Thursday, March 31, 2005

Garlic-Grilled Squash Party

Winter Squash is great! When I first started to make this, I used a nice acorn squash. As I experimented, I found that summer squash, zuchini, and even pumpkin were a lot of fun to add. So if it's a squash, use it!

What I really like about squash is that when you eat it you KNOW you are eating something healthy! I never really liked just plain squash, but I've found that by adding a few simple herbs and using the right techniques can bring a subtle flavor to squash that sends my taste buds reeling!

Ingredients:
  • Several assorted winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into fairly large chunks (a little bigger than is needed to prevent losing squash through the grill grates)
  • 1 yellow squash and 1 zuchini squash, chunked the same size as the winter squash
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 1 red or green pepper, minced (optional: jalapeno or habernero peppers, if you dare!)
  • olive oil
  • black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

Preparation

Skewer the quartered onion on a kabob stick and place on the grill at medium to medium-high heat. The onions will need to grill a bit longer than the squash.

Toss everything else into a bowl. Mix it up. Coat the squash nicely with olive oil and all the spices and herbs.

When well coated, transfer everything to the grill. You can add some wood chips for smoke flavor (I often do) and grill the chunks of squash until fork tender. The time of the grilling will depend on the size of the chunks and the heat of the grill, but 5-10 minutes will usually do the trick.

When onions are done, remove from grill and arrange in the bottom of the serving bowl so that they make a nice bed and form a sort of "inner bowl" for the rest of the squash party. Then pour the grilled squash into the bowl and serve.

Zippy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Taters are great! Did you know that technically they aren't really a member of the potato family? Who cares, right?

Sweet Taters are great with butter and cinnamon and brown sugar (and more butter) but this recipe goes a different direction--more savory and hot. Their unique texture once mashed and the right spices make for an attractive side dish or even a dip if you want!

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-3 red-hot chilie pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 dash cinnamon, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

Preparation:

Steam (that's right, steam!) the cubed sweet potatoes until they are fork tender. The smaller the cubes, the more evenly they will cook and soften. Steaming prevents them from getting watter-logged. With about a minute or two to go, toss in the peppers to get them nice and soft, too.

Remove from the steamer to a mixing bowl. Add the butter and a dash of cinnamon (the cinnamon helps "bring together" all the flavors). Use a potato masher to mash up the sweet potates. Avoid over-mashing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Yummy-Fresh Guacamole

Yeah, this is an extension of the "Yummy-Fresh Salsa" recipe I just posted! What's Mexican food without guacamole, anyway!?!

Whenever my wife is in a grumpy mood, I just make her some guacamole. It doesn't fix everything, but at least you get Yummy Guacamole!!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 perfectly-ripe avocados
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 orange wedge
  • 1-2 Tbs sour cream
  • 1-2 Tbs "Yummy-Fresh Salsa"
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Remove the seeds from the avocado and place the "meat" of the avocado in a mixing bowl. Be sure to take a spoon and clean out all of the extra "dark-green" stuff that tends to stick to the skin--that literally is the best part! Toss the sour cream and salsa into the mixing bowl. Take a knife and fork and start repeating "cuts" across the guacamole. I prefer to "cut" instead of "mash" because it gives little avocado "bites" instead of avocado "mush" ... you figure it out.

Add the spices, sour cream, and the juice from the lime and orange wedge (yes, I said orange!). Fold the ingredients together and enjoy with chips or whatever!

Yummy-Fresh Salsa

My wife loves salsa. Usually I make a big batch for her on Sunday and we keep it in the fridge throughout the week. It's always ready to be pulled out for a snack or to mix in to other recipes! We even have a dedicated "salsa bowl" that we store it in. And this stuff is so easy to make that I think everyone should have it around, ready to go!

The most important part is to use as fresh and ripe of tomatoes as you can find. Did you know that most tomatoes at the grocery store are not ripe, but are put through a process that changes their color -- but doesn't actually "ripen" the flavor? I recommend growing your own to be sure!

