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JEWISH HONEY CAKE

JEWISH HONEY CAKE

This moist, sweet Jewish Honey Cake is served on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and is eaten in hopes of a sweet year to follow.  It has all the warm fall spices like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and flavored with a bit of rum. …

LEMON HERB-ROASTED CHICKEN

LEMON HERB-ROASTED CHICKEN

Is there anything that feels more homey and comforting than a roasted chicken?  This lemon herb-roasted chicken takes your mom’s Sunday roasted chicken and bumps it up a notch.  It’s flavored with fresh lemon, thyme, rosemary, and sage, onion, wine, and chicken stock.  It’s moist,…

TOASTED ISRAELI COUSCOUS SALAD

TOASTED ISRAELI COUSCOUS SALAD

This toasted Israeli couscous salad is nutritious with chopped fresh vegetables and tasty, with zesty lemon, basil vinaigrette.  This salad is a great lunch or a healthy, flavorful side dish.  I like to serve it with Grilled BBQ Pork Chops, Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken, or Grilled Piri Piri Chicken.

Bowl of toasted Israeli couscous salad with minced fresh vegetables, herbs, and zesty lemon/basil vinaigrette.

Israeli couscous is the big, pearly cousin of the tiny little couscous beads.  Where the traditional couscous just gets a soaking of liquid to soften, Israeli couscous gets simmered much like pasta.  

If you’ve never tried it, you are in for a treat.  It tastes like pasta but is a little more chewy- more like barley.  And it absorbs whatever flavors it is dressed or mixed with, so with the homemade lemon basil vinaigrette to dress the couscous, this dish is a flavor explosion.

Bowl of toasted Israeli couscous salad with minced fresh vegetables, herbs, and zesty lemon/basil vinaigrette.

This salad is a tribute to my girlfriend who made it every Rosh Hashana with a gorgeous roasted chicken.  It was a meal that I looked forward to every year.  She has since passed, but making this recipe keeps her close to my heart.

TIPS FOR MAKING THIS RECIPE

  • Using an immersion blender for the dressing emulsifies it so it doesn’t separate as quickly.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the dressing.  It will help keep the dressing stable as well.
  • Take the time to toast the couscous before adding the chicken broth.  It gives a nutty flavor to the dish.  Also, cooking it in chicken broth also adds additional flavor.
  • I like to add some of the dressing to the couscous while it is hot.  It will absorb so much flavor from the dressing as it cools.  Save the rest to dress it again when tossing the couscous with the vegetables.
  • Mincing the vegetables so that they are similar in size to the cooked couscous makes for a lovely texture difference and looks pretty.

More side salad recipes to try:

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Bowl of toasted Israeli couscous salad with minced fresh vegetables, herbs, and zesty lemon/basil vinaigrette.

TOASTED ISRAELI COUSCOUS SALAD


Description

This Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad is a beautiful symphony of textures and flavors with minced vegetables, herbs, and a zesty lemon/basil vinaigrette.  It is a lovely lunch or a healthy side dish.


Scale

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 1 large lemon, the juice and the zest
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups pearl couscous
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped scallions, both white and green part
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil, more for garnish
  • ½ medium English cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chopped Roma tomatoes

Instructions

Make the vinaigrette.  In a mason jar, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, basil, dill, garlic, parmesan cheese, and black pepper.  Shake vigorously or use an immersion blender to mix well.  Taste and adjust for salt.

Make the salad.  Bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil.  Keep at a low boil.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil.  When hot, pour in the couscous and saute, moving constantly, until golden brown.

Carefully pour in the boiling chicken stock and cook until the couscous is tender.

Drain the couscous in a colander and add to a large bowl to cool.

To the couscous, add the scallions, chopped basil, cucumber, and Roma tomatoes.

Shake the jar of dressing to incorporate all of the ingredients and pour over the couscous and vegetables.  Toss well to combine.

Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Toss again and garnish with a sprig of basil.


  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Boil and toss
  • Cuisine: Israeli

Keywords: toasted Israeli couscous salad, side dish recipes, salad recipes, lunch recipes, lemon-basil dressing

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OVERNIGHT BANANA NUT OATMEAL

OVERNIGHT BANANA NUT OATMEAL

Overnight Banana Nut Oatmeal is a healthy, tasty, ready-to-go breakfast that you can feel good giving to your family. I’ve discovered that I want and need easy, quick meals for breakfast.  Unfortunately, all too often that is a processed protein bar or worse yet, a…

DARK AND STORMY RUM COCKTAIL

DARK AND STORMY RUM COCKTAIL

A Dark And Stormy Rum Cocktail is a very masculine drink that’s refreshing and full of flavor.  The ‘dark’ comes from the black rum and the stormy comes from the ginger beer. It’s similar to a Moscow Mule, but using rum instead of vodka.   The…

ZUCCHINI PATTIES

ZUCCHINI PATTIES

These zucchini patties are savory, cheesy, pancakes that make a delicious side dish or lunch.  They’re a great way to get vegetables into the kids as well.  Serve them topped with chopped chives and sour cream.  

