Sunday, June 30, 2013

Souvlaki Summer Skewers

Everyone's got a bucket list. Mine includes heading to Greece and the Mediterranean on a sailboat for a few weeks--in part, because this is my favorite cuisine--but also, because I love to travel and trying new things.  Take advantage of any courses that let you travel the globe and experience culture first hand:  Art History, Architecture, Language, Communications, Teaching English--find something, but do it!

In the meantime, when studies are weighing down on you, nothing is easier than chicken souvlaki with added tzatziki (this weekend's post), Orzo salad (April's post), and/or Lemon-Pine-Nut Rice (next week's post) to let you dream--throw Mamma Mia into the DVD player just for a little atmosphere.

This recipe from is from who consistently publishes simple, delicious, and real food!  C'mon you'll see!

Ceramic or Pyrex Dish 
Sharp knife
Real Grilll or grill pan

3-4 large boneless chicken breasts
6-8 Tablespoons fresh basil
2-4 Tablespoons fresh oregano
Kosher Salt 
Fresh pepper
8 cloves garlic, chopped
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 - 1 cup olive oil (depends on amount of chicken)
Splash red wine vinegar

1. Soak wooden skewers at least 30 minutes before using.

2. Wash hands.
3. Slice the chicken into 1/4" thick strips evenly

4. Combine all other ingredients into your Pyrex dish for the marinade.

5. Add the chicken strips and marinate for a minimum of 30' or up to several hours (I put these in the fridge while I went to work)

6. Get your grill ready on Medium to Moderate heat.
7. Use soaked skewers the thread chicken strips.

8. Place chicken strips onto your grill grate or grill pan. 
9. Rotate every 3-4 minutes until golden brown and seared. 

TIP 1:  When cooking, searing or grilling meat, leave it alone for the entire recommended time before lifting or checking it. 

Tip 2:  The meat will pull up easily if seared properly! Trust me on this!

Guys T-shirt

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Swiss Green Beans

Vegetables are a hard sell for any parent, but getting your kids to eat "their veggies" willingly--wow!  And then there are children like our youngest son who simply don't like anything healthy regardless of how it's cooked, baked, fried or covered in sauce.

Fortunately, my mom is a fantastic cook and gave me with this great recipe for green beans.  Don't get stuck on making veggies the same way every meal--roast 'em, sauté 'em, combine them, eat them raw--challenge yourself to find new flavors with the same vegetable.

As in a previous blog, "How Do I Make Those Carrots?", my "go-to" recipe is usually blanching the beans, adding a little butter, lemon juice, basil, salt & pepper; but, sometimes you gotta splurge!


5-qt saucepan with water + 1 tsp kosher salt

Mixing bowl with ice water
Mixing bowl for sauce preparation
Serving bowl

1-2 lbs green beans

6-8 Tbls of vegetable oil
5-7 Tbls white wine vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise, light or regular
1 Tbls sour cream or greek yoghurt
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

4-6 squirts Maggi Seasoning

1. Wash your hands.
2. Dice small onion.
3. Combine oil, vinegar, and mayo until a smooth.

4. Add diced onion, salt, and dijon mustard.  Stir until incorporated.

5. Add Maggi.  (This is the unami flavor of this recipe).  Do not omit! You know this is vital.

6. Mix it all into a beautiful, velvety sauce.

7. Now prep the beans.  Remove all ends.

8. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook until just done.  Avoid soggy, floppy beans. They should have some "crunch".  Approx 3-5 minutes.  Check consistency frequently.

9. Have an ice-water bath to halt cooking process when beans removed from boiling water.

10.  Drain beans from ice water bath.
11. Combine with the sauce and serve immediately.

12. Easy, super side dish...and just another way to enjoy summer produce!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Artichoke, Red Onion and Feta Tart

Earlier this week I published a quick and easy dessert recipe involving puff pastry.  Originally, I had planned to feature a savory and sweet option, but then realized it might be better to just focus on one.  Today, we will use the same steps but use savory ingredients combined with puff pastry to create a quick appetizer or late night alternative to pizza.

Baking sheet or jelly roll pan (baking sheet with edges)
Parchment paper
Small mixing bowl
Fork or whisk

4 ounces of crumbled feta
1-2 Tbls of half-and-half or cream

14 oz jar of marinated artichokes, drained
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Fresh herbs, ie basil, oregano, or majoram, chopped ( or dried )
Puff pastry, thawed & unfolded
1 Egg, slightly beaten with 1 tsp water

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
3. Un-Roll puff pastry onto baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Use a knife to score the puff pastry along the edges, leaving a 1/2-3/4 inch border.

