Thursday, June 6, 2013
Layered summer vegetables in a casserole is nothing new but in our household, a dish without a sauce or filling, or a vegetable pie without a crust is very much new. Heck, a side dish without butter causes eyebrows to rise with the mere mention of lack of such.
This is a take on an old southern garden favorite featuring the bounty of fresh, summer vegetables without using a crust, any butter or a binder such as mayo or heavy cream. In other words, it is a much healthier option version of a Tomato and Squash Pie and it's taste is outstanding; a real bonus when you are watching carbs and calories. A classic casserole truer to southern kitchens made a while back melding tomatoes with yellow squash is my Squash and Tomato Wonder. Other pies include Tomato Pie, Tomato Spinach Pie, Fresh Corn and Tomato Pie and Vidalia Onion Pie.
Healthy Squash and Tomato Tian
4 small yellow squash
3 medium vine ripe tomatoes
1 small Vidalia onion
extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced crisp bacon
2 tablespoon part-skim milk cheese blend
Slice squash, tomatoes and onions uniformly in quarter-inch disks. Lay on double thick paper towels. Lightly sprinkle the top with salt.
Allow to set at least an hour to draw away liquid. Lay another layer of paper towel on top to absorb liquid and wipe away moisture and salt.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large 10-inch pie plate, add enough olive oil to coat bottom. Add layers of squash, onion and tomatoes. Give a light sprinkle of seasoning and add the bacon. Repeat with a second layer of vegetables and seasoning. Drizzle with olive oil. Follow topping with the cheese.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. Serve hot.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Our family’s favorite way to grill chicken is by using whole chickens cut in half sections rather than quarter sections or cut pieces. Many times it is hard to find chicken halves in the grocers meat counter. You can always have your butcher cut them in half for you (which means running through a saw) or you can buy whole chickens and do it yourself. I use a large meat cleaver to whack down each side of the neck bone all the way down removing the tail as well. This allows me to flatten the chicken a bit so I can make a good cut through the breastplate and thus cutting the bird in half. Be sure to remove most fat pockets, unless you like a lot of flare-ups during grilling, and excess skin as well. From here, its up to you rather to apply a brine or a rub, or maybe both as I many times do.
See How to Barbecue Chicken and Poultry
See How to Barbecue Chicken and Poultry
Today, I am using a good seasoned brine (marinade) and will reduce it down for a sop (mop) as well. It is one I made up as I went along and if you do so too, be sure to get a good acid/salt to water ratio that will pump in the moisture and flavors. After you let it set in the refrigerator a spell, cook it on the grill as you normally do when grilling chicken. Or you can see my many recipes and techniques I do if you desire. Enjoy!
Brine for Barbecue Chicken
for 2 chicken halves
First make a slurry to heat which will intensify the flavors. Add to a large bowl:
5 garlic toes, sliced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Spanish or Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons Sazon Completa (which contains the salt)1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir to mix and add:
2 cups ice water
2 chicken halves placing meat side down.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Remove chicken to a pan meat side up and sprinkle with a light dusting of Sazon Completa. Let chicken set out for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the brine to a large saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer until liquid reduces to about 2 cups.
Stir in 1/3 cup ketchup (and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke if desired). Allow to simmer for a few minutes and remove from heat.
Use this sop to mop on the chicken as it cooks. Use all of the sop and place the garlic on top the last 10 minutes of cooking if desired.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
There are so many good side dishes we are enjoying this time of year thanks to just harvested, fresh vegetables. So many of which go well with our favorite pastime; that is time spent on the patio while grilling or barbecuing. This dish along with a good cold, creamy pasta or potato salad, and maybe roasted corn, is about all we need to serve while enjoying our love for outdoor entertaining,
I have made a similar reduction before or a recipe using similar ingredients in a gravy for fried pork chops. This time, I chose to make it (less calorie redux) for a flavorful addition using two of my favorites this time of year: Fresh green beans and Vidalia onions. Enjoy!
Roasted Green Beans with Sweet Vidalia Onions
and served with a wonderful Southern Apple Reduction
1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 Vidalia or sweet onion, sliced into vertical strips
2 garlic toes, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 sweet cooking apple, such as Gala, peeled and 1/4-inch diced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
pinch of sugar or Splenda
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon real bacon bits, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Wash the green beans, pat dry and for ease, cut with kitchen shears into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Place into a bowl along with the onions and garlic. Toss with the olive oil and add a little salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until beans wilt and begin to roast. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove to a serving dish and keep warm.
