Tangy Avocado Sauce

Concocting luscious dips with Greek yogurt is one of my favorite cooking pastimes – almost it’s own little mini-cooking project for me. This recipe gets me excited because it has avocados (one of my favorite foods) and it goes great with pretty much any Mexican meal – which made it a huge hit with my family! Another special feature to this sauce? Once you’ve enjoyed it for dinner, it morphs into a dip – just add another scoop of Greek yogurt to thicken it up a bit.

Shown here with Chipotle Rubbed Flank Steak, Mexican Rice and Cowboy Beans

Tangy Avocado Sauce
Author: 
Serves: 1½ cups
 
Love the flexibility of this sauce - you can decide how spicy you want it by using a ripe avocado or any type of guacamole dip. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Cilantro
  • ½ cup Canola oil
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt, whole milk
  • ¼ cup Sour cream
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • ½ of a Ripe Avocado OR ½ -3/4 cup Guacamole
  • Salt to taste (I find if you use guacamole you won't need salt, using a fresh avocado you might want to add ½ tsp Kosher salt)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor pulse cilantro and canola oil - it will have a paste consistency.
  2. Add the Greek yogurt, sour cream, lime juice, avocado or guacamole and salt (if using), pulse until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 

 

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Chipotle Salsa

Chips and salsa are big in our house, so I’m always trying to come up with new versions. I made this salsa for the boys’ first night home from college – Mexican is always their favorite meal – and they all loved it! Of course with three college boys in the house, the whole batch of salsa, and the bag of chips, was gone by the next morning!


Chipotle Salsa
Author: 
Serves: 3 cups
 
Another reason I love this recipe? It's so quick and easy to make! The salsa would also make a delicious topping to grilled chicken, seafood or steak. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of Diced tomatoes - I used one regular and one fire roasted
  • 1 tbsp Minced garlic
  • ½ - 1 tsp Chipotle powder (use ½ if you aren't sure how much heat you like)
  • 1-2 tbsp Cilantro, minced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drain tomatoes of their liquid and place in a small bowl.
  2. Add the garlic, chipotle powder and cilantro if using and mix throughly.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to meld. You can make up to one day ahead, but if using cilantro, add before serving.
  4. Serve with chips.

 

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Cowboy Beans

Inspired by Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday, these beans are my take on a beloved Mexican restaurant side. These beans were for the older boys first dinner home from school for the summer. Along with Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos, Mexican rice and Creamy Guacamole Sauce, big servings of Mexican comfort food were devoured at dinner. Smoky, a bit spicy, Cowboy Beans are sure to become a favorite with your family.


Cowboy Beans
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Use this classic Mexican bean side to inspire all sorts of flavor combinations. You could add pickled jalapenos, roasted red peppers, or change things up and make a black bean version. Fresh cilantro would be delicious in either a pinto or black bean version. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces (preferably thick-sliced)
  • 2 tsp Minced garlic
  • 1 (15 oz can) Tomatoes, fire-roasted, drained (use regular tomatoes for less kick)
  • 2 (15 oz cans) Pinto beans (do not drain or rinse)
  • Salt to taste (I love salt and did not find this dish to need any additional salt)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Add the garlic and sauteed for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Add tomatoes and beans with their liquid and stir to combine.
  5. Simmer over low heat, allowing the flavors to meld, for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the bacon.
  7. Beans can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Reheat in the microwave or over low-heat on the stovetop.

 

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Spinach & Ricotta Papparadelle

Searching for a delicious and quick pasta dinner? Need to get out of the red sauce rut? Look no further than this luscious meal – simple to prepare, full of flavor and easy to customize to fit your family’s tastes. And although it’s delicious on it’s own, this pasta is also a terrific compliment to chicken, seafood or fish. I topped ours with seared halibut which I had brushed with some of my oregano marinade. Dinner couldn’t have been easier to pull together!

