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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!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roasted Pork Loin

Sometimes, you just need a little comfort food for dinner!  Tonight, a roasted pork loin with real milk gravy and a side of mashed potatoes was just the ticket.

It's a standing joke among my family members that a Pork Roast is always my Mom's Go To meal.  Any special occasion that might arise, birthdays, holidays, visitors from out of town or even from across town, it was a reason to make a huge pork roast.  It was like her trademark meal, and we've joked about it for years, always keeping this to ourselves, of course.  But it always made us laugh to ask what we might be having for dinner at Mom's house, because it was always...pork roast!!

So when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner on this chilly night, I inherantly thought of pork roast.  With warm mashed potatoes and homemade milk gravy on top, it was just the right dinner to warm everyone up.  So I popped the roast in the oven and preceeded to slice and boil the potatoes.  As I started to whip the potatoes using a hand mixer, I had to silently apologize to my Dad who had always hand mashed the creamiest potatoes in the world.  He would laugh to see me using this mixer!

Next came the milk gravy, made with just a little extra pepper to give it a zip.  Yes, I know it's not the healthiest food in the world but is it ever delicious to spoon over the roast and potatoes.

As I plated up dinner, it reminded me of all the years my family sat at the dinner table enjoying this same meal.  All 8 of us, lined around the kitchen table, once in a while the dining room table if it was a special ocassion.  Lots of good times were had in our little kitchen and this meal will always bring back good memories.  That must be why they call this, Comfort Food.  Enjoy!!

1 Pork Loin Roast ( 3 - 5 lbs) **See note below
Garlic Salt with Parsley
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Place the roast in a foil lined baking pan and season generously on all sides with garlic salt and pepper. Wrap foil loosely around the roast, covering the top, and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 - 25 minutes per pound. During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, pull foil back so the top of roast will brown. Let rest 5 - 10 minutes before slicing to allow for the juices to settle.

** Note:  When buying a pork roast, look for the Center Loin Roast, which is the preferred cut. Ideally, a 3 - 4 pound roast works best. If you need a larger roast for a big party, cut the roast in half for best results and less cooking time. To figure the number of servings, allow 1/3 pound boneless roast per person.

Milk Gravy

1/2 cup  Pan Drippings
1/2 cup  Milk
3 TB  Cornstarch
4 TB  Cold Water
1/8 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Chicken Broth, optional

Drain the pan drippings from the roasting pan and place in a small skillet.  Heat over medium-high heat until the juices begin to boil. 

Combine the cornstarch and water in a small cup and slowly drizzle into the pan juices while stirring with a whisk until thickened.    Decrease heat to medium and slowly add the milk to the skillet while whisking.  Add enough milk to achieve the desired consistency.  Add the pepper, stir and serve on top of the roast and potatoes.

If the gravy becomes too thick, add 2 tablespoons of chicken broth and stir, adding more if needed until the desired consistency is reached.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Banana-Macadamia Nut Muffins

These tasty muffins, with a tropics-inspired combination of bananas, macadamia nuts, and just a hint of rum, make a great afternoon snack or even a tasty breakfast.  For the final touch, the crumbly topping adds just the right amount of sweetness.  Even better, if you are expecting company, you can whip up a batch of these in less than an hour.
Macadamias are very nutritious nuts, so you'll actually be eating a snack that's good for you! These  nuts have the highest amount of beneficial monounsaturated fats of any variety of nuts, and are thought to lower your risk of heart disease.  In addition to that, they are just plain yummy.  Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups + 2 TB  All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 1/4 cups Mashed Ripe Bananas (about 3 large)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup firmly Packed Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
1/4 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tsp Dark Rum
1 Large Egg
2 TB  Butter, melted
1 cup Unsalted Chopped Macadamia Nuts, divided
2 TB  Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 15 muffin cups or line with muffin papers.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine bananas, both sugars, butter, milk, vanilla, rum and egg. Mix into dry ingredients.

Fold in a 1/2 cup of the chopped macadamia nuts until blended, then divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

For topping, combine 2 TB butter, 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts with 2 TB brown sugar.  Stir and sprinkle onto tops of muffins.

