Chile Rellenos, Part Dos

Watching Master Chef the other night, I decided that chile rellenos were in my cooking future. I didn’t take photos along the way the first time, so I thought I’d add these to the blog. Take a look at the photos, and if you want to try them yourself, you can check out the original post for the recipe.

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Peep’s Panzanella

I haven’t had a panzanella before.  I’ve seen a few, but never had one myself, let alone made one.  This could be attributed to the fact that I never really liked tomatoes, and bell peppers have always been a love/hate type of flavor for me.   But a friend sent me a link to a panzanella salad, and it looked so good I had to try it myself.  Of course, I had to tweak it a bit.  It’s just in my nature.

I had a little loaf of french bread on the counter that Bikenut bought for some purpose but never got around to eating.  I cut that up into little cubes, tossed them with some olive oil, garlic powder, paprika and dried parsley, and baked them for about 15-20 minutes at 350°F.

When I went to the store to buy all my ingredients, none of the Roma tomatoes I saw looked particularly ripe, so I opted for the tiny little grape tomatoes instead.  I decided to roast them in the oven alongside the bread cubes, rolling them around in the leftover oil on the sheet pan and sprinkling them with a little sea salt.   I know, it goes against the freshness of the salad, so feel free to just toss them in raw if you prefer.  The roasting sweetened the tomatoes, and I wanted a softer texture from them than I’d get if they were whole in the salad.  I could have cut them in half, sure, but I didn’t want tomato goop all over the rest of everything, and it would be a pain to halve and de-goop that many tiny tomatoes!

While the croutons and the tomatoes were roasting away, I got to work on the rest of the ingredients.  I had really hoped to keep the green color of the cucumber intact, but I wasn’t able to find any hothouse (or English) cucumbers at the market, nor could I find a decent yellow bell pepper.  (What the heck, Whole Foods??)  So, I ended up with the regular old waxy cucumber, which I peeled and seeded, and a red and an orange bell pepper.  I tried to cut everything in even, bite-sized pieces, keeping in mind that everything does actually need to fit in your mouth.  With the knife work and the croutons done, I put all of the veggies and croutons into a large bowl.  I added all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a mason jar, shook it up, poured it over the salad and gave it a good toss.

I had to have a little taste right then, and it was delicious!  It was almost better having let it sit for about an hour so that all the flavors mingled, and the croutons had soaked up some of that vinaigrette and softened (but were still crunchy in the middle.)  I hope you enjoy it!

Peep’s Panzanella

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 small french bread loaf, cut into 1″ cubes (day old/stale bread works great!)
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Garlic powder, paprika, dried parsley, salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces (mix up the colors!)
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade or tear by hand

Ingredients for the vinaigrette:

  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons citrus champagne vinegar (or champagne vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • 1/3 cup of your favorite olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  On a large baking sheet, drizzle bread cubes with olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and dried parsley.  Toss to coat.  Move bread cubes to one half of the baking sheet, arranged into a single layer.  On other half of the baking sheet, place tomatoes (whole) and roll in the olive oil remaining on the sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bread cubes are golden brown.
  2. In a small jar, add all vinaigrette ingredients.  Cap the jar and shake until well blended.   (You can also whisk it together in a bowl.)
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the cucumber, bell peppers, onion and basil.  Add the roasted tomatoes and bread cubes, then pour the vinaigrette over and toss.   Enjoy!

Chicken & Corn Chowder

What do you do with leftover roasted chicken and corn on the cob?  Make chicken and corn chowder, of course!

Bikenut and I had a friend over for dinner the other night.  Actually, we had a friend over so Bikenut could work his bike magic on said friend’s bicycle, and thought it would be rude if we didn’t offer for him to stay for dinner.  So, the menu went from a panzanella and soup to oven-barbecued chicken, corn bread, corn on the cob, and baked beans.  The baked beans were what Bikenut was craving, and the rest of the menu fell in around that.

Since I was going to have the oven going, I bought enough extra chicken and corn on the cob to cook up at the same time as the dinner for that evening.  Technically, that doesn’t make it “leftovers” but this recipe would definitely work well for them if you have them!  Or, you know, you could make it with non-leftover chicken and corn, too.

