Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pork Chops , Loaded and Smothered!

This recipe is packed with some simple goodness like fiber loaded black beans and leeks, resting atop a roasted chop and baked in an Alfredo sauce,  sprinkled with crushed white corn tortilla chips.  The crunchy topping pairs well with the simmered black beans and leeks.  The chops turn out tender and flavorful from roasting and the Alfredo's creaminess makes for a fantastic comfort dish.  For sake of calories and fat, one may easily substitute the rich Alfredo for individual slices of cheese like Monterey Jack or White Cheddar.  The results will be equally pleasing.  My family really enjoyed the dish, especially my mom and sister Bonnie.  Next time I prepare this dish I will be using the individual sliced cheese method, so I can make it more often! 
6 pork chops, about 1/4 inch thickness
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c. well cleaned, thinly sliced leeks
1/2 soft chicken bouillon cube, or 1 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 jar Alfredo sauce
1 c. crushed tortilla chips
olive oil for drizzling
fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add beans, leeks, stock and garlic.  If using the soft bouillon, add one cup of water.
Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, until liquid is virtually evaporated, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss chops with cumin, coriander, drizzle of olive oil and SPST.
Roast on roasting pan with rack until golden, about 12  minutes.
Remove from oven and transfer to a 3 quart baking dish.
Spoon equal portions of bean mixture atop each chop and pour sauce over all.
Sprinkle with tortilla chips.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until sauce is bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake uncovered for last 5 minutes to crisp the chips on top.
Garnish with fresh parsley. 
Serves 6.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chicken, Potato, and Leek Cheddar Casserole, TexMex Style

Jump into this fall weather feet first ,with this warm and hearty casserole, embellished with some cool summer flavors and colors.  Lots of fresh herbs potatoes, leeks, and quick marinated chicken form a outstanding profile, while the tomatoes and avocado add even more B vitamins , lycopene, (tomatoes) plus heart healthy unsaturated fats and the ability to help the body absorb more of the nutrients from other ingredients in the dish (avocados).
Assembly is easy and this dish may be prepped ahead of time and baked when needed.
The casserole servings rest on a bed of tortilla rounds, adding a savory crunch and more texture, pairing well with the fresh salad atop.
The family received this dish very well and I look forward to preparing it again soon, real soon!
8 cups diced potatoes such as Russet
1/2 c. fresh parsley, rough chopped
2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 c. leeks, halved, thinly sliced and well rinsed
2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese or reduced fat
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
3 sprigs Lime thyme leaves
1 tbsp. hot pepper paste
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
juice of one lime
2 avocados, cubed, optional
2 medium tomato, optional
juice of one lemon, optional
1 bag, tortilla rounds, optional
sour cream or ranch for drizzling, optional
olive oil for drizzling
Par-cook potatoes in salted water and drain, (about 5 minutes after boiling point.)
Drain and toss with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Toss chicken with garlic, thyme leaves, hot pepper paste, chili powder, coriander, cumin, onion powder and lime juice.
Drizzle with olive oil and SPST.
Fold until well coated.  Let marinate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375*F.
Saute chicken pieces over medium high heat in a large saute pan drizzled with olive oil,  until no longer pink and show signs of browning.
Remove from heat.
In a 3 quart baking dish, spread potatoes evenly.
Spread leeks atop potatoes and sprinkle on 1 cup of the cheese.
Spread chicken atop cheese and top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 25 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
Remove foil for last 5 minutes to slightly brown top.
Serves 8 to 10.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Greek Salad Burger

Flavors from Greece and an American favorite hit head-on for a fabulous burger that's a fast 3 course meal in one.  The patty is 1/4 pound of ground beef and the fixings are packed with fantastical Greek salad ingredients including a healthy dollop of store bought Tzatziki sauce.  Fresh whole leaves of oregano, from my herb garden, bring bright and fresh highlights to this sandwich and marries perfectly to the toasted Potato bun.
 This dish is super for a speedy dinner night , especially if you have become bored with just plain old burgers and fries.  You may easily substitute another protein like lamb, turkey, chicken or pork, depending on your preference. The ready to cook beef patties, however, lend to the time saving aspect and represent the dish very well.  Good ole American Sharp Cheddar seals the proverbial deal for a delicious, nutritious and kinda messy meal, bring plenty of napkins!
4 1/4 lb. good quality beef patties
seasoned salt
green leaf lettuce
sliced olives
thinly sliced red onion
sliced tomato
store bought Tzatziki sauce
4 slices Sharp Cheddar
4 Potato buns
fresh oregano leaves
olive oil for drizzling
Cook beef  patties sprinkled with a scant amount of seasoned salt and cumin to 160*F or desired doneness.  Add 1 slice of cheese to each.
Meanwhile, drizzle the separated buns with olive oil and toast under the broiler.
Smear buns with a small amount of Tzatziki to act as a glue.
Place green leaf lettuce leaf or two on bottom bun.
Add patty.
Place a large dollop of Tzatziki sauce on top of burger.
Add sliced olives, onion, tomato and fresh oregano leaves as desired.
SPST and drizzle with olive oil.
Place bun top.
Serves 4.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Halloween Fare, Monster Meatballs and Green Spaghetti!

