Chicken Potato Salad (Olivier Salad)

4FBC6F99-638D-4262-B795-EA5D7B5615FCThis is the classic Russian Olivier salad recipe, but with chicken instead of bologna. I got this Chicken Olivier salad recipe from my friend Inna. We tried it at her house once, it was the first time we tried it with chicken and we absolutely loved it this way! I haven’t stopped thinking about it since so I had to make it at home and share the recipe with you all. For my American friends, this is basically a potato salad with chicken in it and it is served cold so it’s a great make a head dish or potluck dish. I also enjoy it served in a croissant sandwich for lunch/dinner.

Chicken Potato Salad (Olivier Salad) {Serves 10-12 as a side dish} :

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 2.5 LB Chicken Breasts (4 large breasts)
  • 3 Potatoes
  • 4 Carrots
  • 8 Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1 Can kosher dill pickles
  • 1 bunch Scallions
  • 1 bunch Dill
  • 1 Can Peas
  • 1 small Onion
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 6 Peppercorns
  • 1.5 Cups Mayonnaise
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

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6586E815-3735-478B-90F0-B0044FD421EDDirections:

  1. Wash and pat dry the chicken thighs. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. When the water comes to a boil, throw in 1 whole peeled onion, 6 peppercorns, 2 bay leaves and chicken breasts. Cook on med-high for 30 minutes. Then turn the burner off and let the pot stand on the burner for 10 minutes, afterwards take out the chicken breasts and put them on a plate to cool. *Meanwhile move on to step 2.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the washed carrots and potatoes. Cook until the carrots and potatoes are both tender when poked with a fork (about 25 to 30 minutes) but do not over cook. In another small pot, bring water to a boil and hard boil the eggs.
  3. When the chicken breasts have cooled down, cut them into small cubes. When the carrots and potatoes have cooled off, peel them and cut them into small cubes. When the hard boiled eggs have cooled down, peel them thoroughly and cut them into small cubes. Add the cut chicken, carrots, potatoes, and hard boiled eggs to a big mixing bowl. Drain and finely dice the can of pickles and add them to the bowl. Wash and finely chop the scallions (both green and white part) and add to the bowl.1A862007-A044-44D2-A156-2156E5000AE4
  4. Add the mayonnaise to the bowl according to taste and texture preferences. I added 1.5 cups mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste, I added about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mix well to incorporate mayo.
  5. Lastly add the (drained) can of peas and finely chopped dill to the bowl. Gently mix again. *I add the peas in last because they are so delicate, I don’t want to squash them. You can add a can of (drained) corn instead if you don’t like peas. 279AC29C-7113-4161-89C4-37B14078AFAD
  6. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours and enjoy! Great as a side dish, potluck dish, cook out side dish, and makes a great croissant sandwich too! Can be made the day before and tastes best if refrigerated over night.
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Spanish Rice (Restaurant Style)

83B36211-669B-4AF4-8047-60B0ABE1877DLately we have been really into Mexican restaurants. I always order the same dish “Pollo Con Crema” which is chicken in a white sour cream sauce and it comes with Spanish rice and a side of beans and tortillas, Yum!!! I wanted to experiment and try cooking a new cuisine at home so we decided on Mexican. I made this Spanish rice and the chicken in sour cream sauce dishes for dinner and they both turned out amazing!!! My husband said it tastes better then the restaurant dishes and I completely agree with him! The good news is I have mastered these 2 new, family favorite Mexican dishes. This Spanish/Mexican rice is surprisingly easy and pairs well with any Mexican dish or even taco’s but I highly suggest making it with my “Pollo Con Crema” recipe that I will be posting next. Enjoy!

Spanish/Mexican Rice (Restaurant Style) {Serves 8-10}: 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Cups Long Grain Rice (I used Jasmine Rice)
  • 1/4 Cup Oil (I used Olive Oil)
  • 4 Cups Chicken broth (I used “Chicken Better Then Boillon” with 4 cups water)
  • 12 oz Salsa (I used Mild)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Garlic cloves (minced)
  • Pepper to taste (a dash)
  • Cumin (a dash)

6C367411-BF52-4E2B-B1DD-AA4FC2D440EADirections:

1) Make 4 cups of chicken bouillon and set it aside. In a large skillet, heat oil on Medium heat.

