Month: August 2013

tasty tuesday: jerk pork cutlets, fresh corn polenta, roasted broccoli and carrots

Spanning the world on a single plate.

Spanning the world on a single plate.

And we are right back at you with a Tasty Tuesday that takes you all around the world with a little Jamaican, Mexican, and Indian/Mid East flavors. You gotta love it, right? The meal was a bit involved, taking over an hour to prep and cook, but it was certainly worth it. The fact that the meal involves working with multiple ears of fresh corn is where the time component comes in, as it had to be husked, cleaned, and hand grated to make the corn base for the polenta. But, fresh corn that is cooked in butter and its own “milk”? Very few things are better.

Let’s get down to business.

Jerk Pork Cutlets

Let’s start in Jamaica with a homemade jerk seasoning paste. There are any number of ways to skin this cat, as it were, but the necessary elements are Jamaican allspice and hot peppers. You can make it a rub or a paste, but I think the paste provides a more even flavor and better overall experience.

1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
2 Habanero Peppers, seeded
1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded
1 1/2 Tbls Jamaican Allspice, ground
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp cayenne pepper, ground
Dashes of cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme

Place all ingredients in blender and add canola oil to emulsify. Blend until well mixed and spices are fully integrated. Pour over boneless pork chops to marinate, about 30 minutes.

After marination, heat a frying pan and melt 3 tbls butter. Scrape the paste from the chops and add the jerk paste to the pan. Cut the porkchops into cutlets, on a diagonal, and add to the pan. Cook about 4 minutes per side and reduce heat.

Polenta (Slightly altered Martha Stewart recipe, yeah).

12 ears corn, husked, cleaned
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1 tomato, chopped
5-6 basil leaves
1 1/2 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by pulsing the onion and garlic together in a food processor until fine. Heat the oil and  butter until melted and add the onions and garlic. At this point, begin grating the corn with the fine side of a box grater into a large bowl. After the onions and garlic are sweating, add the tomato. Finish grating the corn, making sure to get all the kernals and milk. Add to the pot with the basil and milk. Stir occasionally while for about 30 minutes on medium low. Simmer until ready to serve.

Roasted Broccoli and Carrots with Curry

This one is simple.

Olive oil to cover
Curry Powder to lightly coat

Coat the veggies with the oil and spices, cook at 450 for about 25-30 minutes until browned and soft.

Put it all together and you have a wonderful, bright meal that hits a lot of flavor points. A great end of Summer/Early fall meal.


lunchbox life: eggplant lasagna


Oops–it’s Tuesday and I’m just now blogging my lunches.  Better late than never, I suppose!

If you’re a primal/paleo/caveperson/lowcarb/trendy eater, you will certainly appreciate this dish.  I made a pretty basic lasagna here, but I changed two things: ground turkey instead of ground beef (I do this already) and eggplant slices instead of lasagna noodles.

“BUT NO!,”  You say.  “Noodles are the best part!,” you implore.  I know, I know, but here’s the deal–if I ate a pasta dish every day at lunch this week, I’d be totally snoozing during my afternoon classes.  Another thing is this: I LOVE eggplant and my dearest and darling-est husband definitely does not.  Not even eggplant parmesan.  Needless to say, when I can make it for myself, I’m ready and willing!

The only real trick here is the eggplant itself.  Select an eggplant that is tall and narrow, cut off the purple skin, and slice it lengthwise about the thickness of a cooked lasagna noodle.

Eggplant Lasagna

1 eggplant, sliced thinly lengthwise

1 lb. ground turkey

1 onion, halved and sliced thinly

1 pkg. sliced white mushrooms

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 jar pasta sauce of your choice (I used Trader Joe’s Puttanesca)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. chopped herbs of your choice (I used rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano)

1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced about 1/8-inch thick

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions and a dash of salt.  Cook the onions for about 7 minutes or until translucent, then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.  Next, add the ground turkey and herbs and cook until the meat is done.

Select a 9×13 baking dish and pour about 1/4 of the pasta sauce into the dish.  Fill the bottom with a single layer of eggplant slices, then add about 1/3 of the turkey mixture, then about 1/3 of the sliced cheese.  Repeat twice more in the following order: sauce, eggplant, turkey, cheese.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese begins to brown and the dish begins to bubble.

