Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

One of my favorite Tex-Mex dishes has always been chicken enchiladas in a cheesy sour cream sauce.  This dish was readily available at the Tex-Mexican restaurants that I grew up with in Louisiana, but when I moved to the Denver area, where authentic Mexican food is king, it was almost impossible to find.  I have resorted to making this dish for myself and I have found the perfect alternative to the restaurant version…….this recipe is even better than the restaurant version, in my opinion!  Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making the sour cream sauce yourself instead of using canned cream of whatever……….it’s soooo easy and practically foolproof! 

This recipe was inspired by a recipe for white chicken enchiladas that I found on Plain Chicken – one of my favorite food blogs.  I made a few changes and added a few things to create this dish that I know you will love as much as I do!  I like to use corn tortillas for these enchiladas because corn tortillas are my favorite, but you can use flour tortillas if you like.  I recommend that you try the corn tortilla version at least once. 

This recipe is husband approved……..the only complaint he had was that he wished there was more of the sauce.  I think next time I will double up and make two batches of the sauce to pour over the enchiladas because we like them extra saucy!  The sauce is creamy and cheesy with a little kick of spice from the green chilies and a hint of garlic …….because garlic makes everything better!  Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and you can even sprinkle some chopped jalapenos on top for a little extra spice if you like.  This dish goes well with a side of black beans or some Spanish rice. 

10-12 soft corn tortillas
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, minced
5-6 fresh roasted green chilies (or you can use one 4 oz can diced green chilies)
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves and sour cream for garnish
Pickled jalapeno slices for garnish (optional)

First, prepare the filling for the enchiladas by mixing the chicken together with 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Place 1-2 tbsp of chicken and cheese mixture on each tortilla, roll up and place in the pan with the seam side down. 

Now to make the sauce!  In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the 3 tbsp flour and cook about 1 minute, then stir in the minced garlic at the end.  Slowly add in the broth and whisk until smooth.  Cook a few minutes more, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens.  Remove the sauce from heat and stir in the chilies and sour cream….blend until sour cream is combined into the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top.  Bake uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes and then broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese on top.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mexican Posole

I love Mexican food and anything with Mexican, Latin or Southwestern flavors and spices.  I have learned a lot about authentic Mexican food and Mexican recipes from coworkers and friends from Mexico over the years.  I have worked in schools with a significant Hispanic population (between 60-80%) over my 12 years as a school psychologist in the Denver area. 

I think my love of Mexican food began when I was a teenager and my preacher/evangelist grandfather would take me on mission trips to a small town across the border in Mexico (Piedras Negras) every Summer.  We would eat refried bean tacos for breakfast that the church ladies made and I even got to help out in the tamale making with the ladies down there.  I cherish all of my experiences with those warm and welcoming people! 

I wanted to try making Posole because, although I love Menudo, I have several friends who won’t eat tripe and I wanted to serve something similar to Menudo for get-togethers with friends.  This recipe is a combination of some recipes I came across on the internet and the various tips about cooking Posole that I have learned from my Hispanic friends over the years.  This recipe takes about 2 hours to make, total, but it is well worth the effort and your friends will come back for seconds and thirds!  The making of the pork broth in the beginning of the recipe is a critical step and the flavorful broth totally makes this dish!  I hope you enjoy it!  Cheers!

Ingredients for making the delicious broth:
1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder (I have even used bone-in pork chops or other pork cuts- not lean pork, it needs a little fat on it for flavor!)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for the Posole:
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ white onion chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
1/2 tablespoon salt (be careful with the salt….add salt to your taste)
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 cup canned diced green chilies (or 5-6 diced fresh roasted green chilies)
*Fresh chilies are always better!
4 cups canned white hominy, drained and rinsed
3 -5 cups pork broth, from cooking pork shoulder (I add in some chicken broth if the pork broth doesn’t quite make enough)

First we make our pork broth!  Chop 1 white onion and peel and smash the garlic cloves.   Place the meat in a large saucepan and just cover with lightly salted water.
Add 1/2 chopped onion, the 2 cloves peeled and smashed garlic, pepper, cumin, and oregano.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam that rises, reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes.
Remove meat and broth, reserving the delicious broth.

