Friday, August 28, 2009

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies ( or How to Satisfy Your Chocolate Craving!)

Do you crave chocolate, or more precisely, brownies! Well, don't resort to a mix when you want those thick, gooey, chewy, decadent bars that we know as brownies! No! If you keep some basic ingredients in your pantry, you can have these yummy bars anytime you want. Many brownie recipes call for certain extra ingredients that you may have to purchase before you can make a recipe. But these are basic brownies that you can dress up or leave plain, and they will satisfy you every time! If you will keep cocoa and butter and some other basics on hand, you'll be ready to make these anytime the craving hits. The recipe does call for chocolate chunks, but I've made them without, or, I've subbed chocolate chips, or nuts or M&M's. When my kids were young, I always made them plain as that how they liked them. They are awesome anyway you make them! I use this recipe when I make brownie sundaes with my homemade Cocoa Fudge Sauce.

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownie
Source: Not sure, possibly Taste of Home
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup melted butter, divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks, or chocolate chips (I usually use less)
In a large bowl combine the cocoa and soda; blend in 1/3 cup of the melted butter. Add the boiling water and stir til blended. It may get thick which is ok. Stir in the eggs, sugar and rest of butter. Add flour, salt and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chunks and pecans if using. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into bars. Yea, right! I don't think we've ever let them cool that long, unless I was taking them elsewhere to be eaten. I bake them for 40 minutes in an air bake pan, but it will depend on your oven and the pan you use as to how long it will take for the brownies to bake.

These brownies will have a light crust on top, a result of the cocoa, I think, but the center will be moist and chewy, as you can see from the photo. I have other brownie recipes, but this is my standby. This time, I used chocolate chips instead of the chunks, and sprinkled the nuts on top before they went into the oven. I added some more chocolate chips about 2 minutes before the brownies were done, but they didn't stick; they just fell off. So don't do as I did! But, make these yummy brownies; you'll be glad you did!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Five-Treasure Fried Rice ( Adapted from Ellie Krieger)

I've had this recipe from Fine Cooking earmarked to try for several months now, since I've been on the hunt for more ways to use brown rice. If you don't care for brown rice, you can sub white rice for this tasty recipe. But, I love the nuttiness of brown rice and it is so healthy so that's a big plus with me. I've been trying to add more fiber rich foods to our diet for several years now, so this recipe fits the bill perfectly. I cut the original recipe about in half, so that it would feed just my husband and myself, and then wished I hadn't, so that there would be some leftovers! So, I'll give you the complete recipe reflecting my changes of course. Ellie's recipe was written for broccoli stems, but I subbed zucchini. It also contains Edamame, but my store didn't have it, so I subbed frozen peas. I also didn't use the Canadian bacon, preferring to use some diced pork, so my husband would have more meat in the dish! It was delicious with the pork and a little more filling for him, so I hope he appreciated it! LOL, I'm sure he did!
Five-Treasure Fried Rice- adapted from Ellie Krieger at Fine Cooking
2 T. canola oil
1 1/2 cups diced zucchini ( she used 1 cup peeled, diced broccoli stems)
3/4 cup finely diced carrot
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper ( she used 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup frozen peas ( she used frozen, shelled edamame, which I couldn't find!)
3/4 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen ( I used fresh)
4 green onions, scallions, thinly sliced- both white and green parts
4 ounces sliced mushrooms- my addition
2 T. finely grated ginger
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 cups very cold, cooked, brown rice
1 1/2 cups diced pork loin (Ellie used 3/4 cup diced Canadian bacon)
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
Use rice that has been cooked the day before or early in the day, so that it will be well chilled. Using fresh cooked rice will give you mush, which is not good! Put the diced pork in a small bowl with about 2 T. soy sauce, I T. oil and 1 clove diced garlic and let marinate while you chop all the veggies. Prepare all the vegetables before you begin this dish. Heat 1 T. oil in a nonstick skillet or stir-fry pan over med-high heat. Add the drained pork to the pan and let it cook and brown well; then remove the pork to a plate. Add another T. of oil to the pan if needed. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, and carrots and cook, stirring frequently about 3-5 minutes. Then add the corn and peas and stir about 1 minute. Next, add the scallion, ginger and garlic and don't cook very long, maybe 1 minute. Cooking the ginger and garlic too long seems to kill the flavor. Add the rice and stir until heated through. Make a 3 inch well in the middle of the pan and add 1 tsp. oil, if needed. Add the eggs and stir them until almost fully scrambled. Then stir the eggs into the rice mixture. Add the cooked pork and soy sauce; stir and it's ready to serve! This is a very delicious and flavorful dish. I love the fresh ginger and garlic in this easy meal. Since I used very lean pork, I still think this was a very healthy meal. I needed it to be a main dish and it worked very well. All of the fresh veggies made this dish and I'll definitely be making it again. We loved it!
Now, if the sun would come out, maybe my pictures will be better! I'm taking pictures on my back porch by the windows, but the sun is hidden. We are having a strange August, so far, but I'm not complaining. I like 85 degrees better than 100! Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Country Pumpkin Muffins

