Tag Archives: celery

Summer Couscous Salad

I made this salad again for the July 4th holiday and thought it would be good to repost! Once again it was a hit! Quick, easy, refreshing and delicious!!

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It’s been a while but here is a new recipe. I made this dish yesterday to bring to a friend’s for a barbecue. She said to bring a side. Turns out she made almost the same exact salad! Very funny, but they had a few different ingredients so it was cool. (Hers had chopped red pepper, and everyone who knows me knows I would NEVER put sweet peppers in anything!)She also didn’t have the carrots or tomatoes.

I just threw this together quickly and it can totally be changed to what you like. It’s your choice!

This was a very fast and easy salad to make. It’s a nice change from the usual heavy ‘pasta’ type salads. Mostly veggies also so how can it be bad? Enjoy.

2013-06-22 13.36.20

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cups pearl couscous (cooked according to package directions) I also used chicken broth instead of water

1 can corn kernel, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

¼-½ of an english cucumber chopped small (If you use a regular cucumber, remove the seeds and peel)

1 stalk celery sliced/chopped

1 carrot grated or chopped

cherry tomatoes/halved (I used about 20 or so)

¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried dill

½- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (approximately)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients in a large bowl (except for olive oil). Mix thoroughly. Then slowly add some olive oil to make it smooth and silky. I think I used a couple of tablespoons. 

Chill several hours and serve.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

First let me say that I have not actually made this recipe yet. But I will, soon. My husband loves gumbo. Me, I could take it or leave it. Mainly because there are peppers in it. Remember, I am the one Italian who doesn’t like sweet peppers. I know, weird. But I am willing to give this a try and I will make sure I chop the pepper very small so I can’t pick them out! You should see me at restaurants! Anyway, I got this recipe in my email today from Cooking Light. It’s actually from their November 2002 issue! So it’s been around a long time. I have changed a few things of course (though I am leaving the peppers in!). The recipe calls for boil-in-bag rice. Not happening in this house. I will use jasmine brown rice. I always make a huge batch and freeze it in small packages, for occasions just like this! And it also called for turkey kielbasa. I will use chicken sausages of some kind. The recipe originally called for bottled minced garlic. Again, not in my house! I will use fresh garlic and probably double it!

What is also really great about this recipe is that most of it uses frozen vegetables. This will save time if you’re making it last-minute. But if it’s last-minute you might not have the ingredients on hand so think ahead anyway. And if you do not like to use frozen vegetables like onion, peppers, okra etc. use fresh. But remember the frozen ones are already all cut up for you and cook faster! Another way to make this a little different is to add some shrimp to the last step also. Probably about a half pound or so of uncooked. It will cook fast so be careful.

Illustration courtesy of Cooking Light magazine

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cooked rice of choice (I prefer jasmine brown rice)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup frozen chopped onion

1 cup frozen chopped green bell pepper

1 cup frozen cut okra

1 cup chopped celery

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)

8 ounces chicken sausage of your choice, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (14½ ounce) can diced tomatoes with peppers and onion

1 (14½ ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

1. If you are cooking rice now make the gumbo while it is cooking.

2. Combine the flour and oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Saute over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, green pepper, okra, celery, garlic, thyme, and ground red pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

3. Stir in the chicken, sausage, tomatoes, and broth, cook 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.

Makes 4 servings (1½ cups gumbo and ½ cup rice)

Apple & Celery Slaw w/Blue Cheese Dressing

I am always looking for variations on the usual cole slaw recipes. This recipe is a light and refreshing one that is not your “usual” slaw. Using lighter versions of the ingredients lowers the calories and makes a great addition to the summer barbecue! The recipe calls for granny smith apples but feel free to change them to your favorite. Fuji apples are a great apple for this recipe as well. Not as tart as granny smith apples but just as tasty!

INGREDIENTS:

4 ounces regular or light blue cheese, crumbled

½ cup light or regular mayonnaise

½ cup light buttermilk

½ teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute (Splenda or even Agave nectar is good)

4 granny smith or fuji apples

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a small bowl, using a fork, combine the blue cheese, mayonnaise and ¼ cup of the buttermilk until thick and lumpy. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and the sugar/sweetener. Refrigerate.

