Thursday, March 28, 2013

Poll: What is Your Favorite Spring Food? And Balsamic Chicken with Onion, Sun Dried Tomato and Fresh Mint

Balsamic Chicken with Onion, Sun Dried Tomato
and Fresh Mint
Served with Kohlrabi and Greens with Butter and Dill

I told you that I was going to post something fun this week.  I posted a question out on Facebook, "What is your favorite spring food?"

My friend, Debi, gave a variety of answers from deviled eggs, to carrot cake and strawberry rhubarb pie.  Her brother, Blaine, said he enjoys big salads.  While Eileen and Laura "The Diva" like their seasonal veggies (asparagus, fava beans, etc).  My favorite spring food is grilled leg of lamb.

Check out this recipe:

So, which of my friends do you agree with?   Or do you agree with my favorite food?

Between now and April 4th, you can answer the poll to the right.   If you select "other," send me a message through Google and let me know what you like to eat this time of year.  If you have a food blog, send me the link to your recipe, and I'll give you a shout out here. 

Now for tonight's super simple recipe.   I tried the new product to make this dish.  I thought it came out really good.  If you can't find it or you don't have it on hand, simply use some herbed butter and olive oil or add a palm full of Italian Seasoning to butter and olive oil.

BTW - Mint is one of my favorite spring ingredients!

Serves 2.

4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1/2 tbs. lemon pepper
2 blocks Land O Lakes Saute' Express Italian Herb blend*
1 cup slivered sweet onion
1/2 cup Julienne sliced smoked sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
Pinch or two of coarse sea salt, to taste
Fresh chopped mint, to taste

Other:  Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle the chicken with the lemon pepper. 

In a saute' pan, add the Saute' Express. Once it melts into the pan, add the chicken. Cook for about four minutes until the chicken begins to brown. Flip and repeat on the other side. 

Remove the chicken to a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.


Add the onions and the sun dried tomatoes to the same saute' pan.  Cook for about two minutes until the onions begin to soften.  Transfer the mixture to the same pan as the chicken (on top of the chicken).

Deglaze the saute' pan with the wine, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the wine over the chicken, onion and sun dried tomatoes.  Sprinkle the chicken with balsamic vinegar and the salt.

Cover with tin foil.  Bake for one hour.  Let chicken rest about ten minutes before serving.

I'll see you soon with a great seafood dish!

Note:  No product was given to blogger and not an endorsement for the product mentioned in this recipe.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Awesome Corned Beef and Cabbage

"Braised and Broiled" Corned Beef
served with carrots, crispy cabbage and
boiled potatoes with garlic butter and fresh dill

I love a good corned beef and cabbage recipe.  For years I struggled with making this dish as tasty as I would have liked.  

I mean, don't get me wrong; there's nothing like the slow-braised flavor of a corned beef, cooked all day in a savory broth, and served up with a ton of braised cabbage, carrots and boiled potatoes.  

I came up with this variation on my traditional slow cooker recipe.  It takes a little more time and "love," but it's worth it.  Especially if you are going to make sandwiches out of the leftovers corned beef the next day.

This method keeps the corned beef so juicy, while crisping up the edges.  The flavor is out of this world!

Keep in mind, the way that I "finish" this dish isn't exactly in keeping with my "Just for Cooking" healthy guidelines.  But this is a "splurge" meal.  Everything in moderation, and when you mess up, just jump around your living room and eat less the next day.

That's my philosophy - and I'm 50 and in better shape than I have been in a long time.   So I guess my "take" on eating and exercise works -- at least for me.

Note:  Look for real Irish garlic and herb butter to use in this recipe.

Here we go - 

1 corned beef brisket - 1 lbs. (with spice packet)
1 bay leaf
18 ounces lager beer or light beer*
1 beef bouillon cube
3/4 sweet Vidalia or Sweet Florida "Candy" onion (cut into three chunks)
1 small - medium head of cabbage, cut into eight pieces
3 large carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tbs. onion powder
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. small red potatoes
3/4 stick Irish garlic and herb butter
1 tbs. vegetable oil
Fresh dill for garnish


Place the corned beef into a slow cooker along with the spice packet and a bay leaf.  Add enough water to completely cover the brisket.  Cook over low heat for 2 hours.

Remove about six cups of the water and replace with the beer.    Continue to cook for about 2 more hours. 

Add the bouillon cube, onion, cabbage, carrot, onion powder, salt and pepper.   Cook for 2 more hours.  Turn heat on high and continue to cook for one more hour until you can "smell" the wilted cabbage. 

Note:  Vegetables should be tender. 

During the last half hour while the meat and vegetables are still in the slow cooker, add the potatoes to a pan of salted water.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about twenty minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.  Drain potatoes.

Add half of the butter and some of the dill to the potatoes and lightly smash.   Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove vegetables from the slow cooker.  Discard bay leaf.  Separate the onions and carrots into a bowl.  Add half of the remaining butter.  Cover and keep warm. 

Add the oil to a large skillet.  Add the cabbage to the pan and cook for about ten minutes until the cabbage starts to crisp.  Add the remaining butter to the cabbage.   Turn heat off.  Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.  Add the braised corn beef to a shallow roasting pan (broiler safe).  Broil on one side for about five minutes.  Turn and continue to cook for another three or four minutes until the edges get all crispy and goooooood...  (I am channeling Aunt Bea there, or at least Andy). 

Let the meat rest about five minutes before slicing.  Serve with fresh dill.

And there you go.   A deliciously delectable corned beef and cabbage like you've never had before.    I know you are going to love this recipe!

