Dinner

I know that there are a lot of sites that you could go to with thousands and thousands of recipes. You won’t find that many here, yet ;D, but these are my personal recipes. I developed and cooked each one, and there is a lot of love behind them. Also, I won’t post anything that I haven’t made, so I know that these recipes will actually come out if you follow the instructions. If you find that you have a question about one of them, please feel free to contact me! I hope you love these recipes as much as my family and I do! I will add lots more recipes, so check back often. Happy Cooking!

For a complete list of recipes on the site so far, check the index.

Recipes
Pastelon

Chili Mac

Creamy Chicken Rotini with Swiss Chard

Roast Chicken with Baby Bella Mushroom Stuffing

Rosemary, Thyme and Balsamic Glazed Ribs

Grilled Chicken – Also, a Little Extra About Brines

Slow Roasted Pulled Pork – Can you Say Slaw Burger – MMMM!

Pernil – Or In This Case, Roasted Pork Loin – Puerto Rican and Yummy!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

The Best Lean Hamburgers Ever with Swiss Cheese and Sauted Mushroom Sauce


Spicy Cajun Shrimp over Linguini

Posted by on Apr 3, 2016 in Dinner, featured-slider-post, Food Journal | 0 comments

Spicy Cajun Shrimp over Linguini

This is one of my husband’s very favorite dinners and it can be made in 20 to 30 minutes. I make my own Cajun Seasoning, (recipe at this link https://youtu.be/F0QfO3Mgw7o ) but you can use one bought from the store….although it may not come out quite the same. As with most of my recipes, there is a tutorial on my YouTube Channel – and it can be found at this link https://youtu.be/GIGgoivMIzE

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons Cajun Seasoning

20 Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1 small shallot, sliced thin (about 1 -2 Tablespoons)
15 Cherry Tomatoes
water if needed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons butter
9 ounces frozen spinach (thaw and squeeze out excess liquid)
8 ounces linguini

Instructions
1. Start a large pot of well salted water to boil. I use an 8 quart pot with almost 1/4 cup of iodized salt in it just to give you an idea.
2. Sprinkle the shrimp with the Cajun Seasoning and toss them around until they are well coated. Set them to the side. Also, while you’re waiting on your water to come to a boil, get all of your other ingredients ready.
3. Place the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil into a large braiser pan or a saute pan if you don’t have a braiser.
4. When your water comes to a boil, add the noodles and also put your shrimp into the hot olive oil. Cook the shrimp on both sides (about 2 minutes per side depending on the temperature of your pan and shrimp) DO NOT OVERCOOK!
5. Remove your shrimp from the pan and deglaze it with the white wine, be sure to scrape up any bits left from the shrimp or seasoning.
6. Add the garlic, shallot and tomatoes to the pan and saute until they are fragrant, about 1 minute. If the pan gets too dry add a bit of water to prevent burning.
7. Add one teaspoon of lemon zest, stir and remove from the heat.
8. Add in the butter stirring constantly, then add the spinach. The spinach should be at room temperature. Also, make sure to super squeeze out all of the excess water.
9. Add the linguini and toss.
10. Serve with the shrimp on top. I garnished mine with a sprig of thyme too. Enjoy!

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Fig, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto Pizza

Posted by on Sep 13, 2015 in Dinner | 0 comments

Fig, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto Pizza

Friday night in our house is pizza night. We sometimes have the more traditional pizzas like pepperoni, but sometimes, we like to get a little creative. This is one of those times. This pizza is so delicious. It is piled with fresh figs, creamy goat cheese, thinly sliced prosciutto and then garnished with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and wilted arugula. Enjoy! Oh, I almost forgot, give it a little mist of olive oil at the end to give it a nice shine :)

Ingredients

either a store bought or homemade crust (I’ll share my crust recipe soon)

for the white sauce
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)

top with
mozzarella cheese (2-3 cups depending on what you like)
6 figs cut into eighths
4 ounces goat cheese
4 ounces prosciutto
2 cups arugula
balsamic reduction (store bought or homemade (I have a video recipe))


1. Cream the sauce ingredients together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (overnight is fine too).
2. Par-bake your crust for 7 minutes on 400°F. *I use a pizza stone for this.
3. Spread white sauce on warm crust.
4. Add mozzarella, then figs, and goat cheese and then a little sprinkle of mozzarella (to hold it together and to be pretty :).
5. Return to oven until golden and beautiful.
6. Remove from oven and add the arugula then the prosciutto. I also like to add a little arugula over the prosciutto to make it prettier.
7. Bake for 1-2 more minutes – no more! Remove it from the oven. If you have a spray oil give it a little spray on the top to make the arugula shine. Olive oil is best but canola is fine too.
8. Let it cool for about 5 minutes. Add the balsamic reduction and enjoy!


