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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chimichurri Chicken Pita Pizza

Chris and I loved the Chimichurri I made recently, so much that I decided to make pizza with it!  It was like my Chicken Pesto Pizza, only different.  (Yes, I can say that because this is my blog dang it!)  I used the chimichurri as the base/sauce of the pizza.  That garlicky flavor just added the most amazing flavor to every bite.  What was nice about using a base with so much flavor, the pizzas really didn't need much else.  Simple grilled chicken and cheese...and it was perfect!  Let's be honest, it would have been good with just cheese!!  I used pitas because I love how they hold up on the grill and it just simplified the whole process (I haven't had the best of luck with pizza on the grill this year!!).  Nice thing about truly is a can add whatever kind of cheese, whatever kind of toppings you want.  I kept it simple though, because I knew I wanted the chimichurri base to be the star of the show!

Chimichurri Chicken Pita Pizzas
Printable Recipe 
4 pitas
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 1 large)
Chimichurri (recipe makes 1/2 cup)
1-2 cups shredded monterey jack or mozzarella cheese (depends on how cheesy you want your pizzas)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat your grill to medium.  Rub olive oil on both sides of the chicken breasts.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place chicken directly on the grill grates and cook 5-8 minutes on per side, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle (170 degrees F).  Remove from grill and let rest before thinly slicing.  Turn the grill down to low.

Brush both sides of the pitas with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the pitas directly on the grill or on foil on the grill.  Keep on eye on them, they won't take long at all, a minute or two, to brown up.  Remove from grill and brush the cooked side with the chimichurri sauce.  Top with sliced chicken and cheese and return to the grill.  Grill until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  You may need to take the pitas off the direct heat if the bottoms are getting too brown.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sweet Pepper Olive Puree over Penne and Chicken

Way, way, WAY back in 1999, I purchased a cook book by Rose Reisman called Sensationally Light Pasta & Grains .  I am pretty sure that I have not made one single recipe from it, until now.  Don't ask me why it took me so long to actually make one of these recipes, it just did (so many recipes, so little time is my theory).  I will say, I'm sorry that I waited so long.  You may know by now, that I have a love for pasta.  I really could eat it every day, three times a day, but I know the health consequences of that, so if I can find healthier pasta dishes, I'm a happy happy girl!  And this, this is a healthier recipe for sure.  And talk about tasty...oh yea, I brought some leftovers to work and 5 people walked into the kitchen and complimented the smell alone!  Oh, yea, I love it when people compliment my makes me feel like somewhat of a rock star... a kitchen rock star that is!

Sweet Pepper Olive Puree over Penne and Chicken
Adapted from Rose Reisman's Sensationally Light Pasta & Grains
Printable Recipe 
2 large red bell peppers
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil
1/2 cup sliced black olives
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 large cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 box (13.25 oz) whole grain penne pasta
grated parmesan cheese

In a preheated grill or a nonstick skillet (add a little oil if you do it this way), cook chicken over medium high heat, turning once, for 12 minutes or until cooked through; slice thinly.

While the chicken is cooking, grill (or you can do this under the broiler) the peppers for about 20 minutes or until charred on all sides.  Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit for 10 minutes.  Peel, stem and seed the peppers.  In a food processor, combine peppers, black olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and pepper; pulse a few times to break up the garlic.  Now add the basil and puree. You can add more oil at this time if the puree is too thick.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions; drain.  Pour puree over the pasta and toss to combine.  Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

(Nutritional information: 330 calories; 17g fat; 19g protein; 27g carbohydrates; 446mg sodium; 48mg cholesterol; 6g fiber)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tag --- Now I'm it!

