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Category Archives: Spices

Summer Barbecue Condiment Recipes – Bon Appétit

Summer Barbecue Condiment Recipes – Bon Appétit.

Store-bought condiments can be great and are simple if you are doing a lot of grilling in the summer, but there is nothing quite like having your own homemade ketchup, mustard, mayo, salsa or other condiment. You get to control the ingredients, the freshness and the taste to get just the perfect addition to any meal. Bon Appetit has put together 27 condiment recipes for all of your grilling and summer barbecue parties, dinners, and meals. Check it out!

 

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Island Flavor with Jerk Pork tenderloin with Spinach and Pineapple Salad

Even though the weather has taken a decidedly chillier turn in the last few days here even though it is spring, I had been in the mood for something a little more tropical, at least as far as dinner. I have actually picked up a bunch of different pieces of pork over the last few days as they were having a sale so I was able to get pork tenderloin, a pork loin roast and some center cut pork chops at a really good price so I wanted to make something that would be a little spicy a different from what we usually have when it comes to pork tenderloin. I had recently seen a recipe in Cook’s Country for a jerk pork tenderloin with arugula and pineapple salad. The recipe sounded quite delicious and the ingredients for pretty basic, though I did not have any arugula in the house but I did happen to have some spinach on hand that I could use as a replacement. So I set about making this recipe for dinner so that we could have a little bit of a Caribbean flair even though it was only 45° outside.

Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Pineapple Salad

2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed

3 tablespoons jerk seasoning

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups 1/2-inch pineapple pieces

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup orange juice

Pinch cayenne pepper

2 ounces (2 cups) baby spinach

Salt and pepper

Adjust and oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450°. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the pork tenderloins dry with paper towels and season them with 2 tablespoons of the jerk seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Cook the pork tenderloins until they are browned on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pork tenderloins to the prepared wire rack. Roast the pork until the meat registers 140° on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloins, about 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer the pork tenderloins to a carving board, tent them loosely with aluminum foil, and allow them to rest for 5 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the now-empty skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the pineapple pieces, red onion, orange juice, cayenne pepper, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of the jerk seasoning and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the onion is just softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the baby spinach. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the pork tenderloins, transfer the slices to a platter, and top the pork with the pineapple mixture.

This is another great simple recipe from Cook’s Country that you can have completed in under 30 minutes and with just a few ingredients. The pork had great spice flavor from the jerk seasoning and you can use any seasoning you like to flavor the pork. Personally, I used the Island Jerk Rub that is from Pepper Mary and it had just the right amounts of spice to it and some great heat and it also helped to make a really good crust on the outside of the pork. I really enjoyed the mix of the pineapple with the arugula and it made a nice touch on top of the pork. The sauce that was created from the pineapple and the orange juice was not overly sweet and thickened to a nice consistency. In my opinion, pineapple goes really well with pork so it made a perfect addition to the dish. I think the spinach worked out just as well as the arugula might have and Sean actually enjoyed having the spinach they are instead of the peppery flavor that arugula often has. It is certainly a recipe worth remembering if you want a nice, spicy dish that you can make quickly during the week.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, and enjoy your meal!spinschandpineapplesalad jerkporktenderloin

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Salad, Spices

 

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A Perfect Play on a One Pot Meal – Cook’s Country One-Pan Pork Chop Dinner

One pot meals are the dream of any busy home cook. You love to have a meal that tastes great, gets everything together in one dish and has easy clean up and cooking time. it may not always be as easy as it sounds and I am always on the lookout for different variations on the one pot meal. It is not often you see one involving pork that doesn’t involve a stir fry, so when I saw this recipe listed in the latest issue of Cook’s Country I was intrigued. It roasts the vegetables and the pork chops together, not something you often see because pork chops, even really think ones, do not take the same amount of time to roast as most of your vegetables do. I was wondering just how the chops would get nicely browned without doing them on the stovetop and still have everything roasted together in one pan.

One-Pan Pork Chop Dinner

4 (10-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick, trimmed

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths, thick ends quartered lengthwise

1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

10 garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 small shallot, minced

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon sugar

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and rub each chop with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Combine 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, the paprika and the coriander together in a small bowl. Season the pork chops all over with the spice mixture and set the pork chops aside.

Toss the potatoes, carrots, fennel, garlic cloves, rosemary, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper together in a large bowl until the vegetables are well coated. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables until they are just tender, about 25 minutes.

Carefully place the pork chop on top of the vegetables and return the baking sheet to the oven. Roast the pork chops until they register 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork chops and the vegetables are fully tender, about 10 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the roasting process.

