Friday, May 24, 2013

Korean Short Ribs

So, the Hubs and I were at the grocery store trying to find some short ribs for this awesome looking short rib chili nachos (which we WILL make eventually, have no fear.) Well, there were no traditional short ribs but the butcher offered up plate, aka flanken cut, short ribs instead. At first I thought we could use them in the same recipe, but the more I thought about it, I realized that this cut wouldn’t be that great in a long braise. So we decided to switch up our plans and make “Korean” short ribs. I found the recipe on a blog called Food People Want (true that.) I do hesitate to fully call these short ribs “Korean” because I’m pretty sure this isn’t an authentic Korean recipe, so I don’t want anyone to come after me for that. What it is, though, is absolutely delicious. And insanely easy. We marinated them overnight and grilled them for a few minutes, and then devoured them. The only complaint is that there weren’t more of them.

2 pounds flanken-style cut beef short ribs
1 cup apple juice
¼ cup soy sauce
½ small yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 to 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp rice vinegar
1-2 Tbsps brown sugar (to taste)

It’s pretty simple, just mix up the marinade ingredients and put them in a plastic baggie. I actually was super lazy and didn’t even cut up an onion or use real garlic. I just used about a teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder. In the future I’d do the real thing though. Momentary attack of laziness. Put your ribs in the baggie and marinate for one or two days. Then take them out of the marinade (toss the rest) and grill for just about 3 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other, depending on the thickness. Then devour! We were total animals and didn’t even use a knife. I think it tasted even better because I ate with my fingers. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cream Cheese Brownies

I've been getting a lot of slack lately at work. Not because of how I'm performing, or anything, but due to not bringing in any goodies lately. It's not that I don't want to, but I just haven't felt like baking. I think the warm weather has something to do with it. I mean who feels like turning on a hot oven on a 90 degree day? Personally, I would prefer firing up my ice cream maker and making some watermelon sorbet. Mmm. Alas, this weekend wasn't sunny and 90 degrees. Nope, try rainy and in the low 70s. Bleh. But, it worked out for my fellow co-workers, because I decided to try a new brownie recipe. I found this recipe in my handy Cook's Illustrated cookbook, and it was definitely yummy. The brownies turned out very moist and chocolatey (new word?). Plus, the cream cheese almost convinced you that you're eating a brownie cheesecake. Almost. I highly recommend this recipe, and if you bring it into work your co-workers will be most appreciative and complimentary! Promise!

Brownie Base:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 oz bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk

First pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Take out your 8x8 baking pan and place foil inside so the edges hang over the pan. This will make lifting the brownie out of the dish easier. Spray with cooking oil, and set aside. Take out a small bowl and add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk and set aside. Now, take out a medium sized sauce pan and fill half way with water. Bring to a simmer, and then place a medium sized bowl in the saucepan. Place the butter and chocolate in the bowl. Stir occasionally, so the butter and chocolate melt and come to a smooth consistency. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, and then add the sugar and vanilla. Then, whisk in the eggs one at a time. Continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Next, add the dry ingredients that you had set aside earlier, and whisk until just incorporated. For the cream cheese filling; beat the cream cheese in a small bowl with sugar, vanilla, and the egg yolk until just combined. Transfer half the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish. Then using a spatula add in half the cream cheese mixture. I just plopped about 3 spoonfuls into the brownie mixture. Then, add the remaining brownie batter and add the remaining cream cheese mixture. Then, use the tip of a knife and swirl the batter and cream cheese filling. Bake until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, and the toothpick inserted in center comes out with several moist crumbs attached. About 50 to 60 minutes. I believe mine took about 50 minutes to bake. Be sure to turn the brownie mixture half way thru baking to ensure it cooks evenly. Let brownies cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, remove the brownies from the pan using the edges of the foil. Let cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve.

