Friday, April 30, 2010

Food Science Friday and Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Alright, second installment of Food Science Friday. This week's article:

'Inverse Method to Estimate Kinetic Degradation Parameters of Grape Anthocyanins in Wheat Flour Under Simultaneously Changing Temperature and Moisture' by Lai et al., Journal of Food Science 2009, Vol. 74. No. 5 (this one just had an abstract up for free, so couldn't link to the full article unfortunately)

I know what you're thinking... what the hell does that title even mean. And if you're not thinking that, I'll be the first to admit this is probably one of the toughest journal articles I've ever read. It had a lot of charts, lots of mathematical formulas... and lots of physics related jargon. And I don't know if I've expressed how much I hate the subject of physics... but I do... with a passion.

So why read this article then? Well...the article is basically discussing a new way to measure or analyze degradation of anthocyanins. And now I know you're thinking... what the hell are anthocyanins?

Well, anthocyanins are water-soluble compounds that give certain fruits and vegetables their noticeable pigments... the reason grapes are purple, blueberries are blue, tomatoes are red... get it?

Anthocyanins actually play a major role in many of today's processed snacks. It allows extrusion-cooked (basically cooking prepared foods in a short amount of time, find out more here) snacks (cereal, pet food, puffed snacks, etc.) to attain a natural pigment and also provides health-promoting antioxidants.

Anthocyanins are particularly important in the wine industry because the value of most wine increases based on the color and flavor of the grape.

What I take from the study, even though I didn't really go in depth with it here, is that the degradation of anthocyanins also degrades the quality of a product. So they measured degradation using different methods so develop a formula for how fast or slow the anthocyanins degrade. Yeah, does that make sense? Maybe not, but I'd love to hear any feedback. This article was a bit of a bore for me really, like I said... a LOT of math and graphs. Most of which didn't make any sense. If you'd like to read the article I can e-mail you a PDF of it, or if you just have any general input on the subject, feel free to comment! I'll definitely try to have something more interesting next week!

Adapted from Now Eat This! - "Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad"

small French baguette, cut into 1 inch slices
3 garlic cloves, 1 whole and 2 pressed
salt and pepper, to taste
3 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, pounded thin
olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
10 oz. chopped Romaine lettuce

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

To make your croutons, rub the whole garlic clove on all sides of the sliced baguette. Cut the slices into desired sized cubes and place on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the cubes well in the olive oil. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until toasted. Let cool.

Preheat a charcoal grill under high heat. Rub chicken with about 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken for about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how thin/thick they are. Let cool on plate.

In a large salad bowl, combine the pressed garlic, lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and half of the Parmesan cheese. Mix until smooth and add in lettuce and croutons. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss until everything is well coated.

Pile salad onto plates. Slice chicken thighs and serve on top of salad. Top with remaining cheese and dig in!

Andy couldn't get enough of this. This was super healthy and super delicious. I've never made Caesar salad without using anchovy in the dressing prep, so I was a little skeptical about this tasting correctly, but it was definitely spot on! One of the best caesar salads I've ever had!

Don't forget to place your bid on your favorite horse for the Derby! Derby is one of the best events to have a party for... basically because you're only glued to a TV for less than 2 minutes and the rest of the time you can mingle and socialize! Whatever you do this weekend, be safe and enjoy it! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spaghetti w/ Jumbo Meatballs

Out of shear laziness... or I blame it more on forgetfulness... I didn't have a post yesterday. Well, this is finals week and I was attempting to study... so that is my excuse. So today, I post. A day later. My apologies.

Anyway, I just wanted to make you all aware that one of my favorite sites is back up - Foodie Fights!
So if you're in the mood for an 'Iron Chef' type battle with 5 other food bloggers... or just want to check out what the cheftestants are coming up with, head on over there and check it out! It's definitely an experience every food blogger, or anybody really, should check out!

And stay tuned tomorrow, there will definitely be a post for Food Science Friday...

Adapted from Bon Appetit's May 2010 issue - 'Max's Spaghetti with Meatballs and Marinara'

1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel
1 shallot, chopped
6 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon sage
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup milk
1-2 lb. ground beef
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Marinara (homemade or store-bought, of course homemade is the best)
1 box spaghetti

Whoa that's a book listing for ingredients. But I promise, every single one make this dish absolutely delicious.

