Low Country Kebabs

DSC_0532I seem to have a love hate relationship with kebabs.  I love the idea of making kebabs, I find them to be a fun twist on a meal, especially since you can customize them.  However each and every time I get them made and put on the grill I remember that I hate cooking kebabs.  I realize the idea has been around for years.  When pioneers and explorers cooked over a fire they used sticks to cook their food.  When you go camping these methods are still used.  In fact we own these extending sticks for making s’mores and such in our backyard fireplace, but there is a big difference in a light airy marshmallow and a stick full of meat and vegetables.

Obviously for even cooking one must rotate the sticks.  We see this same idea with rotisserie chicken and similar type items.  But the kebab sticks once they are loaded with items just never seem to rotate well for me.  Does anyone else have this problem?  I consider myself fairly skilled at the grill and can cook a variety of items over it, but the rotating of kebabs throws me each and every time as I never seem to be able to rotate them evenly.  And that is not the only challenge.  Once you have this beautifully grilled stick of meats and vegetables, you have to get them off when the metal is hot and hope the items land nicely on your plate. UGH!  It sounds so simple in theory.

The idea of these kebabs came from my always wanting to have a low country boil.  About 10 years ago, we were visiting friends at a nearby lake and they took us to a dive on the water to eat.  It was great. I had never had a low country boil.  The huge pot of seasoned food arrived at our picnic table.  It was dumped out and everyone started eating.  Of course most of the items are eaten with your hands, so there were rolls of paper towels on the table as well.  It was such a simple meal, yet everyone was sitting around licking their fingers and using paper towel after paper towel.  It was a blast.

I have replicated the idea once or twice with a larger group of friends and it is always well received.  On this particular occasion, it was just the three of us, so I scaled it down to this taking advantage of the lovely summer evening and cooking over the grill rather than a pot of hot water.

Low Country Kebabs

1 kielbasa or turkey sausage, cut into chunks

2-3 ears of corn, cut into 2-3 inch pieces

1/2 lb. shrimp

10 small potatoes, partially pre-boiled

Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Low Country or Creole* seasoning

In a large ziploc bag mix about 1/4 cup olive oil and the seasoning mix.  Marinate the shrimp and corn for 20-30 minutes.  In the meantime pre boil the potatoes for about 3-5 minutes depending on their size.  Allow to cool and then build your kebabs.  Grill for 15-20 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes.  Remove from kebab sticks and enjoy.  You may serve alongside melted or clarified butter to enhance the flavor of the corn, potatoes, and shrimp.

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* I used Emeril’s creole seasoning that I had on hand.

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Pan Seared Salmon with Corn & Bacon Saute

IMG_3536I finally got back to the Recipe Must Make List that was inspired by Little Miss Mixture back in May.  Fish is one of those things that I tend to order more out than make at home.  I have always enjoyed certain types of fish, but I just never seem to purchase it a lot.  I know that we really should eat it more, at least one to two times a week.  Maybe that should be a food goal of mine for next year.

Anyway we like salmon and when I find sockeye on sale it is hard to resist.  So a couple of weeks ago I bought some salmon.  We had a nice grilled meal that day and I froze the rest.  This week knowing I wanted to use the salmon, I went straight to the must try list.  There was a perfect dish for a weeknight dinner that Little Miss Mixture had added from the April 2014 Cooking Light.

Seared Salmon with Sweet Corn and Bacon Saute was pictured in the magazine and looked good.  Though as I have mentioned in the blog before sometimes I know what catches Little Miss Mixture’s eye and it this is was bacon.  She loves bacon and eat or at least try anything that has bacon in it.  Thus the night she ordered Bacon wrapped Dates for dinner even though she is not a date fan.  She ate them though and enjoyed them.  This recipe as many do uses only a small amount of bacon to provide added flavor.  I recently started purchasing a pack of nitrate free bacon and wrapping two to three pieces up and freezing them for recipes exactly like this.

