Monday, September 30, 2013

Savory Beef and Barley Stew

A Two for Tuesday Recipe 

One pot meals are a home cook's friend just like the slow cooker. There is one less pot/pan to wash, which to me is a huge hassle because pots and pans always weigh a lot for my little hands. One pot meals also usually mean some kind of soup or stew... which I love! This week I have a pretty neat stew recipe that is now one of my favorites. It's easy to prep and cook ... the hardest thing about this recipe is waiting for it to finish cooking! Although the meat is what makes this stew hearty, to me the star of this recipe is an overlooked ingredient: barley. It's delicious, filling, hearty and it's very good for you. Barley is a whole grain that helps with blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and fat. After the two hour cooking time of this recipe (the two hours seemed to drag on by as the aroma of this dish filled my nose and brain), after the dish was served and ready to eat I was shocked (pleasantly) at how tender the meat was. It was literally melt in your mouth bites of deliciousness. It was juicy, packed with flavor and I just wanted more. Each spoonful was a firework of flavor for your taste buds; a piece of meat, pieces of carrots, onion and celery, barley and of course my favorite pairing rice. I hope you enjoy this dish. Just remember to have patience as it's cooking because it is definitely irresistible!

Serves 4

2lbs chuck roast
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups beef broth
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp Herbs de Provance
2/3 cups dried barley

Deep-Fried Coconut Lime Baby Octopus

A Two for Tuesday Recipe 

If you like fried calamaris, I know you will like fried octopus. Personally, I think it tastes better, and if prepared right, it is way more tender. The coconut and panko coating give a nice crisp and crunchy texture and the lime livens up the flavors of the octopus and coconut. I like to serve this as an appetizer but you can easily make a light meal out of it served with a salad and a simple lime vinaigrette.

Serves 4 as an appetizer
or 2 as part of a meal or in a salad.

1/2 Pound baby octopus
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Large tablespoon coconut milk - the solid portion that is at the top of the can when you open it
Finely grated zest of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted finely grated unsweetened coconut flakes (instructions below)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg white beaten until frothy
peanut or canola oil for frying
Lime wedges

Stuffed French Bread with Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

In case you haven't noticed, I've got a thing for stuffed food, and if it's stuffed bread ... oh yeah, now we are talking! When I was developing the recipe for my Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Mustard Green Soup, the idea for this stuffed French bread was kicking around in the back of my brain. I tried a few variations and I still wasn't quite sold on it, until I added the ranch dressing and cream to the chicken. That's when I hit the flavor jackpot. One little adjustment and it took the stuffed bread to super amped up taste and it added the tangy, creamy touch it needed. The caramelized onions added the sweetness, the bacon the smokiness, the creamy ranch chicken was just that ... creamy and the cheese? Well it's cheese, does it really need any explanation or justification? I didn't think so! And you don't need to be a bread meister either, you get your bread dough at your local bakery and you are good to go. WARNING:  friends may start asking you bring this yummy stuffed bread to parties.

Serves 4 - 6

1 10 - 15 ounce ball of French bread dough (See recipe tip)
Flour for rolling out dough
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1 large vidalia onion, sliced in half moons
1/2 pack of center cut bacon, small dice (See recipe tip)
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups roughly shredded, roasted chicken (See recipe tip)
1 tablespoon ranch dressing
1/2 teaspoon of cream
1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg beaten

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cocco's Chicken Curry

A Two for Tuesday Recipe 

Seven years ago I landed in a foreign land called Japan ... Okinawa to be exact. It is the largest island south of Japan where the largest amphibious battle occurred during World War 2. Little history for ya! Authentic Japanese food does not compare to the food served here in the USA. There are some staples such as Yakitori, served as street food, but the menu usually consists of seafood and other items I did not recognize. However, there was one restaurant I dined in that was reminiscent of an American diner called Cocco's Curry House, where I had Cocco's Curry Chicken. The second you open the door you are blasted with the smell of curry. You can order it on any type of meat (I chose chicken) as well as the level of heat; it's served with white rice, and as odd as it may sound, it had melted cheese. It was absolutely delicious, and the crunch from the panko and the sauce slathered over top and the gooey melted cheese, just makes you hungry for more!  After the trip I HAD to recreate it and I couldn't believe how simple it was to make and that my adaptation captured it so well. With a little help from your local Asian market or Asian section of your supermarket, you too can create this authentic Japanese meal. It is very simple: panko, chicken breasts/cutlets and curry sauce. My recipe is for two people however you can certainly adjust the amount of chicken to the amount of people you are serving. Enjoy!

