Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Sides: German Potato Salad

Not too long ago I catered a small dinner party and one of the older, female attendees came up to me and said she loved the shrimp scampi I made. "I get so tired of chicken, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese!" she said. All I could think of to say was "Me too!"

This exchange got me thinking that maybe it is time to serve something different!  Often we assume people only like this or they only eat that because we haven't given them something else to try.  And as I learned at my catering gig, some people are dying to try something new.  This is why my "Summer Sides Series" makes over classic dishes to inspire you to bring something different to the table; ESPECIALLY this time of year when standard cookout and picnic fare can get really old really quick!

My first Summer Side recipe was for Apple Slaw and this second is for German Potato Salad.  This version of potato salad leaves out the mayo and uses red skin potatoes, making it a bit healthier than the classic creamy version.  However, I can't call this dish light because there is bacon involved.

But even though I cannot call this side dish healthy, unlike classic potato salad, it is ok to serve in the heat.  In fact, this potato salad is best warm or at room temperature! So please do something different summer and give this side dish a try!

Ingredients (makes 4-5 servings):

1 lb. Red Skin Potatoes (Sometimes called Red Bliss)
1 Large Onion
1/4 lb. of Bacon (about 4-5 strips, chopped into small pieces)
3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Course Ground Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Scallions (chopped)
Salt and Pepper


Chop potatoes into even, bite sized pieces and add them to a large pot.  Peel and cut the onion in half.  Add half to the pot and set the other aside.  Then cover the potatoes and onion with cold water.  Place pot on the stove and bring water to a boil.  As soon as the water starts boiling, add 2-3 tablespoons of salt to help flavor the potatoes.  Allow the potatoes to boil for an additional 7-8 minutes or until fork tender.  Then discard the onion, drain potatoes and set aside.

While the potatoes are boiling add the bacon pieces to a non-stick frying pan and fry until golden brown and crispy.  While this is happening, dice the other half of your onion.  Then, remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper-towel lined plate.  Immediately add the diced onions to the hot, rendered bacon fat and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Carefully add the vinegar, and allow to reduce for 2-3 minutes, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan.  Next whisk in both mustards and the oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the vinaigrette from the heat and allow to cool slightly.  Afterward, add the potatoes to a large bowl, pour the vinaigrette over the potatoes and gently stir to combine.  Then gently fold in the scallions and bacon pieces.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This German Potato Salad was the perfect side to a perfect summer meal!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Sides: Apple Slaw

Memorial Day is quickly approaching which means that summer is here, the pools are opening, and bathing suit season upon us.  Therefore, my next several posts will be recipes that are perfect for summer and they have your waistline in mind.  Now don't worry, I know I haven't given you a dessert since February so I will have some summer sweets as well.  However, some of us may be working hard to look good in a bathing suit, and instead of starving ourselves, why not make food that is tasty AND light?

My first summer side, Apple Slaw, fits that description perfectly.  Cole Slaw is a summer staple but the cabbage and carrots are usually soaked in mayonnaise, causing some people to think they are getting a healthy serving of veggies, but they are really getting a healthy serving of fat.

Instead, make my Apple Slaw.  It's a combo of fruits and veggies tossed in a light vinaigrette and if I could describe it in one word, it would be refreshing! But it's also healthy.  All of the colorful fruits and veggies make this a high fiber, vitamin rich side dish that you and your family are sure to enjoy whether you are poolside, beachside, or at home table-side.  Enjoy!

3 Large Granny Smith Apples (cored, skin on, julienned or cut into matchsticks)
1 cup Shredded Carrots
¼ Cup Candied Walnuts (roughly chopped)*
¼ Cup Dried Cranberries (roughly chopped)*
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint (finely chopped)
1 Lemon (Juice Divided)
1 Tablespoon Honey
2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Tsp Grated Ginger Root or 1/4 Tsp Dried Ginger
Generous Pinch of Salt
Generous Pinch of White Pepper
* I found this cranberry/walnut combo in the salad section! Helped cut the cost of the ingredients.

First core and chop the apples into matchsticks.  The best method is to use a mandolin to slice the apples into 1/8 inch thick slices, stack the slices on top of each other and then chop lengthwise into sticks (see pic to the right). After your apples are chopped, add them to a medium sized bowl and toss them with the juice of half of the lemon, just to keep the apples from browning.  Then add the shredded carrots, chopped walnuts, cranberries, and mint to the bowl.