Bake until muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack and cool.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Southern Baked Cornflake Chicken Drumsticks

There really aren't many things that taste better than a perfectly cooked, crispy-crunchy chicken drumstick.  Unfortunately, this usually means deep frying the chicken.  By deep frying you take a healthy, full of flavor chicken leg and turn it into a greasy, calorie-laden meal that is no longer very healthy.

This recipe, which combines several old southern recipes, is the answer to skipping the deep fryer.  By marinating the chicken in a tangy buttermilk mixture, the flavors have time to soak into the meat.  The finishing touch is a coating of crushed cornflakes and spices.  The slightly sweet cornflakes blend with the spices to create a perfect balance of flavors.  Another key is to cook the chicken on a wire rack.  This allows the heat to circulate around the chicken and eliminates the need to turn the chicken during the cooking process.

2 cups  Buttermilk
1 TB  Lemon Juice
1 TB  Franks Hot Sauce
1 tsp  Onion Powder
1 tsp  Dried Thyme
4  Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
10 - 14  Chicken Drumsticks, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 cups  Crushed Cornflakes
3/4 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp  Dried Thyme
1 tsp  Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Place a wire rack on the lined sheet and spray with olive oil spray.

In a large zip lock bag combine buttermilk, lemon juice, hot sauce, onion powder, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper.  Add drumsticks to the bag, zip closed and turn bag over to evenly coat.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.

In a shallow dish add the cornflakes, Parmesan cheese, thyme and garlic powder.  Stir to combine.

Remove the drumsticks from the bag to a platter to drain off any excess.  Discard the marinade. 

Dredge the drumsticks in the cornflake mixture, making sure to press the mixture firmly onto the chicken.  Place chicken on the wire rack and bake for 45-60 minutes or until juices run clear.  (The amount of time here will vary depending on the size of the drumsticks you are cooking.  Always be sure to check for doneness by cutting into the thickest piece of chicken.  The juices should run clear and there should be no "pink" meat.  Rare chicken is not a good thing..lol)  Serve with Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni and CheeseEnjoy!!

Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Mmm..Baked Macaroni is sure to please even the most picky eaters and is truly comfort food in every sense of the word!  My friend and mentor Brownie, who was a wonderful chef and teacher, used to make the most mouth-watering macaroni and cheese that no one else could duplicate.  She always told me the secret ingredient was dry mustard and including it in this dish gave it the mystery flavor that will make everyone ask, "What is that flavor?"

We kicked this up a bit by adding the Pepper Jack cheese and panko crumbs on top and the flavors together are fantastic with just a little bit of crunch from the panko.  I think Brownie would like this Baked Macaroni almost as much as her own. 
Cheers Brownie, we miss you.

12 oz  Dry Elbow Macaroni
6 TB  Butter
6 TB  Flour
1 1/2 tsp  Dry Mustard
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1/4 tsp  White Pepper
1 1/2 cups  Milk
1 1/2 cups  Half and Half
3 cups  Shredded Medium Cheddar Cheese
1 cup  Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
1 cup  Panko Crumbs
Olive Oil Spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook macaroni according to package directions and cook until just al dente then drain.  Butter a 13" x 9" baking dish and pour the drained pasta into the dish.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat, then add the flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper.  Use a whisk to combine, then slowly add the milk and half and half, adding only about a 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly until all of the milk is added. 

Increase heat to medium-high and heat until mixture just slightly boils.  Begin adding the shredded cheese about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until melted then adding another 1/2 cup.  When all of the cheese is fully melted, pour the sauce over the macaroni.  Sprinkle with the Pepper Jack cheese, then top with the panko crumbs.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges are just a bit crispy.  Serve with Southern Baked Cornflake Chicken DrumsticksEnjoy!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fish Chowder with Pollock

Pollock is one of my favorite varieties of fish to cook with. It's a meaty, solid fish with a mild sweet flavor and works great for poaching, or in this case, in a delicious hearty chowder. Pollock does have a more "fishy" taste than some other varieties of fish found at your local market, which makes this chowder even more enjoyable.  I love being able to taste the fish.  In the last few years tilapia has become quite popular, but for some reason I've just never been able to find a way to make the flavor come alive. The tilapia is just, blah.  The Pollock just gives chowder an old world flavor.

