Monthly Archives: September 2012

Breakfast for Dinner and Bourbon

I do not feel very creative today, so I am just going to make something brainless for dinner. That would be a simple breakfast.  Scrambled eggs with Tillamook sharp cheddar, link sausages, biscuits made with Pioneer baking mix, and fresh raspberries.

I want to at least add a recipe today, so I am going to provide a recipe for a Manhattan cocktail. I have been drinking a lot of rum over the summer and having been thinking about autumn drinks. Drinking in the fall reminds me of whiskies. I guess I associate the smokiness of the taste with burning leaves. Of course no one burns leaves anymore, that would be dangerous. But when I was growing up, everyone burned their leaves after raking them into a pile.  The fall air was filled with the smell of burning leaves, and that reminds me of bourbon. I like the taste of a manhattan cocktail as it showcases the taste of the whiskey while giving it a zing of citrus and a touch of sweetness. Below is master mixologist Dale DeGroff’s take on this classic cocktail.

Bourbon Old Fashioned

by Dale DeGroff

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 tsp Sugar (or 2 sugar cubes)
  • 1 Orange wheel
  • 1 Maraschino cherry
  • Splash Club soda
  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • Garnish: Fresh orange wheel and cherry
  • Glass: Old Fashioned

PREPARATION:

  1. In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle the bitters, sugar, orange wheel, cherry and a splash of soda.
  2. Remove the orange rind, add the bourbon and fill with ice.
  3. Garnish with a fresh orange wheel and cherry.

Dale DeGroff says, “Old Fashioned drinkers are divided on the question of muddling the fruit. I like the muddled version. To prepare the traditional version, muddle only the sugar, bitters and splash of soda but keep the fruit garnishes.”

Master mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is also a Liquor.com advisory board member.

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Spaghetti, Meatballs, and Red Sauce

Well, it is Monday once again. Time for something easy. I, of course, am thinking of comfort food. The epitome of comfort from childhood is good old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. Since it is Monday, the only thing we are making from scratch is the red sauce. I have not bought sauce in a jar in 20 years because making this sauce is as easy as opening cans.

But first let’s talk about pasta. My favorite dried pasta is Barilla. It’s inexpensive and tastes really good. Think about how thick you want your spaghetti, there is angel hair, thin, regular, and thick. The Italian names are: capellini, vermicelli, spaghetti, and pellizzoni.

I am also not making meatballs today either, I will share that recipe another time. I bought these from Tony’s Market. They are delicious and the size of baseballs!

OK, on to the red sauce. Once you make this, you too will never buy jar sauce again. The recipe is below, but let’s talk about a couple of preferences first, consistency and herbs. In the recipe below you will see oregano, however use what you like best. Fresh basil or any combination of herbs that you taste in Italian food.

The next item is the consistency of the sauce. Below, I call for two cans of petite diced tomatoes which makes a nice chunky sauce. You can also use crushed, tomato sauce, or any combination. Or you can make the sauce as described and use a hand blender to achieve whatever consistency you desire.

Remember, like all recipes, this is a starting place. Let your creativity run wild!

Red Sauce

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 14 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Heat oil in medium sauce pan until shimmering.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes.
Sauté until garlic starts popping.
Dump in tomatoes.
Add sugar, salt, pepper, and oregano.
Cook until you are ready to serve.
Never buy sauce in a jar again!

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Beef Stew

I wanted a lazy Sunday and not think about cooking dinner all day. So, I decided to make beef stew in the slow cooker. That means I did the cooking in the morning, put it in the pot, and let it cook all day. We could eat whenever we felt like it. Beef Stew is the perfect choice. There are all kinds of ways to make beef stew. I think this is the simplest with big chunks of food and lots of full flavors. Eat it with some big crusty bread!

Beef Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Minute Tapioca
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed

Instructions:

  1. Dry beef, then season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet until it shimmers.
  3. Add half of beef and brown on all sides.
  4. Transfer to slow-cooker insert and repeat with remaining beef.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon oil, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to empty skillet.
  6. Cook until golden brown.
  7. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring well, for 2 minutes.
  8. Add broth and soy sauce, bring to simmer, and transfer to slow-cooker.
  9. Toss carrots, potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and remaining oil in bowl.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Wrap vegetables in foil pack that will fit in slow cooker.
  12. Stir tapioca into slow-cooker insert.
  13. Set vegetable packet on top of beef.
  14. Set slow cooker to high, cover, and cook for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
  15. Transfer vegetable packet to plate.
  16. Carefully open packet and stir vegetables and juices into stew.
  17. Add remaining thyme and peas and let stand until heated through.
  18. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Grilled Chicken Caprese

GrilledChickenCaprese

After a long day of chores and errands, I needed to cook something quick and easy. Grilled Chicken Caprese seemed like a great choice. I think I started cooking this from a recipe from Cook’s Country, but I am not sure.

