Tag Archives: cheese

Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad

Greek Salad 2

With tomato season in full swing here, this salad makes a frequent appearance at our dinner table. It is perfect for serving with just about any grilled meat or fish. It is also a great partner with soups, sandwiches, or quiche for a quick summer meal.

I love to use mini cucumbers in this salad, or the long seedless English cucumbers. The skins are thin and provide a great contrasting color and crunch to the salad. Regular cucumbers are often too seedy and have much tougher skins.

I usually serve the feta cheese on the side. It becomes mushy if left in the salad for too long.

Greek Salad 1

RECIPE:

Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad

Greek Salad 2

3-4 tomatoes, chopped
4-6 mini cucumbers or 1 English seedless cucumber, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp Greek seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, and onion. Stir together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad. Stir in feta just before serving (or serve feta on the side).

Serve right away or refrigerate.

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Filed under Salads, Side Dishes

Baked Chicken Taquitos with Cilantro Ranch Dressing

041811 073-1Finger foods with dip are always popular around here. These chicken taquitos can be served with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or our favorite is this creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing. It is hard to say whether it is the chicken taquitos or the dip that is most popular. We use this dressing for all kinds of things: on taco salads or tostadas, for dipping quesadillas, as a regular salad dressing, over grilled chicken. Some little people around here have even been known to eat a vegetable or two if I serve this dip along side. It is also great as a dip for raw vegetables. The recipe below makes a dressing that is pourable, like a creamy salad dressing. If you want a thicker dip, substitute sour cream for half of the mayo, and use a little less buttermilk.

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I prefer to use flour tortillas for these, but you can also use corn tortillas. If you are using corn tortillas, place 2-3 tortillas between damp paper towels and microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften them before filling with chicken mixture. Corn tortillas tend to crack easily, so only work with a few at a time. Flour tortillas can be rolled easily at room temperature. Try to use the small fajita-sized tortillas; it is easier to get a tighter roll.

Brush the filled and tightly rolled tortillas with a small amount of olive or vegetable oil and then sprinkle lightly with a coarse salt (like kosher salt). Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve with your favorite dip.

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These make a great main dish or appetizer. Cut in half on an angle for a nice appetizer-sized portion.

RECIPES:

Baked Chicken Taquitos

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4 oz (1/2 pkg) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa
1 lime, juiced (about 2 Tbs)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 green onions, sliced
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups grated Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese

12-18 small flour or corn tortillas
kosher salt
olive oil or vegetable oil

sour cream, salsa, guacamole or Cilantro Ranch Dressing (for dipping)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray (or use non-stick foil).

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, until soft. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion and garlic powders. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well. (You can prepare this mixture ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to cook.)

If you are using corn tortillas: Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave between damp paper towels for about 20-30 seconds until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. Flour tortillas can be worked with at room temperature.

Place about 3 Tbs of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Roll it up as tightly as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other.

Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the uncooked taquitos lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends just begin to brown.

Serve whole, or cut taquitos in half on an angle (this is a nicer size for appetizers).

Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or Cilantro Ranch Dressing for dipping.

Makes about 12-18 taquitos (using small flour tortillas); amount will vary depending on the size of the tortillas

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

1 package ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup kefir or buttermilk (or regular milk)
2 tomatillos** or 4 Tbs green salsa
½ bunch of cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1-2 jalapenos (with or without the seeds; with seeds=spicier)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving for optimal flavor.

**Optional: Roast tomatillos for 20 mins at 400°F before adding them to the blender. If you are using a spicy green salsa instead of the tomatillos, go easy on the jalapenos.

FOR A THICKER DIP: Use 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup sour cream, and reduce the kefir/buttermilk to 1/4 cup.

 

Recipe adapted from OurBestBites

 

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Filed under Appetizers, Condiments/Sauces, Main Dishes, Salads

Southwest Turkey (or Chicken) Vegetable Chowder

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I love soup season. I think that soup is a great year-round food, but some in my family don’t like to see it when the weather gets too warm. So I take full advantage of these cold, snowy months to make and freeze as much soup as possible.

