Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mussels In Red Sauce

The Ingredients
  • 2 pounds of mussels (frozen or live)
  • 1 small can of tomatoes with chilies
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbls of tomato paste
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
The Recipe
  1. If you bought frozen mussels you can just boil them in the bag they came inside of until they open up. If you are dealing with live mussels then you need to boil them live until they open up.  The whole thing should only take about 10 minutes in boiling water.
  2. On a large deep frying pan saute the onions in the olive oil.  
  3. After a couple of minutes add the garlic.
  4. Let it cook for about 2 minutes then add the wine.  Reduce for a minute.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes with chilies, the tomato paste, and all the seasoning. 
  6. Let everything simmer for about 3 minutes. 
  7. Remove your mussels from the boiling water and add to the sauce.  If you are using the frozen kind pour the mussel juice from the bag into the sauce.  It's full of flavor.  If you boiled live ones, then just add about 1 cup of the boiling water to the sauce.  
  8. Serve with bread, white rice, or by itself.
The Experience

These mussels are the easiest thing to make.  I get mine at Walmart.  It's frozen but it's excellent in taste!  I actually can't tell the difference from eating the recently live ones to these frozen farm raised ones.  You can be very creative with sauces!  I have tried white sauces in the past but I like this one the best.  You can literally eat 15 of these mussels very quickly.  They are inexpensive and make a very beautiful and impressive presentation.  Sometimes I add them to fish dishes as a garnish!  For the Birthday party I made 4 pounds.  Calculate 2 pounds being enough for 2 to 3 people.  Depending how hungry they are.  I usually like to have more than enough.  Running out of food to serve is not a good thing.  Here's a tip... if you have a heating tray use it!  These mussels get cold very quickly while serving.  I will continue to make these but I might get creative with my next sauce!  We'll see!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brazilian Style Chicken Strogonoff

The Ingredients

  • About 20 chicken breast tenderloins 
  • 1 Large red onion
  • 2 tsps of minced garlic
  • 1 large can (28oz) of diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 small can of corn
  • 1 small package of white mushrooms 
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 tbls crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbls of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of parsley
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Hot sauce
  • Potato sticks
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Recipe

  1. Heat large sauce pan on high.
  2. Chop the onion into small pieces.
  3. Once the pan is hot pour some olive oil on the pan and put in the onion.  Mix well and let it cook while you prepare the chicken.
  4. Cut chicken tenderloins into small 1 inch cubes and season them with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  5. Add the minced garlic to the onion and let cook for about a minute.
  6. Place chicken in the pan and mix everything together.  Your goal is to brown the chicken a little bit before adding sauce to it.
  7. On a large deep frying pan add 1 tbls of olive oil, the tomatoes with chili, the wine, and the chicken stock.  Season with more salt, pepper, hot sauce, crushed red peppers, and nutmeg.  Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the ingredients from the deep frying pan into the large sauce pan with the chicken.
  9. Put in the corn, the mushrooms, the raisins, and the ketchup.
  10. Mix everything well and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  11. Add the heavy cream and lower the heat to medium. Do not let it boil. 
  12. Add the parsley and turn off the heat.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then serve it over rice and sprinkle some potato sticks on top.  If you want to make it extra special you can make your own potato chips.
The Experience

I can't believe I now know how to make this dish!  Every Brazilian grows up eating this at least once a month!  It is also very popular with red meat!  Using the tenderloins was a really good idea because they cook so fast.  The whole thing took about 35 minutes to make and it was well worth it.  Some say it's a fattening meal but who's counting calories anyway? lol  Browning the chicken first really added a lot of taste to the strogonoff.  I love heating sauces on another pan because when you do combine everything the cooking process never stops due to cold liquid. Oh, by the way, definitely have some hot sauce with you when you eat this!  This is also a great meal to make when you have lots of company coming over and you don't have the cash nor the time to cook a fancy meal.  It's a total crowd pleaser and it's very fulfilling.  There's not need to serve anything else with this.  Dessert is always welcomed though!  I'm about to go have some of Mirella's internationally famous rice pudding! 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Baby Back Ribs

The Ingredients

  • 2 full racks of baby back ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1 Onion 
  • 1 Cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • Hot sauce

The Recipe
  1. Dry your rib rack with a paper towel.
  2. Mix brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and cumin.
  3. With your hands rub the dry mix all over the ribs. 
  4. Chop the ribs into 3 or 4 pieces so that you can fit them into the slow cooker.
  5. Roughly chop the onion and also place it in the slow cooker on top of the ribs.
  6. Pour 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce over them.  I love Sticky Fingers Sweet Carolina Sauce so that's what I used.
  7. Add your favorite hot sauce.
  8. Close your crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.
  9. Carefully remove ribs from the crock pot and let them rest on a plate.  Leave the fattening liquid behind.
  10. Pour some more bbq sauce over the ribs and serve with whatever sides you like.

