Category Archives: salads

Busy.

Hey. Um, World? Yeah…can you just slow down for me? Like just a tiny bit? I’m getting dizzy. Oh boy. Get the sawdust out. This isn’t going to end well.

I’ve been busy. Can you tell? And while I’m busy at work (oh, man SO busy at work) busy at home (SOOOO busy at home), I should really take a lesson from myself and make things like this delicious fresh salad to get me through these packed to the brim days.

Let’s not talk about that three straight days of takeout pizza this past weekend. Don’t you judge me! 😉

I made this delightful fall-inspired salad for my Project Food Blog dinner party. We’re more than a month past this event and I’m STILL trying to get you the recipes from the party. That should be proof enough how busy I’ve been as of late. Sheesh! I’m dropping the ball here.

This salad is light, refreshing and flavorful. I’m a sucker for citrus flavors so I thought the dressing was the perfect compliment to the bold greens and sweet pears. The goat cheese adds a bit of richness and makes it taste and feel hearty. Love that creamy bite. I could easily make a meal out of this with some crusty sourdough bread on the side. YUM.

MIXED LETTUCE, PEAR AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH CITRUS DRESSING (Recipe Source: Cooking Light via MyRecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

For the dressing:

  • 1  tablespoon  finely chopped shallots
  • 1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  cup  fresh orange juice
  • 4  teaspoons  fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 4  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

  • 2  tablespoons  fresh orange juice
  • 2  firm ripe Bosc pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 6  cups  mixed baby lettuces
  • 1  head Boston or butter lettuce, torn (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Make the dressing: Combine shallots and mustard in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in 1/4 cup orange juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil, stirring constantly. Dressing can be made ahead. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Whisk well to combine before using.
  2. Make the salad: combine 2 tablespoons orange juice and pears, tossing to coat. Combine lettuces in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Arrange about 1 cup lettuce mixture on each of 8 salad plates. Top each serving with about 1/4 cup pear and 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese. Serves 8.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Stella Cookies (Cinnamon Pecan Crescents. My favorite Christmas cookie)
Two Years Ago: I was NaNo-ing and therefore not cooking much. 🙂

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Is this heaven?

So. Let’s be honest. What do you know about Iowa?

Not a whole lot, right?

You’ve probably heard about that crazy presidential caucus thing that goes on here once every four years that makes the media nearly wet their pants with excitement.

Yes, there’s that.

You are probably picturing miles and miles of cornfields, stalks reaching high toward a crystal blue sky dotted with puffy clouds and shivering in the summer breeze. Weather-worn barns with quaint, red-shuddered farm houses watching over fields of happily grazing cattle. Gravel roads. Pick up trucks. Country music on the radio. Oh, and stars! Millions of them overhead, brighter than you’ve ever seen.

Yes, there’s all of that too. But, wow, there is so much more!

Maybe you’ve never been to Iowa. Maybe you have no reason to come to Iowa and never will. That’s okay. We understand….

But we, all three million or so current residents of the great state of Iowa, want you to know that if you do find yourself around these parts, you will be welcomed with open arms and warm hearts. Because in Iowa, in this the very heart of America’s Heartland, people still smile when they pass on the street. They still reach out a helping hand to a neighbor in need. In Iowa, small town main streets thrive, pulsing with life, laughter and a sense of community and pride. Everyone is invited, everyone is welcome, and everyone can feel at home.

I am not a native of Iowa, but it has been my home for more than five years now. I still long for sunshine and beaches when the wind blows, and the snow falls, keeping the temperature outside well below the freezing mark. I grumble and scowl when my favorite bands don’t stop within 200 miles of me on their concert tours. I still miss my Nordy’s and H&M when I step into my much smaller shopping mall.

Despite all that, Iowa is a great place to live. I can see why people who grew up here and leave and want to come back. It’s homey and comforting. Iowa is like a family that wraps their arms around and you and won’t let go. As the famous line from Field of Dreams goes:

“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.”

