GREEK GAZPACHO PASTA SALAD

Gazpacho is Spanish in tradition, but with the addition of the Feta cheese I feel like it is more of a Greek and Spanish fusion. Hubby loves the Mediterranean flavors while I pass on it every time, but it’s a GREAT recipe for a BBQ or picnic.

GREEK GAZPACHO PASTA SALAD
1 pound rotini, prepared al dente and rinsed in cold water and drained

SAUCE
14 1/2 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup FRESH basil leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup avocado oil (or olive if you prefer)

  • Process tomatoes, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar with a pinch of salt until smooth.
  • Drizzle with avocado oil and gently fold in.

VEGGIES
1 cucumber, halved, seeded, and chopped
1 red pepper, halved, seeded, and chopped
1 yellow pepper, halved, seeded, and chopped
1 small red onion, small diced
3/4 pound grape tomatoes, halved

ASSEMBLY

  • In a large mixing bowl gently toss veggies together.
  • Drizzle with sauce mixture and fold again.
  • Cover and let marinade for 15-30 minutes.

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup (or more) pitted black olives, sliced
3 green onions sliced thin
FRESH minced parsley for garnish

  • JUST before serving fold in olives, cheese and green onions.
  • Season to taste.
  • Garnish with parsley.

BRUSCHETTA AVOCADOS

BRUSCHETTA AVOCADOS – Luscious tomatoes, FRESH basil and red onion are tossed in a balsamic vinegar with a touch of garlic and avocado oil and then gently stuffed into avocado halves for a incredible summer dinner with no oven or stove to heat up the house. Adapted from Cafe Delites

2 ripe Roma tomatoes,finely chopped
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
scant tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste
2 ripe avocados – peeled, seeded and halved
2 tablespoons balsamic REDUCTION – store bought or see recipe below
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Toss well to evenly meld all of the flavors.
  • Arrange prepared avocado halves onto a plate.
  • Spoon the  filling into each avocado halve and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
  • Top with chopped FRESH basil and Parmesan cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION (homemade)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon PACKED light brown sugar (OPTIONAL)

  • Combine brown sugar sugar with vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce heat to low; allow to simmer for about 5-8 minutes or until mixture has thickened and reduced to a glaze.

NOTE: If not using sugar, allow plain balsamic vinegar to reduce for 12-15 minutes on low heat.

 

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 34 of 2018

GOOD MORNING everyone. I can’t believe it’s Monday again already. We had a busy week and weekend too. We did lunch with some friends one day, dinner with some other friends one night, went to a BBQ, watched all the Nascar races as we approach the end of the season, did several days at the gym, and went to Pioneer Town for our anniversary that snuck up on us 😀

Pioneer Town really was a bit of a disappointment as it is no longer anywhere close to what you see on the Wikipedia page, but I’ll cover that in another post with my pictures. The NASCAR races were good and exciting though!

Be sure to link up with
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday

and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE & WHAT I’M WEARING – Still hot here.  This week will still be in the triple digits yet again, but with a bit cooler evenings and tolerable, and with only 4 weeks until we make our slow trek north and with every subsequent leg the weather will get cooler and cooler. 😀

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE – Green tea of course with a banana and peach yogurt

ON MY MIND – When did we as a society allow insurance companies to make our medical decisions?  When I was a kid you went to the doctor, they did what was necessary, billed your insurance who paid R&C (reasonable and customary) and you paid the difference, usually 20% and everyone was happy.  Now, the insurance company can decide that what my doctor is referring me to and for is either unnecessary or too far away and that I have to do without or choose a “closer” provider.  And forget traveling!  They have literally told me not to travel if I am going to need any medical attention that cannot be covered by urgent care! WTH?

THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY – I am progressing in this recuperation! BUT, that said this experimenting with food still sucks.  I find myself going back time and again to the same old things that work, but that is such a SMALL list that it becomes quite boring day in and day out.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA – We had dinner with some of our oldest friends last Tuesday.  It was SOOOOOOOO good to see them!

The restaurant we went to was GREAT and we were early enough to get a PRIMO table in the bar which happened to be having an ALL night happy hour. So, 4 1/2 hours later with excellent drinks and appetizers we all but closed the place down and had a GREAT time in the process.  😀 

Our server/bartender was even kind enough to take several pictures.  And you know what?  We really haven’t changed all that much over the years!  We are all very glad though that our “younger” adventures (some were pretty wild!!!) took place before the internet and there is NO FOREVER proof that it even ever happened! 😀

We don’t get to see each other often, especially when we were back east, but now that we’re all on the same coast again we’re planning an adventure for hubby’s next birthday or maybe before.

