Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad


Was April Fools’ Day rescheduled this year? After a week of temps in the high 80’s, we took a drastic tumble down to the 30’s last night. This recipe for pasta salad has as much of a contrast in temps as the current weather pattern. Imagine a nice cool summer macaroni salad, then pair it with the spicy heat of Buffalo wings. It’s kind of like a roller coaster for your palate. Savory pasta tossed with blue cheese dressing, hot sauce, celery, red onion and cooked chicken. Makes a perfect lunch, side dish, or party-pleasing take-a-along. This is another one of those super versatile dishes. You can cut back on the heat or kick it up a notch, add more veggies (or just change them up completely), substitute ranch dressing (if you’re not a fan of blue cheese), add blue cheese crumbles (or another cheese of your choice), and substitute rotisserie chicken (to save on time). If you love pasta and you love Buffalo chicken wings (and you love easy), this is the salad for you. This is what I call “summer comfort food.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burger



Stuffed Turkey Burger

My first experience with a stuffed burger was when Rachael Ray introduced her Inside-Out Burger. It was love at first bite. That was a while ago, and since then, stuffed burgers have become increasingly popular. I can see why. Instead of piling all those extras on top of the burger, which often makes for sloppy and awkward eating, you get all those flavors within the burger. Brilliant! Recently I invested in a new kitchen gadget: a Cuisinart 3-in-1 Burger Press. I figured preparation would be so much easier with a gadget that actually puts a pocket in the burger for you, giving you ample room to stuff it with ingredients of your choosing. This past weekend I gave it the first trial run. The instructions that came in the package left a lot to be desired; so I followed the directions that someone who had reviewed this item posted on Amazon. Her instructions worked better. I was also disappointed that there was no recipe booklet included, as I was hoping to get a little inspiration beforehand. Despite that, no regrets on this purchase. If you spray the plastic parts with non-stick cooking spray before use; and make your top patties first, then set aside; this burger press works like a dream. I plan on getting a lot of use out of my new kitchen toy. (This is not a reimbursed product endorsement; I just thought it would be helpful to share this info, especially if you're curious about new kitchen gadgets, like me.) Don't worry, you don't have to run out and buy a burger press to make this recipe. Just put stuffing mixture between 2 patties and seal.



I got the idea for this turkey burger recipe from ©Eating Well Magazine, but I put my own spin on it and the final result was amazing! First, I combined ground turkey with green onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, oregano, salt and pepper. I then formed mixture into top and bottom patties. I filled the bottom patty cavity with a mixture of freshly shredded mozzarella cheese and chopped fresh basil. Meanwhile, I heated Marinara sauce for dressing the burgers. Now for the best part: I served these burgers on seasoned focaccia bread. To make the bread, I unrolled a can of Pillsbury® Refrigerated Classic Pizza Crust, then brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with Herbs de Provence seasoning and generously coated with Parmesan cheese. I cut the bread into squares large enough to accommodate the burgers. To call these turkey burgers tasty would be an understatement. These were phenomenal!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Scuba Diving Easter Eggs


Easter Egg Activity

Here’s another project I found online that was just too cute to resist giving it a try. I saw these on Spoonful.com and fell in love with these little guys. You can’t help but smile when you look at them. What a perfect centerpiece for your Easter table setting! I used hard boiled eggs to make these, but if you plan on keeping them around for a while, you may want to blow out the eggs instead. If you don’t have all the items you need on hand, it’s easy to improvise. I couldn’t find colored rubber bands in a small enough size, so I used colored permanent markers to color the bands. Also, our local office supply store didn’t carry the 3/4-inch round labels for the face, so I used a 3/4-inch washer, traced around it with a black permanent marker on a regular mailing label and cut it out. Because of the small parts involved, I wouldn’t recommend working on these with little tots; but older kiddos will have a blast creating these. These are fun, different and EGG-stra special!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Skillet Kielbasa Casserole


Skillet Kielbasa

As far as ease and convenience, the next best thing to a crockpot dinner is a skillet meal. One complete supper; one skillet to clean. For all the kielbasa lovers out there, have I got a one pot wonder for you: kielbasa, rice, peas and mushrooms, topped with melted Cheddar cheese. The colorful medley of ingredients creates an enticing blend of complementary flavors. This irresistible dish is sure to satisfy the heartiest of appetites. So, skip the oven and go from stove top to tabletop in no time flat.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Baby Red Potatoes


Baby red potatoes make easy work out of side dish preparation. Because of their small size, they cook faster, and their delicate red skin does not require peeling. I just love these little spuds. They’re so versatile and convenient, especially when you are short on time. Their cute size is more appealing to “picky little eaters,” so you don’t have to “sneak” in the healthy veggies. They hold their shape, absorb flavors well, and add a vibrant pop of color to your dinner table. In this recipe, I parboiled the potatoes slightly, then combined with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and a little lemon juice (to add a zesty little tang). Then I topped them off with a little parsley, a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese, and roasted until cheesy, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Great with just about any entrĂ©e, simple to prepare, and on the table in no time.
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