Category Archives: Sauces, Broths & Vinaigrettes

Southwestern Black Bean and Pineapple Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

What to do with a can of blacks beans and some fresh pineapple?  Why, make a southwestern inspired meal beginning with a delicious black bean and pineapple salad!

This salad complements beautifully with the rest of my southwestern inspired meal which consists of my previously posted southwestern dry-rubbed grilled pork chops (nice and thick and juicy, of course) and mashed turnips with green chiles and goat cheese.  Absolutely delicious, and a meal I repeat often!

Southwestern Black Bean and Fresh Pineapple Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette
Southwestern Black Bean and Fresh Pineapple Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

Ingredients for the Black Bean & Fresh Pineapple Salad:

  • 1 15-oz can black beans (frijoles negros), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 C pineapple, fresh, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 C red onion, diced (soaked in cold water, rinsed and dried – see *note below)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and diced
  • 2 tbs fresh (or 1 tsp dried) cilantro
Ingredients for the Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette:
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp cumin, dried
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, grated
  • 6 tbs canola oil

To Prepare the Southwestern Black Bean & Fresh Pineapple Salad
In a medium bowl mix together the black beans, pineapple, tomato, red onion, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro.  Set aside while preparing the cumin-lime vinaigrette.

*Note:  When I use raw red onion I prefer to soak the onion in cold water for a few minutes (changing the water a couple of times) and then blotting them dry with a paper towel or a clean dish cloth.  I find that this helps mute their strong taste which can sometimes overpower other ingredients in the dish.

To Prepare the Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette
In a small bowl mix together the lime juice, honey, dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, cumin, and black pepper until well blended. Slowly drizzle in the canola oil…whisking briskly until thoroughly combined. Add the vinaigrette to the prepared black bean and fresh pineapple salad, stirring gently until combined. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend and the salad to chill.

Nutrional Information:
Total Servings – 8 (approximately 1/2 cup per serving).
Per Serving – 110 calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat (only 1 g saturated), and 5 g protein.

This salad is very nutritious – low in calories, carbohydrates, and saturated fat, while being high in protein and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.  Definitely a heart-healthy choice!

I hope you enjoy this southwestern inspired salad as much as I do… and do have the southwestern dry-rubbed pork chops to go with it.  Until next time my friends, be blessed in all you do and may the Gods of Good Food and Cooking smile down upon you!
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A Classic: The Reuben Sandwich – Deli-Style

One of my very favorite sandwiches is the Reuben.  There is just something about the combination of all those wonderful ingredients: corned beef, melty swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand islands dressing – all lovingly nestled between two buttery and toasty pieces of bread.  Very yummylicious!

So today I found myself in the mood for this glorious epicurean delight and what with the recent celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it a fitting sandwich to share with you.  Many of you may still have corned beef and sauerkraut on hand.  If not, a quick trip to the market is wholeheartedly encouraged.

In the making of these sandwiches, I proudly confess that I never buy Thousand Islands Dressing.  It is so easy to make and requires little more than your regular staple items: mayonnaise, ketchup and sweet pickle relish.  Yep, believe it or not, just by mixing these three items together you will have a great tasting Thousand Islands Dressing. However,  for my homemade version that I am sharing with you here today, I am also adding cider vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar… just to kick it up a notch!  If you don’t have cider vinegar you may certainly substitute plain vinegar.  If you don’t have lemon juice, no problem, just don’t include it.!  This truly is a versatile little workhorse of dressings and plays a starring role in what makes the Reuben such a tasty sandwich.

So let’s get started with the dressing:

Thousand Islands Dressing
Thousand Islands Dressing

Thousand Islands Dressing:
1/3 c mayonnaise
3 tbs ketchup
2 tbs sweet pickle relish
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp apple cider (or plain) vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional)

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Stir well to blend.  Set aside while preparing sandwiches.

And now, for the Reuben…

Deli-Style Reuben Sandwich
Deli-Style Reuben Sandwich with Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut and Thousand Islands Dressing

Deli-Style Reuben Sandwich:

Per Sandwich:
2 slices rye or pumpernickel bread
4 oz. corned beef, thinly sliced
2 oz. swiss cheese, thinly sliced
2-4 oz. sauerkraut, heated (see *note)
Thousand Islands Dressing, above
1 tbs butter or olive oil, divided

Create sandwich by spreading Thousand Islands Dressing on one of the slices of bread.  Upon the dressing, layer the corned beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.  Cover with remaining slice of bread and set aside while preparing the pan. Place butter or oil in a cast iron skillet or frying pan and heat to medium, allowing butter or oil to heat through.  Place sandwich in pan, press down with spatula, and toast until golden brown on the underside (about 2 minutes).  Turn over with spatula and repeat with remaining side, toasting until golden and the cheese has melted.  Remove from heat and serve.

