Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alabama Smokehouse Burger



Last month I introduced you to our new favorite burger. My husband and I both agreed it was our favorite. Then I made this burger...and now my husband and I are having a disagreement as to which burger is better. While I agree both burgers are quite good the flavor of the andouille takes the first burger over the top, in my opinion. My husband however, loves white sauce and pork..so I should have known better! The recipe actually came from the Food Network show, Ultimate Recipe Showdown and won the round for best tasting burger. That should tell you everything you need to know, the burger is good. I wasn't sure how much I would love the white sauce...I can only handle so much vinegar, but it was surprisingly good, the flavors weren't overpowering.

Alabama Smokehouse Burger

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For the Alabama White Sauce:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

12 slices bacon, cooked, reserving 1 1/2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat

For the burgers:

2 pounds ground pork

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 slices smoked Gouda

6 Kaiser rolls, split

2 1/2 cups shredded greens

To make Alabama White Sauce:

In a small mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and black pepper. Mix until well combined and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the burgers:

Combine the pork, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper in  a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat from the skillet. Mix well, handing the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the size of the rolls.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Brush the grill rack with oil to prevent sticking. Arrange the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, top the burgers with equal amounts of Gouda and put the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to lightly toast.

To assemble the burgers, place a generous amount of Alabama white sauce on the cut side of the rolls. On the bottom half of each roll place shredded greens, a cheese-topped patty, and 2 slices of bacon. Cover with the top of the roll and serve.

Source adapted from: www.foodnetwork.com

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bacon-Wrapped Teriyaki Chicken Skewers



First, I have to say my picture is no bueno…I must have been really hungry and in a hurry to eat! Despite the picture, this dish can be as simple as you want to make it, using store-bought teriyaki sauce or making your own homemade version. Teriyaki sauce is a great compliment to chicken and even pineapple, so the thought of marrying the two together with some bacon sounded too good to resist. When making skewers, it is important that all ingredients placed on the skewers are close in size. This will ensure that everything is cooked properly. Depending on ingredients, I often place meats on separate skewers due to the different cooking times. The bacon should yield a crispy shell, the chicken should be nice and juicy, and the pineapple should add a sweet note to complete the dish.

Bacon-Wrapped Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

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1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast

Approximately 8 oz. bacon (not thick cut)

Pineapple chunks, from a can or fresh

Teriyaki sauce, store bought or homemade

Kebab skewers

Prep chicken by cutting into bite-sized pieces and cut bacon in half.

Wrap bacon around chicken, stretching the bacon to fit, if needed. Secure with a skewer, and top with a chunk of pineapple. Repeat until skewer is full. Repeat with remaining chicken and skewers.

Pour teriyaki sauce over skewers, reserving about 1/4 cup. Marinate skewers for at least 4 hours, but no more than 8 hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place skewers on grill and baste with reserved teriyaki sauce. Cook about 7 minutes and flip skewers. Baste again with teriyaki sauce and cook for another 7 minutes.

Source: Our Best Bites

Friday, June 25, 2010

Honey-Hoisin Pork Tenderloin



Here is another great pork tenderloin recipe for those interested in a sweet and savory combo. For those unfamiliar with hoisin sauce, you can typically find it located in the Asian section of the grocery store. One thing I omitted from the recipe was sesame seeds. I didn’t have any in the pantry and quite honestly didn’t want to buy them for one dish. Another adjustment I made to the recipe was using regular honey. The original recipe calls for sage honey, but again I just used what I had on hand. All together,  the flavors worked well together and the end result was another moist, flavorful pork tenderloin.

Honey-Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

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2 tablespoons sliced green onions

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon hot water

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. pork tenderloin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine green onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, water, and garlic in a small bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into a large zip-top bag; reserve remaining honey mixture. Add pork to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Remove pork from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle pork with salt. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork; cook 2 minutes, browning on all sides. Brush 1 tablespoon reserved honey mixture over pork; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place skillet in oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until thermometer registers 160 degrees.

