Saturday, January 25, 2014

Greek Tortellini Chicken Salad


Believe me when I tell you that this is one recipe where you will WANT to have leftovers!  This tortellini chicken salad is such a great "bring to work for lunch" meal!  You won't feel heavy and weighed down afterwards... and in my opinion, the longer the flavors marinate together, the better it gets! 

This is a snap to put together, and requires no more kitchen skills than boiling pasta!  It's more of an "assembly" recipe.  HaHa.  Think of all the places you could bring this.  It would be perfect for a picnic, as there is no mayo involved.  Pot lucks, family reunions, office functions, bridal and baby showers... very versatile!
Ingredients:   
  • 1 family sized package of cheese tortellini
    • or the filling of your choice
  • a rotisserie chicken
    • or about 3 cups of cooked chicken
  • purple onion slices very thin (1/2 - 2/3 cup)
  • sun dried tomatoes (about 1/2 cup)
  • crumbled tomato basil feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • black olives (a little over 1/4 cup)
  • fresh basil (a little over 1/2 cup)
  • Romano Basil Vinaigrette 
    • (I used Wish bone brand)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano cheese
 Please feel free to make the recipe "your own" by adding or deleting ingredients as you see fit.  Enjoy and have fun!

Start my removing the chicken from the carcass.  If you have leftover cooked chicken lying around, feel free to use that.  Cooked shrimp may be really nice, too!
Boil the tortellini according to package directions, just until done.  Don't over boil them as you don't want them mushy. 

Add the cooked and drained tortellini to a large bowl.  NOT the size I used... I had to switch bowls as this one was clearly not large enough in the end.
To the tortellini, add the rest of the ingredients.  It's that easy.
Cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces.
Use your mandoline to shave the onions super thin.  I used setting #2 on my el cheepo mandoline.
Very thin slices of red onions. 
a big handful of sun dried tomatoes
A small handful of black olives.  Careful.  Too many can be overpowering.
Lots of the Romano Basil Vinaigrette.  I probably used 2/3 of the container.
about 1/2 the container of tomato basil feta cheese crumbles
a handful of leaves of fresh basil, cut thinly
salt and pepper to taste
Give it all a nice stir to combine.  Then adjust any of the ingredients that you may like more of.  It's a touchy feely sort of recipe.  :)

* Don't let these purple onions scare you off.  After sitting there with all the dressing and stuff, they really soften and mellow!   You really need them in there.
Finish it off with a nice grating of Parmigiano reggiano.
Parmigiano reggiano
Garnish with a bit more fresh basil and feta to serve.   It's pretty good when you first make it, when it's still warm... but I find it to really be best if you refrigerate it for the next day! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
It was super easy to put together.   You can find hundreds more on my Recipe Index.
I also have a new page Film strips for pinning where you can see whole recipes at a glance, and even go to them directly from there.  I think you'll like it!

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Here are some bonus recipes for you!
BLT Buffalo Chicken Wrap

Tomato Basil Chicken

Ritzy Cheddar Baked Chicken

Korean BBQ Shish Kabobs


Black Iron Skillet Deep Dish Pizza

Mississippi Mud Puddles

 
Written Method     
Start by removing the chicken from the carcass.  If you have leftover cooked chicken lying around, feel free to use that.  Cooked shrimp may be really nice, too!  Boil the tortellini according to package directions, just until done.  Don't over boil them as you don't want them mushy.  Add the cooked and drained tortellini to a large bowl.  NOT the size I used... I had to switch bowls as this one was clearly not large enough in the end.

To the tortellini, add the rest of the ingredients.  It's that easy.  Give it all a nice stir to combine.  Then adjust any of the ingredients that you may like more of.  It's a touchy feely sort of recipe.  :)  * Don't let these purple onions scare you off.  After sitting there with all the dressing and stuff, they really soften and mellow!   You really need them in there.  Finish it off with a nice grating of Parmigiano reggiano.

To serve - Garnish with a bit more fresh basil and feta.   It's pretty good when you first make it, when it's still warm... but I find it to really be best if you refrigerate it for the next day! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Waffle Iron Tater Tot Hash Browns




Oh my gracious, how easy is THIS?!  These hash browns are so much fun in the morning... and one of my kids said they tasted just like the ones from one of the local breakfast restaurants in town.  For me, add an egg on top, sprinkle them with a little crumbled bacon, and you have a whole breakfast!  And believe me when I say, it's much faster and less expensive than loading up the family to go out to that breakfast place.  They are also a lot faster than traditional hash browns that you make in a skillet or the oven!


