Thursday, July 30, 2009

Damn Good Grilled Pork

Chris from Nibble Me This calls this Porkus Chopus Maximus, but I just call them Damn Good. Because brining is so versatile. it has become status quo for me especially with grilling.

Chris used thick cut bone in pork chops. Our local grocer had these lean, thick cut boneless chops on sale for $1.99 per lb. I just had to buy them!

The brine consisted of 2 cups of apple juice, 2 cups of water, 3/4 of a cup of turbinado sugar and 1/2 cup of coarse kosher salt. The pork chops were placed in a large re-sealable plastic bag and the brine poured over the chops. The chops were allowed to brine in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

After brining, rinse and towel off the pork chops and add your massage your favorite dry rub on these babies. I used 1/4 cup turbinado sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup smokey paprika, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 tablespoon chipolte powder.

Sear the chops on both sides and then move them to in direct heat until they have an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Allow the chops to rest and the juices re-distribute for about 5 minutes.

You won't need any side dishes, these chops are total beasts all by themselves!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mix it up for MDA

The folks over at Carrabba's Italian Grill have been kind enough to ask me to pass the word along to all of you for their fundraiser benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association. As if that weren't enough, they also sent along a recipe for one of their new signature menu items!

Stop by Carrabba's Italian Grill for a worthy cause, great food and fantastic cocktails!

Carrabba’s Italian Grill “Mix it up for MDA” Event

What: “Mix it Up for MDA” Event, a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association

When: Thursday, July 30th from 5 p.m. to close

Cost: $15 a person

Admission includes a sampling of four food items from the new Mr. C’s Bar Menu and, for guests 21 years and older, one of three signature cocktails (Blackberry Lemonade, the Italian Lemon Drop or Blackberry Fields Martini) or another drink on the Mr. C’s list. In addition to monies raised from event admission, Carrabba’s also will donate $1 to MDA for each of the three signature drinks sold from July 30 – August 6.

Where: To find Carrabba’s locations near you, visit

Recipe: Chicken Parmesan Piccolinos


8 oz breast split Chicken breast, pounded thin (1/4 inch)
* Kosher salt and black pepper (to taste)
1 Beaten egg
2 Cups Seasoned breadcrumbs
2 oz Olive oil
4 oz Hot pomodoro sauce
1 oz Grated romano cheese
2 slices Mozzarella
4 slices Italian mini sandwich bread

1. Season chicken on both sides with the kosher salt and black pepper. Dip chicken breast into beaten egg and then coat with the seasoned breadcrumbs.

2. Heat olive oil, medium heat in a Teflon-coated skillet. Make sure the oil is hot before placing breaded chicken into the pan otherwise breading will absorb oil and not brown properly. Sauté chicken breast on both sides until golden brown.

3. Place chicken on a baking pan. Spread the pomodoro sauce evenly over the chicken and sprinkle with romano cheese, and top with mozzarella.

4. Melt cheese under broiler until lightly browned.

5. Cut to size and serve on Italian mini sandwich bread.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Shrimp Riviera

I sure missed ya'll this week. I got an emergency call to help out some CPA's in a bind and have been up to my eyeballs in petty cash receipts, tax forms and Excel spreadsheets. I can't wait to get caught up on your blogs!

I do have a treat to leave you with this weekend and it's called Shrimp Riviera. My husband found this in my River Roads II cookbook and he sure did pick a winner! We tweaked it just a tad and I'm telling you, you have to have to give this a try! This is Cajun cuisine with a Mediterranean flair!

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped celery
1/2 medium onion sliced
1 medium tomato chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon flour
1 can diced tomatoes (14 ounce)
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounce)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup sliced black olives

Heat olive oil and melt butter in a large skillet. Saute celery, onions and tomato (this particular tomato came from our garden) over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, add garlic and saute 2 more minutes.

Sprinkle in flour and stir for about 5 to 7 minutes. You want to cook the flour and let it turn light brown.

Add tomatoes.

Then add tomato sauce and parsley, oregano and salt. Stir and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Sauce may be a little thick. You can add 1/2 cup of water to thin it out a bit.

Add shrimp and olives and continue cooking until shrimp are done.

Serve over fluffy white rice with some garlic read and a crispy romaine salad.
On Monday, tell everyone what an incredible weekend you had!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mint Brownies

In the beginning...when I first started this blog and had exactly ZERO comments for the first four months or so, I posted a recipe for Sinful Brownies. Brownies, I just love, love, love them! I can't describe the attraction or how my eyes roll to the back of my head. It could be the chocolate, I dunno.

The idea for these delectable brownies came from a recipe that Mary Beth from Dunkin Cooking the Semi-Homemade Way posted last week for a Chocolate Mint Cake. I mean really, who wouldn't like these? You can enjoy a decadent dessert AND enjoy fresh breath at the same time. This is a multi-taking dessert!

Are you drooling yet? Do you want the recipe?

