Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt sauce

I often wants a bit of a sauce or “dip” to go with grilled chicken. This week I saw a recipe that marinated chicken pieces in a yogurt mixture before grilling them. I decided to use the yogurt as the base for a dip instead. This one came out a fantastic shade of pink.

Roasted Red Pepper Yogurt sauce
Servings: 2 cups
Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. roasted red peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. Za’atar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Process the peppers for 30 seconds in a food processor. Transfer to a sieve and allow to drain for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Return the drain peppers to the food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process for another 30 seconds until well combined.
  3. Taste for flavor and adjust salt if needed.

Notes:
I used jarred roasted peppers in the original recipe however DIY roasted red peppers are pretty easy if you have the peppers on hand.

Mustard Pork Cutlet

I love me a crispy, pan-fried, cutlet. I often do a traditional flour, egg, breadcrumbs coating however I wanted to dry something a bit different. The idea of using mustard to bind the crumbs to the pork popped into my head. Walla, another successful weeknight protein source.

Mustard Pork Cutlet
Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 pork chops, about 4 oz. each and 1/2″ thick
  • 4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a pie plate or rimmed dish. Set aside.
  2. Use a meat pounder to flatten each pork chop to around 1/4″ thick. Season with black pepper and kosher salt on both sides. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Smear each side of the cutlets with about 1/2 tsp. of mustard. Press each side of the cutlet into the breadcrumbs until they are well coated. Coat all 4 cutlets before continuing.
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet until it shimmers. Add 2 cutlets and cook for 4 minutes per side. Check the temperature of the cutlets with an instant read thermometer; 140°F is fully cooked. Transfer to a cooling rack set over some paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Repeat with the other two cutlets.

Slow-cooker Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

Summer cooking is often about trying to not heat up the kitchen any more than necessary. A slow-cooker adds some heat but certainly not as much as the oven. You could even set the slow-cooker up in the basement or garage if you really wanted to keep the heat out of the kitchen.

Slow-cooker Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce
Servings: 8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 10 lb. pork should, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup Alton Brown’s Rub Number Nine, divided
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce

Special Equipment:

Directions:

  1. Rub the pork shoulder all over with 1/4 cup of the dry rub. Place in the slow-cooker. Add the orange juice. Cover and cook for 10 hours.
  2. When the time is up transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. While it rests combine the ketchup, chili sauce, remaining dry rub and 1 cup of the liquid in the slow-cooker in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until sauce reduces to about 1 1/2 cups.
  3. When the pork is cook enough to handle start shredding the meat. I pull a large piece off the shoulder with tongs and then use 2 forks to shred it. Place shredded meat in a large bowl.
  4. When all the meat is shredded ladle about 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/2 cup of liquid from the slow-cooker over the meat. Toss the meat in the sauce and serve.

Notes:
I flipped the pork shoulder every 2 hours in the slow-cooker.

This could be made a day or two in advance. Pull the meat as above and stash the cooled meat in a large zip top bag. Strain the liquid in the slow-cooker and save that separately. To reheat: Place the meat in an oven-safe dish, add a cup of the slow-cooker liquid and cover the dish with foil. Heat in a 200°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Make the barbecue sauce while the pork reheats and toss the heated meat with the sauce when you are ready to serve.

If you are more ambitious, or just plan ahead, you can prep and rub the pork shoulder 24 hours in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge. This will give the sugar and salt in the rub an extended bit of time to do it’s magic in seasoning the meat.

Farro with Pesto, Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper

The idea for this recipe came from one of the recipe mailing lists to which I subscribe. I liked the concept of pesto with farro. I changed up the add-ins and served this warm.