How, you ask?  We're going to cheat!  I'm all for that if it helps you get something hearty and delicious on that table in the morning, rather than cereal and milk, or a pack of Pop Tarts!  Surely you have enough time for this "10 minute" breakfast, whether its for the kids, or even for yourself!

Ingredients:  
  • Seasoned, frozen tater tots 
  • additional garnishes as you see fit
Step-by-Step:  
Now you remember trying to make hash browns from scratch, right?  It's a pretty time consuming process with peeling and shredding the potatoes, soaking and squeezing them, seasoning and cooking them - forever until they get crispy!

Although they are delicious, it's not the sort of thing most people have time for on a busy weekday morning.  Well these are!  Let's do this!
While the waffle iron is preheating, get out and defrost the tater tots in the microwave about a 1 - 1 1/2 minutes just so they are no longer frozen.  Just for reference, the ones I used were called "Alexia, All Natural, crispy seasoned potato puff with roasted garlic and cracked black pepper, with a hint of sour cream and chives."  You can't go wrong with a title like that, huh?
The first time I made these, I sprayed the waffle iron with cooking spray.  I found out that there is plenty enough oil already in the tater tots to prevent them from sticking, so in subsequent times, I did not use the spray.  You may have to play with that depending on the brand you use. (??)

After the iron is preheated, dump the tater tots out onto it and arrange in a single layer.  When you close the top of the iron, really squeeze it down so that is smashes the tater tots into one big layer.  If you purchased tater tots without seasoning, I would think you would need to season them before closing the lid.. but that's why I went with the seasoned ones.  In the morning, every little time saving step is worth it.  For the waffle iron that I have, they took 7 - 8 minutes to cook, brown, and get crispy. 
While they are cooking, you have time to pull out drinks and make that egg!
To remove them, I was a little afraid of them breaking, so I actually turned the waffle iron over and dumped them out.

Garnish as desired.  The boys enjoyed theirs plain, whereas I like mine more loaded.  I added a soft cooked egg, some crumbled bacon, a bit of salt and pepper, and a dollop of lite sour cream to mine.  It was a complete and very satisfying breakfast!



I hope you enjoyed this recipe!   Why don't you pop on over to my Recipe Index to see what else I've been cooking up?!  You are sure to find something to get you and your kids up and going!  You can also visit my new page, Filmstrips for Pinning, where you can see whole recipes at a glance.  I'm still working on adding existing recipes to this collection.

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If you are new to MenuMusings, Click here to subscribe!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid the cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest as well as the MenuMusings facebook page.  

Cookbook news. 
Just a reminder, my cookbook is coming out soon.. we are still shooting for May.  Stay tuned, as I will be getting things together for pre-orders prior to the launch.  The books purchased directly from me will all be hand signed prior to shipping them out to you!  You know you'll be needing something special for your Mother's Day gifts, college graduations, and all those June weddings, right?! 
Here are some bonus recipes for you.






Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stuffed Flank Steak Pinwheels

Looking for something different to make with that flank steak that you found on sale?  These stuffed flank steak pinwheels may be the ticket!  You could probably stuff them with any of your favorite fillings, and you can certainly make them ahead of time and grill them when you get home.  They are simple enough to make on a weeknight, but special enough to make for company.  Don't you like when things are so versatile?  

I bought two of these flank steaks.  I'm not sure why.  I just did.  Then I thought, "Nah... I won't need that much."  Then I got a text from my oldest, "Hey Mom, Trey is coming over to study for a chemistry test later; and he wants to know what you're cooking!"  LOL!!!!  So... I pulled out the other one and away we went!  They were a little bit - okay, a lot - skeptical when they saw the filling, but the plates came back empty!  Yay!  A success (for kids who made the gagging noise when the word spinach was mentioned)!
 