Meanwhile, place apple, chicken stock, vinegar, thyme, paprika and Splenda in a small saucepan and heat over medium high. Reduce down to about 1/4-cup; remove from heat and strain sauce into a small bowl mashing the solids with the backside of a spoon to render as much sauce as possible. Discard the solids. Add sauce back to saucepan and reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Add margarine and when heated, remove from heat.
Before serving, drizzle sauce over green beans and sprinkle with bacon bits if desired. Serve immediately.
recipe by +drick perry
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Much earlier in time, way back in my youth, as oppose to now-a-days living here in the 'big' city, I grew up in a small town atmosphere where life was ever so simple, or so it seemed as a child. I remember, even though we used the term 'city' to describe the town, it was not; think along the lines of a metropolis Mayberry. The town's main commerce pretty much consisted of the central street running from the train depot and underpass to the courthouse up on the hill. Now, down the hill near the depot were many stores including my uncle's hardware store and across the street was one of our favorite eateries that served many of the townsfolk. I remember several birthday parties there as well as many lunches with Uncle 'Punch' and my Grand-daddy 'Cotton'. This area of course was known as downtown. And, up on the hill, near the courthouse and county's governing seat was another uncle's storefront and across from that, a corner eatery where I too enjoyed many lunchtime meals. This of course was called uptown and there were storefronts lining the street there too, but also many lawyers and 'uptown' folks. And right dab in the center, conveniently located for everyone was the local bank. Now I must mention that to get from downtown to uptown took all of five minutes; walking that is. It was much faster in a car, including being held up at the stop-lights.
I also remember pretty much everyone in the city eating fish on Friday's. I am not for sure why, it wasn't because of religion, not that we were not a religious town, just not Catholic. Grandmother normally served bream like bluegill or shellcracker, or what-ever had been caught and stored in the freezer. Momma liked the newfangled fish-sticks. At the restaurants we enjoyed catfish and most always it was prepared fried. I suspect if we ever saw anyone serving poached or broiled fish, why, we would probably think they done gone 'uptown'.
This recipe is actually a really healthy option and you can prepare it any day of the week, not just on Fridays. Each serving contains only about 9 carbs and if you use tilapia, you can cut it down to about 4 carbs per serving. Enjoy!
Catfish and Spinach Roll
4 servings (or halve the recipe as I did for 2)
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 garlic toes, minced
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
11 oz package fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon wine vinegar (I used O Pinot Noir)
Salt-free seasoning (like Mrs. Dash) or seasoning to taste (I also like whole-grain mustard here too)
fresh black pepper to taste
4 oz low-fat feta cheese, cut into 4 pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a dish for baking by oiling with extra light olive oil.
Soak the fish fillets in the milk for at least an hour in the refrigerator, not more that three.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the bell pepper and cook to soften. Add the spinach and cook stirring occasionally until spinach is just wilted. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the wine vinegar and salt-free seasoning. Toss to mix flavors.
Drain milk from fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Place one fillet in baking dish and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Add a slice of cheese in the center and add one-fourth of the spinach mixture on top of the cheese. Roll up the fillet and secure with a toothpick. Place seam side down in dish and repeat until finished rolling all fillets.
Bake in the oven about 20 minutes or until flesh is tested done with a fork. The fish should be firm all the way through and flakes easily with the fork. Remove and garnish with lemon. I like to plate and add a squeeze of lemon over the fish.
Afterthought: Why soak in milk? It's like saying "yes ma'am" to the ladies, I mean, it's just the way I was taught. I was told it made catfish 'sweeter' and truth-be-known, buttermilk is the norm.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Stewed, Sautéed or Wilted, it all taste good.
This is a very easy recipe that I like to make, not only because is it low in fat and calories, but also 'cause it is so darn tasty. Yes, as you read it, it does have a smidgen of butter, but ya gotta use it if you want the spinach to absorb and pick up the essence of this recipe, and that is the wonderful simple, yet fantastic flavors.