Topped with Seared Halibut that I brushed with my Oregano Marinade

If you’re adding protein to this dish, try my http://whatskatecooking.com/2017/04/oregano-marinade/

Seared fish is a terrific addition to this pasta dish http://whatskatecooking.com/2017/05/seared-halibut/

Spinach & Ricotta Papparadelle
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Consider this recipe a template, if your family is not a fan of spinach, you can substitute different greens or even steamed or sauteed broccoli. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 (8.8 oz box) Pappardelle
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 1 Shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 (6 oz) bag Baby spinach, stems removed
  • 1 cup Ricotta, whole-milk
  • ¼ cup Parmesan-reggiano, grated, plus more for serving
Instructions
  1. Cook pappardelle according to the package instructions. Not sure how to cook pasta perfectly? Click on this link and follow the step by step instructions. http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/how-to-cook-dried-pasta/
  2. In the meantime, heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Once butter is melted, add the shallot and cook until shallot is lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach and toss with the shallot mixture for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the ricotta. Mix the ricotta into the spinach mixture.
  6. Once pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside (I simply scoop a 1 cup measuring cup into the pot and set that aside). Drain the pasta.
  7. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the spinach - ricotta sauce.
  8. Grate the Parmesan into the pasta and continue to toss. Portion the pasta onto plates and pass additional Parmesan.

 

 

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Grilled Honey Barbecue Chicken

A perfectly grilled, juicy chicken breast is a thing of beauty – and once you have mastered this take-it-slow technique, chicken success on the grill will be guaranteed, every time! Don’t be afraid of the lightly spiced paste, I was worried my children wouldn’t go for it. But slathered in the sweet honey glaze? They gobbled dinner right up!


Honey Barbecue Chicken
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Consider making a double batch of the spice paste and honey glaze. With dinner insurance in the fridge, you are just a step away from a savory dinner - simply brush some on grilled or seared meat, pork, fish or shrimp. The flavor is incredible. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Honey mustard
  • 2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Paprika (preferably sweet paprika)
  • 1 tsp Brown sugar, light
  • 1 tsp Oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Chipotle chili powder (optional)
  • 4 - 4½ lbs of Chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, trimmed
  • ¾ cup Honey
  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce, low-sodium
  • 2 tbsp Ketchup
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, honey mustard, garlic, paprika, brown sugar, oregano, Kosher salt and chipotle chili powder (if using).
  2. Spread spice paste all over the chicken breasts and store them in a large ziploc bag. Marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Let come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.
  3. In the meantime, in a second small bowl, whisk honey, soy sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and Sriracha (if using). Set aside and reserve ½ cup to serve with dinner.
  4. Spray the grill with canola spray and heat to high. Close grill top and allow the grill to heat to 350 - 400 degrees.
  5. Once grill is heated, turn the burners to low, place the chicken on the grill, preferably on a slant for the grilling marks.
  6. Grill chicken for 5 minutes and then flip to the other side.
  7. Once the chicken has cooked for 10 minutes, brush with glaze and then flip for an additional 5 minutes. From this point forward, brush with glaze every time the chicken is flipped.
  8. Once that time is up, flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes. At this point the chicken might be finished, or need an additional 5 -10 minutes of cooking time.
  9. You should pull the chicken when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, while resting, the chicken will continue to cook an additional 5 degrees (chicken is ready to eat when the internal temperature is 165 degrees).
  10. Once chicken is finished cooking, allow the chicken to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  11. Serve with reserved sauce on the side.

 

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Romesco Sauce

A quick Romesco sauce makes the most delicious topping for steak, as well as grilled chicken, roasted shrimp or a appetizer plate. I love my version because you get to skip the roasting of the peppers and instead just crack open a jar. You definitely need a food processor to whip this sauce up, but it couldn’t be easier to pull together, and keeps great in the fridge for up to a week. Perfect for a Spanish-inspired dinner!


