Archive for Dinner

Smoked Beef Brisket – A slightly sweet, smoky version

I love a good BBQ.  It’s rare that I use a dry rub when we BBQ at our house, especially since my daughter makes excellent marinades.  However, when it comes to brisket, I prefer using a dry rub.

I like to experiment with different spice combinations when coming up with recipes for dry rubs.  This one contains an unusual combination of espresso powder, brown sugar and cumin, among other things.  The sweetness of the sugar goes really well with the smokiness of the espresso and cumin.

I also save some of the dry rub mixture to make a mop sauce to baste the brisket as it smokes.  All that’s needed to make the mop sauce is to mix a bottle of your favorite beer (ale works well with this recipe) with about 1/2 cup of the dry rub mixture.  Don’t worry–the alcohol cooks out by the time the brisket is done.

I own a smoker/grill, which is what I used to smoke my brisket.  You don’t need a smoker to make this, however.  You can bake this long and slow in your oven.  The result will still be finger-licking-good.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Smoked Brisket

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • A nicely marbled brisket, about 7-8 pounds, with a nice layer of fat on one side
  • 1 bottle beer (I used a 12-ounce bottle of Alaskan ale)

Directions:

1.  In a small measuring cup, mix together the brown sugar, cumin, espresso powder, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

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2.  Save 1/2 cup of the dry rub to make the mop sauce.  Spread the rest of the rub evenly over both sides of the brisket.

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3.  Mix the beer with the remaining 1/2 cup of the dry rub mixture.  Set this aside.

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4.  If you own a smoker, place the brisket on the grill, fat-side facing up.  Smoke the brisket for one hour, then turn the temperature to 225 degrees to cook for the remaining time.  You’ll smoke/cook the brisket for a total of 6 hours.  Generously baste the brisket once every hour.

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5.  Mid-way through the cooking time, after about 3 hours or so, flip the brisket over so that the fat is on the bottom.  Continue basting every hour; stop basting one hour prior to the brisket being done.

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6.  When the brisket is done (after it’s been smoking/cooking for about 6 hours), remove it from the grill or oven.  Wrap the brisket in aluminum foil and let the brisket rest for 30 minutes.

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7.  After 30 minutes of resting, unwrap the brisket.

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8.  Thinly slice the brisket, ensuring you cut across the grain of the meat.

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Serve and ENJOY!

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Our mini-poodle is waiting patiently for his share! 🙂

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Tomato-Braised Pork Ribs

One of my family’s favorite ways for me to cook pork ribs (other than Chamorro BBQ) is to braise it in a thick and sweet tomato sauce.

My mom used to make this for us growing up, only she used tomato ketchup (I still make it this way sometimes).

What is braising, you ask? Braising is a form of cooking with liquid so that the moist heat breaks down connective tissues in tough cuts of meat, leaving them quite tender and fall-off-the-bone good.

I usually cook this dish in a large soup pot (I start it a couple of hours before I intend to serve it), but if you’re pressed for time, you can easily prepare this in a pressure cooker.

Give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Tomato-Braised Pork Ribs

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Ingredients:

  • 2 slabs baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

Directions:

Rinse each slab of ribs, then trim off any excess fat. Separate each rib then place into a large pot over medium high heat.

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Add the soy sauce, vinegar and garlic to the pot. Stir to evenly coat each rib with the liquid and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning.

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Add the onions and water to the pot.

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Stir in the crushed tomatoes and molasses. Blackstrap molasses is not too sweet, but adds just the right amount of sweetness for this dish. If you don’t have molasses, you can add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar.

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Now it’s time to start the braising process. Cooking the ribs in this delicious tomato sauce, long and over medium-low heat, is the key to creating fall-off-the-bone yumminess. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil over the top of the pot, tightly sealing it. Place a lid over the foil. Simmer the ribs for at least 2 hours.

This is what the ribs looked like before braising.

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This is the “after” photo. Notice how the sauce reduced and thickened (it’s so good poured over steamed white rice!).

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Serve with hot white rice (don’t forget the sauce, too) and ENJOY!

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Escabeche

Escabeche is a dish made with fried fish and vegetables with a ginger-vinegar sauce. It’s usually prepared for special occasions, but since we’re in the middle of the Lenten season, this is a great dish to prepare for meatless Friday meals.

