Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Time Dinner on the Deck

We are having perfect summer time Michigan weather. It is sunny, 76-no humidity-everything is green-flowers are blooming-Pure Michigan! This kind of weather calls for something yummy on the grill as well as vegetables that you don't need to fuss over. Basically, you want dinner to magically appear without ever having to leave the pleasant, breezy surroundings. Earlier in the day, I marinated the chicken, made the salsa and cut up the veggies so when it came for cocktails on the deck--I was pretty well set :-)

Easy Grilled Chicken
Marinate chicken breasts in Italian salad dressing a couple hours before dinner

Preheat grill to hot--season the breasts well and place on grill-turn grill to medium and let them cook with lid down for 5 minutes. Turn them, and cook another 5 minutes--them let them rest for at least 5-10.

Salsa Cruda 
1 box cherry tomatoes, halved
some balsamic
some red wine vinegar
sat and pepper
1 garlic clove smashed and minced
fresh basil slivers

Stir that well and let sit out on the counter for an hour or so. Very tasty over sliced, grilled chicken.

Mixed Veggies Bake
Carrots, Onions, Peppers and Zucchini-cut in chunks and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh herbs (I used rosemary, thyme and oregano). Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 400 for about an hour. Drizzle with Sirracha and some Parmesan before serving.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Moroccan Style Cod with Olives, Lemon and Cauliflower

So, this title either made you salivate or wince. I have found that most people are not really luke- warm about olives OR cauliflower--they're either fans or not. If both make you happy, then read on:

This dish is super good! It's a Bon Appetit recipe that I found because I was searching around for something to do with both cod and cauliflower. I tweaked the recipe a bit in cooking procedure and ingredients mainly because I didn't have exactly what the original recipe included. This dish is unusual. It is a bit quirky and the kind of dish that a certain kind of restaurant might feature. I would be a fan and order it over and over. However, I really like tart, savory fare but that does not appeal to all palates. I served this on a bed of basmati brown rice.
  • 5 cups cauliflower florets
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, divide
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons thym
  • 20 large pimiento-stuffed green olives from jar, halved, plus 1 tablespoon brine
  • 1 pound cod fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup mixed chopped olives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


    • Place cod on plate. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika over fish. Sprinkle 2 minced garlic cloves over; drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Rub into fish on both sides. Cover and chill 1 hour.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower; sauté 2 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin; sauté until cauliflower is crisp-tender and beginning to brown, stirring and adding about 1/2 cup water to keep garlic  from browning too quickly, 4 minutes longer. Add vinegar, sugar, thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Reduce heat to medium-low and add some more water simmer until most of vinegar is absorbed, about 4 or 5 more minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Toss in stuffed olives and 1 tablespoon brine. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Re-heat same skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to skillet and cook until just opaque in center, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Carefully transfer fish to platter. Add lemon juice and mixed olives to skillet and stir 10 seconds; pour over fish. Spoon cauliflower mixture around fish, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Baked Baby Backs

Sometimes you might feel like ribs but you don't want to use your grill. Maybe you just want to put them in the oven and forget about them? Maybe you don't want to use a commercial BBque sauce: maybe you feel like making your own from scratch? If that's you,  then I have a great recipe for you. You put a rub on the ribs and bake for over two hours--then spoon on the sauce for the last 1/2 hour. They are very tender but they are different from your typical barbecued ribs so be advised :-)

-  3 pounds pork ribs
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. paprika
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:1. Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 250F. Combine all spice ingredients together in a small bowl and stir to combine to create the rub.
2. Rub both sides of the ribs with the spice rub and place the ribs on a baking sheet, meat side down and cover with foil.
3. Bake the ribs for about 2 hours. during the last 1/2 hour, remove foil, flip carefully and spoon on barbecue sauce. Bake for 30 more minutes--if you want you can run under the broiler if you want them more browned looking. ( I didn't do that)
4. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice the ribs and serve.