Place pork on a platter; let stand 5 minutes. Cut pork across the grain into thin slices. Drizzle with the remaining honey mixture.

Source adapted from: www.myrecipes.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010




What could possible be a better way to end a Mexican themed dinner than with tasty churros?!? To continue the Tex-Mex theme I decided to try making churros from scratch. This particular recipe calls for the zest of an orange to be included in the bread dough. I was very surprised to taste how well the orange married with the cinnamon and sugar, making this one of the fanciest and tastiest churros to date! I found the easiest way to coat the churros with the cinnamon-sugar was to take a small paper bag, such as a brown paper lunch bag, throw in a few churros and shake ‘em around until they are completely coated in cinnamon and sugar goodness!


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Vegetable oil, for deep frying

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 stick butter

1 cup water

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

1 orange, zested

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

4 eggs

Fill a deep-fryer or large Dutch oven halfway with vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl or in a small paper bag. Set aside.

Combine the butter, water, and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. One it has come to a boil, lower to medium heat and add the flour, orange zest, and nutmeg, stirring constantly until it comes away from the pan and it forms a ball.

Transfer dough to a bowl and use an electric mixer to help cool it off. At this point you can whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, until it becomes a smooth batter.

Transfer batter to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Working in batches, carefully pipe 4-inch long ribbons directly into the hot oil to fry. Fry until golden, turning if necessary, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels. Transfer the churros into the cinnamon/sugar mixture and toss to coat.

Serve immediately while still warm.

Source: www.foodnetwork.com/paula-deen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicken Empanadas



I might have shared with you before my love for Tex-Mex. Some of my favorite restaurants are back home in Oklahoma, where the chips, salsa, queso, and homemade tortillas are freely flowing. It is hard to describe why I love the food so much, but there is just nothing like it! The only close alternative to Tex-Mex here is On the Border; sad, but true. The problem is that On the Border happens to be in Jersey, so even that has become a “special occasion” place. When I need a little jolt of Mexican inspired food, I go for empanadas. Empanadas are a quick solution for an easy fix. Typically empanadas have a flaky, pastry outside with meat and melted cheese tucked away inside. They make a great appetizer, but could also pass for a meal. I prefer to use chicken, but you could easily substitute for ground beef. They would also be great served with the homemade salsa I shared with you last week.

Chicken Empanadas

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3 cups cooked chicken, chopped

8 oz Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

15 oz package  refrigerated pie crust

water (for assembly)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine chicken, Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, red bell pepper, jalapeno, cumin, salt, and pepper. Unroll 1 piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15 inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining pie crust, making 12 to 15 circles total. Arrange 1 round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of curst with water. Please 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with remaining rounds and chicken mixture. Place empanadas on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

Source: www.foodnetwork.com/paula-deen

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father’s Day



I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day yesterday. I spent the day in upstate New York, so my Father’s day post is a little delayed! This is my Dad. I saved all the mushy stuff for his actual Father’s Day card, but I couldn’t help but post a little something as well. Holidays like these are hard for me, especially when you are so far away from your family. There are so many things I’ve learned for my Dad, most of which has been learned through example. He has been my cheerleader through everything and has always encouraged each decision I have made. He has taught me to never give up and to never settle for less than I deserve. I know that I am a very luck girl and very thankful for everything he has done for my brother and me.

In honor of my Dad here are some recipes that make me think of him…if we lived closer to each other I know we would be sharing these dishes regularly!!

Sticky Buns


Orange Chicken


Sweet and Sour Chicken


Garlic Fried Rice


Ginger Snap Cookies


Friday, June 18, 2010

Almond Joy Brownies



When I think of Almond Joys, I usually break out in song, “Sometimes you feel like a nut….!” Sorry, I couldn’t help myself on that one! I have a beloved co-worker that LOVES almond joys. The past few years on her birthday I have brought her a package of mini almond joys, but this year I decided to do something a little different… introducing Almond Joy’s in brownie form! Think of coconut soaked in sweetened condensed milk, sandwiched in between layers of rich, dark chocolate brownie, and a thin layer of chopped almonds….wow! One ingredient that helped make this brownie so decadent is Hershey's special dark cocoa powder; it really makes a big difference in flavor and I recommend using it in this recipe. If you don't have it on hand or can't find it, you can always use regular cocoa powder, which will give the brownie a more semi-sweet chocolate flavor. If you have a lover of Almond Joy's in your family, make this for them over the weekend, they will be in coconut-brownie bliss!!

