Monday, May 31, 2010

Chipotle Salsa

It's no secret that this family is crazy over Taco Tuesdays! If I am good, I will make the salsa the night before. It gives it time to marry...if you will. The flavors mellow a bit.

Salsa is so very easy to make. After you make it once, you will see that it is so easy and so much cheaper than the store bought fresh variety (unless you can get it for less than $2) plus you control the ingredients.

I am huge on using ingredients you have on hand rather than making a trip to the store for a lost ingredient. I am out of jalapenos. I know! Odd right? I cook with them so often that there isn't one in the house! This variety of salsa is just as good as my Simple Salsa. The chipotle gives it a hint of smokiness. Just be careful to add one pepper at a time. They can get hot really fast! Your eyeballs will sweat! No joke!

Chipotle Salsa

1 can (29 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, drained
½ yellow onion chopped
1 gloves garlic chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo (picture of can above and below)
Juice of one lime or lemon
1 tsp kosher salt

Chop and dump onion and garlic into the food processor. Drain the tomatoes (really squish the liquid out of them. I am a bit of a freak..I admit it. I take my chef knife and cut them up a bit in the can even though they are going into a food processor. You don't have to do it.

Add Cilantro (and say it sweet friend that is very fluent in Spanish corrects this redneck every time I say it..It's Ceeelantrrooo) I am a bit of a stem snob. I painstakingly take the stems off.)

Add the lemon or lime juice and salt.
Now open the can of chipotles. Fish out two to start. Seriously!

Chop them up a little. And dump them into the processor.

Pulse till desired consistency. I like it pretty smooth. The Fireman and The Tortured Teenager like it chunky. They are not here while I am making it so it's gonna be the way I like it today. If you really like it chunky, add an extra pepper to the processor and then a can of drained diced tomatoes after you have pulsed it.
You want to taste it and make sure it is spicy enough! I added another chili. You can refrigerate the remaining chili's and use for next week. They are also good in cheese dip, chop up one or two and add to scrambled eggs, homemade hummus, chop up a couple and put into homemade chili, or you can even freeze them!

Tomorrow is Taco Tuesday! This will be perfect with the Beer Pulled Pork Tacos!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saucy Poppers

Everyone know we love appetizers! There are times in the summer that we forgo dinner and eat spinach dip with sourdough bread and a bottle of wine. There is nothing so special as enjoying a meal like this with my husband. Really I don't care what the meal just as long as it's shared with The Fireman. But that being said, you must know that we love bar food. Love appetizers. If dinner is to be served after wards, forget it! I'm not interested.

A favorite appetizer is anything spicy! Buffalo wings, spicy artichoke dip or jalapeno poppers are all favorites. I recently tried a new jalapeno popper recipe. Pioneer Woman raved about them on The View. Her version is good (and I recommend you check it out. Her site is to die for) but of course I had to change them. I needed to keep them spicy but add more pork (Hello! My men love pork) but make them appealing to us women. I've got a winner! Oh a definite keeper! I recently made them for a House Party. Needless to say, I didn't get to try one. They were gone before I could get my hands on them! These are a labor of love. You cant just throw them together. The Fireman helped me do these the night before our party and then I cooked them an hour before anyone was to arrive.

Saucy Poppers
20 whole Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 Inches In Size
1 large cube Cream Cheese, softened
1 pound Thin(regular) Bacon
1 small can of chunk pineapple drained
1/2 cup Saucy Susan (normally by the specialty BBQ sauces but if you cannot find then substitute with either Duck sauce which is found in the Asian aisle or apricot jam)
Tooth picks

If I am making salsa I can handle the jalapenos but for this, gloves are a must!!
Lob off the stem end of the jalapenos and then slice lengthwise. I like to do them all at once.

Then I take a spoon and scrape all the seeds and veins out. It's a must.

Take the same spoon and fill the now hollowed jalapenos with cream cheese.

Take two chunks of pineapple and place over cream cheese lengthwise

Wrap with bacon. A fix with a toothpick or two.

