Thursday, February 26, 2009

BBQ Chicken with Oven Roasted Veggies

Aside from making really fresh and healthy foods, I have also tried to create some nice quick recipes. Things that I can marinate the night before and stick in the oven the following night. It makes my life so much easier to have something waiting for me in the fridge in a neat little plastic bag. I loved this chicken! I roasted the bone-in chicken breasts with the skin on and removed it when eating it. The chicken was unbelievably moist and juicy! I made plenty so that I can use it in salads and other dishes. Yet another time saver for me, is turning one dish into several!

BBQ Chicken with Oven Roasted Veggies

2.5 Pounds Chicken Breasts Bone-In, Skin-On
1 Cup Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce or Your Fave Sace
2 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
4 Large Carrots, Cut into Large Pieces on a Bias
1 Large Onion, Cut into Large Wedges
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

1. Combine 1/2 of the BBQ Sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a bag and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees to ROAST.
3. Toss veggies with salt, pepper and a touch of olive oil.
4. Spray down a roasting pan with pan spray and place chicken on top.
5. Roast both the veggies and chicken at the same time, about 30 minutes. Use the remaining half cup of bbq sauce to baste the chicken while it's cooking so it's extra saucy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Lately, I have been trying to cook much lighter and healthier. My fiance'and I are both trying to modify all our favorite recipes to be less caloric. I love creamy soups and one of my favorites is cream of broccoli. The creamy factor of the soup is obviously the most important and can be achieved by blending or pureeing the soup the right way. The soup had tons of flavor and a really great texture! The best part...not one touch of cream or butter was in this soup!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

1.5 Pounds of Broccoli with Stems
1 Onion Chopped
1 Carrot Chopped
1 Celery Stalk, Chopped
2 Shallots Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves Chopped
3 Slices of Canadian Bacon
5 Cups Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup of Milk
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Olive Oil

1. In a little bit of olive oil, crisp up the Canadian Bacon.
2. Remove the bacon and turn down the heat.
3. Sweat out the onion, carrots, celery, shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sweating the veggies really brings out the flavor more. Keep the heat nice and low and keep the lid closed.
4. Add all the broccoli into the pot and sweat them for about 5 minutes. Until they have softened a bit.
5. Pour in all the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
6. Add all the broccoli and some of the liquid into a blender or food processor. Play around with the amount of liquid being poured in, since it will be put through a sieve it will lose some of its volume, it is important to not put all the liquid in.
7. Put the mixture through a sieve and finish of with just the splash of milk to add some creaminess to it.
8. Put some blanched broccoli florets on the bottom with the crispy Canadian Bacon. Ladle in the soup and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Red Hot Shrimp

If my fiance' could hacve one thing for the rest of his life, it would be seafood, especially shrimp. He was still feeling under the weather on Friday so I wanted to make him something with that would clear his sinuses. I marinated the shrimp in the morning and they were ready to sautee up in the evening when we both got home. Nice, quick and easy! I made him some toast to mop up the remaining sauce and he soaked up every last bit.

1 Pound Shrimp (I used shrimp with their heads because my fiance' loves it)
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tsp Siracho (Thai Chili Garlic Paste)
1 Lime Juiced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1. Throw all the ingredients in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
2. Place all ingredients in a pan and sautee for five minutes or until shrimp are fiery red and tender.

Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

Back in high school, every day for breakfast, I would go to the school cafeteria and have 3 amazing warm, gooey chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips. It was the the highlight of my day, every day. Do you remember those days when you could eat whatever you want and not gain an ounce? I had this way of stuffing anything into my body and still retaining a perfect, perky figure, wish I had it that easy today :) To this day I never found a recipe for cookies that tasted like those did. Today, as I was folding laundry, I caught an episode of Barefoot Contessa. She was reminiscing all her favorite chocolate recipes...and there they were... my beloved White Chocolate Chunk Chocolate Cookies! (Now I am sure that the ones at school were made from some frozen mystery cookie dough) I was instantly inspired and made them this evening. I didn't have any chocolate chunks, but I did have some white chocolate chips, so I just used 12 oz of those.

