Sunday, June 17, 2012

Asian Inspired Steak

Asian Inspired Steak
One of the very best things about summer is experimenting with new flavor combinations on the grill.  Simple flavors blend in the form of marinades, sauces to baste, and new ways to approach the art of grilling.  Nothing in the world beats roasting vegetables on the grill when you just got them from the farmer's market that morning.  This marinade mixture that Olivia tried is a perfect combination of sweet, tart, acidic, and spicy.   Marinades like this one make a special cut of steak even more special and can even elevate marinated stew meat on skewers to new and exciting levels.  Fire up the grill and get cooking!  Don't let summer pass you by!

In a gallon sized plastic bag, mix:

1 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons onion flakes

Place your choice of steaks in the bag with the marinade and allow the steaks to marinate overnight.  Think skirt steaks work well with this marinade!  Grill the steaks over medium high heat.

Serve steaks with rice or couscous and grilled vegetables.  Red bell peppers, sweet onions, and pineapple were grilled on skewers with this steak.


Grilling tips: 1)  If you are using wooden skewers to make kabobs, soak them in water first--helps keep them from becoming kindling on the grill.  2)  If you like beets, peel fresh beets, cut them in chunks, place them on foil and season with butter and salt.  Wrap them and grill them until a little soft.  This is my FAVORITE way to eat beets!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mexican Feast Take 2!

Mexican Feast Take 2!
Olivia can morph leftovers into the most unique and wonderful things better than anybody I know.  Here are some fine examples of that with the previously posted Mexican feast she made!  This is just plain wonderful!
- Nanette

This dinner idea uses the left overs from the Mexican Feast recipes posted recently on the blog!

Saute the left over green onions, chopped jalapenos, and cilantro in a sauce pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the ingredients are softened, add the shredded beef.

Spoon two tablespoons of the meat mixture inside of tortillas and top with the left over cheese.

Roll the enchiladas up and place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Hopefully you saved the cooking broth that your roast cooked in.  Gently simmer the spiced broth in a sauce pan over medium high heat until it has reduced by half.  Stir in a small can of tomato paste and let it reduce a bit more.  This creates a very simple enchilada sauce!  Poor this over the enchiladas and top with more shredded cheese.  

This left overs are quite yummy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mexican Feast

When Olivia was growing up, chicken fajitas, tacos and occasionally burritos were a staple in our household.  While they were good, they were never particularly spicy because her father wasn't big on spicy food.  As an adult, Olivia has become more creative and adventurous when it comes to Mexican fare.  She made these fabulous tacos for friends who dined with she and her husband recently.  She included wonderful refried beans, Mexican rice, and Mexican corn.  All homemade and very good stuff!  Hope you think so too!

Shredded Beef  Tacos

1 (2.5 lb) chuck roast
1 (14 oz) can beef broth
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Juice of 1 lime

Serve with:
Warmed corn tortillas or warmed fresh flour tortillas
Green or Iceburg lettuce, chopped
Monterrey Jack or Cheddar cheese, shredded
Guacamole or diced avocados
Sour cream
Fresh salsa Cilantro
Freshly squeezed lime juice
Hot sauce

In a small bowl whisk together chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Place roast in a slow cooker, pour beef broth over roast then squeeze with fresh lime juice.  Sprinkle roast with spice mixture.  Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat 8-10 hours.  Remove roast from slow cooker, shred beef (remove fat) and return shredded beef to slow cooker.  Cover with lid and cook additional 30 minutes.  Remove beef from slow cooker with tongs to remove juices when plating or drain in a colander.  Serve with desired toppings.  

We set up our lazy Susan with the following tacos for a make your own taco bar:

*  Tomatoes
*  Lettuce
*  Salsa
*  Sour Cream
*  Cheese
*  Green Onions
*  Cilantro
*  Jalapenos

Spicy Refried Beans  (Olivia tripled this recipe in order to have leftovers!)



  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 serrano chile, whole
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Melt the butter with the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the serrano chile and cook until the chile begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender and translucent.  Add the beans and chicken broth. Cook over medium heat, frequently mashing only the beans (not the chile), until the beans are a thick paste, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the chile and serve. 

Mexican Rice

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water   (3 cups some say)
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice, onion, peppers, and garlic. Cook until the rice is browned and vegetables are tender. Stir in the water, tomatoes, chili powder, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 15 to 17 minutes. Stir in the cheese and transfer to a serving bowl. 

Mexican Corn

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3  cans of corn (Olivia used her home canned corn.  You can also use frozen.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • chili powder to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add he onion and bell pepper.  Saute until softened.  Add the corn, salt, and chili powder, and heat through, stirring often.  Serve!

(From left to right:  Mexican rice, Mexican corn, and refried beans)

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

My fondness for basil began over three decades ago when my husband and I first married.  We lived in an apartment complex in northwest Indiana.  Our most memorable neighbor was an elderly man named Emil.  He and his wife were Italian immigrants.  Entering their apartment was like entering another country--filled with antiques and doilies.  Emil grew a few vegetables and herbs on a plot of ground outside his apartment.  He was always bringing us gifts--a few tomatoes, a dish his wife had made, herbs, etc.  Emil and his wife were generous, kind, devout Catholics, and inspiring to be around. I have a memory of being invited to dinner and having small glasses of very good wine with our dinner.  

One day when I opened the door to our apartment there sat a potted basil plant.  I had often raved about the wonderful things Emil and his wife made with basil and Emil decided I needed my own plant.  I have had a potted basil plant on my porch every summer since.  Each time I pinch off a leaf, rub it between my fingers, and put it to my nose, I have happy memories of Emil.

I am glad Olivia also has a pot of basil on her porch.  She is far more creative than I am in coming up with ways to use it.  One of the many ways she uses it is in her fabulous pesto.  It is great on chicken, tossed with pasta, on crusts of bread, etc.  I hope you like it too.  I just know Emil would have loved it.  


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts  (Olivia used sliced almonds in this recipe.)
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

Yield: Makes 1 cup.


This is one reason I make my own pesto.  The price of a small jar of pesto is extremely high in the store.  Making pesto at home is so simple and doesn't take long at all to do!

Fresh basil is easy to wash and smells heavenly...

Let's compare prices again - the basil on the left is enough to make one batch of pesto.  The basil on the right is three plants worth (and some 99 cent seeds coming up!) and would easily make two batches of pesto at the point it is at in this picture.  Just TWO weeks ago, I cut all of my basil down to right above the first two leaves right above the dirt, and LOOK at what grew back!!!

Step 1:  Gently pulse the basil in a blender, food processor, or mini food processor such as in this picture.

Step 2:  Add the olive oil, nuts, cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper.

 Step 3:  Here's the finished pesto.  It may not look beautiful in the bowl, but it is DELICIOUS!  The flavors burst in this dish.  It is so yummy!

Step 4:  Enjoy the pesto on just about anything.  The pasta salad in this picture has pesto thinned with olive oil and vinegar on it.  The chicken is a basic grilled chicken topped with a lovely dollop of pesto.  I must husband and I just "had" to test the pesto on Ritz crackers right when it was finished, and we had to make ourselves put it aside.  It really is...amazing.

I often make large batches of pesto and freeze it.  Some folks say to leave the cheese out of the recipe if you are freezing it, but I make it just the same way I always would and freeze the left over in a small, glass container.  It works just fine and is great to pull out, thaw, and use on grilled steaks for an easy dinner.  Yum!