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Bacalao

Posted by on Sep 5, 2015 in Dinner | 0 comments

Bacalao

Bacalao is one of my favorite Puerto Rican dishes. I hope you love it too!

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds Bacalao (salted cod fish, frozen)
*You can use any combination of these root vegetables, the amount is dependent upon the number of people you’re serving.
yucca
yautia
taro
Purple yam (not traditional, but yummy)
green bananas
red OR white onion (I use red)
olive oil
Kosher and iodized salt
pepper
12 eggs
sea salt for garnish (you can use Kosher salt if you don’t have any)
cilantro (for garnish)


Instructions
1. The bacalao needs to soak overnight. You also have to change the water at least two times. There is a fine line when soaking this. If you don’t change the water enough, it will be way to salty. If you change it too much, it will not be salty enough. Don’t worry though. You can taste it before you cook it and adjust the seasoning accordingly. But let’s just say on average, you will need to change it twice.
2. So, pretend this is the next day and you have soaked your bacalao. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. I use a 7 quart pot with about 3-4 Tablespoons of iodized salt.
3. Prepare your root veggies to be boiled. Each one of them needs to be peeled and chopped. The yucca also needs to have the stem removed from the center. If you are unsure on how to perform any part of this step, I have a video on YouTube (bestbitesforever) that shows you how. Also, I cut them in the order that they take to cook. So the yucca is first and then I add it to the pot followed by the taro (and add to the pot), then the yautia and lastly the purple yam. I boil them all in one pot instead of having four different pots on the stove. I just keep an eye on them and remove them as they’re finished cooking. If you do them in order though, they should finish around the same time.
4. Place your eggs into a pot of cold water and bring them to a boil.
5. Bring another large pot of water up to a simmer. I use a shallow pot large enough to lay my bacalao in. Simmer the bacalao for 15 minutes (do not boil). Pull the bacalao out and allow to cool enough for you to handle it.
6. While your bacalao is simmering, peel your green bananas and add them to the pot of root veggies. *Tip – They are easier to peel if you soak them in very hot water first. Check on other veggies while you’re there :)
7. Once you can handle the fish, follow the natural separation to break it into pieces. You can remove any of the “white skin” as you go (again, see video if needed).
8. By now, your root veggies should be ready to remove from the water. Remove them and set them to the side.
9. Add olive oil into the fish. I use about one cup.
10. Slice one red (or white) onion. I like mine sliced thin, but you can slice them thick if you’d like. Add the onion to the fish. Stir gently so you don’t break the fish up. I actually use my hands for this part. Place the fish into a serving dish. I also like to cut my boiled eggs in half and put them around the dish. Sprinkle with a little sea salt, pepper and chopped cilantro.
11. Serve with the root veggies. Enjoy!


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Pasteles

Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in Dinner | 0 comments

Pasteles

Hi everyone, this is the recipe for pasteles. I will add the pictures and such later, but I’ve had a lot of people contact me for this one and I want to get it out for everyone before Christmas. This recipe should be made in advance and it is better if you have helpers. Enjoy!

This recipe makes 60 pasteles but can easily be divided into thirds (20 or 40 pasteles).

Ingredients for the Filling

6 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
2 Tablespoons achiote oil
6 cups sofrito (my fresh sofrito recipe)
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons capers
45 chopped olives (I used Spanish Olives)
2-3 Tablespoons oregano
2 bay leaves
32 ounces veggie stock
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons currents (optional)
2 large diced potatoes or 1 can chickpeas (or both)
Extra Salt to taste
15 ounce can tomato sauce

Instructions for the Filling
1. Trim the fat off of the pork. Cut it into cubes that are about 1×1.
2. In a large pot, heat 2 Tablespoons of achiote oil over medium high heat.
3. Add the sofrito to the pot. Then add the meat, 2 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt and the black pepper. Stir. (You can do this in smaller batches if you want to brown the meat, it is up to you).
4. Add the capers, olives, oregano and bay leaves.
5. Add enough veggie stock to cover the meat. I used 32 ounces. Add the currents and stir.
6. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
7. Add your potatoes or chickpeas. Just as a side note, if you wanted to use dried chickpeas instead of canned, use 1/3 cup and add them in the beginning (after soaking in salty water overnight).
8. When your potatoes are done, taste your filling and decide if you want more salt or pepper.
9. Once your potatoes are done (about 20 minutes), add the tomato sauce. Set your filling to the side. You will need some of the liquid for your masa. I also let my filling set overnight.

ingredients for the Masa

There are several ingredients that can be used to make masa including calabaza yautia, yucca, Tarro root, green plantains, green bananas or potatoes. Feel free to mix and match these ingredients to come up with your own unique masa. For this recipe you will need 15 pounds total of the ingredients.

