Sunday, October 3, 2010

Grilled Veggies and Tofu Tacos

subtitled: Tried to amend my carnivorous habits... Made it nearly seventy days...

Portobello Mushroom, Eggplant, Yellow Squash, Carrots, Onion and Red Pepper
Grilled with brushed olive oil and salt & pepper. 
Grilling.... it's not just for meat any more. I'm a meat with every meal kind of guy but I know I need to amend that habit. I love grilled veggies but needed something to replace the meat in the meal. I bought a big chunk of firm tofu and decided to marinade and grill it along with the veggies, and then hide it in a tortilla.

I usually make a marinade out of what ever I can grab and seems to taste good with what ever I'm cooking. This time it was papaya juice, red wine, olive oil, a splash of worcestershire sauce, a splash of soy sauce and a bit of ground cayenne pepper. It was tasty stuff! I let the tofu marinade for a few hours then threw it on the grill.

Looks pretty good for tofu, don't you think?
The finished grilled cornucopia of veggies and tofu really looked great! It even looks edible! 
This looks gorgeous!  
I sliced up the veggies and tofu, put it in a tortilla with some fresh spinach and a bit or grated romano cheese and threw it back on the grill.

I have to admit, for a meat eater, this was very good! Grilling the tortilla gave it a nice crunch and the blend of the veggies, tofu and spinach was nice. It could have used a little something else to jazz it up - Maybe a sweet and spicy chutney and some cilantro would have done it. Next time....

And for dessert!!! This rocked it! Pears sautéed in raw winter honey with a bit of cinnamon finished with a spiced rum flambé over coffee ice cream and a crispy waffle topped with caramelized pecans. Scrumptious!! 

So, yea... on occasion I could do I vegetarian grilled meal. Especially if it's followed with a dessert like this! 

Next weekend I'm going back to my carnivorous ways. I'm thinking turkey burgers.   I got the meat grinder attachment for the KitchenAid mixer and I'd like to grind my own turkey. I had an amazing turkey burger at Cafe Ponte a few weeks ago that make me rethink what a turkey burger could taste like. I'll be searching turkey burger recipes all week so if you have a good one send it my way.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Add some Spice to your life!

Looking for a good place to find any and every spice you can imagine? Looking for a place to buy organic spices and herbs? Looking for a place to find salt free spices? Want to do business with a business that gives back to the community? Check out I'd recommend starting with a starter set of 6 spices based on what you want to do.

Check it out!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Amberjack and Confetti Couscous

subtitled: the answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

A quick stop at the fish market landed me some very fresh locally caught Amberjack! I was planning a quick grilling along with some mixed greens. My daughter decided to get involved in the kitchen and made a confetti couscous salad. Marissa's couscous absolutely turned this meal into something remarkable. Her couscous salad went so well with the amberjack. It also looked gorgeous on the plate, don't you think?

I made a quick marinade that I am calling Thai Basil Marinade. I have several types of basil growing in my yard. It requires zero maintenance, makes a nice landscape plant and it is great for cooking. 

I'll give you a peek. Check this out:

Back to the marinade....

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
A few tablespoons of fresh chopped Thai Basil
a few chopped garlic cloves

Toss the amberjack in the marinade and put it in the fridge for about an hour.

By the way... Ever hear of Keepeez? This is a very cool product. Instead of lids for bowls, or plastic wrap or plastic bags, you can use these things instead. Easier, plus you're not throwing plastic bags in the garbage. Here...  watch this little video:

After the marinade I threw a little salt and pepper on the fish and tossed on the grill for about 6 or 8 minutes per side. A quick garnish of lemon and lime with a sprig of the Thai Basil bloom finished off the  amberjack.

Now... The great Confetti Couscous salad that Marissa made:

A small box of whole wheat couscous
One red pepper, diced
One carrot, sliced super thin
2 cups of shredded red cabbage
about 4 chopped green onions
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
a teaspoon of curry powder

Toss the veggies in the cooked couscous
Mix the lemon juice, vinegar and curry power together, then add it to the couscous.
Toss it all around, and then add a little salt to taste.
Put this in the fridge for about 30 minutes and serve it chilled.

Very easy to make and absolutely scrumptious! I love it when my kids get involved in cooking!

The couscous and the amberjack played off each other very well. It was a fantastic meal.

So for this week, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chipotle Chicken KoЯn Chowder

subtitled: feeling like a freak on a leash!
Does it count as a grilling recipe if I didn't grill this, but used leftover grilled chicken that I had in the freezer? I think so....

Remember the Beer Can Chicken? I had leftover chicken from a few weeks ago that I shredded and threw in a bag and tossed it in the freezer.

I was going to take this weekend off from cooking. My sister and her family were in town and we had a huge Italian feast last night. I didn't have to do anything except show up with a few bottles of wine and eat. My brother-in-law is Italian and his family knows how to feed a big group. One of the family owns Capo de Monte Deli on Seminole Blvd in Seminole, FL. If you want phenomenal Italian food, check this place out!

So this morning I decided it would be a great day to get back to work on restoring my little 15' Boston Whaler. It's going great by the way. I'm almost ready to put it back together. Today's job was to put the last coat of varnish (coat # 8) on the mahogany.

