Sautéed Flounder

Let’s start out with a healthy version of sautéed flounder over brown rice with some sautéed broccoli. I am trying to make things tasty and maybe a little lower in calories just for good measure! So let’s get started with this new one.

As you can see in the picture, here is a 4 oz portion of flounder I sautéed in a non stick pan with a little butter. I seasoned it with some salt and pepper along with some paprika for flavor and color.

saute flounder

It was served over a half a cup of some brown rice that was hanging around in the fridge along with a serving of broccoli that was sautéed with some salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice.

So I hope you guys stick around to see what else comes about, and I am always open for suggestions for whatever you want me to cook for you with or without a healthy spin on things.

finished flounder

Enjoy~

Baked Salmon

My wife does not like salmon so I thought I would serve her and her family some for dinner one night with the promise that she would like it. So here is how I did it.

Start with the freshest piece you can get. Next I cut the skin off just to make it easier to eat later.

First, I would rub the salmon with some soy sauce, this helps the spices stick to the salmon. Next would be the spices in this case it was white and black sesame seeds, granulated garlic, pepper and some powdered ginger. Push the spice mixture into the flesh of the fish.

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Now here is the kicker, pour maple syrup all over everything and let it sit in overnight. You don’t need a fancy or expensive maple syrup. I also use it on pork loins when I smoke them. This will marinate the fish and help take away that “fishy” taste that my wife and her family don’t like. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

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The next day let the fish come to room temperature, pour off the marinade and cook in a 300F degree oven until the flesh gently pulls apart.

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Everyone said they liked it very much and it must have been true because there was none left!

Enjoy ~

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Once again rummaging through the fridge, looking for some sort of inspiration for dinner, I found a little ham and cheese that was left over from making sandwiches earlier in the week and I knew I had some chicken in the freezer. So I said to myself, Let’s have stuffed chicken for dinner tonight along with some brown rice and some vegetable. So here is how I made chicken cordon bleu that night.

  •  I took the chicken breasts out of the freezer and defrosted them under some running cold water.

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  • Using some doubled over plastic wrap, I carefully pounded the chicken breast until it was really thin. Then dredged it in some seasoned bread crumbs and set them aside.

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  • As you can see in the picture, the black forest ham is twice the size of the smoked Gouda cheese, but the cheese is twice as thick as the ham because I like it gooey.

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  • Fold the ham over the cheese and place it on one side of the pounded chicken breast, then fold the chicken over the ham so the chicken kinda seals the open part of the ham. This will help keep the cheese inside the chicken breast while it cooks. If you want you can use tooth picks to help keep the chicken together.

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  • Cook over a medium heat until golden brown about three to four minutes then carefully turn over to cook the other side for about the same amount of time.

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If you want, place the chicken on a pan and place it in the oven to keep warm while you make the rest of them, that is, if you have a big family or cooking for a lot of people.

 

~Enjoy

Baked Chicken

I knew that I would be out all day at the street fair Saturday with my wife and her family. They all were coming over for dinner after so I wanted to get some of this stuff done before hand. On Wednesday I went to the store and got six whole chickens, cut the spines out and seasoned them liberally on both sides with a mixture of salt, pepper, dried chili flakes, paprika, granulated garlic and onion powder as you can see here. I wrapped them up and put in the fridge overnight.

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The following day I took the chickens out of the fridge, let them come to room temperature and par baked them in a 350F oven for 50 minutes and until they registered 160F on a meat thermometer. I know that they would carry over to 165F degrees, the safe temperature for cooked chicken. I let them cool on the counter for about an hour. Then I consolidated them in one 2 inch baking dish, wrapped them and put them in the fridge for Saturday where I would finish cooking them on the grill.

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Oh boy they were great!

Beef Eye Round

Once again we were having a few people over and this time they mentioned that they have never tried an eye round cut of beef. So I said bring some red wine over and I’ll show you what to do and we will put it on the rotisserie and enjoy the sun set! So we headed to the kitchen and here is what we did.

First, take the meat out of the plastic it’s wrapped in, I like to rinse off the blood, plus it makes it less slippery when you are handling it.

Trim off the silver skin but try to leave the fat strip intact. While cooking, the fat will melt and baste the meat as it spins around.

Fire up the rotisserie burner, close the lid and preheat the grill for twenty minutes.

This is where I cheat a little; I already have marked the rod so I know where the meat should be and I season the meat on the grill because it keeps the mess out of the kitchen and whatever doesn’t stick just falls into the grill anyway.