The traditional Chamorro version uses tuba vinegar and orange ginger (mango’, in Chamorro). I prefer using fresh ginger for this dish, but I rarely find it in the Asian stores where I live. Ground tumeric makes a great substitute for fresh ginger.

I remember how my mom would go to the back yard and pull up some orange ginger roots. She’d clean and peel the ginger, place the pieces in heavy duty aluminum foil, then she’d pound the heck out of the ginger with a hammer. 😉

I love fried fish, and this dish is usually made with fried fish. I’m trying to eat healthier these days, so I opted to bake instead of fry my fish. Use any good white fish like tilapia, parrot fish, or one of my favorites–orange roughy.

Give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Escabeche

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large broccoli head, cut into little “trees” about 3 inches long
  • 1 medium cabbage, cut into large pieces (I like using Chinese cabbage for this dish)
  • 1 large eggplant or 4 medium long (Japanese or Chinese) eggplants, sliced lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • 1 to 1 1/3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (plus more for seasoning the fish)
  • 6 to 8 teaspoons tumeric (plus more for seasoning the fish)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 3 pounds white fish (tilapia and orange roughy are good for this dish)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Black pepper, about a teaspoon
  • Optional: Other vegetables of your choosing, like sliced onions or leafy greens

Directions:

Place a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. I have a 14″ skillet that I love to use for making fried rice, stir-fried dishes, or making dishes like escabeche. You want a fairly large pot that is wide across the top so that you can somewhat steam the vegetables, not boil them.

Pour 1 cup of water into the pan and bring it to a boil.
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Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the boiling water.
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Add the broccoli to the pan.
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Pour 1/3 cup of vinegar into the pan.
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Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of tumeric over the broccoli.
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Use a pair of tongs to gently stir the mixture around in the pan, just until the tumeric is mixed into the liquid.
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Cook the broccoli just until it is slightly wilted, or cooked to your liking. Place the broccoli into a medium sized mixing bowl, leaving the tumeric sauce in the pan.
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If you don’t have much liquid in the pan, add another cup of water and 1/3 cup of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 more teaspoons of tumeric. Bring the liquid back up to a boil then add the cabbage leaves.
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Use the tongs to turn the cabbage, evenly coating each leaf in tumeric sauce. Cook until the leaves begin to wilt.
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Place the cooked cabbage into the bowl of broccoli, leaving the liquid in the pan once again.
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As with the step before, if you don’t have much liquid in the pan, add another cup of water, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 more teaspoons tumeric.

Bring the liquid to a boil then add the sliced eggplant to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium low (the eggplant takes longer to cook and your liquid may dry up completely as the eggplant cooks). Cook the eggplant for about 4 minutes then flip the slices over and cook the other side for another 4 minutes (or cook until the eggplant softens).
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When the eggplant is done, remove it from the pan and place it into the bowl with the other cooked vegetables.
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Repeat this process (of cooking the vegetables) for any remaining vegetables you are adding to the dish (like onions or kangkun leaves).

If your liquid dries up, add another cup of water, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons tumeric. Add the garlic to the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium high. Cook the garlic sauce for a couple of minutes.
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Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables. Set aside until the fish is done.
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Prepare the fish.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish filets on a large rimmed baking sheet.
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Sprinkle salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and tumeric on both sides of the fish. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Use a fork to check for doneness (the fish should flake easily with a fork).
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When the fish is done, it’s time to layer the escabeche.

In the bottom of a 9×13 pan, place a even layer of eggplant, half of the cabbage leaves and broccoli.
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Carefully place each of the baked fish filets on top of the bottom layer of vegetables.
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I don’t have a photo of these next steps (I don’t know how I forgot to take photos!), but layer the remaining vegetables on top of the layer of fish.

Pour any remaining sauce over the vegetables.

While you can eat this immediately, this dish is best if made the day before and allowed to “marinate” overnight. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil then place in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld.

The next day, after all the sauce soaked into the fish and vegetables, the escabeche is now perfect and ready to enjoy. Reheat individual portions, or bake the entire pan (covered with foil) at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Serve with hot steamed rice and fina’denne’. ENJOY!
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No Tomato Chili

My family loves chili. Chili with rice, chili dogs, chili with Frito’s corn chips, or Chili with Doritos chips — you name it, we love it.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that I get heartburn when I eat foods that contain too much tomatoes, and most chili recipes (mine included) are tomato-based.

