Wish Upon A Dish: June 2013

June 30, 2013

Creamy Coleslaw 101

With the holiday weekend approaching, I imagine we all have everything in control, the menu is written, assignments are handed out and shopping list is just about done. Last minute meat run should wait for a final RSVP tally, yes?

While the hamburgers and hot dogs are best left ordered till the last minute in this hot weather, there are a few sides that can be made ahead of time and actually benefit from advanced preparation. The most well known picnic and BBQ side is coleslaw. Yes, pasta and potato is up there but in this family, coleslaw rules.

I have two favorites, a creamy basic mayo/vinegar dressing that my mom always made and the other, an Asian-style dressing.

I like to serve the Asian one with fish tacos and the mayo one with all things dry rubbed BBQ. American coleslaw works on our BBQ spice, like a raita with Indian foods or sour cream with Mexican.

Making coleslaw is all about technique. If you do not prepare the cabbage correctly you end up with a watered down, bitter dressing when you really need it to be full flavored. Cabbage and onions are all water, so like the cucumber in raita, you need to salt, press, wash and dry before adding the dressing. I would highly recommend storing the prepared cabbage mixture in the fridge, undressed, with the dressing in a separate bag. Toss the two together the day of serving.

For enough coleslaw to serve 6-8 people, you need 1 large head green cabbage, 1 large carrot, 1/2 sweet onion and 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds. The dressing is simply mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar and black pepper. Remember even though the cabbage is washed, it will still have absorbed salt, so taste before adding.

This slaw comes together in no time if you pop the shredding blade into the processor. If you do not have that blade, just pulse until you get the size you want, or take out your grater and do it the manual way. It's all good.

Creamy Coleslaw
Prep time: 15 minutes
Unattended time: 1-4 hours or overnight
Cook time: 0

* 1 pound cabbage (about 1 medium head), shredded fine or chopped
* 1 large carrot, grated
* 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or t teaspoon table salt
* 1/2 medium sweet onion, minced
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* Black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
* 2 tablespoons favorite BBQ sauce

Set the shredding disk in your processor and starting with the cabbage, then the carrot and then the onion.
Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables, toss to distribute, place in a colander over a bowl, place a smaller bowl on top with a large can of tomatoes. Let it sit for 1-4 hours. Throw out the liquid in the bottom bowl, wash off the vegetables and dry with paper towels, do not squeeze.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before making the dressing (mayo to BBQ sauce).

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June 28, 2013

Herbed Bleu & Goat Cheese Stuffed Burgers

This might look messy but it was just the melted goat and Maytag Bleu that oozed out when I cut open these burgers. I had a nob of goat cheese that I mixed with fresh herbs from my garden and then when I saw the unopened Maytag, I knew I was heading into 'Over the Top' land.
The Nudge is not a big fan of cheddar stuffed burgers but last year I bought blue cheese & bacon burgers at our butchers and when asked if he was interested in what I was making for myself, he was 'all in'.

I swear I only used a tablespoon of the cheese mixture but goat is by nature a creamy cheese but surprisingly it did not overwhelm the burger. It also did not help that I have no patience and I had to see the insides.

If you are looking for a fun way to surprise your friends and family this July 4th, make these stuffed burgers. If you don't like blue cheese, use Cheddar, Jack or a Smoked Gouda. Really, if the kids will only eat Velvetta, place a cube in the middle but be careful, it might be as hot as lava, so let it rest well.

I think I will be making these many more times in the next coming months and I know I don't even have to sell the idea of them.

Maytag & Coach Cheese Stuffed Burgers
Prep time: 20 minutes
Grill time: 8 minutes
Yield: 4 patties

* 1oz Coach goat cheese
* 1oz Maytag Bleu Cheese
* 1 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme, chives, basil and parsley
* 1 pound ground sirloin
* 4 buns
* sliced tomato, lettuce or my BLT Jam

1.  Place cheeses and herbs in a small processor and process until mixture is well blended. Taste for salt & pepper.
2. Divide meat into 4 balls. Remove 1/3 of meat off to the side and flatten the remaining meat into a patty with a wall around the edges (it should resemble a child's pool.
3. Fill the cavity with 1/4 of the cheese/herb mixture and spread evenly. Make a smaller patty with the remaining 1/3 meat, top the cheese and seal the edges well. Repeat 3x.
4. Grill for 4 minutes on each side, remove to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes or it will look like mine.

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June 26, 2013

Mushroom Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

Mushroom-Stuffed Lasagna Rolls with Tomato Sauce
8 Servings; about 250 calories each

4 tsp olive oil
2 med onions, chopped
2 med garlic cloves, minced
1 med red bell pepper, chopped
1 med carrot, grated
1 tbls fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp dried marjoram, crumbled
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1lb can whole tomatoes, undrained
2 tbls tomato paste

1 tbls olive oil
1/2oz dried porcinis, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then chopped.
1 large leek, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 med shallot, minced
1 med garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp dried marjoram, crumbled
1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
1/8 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/8 tsp ground mace
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
8 tbls Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp salt

8 lasagna noodles (ruffled edged ones)

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over med-high heat. Add onions, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, basil, marjoram, pepper and rosemary. Cook until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently, about 5min. Add wine and boil until almost all liquid evaporates, about 5mins. Add tomatoes; break up large pieces with spoon. Mix in tomato paste. Reduce to low, cover and simmer 45mins, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring frequently, about 10 mins. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

For Filling:
Heat oil in hvy large skillet over med heat. Add mushrooms, leek, shallot, garlic, marjoram, lemon peel, rosemary, mace and pepper and stir 2mins. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 30mins, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until reduced to thick paste, stirring frequently, about 10mins. Mix in 5 tbls Parmesan and salt. Cover and refrigerated at least 20 mins. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cook noodles in salted boiling water until just tender but still al dente. Drain and submerge in cold water. Spread half of sauce over bottom of 9" square baking pan. Drain 1 noodle and pat dry. Place on work surface. Spread 3tbls filling on noodle, leaving 1 1/2" border at each end. Roll up jelly roll fashion. Arrange seam side down over sauce. Repeat with remaining noodles and filling, arranging noodles in pan so they just touch. Cover and bake 25mins. Spoon remaining sauce decoratively over rolls, cover and bake 20mins. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tbls Parmesan and bake, uncovered until cheese melts, about 5 mins.

