Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hot Wings!

Here's how I recreate America's favorite bar food--sans deep fryer!  This recipe takes very few ingredients and almost no active time!  Just shake, bake, dunk and enjoy!
  • 3lbs of drummettes
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • cooking spray
  • 1 c. hot sauce (I prefer Frank's Original)
  • 4 tbsp butter

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. 
Place the flour in a gallon sized ziptop bag and, 1 lb at a time, shake the wings in the flour to lightly coat.  Place the wings onto a cookie cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet.  This will probably take two trays.  The wings can be close together; they will shrink as they cook.
Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  Using tongs turn the wings and drop the oven to 400 and bake for another 20 minutes.  Turn your wings one more time and set your timer for 15 more minutes.  Your wings should be golden brown with a crispy exterior. 
While your wings are baking melt the butter in a deep bowl then stir in the hot sauce.
If you like your wings spicier add 1/2 tsp of Cayenne or a few shakes of Tabasco.
When your wings come out of the oven dunk them in the sauce.  Make sure they get a good dunking and are completely covered.
Enjoy the finger licking goodness!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How-To...Blanch Broccoli

This is the first in my "How-To" series.  Once a week we will visit a new kitchen technique.  I will try to keep the techniques seasonal.  So to start us off we're going to learn how to blanch broccoli.  In this particular post I'm talking about broccoli specifically, but this technique will work on most vegetables.


I favor a double handled pan for blanching vegetables.  I usually use a 2 1/2" deep braise pan or my short soup pot.  Any pot that you can boil a few inches of water in will do for this.  I use the double handled pot because they are easier to move than their single handled counterpart. 
As far as hardware goes the rest is very basic.  You'll need a slotted spoon, chef's knife, cutting board and a strainer.


You will obviously need...drumroll please...yes! Broccoli!  I buy mine, in season, at the farmer's market.  The only other ingredient necessary for fantastic blanched broccoli is kosher salt!  Broccoli has such a wonderful sweet, green flavor that it needs no butter, no olive oil, no nothing, to enhance its flavor.

The "How-To"

Bring 2-3" of water to a boil on the stove top.  While you're waiting on this address your broccoli.  I remove all but approximately 1 1/2-2" of stem.  Some people prefer to eat only the florets, leaving almost no stem.  I find that the stem is very tastey though.  Why waste perfectly good vegetation?  Slice the broccoli into bite sized larger than 1/2" on top.
When the water comes to a boil salt the water.  I use about two tbsp of kosher salt for four cups of broccoli.  Add in your broccoli and stir.  Drop the heat to medium high and allow the broccoli to cook for 5-8 minutes.  You want the broccoli to retain its vibrant green color and be yielding to the touch without being mushy.  Al dente is the best term to describe what you're looking for. 
When your broccoli is done strain it and you're ready to enjoy!
Some people like to "shock" the broccoli by submerging it into an ice-bath, but I try to do this last minute so it's warm and ready to go.

Strawberry Vodka Slush

These daiquiri like drinks are full of fruity goodness, bright summery flavor and lack most of the calories of a premixed or bottled drink!  If you want to make these without the vodka simply add water or orange juice in its place.

Makes 2 generous portions.

  • 1 c. crushed ice
  • 2 c. frozen chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 c. cold vodka
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. simple syrup

Blend all the ingredients on high together (likely smoothie or puree on your blender).  If they are too thick add water until the mixture reaches smoothie consistency.  Be sure to taste this because every strawberry is different.  You may need to add some extra simple syrup or a little extra lemon juice to balance out the flavor.

You can garnish this with an umbrella and a brightly colored straw...enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tomato Cucumber Salad, Revisited

Ok, so I realize I haven't yet blogged about the original tomato and cucumber salad, but it's so simple I don't know if it even garners its own post.
(For those of you who have never had it...tomato+cucumber+bottled vinaigrette=tomato cucumber salad.)
Right now I have a plethora of farmer's market vegetables, so I raided the produce drawer and the fruit bowl and created, what I think, is a more interesting version.
While I usually take the time to make a vinaigrette I typically turn to bottled dressing for this just because it comes together so quickly.

