Hurray for The Red, White and Blue

I know, I’m a little later than usual with my holiday menu. June flew by so quickly, it made my head spin. Better late than never, right?

As a child growing up, we didn’t have the television as a distraction during dinner. For the longest time, the dining room table was in the kitchen, and the television (an old black and white contraption with rabbit ears and three channels to choose from) was in the living room. For a brief time, the dining room table was moved into the living room, although I haven’t a clue why. It was during this brief “fancy” placement of our table that music became a part of our dining experience. I don’t mean tuning in the radio or dropping a stack of top hit 45s on the record player. Dad was in charge of the music selection. Recordings of John Philip Sousa – lively marching music – was the usual selection. To this day, I enjoy a good march, and sometimes get a little teary eyed, although I cannot explain the deep emotional response to songs such as “Stars and Strips Forever”.

Image result for john phillips sousa

Fireworks and the music of John Philip Sousa were a big part of my childhood. Mind you, I grew up in a time when being a Patriot meant a sense of community pride and love of country. Today, Patriot seems to mean something entirely different, depending upon your political, religious and economical perspective. For the purpose of this simple posting, let’s put aside differences and those things that separate us. July 4th is but a week away – a time to come together to celebrate the birth of America with picnics and backyard barbecues.

Before we get into this year’s selection of appetizers, I have a confession to make. Recently I found two awesome matching deviled egg platters at a Flea Market – and so this year’s appetizers are centered around the platters. I’ve never seen platters quite like these – made to serve up your eggs and whatever else you wish to include – anything from assorted olives, to match-stick vegetables and whatever else you can dream up. My plan is to divide the appetizers between the platters and serve with a few olives in the upper corners just for show. The larger, middle section will be perfect for stacking the cold cut roll-ups, flanked on either side by marinated artichoke hearts, then the olives. In the smallest two “compartments” I plan to rest small forks for ease of serving.  What fun!


*** Independence Day from Start to Finish ***

Starters
Patriotic Deviled Eggs
Cold-Cut Roll-Ups
Panko-Parmesan Crusted Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Lemon-Basil Aioli

From the Grill
Garlic-Beer Marinated Chicken Thighs
Grilled Smoked Beef Sausages
Basic Mini-Burgers

On the Side
Corn on the Cob
Macaroni Salad

Salads
Compressed Watermelon Salad with Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
Cucumber-Tomato-Basil Salad with Dill Dressing

The Grand Finale
American Flag Cake


Patriotic Deviled Eggs
16 Hard Boiled Eggs (or as needed, see tip below)
1 cup mayonnaise
3 teaspoons mustard (yellow, stoned or Dijon-Style Mustard – it’s a matter of personal tastes – try each to see which flavor suits you)
4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hot water, divided
1 teaspoon Royal Blue Food Coloring
1 teaspoon Red Food Coloring
2 tablespoons white vinegar, divided

Tip: Boil 2 eggs more than required to fill serving tray. The extra eggs give more yolk filling, the extra whites allow for tasting and adjusting seasonings if necessary.

To Boil eggs, place eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 12-14 minutes. Drain, then plunge eggs into ice-cold water to cease the cooking process. The results will be a perfectly cooked egg with a sunny yellow yolk.

Tips for Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs: Once eggs are cool enough to handle, roll gently on counter to crack shells. Place into cold water, refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from water and peel. Water will work its way into shell, the result is an easily peeled egg.

Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove egg yolks and place yolks in food processor with mixing/chopping blade. Set whites aside and mix coloring.

In a glass bowl, mix 1 cup hot water, distilled white vinegar and 1 teaspoon Royal Blue Food Coloring. Mix well and add more coloring if desired.

In another glass bowl, mix remaining cup of hot water, distilled white vinegar and 1 teaspoon Red Food Coloring. Mix well, and add more coloring if desired.

Divide egg white halves into three groups. One group is to remain uncolored, the remaining two are colored red and blue. Place half of the “colored” whites into blue coloring, the other half into the red coloring.  Allow white to soak about 3 minutes or until desired color is reached. Place white up-side-down (cut side down) on a paper towel to drain. While colored egg whites drain, make filling.

