BLT with Spicy Avocado Yogurt Mayo

BLT Avocado Yogurt mayo

A BLT is an American classic.  The combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomato with a little mayonnaise and a crusty bread make the perfect sandwich.  A BLT is always my “go to” when I don’t know what else to order in a deli or diner, because it is not difficult to make; however, the quality of the sandwich is all dependent on the quality of the products you use.

Today I bring the sandwich to a higher level by choosing a whole grain sour dough bread, thick sliced bacon, and instead of mayonnaise, I made a spicy avocado yogurt mayo.  It is simple and delicious, and adds more protein to the sandwich to counteract all the carbs from the bread. Give this a try. . . . you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients:

16 – slices thick cut bacon
8 – slices whole grain sour dough bread
2 – large ripe tomatoes
Romain lettuce
1 – ripe avocado
¼ – cup fresh lemon juice
½ – cup plain greek yogurt
½ – tsp. salt
¼ – tsp. white ground pepper
1/8 – tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less to your taste)

Directions:

Start by frying the bacon in a large skillet until it is golden brown.  While the bacon is frying, let’s make the avocado yogurt mayo.

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit.  Scoop out the avocado and add it to a food processor (you can also use a blender).  Next add the greek yogurt, lemon juice, white pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.  If you do not like spice, use half the amount of cayenne pepper. Blend thoroughly until smooth and creamy.  Cover and set aside until the bacon is ready.

Spicy avocado yogurt mayo
Spicy Avocado Yogurt Mayo

You can make the avocado yogurt mayo ahead of time as long as you cover it well so that no air gets into the container.  

Once the bacon is nearly cooked, place it on a paper towel to drain.  In the meantime you can start to prepare the toast.  Slice the sour dough bread and toast it lightly.  Once the bacon and toast are done, it’s time to assemble the sandwich.

Spread a generous amount of the avocado yogurt mayo on both slices of bread.  Then place 4 slices of bacon on one half.

BLT

Next top it off with two large slices of tomato, and romain lettuce.  

It’s that simple.

Enjoy!

Makes 4 sandwiches




Chicken, Farro, Avocado Bowl

This chicken, farro, avocado bowl makes it easy to eat healthy. It has all the flavor and nutrition that you are looking for. You can easily get creative with this dish by using your favorite ingredients. A vegan version is also simple to accomplish; just replace the chicken with tofu or beans of your choice.

Start with a grain that you like. I chose farro, but you can use rice, quinoa, or couscous. Next, choose a protein such as chicken, beans, tofu, pork, beef, shrimp….anything your heart desires. However, if you want to keep it light and healthy, I suggest you use chicken, beans, or tofu. Add some sautéed or roasted vegetables, and top it off with a fresh garnish, such as avocado and/or homemade salsa.

The concept of the “bowl” reminds me of a deconstructed casserole. All the ingredients are put in one bowl and enjoyed together. It’s not baked like a traditional casserole, but it is just as comforting. My family and I like casseroles and “bowls”. They are not only fun and easy to eat, but they are also healthier than a traditional casserole, and delicious too.

Let’s get started. . .

Ingredients for farro:
2 – cups farro
1 – tsp. salt
1 1/2 – tbls. olive oil
1 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add salt and farro and cook until al dente or according to the package directions. Once the farro is cooked, drain it and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil, herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside until the rest of the meal is ready.

You don’t have to worry about the farro getting cold, because it is delicious at room temperature.

Now let’s make the chicken . . .

Ingredients for chicken:
3 – lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 – tsp. oregano
2 – tsp. chili powder
1 – tsp. corriander
1/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1 -cup chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 – tbls. tomato paste

Directions:
Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet. Once it is hot, add the seasoned chicken and brown on both sides. This should take about 2–3 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is browning, mix the oregano, chili powder,  corriander, cayenne pepper, and chicken stock in a small bowl.

Remove the chicken when it is browned, take a fork and knife and shred the chicken into strips then return it to the skillet. Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and stir well. Turn the flame to medium low and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Next, add the tomato paste and mix through the chicken thoroughly. Continue to cook the chicken about 10 minutes more, then remove from the heat.

