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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nutella and Peanut Butter Brownies

Two Sunday's ago, I had this strange feeling come over me.  I hadn't had a feeling like this in a while...at least not since the summer started.  I had that feeling that I just needed to bake something.  Yes, bake....even though it's still in the 100's here, I actually wanted to bake.  I think I'm jealous of all the other blogs I read that talk about all the fall like weather they are having!!  The downside of this need/want was that I didn't want to go to the store, that could be a a problem. I looked in my pantry to see what I had...flour, yes, baking powder and/or soda, yes, vanilla, yes, and so on and so on.  But then I saw the Nutella gazing at me from beside the peanut butter.  I wonder......................  I went to my computer and typed in Nutella, peanut butter, recipe... and behold the creation of Nutella and Peanut Butter Brownies!!!  YES!!! Not only were these absolutely delicious, they were WAY simple to make.  Though I do seem to be having a problem with timing lately and this was no exception.  The recipe called for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Mine took about 40 minutes at that temp.  Had I thought about it a bit more, I would have increased the heat to 375 and just watched them closely.  But no matter, these little gems were wonderful.  Nice and chocolatey with a tad bit of peanut butter, but I didn't get a lot of the hazelnut flavor from the Nutella.  Next time I might cut the cocoa powder down and add a bit more Nutella...I don't know.  If you could find actual hazelnuts, you could chop them up and add them to the mix....These are actually so incredibly easy, that experimenting with the recipe would be extremely fun!

Nutella and Peanut Butter Brownies
Adapted from The Craving Chronicles 
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of butter, melted and cooled
1 cup of sugar (granulated)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper (or spray with non-stick spray and coat with a little cocoa powder).

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

In a bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time and then stir in the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mix until combined.

In a small bowl, add the peanut butter and Nutella.  Microwave about 10-15 seconds, just enough to get them to combine smoothly.  Fold into the brownie mix.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating the pan every 10 minutes, or when a toothpick poked into the center comes out mostly clean; start checking doneness after 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares.  Enjoy!

****Today is the last day to enter to win a $55 CSN gift certificate.  You have until 8:00pm Eastern Standard time tonight.  Click HERE for all the details!****

You might also want to swing by Bo's Bowl and enter his cookbook giveaway!!  Oh, go on, you know you want it... go check it out, I'm done here :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Smokey Grilled Pork Chops

****Before I get started on today's delicious post, I just want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Mom!!  Wish I could be there with you, Mom, but you'll be here soon enough and we can celebrate then!  Hope you have a fantastic day...Love you!!****

Ok, so what did I learn this time when I used my smoker?
1.  I learned that I needed bigger, thicker pork chops then what I had purchased...but unfortunately, they were the thickest ones I could find (grrrrr).
2.  I learned that mopping or brining would have helped to ensure these pork chops stayed nice and moist.
3.  I learned that from here on out, any time I use my smoker, I am going with my gut feeling!

Although these chops did not turn out exactly as I had intended them too, they were still very good.  The flavor was amazing!  The smokey sweet flavor of the apple wood chips blended well with the spicy rub and sauce.  I have changed a few things...things that I did wrong..things that I believe would work better.  I did over cook these just a tiny tiny bit, they were still wonderful, but they were a bit on the dry side.  I think if I had not thrown them on the grill in the end, they would have stayed moist, but I wanted them to have a darker exterior.  I think thicker chops would have made a difference too.  I also believe that if I had brined these (or even marinated them actually), they would not have been dry.  I guess my pal Stephen is right, sometimes meat just really needs to be brined!

So even though I have not had the best luck with timing when it comes to my smoker, I still LOVE IT!!  I can't thank Chris at Nibble Me This for the AWESOME giveaway gift!  And, I MUST keep working at getting the timing right because my mom and dad are coming for Thanksgiving and I want to smoke the turkey!!  I can't wait!


Now, I know most of you do not have smokers yourself, so you can easily do these on the grill.  You can still cover it with the spice rub and then mop the sauce on as it grills.  Ok, you won't get the smokey flavor like we had, but you will still get a good pork chop when it's all said and done!  Oh, and one more thing....I changed this recipe from how I did it, it should make everything much better!!