Add onions, celery, carrots, leeks, fennel, shallots, and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until everything is pretty finely chopped and mixed together.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil under medium high heat. Add thyme, rosemary, and sage. Stir constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in vegetable mixture and crushed red pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the wine and stir until almost evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, stir breadcrumbs and milk together in large bowl. Add in beef and mix well.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Add cooled vegetable mixture to beef, along with eggs, Parmesan, parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until well combined. Roll mixture into large (or small) meatballs to your liking.

Place meatballs on greased baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Add meatballs to already made marinara and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain.

Serve meatballs and marinara atop spaghetti and with a nice crusty bread.

Talk about comfort food. This was the pinnacle of delicious. Andy said the meatballs reminded him of little meatloaves because they were so big. You could of course make them smaller, but I like a bigger meatball. Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wasabi & Mustard Mahi Mahi

The weekend was pretty uneventful. It was damn near dreary, really. It rained like it had never rained before, well, this season anyway. And it's supposed to keep raining on and off until Wednesday. One really good thing about the weekend though, it managed to stop raining long enough for me to go on 2 runs. Yeah. TWO RUNS! Friday I did about 3.8 miles, and Saturday I did a little over 4. I'd say that's pretty good if you ask me... especially considering a couple weeks ago, I went for my first run of the season, and wanted to just pass out in every lawn I came across. Yeah, funny how out of shape we can get when taking the winter off.


1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 mahi mahi filets
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons sake
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons wasabi paste
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place panko in a shallow dish. Place eggs in a separate shallow dish. Dip the mahi mahi filets in the eggs, then dredge in panko. Set aside.

Whisk the mustard powder, red pepper flakes, and 5 tablespoons water in a small bowl until mustard is dissolved.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil under medium high heat. Add fish and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Combine the mustard mixture with 1/4 cup soy sauce.

In same skillet used for fish, add the powdered ginger and stir for about 30 seconds. (If no or little oil remains in the pain, add about 1 teaspoon or so) Then add chicken broth, sake, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, sugar, and wasabi paste. Stir until wasabi and sugar is completely dissolved.

Arrange fish on top of steamed brown rice and drizzle with wasabi/ginger sauce. Serve with the mustard/soy sauce on the side.

This meal was pretty okay for me. If I did it again, I probably wouldn't use Mahi Mahi. I mean, don't get me wrong, Mahi Mahi is a good fish, but I think it was "meatier" than needed for this dish. The sauce was delicate and needed a delicate fish to pair with (maybe halibut or even tilapia). Enjoy!

Btw! For those that gave me feedback on Food Science Friday, THANK YOU! I hope to keep doing it and will be glad to have you all learn with me!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food Science Friday and Chicken Dupiaza

Today's the first installment of Food Science Friday.

The article today is "Effect of Beef Product Physical Structure on Salmonella Thermal Inactivation"
by Maria Avelina Mogollon et al. from The Journal of Food Science 2009 Vol. 74

I really enjoyed this article because it put 2 things into perspective:

- The structure of meat really does make a difference in the effect of bacterial growth (whether you have a whole piece of meat or whether it is ground)
- I really love this field, and reading this article really made my decision to go to Grad School worthwhile.

Basically, its always been understood that whole muscle meat is contaminated through surface area and not likely to be highly affected like ground meat, which has tons of surface area. Well... the study kind of supported that the opposite is true. Whole meat actually is able to "house" bacterial pathogens because of its inside. Think about it... if you wanted to hide, you'd go in a deep dark hole right? That's exactly what bacteria does, with whole meat it can go to the most inner center and stay there and grow. With ground meat, you're dealing with tiny particles and not much "protection", if you will.
Salmonella in particular, has greater thermal resistance (basically, won't die as easily if exposed to heat - aka - cooking) when unattached or suspended in a liquid... think marination.

Why Salmonella? Well, it's pretty much the basis of study for USDA performance standards (which is that there should be a 6.5log10 reduction (99.99998%) of Salmonella for all cooked beef products - more info on guidelines found here ). However, through all the lethality guidelines used for calculating this, physical structure (grind size of meat) of the meat itself has never been factored in.

