Tag Archives: olive oil

Easy Grilled Beer Can Chicken

4 Jul

You sure have gotten a lot of postcards from me lately about grilling! Now that we have established that anyone can grill let’s keep the good times rolling!

We’ve done fish, vegetables, and salmon on the grill. You may need to take a peek at some past posts and my Youtube videos for a refresher. Find them here.

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Now it’s time to try our hand at chicken. We love simple and it doesn’t get any easier than Beer Can Chicken. The chicken can be seasoned ahead of time or on the spot. You decide. Pop it onto the grill for an hour and voila! You’ve got a whole chicken done to perfection! And the leftovers (if you have any!!)?  BLISS!

Here is how I made my beer can chicken recently. The chicken got seasoned in the morning and put into the fridge till evening. The morning prep made dinner quick to get ready after a busy day. To season this whole chicken, olive oil and some herbs is all this needed. Oh, a bit of salt and pepper is important as well.

*Do NOT wash chicken ahead of using. That actually increases the risk of food borne illness. Please refer to the food safety tip at the end of the blog.

Seasoning this chicken was a snap.

To add flavor to the chicken, I put season salt, pepper, and some salt free seasoning into a small bowl and mixed them together. The chicken got a drizzle of olive oil (inside and out) and rubbed with diced garlic. A simple sprinkle of the seasoning mixture and this chicken is grill ready. You can make your seasoning with anything you prefer, and slather the chicken with as much or as little as you like. Let your flavor personality shine!

This chicken is perfectly seasoned.

At this point, I wasn’t ready to grill the chicken, so I put it into a gallon size ziplock bag and into the fridge for a few hours.

Zip this chicken up and put it into the fridge for a few hours. 

As afternoon waned into evening, I cranked up the gas grill and put all burners on high. As always, when it was hot I cleaned it with a wire grill brush. When the grill was good and hot, the burners on one side were turned off, and the other side went to a medium heat setting.

Now the fun part. No expensive kitchen doodads needed here. Just get a can of beer and pour 1/2 of it out (you can put it into a cup to drink while grilling). Spray the can with non stick cooking spray. Get two little squares of foil ready. Grab everything and head out to the grill with your chicken.

Open the lid of the grill. Take the chicken out of the bag. Stand it up and slide the can of beer up into the bottom (my mom, always the lady, called that part of the chicken the “toot”) of the chicken. Crimp the foil square onto the bottom of each chicken leg. This will allow the chicken to stand up, tripod style, on the grill and the tip of the legs won’t burn.

Put the chicken on the side of the grill that is opposite the direct heat. Since the chicken is not on the direct heat it will cook slowly, assuring a juicy bird when it’s done. Close the lid for an hour.

When you open the grill, you will get the most lovely golden surprise. Just look at this chicken! The skin is crispy, the inside is moist (thanks to the beer) and the herbs are bright and vibrant.

After an hour you will be rewarded with this gorgeous chicken!

But wait!! There’s more!! Time for the side dish. Choose one that is as easy as this chicken. Let me help.

Take zucchini, cut in half, and put just a spritz of olive oil both the skin and the open fleshy side. Salt and pepper the halves. Since your chicken is on the other side of the grill, go ahead and put your zucchini on the direct heat, skin side up. After about 3 minutes, turn them over so the skin is on the grill. Put some decadent fresh parmesan cheese on the top of the zucchini halves, remove the chicken from the grill, and close the lid.

Easy peasy side dish.

Pull the can out of the chicken toot, loosely tent it in foil,  and let it rest. When the cheese is a little melty and the bottom of the zucchini is grilled (about 2 minutes) take them off the heat. Now ring the dinner bell. Now wasn’t that easy? Tell me what you used as seasoning and how your chicken turned out.

*Food safety tip. Do not wash the chicken after removing packaging. Contrary to belief, this actually INCREASES the risk of cross contamination. Washing the chicken can cause splatter of raw chicken around the sink and onto the counter tops. If this was to touch something ready to eat, such as a salad, the possibility of food poisoning becomes possible. For more information on food safety, go here. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-foo

Magnificent Marinade

31 May

You sure have gotten a lot of postcards about grilling from me lately. Let’s keep the good times rolling!

We’ve done fish, vegetables, and salmon on the grill. You may need to take a peek at some past posts and my Youtube videos for a refresher. Find them here.

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Time for a barbecue season favorite-pork tenderloin. Boosting flavors by marinading the tenderloin first will ensure savory goodness! Making a marinade is easily customizable for individual flavor preferences and simple to create. Just toss together a few  ingredients that are on hand. No need to worry about a special trip to the grocery store for your marinade.

