Posted in Cooking, Favorite Recipes, Video

Greek Lemon Chicken & Potatoes

This one is from Chef John @ http://foodwishes.blogspot.com

Greek Lemon Chicken & Potatoes

4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2/3 cup chicken broth, plus splash to deglaze pan
chopped fresh oregano for garnish

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 425º F (220º C). Lightly oil a large roasting pan.

Place chicken pieces in large bowl. Season with salt, oregano, pepper, rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Place potatoes in a bowl with the chicken; stir together until chicken and potatoes are evenly coated with marinade.

Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, to the prepared roasting pan, reserving marinade. Distribute potato pieces among chicken thighs. Drizzle with 2/3 cup chicken broth. Spoon remainder of marinade over chicken and potatoes.

Place in preheated oven. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Toss chicken and potatoes, keeping chicken skin side up; continue baking until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165º F (74º C). Transfer chicken to serving platter and keep warm.

Set oven to broil or highest heat setting. Toss potatoes once again in pan juices. Place pan under the broiler and broil until potatoes are caramelized about 3 minutes. Transfer potatoes to serving platter with chicken.

Place roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. Add a splash of broth and stir up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain; spoon juices over chicken and potatoes. Top with chopped oregano.

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Posted in Cooking, Favorite Recipes

Buttermilk Pie

This is a traditional southern style, simple pie; Buttermilk Pie. I know, that doesn’t sound like it should be good. But if you’re thinking that, you would most definitely be wrong. This pie is fantastic. I used to make it at the restaurant where I worked in Texas back in the 80’s. And on occasion, my Momma would make it for me when I would go home to visit.

If you have never made a pie, this one is really easy and would be an easy first pie to learn. It is custardy and creamy, and you will love it. And if you make it, and by some miracle don’t enjoy it, freeze it and send it to me!

Ingredients:

3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C).

2. Beat eggs until frothy; add butter, sugar, and flour. Beat until smooth.

3. Stir in buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and nutmeg; pour into pie shell.

4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until center is firm.

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Posted in Cooking, Favorite Recipes, food

Spaghetti Marinara

Pasta? With Miracle Noodles

Pasta is one of my favorite foods, especially after living in Italy for 3 1/2 years. Being on the ketogenic diet, however, has made pasta a once in a long while treat. That is until I found MiracleNoodles.com.

There is absolutely nothing hard about preparing Miracle Noodles themselves. It’s quite easy. Open the packet, drain, rinse, boil for two minutes, drain and dry them by placing in a dry pan on medium heat. Then add them to whatever sauce you’ve made.

The pictured dish is one I made, using the fettuccine style Miracle Noodles. The chicken legs are just regular baked chicken.

In this case, it is Italian Marinara Sauce (makes 2 cups)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 can 28 oz San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
10 fresh basil leaves, sliced very thinly

Directions

Heat olive oil and lightly saute the garlic.
Add the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes.
Add sliced basil and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and crushed red pepper.

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Posted in Cooking, Favorite Recipes

Chinese Pepper Steak

Low Carb Pepper Steak

1 pound beef top sirloin steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch squares
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

Directions: Pepper Steak

  1. Slice the steak into 1/2-inch thick slices across the grain.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and ginger in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Place the steak slices into the marinade, and stir until well-coated.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and place 1/3 of the steak strips into the hot oil. Cook and stir until the beef is well-browned about 3 minutes, and remove the beef from the wok to a bowl. Repeat twice more, with the remaining beef, and set the cooked beef aside.
  4. Return all the cooked beef to the hot wok, and stir in the onion. Toss the beef and onion together until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes, then stir in the green pepper. Cook and stir the mixture until the pepper has turned bright green and started to become tender, about 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, stir everything together, and serve.

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Posted in Cooking, food

Upgrading the Way I Cook

Thus far on this health journey, I have been keeping things really simple. The foods I have been eating have been kept as close to their original form as possible. I chop, slice, or dice my veggies and or meat, add some light seasoning, and sauté, bake or steam, and I’m done.

