Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ground Beef with Taco Seasoning

Well, I wanted to make nachos again, and I decided to make a more Americanized version with ground beef, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to make my own taco seasoning. Dear lord, this stuff turned out great!

I'm going to write this recipe with parts, like a cocktail, so it is easy to scale and you can make as much or as little as you need. I made mine with teaspoons as the base, but you can use any measure of volume, as long as you keep the same ratios. I'm also providing directions on how to properly use this stuff with ground beef, but feel free to use what ever protein you would like!


Taco Seasoning:

3 parts chili powder
3 parts ground cumin
2 parts salt
2 parts cornstarch
1 part garlic powder
1 part onion powder
1 part cayenne pepper
1 part smoked paprika
½ part ground black pepper

Ground Beef:

2 tbsp of olive oil
1 lb of ground beef
2 tbsp taco seasoning
½ cup of water


For the taco seasoning, add all the ingredients to an airtight container and shake well to combine.
For the ground beef, pour the oil into a nonstick or cast iron skillet and bring to a shimmer over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until thoroughly browned. Drain off the extra moisture and fat and return to medium heat. Add the taco seasoning and water, bring to a boil, and then simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with your favorite taco toppings, on nachos, or how ever you feel like. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Steamed Mussels in a Spicy Broth

Ok, straight talk, this is the actual meal I served on Valentine's Day. There is minimal prep, and very little cook time, but tons of flavor. Plus, since this is a meal you mostly eat with your hands, it stays very light-hearted and casual, which I think is the perfect tone for an intimate evening alone.

Warning: though I do add a bit of spice to many recipes, even I think this one is actually spicy. It tastes amazing, but if you don't like spicy food, don't make this.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-4


3 cups of vegetable stock
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
¼ cup of white wine*
2 tbsp dried parsley
½ lb of andouille sausage cut into bite size pieces**
2 lbs of live mussels


In a stock pot or dutch oven, pour in the stock and add the pepper, garlic, wine, parsley, and sausage. Cover and bring to a boil.

As you bring your broth to a boil, do a thorough inspection of your mussels. Assuming you kept your mussels in the fridge, when you take them out of the cold, they might start to open. This is perfectly fine, you should only worry about mussels that won't close back up. If you tap on an open one and it starts to close, it's good. Alternatively if you hold it closed and it doesn't open back up very much, you're good. If there are any that are cracked, or were open in the fridge, throw them away. Do not cook them.

Once your broth has reached a boil, add the mussels, return the broth to a simmer, and then re-cover. Cook the mussels for 4-5 minutes or until they are open. If there are any that didn't open, throw those away.

Serve your mussels in a bowl with a good helping of broth, a glass of the white wine you used in the broth, and some nice crusty bread to soak up all that deliciousness. I highly recommend serving the crusty bread with my roasted garlic and tomato spread since the tang of the sundried tomatoes goes great with the spicy broth.

*I would recommend a riesling for this recipe. If you want it spicy, use a dry or semi dry variety. Use a semi sweet or sweet riesling if you want it to be less spicy.
*If you want this to be less spicy, or want to make it pescaterian, leave out the sausage, it will still taste great.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Don't Call it a Relaunch

I want to give many special thanks to my wife for working really hard on this great new background. While blogger comes with some great templates, we really wanted to work on making this blog feel mine. So, after purchasing myself a domain, Laura set about giving my blog a unique and creative look.

We went back and forth on some of the design elements, but in the end, her good sense prevailed.

Please keep an eye out for more changes coming in the near future. I'm extremely excited about having this great new look, and I'm really hoping to build from here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Roasted Garlic Tomato Spread

A friend of mine gave me a really great tip about roasting garlic for garlic bread a while ago, and I recently found myself wanting to make something else with roasted garlic since it has a such a complex set of flavors. I came up with this delicious spread that is a little sweet and a lot savory, with a hint of spice. It goes great on crusty bread like a baguette or ciabatta loaf. I'll also be suggesting it with a couple recipes coming up that I think it pairs well with.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes–1 hour


3 bulbs of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
½ oz of sundried tomatoes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Crusty bread


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. (Hint: this is a great recipe for a toaster oven since it uses such small amounts.)

Cut off the top of each bulb of garlic so that each clove is exposed. Pour one third of the olive oil on each bulb and gently work into the bulb. Wrap each bulb in tinfoil and roast for 45 min–1 hour.

I like my garlic to be pretty roasted, since it gets sweeter as the existing sugars caramelize. I recommend cooking for 45 minutes and then checking every 5 minutes till it is as dark as you would like. Once the garlic is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool.

