Braised Eggplant – Greek Style

There were a couple of reasons I was drawn to this recipe. One is I had to use up some of my eggplant, tomatoes and green peppers from my garden, the other is it said it was “Greek style” and my husband and I will be visiting Greece in a few weeks. I figured we maybe we should try to get a glimpse of some of the flavors.
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I honestly had to look up what made this “Greek” as I wasn’t entirely sure. If you did know; bear with me for a few minutes. The spices widely used in Greek food are Oregano yeah that one surprised me too, Cinnamon I am a little nervous about this one as I have never been a fan of it in savory dishes; probably so used to it with sugar and butter I guess I miss the sweet aspect of the cinnamon. Parsley, Mint and black pepper. I am a fan of parsley and pepper; mint not so much. This will be an interesting culinary experience for us. My husband feels the same way about cinnamon and mint so at least we have that!
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I am thinking of writing my blog while I am there but since I won’t be cooking I would only be able to share what I am eating along with pictures instead of sharing a recipe.  If you wouldn’t mind I am game! 

IMG_3072Let’s discuss eggplant just a little. I just started eating it a few years ago and now I grow it in my garden. My first introduction to eggplant was when I worked at our local pizza barn. Lets just say it didn’t look or feel appealing to the teenage me.  I changed my mind when I made eggplant parmesan. The very next year I tried growing it. Oh how I have evolved wink wink!

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style
Directions – preheat oven to 400’F

1 large or a couple small Eggplant
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6 large cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes – I used my own tomatoes and added a small can of tomato sauce
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas – I didn’t have any so I used great northern beans  
Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Dice the eggplant into cubes and place in a colander, sprinkle with some salt and let it sit and drain out some of the bitterness while you chop the rest of the veggies.
IMG_3070In a dutch oven add a little olive oil with the onion, pepper and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, eggplants and beans. Bring to a boil 8-10 minutes and then transfer to the oven for about 40-50 minutes.
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Keep an eye on the liquid so set a timer for 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t too dry. 
If it is add ½ cup of water – or a little of the red wine you are drinking.
IMG_3079.JPGServe alongside some warmed up pita bread if you have some on hand.


Adapted recipe  – the Mediterranean dish

Grilled Skirt or Flank Steak

It has been a crazy week and I haven’t made anything new to share so I thought I would bring back an oldie but a goody.  I have made this several times and it is always a crowd pleaser.  I hope if you haven’t made this recipe yet, it’s time – maybe for the fourth of July bbq?

If you haven’t ever purchase or tried a skirt or flank steak I really think you ought to check them out. I know they look pretty funky and not very appealing to the eye being all rolled up. And they are not as wildly available in stores as all the other yummy looking steaks; but if you do come across one or both of them give them a chance. They are fairly inexpensive, burn up fast and seasoning them is pretty endless.

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Sometimes you can find them in a cryovac bag which is even better. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had taken something out of the freezer for dinner. When I see any of them I tend to throw one or more in my cart they are great to have on hand and I like that I can get to it when I want versus having to cook up whatever I wasn’t able to get to and is going to spoil. Life happens and plans change all the time in my crazy world.

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There are a few tricks to these types of meat though. They are pretty fibrous and they really need to be seasoned well and they are best served medium rare and thin sliced. You also need to let them rest, but every meat is better if you give them time to rest to let the juice stay inside the meat instead of all over your cutting board. Once they have rested; slice them thin at an angle and against the grain for a tender bite. If you slice with the grain you will definitely know it as your jaw will be getting an incredible work out; and I fear you will never buy another one.

