Monday, July 2, 2018

Tacos Al Pastor

Since moving to Houston, we have fallen in love with eating Tacos Al Pastor. I've never tried before but the pork is soooooo good. So I googled recipes to find an authentic recipe and came across the recipe from My Latina Table. Her recipes all look amazing and I'm so glad I made the Tacos Al Pastor recipe that she posted because it was as tasty as what we get around town. No pictures but I'll post the recipe below.

Tacos Al Pastor
(Source: My Latina Table Blog)

For the Al Pastor Meat/Marinade
2-3 pound Pork Loin cut into thin slices
4 Guajillo Chile, boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned.
1 Ancho Chile, boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned.
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion
1/2 cup of orange juice
3/4 cup of pineapple juice (fresh is better)
1 Tablespoon of Oregano
1 Tablespoon of Thyme
1 Tablespoon of Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Cumin
1-2 Tablespoons of Paprika
1-2 Tablespoons of Salt

For the Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Sauce
3 Tomatillos
1/4 Onion
2 small cloves of garlic
1-2 chipotles (depending on level of spiciness you want)
3 Tablespoons of Pineapple juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Tacos
Corn Tortillas
Chopped cilantro
Chopped Onions
Lime juice
Grilled pineapple
Tacos al pastor meat

For the Al Pastor Meat/Marinade
Blend all of the ingredients together until completely combined. Strain the liquid over a bowl to end up with a smooth marinade. Add one layer of meat in a large bowl or baking dish and cover with the marinade, and then repeat in layers until all of the meat and marinade have been used. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is best). Remove from the refrigerator and grill the meat until cooked through. Remove from grill and cut into thin slices to serve on the tacos.

For the Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa
Roast the tomatillo, onion, and garlic in the oven on baking sheet at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes, remove from oven. Blend with the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper until well combined. Put in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Tacos

Heat the tortillas with a little bit of oil. Add the meat, the pineapple, the salsa, the lime juice, the cilantro and onions, and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Amazing Pizza

There is a pizza place in Houston that has amazing pizza! Everything that we have had there has been delicious. So tasty that I tried to replicate one of their pizzas at home and it worked! All I did was look at the menu online and bought all the necessary ingredients. Y'all, I tried to replicate one of their specialty pizza at home and it worked! It's just as tasty as what you would get in the restaurant.

Amazing Pizza
(Inspired by Capone's Pizza in Houston) 

Basil Pesto Alfredo Sauce (recipe below) 
Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Anjou Pears, peeled and thinly sliced
Goat Cheese
White truffle oil 

Roll out your favorite pizza dough spread the basil pesto alfredo sauce evenly over the dough. Sprinkle mozzarella over the pizza, place thin slices of Anjou pears over the cheese, sprinkle prosciutto slices and goat cheese on the pizza. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Top the pizza off with fresh arugula and drizzle with white truffle oil if desired. 

Basil Pesto Alfredo Sauce
(Souce: Olive Garden Website) 

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup imported Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup imported Romano cheese, grated
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of your favorite store bought pesto (my addition)

Sautee the butter and garlic in a saucepan on medium heat. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Add the remaining ingredients to saucepan and stir occasionally until the sauce begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup of pesto.

**Note: This makes a lot of sauce so you can use half for the pizza and use the other half for pasta.**

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I was watching Ina Garten on the Food Network a few weeks ago when I saw her make a batch of Buttermilk Fried Chicken. I saved the recipe because Dr. Sweetpea is a huge fried chicken fan. I'm glad I did because this recipe was a massive hit in our household. The only change that I made to the recipe is using bone-in and skin on chicken thighs and the chicken was so juicy and flavorful. Definitely a keeper in our household!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken
(Source: Ina Garten) 

2 cups buttermilk, shaken
1 shallot, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 jalapeño pepper (with seeds), halved lengthwise
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 boneless chicken breasts (I used bone-in skin-on chicken thighs)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
2 (48-ounce) bottles canola oil
Bunch of parsley, for garnish