Saute the remaining ½ chopped onion and garlic in oil until translucent.
Add the remaining spices, stir for a minute.  Cut the reserved pork into 1 inch cubes and add to the pan.  Stir in the canned hominy, pork broth (if there is not enough pork broth, add chicken stock, I like to add it anyway for flavor, about 2 cups, eyeball the amount you like) and green chilies.
Cook at a simmer, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes until the meat and hominy are tender.
If necessary, cook on low for up to an additional 60 minutes until the chilies and onions are well blended into the broth………in my opinion, the longer it simmers, the better it tastes!  Skim the grease off the top of the stew, taste for salt, and serve in soup bowls.

This is a delicious recipe and well worth the effort to make!

Garnishes that are always served with Posole are as follows:
Chopped white onion
Dried Oregano
Lots of lime wedges – squeeze a wedge of lime or two in your individual serving before eating.  Don’t skip this part….the lime imparts a whole new flavor dimension! 
Red pepper flakes for extra heat if you like
Chopped cilantro
Fried corn tortillas or flour tortillas
Louisiana Hot Sauce – as you might have guessed, I add a few dashes of hot sauce to my bowl of Posole.  It’s slightly vinegary flavor is perfect in this!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spicy Asian Wings

In our little corner of the world there is a place called the Piper Inn.  It’s a local biker bar  that has been a neighborhood watering hole for over 50 years and is famous for its Asian hot wings.  I crave them regularly and have always wanted to try to make a copycat version of their wings.  So, I finally tried it and came up with this recipe that is delicious and pretty darn close to the famous wings at the Piper. 

The sauce is tangy and spicy and it has a salty flavor that comes from the oyster sauce.  I just love salt (way too much!) and I love the saltiness in these wings…..they go perfect with an ice cold pitcher of beer! 

The crushed red pepper flakes add the heat and the brown sugar mellows out the oyster and hoisin sauce and brings everything together in perfect harmony.  I hope you try these and enjoy!  Cheers!

Wing Sauce Ingredients
1 teaspoon canola oil
3/4 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
5 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp red pepper flakes (or less if you like it less spicy)
Canola Oil for frying the wings
I fried up about 14 chicken wing pieces total- both wing and drum portions.

First prepare the sauce in a medium sauce pan.  Sauté onions in oil until they are soft and transparent.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir well to combine and bring to boil.  Simmer the sauce on medium low for 15 minutes.

Heat about 3 inches of canola oil in a large heavy sauce pot or use a deep fryer if you have one.  Fry the wing portions in the oil on medium high heat until they are crisp.  I like mine extra crispy, so I leave them in the oil a little longer.  Take the wings out of the fryer and drain on a paper towel. 
Coat wings with the sauce and bake in a glass baking dish for 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Down Home Meat Loaf

Meatloaf is something I loved as a kid.  Oddly enough, I mostly remember eating the school’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans.  I don’t recall my mom ever being a big on making meatloaf for dinner.  The fact that I remember the school lunch meatloaf is also weird because the meatloaf was one of the only edible school lunch meals that they served in public school.  LOL 
Once I started watching the cooking shows and such, I experimented with the more fancy meatloaf recipes and even turkey meatloaf.  Those turned out ok, but I always come back to the good old meatloaf recipe that used to be on the Lipton Onion Soup Mix box.  I was able to find the actual recipe from the Lipton box on the internet and it is so simple and delicious that it is my go-to meatloaf recipe…..always!  I’ll save the more fancy ingredients for other dishes. 

One thing I did learn from watching cooking shows is that ground pork imparts delicious flavor to the meatloaf and the pork  alsoensures that the meatloaf will be super moist and juicy.  So, instead of two pounds of ground beef (as stated in the original recipe) , I combine 1 pound of pork with 1 pound of ground beef.  Serve this meatloaf with some garlic mashed potatoes and some green beans and plenty of ketchup on the side……, this meal really takes me back!  Cheers!