Romesco Sauce
Author: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
There are lots of Romesco recipes that call for red peppers and tomatoes...I developed this one to be simple and quick (hello jarred roasted red peppers) and add a little punch to lots of different meals. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • ½ cup Almonds, slivered
  • 3 tsp Garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp Paprika, smoked
  • 1 (16 oz) jar Roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2 tsp Sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the almonds and cook, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes, or until golden.
  3. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Transfer skillet ingredients to the food processor.
  5. Add the red peppers, vinegar and Kosher salt and blend until almost smooth.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
  7. Serve right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

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Asian Salad with Honey Bacon

Bacon is big in our house, and while I love to add it to salads I had never thought of bacon in the context of Asian food. Inspiration struck while reading a Food & Wine cookbook – why not marry bacon with Asian flavors? With that idea I was off! Jeff says learning to cook bacon in the oven is one of the three most important things he has learned from me (I am absolutely serious). I choose to interpret the fact that this food lesson is in the top three as evidence of our shared passion for bacon. Once you have cooked bacon in the oven you will never go back – it’s so hands-off and you get perfectly crisp bacon everytime. Combine honey bacon with arugula and a bracing vinaigrette…side salad heaven!


Asian Salad with Honey Bacon
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Cooking bacon in the oven might be one of the best things you ever learn on WKC. Using the oven eliminates all the work and mess. A sheet pan with aluminum foil, add the bacon and pop it in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until perfectly crsip. Drain on paper towels and you are done. Easy enough for a weekday morning and a lifesaver when you are feeding a crowd on the weekend. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 6 slices Bacon (I use low-sodium)
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce, low-sodium
  • 5 oz bag Arugula
  • 2 tbsp Sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1 Lime, juice and zest
  • ½ cup Canola oil
  • ¼ Cup Rice vinegar, unseasoned
  • Vegetables for salad (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together 2 tbsp honey and soy sauce.
  3. Lay 6 slices of bacon on the sheet pan and brush with honey/soy mixture.
  4. Cook in the oven until crisp, 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully because the honey makes the bacon more susceptible to burning. Once cooked, remove bacon to a plate to cool (do not put on paper towels because the honey will make the bacon stick).
  5. In a Mason jar combine sweet chili sauce, remaining honey, lime, canola oil and rice vinegar. Shake vigorously until dressing is emulsified.
  6. Place arugula in a medium bowl and add vinaigrette to taste.
  7. Once bacon has cooled, slice into small pieces (I use scissors for this task).
  8. Divide dressed arugula among 4 plates, adding any vegetables (optional) and top with bacon.

 

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Skillet Miso Potatoes

My current ingredient obsession is miso paste. I go through these phases of getting hooked on ingredients from time to time – it’s one of the most fun parts of making a living through food. Right now, it’s miso, specifically white miso. White miso is the mildest form of miso paste, so it’s the best choice to try. One tub, which only costs about $6, will keep in your fridge for months and adds a subtle, salty kick to so many dishes. Plus, because it has such a mild taste I can sneak it by my kids (another big plus). Recently I used white miso to make Grilled Baby Bok Choy, and I was hooked. It’s such a versatile ingredient – it’s ups the flavor with vegetables, as a glaze on proteins, in marinades, dipping sauces and of course soup.


Skillet Miso Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
I used baby potatoes in this recipe, but you could really use any type of potato. The important thing is that they are parboiled (so you don't have to burn them to cook them through) and that the pieces are no bigger than 2 inches thick. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 (24 oz) bag of Baby potatoes
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 2 tbsp Canola oil
  • 1 tbsp Miso paste, white
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a medium size saucepan, cover with cold water and Kosher salt. Turn burner on high, and bring the water to a boil. Allow potatoes to boil until you can pierce them with a fork and they are nearly tender, 8-10 minutes (they will finish cooking in the pan).
  2. Drain in a colander, and give the colander a good shake to get the excess water off the potatoes.
  3. Slice the potatoes in half and set aside.
  4. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once butter has melted stir in the miso paste.
  5. Add the potatoes and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  6. Cook potatoes, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes are crisp and browned on the cut side, 15-20 minutes.
Notes
These potatoes are a great candidate for a weeknight dinner. Why? Because you can do the parboil section of the recipe a day ahead of time. That way, you simply need to toss the potatoes in a hot skillet. If you do parboil ahead of time, try to let the potatoes come to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.

