Category Archives: Dinner

Classic Fried Chicken

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This weekend while driving home from Chicago one thing became apparent, the hubby wanted fried chicken.  It seemed every billboard we passed for the big chicken places he was drooling.  Now with that being said, I was not objecting to the idea.  I love fried chicken, my knowledge of frying chicken has been limited to chicken wings.  Then, as I was perusing the latest issue of Food Network Magazine I saw the recipe below.  I knew this one the one I had to make since there were ingredients like shortening, buttermilk, and peanut oil.  Now let me tell you this recipe did not disappoint us at all.  I would definitely have to say my first try at frying chicken was a success and have a go to recipe for picnics now.

Also, I would like to ask everyone out there what types of recipes you would like to see me blog about.  Please comment below or on twitter and I will be sure to start cooking them up.

Classic Fried Chicken

from Food Network Magazine July/August 2011

Ingredients:

1 3-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces, or 3 pounds chicken pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 quart buttermilk

2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 bay leaf

3 cloves garlic, smashed

3 sprigs thyme

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon onion powder

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

Vegetable shortening, for frying

Directions:

Season the chicken generously with salt and black pepper; place on a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Mix the buttermilk, hot sauce, bay leaf, garlic and thyme in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, making sure the pieces are submerged. Seal and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

Mix the flour, baking powder, paprika, onion powder, cayenne, 3 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in a separate resealable bag.

Fill a deep 12-inch cast-iron skillet halfway with equal parts peanut oil and shortening. Heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F.

Remove about half of the chicken pieces from the buttermilk mixture, letting the excess drip off. Transfer to the bag of seasoned flour; seal and shake to thoroughly coat. Remove from the bag, shake off any excess flour and transfer to a rack.

Carefully lower the coated chicken into the oil. The temperature will drop to 300 degrees F to 325 degrees F; adjust the heat to maintain this temperature so the crust doesn’t burn before the meat is cooked. Fry, undisturbed, 2 to 3 minutes to set the crust, then carefully lift with tongs to check the browning; continue to fry, turning as needed, until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 14 more minutes for smaller pieces and 14 to 16 more minutes for larger ones. (A thermometer should register 160 degrees F in the breasts and 170 degrees F in the thighs and drumsticks.)

Remove the chicken to a clean rack to drain, sprinkle with salt and let rest a few minutes. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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We have a pulled pork recipe that is a staple in our home.  Everyone loves a great pulled pork sandwich, but most people do not have 5 or more hours to cook on the grill after working all day.  The key is to start out with a good quality piece of pork.  I love cooking with boneless pork butt (shoulder).  Now, I know there are differing opinions on whether to get bone-in or boneless, but for me the best bet is boneless.  The slow cooker method makes a delicious faux smoking method when apple cider vinegar and liquid smoke are used.  This is definitely a delicious, healthy, and inexpensive meal that can be made for your family.  The uses for the leftover pork are endless!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

4-5 lb boneless pork butt (shoulder)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups water

1 Tbs liquid smoke

1 bottle of your favorite or homemade BBQ sauce (I used Bone Suckin’ Sauce)

Directions:

Combine ingredients through liquid smoke in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Take out pork and let cool until able to shred with two forks.  Discard cooking liquid from the slow cooker. Put the meat in the slow cooker with sauce for 30  minutes on high.  Serve and Enjoy!

Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice and Peas

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With summer here I have had an urge to definitely start trying to eat lighter at night.  We usually eat dinner fairly late to most people and with the heat this summer, lighter meals would definitely help out.  I love going to the half price bookstores and picking up cooking magazines to leaf through.  I found a bunch of copies of Everday Food and could not pass this recipe up once I saw it.  This is one of those recipes that can be thrown together any time, since I always have these ingredients.  Wow, I did not know a recipe could be so simple.  This recipe came together in 20 minutes and was delicious.  The hubby and I both loved it.  I will say that the lime definitely makes the flavor combination dance on your tastebuds.  This one is definitely a keeper recipe.

Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice and Peas
from Everyday Food

Ingredients
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 cup long-grain white rice
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
lime wedges, for serving

Directions
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high.  Add scallion whites and ginger and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3 minutes.  Add rice and 1 1/2 cups water and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and top with peas.  Let stand, covered, 5 minutes, then add scallion greens and fluff rice with fork.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss shrimp with cumin and coriander and season with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque throughout, about 4 minutes.  Serve shrimp with rice and lime wedges.

