Lime Cilantro Grilled Chicken

It is hot hot hot hot outside! I wanted to grill some chicken today and I could almost have cooked it on my concrete patio floor! I debated what would be cooler to light up the grill and stand in the heat or use my grill pan on the gas stove? Hmmmmm? The A/C and the grill pan won out! This really tastes better with a good charcoal grille pattern, but Ce La Vie....

1/3 cup olive oil

juice of 2 limes. If the limes are room temperature and you roll them on the counter a few times before you slice them in half, it will make juicing them easier.

2 garlic cloves minced

handful of fresh cilantro chopped

1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped, to keep the heat down make sure you get all the seeds and veins out, for more heat leave a few veins

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

In a mixing bowl or salad dressing carafe mix all the ingredients up to the chicken.

salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts, pour the marinade in a large zip loc bag and place the chicken in.  For a more zesty flavor add the squeezed lime halves.  Chill for at least 30 min and up to 2 hrs.

On the grill over direct medium high heat grill chicken for 5-6 min each side. (or like I did on a grill pan on the stove)  Discard any remaining marinade.  This goes great with the Spicy Coconut Rice!

This is not a quick meal.  It is still easy but it has many steps.  This is not the dinner I make after a 8-9 hr shift on my feet all day at work, but it is an excellent Sunday Lunch.  Sunday Lunch is a tradition that has almost fallen off the edge of the world. In our modern hub bub lives we seem to forget the great value of a well prepared home cooked meal that Mom and Grandma spent all sunday afternoon preparing when the family came home from church. Dad's and Granddad's watched football or some other sport, kids ran amuck in the yard, and there was Mom and Grandma slaving away in hot kitchen making a delicious meal for us all.  I am not saying ladies that we need to spend all Sunday every week slaving away but there is some gratification in making a meal that is fit for royalty, and that took you some time and you worked really hard on, and served your family a lovely meal!  That is what this meal is!

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tbs cream of tartar)

1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper, and smoked spanish paprika ( you can also use regular paprika, I just feel that the smoked spanish has more flavor)

2 eggs beaten well

Panko bread crumbs

Canola oil to fry in

for the sauce

3 oz cream cheese at room temperature

2 tbs dry vermouth wine

1/2 cup pearl onions peeled (you can use chopped onions, I just love the sweet taste of a pearl onion)

1/4 cup half and half (I use fat-free)

1 cup sliced mushrooms divided

1 tbs fresh parsley

olive oil and salt and pepper to taste

Cut the chicken breast into strips. If the meat is still slightly frozen it will be easier to cut.  You can use that trick with any meat that you have to slice or cube.  If you don't have buttermilk handy you can make your own by adding  1 tbs of cream of tartar to 1 cup milk and mix.  Place the chicken strips in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and pepper and paprika, then pour the milk over and mix to combine.  Cover and chill at least one hour.

I make the sauce first and keep it warm while I fry the chicken. Otherwise the chicken will get cold and soggy while you make the sauce.

Sautee the pearl onions and 1/2 cup of the mushroom in olive oil in a sautee pan til soft and brown.  Deglaze the pan with vermouth.

Melt the cream cheese and add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and then remove from heat to cool slightly. Pour mixture into a blender or a mini food processor, add the fresh parsley and bled till creamy.

Place back in pan and add other 1/2 cup mushrooms and 6 tbs chicken broth to thin. Bring to a boil turn heat to low and cover.  Stir every now and then while you are cooking the chicken.

In 3 separate bowls have chicken soaked in milk, beaten eggs and panko crumbs.

Use one hand for wet and one hand for dry.  Take milk soaked chicken place in eggs, dredge both sides in panko crumbs til coated.

Heat Canola oil to approx 375 over medium high heat.  Cook Chicken in batches. Be sure not to over crowd your pan or your chicken will get greasy.  If you place the chicken in a clockwise pattern you won't have any trouble knowing which one to turn next and you will have all your chicken come out a uniform brown.  Cook in oil till one side is browned and then flip to brown other side. Only flip once or you run the risk of cooking unevenly and losing your crumb coating.

Drain on a baking cooling rack over paper towels to keep the chicken crispy.

Plate with the mushroom sauce.

I also make roasted asparagus and cheddar cheese biscuits with this meal. It is casual elegance at it's best! I hope you enjoy and that you have many great family meals!

Greekie Chickie

My Step-Son loves Greek food! He is so good about trying new things and is always encouraging me to make new recipes. He says just make it up! So I do. And one night this was my Mediterranean creation.

