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Food Photography: Macaroni and Cheese

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Baked mac n cheese

Food Photography:Bacon Brats with Apples and Onions

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Memorial Day BBQ Sides: Potato Salad & Macaroni Salad

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If you checked out my Caribbean Chicken Kebab  post yesterday and was wondering what on Earth you would eat with those spicy-sweet chicken skewers, here you go.  These two sides are my go-to sides for almost all occasions.  They are the simplest recipes but each has a little something extra that makes them just a tad better than anything else I’ve had outside of my own kitchen.  

If you like sweet German style potato salad, this isn’t the recipe for you, unless you’ve realized you’ve been eating the wrong kind of tater salad all of these years.  This potato salad is rich and creamy because of the mayo and eggs but has a hint of garlic that makes it my favorite potato salad recipe.  The macaroni salad is often requested in my family. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the sweet relish added that gives it just enough zing to make a recipe your friends and family will be begging you for barbecue after barbecue .

                         

Ingredients For Potato Salad:

Yields: 6 servings

  • 2lbs Baby red potatoes, quartered (no need to peel unless you prefer)
  • 3/4 Cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs chopped red onions (or whichever kind you have)
  • 2 Cloves grated garlic
  • 2-3 Eggs
  • Seasoning salt (like Lawry’s)
  • Black pepper

 
 Method:

  1. Add potato pieces and eggs (if not already pre-boiled) to a pot, and add enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are just fork-tender. Eggs should be hard-boiled.
  2. Drain potatoes and eggs in a colander and run cold water over them until cool to the touch. Drain again thoroughly.
  3. Peel and quarter eggs
  4. In a bowl add potatoes, mayonnaise, onions, garlic, and chopped eggs. 
  5. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Paprika is also a great addition.

 

Ingredients For Macaroni Salad:

Yields: 12 servings

  • 1 Box of elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 Cup red onion (or whichever kind you have available)
  • 1 1/4 Cup mayonnaise
  • 2 heaping Tbs.  India relish (or sweet relish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper

 

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Pour cooked macaroni into a colander and run cold water over macaroni until it is cool to the touch.
  3. Drain macaroni thoroughly and place in a mixing bowl.
  4. Stir in mayonnaise, onions, relish, salt, and pepper until mixed well.
  5. Enjoy!

Caribbean Chicken Kebabs

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I want to be on a tropical island, an island in the Caribbean to be exact.  I want yummy food and an ice cold drink like a pina colada or margarita at my side. Alas, that dream is not coming true in the near future.  If you’re in the same boat as I am, then make these chicken shish kebabs so you can at least have a better time pretending you’re on that island while sweating in your backyard.  Pineapple, mango, curry, ginger, and scotch bonnet pepper sauce transform the ordinary grilled chicken on a stick into a Caribbean vacation on a stick. Once you let the chicken marinate for at least an hour to soak up all of the sunshiny flavor goodness, prepping the kebabs and cooking them are quick and easy.  So if you are tired of the usual suspects of burgers and franks, try these spicy ‘n’ sweet kebabs for the Memorial Day holiday and ENJOY!

P.S. This marinade is great with shrimp too (of course) but it doesn’t need to marinate or cook as long as the chicken. Cook shrimp kebabs for about 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are an opaque pink color.

 

Total Time: 1 hr.  37 mins.

Marinade: 1 hour

Prep: 25 mins.

Cook: 12 mins.

 Yields: 25-28 kebabs

 

Ingredients:

For The Marinade:

  • 1- 12 oz.  bottle od Badia brand Mojo Marinade (or make your own mixture of orange and grapefruit juices, vinegar, herbs and spices)
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbs. fresh grated ginger root
  • 1/2 cup of mango juice or the pureed pulp from 1 ripe mango
  • 1 Tbs. hot pepper sauce (scotch bonnet if available)
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tspn. fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 leaves fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. ground black pepper

For the Kebabs:

  • 4 to 4.25 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
  • 1 medium to large pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 mangoes (ripe but firm enough to hold up on grill), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 bell peppers (preferably in assorted colors), seeds and ribs removed, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Grape tomatoes are also a great addition or alternative.

