Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Sometimes you get into a culinary rut and as much as you want inspiration to strike, it’s not coming. For this distancedishes date, Amanda had a night to herself and treated herself to a dinner she found quite exciting. Feeling a bit gloomy and uninspired that weekend, I was much more excited to lay in the fetal position and feel sorry for myself. Still wondering what I would make, even a few hours before our skype session, I thought that I would make something for those nights when nothing sounds good.

Sometimes, you’ve just been really on point all week and you’re just tired of bringing it. Sometimes you feel like you’ve been doing the same old thing for all your dinners lately and everything is so…blah. Sometimes, its a weeknight and you had a long day at work and just need food. Sometimes, you don’t want to deal but your tummy is still a-grumblin. All of that is fine. You should still probably eat though.

I know there have been quite a few pizza type things from me lately, but it’s so easy if you take a few shortcuts and I’ve been in the mood for easy lately, okay? It’s comfort food with its cheesy and bready goodness and you can make it as easy or fancy as your heart desires (and depending on where you are in your food rut). A buffalo chicken pizza is pretty low maintenance, especially if you get creative with the crust (go store-bought, or hey, use a tortilla, whatever). It’s a nice break from the traditional tomato and cheese flavors but still so comforting. Give it a try when you’re feeling good or just need a break, it’s great for all times!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (however you wanna get there, store bought rotisserie, some instant pot breasts, or just bake)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (plus a little extra)
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped with whites and greens divided
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing.
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese
  • Salt & Pepper as desired.
  • Pizza crust of your choice (see above–yeah I did not go homemade this time)
  • Cornmeal for dusting

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F for at least 30 minutes.
  2. To make the buffalo chicken spread, stir together shredded chicken, cream cheese, hot sauce, the whites of the green onions and salt and pepper if you would like. If you’re using cold chicken, it may take some effort for this to come together and I would recommend a stand mixer. If you’re really not feeling cooking, you can stop here, warm this up and curl up with a bowl of this and some corn chips and dip to your heart’s content. We usually make this as just a dip for potlucks (some ranch dressing in it makes it even better!).
  3. Roll our pizza crust onto a peel or baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Brush your ranch dressing onto the crust, leaving about 1/2 inch unbrushed on the outside all over.
  4. Spread your buffalo chicken spread evenly onto the pizza and top with the mozzarella cheese evenly. Sprinkly the greens of the green onions on top.
  5. Bake on the baking sheet or pizza stone/steel (or both) for 20-25 minutes until crust is cooked, cheese is melted and a little bubbly, and everything is a little golden. Remove the pizza from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing–everything usually becomes a melty mess if I try it before cooling. Drizzle a little extra hot sauce over the pizza so you feel fancy, slice, serve and enjoy while you await for culinary inspiration to return to your life.

Wine Pairing: ugh, I don’t know, what do we even have? Yeah ok, pour me some of that.

But seriously if you have more energy than I had, a dry Rose, Riesling or even Champagne would be a nice match. 

DC22CB49-0D6B-411A-B652-C223A38E273C

Thai Basil Beef Tacos

Come on, you missed us didn’t you? Well fear not! We’re back! Amanda and I each had fairly active summers, which made Skype and planning our next meal a little difficult. So, we took little break this summer but are back in the kitchens now that autumn is upon us.

For this DistanceDishes dinner, we wanted to make a meal that summed up our food experience of the summer. While Amanda had her own epic adventures (we’re talking international y’all), that I’ll let her sum up later, I had my own fair share of trips to the airport. For work, I was back and forth to Washington DC a few times this summer which allowed me to escape the usual food haunts at home. I’ve been back and forth to DC a few times this year and I’ve begun to make it a tradition to treat myself to delicious Thai food. I was also lucky enough to meet up with some great DC friends at a Jose Andres restaurant and gorge myself of delicious tacos (and margaritas). I wanted to combine these two great memories into my “summer dish” with some Thai themed tacos.

