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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial day is a day to honor the American soldiers that have sacrificed so much so that we have the freedoms that we all very much enjoy.  There are so many that have served this country and I honor you today.  For those who have fought and for those that have died for this country, I say thank you!  Thank you for your time, thank you for your sacrifices.  I am honored to know a small handful of you too!  BUT....There is no one I'd rather thank face to face today then my father.  My dad is a Vietnam vet and he is my hero, not only for his time of service, but for so many other things that he has taught me throughout my life.  He's been there to hold my hand, he's been there to wipe my tears, he's been there to set me straight when I needed it the most.  My dad lived in a house with three women... that's right three women.. no boys... and he survived that too!  He is a man of few words, but he's always been there for me when I need him and for that one reason, I love him more then any other man in the world.  I am honored to be his daughter.  Thank you dad, for your service to this country and for all you've done for me.  I love and miss you today and every day.

With that said, most people are planning on grilling today.  I figure most everyone already knows what they are making, but if not and you are looking for last minute ideas, here are some of my favorite grilling recipes that I've posted lately.  Enjoy the day and don't forget to thank a solider today, it's the least you can do for them!

Have a wonderful day!  Happy, I mean Grilling!!!

Honey Soy Tilapia

Happy Memorial day to all of you!  I hope everyone has had a fun and safe weekend!  I was going to post a great "cook out" recipe, then I figured fewer people would be surfing the web today AND most people probably already had their menus planned, so if I posted another tilapia recipe, it wouldn't be missed by too many people!  Silly, I know, but still...

As you have probably already figured out by now, Chris and I are creatures of habit.  We eat a lot of fish and that fish is mainly tilapia.  Basically, it's the cheapest fish we can find that we both can agree on.  I know I should go out of my way to buy something fresh every now and then..but come on, we live in the land locked desert...there really isn't a lot of "fresh" fish within our grasp!  We do have this wonderful trout farm up north from us, but even when you try to purchase that fresh, it's outrageously priced (ok, except for last week when I found it on sale) least in my terms of fresh fish.  So you will pretty much only see tilapia here on my sight...nice thing about my recipes, you can pretty much use any type of white fish you have available.

Anyway...this was actually a pretty good recipe.  I have had it as a possibility to make for probably 6 months now, but always found something else I wanted to try first.  I'm actually kind of sorry I didn't try this sooner.  It was surprisingly good.

Honey Soy Tilapia
Adapted from SparkPeople Recipes
4 Tilapia fillets (or any white fish)
3 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced

Mix the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic together in a small bowl.  Place fillets in a shallow bowl or Ziploc bag and pour the mixture over the fillets.  Let marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill or oven (400 degrees).

Tear off 4 squares of foil and spray with non stick spray.  Place one fillet on each piece of foil and close into a packet.  Place on the grill and cook for 12-14 minutes, turning at least one time.

To bake: Place fillets in a baking dish sprayed with non stick cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.       

(Nutritional info: 220 calories; 1g fat; 55mg cholesterol; 31.3 carbohydrates; 22g protein)

Friday, May 28, 2010

White Chocolate Chip Cookies with (optional) Key Lime Glaze

I was browsing blogs the other day, when I stumbled across these yummy looking Key Lime Cookies with White Chocolate on Andrea The Kitchen Witch's site.  They looked incredible!  The one problem.. they had coconut in them and I'm just not a fan of coconut.  There's something with the gritty texture of the coconut that I just can't get past.  So, I thought to myself...well just leave the coconut out!  Key lime and white chocolate chip cookies.. YUM...doesn't that sound good?  Well when I asked Chris that same question, I got this know the look...the look like "I wanna smile and shake my head yes, but that doesn't sound as good as you think it sounds" look :)  Ok, so that's not going to be the biggest hit in the house...well then, how can I accommodate his tastes with my wants?  Again, I stumbled across a cookie recipe that caught my eye:  Triple lemon cookies from Michelle at All Home Cooking. All Year long.  Instantly, I had a plan.  How about making white chocolate chip cookies, THEN, save half for Chris as is and with the other half, I could drizzle them with a key lime glaze!! YES!!  That will work perfect!  And it did too!  Chris was very content with just plain white chocolate chip cookies and I got to savor the same cookies, but with a tart kick.  The key lime glaze just ads this pungent, yet wonderfully fresh taste to the cookies.  It's like summer in your mouth... well, maybe not, but still.. they are delicious!