2. Quarter, core and coarsely grate the apples. In a medium bowl, combine the apples with the dressing. Stir in the celery; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 6

Delicious Creole Gumbo

On May 4, 2009 the world became a lot less funny. Comedic genius and actor Dom DeLuise passed away at the age of 75. I don’t know of anyone who can’t name at least one favorite Dom  DeLuise movie. One of my faves is “Fatso”. The food in this movie was incredible and you got hungry just watching it. Especially the scene with the huge pot of sauce and meatballs. He dunks a little Italian bread into to taste it and it’s all down hill from there. Funny. He was one of my favorite actors and you always smiled when you watched him. Smiled or laughed hysterically.

Dom was not a skinny man by any means but over the years he realized he had to do something. I bought his first cookbook “Eat This…It’ll Make You Feel Better!” back in 1988. It was full of funny and wonderful stories of his family and friends. It was and still is an awesome cookbook. When I got married my father wouldn’t let me leave the house with the copy I had so I had to go and buy another one to take with me! The book is full of his mother’s Italian home cooking as well as recipes from his family and friends. It’s actually my “go to” Italian cookbook.  As the years went on and Dom got larger and larger he decided to start eating better and came out with a second book in 1997. Another hit. This one is called “Eat This Too!”. It’s a low-fat cookbook of all his favorites along with more pics and stories of his family and friends. I will never part with either cookbook. All of the recipes are delicious.

Dom & Julia on Good Morning America in 1984

Today’s recipe is from “Eat This Too!” Gumbo can be very fattening but his version is loaded with vegetables and a seafood. Serve it over brown rice instead of the usual white rice.  Don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients either. It’s not too scary, really! It will take longer to cut up and prep all of the veggies (where’s that private sous chef when you need one?) than to cook so be brave! You won’t be disappointed!

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds shrimp/scallops, lobster, or other seafood, shelled, cleaned

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 28-oz can tomatoes

1 6-oz can tomato paste

1 red pepper and 1 green pepper, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon parsley

1 teaspoon paprika

10 mushrooms, sliced

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

12 fresh okra, sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 tablespoons flour mixed with ½ cup cold water

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large pot sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, until golden brown. Add the remaining ingredients except the seafood.

2. Cook over medium-low heat until flavors intermingle, about 30 minutes. Add the shrimp/scallops or other seafood. Cook just a few minutes until seafood is just done. Serve while still tender.

Serves 8-12

Lobster Rolls

This one’s for you Cheryl! Lobster rolls always remind me of my visits to Maine in the summer. They come on those square-like  New England-style split-top rolls. If you can’t find those rolls just use a regular long sandwich roll or even a larger hot dog rolls. This salad can be made with cooked lobster or shrimp. Either way it will be delicious and the salads should last up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Then again I am sure they won’t last that long so it won’t be a problem! If you are watching the calories or carbs you can always serve this on a bed of lettuce or in a hollowed out large beefsteak tomato or bell pepper! They will be so much better than anything you can buy already made! It’s funny, when in Maine or anywhere in New England they sell Lobster Rolls everywhere. At the rest stops on the highways, fast food restaurants, small restaurants, big restaurants, you name it, you can find the “rolls” pretty much everywhere! This will bring a little bit of New England to your home no matter where you live!

INGREDIENTS:

1½ pounds (4 cups) cooked lobster meat (preferably cold water lobster meat), cut into chunks

¾ cup finely chopped celery with leaves

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup thinly sliced fresh chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; more to taste

freshly ground pepper

6 hot dog rolls, preferably New England-style split-top rolls


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, stir the celery, mayonnaise, chives, tarragon, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir in the lobster meat and season to taste with more lemon, salt and pepper.

2. Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat broiler to HIGH. Toast both sides of the rolls under the broiler, about 1 minute per side. Spoon the lobster salad into the rolls, using about 2/3 cup per roll.

VARIATION: Substitute 2 pounds cooked large shrimp (31-40 per lb.) cut into ½-¾” pieces.

Don’t forget to go to http://www.cucinadiandrea.com for more food fun! And if there is any recipe you’d like to see on here please leave a comment here or on my website and I will do my best to get you what you want!

Savory Stuffing

Even though thoughts of Thanksgiving and turkey are months away it’s never too early to start thinking about stuffing! Stuffing comes in so many varieties so it’s nice to try some new ones every so often. And since we have plenty of time before the holiday season you can try it out now to make sure it’s a hit for your family. And who says you have to wait till Thanksgiving to have a great turkey dinner! I got this recipe from my leader at one of my Weight Watcher meeting several years ago. She had raved about it and I had to try it. It is delicious. It’s a lower calorie version as well so we can not feel so guilty eating it!

