Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grilled Chicken "Piccata"

"Piccata" on the grill, with Brussels Sprouts and Garlic Mashed
We love Chicken Piccata;  the lemon and the capers just pop in your mouth.  Yum!  We had a wonderful Italian restaurant here in Clermont a few years ago.  The owner had to close down due to the economy.   He had the most wonderful Piccata.  His secret: “Not a lot of butter.”  That’s right.  Most restaurants overdue the butter.  So I came up with a recipe that “almost” matches the chef’s. 

But in the warm months here in Florida, I cook most of my meals out on the grill.  I ALSO came up with a grilled “bone-in” version that mirrors what the Piccata taste, yet gives you that summertime grilled flavor!

Still too cold to grill where you are?  Remember what I told you in the “Game Day” video; a broiler is an upside down grill.  Broil it!   Or if you are my brother-in-law, you will grill in minus 20 degree weather anyway!

Four every four pieces of chicken (suggest legs and thighs, skin-on) you will need for the following -


½ cup of Dry White Wine
¼ cup Olive Oil
Juice of ½ Lemon
½ Teaspoon Grill Seasoning for Chicken

 For the Sauce/Grilling:

Grill Seasoning for Chicken, to taste
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Capers
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup Dry White Wine, plus a splash
1/2 cup good quality Chicken Stock, divided
2 tablespoon Cold Butter
2 tbsp. fresh chopped Parsley

Also: Cooking Spray for the grill and Butter Flavored Cooking Spray.

To Grill the chicken: Sprinkle extra grill seasoning on chicken, to taste. Spray grill with cooking spray for the grill. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry.

Here is my trick for great grill marks without the chicken drying out. Place the marinated chicken directly on the grill. Grill about five minutes each side, until skin releases easily.
Spay tin foil pan with butter flavored cooking spray.  Add chicken to pan and add a dash of white wine to pan.  Turn off center burner and place plan on grill.  The cooking method is indirect heat.  

Consult grill manufacturer's guide for instructions on how to cook indirectly on your grill.

Cook chicken in tin foil pan for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  Turn chicken over  Cook another 15 minutes.  Grills vary, so you want to make sure that the chicken is done and the juices run clear.

To make the sauce:  

Add olive oil and capers to medium skillet.  “Fry” capers for about two minutes in oil.  Whisk in lemon juice and wine, pepper and salt.  Reduce mixture to half.
Remove skillet from heat.  Whisk in one tablespoon of cold butter at a time.  This will thicken up the sauce.   Pour sauce over chicken. 

Top with fresh parsley.

Tip:  Worried that there are no pan juices or "brown bits" on the bottom to make the sauce?  You can add a tablespoon of the pan juices from the cooked chicken to the sauce pan!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Best Beef Stroganoff

A Lighter Beef Stroganoff, made with Greek Yogurt

Don't let the list of ingredients in this dish fool you.  You will have this together in minutes.  It's my "go-to" dish when we get unexpected company.  It's rich tasting, without all the calories and fat!

The Best Beef Stroganoff

½ tablespoon Olive Oil
¼ tablespoon Butter
1 lb. sliced Tenderloin or Sirloin Steak
Sea Salt, to taste
Crushed black Peppercorn, to taste
¾ cup diced sweet Onion
½ cup bottled Minced Garlic
1 cup sliced white Mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
¼ cup dry White Wine
1 teaspoon Beef Bouillon
1 teaspoon Corn Starch
¼ cup cold water
1 teaspoon Spanish Paprika, plus more for sprinkling
½ cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Fresh chopped Parsley, optional

Add olive oil and butter to large nonstick skillet.  Sprinkle steak with salt and crushed peppercorns. 

Once butter is melted, sauté steak strips, about 2 ½ minutes each side, until browned. 

Remove steak to bowl and keep warm.

Add onion, garlic, mushrooms and thyme to pan.  Sauté about five minutes. 

Whisk together white wine, bouillon and corn starch until well blended.  Add to pan.  Cook one minute.  

Stir in cold water.  Add meat back to pan and cook for about four minutes.  Remove pan from heat.  Stir in yogurt and mustard.  

Plate over cooked, buttered whole wheat noodles.   Top with parsley and extra paprika (if using).

Tomorrow night... a very special post!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lobster Linguine with White Wine Clam Sauce

How many of you need a Valentine's Day do-over?  I'll bet it's more people than you would think!

Upon surveying friends and family, life got in the way this year for so many of you.  So I thought this super simple meal, using both fresh and store-bought ingredients, might just be the ticket for the upcoming weekend. 

I wanted to get this post up before Valentine’s Day, but my job and my life had to come first. 

