Smokin’ Cowboy Rib-Eye Steak with Spicy Onion Rings

Many, many year ago, Hubby and I took a road trip, just the two of us, to New Mexico. I can’t remember the last time a road trip, or any vacation for that matter, didn’t include Kiddo. This was one of those “we are a couple, right?” kind of trips. Just the two of us, doing whatever we pleased. While in Santa Fe, we had an unforgettable steak dinner at Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe. Hubby and I both adore spicy foods, and New Mexican cuisine is out-of-this-world delicious. You haven’t truly experienced heat on a plate until you’ve dined in New Mexico!

A year or so later, Coyote Cafe opened a restaurant in Las Vegas. In the middle of the glitzy MGM Grand stood a New Mexican adobe building with high ceilings, traditional wooden vigas and Terra-cotta walls. Owner Mark Miller has duplicated his Santa Fe restaurant and its signature modern Southwestern cuisine smack dab in the middle of a casino. Needless to say, Hubby and I wasted no time making a reservation for dinner as soon as possible. Much to our delight, the food was perfect – just as we had remembered it to be in Santa Fe.

Unfortunately, Las Vegas is a glittery tourist destination, and not necessarily a culinary one. Within six months, the awesome steak with butt-kicking heat and spicy deep fried onion rings had been altered to tone down its sizzle. Diners, unfamiliar with New Mexican cooking, had complained about the amount of spice. Others, more familiar with Chef Miller’s knowledge of and passion for all kinds of peppers, left the Las Vegas restaurant scratching their heads – what had happened?  The establishment, last I heard, has closed its doors. That is a shame.

This recipe is one I clipped a while back as a way of savoring that perfect Mark Miller Santa Fe steak supper. I’ve made a few alterations, based on ingredients more abundant where we live. Just as soon as we get settled in the new place, Hubby and I are going to grill up these awesome spice-rubbed steaks as a way of saying “We’re home”. Can’t wait!

Smokin’ Cowboy Rib-Eye Steak with Spicy Onion Rings
Spice Rub for Steak
1⁄4 cup smoked paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1⁄2 tablespoons ground Hot Mexican Style Chili Powder
1 1⁄2 tablespoons ground dried Poblano Chili
1 1⁄2 tablespoons ground chipotle Chili
1 1⁄2 tablespoons sugar
4  16-oz. bone-in rib-eye steaks

In a medium bowl, whisk together smoked paprika, salt, ground chilies, and sugar. Put steaks on a parchment-lined baking sheet; rub with the chili mixture. Refrigerate steaks overnight.

Build a medium-hot fire with mesquite charcoal. Make sure grate is clean and lightly oiled.

Grill steaks, turning once, until medium rare, about 12 minutes. Serve with onion rings.

Spicy Onion Rings
1 small yellow onion, cut crosswise into 1⁄8″-thick rings
1 cup milk
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon Hot Mexican Style chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon White Pepper
Peanut oil for frying

Cut onion into thin rings. Place rings in a bowl of milk and let soak for 20 minutes. While the rings are soaking, pour Peanut oil into a 4-quart saucepan to a depth of 2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk flour with seasonings and spices. Set aside until ready to use.

Working in batches, lift onion rings from the milk, shaking off any excess milk. Toss rings into the seasoned flour to coat, then drop rings into the hot oil. Fry onions until crisp, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove rings, drain on paper towels. Set aside until ready to serve with steak.

Rings can be placed on the side, or piled on top of the steak when serving.

Original Recipe:

Lemon-Rosemary Grilled Chicken

These wonderful Lemony Chicken Breasts come to us via Christina over at It’s A Keeper. She got the recipe from Cook’s Country Magazine. No doubt, Christina is a woman after my own heart, scoring cookbooks, clipping, and Food-Oriented magazines for new and exciting recipes to try and share with the rest of the world. After all, isn’t that why we write about foods and why we read what others have written?

