Showing posts with label condiment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label condiment. Show all posts

Monday, February 1, 2016

Game Day Menu Planning for Superbowl 50 and a Giveaway

I am excited to be participating in a Super Bowl Recipe Exchange with several incredible bloggers. Along with the recipes I'm sharing with you, here are their recipes to round out your Super Bowl 50 menu. This would definitely be a party I'd love to be invited to!

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ from Eat.Live.Blog
White Bean and Chorizo Stew from LivinLemon
Buffalo Chicken Empanadas from Appetite for Instruction
DIY Snack Stadium from Wife in Progress
Homemade Pimento Cheese Stuffed Sliders  from Aimee Broussard
Taco Dip from Anchors and Bows

Not only am I sharing with you these great recipes, but I am also excited to offer you an opportunity to win a $100 gift card courtesy of!  You could choose from one of their MANY slow cookers, or any one of a million other things that will make your Super Bowl Party the biggest winner of the night. The giveaway is open until the winner of the Super Bowl is crowned.

Enter here for your chance to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Superbowl is a great 4+ hour excuse to put out your favorite snacks and graze while watching. Growing up it didn't matter who was in the game we always had a party. In middle school and high school my girlfriends and I would always have a Superbowl Bash. I can't remember what we ate at the parties, but I know we always had a great time!

Now my favorite things to eat while watching usually involve avocados, salsa, beans, and cheese. I have two recipes that share these ingredients in different ways. First up is a loose interpretation of a tamale - more closely related to the sweet corn tamales from The Cheesecake Factory. These take advantage of some shortcuts and produce a tasty dish. Up second are a healthier take on potato skins. These chili cheddar potato skins are indulgent but not over the top. One or both of these dishes would make a delicious and healthier addition to your Superbowl 50 viewing parties.

Both recipes have a number of components but it is easy to work on them at the same time. My workflow is to start the beans first and while they are simmering you can prep the other ingredients. Even better? Enlist your party guests to chop, mix, and assemble their own!

Corn 'Tamales' with Black Beans and More

I love to make as many things from scratch as I can when entertaining. For this recipe I 'cheated' and included a pre-cooked polenta to stand in for the traditional corn tamale. This speeds up the prep time and makes your life a little easier on game day. I've included the toppings that I like on these, but the recipe lends itself to endless customization. Don't love black beans? Substitute pinto or refried. Hate cilantro? Omit! Run out of lime juice? Use lemon or orange. That's the fun of cooking - you can make it just the way YOU want. If you have leftover toppings you can use them for a dip or a side dish. I used corn oil to enhance the flavors, you can also use vegetable or canola oil. Adjust the quantities based on the number of guests.

Corn 'Tamales' with Black Beans and More
Presented in the order of preparation

Black Beans
1 can of drained black beans
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 of a yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan
Add in garlic and onion and cook until softened (about 3-4 minutes)
Add in black beans, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil
Reduce to low and keep on the heat until it’s time to assemble the dish

You can use your favorite store-bought salsa here if you want another shortcut. There are a lot of great local options. If you like to make fresh salsa I would suggest leaving it chunky so it doesn't run down your guests' arms or drip on your floor. Here's a quick and easy salsa recipe:

Tomato Salsa
Adjust the amount based on the size of your party, this is probably enough for a log of the polenta.
4 plum or roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper or your favorite chili pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/4 of a white or red onion, diced
A small handful of chopped cilantro (omit if you have cilantro haters)
Fresh Lime Juice
Salt and pepper

Mix well and chill

Simply cut the avocado in half lengthwise
Remove the pit
Use a spoon to carefully scoop out the avocado flesh
Dice into small pieces and toss with lime juice

Ideally fresh corn. If it is not available you can use frozen or canned. You want to saute it for a few minutes to get a little color and develop the sugars.
If using fresh:
Remove the husk and all the silk from one ear of corn
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the kernels away from the cob

For fresh, canned, or frozen:
Heat a small amount of corn oil over medium-low heat in a non-stick skillet
Cook corn for about 5 minutes (keep stirring so it doesn't burn)
Set aside in a bowl until you are ready to assemble everything

Southwestern Polenta
Precooked polenta, comes in a log wrapped in plastic, cut into 1/4" thick slices
For the seasoning, you want a ratio of about 1 tablespoon of chili powder to 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, adjust the amount to cover all of the polenta
Salt and Pepper
Corn Oil

