Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guinness Beef Stew

 Today is the first day in a long time where the temperature won't climb above the 50's for the high and the low will be in the 40's. Naturally my thoughts turn to cool weather food. Beef stew was what we decided on. 
Beef and Guinness Stew
1 1/2 lb. beef, cut into bite size pieces (I had London Broil that I cut up, but you can use stew meat from grocery store)
2 tsp canola oil
1 bottle Guinness beer
enough beef broth to make 4 1/2 cups of liquid when combined with beer
2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in beef broth and beer
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 large potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
3 carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into small pieces
4 oz mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp cold water

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil. Add the meat and cook until browned. Add the rosemary and pepper. Then add the beef broth/bouillon/beer mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let it simmer for 1 hour.

Add the potatoes, carrots, celery and onion and bring back to boil. While waiting for it to boil mix cornstarch with cold water. When stew starts to boil add cornstarch mixture and let it boil for 1 minute, while stirring. Turn back down to simmer. Let simmer for at least 1 more hour. The longer it cooks the better it is. This is one of those meals where it is even better if you reheat it and eat it the next day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Simple Salmon

This is a simple recipe I found in my files. I am not sure where it came from, so if it is yours let me know. The original recipe only has 3 ingredients, I added a fourth to give it a little kick. If not try it, it's so simple and delicious. The sugar will met and create a glaze.
You could switch out the mustard for another "sticky" substance and add herbs and spices to the sugar for different flavors.

Glazed Salmon

1 salmon filet
Dijon Mustard
Brown Sugar
Cayenne Pepper

Preheat your grill to high.
Spread just enough mustard on the salmon to cover with a thin coat. Next put enough brown sugar to cover the filet on a plate. Mix the cayenne pepper with the figure. Put the salmon, mustard side down into the sugar. Make sure the sugar evenly coats the whole filet. Put the filet on the grill and cook until it reaches the desired doneness. Serve immediately. In the picture I served over sautéed spinach with mushrooms and bacon crumbled over it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork
With college football season gearing up, I thought I would run my favorite tailgating meal. 
This recipe is based on Cook's Illustrated's North Carolina Pulled Pork from Slow Cooker Revolution. I could not find smoked ham hocks so I substituted the bacon for the hocks, hoping to keep the pork flavor but add some smoke flavor. The bacon had completely disintegrated, during the long cooking time. I also switched paprika for smoked paprika to give it more of a smoked flavor. Remember true NC pulled pork sandwiches are served with coleslaw on the bun with the meat.

North Carolina Pulled Pork
6 tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup smoked paprika (original called for regular paprika)
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tbs fresh ground pepper
1 5 pound boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and quartered
6 oz bacon (original called for 3 smoked ham hocks)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Mix 3 tbs of brown sugar, the paprika, chili powder, cumin, 2 tsp salt and 1 tbs pepper in a large bowl. Poke the pork all over with a fork. Roll the pork in the sugar mixture until completely covered. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.

Lay the bacon across the bottom of the slow cooker. Unwrap the pork and lay it on top of the bacon. Pour the broth over the meat. Cover the slow cooker and cook for 5 to 7 hours on high or 9 to 11 hours on low.

Remove the pork form slow cooker and let it cool. The bacon should have dissolved into the cooking liquid. Let the cooking liquid cool for 5 minutes then skim any fat off the top.

Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan, skimming any bits and pieces out as you pour it. Cook until you have about 1 cup of liquid left, this will take about 30 minutes. Add vinegar, ketchup, liquid smoke and remaining 3 tbs of brown sugar to liquid. Whisk it and bring to simmer. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Shred the pork while the sauce is reducing. This should be easy as it will be falling apart as you touch it. Toss the pork with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Put the remaining sauce on the table, so people can add more if they like.
NC style pulled pork with the slaw on the sandwich.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Blueberry Chutney

After a very stressful last couple of months, my wife and I decided to take a mini-vacation to Pensacola, Florida with weekend to see our son and daughter-in-law. Then this uninvited guest announced he was coming as well. His name hurricane Isaac. Ok maybe we will change our plans.
In the mean time we decided Atlanta would be an alternate vacation spot. We can stay with my little sister and there will certainly be things to do. What Isaac has decided to curve east after coming ashore and Atlanta is going to get up to 8 inches of rain.
Friday after work we go to get in the car and hear a loud popping sound. The car will not start. The car was towed to the dealer. They called Saturday to say that the temperature sensor was bad and it thinks the car was overheating and shuts down.
Well before going on vacation I should update the maps on my GPS. Ok the GPS won't install the new maps. Email Garmin support. After three days they have me send them files from my GPS as I have apparently discovered a glitch in their GPS that won't let certain models be updated. Glad I paid for that lifetime of updates. Actually they are working with it and trying to get it to update without me returning the unit.
Maybe we should stay home and work.

Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Blueberry Chutney
Apple-Blueberry Chutney
1apple, seeded and cored and cut into small pieces
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup orange juice or lemon juice
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Put everything in a pan over medium heat. Cook until fruit is soft and liquids have almost evaporated. You will have a very thick fruit with a thick sticky sauce. If you serve over mixed greens like I did you can leave some of the liquid and drizzle over the greens like a salad dressing.

Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin
olive oil, just enough to cove meat
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat a grill to medium.
Drizzle olive oil on tenderloin. Sprinkle salt and pepper on pork tenderloin. These are the pork tenderloins that come 2 to a pack and are long and skinny. I have mentioned these before and someone always confuses them with a pork loin which is much larger like a roast. Place tenderloin on grill and close the lid. Cook for 8 minutes. Flip the tenderloin over close the lid and cook for 6 minutes. Turn grill off and leave tenderloin on the grill for 6 minutes with lid closed. This will give you slightly pink and very juicy tenderloin. You may have to adjust the cook time a little based on your grill.

I served this on a bed of mixed greens with a few pecans thrown on top of the greens. Then I sliced the tenderloin at an angle to give me long skinny slices. Then topped the pork slices with chutney.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shrimp Salad Sandwiches

Want a quick and easy dinner for those hot days of summer? Try this sandwich. 

Shrimp Salad Sandwiches
16 shrimp, 21-25 count 
2 tbs light mayo
1 tbs light sour cream
1 green onion, white and green parts finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 Dill weed
2 slices tomato
2 lettuce leaves
2 buns

Makes enough for 2 sandwiches.
Boil shrimp. When they are cooked rinse under cold water. Cut he shrimp into 2 or 3 pieces.
Mix everything except tomato, lettuce and buns in a bowl. Place lettuce and tomato on bun. Then spread the shrimp mixture on the bun.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weeknight Paella

 I'm back, for this week anyway.
This is a quick recipe you can make during the week, it is not a true paella, but it has the flavors of paella. A great way to use up leftover rice and meats. The great thing about paellas is that you can use just about any meat, seafood or you can even do vegetable versions.

Weeknight Paella
2 spicy sausages, cut into 1/2 inch coins I used hot Italian Chorizo would be good
1 cod fillet, cut into bite sized pieces or any firm white fish
1 ham steak, cut into bite size pieces
12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 to 1 1/2 cup cooked rice
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2/3 cup peas, frozen
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1 pinch of saffron, optional
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil
Parsley for garnish, I also used some saffron threads for the pictures

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle the saffron threads on the tomatoes, this will soften them and let the flavors combine. If you don't let the saffron bloom in liquid it will be stringy and the flavor doesn't develop. Add sausage and ham. Cook until they start to take on color then add the fish. Add the rice, tomatoes, garlic, smoked paprika and pepper. When the rice is warmed through add the shrimp. When the shrimp takes on color add the peas. Cook until peas are heated through.

Place on plate/bowl and garnish with parsley.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Scallops with Zucchini Fritters

This is one of those meals that I created as I cooked, no recipes in my head to start with. I had decided to make scallops. I was going to incorporate tomatoes as my wife is going out of town this week and I will be living the bachelor life. Our garden has been producing tomatoes, so we had a bunch I was going to have to use or I would have to eat them everyday while she was gone.
My wife decided that she was going to bake zucchini bread. Instead of making a large loaf she decided to make little loafs. While she ended up with 2 cups of shredded zucchini left over. So she tells me figure out something to make for dinner that uses shredded zucchini. I was Iron Chef'd, a mystery ingredient was added to my meal. Here is what I made.
Scallops with Zucchini Fritters
2 cups Zucchini, shredded
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, enough to cover bottom of pan to fry fritters

2 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
8 scallops
10 roma tomatoes, cubed into thick pieces
2 green onions, finely chopped, reserve a couple of tablespoons for garnish
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced

I have never made fritters before this. You will have to eye this and maybe add more flour or only 1 egg. It will depend on how wet your zucchini is. Eggs act as the liquid and flour and parmesan as the thickener. Mix everything together but the olive oil and one egg. If mixture is dry add the second egg. If it is to wet add more flour. Take some of the mixture and make a pancake if it holds together you are ok. Heat oil in medium pan and cook the fritters. You should get 4 fritters, keep them kind of thin. Cook until golden brown on one side then flip and cook until second side browns.

