Category Archives: Sides

Make Your Own BBQ Sauce

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As summer begins to wind down and football season begins, I’ve had a hankering for some great BBQ wings. Since I live in the desert and it’s still around 95 degrees, I want something tangy, but not too spicy. I want something thick and sweet, but garlicky and balanced.

I have tried to make my own before, but it never came out as well as when I doctored an already made sauce. A few weeks ago, I rampaged my market’s BBQ section in search of something new to try. Surely there had to be a sauce I could use out of the bottle and didn’t have to put such effort into. Well, I didn’t find it.

Undeterred, I decided to make my own. I chose not to go first to the internet or any of my recipe books, sure that I could create something I may not have thought of if I followed some other recipe.

Armed with a bottle of ketchup, some minced garlic and whatever was in my pantry and fridge, I set out on my quest. I have to say I love what resulted. I hope you love it as much as I do. Who knows, maybe your doctoring of this sauce will give you something personal and perfect and you’ll stop reaching for those bottles at the grocery.

Ingredients:
1C Ketchup
2TBSP Honey
1/4C Brown Sugar
2tsp Key Lime Habanero Sauce
3/4tsp Chili Sauce
1tsp Smoked Paprika
1tsp Onion Powder
1TBSP Minced Garlic
1/4tsp Ground Mustard
1TBSP Liquid Smoke (Hickory flavor)
1TBSP Butter
1/8C Molasses
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1. Put all ingredients directly into a saucepan and whisk to combine.
2. Heat first on low until everything is combined and warmed through. Continue whisking every 45 seconds or so to keep sauce from sticking or burning.
3. Turn heat to med/med-low and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Sauce will thicken slightly. You really just want everything to heat and meld and for the flavors to develop. You’re not reducing or really cooking, just heating and developing.
4. Taste the sauce at about 5 minutes. If you want to add heat or sweetness now is the time. Once you are satisfied with the flavor, turn to med-high and heat until sauce begins bubbling and caramelizing as shown below.
5. Now just sauce them! This sauce will cover about 15-20 small drumettes, or 10 regular size drumettes. ENJOY!!!

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Not Your Mom’s Brussel Sprouts

IMG_5503I remember it like yesterday…. My mother poured brussel sprouts out of a freezer bag and into a steamer. She piled up a short stack next to my mashed potatoes and chicken. I remember digging in- to everything except the sprouts. I tried to drown them in mashed potatoes, but it didn’t always hide the hideous flavor.

Well, here I am 25+ years later and loving sprouts! I decided to try them, as usual, after watching numerous chefs use them in cooking shows. The first day I tried them, my husband was traveling. I was looking for something new to try and they had fresh sprouts in the produce section. I decided to buy enough to try a couple different ways.

At home, I cut my sprouts in half, or quarters for larger ones, and tossed them all in olive oil, salt and pepper. I put half in the oven and the rest in a sauté pan on the stove top. They seemed to take much longer in the oven than most of the veggies I roast, so I’ve just been cooking them stove top style. Either way, they were super delicious. I couldn’t believe I was eating brussel sprouts and loving them! What’s more, when my hubby came home I fed them to him and HE loved them.

I am always looking for great veggies to add to my repertoire. We are steak and potatoes people, but I make sure we have a veggie on the side. Brussel Sprouts don’t cost a ton of money. They are simple to cooking don’t take a lot of time or seasoning. It’s also easier to find fresh sprouts in the produce section, which allows you to hand pick the ones you want. I can get a bunch of tiny ones or fewer super large ones. As someone who’s admittedly OCD I like picking my own vegetables and not relying on a bag, when feasible.

So, here’s how I make my brussel sprouts. They’re making a serious veggie come back, and I hope you take a risk and give them a chance.

Just slice off brown bottoms and remove any bad leaves.

Just slice off brown bottoms and remove any bad leaves.

1. Examine fresh brussel sprouts for any worm holes or rotting at the bottom. Cut off stem area and remove any leaves that are not good.
2. Cut small sprouts in half and large sprouts in quarters so they are all about the same size and can cook at the same time.