Smokey Grilled Pork Chops
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 bone-in pork loin chops 1-inch thick
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons beer
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Hoisin

Additional Items for smoking:
Apple wood chips (about a cup), soaked in water for 30 minutes
Apple juice or beer 2 cups

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix the paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together until well combined.  Rub over both sides of each pork chop.  Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Pour buttermilk over the chops and continue marinating for 2-4 more hours.

In another bowl, mix together the honey, beer, Sriracha, lime juice, and Hoisin.  Set aside.

Heat smoker to 220 degrees.  Remove pork from marinade; discard marinade.  Place the pork on the top rack of the smoker.  Smoke for 30 minutes.  Mop both sides of the pork with the Sriracha sauce.  Continue smoking another 30 minutes, mopping with sauce every 10 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium high.  Remove pork from smoker and place directly on the grates (rub oil on the grates first) and cook directly over the fire for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the pork is cooked through, 160 degrees.  Enjoy!

****Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a $55 CSN gift certificate.  Check out the giveaway post here for all the details****

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tilapia with Lemon Vinaigrette

Well, as Chris stated:  "this is sure lemony".   And that it was.  But for me, at least, it was a good amount of lemony.  It was a nice tart and tangy vinaigrette.  You know me, always trying to dress up my tilapia!!  I've been meaning to try this recipe for a while now.  I found it in my Food Network Favorites cookbook a few years ago.  The picture always looked so damn good, but for some reason, I would skip over when planning my weekly meals.  But, no sense dwelling on why it took me so long, the point is, I did it :)  And the outcome?  Fantastic!  It definitely is tart, but what a good tart it is!!

****Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a $55 CSN gift certificate.  Check out the giveaway post here for all the details****

Tilapia with Lemon Vinaigrette
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
4 tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
all purpose flour, for dredging (I used about 2-3 Tbls)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
For the Vinaigrette-
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup lightly packed Italian parsley
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
To make the vinaigrette:  Blend the zest, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, salt, and black pepper together in a blender.  With the machine running, gradually drizzle in the oil.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Set aside.

Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour.  Shake off the excess.  In a skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbls olive oil.  When hot, add the fillets and fry until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet and top with vinaigrette.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken

Well, it happened to me again!!  I ran out of gas!  Geez, oh...and this time, this time I wasn't even paying attention to the level. I mean really, I'm usually really good about checking it and for the last month I've just sort of spaced it off.....and look where it got me:  No Gas!!!

Nonetheless, this chicken was so wonderful in flavor, that I had to share it with you anyway.  I actually only had the chicken on for about 4 minutes before the gas ran out, so I didn't get those wonderful grill marks on them...BUT...they still tasted wonderful and that's really all that counts right?  Plus, now you know you don't have to actually grill these.  I have left baking instructions at the bottom, but you could also just sear it in a pan (covered), that's how I finished these off and it worked just fine.

****Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a $55 CSN gift certificate.  Check out the giveaway post here for all the details**** 

Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken
Adapted from Planet Barbecue! by Steven Raichlen
Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3-4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:
Place the chicken in a resealable bag.  Place the onion, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree to a smooth paste.  Work in the lemon juice and enough oil to obtain the consistency of thick heavy cream.  Pour the marinade over the chicken, seal, and let sit in refrigerator for at least 1 1/2 hours, but you could do it as long as over night.

Preheat grill to medium.  Rub oil on grill grates.  Place chicken directly over the fire and grill 5-8 minutes per side or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from grill and allow to rest for 3 minutes before slicking into.  Enjoy!

***To bake:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a skillet with a little oil, sear the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove and place in baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (165 degrees).  Enjoy!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Zucchini Gratin

I got the idea for these from Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  I enjoy SnoWhite's site so much!  Every time I'm on her site, my mouth waters :)  So many of her dishes look incredibly delicious!  If you haven't stopped by, make sure to check it out.  I wanted to make these little melts, but wanted a little crunch to go a along with the cheesy goodness.  So this is what I came up with.  Sno's are much more cheesier then mine and mine also sat under the broiler a little too long, so they are a bit browner then I would have liked, but I was extremely happy with the outcome.  A great new way to enjoy the zucchini we love so much!

