Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Carne Asada Fries

Drool. That’s basically what my family did when I made these Carne Asada Fries. In fact, I was pretty much freaking out the entire time I was making these and pacing the kitchen while the fries baked because I was so excited to dig in. Just imagine crispy fries topped with layers of cheese, chopped Carne Asada, fresh guacamole and Pico de Gallo. I mean, how can you not get excited about that?

Carne Asada Fries
Serves 4

3 russet potatoes
1 tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. onion flakes
½ tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 avocados
2 tbsp. cilantro
2 cups chopped carne asada (recipe below)
1 cup cheese – cheddar, pepper jack or quesadilla
½ cup Pico de Gallo
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the potatoes and slice into thick wedges. Each potato should yield about 8 wedges. Place the wedges into a plastic bag and add the garlic salt, pepper, onion flakes, cumin and olive oil. Give the bag a gentle shake until the potatoes are coated with the seasoning.

Lay the potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the potatoes over and let them bake for another 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove them from oven and let cool slightly.
While the potatoes and cooking, mash together the avocados and cilantro in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Place the bakes steak fries onto a plate. Cover with carne asada, cheese, Pico de Gallo and guacamole. Serve immediately.

For the Carne Asada:
2 lb. flank steak
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Place a 2 lb. flank steak in a large baking dish and cover with the marinade for 4-5 hours.

Heat a grill over high heat and grill the flank steak for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and let rest before slicing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quinoa and Shrimp with Fresh Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

I love farmers markets. They are bursting with inspiration. So when I returned home from one of my visits, I surveyed my finds and thought: OK it’s gotta be something with sweet corn and cherry tomatoes, because they go together like milk and sugar. And what’s summertime without some fat shrimp and sweet basil? The result: A dish that tasted like a breezy, blue-skied August day.

Quinoa and Shrimp with Fresh Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 2 to 4

1/2 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
The juice of 1 lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1/8 teaspoon salt (or more if you prefer it saltier)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup diced red onion
8 extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels cut off from cob
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped basil

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce; partially cover, until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. The quinoa will be done when it turns partially white and the spiral-like germ of the grain is visible.

In a small bowl, whisk 2 teaspoons olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and sauté 2-3 minutes, just until wilted. Add shrimp and sauté until they turn bright red and are lightly browned on the edges. Add the corn and tomatoes, and heat through for 2-3 minutes, just until the tomatoes begin to wrinkle.

Add cooked quinoa directly into the skillet and toss with the shrimp mixture. Add the basil and the olive oil and lemon juice mixture. Toss gently.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer Fruit and Sweet Cream Cheese Galettes

A galette is a term used in French cuisine to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes. It’s a term usually applies to pastries best described as large cookie. And this recipe is the perfect way to end summer. You won’t believe how easy galettes are to make. And these galettes taste just like summer! I guarantee there won’t be a slice left over.

Summer Fruit and Sweet Cream Cheese Galettes
Serves 6 to 8

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1 whole egg, separated
2 cups prepared Fruit (see below*)
2 tablespoons sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 refrigerated pie crust from 14.1-ounce box

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix cream cheese, confectioner’ sugar, 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch, and the egg yolk in medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl mix fruit, 2 tablespoons of sugar, remaining tablespoon of cornstarch, and vanilla or almond extract.

Unfurl pie dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to about 13-inches in diameter. Slide onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan and spread evenly with cream cheese mixture, leaving a 2-inch border. Scatter fruit evenly over cream cheese mixture. Fold pastry border over the fruit. Brush dough perimeter with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake galette until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Loosen with a metal spatula and slide onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

*Fruit (pick 1 or a mix) You’ll need 2 cups total
Thinly sliced plums
Peeled and thinly sliced peaches or nectarines
Thinly sliced apricots
2 cups mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls

Food blogging can make me chunky if I'm not careful and every now and then my jeans can barely zip up. When that’s the case, I like to make dishes that make my body, eyes and stomach happy. And nothing makes me happier than fresh spring rolls. Loaded with fresh vegetables, light proteins and fresh herbs which are rolled in a rice paper is like eating a salad in a roll. It helps keep my meals interesting, versatile and my mental state happy.

Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls

2 pounds of boneless chicken
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce or fish sauce
Fresh basil, mint or other herbs
Fresh lettuce, chopped or torn in small pieces
Carrots, celery, cucumbers, daikon radish or bell peppers
Rice paper

For Garlic Soy dip:
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon of sesame oil

For the Chicken: In a large bowl, combine chicken, vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic and soy sauce. Cover well and allow marinating for about 20 minutes.
Heat frying pan and cook chicken. Slice in chicken in thin slices, about 1/4 inches for rolling.
Gather vegetables, rice paper, and board surface to roll on and bowl of hot water.

For the Dip: Combine all ingredients well.

For the Rolls: In large bowl, fill it with water and make it warm by adding hot water. Gently dip each rice paper wrapper in warm water for a few seconds till damp. Don’t over soak the rice paper. Place rice paper on plate, or working surface. As rice paper begins to absorb the water and become more soft and pliable (10-30 seconds, depending on wrappers and water temp.), begin to add the fillings.

On the 1/3 section of the rice paper wrapper closest to you, start layering your fillings of lettuce, herbs, chicken and vegetables.

Start rolling the wrapper over the fillings away from you, tucking and rolling the wrapper with your fingers, making sure all the fillings remain right and round within the rice paper wrapper.
Serve immediately with soy dip, or cover with plastic wrap to eat a few hours later.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thai Chicken Bites

These appetizers are easy to make and easy to eat! Crispy, sweet and salty. One of my favorites!

Thai Chicken Bites
Serves 4

Canola, Vegetable or Peanut oil, for frying
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 whole eggs
4 tablespoons milk
⅓ cups Sweet Chili Sauce
Carrot and cilantro, for garnish

Pour 1-2 inches of oil into a deep skillet. Preheat over medium heat.

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. In a shallow dish, stir together flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In another shallow dish, whisk egg, milk, salt and pepper together. Toss chicken pieces into the dry mixture first, then into the egg mixture and back to the dry. Make sure you coat the chicken completely during each step! Place chicken pieces into hot oil and fry until golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with sweet chili sauce. Divide into two equal portions and top with carrot and cilantro. Serve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Indian Chicken Curry

I like thick, spicy curries – Hawaiian, Japanese, Thai, and Indian. I’m not particularly fond of coconut flavors in my curry but this recipe made me rethink that. Serve this over rice and/or with naan bread as an accompaniment and it almost feels like an authentic Indian meal.

Indian Chicken Curry

¼ cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (I like maple syrup)
salt to taste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups plain yogurt
½ cup coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion until lightly browned. Stir in garlic, curry powder, cinnamon (if using) paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sweetener and salt. Continue stirring for 2 minutes.

Add chicken pieces, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and cayenne pepper and remove bay leaf. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake is one of my favorite desserts. Perfectly moist shortbread or biscuits, freshly whipped cream and juicy, flavorful strawberries. I mean, what’s not to love? When I saw this recipe, I knew had to make it. And let me tell you, I’m so glad I did, because it was amazing. The only mistake was that I didn’t make enough for the next day as my family finished the entire thing!

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake
Serves 6

For the shortcakes:
1-½ cup flour
½ cups cocoa powder
½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ cups sugar
8 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cups whole milk
¼ cups carbonated water
¼ cups cold brewed coffee

For the strawberries:
2-½ cups chopped strawberries
½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the Chantilly Cream:
1 cup whipping cream
½ cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoons real vanilla extract

In a food processor combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar and pulse until combined. Add the butter and process until it is all incorporated and it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk, water and coffee and process until combined.

These are more like drop biscuits than roll ‘em out and cut ‘em variety. Take about 1/4 a cup of the dough and form a disk, about one inch high, with your hand and place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Put your shortcakes in the fridge and allow to chill for 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350F. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool.
In a bowl, combine your strawberries, powdered sugar and lemon juice. Mix until combined and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Chantilly Cream sounds super fancy, but in reality it’s just whipped cream that you make with powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. It has a slightly different taste and texture that goes well with this recipe. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream, powdered sugar (between ¼ cup and ½ cup depending on how sweet you like it) and vanilla extract. Beat on high for 3-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.