Two other, slightly lazy but also semi-appropriate reasons I went with this dish. With all the travel, I have become terrible at getting to the grocery store regularly. Also, as I was gone, my Thai Basil plant grew too large for itself and fell over. Since I only had a few days to use it up, these Thai Basil tacos were the perfect meal. Believe me though, my laziness is your benefit. This makes for a very flavorful, quick and easy meal any night whether you’ve developed a DC Thai food addiction or not.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 green onions, diced with greens and white separates
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper (I used a combination of red and green)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped Thai basil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Tortillas
  • Lettuce for topping

Avocado Lime Topping:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • salt to taste (1/4 tsp to start)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, mirin, ginger, garlic, the whites of your green onions, fish sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, add the ground beef to a medium skillet or saucepan. Break up the beef and cook until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef from the pan and transfer to a small bowl (or whatever holding area you prefer–paper plate for easy cleanup? Sure!) and drain excess fat (for responsible discarding).
  3. Return your pan to medium heat and add your diced yellow onion and bell peppers. Cook until onions become slightly translucent and bell peppers start to become soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Return the cooked ground beef to your pan with the onions/peppers and pour your soy sauce mixture over ingredients in pan. Stir to ensure all ingredients are fully incorporated. Soy sauce mixture should begin bubbling and stir for an extra 1-2 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Stir in your Thai basil and continue stirring until basil is just wilting.
  5. Remove from heat, garnish with greens of the green onions and prepare your tacos to serve.

For the avocado lime topping:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Place a dollop on top of a hefty scoop of your basil beef on top of a flour tortilla. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: There are a lot of (delicious) flavors going on here, but a classic like a Cabernet Sauvignon probably wouldn’t be a bad choice. Cheers!

97AC0A17-46BA-4103-9F06-F303F2F077F9

 

Appetizer Sliders Three Ways

With the turn of the season and the heat in full swing, something about the start of the summer makes me want to entertain. For this theme week, we wanted to do some easy appetizers with a running theme that could be crowd-pleasers without being too much effort. While Amanda did amazing and fancy things with Balsamic Vinegar, I decided to go a little more “game day” with a series of sliders.

Since I was making a couple options, I knew I didn’t want any one type to dominate my time. With the electric pressure cooker to do the heavy lifting for the pork sliders, I was freed up to work on the other two options. I thought I’d cover my bases with the shredded pork in the pressure cooker, ground buffalo chicken sliders with ranch dressing and a vegetarian option of goat cheese and zucchini sliders. The zucchini was the surprise hit, and the herb yogurt sauce was such a great addition to this yummy little snack.

It is worth mentioning, if you don’t feel like standing over a pan or two waiting for all of these little patties to cook, you could always make these full size. Or if you don’t think this is enough slider options, check out our previous burger recipes, the Greek Chicken and Chickpea burgers which could easily be divided into more patties just before cooking.

Pork Slider

Blackberry Pulled Pork

  • 12 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 pork tenderloin (can also use about 1 lb pork shoulder preferred)
  • Salt &  Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Slider Buns

Instructions:

  1. Generously coat your pork tenderloin with salt and pepper on all sides. Add it to your instant pot along with the chicken broth. Seal your instant pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally when done.
  2. After the pressure has been released, remove the pork tenderloin and shred the meat with two forks. Return the shredded meat to your instant pot to keep warm while you cook the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stir together the blackberries and wine. Allow the mixture to boil and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes.
  4. When reduced, pass the mixture through a sieve to filter out any seeds and bits of berry.
  5. Place some of the shredded pork on a slider bun and top with a spoonful of the sauce. These are now ready to serve and enjoy!

*Mer’s Note: So there are some flavor combinations that are just classic, and I completely forgot Amanda did something similar previously. Because I was trying this one as a keto recipe, you might want to check out hers as an alternative as well. Both could be converted into sliders!

Buffalo Alternate

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

  • 1 lb of ground chicken
  • 5 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1 stalk celery finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 3 green onions, greens and whites minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Ranch Dressing to serve
  • Slider buns to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Combine the ground chicken, buffalo sauce, celery, carrot, green onions, 1 tsp salt & pepper, garlic powder and breadcrumbs. Combine with your hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Separate the mixture and form/flatten into 16 equal patties.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat or a grill, cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Place the cooked patties on slider buns and top with a dollop of ranch dressing to serve. Enjoy!