Grab a gallon size ziplock bag and some kitchen basics. For this marinade, I used garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. My rosemary is flourishing, so I nabbed some of that to add as well.

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Marinades are easy! Just use what you have on hand!

Put all of the ingredients into the ziplock bag. Mush it around so the flavors come together, and add the tenderloin. Zip the bag. Put the marinading meat into the fridge and go about your day. How easy is that?

A marinade can do it’s job in 20 minutes or all day. You decide. No matter what you do, this step will make sure that your pork is tender and delicious.

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Put your marinade ingredients into a ziplock bag, squish them all together, toss in your tenderloin and zip it up!

When dinner time rolls around, take your marinading tenderloin out of the fridge and prepare for greatness. Grab your cast iron skillet, take it out and place it on the grill. Turn on the gas and light to heat up. If you use charcoal on your grill, get your coals hot before placing the skillet on. Once on, close the lid, and let the skillet heat up.

Get the grill and cast iron skillet good and hot. Searing this tenderloin will be important  when it hits the heat. Take your tenderloin, marinade and all, out to the grill. Bring a little oil, salt, and pepper as well. Add just a thin glaze of oil into the pan and let it heat up for a minute.

The tenderloin will go right from the bag into the skillet. Zip open the bag, use tongs to get the  loin out. Let the extra marinade drip off, then add to your skillet. That sizzle is just what you want to hear!

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The tenderloin will have the flavorful marinade on it but needs to be properly dressed up. This is when salt and pepper comes into play. Sprinkle it on the top of the tenderloin while the bottom is searing. Close the grill and let it get to work!

Each side needs about 4 minutes for a good sear. Once that first side has a nice crust on it, give it a quarter turn to an uncooked side. Dust with salt and pepper with each turn.

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Okay so as you can see I tend to go heavy on the black pepper, but I just adore it. The grill is still at about 400 degrees-and just where you want it to be. After each turn, place the lid down, and let this continue to cook.

At this point, the scents wafting around the grill will be amazing. The lovely meaty aromas floating around while this cooks are mouth watering.

When it is good and seared on all sides pull it off the grill. Total cooking time is about 15 minutes for this 1 1/2 pound tenderloin. Once off the grill, remove it from the hot skillet and place it on a plate. Put a few pats of high quality butter on the hot tenderloin, and cover or “tent” with foil to rest. Please don’t skip this step-it is crucial to the tenderness of the meat.

It’s time to eat! Slice through that delicious seared crust into the juicy tenderloin. and wait for the compliments to roll in. Let me know how you make your marinade! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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This tenderloin was tender and flavorful! I served it with roasted veggies for the perfect keto meal!

 

 

Sweet Sauté

3 May
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Yes please! YUM!

Cooking up something fresh is divine. And in this case, quick and easy. There is nothing like the golden bliss of sautéd onions. The house becomes wrapped in the scents of oniony deliciousness wafting through the air. That, my friend, is an epicureans dream.

When cooking onions, cook up a big batch. Why? Well because of their versatility and their big flavor pop. They last for a couple of days in the fridge, and freeze beautifully for 3 months-always ready to pull out and jazz up just about anything,

For this recipe, the onions need to be uniformly sliced. A mandolin makes quick work of slicing onions, and a cast iron skillet practically does the rest of the work for you. First, get everything ready and you can zip through this recipe in no time.

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Just a few simple ingredients to yummy sautéed onions!

Get your skillet warmed up over a slow low heat while gathering prepping ingredients. You will need a couple of sweet onions (I prefer vidalia), butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

Time to peel and cut the onions. After your onions are free from their papery outer layer, a mandolin makes slicing the onions a snap, and they will all be the same width. Perfect for sautéing. But if a mandolin is out of the question a good sharp knife will work just fine.

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Slicing vegetables is so easy with a mandolin-a very useful kitchen tool.

After the onions are ready for the pan, turn your heat up to medium. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Let that heat up, and then gently slip in the onions. Drizzle the oil over the onions and stir.

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Slide those onions gently into the hot skillet.

Just listen to that sizzle as you add the onions! Oh yes, this is simple but special. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over these guys, give them a stir, and let the hot pan do its job.

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Just a dusting of salt and pepper is perfect for these onions.

Salt and pepper is perfect for these sweet onions, but if you are feeling moody or sassy, go ahead and add more spice, like red pepper flakes. That will kick these fellas up a bit! Give this a stir and let the cast iron skillet and heat do the work.