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4″  slices and patted dry
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets, trimmed
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices

Instructions:

  1. Combine basil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper a in bowl.
  2. Slowly whisk in oil until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Transfer 4 Tbsp vinaigrette to plate and coat both sides mozzarella.
  4. Reserve remaining vinaigrette.
  5. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Grill chicken and tomatoes over hot fire until chicken is well browned and tomatoes are lightly charred.
  7. Transfer chicken to platter.
  8. Top with tomato slices and drizzle with reserved vinaigrette.
  9. Cover with even layer of mozzarella.
  10. Stick underneath broiler until cheese is bubbly.
  11. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.
  12. Serve with a nice salad and/or pasta.

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Santa Maria Tri Tip and Ginger Mojitos

I am craving ginger today. It all started last night, but I am not sure why. Maybe because I have been staring at a hunk of ginger root in my fruit bowl for about ten days now. Did you know you should not store ginger root in the refrigerator? It goes bad quicker, turns black and green, yuck! However, in the dry air of Colorado, it does tend to shrink and shrivel in the fruit bowl. But it does not get gross. Anyway, I am craving ginger. And beef. That lead me to Santa Maria Tri Tip. Yeah I know that really does not have ginger in its marinade, but I put it in there. For years I have been buying the pre marinated Santa Maria Tri Tip at Tony’s Market. I decided to make my own. It really is just salt and peppered tri tip rubbed with garlic and marinated in soy sauce. That lead me to thinking about teriyaki sauce. I recently read the cookbook Guy Fieri Food and it had a great recipe for Teriyaki Sauce. That worked wonders on the tri tip!

So last night I cooked up some of Guy’s teriyaki sauce, but I did not strain out the yummy bits. I put the tri tip in a gallon freezer bag and put half the marinade in with it overnight. Tonight I grilled it, sliced it, and served it with some fried rice. Since I was still craving ginger, I decided to have some ginger mojitos! The recipes for the teriyaki sauce and ginger mojitos are below. Both are a great way to end the week.

Teriyaki Sauce

Adapted from a Guy Fieri recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, heat the oil until shimmering.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, and chili flakes.
  3. Stir constantly for one minute.
  4. Add the green onions and mirin.
  5. Cook to reduce the liquid for three minutes.
  6. Stir in the soy sauce and brown sugar.
  7. Simmer over medium heat for five minutes stirring occasionally.
  8. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and water.
  9. Slowly pour into the pan and stir to combine.
  10. Simmer over medium heat for three minutes stirring occasionally.
  11. Remove from heat and cool.
  12. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to a week.

Ginger Mojito

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 ounce White Rum (I like Appleton Estate White for mojitos)
  • 1 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups crushed ice
  • Large ice cubes
  • Highball glass

Instructions:

  1. Fill highball glass half full with ice cubes.
  2. In the bottom of your cocktail shaker, put a handful of mint leaves.
  3. Add lime juice, simple syrup, ginger liqueur, and rum.
  4. Add crushed ice.
  5. Shake it like you mean it for at least a minute.
  6. Strain into glass to 3/4 full.
  7. Top with club soda.
  8. Garnish with sprig of mint.
  9. Sit back, sip, and enjoy!

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Chicken Spinach Orzo Skillet

ChickenSpinachOrzo

This dish has become a family favorite. It used to be an item on Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s menu, but when I checked today, it was not there. I adapted a recipe from somewhere on the web, but cannot find it anymore. If I do, I will post a link. The one item that went away very quickly is radicchio. It was just too bitter for our tastes. There are a number of reasons why I like this recipe; it tastes great, lots of good vitamins from the spinach, one dish meal, and easy to prepare. There is a lot of prep work preparing the ingredients for this dish, but once you have them ready, the dish is done in 5 minutes! You can involve the whole family in getting the ingredients together, and then take turns with who prepares the dish itself. There are carbs in the dish, but we usually cannot resist some fresh french bread to go along with it. One time, I forgot to cook and add the orzo, but everyone still loved it. We definitely need the bread on that occasion. I suppose this could be a good side dish (with out the chicken) to most anything, but I like the idea of one dish suppers. Also, we like grilled chicken for this dish, but it does not have to be grilled. It also does not have to be chicken! Shrimp works great in this dish, as well as pork chops, steak, most any meat that you can slice up. OK, ham sounds a little odd, but adding some pieces of prosciutto sounds wonderful. Hmmmm, I feel a new surprise for the family is headed their way!

Chicken Spinach Orzo Skillet

Ingredients:

  • Grilled Seasoned Chicken cut into 2 inch strips by 1/4 inch wide
  • 8 oz cooked orzo (you can cook it in the skillet for the one dish rule)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts ( I toast them in the skillet to keep with the one dish rule)
  • 1 lemon (zested and juiced)
  • 1/4 cup diced sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Capers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesano Reggiano
  • 1 package baby spinach, shredded ( I like to remove the stems)
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in the skillet until shimmering
  2. Add garlic until it starts popping
  3. Add in lemon juice and zest to skillet
  4. Cut the heat on the skillet
  5. Add spinach to skillet and toss to coat
  6. Add orzo and Chicken and toss
  7. Remove skillet from stove
  8. Add pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, capers and toss
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste
  10. Scatter cheese on top
  11. Toss one final time and serve in skillet
  12. Dig in and enjoy!

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