Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grilled Kickin' Turkey Sliders

Who doesn't like a big, thick, juicy burger covered in melted cheese dripping with your favorite sauce and/or condiments?  We toil away to fashion our burger into our ultimate burger fantasy.  The thing is, when I'm almost halfway through that big, thick, juicy burger, covered in cheese and sauce is dripping down to my elbows, a dark cloud moves in over me and sheer bliss turns into sheer misery.

Sliders have turned my sheer bliss into, well, actually kept sheer bliss alive and well.  I can eat one and no cloud, no misery, no guilt.  Sometimes if I dare, I can start on a second slider and still no cloud.  It's amazing.

I've also learned another trick.  I sometimes use half lean ground beef and half ground turkey.  Sometimes it's all ground turkey.  As long as no one sees the package, my family doesn't know the difference.

I didn't know the first time I made sliders that there was no such thing as "slider buns".  Check out the bakery department  in your grocery and pick out a dinner roll that you like or if you're really ambitious, make your own.

Kickin' Slider Sauce

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream (don't use fat-free)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce of choice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.


2-1/2 pounds ground turkey or lean ground beef
2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons goat cheese
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons grill seasoning (McCormick's Montreal Steak)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Low fat margarine spread or butter
Garlic powder
8 slider sized dinner rolls or buns
4 slices pepper jack cheese, cut in half
4 slices hickory smoked bacon, cut in half and fried crisp
Kickin' Slider Sauce

In a large mixing bowl, break up the meat with your hands. Add the chopped shallot, garlic, goat cheese (this give the burger a little sumpin', sumpin'), grill seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste. Thoroughly combine with your hands.

Divide the meat into 8 equal portions and form them into small patties.  Press an indent in the center of each patty with your thumb.  I've heard this indent will prevent the burgers from puffing up while cooking.   It works.

Heat your grill to medium-high heat and spray grated with non-stick cooking spray. If using ground turkey, you shouldn't have "flame-ups" since the meat won't be expelling any fat.  Grill the burgers uncovered, for 5 minutes on the first side. Flip and continue cooking for another 5 until cooked thoroughly. Top the patties with a one-half slice of pepper jack cheese.  Once the cheese has melted, remove from grill, tent with foil to keep warm.  Spread the margarine or butter the buns, sprinkle with a little garlic powder and place on the grill butter side down. Toast for about 1 minute and remove from grill.

Assemble your burger by placing a cheesy patty on the toasted bun, ladling a generous helping of Kickin' Sauce over the patty and topping it with a half slice of bacon.

Look!  No clouds!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Turnovers.

Springtime in the cooking blogosphere brings about a plethora of strawberry-rhubarb creations.  Over the past three years I've become very curious about rhubarb because I have not not cooked or baked with it before or have I tasted it.  Rhubarb seems to be a little strange.  It looks like red celery so how can it be the Springtime partner for strawberries in Spring? 

Guy Fieri made this on his show a few weeks ago and decided I would give it a try.  The method was easy enough and the turnovers were good, but I didn't find that the rhubarb added and special flavor or texture.  I don't anticipate making any rhubarb pies in the near future.

One thing I did learn about rhubarb that I haven't seen anyone post is rhubarb does have stringy fibers much like celery.  The stringy fibers need to be removed before you begin chopping up the rhubarb or you will be pulling stringy things out of you mouth while you are tyring to eat your dessert. 

Here's what you will need:

1/4 cup water, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint strawberries, stems removed, plus a few extra sliced for garnish
3/4 cup fresh or frozen rhubarb, (if fresh peel outside layer to remove stringy fibers), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs, divided
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, from 1 (17-ounce) package, thawed according to package directions
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Over medium-high heat, in a small non-reactive pot, combine 1/4 cup water, strawberries, rhubarb and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Allow it to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until thickened.

While the strawberries and rhubarb are getting acquainted, you can begin chopping up the pistachios and set them aside. Then in a small bowl, add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Every so often, while preparing ingredients, stir with a small fork to combine. The sugar with absorb the vanilla.

