Friday, August 31, 2012

BBQ Pulled Pork

BBQ Pulled Pork... Remember a couple nights ago when I made the carnitas simmered in salsa verde? And remembered I said I had extra unused pork that would go into another dish later in the week? Well last night that came true! I used the rest of the pork along with some onions to create a pulled pork BBQ dish, served up with a baked sweet potato and steamed green beans. Simple, easy as can be, and of course Dahlish.

The Pork:
I gave an onion a rough chop, leaving the pieces still pretty sizable. I let them saute until slightly browned, then I added in my shredded pork left over from the other night (this pork had not been simmered in the salsa verde, I put it aside before that part). After letting the pork crisp up and heat up just a bit, I added my TJ's BBQ Sauce and let the whole thing simmer and break down into a perfect sweet tangy porky main dish.

Along side the BBQ Pork I served up some steamed haricot vert (basically string beans) and a baked sweet potato. Not a fussy meal, but took just a tiny bit of effort. Was extremely satisfying and such a good way to use the rest of the pork I had from earlier in the week, as well as some BBQ sauce I had on hand!

Have a Dahlicious weekend yall and come back next week to see what else is being served for dinner!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Semi Joe Made: Tofu Vodka Pasta

Semi Joe Made: Tofu Vodka Pasta...I was in the mood for tofu, I was in the mood for veggies, but I just couldn't kick that hankering for some good old pasta – not to mention a creamy sauce to go with. I can’t take credit for much of the flavor in this dish, more just the mix of ingredients (though the inputs were more along the lines of semi-finished goods than raw materials… supply chain nerd?). Anyways, the dinner was quick, it was easy, it was extremely filling, and it was Dahlicious. May not have been my absolute lowest calorie lowest carb option, but let’s be honest it wasn't that kind of night.

What I Had:
1 bag of baby spinach
1 yellow onion
1 orange bell pepper
Firm tofu
TJ’s arugula & parmesan raviolis
TJ’s Vodka Sauce

The veggies got a good chop and a long sautee, with just a bit of pepper – not salt (I figured there would be enough in the sauce). While they were browning I used a separate pan to give the tofu a little browning. I could have done it in the same sauté pan as the veggies, but when I do this I usually find that it has more of a steaming effect on the tofu (probably a tiny but healthier) but I like the slight crispiness I get on the tofu by cooking it in just a bit of hot oil – also added a bit of pepper to the tofu.

Once those ingredients were all appropriately browned, I mixed them together, and added a bit of the sauce. As I let that simmer I alternated adding handfuls of spinach until it wilted into the pot, with pours of the room temperature sauce so that everything kept at a nice light simmer.

As soon as everything was added (the alternating spinach and sauce only took but a few minutes) I let it rest on low for about 20 minutes. Not necessary, I just always like letting things sit a while, more flavor development – I think anyways!

I popped the raviolis in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, strained them and tossed the whole lot into the tofu veggie sauce that was still lightly simmering. I let everything toss and meld for a few minutes before serving

Hope everyone enjoys this super easy and super Dahlicious Semi Joe Made meal!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Salsa Verde Carnitas Salad

Salsa Verde Carnitas Salad... Well it's Monday and I am craving some Mexican flavors and I just so happened to have a jar of that Dahlicious TJ's Salsa Verde that I've used in some recipes before. A number of years back, in high school, my mom started using this Mexican Style Carnitas from TJ's, and she would simmer it in the salsa verde.  Sometimes it was used as the filler for a juicy burrito, other times in mini quesadillas as appetizers, and more recently in lettuce cups for a lower carb option. Tonight I was craving that flavor and decided to serve it up atop a salad for dinner!

On the Menu:
Salsa Verde Carnitas Salas

The Carnitas:
All you need to do is add heat and texture (crispiness) to this already cooked carnitas - in addition to adding some extra flavor. I only used half of what I purchased at TJs, saving the other half for another meal I've got in mind to try out later this week! I also had a small orange bell pepper on hand and figured that might be a nice crunchy addition to the rich pork dish. I gave the peppers a quick chop and let them sauté in a bit of oil. Once the pan was nice and hot and the veggies had a slight brown I shredded the carnitas by hand and added it in. This only takes a few minutes, and you can turn the temp down a bit to medium heat at this point. The idea here is to get a little crispness on the pork and let it meld with the peppers. After I deemed the pork ready (just a couple minutes of sautéing) I added a liberal pour of the salsa verde. You can really eye ball this depending on how saucy you want the dish to be. Definitely add enough to make sure the veggies and pork are decently submerged in the sauce. Turn the temp down and let the combo simmer lightly for as long as you'd like. I let mine go about 30 minutes. If you are in a hurry, you really only need to let it sit for about 5 minutes. But if you've got time to let the flavors develop then I would suggest doing so.

