Monday, July 27, 2009

Oven Roasted Tritip

OK, I'm definitely a Central California girl and LOVE me some tritip. It is a cut of meat that is rarely available anywhere else but in Central California and it tastes great on the grill with a salty dry rub seasoning on it. Those of us who live here know that is the only way to truly enjoy tritip. You don't mess it up with marinades or sauces, and you MUST cook it on the grill. Well, unfortunately, we live in an apartment that doesn't have any room for outdoor grilling, and grilling this on an indoor grill would probably give our smoke detector some issues. So I must oven roast my homemade tritip for now. Lucky for me, I have come up with a method that does the meat justice, and it comes out flavorful and juicy, just like a good tritip should. I know most people can't enjoy this delicacy themselves. Why am I sharing it on my blog, some may ask? Because I had a great dinner last night and I just wanted to share!

Oven Roasted Tritip (my recipe)
1 2 lb Tritip Roast
Very liberal amounts of barbeque seasoning salt (we use McCormick Broiled Steak Seasoning)
Garlic Powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Allow roast to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to get the chill off. There will be a large fat piece on one side of the roast, even if it is pretrimmed from the butcher. With a very sharp knife, remove the fat all in one piece, if possible, while removing as little of the meat as possible. When fat has been removed and set aside, season liberally (really liberally) with seasoning salt on all sides. Rub in well until meat has a good crust on it. Replace fat piece on top of one side of seasoned meat. Season top of fat with a light coating of garlic powder. Place on a baking rack (I use an old cooling rack and a cookie sheet) with the fat side on top. The fat will baste the meat while it is cooking. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. The tritip will be medium well on the smaller sides and medium to medium rare in the thick middle. Remove the fat piece and discard. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into 1/4 inch slices. Enjoy alone or in a sandwich. Makes about 4 servings.

Polynesian Pork Chops

This is another adapted childhood recipe that I'm so happy I've been able to reinvent. We frequently enjoyed pork chops baked in tomato sauce or tomato soup over rice. It was actually the only way I ever ate pork chops for years! One time, my stepmom took this dish and turned it into over the top fantastic. I only ate it once, but it still lives in my mind as the best pork chops ever from my childhood. We were on a cross country RV trip, and my Daddy had barbequed every night, but one night, it was raining, so we had to use the RV kitchen. The Hawaiian style pork chops that we had were similar to what we were used to, but had rings of pineapple and a hint of sweetness added to the sauce. We never had them that way again, and I've tried to recreate it once before to no avail, but the recipe you see here is about as close as I will ever get to that once in a lifetime RV kitchen pork chop recipe, and I devoured this dish. I think this would be a great dish for kids, too.

Polynesian Pork Chops (family recipe)
1 lb of center cut boneless pork chops (these were thin cut, but thicker than usual)
1 tsp ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 can tomato soup
1 tsp olive oil
1 8 oz can of Pineapple rings (the small can), 1/2 juice reserved
2 Tbs brown sugar
Marinate pork chops in soy sauce, garlic and ginger for at least 30 minutes. Heat olive oil in large saute pan. Shake excess marinade off pork before adding to the heated oil for a quick sear on each side (about 2 minutes per side). Remove pork and add soup, brown sugar, and about half the can of pineapple juices or until soup reaches desired sauce consistency. Heat to boiling. Dip both sides of each pork chop into the sauce and then lay into pan, covering with sauce. Lay the pineapple slices evenly over the pork. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until pork is cooked through. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

My fabulous stepmom taught me a lot of my cooking skills, and also helped me to develop many of my standard "loves" when it comes to food. One of my favorite vegetables is cauliflower and I never would have learned to love it if it wasn't for her teaching me how to make a basic cheese sauce to go over the top of it. When I was a kid, I would eat a good cheese sauce by the spoonful, with a little cauliflower to accent the flavor of the sauce! Unfortunately, cauliflower nears the top of my husband's list of most disliked foods, so I don't get to enjoy it unless he's not around. I thought I would just roast some while he was on his work trip and eat it with something simple, but then I got the idea for a baked macaroni & cheese with roasted cauliflower added in. What a concept! It was like my favorite cheese sauce & cauliflower mixture from my childhood, but with pasta added in! I think if I get the chance to make this again, I'll add some spices in to make it a little more suitable for my adult palate, but I encourage those with kids to do creative things like this to introduce kids to vegetables that are a little plain normally.

Cauliflower Macaroni & Cheese (by me!)
1 Tbs butter or margarine
1 Tbs Flour
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup (or more) shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh cracked pepper
1.5 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup elbow macaroni
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
cooking spray
Spray cauliflower lightly with cooking spray or olive oil and roast in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove and set aside. Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions, but leave a little bit undercooked. Meanwhile, make cheese sauce by melting butter in a saucepan, adding flour and cooking for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Allow to come to a slow boil. After the sauce is lightly boiling & thick, add shredded cheddar cheese to taste. Add fresh cracked pepper to taste. Add roasted cauliflower to sauce, mix well to combine. Add to cooked macaroni and stir, then pour into an 8" x 8" casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and panko. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove and spray with cooking spray, then return to oven for another 5-10 minutes or until top is golden brown. Makes 4 side dish servings or 2 large main dish servings.

"Just the Way I Like It" Pasta

The husband and I spend very few nights apart. We are really blessed that neither of us has to travel for work much, and we spend most of our overnights out together, since we enjoy the same sorts of things. Once a year, however, he has to go to the Specialized Dealer Event, or as I like to call it, "Camp Kool-Aid," where they ride all the latest and greatest Specialized bikes and come back begging for new bikes for themselves (nice job, Specialized!). I miss the husband terribly during the week he is gone, especially since it means we can't watch the Tour de France together for a whole week! One good thing, however, is that I get to make all the foods that I like that he doesn't. For this pasta, I went all out. Just about everything in it is something that he wouldn't normally eat, from the dark meat chicken to the sun dried tomatoes (and he calls ME a picky eater!). I really loved this dish and look forward to making it again when we have to be apart next time.