I know it's not fall yet, but we've had some unseasonably fall like weather recently which has had me craving certain comfort foods. And at the farmers market a couple of days ago I saw sweet potatoes, winter squash and just a few small pumpkins! I didn't buy any yet, but it made me remember the canned pumpkin in my pantry that I hadn't used. And I hadn't made these muffins for a few months so I remedied that real quick. These Pumpkin Muffins have become a family favorite since I first made them last year. My son downed about 5 of these moist and spicy muffins when he spied them! His girlfriend gladly took some home with her also. It's a good thing this makes a large batch! These tasty muffins freeze well; I just wrap them individually and place in freezer bags in the freezer. At this rate though, I'm not going to have any left to freeze!

Country Pumpkin Muffins ( adapted from Allrecipes)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin, canned or fresh (there will be a little more than 1 1/2 c. in the can, but I just use all of it)
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
nuts or sugar for sprinkling on muffins tops
In a large bowl add the sugar, eggs, oil, water and pumpkin and beat well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and spices and blend into the pumpkin mixture. Do not over mix. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, or paper liners, filling about 3/4 full. If desired, sprinkle tops of muffins with course sugar or chopped nuts. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. This makes about 27 muffins, which is a good thing in this family!
These muffins are so moist and addictive! Yes, you can add nuts and raisins to the mix, but my family won't eat them if I do, so I adapted the recipe to our tastes. Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chicken Quesadillas with Corn and Summer Squash (another recipe for the prolific Zucchini!)

Do you still have zucchini overflowing your kitchen and garden? Or, does it just jump into your hands at the farmers market, like it did to me this week? I've had a deep love for summer squash since I was a kid and I just can't get enough of it. Of course, growing up we ate it fried (which is divine), or in Zucchini Bread (which is heavenly), but I've been trying to come up with more options, such as the Stuffed Zucchini, that I made earlier this week. Last night I decided to make quesadillas, since dinner was just going to be for Son Number 2, and myself. My fridge is overflowing right now with veggies, so I decided to add them to the quesadillas, which turned out to be a great idea as they were so full of flavor! Quesadillas are easy to make. Just lay a tortilla on a hot pan or griddle and top with cheese and the chicken and the veggies.

Let cook until the cheese is all melty and gooey like, and then top with more cheese and another tortilla. Hold your hand against the top tortilla and gently flip the whole quesadilla over with a large spatula, to brown on the other side. Carefully now, stuff can fall out!

As soon as it's done, take a pizza cutter and cut into fourths and then repeat with the rest of the ingredients. The sauteed vegetables really made these quesadillas! I made 5 total, so my husband and I had leftovers for lunch today and they were still good warmed up. We loved the addition of the squash and corn, so this will be a regular at our house now! I'll tell you how I made them.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in strips

juice 1/2 of a lime and 1 T. olive oil, mixed together

1 ear of corn, kernels cut off

1/2 of a small zucchini, seeded and diced

1/2 of a yellow squash, seeded and diced

about 1/2 cup red onion, large dice

diced bell pepper, if desired

about 12 ounces freshly grated Monterrey Jack Cheese

1 package flour tortillas, I used the Fajita size (small)

Lay the chicken strips in a glass pan and mix the juice of the lime with 1 T. olive oil and sprinkle over the chicken. In a medium hot skillet, add 1 T. oil and the corn kernels, the diced zucchini and yellow squash, onion and bell pepper, if using. Season with salt, ground cumin, pepper and a little chili powder, if desired. Saute for 2-3 minutes, just to soften, but leave them crisp tender. Remove veggies to a paper towel lined plate. In the same skillet, add the cut up chicken and season with the same spices used on the veggies. Sorry that I didn't measure, I just always eyeball it. When chicken is white around the edges, turn over and cook until done. It only takes a couple minutes total for the chicken if you slice it fairly thin.

