Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Pepper Panini

I love Panini’s. In fact, I like them better than your standard, white bread sandwich. Give me grilled bread anytime. Panini’s are like pizza or quesadillas: the combinations and permutations are endless. And delicious.

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Pepper Panini
Serves 4

Store-bought rotisserie chicken
8 whole sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
3 tablespoons pesto
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cups mayonnaise
2 whole red bell peppers
8 whole slices Provolone or Mozzarella cheese
8 slices whole grain sandwich bread
4 tablespoons butter, softened

For the chicken: Slice chicken into strips.

For the spread: In a blender or food processor, puree sundried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons of the sundried tomato mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Roasting the red peppers: If you have a gas cook top, blacken red peppers directly over the flame. (If you do not have a gas cook top, blacken them directly under the oven broiler.) Completely blacken/char on all sides, then immediately seal in a Ziploc bag. Allow peppers to sit, sealed, in the bag for at least 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove from bag and use fingers to slip off the blackened skin. (Don’t be afraid to leave some black bits!) Lop off the top, cut in half, then seed and slice into strips. Set aside.

To assemble the Panini: Spread generous amounts of the sundried tomato/pesto spread on one side of all the pieces of bread. On four of the pieces, arrange 1/4 of the chicken slices, 1/4 of the pepper slices, and two pieces of provolone. Place the other four pieces of bread with the spread face down. Butter both sides of sandwich, and then grill in Panini maker or on a skillet over medium-low heat. (If you use a skillet, set a heavy pan or skillet on top of the sandwich as each side browns.) Slice sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coca-Cola Shredded Pork

This recipe is an adaptation of a Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork recipe but seeing as how I detest Dr. Pepper I substituted it with Coke and, surprisingly, it turned out dee-licious! Yum!

Coca-Cola Shredded Pork
Serve 12

1 whole Large Onion 1 whole Pork Shoulder ("pork Butt") - 5 To 7 Pounds
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
2 cans Coca-Cola

Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large slow cooker.

Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pot. Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Coke. Place lid over pot, then cook for ten hours.

Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it.

Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, and then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.

Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa, and whatever else you’d like.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

Spring has sprung! Try roasting fresh asparagus for a quick and simple weeknight side. Simple and delicious, you’ll probably have this in your dinner rotation once, if not twice a week.

Roasted Asparagus

Toss 2 pounds trimmed asparagus, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast at 450 degrees F until lightly browned, 15 minutes. Mix 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, the grated zest of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the asparagus.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars

We all love delicious doughnuts and cookies, but can the best desserts be made in a more healthful way? Yes, they can! Try these Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars. They’re just decadent enough to make you feel like you’re cheating, when you’re really not. Who says you can’t have your cake (or in this case, cookie) and eat it too?

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars
Makes 32 bars

1 cup pecans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Chop the pecans and let cool.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the butter and oil with the granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt; beat the dry ingredients into the mixer at low speed. Add the chocolate chips and pecans; beat just until incorporated.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and nearly set in the center. Let cool completely, then run a knife around the edges and invert the rectangle. Peel off the paper and invert onto a cutting board. Cut and serve.

Make ahead: The cookie bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sesame Chicken with Snow Peas

A busy schedule doesn’t mean you have to live on takeout and PB&J. Skip takeout and serve this lightened-up version instead. It’s ready in just about 30 minutes.

Sesame Chicken with Snow Peas
Serves 4

5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 ¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into ¾ -inch chunks
6 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili paste or sriacha
4 cups snow peas, trimmed
Cooked brown or white rice, for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Whisk 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil and the honey in a bowl. Toss in the chicken and marinate 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the marinade using a slotted spoon. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in 2 batches; turning once or twice, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes (add 2 more teaspoons canola oil between batches). Transfer the chicken to a plate and wipe out the skillet.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil in the skillet. Add the scallions, reserving some of the green parts for topping. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk the broth, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, chili paste and the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a bowl; add to the skillet and cook, stirring, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil.

Meanwhile, cook the snow peas in a steamer basket set over a few inches of boiling water until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the sauce and heat through. Serve the chicken and snow peas over brown rice, if desired. Top with the sesame seeds and reserved scallion greens.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Icebox Pie

I know my desserts and this peanut butter icebox pie recipe is one of my favorites. If you love peanut butter and Reese's peanut Butter Cups are your favorite candy, you have to try out this mouthwatering recipe.