Mix/chop yolks until fluffy and are fine grade resembling bread crumbs. Add mayonnaise and mustard and mix until creamy. Mix in red wine vinegar one tablespoon at a time and season to taste.

Place 12 white halves on serving dish or egg platter. Select best of the halves.

Spoon filling mixture into a piping bag fitted with desired tip. (I like the larger star for deviled eggs), then pipe into egg white halves.

Tent with plastic wrap (using toothpicks for “tent poles” ) and chill well until ready to serve.


Cold Cut Roll-Ups
Roast Beef Roll-Ups:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons minced banana peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked roast beef

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cilantro, peppers and garlic. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of beef. Roll up tightly and wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate overnight.

Ham and Turkey Roll-Ups
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
4 teaspoons dill weed
1/2 pound thinly sliced fully cooked ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey

For ham and turkey rolls, in another bowl, combine the cream cheese, carrot, zucchini and dill. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of ham and turkey. Roll up tightly; wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate overnight.

Slice the roll-ups into 1-1/2-in. pieces. Yield: 6-7 dozen.


Panko-Parmesan Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Artichoke Hearts
1 (12 oz) jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained
¼ cup flour
Garlic powder, to taste
Sea salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup plain panko crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan, finely grated

Drain marinated artichoke hearts. Lay on a double layer of paper towels, top with another layer of paper towels. Press on them gently to squeeze any excess liquid out of them.The hearts need to be as dry as possible. If needed, change towels and continue to gently press out the excess liquid.

Place the flour in a bowl. Season to taste with garlic powder, sea salt and while pepper.

In another bowl, whisk the egg with a little vegetable oil.

In a third bowl, mix the panko and finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Dip each artichoke heart lightly into the flour mixture then in the egg mixture followed by the Panko-Parmesan mixture until completely coated.

Place the coated artichoke heart on small baking dish. Repeat with the remaining artichoke hearts until all the hearts are coated.

Place the plate of coated artichoke hearts unwrapped into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This resting period is important. By allowing breaded artichokes to chill in the refrigerator the coating will better adhere to the artichoke, thus preventing the coating from falling off during the frying process. While the artichoke hearts chill in the refrigerator, make the Aioli (recipe below)

To Cook: Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is HOT, add the artichokes a few at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan too much.

Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Carefully turn the artichokes over and continue to cook until golden brown.

Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a rack lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.

Lemon-Basil Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons basil, finely minced
1 Pinch Fresh Dill
1 Lemon, zested
Juice of 1 Lemon

Place basil and dill in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add lemon zest and pulse one or two times more just to incorporate without over-processing.

Transfer basil mixture to a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, minced garlic, and lemon juice together until well combined.

Add the basil mixture to the mayonnaise mixture. Whisk together, taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cover and place in the refrigerator until well chilled.

To Serve: Arrange artichoke hearts on a small serving platter. Spoon Lemon-Basil Aioli sauce into a small bowl. Serve platter of artichoke hearts along side sauce for dipping.


Garlic-Beer Marinated Chicken
(1) 11 oz beer or dark ale
3 tablespoons sesame seed oil
1 1/2 tablespoons roasted minced garlic (from a jar okay)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 lbs chicken thighs, bones and skin removed
2 limes, cut into wedges

In a bowl, whisk together beer and sesame oil. Add minced garlic, seasonings and spices. Whisk well.

Place thighs into a large zip-lock bag. Pour marinade over chicken. Turn bag several times to distribute the marinade. Place bag on a platter or casserole dish just in case bag might leak. Place into the refrigerator overnight, shooting for at least 12 hours of soaking. The longer the chicken percolates in the marinade, the deeper the flavor.

When ready to cook, remove chicken from the refrigerator and allow bag to lay flat on the counter for 30 minutes.

While meat comes to room temperature, build a nice bed of coals. Remove chicken from marinade and grill about 6 minutes per side. Move to upper warming rack, cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked through.

Transfer thighs to serving platter and garnish with lime wedges before serving.


Grilled Smoked Beef Sausage
2 Packages Hillshire Farms Smoked Beef Sausage
1 1/2 Cup Barbecue Sauce, any flavor

Heat small grill gas grill for direct cooking. Split sausages in half width-wise to create 2 halves. Split again lengthwise to open sausage. You will now have 8 “J” shaped sausages.

