Recipe: Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad

Came up with this wanting to have a cold pasta salad. This was simple, quick and perfect for the warmer days of summer and spring in Arizona. I will be making this again. For this, I used chicken tenders instead of breasts for a quicker cook time, and the texture was what I wanted. If you want larger chunks of chicken, use breast.

Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1lb chicken tenders, grilled and chopped
  • 1/2lb pasta. Shells or penne would work best.
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced. Medium size
  • 1/4 red onion sliced thin
  • 2c cherry tomatoes, halved

Dressing

  • 4tbls lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1tsp dry mustard
  • 1tbls kosher salt
  • 1tbls dill. Fresh or dry
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1tbls red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

If possible, assemble your dressing in advance to really let the garlic and dill come out. My method is to put everything into a mason jar, give it a good shake for about 2 minutes and park it into the fridge until needed.

For the pasta, cook al dente and rinse with cold water. Yes, it's ok to rinse your pasta in this case since it's getting used in a salad and you don't need the extra starch for anything. No, really, rinse your pasta. If it is going to have to sit for a few minutes while you prep everything else, toss it with a bit of olive oil to keep from sticking.

Assembly

Add everything to a good sized bowl. Add the dressing about 1/4 cup at a time, toss to coat. Keep adding dressing until you think there is enough. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

Additions

Of course ideas come after completion that could have been added. A rib of celery, finely chopped, would have been nice. Peas, blanched and chilled, would have been fantastic as well. I would also recommend using fresh dill if you can, even chopping some into the salad before toss to really punch up the flavor. Skip the cheese on this, you'll find it's not needed.

To be honest, the pasta could even be skipped. It was just what I wanted tonight. It really hit the spot!

Recipe: Sweet Potato Stuff Chiles

This one I stole from a local restaurant. Of course, I am pretty sure mine is better. The combination of the sweet potato and spicy, smoked chile was amazing.

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 pastilla peppers. Anaheims if you want them to be less spicy.
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1 tbls butter
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 dashes tabasco
  • Grated cheese

Roast the peppers on the BBQ for 5 minutes per side, or until fully charred all around. Once roasted, let steam in a paper bag for 10 minutes. Peel, split and seed, removing the stems.

Microwave the potato until soft enough to mash, about 8 minutes. You can also boil or steam, whichever works best for you. Mash with olive oil until a smooth consistency is reached, add spices and butter, mix to combine.

Add about 1/2 cup of potato to each pepper, or however much it takes to fill. Top with about 1/4 grated cheese and wrap. Cook in a 350 degree over for 7 minutes or until cheese is melted.

I did not sauce this in anyway, but some crema would have been nice. In a pinch, some sour cream thinned with a little bit of lemon or lime juice would have worked nicely as well. If fresh avocado is an option, it’s a very nice addition to the plate.

Perfect alone. Serve with a salad or a side of beans to fill up the plate. Add a cold beverage (beer, white wine) and you have an amazing meal!

Recipe: Macaroni & Tomato

One of the favorite lunches Mom used to make when we were kids. It’s a perfect storm of noodles, butter, tomato and pepper. Always warms the soul and is cheap and easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 1lb macaroni (elbow or shells work best)
  • 1 28oz can whole tomatoes, chopped
    • I use scissors in the can for this, but do what you like
  • 1 15oz can of pinto or black beans
  • 1/2 stick of butter. Yes, butter. Don’t use margarine you animal.
  • Fresh cracked pepper. A lot.

Preparation

  • Boil your noodles. Drain
  • In the same pain (because we are lazy), add your tomatoes with the juice
  • Add the beans
  • Bring to a boil to let the juice evaporate a bit. Give it about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the butter.
  • Remove from heat, serve with pepper on top

You can add cheese or garlic if you want. Or any spices. You’ll notice I didn’t include salt in the recipe because I know you salt your pasta water and with the butter you just don’t need it. But, if you think you do, go ahead and add some.

Another Pot of Soup

Man, I love leftovers during the holday season. Especially if the weather is cold, as it has been here in Arizona. Today, we are dealing with leftover ham and making a hearty soup. Like everything else, super easy, super delicious and it makes quite bit.

Christmas Ham Soup

For this you will need the left over bits of ham, you know, the tough parts from the end that nobody likes on sandwhiches because they are too tough. They work perfect for this recipe, especially if they are both tough and have a bit of extra fat.

Ingredients

  • Ham, the fattiest pieces, diced, about 2 cups
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 medium yellow or brown onion, diced
  • 2 russet potatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
  • 1/2 12oz bottle of brown beer
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • Water to cover
  • 1 tbls red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Cooking

In your dutch oven or sturdiest soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat until it’s hot. Add the ham pieces and saute for 2 minutes. Drop the heat to medium and continue to cook until most of the fat is rendered and the ham is nicely browned. This will take about 5-7 minutes.

Add the carrots, onion, celery and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the beer. scrape the bottom of the pan to get the brown ham bits and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and cover with water. Add the spices and garlic and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook with the lid on for 45 minutes. Finish with parsley and vinegar.

Mods

  • Add 1 can of black beans
  • Add a corn starch slurry and let it cook for an additional 10 minutes to thicken
  • Use white wine instead of beer and skip the vinegar. I would use a pinot gringo or something equally light, not a chardonnay.
  • Use the entire beer!

If this turns out correctly, you should have an amazing ham flavor with a hint of cinnamon. I thought it turned out really nice, hearty enough to be a meal but not so heavy to be a stew.

Recipe: 1 Pot Chicken Soup

‘Tis the season. And, when I say season, I mean the temperatures in Arizona are under 90 during the day and in the 50s and 60s at night. That can only mean 1 thing.

It’s Soup Season!

The first entry this year is this simple 1 pot chicken soup. It’s a bit time consuming, but I’m really enjoying it. Let’s get it started.

Ingredients

  • 2 Chicken leg and thigh pieces
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 1 can of chicken stock
  • 2 red potatoes, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 package of cooked lentils
  • 1 yellow onion, 1/2 diced, 1/2 cut into large chunks
  • Garlic, as much as you like
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ wide strips
  • 1TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 TBSP red wine or cider vinegar or family vinegar (what I used)
  • Water, salt and pepper

First things first, I mentioned one pot. That needs to be something that can go into the oven. I used my dutch over, but anything that can handle 200 degrees for 3 hours works.

Start by heating your pot with olive oil in the bottom. Add the chicken, large chunks of onion and red bell pepper and let cook on medium high heat 4 minutes per side. That will get some great color and release some of the fat from the chicken. Remove from heat and add your wine, chicken stock, water to just cover, 2 good pinches of salt and about 10 grinds from the pepper mill. Lid it up and put into a 200 degree oven for 3 hours.

Time up, remove the chicken from the broth and set aside to cool. Also remove the bell pepper pieces. Dice these and add them back to the pot on medium heat with all of your veggies and lentils. Let this cook for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

When the chicken is cool, remove all of the skin and bones and shred. Add this back to the pot and finish with your tablespoon of vinegar.

I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to having it for the whole week. Go crazy with this by adding whatever veggies or additional spices you like!