Italian Potato Salad

Before I get to the Italian Potato Salad I have to say I am very excited that I’ve opened up my Etsy shop!  I’ve been working for months on researching what to do and getting my photos together.  I’m starting off with greeting cards but I’ll be adding enlargements and such as I go along.  It is call CreationsByOGP, for some reason Etsy doesn’t like spaces!

If you have a chance, please check it out at CreationsByOGP.

As we’re still battling a fierce heatwave with crazy humidity, dinners need to be easy to put together because standing over a hot stove isn’t my idea of fun in the summer.  The farmer’s market had new potatoes so I decided to make an Italian Potato salad.

Technique for Italian Potato Salad:

I prepped the dressing first so it was ready.

Italian Potato Salad 1 2018

Mix 2 parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.  Add a healthy handful of fresh thyme and season with sea salt and pepper.  Whisk the ingredients well and set aside.  Next wash the potatoes and roast them at 425F/220C until they are cooked through and the skins are a bit crispy.  Take 4-6 rashers of streaky bacon and cook in a skillet until they are done to the way you like them.  We like them slightly crispy but not cooked too hard.

Italian Potato Salad 2 2018

Dice the bacon and set aside.  Once the potatoes are cooked, slice the larger ones in half as you want them bite size.

Italian Potato Salad 3 2018

Toss in a large bowl with the dressing and bacon.  Add fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  Grate fresh parmesan to finish.

Italian Potato Salad 4 2018

For a bit of variation you can also add grilled chicken or grilled fish.  I have to say though, I’m ready for cooler weather so I can do some baking and such.  Hopefully it’s right round the corner.

Italian Potato Salad

A delicious twist on potato salad with fresh basil and tomatoes.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian Potato Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Salad

  • 1 lb new potatoes 400g
  • 4-6 rashers streaky bacon
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn to small pieces
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup small mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together.  Add the thyme, sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Set aside.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.  Roast the potatoes until the skins are crispy.  Cook the bacon until they are slightly crispy.  Cut up the bacon and slice any new potatoes that are more than bite sized.  Toss all the ingredients together and serve.  

Creamy Lemon Bacon Chicken Pasta

It was a rite of passage this past weekend for our daughter with the high school prom.  She’s been to friends proms in the past but this was the first for her high school.  I have to say, proms have come a long way since I last had to worry about prom.  It’s much more inclusive and more often than not, groups of students go as friends rather than missing out because a date couldn’t be found.  Way better!

My daughter had a few friends over to get ready before her date showed up.  I did my first ever updo.  It came out ok, phew!  It was lovely to see that all the girls dressed in elegant dresses, no hoochie mamas.  Some of the dresses I’ve seen in the past few years leave little to the imagination.  Thankfully that trend wasn’t to prevalent this time round.

Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we just did photos round the house.  The weather did bring in some cooler weather which called for comfort food!  I saw a recipe calling for bacon and mushroom in a cream sauce.  That sparked an idea.  Lemon and grilled chicken would be a great addition.

I kept the marinade for the chicken very simple.  With a ratio of about 2:1 olive oil to lemon juice, whisk those together with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and marinate for a couple of hours.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 1 2018

When it’s time to cook up the dinner, grill the chicken and cook up the pasta.  Cut into small squares, 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.  Start cooking the bacon in a large skillet.  Slice a few mushrooms and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic.  Sauté the ingredients with the bacon.  Add a handful of fresh thyme.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 2 2018

When the bacon is nearly cooked add 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  You want this to be really lemony at this point so the brightness isn’t lost in the cream and pasta.  Bring this to a simmer then add a 1/3 cup/3oz of heavy cream.  Cook on low until the chicken and pasta are done cooking.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 3 2018

Slice the chicken and add that and the pasta to the skillet and stir well.  Right before serving add a bunch of arugula or spinach and let wilt.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 4 2018

Serve and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

Lemon Cream Chicken Pasta 5 2018

Comfort food with the lightness of lemon, great for a cool spring night.

Brussel Sprout Sliders

A quick post today as we’re getting ready to hit the road for university tours.  It seems so surreal that our daughter is old enough to be thinking about university but it’s here!  She’s ready for the next chapter and excited about it.  I look forward to see where her journey takes her.

This past weekend I made a dinner for my husband as a thank you for holding down the fort during tax season.  It’s a lot of extra work for him for which I am grateful he takes on.

One thing he loves is Brussel sprouts so that definitely had to be on the menu. Just for him mind as I can’t stand the stuff!  I came across an idea on Pinterest for vegetarian Brussel sprout sliders with tofu, I think plus there were asian flavours.  I thought it would be a fun idea with streaky bacon and french flavours.

Brussel sprouts sliders 1 2018

In a small bowl add two parts olive oil to one part champagne vinegar.  Finely chop 2 small cloves of garlic and add a healthy dollop of brown mustard.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Brussel sprouts sliders 2 2018

Mix well and coat the sprouts.  Reserve the remaining mixture.