Meanwhile, combine the parsley, shallot, red wine vinegar, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil together in a bowl.Transfer the vegetables and the pork chops to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette before serving.

The chops and the vegetables both were nicely browned and had great flavor. the spice run on the chops really helped them to brown nicely and provide just the flavor they needed for the dish and roasting the pork chops on top of the vegetables added some extra flavor to the veggies as well. Since the vegetables were nice and hot when I added the pork they helped to cook the pork nicely as well. The vinaigrette was a nice finish to the dish but I think it tasted great without it as well and we just passed the vinaigrette on the side for those that might want it on their meal. I love roasted carrots and throw in the potatoes, garlic and fennel (I added an onion too to the dish; who doesn’t love roasted onion?)and the flavors were phenomenal. Best of all, of course is that there was only one pan to clean up when dinner was done. It makes for a great weeknight meal in one dish that you can do in under 45 minutes.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Best Chicken Wing Recipes : Buffalo, Honey & More : Cooking Channel

Best Chicken Wing Recipes : Buffalo, Honey & More : Cooking Channel.

It’s Sunday and you know what that means! Fall and Football season means tailgates and get-togethers at home or out at the stadium or a friend’s home to watch the games, so you naturally need some great snacks to go along with the game. I love chicken wings and they are perfect for any party, especially when watching the game. Cooking Channel has put together 21 great chicken wing recipes for you so you can choose from all types and flavors and sauces to suit your wants and needs. Check it out!

 

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Dine in Central America with Ariran Guisou (Chicken Stew)

Finding new and different things to do with the chicken is always an adventure because you can come across so many great recipes from different cultures around the world that you may never have thought of even trying before. Since I buy a lot of whole chickens and chicken pieces, I always want to try new and interesting ways of cooking chicken that are going to bring new flavors to the table. I found this recipe for ariran guisou, a dish from Honduras that is a chicken stew, on the Saveur website and it had a great mix of spices and flavors and seemed very easy to make, so I knew I had to give it a try.

Ariran Guisou (Chicken Stew)

2 pounds skinless chicken legs and thighs

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dry mustard powder

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, sliced

Kosher salt, to taste

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced

1 cup chicken stock

Combine the chicken legs and thighs, the lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, mustard powder, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, garlic, onion and kosher salt in a large bowl. Mix all of the ingredients well to coat the chicken. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Heat the vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning the pieces once, until the chicken is browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside. Add the onions from the marinade and the bell pepper to the skillet. Cook until the onions and peppers are soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved chicken and any accumulated juices back into the skillet along with the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the skillet and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through and the pieces run clear when pricked with a fork, about 15 to 18 minutes.

What you end up with is an incredibly flavorful chicken that is tender and tasty. The marinade for the chicken is great and you get the wonderful spiciness of the cumin and the turmeric along with a delightfully sweet flavor as well and the lime juice just adds the right amount of tarn flavor and aroma to the overall dish. We all really liked it and I served this with some white rice and the resulting sauce of the chicken went really well with the rice. Once the chicken is marinated, the whole meal took less than 30 minutes to make so it is a great option for you when you want to try out something new with some chicken pieces.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce, Soups & Stews, Spices

 

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Alton Brown’s Backyard Baby Back Ribs – Sort Of

For me, finding new and different ways to cook ribs mostly means finding a new sauce or glaze to use on the ribs themselves. Since I am limited to just the use of my oven, I don’t have the options of a gas grill, charcoal grill or smoker at my disposal to use different methods to bring out different flavors. When I saw this recipe for Alton Brown’s backyard baby back ribs, I knew I wanted to try it, but I didn’t have the backyard methods to use like he does in the recipe. I also didn’t have any baby back ribs on hand; I only had some St. Louis spareribs in the freezer. I really liked the sound of the rub and the marinade on the ribs however so I decided to adapt it for my purposes. I’ll show you the original recipe here and then tell you what I did to change things around after.

Alton Brown’s Backyard Baby Back Ribs

2 full racks/slabs (about 4 1/2 pounds) baby back pork ribs
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons Rub Number Nine, recipe follows
1/2 cup orange juice (not fresh squeezed)
1/2 cup margarita mix
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Rub Number Nine:
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground thyme
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon allspice

Place each rib rack on a sheet of extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil. (The foil should be 4 inches longer than the ribs on either end.) Season the rib racks liberally with kosher salt and sprinkle each rack with 3 tablespoons of the rub. Turn the ribs, meat side down, and tightly seal each foil pouch. Place on a half sheet pan and refrigerate the ribs overnight.