The stated objective of the study was to evaluate the relationship between thermal resistance of Salmonella and degree of grinding (whole-muscle, coarsely ground, finely ground, and beef puree (sounds appetizing, eh?))

Methods of the experiment:
Preparation of meat: beef chuck, shoulder clods, all taken from the same place (Packerland-Plainwell, Inc.) 48 hours after slaughter. Samples were then taken to the Michigan State University lab and irradiated (rid of all background bacterial flora).
For whole muscle: cyclinders were obtained (about 6-8 cm long) using a sterile coring device.
For coarsely and finely ground beef: beef was ground in a sterile grinder by putting the beef through a plate two times with 16 mm holes for coarsely ground, and two times with 6 mm holes for finely ground.
For beef puree: beef was put through sterile grinder and passed through a plate with 6 mm holes 5 times, then blended in a sterile blender at puree speed for 1 minute. (yummy)

Then bacterial cultures were obtained for 8 different serotypes (similar to strains, but not exactly) of Salmonella - including serotypes from beef, chicken, turkey, and humans.

A "Marinade" was then prepared (and definitely like the type of marinade you and me are used to) by using 96% filtered and deionized water, 3.2% NaCl (salt), and 0.8% potassium phosphate solution. Mixture was poured into 520mL glass bottles and stored at room temperature.

Inoculation of the samples began with the 8 serotypes of each Salmonella (about 9 mL of each) combined by centrifuge and resuspended in the marinade mix. This resulted in 10 to the 8th CFU (colony forming units)/mL... that 100,000,000 Salmonella colonies PER mL of a 520mL bottle... you can imagine that's a pretty large number.

To inoculate the whole muscle: the cyclinders were placed into the marinade for about 20 minutes, resulting in a 0.15 g uptake of the marinade.
To inoculate coarsely and finely ground beef: samples were inoculated dropwise with the marinade mixture after their 1st grind, and then ground for the 2nd time, also resulting in a 0.15 g uptake.
To inoculate the beef puree: the samples were inoculated dropwise after grinding was complete and before blending step, resulting in 0.15 g uptake.

To test for Thermal inactivation, each of the samples were packed into sterile brass tubes, sealed with rubber stoppers and place in an agitated 60.5 C (140.9 F) water bath. Once the internal temperatures of the samples reach 60 C, they were removed and placed on an ice bath.

Results found were all within a similar range, but whole-muscle was found to inactivate at a slower rate than that of the ground beef products. (The degree of grind was shown not to make a difference because all 3 grind products produced about the same rate of inactivation).

So what exactly does this all mean? Well, they suggest in the article, that the higher fat content found in whole muscle product could provide an area for bacterial attachment that allows for it to be thermally protected. You don't get at much fat surface area in ground meat, so that could explain the difference in thermal inactivation.

Now, what I take from the study, is not to never buy whole meat products because not ALL Salmonella or bacterial pathogens are bad for you. Whole meat products are pretty much the best ways to use meat, but I think that it should, based on this study, be exposed to more heat longer. Now, will I live up to that? Probably not, because personally, I think a medium rare steak is the way to go, but can I live with a few bacterial bodies floating around because of that? Sure thing. Mainly because, even if you don't like to admit it, there's millions of bacteria living in us all, regardless of how many times a day you shower or clean yourself. And without them... you honestly wouldn't be able to survive.

Phew... that was a hefty piece of work. I included a PDF file of the article for those of you that want to read it in depth. It's a pretty easy read, for the most part, and I would definitely like to hear some feedback on what you guys think! Do you agree with me? Do you take a different message home from the article? Is this segment a little too scientific or nerdy for you? I want to hear it all! The good and the bad!

Anyway, on a lighter note, here's a non-beef recipe for you!


3 chicken thighs, skinned and de-boned, cut into thin strips or cubes
1 & 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons grated ginger
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons tumeric
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
4 onions, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 to 1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Dupiaza, at first, sounds Italian to me. But no, it's actually a type of Indian curry, and "piaza" actually means onion... so hence why there's so much onion in this dish. But don't worry, it doesn't overpower anything.

In a medium sauce pan, add enough water to fill it halfway and bring to a boil. Add half of the chopped onions and cook until soft. About 10-15 minutes or so. Drain the onions and puree until semi-smooth. This will be your onion paste, but you can set it aside for right now.