The Experience

When I saw these baby back ribs on sale a couple of days ago I knew I was in for a treat!  This was probably my favorite dish so far!  I ate so much!  I could've let the ribs marinade in the bbq sauce for a few hours but since I was cooking them in the crock pot I didn't really see the need for it.  Rubbing them with my dry rub mix was a lot of fun too.  It always seems weird for a Brazilian to put sugar on meat!  The combination of the sweet and hot taste is simply divine.  It only took me about 10 minutes to prep everything and clean up.  The rest was up to my new favorite kitchen tool... the crock pot!  I definitely didn't want to pour the remaining liquid on the ribs so it was good that I had extra sauce.  Who needs the extra fat anyway?  I served these baby backs with roasted steak potatoes!  YUM!!!  Perfect combination!  They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  I will do a post on roasting potatoes in a few days so stay tuned for that one!  Definitely make this at home!  The whole meal cost about $25 to make and was enough for 4 people.  Try getting that deal at a restaurant!  Ribs is one of those foods that you crave every once in a while so now that I can make them myself I'll be craving them a lot more often!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jumbo Stuffed Chicken Quarters

The Ingredients
  • 4 Jumbo chicken quarters
  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • 2 cups of corn meal
  • 1 stick of butter (room temp)
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • 3 Tbls of tomato paste
  • 1/2 package of dry French onion soup
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Adobo
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Chili powder
The Recipe
  1. Preheat Oven to 350
  2. Quickly steam the broccoli, remove and chop into small pieces. 
  3. Season your chicken with adobo. Go for it on the seasoning! 
  4. In a bowl put in the corn meal, butter, 1 Tbls of tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and broccoli. 
  5. Combine all ingredients with your hands.
  6. Clean off some of the fat of the chicken but leave skin intact.  With your fingers go under the skin and create a pocket. 
  7. Little by little insert stuffing into the pocket.  Make sure you have enough for all four chicken quarters.
  8. Brush some olive oil in a large casserole and lay down the chicken skin side up.
  9. Rub the remaining tomato paste on top of the chicken and coat with some olive oil.
  10. Sprinkle dry French Onion soup mix over the skin of each quarter.  
  11. Put in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. 
  12. Brush some of the oil over the chicken before serving.
The Experience

As soon as I saw these jumbo chicken quarters at the supermarket I thought to myself "hum, I can stuff those puppies!" That's exactly what I did!  Now, I could've put some bacon in my stuffing which would've made it amazing but I decided to go the vegetable route.  I already had a bag of frozen broccoli in the freezer so it made sense to me to mix it with the corn meal I had in the pantry.  The important thing is to mix the butter with your stuffing.  This allows the butter to drip down the chicken leaving the meat extremely tender and tasty!Butter is one of the four answers to everything:  Jesus, Chocolate, Butter, and Cheese.  Whenever someone is eating something and they say, "wow, this is so good!  What's in it?" If the answer is not Jesus, Chocolate, or Cheese, then it must be Butter!!!  If you don't have broccoli you can use almost any other vegetable.  Some that I will eventually try include zucchini, okra, spinach, mushrooms, and kale.  All with the same ratio from the recipe above.  Just like all other dishes that require you to get your hands dirty this was extremely fun and easy to make!  Unless you can't stand touching raw chicken meat with bones.  I actually got a kick out of getting under the chicken's skin! LOL  The result was a success!  I served it over some spinach seasoned with lemon and extra virgin olive oil.  I wanted to make some rice and beans but I wanted to balance out the meal with a lighter accompanying side.  My love handles will thank me later!  I will definitely make this again but next time I want to try it with a different vegetable just to see how it will taste.  The chicken was delicious and tender!  If you want to change how you bake your chicken this might be the way to go for you!  Have fun making it and remember to always Season Your Food!                         

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

The Ingredients

  • 3 lbs of beef chuck (stew meat)
  • 6 strips of thick bacon
  • 1 lb of mushroom
  • 2 large golden potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 20 pearl onions
  • 2 tbls of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bay leaf (crumbled)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Flour

The Recipe

  1. If using a big piece of pot roast like I did you need to trim the fat and cut it into 1 inch pieces.  If using pre-cut meat then start with step 2.
  2. Season the flour with salt and pepper then coat the meat pieces (This keeps the meat juicy)
  3. Put pearl onions in really hot water to help remove the skin. 
  4. Fry the bacon then remove it and cut into 1 inch pieces. Place in slow cooker.
  5. Sear the meat in the bacon fat.  About 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the meat and place it in the slow cooker (For 3 lbs of meat you'll need at least a 7qt slow cooker).
  7. Pour about 1/4 cup of the wine into the hot pan and scrape the bottom of the pan to release all the flavors.  Pour into slow cooker straight from the pan.
  8. Chop onions, potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms and put into slow cooker.
  9. Remove skin from pearl onions and insert into slow cooker.
  10. Mince the garlic and put it in the slow cooker along with the thyme, some salt, pepper, and bay leaf. 
  11. Pour the wine and the beef broth.
  12. Cook for 6 hours on high. 