Egg, Prosciutto and Gruyere Tartine

So, tartine… sounds all fancy, right? Well, don’t be afraid, it’s not that fancy. In fact, in this case, it’s really, really messy. Tartine is just a pretty way to say “open face sandwich.” This tartine was so pretty I had to try it when I saw the photo on the Simply Life blog. Plus I’ve been on the look out for some lighter dinner options, so this seemed perfect. And it actually turned out to be extremely flavorful and delicious. The Hubs definitely loved it. I have to admit that the prosciutto made it a bit too salty for me after a few bites, but that could just be a personal taste thing. I’m pretty sure cooking the prosciutto concentrated the saltiness a little as well since I’ve had plenty of prosciutto that wasn’t salty. Anyway, I think it’s worth a try. What’s really interesting is the layers of flavor. When you first bite into it you mostly get the egg and the lemony spinach flavor, but as you chew you start to taste prosciutto and finally the gruyere. This would make a great brunch meal, too!

2 thick slices of French, brioche or sourdough bread
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
2 tbs. + 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 cup spinach or arugula
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Sat and pepper
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
2 eggs
Pinch of red pepper flakes

I don’t think you really need to measure much for this recipe. Even for the spinach, just add a little oil, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper, then taste and adjust. I will say, we used ciabatta bread instead of the suggested breads, and although I love me some ciabatta, it wasn’t the right bread choice for this. You really need the bread to be manageable in a bite with all this stuff on top. Just think about that when you’re slicing your bread and don’t get it too thick.

Brush olive oil on both sides of the bread slices and put them on a baking sheet. Broil each side about one minute to toast them. Yes, I just gave you instructions on how to toast bread. I know.

Toss the spinach or arugula in a small bowl with the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to your liking. Remember that the prosciutto will bring a lot of salt to the table so you don’t need much here.

Cook your eggs sunny side up. The original recipe had an interesting method for making sure the whites get cooked all the way on top. They recommend covering the pan and cook for 4 minutes. I’ve never tried it, but my whites were a little runny this time so I may try it in the future. Let me know if you do.

Top the bread slices with thin slices of gruyere and prosciutto and broil for another one or two minutes to melt the cheese. When the cheese is melty, take them out of the oven, top it with spinach, and put your cooked egg on top of that. Season with (a little) salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. There you have it, a fancy, schmancy tartine! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

I contemplated whether or not to post this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I have to say going into making it; I was pretty excited. I love garlic, olive oil, and pasta. I mean it has to taste divine, right? Well, I don't know. It was decent, but I wasn't crazy about it. I'm wondering if it's because I didn't quite follow the recipe to the "T." Or, is it because I don't have the best tasting olive oil? I'm thinking it's a little of both. Part of the problem was my pasta took forever to cook. Maybe a case of watching water boil instead of walking away and coming back later? I think because it was taking too long to boil; the sauce dried up a bit. Plus, I didn't transfer the pasta to a warm bowl and then add the remaining ingredients. Instead I added the remaining ingredients directly to the skillet, and added the pasta to it as well. I think that maybe why it dried up so much. Anyway, give it a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy.


1 pound spaghetti
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp lemon juice
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

First, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tbsp of salt. Stir often. Cook until al dente and then reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp olive oil, two-thirds of garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large non-stick skillet over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic foams and is sticky and straw-colored, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp reserved cooking water. Transfer the drained pasta to a warm serving bowl. Then, add the garlic mixture, remaining 3 tbsp oil, and remaining reserved cooking water to pasta. Toss to combine. Season with salt to taste and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Iron Chef Grape: Sweet Potato Crostini with Goat Cheese and Grape Salsa

This little appetizer was the winner of Iron Chef Grape. Kim found this recipe on MyRecipes and decided to try it because it had really good reviews and there aren't a lot of ingredients to make it. It was the clear winner at Iron Chef. This little nugget of an appetizer has a lot of flavor and depth to it. The goat cheese gives it a nice tang while the grape adds a hint of sweetness. And, the sweet potato helps give it a nice crunch. It is a wonderful appetizer albeit a bit messy, so be sure you have some napkins handy if you serve. But, I guarantee it will be a huge hit at your next party. I mean it won Iron Chef, so you can't go wrong with it!