Ingredients:
  • 4-6 ultimate ripe red tomatoes, sliced and stemmed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, to taste
  • jucie of 1 lime
  • black pepper, to taste
  • cumin, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste

Preparation:

Seed all the peppers and be sure to remove the "ribs" (the white part of the peppers) as well. Drop all the peppers, onions, and garlic into food processor and hit it with a few pulses to chop it up well. Remove from the food processor and place in your serving bowl.

Put tomatoes in the food processor and chop to the consistency you would prefer. Just before complete, add the cilantro leaves and lime juice and hit "pulse" on the food processor a few more times.

Transfer the tomato sauce to the serving bowl. Mix well with a spoon and add the other spices to taste. Serve with tortilla chips or optionally fresh vegetable chips.

Common Question:

Q: What's up with running two batches of the food processor, peppers first and tomatoes second? Why not just run them together?

A: Because I like to have two different consistencies for the mix! I like the tomatoes to be less chunky than the peppers. If you want it all mixed together, then go for it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Vampire Repellent

This is a great spread! Hot dog buns, hamburger buns, sandwiches... spread it on top of steaks or vegetables or whatever!

Ingredients:
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1-2 scallions
  • chopped basil, to taste (or herb of your choice)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • Olive oil

Preparation:

Cut the top off the bulb of garlic to expose every clove. Loosely wrap the bulb in aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil on the bulb. Hit it with a couple of turns of black pepper and salt, and toss it in a hot oven or place it in the coals of a barbecue grill for about 10-15 minutes. Roast the scallions also (they roast on a grill easily if you skewer with a kabob stick).

The garlic is done roasted when it is soft and has a wonderful full-bodied aroma. Let the garlic and onions cool for a few minutes, and then "squeeze" the garlic into a food processor and drop in the scallions as well. Be sure not to let any of the outer skin of the garlic fall into the food processor. Hit the garlic and onions with a few pulses of the food processor. Pour a teaspoon or so of the olive oil in the food processor, along with the herbs and hit for a few more pulses. Finally, drop the stick of butter in and run the processor until all the contents are well-mixed.

Use a rubber spatula to get all the mixture out and place it in the middle of a piece of kitchen plastic wrap. Roll the butter up into a stick and drop it in the freezer for a few hours. To serve, just slice off a few pieces like a regular stick of butter.

Zuchini Goat Cheese Pancakes

This isn't really a "breakfast" pancake but a variation of the German "potato pancakes" that Sgt. Schultz always savored over in "Hogan's Heroes" ... "I know nothing. Nothing!"

These are really, really savory! I really enjoy making and eating them, and they last several days and get better for leftovers too! It takes a bit of work to make and you need to watch them while they cook, but HEY most things that taste this good usually require some work!

This is one of our family favorites!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 zuchini, julienne
  • 1 yellow squash, julienne
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, julienne
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • parsley, minced, to taste
  • oregano, to taste
  • black pepepr, to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 egg (may use 2 egg whites if you want to cut fat)

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients except eggs, flour, and goat cheese in a large mixing bowl. Once well mixed, add the eggs and flour and fold mixture together well.

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add a small amount of oil to prevent sticking (substitute butter if you prefer). Place a thin circle of the mixture in the skillet, about one or two large serving spoons full. Immediately place some goat cheese crumbles on top and then cover again with another equal amount of the mixture (so the goat cheese is inside). Brown on one side, turn, and brown the other side.

Let rest for 1-3 minutes and serve.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sweet Venison Tenderloin

Venison (yes, that's deer meat) is often mis-understood. Many people do not know how to cook it and mis-understand the process. Ground deer meat works great in chili, and you could mix ground deer meat with hamburger to make good burgers, too... but this is about a deer tenderloin.

I have found that using a simple marinade for the deer meat works great. The sweetness of the brown sugar and the pull of the soy sauce plus the kick of the chili powder combines with the meat to create a great dish.

Ingredients:
  • 1 venison tenderloin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (use Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
  • 1/2 cup olive or sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
Directions:

Mix all ingredients but the tenderloin in a zip-top bag (large enough to hold the tenderloin and marinade). Shake well and add the meat. Let marinade for 2-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400. Place tenderloin on center rack and cook until inside temperature is about 150 degrees. Let it rest under foil for 5-10 minutes before cutting. As an alternative, the venison can be cooked on a grill or in a dutch oven.

