Thursday, June 30

HOW TO: Bake a Steak House Style Baked Potato

Baking a potato is actually a rather easy thing to do. But baking a flavorful baked potato, that takes a little something extra. Back in my previous life "behind the curtain" cooking in resturants I learned a trick or two. The key is preperation and temperature. A quick 5 minutes can mean the difference between a baked potato and a magical resturant quality baked potato!

Makes 4-6 potatoes
Full time 1 1/2 hours

You will need:

4-6 white or Yukon potatoes, good baking size is the size of an elongated orange 
3 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 tbsp fine sea salt
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

Preheat your oven to 400' and cut 4-6 (depending on potato quantity) pieces of aluminum foil roughly 8" each, lay out on flat surface.

Wash and dry each potato. 

Using a fork pierce the skin 5-6 times.

Once all potatoes are pierced we need to rub them down with vegetable shortening, a good trick is to place a small amount of shortening on a paper towel and rub it across the surface.
Or you could just rub a nice thin coat on by hand.

Set potato onto a sheet if foil, centered.

In a small bowl combine all spices to create a nice blend.

Dust blend across surface of all potatoes.

Flip potato over and dust surface.

Tightly roll up foil around potatoes.

 Place potatoes into oven and lower heat to 375'.

Bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until the potato is easily pierce by a fork.

Remove from oven and carefully remove foil.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, June 26

Yankee Pot Roast

Classic, simple, and all American: Yankee pot roast is a one pot wonder. Easy to make and full of flavor. Pot roast is the perfect weekend family supper.

Full time 2 1/2 hours
Serves 4-6

The needs-

3 lb. trimmed roast
2 large potatoes, diced large
1 onion, diced large
1/2 bunch celery, diced long
1/2 bunch carrots, diced long
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup red wine, I use Cabernet
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp garlic powder

The know-

Preheat oven to 325'.

In a dutch oven heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

Once oil is heated add in onions and butter.

Cook 5-8 minutes or until tender and soft.

Push onions to the outside of the pot and add in roast.

Sear meat for 2-3 minutes.

Turn meat over to evenly season on each side, searing for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Once evenly seared add wine into the dutch oven. And season roast with salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic.

Allow wine to cook off for 5-8 minutes or until it turns a nice deep crimson color.

Add stock into the pot and bring stock to a boil.

Once stock is boiling add in potatoes, celery, and carrots.

Cover with lid and carefully move into oven.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

Lower oven to 300 and continue cooking 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until roast hits 150' on a meat thermometer.

Carefully remove from oven and move meat to a cutting board. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

While this rests move vegetables into a serving bowl. Reserve liquid for a great pan gravy.

Slice, serve, and cheers!

Wednesday, June 22

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

Roasting whole chicken in a crock pot is a great way to get that rotisserie chicken flavor right at home. This is a great set it and forget weeknight treat.

Full time 4 1/2 hours (high) 8 hours (low)
Serves 4-6

The needs-

4-5 lb. roasting chicken
1 package (or homemade) onion soup mix
1/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp olive oil.
1 tsp paprika

The know-

In slow cooker, place a aluminum foil covered steamer rack. If you do not have one, ball up a few pieces of foil to create a raised cooking surface.

Place chicken onto steamer rack.

Rub chicken lightly with olive oil.

Cover with onion soup mix and gently pat into surface, allow some to fall to bottom of slow cooker.

Sprinkle over paprika.

Careful pour water into bottom of slow cooker.

Cover and cook 3 1/2-4 hours high, 7-71/2 hours low. Testing to ensure chicken is cooked.

Remove to serving platter and carve.


Sunday, June 19

Slow Cooker or Sautéed Orange Honey Glazed Carrots

Bringing a little bit of honey with a mild orange flavor, this makes a great side dish for any meal. And perfect for weeknights too, these carrots can be cooked in either a slow cooker or a saute pan.

Serves 4-6
Full time slow cooker 3 1/2 hrs high 6 1/2 hours low
Full time saute pan 30 minutes (directions changes in brackets)

The needs-

2 pounds baby carrots
1 large orange
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp butter, diced into 8 pieces
1/2 tsp salt

Saute only: 1 tbsp olive oil

The know-

In your slowcooker place baby carrots. (Saute heat pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes with olive oil, then place in carrots)

Add in diced butter.

Drizzle honey over top of carrots.

Juice orange over carrots.

Cover with lid and let cook on high for 3 hours and low for 6 hours. (Saute cover with lid and cook 20 minutes lowering heat to medium low. Stir every 5-6 minutes to create even cooking.)

Once tender and easily pierced with a fork, move to serving bowl. Cheers!

