Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Big Papi's Wings
Serves 6

4 lbs. wings, patted dry and extra skin and fat removed
2 Tbsp Fresh rosemary, diced
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Pepper
1 Tbsp Lawry's Season Salt
1 tsp Chili Flakes
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

Preheat broiler to 500°F
Mix Herbs, Spices and Soy Sauce in a large bowl.  Add wings and toss until covered well.
Place wings on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
Roast wings under broiler for a total of 22 min. turning halfway through.
Serve and enjoy either with or without your favorite sauce.


Weekend Brunch and Leftovers
I do a good amount of cooking during the week.  Consequently, when the weekend comes around I have a lot of leftovers.
One of my favorite leftover dishes for a Sunday morning is a Frittata.  Call it a Spanish/Argentine Tortilla, a quiche w/o the crust or whatever, Frittata works for me.  It's a healthy, tasty one pan meal that everyone will LOVE!  Even Lauren, who hates eggs, devours it...

Note: Can be eaten hot, out of the oven; or at room temperature, so it's great for a brunch or a party item.

JD's Frittata
Serves: 4-6

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
2 shakes Mrs. Dash, or whatever seasoning you wish
2 potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced (mandolin)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 red, yellow or orange pepper, thinly sliced
1 zucchini sliced in 1/4in. discs
1 handfull of baby spinach
4 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 grilled chicken thigh, diced
3 cooked breakfast sausage links, diced
1/2 cup corn
8 eggs, beaten with salt and pepper

Like I said, this is an opportunity to use what you have in the fridge.  If you have leftover brie, use it!  If you have leftover steak, use it!  Whatever works for you...meats, veggies, etc.  I love to add grape tomatoes, sliced in half but didn't have any last weekend.
In a 10" non-stick saucepan, on medium-high, heat Oil and butter until butter stops foaming.
Add potatoes and stir fry for about 2 min. until they start getting soft.
Add onions, garlic, Mrs. Dash, and peppers - cook until they start to smell delicious, about 2 min.
Add mushrooms and cook until they start to render their juice, about 2 min.
Stir everything else (except eggs) in and cook for a couple of minutes, until well combined.

Add eggs and lightly stir, making sure egg covers the bottom of the pan.
Drop the heat to medium and cover for about 10 min. After about 6 min., it helps to run a heat resistant spatula around the perimeter every once in a while to make sure the frittata unsticks from the side of the pan.
At 10 min. uncover and shake it as well to detach it from the bottom of the pan.

Grab a plate that is larger than the pan, place it over the top of the pan - flip the frittata so the top/uncooked side is on the plate.
Slide frittata back into the pan and let that side cook for about 3 min, until it's golden brown (if needs be, add a little more olive oil to the pan before reintroducing the frittata).

Slide Frittata onto serving plate and allow to cool for about 5 min. before slicing.

Garnish with any fresh herbs used in the frittata, flowers, cheese, tomatoes, etc.

I like to slice it like a pie and serve it in wedges.

You can add any kind of hot sauce, cheese, ketchup (?), sour cream/creme fraiche, whatever you want...

I like mine with Sriracha...

Great Sides

A while back, we had a family dinner for Austin, before he left for the Army.  Lauren was in charge of the menu and she chose grilled, marinated chicken breasts, Roasted Garlic Alfredo Tortellini, sautéed asparagus, and her French toast a la mode for dessert...it was amazing!
Most of the stuff was basic (except Lauren's French Toast, which she did), but the Tortellini is a 'keeper'!


Serves 4+

2 heads of roasted garlic (see below, it's simple!)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup Heavy Cream, divided
¼ cup, heaping Sour Cream
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese + another ¼-1/2 cup
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 20oz. container of tortellini (refrigerated or frozen - cook according to directions beforehand)
3 Tbsp. of butter
Parsley to garnish (optional)