Brick Chicken

Brick Chicken? What? Am I kidding?

Abosloutely not! This is a terrific way to make chicken on the grill! The brick is double-wrapped in clean aluminum foil and placed on top of the chicken breast. The weight and pressure from the brick helps the chicken cook faster so that it stays jucier and really helps make the grill marks look good and deep.

You can go lots of directions with this idea: Italian, Asian, traditional, barbecue, or whatever... but my favorite is Mexican.

Ingredients:
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Minced jalapeno
  • Minced red onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Juice from 2-3 limes
  • Pinch of salt, kosher,
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Cumin
  • 1-2 shots of tequila (optional)

Preparation:

Mix everything together in a zip-top bag and marinade the chicken for several hours.

Heat grill to "rocket-hot" and drop chicken breasts on the grill at a 45 degree angle and place a double-foil-wrapped brick on top of each breast. Cook for 3 minutes and then remove the brick to turn the chicken 1/2 turn (on the same side) and cook for another 3 minutes. This 1/2 turn gives the "handsome grill marks" on the chicken.

After the total of 6 minutes on the first side, turn the chicken and cook now for 2 minutes under a brick, and then complete another 1/2 turn and another 2 minutes. Of course, check for doneness, but my experience has shown that this is the right cooking time for just about any average chicken breast.

Serving Ideas:

I like it served with mexican rice and refried beans, but you could very easily cut for fajitas, tacos, or even put it on an open-faced corn tortilla with cheese on top. But once you cook chicken under a brick, you'll never want to cook it another way!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Disclaimer: Creative Cooking is not associated with creativecooking.com

Please, no one visit it... especially children.

Creative Cooking can be read at http://creativecooking.blogspot.com/. We are in no way related to creativecooking.com.

Fish Pockets

This is something easy to create and really wonderful--it looks like you spent so much time working on it and tastes great! It also is open to so many variations that I can't even count them! After this, try using cilantro, cumin, and lime juice to make it Mexican--or ginger and soy to make an Asian dish.

Also, this can be done in an oven or just as easily on a grill. The flexibility of this dish goes across not only cooking styles but cooking methods as well!

Ingredients:
  • 1 whitefish filet
  • 1/4 cup orzo
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh onion, zuchini, squash, or other vegetables, diced fine
  • 1 Tbs parmesan
  • Oregano, to taste
  • Basil, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix oregano, black pepper, and salt in tomato sauce. Set aside.

Tear off an about 8"x8" alumin foil square. Lay the orzo in the center of the square and place the fish filet on top of the orzo. cover the top of the fish with the chopped vegetables. Spoon the tomato sauce mixture on top and loosely close the foil packet so that steam can escape.

Place packets in oven on the center rack and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will vary based upon the size of the fish filet.

Remove from oven and serve on plate. Add fresh basil and parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Rich Avocado Salad

This is a fun salad dish for a formal dinner. Don't expect it to be a "huge" salad--this is a different kind of salad--one that has as much eye appeal for plating as anything else. When I have served it, everyone has really felt like they are getting the royal treatment--and it does taste great!

Ingredients:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 red pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced thin
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a few red onion rings
  • fresh cilantro
  • black pepper
  • olive oil

Preparation:

Place the juice of lime and olive oil in bowl and mix to make a dressing. Finely chop the cilantro and add to the mix, along with black pepper to taste.

Peel and slice the avocado lengthwise into 1/8ths and arrange on a salad plate at 1, 3, 6, and 9 0'clock (makes two salad plates). Arrange the pepper slices on the salad plate so that you end up with what looks like a colorful starburst or pinwheel.

On top of the arrangement, drop a few of the onion rings. Drizzle with the well-mixed dressing and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Super-Easy Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie is just awesome! If I could only have one dessert for the rest of my life, it would probably be this--and that's saying something because I know I really love ice cream! But there's just something about the zip of key-lime pie.

I pretty much stole this recipe from Emeril Lagasse on Food Network. He actually made the pie crust from scratch, but I prefer to cheat and use a ready-made pie crust. That's because when I want Key Lime Pie, I don't want to wait for it.