Lipton onion soup mix- 1 pouch 
Eggs 2 
Ketchup (1/2 cup) 
Bread crumbs (1/2 cup) 
Ground beef, (1 lb) 

Ground pork, (1 lb)
More ketchup for topping the meatloaf – about 1 cup…..or more if you like!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
 In a large bowl, beat the eggs. 

 Add the onion soup mix, ketchup and *bread crumbs. Mix well. Add ground beef and pork and mix well.

   *Here’s a tip for making homemade bread crumbs that I learned from a friend: If you don’t have store-bought bread crumbs, you can make your own from day-old bread or even regular sliced wheat or white bread.  If using sliced bread to make bread crumbs, place about 2 slices of bread (for ½ cup bread crumbs) in the toaster or oven and toast well. 

When the bread is toasted and nicely brown, turn off the oven or toaster, but leave the slices in the oven so that they can dry out in the middle.  You want really crusty and dried out bread to make bread crumbs.  After the interior of the bread slices seem nice and dry, crumble the bread into a spice grinder, blender or food chopper and blend.  Voila!  You have home-made bread crumbs!

 Shape the meat mixture into a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.  After 30 minutes, pull out the loaf and spread ketchup over the top according to your preference.  Put the meatloaf back in the oven for 30 minutes more.  After 60 minutes total cooking time, let the meatloaf sit for about 10 minutes and then enjoy! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Beefy Mushroom Stroganoff

I love a good mushroom and beef stroganoff with some egg noodles and a crusty slice of garlic bread. 
After testing out a couple of recipes, I created this recipe of my own with some elements from each of the different recipes.  This recipe is my favorite, with the perfect balance of garlic, beef and fresh ground pepper in a creamy mushroom sauce.  It’s easy and you probably have the ingredients right in your pantry ……….try it for dinner tonight!

If you want to give a go at making egg noodles from scratch, I have provided the link to the Pioneer Woman’s website.  I used the recipe on Pioneer Woman to create my first from-scratch egg noodles.  They need a little tweaking, but overall, the noodles were really good for my first attempt! 
If you are not up for the challenge of homemade egg noodles, just grab a package from the store and boil ‘em up.  It’ll be delicious with the creamy mushroom sauce! 
1 pound thin, boneless Ribeye steak
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
½ cup beef broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 cup milk
Fresh ground pepper and salt
dried Parsely flakes for garnish (optional)
1 (16 oz) package egg noodles

Prepare the Ribeye steak by thinly slicing it on a diagonal angle.  The slices should be about ½ inch in length for best results.  Heat the 2 tsp vegetable oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat and sauté the steak in the oil for about 3 minutes.  Before the steak is fully browned, add the 2 cloves minced garlic and a few grinds of black pepper and salt.  Also, add the sliced mushrooms at this time, turn down the heat a bit and sauté with the other ingredients until soft.  

Now to make the creamy stroganoff sauce!
Move the meat and mushroom mixture to a separate plate while you make the sauce in the same skillet.
To the skillet, add the butter and turn up the heat to medium high.  When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir with a whisk just until the flour is golden in color.  Whisk in the milk with the butter and flour, making sure there are no lumps.  Then, add in the cream of mushroom soup and Worchestershire sauce and whisk until blended.  If you find that the sauce is too thick at this point, simply whisk in a bit more milk until you achieve the desired consistency. 
Now, add the mushroom and meat mixture back into the sauce and stir well to combine.  Taste the sauce at this point and then add in more salt and pepper to your taste preference. 
Serve the sauce over cooked hot egg noodles** with a side of crusty garlic bread and enjoy! 
**A side note about the egg noodles I used in this dish…. I made my first try at making egg noodles from scratch and they turned out pretty good, but I still found them a bit too thick.  I think I need to roll the noodle dough out thinner next time and maybe add a bit of water or something to thin them out.  Interestingly, my husband actually like the heavy, thicker egg noodles a lot!  J
I have provided the link to the recipe that I used for the egg noodles, courtesy of Pioneer Woman, ( but I need to do a couple more tries before I post the entire egg noodle shebang on my blog.  They do make a pretty picture if I do say so myself! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy....with a Kick!