*Note – Personally, I like to gently heat the sauerkraut in a small saucepan ahead of time to ensure that it is nice and warm in my grilled sandwich, but this is entirely optional.

As always, thanks for stopping by.  For those of you who may have never tried this sandwich before, do give it a try… it is delicious.  And for those of you who, like myself,  consider this a personal favorite, be sure to treat yourself to this delicious and satisfying sandwich.

Until next time everyone…

May your plates be abundant and your house filled with love and happiness! 

Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago I found myself mulling over what to do with a head of cabbage and some tomatoes I had on hand that needed to be used.  I immediately thought of stuffed cabbage rolls, one of my favorites, but decided that I wanted to create something unique and different.  The recipe that follows is what I came up with and I have to give kudos to myself because this dish is absolutely delicious!  The first time I made this I used a sherry vinaigrette.  Yesterday, however, I thought what a great Irish recipe this could be and decided to use a warm bacon vinaigrette in place of the other vinaigrette to really bring out the Irish flavors.  Since I have Irish blood in my veins I thought this would be a great dish to prepare in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which is exactly what I did!

Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

I do want to point out, as you will see, this is not a quick recipe.  There is quite a bit of work involved, but much can be done a day ahead…right up to preparing the cabbage rolls, all ready to pop in the oven the next day.  I have made note of this in the recipe.  The only dish that needs to be prepared on the day of serving is the warm bacon vinaigrette, which is very easy and quick to prepare and can be done shortly before removing the cabbage rolls from the oven.


For the Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Ingredients

3 C sweet onion, finely chopped
4 C tomato (approximately 6 large), peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 head roasted garlic, prepared as instructed below (or 4 cloves fresh, minced)
2 – 3.75 oz cans Smoked Oysters in Cottonseed Oil
1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp salt
8 Large green cabbage leaves, prepared as instructed belowDirections

To Prepare the Cabbage Leaves:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the entire head of cabbage. Allow to boil for approx. 15 minutes, until the outer leaves have softened and making them easier to peel. Remove from the boiling water, place in a strainer, blot dry with a paper towel, and allow to cool. Once cool, carefully remove the leaves (I usually remove a few extra just in case one of the leaves rips). Using a sharp knife carefully slice the thicker part of the core away (do this in an inverted V shape), carefully leaving the majority of the leave intact. Set aside to prepare the smoked oyster stuffing. (Note – these can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and stored flat until ready to use.)

For the Roasted Garlic:

Roasting garlic is easy and the taste is sublime.  The roasting process softens the garlic flavor and adds a touch of smokiness. (I usually do a couple of heads at a time to be used for a variety of other dishes.) For this stuffed cabbage recipe it adds a further smoky undertone, enhancing the flavor of the smoked oysters.  However, if you don’t wish to do this step feel free to substitue fresh garlic in the amount listed above.  (Note: this too can be prepared 1-2 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge in its foil until ready to use.)
  1. To roast, take one large, unpeeled head of garlic. Thinly slice and remove the top head of the garlic to slightly expose the cloves. Rub the entire head of the garlic with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with coarse ground kosher salt and black pepper. Wrap in a small square of aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast in a 400 deg. oven for 40 minutes, remove, and allow to cool slightly before removing from foil. Once cooled, remove from foil and set aside. When ready to use simply squeeze the whole head of garlic with your hand, turning the top upside down while gently pushing out the softened garlic.

For the Smoked Oyster Stuffing:

  1. In a large saute pan, cook the 4 bacon slices until crisp.  With a slotted spoon remove the bacon strips from the pan (reserving the bacon drippings). When cool crumble the bacon and set aside. Add 1 tbsp of the reserved drippings back to the pan (saving the rest of the drippings for the warm bacon vinaigrette) along with 1 tbsp olive oil and place on medium high heat. Once heated, add the chopped onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes, just until onion begins to soften and becomes slightly translucent. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking the onions, stirring occasionally, for another 5-8 minutes, until very soft and translucent, being careful not to brown the onions.
  2. Add the chopped tomato, roasted garlic and salt. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the tomatoes to cook to a very soft consistency.
  3. Gently stir in the smoked oysters (along with the cottonseed oil in which they were packed), the fresh parsley and basil and continue cooking until heated through, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool. (Note – this too can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to assemble the cabbage rolls, or you can assemble the rolls, as follows, and store in the prepared pan 1 day ahead of time – all that will be left on serving day is to place it in the oven and prepare the warm bacon vinaigrette.)

