Fried Pickles, Tru Pickles and On a Stick Cookbook

September 18, 2011 at 7:54 am | Posted in Appetizers | 35 Comments
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What’s your favorite thing to eat on a stick?

I think mine has always been corn dogs, but after reading through the newest addition to my cookbook collection, corn dog status has officially become threatened. Let’s take a small peek into Matt Armendariz’s first cookbook On a Stick.  I don’t think I need to tell anyone that Matt is a rock star blogger, a professional food photographer and now a published cookbook author.

Matt’s photo from On a Stick cookbook. (I was given permission from the publisher to print this photo.)

My photo and the recipe I made from On a Stick cookbook.

Note to self:  find a blue weathered piece of wood.

I’m killing three pigs with one bird in this post. (Yes, I’ve been playing way too many games of Angry Birds on my I-Phone).

  1. Fried pickles has been on my list of things to make for a long time.
  2. A couple of months ago I uncharacteristically wildly waved my hand to receive a free copy of Matt Armendariz, or Matt Bites, new cookbook. As a “condition” of receiving the cookbook they asked me to talk about it on my blog.  I am gladly obliging.
  3. This gives me the opportunity to talk about a great local product; Tru Kosher Dill Pickles. And they’re jarred right here in my backyard in Littleton, CO.

Fried Pickles With Ranch Dressing:  I must say, I was taken with this tasty dish. This is the first time I’ve had them and I loved the warm, crunchy, flavor packed appetizer. Truly a treat for the palate. Matt’s recipe in the book called for pairing sweet gherkins with cocktail onions and dill pickle chips. The trio is then skewered on a stick for great little presentation. For the dipping sauce, I used a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. It’s been years since I’ve bought it and I had forgotten how good it is.

Fried Pickles With Ranch Dressing, On a Stick Cookbook

  • 8 wooden cocktail picks
  • 1 qt. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. buttermilk
  • 1 T. dill, minced
  • 1-1/2 C. seasoned bread crumbs
  • 8 gherkins
  • 8 cocktail onions
  • 8 dill pickle chips (I used sliced Tru Kosher Dill Pickles)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 C. store-bought ranch dressing

Preheat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.

Mix flour and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and dill. Place bread crumbs in a second shallow bowl.

Thread 1 gherkin, 1 cocktail onion, and 1 pickle chip on each cocktail pick. Once oil reached 350 degrees F., toss skewers in flour mixture, shaking off excess; dip in egg and then dredge in bread crumbs until fully coated.

Drop skewers gently into oil and fry 4 – 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Serve with ranch dressing.

On a Stick cookbook.  I’m glad I wildly waved that hand to receive a copy of this book. Chock full of fun recipes and great photos, it’s a welcome addition to my collection. With a line of foods that you’d expect to serve on a stick, like corn dogs and satays, he also throws us some curves with fun ideas for deep-fried mac and cheese, pizza skewers and potato chips on a stick. And are you ready for this one…Spaghetti and Meatballs on a stick. Also offered is an extensive dessert section with cinnamon rolls on a stick and deep-fried candy bars. FUN stuff folks. And of course, each recipe partners with a beautiful photo to entice you into hunger.

I’ve already got several recipes bookmarked and look forward to making many of these fun dishes. Thanks for a great cookbook Matt.

Tru Pickles.  As I mentioned above, these pickles are bottled not literally in my backyard, but in Littleton, CO. That means I’ve got a “neighbor” turning out some delicious pickles. They say “You’ve never tasted a dill pickle like this”. They’re very good and packed to the gill with crazy good flavor and yes, I’ve never tasted a pickle like this. Grape leaves are packaged in each jar for crispness and a unique flavor experience. I love that they’re a local product, I love how crunchy they are, and they are the most flavorful pickle I’ve ever eaten. They are sold nationally, so take a look at their web-site, Tru Pickles to find out where you can pick up a jar.

So with all that said, whether it be a pickle or spaghetti, get out your skewers and eat something On A Stick.

Fried Pickles…They’re What’s for an Appetizer.

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Pico de Gallo

August 9, 2011 at 5:57 am | Posted in Appetizers, Mexican/Southwest | 36 Comments
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Wow, has this ever been a slow culinary week around our house. I really can’t come up with anything very bloggable at all. One night was a quasi-interesting tomato and fresh mozzarella pizza with a crust that we could have used to drywall the unfinished basement. Another was a lack luster whole wheat spaghetti concoction which produced only a single comment of “leaves a funny taste in your mouth!” Another evening we found take out and dried out sushi on the table. It’s been sad folks.