Make sure you let the dish cool before you cut into portions.  This makes six generous servings that you can feel good about–lean protein and veggies with a part-skim cheese?  You can’t beat it!

wild card wednesday: smoked fried chicken, cucumber tomato blue cheese salad, grilled okra



So, we have to inform you of some changes here at the blog. Meatless Monday’s will be suspended for the school year due to Eleta’s training to teach gifted courses. She will not be home before 10 on Mondays, so to accommodate we will be doing Wild Card Wednesdays with a theme for each month. It can be anything, and since it was my turn, I chose the theme for what remains of August to be Top Chef (meals inspired by winning dishes on the best show on Bravo). I was inspired to choose this after watching a rerun this morning from the Seattle season when Josh won and Josie lost the fried chicken competition.

So, what I’ve prepared for you tonight is a smoked fried chicken, just like Josh made for the judges. Its dark meat chicken that was buttermilk brined and briefly smoked with pecan chips and battered in a flour bbq rub mix. It is served with a bright cucumber salad with local tomatoes and greens with a light cider vinaigrette, and grilled okra in olive oil and salt.

It was quite lovely, really.

Smoked Fried Chicken:

10 pieces of bone-in chicken (legs and thighs)
1 qt buttermilk
Salt, Pepper, Paprika for brine
Flour to cover
1/4 cup each garlic, paprika, salt
1/8 cup red pepper, cayenne, cumin
Canola Oil

If you are serving fried chicken, there has to be bones. It is a necessity for the dish. It should also be brined in buttermilk, which is simply pouring buttermilk over the pieces with spices and let it sit for as long as you can, up to a day.

When you are ready to cook, prepare your smoker to cook at around 200. Usually I would recommend apple or hickory for this job, but I was out. So, I improvised a broke a branch off our pecan tree and broke it into chips by hand. You’ll want to smoke the chicken 30 to 45 minutes to add the flavor, but not to cook the chicken too much. After smoking return the chicken to the buttermilk bath.

Shake the flour and spices in a brown paper bag and add the chicken pieces. Shake until the pieces are completely covered. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a cast iron pan. Once hot, add the pieces a few at a time and cook 9-11 minutes until golden brown. Drain on a paper town.



1 whole cucumber, sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp blue cheese crumbles.

Just mix it up and sit for at least 30 minutes. Mmmm. Use a mandoline for the cucumber for uniform slices and speed. Its fun.

Grilled okra

Okra, tops cut
Olive Oil to cover

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Place the okra to achieve as much coloration as possible without burning. Remove when it is just soft.

This is a simple dish that is so, so good. Its no wonder it won.

And speaking of winning, we have a little experience with that.

So proud.

So proud.

We were happy to participate and win at Taste of the Arts last Saturday with our pork crostinis. We will be sure to post the recipes later.


lunchbox life: miso grilled chicken and edamame salad


Lunches this week are going to be magnificent!

Have you had edamame?  If not, you should definitely give it a whirl.  The next time you’re at a sushi bar, check out the appetizer section of the menu, find it, order it, and enjoy.  These soybeans are not only tasty; they’re also high in fiber and protein, so you can feel good about what you’re eating.

The edamame salad is a confetti-like dish filled with different colors and textures.  The summer sweet corn and chopped red bell pepper add a nice crunch with subtle flavor.  The marinade for the miso grilled chicken is super yummy and the depth of flavor is really impressive for just a few ingredients.  Try it!

Miso Grilled Chicken and Edamame Salad

inspired by and adapted from Foodista

2 Tbsp. miso paste
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 lb. chicken breast

2 ears of sweet summer corn, kernels sliced off
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 cup shelled edamame
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 small red bell pepper, small dice
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. grated ginger
2 tsp. black sesame seeds

salt and pepper, to taste


Add all of the marinade ingredients except the chicken into a medium sized bowl.

Whisk well to combine.

Add chicken and mix to coat all surfaces. It’s okay to use your hands here. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinade for an hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the corn kernels with the tsp. of sesame oil, wrap in foil, and roast for about 5 minutes.

Add the corn and other salad ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl.

Mix well and let rest in the refrigerator.