4 1/2 pounds Tarro root
3 pounds green plantains
5 pounds kabocha squash or calabaza
2 1/2 pounds of yucca
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

liquids
32 ounces of the cooking liquid from the filling
14 ounces of coconut milk
1 cup milk
1/4 cup achiote oil

you will need to make adjustments to your liquid measurements according to how ripe your masa ingredients are. The liquid measurements are just a guideline and what I used.

1. shred all of your masa ingredients. If you are using a box grater you will use the small holes. If you are using a food processor, you will first use the large hole shredder blade and after you have everything shredded you will go back and use the blade inside of your food processor while you add the liquid ingredients until you get the correct consistency.
2. if you used a box grater, add a small amount of the liquid of your choice at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If you are using the food processor, after shredding, fit your food processor with the blade and begin processing in small batches slowly adding the liquid of your choice while running the food processor until the desired consistency is reached.
3. Wrap your pasteles in banana leaves following the video instructions. Boil for 1 hour 10 minutes and up to 1 hour and 30 minutes until your massa is at the desired consistency.

the video can be found on my YouTube channel youtube.com/bestbitesforever

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Pastelon

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Dinner, Food Journal | 0 comments

Pastelon

Pastelon – (recipe and video tutorial follow) – This recipe is one that I had a ton of fun making because we had family in town from Puerto Rico (Tia Lucy and Joey). I had never actually had Pastelon until we made it together, I had only heard how delicious it was. I have also had quite a few requests for this recipe to my site and to my YouTube channel. So, I’m really glad that I was finally able to make it. Tia Lucy and Joey are super fun to cook with too. And it’s extra cool because Tia Lucy was a professional cook in Puerto Rico for almost 35 years – she’s retired now. Anyway, this Pastelon recipe is awesome and I just want to say thank you to Tia Lucy and Joey for teaching me how to make this super yummy dish. Xavier thanks you too – that’s one more Puerto Rican dish that I get to make for him ;)

Ingredients
8 plantains – very ripe
olive oil
2 cups sofrito, my recipe
2 pounds ground beef
2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Achiote Oil (recipe follows)
3/4 – 1 pound green beans
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 pound chedder cheese, shredded
8 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole)
canola oil


Instructions
1. Begin by peeling you plantains and slicing them into strips long ways. You should try to get four strips per plantain. Set these to the side when you are done. I put them on a sheet pan so that they don’t break up and they have plenty of room. I also put them back onto the same pan after I fry them.
2. Place about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan then saute the two cups of sofrito with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper for a couple of minutes. Add the beef, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and continue cooking until the meat is almost brown. While you are cooking your meat, begin frying the plantains in canola oil. They should be fried until they are golden but not a dark brown.
3. Add the Achiote Oil to the beef mixture. Also, mix the cheeses together in a seperate large bowl.
4. Once the beef is brown (done), add the green beans and continue cooking until they begin to get tender. Taste the mixture and decide if it needs more salt or pepper.
5. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, heavy cream and whole milk along with a about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a little pepper.
6. Once everything is done, it is time to assemble your Pastelon.
7. Begin by buttering the pan. Then build the layers in this order – first, 1/3 of the egg mixture, then a layer of plantains, then cheese mixture, beef, another layer of plantains, another 1/3 of the egg mixture, then more cheese, more beef, next, one last layer of plantains. Finish with a layer of cheese and then the remainder of your egg mixture.
8. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until it’s all melty and good.
9. Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Achiote Oil
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup achiote seeds (annoto seeds)

1. Combine the seeds and the oil in a small saute pan (skillet). Place on medium heat and stir frequently. Allow to cook until you have a deep orange color. Do not allow to boil.


