Friday, May 30, 2008

Smoke Grilled African Bird Pepper Chicken Kabobs w/ Veggies, Over Rice

This is one of our favorite meals but is often so time consuming that I just pass on making it. However, with the right amount of preparation ahead of time, it can be quite simple. Most of the preparation is chopping, which can always be done ahead of time. I always just wait until the last minute.

The secret ingredient and the key to the subtle heat of the marinade is called African Bird Pepper, which makes Cayenne Pepper seem like paprika. Only a very light sprinkling leaves food with a definite bite, but different from jalapeno or habanero pepper hot. I get this amazing powder at a wonderful little shop in downtown Galveston, Texas, called Maceo Spice & Imports. This place has the most wonderful items... like 12 oz. jars of imported Beluga caviar, fresh handmade cheeses, imported olive oils, fresh & dried pastas. I could go on forever. Every time we go to Galveston to visit our friends, we make a special trip downtown to The Strand to this family owned market.



  • 3 Plump Chicken Breasts, skinless & boneless

  • 1 Pkg. Whole Mushrooms, cleaned & trimmed

  • 1 Pkg. of Small Onions, cleaned & trimmed

  • 1 Pkg. of Cherry or Plum Tomatoes

  • 1-2 Yellow Squash, washed & chopped into large chunks

  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped into large chunks

  • 1/2 Green Bell Pepper, chopped into large chunks

  • 6 Long Metal (or bamboo) Skewers

  • Vegetable Cooking Spray


  • 1/2 Cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce Light

  • 1/2 Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 Tsp. Dry Mustard

  • 1 Tbls. Honey

  • Light sprinkling of African Bird Pepper

  • Salt & Pepper, to taste


1. Trim and chop chicken breasts into desired size pieces.

2. Using glass casserole dish, combine all ingredients for the marinade and mix well using a whisk. Place chicken pieces in marinade & refrigerate for at least two hours. I usually save a little to marinade the veggies in another bowl.

3. After getting fire started, you can begin the assembly of chicken & veggies. I always spray the skewers with vegetable cooking spray, which makes removal ever so much easier. You should be done by the time the fire is ready, approximately 20-25 minutes.

4. When fire is ready, place some water soaked hickory chips on the coals.

5. Place the skewers on the grill, watching, moving & turning as needed.

6. When grilled to desired doneness, remove from fire, remove the skewers and serve over rice.

7. We also had this again the next night with fresh rice and it was even better.

8. Bon Appetit!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Risotto Cakes, Snooty Style

At my house we adore Risotto Cakes, so I often freeze half of the recipe, already shaped into cakes. Since there are just the two of us now, most of my recipes are too big for us, so I freeze a lot of things. These cakes freeze amazingly well. The first time I made these I dipped them in Mashed Potato Flakes to coat both sides. We later decided that was entirely too decadent. That said, here is my recipe for them:

Risotto Cakes:


1 Cup Arborio Rice (good for lowering cholesterol)

4 Cups Chicken Stock

5 Garlic Cloves, pressed

1 Cup Red Onion, finely chopped

3 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Dry White Wine

1/2 Cup Grated or Shredded Parmesan Cheese, fresh

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley

Sea Salt & Pepper, to taste


1. In a medium saucepan melt 2 Tbls. of the butter and add the olive oil. Saute' the onion & garlic over medium heat until onion is translucent.

2. Add the rice and mix well to coat. Stir the mixture over heat, pan frying for one minute, or until you smell the fragrance.

3. Add wine & allow to evaporate, then add one cup of the chicken stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally until all liquid has been absorbed.

4. Continue adding chicken stock by 1/4 cupfuls, stirring occasionally.

5. When rice is cooked (approximately 20 minutes), add the remaining one Tbls. of butter, parmesan cheese and parsley. Stir vigorously.

6. Allow mixture to cool for an hour or so. You can use the refrigerator to do this, but I just set it on the counter, covered in plastic wrap, under the ceiling fan, which works quite well.

7. When ready to cook the cakes, shape a fistful of the mixture into small patties.

8. Be sure that your oil is hot enough or they will just soak up all the oil. I usually start this when the oil is just beginning to smoke.