To make the vinaigrette, squeeze the juice from the other half of the lemon into a small bowl.  Next, add the vinegar, honey, oil, ginger, salt, and white pepper and whisk vigorously.  Pour the vinaigrette over the apple mixture and give everything a light toss. Garnish with some torn mint leaves right on top.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I served the apple slaw with a delicious BBQ rubbed, grilled pork chop.  It complimented it beautifully!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blackened Shrimp & Grits on

I have been so lucky to have 5 of my recipes posted to!  
The latest one is a recipe for Blackened Shrimp & Grits!

If you follow the blog, you know that I had huge success Easter Sunday making Leigh's Shrimp & Grits.  My family loved it but when I posted the pictures and recipe, I was getting constant kudos from friends and followers, proving that shrimp and grits REALLY is a hot dish right now!

Therefore when I was sent McCormick Grill Mate Packets from Ebony, to incorporate into a dish, I still had shrimp and grits on the brain and BAM my Blackened Shrimp & Grits were born!

You can read more about my inspiration for the dish on but I strongly suggest you make this. It really gave a whole other dimension to a plate that was, what I thought, already perfect.

Click HERE to view the recipe on and scroll below for pictures of the process!

Here's how it can be served family style!

I poured the gravy on top of the creamy grits, added a nice pile of shrimp and the result was this gorgeous plate!

After the shrimp were cooked, I began the gravy...

I pan fried the shrimp, it took me a couple batches, but the cast iron skillet REALLY made a difference in the flavor and color!

I took the time to make sure every shrimp was coated with the rub.

It all began with these. The Smokin' Texas BBQ works best in this dish. (It did try both)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Mini-Meatloaves...I wish I could say that I came up with idea all by myself but a while back, in a doctor’s office, I read in a health magazine that a good way to freeze meatloaf is to make them in a cupcake pan. This whole idea was something that I have had in the back of my mind for a while and a couple weeks ago, I finally decided to try it out.  I made turkey meatloaf filling (using my Mom’s recipe), put it in a cupcake pan, and baked it. Turns out that this concept of “Mini-Meatloaves” is genius and here’s why:

First, this recipe is FAST! It only took minutes to combine the ingredients and dividing the meatloaf filling up in the cupcake pan significantly cut down the cooking time!  Baking meatloaf in a standard loaf pan takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes and these took only 30! 

The second reason this concept is great is because they are just so aesthetically pleasing!  A large square loaf of meat has never been pretty but this version looks AND tastes good.  I mean anything that is petite and individualized looks fancy and it makes people happy! (Think of the cupcakes that are usually made in that pan)

So having said all of this, I have included my recipe for Mini-Meatloaves below.  Though I will note that when my mom makes meatloaf, she doesn’t measure. I included measurements here for my cooks who like specifics but feel free to omit and add ingredients as you please and employ the: “little of this, little of that” method. Also, I never got around to freezing them because we ate them all up, but if you are interested in freezing, I suggest you leave off the topping. 

Oh and since I brought up the topping, ketchup is a classic, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try barbecue sauce or the “Balsamic Glaze” topping I stole from Bobby Flay (which kind of tastes like barbecue sauce). ENJOY!

Ingredients: (makes 12 Mini-Meatloaves)
1 ½ lb. Ground Turkey
½ of Small Onion (or 1 large shallot), finely chopped
½ of Bell Pepper (any color), finely chopped
Leaves from 5-6 Thyme Sprigs
1 Egg (lightly beaten)
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Pepper           
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
Meatloaf Toppings: Ketchup, Barbecue Sauce, or Bobby Flay’s Balsamic Glaze (see below)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place ground turkey in a bowl. Then add ALL of the other ingredients. Mix with your hands until everything is combined, but be sure not to over mix.  Then press a handful of the mixture into each of the 12 cups in a non-stick cupcake pan. Be sure to keep the mixture slightly below the top or else the juices will run over. Next spoon the meatloaf topping of your choice onto each mini-meatloaf.  Bake for 25-30 minutes and remove from the oven. (Similar to cupcakes, these mini-meatloaves will pull from the sides when they are cooked.)  Allow them to cool for a few minutes before you remove each from the pan and place on a platter to serve. 

Bobby Flay’s Balsamic Glaze:
Whisk a 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a small bowl.  Spoon over meatloaves.