Creole Honey Mustard Chicken

If you have been following my blog, you probably have already realized I love big, bold flavors.  I love to both cook and eat foods that let you know they are there.  Although there is a time and place for subtlety and milder flavors, for me, it is more the exception rather than the rule.  Given the choice, I am almost always going to go for the gusto.  I guess my taste in foods reflects my general personality as well.  I don’t hold back.  I just go for it.  This recipe captures this joie de vivre and has a bit of of a zing that will bring your taste buds to life.  It is a blend of classic honey mustard chicken with a new, updated twist that really makes the chicken pop.  And, it is super simple.  All you need to do is make your blend, that only contains four simple ingredients, and marinate the chicken.  I marinated it for about 4 hours.

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Creole Honey Mustard Sauce

Georgia Boys’ Creole mustard (any spicy mustard blend will work just fine)

Dijon mustard

honey

fresh cilantro, chopped fine

Mix all the ingredients together and blend well.  I used about 3 heaping TBSP of the Creole mustard, about 1 heaping TBSP of the Dijon mustard and about 2 heaping TBSP of honey, with about 1/4-1/3 cup of chopped cilantro.

I heated up the left over marinade (that had NOT been used on the chicken) and served it on top of the chicken once it was grilled and cooked.

 

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Creole Honey Mustard Chicken served over a bed of rice and lentils and topped with green beans and the left over Creole honey mustard sauce and toasted almonds.  I finished it off with a medium oaked chardonnay that had hints of apricots and lemon.  Bon Appetit!

 

*** Georgia Boys is a little family owned BBQ place here in the North Denver Metro area.  I don’t go there nearly as often as I would like, but if you are out in the North Denver area, it is definitely worth a visit.  Their burnt brisket tips are to die for.  They make all their own sauces, which are all really tasty, but their Creole mustard sauce is one of my favorites.

 

 

 

Vegan Iced Lemon Sugar Cookies

I experiment with all kinds of foods and all kinds of cooking techniques all the time.   I love to learn and try new things and new ways of cooking, and do so all the time.  Vegan cooking has been an ongoing experiment and a work in progress for a few years now.   I am not vegan or even vegetarian, but I know quite a few people who are and I try my best to cook things they can eat and enjoy as well.  Cooking vegan is not that much different from cooking regular foods, you just have to make sure that all the products you are using do not contain any animal products at all.  It is easy substitutions like using soy, almond, or rice milk instead of regular milk, and vegan butter instead of regular butter, and everything must be made completely from plant based products.  This is really not all that difficult once you know what to use and what you are looking for.  But vegan baking is a whole different story.  This can be tricky if you do not know your ingredients and where they come from.   There are a lot of things we would not think about that come from animal products.  A lot of items contain lecithin, which contains milk products, or gelatin, which is made from marrow.  Honey cannot be used either, because bees make the honey, although you can easily substitute agave for honey.  And you have to find substitutes for eggs that are vegan and often times you have to use things like flax seed or xanthum gum, or other different ingredients and different kinds of flours that you would not normally use when baking.  Often times, you cannot find these specialty ingredients in your normal grocery stores either, although these products are becoming more readily available.  You just have to know where to look and what you are looking for.  Vegan cooking I have down pat.  No problem.  But vegan baking can still be complicated, even for me.   One of the biggest challenges I face when I bake vegan dishes is that more so than not, they come out very dry.  As I said, it is still a work in progress, and I continue to experiment and tweak things all the time.

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The ingredient list.

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Rolling the cookies in sugar and pressing them before baking.

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Vegan Iced Lemon Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup sugar, plus more to roll the pre-cooked cookies in

1 cup softened vegan butter

1/3 cup lemon zest

1/2 cup silken tofu

3 TBSP lemon juice

 

Pre-heat oven to 400*F.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside.  Mix the vegan butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy, then add the tofu, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Mix together again.  Add the flour mixture 1/2 at a time and mix until everything is well combined and incorporated.  Roll the dough into balls about 1″ thick and then roll in the sugar.  Slightly press them to flatten them and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden in color.  Let cool, then ice.  You can serve them either with or without the icing, but I thought they needed a little more pizzazz, so I adding the lemon icing.

 

Vegan Lemon Icing

1-2 TBSP vegan butter

2 TBSP soy, rice or almond milk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp lemon extract

 

Mix all together and spread on your cookies.

