Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garlic Scape Pesto

I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year and it started up about two weeks ago now. It’s been slow going as the weather has been cooler and not great for growing yummy veggies. To make up some good baskets, the folks at Fitzgerald Family Farm helped out another local farm, Wooley Lot Farm and picked up this wonderful, curly grass looking things called garlic scapes. I had never heard of them before so I was glad a recipe was included on the flyer in my basket. They have a great garlic flavor and while they are pretty good grilled with some salt and pepper, I loved turning them into pesto. I served some on top of sliced steak and the flavor was incredible. It gave it a nice garlic bite without being too overpowering.

What You Need:

1/4 lb garlic scapes
1/2 c olive oil
1 c parmesan cheese
juice of 1/2 a lemon

What To Do:

Place everything but the oil into a food processor. Turn it on and while it’s running, stream in the olive oil. That’s it. Pretty simple and it goes great with just about any protein. I loved it on steak and chicken but have yet to try it on fish. If you do, please leave me a comment telling me how it was.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grilled Broccoli


Those little green trees they call broccoli is a huge favorite in my house. You can find it on the supper table with most of my meals. It’s my go to veggie and it’s a good one. Broccoli has fibers and lots of vitamins and minerals. It can however be a little boring. I know a lot of people like to buy the kind that is smothered in cheese sauce and while I enjoy it, my waist line does not. I’ve made broccoli in lots of different ways from just plain steaming to roasting in the oven, but during the summer months I love to grill it. You need to use broccoli spears for this, cuts or florets will fall through your grill. You can find spears in the frozen veggie section with all of the “boxed” varieties. The broccoli takes on that wonderful smoky flavor that everyone associates with grilling. So the next time you through some chicken or steak on the grill, throw some broccoli spears on too! You’ll be in for a nice treat.

What You Need:

1 box broccoli spears
Veg oil
garlic powder

What To Do:

Defrost the spears either in the sink or in the microwave and drain off any water. Place them in a bowl and toss with a bit of oil, a pinch of salt, some pepper and a sprinkle of garlic powder. Place on your preheated grill over low to medium heat. Turn after a few minutes or when nice dark grills marks are present. Finish cooking through on the other side. Since these spears came from a box, they were already blanched and should be soft enough that you only need to heat them through and get a bit of color on them from the grill.  Another way I like to do it, is to brush on a bit of teriyaki sauce while grilling.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pico Chicken

A great, simple, quick most importantly, flavorful, chicken dish. Simply put, it’s grilled chicken topped with pico de gallo. Not much more I can say except for “when do we eat?”

What You Need:

2 chicken breast
1 c Pico De Gallo
salt, pepper and garlic powder

What To Do:  

Preheat your grill on high. Season the chicken a bit of salt, pepper and garlic powder. When the grill is hot, cook your chicken a few minutes on each side or until cooked all the way through. Remove from the grill top each breast with 1/2 c of Pico De Gallo and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mexican Breakfast

Nope, I’m not making huevos rancheros but I bet that’s what you thought you’d be getting right? Sorry to disappoint but this is so much better! Lots of leftovers often come with new ways to use them up. This way just happened to be a breakfast and I can not tell you how incredibly yummy it was! I ate it every morning for a week straight. I loved it so much that I want to make carnitas again, just so I can make this breakfast.

What You Need:

1 tsp butter or veg oil
1/2 c left over carnitas
1 large egg
1 corn tortilla, heated
1 tbs salsa verde
1/2 medium tomato, diced
shredded cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

What To Do:

In a small sauté pan or your favorite egg pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the carnitas and heat briefly before creating a “hole” where the egg with sit. Crack your egg into the hole and cover with a lid. Let cook for a few minutes or until your desired doneness. You can also flip the whole thing over if you don’t like sunny side up eggs. Place your egg and carnitas on top of the warmed tortilla and drizzle with the salsa verde. Top with the tomato and devour.
It can be a bit spicy so I sometimes will add a bit of sour cream to the top as well. If you like cheese with your eggs, add a bit before removing your egg from the pan.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Carnitas or “little bites” is a Mexican dish that is a pork shoulder that has been braised in lard.  Now when your watching your waist line or trying to get it to shrink like I am, slow roasting something in a big old tub of fat doesn’t sound very appealing. The alternative? Searing the pork until it’s dark brown and very crispy, then slowly braising in a crockpot filled with yummy goodness. The result? Moist, flavorful pork that can be served up on some corn tortillas with chipotle mayo and some tomatoes. This recipes make a TON of meat. I’m always thinking ahead though and I love recipes that freeze well. We ate carnitas one night, then I used it to make Posole another night and still had plenty that went in the freezer for another time.

What You Need:

6-8 lb pork shoulder
2 tbs veg oil
2-4 cups chicken or veggie stock (homemade or low sodium)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs ancho chile powder
1/2 tbs chili powder
1/2 tbs oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
2 chipotles in adobo and a spoonful of the sauce

What To Do:

Remove the pork from the bone and cut into large 2-3 inch chunks and salt well. I probably used a goodDSCF5952 2 tbs of salt to season my pork. I know it sounds like a lot but it helps to pull the moisture from the pork and it adds tons of flavor. It does not making the dish salty at all, I promise!

DSCF5958Place a large cast iron or heavy bottomed bottom pot over high heat. Once screaming hot, add in the veg oil and start to cook the pork. Place the pieces in the pan in a single layer. Be sure not to over crowed the pan as you’ll end up steaming the meat and it won’t brown. Cook the pork over high heat until deep brown and caramelized and each side. Remove to paper towel to drain. Continue cooking the pork in batches until it’s all done. When all the pork is cooked and removed from the pan, turn the heat off and pour in 2 cups of the stock. Use a whisk or spoon to scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
Place the pork into the bottom of a crockpot. Pack it in as tightly as possible. Sprinkle the pork with the spices and the chipotles, then use the stock that you deglazed your pan with to just barely cover the pork. Use more stock or water only if needed. You don’t want to cover the pork completely, just barely bring the liquid to the top. Place the lid on and cook on low for about 5 or 6 hours or on high for about 3 or 4 hours. The meat will be soft and almost start to fall apart. Remove the meat from the liquid and either cut it into pieces or what I did is take my tongs to almost “shred” the pork. Strain the liquid and set aside. Return the meat to the crockpot and add about a cup of the liquid back into the meat. Give it a stir and put the lid back on. Let sit on low for 1 more hour. Checking it frequently and adding in more liquid only if necessary. You want to keep the meat moist, but not swimming in the liquid. When read to serve, warm/char some corn tortillas over a flame or in a dry pan and place a bit of the meat on it. You can top with just about anything you’d like but I used some chipotle mayo and diced tomatoes. Salsa verde would be an excellent choice too.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Yep, I’m on a Mexican kick again! Seems like once a month I get the urge some yummy, full of flavor Mexican food. This recipe however, is more Mexican American then truly Mexican. Quinoa is cooked with Mexican flavors, cooled and then combined with cilantro, cherry tomatoes and a delicious lime vinaigrette. The taste is wonderful and vibrant, perfect for when you don’t want Spanish rice!
What You Need:
1 1/2 c quinoa, uncooked
2 2/3 c water
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I used a mixed color variety)
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1 1/2 c frozen corn, thawed or use fresh corn
zest of 1 lime
juice of 3 limes
2 tbs olive oil
2 large clove garlic
1 tsp oregano, divided
1 jalapeño, minced
1 tsp ground cumin, divided
salt and pepper
What To Do:
In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add in the quinoa, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, minced jalapeno, 2 garlic cloves that have been pushed through a garlic press or finely minced and a bit of salt. Bring it back to a boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large bowl, whisk together the remaining cumin and oregano with the lime zest, lime juice and olive oil. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and toss in the bowl with the vinaigrette to combine. Place in the fridge to cool completely. Once cooled, stir in the tomatoes, corn and cilantro.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chile Verde Salsa