Roasted Garlic: Just slice off the top ends of the entire garlic head, leaving the root bottom alone.  Place them in a tin foil ‘boat’ then pour about 1 teaspoon of oil over each head. Fold the ends of the tinfoil up over the garlic, making an aluminum foil pouch of sorts. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour exactly.  Let cool until cool enough to handle, or refrigerate if you plan on using it later.
1. In a food processor or blender, combine the 2 heads of roasted garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, & ¼ cup of the heavy cream.  Blend until the garlic is pulverized.  Into the garlic mixture, pour in the remaining ¾ cup heavy cream, heaping ¼ cup sour cream, & ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Blend the mixture for 30-60 seconds until everything is combined. The mixture will be thick & slightly lumpy, which is perfectly normal! Set the sauce aside.
2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.  Add your tortellini & toss the pasta around in the melted butter to coat.  Pour the sauce on top of the pasta, & stir gently to combine.  Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring gently occasionally.  The sauce will thicken.
3. Sprinkle on ¼ cup to ½ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (depending on your taste), stir to combine and remove from the heat.  Pour the tortellini into a serving vessel, & garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts, lightly roasted in a dry pan (pecans preferred)
1/4 cup butter ( melted)
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes ( can use canned to save time, just drain)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs ( well beaten)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. Mix thoroughly.
Pour mixture into buttered baking dish (9"X9")and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.

Bake for 10 additional minutes. Allow to set at least 15 minutes before serving.

I have also been thinking about doing a Prime Rib with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and Yorkshire Pudding.
I found this recipe and am definitely going to see if it is really the one from the House of Prime Rib...

Creamed Spinach from The House of Prime Rib
Makes 4

Helen Brown’s West Coast Cookbook features this recipe. The recipe is credited to the head chef at Lawry’s Prime Rib in Los Angeles, who opened the House of Prime Rib in San Francisco in the 1940s. Note: The instructions say to make a medium cream sauce with butter, flour and milk. This is a béchamel (bay-shah-MEL) sauce, which is a French white sauce that can be made thin (1 Tbsp. each butter and flour to 1 cup milk), medium (2 Tbsp. each butter and flour to 1 cup milk), or thick (3 Tbsp. each butter and flour to 1 cup milk). You make the sauce by stirring the milk into a roux, which is made by slowly mixing the flour into the softened butter over very low heat.

1 lb. fresh spinach
3-4 strips bacon
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Cream Sauce:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup whole milk

Boil spinach (not too well done). Remove from heat, wash spinach in cold water, and squeeze dry in a dish towel. Grind in a Cuisinart and set aside. Grind bacon and sauté in a skillet. Grind onion and add to bacon with garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté until all moisture is gone.
Make a medium cream sauce with butter, flour and milk (see note above). Add ground spinach, onion, and bacon mixture to the cream sauce and bring to a slow boil.
Remove from heat and serve.

Roasted Veggies Serves 4

4 Potatoes - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 Sweet Potato - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 Red Onion - cut into 1/2 in pieces
6 cloves garlic - skins removed, can cut in half if desired
4 Carrots - peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

Preheat oven to 350°.
Toss above prepared veggies in olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme (fresh herbs can be substituted with dry herbs or Italian Herb Seasoning), lemon zest (1/4 of the lemon) salt and pepper.
Spread veggies on a sheet pan and cook in the oven for approx. 20 min. or until carrots can be easily pierced with a paring knife.

Serve and Enjoy!


Easy Weeknight Meals

An easy mid week meal...

This 'Way Too Easy' lasagna is genius: You start with simmering marinara in a skillet, add ravioli and cooked sausage, and top it off with cheese for a melty one-pot meal.
Serves:  4 with leftovers
1 lb. Hot Italian sausage, casings removed
Mrs. Dash, Garlic Powder and Italian Herb Seasoning
2 ½ c. marinara
½ c. liquid - water, white wine, chicken stock
1 lb. cheese ravioli
1 1/2 c. ricotta
1 large egg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. shredded mozzarella
½ c. shredded parmesan
1- Heat broiler. In a cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until browned and no longer pink, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes, throw in additional seasoning and cook for 1-2 min. (Drain fat, if desired.)  Add marinara and liquid to pan and bring to a simmer. Add ravioli and let simmer until ravioli is tender and sauce slightly thickens, 10-13 minutes.
2- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta and egg and season with salt and pepper. Drop spoonfuls of ricotta mixture all over the ravioli, make holes in the dish and plop some in, and let cook 3 minutes.
3- Sprinkle mozzarella and parm all over, then transfer skillet to oven and broil until cheese is golden, 3 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve.

Sometimes I get in a rut and just make what's easy, but everyone seems to be getting tired of spaghetti, tacos and stroganoff, so in the spirit of branching out, I'm going to try a few things that sound good.  Of course, they will have my spin on them but let's see how it goes...

