Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops

I have had some fun coming up with recipes for pork chops that my husband, the pork hater, will enjoy. I like my pork to have some sweetness without being too sweet, and my husband needs the pork to be cooked all the way through without being too dry. I had some bourbon left over from another recipe, and I knew from Mary Ellen's blog that hard liquor can make for some great pork marinades (she has some great ones in her pork tag). I wasn't looking for a marinade this time, though, but more of a glaze reminiscent of Quizno's Honey Bourbon sauce. I found this Rachael Ray recipe online and it was the closest to what I was thinking of, so I used it as a base for my own concept. I didn't really want to use mustard and I went with brown sugar instead of honey. These came out pretty good. The bourbon flavor was definitely strong enough, the sweetness was just right, and my cooking technique ensured that they were done just as my husband likes them. Covering and cooking did thin out the sauce a little, however, so if you want a thicker sauce, you can simmer uncovered to finish off the chops.
Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops (by me, inspired by above links)
4 boneless pork chops (about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick)
4 Tbs butter, divided (I used 1/2 "I Can't Believe Its Not Butter", 1/2 regular)
salt & pepper to taste
2 oz bourbon
2 Tbs brown sugar
Melt 2 Tbs butter in medium saute pan (with a cover). Season pork with salt & pepper and cook in butter until both sides are brown (4-5 minutes per side). Set aside. Remove pan from heat to carefully add bourbon, then return to the pan for 30 seconds to 1 minute boiling rapidly so the alcohol burns off. Add remaining 2 Tbs butter and melt into sauce, then add brown sugar and stir until well combined. Return pork to the pan and flip a couple times to coat well in sauce. Cover and simmer on medium for 10 minutes. Serve with rice, spooning sauce over the chops.

Crockpot Pepper Steak

One thing I have tried to do with this blog is to write about all the fabulous dishes that I've been trying, but also to be honest and blog about the not so great dishes, too. This dish would fall into the "not so great" pool. I think the main problem is that the meat used in this dish (sirloin) was so lean that it just got tough in the crock pot instead of the usual crockpot beef fare, which is tender and juicy. It was also lacking in a bold flavor and was awfully bland (if I hadn't added the A-1 Sauce, it would have been inedible). I look forward to making this dish again, but using the standard stir fry method. So here is a recipe that I wouldn't recommend!
Slow Cooker Pepper Steak (from allrecipes)
2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into 2 inch strips
garlic powder to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cube beef bouillon
1/4 cup hot water (I used a 1/4 cup of beef stock instead of bouillon/water)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 large green bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
I added: About 2 Tbs A-1 Steak Sauce
Sprinkle strips of sirloin with garlic powder to taste. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil and brown the seasoned beef strips. Transfer to a slow cooker. Stir in onion, stewed tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and salt.
Cover, and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low for 6 to 8 hours.
After 8 hours, turn crockpot to high (or simmer, if your crockpot has that function). Add bell peppers, A-1 sauce and mixture of beef stock (or bouillon mixture) & cornstarch to crockpot and stir well to combine. Cook for another hour. Serve over rice or noodles.

Seared Ahi with Sauteed Tomatoes

I was on my own for dinner for this meal, and I was thinking about going to a restaurant that my husband doesn't like much to get my favorite seared ahi over mixed greens salad. Instead, I decided to sear some ahi on my own. I went to our local seafood market and picked up some sashimi grade ahi (I would NEVER eat this dish so rare unless eating the highest quality sashimi ahi). I was tempted to just slice this up and eat with some rice, sashimi style, but I continued with this recipe I found on allrecipes. Before I seared the tuna, I threw some grape tomatoes into the hot oil and stirred until they just started to blister and split. I think next time, I will get my pan a little hotter before cooking, as the tuna would have been even better with a little more color on the outside, but other than that, this was an excellent, healthy meal.
Sesame Seared Ahi
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 (6 ounce) tuna steaks
1/2 cup sesame seeds
wasabi paste (I omitted)
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, honey and sesame oil. Divide into two equal parts. Stir the rice vinegar into one part and set aside as a dipping sauce. Spread the sesame seeds out on a plate. Coat the tuna steaks with the remaining soy sauce mixture, then press into the sesame seeds to coat. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Place steaks in the pan, and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. Serve with the dipping sauce and wasabi paste.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Delicious & Easy Mongolian Beef

This recipe might be one of my favorites so far in the food blogging world. It is not only tasty, it is super easy to make. It is restaurant quality, but with simple ingredients, and even uses flank steak, which is about as lean a beef cut as you are going to find. You might be able to tell from this blog that I really enjoy Asian dishes, so this is definitely going to be added to our list of regulars. The source for this (and I swear, I didn't plan this) is once again, Elly Says Opa. I think it is funny that the last three recipes I've blogged about have all been Elly's, but her recipes are just calling my name lately! I'm such a blog stalker!
Mongolian Beef (from Elly Says Opa)
2/3 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain
3 Tbsp. corn starch
3 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. (heaping) red pepper flakes (I might add more next time)
2-3 large scallions, sliced
Pat the steak pieces and make sure they’re dry; then, toss the steak and cornstarch together. Be sure all pieces are fully coated, but shake off excess corn starch. Mix together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Heat half the oil in a wok at medium-high heat and add the ginger and garlic. Once fragrant (30 seconds or so), add the soy sauce mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl. Turn the heat up on the wok and add the remaining oil. Add the beef and cook, stirring until just browned. Pour the sauce back in and let it cook with the meat. Let the sauce thicken to your liking, and then add the green onions in just before plating.

