Friday, July 29, 2011

Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue can be a big deal depending on where you live in this country. A few places known for their BBQ: Georgia (of course), North Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas. It seems like most barbecue fanatics have their own preferences on their sauce (which may be the most important part.) Some like them sweet, some tangy, some with a kick-your-ass hotness, etc. I'm not sure I've find my favorite style because it really depends on my mood. In fact, I like to have a selection in front of me so that each bite gets a different flavor. Maybe that's not normal?

With the slow cooked pork I made the other night, I set up my usual selection of sauces. I wanted to share because these three are really good ones if you are looking for a recommendation. Not pictured but also good...Williamson Brothers Original Sauce.

Big Al's Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce (Tangy and Sweet), Smack Yo Mama Death Wish Sauce (Spicy), Sticky Fingers Habanero Hot (Spicy)

What's your favorite?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mole Steak Tacos w/ Smoky Sauce & Guac

Mmm...just thinking about last night's dinner is making my tummy rumble. But that might be because I didn't eat lunch today. Or does a soy frappucino count as lunch? Either way, these tacos were delicious! They take a little bit more effort than the usual tacos I make but it's so worth it. I made guacamole to serve atop the tacos and to dip chips in of course. Though it's not included in the recipe, I also sauted some green bell pepper and onions to put in the tacos.

Mole Steak Tacos (sauce recipe below)
made 8 small tacos

small corn tortillas
sauteed peppers and onions
homemade guacamole
3/4 lb. flat iron or skirt steak
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder


Preheat oven to 500 degrees in preparation for the sauce. You may choose to make the sauce first and let it sit while preparing steak.
Combine all the spices above in a small bowl.
Rub spice mixture onto both sides of the steak.
Grill steak for a few minutes on each side to desired temperature. Most people prepare it medium rare.
Allow steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing against the grain.
Serve in tortillas mixed in with veggies and the sauce and guac spooned over the top.

Smoky Sauce

 1 poblano pepper
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, quartered
1 garlic clove
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
1-2 Tsp canola oil


 Oven should be preheated to 500 degrees. Put poblano pepper in boiling water until just softened. Remove pepper and slice when cooled.
Place onions, tomatoes, and garlic in a baking dish, mix with canola oil and roast for 20 minutes.
Puree roasted veggies, poblano pepper, chipotle pepper, lime juice, and salt in a blender.
Pour sauce over tacos.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shopping In The Garden

What do you do when you have an abundance of homegrown tomatoes and basil? You make some sauces that are way better than what you find jarred in the grocery store! If you have access to produce straight from the garden, I highly recommend making use of it. The flavors are so much better.

Technically, this was one dish but I made two different things and mixed them together. I even had leftovers. I froze the pesto to use at a later time. But, the tomato mixture got reused the next day to make bruschetta. Yum! You can serve these over any pasta but a small ridged type works best. I used Orecchiette. Pesto is typically made using a food processor but those scare me a little bit and I'm ashamed to admit that I don't really know how to use mine. So, I cheated and used a blender.

Salsa Cruda

about 3-4 large tomatoes, cored and diced (4 cups)
1/2 cup excellent-quality olive oil
1/3 cup chopped basil or italian parsley
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp. kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes

 Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Mix with pasta (and pesto if desired).


2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
2 grinds of fresh black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup walnuts

Toss basil, garlic, pepper, and salt in a food processor (or blender) and process until finely chopped. Scrape the sides to make sure all the basil and garlic get chopped. Pour half the olive oil in and pulse. Next, add the cheese and remaining oil and pulse. Lastly, add in the walnuts and pulse until roughly chopped. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fiesta Fiesta! A Taste of the Caribbean.

When I hear the word "Caribbean" I think of so many wonderful things. The Pirates of the Caribbean was always my favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom as a child. I can still remember each section of the ride and the nice cool caves the line for the ride takes you through so that you get to escape the heat for a short (or long) time. Some of the movies were great and some not so great. But who doesn't love Johnny Depp as a pirate?! But even better than a ride is the actual Caribbean. What I would give to be on an island with clear blue water and a tropical drink right now... I would love to go back to Bonaire, Curacao, St. Kitts, Grenada or St. Maarten. But for now, some Caribbean-inspired cooking will have to do. Speaking of Caribbean food, there is a place you need to check out if you are local. Caribbean Fiesta on Old Milton Pkwy in Alpharetta makes some damn good chicken and sides. It's definitely not a fancy restaurant but they know what they are doing for sure.

