Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grilled Artichokes

I made grilled artichokes for an appetizer. I may be biased, but I thought they were really good! They had tons of flavor without having to dip them in sauce - even though I did on a few.

It was fairly easy to make - Just make sure you provide enough time for them to cook thoroughly.


2 Large Artichokes
1 Lemon, quartered
3/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze the juice from one lemon wedge into the water. Trim the tops from the artichokes, then cut in half lengthwise, and place halves into the bowl of lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat.
  3. Add artichokes to boiling water, and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain. Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges into a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil and garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Brush the artichokes with a coating of the garlic dip, and place them on the preheated grill. Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with dip and turning frequently, until the tips are a little charred. Serve immediately with the remaining dip.

Final Product!

If you have never had an Artichoke I suggest trying one.
They are very tasty and fun to eat.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Milk Chocolate Bar Cake

For my hubby's birthday we went out to eat, but as with all celebrations I wanted to make him something special and homemade for dessert. He is definitely a chocolate lover so I oped to make him a milk chocolate bar cake - Yum!!

(His birthday is right after Christmas - hence the Christmas tree in the background)

Milk Chocolate Bar Cake

1 (18.25 oz) package Swiss Chocolate cake mix
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 (1.5 oz) milk chocolate candy bar with almonds, divided
1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Pour into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pans on wire rack fro 10 minutes. Beat cream cheese, powered sugar, and granulated sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until it is creamy. Chop 8 candy bars finely. Fold cream cheese mixture and chopped candy into whipped topping. Spread icing between layers and on top and sides of the cake. Chop remaining 2 candy bars over cake. Press remaining chopped candy along the edge of the cake. Yield: 1 (3 layer) cake.

Modifications: I made a few changes to the recipe. I only did a 2 layer cake simply because I did not have an extra cake pan. I poured 1/2 cup of Kahlua on the cakes after they came out of the oven to spice it up a bit. I probably could have added more but I was afraid it would get too soft and fall apart as I was icing it. I bought 5 (4.25 oz) candy bars instead of the size listed in the recipe.

Jeff giving his Happy Birthday Dance!

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Jeff was reading Garden and Gun and noticed a great article and recipe on Drunken Pie. He insisted that I make it for the weekend. After reviewing the recipe, I made a few modifications by using our traditional Pecan Pie recipe, (from Renfroe Pecan Company) simply because it called for less sugar, and adding the bourbon. I personally think that Pecan pies are really sweet, but love the Renfroe Grand Champion Pecan Pie recipe.
It turned out great! The bourbon cuts some of the sweetness and really stands out. It was so good in fact that we are going to make it again for Easter!!

Bourbon Pecan Pie

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 ½ cups chopped Pecans
2- 2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon

Mix all ingredients. Blend well. Pour into unbaked 9" pastry shell. Bake 350° for 50-55 minutes or until set in center.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Greek Chicken Kabobs, Pea RisiBisi and Mint Yogurt Sauce

Chicken, Tomato, Mushroom, and Pepper Kabobs

1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (0 or 2%)
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
1 package whole mushrooms
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 green pepper, cut in thick pieces for skewering

To prepare the marinade, in a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, thyme, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.  Pulse to mix.  Add yogurt and pulse again to mix.

Place the chicken cubes in a nonreactive bowl, pour marinade over the cubes, and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate, about 8 hours.

If using wood skewers, soak in water to cover, at least 30 minutes.  Prepare a grill for direct grilling over medium heat.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and thread onto skewers, alternating with mushrooms peppers and tomatoes. Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Place skewers on grill, turning and basting once with reserved marinade, until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, 4-5 minutes per side.  Transfer to warmed plate and serve with yogurt sauce (below).

(From A Taste of the World, 2008)

Yogurt and Mint Sauce

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/3-1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp small capers
1 Tbs mayonnaise

Pulse in small food processor and serve room temp (or zap in microwave before serving to make slightly warm).

Lemon Pea RisiBisi

3-4 Tbs butter (salted)
1/2 yellow onion - diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice
4-5 cups chicken broth
2 lemons for juice
handful of mint leaves
salt and pepper
1 cup fresh small green peas (or frozen if not available)

Prepare similar to regular risotto.  In large flat pan with lid, melt butter over medium heat.  Put in onion and saute until soft, 5-7 minutes.  Mince garlic in pan.  Put arborio rice in pan and stir to coat with butter.  Cook 3-5 minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently so doesn't stick to bottom.

Squeeze 1 lemon over rice, avoiding seeds, and stir to cook off juices.  In 1/2 cup increments, pour in chicken broth and let simmer until most of the broth has evaporated.  Continue to pour in broth portions while occasionally stirring rice.  Rice will slowly cook and become creamy.  Chop about half of mint leaves and pour them as well as the peas into the rice when rice appears about half-done.  Continue to add broth to the rice.  As rice begins to be done, squeeze the other lemon in for flavor, add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with remaining mint leaves.  Serve with yogurt sauce on top of both rice and kabobs.