My husband, Jeff, loves to cook almost as much as me and he loves to try new recipes.  It is quite humorous to watch him search for hours and plan his menu but I love it and do not take it for granted for one minute!  On Sunday, his search was for a fish that he could grill easily but it would also need to have a nice sauce.  Cooking Light Magazine came to his rescue!

Grilled Char with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Tomato-onion Relish by Cooking Light Magazine
Grilled Char with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Tomato-onion Relish by Cooking Light Magazine

Now for those of you not familiar with “Char” it is usually called “Artic Char” and is related to the Salmon family.  This posed somewhat of a problem for Jeff because I simply do not like salmon but he assured me the Char would have a milder taste so I took him at his word.  (Note:  I love Salmon Croquettes and Smoked Salmon just not grilled salmon…make no sense!)

Another problem that I saw with the recipe was the raw onions…I do not like them.  I love them any other way but raw, but again, he assured me everything would be just fine 🙂  Also, neither one of us like mint in our dishes unless it is in a beverage but we decided we were going to leave that in the recipe just as it was.  As it turned out, that was a smart move!

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, vertically sliced (Jeff sliced these extremely thin to suit my personal tastes)
  • 4 (6-ounce) center-cut arctic char or salmon fillets (We only used 2 fillets)
  • 1 pound small Yukon gold or red potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 pint heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar (often called sherry wine vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Place onion in a small bowl; add water to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes. (Jeff left the onions in for an hour because of my feelings about raw onions) Drain. Set aside.
Arrange fish fillets in a single layer on a large plate lined with paper towels. Let stand, uncovered, in refrigerator for 1 hour (to allow surface to dry).
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Place potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender.

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Drain; cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half. Combine potatoes, thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, tossing to coat. Thread potatoes onto 4 (6-inch) skewers with cut sides facing out.

Combine onion, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, tomatoes, mint, capers, vinegar, and mustard in a bowl; toss gently. Set aside.

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Sprinkle remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper evenly over fish. Place fish and potatoes, cut sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  (Jeff coated the grill rack with cooking spray but just put them both on a cutting board since they weren’t going on the grill at the same time.)image

Cover and grill potatoes 6 minutes without turning. image

Grill fish 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. image

Serve fish with potatoes; top with tomato-onion relish. We added a southern twist and make Beer-Braised Greens as a side dish.imageBottom Line:  While it was an excellent recipe and Jeff loved it, it still tasted like salmon to me so it wasn’t my favorite.  That being said, the Tomato-Red Onion Relish was outstanding and would be fantastic over any other type of fish or even chicken for that matter.  (I still would have preferred my onions to have been steamed a little but the sauce was so good, I was able to get past that.)  And those potatoes…..Oh, my!  They were quite possibly the best potatoes I have ever had and I will definitely be making them again with other dishes!

If you love Salmon, then you will love this recipe…if you don’t, just switch out the fish and everyone can be happy!  This is a recipe worth trying!

Check out the original recipe at http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-char-with-yukon-golds-50400000113009/

Sustainable Choice: Arctic char is a sound choice; you can also use wild Alaskan salmon in its place.

I use onions a lot in my kitchen but stinging tears rolling down my face while I chop my onions? I hate it!  I have tried many tricks to avoid this uncomfortable phenomenon including wearing swimming goggles during my chopping (that’s attractive) but recently I heard about a new trick and what do you know?  It works!

onion

Generally, you should store your onions at room temperature (and never near potatoes or fruit because they will cause them to ripen and rotten much faster).  However, if you place your onions in the refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour before you cut them, the tears you generally see when chopping will reduce substantially!  Apparently, a cold onion reduces the “crying cells” a little slower so you can chop.  (Do not leave them in the refrigerator more than an hour because this may cause your other foods in the refrigerator to take on the onion flavor.)

I have also heard of freezing the onion but I highly suggest you don’t do that because the onion will not have the same texture when cooking.  Two other suggestions that I use in combination with my refrigerator trick are:

  1. I chop my onions as near to my running stove vent as possible
  2. When I have half of my onion chopped, I put the chopped part on the other side of the kitchen before resuming

Try these little tips and you may find a bit more happiness with your time with the onion!

Slow Cooker recipes are one of my favorite kinds but when I saw the picture of a juicy piece of chicken atop some yummy polenta, covered with a “tomatoey type sauce” (my new word :-), I knew this was my kind of recipe!  Featured in the March 2014 issue of Cooking Light Magazine, this one is a winner and I only made a few small changes.

spicy-chicken-cacciatore-ck-l,

First, this recipe served 8, which was too much for us so I rewrote the recipe to make only 4 servings.  That is the version I have included here but the link at the bottom of the page is the original recipe if you need additional servings.

