Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

I'm sorry that I have been MIA for the last couple of posts.  I was sick and not feeling well enough to write for a few days.  The good news is, during that time, something wonderful has happened here!  Come closer and I'll tell you what it is.  Closer.  Spring has finally arrived!  Sorry for the secrecy and hushed tones, but Springtime is a shy and elusive creature and I didn't want to scare her away.  She had teased us a few days here and there, making us think that Winter was done, only to run and hide when said Winter bullied it's way back in.  But, there's no denying the warmer temps of the past few days, which has successfully melted most of the snow.

It's amazing the difference this moderate weather has on my mood.  Springtime makes me happy.  I'll put up with the sloppy, muddy roads and driveways for the renewal it brings.  Green grass growing, flowers poking their heads from the earth, leaves sprouting on trees and birds singing their joyous tunes.  Everyone thankful for this wondrous time of year.

And, let's not forget another of my favorite things that Sprintime brings - grilling!  At the first hint of warmer weather, I dust off my barbecue grill and get ready for the next few months of cooking anything and everything on it.  Brace yourself, there will probably be a lot of recipes revolving around the grill popping up on the blog. 

The timing of today's recipe was perfect with the weather.  I have been seeing honey chipotle barbecue sauce on a lot of menus lately, and wanted to throw my hat in the ring.  I have a recipe for a Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, which is my husband's favorite and my go-to sauce, but I am really digging the whole "sweet meets spicy" concept.  With the sun shining brightly, I whipped up a large batch of sauce and prepared the grill.  My husband wanted burgers, so I made those, happily slapping some of the honey chipotle goodness on top.  They.  Were.  Awesome!  Partly because we were in withdrawal for anything on the grill, but the sauce did play a huge role, as well.

Now, I made my sauce at a medium spice level, but it can easily be adjusted to your individual preferences by adding or subtracting some chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.  Although, you can't leave the chipotle peppers out altogether.  I created this recipe around them paired with honey.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

2 - 15 Oz. cans tomato sauce
1 - 12 Oz. can tomato paste
1 Cup chicken broth
1/3 Cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Cups honey
1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Cup good whiskey (I used Pendleton)
1/2 Cup molasses
1/2 Cup brown sugar
2 Tbsps. liquid smoke
2 Chipotle peppers, diced
2 Tsps. adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. dried onions
1 Tbsp. Lawry's seasoning salt
1 Tsp. black pepper
2 Tsps. onion powder
2 Tsps. garlic powder
2 Tsps. cumin
1 Tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 Tsp. Chili powder

Add all ingredients in a large pot. 

Whisk together, until thoroughly combined.  Bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Now it's gone from that bright red to a beautiful dark rust.  Perfect!

It makes a large batch, about 2 quarts, but it will last in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, as long as it's in an airtight container.

Add to burgers, ribs, chicken, pork chops - anything your little heart desires!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Coffee Creamer

One of the nice things about my new job is that I am able to work from home when my children are sick.  That's a huge plus, considering my son seems to get strep every time he HEARS that someone else has it.  Although, this time it was my daughter who was the culprit, which is really unusual.  Thankfully, I had my trusty laptop and was ready to get to business, with one little problem.  I have suddenly become a java junkie.  I need a minimum of 2 cups of good, strong coffee in the morning just to get my brain jump-started, but creamer is a must.  I normally have some at home, but last week I ran out at work and didn't want to make a special trip to the grocery store so I borrowed from Peter to pay Paul.  This was not good!  MUST HAVE COFFEE!

I thought about making the salted caramel creamer, but have really been in a peppermint patty kick lately.  Hmmmm, let me think about this for a second.  Yes, I think I can make something like that.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
1/8 Cup cocoa
1 Cup fat-free half and half
1/8 Cup sugar
1 Tsp. peppermint extract

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, and add cocoa.

Whisk in half and half and sugar.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until it has heated through and sugar has dissolved.

Add peppermint extract and stir well to combine.