Wednesday evening I was checking out a few blogs before I turned off my computer and I happened upon the Food Floozie's site.  She had been tagged by a fellow blogger and had to answer 8 questions.  They were good questions too, with great answers. (click here to read them all.)  As I got to the bottom of her post, she asks 8 other bloggers 8 new questions...and guess what?  I was one of them.  I thought to myself, "I wonder if I can pretend I didn't visit her site???" lol  Seriously, though, I'm happy to answer any questions she throws my way...even if it means not posting a recipe today :) 

Here are my instructions: I get to answer the 8 questions that Mary has asked me. Then I pick 8 unsuspecting friends and ambush them with 8 questions of my own ... I know, I know, it seems unfair, but hey, that's life... plus, it's all in fun, right?  So here are the questions Mary has asked:

1. What item of yours has the most sentimental value, and why?
   This box:
It's not the box that is the most sentimental, it's what's inside:
My dad gave this to me a few years ago.  It is full of things from his father, my mom's father, and of course from him.  Little things like pocket watches and cuff links and coins.  It means a lot to me for so many reason, but one in particular is the fact that I never had the pleasure of meeting either one of my grandfathers.  They both died before I was born.  I would have liked to have met them both, they were amazing men.  And of course, theres my about amazing.  That man let me survive my teenage years...he is a saint!!  (not to take anything away from my mother, mind you...she's an amazing woman and a saint too!)  Anyway, these are just mere trinkets to some, but to me, they are part of who I am.
2. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
  When Jack Nickleson said to me "You make me want to be a better man"....oh, no wait.. he actually said that to Helen Hunt... sorry, my bad!! hehehe  Seriously, though, anyone who knows me really well, knows that I don't take compliments very well.  There was a point in my life where I did not feel like I deserved them at all and would fumble out some excuse why I really should not have been complimented in the first place.  It's been only recently that I can sit back and bask in the glory of a good this is a hard question for me to answer... To me, the best compliments I receive are from my loyal readers every day....maybe that's a cheesy way to answer but hey, I like cheese...  mmmmmmm....cheese!!!!

3. What did you want to be when you grew up?
   First I think I wanted to be a truck driver, then I think I wanted to be Olivia Newton John, but there was a point where I wanted to actually be a physical therapist....  I guess what I'm saying is I'm still not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up!!

4. Do you love or loathe family get-togethers?
   I love love love them.  I don't care how crazy things can's my family and I love them all.  I think living so far away has made me realize just how important being together really is.

5. What is your favorite breakfast?
   A big warm homemade cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing...oh, and don't forget the coffee with flavored cream, preferably cinnamon bun...hehehe!!!

6. Where were you born?
   Essex County, New Jersey...that's right....I was a Jersey girl for about 6 months :)  My parents were both raised in NJ.  They were actually neighbors when they were little kids.  My dad has home video that his parents took when he was a kid....and there's my mom! lol

7. What is your favorite holiday?
   Halloween.  I love it.  I've loved it since I was a kid, I love it still.  This is a the first year in a long time that I have lived in a house where kids come and trick-or-treat.  I love seeing what kids dress up as.  I was a bit disturbed by the amount of teenagers that were doing it though.  Oh well, I'd do it too if I knew I could get away with it!!  I never considered it a spooky day, just a fun day where you get to dress up and beg for candy, what kid wouldn't love that???
8. What are you going to do for yourself today to make yourself happy?
   Simple:  Eat a piece of chocolate!

Now, for my questions (this was a lot easier to come up with then the answers! lol):
1. If you could be someone/anyone for 1 day, who would it be and why?

2. Who or what inspires you the most?

3. If you had only one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite dessert?

5. What is the first thing you notice about people when you meet them?

6. What is your favorite season and why?

7. If you knew today was your last day on Earth, how would you spend it?

8. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?

Now, the poor unsuspecting bloggers....sorry, y'all, but life stinks and then you get tagged :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grilled Parmesan Chicken

(Day 2 of the "have you ever" posts.....)  Have you ever had "that" feeling before?  You know, that feeling that something just isn't going to go right with a recipe you are trying out.  That feeling of, "this is going to stick like hell to the grill grates and I'm gonna have a mess on my hands"....??  Ever have THAT feeling?  Well, I have had that feeling and that feeling was solidified by the actual mess that I did end up having on my hands.  It wasn't unmanageable, mind you, it was just a mess.  Let me explain.  I saw this recipe in one of my cookbooks quite awhile ago.  I'm trying hard to actually pull out at least one or two recipes from my cookbooks each week, so I figured I'd try something out of Mark Bittman's, How to Cook Everything.  This one was the first recipe that caught my eye when I first went through the book.  As I was mixing everything together I realized....this is going to make a mess on the grill....I must keep an eye on it...cannot have flare ups...will ruin dinner... 