****Don't forget to enter my giveaway for your chance to win a $55 gift certificate from CSN to be used at any of the 200+ online stores****

Zucchini Gratin
Adapted from Finding Joy in My Kitchen
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
2-3 zucchini (depends on how big the zucchini and how many you are feeding), cut into rounds
panko bread crumbs (I used 1/4 cup)
garlic salt
pepper
shredded mozzarella cheese (depends on how cheesy you want it..I used 1/2 cup)
1 small Roma tomato, diced

Directions:
Lightly toast the panko bread crumbs in a small non-stick skillet with a little olive oil, until just starting to brown.  Season with garlic salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350.  Place the zucchini rounds in a single layer in a shallow baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with shredded cheese, then the tomatoes, and then the bread crumbs.  Bake for 5-8 minutes.  Once the cheese had melted and the zucchini is cooked to your liking, you can turn the broiler on to finish browning the bread crumbs.  Remove from oven and enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Giveaway...CSN Style

Did you know that the CSN Stores contain over 250 specialty online stores that offer a wide variety of home/office/school goods? You can find anything from cheap bedroom furniture to handy kitchen tools to eco-friendly luggage.  I  have just recently been introduced to the CSN Stores, in the past few months, and am trying very hard not to spend all the money I have there!

The other day I received an email from the wonderful people at the CSN Stores.  They offered me a chance to give one of my lucky readers a $55 gift certificate to be used at any of their 200+ stores!!!
First, I want to say thank you to those wonderful people at the CSN Stores.  I was quite excited when they contacted me about this offer.  I so appreciate the opportunity to present this to my readers!

Second, if YOU want to win that $55 gift certificate, all you have to do is leave me a comment.  Simple enough, right?  Ok, ok, so there is one catch.  The catch is:  You must leave a comment here telling me what you would like to use that $55 gift certificate for. (Please note: you cannot leave a comment as anonymous) So, go check out the CSN Stores site, take a look at some of the many wonderful products they have, then come back here and tell me what you would like to buy if you won this giveaway.

**Entries must be received by 8pm Eastern Standard Time on Thursday September 30th to be eligible.  This giveaway is only open to those in the United States and Canada.  The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on Friday, October 1st.

Good luck!

Baked Catfish with Firecracker Sauce

Wait....did she just say catfish???  That's right... I found a deal on catfish when we went grocery shopping, so I snagged it up.  Thought it was time for a change :)

Catfish will forever remind me of my dad. (I hope he doesn't take that the wrong way)  When I was a kid, my whole family, including aunts and uncles and cousins, used to go camping.  We used to go to this area in Yutan, Nebraska, but as I got older, the location moved much closer to my home.  I loved going camping as a family...even when things started to change, like the women wanting to go shopping instead of camping...I still wanted to be a part of the camping experience.  I loved sleeping in a tent.  I loved how funny my dad and uncles would get while they played cards and drank the afternoons away.  I loved the freedom.  I loved the FOOD!!  I mean, I don't know about you, but it seems that no matter what I eat when I'm out camping, it's always the best I've ever had!  My dad and uncles would set up fishing lines along the river that we'd camp close to.  They caught a lot of catfish that way.  And that catfish was brought back to camp where my dad would clean it and cook.  He would bread it and pan fry it.  I LOVED it.  It was the best fish I'd ever had....each and every time I had it.  He'd even bring some home...if they caught enough...and make it the same way.  It was still amazingly good at home, but it never truly had the wonderful outdoor cooking flavor that the catfish cooked at the campsite did :)


This little concoction is my tribute to my dad for all those times he cooked catfish for me.  (Thanks Dad!) I've made it a bit healthier then when my dad makes it, but other then that, I tried to duplicate it as best as I could without really knowing what he used.  I think he'd be pretty proud :)

Oh, and let's not forget the sauce..... OMG....this sauce was fiery and wonderful and a perfect compliment to the crispy fish.  This is a great alternative to the standard tartar sauce.