Prep Time: 20 minutes/Cook Time: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. chicken breast or tenders.  For a quicker recipe, use a rotisserie chicken or previously grilled.
1 tsp. Lawry’s Season Salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (thyme, oregano, basil - combined)
5 medium tomatoes, chopped in large cubes or 1 14.5oz. can diced tomatoes.
1 cup cooked spinach (1 box frozen, cooked per directions)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/3 cups Half& Half
1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
10 oz. penne pasta cooked per directions
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

1. In a large skillet, on high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add chicken and cook on one side on high heat for 1 minute. While it cooks, sprinkle the uncooked sides of the chicken with paprika and Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over, and cook on the other side for 1 minute on high heat. Reduce heat to medium, flip chicken over again and cook, covered, for several minutes until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from the pan and keep chicken warm.
2.To the same pan (but without chicken), add chopped tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, half of the chicken (sliced into small strips) and half the bacon (already cooked and drained of fat). Mix everything.
3. Add Half& Half and bring to boil. Only after Half & Half starts boiling, add grated Parmesan cheese - immediately reduce to simmer and stir, while simmering, until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, only about 2-3 minutes. Then, immediately remove from heat. Season with more crushed red pepper and salt, if needed.
4. In the meantime bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water and drain again.
5. Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Add remaining half of bacon (cooked and drained of fat) and chicken. Season with more salt if necessary. Be careful not to over-stir and break up the pasta. To serve, top the pasta grated Parmesan cheese.

This turned out pretty damn good, if I do say so for my damn self!  The recipe makes about 4 good servings with enough for left overs.

I have also made this with various additions of veggies, cheese, pasta etc. Very versatile!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tasty Breads

We planted a garden this year, hoping for some summer-time abundance and I have mixed emotions on the outcome.  The cherry tomatoes did very well, the two other beefsteak tomato plants I planted have each yielded two marginal looking yet very tasty tomatoes total...that's right two plants, and two f-ing tomatoes.  The one zucchini plant we have gave us plenty of zucchini, for what we eat and quite a few to spare, consequently I needed to find a use for them...Zucchini Bread!
This is a pretty damn good recipe if I do say so my damn self...


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 ¼ cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)
Crumb Topping:
½ cup quick oats
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup butter (soft or melted)

Grease and flour three 4” x 8” pans. Preheat oven to 325° F.
Combine ingredients for the crumb topping and set aside.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined.
Pour batter into prepared pans and top with crumb topping.
Bake for 50-60 minutes in a convection oven (or about 60-75 minutes in a regular oven), or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 10-15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool (I recommend cutting yourself a few pieces, slathering them with butter and eating them with reckless abandon when you remove the loaf from the pan).
Bread will freeze well, and keep in refrigerator for weeks.

Since I have had a little extra time on my hands, I have been doing quite a bit of baking in addition to the normal cooking I do.

My banana bread recipe is pretty good as well...


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: Makes one+ loaf.  I recommend doubling the recipe and making three 4"x8" loaves.

No need for a mixer for this recipe! Clean-up is easy too, if you want, you can mix everything in one bowl.  The best bananas to use for banana bread are those that are over-ripe. The yellow peels should be at least half browned, and the bananas inside squishy and browning.

2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup of sugar (can easily use 3/4 cup, or drop it down to 1/2 cup if you want it less sweet)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Crumb Topping:
½ cup quick oats
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup butter (soft or melted)

-Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter and flour two 4x8-inch loaf pans.
-In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork (or paddle attachment) until smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.
-Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract.
-Mix the baking soda and salt with the flour. Mix in the flour mixture.
-Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pans. I suggest putting the pans on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow or falling crumb topping.  
-Bake for ~45 minutes at 350°F, then add Crumb Topping to each of the loaves.  Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 15-25 minutes (total of 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes) until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
-Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. Remove the banana bread from the pan. Slice and serve. (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren't crumbly.)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Grilled Fish and Fish Tacos

Lauren & Austin just went deep sea fishing with Austin's family and caught about 60lbs. of fish.

