Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Coleslaw attempt #1

Why is this called Coleslaw Attempt #1 ? Because when I decided to come up with a coleslaw recipe I figured it would take me more than one attempt...but I liked the first one so much I've never strayed from it. 

I have yet to meet a commercial coleslaw (or potato salad...or macaroni salad) that I like; all of them taste "off" to  me...like they were stored in a fridge that lost power, or something. Mine is a little different, but not so much that you wouldn't recognize it as coleslaw; it's a little lighter (thank you sour cream); a little tangier (thank you mustard); and a little less sweet. 

Side note - if you're short on time or not in the mood to chop, this amount of dressing is perfect for two of those 14 oz (ish) bags of cabbage already shredded up for you in the produce section (or halve the recipe and use one bag). It also works great with the various veggie / rainbow slaws that you can often find alongside. Feel free to add in other things you like, too...shredded green apple ? Finely diced bell peppers ? Chopped scallions ? Hey, it's your coleslaw...you do you ! 

Coleslaw attempt #1 

Slaw : 

1/2 small head green cabbage, shredded 

1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded

2 large carrots, shredded

Dressing : 

1 cup mayonnaise 

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/4 cup dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

1 tsp celery seed

2 tsp sugar (adjust to taste) 

salt and white pepper , to taste 

Chopped fresh parsley (optional) 

Combine slaw ingredients in large bowl

Whisk together dressing ingredients ; toss with slaw , and adjust seasoning as needed 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Panzanella with Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella

I think part of my problem with updating my blog is that lately it seems like I don't have as much time to write out nice, long, interesting stories to go with my recipes. Or at least I think I don't have time; the older I get the more I realize that once I determine that I want to make the time to do something, I somehow magically make the time. Funny thing, time; sometimes it flies, sometimes it drags, and sometimes it can actually heal all wounds. Or so they say.

(And sometimes it's made out of circles : Time...LINE ??? 

The story behind this one is short and sweet, so I'll endeavor to keep the entry the same; maybe that will make it easier ? 

As I posted it on Facebook...

PROBLEM : person buying rolls for last weekend's cookout does not understand math, leaving you with about three times as many rolls as you have sausages. 

SOLUTION : Panzanella with Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella. 

No problem ! Well, except that I can't seem to stop eating it :)

Panzanella with Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozarella 

loosely based on an Ina Garten recipe

Serves about four, depending on if you’re serving anything else with it.

2 T olive oil
4 cups stale bread cubes (leftover rolls, a small French, Italian, or country-type bread..really any decent plain bread will work)  
1/2 t salt
1 container heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
2-4 mini cucumbers, unpeeled, halved and sliced (if large quarter and slice)
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 T capers, drained
8 oz. fresh mozzarella – whole small balls (like ciliegene) or larger balls cut in slices (ovolini)


1/2 t very finely minced garlic
1/2 t Dijon mustard
3 T white balsamic vinegar (or vinegar of your choice)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper (white is nice if you have it)


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil if needed. Set aside to cool a bit. 

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with most of the vinaigrette; add mozzarella and drizzle with remaining dressing.  

This particular panzanella can be served right away, or you can allow it to sit in the fridge for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits with Tasso

Shrimp and Grits is one of those dishes that I’ve always wanted to try, but somehow just never got around to (I know…seems impossible right? J ). I’ve had a lifelong love of grits thanks to my Army brat cousins; growing up in New England they weren’t exactly a common breakfast item, but the girls brought them to Maine one summer and I came home absolutely hooked. Warm, comforting, doused with plenty of butter, salt, and pepper…like a warm hug for your stomach. What’s not to love?

The addition of spicy shrimp to the buttery goodness of grits might seem a little strange at first, especially to Northern palates. Shrimp and Grits actually started as breakfast food in the Lowcountry marshes of the southern coast of the US; as these states had both of these items in plentiful supply, it would make sense to combine them into a hearty breakfast to fortify a day of farming or fishing or what have you. Over the last few decades, the dish has become standard dinner fare; first in the South, then moving slowly northward to places like…Kansas City. Yes, it was on a trip to KC (sadly, for a memorial for a dear friend) that I finally ordered myself some Shrimp and Grits; after a  4 AM start in Boston and no food until about 2 in the afternoon, I was in desperate need of breakfast and lunch all at the same time. Shrimp and Grits seemed like it would fit the bill; the version I ended up having at the Classic Cup Café was the perfect introduction: loads of juicy, perfectly cooked shrimp flecked with andouille in a spicy tomato broth over creamy, delicious grits. Kind of a mashup between jambalaya and grits, really; absolute heaven. I left there fortified for my sad task ahead…my stomach, at least, was happy.

Happier stuff…so, when I went to recreate this dish at home I had a few requirements. One was that I really wanted to use some tasso that we had picked up on a road trip a few months back. Tasso is a Louisiana version of ham; Cajun spiced, super flavorful, and a common ingredient in New Orleans versions of shrimp and grits. I also wanted a dish that would fit into my new healthier way of eating; from the basic components I knew it wasn’t something that was going to need a lot of fat or high calorie ingredients to bring the flavors out, a few quick swaps that no one would notice and reasonable portions of cheese and pork and I’d be able to keep the calories and fat under control.  Third is that I really wanted to use my slow cooker; I knew it wouldn’t make sense to slow cook shrimp all day, but I figured the grits at least could come to creamy nirvana in the old crockpot. And did they ever…I have to say, I am SUPER proud of how this one came out on my very first attempt. Sometimes it even looks like I know what I’m doing in the kitchen.

A few last notes…for those who count WW points, I ran this through MyFitnessPal’s recipe builder to get the nutrient totals and then plugged that data into the WW recipe builder to come up with 10 SmartPoints per serving…long story, but ever since the plan change I’ve been more of a calorie counter than a point counter, so I needed the full nutritional data.  If you come up with a different point value I encourage you to use it; always do what works for you. 10 points works for me. I also always encourage you to make substitutions; this dish would be delicious with andouille sausage or even hot Italian if that’s what you have, can find, or like; if you have fresh tomatoes to use up throw them in instead.   Remember, it’s your kitchen!!

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits with Tasso

Makes 8 servings, 1 ½ cups per serving

1 ½ cups old fashioned grits (not instant)
6 cups chicken stock, lowfat if available (I actually used Knorr’s bouillon cubes; the only kind I do use!)
6 ounces tasso ham or andouille sausage, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
Old Bay seasoning, to taste
¾ cup fat free half and half
2 pounds shrimp, shells removed and deveined (large or extra large work best)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, 2%
Chopped scallions, for garnish

Combine grits and chicken stock in slow cooker; cook for 2 ½ hours on HIGH, or 5 – 6 hours on LOW until just about done. 

Sauté the tasso in a large frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes, or until you can really smell it and some of the fat has escaped out into the pan. Add the onions and pepper and cook for 5 -10 minutes until they start to get soft.  If you are using raw shrimp add them at about 5 minutes in; if your shrimp are already cooked, add them at the end (they only take about 5 minutes to cook). Season the contents of the pan with Old Bay and cook another minute; then add the contents of the pan to the slow cooker along with the cream, cheese and tomatoes. Stir well, and cook on LOW another 30 – 60 minutes until everything is well heated through. Garnish with scallions.