  • 1 vine ripe tomato or 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 3 sweet or banana peppers
  • 1 small yellow, red or white onion
  • 1/4 c. bottled or homemade vinaigrette

Cut all your vegetables into like sized 1/2 moon shapes.  When you do this seed the peppers and, if the skin is thick, peel the cucumber.  I choose to squeeze some of the seeds out of the tomato as well (it helps prevent your salad from becoming watery).  Chiffonade the basil.
Mix all the vegetables together and then pour on the dressing!  Voila--in approximately five minutes you've created a healthy, beautiful and filling side dish.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

5 Minute Pie

This weekend I made a 5 minute pie!  I had blind-baked an extra crust earlier in the week and was trying to decide what to do with it when I spotted some bananas that were about to cross into banana bread territory.  I snagged them and made a delicious pie in less than it would have taken me to go to the grocery store.
This isn't fancy, but it hits the spot and is sure to please anyone from one to 100.

  • 1 pre-baked or graham cracker crust
  • 1 package of instant chocolate pudding, prepared to the pie specifications*
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c. whipping cream or  1 1/2 c. prepared whipped topping

Cut the bananas into 1/4" slices, toss them with a squeeze or lemon juice or some fresh fruit preserver.  Layer the pie crust with all but a few of the sliced banana pieces.  Pour the prepared chocolate pudding mix into the crust.
Whip the cream until it is fluffy and holds a stiff peak.  Top the pie with the whipped cream and garnish with the remaining banana pieces.  If you are left with a spare moment you can garnish the pie with a few shavings of chocolate.
Refrigerate the pie until firm.  If you used the instant pudding it will take less than ten minutes for this to set!
**I use the jello instant pudding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

I made these delicious Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops for lunch today and served it with Olive and Tomato Pasta.  That recipe will appear here tomorrow.  If the pork chops won't be served right away place them on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.  If you place them directly onto the cookie sheet they tend to lose that wonder crunchy crust.

Serves 2--can be doubled etc...

  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 c grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. olive or canola oil (I prefer olive oil)

Pound the pork chops to about 1/2" thickness.  I do this between two layers of plastic wrap on a cutting board.  If you don't have a mallet use a heavy pot or pan instead.  In three plates prep your dredging.
Flour on one plate, beaten egg on another.  In the last plate combine the bread crumbs, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Dip the pork chops first in the flour, then in the egg and lastly, into the bread crumb mixture.  Make sure the chops get coated well in each step.

Heat a large frying pan over high-medium or low-high, heat.  Fry the pork chops until they are golden brown on each side.  It should not take more than about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve these with pasta, sauteed veggies or Parmesan Garlic Potatoes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Green Tea Lemonade

Today I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite summer drinks.  For this recipe I use Minute Maid frozen lemon juice instead of fresh squeezed lemon; you can find this product in most grocery store's freezer section next to the frozen juices.  This makes one gallon, which sounds like a lot, but I find it goes quickly.  Feel free to halve, quarter or even double this recipe.

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 8 green tea bags

Bring 2 cups of the water to a simmer, add the cup of sugar and stir until dissolved.  Once the sugar is dissolved take the water off the heat and steep the tea bags according to the boxes directions (typically 3-5 minutes).  Remove the tea bags, be sure to wring them out!
Pour the tea and sugar mixture into a gallon sized jug and add the sugar and the remaining 14 cups of water.  If you want to enjoy this sooner add about 10 cups of water and then add ice to 1 gallon...the tea may be a little stronger, but will dilute as the cubs melt.
Stir well and refrigerate. 
Last step?  Enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

Tonight is vegetable night in our house! I love roasted vegetables of any kind, but I have become particularly fond of roasted cauliflower. This is very refreshing during the summer, but would be equally as comforting and satisfying during the winter months, perhaps with some rendered bacon or crisped prosciutto.

  • 2 c. cauliflower cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4-8 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (for oven preperation)

Pre-heat your grill or oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cauliflower, lemon, salt, pepper (and olive oil if you're using it) and 1/2 the Parmesan cheese together. The ammount of cheese is dependant on how cheesy you like it...I like mine really Parmesany! If you are grilling this put your mixture into a tin foil pouch and seal it up. If you're baking this pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet.

Roast your cauliflower for about 20 minutes, until tender and beginning to caramalize. You can continue to let this carmalize if you will get a little sweeter and the edges will begin to crisp. I wouldn't roast it longer than about 35 minutes though--it started to get a little mushy after that point.