White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Key Lime Glaze
Inspired by Andrea The Kitchen Witch and Michelle at All Home Cooking. All Year Long.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
For Glaze:
powdered sugar
key lime juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In one bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Whisk in vanilla.

In a separate bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly whisk flour mixture into sugar mixture.  Fold in white chocolate chips.

Shape dough into walnut size balls and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then move to a wire rack to continue to cool.

To make glaze:  (I didn't do exact measurements, so I can't put them here, sorry, it's really going to be all in how much tartness you want in your glaze).  Scoop powdered sugar (start with at least 1/4 cup) into a small bowl, add the juice of one key lime to begin with.  If mixture is too tart or not thin enough, add a bit of milk.  Add more key lime juice if you want it more tart.  Glaze cookies with as much or as little as you want.  ENJOY!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thai Peanut Tilapia

I loved this recipe.  (sorry if the picture looks a bit "slimy", but I was fooling around with the setting again...I should know better by now, I know!!)  I am a fan of spicy peanut sauces, though, so it sort of goes without saying....even Chris was a fan, though hesitant since my last attempt at making a peanut sauce was a disaster..a few months before I started my blog, I made this spicy peanut stir fry that was over loaded with peanut overloaded, the sauce sort of stuck to the roof of your mouth, just like a spoonful of peanut butter.  Good, but a bit much.  This fish was not that at all.  It was a perfect blend and amount.  I grilled this in foil packets, but never fear, you can bake it too.  Don't you just love the versatility of some of my recipes??? :)  And speaking of versatility, you could use this on chicken too... mmmmm..!!!

Thai Peanut Tilapia
4 Tilapia Fillets (or any other white fish)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons red chili paste (I used Huy Fong Sambal Oelek Sauce)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
2-4 Tablespoons warm water
2 Tablespoons chopped peanuts

In a microwaveable bowl, add the peanut better, soy, chili paste, brown sugar, and lime juice.  Microwave for about 20 seconds.  Remove and stir.  Add warm water to help thin out the sauce.  Continue to microwave 10 seconds at a time until all ingredients are well blended.

To Grill:  Preheat a grill.  Tear off 4 squares of aluminum foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.  Place each fillet on the foil and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the sauce over each fillet.  Seal foil packet and place on grill.  Grill for 12-14 minutes, turning at least one time.  Remove from grill and carefully remove fish from foil.  Enjoy!

To Bake:  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with non stick cooking spray and place the fillets in the dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the sauce over the fillets and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Remove from oven and enjoy! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Penne alla Vodka

I have had many vodka sauces in my day and I can honestly say that I have never met a vodka sauce I didn't like!  This one was no exception.  I was online just trying to find some new ideas for pasta recipes, when I happened upon this one...Penne Alla Vodka.  Now, like I've said, I've HAD many vodka sauces, but what I forgot to mention was that I've never actually MADE one.  GASP!  I know, Italian that has never made a vodka sauce!!  How can that be?  Well, it's one in my family ever made one (at least not that I ever knew of).  See simple!  I saw this recipe and new I had to try had bacon in it!! YAY FOR BACON!!!  Nice thing about this recipe though, if you didn't want to put bacon in it, no worries, omit and and just substitute 1 Tbls olive oil.  You are still going to have a fantastic sauce!  And don't worry, the vodka is not over powering or prominent, so don't think you'll get sloshed after eating this!