So, just as our local news channels do during a slow news week, I’ve come up with a whimsical piece as filler until some breaking news comes along.

Once our Colorado produce starts coming in, it seems like my mind-set automatically shifts towards Mexican food. Fresh and simple with lively colors and exciting flavors. I just don’t think there’s anything that showcases our state better, especially when the chile roasters get fired up. The aroma is intoxicating.

Pico de Gallo…yup, even a monkey could make this one and that’s exactly what this monkey did. Twice this week, I’ve chopped up fresh Early Girl tomatoes from my garden, diced some sweet onions and jalapenos and sat on the couch with my Costco 55-gallon drum of organic corn chips and enjoyed some delicious fresh fare.

Here’s my pico recipe, nothing earth shattering, but you pico purists will notice I use sweet yellow onion as opposed to red onion. Let’s take a look.

My Pico de Gallo

2 diced tomatoes
1/2 C. diced sweet onion
1 diced jalapeno, seeded and deveined for us
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 Hatch green chile, roasted and skin removed, chopped
a sprinkle of dried Mexican oregano, or about a teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper and a smidge of sugar

Taste and adjust any ingredients and flavors.

Pico de Gallo and a 55-gallon drum of Costco Corn Chips…It’s What’s for a Summer Snack.

 

Micky Duffy’s Pineapple Sheet Cake

July 31, 2011 at 5:53 am | Posted in dessert | 44 Comments
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I got the recipe from our friends Greg and Cauleen who got the recipe from Greg’s cousin Jimmy’s wife, Lisa, who got the recipe from her 2nd cousin’s wife Micky Duffy who brought it to Lisa’s bridal shower 29 years ago. Each invitee to that shower was asked to bring their favorite recipe to share with the bride-to-be. Which by the way, isn’t that a wonderful idea?

Jimmy and Lisa live in Missouri and visit Greg and Cauleen each Summer. This photo of them was taken on a day trip to Vail.  During their visit, we were invited over to Greg and Cauleen’s for what I thought was to be an innocent afternoon meal,  meet cousins Jimmy and Lisa, and enjoy your normal run of the mill pot luck food, only to find myself blindsided by a couple of fabulous food discoveries. A bottle of the best BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted which was a Missouri souvenir they brought to Greg. And this delicious cake that Lisa prepared for the pot luck, which upon my first bite had me begging for the recipe…and I don’t even like cake.

First let’s talk about Blues Hog barbecue sauce that hails from Perry, Missouri. An original recipe created by Bill Arnold, the Pit Master and Chef of the Blues Hog Cookers.  Their website tells me that the formula is award-winning and made from the highest quality sugars and spices in a way which sets their standards high above other commercial sauces. It contains no preservatives, is low in calories and contains no fat. The sauce has been successful in winning many competitions and is being sold and shipped all over the United States and  foreign countries.

To me the flavor was a perfect blend of spicy and sweet and as their web site says “sticks to your meat”. I can’t remember what Greg grilled, but I most certainly remember how good that sauce tasted.

Barbecue schmarbecue…let’s take a look at this cake.

Not only did Lisa serve up this delicious cake, but just happened to have with her the original hand written recipe that was given to her 29 years ago. A food blogger’s dream come true. You really should give recipe this a try. It’s a super easy cake to make and with a can of crushed pineapple, incredibly moist and dense. When topped with that cream cheese, pecan frosting, every bite is divine and addicting.

Thanks to Lisa for sharing this with me, it’s now my go-to “wow them” recipe.  And believe me there’s a reason Micky Duffy underlined “very good’

Micky Duffy’s Pineapple Sheet Cake…It’s What’s for Dessert.

Grilled Asparagus and Steak Salad with Hoisin Vinaigrette

July 1, 2011 at 6:07 am | Posted in Beef, Salads | 35 Comments
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During the summer months, I cannot get my fill of lean meats, greens and fresh homemade vinaigrettes.  Here’s another recipe for a flavorful dish with an exciting new dressing.  Don’t let the length of this recipe scare you away, this salad packs bright flavor with minimal fuss.