Serve this with the rest of the Parmesan sprinkled over top and as always, enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sloppy Joes--The Original

Sloppy Joes is a meal that comes together quickly with a great depth of flavor. They make great leftovers (they're really better the second day I think) and freeze well too.
This is my classic Sloppy Joe recipe...look for the more upscale version next week.


  • 1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken (chicken is my personal choice)

  • 1 chopped onion

  • 1 chopped green bell pepper

  • 1 clove garlic minced

  • 1 c. tomato sauce

  • 1/2 c. ketchup

  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne

  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


Cook the ground meat until done but not overly brown. Remove the meat. Saute the vegetables until translucent; add the meat back in. Add all other ingredients and stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then back the heat to a simmer. Simmer for at least 10 minutes. If you plan to simmer it for longer than this (it will only get better I assure you) add some water so your Joes don't get too thick. They should be the consistency of a thick chili.
Enjoy your Joes on traditional white hamburger rolls and remember--they're supposed to be sloppy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Roasted Garlic Butter

I use this roasted garlic butter on pasta, bread, pork tenderloin, steaks, chicken, potatoes, fish, shrimp, green beans, asparagus....well come to think of it what wouldn't I put it on?!
It's a wonderfully easy recipe that keeps in the refrigerator and freezes beautifully. I typically make a double batch and freeze the leftovers.

To freeze this put a dollop into each compartment of an ice cube tray and freeze. Once the garlic 'ice cubes' are solid pop them out and put them into a zip top bag. With those puppies in the freezer you have delicious base for sauces, a topping for breads or veggies and the start of a flavorful marinade for meats.
Now for the recipe...


  • 1 head of garlic

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

  • 1 stick of softened butter


Pull your butter from the fridge to soften and then preheat your oven to at least 350. I usually make this while roasting something can be done anywhere from 350-450, the temperature of your oven will determine how long the garlic takes to roast, but won't change the flavor one bit (though I wouldn't reccomend roasting this with your cake or cookies).

Shell your garlic cloves and then combine them with all of the other ingredients except the butter. Place the mixture into a tin foil pouch and close it up.
Roast at 350 for 20-30 minutes (until the garlic is soft, but not too brown) or 15-20 at 450.

Allow the garlic to cool to room tempurature and then, using a fork, mash the garlic into the butter. an active time of about ohhh about 2 minutes you've made yourself something fabulous!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

3 Minute Lemon Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, if you are juicing the lemon fresh include the zest for extra punch

  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced or grated

  • 1/4 of a white onion, minced or grated

  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning (I use Tony's low sodium)

  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp if using a 'salt free' Cajun blend)

  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, close the lid tightly and shake! Store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. This can be used as dressing on salads, pastas, vegetables and as a marinade on meats and seafood. It is incredibly versatile and can be altered by adding fresh or dried herbs.

Spring Pasta

Spring Vegetable and Chicken Pasta
Serves 2


  • 1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2" rounds

  • 1/2 lb asparagus, snap off the end woody portion

  • 1 green onion, diced

  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced (use whatever you can get at your local market)

  • 1 bone-in, split chicken breast (or bone out if it's what you have)*

  • 1/2 lb short cut pasta, I recommend rotini

  • 1-2 tbsp. butter, olive oil or roasted garlic butter, recipe follows

  • 1/2 c. 3 minute lemon vinaigrette, recipe follows

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper


Marinade your chicken (preferably overnight, but an hour will do the trick) with 1/4 c of the vinaigrette in a zip top bag. I typically marinade and grill at least 2 chicken breasts at a time so I can use the leftover chicken on sandwiches, in soup, on other pastas or just as a snack.

Boil pasta and drain. Toss the cooked pasta with the butter or olive oil. If you want you pasta dish served warm boil it while your vegetables are grilling. This pasta is delicious hot, warm, room temperature or cold.

Get your grill hot and start your chicken. If you are using the skin on spilt breasts start them skin side down, turn them after about 5-7 minutes, once the skin has begun to crisp. Cook the chicken until done through and allow to cool. Once it is cool pull or cut into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

While your chicken is grilling get your vegetables ready. Toss the zucchini and asparagus with the remaining vinaigrette and grill. Cook the veggies 2-3 minutes on each side, until tender crisp. Once they are done allow them to cool for 5 minutes and then cut them into bite sized pieces.

Take your pasta and toss with the Parmesan, chicken and grilled and raw vegetables. Season it to taste and serve.