I know the last year or so has been vastly inconsistent in comparison to the way I started out. I also know, looking back at my posts, that for me to come up with something original enough to take credit for is a rare occasion. Since this blog has become a show and tell for my Pinterest board, this is my last post. If you want to keep up with what I’ve got cooking, feel free to follow my food boards on Pinterest, name the same as you see here. Readers, thank you for your support, it really has been fun. BPE, thank you for this opportunity, I wish I could have given you better.
I’ve recently discovered Iowa Girl Eats – now she’s got some cool ideas. Being a Midwesterner myself, her brand of home cooking reminds me a lot of both my roots and what I’ve grown to be in the kitchen. I’ll start you with something I’ll admit was a step outside my comfort zone – a warm salad. Sounds crazy, right? I thought so, too. But this is just the dish for those of you who are still hanging onto the last fleeting days that feel like summer. This is filled with the flavors of summer, tomatoes, avocado, corn. These bring a sweetness, to salty bacon and sour vingarette in a party of textures: creamy avocado, soft barley, crispy bacon, crunchy onions, and uniqueness of grilled chicken. I love all the variety of this dish, even balancing the flavor of summer with the warmth and coziness of fall.
Grilled Chicken with Barley Corn Salad (from Iowa Girl Eats)
- 4 chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup medium barley or brown rice to make gluten-free
- 2 cups fresh or frozen-then-thawed sweet corn kernels
- 1-1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- 4 slices bacon, chopped then chopped
- 1 avocado, chopped
- salt & pepper
For the Tomato Vinaigrette:
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon red onion
- salt & pepper
- Cook barley or rice with a pinch of salt according to package directions. Place into a large bowl to cool slightly.
- To make the Tomato Vinaigrette: Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender, then process until smooth. Place 6 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a plastic bag and set the remaining aside. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt & pepper, then add it to the bag with the vinaigrette and marinate in the refrigerator while you make the Barley Corn Salad.
- Stir corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and bacon into the cooled barley. Add enough of the reserved tomato vinaigrette to coat and stir well. Gently fold in avocado then season with salt & pepper to taste. Place into the refrigerator.
- Heat a grill to high and grill chicken for 4-5 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes off the grill, then divide salads onto plates and top with grilled chicken.
My parting recipe is a side dish that makes mac and cheese feel grown up. As many of you know, my husband’s favorite vegetable is garlic, so as soon as I saw this posted, I knew this had to find its way into our meal plan as soon as possible. In my version, I think I added extra, but that was playing to my favorite audience. I know the standard accepted noodle for mac and cheese is the elbow macaroni, but when I make it from scratch, I always go with medium shells because they hold more tasty sauce.
Creamy Garlic Shells (from Iowa Girl Eats)
- 8oz mini shells pasta
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
- salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
- 2 teaspoons parsley flakes
- Cook pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain then set aside. Let pot cool off the heat for several minutes.
- Return pot to stove over medium heat then melt butter in olive oil. Add garlic then saute until golden brown, about 30 seconds, being very careful not to burn. Sprinkle in flour then whisk and cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in chicken broth and milk while whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with salt & pepper then switch to a wooden spoon and stir constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 4-5 minutes.
- Take pot off the heat then stir in parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and parsley flakes until smooth then add cooked pasta and stir to combine. Taste then adjust salt & pepper if necessary
Parting Tip: If you’re making a cake, or a quick bread, or a brownie and you want to have something like nuts or chocolate chips sprinkled throughout the batter, divide the mix ins in half. With one half, dump them on in the batter waiting in the pan. With the other half, toss them in flour, this will keep them from sinking to the bottom.
Sally is a wife and domestic diva in Maryland. She approaches life with gusto, humor, and a passion that is unmatched. She is a classic woman, with a modern twist and is the kind of woman who will throw back a beer and watch Star Trek with her husband, and entertain the church croquette group with homemade cheese cake. Sally offers something for everyone, and is always experimenting and cooking up a storm in her kitchen.