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3. Put sprouts in a bowl. Drizzle with your favorite salt and pepper. I typically use kosher salt, but if you have sea salt, smoked sea salt, Fleur de Sel or any other kind, use it!
4. Drizzle a sauté pan with olive oil or spray a nonstick pan with olive oil flavored nonstick spray. You can also drizzle lightly with olive oil, but it’s already on the sprouts. Using a sauté pan is easy, but I like to use a grill pan. It makes great marks and is quick cleaning. Cook over medium heat.
5. Once you have a nice char on one side, regardless which type of pan you use, flip the sprouts. Cook on the other side. About 4-6 minutes per side. Remove and serve.

**Feel free to try these in the oven. Cut and season like above, and heat oven to 425 and roasting for about 15 minutes. Check and flip if not finished. Continue cooking until done. You can test them with a fork. They will still be sturdy, but able to pierce with a fork, just like carrots or broccoli or any other veggie you might roast.**

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I absolutely love green veggies with steak. First I only did broccoli, then, I found asparagus and fell head over heels. I actually grill and eat asparagus, on average, 3 times a week. I’m kind of addicted. Now that I’ve found brussel sprouts, though, they’ve kind of become my favorite for steak. I like their sturdiness. I think they hold up well and provide a heartiness and stiffness as well as an earthiness that other veggies may lack once cooked. I also think their flavor is such that they allow the meat to shine. I’m not even going to get into the iron and vitamins they contain.

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These are a tasty accompaniment to a beef or chicken or meaty fish. I really hope you give them a chance. Enjoy!

Shrimp Ceviche

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For this dish I stepped, what I thought, was just outside of my comfort zone. Turns out, this dish was super easy and took as much time as it does to chop a salad.

If you’ve been following me, I’ve been working on some light and low calorie meals for my hubby. For Father’s Day I was planning on breaking several of his dietary requests, just for the day, so, somewhere I wanted to be judiciary. I finally settled on a small multi-course meal, and this dish was my opener.

Ceviche, at its base, is raw seafood cooked with citrus juices and accented by hot sauce. Often you’ll see the addition of cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, avocado, onions and other veggies and seasoning. It originates in Central and South America. When making this dish, take care in your prep. You are dealing with raw fish. There are many preparations of this dish with various seafood, veggies and seasonings. Here’s how I made mine.

Ingredients:
12 raw peeled & deveined shrimp
1/2 C lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 C (2 limes)
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 Avocado, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste, optional
Chili Sauce, optional
Salt

Directions:
(Decide how big you want your pieces. You can leave your shrimp whole and your veggies larger, or chop everything smaller. Except the red onion, just chop everything to a similar size.)

1. Chop shrimp and place in a non-reactive bowl. This means it won’t react to the acid in the citrus. A glass bowl will be fine. Add lemon and lime juice, pinch of salt and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hrs.
2. Chop onion, avocado, tomatoes, and cucumber. Add to shrimp along with red pepper flakes. Toss again. If shrimp are “cooked” you may serve. Mine weren’t completely finished. How can you tell? The “cooked” shrimp will be red and white, while raw shrimp will be a grayish or bluish color. If its not finish, toss well and put it back in the fridge until done.
3. Serve. I served mine in a bed of arugula drizzled with the juice from the ceviche. Instead of incorporating my chili sauce, I dotted it around the plate and added a few sautéed scallops.

It’s easy to make this dish your own. Add other veggies, make it as spicy (or non-spicy) as you’d like. I also like thinly sliced daikon (white radish). It’s a mild flavor with a great crunch. Try serving it with crackers, in a lettuce wrap or hollow out a cucumber and load it up.

This dish proved to be super refreshing and light, and the perfect way to start our meal. It also makes a meal by itself, or a healthy snack. Enjoy!

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Grilled Chicken Caprese Rotini

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Welcome Back to Audrey’s Kitchen. It seems like forever, but I’m slowly working my way back. Being a new mom with a three month old one of my dinner requirements has become something quick. Unfortunately, that tends to mean not very healthy. Well, that’s out the door because my husband is doing the Insanity workout and I’m breast feeding, so whatever I eat, my baby eats. Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been addicted to kettle corn lately, and ice cream, so when it comes to meals I try to do better.

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For dinner tonight I made something tasty, simple, quick, amendable and healthy. It begins with pre-cooked grilled chicken and ends with fresh store bought herbs. Here’s how I made my Grilled Chicken Caprese Rotini.

