Avocado Salad/Salsa

30 Jan

Avocado Salad

This can be a side or a starter, depending on your mood. I’ve only made it this one time and I ate like a salad.

It is so simple. And tastes so fresh, even though these are summer ingredients.

  • two avocados
  • two medium tomatoes
  • one small can of white shoe peg corn
  • one can of black beans
  • garlic pepper, to taste
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • lime juice, to taste

Dice the avocados and tomatoes. Open cans. Toss everything together.

That’s it.

Avocado Salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.

I recommend making it the same day as you serve it, as avocado turns a little brown the next day (I still ate it and it was still delicious!).

I added just a bit of regular yellow corn left over from another recipe I made that day.

Next time I may add some cilantro and/or green onions, just to spice things up a bit.


Shepherd’s Pie

20 Jan

The only time before making this recipe that I had eaten shepherd’s pie was in Boston back in late December of 2003. I had gone there with some friends to visit another friend for New Year’s Eve. It was, of course, freezing. We had gone sightseeing through the city and stopped to grab a quick bite in Quincy Market Colonnade in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

I wanted to eat something that wasn’t common back home. The warm, rich and comforting shepherd’s pie seemed right up my alley. And it was. Loved it. But never tried to make it until about a year ago when I found this recipe from Southern Living.


I’ve only made this a couple of times as it would take me a while, like an entire morning or afternoon. Who has time for that?

But it does seem to take me less and less time each time I make it. Probably because I don’t stress so much on getting every measurement and ingredient right. This last time took me about an hour.

Bear with me. There’s more to this recipe than most of my others. Here’s my adapted recipe:

Meat filling:

  • 1 lb ground round
  • 1/2 (8-oz.) package fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (or to taste)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (I omitted this as I didn’t have one on hand)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 4 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 1/2-oz.) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Mashed potato crust:

  • 1 package of refrigerated mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

The meat filling simmering on the stove while I fix the potato crust.

Brown beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Remove beef from skillet using a slotted spoon; reserve drippings in skillet. Reduce heat to medium.

Sauté onion, carrots, mushrooms and garlic in drippings until tender.

Stir in ground beef, thyme, salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf and vinegar, breaking up large tomato pieces with a spoon. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Remove bay leaf. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased baking dish or pan.

Heat potatoes as described on package. Stir in cheese, thyme, salt and pepper.

Spoon potatoes evenly over meat mixture, smoothing with back of spoon.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

There was some “gravy” leftover in the skillet and I drizzled that on top.

I served it with only a glass (or two) of red wine. It’s absolutely delicious and perfect for winter evenings

First and Long

19 Jan

Wow – I didn’t realize it had been so long since my last post!

Fall here in Alabama is cray cray busy. I live and work in college town so there’s an increase in traffic and stuff going on as the college kids come back in town.

If you don’t know, college football is BIG down here. Huge.

And if you haven’t heard, my University of Alabama Crimson Tide won the BCS National Championship! Roll Tide!

While I do enjoy a football game, I enjoy more the tailgating – mostly the food, drink and fellowship that accompany tailgating. There was a lot of that this fall. I’m bummed with myself because I didn’t take notes and photos of some of the dishes and drinks made. Lesson learned.

I do have a few recipes (with photos!) I’ll be sharing in the next few days (I hope). Stay tuned.

Bacon Potato Salad

23 Jul

This recipe had me at bacon. Like most meat-eaters, I love bacon.

I had never made potato salad before. My mom and grandma make really good old-fashioned Southern potato salad. They use brown (Russet, I assume) potatoes to really sop up the dressing and flavors of the other ingredients. Before choosing this recipe, I did a little research (google) on which potatoes to use. Red or new potatoes tend to hold their form and not be too mushy, while brown potatoes can get a little mushy but better absorb the flavors of the other ingredients.

Bacon Potato Salad, served with the Honey-Chicken Salad from previous post.

Since I don’t want to mess with perfection, I choose to stay away from recipes similar to my mom’s and grandma’s. I found this bacon potato salad recipe that was in Southern Living back in 2005.

  • 3 pounds red, new potatoes
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Cook potatoes in boiling water over medium heat 15-18 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool slightly.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add bacon, green onions, salt and pepper.

Stir together mayo and sour cream until blended. Pour over potato mixture, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Served with a ham sandwich and tall glass of Kool-aid. What a fun summer lunch!