The next day, heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the orange juice and margarita mix in a liquid measuring cup. Open 1 end of each pouch and evenly divide the liquid between the 2 pouches. Reseal the pouches and place the sheet pan in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the oven, carefully open 1 end of each pouch and pour the braising liquid into a heatproof measuring cup. Reseal the pouches and place them and the measuring cup of liquid into the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

The fat in the braising liquid will have solidified on the top and can be removed at this time. Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and add the honey, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, espresso powder and cayenne pepper. Whisk the ingredients until they are well combined. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and reduce the mixture to a glaze, about 10 minutes.

Set a gas grill to medium-high and allow it to heat for 10 minutes. Cut each slab of ribs in half and place them on the grill, flesh side down, close the lid and decrease the heat to medium. Leave everything alone for 3 minutes. Flip and cook the ribs for another 3 minutes. Flip and cook the ribs for 3 minutes on each side 1 more time or until each rib has a nice char. Remove the ribs from the grill to a cutting board. and cut the slabs into 2 rib portions, using kitchen shears. Add the ribs and half the glaze to a large serving bowl and toss the ribs to thoroughly coat them. Serve the remaining glaze on the side.

For the rub, place all of the ingredients in an airtight container and shake to combine. Store for up to 3 months.

Really the only change I made in the recipe comes in the final step. I heated the glaze in a small saucepan while I baked the ribs in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. I then glazed the ribs, turned the heat up to 400 and baked them for another 15 minutes before glazing them a final time and putting them under the broil for 2 or 3 minutes to get the char on them. Keep in mind I was using the St. Louis ribs, which are thicker and larger than baby back ribs, so they do take longer to cook through properly. It may not turn out the same as it would with a gas grill, but the ribs were still cooked well and tasted great. I really love the glaze and although I was skeptical with the use of the margarita mix in the whole thing, it did work quite nicely along with the orange juice, honey and the espresso powder. I would certainly give these ribs a try again. I apologize for the fuzzy picture; I didn’t realize it had not turned out well and didn’t take another one, but trust me, they are good!

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Pork, Sauce, Spices

 

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Just Because It’s Winter Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have Great Spare Ribs

I love spare ribs no matter what time of year it may happen to be and for me living in a condo, I can’t really do any grilling of ribs anyway so I turn to making them in the oven to get the best results. i have a standard recipe that I have used often but I was looking for something a little different this time to maybe get a  different flavor. I came across this recipe from theKitchn, a blog that I check out often. They offered up a very simple recipe for cooking great ribs indoors any time of year with a nice smoky flavor and a little zip to them.

Oven Baked Spare Ribs

4 to 5 pounds pork spare ribs or baby back ribs

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 cup dry spice rub

1 cup barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a rack on top of the foil on the baking sheet. Lay the ribs on top of the rack in a single layer. This will allow for the heat to better circulate on all sides of the ribs so they cook evenly.

Mix the Dijon mustard and the liquid smoke in a small bowl and brush the mixture on both sides of the ribs. Sprinkle the ribs with the dry rub and pat the ribs gently to make sure the rub adheres well to the rib meat. For an even deeper flavor, try doing this step a day ahead of time and wrapping the ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them until the next day.

Heat the broiler and place an oven rack a few inches right below the broiler heating element. Make the meaty side of the ribs is facing up. Broil the ribs for about 5 minutes, until the sugar in the dry rub is bubbling and the ribs are evenly browned.

Heat he oven to 300 degrees. Move the ribs to an oven rack set in the middle position of the oven. Roast the ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 hours for spare ribs or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for baby back ribs. Halfway through the cooking process, cover the ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out.

Remove the foil from the ribs and brush the ribs with barbecue sauce. Place the ribs back in the oven and continue to cook them for another thirty minutes. The ribs are done when a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the rib meat. Allow the ribs to rest, covered with foil, for about ten minutes, and then cut between the bones to separate the individual ribs. Serve with extra barbecue sauce for dipping.

There are all kinds of spice rub recipes you can use for your ribs, and I have given the link to the one I use most often, but you can also buy some from the store if you have a personal favorite. I actually used a rub that was sent to me by Pepper Mary, who sells spices on her website. I used the Mesquite Blend, which was perfect for the ribs and added a nice mesquite wood flavor to the meat. This is a perfect spice blend for ribs or pulled pork if you are looking for something easy to use. Adding the liquid smoke makes a big difference in the smell and flavor as well. This recipe is very easy to do if you want ribs any time of year and don’t have a gas or charcoal grill to use. Any of the typical rib sides are perfect for this meal, such as baked beans, corn bread or cole slaw or even homemade fries.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Sauce, Spices

 

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Let the Soup Season Begin – Hearty Vegetable Chowder

The weather is starting to get much cooler here at night now so Fall is not far away for us. It is still warm during the day, for the most part, but the nights have been crisp and cool. For me this means that it is time to start breaking out some soup recipes. Luckily, in the newest issue of Cook’s Country magazine, there was a great looking soup that was perfect to kick off the soup-making season for me. This vegetable chowder is very easy to make and makes good use of just a few simple ingredients.