Despite the slight mess it did make on my grill, this chicken was outstanding!  I think that the lemon flavor actually came out more then the parmesan, but it was not disappointing at all.  I actually doubled the recipe and saved half of it to use as a dipping sauce (mmmmmmmmm...sauce!!!) just gave it that much more of a wonderful parmesan flavor.

Grilled Parmesan Chicken
Adapted from Mark Bittman's, How to Cook Everything
Printable Recipe 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

Mix together the mayo, lemon juice, parmesan, and pepper.  Place chicken in a shallow baking dish and cover both sides with mayo mixture.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours.

Preheat grill to medium.  Rub oil on grates.  Place chicken directly over the heat and cook for 5-10 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, turning only once.  Be sure to keep an eye on this, it can flare up quickly, due to the fat in the mayonnaise.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Roasted Garlic Rigatoni with Peppers and Basil

Well our summer vacation has finally come to a close.  Last night Chris and I went to see Asia in concert.  Yep, that's old are we?  Well, not as old as most of the people there...hehehe...honesty, though, I had a really good time.  Those old dudes still got it. WOW! Steve Howe (guitar) and Carl Palmer (drums) made the show.  They were absolutely amazing to watch.  Anyway...I guess it's back to the normal, sleep, work, blog...I love my life!!

Have you ever thrown something together, half expecting it to be just ok and it turns out to be delicious and then you realize you don't even remember the exact ingredients OR the amounts... and of course you didn't even bother to write it down?  If it doesn't happen to you...I envy you.  This is an occurrence that happens more times then I'd care to admit. We even have a dry erase board right on the fridge just for times when I need to write something like that down...dang it if I don't get carried away with the cooking and forget to do the writing....I think I need an assistant in the kitchen.  Any volunteers??  :)

Anyway, this is a simple dish... I roasted my garlic and peppers on the grill, but you could do them in the oven...or even in a dry non stick skillet (or cast iron would work too).  Honestly, you could dice up the peppers and mince up the garlic and throw them in a pan with a bit of olive oil...saute those bad boys!!  Either way, it will basically taste the same!

Roasted Garlic Rigatoni with Peppers and Basil
Printable Recipe 
8oz rigatoni
3-4 garlic cloves
red bell pepper
1 lemon, juiced
2-4 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2-3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat grill to medium.  Roast the peppers directly on the grill until charred (about 10-15 minutes).  Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Peel, stem, and seed the peppers; cut into strips or dice.

Wrap the garlic cloves in aluminum foil and in an area of indirect heat (so the top little grate, or over burners that are off) and let roast for about 10 minutes.  Remove from aluminum and remove skins from cloves; mince.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package.  Drain.  Toss with garlic, peppers, lemon juice.  If too dry, add some olive oil and stir to combine.  Add the parmesan and the basil and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Trip to Oklahoma

Finally, as promised...The Trip!!!!
First off, I must talk about food....I mean that's what we are all here for, right?  The first night we arrived, we had burgers - wonderfully seasoned and nicely shaped, thanks to Jenifer (Chris's sister-in-law)...simple enough :)  Wednesday night we had some amazing sausage lasagna - (huge) thanks to Kathy (Chris's step-mom) for that task! I could just kick myself for not getting a picture of it!!!  Grrrrr...  Saturday, we were treated to dinner (thank you Ed (Chris's dad) and Kathy!) at a quaint little bbq place called "My Place BBQ".  Their ribs were to die for!  Saturday morning, Jenifer made us a fabulous breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon....and let's not forget the lemon bread she made AND the raspberry coffee cake she made.  Maybe she'll do a guest post for me one of these days :)  

And Friday night...Well, Friday night, Eddie (Chris's older brother) made these:


Yes, that's right... Terrific Man Tacos...and they truly were terrific!!!  Can you believe that those are corn tortillas AND that he did them on the GRILL???  That's right, I said GRILLED these tacos.  Now, I'm not sharing the recipe with you...not at this time anyway :)  I have been given the go ahead to create my own version of these bad give me a little time, my loyal readers and I will bless you with my best rendition of these tasty little treats!

