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Coconut Lime Chicken

September 13, 2014 Entrees, Menu No Comments
limechicken

This past weekend, we had our annual end-of-summer neighborhood grill fest. Since chicken is always a crowd pleaser, and coconut and lime are two of my favorite summer flavors, I did some research and put together my own variation of grilled coconut lime chicken. Although I did not win the coveted Friendship Road ‘Golden Spatula’ for favorite dish, my entry seemed to be a big hit with everyone…so I’ll take that as a win any day! This is definitely a tasty dish that could be served up any time of the year, so I’ve also included baking instructions for those who do not like to venture out into the cooler weather to fire up their grill.

 

 

6 chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise (makes a total of 12 pieces)
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
juice of 4 limes, plus zest of two limes
1/4 tspn ground ginger
1/2 tspn light brown sugar
2 tspn salt
1/4 tspn black pepper
1/4 cup shredded coconut

In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk, olive oil, garlic, lime juice and zest, ginger, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. If grilling, reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade for later use.

Cut about 4 to 5 small slits into each chicken breast. Place the chicken breasts into a plastic baggie, then pour the remaining marinade mixture over the chicken. Squeeze all air out of the baggie, then tightly tie the bag closed. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

Grilling

Heat your grill to medium-high, evenly coating your grill grates with cooking spray. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and place on the grill. Discard the old marinade. Pour a small portion of the reserved marinade into a bowl. Grill for approximately 15-20 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is browned and evenly cooked. Baste the chicken occasionally with the small portion of the marinade, discarding what is left of the small portion of marinade when grilling is done.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and place it in a baking dish. Pour the remaining marinade evenly over the chicken, and place the baking dish into your oven set to warm for 10 minutes. This will allow the remaining marinade to slightly thicken into a sauce.

While the chicken is in the oven, place the shredded coconut into a large pan. Toast over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the coconut starts to brown.  Remove chicken from the oven, sprinkle with toasted coconut. You can also sprinkle with chives for extra color and flavor!

Baking

Preheat oven to 375˚. Remove marinated chicken from refrigerator, place in a baking dish. Pour marinade over chicken, making sure that all pieces are well covered (there is no need to reserve any marinade when baking). Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked, flipping once half-way through. Remove from oven, top with toasted coconut (see instructions above for toasting coconut).

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Tomato Salad with Toasted Bread

September 4, 2014 Menu, Salads No Comments
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Summer is quickly coming to an end, which means that an abundance of ripe and juicy garden tomatoes is on its way! One of my favorites ways of enjoying garden tomatoes is in a nice tomato salad. There’s nothing fancy or intricate about this dish. Just add some salt and pepper, a little olive oil, maybe a dash or two of balsamic vinegar and some fresh chopped basil to your sliced tomatoes, and voila…a quick and tasty tomato salad. Of course, you can kick it up by adding some fresh chopped cucumber, red onion or chunks of cheese. Even bacon pieces add a nice touch. Whatever ingredients you may choose, it doesn’t take much to create a delicious tomato salad.

However, I did pick up an interesting and easy trick to make tomato salad that much better from my sister-in-law Carmela, while we were all on vacation this past summer. By simply toasting up some cubed and lightly seasoned day-old bread, you now have a crunchy and tasty side to serve with your tomato salad. Home made croutons, if you will! The toasted bread not only adds a nice crunchy bite, it also balances out the wetness of the salad by soaking up some of the juices…which, of course makes the toasted bread even more enjoyable.

Just as I had suggested with seasoning the tomatoes, you don’t have to do a lot to enhance the flavor of the toasted bread. A quick drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper before toasting makes for a tasty basic crouton. If you want a more flavorful and zesty crouton, try adding some parmesan cheese, garlic and/or onion powder, or some Italian seasoning. The amount that you add is all according to your taste. Just make sure that you’re using good quality day-old bread, because good bread is ALWAYS the key to a good Italian meal!

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Step 1: Cut up day-old crusty bread into 1″ cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and any additional seasonings that you prefer. Bake at 325˚ for 10 minutes, making sure not to burn the bread.

 

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Step 2: Slice up your tomatoes (along with cucumbers and red onion if you prefer).

 

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Step 3: In a large bowl, mix together your sliced veggies, some salt and pepper and a dash or two of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can add additional spices and seasonings, along with other ingredients (cheese, bacon, etc.) to your liking. You can also prepare the salad earlier in the day and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 

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Step 4: Plate your salad and toasted bread. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy!
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Eggplant Prosciutto Involtini

August 21, 2014 Menu No Comments
Folded and ready to be served.

One of the more trendy dishes that you may find today on an Italian menu is Eggplant Involtini.