Photo is for illustrative purposes only

INGREDIENTS:

½  cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

1 cup fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth

½ cup unsweetened apple juice

4 cups seasoned cubed bread stuffing mix (7 oz.)

½ cup diced unpeeled red apple

¼ cup toasted chopped pecans

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup dried cranberries (6 oz.)


DIRECTIONS:

1. Saute onions and celery in the canola oil.

2. In another pot bring the chicken broth and apple juice to a boil. Pour over the sautéed vegetables.

3. Mix bread, apples, cranberries and pecans into liquid ingredients.

4. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish (or any size dish it will fit in) with oil and place stuffing in it.

5. Cover and bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes.

Serves 12 (½ cup servings)

***ATTENTION*** CHECK OUT MY NEW WEBPAGE http://www.cucinadiandrea.com! It is still a work in progress but it will also link to this blog. Take a peek!

Caponata (Eggplant Salad)

Eggplant is a very versatile vegetable. There’s more to eggplant than eggplant parmigiana. Caponata is served cold on pita bread triangles or crusty bruschetta. It can be used in antipasto as well, again many uses! One of the best things about this little dish is that it can also be frozen! So if you make too much it won’t go to waste. Caponata is primarily a Sicilian pheasant dish but there are many other regional varieties. This is also a great vegetarian dish and healthy one as well! Bonus!

INGREDIENTS:

1 large eggplant

½-¾ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped red onion

8 ounces tomato sauce

½ cup kalamata or black olives, chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut unpeeled eggplant into small cubes after washing well. In a large skillet, heat ½ cup olive oil over medium high heat and add eggplant.

2. Saute until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and red pepper. Cook and stir until the vegetables are crisp and tender.

3. Add more oil, if necessary. Stir in tomato sauce, olives, vinegar and salt. Simmer uncovered, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate.

Makes about 4 cups

Andrea’s Delicious Chicken Salad

I have made this recipe for many years now. I have adjusted things here and there and have finally settled on what works best for us. In this recipe I prefer to use leftover cooked chicken instead of canned chicken. We love getting those huge Perdue rotisserie chickens at BJ’s Wholesale Club for only $4.99! And these chickens are huge. I believe they are about 3 pounds! Definitely more than the scrawny ones you get at the supermarket for twice the price! And with just two of us we always have leftover chicken. So I pick the bones clean of any meat and chop it up with the rest of the leftovers. If I’m in the mood I can make it right away but I usually wait till the next morning to make the salad. It’s best if it can sit for a few hours for all the flavors to blend.  I got the name “Delicious Chicken Salad” from our friend Beverly who is a former co-worker of John’s. He used to share his lunch and everyone loved the chicken salad. I did make it from time to time with canned chicken breast only because I didn’t always have leftover chicken handy. It is so much better with fresh chicken though. If you only have a little bit of chicken leftover adjust the mayonnaise and other ingredients to fit.

Andrea's Famous Chicken Salad

INGREDIENTS:
Leftover cooked chicken breast/dark meat (About 2 cups or so)
1 stalk of celery finely chopped
1 scallion, green and white parts, finely chopped
¾ cup Hellmann’s light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish sauce (not plain horseradish)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

DIRECTIONS:
1. Chop up the chicken into small chunks. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. If you need more mayonnaise add a little at a time.
2. Let chill for an hour or more.

Buying Fresh Fruits & Vegetables at Their Peak (Part 2)

As promised here is the list of when it is the best time to buy fresh vegetables, when they are in season.  What are the best vegetable to buy now? Or in 3 months from now?  Right now in Florida where I live the corn is just starting to come out where in the north it won’t be at its best until August or September. I remember when we spent the summers in Maine as kids and we couldn’t wait for August because we’d go to the farm stands and get all of that delicious sweet yellow and white corn, fresh from the farms. It was so crunchy and sweet and you could eat 2 or 3 ears at a sitting without any problem.  Some vegetables are great all year-long which is a good thing! I hope this information helps out when you’re shopping. Another thing when you are buying items at their peak they are usually the best price as well. So keep that in mind as well! Happy shopping and eat your veggies!