The Experience

It was Valentine's Day and I wanted to make something special for my girls.  I cooked breakfast while I prepared the slow cooker!  That's what's awesome about the crock pot.  You are free to do other things!  I found this way tastier and healthier than the pot roast I made a couple of weeks ago.  The meat was leaner and I trimmed a lot of the fat.  The mushrooms tasted amazing!  I used to buy pre sliced mushrooms but now I will only buy the whole thing and slice them myself.  I left them a little bigger and the result was perfect.  Something else I tried for the first time was pearl onions!  They're sweet and very tasty!  The bourguignon was served with just rice which made it stand out a lot!  It's a very fulfilling meal and great the next day with some fresh rice or even in a hoagie like I had it today!  I loved preparing this dish and I'll be making it again soon!  If you are having guests over this is a perfect dish to serve.  Remember, Season Your Food!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pork Ribs with pepper puree

The Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of spare ribs
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of white wine 
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 peppers (whatever color you have)
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • Hot sauce
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt 

The Recipe

  1. Season your ribs with salt, pepper, paprika, chili pepper, and garlic powder.  Chop ribs into individual pieces.  Pour Orange juice over them and let marinade for a few hours.
  2. Melt butter in large deep frying pan and sear all the ribs on both sides. About  7 minutes.
  3. Chop the onion and the pepper while the ribs sear.
  4. Place some of the ribs on your crock pot or slow cooker then layer the onions and peppers over them.  Place the rest of the ribs on top of the vegetables.
  5. Pour wine on to pan and let it reduce while scraping all the flavors off the bottom of the pan.  
  6. Pour contents from the pan into the crock pot over all the ribs.
  7. Put in the honey, the tomato paste, the ketchup, the hot sauce, the garlic, and the beef broth.
  8. Let cook on high for about 4 hours. 
  9. Once the meat is falling off the bones remove the ribs and set aside.
  10. Pour remaining liquid into blender and blend on low setting until the sauce becomes puree like.
  11. Pour the puree over the ribs.  
The Experience

It was the first time I tried making ribs on the slow cooker.  I had done them on the grill before but this was completely different.  I could've just put the ribs in and poured plenty of good bbq sauce over them but I wanted to use the stuff I had in the fridge and try to create something new.  It was totally worth the experience.  I over did it on the salt a bit but it didn't damage the food at all.  I served it with roasted golden potatoes cut potato chip like but length wise.  Can you say AWESOME?  That's what it was!  Coated them olive oil and seasonings on both sides!  Cooked them in 400 degrees for about 20 minutes!  Perfect!  Next time I'll probably try it with a good pre-made bbq sauce from Sticky Fingers or something but I kinda liked this sauce too! 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Midweek Paella

The Ingredients

  • About 10 Chicken Tenderloins (Cut even thinner)
  • 1/2 Yellow pepper
  • 1/2 Red pepper
  • 1/2 Green pepper
  • 1 Large onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 4 Tbls of sundried Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbls of Capers
  • 2 cups of yellow rice (if using regular white rice then add 1 teaspoon of safron)
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 16oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 4 tsps of tomato paste
  • 2 tbls of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of scallions
  • 1/2 cup of bacon (dried)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Hot sauce
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Limes
  • Adobo
  • Salt 
  • Pepper

The Recipe

  1. Cut chicken tenderloins into even thinner pieces.  Season with Adobe. Then squeeze two limes over them, cover, and let them marinade for a few hours.  
  2. Cook bacon in hot pan.  Remove it, dry in paper towel, and cut into small bite size pieces.  Throw out fat remaining in the pan. 
  3. Boil 2 cups of chicken stock in sauce pan with butter. 
  4. With some olive oil in a large deep frying pan add the onions and the garlic.
  5. After about 2 minutes add the chicken.
  6. After the chicken starts to get golden (5 minutes) add the peppers and the bacon.  
  7. Let everything cook for about 3 minutes then add the wine.
  8. After about a minute add the tomatoes with chili, the tomato paste, and the raw rice. 
  9. Add the boiling chicken stock and season with some salt and pepper, mix and cover.  Cook until rice is somewhat ready checking back a couple of times. It should take about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your rice.  If using regular white rice add the safron in step 6. 
  10. Add the sundried tomatoes, the capers, the cilantro, and the scallions.
  11. Let cook until you reach a desired consistency.  It should be wet but not dripping like soup.  The rice should be cooked through. 

