Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grilled Fish Tacos

The Spouse said that these were the best version I've made so far.

Too bad I didn't really measure a damn thing. ::sigh::

Grilled Fish Tacos

1 lb tilapia fillets
2 limes
cumin, oregano, chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper
1 jalapeno
2 small onions (I used baby onions from our garden. slightly more sweet than normal)
1 medium green pepper

Add tilapia fillets to a plastic bag. Juice the two limes into the bag, adding both the juice and the limes. Add spices to taste. Dice jalapeno and 1 onion and add to bag. Seal bag, removing air as best you can. Place in fridge and let marinade for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat grill. De-seed and slice pepper into quarters. Slice onion into rounds. Remove tilapia from marinade. Add peppers, onions and tilapia to grill pan. Grill briefly until fish flakes easily (about 5 minutes) - remove fish from heat but keep warm. Continue cooking veggies until done (about another 5 minutes).

Shred tilapia into bite-sized pieces. Slice peppers into strips, cut onion rounds in half. Serve with various other garnishes (salsa, cheese, cilantro, etc.).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Best Grilled Chicken

The rub for this smells AMAZING when you mix it together.

This can be served either plain or diced up on a salad or as a sandwich.

Best Grilled Chicken

3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mix rub ingredients together. Coat both sides of the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours.

Heat grill to medium-high. Add chicken breasts. Grill until done, about 5 minutes each side.

Pane Rustica

I think it's been about 3 months since we bought a loaf of bread. Instead I've been baking it all myself.

This recipe is just the most basic version of bread there could be - yeast, water, sugar, salt, flour. If you've ever been afraid of tackling yeast bread, it can't get more simple than this.

Pane Rustica

1 tbsp dry active yeast
2 1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp salt
5-6 cups flour plus extra for kneading

Combine yeast and water in a bowl, stir until dissolved. Add salt and sugar, stir to combine. Let rest 5 minutes.

Stir vigorously while adding in flour until the dough starts to pull away from the wall of the bowl. Turn flour out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Lightly oil bowl and place dough in it, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Turn dough out and divide into 2 equal loaves. Reshape into desired shape (generally either round or oval). Lightly oil a baking sheet, dust with cornmeal if desired. Place loaves on sheet and into a cold oven. Bake at 400 until done and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

Quick note: You may use more flour than recommended. I add flour by touch to the bread. Some recipes I end up adding less than recommended, sometimes more. Use your judgment.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why befriend your local butcher

The Spouse and I are lucky to live less than a mile from a really fantastic butcher. We shop there all the time. Their quality of meat is ten times better than anything at the grocery store. And they're less expensive to boot.

Yesterday I was running late to pick up meat for a party we're having tomorrow. They close at 6pm and I think I sprinted in the door at 5:50. Behind the counter was my usual guy - 9 times out of 10, he's the one who helps me.

So, promising to get out of their hair as soon as I could, I started rattling off the things I needed - 4lb boneless chuck roast, 3 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, a bone for the dog, and then I had a coupon for "Spend $30 get 1lb brats free".

The boneless chuck rang up at $8.89 (so, $2.23/lb). The chicken breasts at about the same (so about $3/lb). Total cost, including Lucky's bone, was $28.84. I start glancing around to find something else we could need to go over the $30 mark when he said "Don't worry about it. You're in here all the time." and packaged up my pound of brats.

So I basically got 8 lbs of meat, plus a bone, for $29. I.Love.Our.Butcher.

Mexican Chicken Stew

I'm actually really not sure what to call this. It was definitely a "pantry dinner" idea - meaning "Well, I've got chicken. What do I have in can form that would go with it?"

Tasty! And spicy! And tasty!

Mexican Chicken Stew

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
chicken broth
1 can mexican-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can diced green chiles, undrained
1 can sliced black olives, drained
~1 cup cooked leftover rice
salt and pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tbsp olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan, brown each side for about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Deglaze pan with chicken broth. Add in tomatoes, beans, chiles, olives and broth to bring mixture to desired consistancy. Bring to a boil. Add chicken back to pan, reduce heat. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

With 5 minutes left, add in the cooked rice. Heat thru. Spoon stew into bowl. Gently shred or chop chicken. Place one breast on top of each bowl of stew. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Five-Spice White-Chocolate Scones

I could have sworn I'd put this recipe in my blog ages ago. But when I went to look for it on Sunday, I realized I hadn't. Good thing I remembered it (more or less).

I'm sure people may have noticed by now but I don't do a whole lot of baking. For a few reasons.

A) The Spouse and I don't eat a lot of junk food. And, in our opinion, muffins, brownies, cookies, etc. fall into that category. So the idea of baking cookies really just doesn't occur to us since we don't eat them.

B) I hate fruit*. So blueberry muffins or cherry tarts will never appear here. Ever. ::shudder::

But every once in a while I like making a nice breakfast. And my scones are an easy default. There's something to be said for sitting on the porch, sipping coffee, listening to jazz, reading the paper and nibbling on a scone hot from the oven.

So, this is my basic scone recipe with a few twists.

Five-Spice White-Chocolate Scones

2 cups all purpose unbleached organic flour
1/4 cup Splenda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tsp Five-Spice Powder
4 tbsp Smart Balance, cold and cut into pieces
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup buttermilk substitute
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat oven temperature to 400ยบ F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and five-spice powder. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture until the mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the white chocolate chips and walnuts. In a small measuring cup combine the buttermilk with the maple syrup and then add to the flour mixture, stirring just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 3 pie-shaped wedges. You will have 6 scones altogether. Place the scones on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 16 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

* The exception to the fruit-hating rule are lemons and limes. That's it.

Grilled Mustard Pork Chops

Simple and oh-so-tasty. I served this with the Green Beans with Pesto Vinaigrette.

Grilled Mustard Pork Chops

3 thick-cut bone-in pork chops
grill seasoning (such as the Spice House Back of the Yards Butcher's Rub)
brown or dijon mustard

Pre-heat grill.

Lightly sprinkle pork chops with seasoning on both sides. On one side, spread with a light coat of mustard. Place on grill, mustard side up. Grill until done, about 30 minutes (15 minutes each side).

Green Beans with Pesto Vinaigrette

So, having made the pesto sauce for a pizza, we had some sitting leftover in the fridge. On Friday I went out to our garden and harvested a bunch of beans. While cooking dinner on Sunday, I thought that it would be relatively simple to take the leftover pesto, add some white-wine vinegar and turn it into a vinaigrette to toss the beans in.

Green Beans with Pesto Vinaigrette

1 lb green beans
2 tbsp leftover pesto
white-wine vinegar

Blanch the green beans in water for 2-3 minutes.

While beans are in the water, whisk together the pesto and vinegar until you've reached your desired consistency. Add blanched beans to pesto, toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Homegrown Pesto

The Spouse and I have a huge garden this year and we've been harvesting veggies and herbs from it for a while now. The pesto I made - originally for a pizza sauce - was made from home-grown basil. Delish!

4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 cups packed basil leaves (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup warm water
4 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil

Place garlic, basil and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in processor; process 10 seconds. Combine water and oil in a measuring cup. With processor on, slowly pour oil mixture through food chute, processing just until blended. You may have extra left over, depending on the consistancy you want.