Fresh Green Beans

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Fresh green beans are a summer staple in my house. They are quick and easy to make plus they are a lovely side dish to so many meals, especially a nice steak dinner. The great thing about green beans is that are very versatile so you can easily adjust the seasonings to suit your taste. You can swap out the garlic for shallots or even add both! You can replace the olive oil with butter or better yet, brown the butter first for an even nuttier, more complex flavor. Add in slivered toasted almonds or crumble up some crisp bacon into the beans. You can even try experimenting with different spices as well for a unique and flavorful spin. However you choose to prepare them they will be a delicious and healthy accompaniment to almost any meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of fresh green beans, ends removed
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced OR a spoonful of roasted garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Instructions

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and stir often. Sauté until they are glossy and bright green, about 6-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, salt and black pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir continuously while cooking.

Pour the water into the pan and cover. Cook another 2-3 minutes until the beans are bright green and “crisp tender”.

Remove the beans from the heat, add in the red pepper and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Best Ever Steak Marinade

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Making your own steak marinade is very easy, super flavorful and SO much better than anything you can buy in a packet at the supermarket. Store-bought marinades are always loaded with ingredients you cannot pronounce as well as a ton of sugar and salt. Try this delicious marinade the next time you grill up a steak and I promise you will never go back to the store-bought version again. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp mustard (Dijon, yellow or deli style)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Pour over meat and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Grill meat as desired.

**Tip – Baste the meat with the marinade as it grills. Do not serve any of the leftover marinade as it is contaminated with the juices from the raw meat.**

Summer Tortellini Salad

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I love a really good tortellini salad. Not only are they flavorful and delicious but they are so easy to make as well. There is an Italian deli by me that makes a great tortellini salad but at $7/lb it’s a little pricey for my taste. Instead, I make my own which is just as yummy and way more wallet friendly. Plus, it feeds a crowd!

This is one of those recipes where you just need to eyeball everything and adjust to your liking. You really do not need to measure AT ALL which is why this recipe is a cinch to make. Plus, you can add in or take out anything you wish. Don’t love olives? Drop them! Like a lot of onion? Add more in! Prefer a drier salad? Use less oil! There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this tortellini salad, just go with your gut and play around with the flavors until you’re happy with how it tastes.

I really love this salad as a side dish to my BBQ meals in the summer but it also makes an awesome light lunch as well. You can even throw in a little grilled chicken and fresh mozzarella and now you have an easy summer dinner or picnic lunch. You can serve it cold or at room temperature however, I prefer it somewhere in between. When the salad is too cold, you lose some of the flavor. Allowing it to sit at room temperature for just a bit before serving really allows all of the flavors to pop. Keep a little extra oil on hand as it tends to dry up just a bit in the fridge, add some oil and toss just before serving. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs cheese tortellini, cooked al dente and cooled
  • 1 can of large black olives, sliced thick
  • 1/2 lb Sicilian cracked olives, pits removed and roughly torn
  • Oil from the Sicilian cracked olives
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced
  • Handful of fresh torn parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, add the cheese tortellini, black olives, Sicilian olives, red onion, red pepper and torn parsley. Drizzle the reserved oil from the Sicilian olives all over the salad. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and a healthy amount of ground black pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Adjust seasonings as needed and allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to serving so that the flavors can come together. Serve cold or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.

**Tip – If you do not like Sicilian cracked olives, use plain extra virgin olive oil on the salad. Alternatively, you can also toss the salad with a homemade or store-bought vinaigrette or Italian dressing.**

 

Happy 4th of July!!

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HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

I hope that all who celebrate have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the long weekend with family and friends! I will be taking a break to spend some time with my own family but I will be returning to The Simply Delicious Kitchen on Monday, July 9th with all new tips, tricks, information and recipes. As always, thank you all for your continued support! xoxo

Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread

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Buttery, tender cornbread is a delicious accompaniment to many dishes, especially BBQ, so when my daughter asked me to make her Crock-Pot Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce I decided to whip up a batch of cornbread as well. She was in heaven!

What I liked about this recipe from Serious Eats was the addition of brown butter which I think makes food so much more flavorful. Brown butter, also know as a beurre noisette, imparts a delicious nutty and complex flavor that elevates any dish, sweet or savory. Pay close attention when you brown butter, especially in a hot oven, because it can quickly go from nice and brown to burnt and inedible.

One last note, when I made the cornbread I did not have any sour cream in the house so I substituted with yogurt which is the closest in taste and tang to sour cream. Also, if you do not have any buttermilk on hand you can easily make your own with milk and a little lemon juice. Just add 1 tbs of lemon juice to 1 cup of milk, stir and let it sit and thicken for about 5-10 minutes. Use it just like you would a store-bought buttermilk. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 7 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 425°F. Place butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Transfer skillet to oven and heat until the butter is melted and well browned, 10- 12 minutes. Once browned, pour butter into a heatproof cup or bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon remaining in the skillet.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine eggs, sour cream, and buttermilk in a second bowl and whisk until well combines and smooth. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the reserved brown butter. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well combined.