Place cheese side up on the cookie sheet.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the bacon is crispy on all sides (check underneath)
Take out of the oven and coat with the Saucy Susan. Be generous! I always do half with BBQ sauce. You'd be surprised how the men can't tell the difference in sauces.
Return to the oven but put it on broil and watch it like a hawk! A couple minutes max!
Remove from the oven and hide half. No really! The men will hog them and you will be forced to eat them in the kitchen! No joke

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ortega Cheese Dip

I make a spicy spinach and artichoke dip at just about every get together. My brats don't appreciate it like the guys (yes I said guys) that man the BBQ pit. They are down right protective of the dip. I don't think they know that there are vegetables in it. But this recipe is not for spicy spinach and artichoke dip. Nope! I came about this dip from making Ortega Chili Cheese Bread which is amazing and again the men hog it all. They liked it so much that I made more of the topping but I was out of the bread it belonged on so I served it with tortilla chips. Oh my! Happy men! Protective men! Am I ever going to learn to keep half of it in the house-away from the men? Probably not!

Ortega Cheese Dip
1 cans of Ortega HOT Chilis
2 stalks Green Onions (scallions) sliced
½ cups Mayonnaise
2 cups Monterrey Jack Cheese, Grated
1 cube of cream cheese

Mix all ingredients and put in an oven safe dish.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips or bread.

This dip could be made in the crock pot. Try it when you are crunched for time. Set it on low. Enjoy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oven Ribs

Mother Nature fooled me today. It is May and it raining on the West Coast. I don't remember it ever raining this late in spring. Not that I mind because ultimately rain equates to a full lake. And a full lake equates to a fun summer. I didn't check the weather report. And not wanting to watch the news is a bad excuse when your phone will show the weather without the headlines. So it was on to Plan B. Growing up in the mountains, I remember my grandma making ribs in the winter. Not that snow or rain has ever stopped my family from bbqing but there were times that she would make them in the oven. This takes it to the next level.

This in no way is better than The Fireman's BBQ ribs. There is nothing like cooking them over a smokey fire but this is a great way if you do not have a BBQ.

Oven Ribs
1 package of baby back pork ribs
Your favorite seasoning
Season ribs with your favorite BBQ seasoning. I am using Santa Maria Style Susie Q
Stack the ribs on top of each other and wrap in foil. Bake at 400 degrees for an hour and half

Remove from the oven and place on a very hot grill pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with your favorite BBQ sauce and let caramelize.

I'm using a peach apricot sauce but good ole fashioned BBQ sauce would be fine. I am using the peach apricot sauce because The Ballplayer likes it. And frankly getting him to eat is a chore!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spicy Corn on the Cob

This can be done either on the BBQ or under the broiler. I do it under the broiler quite a bit. It's a way to get a charcoal flavor quickly. My brats love it. I never make enough. And if there are leftovers they are eaten cold. I've tried corn on the cob with every spice possible but this is my family's favorite! Sometimes I will use just salt and pepper but my brats always ask why I didn't use our special seasoning. The seasoning is easy to make. Make up a double or triple batch and keep in a small container. You'll be surprised how much you will use it after that first time! I love it on roasted potatoes! It's amazing on corn.

Spicy Corn on the Cob
Corn on the cob
Fireman's seasoning
Olive oil

Drizzle a little olive oil on the corn. With one hand, rub the oil all over the corn.
Sprinkle the seasoning all over the corn (that's why you leave one hand clean)

Broil the corn till golden. My family always rushes me through this. Once they smell it they become impatient.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ultimate Grilled Cheese

I got a ton of questions from readers when I put this on my menu. On the days The Fireman works I do not cook my usual big meals. The joke is that I starve my brats. Like that is possible!

So exactly what is the ultimate grilled cheese? It's whatever you like! The Tortured Teenage wants tuna on hers. The ballplayer wants light cheese, extra toasted and make it two! For me, I want not one type of cheese but two! If you really want to excite me, get some cheese bread from Panera. Just don't use white bread. We don't like white bread, unless it's sourdough. My brats like wheat bread. I don't know how it happened but it makes me so happy. One less fight!

Now you could put some meat on your grilled cheese. Personally I think meat has no place here but a sliced tomato would be nice.

Maybe you'll laugh at my giving instructions on how to make a grilled cheese. I find that most people don't make them right. They rush it and end up with a toasted sandwich with the cheese barely melted. There is an art to it. I was told the "secret" years ago from a chef. It was an Ah ha moment!!

I like to butter my bread first. Leave the butter out to soften so you aren't tearing at the bread. My kids are not capable of buttering the bread. Both always come get me. The bread gets torn up and they get frustrated.