I am especially grateful to call Iowa home this time of year. Right in my very own backyard, I have access to some of the most delectable and delicious sweet corn you have ever tasted in your life.

I wait for it oh-so patiently every year. As we start creeping up on the end of July, I know it’s coming. Sweet corn season. Farm stands with hand painted signs pop up in parking lots and along rural roadsides. Farmer’s market vendors pile entire truck beds with hundreds and hundreds of ears, packaged by the dozen and ready to go. There really is nothing like it in the world. Sweet corn IS summer in Iowa. Golden like the sunshine, and sweet like the breeze. It is literally bursting with juice. It may even shoot across the table and hits someone else in the eye when you take a bite. It’s okay, though. There’s never any hard feelings when that happens. 🙂

As a special treat, I’ve decided to take some time and share with you a recipe featuring sweet corn every day this week.

It’s just a way for me to showcase my absolute favorite thing about summer: CORN! There will be a few surprises, maybe a few things you haven’t thought of before, but there is sure to be something to help you use up all the EARS of corn that are coming out your EARS. Heh. That’s a pun. 😉

First up, a truly fresh and delicious summer side dish. This Roasted Corn Salad from the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook is colorful and vibrant, bursting with everything that’s great about summer. Fresh sweet corn off the cob, yellow squash, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, basil. The homemade balsamic vinaigrette really takes it over the top. I literally could not stop eating this. I topped grilled chicken with it for dinner and then ate the rest cold for lunch all week. It’s great warm, at room temp or cold and would be a great make-ahead option for a summer get together or potluck.

A few changes from the original recipe – first, I cut it in half. If you’ve made a PW recipe before, you know they feed a crowd. I also cut the amount of garlic, but that’s just a personal preference. I find raw garlic can be really overpowering and I really wanted to taste the veggies here. Feel free to add more if you like. The original recipe also called for drizzling the veggies with olive oil before placing on the grill. I figured there was enough oil in the dressing, so I skipped that step so I could maintain some good crunch on the vegetables after grilling. Worked out well. My changes are noted below. 🙂

Stop back tomorrow for another great sweet corn recipe!

ROASTED CORN SALAD (Recipe adapted from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut in half and seeds/rib removed
  • 3/4 quarters of a cup fresh diced tomatoes (use whatever kind you like. I used grape tomatoes, cut in half)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 very small, or half a large garlic clove, pressed or finely minced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat.
  2. Place corn directly on the grill and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the kernels begin to brown. Add remaining vegetables (except tomatoes) and grill until softened but not overcooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Roughly chop the veggies and scrape the corn off the cobs with a sharp knife (you’ll make a mess doing this, just be ready). and place in serving bowl. Add the diced tomatoes and toss.
  4. Make the dressing: Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar together in a small bowl until combined. Add the the basil, salt and garlic and whisk again. Pour the dressing over the veggie mixture and toss until coated. Serve at room temp or chilled. Makes about 3 cups.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Two is better than one

Some things are just better in pairs. Shoes, for example. You always want to wear two shoes. Who wants to walk around with one shoe? And then what would you do with that one really dirty foot?

There’s other things too. Let’s make a list! I love lists!

<cough, cough> Nerd Alert! <cough, cough>

Anyway, back to that list. Here we go.

Things that are Better in Twos:

  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Helpings of birthday cake
  • Hugs from adorable nieces and nephews
  • Consecutive days off work
  • Scoops of ice cream
  • Reruns of Seinfeld
  • Glasses of really good red wine
  • Hits of the snooze button
  • Favorite songs on the radio

Things that are NOT Better in Twos:

  • Sharp sticks to the eye
  • Kicks in the pants
  • Fillings at the dentist
  • Paper cuts
  • Hours in traffic
  • Trips to the DMV
  • Reruns of Friends (Sorry, all. I didn’t like that show when it was on and I don’t like it now. Lower the torches and pitchforks, Angry Mob, please and thank you, not everybody likes the same things. I hope we can still be blog buddies 😉 )

Yep. I think that about does it. That was some mighty fine list-making…what other lists can we make?