It is getting pretty boring though. That’s what I get for being lazy. So lazy that I’ve only fired up my smoker once since summer began, and I love BBQ. I do have lots of great recipes, and I need to start using them. Boredom has the potential to stop this great head of steam I have going. With a little more effort I can make my meals a little more interesting.

I don’t know what I will try first, but there are lots of recipes to choose from. One thing I have been thinking about is creating a cauliflower tortilla, using the same recipe for the crust I used to make my hamburger last week should work; just modified a little bit. I’m thinking I can press it thinner and toast it on the griddle. From this point, I could make fajitas, or enchiladas, or soft tacos.

I think I may try that this weekend. I’ll be sure to take pictures of it and let you know how it comes out.

I don’t know if that’s considered an upgrade or not, but it sounds good. I love fajitas. There are hundreds more recipes online. Some require ingredients I have never heard of. That’s mostly why I haven’t tried them yet. It’s time to do something new though.

Posted in Cooking, Favorite Recipes

Lemon Butter Chicken

This creamy, buttery, lemon flavored chicken dish will knock your socks off. It goes great with your favorite roasted veggies. It’s easy to make, and your family will be begging for more.

Lemon Butter Chicken (baked)

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups baby spinach, chopped

Directions: for Lemon Butter Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Season chicken thighs with paprika, salt, and pepper, to taste. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; set aside.
  4. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the skillet.
  5. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream, Parmesan, lemon juice and thyme.
  6. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, stir in spinach, and simmer until the spinach has wilted and the sauce has slightly thickened about 3-5 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet.
  7. Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Posted in Cooking, Favorite Recipes, food

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes w/Cream Cheese Icing

This particular cupcake does not offer a healthier choice. I’m not even interested in modifying it to make it more healthy. It would be ruined. Sometimes food IS about pleasure, strictly for our eating pleasure. And this chocolatey, banana, cream-cheesy treat will knock your socks off.

I learned to make this one at the Culinary Institute of Charleston (Trident Tech). The recipe makes 12 cupcakes. When you taste them you will be tempted to eat them all. So, make sure you have others over to share them. Enjoy!

The Cupcake

Warning: All ingredients should be weighed, NOT volume. In other words use a food scale, not a measuring cup.

7 oz granulated sugar
4.35 oz Flour
1.35 oz Cocoa powder
4 grams baking powder
2 grams baking soda
2 grams salt
1 whole egg
4.25 oz bananas mashed
4.25 oz water (warm)
2.15 oz milk
2.15 oz vegetable oil
2 grams vanilla

Directions:

1. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2.  In a second bowl, whisk together egg, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla.
3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine using a spatula.
4. Divide into paper lined muffin tin.
5. Bake at 360 degrees until the cupcakes spring back to touch.

Whipped Cream Icing

4 oz cream cheese (softened)
4 oz granulated sugar
.10 oz vanilla
8 oz heavy cream

Directions:

1. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla
2. In a separate bowl whip up heavy cream to medium peaks.
3. Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
4. You can whip the final mixture to a pipeable consistency but do not overwork the mixture.

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Posted in Cooking, Favorite Recipes, food

Boil and Bake Baby Back Ribs

This recipe serves 4. Prep time 10 minutes. Cook time 1-1/2 hours. Source: http://foodwishes.com, Chef John. A great way to satisfy your BBQ rib craving if you don’t have a smoker or grill.

I know that to the bbq purist out there boiling ribs seems like a sacralege. However, this particular recipe by Chef John really works well. So before you criticize, try this recipe. It really is good.

Ingredients:
1 slab baby back ribs
2-1/2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
6 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbsp kosher salt (less if using fine salt)
1 tbsp Chinese 5-spice
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 bay leaves

For the glaze:
1-1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1-1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp ketchup
1-1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tbsp honey
1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sambal chili paste, or to taste
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice

You may want to reduce some of the items in the glaze (soy sauce, brown sugar, honey) to lessen the impact on blood sugar levels. Or try the ribs without the glaze.