Remove skillet from the oven and swirl to coat all surfaces with melted butter. Spoon batter into skillet, smooth top lightly and then transfer to oven. Bake until lightly golden brown on top and a wooden skewer inserted into cornbread comes out with no crumbs, about 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in skillet. Serve with extra butter at the table.

**Tip – Leftover cornbread can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.**

“Peachy Pie” Smoothie Monster Pops

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With summer in full swing you will no doubt have sweaty, hot kids begging you for a cool treat. Instead of the same old store-bought, sugar laden ice pops why not give them a healthier but equally as yummy treat. Whip them up a batch of Smoothie “Monster” Pops and you’ll feel good about giving them a treat that is healthier for them.

If your kids don’t like peaches, no problem! Just change up the fruit and make a flavor combination that they will love. Try pineapple with a little shredded coconut and a splash of coconut extract for a yummy virgin Piña Colada! Lemon Strawberry and Banana Berry are other really nice combinations to try. Creating your own smoothie flavor is easy, just keep the base ingredients of yogurt and milk the same and then throw in whatever fruit and spices you desire. Enjoy and stay cool!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peaches, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored lowfat yogurt

Instructions

Pour the milk into the blender along with the yogurt, vanilla extract and spices. Add the frozen peaches last. Blend until smooth. Pour into prepared ice pop molds and freeze until hardened.

**Tip – I use a little bit of Truvia® (stevia) to sweeten my smoothies. You can use granulated sugar, agave, honey or not use anything at all.**

“Peachy Pie” Smoothie

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Who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing, fruity smoothie? They make a great quick breakfast or treat for any time of day! With summer underway fresh peaches will be at their peak in July and August so why not grab a bushel and make yourself some yummy smoothies to start off your day?

I like to double or triple this recipe when I make it so that I have leftovers. You can freeze the remaining smoothie mixture in a resealable bag and the next time you are in the mood for a smoothie, you’ll just need to add some of the frozen smoothie mix to your blender along with a little extra milk and blend. Easy peasy! I also like to use the leftover smoothie mixture to make Smoothie “Monster” Pops for my kids. It’s a healthier alternative to store-bought frozen pops and they love the creamy texture. I love that I can sneak in all kinds of healthy fruits without them even knowing.

This recipe is really nice because you can play around with the fruit combinations and spices to achieve whatever flavor profile you’re looking for. Another favorite smoothie concoction that I love is pineapple with a little shredded coconut and a splash of coconut extract. It tastes like a delicious virgin Piña Colada! Lemon Strawberry and Banana Berry are other really nice combinations to try. Creating your own smoothie flavor is easy, just keep the base ingredients of yogurt and milk the same and then throw in whatever fruit and spices you desire. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peaches, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored lowfat yogurt

Instructions

Pour the milk into the blender along with the yogurt, vanilla extract and spices. Add the frozen peaches last. Blend until smooth. Serve cold.

**Tip – I use a little bit of Truvia® (stevia) to sweeten my smoothies. You can use granulated sugar, agave, honey or not use anything at all.**

Kitchen Must Have – Electric Skillet

In the kitchen, one of my “go-to” small appliances is my Presto® Electric Skillet. It’s a really useful appliance that makes frying and cooking up food so much easier. The best part? It comes with a really affordable price tag too! You can grab the same one I own for around $40 on Amazon using this link: Presto 06852 16-Inch Electric Skillet with Glass Cover


I use my electric skillet most often for frying meatballs and chicken cutlets. Because of its large size, it can hold a full two pounds of meatballs all at once as well or a slew of chicken cutlets. The glass cover allows you to see your food cooking while keeping all of the grease splatter in which is a real saving grace at cleanup time. No more scrubbing the stovetop, backsplash, range hood, etc. after frying. It also has a nice, slick Teflon® coating so food slides out easily and cleanup is a breeze because nothing sticks to it. Even the burnt bits come right out with ease. Another great feature of electric skillets is that they are able hold a nice steady temperature as they cook so food cooks and browns evenly.

Electric skillets are really great when it comes to cooking for a crowd as well! Whip up a big batch of scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage and peppers, ground beef for tacos or even the meat for a Philly cheesesteak! The skillet can also be used to make pancakes, frying homemade doughnuts, burgers, sloppy joes, lo mein and even stir-frys! The possibilities are truly endless because you can use the electric skillet to make almost anything you’d make in a traditional pan on the stovetop.

