest Recipes". It's a bold statement, which the book doesn't totally live up to, but there are some really good things in here. The best thing about this book is an inscription under the front cover where my friend, Dana, wishes me a happy birthday (in 1999) and hopes that I'll be using it to cook for her when we're 50. Unfortunately, we're getting closer and closer to that prophecy!!!! The potato salad recipe looked simple but delicious, so I added it to the menu.

One thing that intrigued me about the method was that the recipe has you mix the oil, vinegar, and mustard and toss the hot drained potatoes with the vinaigrette and scallions before cooling. Once cooled, I added the mayonnaise and chives and chill in the fridge until ready to serve. The vinaigrette gave such a wonderful flavor to the potatoes, but the simplicity of the mayo and fresh herbs still shone through. It was so delicious!! It's funny- I made this over a month ago and the part I remember most is a few of us eating it out of the bowl at the very end of a long party. It's the true test of a good party dish!!

Simple, inexpensive, and delicious- I'd make this again in a hearbeat.

New Potato & Chive Salad- 500 All Time Great Recipes
1 1/2 lbs new potatoes
4 scallions
3T olive oil
1T white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good quality mayonnaise (I used Hellmanns because it's the best, in my opinion)
3T chopped fresh chives
salt & pepper

1. Cook the potatoes, unpeeled, in boiling water until tender. Meanwhile, finely chop the white parts of the scallions along with a little of the green parts.

2. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, and mustard. Drain potatoes well, then immediately toss with the vinegar mixture and scallions and allow to cool. Stir in the mayonnaise and chives and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shrimp Scampi- Kitchen Secrets

If I had to pick my #1 all time favorite cookbook, it would be Kitchen Secrets by Readers Digest. I don't even remember where I got my first copy, but it was definitely one of the first cookbooks that I owned. I'm on my second copy now, as the pages tend to fall out after a while, and have given copies to friends and family as well.

The book is more of a method type of book. It's split into chapters (like soups and stews, pastas, vegetables), and each chapter features sub-chapters (tomato sauces, cream sauces, layered pastas, filled pastas) to break it down more specifially. The sub-topics take up the left and right pages when the book is opened. The left side features the theorys of the item, varieties, storage and reheating, and best ingredients for the use of it. With tomato sauce, for example, it discusses canned versus fresh; the best way to store and reheat, what pastas and recipes are better with sauce and various add ins that would work. The page on the right features a recipe for tomato sauce and then there is always a second recipe that is a variation, like fra diavlo. I have read this book from cover to cover on many, many occasions. Mainly, I chose this recipe from here simply so that I could tell you about the book!

So, on to the recipe..... my best friends and I have what we call our "ladies club" where a small group of us get together on a monthly basis. It used to be at restaurants, and then fell to the wayside, but we started it off again in 2010 with the idea of going to each others houses. Month #2 was at Dana's house and she decided on an Italian theme. Shrimp was on sale this week, so I decided on the scampi. I love shrimp and know that the girls do, too. Plus. I liked that it was a quick dish that I could make there instead of finding time in my own kitchen!!

I packed up the shrimp, a small container with the garlic & parsley, and a lemon in a cooler and was on my way. We peeled and rinsed the shrimp and then I got started on the sauce. Melted some butter in a sautee pan, added the garlic & spices, and then tossed the shrimp until it was cooked. Voila!

The shrimp was delicious, but probably should have been served with rice or noodles. I didn't think it went with the other dishes as well as it could have (all of which were fantastic). The butter was very heavy and just kind of sat there on the side of everything else. I will definitely make this again, but will serve it as its own dish rather than in addition to other items.

Curry Chicken Salad with Cucumber- Dr. Atkins

A few of my girlfriends were coming over and I wanted to have a few simple things for dinner with little fuss, since it was mid-week. My one friend tries to eat a low carb diet whenever possible, so I decided to give my Atkins cookbook a whirl. I found a few things that I thought could be tasty, before settling on chicken salad. I knew that I would have leftover chicken from the Tandoori recipe and found a curry chicken salad that sounded delicious.

Man, do I love a good chicken salad. It's an interesting food, since everyone has their favorite way to make it and most people are pretty particular about their preferences. I like all white meat, no fruit, diced meat versus shredded, and a little vegetable crunch for texture.

I started by whisking mayonnaise, vinegar, & scallions with the spices, and then added chopped cucumber & celery. I diced up the chicken, put it in a serving dish and was done. So simple! I served it with sliced bread, cut celery, & baby spinach leaves. Not to toot my horn, but this was fantastic!!! Creamy but not too creamy, extremely flavorful, and just the right amount of crunch. The curry gave it a great flavor and nice color. The recipe also calls for a touch of cinnamon which gives it a "hint of intrigue". I'm not the hugest fan of cinnamon, but took their word for it. I couldn't taste the cinnamon, thankfully, but whatever it added- it worked!

Curry Chicken Salad with Cucumbers- Dr. Atkins Quick & Easy New Diet Cookbook