I grilled the chicken breasts on a stove-top grill pan, but you could certainly use an outdoor grill if you have one.

tasty tuesday: chicken saltimbocca with country ham, succotash risotto, bacon garlic green beans

A well-balanced meal

A well-balanced meal

Whew. Tonight’s meal was rather involved. A solid hour and a half of on-my-feet cooking featuring a need to have five pans warming at one time (something I can’t do on our stove, so something had to give). But, it was rather worth it. After our week of Hugh, I decided to go with another of our favorite cooks, Virginia Willis and her book Bon Appetit, Y’all. Thumbing through the book I found a great recipe for chicken saltimbocca with country ham that looked too good to pass up.

Chicken Saltimbocca

Boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded thin
Leaves of fresh sage
Paprika, Ground Red Pepper, Red pepper flake to taste
Country Ham to cover
Flour (with pepper) to dredge
Canola oil for frying

Start by seasoning with chicken with the spices, but do not salt (you’re going to cover it with country ham, so…). Place the chicken in a plastic freezer bag to protect it while pounding thin with a meat tenderizing mallet. Pound until 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Place enough fresh sage leaves  on the top of the chicken to cover and then place the county ham, to cover on top of that and press and refrigerate. The best ham I was able to find was still somewhat thick, thinner would be better. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

When ready to cook the chicken, dredge in the peppered flour. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Cook the chicken, ham side first for about three minutes.

It will be delicious. Look to Willis’s book for more tips on how to liven up this dish, including a nice sauce.

Succotash Risotto
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup arborio rice
1 Shallot
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbls butter

2 ears corn
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic
Fresh rosemary and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbls butter
1 tbls canola oil

Of course, I had to go my own way at make a risotto to go with it.

I’ve talked about risotto in earlier blogs and the method is pretty straightforward. The only thing different here is I added a nice succotash to go in it.

Succotash, at its heart, is a dish made with corn and lima beans–the fresher the better. Since we are at the height of corn season in GA, that part wasn’t hard, but the limas had to be frozen. Sad

When cutting the corn, the easiest way to remove the kernels is with a large chef’s knife. Cut the corn flat on the cutting board and cut the one side straight down and turn to cut all sides. Once the kernels are removed, milk the cob by scraping the knife against down the cob lengthwise.

All the small things

All the small things

Begin cooking the beans by covering with water and heat over medium high heat to boil for about 15 minutes, drain. Add the butter and oil, to the pan and add the garlic, herbs, and spices. Stir in the corn and the beans and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add the tomato and stir before removing from heat.

Suffering Succotash!

Suffering Succotash!

Stir the succotash into the risotto (in which ever amount your desire) at the same stage as the parmesan cheese. It should be creamy, but have a nice bright summer flavor that will compliment the sage in the chicken saltimbocca.

Bacon Garlic Green Beans

3 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 pound green beans, tips snapped
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth.

Start by cooking the bacon over medium heat until the a sufficient amount of fat has rendered out. Add the onion and garlic and cooked until the onions sweat, about five minutes. Add the beans and saute for about three minutes before adding the broth. Once the broth boils, lower the heat to medium low, cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Need we say more?

Need we say more?

The beans will still be crunchy, but will have a nice savory flavor. They worked great with the risotto flavors.

All told, this was a wonderful meal, but it took some time and work. Definitely a great distraction after a long day and a good way to be sure to get a good night’s sleep.

Hope you enjoy!

lunchbox life: pork tenderloin with curry roasted sweet potatoes, onions, and cauliflower


This is definitely a fall dish, but alas, it’s mid-August.

I try to eat seasonally, but as much as I love summer tomatoes, avocados, berries, and basil, I feel like I’ve exhausted those options for the moment.  (Yes, I’ll be kicking myself in January for even thinking such a thing.)  So, inspired by a tiny hankering for sweet potatoes and my ongoing love for curry, this little number was created.

If you think you don’t like cauliflower, it’s because you’ve never roasted it.  This drab veggie transforms from that icky, untouched tree-like thing on the half-eaten veggie party platter to an earthy, flavorful morsel that you can’t stop eating.  It’s a terribly underrated vegetable, but with some high heat and spices, you’ll be singing its praises, too!

This is a pretty lazy and low-key dish, but the bigger ingredient here is time.  The veggies take time to roast and, depending on how you prepare the pork tenderloin, the pork will need to slow-roast in the crock pot.  This worked perfectly today for me, though–we’ve been running around doing a trial run for our Taste of the Arts entry on behalf of Historic Macon and getting ready to have a few friends over for the series premiere of Breaking Bad (Did you see it?  What EXACTLY did Walt mean when he said “tread lightly”?).