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Ingredients:
Cooked Whole Grain Rotini Pasta
3 oz Mozerella, med. dice
2 Small Tomatoes, med. dice
2 Grilled Chicken Breasts, sliced
1/8 C Basil & Oregano, chopped

Directions: Mix it all together! Told ya it was simple.

This recipe will feed 2 people for dinner or easily 3 with one more piece of chicken. I used pre-cooked frozen grilled chicken from a bag that was store bought. You can easily grill your own or bake it. We kept this low calorie by not adding any sauce, but be sure to season your pasta water with salt. You can also add salt and pepper, tomato sauce or pesto. You can definitely use dried herbs in place of fresh, just remember to use much less, maybe 1/2-1 TBSP of each.

This makes a great, fast dinner dish with the chicken taking the longest to cook at under 20 minutes. Of course, that’s if you use the ready made chicken, but even raw it’s no more than 35 minutes. This also makes a great party dish. Remove the chicken and add Italian or balsamic dressing.

I can definitely see keeping a cold version of this in the fridge on hand for those quick lunch times or snacks when the baby is napping and I need to refuel. I hope you find a use for it as well. Be on the lookout for more great recipes and ENJOY!

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Ultimate Fries

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Every once in a while you want something simple, fast, and categorized as utter food porn. A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip to Knotts Berry Farm. Tiny park, but some I the most awesome roller coasters I’ve ever ridden. For lunch, we stopped in Fiesta Village at this place called Papa Loca. They sell nothing but fries. FRIES, FRIES, FRIES! This place has combinations that would blow your mind. My husband is a fry fan like no one I’ve ever met. So, after walking the park numerous times, I finally agreed to eat here. His eyes lit up like a kid at a carnival, and he started going back and forth about which one to get. Finally, he reasoned that I should get one and he would get this one, because clearly they were the two best.

Neither of us have been able to get those fries out of our minds. Well, my husband has been working extra hard at work this week, so I decided to surprise him for dinner.

These fries are open to so many possibilities. It starts by using any fries you like and adding any topping you want, but, since one of our favorites that day were the chili cheese fries with steak, that’s what I went for. My other goal with these fries was to make them easy. I’ve been battling a cold since last weekend, and, though the fever broke, I’m still pretty tired, and most of my energy has been spent catching up on housework and our very energetic dogs. However you make your fries, make it simple. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

1 LB Chuck Steak, or ground beef
Marinade: 2 TBSP Steak Seasoning, 1/4 C Worcestershire Sauce, 1 TBSP Liquid Smoke, 2 Bay Leaves, 1/2 TBSP Garlic Powder, 1/2 Yellow Onion (thinly sliced).
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Black Beans
1 pk Chili Seasoning
1 Can Nacho Cheese
1-2 C Arugula
1 Tomato, med dice
2 TBSP Onion, small dice
1 Green Onion, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 LB French Fries, cooked and seasoned

1. Make the marinade in a sealable plastic bag and add the steak. Seal the bag and rub the marinade into the steak. Pop it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Pull it out and allow it to come to room temp before cooking, about 20-30 minutes. (This will allow the meat to relax, and it will be much more tender when you cook it.)
2. Heat a pan on med heat and add a few TBSP of oil. Once the pan is hot, remove the steak from the bag and lay it in the pan. Cook it to your desired temp. Try to get a nice browning on both sides. Don’t worry if the onions get in the way. You can discard them once you’ve cooked the meat. When finished, remove the steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest while you prepare everything else. Slice it into thin strips to layer it.

Fits perfectly in my dutch oven, and the high sides keep oil from splattering everywhere.

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Thinly sliced so it’s easy to eat with everything else. Medium or well, however you or your guests like it.

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3. Begin working on your other toppings. In a pot, empty your cans of beans and tomatoes, with the liquid. Bring to a boil, then, add the chili seasoning and reduce to a simmer. Cook at least 10 minutes, but don’t worry if it goes longer. It’ll be fine, just turn it to low when you’re finished and stir occasionally.