2 chicken breasts, halved
2-3 tablespoons flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Japanese panko
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 3.5oz box Golden Curry Mix
1 Polly-O string cheese (optional)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Creamy White Bean and Chicken Chili


A Two for Tuesday Recipe 

While it's still in the 90's here in south Florida, I have been craving chili, not the usual red bean and beef variety but a lighter, paler, creamier version. And my creamy white bean and chicken chili is just the thing to calm that craving. You can make this chili stove top and you'll be diving in, in under 40 minutes or use your slow cooker (scroll down for instructions) and have the warm, homey scent of the simmered beans, chicken and earthy spices greet you at the door, after a long day at work. All the work is done, and all you need to do is grab a bowl and a spoon to dig in.

Serves 4-6

2 white corn tortillas, chopped
1/2 cup of cream or milk
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 or more jalapeño (or chili of choice), white membrane removed and seeded*, finely diced.
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 ounces of tequila
1 lime juiced
1 quart chicken stock
2 cans green chilies
3 151/2 oz cans of white bean*, undrained, set aside 1/2 can
1 can of corn, undrained
2 cups of cooked and cubed chicken breast*
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Palm full of cilantro, chopped (or to taste)

Easy Does It Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

A Two for Tuesday Recipe

Generally speaking, I do not keep junk food in the house, especially chips. So, if I am in the mood for tortilla chips and I have corn tortilla, I am in good shape and I make them myself. These are very easy and simple to prepare and are baked not fried. I actually prefer them to the fried version, because they hold up better and don't turn to mush in chilies or soups. Serve them with your favorite salsa or use in a salad or crumbled into chili like my Creamy White Bean and Chicken Chili. Personally, one of my favorite way to enjoy these chips is with a dollop of crema, one cilantro leaf and a drop or two of habanero hot sauce. It's the perfect little bite!

1 package of white corn tortillas
Cooking spray or 1/4 cup canola oil
Coarse kosher or sea salt

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mini Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Chicken, Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Sometimes you want or rather crave a big plate of baked, cheesy, saucy goodness that generally comes from a baked pasta dish, but you don't want the overload of carbs that go with it. My Mini Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Chicken, Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes tackles that craving head-on without weighing you down with carbs. The mini peppers are sweet, the chicken filling is creamy and gets a nice zip from the green onions and a tang from the goat cheese. They are baked in a cheese sauce that incorporates just a bit of the filling and then sprinkled with gruyere cheese. It satisfies that craving and doesn't leave you feeling ... stuffed.

Serves 4

For the stuffing:
1 pound of chicken breast (raw), cut in small chunks or you may use ground chicken
6 green onions, white and green parts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
10-15 mini sweet peppers

Remove tops of each pepper, remove seeds and veins. Set aside. Place the chicken breast chunks in the bowl of a food processor. (If using a mini food processor work in batches). Process until it is almost a smooth paste. Set aside.
Do the same for the green onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Add to chicken.
Add the remaining ingredients except for the peppers, to the chicken. Mix well so that all the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside 1 cup of the filling. Using a piping tip and bag or a heavy duty zip bag, with a corner snipped off, generously fill each pepper. Lay the peppers, in rows, in an 8x8 greased baking dish.

For the sauce and assembly:
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk (avoid using skim milk)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup of reserved chicken filling
2 ounces room temperature goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a sauce over medium heat melt the butter and then add the flour. Stirring well to incorporate, cook for 2-3 minutes, lower heat to avoid scorching. Slowly whisk in milk, until the roux - flour and butter mixture - is incorporated. As milk starts to thicken, add in all the remaining ingredients except the gruyere cheese.
Once sauce is thickened, pour over the stuffed mini peppers. Sprinkle the top with the gruyere cheese. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes to allow the sauce and cheese to firm up just a bit.

Serve with egg noodles, steamed green beans or a light romaine and arugula salad and a glass of white wine. ENJOY!

Recipe tips:
This tip came from a reader.  If you like a crunchy crust run it under the broiler for a minute or two. Do be sure to keep any eye on it to avoid burning.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baking Soda as a Tenderizer

Did you know that baking soda can be used as a meat, chicken, pork or shrimp tenderizer? Yes, that's right ... a tenderizer. It's an old trick that is used in many Asian restaurants and was quite popular back in the 50's and 60's of mainstream America.

