Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hasselback Potatoes

     Ever wanted to have a baked potato served up differently? I love potatoes, but versatility is a must with these little spuds when it comes to baking them.
     I've seen hoards of recipes for baked potatoes, but I've never had one made quite like this before, so I decided to give it a go, and this is my version of the 'Hasselback Potato'. 


2 large baking potatoes, washed and dried
4 Tbsp. Garlic Infused Olive Oil (for baking and frying)
2 Tbsp. minced onion
Sea Salt to taste
Coarse ground black pepper to taste
 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
A few sprigs of curly leaf parsley, chopped

 Preheat oven to 450°

     After washing potatoes and drying them, slice in a parallel direction, but not all the way through.  The easiest way to do this is to lay the potato on a large serving spoon and then slice so as not to cut down to the bottom of the potato.  You want to leave at least 1/4 inch of the base in tact. 
     In a small bowl, mix the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Next, spread the potato open carefully and brush the oil over the potato, making sure to get the onion and parsley in between the wedges also. 
     Bake in oven on cookie sheet for 45 minutes or until done.  Carefully remove potato to serving plate and top with cheese.  Serve with sour cream or favorite topping.  Enjoy!

Next time:  
     I'm going to try this by wrapping it in aluminum foil and baking it at 450° for a half hour or so for a more moist potato. 

White Fish with Salsa on a Bed of Spinach


      My husband and I love fish, but we get tired of eating the same old thing.  I came across a few different recipes and chose the ones I liked the most and then combined them adding an 'ingredient here, and eliminating another there', and so forth.  This is what I came up with.  
     Hopefully you will want to try it.  It is a very versatile recipe, and you could probably make a mango and peach salsa to go on top, not only for taste, but for a beautiful presentation also.

1 lb. white fish fillets
1 Lemon
Tomato Salsa (recipe follows)
 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinaigrette 
 1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Coarse Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (for frying/Baking)
2 c. Fresh Spinach Leaves, optional (place on platter and top with cooked fish)

Recipe for Salsa:
2 large Roma Tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. red onion, diced
1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and diced (use gloves for this please)
1 Tbsp. fresh Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh Basil, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 Lime

Directions for Salsa:
Combine all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours so flavors can come together.  

Directions for Fish:
Wash and dry fish fillets. Salt and pepper both sides.  Add olive oil to pan and heat on med-high heat.  When pan is hot, add fish fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on size of fillets you may have to cook for a shorter or longer time.  While fish is cooking, squeeze lemon juice over fish and slice lemon and throw in pan with fish. Next add some of the salsa to the pan, not on the fish, but around the fish, like you would in a wok.   When fish is nice and honey brown on one side, turn and continue frying till the other side is also nicely browned.  
Place fresh spinach on platter, if desired, and place fish on top of spinach.  Top with salsa and enjoy! 
Nicely served with Hasselback Potatoes, A mixed berry and Spinach Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing, and a sour dough roll with a glass of your favorite white wine. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grilled Corn On The Cob


6 ears corn, peeled
Olive oil for drizzling over corn
McCormick's Perfect Pinch Vegetable Seasoning
6 pieces of aluminum foil for wrapping corn

Pre-heat grill to medium heat (I use a gas grill)
Peel and wash corn. Lay corn on piece of foil, brush corn with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning.  Wrap corn up in foil and lay on grill.  Cook for -15 min. but do not let burn.  Must turn occasionally, about every 5 minutes,  to heat through thoroughly. 
Carefully unwrap and need for butter and salt with this recipe!

Grilled Pork Baby Back Ribs

     If you love barbecuing like I do, you will appreciate the process of slow grilling and the patience it involves.  Remember in the 1970's, the catsup commercial 'anticipation is making me wait'? Same concept with grilling.  In the end, the result is worth waiting for and fulfilling. 
     Family picnics were always fun, because you always knew there was going to be a barbecue,  but no matter what the occasion or what meat was being grilled, barbecued ribs rocked! and dad always said ' if you didn't have sauce up to your elbows and all over your face, then it wasn't good enough'. 
     Growing up, my uncle owned a restaurant and I learned my appreciation for good food from watching him and my aunt cook, not to say that my parents were not good cooks, as they were.  My dad and his brother were fabulous at cooking. Everyone cooked from scratch back then, and I do too, but every so often I improvise on the ingredients when I am short on of some of my seasonings, or sauces. 
     Today I am sharing a different version of my BBQ Pork Baby Back Ribs.  Later on, I will share with you the recipe for homemade BBQ sauce with baby back ribs. 

Grilled Pork Baby Back Ribs
Recipe by Alisa Soderstrom 


A  3-5 pound slab of baby back ribs
1/4 cup original Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup  Memphis BBQ Sauce
1/8 cup regular BBQ Sauce
Weber N'Orleans Cajun Seasoning

Utensils Needed:
Aluminum Foil
Baking Pan
Small Bowl
Basting Brush
Large grilling fork


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Combine all 3 BBQ Sauces.  Set aside. 

     Lightly sprinkle Cajun seasoning on both sides of ribs.  Place ribs on baking sheet and cover with foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove ribs from the oven and drain off any liquid and discard. 
     ** See note below if you are using the oven instead of grilling.     If you are grilling, now would be the time to pre-heat your grill.

     Now that the grill is pre-heated, place ribs on grill rack.  Baste with the mixed sauces and close grill lid; grill ribs on low for 35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to baste ribs.  If ribs are showing signs of burning, move to upper rack of gas grill, or if using a charcoal grill; raise grill rack up and continue grilling.   After 35 minutes, your ribs should be very sticky and fall apart tender.  Serve with BBQ Sauce for extra dipping. 