Thursday, June 16

Slow Cooker Traditional Bean-less Chili

My family loves chili, they just do not like beans. It took me a while to modify my old chili recipe to maintain all those traditional chili flavors without beans. Here is a great bean-less chili recipe which works with multiple protiens-beef, turkey, and even soy vegetable crumbles. Making this the must have chili recipe in my book!

Serves 4-6
Full time 4 hours high, 7 hours low

The needs-

2 lb. ground beef (or protein of choice)
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 oz can diced green chilis (any heat level will work)
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced small
1 tbsp butter*
4 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground red pepper (substitute more black if desired)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

*For soy vegetable crumbles, you will not need the butter

The know-

In bottom of slow cooker pour crushed tomatoes, diced chilis, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, red pepper, and cayenne.

Add in celery and onions, stirring to combine.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, brown beef with butter, for 5-6 minutes until 95% browned. If using a different protien your browning time will vary. If using soy vegetable crumbles, skip this step.

Drain and add into slow cooker, stir well to full combine.

Cover and cook 3 1/2 hours on high/6 1/2 or until celery is easy to pierce with a fork.


Monday, June 13

Pork and Chicken Tandoori with Cucumber Raita

Tandoori and raita are both traditional dishes in Indian cuisine. The taste of savory herbs and spices blended with a cool dipping sauce bring this dish to life.

Not as spicy as traditional Indian cuisine this version is a great weeknight meal and can easily be done with chicken breasts and baked instead.

Serves 6 to 8
Full time: approximately 30 minutes

The needs-

For cucumber raita:
2 small green  chili (for a slight spice, optional)
1/2 cucumber
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

For tandoori spice mix:
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander

1 pound pork cutlets thin sliced
1 pound chicken breast thin sliced
1 pineapple

The know-

Start with ratia:
In a small bowl place the yogurt. Blend in cumin, coriander, salt pepper. Mix until well blended. Set aside.

To dice your cucumbers, slice them thin. Then cut the slices into small pieces. You want the pieces to be approx 1/8".

Optional: Take your peppers an dice them as small as you can, seeds included. You want the pieces to be approx 1/8".

Gently fold the (peppers and) cucumbers into yogurt. Cover with clear wrap.

Set raita in fridge to let flavors meld while preparing main course. Can be made a day ahead.

Time to make the tandoori:
In a small glass, or cup place all the spices and stir until well blended, set aside.

Prepare pineapple by removing skin, core, and slicing long ways into spears.

Prepare pork and chicken by cutting cutlets/breasts into pieces roughly 1" to 1 1/2" square, just try to keep them the same size.

In a large sautéed pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add in pineapple and sauté over med-low heat. Let it sit there for a good 5 minutes then flip over to another side, repeat.

Once you have sautéed all three sides remove from heat and set aside on a plate.

Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to pan, turn heat up to med-high, and add in meat. The edges will begin to brown quickly. Stir around often to evenly cook.

Once meat looks half way cooked, approx 5 minutes it is time to start spicing the meat. Gently add 1/3 of spice mix across the top of all the meat, give a good stir and repeat.

Wait 2 to 3 minutes and them add in remaining spice mix. This method will allow each piece to equally coat itself.

Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes.

Now gently add the pineapple back into pan, I like to slide it around the edges to ensure more contact with pan/meat.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook until pineapple is warmed through.

Serve alongside Nann bread and jasmine rice for a great Indian inspired meal!


Friday, June 10

MAKE IT: Chili Lime Granola

Granola is both one of the easiest and addictive things to make. With a few ingredients you can easily make this treat and play around with its flavors. You can go from sweet to savory or even spicy just by changing what you mix in. Here is one of my favorite twist on a granola recipe, which is filled with a bit of sweet and a bit of spicy.

Full time 3 hours (includes rest time)
Makes 8-10 servings

The needs-

2 cups quick oats (for rolled oats toast an additional 10 minutes first)
1 1/2 cup chili lime peanuts
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries (if you can get pomegrante juice infused ones, they make this magical)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed lightly
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp sugar

The know-

Preheat oven to 350'

On a small baking tray place oats, wheat germ, and peanuts.

Toast in oven for 15 minutes or until wheat germ begins to golden, stirring occasionally.

While this toasts-in a large mixing bowl combine butter, honey, sugar, and brown sugar. Stirring to dissolve brown sugar into butter.

Once oats are toasted, mix contents of tray into butter mixture. Stir well to evenly coat oats.

Add in cranberries to evenly distribute.

Pour mixture onto baking sheet and spread out evenly.

Reduce heat of oven to 300' and return tray to oven.

Bake 25 minutes or until nicely golden.

Remove carefully from oven and set on a wire rack to cool for two hours.

Once cooled and set, you need to break it up into easy to eat pieces. Then move to a storage container or zip top bag. Granola will stay fresh in refrigerator for one week.