Get your pan preheating but not on a high heat. The cheese will not melt that fast. I put my crappy stove (I haven't complained enough about that!!) on medium heat.
Put one piece of bread butter side down in the pan. Place desired cheese on the bread. I'm using extra thick slices of cheddar. I like to slice the cheese myself. I only by presliced provolone or muenster. Everything else I buy by the chunk. It's cheaper and you control the quantity.

Do not cover with the second piece of bread. The object right now is melting to cheese. The bread will toast. Don't rush it! I want gooey melted cheese.

Once the cheese shows signs of melting the bread will magically be toasted. Place the other piece of butter bread on the melted cheese. Butter side up. Now flip! The second side will toast faster than the first side.

See how gooey the cheese is? That's what we are looking for!

I like when the cheese goops up the plate!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tomatillo Chicken-Taco Tuesday!

Sometimes this is called Chicken Verde or Chicken stew with Green sauce. For me it's just Chili Verde made with chicken. It's Taco Tuesday so the sauce will be thick to accommodate the corn tortilla.

Tomatillo Chicken
1 pound to 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (I just grab 12 and call it good)
5 whole garlic cloves unpeeled
2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles (you could leave them out completely but trust me and keep them in-it won't be too spicy)
2 jalapenos chopped (I de-seed them)
4 pounds of bone in chicken thighs (pull as much skin off as possible but leave the bone in since it provides flavor)
1 bunch cilantro (remove the stems-because I am a stem snob)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil or Canola oil
1 huge yellow onion or 2 small
1 TB dried oregano
3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
1 carton chicken stock (you may not use it all)

Remove the paper husks from the tomatillos.
Rinse them well. They are going to be a little sticky. It's normal. Don't worry about the stickiness. Dry them off with a paper towel. Cut them on half and place them cut side down on a foiled lined cookie sheet.
Broil them for 5 minutes or until the skin is blackened. Let them sit for a couple minutes until they are cool enough to handle.
I like my Chili Verde to a little more spicy. Trust me it wont be too spicy. So I take 2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles and blacken them under the broiler just as you did the tomatillos. Put them into a Ziploc bag (they steam) wait five minutes and then remove the skin, stems and seeds. Give them a rough chop. You could also use a can of Ortega Chilis in place.

Place the tomatillos, Anaheim chilis, and squeeze the garlic out of the skins into the blender or food processor. Add the chopped Jalapenos and cilantro to the blender.

Pulse until mixed.

Resist the urge to grab tortilla chips!
I like to de-fatten or de-skin the chicken as much as I can. It is so cheap to buy skin on chicken thighs. I am sure you can buy them skin-less but you will pay an additional price. That extra five bucks adds up so buy them with the skin (and bone) and take the fatty skin off yourself.
Season the your chicken with salt and pepper. In a large pan (I use a extra large sauce pan and not a frying pan because I figure less dishes to wash) heat oil. You want enough oil to coat the pan so the chicken doesn't stick. Brown the chicken on all sides and transfer to a bowl that is lined with paper towels. Browning the meat adds flavor. You could omit and just add to a pan or crock pot but trust me! It adds flavor!
Do not crowd the pan. You will have to brown them in batches.

Pour off most of the fat from the pan. Add the onions and cook till translucent then add the raw chopped garlic. I dont want the garlic to burn so add it last.

Add the chicken and the Green Verde sauce back into the pan.

Pour enough chicken stock in the pan to cover the meat. Don't over do it. I like my sauce to be on the thicker side and I always figure I can always add chicken stock but you cant take it away. (and I did add another cup half way but I like it thick for tacos and thinner to put over rice)

Taste it. Does it need some salt and pepper? Don't over do the salt. The flavor will concentrate as it cooks. Bring the sauce up to a boil and reduce it to simmer. (bring to a bubble and then drop heat so it is barely a bubble) Do not cover it. I know you want to but dont. Cook for 1 hour until chicken is tender. Shred the chicken and remove the bones.

Traditionally this is served with Spanish rice and corn tortillas. I am making tacos out of it since it is Taco Tuesday. (Don't know how to make taco shells..see here!)

This is the most amazing the next day. In fact I think it is really the best on the second day. The Tortured Teenager likes it scrambled with eggs for breakfast. No joke! It is amazing!