Chicken and spices

While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the vegetables.

Ingredients:
3 – zucchini cut into bit sized pieces
3 carrots sliced on the diagonal
2 – bell pepper diced
1 – jalapeño pepper
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – tsp. oregano
2 – cloves garlic
1 – tbls. olive oil

Chopped vegetables

Directions:
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic cloves to a large skillet. As the oil is heating, let the garlic sauté and start to brown and soften, then add the chopped vegetables and seasonings. Stir and cook until tender crisp. Try not to over cook the vegetables. They should have a little crunch to them. When they are done, remove them from the heat and set aside.

Toppings . . .

Ingredients for Salsa:
2 – cups finely diced cucumber
1 – cup diced grape tomatoes
2 – tbls. finely diced onion
1/2 – tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 – tsp. black pepper
2 – tsp. olive oil

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Cucumber, tomato salsa

Slice two avocados to top off the bowl.

Assembly . . .

Start by placing about one cup of the farro into a bowl, add the chicken, sautéed vegetables, then top off with salsa and a few slices of avocado.

Makes about 6 servings.

Enjoy!




Loaded Chicken Pot Pie with Creamy Polenta Topping

Chicken Pot Pie, PolentaChicken Pot Pie is one of my favorite dishes. The tender bites of chicken, firm vegetables, creamy gravy, and the flaky, buttery pastry crust make the perfect comfort food. The only draw back is the guilt I feel after I eat it. So I decided to make a chicken pot pie that was equally satisfying, but with more vegetables, less salt, less fat, and a creamy polenta topping that equals a healthier, delicious comfort food with less guilt.

Let’s start with the filling.

Ingredients for Chicken filling:

1 – lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 – cups broccoli florets (fresh)
1/2 – medium onion diced
3 – carrots
2 – stalks celery
6 – oz. crimini mushrooms
2 – cloves garlic
1/2 – cup frozen peas
2 – cups chicken stock (no salt added)
1/2 – cup 2% milk
2 – tbls. butter
2 – tbls. flour
Salt
Black pepper
3/4 – tsp. herbs de Provence

Directions:

First prepare the vegetables. Dice the onion, slice the celery, carrots, and mushrooms, and cut the broccoli florets into bite sized pieces.

Add one cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup milk to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. This will be used to cook the polenta.

Next heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Mince garlic and add to the oil. Cut the chicken breast into bite sized pieces, and add to the skillet. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Cook the chicken until it is no longer pink, stirring often. This will only take about 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and a little more salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Make a little space in the skillet and add the butter and flour.

Stir and let cook about 1 minute then add the chicken stock, and milk.

Next add thefrozen peas, mix well and bring to a boil.

Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook until it starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat when done, cover and set aside until the polenta is ready.

Time to Cook the Polenta

Now the chicken stock and milk mixture should be boiling, so it is time to start cooking the polenta. I use regular corn meal. It takes a little longer to cook, so if you want to cut the time down you can use the quick cooking corn meal.

Ingredients for Polenta:

3/4 – cup corn meal
1 – cup chicken stock
1/2 – cup 2% milk
1 – tbls. butter
1/2 – cup pecorino romano cheese
3/4 – cup fontina cheese
1/2 – tsp. salt (or to taste)

Reduce the heat on the chicken stock and milk and add one-half teaspoon of salt. Next slowly add the polenta, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Continue to stir and cook the polenta until it becomes tender. It will take about 15-20 minutes. If the polenta seems too thick, add a little more chicken stock as necessary.

Once the polenta is ready, add the butter and cheese and stir until well incorporated. The consistency should be smooth and creamy.

Assembly

Fill individual oven-safe crocks with the chicken filling. Place the crocks on a cookie sheet for safer handling.

Top off with the polenta and bake under the broiler until the polenta starts to brown on top.

Keep an eye on them because this will only take a few minutes.