In a large skillet, under medium high heat, add the butter and melt. Once melted, add in the remaining onions, celery, and carrots. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until vegetables are soft and starting to turn brown in color, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can make your curry paste. In a food processor, add ginger, garlic, curry powder, garam masala, tumeric, and about 1-2 tablespoons of water. Pulse to get a nice paste-like consistency. You may add more water if it is still too thick. Add paste to saucepan with vegetables and stir for about 2-3 minutes.

Add in chicken and coat well with mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix yogurt, tomato paste, onion paste, and chicken stock. Mix until tomato paste is dissolved. Then add mixture to pan with vegetables and chicken. Mix well and simmer for about 15 minutes and chicken is cooked all the way through.

I served this with some red rice and it was phenomenal. You could sense the onion flavor, but it wasn't too much. The curry really mellowed the onion out. It was definitely sensationally delicious and great the next day! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cream of Mushroom & Chicken Soup

Okay, so first off... I've been noticing a lot of blogs I read (whether about food, politics, everyday life, etc.) sometimes have "theme-days"... so in spirit of all of that... I've decided to make Fridays from now on, FYI Food Science Fridays. What will it pertain, you ask? Well... every Friday, before my recipe, I'm going to give an overview of a journal or research article that pertains to Food Science or Technology.

I do this for 2 major reasons.
#1. I've officially decided I'm going to finish up my Biology degree and then go to grad school for Food Science. So it would benefit me to keep up to date with current research and experiments being conducted to be more familiar with what I'm getting myself into, and to just see what's being done.

#2. I think the scientific part of food development is overlooked. There's so many things out there that you wonder, what does that mean? why is this so? So hopefully, the articles I go over are going to give you a little bit of insight into what you're putting into your mouth and how it even got to you in the first place.

I'm hoping the pieces will be interesting and spark some comments, and hell... who knows, you may be on Jeopardy one day and your Final Jeopardy question may be something you learned from one of my articles. I've already read what I'll be talking about on Friday and I'm not letting you in on anything quite yet, so you'll just have to sneak a peak back on Friday afternoon to find out the interesting tid bit.

Anyway, on to the recipe...


8-12 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 cooked chicken thighs, skin and bones removed, then shredded

The one thing I love about cream of anything soup is that the prep work doesn't usually involve fine chopping, because at the end of day, you're just going to blend the whole thing up to get a nice smooth consistency anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much about slicing or chopping.

Heat a dutch oven over high heat. Add the olive oil and when shimmering stir in the mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Saute until the mushrooms start to become soft, about 5 minutes.

Season the mushroom mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Add in the chicken broth and cream. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mushrooms are completely tender, about 8-10 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth or at a texture you prefer. Stir in shredded chicken and season with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve!

I loved this because it was so quick and easy... and flavorful to the extreme! This could even be put on top of pasta or chicken breasts it was so good. I may even use this for the next time I make green bean casserole! Enjoy! And don't forget to come back Friday for the first installment of FYI Food Science Friday!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Subjectively Colored Curry Mussels

Many lessons learned this weekend:
1. lonely military wives hate it when you don't take your hat off during the star spangled banner.
2. i don't like it when lonely military wives tell andy to take his hat off during the star spangled banner, and not tell any of the millions of other people to do so.
3. the earth is not one's trash can
4. a funnel cake always makes everything better.
5. chicken on a stick is an abomination... not only disgusting, but disrespectful to chicken.

Needless to say, drinking was involved, and may have escalated certain events. Nobody went to jail, nobody lost an arm... no harm done. Fireworks were sub-par, the night was chilly, but we were in good company and really... that's all you can ever ask for.


2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and debearded
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tomato, seeded and diced
small handful cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 can coconut milk
water, if needed
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine the cumin, tomato, cilantro, ginger, and chiles. Turns out, I had a really big tomato and so it mostly tinted the curry paste red, but the recipe was originally green curry based, so hence the subjective coloring. Set mixture aside.

Heat dutch oven under medium high heat and add oil. When oil is shimmering and hot, add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes or so. Add the curry paste and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Add in coconut milk and stir. If too thick, add water to thin mixture out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring mixture to a boil and add mussels. Mix well, making sure mussels are well coated with curry sauce. Cover mixture, lower heat to a simmer, and steam mussels for about 5 minutes, or until all of the shells have opened. Discard any shells that have not opened.