For the marinade, in a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, shallot, garlic, jalapeño, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. With a rolling pin or a meat mallet, pound the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of parchment paper until they are evenly 1/2 inch thick. Slice each chicken breast in half crosswise so you have 2 pieces approximately the same size. Add the chicken to the marinade, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours but not more than 24 hours.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper and set aside. When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place a sheet pan with a baking rack on it in the oven.
Pour the oil into a medium (9-inch round x 4 1/2-inch high) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, fitted with a candy thermometer, until the oil is 2 inches deep. Heat the oil over high heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees. Meanwhile, lift the chicken from the marinade, dredge it well in the flour mixture, submerge it again in the marinade, then dredge again in the flour mixture, dusting off the excess. Transfer the chicken to a plate or sheet pan until ready to fry. When the oil is 350 degrees, lower three pieces only(!) carefully into the oil with a slotted spoon and adjust the heat to keep the oil at 350 degrees. Don't crowd the chicken! Cook for 5 minutes exactly, turning once to brown evenly. With the slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the sheet pan in the oven to keep warm. Fry the remaining three pieces, sprinkle all the chicken with salt, and serve hot.

***Chicken needs to cook for much longer than 5 minutes for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs***

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

I first heard about how delicious this meal was back in 2014 but didn't actually make it until recently. Y'all, I'm regretting that it took me 4 years to make this dish even though I've known about it for so long. It's SO damn tasty and if you're a garlic lover like Dr. Sweetpea and I, you will also go over the moon for this meal. Dr. Sweetpea told me this is the best homemade chicken dish that he's ever tried!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
(Source: Ina Garten) 

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Prosciutto and Fontina Stuffed Chicken Breasts

We recently went to a restaurant where Dr. Sweetpea ordered Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken. The meal was delicious and was Dr. Sweetpea was finishing his meal, I was thinking about how I can replicate the meal at home. Thankfully, a quick google search brought me to a recipe that's very similar to what what Dr. Sweetpea had and the homemade version was just as tasty as what we had at the restaurant. Definitely will be on our regular rotation! 

Prosciutto and Fontina Stuffed Chicken

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 to 9 oz. each)
4 thin slices prosciutto (2 to 3 oz.)
1 cup lightly packed grated Fontina (3 oz.)
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
4 tsp. dried sage leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black  pepper
2/3 cup olive oil

If the chicken breasts have tenderloins, remove them. Trim, rinse, and pat the breasts dry.
Make a pocket on the thicker side of each breast. Using a sharp boning or utility knife, cut into the breast about 1/2 inch from one end. Create a pocket, slicing to within about 1/4 inch of the other side. Lay a slice of prosciutto lengthwise inside each pocket. Stuff each pocket with about one-quarter of the Fontina, distributing it evenly throughout the pocket and to the ends. Press on the top of each breast to close the pocket. Line up three wide shallow dishes. Fill the first with the flour. In the second, whisk together the eggs and mustard. In the third, toss the breadcrumbs with the dried sage leaves, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Season the breasts generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge one breast well in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip it into the eggs, turning to coat evenly, and then dredge it in the breadcrumbs, pressing to make the crumbs adhere evenly. Gently shake off any excess. Set on a plate and repeat with the other breasts. Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes and up to 3 hours to let the breading set. Discard any leftover flour, egg, or crumbs. Heat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a heavy 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, carefully add two of the breasts to the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. If the oil seems to get too hot, reduce the heat to medium. Transfer the breasts to a baking sheet. Repeat with the other two breasts. Bake until the chicken and filling reach 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Snickerdoodle Creme Brulee

This post is a few months late, but you know what they say, "It's better late than never".
Dr. Sweetpea loves loves LOVES creme brulee. It's one of the desserts that he's always asking me to make. So when his birthday came up in April, he asked me to make creme brulee. Coincidentally, I had just saved this Snickerdoodle Creme Brulee recipe just the day before, so I went ahead and made it for him. I don't have any pictures to accompany this post, but I can say Dr. Sweetpea loved his creme brulee and it'll stay in our regular rotation.

Snickerdoodle Creme Brulee
(Source: People Magazine)

2 cups half-and-half
4 large egg yolks
Pinch of table salt
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided, plus more for serving
1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Boiling water

Preheat oven to 325°. Bring half-and-half to a simmer in a saucepan over medium; remove from heat.