This recipe is super easy and the only real change needed is to season the flour before browning.  I simply added a tsp each of salt, pepper, and onion powder to my flour before dredging the chicken.  I think it would have been very bland tasting had this not been done.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (again, add a tsp of kosher salt, pepper, and onion powder to this)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cups chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoons capers
  • 3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Place flour and seasonings in a shallow dish, mixing well; dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Place chicken in a 6-quart electric slow cooker.

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Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. image

Add wine; bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes. Add bell pepper mixture, tomato puree, and next 6 ingredients (through diced tomatoes) to pan, mixing well.

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Pour mixture into the slow cooker and give it a little stir to coat the top and bottom of chicken (The original recipe just had you adding the last 6 ingredients to the slow cooker but i did this in the pan to thoroughly combine the ingredients before adding to the chicken.)

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Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours or until chicken is tender. (Mine was perfect after 3 hours so I kept it on warm the last hour.) Sprinkle with parsley (if desired).  I served this over polenta (it would also be great over rice) and a side of sauteed baby asparagus & mushrooms.

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Bottom Line:  Delicious and I will be making this again!  Jeff loved it and the combination of flavors was just perfect.  A definite keeper and one that is not only good enough for the family but company, too!  Everyone one will be impressed with this recipe that looks so complex but so easy!

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spicy-chicken-cacciatore-50400000133665/

Are you one of the guilty ones who bakes their potatoes in foil?  If so, you are making a critical kitchen mistake.  In fact, you are not actually baking the potato but steaming it!

foil potatoes

The perfect baked potato  has crispy, golden skin on the outside and a steamy, fluffy texture on the inside!  To create this bit of perfection simply wash your potatoes well.  Dry them and prick tiny holes using a fork time (hence, they won’t explode).  Rub some olive oil and kosher salt over them generously and place either directly on a baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees.  Cook for one approximately one hour depending on the size of the potato.  baked potato

Cover with your favorite condiments such as sour cream, butter, and chives and enjoy!  Eat the skin as well…not only is it delicious but that is where most of the potassium in a potato is 🙂  After tasting the difference you will never commit the crime of steaming potatoes in foil again!loaded potato

 Every summer, I can my own spaghetti sauce so I have that fresh taste of tomatoes during the winter and and what better compliment to the sauce?  The Meatball!  A savory bite of beef, veal, and pork with cheese, garlic, and all those delicious seasonings…Simple, savory, and succulent! While I will only share my secret sauce recipe with my children, my meatball is something you must try!meatball
Over the years, I have tried many meatball recipes but the one that I liked best came from Giada De Laurentiis from her Mini Meatball Heroes recipe on Food Network.  While I have made some changes to herl recipe including cooking method, you can try her original  by clicking on the link following this recipe.
This makes approximately 50 meatballs but  I always double the recipe so I have plenty to freeze in individual bags to use whenever I am in the mood for a homemade meatball. 
Now, take off your rings and get ready to get your hands really dirty for some fun meatball making!
Ingredients
6 oz ground beef
6 oz ground veal
6 oz ground pork
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 large egg
3 tbs ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
Ingredients
Using your hands mix the meats together well.  Add the salt, onion powder, and dry mustard, and blend in well.  Add the onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, and garlic and mix well.  Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs.  image
Using about 2 tablespoons of meat for each, shape the meat mixture into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes (this helps the meatballs to keep their shape during browning).  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan and brown 10-12 meatballs at a time.  Avoid crowding because you want to brown them, not steam them.  (Use a fork and your fingers to turn them over the first time because they tend to stick and once they are browned on both sides, give the pan a good shake to brown evenly on all sides…this whole process usually takes about 4 minutes.)  When you remove from the pan they should be brown, but not done on the inside (they will finish in the oven).   As you pull the meatballs out of the pan, place on a cookie sheet while you complete the rest of the meatballs.
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Hint:  After each browning, scrape pan to loosen the meaty bits and add a little more olive oil to prevent sticking.  Allow pan to come back up to medium heat before beginning the browning process again.
Pop the tray of meatballs in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven until firm to the touch. image
Add to your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Buon Appetito!
Buon Appetito!

Tip:  To freeze, allow to cool and place in freezer safe storage bags…they are just as fresh tasting when reheated!

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/mini-meatball-heroes-recipe2.html?oc=linkback

Twice baked potatoes…so ’80s but it was the very first dish I ever learned how to make and it was the very first dish I taught my daughter, Ashleigh, to make on her own….No, not gourmet, but delicious? For sure! Hubby is grillling some steaks tonight, the kids are home (yes, they are adults but still kids to me) and this is the perfect  side dish!image

My mother taught me how to make these when I was in my mid-teens and I have tweaked the recipe over the years so that now, I think I have finally gotten them exactly how the Pitt family likes them.  (Please never buy those pre-made ones in the store….yuck!)

