Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Date Night or Any Night - This Is Perfect!

So, I came up with this really on the fly. I was at a loss for stuffing. I knew I had some great thick cut pork chops - I just didn't know what I wanted to stuff them with. I had fresh spinach - that was definitely on the list. A little thinking and chatting with some folks and I had it. Pan-seared, stuffed pork chops with spinach, leeks, and feta! The perfect accompaniment? A roasted green been and cherry tomato salad with a perfect home made red wine vinaigrette. Please people - don't buy the bottled stuff. You can make your own for a fraction of the cost and it tastes much better!

Oh - for a special treat - take a few leeks and season them with salt and pepper. Then coat them in cornstarch and deep fry them for about 45 seconds. It's a mini onion ring that goes great as a garnish (if they make it that far - I was snacking on them and they were really good).

Let's get cooking!

Pan Seared Stuffed Pork Chops with Spinach, Leeks, and Feta
4 thick cut pork chops
1 cup (about) leeks, rinsed, dried and chopped
2 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup of feta cheese
4 ounces (1/2 pack) of low fat cream cheese
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 table spoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup of flour

Simple! First preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Insert a pocket in the pork chops and liberally season with salt and pepper. Put to the side. In a sauté pan, coat the bottom with oil and sauté the leeks and spinach until wilted and soft. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool and in add to a bowl. Once cooled, add cream cheese, feta cheese, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper (be careful with the salt - feta cheese has a high sodium content). Mix well and stuff chops with mixture. Use toothpicks to close pork chops. Coat with flour and sear until golden brown on both sides. Don't worry about cooking the chops until their all the way done. Once golden brown, place in the oven to finish cooking - approximately 8-10 minutes.

Roasted Green Been and Cherry Tomato Salad
1 pound of fresh green beans, picked, cleaned, and washed
1 pound of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients above and place on a cookie sheet. Roast for approximately 12 minutes or until the green beans are tender and the tomatoes begin to release their juices. Let cool and toss with homemade red wine vinaigrette (recipe listed below)

Red Wine Vinaigrette
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup of really good olive oil
4 tablespoons of red wine vinaigrette
1 table spoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of fresh ground pepper
A good squeeze of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients above really well - that's it!

Prepping the beans and tomatoes

The red wine vinaigrette-please stop buying it and make your own!

Spinach, leek, and feta stuffing - see the red pepper flakes?

The stuffed chops...ready for coating and cooking!

The finished salad - ready for the dressing!

My plate - click on the pic to enlarge it!

Happy face plate - it was GOOD!

Surprise #1:


Um...I've been holding out. Okay, don't shoot me. But, great things have been happening on the homefront.

Check out - their home'll be pleasantly surprised in what you see.

Um, you can also click here.

Can I just say that I am so grateful right now. If you had asked me two weeks ago if I'd be walking in the shoes I have on today, I wouldn't think it even to be possible. But it is. Listen - if you have a dream - go for it.

"Dreaming is an creative!"


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lemon Chicken Pasta - An Everyday Cookin' Classic

This is an Everyday Cookin' Classic for sure.

It takes literally about 10 minutes to make. The hardest thing about this dish is waiting to eat it. The pasta cooking is really the longest part. The technique is easy too. It's all about creating layers of flavor. The pasta is seasoned. The oil has been infused with garlic, onion, and red chilli. The chicken has been slightly charred. A fresh dousing of lemon juice and you're ready to rock and roll.

2 cooked chicken breasts, cut and cubed (if they're not cooked, you can cook them in the saute in Step1 below - this should add another 7 minutes to your cook time)
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1/4 lb of whole grain pasta
2 table spoons of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of minced onion or shallots
1/8 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
5 tablespoons of olive oil, separated
salt and pepper to taste
juice & zest of 1 lemon
Step 1 - Cook pasta - be sure to add salt

Step 2 - In 1 table spoon of olive oil, heat up cooked chicken - get a few char marks - they taste great

Step 3 - Throw everything else in (except for the lemon juice and zest) until it's all heated through and coming together nicely

Step 4 - Drain pasta and toss in sauce

Step 5 - Plate and top with fresh parmesean cheese

See - it's that simple. It's healthy. It's delicious. And it was soooo quick that I'm making it again tonight.