**In the oven BBQ Ribs:
     After baking for 1 hour at 400 degrees, remove ribs from oven and  increase  temperature to 'broil'.  Drain liquid from baking pan and baste ribs with BBQ Sauce.  Do not cover.  Place ribs under broiler on lowest level, so as not to burn ribs.  Check every 7-10 minutes, making sure to turn ribs and re-baste to create a thick saucy layer.  After 20 minutes, remove ribs from broiler and cool slightly.  Ribs should be 'fall apart' tender and juicy.   Serve with extra BBQ Sauce for extra dipping.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creamy Pork Loin Enchiladas

Recipe by Alisa Soderstrom


     Have you ever wanted a different kind of comfort food, but did not know what it was you wanted? Well, I've got a surprise for you.  Once you taste these, you will think that you landed into your own private little taste of heaven. 
     I love playing around with different foods and seeing what the end results will be, and I think I found another winner this time around. 
When I was growing up, my folks did not eat a lot of spicy, Mexican dishes, or any other kind of spicy food for that matter.  I did, however, have a wonderful cook for a mother and a dad who knew just what little bit extra of something was needed for the ultimate taste finale.  His brother, my uncle John, owned a fine little restaurant, The Friendly Cafe, with the greatest homemade foods served daily.  Folks would come from miles around just to taste their awesome home cooked foods.  Thanks to all the wonderful cooks in our family, this is how I learned to appreciate the wholesome goodness of food made from the heart.  Just a little bit of love goes a long way if you put enough in the recipe you are preparing. 
     So, here is my little taste of comfort food with just the right amount of love added to make you feel satisfied. 

     Now I like preparing most of my pork and beef in a pressure cooker to get the most flavor from the herbs and spices which will be infused into the meat as it cooks.  You will be totally amazed by the taste you get compared to boiling or baking your meats.  If you are a little apprehensive about using a pressure cooker, prepare your meat in a slow cooker early in the day so that it will be done by the time you need it for the recipe. 

The ingredients and utensils you will need for the seasoning and preparing the pork loin are:
A pressure cooker and a sieve for straining juices from meat
 1 (3-4 lb.) pork loin roast
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, packed
1/2 c. fresh parsley, packed
10 sprigs of thyme
2 sweet onions, cut in half
1 packet of Lipton savory herb and garlic soup mix
1 Tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
8 c.  of water
     First of all, make sure you place your cooking rack in the bottom of the cooker that came with it.  Next, add the water and Lipton soup mix to the pan and stir to mix.  Then add your pork loin and the rest of your herbs and black pepper. 

     I love cooking with fresh herbs as you more taste from them than you would from the dried varieties. 
Before locking on your lid, make sure you have the rubber seal in place.  Then lock on your lid, and place the vent weight on top.  Bring the water to a boil and stabilize your pressure at 17 pounds  for 55 minutes. 

     When the 55 minutes is up, turn off your heat, and remove the vent weight from the lid.  Never attempt to remove lid until the pressure regulator reads zero (0)!!!
After removing the lid, carefully remove meat from the kettle.  Reserve your liquid as you will need it to make your sauce for the next step.  Place on a platter and shred meat thoroughly and set aside.

     Now for the next step: making your creamy enchilada sauce.  I know there is a lot of work here, but the end result is worth it, I promise you. 

For the sauce you will need:

The liquid from your meat after removing the onions and herbs through a strainer/sieve.
4 Tbsp. Butter/margarine
1/2 c. fresh minced onions
6-8 slices of jalapenos from a jar
1/4 c. cilantro
1/4 c. parsley
14/ c. sweet bell peppers, mixed colors
4 Tbsp. Flour
1/2 c. fat free half and half
4 c. shredded white cheddar jalapeno cheese
2 Tbsp. low fat sour cream
10 extra large burrito flour tortillas

     Next you will want to grab a very large and deep sauté pan.  Add your butter and melt over medium heat.  Add your onions, peppers, jalapenos, cilantro, and parsley.   Cook till onions are transparent and peppers are soft. 
     Add your 4 Tbsp. of flour at this time and stir to make your roux. 
     Stir evenly to make a roux, but do not cook to long as it will darken as it cooks.  About 1 minute or two is all that is needed

      Next you will add your strained, reserved liquid from the meat.  Use a wire whisk to incorporate the liquid and roux till it thickens

     After you have a little thickening going, add your half and half cream and stir till thickened
     Now you will add half of your cheese (about 1 1/2 c.) depending on your preferences for taste and thickness.  Stir till well incorporated.  At this point, you will add about have this done, you are ready to add your sour cream. 
Remove from heat, and spoon half of the sauce to a bowl.  Add all of your shredded meat to the bowl and sauce and mix well. 
     We're getting close to the end here, I know, it's a lot of work.  Once you do this a few times, you get through it pretty fast.  So now, we get to use our flour tortillas.  Put your meat on there, as much as you can get in, but leave a little space for wrapping.  Now you are going to roll it up like you would a burrito.  Hopefully the illustrations I have shown you will help you out here.

     Place your enchiladas all nice and cozy in a baking pan with non-stick spray
Add the rest of your roux over the enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. 

Now you get to bake your creamy pork loin enchiladas!!!
400 degrees for 35 minutes, or until nice and bubbly with a few golden spots across the cheese. 
Mmmm..., they look so yummy, I can almost smell them as if I were baking them again myself.  I really do hope that you enjoy this recipe.