When the fruit has broken down, and gotten thick, remove the pot from heat and allow the strawberry mixture to cool to room temperature. When cool, strain off any extra liquid.

Very carefully unfold the two sheets of the thawed puff pastry.  Roll out the pastry sheet if necessary to smooth out.  Cut each sheet into 4 equal squares. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and add 1 tablespoon of water.

In a medium bowl, combine the rhubarb-strawberry mixture with the cream cheese, sour cream, 1 egg, lemon zest and pistachios.  Place about 2 tablespoons of the cup filling inside each square and brush the outer edges of the pastry with egg wash. Fold the pastry over to form a triangle and seal. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar.

Transfer to the turnovers to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish top with powdered sugar and sliced strawberries

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops with a Savory Lager Sauce

Luxury to me is sitting outside, sipping a cocktail, listening to music, visiting with friends, grilling, and eating of life's most appreciated gifts.  My family gets really happy when the weekend rolls around because they know were are cooking outside pretty much the whole weekend. 

Do you know what makes grilled beef, pork or chicken even better?  A dipping sauce!  Just gotta have sauce and not just any sauce, but a richly flavored savory sauce.

So come along children, let's get started:

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press or minced
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon blackberry preserves
1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup lager
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 to 4 center cut pork chops
Kosher salt and and freshly ground black pepper

Squeeze the lime juice in a small bowl, whisk in the ketchup, mustard, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce; set aside.

In a small pot over medium to medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the onion and garlic until softened, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the lager to thoroughly combine.

Add in the preserves and the reserved ketchup mixture.  Bring to a bubble, but not to a rapid boil.  Then simmer until sauce is reduced to about 1-1/2 cups, about 30 minutes.

Thought I forgot about the cayenne, didn't you?  Okay, this where you add in the cayenne.  If 2 teaspoons of cayenne seems a bit much, it really isn't but you can be prudent and use 1 teaspoon.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to slightly cool.  If you're anxious like me, dip in a potato chip or six in for a quality check, but beware of what happens when you do this and forget to put the meat on the grill...just saying.  Not that it happened, but it could.  Okay, it kinda did a little.

Preheat the grill to medium. Pour 1 cup of sauce into a bowl for serving and dipping at the table and put the rest in a container for basting.  Season the chops with salt and pepper. Grill steak about 3 minutes per side.  Brush the sauce on one side of the chops, close the lid and cook for 3 more minutes.  Flip and repeat.  Plate the chops and allow to rest for 5 minutes and serve with sauce on side.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"That" Salmon or Grilled Sesame Salmon

In my family, which happens to be dominated by females (even our canine is a female), more often than not, I am in the minority.  I love salmon, could eat it three or four times a week.  A.J. won't eat salmon.  His fish groups are catfish and trout and the trout better be speckled trout.  I can easily pass off talapia and orange roughy on him.  As for the homegirlz,  Lauren won't eat fish; she's more of a fried shrimp kind of a Cajun.  Kaitlin only eats catfish and only if it's fried and thin and crispy.

When I happen to be home alone for the evening, which isn't very often, I get giddy.  The freedom!!!  On these rare and special nights I can grill salmon. 

The evenings have become very pleasant lately.  I turn on the satellite radio and listen to my new favorite station, sip a little wine, stare at the mountains and fire up the grill.

If you like a little Asian flare, try this one out!

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for brushing on salmon

1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (4 ounce) salmon steaks

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the shallots and garlic and saute until soft.


While the veggies are sauteing, brush the salmon on both sides with oil.

Season with salt and pepper.

Once the vegetables have softened, stir in the hoisin, ketchup, honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce and fish sauce and continue cooking for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

Remove from the heat, stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat the grill to high. If you have a slotted grill pan, use it to prevent the fish from falling through the grates.   Place salmon on a grill pan skin side down, turn after about 90 seconds to sear the other side. Return salmon to skin side down , lower heat to medium and grill over indirect heat. Brush salmon with sauce and close the top.  Grill until slightly charred on both sides. Continue to brush salmon with the sauce every minute or so until you reach the desired doneness, approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side.