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A quick stir and you can sit back for a bit.

The onions can sizzle on medium heat for about 10 minutes before moving them around the pan a bit. If they seem a bit dry, go ahead and drizzle a bit more olive oil into the pan.  These little beauties should be getting brown-and getting sweeter.

The scents floating though the kitchen when these are cooking are so enticing. Just imagine what you can put these on (a big ol’ sandwich), or into (a succulent rice dish), or along side (a zesty barbecue chicken thigh) or layer onto (a pizza)! Just sayin…

When the onions are sweet, brown, and ready to come off the heat, its time to finish this off right. Grab your balsamic vinegar and layer on some more flavor. Just a bit will add nice balance to these onions.

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A little bit of acid finishes these onions off perfectly.

And Voila! In a snap you have a glorious onion dish. Use them as you wish, and if you have leftovers, they keep in the freezer beautifully for 3 months. Whatcha doing with your sweet sautéed onions? Let me know!

Amys Sautéed Sweet Onions

  • 2-3 sweet onions, sliced thin
  • 2 T. high quality butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat pan to a medium heat. Place butter in pan, and when melted and bubbling hot, add onions. Stir and add olive oil over the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir. After 10 minutes stir again. When limp and golden brown, turn off heat, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, adjust seasonings and remove from pan. They are now ready to enjoy!

 

 

 

Blissful Brussel Sprouts

14 Apr

 

Growing up I was not a fan of brussel sprouts. They only graced the dinner table in my midwestern childhood home on Thanksgiving. And they were of the boil in bag variety. In other words, boring, limp and swimming in “butter” sauce. It became, for me, a dish to pass along quickly-without taking any.

Times have changed. Brussel sprouts have become a fav of not only mine but my kids as well. I still won’t eat the boil in bag sprouts, but now I like them raw and shaved in salads. The most delectable way to enjoy them, however, is roasted. With bacon. YUM.

Savory roasted brussel sprouts are so easy to make there is no reason not to start making them. Let’s get started with a look at what is needed for this recipe.

The ingredients needed are fresh sprouts, olive oil, lightly cooked and crumbled bacon, balsamic glaze, and salt and pepper. That is all you need for this heavenly side dish. Don’t eat bacon? Leave it out. No big deal. You can customize this recipe to suit you.

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These simple ingredients are all you need for this delectable recipe!

The brussel sprouts were whole, and I wanted them more in bits size pieces. Halving them would work here,  but first things first. They needed to be washed.

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Wash those sprouts!

 

After they are washed, pick out the bad ones. Hey, nature being what it is, you will have some unusable sprouts.

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Toss any brussel sprouts like this one that are blemished or soft.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. This is a high temperature but these will roast to perfection. Next spend a couple of minutes cutting these in half.

Cut these in half. After cutting them, lay them on paper towels to dry them off.

Lay them on paper towels to dry. This is an important step. If you don’t dry these before going in the oven, they will steam instead of roast. That is not what we are going for here. So lay them on paper towels and dry them on the top as well. Place them on a large baking sheet, a flat pan. Drizzle the olive oil over them. Dust with salt and pepper and scatter the bacon over top. Time to pop this into the oven. We will need to check on them, so set the timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, take the sprouts out of the oven and give them a good stir. They should be starting to brown and crisp up. Resist the urge to nab one off the baking sheet and sneak a quick yummy taste. Put them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. It is that easy. When they are golden brown they are done. Pull them out of the oven, put them in a pretty bowl, and drizzle with balsamic glaze and enjoy!

These delectable little nuggets of yum are irresistible.

You can use these for a side dish along just about anything. Another option is to let them cool, drizzle a light vinaigrette over them, and serve them as a cold salad. So many ways to go with this simple side! Let me know what you do with them! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Recipe:

  • 12 ounces fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 slices bacon, lightly cooked and crumbled
  • 1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together, place on baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Serve immediately, or cool and use in a veggie salad.

Recipe note-

I microwave a couple of pieces of bacon to crumble in this recipe. Easy with very little clean up.

 

 

 

 

Keto Cod

2 Sep

Fish. It’s good for us, but we sure see it fried a lot. And that is not healthy. Want to make some healthy fish that won’t leave a dirty pan and a fishy smelling house? Keep reading.

We will start with a meaty 16 ounce piece of cod. Why Cod? It is a nice firm clean white fish mild in flavor so it appeals to most everyone. It is low in calories and fat, but a 4 ounce serving packs about 19 grams of protein.