For this chowder you could substitute cod or even haddock, but if you can find Pollock, save yourself some money and go with the Pollock.  It tastes better than either of the pricier fish.

2 lbs Fresh Pollock
1/4 cup  Unsalted Butter
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1  Small Onion, sliced
1 Celery Stalk, washed and diced
1 Leek, whites only, thinly sliced
2  Bay Leaves
1/2  Medium Green Pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup  Flour
1 1/2 cups  Water
1  8 oz  Bottle Clam Juice
6  Medium Red Potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp  Dried Dill
1 cup  Milk
1 cup  Half & Half
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 lb  Bacon,  cooked and crumbled for garnish

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat, then add the garlic, onion, celery, leek, bay leaves and green pepper.  Saute vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.  Reduce heat to low, sprinkle the flour over vegetables and stir to evenly coat.  Gently stir in the water and clam juice, adding a little at a time, until combined with the flour and vegetables.  This will make a thin gravy around the vegetables.

Add potatoes and dill and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the  potatoes are just barely tender. Add milk, half & half, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil.

Gently add the pieces of fish to the pot, pushing the fish down into the soup.  Cook 5-7 minutes or until the Pollock flakes when tested with a fork.

Remove bay leaves, ladle chowder into soup bowls and sprinkle with the crumbled bacon.  Enjoy!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Golden Swai and Clam Chowder

This delicate soup combines buttery Yukon gold potatoes with white wine, swai fillets and clams plus just a pinch of saffron to add a beautiful yellow-orange color and a bit of unique flavor.  The Yukon gold potatoes work very well in soups because they do not crumble when cooked.  For another great soup using these tasty potatoes, try Golden Potato Soup with Spicy Shrimp.

If you cannot find swai fillets in your market, this soup would also work nicely with tilapia or even catfish. 

Saffron is a wonderful spice with a unique flavor.  It is commonly used in paella and can be purchased in very small containers in most grocery stores.  The reasons for the small packaging is 1) a little bit goes a very long way when using saffron and 2) it's a little pricey.  Don't let the price scare you away from trying this delicate spice.  The real flavor of saffron is released when the spice is steeped in liquid, such as soup or broth and by adding saffron early in the cooking process, you will get the full color of the spice to disperse into your dish.  Give it a try. It is a wonderful spice to experiment with.

8 oz  Thick Cut Bacon, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup  Chopped Onion
3/4 tsp  Dried Thyme
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  White Pepper
2 10-oz cans Minced Clams, drained and juices reserved
6 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick round slices
2 bottles  Clam Juice
1 cup  White Wine
1/4 tsp  Saffron Threads, crushed in fine powder
1 1/2 lbs  Swai Fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup  Half and Half
1 cup  Milk

In a large soup pot over medium heat, brown bacon pieces until slightly crisp, about 10 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Set aside.

To the pot add onion, thyme, salt and white pepper.  Saute onion until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the juice from the canned clams, the 2 bottles of clam juice, white wine, saffron and the potatoes to the pot.  Stir and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, about 8  minutes. (**The Yukon gold potatoes hold together very well in this soup and will finish cooking in the next step.)

Gently lay the pieces of swai on top of the soup, pushing the fish into the broth, but do not stir.  (The fish will poach on top of the soup so you want the fillets to have some broth on top of them.)  Cover the pot and let simmer for 5 minutes. 

Remove the cover and add the clams, half and half and milk to the soup and stir gently to combine. Cover again and heat for 5 minutes longer. Taste the broth and adjust the amount of salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of bacon on top.  Makes about 6 servings.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Smoky Chipotle Chili

Brr..It is a very cold day in Florida today!  Waking up to temperatures in the upper 20's is not the way I like to start my day.  The best way to combat these chilly days is with, what else, Chili!

My sous chef (hubby Al) and I wanted to create a new chili by combining all of our favorite chili ingredients but without tomatoes. Ugh!  It's always a dilemma when I want to cook a dish that traditionally contains tomatoes, but I need to leave them out due to my daughter's tomato allergy.  Although she is allergic to fresh tomatoes, she can eat processed tomatoes, such as tomato sauce or paste, so those are the ingredients I use to add just a little tomato goodness to a dish.  That was the case with this chili.