It turned out that I didn’t have enough room in the oven for EVERYTHING (a pan of barbecued chicken, a smaller pan for the plain roasted chicken, a muffin tin for the corn bread, and two ears of corn took up most all of my oven space!) so I ended up boiling the corn in the pot of broth this morning.  End result:  This isn’t a Chicken & ROASTED Corn Chowder recipe.  Hmph.

This recipe is so simple, and really tasty!  It turned to be a rich, velvety chowder base (but bright thanks to the lemon!) with nice bits of tender chicken and crisp, sweet corn.  Mmmm.  Give it a try!

Chicken & Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of chicken (I used one breast and one whole leg, bone-in, skin removed after cooking)
  • 4 ears of corn (shucked and rinsed)
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup of cream (or milk)
  • Pinch of garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
  • Potato flakes (or leftover mashed potatoes, or other agent you prefer) for thickening
  • Juice of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, add broth, chicken (raw, or cold leftovers) and corn.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high, cover, and allow to boil for 12-15 minutes.  If adding raw chicken, make sure to boil until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and remove chicken and corn from broth to cool.
  3. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with a fork and return meat to the pot.  Cut the kernels of corn from the cob with a sharp knife, and return the kernels to the pot.  (For extra corn goodness, scrape the cut cobs with the edge of your knife to get the remaining corn bits and add this to the pot as well.)
  4. Add cream or milk and the spices and bring to a boil, then quickly reduce to a simmer.  Add potato flakes and stir until desired consistency is achieved.  (Some like it thinner, some like it thicker.  I’m of the latter group, and I like added potato flavor!)
  5. Add chives and lemon juice.  Stir.  (TIP: Use kitchen shears to “chop” chives directly into the pot.)
  6. Serve hot, topped with:
  • a crack of fresh black pepper, a slice of lemon, and a sprinkle of chives
  • avocado slices sprinkled with lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • chopped, roasted red pepper or fresh diced jalapeno pepper
  • a dollop of your favorite salsa
  • cornbread crumbles

Easy Peasy Corn Bread

Why would you make it from a box, when it’s soooo easy to make it from scratch?  To be honest, it was my first time making it without a little blue box, or a pouch from a restaurant that’s known for their corn bread.  And to be honest, I liked it much, much better!

There are things to be grateful for, aside from the corn bread being super yummy.  I’m grateful for knowing that three teaspoons equals one tablespoon.  It comes in particularly handy when you drop in two half-tablespoons of baking powder into your bowl of dry ingredients, thinking that you actually grabbed the teaspoon instead.  Hooray for saving the mixture, especially since I had already put the last of my corn meal into the bowl.

I’m too tired from making dinner to be bothered to take a picture, but you’ve all seen corn bread (or in this case, corn muffins) before so I wouldn’t be showing you anything new. 😀

Easy Peasy Corn Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 beaten egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F, and grease an 8 or 9-inch pan, or muffin tin.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Pour batter into pan or muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  5. Serve warm with homemade honey butter.

Caprese Salad Sandwich

It’s been a hot couple of days around here.  When it gets hot, the last thing I want to do is stand around the kitchen with the stove and/or oven blazing away, and the last thing Bikenut wants to do is eat.  Kind of works out well that way, I guess.  Except that I still want to eat!  Tonight, I had a craving for Caprese salad.

I always have to stop and wonder what the heck is wrong with me when I find myself craving foods that I don’t particularly like.  Tomatoes have long been on that list; the only ones I really sort of remotely enjoy are Romas, and their miniature counterparts.  Thankfully, I was able to find the little grape tomatoes at Trader Joe’s with the rest of the ingredients since that’s the store we landed at tonight.  (I’m rarely ever pleased with any of the produce I buy from TJ’s, so this was a very good find in my opinion.)