Heat pan over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, set aside. If there is enough bacon fat add scallops if not add 1 tsp of olive oil. Remove from pan and add the scallops. Cook until they brown on one side and flip over and remove when second side starts to  take on color. Add oil if needed then add the tomatoes and onions. When tomatoes start to get soft add wine and lemon juice. Cook until wine and lemon juice reduce.

Put fritters on plate, spoon tomato and onion mixture over fritters. Top with the scallops. Sprinkle bacon and reserved green onion over the top.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sausage Ratatouille

One of the tricks of making ratatouille is cutting the vegetables into even sized pieces, so that everything cooks evenly. This is hard to do as vegetables don't seem to grow in nice even sizes. If you notice in the pictures I was able to get zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant the same size but when it came to tomatoes I had to get large ones or small ones. I went with the smaller Roma tomatoes and cut them into thicker slices and separated them into a layer of their own when I layered the vegetable slices.  This worked better than I expected as the tomatoes gave off a lot of juice as they cooked adding additional flavor.
Sausage Ratatouille
2 or 3 Japanese eggplants 4 to 6 inches or 1 standard eggplant 8 to 10 inches, cut into thin coins
1 yellow squash 8 to 10 inches, cut into thin coins
1 zucchini 8 to 10 inches, cut into thin coins
12 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
Olive Oil
salt & pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Italian sausages, hot or sweet, cases removed, I used turkey sausage
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
1/4 red pepper, chopped finely
1/4 yellow pepper, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

After cutting the eggplant, zucchini, squash and tomatoes put them in a bowl drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and oregano. Arrange them in a shallow baking dish, I had 2 circles of tomato and 2 of eggplant, zucchini and squash but the sausage covers the smaller circles. Cook until vegetables take on color, about 30 to 40 minutes.

While vegetables are baking add sausage to sauté pan and cook until meat starts to brown. Add the onion, peppers and garlic. cook until meat is browned and onions and peppers are soft.

When baked vegetables are done top with sausage mixture. and serve.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lemon Sorbet

When the heat goes up my ice cream maker comes out. I hardly ever make ice cream though. I love the taste of fresh fruit so sorbet is my frozen dessert of choice. This Lemon Sorbet has become a family favorite. This sorbet will definitely make you pucker up.

Lemon Sorbet

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest finely chopped
Sprig of mint for each serving

Combine sugar & water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it starts to boil, reduce to low and simmer until sugar dissolves. Cool completely. I usually put it in the freezer to cool quicker. When completely cool add lemon juice & zest. If you have an electric ice cream maker, turn the machine on, pour lemon mixture into the freezer bowl and mix until thickened. If not, pour into a freezer-safe bowl and freeze until thickened.

To serve put in bowl and garnish with mint sprig and/or lemon slices. Or you could add fresh berries, I love raspberries or blueberries. You can turn this into an adult float by adding the sorbet to a glass of prosecco. This recipe is based on one that came with my Cuisinart Ice Cream maker.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grilled Vegetable Pasta

Happy Fourth of July! Here is a wonderful pasta salad that you can make on the grill, no sense in heating up the kitchen.

Grilled Vegetable Pasta

1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4" pieces so you have 1/2 moons
1 yellow squash, cut just like zucchini
1/2 small red onion cut into slices and the rings separated
cherry tomatoes
Mushrooms, cut the hard end off from the stem and then slice mushrooms
1 red pepper, cut into 1" pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1" pieces
olive oil, enough to lightly coat the vegetables
1 tbs mixed dried herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, etc) I use dried here because they will be cooked on the grill. If you want to use fresh herbs add them after the veggies are grilled or as you are removing the veggies from the grill.
Balsamic Vinegar
Parmesan curls for garnish.