Baked Catfish with Firecracker Sauce
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can add even more if you want it hotter)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 large catfish fillets
2 Tablespoons cornmeal
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, lemon juice, Dijon, cayenne, garlic powder and pepper until smooth.  Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place baking sheet that will hold a wire rack into the oven while it heats (this will help keep the bottom of the fish crispy....see this post for further instructions).

In a shallow dish, mix the cornmeal, flour, panko, pepper, garlic salt, and paprika together.  Rinse the fillets and do not dry them off.  Press fillets into cornmeal mixture, making sure both sides are covered.  Shake off any excess coating.  Place the fillets on a wire rack and transfer to baking sheet in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn the broiler on and broil the fish for another 2 minutes or until the coating is golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with Firecracker Sauce on the side. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yogurt Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

I have been wanting to make a pineapple salsa for a while now and I, for some reason, thought Chris disliked pineapple, so I put it off.  The other day I just flat out told him, I'm making this dish and that's that, you can leave the salsa off the chicken.  He looked at me with this odd look and said "I think the dish sounds awesome".  Well, I guess I was wrong and I'm glad I was.  Other then the fact that the roasted red pepper juice turned the pineapple a dull shade of "blah"...this meal was incredibly good!  I'm a firm believer in the fact that yogurt and mayonnaise are the best things to marinate chicken in.  They seem to give it this rich, moist flavor that I love love love!  The salsa added this wonderful peppery, sweet flavor to the dish.  Not much else to say other then ... this is a must try!!

Yogurt Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
Adapted from Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, Food Network
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
For the Pineapple Salsa:
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
2 jarred roasted red peppers, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Arizona Gunslinger Habanero Pepper Sauce)
pinch of salt

Directions:
Mix the yogurt, olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, lemon zest, salt and hot sauce together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, mix all ingredients for the salsa in a small bowl until well combined.  Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium.  Remove chicken from bowl and discard the marinade.  Oil the grill grates or spray with non stick spray.  Place chicken on the grill and cook 5-8 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from grill.  Serve with pineapple salsa.  Enjoy!


(By the way, you can also bake the chicken at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  Or, place in cast iron skillet with some oil and cook 5-8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blackened Tilapia with Rémoulade

Can I get something off my chest?  Thank you.... Ok, here goes.  It's frickin' hot here!  Seriously, we broke record highs over the weekend and yesterday....yesterday it was 107 degrees!!  It is true that I would rather have it this warm then it be anywhere under 50 degrees...but enough already.  I read so many posts that speak of the weather finally cooling off...I mean I'd just love to be able to say our nighttime/morning temps got under 75!!  lol  Alright, alright, I'm done complaining....bring on the food!!

I have tried making this blackened tilapia recipe three separate times....this being the third time... and the third time really was the charm.  I tried blackening the fish in a cast iron skillet twice and in a non-stick skillet and you will never believe which one turned out the best.  Yep...it was the non-stick skillet.  Now had I used a different, thicker piece of fish, I think it would have worked better in the cast iron or on the grill, but with tilapia..it was the non-stick... go figure!  I love blacked fish.  It didn't get as "blackened" as I would have liked, but again, this was the best of three times and at this point, I'm done with it.  If I want more blackened fish, I'm going to venture to my nearest Cajun seafood restaurant where they specialize in it!  Don't let that stop you from trying it though...it's definitely worth making and then you can have the remoulade too, which was delicious....just sort of a spicy tartar sauce....mmmmmm sauce!!

Blackened Tilapia with Rémoulade
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen 10th Anniversary Best Recipes
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used Kosher)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon olive oil
For Rémoulade-
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons finely diced pickles
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Arizona Gunslinger Habanero Sauce)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, garlic & onion powder, coriander, salt, cayenne and pepper until well combined.  Pat fillets dry.  Sprinkle and then rub the spice mixture onto both sides of each fillet.  Let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients for the rémoulade together until well combined.  Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a non-stick skillet, over medium - medium/high heat add the olive oil.  Place the fish in the skillet and cover.  Cook for 3-5 minutes per side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and has a nice dark color to it.  Serve with the rémoulade and enjoy!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Smoked Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings...er...Drummettes

