Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation Food

I haven't posted in a while because we've been on vacation for the past week. I had hoped to do more cooking while on vacation, but mostly we ate out.

We stopped at Ra Sushi Bar in Plano and had some amazing sushi and fried shrimp. It was so good it's going to have to become one of my regular stops when I visit Dallas.

We also ate at Gator's, a cajun style restaurant in the West End of downtown Dallas. We had fried pickles for our appetizer, and a fried gator and catfish platter. I can't go to Texas without having some gator!!

We also ate at Pancho's (a Mexican buffet), Primo's (a Tex-Mex restaurant), Wing Stop (the best wings ever, Hawaiian BBQ!) and Jack-In-The-Box, my favorite fast food of all time! my fridge is full of groceries again, and I'm planning this week's meals. Vacation is over, back to the real world where I have to cook my own meals!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

#111 :: Chicken Stiir Fry with Green Beans

Change of pace! We had a little bit of Asian flair this week. Plus, this gave me a chance to use up some of the veggies in the fridge that wouldn't keep while we're on vacation (we leave in 3 days -- excited!!). Even though the recipe only called for green beans, I threw in a carrot, a green pepper and a red pepper.


  • 6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, very thinly sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Asian spice blend
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced (*our addition)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced (*our addition)
  • 1 carrot, stem ends trimmed, cut into 3-inch lengths (*our addition)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (*I don't have this, so I used teriyaki sauce instead)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Chopped green onions, for garnish


In a bowl, combine the chicken, 4 1/2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, and Asian spice blend. Toss to coat and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a large wok or saute pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the chicken and stirring constantly, cook until brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beans (and veggies) and stir-fry until wrinkled, stirring, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 10 seconds. Add the remaining 3 teaspoons of soy sauce, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and serve immediately, over white or basmati rice. Garnish with green onions.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe from Emeril Live on Food Network

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 12, 2010

#110 :: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This had a good flavor, but it wasn't the pineapple upside down cake I imagined when I started baking it. It turned out more like shortcake. It didn't rise and it was very dense. Plus, my springform pan wasn't closed tightly and half of the brown sugar leaked out while baking, so I didn't get that dark brown topping like it should have. It was good (obviously, because we ate it ALL), but it's definitely a different kind of pineapple upside down cake.



  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 6 slices pineapple or 1 can (20 ounces) can of drained pineapple chunks
  • maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (*I used 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup pineapple juice)


In a 9-inch square cake pan, melt butter; sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange pineapple and cherries on sugar, making a design.

Make cake batter: Cream 1/2 cup butter; gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk; beat until smooth, ending with dry ingredients. Pour over pineapple design. Bake at 375° for about 35 minutes. Let cake cool for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.

Makes 6-8 slices

Recipe from SouthernFood.About.Com

Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

#109 :: Gold Medal Chicken Fajitas

When I say I could eat Mexican food every day, that is the absolute truth! Now that I'm learning how to cook Mexican food, we're really in for it! I added a few ingredients to this (which I've noted below) and I changed the cooking method of the peppers (also noted below).

In learning about Mexican food and how to cook it, I've found that you get the best flavor out of most peppers when they're charred instead of sauteed in a skillet. You can char them directly over the fire on your gas stove top, or you can char them in the broiler. Make sure they get black and blistered on all sides, then put them into a large freezer bag. Seal it closed for 15 minutes. This lets the peppers steam and their skins will peel off easier. When they're done steaming, chop off the top with the stem, remove the veins and seeds, and remove any charred skin. When you're done, what you have left is just the soft roasted peppers that are packed with flavor!