When grill is ready, place sausage haves on grill skin side up until nicely cooked. Turn, brush with barbecue sauce and continue to grill until heated through.

Serve with additional barbecue sausage if desired.


Basic Mini Burgers
2 lbs Ground Beef
2 tablespoons Hamburger Seasoning
12 mini hamburger buns
Lettuce
1 Large Tomato, sliced
1 small Red Onion, sliced
4 Cheddar Cheese slices, optional
Pickles
Ketchup
Mustard
Mayonnaise

In a bowl, combine ground beef with hamburger seasoning. Divide ground beef into twelve balls. Pat down into patties just slightly larger than buns.

Grill patties to desired doneness. Top with cheese and allow to melt before removing burgers from grill.

If desired, brush buns will a little olive oil and toast on the grill just before assembling burgers.

While the burgers are grilling, place a lettuce leaf on the bottom bun, top with tomato and a little red onion. Set bun bottoms aside until ready to use.

Once the cheese had melted on burgers, place patties on bottom bun. Top with top of bun. Arrange burgers on a platter and serve with condiments as desired.


Stuffed Pork Chops with Ancho Cornbread Stuffing

One beautiful Saturday afternoon, while strolling down the meat section of my local market, I saw the most awesome thick cut pork chops I had ever seen. These babies had to be nearly 2 inches thick, with a nicely trimmed fat edge on one side and a bone on the other. There were three of these beautiful chops in a package, market for “special” pricing. I can only surmise that a customer had ordered the extra-thick pork chops and then for whatever reason, decided against the purchase after the meat was cut.

Naturally, I could not resist – Hubby, Kiddo and I – three chops were the perfect number for our little family. We carefully packaged the chops for the freezer and there they sat until I could figure out just what to do with them.

I have a great recipe for pork chops baked on top of a spicy cornbread stuffing. It didn’t take long to realize how easily my recipe for Mexican Pork Chops with Ancho Chile Cornbread Stuffing could be adapted to create beautiful “stuffed” pork chops. I could hardly wait – yet wait we had to do. First there was Father’s Day with all the grilling, then came the heat wave, when no one dared to turn on an oven. Finally, the day came and I was ready to give stuffed pork chops a try.

Only a few minor adjustments needed to be made to my Mexican Pork Chop recipe. The pan used to sear the chops went from a non-stick skillet to an oven-safe grill pan. The casserole dish was done away with completely  – which was fine – less cleanup. The oven temperature was kicked up just a little. And the bake time needed to be monitored. After all, these were some mighty thick chops. As it turned out, with the increase in oven temperature, the thick stuffed chops cooked up in about the same amount of time as the original pork chop recipe. Not bad for “guessing”, especially timing the half-way point. This adaptation worked out well. Having never stuffed a pork chops, it was all guess-work. How hard could it be? Make stuffing, cut pockets in chops, stuff, close, sear and bake. Seemed simple enough. I am thrilled to say it was simple and so delicious!

While we only had three chops to stuff, the stuffing mixture could have easily accommodated a fourth pork chop. No need to adjust the recipe.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Ancho Cornbread Stuffing
1 Dried Ancho Chile*
Boiling Water
Chicken Stock as needed
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ Cup Onion, chopped
½ Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
3 Cups Cornbread Stuffing Mix (1 box Stove Top)
4 Bone-in Pork Chops, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper To Taste

Note: If you can’t find the Ancho Chili, use 2 teaspoons Ancho Chili powder and a pinch of red pepper flakes instead.

Butterfly pork chops from fat side to bone, creating a large “pocket” for the stuffing. To butterfly, place pork chops on a cutting board, bone side down, meat side up. Starting at the thickens part, closest to the “top” of the chop, slice down to the bone. Follow the bone the length of the chop, then press open. The bone should be exposed. Close chops until ready to stuff. Season chops with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Remove stem and most of the seeds from chili. Place chili in a small bowl, add just enough boiling water to cover chili. Let stand 10 minutes or until chili is softened. Remove chili from water, reserve water. Finely chop chili.

Heat oven to 375-degrees.