Confession of a novice smoker ... of meats that is:  I, Jenn of Jenn's Food Journey, confess that I finished these drummettes in the oven!  There, I said it, it's out in the open, no secrets...whew... I feel better!  I have found out, in the last two times I smoked, that sometimes what the recommended time is in a recipe can be WAY off.  I checked a few different sites with smoking recipes, just to see what the temperature and smoking time should be....all of them said smoke at 225 for 1.5-2 hours.  I smoked these almost twice as long as all those others, and they still weren't completely cooked through.  No worries, though, I actually liked having the skin be a little crispy....it was the perfect smokey flavor from the smoker and the perfect crispy skin from the oven...they were a thing of beauty, let me tell you!

Ok, so you don't have a smoker, no worries, you can do these in your oven...you could even use your grill to smoke them really.  Get some wood chips, soak them, wrap them in foil, poke a few holes in it....put it on the grill, shut the lid....viola! a smoker is born.   If you don't want that kind of a hassle...just throw these in a 425-450 degree oven and bake until cooked through (165-170 degree internal temperature).  These are worth trying, no matter how you cook them.  Ok, if you don't smoke them you aren't going to get that smokey goodness, true, BUT, you will get the sweet and spicy part and well, that's a pretty good thing too...trust me...these are mouth watering good!!


Smoked Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings (or Drummettes)
Adapted from dadgumthatsgood.com 
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
16-20 chicken wing/drummettes
1 1/4 Tablespoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup Spicy Barbecue Sauce
3 Tablespoons apple juice

Additional items needed for smoking-
Texas Roadhouse wood chips (or apple wood or hickory will do), soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 cup each apple juice and water

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together the pepper, onion powder, chili powder, garlic powder, and seasoned salt.  Sprinkle over the wings and toss to coat.  Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Add the water and apple juice to the water pan of the smoker.  Add 1 cup wood chips.  Preheat smoker to 225 degrees.  Place the wings on the top shelf of the smoker and cook for 45 minutes.  Turn wings and cook for another 45 minutes.

While wings are smoking, in a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the honey, barbecue sauce, and apple juice.  Cook until warmed through.

Remove wings from smoker and place in a disposable aluminum pan.  Pour the warm sauce over the wings and put back in the smoker on the 2nd shelf.  Allow the wings to cook another 45 minutes.  You can finish them off in a 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (165-170 degrees).  Get out the napkins and enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tilapia in Jalapeno Cream Sauce

Do you like creamy goodness?  Do you enjoy a little kick with your meal?  Well, then, grab a chair and come sit at our table.  This fish turned out to be so wonderful.  It was creamy and spicy and melted in your mouth.  And let's not forget easy...you know how much I love that in a recipe! Ok, ok, so it's not the healthiest thing I have posted lately, but come on, sometimes you just got to indulge!  And indulge is exactly what we did.  Decadent .. heavenly ... fiery.... yes, those would be words I would use to describe this dish. Any questions?

Tilapia in Jalapeno Cream Sauce
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
4 Tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 sweet onion, finely diced
1-2 large jalapeno peppers, finely diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
2-3 oz queso fresco cheese
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Directions:
In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, add the butter and the diced onions.  Let cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and almost starting to brown.  Add the jalapeno and cook another 2 minutes, or until the pepper has softened.  Add the cream and bring to a simmer.  Add the queso fresco and let melt. Season with salt and pepper.

Pat the fish dry, then season with salt and pepper.  Add the fish to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the top.  Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork - there's no need to flip the fish, just keep spooning the hot sauce over it every once in a while.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Indian Spiced Chicken Gyros with Mint Mayonnaise

When I was in college, after a late night of bar hopping (yes, mom, I said, bar hopping...I know, big shock, right?), we would stop at this place called George's Gyros...or maybe it was George's Gourmet Grill....I can't remember exactly, sorry.  Anyway, you could pretty much find me there at least a few times a month on a Friday or Saturday night after the bars closed, ordering a gyro and fries.  They were to die for.  To this day, sometimes I wonder if they really were that good or if it was just the "drunken" goodness I remember so much.