Brussel sprouts sliders 3 2018

Roast in the oven at 350F/175C.  Cut 3 rashers of streaky bacon into squares.  Cook them up in a skillet, slowly rendering them.

Brussel sprouts sliders 4 2018

When the bacon has been cooked remove from the skillet and set aside.  Drain the bacon fat until you have a couple of tablespoons left in the pan.  Add to the skillet thinly sliced onion.  I was only making 4 sliders so I did a half a cup.  Cook slowly to soften and caramelise.

Brussel sprouts sliders 5 2018

When they are halfway cooked add the remaining mustard mixture to the onions.  Continue to caramelise.

Brussel sprouts sliders 6 2018

Once all the ingredients have been cooked assemble into sliders.

Brussel sprouts sliders 7 2018

My husband really enjoyed these so I’ll be making these again.  Just a small way to show my gratitude.

 

Bacon Wrapped Steak Salad and They Really Should Teach Body Mechanics in PE

I was able to touch my toes today.  So what you say?  Well, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to do that!  I had to bend my knees a little but I got there.  Part of what helped was reading an article from NPR about the proper way to bend to pick up things.  Seems so basic but it really changed things for me.

I was speaking with my massage therapist today and casually mentioned I was discussing with my husband how they should teach body mechanics in Physical Education.  Perhaps if they did less of us wouldn’t find us feeling old as we hit our 30’s and 40’s.  She completely agreed as she definitely sees all sorts of body issues.  Just add it to the long list of things that kids should learn before heading out into the world!

Bacon Steak Salad 1 2018

Only five more shifts of tax season, not that I’m counting!  But the last few weeks mean I need to come up with simple dishes to cook on the days I’m home in the evening because my brain is fried!  I came across a dish with steak wrapped in streaky bacon with the usual Worcestershire sauce, which is tasty but I wanted to mix it up a bit with a fresh salad and Italian flavours.

Bacon Steak Salad 2 2018

At least an hour ahead of cooking marinate the steak.  In a bowl add two parts olive oil and one part balsamic vinegar.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on size, and finely chop a small handful of fresh oregano and thyme.  Add a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Cube the steak.  I used steak tips as the co-op has a great local source, so good! Add the steak to the marinade.

Bacon Steak Salad 4 2018

When it’s time to cook, wrap each cube in half a rasher of streaky bacon and place on a skewer.

Bacon Steak Salad 5 2018

If you remembered to get propane for the grill, use the grill but as I hadn’t done that I used the griddle on the cooktop.  Get it to medium high.  You don’t want it too hot because you don’t want to burn the bacon before the steak get’s cooked.

Bacon Steak Salad 6 2018

Use the marinade to baste the bacon and turn frequently so, again, the bacon doesn’t burn.  While this is cooking put together a fresh salad with mozzarella cheese and fresh made balsamic vinaigrette.  Use 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar.

Bacon Steak Salad 7 2018

I’m definitely ready for salad season.  Love the lightness and all the flavours.

Bacon and Chicken White Bean Soup and We Have a Houdini

Our puppy boys aren’t actually puppies, they are 11 and 8. We call them puppies as they like to act like that and occasionally they teach themselves new tricks. Guinness, our 11 year old, decided to channel Houdini this morning. Because we’re still having work done on the house we put the dogs safely in a room. It usually works. Only this morning Guinness figured out how to open our sliding doors. It got a little hairy as we corralled him. It was bit bit like a comedy of people going in and out of rooms but no one could see anyone else.

Murphy has been taking this in stride but Guinness has taken to muttering at the intrusions. Definitely put out! Fortunately it will be over soon and he’ll soon get his room back. Silly sausage.

With the cacophony going on, comfort food hits the spot. Bacon chicken white bean soup fits the bill. I added bacon and chicken to this soup because they needed to be used up. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

In a saucepan add a half chicken breast that has been cubed and 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon that has been chopped. Sauté on medium heat.

Slice 2-3 mushrooms and chop 4-6 cloves of garlic. Once the bacon has rendered a bit add the veg to the saucepan.

Add 3 cups/24 ounces of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Next add 2 cans of 15 ounce cans of white beans after rinsing them. Continue to simmer until the beans are cooked through. Season with se salt and pepper. A healthy splash of white wine, ahandful of fresh parsley and 4 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan finishes off the soup.

Fresh baked crusty bread with butter is a perfect companion to this soup.

I really enjoyed this hearty soup. A nice break from all the upheaval.

French Onion Quiche and the Walls Come Tumbling Down Again…

They say wisdom comes with age. When it comes to house projects, my husband and I finally got wisdom! We’re redoing our bathroom and bedroom and instead of slogging our way through the demo we saved up and got our contractor to do it. What a difference. I can breath, we’re not exhausted and not filthy.

