Monday, May 18, 2015

Fire up the Grill


Man Crates

What makes a great cookout? That is the question that has been posed to me by the company Mancrates. 

Never heard of Mancrates? They are a company that makes really cool gifts for men. They fill a crate with products that just ooze manliness and then ship it to you with a crowbar for your fella to open up. 

In celebration of the start of BBQ season they have asked me to include some of my favorite things that really make a cookout special. 

Clearly, the food is super important. First, I love to have guests bring a side with them so everyone gets to have something they like regardless of food allergies and tastes. Not to mention everyone has the opportunity to try out new things. It doesn't hurt that this creates a little less work for the host or hostess! 

Some of my favorite sides I like to add to any BBQ get together include:



 







All of these have great flavor and go well with whatever the host is making for the main dish.

As far as logistics go, the outdoors need to be considered. I am not sure if citronella candles actually help keep bugs away, but they at least give you the illusion they might combat those nasty biting critters.  I am also a big fan of things that provide some shade. Whether it be an awning, a tarp or umbrella, it is needed for us ginger folk to enjoy the out of doors.

As far as providing refreshments, iced tea and lemonade are always a safe bet. People can drink them as is, mix them together for an Arnold Palmer or mix them with whatever libation they bring with them.

As with most meals, my favorite part is the dessert. I love a good fruit dessert after a great BBQ. Fruit desserts a sweet, but not too heavy and hit the spot after a great meal.



 





Any of these or even some grilled pineapple with ice cream is a delicious way to end your cookout or BBQ. I hope you make some of these as you fire up your grill this Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thai Peanut Noodles


 

Thai curry paste is a superhero of flavor in any recipe you make. It reminds me of a bunch of clowns in a tiny car. Thai curry paste often comes in a petite little jar, but it has so much flavor and makes anything you cook taste like you put a ton of ingredients in it. The red paste is my favorite. It is spicy, tangy and it is so versatile in so many dishes.

One of my favorite ways to use this is with rice noodles with chicken and vegetables. The sauce is so yummy and rich but takes very little time to whip up. 

Try this out and you will love it!

Ingredients 


1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 green bell peppers, chopped 
3 Tablespoons red Thai curry paste
3 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon chicken base
1 package of straight cut rice noodles
cilantro, chopped
red pepper flakes (optional)


Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the vegetable oil. 

Brown both sides of the chicken until the outside is golden. You could cut the chicken into small pieces now, but I really think the meat stays the most tender and juicy when the meat is left whole until the end.


Remove the browned chicken from the pan and set aside for a few minutes. Add in the green pepper and saute for about 2 minutes. Add in the curry paste, peanut butter, coconut milk, and chicken base. Stir this until the mixture combines. Return the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium low and cover until the meat is done on the inside. This should take about 15 minutes.


When the chicken is almost done soaking up all that yummy sauce, throw the rice noodles into boiling water. Cook these for only about 4 to 5 minutes, just until they are almost tender.


Once the rice noodles are done, take out the chicken and cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Add the noodles to the pot and stir the whole mixture together. If you want to add a little more spice, add in the red pepper flakes. 


Just before serving, add in the cilantro and give it one last stir. This is a great dish to spice up any weeknight meal!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies


Shortbread is one of my favorite cookies to serve people. They're never too sweet and they can be dressed up in all kinds of different ways to be extra special. Not to mention the butter flavor. Everyone likes butter. Well, good people like butter. 

This is my latest favorite way to make shortbread. I had read about putting Earl Grey tea into cookie dough. As a tea lover I thought it was a crazy idea to put loose tea into a cookie. As I would read the recipes the thought of gritty tea in my teeth made me cringe bit. However, many pinterest reviews couldn't be wrong, and they weren't. 

These cookies are fabulous. 

I am not usually a lover of Early Grey tea. It's just not my cup of tea.

However, in these cookies it is just fabulous. The lightly smoky flavor of the tea really comes through and there is absolutely no grit. 

Not even a little bit. 


Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour 
2 teabags of Earl Grey tea


First, blend your softened butter with an electric mixer. Make sure it is light and fluffy. Then add in the sugar, and flour. Beat this for about 30 seconds on medium speed. 

Add in the flour and tea. Then mix by hand until the ingredients are just combined. 
 

 The dough will be a bit sticky, but don't be tempted to add more flour until you have let the dough chill. 


 You can either cover the bowl with plastic wrap or dump the whole pile into a sheet of the shiny stuff. Then let this chill for about 30 minutes to an hour. 


Take about 1 tablespoon of the dough and form a ball. Then squish the ball to form an even disk of the dough. 
 

Bake the cookies for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees just until the tops are barely golden.

These are just a perfect snack that will brighten your day!