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

1 can diced tomatoes

1/4 red onion chopped

15 pitted kalamta olives sliced in half

1/4 c peporchini rings cut in 1/4

rosemary garlic seasoning blend

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp powdered rosemary (you can omit this is you want)

1 1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup chicken broth

Bring salted water to boil and cook til hard al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Heat pan and add 1 tbs olive oil.  Sprinkle chicken with rosemary garlic seasoning blend and place in hot pan. Sear meat (careful not to burn blend) 3 -4 minutes each side.  Remove chicken and keep warm.  In same pan cook onion 1-2 minutes then add tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add olives, peppers, salt and pepper, rosemary, and orzo.  Add the chicken back in and the chicken stock.  Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes.  Serve immediately with crumbled feta cheese.

This is great with a green salad and taziki dressing, maybe some spanokopeta also.  Not only is this yummy and healthy, it is super easy and stress free cooking for a great meal after a long day at work!

Cauliflower and Noodle Au gratin

The name on the recipe card from my Mother is Mac and Cheese and Cauliflower. Not the most interesting name in the world, but it is really good and you can make a big batch for brunches and pot lucks or a smaller amount for a family meal.  The amounts here will make a 9 x 13 baking dish's worth.  I use this as a main dish but I realize that most people would use this as a side dish.  It doesn't photograph that well, cauliflower is white and kind of lumpy after all.  If you can excuse my less than exciting photos and just trust me that this packs a ton of flavor!

1 small or 1/2 head of cauliflower

2 cups egg noodles (Mom used 1 1/3 cup elbow)

4 oz grated cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup milk

2 tbs butter

1 can green chiles

salt and pepper and onion powder to taste

a few drops of hot sauce or wing sauce

Bring salted water to a boil and cook noodles. Drain and reserve.  Boil cauliflower till fork tender.  In a mixing bowl combine noodles, cheddar cheese, milk, green chilies, salt and pepper and onion powder.

Mash the cauliflower in a separate bowl with the butter and salt and pepper.

Add mashed cauliflower to the noodle mixture and place in a greased baking dish (with fat free non stick spray).  Top with the parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes then put under the broiler for 3 minutes to brown the top.

I don't think Mom will care that I changed the name and tweaked the recipe a little.  This is delicious!

Brazillian Flank Steak

There comes a point when my blood thirsty carnivore boys say they want red meat or there will be mutiny! So I capitulate and give in to the demands.  I do so with a very lean cut of meat and cook it quick and hot on the grill for great flavor and fast and healthy Chimichuri sauce top it off.

2 lean cuts of Flank steak

3 whole garlic cloves

1 bunch of fresh parsley

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper and onion and garlic powder

Season the meat with salt and pepper and both garlic and onion powders.

In a food processor put in parsley, garlic cloves and salt and pepper to taste. (Aprox 1 tsp of each) Pulse while drizzling in  olive oil.

Pulse until all ingredients are combined and make a paste like consistency.

Grill steak, on grill or use a grill pan, on medium high heat for 4 minutes each side. This will bring the meat to medium rare. All meat should be cook to medium rare for the best flavor.  If you cook the steak any longer it will lose all it's flavor.  Let the meat rest 5 minutes and then cut on the diagonal.

Plate on a serving platter and spread the chimichuri sauce on top.  This is a great fresh approach to grilling out. Quick, tasty and lighter than a heavy steak.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Growing up my mom made a home made meal every night and we almost always had a yummy home-baked dessert! This was a family favorite and she made it quite often.  The funny thing is she made it so often that she no longer needed the written recipe.  Well years have passed and we just moved on to other favorites and this was kind of forgotten like so many other childhood treats and memories.  Mom was here visiting me for Father's Day a few weeks ago and we were going through my grandmother's recipe books and lo and behold this popped up!!!!  The original recipe cut out from a magazine in 1974!!!!

Well I just had to make this again!! My Step-Son, Steven will just love this, I told myself and you know what? I was so right!!!

Here is the recipe exactly as printed!

1 cup Gold Medal Flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tbs cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tbs salad oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 3/4 cup hottest tap water

Favorite Ice Cream

Heat oven to 350.  In an ungreased square pan, 9 x 9 x2 inches, stir together flour, granulated sugar, 2 tbs cocoa, the baking powder and salt.  Mix in milk, oil and vanilla with fork until smooth.  Stir in nuts. Spread evenly in pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.  Pour hot water over batter. Bake 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes; spoon into dessert dished or cut into squares. Invert each square onto dessert plate. Top with ice cream and spoon sauce over each serving.  9 servings.