We’ve made this a few times now. The grilled lemon adds so much depth and flavor, it’s unbelievable. Be sure, especially when grilling skinless breasts, to start with a clean grill grate that has been oiled. This will prevent the chicken from sticking since it has no fat to protect it from the fire. Another trick to grilling a nice breast is to build your coals for a two-stage grilling process. That is to spread the hot coals on one side of the grill. Should the chicken brown before the meat is fully cooked, simple move the breasts to the cooler side of the grill. Chicken breasts do best when cooked at a grilling temperature of about 375-450 degrees. This will give the breasts that nice golden-brown exterior without drying out the meat.

Lemon-Rosemary Grilled Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon salt, for dry brine
1 lemon, halved
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Start with chicken breasts that have been made even. Place breasts in a zip-lock bag and flatten meat to an even thickness using either a heavy skilled (such as a cast-iron) or a meat mallet. Once the chicken is flattened (about 3/4 inch thick all the way around), remove from bag and pat dry. Salt breasts and let rest on the counter on a rack placed over a baking sheet. This will allow the air to circulate around the breasts and the salt to do its thing, breaking down some of the proteins to ensure a tender, moist grilled piece of meat. The breast should rest for about 30-minutes. (This is about the same amount of time it will take to build your fire – how convenient!)

Once your coals are ready, grill lemons, cut side down, over the hot fire until deep brown and caramelized, about 5-8 minutes.

Squeeze 3 tablespoons juice from grilled lemons into medium bowl.  Stir in mustard, rosemary, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified; reserve 1/3 cup.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Brush chicken with remaining dressing and grill over coals until well browned and cooked through. (Be sure to get those beautiful grill marks for an extra special presentation). The breast should take about 6 minutes per side. If the chicken is browning too fast, move breasts to the cooler side of the grill to continue cooking without drying them out.

Remove chicken from grill, plate with grilled lemons and a few sprigs of Rosemary for a nice presentation.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Green Chimichurri Sauce Revisited

I’ve been sifting through my seemingly endless assortment of recipes. As I’ve mentioned before, Hubby has a birthday coming up. Less than a month to get my ducks in a row and settle on the perfect menu – from appetizers to desserts. One of the things I love about this sort of intense planning is that you discover dishes from the past, and fondly remember how delicious these forgotten gems were.

I’ve shared the Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce before – way back in May 2015. It’s been a while since both the share and the last time we’ve made this dish. Shortly after my original posting, we had dinner with family and my brother-in-law served his grilled steaks with Chimichurri sauce. What a coincidence!

Chimichurri Sauce in a condiment sauce from Argentina that is used on grilled meats, much like the way Americans use A-1 Steak sauce on a T-Bone, except this sauce has more versatility. Chimichurri Sauce is not just reserved for steaks or grilled red meats. It can also accompany grilled chicken, pork or even as a side to grilled fish such as Sword Fish Steaks.

Typically Chimichurri is made from finely chopped parsley, oregano, minced garlic, olive oil and white vinegar. In Latin Countries outside Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, the dominant flavor comes from the use of chopped coriander leaves, more commonly known as Cilantro. Although usually served in its green form, like Enchilada Sauce, it does have a red version. Bobby Fey of the Food Network fame has a wonderful spin using skirt steak served with both the green (as a marinade) and red sauces (as a finishing sauce). Like so many dishes floating about, there are a variety of takes on what makes a Chimichurri recipe “authentic”. In my opinion, they are all authentic – be it to a country, a region, a city or a particular family. Chimichurri is something that has been around for hundreds of years, so who is to say what constitutes an original, authentic recipe?

Like the recipe, how one serves and consumes their Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce varies. While I enjoyed mine as a thinly sliced steak, Hubby and Kiddo wrapped theirs in warm tortillas, with more sauce and a dash of sour cream. Kiddo adds crumbled Feta to his wrap. Bottom line is that this dish is easy to make and a joy to eat.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Green Chimichurri Sauce
Ingredients: Flat Iron Steak
1 Flat Iron Steak, about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds
1 Tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning

Ingredients – Chimichurri Sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves (about 1 cup before chopping)
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves (about 1 cup before chopping)
2 Tablespoons Roasted minced garlic
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Teaspoons White or Red wine vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil

Take the steak out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking, rub with steak rub, and let it come to room temperature.

Wash cilantro leaves and parsley leaves and dry with paper towel or spin dry in salad spinner. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, finely chop the cilantro, parsley, and garlic.  Transfer mixture to a glass bowl.