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2) Add rice to the skillet and cook it starts to crisp to a golden brown color. About 3-5 minutes, stirring continually.

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3) Add the chicken broth, salsa, salt/pepper, garlic cloves, cumin into the rice and mix gently to combine.

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4) Stir and cover the pan. Simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes until rice is cooked through and there is no liquid left. I opened and gently mixed rice with a spatula twice while it was cooking.

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Cheesy, Creamy, Hashbrown Casserole

86942950-A2CA-4657-83B7-1C5C1DD8F40BThis hashbrown casserole is cheesy, creamy, and dreamy!!! One of my lattest obsessions. We make this casserole for brunch, for all major Holidays or when we have company over for breakfast/brunch. Perfect Saturday morning casserole or a quick week night dinner. It takes about 15 minutes to do all the prep work and then it bakes for 45 minutes. Fast, easy, and delicious… just how I like it!

Cheesy, Creamy, Hashbrown Casserole {Serves 4-8}

Ingredients:

  • 1.10 – 2 LB Bag Frozen Hash Browns/Shredded Potato (best if thawed in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 (8 oz) Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
  • 3/4 Pint Sour Cream
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter (melted)
  • 1 Small Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 (10.5 oz)  Can Cream Of Chicken Soup
  • Oil or Butter Spray
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Pepper (abt 1/4 tsp)

061CD3FD-A3C2-4908-8506-4D0E1EE67BC2Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Shred the cheese into a big bowl. Then add the  hash browns to the bowl. Finely dice the onion and add it to the bowl. Add the sour cream and cream of chicken soup to the bowl. Melt the stick of butter and add it to the bowl. Add the salt/pepper. Mix thoroughly with a big spoon.

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2) Spray a baking dish with oil or butter spray.  I use an 11X15 glass baking dish. Using a spoon, gently transfer the hashbrown mixture into the baking dish and smooth it out evenly using a spoon.

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3) Cover with foil and bake at 350 Degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top. If it is not golden brown after 45 minutes, take off the foil and bake on 400 for a few minutes until you get a perfectly golden (not burned) top!

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4) Using a spatula cut into squares and scoop into plates. Best served piping hot! To reheat, bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes on 350 Degrees.

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Tomato, Cheese, Black Olive Appetizer Salad/Spread

93670225-FD1C-4A14-8DCD-8C2291CF7917This tomato, cheese, and black olive salad is so delicious! It can be eaten as a traditional European side salad or a spread on some baked baguette bread. I have been making this side dish for several years. I got the recipe from my hubby back when we were dating in 2009. He tried it somewhere, called me and gave me the recipe and said that I must try it. I fell in love with it at first bite, and now several years later it still continues to be a favorite side dish of mine and my hubby’s. The recipe is super easy, just putting everything together so not really a recipe but an idea. Can be made a day in advance or right before you eat, however I like to make it at least a few hours in advance to give the flavors time to blend. Enjoy! 🙂

Tomato, Cheese, Black Olive Appetizer (Salad/Spread/Side)  {Serves 2-4} :

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz) Block Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded)
  • 1 (small) Pack Baby Tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz/170g) Can Large Pitted Black Olives
  • 6 TBS Mayonnaise (I prefer to use Hellman’s or Trader Joe’s real mayo)
  • 1-2 Garlic Cloves (Squeezed. Depending on your love of garlic)

DAE2D549-C2D3-4FF1-8F0A-669D6E5065E9Directions:

1) Wash tomatoes and add them to a big bowl. Drain out the water from the can of olives and add the olives to the tomatoes.

2) Shred the Mozzarella cheese. Add it to the bowl of tomatoes and black olives.