Put a pot of water on to boil.
Start your grill.
Chop the veggies. Put veggies in a bowl and sprinkle with enough olive oil on them to coat the veggies. Add the herbs to the vegetables.
When the water boils add salt to the water, it should taste like the sea, I use about a table spoon. Add the pasta to the water. Put the veggies on the grill.
When the pasta is al dente remove it from the water and drain. Toss the veggies with the pasta when they are done. Put in the serving dish and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Then with a vegetable peeler shave some parmesan cheese curls over the pasta.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shrimp Tacos

As the heat and humidity go up I wanted to make something that wouldn't heat up the kitchen. Here is what I made.
Shrimp Tacos
1/2 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp chipotle powder or smoked paprika if you don't want the spicy flavor
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
Guacamole and salsa to taste click here for recipes
2 tbs queso fresco
1 tbs Sour Cream
1/2 ear corn on cob, grilled and then kernels removed
1 tbs cilantro, chopped, used as garnish
Nonstick spray
2 tortillas, grilled for about 15 seconds

Preheat the grill to medium.
Sprinkle shrimp with chipotle or smoked paprika. When grill is hot put corn on grill and cook until it gets grill marks on one side and rotate until all sides are grill marked then set aside and let it cool. While corn is cooking put shrimp on the grill. Cook shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes then flip them over and cook for another minute or 2. Spray both sides of the tortillas with no stick spray. Place on grill for 15 seconds flip and cook for another 5 or 10 seconds. You want them heated through with little spots of color you don't want them crisp. Cut the kernels off the corn.
Place cabbage, on tortilla and top with shrimp. Add the queso fresco, corn, salsa guacamole and any other taco toppings you like.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Ok this makes the third week I've posted a Fathers Day recipe. This one was the winner, the one I celebrated Father's Day with. This was one of those recipes that I made up as I went along so measurements are estimates. The mussels are cooked in a wine and tomato broth. A love a big bowl of mussels all open and ready to be eaten. Open mussels remind me of venus flytraps, I am just waiting for one to grab my fork as I go to pull the meat out.
Note: You should make about 1/2 to 3/4 pound of mussels per person. The recipe below is for 2 people. Clean and de-beard mussels. If any mussels are open and won't close when pinched throw them out. After cooking watch for any mussels that don't open and discard. I like the spice of chorizo sausage any spicy sausage will work. Today I had a kielbasa sausage, which is mild. I added 1/8 tsp of crushed red pepper to the onions and garlic when I added that to give me the kick I wanted.
1 chorizo sausage, cut into bite size pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 coves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper if using see note
2/3 cup white wine, I used Pinot Grigio
1/3 cup crushed tomato from can
1 tomato, diced
1 1/2 pounds Mussels

Heat large skillet to medium high. Add oil and the sausage and cook until it starts to brown. If using full fat sausage you might be able to cook sausage without oil, then add oil with onions. Then add onions, garlic and red pepper (if using). Cook onion mixture until onions are soft. When onions are soft add the crushed tomato and wine. When wine and tomato start to bubble add the tomato, shrimp and mussels. Cook until the shrimp are cooked through and the mussels are open. If you got good mussels most will open in under 5 minutes. Arrange mussels in bowl. then pour sauce and other goodies (tomatoes, sausage and shrimp) over the mussels. Garnish with parsley.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lobster Boil

Last week I posted a recipe for Father's Day, an alternative to my usual Father's Day meal. You may have thought that was weird posting a Father's Day recipe so early. Honestly my calendar at work says that Father's Day is Sunday June 10th and that is why I posted it so early. Here is my traditional Father's Day meal. You can add additional things like sausage, crabs, mussels, etc. if you like. I often substitute some of the water with a bottle or 3 of beer. Happy Father's Day to my fellow fathers. By the way Cook's Illustrated ran on on-line contest for best Clam bake and this recipe won it for me. Chris Kimble sent me an autographed copy of season 10 of their TV show. He signs his autographs with his name and then draws a bow tie under it.

Lobster Boil
4 lobster tails, I used 4 oz tails for this
24 shrimp
4 ears corn on the cob
4 potatoes or 8 small red ones
1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning

Fill a large stock pot with water, turned to high so water will boil. Add the red potatoes or if using larger potatoes cut them into smaller pieces and add them. Let them boil 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes start to get soft. Add the Old Bay and the lobsters. After 5 minutes add corn and shrimp and let boil 3 or 4 minutes longer until shrimp are cooked. Drain off water and put the food in a big bowl. Enjoy and put out lots of napkins. You may want to put out butter, salt, pepper for corn and potatoes, cocktail sauce for shrimp and melted butter for lobster. Oh yea, don't forget an ice cold beer.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Steak with Southern Comfort Sauce

Each year for Father's Day I have my Lobster Boil. I won the Cook's Illustrated Online Clam Bake Challenge with this recipe. I change the ingredients almost every time I make it. Adding things like crab, beer, clams or mussels. This year I decided to come up with a new recipe for Father's Day. I made a steak with Southern Comfort honey mustard sauce.

By the way I didn't eat the whole steak in the picture I split it with my wife. I did drink the Guinness. The recipe for the grilled vegetables can be found here, obviously without the pasta.

