12/29/10

Indian Lemon Chicken a la Joe


Indian Lemon Chicken a la Joe

About a year ago, I tasted some delicious chicken my friend Joe had brought to the office for a luncheon. It was really, really good and so I naturally asked him how he made it.

He kind of rattled off the ingredients for a marinade, estimating the amounts he used, and as soon as I got a chance I jotted it down on a piece of paper.

I have carried that very piece of paper around for an entire year and finally just made it. It's soooo good! (Why in the world did I wait so long?!) I made a couple of edits, like adding crushed red pepper, but aside from that this is the recipe Joe shared with me (or at least it's the one I wrote down).


Joe didn't have a name for his recipe so I named it based on my interpretation. As much as I'd like to name dishes really clever and cute things, I generally try to stick to the major descriptors so that, at a glance, you have an idea of what you're getting.


A good descriptive name for this dish would have been Joe's Really Amazing Lemon Chicken with a Hint of Indian Spice but I figured that was too long, so I went with Indian Lemon Chicken a la Joe ;-)

Indian Lemon Chicken a la Joe

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:
2 pounds chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tablespoon canola oil for frying
fresh cilantro for garnish

Marinade:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons yogurt (I used Fage Greek yogurt)
juice of one lemon
3-4 large cloves garlic, rough chopped (less if you don't LOVE garlic)
1 medium tomato


Place all of the marinade ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until liquified and well mixed.

Pour the marinade into a large zip top plastic bag, add chicken, seal, and turn to coat. Place bag in refrigerator to marinade several hours or overnight.

After chicken has marinated, heat non-stick skillet to medium - medium-high and add 1 Tablespoon canola oil. Next remove chicken from marinade and place in skillet. Discard marinade.

Cook chicken for approximately 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through and no longer pink inside.

left: chicken when first added to the pan (note: I added a little extra crushed red pepper because I like heat)
right: after cooking a few minutes, there may be some amount of watery liquid but it will cook away
left: liquid is starting to cook away
right: chicken is done

Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Indian Lemon Chicken a la Joe


12/27/10

Beer Chili Spaghetti

Beer Chili Spaghetti

I was very excited when Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! invited me to guest post on his blog. I'm a fan of Laz's creative and inspiring dishes and admire him for his mission to eat sustainably, organically, and seasonally.

My recipe for Beer Chili Spaghetti is a family favorite for its rich, meaty, chili-inspired sauce and hearty whole wheat noodles. Topped with extra-sharp cheddar cheese and chopped red onions, it's a nice way to warm up on a cold winter day.


Beer Chili Spaghetti

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
1 16-ounce package whole wheat spaghetti
2 pounds lean ground beef (I use natural grass fed beef)
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoons paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper (a little less if you like no heat)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano (the kind that is finely ground like a powder)
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup chili powder
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 12-ounce beer (I used a dark regional beer from Shiner, Texas but your favorite beer works just as well)
Garnish:
diced red onion
shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
chopped fresh parsley if desired
In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil and then brown the ground beef breaking it up and crumbling as you go. If you’re not using lean ground beef, skip adding the olive oil. While the beef is browning, cook the spaghetti noodles in heavily salted water and according to package directions.


Next add the rest of the ingredients. The beer will fizz for a few seconds and then reside:


Stir well, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.


Meanwhile drain the spaghetti and toss with a small amount of olive oil to keep moist.

When ready to serve, top spaghetti with meat sauce, then cheddar cheese and red onion.

Beer Chili Spaghetti

For the holidays, I used Shiner's special edition Cheer Beer but you can use any beer you like.

Shiner's Cheer Beer



I hope you'll go pay Lazaro Cooks! a visit and check out all the great stuff he has going on over there.


New Years Day Blackeyed Peas

New Years Day Blackeyed Peas

Wanna get lucky? Eating blackeyed peas on New Years Day is definitely a tradition in this household. Besides being incredibly delicious, we subscribe to the notion that they bring you good luck throughout the year when eaten on New Years Day :-)

I like to make them in my slow cooker because it's just so easy to do. Throw all the ingredients in, set it, and forget it until it's ready later that day. Plus, once it's ready you can set your slow cooker to the 'warm' setting and it's "serve yourself" the rest of the day and eve.

New Years Day Blackeyed Peas

Serves 8 (serving size 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:
2 11-ounce containers fresh blackeyed peas (I used Melissa's)
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (remove some or all seeds and membrane depending on desired heat)
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces salt pork (1/2 block) (may sub bacon, but may need to add salt to taste)
6 cups chicken stock
fresh cracked pepper to taste
Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
chopped fresh green onion for garnish

Even Melissa's thinks they're good luck!
block of salt pork
Seeding and Dicing the Jalapeno
Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and don't touch your eyes after handling the inside of the pepper.

