Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Black Bean Chili with Spicy Sausage

Chili is one of the first things that I learned to cook on my own.  Like, even in the midst of being a terrible, hopeless version of a culinary hot mess, I could at least muster the skillset needed to make a decent pot of chili.  And let me tell you, it was a serious source of pride.  I bragged about it quite a bit (I mean, IF I were the bragging type), and if I ever needed to contribute something edible to a social event, chili it was.  Excuse me, what's that you say?  You're having a French Bistro themed potluck and need me to bring a side to accompany your Coq au Vin?  Perfect, chili for everyone!  I'm sure even the French love a hearty Mexican flavored stew alongside their...uh....French flavored stew.

Luckily, my general culinary skills have improved in the past few years, and so has my chili recipe!  I've gotten lots of ideas from Diners Drive Ins and Dives....have you ever noticed they make a LOT of chili at the places Guy Fieri visits?  I love that show...I so want to own a dive (a gourmet one of course) one day and be on the show.  I'd make my chili!  And tell the entire TV audience about the time I made chili for my darling husband and put a little extra cayenne in there just for a bit of a kick.  And then he ate it and fell to the ground, rolling around screaming about how his taste buds were burning off.  He swore he couldn't taste food for a week.  He's always exaggerating - I wonder where he gets THAT!?!

Anyway, my chili recipe has evolved into something quite tasty, if I do say so myself.  I make it with black beans instead of kidney beans, because kidney beans are big, and big beans are creepy.  I also use ground sausage in addition to ground sirloin, because well, sausage is delicious!  And I add corn because corn makes it prettier!  The whole thing comes out a little different every time since I just eyeball the ingredients, but I'll try to reign it in here so you don't burn off your spouses' taste buds.  We wouldn't want that.

Black Bean Chili with Spicy Sausage
Source: A "Cooking With Wine" Original!

1 package Jimmy Dean 1/3 less fat sausage (the kind in a roll)
1 pound ground sirloin, 93% lean
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 regular sized can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 bottle quality dark beer
few splashes of chicken or beef stock to taste (depending on how chunky you like your chili)
1 can black beans, drained
1 can sweet white corn, drained
1/3 package store-bought chili seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon blackening seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar, sour cream, and cilantro for garnish

Heat oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven.  Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until soft.  Move veggies to the side of the pan and turn heat up to medium high.  Add sausage and ground beef and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon.

Add all seasonings (store bought chili seasoning, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, blackening seasoning, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, chipotle, and salt and pepper).  Stir to combine.

Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beer, black beans, corn, and chicken/beef stock.  Stir.

Let simmer on stovetop for at least 20-30 minutes. 

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and cilantro for garnish.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins with White Chocolate Chips

I just got back from Crate and Barrel and Homegoods in search for a cute but inexpensive table to put my printer on in my cute new home office.  The desk doesn't have enough room because of all my pretty pens and my humongous desk calendar that houses all of my fun travel and social plans (written in a rainbow of colors of course).  Every time I got to Crate and Barrel (or Homegoods), I have an overwhelming desire to purchase a new house.  Now, in case you're wondering, I already have 2 houses (not by choice, my friends) and I need another one like I need a hole in the head.  But new houses mean completely clean canvases for decorating and that scenario is seriously like my dream come true.  An empty home (and a full wallet) to me is like a room full of college girls with Twitter accounts to Anthony Wiener.  Pure heaven, I tell ya.

We moved into our house, like, less than a year ago, and while I was excited about the purchase of our first house as a married couple and living in a wonderful neighborhood, I was really mostly just excited that there were so many rooms to buy things for.  I actually dreamed about it at night because I'd lay in bed while I was trying to fall asleep and decorate the whole house in my head.  Once we moved in, I decorated all of the rooms except for the office right away.  Because we had no use for a home office at the time, and our attempt to turn it into a "TV den" proved to just be a waste of the $800 TV and the $15 a month for the extra cable box.  But now that I have a use for the home office, I got busy and just finished the last room.  Well, it will be finished when MY HUSBAND HANGS THE SCONCES IN MY OFFICE!  The ones that have been sitting there for months.  He seems to think that if he ignores my requests, I'll eventually forget about it move on to a decorating scheme sans sconces.  He is wrong.  I won't forget, and I'll probably get increasingly annoying about it.

Anyway, when I was shopping for a printer table today, I saw about 7000 things that I wanted to buy (in addition to the printer table, $23 at Homegoods, score!!).  But since our current home is already full, I can't buy any of these things that I want unless I get ANOTHER home.  See my dilemma?  I thought so.

