My recipes are meant to be shared and enjoyed. I welcome you to re-post my recipes and text. I ask only that you credit me and include a link to my blog if you post any of my content.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stuffed Chicken With Sherry Mustard Sauce

Recipe For Stuffed Chicken With Sherry Mustard Sauce

(Very slightly adapted from this Food Network recipe)

Cooking spray
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves *
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Creole mustard

Preheat the broiler.  Mist a shallow rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.  Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the broccoli and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain in colander and rinse under cold water until broccoli is cold.  Drain well and pat dry with paper towels.

Chop the broccoli and toss in a bowl with the Gruyere and garlic.  Insert a paring knife into the thickest part of each chicken breast to make a 3-inch deep pocket.  Stuff each chicken breast with the broccoli mixture.  Rub both sides of the chicken breasts with olive oil and thyme and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes.  Put the chicken in the pan and cook until golden brown and just cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.  If the chicken begins to brown too quickly, turn the heat down to medium to finish cooking through.  Transfer to the baking dish.

Meanwhile, combine the evaporated milk and chicken stock in a small saucepan, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Stir the sherry and cornstarch together until smooth, then pour, whisking constantly, into the sauce.  Cook until just thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan.  Top each chicken breast with 2 tablespoons of sauce and place under the broiler.  Broil until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk the mustard into the remaining sauce.  To serve, spread mustard sauce on each plate and top with a chicken breast.

* For the juiciest, best-tasting results, brine the chicken breasts before preparing the recipe.  Combine 1 quart of water with 1/2 cup Kosher salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Warm over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until salt and sugar dissolve.  Remove from heat and add 1 quart of ice cubes.  Put chicken breasts in a heavy duty zip top plastic bag, pour in the brine, and refrigerate for an hour or two, giving the bag a little shimmy-shake every now and again.  Drain the brine and prepare the stuffed chicken recipe above.

Homemade Creole Mustard

If I knew how well this would turn out, I would have made more!

Homemade Creole Mustard Recipe

(Adapted slightly from this Creole Mustard recipe on the Nola Cuisine blog)

1 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or regular crushed red pepper)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup brown mustard seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch ground allspice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Steen's Pure Cane Syrup
4 tablespoons Colman's mustard powder

Sterilize a small canning jar and lid.

Bring the vinegar, Aleppo pepper, and garlic to a boil in a small saucepan.  Turn off the heat and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes, then strain the mixture and discard the solids.  Bring back to a boil, then add the mustard seeds, turn off the heat, and let steep for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar mixture with the horseradish, cayenne, allspice, salt, sugar, and cane syrup.  Whisk in the mustard powder.

Pour into the sterilized jar, put the lid on, and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.  When cool, tighten the lid and make sure the jar is sealed.  Place in a cool, dark place and let mature for 3 to 4 weeks before using to allow the flavors to marry and mellow.

Refrigerate after opening.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Poached Chicken With Teriyaki Sauce

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

1 1/2 cups sake (one of those cute little bottles)
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2-3 inch piece of ginger (to taste), unpeeled, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup mirin
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons sambal oelek (to taste)
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

Simmer sake, soy sauces, and ginger over medium heat until reduced by about half.  Strain and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add garlic and cook until softened, being careful not to let it brown.

Increase heat to medium, add mirin, and cook until the alcohol smell is gone. 

Add pineapple juice, rice vinegar, brown sugar, honey, sesame oil, and sambal oelek and simmer and stir until the brown sugar is completely dissolved.  Add the strained sake/soy/ginger mixture.  Add the green onions.  Continue cooking at a low boil until sauce is reduced by about half.

Use as a dipping sauce, glaze, or marinade.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In Loving Memory Of My Daddy

Sadly, my precious Daddy died in his sleep in the early morning hours this past Wednesday.  He had defied the odds and the doctors' expectations for decades, since his first cancer diagnosis in 1967.  His positive outlook and strong spirit were an inspiration to all who knew him.  He was always a "glass half full" kinda guy.  He used to share his profound philosophical observations, things like:   Any day you're not six feet under is a good day, and, Don't sweat the small shit; everything is small shit.

He came from a humble and difficult background, but with his determination and the support of my Mother, he earned a college degree, became a business executive, and later a business owner.  I can still remember being picked up early from school in the second grade to go to my Daddy's college graduation, after the many, many years that he had attended night school (in addition to working full-time) to complete his degree.

He was so smart, not just booksmart, but human nature smart.  You couldn't pull anything over on him.  You think you're going to leave the house on a date wearing no brassiere?  Yeah -- no, ain't going to happen on eagle eye Daddy's watch! 