Steak with Southern Comfort Sauce
1 steak, any kind, I used sirloin
1 1/2 tbs Southern Comfort
2 tbs honey
1 1/2 tbs Dijon mustard

Preheat grill to medium high.

Mix Southern Comfort, honey and mustard together. Taste and adjust as you see fit. I usually make honey mustard at a 1 part honey to 1 part mustard, but when I added the Southern Comfort the mustard seemed to get very strong.
Cook the steak until it is about 2 minutes from being done. Spread the sauce over the top and let it finish cooking. There will be some extra sauce if you want more.
Back center is my dad, that is me on the right just before my 17th birthday. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Scallops with Sweet Corn & Roasted Pepper Puree

As I am sitting here typing this recipe my wife's phone rings. I can tell by the ring tone that it is my son Joel. He left North Carolina to start a new chapter in his life today. He called to say that he arrived at Whiting Air Force Base. Two weeks ago he was inducted into the United States Air Force as a Second Lieutenant. It is kind of ironic that he arrived on Memorial Day, but he can't officially check in until tomorrow as they are closed for the holiday. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a couple of years this is the same son who was a Marine and got 3 Purple Hearts. While in college he decided to to become a pilot. Joel joined the Air Force ROTC and now that college is over he is heading to  Pensacola to start his pilots training. I am sure he will succeed as he is determined to fly, more mature and has a good wife to support him. How well he does in school will determine what type of "plane" he will fly with "fighter jet" being the big reward. In a year I expect to be posting a picture of my son sitting in a "fighter jet". Good luck Joel and Meghan.

Scallops with Sweet Corn and Roasted Pepper Sauce
8 scallops
2 tsp olive oil
2 ears of sweet corn, roasted or boiled, corn cut from cob
1 red pepper, roasted
2 tbs heavy cream
2 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 green onion, cut finely

After the corn is cooked remove the kernels from the cob, reserve 1/4 of the kernels if you want a chunky sauce. Cut the pepper in half (if roasting your own core and seed it). Cut 1/4 of pepper into fine dice and reserve if you want to add it to finished sauce. Add 1/4 of pepper, corn kernels and cream to blender. Puree the mixture. Taste for sweetness. If the sauce is to sweet add more red pepper. When the sauce is at desired taste add reserved corn and red peppers and stir in with a spoon.
Heat a pan to high. Add the oil. While the oil is heating dry the scallops with a paper towel. Drying them will help them brown. When the oil is shimmering add the scallops. Cook until they take on color and then flip them over and brown the other side. The whole cooking process will only take 3 to 5 minutes depending on size of scallops.
Pour sauce on plates. Place scallops on top. Sprinkle the green onions and bacon over the whole plate.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Memorial Day Side Dishes

I am just returning from a week of vacation. We went to Michigan saw my brother, went to Michigan State (the university I graduated from), attended a nephews wedding and then went to Maryland to pick up my dog. My daughter was home last week for my sons Air Force induction ceremony so she took the dog back to Maryland with her so we could go to Michigan. That means no kitchen time for me for the last week or so. I thought I would repeat a few of my favorite side dishes, so a few of you may recognize these recipes.
Barbecue Backed Beans
This is my favorite bean recipe. Once you see how easy and tasty these are you will never buy beans again. Click here for the Barbecue Baked Bean recipe.
Baked Potato Salad
This is another family favorite. Instead of boiling the potatoes bake them and then mix in baked potato toppings like sour cream, chives, bacon and cheese. Click here for the Baked Potato Salad.
Baked Penne and Cheese
This is an Eating Well recipe that uses cottage cheese to lower the calories and fat in traditional macaroni and cheese. Click here for the Baked Penne and Cheese recipe.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Breakfast in Bread

With Mother's Day upon us here is a simple breakfast that looks very special. You can use a heart cookie cutter instead of the round biscuit cutter mentioned in the recipe.

Breakfast in Bread

1 egg, fried or poached
1 tsp olive oil
1 stalk of asparagus
1 piece Canadian Bacon or about 1 oz of ham chopped
3 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 or 1 tbs of diced tomato
2 tsp parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 slice of toast
Non-stick spray

This recipe is for 1 egg, you can multiple by however many eggs you are making. You will need a biscuit cutter (or cookie cutter, I used round but any shape will do) a little less than the width of a piece of toast. If you have 2 biscuit cutters the same size and shape it will be even easier.