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So I rub some oil on the meat, slather on some finely chopped garlic and some Montreal Steak seasoning outside, then check that it spins freely.

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Forget about it for about an hour. After an hour take a meat thermometer and insert it in the middle of the meat ½ way between the outside and the rod in the center. You are looking for about 110F degrees if you like rare meat. If you test out at 110F turn off the burner but let the meat keep spinning for about 20 minutes. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the meat so when you slice it the juices don’t leak out onto the cutting board.

Honestly I think I served the meat with some basmati rice, some grilled vegetables and some fresh homemade horseradish sauce. Good friends, good conversation and good wine led me to forget to take a finished picture after all. Trust me it was delicious!

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Enjoy ~

 

Homemade Spring Rolls

On the way home from having lunch with my wife, I noticed that there was a new oriental market that opened up by her office, so I swung by to check it out. It was a nice little place and the owners were very helpful. I had been on a quest for rice paper for a while checking the local supermarkets without finding any. This place had a few to choose from so spring rolls were on the menu for dinner. So let’s roll on in on how to make them.

As you can see I picked up some crab meat from the store, along with some bean sprouts and Thai basil. I julienned some carrots and sliced some romaine lettuce somewhat thin to go inside the rolls.

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With everything all laid out nicely the tricky part starts now, softening the rice paper sheets. There are two ways of going about this task. One way is the long soak in cold water; the other is the quick soak in hot water. This part is totally up to you, but remember, there is only a limited amount of time to make and roll it. I prefer warmish water for a medium soak. This leaves the sheet somewhat firm yet flexible while you are working with it. Practice with a few using one ingredient, like the carrot sticks, until you are comfortable wrapping them up in a tight roll.

I find it easiest to roll them on a wood cutting board; they tend to stick to the counter top. Plus, you can leave the leading edge hanging off the board to make it easier to pick up and roll. Dip the rice paper in the bowl of water for however long you choose.

Place the wrapper in front of you. Imagine a clock on the face of the rice paper. Place the ingredients in a line as if you were filling the face of a clock between 4 & 5 o’clock across to between 7 & 8 o’clock. Now bring the 6 o’clock flap, which was hanging off the board, up and over the ingredients and roll tightly a little bit towards 12 o’clock.

Now take the sides and fold them towards the center, making a tight package encasing the ingredients. Continue rolling to 12 o’clock position. Right before you totally roll it, stop and rewet the top of the roll so the flap really sticks to the roll. Hopefully you will end up with something like the picture below.

rolled spring role

I got the first one done and I realized I had no dipping sauce!!! You could go out and get some sweet chili sauce in a bottle, but that’s not for me. I want spicy peanut dipping sauce!

In another bowl combine 2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce & water and however much ground cayenne power and black pepper you can stand. We like it hot! If the sauce is still too thick, keep adding water to thin it out to your liking. Adjust the heat to your liking also.

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Make the rest of the rolls and keep them in the refrigerator covered until you are ready to eat them.

That night we had the Spring Rolls along with the spicy peanut dipping sauce and a chilled bottle of Sake that was recommended by the owners of the shop. A very nice end to a great day.

springroll cut

Enjoy ~

Eggplant Parmesan

My wife brought home an eggplant from the farmer’s market a few days ago and asked I make a meal without meat this week. I was in the mood for pasta anyway so here is what I did.

While making dinner the night before, I took the eggplant sliced it about ¼ of an inch thick, sprinkled some table salt on both sides and laid the circles on a wire rack over a sheet pan, covered it and placed it in the fridge overnight. The reason for doing this is to “sweat” the bitter juices out of the eggplant. I feel this really helps the flavor of the eggplant come through better and be less bitter.

The next day I took the eggplant out of the fridge, quickly rinsed the salt off the circles, dipped them in flour, then egg wash and then in seasoned bread crumbs.

I fried them in a large non stick pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Set those aside on a wire rack to cool.

Now let’s build the stack. Start with some of your tomato sauce on the bottom of a pan that can go in the oven. That’s so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Then place an eggplant disk on top of the sauce. Top that, in my case with some left over pesto sauce and some tomato sauce and on top of that, some mozzarella cheese. Repeat 3 or 4 more times. Make sure not to put the cheese on the top layer just yet.