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients for the hot brine into a pot. Bring up to a boil and then back off heat to a mild simmer.
  2. Cut ribs into individual pieces and add to the brine mixture. Simmer for one hour.
  3. While the ribs are simmering, add all ingredients for the glaze in a separate bowl and combine.
  4. After ribs have simmered for one hour toss them in the glaze. Then lay out on a baking sheet. Save excess glaze.
  5. Bake the ribs for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. After 15 minutes, flip the ribs and paint with more glaze. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  6. If there is any glaze left, paint the ribs one more time and bake for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve hot with your favorite side dishes.

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Posted in Cooking, Journal Entry, Video

My BBQ Results

How did I do?

It wasn’t bad actually. I managed to keep my cooking temperature where I needed it; around 225ºF. My daughter and  cooked a rack of baby back ribs and a small pork shoulder. We kept our temperature for around 4 hours.

The door on the fire box had to be propped open to allow enough airflow to keep the heat at our desired temperature. The built in vents were not enough to allow the fire to keep burning.

We did end up using the mesquite wood. The smoke profile was not as potent as I thought it would be. I will definitely use something a little more impacting on the next cook. Of course the flavor of the meat was better the next day. That’s just the way it is.

The ribs and the butt were very tender, but not fall apart tender, which is too far cooked for me. I am  please with the way it came out. The weekends goal was to learn how to keep a steady enough temperature in my offset smoker to do a long cook. Perhaps I may try a brisket next, which would allow me to practice some seasoning.

There is a particular bbq flavor profile I am looking to replicate. It is the taste of the traditional Texas style brisket. You would think I’d know what I was doing being from Texas. But I was never the person cooking when it came to cooking brisket or anything else in a smoker or grill. I was the one at the table. I know what its supposed to taste like but, I never learned to do it.

I have a few rub recipes from school and a few I’ve collected online that may be good. The only seasoning on the ribs and butt was a little salt & pepper, and a little garlic powder. The aim was to keep it simple. It was good, but not what it could be. I think what I’m looking to produce is done with almost no salt. I’ll let you know the next time I have a go.

Posted in Cooking, food

Learning BBQ – my Favorite Food

This weekend I plan to cook some ribs and a pork shoulder. I need to to practice my almost non-existant BBQ skills. It amazing that I’m not very good at it, considering it is one of my favorite foods.

me_dave_1214I have had “BBQ” at a lot of people’s houses, and not very many of them know what they are doing. I do have one friend though, who kicks some serious ass. His name is David Collins. In my opinion David could be a proffessional chef. I have never eaten at Dave’s house and the food not be fantastic. And as far as BBQ, Dave has the Carolina BBQ, the Kansas City, and even Texas smokes securely in his back pocket. That’s right. Dave is a bad ass when it comes to cooking.

But now Dave lives too far away; about 5 hours away near Atlanta. So, I have to learn to do the BBQ thing myself. That’s not to say that I wont visit Dave on occassion. I am in Culinary school. What kind of a chef wouldn’t have at least a basic handle on BBQ? Especially one who loves to eat it as much as I do.

So what I want to practice this weekend is a long cook at low temperature to produce a tender rack of ribs and pork shoulder. I haven’t decided what type of wood I will use. I have some mesquite on hand, which would add a pretty potent smoke flavor (which I don’t mind). Or I may go out buy some  oak or hickory. They are not as potent; a little milder flavor. Hickory would add that same smoke flavor of some brands of bacon.

IMG_1991But then I’m lazy, so, I will probably use what I have. That’s my rig to the left. Sad to say, I, a Texan, had to watch some YouTube videos to learn how to maintain my heat. No time for pride to be getting in the way. I learned how much smoke actually needs to be produced, and how much is too much. In my thinking, lots of smoke was a good thing. But it turns out that too much smoke, or the wrong kind of smoke can ruin your meat. And certain types of wood such as pine or cedar can not even be used. It will not only ruin your meat, but also your smoker, because of the resin. It’s a good thing I did some reading because I was wondering about other woods. If you want more info about woods used to cook check out, The Pitboss BBQ Blog. Also, on YouTube, check out Offset Smoker Fire Management – how to video. And if you have a smaller type rig, check out BBQ Chicken (Love’s Wood Pit BBQ Recipe), a video on how to smoke a chicken. I’ve used the method and it works perfectly.

Well, thats all for now. I will let you know how it turned out. Someone may have to remind me though.