As a variation, try making different substitutions! Use oranges and lemons and even grapefruit if you like it... or maybe juice a watermelon (I just thought of that one--will try it this summer, sounds terrific!) . Other variations are to make two separate fillings and swirl them together, making a key lime/lemon pie, or a lime/orange pie, or a lemon/lime/orange pie! That trick makes an incredibly colorful and exciting persentation!

Use this recipe as a starting point, not a finish line!

Ingredients:
  • 1 Ready-made graham cracker pie crust
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk
  • 1 cup key lime or regular lime juice
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the pie shell. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, combine the sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over the top of the pie using a spatula. Sprinkle the lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream and serve chilled.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Grilled Zuchinironi Pizza

Hey, has everything I've been posting lately been "grilled" whatever? Well, not really, but a lot sure has! What can I say, I love the taste of grilled food! And when I learned how to grill pizza a while back I knew I was on to something!

This particular crust is a fairly thick sourdough-based crust. You could use a regular pizza dough crust if you want, but I like this variation.

The toppings here are all vegetable. I found a recipe for making great tasting "Zuchinnironi" pizza using thin zuchinni slices instead of pepperoni. It's better on my digestive system and it really does taste great! Like any other pizza recipe I post, feel free to vary the topings to your taste, but I encourage you to try this one at least once.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • 2 cups bread flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted tomato sauce
  • 12 thinly-sliced zuchinni circles
  • Chopped oregano, to taste
  • Chopped garlic, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh mozzerella cheese, chopped small, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Directions:

Pizza Crust. Combine the flour and salt, then mix in the sourdough starter. Depending on your starter, you may need to add warm water or not. The mixture should take about 10 to 15 minutes to come together into a sticky dough substance. Let it rest for 10 minutes and then begin kneading by hand. I use olive oil on my hands while kneading the dough--the extra olive oil will come in handy when working to keep the bread from sticking to the grill. Let the dough rise for several hours.

Zuchinnironi. Toss the zuchinni slices in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, some red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

Cheese: Slice up the fresh mozzerella cheese and let it come to room temperature just when you are ready to put the pizza on the grill. If you put cold cheese on the pizza, it will take longer to melt and will throw off the cooking time. Room temperature cheese will melt faster--which is what we want.

Sauce: Mix chopped garlic, oregano, and tomato sauce in a small sauce pan. Warm up the sauce just before you are ready to put the dough on. I have a side burner on my grill, so I use that. The warm sauce will help melt the cheese so the pizza will be ready all together at the same time.

Bringing it all together. Oil up your hot grill and one side of the crust. Place the oiled side down on the grill--this side that is down will eventually be the "top" of the pizza. Grill on high heat for 3 minutes and then give the dough a 1/4 turn, grill for another 3 minutes. Watch the dough because, depending on your heat, this may be too long. Do not let the crust burn.

When the first side is ready to turn, quickly apply some olive oil to the top (what will be the bottom) of the dough. Flip the dough and immediately put on the chopped mozzerela cheese and zuchinironi. Once they are in place, drizzle the nice-n-hot pizza sauce on top. Close the grill cover and cook for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, quickly open the grill cover and give the pizza a 1/4 turn. Immediately close the grill cover and cook for another 2 minutes.

Check and see if the cheese has melted. If not, move the pizza to a cool spot on the grill so that it does not take any more direct heat and let it continue to cook in the covered grill until done.

Now comes the hardest part ever: Remove from the grill and let it rest under aluminum foil for 3-5 minutes. It will cut much easier that way and the flavors will come together better.

Mustard Steak Fajitas

Who doesn't love fajitas? They always taste great and are fun to eat because you get to build them right there at the table, just like you like them! Want more veggies? Go ahead! Extra meat, hey you're building it! Cheese? Sour Cream? Guacamole? Olives? Whatever you want!

This recipe is for making the meat of the fajitas. The rest of the fajita, I leave up to your imagination!

