Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Kabobs

We had a nice warm couple of weeks here and I was ready for some good food off the grill and what's better than Kabob's? Their easy to fix, cook, and always come off loaded with flavor. They were so good that even my two year old was munching down on them!
Pork Tenderloin
Red Bell pepper
Yellow Bell pepper
Onion of your choice
Skewers; If using bamboo skewers be sure to soak them for at least thirty minutes before assembly, this will help keep them from igniting.

Cut the Pork Tenderloin into 2 inch chunks and set aside. Now cut the red pepper, yellow pepper, and onion into 2 inch chunks. For assembly, slide a slice of pepper or onion onto the skewer, doesn't matter what you start with, follow it with a piece of meat and another slice of pepper or onion. Simply repeat this process until all the meat has been used up. Then season with your favorite grill seasoning or simply with salt and pepper. If you run out of meat and have left over peppers or onions simply put them on a skewer and grill them at the same time.

To cook, prepare you grill for direct cooking with a medium hot fire, which simply means you will be cooking directly over the heat. Cook the kabobs about two minutes on each side being sure to rotate them and cook them on all sides. If you are doing an all pepper or onions, simply cook to tender all the way through. Serve hot with your favorite sauce.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grilled chicken with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

I've started to dig into my new Cooking Light; Cooking through the Seasons cookbook and I am loving this book. Which I think has more to do with all the fruit and veggies that are starting to come into season. I always have so much fun in the produce section of the grocery store when the fruits and veggies start getting fresher and fresher looking.

I wound up fixing this recipe for a spur of the moment get together with the in-laws. It was a great hit with everyone, including our little girl, so it's tot approved! We served it up with a side of frozen mixed veggies, did I mention I can't wait for all the fresh produce to roll in?
2/3 cup diced peeled ripe mango
2/3 cup diced fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
dash of crushed red pepper
cooking spray

1. To prepare salsa, combine first 8 ingredients. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. To prepare chicken, place each chicken rest half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2 inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Combine pineapple juice and next 5 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic gab. Add chicken to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.
3. Prepare grill.
4. remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done.
5. Place reserved marinade in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Drizzle over chicken. Serve salsa with chicken. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half, t tbsp sauce, and 1/4 cup salsa)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Knives and Cutting Board!

I recieved this pair of Victorinox Forschner Knives from my Dad, a six inch boning knife and an eight inch chef's knife.  I've gotten to use them several times and so far the seem to hold an edge really well, plus their really comfortable to use. The handles are Fibrox, or plastic, with a textured surface which make them easy to hold onto when their wet. I also recieved two knife blade covers with them to help protect the blades as well as your hands. The cases simply snap into place over the blade and held in place by four rubber grippers. I have to say I love these knives so much I've considered replacing my old set Chicago Cutlery knives, but they were my first set of knives and I just can't stand to part with them. After receiving the knives I decided it was time to add a butcher block to the mix as well. I purchased this side grain cutting board from Target and it was fairly inexpensive. I've used it a couple of times am fairly pleased with it. My only complaint is that it likes to run away from me when I'm chopping on it. To fix that I simply place a small kitchen towel or wash cloth flat on the counter top and then set the cutting board directly on top of it, this seems to help hold board in place.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blazy's Pepperoni Studded Lasagna!

This recipe was actually chosen by my wife while watching Guy's Big Bite one day, she thought it looked good. Well she made a good choice, but I must admit it is probably far from healthy. With ingredients like pepperoni and Italian sausage it's loaded with fat but it's so freaking GOOD! We both loved it and I'm already thinking of some variations of it that I can't wait to try.

2 pounds lasagna sheets
2 cups hand cut 1/8 inch slices pepperoni
4 cups tomato sauce
1 pound ricotta
16 ounces shredded mozzarella
2 pounds bulk Italian sausage, cooked
3.4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375º F.

In a medium saucepan add pepperoni and saute over medium heat until crispy, Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel. Do not discard the grease from the pan, place the Italian sausage in the pan and cook till done.

In a 10-by-14-by-3 inch baking pan or dish, pour 1 cup of tomato sauce in bottom and around sides. Layer lasagna sheets on the bottom of the pan, overlapping by 1/2 inch. Add 1/3 amount of ricotta, 1/3 amount of mozzarella, 1/3 amount of sausage, then sprinkle generously with the Parmesan, add 1/3 cup tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup pepperoni. Repeat this 2 more times.

On the very top sheet, top with remaining ricotta, tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, and dust with Parmesan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven; let sit for 15 minutes. Cut and serve immediately.

Guy's Tomato Sauce
3 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
5 medium-sized garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups skinned and diced Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil leaves 1 tbsp minced fresh oregano leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook over medium to low heat until transparent. Add garlic and cook until almost brown. then add tomatoes and cook for /2 hour over low to medium heat. Add the basil and oregano and continue to cook for another 1/2 hour. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My new Dutch Oven!

This year I've had some great additions to my kitchen utensils and I am finally getting around to sharing them with everyone. The first on my list to show off is a brand new 5 qt. Lodge Logic Dutch Oven! I am so excited to have this new tool and can hardly wait to use it. It comes pre-seasoned from the factory and is ready to use right out of the box. It included basic instructions on care and use, but there are plenty of sources with a little better instructions. My wife, who is the one who gave me this gift, was kind enough to include a cook book with it as well; The Beginner's Guide To Dutch Oven Cooking by Marla Rawlings. This book is full of information on caring and using a dutch oven both inside and outside the house, which makes this a great book for someone new to dutch oven cooking.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Italian Vegetable Pie

I fixed this dish for the sole reason it has Tofu in it, and thus I would be able to say I have tried Tofu. I am absolutely disgusted by even the look of Tofu, so much I can't even fathom trying it. I mean it's a firm gelatinous substance made from soy beans, how good can it taste? The great news is that I loved this dish! It's loaded with enough flavor that any flavor the Tofu has is pretty well masked and just added some texture to the food. It was even well received by my daughter so we have another Tot approved recipe as well.