Use immediately or refrigerate for 2-3 days, stirring well before each use.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekend Cooking Tip

When deep-frying, use a wooden skewer or chopstick to dip in the oil.  If bubbles form immediately around it, the oil is hot enough.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sunny Morning Lemon Muffins

Sunday morning was the beginning of yet another snow storm here.  So, how did I respond to that?  Well, I made these Sunny Morning Lemon Muffins and proceeded to run headlong into my delusion that the sun was shining upon a green lawn bordered by tulips.  Hey, if I'm going to be delusional, I'm going to make it good!

Did it work?  Not so much.  They were wonderful, lemony muffins but didn't contain any magical properties that made it Springtime while we were eating them.  Pity.  I could have made a fortune.

What these muffins did do, however, was taste fabulous.  They were good fresh out of the oven, but even better when they had cooled down and the flavor been allowed to deepen.  I caught my husband, who is not a huge lemon fan, snagging them every time he walked by the container.  That's how good they are.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Cups sugar
3 Eggs
1 Tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups sour cream
1/2 Cup lemon curd (which can be found in the jelly and preserve section of your grocery store)
1/4 Cup lemon juice
3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tsp. baking soda
1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1/2 Tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar together, until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add vanilla, sour cream, lemon curd and lemon juice; mixing well.

Add dry ingredients.  Start by mixing on low, scraping the sides of the bowl, and gradually increasing the speed to medium until thoroughly combined.

Spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray and spoon batter in.  Fill only 2/3 full ( I got carried away and they were hard to get out of the pan without the top coming off).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Be careful not to overcook, making them dry.  If you are making mini muffins, bake 12-15 minutes.

While they are baking, make a lemon drizzle.

Whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp. lemon curd and 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Make sure that there are no lumps, and it's nice and smooth.

Once muffins are done, let them cool for about a minute before loosening them with a knife and taking out of the pan.

Place on wax paper and drizzle your glaze over the top.

You can eat right away, but I really preferred them cold.


I meant to say this when I originally posted, but this recipe makes a large batch.  As in 2 1/2 dozen regular size, which is good because they still don't last long enough, at least not in my house. **

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Let us be thankful.......

Because I just can't wrap my brain around the events at the Boston Marathon, I can't bring myself to post a recipe tonight.  I just don't have it in me to write a flip little story when all I can think of are the victims.  My heart breaks for those who lost their lives, the survivors and the ones who witnessed the horror.  I hope that they are able to find some kind of peace in the days and weeks to follow.  I send a heartfelt thank you out to all of those who rushed to help, whether professional or bystander.  And, after all of this, I am left, both, humbled and thankful that I am able to hold my loved ones close tonight.

Let the flame of peace and remembrance burn brightly and never be extinguished.

(A regular recipe post will follow on Thursday.)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekend Cooking Tip

It's important to let a roast -- beef, pork, lamb or poultry -- sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon, much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Curried Chicken Salad

Just in case you weren't aware of this, it's April 11th.  Why am I mentioning that?  Well, because this is what I woke up to today:

I was out of town for a 2 day seminar, but still in North Dakota, and walked out of my hotel to this!  Mother Nature is a cruel woman with a sick sense of humor.  Did I mention that Mother Nature and I are not friends?  I do NOT love her.  (Okay, that was an inside joke.  When one of my nieces was about 3, she went through the "I hate this and I hate that" stage.  Finally, her parents told her she couldn't say the word "hate" anymore.  So, clever thing that she is, she started saying, "I do NOT love this!"

So, I am still resorting to preparing foods that make me think of Spring, in one way or another.  I'm not sure what it is about the Curried Chicken Salad that does that, but I never make it during the winter.  Maybe it's the yellow of the curry that makes me think of that big, ole beautiful sun.  Who knows, but suddenly today, I absolutely had to have this sandwich!

Here's your Cast of Characters for the dressing.

2 Cups mayo
1/4 Cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tsp, each, Lawry's seasoning blend, turmeric and McCormick Perfect Pinch Asian blend (optional)
1/2 Tsp. black pepper
1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to combine.

Now, your Cast of Characters for the salad.

5 1/2 Cups shredded chicken breast (about 3 large, boneless, skinless breasts)
2 Stalks of celery, diced
1/2 Tart apple, diced (I used a Pink Lady)
1 Cup pecan pieces (or for a slightly different flavor, try chopped cashews)
1/3 Cup dried cranberries
Large croissants

In a large mixing bowl, add chicken, celery, apple, pecans and cranberries.  This picture shows you how small you need to chop the celery and apple.