Just a few simple ingredients

The sauce...nothing but infused oil.

The finished plate

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The BLT Grows Up

That's right. The BLT has grown up. This is a classic sandwich that gets a rather unique upgrade. What's in the upgrade? How about a ciabatta roll toasted in butter, chipotle mayo, honey glazed bacon, muenster cheese, Cajun fried green tomatoes, and Boston butter leaf lettuce?

Yup, it's all here and the process couldn't be simpler. I guess I was just tired of the plain ol' and with a bit of inspiration and imagination, this was my lunch for today! Honestly, it's so simple you don't even need a recipe. It's only four simple steps.

Oh - before we discuss steps - did you vote for me? I'm nominated for a 2008 Black Weblog Award for Best Food Blog. I wanna win - if I do you're invited to the party. Sooooo, go to and follow the steps to vote for me.

Okay, now onto the steps.

Step 1- Chpotle Mayo
This couldn't be simpler. Get some chipotle in adobo - they come in a small can and cost no more than a dollar. Chipotle is a smoked jalepeno. I like it because the heat is milder and the smokey taste comes out. Just take one or two of the chipotles and mince them. The adobo sauce is good - so spoon a bit into about a half cup of your favorite mayo (my favorite is whatever is on sale that week). Mix together and give the flavored mayo a pinch of salt and pepper. Keep it cold in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Step 2 - Honey Glazed Bacon
It's simple - really, it is. Lay strips of bacon on a sheet tray and put them in a pre-heated oven set at 425 degrees. Keep an eye out for the bacon. When it has about 5 minutes left to cook glaze with honey. To loosen the honey heat it through in a small sauce pan on medium heat or in a bowl in the microwave just until it's loose enough to brush on the bacon. Brush the honey on the bacon for a nice glaze and put it back in the oven to finish cooking.

Step 3 - Cajun Fried Green Tomatoes
Slice a green tomato. I like mine a bit on the thin side, but it's your preference. Season liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and your favorite cajun seasoning. Coat in a mixture of cornmeal and cornstarch and pan fry on both sides until golden brown.

Step 4 - Toasted Ciabatta Rolls
Split the rolls in half and spread butter evenly on both pieces of bread. Toast in a pan on top of the stove over medium high heat until nice and golden. The method is the same as you'd do a grilled cheese sandwich - just with no cheese. Only grill the cut side.

Just assemble the sandwich. I spread the chipotle mayo on both pieces of the toasted ciabatta roll. I put a slice of muenster cheese on the bottom half, a few slices of honey glazed bacon, two slices of fried green tomatoes, a leaf or two of Boston butter leaf lettuce, and the top half of the roll that also gets a layer of chipotle mayo. Eat..and enjoy. This makes for one great sandwich.

I hope you try this out - you'll love the flavor combinations!

PS - enjoy the pics below!

The layered bacon - yum!

A green tomato...before it gets cut!

The seasoned tomatoes - looking good!

Coated and ready for frying!

Melting the honey for the glaze - I love that brush.

Getting ready to glaze the bacon.

Frying the tomatoes

Isn't the world

The ciabatta rolls...freshly sliced.

Freshly fried tomatoes and honey glazed bacon...along with my tester tomato - lol.

Chopping chipotles in adobo.

Plain mayo, meet chipotle. Chipotle, meet plain mayo.

They met - lol...and they mix well.

A really great pic of the lettuce - enlarge this one!

The finished sandwich

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Can Ya Vote...Pretty Please?

So, it seems I've been nominated for my first ever Black Weblog Award for my food blog - Everyday Cookin!

Please, please, and please some more...go here -

Or click HERE

You have until August 31st!

And I totally think you should vote for me. If I win, I think I should have a party and invite all of you to eat, eat, eat...and eat some more!


PS: I'm going to bug the hell outta yall to vote for me!