It's Saturday morning after a long week....two 12 hour days at work with parent teacher conferences.  I roll over in bed....don't want to get up this early (it's 8:00.... lol) but the dogs are getting increasingly impatient to be let outside and Juno kitty is in my face purring loudly..... staring at me from his perch on my chest.  I curse the animals under my breath and then I remember.......oh wait!  I bought stuff to make biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast!  Well, now I'm up, with a spring in my step......gotta feed the animals so I can get my biscuits and sausage gravy on!

I grew up in the South where biscuits and gravy is a breakfast staple but, quite frankly, I was never a big fan.  Then one day a friend made me some homemade sausage gravy with Jimmy Dean HOT sausage..... Eureka !  That's the missing element.......some spicy sausage to give that pile of SOS (sh!t on a shingle) some bold flavor. 

I have been making this recipe for breakfast ever since on a regular basis.  It's especially good on a Fall or Winter lazy morning at home with a mimosa or two!  I hope you try it and's really easy so don’t be intimidated.  It goes perfectly with some fluffy scrambled eggs and homemade biscuits!

Sausage Gravy
1 lb Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage (bulk roll)
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
1 cup milk to 1 ½ cup milk (use more milk if you like your gravy thinner)
Salt and pepper to taste

Gravy Preparation –
Place the sausage in a pan over medium heat and cook until browned and no longer pink.  Make sure to break up the sausage as it cooks, breaking it up into crumbles.   After the sausage is browned, push the meat to the side and tip the pan to get all the delicious grease over to the opposite side of the pan so that it can be used to brown the flour.    Once you have the grease on one side and the meat on the other (more or less) place the butter or oil in the pan and turn the heat up to medium high.  Put the flour in the oil when it is hot and brown the flour with a fork or a whisk . 

Turn the heat down to medium and when the flour is a nice golden color, then whisk in the milk until you achieve the desired thickness.   At this point, stir the sausage into the gravy mixture to combine everything.   You can still add more milk if the gravy is too thick…….just whisk it good to keep it nice and smooth.
I like to add lots of fresh ground pepper when the gravy and sausage are all combined and then a little salt until it’s perfect!   

Drop Biscuits

To make 18 biscuits, you will need-
2 cups self-rising flour
½ cup shortening (I used Crisco)
¾ cup milk

I halved the biscuit ingredients and ended up with 7 biscuits.
To make 7 biscuits, you will need –
1 cup self-rising flour
¼ cup shortening
1/3 cup milk

Drop Biscuit Preparation:  
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place the flour and shortening in a large mixing bowl.  Using a pastry blender (pictured), or two knives, cut the shortening into the flour until a coarse meal is formed. 

Stir in the milk just until blended.  Don’t over-stir the mixture…….your biscuits will turn out like tough hockey  Been there, done that!  Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. 

Next, cut a biscuit in half, put it on your plate with some fluffy scrambled eggs and pour the sausage gravy over your biscuit.  Top it all off with a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper!  Cheers!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crockpot Ham and White Bean Soup

 This ham and white bean soup is an adaptation of a recipe I got from my mother-in-law for chicken and white bean soup.  I adapted the recipe for the slow cooker and then added some lovely, smoky ham instead of chicken for a hearty dish of awesomeness!    Ham is one of my favorite meats and I just love the slightly smoky and salty, savory flavors that the ham added to the recipe.   Of course, I had to add a healthy dousing of Louisiana Hot Sauce to my serving…………..ooooooh my, that’s good!!
To make for a faster prep in the morning before work, I chopped all the vegetables the night before and then stored then together in a bowl in the fridge overnight.  Then, the next morning, I just had to dump everything in the crockpot and turn it on!
Make this on a brisk winter day and when you come home, the aroma will carry you straight into your PJ’s and onto the couch with a blanket and a piping hot bowl of this hearty and soul-warming soup!  It’s sure to make a bad day ………or just plain old any day better! 