Now, I must speak of the Inaugural Canterbury Grand Prix at Pistol Point Circuit!!  That's right, the first of many go-kart contests between brothers.  Who knows, maybe some day it will be more then just a go-kart???  Maybe you'll see these brothers riding along side the greats, like Jimmie Johnson or Dale Earnhardt Jr., or dare I say, Jeff Gordon??  lol  Ok, ok, so that's probably not where this will end up, but the point is, they had fun AND no one was seriously injured!

Here's Jason...he's the one that put this whole thing together.  Jason is the biggest race fan I have ever met.  He even created rules.... I mean you must have rules, right??

Here's the whole gang....from left to right - 
Eddie, Chris, Jason, Vincent, Josh, and Ed:
I think I can safely say that everyone had a fantastic time......

Everyone... :)

But in the end, there could be only one winner, and you'll never believe who it was....

That's right... my baby was CHAMPION!!!!  WOOT WOOT!!!

We played a lot, laughed a lot, drank a lot, ate a lot...we even dropped the keys to the boat in the lake AND got stopped by lake patrol....I would say that it was a successful vacation for sure!
(Sorry I don't have any recipes for you today...but don't worry, tomorrow I'll be back with something simple and delicious, cause that's how I roll, baby!!!!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf...and a really cool prize (for me)

The Saturday before we left for Oklahoma, I baked, something I try not to do a lot of in the middle of the summer...believe me, it was pretty dang warm in our was 100% worth it!  I don't think that my swirl of cinnamon turned out as well as it could have, but the end product was scrumptious and that is really all that counts right?  I found this wonderful recipe on One Perfect Bite.  I so love Mary's site.  I love her recipes, I love the stories behind the recipes, I love the fact that she even visits my blog!!  I've said this before and I'll say it again, Mary is like a celebrity around the blogsphere, so I am honored that she takes time to visit my site!  Anyway, back to the loaf.  OMG, it was moist and buttery and made our house smell so, as I said, worth heating up the house for!  I could eat this loaf for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, AND dessert.  Have I mentioned I really, really loved it?

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf
As made in the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
Printable Recipe 
Cinnamon Swirl
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

2) To make cinnamon swirl: Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

3) To make batter: Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl. Set aside. Cream butter until light in bowl of an electric mixer on high speed. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until mixture is very light and fluffy. With mixer set to medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. With mixer set on low speed, alternately beat in dry ingredients and sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Beat only until combined.

4) To assemble: Spoon half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining batter and cinnamon sugar. Drizzle butter over top. To form swirl, cut through batter with a knife several times.

5) To bake: Bake until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen sides from pan and carefully invert onto a rack and gently flip to turn right-side up again. Cool completely before serving. Yield: 1 loaf.

Ok.. now the really cool prize: I am so excited, I can't even wait until I receive it to tell you all about it...but... drum roll please..........................!!!!!  I received an email last night from Chris at Nibble Me This letting me know that I had won his August giveaway!  The kick ass part about this all...the giveaway was for a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker!!! I WON I WON I WON!!! (as Chris quoted a line from one of our favorite movies, A Christmas Story: It's a Major Award!!!) OMG, I can't tell you all how excited I am to receive it.  Chris must think I'm such a dork, all I could do was stumble out a few words that didn't quite make a whole lot of sense but eventually spelled out THANK YOU!!!  Now, all I need to do is practice patience and wait for it to get here!!!  Thanks so much to Chris....if you have never been to his site, please stop by...if you think I have some fantastic grilling recipes, you'll be blown away by his!!  (Sorry, gotta do another Homer Simpson impression: WOOHOO!!!!)  By the way, if you want a chance to win your won electric smoker, check out BBQ Grail, Larry started the second phase of this giveaway last night!  Go there now!!!!  HURRY!!!

P.S.  I had every intention of writing up a post about our trip, but I was so excited about my winnings that I lost track of time and didn't get to it yet...Practice patience with me, and you will rewarded!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grilled Ranch Chicken

We are back!!!  I so love going on vacation, but it's always good to be back home!  We had a fantastic time....oh the stories I have to tell and the pictures I have to show...BUT...those will have to wait. I was completely exhausted last night, so much that I didn't even take the camera out to look at the pictures we took.  I'll be posting things about the trip later this week (hopefully tomorrow)...for now,  you can enjoy a quick meal that I made right before we left.

