Friday’s Hot Tip: What’s Cookin’? Vinaigrette Dressing

I’ve written before about my cooking phases, but I’m also very conscious of going through phases in salad dressing. When I was growing up, Momcat and I would notice new dressings in the condiments aisle of the grocery store and we would try them out. I remember when ranch dressing made its way onto the scene, usurping many a bottle of Thousand Island not only in our house, but across the land as well. We also tried a tomato dressing that featured sun-dried tomatoes in a vinaigrette-style based – I’d love to find it again, or recreate it, the flavor was so good. When Paul Newman started making his own dressing, we were on it and many a meal at the Moxie kitchen table included that blue-eyed devil staring at us from a bottle of his finest vinaigrette.

About five or six years ago, I was inspired by a former friend to start making my own salad dressings. She would make these incredible salads full of fresh veggies, beans, and other delectables, but instead of serving them with a store-bought dressing, she would mix up olive oil with vinegar, different herbs and spices, and add some ingredients I wouldn’t have thought to add to a homemade dressing.

Over the years I’ve adapted this recipe for my own purposes, and every batch turns out differently, but the following recipe is a good place to start if you are new to DIY salad dressing. Add or remove ingredients as you see fit.

Moxie’s DIY Vinaigrette Dressing

6 T olive oil
4 T rice wine vinegar (balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar is also good)
1/2 T honey
1/2 T spicy brown mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 T fresh thyme
1 T water

145 calories per 2 T serving

Mix all ingredients together using a whisk or hand-held electric beater. Store in a jar with a tight lid or a cruet.

Friday’s Hot Tip: What’s Cookin’?

I like it when I can cook a really tasty meal using only one pot or pan. Being a fan of pasta and rice dishes makes one-pot cooking next to impossible at times. I’m not particularly inventive, either.

But one night a couple months ago I was looking at my canister of bulgur wheat, a whole grain that doesn’t have much personality on its own. Momcat would cook it as cereal occasionally, and with some milk and honey or maple syrup, it’s not too bad. As a side dish, though, it needs some love. I gotta do something with this stuff, I thought, as I stared at the container. So I started poking through the pantry and the fridge…and came up with this really tasty dish. I don’t have a name for it; if you think of one, put it in the comments.

1-1 1/2 T olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t salt
2 C chicken breast, uncooked, cut into bite size pieces
2 C chicken broth
1 T lemon juice
1 C bulgur wheat, uncooked
no-salt seasoning (Mrs. Dash or equivalent)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, allowing the onion to reduce and the garlic to soften. After the onion has become more translucent, add the chicken and saute – increase the heat to medium, stirring the mixture frequently. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the broth, lemon juice, and no-salt seasoning, then the bulgur wheat. Stir well, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let stand for 20-25 minutes. Bulgur wheat should be chewy but slightly firm to the bite.

Serves approximately 3-4 people, depending on how hungry they are. This is very garlic-tastic, so you may want to have mint ice cream for dessert, or hand out breath mints.

Try it out and tell me what you think!

Friday’s Hot Tip

This week’s hot tip is actually a recipe that I’ve had for many years. It was a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner back in the ’70s – Momcat used to make it occasionally for me and Pops, but used a vegetarian chicken substitute instead (still very tasty). Out of all the dishes I’ve cooked for Joe in the 6 months we’ve been together, this is his favorite.

Savory Chicken Crescent Squares

3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T margarine, melted
2 C chicken, cooked and cubed
1/4 tsp salt or Season-All
1/8 tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp milk*
1 T chopped onion or chives
1 T chopped pimiento
8 oz can Pillsbury crescent rolls
3/4 C seasoned bread crumbs OR crushed seasoned croutons
1 T margarine, melted (optional)

Combine cream cheese, 2 T margarine, chicken, salt, pepper, onion, pimiento, and milk. Mix well. Separate can of crescent rolls into 4 rectangles, sealing perforations, on a cookie sheet or flat baking pan. Spoon 1/4 to ½ cup of chicken mixture onto each rectangle. Pull corners to center and seal, or fold sides over to make a small square. Brush tops of squares with 1 T melted margarine and sprinkle bread crumbs/croutons on top.

Oven Temp = 350°
Baking Time = 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown
Serves = 4

*You can eliminate the milk all together, as it makes the mixture very runny.

Hints:

  • Use real cream cheese–lowfat or fat-free cream cheese will make the mixture too watery.
  • The bread crumbs or crushed croutons can be brushed on without using any additional margarine.
  • To make this vegetarian, use 1 can Worthington Fri-Chik instead of chicken. You can also try chickpeas (I haven’t done this yet but I bet it would be really good), seitan, or seasoned tofu.
  • Try different fillings! Possibilities include chili with cheddar cheese, spinach with ricotta or feta cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms with mozzarella…man, now I’m hungry.