You know what's so cool about this whole thing? It's that I never even created the food blog for any pomp or circumstance. I'm just a dude that likes food and likes to cool. I'm so honored and humbled that people like my cooking and my food enough to nominate me. For real, this is bringing tears to my eyes. Thanks all...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here's A Thought: Fish Tacos

So, every since Sunny Anderson made fish tacos on her show, I've been thinking of ways to create a recipe. I did!

I thought about it for a week or so, I had to determine fish, salty, creamy, savory, cheesy, and all the other elements that would make for killer fish tacos. Let me tell you - a brotha succeeded.

I went to the grocery and picked up some farm raised tilapia. It's a sturdy fish and not a fishy taste - it would go great w/all the other flavor combos. I know I needed cheese - I mean, you can't have a taco without cheese, right? I couldn't decide though so at the last minute I picked up some smoked munster. I already had the savory down packed - a righteous balsamic pico de gallo with serrano chilies. I needed creamy. An adobo chipotle sour cream would do the trick.

I floured and corn starched the fish after I cut it up and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and taco seasoning. I fried them up until they were nice and crispy. Mean while I chopped plum tomatoes, cilantro, onions, serranos, and garlic. I tossed the pico de gallo with salt, pepper, a touch of oil, a good tablespoon of balsamic, a touch of sugar, and a few good heaping squeezes of lime. I started on the adobo chipotle sour cream. Simple stuff. I seeded two canned chipotles in adobo and diced them up. I used a table spoon of the adobo, salt, pepper, and the diced peppers to mix into about a half cup of sour cream. That's it.

I fried up a few tortillas and put the cheese on the get bubbly and melt up. I topped it with two pieces of fish, the pico de gallo, the adobo chipotle sour cream, cilantro, and a few squeezes of lime. Thanks to Lori Lynn, I made my famous lime drink now known as a Tequila Lime Cooler and I was all set. This is perfect for everyday cooking because it took less than 20 minutes from start to finish!

Enjoy the pics!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thanks Giada...and some Weekend Pics

Did you see Giada this past weekend? I typically don't DVR her, but I find myself pausing live TV when I'm at home and I run through all the shows on the Food Network. do know who Giada is, right? If you don't, then you sir/ma'am are no foodie - lol.

Anyway, her show was all about basic things you should keep in your pantry for quick and really great meals. She made this one dish that had shrimp, pasta, olive oil, garlic, and lemon. I had everything except for the lemon. BUT, I did have plenty of limes. Why plenty of limes? Well, because I shop at a joint that's primarily Latino - they have the absolute best deals on produce EVER! They even had zucchini blossoms and honey crisp apples...hello, is that deal or what? Anyway, they typically have limes that are ten cents each. Can't beat that!

Well, I came home from the gym and whipped this together. It's so simple there isn't even a recipe. While the pasta is cooking, saute shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. This makes a great flavor foundation. Throw in the shrimp and season well with salt and pepper. By the time the pasta is just about done I threw in some broccoli to blanch. I tossed it all together in the seasoned oil and finished it with a drizzle of two limes and grated lime zest. That's it...that's all there is to it!

I dare you give it a try. This is perfect for Everyday Cookin!


PS, check my other blog for other pics of this past weekend. I cooked a down home Sunday meal and had a few friend over to enjoy it!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Saturday's Lunch: Shrimp w/Spinach Pesto

So, if you haven't read by now, I'm on a rather interesting health kick. Check out my other blog ( to follow how it goes. I typically get inspiration from so many places for a dish or for a meal. I'm not sure where this one came from though. I knew I had shrimp in the freezer (remember, a key rule of everyday cookin' is to buy what's on sale - shrimp were on sale). That rule is key too, because you'll see me do three of four shrimp dishes in a row and then switch to chicken, or pork, or turkey - well, it's because I've bought what was only on sale - lol. Hey, it works for me!