I found the recipe below in Cuisine At Home magazine. It was pretty amazing if you ask me! I also opened a bottle of Chestatee White Wine from the Three Sisters Vineyards in North Georgia. It was a nice wine to go with spicy foods but wasn't amazing overall. Their more premium wines are much better.

Caribbean Pork Bowl with Black Beans and Rice
Makes 4 large servings (pic after recipe.) Source: Cuisine At Home 

For salsa:
4 -6 tomatillos, quartered
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 jalapeno, chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 lb smoked kielbasa cut into slices

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice


  • Blanch tomatillos in boiling water for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.  Remove husk, drain and rinse in cold water.

  •  Pulse tomatillos with pineapple, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, sugar, and salt in a processor or blender until finely chopped. Cover and chill. 

  •  Blend spices.

  • Toss trimmed pork with spice mixture. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute pork for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  •  Stir in kielbasa and garlic. Saute an additional 5 minutes or until kielbasa begins to brown, stirring to keep the garlic from burning.

  •  Deglaze with lime juice and boil until syrupy, 1-2 minutes. Serve with black beans and rice, and top with tomatillo salsa.

    Black Beans and Rice
    1 cup long grain rice
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 cups chicken broth
    1/2 cup white onion, chopped
    2 cans black beans (15 oz. each), drained and rinsed
    1/2 cup chicken broth

    Saute garlic in oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add rice and saute a minute until golden. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper.

    In another pan, saute onion in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add beans and broth, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer until hot. Add broth if necessary. 

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Almond Crusted Chicken Salad w/ Teriyaki Dressing

    I'm not usually into salads for dinner unless they are a side item. But an entree-type salad like this can sometimes hit the spot. This one was pretty good. It was also quick and easy to prepare.

    Almond- Crusted Chicken Salad w/ Teriyaki Dressing
    Serves 2.

     1/2 lb. chicken tenders, uncooked
    black pepper
    1 egg
    1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce (I like to use Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce. I've seen it at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's)
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
    1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
    1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
    mixed salad greens
    1 small can mandarin oranges 

    1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
    1/8 cup teriyaki sauce
    1 Tbsp honey (I used a mix of Tupelo and Wildflower types. This is up to your preference)
    1 Tbsp vinegar
    1/4 cup olive oil


    1. Season chicken with pepper.
    2. Mix egg with teriyaki sauce. Pour flour into a separate dish. In a third dish, mix almonds and crumbs.
    3. Dredge chicken in flour. Next, dip chicken through the egg mixture before coating in the almonds/crumbs.
    4. In a large pan or skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for approximately 12 minutes flipping half way through.
    5. Serve tenders over lettuce mixed with orange sections. Pour dressing over.

    For dressing:
    Whisk all ingredients together.


    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Ancho-Rubbed Steaks

    For those that check my blog on a regular basis, you may have noticed that my posting has become less frequent. To be honest, I have become disenchanted with the whole blogging thing. But, "C'est la vie." It's hard to come up with fun blog posts on the spot when I feel like posting a new recipe. It's also a lot more lonely than I thought it would be. However, I do still want to share recipes for anyone that is interested and also to have a place where they are organized for my own benefit. So I will continue to post for now.

    This was an especially easy recipe. The spices add a slight kick to your steak but aren't spicy enough to scare away those who fear the hotness. I served it with the corn from this blog post. We also opened up our Zinfandel from Harvest Moon. You know from this trip.  It was sooo good. I usually think of Zinfandels as being spicy but this felt really light almost like a Pinot Noir.

