Category Archives: Main Dish

Italian Sausages with Bell Peppers and Polenta

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This dish  offers the classic Italian-American combination of sausage and peppers on a bed of polenta enriched with Parmesan cheese. By putting the emphasis on the peppers and onions, it makes an indulgent meal a healthy one, as well, with 34 grams of protein and just 31 grams of fat.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
½ cup polenta
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 mild pork sausages
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2-3 Italian frying peppers, sliced, seeds discarded
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2-3 springs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves, torn

Directions:
To cook the polenta,  add 4 cups of water to a 2-quart sauce pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and let the water return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta thickens and absorbs most of the water, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
While the polenta cooks, prepare the sausage and peppers.

In a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sausages and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate. Do not wipe out the pan.

In the same pan used to cook the sausage, warm 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, season with salt, and cook until the onions begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic, and rosemary, and continue cooking until the peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup wine, if using and cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Stir in the tomato paste and 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes. Slice the sausages and add them to the pan, turning once or twice until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, transfer the polenta to serving bowls and top with the sausage and peppers. Garnish with torn fresh basil.

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The F Word Weekly Challenge

Chicken Parmesan with Tomato Basil Sauce, Mozzarella, Spaghetti, & Broccoli Rabe.

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Gordon’s Recipe:

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Grilled Chicken with Watermelon Salsa

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This easy grilled chicken has a hint of spice that perfectly complements fresh, bright watermelon salsa. Impress your guests at your next barbecue with this taste of summer.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken thighs
1 pound chicken drumsticks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small watermelon, cut into chunks
1/4 bunch fresh mint
1/4 bunch fresh basil
1 lime
4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Set a grill to medium-high heat. Place the chicken thighs and drumsticks in a large bowl and coat with olive oil. Mix together chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper and salt and black pepper, to taste. Toss spice mix with chicken. Cook chicken over hottest part of the grill for 5-8 minutes each side or until grill marks form.

Lower heat and cook for an additional 10–12 minutes, or until an internal thermometer reads 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the flesh. For best results allow chicken to rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes.

While chicken cooks, dice the watermelon into smaller cubes and place in a large bowl. Tear the basil leaves, if large, chop the mint and juice the lime. Add the basil, mint and lime juice to  the watermelon. Toss in the feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken with watermelon salsa.

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Catfish in a Basil Lemon Sauce

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Summer is here, more or less, with the flavors of basil and lemon. This catfish recipe is a twist on a classic Southern fish dish and is one of the easiest, quickest dinners you can prepare in a flash for family and friends.

Enjoy!

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 catfish fillets
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
Lemon wedges, for serving
Capers, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Pat the fish dry: Use a paper towel to pat the fish dry on both sides.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a shallow bowl, mix together cornmeal flour, salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Dredge  the fish in cornmeal mixture, pressing the cornmeal lightly into the fish to make is adhere.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, cast iron skillet over high heat just until the oil is shimmering. Lay the fillets in the skillet carefully, using long-handled tongs. Fry for about three minutes on each side, then remove from the skillet to two plates.

Turn the heat to medium and whisk the lemon juice into the remaining fat. Whisk in the cream and basil and let boil for about a minute or until just reduced. Drizzle over the fish and serve immediately.

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Ranch Fried Chicken

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Classic American ranch dressing herbs and seasonings appear in three components of the recipe—the buttermilk marinade, the flour coating, and the ranch dipping sauce—to pack summer flavors into this fried chicken. You can used  boneless thighs to ensure a juicy meat without the time consuming brining process with just taking 10 -15 minutes. Frying the thin thighs takes half the time that bone-in chicken parts require, which allows the fresh herb flavors toshine through. But I prefer brining bone-in, skin on chicken over night in the refrigerator.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH………

Talk about an unlikely origin story. The last thing that anyone expected Kenneth Henson of Thayer, Nebraska, to do during his three-year stint as a plumbing contractor in Alaska just after World War II was to develop a salad dressing recipe that would become one of America’s most popular condiments.

A plumbing contractor? In Alaska? You heard it right. Henson, 29 years old when he decamped for the then-U.S. territory, was a good cook, charged with preparing meals for his work-camp colleagues. A relentless kitchen tinkerer, he developed a buttermilk-based salad dressing that his crew loved.

In the early 1950s, Henson, who eventually changed his first name to Steve, relocated to the hills outside Santa Barbara, where he and his wife bought a 120-acre parcel and opened up a dude ranch, which they called “Hidden Valley.” Henson’s salad dressing was a fan favorite at meal time; eventually the Hensons began sending guests home with souvenir “ranch” seasoning packets.

Henson sold the “Hidden Valley Ranch” brand to Clorox for $8 million in 1972 and closed the ranch shortly thereafter. A shelfstable version of the dressing was created in 1983; today, ranch is the most popular salad dressing flavor in the United States.

Serves 4 to  6

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
One  1-ounce packet Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
3 cups whole buttermilk, divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
One 3-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces, rinsed, patted dry*

For the Coating:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Ranch Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt , to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish

Special Equipment:
Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more for this recipe.
Thermometer

Directions:
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine dressing mix and 2 cups buttermilk. Seal bag, and shake until blended. Spoon 1⁄2 cup dressing into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Add chicken to bag; seal and refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Lightly pat chicken dry with paper towels  and season with pepper.

For the Buttermilk Marinade: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup buttermilk mixture for ranch sauce.

For the Coating: Whisk all ingredients together in large bowl.

Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Set second wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line half of rack with triple layer of paper towels.

Working with 1 piece at a time, dip chicken in remaining buttermilk mixture to coat, letting excess drip back into bowl; then dredge in coating, pressing to adhere.Dip in buttermilk and dredge in flour mixture again, pressing gently to adhere coating. Transfer chicken to first wire rack without paper towels. At this point, flour coated chicken may be refrigerated, uncovered, for up to 2 hours.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F. Working batches, add the chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°F, about 12 minutes, turning occasionally.  Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 °F.

Transfer chicken to paper towel–lined side of second wire rack to drain on each side for 30 seconds, then move to unlined side of rack. Return oil to 350 °F and repeat with remaining chicken.

For the Ranch Sauce: Whisk mayonnaise into reserved buttermilk mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer chicken to platter. Garnish with chopped chives and serve with ranch sauce.

Cook’s Notes:
You can use 8 chicken thighs or 8 drumsticks or a combination of thigh and drumsticks in the place of a whole cut up chicken.

KEY INGREDIENTS: THREE HERBS, THREE WAYS: Fresh herbs were used to further enhance the ranch flavor—chives, cilantro, and dill—in were used in three ways for this chicken: in the buttermilk dip, in the flour coating, and in the serving sauce.

 

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Dali Chicken

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This classic dish  appears on P. F. Chang’s  restaurant menu as tender slices of chicken breast wok-tossed with dried red chilies, potatoes and scallions in a signature spicy sauce. And we discovered the secret ingredient was cumin. Who knew?!!!

We are still perfecting the recipe in our test lab, so please stay tuned, the recipe will follow shortly.

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Sweet Southern Tea-Brined Grilled Chicken

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Sweet Ice tea is basically the “House Wine” that graces every Southern Table and it is enjoyed throughout the year, not just as refreshing drink fir the summer. For the tastiest chicken ever, brine a whole cut-up chicken in the South’s signature beverage–sweet tea with lemon.  A brine will help make the meat more tender and juicy.Just a hint of tea, brown sugar, and rosemary makes an irresistible combination for the best grilled chicken you will find on this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

 

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
6 to 8 single Orange Pekoe tea bags*
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
2 cups ice cubes
One 3 1/2-to 4-pound cut-up whole chicken*
Olive oil, for grilling
Fresh rosemary, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan; add tea bags. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes.

Discard tea bags. Stir in sugar and next 6 ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely (about 45 minutes); stir in ice. Mixture should be cold before adding chicken.

Place tea mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Place bag in a shallow baking dish and chill 24 hours.

On the next day,  prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.

Remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry with paper towels, lightly coat with oil, and sprinkle with a little black pepper. Grill the chicken without moving it until grill marks form, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and grill until just cooked through (160°F), 4 to 6 minutes more. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Light one side of grill, heating to 300° to 350° (medium) heat; leave other side unlit. Place chicken, skin side down, over unlit side, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes. Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes. Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Transfer chicken, skin side down, to lit side of grill, and grill 2 to 3 minutes or until skin is crispy. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*Cook’s Notes:
You can used 2 large family- style Lipton Tea bag in place of the Orange Pekoe Tea Bags

Six to eight bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on can be used in the place of a whole cut up chicken.

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Stuffed Chicken Breast a la Caprese

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Serves 4

Ingredients:
Four 7-ounce chicken breasts
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and dried basil
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
¼ cup sun dried tomato strips in oil
4 mozzarella cheese slices
12 basil leaves, divided

For the Sauce:
4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket about ¾ quarter of the way through on the thickest side of each breast, being careful not to cut all the way.

Season chicken with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Pour 1 teaspoon of sun dried tomato oil over each breast, rubbing some of the seasoning inside the pockets.

Fill each with 2 slices fresh tomato, 2 teaspoons sun dried tomato strips, one slice mozzarella cheese and basil leaves.

Seal with 3-4 toothpicks diagonally to keep the filling inside while cooking.

Heat 2 teaspoons of sun dried tomato oil (or olive oil) in a cast iron skillet or non stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

While the chicken is cooking, mix together the garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small mixing cup. Pour the mixture into the pan around the chicken; bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally, until the glaze has slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer pan to the preheated oven and continue to cook the chicken for a another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese has melted.

Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest 8-10 minutes. Remove the  toothpicks.

To serve, slice the chicken breast in half and place on the center of a dinner plate. Drizzle with pan juices and garnish with basil.

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Braised Chicken with Tuscan Kale and Andouille Sausage

chicken and kale.jpgA traditional Italian dish of braised chicken nestled in a bed of earthy kale and sweet red peppers makes a perfect combination with the spiciness of Louisiana Creole andouille sausage, giving you a one-skillet meal packed with lots of flavor!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:
6 chicken thighs on the bone with skin, about 2 pounds total
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly black ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bread
1 large sweet onion, quartered, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
7 ounces fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 cups (10 ounces) roughly chopped Tuscan kale*
½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth

For the Crostini:
6 thick slices French or Italian bread
3 tablespoons crumbled feta
Fresh chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Directions:
Season chicken generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large (14-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, in single, uncrowded layer. (Use two pans if necessary.) Cook until nicely browned and skin is crisped, about 12 minutes. (Turn on the exhaust fan and use a splatter guard to keep mess to a minimum.) Flip chicken; brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate skin side up so it stays crispy.

Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet. Add onion and red pepper. Cook, stir occasionally, over medium heat until onion is nicely golden, about 8 minutes. Add sliced sausage and garlic; cook, 1 minute. Stir in kale. Cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine to mix well. Nestle the chicken, crispy skin side up, into the kale mixture leaving the skin uncovered. Cook, uncovered, on low until chicken juices run clear, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat broiler. Brush bread slices on both sides with olive oil. Broil bread, 4 inches from heat source until golden, about 1 minute. Flip; top with a little feta cheese. Broil the second side until golden, about 30 seconds.

Sprinkle chicken with parsley leaves. Serve chicken with the bread for mopping up all the pan juices.

*Cook’s Note:
Polish sausage can be substituted for the andouille for a milder dish. Cleaned and cut Tuscan kale, also known as black or lacinato kale, is sold in 10-ounce bags at some grocers. If Tuscan kale is not available in your local area, you can substitute 2 small bunches (about 1 pound total) kale, then trim off tough stems before cutting into 2-inch pieces.

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