Category Archives: Main Dish

GRILLED SKIRT STEAK

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I love good steak, unfortunately I can’t afford to buy it. So when the rare opportunity to buy skirt steak on sale + 50% off arose, I somehow found room in my freezer for 10 packages. Yet even a good steak can be rendered bad if not done properly. This includes over seasoning the beef. I want to add flavor not cover it up. This marinade does just that. Since it was Mother’s Day we pulled out the grill and fired it up.

INGREDIENTS
2lb SKIRT STEAK
1c WORSTERSHIRE
1/2 c OIL
3 TB HOSIN SAUCE
2 TB GARLIC

Hosin is a thick, brown sauce found in the Oriental section of your grocery store. It is sweet with just a tiny kick.

In a zipper bag combine all the ingredients and mix by smooshing the bag. Open the skirt steak ams place into the nag. Push out much of the air ams zip it closed. Mush the bag some more to make sure it.gets all over the meat. Allow to marinate at least an hour but longer won’t hurt.

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Allow the bag to set out of the fridge about 20 minutes before grilling. Steak should never be cooked ice cold.

So if you are one of those modernist with a propane grill you need to adjust the temp to what works best for thin steaks. I am still stuck in the dark ages with my charcoal. Which I piled about 25 coals together and waited till I saw a nice ash.

Place the steaks directly over the coals till you get a good sear. Then move slightly to the side for a few minutes to cook. Flip the steaks and return to direct heat to sear. Move to the side and cover. Now you have an oven and the steak will slowly cook to desired doneness.

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Typically your steaks will be thicker on one end. I prefer this as my kids prefer varying degrees of donenes. By the time one end is medium rare tjw other is medium. Remember to remove the steaks BEFORE they get to where you like them as the rest for a few minutes before carving they will keep cooking.

Use your. Thumb to test doneness.
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Starting at the bottom is how a well done steak will feel. As you move further up towards the joint you will feel the softness if a rare steak. Remove from heat and cover about 5 minutes before carving. This keeps the juices from all running out. Be sure to slice thin strips against the grain.

Tonight I grilled up some rolls to get them warm and a little crusty.

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I hope you give it a try this summer.

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Shrimp and Mushroom Risotto

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It sounds like such a fancy dish and is quite expensive to order in a restaurant. Yet risotto is not only very affordable to make it is simple as well. From start to finish it is ready in less than 30 minutes.

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INGREDIENTS
2 TB Butter
1 1/2 c Aborio Rice
3 c hot Chicken Broth
1 lb peeled and devined Shrimp
8 oz sliced Mushrooms
3 Green Onions chopped
1 TB parsley
1/2 c Parmesan Cheese
Johnny’s Seasoning

* One cup of water may be substituted for the broth.

Melt the butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the rice and saute for 3 minutes. The rice will slightly change color but pick up a nutty flavor.

Begin adding the hot broth in half cup increments. Stirring the rice until all the liquid is absorbed each time. Continue with this process until the rice is tender. You may not end up using all the liquid.

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Meanwhile, turn the oven onto 350 degrees.  Season the shrimp with the Johnny Seasoning, or salt if you prefer.  Spread them in a pan and place into the oven. Keep an eye on them and when they begin to turn pink add the sliced mushrooms and onions. Turn the oven up to 400 and continue cooking until the shrimp and veggies are done. The shrimp will be a rich orange and the mushrooms soft and brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the parsley.

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Once the rice is fully cooked add enough liquid to make a creamy sauce.

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  Add the shrimp and mushrooms. Sprinkle in the cheese and serve immediately.

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Total cost was less than $10. I hope risotto does not seem so intimidating and you will give it a try. Don’t be afraid to make it your own by substituting your favorite vegetables and meat, or leave out the meat altogether. What variations can you come up with?

Not so Hot Chili

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Sometimes I wonder what happened to my children. how could I have given birth to people who don’t like a hot chili? I have learned to adapt, otherwise the leftovers were more than I could eat. The following recipe has a smokey flavor but not hot. Chili is such an easy dish and really nice for this time of year. You can eat it with cornbread or even with polenta at the bottom of the bowl. Leftovers are great on chili dogs or a potato buffet.

INGREDIENTS:
2 c Dried Kidney Beans
3 c Cooked Ground Beef
2 c Tomato Sauce
2 cans Diced Tomatoes
2 c Water
1 c Chopped Onion
2 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Cumin
1 1/2 tsp Perfect Pinch Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper spice
1/2 tsp Salt

Sort through the dried beans to look for pebbles. I have found a stone more than once so it is a very important step every time you use dried beans.