Homegoods also had this really cute blue and white plate that I thought would be perfect to photograph with my Peanut Butter Banana Muffins with White Chocolate Chips.  I think I was right. 

These muffins were so, so good.  I guess its hard to go wrong with peanut butter, bananas, and white chocolate.  I made them for breakfasts, but I do think they might be a better fit as a dessert.  They're awfully tasty, but a bit rich and sweet for first thing in the morning.  But whatever floats your boat...these are technically good any time of day!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins with White Chocolate ChipsSource: Loosely adapted from Sugar Plum Blog

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (I used 2 1/2)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used white chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with liners.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat banana, peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Lower speed the mix in milk and flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lemon Roasted Chicken and Pappardelle

Le Sigh.

There are 2 phenomena that are weighing on my mind today.

1) Why is it so impossible to go to Target and get out of there without spending $100 or more (and if you are me, that typically errs on the side of "more")?  WHY?  I've worked in corporate retail for like my entire career...I KNOW the things retailers do to make you buy ridiculous and unnecessary things.  I was part of that sneaky strategy for years and I know all the secrets.  I know better than to pick up random stuff off an endcap or even look at the pretty displays....that's where they put the "wants" and not the "needs".  And let's not even talk about the markup on such trinkets.  I went to Target to buy Claritin (don't get me started on how much it costs to keep my eyes clear and my nose in a breath-able condition during the Spring and Summer), and Claritin only.  That should have cost me $18.  Somehow, I left the store with Claritin, a candle, a pack of pens in pretty colors, a leather notebook, socks, a pair of earrings, a random plate that will look cute on this blog, and some workout clothes.  I have justifications for all of them, I swear.  Not so justified that I didn't throw away the receipt before my husband got home, though.  He's so nosey!

2) Why is it that it takes like 100 years to get into shape once you decide you're going to do it but then takes only 4.5 seconds to get out of shape once you slack off a little bit?  If the universe wants people to be more physically fit, its possible we should address this phenomenon.  I've been pretty bad about going to the gym lately (and the reason's name is Lola), even though I actually really do like working out and enjoy myself once I've managed to talk myself into driving the mile to the gym from my house (sad).  While at Target the other day, I decided that the reason I wasn't going to spin class any more is because I didn't have enough cute outfits to wear to said spin class.  A moment of clarity!  I need bike shorts and colorful tank tops!  Duh!  So I stock up on some new duds (along with my Claritin and candle and pretty pens).  In my defense, I DID go to spin class that day, for the first time in awhile.  Oh my.  I don't remember it being that hard.  It was 10 songs (60 minutes!)....I feel like that's more than it used to be.  And why was the instructor always telling us to turn the resistance UP?  That's so mean!  Plus, its really hot in there.  Good thing I was wearing my new tank top!  And when did it get so hard to breathe?  And why does it feel like I'm biking through mud?  And, my butt hurts!  But I made it through and felt pretty good when it was over (and because that meant it was time to go home and eat pancakes and eggs for dinner!).  I think I'll go back today.  And tomorrow!

Anywho, I didn't take pictures of the pancakes, because they were totally cheating the food blogging rules.  I just made regular pancakes (from the boxed mix) and added crumbled sausage in there.  Sausage pancakes are delicious, but making pancakes from a box isn't really cooking, nor is it a recipe.  Neither is scrambled eggs.  So I'm going to blog about lemon chicken with lemon pepper pappardelle.  Its a bit more blog-worthy, methinks.

Lemon Chicken Breasts
Source:  Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? cookbook by Ina Garten

1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just one minute — but don't allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt, and pour into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in eight wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for two minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roast Pork Loin with Bacon and Brown Sugar Glaze

Surprise!  I made more pork tenderloin.  It feels like that's what I'm blogging about like every other day.  I mean, pork tenderloin is delish, and so easy and the leftovers can be used in so many ways.  But I probably need to branch out.  Of course, "branching out" to me doesn't mean that I should make more chicken...it means that I should make more lamb, fresh seafood, and filet mignons.  I'm sure my husband would be thrilled...until he looked at the credit card bill.  But lamb chops and crab legs = airlines miles!  Right?

Today is Sunday, and you know what that means?  Laziness!  Andrew is out of town and Miss Lola was under the impression that 5:45 was a good time to wake up for the day.  Usually Daddy has morning duty (because he's crazy and likes getting up early), and I was hoping Lola would realize that he's not here and that she should sleep in.  Guess she didn't get the memo.  So I think its nap time (in case you are wondering, its totally acceptable to take a nap before 9 AM) and then my favorite time of week - Sunday menu planning!!!  I really need to figure out when I became such a huge dork.....

