Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers-An American classic

Food culture fascinates me and this is where my connection to everything food begins.

I have often wondered if Americans really have a cuisine that they can call their own.  A cuisine that rivals and matches the bragging rights of other world cuisines.  My response?  Yes, we do, devoid of canned Spam, McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the other voluminous food chains with a drive thru.  Americans do indeed have a diverse food cuisine.  Our Native American ingredients included tomatoes, corn, yams, sweet potatoes and a variety of beans. These ingredients were unknown in Europe and Africa (Yes folks, spaghetti sauce is a relatively new food dish making it's appearance in Italian cookbooks around 1790).  Early European, Spanish and African influences and modern day immigration to the United States provided a wealth of available ingredients, flavors and cuisines that over the generations have fused together and become American.

Stuffing vegetables is a traditional practice around the world. Stuffing vegetables in American cuisine usually involves the bell pepper.

Here is my personal recipe for American style stuffed peppers.

American Style Stuffed Bell Peppers
Serves 4

2 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil
1lb. good quality chorizo sausage, crumbled (squeezed out of the casing)
1 large onion, chopped finely
3 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely
4 large bell peppers, tops cut away, bottoms trimmed slightly to stand up flat, and seeds removed (note: I use the peppers from the bottom trim to add to the mixture.)
15.5 oz black beans, drained
1 cup long grained rice
8 oz. good crumbling cheese such as feta, or Mexican crumbling cheese
Salt and pepper
Note: Salsa or a rich flavored tomato sauce is a good choice for topping the peppers while baking.

1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

2.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add crumbled sausage, onion, chopped leftover bell pepper, and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes.
Note: Continue to break up the sausage while cooking with a spoon.

3.  Add rice and saute for 3-5 minutes.  

4.  Add water (approximately 1 cup), black beans and parsley.

5.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Note: This is a good time to adjust seasonings to taste

6.  Pour just enough water to cover the bottom of the baking dish about 1/8-inch.

7.  Stuff the bell peppers with the rice mixture, place on the cut off tops, and place in the baking dish.

8.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil ( to allow the peppers to steam).  Bake peppers until the peppers are tender, and the filling is heated through approximately 1 to 1-1/2 hours.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Emeril's Horseradish Coleslaw

If you are looking for a new way to serve coleslaw you may have stumbled upon your new recipe. The fresh taste of horseradish and tart apples brings traditional coleslaw to a new level.

Horseradish Coleslaw
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Recipe from Emeril's Potluck

5 cups shredded green cabbage
5 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus, 1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish or 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Creole mustard or other coarse-grained mustard

1.  Combine the green and red cabbages, carrots and green onions in a large mixing bowl.  In a small bowl toss the cubed apples with the lemon juice and add to cabbage mixture.

2.  In a small mixing bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the seasoned vinegar mixture over the cabbage mixture and toss to thoroughly combine. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.

3.  In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, mustard and stir to combine.  Add the mayonnaise mixture to the coleslaw and toss to combine thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight before serving.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sliced Tomatoes with Green Pepper Salsa

Are you feeling Summer yet?

Sliced Tomatoes with Green Pepper Salsa
Serves 8
Recipe prepared by Johnathan Cohea
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons seeded, chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1(4-ounce) container alfalfa sprouts
4 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Arrange alfafa sprouts on a serving plate; top with tomato slices.  Using a slotted spoon, top with pepper mixture; drizzle with remaining pepper salsa liquid.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo Submitted by Tina at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manner

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Sunday Morning Cajun Bloody Mary

We are headed to New Orleans.  We wanted a jump start to enjoying our get away.  What better way, than starting a Sunday morning with friends, and enjoying a Cajun Bloody Mary.   Cheers.

Cajun Bloody Mary
Makes 1 cocktail
Recipe adapted from the restaurant Cochon in New Orleans

4 oz. tomato juice
1 oz. beef broth
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Tabasco, to taste
Pickled okra juice, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-1/2 oz. vodka (note: we used 2 oz)
Pickled okra, for garnish

In a mixing glass, combine the tomato juice, broth, mustard, lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic powder and season with Tabasco, okra juice, and black pepper; refrigerate mixture until chilled.  To serve, fill a rocks glass with ice cubes, pour in vodka, and stir in tomato juice mixture.  Garnish with okra.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sunday Supper with Rice and Vegetable Pilaf

Sunday is the day, we make a point of sitting down together to enjoy the pleasure that comes with enjoying a good meal with family and friends. We eat, and we do it well.  Monday through Friday, we are flinging food, opening cans, listening to the beep of the microwave, hauling tail through the drive thru, and moving at a constant pace.  There are days where food is very random-it is whatever you can scrounge, leftovers from the weekend but on Sunday, that's different.