Whisk together egg yolks, salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl. Gradually pour 1/2 cup hot half-and-half into egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper. Gradually add remaining half-and-half, whisking constantly. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl; stir in vanilla.

Place 6 (5- to 6-oz.) ramekins in a large roasting pan; divide custard mixture among ramekins. Place pan in oven, and pour boiling water into pan until it reaches halfway up sides of ramekins (be careful not to splash water into ramekins).

Bake in oven until sides are set but still slightly jiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let cool 10 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath to cooling rack, and cool completely. Wrap ramekins in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Remove ramekins from refrigerator. Using a paper towel, gently blot any condensation from top of custard. Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle top of each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar mixture, and tap and shake gently to cover surface.

If you have a kitchen torch, use it to heat the sugar topping until dark golden brown. Otherwise preheat broiler to high with an oven rack 6 inches from heat. Place ramekins on a baking sheet, and broil, rotating pan as needed, until sugar bubbles and turns golden brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately with an additional pinch of cinnamon, if desired.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Orange Creamsicle Popsicles

It's been so bloody hot in Houston lately that when it comes to desserts, Dr. Sweetpea and I just want popsicles. I came across this Orange Creamsicle recipe the other day and made it the same day since I had all the ingredients on hand. Y'all, it's creamy with a hint of orange and tastes amazing. Dr. Sweetpea had two popsicles in one sitting because these are that good. It's definitely a keeper in our household.

Orange Creamsicle Popsicles
(Source: Laura Vitale)

1 (12 oz) can orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours but overnight is best. Remove from the mold and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Chicken with Herbed Goat Cheese

Dr. Sweetpea loves Chicken, Herbs, and Goat Cheese, so when I saw this recipe that uses all three, I knew it would be a massive hit. Admittedly, he was skeptical when he saw me trying to stuff the chicken with goat cheese and basil, but as the chicken was baking, he kept asking me when dinner will be done since it smelled so good in the kitchen. It only took one bite for Dr. Sweetpea to be over the moon about this dish and told me to keep it in our regular rotation.

Chicken with Herbed Goat Cheese
(Source: Ina Garten)

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
12 ounces Montrachet goat cheese, with garlic and herbs
Fresh basil leaves
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached. Cut 12 thick slices of the Montrachet and place 2 slices plus a large basil leaf under the skin of each chicken breast. Rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake the breasts for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Spring Green and Goat Cheese Salad

The other day, I was looking at a catering menu for an event that I'm coordinating for work. I saw a delicious looking salad on the menu and made a mental note of what I'd need to buy if I want to try to replicate it at home. I bought the ingredients on my way home for work and whipped everything together the best I could. The result? The best damn salad we've ever had! It's crispy, tangy, creamy, and sweet! It's currently Dr. Sweetpea's favorite salad and it'll be in our regular dinner rotation for years to come!

Spring Green and Goat Cheese Salad

Spring Greens
Baby tomatoes, halved
Dried apricots, sliced
Pecan halves
Crumbled Goat Cheese
Sliced apples (optional, but if I decide to add apples to the salad, it's always Honeycrisp)

Toss all the salad ingredients together. Drizzle Champagne vinaigrette over salad and serve. 

Champagne Vinaigrette 
(Souce: The Neely's)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (I usually substitute with white balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 or 3 dashes hot sauce (I usually omit the hot sauce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Alternatively, you can combine all the ingredients in a blender or a food processor and puré until smooth.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Oatmeal, Maple and Pecan Scones

I woke up suuuuper early just to watch the royal wedding. Y'all, I had to take a nap in the afternoon because I was so sleepy after missing out on some sleep! Anyway, I wanted to have some scones to munch on while watching the royal wedding, so I decided to make the Oatmeal, Maple, and Pecan scones from Once Upon a Chef. They were so so SO tasty and perfect with my morning cup of coffee. 