Now I know that when you order a gyro it usually comes jam packed with meat and tomatoes and onions, but mine were a bit thin (I only used 2 small chicken breasts). I was perfectly ok with it, but you might not be, so go ahead and add another chicken breast or two to the recipe, that way you get enough to fill your pita!

Oh, I forgot to tell you about where I got the recipe from.  A few years back I was gifted a cookbook called InterCourses by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge.  It is a cookbook that utilizes aphrodisiacs.  I love this cookbook, but just recently realized that I've only made a handful of things from it.  That's pretty much par for the course though for me when it comes to cookbooks...I'll find about half a dozen recipes I know I'll like and that's about it.  Anyway, this is a great book, it has little romantic stories throughout and the recipes really are heavenly.  I decided to adapted this recipe, it's something I knew both Chris and I would enjoy....and I hope you will too!

Indian Spiced Chicken Gyros with Mint Mayonnaise
Adapted from InterCourses by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2-4 whole pita rounds
tomato, diced
lettuce, shredded (optional)
1/4 onion, thinly sliced or diced (optional)
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced (optional) (I didn't have cucumber but know it would be a perfect addition to the gryo)

Mint Mayonnaise-
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients for the mint mayo together.  Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Place chicken in a resealable bag.  In small bowl, mix all other ingredients together until well blended.  Pour over chicken and marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Preheat grill to medium.  Remove chicken and discard marinade.  Place chicken directly over the fire on oiled grill grates.  Grill 5-6 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes and cut chicken into thin slices.  Warm the pita and pile on chicken, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, and/or lettuce.  Drizzle mint mayonnaise over top and serve.  (You can also spread the mayo on the pita before you put the meat and veggies on it.) Enjoy! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spicy Thai Pork Chops with Coconut Rice

I have noticed a real trend in the meat department.  I don't know about your grocery store, but at mine, all they ever seem to stock are thin cut pork chops....especially with the bone-in chops. My biggest problem with such thin pieces of meat is that it's hard to get a good color on them in such a short amount of cooking time.  Well, I found the solution to the problem....America's Test Kitchen!  I was fortunate enough to get a few small recipe books from a girl at work.  She works in our media department and they get media kits sent to them all the time.  Media places trying to get us to place our clients ads with them.  Recently, she received a media kit from Cook's Illustrated and she got a ton of recipe book she had no use for, so knowing my love for cooking, she gave them to me.  I was SO excited.   One of the first things I found was a recipe for grilling thin cut pork chops.  After all their experiments and tests, they found that the best way to get a really thin cut chop to come off the grill looking expertly cooked was to freeze them for 30 minutes before putting them on the grill and then spread a butter mixture over top of them to help the browning.  It worked like a charm!  Ok, so my chops didn't get a caramelized looking as theirs did, but I was afraid of flare ups from the butter so I did not set the heat as hot as I should have.  Nice thing is, I know this works now and I had no flare ups, so next time.. oh, yes there will be a next time...I will perfect the procedure!

As for the rice, I've been wanting to make coconut rice for a while now and just never thought it would go well with the dish I was making.  I always tell people that I don't like coconut, but that's a lie.  I love the flavor of coconut, but I hate the texture... so I don't like it, but I like it.  With this rice, it gave me a chance to savor the wonderful flavor of coconut, without having to worry about that whole texture thing!

 

These chops were wonderful, spicy and flavorful.  The rice was sweet and a perfect compliment to the pork.  The Thai butter that you put on the chop after you take it off the grill is fantastic.  I mean it was so good that Chris didn't even complain about the cilantro that was in it... and he hates cilantro!!  I didn't get a good picture of the chop after the butter had actually melted over it, and I wish I had, because it was ALMOST too beautiful to eat....almost :)

Spicy Thai Pork Chops
Recipe created by American's Test Kitchen (Cooks Country, Aug/Sept 2010)
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
6 bone-in rib or center-cut pork chops about 1/2-inch thick (mine were actually about 3/4 inch thick and I only used 4)
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened - divided
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce (I used Sambal Oelek chili paste)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest

Directions:
Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and rub both sides with salt.  Arrange on a wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and freeze until chops are firm, at least 30 minutes but no longer then 1 hour.