Spread the polenta out on a plate in a single layer
Sprinkle the seasonings evenly across the top and press in gently
Let sit and absorb while the oil is heating
Heat corn oil in a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat (enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan)
Cook polenta for 2 minutes on each side and remove to a paper towel lined plate

Putting it all together
Lay out polenta slices in a single layer on a serving platter
Top each round with:
Scoop of black beans
Sprinkle of crumbled queso fresco or goat cheese
Fresh cilantro

Chili Cheddar Potato Skins

I love potato skins but I don't love the way they make me feel. As part of a game day menu that is usually not light on calories these potato skins offer you a way to feel less bad about your game day dining. Avocado - health fat. Beans with vegetables mixed in - healthy. Cheese - dairy serving! Really, is there ever a reason to not include cheese in a party? I think the answer to that is always no.

Adjust the recipe quantities based on the size of your guest list. The techniques are the important part. You can start with my recipes and adapt to your liking. Once you use this method for making the skins you'll be adding them to your menu more often! The secret is another cheat, the microwave!

Chili Cheddar Potato Skins with Guacamole

Bean and Vegetable Chili
Approximately 4 servings
1 jalapeno, ribs and seed removed, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced (any color)
1 quarter of a yellow onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can kidney or pinto beans, drained
1 can petite diced no-salt added tomatoes (drain about half the liquid)
1 tablespoon ground chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

In a medium pot, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil at medium-high heat
Add in minced garlic and jalapeno and cook for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic
Add in onions and bell pepper, and cook 2-3 minutes until softened
Stir in chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper
Add beans and tomatoes and stir
Bring to a boil and then reduce to low
Simmer until ready to serve

Potato Skins
Adapted from Amy at Playing House (who adapted from Ellie Krieger)
Serves 2 (1 potato/person)
2 Idaho potatoes scrubbed and dried
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pieces turkey bacon (use pork if you like, we don't eat it in the Good Cook Doris Kitchen)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar-jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
Pierce the potatoes a few times with a fork and wrap in paper towels
Microwave on high for 13 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through
Take out the microwave and cool until the potatoes are easy to handle
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise
Using a spoon, scoop all but 1/8 inch of the inside of the potato, being careful not to break the skin (save the potato guts for another use)
Brush both inside and outside of potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt
Put the potatoes, skin-side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet
Bake until skins are crisp and edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes

For the turkey bacon, cook in a small skillet over medium heat, turning often, until crispy
Dice into small pieces

1 medium Haas avocado
Juice from 1/2 a lime
Jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced (Optional)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 a scallion, thinly sliced
Dash of salt and pepper

Roughly chop the cilantro, set aside
Squeeze the lime juice into a bowl
Cut open the avocado and add to the bowl with the lime juice
Using an avocado masher (or fork), mash until smooth
Stir in the cilantro, scallion, and jalapeno if using
Season with salt and pepper

Putting it all together
When the potato skins are done, remove from the oven and put on serving plate
Fill the skins with chili
Divide the shredded cheese evenly among the potato halves
Top with the turkey bacon
Spoon the smooth guacamole evenly over the four halves
Top with a few cilantro leaves for garnish

Don't forget to check out the recipes from these other great bloggers and to enter the giveaway to win $100 to

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ from Eat.Live.Blog 
White Bean and Chorizo Stew from LivinLemon 
Buffalo Chicken Empanadas from Appetite for Instruction 
DIY Snack Stadium from Wife in Progress 
Taco Dip from Anchors and Bows 

What's your favorite game day food?

Enter here for your chance to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 3, 2014

How Do You #LoveAvocado? There are so many ways!

{This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Hass Avocado Board. }

Every Saturday after breakfast, I gather up my cookbooks along with a pen and paper to make my weekly grocery list. Whenever I ask my 2 year old son what we should buy at the store he always answer the exact same way without fail, “avocados and apples.” Those are the first things we see when we get into the produce section, but I am always happy to oblige. These days the little guy is loving avocado – with a spoon, mixed into chili, on sandwiches, and more. I don’t mind because over 75% of the fat in an avocado is unsaturated. Avocados are so versatile and can be used in so many different cuisines and ways. Avocados have long been a part of my diet. The rich, creamy flavor makes them feel like an indulgence even though they are a good fat.

Some of my Favorite Ways to use Avocados: 

  • As a key ingredient in Taco Night
  • Cut in half, topped with hot sauce and either a little plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Spread on warm toasty bread and topped with smoked salt. 
  • Blended with tomatillos, lime juice, and cilantro – used to top eggs, tacos, chili, soups, and more! 