To Stuff the Rolls:

  1. Place one prepared cabbage leaf on a flat surface and place the smoked oyster filling (about 1/4 c) onto the bottom third of the leaf, spreading out to within 1/2″ of each side of the leaf. Begin rolling the leaf away from you, tucking the sides onto the roll as you go.
  2. Once rolled, place seam side down in a greased 9×13 pan on which you have spread a thin layer (about 1/4 c) of the roasted pepper puree (recipe follows), repeating with the remaining cabbage leaves until you have 8 cabbage rolls.  Lightly sprinkle the tops of the rolls with a few drops of water.
  3. Cover the pan with foil, place in a preheated 325 deg F oven and bake for 40 minutes.
  4.  Remove from oven, leaving covered while preparing the warm bacon vinaigrette (recipe below).

Roasted Red Pepper Puree:

Ingredients

1 10-oz jar roasted red peppers
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor add all of the ingredients and process until smooth. Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use. This makes approximately 1-1/4 cups of puree.

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette:

Ingredients

4 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp dijon mustard
Dash fresh black pepper
4 slices smoked center-cut bacon, fried crisp and crumbled, drippings reserved
2 tbsp bacon drippings
10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. In a small bowl mix together the rice vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, and dash of black pepper. Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Remove, stir in the crumbled bacon, then briskly whisk in the bacon drippings and olive oil. Serve immediately.

To Assemble the Completed Dish:

Place approximately 1/4 cup of the roasted pepper puree onto the plate.  Arrange two of the prepared cabbage rolls on top of the puree.  Drizzle the warm bacon vinaigrette over the top and serve.

Nutrition Information:

8 total servings, 2 cabbage rolls each
Per Serving:  721 calories, 45 g carbohydrates, 56 g fat, 17 g protein
(This is definitely a “splurge” dish, but great for company or any other special occasion.)

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Days 11 and 12

Merry Christmas To All!

I have to apologize that my last two recipes for Christmas Holiday Cakes and Cheesecakes are being posted two days after Christmas, but the hustle and the bustle got the best of me! I …. am….. sooooo …. sorry!
However, to make up for this, I am posting two really great recipes.  The first one is a delicious Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting from Southern Living.  Gingerbread is truly one of my favorites and this cake captures the great flavor of gingerbread with the essence of molasses, cloves and crystallized ginger.  The tang of the Buttermilk Frosting and the addition of the Spiced Glazed Pecans (walnuts would also be great) takes this cake over the top.  A truly delicious cake!
Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting from Southern Living via MyRecipes
Land O'Lakes Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
Eggnog Cheesecake Bars from Land O’Lakes

My final offering for the 12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake recipes are these wonderful Eggnog Bars featured on Land O’Lakes.  Nothing says Christmas more to me than Eggnog.  Its rich and creamy taste, with a hint of nutmeg, and sometimes the addition of rum, is truly a joyous occasion and I look forward to it each and every holiday season.

Hot Buttered Rum Sauce Recipe from Betty Crocker
Hot Buttered Rum Sauce from Betty Crocker

And since I have a hard time leaving well enough alone, allow me to suggest that this Hot Buttered Rum Sauce from Betty Crocker would truly be a delightful topping for this delectable cheesecake.  While I realize the addition of a rum-based sauce may not be to everyone’s liking, for those of us who like our eggnog spiced with rum this is truly the way to go 🙂

So there you have it folks… my final offerings for the 12 Days of Christmas Cakes and Cheesecakes.  I have had a great time rounding up these recipes to share with you and I truly hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have.

Before I bid you farewell, I would like to share with you my favorite Christmas Poem: The Night Before Christmas.  As a small girl, I would look forward to my mom pulling out our cherished Christmas decorations and books.  This book was the one I loved the most and could read again and again. The vintage illustrations were beautiful and the rhyming of the story truly made Christmas Eve such a magical and wonderful night.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

Twas The Night Before Christmas
Twas The Night Before Christmas
 Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
 While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap-
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
 Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys – and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
From my family to yours here’s hoping you and yours have a blessed Holiday season!