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3) Add 6 TBS Real Mayonnaise to the bowl. Squeeze 1-2 garlic cloves into the bowl. Mix everything together with a spoon, gently not to crush the tomatoes or olives. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

4) Transfer to a pretty bowl if eating as a side dish/salad or spread over fresh baked baguette Slices on a plate. Yum!!! 93670225-FD1C-4A14-8DCD-8C2291CF7917

 

 

Grilled Veggie Kabobs

IMG_0355Summer is finally here!!! And with it comes grilling! We love to grill and have friends over for cook outs, especially at the pool. Some of our favorite things to grill are burgers, chicken wings, chicken thighs, steaks and of course these veggie kabobs! Stay tuned for the next recipe on the best steak marinade ever! I got the recipe for these veggie kabobs from my friend Irina, who is an awesome cook and always gives me amazing recipes and idea’s. These grilled veggie kabobs are great to pair with grilled steak. Super easy to prepare and of course absolutely delicious! You can get the ingredients anywhere, but I found all these fresh and yummy veggies at Aldi! Buying the packs of veggies in Aldi like I did, will give you enough to make this great recipe twice (you will only need to add 1onion, 1 pack mushrooms, 1 eggplant to make it the second time) and it will save you money. I promise you, these grilled veggie kabobs will be your new favorite thing to grill with meats this summer so give them a try! 🙂

Grilled Veggie Kabobs {Yields about 14-16 Veggie Kabob Sticks}

Ingredients:

  • 1 Small Eggplant
  • 1 Bell Pepper (Orange, Red, or Yellow)
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Yellow Squash
  • 3 Zucchini
  • 1 Package White Mushrooms
  • 6 TBS Mayonnaise
  • 3 TBS Barbecue Sauce
  • 1.5 tsp Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tsp “Mrs.Dash” or any other Salt Free seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

IMG_0359Directions:

1) Do all the prep work first. Wash and cut all of your veggies into kebab sized chunks.

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2) In a separate bowl mix the mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and spices together until it it the consistency and look of a sauce.

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3) Mix the veggies with the marinade sauce and let stand to marinate for at least 4 hours. I usually marinate the morning of the day we grill them.

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4) 30 minutes before you grill, put the veggies on wooden skewer sticks. No particular order but I like to have a variety of all veggies on each stick for a pretty color combination and to get a taste of each veggie on each stick.

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5) Grill the veggie skewers on the grill along with meat or steak or anything else you are grilling. They take about 30 minutes to grill to perfection. You can just lay them down on the grill, or get a grill basket and grill the veggie kebabs in the grill basket. I have tried both ways and both work just fine.

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6) These are especially delicious with steak!

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Empanada (Fried Tortilla With Meat Filling)

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Some call these empanada’s, some call these chebureki, either way these fried tortillas with a meat filling inside are a great appetizer and snack. Could also be eaten for dinner. I made a batch of these for a Super Bowl party this year and they were a big hit! These are convenient to bring to a get together/party, because they can be cooked in advance and you just pop them in the oven to preheat them. I do have another recipe for tortillas with meat filling on the blog, but this is my go to, easier version recipe. These are best served hot, and reheat very well in the oven. I actually like them best preheated in the oven on 300 degrees for about 10 mins as they get extra crispy this way!

Empanada’s (Fried tortillas with meat filling) {Yields 18}

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB Ground Chicken or Turkey (I just use 2LB Ground Turkey now as we found it to be our favorite)
  • 1 LB Ground Beef
  • 1 Onion (pureed in food processor)
  • 1 pack of Raw, Uncooked, Tortilla’s (Can be bought in refrigerator section in Costco, Walmart, a few other grocery stores) Should be about 18 tortillas
  • Spices: 1 1/2 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp Garlic Salt, 1/8 tsp Pepper, 1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash (Or any salt free seasoning of your choice)

unnamed-321123Directions:

1) Put ground chicken and ground beef in a big bowl. Puree 1 Onion in the food processor (or shred it using a shredder) and add to the bowl of ground meat. Add the spices and mix thoroughly.

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2) Set up an empanada making station. I set up a big sheet of foil on the counter with the tortillas, the bowl of meat filling, and a small cup with water and a brush (to stick the tortillas together).