Oatmeal, Maple and Pecan Scones
(Source: Once Upon a Chef)

For the Scones
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted (if desired) and chopped
1/2 cup currants (or raisins)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/3 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cold egg
For the Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pecans and currants on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over top and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the butter is somewhat broken down and grape-size pieces are still visible. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, maple syrup and egg until thoroughly mixed. Pour the cream mixture into the butter mixture and mix on low speed for about 20 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. It will be fairly wet. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure that all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the dough. Using an ice cream scooper, drop mounded scoops of the dough (about 1/3 cup each) onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 8 scones and spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until scones are golden brown around the edges and lightly golden on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes. (Hold on to the parchment paper -- you'll need it for adding the glaze.) While the scones are cooling, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and enough of the water to make a smooth, pourable glaze. When the scones have cooled for at least 30 minutes, transfer them back to the parchment-lined baking sheet and use a spoon to drizzle the glaze evenly over top.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pork Chops in Creamy White Wine Sauce

Dr. Sweepea LOVES pork chops for a midweek dinner. It's such a quick meal and there are so many sauces to serve them with that I happily indulge his love for pork chops. I recently came across a recipe where the pork chops are served with a white wine sauce and it was a massive hit! Definitely will be in our regular dinner rotation!

Pork Chops in White Wine Sauce

Pork Chops:
4 boneless pork chops (I used bone-in pork chops)
2 tablespoons butter

Pork Chop Dredging Mixture:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Creamy Herb and Wine Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp flour (or use leftover flour from pork chops dredging)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 lemon (juice of fresh lemon)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only)

Pork Chop Dredging Mixture: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning and season generously with salt and pepper.

Cooking Pork Chops: Dredge pork chops thoroughly in dry mixture, then heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add pork chops and sear them by cooking for 3-4 minutes per side for a total of 6-8 minutes. First side is cooked on medium high, but when cooking on the second side, reduce the heat to medium. Remove pork from heat and transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm.

Creamy Garlic & Herb Sauce: Return skillet to heat, add 2 tablespoons butter and minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Add flour to the butter mixture and start pouring in wine while still on medium heat - about 1 minute. Next squeeze lemon into the pan, add chicken stock and heavy cream. Add fresh thyme and Italian seasoning, season with salt and pepper (to taste). Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning, if necessary.

Final Assembly: Reduce heat to low and return pork chops to pan. Depending on the thickness of your pork chops, you might just need to heat them up a bit to make sure they are done. Drizzle some of the sauce over pork chops and reheat on low for 2-3 minutes or until pork chops are done.

**Note: since my pork chops were thicker and I only seared the pork to create a crust, I baked the pork in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes until it was close to being cooked through.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Succulent Braised Pork

I've had this recipe in my files for several years but never made it until today. It's essentially braised pork but the sauce tastes amazing! The pork falls apart with just a fork and I serve it on a bed of rice or mashed potatoes to not miss out on any sauce. Dr. Sweepea RAVED about this meal and it's probably one of his favorite pork dishes right now. I even brought leftovers to lunch!

Succulent Braised Pork 
(Souce: Melissa d'Arabian) 

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
2 bay leaves
1 cup water (I omitted the water)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

There are many days when I'm just too tired to cook a full dinner for us after I come home for work. So what do I do? I drive to Costco and buy a rotisserie chicken, some veggies, and ingredients to make an easy side dish. Both Dr. Sweetpea and I love peas so I knew this pasta salad would go well with our dinner. It's creamy, lemony, and perfect as a side dish to go with the chicken. Definitely something I'll keep around to make in the summer for a picnic or potluck.

Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing
(Source: Carlsbad Cravings)

Pasta Salad
12 oz.  medium shells or other small pasta of choice
2 cups frozen petite peas thawed
8 oz.  thick cut bacon cooked and chopped

Lemon Parmesan Dressing
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

Whisk together all of the Lemon Parmesan Dressing Ingredients together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Dressing is much better if it has at least 30 minutes to chill. Cook pasta according to package directions just until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. Drizzle with a little olive oil to keep from sticking. If serving immediately: Add cooled pasta, peas, bacon and dressing to a large bowl and toss until evenly combined. If not serving immediately (preferable so salad can chill): Add the pasta and peas to a large bowl and toss with half of the dressing once the pasta has cooled (so the dressing doesn’t separate). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, add the remaining dressing and the bacon and toss until evenly combined.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Homemade Popsicles

It's starting to got hot and humid in good old Houston. So what does one do when getting one's tan on poolside, but want to cool down? Eat popsicles of course! I purchased a popsicle mold from Amazon to make fresh popsicles for us to eat throughout the hot months in Houston and I seriously think it's one of the best purchases that I made in a while. I've made a variety of popsicles already and Dr. Sweetpea is in heaven. Our favorites are Strawberry and Cream, Blood Orange, Cantaloupe, and Thai Tea. I'll share the recipes for these below and you'll have a very refreshing summer too!