In a pan put 1 tsp of olive oil and heat to a shimmer add the asparagus and ham. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes. cook for another 2 minutes, until ham starts to brown. Set aside.

Start making your egg, if you are frying spray the cutter with the non-stick spray and place with the non-cutting side down in the pan. Crack the egg into the cutter. This will keep the egg shape the same size as the hole in the toast. Start the toast. Cook egg to desired doneness. When egg is done carefully remove egg from cutter. Then use cutter to cut a whole in the toast. Remove the piece of toast that you cut out and put toast on plate. Put egg in the hole in the toast. Now top with ham, asparagus, tomato mixture. Sprinkle the parmesan over the whole toast.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grilled Polenta Cakes

Now that May is here it is time for weddings, graduations and Air Force inductions. Well ok most of you don't have any Air Force inductions coming up, but we do. My son, Joel, is graduating from college and getting inducted into the Air Force. If you have been reading my blog for awhile you might remember that he already completed 4 years in the Marines, but that wasn't good enough for him he decided he wanted to be a pilot. So he is going into the Air Force now to become a pilot. We also have a wedding coming up. So in the next couple of weeks my posts maybe kind of sporadic. In the meantime enjoy this appetizer that is consistently one of my most viewed recipes.

Grilled Polenta Cakes with Bruschetta Topping

Tomato Topping
2 tomatoes, cut into a small dice
2 tbs Kalamata olives, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 basil leaves, cut into fine ribbons

Add all ingredients to a bowl and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat thourghly coat the mixture.

Polenta Cakes

Make polenta according to the package or your regular method. Then pour it into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, that has been sprayed with no-stick spray. Let the polenta cool for a few minutes and then refrigerate so it will firm up. After polenta has firmed up use a 2 1/2 to 3 inch cookie cutter or a glass with an equivalent opening to cut out the cakes.
Preheat the grill to medium high.
Take the polenta cakes and put them on a well oiled grill, to prevent them from sticking. Cook until polenta has good grill marks and then flip them over and cook until you get the grill marks again.
Top each polenta cake with the tomato mixture.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato Salmon

My wife and I celebrated our 29th anniversary this week, by taking a trip to the beach. She is a big fan of lighthouses, so we went to the Bald Head Island and Oak Island lighthouses on the North Carolina coast. We have been to most of the other North Carolina lighthouses. The day turned out to be gorgeous 70's and sunny. We got to have seafood for lunch and dinner, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you saw the food pictures.

Here is a salmon dish I made last weekend. I hope you enjoy it, as much as we did.

Sun Dried Tomato Salmon
1 salmon filet, about 8 oz

1 tbs sun dried tomato oil
3 tbs sun dried tomatoes, chopped
4 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
6 oz spinach leaves
Brown rice, 1/2 cup per person

Cook the brown rice according to directions. About 10 minutes before done start salmon.

Add oil to pan and heat to medium high. Add salmon. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes then add the mushrooms. Cook for 4 more minutes. Add the sun dried tomatoes and then spread the spinach over top of the whole thing. Cook until spinach is wilted.

To plate put the rice on the plate and spread out on the plate. Then add a layer of the spinach. Top with 1/2 of the salmon. Pour the sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and any oil left over the whole thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Andouille Sausage Hash

Sometimes you just have to have breakfast for dinner.

Andouille Sausage Hash
2 Andouille Sausages, cut into coins Chorizo would work as well
2 potatoes, about 1 pound, cut into small cubes
1/2 pound of veggies cut into bite sized pieces, (Asparagus, mushrooms, roasted peppers, spinach, beans, etc.)
3 tbs onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbs canola oil
2 eggs, fried with runny yolks

Heat 1 tbs of oil in a pan, do not use a non-stick pan if you can help it.

Add thicker veggies, thick asparagus, mushrooms, etc. and cook until soft. Remove from pan and set aside. While thick veggies are cooking spread potatoes in a single layer and microwave until softened 3 or 4 minutes.

Add the andouille, cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the remaining oil and heat it. When hot add the potatoes, onion and any remaining vegetables. Sprinkle smoked paprika over the mixture. Cook until potatoes and vegetables are cooked. Plate the hash and top with fried egg.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shrimp Burgers

According to my wife "this is my best recipe ever", but then she has always been easy to impress, after all she married me didn't she.

I have been thinking about making these for a while but just never got around to it. Today the sun was shining, it was in the 70's a perfect day for grilling out. My wife decided to defrost our freezer and said we have a couple bags of shrimp in here. So naturally my thoughts turned to what new recipe can I come up with for shrimp. Well here it is.