Why are avocados so good? 
Avocados are nutrient-dense and have less than 1 gram of sugar per 1 ounce serving. Since they are sodium and cholesterol free, they fit right in to my goal to feed my family a well-balanced diet. What are your favorite ways to eat avocados as part of a healthy lifestyle?


#LoveAvocado and have an inspiring story about getting your loved ones to add fresh avocado to their diet? Enter for a chance to win for yourself and to share avocados with someone you love.

Prizes include:
• 1 of 4 prize packs including $100 and fresh Hass Avocados delivered to your door
• Plus an additional package of fresh Hass Avocados delivered to someone you love

Recipe Contest
Discover a new favorite recipe and vote today for your favorite avocado recipe! 

I’m excited to explore more ways to incorporate avocados into my cooking . I’d love to hear how you incorporate them in yours! Follow along the Love One Today™   fun on Twitter and Instagram with the #LoveAvocado hashtag.

{This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Hass Avocado Board.} Tracking Pixel

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: Goat Cheese (Yes You Can Make it At Home)

This is the last official week of the office weight loss challenge! Our final weigh-in will be on Friday and the top three 'losers' will be awarded their prize. I'm still down 4 pounds, a respectable amount for eight weeks of incorporating healthier eating and more activity into my daily routine. I started wearing a pedometer and its just a small tool to motivate me to be more active. If I see that I don’t have enough steps in, I’ll take the stairs during my afternoon break or walk the long way to the train. It’s a great way to burn a few extra calories. I've hit 12,000 steps on a few days (almost 5 miles). As a comparison, most people with desk jobs have somewhere between 3,000-5,000 steps a day.

Also, don’t forget to read through the post to find out last week’s winner of the MultiGrain Cheerios prize pack!

One of the other things I've been doing lately is trying to be more thoughtful about my food purchases. And making an effort to use all of the food we buy. I've been cooking a lot from the pantry and trying to use up everything in the freezer and refrigerator. For this week's healthy snack post, I have two easy and delicious recipes to share.

Last week I came across a recipe (more of a technique) for making goat cheese at home. I was instantly intrigued - fresh goat cheese is one of my favorite cheeses - and I picked up a half gallon of goats' milk from Whole Foods and a few lemons for juicing.  I followed the recipe exactly and was impressed with results. It was very similar to making ricotta (part of my dinner party). The recipe is pretty simple, goats' milk and an acid, and any mix-ins you like for flavoring. I left mine plain and paired it with honey for a snack. I also used it to top huevos rancheros inspired eggs.

Homemade goat cheese with local honey 
and a whole wheat cracker

Whole wheat tortilla, fried eggs, avocado, goat cheese, 
hot sauce, and cilantro with a side of beef bacon.

I still had half the milk leftover and decided to whip up a second batch with my own twist. For this batch I swapped in lime juice for the lemon juice. And for my mix-in I used fresh chopped cilantro. The bright flavors of lime and cilantro was a perfect match for the creamy cheese.

Step by step pictures for easy homemade goat cheese

The cheese is incredible alone, but I had some other ingredients hanging out waiting to be used for something creative. From the freezer I grabbed a bag of whole cranberries. From the refrigerator I grabbed orange peels and limes. The other day I had an orange for a snack and it struck me that I waste precious zest everytime I throw the peel away. I peeled off the flavorful outside and saved it to add to recipes later in the week.

Looking at the ingredients, I decided to make a zesty and tangy citrus cranberry sauce. There’s not much to making cranberry sauce. Just be sure you have a good heavy sauce pot and a stain-proof spatula! You add your ingredients, cook until it’s your desired consistency and then enjoy! I didn’t add a lot of sugar to this version because I wanted it to be more savory to pair with the cheese. The resulting sauce is bright and indeed zesty! This would be great with roasted turkey or chicken, as a sandwich condiment, or on a cheese plate. I took pictures at work on my phone, please excuse the lighting.

The smooth, fresh taste of the goat cheese paired well with the tanginess of the cranberry sauce. The goat cheese has also been a great addition to breakfast. I made a sandwich with a whole wheat sandwich thin, cilantro-lime goat cheese, a fried egg, and a big handful of spinach.