I think there is no reason to take advantage of flavors that have already been built up in your diced tomatoes. The 2 that I like to use are fire roasted tomatoes or a garlic and oregano variety.

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This is what to look for in the spice aisle. If you cannot find it you may use 1/2 of a bell pepper finely diced.

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Place all ingredients except the salt in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

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Adding salt now could prevent the beans from becoming sauce. Place the temperature on high and cook for 8 hours.

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Add the salt about 30 minutes before you serve with cheese or sour cream.

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Happy cooking!

Tostadas with Slaw

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Mexican food is just so good, but often with all the toppings it can become quite high in calories and cost. Now I have always been careful with the grocery budget but 6 months of The Man being unemployed was making it really REALLY hard. Thank goodness for the well stocked freezer and pantry and the new job. Many meals can be made cheaply if you take advantage of sales and get a little creative. Instead of using the typical iceberg lettuce which has almost no nutritional value, I made a Mexican slaw that added zing and nutrition.

INGREDIENTS:
Corn Tortillas
Cooking Oil
Refried Beans
Rice
Shredded Cheese
3 c Cabbage
1/2 c Carrots
3 Tb Apple Cider Vinegar
Dash Frank’s Hot Sauce
Salt
Pepper
1 Tomato

Total cost was $4.54 for 5 people

I made my beans from scratch in the slow cooker so they were ready by the time I was home from work. You can certainly used canned but making them yourself is very easy and much cheaper. I put the rice into the rice cooker and set it for 1 hour.

Shred the cabbage to the desired size. For a slaw I prefer mine really small. For every cup of cabbage I added 1/4 of shredded carrot. Once your vegetables are mixed to together add the apple cider vinegar and season to taste with the salt, pepper and hot sauce. I personally would add more but my family whines when I make it too spicy so a dash is about all it takes. Just enough to add the flavor and a little heat. Set to the side and begin cooking the tortillas.

Mexican Slaw

In a small skillet, heat the cooking oil on medium-high heat. You want enough o have 1/4 inch to fry the tortillas in. Turn the oven onto warm with a pan or plate to place the tortillas on. Once the oil is hot (you can tell as it gets very shiny) place the tortillas in until lightly brown and flip. It takes about minute to finish a tortilla so don’t leave the stove while doing this. Turn the oven to warm and keep the fried tortillas warm on a pan till ready to serve.

TO make a tostada, smear on the beans, sprinkle on some rice and cheese and top with the slaw. The A few pieces of tomato to top it all off.

Chicken Fricassee and Dumplings

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A fricassee is a stewed dish (typically chicken) that produces a sauce. This version makes a good Sunday recipe as it has all the fixins. Chicken, gravy and dumplings are in one pot with mashed potatoes on the side. It can easily be cut in half if this is too much for your family.

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 c Oil
6 pieces Skinless Chicken
1/2 c Flour
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Paprika
3/4 c diced Onion
1 Tbs Dried Rosemary
2+ c hot Water

GRAVY
6 Tb Butter
6 Tb Flour
3+ c Milk

DUMPLINGS
3 C Flour
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
6 Tb Shortening or Butter
1 1/2 c Milk

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Cook Time: 2 hours

Combine the flour, pepper salt and paprika in a small bowl. Wash the chicken pieces and pat them dry with a paper towel. Coat the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off excess flour. Set to the side.

Heat the 1/4c oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides. You are not trying to cook the meat, just brown it for flavor. Remove the chicken and set to the side.

In the pan, add the diced onions and saute till translucent. Season the onions with a dash of salt and pepper. Crush the rosemary as you add it to the pan and stir for 1 minute. Crushing the herb ensures you won’t get a huge piece in a single bite and it also serves to release the oils and that is where all the flavor is.

When using dried rosemary, always be on the lookout for small stems. As the herb is stripped by a machine, sometimes pieces can accidentally end up in the jar.

Push the onions to the side of the pan and return the chicken pieces. Pour the 2 cups of HOT water into the frying pan. Bring the liquid up to a simmer and reduce the temperature. Keep it on a low simmer until the chicken is fork tender. Regularly check the water level and add more as needed.