Penne alla Vodka
Adapted from Life's Ambrosia
6 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 sweet onion, minced or diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup vodka
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 lbs penne pasta
6 basil leaves, rolled together and chopped
fresh ground black pepper

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, until crispy, about 5-7 minutes.  Drain bacon on paper towel lined plate and set aside.  Drain all but 1 Tbls of the bacon grease.  Add the onions and saute on medium low for about 8 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.   Slowly add the vodka and cook 2 minutes (it should be bubbling, if not turn the heat up a bit).  Pour in the diced tomatoes, bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Season with pepper.

While sauce simmers, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set asides.

After 20 minutes of simmering, slowly whisk the cream into the sauce.  Add the bacon and parmesan cheese, stirring to combine.  Add basil and stir.  Add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, or plate the pasta and spoon sauce on each plate.  Either way, Enjoy!      

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grilled Island Chicken

Don't you just love the picture?  lol Doesn't that piece of chicken look like a boot?  Or maybe it's actually a J for Jenn, I can't be sure.  It sort of brings something to the plate, doesn't it... like don't mess with me, or I'll give you a swift kick.  Then again, maybe not.  All I know is this recipe is a hit on a couple of the other blogs I follow.  I found it last year and we fell in love with it.  It originated from Annie's Eats and if you have never stopped by her blog, you should check it out.  She has great photos and fantastic recipes...including this one.  What wonderful flavors.  Very fresh tasting.  And don't forget how simple it is.  You do need to leave yourself at least 8 hours for marinating though.  No worries, 5 minutes of prep time before you head off to work and it's ready to cook when you get home.  See, Simple!

The original recipe calls for baking...but come on.. the word island immediately brings to mind beaches and summer and beers and GRILLING!

Grilled Island Chicken
Adapted from Annie's Eats
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Place chicken in a resealable bag.  In a small bowl mix all other ingredients together.  Pour over chicken and seal bag.  Let marinate in refrigerator for up to 10 hours.

When you're ready to cook chicken, preheat your grill to 400 degrees.  Remove chicken and place on grill; discard marinade.  Grill chicken 6-8 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Honey & Hoisin Grilled Trout with Orzo Pasta, Zucchini, and Peppers

WHAT?  Did she just say TROUT?  Are you sure she didn't say TILAPIA?  No?  REALLY?  Are you sure????   Yep.. that's right everyone, I finally ventured away from our "usual" fish.  Oh and what a great venture it was!!!

There are certain dishes that I know Chris will not eat, so when he went to Oklahoma for his dad's retirement, I thought it was a good time to make one of those.  I had all intention of grabbing a piece of salmon, but when I got to the store, it was far too expensive.  So, I went with a fabulous 3/4 lbs fillet of fresh trout.  Far too much fish for just me, but never fear, I got another meal out of it (I made two small trout patties that fell apart because I forgot to include a binding agent in the ingredients!  Sadly, they were not picture worthy, but oh where they GOOOOOOOOOOD!!!! YUM YUM YUM!  I'll visit that recipe again in the very near future though, you're definitely gonna want it!!), so it was well worth it.  Chris probably wouldn't have minded the trout, but what I know for sure he would not like is the orzo pasta.  I made it once for him and he flat out said, he did not care for it.  But oh how I love it!!  So, along with the trout, I threw together a side dish of orzo pasta with zucchini and peppers.  The dinner was a huge success, if I do say so myself!  I think Chris might even be a little jealous once he gets a look at this post!!

Honey & Hoisin Grilled Trout
1 - 3/4lbs trout fillet (mine had the skin on one side still)
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 large clove of garlic, minced or pressed

Mix everything but the fish together in a small bowl.  Place the fish in a shallow dish or a Ziploc bag.  Pour the marinade over the fish and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.

Preheat your grill to 375 (medium, medium-low).  Tear off a square of aluminum foil (make sure it's big enough to make a packet around the fillet) and spray it with non stick cooking spray.  Place the fillet in the middle of the foil and seal into a packet.  Place on the grill and cook for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the fillet.  Remove from grill and let rest for 3 minutes.  Carefully open packet and enjoy!!