This turkey chowder is definitely one of my favorite soups, and is adaptable to whatever vegetables or meat (turkey vs chicken) you have on hand. It is creamy, filling and has a great southwestern flavor from added green chilies and salsa verde (and some pepper jack cheese).

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This soup is also a good example of my procrastination. Within a few days of Thanksgiving, the family was getting tired of turkey leftovers, so I put the turkey carcass in the freezer to make soup with soon. Is January still considered soon? The resulting turkey stock made a great base for this chowder, but you could also use canned chicken broth and shredded or diced chicken.

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I served the soup with these Cheddar & Herb Drop Biscuits, which were perfect for dipping into all of that creamy goodness.

RECIPE:

Southwest Turkey/Chicken Vegetable Chowder

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6-8 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped**
1-2 cups shredded cabbage
6 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup (8 oz) green salsa (salsa verde)
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies, undrained
2-3 cups diced or shredded cooked turkey or chicken
1 can corn**
2 large carrots, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped cauliflower (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste (about ½ tsp salt; ¼ tsp pepper)**

In a large stockpot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Drain bacon grease, leaving 2 Tbs drippings in pot. Add onion, celery and red pepper to bacon drippings in the pot. Cook until crisp-tender. Stir in cabbage and cook until cabbage is wilted, but not browned.

Stir in broth, cream and salsa. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in green chilies, turkey or chicken, corn and carrots. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add potatoes and cauliflower (or any other desired vegetables). Cook for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Gradually stir in cheese, stirring until melted. Taste and season with salt** and pepper. Stir in reserved bacon, or sprinkle on top of individual bowls of chowder.

**I used turkey stock made from a brined turkey, so I did not add any salt. How much you need will depend on taste and the saltiness of your broth. In place of the corn and red pepper, you can also substitute a bag of frozen corn with mixed peppers.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries

Best Ever Cheddar and Herb Drop Biscuits

040910 018-2Looking for a great bread to serve with dinner? But no time for yeast and rising bread? Hate to roll out biscuit dough?

These biscuits are super fast, easy, and taste better than any biscuits I have ever tried. They can be on the table in just about 20 minutes, from start to finish.

I am not usually a fan of biscuits. They tend to be dry and flavorless. And rolling out biscuit dough never seems worth the effort. Not so with these flavorful drop biscuits! Full of cheese and garlic flavor, with a slight tanginess from the buttermilk or kefir (I am definitely a kefir fan!) Brushed with additional melted butter/garlic/herbs at the end, they are not your average hockey-puck biscuits.

Great served with pasta (in place of garlic bread) or with a nice Sunday roast. In fact, I would have a hard time coming up with meals they would not be great with.

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RECIPE:

Cheddar and Herb Drop Biscuits

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 heaping cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup** buttermilk or kefir (I used 1 cup + 2Tbs kefir)

3 Tbs melted butter
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
¼ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease or line a large baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder and salt. Use a pastry blender, or two forks, to cut in butter until dough forms small pea-sized crumbs. Stir in shredded cheese. Mix in buttermilk or kefir just until moist. **Add an additional 1-2 Tbs buttermilk or kefir if biscuit dough is overly dry (dry spots here and there are fine, but the dough should hold together, and not still be crumbly).

Use two spoons or a cookie dough scoop to drop the biscuits onto a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until browned and golden.

While the biscuits are baking, in a small bowl combine melted butter, parsley flakes, and garlic powder. As soon as the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the hot biscuits with the melted butter mixture. Serve immediately.

Yield: 12-18 biscuits

NOTE: If you don’t have buttermilk or kefir, you can substitute sour milk: Place 1 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup. Add milk to 1 Cup line. Stir. Let sit for about 5 minutes before using.

Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

 

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Filed under Breads

Cheese Stuffed Peppers and Pasta Shells

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I love stuffed vegetables—squash, peppers, tomatoes—but my kids usually turn up their noses at such things. This recipe is easily adaptable for all of our tastes, pasta shells for the kids and vegetable shells for those of us who actually enjoy food with a little color.

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One of my peppers was wobbly, so I cut a thin slice out of the bottom (being careful not to create a hole in the bottom of the pepper) to help keep the pepper level in the baking dish.

DSC02311-1 This filling is a standard ricotta manicotti filling, thick and cheesy, but I also love it mixed with spinach or other sautéed vegetables.