Once your shortcakes have cooled, top with berries and cream and serve immediately.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad with Pickled Shallots and Feta

I bought my first beets this weekend at the farmers market and I am so excited to try it. I happened upon this roasted beet salad recipe. This salad combines salty, sweet, crunchy and sour flavors and textures to create an interesting dish. With a slice of toasted baguette and a glass of wine, this makes the perfect main dish meal.

Roasted Beet Salad with Pickled Shallots and Feta
Makes 2 main course salads or 4 starter course salads

4 cups mixed salad greens
4 beets, cubed and roasted (see ‘Roasting Beets’ below)
1 cup toasted walnut halves
½ cup crumbled feta cheese or to taste
Pickled shallots (see recipe below)
Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Pickled Shallots
5 shallots, peeled and cut into thin rings (about ½ cup of shallots)
¼ cup sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar

Sherry Vinaigrette
3 Tablespoons of neutral oil such as canola or safflower
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon style mustard
A pinch of salt

Roasting Beets: To roast beets with minimal mess, trim the roots and greens, if still attached (reserve the greens for another use). Peel the beets and discard peelings. Cut beets into 1-1/2″ cubes and toss in a bowl with a tablespoon of neutral tasting oil such as canola or safflower oil. Spread beet chunks on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes or until beets are tender and beginning to caramelize. Wash hands immediately after handling the beets to avoid staining.

To make pickled shallots: In a saucepan, combine sugar and vinegar and stir until combined. Bring to a boil and add shallots.

Let mixture simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until it cools.

Drain vinegar and use pickled shallots as desired.

To makes the sherry vinaigrette: In a small bowl, add all ingredients and whisk until combined.

To Assemble Salads: In a large bowl, toss mixed greens with enough vinaigrette to moisten leaves. Assemble greens on plates.

Top greens with beets, walnuts, feta and shallots. Lightly toss each serving until ingredients are combined. Drizzle with more vinaigrette if desired.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I love chocolate and peanut butter. They are my all-time favorite combination flavors. I seriously think I could live on chocolate and peanut butter but I’m sure my husband wouldn’t appreciate it as I would probably be as big as a house if I did. That’s why I only pull out this recipe for special occasions. It’s decadent and sinfully yummy. After all, I’m allowed to indulge every once in a while, right?

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared spring form pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chipotle Steak Salad

I love steak salads. And that’s a problem – when you have the complete inability to stop eating something until not a trace remains. You know how they say, “you eat with your eyes first?” If a dish is beautifully presented you're more inclined to eat it. Well, your eyes will devour this plate. It is absolutely beautiful. Seriously, it’s a beautiful plate of wonder. And it tastes just as good as it looks.

Chipotle Steak Salad
Serves 4

30 ounces, weight mayonnaise
11 ounces, weight chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, reserve 2 tablespoons adobo
1 whole flank steak
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon honey
24 ounces, weight salad greens (spring Mix)
4 whole roma tomatoes, sliced
1 whole cucumber, sliced

Dressing: In a food processor or blender, combine mayonnaise with canned chipotles. Blend until totally combined. Transfer to a separate container and store in the fridge.

Marinade: In a separate bowl, mix olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, oregano, honey, and reserved adobo sauce. Whisk to combine.

Pour marinade over flank steak, coating both sides. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Remove flank steak from fridge. Grill over high heat, only about 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side until rare/medium rare. Remove from heat and allow meat to rest a few minutes. Slice very thin shingles of meat on an extreme diagonal.

Mound salad greens on each plate. Drape strips of warm steak over the sides of the greens so that they're cascading downward. Lay tomato and cucumber slices on one side of the plate.
Drizzle the whole salad with chipotle dressing. The warm meat on the cool salad, combined with the flavorful and spicy dressing, is out of this world.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peach and Blueberry Pie

Before you roll your eyes and dismiss this dessert as something that’s too complicated for you… something that’s out of your skill set … something that you simply don’t have the time or energy for… Just give me a minute.

Making pie is not necessarily easy. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. But, everyone should know how to make a pie. If you know how to make a pie, you know how to make love. ‘Nuff said.