Easy Homemade Goat Cheese
Inspired by recipe on Kiss My Spatula
1 quart goats' milk (just pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (or other herbs)
Salt to taste

Supplies Needed:
Thermometer (candy, deep fry, or instant read)
Kitchen twine, or string
Heavy bottomed pan
Stirring spoon
Large bowl

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth
Set over a large bowl
Cut kitchen twine for tying

Add milk to a heavy bottomed sauce pan
Heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 180 degrees F, stirring occaisionally
Remove from heat and add citrus juice
After about 15-20 seconds the milk should look cloudy and you should see little specks separating
Ladle carefully into the cheesecloth lined colander (slowly, so it doesn't overflow)
Once all milk is in, pull together the four corners and tie with twine
Tie to a spatula handle and hang over a clean bowl
Let hang for about an hour, until consistency is soft, but not dry
Add to a bowl and mix in any herbs and seasonings
Will stay in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days (if you don't eat it all first!)

Zesty Cranberry Sauce
1/2 pound fresh, whole cranberries (rinsed)
1/4 cup sugar
Juice from 2 limes
1 tablespoon finely diced orange zest
1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a medium sauce pan
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat
Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly
The cranberries will burst and the mixture will begin to thicken
Serve immediately or cool completely before storing in the refrigerator

Giveaway Winner!
I used to select a winner from the 24 entries for the MultiGrain Cheerios prize pack! For complete randomness, the hubby ran the numbers and sent me the result. The winner is....

Congratulations to Renee! She said:

"Stairs, stairs, stairs! That is my commitment to being healthier! And to do 1 week of food logging to see exactly what kind of calories I'm taking in".

Congratulations Renee, hope this stylish gym bag and water bottle help you reach your goals!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Will Drive for Food - A Saturday Adventure

Last month at the Food Truck Festival the hubby and I were chatting with Michelle of Fun and Fearless in Beantown. She asked us about our weekend and about how far we drove in to enjoy the barbecue brisket at the market.  My immediate reply was, "On Sundays we usually drive for food".  I laughed at how it sounded, but it's really true.  Many of our weekend adventures involve heading to a farmers market, a festival, or an interesting restaurant. We don't eat out during the week (well, maybe we sneak a lunch or two out) and weekends are when we let someone else do some of the cooking.

This weekend I was on my own for my adventure. I knew my starting destination and headed out with no particular agenda or return time. I love to wander, one thing leads to another, and it becomes an adventure!

I fueled up for my adventure with a slice of homemade whole wheat bread topped with homemade fig spread (recipe at the end). With an iced coffee from Red Barn Coffee Roasters in hand I hit the road and in about 30 minutes I arrived at the Harvard, MA Farmers Market.  I'd heard great things about the market and they have an informative and interesting website. There were a lot of new-to-me vendors and I spent some time chatting with all of them and picking up some great things.  I also spent a lot of time taking photos during the day. I'll highlight some of my favorites throughout the post. I hope you check out the slide show included in the post for all of my photos.

A bright yellow booth caught my attention and I stopped by to see what they were selling. I met the lovely Joanna and tasted her delicious biscotti. We started chatting and it turns out that Joanna just started her baking business and this was her second weekend at the market. After careers in marketing and kitchen design, she decided to take her well-tested biscotti recipe to the commercial kitchen and bring it to the public. She has more than 10 flavors. I picked out the orange walnut (with a full pound of walnuts in the 6 oz. of biscotti!). I look forward to trying out  more flavors! Hopefully she'll bring her treats to one of the winter markets in the area. She doesn't have a website yet, but she is in the process of setting it up.

Another fantastic surprise was Bagel Alley. There are bagel places out here in MetroWest, but none that satisfy my craving for chewy, dense, bagels. I picked up a half-dozen of my favorite flavors and asked if I could take a few pictures of the bagels. They seemed a little shocked that anyone would want to photograph their bagels, but they obliged. Here is my ode to my favorite stinky bagel, the everything bagel:

I also picked up a delicious whole wheat plum cherry scone from The Biscuit (from Somerville, MA). I munched on that while I gathered some other goodies like pea tendrils, a whole chicken (no giblets), parsley, spinach fettuccine, and parsnips.  Another new-to-me product was lupine beans. I had never heard of them before - turns out they blend into a flavorful and healthy hummus. After sampling a few flavors, I took home a cilantro flavored hummus. You can read about the lupine beans here.