Place all ingredients in slow cooker set to 'low', cover and leave for 6-8 hours or until blackeyed peas are tender.


Turn slow cooker to 'warm' so you and your guests can enjoy when desired.


Excellent topped with green onions and lots of Tabasco sauce with a large, soft slice of french bread to soak up the broth.

These are so good! We made them on Christmas Eve and finished every last one.
We will make them again for New Years Day.

12/26/10

Brie with Fig and Almond {no cook recipe}

Brie with Fig and Almond

Looking for an EASY appetizer? This is totally it!

On Christmas Eve day I was out doing some last minute shopping and dropped into Whole Foods to pick up a few things. I was admiring all of the international gourmet cheeses when I saw the demo station for this. I wasn't even hungry but for whatever reason, I thought, "What the heck, I'll have a bite anyway". Wow! It was literally so good that I immediately picked up all the items and decided right then and there that it was going on my Christmas Day menu. (Am I an advertiser's dream, or what??)

The sweet fig spread with the creamy French Brie on top of the salty "everything" crackers was to die for. Even my sometimes finicky daughters thought this was delicious.

The combo of ingredients makes this dish, but this fig
spread was heavenly - not too sweet, not too figgy -
just perfect!

Here are the ingredients (all from Whole Foods):

small wheel of French Brie, Mediterranean fig spread,
chopped Marcona almonds, Everything crackers

Simply unwrap the Brie, place on a plate and cover with the fig spread, then sprinkle the chopped almonds on top. Surround with crackers, broken into bite size pieces and serve with a cheese knife for spreading. Best when the Brie has come to room temperature.

Brie with Fig and Almond


smash and spread on a cracker - so delicious!

12/18/10

Slow Cooker Carnitas (Shredded Pork)

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Cooking carnitas in the crock pot or slow cooker has got to be the easiest way ever. This method would be perfect over the holidays, especially if you have a house full of guests.

Since you're making them in a slow cooker, it's "set it and forget it" and you can literally leave the finished carnitas warming in the slow cooker all day and evening allowing your guests to eat at will and you won't have to lift a finger. Oh, and these make excellent breakfast tacos, too!

Plan to coat your pork roast in the dry rub the day before you plan to cook, and then allow at least 10-11 hours of cooking time on the low setting of your slow cooker.


So let's say you wanted to have these ready for Christmas Eve day, here's a sample timeline:

  • Evening of Dec. 22nd - coat roast in dry rub
  • Evening of Dec. 23rd - place roast in slow cooker
  • Morning of Dec. 24th - shred pork, add potatoes and green chiles and cook another hour or so, turn slow cooker to 'warm setting' and leave all day and evening for everyone to eat when desired

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Serves 10 (serving size 2 tacos)

Dry Rub:
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper

Ingredients:
4-5 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 cup chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, including juices
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 4-ounce can whole green chiles
2 pounds small white potatoes
20 small tortillas

Garnish:
chopped fresh cilantro
diced red onion
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream

Mix all dry rub ingredients together then rub on all sides of the pork roast. Wrap roast in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.

After roast has been refrigerated in dry rub for recommended time, place chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and garlic in slow cooker and then place roast on top. Place cover on slow cooker and turn setting to 'low'. Allow to cook for about 10 hours or overnight.

Carefully remove excess fat from exterior of roast and discard.  Using two forks, shred the roast and stir.

Quarter potatoes and add. I don't recommend using Yukon Golds for this dish as they won't hold up. These small white potatoes were perfect.


Hand shred the green chiles and add, then stir.


Cover and allow to continue to cook on low setting for approximately an hour or so until potatoes are tender. Taste and salt if needed. Turn to 'warm setting' and leave covered for guests to eat when desired. Be sure to have garnish items ready in the refrigerator for guests to access easily.

the potatoes cooked in the broth are absolutely delicious
on the taco or by themselves

Slow Cooker Carnitas



To make breakfast tacos, just add scrambled eggs.

12/15/10

Easy Chocolate Truffles


Easy Chocolate Truffles

Okay these truffles are unbelievable! I've never made truffles before in my life, nor did I think I would be able to make them, much less make them so effortlessly.

Well let me tell, you I was wrong! Thanks to Wendy at The Weekend Gourmet, I am a truffle-making fool. This recipe is so versatile. Wendy says she makes them all through the year with different variations. I first saw them when she made them with peppermint for Merry Mondays. I took her recipe and instead of peppermint, I added Reese's Peanut Butter Chips and Heath Bar Crunch to the already chocolatey filling. The result was pure rich and creamy Heaven.

I'm fairly certain you could hardly go wrong modifying it to suit your own taste.  Check out Wendy's recipe HERE and let me know what you think!