 

 

 

 

Angel Hair Pasta with Scallops and Chorizo

I love scallops.  They are right up there with shrimp, crab and halibut as being amongst some of my favorite seafood dishes.  I love them cooked just about any way possible.  In fact, to date, I have never come across a scallop recipe I didn’t like.  The larger sea scallops are my favorites, although I do like the smaller bay scallops as well.   They both have slightly different flavors and both are good in a wide variety of dishes.  I tend to use the smaller bay scallops more for salads, but that is just me.  We love this recipe and I make it quite often when we have both sea scallops and chorizo sausage in the house.   This dish combines the sweet, delicate flavors of the sea scallops with the bold spicy flavors of the chorizo to make the perfect combination.

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Angel Hair Pasta with Scallops and Chorizo

cooked angel hair pasta

1 1/2 lbs sea scallops

1 lb ground chorizo sausage

1 large shallot, sliced very thin

1 heaping TBSP garlic, minced

mushrooms, sliced

spinach, chopped

grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2 ( you can use any kind of tomatoes you like.  Roma tomatoes work just fine as well. Or mix and match, as I did.  I used grape tomatoes and small komato tomatoes.)

1 can chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

red pepper flakes to taste

salt & pepper to taste

Parmagiano cheese (optional)

olive oil as needed

 

Cook your sausage completely, then remove from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, with the chorizo drippings, added additional olive oil as needed, cook your scallops for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned on all sides.  Remove and set aside.  Add your shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for about 2 minutes, or until the shallots are translucent.  Then add your wine and make sure to get all your drippings mixed in.  Reduce until about 1/2 of the liquid is gone.  This only takes a couple of minutes at most.  Add the chicken broth, spinach, mushrooms, and salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 5-7 minutes.  Add your scallops, chorizo and tomatoes.  Adjust the seasoning if needed and serve over the angel hair pasta.  Top with Parmagiano cheese if you desire.

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Happy Mother’s Day

To all the lovely ladies out there, Happy Mother’s Day.  It does not matter if your children are human children or fur babies, they are still our children and we love them all the same, with all our hearts.  My children all have 4 legs, fur, and tails.  I do not have the regular two-legged children.  I have two Saint Bernards and two cats – Lucie, Vinnie (my Saints) and Otis and Nicodemus (my cats).    They all wished me a very Happy Mother’s Day, and were busy helping me prepare our Mother’s Day celebration for my “sister” and all her family today.

My sister (by choice) and her kids are all vegan, but her husband is an omnivore like my husband and I are.  We eat everything.  My sister’s  kids range in age from 15-5 1/2, and there are a lot of different likes and dislikes had by all, so it can be challenging to come up with something they all like and will all eat.  I’ve learned through trial and error, to just keep things very simple for them.  So I prepared a vegan, kid friendly meal today that also satisfied all the meat-eaters as well.   Nothing really fancy today, just good, hearty food that we all enjoyed.  Most everything was vegan, which is not that much different to cook that non-vegan.  You just have to make sure you are not using any meat or dairy or animal products at all, and when you prepare both, just prepare them separately and wash everything thoroughly in between uses.   The vegan menu was tofu marinated in vegan teriyaki sauce, mashed potatoes, and lots of vegetables, with some vegan iced lemon cookies for dessert.   The only difference between their meal and ours was that we omnivores/carnivores ate bacon wrapped filet mignon, also marinated in the vegan teriyaki sauce, rather than the tofu.

Making the marinade.

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Teriyaki Tofu.

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Wrapping the filet mignon with bacon.

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The veggies and sides were all vegan.  I used soy milk and vegan butter.  Steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower; vegan mashed potatoes and corn cobs cooked in soy milk and vegan butter; and sauteed red onions, garlic, mushrooms and red peppers, cooked in olive oil, and salt and pepper.

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Vegan Teriyaki Sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp minced ginger

1/3 cup tamari sauce or soy sauce

2 TBSP sesame oil

2 TBSP dry sherry

2 TBSP orange juice

2 TBSP brown sugar or agave (I used a little bit of both)

Mix everything together, blending well, and marinate your tofu, tempeh, seitan, or meat.  You can also use this for vegetables as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Priscilla’s Kitchen

Today, I actually turn the reins over to my dear friend Priscilla, whom I have known since I was 12.  The kitchen was hers today and she gets all the credit for this beautiful presentation and all the foods.  She is a wonderful cook and is so creative.  She thinks of every little detail, and then adds some more, making sure everything is very special for everyone.  She is such a beautiful, gracious hostess, and all of her events are just spectacular, to say the very least.  Tonight’s celebration was in honor of her daughter Christine graduating from CU Boulder, with her degree in Architecture.   Priscilla made everything with a graduate theme.  And as always, when Priscilla puts her magical touch to things, they turn our beyond perfect and beyond anyone’s expectations.

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Priscilla with her lovely mother Ana.

