Friday, April 27, 2012

Chicken Kabobs

Planning to fire up the grill this weekend?  Consider some shish kabobs.  These were simple and easy.  Soak the veggies and chicken in your favorite marinade, skewer the pieces being careful to alternate them.  Do not pack the skewers as they will not cook properly and may indeed be under cooked.  Place them on a medium high heat grill and enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Giardiniera Stuffed BBQ Chicken Breasts

Who ever has enough chicken recipes?  Here's a simple, zesty and tasty recipe the next time you have some chicken breasts to make.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
BBQ seasoning
Hot Giardiniera 
BBQ Sauce

Butterfly the chicken breasts.  Spoon some of the giardiniera along with the oil it is in into the opened chicken breasts.  Close the breasts and coat liberally with your favorite BBQ seasoning.  Place the chicken onto a medium high heat grill and cook until done.  Coat with BBQ sauce and enjoy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Grilled Ham

With spring on the horizon and the grill waiting to go, consider a different type of ham for this Easter this year.

I used a bone in shank ham for this.  Place the ham on a cutting board and score the top of the ham on the diagonal and then on a 90 degree angle about 1/2 inch deep.  This gets through the fat on the ham and lets the flavors get deeper inside during the cooking process.  Very rarely do I use salt to season the ham as it is usually brined in a salt solution.  A touch of pepper or similar is typically enough here.

Set the grill up for indirect heat and place the ham into the grate.  If you desire, you can use a drip pan to catch anything that falls.  This was a 11 pound ham and took about 3 hours to cook through.  After the first hour, I took a mixture of 1/3 yellow mustard and 2/3 apple butter mixed together and began to lightly glaze the ham.  Periodically over the next 2 hours, I added glaze to the ham as needed.

Remove the ham from the heat, let it rest and then carve and serve.  A nice change for your dinner table.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mac and Queso

Oh no!  Not Mac and Cheese again.   Here is a variation that might just get your family excited.  With a few simple ingredients, we had around the house turned this into a nice wow dish.

1 lb       hot breakfast sausage
1 cup    sweet pepper slices
2 cups  pasta
1 can   diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 package processed cheese loaf
1 tsp    garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground hot peppers
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Brown the sausage in s skillet.  Remove the sausage leaving any drippings in the pan.  Add the sweet pepper slices to the skillet and saute until soft, stirring frequently.  Add the tomatoes and spices along with the sausage.  Slice the cheese and add to the pan.  Stir to keep the cheese from burning.  Place the cooked pasta into a casserole dish and add the cheese mixture.  Combine and place into a preheated oven at 350 degrees.  Bake  for about 20 minutes and then broil on high for an additional 3 to give the top a browned coating.

Serve and enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grilled Peach Salsa Chicken Breasts

Looking for a new way to serve your chicken breasts?  Here is a quick and simple way that works on the grill as well as in the oven.

These were boneless, skinless chicken breasts seasoned with Adobo Seasonings.  They were placed on a medium hot grill until the bottoms were done.  When they were turned, I added a liberal amount of Peach Salsa to them and grilled until complete.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Enchilada Casserole

Here is an easy and flexible recipe that you can customize to fit your family's tastes.  It is numerous layers of precooked ingredients.

Start with a layer of tortillas in a 9x13 pan.  We use corn tortillas as they tend to hold up better, but flour would be fine. The next layer was refried beans spread over the tortillas.  More tortillas, browned seasoned ground beef and shredded cheddar cheese.  More tortillas, refried beans and green chile peppers.  Another layer of tortillas, browned ground beef, enchilada sauce and topped with shredded cheddar.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted, about 25-30 minutes.  Serve with sour cream on top and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grilled Seasoned Chicken Wings

I was able to light the grill for the first time this spring.  Easy to make seasoned Chicken Wings are always a hit at our house.  These were seasoned with equal amounts of salt, black pepper, paprika and cumin.

Toss the wings in the seasonings to coat thoroughly.   Place onto a medium high heat grill and cook for about 25 minutes.  Time will vary with the size of the wings.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Saturday Morning Wake Up!

Here's a simple way to brighten up your breakfast.  A simple fried egg sandwich on toast, a slice of cheese and topped with habanero salsa.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Roasted Carrots

Looking for a new way to serve carrots?  Try this recipe to change your dinner.

This recipe was used to make 2 pounds of carrots:

2 lbs Carrots - sliced and quartered
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 cup Orange Juice
2 tbsp Olive Oil

Mix the ingredients in a large baking pan.  Toss with the carrots to coat thoroughly.  Place the pan into a 400 degree oven.  Let the carrots roast for 20 minutes, toss and roast again for another 20 minutes or until the carrots begin to achieve the appropriate texture and soften.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Penne Pasta with Vegetables and Ground Chicken

This is a very easy recipe and has a lot of room for modifications to fit your tastes.  That is what truly makes this recipe fun.

1 lb Penne Pasta
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 bag Baby Spinach
1 lb Sweet Peppers (your choice of pepper)
5 Roma Tomatoes - diced
1 pint Mushrooms
1 can Tomato Paste
2 tbsp Minced Garlic
1 tbsp Dried Oregano
1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
Olive Oil
Black Pepper

Brown the ground chicken in a skillet over a medium high heat along with the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.  Remove the chicken, but do not remove the drippings.  Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the sliced sweet peppers and stir occasionally until the peppers begin to soften.  Add the coarsely sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes along with the oregano.  Stir frequently until the tomatoes begin to break down.

