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Grilling season!

It’s getting closer to grilling season. In some parts of the country, it’s already here. Or hell, some of you will grill when snow is on the ground, and there isn’t a whole lot wrong with that. Anyway, here is a set of recipes I posted on Grub for Guys a couple years ago. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa
There is nothing like barbecue chicken in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend time waiting for bone-in, skin-on chicken to take forever to grill while the fat drips into the fire and burns your chicken. Me, I will take my chances with a boneless chicken breast, but dressed up for maximum flavor. Here is a simply marinated chicken with a bright, flavorful and spicy salsa to top it with.

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
¼ cup olive oil
2 limes, divided
Kosher salt & black pepper
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into very small chunks
½ cup peeled, seeded cucumber, also cut into small chunks
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, stem removed, seeded and chopped very fine

Directions
Combine olive oil, juice of one lime, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Add chicken and marinate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. In a small bowl, combine pineapple, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno, juice of one lime and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high. Remove chicken from bag and grill for about four minutes per side, or until no longer pink and slightly charred on the outside. Serve chicken topped with salsa. Serves 4.

Tequila Lime Pork Tacos
Ingredients
4 boneless pork loin chops
¼ cup tequila
2 limes, divided
2 Tbsp. packaged taco-seasoning mix
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup cilantro, divided
Kosher salt & pepper
12 small corn tortillas
1 mango
½ cup shredded manchego cheese
½ cup shredded cabbage or cole slaw mix
Guacamole (store bought, or mash one peeled avocado with some salt, chopped cilantro, and lime juice to taste)

Directions
In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine tequila, juice of one lime, seasoning mix, olive oil, ¼ cup cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add pork, and marinate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Peel and chop the mango and put the chunks in a small bowl. Put cheese in a small bowl, followed by cabbage in another bowl and guacamole after that. Also have some chopped cilantro and small lime wedges at the table. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high and grill a few corn tortillas at a time for about 30 seconds per side or until a couple of small char marks are made and tortillas are warm but still pliable. Set aside and then add pork to grill. Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side and then let rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes. Cut pork into small chunks and put in a bowl. For serving, place some pork on a corn tortilla, top with mango, cheese, cabbage, guacamole, and some cilantro and a squeeze of lime if you like. Makes 12 tacos, which you can divide according to how many hungry people you’re serving. This recipe goes great with a Corona or two (ore more).

Wasabi Cole Slaw
This is a kickass side dish that will open your sinuses. It goes well with any grilled meat, or on top of burgers, hot dogs or sandwiches.

Ingredients
½ head green cabbage, finely shredded (or 1 bag cole slaw mix)
½ cup regular or light mayo
½ cup wasabi mayo
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
½ Tbsp. fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
½ Tbsp. honey
Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste

Directions
Combine all ingredients except cabbage in a large bowl until well blended. Add cabbage and toss to coat. Serve immediately or let blend flavors in fridge for an hour or two. Serves 6-8.

Product review: Ruffles molten hot wings

Chef JimIt’s amazing how many products there are now with Buffalo wing flavor. Not only have we become a nation transfixed on Buffalo chicken wings, but we just love that addictive spicy red pepper flavor. Many of us, myself included, could survive on a diet of beer and wings, or anything and Buffalo wing sauce.

The latest such product is Ruffles potato chips–Molten Hot Wings flavor. I love Ruffles and I’m not saying that so that they will ship me free product (though I wouldn’t turn it away). But this new flavor is just amazing. It’s not wimpy on the Buffalo wing flavor–in fact, it’s called “molten” because they are about a 7 out of 10 on the heat scale–at least the heat scale for the average person who likes spicy food. And the good thing is they are not too spicy so that they will overpower your sandwich, but maybe spicy enough so that you don’t have to share with your significant other who may not like spicy fare.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of either chips or wings, you HAVE to check these chips out…and be sure to let me know what you think!

Pasta salads dudes can appreciate

Think of pasta salad, and it tends to be something women bring to book club. At least that’s what many guys think when they hear those two words. But I posted something on Grub for Guys last year that is intended to let guys open their minds a bit–pasta salad for dudes. Give these a shot at your next cookout, guys, and let me know how they go over…..

Summer is here and that means we typically shy away from hot soup, stew, or anything heavy. We tend to favor grilled meats, salads, and well, beer. But if you had a fear of pasta salad because it was too girly, I’m here to tell you not to fear—because I’ve created three dude-friendly cold pasta dishes that will put hair on your chest and pleasure in your belly. I give to you, antipasto pasta, Buffalo chicken pasta, and cold sesame noodles. Each recipe is good for 2-3 servings, but you can multiply that out if you need to.

