Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chipotle Tabasco-Marinated Pork

One of my favorite kitchen ingredients is chipotle Tabasco sauce. The hubby and I discovered it a few years ago, and it's smoky and spicy, but still calm enough to use as even a dipping sauce (we sprinkle it on our tacos sometimes).

This is an adaptation of a Tabasco marinade recipe, and it combines the smoky, spicy goodness of chipotle Tabasco with the sweeteness of citrus juice. Like a mojo marinade with some extra kick.

I love this with pork, but I think it would be equally good with chicken, or even shrimp, if I ate shrimp. The Tabasco folks recommend setting aside some of this marinade to serve as a dipping sauce at the table. Which would be good, although I still like the heat of the sauce straight from the bottle.

Chipotle Tabasco-Marinated Pork
Serves 4

1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. minced garlic
1/2 c. orange juice (preferably fresh-squeezed)
1/4 c. lime juice (preferably fresh-squeezed)
1/4 c. Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork

1. Combine olive oil, garlic, juices, pepper sauce, salt, and cumin. Poor over pork and place in a covered dish resealable bag. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

2. Grill pork over medium heat until cooked to desired doneness (which, in my case, was slightly overdone, because I'm not used to our new grill). Let rest before serving.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jack's Super Ham and Cheese Pinwheels

This is my little Superman. Who, at 10 months, is not so little.

Faster than a speeding Fisher Price animal train, Jack manages to scamper his way all over the house, investigating every inch and climbing everything possible. How does this little man of steel keep up his constant supply of energy? He eats. He eats a lot.

A few months ago, I told Jack's teachers at daycare that, because Jack had been through food allergy tests, I felt confident that they could let him try pretty much any food. I was expecting to hear that Jack had branched from his level-1 squash to maybe something wild and crazy, like level-2 pears and blueberries. But instead, he moved to real food, cut in tiny pieces.

And he loved it. Overnight, he started eating chicken and tomatoes with pasta. Meatloaf. Chicken quesadillas with black beans. Chili. The hubby and I decided that instead of making special meals for the little man, we'd feed him bites of whatever we were eating, so he could be introduced to those flavors early on. So he's already comfortable now eating things like Cajun chicken kabobs with potatoes and tomatoes, brisket, bratwurst (with mustard!), grilled zucchini and red pepper, and chicken lo mein (which Jack thinks is the best food EVER).

Obviously, ensuring that the little man eats his veggies is a top priority for us. We've been making a lot of soups and stews with plenty of veggies, but we also need some quicker meal ideas. These pinwheels hit the spot, and they have plenty of veggies mixed in with low-fat cream cheese.

Jack's Super Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
Makes 2 Jack-sized servings

1 Tbsp. low-fat cream cheese
1/2 carrot, grated
2 Tbsp. minced cucumber
2 Tbsp. minced tomato
1 small tortilla (about 6-7")
2 Tbsp. shredded cheese
1-2 slices ham

Jack's suggested accompaniments
Chopped pineapple
Cool water in a sippy cup

1. Mix together cream cheese and grated carrot.

2. Stir in cucumber and tomato.

3. Spread veggie cream cheese mixture on a tortilla.

4. Top with cheese and ham.

5. Roll up tightly, and then cut into slices (and then into bite-sized pieces).

This would probably work better if you refrigerate the pinwheels for an hour or two before slicing, but the little man has no such patience. He has places to go and kitties to chase.

Steakhouse Onion Rings

The hubby and I are both huge fans of steak, and we grill that more than anything else throughout the summer months. And some of the winter months, as well. (We don't have much for in-between seasons in North Dakota.)

We're always looking for yummy side dishes, and onion rings are one of my favorite steak accompaniments -- not necessarily the onion rings that I'd eat with a burger or a hot dog (like Dave's), but really crispy onion rings with a fried chicken-like coating. I like to eat the steak and onion in the same bite, so the salty, crunchy taste of the coating adds to the flavor of the steak.

This recipe is based on one from Cuisine at Home, and is super simple to make. Plus, the onion rings are so crispy that they can sit at room temp for a long time before they get soggy. I couldn't help but snack on the leftovers all evening long.

Steakhouse Onion Rings
Serves 4

1 large yellow onion (preferably Vidalia), sliced into rings
2 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Dip onions rings in buttermilk. In a separate bowl, combine flour and seasonings. Dredge onion rings in the flour mixture, a few at a time.

Cuisine at Home had this genius idea of using a wooden skewer to move the onion rings around between the wet and dry batters, and for dropping them into the hot oil. Worked like a charm!