Put the sundried tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil into the carafe of your blender. Once the garlic is cool enough to be handled, simply squeeze each bulb into your blender. Blend until a smooth paste is formed. Feel free to add more extra virgin olive oil if you need to make it a little more spreadable.

Toast or grill some slices of your bread of choice, spread, and serve. This is pretty powerful stuff so a little goes a long way!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Help! I forgot it's Valentine's Day!

Well, actually I didn't. I put up a post about it last week. But you might have, and you might be scrambling for a great dinner idea that you can put together easily and quickly so no one will suspect your oversight. Never fear, dear reader, for I have just the thing for you!

Last year I put up a recipe for Pistachio Crusted Lemon Chicken and it is just the thing to get you through Valentine's Day. This recipe takes very little time to prep and little time to cook. It's healthy and won't have you feeling bloated so you will have plenty of energy for the rest of the night.

If you can't get your hands on lemon olive oil, don't worry, it will still taste great with regular olive oil. Can't get no-salt pistachios? No worries! Just use regular or lightly salted ones and cut out the added salt from the recipe!

So calm down, take a deep breath, tonight is going to go great! (With a little help from me, of course.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Massala

I'm putting this up as a suggestion for Valentine's Day, but this one is great year-round.

On Valentine's Day, you might not have time after work to make a nice, romantic meal, and a slow cooker recipe that will be almost ready as soon as you get home seems like a pretty smart idea. With a long parts list and exotic flavors, it still feels plenty special while requiring minimal work and prep time.

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 6-8 hrs


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1 tbsp ginger, grated or minced
1 cup greek yogurt**
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp curry powder
1 cup of coconut milk
Cilantro for garnish (optional)


Trim any excess fat off the chicken thighs and cut into bite size chunks. Place in your slow cooker with everything except the coconut milk. Mix thoroughly and set on low for 6-8 hours. Pour in the coconut milk and stir till thoroughly combined. If you want to thicken the sauce, take the lid off and put your slow cooker on high for 15 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached.

Serve, garnished with cilantro, over basmati rice and/or with some warm naan bread. If you are worried about the heat, serve with a dollop of greek yogurt or with a cooling side salad of cucumber and mint.

* This recipe calls for chicken thighs instead of breasts because chicken thighs, with their higher fat content and connective tissue, stand up to long, slow cooking better than lean breast meat.

**When selecting a greek yogurt for this dish, I would recommend a higher milk fat yogurt. While a slow cooker on low might not get hot enough to "break" or curdle a lowfat or fat-free yogurt, unfortunately mine does, a full-fat yogurt will give you some insurance and protect you from an unatractive and grainy sauce.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Honey Butter

So when I was looking for cornbread recipes to use as references, I saw a lot of people serving cornbread with honey, which is something I had never thought of. I tried it, and it was amazing. I thought to myself, "butter is great on cornbread, honey is great on cornbread, why not cut out the middleman and combine them!"

Don't get me wrong, I love my cornbread, but this really cranks it up to 11. While I made this butter for cornbread, it also goes brilliantly on pancakes, waffles, and as a finishing butter for salmon.

Prep time: 5 minutes


1 stick or ½ cup of softened unsalted butter*
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp salt


Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and combine thoroughly. (That was easy!)

*I only have unsalted butter at home since I find it to be better for cooking and my wife likes it better generally. However, feel free to use salted butter and just add the honey, not the extra salt.

Skillet Cornbread


Growing up we didn't get much cornbread, because for some unfathomable reason, my mom doesn't like corn. So it was always a treat when we ever we did have it.

I like my cornbread sweet, moist, and with whole kernels of corn. This one also has a little bit of kick to it, which I really enjoy. I accidently made this a low fat cornbread by leaving out the butter. When I realized my mistake, I gave that batch up for lost, but to my surprise it still turned out great! Using honey instead of sugar or brown sugar helps keep it from drying out.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Serves: 6-8


1 ¼ cups coarsely ground cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder
½ cup whole kernel corn
⅓ cup honey
¼ cup whole milk
¾ cup lowfat buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp butter


Preheat your oven to 425 and place a 10-inch skillet inside to heat up while you prep the batter.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Separately, combine the corn, honey, milk, buttermilk, and eggs. Once the wet team is thoroughly combined, add it to the dry team and mix together until smooth (well, not too smooth... there are pieces of corn in there).

Remove your heated skillet and put in the pat of butter, then use a basting brush or paper towel to thoroughly grease the whole inside with melted butter. Pour in the batter and place in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes, and then serve fresh and warm!