While the ribs are baking you can make your homemade sauce:

- 16 oz tomato sauce
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 5 Tbsp. raw honey
- 1/2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1/2 Tbsp. ground mustard
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Bring just to a boil. 
2. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 1 hour or until thickened to your liking.

I served with baked veggies: eggplant, zucchini, onion and peppers topped with a little mozzarella cheese.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cold Peanut Zoodles with Chicken

Oh, wow, is this good! My DH often sends me recipes from the NYT and I often just ignore them--too much time, too many ingredients-feeling lazy-whatever. However, recently he sent me this recipe and it piqued my interest because I am basically a complete sucker for anything that may involve a peanut sauce. The original recipe called for rice noodles but I had a gigantic zucchini that wanted to be made into noodles and my waistline agreed that would be a good idea. It gave me an excuse to use my cute spiralizer tool, too. This is a bit of work because you need to make a couple sauces and a marinade but after all that is done, it comes together pretty quickly and it is quite delicious. Here are the directions for the original recipe with my changes:



  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  •   2 serrano chiles, sliced thinly


  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 4 Tablespoons peanut butter
    • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  •  Pinch cayenne


  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 4 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  •  teaspoon cayenne
    • 1 large zucchini, spiralized into "noodles"
  • 2 small cucumbers, cut in 1/4-inch half moons
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in thin julienne
    • Small handful basil sprigs
  •  Small handful mint sprigs
  •  Small handful cilantro sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons slivered scallions

Make the dipping sauce: Combine ingredients in a small serving bowl, making sure to dissolve the sugar. Leave to ripen for 15 minutes. Refrigerate any extra and use within a few days.
    Make the peanut dressing: In a blender or small food processor, puree all ingredients to a smooth sauce, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.
      Put the chicken thighs in a zip-lock bag. To make the marinade, puree the garlic, ginger,  fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and cayenne in a blender or small food processor. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Let marinate at least 15 minutes-better if longer like an hour.

          Grill the chicken on stove-top grill pan, or under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Let cool slightly, then chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.
            In a small bowl, dress the cucumbers, carrots with 1 tablespoon dipping sauce. Divide the cooked noodles among 4 bowls. Top each bowl equally with the cucumber mixture and chopped chicken. Spoon 2 teaspoons dipping sauce and 2 tablespoons peanut dressing over each portion. Add the basil, mint and cilantro sprigs, torn or roughly chopped (leave whole if leaves are small). Sprinkle with the scallions.  Pass small bowls of the two sauces.

            Saturday, July 25, 2015

            Steamed Fish and Veggies

            Ok so you've probably heard of cooking food En papillote  which is the fancy French way of saying in parchment paper. Yeah, well, I use parchment paper all the time as a liner for my veggies but I don't often wrap food in it. However, I saw a recipe on  my Splendid Table (NPR) site and I thought what the hell? So it's fish and veggies wrapped in parchment paper and baked and I have to say it was darn good! The recipe called for red snapper but my fish person didn't have it so I used Walleye (which according to my non-fishing eating father) is the best fish known to man. I have to say the dish turned out really nice but it is a subtle dish and as you all know, I like food with fairly strong flavors. I think it was actually very good--sort of almost like something you would get a fancy shmancy restaurant :-)

            Fish and Veggies in Parchment

            1 lb red snapper walleye, trout (cut in half)
            1 small zucchini, sliced thinly
            1 small yellow squash, sliced thinly
            1 medium tomato chopped
            olive oil
            salt and pepper
            white wine springs of fresh thyme
            parchment paper
            fresh basil

            Tear big pieces of parchment. Divide squash between the two papers. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. top with fish fillet, drizzle with white wine, salt and pepper and tomatoes and fresh thyme. Fold the fish up in a nice little package and place on baking sheet. Bake for 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. Open the packages carefully as they will be hot. Transfer to plate, pouring juice over all and adding chopped fresh basil.

            This dish is nice served over couscous or rice since it generates nice juice that you can pour over.

            I also served with peas that I cooked with chopped red pepper and chopped fresh mint--plus about a T of butter.