Monthly Archives: November 2016

Simple Steak & Noodles

Tis the season for hearty fare!   Growing up we ate quite a few crockpot meals and my favorite ones contained the soft egg noodles that still kept a bit of chew to them.  For the most part they’re commonly served with either chicken or tuna recipes, but why leave out my favorite??…beef!  The slowcooker makes the cut up roast so very tender and who doesn’t love not having that extra step of boiling noodles?!

*I garnished ours with a bit of chopped Italian flat leaf parsley for freshness and a spoonful of sour cream for extra creaminess..completely optional though!  However, promise me you won’t forget the bread and butter!!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 1/2 lbs beef roast (chuck, tri-tip, etc)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 4 cups (32oz) beef broth
  • 1 packet onion soup mix (I.e. Lipton)
  • 1 package mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • A couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 package egg noodles, uncooked (12-16oz)

Begin by simply adding the cubed roast to a gallon size ziplock bag along with the flour and the salt and pepper; shake to coat.  

Heat a pan and the canola oil to medium heat.  Add the coated beef (in batches/do not overcrowd your pan, this will take 3-4 batches) to the heated pan and sear each side.  Once the meat has seared, add to your slowcooker.   

To that slow cooker, simply add in the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the noodles, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  The last hour you will add in the egg noodles to cook through.

When time is up, garnish with a bit of chopped parsley,a dollop of sour cream and a nice hunk of crusty bread for dipping…if so desired ;). Enjoy!!  

Albuquerque Turkey Melt

Now I must admit that I purposely buy the best in-house roasted turkey from our local deli just so I can eat these all year long.  However, this sandwich is best when it’s used as a fun way to use up that glorious left-over turkey!

Growing up we had the usual turkey day leftovers:  your basic plate, your basic turkey sandwich, turkey ala king, turkey soup…now they’re all quite delicious, I’ve just been there too many times for too many years and was ready for a flavorful change!  ..and here it is!

The Starting Lineup

  • Fresh carved turkey, homemade or deli
  • Texas toast bread
  • Swiss cheese, slices
  • Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Avocados, sliced
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can Hatch green chiles, hot
  • Mayonnaise
  • Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 Tbsp butter

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Grate the parmesan cheese and lay the cheese out on a baking sheet.  Beat the 4 eggs in a shallow dish. albqturk4.JPG

To assemble the sandwich, smear a good amount of mayonnaise on the 1 side of each piece of bread.  Next place on a slice of Swiss cheese, followed by the turkey, tomatoes, avocado slices, red onion and green chilies.  *You can also add another slice of cheese on the opposite side of the bread if you like it real ooey-gooey cheesy!

Next, heat the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Carefully dip the prepared sandwich into the egg mixture and place onto the grated parmesan cheese. Coat both sides of the dipped sandwich with the cheese.  Again, carefully, transfer the dipped and coated sandwich onto the heated pan and cook both sides till slightly browned.  Place each browned sandwich BACK onto the baking sheet and transfer these to the preheated oven.  *The oven will cook the dipped sandwich completely through and melt that cheese perfectly!

Bake the sandwiches for about 10 minutes.  Allow to rest for 2-3 minutes, cut on the bias and serve.  Enjoy!!!

albqturk3.JPG

 

Baked “Fried” Chicken w/ Alabama White Sauce

Not everyone is familiar with the wide variety of barbecue sauces that exist in this great country.  Most know of the thick, slightly sweet Kansas City style, the tangy vinegar or mustard based Carolina flavors and that damn good bold and spicy Texas rendition.  However, if you ever find yourself in the northern (or even not so north) parts of Alabama, you’ll find their zesty, tangy and a bit quirky WHITE version.  Yep!  White bbq sauce that I must admit is pretty darn tasty!!

It originated in 1925 by the legendary Bob Gibson (his restaurant is still there and busy as ever!) where he created a tangy, mayonnaise based concoction that is great for marinating, basting or dipping.  Really, every southern home should have this condiment on hand for the more traditional smoked or grilled chicken, pulled pork sandwiches or even a fantastic french fry sauce!  Give it a try..I know it won’t be your last time! 

*Their are a few renditions of the famous white sauce, but as long as you have mayo, vinegar, salt and pepper, you can add to it!

The Starting Lineup
Baked “Fried” Chicken

  • 4 Chicken Breasts, thin sliced
  • 3/4 cup Alabama White Sauce
  • 1 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Alabama White Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Creole mustard 
  • 1 tsp horseradish, prepared
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 

Alabama White Sauce ingredients..


At least an hour before you’re planning on eating, mix up the Alabama White Sauce so that A.  The flavors can really meld together in the refridgerator and B.  You can marinate the chicken in 1/2 of the sauce prior to dredging and baking.

In a medium size bowl, simply whisk together all of sauce ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Next, in either a baking dish or a gallon-size ziplock bag, pour out about half of the sauce to coat the chicken breasts.  *Make sure not to cross contaminate here!