DSCF0086

Zucchini Sliders

  • 2 medium zucchinis, coarsley shredded
  • 1 tsp salt plus a pinch extra for seasoning zucchini
  • 2 oz herb goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp neutral, high smoke point oil (like canola)
  • Slider Buns to serve

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

 

Instructions: 

  1. Sprinkle the zucchini with the pinch of salt and squeeze the shredded zucchini over a sieve and sink to release as much water as possible. If time allows, wrap the zucchini in paper towels and place in the sieve with something heavy on top to drain over an empty container for 30 minutes to an hour. While allowing the zucchini to drain, mix together your yogurt sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, herbs and lemon juice together and allow to sit in the fridgefor at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
  3. Once you have released as much moisture from the zucchini as possible, combine the zucchini with the goat cheese, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, and the egg. Mix together and form into 16 flat patties (they will be very delicate).
  4. In a wide bowl or container, combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining salt and pepper to your liking. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with the oil over medium heat. Dip each zucchini patty into the breadcrumb mixture until you have an even coating and transfer directly to the heated pan. Until cooked, these patties are very delicate so I would recommend as little handling as you can manage.
  5. Heat the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side until a brown and crispy, and the egg firms up the patty a little bit.
  6. Transfer to a slider bun and top with a dollop of your yogurt sauce to serve. Enjoy!

 

 

Bread Boat Breakfast Bake

While Amanda and I were in Tampa running our very tiring Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon, we knew we would be exhausted and ready for a nice breakfast to enjoy in our pajamas before crashing for a mid-morning to afternoon nap recovery rest. I tend to get very specific in my food desired after a race, and with all the Gatorade and sugary gummy chews being consumed, I am ready to take a break from sugar by the end of the race, for a little while anyway. We also knew, because of that previously mentioned exhaustion, we didn’t want to work for this breakfast much. Enter: The Bread Boat Breakfast Bake.

This recipe is fairly similar to my Christmas Breakfast Casserole but with a wonderful carb substitution that makes this meal both beautifully presentable if you’re hosting a brunch and uniquely delicious (think: savory french toast). The beauty in this recipe, much like the casserole, is in its ability to be customized to your tastes and the fact that all the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time. You can easily assemble your bread boat, pop in the oven and then just as easily shower those 13.1 miles off while it cooks, or make a pitcher of mimosas for a brunch party and chillax. The first time we made this, we devoured the deliciousness before getting pictures, but I was so happy with the results I came home and made it again for the perfect weekend morning treat.

  • 1 Loaf french bread
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 mini bell peppers, diced or 1/2 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 lb ground pork sausage
  • 3 green onions, sliced and greens and whites separated
  • 1/2 cup gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup velveeta cheese, shredded

37236B64-8C27-4B4C-A237-71ECC80E137A

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Whisk together the 10 eggs, yogurt, salt and pepper and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Brown the pork sausage in a skillet over medium heat and allow to cool slightly (can also be made a day ahead).
  4. With a serrated knife, carefully slice two lines vertically down your baguette about 1/4″-1/2″ from each long edge, do not break through the bottom of the bread crust, but get as close to the bottom as you dare.
  5. Using your hands, remove the bread from in between your two cuts so that most of the bread inside the crust is gone but the thick crust is still intact. If you need to use your knife to assist in pulling out the bread middle, do so carefully. Place the baguette onto a baking sheet lined with foil or a silicon baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle in the sausage, onion whites,  bell pepper and the two cheeses into the cavity of the baguette in whichever order you would like, but make sure you at least have some cheese on top.
  7. Slowly drizzle in your egg mixture over the bread cavity. This will require some time since you have so many ingredients so be patient. Make sure the egg soaks into the ingredients before adding more egg to avoid overflow. Once you think the bread can take no more egg, step away for a few minutes to allow it to soak into the bread. Then you should be able to add the rest.
  8. Once the baguette is full to the brim of eggs and other delicious things, sprinkle the onion greens on top and additional cheese if you would like.
  9. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until the center of the egg mixture has set. If your bread starts getting too brown, you can cover it with foil.
  10. Once fully cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: I mean you know my go-to for breakfast foods is a mimosa by this point, but I just had a sparkling Rose the other day around brunch-time and can’t help but think how nice these two would go together.

04FA0BB4-1612-4BBC-BE55-C5C4D16E82F6

Chimichurri Steak Pizza

One of the new kitchen toys Amanda received for Christmas was a baking steel. I had acquired one over the summer in an impulse purchase and we both love when one of us gets a new kitchen gadget upgrade. While we’ve both made a few recipes on our baking steels independently (let me tell ya, it’s a game changer), we decided to really test them out we needed a flatbread theme night. I had recently tried an out of the bow Asian-fusion pizza place and so I was interested in making something a little different than the normal pizzas. As you can probably tell from my trend of recipes, tomatoes don’t really excite me, and so traditional pizza doesn’t really excite me (much to my husband’s frustration). So for this DistanceDishes night, I wanted to make a pizza with some non-traditional theme and without tomato sauce.