Remove the salmon from grill to a plate and brush with more sauce. Allow fish to rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives and serve

I'm not going to lie, I was planning on eating both of them (don't judge), but A.J. got home early and ate it.  Yes he did, now he likes "that" salmon.

Here's Lauren's senior proofs...she got here way too fast!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

We're not normally traditional big breakfast eaters in the morning.  Breakfast food for dinner and we're all over it! 

None of us can eat as soon as we get up.  During the week with work and school or now that it's summertime, the girls have soccer conditioning very early every morning, we don't eat a traditional breakfast.  On the weekends from time to time, I decide I want to make a big breakfast and EVERYONE better eat it!

When A.J. and I were on our honeymoon, he ordered Huevos Rancheros every morning for breakfast.  Being the Stepford wife that I am (NOT), I wanted to try my hand at Huevos Rancheros.  I looked over several recipes online and kind of tailored one I wanted to try. 

I have to be honest, this was a pretty labor intensive undertaking and totally worth the work.  We all loved it!  The portions I served were way more than our appetites could handle.  Cut the serving size in half because this is way too delicious to waste.  

1 (15-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro plus 1 tablespoon, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed
Canola or Vegetable oil
4 (6-inch) flour or corn tortillas (2 tortillas per person)
1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
4 eggs
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
3/4 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons light sour cream

Open the can of re-fried beans and place in a small pot.  Heat over low heat, partially covered, until heated through.

In a food processor, puree the tomatoes and juice, onion, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place mixture in a medium skillet and heat to a simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm over low heat.  Talk about smell good!

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, break up and cook the chorizo until browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the Chorizo to the skillet with the tomato mixture and keep covered.  Leave the Chorizo fat in the large skillet, this is major flavor!

Add 1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil to the Chorizo fat in the large skillet, reduce heat to medium. Using tongs, place a tortilla in the skillet and cook until light golden but not crisp, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer to plates, two tortillas per plate. As you are cooking the remaining tortillas, add a little bit more oil to the skillet because the tortillas will absorb the oil.

Since all that's left to cook is the eggs, and they will cook quickly, you will need to begin assembling.  Spread the re-fried beans on the tortillas.

Begin cooking the eggs by adding another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Working in batches, crack the eggs into the skillet. Cook until the bottoms are set and the edges golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until set, about 1 minute more. Place one egg on each tortilla and ladle the tomato mixture over the eggs garnish with the diced avocado, shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.  Top with the additional  cilantro.
So if you have the time and inclination this weekend and the daddy in your house enjoys this type of cuisine, surprise him!  He will appreciate the pampering.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shrimp Scampi

Simple, quick, savory and tastes oh so wonderful.  I love serving Shrimp Scampi over linguine.  Believe it or not where I come from, in South Louisiana, many folks prefer Shrimp Scampi served over rice.  This is definitely a pasta dish and linguine is just wide enough and has the perfect texture to get the right amount of this savory lemony, buttery, garlic sauce partying with your taste buds.  Angel hair just doesn't have enough body to stand up to this sauce.

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon crushed capers
1/2 stick of butter, divided
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
2 teaspoons Emeril's Essence
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1/2 lb. linguine cooked al dente

Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saute skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes and quickly turn them. 

Add the garlic and capers to the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds, Toss the shrimp.

Add the vermouth and lemon juice and cook for about 1 minute. Toss the shrimp.

Lightly season with salt and pepper and add Emeril's Essence.  Toss to combine seasonings.  Add cooked and drained linguine and the parsley to the skillet.  Toss to thoroughly combine.

This is just way too easy to be this awes-a-licious!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lemon Chicken Drumsticks

Did your mom make Lemon Chicken or Lemon Pepper chicken when you were a child?  Mine did, a lot.  It was the 70's we hadn't heard of cholesterol, we were fat, dumb and happy.  We also drowned ourselves in Green Goddess salad dressing.  Mom's Lemon Chicken was greasy, lemony and garnished with a lot of paprika.  She would ladle the clear, golden colored, lemony grease from the baking dish she cooked the chicken in and ladle it on our instant mashed potatoes. We liked it, we liked it a lot, grease tasted good back then! The cool part was we got to use a lot of paper napkins and the napkins would stick to our hands!  Hey, my brothers and I were grateful for nights without sliced beets on our salads and liver and onions on my plate, pass the Heinz 57 please!