My Favorite Things Pasta
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (most fat removed), cut into bite size pieces
1 small onion, diced
1/2 small red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 can artichoke heart quarters (not marinated)
3 heaping Tbs sun-dried tomatoes with oil
1/2 container light refrigerated alfredo sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 package fresh refrigerated pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Saute garlic, pepper & onion in oil until golden. Add tomatoes & oil and add chicken pieces and cook until well done, about 7 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and stir to heat through. Add alfredo sauce and milk until sauce is consistency of your preference (I wanted a lighter sauce, so I used about 1/4 cup of milk). Meanwhile, cook fresh pasta according to package directions. Toss heated pasta with sauce and top with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to taste.
Makes 4 servings

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Santa Barbara Dining: Jill's Place

Living in Santa Barbara, we are truly blessed to have many unique restaurants with limited chains to compete with them. Since I have been cooking so much more at home, when we dine out, we've been able to really splurge. For my birthday this year, I really wanted to try out a local steak place called "Jill's Place." For those of you who read this blog that like to visit Santa Barbara, this is not your typical touristy restaurant. If you go to this restaurant, you are either a local or have been told about it by a local (me!). The restaurant is an unassuming building that is right downtown. It used to be a butcher shop (Shalhoobs, also a famous local establishment), but the daughter of the family (Jill) decided to open up a restaurant in the location when the butcher shop moved. The amount of food we got here was incredible. The two of us got cocktails (blood orange margarita shown here), I got a glass of wine, soup, salad, bread, steaks and veggies for under $100 with tip. And the steaks were big enough that we each had leftover steak for the next day. The quality, being from a butcher shop, was superb. This was the kind of steak that you knew was meant to be eaten medium rare. The pictures don't do this justice, since it isn't my awesome camera (we bring the little one to meals out), but this was a great meal for a great birthday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchilada success! I have had some issues with homemade enchiladas since I was little because the textures have always turned out a little weird. Either the whole entree comes out dry and overcooked or everything just turns into mush. I love enchiladas though, and I've seen some recipes online lately that use all sorts of interesting things as fillings (ranch dressing, cream of xxx soup, cream cheese, etc.). While none of these sounded all that appetizing to me, I decided to use them as inspiration for my Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas. These were great! The nacho cheese soup kept the chicken from drying out, and the spices in the soup plus the peppers I added really gave these a flavorful kick. My only fear is that Campbells will stop making the Nacho Cheese soup flavor as they have for other flavors I've used in the past for cooking. In the meantime, though, I've stocked up on these ingredients and will definitely be making these again! I almost forgot to take a picture, I was so wrapped up in eating these!

Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas (inspired by a collection of recipes from allrecipes & the back of the enchilada sauce can)
1 cup cooked shredded chicken breast
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 4 oz can diced chile peppers (I used hot, but mild would be okay)
1 can Campbell's Nacho Cheese soup
6 flour tortillas
1 small can mild red enchilada sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350. In saute pan, cook garlic & onion in oil until soft. Add drained diced chiles and cook until most of the moisture has cooked out. Add chicken and soup and stir well to combine. Spray 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray. Dip one tortilla at a time into a bowl of lukewarm water. Lay in baking dish and fill with a few Tablespoons of chicken filling. Roll tightly and place in baking dish seam side down. Repeat with all six tortillas until filling is gone and baking dish is full. Top with enchilada sauce and spread with spoon to evenly cover the enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted & bubbly.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

It has been a really long time since I've made homemade ice cream. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is that I wisely decided to throw away my ice cream maker direction booklet, and although I have found lots of great recipes, didn't want to mess up the maker by making too big a batch or doing something wrong. Have no fear, loyal readers, the interweb is here! The entire booklet was available for download online (duh), so I've ventured into ice cream again. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream is so amazing. I like to cook the custard until it has a cooked flavor to it. Not burned, but slightly scalded so that it blends well with the vanilla bean. The only trouble with this is that it ices up a little too much if you try and freeze it, so it is best to just serve it the day you make it, after about 3-4 hours of firming up in the freezer. No chocolate syrup needed for this ice cream! I apologize for the over exposed picture, apparently vanilla ice cream is tough to shoot!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (from a mix of the Cuisinart direction book, a cooking light recipe, and my own preferences)
3 1/2 cups 2% Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Granulated Sugar (I ran out and used about 3/4 granulated, 1/4 powdered)
1 vanilla bean
3 large egg yolks
Prepare countertop ice cream maker insert according to directions (24 hours in freezer works for mine). Combine milk products in a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean down the middle and run knife through the cut to scrape out all the little seeds. Add seeds and split bean to the milk mixture. Heat until just boiling. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks & sugar and beat on high until lemony colored. Ladle half the hot milk mixture into the eggs very slowly (one ladle at a time) to temper the eggs (constantly stirring), discard the vanilla bean shell, then add milk & egg mixture back to the remaining dairy in the saucepan. Cook over medium low heat until custard coats the back of a spoon (if you take a swipe with your finger down the spoon, the trail should hold up). Stir constantly during this step to avoid burning the dairy. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate until cold. Following manufacturers directions, freeze custard in ice cream maker (mine has me pouring mixture into churning unit and churning for 25-30 minutes or until nearly all crystalized. Remove to a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 3 hours before eating.