The SURVIVING 4 of an original 10 😀

INSPIRATION


AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE / WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS /  APPOINTMENTS

  • LAUNDRY… just a couple loads of clothing and towels
  • LIVING AREAS & KITCHEN… pretty clean
  • YARD… nothing much, just a little weeding
  • BLOG… some recipe updating, future post planning and even some holiday post planning
  • PROJECTS… not much this week
  • APPOINTMENTS… a couple of follow ups and meeting my ‘cuz for happy hour 1 night
  • TO DO… gym and then still deciding, maybe the mountains one day to cool off.

I’M READING -Book #3 Summer Romance series by SJ Mccoy

WHAT IS ON THE DVR OR LIST TO WATCH – A couple of Garage Sale movies with Lori Loughlin and a Chesapeake Shores episode

WHAT’S IN THE CRAFT BASKET – still the Christmas cards.  I got the itch and got all the parts, but haven’t had the energy or inclination to go any further 🙁

WHERE I’VE BEEN SURFING ON THE NET – no where new this week.  I was busy and extremely tired this week so just didn’t get the urge to surf much.

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

BREAKFAST

SNACK

LUNCH

DINNER

SNACK/DESSERT

MONDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

 CREOLE CHICKEN THIGHS & RICE

PROTEIN SHAKE

TUESDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

HONEY BBQ PORK CHOPS & SALAD

PROTEIN SHAKE

WEDNESDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

C.O.R.N. clean out refrigerator night

PROTEIN SHAKE

THURSDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

SPINACH & STRAWBERRY SALAD with POPPY SEED DRESSING

PROTEIN SHAKE

FRIDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

 BOURBON CHICKEN and BISCUITS

PROTEIN SHAKE

SATURDAY

BACON & EGGS

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

SLOW COOKER SWEDISH MEATBALLS & NOODLES

COCOA MERINGUE KISSES

SUNDAY

HAM & CHEESE OMELTTES

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

 HULI HULI CHICKEN

PROTEIN SHAKE

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

CROISSANT BERRY FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

This is a rich indulgent brunch recipe that is also super easy to prepare in advance for those special holiday mornings.

CROISSANT BERRY FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

15 mini BUTTER croissants
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup SUPERFINE sugar
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup small WILD blueberries
6 LARGE eggs
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons PURE maple syrup

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  • Slice each croissant length-wise, being careful not to cut all the way through.
  • Cream together the cream cheese and sugar.
  • Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture onto the inside of each croissant.
  • Divide strawberry slices evenly between the croissants laying them onto the cream cheese and close the croissants.
  • Sprinkle with currants.
  • Layer the croissants into the dish, packing them tightly.
  • Sprinkle the blueberries throughout the dish.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
  • Pour egg mixture SLOWLY over the croissants, making sure to get some into every nook and cranny.
  • Cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours or bake right away.
  • When ready to bake, COVER and bake for 30-35 minutes or until set.
  • Serve with more maple syrup and fresh fruit.
  • Enjoy!

SWEET SOY PORK CHOPS, CURRANT SCALLION RICE & BACON SHALLOT SNAP PEAS

SWEET SOY PORK CHOPS, CURRANT SCALLION RICE and BACON SHALLOT SUGAR SNAP PEAS

MARINADE
2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
4 boneless center cut pork loin chops

  • Whisk together the liquid aminos, vinegar and sriracha.
  • Place pork chops in a large Ziploc bag.
  • Pour marinade into bag.
  • Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly.
  • Turn chops to coat well with marinade.
  • Marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning bag half way through.

 

  • Heat grill to medium heat.
  • Prepare glaze while grill is heating.
  • Remove chops from bag and discard marinade.
  • Generously season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  • Brush each side with glaze.
  • Grill about 6 minutes per side.
  • Brush with additional glaze and serve immediately.

GLAZE
2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 tablespoon QUALITY honey
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

  • Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl.

RICE
1 cup long grain rice
1 cup water
1 cup chicken consomme
1 small bunch green onions, sliced thin
1/3 cup currants

  • Combine water and consommé in sauce pan.
  • Add rice, stirring to coat.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or so until tender and moisture is completely absorbed.
  • Fold in currants and green onions.

SNAP PEAS
4 slices thick bacon, diced and cooked crisp
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/4 cup chicken consomme
FRESH ground salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon bacon grease

  • Heat bacon grease over medium high heat.
  • Add shallots and cook 3-5 minutes until browned.
  • Add snap peas, consommé and season with salt and pepper.
  • Saute’ covered 2-4 minutes until crisp tender.
  • Uncover and continue sautéing until all liquid has been absorbed.
  • Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and bacon pieces.

CREAM BRAISED CHICKEN & VEGGIES

This recipe is rich tasting, but is actually light and delicate. It makes a WONDERFUL dish for serving to company. Tastes like your worked on it ALL day.