2. Dip rings into buttermilk a second time.

3. And then back in the flour mixture, we go.

4. Set rings on a rack adn refrigerate them while the oil heats, about 15 minutes.

This sets the batter so it's less likely to pull away from the onion rings when they're dropped in the oil.

5. Heat 1" of oil to 365 degrees in a large pot over medium-high heat. Fry onion rings in batches until light brown, about 2-3 minutes per batch.

6. Drain on paper towels, and season with additional kosher salt while the onion ring are still hot.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good Earth Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Morea and Papo, the winners of the Good Earth Giveaway! If you could send your mailing address to alericks@yahoo.com, we'll get some pasta and bamboo love sent your way.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Creamy, Red-Skinned Smashed Potatoes

Just a note that it's not too late to enter the Good Earth giveaway!

I'd also like to mention that I received a late-night delivery, courtesy of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, and Nature's Pride, which included three bags of Nature's Pride Premium Harvest buns. I'm a picky bread eater and not a huge fan of prepackaged breads, but these were surprisingly soft and tasty. I couldn't eat three bags in three days, however, so I put some of the extra deli rolls to good use in a steak, tomato, and bacon panini.

With about 45 minutes to spare before supper the other night, the hubby asked me to throw together some garlicky mashed potatoes. I stared at him blankly, blinked, and said, "You mean like from a box?" He said, "No, REAL mashed potatoes."

I started laughing. I need at least two hours' notice to make real mashed potatoes. I peel potatoes at about a rate of one every 8 minutes. Sadly, I'm not joking. The hubby, on the other hand, is a speed demon with a paring knife. He actually peels potatoes faster than I can cut them. But he was busy with other food.

So, I took the lazy way out -- red-skinned smashed potatoes. No peeling required, lumps welcome. I based this recipe off a previous blog post, but I took a few shortcuts, and made some ingredient substitutions. They were a cinch. And the hubby said that aside from our chipotle-cheddar mashed potatoes, these were the best he'd ever had.

(I apologize for the lack of preparation photos. I sincerely thought these wouldn't turn out.)

Creamy, Red-Skinned Smashed Potatoes
Serves 6-8

1 head garlic
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 lbs. red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in large chunks
4 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. half-and-half
2 Tbsp. cream cheese
Plenty of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Slice off the top of the head of garlic and drizzle cut side with olive oil. Wrap in foil. Bake about 35 minutes. Let cool.

I skipped that last part. It hurt me hands, man.

3. Meanwhile, place potatoes in a large pot filled with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender and drain.

4. Remove the cloves of garlic and mash with a wooden spoon.

5. Smash the potatoes. Stir in mashed garlic, butter, half-and-half, and cream cheese, and continue smashing to the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Good Earth Giveaway

I recently received a Good Earth gift pack via MyBlogSpark, which included a Mediterranean Chicken dinner kit and a load of fun bamboo kitchenware. (I love bamboo. I use bamboo cutting boards. I sleep on bamboo sheets. I even have bamboo underwear. Too much information?)

The dinner kit was definitely a step up from the usual dry dinner kits, and is much healthier to boot (including whole-grain pasta). It took a bit more prep work than some dinner kits, but the results were well worth the extra effort.

Good Earth and MyBlogSpark have also offered me a second prize pack to give away to one lucky winner. This includes:
  • A GoodEarth dinner kit, which will be hitting shelves this summer. Four flavors are available: Mediterranean Chicken with angel hair pasta, Spicy Citrus glazed shrimp with angel hair pasta, Herb Crusted Chicken with mushroom risotto, and Tuscan Chicken with penne pasta.
  • Two sets of bamboo flatware.
  • Two bamboo dishes.
  • A bamboo utility board.
  • A 100% recyclable grocery tote.

To enter to win a prize pack, you can do any or all of the following, for one entry each:

  • Leave a comment about which flavor you would like to try
  • Tweet about this giveaway
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog
  • Become a follower of this blog

You can leave a comment that includes your entries, or send an email to alericks@yahoo.com. Entries are due by 6 p.m. CST on Monday, July 12, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck! And really. Get yourself some bamboo sheets.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

It's my birthday. Have a cookie.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Real Simple)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 c. dark brown sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 c. flour
12 oz. miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped (I added some milk chocolate chips, because someone had been sneaking my peanut butter cups)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream together butter and sugars, and then mix in the egg and vanilla extract. Stir in the baking soda, salt, and flour. Gently fold in the peanut butter cups.

3. Place tablespoonfuls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I always shape the dough into semi-flat disks, just to give the cookies a head start.)

4. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden, and let cool on the pan for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.