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4. Meanwhile, you can empty your can of cheese into a small pot or microwaveable bowl and heat it any way you want. If you’re heating it on the stove top, keep the heat on low and stir it often. If microwaving, keep the timer to 30 seconds to begin with, stirring completely after every rotation. Lower the timer as it begins to heat through, like melting chocolate.
5. Prep your ingredients in an assembly line and let everyone make their own or stack it the way you think best. I stacked mine by starting with the fries first, then the arugula, chili, steak, yellow onions, cheese, tomatoes and green onions.

I know the arugula sounds weird, but it definitely adds a great texture in the layers and a pepperiness. The fresh onions and tomatoes just add a lightness and brightness to the dish and it doesn’t seem as heavy with the chili and processed cheese. I added a bit of cracked black pepper to the fries along with some kosher salt as they came out of the oven, but you can also add seasoning salt or Cajun seasoning, or a little chili pepper, or whatever else you like.

The best thing about these fries is that they’re totally customizable. You can make your special chili or homemade cheese sauce, you can use avocado and steak to lighten it instead of chili and cheese. You can use hamburger instead of steak. You can make it meatless for that vegetarian option. Add bacon, chicken, or shrimp or use my homemade tortilla chip recipe.

This is perfect for game day get togethers or tailgating parties. It’s even something different for potlucks, and has everything kids and men love! However, you make these… MAKE THESE, and Enjoy!

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Do-It-Yourself Sweet or Salty Tortilla Chips

I love these chips because, like most of the foods I try to publish, they are super simple. I have seen so many people make variations of these, and I finally decided, I have to try them. I did, and they were wonderful! Make them any shape you like, dust them with any spice that suits you, but MAKE THEM. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

  • 6″ Corn Tortillas (Each tortilla makes 4 triangles)
  • Oil for frying (I use peanut oil)
  1. Heat Oil to 360˚F. You can use a deep fryer, but I use a small pot with about 4 inches of oil.
  2. Slice tortillas vertically and horizontally, like slicing a pizza.
  3. Once the oil is hot, drop in the tortillas, 4 at a time. If using a pot, you may have to flip them. Watch for browning along the edges. It takes about 30 seconds per side. Remove them to a paper towel.
  4. While they are still hot, sprinkle them with your spice mixture. For nachos, or regular tortilla chips, I like to simply use kosher salt. For dessert nachos, I like using a salt and sugar mixture. You can sprinkle them by hand if using spices, or you can put your spice mix in a small paper sandwich bag. Drop in your chips and shake in the bag to coat.
  5. Remove them and set to the side. Repeat with each batch.
  6. Serve however you like. These are great with salsas, dips, spreads, you name it. They make great thick chips. Try them with cinnamon and sugar to make some awesome Dessert Nachos.

With sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmmmmm.

BBQ Chicken Nachos

These nachos are super easy and super quick, especially with my shortcut. What is this shortcut? Precooked chicken. I like to make these with the chicken I use for my chicken stock. You can also use a rotisserie chicken. Here’s how I do it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Chicken, precooked
  • Tortilla Chips (Try my recipe)
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Shredded or Nacho Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Green Onions
  • **You can use any nacho ingredients you want. They’re your nachos!
  1. Prep the chicken. It’s messy, but simple. Just peel off the skin and pull the meat off the bone. Shred it with your hands or two forks. Mix the chicken with your favorite BBQ Sauce. My favorite sauce is Sweet Baby Rays. I like to use the original and spice it up according to what I’m having, but you can go with the Hickory and Brown Sugar or Sweet Vadalia Onion flavors and you don’t have to add a thing.
  2. Layer your nachos. Start with the chips, top with the chicken, then layer the rest as you see fit. Now Enjoy! Was that easy or what?!

Hasselback Potatoes

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My husband loves baked potatoes. I love potatoes in general, but I like to do different things with them. I made BBQ ribs for dinner, and wanted to make potatoes, but I knew my hubby would ask for baked potatoes. Ugh, not again!

Then, I remembered the time we spent in Europe and a potato there called the Hasselback Potato. These potatoes originated in Stockholm, Sweden. They are super simple, look super fancy, and taste super yummy. Here’s what you need.

Ingredients
Potatoes
Olive Oil
Butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

You can use any potato you wish. Use a large baking potato, red potatoes, baby new potatoes, Idaho potatoes, anything works for this recipe. I used Baby New potatoes this time just because they are starting to get a little soft so I wanted to use them up. I left mine with the peel on, but you can peel it if you like.