Amanda’s Korean Styled pizza turned out excellent, and I will be making her recipe in the very near future as just her picture of the result made my mouth water (and you know how I feel about anything Bulgogi related). I wanted mine to be different enough, so I bring you the South American flavors in a flatbread with delicious chimmichurri as the sauce alternative. Each bite was an explosion of flavor, and so satisfying. If you don’t feel up for making a whole pizza out of these ingredients, the steak marinade is worth checking out alone. I was sneaking some bites as I assembled, and no part of this recipe disappoints. Don’t worry if you don’t have a baking steel, a stone or baking sheet will work just fine.

Steak Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp aji amarillo (Optional)
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Finely grated lime zest
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp Sharp Paprika
  • 1 lb flank steak or skirt steak, cut into large strips
  1. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients and pour over steak strips in a shallow dish or plastic bag. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge overnight.
  2. After, remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sear the strips of steak so that they have a nice brown color on the outside and are rare on the inside. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then cut the strips into 1/2 inch cubes. This can be done ahead of time, or while your pizza oven is preheating.

39E47903-5870-44FB-AE4E-6D841686B92E

Chimichurri Pizza Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup curly parsley
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 tsp dried mexican oregano
  • 7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions: 

  1. Roughly chop the parsley, cilantro and the garlic in a small bowl or blender. Add the oregano, pepper flakes, salt, lemon juice and olive oil and stir to incorporate.
  2. Using an immersion blender (or the regular blender), pulse to for break up the herbs and garlic until you have a paste-like consistency, but can still make out individual herb pieces. It should be only about 10-20 seconds of blending needed. Store the sauce in the fridge until ready to assemble your pizza.

Pizza Ingredients:

  • Pizza crust of your choice, go as store bought or homemade as you want
  • Cornmeal for the bottom (if desired–you could also use semolina flour if you’d like)
  • Diced Red Onions
  • Diced Avocado
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Diced Bell pepper
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Shredded Oaxaca Cheese
  • Chimichurri sauce from recipe above
  • Steak, cut into cubes from recipe above.

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F, and if you are using a stone or a steel, turn your oven on for at least 30 minutes before cooking so that the stone/steel can thoroughly heat.
  2. Roll out your pizza crust if needed. If transferring to a stone, sprinkle the back of a baking sheet or a pizza peel with cornmeal to form an even layer. Otherwise, sprinkle your baking sheet with cornmeal on the actual baking side. Place your pizza crust on top of this layer.
  3. Spread a layer of the Chimichurri sauce over the crust, top with the above listed toppings in the distribution of your choice. Place your baking sheet in the oven or slide the pizza off of the back of the baking sheet or peel and onto your stone/steel.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is slightly golden and cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Even though we’re talking steak here, with all the spices in the marinade and pizza sauce, I think a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc would be a really nice pairing with the spicy flavors.

 

 

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Dinner

I’ve had a whirlwind couple of weeks! Between having the pleasure of visiting Amanda in Tampa (and running a very humid half marathon together), road tripping to Iowa on another adventure and driving to and from the St. Louis airport a few times in the last few weeks I was beat. Plus, somehow while I was away, my oven heating coil suspiciously decided to snap–the maintenance men said “it happens” but I still have my doubts what happened :). So, when Amanda and I were brainstorming themes for this week’s skype date, we were all about that low effort deliciousness. I’ve written about the benefits of using the slow cooker in the summer, but really the slow cooker is great all year round for so many reasons. Between my strong desire to be lazy on the day or our date and the fact my oven was out of commission, this slow cooker meal was just what I needed.

I decided to do a whole chicken and vegetables for this meal, and while Amanda has done a traditionally cooked whole chicken dinner here before, I decided to mix up the spices a bit so that I could repurpose the leftovers into something delicious the following night. I even saved the bones so that I could make chicken stock, as Amanda demonstrated previously. The flavors are light and remind me of a warmer season, which makes this a nice choice for both the summer and winter. Plus, if you ever make this chicken for a dinner party, they’d never know how little prep and effort this really takes!