Ingredients

  • 5 large Idaho baking potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • 4 tbsps butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Season the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet and place in the oven.

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Cook until fork tender, about 1 hour. Remove and cool.  (I like to put them on a separate plate to cool so they don’t absorb any more heat)

While potatoes are cooling, place bacon in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Slice 1/4 of the top off each of the potatoes. Using a spoon, scrape out the flesh of each potato into a mixing bowl…don’t forget to scrape the potato out of the 1/4 top, too!  

Using a hand held masher, mash the potatoes until smooth…I mash each time I add another potato.  Add the butter, sour cream, milk, s cup and a half of the cheese, bacon, and the chives. Season with salt and pepper; mix well.

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Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells.image

Top the potatoes with the remaining cheese and place back on the baking sheet and bake until the cheese melts, about 8 to 10 minutes.

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Ready to serve and I promise that there won’t be one bite left! Enjoy!

No longer just my favorite condiment on a hot dog…now my favorite remedy for what happens OFTEN in my kitchen:  BURNS!  image

I had heard about this home remedy for years but could never seem to remember it when I  actually needed it….until last night when I touched a pan I had forgotten had just come out of the oven!

I immediately put my injured thumb under cold water and asked Jeff if he would get the mustard out of the fridge for me.  Perplexed, he got it for me but seemed to be quite alarmed when I asked him to pour some on my burn.  I shared my new “mustard healing tidbit” and with much doubt on his face, he kindly obliged.

Within 5 minutes, the burning sensation was completely gone and this morning there is no blister or even a sign of my little mishap! My love for mustard kindles in my heart but isn’t burning on my thumb! 🙂 Give this home remedy a try!

If you grew up in the south, beans, greens, and ham were usually a regular favorite on the dinner table and the February 2014 edition of Southern Living Magazine featured a recipe with it all in one bowl!  Southern Living was pretty much where I got all my recipes when I was first married and I have the annual editions from 1985 through today :-).  They hold a special place in my heart and I get very excited that they are still producing quality recipes today!

After learning to love collard greens (turnip and mustard as well) growing up, I was very lucky that the man I married loved them just as much!  He doesn’t quite have as deep south roots as I have but I have taught him well!  I knew this dish would be something he would love too!

Ingredients

1 pound dried cannellini beans (the store was out of cannellini so I substituted northern beans)
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
9 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
6 fresh thyme sprigs
5 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 fresh sage sprigs (optional – I didn’t use)
3 fresh basil sprigs (optional – I didn’t use)
Kitchen string
2 (1-lb.) smoked ham hocks
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional – but I think this makes the flavors blend so nicely)
4 cups chopped fresh collard greens
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14.5-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Directions

Rinse and sort beans according to package directions. Place beans in a large bowl; add water to 2 inches above beans. Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours. Drain beans, and place in a large saucepan. Add onion and 8 cups broth. Tie together thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and, if desired, sage and basil with string; add to bean mixture. photo 2

Add ham hocks and, if desired, rind. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 1 hour or until beans are tender but hold their shape.

Skim off foam with a spoon.  Remove hocks, and cool 5 minutes. Remove meat from bones; discard bones. (I was a litttle disappointed that my ham hocks did not have enough meat but not the recipe’s fault.)  Return meat to bean mixture. Add collards, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until collards are tender.

Sauté garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat 2 minutes or until light golden. Add tomatoes, and sauté 5 minutes. Stir tomato mixture and remaining 1 cup broth into beans, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. unnamed

Discard herb bundle and cheese rind; season beans with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately (I actually let it simmer all day and it was just fine!)image

Bottom Line:  I thought this was a great way to blend together some of my favorite southern ingredients into one dish.  It was a perfect stand-alone dish for me.  Hubby, however, thought it would be perfect along side a big fried pork chop!  I guess that would be good, too!  Try this dish and you won’t be disappointed..thank you, Southern Living!
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog & Hominy, East Memphis, TN, Southern Living
FEBRUARY 2014

Have extra lemons and limes lying around and don’t want them to waste?  Try freezing them!  Slice lemons, limes, and even oranges and arrange on a cookie shoot.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.  When they are frozen solid, transfer to resealable freezer bags and put in the freezer section where they will be most visible.  Grab a couple when you need to add to cold drinks with ice cubes or just use them as a lovely garnish to one of your favorite fish dishes!

lemonslimes3Save $$$$ and add eye-catching flavor!

I always love when I make a dish one night, I can turn the leftovers into something completely different the next day…such as the case of the recent Seafood Stew Recipe I posted.

Spicy Seafood Stew
Spicy Seafood Stew

 

Reheat your stew, add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and your favorite Italian seasonings.  Serve over your favorite pasta (or even rice) and Viola!…you have another meal without spending much money or time in the kitchen.  Serve with some crusty, hot bread and dinner is served!pasta2 (2)

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