Serves immediately.
Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings




Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and Potatoes in Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, Potatoes, Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and potatoes cooked in beer is a delicious meal. I like to add carrots and mushrooms to add another level of flavor, and to round out the all-in-one meal.

My husband is Polish and he loves Kielbasa, so I make it on a regular basis.  It is great grilled, on a sandwich, or served with our favorite pierogis.  I am always trying new ways to prepare it, but I especially like this recipe because I don’t feel as guilty eating it because of the nutritional benefits of the sauerkraut.  It is rich in vitamins and minerals and high in fiber, and the fermentation process makes it a probiotic-food.

This recipe is easy to make and works well for family dinner, barbecue with friends, or watching Sunday football.  Give it a try, I think you will like it.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. Kielbasa (use your favorite brand)
32 – oz. sauerkraut
1 – cup diced onion
2 – cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups carrots (sliced in 1/2” rounds)
2 – medium golden potatoes (cut into bite sized pieces)
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
12 – oz. beer
1/4 – cup brown sugar (use more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. coriander
1/4 – tsp. sage
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:
Dice the onions and potatoes; slice the carrots and mushrooms, and chop the garlic. Heat one tablespoon canola oil in a heavy pot, then add the diced vegetables and garlic. Sauté about 8 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle with the coriander, black pepper, and sage. I don’t add the salt until the meal is cooked because it depends on how much salt the sauerkraut and kielbasa have.

Cut the kielbasa into one-inch pieces. Push the vegetables to one side and add the kielbasa to the pot.

Cook about 3 minutes or so until the pieces start to brown.

In the meantime, put the brown sugar into a large bowl and add the beer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Use any beer you like, they all work well. Then open the sauerkraut and rinse under cold water and drain. I prefer to use sauerkraut in the bag, and organic if possible.

When the kielbasa is ready, add the beer and cook about 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the sauerkraut and 1/2 cup water. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium low, cover the pot and let cook about 25 minute.

When ready, taste and add salt if necessary.

Enjoy!

Serves 4

 




Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

Salmon, poached, dill

This poached salmon is delicious and simple to make. The combination of wine and orange juice give the salmon a fresh and mild taste, and the dill sauce compliments its perfectly.

The first time I tried this recipe was about 13 years ago at an office luncheon. It was a potluck lunch and this salmon was one of the dishes. At that time, salmon was not my favorite fish because I often found it to have a strong taste. When I tried the salmon, I was pleasantly surprised, and I made sure to ask how it was made. Ever since, this is the only recipe I use.

Another good thing about this recipe is that it is good left over or even served cold.

Ingredients:
1-1/4 – lb. salmon
1 – cup dry white wine
1 – cup orange juice (no pulp)
1 – small bunch fresh dill
salt
ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the salmon skin side down (scales removed) into a baking pan. Add wine and orange juice. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and place the dill on top. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours before cooking.

While the salmon is marinating, you can make the dill sauce.

Ingredients for Dill Sauce:
1/2 – cup mayonnaise
1 – tbls. Finely chopped fresh dill
1 – tsp, Dijon mustard
1 – tbls. Orange juice

Mix all together and refrigerate until ready to use.

When you are ready to cook the salmon place it in a pre-heated 375° oven, and cook for about 15 minutes. Do not over cook the salmon. It should be moist and flaky. If you are not sure when it is ready, place a thermometer in the thickest part of the salmon and the temperature should be 120° for medium-rare.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.




Brussel Sprout Hash and Eggs

Brussel Sprout Hash, Bacon, Potato, Eggs

Brussel sprout hash and eggs is a delicious and healthy meal any time of day—breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner.  I don’t know about you, but my family and I like all-in-one meals, and this hash fits the bill perfectly. The shredded brussel sprouts are enhanced with a little bacon and diced potato to make a very tasty hash. The egg on top balances out the meal perfectly.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. brussel sprouts
1 – large red potato
2 – slices of thick-cut bacon
1/2 – cup diced red onion
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flake
1/2 – tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
4 – eggs

Directions:
Peel the potato and dice it into small pieces about the size of a blueberry. Finely dice the bacon and add about 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet. Once the oil is heated, add the bacon and cook about 2 minutes. Next add the potatoes and diced onion. Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and black pepper, red pepper flakes, and stir well. Cook about 5-6 minutes until the potatoes are about half way cooked.