Add lemon juice, wine vinegar, and seasonings. Whisk to combine.  Slowly whisk in olive oil. Let sauce stand at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes for flavors to marry. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Build a fire in the charcoal grill, heating grill to medium-high heat. Clean grate and wipe with a little oil to prevent steak from sticking.

Place Flat Iron Steak on the grill at an angle. After about 3-4 minutes, or when nice grill marks start to form, rotate steak 45 degrees using tongs and continue to grill for about 3-4 minutes more on first side.

Flip steak over, again at angle and repeat grilling on second side. Continue to grill until cooked to your liking. Flat Iron Steak should be cooked no more than medium rare, for about 12 minutes, depending upon thickness of the cut.

When steak is done to your liking, remove from grill, tend and let rest for 5 minutes to allow juices to settle. Slice steak thinly across the grain. Serve hot, with Chimichurri sauce drizzled down the center. Serve remaining sauce on the side to add as desired.

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.


Spice Rubbed Barbecue Game Hens

We had games hens on the meal planner this week. I had planned to make Portuguese Grilled Chili Basted Game Hens, a family favorite that was long over due. Step one: buy the game hens. Check. Step two: thaw hens in the refrigerator early in the week. Check. Step three: marinate game hens 48 hours prior to grilling. Missed that step. Okay, how about 24 hours? Nope, got side tracked yet again. Eight hours? Not happening. Yet there they were – these beautiful game hens thawing in the refrigerator, just waiting to be cooked. I could hear them calling to me. Get creative. We deserve something out of the ordinary. And the hens were right, I really didn’t want to make any of my standard roasted game hen recipes no matter how delicious those recipes might be. It was far too warm a day to have the oven puffing away at 400 degrees for several hours. Nope, we were cooking outside. Sunday afternoon rolled around and it was time to punt.

These hens were packed with flavor and so moist – it was incredible. The smokey flavor of the grill, the spice of the rub, the heavy slathering of barbecue sauce – all these things came together in perfect harmony. What a great Sunday Supper whipped up on a whim.

Spice Rubbed Barbecue Game Hens
2 Game Hens
3 tablespoons Mesquite Seasoning
2 tablespoons New Mexico Chili Seasoning
2 tablespoons Barbecue Seasoning
2 Cups Barbecue Sauce

Remove backbone from game hens. Turn birds over and remove breast bone. Snip wings from breast meat. Discard wings (or freeze for chicken stock). Remove breast from leg/thigh meat. You should have four pieces of meat per hen (two breasts, two dark meat quarters). Rinse well and pat dry.

Mix seasonings in a small bowl. Rub chicken with spices, rubbing both under the skin as well as the skin. Place chicken in a baking dish and let rest on the counter while grill is prepared. (About 30 minutes should do the trick to let the flavors marry and the chicken come to room temperature for even grilling).

Build a fire with a nice pile of hot coals for both direct and indirect grilling.

Grill chicken over hot coals about five minutes per side to sear. Move to indirect heat, close lid and let chicken smoke for about twenty minutes. Turn chicken over and continue to grill about ten minutes longer. White meat will cook faster than dark meat. Check breasts after about 15 minutes and if necessary place on upper rack to prevent meat from drying out.

Pour barbecue sauce into a microwaveable glass bowl. Baste chicken generously with barbecue sauce. Let cook five more minutes, turn and mop with more sauce. Let cook for five minutes.

Remove chicken from grill. Tent chicken to keep warm. Heat any remaining barbecue sauce in the microwave for about 90 seconds. Serve warm sauce  along side hens. Have plenty of napkins handy.

Barbecue Chicken and Vegetable Foil Wraps Two Ways

The beauty of these moist barbecued Chicken Breasts (besides cooking up with the veggies) is that you can grill or bake your little packages of flavorful delights. The prep work is minimal, a little chopping, slapping on the sauce and folding the foil packets. Then it’s just a matter of cooking indoors or out.

grill-panTalk about easy clean up! A cutting board, a grill pan, a knife and some dinner plates to rinse. What could be easier?