Ingredients: 20 large frozen waffle-cut sweet potato fries
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup quartered seedless red grapes
1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely diced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 (4-oz.) package crumbled goat cheese

First set your oven to 425 degrees. Bake your sweet potatoes according to the manufacturer's instructions. Mine needed to bake for about 25 minutes. I turned my sweet potatoes half way thru to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Next, take out a small bowl and add the red pepper jelly and lime juice. Stir in the grapes. Then, add the next 3 ingredients. I used chives as I couldn't find green onions at the grocery store (go figure). Take a sweet potato and add a teaspoon full of the grape salsa on top. Then, sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the salsa. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ginger Peanut Chicken Pasta

I was kind of wanting to go out to dinner tonight instead of making dinner. I asked my dad if he wanted to grab dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, and he was up for it. But, unfortunately, around 5:00 he said he wouldn't be able to make it due to having to work late. Fortunately, I had stuck chicken in the fridge to de-thaw earlier that morning. And, I came across this recipe earlier in the day that I thought sounded delicious. Boy, was I right! Sometimes, I think you can have a restaurant quality meal right in the comfort of your home. I really think this recipe is restaurant quality. It was very flavorful and even better it was super easy to make. Give it a try, and people will think you should try out for the next Top Chef on Bravo! Enjoy!

1 lb penne pasta
3 boneless chicken breasts (skinned and chopped)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 limes, juice of
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup chopped chives (optional)

First, take out a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the milk and the corn starch. Stir well. Then, add the remaining milk into the bowl. Stir. Next, take out a medium-sized skillet and add some olive oil. Then, sautee your chicken till it's cooked thru. I sprinkled some salt and pepper on both sides of my chicken while it was cooking. Once the chicken finishes cooking; remove from the skillet and set aside.  Add the milk mixture to the skillet and cook for one minute till it thickens and bubbles. Reduce the heat to low. Next, get out a small bowl and add the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, garlic cloves, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and then add this to the milk mixture. Then, add the chicken, cilantro, and chives (if using). Meanwhile, boil your pasta. Once the pasta is al dente pour into a strainer. Then, add the pasta to the sauce and mix well. Serve and enjoy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Arugula with Pine Nuts and Manchego Cheese

Recently, I visited my sister for dinner. She made Shrimp Scampi, but minus the pasta. Instead of the pasta we decided to have a salad and bread. I offered to bring the ingredients for the salad. She suggested that we make arugula with pine nuts and manchego cheese and a simple vinaigrette. I thought that sounded delicious, and I was right. The shrimp was wonderful, but I really enjoyed the salad. So much so that I decided to make this salad again at home. It's really simple and very delicious. Enjoy!

7 oz bag of baby arugula
2 oz block of Manchego Cheese (about 1/3 cup shredded)
1/4 cup Pine nuts
1/4 cup of good Olive oil
1 lemon
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Take out a large bowl, and add the arugula. Add the pine nuts. Add the cheese. Then, add the juice of one lemon. Drizzle the olive oil over the salad. Add the red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the salad to evenly coat the greens. Add more salt and pepper to taste. If necessary add a bit more olive oil or lemon juice. Enjoy.

Spicy Pineapple Glazed Drumsticks

This blog has been on quite the pineapple kick lately. Maybe because the weather is getting warmer and we all just want something a little tropical and summery sweet. These chicken drumsticks with a spicy pineapple glaze caught my eye on a blog called Juanita’s Cocina, because I am a sucker for something that pairs heat with sweet. And I love a sticky glaze besides. Although we had a few issues in the cooking of these drumsticks, they turned out really good, and all it will take is a few tweaks to iron out those wrinkles. They are definitely finger-licking good and should be served with a side of damp paper towels. I also think this glaze would be fantastic on wings or chicken thighs, yum!

8 chicken drumsticks
¼ cup flour
1 ½ Tbsp cornstarch
½  Tbs. salt
1 ¾ cup pineapple juice
½ cup brown sugar
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbs. fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup Sriracha

Start by preheating the oven to 425. The original instructions had us line a baking pan with foil, but the foil ended up being a huge pain, as the chicken kept sticking to it. So next time I might just spray the pan with non-stick spray instead. It will be a bigger clean up, but it’s worth it to keep the skin on the drumsticks instead of the foil!