Almond Joy Brownies

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3/4 cup cocoa powder (recommended: Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/8 cup all purpose flour

2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

2/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 8 x 8 inch square pan with foil and spray lightly with non-stick spray.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder. Let stand 3 minutes. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then add sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Fold in salt and flour and stir until blended. Spread half the batter evenly in pan.

Combine coconut and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl. Spread dollops of coconut mixture oven the brownie batter. Sprinkle chopped almonds over coconut mixture. Spread remaining brownie batter over coconut mixture. Smooth carefully with a knife.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature. Cut into squares.

Source adapted from: Dinner & Dessert, originally from Baking and Boys

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Restaurant Style Salsa



In my book there are two different types of salsa. Type A salsa focuses more on the tomato. The tomato flavors are more apparent, the flavor is mild, and the consistency is a wee bit runny from the juice of the tomatoes. Type B salsa is more focused on spice. The tomato flavor is there, but more muted, with lots of spice and a thicker sauce. My husband makes a really good ‘type B” salsa, but I'm always up for trying a new version. I think this particular salsa recipe fits more in the "type A" category. I found the flavors to be really good, but the spice level was missing a bit. I doctored it up to my liking, but the man of the house still thought it could use more spice. I left the originally recipe below because salsa should be made according to your own preferences. If it needs more spice, add in some more black pepper and/or jalapeƱos until its right for you! With that said, this is still a great salsa recipe - as the name indicates "restaurant" quality and definitely better than any kind from a jar!

Restaurant Style Salsa

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28 oz canned whole tomatoes with juice

2 (10 oz) cans Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, quartered and thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 cup cilantro

juice of 1/2 a lime

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until desired consistency, about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least one hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Source: Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes



Looking for a simple pasta salad to add to your list of favorites? This was such an impressive and simple dish that the whole family loved! The pasta reminded me of one of my favorite pizzas, Margherita, with a nice and light sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.  Think of nice hunks of fresh mozzarella, some fresh basil, and  parmesan – add in some pasta, served hot or cold, with sun-dried tomatoes…Delish! The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of kalamata olives (black olives) and a teaspoon of capers, neither of which I like or have on hand, so I left them out. I served this as a main course, but it could easily be a side dish. If your family needs a little protein, grilled chicken could also be added. My family has already requested to make this dish again, so I guess it’s safe to say it’s a keeper!

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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For the Pasta:

1 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta

Kosher salt

Olive Oil

1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced

1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced

6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the Dressing:

5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, diced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

To make the Pasta:

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes,  mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

To make the Dressing:

Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and basil, and toss well.

(This salad sits well, so you can make it early in the day. Add Parmesan and basil just before serving.)

Source adapted from: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Monday, June 14, 2010

Red Wine Balsamic Chicken



I think I have stated before that my “grown-up” taste buds are finally kicking in. I have stayed away from balsamic vinegar for quite some time, I used to hate the taste of  it. Maybe it was because the quality of the balsamic was poor, not quite sure, but I have finally started to appreciate the flavor. I still haven’t moved up to having straight balsamic on my salads and such, but I do love it in marinades and other small quantities. This particular marinade was wonderful with the chicken. Light, yet sweet flavors with a subtle punch from the vinegar. A perfect dish to add to your next night of grilling.

Red Wine Balsamic Chicken

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4 to 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or orange)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon dried minced onion

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fresh parsley, for garnish, if desired

Pound chicken until uniform in thickness.  Place chicken in a large zip-top bag or deep dish and top with remaining ingredients. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.  When ready to cook, remove chicken from refrigerator and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat grill on medium-high heat. Grill chicken for a total of 10 to 15 minutes (or until done), flipping once after 5 minutes. Remove chicken from grill and let rest, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes. Top with parsley, if desired.