Anyway, I found this pork on Georgia's blog, The Comfort of Cooking.  Check it out....she's very talented and takes BEAUTIFUL photos.  The pork was wonderful....hard to go wrong with bacon and brown sugar, eh?

Roast Pork Loin with Bacon and Brown Sugar Glaze
Source: The Comfort of Cooking

1 boneless pork loin, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
2 slices bacon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Heat oven to 350° F. Place pork loin in a roasting pan or deep casserole dish lined with aluminum foil. Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl and rub over the pork. Cut each strip of bacon in half and lay strips over the pork loin. Roast for about 40 minutes.

Combine the brown sugar, flour, cider vinegar, and dry mustard in a saucepan. Simmer for 1 minute. Spoon over the pork and return to the oven. Roast for about 15 minutes longer, or until pork registers 160°. Let sit for 2 minutes after removing from oven. Slice and serve.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Source: Adapted from Ask Your Neighbor

1 medium head cauliflower
3 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry chives, for garnish
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
few drizzles of truffle oil

Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.

Clean and cut the cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook the garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Drain the cauliflower well; do not let cool and pat it very dry between several layers of paper towels.

In the bowl of a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the truffle oil, cream cheese, Parmesan, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper until almost smooth.

Garnish with chives, if desired.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Burgers and Babies. And Big Baller Career Moves.

Remember my post awhile ago when I pretended I was pregnant for a second and then confessed that the "little one I was expecting" was actually just a dog?  Remember how funny that was!?!?

Well, now I have another baby announcement, and its a HUMAN BABY!

And her name is Blair and she is my brand new niece!!  I haven't met her yet, as she lives in Georgia and she was born less than 24 hours ago, but I've seen pictures and she is PRECIOUS!  I just wanna squeeze her, but I'll refrain because she's a tiny little thing and I wouldn't want to make her poop (more than she already does).

I'm sad that I am not there to squeeze her and love on her, but I'll be there soon.  Because I start a new job on Monday and with said new job I'll be traveling to Georgia a lot so I get to see the little peanut and her amazing parents (my brother and sister-in-law).  Win-win situation!

I'm pretty psyched about my new gig.  My first day is Monday and I can't remember a time when I was this excited to go to work.  That's pretty cool in my book....if you always lose the lottery like I do, and you have to work for a living, you may as well be doing something you love, right?  Right!

Anyway, I'm having a pretty darn good time with life these days.  New adorable family members, new job that refreshes my psyched-ed-ness (I know that's not a word) about my career, spending time with my sweet puppy and her daddy (of the human variety), and the cooking and eating of delicious food.  How can life be even better? 

Oh, what?  How can life be better, you ask?  Well, on the off chance that the powers that be are listening, let's list a few things that could make life a LITTLE bit better, shall we?  We'll start with Yours Truly miraculously losing 20 pounds.  And having her underwater rental condo sell tomorrow for twice what its worth (or spontaneously combust).  And what about bathrooms?  Will they EVER clean themselves??  Oh!  And the weird thing that's happened with my hair lately....can we stop that?  Hair should be either straight, or curly.  Not both, not in between, not one version one day and the other the next, and CERTAINLY not straight in the front and curly in the back.  That's just wrong. 

And, as long as I'm asking....I'd like world peace.  For real.  I really, honestly would.  The state of the world makes me really, really sad, and I wish we could find a way to love more and hate less.

And once again, my blog post is a random assortment of thoughts and rambles, and has nothing to do with the recipe/photo I happen to want to share.  I've said it before and I'll say it again....tough toenails.  I think my readers (ie my immediate family) would appreciate this blog less if my posts just said, "I made this cheeseburger and it was yummy" every day. 

So!  Here's a BBQ chicken burger that I made and it was yummy.

BBQ Chicken Burgers
Source: How Sweet It Is

1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup BBQ sauce – use homemade or your favorite!
4 whole wheat buns
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
BBQ sauce for topping
gouda cheese for topping

In a large bowl, combine chicken, BBQ sauce, paprika, onion and garlic powder, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese. Mix until just combined, then form 4 patties. Preheat the grill or a skillet and cook the burgers until fully cooked through. I used a skillet and cooked mine about 8 minutes per side – they were juicy and not dried out, but cooked thoroughly.

While burgers are cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add sliced onions with a pinch of salt and saute until caramelized, about 10 minutes.

When burgers are ready, top with gouda (or more cheddar), onions, tomato, BBQ sauce and fresh romaine (I used arugula).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pasta Fresca and My Home Office

You know what I love?  Working from home.  Granted, my current job isn't a "work from home" job, but I do it from time to time if I have some good reason or something that needs taking care of here on the home front.  Or if its a really quiet day and I think no one will miss me (they don't usually).  Today, the thing that is keeping me home is my sweet puppy, Lola.  And also a little bit that I didn't feel like getting dressed.