Ever notice how Chinese restaurants get even the toughest cuts of meat to a level of tenderness no amount of mallet pounding could ever achieve at home? Or how the shrimp has an almost "velvety" texture to it? You can get the same results at home using their secret ... baking soda.

Now, let me make it clear, this works only on small bite size pieces of meats, like for stir-fry, pepper steaks, fajitas, etc.  This is NOT to tenderize a thick steak or a hunk of meat. It just won't work. It will make the surface mushy and that's not a good thing. At least that has been my experience.

After reading this you may ask "so why not just buy a better cut of meat? The honest answer is ... not everyone can afford to buy tenderloin, sirloin, skirt steak or chicken tenderloins, to make a stir fry or in a recipe that uses small strips of meat. I know I can't always spend the extra bucks and quite frankly, I'd rather use those cuts in other recipes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quick & Easy Asian-Style Ground Beef Stir Fry


A Two for Tuesday Recipe 

I enjoy Asian food or should I say Asian-American food. It is tasty food but it is also usually very simple to make and most importantly cooks up fast! As you know, I love simple and fast meals that I can make during the week. Unfortunately, I do not have a wok and if you don't either, no worries, any skillet will do fine. What I like about stir fry dishes is that you can customize them to your liking by adding as many or as little vegetables/ingredients as you want. Most stir fry's are made with chicken or beef but this recipe is unique in that it is with ground beef, one of my favorite cuts of beef. It cooks fast, it's cheap, it's versatile and always delivers in taste. Take this stir fry recipe and add to it, build on it. If I were to repeat the recipe I would add bean sprouts and broccoli. You can add mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, bok choy, anything you like! Have fun with it. The serving amount is enough for dinner and tomorrow's lunch... you know, the lunch that will make everyone else jealous at work!

Serves 4

2 cups white rice
1lb Ground Beef
4 eggs, beaten
2 tbs sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tbs soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger
pinch salt

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Red Wine Braised Italian Sausage in Spicy Tomatoes, Olives & Capers

A Two for Tuesday Recipe    
Sometimes I fall into a rut with Italian sausages and go with the usual sausage with onion and peppers. Not that there's anything wrong with that but I needed a change! And that is what led me to developing this recipe. I braised the sausages in red wine until the wine completely evaporated and started to crisp up the skin. The sausages take on the deep color of the wine and are then simmered in a spicy tomato, olive and caper sauce. Was it good? Nope ... it was mouth-watering! The Hub, had seconds and he's my  "this stuff is good" barometer ... if he's having seconds I know it's a home run.

Serves 4

1 pound Italian sausage
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a press
1/4 cup of drained non-pareil capers, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of drained kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 pounds of roma tomatoes, diced or 1- 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, including juice
1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 dried thyme
I bay leaf
2 pinches of sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste (If you don't like heat just leave it out)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound linguine or pasta of choice

Monday, September 16, 2013

Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Mustard Greens Soup


Soup's on and this week I am taking advantage of the bounty from my vegetable & herb garden. Thyme, tomatoes and mustard greens gathered to make one of my favorite comfort foods ... roasted tomatoes, garlic and mustard greens soup. I start by roasting two type of tomatoes, Romas, because of their meatiness and Camparis for their intensely deep, sweet tomato flavor, along with two garlic heads. After roasting, the tomatoes and garlic are simmered in a vegetable broth with vidalia onions, fresh thyme, and of course, the peppery bite of mustard greens. Comfort food at its best is right here waiting to be ladled into big deep bowls with a big, crusty, toasted baguette for dunking.

Serves 4 - 6

To roast the tomatoes:
Olive oil to drizzle
1 pound of Roma tomatoes
1 pound of Campari tomatoes
2 heads of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Friday, September 13, 2013

How to Make the Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

You'd think that something so basic as a hard-boiled egg needs no instructions, right?  WRONG! Sometimes the most basic of things, are the ones we can't seem to remember or get right.

Every so often, my daughter, Eryka, will call or text me asking me the same old question. "Mom, how do you make hard-boiled eggs again?" And "patiently", I give her the instructions ... again. So, I decided I would post it on the blog for her and anyone else,who is never quite sure how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs. With this simple method, I promise, no funky green ring around the yolk, no chalky yolk - only a soft creamy yolk - and no uber-rubbery white. +Eryka Larena, my sugarplum, this blog post is dedicated to you! Scroll down to the end of this post to see a graphic step-by-step depiction of How to Make the Perfect Hard-boiled Egg in 5 steps.