This recipe has a total of three ingredients. You know I love recipes like that! Green, spicy, tomatillo salsa, perhaps the best I’ve had. This recipe comes from my academic advisor. His name? Jose Gomez. He’s a pretty awesome guy and of course you know I love anyone who will willing to share recipes with me. I didn’t change his recipe in the sligtest and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. A quick note about tomatillos. They are NOT green tomatoes. They are apart of the gooseberry family and have green papery husks that need to be removed before eating them. When you remove the husk, they have this sticky stuff on them that needs to be gently rinsed off under cool water.

What You Need:

10-12 tomatillos
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 Serrano chilies (about the size of your pinky – more if you like it really spicy)

What To Do:

1) Peel the husks of the tomatillos and wash themtomitillos
2) Peel the garlic cloves and wash them
3) Wash the serranos then chop the stems off
4) Place the tomatillos in a sauce pan (large enough that the tomatillos form a single layer) and fill with enough water to just cover the tomatillos – add the garlic and serranos, making sure they are submerged. Bring to a rolling boil then turn the flame to low and simmer for at least 45 mins, making sure the water doesn’t boil away.
5) Using a slotted spoon, place the tomatillos, garlic and chilies in a blender and maybe ½ a cup of water (see note below) from the sauce pan. Purée. (don’t forget to put the lid on the blender)
6) Let salsa cool then serve with chips. (NOT FRITOS)
NOTE: I didn’t add any water to my blender and it was the perfect consistency in my opinion.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mojo Pork Loin

This is a really yummy supper and perfect for the summer months as it require little effort on your part and is pretty light for a dish that contains meat. Pork loin is marinated in citrus juices and spicy chipotles and adobo sauce, grilled, then sliced thin. I chose to put mine in warm corn tortillas but eating this by itself would be just as good. I topped mine with chipotle mayo and a few pieces of tomato. Shredded lettuce would be really yummy on here as well. I used just two chipotles in the marinade, but I think it really needs one or two more as it wasn’t as spicy as I’d like it to be.

What You Need

Pork Loin (2ish lbs)
Juice and zest of 2 each: lemons and limes
3-4 chipotles in adobo, minced
2 tbs adobo sauce from the chipotles
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tbs agave, honey or sugar
3tbs olive oil

What To Do:

In a bowl whisk all the ingredients together except for the pork. Place the pork and the mariated in a shallow dish or in a zip top bag and put in the fridge. Let sit for at least 4 hours but I wouldn’t let it sit much more then 8 or so. The acid in the citrus juice could start to “cook” the pork. 30 minutes before cooking, remove the pork loin from the fridge and allow it start coming up to room temp. Preheat your grill. Once hot, sear the pork loin over high or direct heat for a few minutes on each side, before moving to low or indirect heat to finish cooking which could take another 10 minutes or so depending on how thick your loin is. I had a pretty thin one so it didn’t quite take 10 minutes to finish cooking. To test for doneness use a instant read meat thermometer in the thickest part. It should read between 140 and 145 or you can use the finger test which is what I do. When it starts to feel firm when I press it, I know it’s pretty much done. I don’t recommend doing this unless you know what it feels like. You can always test it with a meat thermometer and then press it so you get used to the feeling. Remove from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes. While it’s resting I usually heat my tortilla by holding them over the flame on my stove top. You can also do this in a dry pan, flipping them when they start to brown on the bottom. Once the meat is rest, slice very thinly and serve.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Strawberry Walnut Salad

This was more than good, this my friends, was incredible. I feel in love the instant the combination of flavors hit my mouth. I enjoyed this dish as a simple side, but it can easily be turned into a meatless main course. First I candied some walnut haves in a bit of brown sugar and honey. Then I topped some fresh mixed green with sliced strawberries, goat cheese and the walnuts. The dressing was just a simple splash of balsamic vinegar. This salad is truly heaven on the plate.