Now you can trim the ends of spinach if you like; I know, it makes for one fine, silky tasting experience, but I do not at times, it does not bother me one bit. And for the best ever taste, cook this right before serving, dishing it right out of the skillet while steaming hot and not covering it with a lid as doing so causes it to wilt even more, at it did for me last night as I finished another dish. However, wilting it down so didn't change the taste one bit. Enjoy!
about 4 servings
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 or 3 sweet red mini peppers, sliced or 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic toes, smashed and diced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pound baby spinach, washed and patted dry
seasoning blend to taste (I use Badia complete)
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the onion until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mini sweet peppers and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar and mustard.
Increase heat to medium high. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts down just a bit, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste. Stir to fully incorporate. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm but doing so will result in something like stewed spinach.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Good any time of the year and especially when vegetables are young and tender, garden fresh, this recipe is so easy, so good and affordable too. Most items are in the 'fridge and pantry anyway so there should not be too much to add to your shopping list. Chocked full of flavor and vitamins, this recipe is not to bad in carbs if you use turkey sausage and margarine, that is, compared to my original way.
This meal comes together really fast once you get to cooking so it is important to have vegetables and sausage sliced and ready before starting to cook. It is also important to have vegetables cut in uniform size so each cooks just right.
Southern Stir-Fry Vegetables
A very satisfying plate of fresh vegetables with good ol' Southern flavor.
2 large meal servings or 4 sides
1/2 pound smoked Conecuh (mild or spicy) sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices - or use turkey sausage to reduce fat
1 to 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
1 cup trimmed green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large carrot, sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup sliced onion
1/3 cup sliced bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced mini sweet peppers
2 medium yellow squash, sliced
salt, pepper, garlic seasoning blend
2 cups chopped fresh green collards, turnips or cabbage
1 cup broccoli florets
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons dry white wine or flavored vinegar
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, optional
Heat wok or large skillet over medium high heat (or 375-degree F. if using electric) and cook the sausage stirring all while until brown on both sides. Remove to drain on a paper lined plate and wipe wok with a paper towel.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and when hot, add the green beans and carrot. Toss and cook 1 minute. Stir in the celery, onion, peppers, squash and seasoning mixture. Toss and cook about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and additional oil if needed; cook stirring for another minute. Add the broccoli and cook tossing for another minute.
Add the chicken stock, wine and butter. Toss and continue to stir lifting from bottom cooking another 2 minutes or until vegetable are crisp tender.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Reduced sugar version without loosing taste.
As I prepared this recipe for a cookout last week, I wanted to maintain the version of baked beans I know belong on plates along the South. One with a deep brown sugar, cane syrup or molasses base and made just like I was taught, with ketchup, mustard and bacon to help deepen the flavor. But the thing about my making a different recipe other than using my regular one, was that I needed one suitable for diabetics. So, I turned to Mayo clinic and found a recipe that formed the basis for this one. To my surprise, the Mayo version contained molasses and bacon.
I opted to start with dried beans only because I think they are better for diabetics. I skipped the molasses and used Splenda brown sugar blend. I like to use Spenda 'cause it doesn't break down during cooking and do funny things or become weird tasting. Now as for keeping the taste true to what barbecue beans should be, I caramelized the onions and added savory ingredients for the depth. Hope you try this one, and to be honest, I couldn't tell much difference than when I use 1/3 cup brown sugar in my regular recipe. Enjoy!
Barbecue Beans for Diabetic Eating
8 to10 servings
1 cup dried navy or northern beans (3 cups soaked)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3 strips thick cut bacon, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle pepper sauce
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup low sugar ketchup
1 teaspoon reduced sodium Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar blend
To prepare the dried beans: In a large saucepan, add beans and cover with water 2-inches above the beans. Add the vinegar and bring to a boil. At boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour. Drain.
Add the soaked beans back into the saucepan over medium high heat along with the chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for 60-75 minutes or until beans are cooked. You can tell when they are still firm yet give easily when mashed. Turn off heat, remove bay leaf and let set covered.
In a small skillet, saute the bacon over medium high heat until bacon is brown and crispy. Remove bacon to drain on a paper lined plate. Discard all but 1-tablespoon of the bacon grease. Saute the onions until clear. Remove from heat and add the bell pepper.
Mix the cider vinegar with the remaining ingredients in a 3-quart casserole with a tight fitting lid. Stir in the onion and peppers. Spoon the beans on top and even out. Add enough of the bean liquid to cover about 1-inch.