The TJs necessities

Sautéing orange bell peppers
Crisping the carnitas 
Simmering away
Rich Dahlicious Carnitas!
The salad:
Simple salad - mixed butter lettuce & raddichio, along with chopped avocado and cucumber tossed in a mild pico de gallo. I used the pico as the dressing because it was lemony and light.

Salas pre pico 
Post pico

Alls I did was toss the salad, top it with the carnitas and the rest is history! The cool crunchy butter lettuce, the creamy avocado, the zesty pico de gallo and OF course the rich and tender carnitas made this a perfectly Dahlicious Monday Night Mexican Dinner.


Come back later in the week to see what else I'm cookin up!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chicken Sausage & a Yellow Tomato Sauce

Chicken Sausage & a Yellow Tomato Sauce... As I've mentioned before I LOVE making sauces. Of course there are those instances when time, energy, or ingredients don't lend themselves to a sauce making dinner, but last night they did. 

What I Had:
Baby Yellow Tomatoes
1Yellow Bell Pepper
1Yellow Onion
1 Bag of Spinach
White Wine

The Sauce:
I gave the onions a good chop, fairly small pieces, dime sized we'll say. Then I sauteed them with a few crushed cloves of garlic in a liberal pour of olive oil. While sautéing I added a layer of seasoning: salt, pepper, crushed dried oregano, and crushed dried basil. Next I added in the chopped yellow bell pepper, cut into similar size pieces as the onion (it's good to cook veggies cut into similar sizes so that things cook evenly). 

Once those were getting nice and tender, slightly caramelized I added in the little baby yellow/orange tomatoes. These little things were so sweet and perfect on their own that I knew they'd be great in a sauce. I really suggest that if you make your own sauce with fresh tomatoes, that you add them to the saute pan whole - as opposed to cutting them up. I think they are much tastier if you let them heat up and naturally break down (or once they're quite tender you can squish them up if you want), this allows their juices to add to the sauce. 

Once the tomatoes broke down, I added a hearty splash of white wine, a squeeze of lemon, and a PINCH of sugar (go light on the sugar but a little brings out some great flavor). I let the sauce simmer and kept adding a bit of white wine until it was the reduced consistency I wanted. Then I added a nice little slice of butter (seriously don't even care about the calories here, just add a little butter I'm telling you it makes ALL the difference, a rich creaminess you will not be disappointed with). Last but not least I added the bag of spinach, just one handful at a time and let it melt into the sauce for a nice added veggie bonus.

Once the sausages were fully grilled, and the pasta was al dente, I tossed it with the sauce and voila! As you can see with the picture below I was so excited to gdve into it that I forgot to take a picture until a few bites into it!

My last tip on a sauce like this is to actually let it cool just a tad before serving, I truly think it enhances the flavor!! Dahlish!!

Soy Seared Tuna

Soy Seared Tuna...Well life has gotten busy! And unfortunately has left me with less time to blog, and truthfully less time to cook. But that's what Dahlicious is all about anyways isn't it - being short on time, and perhaps ingredients (and the desire to be creative) YET pushing through that weekday food lull and still serving up something well balanced and satisfying.

I've made some good stir fry's as well as a lot of grilled fish & veggie dinners over the last week. Nothing out of the ordinary per se, mostly pulling from recipes I've already posted. 

Last night I decided to spice things up just a tad, and marinate my tuna steaks before quickly searing. I grabbed a handful of ingredients from the pantry and whisked up this little mixture:

1 Clove pressed garlic
Olive Oil
Soy Sauce
Organic Blue Agave
Flax Seeds (gave a similar feel to sesame seeds which I did not have on hand)

I whisked those things up in a bowl and poured it over my tuna. I let the tuna chill/marinate in a covered  Pyrex baking dish in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

While the fish was getting all tasty in the fridge I sauteed one small chopped yellow onion and a whole bag of snap peas in garlic and a dash of soy sauce. Once those had a nice brown going I got my grill pan hot and seared off the tuna. 