Inspired by the Italian word for ‘little bundles’, eggplant involtini is thinly-sliced eggplant, stuffed and rolled with a ricotta filling, then cooked in a basic tomato sauce. My wife and I always preferred to have our eggplant prepared thin, so involtini is a dish that we enjoy whenever we have the chance.

For my version of eggplant involtini, I’m replacing the ricotta stuffing with a garlic-herb goat cheese (one of my latest guilty pleasures) topped with a thin slice of prosciutto. There is no need for tomato sauce in this recipe (although feel free to add it on top if you wish).

When baked, the eggplant develops a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft and tasty interior, and is the perfect casing for the crispy and salty prosciutto and the creamy and tangy goat cheese.

This dish serves well as an appetizer or a main course.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, skin removed and sliced thin from top to bottom (you will get about 6-8 slices)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic herb goat cheese
  • prosciutto

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375˚. Lightly drizzle eggplant slices on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Place slices on a cooking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until eggplant starts to turn golden brown.

Remove from oven, flip the eggplant slices and place a dollop of the goat cheese on each slice. Top with a thin slice of prosciutto, then fold in half (rolling may cause the slices to break). Place the eggplant back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the eggplant is a rich golden brown, being careful not to burn the eggplant.

Serve and enjoy.

The baked eggplant topped with goat cheese.

The baked eggplant topped with goat cheese.

Folded and ready to be served.

Folded and ready to be served.

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Mini Meatball Roll-Ups

August 5, 2014 Appetizer, Menu No Comments
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This past weekend I had gotten together with my closest college friends, as we celebrated our 20-something year reunion. While putting plans into place for our get together, we joked around about our daily diets of bodega-store eggrolls and street corner meatball sandwiches (we were starving art students at the time…don’t judge). This, of course, gave me the perfect idea for an appetizer to bring to our reunion. I simply cooked up some loose ground meat using my traditional meatball recipe mixed with a quick tomato sauce, then rolled it up in wonton wrappers with some shredded mozzarella cheese. What started off as a fun little idea turned into a creative, bite-sized alternative to a classic Italian party favorite!

There’s no real need for me to get too specific with ingredients for this recipe. I am well aware that the cook in every household, especially an Italian house, is partial to their own family meatball recipe. I do have my own meatball recipe listed below, if you are in need of one. One pound of your preferred meatball recipe, along with one cup of your preferred tomato sauce/Sunday gravy will work wonders. I used wonton wrappers because they roll up to a perfect bite-sized appetizer. You can also use eggroll wrappers for a larger portion, or any other pastry or dinner roll wrapper that you prefer. I also have listed below both a baking and stove top method for preparing the meatball mixture. I prefer baking my meatballs, but use whatever method you prefer. After all, it wouldn’t be a true meatball recipe if you weren’t able to make it to your liking!

Mini Meatball Roll-Ups

(You can use my quick sauce and meatball recipe below, or you can use your own preferred sauce and meatball recipe)
1 lb cooked meatball mixture*
1 cup tomato sauce, plus your preference of seasoning for taste (I used garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pack wonton wrappers (makes 52 wraps)

Oven preparation
Preheat oven to 375˚. Break up meatball mixture* into a glass baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until meat is cooked. You can check on it occasionally and carefully break the meat apart with a wooden spoon. Remove from oven when fully cooked, set aside to cool. Heat the sauce in a sauce pan, season to your preference. When the meatball mixture is cooled, break apart into small pieces (a few pulses in a food processor works well for this). Mix the sauce with the meatball mixture, set aside to completely cool.

Stovetop preparation
Heat 1 tbspn olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add meatball mixture*, breaking into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until loose meat is no longer pink. Add tomato sauce, season to taste. Simmer until meatball mixture and sauce are mixed well. Remove from heat, let cool.

Assembly
Place one tspn of cooled meatball and sauce mixture in the middle of a wonton wrapper, top with a pinch of shredded mozzarella cheese (be sure that the mixture is cooled, otherwise it will soften the wrapper). Roll the wrapper up half way from the bottom up. Lightly wet the top edge of the wrapper with water, then continue to roll and lightly pinch the edge to seal. Repeat until all wonton wrappers are filled or all meatball mixture is used.

Place the wrappers on a lightly sprayed baking sheet (you will need two baking sheets if you are making all 52 wrappers). Lightly spray the rolled wraps with cooking spray. Bake in the oven at 375˚ for 20 minutes or until the wrappers are golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!

*Dom’s Meatball Mixture

1 lb ground beef. pork and veal mixture
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbspn Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 tbspn milk

Combine and thoroughly mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.

meatball rollups

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