Anyway, Lola has gotten big (and smart) enough to get on our bed if she takes a running start and uses the bench at the foot of our bed as a stepping stone.  She LOVES getting on the bed but knows she's not allowed (we are a NO DOGS ON THE FURNITURE kind of family).  So once she's up there and gets caught, she gets down as soon she hears the words, "No Ma'am!!", usually via a flying leap off the side.  Today she got a little caught up and took an awkward fall and then laid on her back, looked up at us with her pitiful little eyes, and cried about her hurt foot.  Broke my darn heart, and even got my out of the bed at the ungodly hour of 6:30 AM.  Now that is love, folks.  Anyway, her foot seems to be fine and she's not limping any more.  But she seemed sad when I was getting up and started getting ready for work.  She followed me everywhere, including the bathroom, and just looked at me with her puppy dog eyes, as if to say, "don't leave me, Mommy!!".  So, I didn't.  And now I'm in the den, working on a project (with blogging breaks of course), pork tenderloin in the oven, a sleeping puppy on my feet and Law and Order SVU in the background.  Nice little Tuesday.  If anyone ever tells you its not okay to stay home because your dog seems sad, they are wrong.

So, this recipe has nothing to do with sad puppies or working from home, but its next on the list of "recipes to post", so here we are.  It was inspired by my friend Whitney, who cooked this for us last time we had a girl's get together night at her house.  I literally had to sit on my hands to keep myself from getting thirds.  Its really that good (and I really have that little self control).  My husband was a little miffed that I deigned to serve him a meal that lacked meat, but I think he really liked it nonetheless.  He suggests adding sausage, which I'm sure would be good, and would also be a great way to make a calorie-heavy recipe completely, unacceptably unhealthy.  Just sayin'.

Pasta Fresca
Source: Noodles and Company

2 1/2 cups pre-cooked farfalle pasta
1/4 cup cubed roma tomato
1 tablespoon diced red onion
2 dashes kosher salt, and
1 ounce baby fresh spinach (I used arugula)
1/4 cup fresh garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sweet white wine

In a very hot sauté pan, add: extra virgin olive oil, pre-cooked farfalle (bow-tie pasta), roma tomatoes, diced red onions, kosher salt & cracked pepper.

Sear noodles, stirring occasionally until steaming hot.

Add: baby fresh spinach (I used chopped arugula), 1 oz. fresca sauce.   Toss to combine, serve with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

FRESCA SAUCE: (for 15 servings) 1/4 cup fresh garlic, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup sweet white wine, 1 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back to the Grind

Well, we survived a week at the beach with the family.  We're all a little browner and a little decent amount fatter.  There was a lot of eating, a lot of drinking, and a lot of game playing.  Turns out that there are people on this earth that are more competitive than I am, and those people happen to be my brother Mike, my sister Martha, and my sister's husband, who is appropriately nicknamed "The Ronimal".  Luckily the only injuries were bruised (destroyed) egos, and a few morning headaches.  Could have been worse.

There are a lot of things about these whack jobs I call my family that people should know.  I think I'll share a few of the most interesting ones....

The players: Myself (not a whack job), my husband Andrew, my parents (Dr. Frank and Jan), my sister Martha (her nickname is "Ugly"), her husband "The Ronimal", my brother Mike, and his wife Melissa. 

Fact #1: There are a lot of card games out there that require bidding, strategy, and then some dumb luck.  If you want to play any of these games with any combination of the cast of characters above, you can expect that, even if you win, you will be interrogated, scoffed at, and downright ridiculed for any move you make.  Because, after all, the best people to take advice from is the people who lost, right?  The most common phrases I remember from the week are, "well...I would've played it better if I were you", "why did you do THAT!?!?", "that sure was a lucky break since you didn't KNOW the Ace wasn't out there", and "who leads with the Jack of Trump!?!?"

Fact #2: If you make a mistake, do something ditsy, or commit any sort of real or perceived faux-paus, my family will never, ever let you forget it.  You will be mocked for life, often publicly, so you should just go ahead and get used to it.  Even if your last "incident" occurred when you were 8.  They'll remember it, and tell you what a moronic 8-year-old you were.  A week with the fam is a sure-fire way to get your ego in check.

Fact #3: If you are on vacation, anything goes.  Popsicles for breakfast, beer at 10:30 AM, cocktails at lunch, multiple naps on the same day, third helpings of dinner if its especially good, and going entire days without ingesting vegetables.  All good in our book.

