Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th! You Ain't Chicken Are You?

Happy Friday the 13th.  I hope you have your marathon set up to pay homage to the character that has brought us many a sleepless night and nervous laughter!  I absolutely love  the Friday series and the childhood memories of utter terror which they have invoked over the years.   Anywho, today is a decidedly roast chicken day!!  My sister Hollie made a request and  I obliged of course, she is after all my baby sister.  The recipe is my own and we have enjoyed it tremendously throughout this year and it isn't even the slightest bit boring yet!  I created a wonderful mashed potato recipe that complements the bird very well and would like to share them with you.!!  These recipes may be prepared simultaneously in the oven for a relatively stress free dinner affair to easily rival actually eating out in a restaurant.
Summer Roasted Whole Bird
1 3lb. chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1 pkg. garlic and herb salad dressing
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. water
4 green onions, quartered
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 stalk celery, cut into thirds
1 lime, cut in half
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Mix half contents of salad dressing package in small jar and add vinegar, olive oil and water.  Shake well and using a flavor injector, inject equal parts of marinade into the breasts and thighs of the bird.  
Fill cavity with veggies, alternating so that they are evenly disbursed.  Truss legs.
Rub whole bird with olive oil and place in dutch oven with lid. 
Bake for 1 1/2 hours, basting with juices two or three times during the last 30 minutes.  Let rest for about 15 minutes before carving.  serves 6 to 8.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Easy Marinades for Pork and Chicken

Greetings!  Looking for a way to enhance the taste of a pork tenderloin using ingredients right out of the fridge and pantry?  Consider these simple ideas.  For a Teriyaki flavor simply mix 1/3 cup soy sauce with 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. fresh OR ground ginger and 2 tsp. fresh OR 1 tsp. powdered garlic. I like to add the juice of one lime and sliced green onion too.  
For an Italian marinade mix equal parts oil and vinegar, and a handful of fresh chopped herbs and a pinch of kosher salt. 
For a Hispanic influence, make a dry rub using cumin, garlic, Mexican oregano, and chili powder. Add about 1 tsp. of salt to the spice blend and rub protein vigorously with it.  Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour and brush with olive oil before grilling or baking.  Serve with your choice of grains or starches and veggies any style.  These recipes are sure to please and score you some cool points in the kitchen with your family!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Olive Garden on a Budget!

Many of us enjoy dining out from time to time.  Some of us dine out several times a week or even daily! As for me, however it is far and in between.  I don't miss it so much though, because it can be a costly endeavor.  Aside from cost, there is implementing the quality of the food as well as the people who prepare it.  Some leave quite a bit to be desired in the personal hygiene department and those personal short comings may manifest itself on your plates. That fact in itself is what makes me content dining out at home.  I do this by creating my own spins on popular menu items and preparing them at home. Dining out at home is formidable for many reasons.  First, being cost efficient.  By the time the meals for 4  are ordered and perhaps drinks, maybe dessert, plus tips, we find ourselves spending upwards to the sum of around $65 to $70.  The second benefit to dining at home is you can control the quality of the ingredients.  Third, we can adjust the sodium levels and added fats, and you can always handle a special order item because you already know your family's likes and dislikes beforehand.  Lastly, if you enjoy cooking as I do, it's always fun to duplicate tastes you've experienced out, at home.  By all means, get out and be treated from time to time, and let someone else worry about the prep and cleanup, you deserve it!!  If you enjoy pastas and rich, creamy cheese sauces like you may find at the Olive Garden, then give this easy recipe a try.
Chicken Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo w/ Shaved Carrot
1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed or cut into thin strips
1 soft chicken bouillon cube
1 lb. fresh or frozen cut broccoli or florets
1 1lb. box fettuccine
1 carrot, shaved with peeler
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1 jar Alfredo sauce
Olive Oil for drizzling
 SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
In a medium bowl, place chicken, drizzle with olive oil and toss with fresh oregano.  Let stand for 5 minutes while saute pan heats up.  
Start salted  pasta water for fettuccine.  When ready add pasta and broccoli to same water and cook until pasta is almost al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain but do not rinse and save about 1/2 c. pasta water to adjust consistency later if needed.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium high heat, drizzle in a little olive oil and add chicken and bouillon cube.  Cook for about two minutes.  Add all veggies except broccoli and cook until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.  The onions should be translucent as well, about 6 minutes.  
Add pasta and broccoli  to saute pan and toss together.  Add Alfredo sauce and a little of the pasta water and toss with tongs.  Cover with tight fitting lid and turn off heat.  Allow for excess liquid absorption and flavors to marry.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Serve with simple salad and garlic bread or bread sticks.
This version is served family style, but for a more refined restaurant presentation, simply use chicken tenders in place of strips or chunks,and sear on both sides until slightly golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Cook veggies until softened with 2 tbsp. butter in saute pan before adding Alfredo, pasta and broccoli.  Place 3 tenders atop  each 1 1/2 cup serving of the Fettuccine and Broccoli Alfredo. Garnish with fresh herbs and olive oil.  You may also add halved black olives to the pasta for a wonderful brininess and texture.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Holy Flipping Flapjacks Batman, These are Amazing!