Orzo with Zucchini and Peppers
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (you could use any color pepper really)
1 small zucchini, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup orzo pasta
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the peppers and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the zucchini and saute another 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.

In a bowl, add the pasta, zucchini, and peppers.  Add the dried herbs and parmesan cheese; stir to combine.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Do duck fat fries really live up to their reputation?

A few months ago, I saw a short article in the Food Network magazine about duck fat fries and how they were all the rage now.  All the hippest restaurants were serving them, it seems.  I, personally, had never even heard of them until that moment, but my mouth instantly watered and I knew I'd have to figure out a way to try them sooner or later (fries are my guilty pleasure).  Well, that chance came a ton sooner then I ever expected it to!  Last night, Chris's good friend and his wife were kind enough to take us to an amazing restaurant, Chef Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak in Scottsdale, AZ.  Once there, you are blessed with a trio of duck fat fries (see picture above) with a trio of sauces (YAY SAUCES!!!).  The trio consists of Smoked Paprika and Mustard fries, Truffle Aioli fries, and Saffron and Garlic fries and the sauces consisted of a truffle aioli (our favorite all around the table), an onion ketchup and a smoked paprika sauce (I don't remember what that one was actually called though, sorry).

So were they good?  Did they live up to the hype I've been hearing?  Consensuses at the table?  Yes!  They were absolutely delectable!  I could have eaten a full order by myself and still asked for more and more and more.  They really were that good.  If you ever get the chance to try them..... DO IT! Do not let the chance slip by you.  I do believe that they were the best fries I have ever had, and I've eaten some amazing fries in my lifetime!!

On a side note, the rest of the meal was just as incredible, if not more so.  For dinner I feasted on prime beef short rib with horseradish puree and truffle mac & cheese.  YUMMMMM!!!! For dessert we all shared a molten chocolate cake and a mascarpone cheesecake.  OMG, I'm going to have to run 10 miles today....but oh was it all worth it!  I cannot even put into words how amazing this meal was.  My prime rib melted in my mouth, it was like butta!!  Chris had a WELL DONE steak that was also melt in your mouth good.. and it's hard to make a well done steak melt in your mouth, believe me!  I have to give a HUGE thanks to Don and Ginny for the wonderful experience they created for us!  You guys ROCK!

One last note.. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera with me, so I did not get pictures of our entire meal (which was so picture perfect, let me tell you)...these photos are courtesy of Bourbon Steak.  Ciao!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tequila Garlic Lime Steaks

Tequila?  Garlic?  Steak?  I mean, what's not to like here?  Add a Corona or Pacifico and ....mmmmm...mmmm...mmmm... watch out!  You'll be in love!  This is another recipe I happened to stumble across last summer (another of Guy's too by the way).  It's perfect by itself or slice up the steak and make fajitas with them (I've done both).  Either way, this is another must try!  As you can tell by the picture, I made a homemade steak sauce to go with it, but this steak does not need it, believe me.  It's just fine by itself. (lol, that reminds me of the movie National Lampoon's Vacation when Eddie says "I don't know why they call this stuff hamburger helper, it does just find by itself!" hehe  Love that movie)  I even over cooked the least to my taste...and it was still fantastic!  It's almost like you can't screw it up :)

Tequila Garlic Lime Steaks
Adapted from Guy Fieri, Food Network
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
juice from 5 limes
1/2 cup tequila
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 1/2 lbs chuck tender steaks

Place steaks in a resealable bag.  Pour all ingredients into the bag and seal.  Shake to combine and coat the steaks.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Preheat a grill to 400 degrees.  Remove steaks and discard the marinade.  Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 8-15 minutes on each side (or until cooked to your desired doneness), turning once.  Remove from grill and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Homemade Steak Sauce

Does it shock you that this saucy girl made a  homemade steak sauce?  No?  Good, then you've actually been reading my posts!  The flavor of this little concoction can best be described as part A-1, part Heinz 57 (love love love Heinz's soooooooooo good on french fries!!!).  Though that combination of flavors might not sound appealing to some, believe me, this is lick the spoon good sauce.  Ok, maybe not drink it straight from the bowl good, but good nonetheless.  What?  You've never drank left over sauce from the bowl?  Really? either, that's just ridiculous! Geez! ANYWAY.. as I was saying, Oh, yes, the's good, really really good: good enough you'll even want to dip your chicken nuggets into it!