Here I used chicken breasts, but you can also use chicken pieces with the bone in. It will take more time to cook and the skin MUST be removed. If I have legs in the same pan as a bone in breast, I cut the breast in half so it will cook at the same rate as the remaining pieces. The breast pieces you see here cooked in 45 minutes. A full fryer chicken will take 2 hours.

Remove the chicken to a plate and cover. Pour the liquid into a measuring container (no more than 3 cups worth) and set to the side for a moment.

GRAVY
Over low heat, melt the butter in the skillet and add the flour. Whisk constantly until the roux is smooth and bubbly. You are not going for a browned roux here, we are making a white gravy. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Pour enough milk to the reserved liquid to measure 6 cups. Pour into the skillet and begin whisking as you return it to the heat. Allow it to boil for 1 minute and then return the chicken to the pan. Drop in dumplings and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, covered for another 20.

After being cooked uncovered.

After being cooked covered.

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Combine the dry ingredients and cut the shortening into the mixture. There will be a few larger chunks as seen below, but the majority will be very small.

Gently fold in the milk until completely combined.

This is still a tiny bit dry.

Sometimes you need to add a little more liquid, just do it a tiny bit at a time.

I only added 1 more TB of milk to reach this state.

Drop the dough into the pan by spoonfuls. You should get 8 to 10 dumplings. The main thing is to make sure they are all pretty much the same size.

The chicken with gravy.

Served with mashed potatoes.

I know it sounds complicated but because it is done in a series of steps that are spread out, anyone can make this on a Sunday afternoon. Happy cooking and let me know if you have any questions!!!

Grilled, BBQ Chicken Pizza

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I have made lots of pizzas in the past and can do a mean deep dish, but it is an old high school friend who posts pictures of her bbqing pizza on the grill that inspired me to finally try it. Ooooooh it is so good! Once you get a rhythm down, it is a pretty simple process.


INGREDIENTS:
1 lb boneless Chicken Breasts
1 1/2 c BBQ Sauce
2 c shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 c cornmeal
2 Tbs oil

PIZZA DOUGH:
3 1/2 c Flour
2 Tb Oil + 1 Tbs
3 tsp Salt
1 1/4 c Water
2 1/2 tsp Yeast
2 tsp Sugar

RUB:
1 Tbs Paprika
1/2 Tbs Cumin
1/2 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt

TOOLS: Pastry brush, tongs or a large metal spatula

TIME: prep 10 minutes, rising dough 1 hour, grilling 5 minutes each pizza

TIPS: The dough really needs to be as thin as you can get it. Whether you use your hands or a rolling-pin to stretch it out, the thinner the dough the better you will like the crust. If you prefer, fresh dough can be purchased at many grocery stores as well as your favorite pizzeria.

Heat half of the grill, and only half.

Forget trying to oil the grates, it takes too long and does not work as well as rubbing oil on the pizza dough. Before you place the dough on the grill, rub 1 side with oil. Brush the top side quickly as soon as you lay it on the grates. Or, if you don’t mind your hands getting a little oily, I rub oil on both sides before I place the dough on the grill.

Tongs work, but a large spatula works even better when sliding the pizza around.

You have to work quickly so be sure to read through the directions before starting the pizzas on the grill.

To begin the pizza dough, combine the water with yeast and sugar and set to the side to bloom. The yeast will develop a yeasty smell and a nice foam on top. If this is not happening either your water was too hot and killed the yeast, of the yeast is old and will not work. it should only take 3 to 4 minutes to fully proof. The sugar is added now as it feeds the yeast.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, salt and 2 Tbs oil in a bowl. Add the yeast and mix thoroughly. You certainly can use a dough hook on your mixer for this, but it only takes a couple of minutes by hand. The dough should be kneaded for 2 minutes, until it becomes a smooth ball. If using a mixer, the ball will be on the hook and the sides of the bowl will be clean.

Pour the remaining 1 Tbs of oil in the bowl and roll the dough around in it. Leave the dough ball in the bowl, seam side down, cover and place in a warm place. I usually turn my oven onto warm and place dough I want to rise on top of the stove. Leave the pizza dough alone until it has doubled in size. This will take 45 minutes to an hour.

Once it has double remove the dough and place on the counter that has been sprinkled with flour. The flour is important and it prevents the dough from sticking. Now you need to decide the size of pizzas that you want. I can get 8 out of this batch, if you want a larger pizzas you will get fewer. Cut the dough into the appropriate number of portions. Make sure they are all a smooth ball. If not, knead them enough to form small balls and set to the side and allow to rest.