Our puppies, on the other hand, are less than impressed with the cacophony going on. I wish I could make them understand what’s going on but I can’t. So all I can do is give them loads of cuddles. Fingers crossed this project goes quickly.

Because we were facing a potential few hours of laying insulation (way too much fun, I know!) I made dinner during the day so we wouldn’t starve afterwards. Turns out, it was a quick job, thank goodness. As we also got several inches of snow to clear it was nice to have dinner ready.

I was inspired by a pin I saw for a French onion tart with bacon and I thought it would be fun to use my French Onion Soup in a quiche. This is easy to put together but just don’t rush it.

To begin cut up about seven rashers of streaky bacon and slowly render them on medium heat. Cook until about 2/3s done.

While the bacon is cooking slice a half an onion thinly. Finely chop two cloves of garlic and coarsely chop a couple of mushrooms.

Remove the bacon and set aside. Pour out the bacon fat until you only have about two tablespoons of fat left in the pan. Add the onions and cook slowly. Once they begin to soften add the garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes. Add a cup of veg bouillon, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and two tablespoons of brandy. Stir in a healthy dollop of stone ground mustard.

Bring this to a medium simmer to reduce the broth. Meanwhile prepare the pastry using half the recipe I used in the pie. Grate half a cup of Jarlsberg and half a cup of smoked Gouda. In a bowl beat three eggs together then had a half cup of cream and 3/4 cup of milk.

Once the broth is nearly reduced add back in the bacon. Continue until the broth is nearly gone. Spread it into the bottom of the pastry.

Sprinkle the cheese over the mixture then pour the egg and milk into the dish.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425F/220C then bake for about 30 minutes at 300F/150C. Remove once the quiche is set and golden.

Either serve it right away or save and heat up later.

Quick question, I’ve suddenly gotten a lot of followers from outlook mail accounts. While I’m grateful for followers I’m concerned there maybe something else going on.

Italian Salad and Being Exercised by the House

Negative space.  Great when it comes to artwork.  Not so much when it comes to a house.  Our house was built in 1895 and I have to say it was solidly built.  It’s still relatively square. But man, when we redo rooms or do projects we find some serious negative space.  While our kids are off on their summer adventures we redid my son’s floor.  Because the wood had been damaged we had to pull up the old flooring.  Which gave us a chance to put in new insulation.  And that is where we saw the latest example of negative space.  So we stuffed a lot of insulation in.  Our son will be quite toasty this winter.

Thankfully that is a few months off.  On Father’s Day we joined our friends in the traditional Father’s Day BBQ and I had made a twist on the caprese salad with bacon and lettuce.  I didn’t have the time to get stuff together for a blog post then but I thought I’d remake it for my husband and I but added chicken.  Because why not?

Italian salad 1 2016

In a skillet start cooking 4-5 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped up.  Once the bacon is half cooked add about a third of a cup of chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped.  Add a teaspoon or so of fresh thyme.

Italian salad 2 2016

While this is cooking make up the dressing and grill the chicken.  I just seasoned the chicken with sea salt and pepper as it will be dressed before adding to the salad.  In a bowl add olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The ration was about 1:3/4 oil to vinegar.  Whisk to emulsify. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Italian salad 3 2016

Cut up the chicken into small pieces.  Add the chicken and the bacon mixture to the bowl and toss in the dressing.

Italian salad 4 2016

Add to lettuce and top with chopped tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

Italian salad 5 2016

A super easy, flavourful salad for summer nights.  Without leaving you feeling stuffed.

Leek and Bacon Burgers

When I started blogging I was nudged by a friend to just go ahead and do it.  Instead of just thinking about it and worrying whether it could be successful or not.  For a few months now I’ve been wondering about starting a YouTube channel.  Of course I have been trying to figure out if I could pull it off, what would I do, how would I do it, that sort of thing.

I’ve been inspired by Stéphane of My French Heaven who has started his channel.  He has already uploaded a few videos and he is doing a great job.  It’s a bit of a learning curve for me as I don’t have a Mac and we don’t use Windows.  So I found an open source video editor Kdenlive to try out.  I took a few videos to practice and boy did I feel silly!  It’s one thing to have in your head what you want to do and another to actually press record and do it.  So I’ll do a bit of practicing and see what I can sort out.  I have iMovie on my phone but that screen is too small for me and I don’t have enough space on my iPad.  Then I have to figure out camera set ups.  I think this could be fun, once I learn the ropes.

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous so we did a lot of outdoor projects.  Which meant easy dinners was the name of the game.  My husband wanted burgers.  I wanted to do them with a twist.  For the actual burger I did the same ones as I did in my gourmet burgers.  Though instead of goat meat I used beef.