1 lb dry Great Northern Beans
6 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
2-3 stalks carrots, finely chopped
1 (4 oz. can) diced green chilies, or 4 fresh roasted green chilies, diced and seeded
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, or a combination of black and red pepper blend
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground ginger (powdered)
1 ½ pound ham chunks or 1 meaty ham bone
Ingredients to add at the end of 10 hour cooking time:
1 tsp lime juice
1 cup cream or whole milk
Rinse beans in a colander and set aside.  Place the chicken broth in a 6 quart crockpot and mix in all the spices, salt and pepper to combine.  Next, add in the beans, ham, onion, garlic, bay leaves, celery, carrots and green chilies.  Stir and make sure the liquid just covers all ingredients. 
Place lid on crockpot and cook on low for 10 hours.  When you get home from work all you have is a few more steps and then it’s dinner time! 
Take a handheld potato masher and mash the soup mixture to break up some of the beans and add thickness to the soup.  I like to leave about half of the beans whole so that the soup will be somewhat chunky. 
Add the lime juice and 1 cup of milk or cream to the soup mixture and stir.  Turn the crockpot on high and replace lid, cooking until the mixture is thick enough to your taste.   I only cooked mine about 20 minutes more after adding the milk and lime juice.  That’s just enough time to make some delicious garlic bread (or 45 minutes to make beer bread-* see below) to go on the side!  So delicious and comforting on a cool fall or winter day! 

*When I made this recipe the first time, I made some quick homemade beer bread and man-oh-man was it the perfect compliment to this hearty dish! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Natchitoches Meat Pies

The pies on the left were baked in the oven and the ones on the right were deep fried.
Fried is definitely better! 

Natchitoches (pronounced NACK-uh-dish), Louisiana, located in Northern Louisiana, is the birthplace of Natchitoches Meat Pies.  The original Natchitoches meat pies were created at Lasyone’s restaurant in downtown Natchitoches.  These pies are filled with ground beef, pork, onions and spices and go perfect with a side of Cajun dirty rice! 

They are definitely not health food (as they are deliciously deep fried)………but they are so yummy!  Down South, you can find frozen Natchitoches meat pies in your local supermarket, but here in Denver……..not so much!  So, I tried this recipe from the cookbook: Best of the Best from Louisiana: Selected recipes from Louisiana’s favoritecookbooks.  Although the original meat pies in Natchitoches are hard to beat, this recipe turned out to be a great substitute…….until I can get down there to enjoy the real deal!  Cheers!  I hope you enjoy these!

1 ½ lbs ground beef
1 ½ lbs ground pork
1 cup chopped green onions (tops and bottoms)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse-ground red pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour

Combine ground beef, ground pork, onions and seasonings in large skillet or Dutch oven.  Cook over medium heat, until the meat is just browned and onions are tender.  Sift flour over the meat mixture, stirring until well combined with the meat.  Drain meat in a large colander to remove excess grease.
Allow meat to cool to room temperature.

2 cups self-rising flour
1/3 heaping cup of Crisco, not melted  - Told you they aren't health food.  :)
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup milk

Sift flour and cut shortening into flour.  If you don’t have a pastry cutting tool, you can use two knives and this works fine.  Add beaten egg and milk to the flour.  Form the resulting dough into a ball.  Roll out about 1/3 of the dough at a time on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth.  Cut dough into 5 to 5 ½ inch circles… can use the top of a coffee can or a biscuit cutter.  Cut out the circles for the pies and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. 