While the dough is rising, prepare the rub for the chicken. Pour it into a plastic bag and thoroughly coat the meat with it. Allow it to set on the counter until you are ready to grill it, no more than 30 minutes. If the meat is thicker on one side, butterfly it so the breasts will cook evenly on the grill. You can also cut them into smaller portions to speed up cooking time.

You want your coals to be hot enough that when your hand is 3 inches from the grill you can only hold it there 3 to 4 seconds. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear. Cover and set to the side, do not cut into them right away or you will lose all the juices. Wait 5 minutes and then you can chop or shred them.

Now comes the fun part, rolling out the dough. Roll or press it until it is quite thin. To get it to the grill you will need to carry it on something and it will want to stick. Sprinkle a little cornmeal on the platter, cutting board or baking sheet and the dough will slide right off. Add more cornmeal as needed when moving the dough around. Oil the dough as the slightest bit sticking will rip the whole pizza.

Lay the rolled out dough onto the grill. Yes it will look as if it will drop through, but it won’t. You must stay where you are, it only takes 2 minutes to be a golden brown and will progress to burnt very quickly. Check it every 30 seconds to monitor the progress. Once ti is cooked how you want it, flip it over and move to the side of the grill that is not heated.

Brush a couple of tablespoons of the bbq sauce on the side that has already toasted. It is nice to heat the sauce in the microwave for a few seconds before using. You will know when you have the amount you want on the pizza. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese on top, followed by the shredded chicken. Drag the pizza back to the hot side of the grill and close the lid.

Again, the bottom will toast quickly so keep an eye on it. If by the time the bottom is ready, the cheese has not melted, drag the pizza back to the cool side of the grill and cover for 2 minutes. The heat will melt the cheese but keep the crust from scorching over direct heat.

If you want a little more sauce, toss the chicken with it in a bowl before placing on the pizza crust.

While this time I did a very simple version, you can add vegetables according to what you like on it. Because the pizzas do cook so quickly, you should saute all vegetables before making your pizza. Or, you can grill the onions and peppers when you cook the chicken. So what do you like on your pizza?

Basil Chicken with Pasta

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This is a recipe I use when I take meals to someone. It is very simple to double up and I can easily transport it in a foil pan. As it requires few ingredients, most of the time I have everything on hand. The broth lightens up the dish while the cream makes it taste really rich.

6 boneless Chicken Breast or Thighs
1 Tb Butter
1 Tb Oil
1 c chopped Sweet Onions
1 Tb minced Garlic
1 1/2 c Chicken Broth
1 c Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp salt (more as needed)
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 Tb Dried Basil or 1/2 c Fresh Basil
2 Tb Dried Parsley
2 c diced Tomatoes
10 oz cooked Pasta

Before you start the chicken, start the water to boil for the pasta. The chicken will be done in 30 minutes, so time your pasta to be done accordingly.

Heat butter and oil in a pan over medium heat. Brown the chicken on both sides and set to the side on a plate, covered. In the remaining oil, saute the chopped onions and garlic. The goal is to get the onions translucent not a dark brown.

Pour in the broth, cream and stir in the salt and pepper. If using dried basil and parsley, add them now. Return the chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Thinner pieces of meat may take as few as 10 minutes to be fully cooked. To check, make sure the juices are running clear from the thickest breast in the pan.

Simmering

Remove the chicken to a clean plate and cover. Turn the heat up on the sauce and bring it to a slow boil to thicken and reduce the sauce. This will take up to 5 minutes, be sure to keep stirring. When trying to thicken a sauce, always remove the lid so the steam can evaporate. If you are worried about splatters, a splatter screen is a great tool. Taste the sauce after it has thickened to see if it needs more salt. As the sauce thickens, the salt will become more noticeable so never do it before a sauce is thickened.

Firm tomatoes that have been diced, no juice.

If using fresh herbs, add them now, along with the tomatoes. Stir the sauce and place the chicken back into the pan. Serve immediately over cooked pasta.

Serve with your favorite pasta

You may have noticed that I only use 10 oz of pasta in many of my dishes. If you read the labels you will see that usually a full serving is only 2 ounces. I know there are 6 servings of chicken and only 5 of pasta, but somehow it always seems to work for my family.

Open wide and say YUM!

Let me know how it goes. Happy cooking!