Homemade Steak Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Let cool.  If you want a smooth sauce, strain to remove the garlic.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Garlic Cheese Bread

On very special occasions, Chris and I will venture to The Keg Steakhouse for dinner.  Our absolute favorite thing on the menu is their garlic cheese bread.  I know, right?  Going to a steakhouse mainly for their cheese bread...but this bread is good.  I mean really really good.  I mean highly addictive good.  After devouring it one night, I figured out that their secret ingredient was mayonnaise.  Ok, ok.. so it's not healthy, not even close, but it's garlic CHEESE BREAD.. it's suppose to be fattening and absolutely bad bad bad for you!  Anyway... I went home and tried to duplicate it as best as I could.  I was very pleased with the outcome.  It's creamy and garlicky and wonderful!  (Sorry I didn't get a picture of it cut, you'd be able to see all the creamy goodness, but I was hungry, I didn't want to wait..try this and you'll understand!)

Garlic Cheese Bread
1/2 a loaf of french bread, split into halves horizontally
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or minced
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
parsley, dried or fresh

Preheat the broiler of your oven.

Mix butter, mayo and garlic together.  Spread half the mixture on the cut side of the bread and place bread on baking sheet.  Broil until the bread is just starting to turn golden brown (keep an eye on it, not not let it get too toasted).  Remove from oven, spread the rest of the butter mixture on top of the bread, sprinkle with cheeses and return to oven (you can always add more cheese if its not cheesy enough for you).  Broil until the cheese has melted and the top is bubbly.  Sprinkle with parsley.  Cut into slices and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pasta Carbonara

YAY!!!  I finally did it!  I finally made Pasta Carbonara!!!  The WAY cooler thing about it is...I didn't screw it up!!!  WOOO HOOO!!!!

Ok, now that I've calmed down a bit....I have to pat myself on the back, I have been deathly afraid of making this dish in fear that I would scramble the eggs and ruin the dish.  Alas, this was an easier recipe then I imagined it to be.  I worried for no reason whatsoever!!  I deprived myself of this wonderful pasta creation out of a silly fear.  I tried something new, I succeeded, I am HAPPY!

If you have never had carbonara, you are missing out.  This pasta dish is made with bacon and cream and eggs.  Maybe it sounds like a strange combination, but it's heavenly, trust me!  The cream and egg combined with the heat of the pasta creates this amazingly, wonderfully creamy sauce.  And then of course there's the bacon....mmmmmmm.....what else needs to be said?

Pasta Carbonara
Adapted from Food & Wine
1 pound angel hair pasta (or spaghetti, or penne)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 slices bacon, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper
dash of dried parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the egg yolks and cream.  In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Do not drain grease.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the pasta to the skillet and cook, over low heat, tossing to coat.  SLOWLY (you must have patience or your will have scrambled eggs in your pasta) add the reserved pasta water to the egg yolk mixture.  Now, slowly add the mixture to skillet, stirring constantly to coat.  You should now have a creamy sauce.  Add the parmesan and season with pepper and parsley.  Toss to coat one more time, serve immediately!  Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pork Chops with Carolina Rub (psst...don't forget the sauce)

The best thing about this rub and can be used on chicken AND fish! Heck, the rub could even be used on steak and ribs!  I love versatile recipes like that!  They make me happy!!  And this recipe made me happy!  I think I did a little dance right after I took the first bite!  It was just this wonderful spicy bite with the sauce giving off a zing-y coolness.  The combination was perfect.