 

 

Crunchy Asiago Chicken Nuggets

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This heat is unbearable, and therefore my appetitite has honestly packed up and left.  I usually do not eat a lot during the summer, but these last few days have been particularly bad due to the heat.  When I was looking through recipes for the hubby and I, this one immediately jumped out at me.  It had all the criteria I was looking for: light, quick, and easy to make.  Well, this recipe did not disappoint.  We used several dipping sauces not just the honey mustard.  Instead we also went with marinara, bbq, sweet and sour, and buffalo wing sauce to accompany our nuggets.  These definitely are a versatile recipe that can be changed into whatever suits your tastebuds that day. 

Crunchy Asiago Chicken Nuggets

from  How Sweet It Is

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 cups low-fat buttermilk

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 cup seasoned regular bread crumbs (I used homemade with italian seasoning)

1/3 cup flour (any is fine, I used whole wheat)

1/2 cup freshly grated asiago cheese

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey

2-24 hours before serving, cut chicken breasts into nugget-like chunks. Season with the salt and pepper then add to a bowl and pour buttermilk over top. Let soak for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then lay a wire rack on top and spray with non-stick spray. Add honey and mustard to a bowl and mix, then set aside. Add bread crumbs, flour, cheese, garlic powder and paprika to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Remove each nugget directly from the buttermilk to the bread crumb mixture and coat, then set on the wire rack. Repeat with the rest, then spritz each nugget with olive oil or non-stick spray. I usually just use Pam because I like the “spritz” it gives.

Bake for 7 minutes, then remove pan from oven and gently flip each nugget with kitchen tongs and spritz again with oil or spray. Bake for 7 minutes more, then serve hot with honey mustard.

Fennel-Spiced Salmon with Gazpacho Salad

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So for the second day in a row we decided to cook out of our new Weber cookbook and it did not disappoint.  The weather was so hot here yesterday that I was unsure if I would even be hungry for dinner.  We went to a local park and had a picnic for lunch and you would have thought we ran a marathon how we looked when returned home.  This is probably why we chose a light fish dish for dinner.  All the rage now on the cooking shows is deconstructing dishes and therefore I was a little skeptical when I saw a gazpacho salad.  Now I love gazpacho and knew I would enjoy all the flavors, but my worry lied with whether the hubby would enjoy it or not.  The salmon was perfectly seasoned and the gazpacho salad was cool and refreshing.  These two components on their own may not be my favorite, but together we both agreed they were the perfect bite.

Fennel-Spiced Salmon with Gazpacho Salad

from “Weber’s Charcoal Grilling – The Art of Cooking with Live Fire”

Salad:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup  1/4 inch-diced red onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 cups  1/4 inch-diced tomatoes

1 cup  1/4 inch-diced zucchini squash

1 cup seeded, 1/4 inch-diced cucumber

1 cup 1/4 inch-diced red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Tabasco sauce

Rub

1 teaspoon ground fennel seed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure chili powder

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 skinless salmon fillets, about 8 ounces each and 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick

Extra virgin olive oil

1.  In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, warm the oil.  Cook the onion until translucent but not golden, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, and the red bell pepper.  Cook the mixture for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally, to draw some liquid from the tomatoes.  Remove the skillet from  the heat.  Add the vinegar and dill.  Transfer the salad mixture to a large bowl and chill in refrigerator for about 1 hour or as long as 8 hours (more liquid will draw from the vegetables during this time).  remove the bowl from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.  Taste the salad and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.

2.  In a small bowl mix the rub ingredients.  Brush each of the salmon fillets evenly with oil.  Season them on both sides with the rub.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

3.  Prepare a two-zone fire for high heat.

4.  Brush the cooking grate clean.  Grill the fillets over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until cooked to your desired doneness, 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare, turning once after 6 to 7 minutes.  Swap their positions as needed for even cooking.  Serve warm with the salad, using as much or as little of the vegetable juices as you like.