Now I will be honest...I have NEVER been good at baking cookies. I ALWAYS over baked them because I thought they were still raw inside, turns out they just had to cool :)
I followed Ina's instructions exactly and they were PERFECT! I ate three of them on my own! (Diet? What diet...) I am going to bring them to my fiance's work tomorrow so they can enjoy them as much as I did! (And so that I can get those tempting little devils out of my house!)

Here is Ina's recipe:

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

40 to 48 cookies Ingredients
1/2 pound unsalted butte,r at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon.

Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Breakfast Mayham!!!

Yesterday my fiance' was feeling really icky still and I know that there is nothing better than a filling breakfast! So I went a bit crazy! Thanks to Pam from For The Love of Cooking, I have developed a sudden love for making muffins. I had several vanilla yogurts left over so I decided to make some muffins! Pam's recipe really was delicious!
I made a cranberry orange muffin and a banana walnut muffin. Both equally delicious and moist!

I also made some nice spicy breakfast potatos to clear up his sinuses! I added 2 fried eggs on top and he was thrilled!

As for the 2 dozen muffins...I put them in a platic bag and gave them to my in-laws.

Spicy Breakfast Potatos

4 Large Red Potatos, Diced
1/2 Green Pepper, Diced
1/2 Spanish Onion, Diced
1/2 Jalapeno, Diced
1/4 Pound Canadian Bacon or Ham, Diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Tsp Garlic Powder
2 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (Use less if you want it mild or you can leave it out)
2 Tsp Smoky Paprika
4 Eggs
1/4 Cup of Parmesan
Olive Oil

1. Place onions, peppers, Canadian bacon or ham and garlic into a pan with olive oil.
Saute on medium high until everything begins to caramalize.
2. Add potatos and all the spices. Cook for about 15 minutes until potatos are tender.
3. In the meantime, prepare 4 eggs and cook them to your liking.
4. Sprinkle the parmesan over the veggies and top with eggs!

Cranberry Orange Muffins
*This is based on Pam's recipe..please check out her blog as it is one of my favorites!*

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of low fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Orange zest
1 Dried cranberries

1. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl with the cranberries.
2. Combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl.
3. Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix just to combine.
4. Spray down a muffin pan with oil spray and bake muffins at 325-degrees for 22-25 minutes!

*I used Pam's exact recipe for my banana walnut muffins, except I subbed out a cup of walnuts instead of chocolate chips.*

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chicken Marsala

My fiance' loves chicken marsala because of all the mushrooms. I found that one of the key elements to a really great chicken marsala is to get some really deep color in the flavor. With mushrooms, the darker they get, the more intense the flavor is. Also, a little tip for browning your mushrooms: DO NOT put salt in until the end. Salt draws out moisture and moisture will prevent that caramalization process.
I served this over a really yummy garlic and Parmesan polenta. I had the polenta...and my fiance' had the marsala. It was a great dinner :)
*Even though the dish is called "chicken Marsala" I actually didn't notice that I ran out of Marsala wine. I substitued a sweet Sherry and some dry white wine. It turned out just as great!*

Chicken Marsala

1.5 Pounds Chicken Cutlets
1 10 Oz Package of Crimini Mushrooms
1 Shallot, Chopped Small
1/2 Cup Sherry Wine (or Marsala of course)
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Season chicken cutlets liberally with salt and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pan until it is hot.
3. Sear chicken on both sides until it develops a nice crust.
*Traditionally, the chicken cutlets are dredged in flour and then seared. However, I am trying to stick to a healthier diet. If you get the pan hot enough and let the chicken brown, you will not miss the flour at all.*
4. Remove the chicken to another plate.
5. Reduce heat to medium high and add shallots, add olive oil if necessary. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and scrape up the bottom to remove all the yummy bits.
6. Add the mushrooms and continue sauteeing until nice and rich in color, about 15 minutes.