Ingredients: 

Spice Blend:

  • 1 tbsp za’atar seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt

Other Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole chicken, giblets and neck removed if applicable
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • vegetables of your choice to line the bottom of the slow cooker (I used 2 potatoes, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, and 1 zucchini)
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • 2-3 stalks of thyme
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic (ish)

Instructions:

  1. Mix together the above spices listed (from za’atar to oregano) and the salt.
  2. Chop your vegetables into large chunks (since it will be cooking for a long time, you don’t want them to be so small they fall apart), and add them to the bottom of your slow cooker.
  3. Miz your softened butter with your blended spices to form a butter paste. Spread generously over your chicken and try to get some under the skin on the breasts and legs if possible.
  4. Stuff 1 quarter of your lemon (add the rest to your vegetable layer in your slow cooker),  at least 5 garlic cloves and a quarter to half of an onion (whatever you can fit) into the cavity of your chicken. If you have garlic leftover, sprinkle amongst your veggies.
  5. Place the chicken on top of your veggies, cover with your lid and cook on low for 8 hours. Make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165°F at the end of the time period, and return to the cooker for additional time if needed.
  6. Optional: If you would like crispy skin on your bird, move your chicken to a baking sheet and broil in the oven on normal setting for 2-5 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler (keep an eye on it! Mine goes from perfect to charred mess in about 2 seconds).
  7. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker and carve, and enjoy with your cooked vegetables as well. You can shred any remaining chicken for a variety of recipes. This one fed me for a few more meals so stay tuned for how I repurposed my leftovers!

104e7189-90c4-4ebc-8c58-058045dab8dc-e1522100449154.jpeg

Wine Pairing: Since this one is light with a hint of lemon, I think a perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio would be a nice light pairing to go with these yummy flavors. 

Filet Mignon with Mushroom Shallot Butter

Amanda and I have made no effort to hide our love of Masterchef, and when the contestants were taught to break down a large piece of meat, we were inspired. Amanda and I wanted to try our hand at breaking down a large cut into smaller, more presentable portions. In my case, I had done this before with a whole beef tenderloin (also called a PiSMO) and so I thought I would share.

Whole Tenderloin, because they require less processing, are usually a pretty economical choice considering that this one of the most prized parts of the cow. They are generally vacuum packed and sold at a much lower rate per pound than their individually packaged counterparts. Since there is a lot of meat in one of those packages, the overall cost might still be high. However, considering I have usually managed to get 8-10 dinners out of one piece, it still works out to be a great deal.

After breaking everything down, obviously the best reward would be to cook one of these newly trimmed filets up for yourself. Combined with the mushroom shallot butter recipe below and a glass of wine, I think you’re in for a good night after hauling that hunk of beef home from the store.

img_3021.jpg

Breaking down a whole (or half in my case) Beef Tenderloin: 

  1. Pull the initial layer of fat off the tenderloin. You may need a knife to get an initial tear in the fat started, but once you get your fingers under this layer, you should be largely able to remove with your hands.
  2. With the fat removed, you should be able to make out three parts of the meat. The actual tenderloin is the long, circular portion in the middle. On one side will the “Chain”which is the smaller, longer piece. On the other side, is a wide, thick portion much shorter than the tenderloin. Remove the pieces on either side of the tenderloin and reserve for recipes of your choice. The chain makes excellent stir fry meat and the other portion is also great as a roast!
  3. Now that the tenderloin is trimmed, you should be able to see a layer of “silverskin” on some of the meat. This must be removed as it does not render like other fat. To remove, stick the tip of your knife under a small piece. Once you can get your finger under the silverskin, lift the skin with one hand and peel it off the meat, using your knife when needed. This part can be a bit tricky, but continue to peel off the silverskin in strips this way until all is removed. IMG_3028
  4. Now the tenderloin is ready to be portioned. You can keep it whole if you’d like, but I usually like to cut some of it into filets. Slice into 2″ portions. The end with the taper can be butterflied into a filet if you would like or you can save that end as a roast if you want to leave that portion a little thicker.
  5. I like to freeze the extra meat in freezer bags individually so I can pull them out whenever I’m craving some steak for dinner. Portions can stay in the freezer for up to 4 months.

img_3031.jpg

Filet with Mushroom Butter: 