12 grade "A" eggs, free-range preferably
1 Tablepoon Vinegar
1 deep pan
Deep bowl with iced water

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lemony Tuna Egg Salad Stuffed in Whole Wheat Pita

I confess I have been in a very long love affair for more than 30 years. A love affair that started in elementary school with tuna fish sandwiches. When I was in elementary school my parents owned a small restaurant and a few times a week my mom would deliver my favorite lunch ... tuna fish sandwich! Chef Rosie, the restaurant's chef, made what I thought was the best tuna fish sandwich on earth. I wish I could recreate her recipe but I no longer remember the taste only the memory.
Fast forward to 2013 and I still love tuna fish sandwiches, only now I've taken it to a new level. This tuna recipe uses hard-boiled eggs, quick pickled shallots and preserved lemon to amp up the flavor. The romaine and radishes, used in the sandwich, give it a nice crunch and a peppery bite that go nicely with the tuna and it's ingredients. I prefer using Spanish or Italian tuna packed in olive oil. Yes, it is a bit pricier than regular tuna, but the flavor and texture are worth the investment. Regular canned or pouch tuna are fine too, just be sure to buy a good quality brand of tuna at your local market.

Serves 4

12 1/2 ounces of canned tuna*
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 stack celery, finely minced
Palm full of celery leaves, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely minced, steeped in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar (do not drain when adding to tuna)
1/2 preserved lemon, finely minced. (If you don't have preserved lemon, you can substitute with grated  zest of one lemon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
Salt** & pepper to taste
Romaine leaves
Radishes, thinly sliced
Whole wheat pitas, halved, lightly toasted

Mix the first eight ingredients together. Refrigerate overnight or 4 hours to allow flavors to develop.

Line one side of the pita with romaine or your green of choice

Stuff each pita with tuna salad

On opposite side, slide in radishes, from edge to edge.

Serve with a romaine salad or a tomato soup. Also delicious served atop the humble saltine cracker or toasted baguette slices. ENJOY!

*Recipe notes:
I prefer, whenever possible, to either use Spanish or Italian tuna in olive oil.
** If you are using preserved lemon, use 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of the salty lemon brine they are preserved in - instead of salt.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cuban Fried Sweet Plantains - Plátanos Maduro Cubano

To go to a Cuban dinner and not find fried sweet plantains (a.k.a. plátanos maduros or maduros) at the table is almost like a slap in the face! It's expected, in some homes ... it's demanded, and some Cuban meals just "ain't right" if fried sweet plantains (maduros) are M.I.A.

Plantains are super versatile - they can be savory or sweet or a little of both. For more information about plantains see my post Simple Boiled Plantains. You are probably wondering how to pick out sweet plantains ... that's pretty easy. If the peel is yellow and has lots of black spots or sections, you got a winner.  There are some folks who prefer the plantain when it's almost all blackened. (This NOT rotted), and the plantain will be very, very sweet, almost syrupy. I prefer to have them at the yellow and black stage. It gives just the right amount of sweetness and texture, that complements the meal. Traditionally, plantains are fried in lard. You might be surprised to know that many Cuban foods were originally cooked or fried in lard. Since migrating to the U.S.A., Cuban have come to use less to no lard and have switched over to canola, olive or vegetable oils. It's a lot healthier, BUT I will say, plantains fried in lard are heavenly! Everyone has a favorite plantain that they have their eye once it's cooked, on the platter and sitting in front of them. And by that, I mean some folks like them a golden yellow, some a golden brown and some, like me , prefer the golden yellow with the crispy almost burnt edges (see photo). In my home, it has turned into a friendly fork fight at times, all in good fun of course. Cook up a batch and see what your family will do fork battle over!

Serves 4

3 - 4 Ripe plantains - yellow & black
1 cup canola or peanut oil

Peel your plantains by cutting each end and slicing down the length of the plantain. Slide you finger along the slit and gently peel off the skins.
Always slice your plantains on the bias.
In a stainless steel pan heat your oil until it reaches 375 degrees. Fry the plantains in batches so that the temperature stays at about 350 degrees. Turn over plantains as you see them start to darken. Depending on how ripe that plantain is how sweet and dark your cooked plantain will be.
As they cool, place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. You do not need to season them at all.