Combine 2 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.  Mix remaining butter, cilantro, and lime zest in another small bowl and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. (Cilantro butter can be made and refrigerated 1 day prior to use)

Preheat your grill to medium.  Remove chops from freezer and pat dry.  Spread softened butter-sugar mixture evenly over both sides of each chop.  Grill, covered, over hot fire until well browned and the meat registers 145 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Transfer chops to platter and top with chilled butter-cilantro mixture.  Tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

Coconut Rice
serves 2-4
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1/2 cup water
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar

Directions:
Wash the rice in several changes of cold water until it runs clear.  Place the water, coconut milk, slat and sugar in a saucepan.  Add the rice, cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is tender to the bite and cooked through.  Turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest for 5-10 minutes.  Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tilapia with Sambal Vinaigrette and Ginger Lime Cream

Ok, so this could have just been made without the lime cream, but I thought it needed something cool to offset the hot from the vinaigrette.  Now you know I love spicy, so it wasn't that I NEEDED it, it just seemed like the right thing to do.  I actually got the idea for this dish from a recipe I saw on Epicurious.com, it was for Halibut with Sambal Vinaigrette and Wasabi CreamI was trying to decide what to make for dinner because I once again, forgot a main ingredient when we went to the store.  I realized it about an hour before I was ready to cook and, well, quite frankly, I did not feel like going to the store to get it.  I mean, I had to have something that I could throw together, right?  That's when I saw the Sambal staring at me from the pantry.  It was unopened and begging to be set free....a quick search on the internet, a few adjustments to the recipe and dinner was created!  Don't you just love it when things come together like that?

The Sambal vinaigrette was incredible!  And the ginger lime cream added a great tangy coolness to everything.  The sauce girl was completely satisfied after this meal....I WILL be making this vinaigrette again!!

Tilapia with Sambal Vinaigrette and Ginger Lime Cream
Adapted from Epicurious.com
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek chili paste
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper
4 Tilapia fillets
olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ginger
lime juice (to taste)

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, ginger, and lime juice (how much you use is up to you...make it how every tart you want it to be...I used about 1-2 Tablespoons), mix until well blended.  Set in refrigerator until ready to use.

In a blender, add the vinegar, chili paste, and mustard.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the oil and pulse until blended.  You can also use the jar method, which is what I did:  Pour all the ingredients in a jar, seal tight, shake, and pour into small bowl.  Set aside.

In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add about a teaspoon of a olive oil.  Season the fillet with salt and pepper on both sides.  Cook the fish, about 3-4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve with vinaigrette and ginger lime cream.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homemade Potato Chips

We are a household of chip lovers.  Normally, it's Doritos and Cheetos, but still, we love chips.  I know they aren't the best things for us, but hey, it could be worse, I mean we could be eating deep fried butter right?  I got the idea to make my own potato chips when I accidentally over cooked my grilled potato rounds one night...they turned out to be burned chips...... the idea was born.  Now I considered doing these on the grill, but thought I might run into the burning problem again.  Plus, I thought it better to do this in the oven because if most people are going to recreate this, it would be in their ovens.

I've done these twice now.  The first time (which is what is pictured), I thought I over cooked them a bit.  These were the best looking ones.  Most of them were a deep dark brown color - closed to being burned but not quite.  The second time I made them I thought I could cut back on the time and I got the opposite affect.  Most of them were limp and were not crispy at all.  GRRRRR... but, what I realized is I just have to keep an eye on them.  If you see one or two getting really brown, pull it off the baking sheet and onto a plate to cool.  My opinion, they are better over done then underdone and soggy!  Nice thing is, you are making potato chips, so they don't have to be smokin' hot!

For seasoning I used pepper and garlic salt, because I was just testing...but if you think about it, the possibilities are endless on the seasoning you can use.  You can make them hot and spicy by using cayenne pepper...you can make lemon pepper flavor chips...you can make ranch flavor chips...you can make taco flavored chips....I could go on and on, but I think you get what I'm saying.  Experiment...have fun...that's what you are supposed to be doing in the kitchen...having fun!!!

