Monday, May 31, 2010

My Contribution to the Memorial Day Cookout: Macaroni Salad and Banana Cream Pie

Macaroni salad first, then....dessert! I doubled both of these recipes, making one for a cookout at our house on Sunday night and another for a cook out that we attended today.

When I saw this version of Paula Deen's Macaroni Salad on Elizabeth's Edible, I knew that it would be on our weekend menu. It's creamy and crunchy and fresh and in my opinion, very different from most of the macaroni salads that I've purchased, scooped out of those vats in the deli case at the supermarket. Not that those are bad...I just like this much better.

Macaroni salad isn't tricky to make, but it does involve a bit of chopping. I combined all of my chopped ingredients in a large bowl. This is eggs, celery, green onion, green pepper, and pimento.

Then I tossed on my cooked macaroni. The recipe called for 2 cups, I went with 3.

I mixed together the dressing ingredients in a bowl. I used mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Pour it over the salad and toss until combined.

Here's the finished product:

I doubled this 2 days ago and there isn't even one bite leftover. It was a hit! However, I think that I'd make just one change. Normally, (almost always!) I prefer traditional mayo to Miracle Whip. But for this one, I think I'd go with the Miracle Whip. I think it would've added that little extra "zing" that I was looking for. But otherwise, no complaints here!

Macaroni Salad
adapted from a recipe by Paula Deen

Prep Time:10 minInactive Prep Time:--Cook Time:--Level:
6-8 servings.
•3 cups cooked elbow macaroni
•3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
•1 cup diced celery
•1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
•2 tablespoons diced green onions
•2 tablespoons chopped pimento
•1 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
•1 teaspoon pepper
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
*1 teaspoon garlic powder
•1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
•Salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and put into the refrigerator until ready to serve.

And now for dessert! I found this recipe on Katy's blog, Food for a Hungry Soul. Katy, who in my opinion, one of the sweetest food bloggers around, deemed this recipe "the perfect banana cream pie". I'm going to have to agree with her on that. What first impressed me about this pie was the crust that Katy selected. It's a no-roll crust and it turned out just, well...perfect! It was light and flaky and so darn easy to make that I couldn't believe it. I've never tried a no-roll crust before and I was definitely impressed. The custard filling for the pie was smooth and creamy and just sweet enough. Again...perfect. However, after making this, I had to admit something to myself: traditional Banana Cream Pie is just not my favorite. Nothing at all wrong with this pie. Like I said, if you're looking for the PERFECT traditional banana cream pie recipe, then look no further. But I realized as I was eating it that I really wanted to add peanut butter or chocolate and make it a little more decadent. But that's just me. This craving for decadence is probably why I came up with my Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Recipe last summer. However, in the future, when I make my Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, I will use the custard and crust from this Old Fashion Cream Pie recipe that I found on Food for a Hungry Soul, because they are definitely winners!

Logically, I began by making the crust. You just dump all of the crust ingredients into your pie pan,then mix it with a fork until combined. Less clean up...gotta love it! This is flour, sugar, oil, a little vanilla, and salt.

Does this look like pie crust to you? No? I didn't think so either.

But this does....

Just pat the crust into place, then prick it with a fork to keep it from bubbling up while it bakes. Pop it into a 375 degree oven for 15-17 minutes and you've got a perfectly golden brown, flaky pastry shell to fill with whatever your heart desires. I'm definitely holding on to this recipe!

While the pie shell(s) baked I started my custard. Scald 3 cups of whole milk.

While the milk scalds, combine sugar, flour, and salt in another saucepan.

Gradually whisk in the scalded milk to the sugar/flour mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened. Cover, cook two minutes more, stirring occasionally.

I didn't take any pictures of the next step, because I my hands were full and my camera man stepped out, but you're supposed to temper the 3 egg yolks by adding a small amount of the hot liquid to the yolks while stirring. Once the yolks are tempered, stir them into the milk mixture and cook for minute more, stirring constantly. Stir in the butter and vanilla.

Now let the custard sit until lukewarm. I like to cover mine with plastic wrap or wax paper to prevent a "skin" from forming on top.

When the custard is cool enough, pour a cup or so into the bottom of the pie crust.

Then slice 3 bananas over the top of the custard.