Electric skillets come in all sizes as well from a small square to a large rectangle. I prefer the larger size as it gives me more flexibility when I am cooking. Some of you might be wondering why you’d need an electric skillet if you already have an electric griddle and to that I say, while a griddle is great to have its lack of high sides limits its functionality. If I had to pick only once of these appliances to own, without hesitation, I would choose the skillet. I find it far more useful in the kitchen than my griddle pan.

If you decide to dust off your electric skillet or run out and buy yourself a new one, give some of these delicious recipes a whirl. You won’t be disappointed!

“Saucy” Italian Sausage and Peppers

Italian Meatballs

Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwich

Steve’s “Special Pancakes”

American Potato Salad

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I am SUPER PICKY about store-bought potato salads because they tend to be overly drenched in mayonnaise, too mushy or just completely flavorless. This recipe is hands down the BEST mayo based potato salad I’ve ever had and so easy to make that I’ll never buy store-bought again. EVER.

As with a few other recipes on my site, this one also comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition: Every Recipe and Every Review From All Ten Seasons. If you have to add one cookbook to your collection let this be the one. I’ve made so many recipes from it and ALL of them have been “spot on“. For those who are a little hesitant in the kitchen, if offers really great tips, information and very clear step-by-step instructions. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with this purchase.

This recipe calls for the use of Yukon Gold potatoes which are my absolute favorite potato, especially for mashed potatoes. They are a rich golden color with a buttery delicious flavor that is hands down superior to other varieties. While you can substitute in another potato such as a Red Bliss, I highly recommend sticking with the Yukon Gold, they are a standout.

Instead of using dill pickles, as suggested in the recipe, I went for Kosher Dills because I love the flavorful garlic kick they offer. You can opt to use any pickle you wish, for a sweeter flavor try baby gherkins. Using the pickle juice in this recipe gives the potatoes a nice tangy and lightly sweet taste as opposed to the harsh flavor of plain vinegar. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 large hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 3 tbs dill pickle juice plus 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced

Instructions

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, add 1 tsp Kosher salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. A sharp knife should easily pierce through the potato without causing it to crumble to pieces.

Drain the potatoes thoroughly then spread them out on a small rimmed baking sheet. Mix 2 tbs of pickle juice and mustard together in a small bowl. Drizzle the pickle juice mixture over the potatoes, gently toss to coat and refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.

Mix the remaining 1 tbs of pickle juice, chopped pickles, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, black pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, sour cream, red onion and celery in a large bowl. Toss in the cooled potatoes, cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Gently stir in the chopped eggs just before serving.

**Tip – The potato salad can be kept for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Also, if serving outside on a warm day place the salad bowl over ice to keep it cool and refrigerate soon after serving as the mayo and sour cream can spoil quickly in the heat.**

Edible Pudding “Slime/Dough/Oobleck”

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My kids are obsessed with slime and dough so when I came across this “Edible Pudding Slime” recipe from The Soccer Mom Blog I though we’d give it a try. It is very easy to make as it’s just cornstarch, instant pudding mix and warm water. Three simple ingredients.

The kids really enjoyed making it and I have to say, using pudding mix made the slime/dough/oobleck smell delish! My daughter decided that if vanilla would work she would try chocolate as well and although it wasn’t as visually appealing as the vanilla dough it certainly had a nice rich scent.

As with any recipe made with cornstarch it’s very easy to use too much which results in a drier, tougher dough. My son made the vanilla dough and at first it was very sticky so we added a bit more cornstarch. I thought we had the right consistency but fairly quickly his dough went from pliable to crumbly. So we added a little more water to his batch and then it took on the consistency of an “oobleck“, it would run through your fingers like a liquid but it would hold together like a dough. With my daughter’s chocolate version we got it “just right” and even the next day it still had a nice, soft, pliable texture.

The key to getting this recipe to work as a dough is in using the right ratio of cornstarch to water. I started by following the recipe exactly as written and then I added a little more of each as needed until it came together the way we wanted. Don’t be afraid to play around with this recipe until you obtain the consistency (and scent!!) that you are looking for. Make it into a slime, a dough or some oobleck. The choice is yours! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup instant pudding mix (any flavor)
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup warm water, more as needed

Instructions

In a bowl, add the pudding mix and half of the cornstarch. Stir in the water until slime begins to form.

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Slowly add in the remaining cornstarch and any additional water, as needed. Begin to knead together until the dough comes together.

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Turn the dough out of the bowl and have fun! When finished playing, store the dough in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container.

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**Please Note – While this recipe is considered “edible” I would not recommend kids actually eat any of it. It is not harmful but it won’t taste good due to all of the cornstarch. Plus, it’s unsanitary to eat a dough that you’ve been playing with.**