I know that using a packet of the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix is probably not the best thing for us....I know what the ingredients consist of...but I came home from work not feeling like doing too much and well, I was out of one of the ingredients for the dish I was actually wanting to make (the curse of bad grocery planning...grrrrr), so this is what I came up with instead.  It was easy and it was fantastic.

Chris has a love affair with ranch dressing.  (I try not to get too jealous!!)  He swears that you can put ranch on anything and it would be wonderful.  He's even been known to dip a brownie in a little.  Please don't judge him, you know that there are about half of you out there reading this that have wondered what it would taste like.  He says it was wonderful.  Personally, I'd rather dip my chocolate in chocolate, but to each his own, right?

Now all I did was sprinkle the mix onto the chicken, but if you had mayonnaise (which was the ingredient I was out of) you could mix it with that and then slather it on the chicken.  I'm just betting that would work even better.  So go ahead, experiment...make this the best ranch chicken you can.  I stuck with simple because of the mood I was in and the lack of ingredients I had in my kitchen, but you can get creative and know you want to!!!

Grilled Ranch Chicken
Printable Recipe 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix
olive oil
black pepper

Place chicken in a shallow dish.  Rub olive oil over both sides and sprinkle with the seasoning mix.  Let sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat your grill to medium.  Brush the grill grates with olive oil and place the chicken on the grates.  Grill for 5-10 minutes per side, turning only once, or until the chicken is cooked through (165-170 degrees). Remove from grill and enjoy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beer Brined Pork Chops with Cheddar

***I've actually been saving this recipe, knowing I'd need to fill a day or two while I was here for you today, a meal I made about a week before we was to die for!  "See" you all on Monday!!***

You had me at beer, dear old Better Homes & Gardens... BUT... I stayed for the cheddar!!!  Yes, my friends, this is a BEER (mmmmmm....beeeeeerrrrr - in my best Homer Simpson impression) brined pork chop topped with CHEDDAR CHEESE!!!  No, don't go away, it's just getting good... stay... sit will not be sorry.

The original recipe called for white cheddar cheese, so I ventured out to the store to retrieve said ingredient.  As I was walking through the frigidly cold cheese aisle (I swear to you, it's like 40 degrees in there sometimes), my eyes scanned the few choices I had in front of me....  Sharp white cheddar...mmmm, yes, sharp, that will do... But wait.... white cheddar...mmmm, yes that is what the recipe called for anyway... WAIT!....stop the boat...look up THERE...yes, do you see that???  Chipotle White Cheddar Cheese..... OH YEAAAH BABY!!  I snatch it off the shelf and dart to the check out as fast as I can.  And, let me tell you, I am so very glad that I used this cheese.  It just added a nice smokey (cheesy, don't forget cheesy) flavor to the pork chops.  The walnuts gave it a great crunchy texture.  I can't hold back any must be said.... THIS WAS HEAVENLY!

Beer Brined Pork Chops with Cheddar
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, Grillin' & Chillin' Cookbook
Printable Recipe 
4 bone-in pork loin chops, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch thick
1 12oz bottle of honey wheat beer
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 oz. chipotle white cheddar cheese (or white cheddar, or even plain cheddar would work)
2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Place pork chops in a resealable bag in an extra large bowl. In a small bowl, combine beer, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Pour over pork and seal bag.  Marinate in refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.  Drain pork chops, discarding marinade.

Preheat grill to medium.  Brush grill grates with oil.  Place pork directly on grill grates and cook 5-8 minutes per side or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (normally you'd cook it to 160 degrees, but it's going to keep cooking when you put the topping on it so put the topping on 2-3 minutes before it's ready to take off the grill)

Meanwhile, for topping, in a small bowl, stir together cheese, nuts, and onions.  Carefully spoon mixture over the chops on the grill.  Cover and grill for 2 to 3 minutes more or until the cheese melts.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Blogger: Posole

***Soup might not be on a lot of people's minds this time of year, but this is a recipe that I wanted my guest blogger to share with you because it's something that might not make it across our table and I believe it's a very tasty recipe that needs to be shared.  Stephen The Obsessive Chef is our guest blogger today, bringing you a classic, traditional Mexican stew (or soup).  Big Thanks to Stephen for sharing...I hope you all enjoy!***

Every time I make posole I do it differently. My first posole post was way back to 9/30/08. I start with a list of what I have to contribute to it. This time it was some great big pork loin chops (on the bone) that were quite fatty. Trimming the fat and cutting the meat into ½” pieces was a start.