You will need 2 boxes, yes TWO, of your favorite plain old brownie mix. Nothing with nuts in them, no death by chocolate, just plain brownie mix. You will need 2 boxes of Andes Chocolate Mints. I think each pack contains about 27 mints, wrapped in a green foil wrapper.
Prepare the brownie mix per the package directions. Pour half of the batter in a 9x13 baking pan. Unwrap all of the mints and gently place them on top of the batter. Pour the rest of the batter over the top and bake per the package directions for a 9x13 pan.

I can't describe it, just enjoy and then go breathe on others!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Spicy Brandied Chicken

If you're looking for a simple, tasty, elegant chicken dish, look no further. This is a savory show stopper! Talk about take the ho-hum out of the mid-week menu!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped chives
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken on the both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the skillet and brown on both sides completely, about 7 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Place the skillet back on the burner over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms and saute, stirring, about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Then add the thyme leaves and garlic, and season well with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the burner and add the brandy, return to burner and cook until almost evaporated. Add the cream and cook that down 2 to 3 minutes until reduced by about one-half and thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and adjust seasonings. Return chicken to skillet and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Garnish with chopped chives and serve with penne pasta and a fresh salad!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Zesty Croutons

Woohoo! I am back from my unexpected absence. Thank all of you who left comments and sent emails looking for me. I had to get busy and very serious with the job hunt. I have some irons in the fire and am hoping to have something positive to report to you very soon.

First, I want to thank Marguerite from Cajun Delights for passing along the Noblesse Oblige Award. Marguerite has a fantastic blog wherein she posts wonderful Cajun recipes and short videos showcasing the Cajun experience. i cherish Marguerite's friendship. Merci Beaucoup, Marguerite!

The recipient of this award is recognized for the following:
• The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade amongst different cultures and beliefs
• Their Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage, and offers solutions
• There is a clear purpose at the Blog: one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Cultures, Sciences, and Beliefs
• The Blog is refreshing and creative; and The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking
The requirements of the person receiving the award are as follows:
• Create a post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award
• The Award Conditions must be displayed at the Post
• Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved – preferably citing one or more older posts as support
• The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions- Blogger must display the Award at any location at their Blog

I started Smoky Mountain Cafe because I thought it would be fun sharing my love of cooking. It has been a blast way beyond my wildest imagination. I wanted to share my Cajun heritage reflected in my cooking because where I come from it's all about the food. Major life events are recalled by what was served so whatever you serve has to be memorable.

Now for the fun part of passing this prestigious award on.

A Duck in Her Pond


Chez What

Burp and Slurp

My Tasty Treasures

Suburb Sanity

Words cannot express how blessed and how appreciative I truly am to each and everyone of you, my dear bloggie friends, who take the time to visit, encourage and support me with your thoughtful comments. Your friendship is a really treasure, you are all the best!!

Second, I would like to thank Heather from Stuck on a Lunatic for nominating Smoky Mountain Cafe as a Tasty Blog for the BlogLuxe Awards. A great big thank you Heather for nominating me and another great, big thank you to those that voted for me.

Third, thank you Charlotte from Canning Jars Etc. for the following award.

Charlotte is the go to blog for any canning how-to's and recipes. I want to can everything I find!

To get this award, I have to name 7 things about myself that you might find interesting.

1. I am going stir crazy being home and not working - power to the stay at home moms!
2. Most of my fresh herbs are homegrown. I'll have to take some pictures and post them...note to self.
3. I love terrorizing my husband by grabbing one of his power tools and walking past him mumbling about fixing something. It REALLY freaks him out. Hey, I'm broke, I like to be entertained.
4. It's been one year since I smoked I smoked a cigarette.
5. I Tweet, but deep down, I think it's stupid.
6. Anytime I see someone in a U.S. military uniform, I thank them.
7. I am politically ultra-conservative and wonder how happy people are with "Change".

I nominate the following people to receive this award:

1. Teresa from a Blog About Food
2. Cathy from Accountants Can Cook
3. Marguerite from Cajun Delights
4. Sam from My Carolina Kitchen
5. Mary from My New 30
6. Claudia from Journey of an Italian Cook
7. Dar from Girlichef

To accept this award do the following

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Now let's get to the food portion of this post!

Many of us are stretching our dollars these days. Every wonder what to do with leftover bread? Make croutons! Not only is this a thrifty little gem, it's so tasty, easy and versatile, you'll stop buying croutons. Just read, watch and try!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use any kind of leftover of bread you have on hand. Go with at least 6 slices and cube them. Place the cubes in a large bowl.

Season the bread with just about anything your heart desires; be creative, be bold! I used season salt, onion powder, lemon pepper, garlic powder, dried basil. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. using your hands toss the cubes to evenly coat with seasonings and olive oil.

Layer bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place baking sheet in preheated 400 degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

See, I told you these are easier and better tasting!