Source adapted from: Good Things Catered

Friday, June 11, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake Ice Cream



The title of this ice cream is quite long, but it does capture all the flavors included in this sweet treat. This was my first time using an egg base and I was really surprised at the difference in taste. Even though it does add extra prep time, the results are worth it! I also understand that not everyone has the time to make homemade shortcakes for this ice cream, so I have a few suggestions…find store bought shortcakes or use graham cracker crumbs. For those that might be looking for a homemade cheesecake ice cream, this was awesome. Substitute the strawberries for whatever you desire and you will be impressed with the results! I am looking forward trying many, many more flavors this summer. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake Ice Cream

Makes about 6 quarts

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2 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened

2 pounds fresh strawberries, finely chopped

5 cream cheese shortcakes, crumbled

In a large saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups cream, 2 1/2 cups sugar, and eggs. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently; remove from heat.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in hot cream mixture. Cover, and chill completely.

In a medium bowl, combine strawberries and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, tossing gently to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes.

To cream mixture, stir in remaining 1 cup half-and-half, remaining 1 cup cream, strawberries, and crumbled shortcakes. Pour mixture into container of an electric ice cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours for a firmer texture.

Source: Cooking with Paula Deen, July/August 2008

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberry Shortcakes



Strawberry season is one of my favorite times of the year. It means that the warmer weather is upon us and strawberries are in their prime, meaning lots of good deals at the store and lots of strawberry desserts! I made a batch of cream cheese shortcakes over Memorial Day weekend, mainly for a surprise I will tell you about tomorrow. Since I only used half a batch, I couldn’t let them go to waste….thus we made strawberry shortcakes!  The shortcakes were very good on their own, only made better with some strawberries and fresh cream on top.  To make fresh whipped cream, whip 1 cup of  heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar and whip until soft peaks form again.

Make sure to stop by tomorrow and I will show you what I did with the remaining shortcakes!

Cream Cheese Shortcakes

Makes about 10 shortcakes

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2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (3oz) package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add cream cheese, stirring to combine. Add cream, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, re-rolling dough as necessary. Place shortcakes on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely. Crumble 5 shortcakes; reserve remaining shortcakes for another use.

Source: Cooking with Paula Deen, July/August 2008

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Asian Barbecue Chicken



One thing I have learned, or better yet, experienced since moving to New York is the effects of no central air. I guess I was pretty naive in thinking that all homes come with central heat and air. Needless to say, once the heat kicks up, as it has over the last couple of weeks, the oven takes a little siesta for a couple of months. This is when our grill becomes the "must-have" item of the season. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining one bit. I love the warm weather and I'm always happy to try new recipes for grilling! I have had a few new Asian-inspired recipes waiting to try out and with a husband who is always in the mood for Asian cuisine I thought this particular recipe sounded promising. Bone-in chicken thighs are always a great choice for grilling, they provide juicy and tender meat every time. The marinade was really good, not overly sweet, but different from your normal barbecue sauce. Served with some rice, it can be a healthy and filling meal!

Asian Barbecue Chicken

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1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 to 8 chicken thighs, skinned

Cooking spray

Lime wedges, for garnish, if desired

Green onions, for garnish, if desired

Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, crushed red pepper, curry powder, and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal and marinate in refrigerator for 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare grill.

Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade. Place marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute.

Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 20 minutes or until done, turning and basting frequently with the marinade. Garnish with lime wedges and green onion tops, if desired.

Source adapted from: www.myrecipes.com

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deviled Pork Chops



Did you know that “deviling” a dish is actually a method of cooking? Not only did I try a new pork recipe, but I learned something new along the way! “Deviling” a dish is a method used to spice the meat, usually done with mustard, who knew?!? I had some pork tenderloin in the freezer waiting to be used, so I decided to cut the tenderloin into medallions instead of using regular pork chops for this dish. The overall taste was juicy, tender pork with flavors of Dijon mustard, tarragon and hints of orange juice and brandy.

