Creamy Cucumber-Avocado Salad

This fabulously easy salad was creamy and delicious. We ate it as a side with grilled vegetable and fresh ricotta sandwiches, but it could also be served as a light summertime main dish.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used avocado mayonnaise, chipotle Cholula hot sauce, and cilantro. My kids thought that it tasted like guacamole. 🙂 Great.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 1 seedless cucumber (about 3/4 to 1 pound), washed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used avocado mayonnaise)
  • juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Chipotle Cholula, to taste
  • chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce; adjust to taste.
  3. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with chopped herbs.

Broccoli & Egg Fried Rice

I am taking a break from bombarding everyone with sourdough recipes. I still have quite a few tasty ones to share! 😉

This vegetarian fried rice dish was fast, easy, crowd-pleasing comfort food. Making it in a large cast iron skillet was the perfect vessel to create just the right amount of crispy rice and caramelized vegetables. According to the original recipe, another secret to getting color on the rice was the inclusion of sugar.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kat Boytsova. I modified the proportions and substituted Basmati rice for sushi rice. It is a wonderful base recipe to incorporate any vegetables and/or protein with leftover rice in the fridge.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 5 cups of broccoli florets and stems (pieces should be of similar size)
  • 1 large bunch scallions (I used 7)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 6-7 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 4-5 cups cooked, day-old sushi rice (I used leftover brown and white Basmati rice)
  • 4 T toasted sesame oil
  • 3 T unseasoned rice vinegar

This fried rice comes together really quickly, so it’s important that all of your ingredients are prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.

To Prep:

  1. Place broccoli to a medium bowl.
  2. Trim scallions on both ends, then cut crosswise into 1″ pieces. Transfer to bowl with broccoli.
  3. Whisk eggs in another medium bowl to combine and season with 3/4 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Whisk sugar, soy sauce, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a small bowl.
  5. Grate the ginger and garlic cloves into the bowl of sauce and give it another whisk.

To Cook:

  1. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet (or non-stick if you don’t have one)over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  2. Add broccoli and scallions, season with a good pinch of salt, and toss with a spatula to coat in oil. Cook, undisturbed, until well charred on one side, about 5 minutes. When we say “undisturbed,” we mean it! You need consistent, direct contact with the hot pan in order to get color on the veggies, so resist the urge to constantly fuss with them.
  3. Mix with spatula and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until broccoli is crisp-tender and scallions are wilted, about 2 more minutes. Transfer veggies back to the bowl they came from.
  4. Heat remaining 5 tablespoons vegetable oil in skillet over medium-low.
  5. Add eggs and cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until large curds begin to form, about 30 seconds. The eggs will cook very quickly, so try to err on the side of runny and less-cooked because they can become spongy if overcooked.
  6. Add the rice and soy sauce mixture to eggs. Toss well to combine, then press down evenly into skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until rice is slightly crisped on one side, about 5 minutes. (Remember: undisturbed!)
  7. Return veggies to skillet and toss well to combine.
  8. Remove from heat, add sesame oil and rice vinegar, and toss once more. Serve.

Herby Polenta with Corn, Eggs, & Feta

This is another wonderful one-pot vegetarian baked egg casserole that can be served any time of day. The title of the New York Times article about it was, “Polenta That You’ll Never Need to Stir: Baking a classic in a sea of eggs and cheese gives it complexity.” Irresistible. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I used my special grits from Charleston, South Carolina instead of polenta. I also increased the amount of garlic, reduced the red pepper flakes, and kept the corn kernels whole. I loved all of the brightness from the combination of fresh herbs. Delicious!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 9 ounces (255 g) frozen corn kernels (about 2 cups), defrosted
  • 6 to 7 ounces (~200 g) baby spinach (about 10 lightly packed cups), roughly torn or sliced
  • 1 cup (150 g) coarse cornmeal (grits or polenta)
  • 1 packed cup (50 g) finely grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced, 2 T reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 T finely chopped and reserved for garnish
  • 3 T roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 T roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups (530 ml) whole milk
  • 2 cups (475 ml) chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3 T (40 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 5 ounces (140 g) Greek feta, roughly crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
  • warm naan, pita, or crusty bread, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F/200°C, preferably on convection.
  2. If desired, add the corn to a food processor and pulse once or twice, just until roughly chopped. (I opted to leave the kernels whole.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the corn, spinach, cornmeal, Parmesan, scallions, 1/4 cup cilantro, parsley, dill, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Transfer this mixture to a large, deep, oven-proof skillet, then add the milk, stock and butter, stirring gently to mix through. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and give everything a good whisk.
  6. Return to the oven and bake until the cornmeal is cooked through and the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Give the polenta another good whisk — it should be quite smooth and not completely set — then stir in half the feta.
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F/220°C, preferably on convection.
  8. Use a dinner spoon to make 8 shallow wells in the polenta. Crack an egg into each well and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining feta all over, and bake until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny, 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, combine the reserved scallions and cilantro in a bowl with the oil. Spoon this mixture all over the polenta and eggs and sprinkle with the red-pepper flakes, if desired. Serve directly from the pan.