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3) Lay each tortilla out and fill with meat mixture, one by one. I add about 2 TBS of meat filling to each tortilla. Brush the outline circle of the tortilla with water using the brush. Stick both sides of the tortilla together and seal tightly by pressing on ends with a fork. This also makes a nice rigid design. Set the done emanada’s aside. Set a pan with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan, on Medium heat (I did 5.5) and let the oil heat up.

 

4) Once oil heats up and starts fizzing a bit, add 2 empanada’s at a time to the pan. Fry on each side until golden (about 3 Minutes per side). Have a tray lined with paper towels or napkins to put the fried empanada’s on so the extra oil would drain off.

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Serve hot. To reheat place in the oven for 10 minutes on 300 to 350 Degrees until hot and crispy!

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The Best Home Made Mac & Cheese

unnamed-3321This is hands down, the best home made Mac & Cheese that I have ever tried. I came up with this recipe in an attempt to make yummy home made Mac & Cheese because it’s currently my 5 year old’s favorite food and I didn’t want to keep making it from the box. I made some last week when our friends were over for dinner and it was a big hit! I have never seen anyone eat as much Mac & Cheese as my friend’s husband did! That is the best compliment a chef can get, when all the food gets devoured! They said it was the cheesiest and best Mac & Cheese they have ever eaten. Not oily, and extra cheesy. I wasn’t shy with the cheese that’s for sure and that is the secret behind this recipe, 2 blocks of a good sharp cheddar cheese, 1 small (4 oz) block Velveta cheese (optional) and a good brand of macaroni. This dish will be a big hit for sure and it’s so easy to make. I hope you love it, just as much as my family and friends do! I am posting now in time for Christmas, as it has been requested. I know this will definitely be a dish I have on all my Holiday tables from now on.

The Best Home Made Mac & Cheese {1 Big casserole dish, 4-8 servings}

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of “Elbows” macaroni
  • 2 (8 oz) Blocks of Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Grated in separate bowls)
  • 1 block (4 oz) Velveta Cheese (Optional, I use it when I have some)
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Stick (8 TBS) Butter, Unsalted
  • 4 TBS Flour
  • Salt to taste

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Directions:

1) Cook the Elbows macaroni according to the package instructions. Make sure to add salt to the boiling water.

2) When Macaroni cooks through, drain out the water from pot, and add 4 TBS of butter to the macaroni. Mix well and set aside.

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3) In a small saucepan, melt 4 TBS (1/2 stick) of butter on Medium heat (I did 6). Slowly add in 4 TBS of flour, and whisk together with the butter to make a thick sauce. When the flour is well incorporated into the butter and the thick sauce starts bubbling, add 1 Cup of milk.

4) When the Milk heats up, almost boiling but not yet, add 1 shredded block of sharp cheddar cheese a little bit at a time. Whisking to make a cheesy sauce consistency. If you are using Velveta cheese, add it to the pot of cheddar cheese now and incorporate into the cheesy mixture. Turn heat off. Mix the cheese sauce with a spoon.

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5) Transfer the cooked macaroni into a casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce all over the macaroni and gently mix. Sprinkle 1/2 block of shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top of the macaroni. Cover with foil. Bake on 350 Degrees for 15 minutes, right before serving. Optionally, you can transfer mac and cheese to a crock pot, mix, and keep on warm until ready to serve (and sprinkle more cheese on top when done).

6) Take Mac & Cheese out of the oven, remove foil, sprinkle the other 1/2 block of shredded sharp cheddar cheese all over top of macaroni and stick back in the oven (or add to crock pot) for a few mins to melt all over the top. Enjoy!

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Yum! Look at that cheesy goodness!!!

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Crock pot Sweet & Sour Meatballs

dscn4419These crock pot meatballs are a great appetizer. I am posting these just in time for Christmas! I got this recipe from my friend Kendra, who got the recipe from a friend. These are absolutely delicious yet the easiest thing you can make! Great for a party as they stay hot and easy to bring. I made these meatballs for a Christmas party we attended last weekend and they were a big hit! We took an empty crock pot home. Minimal work and only 4 ingredients. I plan on making another batch for a Christmas party next week!