The timing worked just perfectly with the TJ's quinoa I added as well. That (like the brown rice) just goes right in the microwave in a bowl for 3 minutes, stir it up and do another 3. I put the tuna on just as I was getting the quinoa going for the first three minutes, and flipped it over when I fluffed the quinoa for the second three minutes.

All in all it was a Dahlicious meal, plenty of veggies and protein (quinoa is packed with protein) and the marinade added a nice little flavor to the tuna.

Hope yall had a Dahlicious Monday too!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Semi Joe Made: Chicken Sausage Tortellini

Semi Joe Made: Chicken Sausage Tortellini...It was Monday, I was feeling lazy, but I was also feeling a bit guilty that I had a fridge full of groceries to use and alas I had to make something. I didn’t get to eat much of a lunch yesterday so I was quite hungry when I got home and I was in no mood to be creative or make anything from scratch.

*Side Note on the Title*: I am thinking I may end up doing a series of “Semi Joe Made” posts where I use lots of TJ’s pre-cooked items and show some good ways to throw together an extremely quick meal. Additionally, I can only hope that some of you are putting two and two together here and recognizing my reference to not only Trader Joe’s but also to the Food Network show Semi Home Made.. is it bad when you have to explain your own joke?? Oops.

Anyways last night’s meal was one of those meals where I can’t take any credit for a recipe or even for cooking really, more just for the cutting, sautéing, and eating.

On The Menu:
TJ’s Chicken Sausage with peppers, broccolini, and spinach tortellini

What I Used:
  • Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage – fully cooked all you have to do is grill them or sautee them
  • 1 Orange bell pepper – chopped
  • 4 Pieces of broccolini – any green would do, I just had these, also chopped
  • Package of TJ’s little spinach tortellini – well I didn’t use the whole package but I trust you can eyeball how much to use
  • 1 Jar of TJ’s “Recipe 99 – Traditional Marinara Sauce” – you know I like making my own sauces and it is pretty easy, but last night was just not the night that this was going to happen, so in a pinch this is what I used. Also not the whole jar but more an appropriate amount for the volume of food you plan to serve/consume.

Here’s How:
I gave the veggies a rough chop and let them sauté for a few minutes in oil over high heat. I took two of the chicken sausages and cut them on the diagonal. I added these guys to the sizzling pan and let them brown on both sides.
I brought a pot of water to a boil and dropped in the little tortellini for just 3-4 minutes (they cook quickly!). While the pasta was boiling away I added the sauce to my veggies and chicken sausage and turned the heat down to medium low. I let this simmer together for a few minutes, drained the pasta and added it in. Gave it a good toss and voila!

Easy Peasy and pretty tasty. Hope yall are inspired to grab some Dahlicious TJ’s items to keep on hand in case you are in the mood for a “Semi Joe Made” dinner!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Trader Joe's Find: Cooked Potatoes

New Trader Joe's Find: Cooked Potatoes…. While on my grocery run this week, I noticed a new package sitting in the chilled veggies section that had never caught my eye before. Let me remind you that I live in downtown Chicago and my local City TJ’s is fairly small, so I generally feel as though I know all of the products they stock. In any case, this new find was intriguing. They were packaged similarly to the lentils and the beets that I find in that section, however this time it was little French potatoes. Fully cooked with nothing added. Interesting. Of course the carb lover in me convinced my better judgment to snag these bad boys and figure out something to do with them for dinner.

On the Menu:
Oven roasted salmon, olive oil smashed baby potatoes, steamed asparagus.

Super simple dinner…

1.       Salmon in olive oil, lemon, and lemon pepper in the oven at 400 for 15 minutes.

2.       Asparagus steamed on the stove top.

3.       Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes: Alls I did was take the potatoes out of the package and dry them off with a paper towel. I put them in a small pot over medium heat and added olive oil, salt, and pepper (ok fine I added a little tiny butter too). I let them heat up slowly and pretty quickly smashed them up with a fork. I let them continue to heat up and break down and they turned into a rich chunky Dahlicious smash.

Hope Yall made something Dalish this week. And I hope those of you who live near a TJ’s try out these potatoes!