What You Need: (Per side salad)
About 1 cup of mixed greens (I used a big handful)
3 or 4 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 c candied walnuts  (click here for recipe)
1/4 c goat cheese crumbles (feta works too)
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
What To Do:
Pile the green on a plate and top with the strawberries, walnuts, and goat cheese. Drizzle the balsamic over the top and season with a bit of salt and pepper if you’d like. Serve.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Greek Chicken Sliders


I’ve never made a burger before using ground chicken but I have to say that these were really yummy. I had some feta cheese I needed to use but I didn’t want to make a pasta salad and I didn’t have all the ingredients to make my favorite Mediterranean Salad so I started thinking of what I could do. I had taken some chicken out of the freezer for a completely different dish but when the idea came to me, to grind up the chicken and make burgers I knew I had a winner. These are very simple and they have some great flavor. I topped mine with tzatziki sauce for even more yumminess.

What You Need:

1 1/2 lb ground chicken
3/4 c crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
veg oil

What To Do:

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly, without over mixing it. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Shape into 6 sliders (or 8 smaller ones). Drizzle a little oil onto each side of the slider to help prevent sticking. Grill for a few minutes on each side or until cooked through completely. Serve on slider buns or mini hamburger rolls with tzatziki sauce.

Note: a little fresh mint, chopped would be good in these burgers too!

Candied Walnuts

A great salad topper
1 1/2 c walnut halves
2 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs honey
splash of water (less then a tbs)
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place everything in a sauté pan and turn the heat to medium. As it starts to warm up you’ll be able to mix everything together. It will soon start to bubble. Stir occasionally until it looks like most of the “liquid” is gone. When you stir it, very little liquid sugar will be visible. Also, the sugar will have changed in color from a light straw like color to more of a dark amber color. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully spread the nuts out onto parchment and let cool completely.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fruit Tart


I really enjoy fruit tarts during the summer. They’re delicious and can be used with a combonation of fruits, perfect for any fruit that is in season. This fruit tart happens to be pretty simple to  make too. Just a handful of ingredients, no pressing or rolling dough out either. Layers of phyllo dough create a crispy flaky bottom for the creamy topping and sweet fruit. Topped off with some dark chocolate and you have the perfect, summer time desert.

What You Need:

9 sheets phyllo dough (1/2 a box)
2 tbs butter, melted
1 (8oz) block cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 c whipped topping
2 kiwi’s peeled and sliced
1/2 fresh pint blueberries
1 pint of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
(Or any fruits you’d like)
1/2 c dark chocolate chips, melted

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. On a parchment lined DSCF5868backing sheet, layer the phyllo dough, one sheet at a time, brushing with melted butter in between each sheet. Phyllo dries out very quickly so make sure to keep the sheets you haven’t used under a slightly damp kitchen towel. Once you have layered all 9 sheets, place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese to lighten it up and then fold in the whipped cream. Spread this mixture evenly over the tart and topped with your fruit. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top and let sit for 10 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened again. Cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Caprese Salad

DSCF5858Caprese salad is nothing more then glorious layers of juicy, red, ripe tomatoes, creamy, soft mozzarella cheese and fragrant, green basil. It’s a great light summer time dish when the days are killer. It’s also great because that’s when tomatoes are in season, making them taste like no other time of year. It’s sad that good ripe tomatoes have such a short window where they’re truly wonderful. While I have never met a tomato I didn’t like, including green ones, everything taste better when they’re in season. I steer away from the traditional and take a slightly route to goodness. I use basil pesto instead of the basil leaves. The traditional flavors are still there, but elevated to another level.
What You Need:
3 large ripe tomatoes
8oz of real mozzarella (not the blocks you find in the dairy isle, but the kind you find in the cheese case)
3/4 c basil pesto
What To Do:
Slice the tomatoes into 5 slices each, then slice the mozzarella into 12 slices and layer it with the tomatoes into 3 row. Drizzle each row with 1/4 cup of the pesto. Enjoy
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