Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Person Behind the Plate # 2

I suppose I will start at the beginning and tell you about where I come from, and why I am interested in food and cooking. I grew up in Western PA in a pretty rural area. My Mom passed away when I was pretty young so I was raised by my Dad, Grandmas, and some Aunts helped out as well. Nobody in my family was all that adventurous with food. I ate a lot of meat and potatoes, casseroles, spaghetti and regional food like Pierogies and Kielbasa. My Dad rarely cooked for us, he would make only a few things like steak, ribs and chili. He was definitely the person that got me into food, though. He was always eating 'weird' things like herring and crabs. He was so excited when we finally got some bigger grocery stores that could order him seafood. I can still picture him sitting at our kitchen counter with a half dozen crabs in front of him spread out on newspaper. I never was brave enough to try them but I recognized how happy this food made him. At about that time I started watching Yan Can Cook and the Frugal Gourmet on TV and really wanted to start cooking. I then went to college and was living in dorms and eating dining hall food with no access to a kitchen. Finally after I moved to Arizona I got cable, and I got the Food Network. I was hooked, and that is when I really got a passion for food, ingredients, cooking and eating.

My Dad passed away many years ago, and as much as I have learned and branched out since I was a kid, my last meal would definitely be his oven baked BBQ ribs.

Finally here is a photo of me with my older brother and sister, I am the one in the middle looking totally thrilled. I can only imagine someone tried to slip some cilantro in my milk and that face is the result.

I hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Michael Symon's Grilled Salmon with Shaved Carrot and Peanut Salad

The weather in AZ the last few weeks has been amazing, sunny and warm most every day. This weekend we might hit triple digits but I really don't mind the heat. I took advantage of the great weather and did a little grilling of my favorite fish, salmon!

Michael Symon's Grilled Salmon with Shaved Carrot and Peanut Salad
This recipe is from The Chew cookbook. If you have not seen The Chew it is a cooking show that airs on ABC and the hosts are Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz, Clinton Kelly, and my favorite, Michael Symon. I have eaten at two of his restaurants and his food is really good so I knew this recipe would probably be a winner. Preheat your grill and lets get cooking.

green onion
I must have been so excited to make this that I did not take a picture of all of the ingredients. The first thing you need to do is chop the onion. I bought pre shredded carrots but if you cannot find those go ahead and follow the instructions to shave up some carrots.

cumin seeds
Toast your cumin seeds. Anytime you are toasting spices or nuts, keep a close eye on them as they can go from toasty delicious to burnt in seconds.

Toast your peanuts and admire that my stove is actually clean!

Mix together the carrot salad dressing ingredients.

Mix the dressing with the carrots, nuts, cumin, and onion. You were supposed to add mint to this but I wanted Tom to taste it and there is no way he would try it with mint in it.

Season your salmon with salt and pepper and brush or spray with olive oil.

grillin and chillin
Get it on the grill! My grill might need a little cleaning. On the left you can see Tom's steak that he was having for dinner. He has only started eating steaks within the last year or so, before he would only eat ground beef or fajita style beef. Of course he likes it cooked all the way through, which I find totally a waste of a good steak, but at least he is eating it. Leave your salmon alone for about 2-3 minutes and then give it a flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes depending on how thick the salmon is.

Get it off the grill and you are ready to plate.

Michael Symon's Grilled Salmon with Shaved Carrot and Peanut Salad
Top the salmon with the carrot salad and enjoy. Tom loved the carrot salad and even asked me to make it again. I might have to change the name of this blog soon. I really loved this whole dish, it was colorful, simple, and delicious. Michael Symon comes through again!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Favorite Things #51 - Horseradish

One of the blogs I read often is My Bizzy Kitchen and today she had a lot of horseradish going on in her post. I love horseradish and have since I can remember. Recently I discovered that my favorite chip company from back East, Herr's, can now be found in AZ. I seriously had a moment in the grocery store when I saw them and may have squealed a little.

Steve wants to make Herr's His
Of course I snagged this flavor, sorry for the blur but I wanted to include my little stalker in the background. Here is the amazing part, Tom tried these and he LOVED them. I always knew he would like horseradish if he would just try it and these chips were the perfect vehicle.

Are you a fan of horseradish, if so what is your favorite way to eat it?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Person Behind the Plate #1

As I was contemplating what I wanted to do for my next themed posts, I realized I needed to think about what it is that keeps me reading other people's blogs. Clearly, I love getting great recipe ideas, looking at gorgeous food photos, and sharing my thoughts in the comments. But the blogs that I really love to read are the ones where you feel like you know the person who is writing the posts. I realized I don't even think my first name is on my blog anywhere, so hello, my name is Rhonda.

When I started this blog a lot of my followers knew me through my other blogs but now I have a lot of new readers who may not really know anything about me except that I love chicken thighs and my husband is afraid of most food. So I thought I would start a series where I actually share a bit about me, my family, and my life here in Arizona.

