Category Archives: Sides

John’s Lemon Brick Chicken

John's Lemon Brick Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 2hr 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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John’s Lemon Brick Chicken
I have been on a diet, or better yet a fast, of “stars / famous people”. When you have an opinion that differs, they seem to immediately place a label on you and try to shame or bully you into their views. Most of these intolerant disconnects get millions for simply pretending to be another character on screen/stage. How can they relate to me and expect to know how I should live and think? I am soo tired of lectures, politics, social justice bullies. So when Jill bought me Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, I took it in with tepid interest.

That said, I was actually really surprised when I leafed through it and saw really great looking food. I’ve never seen her on a cooking show or anything so had no idea of her kitchen talents. It’s not a lecturing cookbook with a single focus on popular food trends ( paleo, whole30, GF, or Vegan) but instead features just great food she likes to make. It’s written in a very relaxed conversational style. I am trying two recipes this week.

So tonight I am going to try her John’s Lemon Brick Chicken and a play on her garlicky green beans. The chicken is very much like my 420 Chicken, chalk full of herbs, but with crispy skin and lemon.

Side note: Speaking of chicken skin, In my adulthood I was also told to not eat skin or fat but ran across a dietician, Dr. Marlene Merritt, who talks about how good fat is for us. When you think about the bone broth craze and you read really old cookbooks they are constantly adding fat/lard not only for flavor but for health. I guess everything in moderation. But her points have helped relax my stand on some intake of natural fats.

Result: Chicken was terrifically juicy with lemony herb notes. My chicken skin probably was over done and I should have kept my pan at medium. I turned it on to heat up the oil and left it on screaming high accidently. I pulled the temp down but should have waited for the pan to come down in heat. It didnt impact the chicken itself. I also should have roated the potatoes for about 15 minutes before adding the beans but I actually like my green beans well done.

Ingredients
2 Free Range Bone in, skin on chicken breasts
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbs chopped fresh sage
4-5 minced and smashed garlic
Zest of a lemon
1 tbs of Kosher salt
1/2 tbs of Black Pepper
2 tsp of Red Pepper Flakes


For Potatoes and Green Beans

Butter
Oil
Salt and Pepper
Squeeze of Lemon


Directions

1. At least 2 hrs before cooking (up to 24 hrs) mix your oil, minced garlic, rosemary, and sage into a bowl. Add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Rub that all over the chicken. Cover and let it rest for 2hrs.

2. I used a large cast iron skillet and instead of wrapping a brick in foil, I just used another smaller cast iron pan for the weight necessary to get the chicken skin nice and crispy. I also am going to finish mine in the oven to roast with my green beans and potatoes. 7-9 minutes on each side of medium to medium high heat. As she states, don’t peak let the heat do its thing. Flip it bone side down, skin side up and cook for another 7 minutes (no weight) and then into a 400-degree oven until done (mine took about 35mins).

3. As for the beans and potatoes. I preheated an oven to 400-degrees. I cut my potatoes into large bite size pieces. Then I cleaned and trimmed my green beans. I cooked them in a pot over the stove in boiling water flavored with salt, stock, and miso. I let em rip for about 10 minutes and then removed and drained them.

4. Then on a cooking sheet, I added my beans and potatoes and coated them in butter and garlic and squeezed lemon juice over them. Tossed around until coated and then into the oven until tender.
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Roasted Chicken Shawarma with Cosmic Hummus

Roasted Chicken Shawarma with Cosmic Hummus

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 60mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Roasted Chicken Shawarma with Cosmic Hummus
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Apologies for the infrequent posts lately, but I have been traveling a lot so haven’t been able to cook much. The other night I was in the mood for some good Middle Eastern food. We have a place locally that makes this crave worthy shish tawook where the chicken is perfectly moist and full of flavor with little burnt parts from the flames.

I decided to roast mine in the oven versus over the flames on skewers. Roasting does allow you to keep it nice and moist because it simmers in the juices imparting more and more flavor as it cooks. Another note is I used chicken breast because my lovely wife hasn’t come around on the greatness of chicken thigh meet. When I make dishes where she can’t tell I will slide a few thighs in there.

I’ve made hummus several ways… garlic, roasted pepper, jalapeno etc..but I spotted a recipe from a local joint called the Cosmic Cafe that used cucumber and cilantro which sounded good due to the freshness they would add. It was different and a good compliment to the tangy and spicy schwarma. I used store bought Naan bread and also a box of Rice a Roni. The rice and pasta combo just works. Don’t use the package seasoning in those boxes but instead make your own mix with high quality spices.

