Chicken Fried Steak from a Yankee

I’ll admit it — I know nothing about Southern cooking except for what I’ve seen on the Food Network. But I’ve been experimenting with some Southern recipes and liking the results. I am far from an authority on Chicken Fried Steak (I am a Jersey girl after all), but I had some cube steak laying around and figured, why not? For those of you who don’t know, cube steak is the meat of choice for chicken fried steak. It is a cut of beef that has been tenderized, usually by a machine if mass-produced, but sometimes by a meat hammer. It’s a nice, cheap cut of steak that cooks up rather quickly and comes from the top round or top sirloin. The cubing (a.k.a. tenderizing) machine may even fuse two pieces of meat together to form one cutlet.

I was pretty happy with the dish, but it was too rich for me. I am more into light food, like roasted fish or sauteed veggies. Between the red meat, the frying, and the double-coating, this amounted to a hearty meal. It was tasty, and I highly recommend it, but I am such a light eater that I probably won’t be making it again unless I haven’t eaten all day.

This version is a fusion of a Bobby Flay recipe & an Alton Brown recipe. Those two guys know what they’re doing so I don’t mess around too much with what they’ve come up with. It’s also quite straightforward: dredge the steaks in seasoned flour, egg, then flour again. Fry. Make sauce. Serve. Enjoy!

Oh, and you should probably serve these steaks with mashed potatoes and collard greens!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Baked Salmon with Lemon Caper Butter

I freely admit that this recipe is completely ripped off from Matt at Wrightfood. This man is amazing at cooking seafood and even more amazing (if that’s possible) at photographing it! He wrote about an ingenious slow roasting technique for oily fish — let it come to room temp in olive oil and then bake at a low temperature for less than half an hour. Easy peasy.

And the sauce! Wow! The sauce is so. good. It’s the simplest thing in the world. He recommends adding herbs, but I don’t even think you need them. Which brings it to a grand total of three ingredients: lemon, capers, and butter. That’s it. That’s all you need. It’s a great sauce for any seafood. The lemon really stands out, but not enough to make you pucker. The capers bring their distinctive salty/briny flavor. And who doesn’t love butter? Did I mention it takes less than a minute to make from start to finish? Combined, they make a perfect sauce that can be served over any fish.

Serve this with a simple side, like roasted potatoes or some steamed brown rice. Everybody will think you spent hours slaving over the stove.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Indian Style Green Beans

A quick and easy one today. This green bean recipes comes courtesy of my mom. My favorite way to eat green beans has always been stir-fried with garlic, then steamed for a few minutes with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  But even that gets boring after awhile and this recipe is a a great savior in that regard.  The spices play in the background, never overwhelming your taste buds like some other Indian dishes can. A squeeze of lemon adds brightness and it’s so much fun to listen to those mustard seeds pop in the hot oil!

The only point where mom and I disagree is texture. I like my beans crisp, fresh, crunchy, just warmed through. A satisfying snap when you bite into each one. Mom prefers a soft, limp bean that barely needs chewing. I tend to think they’re soggy and mushy, but I’m not gonna knock it because the flavors are that good. They will seduce you no matter how long you steam them.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders from a Yankee

So what if I’m a Yankee attempting some down-home Southern cooking? These babies are delicious. And they’re also a labor of love. Each step isn’t particularly hard, but it does take time. I made the BBQ sauce myself – about an hour of cooking time. I made a spice rub for the pork and let it penetrate the meat in the fridge overnight. I roasted that pork butt in the oven for hours. And honestly, I didn’t anticipate how long it took to pull apart a hunk of meat with two forks. I had to take a break and let my man do the rest of the work. But it all worked out — that meat was so tender I barely needed to chew.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of dilly-dallying by a grill for hours on end so I had to bake this in the oven. Next time, I’ll see if I can get some friends to come out on a lazy Sunday afternoon and drink beers by the grill while a pork butt smokes in there to be ready in time for dinner.

And can we take a step to the side and speculate why it’s called pork butt? Because it comes from the shoulder part of the pig. The actual butt (as in, hindquarters) of a pig is a ham. Why do they call the shoulder a butt? It’s also sometimes known as Boston butt. It’s not like pigs come from Massachusetts. I just don’t get it.

And we’re back from the tangent. Let me tell you a couple of things that I learned while creating these succulent sliders.

1. You need a spice rub for your pork and it should contain some brown sugar. You should rub the meat with a thin coat of oil and then cover with the spice rub and let it hang out in the fridge overnight. This is because some spices are oil soluble so their flavor really shines when they’re sprinkled onto a layer of oil and it also helps them stick. The combo with brown sugar forms a gorgeous and flavorful crust all over the pork during cooking.

2. The pork needs to cook “low n slow” – at a low temperature for a really long time. This helps dissolve the fat and connective tissues to help the meat become fork tender. You should let it come to room temp before cooking and let it rest for at least 15 minutes after (covered in foil to keep it warm). These steps help the meat to keep its juices and stay moist and wonderful.

Read the recipes and the rest of the post here…

Lime Fish Sauce Chicken

This chicken dish is extremely easy. And, unlike a lot of recipes on this site, comes from bottled food. I usually rally against that kind of thing, but I’m not ready to make my own peanut butter, chili sauce, or fish sauce. It’s a healthy and quick way to make a tasty sauce. I’m crazy so I check the ingredients labels to make sure my pre-packaged foods don’t contain preservatives, artificial flavors, or tons of salt and trans fat. Or maybe just contain as few of these things as possible.