    Ancho-Rubbed Steaks


    2 NY Strip or Ribeye Steaks
    Fresh lime, squeezed
    Kosher salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp ground allspice
    1 tsp. Ancho chile powder  

    1) Get your grill started
    2)  Spread lime juice evenly over one side of the steaks. Then, season with salt.
    3) In a small bowl, combine pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and chile powder. Use mixture to season steaks on the side with lime juice and salt. 
    4) Let the steaks sit for about 15 minutes.
    5) Grill the steaks starting with the seasoned side down and then flip until it reaches desired doneness.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Chinese Takeout? I Don't Think So!

    Ever since I started experiencing more authentic Chinese food through some of the new restaurants that have opened up, I decided that I dislike the Americanized dishes that they always serve at your everyday Chinese restaurants. Regardless, I decided to make this Lo Mein dish anyways because I wanted to use the cabbage that my father-in-law grew in his garden. (Needless to say, I waited too long and it had gone bad so I had to leave it out.)  Oops. Also, my grocery store didn't have fresh chinese noodles so I had to buy the packaged type. It didn't seem to make much of a difference.

    I really really liked this dish. Fresh Lo Mein is much better than the stuff you get at the mall foodcourts for sure. And I may or may not have been an expert on those places in my college days...yuck. So, next time you are craving some Chinese food, try this at home! It's even more delicious with some Sriracha mixed in. It made more servings than I care to admit that I ate for both of us with leftovers for lunch the next day.

    Pork Lo Mein with Seared Scallions & Shiitakes
    Source: Fine Cooking magazine

    3/4 lb. boneless pork ribs, cut into 1/4 in strips
    2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
    2 Tbsp. dry sherry
    1 tsp. cornstarch
    2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
    9 oz. fresh Chinese noodles
    5 Tbsp. canola oil
    14 to 16 scallions, cut into 1 in. pieces
    4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
    1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
    2 medium garlic cloves, minced
    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
    3 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
    2 cups mung bean sprouts, rinsed
    2 tsp. sesame oil
    Optional: Sriracha sauce

    In a bowl, toss the pork with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, the cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

    Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and cook the noodles, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold water until the noodles cool to about room temperature. Turn the noodles out onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry.

    Heat 1.5 tablespoons of the canola oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the noodles and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden and slightly crisp, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, replace the damp paper towels on the baking sheet with dry ones. When golden, transfer the noodles to the dry towels.

    Heat another 1.5 tablespoons of the canola oil in the nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the pork and cook, tossing often, until browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl.

    Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil into the skillet and then add the scallions, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the cabbage, bean sprouts, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the cabbage just starts to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.

    Add the noodles and pork to the pan and cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce, the remaining 1 tablespoon sherry, and the sesame oil and cook, tossing the ingredients, for 1 minute more. Serve immediately. Add Sriracha to taste.

    Friday, July 1, 2011


    Yes, that is how you pronounce it not KEE NOH AH. (For those that don't know.) But you probably do by now since this is the "new" superfood on everyone's tongues these days. For all you quinoa veterans, I have a recipe for you if you are looking for an additional way to get your quinoa in. If you are a quinoa rookie, I would probably recommend starting with something different. I liked this dish but it wasn't overall amazing or anything like that.

    If you think this is your recipe, let me know. I have no idea where I got this from since it's been hanging around in my recipe binder for awhile. Also, I kind of forgot to take pictures until we were almost done with the meal but I gave you what I could!

    Oh yeah, thank you, Mom, for the lemon. It was used!

    Moroccan Quinoa Patties with Minty Yogurt Sauce
     Makes about 6 small patties

    You can make the sauce ahead of time:
    Minty Yogurt Sauce

    2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
    2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/2 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt

    Whisk or blend all ingredients together to make sauce.

    Moroccan Quinoa Patties

    3/4 cup of uncooked quinoa
    2 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted and then chopped
    2 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
    1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
    2 eggs
    1 snack-pack of raisins
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground coriander

    Cook quinoa on the stove according to package directions.  Put finished quinoa in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes to cool.

    Mix the cooled quinoa with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

    Heat a large pan/skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Take a few spoonfuls of the quinoa mixture and add to the pan. Flatten to form patties. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Serve patties with the sauce.