Set the oven to 325F. Place the eggplant stack in the oven for about 20-25 minutes to cook while you are boiling the pasta to go with the meal. After the stack is thoroughly heated, pull it out and top with some more of the mozzarella cheese and leave it in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted.

Pour yourself a nice glass of Italian red wine, sit down and eat your Italian feast.

Eggplant Parm

Enjoy~

 

Baked Hake Loins

We were at Costco and my wife was in the mood for white fish for dinner. Her being from the North East area I though some Hake fillets would be a good choice because they are like Cod.

So a simple preparation was called for, so here we go!

Simply rinsed off the loins, brushed them with melted butter, dusted them with plenty of Old Bay seasoning and then covered them with some Italian bread crumbs.

old bay hake

Popped them in our convection oven set at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes or just until the fish flakes apart when poked with a fork.

Served them with some black rice and sautéed broccoli.

baked hake w/ black rice

A little taste of New England really easy and really good. . . Enjoy ~

Arroz con Pollo

In English, chicken & rice, another good cold weather meal that makes the house smell so good and is relatively easy to make. So here we go.

I started with bone in chicken thighs that I generously salted and peppered and cooked skin side down first in a heavy pot until golden brown and then took them out and set them aside on a plate for a few minutes.

salt pepper chicken browned

While the chicken was cooking, I cut up 2 medium onions, 1 of each green and yellow peppers into medium-sized pieces. Once the chicken was out of the pot, leave the fat that has collected in the bottom. Add to it the onions and peppers plus two tablespoons of each tomato paste and chopped garlic and cook for about two minutes. At this time I added 2 cups of brown rice instead of the usual white.

cut up veges

cooking veges

added rice to veges

Now for the secret ingredient, I had some saffron in the cabinet so I threw in a very health pinch of it. You don’t have to but it just gives the dish an indescribable flavor coupled with the brown rice.

Now that everything is coated and stirred around with the oil from the bottom of the pot add your 5 cups of chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil. After it boils reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken back to the pot and put the lid on. Now the hard part, you have to wait about 40 minutes or so until the rice cooks. For the brown rice it takes almost an hour. Taste the rice to make sure it is done. Also you will see the chicken resting on a bed of rice in the pot. By then the chicken is cooked all the way through.

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Here are few shots of the juicy chicken on top of a bed of rice with all the soft and flavorful vegetables mixed in. Go pour yourself another glass of wine and dig into the goodness.

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arroz con pollo 2

Enjoy~

Smoked Pork

Take a 7 pound pork shoulder or also known as Boston butt, score the top fat in a checkerboard fashion and rub some of your favorite rub, or the one below, all over the meat.  Wrap up very well with plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator for 24 hours. This will allow the rub to penetrate deeply into the meat to give it good flavor when it comes time to cook it.

The rub for this meat: 1 cup of each white and brown sugar; 3/4 cup of paprika; 1/2 cup of each chili powder, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, 1/4 cup of ground cumin, granulated onion. Mix together and store in an air tight container.

seasoned pork

Set the smoker up for 225F and as a rule of thumb, it ends up being 2 hours per pound for this temp. If you need it done faster turn up smoker to 275F for about 1.5 hours per pound.

I also recommend having a digital meat thermometer with probe and cable, place it in the meat before starting to smoke it so you can track the internal temperature of the meat.

I started mine morning at 6 am with a mixture of apple wood and cherry wood chips that I soaked overnight. Went about my day cleaned the pool, went out shopping, needed potatoes to make potato salad to go with dinner, had lunch, hung out with my lovely wife, cut the grass, tended to the garden and then cooled off in the pool later that afternoon with a beer.

About 7:30 pm the meat thermometer started to ring. I set it to 195F. I open the door and what a beautiful sight and smells came racing out of the smoker! To make sure that it was truly cooked and soft I use the famous Stick a fork in it Method. Stab the meat with a fork and spin it around, if it spins freely then you really done because all meat has different thickness and densities. If the fork didn’t spin freely, it would go back in maybe for another half an hour or so until it would.

cooking pork

Now take the meat inside and cover it with aluminum foil for 1/2 hour to let the meat rest and the juices to absorb back into the meat.

cooked pork

After it rests take the bone out and with two forks shred the meat apart, but be careful it will be very hot!

pork pulled

Toast up some buns on the grill, get the potato salad out of the fridge along with your favorite BBQ sauce sit back and enjoy what you have smelt all day along with a beautiful sun set by the pool.

finished pulled pork plate

Enjoy