Dry Rub – enough for 2 or more Steaks

½ cup sweet Paprika
4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 ½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp chili powder
¼ – ½ cup peanut oil
2 lb Skirt Steak
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 limes

Preheat grill to 450-500’ – cook meat about 2-3 minutes per side

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together; rub steak with peanut oil, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and 4+/- tsp of rub on both sides; place on hot grill turning once. Remove from heat; squeeze fresh lime over meat, let rest for 3-5 minutes. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

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Marinade – enough for 1 Steak

1½ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped scallions
½ cup peeled chopped pear
1½ tbs sesame oil
1½ tbs grated orange zest
2 ½ tbs chopped fresh ginger
8-10 cloves garlic
2 lb Flank Steak

Place first 10 ingredients in a blender. Blend into a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce into a heavy duty Ziploc bag; add steak and marinate for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Preheat grill 450-500’ brush grill with oil; place steak on hot grill 2-3 minutes per side turning once. Remove steak to a platter, cover with foil and let rest 3-5 minutes before serving. Slice meat diagonally against the grain.

Creamy Garlic Chicken

I think I have finally found something I am passionate about. I mean truly passionate about. I love playing golf, I love gardening, I love traveling and exploring; but what gets me really excited is food. It only took me around 20 years to figure out that I get super excited about the experience of and being around food. I mean it has not always been this way trust me but I definitely can see that I have become more excited at the prospect of getting into a restaurant that is impossible to get in, finding a hidden gem by accident and staying for hours,  seeing/meeting a famous chef or even a chef that came in second on Chopped; yeah that really happened.
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My daughter wanted to go to a restaurant the runner up was cooking at in Washington DC; so we were in the city and went for lunch, I mentioned to our waiter we were here only because my daughter saw him on chopped. He said he was cooking out back and then proceeded to tell him without our knowledge. A chef was coming towards us; came to our table and chatted with us, more like me, my daughter was chef shocked and could barely speak. Same thing happened when she came face to face with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on a flight from Japan to the US.
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Last year my daughter and I went to a taping of a radio show featuring ex iron chef Mario Batali, this week I am dragging 9 of my foodie family and friends to a fundraising dinner and I paid extra for my ticket for a meet and greet with Iron Chef Alex Guarnascelli.  I am currently waiting “patiently” to see if my name is pulled to make a reservation to the Lost Kitchen in Freedom ME; which is only taking names via 3×5 index cards mailed in for reservations.  Also a couple of years ago my husband and I along with another couple made a reservation to a restaurant in Montreal Canada that had a 4 month waiting list; which by the way is a 4 hour drive from us. Not to mention I am heading into my fourth year of writing a weekly food blog. I think you get the gist now!

I love that I am sharing my passion with my husband and kids and that they are just as much a foodie as I am. Having dinner together at the table every night together IS important! What my husband said about this dish “knocked it out of the park”

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced or chopped up like I did
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

season chicken with salt and pepper, in a large skillet cook the chicken until cooked through and browned on each side, remove chicken and set aside.
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Add the garlic for and cook for 30 seconds, do not let it brown. add the chicken stock and using a wooden spoon get all the browned bits up off the pan, cook for about 3-4 minutes to almost half of the stock is gone.
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Add the heavy cream, seasoning, cheese and whisk over high heat till it thickens. Add the spinach and tomatoes and bring to a simmer until the spinach wilts.  Add the chicken to the sauce.
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serve over pasta if you want – I served it over linguine and it re-heated beautifully the next day!

Macros – chicken and sauce only
484 Calories 57 g Protein 34 g 23 g Fat 9 g Carbs

Garlic & Herb Compound Butter

By now you should know if you are cooking or just eating for Thanksgiving. I have hosted Thanksgiving at my home for at least the last 13 years straight. We have been as few as 7 to as many as 23. Over the years I have only changed a few things to try to make it easier on me and in return on everyone that comes for dinner.
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I used to make one large bird, now I search for anything 10 lb and under. I feel with even cooking two smaller birds at the same time not only does it take less time in the oven, I find they are much juicier. I use the same roasting pan and they fit perfectly side by side. I can also give away a carcass for someone else to enjoy turkey soup at their house.