Great way to use the Salmon - some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and the Halibut is in the following ways:

Fish Tacos
In a gallon Ziploc bag, combine the following and shake well to incorporate:
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper/Mrs. Dash
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
½ tsp. Chili Powder
1 small can Mild, Fire Roasted Green chilies
Dried Parsley Flakes
Lemon/Lime Zest
Juice of 1/2 Lemon/Lime - Fresh
Fresh Chives - cut into 1/8 in. pieces
¼ cup Beer (Pilsner) or water
¼ cup Olive Oil to lightly cover

Add the fish to marinade and let sit for ~1hr. Refrigerate if going to marinade for longer than an hour.
After fish has marinated, remove plastic bag and place, skin side down, on the grill. Grill fish (lid down) on skin side for about 3 minutes, then flip to flesh side down.  Allow to cook for another 3 minutes.  Flip again and 'test' for doneness – most fish is ready with an internal temp of ~140°.  Depending on the thickness of the fillet, it could use another minute or so.  When pressed with your finger, flesh should have some slight resistance but not be hard to the touch (overdone).  Remove fish from grill, put on a serving platter and tent with foil for about 6-7 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges, fresh corn tortillas, sliced cabbage, your choice of sauce and enjoy!

Grilled Salmon

Salmon Marinade
I use large, relatively thick fillets of Salmon (2+ pounds), skin on, when I grill this family favorite.
Heat a clean grill on high to about 400º, and oil grill lightly before putting fish on.
The "marinade" should only be on the fish for about an hour before grilling.  Any longer and the salt and citrus will cook it and make the meat tough and dry.

Apply to the flesh side of the fish:
Lawry's Seasoning
Lemon Pepper/Mrs. Dash
Dried Parsley Flakes
Lemon/Lime Zest
Juice of 1/2 Lemon/Lime - Fresh
Fresh Chives - cut into 1/8 in. pieces
[Optional - Spritz of Beer (Pilsner) to lightly coat]
Drizzle of Olive Oil to lightly cover

Lightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for a while.  After fish has marinated, remove plastic and place, skin side down, on the grill. Grill salmon (lid down) on skin side for about 5 minutes, then flip to flesh side down.  Allow to cook for another 5 minutes.  Flip again and 'test' for doneness – most fish is ready with an internal temp of ~140°.  Depending on the thickness of the fillet, it could use another minute or so.  When pressed with your finger, flesh should have some slight resistance but not be hard to the touch (overdone).  Remove salmon from grill, put on a serving platter and tent with foil for about 6-7 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dry-Aged Standing Rib Roast - Prime Rib

Dry-Aged Standing Rib Roast w/Au Jus

1 (4-bone-in) standing rib roast, preferably from the loin end
1 Tbsp. Lawry's Season Salt
1 Tbsp. Horseradish
1 Tbsp. Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. Fresh garlic - crushed
1 Tbsp. Fresh rosemary - finely chopped
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
4 sage leaves

Remove any plastic wrapping or butcher's paper from the roast. Place the standing rib roast upright onto a half sheet pan fitted with a rack. The rack is essential for drainage. Place dry towels loosely on top of the roast. This will help to draw moisture away from the meat. Place into a refrigerator at approximately 50 to 60 percent humidity and between 34 and 38 degrees F. You can measure both with a refrigerator thermometer. Change the towels daily for 3 days.

Remove the roast from the refrigerator and let sit for at least 2 hours to come up to room temperature. While roast is coming up to temp, combine all ingredients for Rub in a separate bowl.  Completely cover the roast with Rub.  Remember to rub the bones as well.

Preheat oven to 250°F.  Place the roast in a roasting pan.  Place a probe thermometer into the center of the roast and set for 115°F.  Turn the oven down to 225°F and roast until internal temperature is achieved (around 30 min./lb. of roast).

If you have a convection oven, use Convection Roast at 225°F and the crust will be perfect and you won't have to blast it at the end.

Remove the roast and turn oven up to 500°F.  Cover with heavy-duty foil. Allow the roast to rest until an internal temperature of 125°F is reached.  Place the roast back into the preheated 500°F oven for about 10 minutes or until you've achieved your desired crust.  Remove and transfer roast to a cutting board. Keep covered with foil until ready to serve (at least 15 min).

Degrease the juices in the roasting pan.  Use grease for Yorkshire Pudding.  Place the pan over low heat and deglaze with 1 cup of water.  Add the wine and reduce by half.  Roll the sage leaves in between your fingers to release the flavors and aroma.  Add to the sauce and cook for 1 minute.  Strain and serve on the side.