Deviled Pork Chops

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1/3 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Freshly cracked black pepper

6 (boneless or bone-in) pork chops

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, orange juice, brandy, Worcestershire sauce, tarragon, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Smear the mustard mixture over both sides of each pork chop. Let stand for 20 minutes at room temperature, or over and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. If refrigerated, remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until done to your liking, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve the chops immediately.

Source: Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Grilling

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chocolate Chunk – Mocha Cookies



It’s FRIDAY! Don’t you just love four day weeks at work?!? The week just goes by so much smoother and faster. So, I decided to make these cookies on a whim over the weekend. I wasn’t expecting anything more than a chocolate cookie, which I guess is a good way to be pleasantly surprised. This cookie was definitely chocolaty , so much so that if I ate more than two at a time I would go into shock! Just kidding, but seriously this cookie is full of goodness, very similar to a brownie, but in cookie form. Each bite is a pillow of chocolate with chunks of more chocolate, topped with even more chocolate…get the idea!

Chocolate Chunk-Mocha Cookies

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For the Cookies:

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

For the Mocha Frosting:

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

¼ cup hot strong brewed coffee

¼ cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

To Make the Cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter, sugars, and vanilla extract at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, being just until blended after each addition. Gradually add in the flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in chocolate chips/chunks.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until puffy. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks. Let cookies cool 30 minutes or until completely cool. Spread cookies with Mocha Frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

Stir together cocoa, coffee, butter, and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, stirring until creamy.

Source adapted fro: www.myrecipes.com

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Homemade Pizza Dough

Yesterday I shared one of my new favorite pizza combos, Chicken Bacon Ranch. I also mentioned that I have started making my own pizza dough instead of buying from the grocery store. I love that this recipe allows me to create enough dough for two pizzas in one batch. The dough can also be used right away or frozen for later use. I prefer a crisper pizza dough, which can be accomplished by pre-heating your stoneware. This allows the dough to begin baking and crisping on the bottom as soon as it hits the stone, before being placed in the oven. I have including the instructions for accomplishing this below. For those that prefer a less crispy crust, following the instructions below, but do not pre-heat the stoneware. Either way you are guaranteed fresh pizza dough, perfect for any kind of pizza!

Homemade Pizza Dough

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1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cup water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Measure the warm water into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.
To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkle with flour or cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.
Lower oven temperature to 425 degrees. Place dough on baking stone and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and top as desired. Return to oven and continue baking until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling, an additional 3 to 7 minutes.
Source adapted from: Annie’s Eats, originally from Baking Illustrated

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza



Over the past several years my pizza world has expanded beyond the pizza delivery guy! First, I discovered my love of Maui Zaui pizza. Determined to recreate the pizza at home I soon realized many of my favorites could be made just as good if not better and fresher from home. I then discovered a great pizza dough at our local grocery store...which made me realize that I too could make good dough right at home. Now that I have a some new tools under my belt, it is time to expand my pizza selection even more! As a kid, we would often frequent the local pizza joint every Sunday after church with some of our closest family friends. I don't remember who encouraged our behavior, but the "kids table" would always dip pizza in ranch dressing, especially the pepperoni! When I saw this recipe I knew I would A) love it and B) be reminded of my younger years. I enjoyed this pizza combo so much I have made it twice in the past two weeks!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

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1 pizza crust (homemade, pre-made or store bought)

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup ranch dressing

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and sliced into small strips

1 to 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

4 to 6 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, for garnish if desired

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place stoneware in oven to preheat for 20 to 30 minutes. Place shaped dough on stoneware after it has been preheated. Brush edges with extra-virgin olive oil and place into oven. Pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes.

Once dough is pre-baked, remove from oven and begin topping with ingredients. Spread ranch dressing in an even layer over the crust. Top with minced garlic, chicken, bacon, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with fresh parsley.

Source adapted from: Blogchef.net