Ingredients:
  • American mustard (cheap, yellow hot dog mustard)
  • Crushed garlic
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Directions:

Mix mustard, lots and lots of crushed garlic, and black pepper together. Smear it all over the flank steak. Grill on extra HOT for about 4 minutes each side and take it up. The best results for the meat will be to place them directly on hot coals of a chunk charcoal fire. If you don't have that option, do what you can. If you split your grill to have half hot and half warm, you can grill peppers and onions at the same time.

Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes--it will continue to cook on the inside a little more but not burn the outside. You can use this time to warm up tortillas on the grill.

Cut the meat at an angle (called "on the bias") across the grain of the meat and you have AWESOME mustard-garlic flank steak fajitas!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Smoked Salmon

Have you ever cooked food in a cardboard box? I have, and it made the best smoked salmon I've ever tasted! It quite possible was the best food I've ever had. I enjoyed the process so much that I put a "chronicle" with pictures and stuff on the web at http://cardboardboxsmoker.freehosting.net/ .

Y'know, most people get "smoked salmon" and it just tastes like raw fish to me, and I really don't like it. I like my smoked salmon to be "meaty" and "flavorful" and, well, cooked.

Ingredients (and stuff):

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed black pepper
  • Salmon filets, de-boned (may be skinned or not)
  • Alumninum foil
  • 1 flat pan for holding the fish
  • 1 flat board that will fit in the pan
  • Weights (I used 2 milk cartons)

Directions:

Cure the Salmon. Mix the sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Liberally apply the mixture (called the "cure") to one side of the salmon, and then the other. Wrap the salmon filet in aluminum foil, keeping it tight except on the "tail" end, where it should be loosely wrapped for excess juices to run out.

Place the wrapped salmon in the flat pan and place the board on top of the wrapping. Place the weights on top of the board to help the "cure" work. Place the entire apparatus in a refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Turn the fish at least once during the process.

After the salmon is cured, unwrap the meat and rinse off the excess cure. Pat dry with a paper towel and leave to dry in a cool place. Since a refrigerator will not work for this, I placed a couple of medicine cold packs under a towel and placed the salmon on top of the towel. Let dry for 1 to three hours.

Prepare the Smoker: Remove any tape from the cardboard box. Assemble it and place it upright in an area sutiable for smoking.

Cut a trap door in the bottom of the box for side access to the burner and skillet. The hole must be large enough to reach in and control the heat of the electric burner and to take the skillet in and out

Puncture one side of the box with two holes the size of the dowels. Slide the dowels through and puncture the other side so the dowels can continue thorugh the box. These dowels will support the grill. Test the grill to make sure you have a snug fit and it can support the weight of your food.

Place the electric burner in the center of the box on the bottom. Fill up the skillet with your smoking wood chips (soaked) and slide it on top of the electric burner.

Perforate the aluminum pie plate and place it on top of the skillet (to avoid flare-ups of any juices that may fall.

Turn on the burner

Place the grill on the dowels. Puncture the side of the box with one thermometer that can extend into the food--this will display the temperature of the food as it cooks. Puncture the side of the box with a second thermometer--this will display the internal temperature of the box. Place the second thermometer at approximately the same height of the food being smoked.

Be prepared to replace or add new wood chips for smoking as needed

Smoke the Salmon: Place the salmon on the grate inside and insert one of the thermometers into the meat. As the wood smokes, the heat and smoke flavor will cook the fish. When the temperature of the fish gets to 150 degrees F, you're done!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Ginger Grilled Pork Kabobs

Oh, my! I love ginger! It is such a unique flavor, and it goes so well with pork kabobs! Kabobs are especially fun because you can vary them based on what you have. Don't have tomatoes, use onion... or squash... or whatever!

This also works well with chicken, but I prefer to use pork chops and cut them into kabob-size pieces.

Here's a note on the product "Bragg's Liquid Aminos"--we use that whenever the recipe calls for soy sauce. To us, it just tastes better and it has to be better for you. but if you want, go ahead and use soy sauce. It's probably the only ingredient that I refer to by brand name, but that's because they're the only ones who do what they do. Try it, you'll find it tastes much better!

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup Bragg's Liquid Amino (or soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil (or other good oil)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 medium scallions, sliced thin
  • 4-5 pork chops cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Selected vegetables of your choice

Preparation:

Combine soy sauce, sugar, oil, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and scallions in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add cut pork chops and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1-8 hours.