Let’s see…how about a list of possible lists. As if I couldn’t dork it up any more in here.

  • Bands I Hate and Always Will
  • Top 10 Ways to Make a Huge, Ridiculous Mess in the Kitchen Without Really Trying
  • TV Shows I’m Only Slightly Embarrassed to Admit I Watch But Not Really Because I Don’t Have Near the Amount of Shame I Should When it Comes to That Sort of Stuff
  • Bugs and other Creepy Things I’m Afraid Of
  • Childish Names my Husband and I Call Each Other
  • The Many True and Compelling Reasons Why My Sports Team is Better Than Your Sports Team Despite the Fact that My Sports Teams ALWAYS Lose.

Hold up! These other awesome lists are going to have to wait! I need to make an amendment to the first list. One other thing that’s better in twos:

Ways to use up delicious summer produce!

How could I forget that one? We gotta use this stuff up while we can. Hurry, I say! Hurry! Remember THIS? Yeah, that’s coming back. And soon. Summer’s sun-kissed bounty will be gone before you know it so doing up big in twos, threes, fours – that’s the only way to go.

Here in Iowa we’re just starting to see the few of the seasons best at the farmer’s markets and roadside stands: sweet corn (I’ve got big plans for sweet corn, so stay tuned for that) and tomatoes.

It took me until I was a bit older to enjoy tomatoes in their raw and natural form rather than just in ketchup form. 😉  Now that I do, I can’t get enough. Bruschetta is one of my favorite ways to stuff them in my face in copious amounts. 🙂 There’s just something about the combo of sweet, juicy tomatoes, garlic and basil, with that pungent kick of balsamic in the background that is one of my favorite things about summer. LOVE it.

Below, I present Bruschetta two ways – because Bruschetta, like so many other things, is just better that way. One is the classic. The one we’re all used to seeing – a fresh tomato mixture, piled high on crusty toasts of french baguette. The other takes all the bruschetta flavors, adds homemade sourdough croutons and leafy romaine lettuce and calls itself a salad. That’s right. It went there.

First, let’s look at the classic. Because some things are so simple they just don’t need to be messed with.

On a recent trip to my hometown, my mom had this Double Tomato Bruschetta recipe picked out and asked if I wanted to help her make it. Um, YES! Before we got to the chopping and dicing, we had to first completely change the recipe. Ha. We nixed the sun-dried tomatoes, decreased the amount of garlic (because there is such a thing as too much garlic) and ditched the top with cheese and bake step. It came out GREAT! My mom really loved the taste of the fresh basil, having not cooked with it much in the past. This particular recipe didn’t call for any onion at all, but feel free to add some if you like it that way.

Now, I think classic bruschetta is best enjoyed outside, around a patio table under the shade of an umbrella with something like this sweating in your hand:

It’s kind of small group food. When you’ve got your four best girls around the table with you drinking sangria and talking about everything and nothing at the same time, this bruschetta fits right in. But if you’re partying on a bigger scale, this recipe may be a bit impractical. Logistics wise, that is….

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA (Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 french baguette

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. In a large bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes. (The longer it sits the better it tastes, so make ahead if you can!)
  3. Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Bake 7 to 9 minutes, until slightly browned and toasted.
  4. Spoon tomato mixture on baguette slices and serve. Makes 12 servings.

****

So instead of an intimate gathering of girlfriends, let’s say you’re having a great big blow out BBQ type party with 30 of your besties and at least one pony keg. The kind of party where people eat for hours on end, filling their plates to dangerous, teetering levels as they make their way across your white living room carpet to the patio door to sit outside. The kind of party where people are so happy to be there and eating, they don’t even care THEY ARE ABOUT TO PUT POTATO SALAD AND LIME JELLO IN THEIR MOUTH IN THE SAME BITE! If that’s the case, you need something that’s a bit easier to serve.

