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Boston Baked Beans

I am going to assume we are going to be getting into BBQ season around here; Once it stops raining that is and gets out of the 50’s – Sorry SF another weather update here. He told me I’ve had a lot of weather talk lately. It’s been bizarre so i’m just sharing wink wink! Currently I am sitting out on the porch with my laptop, a glass of wine, Pandora playing and enjoying the end of the day first nice day in a long time and writing my blog for this weekend as we are going to be away.
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Since I have been sharing all of my favorites with all of you, I find it easier to google myself for my recipes than to go through my ridiculous pile of paper recipes. Pretty sad huh? or is it pretty cool? I know typing in cookingatclarktowers and what I am looking for is a lot faster. On Sunday I googled me (that cracks me up) looking for my Boston baked bean recipe. Nothing came up and I thought that was impossible that I haven’t shared it yet. I could swear that I did and I even had a part of what I thought I said in the blog. I will confess that I might be in there and I have labeled the title something else and wordpress (or just me) can’t locate it? I have been trying to get better at this blogging world but I still have a LOT to learn.
IMG_5199Back to the BBQ comment Baked Beans at a BBQ is a must for me I love baked beans ; I know this is a bit controversial; well that’s a strong word but I have a few friends that hate them. My BFF KP has proclaimed that she ONLY likes mine so that is saying something; I think. See this is one of the comments I swear I wrote but whatever I am going to share it now OR again since I made them on Sunday and they were delicious and worth trying.  I will also admit while they are delish and relatively easy, the baking in the oven takes a long time. This is something you have to plan ahead of time. I know there are a ton of shortcuts to delicious beans but I promise these are worth the effort and again very easy just hands off time consuming.
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1 package of navy pea beans – soak overnight
1 lb salt pork – rind cut off, pork diced / I had a ham bone leftover from Easter in the freezer
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 large or 2 medium vidalia onions – sliced
⅓ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
2 teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
IMG_5210In a large bowl soak the beans overnight covered in water
Strain and add beans, fresh water, the salt pork and the baking soda to either the stock pot you are going to bake them in or another pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes.  Skim off some of the foam.
IMG_5198Strain keeping the liquid in a medium sized bowl and then add the molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, dry mustard and the salt and pepper stir to combine.
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In a bean pot or dutch oven (which I used) layer onions, salt pork and beans.  Do this a couple of times.

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Cover with the liquid. Place in a 300’F oven for 5 hours. Don’t cringe I’m sure you can do many other things around the house while they are baking.

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Worth the wait!!!

Thank you to a pretty old Betty Crocker recipe!

 

Easy Potato Salad

I have a confession to make; this week there was not a lot of cooking or baking go on in my house; at least by me. I have been writing my weekly food blog for 3+ years now and my “norm” is to make something, take pictures of it and if it comes out good I will share it with all of you. If it isn’t blog worthy I either make something else, pull out something else I might have made and not shared yet or will try to share an oldie but a goody from a couple of years ago. I am sharing my easy Potato Salad – but these are actual photos from this morning! I wanted some today!
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To clarify my comment above about no cooking by me my daughter spent her entire Monday making up lunches, snacks and a dinner. The rest of the meals were quick throw together meals and I would think most of you already have your own that you can quickly put together.
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We are currently have a long weekend as it being Memorial Day – I do want to give shout out to all of the Veterans out there Thank You for your service!
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There are going to be a lot of cookouts around here this weekend; probably not on Monday as they usually are because we are going to have another rain out of a day. We are close to having one of the wettest months of May on record Yeah us! We did get the gardens in though; so that is yeah us!
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My go to Potato Salad

red new potatoes
eggs
mayo
celery
Kens Zesty Italian
scallions

Dice the potatoes into the medium/small even pieces. Boil for about 10-15 minutes; depends on the size of the potato.

put your eggs in your pot and cover with water. bring to a boil, cover and turn off the heat, let sit for 13 minutes.  Move to a cold water bath to stop the cooking process. and Peel once you can handle them.