Hearty Vegetable Chowder

6 slices bacon, chopped

1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin and washed thoroughly

4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon is nearly crispy, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, thyme and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook until the leeks are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until the starch begins to release from the potatoes and coat all the vegetables, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and the bay leaf and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer 1 cup of the vegetables (using a slotted spoon) and 2 cups of the soup broth to a blender; process until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Stir the processed soup back into the pot. Stir in the half-and-half, chives and lemon juice and gently re-warm the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

There are a couple of things about this easy recipe. If you don’t have any leeks, I think you could easily substitute onions instead and not really lose anything. Leeks are great in a soup, but they are not always easy to get and can be a little pricey. Stirring in the potatoes really does make a difference here. The starch acts as a bit of a thickener here for the soup so that when you puree that bit of soup, you are going to end up with a nice, thick chowder. it was tasty and easy enough to make in under an hour on a weeknight all with ingredients I already had in the house. Even better, it’s a one pot meal and you could easily make it vegetarian by eliminating the bacon altogether if you want.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time to see what recipe I’ll be making. I have been checking a few things out in the latest issue of Cook’s Country and there are a bunch of things I want to try, so we’ll see what’s next. until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Spices, Vegetarian

 

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Don’t Forget Your Thanksgiving Appetizers

Yesterday I covered the side dishes I am making for Thanksgiving, and on Monday it was the soup for the day, and Sunday I wrote about the turkey, stuffing and gravy. There’s not much left to write about  unless you want to make some appetizers for everyone before the meal. Here’s my advice on appetizers for the holidays. You have enough going on in the oven and on the stove, so try to do things that you don’t have to cook at all if you can avoid it. It’s just one less thing you have to cook for the day and you may not have the room or time to do it anyway. You can go simple, and just do a nice selections of cheeses and crackers, maybe some sliced apples and pears, some grapes and some pepperoni or sliced dry sausage. I am trying to keep it simple by doing some shrimp cocktail and some homemade horseradish cocktail sauce.

Shrimp Cocktail

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup Horseradish Cocktail Sauce (recipe to follow)

Bring the lemon juice, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, Old Bay and 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the shrimp. Cover and steep off the heat until the shrimp are firm and pink, about 7 minutes. Drain the shrimp and plunge them immediately into ice water. Drain and refrigerate the shrimp until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour. Arrange a platter and serve with the cocktail sauce.

Horseradish Cocktail Sauce

1 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, plus extra for seasoning

2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce, plus extra for seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Stir all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with additional horseradish and hot sauce as desired.

The cooked shrimp and the cocktail sauce can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day, so you can make them ahead if you want to. If you get uncooked shrimp that is already peeled and deveined, you can save yourself some extra work and make things a little quicker for yourself.

You’re likely to have some people who don’t like shrimp cocktail, so you’ll need to have some other things available too. You can always put out an array of different chips and snacks or vegetables and have some dip for them. Instead of using the soup packet for your onion dip this year (I have nothing against it, I do it a lot, but it is often a little stale and always very salty), how about making a simple onion dip on your own. It’s not really any work and it tastes a lot fresher. You can just use straight sour cream or try this dip base and add the onions to it.

Simple Onion Dip

3/4 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup caramelized onions

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Stir all of the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the dip for at least 1 hour so all of the flavors can blend together nicely. The prepared dip can keep covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

For the caramelized onions, if you have never done it before, simply melt 1 tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Add about 4 onions, halved and sliced thin, 1 teaspoon of light brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are deep brown, about 40 minutes. Take them off the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon of water, season with salt and pepper, and you’re done.

Yes, it takes some planning ahead if you are going to use caramelized onions, but they are so tasty, not just for dips but as a condiment for nearly anything.

If you want to make something ahead of time and like nuts, you can try this recipe for spiced nuts. I tried this with some mixed nuts and a spice blend I got from PepperMary’s Spice Blends and boy was it good. I used the Cajun Blend for the nuts, but Mary was kind enough to send me samples of her other spices, which I plan to try after Thanksgiving on some fish that I got. Thanks Mary, they are awesome. I also used the Mesquite Blend on a London broil I marinated last night for dinner and it had a nice taste and kick to it. Give her stuff a try if you get the chance.