I had 1 pasilla pepper (a dried one) and a bag of the kind of dried red peppers you see ristras made from. Instead of rehydrating the peppers, I broke them up with my hands and extracted the seeds. Then I pulverized them in our spice grinder. All I needed to buy was an Anaheim pepper and some broth.

One problem cropped up: it was spicy, perhaps too spicy for Peter – perhaps too spicy for me, although my tolerance level is pretty high. The solution: after some thought I went out and bought a second can of hominy and added some more broth. Problem solved.


Recipe created by Stephen C., The Obsessive Chef 
Printable Recipe 
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ lbs cubed pork (from chops or shoulder)
½ medium onion, diced
1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 dried pasilla pepper, seeded and pulverized in a spice grinder
2 dried red Mexican peppers, seeded and pulverized
1 & 1/2 15 oz. can hominy, white or yellow, drained and rinsed
20 oz. or more chicken stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano

Heat the olive oil in a good-sized pot. Add the pork and stir to prevent sticking. Cook the pork, stirring often, until most of the pink has disappeared.

Add the onion and Anaheim pepper. Add salt and pepper and saute 4 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and dried peppers and stir. Saute 2 minutes.

Add hominy, thyme and oregano. Add enough chicken stock to get the consistency you want. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot and simmer slowly for 1 hour.

Check the pork for tenderness and let it go longer if you think it’s necessary. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

If you can make this a day ahead, that’s a good thing. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Guest Blogger: Wine, Garlic & Herb Chicken and Veggie Kabobs

***I promised guest bloggers and here they are!  Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Andrea the Kitchen Witch!  Andrea brings you an amazing kabob recipe...and guess what, she of course grilled them!!! YES!!!  So now it should feel like I'm not even gone!  Enjoy!***
Hi, I'm Andrea the Kitchen Witch, a guest blogger for Jenn.  I am honored and humbled to fill in for Jenn while she's on vacation.  I'm a self taught cook who uses as few processed goods as possible.  I have a no HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) or PHO's (partially hydrogenated oils, aka trans fats) kitchen, so anything that comes out of my kitchen has 3 guarantees:
  1. No HFCS
  2. No trans fats
  3. It will be delicious!
I hope you enjoy the recipe and take a moment to look at my blog.  If you like what you see, please click on FOLLOW or 'LIKE' Andrea the Kitchen Witch on facebook.  Thank you!

Wine herb chicken is a staple in the Kitchen Witch household.  Everyone loves it, including the 3 year old Little Witch.  Its fancy enough to serve to guests yet quick and easy enough for weeknights.  The flavors in the marinade enhance the chickens delicate flavor, taking it to a whole new level.  Using fresh herbs is preferred, especially now in the summer when they're readily available.  Sage, thyme, oregano and chives are very prolific in my garden this year, therefore they make themselves known at the dinner table often.  The herbal flavor is complimented by the white wine, garlic adds its own perfume and makes everything happy.

The vegetables I've used represent the best of what my garden and the farmers market had to offer.  Grilling the onions, peppers and zucchini really brings out the natural sweetness of the fresh veggies.  I also like the bright colors they bring to the plate, as well as all the nutrition they have to offer.  Kabobs are usually made around here when we've got a lot of 'use up' things, 1/2 a bell pepper, 1/2 an onion, a handful of mushrooms, wrinkly cherry tomatoes, etc..  After slicing the veg I like to toss it with oil and season with kosher salt & pepper.  Its a lot easier to do this before they're on skewers than it is after.

I've shown this grilled on a charcoal grill.  Gas is fine too.  Not a griller?  That's ok, you can pan sautee the chicken.  You may, however, wish to leave the thighs whole if you chose to pan saute it.  And if you do cook it indoors, please be sure to deglaze the cooking pan with 1/2 c white wine, reduce it by half then add 2T butter.  Swirl the butter in and enjoy one of the best pan sauces ever.  Anyway you cook it, this recipe is sure to please!