I packed up my purchases and decided to wander through Harvard toward my absolute favorite fall stop - Bolton Spring Farm. Every fall since I first came to Boston for college, I've made a trip to Bolton Spring Farm. Three things I always buy there: hot apple dumplings, hot apple cider, and a Yankee Candle (apple, pumpkin, or cinnamon scented). They have apple picking too, but it's up a hill, so I usually pick up a pre-picked bag. This trip I got a half peck of Paula Reds, a cider donut, and a 'Be Thankful' candle.

Since I was on Route 117 with no agenda, I headed east toward Verrill Farm. At this point I really didn't need any more veggies or fruits, or so I thought...On my way to Verrill Farm I made a quick detour to Applefield Farm. They were at the farmers market and I decided to stop and see their real farm. I added three hot peppers and a cute green eggplant to my loot and got back on the road.

At Verrill Farm I added fresh figs, a beeswax candle, and an orange to my collection. I know the orange doesn't scream "Hey, it's fall", but my favorite apple cake calls for orange juice. Sometimes you just have to go with it.  When I got home, I laid out my purchases to see how crazy I went. Not too bad! I really love the magnet that I got at the market.

It was a fabulous day! Beautiful weather, friendly farmers and vendors, and of course delicious food. I cooked up a quick dinner from my finds, and ended up making it three more times over the weekend (it was that fresh and good!).

I had a great time taking photos - instead of a post with all of them, I hope you have a minute to watch the slide show below to see what food fun awaits you here in the suburbs.  Recipes from the posts follow the pictures.

Fig Cinnamon Jam
Recipe adapted from a recipe posted by Bob Dunn on Local in Season

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 pound fresh figs, stems removed and quartered 
1 1.5 inch strip of lemon zest
Juice from 1/4 of a lemon
1 tablespoon ground Vietnamese Cinnamon

Add water and sugar to a small saucepan, heat over medium heat and cook until you have a simple syrup (just a few minutes)
Add the quartered figs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cinnamon to the simple syrup and mix
Simmer over low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally
Let the mixture cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Farmers Market Late Summer Pasta
Serves 1 (multiply by the number of hungry people you have to feed)
1/4  lb. Fior D'Italia Spinach Fettuccine, cooked to al dente
1/4 cup Wards Berry Farm red & yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Applefield Farm green eggplant, diced
1 handful of pea tendrils/pea greens, coarsely chopped
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat
Add chopped garlic and cook until just fragrant
Add in halved tomatoes and diced eggplant, cook for about 5-8 minutes until softened but not mushy
Turn off heat and add pea tendrils and greens
Toss ingredients
Top a large bowl of pasta with the veggies and an extra drizzle of olive oil
Yell at yourself for only making one serving
Make again for lunch and dinner the next day and add Parmesan cheese to the top

Where do your food adventures take you? What do you like to do when you have no agenda?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Easy Weeknight Entertaining - Build Your own Tacos

Two weeks ago the hubby invited over one of his coworkers and his family over for dinner. My brother happened to be in town on business so we invited him over too. Making a weeknight dinner for guests can be very stressful if you don't plan properly. Our guests were scheduled to arrive about 45 minutes after we normally get home from work. I knew we needed a quick cooking meal that would please a number of different tastes (the group included a 7-year old).

One of our favorite meals is tacos - there are so many variations and it's great for leftovers. I decided to go with a build-your-own taco bar so everyone could make them exactly how they liked them. I picked up some hard and soft taco shells (it's all about choice!), ground turkey, and an assortment of taco fixings. I won't bore you with store-bought details. I'll just focus on the homemade fixings: tomatillo guacamole and black beans with corn and tomatoes.

Tomatillo Guacamole

This is a condiment that I make a lot - it's quick, easy, and always gets rave reviews! For this version I used a combination of farmers' market finds and grocery store produce (no avocados at the markets here). One of my favorite farmers' market finds from last year is ground cherries (a.k.a. strawberry tomatoes). They look like baby tomatillos and have a sweet almost pineapple-y taste. I decided to add these in to the guacamole along with the tomatillos, serrano chili, lime juice, onion, and avocado. I used raw tomatillos, this would also very good with roasted tomatillos. This was more than enough for dinner and a few more meals. It keeps longer than a regular guacamole because of the lime juice and other ingredients. Make sure to press plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole and then seal it in an airtight container (i.e. gladware, tupperware)

*Note: I usually add fresh cilantro when making this at home. After an informal poll of friends, I've learned that not everyone could eat cilantro on everything like me. Not knowing if our guests would love it or think it tasted like soap, I decided to leave it out.