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Chili Mac

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in Dinner, Food Journal | 0 comments

Chili Mac

Chili Mac -(Recipe with video tutorial follow)- This is one of those dinners that everyone in the family loves, from our 18 year old (our oldest) to our 3 year old. It’s comfort food, food that fills your tummy and makes it all warm and yummy feeling. You know, comfort food. It’s also a great recipe for busy mom’s (or busy anyone for that matter). It’s fairly quick and easy to make, pretty nutritious (I can’t call it totally nutritious, after all, it has mac and cheese in it :), but still) and really delicious. What more can you ask for? So, enjoy!


Ingredients
1 family size package of the creamy style mac and cheese
iodized salt (regular table salt will work)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
or
2 cups sofrito
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 (16 ounce) can dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes with the juice
10 – 12 ounce frozen corn

Optional Garnishes
sour cream
green onions

Instructions

1. Prepare the mac and cheese according to the package instructions except, add 1 Tablespoon of salt (preferable iodized) to the water.
2. While the mac and cheese is cooking, in a separate pan, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Add your minced veggies/sofrito to the hot oil. Sauté for about 1 minute.
4. Add one pound of ground beef. I use a lean ground beef for this so that the fat does not have to be drained. If you look at the package of beef, you will see a number like 85/15 or 90/10. These numbers represent the fat to meat ratio. So if you are buying 85/15, you have 85% meat and 15% fat and you will end up with a lot of grease in the pan. If you use a lower fat meat like the 90/10 or the 93/7, you will have a lot less fat and it will not be necessary to drain the fat out of the pan.
5. When your meat is brown, sprinkle it with the thyme and the chili powder. Stir it to evenly coat the meat.
6. Once the meat is evenly coated, add the kidney beans and the tomatoes. Stir until everything is well combined and allow the beans and tomatoes to get heated through.
7. Add the frozen corn, stir, and allow the corn to get heated all the way through.
8. Gently fold in the prepared mac and cheese, being gentle is important so that you don’t tear your noodles (it will be prettier if you don’t tear them).
9. Serve your delicious chili mac with your favorite garnish. I prefer to use sour cream and green onions. My husband and son like to spice it up with some hot sauce. Enjoy!

Please enjoy this how to video!


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Creamy Chicken Rotini with Swiss Chard

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Dinner, Food Journal | 0 comments

Creamy Chicken Rotini with Swiss Chard

Creamy Chicken Rotini with Swiss Chard – (Creamy Chicken Rotini with Swiss Chard recipe along with a video tutorial (coming soon)follows) –  So, I was walking through the produce section of the grocery store yesterday when I noticed the absolute most beautiful Organic Rainbow Swiss Chard. I had no real plans on making Swiss Chard for dinner, but man, it was soooo pretty I just couldn’t help myself. So I bought it. Then as I was driving home, I was thinking to myself, “wait a minute, I’m making Pizza tonight”. But that’s beside the point. Because once I remembered that I was making pizza for dinner, that gave me a whole day to decide what to do with the Swiss Chard. Then, my husband said that he wanted to have chicken for dinner (the next day). So, now I had two things to put in our dinner, chicken and Swiss Chard……..and tomatoes thanks to my wonderful little girl Tia, who had convinced me at the store to buy two pints of organic plum tomatoes. Which just kind of made everything else fall into place – at least for me. So, I got out my little note pad and jotted down all of the things that may be tasty in my pasta dish. The next day, (last night), I started cooking, glancing over at my list now and then to remind me of some of my ideas. I ended up adding a few extra things and of course omitting a few things too and this is what I came up with. My husband said that this is the best pasta dish he has ever tasted which is quite a complement coming from him. I was happy to tell him that not only did I write everything down, but I also videoed it – just in case something super wonderful happened so that I could share it with all of you. Oh, I guess I should tell you that I love to create in the kitchen (obviously), but I have a hang up about writing and measuring while I’m creating – Chefs, go figure. So anyway, here it is, enjoy and happy cooking everyone!

Noodles

13.5 ounce box whole wheat Rotini

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

In a Separate Pan

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, medium dice

4 cloves garlic, emince (sliced thin)

1/2 pound Apple-wood Smoked Bacon

1 1/2 pounds chicken

1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 bunch Swiss chard (stalks and leaves separated)

*I used rainbow Swiss chard

1 1/3 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half

6 ounces cream cheese (by weight)

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

1 cup pine nuts

Options (you can use one,two or all three – I recommend adding at least one of the options)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest, minced

a few leaves of basil for garnish


Instructions

1. To start your noodles, fill a large pot with water and add salt. I use an eight quart pot with seven quarts of water and about 1/4 cup of iodized salt. You want your water to taste like the ocean. This helps in the final taste of your dish. If you don’t properly salt your water, your noodles will have a “flat” taste. For more information on this, see my article “Table Salt, Strangely not Just for the Table“. Put the pot on high and bring the water to a rolling boil.