Actually, this is one of the few years my hubby and I had the chance to spend Valentine’s Day together.  It’s only because we just happened to get sent out of town on business to South Florida and could meet in the middle. 

If you didn’t get to spend time with your sweetie on February 14th, why not make this meal THIS weekend for a quick and romantic Valentine’s Day Do-Over?

You will need:

¼ lb. Linguine
2 lbs steamed Lobster Tail, shelled and chopped

Steamed Lobster

Other Stuff:

One 10.5 ounce can White Clam Sauce
1/8 cup dry White Wine
1 tablespoon Butter
Fresh Parsley, chopped
Slice of Lemon, optional

Cook linguine per package directions (suggest under-cooking by one minute).

In a large skillet, add clam sauce, wine and butter.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about six minutes, until sauce thickens up.  Add cooked linguine and lobster to sauce. 

Lobster and White Wine Clam Sauce

Toss and plate. 
Top with fresh parsley. 
Serve with Lemon slice.

Suggested side dish:  Roasted Asparagus.

Makes 2 servings.

Posts Will Resume Tomorrow!

Sorry, my day job took me out of town on business for a few days.  I'll be back tomorrow with a fantastic and simple new dish!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shrimp Scampi in a Sun Dried Tomato [Light] Vermouth Cream Sauce

This is probably one of the easiest recipes I have ever posted, side dishes aside.  I know many of you work full time or have very full lives.  You want more quick and easy dishes that you can make any day of the week.  So in honor of that, I will spare you a bit of the flowery prose this evening and get right to the point. BTW - the pictures seem to be talking tonight so make sure you click on those like they ask you to do.  ;.)

Shrimp Scampi (sort of) in a Sun Dried Tomato [Light] Vermouth Cream

Note:  This dish serves two.  To modify it for four, simply double the recipe.  The "sort of" means that I am using shallot instead of the traditional garlic...   You get the essence of traditional scampi with this dish, but it's extra special.  Of course "scampi" can also mean "prawn," but I told you I'd spare you that -- for another time.

Here is what you will need to make this dish (picture of Olive Oil and water omitted).

1/4 lb Angel Hair Pasta
14 Jumbo Shrimp, peeled, deveined and tailed. 
Old Bay Seasoning, to taste
Dried Thyme, to taste
1 tablespoon Olive Oil (optional)
2 tablespoons Butter
1 Shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons Capers
1/4 cup X-tra Dry white Vermouth
1 Ladle Starchy Cooking Liquid (from the pasta)
1/4 cup Fat Free Half & Half
Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Click on me to see the full list of what you need to make this dish!

Cook pasta to directions on box.  Strain and reserve one ladle of the starchy cooking liquid.

Season shrimp with Old Bay and dried Thyme.

In a large skillet, add olive oil, if using, butter, shallot and capers.   Sauté for three minutes.

Add Shrimp.  Sauté for three minutes. 

Oh, click on me here, too!

Remove shrimp to bowl.

Add vermouth and starchy cooking water.  Reduce by one half. 

Reduce heat to low.   Add shrimp back in and cook for two more minutes, until shrimp are translucent. 

Remove pan from heat.  Stir in half and half, stirring consistently for one minute until mixture is warmed through.

Click and Enjoy!

Serve over pasta.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.  A quick side salad or steamed broccoli goes great with this dish!

I am taking tomorrow night off.  I'll be back this weekend for a Valentine's Day romantic meal idea, including a sweet ending!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Corsican Style Beef served with Winter Tomato, Broccoli and Parmesan, Topped with Fresh Mint

Food can take you anywhere you want to go! 

Even if you don't have a lot of money, you can still take a journey to places you've always wanted to see.  I've always wanted to go to Corsica and Sardinia. 

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia.  Corsica is part of France, but the people are very independent and the language that is spoken often sounds more like Italian rather than French.  This is because the island has a rich and colorful history.

The French often call the food of Corsica "unsophisticated."  Well, so am I!  Honestly, other than being married to a man whose family is French-Canadian,  I can't honestly say that I have first hand knowledge.  And I took Spanish in high school.  My travels have all been domestic (I've been all over the US-- extensively) and to the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Bahamas and Canada.  I am hoping to change that very soon. 

Oh, but Dan was in France in the Navy.  He said it was beautiful for what he remembers...  After all, he was able to acquire a bottle of Dom Pérignon for $25 bucks! 

Viva la France, and Viva the 1980's!

Clementines (one of Dan's favorite citrus fruits) grow abundantly in Corsica.  So do tomatoes.  Corsica is also known for high quality locally-raised beef and pork, and of course, lentils are eaten at many of the meals.  Such was my inspiration for tonight's dinner (journey).