Best Braised Pork Ever - Comfort Food 101

I have been trying to perfect a good braised pork recipe for a while now, and I think I may have done it.  Whether served over rice, mashed potatoes or pasta (egg noodles, penne, etc.) this is comfort food at its best - and it's pretty damn easy, just takes a long time in the oven...

Serves: 4 with leftovers
Prep Time: 20 min. Cook Time: 3 hours

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
4 fresh thyme stems, 4 fresh oregano stems tied w/a string.  Or use ~1 tsp. dried leaves of each.
2 bay leaves
1 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms.  Transfer the pork to a plate.
2. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it.  Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor.  Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half.

3. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, herb stems, and bay leaves.  Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork.  Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours.  I suggest stirring everything after 1 ½ hrs. to make sure nothing is sticking on the bottom of the Dutch oven.

4. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.  Transfer to a serving platter and serve over your choice of rice, pasta (egg noodles, penne, etc.), or tasty mashed potatoes.

Spring - with a hint of winter...Welcome to Utah!

This is a weird time of year in Utah, 70°F one day and then snow the next.  Not sure what to wear, eat, do outside, do inside, it's a real quandary (I know, not a word I usually use but seemed to fit).
So, in trying to eat healthier and still have a relatively quick weeknight meal, I'm trying to use a lot of chicken thighs. Let's face it, more tasty, less expensive and can take overcooking if it happens.  This dish combines the comfort quality of roasted chicken with the spring-time ingredients of asparagus and white wine.  We served this over white rice with a salad, but you can serve it however you would like!
Yield:  4 servings

1 3- to 4-lb. chicken, trimmed and cut into 8 pieces, or 8 bone-in, skin-on thighs
Lawry’s Season Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, halved and then sliced thin
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut in half
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/3 c. low-sodium chicken stock
1/3 c. dry white wine (or double the chicken stock if not using wine)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse and dry chicken thoroughly, then generously season with salt and pepper. Massage 2 tablespoons butter over and under the skin.
2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic and onion and sauté until soft, careful not to burn garlic. Place chicken skin side up on top of vegetables (avoid overlapping chicken) and roast until internal temperature is 165°F, 30 minutes – If using convection roast, time should be around 20 min. and if you desire crispier skin, finish chicken under broiler.
3. Transfer chicken to a plate to rest and cover loosely with aluminum foil.  Return skillet with onion and pan drippings to the stove.  Add stock and wine and season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then add asparagus and mushrooms.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape bottom of pan to release brown bits.  Reduce temperature and simmer until asparagus is almost fork tender, 5 minutes. Add remaining butter and stir into sauce.
4. Add chicken and juices back to skillet and spoon sauce over chicken.  Put dish back in oven for about 5-6 min. for everything to come up to temp.  Sprinkle with sea salt and garnish with parsley. Serve over rice/potatoes/pasta.

Dessert First...Almond Torte

Not really being a baker, pastry chef, etc. I usually like to stick to things I can do with the ingredients I can find in whatever portion I think works best.  For me, measuring properly then baking exactly usually tends to be more of a pain in the ass than is worth it.
However, in my old age I have found a soft spot in my heart for baking certain things...
One of those is a dessert that a friend of ours brought over and we devoured in about 25 minutes; and to top it off, it's very easy.  This almond torte is great with coffee, after dinner, midnight snack...Whatever!

¾ cup Sugar
1 cube Butter, softened
2 Eggs
¾ cup AP Flour
¼ tsp. Almond extract
¼ tsp. Vanilla extract
Slivered Almonds

Preheat oven (preferably Convection) to 325°F, and grease and flour an 8” round baking dish
Cream sugar, butter and eggs together until well incorporated.
Mix in flour, almond and vanilla extracts and mix well.
Pour into prepped baking dish, sprinkle with slivered almonds and put in oven, in a water bath.
Bake for 45 min. or until golden brown on top. A toothpick in the middle should come out clean.

Wait as long as you can for it to cool, then slice and enjoy!!!