Well, I knew I wanted to do some pesto - but I had to figure out how to make it figure friendly. I can't be trying to shed pounds with tons of oil and cheese, right? So, here's what I did. I used fresh spinach, sliced almonds that I toasted, a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper for the pesto. You say wait - I'm missing two key ingredients, right? I'm missing more oil because surely that much spinach won't survive the best of food processors and I'm missing cheese. Well, instead of using more oil - I used low sodium chicken stock and I didn't add the cheese in, but rather on top. I tossed this w/some sauteed shrimp and a sauce of tomatoes, basil, onions, and garlic - and boy was it good.

The Ingredients for the Pesto
Almonds - way better than walnuts!
A garlic clove
Two tablespoons of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup of chicken stock

Toast the almonds first in a dry pan. When they're done add to the food processor along with some spinach, half the oil, and the garlic clove. Pulse until a paste forms. Add in the rest of the spinach, the salt and pepper, and the last of the olive oil. Pulse again until a thick paste forms. To thin out - add chicken stock at about two tablespoons at a time until the right consistency forms. Put that to the side.

In a saute pan add a tablespoon of olive oil. When it starts to waft a bit, add in a few cloves of chopped garlic, half a minced onion, and two plum tomatoes. A sauce will start to form - when that happens add in some basil (the dried stuff would work here too) to taste and throw in the shrimp. When shrimp are almost done add in the pesto and let it come to a bit of a boil. If the mixture is too thick, add in a bit of the reserved chicken stock. Taste at this point for seasoning - if needed add more basil, salt, or pepper.

Toss this with whole grain pasta - any type will work, I used penne rigate because it holds onto the sauce better. Top this with shaved Parmesan and enjoy. I know I did...and the sauce was soo good I'm thinking about roasting potatoes and maybe using this as a dipping sauce. Maybe even roasted chicken and instead of gravy using this. Ohhh, maybe a turkey panini - and using this sauce as the condiment - who knows, but I found myself enjoying the sauce waaaay too much! The almonds also do something to this dish that's super good!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm So FAT!!!

So, the trip is over...thanks be to the Almighty God. I mean, the trip wasn't THAT bad, but it could have been a lot better. Of course I'm fat. Yes, that's right - I actually went out of town planning on eating my way to the south and back...and boy did I eat.

We left bright and early, like 5 AM. I timed this perfectly because I knew I wanted to get to Lambert's (the place where they throw the rolls to you) by the time they opened. I think we stopped just once and I made it there in record time. In tow was my little brother, little sister, and little cousin. Yes, I was left to do all the driving - ain't that a fool?

We get to Lambert's and I just knew it was gonna be good. This dude asked me if I had been there before. I replied letting him know that it had been a long while. He told me that things hadn't changed - they were still the same. Sshhhheeeeiiiittt! You could've fooled me. Now granted, the rolls were throwed. And yes, they were the same delicious little carb packed deliciousness that I so remember from my youth - but that was about it. The food was horrible. The potatoes and onion were killer - but other than that - a huge let down. Except though for this woman - I forget her name, but she was the most darling waitress I've ever had, at first. She came to the table telling all of us God bless us this and that - that's cute right? I mean who can't use a little more God in their life? I'm all about a saved waitress. But then she kept trying to hook me up w/her 40-something year old sister. She told me I'd be a perfect match for her sister and that our kids would look nice. Even after I told her that I live in Chicago - she was sure her sister (who's like my mother's age) would be perfect for me. I'm falling out laughing inside at this. I'm thinking, "is this REALLY happening?" It did. I attract the darnest people.

***Let me insert this here. I had a chance to meet a fellow blogger, Complaint Department Manager. Can I just say that the man is a HOTTIE. I've never dated a white guy - but if he said he wanted to try a little something, he could TOTALLY get it. Yea, he was that hot.***

After we'd left there - it was 2 hours until we were to make it to the hotel in Southaven, Mississippi. I think I did it in about an hour and a half. We said our hellos the the family that was there and we made our way to the hotel. I soooo like seeing eateries that I'd never seen before. Such was the case. Brusters. What is that I wondered - the sign said it was real ice cream. Oh boy was it! I tasted three flavors before they told me the special was key lime pie ice cream. And we all KNOW HOW MUCH I love key lime pie, right? So - I ordered a scoop and between the flavor of the ice cream and the buttery-ness (I made it up) of the crust that was strategically placed damn, it was a party in my mouth. I was happy! I was so happy I took a picture of both the ice cream and me in front of the sign. I started to do the happy dance, but opted against it.