Aside from the kids ghastly menu for their Halloween party this year, I wanted the adults to be in on the fun, so I  created something including the big kids, a.k.a. parents.    This recipe is simple and fun to make, especially with the kiddies.  The colors and presentation of this dish really sing Happy Halloween to the fullest of praises!
 I am entertained just as much as the youngsters during this time of year and I constantly try to keep the excitement going.  With this recipe, you won't have to deviate from a recipe you probably already have, just create extra large meatballs, then tint the pasta water with some green food coloring. One meatball would be a serving for the children, and two to three for adults, depending on appetite of course.  Just in case you want a refresher course, here's a super simple recipe to have a Howling good meal and Spooktacular reviews for your creativity!
3 lb. ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 pkg.onion soup mix*
1 c. minced celery
1 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. tomato paste
1/4 c. fresh herbs like parsley, basil and oregano, rough chopped, optional
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
olive oil for drizzling
For Sauce:
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. onion powder
sugar to taste
Bring ingredients up to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to a simmer, stirring often until ready to use.
For Meatballs:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, I like to use a wooden spoon or long tined fork.
Let mixture stand for about 15 minutes for flavors to meld and onions to hydrate.
Preheat oven to 375*F.
When ready, roll mixture into meatballs roughly the size of a large plum.
In a large saute pan, drizzled with olive oil over medium high heat, sear meatballs on all sides in batches.
Transfer to roasting pan with rack and bake until internal temperature reaches 165*F and juices run clear.
Prepare pasta according to package instructions, adding a few drops of green food coloring to the water.
*For finicky eaters, omit the onion soup mix and add 1 tbsp. onion powder and 2 tsp. powdered bouillon.
Serves at least 6.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Southern Fried Chicken Livers

Chicken livers are a great, plus inexpensive way to load up on Iron , protein, zinc, B vitamins , vitamin A and Folic acid. There are many ways in to prepare them, this being one of my favorites.  This method provides a wonderful and satisfying crunch to contrast with the supple interior.  I like to marinate these puppies before frying them to enhance the flavor profile and give a magnificent flavor beyond the nostalgic and sought after outer crust.  They may be baked , just turn often to achieve the texture contrast, but why compromise a good thing.?  This recipe is great for game days or social gatherings because they may be cut into bite sized pieces or Popcorn Chicken Livers and are a grab and go treat!
Spring a batch on your chicken liver nay sayers and watch how fast they realize what they've been missing for so long!
1 container chicken livers,  about 1 lb., drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. sherry peppers sauce*
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 c. seasoned flour
3/4 c. buttermilk pancake mix
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
oil for frying
Heat oil to 375*F.
Trim the livers of the fibrous connective membranes and cut into smaller bite sized pieces.
Meanwhile, combine Worcestershire, fish sauce, sherry peppers and garlic in a small bowl.
Pour over livers and marinate for 15 minutes to 1 hour.  The longer you marinate, the deeper  the flavor profile.
Combine flour, pancake mix, onion and chili powders and shake well to blend.
When ready, drain livers again but do not rinse.
In two to three batches, toss livers in breading and carefully drop into oil.
Fry until golden and floating, about 3 minutes per batch, drain on paper towels.
Serves 4 as a main course and about 8 as 2 per portion appetizers.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
*If you don't have access to sherry peppers sauce, you may substitute with hot sauce or Sriracha.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pawpaw Poundcake