I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled fish sauce, but it is pungent. I mean, that smell will tickle your sinuses, and not in a good way. But you need to power through. Once the sauce warms up, it lends a salty, well-rounded flavor and that stench disappears. The addition of peanut butter makes the sauce creamy while some lime juice adds a fresh burst of acidity.

Serve with white rice and chopped peanuts. I also like to add a steamed green, like spinach or broccoli. Drizzle the leftover sauce on top and you have yourself a simple meal!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Southwest Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Mayo

So it was turkey burgers again the other other night. I love turkey burgers — they can be so moist and flavorful if you make them right. I found a recipe for a chipotle mayo online and decided the patties needed some spicing up as well. So instead of just salting and peppering the ground turkey, I mixed in a bunch of spices for flavor, an egg and onion for moisture, and crushed tortilla chips to keep with the southwestern theme.

The star of this recipe is the chipotle mayonnaise. It’s creamy and tangy but has a lovely crunch from small pieces of onion. It has a background of fiery heat, which you can increase by adding adobo sauce if you like more heat.  It didn’t take too long to put together and only needs a bun, some greens, and maybe a tomato slice to make you happy.

The chipotle mayonnaise also makes a yummy dipping sauce for french fries and keeps up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

The other day, I decided I want to have a Cinco de Mayo party. In all honesty, I just wanted an excuse to drink tequila and eat delicious food. So a happy boozy holiday to you and yours! I’ll be serving chicken tacos and letting the guests put them together on their own. Here’s what I’m featuring at my party. Hope it’ll inspire you!

margarita cocktail recipe
Margaritas! (recipe here): This one’s a no-brainer.
mexican chicken taco
Chicken with taco seasoning (recipe here): I’m going to serve it with soft corn tortillas and the stuff below.
easy side dish red cabbage cole slaw
Red cabbage slaw (recipe here): Not really Mexican, but it’s super tasty in tacos.
Spanish rice (recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes here): I love this rice – so easy and so flavorful.
Black beans (no recipe): Just canned beans simmered in chicken broth and salt with a sprinkle of cumin until warmed through.

Haven’t decided on dessert yet. Maybe margarita cake? Or tres leches cake? Or how about flan?

I’d love to hear about your plans for Cinco de Mayo. What are you eating/drinking/doing? Let us know in the comments below!

Margaritas

Updated for Cinco de Mayo with new photos!

Who doesn’t love drinks with dinner? Usually we stick to wine, but I just had to make margaritas for my Southwestern food night (chipotle-lime chicken recipe here and black bean & corn salsa recipe here). You will find a ton of variations for margarita recipes on the web, but I love this particular combination of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. I prefer fresh lime juice over sour mix because it has a brighter flavor and really perks up the drink for me. I also love salt around the rim because it’s a great compliment to the strong flavors in the margarita. If you want, you can throw this mix into a blender to make frozen margaritas, but I like mine on the rocks.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Homemade Mayonnaise

Adding to the list of condiments that are a million times tastier when made fresh at home than bought from the store, I bring you hand whisked mayonnaise. I’d be lying if I said my arm wasn’t tired after whisking constantly for about 10 minutes, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t even like store-bought mayo, but this fresh stuff is a whole ‘nother story. It’s smooth and tangy.

It doesn’t taste processed or greasy the way the stuff in a jar does. And the best part: it doesn’t have all those nasty preservatives and add-ins. It’s a pure, simple recipe that you can customize however you want. The flavors are so unique and bold that I suggest a simple serving like above, with steamed artichokes. Dip those leaves in the mayo one by one and scrape off the good stuff with your teeth. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy it.

If you own an immersion blender, you don’t even have to worry about a tired arm from the whisking. It literally comes together in 30 seconds. Just dump all ingredients in a narrow container with oil on top. Turn on the blender at the bottom and then slowly lift it up, blending the whole time. That’s it! But that’s not how I did it. I made it the old school way — the way chefs were making it for hundreds of years before food processors came along.

Mayonnaise is an emulsion — the binding together of egg yolk with oil. If you make it the classic way — the Julia Child way — you have to add the oil a teeny tiny bit at a time, otherwise the delicate mix won’t come together or, if it’s already blended, it might break. But learning to make mayo by hand, you get an appreciation for the condiment and for the method. I recommend everybody make this at least once in their lives. Who knows? You might never go back to Hellman’s again!

See step-by-step photo tutorial and read the recipe here…

Chili Pork in Sweet Maple Sauce


In a desire to keep this blog (and my diet) from becoming all chicken all the time, I am making an effort to buy different cuts of meat at the store.  It’s actually been a challenge, since I am primarily a poultry and seafood eater. But in an effort to branch out, I’ve been buying pork. It helps when it’s on sale. I bought a thin-sliced pork loin, which is really lean and cooks up in a matter of minutes. I also did a pork chop loin, which is thicker and takes a while longer to cook. In both cases, I used the same sauce.

And in both cases, it was definitely a success. The sauce was sweet and complemented the pork really well. The whole recipe comes together very quickly and I recommend it for a weeknight meal. You can have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes!

I served this with a spinach side. I just sauteed some spinach in the leftover pan juices and added a some raisins and pine nuts. What a quick and easy side!
Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…