We decided we wanted to use both ground sirloin and ground pork.  Not sausage, but unseasoned fresh  ground pork.  By combining the meats with the usual onion, garlic and spices we had a good start, but what about beer?  Yep, one dark beer went into the pot along with a can of beef broth, but it needed something else, something with a spicy robust flavor.  Chipotle peppers!  Wow, these can be a little deadly if you are not used to the intense heat, but the flavor is amazing!  By pureeing the chipotles along with the juice in the can, we had a nice bowl of spicy pepper puree that we added just a tablespoon at a time to the chili until the heat balanced with the other flavors.  We ended up using about half of the can and saved the rest for another dish.  (You can increase or decrease the chipotle according to your preferred level of heat.)

The addition of cornmeal at the end is used to thicken the chili slightly, if needed.  If you like your chili with more liquid you can skip the cornmeal, but it does add just a slight touch of sweetness to balance out the heat.  Enjoy!!

1 TB  Olive Oil
1  Large Onion, diced
2 TB  Garlic, minced
1 3/4 lb  Ground Sirloin
1 1/4 lb  Ground Pork
1  7 oz can  Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1  14 1/2 oz can  Beef Broth
1  12 oz  Bottle Dark Beer (we used Beck's Dark)
1 TB  Garlic Powder
1 1/2 tsp  Ground Cumin
1  4 oz can  Diced Green Chilies
1  14 oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1  15 oz can  Tomato Sauce
1/8 cup  Ground Yellow Cornmeal (optional, as needed)
Cubed or Grated Pepperjack or Cheddar Cheese for Garnish

In a large soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute 4 minutes until tender.  Add the beef and pork, break meat apart into small pieces and brown.  When meat is fully browned, drain off the grease and turn heat to medium-low.

Using a small blender, puree the Chipotle peppers including the juice and place the mixture in a small glass bowl.  Set aside.

To the meat mixture add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin and green chilies, stirring to combine.  Next add the beer, beef broth, black beans and tomato sauce and stir.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of the pureed Chipotle pepper mixture to the chili and taste.  (More of the pepper mixture can be added as desired, but about 1/2 of the puree resulted in a perfect spicy balance of heat and flavor.)

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve with a sprinkle of cubed or grated pepperjack cheese on top and  Baked Corn Pudding on the side.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Crispy Swai Sandwiches

Here is another great way to cook Swai fillets.  These can be served on hoagie rolls as shown or served on a bed of Chipotle Slaw.  Great mustard flavor and the crunch of Panko crumbs make for a delicious sandwich. 

1 cup  Flour
1 1/2 TB  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Black Pepper
1/2 cup  Dark Beer
3/4 cup  Stone Ground Mustard
2 cups  Panko Crumbs
1 TB  Garlic Powder
1 TB  Paprika
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 1/2 lb  Swai Fillets (or regular catfish)

In a shallow dish combine the flour, chili powder and pepper, and set aside.

In a seperate shallow dish combine the beer and mustard, and set aside.

In a 3rd shallow dish combine the panko garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
Dredge the fish fillets in the flour mixture, then the beer and mustard and finally dredge in the panko crumb mix.  Place coated fillets on a large platter.

Heat 1 cup of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Carefully add the fish and cook about 2 - 3 minutes per side, turning gently. You may need to add an extra minute or 2 if the fillets are thick.  You want a nice crispy exterior to the fish.

Remove fillets from the pan and place on a paper towel lined platter to drain.  Serve on toasted hoagie buns or on top of a bed of Chipotle Slaw.  These are so yummy, they are even delicious eaten with just a squeeze of lime!

**Note:  The fillets can also be oven-fried.  After you dredge the fish, place on a sheet pan lined with non-stick foil.  Bake at 400 degrees, turning once after 6 minutes, until the fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes total.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chorizo-Poblano Tacos with Pepper Cheese Sauce

These taco were amazing!  The spicy flavor of chorizo and the zing of pepperjack cheese added a nice twist to the standard taco.  Add a squeeze of lime for an extra layer of flavor.