Heat another skillet or griddle to medium high heat. If desired, spray one side of a tortilla with Pam and lay it on the griddle. Sprinkle with cheese. Add a few slices of chicken and some veggies. When cheese melts, add more cheese on top, then another tortilla, and carefully turn it over to brown on the other side. Cut in fourths to eat. Enjoy!

There are short cuts for these quesadillas of course. You can use leftover chicken, either baked or grilled. The same goes for the veggies. Use those leftover grilled vegetables! In fact, the veggies were so good in this, that you could leave out the chicken and they'd still taste great!

Have a great week end!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini (slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Do you have an abundance of zucchini this summer and needing some recipe ideas? I tried these Stuffed Zucchini from Emeril Lagasse, this week and they were a big hit with my husband. The first time I made them, I cut the recipe in half, you know, just in case we didn't like them. But early into our meal, my husband said,"Man, these are good"! And they are sooo very good, addictive really. I've made them twice this week and we have loved and enjoyed every bite! Our kids haven't tried them, so that leaves more for us! Just a little sausage adds so much flavor to this filling. The first time I tried the recipe, I followed it closely. The second time not as much. Check out Emeril's recipe here. My version follows; let's cook! Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the inner flesh with a melon baller or whatever works for you.
Brown the sausage and add onion and chopped zucchini trimmings and other ingredients and cook just a few minutes. Stir in bread crumbs and spoon filling into zucchini shells and bake.

Sound easy? It is. There is some preparation, but it's not too time consuming. I haven't veered far from Emeril's recipe, just made some minor changes. He salted each zucchini half and laid it upside down on paper towels while preparing the filling. I did the same the first time through the recipe, but couldn't tell much difference really. So that's up to you. I added some mushrooms the second time through, which were very yummy, but not necessary, if you don't want to use them. I didn't use oil to cook the sausage as it really didn't need it. And, I didn't use Gruyere cheese, as I couldn't find any at the store. Let's make these delicious Stuffed Zucchini!
STUFFED ZUCCHINI (adapted slightly from Emeril Lagasse)
8 small zucchini, about 7-8 inches long
6 ounces sausage, such as lamb, or mild pork sausage- I used mild Italian Sausage
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup seeded and chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, if desired- this is my addition
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. freshly chopped basil
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese for topping (recipe also calls for Gruyere)
Lay the zucchini on a cutting board and cut in half length wise. Using a melon baller, scoop out the flesh of the zucchini leaving a shell that is about 1/4 inch thick. Salt each zucchini half and lay cut side down on some paper towels while you are preparing the filling. This is optional, but I think it made the zucchini a little more tender. Dice the trimmings and reserve.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add onion and reserved zucchini and mushrooms, tomato and garlic and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes. Do not over cook the filling or it will be mushy. Remove pan from heat. Add the fresh herbs and about 2 1/2 T. of the dried bread crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Brush or rub each zucchini half with olive oil, as this keeps the zucchini from drying out. Spoon the cooled filling into each zucchini boat. Sprinkle with the cheese. Top with remaining bread crumbs, if desired. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy on top. Enjoy!
Now, I think this is a main dish, whereas, my husband calls it a side dish. What do you think?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Easy Paella