After we rested a bit, we ended up on Beale street in Memphis at BB King's joint. It was good solid food. I had catfish. Can't come to Memphis and not have catfish, right? Again, it was good - solid food.

You also can't come to Memphis and not have BBQ. Which I stumbled upon based on my extrovert personality. On the way to see my family Friday, I saw a sign that looked vaguely familiar. It was the Chik-fil-a my best Thelma Harper voice, "hot damn!" I lucked up. I actually got out of the car Saturday morning so I could go inside because I really wanted the full experience. I ended up with a chicken biscuit sandwich with cheese, bacon, and yes - grape jelly. I also had some good southern sweet tea. Listen, Mcdonald's has nothing on this joint. This is the original chicken biscuit and will always be!

So, I was talking to Connie, my order taker, about places for lunch. I mean, come on, that's what I do. I talk to people. How else do you know where to go? I told her that the word was that Corky's was the best BBQ in the area. The straw restocker lady (definition: lady who restocks straws) Leanne came over and told me she hated Corky's. I asked where to go and in better unison that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, they sang Interstate BBQ. My mind rolls cuz the name sounds soooo familiar. HELLO - that's the joint that the Neely's are involved in from the Food Network. BINGO - that's where I was going.

So, after my afternoon nap (eating all day wears a brotha out), I ended up getting directions to Interstate BBQ. Listen: never trust a BBQ joint that doesn't have a cloud of smoke above and around the building. I should have ran at this do know warning comes before destruction, right? Anyway, I decided to give it a chance. It was horrible. I mean, absolutely horrible. They have this thing called BBQ spaghetti - it's spaghetti, pulled pork, and BBQ sauce...hell to the no no. It was a mess. I mean I couldn't even eat the food. You'll see before and after pictures below - the food was virtually untouched. Even the sweet tea wasn't good. How can sweet tea at a southern BBQ joint not be good, it wasn't. I hope Jim, Pat, or Gina Neely reads this blog - they need to hit me up. This was the worst BBQ I've ever had - I just don't understand how People Mag could name this #2 in the country. How is that possible? I'm fat - I know good BBQ, this folks - well, it wasn't good BBQ.

After lunch (and another nap), we went to the wedding. The colors say it all - cream and tangerine! Good and C-O-U-N-T-R-Y. The food was good though. You can see the pictures and descriptions below.

No trip, and I do mean NO TRIP, to the south is complete without a stop to the Waffle House. Yup, I ended up there and talked to Vernon and our waitress Nina. See, I told you I'm a chatty one. People just like talking to me for some reason. I guess I have some gift. I had a great breakfast - that whipped omelette they do up is absolutely stupendous! And yes, I ordered sweet tea instead of orange juice. And as you can see below, they loved us soooo much that they gave us some sweet tea for the road. I mean, you gotta love the south, right?

I thought I was done eating...I wasn't. I ended up at Fogo de Chao in Chicago. It's a Brazilian steak house that is the mother of all of these types of joints. You get this little disc. One side is green, the other is red. If you want food you turn it to green. To stop the service you turn it to red. They bring you every type of meat you can imagine from pork, to sausage, to chicken, to meat wrapped in bacon, from rare, to medium, to medium-well, to well done...ahhh, it's a meat lover's paradise. I took pics of the AMAZING salad bar too. They had a two food round of aged parm/reggiano cheese. That thing retails for like $5,000.00. I made sure I ate about 15 bucks worth though - it was THAT good.

I must mention this...for the first time I had this pepper called pepperdew. It's some sweet and slightly spicy pepper that comes from Africa. OMG - this was soooo good. I had to ask the waiter to tell me what it was. He went to the chef and even found out where I could order some. Um, hello - I'm totally ordering some of these.

So, for the next two weeks I'm running 100 miles a day to make up for the gluttonous damage I've done this past weekend. I know...I'm so FAT! It's ridiculous...

Loosening my belt,