Overacheiver that I am, I sliced 6.5 bananas yesterday. Yes, that's a cake pan in the front that I'm using to make a pie. I left my other pie plate somewhere. I still need to retrieve it. A cake pan worked just fine for this. It wasn't the prettiest pie I've ever turned out, but it was effective.

Top the bananas with the remaining custard and chill until cold and the custard is set.

I toyed with the idea of making a meringue, but ended up just topping it with whipped cream from a can. No regrets. I love whipped cream in a can!

No Roll Pie Crust found on Food for a Hungry Soul adapted from (Recipezaar #73041)and then adapted again by me

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar **
1/8 teaspoon vanilla**
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 375*F.

Put all ingredients into a 9-inch pie plate. Mix with a fork until well blended and pat into the pan. Push the pastry up the sides and make a nice edge.

Generously prick the crust with a fork to prevent bubbling during baking (I pricked every 1/4 inch or so around the sides and across the bottom).

Bake 15-17 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Old Fashioned Banana Cream Pie originally from Recipezaar #14979

One prebaked pastry crust, cooled (recipe to follow)

3 cups whole milk
3/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe bananas

In a large saucepan scald the milk. Remove any milk solids that might develop.

In a separate saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt; gradually whisk in the scalded milk. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until thickened. Cover, cook two minutes more, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks (tempering the yolks with the hot liquid so as not to curdle them). When thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture. Cook for minute more more, stirring constantly. Stir in the butter and vanilla.

Let custard sit until lukewarm.

When ready, pour about a cup of the custard into the bottom of the prepared pie crust. Slice 3 ripe bananas over the top and then pour the remainder of the custard over the bananas.

Wrap in plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming on the custard and refrigerate until cold and custard is set.

Serve with either a meringue made from the leftover egg whites or nice dollops of whipped cream.

Hope ya'll had a fun weekend and some great food!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meal Plan and Grocery List 5/31-6/6

Just 3 meals on the plan this week. Summer has begun and we're already busy, busy, busy! Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend!

Monday May 31st

Happy Memorial Day!
We're going to a cookout

Tuesday June 1st

Easy Chicken Stir Fry

Wednesday June 2nd

Oxtail Soup

Thursday June 3rd

Chicken Artichoke Bake

Friday June 4th-Sunday June 6th

I'll be away from my kitchen walking for NF and attending a wedding shower.

Grocery List


2 onions
garlic or shallots


1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut up for stir fry
3 lbs. oxtails
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts


cream cheese

Canned Goods

1 bottle marinade for stir fry such as sesame ginger or teriyaki
32 oz. beef broth
dry white wine (can sub apple juice or chicken broth)
14 oz. can artichoke hearts (not marinated)

Dry Goods

Italian seasoning
15 peppercorns
bay leaf
slice almonds


1 bag stir fry vegetables

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dilled Tuna Orzo

I found this recipe in "20 Minute Super Suppers, Fresh and Simple" by Better Homes and Gardens. I do love this book for it's tasty 20 minute suppers, like Coyote Pizza and Fabulous Focaccia Sandwiches. We ate this Dilled Tuna Orzo warm for dinner early in the week, then I ate it cold for lunch for the next two days. This recipe works well for a light dinner, lunch, or a side salad. I loved all of the flavors and textures at play here: the dill, the mustard, the lemon....the crunch of the cucumber, the sweetness of the roasted pepper. I began by following the recipe exactly. Then I gave it a taste. For the most part it worked...but I wasn't super impressed. As it turned out, this recipe was a work in progress and I didn't get it right until the second day. After the first taste, I immediately doubled the dressing. It needed more. After adding more dressing, it was better but still not there. It needed something else. I was thinking feta. Since I didn't have any feta, I grated some Cojita cheese over the top and stirred it in. Again, it was better, but still not there. This is where I stopped and we ate it for dinner with some lovely steamed asparagus. The next day for lunch, I added some chopped tomato and a little more pepper. It was nearly perfect. The next time I'll add a little diced red onion too and then...perfection!

You start with 1 1/2 cups of orzo. Just in case you're not familiar with orzo, it looks like rice, but it's really pasta.

Cook, then rinse and drain.