Grilled Asparagus and Steak Salad with Hoisin Vinaigrette (Another great find from Food and Wine Magazine)

Continue Reading Grilled Asparagus and Steak Salad with Hoisin Vinaigrette…

Bean Salad

June 4, 2011 at 8:39 am | Posted in Beans, Welome to Kansas | 24 Comments
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As a kid, growing up on a farm in the middle of Kansas, the Memorial Day weekend was a declaration of  “let the summer games begin”.  School had just let out, swimming pools in town were open for the season and summer softball leagues were in full swing.  The horseshoe pit in the back yard was open for business and June bug wars with the cousins was in full swing.  Three action-packed months lay ahead of us before school started again around Labor Day.

Continue Reading Bean Salad…

No Recipe Required: Cauleen’s Fruit Dip

June 1, 2011 at 7:18 am | Posted in Fruit, No recipe required | 19 Comments
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One small tub of Cool Whip.

One container of pina colada flavored yogurt.

Mix together and serve as a dip for a fruit tray at your next party.

Cauleen’s Fruit Dip…It’s What’s for a Party!

One Year Ago:  Simple Glaze For Grilled Shrimp

Two Years Ago:  Cream Cheese Flan

Lamb Kabobs with Arugula and Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

May 28, 2011 at 8:52 am | Posted in Lamb, Light Meals | 32 Comments
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I’m sure hoping you’ll sit up and take notice and give this one a try very soon.  And preferably on a work week evening for a quick easy meal that just happens to end up on your plate as restaurant-quality delicious.   Now that’s a treat that deserves a standing ovation.

Continue Reading Lamb Kabobs with Arugula and Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette…

Balsamic Reduction Sauce, or Balsamic Glaze Recipe

April 30, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Chicken, Condiment | 33 Comments
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A few years ago at a highly acclaimed Denver restaurant, I ordered a dish of crab cakes that were served drizzled with a wonderful balsamic glaze. One bite and I was inquiring the waitress for a recipe or method to make the glaze. She exclaimed it to be incredibly easy “Just bla..bla..bla.. then bla..bla.. and then just bla and voila and you’ve re-created an exact replica of this glaze that is sitting in front of you“.

The very next day I went to work in my kitchen to recreate the process. Well, the “bla..bla..bla..then just bla” instructions led me nowhere near the result from the restaurant. 

Recently I blogged about our monthly Wine Time event. Our friend Kathy brought some bottled balsamic glaze to drizzle over some bread and blue cheese. I mentioned in my post how delicious it was, and that it was purchased in Omaha, and I was hoping to find some in Denver. Well, lo and behold, Michele to the rescue! Michele over at  Cooking With Michele, quickly fired over her own recipe for Balsamic Glaze. I was thrilled to say the least.  Michele is a Denver food blogger, a trained and talented chef, a cooking instructor and a sommelier. With credentials like that, I knew her recipe would be spot on. And with her side note of…

“This one’s easy, I promise! The more you let it reduce, the thicker it will be. And while it might not seem too thick when it’s hot, it thickens more when it cools. I keep mine in a squeeze bottle in the fridge to have on hand – good on chicken, fish, pork, beef, parmesan cheese, strawberries, ice cream, cheese and more!”

I couldn’t get to the kitchen fast enough to give it a try. While the sauce was simmering, I skewered some chunks of chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled them and simply arranged them alongside a mixture of baby greens. I drizzled on Michele’s wonderfully aromatic and thick dark glaze over the greens and the chicken and had a simple but incredibly rich flavored meal. 

I can’t thank you enough Michele. I now have my own little squeeze bottle of this black gold in my refrigerator, of which I feel incredibly smug. 

For the recipe, head on over to her site for her Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze recipe.

Balsamic Glaze…It’s What’s for Making Dinner Special.

One Year Ago: Chicken Marengo

Crab Cakes Benedict With Spicy Hollandaise Sauce

April 24, 2011 at 10:58 am | Posted in Breakfast, eggs | 39 Comments
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There are so many things to talk about with this post.  A new method (for me) to make Hollandaise Sauce in a blender, a great new flavor for the Hollandaise Sauce, and a double-yolked egg when I went to make the Hollandaise Sauce. 

I guess there’s really only one thing to talk about…The Hollandaise Sauce.

When making the sauce, I cracked open an egg and found a two yolks?  Timeliness is critical when making Hollandaise, so no photo of the twins. Have you ever seen a two-yolked egg?

