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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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Italian-style Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwiches

July 11, 2014 Entrees, Menu No Comments
ShrimpPoBoy

I was inspired to put this dish together a few weeks back when I saw Rick Moonen’s Catfish Sloppy Joe sandwich featured on The Food Network. I put a different spin on it by using my own Sloppy Joe recipe (found here), replacing the ground meat with shrimp. I also added zucchini and Old Bay to the mix for additional taste. I like to think of this sandwich as a cross between a Sloppy Joe and a Shrimp Po’Boy…a Sloppy Po’Boy, if you will. Unlike a true Po’Boy, these shrimp are not battered and fried. I also used a crusty Italian roll instead of a baguette…as long as the bread is good, there’s no need to be picky as far as I’m concerned. Whatever you prefer to call it, this is definitely a hearty and tasty sandwich, easy to make, and perfect for the summer season.

 

 

 

Italian-style Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwiches

Makes four sandwiches

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small red or green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, each piece cut into thirds
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
salt & pepper
Old Bay seasoning

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the zucchini, stir together and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the shrimp, stir together. Cook until all shrimp are pink.

Add the can of tomato sauce, season with salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning  to taste.

Stir together, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens up.

Serve in a crusty roll.

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Eggplant and White Bean Meatballs

June 29, 2014 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments
eggplant meatballs

Could it be? A meatball recipe that doesn’t include beef, pork and veal, and isn’t fried? I’ve preferred baking meatballs over frying them for a long time now…but a meatless meatball? Truth is, there are a lot of interesting vegetarian meatball recipes out there. I find that eggplant is a fun vegetable to experiment with, and a little research led me to quite a few eggplant meatball recipes. I picked and chose from a bunch and put together my own version, which also includes white beans. While obviously not the same taste and texture as a true meatball, these are loaded with great flavor, and are very hearty and filling. Crunchy on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside…it was a perfect substitute for the real deal. What’s best is that my youngest daughter Ava, who is a meatball aficionado, powered through a dish of these! Serves well on their own or with a dish of marinara on the side for dipping.

 

 

Eggplant and White Bean Meatballs

Makes approximately 12 meatballs

1 large eggplant, skin removed, cut into 1″ pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbspn olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
salt and pepper
1 tbspn fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tbspn mint, finely chopped (you can use 2 tbspn basil if you do not have mint on hand)
1/2 cup canned canellini or garbanzo beans, rinsed
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375˚. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, cook for one minute. Add eggplant, then add water. Stir so that all of the eggplant pieces are coated. Season with salt and pepper. Place a lid over the pan, lower the heat to medium and let eggplant cook until soft and tender, about 10-12 minutes (stirring occasionally). Remove eggplant from the pan, set aside to let cool.

When cooled, place eggplant in a food processor with remaining ingredients. Pulse until well mixed, but not puréed. You can mix by hand if you do not have a food processor, but the meatballs will have a chunkier consistency. Shape the mixture into small balls as you would with traditional meatballs. Placed the meatballs onto a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Lightly spray the meatballs. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with marinara sauce.

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Breakfast Polenta Pizza

June 1, 2014 Entrees, Menu No Comments
pizza1

I am often asked when an Italian breakfast will be featured on my food blog. A true Italian breakfast is very simple, usually consisting of a café e latte or a cappuccino, bread, some pastries and biscotti and maybe some fruit…which doesn’t really leave me with much to discuss. I have, however, always had the intentions to put some sort of breakfast meal together using Italian inspired ingredients. I’ve talked about breakfast strata in the past (you can visit my recipe by clicking here), and of course there are the meat pies and frittatas that are enjoyed during the Easter season. Using the key ingredients from the Easter pies as a starting point (meats, cheeses and eggs), I decided to put together a breakfast pizza.

When I was a kid, breakfast pizza meant enjoying a left-over cold slice from the night before as I watched my Saturday morning cartoons. But for this recipe, I’m going a little more elegant and classy, starting with the crust. Instead of a traditional bread crust, I’m making a crust out of polenta (corn meal or corn grits mixed with hot water, salt, butter and parmesan cheese for additional flavor). Making a polenta crust may sound intimidating, as polenta usually involves a good 25-30 minutes of consistent stirring. But for this polenta crust recipe, you actually only have to stir for about 5-7 minutes, until the polenta pulls away from the pot as you stir. The batter then gets poured onto a baking sheet and shaped into a crust. After baking the crust for 20 minutes, you are now ready to top your pizza with whatever toppings you like. Anything from traditional bacon, eggs and cheddar to sausage and peppers, to spinach, tomatoes and feta. Another ten minutes in the oven, and you’re ready to enjoy your breakfast pizza. This is a dish that allows you to be creative and to have fun. It’s also a good meal to get the kids involved…which as all parents know is always the trick to get your kids to eat something new! And be sure to leave your comments on this post to let us know what breakfast pizza topping you have come up with.

Breakfast Polenta Pizza

Step 1: The Crust
3 cups water
1/2 tspn salt
1 cup corn meal or corn grits (either will work)
1-1/2 tbspn butter
*Note – these measurements will make a crust that will fill a half of a 9×13 baking sheet. You can double the ingredients for a full pan

In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat. Gradually stir in the corn meal/corn grits. Reduce heat and stir frequently with a wooden spoon for about 5-7 minutes, until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pot. Stir in the butter until mixed in.

Carefully pour the mixture onto a 9×13 baking sheet that has been lightly greased and lightly dusted with additional corn meal/corn grits. Using a spatula, start to flatten out the batter and shape it into a square crust in the middle of the pan (see note above for measurements to fill the entire pan). Next, as the mixture starts to slightly cool, lightly oil your hands and continue to press the mixture into a crust shape, about 1/2″ thick. Be sure to add a slightly higher lip around the edge to prevent any toppings from running off. You can also make small divots in the crust with your thumb, which will also help contain any liquid toppings. When the dough is shaped, place the baking sheet into a 400˚ oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and proceed to add your toppings.

Step 2: The Toppings
Once the crust is removed from the oven and is slightly cooled, it is time to add your toppings. For my first attempt, I kept it simple and added cooked bacon bits, topped with 3 beaten eggs and some shredded cheddar cheese. You can add whatever toppings you like. Peppers and sausage, and spinach, tomatoes and feta pies are next on my list. Be sure that your meat toppings are pre-cooked before adding them to the pizza. Whatever you choose, add the toppings to the polenta crust first, then add the beaten eggs, then top with shredded cheese if you wish. Three eggs will be enough for the smaller crust. Six eggs should be enough for a full size crust, but you can adjust accordingly. When the pizza crust is topped, place it back in the 400˚ oven for another 10 minutes. Carefully remove it from the oven, slice it up and enjoy.

The polenta crust, shaped and ready to bake.

The polenta crust, shaped and ready to bake.

pizza3

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