Serve with a traditional meal like Cuban Picadillo with white rice and Cuban Black Beans. ENJOY!

Recipe Notes:
Do not use olive oil to fry the plantains, it will ruin the taste.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Garlicky Tequila-Lime Grilled Shrimp-Kebabs with Cilantro-Garlic Aioli Sauce

It's Labor Day weekend, unofficially the last grilling weekend of the summer and before we head into the "winter" holiday season. I wanted to serve up something a little more special than the usual burgers, steaks and chicken that make their way into the grill at this time of year. I don't know about you, but I love grilled shrimp! I love it even more when it's marinaded in lots of garlic, cumin and of course tequila and lime.  Make it extra spicy with minced Thai chile (optional) and you are setting the stage for one sizzling hot shrimp. If you can marinate overnight even better, as the flavors of the tequila, garlic and cumin will infuse the shrimp all the way through. Serve it alongside my cilantro-garlic aioli sauce for the most flavorsome shrimp. Enjoy!

Serves 2 - 4

Tequila Lime Marinade:
1 Pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Ounces tequila of choice
4-6 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 Thai chile, minced (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 Limes:  zest grated and limes juiced - Keep separated
1 Lime halved
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

Zesty Green Chile, Corn and Chicken Soup

I've been kicking around the idea for this soup for some time and hadn't gotten around to taking the time to thinking it out and then actually making it. All I can say is I waited too long - Zesty Green Chile, Corn and Chicken Soup is a success!

As this soup simmers, the aromas of the spices, chilies and chicken are delightfully mouthwatering. You'll be standing by the pot with a ladle in hand ready to fill your bowl! Don't be put off by the list of ingredients, the most "time-consuming" part is dicing the onion, peppers and garlic, everything else is just added in. For my family, this is the perfect soup for a Monday night (or any night), after a long day at work. Now, if you are not wild about heat from chilies in your food, no need to fear, green chilies are very mild!
The tortilla "paste" technique in this recipe is one that I learned from a friend a very long time ago. I had hand-written the instructions at the back of a Better Homes & Garden cookbook I have had since the 1980s. I think it was one of my very first cookbooks. I knew I needed to use this in my soup, because not only would it certainly lend the rustic flavor of the "masa" that is used to make the tortillas but it would also act as a thickener. My soup is satisfying and flavorsome, it is simple to make, whips up quickly and it is easy on the budget. What more could you ask for? Well ... Maybe seconds!

Serves 4

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Medium red onion, diced
1 Medium green bell pepper, diced
3 - 4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 - 4 Ounce can of fire-roasted green chiles, undrained
1 - 10 Ounce can of green chili sauce
1 - 15.5 Ounce can pinto beans
1 - 15.25 Ounce can of whole kernel corn, undrained
1 - 10 Ounce can of diced tomatoes, seasoned with lime & cilantro
Flour tortilla paste:
   3 flour tortillas, chopped. Place in a food processor with 1/4 cup of milk and
   blend until it forms a thick paste. If too dry, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a
   time and blend.
1 Teaspoon cumin
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon salt 
2 Cups chicken stock
2 Breasts from a store bought roasted chicken, skin removed (or you can roast the chicken yourself). Slice each breast lengthwise (as if butterflying), then dice into 1/2 cubes.
1/2 cup rice

To dress the soup:
Cilantro - handful chopped
2-3 Green Onions, sliced on the bias
Monterrey Jack & Colby shredded cheese
2 Ripe avocados diced
Crema or Sour Cream to taste
2-3 Limes, cut in wedges
4 Flour tortilla or more to make chips

Heat a deep pot over medium heat, add the onions, peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 - 7 minutes. While the vegetables cook you can make the flour tortilla paste. Add the roasted green chiles, undrained and cook for 3 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Stir in the next 4 ingredients and allow to heat through to a simmer, then add the flour tortilla paste, stir well until incorporated into liquid. Add the cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, salt, chicken stock, diced chicken and rice.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Ladle soup into deep bowls, add diced avocados, sprinkle with green onions, cilantro, shredded cheese and top with crema or sour cream to taste. Squeeze lime to taste. Crunch up tortilla chops over top ... big in!