Want to kick up the flavor in your everyday pancakes, try this quick and easy flapjack fixer upper!
Buttermilk Cheddar Bacon Pancakes
buttermilk pancake mix
real  bacon pieces
finely shredded mild Cheddar cheese
Mix your desired amount of batter according to directions.  After mixing. fold in bacon pieces and cheese.  Serve with real maple syrup, warmed and fresh fruit!!  Sweet,Salty and Savory!  Delicious!
As a general rule of thumb, use about 1/3 c. cheese and 1/4 c. bacon pieces per 2 cups batter! You can also make Belgian waffles with the same recipe.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

South of the Border, Shell Yeah!

With the current power issues, it's good to know that your possibilities are not limited to just hamburgers and hotdogs when cooking on the grill.  For a wonderful deviation from the norm, make some simple, easy and delicious chicken fajitas and tacos.  Using a cast iron skillet really helps with maintaining a constant temperature and achieving a great sear.  Ingredients include a variety of colored peppers, sliced onion and garlic.  Cut the chicken into thin strips and toss with little chili powder, cumin,  Mexican oregano and SPST.  A general rule of thumb for me is about 4 cups of prepped veggies per 1 1/2 lbs. protein.
Drizzle pan with olive oil and when the oil just starts to smoke, add veggies.  After several minutes, add chicken.  When chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, add some fajita seasoning with a little water and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Serve in hard and soft taco shells with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro and Sriracha chili sauce.  Easy sides include canned refried beans, heated, grilled corn with Chili Lime Butter and Mexican style rice with sofrito (sauteed and simmered tomatoes, peppers, onions, broth and olive oil) which can all be prepared on your grill.  Coronas and sparkling beverages go great before, during and after for for a little refreshing appetite stimulant!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cheesesteak Bar!!

Looking for a cookout experience with a little flair.  Set up a cheesesteak bar!!!  I created one for our get together yesterday and it was a big hit!!  It's pretty easy and your friends and family will love building their own cheesesteaks to suit their personal tastes.  Throw in a couple of easy appetizers and  side dishes and you have an awesome meal to remember.  I made a simple dip of cheese sauce and Rotel or other tomato and chilies blend heated until bubbling  and served it with plenty of tortilla chips.  I also made a Hawaiian Style roasted wings.  For the cheesesteak bar, I made a master batch with both sliced and chopped steak for texture variance.  I used a very large cast iron skillet to cook the components of the cheesesteak on the grill over charcoal.  It really infuses the veggies and steak with a wonderful smoky flavor. I had both sub and hotdog buns for stuffing.  I added green and orange peppers, sliced onions and mushrooms.  I made the steak extra savory by using Better Than Bouillon in place of salt.  It really adds depth and long simmered flavor especially  to  quick cooking meats.  I also added julienne of pepperoni for more texture and taste.  Arrange all the fixings like lettuce, tomatoes, two types of cheese, dill pickle slices, banana peppers, bread and butter chips, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.  Throw in some steamed corn and pasta salad and the rest will take care of itself. For dessert, put out some fresh,water rich fruit like cantaloupes and watermelons.  This is an event definitely for special occasions and small groups because it can get costly, but it is totally worth the expense when you see the smiles on your guests' faces.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Better than Yo Mamma's Brisket!

Some late afternoon low maintenance grilling yielded quite the tasty spoils.  Two of my sisters have been affected by the widespread power outages, and one of them, Terry brought with her a gorgeous brisket, which I "Grub Rubbed" and smoked/grilled to melt in your mouth perfection.  During the last hour of grilling, I threw on some whole, un-shucked sweet corn and let is steam over the moderately low heat.  I also made a macaroni salad with lots of veggies fresh from my sister Gayle's garden and also from my own.  The smoky grilled items complemented each other well.  Stay tuned if you need a go -to Macaroni Salad recipe.  I have had quite an energy draining day with copious amounts of after -storm brush/debris and a couple of large limbs, one of which fell on my car.  Luckily, there was only minor damage, Thank You Lord! I will share the recipe at hand, but as my bones and joints ache from prior injuries and fatigue, coupled with an enjoyable dinner, I must admit to suffering from an outbreak of the ITIS!!:)  Rest Well Brethren!!