12/12/10

Holiday Menu Item: Peppermint Chocolate Ganache Mini Cupcake Bites

Peppermint Chocolate Ganache Mini Cupcake Bites

It's Merry Mondays again! And the theme for week two in this four-week series is Mint. I was thinking of all sorts of things to make, like a nice mint chutney for rack of lamb, or a lovely pomegranate mojito, but in the end my sweet tooth won out and I went with Peppermint Chocolate Ganache Mini Cupcake Bites. They're bite-sized, chocolatey and minty and they're perfect for a holiday party.

Merry Mondays is a festive blog event that is being hosted by Claire at Claire Cooks and Taylor at Greens and Chocolate. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun! Last week the theme ingredient was Cranberries and there were lots of great recipes submitted. 


Quite awhile ago, I made Ina Garten's Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes and put edible flowers on top:


When I was thinking about this week's Merry Mondays, it occurred to me that crushed peppermint would be an excellent accompaniment to these dense chocolate cupcakes and making them in a miniature size would make them easy finger food for a holiday party. Turns out I actually like them better in this bite-sized format. The batter is not all that sweet which goes wonderfully with the rich chocolate ganache but I like my ratio of cake to frosting to be a little more equal, especially in this case.

Peppermint Chocolate Ganache Mini Cupcake Bites
(inspired by Ina Garten)

Makes 60 cupcake bites

Oven 350 degrees F

Ingredients:
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs, room temperature
11 fluid ounces chocolate syrup (I used Hershey's)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Ganache:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/4 cup heavy cream

Topping:
4-5 candy canes, crushed (I used Hershey's Chocolate Mint Candy Canes)

Line mini cupcake pans with mini paper liners and set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and sugar.


Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between. Then mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla.




Add in the flour and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat or the cupcake bites will be tough.


Scoop the batter into the mini muffin cups filling to almost full. Using a 1 Tablespoon cookie scoop worked well for me.


1 Tablespoon Cookie Scoop

Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the center of the cupcake bites are just set. Do not overbake.

Remove from oven and let the cupcake bites completely cool.

Meanwhile make the ganache. Using a double boiler, or a heat proof glass bowl fitted over a saucepan of simmering water (this is the method I use), place the chocolate, coffee and cream in the bowl.





Cook gently over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted and blended together.




Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache and then sprinkle crushed peppermint on top.


May be made a day in advance. Do not refrigerate.




Happy Merry Mondays!



12/11/10

Eat Pray Love Director's Cut Blu-ray and DVD Release Luncheon

photo courtesy of Sony Home Entertainment

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with Susan Spungen - author, recipe developer and food stylist extraordinaire; Dede Gardner - president of Plan B Entertainment and producer of such amazing hits as The Time Traveler's Wife and Eat Pray Love; and a very talented group of LA area bloggers - like Erika from In Erika's Kitchen, Greg at Sippity Sup, Cristina from Teenie Cakes, Sibylla from Divaluscious, Louise from Art of Cuisine, Rachael from La Fuji Mama, Joseline from Daydreamer Desserts, Marla from Family Fresh Cooking, Giselle from Small Pleasures Catering, and Deb from Debs Kitchen.


Joseline w/Daydreamer Desserts, Marla w/Family Fresh Cooking, Rachael w/La Fuji Mama, Susan Spungen and me


Dede Gardner






classic blogger pose modeled by Cristina w/Teenie Cakes


the guests of honor - Dede Gardner and Susan Spungen


Sony Home Entertainment hosted the event at Vicenti Ristorante in Brentwood, CA and every detail, from the decor to the dessert, was extremely well done. 











this is where the magic happens




This festive table decor by Maggie Jensen Event Florals was in another room in the restaurant - very pretty.


I don't get to the movies very often, so I'm one of the few who had not seen Eat Pray Love until a couple of weeks ago when I rented it to watch during a cross-country flight. It was such a wonderful movie - the kind that leaves you feeling all warm and good inside. I remember thinking, "I should buy this movie" and then when I hopped on my return flight home, I discovered it was the in-flight movie and I got to watch it again.


Imagine my surprise when I returned home and received an invitation to attend an intimate luncheon with this very movie's producer and food stylist - I could not have been more thrilled! Both are fascinating and accomplished women in their own right and together they  produced box office gold with Elizabeth Gilbert's heartwarming quest to rediscover her true self. Her soul-searching takes her through eating in Italy, praying in India and finding love in Bali. 


The food scenes in this movie are just fantastic. Btw, Susan was also the food stylist on It's Complicated and Julie and Julia. She's currently working on her second book which will include tips for hosting parties and other gatherings, no doubt leveraging her talents from her days as the founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living. Her first book is an award-winning cookbook called Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook and is available through Amazon.com and other major retailers.


I hope you get a chance to watch the movie if you haven't already. The Director's Cut Blu-ray edition and DVD are both now widely available.


(PS - Javier Bardem and James Franco are hhhhooooootttt in this movie!)