For the pork tenderloin, I was slightly limited.  The Kroger near our house only had pre-seasoned tenderloins.  To be fair, I really wanted a turkey breast tenderloin (made by Jennie-O and Honeysuckle White), but Kroger was out of those, too.  I bought a garlic and lemon pre-seasoned tenderloin and threw it in the crock pot on high heat (4 hours) with some chicken stock, dijon mustard, blueberry jam, ginger, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  I’d give you measurements, but I really don’t have them!  You can cook this any way you want, but for what it’s worth, I was just focused on having a flavorful lean protein.  You could certainly use chicken breast, but I get so tired of the same old boneless skinless chicken breast that I like to change it up every now and then.

Curry Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Onions, and Cauliflower

3 small sweet potatoes

2 small sweet Vidalia onions

1 large head of cauliflower

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Chop sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a large roasting pan.  Chop the cauliflower into similar sized pieces and add to the pan.  Next, chop the onions into thin, half-moon shapes and add them to the pan.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and spices.  Pour over the vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.  Roast for about an hour, stirring the veggies to prevent burning about twice during the hour.

tasty tuesday: pan-roasted duck breasts with blueberries, arugula, caramelized vidalias, and molasses vinaigrette + quick-fry okra and almonds


Hugh Acheson has now made two nights special in our kitchen.

Last night, Alex created something so delicious that I just handed him my plate and he knew that I demanded seconds.  Our favorite Top Chef retweeted Alex’s post from last night, and now our fanboy/girldom is at an all-time high.  Yes, we’re food nerds–but you knew that already, right?

Tonight’s two dishes come (with a few modifications) from Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South.  We’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but let it be known that this cookbook is certainly worth having.  The boiled peanut recipe, for instance, has revolutionized my idea of the tasty morsels we love to eat in the summer.

But, I digress.  Tonight’s meal was a lovely Tasty Tuesday, if I do say so myself.  If you want to create a fancy meal for company that’s not difficult at all but looks like you know what you’re doing, this should be your go-to.

My last post before my GHP departure was duck tacos with caramelized onions and fava beans.  I was super jazzed with the way they turned out, and I was equally happy that cooking duck was not the arduous task I thought it might be.  That said, I’ve gained some confidence in the area of cooking water fowl, and duck is oh-so-tasty.  If you like dark meat chicken (and if you don’t, we can’t be friends), you’ll love duck breast.

The okra dish takes no time at all to make and gives you the same salty, crunchy experience of fried okra with less grease and a more grown-up feel.  It’s a perfect summer side dish, and the texture makes it an excellent pairing for the indulgent duck breast, silky caramelized vidalias, and bright blueberries.

Pan-Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberries, Arugula, Caramelized Vidalias, and Molasses Vinaigrette

2 duck breasts, skin-on

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 Tbsp. canola oil

1/2 Vidalia onion peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 Tbsp. molasses

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 cups arugula

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Using 1/4 tsp. of the salt, season the duck breasts on both sides.  On the skin side, create a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife.  Heat a large pan to medium heat and add the oil.  Cook the duck breasts skin-side down for 8 minutes, then flip them cook for about 3 more minutes.  Using these times, the duck should be about medium rare.  This is the way we like it, but if you’re rare meat averse, I’d recommend cooking the second side for a few more minutes.  When you’ve cooked the duck to your desired temperature and color, remove the breasts and let them rest on a cutting board.

Don’t throw away that glorious duck fat, though–the fun is just beginning!  Add the sliced onions to the remaining oil in the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

During your wait for the onions, make the vinaigrette.  Grab a small bowl and whisk the molasses, mustard, and ginger together.  Next, slowly mix in the olive oil, cider vinegar, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

In a small bowl, combine the arugula and blueberries.  Pour about 3 Tbsp. of the vinaigrette over the greens, toss, and set aside.

Slice the duck breasts along the crosshatch marks you made earlier.


Top with the arugula and blueberries…


Then the onions and another drizzle of vinaigrette…


Then eat your way to happiness with some okra on the side.