Serve in a large bowl with pieces of a nice baguette.

The curry broth in this dish is what totally did it for the both of us. It was so flavorful and so different from the usually white wine and garlic liquid that most mussel dishes are steamed in. The bread was great for dipping and soaking up the liquid, and this just have easily could have been served with a big pile of rice. Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thai Crab and Mango Salad

Alright, again, I do apologize for the lack of a post on Wednesday, but I must say, I'm completely less stressed out... although I do have a test on Monday that I should be studying for... but that's what Sunday is reserved for.

This weekend is a pretty big weekend I should say. Louisville is home to the biggest fireworks show in the U.S. - Thunder Over Louisville. The masses gather around, on the Indiana and Kentucky sides of the Ohio River, get drunk, watch some air shows, eat some food, watch the fireworks, and then proceed to bitch and complain about the 20-30 minutes they spend in traffic on the way home. Great time right? Right. Personally... I think it's overrated... once you've seen fireworks, you've seen fireworks... I mainly go because of one reason... a nice fried funnel cake dusted with powdered sugar... and possibly an occasional foot long corn dog, but not necessary. Yep... nothing like a redneck making you a funnel cake... makes me quite content.

So to make myself feel better about eating some not-so-healthy food this weekend... I'm going to post a recipe for a really delicious salad that is pretty healthy... they counter balance eachother right?

Adapted from Food & Wine's March 2010 issue - "Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad"

1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 mexican red chiles, seeded and minced
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
juice from 1 lemon
juice from 1 tangerine
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek
1/3 cup water
2 mangoes, peeled and julienned
2 cucumbers, peeled and julienned
2 bunches of watercress, washed and thick stems discarded
1 tablespoon basil paste
small handful cilantro, chopped
1 lb. jumbo lump crab
3 scallions, thinly sliced

I think the prep work is what take a lot of time in this recipe. There's tons of color and flavor here and it's definitely worth the time for everything. Trust me on this one.

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and half of the garlic and chiles. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the carrots and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour for a quick pickling of sorts.

In another medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, tangerine juice, shallot, fish sauce, sambal oelek, and water. Stir in remaining garlic, chiles, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Mix until sugar is well dissolved. This is your dressing... and it's phenomenal.

In a large salad bowl, combine the mango, cucumbers, watercress, basil paste, and cilantro. Drain the carrots, shaking off any extra liquid, and add into the bowl as well. Stir in the dressing and toss well. Place big portion on large plates and top with lump crab meat. Garnish with the scallions and dig in!

This was absolutely a knock out dish for me. The color, the flavor, the presentation. It was all just beautiful. I mean, look at that dish! You want to eat it now! The mango plays such a great contrast to the sweet crab meat. Seriously, you must try this dish now... it's great! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lazy Day

Okay, well, it's 11 pm... and I finally got to take a look at today's post's pictures... and they're well... blurry. Too blurry to even make out how awesome this soup was. And I'm tired. I've just finished a 10 page paper on MRSA, which I don't want to see MRSA or anything to do with MRSA for a long time because this paper has driven me insane... I've played volleyball, our first game of the season, and we lost all 3 matches, so not a good start, but it was first game jitters... and I'm just worn out. So go to Kalyn's Kitchen's blog and try this soup!

P.S. I'm sorry for the no post today, but I'm exhausted! I promise I'll have something tasty and delicious to look at on Friday!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pork Chops w/ Homemade Buttermilk Ranch

It's been a pretty wild weekend leading up to today. Saturday, had a nice dinner over at a friend's. All I have to say, is he didn't overcook the salmon, so I was impressed. What I WASN'T impressed with, is the fact that people don't know the difference between a wine glass and a martini/margarita glass. That... to me... is just... appalling. Not really, but seriously... quite insane.

Then saw Jo Koy at a local comedy club last night, and if you don't know who Jo Koy is... you most definitely need to YouTube or google him, RIGHT. NOW. Or after you read the rest of this. One of the funniest guys EVER.

Anyway, here's a quick and easy chop, and if you so feel inclined, do make the ranch because it's a great accompaniment.