Plate of savory zucchini pancakes garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped chives

I love zucchini in almost any form – grilled, sauteed with tomatoes, in casseroles, and of course, fried.  Zucchini patties are also a tasty, different, and easy way to serve zucchini.

WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE ZUCCHINI PATTIES?

  • Zucchinis – about 3 of them.  Look for smooth, firm, unblemished zucchini.
  • Salt – for flavor, but also to sprinkle on the zucchini to remove most of the water out of it.  You don’t want soggy patties.
  • Scallions and garlic for flavor and texture
  • Parmesan cheese because everything is better with cheese
  • Egg and flour to bind everything together
  • A bit of black pepper and maybe a touch more salt to taste
  • Oil for pan-frying

TIPS FOR MAKING THIS RECIPE

  • Don’t skip the step of salting and squeezing the zucchini.  The recipe will not work without doing this.
  • Mince the scallions and garlic very fine.  
  • Pan-fry the patties over medium heat.  You want the patty to cook throughout.
  • Keep your patties warm in a 200-degree oven while you fry the remaining patties.  If you are worried about them getting soggy, place a wire rack over the baking sheet and line the wire rack with paper towels to absorb the oil.  The wire rack will allow air and heat to circulate around the patties.

Plate of savory zucchini pancakes garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped chives

WHAT TO SERVE WITH YOUR ZUCCHINI PATTIES

MORE ZUCCHINI RECIPES

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Plate of savory zucchini pancakes garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped chives

ZUCCHINI PATTIES


Description

These zucchini patties are savory, cheesy, pancakes that make a delicious side dish or lunch.  They’re a great way to get vegetables into the kids as well.  Serve them topped with chopped chives and sour cream.


Scale

Ingredients

3 medium zucchinis, grated

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/4 cup finely minced scallions, white and green parts

1 large clove minced garlic

1 large egg

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon pepper

Vegetable oil, for pan-frying

Sour cream, as a garnish

Fresh chives, minced for garnish


Instructions

Grate the zucchini using a box grater or a food processor with the ‘shred’ blade.  Place the grated zucchini into a fine mesh colander over a large bowl.  Sprinkle the zucchini with the kosher salt.  Toss to combine and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Rinse the salt off of the zucchini.  Drain well.

Lay a clean tea towel out and dump the zucchini into the middle of the towel.  Gather the towel around the zucchini and squeeze out as much of the moisture as possible. You will get a lot of water out of the vegetable.  Squeeze a few times until very little water is expelled from the zucchini.

Shake the zucchini shreds into a large bowl.  Add the scallions, garlic, egg, flour, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Stir well to incorporate all of the ingredients together.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil.  

When the oil begins to shimmer,  use a tablespoon to drop a mounded spoonful of zucchini batter into the oil.  Flatten the batter to form a pancake.  Cook until golden, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side for 3 minutes.

Remove the pancake onto a paper towel-lined plate or place onto a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.

Repeat the process with more oil and the remaining batter.

Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives.


  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pan Fry
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: zucchini patties, vegetable patties, zucchini, fritters, side dish

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GRILLED BBQ PORK CHOPS

GRILLED BBQ PORK CHOPS

Why not take advantage of the last of the warm evening grilling opportunities.  These grilled bbq pork chops are juice, tender, and so flavorful with the dry rub and the barbecue finishing sauce. I like to serve the chops with Old Fashioned Fried Apples, Southern…

OLD FASHIONED FRIED APPLES

OLD FASHIONED FRIED APPLES

Tender, sweet, sliced apples that are cooked to perfection in a sauce that is rich, buttery, and fragrant with warm, fall spices.  These old fashioned fried apples are just like grandma made. I like to serve them with Herb Roasted Pork Loin and Sauteed Haricots…

WHITE RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

WHITE RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

A creamy White Russian cocktail is the best way to add a bit of sweet at the end of the day.  With vodka, coffee liqueur, and half & half, this cocktail is a dessert in a glass and a perfect nightcap.

Two delicious dessert cocktails - White Russian Cocktails with vodka, Coffee Liqueur, and Half & Half.

To say that this is my favorite cocktail is a screaming understatement.  And I’m not the only one. ‘The Dude’ from the ‘Big Lebowski’ drank it throughout the entire movie.  It was also Adrienne’s drink of choice for her stomach ulcer in the ‘Soprano’s’.  I’ll stop there and admit that I have way too much useless information in my brain.

WHAT IS IN A WHITE RUSSIAN?