I created this recipe for two specific reasons. First, I wanted to create a tomato-less chili recipe to keep the heartburn at bay. Second, as you’ll read below, I wanted to create a healthier recipe that is right in line with my attempt at eating “cleaner”.

You’ll see my basic recipe below, but scroll down a bit for some ingredient substitutions that make this a better choice when you feel like indulging in this, a typically UNhealthy (but oh-so-delicious) menu option.

Give my recipe a try, and if you can, swap out the usual ingredients for the healthier options. I think you’ll like it, and your body will thank you for it too. 😉

No Tomato Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef *(see note 1 below)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 roasted poblano chilies, diced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour *(see note 2 below)
  • 1 box (32 ounces) chicken stock *(see note 3 below)
  • 3 cans (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed *(see note 4 below)
  • 3/4 cup tomatillo salsa
  • Optional:  2 smoked chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • Optional:  1 tablespoon chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce
  • Optional:  1/4 cup sour cream *(see note 5 below)

*Ingredient Substitutions for a Healthy Version of my Chili Recipe:

Note 1:  Instead of ground beef, opt for ground turkey, or boneless, skinless chicken breast. Look for free-range chickens (and turkeys too, for that matter) if you can find it (read more about this below).

If you have a husband like mine who prefers ground beef chili, buy good quality beef that’s relatively low in fat.

An even better choice is to buy grass-fed beef, if you can find any in your grocery store. Cows that are NOT grass-fed are typically fed a mixture of grains and animal byproducts. Now what cows do you know of that naturally feeds on animals? The photo below shows an example of a label for grass-fed beef. There is a stamp on the label that states it was inspected and passed by the USDA.  You should also look for a USDA Organic stamp on the label. Most importantly, in addition to seeing “Grass Fed” on the label, you should also see that there are no antibiotics, hormones or preservatives in the meat.

Note 2:  I’m not gluten-intolerant, but for the next few weeks, I’m going gluten-free AND corn-free. If you recall my recipe for Beer Chili, I add crushed corn tortilla chips to serve as both a flavoring as well as a thickening agent.  I had to figure out what type of non-wheat or non-corn flour would serve the purpose of thickening the chili without adding contrasting/offending flavors. 

This substitution nixes the all-purpose flour and tortilla chips and uses stone-ground rice flour instead.  The rice flour thickens the chili nicely without masking the traditional chili flavors.

Note 3: The best chicken stock in my view is homemade stock…if you have the time to make some, that is. I’m usually looking for time-savers in the kitchen, so I buy chicken stock most of the time. This substitution calls for organic chicken stock made from free-range chickens. Like grass-fed beef, free-range chickens are just that–chickens allowed to roam free and eat what they naturally eat, not a feed mixture that also usually contains animal byproducts, hormones and antibiotics.

Look for broth that is low in sodium. You also want to see that USDA Ogranic stamp on the packaging.

I’m a big fan of reading ingredient labels too. Not all organic and free-range broths are all that healthy. Most contain added sugar (to compensate for the decreased sodium). I’ve also found several brands that claim to be organic, but when you read the ingredient list, there is not one (or very few) ingredient that is organic! This is what you should see when you turn the box over and read the ingredient list. Organic…organic…organic…and no sugar added.

Note 4:  Now there’s not much you can do to substitute pinto beans, aside from choosing to soak and cook dry beans or buying canned beans. Remember when I stated earlier that I’m all for saving time in the kitchen? Well, that means soaking and cooking dried beans are out–I buy canned beans all the time.

The substitution I’m advocating for here is to look for cans that claim to have a Non-BPA lining. This photo shows what I’m talking about.

BPA is the common acronym for the industrial chemical, bisphenol A, found in thousands of commercial products. BPA has been linked with reproductive problems, brain impairments, cancer, obesity and more. Eliminating exposure to BPA is probably not possible, but you can take measures to reduce your exposure.

For example, rinse food (like canned beans) from cans before eating or cooking. Choose ceramic, glass or other microwave-friendly dishes, instead of plastic. Don’t use plastic containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 (look on the bottom of the container for the number) and look for (and don’t use) plastic bottles with scratches on them.

 

Note 5:  Adding sour cream is completely optional in this recipe.  I do like the tang that you get by adding sour cream.  To go (cow) dairy free, substitute with sheep’s milk plain yogurt, or omit the sour cream altogether.