Cod is also rich in B vitamins. Cod also has phosphorus which boosts the efficiency of those B vitamins in your body. The health benefits are substantial with the choice of this protein.

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Look at this gorgeous cod!

Next cut the cod into 4 pieces. The end of the filet is a little thinner than the rest so that piece can be folded under. We want all of the pieces to cook evenly and this simple step will help with that.

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For portion control 4 ounces of cod is just right.

Next, dust the cod with salt and pepper. It doesn’t need much, but feel free to add seasonings that appeal to you. Lemon pepper or herb de provence are also wonderful additions to this flakey white fish. Fresh cilantro would also work well here.

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Less is more with seasoning this mild fish.

Get 4 pieces of foil that are large enough for your filet. We are making a pouch so make sure the foil is large enough to loosely wrap around each piece of cod. Place the fish in the center of the foil and drizzle with olive oil. We are now going to add some serious deliciousness to the cod-tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese. OOOOHHH so good!

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Use a high quality tomato and fresh cheese for this dish.

Dice up the cheese, and drain a tomato from the can. You will need one tomato for each cod fillet. Lay the tomato over the fillet, and sprinkle with the diced cheese.

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Go as heavy or as light as you want with the cheese.

Now doesn’t that look enticing? Finish it off with a little drizzle of olive oil.

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Heart healthy olive oil adds just the right touch here.

I am an acid person-think vinegars and citrus-so I also layered an acid layer here. A little spritz of vinegar was the perfect addition but you can also add a slice of lemon if that is your thing. Express yourself. When you’ve dressed your cod, simply crimp and pinch the foil to make a pouch for the grill. Seal all of that luscious goodness in, and let’s get to cooking.

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This little pouch of deliciousness will save with the cleanup!

Make sure that your grill heated up and cleaned. The temperature should be around 350 degrees. Place your cod pouches  directly on the grates. Close the lid. In about 10-12 minutes, your pouches will be ready to come off the grill.

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Doesn’t this look heavenly? Better yet, cleanup will be a snap. No dirty pans to mess with when making this succulent dish!

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Delicious grilled keto friendly cod!

How is this for a mouthwatering dinner? Quite spectacular! Never cooked fish before? This is too easy not to try. And if you are eating low carb or keto, dig in. This is low carb and keto friendly. Since your grill is heated up, grill some veggies to go along side your cod. Bon appetite!

For more grilling ideas, see my Girls can Grill blog here. https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill

 

 

 

 

Fresh Summer Salsa

28 Jul

The flavors of summer are ripe, juicy and bursting with colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, juicy berries, and gorgeous tree ripened peaches. And we can’t overlook the herbs exploding in our gardens. Need a new way to enjoy the essence of sunny days and warm breezy nights? Summer salsa here we come!

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Look at this versatile summer fruit salsa!

Need some ideas as to what to do with this summer treat? This fruity delight is delicious with a spicy grilled tenderloin. Or on top of shrimp tacos. Or along side juicy chicken thighs.

Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips. It is a can’t miss with some baked brie cheese in puff pastry. The possibilities are endless!

Want more choices, more flexibility? This salsa recipe offers plenty. It’s bold flavor lends itself to endless substitutions to customize anything seasonal. This salsa is yummy with cilantro, but if your herb garden is overflowing with fragrant  rosemary or leafy basil, add that in place of the cilantro. Got blueberries? Toss those in with or in place of something else. Any firm fruit will do.

But first, lets start with the basic recipe. Where you go from there is up to you.

Begin by chopping your cantaloupe and peaches. Add them to a large bowl. Don’t crowd the ingredients as you will have more to add and a little stirring to do.

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Chop up some cantaloupe and peaches. Side bar-if you have a little leftover, sprinkle it with some bleu cheese and enjoy!

Add some luscious summer blackberries.

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Just look at those gorgeous colors!

Now it is time to jazz up the works a bit. Add in your cilantro and finely chopped onions. Give that all a good gentle stir. You are going to love how these flavors work together.

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A little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, another good stir and your summer salsa is ready! This gets better over time so make it ahead of when it will be served and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. See the full recipe below.

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Amy’s Fresh Summer Salsa

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cantaloupe or 1 cup each canteloupe and honey dew melon
  • 2 ripe peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or thinly sliced scallions including green top
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (may substitute basil)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients together and gently stir. Refrigerate until use.