  • Vodka.  Use a good brand, not the rotgut you drank in college.
  • Coffee liqueur – like Kahlua, Kamora, Tia Maria or make your own
  • Half & half – or milk, or heavy cream

VARIATIONS ON A WHITE RUSSIAN

  • Salted Caramel White Russian – Rim your glass with caramel sauce and sprinkle a bit of sea salt around the rim.  Drizzle just a tiny amount of caramel into the glass, then continue with your White Russian.
  • Peanut Butter White Russian – Classic White Russian with the addition of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter blended into the mix and then garnished with a peanut butter cup.
  • Cookies & Cream White Russian is a classic White Russian, but the glass is rimmed with honey and crushed Oreo cookies.
  • Try using nut milk instead of cream, half & half, or milk.  Almond milk is especially delicious.

Two delicious dessert cocktails - White Russian Cocktails with vodka, Coffee Liqueur, and Half & Half.

More dessert cocktails to try:

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Two delicious dessert cocktails - White Russian Cocktails with vodka, Coffee Liqueur, and Half & Half.

WHITE RUSSIAN COCKTAIL


Description

This creamy White Russian Cocktail is the perfect dessert cocktail or nightcap.


Scale

Ingredients

2 ounces vodka

1 ounce coffee liqueur

1 ounce half and half


Instructions

Add ice cubes to a rocks glass.

Pour in the vodka, coffee liqueur, and half and half.  Stir for at least 30 seconds to chill the liquids.

Enjoy!


  • Category: Starters - Cocktails
  • Method: Stir
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: White Russian Cocktail, vodka cocktails, dessert cocktails, nightcap, creamy drinks

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EASY SOUTHERN TOMATO TART

EASY SOUTHERN TOMATO TART

An easy Southern Tomato Tart is great as a side dish, main dish, lunch, or brunch dish.  It’s cheesy, savory, and tastes much more decadent than it actually is.  Use pre-made pimento cheese and refrigerated boxed pie crust or make your own.  Take advantage of…

SOUTHERN POTATO SALAD

SOUTHERN POTATO SALAD

Southern potato salad is a creamy, tangy, flavorful side dish that goes perfectly with grilled meats, burgers, fried chicken…almost everything.  This is comfort food that evokes happy memories of family picnics, barbecues, parties, and potlucks. Growing up in Pittsburgh one of my favorite summertime activities…

CLASSIC MINT JULEP

CLASSIC MINT JULEP

A classic mint julep is the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby. They’re cool, sweet, and minty, with just enough booze to put you in a party mood.  It is a delicious, summery cocktail.

A crystal rocks glass with a Classic Mint Julep cocktail and garnished with fresh mint. It's the traditional cocktail of the Kentucky Derby and perfect for your parties!

I don’t think you can throw a Kentucky Derby party without serving Classic Mint Juleps.  Churchill Downs claims to serve over 120,000 mint juleps during the 2-day race.  So if they can do that many in over a weekend, surely we can do a couple at our little parties.

WHAT IS A CLASSIC MINT JULEP?

Refreshing and easy, this classic cocktail has only four ingredients – simple syrup, mint. Bourbon, and crushed ice.

The drink is thought to have originated in the Middle East, originally using rose water instead of mint.  Southerners adopted the drink using mint, which was plentiful, as a remedy to protect against mosquitos and malaria.  It was so delicious, that the cocktail caught on and became a Southern staple.

WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE THIS COCKTAIL?

Four ingredients are all you need.  It couldn’t be easier.

  • Simple syrup – this is just equal parts sugar and water that is boiled and cooled.  I store a small bottle of it in my refrigerator for cocktails, ice tea, iced coffee.
  • Fresh mint.  Pick unblemished, deep green mint.  
  • Bourbon.  I like Maker’s Mark, but use what you enjoy.
  • Crushed ice.  Not ice cubes, not shaved ice, but crushed ice.  I put ice cubes into a ziplock bag and whack it with a rolling pin.  Done.

A crystal rocks glass with a Classic Mint Julep cocktail and garnished with fresh mint. It's the traditional cocktail of the Kentucky Derby and perfect for your parties!

More Kentucky Derby Recipes:

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A crystal rocks glass with a Classic Mint Julep cocktail and garnished with fresh mint. It's the traditional cocktail of the Kentucky Derby and perfect for your parties!

CLASSIC MINT JULEP


Description

This classic mint julep is the traditional cocktail of the Kentucky Derby.  It is minty, a little sweet, and highlights the full, rich flavor of the bourbon.


Scale

Ingredients

½ ounce simple syrup

8 mint leaves, no stems, more for garnish

2 ounces bourbon

Crushed ice


Instructions

In a Julep cup or a rocks glass, muddle the mint and simple syrup together to release the essential oil in the leaves.  They do not have to be crushed into small bits.

Pour in the bourbon and fill the glass with crushed ice.

Stir well.

Garnish with mint sprigs and enjoy.