In a shallow dish or a plate with a lip mix the flour, cornstarch and salt. Roll your drumsticks around in it until they are covered by the mixture (you may have to sprinkle a little), shake off the excess and put them on the baking pan. Bake them for 15 minutes, flip them, and bake them for another 15.

While the chicken is baking you need to make the glaze. Combine all the other ingredients from the pineapple juice all the way to the Sriracha in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then you want to take the heat down to simmer and keep it there until the first 30 minutes on the chicken is up.

This is where we ran into trouble, I think because we have had trouble maintaining a simmer on our new stove. We’re still figuring out what temperatures do what. So by the time the chicken was ready, the sauce wasn’t thick yet. You’ll want to keep it at a pretty high simmer in order to get it to thicken. Once it’s thick, you want to coat the chicken with the sauce and then bake for another 30 minutes (so it will bake for 60 minutes total), flipping and reglazing at 15 minutes. We actually ended up not being able to glaze until about 45 minutes in, and then we poured the sauce all over the chicken, so if that happens to you, don’t worry—it still turned out great! Anyway, after 60 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through and the glaze will be all sticky and nice. You can always broil your chicken for a minute or two if you want some caramelization, although we didn’t find that we needed any. Towards the end, keep an eye on things as the sugar in the glaze can tend to burn. I bet you could even finish these on the grill for the last 10 minutes or so if you wanted some of that smoky flavor. Serve with a delicious side (we turned to our favorite Spicy Corn Salad) and some wet naps if you have them! 

Chicken Fried Rice

The Hubs and I are really bad about leftovers. I always have the best intentions when I save something. Especially since there are a few nights a week where our schedule means we aren’t having a formal meal together. That would of course be the perfect time to take care of that leftover soup, or make that leftover meat into a sandwich. But what usually happens is I end up eating pita chips and ice cream, and the leftovers eventually get thrown away. So, I really like the idea of something that actually uses leftover rice as a main ingredient. The only problem was that we didn’t actually have any leftover rice, so I made some before work in the morning, and we had it that night. Still, I definitely know what I’m making next time we have a take out carton of rice leftover, because this was phenomenal. So good, and I am not exaggerating, that the Hubs claims that he’ll never get fried rice at a restaurant again. Yeah. Big words. Anyway, we took a basic fried rice recipe from the Bite SizedBlog and added chicken and a few other ingredients. The great thing about this form of meal is you can pretty much add in any vegetable or meat you want and it’s going to come out great.

2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
3 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
1 chile pepper, minced (we used a Habanero)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 cups old rice, room temperature
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 eggs
4 scallions, chopped
Small handful of chopped fresh basil (Thai basil would be great, too)

Now, we did not use a wok because we’ve had trouble with them in the past. But apparently, the secret is using it over a flame and not an electric burner. So if you can make that happen, you might want to try the wok since it will get your rice a little crispier than we were able to get ours.

I boiled my chicken first and shredded it, then seasoned it with salt and pepper and set it aside. Next heat up the oil so it’s good and hot. We used grape oil but I might try peanut oil next time for a little extra flavor. Then add in the onion and chile pepper and sauté them until they are brown and crispy. Then lower the heat and add in the garlic and ginger just for 30 seconds to a minute. Add in your rice and butter and stir in as the butter melts. You want the rice to get a little crispy as well, which was hard for us. A little tip from the Hubs… be patient. We have a tendency to always be stirring, and that’s going to make it hard to get crispy rice. So don’t worry about letting the rice be still for a minute or so between stirs.

Use the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil to deglaze the pan and get all those tasty brown bits up. Then add in your eggs. I actually think we could have used one more egg, but see what feels right for you. You want to stir them in right away, making sure to break the yolk. Do it one at a time if you have to. You don’t want the egg to just cook where you threw it in. We added the chicken in at this point, and also another tablespoon or two of soy sauce since the chicken seemed to suck up all the liquid. Then we stirred in the scallions and basil for another minute and we were done! We enjoyed it so much that even though we made a lot, there were definitely no leftovers. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Refried Beans

One of my favorite side dishes growing up was my mom's refried beans. She often made them with beef tacos or flank steak. It is really delicious. I made tacos tonight, and wanted to make refried beans as my side dish. This really goes along well with just about anything. Plus, it's really easy to make and pretty inexpensive at that. Enjoy!             