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup mushrooms (about 3 ounces)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 (12/3 oz) package firm tofu, drained and crumbles
1 (2.5 oz) bottle fat-free marinara sauce
6 cooked lasagna noodles, cut in half cross wise
Cooking spray
1-1/2 cups pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
2 Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato paste and next 5 ingredients; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat , and simmer uncovered, 10 minutes.
3. Arrange lasagna noodles spoke-like in the bottom and up sides of a 9 inch deep dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Spread 3 cups tofu mixture over noodles. Fold ends of noodles over tofu mixture; top with remaining tofu mixture, covering ends of noodles. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Yield 8 servings.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ugly Drum Smoker; Lid handle and Body Handle

If you remember I built my own BBQ smoker this last fall and had it cook ready, but I'm far from having it to the point I would call it completed. I have spent most of this winter waiting for materials to come available to use as handles for both the lid and the body.

The lid handle is actually a grab bar from the side of a Fire Truck and is held in place with 1/4" nuts and bolts. The handle bar is held in place with a small machine screw, this prevents the bar from rotating freely inside the risers. I also added a small Tel Tru thermometer to the center of the lid as I had noticed that the center of the cooker runs hotter on cold days.

There are two other additions to the smoker as well. One is the chrome exhaust tip I added to the smoke stack, which is simply a little added flair. The second addition are two 6 inch drawer pulls to the body, they sure help in carrying it across the yard.

Now I still have a few more additions to make, such as a work table, a bottle opener, and possibly a new thermometer to the side. The thermometer currently residing there is becoming unreliable and has certainly seen it's better days. I may even make a small hole so I can run a digital thermometer probe into the cook chamber, but I'm not sure about that one yet as I will need to think of way of sealing the whole up when it's not in use.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Salsa Stoup and Double-Decker Baked Quesadillas

I found this recipe in Rachel Ray's cookbook 365: No Repeats, which is likely another underutilized cookbook that I have setting on my shelf. It's full of all kinds of different recipes, the only problem I have is that I am no close to any specialty stores to purchase some of the more ethnic ingredients, but there are still plenty of recipes with ingredients that can be purchased at most local grocery stores. The one thing you have to be prepared for is that Rachel Ray is all about preparing food in fun and interesting ways, so some of her recipes may not be for every one. This particular recipe came out great and only presented me with a few minor short comings, which was likely due to me miss reading the directions, no shock there. But overall it's a pretty healthy meal that can be prepared very quickly.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (twice around the pan), plus some for brushing the tortillas
2 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes (may need to chop these to make them easier to eat)
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6- 6 to 8 inch flour tortillas
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack
Sour cream, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and the jalapenos, bell peppers, onions, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then saute the veggies for 5 minutes. Add all the tomatoes and stock and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the cilantro.

Paint one side of 2 tortillas with oil and place them, oiled side down, on a large cookie sheet. Mix the cheddar with the scallions and divide between the tortillas evenly. Top with another tortilla and top each of those with equal amounts of Pepper Jack Cheese. Set the last tortillas on top and brush the tops with oil. Bake the quesadillas for 10 minutes, then cool for 5 minutes to set. Cut each into 6 wedges.

Serve each bowl of stoup with 3 wedges of quesadilla along side and sour cream for topping either.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Blog Look!

Today is the day I get to roll out my new Blog Header and a whole new look on my blog. I have to give a huge thank you to my Mother-in-law for designing the header as well as my sig, I love them both. I also have to thank you to my wife for adding all the extra features and the overall look of the blog, I am really excited about how it looks. I hope everyone else enjoys it too!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fried-Chicken Salad

I have another Tot approved recipe and I so did not see that coming! My dear daughter is always so hit and miss when it comes to meat of any kind, so I prepared this recipe with the idea that I would be heating up some leftovers for her to eat, boy did she prove me wrong! She must have devoured two and half chicken strips and even ate a small amount of the romaine lettuce, of course it all had to be drowned in the Honey Mustard Dressing, but she ate it.

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
14. cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup low-fat or nonfat buttermilk
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups thickly sliced romaine lettuce (cut across ribs)
1 (15 ounce) can whole baby beets, drained and halved(I omitted these)
1/2 cup fat-free honey mustard dressing
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish. Combine chicken and butter-milk in a bowl; cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Drain chicken; dredge a few strips at a time in bread-crumb mixture.
2. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add oil; place over medium heat until hot. Add chicken to skillet; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.
3. Arrange 1 cup lettuce on each of 4 plates; divide chicken and beets among plates. Top with 2 tablespoons dressing and 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Turkey Meatball Subs!

I like meatball subs, I just don't eat them that much because their so messy and probably not all that good for you. But the other day I had a craving to have a Meatball Sub, so I had to try and lighten it up a bit. I went with ground turkey, spiced it up, and then fried it in enough Olive Oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. It was delicious and the whole family loved it, so I have another Tot approved recipe!

1lb lean ground turkey
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 jar of favorite Spaghetti sauce
shredded mozzarella

1. Mix all the ingredients and shape into 30 meatballs approximately 1" across.
2. Coat a large frying pan with enough olive oil to completely cover.
3. Cook the meatballs for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through and nicely browned on the outside.
4. Place spaghetti sauce in a medium pot and begin heating with medium heat. When meatballs have been cooked through place them in the pot of spaghetti sauce to keep warm.
5. Assemble subs by placing meatballs in a whole wheat hot dog bun, spoon spaghetti sauce over meatballs, and cover with shredded mozzarella.
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