Peanut Butter Icebox Pie

1 cup butter, melted
4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

2 cups heavy cream
3 cups cream cheese
1 ½ cups peanut butter
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped into ¼” pieces
½ cup peanuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine melted butter and wafer crumbs in a large bowl and mix by hand until a wet crumb forms. Shape the crust by pressing into the pie pan, making sure you form the crumb into the sides. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes and cool to room temperature.

While the crust is baking and cooling, make the filling. Beat the heavy cream in the mixer using a whisk attachment on medium until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In separate bowl, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment on medium-high until smooth and creamy. Lower mixer speed to medium and add the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until completely combined. Set aside.

Take the cooled crust and drizzle about 3 tablespoons of caramel onto the bottom. Next fill, spread and smooth the filling in the pie shell. Sprinkle the chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and peanuts all over the top of the pie. Store in a covered container and refrigerate at least 5 hours before serving.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto Pizza

It’s Lent and that mean meatless Fridays. I love shrimp because it’s convenient (keep a stash in your freezer), easily available and its mild flavor works in lots of dishes. It’s shrimply delicious! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto Pizza
Makes 4 individual pizzas

Pizza dough (either store bought or from your favorite pizzeria)
Cilantro Pesto:
¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grilled Shrimp:
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cilantro pesto: Put all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the grilled shrimp: Preheat the grill to high. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with enough olive oil to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through. Remove from grill and keep warm until ready to use.

For the pizza: Divide the store bought or pizzeria dough into 4 balls. Roll each ball into 8-inch circles. Brush each circle with oil and grill on both sides until golden brown. Add ½ cup grated cheese to each pizza and grill until the cheese is just melted. Remove from the grill and spread a few tablespoons of the cilantro pesto over each pizza. Top each pizza with 4 shrimp and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Slow Cooker Corned Beef Brisket with Horseradish Sour Cream

This recipe says, “St. Patrick’s Day” from start to finish. Greet guests with some good Irish beer and serve alongside cabbage, carrots and potatoes and everyone will be doing an Irish jig. No luck of the Irish needed. Though it’s always a welcome bonus!

Slow Cooker Corned Beef Brisket with Horseradish Sour Cream
Serves 8

1 large sweet onion (Bermuda, Maui or Spanish), sliced
1 well-trimmed corned beef brisket (3 to 3 ½ lb)
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon cream-style prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, place onion. Thoroughly rinse beef; discard seasoning packet. Place beef on onion; sprinkle with red pepper flakes. In small bowl mix broth with Worcestershire sauce; pour over beef.

Cover and cook on Low heat setting 8 to 9 hours or until beef is tender.

Remove beef and onion from cooker, using slotted spoon. Cut beef across grain into thin slices. In small bowl, stir our cream, horseradish and parsley until blended. Serve with beef and onion.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mint-Chocolate Brownies

For a fitting end to your St. Patrick’s Day celebration, make this delicious dessert. If you like mint, then you’ll love this recipe. Get a double dose of mint! Cool mint chips flavor these brownies, and a mint-chocolate glaze generously highlights the top.

Mint-Chocolate Brownies

1 box Betty Crocker Original Supreme Premium Brownie Mix
Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup mint-flavored chocolate chips

Mint Frosting:
1 cup vanilla frosting
¼ teaspoons mint extract
1 drop green food color, if desired

Shiny Chocolate Glaze:
Reserved mint-chocolate chips
4 teaspoons butter or margarine
4 teaspoons corn syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons hot water


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only on 9-inch square pan. Make brownie batter as directed on box – except stir in pecans and 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips (reserve remaining chocolate chips for glaze). Spread batter in pan.

Bake 36 to 41 minutes or until tooth pick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely.

In small bowl, stir all frosting ingredients using spoon until well blended. Spread frosting over brownies.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat Glaze ingredients over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Stir in hot water, a few drops at a time, until mixture is thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over frosted brownies. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until glaze is firm. For brownies, cut into 6 rows by 5 rows.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shepherd’s Pie

Sample the best of Irish cuisine this March 17 with this shepherd’s pie recipe. Dark beer is the secret ingredient to this dish’s rich, flavorful stew base. Top it off with some garlicky mashed potatoes, melted cheddar and some chopped parsley and those Irish eyes will be smilin’.

Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 6 to 8

Garlicky Potato Topping:
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup sour cream
¼ to ½ cup beef broth
4 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

4 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
½ teaspoon salt, plus ½ teaspoon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound ground beef
2 to 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped, (about 1 cup)
¾ cups frozen peas, thawed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (12-ounce) bottle light or dark beer
½ cup beef broth
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup grated Swiss or Cheddar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Prepare potato topping: In a large saucepan add the potatoes and garlic and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large bowl. Add the sour cream, ¼ up of the broth, butter, salt and pepper, and beat on low speed with a hand mixer until the potatoes are light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining ¼ cup broth. Do not overmix. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch round baking dish with nonstick spray.