Spray a grilling pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place on burner over medium heat – you want the pan sizzling hot.

Dump cornbread stuffing into a large bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, chopped chili and bell pepper, cook and stir 2 minutes.  Add to the stuffing mix.

To reserved chili water add enough chicken stock to make 1 cup of liquid. Add liquid to stuffing mixture; mix well.

Spoon stuffing into prepared pork chops. Fill as much as possible without over stuffing. Pull chops closed and secure with toothpicks.

Grill chops in hot pan, about 5 minutes to create nice grill marks and sear outside. Gently turn chops over and sear other side.

Add about 1/3 cup of chicken stock to pan to create a “steaming” liquid. Cover pan well with foil and place in the oven.

Cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, check for doneness – you want the chops to be at about the half-way point. Turn chops over, add a little more chicken stock if necessary. Cover with foil and return to oven.

Continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until pork chops are cooked through.

To serve, plate chops on individual plates over a bed of skillet corn. Drizzle chops with pan drippings and serve.

Colorful Mexican Pepper Skillet Corn
1 Can Corn, drained
1/4 Cup Bell Pepper, chopped (red or orange)
2 tablespoons Jalapeño Pepper, chopped
2 Tablespoons Butter

Drain canned corn and place in a small bowl.

Core and chop bell pepper. (Baby peppers will work fine, adding a rainbow of color). Add chopped bell pepper to the bowl with the corn.

For the Jalapeño Peppers, either Nacho Jalapeño Peppers or whole roasted peppers can be used. Including the seeds will increase heat. If less heat is desired, use a fresh pepper, core and discard seeds before proceeding.

Chop Jalapeño Peppers and toss with corn mixture.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to foam. Add corn mixture sauté until heated through, about 6 minutes.

 

 

 

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Yum!

I’ve been spending time with the Ghosts of Posting Past – those early shares when Rosemarie’s Kitchen was new to the whole blogging scene. The best part of reading posts from the past is the nice reminder – we haven’t had that in a while . . . like these crunchy Double-Decker Tostadas from 2014. These tostadas have all the makings of  a Super Nacho Supper  you can hold in your hand without all the gooey mess. (Although there’s something to be said for gooey-goodness, now isn’t there?)

Double-Decker Tostadas
16 Tostada Shells
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Lb Chorizo
1 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning
1 Can Refried Beans
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings
1 Jar Nacho Cheese Sauce
24-32 Nacho Jalapeño Peppers (optional)
4-5 Lettuce leaves, shredded
1 Tomato, diced

Garnish Suggestions
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 or 2 Avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 Cup Sliced Black Olives
1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro Leaves

Warm oven. Place tostada shells on a baking sheet and warm in oven.

In a heavy cast iron skillet, brown ground beef and chorizo meat together, crumbling into small pieces as it brown. Season with taco seasoning to absorb some of the excess fat. Drain well, keep warm and set aside.

In a skillet, heat refried beans with bacon drippings until warm.

Divide refried beans between 8 tostada shells, spread beans on shells. Place remaining 8 tostada shells on top of beans. Spread a layer of nacho cheese on each top shell. Divide meat mixture between the 8 double-Decker tostada shells. Place 3 or 4 Nacho Jalapeño Pepper on top, if using.

Return tostadas to warm oven for 5 minutes.

Remove warmed tostadas from the oven. Dollop with sour cream. Sprinkle with shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Garnish as desired.

 

Three-Cheese Tortellini in Sage Browned Butter

Can you tell I’ve been in an Italy frame of mind lately? Tonight’s light yet delicious Tortellini Supper was the perfect end to a long work week. So light – so flavorful. I simply adore “browned butter” for that nutty flavor. There is something about browning the butter that brings a whole new level of flavor to everything.

I haven’t a clue where I picked up the original recipe for this perfect summer supper dish. There are a multitude of recipes floating about. The only change I’ve made from the one I had planned to use was to increase the sage leaves from 10 to 14. Originally I had increased it to twelve, but when it came time to toss in the pasta, the delicate leaves all but disappeared. Hum – needed another leaf or two. The aroma was pleasing, but something else was lacking. Garlic! I am a huge fan of garlic. As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as too much garlic. I must confess, in addition to the cloves of garlic I keep on hand, I also have a large jar of minced garlic in the fridge for moments just like this – when I want to toss in a little garlic but don’t really feel ambition enough to peel and chop the fresh stuff. Granted, fresh is always better, but lazy has its place as well.