2 cans pinto beans
1 cup store bought salsa like Picante brand
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup shredded mexican cheese
1/2 tsp salt

First take out a large sautee pan and add the olive oil. Set the burner to medium heat. Once the pan is warm add in the diced onion and sautee till the onions are translucent about 5 minutes. Add the beans into the pan (including the liquid) and stir. Let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, take a potato masher and mash the beans. Then add the salsa and stir. Let simmer for a couple more minutes, and then lastly add in the cheese and season with the salt. Stir.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Honey Lime Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Today is Cinco de Mayo. No, I'm not Mexican, but I do love me some Mexican food. I especially love tacos. Our fellow blogger, Wormfood, loves herself some tacos, too. So much so that we've created a separate category called Taco to help easily find these yummy recipes. I was going to try her Jerk Chicken tacos in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, but didn't have all the ingredients on hand to make it the appropriate way. So, since I'm on this pineapple kick I decided to find a recipe that utilizes chicken, tacos, and pineapple salsa. I found this recipe from Elle's New England Kitchen. She saute's her chicken, but I decided to grill mine. I utilized this recipe on our blog to make the Pineapple Salsa, but just omitted the mango (they weren't quite ripe enough). This was a yummy recipe. I think I will even use the marinade just for regular ol' grilled chicken. Strawberry Mojitos and Tacos; can it get any better than this? Enjoy!

Ingredients for Chicken and Marinade:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly crosswise
1/2 cup canola oil
juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 tsp adobo pepper
1 1/2 tsp ancho chile pepper (optional)
2 tsp cumin
2 pinches cinnamon
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp honey

Ingredients for Pineapple Salsa:
2 cups diced pineapple
1/4 c. diced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, diced and seeded (if you don't like it spicy)
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
dash of salt

For assembling:
Cilantro for garnish
Corn or Flour Tortillas

First make the pineapple salsa by combining all the above ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Cover with a lid and refrigerate for an hour or so. Next, prepare your marinade by taking out a medium sized bowl. Then, add in the oil thru the honey into the bowl. Stir well. Pour the marinade into a large zip lock bag and add in the chicken. Coat well. Let marinate for an hour, or so, turning the bag occasionally. After an hour or so; let's get the grill ready. Once the temperature has reached 350 degrees; take out the chicken from the bag, and toss the marinade in the trash. Grill the chicken till it's cooked thru. Remove the chicken from the grill and set aside. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle; go ahead and slice it up. Next, take out a non-stick skillet and set the heat to medium. Place the tortilla on the skillet and let it heat thru for about 30 seconds or so. Flip the tortilla and let it heat thru for an additional 30 seconds. Remove from the skillet. I used 2 tortillas to make one taco. Then, spread a couple spoonfuls of the pineapple salsa along the tortilla. Add the chicken and additional cilantro if you so desire. I sprinkled some goat cheese on my tacos just because I can. Enjoy!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Iron Chef Grapes Recap

When our lovely hostess, Emily, selected grapes for the secret ingredient in our next Iron Chef, some people had their doubts. It’s understandable because while the grape is a common food, for whatever reason, it’s not the most common ingredient out there in actual recipes. But after tasting the food on Saturday, I think at least a few minds were changed. Most of the grape dishes were things we had never tasted before, and I think that was really exciting. The ingredient pushed us to be creative and try new things, and that’s what these competitions are all about! Well, that and hanging out with good friends. Oh, and wine.

We started the night with Greta’s Grape Sangria, which was packed full of boozy fruit (which was nice to eat after the drink itself was gone). It was a tasty, buzzy way to begin, and we also discovered that Grand Marnier is actually a whiskey and not an orange liqueur like I (adamantly) believed. Who knew?

Next we moved on to appetizers, and our Iron Chef Grapes champion, Kim! She served her Grape Salsa on sweet potato waffle fries and topped them with a sprinkle of goat cheese. They were really surprising! A little heat and some sweet in the salsa, paired with the crunch of the waffle fry made for a really delicious little hors d'oeuvre and earned Kim a well-deserved win!