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The Graduate and brand new architect, Christine and her good friend.

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Surf and Turf on the Deck

Halibut is one of my absolute favorite fish, but I don’t get to eat it nearly as often as I would like because it is so expensive.   Halibut is a cold water fish that is a flatfish like flounder, only considerably larger.  Halibut and flounder can be interchanged in recipes because they are so similar in flavor and texture.  Halibut can be found in the Atlantic and all up and down the western coastline, but some of the best halibut comes from the cold Alaskan or Canadian waters.  It is a white steak-like fish that is very lean, but because it is so lean, it can become very dry if overcooked.  The larger halibuts, that can weigh up to about 200 pounds, are becoming harder and harder to find, which makes it very expensive.  Unfortunately, a lot of the waters are becoming fished out due to over fishing.  So when it goes on sale, I make sure I get some, even if only a little bit at a time.  Tonight we only had a small piece; not nearly enough for both my husband and I to have for dinner, so we added a little left over London Broil, and had a delicious surf and turf dinner on the deck.  I marinated the halibut with some lemon pepper, regular pepper and olive oil, then we grilled it up and topped it with some pesto.  I served it with green beans almondine and lentils with carrots, red onions, garlic and parsley.  We had a very nice, relaxing dinner over-looking our ponds from our beloved deck.  Our wine choice this evening was actually my husband’s choice and I really didn’t care for it too much.  It was a sparkling Sangria.  Normally I love Sangria, but I do not care for sweet wines at all, and this was just a bit too sweet for my taste, plus we needed a white wine to go with the fish, but as luck would have it, I did not have any cold.  Oh well.  It can’t always be perfect.   However, dinner was delicious.

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Preparing the lentils.

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Cooking the carrots, garlic, onions and parsley to add to the cooked lentils.

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Green Beans Almondine

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Green Beans Almondine

green beans

toasted almonds

1 tsp lemon juice

1-2 TBSP butter

salt & pepper to taste

 

Toast almond slivers until lightly golden.  You can toast them in the oven or just in a pan right on the stove (I prefer the pan on the stove).  They do not need any butter or oil, because of the oil from the nuts themselves.  They only take a couple of minutes to cook up, so watch them carefully.

Remove the stems and the ends from your your green beans.  Place them in boiling hot water for about 6-8 minutes or until cooked, then remove from the water.

Get your skillet very hot then add your lemon juice.  Let it reduce down for a few seconds then add the butter and all the rest of the ingredients, including your cooked beans.  Mix well and saute for about 3-5 minutes and serve.

 

 

Leftovers Like First-Overs

Believe it or not, I really don’t cook everyday.  I do cook most days, but with all this cooking, we do end up with a lot of leftovers as well, and it is just my husband and myself to eat all this food.  We are only two people, after all, and can only eat so much.  He is actually really good about taking leftovers for his lunches though.  His co-workers have gotten used to the fact that he usually has something pretty good and different for his lunches everyday, while they are stuck with their typical meals that don’t vary much day after day.  Often they are asking for me to make their lunches as well.  Hahahaha!  Every now and then though I will make dishes for my husband to take into work to share with everyone, like green chili or regular chili or something that serves a larger number of people.   Because he is so good about taking leftovers in for his lunches, we don’t eat them too often for dinner, however, there are those days when we do.  When that happens, I do my best to recreate them so they are vastly different than what they were like before.  A lot of times, if I just have a little bit of meat and vegetables, but not enough for both of us to have as a dinner portion on their own, they go into quesadillas or tacos, which works out just perfectly, especially if I make a little extra rice and beans to go on the side.

Sauces and marinades are very easy to recreate dishes with.   The other day, when I made the Mexican street corn, I had some leftover marinade which I used to marinade chicken, that we later grilled up.  We actually even liked it better with the chicken than we did the corn, although we both really liked the Mexican street corn a lot too.  More so than not, this is just typical of how my creative juices flow.  Both of my parents were Depression babies and WWII children, so I grew up with the motto “waste not want not”.  It has been with me ever since.  I just hate throwing away food if I can help it, so I try my best re-use everything as much as possible.  If you allow yourself to think outside the box, you’d be amazed at some of the creative things you can come up with.

Leftovers as tacos, mixed with a little Caribbean cole slaw and some rice and beans.

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Chicken marinated with the leftover sauce for the Mexican street corn, with some leftovers we had from Cinco de Mayo and a Pesto Sun-dried tomato roll.  (You have seen all of these recipes in past posts.  Now you are seeing them again, only served in different ways).

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Don’t be afraid to “play with your food”.  Have fun.  Think of the plate as your canvas, and create what you like.