This recipe comes courtesy of my favorite local specialty store Tony’s Market.  I subscribe to Tony’s Culinary Club, receive emails for mid-week specials, weekend specials and recipes courtesy Chef Mick.  Throw in all the wonderful products available in their stores and it’s a culinary extravaganza.  This recipe came through on an email and I couldn’t wait to give it a try.  Let’s take a look.

The crab cakes were a cinch to make.  I simply purchased them premade at Tony’s takeout dinner section and sautéed them until golden brown.

Photo from bonappetit.com

The new edition of Bon Appetit magazine featured a  five-minute method for making Hollandaise Sauce in a blender. I really thought this sounded like a simplified solution to the otherwise  finicky stove top production. Worked like a charm.

  • 1 1/2 C. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed  (I couldn’t bring myself to use this much butter, I reduced to 1 1/2 sticks and then added two tablespoons of very hot water to make up for the loss of butter)
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper

From here I incorporated seasonings  for Chef Mick’s spicy version.  Not exactly what the recipe called for, but I used what I had on hand.

  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of Aleppo Pepper
  • A pinch of Ancho chile powder or Chipotle chile powder for some smokiness

Fill a blender with very hot water, set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Remove pan from heat. Drain blender and dry well. Put egg yolks and 2 T. lemon juice in blender; cover and blend to combine . Working quickly and with blender running, remove lid insert and slowly pour hot butter into blender in a thin stream of droplets, discarding the milk solids in the bottom of the saucepan. Blend until creamy sauce forms. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more lemon juice, if needed.  Serve immediately.

To build the Benedict: toasted English muffins, sautéed crab cakes, a poached egg and all drizzled with spicy Hollandaise sauce. 

The Verdict:  DEElicious.  What a wonderful combination of flavors.  The blender Hollandaise turned out to be perfectly luscious and creamy in texture and really did look just like Bon Appetit’s photo.  Making the Hollandaise sauce a bit spicy was such a nice compliment to the crab cakes and with the creamy yolk from the poached egg…MUUUUWAAAA.  An exquisite combination of flavors.

Crab Cakes Benedict With Spicy Hollandaise Sauce…It’s What’s For Sunday Brunch.

One Year Ago: Crispy Tilapia Tacos

Grilled Chicken Wilted Salad

April 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Chicken, Salads | 34 Comments
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During the week I try to plan lots of light-meal salads for dinner. They’re salads that contain lean meats, lots of greens and vegetables tossed into a single dish meal with a lively vinaigrette. Not only are they delicious and healthy, they also make way for weekends filled with cheeseburgers, Italian sausage laden pasta dishes, bacon and egg breakfasts and dare I mention…ice cream topped cinnamon bun bread.

This Grilled Chicken Wilted Salad is one of my favorites. It comes together in about 30 minutes and can practically be made one-handed without having to put down your after work/before dinner glass of wine.  The combination of flavors here are striking thanks to the warm dressing, Kalamata olives and rosemary dusted chicken tenders.  And with the techniques of tossing the chicken and onion in olive oil before cooking and finishing by steaming the whole dish covered with a plate, you end up with a nice texture and wonderful warm flavors. Let’s take a look:

Grilled Chicken Wilted Salad

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloin
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise, cut into thin wedges (this might be the only time you’d have to set down your wine)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • 3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup cranberry or pomegranate juice
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 6-oz. pkg. baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds, toasted

Heat indoor electric grill or grill pan over medium heat.

In a bowl combine chicken and onions. Toss with two tablespoons of the olive oil, rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon each pepper and salt.

Grill chicken and onions on grill rack or in grill pan for ten minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink, internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F, and onions are tender, turning once. 

Meanwhile, for dressing, in a saucepan combine juice; vinegar; and remaining olive oil, pepper and salt. Bring  juice mixture just to boiling; remove from heat. Place spinach, olives, pine nuts, chicken, and onions in an extra-large salad bowl; toss to combine. Pour warm dressing over salad mixture. Toss lightly. Cover salad with a large plate for one to two minutes or just until spinach is wilted. Remove plate. Serve immediately. Makes six servings.

Grilled Chicken Wilted Salad…It’s What’s for Dinner.

One Year Ago: Ranch Grilled Chicken Tacos

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