So that is how it is written. I did a few different steps. I did not mix in the pan, but used a mixing bowl.

The batter will become thick, very thick, but no worries.  This is what makes the cake so fudgey and gooey!  After you mix and spread the batter in the cake pan sprinkle the brown sugar and cocoa on top.

Pour the hot water over the whole cake. It will look like muddy water sitting on top. Bake in the oven for 40 min. When the cake comes out it will look like it is heaving. That is all the good gooey fudge underneath boiling.

Let the cake stand for 15-20 minutes to cool then serve with ice cream.  I used Breyer's natural vanilla bean


Fathers Day Luau

June 19th and the heat of the summer is on!! I love a good themed party and nothing says summer fun like a Tiki/Luau Party!!!! So with a few cute decorations and fun and festive menu I was able to turn my Midwest Home into a Tropical Paradise!  My Dad was in town visiting and we got to have a double family Fathers Day with my Dad, Steve and my two Step Son's! Steven Jr, whom lives with us full-time and Kevin who we get every other weekend. It was a great treat to have all the men in my life at one table!!

Our Tiki menu consisted of:

Pineapple Pulled Pork ( since I did not have a whole pig to roast in the ground, I just used a boring old mainland Crock Pot)

Spicy Coconut Rice

Coconut Fruit Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad and Basic (but oh so yummy!) vinaigrette

Tiki Punch

Blueberry Pork Chops

I am not a big red meat-eater, much to my carnivore boys dismay. So I am always trying to find new and exciting ways to serve up pork and chicken.  I love blueberry lemon muffins, I am not quite sure where I made the leap from muffins to pork chops, but boy am I glad I did!

4 boneless pork chops

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup apple juice divided 1/4 and 1/2 cup

1 cup fresh blueberries and 1 tbs cornstarch

1 tbs fresh grated ginger

juice of 1 lemon and zest of same lemon (it is easier if you zest the lemon before you slice it open to juice it)

1-2 tbs flour and 1-2 tbs butter

Coat the blueberries with the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Salt and Pepper each pork chop add to hot non stick pan over medium high heat. Cook 3 min on each side (more if you are using thicker chops), you want to hear a good sizzle when the meat hits the pan. Carmalzation makes everything yummy. Remove chops and keep warm under foil.

Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the apple juice.  Add the 1 cup blueberries over medium low heat and cook 1 minute.  Add the ginger and the juice from half of the lemon. Be careful not to get the seeds in. Place the pork chops back in the pan add the 1/2 cup apple juice bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Add the flour and butter and cook till juices thicken.

Plate and sprinkle lemon zest on each chop and serve!!  The wilted Spinach and Corn on the cob are great accompaniments to this meal.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

The amounts you use will depend on how many salads you want to make. This was for my Father's Day Luau and I made 6 Salads that day. So you can use as much or as little as you want!

Baby spinach leaves washed drained and pat dried

salt and pepper to taste

feta cheese crumbles (this photo does not show the cheese as my Dad does not like it. It was fathers day after all)

fresh sliced strawberries

fresh blueberries

sliced toasted almonds

In individual salad bowls fill 3/4's of the way with the spinach, salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle the feta cheese, blueberries and sliced strawberries and then top with sliced almonds.  The basic Vinegarette taste fantastic with this!

Basic (but oh so Yummy!) Vinaigrette

This is Cooking 101! Everyone must be able to master this simple but so very important staple. This can be used for green salads, pasta and potato salads, marinades and a basting sauce for grilling.

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbs Dijon Mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1tbs dried oregano

2 tbs Champagne Vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

1/4 cup olive oil

Place in that order in a salad dressing carafe or mixing bowl, shake or whisk till combined. Chill at leat 30 minutes. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Summer Striped Salad

I am a fledgling vegetarian, although I can't quite make the final leap and cut meat out all together I really do try to keep it to a minimum. So all summer long I am looking for fun and tasty salads that will keep me trim and fulfill my two ravenous boys! My husband and my step son, that lives with us, are always starving and want a full meal! I feel like this salad not only is healthy and light but it is also very filling!

1 bag fresh baby spinach washed drained and pat dried

4 baby carrots sliced, 2 Tbs Blue Cheese, 2 roma tomatoes sliced, 2 radishes sliced, 1/2 cucumber cubed, 2 hard-boiled eggs sliced.

1/2 an avocado sliced and 4 turkey bacon strips cooked cooled and chopped.