2. While your’re waiting for your water to boil, you can work on the rest of the dish. Make sure to check your noodle water from time to time. When it is at a rolling boil, add the noodles and cook them for 8 minutes. Drain them, then put them into an ice water bath to cool them and drain them again. After you drain them, put them back in the pot you cooked them in and toss them with a little bit of olive oil so they don’t stick to each other. Put them to the side.

3. In a large pan, add one Tablespoon of olive oil. Turn the heat on medium -high and add your onion. Sprinkle the onion with a little Kosher Salt and black pepper. Sweat your onion. That means you saute it until it starts to get a translucent look. Lower the heat to medium – low. Allow the onions to caramelize.

4. Emince your garlic – that means cut it into thin slices (peel it first of course). Set it to the side.

5. Rinse and then Slice your tomatoes in half long ways (see video for a time saving tip). Set them to the side.

6. Rinse your Swiss Chard and drain it. Chop off the very ends of the stalks if they are brown. Remove the leaves of the Swiss Chard by tearing them off. You can also cut them off, but this is not necessary. We are removing the leaves from the stalks because they do not cook at the same rate and if you put them in together, either the stalks would have to be under-done, or the leaves would have to be over-done, so, we will add them at seperate times. Set the leaves to the side.

7. Slice the thick parts of the stems into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices. Set to the side.

8. Slice the leaves of the Swiss Chard. It is easiest to do this if you work with a few leaves at a time and roll them together before you slice them. Set the leaves to the side.

9. At this point, your onions should be good, go over and check on them and then remove them from the pan and set them to the side.

10. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the chicken to the pan (that you had your onions in). Sprinkle it with Kosher Salt and pepper. Stir your chicken. Allow the chicken to cook for two to three minutes.

11. When you chicken is about half way done, add the bacon to the pan. Stir.

12. Saute the chicken and bacon together until they are almost done. Add the chili flakes (red pepper flakes). Stir.

13. Deglaze with the red wine vinegar. That means you scrape any of the fond (the brown bits that are stuck to the bottom) off of the pan. I use a wooden spatula for this. Stir.

14. Add your chicken stock. Then, add your garlic. Stir.

15. Add the stems from your Swiss Chard. Allow them to cook for about one minute. Reduce the heat to medium – low.

16. Add your tomatoes. Then your cooked onions. Stir.

17. Add the cream cheese in chunks. Stir. You have to be a little patient with the cream cheese as it starts to melt, but it will, and then it will stir in easily.

18. Once you have the cream cheese melted in, sprinkle in the Parmesan Cheese and stir to combine.

19. Add the Swiss Chard about 1/2 at a time along with a sprinkle of Kosher Salt and pepper and stir in between each addition. It will look like you have way too much but don’t worry because it cooks down.

20. After your Swiss Chard is stirred in, turn off the heat and add the pine nuts. Stir.

21. Add your cooked and drained noodles. Fold them in to combine and serve hot.

Please enjoy this “how to” video!

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Roast Chicken with Baby Bella Mushroom Stuffing

Posted by on Oct 9, 2012 in Dinner, featured-slider-post, Food Journal | 0 comments

Roast Chicken with Baby Bella Mushroom Stuffing

Roast Chicken with Baby Bella Mushroom Stuffing (recipe follows) – Roast Chicken with Baby Bella Mushroom Stuffing is such a great recipe if you’re a mushroom fan – which I am. The stuffing is more mushroom then bread which is something that I love about it. Not that I’m anti-bready stuffing, but I just super love mushrooms. Also, I like that they stay nice and moist in this recipe because I’ve had quite a few mushroom stuffings where the poor little mushrooms become like little dehydrated mushrooms while they’re roasting. These stay super duper fat and juicy and yummy in this recipe – yay! If you happen to like your stuffing where it gets all yummy kind of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside then you will either want to bake the stuffing in a separate casserole (like don’t stuff your chicken), or you can do the barely in the cavity and mostly flowing out of the chicken presentation (that’s the way my Mom always used to do it when I was little). When I make roast chicken and stuffing (whatever the flavor), I like to give everyone the option on their stuffings so I put half in the chicken and half into a small souffle dish (I think it’s a two cup dish). That way, everyone can have their mushroom stuffing the way they like it the most. Another thing I’d like to mention about this recipe, is that I use a really cool technique for flavoring my roast chicken with a compound butter. You put the compound butter under the skin. This is one of those things that you learn in culinary school or when working with a Chef ;). Putting the flavoring ingredient that you are using under the skin makes a huge difference in the end taste of the meat because the flavors don’t really make it through the skin. Soooo, if your putting say your dry rub or compound butter just on the outside of the skin, it really won’t do much for the flavor of the meat underneath- although the skin may be delicious. The technique is explained in step four, but it is easier to show you in video form, so if you can, I’d like to invite you to watch the “how-to” video for this recipe (coming next week). Happy cooking everyone!
Roast Chicken with Baby Bella Mushroom Stuffing