This is what works best for me. I always make more and once peeled the pretty ones I turn into deviled eggs, the other ones I make into egg salad.

Drain your potatoes and rinse a little in cold water just so you can handle them a little. Place the warm potatoes into a plastic bag and add just enough Italian dressing so that they all get a little taste of it. I used around 2-3 tablespoons. Place in the fridge to cool completely.
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once cooled add to a bowl big enough to mix and then you can put the salad in a nice bowl or a travel bowl. add the sliced egg, chopped celery and top with the chopped scallions.
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Fried Brussel Sprouts & Piperade sauce

I wanted to give you all an update on my quest to like brussel sprouts! OK so that might not be the most exciting statement of the year, week or even day but I did come across another way that my husband will eat them.  My daughter and I actually do like them and would probably add them to my grocery shopping list a little more often if the faces and comments I get from my husband were a little less ummmm painful to see/hear.
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The other day my husband was at the grocery store with me; I’m not a fan of him going to the store with me; don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t end up spending me more money than I was thinking of spending. He’s like a little kid ooohh that looks yummy; and puts it in the cart. So I was grabbing the things that were on my list and yes there were brussel sprouts on it; he made a comment and a face and said several times that we really didn’t need them; such a child!
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My daughter had tried some fried brussel sprouts with a some red pepper sauce that she absolutely loved. Trying to recreate something we’ve had at a restaurant is kind of our thing. Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much. After making the sauce my first comment was; “where has this been all my life?” We all know the true test would be my husband. All I can say is my daughter and I both witnessed him finishing his plate AND reaching into the sprout bowl and grabbing a large one with his fingers and eating it.  YUP I win!!!!
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Piperade Sauce – definition below

Ingredients
3 plum tomatoes or use whatever you have on hand
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 red or green bell peppers (we used red because that is how Abbi had it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot Paprika or Espelette

Brussel Sprouts
Oil for frying
Balsamic vinegar
salt

Directions
using a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat, add the oil until hot but before it starts to smoke. add onions, peppers and the salt. saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and pepper start to lighten in spots; about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.
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Add the tomatoes and the paprika, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook till the tomatoes are starting to breakdown and the peppers are soft; about 15  minutes.
removing the cover and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, you want to let it thicken a bit. It should be the consistency of a slightly runny relish.  Adjust the salt and enjoy!
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Brussel Sprouts
prepare your sprouts by trimming off the outer, dry leaves, cut the bottom off and slice lengthwise. Fry them in batches in about and inch or so of oil. Drain, salt and place them in a bowl with the piperade sauce, drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, stir and serve.
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Not my favorite picture to share but it tasted delicious!

wikipedia definition of Piperade
Piperade
(Gascon and French) or Piperrada (Basque and Spanish), from piper (pepper in Gascon and in Basque) is a typical Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes sautéd and flavoured with red Espelette pepper.

 

 

Crispy Risotto Cakes

I am SO excited to have another trick up my sleeve for leftover risotto. I only have leftovers because I double or so the batch every time I make it 🙂  My daughter works at my favorite local restaurant and she has a tendency to text me when she knows that her dad and I would love their special for the night. This is both awesome and terrible. Awesome because we have an amazing dinner, terrible because it gets mighty costly since they make such amazing food we can’t seem to resist.
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One such dish is dayboat scallops over a crispy risotto cake with some greens and a light sauce. Let me just say that seared scallops are just plain heavenly; all they need is a little salt and pepper and I am one happy camper. Throw in a crispy risotto cake and ahhhhhhhh!
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I am in the habit of making a double batch of risotto. While it is not difficult to make it is a little time consuming as you can’t or at least shouldn’t leave the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong you can still multitask but it’s best to hang around the stove so you can be sure to add more liquid to the rice before it dries out completely.
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I have shared with all of you how I make Arancini see link for the post/recipe https://cookingatclarktowers.com/2016/03/20/arancini/

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I started out using the wrong pan

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had to switch to a nonsitck

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I made a mess of the first pan!

The guys at the restaurant shared with Abbi how they make the crispy risotto cake. She came home and declared we can totally make them; So we did!