Have you ever eaten Paella? This is not authentic Spanish Paella, but an easy version of the classic Spanish dish that is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner, but delicious enough to serve to company, if desired. Traditional Paella is a rice dish that has many versions, depending on the region that it is from. Paella can contain seafood with the rice, or meat and beans and of course, vegetables, in a saffron flavored rice. I have not had the actual traditional version, but it sounds delicious. I found this easy version in a 1997 Southern Living Cookbook, and have seen other versions elsewhere, even on Epicurious. This recipe uses a saffron rice mix, that you can find by the other rices mixes in your local grocery store. I have used both Vigo, and Mahatma brands equally well. This saffron rice is in a foil packet, not a box like other rice mixes. I don't use mixes too often, as I find them too salty, but I make an exception for this dish. Sausage, chicken and shrimp are suggested for this dish and that may sound like a lot, but you actually need only about 1 1/2 pounds of meat altogether to feed 6 adults. The sausage adds great flavor to this dish so I recommend that you don't omit it. If I omit any of the meat, it will be the shrimp, and I'll substitute it with more chicken. I use the smoked sausage, but chorizo or a lean turkey sausage would also work. After cutting up the sausage and the chicken, brown it in hot oil in a large skillet and then remove it to a plate. Leave the drippings from the meat in the skillet to flavor the dish. Next you will saute the pepper and onion, if using.
I used a red bell pepper, a little onion and garlic, which I forgot to show. Only saute lightly, then add in the rice mix, water and other seasonings. Cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Add the cooked meat back into the pan along with peas and uncooked shrimp. Let cook another 5 minutes. I used precooked, frozen shrimp and added it at the end.

This will be a very flavorful dish and a tad spicy with the addition of ground red pepper, but it helps make the dish. Don't leave it out completely, unless you really don't like it, or it's too hot for your children. We love this dish with the mellow rice, the spiciness of the sausage and all of the other additions. It's a great warm weather meal which takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish. Let's make this;
1 T. olive oil
1/2 pound smoked sausage or sausage of choice,
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 pound, peeled, deveined shrimp- I used frozen, cooked shrimp
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup diced onion, if desired
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper- I only use 1/8-1/4 tsp.
1 (10 oz.) package saffron yellow rice mix
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups frozen peas
No salt needed (in my opinion; the rice is salty, but taste and use your own judgement)
Heat oil in a large skillet; add sliced sausage and chicken. Cook about 5 minutes until browned, then remove meat from skillet with a slotted spoon to a plate. In the drippings, saute the red pepper, onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add ground red pepper, rice mix and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Return the sausage and chicken to the skillet along with the peas and uncooked shrimp, if using. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn pick. I just serve it from the skillet with a good salad and some bread. I hadn't made this in quite awhile, but my daughter really likes this dish and will remind me every so often to make Easy Paella. It's one of her favorites! It is good-Give it a try!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Favorite Chicken Salad (so far)

I used to have a friend that made the best chicken salad sandwiches, better than any I had eaten before. Her secret? She baked her chicken! And she didn't add large amounts of mayo to make it sloppy. It was, just perfect, with nuts, mayo and chicken. As time has passed, I've added the other ingredients to it. But I still like to bake the chicken breasts, as it adds a depth of flavor that boiling can't. The crunch of the nuts and the vegetables is a delicious contrast with the chicken, so it makes a wonderful sandwich. Of, course, you can alter the ingredients to suite your own tastes. I use bone in breasts and take care not to over bake them and dry them out. Here's my recipe for delicious Chicken Salad.


3 bone in chicken breasts ( this made about 4 cups of diced meat)

1 stalk of celery, diced (1/4-1/2 cup)

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 heaping cup of red seedless grapes (cut in half if very large)

1 T. diced red onion, optional (sometimes I use onion powder instead)

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, optional

1/2-3/4 cup mayo; start with a lesser amount and add more only if you need it

2 tsp. Dijon mustard, optional

salt and pepper to taste

Bake chicken breasts in a 400 degree oven until done. When pierced with a fork the juices will run clear. Mine were done in about 35 minutes. I t will depend on how large the chicken breasts are as to how long they bake. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Once cool, remove the meat from the bones and dice and add to a large bowl. I had 4 cups of meat, but it may vary.
Add the rest of ingredients and mix well. Start easy with the mayo and add more or less, according to your preferences. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serve on some good rolls or on lettuce lined plates.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Black-Bottom Banana Bars

There is one flavor that my whole family loves, and that's banana. In a family of 5, finding a food that everyone loves can be rare. Banana desserts are at the top of everyones list, so when the bananas start to turn I can be sure that what I make will be devoured! These Black-Bottom Banana Bars are deliciously moist and have a wonderful texture, somewhat lighter than banana bread. And, of course, the fact that the bottom half is chocolate is a huge plus! This recipe comes from an older Taste of Home magazine, but it is also on their website. I made no changes, other than I used 4 bananas instead of 3, and I didn't swirl the dough, but they taste the same either way. These bars are very addictive and will disappear quickly!