Skewer the meat on kabobs, and alternate with selected vegetables of your choice. Grill on high heat, turning kabobs every 2 to 3 minutes until done.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Aunt Marilyn's Broccoli/Cauliflour Salad

My Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Dick live outside of Topeka, Kansas in a town called Silver Lake. They're awesome! Sometime I'll get her recipe for "Graduation Beans" that is really wonderful, but now it's time for a really good salad. Hey, any salad that has cheese and bacon in it has got something going for it, right??

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Mayonaise
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbs vinegar
  • 1 head cauliflour, diced very small so you have tiny "florets" about the size of a kernal of corn
  • 1 head broccoli, diced very small, just like the cauliflour
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2-4 strips bacon
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (more or less, to taste)

Preparation:

The night before, combine the mayo, sugar, and vinegar and set in the fridge. They will work with each other and come out terrific!

The next day, cook up the bacon and chop it into tiny pieces. Comine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and fold together to combine. Serve.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Grilled Strawberry-Banana Snowstorm

This is my favorite grilled dessert. The grilling of the strawberries really excites the sugars in the fruit and makes it so incredibly fully of intense flavor. It's also a lot of fun for a party because people can "build thier own" after you have completed the basic preparations.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch of bananas
  • 1 basket fresh strawberries
  • 1 small package frozen strawberries
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white wine (or water if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Whipped cream, optional
  • Nuts, optional

Preparation:

Pour the wine and sugar into a sauce pan, stir to combine over low heat. Add the package of frozen strawberries and increase the heat, stirring occasionally. As the mixture of strawberries thaw and the liquid reduces, you will get a very nice strawberry glaze for pouring over the top of the dessert. My grill has a side burner, so I do it there.

While the glaze reduces, prepare first the bananas and second the strawberries for grilling.

Bananas: cut each banana into two pieces and split each piece (to get two "halfs of a banana split"). On the "split" cut, try not to cut completely through the banana, making it more of a "banana SLIT" instead of a "banana SPLIT." Stuff the banana with chocolate chips and wrap each banana in an aluminum foil square. Leave a small opening in the top of each packet and pour a splash of lemon juice in the pocket.

Strawberries: Clean and cut the tops off of each strawberry. If the berries are large, feel free to cut them in halves or even quarters. Skewer to make kabobs.

Place the banana packets and straweberry skewers on the grill over medium-high to high heat. After 3 minutes, turn the strawberry kabobs to cook the other side. The smell will be fabulous!

After bananas and strawberries are done, remove from the grill. Keep the bananas in the pockets until ready to serve.

Serve bananas and strawberries over vanilla ice cream with the strawberry glaze on top. Optionally add the whipping cream and nuts to taste.

Quick Pizza Pitas

This is a real quick recipe to make a very tasty snack or lunch. You can vary it as much as you like with all kinds of pizza toppings, but I'm showing my favorite of canadian bacon, pineapple, and onion. If you're only cooking one or two, use a toaster oven.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pita
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • several small pineapple chunks
  • 3-4 slilces canadian bacon
  • 3-4 onion rings, or chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup mozzerella cheese
  • italian spices, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Top the pita with cheese, canadian bacon, and onion. (I like to put the sauce on last for this recipe).

Mix remaining ingredients (tomato sauce & spices) and spoon on top of the pita-pizza.

Cook for 5 minutes in a toaster oven at 400 degrees F.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Grilled Asparagus Parmesan

This is by far my favorite grilled vegetable recipe. Asparagus is just such a fun food, and it is so easy to make. The grilling carmelizes the asparagus just a bit, the parmesan adds a simple texture and the spices really excite the entire dish!

Ingredients:
  • 5-10 Asparagus spears
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped, to taste
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Zest of lemon, finely chopped, to taste
  • Zest of orange, finely chopped, to taste

Special equipment:

  • Grilling equipment
  • Two kabob spears

Normally, when cooking asparagus the temptation is to cut off the thick part of the root before cooking. Because we're going on the grill with this, I recommend doing that after cooking.