To get the amazing cut this potato is known for, you can do a few things. Some people use chop sticks on either side of the potato and slice down to the stick. It keeps you from cutting through the potato completely.

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My favorite is to place your potato in the bowl of a wooden spoon. Slice down to the spoon. I think the potato stays in the spoon better, especially when you are using smaller potatoes.

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Either way, you’re looking for a potato that isn’t sliced all the way through. Be sure on the very ends, you don’t slice too far as it may not reach the guide you’re using.

I happen to love garlic. This is optional, but if you want to use garlic, slice a few cloves and insert a few slices per potato into your cuts.

Melt a few tablespoons of butter and whisk with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Brush, toss or drizzle over potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for one hour. Remove and serve. You can brush again with butter, top with sour cream or butter, sprinkle with fresh herbs.

OPTIONS
-Bake for 45 minutes, top potatoes with a mixture of breadcrumbs and butter. Bale for remaining 15 minutes, until breadcrumbs are golden brown and crispy.
-Mix 1/2 C sour cream with 2 TBSP fresh parsley, 1 tsp garlic powder an a dash of salt and pepper. Make ahead of time and refrigerate. Top potatoes before serving.
-Top potatoes straight out of the oven with freshly grated Parmesan or Cheddar cheese and sprinkle with bacon and chives.

ENJOY!!!

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Great Sides for Steak: Roasted Asparagus and Homemade Chips

My husband is the steak maker in our house… at least he has been. Ive taken over since we gave away our grill before we moved. We haven’t bought a new one, so I got a cast iron grill pan. I’ve been making steak with that and, minus the smokey fire and charcoal taste, it’s been very successful.

I have a tendency to turn to green veggies or corn on the cob and some kind of potato for sides. The last few times we’ve had steak, though, these chips have been requested, as have these delicious green veggies.

 

Roasted Asparagus is a simple and very tasty side. It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and only 10-15 minutes to cook. Preheat your oven to 425˚F. To prep your veggies, hold at each end and bend. The bottom, tough end will snap off. If a piece doesn’t snap, discard it. Once you’ve snapped the edges, place the asparagus on a foil lined sheet tray. Drizzle with olive oil (I use an olive/canola oil blend, it’s cheaper and just as good.) Sprinkle with fresh cracked coarse black pepper and a coarse salt (like sea salts, smoked salts or kosher salt.) Toss your veggies around to coat. Spread them back out and put them in the oven. I like to get a slight brown roast on mine and take them out of the oven. My hubby likes me to roast them on both sides and then remove them. They’re good both ways, but I like to keep a bit of the crispiness. You can get a good brown on them by cooking for 6 minutes and flipping them, still getting your crispiness in 12 total minutes of cooking.

These chips are just as easy, but can be a bit more time consuming, depending on your equipment. When doing any deep frying, I’ve been using peanut oil more and more and liking it more and more. As with any frying, it’s always important to monitor the temp of your oil. If you’re using a deep fryer, make sure the oil is not too old and has not been used too much. I used oil I’d fried catfish nuggets in 2 days earlier and still had a fresh oil flavor. If using a heavy bottom pan, just make sure you have at least 2 inches of oil, and you don’t crowd the pan too much.

I prefer wash my potatoes and leave the skin on. Slice them with a mandolin or the proper slicing blade attachment on a food pro. Thin slices are good for these chips. 1 large potato per 2 people is usually good, but I have to use 2 because as soon as my husband finds out I’m making them, he continually sneaks into the kitchen to steal them. I like to soak mine in water for a bit to remove some of the starch. Also, I like to slice them early and have them waiting for when I’m ready to fry them. Once you are ready, be sure to separate the slices and dry them with a towel. I like to make an assembly line. I drain the potatoes and put them in a bowl. Then, I take a batch, lay them on a paper towel, dry them and drop them in oil when the time is right.

Once in oil, let them cook for 2-4 minutes. They need to brown up at least halfway. If they are too white, they will be soft. If they get a little too dark brown it will take away from the potato taste. A light golden brown over most of the chip is perfect. Remove it from the oil and immediately sprinkle with salt. I like using sea salt or kosher salt.

Hope you enjoy making these super easy sides. Happy Cooking!