He was the kind of person you couldn't help but like.  He cared deeply about his family and friends, and his family looked to him for guidance.  He was the one his nephews called for help when they were in trouble.  He was the patient who'd only been at the nursing home for two months, but whose death moved many of the staff to tears.  Even when he couldn't really communicate verbally, there was such a serenity about him that you couldn't help but be drawn to him.

He was the Daddy who left work early to come to the school parking lot and make my uncooperative car start before they locked the gates.  He was the Daddy who showed me how husbands should treat their wives by the way he treated my Mother.  As children we used to say, "Ooh, mushy," when he came home from work and they kissed and danced around the kitchen.  As an adult I'm so thankful for the example my parents gave me of what a happy marriage should look like.

I'll miss my Daddy every moment of my life, but I'm so thankful that he's finally free of his earthly body and in heaven at peace.

My Daddy's Obituary:

Roy B. McDonald, 71, passed away on Feb. 16, 2011, after surviving treatment for brain cancer in 1991. Roy, a 44 year cancer survivor, was first treated for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1967 and again in 1989.

A Celebration of Roy's Life will be held at a future date.

Memorials: American Cancer Society or First United Methodist Church, 313 N. Center, Arlington, Texas 76011.

Roy was born June 28,1939, in Hunt County, Texas, to Eugene V. and Susie Fulenwider McDonald. He graduated from Mineral Wells High School in 1958 moving to Arlington in 1965 with his wife, Janna, after serving in the U. S. Army. He received his BBA from UTA in 1973. Roy was employed by Texstar Plastics for 14 years, IMI for four years, then in 1984 started a recycling company, R&D Plastics, selling it in 2003. Roy was a man of his word, a true gentleman, and a loving husband and father.

Survivors: His loving wife of 48 years, Janna, who cared for him in sickness as in health; their four children and spouses, Kearby and Gordon Rives, Alan and Ariane McDonald, Kate and Cliff Burgoyne, and Andy McDonald; grandsons, John Wisdom, Troy, Evan, Sean, and Ian McDonald, and Trey Burgoyne; granddaughter, Chandler Burgoyne; brother, Ed McDonald and wife, Loyce; brothers and sisters-in-law Pierce and Joan Chandler, and Donna and Timothy Honsinger; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weeknight Delicious Nutritious Tomato Sauce

Pasta or pizza sauce fortified with veggie puree is a great way to sneak nutrition into your kids' diets.  I love to spend all day Saturday roasting veggies in the oven to make sauce; roasting gives veggies so much flavor.  But let's be realistic, not everyone has a full day to devote to sauce-making and not everyone wants to spend their day in the kitchen.  Here's a quicker, easier version that's still full-flavored and nutrition-packed.  This recipe will make enough sauce for two to three lasagnas or pasta dishes, so freeze the extra for later.  It freezes beautifully.

Weeknight Delicious Nutritious Tomato Sauce

2 medium onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each
Cloves of 1/2 to 1 head of garlic, to taste, peeled
1 bell pepper, cut in quarters
1 zucchini, cut into 4 or 5 pieces
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning (I like Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle)
1/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 14.5-ounce cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 29-ounce can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs. ground beef, optional
1/2 to 1 cup pinot grigio, optional*
Olive oil

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add the onion and celery and saute/sweat until translucent.

Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add canned tomatoes and bay leaves.

While onion and celery are cooking and tomatoes are warming, place the carrots in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until they're roughly ground.  Add garlic cloves and pulse until roughly ground.  Add bell pepper and pulse until roughly ground.  Add zucchini and pulse until everything comes together into a thick puree.

When onion and celery are translucent, add garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes to "bloom" the seasonings.

Add the veggie puree from the food processor to the skillet.  Reduce temperature to medium-low heat, and continue cooking, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until the liquid cooks off and the veggies smell very fragrant.  Be careful not to let them scorch.

Pour the veggie mixture from the skillet into the stockpot or Dutch oven with the tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper and wine.  Continue simmering over medium-low heat, tasting and adjusting seasonings as desired, and stirring often.

If you're adding ground beef, brown it in the skillet you used for the veggies.  No need to clean the skillet in between.  Pour meat into a collander to strain off the fat and add the meat to the tomato sauce.  Continue simmering until the sauce is reduced to the consistency you want.  Don't forget to remove the bay leaves.

* I like Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio for tomato sauce.  You can usually find it for $10 or less per bottle.  Although you can skip the wine if you want and still make a good sauce, wine and tomatoes "love each other," and the wine greatly enhances the tomato flavor.  Alton Brown explained it all in a Good Eats episode.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Turkey Chipotle Meatloaf With Mushroom Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Although significantly modified, this recipe is inspired by "Jane's Chipotle Meatloaf" and "Mushroom Gravy" from the Reata cookbook.