Shrimp Burgers
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbs Old Bay
1 tsp parsley
1 tbs onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 red pepper, finely chopped

1 tbs mayo, I used light
2 tsp sour cream, I used light
2 tsp Chili Sauce
1/2 tsp horseradish, or to taste

For the sauce mix all ingredients aside and let the flavors combine.

Preheat the grill to medium. The shrimp will cook quickly, so don't set this on high or the outside will be cooked and the inside will be raw. We don't want sushi shrimp burgers.

Combine shrimp (set 8 aside), Old Bay and parsley in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are pureed. Put in bowl.

Chop vegetables into pieces. Cut each of the 8 shrimp into 3 to 4 pieces. Thoroughly mix all of the chopped pieces into the pureed mixture. Form the mixture into 4 burgers. Grill until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Place cooked burgers on a bun with a dollop of the sauce on top.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Berry Tart

This year Easter was going to be a little strange for my wife and I. None of our 3 children would be home for Easter. We will be getting together in a couple of weeks for other special family events, so we just decided to wait until then. This is a recipe I have made a few times over the years and it is always a hit. The recipe is from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri, yes he wrote a healthy cookbook.

Berry Tart

Sweet Pastry Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs unsalted butter, cold and cut into 6 pieces
1 large egg
1 tbs cold water

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse to mix ingredients.

Add butter and pulse 12 times.

Add the egg and water and pulse until dough forms a ball.

Pour dough onto a floured surface.

Form the dough into a disk. Then wrap it in plastic.

Refrigerate for 3 hours to 3 days. You can use immediately but dough will be a little soft.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Before you use the dough unwrap it and gently knead it on a floured surface. Then form it into a disk again and roll it out into a 11 to 12 inch disk. Transfer to a 8 or 9 inch fluted tart pan. Press on bottom and sides and cut off any excess dough.

Poke holes in bottom of tart with a fork, about every 1/2 inch. Place tart on center rack and bake for 15 minutes, or until it just starts to turn golden brown. Do not over bake or crust becomes very hard.

Cool tart on a rack.

Pastry Cream Filling
1 cup fat-free milk, I usually use 1%
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs unsalted butter, softened

Combine the milk and 1/2 of the sugar in a small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to boil over low heat. Combine rest of sugar and the flour in a small mixing bowl and whisk together to mix. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. When the milk boils whisk in 1/3 of the egg mixture. Return the rest of the mixture to a boil. Whisking constantly add the rest of the egg mixture in a slow steady stream. Keep whisking until the pastry cream thickens and comes to a boil with large bubbles bursting at the surface. Whisk for 20 seconds longer and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and the butter. Pour the filling into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream so a film does not form. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the tart.

Finishing the Tart
3 1/2-pints of raspberries or a mixture of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries
2 tbs powdered sugar

Pour the cream in the tart shell and spread evenly. Arrange the berries on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mushroom and Quinoa Soup

Here is another recipe that was on my top 10 things food bloggers make but I never will list. The special thing about this recipe is that it actually qualifies in 2 categories. Quinoa was on the list as a trend food I won't be cooking and it is gluten free which was also on the list of things I won't cook. This makes number 5 of the things I said I wouldn't cook but I have made. Does this mean I am growing as a cook? No, I said in the comments on that post I really have nothing against the things on the list I just don't know what makes these things so hot that every food blogger has to write about them.

Quinoa is often referred to as a grain, but it is not as it is not a member of the grass family. Quinoa is a chenopod like spinach. The difference is you eat the seed for quinoa and the leaf for spinach. Quinoa is a complete protein containing a balanced set of essential amino acids. Quinoa is gluten free, meaning this is another item on my foods I will never cook list.

This really was the best soup I have ever created. When my wife tasted it she said "this is like a gourmet soup". I think I should take as a compliment.

Mushroom and Quinoa Soup
2 Tbs Olive oil
1 pound Crimini Mushrooms (Baby Portabella), cut into bite size pieces
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
6 cups beef broth
2 tsp beef soup base (you can use 2 bouillon cubes but base has less salt)
1 cup quinoa
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a dutch oven. Add the mushrooms, onion, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. Cook until the  mushrooms take on color and the onions are translucent. Add the broth and the soup base and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add the quinoa and cook until it is soft. You can garnish with a little fresh thyme sprinkled over the soup.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chop Suey

My family has made chop suey for years, in fact it was my parents traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Perhaps it was my dad's tribute to Christmas Story and how they go out for Chinese food when the next door neighbor's dogs eat their turkey. But I doubt it, more than likely it was because you can make a huge pot of chop suey for very little cost.