Turkey Corn Chowder with Bacon

This chowder was the best use of leftover turkey I’ve found so far. It was so wonderful, it may have to become the traditional recipe for leftover Thanksgiving turkey in my house. It was loaded with flavor and topped with bacon. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com, contributed by Rhoda Boone. It would also be wonderful with shredded rotisserie chicken.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 slices bacon (4 ounces)
  • 1 medium or large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds (halved lengthwise if large)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 medium jalapeño, finely chopped, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 cups (48 ounces) homemade or store-bought chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Two 4-ounce cans mild diced green chiles, drained
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 cups shredded turkey or rotisserie chicken
  • 10 ounces frozen corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half, plus more to taste
  • sliced scallions, for serving
  • chopped parsley, for serving
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Drain on a paper towel and crumble into small pieces and set aside, reserving the fat in the pot. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat, and save for another use.
  3. Return the pot to medium heat, and add onion, carrot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes more.
  5. Add jalapeño and cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.
  6. Add stock, sweet potato, chiles, oregano, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cook until sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the turkey or chicken and corn and cook until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and half-and-half. Continue to cook until just warmed through.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning, thinning the chowder with another 1/4 cup half-and-half, if desired.
  10. Serve chowder topped with crumbled bacon, scallions, and parsley.

Quick New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

This quick recipe results in a full-flavored replica of a classic version that has simmered for hours. I served it to my family for our past two Mardi Gras feasts- followed by a mandatory King Cake, of course! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from David Guas, a New Orleans native and chef-owner of Bayou Coffee Bar and Eatery in Arlington, Virginia, via The Washington Post.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 8 ounces smoked, cooked pork sausage
  • 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 7-8 scallions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 stems flat-leaf parsley, leaves minced
  • about 1-2 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice cooked in 2 cups chicken stock, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moons.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add the sausage and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring a few times, so some of its fat renders. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a shallow bowl.
  4. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, scallions, and garlic to the rendered fat in the pot; stir to coat.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until just softened.
  6. Add the beans, stock, thyme, bay leaves, black and cayenne peppers.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  8. Uncover and remove the bay leaves and thyme sprig stems with a slotted spoon.
  9. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash about 1 cup of the beans against the side of the pot, or until desired thickness is achieved.
  10. Return the sausage to the pot. When heated through, stir in the parsley.
  11. Serve hot, over cooked rice, with hot sauce, as desired. I have served it in individual bowls topped with a scoop of rice or in a serving dish over rice.

Chile-Butter Chicken With Vinegared Potatoes, Scallions, & Herbs

One of my friends is always encouraging me to roast a whole chicken for dinner. Well, needless to say, I have a couple fabulous roast chicken dishes to share! I am so happy that I always take her advice. 🙂

I loved all of the fresh herbs in this first dish- especially because I had tons of CSA cilantro and parsley at the time. The chicken is also roasted over a bed of sliced potatoes- which soaked up a lot of the wonderful pan drippings. Delicious! This wonderful sheet pan recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I used a larger chicken and increased the amount of potatoes and garlic.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 (4 1/2 to 5 pound) chicken, or 4 1/2 to 5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons red-pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used a mandoline)
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup cilantro and/or parsley, tender leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast. Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. Melt butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add red-pepper flakes, paprika and grated garlic and swirl to combine. Let sizzle a minute or 2 to really infuse the butter, and remove from heat.
  3. Layer the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with vinegar, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  4. Place chicken on top of potatoes, breast side up, and drizzle with the chile butter, drizzling any extra butter onto the potatoes.
  5. Place in oven and roast until chicken and potatoes are deeply golden brown, and chicken is cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes for a whole chicken, 40 to 45 minutes for parts. (I used the oven temperature probe and cooked the whole chicken until the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reached 165 degrees.) 
  6. Remove from oven and let chicken rest on potatoes for a few minutes so the juices mingle with the potatoes. Carve the chicken (or slice the pieces) and transfer to a large plate or platter along with potatoes.
  7. Scatter with herbs and scallions before serving.

Chicken with Vinegar

I have made this simple and full-flavored dish a couple of times recently. It’s a crowd pleaser in my house.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. According to the article, Jean-Georges Vongerichten learned how to make this recipe from the chef Paul Bocuse, who popularized it at La Mère Brazier in Lyon, France.

I decreased the oven temperature, used shallots in the sauce and scallions as a garnish. I kept all of the drippings to make the sauce and omitted the water and butter in the finished sauce. The extra sauce was wonderful drizzled over roasted potatoes and sautéed greens.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3-pound chicken, cut up for sautéing
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
  • 1 cup good red-wine vinegar (preferably with 5% acidity)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, optional
  • fresh parsley, thyme, or tarragon for garnish
  • sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Set a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; when it is hot, place chicken in the skillet, skin side down. Cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is nicely browned. Turn and cook 3 minutes on the other side. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place skillet in the oven. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until almost done, about 165 degrees (juices will run clear, and there will be just a trace of pink near the bone). Remove chicken to an ovenproof platter. Place it in the oven and turn off the heat, and leave the door slightly ajar; alternatively place in a warming drawer tented with foil.
  4. Place skillet over medium-high heat, and add shallots; sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add vinegar, and raise the heat to high. Cook a minute or two, or until the powerful acid smell has subsided somewhat. Add 1/2 cup water if using vinegar with >5% acidity (I omitted the water), and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring, until the mixture is slightly reduced and somewhat thickened.
  6. Stir in butter, if desired.
  7. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet, and turn the chicken in the sauce. Garnish with herbs and scallions, as desired. Serve immediately.

Note: Most wine vinegar sold in the United States has an acidity level of 7%; many French vinegars are just 5% acidity. So it’s best to cut strong vinegar with some water.

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