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By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Caribbean Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Kabobs

Jamaican Jerk Seasonings or Rubs are a simple blend of fairly common spices.  The main difference compared to American cuisine is the combination of savory spices such as garlic, onion and pepper with traditionally sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.  The spice mixture can be used on chicken or pork, but also works well on shrimp or other shellfish.  I even used a bit of it in the Jamaican Beans and Rice that accompanied this dish and the results were delicious!

Even though the list of ingredients is a bit long, you should have enough of the spice mix to use for several batches of kabobs.  Enjoy!

Jerk Seasoning Mix

2 TB  Kosher Salt
2 tsp  Brown Sugar
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
2 tsp  Onion Powder
2 tsp  Allspice
1 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp  Dried Chives
1 tsp  Paprika
1 tsp  Black Pepper
1 tsp  Nutmeg
1 tsp  Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp  Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp  Ground Cloves
2 lb  Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp  Olive Oil
Veggies/fruit of your choice - Red Onion, Green Pepper, Jalapenos, Fresh Pineapple - cut into 1-inch pieces

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Sprinkle about 2 TB Seasoning Mix onto chicken pieces along with the olive oil and toss to evenly coat.  Add a bit more of the rub, if needed, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for best flavor.

Thread chicken pieces onto kabob skewers alternating with the veggies and pineapple.  Grill over medium-high heat (about 450 degrees) for a total of 12 - 15 minutes, turning 1/4 turn every 3 - 4 minutes.  During the last few minutes of cooking time, drizzle or brush the kabobs with pineapple juice.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jamaican Beans and Rice

I've been trying to come up with a way to introduce my kids to black beans and this was a great start.  The rice is not spicy, but has a great blend of flavors, plus a healthy portion of black beans.

We served these Jamaican Beans and Rice with Caribbean Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Kabobs, with some extra grilled pineapple on the side as dessert.

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 TB  Butter
1 cup  Jasmati Rice
1 small  Onion, diced
2 cups  Water or Chicken Broth
1 can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 TB  Ketchup
2 tsp  Frank's Hot Sauce
2 tsp  Caribbean Jerk Seasoning (same rub used on the Caribbean Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Kabobs)

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil, butter and onion over medium heat until the butter melts.  Add the rice and sauté until the onion is softened, about 6 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Baked Swai-Wrapped Asparagus with Tangerine Beurre Blanc

I'm always looking for another new way to cook this delicious fish. We've tried Swai Chowder and Baked Swai Tacos, but could we make this into an elegant dish suitable for guests? With a little research we found just the right recipe, it just needed a little tweeking!

This recipe was originally prepared using Sole fillets and lots of butter, but we found the Swai fillets are just as good if not better.  Another change was to reduce the amount of butter in the sauce by half, and use a little cornstarch and water to thicken, if needed.

The easy Citrus Beurre Blanc sauce can be used on many dishes.  For the citrus juice you can substitute orange, but the tangerine is a real treat.

1 1/2 TB  Unsalted Butter, melted
2 TB  Minced Shallots
4 - 6 Strips Lime or Tangerine Zest
1 lb  Fresh Asparagus Spears
4 - 5 Swai Fillets (or use Flounder) about 5 oz each
1/4 Cup Water
1/4 cup  Dry White Wine
1/2 cup  Fresh Tangerine Juice
1 TB  Finely Minced Shallot
3 TB  Cold Unsalted Butter
1/4 tsp  Salt
Pinch of Cayenne
1/2 tsp  Lime or Lemon Juice
** Optional: 1 TB Cornstarch blended with 1 tsp cold water can be used to thicken sauce, if needed

Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 450.

To prepare pan:  Using a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, brush bottom of pan with melted butter and sprinkle the minced shallots and the zest into the butter.

Trim asparagus to about 6 inches, cutting away the tough ends. Using a potato peeler, peel the spears from about 2 inches below the tip.  Using a large pot, heat about 2 inches of lightly salted water.  When the water boils, add asparagus and blanch for 3 - 5 minutes (depending on thickness) until spears are tender but not fully cooked.  Remove asparagus from the pan and quickly rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside to cool until needed.

Lay fillets on a cutting board and season with salt and pepper.  Next place 4 - 5 asparagus spears across each fillet and roll up to create a bundle. Place bundles in baking dish, add the water and wine to the bottom, cover tightly with foil and bake for about 20 minutes until fish is cooked through.

Make Beurre Blanc Sauce:

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, boil the tangerine juice over medium heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low, then whisk in 1 TB butter.  Add the remaining butter, 1 TB at a time, whisking constantly, and occasionally pulling the pan off of the heat to cool the mixture slightly.  This will prevent the sauce from cracking. If sauce is a bit too thin, increase the heat and slowly add the cornstarch and water mixture while whisking.  Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in salt, cayenne and lime or lemon juice.

Transfer fish with a slotted spatula to a platter and reserve pan juices.  Cover fish with foil.  Discard the zest and pour the pan juices into a 10-inch skillet.  Bring the juices to a boil over medium-high heat until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the Beurre Blanc and stir to the desired consistency.

Place one fish/asparagus bundle on each plate and top with a spoonful of the Beurre Blanc, plus extra sauce on the plate for dipping.  Serve with Jasmine Rice. Enjoy!