Wine, garlic & herb chicken and veggie kabobs

Recipe created by Andrea the Kitchen Witch

Printable Recipe
makes 4 servings
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 c white wine
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 handful fresh herbs - 4 sprigs each thyme & oregano, 8 sage leaves, about 15 chive stems
1/2 t kosher salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
1/2 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper and onion
1 medium size zucchini, sliced into 1 inch thick rounds
oil for drizzle
extra salt & pepper for seasoning veggies
about 8 bamboo skewers soaked for 30 min prior to skewering

In a zip top bag mix the white wine, olive oil, herbs finely minced, garlic, 1/2 t salt & pepper.  Mix well to incorporate. 

Slice chicken thin against the grain, about 1/2 inch thick.  Put chicken into the marinade making sure all pieces are evenly coated in the liquid.  Allow to marinate for 2-4 hours. 

30 minutes before the grill is ready, soak the bamboo skewers in hot water.  This will help them from burning as quickly on the grill. 

Slice veggies into skewerable sizes, about 1 inch approx.  Toss the veggies with a drizzle of oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Toss to coat evenly. 

Skewer chicken onto skewers, approximately 2 oz per skewer

Skewer the veggies separately, anchoring the bottom and top with zucchini rounds. 

Grill kabobs until chicken is browned and cooked through and veggies have nice color from the grill.  Enjoy with rice.

Nutritional Facts:
Calories: 172.6
Total Fat: 6.4g
Saturated fat: 1.4g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.3g
Monounsaturated fat: 2.9g
Cholesterol: 85.9mg
Sodium: 673.6mg
Potassium: 450.3mg
Total Carbohydrates: 5.8g
Dietary Fiber: 1.4g
Sugars: 2.0g
Protein: 21.2g

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lemon Grilled Chicken Breasts

Up early this morning...thinking about the flight...I don't like to fly.  I have a problem with motion sickness.  So bad, at times, that I actually get a little nauseous just riding the elevator up to my office on the 7th floor! Believe me, if I could take the stairs I would, but can you believe that you can't.  Well, you could, but the only doors that aren't locked from the stairwell are to the main lobby and the roof.  I believe somewhere that has to be illegal and if it's not, it should be!  But I digress...the flight, yes, that's what I was speaking of...Leavin' on a jet plane...oh god how I hate that song.  Can you tell I'm nervous?  I can't stay focused on one thing!  lol Ok, enough of my chaotic rambling...come back tomorrow to see what my first guest blogger has in store for you.  Have a fantastic week and create something new in your kitchen!!

I know I've done something similar to this one with the Lemon Pepper Chicken recipe, but this is definitely different enough for you to give it a try.  It's light, tart, and fresh...and of course, so very simple!

Lemon Grilled Chicken Breasts
Adapted from Tastes of Italia Magazine, June 2010
Printable Recipe 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground coarse salt, like kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix all ingredients together except the chicken.  Place the chicken in a resealable bag, pour the marinade over the chicken, and seal the bag.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat grill to medium high.  Brush vegetable oil over the grates of the grill.  Remove chicken from bag and place directly over the heat; discard marinade.  Cook the chicken about 6-8 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle.  Enjoy!

P.S...just a reminder, I will not have much internet access, so if you email me, please be patient, I will get back to you as soon as I can!  Ciao!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Parmesan Orzo with Salmon

First off...Chris and I are heading to Oklahoma tomorrow morning to visit his family.  All though I am looking forward to spending time with his amazingly, wonderful family, I am not looking forward to the humidity of the Oklahoma summer.  I don't really miss the days of taking a shower and never really being dry after that.  Lucky for us, his dad and step mom live on a lake, so there will at least be a place to get some relief from the heat and humidity!  There is also talk of go-kart racing....and not on a go-kart race track either!!  Don't worry, I'll be bringing my camera to document whatever crazy antics Chris and his three brothers come up with.  While I'm gone, you will still be graced with some tasty recipes.  I have the pleasure of having some amazing bloggers guest blog for check back and see what they have in store for you....believe me, you won't be disappointed!!  Oh...and I probably won't have very much access to a the internet while there, so if you email me, please be patient, I will answer you as soon as I can!

