Friday, August 5, 2011

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I love this bbq sauce... I have been making it for a while now and it's always a crowd pleaser. It's a vinegar & tomato base - a tangy & sweet combo! I usually make shrimp and grits to go with it, but this time Ed smoked some ribs and we used it with them! YUM! This sauce really goes great with anything you would put bbq sauce on!

Here's what you need:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Texas Pete, but you can use whatever kind you like)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Here's how you make it:

First cut up your onion and garlic

Heat a 1 quart saucepan over medium - medium-low heat. Add the vegetable oil to the pan.

Once it's hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan.

Cook the onions and garlic, stirring often, until softened, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the vinegar to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.

Place the remainder of the ingredients in the pan, stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

Cook the sauce for 20 minutes or until the sauce it thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

You can use the sauce warm or room temp. You can also cool it, and then transfer into a non-reactive container and refrigerate. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Ed's smoked rib's with a little bbq sauce on top

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Make Your Own Caprese Tomatoes

Ed came up with this one but he told me I could post it on my blog :) We have several different kinds of tomatoes in our garden and a customer of Ed's has been giving him some tomatoes as well. So we need to come up with different ways to eat all of these goodies! This one is super easy and very tasty! I don't really like tomatoes by themselves but I will totally eat a tomato this way!

Ingredients you will need:

Tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters
Mozzarella, cut into quarters
Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Black Prince Heirloom Tomato from our garden
Tomato from James's garden
Hybrid Johnson Pink Tomato from a customer
Balsamic, Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil - YUM!

Homemade Mocha Coconut Iced Coffee

I was so excited when I found this recipe on It sounded absolutely delicious!! I LOVE the frappachino one at Starbucks. I couldn't wait to try this coffee drink this afternoon! It was pretty easy to make and there is coconut whipped cream leftover for more!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

For coffee drink (1 serving)
5oz brewed coffee, cold
1/2 cup coconut milk
3+ tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp toasted coconut flakes

For coconut whipped cream (makes enough for several drinks)
1 can cold full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp sugar (or more for peaks to form)

Here is how you make it:

Brew the coffee and let it cool. I poured mine out into a glass and put it in the refrigerator to speed the process up.

Making the toasted coconut flakes:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 
Lay the flakes out flat on a baking sheet.

Heat flakes for about 5 minutes or until they turn a rich, golden brown.

Making the whipped cream
In a stand mixer (or bowl with an electric hand mixer) add the can of cold coconut milk & the sugar. Beat until peaks form - like the consistency of whipped cream. About 6 minutes.

Making the coffee drink
Fill the bottom of a glass with 2 tbsp chocolate syrup.

Add ice cubes.

Pour in the cooled coffee.

Add coconut milk.

Add vanilla.

Add sugar.

Stir to combine.

Add the whipped cream, chocolate syrup and toasted coconut flakes. Then drink the wonderful, chocolaty, coconutty goodness up!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Yesterday I made some tacos from a recipe I found on Food not the kind you buy in a box with pre-made seasoning but with a homemade seasoning and fresh tortillas! I added and changed a few things for my liking. Tacos are a great dinner for when you are having people come over - everyone can make their tacos the way they like them.

Here's what you need:
2 Tbsp corn oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced - leave some of a seeds if you want it to be spicier!
11/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Ground red pepper to taste
Ground coriander - just a pinch!
1 can diced tomatoes with the juices (you can use 4 peeled canned tomatoes, chopped or fresh tomatoes, chopped - I just didnt have any that were ripe yet and had the can of diced tomatoes on hand)
3/4 lb ground beef
1/3 cup chicken broth (I thought I had some in the fridge and I was wrong - so I just substitued with water)
Corn Tortillas or Tortilla Chips -We used both - Shannon and I had taco salad and Trevor and Ed had tacos!