Directions:
Spread out the risotto on a nonstick sprayed rimmed sheet pan, using a cookie cutter that I would also spray with nonstick spray.  Cut out your rounds, on tray that will fit into your freezer, cover it with wax paper and freeze your rounds for an hour or so.  Transfer to a freezer bag for use anytime you want to make them. Great for a quick side during the week.

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It is a messy job but my rice was super wet, I might dry it out a little more next time.


Thyme and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

I saw someone roasting a whole head of cauliflower on TV that looked SO good I wanted to try it. The other day I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge so I started looking for some ways to have this for dinner alongside a couple of Ribeye steaks I was making. Well lets just say baking a whole head of cauliflower takes far too long for my weeknight meal; especially since I was starting around 6:30ish. Unless I boiled it first it was going to be well over an hour in the oven. Since I had roasted cauliflower on brain I sliced it into large chunks added some sliced onion and a little garlic and some thyme roasted them in the oven for about 40 minutes.

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It also worked out quite nicely that the oven was well pre-heated for finishing off my steaks in the oven once seared in my cast iron skillet. Dinner was awesome and we had the leftovers for lunch the next day score!!!

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If you have never roasted a vegetable; I can’t stress enough how it will change your life; OK no it’s not that revolutionary but it may make some youngsters; even some adults change their minds over eating their veggies. It makes carrots, beets, butternut squash and onions sweeter. It gives asparagus and broccoli a slightly charred taste. Potatoes have a wonderful crunch and it’s the only way I like brussel sprouts. A little olive oil, salt and pepper and you’re good to go; add an herb and you won’t be disappointed.
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1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium onion sliced
1 tsp dried thyme or 4 fresh sprigs
3-4 gloves of garlic kept whole
2-3 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Toss the first four ingredients either on the sheet pan or if you prefer in a bowl. once on the sheet pan sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-40 minutes. sprinkle with cheese toss and roast for another 10-15 minutes longer. 

Overgrown Summer Squash=Delish

This is the first time I can recall picking an enormous summer squash; zucchini I swear grows twice its size overnight and it’s not always my fault, summer squash I believe grows a little slower. I also get how I can miss a green zucchini but a bright yellow squash usually doesn’t get by me. I have never baked a bread or cake with a summer squash and the thought of all those large seeds just isnt appealing at all. I really don’t like throwing out; well anything so I went online to see how others dealt with their overgrown summer squash, I know I am not the only one that misses veggies in the garden.

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My son isn’t a fan of of summer squash in any way it is served but he said and I quote “it’s not too bad” which when I asked him to elaborate; he said he doesn’t like squash at all but this way “he didn’t mind it” I’ll take it. I have made this a couple of times this year; which is also an admittance that I missed more than one summer squash in the last couple of weeks; guilty!

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The first time I made this it was just me and my husband and his first question was did you remove the seeds? no I did not and we were both pleasantly surprised that you really don’t need to. It is also a very quick and simple way to make a side dish with ingredients you should have in your pantry and fridge. And it looks kind of cool too and tastes delicious.

1-2 Tbs Butter
Olive Oil
1 Onion 4-5 thin slices
Kosher Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Parsley
3-4 tsp shredded Parmesan cheese

Slice 4-5 elongated slices
Place small slices of butter all over the squash
Drizzle with a little olive oil
Cover with onions
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic and parsley
Cover with shredded parmesan and bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes at 375°F

Parmesan-Garlic Hasselback Zucchini

My garden has been pretty good to me this year with plenty of cucumbers, summer squash and zucchini. I really don’t want to talk about my non-existent eggplant or beefsteak tomatoes. Thankfully my cherry and roma tomato plants are picking up a little of the slack; and it also helps my husband has found a way to add tomato to his sandwich that he thinks works out pretty slick; he takes a bite of sandwich and pops a cherry tomato in his mouth and he likes that his sandwich stays dry. I say win win!