Ingredients

Compound Butter for chicken
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoon sherry

1 (5-6 pound) chicken

For the Mushroom Stuffing
2 cups bread cut in cubes (french bread is best)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher Salt
black pepper
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
baby bella mushrooms, rough chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 – 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Sherry


Instructions

1. Combine all of the ingredients for the compound butter in a small bowl except the butter and stir them together. Add the butter and mash/stir it in. If you have a food processor, this is a lot easier because you can just put everything in there and mix it for a few seconds. I used my mini-food processor for this part.
2. Get your chicken. Remove the neck and any internal organs that may be in there. If you would like to make a sauce out of them, feel free, I won’t be doing that today so I am just discarding them.
3. Rub half of the compound butter into the chicken’s cavity focusing mostly on the area under the breast.
4. With a small rubber spatula, carefully lift the chicken’s breast skin from the meat. Using your hand, place 1/2 of the remaining rub onto each chicken breast under the skin. Check out the “how to” video to see me do this. This is the awesome technique I was talking about earlier.
5. Cover the chicken and place it in the refrigerator while you make your stuffing.
6. Pre-heat your oven to 400°F.
7. Toss your cubed bread with the teaspoon of olive oil and salt and pepper.
8. Bake your bread cubes at 400°F until they are golden brown. This will take about 5 minutes. When they’re done, put them to the side to cool.
9. While your bread is toasting, melt the butter in a large saute pan.
10. Saute the carrot and celery in the butter  (sprinkle them with a little Kosher salt (like 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper) for 3 minutes, then add the shallots and garlic. Saute for about one minute.
11. Add the mushrooms (add a tiny more salt (like 1/2 teaspoon). Saute them for another 4-5 minutes. Add the parsley. Saute for another minute or so.
12. Combine the cubed bread with your mushroom mixture in the pan. Stir it around. Add the thyme and stir.
13.  Add enough chicken broth to make it moist – start with 1/4 cup and work your way up from there. I used almost a cup, but it varies each time I make this. The amount you need is going to depend on how much liquid was in your mushroom mixture and how toasty your bread was so you will have to use your own judgement on this. Add the sherry. Taste the stuffing and decide if it needs more salt or pepper. It should be OK, but now’s your chance. Also, remember you’ll be putting it in your chicken which has salt in it, so don’t over salt.
14. Stuff the chicken with the stuffing. Take the left over stuffing and place it in a baking dish. You can serve it on the side. Also, you don’t have to stuff your chicken. You can bake your stuffing separatly.
15. Roast your chicken at 400°F until it’s done. It should have a temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of it’s thigh. This will take about 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of your chicken. Remove it from the oven when it’s done and cover it with foil to keep it warm and to allow the meat to rest. Here is a link to more information on safe internal cooking temperatures according to the FDA – FDA Site
16. You can use the pan drippings to make a sauce if you’d like.

Please enjoy this “how-to” video!


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Rosemary, Thyme and Balsamic Glazed Ribs

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in Dinner, featured-slider-post, Food Journal | 0 comments

Rosemary, Thyme and Balsamic Glazed Ribs

Rosemary and Balsamic Glazed Ribs  (recipe follows) – I just want to start out by saying that these ribs are the bomb, no really they are. I don’t want to sound like all “ewww, my ribs are the best” or anything, but I love this rib recipe and it’s been a long time in the making. Well, I’ve been making my ribs this way for a long time, but, I’ve made tiny adjustments to the recipe each time – until now. But now, ta-da, I have achieved rib perfection. Plus I’m humble about it :D No but seriously, this is one of my very favorite recipes and I really think you’re going to love it. It has a really beautiful combination of sweet reduced balsamic vinegar with the deep flavor of the fresh rosemary and the brightness of the thyme and oh, it is just so good. Also, this recipe is great for days when you don’t want to do a lot of cooking like if you’re having people over or something because the ribs can be made up to two days ahead. Then you just make the glaze on the day you’re serving them. This is my “word of warning” about these ribs though. Every Time I make these ribs we all end up eating so many that all we can do is sit around wishing we hadn’t eaten so many ribs. You know how that happens sometimes – ugh! So, anyway, if you’re making dessert, you may want to go with something light like Key Lime Pie, or fresh fruit. So, enough about how yummy the ribs are already, let’s make them right? Happy cooking everyone!