Here's how you make it:
1. Prep all your veggies!
2. Put the oil, onions, garlic, jalapenos, and spices in a medium skillet and turn burner on to medium to medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the onions are tender, about 10 min.
3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes and their juices. Boil to thicken, about 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the beef and chicken stock, adjust the heat so the mixture simmers. Cook the beef until cooked through and the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
5. Season with S&P and it is ready to make into tacos!

Toppings we used:
2 avacados, chopped
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Romaine lettuce, chopped
You can use any other toppings you like! Salsa, tomatoes, etc :)

Eggplant Zucchini Bolognese & Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

I like to make dinners well I try using items that are on sale at Publix. This week was ground turkey and ground chuck. I have always wanted to try making something with ground turkey and see if Ed notices - he thinks ground turkey is gross. Well I wasn't that adventurous on Tuesday and got ground chuck instead :/ I found a recipe for Egglant Zucchini Bolognese (a meat spaghetti sauce) - I think ground turkey would be great in this recipe and no one would know! Buttt I used ground beef this time. We had our friends Will and Nicole over - who got engaged on Saturday and we didn't get to make it to the party - so I invited them over for a celebration dinner!
*I didn't take any pictures of this dish - start to finish - so bear with me on this one :)

Here is what you will need:
1 Box (16oz) Penne Pasta - I used about 3/4 of the box since we only had 5 people eating - I made all of the sauce because Ed and I like A LOT of sauce.
1 Small Eggplant - peeled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Medium Zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 Medium Yellow Summer Squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 Cup Onion, chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tsp Minced Garlic
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
1 lb ground beef (you can use whatever fat/meat ratio you want - I used 80/20 - or ground turkey!)
2 cans tomato sauce - no salt added
1 Jar of High Quality Spaghetti Sauce
1 1/2 Fresh Garden Tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning (I use McCormick's Italian Medley No Salt Added)
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Grated Parmesan for serving

Here's how you make it:
1. Put water in pot and bring to a boil. Cook a minute less than al dente because you will be putting the pasta in the tomato sauce and letting it simmer for a couple minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, zucchini, squash, onion, olive oil, S&P. Transfer to a baking pan that is coated with non-stick spray (I only had enough veggies for 1 pan, you should use 2 pans if it seems the 1st pan is over-crowded) Put in the pre-heated oven for 25-35 minutes or until tender. To make my veggies a little 'roastier' I turned the broiler on for about 3 minutes or so - if you do this you really have to keep an eye on them or they could burn to a crisp in a matter of seconds!
3. While the veggies are roasting, cook the beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until no longer pink in the center then drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes and spaghetti sauce (use a much or as little as you desire), Italian seasoning and brown sugar.
4. Drain the pasta. Then add pasta and roasted veggies into the Bolognese sauce.
5. Make your plate, sprinkle with Parm and dig in!

* I served this with a baguette and a big salad with carrots and cherry tomatoes with a Maple Dijon Vinaigrette.

Here is the recipe for the Vinaigrette - a favorite in our house. I just stumbled across this recipe when trying to find a quick vinaigrette to make one night. SO yummy.

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
You will need:
1/4 cup maple syrup (do NOT use imitation syrup, it will not taste right)
2 Tbsp Minced Shallot
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Clove Garlic, minced
S&P to taste

How to...
Mix all the ingredients together and serve! I have a handy little salad dressing bottle I got at Publix for about $3 - much easier to throw all the ingredients in there and shake. Instead of using a whisk and trying not to spill it everywhere when pouring it into a container or from the bowl into your salad.

Kung Pao Chicken!

Sunday night I took some chicken out of the freezer so it would be ready to use for dinner on Monday night. Most weeks/days I don't know what I'm going to make for dinner. Usually I just pick out a recipe at the end of the day at work and stop at the grocery store on the way home. I would like to get more organized by making a menu for every week and go to the grocery store on Sundays.. would being the key word here :)

This Monday was no exception... at the end of the day I found a recipe for 'Kung Pao Chicken' on Pinterest. I think I'm seeing a pattern here... I had all of the ingredients at the house except the carrots and soy sauce... which we had ran out of the night before. I stopped to get a few things from the store and was on my way home to start making din.