I took my family recipe added more vegetables and cut a lot of sodium out of the recipe. In fact I took the recipe down from 1 bottle to 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Changed the meat from a pork roast to a pork tenderloin.

Chop Suey doesn't photograph well because the soy sauce turns everything a washed out brown color, so sorry about the photos. Out of curiosity can you notice anything different about the photos?

Chop Suey
1 tbs canola oil
1 pork tenderloin, sliced in to medallions and each medallion cut into 1/4
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
4 oz white mushrooms,  cut into quarters
1 can bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
1 can bean sprouts, drained and rinsed
chicken stock, enough to cover meat and veggies by 1/2 inch
1 tbs Soy Sauce

In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat. When oil is hot add the onion, celery, pepper and mushrooms. Cook until onions start to soften and become translucent. Add the pork and brown it. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook until meat and veggies are cooked through. About 1/2 hour. Serve over rice.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bratwurst Sliders

 My wife comes from a Polish family, both mother and father. In fact her family has more ski's in it than the winter olympics. One of her comfort foods is bratwurst, so every once in a while she gets the craving for them. When we lived in Michigan this was not a big deal, but in North Carolina it is hard to find a good brat. So every so often we go looking for brats. We found some this week that were about the size of a hot dog, a good one is more like an Italian sausage. Since we had leftover slider rolls from last week Scallop Slider I decided to go with the brat slider. Just sauté up a little onion and peppers give them a squirt of yellow mustard and you are in business.
Brat Sliders
1 Brat for every 2 sliders, cut in 1/2 through middle then cut each 1/2 length ways about 90% through so it opens like a book
2 buns for every Brat
2 tbs onion, finely chopped, for 2 brats
1 tbs red pepper, finely chopped, for 2 brats
1 tbs canola oil
Yellow Mustard, to taste

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. When oil is hot add the onion and peppers. Cook until onion and peppers are soft. Remove from heat and sit aside. Add the brats and cook until they take on a good brown color. The brats can be grilled if you prefer.

Place brat on bun, top with onion and peppers and then mustard. These really beg for a beer to be served with them.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Scallop Sliders

A few weeks ago I made fun of using bacon where it doesn't belong and sliders. This week I made a slider for a reason I will get to in a minute and I included bacon. I do not consider bacon out of place with scallops as that is a classic flavor combination. As a person who has always struggled with their weight I don't believe in sliders. Sliders are smaller so they are lower in calories, but when you eat the portion you are served you almost always get more calories than if you would have ordered the regular item instead of the slider. People also tend to order more because of the smaller size and perception that they are lower in calories.
On recent trip to a restaurant my wife ordered scallop sliders. She got a large bun with one scallop on it. The bun also had a piece of lettuce and a tomato slice and a big spoonful of tartar sauce. Not a good tartar sauce but mayo with relish mixed in and a squeeze of lemon. The scallop was over cooked and had a nice rubbery texture to it. Being the foodie that I am I knew I had to make this dish and right the wrongs that the restaurant served.
As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program I am from time to time given product to test and write about if I decide to. Today the ciabatta rolls I used were purchased with a coupon provided by Alexia Foods. Alexia also gave me a Calphalon pot holder and an apron. Alexia is currently running a Reinvent a Classic contest where they are selecting a new flavor of french fries. I wanted to use my coupon to try one of the french fry flavors but I checked with 2 grocery stores 2 weeks straight and they were both out of the fries. I guess that means that the fries are excellent. If you would like to try them go to and you can get a $1 off coupon.
This recipe is based on making 4 sliders. You can adjust accordingly to make as many as you want.

Remoulade Sauce
2 tbs light mayo
1 dash of hot sauce
1 dash worcestershire sauce
1/8 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 green onion, green part only finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed

2 tsp smoked paprika, for color
Mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate until scallops are ready.

4 Alexia Ciabatta rolls
4 scallops
2 slices of bacon
1 tsp canola oil
1 leaf lettuce torn into 4 pieces to fit bun
1 plum tomato, sliced into 4 slices
Turn frying pan on medium then add the bacon. Cook bacon until it turns crispy. Remove bacon from pan and add the oil. Turn heat to medium high. When the oil is shimmering add the scallops. Cook until the scallop takes on a nice brown color and then flip them over and cook until the second side turns light brown.

Cut Ciabatta rolls in half. Put lettuce, tomato and bacon on roll. Top with sauce. Then put scallop on top of that.