Ingredients for the Wet Rub
10 garlic cloves,minced
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped Rosemary, Thyme and Balsamic Glazed Ribs
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme chopped, or 1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 pounds pork loin back ribs

and later….
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
juice from the roasting pan

Instructions
1. Place the garlic, rosemary, thyme, chili flakes, brown sugar, Kosher Salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar into a small mixing bowl.
2. Stir them together to combine.
3. Rub the ribs with the wet rub (I just use my hands) and cover tightly. I cut the rack in half and put each half into a gallon baggie (cut it before you put the rub on or it will be slippery).
4. Put the ribs in the refrigerator and let them set for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
6. Place the ribs into a roasting pan (concave side down).
7. Add 1-2 cups of water depending on the size of your pan – the bottom should be covered by about 1/4 of an inch.
8. Cover the pan tightly in foil.
9. Roast your ribs until they’re done, about an hour and 45 minutes – the bone should be exposed and the meat should be pulling away from it, also you and your house should smell delicious :D
10. Take the ribs out of the pan and set them to the side on a sheet pan or plate or something.
11. If you have at least a cup of juice in the bottom of your roasting pan, strain it into a pot. If your pan is pretty dry on the bottom, pour one cup of hot water into the roasting pan and scrape off the yummy stuff that the ribs left behind (don’t do this if it’s all burned and gross). Then strain this into a pot. The point is that there is a lot of flavor in the pan that you don’t want to leave behind so scrape it out, pour it out, get the flavor!
12. Now, skim the fat off of the top of your strained liquid (that you just got out of the roasting pan) and throw it out (or eat it if you want I guess). At this point, if you want you can refrigerate your liquid and your ribs and finish them later. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (with-out them drying out) if you wrap them up tight. This is a nice way to make them ahead of time for a get together or whatever. If you’re going to cook them now, then just continue with the next step.
13. Add the vinegar and brown sugar to the pan juice and bring the liquid to a boil.
14. Reduce your liquid until you have about 1 cup maybe even a cup and a half depending on how much liquid you started with. It should take 10-15 minutes depending on your stove. Be sure to watch it – it will boil over easily and it will burn easily. You need to stir it with a rubber spatula while scraping the bottom every few minutes. Also, watch the consistency of the glaze (that’s what you’re making). It will get slightly thicker and begin to coat your spatula. Keep in mind that it will be thicker when it cools and you need to be able to spread it with a pastry brush. It should kind of get the consistency of like how maple syrup is if you heat it up. If you take it off of the heat and find it is too thick, you can add a little water and thin it back down as long as it’s not burned. It is better to take it off too early though because you can always put it back on the heat.
15. Use a pastry brush to glaze your ribs. You may have left over glaze which is great because you can serve it on the side of the ribs for anyone who wants extra.
16. Place ribs under the broiler on the top rack (3-4 inches from the heat) – WATCH THEM – they burn easily, they need about a minute under there and they’re done (you can also do this on the grill but….. I mean you know, the pan’s already dirty so why dirty the grill too :)
17. Hide a few in the fridge for later if you don’t live alone and then serve – Enjoy!

Please enjoy this “how to” video!


Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2012

Grilled Chicken – Also, a Little Extra About Brines

Posted by on Jun 12, 2012 in Culinary 101, Dinner, Food Journal | 0 comments

Grilled Chicken – Also, a Little Extra About Brines

Brines - A couple of weeks ago I was invited to one of the local high schools to do a cooking demonstration. Before the demo started, I was talking to one of the assistants in the class, Bob. He was super nice. Anyway, he had asked me how to keep chicken breast moist when you grill it and I had told him that I have a really great little brine recipe that I put my chicken in. I had also told him that after the demo I would write the recipe down for him. Unfortunately, I totally forgot. So, Bob, I hope you see this article because I’m going to include that recipe in it. OK, that said, brines marinades and dry rubs are a great way to add flavor to meats and also in some cases help them to retain their moisture. Someone asked me recently if you can marinade, dry rub or brine any type of meat. My opinion on that is simple – you can, but you shouldn’t. Here’s what I mean. If you have something like say chicken breast that you know is going to dry out on the grill, yes, do something about it. Brine it. Or, if you have some beautiful ribs (which do have great flavor on their own) but you want them to be a certain style like cajun. Marinade or dry rub them. So then you ask me, “well, when do you only use salt and pepper?” Which by the way is called “seasoning the meat”.  The easy answer is “don’t do anything to meat that doesn’t need anything done to it”. Not to over-simplify. Here’s an example. If you have a delicious filet mignon, you don’t need to do anything but use salt and pepper. You can do more (like a black pepper rub for instance), but you don’t have to. The meat doesn’t need any help and if cooked properly, will be beautiful on it’s own. Another good example is Salmon. It really doesn’t need any help if you’re starting with a nice piece of meat. I know the trend right now is to cover the Salmon in a Teriyaki Glaze, but that’s a glaze, not a brine, marinade, or dry rub. It is also, in my opinion, overdone at this point. I think every chain restaurant around has one on the menu. I always see the ads – do you think they all chipped in on the same commercial clip :) – it seems like it. OK, I know, off the subject so let’s get back to it.

Brines – Technically, a brine is a cure. Brining is the method you use when you immerse a food (like beef) into a solution (the brine) of curing ingredients (usually salt and/or sugar) dissolved in water. Brines are used to preserve anything from veggies to fruit to fish and other types of meat. They are also used in the process of pickling and of making feta and a few other cheeses.  They were used more in the past then they are now as preservatives, but they are still used in this way. Brisket is a good example of a cut of beef that is brined (and somewhat preserved).  That’s how we get pastrami and corned beef – yummy! Like when you make pastrami, you can let your beef soak for up to 3 weeks in some cases.  I don’t really ever use a brine as a preservative personally  but I think I may venture to make my own pastrami one day. I’ll post if I do – of course.  But the real reason that I want to talk about brines is that they are great for meat that doesn’t retain moisture well. This is because salt and sugar both retain moisture. I have already mentioned that I do this with my chicken breast. You can also brine (for flavor and moisture) other poultry, pork and beef too.  I  love, love, love to brine my pork chops. I use a little apple juice sometimes in my pork brine too (am I crossing in to a marinade?, maybe a little), just FYI.  So, how do I make my brine for my chicken breasts? Well, here’s my very simple recipe. Also, don’t worry, I’ll do an article soon on dry rubs and marinades :D!


Ingredients
3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin (optional, you will be able to taste the cumin in the final dish if you use it (otherwise what would be the point huh?))
2 cups hot water
chicken breast (this recipe is for 1-2 pounds)

Instructions
1. Mix the salt, sugar and cumin if you’re using it into a small mixing bowl.
2. Add 2 cups of hot water and stir to dissolve.  Allow to cool (you can also add a few ice cubes to speed things up).
3. Add the chicken breast to the cooled liquid (it doesn’t have to be cold, just not hot anymore).
4. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. I put mine in a gallon baggie and then a bowl.
5. Grill your chicken breast until it’s done (internal temperature of 165°). Do not sprinkle it with salt first, the brine took care of that. I usually pull mine off of the grill at about 160°F and put them on a plate and cover the plate with foil to allow them to carry over cook to 165°F. This helps to avoid overcooking. Of course, I am in no way recommending that you under – cook your chicken, I’m just telling you what I do. If you’re wondering how you can tell the temperature of your chicken. The answer is easy. Use a thermometer. The way to learn to do it without a thermometer is to take the temperature and then feel it with your finger. Push down and really feel the texture, and how firm it is. Do this often and eventually, you will be able to do it by feel for the most part. I do still recommend checking with a thermometer though until you are super sure of your skills. Also make sure you are taking the temperature in the thickest part of the meat and that the thermometer is in far enough. Don’t stick it in like your stabbing it in the heart, but more like you’re trying to make it into a popsicle. Does that make sense? So like stab it long ways, you know.
6. Now, let your chicken “rest” for a few minutes before you cut into it. You should actually do this with any meat. It allows the juices to redistribute.
7. Serve the yummy chicken how ever you want. I had a salad with this particular chicken, but this is also how I make my chicken if I’m serving Puerto Rican rice and beans, or arroz con gandules (except I saute it for that), chicken sandwiches, etc, etc, you get the point.

Here’s a picture of my yummy salad I made. It has cucumbers, cherry tomatoes (organic), corn, red kidney beans, the yummy chicken and a little honey dijon dressing. It was super duper tasty!


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