The experience

I love making paella and usually make it with seafood, Portuguese chori├žo, and chicken thighs.  It usually takes me about 3 hours to do all the prep work if I'm cooking for about 8 people.  I wanted the taste of paella but I only wanted to use ingredients I already had and make it a lot quicker!  It took me about 15 minutes to do the prep work including chopping the onions, the scallions, the cilantro,the peppers, and seasoning my chicken.  The actual cooking time took about 25 minutes because I used a great yellow rice!  On my "take forever to make paella with seafood" I use fresh safron which is very intense in flavor.  Once I had my chicken ready and the peppers were smelling the house I saw that this was a very easy way of making paella!  One of the key ingredients in this dish is the tomatoes with chilies. It adds to the final wetness feel and texture of the dish.  I like my food with a kick so I definitely added some hot sauce to it!  I also loved adding capers and sundried tomatoes.  They don't belong in paella but like I said, this was just a midweek throw together kinda thing that actually worked!!!  Now, don't be afraid of throwing raw rice into your large frying pan.  It works! The first time I had to do this it freaked me out but by boiling the chicken stock (or water if you don't have any) first you don't stop the cooking process.  The rice will simmer along with all the other tastes in the pan.  One pan cooking rocks!  Just make sure that nothing is burning and just like with regular rice cooking, if you see that it's drying out and burning just add more water.  The steam will take care of the rest.  Everyone loved this dish!  I made enough for about 5 hungry people.  I will definitely be making some more!  Try it yourself and give me your feedback!  Remember, Season Your Food!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quick and Easy Steak

I got home from the gym this morning pretty much starving and in total need of protein!  I totally had way more than what the pretty plate shows but that's not important right now.  I'm pretty amazed at how quickly this meal came together!  It does help that I have an awesome yellow rice that's already seasoned.  I have mentioned it before that I buy it at BJ's.  Whenever I cook a paella I make my own yellow rice but for quick meals like this the BJ's version is perfect!  I boiled some water and then poured the rice in with a spoon of butter.  This whole thing took 20 minutes!  While the rice was cooking I had Jr, my brother-in-law, go outside and start grilling the steak with just some kosher salt and pepper.  Skirt steak is extremely flavorful but you have to have chimichurri with it!  It's the way Argentinians do it and in my opinion they do it just right!!!  In a small food processor I combined a lime, some cilantro, 3 cloves of garlic, and lots of extra virgin olive oil!  Once I had the consistency I was looking for I seasoned it with some salt and pepper!  The rest was easy!!!  EAT!  I put some down on the plate and laid my steak over it.  Served the rice on the side and ate like there was no tomorrow!  Protein gives you a quicker muscle recovery and let's just say I needed it for lunch today after a very hard Body Pump class!  Look for skirt steak where you shop!  Calculate about half a pound per person. For two hungry dudes make it 3/4 pound!  Try this and you'll love it!  Remember, Season Your Food!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pork Medallions

I had been thinking of how to make pork chops a bit more tasty than usual and I came up with the idea of using panko bread crumbs on them.  Guess what?  They rocked!  This was so tasty and delicious I couldn't stop eating it!  You have to try making this soon!

Preheat the oven to 385 and just dry the 1/2 inch cut pork chops on paper towel and season them right there on the paper.  Then put them in all purpose flour,  bathe them in some beaten eggs with a little bit of water, and then dress them up with the panko breadcrumbs and set them aside to dry.  

While they dry cut your golden potatoes in eights by cutting them half way length wise, then half way again, and then half way again.  Grab a plastic bag and throw them in there!  Then the fun starts when you drench the potatoes with olive oil!  All inside the bag!  Season them with salt, pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning, and crushed red peppers. Mix it well and then drop all your potatoes onto a baking sheet that has been coated with either butter, olive oil, or pam.  It was very easy and quick to make these!  Get your pork chops and sit them on their baking sheet too.  Make sure they're not too tight so they don't build too much moisture and are allowed to become crispy.  Let the pork and potatoes bake for about 30 minutes.  Flip the pork chops half way through and leave the potatoes in a little longer until they are golden and soft on the inside.  
I prepared a cucumber salsa/salad/condiment with some cilantro, one garlic clove, scallions, one small onion, and two cucumbers chopped up.  I then added some extra virgin olive oil and lime juice!  The lime taste of the salad was perfectly well matched with the pork chops and the potatoes! 

This meal was a lot of fun to prepare and even more fun to eat!  I really loved it!  I couldn't stop eating it!  Try this and you will not regret it!  Season Your Food!