CREAM BRAISED CHICKEN & VEGGIES
1/2 pound pearl onions**
1 small Vidalia onion, halved and sliced
2 large carrots, sliced on the diagonal
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
6 boneless chicken breasts
1 + 1 tablespoons butter
1 cup white wine
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped parsley
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/2 pound beech mushrooms***

  • In a large dutch oven bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  • Add pearl onions and boil for 3 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse in cold water.
  • Peel and set aside.

 

  • Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the dutch oven.
  • Add onions, carrots and celery. Saute’ until tender.
  • Remove veggies and set aside.

 

  • Add the chicken to the pan in a single layer. Brown on both sides. Remove chicken and keep warm.
  • Add wine to pan and simmer until reduced by half.
  • Stir in broth, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Return chicken to pan and simmer 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove chicken to platter and keep warm.

 

  • Whisk together the milk and flour until smooth.
  • Gradually whisk milk mixture into broth in pan and bring to a SLOW boil until thickened.
  • Add veggies back into sauce, stirring to coat.

 

  • In a separate skillet heat remaining butter until melted and sizzling.
  • Add pearl onions and mushrooms, sautéing until tender.
  • Add onions and mushrooms to the chicken platter.
  • Spoon sauce over chicken and veggies.

NOTES:

**Pearl onions can be a real pain if you’re in a hurry so I will buy several bunches of the small bulb onions and just halve them.

***Beech mushrooms are a type of oyster mushroom that has a wonderfully nutty flavor when cooked that adds to any sauce.  These mushrooms are a bit bitter when used raw, but they are ideal for soups and stews or stir fries.

CHICKEN & CORN ENCHILADAS

This recipe is soooo simple because I use a Costco rotisserie chicken, but the flavor tastes like you spent all day roasting it yourself – NO ONE will ever know the difference!

CHICKEN & CORN ENCHILADAS SUIZA
3 cups shredded chicken pieces (I use Costco rotisserie)
1 large red onion, diced
2 cans Green Giant white shoe peg corn, drained
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped FRESH cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups grated Monterey Jack and Sharp Cheddar mix
3 cups chunky salsa
1 large green enchilada sauce
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste
corn tortillas (about 16)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Mix together the chicken pieces, diced onion, corn kernels, sour cream, cumin and cilantro until well blended.
  • Add half of the cheese.
  • Season with additional FRESH ground salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the salsa and enchilada sauce.
  • Brush each tortilla with some of the sauce mixture and fill with 1/4-1/3 cup of chicken mixture.
  • Roll up and place seam side down in baking dish.
  • Repeat until chicken mixture is gone – about 16-18 tortillas.
  • Spoon most of the remaining sauce evenly over top of enchiladas. Save just a lilttle to spoon over again when you remove the foil.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Cover in foil.
  • Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and spoon remaining sauce over top.
  • Bake 5 minutes more to brown cheese.
  • ENJOY!

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 33 of 2018

GOOD MORNING everyone. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. It was a quiet weekend here, but productive and full too. The temperatures have been more tolerable, but the smoke from the fires is heavy and making my eyes burn so we spent time inside watching racing, pre-season football, some odd ball movies and did some honey-do repairs around here. We’re back to routine this morning and off to the gym when I finish this post.

Be sure to link up with
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday

and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE & WHAT I’M WEARING – It’s horribly smoky still with seriously poor air quality topped off by the horrible Salton Sea smell.  It will be an “indoor day” with no pool time, but I will spend some extra time at the gym to replace the pool and bike time.  It’s still terribly warm, but the evenings are cooling down to the low 80’s.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE – I’m on my 3rd cup of green tea and have already had a peach yogurt, but plan on having a banana also before I leave for the gym.

THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY – we’re on the countdown to the vacation end of this recuperation process. Vacation will will include the San Diego zoo (end of August), my birthday, Disneyland (mid September), a visit with hubby’s almost 97 year old father and Hearst Castle, our nephew’s wedding (Saturday the 22nd), a visit with SIL…

Also this is our anniversary week so I’m looking forward to some fun times together and with friends. I made this to put on hubby’s facebook wall on our anniversary.

I was able to add another machine to my routine last week and while it kicked my butt, I’m happy to be progressing.  The weight loss has slowed to ounces and even balanced out a bit as the previously “missing” muscle is being replaced with again active muscle.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA – smokey sunsets from the lingering fires 🙁

INSPIRATION

SOMETHING INTERESTING I SAW

This first one isn’t interesting so much as it is sad.  A piece of my childhood burnt down Saturday night 🙁 So sad – picture from the SIGNAL

Los Angeles County Firefighters and Angeles National Forest Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze that leveled Big Oaks Lodge on Bouquet Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

Hubby shared this on my facebook wall this past week.  I’m pretty sure he’s still laughing though I’m not sure why as neither of us has ever left the keys in the ignition or had a car stolen LOL 😀 I thought it was so cute though that I would share it with you.

