Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pimento Cheese Grits

As you all know well, my friend Rebecca and I are somewhat obsessed with pimento cheese everything...that being said here is another one of our cooking adventures exploring the wonderful world of pimento cheese, original recipe found here.  Since grits are a southern thing we decided to pair this meal with collard greens and the flavors ended up complementing each other very well.  My friend Rebecca and her husband just bought a big beautiful new home with a lovely kitchen so it was necessary to break it in with one of our cooking nights.  In other news 4th of July was a blast!  Two of my friend good friends visited from Florida and we had a BBQ, we went down to the north Portland bluffs and watched fireworks over the river, and we set off our own, all in all a very successful night.  During their visit we also made two river trips to cool off during this heat wave here in PDX.  Our first adventure was up to the Washougal river in Washington where the water was high and still very cold, too cold for swimming in my opinion.  Our next trip was to a secret spot I hadn't ever been to on the Sandy river, the water was warmish, and there was a very large swimming hole with a nice sandy beach (hard to find at rivers in the PNW).  Let the summer adventures continue!

Serves 6

The Ingredients
5 cups water
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups medium-grind stone-ground corn grits
Salt
4 ounces Beecher's Flagship cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
4 ounces Tillamook medium white cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup finely diced jarred piquillo peppers, patted dry
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
 
The Process
1.  In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Whisk in the grits in a slow, steady stream. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until the grits are thickened and tender, about 30 minutes.

2.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk both cheddar cheeses into the grits along with the cream cheese, piquillo peppers and cayenne; season with salt and black pepper. Scrape the grits into a serving bowl, garnish with thinly sliced scallions and serve.
 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Romesco Sauce

I had recently purchased a bag of red, orange, and yellow bell peppers and before I had the chance to use them they started shriveling up on me so I knew I needed to use them quickly.  I decided to adapt this romesco sauce and I served it over chicken and steamed baby artichokes, boy was it delicious.  This recipe calls for pine nuts but I know you could use cashews or walnuts too. Last weekend my boyfriend and I attended our friends beautiful wedding in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest and haven't visited this area it is a must see.  You find yourself driving for miles on end with farmland and fields surrounding you and then all of a sudden there is this massive beautiful forest in the middle of it all.  Another beautiful place to visit in the area is Opal Creek on the Santiam river, it is surrounded by ancient forest.  Summer is in full force and we have several more weddings, camping trips, and adventures ahead of us.  Enjoy!

Makes 3 cups

The Ingredients
3 cups chopped roasted red bell peppers     
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted     
1/2 large onion, diced     
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk    
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley     
Ground black pepper, to taste     
If you want to develop the flavor a little more add honey little by little to taste

The Process
1.  In a blender, purée roasted red peppers and pine nuts. Set aside.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion and crushed red pepper; cook about 5 minutes or until beginning to brown and stick to the skillet. Stir in garlic and broth; cook 1 minute or until liquid has evaporated.

3.  Stir in puréed red pepper mixture and almond milk, whisking until evenly combined (this is also where you would add the honey). 


4.  Simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and black pepper.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sticky Honey & Tamari Pork Chops

I am about to turn 30 and I don't feel any different, often people seem to dread this birthday but to me it feels just like all the other ones.  I can't imagine that my mind or body are going to dramatically change...although there are a couple things in my life that could use a little change.  In other news this week my boyfriend and I are taking a long weekend and heading up to the White Salmon Inn for a romantic getaway to celebrate my 30th birthday.  This includes a 4 hour wine tour where they provide lunch and drive us to each location, I'm excited to say the least.  We are also going to check out the quaint town of White Salmon and visit these places: Feast Market & Delicatessen, Everybody's Brewing, and possibly Henni's Kitchen & Bar.  I haven't ever actually spent time in White Salmon because I have family that lives across the Columbia River in Hood River, which is an awesome little town.  I'm sure it will be an eventful and lovely weekend, definitely a good way to bring on my 30's.  I adapted this recipe last week, mine didn't turn out as sticky but it was still delightful.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 thick pork chops
¾ cup tamari
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chili, finely chopped (seeds removed if needed)
juice of 1 lemon
 
The Process
1.  To make the pork chops, combine the tamari, honey, ginger, garlic, chili & lemon juice in a bowl and mix well.
 
2.  Place the pork chops in a ziploc bag and pour over the sauce. Close the bag and allow to marinade for 20 minutes up to 2 hours.
 
3.  When you are ready to cook the chops, heat a pan over high heat and fry the chops, basting with the sauce until cooked through and sticky.
 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mongolian Beef

We spent this last weekend in Manzanita, Oregon...a wonderful coastal town that still has the small town charm.  Every year I go and my mom's side of the family gathers for a long weekend of catching up and preserving memories, and this one was extra special because my 91 year old Grandpa was able to make it once again.  It was one of those events that was happy and sad because you never know when will be the last gathering that we can all make it to.  Other than that I stuffed my face with a fair amount of non-paleo food including yummy bread, cheese, and pasta!  I have come to a point in the paleo diet that I am strictly paleo during the week but on the weekends I give myself some wiggle room.  I have done this because it is definitely a challenge to eat out while following the paleo diet, not to mention sometimes you just want that cheese plate.  I have just decided to start this so we will see how successful it is.  I adapted this yummy paleo recipe last week, it is an easy weeknight meal and full of flavor.  As you can see I ate it with salad but I would definitely recommend putting it over something like cauliflower rice because the sauce is strong and needs to be diluted by something.  Enjoy!