Looking for another miso recipe to try? http://whatskatecooking.com/2017/04/grilled-baby-bok-choy/

What to learn more about miso? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/03/different-kinds-of-miso_n_6993590.html

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Sheet Pan Wasabi Flank Steak

This meal idea originally began life as a grill recipe, but when you look outside and see your grill literally in flames – it needed to be completely cleaned – a fast pivot was necessary. Thank goodness for sheet pans! And a sheet pan with aluminum foil? That’s complete no-dishes-to-wash heaven! Back to the recipe…I had some leftover wasabi sauce that I wanted to use and I thought it could be perfect on the side of an Asian flavored flank steak. This marinade could not be simpler, it’s TWO ingredients, and the kids really enjoyed it. We are mostly a chicken and pork family, but when we do eat red meat, flank steak is my first choice. It’s lean, and to feed a family of 5 or 6, you can buy an entire flank steak for less than $20. So, while that certainly isn’t cheap, it is way more cost-effective than individual steaks and it’s a much leaner cut of meat, which I personally like much better. I have to confess that both Dashiell and Trafford always ask where the fat is…how they can eat that stuff I will never understand…yuck!

Try the steak with my delectable Wasabi Sauce on the side….http://whatskatecooking.com/2017/04/wasabi-sauce/

Sheet Pan Wasabi Flank Steak
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Flank steak is mouthwatering in the oven or on the grill. If you decide to grill, the cooking times will be very similar, see my recipe for That Steak Salad for grilling instructions. Just be sure to let it rest for 10 minutes. The cut is so lean, it's crucial that the juices re-distribute. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1¾ - 2 lb Flank steak, scored (see note)
  • 1 tbsp Wasabi, prepared
  • ½ cup Soy sauce, low-sodium
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl whisk the wasabi with the soy sauce.
  2. Place flank steak in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over. Massage the marinade into the steak and place bag in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  3. Remove flank steak from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to start cooking.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
  5. Place flank steak on the sheet pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Lower the temperature to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Remove sheet pan from the oven and transfer the flank steak to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. A flank steak is done when the internal temperature is 130 degrees, which is medium rare. Feel free to cook for a few more minutes if you want it more to a medium doneness.
  9. Slice the meat thinly, against the grain (which means finding the direction of the grain, the way the muscle fibers are aligned, then slice across the grain rather than parallel with it) and serve.
Notes
Scoring - Flank steak has long fibers, so try making ⅛ inch shallow cuts against the grain in one direction, then another set of cuts the other way (it will look like a cross-hatch pattern). These cuts sever some of the long fibers, so your steak becomes noticeably more tender. A bonus is the shallow cuts absorb the seasoning or marinade, making for a more flavorful piece of meat.

 

 

 

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Grilled Asian-Style Portabello Mushrooms

Few vegetables are more delicious on the grill than portabello mushrooms…they lend themselves to all types of flavor profiles and they grill beautifully. This mouthwatering marinade pairs perfectly with the mushrooms, but would also work well with steak.

Shown with Grilled Baby Bok Choy

Grilled Asian-Style Portabello Mushrooms
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
This marinade is soooo good! Your mushrooms need as little as an hour in the marinade, but up to overnight works well too. Planning a quick weeknight dinner - I would double the marinade and include a few steaks. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp Soy sauce, low-sodium
  • ½ of a Lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Sambal oelek (see note)
  • ½ cup Canola oil
  • 4 Portabello mushrooms, gills removed (see note)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl mis together soy sauce, lime, garlic, sambal oelek and canola oil.
  2. Place mushrooms in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  3. Spray grill with canola spray and preheat to medium. Place mushrooms on the grill and cook, turning every 5 minutes for 15-20 minutes total.
  4. Remove from grill and serve immediately.
Notes
Sambal oelek - An Indonesian hot sauce that adds a subtle kick to the mushrooms. If you don't have it swap in Siracha. These mushrooms aren't spicy so you don't want to skip some type of hot sauce.
Why remove the gills? You simply need to scrap them out with a spoon. The gills can hide any sand or dirt - which would make your mushrooms taste gritty. And if you are making any type of sauce the dark gills can discolor anything they touch.

 

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