Antipasto Pasta
Good Italian restaurants serve antipasto as a salad and that usually means salami and other meats, cheeses like provolone, olives, tomatoes and artichokes — or some variation on that. Here I took that concept to the pasta salad level, including a generous amount of heart-healthy olive oil.

Ingredients
½ lb. Bow tie pasta
1 large red bell pepper (or 1 large roasted red pepper, diced)
½ cup cubed provolone cheese
1/3 cup diced hard salami (5-6 thick slices)
1/4 cup diced deli ham (any Italian lunch meat works too)
¼ cup diced roasted turkey
¼ cup sliced black olives
¼ cup sliced green olives
1/3 cup chick peas
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ cup prepared pesto sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions, but on the lower end of the time (i.e. if it says 9-11 minutes, go with 9). Drain pasta and set aside. Trim end off red pepper, slice in half and grill for 5-6 minutes or until slightly charred. Cut into chunks (or use a jarred red pepper to save time). Combine cooked pasta, red pepper, cheese, salami, ham, turkey, olives and chick peas in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until combined. Toss with pasta and serve.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta
I love chicken wings, but I’ve come to realize that it’s not just the fried goodness that makes wings such a god-like food. It’s the sauce. Admit it, you could drink a few shots of the stuff, couldn’t you? Well, I’ve made Buffalo chicken pizza, and now I have come up with Buffalo chicken pasta. You can thank me later.

Ingredients
4-5 chicken tenders
½ cup prepared buffalo wing sauce (a good thick one), plus 2-4 Tbsp.
½. Lbs. Penne pasta (or any kind you have)
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
2 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

Directions
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat in a grill pan or on a real grill, about 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Chop into pieces and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of wing sauce. Cook pasta according to package directions, but on the low end of the time, and drain. Add another 1-2 Tbsp. wing sauce to chicken. Combine chicken, pasta, and celery in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Toss with pasta and serve.

Cold Sesame Noodles
I fell in love with cold sesame noodles as a kid growing up on Long Island, where there are amazing Chinese restaurants. One restaurant made this dish to perfection, and I have done my best to re-create it. If you like peanut butter, you will love this recipe.

Ingredients
½ lb. buckwheat soba noodles or spaghetti
½ cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tsp. Sesame oil
1 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
2 tsp. Lime juice
1 tsp minced ginger
Water as needed
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
Red pepper flakes
Sesame seeds

Directions
In a large serving bowl, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, lime juice and ginger. Mix well, then gradually add water, 1 tbsp. at a time until sauce is smooth and creamy and losing some of its thickness. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and add to sauce along with cucumber and green pepper. Stir to combine, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and sesame seeds, and serve.

VOGA wine is awesome

Chef JimWhen sampling wine from italy, you wouldn’t exactly expect it to not be awesome. But VOGA wine has exceeded expectations. They sent us two bottles to try–the merlot and the moscato.

The Merlot is not too dry and not bitter like some merlots are, but had a pleasant, smooth taste, sort of like a Chianti but with more of a kick. And just like most bold reds like this, it goes great with Wisconsin cheddar cheese, something I’ve become a bit of a snob about.

The Moscato was not something I typically drink. It is white, but has some fizz. It’s not an obnoxious fizz like champagne, but more of a subtle carbonation, more akin to what might happen if you added seltzer to wine, like my parents used to do. Anyway, it also has a real mild flavor, almost like they just squeezed grapes right into the bottle. On ice, I could probably down the whole bottle on a hot day, it was that good.

One of the best parts about VOGA wine, though, is the bottle. There is a cork, yes, but on top of that is a screw top. So after you remove the screw top and cork, you then replace the screw top to keep it fresh. Freaking brilliant.

Anyway, I’m anxious to try the other flavors. Other VOGA varieties are Pinot Grigio and Quattro, as well as two other sparkling ones. Give it a try if you see it, even if you’re a wine snob.

For more information, visit www.vogawine.com

Pasta with creamy red pepper sauce

Chef JimThe weather can’t make up its mind this time of year–you have warm days that make you think of grilling and big salads. You then have days like today in Wisconsin, where it is snowing and raining, in which I had a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for lunch. But if you, like me, still have about, oh, 20 or more holiday pounds to shed, here is a recipe I created a few years back for a healthy pasta with red pepper sauce. Give it a try and let me know what you think….

