Friday, March 9, 2012

BLT Steak

  • 2-12 oz top loin steaks
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinaigrette
  • tomato slices
  • 8 strips pf bacon
  • mixed greens

1.  Season steaks with kosher salt and pepper and grill until medium rare (14 to 18 minutes).  While those sizzle away, fry bacon in a medium size skillet.  Remove bacon from the pan and drain all but about a Tbsp of fat. 

2.  Add balsamic vinaigrette to the skillet.  Cook until bubbling and stir to scrape up any brown bits, about 2 minutes. 

3.  Slice the steaks in half, then top each with tomato slices, the bacon, greens and a splash of dressing from the pan.  ENJOY!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice

I love Mexican food.  I think this is because with every meal you get served beans and rice.  Since I cannot eat Mexican food every night, I like other cuisines that include beans and rice on a regular basis.  That is where the red beans and rice comes into the picture.  

When I was in college I had a roommate who was a vegetarian.  Whenever she went home on the weekends she would bring back Tupperware containers of red beans and rice and share them with me.  Although it did not have a New Orleans flavor, it was very good.  

I like to serve this as a main dish, either by itself, or with some nice greens.  I found this recipe online, here, and I changed up the ingredients a little after I tried the first batch.  You may want to try both and see what fits you better, but here is my version.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 c white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 oz andouille sausage, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced then into half moons
  • 1 lb dried red beans
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, smashed
  • 8 to 10 c water, or chicken stock
  • 2 c cooked white rice

1.  Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Saute the onions, bell pepper, salt, cayenne, pepper and thyme for about 5 minutes.  Stirring occasionally, make sure the onion browns a little and the bell pepper is soft.  Add the bay leaves, and sausage and saute for about 5 more minutes.  Add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover.

2.  Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours stirring occasionally.  Add more water if the beans become too dry and thick.  

3.  Remove 1 c of the beans and add them to a blender.  Blend until smooth and add back to the pot.  Continue to cook, about 1 1/2 hours until the mixture is creamy and the beans are soft.  

4.  Remove the bay leaves and serve over white rice.  ENJOY!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Carne Adovada Tacos

I love this recipe...I love tacos, really.  Pork is one of my favorite things to make because it takes a little bit of time and it's super yummy.  At my house, we do what's called "Taco Tuesdays" where we get in our pajamas and eat tacos in front of a movie.  I cannot take credit for this idea.  I took it off a reality show some time back, but it's fun and the kids like it.  Now, normally we just make simple beef tacos, but since we eat them every week, sometimes I get bored.  This is a great recipe to kind of mix things up a little.  (If I get really bored, I make enchiladas.)  Add some rice and beans to this and you have a great dinner!  It is worth your time to at least look for the specified chili powders, but if you can't find them, use regular chili powder as a substitute.  (I just found them at the local grocery store.)

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1 in pieces
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp California chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp New Mexico chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 c olive oil
  • 8 to 12 white corn tortillas, heated through
  • diced white onion
  • chopped cilantro leaves
  • limes

1.  Place the meat into a 11 by 12 in baking dish.  Toss this with the dry ingredients and the oil.  Marinate overnight, or for at least 6 hours, covered in the fridge.  

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Take the baking dish from the fridge and place it on the counter for 20 minutes.  Bake this, covered with foil, in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Take out the bay leaves and cloves.  Chop meat into small pieces.

3.  Serve on 2 warm tortillas, sprinkled with the white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.  ENJOY!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Normally I do not do a lot of baking for the simple fact that I am not very good at being given a limitation for my ingredients.  The way I love to cook is a little more of this, a little more of that.  Plainly speaking, I don't measure things out very well.  

However, my cousin, recently, called and has asked me to make some mini red velvet cupcakes for her birthday.  I couldn't tell her no, so I have been practicing some recipes and found one I liked.  

Originally, I went over to my cousin's house and we spent the latter part of a morning trying out one recipe.  While the cupcakes came out very moist and delicious, they did not come out of the wrapper.  This causes a problem when serving at a birthday party.  So what I did was I called my best friend, the baker, and asked for some advice.  She said that while the white vinegar used in red velvet cake is normally a staple it does not really  add any flavor to your cupcakes and only adds to the fluffiness.  (Good word!!)  Fluffy, while good, is not beneficiary when your cupcake crumbles while being pulled out of it's wrapper.