Leek Bacon Burger 1 2016

Instead of buns I bought large portobello caps to grill.  Just prep them with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Set aside while you prep the burgers.  Slice about half a cup of leeks and a few button mushrooms.  Cut up a few rashers of streaky bacon.

Leek Bacon Burger 2 2016

Start cooking the bacon in a skillet.  Once it is half cooked add the mushrooms and leeks to the skillet.  While this is cooking grill the burgers and portobello caps.

Leek Bacon Burger 3 2016

Stack the burger on the mushroom caps, add goat cheese, and top with the leek and bacon mixture.

Leek Bacon Burger 4 2016

For this you can pick just about any cheese you like, my husband likes jarlsberg. You don’t need much more than this as it is quite filling.

Please let me know if you have a YouTube channel or any advice on having one.

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Leeks and Teaching the Boy to Cook

I have wicked spring fever!  It looks like winter is leaving early this year.  Obviously this could change but I am really hoping it doesn’t.  It is so beautiful out.  And it so nice to be out of the windowless office.

A few weeks ago my son mentioned he wanted to cook dinner for us so we had him go through our cookery books to see what he would like to try out.  He found a recipe for roast chicken that had a bacon stuffing with seaweed.  With the exception of me, no one else would want seaweed and I don’t like roasting birds stuffed.  So we brain stormed and came up with our own recipe.  We finally had time to do it last night and it was a lot of fun to cook with him.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 1 2016

Preheat the oven to 325F/150C.  Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan.  Add water and a bit of sherry to the pan.  Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  This chicken was just under 4lbs so we cooked it for an hour and a half.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 2 2016

Cut up 4 rashers of streaky bacon and render it into the skillet.  While I was doing this my son was working on his knife skills getting the mushrooms and leeks ready.  He’s 11 so I handled the raw meat and he took care of everything else.  I was impressed with how he did.  🙂

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 3 2016

Drain excess bacon fat then add the leeks and mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute until the leeks have softened then add about a cup to a cup and a half of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add a couple of tablespoons of cognac and about the same amount of stone ground mustard.  Stir well to blend and simmer to reduce by a third or so.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 4 2016

I had my son taste test to see if it was balanced.  I have to say he has a really good palette.  So I had him adjust the flavours as needed.  He did really well with that!

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 5 2016

Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving.  We served it with roast potatoes and parsnips.

I really enjoyed spending one on one time with him doing this meal.  He’s a neat kid.  🙂

Chicken Leek Flaky Pies

This is just crazy.  Every single year that I’ve been doing taxes I get sick or I fall just as the office opens.  I thought not this year!  The office opens tomorrow and I’m sick.  Seriously?  What kind of “rain” dance can I do to break this streak?  So I’m trying to be very good today so it goes away and I’ll be fine for tomorrow.

I love the flavour combination of chicken and leek and I wanted to do a variation on the chicken and leek pies with phyllo dough.  This time I wanted to use a short crust for the pie.

I made the pastry about an hour before making the dinner to allow it to chill in the fridge.  Cut in 3/4 cup of cold butter into 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.  When the mixture is crumbly and sticks together add a tablespoon of cold water at a time until the pastry comes together in a ball.  Cover with cling film and chill.

You need to make enough filling to fill the amount of pastry you have.  The above recipe is enough for 2 9″ pie shells.  Which was enough to make four pies.  The ratio of ingredients is equal amounts for everything but the garlic.  That was just 3-4 cloves.  Everything gets chopped up into small pieces.  You don’t want large chunks so everything cooks evenly.

Chicken pastie 1 2016

In a large skillet start rendering the streaky bacon on medium.  You don’t want the skillet too hot because you don’t want the bacon to catch.  After about 5 minutes add the garlic.  Then add the leeks and mushrooms.

Chicken pastie 2 2016

Normally you start the chicken at the beginning but for this the chicken needs to complete cooking in the oven.  You don’t want the chicken dry and tough.   After the leeks and mushrooms have cooked for a couple of minutes add about a third of a cup of dry white wine.  Add the chicken and a bit of fresh thyme.

Chicken pastie 4 2016

Roll out the pastry.  I rolled to a thickness of about a 1/4″/6mm.  I used a 6″ plate to cut round.

Chicken pastie 3 2016

Spoon the filling onto one half of the pastry.  I used a slotted spoon because I didn’t want the filling to be too wet.  Grate some jarlesberg over the filling.

Chicken pastie 5 2016

Brush a beaten egg round the edge of the pastry.  Fold the pastry in half and use a fork to crimp round the edge.  Slice the top with three slits.  Brush the pie with the beaten egg.

Chicken pastie 6 2016

Bake in the oven set at 425F/220C for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

Chicken pastie 7 2016

Serve immediately.  The kids loved it and it is a very easy dish to put together.  And a great way to use up some ingredients in the fridge.