Peach and Blueberry Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

For the Crust:
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ice cold water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:
About 3 pounds ripe peaches (I used about 6 peaches)
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ to 2/3 cups granulated sugar (depending on the sweetness of your peaches)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Scant ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
2 tablespoons and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping crust before baking

To make the crust:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Stir together the ice cold water and vinegar. Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the water and vinegar mixture. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling:
Wash and slice peaches. In a medium bowl, combine peach slices and blueberries. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, flour, and cornstarch. Pour the sugar mixture over the fruit, and gently toss together with a wooden spoon. Stir in the lemon juice. Place bowl of fruit in the fridge to rest while you roll the crust out.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and place a baking sheet on the lower rack, just below where you’re going to place the pie. This will catch any pie drippings without making a mess of your oven.

Remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round. Roll the dough a few strokes, and then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface. The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok. Try not to get any tears in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough. When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore. Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in the 9-inch baking dish. Place in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.

Roll out the top crust just as you did the bottom crust, moving the dough across the floured surface every once in a while, and creating a roughly 13-inch circle. Remove the bottom crust and fruit filling from the fridge. Gently pour the fruit filling into the pie dish. Carefully remove the top crust from the work surface and drape over the fruit in the pie dish. With a small knife, trim the crust, leaving about 3/4-inch overhang. With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under. Use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges of the dough. Cut five small slits in the top of the crust so the juices and steam can vent. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place pie in the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 357 and bake for 45 to 55 more minutes. Remove from the oven when crust is browned and golden, and the juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours before serving. Place covered in the fridge to store. Pie lasts up to 3 or 4 days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pasta with Whiskey, Wine and Mushrooms

Ever had pasta with whiskey and wine? Me either. Until I made this recipe, that is. You would think a splash of Jack Daniels could potentially ruin a recipe but, surprisingly, it didn’t. In fact, it added a whole new depth of flavor to the already-flavorful sauce. This flavorful, creamy meatless pasta is absolutely wonderful. And if you need some protein, try serving this with some chicken or a big, juicy steak.

Pasta with Whiskey, Wine and Mushrooms
Serves 8

24 ounces, weight thickly sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 whole large onion, peeled and sliced
1 cup dry white wine
¾ cups whiskey
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 ounces, weight mostaciolli, cooked al dente

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle mushrooms with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat additional olive oil along with the butter over medium heat. Throw in the sliced onions and sauté for a couple of minutes, or until beginning to turn translucent. Pour in wine and whiskey and allow to bubble for a minute or two. Pour in broth and allow the liquid to reduce for a couple of minutes. Stir in cream and reduce heat to low. Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and simmer until sauce thickens.

Toss in cooked pasta, using a little hot pasta water if sauce needs a little thinning. Taste for seasonings and add immediately.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Toffee Crunch Cookies

I am always looking for the new cookies to try. I am not a huge fan of toffee but, surprisingly, this recipe has no toffee in the recipe. What?! I was just confused as you are. The cookie recipe sounded delicious, toffee or no toffee, so I proceeded to make it and I’m so glad I did. It’s chewy, crunchy, chocolate goodness all in one bite!

Toffee Crunch Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups quick oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1-¼ cup milk chocolate morsels
1 cup mini marshmallows

Beat butter with sugars. Add eggs one at a time, and then add vanilla. Beat in flour, baking soda and baking powder. Fold in oats, cereal, morsels and marshmallows.

Drop by 1-2 tablespoonful’s onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Carnita-Style Beef with Roasted Peppers Onions

I love homemade tacos and this recipe for carnitas has an ultra-flavorful shredded chuck roast. Is your mouthwatering yet? I’ll bet it is. These carnitas will knock your socks off.

Carnita-Style Beef with Roasted Peppers Onions
Serves 6

1 whole boneless chuck roast, 2 ½ to 3 pounds
3 tablespoons pure olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch salt and ground black pepper
1 can (4.5 ounces each) chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 whole large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 whole medium-large onions, ends left intact, peeled and each onion cut into 8 wedges
2 whole medium multi-colored peppers, each cut into 8 wedges
12 whole medium flour tortillas
1 container (8 Ounces) light sour cream
1 bunch cilantro
1 whole Lime, Cut Into Wedges


Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a 5 to 6-quart heavy Dutch oven over low heat.

Meanwhile, place roast in a large bowl; coat with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with 1 tablespoon of the cumin and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mix chiles, chili powder, remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin, and oregano in a small bowl.