Tonight I made a London Broil with a marinade that reminded me of the flavors of Corsica, and the journey began.  Now, contrary to popular belief, London Broil is NOT a cut of meat; it's a method of cooking.  In your local grocery store, you're likely to see a variety of cuts labeled "London Broil."  For me, this means Top Round.  This cut is not too fatty, and it tends to be rather tough unless marinated. 

Corsican Style Beef
5 oz Top Round Steak (about one inch thick)
2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 teaspoons dried Rosemary, crushed
2 cloves of Garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon Seasoned Salt, plus extra for sprinkling 
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
½ cup plus two tablespoons of good quality Olive Oil
5 Clementines, 4 sliced, reserve one whole (You can substitute Tangerine)
1/4 teaspoon Browning Sauce (Optional)
Fresh chopped Mint, for garnish (Optional)

Cut X shaped slits in the top and the bottom of the top round (for this size steak, I usually opt for about nine slits).  This will help the marinade to penetrate the meat.

Whisk together all ingredients - except for two tablespoons of Olive Oil and Clementines and browning sauce -  in a bowl.  Add steak to a plastic storage bag.  Add marinade.  Add two of the sliced Clementines, squeezing juice as you add the whole slices to the bag with the meat and the marinade. 

Note:  Reserve remaining Olive Oil and browning sauce. Refrigerate extra sliced Clementine and set the remaining whole (unsliced) Clementine aside.

Seal the bag and rotate to make sure that the marinade covers all of the meat.  Refrigerate overnight, up to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally to redistribute the marinade.   (The longer the better!). 

Corsican Style Steak in Marinade
 Preheat broiler. 

Remove steak from marinade and pat both sides dry. 

Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the bottom of your broiler pan. 

Place steak on top of pan. 

Add more seasoned salt and pepper, if desired. 

In a small bowl, mix juice of reserved (whole) Clemintine, two tablespoons of Olive Oil and browning Sauce.  This is your basting, browing sauce to use while broiling.  You can brush meat as often as you like.  This gives it a wonderful "brown" color as you won't be getting any grill marks using the broiler.

Broil 4 – 6 minutes each side for rare/medium rare, or 6 – 8 minutes each side for medium rare/medium. 

Note:  The ends will likely be cooked more than the middle-- That's why Dan and I can both agree on this one!. 

Adjust cooking time as needed.  

Get out the meat thermometer for this one.  Internal temp for a medium rare steak (which is recommended with this recipe) is 130 - 135° F.  

Let steak rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Garnish with remaining Clementine slices and mint.

Corsican Style Beef
Tomatoes aren't always great in the winter.  I still love to pick up these big, beefy tomaotes at our local Farmers Market on a Sunday afternoon for roasting. 

These are broiled along with broccoli.  But's it's the cheese and the olive oil that make them pop.  So simple and so fabulous!

Winter Tomato, Broccoli and Parmesan, Topped with Fresh Mint
1 large Beefsteak Tomato, quartered and then halved
4 - 6 nice size (semi- uniform) Broccoli Spears
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Tablespoon of grated Parmesan Cheese
Teaspoon fresh chopped Mint

Preheat Broiler.

Note:  This works great with the meat dish, because when you remove the meat to rest, you can put the veggies under the broiler!

Add tomato and broccoli to a roasting pan.  Drizzle with oil.  

Broil for five minutes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and broil for another three minutes.

Remove from oven.  Top with fresh mint.

I love the way the cheese just crisps up!  Yum!  I could just eat a bit bowl of this for dinner!

I like to serve this with a simple Lentil Salad.  Dan loves this salad!  Anytime I can get him to eat his veggies, it's a good day!

This Lentil Salad recipe isn't mine.  I ALWAYS give credit where credit is due! 

It's from Suzanne Somers "Get Skinny on Fabulous Food,"  1999.  Crown Publishers.  New York, NY.   p. 227. 

Not to take away from Suzanne.  I love her and I think she's done a lot for women over the years.  This is a pretty standard recipe and you can probably find different variations to your liking.  We like this one!   It's so simple, yet I could eat bowls and bowls of this!  So, so healthy!

Tomorrow night, I'm making --

Shrimp Scampi in a Sun Dried Tomato - Light Vermouth Cream Sauce! 

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Saucy Dishes for About Ten Bucks {Each}

One of the things I LOVE about being a food blogger is the opportunity to share recipes with all of you.  I really get a kick when people comment or email me to tell me that they tried one of my dishes.  I love hearing the stories that go along with the cooking experience.

One of my friends emailed me today to tell me that her niece, Jenna, who attends U of Alabama (Roll Tide) has been reading the blog.  She and her friends (Roll Tide) are looking for new ideas on what to make for dinner.  It gets pretty boring eating the same things over and over.  I was single when I went for my undergrad and my master’s degrees.  I can recall having to roll quarters to buy hot dogs. 