With this bruschtta salad you can get everything together ahead of time (in fact, I recommend making the dressing the day before, I just find homemade dressing taste better when they’ve had a chance to mellow in the fridge for a while) and then just toss it together with a drink in one hand while your friends are pulling up in the driveway. The bread soaks up the dressing just enough to be amazing but not enough to be soggy. The fresh mozzarella adds a great creamy texture.  It really does mimic the taste of classic bruschetta.

It’s so easy, it’s so delicious and you can set it, forget it and actually spend time with your guests as they compliment your awesome spread. 😉

BRUSCHETTA SALAD (Recipe Source: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen)

My tomatoes kind of sank to the bottom after tossing. 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups cubed sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 1 cup diced fresh mozzarella (4 ounces; half inch dice)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until just crisp on the outside – about 6 minutes. Remove from pan onto a wire rack to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, make the the dressing. Whisk together oil, vinegars, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Put lettuce, basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and bread in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately. Makes 6 main dish or 12 side dish servings.

ENJOY! 🙂

****

And, finally, one last list. If you’re still here and reading…HI! Thanks for playing. 🙂

The lovely and talented Branny at Branny Boils Over tagged me with a bit of a getting to know you challenge. It just happens to contain lists. What luck! My answers appear below. Thanks for the shout out Branny! 🙂

1) What was on your To-Do list today:

  • Sweep the bathroom. Make the sheer amount of hair I pick up into a wig. 😉
  • Wash some clothes.
  • Clean out the fridge. Free to a good home: a container with….something inside. It used to resemble food.
  • Eat a cupcake. That one was so easy I may do it twice.

2) 5 Snacks you enjoy:
I actually don’t do much snacking let’s see what I can come up with:

  • Apples. I eat an apple every day.
  • Yogurt
  • Caramel corn. I can’t keep it around or else I will eat it until I get sick!
  • Hummus
  • Chips and salsa

3) 5 Places you have lived:

  • A happy home on a great block in suburban chicago
  • A couple of assorted dorm rooms at the U of IL
  • “The Players Club” that’s what we called our college apartment.
  • An apartment with my then boyfriend (gasp!), now husband
  • Our current lovely home. 🙂

4) What were you doing 5 years ago:

  • 5 years ago was my first full year out of college. I went crazy and followed my boyfriend to Iowa. I sold clothes in the Junior’s department in a department store. Thanks, college education! The boyfriend proposed! And we bought our home. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since all that. Wow!

5) 5 things you would do if you were a Billionaire:

  • I’d start a writing group for girls. I’m not sure how, what kind or the logistics of the whole deal but I want to help girls discover and cultivate their talents.
  • Travel, of course. Maybe I’ll even leave the Midwest! How ’bout them apples!
  • I want to have my own bakery. But I don’t want to do any of the hard stuff like working 14 hours a day 6 days a week. I bet if I were a billionaire I could hook that up. 😉
  • I’d help my family and friends realize their dreams too, whatever they may be!
  • Save a whole bunch. I can’t help it. It’s what I do.

Passing on this little challenge to a few other awesome bloggers I adore:

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Make new friends, but keep the old…

I made a couple new friends this weekend. We met on Saturday morning at the grocery store. I knew I was going to bump into these two there at the store, the list in my hand told me so, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the guts to look at them. I was fully prepared to pull the old Oh, There’s Someone I Don’t Want to Talk To so I’m Going to Pretend to Concentrate Really Hard on This Display of Flour trick when I approached them in the aisles.

I was nervous. See, I haven’t exactly been warm toward these two in the past. One of these guys, I have just come right out and said I didn’t like them. Out loud. In a snotty way. In front of others. The other, I just flat out ignored.