Quick-Fry Okra and Almonds

1 lb. okra, stems trimmed and sliced lengthwise

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter

1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Heat the olive oil and butter in 12-inch pan on high heat. When the butter is melted, add the okra and cook for about three minutes.  Next, add the chopped almonds and salt, stir, and cook for about another minute.  Serve immediately.

meatless monday: “birdless nest” with crispy rice, braised collards with a garlic soy vinegar sauce, shiitake mushrooms, cashews, fried egg

So much flavor.

So much flavor.

So, I was in Athens on Saturday. I checked instagram and saw that Hugh was in town at Five and Ten. We didn’t get reservations and didn’t get to go, but my mind went back to a delicious brunch I enjoyed at ESS on the day after my birthday. His “Farm Egg” with a fried egg, crispy rice, greens, and pork belly. It was delicious and I thought I would pay homage to one of my favorite people to internet stalk.

Of course, I couldn’t do pork belly to flavor and add extra protein to the dish so I had to make some moves of my own. I took the the flavors of Asia with fantastic results.

I started this meal with cooking the rice, which this time was part brown basmati and part long grain white with a little quinoa. Cooking the normal way first (boiling water, adding the rice, bringing back to boil, simmering until the water is gone (about 15 minutes)) and then frying it in canola oil to make it crispy. After boiling, remove the rice from the pan and stir to allow it cool. Heat a pan with enough oil to cover the rice over medium heat. Add the rice in spoonfuls and even out. DO NOT STIR. Allow to fry until the popping slows. Remove from the oil and drain. It’s that easy!

While the rice is boiling, its time to cook your collards. You’ll need:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup water
Red Pepper Flake
Salt and Pepper

Clean the collards and pull until the pieces are about bite sized. Heat a pan with the olive oil and add the shallot and garlic until both have color. Add the collards and allow to saute until they wilt. Add the liquids and spices and stir. Allow the liquids to boil and cover for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At the 10 minute mark, your rice should be ready to rest and you can then get your mushrooms ready. Cut the shiitakes into strips and add directly into the collards and stir. Keep the braise going for a couple of minutes and then add 1/4 cup of cashews to the pan and stir. Keep simmering for five minutes.

While the rice is frying and the collards, shrooms, and cashews are simmering, fry your eggs. In a non-stick pan, melt 1 tbsp butter PER EGG over medium heat. Once the butter begins to bubble slowly crack the egg into the pan and let it set. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow to slowly cook through, covering shortly to lightly cook the top.

Assemble the dish with rice on the bottom, collard mix, and then the pretty egg.

Feel free to make the collards and mushrooms however you like, but the soy and vinegar really work well. Shiitakes are your best bet for that route because they will compliment the dish and complement the soy. Add meat if you must, but it doesn’t need it!

Happy Monday!


lunchbox life: copycat Fresh Market orzo salad with chicken


The red-topped containers are back to school!  After only two days with students, it’s crazy to think that I’m already back in the swing of things with school.  My feet hurt from standing in heels and my throat hurts from going through the syllabus and introducing my US History students to the spirit of Jamestown (cannibalism and all), but other than that, I’m almost back in the game.  Now that a full week approaches, it’s time to figure out what I’ll be furiously eating at 11:30 AM during my quick lunch break every day.

Everyone has their go-to side dish to make and take to parties.  Everyone also has their go-to side that they buy at the grocery store on the way to a party.  The Fresh Market’s orzo salad is so tasty, simple, and seems to show up at plenty of potlucks around Macon.  Because it’s served cold, I thought it would be a great lunch creation (or re-creation) on a bed of spinach with the addition of chicken for some protein for a main dish that I could think about from 1st through 4th period until my lovely lunchtime arrives. 

Copycat Fresh Market Orzo Salad with Chicken

6 oz. whole wheat orzo (or you could use the regular; I had WW on hand)

1 pkg. chicken breast tenderloins (about 10 oz.)

5 oz. reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

2 cups arugula

2 oz. pine nuts

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

Cook the chicken with your preferred preparation method.  I did a quick pan fry with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and two minced cloves of garlic.  Chop into bite-size pieces and set aside to cool.

In a pan or in the oven, toast the pine nuts for a few minutes for flavor and texture.

Boil the orzo for about nine minutes (or according to package directions).  Drain and rinse with cold water.  In a large mixing bowl, combine orzo, arugula, chicken, whole tomatoes, feta, and pine nuts. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the orzo salad and mix to combine.  Evenly distribute the salad over a bed of spinach in each container.