Yum Peaceful Cooking: May 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hibiscus Margarita

I don't know what to praise more, the pineapple slicer and corer or the delicious Hibiscus Margarita inside the hollowed out pineapple. 

I mean...look how handy this slicer is? One of my dearest friends has had one for a while now but honestly, you sometimes don't appreciate a gadget until you use it yourself. This thing effortlessly cores and slices the pineapple like nobodies business. 

You line it up, twist a few times and pull! It's as easy as that. I don't have a pic, but if you remove the handle, you can slide off the tower of sliced pineapple for an impressive display. 

If you want to be fancy, remove the core and you have these cute little pineapple cups. As long as the pineapple wall is thick enough, or you didn't slice to close to the bottom.

But to make the beautiful, exotic margarita inside, the hardest part might be finding the hibiscus. I found mine at a local Latin market. You can use hibiscus from teabags but that could be costly. Buying in bulk is the way to go. For each batch, you'll need 1 cup of dried hibiscus blossoms. That would be a lot of teabags. To put it in perspective, for 1 tablespoons, you need 3 teabags. 

Bulk is the way to go. 

Hibiscus Margarita (inspired by My Recipes)

1 cup dried hibiscus blossoms
3 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups tequila
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup orange liqueur 
Lime slices to garnish

Carefully rinse the hibiscus blossoms in a strainer. Don't be alarmed when the water turns red. And don't worry...there's plenty of that beautiful color left in the blossoms to make your margarita turn this beautiful fuchsia.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the rinsed hibiscus blossoms, water and sugar. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes. 

Strain. Toss out the hibiscus blossoms. They have done their job and met their destiny. Chill the liquid until ready to use.

Mix together the hibiscus liquid, tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur. At this point, you can either serve it on the rocks, or pour it into a blender filled half way with ice. 

Garnish and serve.

I typically like my margarita's on the rocks. This one however, is served best blended. And was so good. The flavor reminded me vaguely of sweet cranberries without the tartness. It wasn't floral in any sense. 

I made these for our Memorial Weekend BBQ. I actually made 4 batches and they went fast. Even the guys liked them, despite the girly appeal not only in name but in appearance. 

Not to mention, they were a great prelude to the tequila shots that have become the ritual at the end of the night as we all sit around the fire pit.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this lovely drink, made from Hawaii's state flower. Maybe at your next BBQ, sitting around in your floral shirt, wearing a grass skirt and a lei.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chicken Strip Tease - 50 Shades of Chicken

This little cookbook, Fifty Shades of Chicken, being a parody and all should really be taken more seriously. If you are a fellow 'Chicken Queen' (or Chicken King), then I highly recommend it. Don't get your panties in a bunch and judge it just because it's full on the best innuendos that can be found in the kitchen! Take it in stride and giggle.....and then totally enjoy the food. I've made several, and they are all delicious.

Especially this one!

This dish is very easy to do and perfect for newbies. You just have to plan ahead a little as the chicken does need to marinate a bit.

But while it's doing it's thing, you can enjoy the intro (each recipe has a fun intro). Here's a tease of a snippet....(although if you didn't read 50 Shades of Grey, this might not be as funny to you).

""Your whole control-freak foodie thing, it was because of her, that woman Mrs. Child." My mood has darkened.
"Julia opened my eyes to many important things." he explains. "In fact, I'd still be eating frozen dinners if it weren't for her.""

FL Fowler did a great job...seriously cracks me up!!

Chicken Strip Tease (aka Chicken Breast Strips with Balsamic and Rosemary)
Printable Version

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

Note: I say olive oil rather than extra-virgin olive oil because....I learned from a woman I know, who lived in Italy for many years, that extra-virgin olive oil (although what we have here is not the same, nor as good, as what they have in Italy) is used as a finishing oil. When cooking, one should use light olive oil.

Pat the chicken dry and cut into strips about 1/2 inch thick.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the garlic, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, salt, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Cover mixture tightly and allow to marinate, in the fridge, for at least an hour. Over night would be best...or at least all day.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and gently pat dry.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the chicken and sear on both sides, until golden brown.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until done, about 5 minutes or so.

At this point, I removed the chicken from the pan, covered to keep warm, and threw some vegetables into the pan with a bit more oil if needed: carrots, onions, asparagus, mushrooms...

And allowed them to take advantage of the drippings left behind. 

Other recommendations for serving are: wrapped in a tortilla with tomatoes and avocado, topped with some cheese. Or, toss into a salad, or even an omelette. Whatever you do with the chicken...you're bound to please whoever's receiving. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Grilled Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Salad - Guest Post

Time for Summer: Grilled Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Salad

Watermelon and grilling are two quintessential elements of summer, but did you ever think the two could go together—as in, grilled watermelon? This salad has diced tomatoes, feta cheese, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and grilled watermelon; it mixes the flavors of sweet and savory perfectly! If you’re having a Memorial Day party, try serving this dish. Watermelon is an old favorite for Memorial Day, so why not try this twist on a classic?