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Now how to get a win with someone who doesn’t like zucchini; which I can actually relate to; when I was growing up; besides my aversion to everything green; the only way I had zucchini and summer squash was steamed or boiled to death. I was reminded of this when I was talking with my dad last week about how I prepare versus how he prepares squash. I like mine on the al dente side and he likes his well on the mush side. No thank you!

IMG_4452Before this I had only made hasselback potatoes, never even thought about another vegetable before but why not?

IMG_4453Parmesan-Garlic Hasselback Zucchini

1 Tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano or ½ tsp dried
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
4 small or 2 medium zucchini
⅓ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

IMG_4454Preheat grill or oven
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl
Make crosswise cuts every ½ inch along each zucchini. Make sure to slice almost to the bottom of the squash but not all the way through. I use a round handle of a wooden spoon to help me get the same size cuts. Gently fan the squash to make them a little wider.
Place a shaved piece of Parmesan in each of the cuts and then brush the oil mixture over the top.
Place the squash on a double layer of foil and grill (without turning) until browned and tender about 15 minutes.

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Adapted from Eating Well Magazine

Summer Garden Salad

Well it is about time we are going to be getting some much needed rain here today in New England. Thankfully we have a well instead of being on town water so we; well actually my husband who I rename every summer to water boy; has tried very hard to keep our gardens and lawn looking a little less brown than others I see around town. But it will be nice to give our well and pump a little break today and yes my husband gets a little break from playing “where to place the sprinkler now”

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This is the first weekend so far this summer where I haven’t left the house yet, I will probably venture out a little later today just to pick up a few things for this week’s staple items for meals.  Or maybe I can get my daughter to do it wink wink!

 

My garden is still doing really well despite the lack of natural rain, I picked the rest of my garlic yesterday, we have 50-ish bulbs of various sizes which should last a little while. The cucumbers and squashes are doing excellent; I made 7 jars of kosher dill pickles yesterday and I was able to pick 7 heads of broccoli. Yeah that one stumps me too of what to do with it all. I know I should be staggering my plantings; but I don’t. I have yet to like what happens to my broccoli when I freeze it so I have been sharing our harvest with family and friends.

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If you need something quick and delicious with some of what you grew yourself or bought from a local farm stand or grocery store. This one’s a keeper!

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Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Stirring occasionally before serving. Garnish with the basil.

Thanksgiving – Sausage Ciabatta dressing

Sitting at the island this morning perusing some recipe magazines and tearing out things I must try or at least would like to try some day. I am pretty sure I have a 3” binder full of these recipes that I want to try some day. Maybe today is the day!

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Thanksgiving is coming up pretty quickly and the staples will always be on my table, turkey of course, though personally I like chicken better.Mashed potatoes because if we didn’t I am fairly certain my daughter would revolt; pitch a fit and make everyone wait while she runs into the kitchen to make them. I can say with some certainty she could and has eaten mashed potatoes for several days in a row. When she was getting her wisdom teeth out, I asked her what she would like on hand to eat.The only thing I remember her asking me for was mashed potatoes. Sorry getting off track here.

I have always loved turnip as does my father-in-law; so many opinions on that one! We had a bumper crop of butternut squash this year so that is a definite.Then you have to throw in something green. I personally like frozen baby sweet peas; yes Mom I said it out for the world to hear; no taking it back now.

I usually make my own rolls (last year we had no power so no oven) and dressing aka stuffing. I don’t care to stuff my birds so it is dressing at my house.

I can’t recall ever having sweet potatoes with marsh mellows or the staple green bean casserole at my childhood dinner table so I have never made them and I really don’t have an interest – sorry everybody! I did just find a carrot sweet potato casserole recipe that looks promising. I have no problem trying something new; it will either work or it won’t but there is so many other things on the table that I feel confident that no one will leave the table hungry and what a better place to get a lot of peoples opinion on the subject.

In one of the magazines I was looking at the editors letter title made me chuckle! Secrets and Pies; basically people trying to take short cuts and cast them off as their own homemade. I don’t feel the need to hide my shortcuts. Hey I think we all could use a little extra help; especially trying to pull off a big dinner party for many family and friends.