I adapted this recipe from a cannelloni recipe I saw, because I was looking for a different first course pasta dish that wouldn't weigh down the meal. I have served 1 lasagna roll as a first course to a seafood dinner or with a salad as a main meal. Even with 2 rolls and a salad it is still a healthy meal.

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June 25, 2013

Grilled Shrimp & Monkfish Boullabaisse Over Risotto Milanese

Yes, I know. This dish is both French and Italian. They have been known to play well together.
I haven't had risotto in over a year and I was in the mood.

The French would just dip bread into the sauce that was spread with a spicy, garlicky rouille.
I started this dish a few days before with a bowl of steamed mussels, so in actuality this is a three-for, a recipe for a broth to steam the mussels in, a recipe for a Bouillabaisse sauce and a recipe for Risotto Milanese.

Since I knew where I was going at the onset, I created the steaming broth using ingredients traditionally one would use to make a stock to cook the fish heads and bones in, at the start of a Bouillabaisse. Since I did not have heads and bones, I added clam juice and a jarred seafood base. The mussels added their salty brine and the chorizo added the savory. It turned out to be an excellent substitution and better than I planned.

By the way, the mussels were phenomenal, if I say so myself, with not one uneaten (if you do have uneaten mussels, just puree them and add to the broth).
While you can make this dish without the addition of the mussels, you could add clams to the Bouillabaisse.

Once you strain the mussel broth, it can sit in the fridge for up to three days, so plan accordingly.
You do not want salmon, mackerel or any oil-based fish for your final dish, so pick firm fleshed white fish. I choose monkfish and shrimp but cod, scallops or a mixture of any one will do well.
If you have never eaten monkfish, some say it's a poor man's lobster. It does have the same structure, but do not be grossed by the appearance, try it and you will love it.
I was grilling my fish first so I left the cod in the freezer but if you can get halibut (which grills well), by all means, use it.

If you want a dish to impress, this is it.
Truly one of the best seafood dishes I have ever made and something you would most definitely find on a restaurant menu.

Steamed Mussels
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

* 1 bottle clam broth
* 1/2 cup white wine
* Pinch of saffron
* 1/2 medium onion, chopped
* 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
* 8 whole peppercorns
* 1/4 tsp celery seed
* 1/4 tsp fennel seed
* 1/2 chorizo link, cut into 1/2" pieces
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 4 sprigs thyme
* 1 small carrot, grated
* 2 bay leaves
* 2 pounds mussels, washed and scrubbed, beards removed

1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Saute the garlic, onion, carrot and chorizo until soft and the chorizo in browned. Add the white wine.
2. In a small bowl of hot water, soak the saffron for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add the white wine, and stir. Add the bay leaves, the clam juice, saffron, peppercorns, celery and fennel seeds and thyme. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add the mussels, cover and steam for 10 minutes or until they are all opened. Discard any that do not.
5. When done, strain the steaming broth into a container and store in the fridge.

Bouillabaisse Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 cups

* 1 sweet onion, julienned
* 1 (14oz) can stewed tomatoes
* Zest and juice of one small orange
* 2 tablespoons Pernod or anise liquor
* 2 tablespoons minced garlic
* 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
* Pinch of saffron
* Mussel broth
* Salt & pepper

* Grilled seafood (monkfish, shrimp, scallops, calamari)

1. Place all ingredients (up to seafood) in a large stock pot and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve.
2. Ladle sauce over grilled seafood and serve with risotto.

Risotto Milanese
Adapted from foodnetwork.com
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
* Kosher salt
* 2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
* 2 large pinches saffron
* 3 to 4 cups chicken stock, kept HOT
* 1 1/2 to 2 cups dry white wine
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 cup frozen peas (optional)

1. Coat a large saucepan generously with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and sweat them until translucent, about 5 minutes. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, letting the rice slightly stick to the bottom of the pan and scraping it off. It should also sound crackly.
2. Add the saffron to the hot chicken stock; the stock should turn bright yellow.
3. Add the wine to the pan until it covers the surface of the rice. Season with salt and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the wine has absorbed into the rice. Add the saffron chicken stock to the pan until it covers the rice. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the stock has absorbed into the rice.
4. Repeat this process two more times with the hot saffron chicken stock. When the third addition of the stock has absorbed and the rice is very creamy, bite a couple grains of rice to be sure it is cooked perfectly. If it is still a little crunchy, add a little more stock and cook the rice for another couple of minutes. When the rice is cooked perfectly, remove it from the heat.
5. Toss in the butter and peas. Stir to melt butter and defrost peas.

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June 21, 2013

Quinoa and Pineapple Casserole with Latin Flavors

I cleaned out my pantry this week. Yes, it is a good thing but it's also an awakening.
How many of us inevitably find duplicates and sometimes triplicates of food products hiding behind recently purchased foods and since we all forget what's on those shelves, go to the store and buy more?

What's funnier yet, they were all for the same recipe that still hasn't been made.

Such was my situation when I found three cans of pineapple. One crushed, one chopped and one with slices.
Oh, and did I forget to mention the 6 pack of pineapple juice?

Maybe 15 years ago and 20 less pounds, I had to keep a continuous supply in the house for my favorite, but soooo very bad for you, Pina Colada's. I looked forward to the brain freeze that always followed my gluttonous first sip. Nowadays I treat myself to one a year but the brain freeze is a fond memory. Even though I might not make Pina Colada's nowadays, my love of pineapple has not changed, it just went in a different direction.
I could eat a whole half a fresh pineapple but my mouth always yells at me when I try. Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down the protein in meat, like your tongue. Remember when your Mother told you that Jello won't set if your fruit cocktail had pineapple in it? Gelatin is made of meat protein so the pineapple stops it from doing it's job.