Bulgogi Beef

BULGOGI (Korean BBQ Beef)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook Time: 5 minutes
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups beer
2 cups soy sauce
2 cups white sugar
½ cup sesame oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
½ Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger/powder
½ Tbsp. onion powder
pinch Korean red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
2 pounds rib eye steaks, thinly sliced crosswise into ⅛-inch slices
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Toasted white and black sesame seeds, for garnish
Steamed white rice, for serving
Kimchi, for serving
Note: Sprinkle meat with baking soda and let sit for 1 hour or so.  Rinse well then proceed...
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and onion powders and Korean red pepper flakes until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the sliced rib eye and let marinate for 1 hour.
2. In a large cast-iron pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat.  Drain the meat, set aside marinade. Working in batches, cook the meat, flipping once, until caramelized and golden, 1-2 minutes per side. 
You can also grill the meat for a smokier flavor. Transfer to a platter.
4. While meat is cooking, reduce marinade for ~10-15 minutes to serve over dish.
3. Garnish the bulgogi with the scallions, sesame seeds and more pepper flakes, then serve with steamed rice and kimchi.

I have had Bulgogi on many occasions, beef sliced thin and piled over rice.  This recipe uses larger pieces of meat and in my opinion is much more satisfying.  The marinade can also be used for Korean Short Ribs.

Family Favorites - Chicken Tortilla

½            Onion, chopped
1              Garlic clove, chopped
1T           Canola Oil
2              Chicken breasts, shredded (Rotisserie, grilled, whatever way you wish to cook it)
½ t         Salt and Pepper (S&P) - to taste
1t             Cumin – to taste
¼ c         Chicken Stock/White Wine/Milk - more or less to thin consistency of the sauce
2              Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1              Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
2              Cans of Ortega Roasted and Diced Green Chiles
Layer Items…
12            Corn Tortillas cut into pieces (about 2”X2” or so)
1 lb.        Grated or Shredded Cheddar/Jack/Pepper Jack any combination of cheese
In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in oil until fragrant, about 2 min.
Stir in Chicken and cook for about 1 min. 
Add Chicken Stock/White Wine to deglaze pan and sauté for approx. 2 min until it reduces a little. 
Add cumin, S&P, soups and green chiles. 
Stir, warming/cooking for about 2-3 min.  Add more seasoning to taste, if needed.
Assembly and Cooking…
In a Dutch Oven, add a little of the sauce to cover the bottom.  Add a layer of Tortillas, then spoon/ladle in a layer of sauce, then a layer of cheese.  Repeat until the sauce is gone and you have a layer of cheese on top.
Cook in a 350° oven, covered for about 30 min. until the middle of the casserole is bubbling.  Remove lid and cook for an additional 10 min. until cheese is a little browned and bubbly.
 Over white rice, with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, lime wedges, avocado, sour cream, salsa, whatever you like to make it more or less “South of the Border".

PETA Chili

Halloween is not necessarily one of my favorite holidays, but I do celebrate with Chili for those who come around.  Even members of the local church come by for their Halloween Fix.

I call it PETA Chili, (NOT after my least favorite spin on a piased, self righteous, irrational group), my version stands for "People Eating Tasty Animals".  Nine pounds of meat and seven hours to make, it's pretty damn good if I do say so my damn self!
Here's the recipe:
PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) Chili
6 Tbs. Oil or Lard
2 Cups Chicken Broth
4 lb. Pork, cubed approx. ¼ - ½ in.
3 lb. Beef, Cubed approx. ¼ - ½ in.
2 lb. Ground Turkey
12 oz. Beer – Pilsner type, Domestic if desired i.e.: MGD, or Mexican i.e.: Pacifico or Mexicali
7 Cups Peeled, chopped tomatoes
¼ Cup finely chopped celery (~1 med. Stalk)
2 tsp. Sugar
3 Cans Orgega diced green chiles
3 tsp. Ground Oregano
3 tsp. Ground Cumin
3 tsp. Fine Black Pepper
4 tsp. Salt
5 Tbs. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Fresh Cilantro (~ ¼ Bunch Chopped)
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme (~ 6 Sprigs Chopped)
6 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2 Cups Purple Onion, diced (~1 large)
1 Cup Red Pepper, diced (~1 medium)
1 lb. Monterey Jack Cheese
Limes – cut into wedges for use immediately before eating
Sour Cream