Prepare filling: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and almost crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate; set aside.

Add the oil to the drippings in the skillet and put over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat, until the beef begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots, peas, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the beer, bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes Add the cooked bacon, the broth, rosemary, ½ teaspoon of salt, and the pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Spoon the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread the potato topping evenly over the beef mixture. Bake until the filling is hot, the topping is lightly browned and the edges are bubbly, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. Let rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shrimp with Pesto

I absolutely love pesto. I like to put it on shrimp, pizza, spread it on a tomato mozzarella sandwich or simply toss with pasta and I’m in heaven! The combination of garlic, basil, pine nuts and fresh Parmesan is enough to drive me crazy. If you want something different than your standard marinara or Alfredo sauce, this is it. After one taste, I have no doubt you will put it on everything…

Shrimp with Pesto
Serves 6

½ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Blend the basil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add ¼ cup of olive oil, processing until well blended. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Toss the shrimp with the extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss again.

Heat a heavy large skillet over high heat. Working in 2 batches, add the shrimp and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Toss the shrimp with enough pesto to coat.

Transfer the shrimp to a platter and serve.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guava Swirl Cheesecake

Sweet with a touch of sour, this is the perfect blend of flavors. The bonus: this is a lighter version of your typical cheesecake yet still manages to be rich and delicious. No guava shells? No worries. You can easily replace the guava with strawberry, blueberry or raspberry.

Guava Swirl Cheesecake

4 ounces graham crackers
3 tablespoons canola oil
Cooking spray
1 16 oz can of guava shells in heavy syrup
1 cup sugar
2 (8-ounce) packages block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
½ cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 375°.

Wrap outside and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil.

Place crackers in a food processor; process until finely ground. Drizzle with oil; pulse until combined. Press mixture into bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes; cool on a rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Drain guava shells of syrup. Place shells in a food processor; process 1 minute or until smooth.

Combine 1 cup sugar and cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Add whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Place 2 egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Spoon guava puree over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife. Place springform pan in a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 2 inches. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until center of cheesecake barely moves when pan is touched.

Turn oven off. Cool cheesecake in closed oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BBQ Chicken Salad

Loaded salads are my favorite. And this recipe is to-die-for. It has two (count ‘em two!) homemade dressings and they are dee-licious! You can opt to make this vegetarian and leave the chicken off and it’d still be flavorful. If you think salads are boring, this BBQ Chicken Salad will become one of your favorite meals.

BBQ Chicken Salad

For the Avocado Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons peach jam
1 medium ripe avocado
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Blue Cheese Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 medium shallot, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, dry pan roasted and chopped
2 tablespoons peach jam
1 cup sour cream
1 cup blue cheese or Gorgonzola
Salt and pepper to taste

For the chicken:
Chicken breasts
BBQ sauce-use your favorite brand

For the salad:
Mixed greens
Tomatoes, chopped
Black beans, rinsed and drained
French fried onions

To make the avocado vinaigrette: put all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender. Mix until smooth.

To make the blue cheese vinaigrette: put all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender. Mix until smooth. If the dressing is too thick, add a drizzle of extra olive oil and mix again.

Grill the chicken and brush each piece liberally with bbq sauce. Cut into strips and set aside.

To plate the salads: place mixed greens on a plate. Lay the sliced chicken on top of the greens. Top with tomatoes, black beans, corn, and fried onions. Drizzle entire salad with avocado vinaigrette and blue cheese vinaigrette.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


It’s Fat Tuesday and what better way to indulge than with some tasty, hot, fresh- from-the-fryer beignets. I mean, for the next 46 days (yes, this year it’s more than the 40 days and 40 nights you’re usually accustomed to), if you’re Catholic the Catholic law of abstinence dictates that you give up something – whether it’s coffee, swearing, sweets or red meat (or whatever your vice). So, I say, go out with a bang – indulge in one of life’s sweetest pleasures until the next 46 days are over.

Yields approximately 3 dozen

1 ½ cups lukewarm water
½ cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups bread flour
¼ cup shortening
Nonstick spray
Oil, for deep-frying
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about ¼ -inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jambalaya Sandwich

Can’t make it to the French Quarter? Celebrate Mardi Gras with this New Orleans fare. This recipe is a great twist to ordinary jambalaya. A real crowd pleaser, everyone will be asking for this recipe.