I think I have included pineapple in three hot dishes since then, and I'm not sure why. I always knew it was healthy but what did I really know about pineapple? I knew it contained a 100% of Vitamin C, a dabble of A & E and there's some maganese in there, too. Oh, it's also fat-free and has 0 cholesterol.
I have heard bloggers talk about using pineapple juice as a tenderizer in marinades. Time for some serious research and this next statement blew my tenderizer theory to hell.

Cooked or canned pineapple does not have a tenderizing effect, as the enzymes are heat-labile and destroyed in the cooking process.

It all comes down to this: Use fresh pineapple for marinades where the fruit is needed to tenderize. If you only have canned pineapple and you need a tenderizer, just add vinegar, it will do the job.

I created this dish to combine two recipes into a great accompaniment to grilled chicken that has a Tex-Mex infusion into a southern comfort, centuries old baked pineapple casserole.
Pineapples were originally discovered in the West Indies and brought to Florida. Eventually the sugar cane business took over the islands and Florida, which was the demise of the pineapple until it was taken to Hawaii where it is still grown. The import of Hawaiian pineapple is no longer big business and they grow only what they eat there. Now, the Philippines grow most of the world's pineapple crop.

I never know the outcome of some of my weird creations, we all like to think that they will be perfect, but I will admit, this was probably the UGLIEST dish I ever made.

But wait, I said ugly, not poo-poo tasting.

It is one of those dishes that if you close your eyes, you will actually taste something really good. One recipe I found called for toasting the quinoa in a dry skillet.
Note: What made this casserole brown was the addition of cumin and buckwheat honey to the chicken broth.

Next time I make this dish I will eliminate all brown ingredients.
This was a side to Ancho & Lime Glazed Chicken Thighs. Perfect!

Quinoa & Pineapple Casserole with Latin Flavors
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

* 1 cup quinoa
* 2 teaspoons canola oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies
* 1/4 cup pepitas, toasted
* 3/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
* 1/2 cup chopped scallions
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 (14oz) can chicken broth
* 1 medium can (about 14oz) crushed pineapple, drained, reserving juice
* 1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch
* 2 eggs beaten
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon cumin (see note above)

1. Toast the quioa in a dry skillet till lightly brown and fragrant (smells like popcorn is cooking) 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a sieve and rinse thoroughly (make sure the holes in the sieve are smaller than the quinoa seeds).
2. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onion, reserved pineapple juice and honey. Reduce by half.
3. Add chiles and garlic and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Add quinoa, broth, cumin and broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
4. Add pepitas, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, pineapple, cinnamon, vanilla cornstarch, salt and eggs.
5. Bake in a 350° oven for 10-15 minutes until the center is set.

Review: It has the consistency of a baked egg dish, light and souffle-like, it is slightly sweet but with a ton of flavor.

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June 19, 2013

Spinach Stuffed Flounder Almondine

Let me start this post off with this......
This was The Best stuffed flounder I ever ate and I had backup sitting to my right. Our plates were clean.

When I can get flounder for $2.99 a pound, I buy at least 10 pieces (2 pounds) and have the fish monger split them into two 1 pound packages. You did not know you could do that? Sure, I do it all the time.

Alton Brown says to freeze them in zip bags with water in them laying flat until they are hard, then you date them and place them like books on a shelf.
Since I still can't grill because of all the torrential rain we are getting, having that flounder in the freezer makes dinner a no-brainer.

I cooked a Stouffers Spinach Souffle (this is one of my favorite packaged go to treat), cooled and spread 2 tablespoon on each fillet, skin side up, on fillets that I salted and peppered.
Rolled up and placed in a baking pan large enough so where they do not touch each other, I made a butter/almond sauce with lemon slices and lemon thyme sprigs with a splash of white wine.
I added a shallot and reduced by a 1/3rd. Strain the sauce into a small bowl and let it cool. As soon as The Nudge pulls into the driveway I turn on the oven.

I preheated the oven to 375° and the minute he trudged upstairs to change into his comfies, I placed the baking pan with the sauced, stuffed and rolled fillets into the oven and baked it for 15 minutes, covered.

Leftover long grain & wild rice gets nuked for 5 minutes and guess what?
It was delicious, easy and inexpensive. It was also locally caught and I like to buy local.
Flounder may not be the superstar that salmon is but it has redeeming qualities.
Flounder (or flat fish), is low in Saturated Fat. It is also a good source of Vitamin D, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin B12 and Selenium.

Spinach Souffle Stuffed Flounder Almondine
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time (souffle, sauce and rice): 25 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3

* 5 flounder fish fillets (about 1 pound)
* 1 package Stouffers Spinach Souffle
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup sliced almonds
* 3 slices lemon, chopped
* 7 sprigs fresh thyme sprigs
* 2 tablespoons white wine
* Salt & pepper
* 4 medium basil leaves, julienned

1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a small saute pan, add 2 tablespoons butter, shallots, lemon slices, thyme sprigs and wine. Heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve.
2. Microwave spinach souffle according to package directions. Cool.
3. Wipe out the saute pan and toast the almonds until they start to brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Season fillets with salt & pepper. Place 2 tablespoons of cooked spinach souffle on skin side of fish and spread evenly. Roll, starting at the thin end towards the thicker top. Place in a baking pan.
5. Spoon butter/wine sauce over each roll and distribute the almonds amongst them.
6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let it rest for 5-8 minutes.
7. Nuke the rice and place a spoonful on the plate and top with two fish rolls.
8. Spoon any spinach that sneaked out into the sauce with the remaining sauce over the fish and serve.

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June 17, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Teriyaki Scallops

I had all intentions of serving Teriyaki shrimp but my market had only previously frozen, non-local shrimp for sale so I bought a dozen scallops.

What exactly was Teriyaki? Was it an American creation or an actual Japanese dish.

The word teriyaki derives from the noun teri, which refers to a shine or luster given by the sugar content in the teri, and yaki, which refers to the cooking method of grilling or broiling. Traditionally the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times during cooking.

The teri is traditionally made by mixing and heating soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar or honey. The sauce is boiled and reduced to the desired thickness, then used to marinate meat which is then grilled or broiled. Sometimes ginger is added, and the final dish may be garnished with green onions.