I hope you like this series and I look forward to sharing lots more food as well. To start, here I am with Tom doing one of our favorite things, watching baseball.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

America's Test Kitchen Roast Cornish Game Hen with Cous Cous Stuffing

Game hens are so perfect for people that dine alone. They are easy to work with, portioned perfectly, and often on sale at a lot of grocery stores. This recipe from America's Test Kitchen's Cooking for Two cookbook is perfect for dining alone or for sharing with someone. Tom finds these little hens quite frightening, so he won't even be in the area when I am making them. But trust me, they are absolutely delicious. That being said, I cut this recipe in half.



Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lets gather our ingredients.

You will need a game hen, of course, some broth, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, ginger, parsley, brown sugar, lemon, shallot or onion, cous cous, currants or cranberries, and pistachios or pine nuts.

toasty pine nuts
The first thing to do is to toast the pine nuts or pistachios. Pay no attention to my dirty stove...

Chop up the onion or shallot.

spice pals
Measure out your cinnamon and ginger.

ready for cous cous
Measure your broth, cranberries, and chop up your lemon. Prepping is the most important part of a successful meal. If you have everything ready you don't have to scramble.

Cook the shallots over medium with the cinnamon and ginger for about 3 minutes.

this smells awesome
Stir in the cous cous and cook for about 2 minutes, this smells so good you won't believe it!

getting good
Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer, get it off the heat and cover it with a lid.

lid stand in
That is a lid in my house, Corelle has many functions.

Once that has hung out for about 5 minutes get it into a bowl and fluff with a fork.

cous cous stuffing
Stir in the nuts, cranberries or currants, lemon juice, and parsley. Add some salt and pepper and you are ready to move on to your hen.

nice rack
Line a cookie sheet with foil and place a rack on it. I am just using one of my cookie cooling racks.

Behold the little hen that terrifies my husband.

Stuff that bugger with your cous cous stuffing.

tied up
Cross the legs and tie them together. I have always just used embroidery thread to tie up my chickens and hens, I don't own butcher's twine. I am sure that there is some horrifying chemical in there but so far I have suffered no problems from doing this. Season the outside of your bird well and make sure it is breast side down on your rack. Put the hen in the oven for about 25 minutes.

balsamic glaze ingredients
While the hen is in the oven we can make the balsamic glaze. I made almost the full amount of this glaze because I knew I would love it. Measure out the ingredients.

Get the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat and let them simmer for about 2 minutes. It will thicken and reduce down.

glaze reserved
Reserve some glaze for serving.

getting golden
After 25 minutes pull the hen out and brush with glaze. Flip the hen over.

Brush the other side with the glaze as well. Put them back in the oven for about 20 more minutes. Having an instant read thermometer is a really good idea if you are making whole birds like this.

Crank the oven up to 450 degrees and pull the hen back out and give it one more glaze. Put the hen back in for about 10 minutes or until your instant read thermometer says 160.

balsamicly delicious
Get the bird on a cutting board and give him one more balsamic bath with the glaze you reserved. Don't be alarmed if the hen looks a little over cooked, it is just the darkness of the balsamic.

America's Test Kitchen Roast Cornish Game Hen with Cous Cous Stuffing
I served this up with some asparagus and it was absolutely delicious and not nearly as hard as I had thought it would be. It is all about timing and making sure you have everything prepped and ready to use when you need it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

After this week I think we all could use a little comfort food. I don't really have much to say about what happened in Boston because it makes no sense to me at all. I will just try to provide some comfort through food instead. I always go to my slow cooker when I want something warm, simple, and delicious. I am sharing this recipe from Taste of Home for BBQ Chicken Sliders.

Taste of Home recipe
I cut this recipe in half.

This recipe has you brine the chicken first, which I have never done before. Here is what you need for the brine. Liquid smoke, thyme, water, salt, brown sugar and some garlic.

Mix it all together and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.

reserved brine
Reserve some brine for later, put a lid on it and get it in the fridge.

brining alone
Pour the brine over the chicken in a resealable bag. Put it in the fridge for about 18-24 hours.

liquid smoke and reserved brine
When you are ready to put everything in the crock pot grab your reserved brine and your liquid smoke and add it with the chicken. Discard the brine the chicken was in. Put the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours.

tender and juicy chicken
Pull your chicken out, it should be falling apart at this point. I tasted the chicken and it was full of flavor even before adding the sauce.

awesome sauce and buns
Grab some buns and your favorite BBQ sauce.

Shred the chicken and get it back in the crock pot.

Stir in the sauce and let it heat through, about 20 minutes on high. While it heated I just made a quick side of some peas with salt and olive oil.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwich
This is a great and easy comfort food dish that really has a lot of flavor. I will make this one again for sure, hopefully during a less crazy week.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Favorite Things #50 - Game of Thrones and Ommegang Brewery's Iron Throne Beer

This week I am combining two things into one post because they go hand in hand. Ommegang Brewery has brewed a special blonde ale called Iron Throne in honor of the book and TV series called Game of Thrones. I love this book series, I love the TV series and I love a good beer.

So ready for Game of Thrones! #ommegang #GameofThrones
I am all ready with my sriracha popcorn, Iron Throne beer and Game of Thrones on the TV.

Are you watching this series or have you read the books?