I also enlist whoever is around Wednesday night to help peel and dice all the vegetables place them in their pots with water and store them in the cold storage area off the garage till we need them on the stove. This year I ordered fresh rolls, I usually make them but I was my local store and there was a sign up sheet for fresh made rolls from a local bakery and I stood in line long enough; plus it was super easy to just sign my name.  KP would this be considered an impulse buy?  She loves shopping with me and always chuckles at my impulse register buys. They put things by the registers for a reason hmmm!
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This weekend is for finishing up my table center piece, I make new place cards every year so I need to finish those up.

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Before

 

 

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After

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I will toast my ciabatta bread for my sausage stuffing well actually dressing; I don’t stuff my birds. I put apples and onions in mine. And I’ve also made a garlic herb compound butter to cover my turkey’s before putting them in the oven YUM!
img_4732I do have to confess, I was just going to make herb butter, but I double checked with my daughter; should I add garlic? She was like YES we are garlic – she is right we are a little on the obsessed side of garlic so if you are not you don’t HAVE to add it.

Garlic Herb Butter

4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 small bunches of fresh Sage
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Chop them all up fine
3 cloves minced garlic
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You can use just a bowl and elbow grease or bring out your food processor. Cut the butter in pieces add to the bowl of the processor, add the fresh chopped herbs and a little salt and the minced garlic. Pulse till blended.

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It smells amazing – I can’t wait to use it

Now comes a kind of tricky part, placing the butter in the saran wrap so you can roll it into a log. By moving the wrap back and forth it will eventually with a little coercing become a log I promise.  It takes a couple of hours to get to its full flavor and set up. Store it in your fridge till you are ready to prep your bird. Gently loosen the skin of the breast meat on your bird and spread the butter under the skin and all over the skin. 

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving to all of you and thanks for supporting me week after week!

Easy Homemade Ramen Noodle Bowl

For those of you who know how a traditional ramen bowl is made the title might scare you away from trying or even reading this post but I hope you can bring yourself to keep going and I promise you that the recipe alone is worth the couple of minutes it will take you to listen to my little spiel and be rewarded with not only a delicious broth bowl of noodles, it was so easy I will be making it again very soon!

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So my husband has been on a “we need to find a noodle restaurant” kick of late. I’m fairly certain he hasn’t done any research on the subject, and I know I haven’t but I am not opposed to making a noodle bowl. However making a traditional ramen bowl can take many days to make the perfect broth and while I have done it once, yeah only once. I am kind of a instant gratification kind of person and while I have made my fair share of crazy long tedious recipes. They are usually a one and done kind of thing for me. I can appreciate why there are such recipes out there, and again I might even try them, but I much prefer to eat what I am making sometime that day.

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This is also a great way to use up some of those packages of ramen noodles that have been lying around in the pantry, or at least my pantry; minus the salt packet that is included with them of course. But the noodles are wonderful, easy to use and oh so cheap to buy.

 

Dinner for two

2 chicken breasts boneless skinless or whatever kind you have on hand
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Olive Oil or 1 Tbs unsalted butter for browning the chicken

2 tsp sesame oil or vegetable oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 tsp fresh garlic, minced
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs mirin
4 cups chicken stock
1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms or ½ cup fresh

2 large eggs
½ cup scallions, sliced
2 – 3 oz packs dried ramen noodles

Chicken – preheat your oven to 375’ F. season generously both sides of the breast with salt and pepper. Either melt your butter over medium heat or if you are using oil; once hot place chicken skin (unless using skinless) and leave for 3-4 minutes or until it releases from the pan and is nice and browned. Cook on the other side for the same 3-4 minutes and then transfer to the oven to finish cooking through.

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Broth – heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger cooking till soft; without burning. Add the soy sauce, mirin and stir to combine. Cook for another minute or so. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and let it simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. If using dried mushrooms add them now and gently simmer for another 10 minutes. Check for seasonings and add salt to taste.

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Eggs – soft-boiled eggs start with leaving them in the fridge and in a medium sized pot put enough water to cover the eggs; noting that you can reuse the water for the noodles in a bit. Once the water is boiling gently drop the eggs in and boil for 7 minutes, removing to a ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Once you can touch the eggs gentle peel and slice in half

Noodles – in the same pot you used to cook the eggs drop the noodles a boil just till soft; 2-3 minutes. Drain set aside.