Mushroom butter Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb baby Portobello mushrooms or mushrooms of your choice, minced.
  • 1 small shallot, minced.
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

 

Instructions: 

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, add the oil and saute the shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
  2. Cook the mushrooms and shallots until the mushrooms have released their moisture and reduced size, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired during cooking.  When finished, remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Once cooled, add the stick of butter to a stand mixer and add your mushroom/shallot mixture and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until everything is distributed.
  4. Spoon the butter mixture onto the middle of a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the paper in half over the butter, gently. Using a sheet pan and starting at the end where the paper corners meet, slowly slide the pan down and toward the butter so that elongates into a tube. Once this is completed, you can roll the leftover parchment around the butter and twist the ends. Chill the butter for at least 2 hours. This can be made up to 5 days in advance, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.

  1. When you are ready to make your steaks, remove them from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 450°F and stick in a cast iron pan.
  2. Once the oven and pan are preheated, (carefully) move the cast iron pan to the stove top and heat over medium-high. Liberally salt and pepper your steaks and sear in the hot pan for 2 minutes on each side.
  3. Add a pat of the mushroom butter to the tops of the steaks and transfer the pan to the oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium rare. This should be about 3-5 minutes depending on thickness.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow steaks to rest on a cooling rack loosely draped with foil for 10 minutes. Top with an additional pat of butter and serve. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairing: A Burgundy or a really bold Pinot Noir would be a great match with both the mushroomy undertones that the butter brings as well as the beef. Happy cooking!

Greek Chicken Burger

It was burger week for Amanda and me with our latest Distance Dishes date. While I don’t crave them often, something about that warm, summer air that has been moving in made me want to bite into a nice, juicy burger. While classic beef burgers are all well and good, we wanted to experiment with some alternatives for when red meat just won’t do.

Amanda got creative with a vegetarian version soon to come, but Mediterranean flavors were calling my name. With a heavily seasoned patty topped with a refreshing tzatziki, this burger packs an amazing flavor punch while still feeling refreshing. Biting into this delicious sandwich topped with fresh vegetables is quite the reward for standing over a hot grill (or pan).

One tip I will say Amanda and I both learned is not make your patties too thick or you’ll be waiting forever for that middle to cook. I had to delay our skype date because I was waiting for a safe internal temperature forever. The picture above is an eight ounce patty, but I’ve adjusted the recipe below. Learn from my mistakes 😉

Greek Chicken Burger Patty:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 mini bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions: 

  1. In a large bowl, hand mix together all ingredients so that everything is well incorporated into the meat.
  2. Form into 4 patties and cook in a pan or grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Then, they are ready for assembly.

Tzatziki

  • 1/4 cucumber, shredded
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill

Instructions: 

  1. Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to use.

Assembly/Toppings:

  • Ciabatta Rolls
  • Tomato
  • Red onion slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tzatziki

Assemble as desired and top burger with Tzatziki. If you’d like, serve with the Grilled Balsamic Zucchini and enjoy!

IMG_2602

Wine Pairing: For this meal, I wanted to try out a new pitcher and actually made a Summery Wine Punch (below) to add to the summery vibes. However, for a true pairing, actually a Pinot Noir might stand up to the tartness of the Tzatziki  while also balancing out the flavor profile. 

Summer Wine Punch: 

  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 qt pink lemonade
  • 4 oz pineapple juice
  • Fresh, sliced strawberries for garnish

Add all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and serve with ice.

IMG_2593

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mango Cilantro Sauce

Wanting to live vicariously through Amanda’s recent vacation to the sparkling shores of Miami, we decided to cook up our best tropical inspired meals to keep the vacation magic alive. I, being nowhere near a beach now or in the near future, was a big fan of this idea. While munching on something with these tropical flavors is undoubtedly more enjoyable while breathing in the fresh sea air and listening to waves crash in the background, I’ll take what I can get.