7. Pour in wine and sherry. Let reduce by half and add chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Add in chicken and finish cooking; about 5 minutes.
*If the sauce is too thin, mix in some flour so that it thickens.*

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Green Chicken Soup

I know this may not sound like the most appetizing dish, but I promise it is! I had a few chicken carcasses leftover in freezer from all the roast chicken that I made. So I decided to make a really nice chicken stock. Thank God I did! My fiance' came home today very under the weather! I made a soup with that my mother used to call,"Green Borscht". There's tons of greens in there to give you the nutrients that you need when you are sick. My fiance and I both ate a huge bowl of it since it was so low fat I did not have to feel guilty at all! I strained the chicken stock of all the fat and ended up with a very lean stock.

Green Chicken Soup

1/2 a Pound of Chicken Tenders
5 Cups Chicken Stock (this would be one of the only soups I recommend using homemade)
1 Bunch Dill, Chopped
1 Bunch Parsley, Chopped
1 Leek, Chopped (Do not use the tough green parts)
1 Bunch Scallions, Chopped
1/2 an Onion, Chopped
1 Bunch Kale or Spinach, Chopped
1 Tbsp of Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Take all veggies and put in a collander and wash thouroughly, they all have a TON of dirt on them.
2. Heat chicken stock and bring to a nice slow simmer. Add chicken tenders and all veggies.
3. Let everything simmer nice and slow for 30 minutes. Remove chicken tenders once they are finished cooking.
4. Shred chicken tenders with a fork and add back into the soup.
5. Add lemon juice and serve!

*This is very tasty and you can put any greens you want into it. In Russia, sorrell leaves were plentiful and cheap and we added them to this soup. Here, they are hard to come by and very pricey, so use any greens you want and just add a bit of lemon juice for the tanginess!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Balsamic and Basil Chicken Quarters

I needed something extremely quick an simple for dinner one night. I had some chicken quarters that I wanted to use up. I stuck them in the marinade in the morning and it was ready to go for me in the evening. The sugar in the balsamic vinegar caused the skin to roast and crisp up beautifully! This was the closest that I have ever gotten to the flavor and texture of a rotissire chicken. I honestly think it had to do with the marinade as well as the roasting process. My fiancee could not stop raving about the chicken. I served it up with some whole wheat orzo with garlic, basil and tomatos. Later in the week I used one of the leftover chicken breasts in a simple garbage salad. Nothing more to say here, this dish was simple and delicious.

1 Whole Chicken, Cut up into Wuarters
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
Salt and Pepper to Season
1 Plastic Bag

1. Place all ingredients into plastic bag. For at least 12 hours.
2. Set oven to "ROAST" at 450-degrees.
3. Place chicken parts on a roasting pan on the middle rack in the oven. Roast for about 25-30 minutes or until juices run clear.

*See...I told you it was simple :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Favorite Minestrone

There are probablly as many recipes for Minestrone soup as there are for chocolate chip cookies. Minestrone literally translates to "Big Soup." It's a very simple dish, typically containing vegetables in season, meats on hand, beans and rice or pastas. Several years ago I worked at a really great Italian restaurant. They had the best minestrone soup...THE BEST! It wasn't only the flavor that was so unique but the texture. There was a unique technique that they used to thicken the soup which also changed the color. I was so excited when I finally learned how to duplicate the sou from the restaurant! The minestrone was filling and low cal, a perfect combination!

1 Large Onion, Chopped
2 Medium Carrots, Chopped into Half Moons
2 Stalks of Celery, Sliced
1 Yellow Squash, Cut into Half Moons
5 Stewed Tomatoes and 1/4 Cup of its Juice
1 Can of Cannolinni Beans
3 Cloves of Garlic, Thinly Sliced
3 Pieces Smoky Bacon, Sliced
1/8 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
5 Quarts Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil

1.In a heavy bottomed pan, pour 1 tsp olive oil and add in the bacon. On medium heat, sweat out the bacon so all the oils come out.
2. After the fat has sweated out of the bacon, add in the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Toss to coat with the bacon.
3. Add in the chopped tomatoes and the tomato juice.
4. Add in your chicken stock and bring to a boil.
5. Take 1/4 of the beans and place in a blender or food processor. With a ladle, pour in about one cup of the soup and the veggies into the blender. Blend until a smooth puree. Stir in the mixture slowly into the soup, this will thicken the soup slightly.
6. Add in the rest of the beans, squash and red pepper flakes. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
7. Season to your liking and enjoy!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Barefood Bloggers: Real Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic Italian American favorite. I have my own recipe that I have posted on here . It actually has taken me a long time to perfect this recipe and I am finally quite happy with it.
Now I am a HUGE Ina Garten fan and there has not been a dish yet that I made that I wasn't happy with. However, this dish, I feel is more American than it is Italian. I was very determined to see what the difference in my recipe and Ina's was, so therefore, I followed the recipe exactly. (I did run out of red wine so I had to substitute with white wine. I also substituted whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta) The combination of the 2 different types of breadcrumbs definitely created a different texture, more spongy than anything else. Now I do not think that this is necessarily a bad thing, it's just not what I am used to for meatballs. The three different meats did not change much of the flavor for me. I would rather stick to lean ground meat and save on the calories. The sauce was actually quite delicious, but again not traditional marinara.
All in all I have to say...I was very pleased with the dish...but I will stick to my recipe...Sorry Ina :)

For the meatballs:

1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For serving:

1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan

Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don't crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don't clean the pan.

*Look how gorgeous and brown they got on each side! This really makes a difference in flavor and texture!*

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Sorry guys...I have been on a hiatis...I'm sorry for not replying to your comments and posts. It's been a super busy week for me...But not to worry...I am going to try and post some pics and recipes tonight! It's Italian Week! Yeay!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Latin Week: Mexican Chicken Soup

It's cold in Chicago (naturally) and soup is always my favorite lunch and dinner! It always manages to warm me all over and fill my tummy up! I added a little extra heat to this particular soup with jalapenos and tasted great! I made it with some really lean chicken breast that I roasted off instead of just poaching it. I find that roasting it gives a nicer flavor. Finish it off with a squeeze of lime and fresh scallions and avocado give it the perfect bite. Simple, warm and delicious!

Mexican Chicken Soup

Roasted Chicken Breast

2 Lean Chicken Breasts
Sprinkle with Mexican Spice Rub
Dry Rub
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Cayenne
1 Tbsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Dry Oregano

1. Roast in a 450-degree oven until juices run clear.
2. Let rest until cool to handle and shred with a fork.
*Chicken can be made a day ahead of time or you can use rotisserie chicken to make life a little easier.*


1 Green Pepper, Diced
1 Red Pepper, Diced
1 Onion, Diced
2 Carrots, Half Moons
2 Celery Stalks, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Jalapeno, Finely Diced (if you like it mild just remove the seeds)
1 Handful Cilantro, Chopped
1/4 Cup Tomato Puree
1/2 Cup Frozen Corn
1 Qt Chicken Stock
Olive Oil

1. In a large pot, sweat all veggies together in olive oil, leaving out the corn.
2. Once all the veggies are fragrant, pour in the chicken stock and tomato puree and bring to a boil.
3. Let simmer on low for 30 minutes.
4. Taste for seasoning and add corn and shredded chicken once the soup is done. Serve with diced avocado, cilantro and fresh scallions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Favorite Breakfast!

One of the reasons that I love Sundays so much is because I do not feel guilty about having a nice breakfast at noon! I love waking up later on Sundays and cooking a nice filling breakfast. A good warm cup of coffee with a filling breakfast always puts a smile on my face and my fiance's!