9. Brown on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cakes reach desired color.

10. Drain risotto cakes on paper towels and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

11. Sprinkle a little shredded or grated Parmesan over the tops. They are also great served with Hollandaise Sauce.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Almost Homemade Pizza

When I've got leftovers and want to make a quick pizza, I make this recipe. I call it:

AlmostHomemade Pizza
1 Package of Pillsbury Pizza Crust
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
1 Can of Small Artichoke Hearts
1 Small can of sliced black olives
1 Package of Grated Mozzarella
1 Package of Italian Style 6 Cheese Grated Cheese
1/2 Pound of Ground Sirloin, browned
1 Onion, chopped
1 Package of Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon Oregano (dried)

When I make this recipe, it makes enough for two large VERY thin pizzas. The night before we had the pizza, I made hamburgers and since there are only two of us, we only used half of the pound of ground sirloin that I'd bought. So, I went ahead & browned the meat in a skillet, to use the next night on the pizza. When I make the two pizzas, we eat one that night and freeze the other one to be eaten a couple of days later, usually on the weekend.

1. Remove pizza dough from carton and cut in half. Roll out each piece of pizza dough on 2 cookie sheets (or pizza pans) and begin working it & stretching it thinner & larger.

2. Poke holes all over each pizza with a fork, then place in a 350 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until just partially cooked. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. While you're waiting, you can lightly saute the mushrooms for a minute or two, but this step can be skipped if you prefer.

4. Empty contents of can of tomatoes into a food processor, add the tablespoon of oregano and process until smooth.

5. Using a tablespoon, spread tomato sauce evenly around each of the pizzas.

6. Now add a light layer of the 6 cheese mixture to each pizza.

7. Sprinkle the ground sirloin evenly over both pizzas.

8. Next, sprinkle the chopped artichoke hearts evenly over both pizzas, then repeat process using the black olives, the chopped onions, and the lightly suateed mushrooms.

9. The last ingredient to go on is the cheese, which you can put on as much or as little as you like. Since I seldom ever measure anything, I can only tell you that I normally use about 1/2 of each package of cheese.

10. Cooking the pizza is the tricky part. I usually set the oven to 400 degrees and bake it for approximately 8 or 9 minutes. Then, I turn the oven to Broil and cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes at the same temperature, but you kind of have to stand there & watch it closely so that it doesn't burn. Unless, of course, you like it that way.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day One... My First Cooking Blog

I've been cooking roughly since I was a child. I didn't always like to cook, but it was a necessity to stay alive, so I did it.

Even when I had my own children, I wasn't in the least bit thrilled about making baby food or fish sticks. So, it really wasn't until the kids were teenagers that I began to enjoy cooking. It was gradual at first, but by the time both kids were gone & living on their own, I was starting a new relationship with cooking that involved nothing but love.

We have three very close *couple friends* who are also enthusiastic about gourmet cooking and the art of fine dining. Once a month, one of us would have dinner for the group and often we'd eat outside, if the weather allowed. Each of us wanted to wow the others and it was always fun to see what everyone would come up with. Oh, the fabulous meals we had!

Whoever was doing all the cooking, did so on their own and the other couples would select outstanding wines to bring. Believe me, we have had some amazing wines with our meals. One night, when I had made Bloody Mary Steaks w/ Sun Dried Tomato & Horseradish Butter, one friend brought several bottles of Vampire wine. I think it was a Cabernet, but not for certain. It was the perfect accompaniment to the steaks. I will put that recipe up for you sometime in the near future and you will love it. As we've all gotten older, two of the three couples spend half the year at their second homes and the other half here, so we aren't able to have dinners like we used to, which is sad.

Mr. Snooty has started cooking as well, which has added an entirely new twist to our lives, but I'm loving it! I'm not sure that he will ever let me photograph him cooking, but I promise you I will get you his recipe for pan-fried steak. It's the best flavor ever.

So, let's get started with today's recipe, shall we? This is one of my all-time favorite appetizer recipes.

Feta Confetti or Feta Relish:

1 Large Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Large Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Large Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 Large Orange Bell Pepper, diced
1 Large Red Onion, diced
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
4 Fresh Cloves Garlic, minced
4 Tablespoons of Garlic Flavored Olive Oil (or plain can be used)
10 Ounces of Crumbled Feta Cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste

1. Finely dice all the bell peppers, the onion, the garlic, and the cilantro and combine in a bowl.

2. Add olive oil and stir, making sure the mixture is well coated.

3. Add Feta last, stirring in the bell pepper mixture carefully, so as to not liquefy cheese.

4. Add salt & pepper, to taste.

5. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve with crackers.

This recipe can also be used as a topping for on fish or chicken as well as using it tossed into pasta. It could also be used as a stuffing for various meats and vegetables. Goat cheese could also be used. (Yuck! But, it's okay if someone else uses it, as long as I'm not invited.)