You could poach your own tuna, but I just opened a can of tuna (packed in water), drained it, and broke it into chunks.

I seeded a cucumber and chopped it. I actually peeled mine too. Why? Because the skin on the cucumber *blush* makes me burp. Weird but true. I don't know why. If you don't have this problem, I'd recommend leaving the skin on. It adds color. : )

Combine the orzo, tuna, cucumber, roasted red pepper (and if you're following my revised recipe)chopped tomato, and red onion in a bowl.

In a jar with a lid, combine Dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and dill. Shake until combined.

Pour the dressing over the orzo and veggies and toss to combine.

If you like, grate some Cojita cheese or crumble some feta over the top, then stir it in.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm or chilled. This is how we ate it for dinner the first night; warm with asparagus:

And this is how I ate it for lunch over the next couple of days, chilled with chopped tomato added in:

This one was definitely worth "playing with" until I got it right!

Dilled Tuna Orzo adapted from 20 Minute Super Suppers Fresh and Simple by Better Homes and Gardens

1 1/2 cups orzo
6 oz. canned tuna, broken into chunks
1 small to medium sized tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup diced red onion
2-3 tablespoons drained and snipped roasted red peppers
1/3 cup grated Cojita cheese or crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (more or less to taste) snipped fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain in colander. Rinse with cold water; drain again. Transfer to a large bowl. Add tuna, tomato, cucumber, red onion, roasted red pepper, and cheese. Toss to combine. Add dressing ingredients to a jar with a lid. Screw on the lid and shake until dressing is combined. Pour dressing over orzo mixture. Toss to coat with dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gearing Up For Memorial Day Weekend: My Top 10 Grilling Recipes + What to Take to the Cook Out

From my experience, the Memorial Day gathering is all about the grillin'. I betcha weren't invited to a cook in. Heck no. You're cooking out! This holiday is about remembering and honoring the men and women who sacrifice so much in the service of our country. On Memorial Day, I take the opportunity to reflect on how grateful and proud I am to be an American and how thankful I am for the victories that this collective sacrifice has won.

Also, for me, Memorial Day symbolizes the beginning of summer. We want to be outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the freedoms that we've been afforded. We want to go to parades, head to the lake, gather with friends and family, and throw meat on a fire and listen to it sizzle! (Insert Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor man noises here). For this reason, I have decided to re-visit 10 of my favorite grilling recipes. Just click the link and it will take you to the original post. Each post featured here has a printable recipe available!

(In no particular order)

Alton Brown's Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Hoisin Chicken (tied for 1st place as my favorite chicken on the grill recipe)

Totally Edible Turkey Burgers The only turkey burger I've ever loved.

The Giant Grilled Submarine Sandwich

Kentucky Grilled Chicken (The other contender for my favorite grilled chicken recipe)

Supreme Pizza Burgers

Two of the best kabob recipes EVER:

Spicy Peanut Chicken Kabobs

and Beef on a Stick

Dress up your dogs with this tasty chili sauce! Chili Cheese Dogs

And for my 10th selection: Grilled Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches. Topped with a delicious mustard-horseradish sauce, these are so good!

Okay I said 10, but a couple of honorable mentions are in order:

First, these Country Style Barbecued Ribs

And these Inside Out Bacon Cheeseburgers with a Grilled Onion Mayo.

Now for more recipes for the Memorial Weekend Cookout....

A few appetizers:

If you haven't tried SLIDERS yet, you are missing out!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Grilled Bruschetta

Some salads:

Rotini Salad. This is my go-to pasta salad recipe...SO GOOD! I wish that I had a better picture...

Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Aaron McCargo Jr.'s Potato Salad

Italian Chopped Salad

Taco Salad

And let's not forget dessert:

Jimmy Carter Cake (scroll to the bottom of the linked post for the recipe.)

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Apricot Pecan Bars

Peachy Chiffon Peaches are difficult to find this early in the season here in Ohio, but you could use strawberries or blueberries instead. If you happen to be lucky enough to have ripe peaches in your neck of the woods, this dessert is especially pretty if you drop a few red raspberries over the top of the peaches too!

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Rhubarb Cream Pie

I'm trying some new recipes this weekend. I'll keep you posted on how they turn out. In the meantime....I hope you all have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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