In conclusion, what I did, being the genius I am, got online, found a great recipe, and changed it a little.  I used Paula Deen's recipe because I have heard she makes the best red velvet, and it was easy.  The original recipe can be found here.   

  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c buttermilk, cold
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1 tsp red gel-paste food coloring
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your first mini muffin pan with cupcake papers and spray with Pam.  (The Pam will help the cupcakes come out of the wrapper once they are finished.)  

2.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with the paddle attachment.  Add the sifted ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.  

3.  Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the batter into each paper wrapper.  This recipe makes about 5 dozen cupcakes, so unless you have that many muffin tins, you may have to bake these in batches, like I did.  Bake in the oven about 10-15 min until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 c sifted powdered sugar

1.  In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and maple syrup together until smooth.  On low speed, add the sugar, 1/2 c at a time until incorporated.  Increase the speed and mix until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  

2.  Frost the cupcakes how you would like.  I am not good at this part, but I do suggest cutting a small to medium hole in a Ziploc bag to make a piping bag.  If you have tips, they can be inserted here instead of having to buy more bags.  

3.  I added candy sprinkles to mine, but feel free to use nuts, fruit, or even plastic signs that say "Happy Birthday".  Haha!  ENJOY!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I used to make this in college because it makes a huge pot of food that can be eaten all week long.  I'm not sure how many people this would feed, but I am guessing about eight.  It would be great served room temperature on top of some crusty bread as an appetizer at a party.  

Do lot be afraid of the eggplant.  I didn't even like eggplant when I first tried this recipe.  Over the years I have changed it a little for my tastes.  Feel free to add or subtract ingredients for your families liking.  

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Cubanelle Italian long green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 c large green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1.2 c black olives, seeded and chopped
  • 1-3oz jar capers, drained
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • 1 medium firm eggplant, chopped
  • 1 -32oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1.  Preheat a large, deep pot on the stove over medium heat.  Add the oil and let it heat up a minutes, then add the garlic and red pepper.  As you chop each vegetable, add them to the pot, just until you get to the celery.  This whole process should take about 10 minutes.  Don't overcook the vegetables.

2.  Increase the heat a little and add the olives, capers, raisins and eggplant.  Add the tomatoes to the pot and give it one big stir.  

3.  Cover the pot and cook on medium to low heat until all the vegetables are soft.  Stir in the parsley and remove the pan from the heat.  **This can either be eaten warm like a stew with some crusty bread, or I like it cold like a dip.**  ENJOY!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lemon and Olive Chicken

I love to make this recipe at my house.  It is very easy, uses very little preparation, and tastes so good!  Prepare this next to some wild rice and sweet carrots and you will have one happy family.  

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemons
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c green olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.2 tsp crushed red pepper

1.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  In two batches, sear the chicken, skin side first, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

2.  Cut the lemons in half lengthwise, and then into thin slices crosswise.  If the skillet is dry, add more oil.  On low heat, add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, but not brown, about 4 minutes.  Stir in lemon slices, olives, stock and 2 c water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  

3.  Put the chicken back into the pan on top of the vegetables, pour in any accumulated juices from the plate, and sprinkle with thyme and red pepper flakes.  Cover, and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes.  **Remember to make sure a thermometer inserted into the middle of the chicken reads 165 degrees.**  ENJOY!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crispy Oven Fish

My husband only likes his fish fried and I only like my fish pan fried, so when I found this recipe that was really light and very delicious I had to jump on it.  I have changed it from the original a little and I can't even remember where I found it, but I love it.  My kids just mainly like the fact that there are chips involved. 

When shopping for a good fish for this recipe, I mainly look for a white flesh and I try to find the thickest fillet I can.  This does work great with tilapia, or catfish which are fairly inexpensive, but I like a good piece of swordfish every now and then. 

  • 2 1/2 c crushed potato chips (I use Lays)
  • 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley (I sometimes use dried parsley because it's mainly for color)
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1 lb fish fillets, fresh

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Combine chips, cheese and parsley on a plate, or a dish with sides.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, and 2 Tbsp lemon juice. 

3.  Dip fish in remaining 2 Tbsp lemon juice, then mayonnaise mixture, then cover in chip mixture. 

4.  Arrange fish in oiled baking dish.  Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.  *The fatter the fillet, the longer the cooking time will be.  Serve with a green vegetable and some fluffy rice...YUM!  ENJOY!!