Our traditional Sunday gathering is not always at our home.  We take the show on the road too.  This past Sunday, our friends were feeling the upcoming summer veggie craze too and prepared an entire meal that smacked of Summer.  Do you think we are tired of being cold and wet?  Yes, we are!

I wanted to share with you the recipe for the vegetable rice-pilaf dish that we enjoyed this weekend.

Can you feel the upcoming Summer veggie craze too? Look at those Summer colors!

Rice-Vegetable Pilaf
Serves 6-8
Recipe from Southern Living and Prepared by Jonathan Cohea

1-1/3 cups water
1 teaspoon chicken-flavored bouillon granules
1/2 cup long grain rice, uncooked (Note: brown rice was used)
1-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1-1/2 cups coarsely shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Combine water and bouillon granules in a saucepan; bring to a boil.  Add rice; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Remove from heat; uncover and stir in mushrooms and next 5 ingredients.  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Cook over low heat 5 minutes until excess moisture has evaporated.  Sprinkle with pecans.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Cooking Gallery

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roasted Asparagus Salad

Is it Summer yet?  I am wishing fast and furious for the summer veggies that will be available in abundance, not the heat that will surely wilt me.

In my world there are three key factors that make a salad more than just a salad.  First, the ingredients are fresh.  Second, there is plenty of color.  The health benefits of having a lot of color in your salads, or any dish, is that color is natures way of letting us know that what we are about to eat, is good for us.  And third, the salad is drizzled or tossed lightly with a dressing that did not make its way out of a bottle.

You can add even more color to this salad by roasting squash, zucchini, carrots or other favorite vegetables.

Roasted Asparagus Salad
Makes 8 servings
Recipe idea from Southern Living

1-1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 avocado, sliced

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus; remove scales with a vegetable peeler, if desired.

2.  Stir together 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped basil, 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.

3.  Add asparagus to olive oil mixture, and toss gently to coat.  Place asparagus on a lightly greased baking sheet.

4.  Bake asparagus at 425 degrees F. for 13 to 15 minutes or to desired degree of tender ness.  Cool 10 minutes.

5.   Whisk together balsamic vinegar, garlic, and remaining 7 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

6.  Toss together tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar mixture.

7.  Arrange lettuce on individual serving plates (note: I prefer using a platter to serve salad).  Top with tomato mixture and asparagus.  Add avocado just before serving.  Drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar mixture.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Guest Post: Pot Roast Potato Skins

I am honored to welcome Kim from Stirring the Pot as a guest blogger today at Tomatoes on the Vine.   

If you have not visited Kim's blog please hop over and say hello.  Kim is an avid cook, a lover of cookbooks and one of my favorite fellow-food bloggers.  Her food style is about comfort, and keeping it real.  These are two qualities that I also aspire to in my food journey.

Pot Roast Potato Skins
Serves 6
Recipe prepared by Kim at Stirring the Pot
Adapted from Claire Robinson's Beef and Onion Stuffed Potatoes

8 cups low-sodium beef stock
3 large russet potatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and finely ground pepper
Water, as needed
1-1/2 cups sliced onions
5-6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1-2 tablespoons red wine, beef broth or water
1/2 cup milk, cream, half &Half( whatever you use to make your mashed potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter, or desired amount for mashed potatoes
3-4 tablespoons chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F.

Put the beef stock in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, leaving 4 cups.

Prick potatoes with a fork, rub lightly with olive oil, salt lightly, and wrap in foil.  Bake the potatoes for about 1 hour, or until cooked throughout.  When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half lengthwise and using a spoon, remove the potato flesh and reserve, leaving 1/2-inch thick rim around edges.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the baking sheet and put potato shells on it, cut side down; bake until the cut side is golden brown and skin is crispy, about 20 minutes. (Note; This will result in a very crisp and crunchy potato skin.  If you would like your potato skins less crispy, bake only 10 minutes or until desired result, whichever comes first).

Pat the meat pieces dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and sear the beef on all sides to a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove the meat to a plate and carefully add 1-2 tablespoons of either red wine, beef broth or water to the hot pot, scraping up the brown bits from bottom of the pan.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil, add the sliced onions and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cook about 7 minutes, stirring often, until the onions begin to caramelize, adding water, as needed to deglaze the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  When the onions are a deep golden brown, add the sliced garlic and cook for one minute, add the reduced beef stock, the beef(and its juices, and bring to a boil.  reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.  Cook about 2-3 hours, until the meat is tender and broth reduces to a gravy-like consistency.