In North America, any dish made with a teriyaki-like sauce (often even those using foreign alternatives to sake), or with added ingredients such as sesame or garlic (uncommon in traditional Japanese cuisine), is described as teriyaki. Uncanned pineapple juice is sometimes used as it not only provides sweetness but also bromelain enzymes that help tenderize the meat. Grilling meat first and pouring the sauce on afterward is another non-traditional method of cooking teriyaki. Teriyaki sauce is sometimes put on chicken wings or used as a dipping sauce.

I find it too heavy as a sauce but I like the gentle flavor it imparts as a marinade, especially scallops and shrimp. It is also much healthier as a marinade.

I had just enough bacon left over after making this condiment and decided to treat The Nudge and wrap the scallops in bacon. I like the smokiness of the bacon with the sweet and salty scallops and you can never go wrong with bacon anything.

I cut 6 strips of bacon in half and then nuked them for 3 minutes. They were perfect for the very large sized scallops but if medium scallops were all you could buy, cut the bacon into three pieces.
I used kitchen twine to hold the bacon as you can see the one I used a wooden toothpick on, burnt. Even soaking them did not prevent the burning so I recommend twine. 

Over thirty years ago, in the cooking section of our local paper, was this recipe and I have made this without change, since then.

Teriyake Marinade
Prep time: 15 minutes
Yield: about 1 cup

* 1" piece of ginger root, minced
* 1 large clove, minced
* 2 green onions, chopped
* 6 tablespoons Tamari
* 1/4 cup Mirin (or dry sherry, sake or white wine)
* 3 tablespoons sesame oil
* 2 tablespoons maple syrup or buckwheat honey

Measure all ingredients into a large glass container and give it a day for the flavors to blend together and mellow.

Stores for 1-2 months in the fridge.

I have used this on chicken breasts, thighs, wings and shellfish of any kind. Next time you get a chance, throw some marinated calamari on the grill for a salad tossed with pickled vegetables and a few minced hot peppers. Pretty spectacular and oober healthy.

June 14, 2013

BLT Jam Flat Bread Pizza - Honey Board Recipe Redux Sponsored Recipe Contest

The National Honey Board is challenging Recipe Reduxers to develop creative ways to use honey by showcasing honey’s culinary versatility and how it can be used as a substitution in everything from
appetizers and baked goods to entrees and desserts.

Creating a recipe for an ingredient that has been used for thousands of years is not an easy task but a great challenge. Where to start? I saved the best for last. I simply thought of one of the world's favorite sandwiches and developed a condiment based on those ingredients. Why a condiment? They are so versatile and can elevate a dish to spectacular and they are a little something that packs a big punch.

Everyone knows pestos but not many know of bacon jam and I bet a smaller amount would think of a BLT Jam.
Yes, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Jam. It's smoky, sweet, zesty and an absolute treat. A teaspoon is all you need, it is so packed with flavor.

There are many ideas for using this jam, all with entertaining in mind. People will ask you where you bought it because once they taste it, they will want it in their fridge.
I would not be surprised to see it replace ketchup on hamburgers, a spread on grilled cheese, as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers and for this dish I picked for my last entry.

Flat bread is everywhere nowadays and the most popular way to use them is as a pizza. They make the perfect dish to make and bring to a backyard grill party. I placed this pizza on the table and by the time I came back with a glass of sangria, there were two pieces left.
A total hit.

BLT Jam Flat Bread Pizza
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes at 400°

* Package of flat breads, prepared pizza crusts or good quality pocketless pitas
* 4oz package goat cheese
* 1/2 cup BLT Jam (recipe follows)
* 1/2 cup cubed fresh mozzarella
* 2oz baby arugula
* Shards of Parmesan cheese
* Sea salt

1. Spread or dollop the jam evenly across the flat bread. Dot with goat or ricotta cheese (or both).
2. Sprinkle cubes of fresh mozzarella and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
3. Using a pizza wheel, cut into squares, strips or slices and serve with fresh arugula, Parmesan and sea salt.

Other great entertaining dishes using the BLT jam is to use two flat breads and make little sandwiches. I layered sauteed greens with brie and prosciutto and topped them with a dollop of jam. Heat them in the oven till the cheese just starts to melt, and serve.
They were scrumptious. A perfect appetizer with a glass of wine.

With the last of my jam I made a batch of beef sliders. Talk about disappearing. I think The Nudge ate six before I sat down.

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Quantity: 1 pint

* 1/2 pound apple wood smoked bacon, cut into matchstick pieces
* 2 teaspoons olive oil
* 2 medium onions, sliced
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1/3 cup minced fresh ginger
* 2/3 cup clover, Acadia, tupalo or orange blossom honey
* 1/3 cup water
* 1 teaspoon buckwheat honey, or dark molasses
* 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke, for non-smoked bacon
* 2 whole cloves
* 2 cups baby arugula
* Salt to taste

Stove top directions:
1. Saute bacon in olive oil on low simmer in a heavy duty sauce pan until the fat is rendered but the bacon remains soft, about 10-15 minutes.

2. Remove with a slotted spoon to a towel-lined bowl.
3. Add the onions and saute for 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Add the tomato paste, cover and simmer on low until a brown crust forms on the bottom of the saucepan, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the ginger, cloves, both honey's, the liquid smoke (if using) and the water.
6. Simmer, covered for the first thirty minutes and uncovered the last or until the mixture is thick and .
7. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Even with the bacon, I had to add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
7. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the arugula. The heat will wilt the arugula.
8. Place mixture in a food processor and pulse until the bacon is a small mince and the arugula looks like minced parsley.

Slow cooker directions:
1. Add all the ingredients, minus the water, to the insert of a small crock pot.Set to low and set the timer for 4 hours. Taste for salt and add the arugula. Proceed to step 8 above.

Honey is a Super Food and provides balance to any dish, complementing and enhancing a variety of foods and flavors: sweet, savory, sour, bitter and salty. For nutrition information and everything you ever wanted to know about honey, this is an excellent site.

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Honey Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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June 13, 2013

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

I bought a pork tenderloin at the butcher's last week with the purpose of grilling when a good weather day could come our way. After Hurricane Andrea, there appeared to be a break with a few dry days so I put that tenderloin and pulled pork quesadillas on the menu.