On a large serving platter place spinach to cover plate, then lay in a vertical lines across the spinach in order of ingredients 1-6 listed.  Salt and Pepper to taste then lay avocado across the top in the center over the tomatoes, and pile bacon on top of avocado. Serve with your favorite dressing or you can make my Basic Vinaigrette

Spicy Coconut Rice

This sweeet and spicy rice is so worth the calories and the extra workout to burn it off! I took a standard rice recipe and jazzed it up for this Polynesian extravaganza!

1 can of coconut milk ( you can use light, the rice just won't be as creamy)

2 cups water

1 cup fat free chicken broth

3 cups risotto rice

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup of spring onions greens only

2 tbs red pepper flakes

zest of 1 lime and juice of the same lime

Combine coconut milk, water, chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add rice and stir. Reduce to a simmer and cover and cook 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through.  In a mixing bowl stir rice, coconut, pepper flakes, and green onions.  Serve with the Pineapple Pulled Pork!

Tiki Punch

1 can frozen pineapple juice concentrate thawed

1/2 liter bottle lemon lime soda (I use Diet)

1/2 carton pineapple-mango-banana juice

Mix together in a pitcher and serve over ice! If you are serving Adults only you can add 1 cup of your favorite rum!!!!

Coconut Fruit Salad

1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 small watermelon balled

1 pineapple cubed

1 can mandarin oranges drained

Layer 1/2 of watermelon, all the pineapple, the other  1 /2 of watermelon and bunch oranges on top. Sprinkle coconut.

Pineapple Pulled Pork

3lb Pork Shoulder trimmed of fat

2 cans crushed pineapple undrained

1 cup Light Soy Sauce

1/4 cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

3 Tbs Sesame Oil, Olive oil to coat pan

Salt and Pepper, and ground Ginger to taste

Sprinkle Salt and Pepper and ground ginger all over pork. Heat Olive Oil in a large Dutch Oven and sear pork till brown on all sides.  Place in Slow Cooker fat side down.  Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on high for 4 hours or untill for tender. When done remove pork let rest 10 min and shred the meat with 2 forks.

To add a festive touch serve in a pie plate and top with the sliced off green of a pineapple!

Blue Cheese BLT Wraps

The amounts you use will depend on how many wraps you want to make. I cook for 3 on a regular basis.

Turkey Bacon

Spinach Tortilla wraps

Avacado Slices, Tomato slices, Fresh baby spinach leaves, Blue Cheese Crumbles.

Truffle Aoli, I found a great one at Williams Sonoma, or you can use regular mayo.

I use Turkey bacon (but you can use streaky bacon if you like.)  Fry bacon in pan and set aside and drain.  On Spinach tortilla wraps spread 1 tbs of Truffle Aoli or Mayo, layout 3 slices of bacon, 2 slices of avocado, 3 spinach leaves, and 2 tomato slices, sprinkle on blue Cheese crumbles. Fold up bottom of wrap and roll in both sides.  Now you have a yummy and healthy sandwich that is perfectly portable for picnic's!
1 Skinny french bread baguette

1 pint Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

1/4 cup sliced green olives with pimento's

3 tbs Balsamic Vinegar

4tbs Olive Oil + drizzle

1/8 cup parmesan cheese (fresh shredded)

6 basil leaves (chiffande cut)

Pre heat oven to 350.  Slice bread 1/2" thick, place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle a few dashes of salt and pepper all over the bread.  Drizzle Olive Oil on the bread and then sprinkle evenly the parmesan cheese.  Bake in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes or untill cheese melts.

Slice tomatoes in 1/2 and 1/4 to make a nice mix of sizes and place in a mixing bowl, add olives, vinegar and olive oil and slat and pepper to taste. Mix till coated. transfer to serving bowl and add basil leaves. Serve with Toasts.

Shakespeare in the Park

This was the 19th anniversary for the Shakespeare Festival in Kansas City, MO.  As we just recently moved here we were not quite sure what to expect.  We went completely unprepared for the World Class Production that unfolded before us.  That was not the only surprize. The culinary picnic's that were spread out around us were quite the sight to behold! I knew that we would be back and that I would be ready to picnic in style!

Not only was the second visit just as rewarding from the performance, the lovely families that were around us were just as entertaining.  Lady Macbeth may have been guilt ridden but we had a wonderful time!

My menu for the event was as follows:

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta and fresh grapes with a Rousanne White wine from Lavender Ridge Vineyards

Blue Cheese BLT Wraps with a Mourvede Red Wine from Lavender Ridge and Strawberry Shortcake.

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