Ingredients:   
  • flank steak (~ 1 1/2 - 2 pounds)
  • boursin cheese spread with herbs
  • sun dried tomatoes, julienned 
  • fresh baby spinach, stems removed, rough chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • Romano Basil Vinaigrette  
  • Oil for grilling
Step-by-Step:  
The flank steaks I buy come "rolled up."  So unroll them, make some shallow cuts, and pound flat between two sheets of plastic wrap.
1.7 # beef flank steak
Pound between plastic wrap so the meat won't stick to your meat pounder.  If you don't have a meat pounder, you could use a small heavy skillet, an empty wine bottle, or even a rolling pin. (??)  But we use the meat pounder ALL the time.  I highly recommend picking one up.
See how much larger it got when we pounded it out, versus the one on the left?
Spread them with the boursin cheese.  For each flank steak, I used about 2/3 of a container of boursin each, but put as much as you wish.  If you can't find boursin, you could use herbed goat cheese.  They have about the same texture,  creaminess and amount of tanginess.
Words can not begin to tell you how much I love this little girl!  What a joy she is!  She refused to even change from dance class to start cooking with me.  (Afraid she was going to miss out!)
Season generously with salt and pepper. 

Sprinkle the cheese spread with the chopped baby spinach, then a nice healthy handful of sun dried tomatoes.
chopped baby spinach
sun dried tomatoes
Roll them up tightly, using the plastic wrap to help you.  You can refrigerate at this point if you would like.   Actually, having it rolled up for a longer period of time will help the pinwheels hold their shape even better.


When you are ready to cut them into pinwheels, remove the plastic wrap and place skewers in the meat about every 1" - 1 1/2" apart.  
Cut equidistant between the skewers so each will be the same thickness.  You want them to have the same cooking time.  My recommendation is to leave the skewers in.  I tried it both ways.  The skewers helped to keep the pinwheels from unrolling during the cooking process.  If need be, you can break the skewers off a just little larger than the meat if you need them to fit better in a grill pan.  On a regular grill, you may not need to.
Look at all that yummy stuff!
Now be honest.... can you tell which ones Lovely Lily made, at four year old, and which ones I made?  Nope!   See!  It's that EASY!!! 
Yeah... I seasoned the cut sides as well.  I'm not a fan of bland food.  :)

I added some oil to my griddle and allowed it to get really, really hot before putting the meat on to sear.  Grill each side 4 - 5 minutes for a medium doneness, longer if you want them more done.  I also used my tongs to stand them "on end" to sear the edges.  For the last couple of minutes on each side, I drizzled them with the Romano Basil Vinaigrette (I used Wishbone brand).  This gave me a nice moist, tangy, silky finish on the meat.   I think you could totally make these under your broiler as well if that is how you prefer to cook your steaks.
Enjoy!  
I served these with skin on, garlic mashed potatoes and Lily's Maple Bacon Green Beans.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Order the MenuMusings Cookbook!
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Here's just one example - Coconut Lime Chicken.  Yum!!! 
Written Method:

The flank steaks I buy come "rolled up."  So unroll them, make some shallow cuts across the grain, and pound flat between two sheets of plastic wrap.


Season generously with salt and pepper.  Spread them with the boursin cheese.  I used about 2/3 of a container on each, but put as much as you wish.  Sprinkle the cheese spread with a nice healthy handful of sun dried tomatoes, then then the chopped baby spinach.  Roll them up tightly, using the plastic wrap to help you.  You can refrigerate at this point if you would like.  


When you are ready to cut them into pinwheels, place skewers in the meat about every 1" - 1 1/2" apart.  Cut equidistant between the skewers so each will be the same thickness.  You want them to have the same cooking time.  My recommendation is to leave the skewers in.  I tried it both ways.  The skewers helped to keep the pinwheels from unrolling during the cooking process.  If need be, you can break the skewers off a just little larger than the meat if you need them to fit better in a grill pan.  On a grill, you may not need to.

I added some oil to my griddle and allowed it to get really, really hot before putting the meat on to sear.  Grill each side 4 - 5 minutes for a medium doneness, longer if you want them more done.  I also used my tongs to stand them "on end" to sear the edges.  For the last couple of minutes on each side, I drizzled them with the Romano Basil Vinaigrette (I used Wishbone brand).  This gave me a nice moist, tangy, silky finish on the meat.   I think you could totally make these under your broiler as well if that is how you prefer to cook your steaks.

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