Yes, a very porky weekend but all very lean, promise.

The Nudge spent the afternoon bleaching, scrubbing and hosing down any plastic that could be used this summer, from our table to all the coolers and then all the garden tools.
Yay, we're 'Open for Business'. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

I wanted a reward for our hard work with a substantial meal so, no hot dogs tonight. Plus, we had been saving a very nice bottle of Maryland wine just for a time like this.

I opened the fridge to see what I had to stuff into the tenderloin and a bag of leftover spinach from this dish, prosciutto (which I always have) and a half eaten log of goat cheese......BINGO

I simply butterflied and pounded the tenderloin and then turned it 90°, rolled it back up with the three layers of filling and hog tied it. Ready, set, grill!

I basted it with a mixture of honey and vinegar so that a nice crust would form and set it over about 25 coals (so it would burn at around 350°), turning it every six minutes for a total of 24 minutes until it read 145° on an instant read thermometer.
While it rested I reheated leftover Lima beans for The Nudge and roasted Brussels sprouts for moi.
I think I ate the whole bowl because I finished the Sunday paper in the bathroom this morning.....hehehe
My father always called any green vegetable.....Green Power. Smart man back then, he knew.

If butterflying a tenderloin daunts you, practice on a chicken breast and if you mess up just make fingers with it. This video was one of the better ones I found.

Pork tenderloin is like chicken, anything goes, it's all good. They make great platforms for using left over vegetables, cheeses and fruits. A great presentation and an inexpensive dinner party meal.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Cook time: 25 minutes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

* 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, butterflied & pounded to 1/2"
* 4 handfuls of spinach leaves
* 4 slices prosciutto
* 2 ounces goat cheese
* salt & pepper
* 1/4 cup each honey + balsamic vinegar

1. Salt and pepper tenderloin. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over meat, leaving at least 1" of clean edge.
2. Next layer is the spinach, then an even layer of prosciutto to hold everything in place.
3. Roll as tightly as you can and tie with string, starting at the middle and working outward. Trim string.
4. Mix honey & vinegar and brush over every surface of the rolled meat.
5. Once the coals are grey, place the meat over the coals, lower the cover and grill for 6 minutes on each side. If using a stove top grill, lightly cover with foil.
6. Remove from heat when thermometer registers 145°. Tent with foil and rest for 5-10 minutes.
7. Slice into 1/2" pieces and serve.

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June 11, 2013

DEMON Bridge Demistified - * Warning * The Following Video Shows Very Explicit Content (LOL)

Remember this post about that DEMON bridge?
You need to watch this video.
Friend sent the link to us and it does a better job of explaining the terror of this demon bridge. I don't feel so all alone anymore.

See this pic of a bridge from our car?
That's the view as we approached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I have never seen a bridge that high and long, so I grabbed a quick pic.

I have also never been more paranoid. I had to close my eyes and swallow a few times. Being slightly afraid of heights, I was not prepared. Once back on Terra Firma I told The Nudge I am never going back over that "demon bridge" again.

He quietly informed me that in order to see Annapolis we have no choice but to cross the "demon bridge".

I actually took out the map to see if there was another crossing up by Baltimore, but this was the only bridge over the Chesapeake Bay.


There was no way out of this and I know, although he wasn't saying, he was as spooked as I was.

No shoulder and an open rail with ongoing traffic coming right at you, would make anyone unhappy.

After having a stiff margarita, the bartender heard us talking and informed us that there were two bridges. A newer one and the old one. The newer one had concrete walls so you could not see straight down and there were shoulders and a fatter dividing line.

Maybe we could do this.

Looking at it from this distance, it looks doable and quite serene.

Who was I trying to kid? I had no choice but to buck it up and act like a 'man'.

Oh, by the way, that other 'man' in the front seat took out the map and decided he was going to save the day. He found a route home he said for me so that "I would never be required to cross that "demon bridge" again".

For me? Honestly, who was he trying to kid?

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June 10, 2013

Honey + Citrus Pesto Chicken - Honey Board Recipe Redux Sponsored Recipe Contest

Does any other food describe summer on a plate better than pesto?
Named for the mortar and pestle traditionally used to prepare this iconic dish, most of us are familiar with those basic ingredients, basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and cheese.
Besides the basic Pesto alla Genovese, there are many other versions of pesto using sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and cilantro.

I put chicken pillard on the menu and was looking for something citrusy to spoon on top without it being too fruity. I wanted that bright bang when it hits the tongue, like a real lemon bar does.

A fruit salsa came to mind and then I moved on to a pesto but all the recipes posted just added zests and juice to an already basil pesto.
I wanted something void of basil, and I knew mint went well with citrus. Just so happens I had a ton of mint, just waiting to be used.

The National Honey Board is challenging Recipe Reduxers to develop creative ways to use honey!
They would like us to showcase honey’s culinary versatility and how it can be used as a substitution in everything from appetizers and baked goods to entrees and desserts.

This would be a perfect way to showcase honey's versatility. Refined sugar would be too harsh and I wanted just a background of smooth sweetness. Honey, it had to be.

I had a plan and I ran to the market, scooping up every citrus fruit I could find. I started with equal amounts of each and then added a little more of this and that until what I put in my mouth was the sun on a spoon. 
A spicy, sweet, tart, salty, chunky-type salsa which becomes the consistency of a pesto once the olive oil is added. This is very versatile. Thin for a pasta sauce (hot or cold), use as a marinade for shrimp or scallops, spread on a salmon burger, spoon over grilled fish steaks.
I could even see this on a clam pizza or as a pistou in a chowder.

Leftovers? Portion out 2 ounce condiment cups, label and freeze. Now when I need a little burst of summer citrus, I can defrost and go.

I roasted the sliced lemons, limes and oranges for 45 minutes and after they cooled, added them and all the other ingredients to the bowl of a processor or blender. The roasted did to the citrus what it does to vegetables, brought out the sweetness and cooked out the tartness.
I pulsed until the mixture was the consistency of jam. Right before serving I added a drizzle of olive oil to thin it out so it would mix well with the pasta and spooned a dollop of pesto on the chicken.