 

Method:

  1. Add chicken to a shallow dish. Combine all of the marinade ingredients to the chicken and stir to ensure all chicken pieces are covered.  Cover dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
  2. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 15 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill.
  3. Heat grill.  Remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade, and thread onto skewers alternating with pineapple, mango, and pepper pieces.  I fit 3 pieces of chicken on each skewer with 2 pieces of fruit and veggies between each piece. Leave some room between each piece of chicken so that it will cook properly.
  4. Grill chicken kebabs for about 5 minutes on each side, about 10-12 minutes.

Meatless Monday #5: Roasted Spaghetti Squash

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    Today’s Meatless Monday is as easy to make as real spaghetti.  The squash is roasted, the flesh scraped out, and topped with your favorite pasta sauce.  Because the flesh of the spaghetti squash resembles the pasta when removed from the rind with a fork, it’s a great substitute for the real thing.  Kinda like tricking your eye into believing you’re eating angel hair pasta.  It’s a great way to cut down on carbs and get more vegetables into your diet.  Enjoy!

     

    Ingredients:

    • 1 small spaghetti squash (about 1 pound)
    • olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper
    • pasta sauce (I sautéed onions, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, and chopped basil)

     

    Method:

    1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. With a sharp serrated knife, cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and stringy pulp and discard.
    3. Drizzle olive oil all over squash halves and season with salt and pepper.  Place squash in baking pan or on cookie sheet, cut side down. 
    4. Roast for 1 hour, or until squash is fork tender.
    5. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool enough for handling.  Using the tines of a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash from rind. 
    6. Plate squash and top with your favorite sauce.

 

Meatless Monday #4: Caramelized Carrot Soup

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Mmm mm good- the tagline for a famous canned soup brand in their ads and what you will say with your first spoonful of this quick homemade soup.

I’ve been enjoying the warm and breezy Spring weather of the past two weeks here in NYC (finally), but today is a bit grey, chilly, and damp.  Therefore, I needed a dish that would bring Spring flavors and some comforting warmth to today’s Meatless Monday dish.  I was lucky enough to come across my brother’s May issue of Food & Wine magazine last week while visiting the family.  I was instantly inspired by the featured pressure cooker meals by scientist and chef Nathan Myhrvold. I knew right away that his caramelized carrot soup would be perfect for today.

I made a few small changes to fit my needs and pantry. Since I’m refraining from eating any dairy and meat for a couple of weeks, I substituted the butter in the original recipe with half the amount of olive oil.  I didn’t have caraway seeds that is originally called for, but I found that the cumin seeds I did have were a suitable substitute.  The cumin and tarragon add a mild licorice flavor to the soup that gives it depth, and the ginger adds a slight warmth to the velvety, sweet and savory soup.

 

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine Magazine’s May 2011 issue

Total time: 35 mins/4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tspn. salt
  • 1/4 baking soda (helps in the browning process)
  • 2 cups carrot juice
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger (The ginger in the photos is thinly sliced for aesthetic purposes)
  • 1 tspn. tarragon, chopped
  • 1/4 tspn. cumin seeds, chopped

 

Method:

  1. Heat a pressure cooker over medium heat and add 3 Tbs. of Olive oil, the carrots, salt and baking soda. Cover and cook at 15 PSI* (see note below) for 10 minutes. If steam is coming out of the pressure cooker’s valve, the pressure is too high, and you need to lower the heat.
  2. Use a fork to carefully raise the pressure valve to depressurize the cooker, or run the pot under cold water to quickly cool the pot down and release pressure. Be careful not to run the water over the valve.
  3. Once the lid can be removed easily, return the pot over medium heat. Add the carrot juice and stir to loosen any caramelized carrot bits at the bottom of the pot.  Season with black pepper to your tastes. Cook uncovered until contents are warmed through. 
  4.  Transfer contents and remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil to a blender or processor and puree until smooth. Serve in bowls and top with cumin seeds, tarragon, and ginger.

 

 

 *A note on using a pressure cooker: I believe the chef used a digital cooker because he recommends setting the cooker at 15 PSI (pounds per square inch). I am using a standard cooker. Once my valve start to release steam, I know the contents are under pressure and I lower the heat to avoid too much steam to be released too quickly. It’s important that you read the owner’s manual for your particular pressure cooker.

Eat This! Announcement

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I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the Holidays. I should be back by May 2nd with a new Meatless Monday. Enjoy your weekend!

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