Mojo Marinated Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

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We are loving summer, but have really not started to enjoy our grill to the fullest since we have been traveling so much.  Well, we decided this weekend that we need to start grilling out more!   Weber grill has some of the best cookbooks, and the new one we purchased is no exception.  Chicken tacos sounded amazing and this recipe did not disappoint.  I would put the fresh salsa on fish tacos or even a shingle to be honest it is that good.  The first bite and we both looked at each other declaring that these were the best tacos we have ever had.  Everyone definitely needs to try these right away they are worth it.

Mojo Marinated Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

from “Weber’s Charcoal Grilling – The Art of Cooking with Live Fire”

Marinade:

¼ cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno chile pepper, including seeds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (without tenders), about 8 ounces each

Salsa:

1 medium yellow onion, cut into ½ inch slices
extra virgin olive oil
10 medium tomatillos, about ½ pound total, husked and rinsed
1 small jalapeno chile pepper, stem removed
¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 medium clove garlic
½ teaspoon dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt

12 flour tortillas (8 inches)
3/4 cup sour cream

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients. Place the chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag, and pour in the marinade. Press out the air and seal the bag tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade, place the bag in a bowl, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Prepare a two-zone fire for high heat.

3. Lightly brush the onion slices on both sides with oil. Brush the cooking grate clean. Grill the onion slices, tomatillos, and jalapeno over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until lightly charred, 6-8 minutes, turning once or twice and swapping their positions as needed for even cooking. Be sure the tomatillos are completely soft as you remove them from the grill. Combine the onion slices, tomatillos, and jalapeno in a food processor along with the remaining salsa ingredients. Process until fairly smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Pour the salsa into a serving bowl.

4. Check the heat of the grill. You may need to add more charcoal to the fire for medium heat. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Separate the tortillas into 2 piles of 6 tortillas each. Wrap each pile in a sheet of aluminum foil. When the fire is ready, brush the cooking grate clean. Grill the chicken over direct medium heat with the lid closed as much as possible until the meat is firm to the touch and completely opaque in the center, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once or twice and swapping their positions as needed for even cooking. At the same time, grill each packet of tortillas over indirect medium heat until warm and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and tortillas from the grill. Keep the tortillas in the foil while you slice the chicken as thinly as possible.

5. Put some sliced chicken in each warm tortilla. Pass the salsa and sour cream for toppings. Serve right away.

A Perfect Pairing

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There are not many nights during the summer when my hubby and I can just grill out and enjoy the weather.  Our summers always seem to fill up quick with Cubs games, road trips, and weddings.  That is why tonight with how gorgeous it is outside we decided to take advantage of the weather.

Now we are the first to admit we love our wine.  We took our honeymoon to Napa and Sonoma Valley and cannot wait to return.  My hubby once said to me a great quote, ” You should not need a special occasion to open a bottle of great wine, opening it IS the occasion”.  And i could not agree more, this is why of course we needed a good bottle of wine to go with our dinner tonight.  So I sent the hubby downstairs to pick from our “special” wines, since honestly he is so much better at picking then me.  He came up with with a bottle that I was so excited to see.  I could not believe I forgot we still had a bottle of Carlisle 2007 Russian River Valley Zinfandel.  Now I know what most of you are thinking “Ew gross a Zinfandel”, but this is not the kind your grandmother drinks.  This is a bold, mature red that can stand out to the main star of dinner, a perfectly grilled filet mignon.

So the hubby decided that he wanted to grill us filet mignon after being inspired by Masterchef last night.  Yes I know, I know, that may have just embarassed him, but honestly living in this house it is either food shows or sports most nights.  The recipe is his own melding of several different methods, which is just incredible.

Mr. B’s Fantastic Filet

2 10 ounce filet mignon

3 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons coarse grey salt

3 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Preheat grill or start charcoal chimney.  Combine all ingredients except the filet and stir well.  Rub each filet with the mixture and ensure even coated.  Leave the steaks at room temperature for 30 minutes with to let the rub distribute.  Once the grill is ready, sear each side over direct heat for 3-4 minutes.***  Then move to indirect heat for 5 more minutes.  Let steak rest for 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute and enjoy!!