The honey was the perfect equalizer. This was good the next day on just a bowl of linguine but add a few shrimp on top and you have made a special luncheon dish for summertime entertaining.
As with many exceptional dishes, it gets better with time and will benefit with a night in the cooler.

The Honey Board also wants us to know a few more things about honey that maybe you did not already know:
- With more than 300 varietals in the United States, honey adds its own unique flavor profile to
every recipe.
- The National Honey Board has made it easy to find varietals by creating the website honeylocator.com.
- Honey has many versatile culinary benefits.
- Honey provides balance to any dish complementing and enhancing a variety of foods and flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory.
- Honey can mask the bitterness of gluten-free flours.
- Honey attracts and holds moisture, enhancing freshness and shelf life.
- Honey is naturally anti-microbial which helps to resist spoilage and extend shelf life.
- Honey is an emulsifier: the perfect ingredient to thicken and add body to sauces and dressings.
- Honey is best stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If your honey begins to crystallize, don’t throw it out. Just gently warm it and stir periodically until crystals dissolve.

Honey & Citrus Pesto
Prep time: 30 minute
Unattended time: 60 minutes
Makes: 1 1/4 cups

* 1/2 orange, sliced
* 1/2 lime, sliced
* 1 lemon, sliced
* 6 kumquats, chopped
* 1/3 cup honey
* 1/2 cup mint, chopped
* 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
* 2 tablespoons parsley
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon Asian garlic chili sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon 5 spice powder
* 1/2 cup pineapple with natural juice
* 1 tablespoon mirin
* 1 teaspoon soy sauce
* 1/3 cup toasted almonds
* 1/3 cup olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 425°.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil and spray with olive oil. Place the slices of citrus in a single layer and brush with olive oil.
3. Bake for 35 minutes and use that time to measure the spices and ingredients into the bowl of a processor or blender. The slices should be caramelized perfection.
4. Remove the fruit from the oven and allow it to cool. Add them to the other ingredients and pulse until the items are chunky but not totally pureed.

This is my second entry in this contest. This dish falls under the Main Course category. I hope to have 3 more posts in the upcoming week, each using honey.

Disclaimer: “By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Honey Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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June 9, 2013

No More Sugar Coating, Panera's

Time for another "Rant or Rave" post. Saturday's shopping chores have always started with a trip to Panera's, for as long as they built one in my neighborhood.
Two reasons..... I believe in eating, not drinking, your breakfast (meaning coffee, not smoothies) and it's a break and a nice treat, for me.

Vacation, busy weekends and life disrupted our Saturday schedule lately and yesterday was the first time we went back in over a month.

Let me tell you, lots can happen in a month.

Seems the whole company is getting a makeover.
New decor, new foods.
I'm sure the new interior will be exciting but I already have an issue with the food.

Mr. Panera, explain to me that when daily news releases are subjugating less sugar, better meal choices, fast food companies to revamp their menu items, etc...someone that works in the Big House has made the decision to not just sugar coat their interior, but everything inside those walls.

ALL the scones are now dipped in a sugar glaze, the muffins are now Apple 'crunch' or Blueberry 'crunch', which means a sugar crunch topping.
OMG!! How disappointed was I?
I am sorry Panera's, but ashamed of this recent decision. There really were enough items previously in your store to readily appeal to the sugar addicts out there, but at what time did you think that sugar coating every scone or muffin I loved and could eat guilt-free, was a good idea???
I will still buy your breads and rolls, but you have forced me to seek out another breakfast venue to start my day and I would like to inform you that somewhere a wire must have been crossed, because when I said that going to Panera's was a treat, someone must have heard "everyone wanted more treats at Panera's".

Sincerely yours,
A Diabetic & family members who care about me

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June 8, 2013

Miso Salmon - Honey Board Recipe Redux Sponsored Recipe Contest

The National Honey Board is challenging Recipe Reduxers to develop creative ways to use honey!
They would like us to showcase honey’s culinary versatility and how it can be used as a substitution in everything from appetizers and baked goods to entrees and desserts.

Honey provides balance to any dish, complementing and enhancing a variety of foods and flavors: sweet, savory, sour, bitter and salty.

We all know marinades and BBQ sauces use lots of brown sugar for not only the sweetness but for a molasses flavor.
Did you know that buckwheat honey also adds that rich, dark molasses flavor and color to these foods, making it ideal for browning and glazing?

Learning that information led to the development of this marinade and basting sauce using honey instead of the traditional brown sugar.

Now I have a great recipe, using whole foods to make it healthier and diappropriate. Although the Honey Board's recommendation is a substitution of up to half the sweetener in any sauce or marinade, my sweetener was 100% honey. It needed nothing else.

As a matter of fact I used the "bottom of a honey bottle" to make and to store my marinade. Just shake and use.

Many years ago I was introduced to miso. 
Still not an easy item to find, I was lucky and found mine at a local Asian market. Near a Whole Foods? You can buy miso there and if not, since it requires no refrigeration until you use it, this is also an excellent on-line source for all your miso needs.

What exactly is it? It's like yogurt and is generally made with soybeans.
It's fermented and contains a culture.
Most miso is consumed in Japan and is a side or condiment that is added to a meal uncooked.
Like yogurt, once you cook the miso you kill the live culture.
Like yogurt or any fermented food, it is an excellent tenderizer.
Unlike yogurt, it is classified by grain type, color, taste and background.
  • mugi (麦): barley
  • tsubu (粒): whole wheat/barley
  • genmai (玄米): brown rice
  • moromi (醪): chunky, healthy (kōji is unblended)
  • nanban (南蛮): mixed with hot chili pepper for dipping sauce
  • taima (大麻): hemp seed
  • sobamugi (蕎麦): buckwheat
  • hadakamugi (裸麦): rye
  • nari (蘇鉄): made from cycad pulp, Buddhist temple diet
  • gokoku (五穀): "5 grain": soy, wheat, barley, proso millet, and foxtail millet
Most Americans are familiar with miso in soup form, that uses dashi (bonito flakes), shiitake mushrooms and tofu. Not so familiar to Americans is it's use in salad dressings and marinades.