Now....regarding this scrumptious little dish:

I think I am going to start referring to orzo as the "Friday Night Special"!  It seems to be the thing I gravitate towards when Chris is not eating with me.  I'll blame him for this...if he would not dislike orzo so much, I could make it on a Monday or Wednesday!!  I tend to go with a fish he might not like either... are you seeing a Friday night trend here? :)

This was the perfect little meal for me.  I kept the salmon simple...the additions to the pasta were just left over items I had in my fridge.  The orzo was cheesy and smooth.  I ate this warm, but had it cold for lunch the next day and it was just as wonderful!

Parmesan Orzo with Salmon
Printable Recipe 
6oz salmon fillet
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper
3/4 cup orzo pasta
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup cucumber, diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Place the salmon on a large square of aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick oil.  Drizzle the lime juice over it.  Now drizzle honey over it, about 1/2-1 teaspoon.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Close foil around the salmon to form a packet.  Place on grill preheated to medium.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Add the orzo and cook according to package directions (about 8-10 minutes).  Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the stock.

Pour the orzo into a medium size bowl.  Shred or chop up the grilled salmon and add it to the orzo.  Add the cucumber, tomato, parsley, and parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.  Enjoy warm or cold!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Fried Butter Dance

On Thursday, I was browsing through some of my favorite blogs and Going Jane had a post about the Indiana State Fair.  Within the post she mentioned seeing signs for fried butter (among other unusual fried goodies).  That's right folks, I said FRIED BUTTER.  That little piece of text reminded me of this video I saw last year around this time.... I had to share it with you, I think it is hilarious.  If nothing else, just watch the video long enough to see the kid dance...

I do believe that those little fried nuggets of butter really would make you dance!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mini Meatball Subs

The universe wanted me to make meatballs.  I saw signs everywhere.  I saw Tyler Florence make his ultimate meatballs, I saw a show on The Cooking Channel that highlighted The Meatball Shop in New York, and of course the numerous blogs that have posted meatball recipes as of late.  Every time I saw one, I thought to really has been a long time since I made some to resolve that, I chose to make them, but not in the way I normally would.  For me, there really is nothing better then a big old plate of spaghetti and second favorite way to eat meatballs, is between two pieces of bread!  Now, I will say, I am picky about my meatball sandwiches.  I don't like really big meatballs....big meatballs mean big mess...big meatballs mean I'm bound to take a bite and have half of them squirt right out the bottom of the sandwich.  I like a manageable size meatball... like a one biter, two if you must.  Not that I wouldn't eat a big meatball sandwich, I'm just saying smaller is my preference.  And that, my friends, is how I came up with the name...MINI meatball subs!

Ok, now that we are all square on the size I like my balls (lol, oh come on, for those of you that truly know me, you aren't shocked by this statement at all... remember, I still giggle every time they say Super Duty on the Ford commercial!!)...  You know what, never mind, maybe I should just share the recipe :)

This recipe makes about 40 (3/4 to 1-inch diameter) smaller meatballs, but, really, go ahead and make them any size you want.  We had plenty for 3 sandwiches that night, 1 sandwich the next day, and still enough left to throw over one serving of pasta.

Mini Meatball Subs
makes about 40 - 3/4" to 1" meatballs
Printable Recipe 
For the meatballs:
1 lbs. ground sirloin
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs, plain or seasoned - your choice
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the subs:
Marinara sauce - store bought or homemade (see below for a speedy homemade sauce)
4 deli rolls (I like to toast mine, they get less soggy from the sauce that way)
Shredded mozzarella cheese (how much depends on how cheesy you want your sub)

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs.  I like to use my hands for's the easiest way to get everything incorporated.  Form into whatever size meatballs you prefer - Just remember, the bigger the meatball, the longer they will take to cook - and place in a shallow baking dish; do not crowd.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a saucepan, over medium low, heat the marinara sauce.

Place meatballs in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.  You can under cook them just a bit because they will continue to cook in the sauce.  Remove from oven and add to saucepan with sauce in it.  Let them simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Place the cooked meatballs and however much sauce you would like on the sub rolls.  Cover with mozzarella cheese....and devour!!

Simple Sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
15-20 leaves of fresh basil, chopped

In a large saucepan or deep skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic.  Let the garlic saute for 1-2 minutes (make sure it does not burn).  Add the crushed tomatoes and stir.  Season with salt, pepper, sugar, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the basil and simmer another 5 minutes.  Now it's ready for the meatballs!!