Now you get the picture, this dish has evolved plus who doesn't like a chicken drumstick.  Drumsticks are not only very budget friendly, food on a stick is just plain fun.  You can eat your dinner and feel like you're on a picnic or at the county fair.  It's summertime, relax and get your hands dirty.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
10 - 12 chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Dried thyme
6 cloves of garlic, grated
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Heat  a large high-sided  skillet with a tightly fitted lid with the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. While the skillet is heating up, season the chicken with salt, pepper and dried thyme.

Once the butter has melted and begins to foam, carefully place the drumsticks in the skillet and brown on all sides. Place the lid on the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking chicken for about 20 minutes.

Remove the drumsticks and place on a serving platter.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet.  Once the butter has melted, add the grated garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.  Stir continuously for a minute or two.  Keep the garlic moving so it doesn't burn.  Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Remove skillet from heat and gently stir to combine.  Pour pan sauce over the drumsticks and garnish with chopped parsley and chopped chives.

Look mom, the less grease and no paprika!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chive and Cheddar Biscuits

Imagine my surprise when I found a package of washed chives in the fridge from a couple of nights ago that I had forgotten about.  I couldn't let these babies go to waste so I put them on the counter and thought about what to do with them.  Something easy, something that wouldn't  require a huge commitment.

 Remember my Favorite Biscuits?  A couple of additions and talk about awesome!  So now you know how versatile these biscuits are.

2 cups self rising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped Italian Parsley (optional)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1½ cups heavy whipping cream

Don't have have self-rising flour, no problem!  You can turn your AP flour into self-rising flour in a snap! For each cup of self-rising flour, use one cup of all-purpose flour and add 1-1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Mix all of the ingredients together until dough forms a ball using a fork or your hands. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. Roll dough out to ½ inch thickness and cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Siplat and bake at 425F for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.

Have a great weekend and use sun block!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Relish

Well summer has slammed us overnight.  Let's be honest, with temperatures raging at 90 plus, who feels like putting a whole lot of effort into standing over a stove and cooking?  Not me, that's for sure. 

Hot or cold weather, my family has some really bad habits, they like to eat.  They like to eat several times a day; the weather does not affect them. Someone has to make dinner; you guessed it, it's me.

Pork Chops with Garlic Relish sounds, looks and tastes like a lot of effort goes into this dish, but just between me and you, it couldn't be more effortless.  Since so many of you shared your undying love of garlic with me recently, the garlic relish will put you in seventh heaven!

Watch I'll show you...

Garlic Relish - 

4 large heads garlic, each cut in half crosswise
1/4 cup plus a couple of drizzles of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on the cut side of the garlic heads, then sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper.  Place the garlic heads cut side down in a small foil lined baking dish.  Add the onion and drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over the onion. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.

Remove the onion and garlic from the oil and squeeze the softened garlic cloves into a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth.

This is what happens when I turn my back to get a fork.  A.J. grabs one of the cut garlic heads and goes after the roasted garlic like it's his last meal.

Stir the Worcestershire and lemon juice into the mashed garlic and continue stirring until smooth and creamy. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. The garlic relish will in the refrigerator in a sealed container for about 2 weeks.

Grilled Pork Chops -

4 bone-in center cut pork chops
Seasoning of your choice, we used Emeril's Essence - recipe follows

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Spray grates with non-stick cooking spray. Liberally season the pork chops and gently rub seasoning into the meat with your fingers. Place the chops on the grill, sear on each side, approximately 5 minutes per side.  Move the chops to indirect heat and continue cooking on both sides until a meat thermometer reaches 150 to 155 degrees F, approximately 7 minutes per side.

Serve pork chops with garlic relish slathered on top. It doesn't get much more effortless than this.

Oh, you saw the biscuit?  I'll have this tasty little devil for you Friday.