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Assembling the bowls – slice the chicken into thin strips. Slice scallions. Divide the noodles and broth between two bowls, place chicken slices and eggs on top of the noodles and sprinkle with fresh scallions.

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Pan-Seared Swordfish Steak w/mixed peppercorn butter

I was recently called out for not having any fish recipes; mentioned were two fish that yes I have never blogged about; one being salmon and I am just not a fan. If anyone wants to share their favorite salmon recipe, I might consider trying it but I make NO promises. I think it is a little too fishy tasting for me. The other fish mentioned was swordfish and I will admit I do make this for my guys as they both love it. I don’t / didn’t really have a “recipe” for it. My husband said to treat it like a steak so I always put my steak standard kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper with a little Adobo seasoning that I just can’t do without. They have never complained that it is the same all the time.

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roasted beet and marcona almond salad on fresh garden greens with a light lemon mustard vinaigrette

I will admit that we love most all seafood but we definitely don’t eat it enough. I have great intention of eating it at least once a week, but I am going to bow out by saying we don’t have a fish market anywhere close, but that is a pretty lame excuse even for me. While I do love fresh fish my local market at least has the white fish I like flash frozen and I do always have some in the freezer and it thaws super quick; though I would prefer fresh.

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So to appease my good friend SF I made swordfish steaks just a little different this time and I thought I would share it with not only him but with all of you.

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Mixed-Peppercorn Butter

1/2 stick of butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mixed peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4  1-inch thick swordfish fillets

Mash together the first 5 ingredients and season with a little kosher salt.

Heat your skillet over medium high heat with the olive oil. Sprinkle swordfish on both sides with Kosher salt and mixed peppercorns. Place in skillet and cook till browned one first side; 3-4 minutes. Turn and cook for another 3-4 minutes till done.

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Transfer swordfish to plates and add the seasoned butter to the same skillet. Cook over medium heat, scrapping up any browned bits, until melted and bubbling. Pour butter sauce over swordfish and serve.

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this was way easier than crushing my own!

Sweet and Spicy Apple Butter Chipotle Chicken Thighs

Yes I still have some apple butter in my fridge! A few weeks ago I made something sweet; apple butter bars; that I hope some of you might have tried making as they were moist, flavorful and delicious!

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When I was looking up recipes to use up the apple butter I hadn’t even considered going the savory route till I found a recipe for chicken thighs and it also asked for 10 cloves of garlic; nothing can go wrong with 10 cloves of garlic. I used to be strictly a boneless skinless chicken breast; now my go to chicken is bone in skin on chicken thighs. They are so versatile, very forgiving and pretty inexpensive. They can stand up to cooking for longer times than chicken breasts, which can dry out if you are distracted or just plain over cook.them. If you are worried about the extra fat being that the skin is still on, you can cook the chicken; get all the flavor from the skin and remove it before you eat it.

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With a little planning you could make this a weeknight dinner. Don’t stop reading here just yet. The only reasons I say a little planning is; you’ll want to marinate the chicken for at least 3 hours. So you could make the marinade and place the chicken in it overnight you won’t be disappointed.

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Sweet and Spicy Apple Butter Chipotle Chicken Thighs

8 chicken thighs
3-5 Chipotles adobo sauce, chopped (use your discretion with the heat tolerance)
1 medium yellow onion, rough chopped
10 Garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
¾ cup apple butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mince the garlic, chop the chipotles, and rough chop the onion.
Combine the garlic, chipotles, onion, worcestershire and apple butter in a ziploc bag.
Put the chicken in the bag and squish it around so the chicken is completely covered.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, OK overnight

Preheat oven to 425’
Line a 9×13 dish with foil, spray it with nonstick spray.
Place the thighs skin side up and cover them with the marinade
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the internal temp is 165’ F
Allow chicken to rest for 5-6 minutes for best results

 

Recipe adapted from http://asouthernfairytale.com/2010/