Bikenut  actually did want to eat something tonight and opted for a deli-style sandwich for dinner, so we stopped by the fresh bread section.  As he decided what kind of bread he wanted, I reminded him that we had ciabatta rolls in the freezer.  I thought to myself that a roll might be nice with my salad, and then thought again, “Hey, why not a Caprese salad sandwich?”  Turns out Bikenut had a Caprese salad sandwich for dinner too, since the lunch meat he thought was in the fridge was gone.

The nice thing about this “recipe” is that it *is* a sandwich, and so there’s no measuring or any fussing.  Just grab what you want, slap it between the slices of bread and eat!  So, here’s the mostly photographic directions, along with the list of ingredients I used, to be tinkered with and applied in the amounts that you prefer. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Bread, 2 slices – toasted (I used a ciabatta roll)
  • Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh whole basil leaves
  • Mozzarella cheese (a big ball of it! sliced into rounds)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Gather all of your ingredients.
  2. Lightly drizzle the toasted bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Stack the mozzarella, tomatoes and basil on one slice of bread.  Season with salt & pepper.  Top with other slice of bread.
  4. Buon appetito!

Cheese-Filled Zucchini Boats

“I hope these aren’t going to be too foofy for the guys,” Bikenut says.  I’m not sure why he thought the guys wouldn’t like them.  Guys like mozzarella sticks, right???  All I did was add a vegetable!

I StumbledUpon the recipe on Life’s Ambrosia but had to do things a little differently, based on the zucchini I picked up.  It was far too dainty to core out when cut into rounds.  Instead, I cut each zucchini into thirds or quarters, then split those sections in half lengthwise and used a melon baller to scoop out a pocket for the cheese.

I also sliced off a thin bit of the bottom of the “boat” to keep each one from rolling around, then sprinkled them with some sea salt and pepper.

If I had this part to do over again, I would have not gone with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Instead, I’d have bought a ball of mozzarella and used chunks of that, or if I happened to have string cheese in the fridge, cut that up.  It wouldn’t have necessarily changed the final outcome, but it would have made things a little easier for prep and clean-up.

Once the cheese was finally packed into the zucchini boats, they were dunked in an egg wash, patted with panko bread crumbs and parmesan, and placed on a baking pan.  Surprisingly, the cheese stayed in the boats the whole time!

A little drizzle of olive oil, and into the oven they went.  Okay, fine.  The “little drizzle” was really more like poorly controlled glugs from the bottle, but still.  All is well that ends well, right?

Fifteen minutes at 400°F then a few minutes under the broiler and what you end up with is a fantastic appetizer that even the guys that were over for Fight Night enjoyed!  Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.  Delicious!

A special thanks to Bikenut for lending me his camera, since I had neglected to charge my battery since our last photo excursion.  Without him, you’d only have gotten to see the first two steps!

Cheese-Filled Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

  • 3 zucchini
  • 1 ball of mozzarella cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • Marinara sauce for dipping

Directions:

  1. Slice ends off of zucchini, then cut zucchini into three to four pieces.  Split each piece lengthwise, then slice a thin strip off the rounded bottom of each piece to create a flat surface for the zucchini to rest on.
  2. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the centers of each piece, making sure not to scoop too much of the flesh away.
  3. Sprinkle zucchini boats with a good bit of salt and a crack of black pepper.  Stuff the zucchini with pieces of mozzarella cheese, pressing it into the hollow.
  4. In a small bowl, beat two eggs.  In a separate small bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan.
  5. Dip each zucchini boat in the egg wash until it is thoroughly coated, then transfer the zucchini to the panko mixture.  Toss in the breadcrumbs until well-coated, pat the breadcrumbs onto the top, then transfer zucchini to a baking sheet that has been prepared with cooking spray.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.  Broil for another 3-5 minutes until tops are browned.
  7. Remove from oven and serve while hot with marinara sauce for dipping.

LOST – OMGWTFBBQ Recipes

While I don’t have any pictures for the blog, I do have recipes!  I was really WAY too busy with the food prep to be able to spend the extra time to get the photos, but the results were delicious!  Ask anyone that actually showed up and ate!