Ingredients:
Chicken Schwarma
2 free range air chilled chicken breasts
1 white onion sliced
stems of cilantro (leftover from hummus)
4 cloves of smashed garlic
2-3 lemons juices
squirt of Sriracha
1/2 cup of olive oil
splash of pickle juice
1 tbs of paprika
1 tbs of turmeric
2 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
Kosher Salt and Pepper

Cosmic Hummus
2 cans of Garbanzo Beans
1 lemon juiced
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 pealed cucumber
handful of cilantro
2 tsp of garlic powder
1 tbs of paprika
Pinch of cumin
Kosher salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Prep: wash your cilantro, peel your cucumber, cut your onion, juice your lemon and smash your garlic. Score your chicken breast. Also for the cilantro rip off a handful for the hummus and put the rest in the marinade for the chicken.

1. Marinate your chicken. Add everything into a Zip-Lock bag and let it marinate over night or at least two hours. The lemon will help tenderize the chicken and the spices get an opportunity to be absorbed into the chicken.

2. Make your hummus but rinsing your garbanzo beans and pull out some of those shells you will find. Personal preference. Add the beans, cucumber, cilantro, garlic into a food processor and pulse. Slowly add your lemon juice and then your olive oil. I put 1/2 cup of olive oil in my ingredients but eyeball it and add as much as you like or until you get the hummus to the consistency you like (thick or thin). Add your spices and let it blend for 5 minutes more.

3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you like dryer chicken use a larger pan like a 9 x 13 or go with a smaller dish or pan if you want it more juicy. Add all the contents into the pan and roast the chicken for about 40 minutes. Check on it about thirty minutes into the roasting and turn it or move things around. I flipped mine because I was going to a “wetter” chicken. When your chicken is cooked, remove the cilantro and discard, Remove your chicken and slice it into the bite sized pieces and add it back into the pan and move it around to coat it in the sauce. Serve the chicken and onions with your sides…

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Coconut Fried Shrimp with Mango Sauce and Coconut Pineapple Rice

Coconut Fried Shrimp with Mango Sauce and Coconut Pineapple Rice

  • Servings: 2-6
  • Time: 60 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Coconut Fried Shrimp with Mango Sauce and Coconut Pineapple Rice
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Last Saturday on Foodnetwork’s “The Kitchen” they did a show titled “Winter Escape” where they made food from the Caribbean. You know lots of coconut and Pineapple flavored stuff. They brought in Caribbean chef named Julius Jackson
who made some of his coconut fried shrimp with the mango dipping sauce. It just looked and sounded really good to me so I gave it try. Sunny did a marinated skewered pork with a side of coconut pineapple baked rice. So I made that too.

I was an admitted shrimp hater when I heard them described as the roaches of the sea but I came back around and now will have them on occasion. One of the best things about them is how fast and easy they are to cook. You can whip up a batch in no time.

This turned out well. My only complaint was my crust didn’t stick as well as I wanted. I didn’t have enough oil to submerge the shrimp so it’s really my fault because I had to jack with them while cooking to make sure they fried evenly. So I likely did most of the damage but the crust that did stick was delicious with that pop of sweet and chewy coconut shreds in the batter. I thought the sauce was good but a little too tangy and could have used a little more sugar and more heat. As for the rice it turned out great with this mellow coconut back not with a punch of sweet from the pineapple. Also this was the first time I baked rice outside of a casserole and it turned out nice and fluffy. I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:
6-10 Shrimp per person (peeled, deveined, butterflied, tail in tact)
Peanut or Vegetable Oil to cover 5 shrimp at a time.

Batter (wet)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/4 cup of Sriracha
pinch of Cayenne
2 tsp of Paprika
Kosher Salt

Batter (Dry)
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup + of sweetened shredded coconut
1 tbs of corn starch
1 tbs of white sugar
1 tbs of paprika
1 tsp of cayenne

Mango Sauce
1 mango skinned and diced
2 limes juiced
1 tbs of sugar
1/4 cup of Sriracha (less if you want)

Coconut Rice
1 cup of Jasmine Rice
2 tbs of Butter
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of canned diced pineapple
pinch of cumin
2 pinches of Paprika
Pinch of Kosher Salt and Pepper

Directions:
1. The rice takes the longest so I started with it by preheating my oven to 350 degrees. In a sauce pan heat up the coconut milk, butter, water and spices until they simmer. Rinse your rice until it becomes clear. Pour the rice into your simmering liquid and then pour that mixture into a 8 x 8 baking dish. Add the pineapple and spread everything until its even. Cover tightly with foil and cook in the over for about 30 minutes. Don’t peak until 25 minutes passes.