DSC02317-1 Stuff your peppers or pasta shells with the cheese mixture and place in a baking dish.

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DSC02325-1 Top with sauce– a jarred marinara sauce or homemade spaghetti sauce works great—and bake, covered, for about 45 minutes at 350°F.

DSC02328-1 After it is cooked through, I like to top it with a little extra cheese and pop it back in the oven for about 5 minutes.

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Serve with a tossed salad and crusty garlic bread!

RECIPE:

Cheese Stuffed Peppers or Pasta Shells (or Manicotti)

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3 whole red or green peppers   OR
——½ box jumbo shells or manicotti noodles, cooked
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan
2 eggs
1 tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 jar marinara sauce (or about 2-3 cups homemade sauce)
Additional grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F

If using peppers, cut peppers in half and remove seeds.

Combine cheeses, eggs and seasonings. Stuff peppers (or cooked pasta shells/manicotti noodles) with cheese mixture. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Place stuffed peppers/shells/manicotti in pan. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the filled peppers or shells.

Bake, covered, at 350°F for 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired, and bake 5-10 minutes longer.

ALTERNATE PREPARATION: Add well-drained chopped spinach and/or other sautéed vegetables (mushrooms, onions, zucchini/squash, eggplant) to cheese mixture; stuff and bake as directed.

 

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Filed under Main Dishes

Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlic Breadsticks

FEB 6, 2010 044-1 Okay, technically this is linguini. But if you close your eyes, it all tastes the same anyway.

This is one of Big J’s favorites. It ranks in his top 5 meals (maybe even higher), and is the only non-Asian based meal on the list. It is easy enough to put together that when I’m looking to score some “Good Mom Points”, I will even make it for him for lunch. He definitely counts this as one of the homeschool perks: hot home-cooked lunches instead of soggy PB&J.

I didn’t get any prep pictures of the the Alfredo Sauce, but it is basically a wonderfully rich blend of  chicken broth, cream, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. There is no need for added thickeners (flour, cornstarch, etc). The cheeses make it plenty thick all on their own! It can easily be put together while your pasta is cooking.

You can serve it on its own, but I usually have several “toppings” on hand as well: chopped grilled chicken, cooked & crumbled bacon, steamed or roasted broccoli, barely-cooked baby peas (these are my favorite!).

Garlic Breadsticks

This is an easy to work with dough (very similar to the Cinnamon Twist dough, just without the egg and sugar).

Divide dough in half and roll out into rectangles. Use a sharp knife to cut dough into strips (a pizza cutter works great).

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Melt butter in a jellyroll pan (here I have half of a batch of dough in a 9×13” pan). Place strips in pan, and turn each strip over to coat both sides with butter. Cover pan and let rise 30-60 minutes.

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Sprinkle with garlic powder and cheese and bake for 10-12 mins.

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Serve with your favorite pasta or soup dish.

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RECIPES:

Fettuccine Alfredo

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¼ cup butter
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1-2 Tbs white wine, optional
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Fettuccine (or other pasta)

Optional Toppings:
Grilled chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Roasted or steamed broccoli
Baby peas, cooked until just tender

In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter slowly. Add garlic and cream cheese and stir until melted. Add cream, chicken broth, white wine and pepper. Stir in Parmesan. Stir with a whisk as it heats to get a smooth sauce. Cook until sauce is smooth and heated through.

Prepare fettuccine as directed on package. Serve fettuccine with alfredo sauce and desired toppings.

Garlic Breadsticks

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1 ½ cups warm water
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs yeast
1 tsp salt
3 ½ – 4 cups flour
½ cup melted butter
Garlic powder
Parmesan cheese, optional

Mix water, sugar, yeast, salt and flour. Add more flour, if needed, to make a soft dough. Knead.

Melt butter in a jellyroll pan. Set aside.

Divide dough in half. Roll dough into 2 rectangles. Cut into 1-inch wide strips. Place dough strips ½ inch apart in pan, turning over to coat both sides with butter. Let rise 30-60 minutes (until doubled). Sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan, if desired. Bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes.

Makes about 18 breadsticks.

 

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Filed under Breads, Main Dishes