Anyone who has ever gone out and partied too late, has a favorite greasy food to help them absorb the surplus of alcohol. My friends and I used to go to a Greek diner that was always better at 4am than it was at 4pm :) I always ordered one thing, "The Gypsy Skillet". A skillet filled with sauteed peppers, onions, ham potatoes and smothered in deliciously evil liquid cheese. As if that was not enough, they covered it with two eggs, cooked to your liking, my choice was always over easy.
Yes this was the perfect 4am, after clubbing treat. While, this meal would have had no effect on my weight 5 years ago, now I have to think of it a bit differently. I clearly cut out the liquidy cheese concoction (who knows what's in that anyhow!) and changed two eggs into 1. All in all an extremely delicious breakfast that prepared me for a night of Super Bowl drinking :)

My Gypsy Skillet

*This recipe fed both my fiance and myself, however I did take a much smaller portion for myself, since I am trying to watch my weight. My portion is pictured in the picture below for anyone who is interested.*

3 eggs
1/2 A Large Onion, Chopped
1/2 A Green Pepper, Chopped
1/2 A Red Pepper, Chopped
1 Scallion, Sliced
1/4 Pound Canadian Bacon, Diced
4 Medium Red Potato's, Diced
2 Slices Swiss Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

1. Saute potato in olive oil for ten minutes.
2. Add in onion and peppers. Continue cooking for 10 more minutes.
3. Add Canadian bacon and cook until potatoes are cooked.
4. In another non-stick pan, cook 3 eggs to your liking.
5. Top the veggie skillet with 2 slices of cheese and melt. Top off plate with eggs and take a sip of your coffee! Enjoy!

*Sometimes this is the perfect dinner for me as well!*

Latin Week: Citrus Cilantro Chicken Breast with Spanish Rice

It's Latin Week! Yeay! I wanted to cook with some really fresh and vibrant flavors. My chicken breast combines citrus, garlic and cilantro to create a nice and simple chicken dish that is extremely versatile. Combined with Spanish Rice and you have a great complete meal for any day of the week!

Citrus Cilantro Chicken
6 Chicken Breasts, Cleaned and Trimmed of Fat
1 Lemon, Juiced and Zested
1 Orange, Juiced and Zested
Handful of Cilantro, Roughly Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Salt
1/2 Tbsp Pepper
1 Tsp Cumin
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 Large Plastic Ziplock Bag

1. Place chicken breasts into plastic bag.
2. Combine juice and zest of lemon and orange. Add seasonings and olive oil. Stir to combine.
3. Place in refridgerator for at least 5 hours, over night is best.
4. Preheat oven to 450-degrees.
5. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and cook for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and juices run clear.

Spanish Rice

2 Cups of Long Grain Par Boiled Rice
4 1/4 Cups Water
2 Packets of Goya Tomato and Chicken Boullion
1 Large Tomato
1/2 Red Pepper Diced
1/2 Green Pepper Diced
1 Red Onion, Diced
1 Jalapeno Pepper, Sliced
2 Garlic Cloves , Minced
1 Tsp Turmeric
Olive Oil

1. Add enough olive oil into a pot to cover the bottom.
2. Turn the heat to medium and add jalapenos. Let jalapenos sweat out so the heat and flavor infuses the oil.
3. Cut the tomato in half and squeeze out the juices of it, this will allow you to cut the tomato nicely and you can use the juice for the rice as well.
4. After about five minutes, remove the jalapeno with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pot.
5. Add in the rest of the vegetables and let them sweat for 5-10 minutes, until soft and fragarent.
6. Add in the rice and combine with veggies.
7. Pour in water, tomato pulp and juice, turmeric and the Goya Packets.
*I was very against using the Goya packets, however, they add a really great authentic flavor without any extra fat. The turmeric adds a really beautiful yellow color to the rice*

8. Bring the rice up to a boil and then cover and let cook for 25 minutes on low heat, covered.
9. Fluff with a fork and serve piping hot.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Suuuuuuper Bowl Sunday...Surprise For Me

Heheheh I love this pic!

Alright...I will admit it...I don't do football...I'm not even sure I know most of the rules...In fact, I didn't even know what teams were playing this year. OK there is your shock value for the year...I am just here for the Super Bowl parties! Yup I am a Super Bowl party whore! Sorry:) Whenever there is some big game on, I always volunteer our house as the party house! I love serving the game munchies and drinking and chatting. Last year we had over 30 people for the game! It was exhausting! Our kitchen table quickly turned into a local liquor store, complete with Tequila, Vodka and every variety of beer you can imagine! There was an abundant amount of food and unfortunately at the end of the night, an enormous amount of clean-up for me :( I decided from there on out...I limit game night to 15 people!