2. For the shrimp.. heat your oil in a pot that will contain/fry about 5 shrimp a time without touching. You want your oil to heat to 350-375. Your shrimp are likely going to be cold so take that into account. I mixed my wet batter ingredients in one pie dish and the dry batter ingredients in another pie dish.

As I shelled, deveined and butterflied my shrimp, I placed them into my wet batter mixture as if it were a sort of marinade. If you haven’t deveined shrimp I will try to describe it but you could also probably find a video on youtube. I grip the tail and remove the shell keeping the last part of the shell in tact near the tail’s end. Carefully with a sharp and small knife make strokes right in the middle of the curled side of the shrimp. You will see the vein and simply grab it and pull it out and should remove in one piece. Small stroke your knife until the large part of the shrimp lays flat on that big end. The reason for this is it not only looks cool but it gives you more surface area so you have more crust.

3. Once your oil is hot, take five shrimp at a time and remove them from the wet batter and put them into the dry batter until fully coated. Carefully lay them into the oil and cook for about 3-5 minutes when the crust is nicely browned. Remove them and place them on a wire wrack to drain. Work in batches until done.
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4. For the sauce I put everything in a blender and blended until smooth.

Fluff your rice and plate everything up. Enjoy.
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Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

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The other night I needed a quick dinner so went to the fridge and freezer and decided on whipping up gnocchi dish and wanted to go on the creamy side with the sauce over tomato based. I took a ham steak that I had on deck for breakfast and diced it up. For the sauce, I had some Parmesan cheese and Basil Pesto so I had the salty and savory covered and thought by using peas to pop it with some sweetness.

It turned out as a great and rich dish that satisfies on a cold winter night. You could treat this as a soup/stew and pair it with a sandwich or even as a side that could replace elevate a mac and cheese type side.

I do apologize that I have been lazy with my photos. I have two or three more posts that you will have to suffer through and then I will take a little more time to make them more representative of how they taste.

Ingredients:
Trader Joe’s package of gnocchi
1 ham steak (diced)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1-2 tbs of Basil Pesto
1 cup of milk
1 tbs of butter
1 tbs of flour
1 cup of fine grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup of frozen peas

Directions:
1. I started off by dicing my ham steak and putting it in a pot on medium low heat. At the same time that is cooking get another pot boiling for you gnocchi.

2. When the ham takes on some color I added the flour and butter to make a small rue. When the flour turned light brown took the heat down to low and added the garlic and pesto. Cooked it for about a minute to remove some of the bite from the garlic. Then slowly added the milk. IMG_0912

3. Keep some of the pasta water to thin your sauce if it happens to be too thick. Add the gnocchi, peas and grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir it up until everything is coated. I put a dollop of the basil pesto to finish it off. IMG_0920

Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas

Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas
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We made these on New Years Day and they were amazing. Truth in advertising, I bought my black-eye peas from Central Market in these clear containers that were either partially cooked or just soaked. They weren’t dry nor were they canned. So if you go to your market and can’t find the right ones you can go the dried route and soak overnight and cook per the instructions on the package or if you are in a hurry you could buy frozen or cans.

My second cheat here was that I bought a new Fagor slowcooker/steamer/pressure cooker for Christmas. That thing is awesome. I pressure cooked for 8 minutes and everything was done as if it cooked for 3 hours. I picked it up on sale for about 100 dollars and it is really going to be worth it for soups, veggies, rice, risotto, meats etc.. Here is a link to the one I bought if you are interested.
http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-2195139/Fagor+Lux+Multicooker

What I love about these recipe is that the smoked sausage gives it such a salty smokey flavor and the corn bread counters that with a kiss of sweetness. Of course we like spicy so added jalapenos to the black-eyed peas and the cornbread. I read that this recipe was adapted from Emeril. I actually ate this for four straight days I loved it so much but I am a bean and greens nut.