The recipe is so versatile – great as a small portioned appetizer, as the “pasta” course in a multi-course Italian feast or as a light yet flavorful summer supper. It all depends upon your appetite and mood.

Yep, this butter-nutty-cheesy dish sure hit the spot.

Three-Cheese Tortellini in Sage Browned Butter
1 package Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini, family size (12 ounces)
8 tablespoons butter
10 leaves fresh sage
1 Tablespoon Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt(optional).

Cook tortellini according to the package directions (about 7 minutes). While the pasta cooks, cut sage leaves into small pieces and set aside until ready to use.

Melt the butter in a 12 -14 inch saute pan and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to turn golden. The heat from the pan will finish the browning process.

Scatter sage leaves into the pan as the butter continues to brown. Add garlic and gently stir to distribute sage and garlic into the butter. Let rest off heat for the flavors to mature.

Drain the tortellini and add to the butter and sage mixture. Return the pan to medium heat. Toss gently for 1 minute to coat the tortellini with the sauce. Divide tortellini among six warmed plates or shallow bowls, sprinkle with the grated cheese (and a little more sage if desired) and serve immediately. Enjoy!!

This dish is great with warm garlic bread and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. If desired, add a few sliced tomatoes seasoned with a little Rosemary as a colorful side.

 

Happy Father’s Day to my Wonderful Best Friend

It’s hard to believe I’ve had the privilege of sharing half my life with my best friend. We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the years, as all couples do. Through it all, our friendship has remained strong. Here’s to you, Hubby on this day reserved for men who step up to the plate and give it their all. Happy Father’s Day.

We’re having a wonderful day on the old home-front, enjoying some of hubby’s favorite dishes. He’s a real meat and potato kind of guy – a good steak and a baked potato is all it takes to keep Hubby happy . . .

Porterhouse Magic
1 Large Porterhouse Steak Per Person, about 1 ½ inches thick, 28-30 oz each
Salt to taste
Johnny Trigg Champion Meat Rub to taste

This first step is very important – buy your steaks the day of grilling and not a day sooner. Have a conversation with your butcher – ask him to cut your Porterhouse about 1 ½ thick. Tell him to give you steaks that he would have cut for his own family, with a generous side of filet and New York Strip on either side of the bone.

DO NOT put the steaks in the refrigerator. Open the package, sprinkle with salt on both sides. Then sprinkle with Meat Rub, pat into steaks. Allow the steaks to rest on the counter at lease an hour or two to draw in the salt with the rub.

Build a nice fire in the grill. Get it good and hot with a light covering of ash.

For medium – sear steaks for about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to warming rack of grill while searing less-done steaks.

For Medium-Rare – sear steak as above, skipping the transfer to warming rack of grill.

Return steaks to be cook medium back to main grill alongside those to be grilled medium-rare. Lower coals (or raise rack, depending upon grill type) and continue to grill with the lid closed for about 5-6 more minutes. Raise lid, flip steaks, then close grill and cook an additional 5 minutes. (The medium steaks are on the grill about 30 minutes total, the medium rare about 20 minutes).

Remove all the steaks from grill, place on a platter and tent to keep warm. Allow steaks to rest for about 5-10 minutes to regain their juices.

While the steaks are resting, it’s the perfect time to load up a baked potato with all your favorite toppings – butter, sour cream, chopped chives, salt and pepper to taste.

Place steaks on individual plates and drizzle with any juices that have accumulated on the platter.

Ready, set, enjoy! These are so flavorful, so tender and melt in your mouth good!

Old-Fashioned Baked Potatoes
4 Large Baking Potatoes, washed
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Butter
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Sour Cream
Chives
1/2 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
2-3 Slices Bacon, Fried Crisp & Crumbled

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

Wash potatoes, pat dry and rub skin with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Cut a small X in the middle of the potato on one side to allow steam to vent.