I was going for LOST themed food stuffs, and I think it all turned out well — if not thematically, at least in being a successful dish over all.  The BBQ was a semi-potluck, where Bikenut and I would provide the meat of the meal (literally) and the guests were asked to bring an appetizer or side dish.  The contributions from our guests included a yummy mango salsa and tortilla chips, and a big pot of homemade spanish rice — both scrumptious!

For my part, I offered up Luau Ribs, fried chicken (in honor of Mr. Cluck’s!) and grilled shrimp.  I really didn’t work from any set recipes on any of these, I just sort of winged it.   As best as I can recall, here are the recipes if you want to try and recreate them for yourselves. 🙂

Peep’s Luau Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 2 slabs of extra meaty baby back pork ribs
  • 1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups pineapple, orange and banana blend juice (or straight pineapple juice)
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 1/2 bottle of Lagunitas IPA (or similar beer)

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all spices, sesame seeds, soy sauce, juice, garlic and green onions then whisk to combine.
  2. Place ribs, meat side down, in a large enough oven-proof dish to hold the ribs and the marinade mixture.  Pour marinade over the ribs.  (I used a large foil roasting pan.)
  3. Cover dish with foil and marinate in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.  (Mine marinated for 17 hours total.)
  4. Thirty minutes prior to cooking, remove ribs from the fridge and flip them over in the marinade.  Let them sit on the counter to warm up to about room temperature before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 250°F.   Place the foil-covered dish in the oven (ribs, marinade and all) and bake for 1 hour, then baste the ribs with the marinade and replace the foil.  Increase temperature to 275°F and bake for another 60 to 90 minutes, or until tender.
  6. When ribs are just cooked through and tender, remove from the oven.  Reserve the pan juices in a small saucepan.  Simmer pan juices over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, to reduce into a glaze.
  7. Finish the ribs by glazing with the reduced sauce and grilling them over hot coals/flame (or under the broiler), basting with beer after each turn, until nicely carmelized.  Remove to a serving platter.
  8. Slice the ribs into individual portions and serve with the remaining glaze.

Peep’s Fried Chicken (How blasphemous!)

Ingredients:

  • 12-15 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • Spices, quantity to taste:
    • Garlic powder
    • Onion powder
    • Paprika
    • Cayenne pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • Oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Season drumsticks with spices.  Place in a container and cover with buttermilk.  Marinate overnight, up to 24 hours.
  2. Add enough oil to a large skillet (I used a deep 12″ pan) so that the oil comes about 1/8″ up the side of the pan.  Heat over medium-high heat.
  3. Drain buttermilk from the chicken.  Re-season drumsticks with spices, then dredge in flour.
  4. Making sure the oil is hot, cook chicken in batches of 4-5 pieces for about 10-12 minutes on each side, or longer for meatier pieces.   (To check oil temperature, dip the end of a drumstick into the oil.  If it doesn’t lightly sizzle, increase heat before adding chicken or your chicken will be oil-soaked and the batter won’t stick to the chicken.  If it sizzles violently, turn the heat down before adding the chicken, or you’ll end up burning your chicken before it’s cooked through. )
  5. Once chicken is cooked through and browned, remove from oil and place on a cooling rack over paper towels.  (Do not place chicken directly on paper towels.)
  6. Serve hot or cold.

Grilled Drunken Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds of jumbo raw shrimp (preferably cleaned and deveined, it’s not nice work to do yourself.)
  • 1 bottle of Lagunitas IPA (or your favorite beer)
  • 1 ton of garlic (or more realistically, 12 large cloves or more)
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • 2 lemons
  • Bamboo skewers

Directions:

  1. Place 4-5 shrimp on each skewer (I use two skewers, to keep the shrimp from flipping around on the stick while I’m trying to flip them on the grill) and place in a rectangular baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle garlic and onion powders over shrimp skewers.
  3. Crack whole garlic cloves using the side of a large knife blade (or smash them with whatever is handy) and toss garlic over the seasoned shrimp skewers.
  4. Pour beer over skewers, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.
  5. Over hot coals, grill shrimp, basting with beer, until opaque.
  6. Remove from grill, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the shrimp and serve with additional lemon wedges.