My appetizer of Pesto Grape Flatbread came next, and I thought it turned out pretty good, although I wish I had put more pesto and a little more feta cheese on it. I had been worried the feta would be too strong but cooking mellowed it out so much that I couldn’t even taste it. I made cilantro-pistachio pesto, which is my favorite, and I think it had some nice zip to it.

We moved onto the sides and mains next, starting with Emily’s Grape Salad. It was packed full of goodies like dried cranberries, sliced pears, pistachios and grapes (of course). She also used Manchego cheese, which is one of my favorites. I loved the mix of flavors and textures in her salad.

Morgan made an Orange and Grape Pasta Salad, which sounds a little strange (grapes and pasta are not a traditional Italian combo) but turned out to be really tasty. She used tortellini, which are so good in a cold salad, plus red and green grapes, onions, and mandarin oranges with white balsamic. Definitely a great pasta salad for summer.

Chelyen made chicken cutlets with a sort of Grape and Shallot Sauce that was a little like gravy. I admit, it was not the prettiest looking dish. But its homely looks didn’t affect the taste. It was very savory with little pops of slight sweetness when you bit into a grape.

Our second main was Cara’s Grape Pizza (not to be confused with flatbread!). We were a little worried that the flatbread and pizza would be too alike, but Cara used really different flavors so they didn’t feel too similar. Hers was crispy and cheesy, and the grapes worked really nicely with the romano cheese. I also liked the hint of rosemary in the combination.

The last dish of the night turned out to be our Iron Chef Grapes runner up: Shu’s Peanut Butter Ice Cream with a warm Grape Compote. She served it between two waffles as a play on peanut butter and jelly! It was a tried and true combination, but with a playful twist that made it really innovative. And crazy delicious too. The peanut butter ice cream was so good I went back for seconds. This was Shu’s first time placing in an Iron Chef competition, so congratulations!

We haven’t picked our next ingredient yet, but I am already looking forward to another night of fun with these crazy ladies!

Spicy Chicken with Grilled Pineapple

For a long time I've said that I don't like Pineapple. Eh. It just didn't do it for me. However, as my palate has evolved over the years; I've decided that I really enjoy it. And, I'm really loving this Mango and Pineapple Salsa. Hint. Hint. Try it!! Anyway, I knew that I was making chicken tonight, and I wanted to try a new recipe. So, I went searching on trusty Google trying to find a chicken with pineapple recipe. I came across this one from Ladies' Home Journal, and decided to give it a shot especially since I had all the ingredients save for the scallions. Only when I got home and started preparing the marinade did I realize you are supposed to marinate the chicken for 8+ hours. Whoops. Well, I certainly wasn't going to wait 8 hours before eating dinner. So, I let it sit for about an hour and a half. And, I thought it was very tasty for only that short period of time. I bet if it sat for 8+ hours it would have even more flavor. I really liked this grilled chicken recipe, and the grilled pineapple made it even tastier. Enjoy!

8 scallions, chopped, plus 1/4 cup dark-green 2-inch-long thin strips for garnish
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for grill
1 habanero or jalapeno chile, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 1/2 pounds chicken parts (thighs and drumsticks)
1 fresh pineapple, about 4 pounds
2 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Combine the first 12 ingredients into a Food Processor and puree until smooth. Mine had some chunky pieces...just go with it. Place half the puree into a small bowl and cover and refrigerate. Take the other half of the puree and pour it into a plastic zip lock bag and add the chicken to the bag as well. Marinate for 8 hours or overnight in the fridge and turn the chicken occasionally. Again, I only marinaded mine for about an hour and a half and it was still quite tasty. When you are about ready to start grilling your chicken; take it out of the fridge and let sit for 30 minutes on your counter. Meanwhile, take out your pineapple and cut it crosswise 1/4 inches thick. Sprinkle brown sugar over it. When your grill is ready; grill the pineapple with the brown sugar facing down on the for 3 to 4 minutes and be sure to turn the pineapple half way thru to give the other side some nice grill marks. Set the pineapple aside. Now, grill your chicken till it is cooked through. Take out the puree that you set aside in the bowl and spoon on top of the chicken. Serve with the pineapple and enjoy.