Results were mixed. One person felt it didn’t need the pesto, another adored the pesto. Most just gobbled it up. 🙂

Farro with Pesto, Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups uncooked pearled farro
  • 2 zucchinis (see directions for prep)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and 1/2″ dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 8 oz. prepared basil pesto
  • 4 oz. pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 oz. fresh basil, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a 4-quart sauce pan. Add the salt and bay leaves; stir until salt is dissolved. Add the farro and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes.
  2. While the farro cooks prep the zucchini. Remove the stem end and then cut into quarters lengthwise. Remove the seeds from the center of each quarter and then slice into 1/2″ wedges. Combine with peppers and set aside.
  3. When farro is ready drain it and transfer to a large bowl. Mix the zucchini and pepper mixture into the farro. Gently fold the pesto and half of the pine nuts into the mix.
  4. Just before serving garnish with the remaining pine nuts and fresh basil.

Notes:
Pearled farro will cook faster than the semi-pearled variety, which is what I normally use. My regular brand (Bob’s Red Mill) was out of stock at the local megamart where I normally pick it up. Luckily I found another brand close at hand.

The original recipe that sparked my recipe can be found at campbells.com

Fresh Blueberry Scones

I picked up some fresh blueberries at the megamart and woke Sunday morning with a hankering for scones. Baking with fresh fruit is always a little different from their dried cousins (such as the dried cranberries in these scones), plus I had no heavy cream, so I improvised.

Fresh Blueberry Scones
Servings: 4 (2 scones each)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon (I used Ceylon)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. half and half, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • extra sugar for sprinking before baking

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 9″ round baking dish with parchment and coat the sides of the pan with baking spray.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add the butter to dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender to work the butter into the dry goods. After 3-4 minutes or so the butter should be well cut into the dry goods and the dry goods should look grainy.
  4. Add 3/4 cup half and half and the egg to the dry ingredients. Use a wide rubber spatula to gently mix the dough until it just comes together. A bit of flour in the bowl isn’t a problem.
  5. Add the blueberries and carefully combine them with the dough.
  6. Empty the dough into the prepared pan. Press the dough into a 9″ round circle within the pan. Cut the dough into 8 wedges (I use a bench scraper).
  7. Brush the dough with the remaining half + half and sprinkle generously with sugar.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The scones are done when an instant-read thermometer reads 205°F when inserted.
  9. Move the pan to a cooling rack and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the scones. Place a plate on top of the pan and up-end the pan/plate to remove the scones. Remove the parchment and return the scones to the cooling rack for another 5-10 minutes.
  10. Serve warm, with a bit of butter or jam. Or allow to cool completely and wrap individual scones in a double layer of plastic wrap to keep for 3-5 days.

Notes:
I think baking these in the pan helped them have a slightly better rise than the free form scones I have made. The fresh berries definitely benefited from the extra sugar.

Most scone recipes tell you to blend the butter and dry ingredients until it resembles small peas. No amount of blending has given me that result. When the butter is no longer sticking to your pastry blender feel free to move on to the next step.

Marshmallow Cream Frosting

Some months back I made chocolate whoopie pies following a recipe I found at King Arthur Flour. The cake component was good however the filling was just out of this world. I wondered at the time if it would make a good replacement for my usual cake topping. I gave it a go for my husbands recent birthday and it was delicious. Just enough sweetness to enhance, and not overpower, the cake.

Marshmallow Cream Frosting
Servings: covered a 13″x9″ cake with a bit to spare
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 tsp. table salt dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. tangerine oil

Directions:

  1. Beat the shortening, sugar and Fluff together in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined.
  2. Add the dissolved salt, vanilla and tangerine oil. Mix into the frosting and then beat for 2 minutes on high. Frosting should increase in volume.

Notes:
You can replace the tangerine oil with additional vanilla extract if you don’t have it on hand.

Marshmallow Fluff is a spreadable, white gooey confection, sometimes called marshmallow creme. There are several makers of marshmallow creme but the one I grew up with was simply known as Fluff. You can find Fluff throughout the Northeast, some Midwestern states and California according to manufacturers. If all else fails, there’s always Amazon.

Skillet Asparagus

Healthy Appetite Food Meal Stalk Green Asparagus

My mom’s favorite vegetable is asparagus. Between mother’s day and her May birthday we have plenty of chances to share it with her. I was a bit tired of the usual roasted asparagus we make though so I went for something quicker.