 

***The times are for medium rare-medium steaks.  Cook more or less for desired doneness.

 

Mexican Pizza

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I remember when I wanted something sinful as a child my mom would take me to Taco Bell and get me a mexican pizza and an order of cinnamon twists.  The pizzas were crunchy and cheesy, but had a delicious creamy bean layer.  Boy how my tastes have changed.  Now do not get me wrong, I would still love to have one of those mexican pizzas, but part of me is afraid every good memory I have of them would be wiped out.  Well to say the least I was craving a taco bell run, but instead I decided to not make a run for the border.  These were perfect for my hubby and I, since we could each make our own variations.  Both of us started with the same base of meat and beans, but the second topping was a free for all as you can tell by the picture.  My hubby loves his olives and I love my tomatoes, which made it so great for us to each have our own.  So everyone go crazy with the toppings and make this pizza your own memory, just like I did.

 

Mexican Pizza

adapted from For the Love of Cooking

Ground Beef Mixture:
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • grey salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 4 oz can of diced fire roasted green chiles
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break the meat into crumbles. Add the onion as well as the seasonings then cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green chiles then stir until well combined. Set aside.
Other Ingredients:
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Black Refried Beans
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salsa
  • Tomato, diced
  • Avocado, diced
  • Green onions, diced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Sour Cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat. Layer a flour tortilla with refried beans then place on baking sheet; add a bit of the beef mixture then top with another tortilla.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes; remove from oven and spoon a bit of salsa on top of the top tortilla then top with cheese. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and top with the toppings of your choice from the list above. Serve with more salsa and sour cream. Enjoy.

 

Italian Beef Sandwiches

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I am one who absolutely loves crusty bread for a sandwich, and let me tell you this one was a winner.  Now do not get me wrong I have been making this recipe for a few years now and love it, but recently have made several changes to it.  I may be biased, but it is amazing now!  Believe me you cannot go wrong with this recipe.  Especially if you like reinventing leftovers this recipe is for you.  There are so many things to do with the leftover meat such as quesadillas, loaded baked potatoes, or even the flautas that I posted earlier with leftover pork instead.

 

Italian Beef Sandwiches

3 lb roast (I used chuck roast since it was on sale)

1 jar of whole peperoncinis

8 oz fresh mushrooms sliced

2 cups low sodium beef broth

3 Tbs dried minced onion

1 Tbs garlic powder

6 slices provolone cheese

1 french baguette loaf

 

Place ingredients through garlic powder in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  When done cooking place in refrigerator overnight so that all the fat can separate.  When ready to eat, skim all the fat off the top and shred the meat.  Place meat back in slow cooker and cook on low for 2 hours.  Cut french baguette into the sandwich size desired and place provolone cheese on each.  Place under broiler on high for 2-3 minutes until browned and bubbly.  Put the meat on each sandwich and place some of the au jus in a cup for dipping.  Freeze all leftovers after completely cooking to enjoy at a later date.

 

 

Calzone for Two

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After a fun weekend of traveling to Chicago for a Cubs game, I was trying to think of something simple to make for dinner.  I had a craving for pizza, but did not want take out or frozen, but also did not feel like making homemade dough.  Then it hit me, a calzone would be great!  I remember being a little girl, shopping with my mother and begging her to stop at Sbarro.  I absolutely loved their spinach calzone and a garlic knot.  What if i could combine the calzone and garlic knot?   That is exactly what I set out to do.  My hubby’s favorite toppings are pepperoni and sausage so I decided to use that for a filling.  I used a refrigerated pizza dough and spread it out to a really thin layer.  It worked wonderful to stuff with the fillings I chose.  The outcome was a delicious, cheesy, and comforting dinner.

 

Calzone for Two

1/2 lb of Italian Sausage

1/2 package of turkey pepperoni

8 oz can of mushrooms

1 1/2 cups of mozzarella blend cheese

3 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

1 tube refrigerated pizza dough

2 Tbs cornmeal

1 jar tomato sauce with basil

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Brown the sausage and drain.  Roll out the dough very thin.  Spray non stick cooking spray on a cooking sheet and dust with cornmeal.  Place the dough on the baking sheet.  Layer the cheese, sausage, cheese, and pepperoni until all is used up.  Place 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the filling.  Fold the dough over on itself.  Crimp the edges closed with a fork.  Spray the top with non stick cooking spray and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.  Bake for 14-16 minutes.  Split the remaining tomato sauce between two ramekins and warm in the microwave for 1 minute.  Cut and enjoy!!