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Summer Blues Pasta Salad
4-5 servings - 1 hour prep plus chilling.

1 1lb package Penne or Tube Pasta
2-3 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts or 8 thighs
1 large package frozen Japanese Stir-fry mix, placed in a colander to thaw.
1 large can Pitted Olives, black or Green.
1 cup slivered Almonds
1 large bottle Italian Dressing, hold aside all but 1 and 1/2 cup.

Open frozen Vegetables and place in colander. Bring pot of water to boil for pasta. Add Pasta and cook according to package directions for "Al'dante". Turn out into colander with veggies, and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile - cut Chicken into small strips. About 2" x 1/2". Steam chicken for 20-25 minutes in covered pot on stove, or cook in microwave, according to manufacturer's directions.

Shake mix in colander to expedite drying. Transfer the colander content and chicken to large covered bowl. Toss in Almonds and Olives. Mix in 1 and 1/2 cup Italian Dressing. Chill for at least 4 hours, overnight is even better! Serve with remaining dressing on side.
Time-Out Tacos
2-3 servings - 1/2 hour with prep

2-3 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts or 8 thighs
2 Tbls. Olive oil, or Non-stick spray for skillet
1 large sweet White Onion, thinly sliced
2 Green, Anaheim or Pasilla Chile - roasted, veined,seeded and roughly chopped
1 Green/Red Pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
Juice of one Lemon
1 clove Garlic, peeled and pressed or finely chopped
1 small pack of taco size, Flour or Corn Tortillas
1 recipe of Fresh Salsa,(recipe at my page), or jarred Salsa

Garnish: Grated Cheese, chopped lettuce or Napa cabbage, Olives and Sour Cream

To Roast Chilies, Three ways:

I suggest you do this in a ventilated room. Do not touch, your eyes, your nose, your lips or your loved ones - while working with chili peppers. Once the chilies are toasty, place in a paper bag and allow to cool, to handling temperature. Pull skin from chilies, or rinse off under running water to speed it up. Devein and destem with a sharp knife, and pull out seeds. (This will cut down on the heat factor.) You can add back seeds if recipe is too mild.

Slice Chilies into thin strips, (about 1/2" by 2-3"), and set aside.

Cut Chicken into small strips. About 2-3" x 1/2". Heat heavy skillet over medium high heat, add oil/spray. Cook Onions until starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add Green Pepper, if using, and cook 5 minutes more. Add Chicken strips and cook to brown and almost done, 3-5 minutes. (Onions will start to caramelize, so don't panic.) Add Garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add Lemon Juice and Chili strips to pan, and toss to heat. Turn off burner, and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile - Once you get the chicken in the skillet, wrap tortillas well in wax paper, and wet your fingers under tap. Shake the water from your fingertips onto the top of the tortillas. Place in Microwave for 3 minutes on high, for each 20 tortillas. Alternately, you can heat tortillas in oven for 5 minutes at 400 degrees, placed in foil.

Serve Chicken mixture in tortillas with Garnishes on the side, to add as you wish. Muy Bueno!

Curried Chicken and Shells Salad from Somerset Caterers

1 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1lb. small shell pasta
1.2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 green onions, sliced fine
1 rib celery, diced fine
1/2 cup prepared Chutney, mild to medium, chopped
1/4 tsp curry powder, hot
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice of one small lemon ( about 1-2T)

Steam chicken breast over simmering water. 20-25 minutes. Se aside to cool.

Cook pasta in boiling water, 8-9 minutes. Rinse with cold water and allow to drain while you finish recipe.

Cut chicken into cubes or small strips, no larger than 1 x 2". Combine chicken, pasta, raisins, almonds, celery and green onion in a large mixing bowl.

In seperate bowl: Combine chutney, curry powder, turmeric, lemon huice and mayonnaise. Mix well.

Gently stir dressing into pasta and chicken mixture. It should JUST bind all together.
Chill over night, or at least 3 hours.

Hints and tricks!
To chop chutney - put it into bowl for dressing first. Use two knives to break up large chunks, leave the rest as is.
To save time and dishwashing - steam the chicken in a pie pan floated, (Put a lid on the pan), in the boiling water for the pasta. Once cooked, remove pan and put in pasta.
To lower calories - either use 1/2 cup Miracle Whip and 1/2 cup Mayo. Or use 1/2 cup Mayo and 1/2 cup Reduced Fat Mayo.