Oops! Really Spicy Chicken with Rice & Beans

I enjoy spicy foods, especially those that use unique spices to create a rich flavor to the dish. This recipe had the potential to be fantastic, but my lack of knowledge of the degree of heat of the spices I had available really ruined this dish for me. For some reason, I have had a really tough time finding ancho chile pepper at most of my local grocery stores (and I live in California, for Pete's sake!). I thought that Chipotle Chile Powder would be an okay substitute and didn't look into the relative Scoville scale heat index for each. Little did I know, my chosen substitute was 5X hotter than the original ingredient! Thank goodness my husband was hungry after his ride and ate a bunch of this dish. I could only eat about a third of my plate, it was so hot! However, both of us kept saying, "When my mouth cools off enough to taste something, I enjoy the flavors of this dish!" I finally found Ancho Chile Pepper at a seldom visited grocery store, and I really look forward to making this again!

Red Chile Chicken & Rice with Black Beans (from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless via Elly Says Opa)

2 Tbsp. canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1.25-1.5 lbs. total)
2.5 Tbsp. ancho chili powder, divided (or Chipotle Chili Powder, if you are crazy)
1 medium onion, large dice
1 cup rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions, roots and wilted outer leaves removed before chopping
1/2 to 1 cup salsa for serving
Heat the oil in a medium-large heavy pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt and 1 Tbsp. of the ancho chili powder. Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown on each side, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.
Add the onion and rice to the pot. Stir for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque. Add the garlic and the remaining 1.5 Tbsp. ancho chili powder. Cook one minute, and then add the broth and salt to taste. Stir well. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Cut the chicken breast into 1″ pieces. Add them to the pot along with the beans. Re-cover and cook 12 minutes longer.
Sprinkle the green onions and test a kernel of rice. It should have no more than a hint of chalkiness at in the center, in which case you place the cover back on, remove it from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes. If it’s not cooked, cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve with salsa for each person to spoon on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

This recipe has shown up on so many blogs lately, and the original recipe belongs to a great blogger, Elly, over at Elly says Opa. We love chicken parmesan, but I haven't made mine in a while because it isn't all that healthy. I liked that this recipe included all the flavors with none of the deep frying (lets face it, baked chicken parm. just isn't as good as the fried stuff!). Elly uses her broiler for this recipe, and I think I will in the future as well. I couldn't turn on our ancient oven and heat up the house any more than it already is here in CA with no A/C! By grilling these, the burgers were just a little more moist than they should have been. They smelled amazing as they cooked, though, and I was so excited to use some of my home grown parsley, which is the most successful herb from my patio herb garden so far! I won't rewrite the recipe, my changes were that I used the grill instead of broiling and I omitted the mushrooms cuz I don't like em! Thanks, Elly!

Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Corn Salsa

When we returned from DC, I was inspired to cook with more vegetables and beans because H + L eat so many great vegetarian dishes (they aren't vegetarian, just eat that way a lot of the time). I decided that on the first night back, I would make a grilled chicken dish that I've been wanting to try for a while and I would add a warm black bean & corn salsa similar to one we made in DC. I loved the entire dish, but my husband was more of a fan of the chicken by itself. We will definitely make the chicken again. It tasted similar to the margarita grilled chicken at Chili's. I used really good tequila (Patron Silver) but that is obviously overkill for this dish. It was very yummy, though.
I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I've listed my changes below.

Tequila & Lime Grilled Chicken (from Good Things Catered)

2 lbs chicken tenders (I used about a pound of boneless chicken breast, cut into strips)
1/4 cup tequila (I used Patron, yummy!)
1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro (I used flat leaf parsley, we hate cilantro)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeno
1/4 cup onion
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. each salt, coriander (I omitted) and cumin
Combine all but chicken in food processor (I used the magic bullet). Blend for 2 minutes. In Gallon bag, add chicken & marinade. Refridgerate for 30 minutes (no longer or the chicken will cook from the citrus). Grill on medium/medium low for 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before eating.

Warm Black Bean & Corn Salsa (my recipe)
1 cup black beans, rinsed well
1 cup corn kernels (thawed if using frozen)
1 hot house tomato, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1 Tbs lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat & stir until hot and well incorporated.