Crock pot Meatballs In Tangy Sauce {5 LB Meatballs, About 125 Meatballs}:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (5 LB) Bag of Italian Style Meatballs
  • 1 (14 oz) Bottle of Ketchup
  • 17 oz. Grape Jelly
  • 1/2 Bottle of Chili Sauce

Directions:

1) Set your crock pot on the Low setting. Throw in the frozen meatballs.

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2) In a big bowl, measure out and mix together the ketchup, grape jelly, and chili sauce.

3) Mix the sauces very well and pour into the crockpot over the meatballs and mix.

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4) Cover the crock pot with lid and cook on Low setting for 4 hours. Mix about every hour. Serve hot in crock pot and keep on Auto or Low setting to keep meatballs warm. Enjoy!

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Mini Baked Appetizer Sandwiches

dscn4126These mini baked appetizer sandwiches are loaded with cheese, and ham. These are quick and easy to make and one of the yummiest appetizers ever! I got the recipe from my friend Irina, when we were over their house for dinner and she made these. I couldn’t get enough! Of course I had to get the recipe to share with you guys! I wanted to post this recipe right on time before the Holidays, as we all need great appetizer recipes for entertaining. Enjoy!

Mini Baked Appetizer Sandwiches (Yields enough for a big party) :

Ingredients:

  • 1 long French Baguette
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Block Mozzarella Cheese (Grated)
  • Green Onion
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Virginia Baked Ham ( .50 LB, cut into one thick slice)

dscn4101 dscn4106Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Cut the tomato into little dice. Cut the Ham into little cubes. Shred the block of Mozzarella cheese. Finely chop 4 green onions (mostly green part). Using a butter knife, smear a little bit of Mayonnaise onto each piece of baguette bread.

2) Put everything on the baguette slices in this order; Ham, tomatoes, green onions, then squirt 2 small drops of ketchup on the baguette slices and cover with cheese on top.

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3) Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden to your desire! Best when served hot.

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Shrimp Salad

DSCN4076This Shrimp Salad recipe was created by me but inspired by a salad I had at a restaurant called Canyon’s, in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. It was the perfect meal for me after a long, hot, exhausting day of exploring Tweetsie Railroad (a wild west theme park) in the beautiful mountains of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I had to recreate it at home and I did. The restaurant version was great but this home made recipe is even better, so much more flavor and you can add as much shrimp as you’d like. I love shrimp! And this shrimp salad takes it to a whole notha’ level (lol I know I’m corny). So fast and easy to prepare and definitely a summer favorite in our house now. I could literally eat this salad every single day! We ate it as a meal for dinner, but you could also make it as a side dish/salad. You can omit the shrimp if you are not a fan, and add anything else you want to it and get creative. Please don’t forget to share your idea’s with me, I would love to hear them!

Shrimp Salad {Serves 2 as meal, 4 as side}

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 package Grape Tomatoes
  • 2 Cucumbers or 1 long English Cucumber
  • 1 to 2 LB Shrimp, Raw (I used 2 LB as we love our shrimp!)
  • Dressing of choice (I used Marzetti Brand Classic Ranch Dressing)
  • Croutons of choice (I used Texas Toast Cheese & Garlic Croutons)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • Lawry’s Herb & Garlic marinade sauce

Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Peel & devine the shrimp, rinse through with cold water and let dry. Wash all the veggies and chop everything up into one big bowl. I chopped the lettuce into small squares. The grape tomatoes in halves. The cucumber in fourths and then chopped into pieces.

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2) Set a pan on Med-High heat (I did a 6) add some olive oil. When the oil heats up, add the shrimp. Add salt/pepper to shrimp and mix. When the shrimp looks done, lower the heat to low (I did 2) and add some Lawry’s Herb & Garlic marinade sauce, I added about 2 tablespoons and 2 pressed garlic cloves. Simmer with the lid on for a few minutes until shrimp is well cooked through. Turn off heat and keep shrimp hot.

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3) When you are ready to eat, add the shrimp into the salad bowel. Mix gently. Each person can add dressing and croutons to salad individually to their liking. Enjoy!

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