You are now going to be very happy and will want to hug me. Two distinct reasons:

This marinade includes all 5 taste senses.....
Bitter & Sour - ginger and naranja agria (sour orange)
Salty - fermented soybeans (miso)
Sweet - honey
Umami - sake (seasoned white wine)

......making it the PERFECT MARINADE.

The nutritionals are blockbuster good.....
Although very high in sodium (over 400% DV), one cup (275 g) of miso paste is an excellent source of dietary fiber (59%) and protein (64% DV), as well as a good source of minerals. Miso paste is also high in amino acids, the basic building blocks of protein. An excellent source of vitamin K and a decent source of riboflavin (38% DV), miso also provides small amounts of other vitamins. One major benefit of miso is its extremely high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content, although the balance is six times greater for omega-6 than omega-3. A cup of miso soup can be a complete meal depending on what other ingredients are included.

Now for the bonus reason.....
I have used it on pork, salmon and chicken. All with great success.  I can only imagine what it would do to a steak or better yet, mixed into a hamburger.
Trust me, you will never use another marinade. If you want other flavor components, like say, garlic, herbs or spices, go ahead. All compatible.

Miso Salmon
Prep time: 10 minutes
Unattended time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes an inch
Makes: 4 servings

* 1/4 cup sake (or gin)
* 1/4 cup Goya naranja agria (or fresh sour orange juice)
* 1/2 cup red or white miso
* 2 tablespoons amber honey
* 2 tablespoons buckwheat honey (optional) or 1/4 cup total favorite honey
* 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk to incorporate. Shake before using.

* 4 (6oz) salmon fillets, skin on
* 1/4 cup miso marinade

1. In a bowl or large plastic bag add the salmon and marinade, turning to coat on all sides.
2. Heat a gas, light about 25 charcoal briquettes or heat a heavy-weight grill pan. While grill is heating, marinate your salmon.
3. Place the salmon, skin side down, directly onto the heated grill, over the heat and close the lid (or cover with foil) and cook for 10 minutes an inch. Thinner fillets will only take about 5-6 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat, tent with foil allow the fish to rest for 5 minutes.

The honey Board wants us to know a few more things about honey that maybe you did not already know:
- With more than 300 varietals in the United States, honey adds its own unique flavor profile to
every recipe.
- The National Honey Board has made it easy to find varietals by creating the website honeylocator.com.
- Honey has many versatile culinary benefits.
- Honey provides balance to any dish complementing and enhancing a variety of foods and flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory.
- Honey can mask the bitterness of gluten-free flours.
- Honey attracts and holds moisture, enhancing freshness and shelf life.
- Honey is naturally anti-microbial which helps to resist spoilage and extend shelf life.
- Honey is an emulsifier: the perfect ingredient to thicken and add body to sauces and dressings.
- Honey is best stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If your honey begins to crystallize, don’t throw it out. Just gently warm it and stir periodically until crystals dissolve.

This is my first entry in this contest. This dish falls under the Main Course category. I hope to have 4 more posts in the upcoming week, each using honey.

Disclaimer: “By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Honey Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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June 7, 2013

WINNER ANNOUNCED - Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust Giveaway

Congratulations to Rachel!
 Winner of our Artisan Pizza Gift Box.


 A couple weeks ago I was given a coupon for a new pizza crust with whole grains by Pillsbury. I was so busy at the time, the tube sat in my fridge until I spotted it on a shelf where it had been slowly pushed towards the back each time I added more food.

Never completely out of my mind, I finally decided to make a Bismark Pizza in memory of my Mom on Mother's Day.
She would add fried eggs to just about anything and used whole wheat bread for our sandwiches, so this was a two-way perfect dish.

What exactly is a Bismark?
A basic pizza with eggs baked on top. Totally yummy!!

This pizza could not have been easier.
It's as easy as popping open the can, rolling it out, placing the pizza ingredients on top and baking for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

Now for the best part.

Pillsbury sent me a goodie box and has given me the opportunity to host a
giveaway with the same package of goodies to help you make your best
pizza creation.

An additional, identical gift pack will be given to you to share with family and/or friends, or possibly a blog reader.

Your gift pack will contain:
  • A VIP coupon for one FREE Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain

  • 15.5" Farberware Pizza Pan

  • Food Chopper with Storage Containers

  • Silicon-grip Oven Mitt

  • Retail Value: $64

To enter you will need to (each one counts as a separate entry but only one of each per person):

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite pizza toppings.
2. Make a mention on your blog about this giveaway with a link back here and post your link letting me know that you did.

Giveaway runs from today until May 31, 2013 and winner will be announced June 3, 2013.
Good luck!!

"Disclosure: The prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills and Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark."

June 6, 2013

Insalata Tiepida di Spinaci (Warm Spinach Salad Italian Style)


We both agree that we look forward to the first grilled steakhouse steak dinner of the summer. Would have been even better if we could have sat on the patio to eat it, but just the fact that the steak was grilled over coals made up for that.

While the steak is what The Nudge likes about this meal, the spinach salad is my favorite, especially this version.

Usually I make the salad via the Alton Brown method which produces a very presentable version.
This time I Italian-ized it both in the ingredients and the technique.

When watching Lidia's Italy in America, her Executive Chef at Del Posto made a guest appearance and assisted Lidia in the making of a spinach salad. What he did different is to saute part of the salad in the dressing and then added it to the remaining salad.

Crunchy salad ingredients mixed with soft, heated ingredients then topped with creamy hard boiled eggs and Gorgonzola cheese and crunchy baked pancetta. Oh, yes. This was good.
If you are not a fan of raw mushrooms, this version is for you. Not a fan of smoked bacon, pancetta is smoke-free. The tang of the creamy Gorgonzola works well off the salty pork.

Like I said, a plethora of textures and tastes. Bitter, sweet, sour and salty.

Paired with a perfectly grilled chili rubbed rib-eye steak or Mahi Mahi, you have the makings of a great al fresco meal, even if the intense heat makes it too uncomfortable to dine outside.