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE / WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS /  APPOINTMENTS

  • LAUNDRY… just a couple loads
  • LIVING AREAS… looking pretty tidy after a deep clean
  • KITCHEN… pretty clean, but starting to dwindle things down
  • YARD… nothing much
  • BLOG… still doing some recipe updating, future post planning and holiday post planning
  • TO DO… oil change on the car
  • PROJECTS… Christmas Cards
  • APPOINTMENTS… dinner with Paul & Deb, Lunch with Dick & Kay, our anniversary dinner, BBQ at Robin & Tom’s house

I’M READING UNLUCKY by Jana Deleon and Where The Hurt Is by Chris Kelsey

WHAT IS ON THE DVR OR LIST TO WATCH – Nothing too much, but am starting to see previews for the fall lineup.  I have a few things recorded on sling and a list of things to see on netflix, amazon and hulu.

WHAT’S IN THE CRAFT BASKET – Christmas Card parts

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

BREAKFAST

SNACK

LUNCH

DINNER

SNACK/DESSERT

MONDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

ALL DAY BRISKET with TARRAGON GREEN BEANS

PROTEIN SHAKE

TUESDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

APRICOT CHICKEN and SALAD

PROTEIN SHAKE

WEDNESDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

C.O.R.N. clean out refrigerator night

PROTEIN SHAKE

THURSDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

CREAM BRAISED CHICKEN

PROTEIN SHAKE

FRIDAY

GREEN TEA & YOGURT

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

 CHICKEN DUMPLING STEW

PROTEIN SHAKE

SATURDAY

QUICHE

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

SWEDISH MEATBALLS and PARSLEY NOODLES with LINGONBERRY JAM

COCOA MERINGUES

SUNDAY

CHEESECAKE PANCAKES

PROTEIN DRINK

CHICKEN or TUNA SALAD

 BISTRO SANDWICHES with BACON GREEN ONION DIP

PROTEIN SHAKE

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

BACON GREEN ONION DIP

Another awesome Facebook/internet find recipe. Just a couple changes to make is “US” friendly and we really enjoyed it on yesterday’s race day!! It will become a football friendly dip too 😀

BACON GREEN ONION DIP Adapted from the MIDNIGHT BAKER
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small bunch green onions, sliced thin
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.
  • Add onions and mix well.
  • Fold in bacon.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

NOTE: I have used my homemade Pimiento Cheese and just add the sour cream, garlic powder, green onions and bacon to it for a tasty variation. 😀

AVOCADO PEACH CHICKEN SALAD with HONEY LIME VINAIGRETTE

AVOCADO PEACH CHICKEN SALAD with HONEY LIME VINAIGRETTE

SALAD
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled to perfection and sliced 😀
1 large peach, washed and sliced
1 large RIPE avocado, sliced
1 bunch green onions or 1 large shallot, sliced thin
4 strips bacon, diced, browned andcrisp
3 cups torn romaine or watercress lettuce

  • Arrange ingredients on plate.
  • Drizzle with vinaigrette.

HONEY LIME VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/4 cup QUALITY balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
Juice of 1 Lime
1 tablespoon QUALITY honey
Pinch FRESH ground sea salt

  • Add ingredients into a glass container or jar with a lid.
  • Shake jar vigorously until completely combined.
  • Serve on your favorite salad.
  • Store in the refrigerator.

NOTES: When using cold from the refrigerator make sure you shake it up REALLY well to re-blend the ingredients. I usually run my jar under warm water before giving it a good shake and if that doesn’t mix it enough a few seconds in the microwave should thin it enough to make mixable!

HONEY SRIRACHA CHICKEN

HONEY SRIRACHA CHICKEN
avocado oil
2 skin on Chicken legs with thigh meat attached or 6 thighs
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 ounce sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons QUALITY honey
2 green onions, sliced thin – whites and greens separate
2 tablespoons Braggs Liquid aminos
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Prepared rice

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Cover a baking sheet in foil and set aside.
  • Heat heavy cast iron pan over medium high heat.
  • Drizzle avocado oil in pan and spread to coat.
  • Generously season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  • Add chicken to pan, skin side down. Cook 7-8 minutes until skin is crisp and golden.
  • Turn chicken and cook another 4-5 minutes.
  • Place chicken on baking sheet skin side up.
  • Roast chicken for 15 minutes.
  • Add onion whites and sauté 30 seconds.
  • Stir in liquid aminos, honey and sriracha to taste.
  • Stir collecting any browned bits from the bottom. Let bubble 2-3 minutes until thick and sticky.
  • Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.
  • Remove chicken from oven.
  • Brush sauce over chicken pieces.
  • Return to oven and roast another 10 minutes until cooked through.
  • Remove from oven and brush with glaze again.
  • Plate chicken over prepared rice.
  • Drizzle with remaining sauce and serve immediately.