This could be made in the crock pot. You could make the sauce the night before and toss it all in the crock pot the next morning. Set on low. Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sloppy Joes

You remember as a child eating Sloppy Joes. My mom made them out of a can of Manwich. She would serve them open face over toasted buns. You had to eat them with a fork and butter knife. To this day I love them. I can taste them, smell them. Something so simple yet so fulfilling. My mom was not that into cooking. Yet there are a handful of dishes that I loved. She made chicken fried steak that any southerner would love and liver and onions (yes I said liver) that to this day I miss. It is amazing that I miss the simplest dishes. A can of Sloppy Joe sauce and I am back in my mommas kitchen. (don't worry she doesn't know Mr Internet so she has no idea I am talking about her )

Being the control freak I am, you won't see a can of Manwich in my kitchen. I like to control my spices and prevent my brats from eating preservatives. I can't keep them from eating chips and food with the main ingredient being crap but I can ensure that whatever I cook will be completely homemade. So I make as much as I can with seasonings I make myself. You'd be surprised-you have all the spices. And you might as well use them since they are in your cupboard. I get satisfaction when I use all the spice in a jar. I like that I used them rather than them going stale. Plus it is cheaper in the long run! Most of the spices in those spice packets are flour mixed with spices you already have. The real kicker are the ingredients you can't pronounce. Then they charge you over a buck for it! Save your buck and open your spice cupboard. OK off my soapbox!

I've changed my mothers Sloppy Joes. I don't exactly know how it happened. I always serve with homemade coleslaw. My coleslaw that I serve as a side dish is not traditional. It has pineapple and sunflower kernels. It's killer. But The Fireman was not feeling it with Sloppy Joes. He complained. Yes it happens. His coleslaw ended on his sloppy Joe (on purpose) and the extra goodies were not wanted. So I took note and made my Simple Coleslaw (you'll remember it from my Pulled Pork recipe) and once again The Fireman was a happy customer. Only the adults pile the coleslaw on the Sloppy Joes. The kids are fussier. One won't touch it and the other wants it as a side dish. At any rate you will want to prepare the coleslaw first so it can marry in the fridge while you cook the Sloppy Joes.

Sloppy Joes
1 pound hamburger (or whatever your grocer packages)
1 small onion diced
1 large clove garlic minced
1 TB red pepper flakes (just do it!!!)
3/4 to 1 cup ketchup (yes ketchup!!)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
2 TB Yellow mustard (yes mustard)
1 TB brown sugar
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Brown hamburger, onion and garlic over medium heat.
Add all the other ingredients. Mix well. Taste. No this is important. My family likes it a little spicy and this is where I add more cayenne. Lower heat to low and let simmer ten minutes.
Serve on toasted buns piled high with coleslaw.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PW Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies

Sometimes The Fireman and I sneak out for appetizers and a drink. The kids are not invited. We have used the most ridiculous excuses. "Need to check the oil on my car," "have to drive by the rental and check the chimney," "just going to Wal-mart for foot spray!" Yep all bogus excuses. God help me if the brats decide to read up on my blog!!

A favorite appetizer is anything spicy! Buffalo wings, Spicy Artichoke Dip or Jalapeno Poppers are all favorites. I recently tried a new Jalapeno Popper recipe. Pioneer Woman raved about them on The View. Her version is good! And you know that I have changed it. I will show you my updated version on another post. These are amazing and have to be shared with the world. It was so good that my trial run almost resulted in us missing The Ballplayers game! No joke! The decision was made to put off eating them until after the game when we could properly toast them...with beer of course! I even shamelessly told The Ballplayer that he couldn't eat them because he didn't have enough hair on his chest. Thankfully he didn't have any quick comments asking about hair on my chest (none-thank you very much)

PW Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies
20 whole Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 Inches In Size
1 large cube Cream Cheese, softened
1 pound Thin(regular) Bacon
Tooth picks
Cookie sheet lined with foil and then covered with a cookie drying rack.

If I am making salsa I can handle the jalapenos but for this, gloves are a must!!

Lob off the stem end of the jalapenos and then slice lengthwise. I like to do them all at once.

Then I take a spoon and scrape all the seeds and veins out. It's a must.
Take the same spoon and fill the now hollowed jalapenos with cream cheese.
Wrap with bacon.

A fix with a toothpick or two
Place cheese side up on the rack on the cookie sheet
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the bacon is crispy on all sides (check underneath) This is where you pretend I've shown you a picture perfect picture. I'd like to show you a picture of them finished but dang it, we got side tracked and forgot to snap a picture of them. Oops!
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