In a 2 gallon pot, simmer the chicken broth while preparing remaining ingredients.
In a 2 quart saucepan combine celery, tomatoes and sugar.  Simmer 1 ½ hours, or until all ingredients are completely tender.
Put the following into 12 oz. of beer and stir until all lumps are dissolved: Oregano, Cumin, Black Pepper, Salt, Chili Powder, Cilantro and Thyme.
Add tomato mixture, chiles, beer mixture, and 3 cloves garlic to broth in the 2 gallon pot.  Stir with a wooden spoon and bring to a low simmer.
Note: When browning the meat, use 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, salt and pepper.
Brown pork in a skillet with about 2 Tbs oil.  With a medium size skillet, it is advisable to brown only half at a time.  The pork should become white on all sides and fully separated.  Do not overcook at this point.  Add pork to the 2 gallon pot and bring to a low boil for about 30 min – pork needs a ½ hour start on the beef and ground turkey.
Brown turkey in a skillet with about 1 Tbs oil.  Add turkey to the 2 gallon pot.
With the balance of the oil, brown the beef.  With a medium size skillet, it is advisable to brown only half at a time.  The beef should become white on all sides and fully separated.  Do not overcook at this point.  Add beef to the 2 gallon pot and bring to a low boil for about an hour.
Add chopped onions and peppers and cook at a low boil for about 2 – 3 hours, stirring with a wooden spoon every 15 – 20 min.
Remove the Chili from the stove and allow to cool for about 1 hour.
After Chili is cool, refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the spices to permeate the meat and the flavors to meld.
Reheat and serve or can be frozen in freezer Ziplocs.
About five minutes before serving, grate the Monterey Jack and add to the chili.  Stir with a wooden spoon until completely dissolved.  If only reheating part of the chili, use about 1 oz. per serving (to desired taste).
At service, add the juice of one large lime or two small limes for the whole pot.  Individual servings can be served on the side for use immediately before eating.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and Oyster Crackers, saltines, Sourdough French Bread or your favorite rolls/bread.

The Great Sonoma Secret...Marinated Chicken

Growing up in the small town of Sonoma, California, we had a lot of activities that centered around the Plaza and the whole town got involved.
One of the things I remembered from a July Celebration in the town was the marinated turkey roasted over hot coals in big pits at the Plaza and then passed out on paper plates (I'm sure they sold it, but as a kid I just remember eating it, not the transaction involved in getting it on the plate).
My parents were friends with the guy who ran the turkey ranch for Nicholas Turkey Farms (more on Nicholas later) who supplied the turkey, and after a lot of pestering he told me the recipe for the marinade - Soy Sauce, 7-Up, Oil and a secret ingredient.
For years I tried to duplicate this marinade, trying herbs, spices, garlic, anything I could think of...it was close, but I could never get it to taste like I remembered.  Then, one day it dawned on me...we lived in Sonoma, in the heart of Wine Country...yep...WINE Country.
So, with equal parts (1 cup) Soy Sauce, Canola Oil, Chardonnay and a can of 7-Up I ventured out to marinade the turkey, then grill it over an open flame...PERFECTION!
This marinade works well with all poultry, but has a better flavor with the dark meat.

1 cup Canola Oil
1 cup Soy Sauce
1 cup White wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.)
1 can 7-Up (I prefer 7-Up to Sprite or any of the other shitty alternatives)

In a large container with a lid, mix all ingredients.
Add your favorite poultry to the container, making sure the marinade covers the meat entirely.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and for as much as 24 hours.  Make sure to stir everything every so often as the marinade does tend to separate and the meat at the bottom will be darker due to the soy sauce if you let it sit for too long.

Now about Nicholas Turkey Breeding Farms...
Nicholas bred and raised turkeys for commercial distribution on farms throughout California.  Many of us high school students worked for Nicholas at various times in our high school career.  I personally worked in the hatchery located in town, doing anything from maintenance and cleaning to eventually working my way up to delivering of the baby poults to the farms.
Anyway...Nicolas was known for producing award winning turkeys and bred their turkeys with extremely large breasts, sometimes two to three times the industry standard.   Now you know!


Monday, April 10, 2017

Chicken Broccoli

This is an all-time family favorite that Parker still asks for as his Birthday Dinner...