Strawberries and Cream Popsicles
(Source: People's Pops)

Just over 1 pound (4 cups) strawberries, hulled
7 fl oz simple syrup (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
2 fl oz heavy cream (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, if needed

Puree the strawberries in a food processor. You should have about 2 cups (16 fl oz) of puree. Transfer the pureed strawberries to a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pouring spout and add the simple syrup. Stir well to combine. Add the cream and mix according to your aesthetic preference. Taste; the mixture should be sweet and mouth-fillingly creamy but not cloying. Adjust to taste, adding the lemon juice if the mixture tastes a little flat. Pour the mixture into your ice pop molds, leaving a little bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. Unmold and transfer to plastic bags for storage or serve at once. 

Cantaloupe Popsicles 
(Source: People's Pops) 

1 cup(8 fl oz) simple syrup
1 cantaloupe, about 2 1/4 pounds, peeled and seeded

Cut the cantaloupe into large chunks and puree in a food processor. You should have about 2 1/3 cups (19 fl oz) of puree. Transfer the pureed cantalope to a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pouring spout. Add 3/4 cup (6 fl oz) of simple syrup to the cantaloupe puree until it tastes sweet. Pour the mixture into your ice pop molds, leaving a little bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze until slid, 4 to 5 hours. Unmold and transfer to plastic bags for storage or serve at once. 

Blood Orange Ice Pops
(Source: Sweet Cream and Sugar Cone Cookbook)

1/2 cup 2:1 simple syrup (recipe below) 
2 1/4 cups fresh blood orange juice (from 6 to 8 blood oranges)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
about 30 segments of blood, cara cara, or other variety of orange

In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine 6 tablespoons of the simple syrup, the juice, and the salt. Stir until well combined and the salt has dissolved. Taste the base. It should taste too sweet (once frozen, it will lose some of it's sweetness. Add the remaining simple syrup if you need it. Add 2 or 3 orange segments to each ice pop mold. (Don't add too many or the pops will be hard and icy. Leave room so that you end up with more juice than fruit in each pop.) Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Pour into the ice pop molds, insert the sticks, and freeze until completely solid, about 4 hours. Unmold just before serving. 

2:1 simple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Dip your fingers or a pastry brush in water and wash down the sides of the pan before heating. Place over medium heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely. Transfer to a covered container and store in the refrigerator. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Grilled New York Strip Steak

Yesterday was Dr. Sweetpea's birthday and he asked for a delicious steak dinner. I was watching Ina Garten on Food Network recently and saw her make a dry rub for her steak and decided to try her recipe. I'm not surprised that the steak was amazing! Dr. Sweetpea loved his steak so much that he asked me to make it for him every year on his birthday.

Grilled New York Strip Steak
(Source: Ina Garten)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground coffee (regular or decaf)
1 teaspoon (dried) granulated garlic
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 (1½-inch-thick) New York strip steaks
1½ tablespoons good olive oil

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, the brown sugar, coffee, garlic, chipotle powder, and red pepper flakes. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels, place them in a baking dish, and rub them all over with the olive oil. Rub the steaks on both sides with the spice mix, using it all. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to get into the meat.

When ready to cook, heat enough charcoal to cover half of the grill (I fill a charcoal chimney ¾ full). Pour a layer of hot coals on one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty.

Cook the steaks on the hot side of the grill for exactly 2 minutes on one side, turn them over, and cook for exactly 2 minutes on the other side. Move the steaks to the cool side of the grill, put the lid on, check to be sure the vents are open, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted sideways into the middle of the steak registers between 115 and 120 degrees for medium rare and 120 and 125 degrees for medium. Transfer the steaks to a plate, cover the plate tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the foil after 15 minutes or the steaks will continue to cook. Slice the steaks, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot or warm.