Ingredients:
12 – 16 ounces smoked sausage
1 cup chopped yellow onion
Green onions to garnish
4 whole cloves garlic
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of Pickled Jalapenos
2 lbs black eyed peas (not canned, not dried but from Central Market pre-soaked)
1 tbs salt
1 tbs of Black Pepper
4 splashes of Tabasco1
1 teaspoon cayenne
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
chicken stock to cover

1. Directions are pretty easy if you buy the black-eyed peas the way I did. As mentioned above if you cook from dried beans it will require you to soak overnight and cook for much longer to get the tenderness you want in your peas. Dice your onions, jalapenos and sausage. I cut my sausage links in half and then rotated 180 degrees and cut that link in have and then diced. So basically if you cut a the link into a disk and then cut into four equal pieces.

2. I added the sausage and browned it over medium heat. I then added the onions and sweated them out until translucent. I smashed the garlic cloves and added them and let them cook for a minute. I added the rest of the ingredients and pressure cooked them for 8 minutes and kept them on simmer while I cooked my cornbread for about 30 minutes.

Serve with jalapeno cheddar cornbread, green onions, jalapenos and/or cheddar cheese.

New Year Greens and Black Eyed Beans

New Year Greens and Black Eyed Beans

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 3hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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New Year Greens and Black Eyed Beans
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I am a sucker for collard and mustard greens. If I see them on any menu they will be ordered. To me the best greens are cooked to death and super tender with zero give or tooth to them. I also like them mostly savory and salty with a touch of acid. I am not a fan of drowning them in vinegar pepper sauce.

For Christmas I was in charge of cooking a Thanksgiving like menu given some of our family didn’t get to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving. I cooked a spatchcocked turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and needed a green. I have been doing a lot of Brussels sprouts lately and they are great but my Mom lives about 30 minutes away and by the time I get over there they change their texture so I decided to depart and try something else. I landed on Collard Greens. I figured we are so close to New Years that I would do an extra lucky side that combined collards and black eyed peas. Only my Mom and I are avid collard fans but everyone raved about them.

The trick here in my opinion is cooking them to death. Drop them in a slow cooker and walk away for 3-4 hours. Depending upon your palate you can adjust the acid vs salt but here is how I made mine.

Ingredients:
6 bunches of collard greens
4 carrots (diced)
1 onion (diced)
1-2 cans of black eyed peas
3 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 ham steak (diced)
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
1 tbs of Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:
1. Dice your carrots and onion. Remove the spine from your greens and then lay them on top of each other and chop them into ribbons like you would do to make tortilla strips.

2. Put everything in a slow cooker and turn on high for 3-4 hours. Taste and adjust your seasoning. Tabasco is great on them but not for a crowd.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Dreamland BBQ Sauce

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Time: 8hrs
  • Difficulty: easy
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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
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Texas clearly values BBQ Brisket over any other protein. That said, I will try and enjoy it all and truth be told I probably go 50/50 on beef and pork. I also enjoy the vinegar that you find in the Southeast. So when I asked Jill what she would like this week, she said let’s do BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.

For tonight I didn’t go all out with a coleslaw topping or anything but it’s always welcomed on a pig sammie. I did make a potato salad with two russets some mayo, sour cream, pickled jalapenos and green onions. I won’t include the recipe because I truly winged it. That said you can search my blogs for sides like potato salad or beans etc.

After eight hours in the bath the pork can’t help but get fall apart tender. In fact, fishing it out of the crockpot was a challenge. I also like to add sauce only on the top of the mound of pork to let the pork shine. Always butter and griddle your buns until you get a nice brown “crunch” texture. This will help it hold up to the moisture of the overall sandwich.

Ingredients:
Pork Shoulder
1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup of water
1 onion sliced
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs of yellow mustard
2 tbs of ketchup
Buns

Rub
Equal parts depending upon size
1 tbs of Chili Powder
1 tbs of Onion Powder
1 tbs of Garlic Powder
1 tbs of White or Brown sugar
Pinch of cumin and cayenne optional.

Directions:
1. Take your shoulder and apply your dry rub and let it sit. You can let it sit overnight if you so choose.

2. In your crock pot on high heat set for 8 hours add your sliced onions, minced garlic, apple cider vinegar, water, mustard and ketchup. Lay your rubbed shoulder in your crockpot. It should almost cover the shoulder with about 1/4 of it sticking out. Cover and walk away. Around the 7 to 8 hour time you can turn it but it will be done. Shred the pork

3. Toast your bun, apply your pork and your favorite sauce on top. I picked up a bottle of Dreamland BBQ sauce out of Alabama. It’s a nice blend of Carolina and TX sauces. Serve with Beans, potato salad or whatever you like. See my side recipes for ideas.
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