This turned out pretty well. I’ll definitely make it again, but will probably reduce the mayo and sour cream mixture a bit. I’m not a big mayo or sour cream fan unless they are well blended with something.

I was able to eat from this for days. For one serving, I added some shredded cheddar cheese because I thought the other ingredients were a like those of a loaded baked potato.

Honey-Chicken Salad

19 Jul

Chicken salad is one of my favorite dishes. Eating it on a sandwich, with crackers, on it’s own — all delicious. But (and there’s always a but with my picky palette), I do not like celery. I’ve always wanted to like celery, ever since I was in Brownies and the moms would make those celery-peanut butter sticks. But I just don’t. And unfortunately, quite a lot of chicken salad recipes include celery, including this one that I adapted. Fortunately, I can leave it out.

  • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken (half of one of those rotisserie chickens in the grocery store deli; I used mojo flavored from Publix)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  1. Combine chicken, pecans and green onions.
  2. Whisk together mayo, honey, salt and pepper.
  3. Add to chicken mixture, stirring gently until combined.

Usually I think anyone else can make a dish better than I. Even sandwiches — they just taste better when someone else fixes them. But not this. It was my favorite by far. And not just because I didn’t have to pick out the celery.

A girlie way to display this dish 🙂

The original recipe called for dried cranberries and I had every intention of adding them. When I went to make this dish, however, I discovered, and then remembered, I had thrown away my bag of dried cranberries when ants got into my cupboard earlier this summer. Next time, I will add them. The recipe says a cup but I think 1/2 cup will do. Dried cranberries are pretty sweet and this dish, with it’s honey base, could be a little too sweet with a lot of cranberries.

Also, the original recipe didn’t call for green onions but I had some chopped up for a potato salad I was making (post to come later) so I added some to this chicken salad for more color and for a nice balance to the sweetness.



Salsa Salad

14 Jul

Despite almost every picture I’ve posted on here, not ALL of my dishes are served out of bowls.

But here’s another one.

One of my college roommates tried Weight Watchers for a while (and it worked for her!) and I looked through some of their guidelines. While I don’t remember specifics, and I don’t think I fully comprehended it at the time anyway, foods are given points based on calories, fat and other nutritional info. Members have this point range for the day. Pretty much all vegetables had no points, as did salsa. Being the salsa lover I am, I thought of topping my salad with salsa instead of an oily dressing.

It being summer, I’m really trying to watch my caloric intake. So for lunch the other day, I decided to revive my salsa salad idea. This is, of course, a recipe guide, as I like to say. Just add whatever would taste good to you. Here’s what I had that day:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Salsa
  • Tomatoes (may seem like an overload but I love tomatoes)
  • Cilantro
  • Tortilla chips (lime flavored is my fave)
  • Two carrots fresh from the farmer’s market

Mix it all together, quantities to your preference, and you’ll have a fresh, crisp, cool salad perfect for lunch. One evening I paired this with a pan-seared flank steak and added fajita seasonings. Delicioso!

Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

8 Jul

Fourth of July was supposed to be a fun afternoon on the Black Warrior River with old and new friends followed by an evening with a delicious grilled-out potluck meal.

Well, the second half came to fruition. Mother Nature had other plans for the first. The fun in the water was rained out (we did need the rain) so we simply moved the fun indoors and under a gazebo.

My contribution to the potluck was a cucumber and black-eyed pea salad, adapted from an Eating Well recipe. With my selective tastes (aka, picky eater) and sometimes pure laziness, I always have to change the recipe a bit.

I wanted to make something with cucumbers from my garden, the only veggie I seem to be able to grow this year. I can’t even pick them before they pass their peak. I also wanted to make something that wouldn’t need to be heated up and cooked at my friend’s house.


  • 3 tablespoons of EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of peeled and diced cucumbers (about 3 medium to large cucumbers)
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion (I ended up dicing it so that it wouldn’t overpower some eaters)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped black olives

Whisk EVOO, lemon juice, oregano and pepper in a large bowl.

Add cucumber, black-eyed peas, feta, onion and olives; toss to coat.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

It has a pretty mild flavor, but was a nice accompaniment to all the flavorful and rich meats, sides and dips.

And it was even better the next day after marinating in the dressing.