Serve with store bought or home made tortilla chips. For home made chips cut 4 - 6" tortillas into triangle, preheat oven to 425, brush tortillas with canola oil sprinkle with salt, and bake for 4-5 minutes.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Slow Cooked Beef in Wine and Broth with Herbs

There are many days I crave stews. Stews are delicious my favorite part being the sauce. Why? To pour that silky sauce over white rice is heaven to me! Back to the story. This week I was craving a stew, but I wanted to make my own creation. I have followed many recipes that I decided to take what I have learned to venture out on my own. I used my trusty slow cooker for this recipe, as you all know it is my favorite kitchen appliance. Saturday my mom and I had a day planned out to go to the mall, then the movies ... our little girls day out. I didn't want to be thinking about dinner or thinking about getting home to make dinner so the night before I thawed a chuck roast to prep in the AM for slow cooker cooking! For this recipe you can certainly use whatever cut of meat you would prefer for a stew; you can also adjust the amount of herbs to your taste. I would consider this a simple, basic stew recipe that you can use to build your own recipe. I like simplicity but the wine is the ingredient that adds that extra depth of flavor. Please feel free to add or expand this recipe!

2lbs chuck roast
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped in large pieces
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut the chuck roast into 1-2 inch pieces. Chop onions and carrots in large pieces. Place all in slow cooker.

2. Add the broth, wine, thyme, paprika and salt and pepper. Mix in slow cooker.

3. Cook on low for 8 hours.

4. Serve with rice or vegetables. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Recipes for Your BBQ this Labor Day Holiday Weekend

Beef, steak, chicken, pork, Corn, marinade, cabbage, slaw

If you are Barbecuing this Holiday weekend here are a few links to some of my readers favorite recipes from The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon.  If you haven't yet decided what's on the  BBQ menu, perhaps some of these will inspire you!

Have a safe and happy Labor Day celebration!

Sweet and Savory Roasted and Grilled Corn on the Cob

One of the sweetest bounties offered during the summer months is corn, specifically, corn on the cob.  It is sweet, yet savory, crisp and certainly an all around favorite - it's hard to go wrong with corn.

Cabbage is one of those vegetables that I think gets overlooked a lot.  It's pretty darn versatile and lends itself to so many different uses.  Here's a vinegary cabbage slaw that is a Central American staple at meal time.  Each country has its own take on it. This recipe, given to me by my father-in-law, is the Nicaraguan version I am most familiar and totally infatuated with.

If you haven't brined your meats before grilling you are missing out on the chance to present the most moist and delicious meal your guests have had. If you are grilling pork, turkey or chicken this holiday weekend, check out my post on how to brine and what to brine. You'll also find a convenient chart which list the cut of proteins to brine, time and the brine formula for each.  

 I use this marinade for beef or pork.  It's a bit robust, really compliments and stands up to these heavier cuts. You may have noticed that the title to this post shows version 1 and 1.1 for the marinade and that's because when I grill pork, I add one extra ingredient ... achiote paste! I love how it enhances the flavor of the pork and it gives it a nice reddish tone which looks awesome once it is grilled!

Orange, Ginger-Soy Grilled Chicken

My Orange, Ginger-Soy Grilled Chicken is marinated in orange zest  and juice, fresh grated ginger, finely minced garlic and a splash of soy. Then it hits a scorching hot grill and 10 minutes later it's on your plate ready to be devoured. Perfect for a busy Holiday weekend cookout.

Smokey n' Sweet Steak & Everything Else Rub

After a few hits and misses I finally got the right combination of each spice to get the smokey, sweet and a little heat balance I wanted in my rub. The chili powder and paprika give it a deep smokey flavor, the brown sugar adds just the right degree of sweetness, the cinnamon adds warmth and cocoa powder, provides a richer color when it hits the grill, broiler or pan. If you like heat (which is optional) in your rub I've got you covered there too!
Don't stop at steak, you can use this rub on just about anything from steaks to chicken to scallops ... it really is the perfect "Everything Else Rub"

The stars of your BBQ this weekend could easily be my delicious achiote chicken drumsticks, that had been brined and then marinaded in achiote paste. The brine helps to super tenderize and amp up the flavor of the drumsticks. The achiote paste adds an earthy, peppery and smokey flavor, as well as, a visually appetizing reddish color to the drumsticks. It's sure to be a hit at your BBQ.

Pork chops are always tricky on the grill ... they can dry out and just turn into a taste less mess.  However, with a little prep, you can count on these center cut pork loin chops always being tender, juicy and absolutely scrumptious! These  chops are first brined and then marinaded in achiote paste before they hit a sizzling hot grill.