    I am excited to say I was fortunate enough to discover Pawpaws in my area this late summer, something I had only heard of in song by Baloo the Bear in "Bare Necessities"  (The Jungle Book) and childhood accounts of seeing the trees and eating the fruit while hiking from my older sister Gayle.
     Pawpaws grow here in the Eastern and Southern United States, about 26 native states. They are the largest edible fruit in the United States, and can weigh in up to a pound .  Also, they were referred to by some as the "Indian Banana".   Other nicknames include "poor man's banana, Kentucky banana, and American custard apple".  Pawpaws are a delicious and fragrant fruit, which taste like a cross between a banana and a mango to some, with subtle hints of melon and pineapple.  The pulp is very unctuous and custard-like, very much like an avocado, a perfect consistency for smoothies.
     Pawpaws are also a suitable substitute for bananas for certain recipes.    They have about 2 grams of fat per serving, and a host of vitamins and minerals including 130% of the RDA for manganese. There are a plethora of other essential nutrients, some surpassing that of apples, oranges and bananas in some areas, upwards of 100 times!  Quite an American Super fruit huh!
     The seeds of the Pawpaw, which resemble kidney beans,  are not poisonous, but are toxic if eaten, and can possibly cause some gastrointestinal issues like upset stomach or diarrhea.  Be sure to REMOVE them before blending or using in any recipe.  The shelf life of a Pawpaw is only several days once fully ripened, but will keep for a week if refrigerated.   They may be pureed and frozen however, so do not despair.
      My first recipe using Pawpaws is the feature of this article, a pound cake. My brother in law, J.R brought me this wonderful batch of goodness and I am super thankful that he thinks of me when coming across new and different items for me to use in my passion for cooking.  He also provides me with wild game and fish, many of which are featured on my blog.   I received rave reviews and my family members are waiting for the next one.  I will be making several more to share during this harvest season ( which runs roughly from late August to Mid-October) before freezing some for more fragrant and fabulous dishes in the future!
3 1/2 c. cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. double acting baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 c. sugar
6 large eggs
1 c. softened butter, salted or unsalted
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. mashed Pawpaw pulp*
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. good quality vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Combine dry ingredients until well blended.
In another bowl, cream sugar, eggs, butter, milk, and pulp.
Add juices and extract.
Mix in flour in two batches, careful not to overwork batter, producing a tough cake.
Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan, tapping on hard surface to release any air pockets.
Bake until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
For Glaze:
1 c. confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. milk, more or less for desired consistency
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, combine confectioner's sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.
Add milk slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
Fold or stir in lemon zest.
Spread or pour over cooled cake.
Serves 16-18.
*Paw Paws should be peeled and de-seeded before use.  Ripe Paw Paws smell fantastically fragrant and will yield to a gentle touch.  The outside will be speckled with dark spots,but the insides will be soft and bright.  I found that the best way to remove the seeds was to wear plastic gloves and squeeze the peeled fruit in a fist over a bowl or plate.   Some of the seeds will pop out from the sides of your palm and the viable pulp may be scraped from the gloves.  Messy, but effective!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Herbed Venison Roast w/ Brown Sugar and Ponzu, Happy Hunting!

The time for hunting is here again and I am excited to once again see various family and friends of the family come bearing gifts.  I am fortunate to have received wild turkeys, squirrels and venison , for which I use to expand my recipe collection and experience.  This recipe is one featuring venison, brought to me by a life-time family friend, Kinte Robinson.  I butterflied one of the hind quarters and filled it with an herb stuffing of sorts, with lots of fresh parsley, rosemary, oregano and garlic, I then seared, and smoked the wonderful roast for several hours .  I find that for me and my family, that wild meats have to be cooked to well done , as not to experience the sometimes overwhelming "wildness" of the flavor.  I am a firm believer in soaking this protein at least 12 to 24 hours as well, in a salted, sometimes vinegar and usually garlicky tincture to expel as much of the blood as possible.  After that, the protein is ready for any project, making a fabulous and lean substitute for virtually any beef recipe!!   I always let my tasters know though, just as a courtesy!:)
about 3 lbs venison hind quarter, pounded  to 1/4 inch thickness
1 c. parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
6 to 8 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
For Marinating and Basting:
Ponzu sauce
Brown sugar
Sherry Peppers Sauce
Place portion of roast between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/4 inch thickness.
Combine herbs and garlic with olive oil and garlic plus SPST and spread evenly over pounded roast.
Tuck ends and roll starting on short side until it looks like a jelly roll.
Secure with butcher's twine.
Combine equal parts Ponzu and Brown sugar and 1 part Sherry Peppers and blend well.
Pour over roast and turn to coat.
Let stand turning often for about 15 minutes.
Pat dry and sear on grill pan or in a large saute pan.
Transfer to smoker or  oven and cook until desired temperature is reached. If using an oven , roast @ 250*F , for several hours or until desired doneness is reached.  145*F for medium, 160*F for well done.
Baste periodically in Ponzu, brown sugar and sherry peppers to add more flavor and rich color to outer surface.
Let rest before slicing.
Serves 8-10.

Infuse water in smoker with aromatics like onions, celery and garlic, and SPST.