A few minutes before searing, increase heat to a strong medium-high until wisps of smoke start to rise from the pan. Add roast; sear, turning only once, until both sides form an impressive brown crust, about 8 minutes total. Transfer roast to a plate; set aside. Add garlic to the now empty pot; sauté until fragrant and golden, about 30 seconds. Add chili mixture; sauté to intensify flavor, another 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, bring to a simmer; return roast to the pot.

Using 2 potholders to protect hands, place a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the pot, pressing on the foil so that it touches the stew. Seal foil around the edges; repeat with a second sheet of foil to completely seal. Turn burner on medium-high until you hear juices bubble. Set pot on middle oven rack; cook for a total of 1 1/2 hours. Remove roast from oven, cool to room temperature, and shred into bite size pieces. About 30 minutes before roast is done, toss onions and peppers with remaining 2 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on a baking sheet large enough for vegetables to fit in a single layer. Place pan on bottom oven rack; cook until tender-crisp, about 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, gently warm meat and peppers and onions over low heat. Serve with warm tortillas*, bowls of sour cream, cilantro sprigs, and lime wedges.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shrimp Ceviche Dip

Spend the afternoon outside with this appetizer. This starter is criminally delicious with chopped shrimp, avocado, scallions, cilantro and other yummy ingredients. No doubt you will find yourself scarfing this down in no time at all. It’s that splendid.

Shrimp Ceviche Dip
Serves 12

2 pounds cooked salad shrimp, halved if larger than a small dice
1 medium seedless cucumber, cut into small dice
2 avocados, cut into small dice
8 medium scallions, sliced thin
2/3 cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
½ cup lime juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Tortilla chips

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Roast Salmon with Potatoes, Asparagus and Lemon-Dill-Caper drizzle

This recipe is the perfect mix of easy and elegant. Perfect for a small dinner party and entertaining yet casual enough so guests won’t think you’re too stuffy or pretentious. I love recipes like this.

Roast Salmon with Potatoes, Asparagus and Lemon-Dill-Caper drizzle
Serves 6

1 whole side (about 2 ½ to 3 pounds) salmon
5 tablespoons pure olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
2 pounds fingerling potatoes or new red potatoes, halved
2 pounds asparagus, tough ends snapped off
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup each parsley and dill leaves, chopped coarse, plus extra sprigs for garnish
¼ cup caper
2 teaspoons caper juice
3 medium scallions, sliced thin
1-1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest; remaining lemon cut into wedges for the platter

Set salmon on a large rimmed baking sheet; coat both sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Toss potatoes with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper; place, cut side down, on a second rimmed baking sheet. Toss asparagus with remaining tablespoon of oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Adjust oven racks to lowest and upper-middle position. Place potatoes on bottom rack and salmon on upper rack of cold oven, then heat oven to 400ºF. Roast until salmon is just opaque throughout, about 25 minutes, and potatoes are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer salmon to a large platter; add asparagus to salmon roasting pan; continue to roast, along with potatoes, until bright green and just tender, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness. Meanwhile, mix extra virgin olive oil, parsley, dill, capers and juice, scallions and lemon zest in a small bowl; set aside.

To serve, spoon dill mixture over salmon, garnishing platter with parsley, dill sprigs, and lemon wedges. Arrange potatoes and asparagus on platter with salmon. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grilled Corn Guacamole

This is a different take on guacamole. If you add corn, and you add plenty of it, it really does add an interesting sweetness and (if it’s adequately grilled) smokiness that really sets this apart from other guacamole. The end result? A tasty treat.

Grilled Corn Guacamole
Serves 10


3 ears corn, shucked
6 whole avocados, diced
1 whole large tomato, diced
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons diced fresh jalapeno
1 whole lime, juiced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup cilantro leaves

Grill corn until nice and golden, with good grill marks on the kernels. Allow to cool a bit, and then cut the kernels off the cobs. Set aside.

Halve avocados and remove pit. Cut avocado into a dice inside the skin, and then scoop out with a spoon.

In a bowl, combine corn kernels, diced avocados, diced tomato, jalapenos, minced garlic, lime juice, salt, and cumin. Stir gently to combine. Add cilantro and stir in.