Greek Quinoa

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When I first considered what food to choose for “Q”, the only thing that came to mind at first was “Quail”…. hmm….

Never in my life have I woken up and thought, “Hm, I think I’ll make quail for dinner today.”

Think about your last trip to the supermarket. Did you see quail in the butcher case? Did you even think to look? I didn’t.

That is why, Q is NOT for Quail.

Q is for QUINOA!!!

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Satay Saturday

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There is something about “sticks” that make food more desirable to my munchkins… a boring turkey sandwich becomes exciting and gourmet when I cut it into squares and stick a toothpick into each one. Juice is yummy in a glass, but freeze it on a stick so you can lick it?! SO MUCH BETTER… right? Candy… so fun to eat. Candy on a stick (i.e. A Lollipop)… a special treat. Thus, chicken served right on the skewers it was cooked on… MAGNIFICENT!!

I love when they get excited about their dinner before it enters their little mouths.

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Pork & Nectarine Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

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Summer is in full swing here in Phoenix. You know this when the temperature breaks 115°F… funny enough, a 101°F day is mild and yes, you can tell the difference. In the midst of these weeks of extreme heat we stay inside more often than not, meaning that I can indulge in my official state of “nesting”.

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Pork Tenderloin with Jam Glaze & Habanero “Mojo”

“Mojo” is not a word I use often…

Okay, I never use that word.

But apparently Bobby Flay likes to use it to describe the sauce in this recipe of his…

And let me just say… call it what you like, it’s DELICIOUS!

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Some mashed potatoes and cheesy broccoli on the side and you’ve got a meal!

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A savory take on Jam

At first I dismissed the idea of “J is for Jam” altogether because I thought there would be no “dinner” recipes made with jam…

Only desserts came to mind.

Then I realized that jams would make a FANTASTIC glaze for meats… especially chicken or pork. But more on that in another post.

A “jam” that I definitely did not expect but ended up LOVING is the subject of today’s post: TOMATO Jam!

Throw out any pre-conceived notions that just entered your head… you NEED to try this!

Tomatoes are a fruit after all… why not make jam out of them?

This is amazing on a burger!!! Take a look…

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Pecan-Coated Goat Cheese with Grilled Chicken Salad

It’s no secret that I love goat cheese….

One of the ways I love it best is on a salad with some sort of balsamic dressing. While brainstorming ideas for serving goat cheese on a salad in a new, delicious way, I came across a recipe that encrusted the goat cheese in walnuts and baked it. I loved the idea!!… but the recipe had way too many ingredients to be budget-friendly.

So, I set out again to create my own version that had big flavor but little cost!

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Here’s the RECIPE & a SHOPPING LIST for you.

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The Splurge

GRILLED TUSCAN STEAK WITH FRIED EGG & GOAT CHEESE

I try to keep the recipes I select to under $3.00 per person if possible, but sometimes I feel the need to indulge so this is, by my definition at least, a bit extravagant. Doing E is for Eggs required that I did some sort of steak and egg recipe for my husband’s sake especially… and my own. I’ve been craving steak… good steak… for weeks now. This was just the satisfaction my craving needed! I think I surprised my husband by polishing off the whole steak as fast as he did… I got a good work out cooking the meal after all 🙂

The cost is about $6.50 per person (not ridiculous actually). Once you see it, I think you’ll understand why I splurged…

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C is for Coffee-Molasses Pork Chops

As you may know, I’ve been doing very little blogging lately. The good news is… I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking! Just in time for the holidays I have some yummy recipes for you to try in our “C is for Coffee” line up.

The first recipe is for dinner: Pork Chops!

This is a wonderful recipe because you can throw the pork chops in the marinade the night before! This leaves you with just a few steps to getting the pork chops on the table, and leaves you free to make any sides you might want to make.

For the marinade:

Wait… what is a marinade?

It is liquid that is seasoned with herbs, spices, salt, and/or pepper. Putting meats or other foods in the marinade allows them to absorb the flavor. For some meats a marinade helps to tenderize them. You will see some type of acid (wine, lemon juice, or vinegar) in meat marinade recipes that are intended to tenderize. Our recipe calls for Apple Cider Vinegar (made from fermented Apple Cider). This will help tenderize our pork chops!

You need a gallon-size zip-top bag. I always set mine inside a bowl just in case it leaks. It’s a much smaller mess on your counter or in your fridge when it’s contained in a bowl!

Here’s what you need for the marinade:

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To the gallon bag add 1 cup Strong Coffee (cooled down), 6 oz Molasses by weight (this is about 1/2 cup liquid measured), 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 TBSP Dijon Mustard, 2 Garlic Cloves (minced), 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 6-8 sprigs of Fresh Thyme. The only thing left out of the picture above is the pork chops! If you’re making the full recipe you need 4 bone-in, 1 inch thick pork chops. We only used 2 pork chops to feed our little family and saved the other two in the package for another night. Throw them right into the bag with everything else, seal it up, shake and massage the ingredients around for a bit, and then stick it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight!