I love cooking but I am still working on my prep skills. It usually takes me a little longer than the time on the recipe; which is ok with me I just know I have to start a little earlier ;) Here is the recipe with some pictures*!
*I am still getting used to taking a picture for each step. So there aren't as many as there could be! I promise I will work on that!

Ingredients you will need:
1lb Boneless Chicken Breasts
3 Tbsp Veggie Oil (divided)
3 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar (divided)
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce (divided)
2 Tbsp Corn Starch (divided)
2 Tbsp Water (divided)
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Chili Sauce -I used Chili Garlic Sauce - you can find this in the Asian section of your local grocery store
2 Tsp Minced Garlic
2 Tsp Sesame Seed Oil
1/2 Bunch Green Onions - or you can use the whole bunch or however much you want to use!
1 Medium Bell Pepper - I used a small Cajun Bell Pepper & Small Green Bell Pepper from our garden
About 3-4 Whole Carrots -Depending on size and how many carrots you want in your dish
1/2 Roasted Unsalted Peanuts -Here I used the honey roasted peanuts we had in the pantry
1.5 cups Uncooked Jasmine Rice -I didn't make this much, this is the amount of rice you would make if 6 adults were eating

Here's how I made the Kung Pao Chicken 

1: Prepare the marinade for the chicken. In a medium sized bowl dissolve 1 Tbsp corn starch with 1 Tbsp water (I like to put the cornstarch in and pour the water on top, then stir until dissolved). Then add 1 Tbsp veggie oil, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp rice wine, and 2 tsp minced garlic. Stir to combine.

2: Cut the chicken into small chunks and put into the bowl you made the marinade in. Stir to coat. Then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min.

The chicken after marinating for a little over 30 min.

3: While the chicken is marinating, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, dissolve 1 Tbsp corn starch in 1 Tbsp water. Then add 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp sesame seed oil. Stir to combine and dissolve the brown sugar. Let it sit while you prep the veggies, stirring every once and while to make sure sugar is dissolved.

This is what the sauce looks like when you stir for the first time. Let sit and it will all combine.

4: Prep the veggies. Dice the bell pepper. Slice the carrots thinly (you can use a mandolin, a knife or a peeler) get them as thin as you can. Slice the green onions, both white and green - keep them separate! Measure out the 1/2 cup of peanuts.

5: Cook the rice - add the rice to a medium pot and add water (if you want to make 6 servings you need to measure out 1 1/2 cups of rice and 2 1/2 cups of water - so if you use 1/2 cup of rice you should add 1 1/2 cups of water - you always want more water than you have rice) Place the lid on top and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as  the water boils, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 min. When the timer goes off, turn off the burner and let the rice sit until ready to use (Don't open the lid! - it will let all the steam out that is going to keep it warm before you fluff it and serve)

Rice + Water

6: Heat 2 Tbsp veggie oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil gets hot (you will know by the waves that form in the oil), add the white part of the green onions you chopped. Stir and cook for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Add the chicken. Cook and stir until the chicken is cooked through. If your pieces are small enough this will only take about 5 minutes - the smaller you cut the chicken the faster it will cook. The chicken will feel firm when it is done - cut a piece in half if you are unsure.

7: Add the veggies and peanuts to the skillet. Stir to combine. Add the sauce immediately (for crunchy veggies - for softer veggies wait 3-5 minutes before adding sauce) cook until sauce is thicken - about 2-3 minutes.

Pan right after adding veggies, peanuts and sauce.

Pan after letting sauce simmer for about 3 minutes. 

8: Fluff rice with a fork. Serve the chicken over the rice. Garnish with sliced green onions and ENJOY! :)

Fluff your rice with a fork before serving!