My big help is pumpkin pie, I use frozen pie crust and canned pumpkin pie filling and I don’t hide it! My husband is a pretty funny guy; he likes his cookies fresh made only and his pumpkin pie thin and cheap hahaha!

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Potato masher does the trick really well

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I was hesitant using fennel – totally not a black licorice fan but worth a try – trust me!

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It has taken me a several tries to find a dressing recipe that everyone agrees on; this one is a keeper. I did blog about last year but I felt it bears repeating plus I gave it to you too late for Thanksgiving last year but maybe if you are looking for something new to try you might want to check it out this year.

Sausage Ciabatta Dressing

Your favorite Olive Oil for the pan
1 lb of your favorite Italian sausage – casing removed crumbled and browned
1 medium onion – diced
1 bulb fennel also called anise – sliced thin, fronds reserved
1 cup of chestnuts – I found them already cooked and peeled – brilliant
2 apples – I used granny smiths – peeled and diced
5 cups ciabatta bread cubed and toasted – I toasted them in a pan on the stove top
¼ cup fresh parsley – chopped
2 ½ cups chicken stock
½ melted butter

Add oil to the pan, crumble the sausage and cook till the sausage starts to brown, add the onion, fennel, chestnuts, apples and cook. Stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through

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In a large bowl, place the cubed bread and pour the cooked sausage mixture over the top. Sprinkle with parsley, and pour the stock and melted butter; toss to combine.

In a 9×13 baking dish place all ingredients in and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the top is golden browned and crisp. Serve garnished with some of the fennel fronds.

recipe adapted from Mario Batali’s Sausage Ciabatta Stuffing

Croutons & Coleslaw admission

I am proud to admit that I have not purchased a bag or box of pre-made croutons in at least 13+ years.  I was literally at the grocery store just a few hours ago and saw a couple picking up a bag; I had to chuckle to myself because I was actually contemplating telling them how easy it was to make their own and that they are handsdown better than what you can buy at the store any day of the week.  I can see the headlines now; women arrested in Market Basket produce for accosting couple over bagged croutons.  I refrained… I then saw the same couple pick up a premade bag of salad; I tried not to judge. I am not perfect by any stretch; I have made my own coleslaw many times over the years but I will confess that it is way easier to buy a tri-color bag of shredded cabbage and carrots; I do make my own dressing for the slaw but sometimes everyone needs a little assistance.

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I have been trying to help my family eat a little better.  While we are definitely foodies and only want to eat food we like; which is not always the most healthiest choices and we don’t really adhere to the motto “eat less” either.  I figured if we had a salad before each dinner maybe we wouldn’t eat as much steak, chicken, pork chops, lasagna or whatever we are eating for dinner.  Last week I made some pretty yummy salads I must admit, They were more like a meal since I added some leftover bacon and I made a couple of hard boiled eggs.  My salads tend to be whatever we have in the produce drawer, I found that really like adding sno-peas, they add some really nice crunch and are very sweet. I cut off the ends, blanch for a minute remove from the heat; add to a ice water bath so they stay green and crunchy. (my salad is the one without the raw onion – I don’t like raw onions at all and I have no desire to learn)

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Croutons

Crust removed from whatever bread you want to make the croutons from.  I tend to make croutons every time we have leftover French or Italian bread that we had for dinner the night before, I have also used whatever sandwich bread we have in the drawer.

Day old Bread

Olive oil

Garlic Salt

Salt

Dried Parsley

Remove crust; cube into the size you want to eat; place in a ziploc bag; add olive oil; just enough to lightly coat the bread.

Bake in a 350’ oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned

If you are in a pinch you can pan sear them; I tend to do this in the morning if I make a salad for work

Cole Slaw

1 bag of tri-colored coleslaw

1 cup of Mayo

¼ cup Dijon mustard

1 Tbs cider vinegar

1 lemon juiced

Pinch of sugar

1/25 tsp celery seed

Several dashes of hot sauce

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the above ingredients; add to the coleslaw and let set for 10-15 minutes until it melds.  Great on pulled pork sandwich!