Prepare the asparagus by skewering the stems with the kabob spears, to kind of make "asparagus rafts." This will make cooking on the grill easy. The asparagus will tend to split if you are not careful, so be careful!

Grill the asparagus up on high grill heat about 3-5 minutes each side. I really like the fresh taste of asparagus while it is still crunchy, so I grill it less--others may want to grill more.

When done, remove from grill. Now is the time to cut the thick part of the stems off so that you have nice full-length stems that are slightly carmelized (blackened) from cooking and nice and warm. You may want to cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces here, but I like to keep each stem whole.

Place the asparagus in a bowl. Toss the asparagus with the lemon juice, lemon and orange zest, basil, black pepper, and salt. Once tossed, cover with freshly-grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Orange Mustard Pork Chops

This one is just fabulous!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Yellow Mustard
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce (or Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 or 2 strips Bacon
  • Pork Chops
  • 1/3 cup Flour
Create a mixture of the OJ, mustard, and soy sauce for a marinade. Rub the chops with the minced onion and chopped garlic. Marinade the pork chops for at least an hour.

Cook up bacon in skillet. Save bacon grease and bacon, set aside.

Cook pork chops either on grill or in skillet. Transfer some of the remaining marinade to the skillet with bacon grease and thoroughly cook. Add flour and to make gravy.

Serve gravy over pork chops.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Disappearing Peanut Butter Fudge

This is absoloutely delicious and incredibly easy to make. It's a variation of a recipie that I saw Alton Brown make on his show Good Eats (see links). Technically, it's not really fudge but it sure tastes great!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

VARIATION:

Chunky peanut butter can be used instead of creamy peanut butter

You can use any combination of white, dark, and milk chocolate chips, nuts, or whatever with the topping

Instead of vanilla, you can add some pure maple syrup

TOOLS:

Microwave-safe bowl, Mixing spoon, and an 8"x8" Flat bar pan dish or serving dish.

DIRECTIONS:

Place peanut butter and butter in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes and mix the contents--should be close to a liquid. Microwave some more until you have a nice liquid. Add the teaspoon of vanilla and mix the contents of the bowl.

Slowly combine the liquid with the powdered sugar.

Once combined, spoon the mix into your bar pan or serving dish. Smooth the mix evenly.

Once smoothed in the dish, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and gently press them down into the fudge mixture.

Refridgerate for 1 hour and serve. If the fudge sits out for too long, it can soften. Simply refriderate again.

Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup

So here's a Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup that everyone will love. It takes some time to make, but it is WORTH IT! I actually lick the bowl with this stuff!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb Smoked Chicken Breasts (prepare in your smoker, cut into small pieces)
  • 1 small bag frozen corn (or fresh would do too, if you have it!)
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion (or half of a large one) chopped
  • 2-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2-4 medium sized white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • 3 tortillas, sliced thin
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Fresh black pepper
  • Salt
  • Fresh finely chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • Fresh finely chopped green onion, for garnish
  • Olive oil
VARIATION:
You can smoke the peppers first if you want. Tabasco or other hot sauce can be added early on for flavor, too.

TOOLS:
Large soup pan
Stick blender (best), mixer, or food processor

DIRECTIONS:
Heat up the soup pan to a medium heat. Add olive oil and toss in the chopped onions (not the green onions for garnish), chopped peppers (save a small amount for later), chopped garlic, and a dash of each of the spices and hot sauce (if desired) to sautee for a few minutes, until carmelized.

Add the broth, potatoes, and half of the corn to the pan. Cook until potatoes are fork tender (about 25 minutes).

After potatoes are thoroughly cooked, use the stick blender and completely blend the contents of the soup. When complete, it will have a thick consistency. Use a food processor or blender if you don't have a stick blender and put the soup back in the pot over medium heat when complete.

Add remainder of the corn and peppers back into the thick soup, along with the smoked chicken. Bring the temperature of the soup back up (about 3-5 minutes).

After the soup is back up to temperature, lower the heat. Slowly stir in the tortillas first and then the cheese. When cheese is completely incorporated into the soup, season to taste.

Serve in a large soup bowl and garnish with the finely chopped cilantro and green onion.

Free Subscription to Food Arts Magazine