THIS could add up to a great dinner tonight!

Even if you’re not in college, money could be tight for you these days.  It is for us, too!  The check out gal at the local supermarket told me the other day that more people are shopping with cash again, and definitely using coupons and taking advantage of sales. 

Here are a couple of easy, saucy dishes to spice up your dinner!   Both of these meals can be prepared for about 10 bucks, provided you already have a few pantry staples, like dried herbs, and a few condiments on hand. 

We are going to start with one of my favorites.  What I like about this dish is that it makes a lot but it also is healthier than normal big pasta dishes.  The meatballs are lean and it's always better to make your own sauce!  You control what goes into the pot!

Dan's Easy Meatballs in Five-Hour Italian Gravy

Dan's Easy Meatballs in Five-Hour Italian Gravy
What I love about this meatball recipe is that the meatballs stay moist without adding more costly ingredients like Ricotta.  The secret is in the secret ingredient, and in Dan's searing method.   Searing the meatballs in olive oil before dropping them into the sauce keeps the juices in.  Cooking the meatballs in the sauce for five hours adds flavor to the sauce and to the meatball without having to over-season.

Note:  You can sub ground turkey for the beef and pork.

1 lb. Ground Chuck
1 lb. Ground Pork
1 Egg
Meatball Making In Action!
1/2 cup dry Italian Breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (Dan’s secret ingredient)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil (plus extra if needed)

Mix all ingredients well in a large mixing bowl, save Oil Oil.

Preheat large non-stick skillet and add Olive Oil.  Add meatballs to pan in batches.  Do not overcrowd pan.  Sear each meatball on all sides (30 - 40 seconds per side).  Remove from pan once seared. 

Add the meatballs to -

Five-Hour Italian Gravy

1 28 ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
1 28 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
16 oz good quality Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons Chili Sauce (Recommend Heinz)
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
2 heaping tablespoons Cream Cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Add all ingredients to large sauce pan, except for cheeses.  If adding meatballs, add immediately.  You will note that the sauce starts out very watery.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 4 ½ hours. 

Stir in cheeses.  Cook for ½ hour on low. 

Suggestion:  Serve over linguine.  I paired this meal with a simple microwave steamed broccoli topped with feta cheese and Texas Toast.

If you're looking for something a little bit lighter, try this:

Saucy County Style Ribs

Saucy Country-Style Ribs with Braised Green and Purple Cabbage (In Ginger Ale Butter) over Whole Wheat Noodles
Those who know me know that I LOVE meat sales!   Most women shop for shoes, I shop for meat.  

Country pork ribs are probably one of the best values in the grocery store these days.  Look for buy one, get one free sales.  Free the other package for later!  And if you are on a budget, never BUY BBQ Sauce.  Make your own!  You probably have most of the ingredients around!

Here is what you do: 

Colorful and Delish!
1 medium sweet Onion, sliced into rings
3 lbs. Boneless Country Pork ribs
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
¼ large or ½ medium Green Bell Pepper, sliced

Perfect Slow Cooking Isn't an Art, it's a Science!

Add onion rings to bottom of slow cooker.  Season ribs with salt and pepper. 

Add ribs on top of onion and top with green pepper slices.  Top with sauce (recipe below). 

Cook on low for 10 - 12 hours or high for 5-7 hours.

Note:  The onion and pepper are only used to flavor the meat as it cooks. 

For the BBQ Sauce:

1 ½ cups Vegetable Juice Cocktail
1 6 oz can Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup tightly packed Light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon dried Thyme, crushed

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Reserve 1 cup of the sauce for warming to serve with the ribs.  Pour remaining sauce over ribs in slow cooker.

Braised Green and Purple Cabbage (In Ginger Ale Butter)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil and Canola Oil Blend (or you can use Olive Oil or Canola Oil only)
1/2 medium head Green Cabbage
1/2 medium head Purple Cabbage
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Caraway Seeds (Optional)
6 oz. Ginger Ale
2 tablespoons cold Butter

Add olive oil to a large non-stick skillet.  Sauté cabbage in olive oil, about five minutes.  Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, caraway seeds (if using) and Ginger Ale.  Braise for about five minutes. 

Add butter.  Braise three more minutes.  Serve over buttered Whole Wheat Noodles.

Note:  If you're over 21, try adding a shot of dark rum to the sauce!  If you're under 21 or you don't keep rum on hand and you want to try something to kick it up, try adding some Ginger Ale!

Pleae also note:  I added two great local chef's sites to my "link" tab, so please check those out!