Initially, my fiance wanted to have a small gathering of "just the guys" at the house, because apparently "the girls just wait for the commercials anyhow and interrupt our game experience with their constant gossip!" I, however, was not about to endure this whole Super Bowl thing without my girls! So I invited all the guys and their significant others and by the beginning of last week we had 15 people RSVP. Perfect I thought. Unfortunately, by mid-week that happy fifteen had dwindled down to a pathetic 4, 2 of whom were me and my fiance.

Naturally, at that point I decided on just getting wings and pizza from Cosco and cathcing a movie with the girls while the boys gamed, burped and scratched.

Come Sunday morning we had some more RSVP's and I knew I would need to do some cooking! So I looked into my fridge and saw what I could conjure up last minute. I had some ground beef and I was making Cuban Pork Carnitas for the week (it's Latin Week!) little menu plans went to work!

Quickly, I ran to the grocery store, grabbed some tortillas and King's Hawiian Dinner Rolls. My fiance picked up some DiGiorno Pizza and some delish Tyson Honey BBQ Wings from Cosco. What am I going to do with all these wacky ingredients you ask??? Simple: Sliders with Caramelized Onion and Zesty Aioli on Hawaiian Kings Bread and Cuban Pork Quesadillas with Avocado! GOOOO TEAM!

Surprisingly...I actually watched the game...well not all of it...but definitely all of the commercials! There ended up being 6 of us...and I could not have been happier with that number! The boys decided that they were going to get trashed and my friend Kate and I decided to join them just for the heck of it.

Sliders on Hawaiian Bread Rolls

Makes 12 Sliders

1 1/3 Pound Ground Chuck
1/4 Onion, Grated
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper To Taste
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
12 King's Hawaiian Bread Dinner Rolls
3 Pieces Gouda Cut, Each Slice Cut into 4 Pieces
2 Homemade Caramelized Onions (See French Onion Recipe)

1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
2. Make 12 little sliders, ensuring that the edges are thicker than the middle.
3. Coat a grill pan (or your outside grill) with spray oil.
4. Sear on both sides and let rest until ready to serve. Add smoked Gouda slices, and finish them off right before serving in a 450-degree oven for about 5-7 minutes, until pink in the middle and cheese is melty.

5. Cut rolls in half and smear zesty aioli sauce (see below) on the top buns. Place burger onto bun, layer up some caramelized onions and top off with the top bun!

Zesty Aioli

1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1 Tsp Garlic Chilli Paste
1 Tsp Good Hot Sauce
1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Tsp Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Combine all ingredients and use as a shmear on anything from burgers to panninis!

Cuban Carnita Quesadillas

1 Onion Sliced
1 Bay Leaf
3 Pounds Pork Butt or Any Tough Pork Meat
5 Cups of Chicken or Beef Stock
3 Tortillas (Large)
1 Avocado

Dry Rub
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Cayenne
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Dry Oregano

1. Combine all ingredients of your dry rub and pat onto the pork. Making sure to cover all surface ares. *This will make more than you need for this recipe. But it is a great spice mixture to use on anything!* Cover and let stand in refridgerator for at least 3 hours, best if kept overnight.

2. Remove from fridge and sear meat on all sides until a beautiful golden crust is formed.

3. Place into your favorite crockpot, add in onions and bay lead abd cover with enough stock to submerge pork. Cook for 4-5 hours or until meat shreds easily. *When storing, make sure you store with some of the cooking liquid so that the meat remains moist.*

4. Spray down a large 14" frying pan with oil spray.
5. Place tortilla down and layer on a bit of Carnitas meat, diced avocado and Chihuhah Cheese.

6. Fold over and squish the ends together so the cheese melts and act like a glue.

7. Turn over and cook on other side. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
Serve alongside some homemade Pico de Gallo and sour cream!