  • Category: Starters - Cocktails
  • Method: Stir
  • Cuisine: Southern

Keywords: classic mint julep, Kentucky Derby, bourbon cocktails, Southern cocktails, mint

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DECADENT CHOCOLATE BOURBON BALLS

DECADENT CHOCOLATE BOURBON BALLS

These decadent chocolate bourbon balls are a no-bake treat that packs a boozy wallop.  They are a lovely addition to your Kentucky Derby party or any holiday cookie tray.   I love serving little candies that are just for the adults.  They always feel indulgent and…

KENTUCKY HOT BROWNS

KENTUCKY HOT BROWNS

This decadent sandwich is an iconic Kentucky dish.  Kentucky Hot Browns are open-faced turkey sandwiches with tomato, bacon, and a cheesy Mornay sauce.  Add this classic dish to your Kentucky Derby party! If you’ve ever traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, the Brown Hotel is a must-see. …

CLASSIC PIMENTO CHEESE

CLASSIC PIMENTO CHEESE

Pimento cheese is such a Southern staple and crazy delicious.  And since it’s also crazy easy, it’s a perfect addition to a Kentucky Derby party!  This tangy and creamy spread is always a hit. They don’t call it the pâté of the South for nothing.

A platter of crackers, fresh vegetables and a bowl of Classic Pimento Cheese Spread. This is a perfect addition to your Kentucky Derby party!

There are as many pimento cheese recipes as there are Southern cooks.  Some are super spicy with cayenne and jalapenos.  Others use only mayonnaise or Greek yogurt and forego the cream cheese.  My Pimento Cheese recipe uses cream cheese for extra flavor and creaminess, and spices but not a lot of heat.  I love serving it with crackers, celery, and carrot sticks.  Heavenly!

WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE PIMENTO CHEESE

Fortunately, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.  The other items can be found in almost any grocery store.

  • Cream cheese.  You’ll need an entire block at room temperature so it mixes with the other ingredients easily.
  • Mayonnaise.  Use a good quality mayo.  I like Helmann’s, some swear by Duke’s, so use your favorite brand.
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper for flavor.  If you don’t have white pepper, use black pepper.
  • Worchestershire sauce – just a bit.  It adds a ton of flavor.
  • Hot sauce for some spice.  Feel free to add more or less to suit your tastes.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese.  I like using extra sharp cheddar cheese, but again, use what you like best.  But whatever cheddar you use, shred it yourself with a box grater or food processor.  The bags of shredded cheese have a powdery coating to keep the cheese from clumping together and it will feel grainy in the recipe.  Not a pleasant mouthfeel.
  • Jarred pimento peppers – you can find these in the pickle section of your grocery, usually by the roasted red peppers.  They come in strips or chopped.  If you can’t find them, you could use jarred roasted red peppers in a pinch.

HOW DO I SERVE PIMENTO CHEESE?

  • Crackers are always good with this spread.  As are crostini, melba toasts, etc.
  • Vegetables for dipping or stuffing.  Carrot sticks for dipping or stuff it into a celery stick or baby bell pepper.
  • Top your burgers with a spoon of pimento cheese and let it melt onto the meat.  Are you salivating yet?
  • Use it as a sandwich spread or as a filling for grilled cheese.
  • Mix it into your deviled eggs for an insane treat.

A platter of crackers, fresh vegetables and a bowl of Classic Pimento Cheese Spread. This is a perfect addition to your Kentucky Derby party!

Complete your Kentucky Derby party with a few of these recipes:

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A platter of crackers, fresh vegetables and a bowl of Classic Pimento Cheese Spread. This is a perfect addition to your Kentucky Derby party!

CLASSIC PIMENTO CHEESE


Description

This Classic Pimento Cheese spread is a perfect addition to your Kentucky Derby party menu!  Rich, creamy, and a little spicy, this easy spread is ready in less than 30 minutes and sure to be a hit.


Scale

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, cubed, room temperature

½ cup mayonnaise (I like Helmann’s)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 ½ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (shredded from a block of cheddar, not pre-shredded)

4 ounces pimento peppers, well-drained and chopped


Instructions

In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, Worchestershire sauce, and hot sauce. 

With a hand mixer combine all of the ingredients until very well mixed.

Use a wooden spoon to fold the pimento peppers and cheddar cheese into the cream cheese mixture.  If you like a creamier spread without the shreds of cheese, mix with the hand mixer.

Scrape the pimento cheese into a covered bowl and chill for at least one hour.

30 minutes before serving, remove the cheese from the refrigerator and allow it to rest (and soften).  

Serve with crackers, vegetables, crostini, or as a filling for sandwiches.


  • Category: Starter - Appetizer
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: Southern

Keywords: classic pimento cheese, appetizer recipes, Kentucky Derby recipes, party recipes, Southern food, cheese recipes

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