Warm Pancetta Dressing
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1/4 cup

* 2 bunches of fresh spinach (not baby)
* 1 large hard boiled eggs, sliced
* 3 button mushrooms, sliced
* 2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese of choice)
* 3 pancetta slices, sauteed until crisp
* 3 thinly slices of red onion
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
* 1 teaspoon honey
* Freshly ground black pepper

1. Wash and spin dry the spinach leaves. Tear into bite sized pieces.
2. Slice the mushrooms and egg using an egg slicer and the red onion using a mandoline

3. Saute the pancetta in a heavy frying pan until crisp and all the fat has rendered. Remove the pancetta from the pan using a slotted spoon.
4. To the hot pork fat, add the olive oil, garlic, vinegar and honey. Stir till combined.
5. Right before serving, throw in 1/3 of the spinach, mushrooms and red onion. Cook until just wilted.
6. Turn off the heat and spoon cooked ingredients into the remaining salad ingredients and toss.
7. Top with the sliced egg, Gorgonzola and crumbled pancetta.

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June 4, 2013

Semi-Homemade Baked Beans

I am a huge fan of baked beans, and we don't eat enough of them to warrant making a huge batch that needs to cook for hours. I am not a fan of freezing baked beans.
One can of B&M beans with a few additions of seasonings is perfect for those times when we grill a quick backyard meal and need a quick side.

The secret is to use the same flavoring ingredients that you would if you were baking these from scratch.
I could eat these beans every night with dinner but they are rich and they do their best work on the table with simple foods.
Well, that's what The Nudge says, so I try to oblige.

Last night I made a batch of ribs on the grill and after removing them from our Weber, there was enough residual heat left in the coals to throw a ramekin of these beans on while I set the table and plated the salads.
In the summer I spend as much time outside as I can and easy is always the best option. When I can have baked beans the way I like them, without fuss, I am all for it.
Don't get me wrong, scratch beans in the winter can be a wonderful thing, but baking for hours in the summer? I don't think so.

Use your slow cooker Sue....no thank you, except for a recipe for a gigantic party amount by America's Test Kitchen, it is virtually impossible to make a small batch well in that huge cavernous insert.

Our best use for these beans has to be with hot dogs. We like to use them as a topping along with these.

Gingered Baked Beans
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes : 12 ounces

* 1 can B&M Baked Beans, original recipe
* 1 tablespoon each ketchup, brown mustard, brown sugar sub (or brown sugar)
* 1 teaspoon ground galangal (ginger)
* 1/2 teaspoon each Season-All and Goya Adobo (any flavor)

Mix everything together and cook until bubbly and thick.
Grill, bake in the oven or on top of the stove.

Note: I will mash the remainder to make refried beans for quesadillas later in the week, with pulled pork, the Chipotle Chimichurri Steak Sauce and Pepper Jack cheese.....yum!

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June 3, 2013

Flank Steak with Chipotle Chimichurri Steak Sauce

To me, a flank steak needs something.
It's not a BIG beef steak, but sliced thin it can be very tender and at $7.99 a pound it's in the middle of the pack.
Before the popularity of skirt for fajitas, most were made with flank steaks. They are a great steak to pound, stuff and roll onto skewers for shish ka bobs and the Cubans use it for ropa vieja.

Tonight I grilled it very simple with a good dose of Adobo. I recently dug up and redid my herb garden and the parsley, chives and thyme are growing so well, they needed a haircut and I used the trimmings to make a Chipotle Chimichurri-Style Steak Sauce.

A traditional chimichurri sauce is basically an herb vinaigrette so by adding tomato juice and chipotle chilies in adobo instead of the red pepper, it traveled up from Argentina by way of Mexico.

I also simmered the tomato juice with the garlic and the chipotles to take the edge off the rawness but the rawness is necessary with the herbs so I added them after the tomato mixture cooled off.
I transferred everything to a processor and blended until it resembled a very loose pesto but a thick dressing.

The amount of herbs makes it unappealing as a salad dressing but as a sauce for roasted/grilled meats it is perfecto. I toyed with the idea of adding capers but since it already had vinegar I settled on lemon zest for adding a note of brightness. I determined it needed a touch of honey, a touch of adobo sauce (for more heat) and another tablespoon of vinegar right at the end but you should taste and adjust to your liking.

Chipotle Chimichurri Sauce
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Unattended Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 1 cup

* 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
* 1 (4oz) can tomato juice
* 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
* 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
* 1 teaspoon chopped lemon thyme
* Zest of one lemon
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
* 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar + more if needed
* Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in small saucepan. Add chipotle pepper, garlic and onions and simmer 15 minutes.
2. Add tomato juice and simmer another 15 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and cool.
4. Place the parsley, thyme, lemon zest, cilantro, and tomato mixture in the bowl of a processor or blender.
5. Process until it is smooth and thick.
6. Add salt, pepper and vinegar to taste. Adjust if needed.

Serve room temperature. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

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June 1, 2013

5 Minute Fridge to Table Broccoli

When days are busy and the time gets by you and on those days, dinner is due in less than an hour and you already have the grill ready for that steak or chicken. So tell me, who wants to put the oven on to roast broccoli?

Not me, thank you.

I have a full-proof way to cook broccoli in the microwave and no one would be the wiser. Tastes as good as steamed, uses no dishes (no washing either, yay!) and all you need is a paper towel and five minutes.
Wash the broccoli, cut the stems from the head and reform them on a large piece of paper towel (I use three half-sheets), floret facing outward, in a circular pattern.

Pull up the sides and tuck in the ends to make a nice packet.
Wet the packet just enough to moisten the towel but not enough where it drips into your hand.
Place the broccoli on a paper plate or on a microwave rack, and nuke for 5 minutes on high (if your machine is an older one, you may need 6 minutes).
Careful to not open the packet until the steam inside settles down, about 2 minutes.

Cut open the towel, remove the broccoli, sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt. Done.

I actually like my broccoli steamed this way. Yes, I like steamed and roasted. Sometimes a meal calls for steaming. Different textures are important in a meal and steamed vegetables remain slightly crunchy which is perfect for grilled or roasted meats or fish.

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