Secret Ingredient-splash 1 or 2 tablespoons over tequila on the salsa. Then serve with margaritas and fish tacos! Be sure to let me know how your salsa turns out and what you love about it!

Sweet Summer Tomatoes

22 Jul

Oh the bounty of a summer garden! Yummy fresh tomatoes are bursting off the vine this time of year. Don’t have garden? Ramble through the local farmers market and snap up some delicious cherry tomatoes. They are fresh, sweet, and oh so versatile! Not sure what to do? Well keep reading.

Friends just came by and an impromptu summer patio party is underway. Need a quick appetizer? Take those cherry tomatoes, put a small dish of vodka spiked with horseradish beside them, and place a shaker of celery salt there too. Get the toothpicks and Voila! A fun light Bloody Mary appetizer is ready in an instant. Put a cherry tomato on the toothpick, dip it into the vodka, shake a little celery salt on it, and pop it into your mouth. The bite begins with a delicious pop of tomato, then the other flavors flow over your tongue. Yummers!

Want something a little more succulent? Put some olive oil into a pan and heat it up. Add the tomatoes to the hot pan and give it a shake of salt, pepper, and stir.

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Let those cook for a bit, and they will begin to get creamy!

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Be patient and let those cook a bit longer, stirring every so often. Now you can add a clove of garlic that is diced. You will be rewarded-but what is next?  Is this a base on which to jump off, or is this IT? If this is IT, scoop in on a lovely piece of chicken and enjoy. Want to go a different direction with this? Okay-lets go!

You can add this to sautéed summer squash.

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Or you can toss it on some squash that has been through the vegetable twirler and enjoy a light vegetarian main “pasta” dish. Play with herbs a bit before adding to pasta, perhaps adding some fresh summer basil and parsley. Red pepper flakes would also be a well paired addition.

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Ready for another option? Start with colored tomatoes and cook the same way.

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After these beauties get good and velvety, add some spinach, arugula, or fresh green of your choice. Let that cook together.

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Oooohhhh! We are on the train to delicious town! Add some chicken or vegetable stock, stir, and add some pasta.

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This will cook down to an amazing one pot dish. Want to add some shrimp too? Go ahead! This is your time to have fun and personalize this luscious summer meal into something your family will love. Oh, you are cooking for one? Keep cooking! You will be the envy of the office with these leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Let me know what you are doing with your summer tomatoes. Follow me on twitter @amykgarman

 

Basics

12 Feb

If you don’t have one, run out and get one. What in the world am I talking about? A cast iron skillet. It is a kitchen must have. A basic. But don’t go to an expensive kitchen store to get one. Go to your local hardware store. You will find the best brand at your good old hardware store-Lodge.

As I love to cook, I have a couple cast iron skillets. One  of my favorites has ridges to sear a lovely tenderloin, grill some delicious hamburgers. or make a creamy warm panini. There are a zillion ways to use your cast iron skillet. If you keep it seasoned, it will also become something you can hand down through the generations. Here is one of my well seasoned cast iron skillets.

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How do you season it you ask? It is easy. But remember, you need to continue to season your cast iron skillet every so often. Here are some tips to season your skillet:

  • Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse and dry completely.
  • Apply melted solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware inside and out. Too much oil will result in a sticky finish so keep your application thin.
  • Set oven temperature to 350 – 400 degrees F.
  • Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven to prevent pooling.
  • Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.
  • Store the cookware uncovered
  • Repeat as necessary
  • When I use and wash my skillet, I dry it not with a towel but over low heat on a burner.

I recently used this skillet to sear some zucchini for dinner. I simply split the zucchini lengthwise, and sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Next, I got my cast iron skillet good and hot on the stove. Then I seared the zucchini halves with the flesh side down first.

Grilled zucchini in my (very inexpensive) cast iron grill pan.  It was sizzling and searing.  Yum! I seared it much like a piece of meat. After searing one side, I turned it over and seared the second side. I flipped the fleshy side of the zucchini up and put a little freshly served parmesan on top. Ooh! So yummy!

I flipped the fleshy side of the zucchini up and put a little freshly served parmesan on top.  Ooh!  So good!

This recipe is a keeper.  It was super quick, hardly any ingredients, and so very tasty!  It was beautiful on the plate as well.  So look for variety not only in your food, but in ways to prepare them.

 

 

 

Dinner in a Pot

17 Sep

This is the story of an easy, savory, nutritious one pot dinner. Why one pot? A simple reason: it was a busy weeknight and I did not want a lot of dishes. Keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer is key to quick easy meals. I also like to keep fresh produce on hand so I can pull meals together without those pesky after work visits to the grocery store.