Who did I make amends with this weekend? Who did I bond with over a cart with a wobbly wheel? Who did I invite into my home for a lovely summer meal? I think you’ll be surprised!

My first new friend? Cilantro. Yes. I know. I know! I can’t believe it either. My arch nemesis. Cilantro and I are friends now after this weekend! Squee!

My second new friend? Anchovies. It had never occurred to me to buy them before and they’d basically gone unnoticed until now. They’re a little…stand-offish, don’t you think? All packed down in that little can, lifeless and oily. Not exactly friendly if you ask me. But, I think they’re just shy. Because these guys brought a whole bunch of life to the dinner party last night.

I brought my two new friends home, we talked through our differences, and I combined them into something really special and really delicious.

Crunchy romaine hearts, colorful bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, and spicy baked tortilla strips, all tossed with an herb-kissed Caesar dressing and topped with juicy strips of perfectly grilled sirloin. Also known as: Texas Caesar Salad.

So good. This was the perfect light meal for a hot summer night. Eric, being the meat and potatoes kind of man he is, isn’t really big on the idea of a salad as dinner. Not manly enough. Or something.

That’s why I added steak. Ha. That certainly gets his attention. We both enjoyed this on such a hot July night. The dressing had a great punch of flavor and brightness from the cilantro. Since there are so many strong flavors going on, I didn’t find the cilantro overpowering at all, which was a very pleasant surprise!

Add an ice cold beer (or your favorite wine), some nice crusty bread and you’ve got a delicious dinner. Invite some new friends. May I suggest cilantro and anchovies? 😉

TEXAS CAESAR SALAD WITH GRILLED SIRLOIN (Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit, July 1999 via Epicurious.com)

INGREDIENTS:

For the dressing:

  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

For the salad:

  • 8 cups bite-size pieces romaine lettuce (from 2 heads)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (I subbed an orange bell pepper)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 ears fresh sweet corn, grilled until tender and slightly charred, then cut from the cob
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • Baked chili-lime tortilla strips (Recipe follows)
  • 1 lb. sirloin strip steak, grilled until desired doneness and sliced into thin strips
  • Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Purée first 9 ingredients in processor until smooth. Gradually add olive oil and process until blended. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  2. Combine romaine, bell pepper, scallions, corn, tomatoes and half the tortilla strips in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide among 4 serving dishes, top with steak, and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and the rest of tortilla strips.

BAKED CHILI-LIME TORTILLA STRIPS (Recipe source: Me!)

  • 2 medium flour tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Zest of one small lime
  • Kosher salt and pepper taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into long, thin strips. Toss with olive oil and other ingredients. Spread in an even layer on a foil-covered baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown and crunchy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool before using.

ENJOY! 🙂

Two Years Ago: Candy Kiss Cupcake Bites

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Reason #52,006 why I love FOOD! :)

I am right-brained person by nature. I like feelings and emotions, colors and shapes, words and music and pretty pictures. I go with my gut, think with my heart, cry at the movies…or an especially touching Hallmark card commercial. Math, logic, reasoning and all that complicated stuff and I just don’t get along. Never have, never will.

My love of food and being in the kitchen totally compliments that part of my personality. I love standing in the store, picking up something that looks especially fresh and delicious that day and just imagining the possibilities. They are endless. It’s such a rush, it’s such a high…it totally fulfills that little part of me that is always longing to be creative. Even if it’s simple. Even if it’s obvious. And even if it’s a flop! It makes me so happy! And best of all, it makes others happy too! 🙂

After spending the last three weeks living out of a dorm-sized mini fridge in Eric’s basement Man Room, our new one finally came on Friday! YAY! Oh man…was I excited. Once it was in place, I gave it a hug. No really…I did. See? Ha ha!