5. Combine crumbled feta and cream into a coarse, spreadable mixture.  If you have a blender or magic bullet, you can use this instead.  Add liquid to get a spreadable consistency, but not runny!!

6. Scatter artichokes across the feta-mixture.
7. Add red onions & herbs (or dried spices).

8. Drizzle with a little olive oil & pepper.

9. Brush (or use your fingers / hand) edges with egg wash.
10. Bake @ 425F x 10-15 minutes until edges start browning, then decrease heat to 350F.
11. Bake another 20-25 minutes until crust golden brown.

Don't blink here because you might just miss getting a piece.
Feel free to experiment with mushrooms, leek, zucchini, squash, and other cheeses.  The puff pastry is really just a canvas for ideas.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Peach and Blueberry Tart

Stone fruit and berries are some of summer's best gifts to all of us: peaches, plums, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries.  I remember climbing trees and gorging myself on the very sweetest cherries and plums, and spending hot afternoons in my grandmother's backyard picking berries so I could add whipped cream for a quick dessert.  
Take advantage of their sweetness with this quick and tasty recipe on a budget: Peach-Blueberry or Blackberry Tart.  If you like a little variety, make half the tart apple and the other half peach--just mix it up--try your own combo.  You pretty much can't go wrong.  Add a can of Redi-Whip, and you are golden! 
Check it out!

Baking sheet or jelly roll pan (baking sheet with edges)
Parchment paper
Medium mixing bowl
Small mixing bowl
Fork or whisk
3-4 peaches or nectarines, crescent sliced 
Pint of fresh blueberries or blackberries

1/2 jar strawberry or apricot jam
1 Tbls orange juice or apple juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon 
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon (avoids fruit from oxidizing)

Puff pastry, thawed & unfolded
1 Egg, slightly beaten with 1 tsp water

Powdered sugar
Balsamic Glaze (optional since adds to cost. use only if you already have it in your pantry)

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
3. Un-Roll puff pastry onto baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Use a knife to score the puff pastry along the edges, leaving a 1/2-3/4 inch border.

5. Microwave jam with juice until slightly "soupy".  Spread a thin layer within the scored area of the puff pastry.

6. Slice fruits (and peel if necessary) into crescent shaped pieces.

7. Toss fruit with sugar, lemon, and cinnamon.

8. Layer fruit slices onto jam mixture to barely overlap each other from one end to the next.

9. Drizzle fruit with remaining warm jam mixture.  
10. Dot the fruit with butter.

11. Brush (or use your fingers / hand) edges with egg wash.

12. Bake @ 425F x 10-15 minutes until edges start browning, then decrease heat to 350F.
13. Bake another 20-25 minutes until crust golden brown.
14. Add Balsamic Glaze. Or Vanilla Ice Cream. Or Redi-whip.  Or all three.
15. You decide how far you're going to take it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dragon Bites

Happy Father's Day Everyone!!
Fire up the grills and relax, because we are letting another marinade do the work today, even though we are still wearing hoodies in the Midwest in mid-June, really?   Summer is coming, and this weekend's recipe is about heat and grilling--either for real or in a grill pan!  Plan ahead since the meat needs to marinate for at least 4 hours!

This marinade can be used for steak or chicken since steak is not a college student staple by any means, but on occasion, have everyone pitch in when you see a sale; or, have the house purchase a membership to Costco so that bulk meat, veggies, freezer goods, and staples can be bought at a reasonable rates.

Beware! This is marinade is meant to be hot, so if you are worried you'll render the meat inedible, or you just can't handle it, tone the spices down about 50 percent!  And whoever eats at the table whining!  Put a few of these bites into a pita pocket and add a few veggies--great meal and you are good to go!

Marinating Dish or Freezer Size Zip Lock Bags
Functional Stove and Grill or Saute pan
Available Grill-charcoal or gas
Bamboo Skewers, soaked in water

2-3 Sirloin (or Chicken Breasts), cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
4 tsp salt
4 tsp pepper
2-4 tsp cumin
2-6 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbls brown sugar
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Lime juice
2-3 Tbls honey

Dipping Sauce:
1 cup mayo
1/4 cup chipotle peppers (canned) or 1/4 tsp cayenne + 1/2 tsp curry
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp salt

1. Wash your hands.
2. Cut steak or chicken into 1" cubes approximately
3. Combine all ingredients from olive oil to honey in a small mixing bowl.

4. Pour marinade over meat and marinate for 4 hours at least

5. Make your dipping sauce by combining the other ingredients and adjust to taste.

6. If grilling, skewer up the kabobs with 5-6 cubes, and grill for approx 5 minutes on each side. (It depends on how well done you like your meat.)
7. If pan-grilling or searing, simply brown the meat in the skillet to your preferred done-ness level.

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