Since I’m currently and tragically landlocked, and any attempt at obtaining fresh, Caribbean fish seemed futile, I opted for pork. Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a cilantro kick and I knew I wanted those fresh, albeit divisive, flavors to be included. Fortunately, cilantro pairs wonderfully with mango and nothing screams tropical to me more than the bold and tart flavors of the mango. This slow roasted pork tenderloin topped with the coconut sauce was enough to give me the taste of the vacation I didn’t have, even if I couldn’t quite smell the ocean air.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin:

  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Mango Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups diced mango (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into fine pieces.
  • salt
  • lime juice
  • 2 Serrano peppers, minced.
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or canola/vegetable oil)

Instructions:

  1. For the pork tenderloin, pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Combine the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and spread onto the pork tenderloin until all surfaces are covered.
  2. Place tenderloin in a roasting pan and roast in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is at least 145°F. Allow to rest outside the oven for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  3. While the pork is roasting (probably about 20 minutes before done), prepare the sauce. In a small pot over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, salt and grapeseed oil. Stir until the onions are fragrant and semi-translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, mango, and the Serrano peppers. Allow this to simmer until reduced by at least 1/3 and thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro and lime juice. Wait for the cilantro to wilt and then transfer mixture to a blender (once cooled slightly). Pulse until the mango chunks are smooth and the cilantro is well incorporated–about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can also use an immersion blender for this step if preferred.
  6. Transfer back to the stove to warm until the tenderloin is ready. Slice the rested pork tenderloin, and top with sauce. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: While I’ll admit, I actually decided to make rum runners instead for this dish to get the full beach bar experience from my couch, I would say that an aromatic white wine, such as a chenin blanc would work nicely.

 

Japanese Style Curry & Chicken Katsu with Satay Spices

This weekend, I found myself home alone which has become a bit more rare in married life. Therefore, Amanda and I got to talking about meals we like to make when no one else is home and we have the whole kitchen and day to ourselves. While I like to use these home alone days to delve into new culinary experiments, I do often love to use this time to treat myself to an old comforting favorite that I could probably eat every night of the week. Of course, for me, this means one of two meals: Curry, or Chicken Satay.

While these two meals are hardly exotic or out of the realm of Amanda’s and my normal cooking, I wanted to combine these two favorites to create the ultimate comfort meal with leftovers enough to entertain me for the rest of the weekend should I decide sip wine and watch rom-coms for the rest of the time alone. This can be as hands off as you’d like once you get past making the roux (which can be done in advance or you can buy this part), or you can go more traditional with the actual frying of the chicken if you’re feeling it. The possibilities are what you’d like to make of it! The results are something I’ll certainly be adding to my comfort food rotation and I hope you like it too.

Satay Spice Blend

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if desired

Satay Marinated Chicken Katsu Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Satay spice blend
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp butter (if pan frying)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the spice blend, cilantro, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil until blended.
  2. Place the butterflied and pounded chicken breasts into a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully covered by the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator (covered/sealed) for 8-24 hours.
  3. Once the time has passed, prepare 3 shallow dishes (or paper plates for easy cleanup). Add your flour to one, the egg to the second (and scramble it) and the panko with some salt and pepper to taste to the third. Remove the chicken from the marinated and try to shake off any excess liquid.
  4. Dip the chicken first into the flour and shake off the excess, then dip into the egg and then the panko ensuring even coating at each step. Repeat with additional breasts.
  5. The traditional Katsu is fried, but you can either pan fry with 2-3 tbsp of butter over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or you can bake on a greased wire rack over a baking sheet at 350°F for 30 minutes if you want a lower maintenance approach. Slice and serve with the curry.

Curry Roux:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp satay spice blend

Instructions: 

  1. Over low heat, heat the flour and butter in a small saucepan,stirring constantly so it does not burn.
  2. Once the butter has melted, continue stirring over heat for 20-30 minutes. The mixture should thicken and take on a light brown color.
  3. Add the garam masala and satay spices and heat for about 30 more seconds until the mixture is thick and there is little liquid left.
  4. Allow to cool and use immediately or refrigerate until needed. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week or you can freeze for up to a year if needed.

Curry Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Remainder of satay spice blend
  • Curry roux from above or store-bought cubes.
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to remove starch
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Cooked white rice to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the oil, onions and spices to the pan and cook until the onions are semi-translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, roux and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir to incorporate the roux, and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Serve with white rice and the breaded chicken. Enjoy!

Alternate Pressure Cooker instructions: 

  1. If you’re looking to have a maintenance free night, saute the onions, oil and spices in the pressure cooker. Then add all other ingredients and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Valve release the pressure and spoon over white rice and add your chicken.

Wine Pairing: Since these flavors are pretty unique and loud by themselves, I’d go with a Pinot Grigio to lighten it up a bit.