WHOLE WHEAT LINGUINI WITH CREAMY RED PEPPER SAUCE

Ingredients
1 package Rossi Whole Wheat Linguini
1 tbsp. Olive oil
3 large red bell peppers, halved and seeded
3 tbsp chicken broth
½ tsp. Minced garlic
¼ cup fat free half & half
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
On a preheated grill rack, grill pepper halves on high heat. Grill for 10-12 minutes or until peppers begin to char, turning occasionally. Set aside to let cool.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, drizzle with olive oil to keep from sticking and set aside.

Place grilled peppers in a food processor along with chicken broth, garlic, salt and pepper. Puree or pulse until just smooth and pour mixture into a large saucepan. Warm over medium heat, slowly adding half and half until smooth. Add pasta to sauce and heat through. Makes 8 servings.

Creamy pasta with grilled asparagus, black olives & mushrooms

This one is in honor of the Farmer’s Market opening tomorrow in Madison. It does run year-round but is outdoors from mid-April until late October. And it’s freaking awesome. One vegetable that will be sold since we’re in the throes of spring is asparagus. Yes, it makes your pee smell funny, but if you grill it and season with just a bit of salt and pepper, asparagus is one of the tastiest vegetables there is. And it’s very much in season across the country now. So here is a recipe I created to take advantage of in-season asparagus…enjoy!

Don’t believe everything you read about pasta being bad for you. Sure, the whole-wheat varieties are better for you, because they have more fiber and vitamins. But if you keep your portions reasonable, and add good stuff (i.e. vegetables) like in this recipe, there are far worse things you can eat. We like the kind of pasta that holds sauce for this dish, like a bow tie or the one we used, Barilla* Piccolini (mini fusilli). This is a great, hearty dish that you can either serve to a bunch of hungry guys or to your lady to impress her. Be sure to pair it with a good white wine and some crusty bread for bonus points.

Ingredients:
1 16 oz. package pasta (we used Barilla Piccolini)
½ bunch asparagus
2 tbsp. Olive oil, divided
4 oz. Sliced mushrooms
½ cup sliced black olives
4 tbsp. Light butter or margarine
¾ cup fat free half and half
2 Laughing Cow cheese wedges
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil to keep from sticking and set aside.

Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp olive oil on asparagus and grill on a preheated grill rack for 3-4 minutes, or until spears begin to lightly char. Cut into 2 inch pieces and set aside.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and sauté mushrooms over medium heat until they begin to soften and lose their water, about 4 minutes. Drain and add the mushrooms and black olives to the asparagus pieces.

Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet and return to stovetop. Melt butter over medium heat. Add half and half and cheese wedges. Stir constantly, breaking up the cheese with a wooden spoon. When mixture is melted, add Parmesan cheese and stir until just melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta and vegetable mixture to sauce and combine. Heat through and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

* If you’re not familiar with Barilla pasta, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. This is not a paid advertisement, but a true testimonial from someone who has been eating only Barilla pasta for the last few years. The regular pasta cooks nicely—even if you overcook it by a few minutes it’s never too soft or mushy. And the Whole Grain or Plus varieties are not grainy at all—rather, they are just slightly heartier than their regular pasta. It’s probably the best store brand you can eat short of homemade pasta.

Next Food Network Star premieres June 5

Sure proof that the years are whizzing by–Food Network’s hit reality show, Food Network Star, will premiere its 7th season on Sunday, June 5. This season, they have expanded the field to 15 contestants, and promoted Giada di Laurentiis to judge alongside long-time judge and fellow Food Network personality Bobby Flay, and network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson. There will also be appearances by Alton Brown, Cougar Town star Courteney Cox, Paula Deen Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, Wolfgang Puck and more.

The finalists include: Mary Beth Albright (Washington, D.C.), Justin Balmes (Marietta, Ga.), Whitney Chen (New York), Katy Clark (Long Beach, Calif.), Penny Davidi (Los Angeles), Justin Davis (Minneapolis), Howie Drummond (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Jyll Everman (Glendora, Calif.), Susie Jimenez (Carbondale, Colo.), Juba Kali (New Orleans), Jeff Mauro (Elmwood Park, Ill.), Vic “Vegas” Moea (Las Vegas), Chris Nirschel (Hoboken, N.J.), Orchid Paulmeier (Bluffton, S.C.), and Alicia Sanchez (New York).

For more information about the show including contestant photos and bios, please visit http://www.multivu.com/players/English/46437-Food-Network-Star/ or go to www.foodnetwork.com/star

Quick and easy grilling

Okay, so it’s 82 degrees here in Wisconsin on April 10. Of course, it’s not going to stay that way for long, and a cold front is about to collide with the warm air and created strong storms. Yikes. It’s a windy 82, but then again, true warm weather is not far away, and that means it’ll be time to fire up the grill. Here are some quick and easy grilling recipes I posted on Grub For Guys a few years back…..enjoy!