I used cayenne pepper in this rub, but if you want to keep the spice level down, use chili powder instead.  Personally, I love the spice, but I don't think I need to tell you that if you have been reading my blog for awhile now.

The sauce came out of my own kitchen.  Just a simple blend of mayo and mustard.  It is simple but could be used with any number of dishes...once again: versatile! YAY!!

Pork Chops with Carolina Rub & Mustard Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 center cut pork loin chops
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
non-stick spray
Mustard Sauce **recipe to follow**

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl.  Rub both sides of the pork chops with the rub.  Let stand in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Place the pork chops on a preheated grill rack that has been coated with non-stick spray.  Grill 4-5 minutes.  Turn pork; grill 2 minutes.  Brush 1 Tablespoon bbq sauce on each chop and continue to grill another 2-3 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.  Remove from grill and let stand 2 minutes before cutting into it.  Serve with Mustard sauce.  Enjoy!

(Nutritional information - 1 fillet:  185 calories; 6.9g fat; 24.6g protein; 5g carbohydrates; 65mg cholesterol; 477mg sodium; 0.8g fiber)

Mustard Sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon onion powder 
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 drops hot pepper sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerator until ready to serve.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Something about me that has nothing to do with food...

I'm a fire spinner.  Ok, in all honesty, I haven't actually spun real fire in over a year, but still...I use to pick up my practice poi once a night, so needless to say, I still spin.  Here's my story...condensed version:

Way back in 2005 :) I was at a fund raising event.  During the event, a group of fire spinners (also know as fire dancing or fire twirling) performed and I was in complete and utter awe.  Oh how they gracefully wielded that untamed creature: Fire!  I didn't waste a moment.  The minute they stopped spinning, I went up to the first person I saw and immediately (well, as best as I could despite how shy I am .. and that is another story for another time) asked them all about what they had just done.  A week later, I ended up at a party with a good friend of mine...and lo and behold...there were two of the fire spinners from the previous week, performing for this small party.  Long story short, a day later, I was actually being taught how to wield that same animal.  Two or three weeks later I was spinning actual fire for the very first time!  I took to it like....well, let's just say that it seemed to be what I was made for.  Ok, in all reality, I think it was just something that I was in love with, and believe me, I was no prodigy, it was just fun and fascinating and I spent hours upon hours learning all I could about it.  I had found my calling!

In my illustrious fire spinning career, I had a ton of ups and few really big downs.  I learned a lot about fire and about people.  I spun in front of 30,000 people once.  I never made more then $100 for a performance.  I burned three fingers on my right hand.  Singed my hair numerous times.  Got my picture in three newspapers.  Lost friends.  Lost I brows and eye lashes.  Gained a great set of arms....I could go on and on but the point is, I had good times and I had bad times and in the end, my spinning took me no where but right where I am the kitchen ...of course :)

After making a few bad decisions, life took me on a different path and I drifted from those that I loved to spin with the most.  Then life got even darker for me and I lost the drive to want to even light up. I would still spin at home, with head phones on, no fire, no audience, no group to learn from…but even that became old and tiresome.

That was the case, until last night.  Last night I picked up my practice poi for the first time in about 4 months or more.  Oh did they feel good!!! I spun so long and so intensely, that four of my fingers are now carrying large, painful blisters.  I went to bed last night with my arms on fire and my back in knots.  But oh my goodness, what a great feeling it was!  I remembered my passion, I remembered my love, I remembered my desire, I remembered spinning again….

So here I am, telling you this story just because it felt like something I wanted to share with you all.  It's something that means a lot to me, and I'm hoping last night sparked my drive for wanting to do it more and more.  My goal is to spin actual fire for my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew when they come to visit in June.   If that's the case, I'll hopefully get some updated pictures, and I'll post them for you!