Place in the oven covered and bake about 1 1/2 hours. Stir every 30-minutes and add more broth if needed.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Easy grilling with a superb and unrivaled outdoor taste.Nothing beats the taste of grilled beef kabobs. And there aren't too many fine meals that come together so effortless either.
A little prep time of cutting the beef sirloin, top round or tenderloin into sections of about 1-inch x 1/2-inch along with a few savory vegetables is all the time you need in preparing this one. Well, you gotta whip up the marinade of course and thread the skewers too but after that, it's a quick trip to the hot grill and in no time flat, you're on your way to some fine eating. Be sure to cut the vegetables (like onions, bell pepper, squash, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, etc.) the same diameter as the beef. And be sure to place the onion and bell pepper directly next to the meat for added flavor.
I let the beef marinate about an hour and brush it on as the kabobs grill away. Be sure to place the kabobs over a hot fire and watch carefully, it won't take no time at all. Why, I bet you won't be able to finish your beer.
I can't wait to try this marinade on chicken wings too. It is outstanding in flavor and made the meat tender and the vegetables extraordinarily tasty.
Fajita Marinade for Kabobs
~works well on chicken too
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons low sodium Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic toes, minced
1 teaspoon pure clover honey
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning
1/4 teaspoon course ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra light olive oil
Allow the meat to marinate at least an hour, two would be great. Use the marinade to brush on the kabobs during the first rotation of grilling.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The beginning of a mouth-watering and head nodding approved meal in our house normally begins with a long stare at the entree as it arrives to the table. In this case, a thick ol' southern fried pork chop seasoned perfectly.
I say perfectly 'cause this is how we do it. Each bite of this moist, well flavored chop is a celebration of goodness. And if cooked right, not only is it tasty but tender as can be and so moist, that the juicy goodness runs down the fork. Now of course, ya might want to save all the pan renderings for some good ol' brown gravy, as we do sometimes, or you might want to go with the simplicity of enjoying the chop naked. And if you notice in this recipe from way back when frying was acceptable, and was the mainstay on every southern table, you will notice good ol' shortening is used as the oil of choice. Butter is added to assist in acquiring a nice, ultra-thin crispy brown crust from a simple dredging in the seasoned flour. No egg, milk or buttermilk here, simple and pure. Enjoy!
Country Fried Thick Pork Chops
2 servings - or increase for more servings
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup Crisco
1 tablespoon butter
2 -1 to 1 1/2 inch thick pork chops
In a wide, shallow bowl, mix the flour and cornstarch with the seasonings.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pat the chops dry with paper towels. Season lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. In a wide enough skillet without crowding the chops, heat the shortening over medium heat. Dredge the chops in the mixture coating both sides well.
When shortening is melted and hot, add butter and just as it starts to color, shake excess flour from chops and add to the skillet. Cook 6 to 8 minutes per side.
Remove chops to a baking pan and place in the oven. Cook until internal temp is 145, about 15 minutes. Let rest tented with foil for 5 minutes before serving.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Turkish in origin, the famous shish kabab, or kabob as we say it, is an easy, inexpensive and quick way to enjoy dining al fresco. Shish, meaning 'skewer', is also fun to cook and eat.
On the way home from work, a stop at the grocer the other day had me puzzled as to what to prepare for supper. Instantly I thought of kabobs. Chicken marinates fairly quickly especially when you cut it into bite size pieces and it cooks in less than 15 minutes. While the meat marinates is plenty of time to prep the onion and bell pepper to aid in flavoring the chicken on the skewers. And during this time, I steamed a bunch of asparagus, prepped the bread and also had a left-over casserole heating in the oven. Ninety minutes later, we were enjoying a wonderful meal on the patio as the sun went down for the evening.
This is a simple yet flavorful marinade that I think brings out a great, grilled chicken taste. Enjoy!
Chicken Kabob Marinade
about 4 servings
2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken, breast or thigh meat, cubed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon light vegetable oil
Whisk the lemon juice, soy, vinegar, garlic powder, pepper, salt, bay leaf powder, onion powder and cayenne in a medium bowl. Whisk in the oil and mix in the chicken coating well. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove and thread onto skewers for grilling. Use the marinade as a grilling baste during the first rotation.