Serves 3

The Ingredients
2 lb. flank steak
3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbsp. + 1/2 cup lard/bacon fat or tallow
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried ginger
Dash red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup tamari
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
1/3 cup honey
Half a yellow onion, thinly sliced in rings

The Process
1. Cut the flank steak against the grain into 1/4 inch slices.

2. Add the arrowroot powder to a medium sized bowl and mix together with the pepper and sea salt. Dip each piece of steak into the arrowroot powder and shake off any excess coating. Lay coated steak on a drying rack and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. This allows the powder to adhere to the steak better.

3. While your steak is hanging out, you can make the sauce. Heat the 1 Tbsp. of lard/bacon fat or tallow in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and dash of red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute.

4. Add the sesame oil, tamari and broth to the pan and stir the ingredients together. Add the honey and allow it to melt into the sauce, stirring frequently.

5. Turn the heat up to high and continue to stir until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Turn off the sauce and allow it to sit in the pan while you cook the steak.

6. Add your 1/2 cup of favorite fat to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until hot. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes.

7.  Gently drop the beef into the oil using your tongs. Cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Remove the beef with the tongs and place on a paper towel lined plate.

8. Pour out the oil from the pan and add the beef back in. Cook for about 1 minute and then add the sauce. Cook together for about 2 minutes.

9. Remove the beef from the pan and pour any excess sauce into a bowl for anyone who might like some extra at the table. Serve!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chicken Pizza Spirals

Another fantastic weekend is over and we are back to the Mondays that never end.  This weekend I didn't relax much at all, between my boyfriend's parents being in town and watching the dragon boat races we were constantly on the go.  Too much fun to be had and not enough time.  Last Thursday evening I came across this fun recipe and my lovely boyfriend said he would make it for us.  As much as I love to cook it can be really nice when someone else does the cooking.  This weekend I also got my first official sunburn of the season...you think I would know better being mostly Swedish and freckled...

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp. marinara sauce (plus more for serving)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
Dash crushed red pepper (optional)

The Process
1.)  Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and place a piece of parchment paper over them. Pound the chicken breasts until they are all an even thickness (about 1/4" thick).
2.)  Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and spread the mixture over the chicken breasts.
3.)  Roll each chicken breasts tightly, starting at the narrow end, and then cut into thick slices. I usually get about four spirals out of one chicken breast.

4.)  Skewer the slices, making sure to skewer right through the end of each spiral so it will hold its shape. Note: You may want to brush the spirals lightly with olive oil if your grill has a tendency to get meat stuck to it.
5. Grill the skewers for about 5 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with extra marinara sauce.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Happy National Cheese Day

That's right today is the official day to celebrate your true love for cheese.  What are some of your favorite cheeses?  I personally love Mimolette, Port Salut, Spo Ovalie Cendree Herve Mons, and Florette Goat Brie.  The French really really know how to do cheese.  If you are lactose intolerant or following a strict diet here are some awesome "cheese" recipes: Vegan Mac and Cheese, Almond cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, and Cheese sauce.

In other news today also happens to be National Hug Your Cat Day, if you need some hugging instructions check out this link from the Huffington Post. Needless to say if I had a cat I would definitely be squeezing it tight.

For more cheese recipes check out some of my past blog posts:

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Bacon and Fried Tomatillo Pimento Grilled Cheese

Mushroom and Fennel Pie                          

Spinach and Bacon Strata

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Pimento Cheese Spread

Mushroom Goat Cheese Crostinis

Eggplant Cannelloni

Beef Wellington with Bleu Cheese and Mushrooms

New York Steaks with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Greek Mac and Cheese

Panko Parmesan Chicken

Stuffed Mushrooms

Breakfast Casserole with Turkey Bacon

Stuffed Pork Chops

White Bean and Chicken Enchiladas

Parmesan Yogurt Chicken

Prosciutto Goat Cheese Sandwich

Semi-Homemade Pizza 


HAPPY NATIONAL CHEESE DAY!




Photo of Mimolette from http://rhcl.com.au/online-shopping/cheese/mimolette







Thursday, May 29, 2014

Apple Cider Vinegar Pork Chops

Another wonderful paleo meal and probably the simplest dish ever to cook.  As I'm sure you all have noticed I'm a bit obsessed with apple cider vinegar, it's not just the flavor that entices me it is also all of the health benefits.  I personally get Braggs most of the time and if that isn't available I go for the organic and unfiltered bottle, it truly makes a difference in the flavor.  In addition to this meal I steamed broccoli in broth and made my Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes (I have yet to share this recipe).  All in all a filling and delicious meal, enjoy.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
2 medium sized pork chops (bone in)
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

The Process
1.)  Heat olive oil up in a skillet over medium high heat.  In the mean time season the pork chops with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

2.)  Sear pork chops 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown.  Add the apple cider vinegar and chicken stock and scrape up the bits of food off the bottom of the pan. 

3.)  Cover the skillet loosely with foil and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the pork chops are cooked through.  Serve the pan gravy over the pork chops.