2 bone-in pork chops
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons mayo
2-3 tablespoons sour cream
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 anchovy filet, minced
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, and vinegar until smooth. Add in anchovy, chives, and dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep in fridge while preparing chops.

Season both sides of chops with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet under medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add pork chops and cook until nicely golden brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Serve with ranch dressing and a side of mixed vegetables and/or rice.

This was pretty easy. The pork chops are just simply seasoned with salt and pepper and the natural flavors of the pork really come out. The ranch is great with the pork chop, as well. Enjoy!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Beanie Weenies

Now, most people that either don't read my blog, or read it occasionally... aka people at work or school, just think I eat high-end gourmet what not. But really, I eat normal things... pretty regularly. Maybe just the way I describe the things I eat make it sound more than it is, but to me, the way I describe food is different than how your average person describes food. Who can relate? I mean, food, to me, is a personal adventure. You never know where it will take you, and you definitely don't know how good something is unless you have the pleasure of placing it in your mouth. Am I right? You know I am.

Anyway, today's dish is pretty normal to the average American, Beanie Weenies. And I know, you're like, Beanie Weenies? Don't those things come in a can in the bean aisle? Yeah, but seriously, they're way better when you actually make them at home. You can have them as a side, or as a main dish like we did!

Adapted from There's A NEWF In My Soup's Blog

1 package Little Smokies cocktail sausages
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup stout beer (I used Murphy's Stout, similar to Guinness but in my opinion a little tastier)
1 can Bush's Baked Beans (Any flavor will do, I used Maple Cured Bacon because I like a sweeter bean)
Large handful of spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet under medium heat and add sausages. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes or so. Set aside on a plate.

In same skillet, add olive oil and shallots. Cook until shallots begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add cumin and chili powder and mix well. Add vinegar, beer, and beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer.

Return sausages to pan and allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes to let all of the flavors blend together.

A couple minutes before serving, stir in the spinach and allow to wilt. Mix well and serve in bowls!

This was tasty. It was definitely just some good old comfort food. I know it wasn't fried chicken or mashed potatoes, but there's just something great about a good bowl of beans... to me anyway. And I was pretty excited because it was actually still daylight out when I had this done so I could take the picture outside! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadillas

Ok, quesadillas are a no brainer. Pretty much one of the easiest and most delicious things you can make. Quite versatile, throw anything in there and add cheese... voila, quesadilla. I really like this version because the chicken tastes really delicious in the mix with all the other ingredients. It's a simple dinner, but it's also a quick and filling one!

On a side note, Top Chef Masters starts on Bravo tonight so be sure to watch it!

Adapted from the Rocco Dispirito cookbook "Now Eat This!"

6 8-inch tortillas
2 cups monterrey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cotija cheese, grated
1 large chicken breast
1 red bell pepper
Fresh salsa
small handful cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper
non-stick cooking spray
sour cream (optional)
Hot or mild taco sauce (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Sprinkle chicken breast with salt and pepper and place in glass baking dish. Bake in over for about 20-30 minutes, turning once, until chicken is cooked through.

Allow chicken to cool, then shred or cut into small pieces.

While the chicken is cooling, set your oven broiler to high and place red pepper on closest rack to broiler (without touching the actual broiler, of course). Char the pepper on all sides, about 5-10 minutes. Let cool in brown paper bag (this will let the pepper steam and allow for easier peeling of the charred skin). Peel pepper and evenly dice into small 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat a large skillet (about the size of the tortilla rounds) under medium high heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place 1 tortilla on skillet, add a small handful of chicken, some red pepper strips, a little bit (or a lotta bit) or both cheeses, a couple tablespoons of salsa, a pinch of chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper. Then top with another tortilla and cook until bottom is golden, about 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until remaining side is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 4-5 more minutes.

Repeat with remaining tortillas to make 2 more additional quesadillas.

Cut the rounds into quarters, like a pizza, and serve with sour cream and taco sauce, if desired.