Turkey Chipotle Meatloaf

1.2 lbs. 85/15 ground turkey
1/2 small onion, diced
2 green onions, sliced
small bunch parsley, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 canned chipotle pepper, minced
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 egg
splash of Worcestershire sauce
a couple pinches of Kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper
2 slices of bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I suggest using disposable gloves for hand-mixing recipes with ground meat.  Combine all ingredients except bacon until well mixed.  The mixture will be soft and sticky.

Choose a dish that the meatloaf mixture will fit in comfortably; this will be a mold for the meatloaf.  Line the dish with plastic wrap, allowing plenty of extra plastic wrap to extend beyond the dish.  Spray the plastic wrap inside the dish with your Misto sprayer or other oil spray.  Spoon the meatloaf into the dish.  Refrigerate for about an hour to allow the meatloaf to become a bit firm.

While the meatloaf is refrigerating, parcook bacon slices over low heat until much of the fat has rendered but bacon is still pliable.

Place a baking rack over a sheet pan or roasting pan (if you line the roasting pan with aluminum foil, clean-up will be a breeze.  Fashion a piece of aluminum foil the approximate size of the meatloaf and place on the center of the baking rack.  Unmold meatloaf onto the foil piece.  The baking rack allows the grease to drain away and the aluminum foil keeps the crumbly-textured turkey from falling through the rack. 
Place the rendered bacon slices crosswise over the meatloaf.  Bake for 60 to 90 minutes, until the exterior of the meatloaf is golden brown and crispy, then allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Mushroom Gravy

Note:  I didn't have chicken broth or veal stock on-hand, so I substituted chicken and beef bouillon.  Homemade stock would be better (and obviously less salty). 

2 cups chicken broth
2 cups veal stock
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the chicken broth and veal stock (or substitute 4 cups of water and a chicken bouillon cube and a beef bouillon cube) and tomato paste in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium and simmer to reduce the liquid by half.

In a large saute pan, combine the mushrooms, onions, and garlic.  Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and cook over high heat.  When the mushrooms have browned, remove from the heat and reserve.

In a large saucepan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Whisk in the flour, a little at a time, to make a roux, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture turns light brown.  Remove the roux from the heat and let cool.  Return the reserved, reduced stock to a boil.  Add the cooked roux to the boiling stock, stirring to avoid lumps.  Reduce the heat and let simmer until the gravy thickens.  Add the sauteed mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.

Place meatloaf slices over your favorite mashed potatoes and spoon mushroom gravy on top.

Pork Belly Futures ... Economics Of Pork

Your initial investment ...

... yields dividends like these ...

... and these.

Don't worry, this isn't an essay about the stock market.  Just a recap of our recent pork projects ... no, not a critique on wasteful government spending either, hahaha.  With apologies to our friends in the financial sector, butchering and curing your own pork products is much more fun than analyzing the stock market; and with no apologies to bureaucrats, our charcuterie is very frugal.  Nothing gets thrown away except a few bones that have already given up all their porcine goodness.

As posted here:  Plunging Headlong Into Charcuterie ... Homemade, Home-Smoked Bacon, I was lucky enough to purchase three bone-in pork belly chunks recently.  I weighed them after removing the bones from all and also removing the skin from one portion for pancetta, and weighed them again when finished.  If you're lucky as are we to live near some good Asian markets, it's easy to find pork bellies with or without bones.  Once we really master this process, I'd like to start ordering pork bellies from local, organic purveyors to get an even higher quality product, but we'll stick to the less expensive bellies while we're learning.

Trying to compare costs is a bit apples to oranges.  The homemade bacon and pancetta is more expensive than crappy store-brands, but less expensive than gourmet market products.  I think ours compares very favorably to the gourmet stuff.  Plus essentially everything is used, bones, skin, and all, and you know exactly what's in your food.

Bone-In Pork Belly Price, $2.99/lb.

Beginning Weight of Pork Belly

#1  8.55 lbs. (final product peppered bacon)
#2  6.32 lbs. (final product regular bacon)
#3  5.57 lbs. (final product pancetta)

Trimmed Weight of Pork Belly

#1  6.18 lbs. (bones removed)
#2  5.6 lbs. (bones removed)
#3  3.62 lbs. (bones and skin removed)

Finished Weight of Yummy Pork Delicacies

#1  5.96 lbs. peppered bacon ($4.29 per lb. for the pork)
#2  5.41 lbs. regular bacon ($3.49 per lb. for the pork)
#3  3.17 lbs. pancetta ($5.25 per lb. for the pork)

Waste Not, Want Not.  I braised the racks of ribs that I cut off the pork bellies, removed the meat from the bones, and made an al-pastor style filling for tacos and enchiladas.  Even the liquid from braising the pork ribs was so tasty that I froze it to use for braising something else later.

I saved the skin that I removed from the pancetta chunk to be smoked along with the bacon and saved that and the smoked skin and excess fat from the bacon chunks to use for cooking beans or stews, just like you'd use fat back or salt pork, but much more flavorful than anything you can buy.