I immediately ran out to the store and stocked up on the all the fresh food I’d been missing out on the last few weeks. I’ve found that I am much more likely to get my daily veggie intake if I make an effort to wash, cut and make something with my produce right away that I can munch on all week long. I almost always prefer the taste and crunch of fresh, raw veggies to any cooked veggie so I am always looking for a way to get my fix.

This simple pasta salad uses a bottled salad dressing. I know that a homemade vinaigrette would be much more impressive BUT….this is real life. And sometimes that just ain’t in the cards. I am not adverse to the semi-homemade way of life….let’s get real. Sometimes you just want to eat. Now. This is an easy and healthy way to curb your hunger. I love it because the whole wheat pasta and nuts keep me feeling full. A small serving of this at lunch time keeps me going until dinner.

ASIAN-INSPIRED MACARONI SALAD WITH CHOPPED CASHEWS (Recipe Source: Me)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 box of whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots (I used pre-shredded matchstick carrots)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper diced
  • 2 scallions diced (include the greens)
  • 1/3 of cup of roasted cashews, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger salad dressing (this is the best bottled salad dressing in the world, btw.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta to al dente, drain and rinse with cold water
  2. Combine veggies, pasta and nuts in a large bowl. Toss.
  3. Add salad dressing and toss again, coating all ingredients thoroughly. Chill 1 hour in fridge. Stir one more time before serving.

ENJOY! 🙂

 

 

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Sweet Home…

Whenever we go home to visit my mom and dad in the Chicago ‘burbs, I always have to make a stop at one of my absolute favorite places: PORTILLO’S!!! Yum! It’s classic Chicago food – hot dogs loaded with all the Chi-town favorites (no ketchup!!), Italian beef dripping with juice, Italian sausage piled with yummy grilled sweet peppers. It’s heaven on a bun, basically. Add a side of cheese fries and an ice cold root beer and I am one happy camper. Well worth the calories. Every.Single.One.

One of my favorites there is the Maxwell Street Polish. It’s polish sausage loaded with yellow mustard and grilled onions on a chewy Italian roll. Being that my trips to Portillosare few and far between these days (boo!), I was craving a little taste of home tonight. Here is my take on one of my hometown faves, with a couple twists. I saw a hamburger recipe in my Kraft magazine that called for caramelizing onions and mixing in a little A1 Steak Sauce. Sounded interesting to me, but I don’t love A1 and don’t keep it on hand. But I always have a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce on hand and thought it would go good with my sausage! So I mixed that in instead! I served the sandwich with a yummy pasta salad that’s below.

GRILLED POLISH SAUSAGE WITH BBQ GRILLED ONIONS (Recipe inspiration: Portillo’s!, with inspiration for the onions from this burger recipe from Kraft)

Ingredients:

Polish sausage or Kielbasa (I cheated and used the pre-packaged, bun length links that are basically hot dogs. I’m sure there is better quality sausages out there, but I was feeling lazy)

Hot dog buns (I used brat buns from the grocery store bakery)

Your favorite mustard (I used honey mustard, because that’s my fave!)

Half a medium onion, chopped.

1 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 to 1 1/2 tps. of BBQ sauce

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently until they are a deep golden brown. Stir in BBQ sauce.

Grill sausages until heated through. Add to buns, top with mustard, pile on those onions and stuff your face! YUM! 🙂

I wanted to bring in something a little different than the typical potato chips on the side, so I threw together a pasta salad. I have a huge problem with the typical mayo-laden pasta salad so this is my take.

BALSAMIC PASTA SALAD (Recipe Source: Me)

Ingredients:

1/2 box of your favorite pasta

1 head of romain lettuce, chopped

Grape tomatoes to taste

Roasted red peppers to taste, chopped (I used jarred, so I blotted off some of the moisture with a paper towel)

Fat-free balsamic salad dressing to taste (I used TJ’s brand, and used about half the bottle)

Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, add dressing and cheese, toss.

Refridgerate for about an hour to chill completely. Eat!

Enjoy! 🙂

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