Are you tired of grilling steaks (okay maybe that’s a stretch), burgers and hot dogs? Well, here are a few items good for summer grilling that you may or may not have experimented with before. As always, a Corona or two or three is always good for your left hand while your right hand flips the food. Each recipe serves four, or two really hungry guys.

*Note: A lot of my published recipes don’t exactly fall into the realm of health food, but most commercial marinades are loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. And when you can make your own from scratch as easily as this, then why not do it?

Tasty Chicken Skewers
Ingredients
4 chicken breast halves, cut into one-inch chunks
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a large zip-lock bag and add chicken. Marinate in refrigerator for one hour. Divide chicken chunks between four skewers. Grill over medium-high heat until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Oriental Pork Chops
Ingredients
4 medium bone-in pork chops
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. minced ginger (from the jar is fine)
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Directions
Combine all marinade ingredients (everything but chops) in a large zip-lock bag and shake to combine. Add chops, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Grill over medium-high heat for about four minutes per side or until pork is no longer pink in the center.

Grilled Shrimp
Ingredients
20 raw shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
cooking spray
Cajun seasoning
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne pepper

Directions
After cleaning shrimp, divide them between four skewers and spray lightly with cooking spray. Then sprinkle spices on both sides. Grill over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until the shrimp are opaque white in color.

Sides
If you really want to get to know your grill, try cooking vegetables or even fruit. Good and easy vegetable choices are thickly sliced zucchini, potatoes, or bell pepper. For fruit, try grilling banana halves (while still in the skin) or peach halves. Be sure to spray any of those modestly and remember that cooking times for these items are generally much quicker than for meats.

What’s the grossest thing you would eat?

I’ve noticed that on lots of food-oriented TV shows lately, hosts and contestants and just regular people are eating foods that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

Remember “Fear Factor?” They would make people eat bugs, but now it seems like bugs are exotic cuisine. In Asia, they eat bugs like it’s nothing. Yum, bugs in your ice cream? Oh yeah, that’s good! Yikes.
Anyway, on Food Network’s “Chefs vs. City,” one of the obstacle course stations was to eat bugs at some place in New Orleans that specializes in bug cuisine. Really? And I mean they were eating grasshoppers, ants, and other disgusting creatures.

Then they make the chefs on “Chopped” make creations with stuff like chocolate covered grasshoppers, and the one I saw recently–canned haggis. So we’re talking tripe and other organ meats mixed with oatmeal. Oh, and they did rabbit kidneys the other night. Really, does anyone really eat this crap?

On Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain has partook in some pretty disgusting things, like when in Italy they break open a lamb’s stomach and dip bread in the blood that spews out. EWWWWWWWW. Are you serious?

Then, speaking of Travel Channel, there is Andrew Zimmern. Okay, his show is called “Bizarre Foods,” and while I would eat about 5 percent of what he eats on the show, I recently got hooked on the show a bit and was even DVR-ing episodes of it. But then he did it. The dude was in Viet Nam or Thailand, and he ate at a place that served….are you ready? You might want to look away……he ate bull penis and testicles. Yes, Andrew Z ate a schlong and balls. I know they put weird shit in hot dogs, but i’m almost sure they never use the unit of an animal. But the worst part was, the dude ate it and liked it. And he has the, ahem, balls, to say he refuses to eat walnuts. Are you kidding me???

So I ask you…what is the grossest thing you would ever eat? I think I draw the line at hot dogs, seriously. Let me know and I’ll post this on Facebook too. Blah!

Product review: 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar

Let me preface this by saying that I didn’t ask for a sample of this from Mars, and that I’m not the type of person who eats candy bars all the time. I do like them, but I know I shouldn’t eat them every day. But the new 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar caught my eye in Walgreen’s recently. I ate it, and felt like I was going to float. I went to Walgreen’s again today and grabbed another one of these bars–which, by the way, comes two long and skinny bars to a package the way another favorite of mine, Twix, does.

And again I felt like I was floating. First of all, the 3 Musketeers brand in general is one of light, fluffy nougat which is wrapped in chocolate. It’s always been a lower calorie candy bar because it’s light and airy but still tastes great. The Truffle Crisp is something altogether amazing in a different way–the lighter nougat part is more of a crisp cookie, and on top of that is a fluffy and rich chocolate truffle layer, and the whole thing is covered in milk chocolate.

I’m not sure why exactly, but the way everything melds together in this bar is nothing short of remarkable. It’s delicious, and, judging by the fact that I went back and bought another one today, it’s also highly addictive.

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