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For this dinner, I started out with broccoli and cauliflower in a bowl. Then I tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I put it on a parchement lined baking sheet (remember…few dishes!) and roasted that for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Then I put some sweet little cherry and grape tomatoes into a pot, again with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I then let that simmer a bit. These cook down to a creamy delight. I also added a clove of chopped garlic.

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As that was simmering, I chopped up some fresh spinach and arugula. When the tomatoes were thick and bubbly, I added the greens. I like to mix arugula into my spinach because of the sharp peppery flavor it adds. I gave all of that a good stir.

Now dinner was really smelling delicious. Savory fragrance was wafting through the house, and I was getting really hungry! I took the veggies out of the oven when they were a little brown on the edges, and let them rest not the counter (on a hot pad) for a few minutes. Next it was time to add the pasta.

Angel hair pasta was going to be my pasta of choice because of its short cook time. I wrapped the pasta up in a clean dish towel, then ran the towel over the edge of the counter. This broke the pasta up efficiently and neatly.

Then I added chicken broth to the tomato mixture. After that, in went the pasta. It was that simple. Again, a couple of quick stirs and I let this cook on medium heat. I then went to  pour a glass of wine to accompany this delicious dinner.

When the pasta was al dente (firm to the bite) I was ready to complete the meal. I added the roasted vegetables along with shrimp as the protein. The shrimp was raw, and it only took about 3 minutes for them to cook-any longer and they would become rubbery.

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And Voila! Dinner was ready. It was a complete meal in a bowl. I grated some fresh parmesan cheese on top, grabbed my glass of wine, and enjoyed a healthy weeknight meal. And my one pot meal left me with very few after dinner dishes.

This meal is customizable. Don’t like cauliflower? Try zucchini. Shrimp isn’t your thing? Add some leftover cooked chicken. Want a more robust flavor? Add red pepper flakes and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Want a vegetarian meal? Use vegetable broth and leave out the shrimp. Craving an italian twist? Toss in some fresh parsley and basil. The possibilities are endless-but the after dinner dishes aren’t!

Saute the Squash

30 Jul

I am always looking for something new with my side dishes. At meals, I like to feature more protein, veggies, and fruits than starches. Oh sure, starches are super yummy,  but I tend to opt for fresher options. Since i enjoy cooking, I also like to keep up with food trends and techniques.

That said, I work full-time, am a mom, and have a pretty packed lifestyle. Time is my most valuable commodity. I usually save my big new cooking adventures for weekends when I have more time to tinker in the kitchen. Sometimes I luck out and trying something new can be added into my weeknight “quick cooking” repertoire. Which is exactly what happened recently.

I had a gift card for a cookware store from my sweet sister in law Kathy. What fun! Going into a kitchen store, for me, is delightful and indulgant. But even with a gift card I look for the biggest bang for my buck. In a kitchen store, that means that I would not invest in a “single use” kitchen gadget. What I mean by that is if a kitchen tool only has one use, it has no place in my kitchen. Unitl now…..

I had seen the new trend with sprializing zucchini and squash. “Zucchetti” was the clever moniker, and this new technique for zucchini resembled pasta like spaghetti and lasagna noodles.  So naturally I was drawn to this cool new kitchen tool, and sought it out gift card in hand. Bingo! I found one and couldnt wait to get home and try it.

This gadget was a snap to work from the get go. I spiralized large and small width “Zucchetti”. I sauteed tomatoes to pair with it, and it turned out so well it is now on the dinner table (and lunch leftovers at the office!) quite often. Let me show you what I did.

 

I placed some freshly washed grape tomatoes into a small saucepan with a bit of olive oil, and let that simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes. The tomatoes got saucy, fragrant, and creamy. After that,  I simply sautéed the spiraled squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I then combined the two, and voila! I finished it off with some fresh parsley and basil from my summer garden. With a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese it was a complete, and completely delicious, side dish.

 

 

Zuchetti has become so much more than a simple side dish this summer. I have used this with marinara sauce, a bright lemony shrimp sauce, and other pasta sauces using zuchetti instead of pasta noodles. Whether using this as a side dish or a feature in the center of the plate item, this is a tasty replacement for starchy rice or pasta.

So even though I purchased a kitchen gadget that had basically one function, the flexibility of what can be done with the spriralized zucchini is endless.  Now my zuchetti is a mainstay for light and tasty meals. What can you do with it?