4-5 raw tomatillos, husks removed and washed
A handful of ground cherries, husks removed and washed
Serrano chili (to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 of a white onion

Cut the tomatillos into quarters
If you have a large enough food processor, put all of the ingredients in and pulse until just smooth (if not, work in batches)
Season with salt and pepper

Black Beans and Corn

This tasted much better than the photo I took! I picked up some locally grown sweet corn and really wanted to use it for dinner. To make a hearty side dish, I pulled together canned black beans, the fresh corn, some canned diced tomatoes, garlic and spices. This was delicious served warm and even more delicious cold for lunch the next day and as a quesadilla filling for the next night's dinner.

2 cans black beans, drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes (no salt added) with about half the liquid drained off
3 fresh ears of corn, kernels cut off from the cob
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Cumin and chili powder

Heat oil over medium heat in a stockpot
Add in garlic and saute until soft (don't burn!)
Add corn and cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently
Add in beans and tomatoes and bring to a bubble
Reduce heat to low, stir in cumin and chili powder
Let simmer until time to serve

Other Taco Bar Ingredients
Hard taco shells
Small flour tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Salsa (store bought tomato salsa)
Black olives
Yellow rice (Goya)
Sour cream

Happy eating!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Trio of Mediterranean Inspired Dips

We were invited over to someone's house and asked to bring an appetizer along. Our host told us that the menu included shrimp and swordfish kabobs, couscous, and salad with feta. I wanted to make something to go along with the Mediterranean/Greek theme, so I looked online at the menus of my favorite Greek restaurants. A lot of the appetizers needed to be served right from the oven or seemed to heavy. Keeping in mind that our dinner hosts don't eat garlic, onions, or spicy foods - I decided to do a search of my cookbook collection and find something I could customize. After searching for a little while, I decided to whip a few dips to eat with pita chips.

These were quick and easy to pull together - perfect to make ahead and keep in the fridge until party time. Here's the line up:

Dip #1 - Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
Dip #2 - Olive Tapenade with Sundried Tomatoes
Dip #3 - Low-fat Tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt dip)

All the dips can be served with pita chips, veggies, toasted baguettes, or crackers.

*Recipe note - I omitted garlic from all of the recipes.

Dip #1 - Red Pepper and Walnut Dip (adapted from Cooking Light)

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted (I forgot to toast them and it was still good)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 12-ounce bottle of roasted red peppers, drained (I used a 7 oz. jar)

Place all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth
Put into serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve

Dip #2 - Olive Tapenade with Sundried Tomatoes

This is a great idea when you have a lot of assorted leftovers in the fridge. It can be customized depending on your taste. Here's my version:

About 1 cup of assorted pitted olives (I got a few scoops from the olive/antipasto bar at the grocery store)
2 sundried tomatoes (from a jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil)
Few sprigs of fresh parsley
Zest from half a lemon

Same instructions as dip #1:
Place all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth
Put into serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve

Dip #3 - Low-fat Tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt dip) (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 32-ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
1.5 cups shredded English cucumber (about 3/4 of a large cucumber)
3/4 teaspoon salt - divided into 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

This recipe has two steps. To prepare the yogurt, you need 12+ hours. The rest of the recipe takes about 20 minutes the next day (or later)

Place a colander into a large bowl
Line the colander with cheesecloth if you have it. I used basket coffee filters to lining the interior of the colander
Spoon the yogurt onto the filters
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12+ hours
After 12 hours, remove from the fridge and spoon the yogurt into a bowl and discard the excess liquid
Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients

Shred the cucumber using a grater or mandoline with grater blade
Place it into a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Toss well to combine and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes
After 15 minutes, pour the cucumber onto a large paper towel
Squeeze until almost all water is gone (you may need to transfer to a dry paper towel a few times and repeat)

Combine the yogurt, cucumber, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, chopped parsley, lemon juice and pepper in a serving bowl and mix well
Drizzle the olive on top just before serving

I'll post pictures from the party when we return!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Backyard BBQ Part 2 - Smoked Ribs

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First up in the Backyard BBQ series is smoked ribs. My brother in Indy has a smoker and is always turning out things like brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and more. I decided that just because I don't own a smoker doesn't mean I can't do it too! After consulting numerous cookbooks and barbecue expert websites, I was all set for a great rack of ribs.