If you don’t own a grill pan, it’s a worthwhile investment. Food cooks up nicely, with beautiful markings. Great for all sorts of things such as grilled sausage, vegetables and just about anything that needs markings. The beauty of a grill pan is that you need not worry about food falling through the grill and into the fire. I love my pan.


Barbecue Chicken and Vegetable Foil Wraps Two Ways
8 aluminum foil sheets large enough to wrap around one chicken breast with Vegetables
4 (4-ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2-cup barbecue sauce (use your favorite)
1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
1 red, green or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
8 asparagus spears
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil

For each foil pack, prepare two sheets of aluminum foil; place the sheets one on top of the other for durability.

Heat Grill Pan over medium heat. Lightly oil pan to prevent food from sticking. Grill vegetables for a few minutes, just enough to sear vegetables and give them some nice grill marks. Set aside until ready to use.

Brush Grill Pan with a little more olive oil. Sear and mark chicken for that nice presentation.

Place one chicken breast on each stacked pair of foil sheets; season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Brush each chicken breast with 1 to 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce.

Divide equally and arrange vegetables around each chicken breast; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle chicken and vegetables with little olive oil.

Fold the sides of the foil over the chicken, covering completely; seal the packets closed. While chicken cooks, heat barbecue sauce over low heat to serve with finished packets. When ready to serve; place warm barbecue sauce in a small bowl and serve with chicken for additional sauce as desired.

To Cook on a Grill:
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Transfer foil packets to the preheated grill rack and cook for 30 minutes, or until done, turning once.

Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes. Open packets at one corner to create a small spout. Drain excess liquid, seal shut.

Serve while still wrapped in foil.

To Cook in the Oven:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer foil packets to a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until done.

Remove from oven and let stand few minutes.  Open packets at one corner to create a small spout. Drain excess liquid, seal shut.

Serve while still wrapped in foil.

Crock Pot Barbecue Baby Back Pork Ribs

I don’t care how you cook up ribs – slow smoked; boiled before grilling, slow baked and finished over a nice charcoal or wood fire, or in this case slow cooked in a crock pot, the ribs MUST be trimmed. Most of the packages of ribs have already been trimmed of excess fat, the skirt steak removed and they look like they are ready to cook. Look again, on the back side (bony side) and you will see that shiny silver membrane. That has got to go. No two ways about it.

There’s debate in the barbecue world about whether this is even worth doing: Some people say the membrane inhibits smoke penetration, but not by much – if at all. The biggest advantage of removing it comes down to creating a better eating experience. Once cooked, the membrane can become papery, and while totally edible, texture isn’t very pleasing. What is the point of eating if the experience is unpleasant?

I used to dread this part of trimming ribs. It was the most difficult part of the process. And generally speaking, I was gouging the meat, making a complete mess of the back side of my ribs. That is until I learned a little trick recently that made it so easy. Slip a sharp knife under the membrane right about in the center of the rack of ribs. Carefully cut along, giving a little “lift” in either direction. This is your starting point and you need to only work the “magic” half way in one direction, then half way in the other. Basically, cutting the work into manageable pieced. Work your fingers under the membrane, lifting and moving until you have something to take hold of. Now, with a paper towel to help grip the slippery membrane, lift and pull from the center “slice” to the end. It should come off in one large piece. Repeat again in the opposite direction. There you go, nicely trimmed ribs ready for whatever cooking method you have in mind.


Let’s get this Crock Pot going . . . The finished ribs will be falling clean off the bone!

Crock Pot Barbecue Baby Back Pork Ribs
2 slabs of baby back pork ribs
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 Large Sweet onion
2 apples – Red Delicious or other sweet apple
1 jar Barbecue sauce

Slice each slab of ribs in half, season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to cook.

Slice the onion and the apples into large chunks. Lay a few chunks of onion and apple in the bottom of the crock pot. Place a slap of ribs over onion-apple layer. Pour a little barbecue sauce over ribs.

Place a second layer of onion-apple over ribs, a second slab of ribs on top with a little barbecue sauce.

Repeat the layering process until all the ribs are in the pot, and finish with a layer of onion-apple and barbecue sauce.

Set cooker to low heat and let cook for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve with Northern-Style Sweet Corn Bread.