Salsa Fresca
Makes about 2 cups , no more than 40 minutes to make

1 Medium white or yellow onion 2 Large ripe tomatoes, seeded
2-3 chilies (Jalapeno, Anaheim, Passilla) roasted, peeled and seeded
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup cilantro leaves or green onion, green tops only.
1/2 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
To seed tomatoes, cut into quarters and squeeze over garbage/disposal. Push out any clinging seeds with your finger tip.
Split chilies down center lenghtwise to seed and devein, as appropriate for heat desired.
Chop tomatoes, onions and chilies finely, no larger than 1/4" square.
Pull cilantro leaves from stems, and chop or tear into small pieces, or slice green onion tops thinly.
Add all to bowl, and toss to mix well. Add cumin and olive oil, and mix together.

Can be refrigerated up to 4 days, and used for other dishes.
Does not freeze well!

Fire Island Meatloaf
4-5 servings with left overs - 1 hour and 20 minutes w/ prep.

2 lbs. Ground Hamburger - the less fat the better
about 3 cups crushed snack chips or pretzels - even cracklings
Chopped, left over veggies from snack trays - Carrots, green onions, celery, tomato, etc.
OR 1 large Onion, chopped roughly, a stick or two of celery and 1 carrot
1 clove fresh or 1 Tbl. dried Garlic
Big Handful of Parley, fresh or dried
5 oz. liquid - Broth, vegetable juice, milk or beer
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 juice glass of water - hold aside for baking.

To easily crush chips - Put all in a heavy zip-lock bag, seal with a tiny air space left open and roll lightly with a wine/beer bottle, or wrap bag in towel and let the kids stomp it for a minute.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get out a 9x13" baker and line with foil for easy cleanup.

Crumble Hamburger into large bowl, (at least 2 quart.) Add all ingredients and mix by hand until well combined.

Make free form loaf in baking pan, try to get it even in height & width, but otherwise wing it. Add the juice glass of water to pan, so it's making a moat around the loaf.

Cover with foil for first 30 minutes, uncover for the last 1/2 hour, and it gets a great crusty topping. Bake for 1 hour, or until juices run clear.

About 5 dozen 2" cookies. y About 2 hours active work + 2-3 hours chilling dough

Mix together in mixer bowl or, large mixing bowl - by hand:
1 cup Shortening, (regular Crisco is the best)
1 1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
Sift together:
2 3/4 cup all purpose Flour
2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt

Chill dough, 2-3 hours.
Mix together, in pie plate or small soup bowl:
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees, and pull out cookie sheets.
Roll dough into small balls, about the size of small walnuts. If you use a small "disher"(about 1" size or #10?)from the kitchen wares store - you can get even size balls. Roll balls into Sugar and Cinnamon mixture.

Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes at 400 dgrees, until lightly browned but still soft.

Slow 'n' Easy Ribs (or Chicken)
Serves 4-6 F About 15 minutes active work time

1 bottle of pre-packaged Barbeque Sauce, (I really prefer Bull's eye)
1 small rack Beef or Pork ribs, 3-4 pounds Country Strips, or 3 pounds Cut-up Chicken
Slow Cooker , (Crock pot can be used, but a wider, seperate heating element makes a slow cooker more versatile. Look at better home stores for slow cookers)

Game Plan: Put meat in pot before leaving for work, let cook in non-cluttered area, on counter or stove top, until dinner time. When you are ready for dinner, prepare rice or baked potatoes, or purchase french fries on the way home from work. Round out meal with a salad and bread for sopping. The least amount of cooking time needed is 6 hours, so part time workers can still benefit from this method.

If meat is frozen, defrost in microwave on defrost setting, or thaw over night.Place meat or chicken in the slow cooker/crock pot in layers. No space is needed between pieces of meat, so pack it in.

Pour about 3/4 of the bottle of BBQ sauce into pot, over meat. Plug in pot. Close pot and set to 4, or High-Medium, setting.

It will need no stirring, heat adjustments or any other care, so just forget about about it while you continue your day. If it ends up setting more than 12 hours, it really won't matter, but turn it down to 1(low), and let it sit - covered -after 12 hours. Uncover, turn off the pot or unplug, and serve.

Chocolat Chaud
four 1 cup servings About 10 minutes total preparation

1/2 pound top quality semi-sweet chocolate, like Callebaut, or semisweet chips
4 cups whole milk

If using bar chocolate - finely chop before adding to double boiler.
Place chocolate in the top of double boiler, or in a larger metal/glass bowl, set over a pan of hot water.
Be sure the water does not touch the bottom of top boiler or bowl.Bring water to a slow boil. Alternatly, you can cook this is a very heavy saucepan over low flame.

Add 2 cups of milk and stir with a small whisk or fork until chocolate is completely melted.

Raise heat to medium for saucepan, High for the double boiler, and add the rest of the milk. Bring your brew to a slow simmer. Do not allow it to boil at any time.

Serve plain in mugs or latte cups. If you prefer, a dust of cinnamon or a dollop of whipped cream is gilding this lily.