BLACK-BOTTOM BANANA BARS ( from Taste of Home)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas, 3-4
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp.baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup baking cocoa
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar and add the egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Mix in the mashed bananas. In another bowl, combine the flour, soda, baking powder and salt.Add to the banana mixture and mix well. Divide the batter in half and add the cocoa to 1 half of the batter. Spread the chocolate batter into a greased 9x13 inch pan. Spoon remaining batter on top and swirl with a knife, if desired. I just spread it out some. Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until the bars test done. Remove from oven and cool. These delicious bars get incredibly moist and are perfect for any banana lovers that you know. Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts (slightly adapted from Steven Raichlen)

I've been wanting to try this recipe for awhile, so Saturday was the day, although it was very cloudy and looking like it could rain. The rain didn't come, but the dark skies sure made my photos dark. I tried to lighten them a bit, but then the chicken looked pink! Not very appetizing at all! Now today, I had some computer problems, but I think it's OK now, so I get to share this delicious recipe for Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts with you! It is from the book, "How to Grill", by Steven Raichlen. This is an easy, moist and very flavorful chicken; the hardest part is cutting a pocket in the chicken breasts without cutting through it. Even if there is a mishap, all is not lost! I did that to one breast, so I grilled it with the lid down so that it would cook through without having to flip it over. It was saved! To begin, with a sharp knife, cut a pocket on one side of the breast, but do not go all the way through the meat. Stuff with basil leaves and sun-dried
tomatoes. Top with a couple of pats of Goat cheese. Cover this with the other side of the breast and fasten with toothpicks that have been oiled with vegetable oil. The oil helps you to be able to push them through the meat. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Grill over high heat until done.

GRILLED STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS (slightly adapted from "How to Grill")
4 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
8 sun-dried tomato slices, soaked in hot water for 1 hour
8 larges basil leaves
4 ounces creamy goat cheese
3 T. olive oil ( I used 4T.)
2 T. fresh lemon juice (I used 3T. )
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
sea salt and pepper to taste
Each breast half will have a chicken tender on the cut side of the breast, so pull this off and save the tenders for another use. Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. On a cutting board, remove any fat from the breasts. Carefully cut a pocket in 1 side of each chicken breast and lay it open. On one side place 2 sun-dried tomatoes, 2 basil leaves and a couple of pats of goat cheese. Fold each breast back over the stuffing and use 2 oiled toothpicks to close the chicken. Place chicken in a non reactive pan. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and pour over the chicken. Cover and marinate 1 hour. I marinated this for 2 hours and loved the extra flavor. If using a charcoal grill, set up for direct grilling over a hot fire. Oil the grill well. Place chicken breasts over fire and grill for 4-6 minutes per side. Remove breasts from the grill to a plate and let rest about 5 minutes before slicing. It looks wonderful sliced on a platter garnished with more basil, but would be fine just to plate it whole too. Enjoy!
The lemon and garlic marinade was perfect with this chicken! The combination of goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and basil made for a perfect meal for family or company. We had 7 adult family members present, and 3 of them did not care for the goat cheese, and 1 or 2 didn't care for the tomatoes. But they all tried something new! Those of us who loved this dish were wanting the leftovers, which made a really great addition to a salad the next day! So next time I'll change to Mozzarella or Parmesan, but otherwise, this dish was a hit. Hope you give it a try!

And the Winner is!