Lightly chop the spinach and place it into the sauce and let it begin to sweat down.  Stir it in and add more as you continue.  The sauce will appear soupy at this time.  Add some or all of the tomato sauce into the sauce along with the ground chicken.  Continue this process until you achieve the consistency that you desire is achieved. 

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir.  Serve the pasta topped with some Parmesan Cheese.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Turkey Habanero Quesadillas

Looking for  a quick, simple and inexpensive lunch?  Try these.


Flour Tortillas
Olive Oil
Shredded  Cheddar Cheese
Diced Turkey

Heat a skillet and add a small amount of olive oil.  This helps to crisp the outside of the tortilla.  Place a tortilla in the pan and add a tablespoon each of diced turkey, habanero salsa, and cheddar cheese onto one half of the tortilla.  Fold the tortilla over and let it warm until the bottom of the tortilla begins to crisp, approximately 2-3 minutes.  Turn tortilla over and repeat for the second side.

Serve with additional salsa, sour cream or guacamole. 

A great dish to let the kids help with!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is coming into our local markets and what a great idea it is to put it out on the grill.  Simple and easy to make, it is an awesome dish to add life to your meal.

The trick to asparagus on the grill is to skewer it using 2 skewers.  Using 5-10 spears per group makes it easy to turn them and quick to grill.  These were skewered, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and a touch of lemon juice.  Place them over a medium heat and cook until a desired tenderness is achieved.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash

This is a simple and easy recipe to make.  Cut a butternut squash in half and remove the seeds.  Remove the skin from the outside of the squash.  Cut the squash into about 1/2 inch cubes.  When completed, place into a bowl and add in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp hot sauce per cup of squash.  Add salt and black pepper to taste and combine to coat the squash.

Place the squash onto a baking sheet and place into a preheated oven at about 350 degrees.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until the squash is tender.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

International Hot and Spicy Food Day

What does hot and spicy mean to you?  Often times, people people think of assorted peppers to add heat to their favorite recipes.  Jalapenos, Habaneros, Pablanos, Serranos, etc.  All good choices and quite popular to use, but there are other ways to add a bit of heat to your creations.

Horseradish was named the 2011 Herb of the year by the International Herb Association.  It has a very unique flavor and texture.  This root has roots back as far as 1500 BC.  Having been commercially produced in the US since about 1860, it makes it one of the first convenience foods produced in the US.

The next time you are looking for a bit of spice to add to a dish, consider adding a spoonful or two to some of your favorites:

  • Cole Slaw
  • Potato Salad
  • Baked Beans
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Soups
  • Meat Loaf
  • Hamburgers
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Steamed Veggies
  • Roasts
These are a few things you can add a new flavor to.  Feel free to come up with your own and add your suggestions below!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hot Pan Noodles and Dumplings

If you are in the Joliet, IL area and looking for something different, stop and visit Hot Pan Noodles and Dumplings.  It is a small restaurant in a strip mall that offers fresh made noodles and dumplings with an Asian flair.

We have been there twice recently.  On our first visit, we had lunch.  We shared an order of the Pork Dumplings and an order of the Dan Dan Noodles with chicken.  The dumplings were tender and tasty and came with a fresh made sauce for them.  The noodles were pleasantly spicy and full of flavor.  A generous portion made it a very satisfying lunch indeed.

Saturday evening, we had the opportunity to go there for dinner.  We met another couple and agreed to try an option they refer to as "Hot Pot", which was compared to a fondue.  The Hot Pot is an all you care to enjoy dining experience that you have two hours to complete. At this time, the menu price is $15.99 for adults.  

You can have a normal broth, a spicy broth or both.  We opted for the spicy broth.  Once you have selected the broth, and you can begin selecting what you will enjoy with the broth.  Meats included lamb, chicken, beef, pork and for an additional fee, shrimp.  Veggie options were also plentiful.  They included spinach, broccoli, bok choy, wood ears and many others.  If that is not enough, you also have a choice of noodles and sauces to choose from as well.

All items to be prepared were brought to the table to be prepared.  There was no questions asked when we requested more of anything.  All of the items appeared to be prepared to order.  The noodles for the Hot Pot are not their homemade noodles, but were just fine for the meal.

Come hungry, be adventurous and enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Markets

Do you miss your local Farmer's Market?  Do you feel the winter blues and can't wait for summer to arrive again?  You may be surprised to find that their is a growing trend in many cold weather areas to hold Winter Farmer's Markets.

While many crops are only grown locally during peak growing seasons, there are a number of products that can be produced year round.  Green houses, hydroponics and other methods provide access to the products in the areas that are unable to grow fresh products year round.  While you most likely cannot find locally grown sweet corn in the midwest, you may be amazed at what produce might be available.

We are participating in a  Winter Farmer's Market in Kankakee, IL this season.  It is held indoors at the Majestic Center which is located at 150 N. Schuyler in downtown Kankakee.  The market runs from 9-1 on Saturday Mornings through the end of January and most likely through February.

Explore your own community and you may be able to find a local market right in your own back yard.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crescent Roll Calzones

Looking for a quick and easy way to spice up a lunch time treat?  Give this a try.  It is a variation on the long time favorite of hot dogs rolled in a crescent roll and baked.

I used the crescent rolls that come out of a cardboard tube.  Into each one, I added a slice of Genoa Salami, 1/2 piece of Provolone Cheese, rolled them up and sprinkled a touch of oregano onto each one.  They were placed on a baking sheet and baked per the instructions on the rolls.

For more variety, consider adding pizza sauce, peppers or other veggies to the rolls before baking or a simple marinara sauce to dip them into.