  • Artichokes: March-May: Look for heavy, compact, plump globes. Large tightly closed, fleshy leaf scales. Good green color. Heavy for size.
  • Asparagus: March-June: Look for tightly closed buds. Straight, tender, rich green stalks. Open tips and angular or ridged spears are signs of over maturity.
  • Green/Wax Beans: April-October: Look for crisp, long, straight, blemish-free pods.
  • Lima Beans: April-August: Look for bright color for the variety. Crisp, dark-green, well-filled pods.
  • Beets: June-October: Look for firm, round, smooth, deep red-colored roots. Fresh-looking tops. Avoid those with long roots and rough, scaly areas on surface, because they are tough, fibrous and strong flavored.
  • Belgian Endive: October-May: Look for firm without bruises. Color should be white with greenish cast.
  • Broccoli: October-May: Look for firm, closed, dark-green florets. Firm, tender stalks. Yellowing green-colored heads of broccoli are over mature.
  • Brussel Sprouts: October-November: Look for miniature, compact, bright-green heads.
  • Cabbage: All Year: Look for well-trimmed, solid heads. Heavy for size.
  • Carrots: All Year: Look for firm, bright-colored, smooth, clean, well-shaped. Avoid rough, cracked or green-tinged roots.
  • Cauliflower: September-November: Look for bright-green leaves enclosing firm, closely packed creamy-white curd or florets. Avoid bruised or open florets.
  • Celery: All Year: Look for fresh, crisp branches. Light green to green color. Should not have wilted, rough look or puffy feel to the stalk.
  • Corn: May-September: Look for fresh-leaved, green husks. Plump, milky kernels. Avoid cobs with small or large, dented or shrunken kernels.
  • Cucumbers: May-August: Look for bright, shiny green; firm; well-shaped.
  • Eggplant: August-September: Look for firm, heavy, smooth, even dark purple. Free of bruises or cuts.
  • Lettuce: All Year: Look for fresh green leaves with no wilted or bruised areas. Heading varieties of lettuce should be medium weight for size.
  • Mushrooms: November-April: Look for dry, firm caps and stems. Small brown spots or open caps are still good in flavor.
  • Okra: May-September: Should have tender, bright-green, bruise-free pods, less than 4½ inches long. Pale, faded, hard pods are tough and fibrous.
  • Onions: All Year: Look for well-shaped; hard; small necks. Dry paper skins. Free of green spots or green-depressed leathery areas. Crisp green tops. Two to three-inch bleached-white roots.
  • Parsnips: October-April: Should be small to medium size; smooth-skinned; firm. Decay and bruise free.
  • Peas: April-July: Look for well-filled, bright green. Swollen, light-colored or gray-flecked pods contain tough, starchy peas.
  • Peppers: All Year: Look for good shape; firm exterior; thick flesh and bright, glossy skin.
  • Potatoes (White): All Year: Should be fairly smooth; well-shaped; firm. Free of most blemishes. Avoid bruised, sprouting, shriveled or green-tinged.
  • Potatoes (Sweet): September-December: Look for thick, chunky, medium-sized with no bruises or decay. Should taper at the end.
  • Radishes: May-July: Look for medium-sized (¾-1 inch diameter); good red color; plump; round; firm; crisp. Bright-green tops.
  • Spinach: March-May: Look for large, bright, blemish-free leaves with good green color. Yellowing indicates the start of decay. Avoid leaves with coarse stems.
  • Squash (Summer): June-August: Look for bright color; smooth; glassy skin. Heavy for the size; firm; well-shaped.
  • Squash (Winter): September-November: Should be heavy for the size. Hard, good-colored, unblemished rind.
  • Tomatoes: May-August: Should be well-formed; blemish-free; plump. Over all rich red color and slight softness.
  • Turnips/Rutabagas: September-March: Should be small to medium size; smooth; firm; heavy. Few leaf scars at top and few fibrous roots at base. Purple-tinged white ones are turnips. Yellow-skinned, larger roots are rutabagas.

Layered Salad

This is a recipe that I am sure most people have had at least once at a party. Some call it seven layer salad also. I have added a few ingredients of my own so it comes out a little more than seven layers! The picture I have here is when I made it for my friend Dana’s baby shower back in 2004! I usually put this salad in a trifle dish but if you don’t have one you can use a large clear glass (9×12) baking dish. There are usually no leftovers either. If you want to cut some calories use light mayonnaise, 2% cheddar, turkey bacon, and a sugar substitute such as Splenda for the sugar.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head lettuce, torn into bite size pieces

1 cup celery, diced

4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced

10 oz. frozen peas

1 cup shredded carrots

1 small sweet onion, diced (or you can use red onion if you prefer)

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sugar

4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (or more if you like)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place lettuce in trifle dish or 9×12 dish. Layer remaining ingredients (except for mayonnaise, sugar and cheese)  in order given.

2. Add sugar to mayonnaise and spread over top of salad like frosting. Top with the shredded cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

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