Cheese sauce can be a little tricky to make.  Be sure to keep whisking the butter and flour at the start to create a smooth base texture. Then when adding the cheese, continue to stir until the sauce is smooth again, then you can turn to a low heat.

5 TB Butter
1/3 cup Flour
1 cup Milk
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Parsley Flakes
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 - 8 oz block Pepper Jack Cheese, grated or cubed

Meat Filling
1/2 lb Chorizo
1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 small Yellow Onion, minced
1/3 - 1/2 of 1 Poblano Chile, minced
3 cups  Romaine Lettuce, shredded
12 Soft Taco Shells

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until golden, about 2 minutes.
Add milk and whisk until smooth and sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.

In a large skillet, brown the chorizo and ground beef, breaking up the meat into consistent small pieces.  ** For a little healthier recipe, we drained off the grease at this point, but draining is optional.

Add the next 6 ingredients thru the pepper cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted and smooth. Turn heat to low and keep warm.

To finish the meat filling, move the meat to the outer edges of the skillet and add the oregano, pepper, onion, garlic and chile to the center of the skillet.  Continue to stir until the onions, garlic and chile are softened, then combine with the browned meat.

Fill each soft taco shell with the meat mixture followed by a spoonful of cheese sauce and a handful of romaine on top.  A squeeze of lime added a nice zing to the finished taco. Enjoy!   Serves 4 - 6

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crab Rumaki

As the final appetizer to be showcased before the Super Bowl parties begin, we decided to save the best for last.  This is a tasty twist on the classic Rumaki, which is made with duck or chicken liver that is wrapped in bacon and marinated in a soy and brown sugar sauce.  Back in my restaurant and catering days I do believe the number of chicken liver rumakis I made could easily number into the thousands!  Therefore, I never want to see another chicken liver..lol.  Besides, these are so yummy that we have had relatives who park themselves next to the serving tray until the last rumaki is gone.  Thank you Uncle Bob, that is the ultimate compliment!  If we still lived close by we would deliver this tray to you personally.


These do take a little time to bake so the bacon comes out crispy and the crab has a chance to soak up the marinade flavors.  If you cook these before your party guests arrive, keep them warm by pouring the marinade juices into the bottom of a slow cooker, then add the rumakis.  Turn the slow cooker to LOW and these will hold nicely for 2-3 hours, if they last that long.  Enjoy and Happy Super Bowl!!

3/4 lb  Imitation Crab Leg Sticks, each stick cut into 3 pieces
1 lb  Regular Cut Bacon, slices cut in half
1 can  Pineapple Chunks, drained with juices reserved
1/3 cup  Brown Sugar
1/4 cup  Soy Sauce 

Preheat oven to 375.  In a small bowl combine the pineapple juice, brown sugar and soy sauce, stirring to fully blend the brown sugar.  Place the pineapple chunks in a bowl and chill.  (The pineapple can be served later with the rumakis.)

Assemble the rumakis by laying the slices of bacon flat on a cutting board.  Place one piece of crab on each piece of bacon, roll them up and skewer with a toothpick.  Place the rumakis in a baking pan and continue making the rest of the rumakis.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and drain off the bacon dripping using a baster.  Turn the rumakis over and pour half of the marinade liquid over them.  Return the pan to the oven and bake 10 minutes.

Remove the baking pan from the oven, drain off about half of the marinade mixture, pour the rest of the fresh marinade over the rumakis and return to the oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until the bacon is browned and crispy around the edges.  Serve with the pineapple chunks on the side.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya

This dish was inspired by a new product I came across that I had to try. It's a white wine and herb broth from College Inn, and it has an amazing flavor and fragrance.  I've been trying to think of a good experiment for this broth and this turned out delicious.

The chicken and chorizo in this dish are a match made in culinary heaven!  You might notice the lack of tomato in this jambalaya, which is due to having one child with a tomato allergy, but with the combination of flavors you won't even miss the tomato.  Another twist to this recipe would be to add a dozen or so peeled and deveined raw shrimp in place of the ham.  The shrimp steams nicely on top of the chicken and will add a more Cajun/creole factor. Directions for this alternate version are included.

My favorite part of this meal? It's all cooked in a single pot and start to finish it takes less than 1 hour. Enjoy!