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (*I just smashed a clove and included it in the marinade so I wouldn't have little minced pieces of garlic in the fajitas)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (*we added this in)
  • Dash hot sauce (*we substituted hot sauce for 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds meat (boneless, skinless chicken breast, skirt steak or peeled and deveined shrimp)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 poblano peppers (*we added this in)
  • 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 lime, juiced, for topping
  • Sour cream, for topping
  • Salsa, for topping
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, un-cooked, seeded and diced (*we added this in)
  • Guacamole, for topping (*we used sliced avocados instead)
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded, for topping (*we used Monterrey Jack instead)


In a heavy duty resealable plastic bag, combine 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, hot sauce (or cayenne), salt, pepper and your choice of meat. Seal and toss the bag around to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator.

*Cook's Note: 15 minutes for shrimp, 20 minutes for chicken and 1 hour for skirt steak.

Preheat your cast iron servers in a preheated 400 degree F oven for at least 20 minutes, to get a good sizzle when you plate the fajitas.

Char the peppers (instructions above). Once charred, peeled and de-veined, slice the peppers into strips.

Heat the outside grill or a large indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and place it on the hot grill, discard the marinade. Cook chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, skirt steak about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare and about 2 minutes for shrimp. Slice the chicken and steak into strips if you are using.

In a large skillet heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and fry the onions until caramelized. When done, turn off the heat and add the sliced peppers in with the onions to keep warm.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven with the servers for 15 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, remove the cast iron servers from the oven and quickly arrange the meat and peppers and onions on it. It will immediately start to sizzle from their fat and moisture. Serve sizzling immediately with the warm tortillas and other accompaniments.

Makes 8 servings

Recipe from Paula's Party on Food Network

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#108 :: Baked Tilapia

This is a good, quick fix (only 12 minutes!) when you want something light and healthy! We had brown rice on the side. A little plain, even though the fish has good flavor....but perfect when you need dinner PDQ and are avoiding the fast food like we are!


  • Butter cooking spray
  • 4 (6 to 8-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 lime, finely grated zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large cast iron pan with a nonstick butter spray.

Rinse fish and pat dry; place on the prepared baking sheet. Season each fillet with salt, cracked pepper, lime zest and lime juice. Add fish to the pan. Place a pat of butter on each fillet and cook in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe from Paula's Best Dishes on Food Network

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, July 3, 2010

#107 :: Red Potato Salad with Bacon

This is another recipe that I created myself. I looked at so many potato salad recipes, and none of them had everything I was looking for. So again, I chose the things I wanted and created my own. It turned out like a cross between a southern potato salad and a German potato salad.....and it was very good!


  • 6 cups cubed red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 2 ounces bacon (2 or 3 strips)
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper (any color, we used green)
  • 1 ear of grilled sweet corn
  • 1/4 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground pepper


Put the potatoes in a large pot; add water just to cover and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels and finely chop. Add the bacon back to the pan with the onion and cook until the onion is soft. (You can omit this step if you like crunchy raw onions instead - I don't!)

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and bell pepper. Toss in the onions and bacon. Cut the grilled corn off the cob and add the kernels to the potatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the potato mixture, tossing gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate or serve at room temperature.

Makes 4-6 servings

Recipe from Amy

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

#106 :: Memphis Dry Rub Ribs

Jamie works tomorrow, so we had our 4th of July celebration today. We made ribs, Red Potato Salad with Bacon and grilled corn, and as soon as it gets dark we're heading out to see some fireworks. What a delicious meal for the 4th of July! At first I was looking to make a BBQ sauce, but we didn't have any molasses or brown sugar (and several other several key ingredients) so I went for a dry rub instead. Jamie actually said these were the best ribs he ever ate!


  • 2 1/2 pounds pork ribs

For the Rub:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (*we chose to add this, it wasn't in the original recipe)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion salt (*we chose to add this, it wasn't in the original recipe)
  • 25 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat over to 300 degrees F.

Mix the rub ingredients together well in a small bowl.

Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs, then rub the vegetable oil onto the ribs. Pour the rub over the ribs and work the rub fully and evenly into the ribs. Spread the ribs out evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake until tender and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Makes about 13-15 ribs

Recipe from Good Deal with Dave Lieberman on Food Network

Star Rating: 5+ out of 5 stars