Constant Growing Amazement Cooks!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mexican Pasta Salad

This is the pasta salad I made for Doug's surprise party.  It feeds 25 (and I made 4 batches!)

Mexican Pasta Salad

1 box penne pasta, cooked according to directions on box (6 cups cooked)
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 small cans sliced olives
2 c. corn
1 jicama, chopped or julienned
1 white onion, chopped
1 red and yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 T. minced garlic
Cilantro, finely chopped
4 diced tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
Greens of choice (6 cups; Brandi used romaine and spring mix- I didn't use any!)
3 avocados, chopped
Grated Parmesan

Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (I used approx. 3/4 of a bottle for this recipe, but use to taste)

Combine pasta with first set of ingredients. Add greens, avocado, tomatoes, Parmesan, and dressing prior to serving. Serves ~ 25.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Barbecue Green Beans

Who would have thought????  I was looking through my Pinterest pins and found this recipe that looked intriguing.

We love BBQ beans...but BBQ Green Beans?

FABULOUS!!!!  Easy recipe and so, so good!  Good enough for Bon Appetit!!!!

Barbecue Green Beans

     2 cans cut green beans, drained
    1/4 - 1/2 cup onion, diced
     5-6 slices bacon, chopped
     3/4 cup Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
or whatever BBQ sauce your like
or make your own with-
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • a titch of Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place green beans in the bottom of a casserole dish and set aside.
  2. Cook onion with the chopped bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until bacon is crisp. Drain most of the fat.
  3. Stir in BBQ sauce of choice and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  4. Pour the sauce over the green beans and gently mix. Bake green beans in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Cheesy Potato Gratin- Williams and Sonoma recipe

 Made this wonderful au gratin dish for Bon Appetit- the Gruyere makes it!!!!  Also made in a skillet and in the oven.  Not your traditional au gratin!

Cheesy Potato Gratin

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Enriched with two kinds of cheeses, this gratin is easy to prepare, as it does not call for layering the potatoes in a baking dish. Instead, chunks of potatoes are simmered on the stovetop in a fry pan, along with the ingredients for the sauce. Then the gratin is baked in the oven until golden brown and bubbling.


  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat an oven to 375ºF.  In a 10-inch nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly stir in the stock and cream. Add the Gruyère and thyme and stir until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and stir to coat them well. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the top is golden brown and bubbling at the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Braised Short Ribs with a Pretty Great Bacon-Pineapple Situation on Top

Okay, I want to mention "braising" before getting to the hilarious name of this recipe.  You braise meats that are usually tough...meaning you sear them in a hot pan, then slow cook them with a fitted lid in a small amount of liquid for several hours until the meat falls apart.  Short ribs are great for braising as is top round (think stroganoff and Swiss steak)  I was excited when I saw this- made it and knew it was "Bon Appetit"worthy.   It's fabulous- especially the Pretty Great Bacon-Pineapple Situation on Top."  Make double of that! If you go to Bon Appetit's web site, you can see pictures for step by step instructions.

The Real Name of This Recipe! from Bon Appetit magazine-

Braised Short Ribs with a Pretty Great Bacon-Pineapple Situation on Top

Best recipe name of all time.