Although I have most of the cure ingredients on-hand already, there is obviously a small cost associated with the cure ingredients and for charcoal and smoking wood, which I haven't tried to quantify yet.  The only unusual item you'll need for curing is pink salt, which you'll probably have to order online. 

If you're the kind of cook who's considering doing charcuterie at home, it's likely that you already have the kitchen equipment and supplies you need.  You need a really good, sharp knife, specifically a boning knife if you're working with bone-in pork.  It's essential that every serious home cook have a good knife sharpener.  You'll want to use a plastic cutting board so it can be sterilized in the dishwasher.  You'll need heavy-duty 2-gallon zip top bags.  You may want to use rubber gloves.  Although it's not absolutely necessary, it's best to use a food scale for weighing the cure ingredients for accuracy.  And last, but certainly not least, make the small investment in a really good instructional cookbook.  I love Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Al Pastor Style Tacos And Enchiladas

This recipe transforms very inexpensive or "scrap" meat into something really special.  Although the total preparation time for the pork is lengthy, the actual hands-on time is very short.  This recipe is well worth the effort and time because it's so yummy!

Traditionally al pastor tacos are made with pork that is marinated in some combination of achiote paste, dried chile paste, and/or pineapple or other fruit juice.  Following is a technique I used to prepare tender, juicy pork, which was then combined with an al pastor style paste to make a flavorful filling for tacos and enchiladas.

CARNITAS DE PUERCO (the pork meat)

There are several tender, fatty, flavorful cuts of pork that can become Carnitas de Puerco.  This time I used  the meat from the ribs that I trimmed away from the pork bellies that we made into bacon and pancetta.  But any fatty, tender pork, such as Boston Butt, would work for this recipe also.

The little racks of ribs that I removed from the pork bellies were just too good to waste.  I sprinkled them with some yummy Penzeys spice rubs (use whatever spice rub you like) and let them sit uncovered in the fridge for about a day and a half.  I then used a technique that I learned from my friend, Terri, braising the ribs in coffee.  I put the ribs in a Dutch oven, poured some leftover coffee over them, added a few peeled, crushed cloves of garlic, a thinly sliced onion, a couple pinches of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a big splash of Marsala.

I covered the Dutch oven tightly with aluminum foil to seal in all the liquid, and then put the lid on.  Braised the ribs at 250 degrees for six hours, checking and stirring only every two hours.  After six hours, I removed the Dutch oven from the oven and allowed the pork to cool.  Once cool, I removed the meat from the bones, although it was so tender it practically fell off the bones of its own accord.  I refrigerated the braising liquid, letting the fat rise to the top so I could skim off and discard the fat.  (I actually saved the leftover braising liquid after preparing the al pastor pork and froze it to use later because it was so flavorful.)


2 dry chipotle peppers
5 dry guajillo peppers
3 dry ancho peppers
2 Tablespoons braising liquid or water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup minced onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Simmer the chipotle, guajillo, and ancho peppers in about 3 cups of water until soft and pliable.  Drain and cool.  Remove the veins and seeds from the peppers (use disposable gloves to avoid burning your hands).  In a blender or food processor combine the chiles, braising liquid, kosher salt, onion, garlic cloves, pineapple juice, cumin, cloves, tomato paste, and cinnamon, and pulse to make a paste.

Warm one to two tablespoons of bacon grease (or other oil) in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the al pastor paste/marinade, and saute gently for about five minutes.


Stir a small amount of the al pastor paste/marinade into 1 to 2 pounds of carnitas de puerco and saute in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until pork is slightly crispy on the edges.  Spoon pork into softened corn tortillas and top with your favorite garnishes, such as cheddar cheese, lime juice, diced fresh onion, and cilantro.


Leftover carnitas de puerco
Thinly sliced green onions
Bacon grease
Leftover al pastor paste/marinade
Corn Tortillas
Extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add sliced green onions to shredded pork.  In a skillet over medium heat mix leftover al pastor chile paste with bacon grease (or other oil).  Spread a small amount of the chile/bacon grease mixture over the bottom of a glass casserole dish.  One by one, dip corn tortillas into the remaining chile/bacon grease mixture in the skillet to soften the tortillas.  Place about 1/3 cup of the pork/green onion mixture in the middle of each tortilla, followed by a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese.  Roll up the tortilla and place seam side down in casserole dish.  When casserole dish is filled with enchiladas, pour the remaining chile/bacon grease sauce over the enchiladas.  Cover the enchiladas with shredded cheddar cheese and sprinkle with sliced green onions if desired.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until the enchiladas are hot and the cheese is bubbly and melted, 30-45 minutes.

If the tortillas appear to be getting too dry while baking, add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the dish.