Spiced Nuts

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound of mixed nuts, unsalted

2 tablespoons sugar, maple syrup or honey

4 teaspoons PepperMary Cajun Spice blend (or other spice blend you like) or:

2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon paprika

Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 275 degrees. Whisk the egg white, water and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Drain in a colander for 5 minutes.

Toss the sugar, maple syrup or honey with the spice blend or desired spices with the nuts. Spread the nuts evenly on two parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until the nuts are dry and crisp, about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Remove from the oven and let the nuts cool completely on the baking sheet, about 30 minutes. Break the nuts apart and serve.

These can also be made ahead and stored at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 1 week.

If you still aren’t sure what to make, you can always try going for an antipasto platter. This lets you put out a variety of meats, cheeses, olives and vegetables that people like and you can pretty much choose what suits your crowd the best. I put together just a few ideas in this one.

Antipasto Platter

1/2 pound soppressata salami or other dry sausage, skin removed and sliced thin

2 cups mixed olives, black and green, marinated, such as Kalamata, Nicoise or others

1 jar marinated roasted red peppers

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

Arrange all the items on a platter for people to choose as finger foods. You could always add other cheeses, like marinated mozzarella, or other meats like ham, or even some marinated and grilled vegetables like eggplant, asparagus or zucchini, and some sliced tomato. The options are endless with this. Have some good extra-virgin olive oil on hand if you want to do any marinating of anything.

Okay, I think that covers the appetizers. There are a lot of other choices out there, that I didn’t go into, but I could be here all day writing suggestions and I still have prep work myself to do. Later on today, I will post a couple of dessert options if you are still looking for ideas. Check back and see what I have. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day!

 

 
 

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My Sous Chef Takes Over For the Night

I had planned on chicken all week for dinners, but I had also taken out some pork chops to make for dinner one night. I thought tonight would be a good night to do that and I thought it would be an even better night to have Sean take over in the kitchen. He is planning on taking a cooking class later on this summer so I figured tonight would be a good night for him to do some of the cooking while I just supervised. He chose this recipe of skillet barbecued pork chops as his first test. You don’t have to do the brining of the pork chops if you don’t have time to do it, but it does help to add to the meal by making the pork chops more moist.

Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops

1/2 cup salt

4 bone-in rib loin pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat

4 teaspoons vegetable oil

For the spice rub:

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons light or mild molasses

2 tablespoons grated onion

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Dissolve the salt in 2 quarts of cold water in a large bowl or container. Submerge the chops in the brine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the spice rub, combine all the spices in a small bowl. Measure 2 teaspoons of the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside for the sauce. Transfer the remaining spice rub to a large plate. For the sauce, whisk the ingredients in the bowl with the reserved spice mixture until thoroughly combined; set aside.

Remove the chops from the brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to cut 2 slits, about 2 inches apart, through the outer layer of fat and silver skin of each chop (don’t cut into the meat of the chops). Coat both sides of the chops with the spice rub, pressing gently so the rub adheres. Shake off the excess rub.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Place the chops in the skillet in a pinwheel pattern, with the ribs pointing toward the center, and cook until browned and charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Flip the chops and continue to cook until the second side is browned and the center of the chops registers 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 4 to 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the chops to a plate. Lightly brush the top of each chop with 2 teaspoons of the sauce.

Wipe the pan out with paper towels and return it to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and heat until just smoking. Add the chops to the pan, sauce side down, and cook without moving them until the sauce has caramelized and charred in spots, about 1 minute. While cooking, lightly brush the top of each chop with 2 more teaspoons of sauce. Flip the chops and cook until the second side is charred and caramelized and the center of the chops registers 140 to 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the chops back to the plate, cover loosely with foil, and let rest until the center of the chops registers 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the remaining sauce to the pan and cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits, until thickened and it measures 2/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Brush each chop with 1 tablespoon of the sauce and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.

Sean handled most of the prep and the actual cooking pretty well. The only thing I really did was take the chops out of the pan. He also made some oven roasted potatoes, corn on the cob and skillet cornbread to go along with the meal. Again, he did most of the work himself, including the chopping of the potatoes, mixing everything for the sauce, the rub and the cornbread. All I handled was the hot cast iron skillet for the cornbread. I have to say I was quite proud of how well he did with everything. Now if I could just get him to clean his room, all would be wonderful!

That’s it for tonight. It might be back to chicken tomorrow night, or maybe some burgers, i haven’t quite decided yet. We’ll see what I feel like doing. Enjoy the rest of your evening and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Breads, Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Sauce, Spices

 

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