According to the BBQ gurus - the preferred equipment is obviously a dedicated smoker. Next on the list is a charcoal grill, and last on the list is a gas grill (that's what we own). The basic premise for smoking meat is to cook over indirect heat. In order to set up the grill, a few new accessories were needed. I bought some hickory wood chips, a small cast iron smoker box, and some shallow disposable aluminum pans. Instead of buying a fancy rib rack to cook the ribs in, I used the roasting rack from my turkey pan. Turning it upside down worked perfectly.

Next, for the type of ribs. There are many different kinds out there. The most popular summer ribs are typically pork ribs, something we don't cook at home. We set out to find beef ribs and were pleasantly surprised to find them on sale at the regular grocery store. We used 3.5 racks, each with 4-5 ribs per rack. They were split into half racks (there are 7 half-racks in the photo above). Note - these are not short ribs.

There are quite a few different opinions on the way to prepare ribs for cooking. Some profess that the only way to go is with sauce, some swear by a combination of a rub and a mop sauce. I decided to stick with a dry rub and let everyone decide if they wanted to add sauce.

On one of my frequent trips to Whole Foods, I picked up a summer recipe booklet along with my usual free samples. There was a recipe for "Chef Lou Lambert's Famous Coffee Dry Rub". It's written up as a rub for smoked brisket, but sounded so good that I had to try it. A few notes - this made more than enough for the ribs we made. We have plenty of rub leftover to add to other dishes. I added it to some burgers tonight and they turned out great.

Without further delay - the rub recipe and cooking instructions:

Coffee Dry Rub (courtesy of Whole Foods Fire Up the Grill flyer)
2 cups light brown sugar (I used dark brown, it's all we had)
1 cup chili powder
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup medium ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee

Dump all ingredients in a medium bowl
Stir to combine well
Rub over all surfaces of the ribs and place ribs in a large disposable aluminum pan
Refrigerate for up to 24 hours (I only put them in the fridge for about an hour)

Cooking Instructions
Soak a few handfuls of wood chips in water for 15 minutes or more
Open up the grill and remove the grill grate
Place the smoker box over the burner you plan to turn on for cooking
Place two shallow aluminum trays over the burner(s) that you do not plan to turn on and fill them with water
Replace the grill grate on the top
Light the grill and turn all the burners to high
Close the lid and wait for about 10-15 minutes or until a lot of smoke is visible from the grill
Turn off all the burners except the one under the wood chips - turning that to medium (about 275-300 degrees)
Open the grill and place the roasting rack on the grate over the pans of water
Place the ribs into the rack
Close the lid and let cook for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure nothing is on fire

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
Turn off the burners on the grill and remove the ribs (still on the roasting rack) and place into the roasting pan
Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for about 1.5 - 2 hours or until tender
Transfer to a serving platter, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

I served them with homemade barbecue sauce, recipe previously posted. I used maple syrup (not honey) and threw in a roasted jalapeno for some heat. The ribs were really tasty as is, so hardly any sauce was used.

Sadly, we didn't have any leftovers of this for the next day. Guess I'll have to fire up the grill again soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Treats for the Grill

It's easy to get into a routine and eat the same foods each week. In the spirit of grilling diversity, we're trying to add new items to our stable of grill friendly meals. I've posted about grilled portobellos before - this post is more about what went with the grilled portobellos. I get a weekly email from Whole Foods and they always have interesting recipe ideas. The latest edition had a recipe for portobello and pineapple grilled veggie burgers. I printed out the recipe, miraculously found almost the ingredients in our pantry, and got to work! Our burgers were served without buns (I think they were better that way!)

The teriyaki sauce was really tasty. I'd put it up against any bottled sauce at the store. When you can control the amount of salt in your sauces they always taste much better. For an easy meal, I served this on a nice green salad with carrots and green onions. No need for dressing - I just drizzled a little extra teriyaki on it.

I'll write up the teriyaki sauce here. For the full recipe and instructions, click on the link above. I marinated the pineapples and portobellos for about 30 minutes before grilling (we wanted to eat before 10 p.m.). Throw them on the grill and within a short amount of time you are ready to eat. Drizzle with extra sauce and enjoy!