 

I hope I didn’t scare you off trying my recipe. It’s really delicious even if you DON’T make these substitutions, I promise!

With these 5 simple substitutions, you can turn this recipe into a healthy version of traditional chili.  At the risk of being repetitively redundant (get it? 🙂 ), give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

 

Directions:

1.  Place a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken pieces).

2.  Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, sea salt and black pepper to the pot.

3.  Stir well; cook until the meat is browned.

4.  Add the onions to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.

5.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.  Cook for about a minute.

6.  Add the flour to the pot.  Stir to thoroughly mix the flour into the meat mixture.

7.  Pour the chicken stock into the pot, stirring the mixture as you add the liquid.  Turn the heat up to high.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks.

8.  While the chili is cooking, roast the poblano chilies.  I just place the peppers over one of the burners on my gas stove.

9.  Rotate the pepper as it grills to ensure even cooking.

***Don’t do what I did and forget to peel off the charred skin! Or, you can forget, like I did, but then you’ll be fishing blackened pepper skin out of your chili. 😉

To remove the charred skin, let the peppers cool slightly.  After the peppers cool, use a damp paper towel to rub the charred skin off the peppers.

10.  Cut the peppers in strips, lengthwise, then dice them into small pieces.

11.  Add the peppers to the pot.  If you want to add the optional chipotle peppers and chipotle Tabasco, add them to the pot now.

12.  Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot.

13.  Stir in the tomatillo salsa.

Note:  I bought a jar of organic tomatillo salsa for this recipe, but you can make your own from scratch.

14.  Place a lid on the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.

15.  The chili should be nice and thick by now.  Stir in the optional sour cream (note that I did NOT add any sour cream to the chile pictured in this recipe).  Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings and salt to your liking.

Serve with rice (I opted for brown rice) or chips and ENJOY!

 

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Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa and Tangy Coleslaw

This is not your typical fish taco.  It’s even better if you ask me, but then I might be a bit biased. 😉

When I think of fish tacos, I picture battered fried fish, cabbage slaw, and a spicy mayo, all wrapped in a corn tortilla.

I’m trying to eat healthier meals, so I created this version where I bake instead of fry the fish.  I also created a tangy coleslaw that uses no mayo, but some surprise HEALTHIER-FOR-YOU ingredients that kick up the flavor as well as the nutrition.  You won’t see spicy mayo drizzled over my version either.  Instead, I made a mango salsa that pairs so well with the fish and coleslaw.  To make this even better for you, I opted for lettuce leaves as my taco wrap.  Man-oh-man, are these tacos delicious!

Give my recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

Drop me a line to let me know what you think.

Fish Tacos

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Coleslaw Ingredients:

  • 1 bag (10-oz) angel hair coleslaw (or 8 cups finely shredded cabbage)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley

Coleslaw Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (you can use honey, but the molasses is healthier for you…read more about its amazing health benefits here.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Stevia sweetener (or you can add 2 more tablespoons of honey)

Mango Salsa Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional:  1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

Fish Ingredients:

  • 4 whole orange roughy filets (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Extra virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons

Other Ingredients:

  • Lettuce leaves (use Bib lettuce, Red or Green Curly Leaf Lettuce)
  • Avocado, sliced

Directions:

1.  Make the Cole Slaw.

Place the sliced cabbage in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add the parsley.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage and parsley.

Toss the ingredients together.  Refrigerate the coleslaw until you’re ready to assemble the tacos.  This will give it time to let the flavors meld.

2.  Make the Mango Salsa.

Cut the skin off the mango.  Dice the mango into 1/4-inch cubes.  Place into a small mixing bowl.

Add the red onions and the optional jalapeño to the bowl.

Add the cilantro.

Stir to combine the ingredients.  Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the tacos.

3.  Bake the Fish.

Cut the fish filets into halves (if they’re small) or thirds (if they’re large).  Place into a rimmed baking dish (I used a 9×13 pan).  Sprinkle both sides of the fish with the sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

Drizzle the olive oil all over the fish (top side only).

Bake the fish at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

4.  Assemble the tacos.

Slice the avocados.  Rinse and dry the lettuce leaves.  Set aside.

Place a lettuce leaf on a plate.  Add some Tangy Coleslaw on top of the lettuce leaf.  Place a piece of baked fish on top of the coleslaw.  Add a scoop of mango salsa on top of the fish.  Top with avocado slices, serve and ENJOY!

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