Jambalaya Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches

¼ pound thick-cut bacon, diced
1 pound pork butt/pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into ½ -inch slices
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into ½ -inch slices
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup thinly julienned red bell peppers
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into ½ -inch cubes
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
¾ cup plus ¼ up chopped green onions
2 teaspoons cayenne, or to taste
Salt and pepper
½ cup water
2 sourdough bread loaves
1 pound Havarti cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

In a large cast iron pot or heavy-bottomed braising pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon and drain on paper towel. Set aside.

Add pork to the pan with the bacon fat and cook on medium to high heat until pork is browned on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the sausage, onions, and bell pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. Next add the chicken, celery, and garlic, parsley, and ¾ cup chopped green onions. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 7 more minutes. Add the cayenne and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the water, cover and let sit for 1 hour.

Cut bread lengthwise and place in oven to toast lightly.

Spoon some of the pork mixture on the bread bottoms, top each with slices of cheese, the reserved bacon and the remaining green onions and finish with the bread tops. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mochiko Chicken

In Hawaii, if there’s one thing we love its pot lucks. Pot lucks are when a group of people get together and everyone brings a dish to share. One of my all-time favorite contributions is Mochiko Chicken. It is sort of like a Japanese sweet fried chicken. It’s easy to make and always the hit of any party.

Mochiko Chicken
Serves 4 to 6

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons Mochiko flour
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons soy sauce (recommended: Aloha Shoyu)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
Oil for frying

Combine all ingredients except chicken and oil. Add chicken and marinate overnight or for at least 5 hours. Fry in oil until golden brown.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Asian Tacos

Tacos with a twist! Wrap up dinner using a super-fast stir-fry with chicken, veggies and sauce.

Asian Tacos
Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ¼ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 bag (1 lb) fresh broccoli, red peppers and onions (or other combination),
½ cup stir fry sauce or Thai peanut sauce
1 package flour tortillas for burritos

In 10-inch skillet or wok, heat oil over high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from heat.

Cut vegetables into about ½ -inch pieces; add to chicken in skillet. Cook and stir over medium-high heat about 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender; drain. Add ½ cup stir-fry sauce. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until hot.

Spread about ½ cup of the chicken mixture over half of each tortilla; fold tortillas in half. (Fold tortillas in half again if desired.) Serve with additional stir-fry sauce.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Grilled Chicken Wraps

I’m feeling kind of lazy tonight… Not to mention my cupboard looks like Old Mother Hubbard. Ooh! We have chicken. Check. Cheese. Check. Tortillas. Check. I can make grilled chicken wraps! Easy and delicious, this will make the perfect dinner tonight with a side salad. After all, mom deserves a night “off” every now and then, right? I can’t be expected to make four-star dinners every night…

Grilled Chicken Wraps
Serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoon oil
1 cup shredded cheese (recommended: Mexican-Style Four Cheese)
1 tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons Italian dressing
2 teaspoons chili powder
4 flour tortillas (8 inch)

Heat grill to medium heat.

Brush chicken with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until done. Cut into strips; place in medium bowl.

Add cheese, tomatoes, dressing and chili powder; mix lightly. Spoon down centers of tortillas. Fold in opposite sides of tortillas; roll up burrito-style.

Grill wraps; seam sides down, 8 to 9 minutes or until golden brown, turning after 5 minutes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak

This is total comfort food. It’s not healthy, fat-free or even nutritious. But what it is is utterly and completely delicious. You can smother the gravy on biscuits, mashed potatoes or the perennially local favorite, rice. It’s like tasting a little bit of heaven.

Chicken Fried Steak
Serves 8

3 pounds cube steak
1 ½ cup whole milk, plus up to 2 cups for gravy
2 whole large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
Seasoned salt
¼ teaspoons cayenne
Lots of black pepper
Canola oil, for frying
Salt and pepper

Begin with an assembly line of dishes for the meat: milk mixed with egg in one; flour mixed with spices in one; meat in one; then have one clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.

Work one piece of meat at a time. Season both sides with salt and pepper, and then dip in the milk/egg mixture. Next, place the meat on the plate of seasoned flour. Turn to coat thoroughly. Place the meat back into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Place back in the flour and turn to coat. Place breaded meat on the clean plate, and then repeat with remaining meat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. Cook meat, three pieces at a time, until edges start to look golden brown; around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes each side.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat until all meat is cooked.

For the Gravy:
After all meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup grease back to the pan. Allow grease to heat up.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix flour with grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Keep cooking until it reaches a deep golden brown color. If paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour and whisk.

Whisking constantly, pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until gravy is smooth and thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.