Quick Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (courtesy of Whole Foods' recipe, with a few tweaks)

Juice from 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple rings
3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I only had dark)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (I didn't have any, so I added some toasted sesame seeds instead)
Canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Put 3/4 cup of the pineapple juice (save remaining for another use), soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger and sesame oil into a small bowl and whisk together to make a marinade

After you put the mushrooms and pineapples on the grill, drain the leftover marinade into a small saucepan
Bring to a boil over medium high heat
In a small bowl, stir together water and cornstarch
Then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the marinade in the saucepan and boil until thickened, about 1-2 minutes
Pour into a serving bowl
Serve with cooked mushrooms and pineapple

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: Sauce - 5 minutes; Full meal - 10-15 minutes
Mixing bowl, bowl to marinate, small saucepan, serving bowl, spoon, whisk

We had more than enough sauce for our dinner. I put the extra in the fridge to save for another use. The next night we grilled some mahi-mahi and the sauce was delicious on top. On the side I made some snap peas and red peppers on the grill. I wrapped the veggies in a foil pack and seasoned them with ground ginger, garlic powder, and a little sesame oil. They only need about 5 minutes on the grill and they come out cooked with a nice crunch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BBQ Sauce - From Indiana

This week's first guest post comes to you from Indianapolis, IN. Now that the weather is warm everyone is outside for a BBQ. Just in time for your Memorial Day Cookout (or Indy 500 Party), here is a great recipe for BBQ sauce from scratch. This is great on brisket, pulled pork, chicken, or your favorite grilled veggies (for those non-meat eaters out there). Enjoy!

"Brisket's Best Friend" aka Homemade BBQ Sauce
3 cups Ketchup
2/3 cups Apple Juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 Tbsp. Honey or Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp. Molasses
1 Tbsp.Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp.Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp.Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Celery Salt (or your favorite variety of salt)
1 Tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 Tsp. Mustard Powder
Optional: Jalapenos, habeneros

Combine everything except ketchup, mollasses and honey in a medium sauce pan
Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, stirring occasionally
Reduce heat to med-low and add remaining ingredients, stir to combine
Simmer for a minimum of 1 hour
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator

Notes: This sauce comes out sweet, with a little bit of a kick at the end due to the cayenne. If you like a sweet sauce add more honey or maple syrup and reduce the cayenne. If you like a hot sauce add some jalapenos or habaneros. I recommend roasting them first. Use additional water or apple juice if you want to thin out the sauce.

Roasted Jalapenos
Using your grill or broil feature on the oven, char the outside of the jalapenos until the skin begins to turn black. Place the cooked peppers in a plastic bag and let them sit for a few minutes. This will help more easily separate the skin from the flesh of the pepper. Remove the seeds and mince your peeled jalapeno and throw it in the sauce. I recommend using at least two jalapenos for a nice kick.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Passover Eats - Part 7: Fresh Horseradish

Passover Eats part 7 comes to you from St. Louis. My mom sent over the recipe she tried for fresh horseradish for this year's seder. I hear it got rave reviews and I'm sorry I missed out! The recipe is below. In the photo above are a new recipe for charoset with cranberries and delicious matzoh ball soup. Enjoy!

This recipe was in the Post Dispatch Food Section on 4-10-09 submitted by Leslie Caplan -"This Soprano Cooks Catering"

Chrain Beets and Horseradish
2-3 pounds fresh red or golden beets with tops still on
6-8 ounces fresh horseradish root
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup white wine vinegar or to taste
1/4 cup granulated sugar or taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the tops off the beets, leaving about 1-1/2 inches of stem. Wrap the beets in foil with the stems showing
Bake red beats for 1-1/4 hours or Golden beets for 1 hour

While beets are cooling, peel horseradish root*
Slice horseradish into thin disks and put into the food processor
Add 1 cup water; process until horseradish is finely chopped (Stand back from the processor to protect your eyes)
Spoon the horseradish into a strainer, pressing out as much water as possible

Peel the cooled beats and cut into chunks
Place the beets in the food processor and process until fairly fine

Put the beets, horseradish, salt, vinegar and sugar into a large bowl and mix
Let sit for an hour or so, then adjust sugar, vinegar & salt to taste
Refrigerate for a day or longer
Readjust seasonings if necessary
Serve with gefilte fish

*Note: Before making this recipe, cut a small piece out of the root and taste it to make sure it is not bitter. Bitter horseradish root ruins the chrain. If you don't want to use raw horseradish, substitute 4 tablespoons of bottled white horseradish or to taste.

Faye's note: When I made this recipe, I cooled the beets overnight in the refrigerator and put it all together the next day. After processing the beets and horseradish separately and combining the rest of the ingredients, I processed everything together one last time to have a "finer" consistency.

Per 2- tablespoon serving: 13 calories; no fat; no protein; 3g carbohydrate; 2.5 sugar; 0.5 fiber; 67 mg sodium; no calcium; 60 mg potassium.


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