Mash the reserved potato with a masher until smooth, adding milk and butter until reaching desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste and mix well.

Ladle the pot roast into the crisp potato bowl, top with a spoon of mashed potatoes, sprinkle with chives.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Nora Mulrooney @

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Welcome to Sunday Supper and Arroz con Pollo

Welcome to Sunday Supper.  Pull-up a chair and stay for awhile.

The weather is warm and the beer is cold. 

Miami is a melting pot of cultures, the food, is a reflection of its diverse culinary traditions.  I often think of how the food, growing up in Miami helped to create some of my basic beliefs about the world, and the profound influence a diverse food culture has had on my life.  

A significant influence, was Cuban food.  The distinct Cuban flavor and simplified style of cooking was influenced by both African and Spanish cultures.  

A quintessential favorite Cuban dish is Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken).  Although this dish makes its presence known in the Caribbean, and other Latin countries, its Cuba that this dish takes front center stage.  Growing- up it seemed every family had their version of this dish.  This one pot meal, often served with fried plantains was always served up family style.  A style of serving food that continues to be my favorite way feeding family and friends.  

An arroz con pollo starts with a basic sofrito of olive oil, onions, garlic, bell peppers, bay leaf, ground pepper, a blend of latin spices, and in this recipe, the addition of tomato sauce.

NoteSofrito serves as a foundation for many Latin dishes including stews, sauces, beans, rices and other dishes.

The chicken pieces are then added to the sofrito 

Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)
Serves 8-10

A whole chicken, cut up
1/2 lemon
1/2 orange
1 small green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Bijol (Note: Bijol can be found at most Latin and ethnic food markets. You can use other brands such as Sazon).
3/4 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4  cup dry white cooking wine
8-1/2 ounces canned small peas
10-1/2 ounces canned asparagus
2 cups rice
1/2 a bottle of beer
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 of a roasted red pepper (pimento)for garnish

1.  Remove all skin from chicken.  Rinse chicken and sprinkle with juice from lemon and orange.

2.  Prepare a sofrito by combining green pepper, onion, garlic, bay leaf, ground pepper, bijol, tomato sauce, and olive oil.  Cook over medium-high heat in a large pot for five minutes, stirring frequently.  Lower heat and add chicken pieces, cooking chicken for approximately three minutes each side.

3.  Add salt, cooking wine, juice from can of peas, juice from can of asparagus and 1-1/2 cups of water.  Poach chicken over medium-high heat in a large pot (covered) for 30 minutes, or until tender.  Remove chicken from the pot and set aside.

4.  Add 2 cups rice to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover ( note: you may need to add additional water to the pot to cook the rice).  Reduce heat and cook rice for approximately 30 minutes.  When rice is nearly cooked, add 1/2 a bottle of beer to rice and stir well.  Rice should remain moist.

5.  Add chicken to the rice and simmer for five minutes.  Correct salt to taste and serve, garnished with peas, asparagus and pimento.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Goat Cheese Croutons with Wild Mushrooms and Madeira Cream

Another Cooking Club smash hit.  Thanks Shirley for sharing this dish with your friends.  A blend of wild mushrooms sauteed in cream and Madeira makes for a perfect Winter appetizer.

Goat Cheese Croutons with Wild Mushrooms and Madeira Cream
Serves 4
Recipe prepared by Shirley Mcfadden

Goat Cheese Croutons

1/2 cup fresh goat cheese softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 slices whole grain bread

Madeira Cream

2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
1 cup Maderia
1 cup heavy cream

Wild Mushrooms:

1/2 pound wild mushrooms ( preferably a mix of oyster mushrooms, shitakes, chantrelles)
2 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
Maderia cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
Goat cheese croutons

In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the goat cheese and butter.  Lightly toast the bread.  Spread equal portions of the goat cheese mixture on the toast.

Trim the crusts and cut the squares in half.  (The toasts will have a cleaner edge, if you trim the crusts after spreading on the goat cheese.)  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, simmer the shallots in Madeira until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup.  Add the cream, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 5-10 minutes, until the cream thickens slightly.  Set aside.

Turn on the broiler.

Remove the tough stems from the mushrooms and discard.  Slice or tear the mushrooms into pieces.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

When the butter is bubbling but not browned, add the mushrooms and cook until they're golden brown and crispy, 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and Madeira cream.  Turn the heat to high and boil for about 2 minutes, until the mushrooms have absorbed most of the cream.

Season with salt and pepper and fold in the 2 teaspoons chives.

Broil the goat cheese croutons until bubbly and lightly browned.  Arrange the croutons on plates and spoon the mushroom mixture over them.  Garnish with chives.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Jennifer @