1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Dry Mustard
1 tsp  Dried Thyme
1 1/2 tsp  Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Ground Cayenne Pepper
3 TB  Olive Oil
6 pieces Bone-In  or  Boneless Chicken (I used 3 leg quarters and 3 boneless breasts)
1/2 lb  Chorizo Sausage
1 cup  Diced Ham  (or substitute 1 lb Raw Shrimp, peeled & deveined)
1 small Onion, diced
1  Rib of Celery, diced
1  Red Pepper diced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups  Jasmati Rice (or other long grain rice)
2 cups  College Inn White Wine & Herb Broth

Combine the 7 dry herbs in a small bowl.  Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry, then sprinkle with the dry rub mixture and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pot and cook about 5 - 7 minutes, turn and cook 5 minutes longer. (*Note: Cooking time for chicken may be a bit less if you are using boneless chicken. Just adjust your cooking time down a few minutes.)

When chicken is nicely browned on all sides (it does not need to be fully cooked yet), add the chorizo to the pan and crumble, cooking for about 2 minutes. Next add the ham and cook 2 additional minutes.

Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic to the pot, stirring gently to combine around the chicken and let the veggies saute for 2 minutes.

Using a pair of tongs, move 3 of the chicken pieces atop the other 3 pieces, add the rice to the pot, then add the broth.  Gently blend the veggie/rice and broth mixture, then reposition the chicken pieces so that all 6 are nestled into the broth.  (** See Note below for adding optional shrimp at this point.)

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until nearly all of broth has been absorbed by the rice.  Do not stir while it is simmering.

Remove the pot from the heat and let stand about 5 minutes to allow the broth to fully absorb.  Serve with crusty french bread and a bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel.

** Note:  If you choose to substitute the shrimp in place of the ham, just after you add the rice and broth, reposition the chicken then add the shrimp to the pot, pushing them down into the mixture.  We made this same recipe using 6 chicken drumsticks plus 1 lb of shrimp in exchange for the ham, and left the rest of the recipe the same.  The results were outstanding!!  The rice was tender and full of flavor from the chorizo and spices and the shrimp and chicken were perfectly cooked.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings

You can't have a Super Bowl party without...Chicken Wings!!

Pizza and wings are a favorite meal for a lot of families.  What you might not realize is that making this meal at home is cheaper, healthier, tastier and not really a lot of work.  This is also a fun project for families to make dinner together. My family and I have worked on this recipe for several years, tweeking it a little here and there each time. Now it is football-food perfection!  Try these wings on their own or with a do-it-yourself pizza for your next football party and you will not be disappointed.

Forget cooking wings in a greasy deep fryer. All you need for delicious crispy Buffalo Wings is the right recipe, and the right foil. As funny as it may sound, the non-stick foil is the secret to getting the wings crispy, but not stuck to the pan, which would remove the breading.  By baking the wings on Reynolds Wrap® Non-Stick Aluminum Foil you will taste the sauce, not the oil from deep frying.  (If you click on the Reynolds link above they do occasionally have coupons available.)

12 Chicken Wings, cut into drumettes, center wing pieces and wing tips (discard tips) You will have 24 pieces total.

3/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup Cornmeal
2 tsp Seasoned Salt
1 TB Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Garlic Salt

In a large bowl combine all of the dry seasonings. Working in small batches, dredge wing pieces and place wings on a sheet of Reynolds Wrap® Non-Stick Aluminum Foil.

Let the wings rest for 5 minutes, then dredge a second time in the flour/cornmeal mixture. Replace wings on foil.

Cook in preheated 425 oven for about 45 minutes, turning once about 20 minutes into cooking time. After wings are cooked, cool 5 minutes then apply the sauce below.

3/4 stick Salted Butter
3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Original Sauce
1 TB Red Pepper Flakes
3 TB Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
1 TB White Vinegar

Melt butter in saucepan then add red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat and stir until you get a roux consistency. Add Franks Red Hot sauce and vinegar and heat to just under a boil. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes on low heat. 

Dip cooked wings in the sauce one at a time and coat thoroughly with sauce and place in serving bowl.

These wings even taste great when served with a simple salad with Blue Cheese Dressing.  Use the same dressing as a dip for the wings.  Enjoy!!