I promised to have this out this morning, but computer problems have been thwarting my intentions! As a result I have pulled the name of the winner from a basket, randomly, I assure you, so without further ado- Rachel of "Rachel vs. the Kitchen" is the winner of the Cooking Light Cookbook, "Healthy Summer Grilling"! So, Rachel, please contact me with your mailing address so that I can get this out to you.
Thanks to everyone who entered this drawing and more so, thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate all who stop by and those who leave such wonderful comments!
I'll have a new recipe out later today, if my computer will let me!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies

I absolutely love this Peanut Butter Cookie recipe! It came from my Mother's collection and I've been making these delicious cookies since I was a young girl. They have wonderful, crisp edges and centers that can be soft and chewy or firmer, depending on how long you bake them. My daughter has been baking them now since she was a younger and she made these the other day, and took some pictures! I'm rubbing off on her! Here's the recipe for you to try;
Peanut Butter Cookies (from my Mother)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsifted flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening, sugars and peanut butter; stir in egg. Sift flour and baking soda together and mix into peanut butter mixture. Roll 1 tsp. dough into a ball and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of dough. Press each cookie flat with a fork in a crisscross pattern. Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. This dough spreads out so don't crowd the dough on the cookie sheet. This is a smaller recipe so sometimes we double it, if we are wanting to share with friends or neighbors. These cookies are very additive so enjoy!
There is only one day left to enter my give-a-way. Leave a comment telling your favorite grilled food. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Southern Fried Okra!

Last week when I went to the farmers market, I bought some okra. I used to grow it when I had a larger garden and I found myself suddenly craving some of the delicious fried nuggets. This is a dish I don't fix often, but I husband and I do love it. We've just cut down on fried foods; however, I do use okra in some soups that I make in the cooler months. If you've ever cut up some okra, you have found that it's rather, well, slimy on the inside! But this so called slime is what naturally thickens gumbo dishes and it works so well in my vegetable soup too. But some people can't get past this fact, so they don't give okra a chance! But it's delicious and has it's place in our kitchens. To begin, wash it well and dry with paper towels.
The okra pods should be no more than 4 inches long or so, or it will be tougher. Slice each pod into 1/2 inch pieces and drop into a bowl of buttermilk. With a slotted spoon, spoon out the okra and add to a bowl of cornmeal. Stir around with a fork and remove okra to a skillet and fry til golden. Drain on paper towels. Let okra cool a minute, them pop in your mouth and eat these crunchy bits of goodness! Did I mention that Fried Okra is very addictive? Really, it's more addictive than potato chips and yes, it is a vegetable, so I'll continue to fry them up, just not as often as I would like. If you haven't tried them, you need to!

Southern Fried Okra
1 pound of okra
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal, I use yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
oil, for frying
Wash okra and lay on paper towels to dry. Slice okra into about 1/2 inch slices. In a large bowl, add the buttermilk. In another bowl add the cornmeal, salt and pepper. Place sliced okra into the bowl with the buttermilk. Stir well to coat the okra. With a slotted spoon, transfer the okra to the bowl which contains the cornmeal, salt and pepper. You will need to do this in 2-3 batches. In a large skillet heat some oil, I use canola, over medium heat. I like the oil to be about 1/2 inch deep. When oil is hot, take a different slotted spoon and spoon out the cornmeal covered okra and shake it to loosen excess cornmeal, and then put into the hot oil. Let it fry for a few minutes, then stir around with a fork. It cooks fairly quickly so when all sides are golden, remove okra to a paper towel lined plate. You may have to do this in 2 batches. You may also use a deep fryer if you have one. Serve immediately and enjoy!

One note: I use less salt than a lot of people, so you may need to adjust the amount of salt in this recipe. If it's rather bland, then up the salt!
Are you an okra lover, or an okra hater?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My 100th Post! (and a Giveaway !)

I can't believe it's been 100 posts already! When I started this blog, I was looking for a way to put all of my recipes on the computer so that my children could access them easily. One of my sons was looking at a software program to do this and the older son and his wife were calling weekly to get instructions on how to cook certain dishes that my son loves. They still do that some of course, but this blog has helped them out as well. It saves them a little time if they can pull up a recipe on the computer! Of course, I still have recipes to add!

This blog has also introduced me to some wonderful people! I've enjoyed getting to know so many of you wonderful bloggers and a number of you have helped me when I was stumped on something technical! I was definitely not teck savvy when I started this, other than Ebay and email! Of course, I'm still struggling in some areas, but I've gotten better! I love your comments; they bring a smile to my face!

