Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brownies....by special request






















Your request is my demand...brownies it 'tis ladies and gents!

Grab a glass of milk and get ready!

Back in the day... a long, long time ago, I was asked to stop submitting Brownies to the Henry County Fair as I had won far more than my share of Blue Ribbons!

Well, my brownies have improved over the years (as have I :) so at the request of a dear friend...here is my very BEST brownie recipe...WARNING...cheating is involved...

2 packages of your grocery favorite cake brownie mix plus ingredients as instructed (eggs, oil, etc.)

2 Hershey's Symphony bars (the very large bars)

Powdered Sugar to embellish.

Mix brownie mix according to package instructions ( or make from scratch if you have a family favorite batch recipe). Grease a 9x11 baking pan with non-stick baking spray, pour in 1/2 the brownie batter. Add Hershey Symphony bars (one beside the other), and top with the other 1/2 the brownie mix. Bake as directed on the brownie mix package. This should be "toothpick" done ... insert a toothpick in the center... it should come out clean with no batter marks = done!

Patience My Dear....let the brownies cool on a cooling rack until completely cool before cutting. Slice with a serrated knife then separate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to add to the sugar content and pretty appearance!

The candy bars in the middle are the secret to making these impossible to resist!

If you feel really wild, reheat the brownie in the microwave for 30 seconds, pair with Coffee Ice Cream (my all time fav) or Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or the flavor of your choice, drizzle with warmed store bought hot fudge sauce and honey...it is officially ... "Who Needs A Man" time ... yep, it's that dang good!

Ya'll brace yourselves and let me know if you have the same reaction :)

Chocolate Love Ladies & Gents!

P.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grilled Chicken...let me count the ways




















There it is - staring at you again tonight - that chicken...what to do with it?

Are you sick of the Italian Dressing marinade or slathering on the BBQ sauce? There must be hundreds of ways to grill chicken ... here are some of our favorites.

Patti's Chicken
Patti's Settlement in Grand Rivers, Kentucky makes a sauce that is just out of this world! A boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled with seasoned salt and pepper never found a better friend. You can order the sauce from Patti's website and it is well worth the effort (it's also fantastic on steaks).

Mediterranean Chicken
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar, a splash of olive oil, 1 tsp Seasoned Salt, 1 tsp crushed rosemary, 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, two medium tomatoes, pepper to taste. Whisk the vinegar and olive oil together, add salt, rosemary and pepper, whisk again until all are well blended. Slice the tomato into hearty slices, brush each with oil mixture and place on indirect grill with low heat. Using a separate brush, baste chicken breasts and put them over low heat on the grill. (NEVER use the same basting brush on meat that you use on veggies). Turn them all with tongs every 5 minutes or so, the tomatoes may cook faster so you may want to put them on after the chicken is half way done. Dinner in 20 minutes or so!

Beer Can Chicken
My husband is the cook for this particular dish ... and it's only fair since he graciously donated the can! Take a whole bird (about 4 lbs or so) - wash him (or her) and remove all the cracker jack surprises from within ... rub the bird with salt and pepper. Open the beer can with a can opener, you want then entire top open, then place the beer can - you guessed it - in between the legs ... they should "sit" on the can (there is just no lady like way to possibly describe that process)! Leaving the beer in the can (or at least part of one) makes steam and helps to retain moisture in the bird. Sit birds on your grill with a low flame, you can brush them with plain water for he first couple of hours then change to your favorite BBQ sauce (in Kentucky, they call it "DIP" - recipe to follow) for the last hour. It takes approximately 4 hours to cook until done(when you turn the leg bone, it should twist easily) that's how you know your bird is done. It's important to keep the bird moist during the cooking process, just baste it every 20 minutes or so and it will be fine.

Chinese Chicken
1/4 cup dry cooking sherry, 1Tbl Asian sesame oil, 1 Tsp of Chinese Five Spice powder, 1/4 Tsp of ground red cayenne pepper, 1/3 cup hoisin sauce, 1 Tbl soy sauce, 1 Tsp sesame seeds, 1 chicken, washed and cut (skin on or off for every piece except the wings - your preference). Mix sherry, oil ,Five Spice and cayenne pepper, toss chicken into a large zip lock bag and add the oil mixture to coat chicken well. Grill chicken on medium grill for 20 - 25 minutes, turning only once with clean tongs. Remove each piece as soon as it is done and put on a platter. Brush the cooked chicken with the hoisin and soy sauce mixture and return chicken to the grill for another 5 minutes (flip once) to let glaze bake onto the meat. Sprinkle meat with sesame seeds and serve.

Kentucky Chicken "DIP"
I had never ever heard of chicken dip until I moved to Owensboro, Kentucky. They guard these recipes closely and pass them from one generation to another. I asked and have "official" permission to share our recipe with you! 1 gal Worcestershire sauce, 1 gal white vinegar, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 2 cups of hot sauce, 1 hand full of black pepper, 1 hand full of salt, 2 lbs brown sugar, 1 lb butter, 1 bottle of catsup ... quite a list huh? Mix all of this in the biggest pot you can possibly get your hands on and boil it for 2 minutes. We do this in the deep fryer and boil it outside (it will smell up your house quickly). This yields 2 gallons of dip. Use a food mop (even Wal-Mart sells them) to baste your chickens. This will freeze and keep for a couple of months. Cut the recipe in half for a more manageable amount.

Grilled Vegetables




I love to make an entire dinner on the grill, less heat in the house and keeps my kitchen clean!

You can grill practically any vegetable - summer produces an abundance of fresh and delicious veggies, here are some of my absolute favs...



Grilled Corn

The fresher the better but frozen is fine if that's what you have on hand. Remove husk and silks, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Brush each ear with mayonnaise, just enough to lightly coat it...you should still be able to see the kernels then roll the corn in shredded Parmesan cheese (not the stuff you sprinkle on pizza - use real shredded Parmesan cheese). I know that mayonnaise and cheese sounds crazy but trust me, no one will ever guess if you don't tell them. Salt and pepper each ear and roll in heavy duty aluminum foil. Grill on low heat, turn every 10 minutes or so....cook in about 40 minutes. I leave mine on longer as I like it really dark - that's when all the natural sugars come out the most!



Grilled Asparagus

I have a real problem making this - I tend to eat it as fast as it comes off the grill so having some left to serve with dinner is my biggest challenge. Cut the tips off fresh asparagus (I can't do frozen and it is too slimy) place in a baking dish or large zip lock bag, sprinkle with olive oil, just a tiny amount, then season with salt and pepper. Grill on low flame for about 15 - 20 minutes. They should be cooked but still have some crunch. You don't want to over cook these. You might as well make a double batch, that way you can eat some right off the grill and still have some to share with everyone else! If you want to get all fancy, wrap some asparagus with pancetta or even a slice of regular bacon for a smokey stalk of grilled goodness.



Potato Bundles

This is a timeless substitute for the old faithful baked potato. Wash and slice Idaho potatoes or half those little new potatoes, place them on a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Season with pepper and season salt (or salt substitute like Mrs. Dash), put in one pat of butter and seal the package. Grill over low heat for half an hour. Nothing to clean up and we never have leftovers! If you have a crinkle slicer - these come out really cute!

Squash

One plant makes enough squash for us AND our neighbors...that's why they like us so much :) I love to just wash and slice them (about 1/3 inch thick) then place the slices in a big Tupperware box or large baking sheet. Sprinkle very sparingly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Then slide the slices onto metal skewers and grill over low heat. I brush them with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with a little more seasonings and turn the skewers every 7 minutes. They will start to brown on the edges in about 15 - 20 minutes. Slide off the skewer and serve.



Mix and Match

A good set of metal skewers is a summer necessity. You can mix your veggies and the presentation is so pretty. I like to use squash, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. You can use green onions, potatoes or what ever you have ... just be careful and don't poke yourself with those sharp skewers! Brush with olive oil or with butter, season and grill!









Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grilled Dessert













I always say, eat dessert first! Just think of all those ladies on the Titanic that were holding off ... now weren't they sorry :(





You can make some delicious desserts on the grill, just use your imagination!




I like using what ever is fresh in season and what ever is on hand in the house.


Peaches grill beautifully! Just wash them and pat them dry, remove the pit and put them on low heat on the grill, cut side down. Let them grill about 4 minutes, their juices will really come out and the natural sugars are just incredible!


I like to pair them (pun intended) with ice cream ... my husband likes this with vanilla bean ice cream but the choice of flavor is all yours.


You can kick it up a notch and serve it with grilled Angel Food cake too! Slice a deli bought Angel Food loaf (ya'll already know that I cheat when I can ... I like to eat and cook but why work harder than you have to?). Put the cake slices on the gill for just a minute on each side to bring out all it's sugary goodness, then pair it with whipped cream and fruit!


If you want to REALLY knock their socks off, try using a pound cake, and RUM! Yes, I am serious!


Sprinkle slices of pound cake with rum then spread lightly with butter. Grill for just a minute, then remove. Top with a creamy mixture of 1/2 cup sour cream blended with 2 tbl brown sugar! Yummy stuff and what's not to love about anything with Rum and Butter!

Grilled Pizzas




 
This is a family favorite and will suit every taste!  My sons have LOVED this since they were just little boys.  Everyone can top their pizza to suit exactly what they want and it's super easy to make.  I finally decided to share this on the radio so I had to "up my game" and I added a new twist or two and came to an whole new level of delicious!!!

Step #1 - CRUST!

Okay, I confess ... I cheat on this! Have you seen the frozen loaves of bread dough at the grocery store?   Grab a package and you're halfway finished with your crust! Spray a cooking sheet with cooking oil and let the dough thaw for about 34 hours. Don't let it rise - you just want it thawed.

Cut each loaf into 4 or 5 sections and flour your hands a bit. Stretch each section of dough into a fairly round shape. Each will be unique, some large, some small - something for everyone!

Step #2 - Grill the Crust!

Heat your grill to 300 degrees and spray with cooking spray. I don't mean spritz it ... spray that baby down right! You sure don't want the crusts to stick!

Put your crusts over low flame and never leave their side! It only takes a minute or two on each side or you'll burn those babies! Flip with tongs and remove them the instant they start to brown.

Step #3 - Top It!

Now I could make up a big elaborate recipe for marinara sauce but I am not a fan of reinventing the wheel and the Ragu company has already mastered this task - so why try to steal their thunder? You can use the sauce of your choice - just don't use too much of it. A tablespoon or two per pizza will be more than enough. Add shredded cheese. Not a ton - just a small hand full - I guess that's about a quarter cup ... I never measure anything! Mozzarella is a classic choice but feta is good too. Pepper cheese will zing up the flavor rating ... use what you like!

Top with your favorites - pepperoni is the most popular but you can use ground beef or sausage (left over from a casserole recipe or breakfast), cooked petite shrimp is very good too! Add what ever grilled veggies you can snag from the garden, fresh herbs are fun too ... and voila'! Tis' Pizza!

Step #4 - Cook It!


Sprinkle with just a touch more cheese and carefully slide your creation back on the grill. Turn off half the burners and cook your pizza away from the heat source. This just takes a couple of minutes, when the cheese starts to melt, remove and serve!

You can make all your crusts in advance and have a buffet of toppings so your guests can assemble their own pizza! We did this for a symphony cook out last summer and everyone loved it! This was also the feature of Thing #2's (my youngest son) graduation party. You can serve a herd without breaking the bank!

Now for the new twists.  Try these combinations:

Savory Chicken:     

Thinly sliced chicken breast (I grilled mine with Patti's sauce)
1 slice of Provolone Cheese
Baby Spinach Leaves
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Chopped Italian Parsley
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Use just a drizzle of Patti's sauce as your base, then add a pinch of Mozzarella, Spinach, Provolone, Sun Dried Tomatoes, another pinch of Mozzarella and Parmesan. 


Very Veggie:

Thinly roasted zucchini and yellow squash
Roasted Sweet Peppers - all colors
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Chopped Italian Parsley
Sliced Scallions
Provolone Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Ricotta Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Just a very light sprinkle of EVOO on your crust, then add provolone, zucchini and squash, sprinkle with Mozzarella, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Ricotta cheese, Scallions, a touch more Mozzarella and a pinch of Parmesan Cheese.

Mighty Meaty:

A light brush of spaghetti sauce, a pinch of Mozzarella, sausage, a slice of Provolone, pepperoni, sun dried tomatoes, more Mozzarella and then Parmesan, top with  few more tomatoes.  It's manly and mighty but a lady can use a knife and fork!!!

Peach Pie Pizza:

Grilled peaches - sliced (I did not peel mine)
2 Tbl Peach Preserves
2 Tbl Brown Sugar
Powdered Sugar to garnish
Combine the preserves and brown sugar, brush on your crust.  Top with sliced grilled peaches then bake.  Garnish with Powdered Sugar!   Would also be excellent with vanilla bean ice cream on the side - just sayin;!!!!!









Grilling Steaks


I am NOT a professional cook but let's just say... "There are no skinny people livin' at my house"!


Is there ANYTHING better than a really good steak dinner? I think not!


Here are some tips for making your next steak the best you've ever made!



1. Buy the best cut of meat you can! If you don't see a cut you like in the grocery, ask the butcher to cut one for you. They are happy to cut the selection you like and will trim it at no additional charge! You just have to ask!


2. Before you cook, bring the meat up to room temperature (30-45 minutes should do it). A cold steak will contract when it hits the hot grill...that makes the meat tough. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel before you grill. If your steak is wet, you'll be steaming it instead of grilling it!


3. Salting Steak...2 schools of thought. Many abide by the rule of NEVER salt meat before you serve it. Salt will bring water out of the meat and you're back to the steaming theory! Your meat will cook to gray before it can brown on the outside. The opposite of the aisle is in favor of salting a steak with Sea Salt or Kosher Salt (never use fine ground table salt) and letting it sit for 45 minutes or so (while coming to room temperature). If this is your prefered method, you must rinse all the salt off and dry that beef before you grill it!


4. Marinate - I confess, I have a favorite marinade and I am proud to recommend you try it! Allegro Marinade, made in my home town, Paris, Tennessee! It is sold at most grocery stores and you can also order it from their web site. If you do marinate, be sure to pat your steak dry when it is at room temperature, then grill it!

5. No Forks, Tongs Only! If you pierce something, you'll need to put a ring in it and your food does not need jewelry! Tongs only! Piercing allows the juices to escape and your meat will be tougher that necessary.

6. Heat! I like to have my grill just over 300 degrees - makes a pretty carmely color (You just learned a new word ... 'carmely' ... it may not even BE a word, so we just invented it!) Be sure to spray your grill so it doesn't grab hold of your steak!

7. Flippin' - 2 rules - tongs only and just once!

8. Well or Rare - I like my food cooked, my husband likes it just off the hoof! A meat thermometer is the best way to control my impulse to cook his food they way I think it should be :) For a rare steak, stop at 120 degrees. Medium rare, 125 degrees and Medium at 130 degrees. For MY steak, I stop one step shy of a hockey puck -no pink at all!

9. After the fact -I know you can hardly control your urge to slice into that beautiful piece of meat - but control yourself! Let that baby rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Put a little aluminum foil tent over it to help fight temptation! The internal temperature will actually rise in that time and it gives you the chance to pour a glass of wine and get your side dishes in order!

10. Just a pat! - I know you won't believe this but I swear by it - while the steak is resting just off the grill, I put one small pat of butter on it! It adds to the juiciness of the steak. It's your choice but I pat it and add seasoning at that point.

ENJOY! Keep it simple and eat up!