Assemble the pies:
Place a heaping tablespoon of meat filling on one side of the pastry round.  Dampen edge of the dough with water and fold the top over the meat.  Crimp edges with a fork dipped in water.  Using a fork, prick each pie twice before cooking. 
Fry ‘em up! :
Fry in deep fat fryer at 350 degrees until golden brown.  I no longer own a deep fat fryer, so I used a large deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of vegetable oil.  These meat pies will freeze beautifully if enclosed in plastic sandwich bags.  When frying frozen meat pies, there is no need to thaw before frying. 
I don't recommend baking these in the oven.  I baked the lighter colored ones pictured on the left and they were nowhere near as good as the fried ones.  So, just do an extra workout and enjoy the deep fried goodness! 
Makes 26-28 (5 to 5 ½ inch pies).

Friday, September 20, 2013

Crockpot Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice was one of my favorite comfort foods growing up in Louisiana.  The red beans simmered for 3-4 hours with the ham (or smoked sausage), onions and spices.  The result was a flavorful and slightly smoky gravy with red beans that is served over white rice and doused with plenty of hot sauce. 

A couple of slices of crusty, warm garlic bread on the side and this dish will make you want to slap yo’ mama….or aunty or grandmammy!  I have also enjoyed this dish with warm flour tortillas when I don’t have garlic bread on hand. LOL

I adapted this recipe for the Crockpot from an original authentic Louisiana recipe from the cookbook: Best of the Best from Louisiana: Selected recipes from Louisiana’s favorite cookbooks.  This recipe is a keeper!  It reminds me of home and it will be a great tailgating/football dish for those brisk days this fall and winter!
2 pounds dried red beans
1 meaty ham bone, or 1 ½ pounds ham chunks (Sliced smoked sausage can also be used instead of ham)
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste
Hot cooked rice for serving
Chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
Thoroughly wash the dried beans in a collander, removing any stems or other foreign matter.  Place in a large Crockpot (mine holds 6 quarts). 
To the beans, add 3 quarts water, ham, onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and about 6-7 dashes of hot sauce.  Be careful not to add too much salt because the ham is already salty (if you are using ham). 
Simmer in the Crockpot on low for 10 hours, until beans are soft and the gravy is thick.

After mine cooked for 10 hours, I added about a cup of chicken broth and turned the Crockpot on high for about 30 minutes because a lot of the water had cooked away and it needed more of a gravy around it.
Served over cooked rice with Tabasco sauce or Louisiana Hot Sauce on the side.  Also, this dish tastes great with some chopped green onions sprinkled on top!  Cheers!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Perfect Prime Rib Roast

Perfect Medium Rare Prime Rib Roast
Who says you have to wait for the holidays to cook up a delicious meat fest ………featuring a perfect medium rare Prime Rib Roast!  A friend asked for my help in cooking a boneless prime rib roast for a get-together this weekend.  It was her first attempt at cooking this cut of meat and I was oh soooo happy to help!  Prime Rib is one of my favorite meats and the process of preparing it for the oven is one of joy and delight.  Follow this recipe for a perfectly moist and tender medium rare rib eye roast every time!  Just make sure you have a good meat thermometer!  Cheers!

6 lb boneless or bone-in prime rib roast.
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Spice Rub
1 tbsp dried rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper (about 1 1/2 teaspoon)
Course ground sea salt or Kosher salt (1 tsp)
It is very important that you allow the roast to come to room temperature to ensure even-cooking. This means leaving it out of the refrigerator for up to two full hours right before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Use a paper towel to pat the roast dry.  Drying off the roast will allow the outside to crisp nicely in the oven. 
Mix all the seasoning rub ingredients in a small bowl, crushing the dried rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper together with the 2 tbsp of softened butter.
Lovingly rub the seasoning rub mixture all over the roast, covering all exposed meat.  This is one of my favorite parts of the prep! 
Place the roast in a heavy metal roasting pan, bone-side down.  If you are using a bone-in roast, the bones will act as a natural rack in the pan.  If you are using a boneless rib roast, place a metal rack in the pan and then place the seasoned roast on top of the rack in the pan.
Start the roast in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees for the rest of the cooking time.  For the 6 lb roast that we used, we cooked it for about 2 hours, checking the temperature with a meat thermometer after the roast had cooked at 325 for about an hour and a half.  I think our roast had to cook a little longer than typical for its size because it was still pretty cold in the center when we put it in the oven. 
 Cooking times will vary depending on size of the roast and desired level of doneness. The following chart gives approximate times for to reach "rare" at various sizes.  The chart that follows and the meat temperature descriptions are taken from the website shown below:

Cooking Time for Rare (120°)

(3) Ribs, 7 to 8 lbs. 15 minutes at 450°, Then 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours at 325°
(4) Ribs, 9 to 10 lbs. 15 minutes at 450°, Then 1 ½ to 2 hours at 325°
(5) Ribs, 11 to 13 lbs. 15 minutes at 450°, Then 2 to 2 ½ hours at 325°
(6) Ribs, 14 to 16 lbs. 15 minutes at 450° Then, 2 ¾ to 3 hours at 325°
(7) Ribs, 16 to 18 lbs. 15 minutes at 450° Then, 3 to 3 ¾ hours at 325°
Use your meat thermometer about a half hour before the expected end of the roasting time. Make sure to insert it in the thickest part of the meat, not touching the fat or bone. When the internal temperature reaches 120°, pull it out of the oven and cover with foil. Let the roast sit for twenty to thirty minutes. It will continue to cook during this time, reaching a temperature of about 125° to 130°. This resting period allows the juices and flavors to permeate the roast.
Rare meats measure in at 120° to 125° with a bright red center that grows slightly pinkish towards the exterior. Medium rare meats measure between 130° to 135° and are characterized by their extremely pink center portion that grows brown towards the exterior. Medium meats reach a temperature of about 140° to 145° have a light pink center, brown outer portions. Medium well is achieved at 150° to 155°. Well done is reached at about 160°

Carve your roast into slices with a good sharp knife and serve with horseradish and mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes.  It’s sooooo delicious and really not as intimidating to cook as it might seem. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicken Breasts in Zesty Tomato Sauce

This is a one-skillet meal perfect for weeknight dinner and it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.  I put this together with ingredients I had on hand one night.  The tomato sauce is slightly spicy with the delicious flavors of thyme, turkey bacon, onion and garlic.  

I love dishes that combine tomato sauce with delicious flavors of Cajun, Spanish and Mexican spices and this dish borrows a little from each of these.  This meal is filled with healthy ingredients so you won’t have to worry about that pesky food guilt lingering around after dinner.  Cheers!

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (depending on how many you are serving)
1 tbsp olive oil to saute chicken breasts

3 turkey bacon slices, cooked
1 tsp olive oil to saute veggies
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
½ cup yellow corn kernels
½ cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Cholula hot sauce (or hot sauce of your choice-adjust amount to your preference of spiciness)

Pound out the chicken breasts to thin them out a bit.  You don’t want them wafer thin, just thin them out so that they will cook faster in the sauce.  Set chicken aside.

Cook turkey bacon in a large skillet according to package directions (this is the same skillet that you are going to use for the chicken and sauce).  Let turkey bacon cool and then crumble it into bits.

In the same skillet used to cook the turkey bacon, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute the chicken breasts in the hot oil - about 2-3 minutes per side or just until browned on the outside.  Set the seared chicken aside on a plate.  

Heat the remaining 1 tsp olive oil in the same pan over medium heat and add the onion and celery to the pan.  Cook the onion and celery until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and thyme to the pan with the onions and celery and cook for two minutes more.  

Add chicken and remaining ingredients to the pan (corn, chicken broth, crumbled turkey bacon, canned tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste).  Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes. 

 Remove lid and increase heat to medium - simmer up to 15 minutes more or until the liquid reduces to your desired thickness.  I like mine to be a little thicker and not so soupy.  

Serve over garlic mashed potatoes, wild rice or couscous for a delicious and healthy weeknight supper!