Fact #4: Beach air makes normally voluminous hair bigger than what one would think is humanly possible.  I can't think of a better example than the man we call The Ronimal.  I wish I had pictures.

Fact #5: Boccie Ball is the dumbest game ever invented.  And NO, that is not because I am terrible and didn't score a single point the entire week.  Not entirely, at least.

I think I'm done with fun facts for now.  I wouldn't want to embarrass myself my family and more than is necessary.  It was a wonderful week and everyone had a blast.  I feel lucky that a week with my family is a pleasure, filled with laughter and awesome memories.  A lot of people don't have that, so I am very thankful for that.  I love those crazy whack jobs, I really do.

I don't have a lot of recipes to share, but rather just some photos.  Hope you enjoy, and I'll be back in the cooking blog saddle tomorrow!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Caribbean-Lime Pork Chops with Mango-Lime BBQ Sauce. And Vacation!

You know what's awesome?  The fact that the older you get, the cooler and funnier your parents seem to get, too.  Its like one of those sliding scales (or a bell curve?) or something.  I used to not think my Dad was funny AT ALL (unless by "funny" you mean "debilitatingly embarassing"), and neither did my siblings.  Now he is hilarious!  Like the funniest guy alive.

We're going to the beach with my parents and both my siblings and their spouses tomorrow for a week.  I don't think I've spent a whole week with either of my siblings or my parents since high school.  I'm sure it'll be fine...I mean, we like each other a lot when we're together for 2 days, so I'm sure that means we'll LOVE each other a WHOLE lot for if we're together for 7.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Anyway, I'm super excited for Beach Week 2011.  Its going to be just like beach week in high school except that the house is nicer and we look less attractive in our bathing suits.  And we'll drink fine wine istead of Boone's Farm Diet Coke.

We'll probably be cooking a ton, so I might keep up the blog while I'm gone.  Or I might not.  We'll just have to see!

Anyway, I realized I had one more recipe in my file that I hadn't posted yet, so here you go.  Made these pork chops the other night and they were delcious.  They were a little over-cooked (damn you, the "other white meat", why are you so hard to cook perfectly!??!), but still yummy.  The BBQ sauce helped that a bit.  Enjoy!

Caribbean-Lime Pork Chops with Mango-Lime BBQ Sauce

6 pork chops (I only used 2)
juice of 2 limes
lime zest
Mrs. Dash Caribbean Citrus Spice

1 mango
1 lime + zest
dash of Caribbean Citrus Spice
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
salt and pepper

To make marinade: zest and juice limes over top of pork chops in a baking dish. Sprinkle spice over both sides of chops, then toss cilantro on top. Cover and marinade for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat grill. Add pork chops and grill until cooked through.
Make sauce. Peel and cut up mango. Place mango chunks into small sauce pan over medium heat-cook until slightly softened. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened.
Pour sauce over pork chop, squeeze lime over and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Herbed Balsamic Chicken with Blue Cheese

I don't really have anything exciting to share today.  Its hotter than the devil's toenail around here in Virginia and we leave for a week at the beach on Saturday.  I'm just concentrating on getting through the workdays and enjoying my evenings (while cooking with wine of course).  I'm dreaming of lounging on the beach and eating delicious seafood and laughing with the fam.  I haven't had a whole week off since our honeymoon a year and a half ago!

This chicken dish was juicy and flavorful and we both enjoyed it even though my husband declared the blue cheese to be "disgusting and borderline creepy".  He sure did gobble it up, though, so I guess it wasn't THAT creepy.

I served this with roasted purple cauliflower (I won't even repeat my husband's comments about THAT) and grilled romaine hearts with blue cheese dressing and cherry tomatoes.  Yum!

Herbed Balsamic Chicken with Blue Cheese
Source: Gourmet: Day to Day

3 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
6 tablespoons crumbled blue or gorgonzola cheese

Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag. Whisk vinegar, 3 tablespoons oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Add to chicken; seal bag. Chill 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack generously with oil. Arrange chicken on grill. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Grill chicken until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side (longer for bone in chicken, should be 165 degrees for the internal temp). Transfer to plates; top each piece of chicken with about 1 tablespoon of crumbled blue cheese immediately so that cheese begins to melt.

Roasted Cauliflower with Goat Cheese
Source: Adapted from Epicurious

1 head cauliflower (I used purple), cut into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Roast at 425 for 20 minutes or until fork tender.  Add goat cheese and put back in oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese.

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Blue Cheese

Cut hearts in half and drizzle some olive oil over them.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Grill face down for 2-3 minutes.  Top with blue cheese dressing and halved cherry tomatoes.