While the potatoes are cooking, thinly slice the brussel sprouts. Add a little more oil to the skillet if needed, then add the brussel sprouts along with the remaining salt and black pepper. Stir well, and add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook about 10 minutes until the spouts are tender. Stir occasionally.

When the hash is ready, turn off the heat and set aside. In a small skillet, fry one egg over easy for each serving. Add a little salt and black pepper to taste.

Place a helping of hash and top off with the fried egg.

Makes four servings.

Enjoy!

Brussel Sprout Hash, Bacon, Potato, Eggs




Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce

Apple Crisp, Caramel, Ice Cream

Apple Crisp is one of the best desserts ever; it is much easier to make than apple pie, and you have the added yummieness of a crumb topping. This recipe is sweet, delicious and decadent. Serve it hot with ice cream and caramel sauce for a little extra goodness.

Convenience and Simplicity

Besides being delicious, it is convenient to serve to guests. Prepare the dessert about one to two hours before your guests arrive, and set aside. Pop it in the oven just as you sit down to dinner, and about 45 minutes later it is ready to come out. The timing is perfect…you have a nice meal and a few minutes to digest while the apple crisp rests for about 10-20 minutes before serving.

This recipe is versatile too. You can add berries or raisins or even nuts…be creative!

I suggest you make the caramel sauce first so that it can cool while you prepare the apple crisp (see recipe below).

Ingredients for crumb topping:
1 – cup brown sugar
3/4 – cup flour
3/4 – cup oats
1 – tsp cinnamon
1/2 – cup unsalted butter

Ingredients for filling:
6 – apples
2 – tbls. sugar
1/2 – tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
Mix together the brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Melt the butter and add it to the oat mixture. Mix together to moisten the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Peel the apples and cut into quarters to remove the core. Cut each quarter into 3 slices. Place the apple slices into a large bowl.

Apples

Mix together two tablespoons sugar and one-half teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apple slices and mix to coat the apples evenly. Butter an 8 inch square baking dish, add the apples and spread the crumb mixture over top.

Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for about 45 minutes (check at 30 minutes) or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.

Caramel Sauce

For the Caramel Sauce, I found the following recipe by Ree Drummond that I think you will like.

Ingredients for Caramel Sauce:
1 – cup light brown sugar
1/2 – cup half-and-half
4 – tbls. butter
1/8 – tsp. Salt
1 – tbls. Vanilla extract

Directions:
Add the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter, and salt to a sauce pan. Stir all together over a medium flame and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 5-7 minutes until it starts to thicken a little. Stir often. Next add the vanilla and cook another 2-3 minutes. Store in a glass jar and refrigerate until you want to use it.

The caramel sauce will solidify as it cools down in the refrigerator. Before you use the sauce, place it in a bowl of hot water to soften until it is pourable.

Serving the Dessert

When you serve the apple crisp, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Makes 6-8 servings

Apple Crisp, Caramel Sauce




Chocolate Chip Cookies

The perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. If you agree with me, then this recipe is for you. You can’t go wrong with these cookies. When I asked my family what cookies I should bake for the holidays, these Chocolate Chip cookies were at the top of the list.

I have been making this recipe since I was a teenager. I don’t know where it came from, but it has been my go too recipe most of my life. Other recipes that I have tried over the years just don’t measure up. This recipe calls for both chocolate chips and walnuts. Of course you can use any kind of nut you prefer or none at all, but I think the nuts make them extra good.

Ingredients:
1/2 – cup unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 – cup sugar
1/4 – cup brown sugar
1 – egg
1 – tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 – cup all purpose flour
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. baking soda
1/2 – cup chocolate chips
1/2 – cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Once the butter is creamy, add in the flour mixture a little at a time and mix until all incorporated.

Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Spoon teaspoonfuls of cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet or on parchment paper. Space them about 2 inches apart.

Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Place the cookies on racks to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies




Egg Pie

Egg Pie, Custard, Flan

Egg Pie is a cross between a custard pie and flan. It is smooth, silky, sweet, and delicious. This recipe comes from my brother-in-law, Kenny. He made it for us one Thanksgiving a few years ago. Since then it has become one of my family’s favorite pies.

It is simple to make with only five ingredients for the custard. I am using a homemade crust, but for convenience you can certainly use a ready made crust, such as Pillsbury’s pie crust that is found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.

Ingredients for Pie Filling:
2 – eggs
1 – cup sugar
1 1/2 – tsp. Vanilla
1 – can evaporated milk
1/2 – stick butter (softened)

Ingredients for Pie Crust:
1 1/2 – sticks unsalted butter (very cold or frozen)
3 – cups all-purpose flour
1/3 – cup Crisco shortening (cold)
1 – tsp. salt
1 – tsp. Sugar
1/2 – cup ice water

Directions for Pie Crust:
Make the pie crust first, because it has to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling out. This recipe is from Ina Garten. It find it is full proof. It comes out perfect every time.

Using a food processor, blend the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse it 2-3 times to incorporate the ingredients. Dice the cold butter and add it along with the Crisco shortening to the flour mixture. Pulse several times (10-12 times) to cut the butter into the flour mixture. The butter will become small pieces similar to the size of a pea.

Hold down the pulse button and gradually add the ice water. Continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead into a smooth ball. This will take only about one minute. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, roll out the pie crust on a floured board. Roll out until it is large enough to hang over the sides of the pie plate. Press the dough down into the pie plate to take the form of the dish. You used leave about a 1/2” overhang to form into the crust. Fold the excess dough to sit on top of the pie plate edge, and using two fingers, crimp the dough together working your way around the entire pie plate to form a beautiful crust.

Set the pie crust aside while you mix the filling.

Directions for the Pie Filling:
In a mixer, cream softened butter with eggs and sugar. It will take a few minutes to get it smooth. Add the vanilla and evaporated milk and mix well. The mixture will look curdled, but don’t worry this is normal.

Pour the filling into the pie crust. Coat the edge of the crust with milk using a pastry brush.  This gives the finish product a little shine, and it also helps to prevent it from burning.

Place the pie in the center of a preheated 350° oven, and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

About half way through the cooking process when the crust begins to brown, remove the pie from the oven and loosely cover the pie crust with strips of aluminum foil.  This will assure you that the crust will not burn.  Be careful and use oven mits to prevent burning yourself while putting on the foil.

Return the pie to the oven and continue cooking until golden brown.  You can test to see if it is cooked by inserting a butter knife into the center. If it comes out clean it is done.  Do not over cook it…you want the filling to be set, but soft.

Enjoy!

Egg Pie, Custard, flan

 




Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew is the perfect dish for the winter months. It’s hearty, healthy, and delicious. Stew is a great way to use up vegetables you have in the refrigerator or freezer.  This recipe includes, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes, but you can use any vegetables that you prefer.  Brussel sprouts, green beans, or any root vegetable works nicely.

Ingredients:
2 – lbs. skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
2 – stalks celery
1 – large onion
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flake
4 – large carrots
1 – tbls. tomato paste
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms
2 – large potatoes
32 – oz. chicken stock
1 – can diced tomatoes
2 – cloves garlic
1/2 – tsp. oregano
1/2 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt
Ground black pepper
Adobo Seasoning

Directions:
Using a food processor, finely chop the celery and onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped celery and onions, and red pepper flake. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle a little salt, black pepper, and Adobo on both sides of the chicken pieces. Move the celery mixture to one side of the pot to make room for the chicken. Add the garlic and chicken pieces, and brown on both sides.

Clear a small spot and add the tomato paste and carrots.

Cook for 1 minute then add the mushrooms and potatoes. Stir and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs de Provence, oregano, and salt to taste.

Stir and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn the flame down to a simmer and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with a crusty bread and enjoy!