Cover both the bowl of remaining white sauce and the now coated chicken with plastic wrap/zip up bag.  Place in the refridgerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.  

Time to eat!!  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prepare a foil-lined baking sheet with a wire rack on top (you may need to spray the rack with non-stick).  Remove the marinated chicken from the refridgerator.

*This next step is optional, but recommended….In a skillet heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat.  Add in the 1 3/4 cups of  Panko and the 1/4 cup of cornmeal.  Lightly brown the breading, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a shallow dish.

To the (toasted) breadcrumbs, whisk in the spices.

Take each sauce coated chicken breast, one by one, and dredge in the spiced (and toasted) breadcrumbs.  Gently press the panko on as well as possible and transfer each to the wire racked baking sheet.  It’s ok if it’s not perfect..rustic is pretty!  

Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until outside is nice and crunchy and the centers are cooked through.  

Serve with a small dish of that tangy Alabama White Sauce for dipping or just pour on over the chicken!  I like to accompany ours with a side of bacon black eyed peas, a country salad and bread and butter..enjoy!!

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup (slowcooker)

It’s beginning to (finally) feel a lot more like Fall around these parts!  Goodness, the weather’s been in the 90’s, in November, in Texas!  Though the lone star state definitely has its fair share of warm weather..it usually doesn’t last THIS long.  So when we finally dropped temp and it was a cool 60 degree high, you know I just had to bust out my slowcooker for a warm soup dinner!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package Italian sausage (if links, remove from casing)
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • 2 cans diced Italian style tomatoes
  • 1 80z block cream cheese, cubed
  • 32oz chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 1 bag spinach leaves
  • 1 zucchini, sliced & quartered
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 

Begin by simply spraying your crockpot with a bit of non-stick spray, followed by the rinsing and chopping of your vegetables and heating a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Once the pan is nice and hot, add in the Italian sausage.  After it is about halfway cooked through you can then add in the chopped red bell pepper, onion and garlic.  Allow the sausage to cook the all of the way through and the peppers and onion to soften.

Now you can either drain the grease from the sausage mixture or just use a slotted spoon (Like I did) and scoop the cooked sausage and vegetables straight into the crockpot.

Pour in the two cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes, chicken broth, the sliced zucchini, spinach leaves and cubed cream cheese.  *The spinach may seem like there’s no way it can fit, trust me…it will wilt pretty darn quick!    Cover and turn on low..you can now step away for 6-7 hours.  Yes!!

The hour before you’re planning on eating, add in the gnocchi.  That last hour will soften and cook it for you.  No need to boil it separately first!  Score!

See how simple all of that was?  It’s done!  Serve this creamy, flavorful, hearty soup alongside a piece of buttered crusty bread and you have yourself a meal!  Finish with a snuggly blanket on the couch ;).

Ancho and Coffee Crusted Steak Tacos w/ Spicy Corn Salsa

I’m not sure if it’s because I lived in Arizona, California and Texas, but I’m pretty sure that tacos are a way of life for ‘us people’.  They range in flavors and toppings galore as you have Sonoran, Baja, Texmex, standard beef and cheese, shredded chicken..I could go on and on and on.  So I will!

I tried to break out of that standard taco fare box and make it a little more refined, perhaps bigger and brighter flavors, and boy did that work out for me!  Hey, I had OVER a pound and a half of steak, plus toppings and my family of two (apparently starving) adults and two lil ones and we ate it ALL.  I won’t even bother you with the details of me just standing haphazardly at the butcher block shoving steak slices in..damn good!

*I also mentioned below, please cook to your desired preference..However, we may or may no longer speak if you choose well-done, but…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs flat iron steak
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground coffee
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola and 1 Tbsp butter, for the pan) 

Spicy Corn Salsa

  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (I left seeds in, but remove to cut the heat if desired)
  • Juice of 1 ripe lime
  • pinch kosher salt

Garnish

  • Corn tortillas, grilled and warmed
  • Lime wedges
  • Salty cheese (cotija, feta, parmesan)
  • Jalapeños, thinly sliced. 

Lets marinate this steak!  2-3 hours prior to grilling up, you’ll want to begin this.  You could do a longer marinade time, however, marinades can break down the meat too much and it just won’t be quite as good, texture wise.

In a small dish, whisk together all of the spices listed above for the steak.  While using your fingers, coat the steak evenly with the spice blend, cover and place in your refridgerator until ready to grill.  

Next we can prepare that super easy spicy corn salsa!  As always instructed ;), start by rinsing and chopping and dicing the veggies needed.  

In a microwave safe medium-size bowl, pour in the 2 cups of frozen corn.  Pop into your microwave for just about 30 seconds tops.  You do NOT want hot, mushy corn.  On to the other easy part, to that corn add in the prepared red onion, halved tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and diced jalapeños.  Give a good squeeze of fresh lime juice and a hefty pinch of salt.  Toss to coat, cover and like the steak, refridgerate till needed.  