  • PAM® Grilling Spray
  • 1 can (14.5 oz each) Hunt's® Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 thick slice (about 1 inch) watermelon with rind (for 2 cups diced)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Spray cold grate of gas grill with grilling spray. Preheat grill for high heat. Meanwhile, combine drained tomatoes, basil, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in medium bowl.
  2. Grill watermelon 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until grill marks develop. Cool slightly. Remove rind; dice watermelon. Add to rest of ingredients; gently stir together. Sprinkle with cheese.

Author Bio: This is a guest post by Elizabeth L. on behalf of Hunt’s. Visit our site at www.hunts.com to find tomato recipes, chili recipes, and easy meatloaf recipes.

Peaceful Cooking Note: Thank you Elizabeth for sharing this wonderful recipe with us and giving me the opportunity to have you as a guest writer! The salad looks and sounds delicious! I will definitely be adding it to my Memorial Day BBQ menu. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions, and the Dodgers

When you think of the Dodgers, several things may come to mind. I'm guessing hot dogs would be amoung the top 5. The other 4 will depend on how much of a die-hard baseball fan you are.

I think of Dodger Blue, 7th inning stretch, the wAvE and memories.

Growing up in Los Angeles lends to a lot of Dodger memories. (I might be showing my age here...) Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela, and of course Tommy Lasorda.

Yes...the Dodger legend, Tommy Lasorda. Not only did he start his baseball career with the Dodgers back in 1945 when they were still in Brooklyn, but to this day he is still a True Blue Dodger where he is a Special Adviser to the Chairman.

And....he just opened a restaurant at Dodger's Stadium called Tommy Lasorda's Tratoria.

Do you know what that means? There's Italian food being served....to everyone at Dodger's Stadium! Right there....behind the right field bullpen.

You'll see a huge outdoor bar aptly called Bullpen Outlook Bar (there is one behind left field as well, but we'll go there in a minute), you'll hear the dj, see the outdoor seating area...and people. Lot's of people enjoying Italian food.

What might you find on the menu? Well, let me tell you...

The most perfect pizza ever! You know how when you go places and order a pizza and you ask for extra cheese? And you look at it and think...wth...this is extra cheese?! Tommy's pizza comes standard with more than extra cheese...and the best ever thin crust. Trust me...you wont want to leave those end crusts on the plate. It's that good!

Then there's the pasta with marinara sauce and huge amazing meatballs! Great texture, great flavor...and, according to Tommy, almost as good as the ones his mom made, and she made the best meatballs ever.

I didn't get to taste everything on the menu...which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I mean...that would be a lot of food to eat but I'd really love to try it all! One thing that I wanted seconds on...seriously, (besides the pizza) was the Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Let me just go on record here, The.... Best.... Italian sausage.... EVER!

Perfect snap, perfect mix of seasonings. And when I say that...I'm saying, not overloaded with fennel or anise, like most of what you find in the markets.

I tried making my own. And they were good. But not as good. I got my sausage at a local Italian market, which I love....but I really like the ones at Tommy Lasorda's Tratoria better.

I just sliced up some red and green bell peppers and onions. Cooked my Italian sausage in a greased pan, covered, turning occasionally. Added the vegetables towards the end and continued cooking until the sausage was done and the vegetables were tender.

It was delicious. Especially on a homemade roll. But not as good as Tommy's. Wouldn't it be nice if he opened up a local restaurant so we all could enjoy his food year round?

So...I mention the left field Bullpen Outlook Bar earlier...and yes, same set up..only over there they have another new restaurant called Think Blue Bar-B-Que

There you'll find (among other things) a melt in your mouth beef brisket and the best corn on the cob you've every had!

The brisket is smoked for 17 hours....fat untrimmed, self basting. The corn, precooked then grilled to perfection, smothered in...yes...mayo...then rolled in seasonings that includes cumin, cardamom, bbq seasoning, a bit of cinnamon and lime juice. WOW!!! Seriously. WOW!!!

Now I'm not trying to take you away from the famous Dodger Dog.

There are plenty of those to choose from....L.A. Extreme Bacon Wrapped Dog (yes...I said bacon! 3 slices to be exact), Frito Pie Dog which is covered in red chili, shredded cheese and Fritos.  I've heard that the Brooklyn Dodger Dog is rather amazing too.

If you're lucky enough to spend some time in one of the event suites...be prepared....

For the dessert cart

If it's in season and you see the Lemonade Cake...eat it! Delicious, fresh sweet lemon, And the chef's personal favorite is the Root Beer Cake....Holy moly!! Someone, somewhere, figured out how to infuse chocolate ganache with root beer!!!

Speaking of the chef...Executive Chef Jason Tingley is doing an amazing job. He's a local guy who has taken rustic California flavors, fresh new concepts and has incorporated them into a new cuisine fit for today's Dodger fans.

Food at the ballpark has been taken to a new level! Get there early and explore. They have so much to choose from. Much more than what I'm able to cover here. Besides the handcrafted BBQ and the classic Italian, you have the Home Stand Hot Dogs and for the more health conscious, look for the Club Marketplace.

Yes, the Dodgers won that night. It truly was a grand evening all the way around. Great food and a great game!

Here's wishing the Dodgers 
a very successful season!