Midway through the varnishing job, my wife opened the garage door and said "Darlene is on her way... what's for lunch?" Oh Yeah... I forgot! So this was a quick throw together soup with the left over frozen chicken from a few weeks ago. I did a google search for chicken corn chowder and found a simple recipe on the Food Network's site. Of course I had to tweak it to make it my own, and also substitutes for the stuff the recipe called for that I didn't have on hand.

The soup came out fantastic! I'll put a link to the recipe at the end of this post. My tweak was to use chipotle pepper in place of jalapeno pepper, and use cream in place of milk. Everything else was exactly like the recipe. It took about 30 minutes to throw this together and it was really good! I'll bet this soup is even better as left overs.

So, as it turned out, I did cook this weekend and made a great meal for our company and had something to blog about. And to top it off, tomorrow's dinner is sitting in the fridge getting even better. And I had time to complete my varnishing on the little boat.

If you're looking for a quick and easy soup, try this (with my tweaks!) You don't have to grill a chicken, just buy a rotisserie bird from the grocery store.

That's all for now.... Next weekend I'm thinking I need to do an all veggie project. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Transported to Chicago in a single bite!

Grilled Nathan's Dawgs
Poppy Seed Bun
Sweet Relish
Yellow Mustard
Diced Onion
Celery Seed
Sport Peppers
Nuff Said

Some of you can taste this by just looking at the picture... Others don't have a clue!

Oh man!!!!! Sometimes the simplest recipe is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm off to have another!

Beer Can Chicken

subtitled: 99 cans of beer on the wall, 99 cans of beer, take one down, shove it up a chicken, 98 cans of beer on the wall....

Sittin' Pretty
This is the easiest and best way to cook a whole chicken. Super simple and a guaranteed success. Plus it's just a fun to prepare and makes good conversation for your guests.

I like to use a plump roaster for this. Nice and meaty. Rinse the whole chicken and pat it dry. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the bird and rub it all over. I use a rub made of 1 part Old Bay seasoning, 1 part Tony Chachere's seasoning, and 1 part sugar. Coat the bird with the rub, inside and out.

Now comes the beer. Open a can of your favorite beer. I prefer a full bodied beer or a good stout. Guinness is my favorite for this recipe. Open the top of the can with a can opener. This only uses a half a can of beer so you'll have to find something to do with the extra beer. I'm sure you'll figure it out.

Now stuff your favorite fresh herbs in the can. Fresh sage, fresh basil and a few cloves of garlic is what I use. Imagine the steaming Guinness with these flavors infusing the chicken from the inside while it cooks!

OK... Here's the part you've been waiting for! Stand the chicken up and put it over the can. The chicken will stand on the can and it's legs. You can get a beer can holder from just about any home store in the grilling section. This makes the bird a bit more stable, but it's not necessary.

Prep the grill... This cooks over indirect heat. A pile of hot coals on each side of the grill, and in the center between the coals place a baking pan or pyrex pan to catch the drippings. The grill should stabilize around 350 degrees.

Place the chicken on the center of the grill, close the lid, and figure out what to do with the five beers remaining in the six pack you bought. (or four pack if you got Guinness). In about an hour check the temp of the bird in a few spots. The target temp is 165, and after an hour it's probably close to 145. After the first hour check it every 15 minutes until it's at 165.

Be careful with the bird when it's done. I use two pair of tongs - one to hold the bird and one to get the can out. I do this over the grill so the beer in the can spills out in the drip pan. You'll figure it out.

Let the bird sit for about 15 minutes, and then carve away. Mmm Mmm Good!

Now it's your turn.... make this and let me know how you do. (Or come over to our place with a chicken and a six pack of beer and we'll make it together!)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fajitas with an orange chipotle sauce

subtitled: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!

Click on this picture. Doesn't this look good!
The secret is in the sauce! This is worth a try. I've been tinkering with an orange chipotle sauce and I think I'm done tinkering. Jot this down:

2 cups orange juice
1 & 1/2 teaspoons of the sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup dry white wine
about an 1/8 of a cup of balsamic vinegar

Bring this to a boil. Reduce to about 3/4 of a cup. Maybe 45 minutes on medium. Keep a close eye on this.

That's it. Let this stuff cool and it's good to go. (sneak a taste on your finger... good, huh!?)

I used equal parts paprika, cumin, coriander, thyme, and old bay as a rub on the top round steak. I pounded the steak with a tenderizer mallet.
I grilled some onions and green peppers in a cast iron pan on the grill. At the same time, I cooked the steak to medium. I brushed orange chipotle sauce on steak as a glaze while cooking.

I took the steak off the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes. This was a good time to heat up both corn and flour tortillas. I tossed the sliced steak in the hot cast iron pan and poured in enough orange chipotle sauce to coat the steak well. I immediately took the hot skillet to the table and served the feast.

Serve the orange chipotle seasoned steak and onions/peppers on a grilled tortilla with tomato, lettuce, avocado, fresh lime juice, cheese, and cilantro along with black beans and rice. A shot of tequila is the perfect beverage to complement this oh so tastey meal!

This was great! I'd make this again. If nothing else, this blog is a way for me to keep track of my favorite meals. Note to self... you really liked this. Make it again!