Homemade Potato Chips
Printable Recipe 

Ingredients:
1-2 russet potatoes
olive oil
pepper
garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Thinly slice the potatoes into rounds (I used the thinnest setting on my mandoline).  Place in pot and cover with cold water.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Place the pot on the stove over high heat.  Just as it's starting to boil, set the time for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain.  Toss with olive oil..enough to coat them...and then season with pepper and garlic salt.  Place the potatoes, in a layer, on a baking sheet.  Roast for 5 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and roast another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip the potatoes over.  Place back in the oven and roast another 5 minutes, rotate the sheet and then cook until chips are crispy and brown.  Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Smoked Whole Chicken

First off... I apologize...the only picture I got that actually turned out, was of the full bird.  I did not get a picture of the beautiful meat on the inside.....you'll need to trust me on this one..it was smoked to perfection!!

Maybe it's a good thing that it take so long to smoke meat, because, honestly, after this weekend, I really don't want to eat my meat prepared any other way!!  I am now spoiled.  The flavor you get is unmatched.  And so far, everything I have smoked, with the exception of the potatoes, has been, perfectly cooked.  The meat just fell off the bone.  This chicken was way DELICIOUS!  You could definitely taste the smokey flavor in this...which I loved!  On the down side of it all.  I don't know if I just didn't have the probe in there right or if there is just something a bit faulty with it, but the meat thermometer did not read properly.  Again, I'm not going to say that it's broke or it sucks or anything like that.  I only used it once, so I need to try it again and see if it was the thermometer or just me....which is probably what it was.

I really must admit, I do love my new smoker.  I really cannot say thank you enough to Chris (Nibble Me This) for this great giveaway prize.  I would not say that I have mastered the smoker just yet... but I do feel pretty confident with using it.  Ok, Ok, so I ran outside every 10 minutes to make sure everything was fine, but still... that whole newness thing will wear off soon, I'm sure.  Masterbuilt has a wonderful product in this electric smoker.  Who knows, maybe some day they'll make me their spokesperson :) Hey, don't laugh, stranger things have happened!!

Anyway, the chicken was delicious, did I say that already?  Even though it took a bit longer then suggested through the dadgumthatsgood.com recipe, I was very pleased with the outcome.  The skin was perfectly tan, the breast was a beautiful shade of white, and the flavor was amazing!  I stuffed the chicken with a small lemon (cut in half), garlic, parsley, and thyme.  I sprinkled lemon pepper seasoning and garlic on the outside.  Those flavors combined with the smokey, hickory flavor....mmmmmmm....I can't even really describe the taste.  Oh, and let's not forget that in the water pan of the smoker, I added apple juice.  I don't know if could distinguish any apple flavor in the chicken, but you could smell the juice as it was heating up.  As I said before, the smokey flavor stood out more with the chicken then with the ribs I made on Saturday....but that's not a bad thing, it gave it a flavor I've only been able to get at a smokehouse or bbq joint.

Next week on the agenda:  Super Smoked Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings.....I mean it is football season and what's football season without some spicy wings???

Smoked Whole Chicken
Printable Recipe 
Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (mine was just over 4 lbs)
olive oil
garlic salt
lemon pepper seasoning
1 small lemon, halved or quartered
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
handful of fresh parsley
springs of thyme (I used about 10 sprigs)

Additional items for smoking:
hickory chips (make sure to soak in water for at least 30 minutes)
12oz apple juice (I used Simply Apple apple juice)
1 cup water

Directions:
Clean out the insides of the chicken.  Rinse with water and pat dry.  Rub olive oil all over the chicken.  Season the entire bird with garlic salt and lemon pepper seasoning.  Stuff the bird with the lemon, garlic, parsley, and thyme.

Add the apple juice and cup water to the water pan of your smoker.  Add the hickory chips.  Let your smoker reach 220 degrees.  Place the whole chicken on a rack above the water pan, or place a rack in a shallow baking pan and place the chicken on that.  Smoke for 3-4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165-170 degrees.  Enjoy!