½ Onion, chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped
1 Tbsp. Canola or Olive Oil
2 cooked Chicken breasts (approx. 1 lb.), cubed.  Rotisserie, grilled, however you wish to cook it
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash - to taste
½ tsp. ground Coriander
¼ cup Chicken Stock/White Wine/Milk - more or less to thin consistency of the sauce
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Cup Mayonnaise (may need to add more to taste)
1 lb. Broccoli steamed or blanched
1 ½ to 2 lbs. Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Jack or whatever you like)
Plain bread toasted and diced into croutons to cover the top of the casserole (I lay the bread out in the pan before toasting so I’m sure I have enough)
1 cube butter - melted

In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in oil until fragrant, about 3-4 min.
Stir in Chicken and cook for about 2 min. to warm through.
Add Chicken Stock/White Wine to deglaze pan and sauté for approx. 2 min until it reduces a little. 
Add Mrs. Dash, Coriander, S&P, soup and mayo. 
Stir, warming/cooking for about 2-3 min.  Add more seasoning to taste, if needed.
Line the bottom of a 9X13X2 pan with broccoli.  Pour sauce over the broccoli and make sure it mixes in around the pieces.  Top with a layer of cheese, then the croutons, then pour the melted butter over the croutons on top of the casserole.
Bake at 350°F for approx. 35-45 min. until you see it bubbling in the middle.
Serve over white rice.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Grilled Chicken & Raviolis

Since I have been grilling a lot of chicken for use during the week, I have been looking for good recipes that are quick and simple.  This one is not only both quick and simple, but gives you a burst of Summertime as well...I have been using the refrigerated Tortellini lately and they work great!

Grilled Chicken Breast with Raviolis and Citrus Cream Sauce

Grilled chicken - ~1 breast per person
1 Stick butter - melted
3 Sprigs Rosemary - finely chopped
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 Lemon - Juice and zest of ~1/4 of lemon
1/2 c White wine or Chicken Broth
1/2 c Heavy cream
Fresh ground pepper to taste.
1 pkg. fresh Cheese Raviolis or Tortellini

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then add chopped rosemary.
Stir in flour just to make sure sauce will slightly thicken.
Add in lemon juice, zest, pepper and white wine.  Reduce slightly ~2 min. then add cream.
Gently simmer until the sauce is thickened and heated through stirring often to make sure the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

Cook raviolis per package and serve on a platter/large pasta bowl.

Slice chicken to desired thickness, and spread neatly over raviolis, then pour sauce over chicken and raviolis.  Garnish with thinly sliced lemon pieces and a couple of sprigs of rosemary.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sprintime in Utah...

I love Spring in Utah...we emerge from the blanket of cold, snow, ice, inversion to days of relative warmth and sunshine.  Every year, our chives come back the same as they always do...
...peaking through the snow, until one day here they are!  We have had these for 15 years. Very Cool!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Deep thoughts...Preparation v. Practice

“To cook or fix some food, is not preparation; it is practice....Whatever we do, it should be an expression of the same deep activity. We should appreciate what we are doing. There is no preparation for something else.”- Dogen (1200-1252)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Easy Mushroom, Parmesan Risotto

I have been looking for a good Risotto recipe for a long time now, but everything I have found is very time consuming and a real pain in the ass to stand over a stove for an hour stirring, adding, etc.

Sooo...I found three recipes* that sounded good, made some of my usual adjustments and voilà, here we go:

Total: 1 hr.           Active: 10 min
Yield:  8 to 10 servings 

Note: Recipe can be cut in half with no problem.  You can also do this on the stovetop as long as you have a heavy-bottom Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid.

2 cups Arborio rice
6 cups simmering chicken stock, low sodium, divided
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil, divided
1 large shallot, diced, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 lb. fresh Portobello and cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped, divided
1 ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup dry white wine, divided ½ & ¼ .
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ½ shallot and 2 cloves garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the fresh mushrooms, ¼ cup wine, herbs and 1 Tbsp. butter.  Sauté until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

Coat a Dutch Oven with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil.  Sauté the remaining ½ shallot and garlic cloves.  Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute.  This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking.  Stir in ½ cup wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.

Add Bay leaf and 5 cups of the chicken stock to the Dutch oven.  Stir to combine well.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.  If cooking on the stovetop, bring mixture to a slight boil then cover and simmer on low for ~35-40 minutes, stirring half way through the process.

Remove from the oven, take out the Bay leaf, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, mushroom mixture, butter, salt and pepper to taste, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Top with chopped parsley and serve hot.

*Recipe compiled/adapted from Ina Garten, Tyler Florence, Giada De Laurentiis (Easy Parmesan ‘Risotto’, Mushroom Risotto, Mushroom Risotto with Peas)

Might I add that baking the risotto in the oven made ALL of the difference in the world, and still came out perfectly!