Mix in dressing, making sure to stir well and get all chicken pieces covered.

Taste, and adjust seasonings, as needed.  For a little more heat, add another pinch of cayenne.

Serve on warm croissants.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Creamed Leeks

Well, Spring has still not shown it's beautiful face here in my part of the world, so I am resorting to making things that remind me of Spring.  Creamed leeks just happen to be one of those things.  Something about their long, green stems atop the pearly, white bottoms make me think of sunny days and 70 degree temperatures.  Leeks are like green onions on steriods, all fat around the middle, but milder in flavor.  They make me happy, and my favorite way to serve them is creamed.  Best of all, it takes so very few ingredients and little time to make this wonderfully tasty dish.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Large leeks
1 Cup chicken broth
1 Cup heavy cream
1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded (Parmesan can be substituted)
1 Teaspoon, each, Lawry's seasoning salt and McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic & Herb blend
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)

Fill your sink half full of cool water and soak the leeks for about 5 minutes, to wash out any remaining dirt and grit.

Cut the ends off and remove the outermost leaf. 

Cut the leeks into 1/2" medallions, going up halfway into the greens.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and saute the leeks for 5 minutes, on medium heat.

Add broth, turn to medium-high heat, cover and cook for another 5 minutes.

Turn back down to medium heat.  Add cream and all seasonings except nutmeg.

Allow to simmer and cook down for another 3-5 minutes, until it starts to thicken up.

Add cheese and nutmeg, stirring to incorporate them.  Turn to low and let simmer for another minute or so, until cheese is melted and leeks are heated through.

Serve immediately while piping hot.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Weekend Cooking Tip

For a twist on the traditional green bean casserole, use cream of chicken soup instead of cream of mushroom and add bacon pieces and shredded cheddar cheese.

I have to admit, this came from the wife of one of my husband's cousins, at Easter.  I have always put shredded cheddar in my casserole, but the addition of the bacon and cream of chicken puts it over the top.  It was the best green bean casserole I have ever eaten.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gruyere and Pancetta Quiche

I wish modern technology allowed you to smell the aromas that are wafting through my house right now.  Crisped pancetta and sauteed shallots, pie crust baking and ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness!  From 10 o'clock this morning, I knew what I was making for supper - quiche!  And, more specifically quiche with Gruyere cheese, which is one of my very favorite cheeses.  However, I don't use it a lot because it's a little expensive, and sometimes hard to come by here.  It's my occasional splurge, which makes it all the more special.

The problem with quiche is that it starts smelling wonderful almost immediately, but you have about 45 minutes before it's ready to eat!  I'm not going to complain, though, because it's definitely worth the wait. 

With this recipe, I love the how well the ingredients work together.  I admit, I've never paired pancetta with Gruyere before, but they compliment each other beautifully so this won't be the last time.  Both have such a rich flavor with a depth that is enhanced by the shallots and green onions.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

1 Deep dish pie crust
3 Slices pancetta, cut 1/4" thick
3 Cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
1 Bunch green onions
1 Large shallot
1 Cup heavy cream
6 Eggs
3/4 Tsp. Lawry's seasoning salt
1/2 Tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tsp., each, Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb blend and McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic & Herb blend

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut pancetta into bite-size pieces.

Swirl a saute pan with a little olive oil and heat to medium-high heat.  Add pancetta, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, dice the shallots and add to the pancetta.  Make sure to stir often so they don't burn.

Next, chop the green onions and set aside for now.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, cream and seasonings.

Once pancetta has crisped and shallots browned, remove from heat.

Toss green onions in and place 2/3 in bottom of pie crust.

Place 2 cups of the Gruyere evenly over the top.

Pour egg mixture evenly over the cheese.

Sprinkle remaining pancetta mixture on top.

Place on cookie sheet to prevent possible spillovers in the oven.  Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The cream really helped it puff up!  Carefully arrange remaining 1 cup of cheese on top.

Broil on high for 1 - 2 minutes, or until cheese is nicely melted.

Let the quiche rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.