Skillet Asparagus
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 11-15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • zest from a lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. You can either snap the asparagus stalks one at a time or just cut off the bottom 2″ like I do. Rinse the stalks and set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Heat until the butter is melted and add the asparagus. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss the asparagus to coat it in butter and then cover the dish. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover, toss the asparagus and cook for another 2-3 minutes until tender. Transfer asparagus to a platter.
  4. Turn off the heat under the skillet. Add the lemon juice to the skillet and scrap up any browned bits on the button of the skillet. Swirl the browned bits in the lemon juice and pour it over the plated asparagus. Garnish with the lemon zest and serve.

Notes:
Skinny asparagus will cook faster than the thicker ones. Choose a bunch with all similar thicknesses throughout if possible.

Maple-glazed Pork Roast

I’ve made this recipe several times using both pork tenderloin and pork roast. I think I prefer the pork roast; the meat to glaze ratio is higher so the sweetness of the glaze doesn’t overpower the meatiness of the dish.

If you want to make this with a pork tenderloin use 2 x 1 pound tenderloins and cook them for 15 minutes in the oven before checking the temperature.

Maple-glazed Pork Roast
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork roast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp.ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • pinch each of ground cloves and cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. While the oven heats up tie the pork roast in 3-5 places with butcher’s twine to make a more uniform “log” out of it. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Add the oil to a non-stick skillet and heat it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until it starts to smoke. Brown the roast on all sides, starting with the fattiest side, for 2-3 minutes each. Transfer the pork roast to a plate.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and drain off any excess oil. Return the skillet to the burner and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and bring to boil. Cooks for 30 seconds.
  5. Return the roast to skillet and coat on all sides with the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes. The center of the thickest part of the roast should register 140°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  6. Rest the pork for 5 minutes in the skillet and then transfer to the cutting board for an additional 10 minute rest.
  7. Slice into 1/4″ slices, streak with some of the remaining glazes and serve.

Notes:
If you spray your measuring cup with a bit of non-stick spray before adding the maple syrup with will pour our much more easily.

Dark Color, Robust Taste Maple Syrup (formerly know as Grade B Maple Syrup) works very well in this recipe.

Soy-glazed Chicken Thighs

This recipe is brought to you by rainy weather which ruined my plans for grilled chicken. A couple hours in a soy sauce based marinade turned “boring” old chicken thighs into something very flavorful.

Soy-glazed Chicken Thighs
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 4 hours (includes time for marination)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil plus additional oil for browning the thighs
  • 12-16 bonless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

Directions:

  1. In a large measuring cup or bowl combine the first 5 ingredients and whisk them together until combined.
  2. Place the trimmed chicken thighs in a large zip top bag or sealable container. Add the marinade, coating the thighs. Stash in the fridge for a minimum of 2-3 hours, Give the bag/container a shake every hour or so to recoat the thighs.
  3. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 chicken thighs, “skin” side down and brown for 3 minutes. Flip the thighs and brown the second side for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer to a foil lined sheet tray.
  5. Repeat browning of the remaining thighs, heating additional oil as needed.
  6. When all the thighs are browned cover the tray with foil and transfer it to the heated oven for 20-25 minutes. The chicken should register 165&degF on an instant-read thermometer before removing.
  7. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Notes:
A 1-quart measuring cup is ideal for mixing the marinade.

Inspiration provided by the Joy of Cooking cookbook recipe for Deviled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts.

Lemon Shrimp with Garlic Rice

Rummaging through the freezer I came across a bag of peeled, uncooked shrimp waiting for inspiration. After looking through a couple of cookbooks and scavenging the Interwebs I came across a recipe similar to the one below. I made a few modifications and, presto, dinner was served.

Lemony Shrimp with Garlic Rice
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the shrimp)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (unsalted if you can find it)
  • 2 lemons, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and toss to coat with oil. Toast the rice for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover, return to heat and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. While the rice cooks heat the chicken stock, lemon rings and paprika in a non-stick skillet over low heat until it is simmering; about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and swirl it among the shrimp to create a slightly creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve shrimp over a generous helping of garlicky rice.