Ok friends..now here come your options and the “blah-blah-blah” of how to cook a steak.  Please follow along.

You can absolutely grill this (quite delish), you can sear in an oven proof pan and pop in the oven to finish or even vice versa, you can place it under the broiler..do what makes your heart sing.  However, if you want it how I made it, then here it goes:

Remove the marinated, dry-rubbed steak from the refridgerator 20 minutes prior to cooking.  I brought my cast iron skillet up to medium/medium-high heat and then added in the 1 Tbsp canola oil and 1 Tbsp butter (never margarine people).

Once the skillet was just slightly smoking, knowing it was hot and ready, I layed the steak into the hot oil and butter.  WALK AWAY.

Let that steak sear and do its thing.  It will of course have a dark outer-edge due to the sugar, coffee and spices creating that great “crust”.  You so, so want that.

I prefer my steak a perfect medium-rare, so for my weight of meat I let each side sear for about 8 minutes on each side…then place on a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.  PLEASE let rest!!  During that time you can get out your choice of salty cheese, the spicy corn salsa AND start to quickly warm and slightly char the corn tortillas!  

*If you have a smaller cut of steak, cook anywhere from 3-5 minutes per side (for medium-rare,  internal temperature of 135 degrees).  Of course you can eat the steak to your liking, so cook it longer if you so desire.

*If you follow the medium-rare advice, but someone in your family is “weird” about that ;), simply take a few of the slices and return back to the pan for just a few seconds.  It WILL cook fast!

Once the steak has had its rest period (keep those juices IN!), slice thinly against the grain..this is sooooo tender and just melts with that fantastic crust.  Drooling….again.  (You can also dice up the slices for small mouths..aka my kiddos).

The time has arrived..assembly time!  Simply take a warm and charred corn tortilla and lay a couple of slices of that beautiful steak on top.  Garnish with a spoonful of the Spicy Corn Salsa, a bit of salty cheese and a few lime wedges..enjoy!!  

Greek Tzatziki Chicken Pasta

Going “global” with this one guys!  Now as y’all know, I basically have two types of cuisines that I prefer to eat…constantly.  Mexican and southern comfort food!!  I do however branch out from time to time and THIS time it’s with my likely 3rd choice, Greek!

Now I used to live by this AMAZING restaurant called “Pita Jungle”, that without fail catered to my cravings of this ethnic fare..saltiness of feta cheese, brininess of kalamata olives, fresh vegetables and the Greek’s unique spices has me every(damn)time.  The only bad part of always getting my ‘fix’, was moving away and having nothing silimilar nearby.  It was time to create my 2nd masterful Greek dish and THIS one is silly easy!

This Greek inspired chicken pasta is full of flavor, yes, BUT it’s also healthy for you too!  Heck, get yourself another helping! 😉  Using non-fat greek yogurt and fresh produce brightens this dish and leaves you not feeling heavy in the least.  *I also used fantastic gluten-free noodles that really help with that after dinner bloated feeling.  Lastly..this dish is also so versatile that it is equally delicious served warm OR cold!  So it’s a fabulous choice for a leftover dinner or lunch at work too!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb chicken breasts/tenders
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cucumber, seeded/cored and sliced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 package penne noodles

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 large cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tsp dill, fresh is best if you have it
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Greek Chicken Marinade

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 salt and pepper, each.  

Alright friends!  In a large gallon size ziplock bag, add in all of the marinade ingredients followed by the chicken.  Seal and place in a dish (to avoid spillage) and into the fridge.  Allow to marinate for about 3 hours.  Do not go too much longer as the citrus in the marinade will change the texture of the chicken.  *You can make the marinade without the lemon juice if you’d like it overnight and add it in later.

Assuming the chicken has been marinating away and it’s time to finish the meal, you’ll next prepare the Tzaziki sauce and again, it’s just as easy as the marinade!  After you dice up the cucumber, simply whisk together all of the above mentioned ingredients, cover and set aside.  *If preparing this in advance, please keep refridgerated until ready to use.  

Onto the vegetables!  Rinse, cut, chop, dice, seed etc. etc. etc. your yummy veggies while also bringing a large stockpot of salted water to a boil.  *I sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper over the vegetables for added flavor.

In a skillet over medium/medium-high heat with 1Tbsp of oil and 1Tbsp of butter, add the marinaded chicken.  Cook through and set aside.  Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook to package directions.  

Once the chicken has cooled slightly, roughly chop into bite size pieces.

Drain the al dente noodles and pour into a 2-qt casserole dish or large serving bowl.

The finish line has arrived…Now it’s just time to cross it!

Simply add the vegetables and olives to the penne pasta, pour on your finished tzatziki sauce and gently toss together with the crumbled feta cheese.  

Serve with extra lemon slices and perhaps a bit more feta cheese and a pinch of fresh dill, enjoy!!  

%d bloggers like this: