Grill It Up

We had taken a beef roast our of the freezer a few days ago because we were planning on cooking it when the weather was a little cooler.  However, our plans kept getting rearranged and changed, as did the weather, so I had to come up with a good plan B.  Plan B was to grill it.  I had never grilled a roast before, and I wasn’t sure if it would cook right, so this was a new experiment for me.  But surprise, surprise, it worked, and came out just great, despite the fact that Larry almost burned down the house in the process.  He had the grill on high, and walked away for a bit, and when he came back to the grill, flames were dancing high all around the grill and he said the temperature gauge had reached its peak and then some.  He rescued it just in time though, and the roast actually came out just perfect.

I had marinated the roast in the refrigerator for a couple of days, which allowed the flavors to really soak in.  All I used was garlic, salt pepper, olive oil and fresh rosemary, but it didn’t need anything else.  I made a paste with all the ingredients and rubbed it all over the meat, making sure to coat it completely.  Then, like I said, our plans kept getting changed, so it sat in the fridge for a couple of days.  I served it with grilled potato wedges and the rest of my Brussels sprouts salad.  Brussels Sprouts Salad with Chicken  I put potatoes on the grill all the time too.  It is an easy way to cook the potatoes without heating up the house.

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The meat is perfectly charred on the outside, and pink to perfection on the inside.  Delicious!

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It only takes a few simple ingredients for the potatoes.  (Yes, there is other stuff in the background.  I was going to make some cookies, but once again, I ran out of time, and only had time enough to make the potatoes, so did not remove my other ingredients.  I will save those for another day).

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Grilled Potato Wedges

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

2 TBSP garlic

1-2 TBSP parsley

3-4 TBSP olive oil

 

Toss everything together, making sure to completely coat the potato wedges, then lay the wedges in a single layer onto some aluminum foil.  Cover with another pieces of aluminum foil and seal tightly.  Your potato packet is now ready for the grill.  Grill for about 30 minutes or so.

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Once everything is cooked to perfection, it is time to plate it up and enjoy.   I served a rich and fruity red blend (one of our own, that we bottled from our favorite winery, InVINtions A Creative Winery, that you can check out at  www.InVINtionsWinery.com )

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Voila!  The end result was just perfect.  A beautifully delicious grilled roast beef, roasted potatoes and a Brussels sprout salad (no chicken this time), and a glass or two of fantastic wine.  We are definitely living the good life!

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Chaos and Craziness

This week has been a crazy, busy week.  There has been so much going on, with no time to stop and catch my breath, let alone really cook something fun or fabulous.  I actually called my husband yesterday to tell him just to bring something home for dinner, because I had neither the time or the energy to cook.  Safeway’s fried chicken it was, and it hit the spot too.  So you see, we all have those days, even me, even Jeanne from “A Jeanne in the Kitchen” has those days too.  The moral of the story …. life happens and sometimes we all need a bit of a break.  🙂

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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Chicken

Once again, our dinner plans changed in the blink of an eye.  This is twice in a week that my husband has changed our plans for dinner just as I am making the dinner.  He HAD to go play golf, meaning there was no way we could cook what we were originally planning on cooking, which by the way, was what he suggested and wanted in the first place.  ARRRRRGGGHHH!!!!!  Oh well, I had a back up plan that I could easily put into place.  I had made a Brussels sprouts salad to have as a side dish with our meal, but luckily I made enough that I could easily turn it into the meal itself.  All I needed to do was to marinate a chicken breast and grill it up, and add it to the salad.  So it wasn’t that big of deal, nor was it that much of an inconvenience, but it was a bit frustrating.

I discovered this Brussels sprouts salad a few years ago and have been making it ever since.  It is tart and tangy, with just a hint of sweetness.  It is a refreshing way to eat Brussels sprouts, especially on warmer days.

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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Chicken

IMG_70711 lb Brussels  sprouts, ends removed and sliced very thin

1 apple, diced small

1 shallot, sliced very thin or  1/4 red onion, diced small or sliced very thin

6 green onions, sliced thin

4-5 pieces of cooked bacon, diced small

2 chicken breasts, cooked, sliced thin

 

Toss everything together, with the honey mustard dressing, except the chicken breast.  Place the sliced chicken on top.

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Honey Mustard Dressing

1 TBSP Dijon mustard

1 tsp black pepper

dash of salt

1-2 TBSP honey

3-4 TBSP white balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar

5-6 TBSP olive oil

 

Whisk everything together and toss with the salad.

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This salad is ready to eat as is, or you can add a grilled chicken breast to make it more of a meal, like I did.  I added dried cranberries to mine.  My husband likes cheese in his salads, so I added some feta cheese to his.  This paired just perfectly with a crisp, golden chardonnay and a bit of warmed bread dipped in olive oil mixed with garlic, pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Delicious!

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A Little Caribbean Tonight

With the warmer weather finally beginning to come about, it is putting us in the summer food mood too.  When I think of summer foods, I think of grilled foods, a lot of different salsas, fruits, salads and things that are easy to make and don’t heat up the kitchen to much.  Like most of us, when the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, I too would rather be outside enjoying all that the world outdoors has to offer, rather than being inside over a hot stove.

I had some leftover jalapeno dressing from when we had our latest steak salad, which was a perfect marinade for my pork chops. Finally, It’s Time for Salad  I also had some leftover pineapple from my carrot pineapple bread  Carrot Pineapple Bread that was just the right amount to make a pineapple salsa.  So I combined these ideas and made a Caribbean meal with the jalapeno grilled pork chops and pineapple salsa that I served with sweet potato latkes and green beans.  Even though we were land-locked here at home, it felt like we were back in the Caribbean, even if for only a short little bit.  It was a nice little mini vacation right out on our back deck.

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I actually marinated the pork chops for a couple of days since on Saturday, at the last minute, we changed our plans.  Once we did grill it up, the pork was very flavorful and tender.

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We also threw some rolls on the grill to heat up as well.

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The pineapple salsa was very easy to make.  I let that set for a couple of days as well, which allowed all the flavors to stand out and really pop.

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Quick and Easy Pineapple Salsa

1 cups pineapple, cut into small chunks – canned pineapple, with its juice is fine too

1/2 red bell pepper, diced small,

1/2 red onion, diced small

1 TBSP garlic

1 large jalapeno, diced fine

dash of salt

3 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped fine

 

Mix everything together and let chill for at least 30 minutes before using.  You can eat with anything you would use a regular tomato salsa for.  It is particularly good with pork or chicken.

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Sweet potatoes are a staple food item found all throughout the Caribbean.  We eat them a lot too.  This is a Caribbean twist to an old classic, its cousin the potato latke.

Sweet Potato Latkes

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This is yet another very simple recipe, with just a few basic ingredients.

1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded – I use my food processor to shred mine

2-3 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped fine

1/4 cup green onions, sliced thin

1 egg

1 tsp salt

cayenne pepper to taste

3/4 cup flour, more if needed

2 TBSP honey

A dash of cooking oil

 

Mix everything together well.  I find the best way to really mix all these ingredients is to do it by hand.

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Once everything is all mixed, take about 2 TBSP or so and form into a patty and slightly flatten them out.  Continue until all the mixture has been used.  Let set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cooking, then pan fry in a hot skillet with just a little bit of cooking oil so the patties won’t stick.  Cook on a medium-high heat.  Cook until the patties are golden brown on both sides and crispy.

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IMG_7066These quick and easy recipes show you don’t have to go to the Caribbean Islands to enjoy a little of the fresh Caribbean flavors at home.

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Dining in the Rino

The City of Denver is known for many things, one of which is all of its many little sub districts located all throughout the city.  They each have their own personality and identity.  Just to name a few, there is Wash Park (Washington Park), Bonnie Brae, and Park Hill, all known for their nice homes and friendly, family environments.  Then there is Downtown, which is also subdivided into areas such as LoDo or Lower Downtown, where a lot of the night life lives, and the Rino District, which stands for River North.  It is the area north of the Platte River.  The Rino District is an older area that is being transformed into a new, hip place to go to sample some of the local brew pubs.  We went to dinner with our friends Sue and Jim and ended up in one of these local pubs in the Rino District called The Walnut Room.

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I love this outside fire pit.  I wish I had one like this at my house.  I’ll have to go back at night sometime to see it in all its glory, with the flames dancing in the cool of the night.

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Inside, The Walnut Room is a comfortable and cozy pub where everyone is welcomed as a friend as soon as you walk into the room.

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Some of the local brews being featured on the board.

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The food is pub food with flair; pizza, sandwiches and salads, all made in house, with fresh, delicious ingredients.  I had the Southwestern Slope sandwich with turkey, candied bacon and avocado.  The boys both enjoyed a sandwich called “The Fat Bastard”, which was loaded with all kinds of meats and cheese. YUM!

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Sue had a Greek salad.

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A good time with good friends.  Life is very good indeed!

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The Walnut Room is located at 3131 Walnut Street, Denver, CO 80205.  To see what’s brewing at the pub, go to their website at http://www.thewalnutroom.com.

 

 

 

Look Who’s Talking Now

This weekend has flown by in a blur.  We have been so busy and we aren’t done yet.  Needless to say, I have not had any time in the kitchen this weekend.  I was in the middle of starting to prepare something yummy for dinner and at the last minute we changed our plans.  So you will all hear about it later.  For now though, I thought I would share some more thoughts on food.

 

He lay back in his bed thinking about the smells of food … of the intoxicating breath of bakeries and the dullness of the buns … He planned dinners, or enchanting aromatic foods … endless dinners, in which one could alternate flavour with flavour from sunset to dawn without satiety, while one breathed great draughts from the bouquet of old brandy.

~ Evelyn Waugh, English writer of novels, biographies, and travel books, and he was also a prolific journalist and book reviewer. ~

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I can definitely identify with this one.  When I am cooking something special for a special event, I am always dreaming and thinking of all the foods I am going to make, and how I am going to make them.

 

Everything ends this way in France ~ everything.  Weddings, christenings, duels, funerals, swindlings, diplomatic affairs ~ everything is pretext for a good dinner.

~ Jean Anhouilh, French dramatist noted for his reinterpretations of Greek myths ~

 

Sharing food and drink is one of the oldest rituals in the world.  Whether a guest is offered a drink by the host or a special beverage in a special cup initiates an occasion, the moment is of significance.

~ Pamela Vandyke Price, One of the first women to write about wine who was known for her prickly put-downs and forthright views about food and drink. ~

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Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.

~ William Shakespeare ~

 

…even those for whom cooking is an oppressive chore of self-doubting anxiety, acknowledge that a meal shared by friends and family is one of the bonding rituals without which the family, society even, can fall apart.

~ Antonia Till, Food Writer, taken from Loaves & Wishes

 

 

 

Ginger Chicken Kebabs

It was a nice warm and sunny day, which made it just the perfect day to grill up something yummy.   As I have mentioned many times, our weather this year has been really wacky. We have not had any real hot days yet, which I am definitely not complaining about, though we have had a lot of cooler than normal days for this time of year.  Again, I am definitely not complaining about the cooler days.  Don’t get me wrong, I am most definitely a sun worshipper and I love to be outside, but I also love the cooler, more comfortable temperatures as well.

As you know, we eat a lot of chicken, and I am always looking for new ways to prepare it.  I found this recipe for ginger chicken kebabs that just hit the spot.   I was also looking for something that was quick and easy and that did not require turning on the oven.  I made vegetable kebabs and orzo to complete the meal, as well as a cool glass of chardonnay.  It was a perfect meal to enjoy outside on our deck.

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Ginger Chicken Kebabs

The ginger marinade was very simple and easy to make.  The chicken came out so delicious and tasty and very tender.

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1 lb chicken breast, cut into large cubes

3-4 green onions, sliced very thin

1 TBSP lemon verbena, optional – I use it as much as possible when it’s in season, since it literally takes over my whole backyard.

2 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP sugar

1 TBSP Wochestershire Sauce

1 tsp salt

3 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP rice vinegar

1 TBSP ginger

3/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

 

Mix all the ingredients together and marinade the chicken pieces for about 2 hours before placing on kebab skewers.

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Once the chicken has been marinating for at least 2 hours, skewer the pieces onto your skewers and grill for about 7-10 minutes per side, or until the chicken is done.  If you are making vegetable kebabs as well, use fairly large pieces of your favorite hearty vegetables.  I marinated mine in Italian dressing for about 30 minutes before placing the pieces onto the skewers.  The vegetables will need a little longer to cook than the chicken pieces, so put them on the grill a bit earlier than the chicken.

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You can serve these delicious kebabs with cous cous, rice or pasta.  I chose to serve it with orzo this time, which is actually a type of pasta that looks like rice.  I heated up the left over marinade and cooked it down to make a sauce for the chicken after it was grilled.  YUMMY!!!!

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