Place potatoes in the oven directly on the rack and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending upon size. (To see if the potatoes are cooked, remove largest potato from oven, and squeeze. Potatoes are done when there is no resistance.) Turn off heat, wrap potatoes in foil and leave potatoes in the oven until ready to serve.

While potatoes are baking, fry bacon crisp. Crumble and set aside.

To serve, unwrap potatoes most of the way, leaving foil on lower half. Press ends inward so potato “pops” open. Fluff potato with a fork, plate and serve with individual cups for garnishings: Butter, sour cream, chopped chives or green onions and bacon bits.

Have salt and pepper on the table for those who wish to use it.

The perfect side for Porterhouse Magic (above) or Grilling up a Tri-tip

For Hubby’s favorite cake, be sure to check out Happy Day Marbled Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

 

Butterfly Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

This is one of those recipes that has made several appearances on our meal planner, only to be pushed aside, opting instead for fast food, a night of left overs or cold sandwiches. For whatever the reason, the dish could not find its way from the planning stage to the execution process. Finally, I painted myself into a corner – two beautiful breasts wrapped in butcher paper sat it the refrigerator, along with fresh broccoli from the farmer’s market and a bright orange pepper. No excuses – no backing down.

Delicious! Easy and delicious! Hubby loved the rich sauce and even Kiddo ate his broccoli. Yeah, this is one dish we will serve again. It’s one of those yummy dishes that would do well at a potluck, too. Hope you give it a try soon – I promise, you won’t be sorry!

Butterfly Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
Flour for dredging.
1 (12 oz) Package Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Head Broccoli, cut into Florets
1 Orange Bell Pepper, seeded, sliced thin
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 (8 oz) Container Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook 10-15 minutes or until al dente (Firm to the Tooth/Bite). Drain.

Heat a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet.

Cut chicken into strips, dredge lightly in flour and brown in the skillet until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes per side, turning as needed. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

To now empty skillet, add chicken broth, bell pepper, garlic, broccoli, salt and pepper. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and add chicken. Cover and let simmer 8-10 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Stir in cream cheese until smooth. Add pasta to sauce. Toss to coat evenly and heated through.

Pour mixture onto large rimmed serving platter. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese and serve.

Super Easy Citrus Tequila Flank Steak

Are you having a lazy weekend? Lord knows, we are! For supper last night I wanted to whip up something packed with flavor without a great deal of effort.  Last weekend was a whirl wind of cooking. While the food was awesome and I love spending time in the kitchen with my wonderful crew (aka Hubby and Kiddo), it was time to slow down a bit.

While at the market, I came across a convenient package of liquid marinade in the spice aisle. Although the package was clearly marked “for chicken”something told me it might be equally nice with Flank Steak. Follow your instincts – that’s always been my motto. Most of the time, its sound advice. Rarely do my instincts fail me – especially in the kitchen. My guys loved the marinated Flank Steak, without bite one left over. I loved the easy of preparation. And the flavor – wow! Lime, orange and lemon juice – the predominate sensation being the lime.

We grilled up the steak as one big slap of meat. It was delicious. The marinated meat would also be great to grill up as flank steak kabobs with boiler onions and chunks of red or yellow peppers.

Super Easy Citrus Tequila Flank Steak
2 lbs Flank Steak
1 Package Frontera 3-Citrus Garlic Marinade
3 Tablespoons Tequila
Zest of 1 lime

In a glass casserole dish or other non-reactive container, lay out the flank steak flat.

In a small bowl, empty contents of liquid Marinade. Add tequila, whip to blend. Add zest of 1 lime.

Pour marinade over steak. Turn and coat well on both sides. Cover dish with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or longer for deeper flavor. The steak will begin to “cook” in the citrus juice, and that’s okay.

Heat grill to medium-high heat.

While grill heats, remove steak from the refrigerator and let rest on counter to take the “chill” off the meat.

Remove from marinade, discard marinade.

Grill Flank Steak for about 6 minutes per side. Remember, flank steak can become tough if over cooked, so medium-rare is best.

Remove from grill, tent and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Cut into nice size strips against the grain and serve. If desired, serve with lime wedges for garnish.

Excellent with a big helping of Super Easy Refried BeansMexican Rice with Chunky Salsa and warm tortillas on the side.