Here are the marinade steps: (Just click on the first photo to see the close ups and to click through the slideshow)

When you’re about 20-25 minutes from being ready to grill your pork chops, take them out of the marinade. Put them on a plate to take the chill off. DO NOT pour out the marinade or throw it away! Pour ALL of it into a small saucepan and put it over high heat. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce for about 12-15 minutes. It will be about 1/2 liquid when you are done. Stir it gently every couple of minutes to keep the bottom liquid from burning. After reducing it, REMOVE the sprigs of thyme. Pour this into a ramekin or gravy boat of some kind. You will use it to glaze the pork chops after they cook. You can serve the extra on the side for extra dipping sauce. It would be wonderful drizzled over mashed potatoes if you used them as a side dish for this recipe!

What is “reducing“? In simple terms: boiling a liquid until it becomes a smaller amount of liquid by evaporation. The liquid will thicken and it will heighten the flavors in the liquid. The reduced liquid is called a reduction. So, if you see “white wine reduction sauce” on a menu, you now know the chef reduced white wine (and possibly a few other ingredients) to create that sauce!

It is REALLY important you reduce the marinade before using it to glaze the pork chops. First of all, it will thicken the marinade (making it a better glaze) and it will intensify its flavor. But secondly, it kills any germs left by the raw pork chops that were in the marinade. Don’t skip this step… you risk getting sick! Yuck.

TIP: Allowing food to rest at room temperature before throwing it on a hot grill is a good rule to follow. If you allow it to come closer to room temperature it will cook more evenly and according to recipe times/instructions. Removing food from the fridge about 20 minutes or so before cooking is a good rule of thumb! 🙂

Pre-heat your grill to medium-high (this is about 400 degrees F on a gas grill). You can do this before reducing the marinade to be sure your grill is nice and hot when you’re ready to grill!

The recipe says to cook the pork chops for about  3-4 minutes per side but it took ours a bit longer than 4 minutes. I think 5 1/2 or so… I don’t know if they were a little thicker than the 1 inch that is called for, but they were DEFINITELY not done at 4 minutes! You can test this by using a meat thermometer. The pork chops should be at least 145 degrees F in the center of their thickest part to be considered safe.

When the pork chops are done, put them on a plate and let them rest for about 5 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute and will make the meat more juicy! Nobody likes a dry pork chop.

Brush or drizzle the marinade reduction over the pork chops. Serve some on the side for extra drizzling and dipping!

Here’s the final shot:

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Click here for the official recipe from Alton Brown!

Happy Eating!

B is for Blue Cheese Burgers with Bacon

Another recipe of my own!! Two in one week!

I found several recipes for blue cheese burgers. There were aspects of many of them that I liked but also some that I didn’t like. In the end, since I decidedly wanted to have a burger be part of the ‘Blue Cheese’ saga, I ventured to make a blue cheese burger recipe to call my own.

Click here: Blue Cheese Burgers with Bacon for my recipe. 🙂 …it’s so fun to say that. I love writing recipes. A much more difficult and involved process than I imagined, but I love it all the same.

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B is for Blue Cheese Quesadillas

It seems that the recipes of my own that turn out best are the ones that come from a need to make dinner without making a trip to the grocery store.

I wanted to do a ‘Blue Cheese’ quesadilla recipe, but all the ones I found had a LOT of ingredients and that’s just not in the budget for this month (or most months!) I decided to go for making my own ‘recipe’ again and added blue cheese to the mix. I got some ideas from chefs online: triple decker style instead of just two tortillas and grilling the quesadilla instead of cooking it in the pan. Both of these things are new favorites, and I think we’ll use them in ALL future quesadillas… especially the grilling them part!… SO delicious!

I really LOVE recipes that include a small amount of ingredients and BIG flavor! This recipe does just that. Here is everything you will need:

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Really… that’s it!… That is ALL you need!

The blue cheese is the most expensive item, but if you can find it on sale (I did!)… it’s worth trying.

Here’s my recipe: Blue Cheese Quesadillas

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A is for Apple and Brie Turkey Burgers

Apple & Brie is a classic pairing so I had to find a recipe that meshed the two together.

I also wanted a Bobby Flay recipe… I love his recipes but they usually require a lot of ingredients, so I can’t justify buying all of them for one dinner. I hate having random ingredients sitting in my pantry or spoiling in my fridge that I use for one recipe and then never use again. I spring for this kind of recipe from time to time, but this is not that time… Brie is enough of a “spring” compared to other cheeses anyhow!

Before you start… you can click here for a quick “how-to” on burgers in general. Not all of this applies as this is a turkey burger and not a beef burger but it’s still helpful… especially if you’re new to grilling like me.

This recipe is delicious and simple! (My favorite combination!)

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