I've even become a better cook as I've learned so much from your wonderful blogs! I also have a lot of recipes to try, so my family is happy because they have more variety now in our meals. Of course, I'm also taking pictures before they can eat, so they had to get used to that!
And, I take a lot of pictures! But, they've gotten some better too, except for the one above, it turned out not so great. But it was the best one, so sorry about that.

So anyway, I'm having a giveaway to show my appreciation to you, my readers. Unfortunately, I can only offer this to my readers in the U.S. I wish I could do it world wide as I appreciate all of my readers, so maybe next time.
Up for grabs is a special edition of, "Cooking Light, Healthy Summer Grilling", cookbook. There are no ads, just 110 delicious looking recipes for every level of experience. It includes recipes for beef and lamb, pork and poultry, fish and shellfish and fruits and vegetables! The "Adobe Marinated Pork Tenderloin and Grilled Pineapple Salsa", that I last posted, is from this book. Every recipe looks fantastic! There are steaks, sandwiches, kabobs, tuna, clams, swordfish and lots of other choices!
So to enter this giveaway, you must be from the U.S., and you need to leave a comment telling me what your favorite grilled food is. This contest is open until Saturday evening at 12:00 midnight. I will announce the winner Monday morning, August 10th! Winner will be chosen randomly. Thank you everyone for a great blogging experience!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adobo-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

We had an amazing meal this week end thanks to a recipe I found in Cooking Light's, "Healthy Summer Grilling", cookbook that I purchased recently. The pork tenderloin marinates in a wonderful lime juice and garlic mixture which imparts a great citrus flavor and moistness to the meat. The salsa is a wonderful mix of pineapple and vegetables with a touch of lime. It also calls for crystallized ginger, which I could not find at the store I went to, so I just omitted it. I will try to find this before I make the flavorful meal again. We enjoyed this meal so much that it will be a part of out grilling rotation from now on! If you want to make a memorable meal that has family or guests raving, this would be the one! This pork tenderloin was about 2 pounds and came in a package of two. Trim off any fat and there is a silver membrane around part of it which you can cut off so that the marinade can penetrate the meat better. Slip a sharp knife under the silver part and slice it off. The recipe calls for the meat to be marinated for 1 hour, but I had some interruptions, so it was about 2 1/2 hours. I'll go that long again as the flavor was wonderful. Let's get started ! First, we'll mix up the marinade and throw in the meat. Be sure to use a non reactive pan! Cover and put in fridge.
Fire up your grill! We have a charcoal grill, so I used enough charcoal to grill both the pork and the pineapple at the same time. The recipe called for about 25 minutes grilling time for the meat, but I went longer, as we don't like pork to be very pink. The pineapple cooks quickly, so when it's done you can whip up the salsa while the meat finishes cooking. Lets start:
Slightly adapted:
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 pounds of pork tenderloin
2 tsp. olive oil
cooking spray, for the grill
finely chopped green onions and cilantro for garnishing
Combine first 6 ingredients in a 2 quart non reactive baking dish. Trim up the pork and add it to the marinade in the dish. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hr. (I did it for almost 2 1/2 hrs). Fire up the grill. Coat grill rack with oil. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, insert a meat thermometer, if using, and place pork on grill over the fire. Grill until pork is 160 degrees for slightly pink. I grilled it for about 35 minutes. We don't care for pink pork. And of course, it depends on how hot your fire as to how quickly the meat cooks. When pork is done, remove from the grill and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve with Grilled Pineapple Salsa. Recipe below.
1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper- I used green, because I had them
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. fresh lime juice
1 T.brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. minced crystalized ginger, I didn't use this- will next time
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 drained, canned chipotle chile in adobe sauce, minced-I didn't use this
Lay pineapple slices, and red and yellow peppers on a hot, oiled grill and grill about 3 minutes each side. remove. Dice peppers and pineapple and combine with remaining ingredients. Serve over the pork tenderloin. Eat and be happy!

I served this delicious pork and salsa with grilled zucchini and my Tex-Mex rice. My husband is already wanting this again! It is supposed to serve 8, but not at this house!
This is an exciting week for me, as I'll be having my 100th post! I've learned so much since I started this blog! I'll mention more in my next post so check back again. I so appreciate all of my readers and all the comments you leave. You all are great!