Next week, we're going on a little local "food" adventure.  

See you soon!

*Family-friendly alert:  Beer is optional in this recipe.  It simply adds another layer of flavor.  If you decide not to use the beer, continue to cook the beef in the slow cooker in the water for the entire four hours.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

How to Grill a Perfect Beer Can Chicken

Welcome to "MK's Fabulous Food Adventures;" the blog formerly known as "Just for Cooking."  All of your favorite "JFC" recipes are still here.  Just click on the links. 

Be sure to change your URL if you have it saved so that you can find me now.  I know it will take some time for my old posts to catch up on my new URL... but I think the new URL is easier to remember. 

With this new blog concept, it's not just going to be about the recipes.   I'll sometimes post interesting features or local events (like a trip to the Farmer's market).  Sometimes I will post a technique -- like today!

Today's post is less about the recipe and more about "how to." You can really put any rub you like on a beer can chicken.   I will give you my secret here because it's just that good -- you will want to try it.  But the technique is what really sets it apart from other recipes.

So here we go: 

My recipe is for a gas grill. 
Start with a 3 1/2 to 4 pound all natural chicken.
Rub the chicken with equal parts of -
Worcestershire sauce
Jerk seasoning (your favorite brand)

DO NOT RUB OIL ON THE CHICKEN!   I know many of the celebrity chefs tell you to do this.  However, look at the crispy skin I achieved by just using the two ingredients above.   

Note:  The skin will give off enough grease. If you use oil as in some recipes, you risk ending up with a charred chicken.

Preheat your grill to 400 degrees.

Drink half of the beer.

Place the beer can (half empty -- or half full if you are an optimist) - into cavity of the chicken.

Secure the chicken on the rack as such.  Use of of these great tools to keep your beer can secure on the grill.

Close the lid or cover.   Grill over high heat for fifteen minutes.

 TURN OFF THE CENTER BURNER on the grill to create indirect heat.  Continue to grill for one hour, checking frequently to be sure that the skin isn't burning or that your chicken hasn't toppled over.  Sometimes when the cans heat up, this can happen.

Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the breast area and 180 degrees in the thigh area and juices run clear. 

Carefully remove the chicken from the beer can and base.  Plate. 

Baste with Heinz 57 sauce!  (That's my secret).  

Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving/serving. 

Meanwhile, you can awe all of your neighbors by taking interesting pictures of your food on the porch. 

My really special tip:  Just be sure to have a glass of wine with you or a beer (or something that looks like wine or beer if you don't drink) while taking food pictures on the porch.  Otherwise the neighbors might think you've totally lost it.  I have, but that's for another blog post.  ;.) 

Cheers!  I digress -

Here's how it should look.  See, told you that you could get crispy skin without any extra oil!

I hope you've enjoyed this brief chicken tutorial.   Look for more of these in the future and -- 

And -- some things never change:  I'll see you real soon!

Your cooking friend,


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Coming Soon and Grilled Wild Caught Whiting, Spring Onion Butter over Roasted Tomato and Mushroom Relish

Coming SOON,  a new and improved look for the blog!   I had intended to take a brief hiatus to do some writing, but we had a few important family issues to attend to.  All things in good time.

If you've been following "Just for Cooking," don't worry.  All of your favorite recipes are still here.  Just be sure to add the new URL or click on the list to your right.

On my new blog, I plan on also covering fun features from time to time.   It's not going to be all about recipes.  I might talk to chefs or post cooking tips.  But I'll still be posting some of the recipes I know my followers enjoy (as below).   Each recipe is going to be a little more upscale.  You can have fun with food, even if you're on a tight budget like we are.

Look for a new look in the next coming weeks.  What you see here below is the way my blog looked in the past.  Each week, I am going to try to top my own goals of better visual presentation.

I say "each week" because I don't plan on posting as frequently as in the past.  I want to take my time with the post. 

And at this time, I'm not planning on posting any ads.  I think they are distracting.   Do you really want to see an ad for toilet paper while you're reading a food blog?

It's good to be back.


Here we go with a sample recipe. 

Serves 2

3 tbs. cold butter, divided
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 large or two small spring onions, chopped (green scallions reserved)
1 tsp. dried Herbes de Provence
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup semi-dry white wine
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
4 button mushrooms, sliced thin
2 Whiting fillets; about 5 ounces each
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
Pinch or two of coarse sea salt, to taste

Cooking Spray for Grill
Fresh lemon slices

In a medium sauce pan, combine one tablespoon of the butter, 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, the chopped spring onion, and 1/2 of the dried Herbes de Provence. Sauté for three minutes until the onions soften. 

Add the lemon juice and the wine. Reduce by half. Cut in one tablespoon of the butter. Once the sauce congeals, add a little of the green part of the onion, to taste. Pour the sauce into a freezer safe bowl. Place the bowl into the freezer, uncovered, for at least one half hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray grill with cooking spray and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Drizzle tomatoes with half of the remaining olive oil and bake for about ten minutes until the tomatoes "pop."

At the same time, add the remaining olive oil and the remaining tablespoon of the butter to to a small sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and the remaining Herbes de Provence. Cook for about five minutes until the mushrooms brown.

Season the fish with the lemon pepper and salt. Grill over medium-high heat for three minutes each side, turning only once.

Right before plating, remove the butter mixture from the freezer. Microwave on high for about one minute. 

To plate: Place the roasted tomatoes and the mushrooms on the bottom of the plate. Top with a grilled fish fillet. Top fillet with a few drizzles of the onion butter and a little of the fresh green scallions. Top with a lemon slice.

I'll see you again soon!