See... easy. And the reward is a delicious cheesy quesadilla that's full of flavor! Enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Simple Seabass w/ Grape Tomato "Salsa"

Ok, so the NCAA Championship game is tonight. Butler vs. Duke. This is somewhat of a double-edged sword here. #1. I hate Duke. I think they're like the Yankees of baseball. Yeah, they're good, but who wants to watch the same team win and win and win? Unless you're a Duke or a Yankees fan, I don't think anyone enjoys the same old monotony. And Butler... yeah, Cinderella schminderella. I'm tired of hearing about them. And trust me, living in Nothern Kentucky, bordering Southern Indiana, and working with many Butler grads... I have to hear about it. And it makes me want to vomit. So, yeah, I want them to lose... but I don't want Duke to win... so it looks like I'm just s.o.l. there. My bet is on Duke mauling right over the little bulldogs though... we'll see.

Adapted from Food & Wine's March 2010 issue - "Sea Bass w/ Tomato & Black Olive Salsa"

2 5 oz. Chilean sea bass fillets
juice from 1 lemon, with 1 tablespoon reserved
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and fresh black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon basil puree (it comes in a tube and it keeps longer than fresh basil, with the same taste)
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and diced

In a shallow dish, rub the sea bass with lemon juice and 1 tablespoon, each, of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This will really allow the simple flavors of the lemon to enter the fish and make it truly fantastic.

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onions, basil, dill, and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well. Add remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and give it a quick toss. Add mixture to hot skillet and saute until onions and tomatoes start to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Wipe down skillet and return to heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering.

With a paper towel, pat dry the fillets and add to skillet, skin side down. Cook under medium high to high heat until skin is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until fish is white throughout, about another 4 minutes.

Transfer the fish to plates and immediately top with tomato mixture and a nice piece of crunchy bread.

This was absolutely delicious. The simple flavors of the tomatoes pair so well with the buttery taste of the sea bass. The fish had so much natural flavor that excessive seasoning was not necessarily. The lemon, salt, and pepper was enough to allow it to shine and the crispy texture of the skin was just phenomenal. Definitely a must try! Enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

East Meets West Shrimp

I must admit, I've been a pretty awful non-practicing Catholic this Lenten season. I didn't give anything up. I've eaten meat on practically every Friday. But seriously... that's exactly why I'm non-practicing. Too many rules. To many things to abide by. Do this. Don't do that. What does it all matter? Why does there have to be a certain "holiday" or time for us to give something up or eat something else. Why can't we just do what we want to do... within legal parameters, of course. I've never been one that's been a fan of being told what to do and when to do it... so it's no surprise that I fall into this anti-Lent category. But for those of you who do celebrate, and want a good seafood/meat-less dish for the last Friday of lent, these shrimps were pretty much awesome.

(Stuffed Peppers adapted from Food & Wine's March 2010 issue "Shrimp-Stuffed Peppers")

about 20 Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on.
salt and fresh pepper
2/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup cotija cheese, grated/shredded
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 small handful chopped cilantro
6 Cubanelle peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Fresh salsa
Mango-Teriyaki marinade

For the West part, we're going to do marinated shrimp skewers. Take about 14 of the shrimp and marinate them in your marinade of choice. It'd help if it's Asian themed, to fit with the West-ness, so I found a great marinade bottle at Whole Foods of Mango-Teriyaki. Let marinate for about an hour.

For the East part, we're gonna make some shrimp-stuffed peppers. Heat your grill under medium heat.

Cut a slit down the Cubanelle peppers, length-wise, but not all the way through. Then cut a horizontal slit on each of the ends of the length-wise slit. Kind of like a really wide letter H. Place the peppers on the grill and get a nice char on them, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from grill and let cool until you can handle them.

Meanwhile, mix the cheeses, cilantro, and scallion in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Season the insides of the cooled peppers with a little salt and pepper and stuff with cheese mixture.

In a large skillet, add oil and heat under medium high heat. Add garlic and remaining shrimp. Cook until shrimp start to curl and turn pink, about 2-4 minutes. Stuff the shrimp in the peppers along with the cheese, letting the tails stick out.

Heat the peppers on the grill for about 5-10 minutes, or until cheese mixture is melted.

To finish the marinated shrimp, place 3-4 shrimp onto bamboo skewers and grill for about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Top the stuffed peppers with fresh salsa and lightly top marinated shrimp with Sriracha, if desired!

This was great. I think the two different ways of doing the shrimp really complimented eachother. It was the first time this year we got to use our grill and that is always a sure sign of better weather, and better/great food to come! Enjoy!