Well, hope you all have a fantastic weekend!  Maybe you'll be inspired to do something you've put aside for awhile and find the same joy I did last night!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Vanilla Ice Cream

I was contemplating on whether or not to purchase Madagascar vanilla beans from my local spice store when, as luck would have it, I won a kick ass giveaway from Michelle (All Home Cooking. All Year Long) and it included not just one but THREE of those exact vanilla beans.  My contemplation behind me, I got one killer idea.  Why not use one of those beans and make vanilla ice cream!!!  YAY!  What a great idea are a genius!  And it doesn't stop there...I not only got to use this wonderful vanilla bean but I also got to use some amazingly good vanilla extract:  Michelle's very own, homemade pure vanilla extract!! with these two fantastic ingredients, I knew right away I was going to make a batch of vanilla ice cream.  This recipe is simple.  That's all you need to know.  There are no eggs involved, so the process is quick.  There are 5 ingredients.  Uhmm...yea... simple, see.  I will admit to you, though, this was the first time I've ever actually had to use a real vanilla bean.  I was worried about scraping out the little seeds, but it really wasn't that tough.  I would suggest putting the bean on top of some wax paper, though.  That way you can drop the little amounts of the seeds on there and then just transfer right to the pot.  They tend to stick a bit to your fingers and you don't want to loose anything...that's good stuff you'd have to wash down the sink!!  Also, don't throw away that precious pod either.  Put it in a jar with an air tight lid and cover with sugar for homemade vanilla sugar.  Place the pod in your coffee container to add a bit of a vanilla flavor to your morning blend.  The point is, don't let them go to waste!

The ice cream came out perfect!  This was by far our favorite ice cream so far!!  It's pure decadence.  Creamy and rich.  It's almost sinful.  ALMOST!!

Vanilla Ice Cream
Recipe courtesy The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
3 cups heavy cream (or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk)
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pour 1 cup of cream into a medium saucepan and add sugar and salt.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot.  Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream and vanilla extract.  Chill the mixture in the refrigerator thoroughly (I let mine sit in there for over 4 hours).  When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving for another use.  Mix ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufactures instructions.  Enjoy....oh and you will!!!
This is what it looked like right from the ice cream maker.....perfect!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tilapia in Olive Oil & Garlic

I have not had the best of luck with fish recipes lately.  They have been hit or miss and mostly misses.  One night I couldn't get a good picture of the dish I made, another night it just wasn't really appetizing, another night it was just nothing special....oh wait, that's what this one was.  Unfortunately, this fish was nothing special..I can say that because it's a recipe I created...BUT that does not mean it wasn't good.  It was good, it just wasn't...well, it wasn't anything to "write home about".  If you make it, though, you CAN make it better!!  I think if you let the fish soak in the oil and garlic a longer period of time, the flavor might be better.  It's not bad though, it just lacked in that old flavor department.  I think adding a little lemon would help "kick it up a notch", as Emeril would say.  I added those changes to the recipe I'm posting.  

Regarding the lemon:  You can squeeze the juice on each fillet OR (and this is my recommended way) you can slice it and lay the slices on top of each fillet.  You can easily cook this fish in the oven or on the grill.  I love the grill, so that's how I wrote the recipe...but if you want to use your oven, preheat it to 400 and bake 12-15 minutes.  (Before you do that though, you'll want to put the fillets in a Ziploc bag, pour the olive oil and garlic over and let marinate for 30min-1hour.)

Tilapia in Olive Oil & Garlic
4 Tilapia fillets
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
8 teaspoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Italian Herb Seasoning
1 lemon, sliced into 4 or 8 slices

Tear off 4 squares of foil large enough to make a packet around each fillet.  Spray with non stick cooking spray.  Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.  Place one fillet on each square of foil.  Drizzle each fillet with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and one minced or pressed garlic clove.  Sprinkle with Italian Herb seasoning.  Lay the lemon wedges on top of each fillet and seal foil into packet.  Let marinate at least 30-45 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat grill to 350 degrees.  Place the foil packets on the grill and cook 12-14 minutes, turning once.  Be careful removing the fish from the grill and from the foil packet.  Serve with tarter sauce or lemon aioli. Enjoy!