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Prep your ingredients before you start cooking. First, coarsely chop 4 oz. bacon
  2. Wash your cutting board (or just flip it over!) so that you're not cutting vegetables on the same surface that you used to prep raw meat. Peel 1 onion and cut into quarters; set one quarter aside for the relish. Cut remaining quarters into large pieces.
  3. Rinse 1 3" piece of ginger, then very thinly slice crosswise (no need to peel). (I actually used minced ginger in a tube.)
  4. Place 4 short ribs on a plate; season all over with salt and pepper, turning pieces to season every surface.
  5. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low. Add bacon and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 7–10 minutes. Meanwhile, line a medium bowl with paper towels. Using wooden spoon, transfer bacon to a medium bowl, leaving fat in pot. Blot bacon with paper towels, then discard paper towels, leaving bacon in bowl.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high and add short ribs. Cook, turning once or twice, until very well browned on at least two sides, 12–15 minutes (it’s not necessary to brown all over as long as you get a sear on a couple sides).
  7. Transfer short ribs back to plate and reduce heat to medium. Add ginger and onion pieces to pot and cook, stirring often, until ginger is just starting to turn golden around the edges, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. Sriacha and 1 cup water-  stir to combine. Arrange short ribs in Dutch oven in a single layer (it’s okay if they’re not fully submerged in liquid).
  9. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake 30 minutes, then remove pot from oven and turn short ribs with tongs.
  10. Cover pot and return to oven. Continue to bake, turning every 30 minutes, until short ribs are fork-tender and pulling away from the bone, 60–70 minutes longer.
  11. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.
  12. Heat pot with juices over medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook until braising liquid is reduced by about half, 8–12 minutes.
  13. While juices are reducing, thinly slice reserved onion quarters. Add 1 cup pineapple chunks and sliced onion to bowl with bacon. Season lightly with salt and toss with remaining l Tbsp. rice vinegar.
  14. Place a strainer over a heatproof measuring cup and pour reduced juices through strainer. Discard solids. Let juices settle until fat rises to the top. Spoon off fat and discard.
  15. Pour de-fatted juices over short ribs. Spoon bacon-pineapple relish over meat and top with 1/4 cup cilantro.
  16.  Short ribs can be braised 1 day ahead. Let cool in (unreduced) braising liquid, cover, and chill. Reheat over low, then proceed with recipe. If making ahead, we recommend crisping fresh bacon for the relish.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Strawberry and Melon Caprese Salad with Brown Butter Balsamic Vinegrette

Last week at my Galentine Ooh-La-La party, I needed a refreshing salad with a twist.  I found it at  She did a more normal Caprese salad but I'm not a big fan of mixing strawberries and tomatoes together so I left out the tomatoes and added cantaloupe and know I'll make this salad over and over....truly you will want to lick the is so unique.  I also doubled the dressing (shown here) because I love LOTS of flavor.
1 1/2 - 2 cups chunked melon
1 1/2 -2 cups strawberries, chunked
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, torn in pieces
fresh mozzarella balls ( about 4 oz. or to taste)
Brown 4 T. of butter in a saute pan for several minutes.  I swirled my pan almost consistently on the burner.  You want it brown and nutty, not burnt.  Cool to room temperature.
Mix 5 Tb. balsamic vinegar (I actually used glazed)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tb. honey and stir into the butter.  The butter might congeal a little but that it also part of the magical goodness!  Drizzle over your salad.  Lick your fingers and keep licking the glaze mixture.  It is heaven!
∙ Serves 4

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Perfect Hashbrowns

Although I had purchased salmon for Sunday dinner, during church my tummy started growling for breakfast.  Hash browns in particular.  But when I started to make them, I thought of all the mushy hash browns I've made when what I was really desiring was crunchy.  I googled the perfect hash browns and found out what I was doing wrong!

And guess what!  It worked perfectly!

I peeled my Russet potatoes, then grated them.  After grating, place them in a towel or I used those disposable washcloths because maybe the towel can discolor.  I then made a ball and squeezed all the water out of the potatoes.  Well, almost all.  Then fry your potatoes in a couple Tablespoons of oil.  Layer the potatoes  1/2 inch thick covering the whole pan. Cook until browned.    Turn the entire hash brown over in one swoop and cook the other side.

They were perfect.  They were delicious.  Who knew that you were supposed to squish out the water?  Try it- you'll like it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stuffed Primavera Chicken

I saw this as a video on Facebook from and made my own version.  There are so many things you could do here!
Where they stuffed the chicken with zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions, I used
mushrooms, peppers and onions.  Ours was delicious!

Stuffed Primavera Chicken

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 zucchini, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place chicken on a cutting board and make 5 slits in each breast, being careful not to cut through completely. Drizzle oil over chicken and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  2. Stuff each chicken breast with zucchini, tomato, bell pepper, and red onion.
  3. Sprinkle each chicken breast with mozzarella.
  4. Bake until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, 25 minutes.
  5. Serve.