As you have probably figured out by now if you have read enough post, I never seem to follow recipes exactly.  I try and on occasion I do especially with certain items.  I had all intention of following this recipe aside from substituting fresh corn for frozen because I just cannot see using frozen produce when it is in season.  I am not a big frozen produce person anyway unless I have bought it fresh and frozen it myself as I do with a lot of fruit for our smoothies.  However, as I set out to create our dinner, I realized I unexpectedly had already used the green onions that I purchased for the seared salmon with sweet corn and bacon dish.

What is a girl to do?

There are really two options.  # 1 Throw on some shoes and get everyone in the car to run get the forgotten item or # 2 improvise.  Well in this case since I had the main ingredients on hand I decided to improvise and it turned out perfectly.

Pan Seared Salmon with Corn & Bacon Sauté

Ingredients

  • 3 center – cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 Medium shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ onion, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, white parts only, divided
  • ¼ – ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 ears fresh corn, cut from cob
  • ½ bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp, plus freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 center – cut salmon fillets, skinned (6 – ounce)

Directions for Sauté

1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat 4 minutes or until almost done, stirring occasionally.

2. Add shallot, onion, and 2/3 white parts of green onions; sauté 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

3. Stir in vinegar, corn, bell pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook 4 minutes.

4. Make sure you still have some liquid in pan, cover and continue to cook on low while you prepare the fish.

5. Taste and add more pepper if desired.

6. Just before serving mix in remaining white parts of green onion. This adds a little crunch to the dish.

Directions for Salmon

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat.

2. Sprinkle fillets with remaining ¼ – 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

3. Add fillets to pan; cook 4 minutes.

4. Turn and cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.

Divide corn mixture among 4 plates; top with fillets.

Printable Recipe Pan Seared salmon with bacon and corn sauté

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If you are looking for a sweet treat today, be sure to find some Cheesecake.  Happy National Cheesecake Day!

Check out some of these great cheesecake recipes.

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Polka Dot Cheesecake 

S’mores Cheesecake 

Cheesecake Ball

 

 

Blackberry, Yellow Squash & Goat Cheese Salad

IMG_3216We have had some great salad meals recently.  I love salads as a main meal and summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the fresh produce and fill your bowl.  It also is a great alternative for dinner since it requires minimal cooking and the less I use the stovetop or oven in the summer the happier I am.  Fire up the grill and toss the items on a bed of greens and I am a happy girl.

I have a couple of salad combinations that I have been putting together for years.  One of my favorites in the middle of July is Grilled Peaches and Chicken.  This is a perfect entree salad when the freestone peaches are ripe.  We had this recently, but my blogger brain was not on as I forgot to snap any pictures.  However, I do have the recipe on my site – Mixed Greens with Grilled Peaches & Chicken. 

As we we browsing the farmer’s market the other day, Little Miss Mixture and I decided to make a big salad for dinner.  As I mention in the Mixed Greens and Grilled Peaches recipe, the dressing is quite versatile.  I find it to be the base of my favorite type of balsamic.  I knew blackberries and goat cheese would blend well with a balsamic, so I began gathering items to create dinner.

The blackberries are fabulous right now.  I knew I had a salad recipe that blackberries were used, so I referred to that as the base of our meal once I got home.  While at the market, I had picked up some local yellow squash, corn.  As I was preparing my balsamic, I noticed I had a brioche roll that had not been used.  I quickly cut it into 1 inch cubes, tossed it with some melted butter in a cast iron skillet and then placed them in the oven for about 12 minutes.  Homemade croutons are a great way to use up rolls or breads.

 

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Blackberry, Grilled Squash & Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients
Mixed Greens
1 Yellow Squash, sliced lengthwise
Mushrooms (Freshly Sliced)
Goat Cheese, crumbled
fresh blackberries
Croutons
avocado, diced
Shrimp, peeled, deveined

Directions
Preheat grill to 350 degrees. Marinate shrimp in olive oil and creole seasonings. Marinate squash in olive oil and some fresh ground pepper.
While squash and shrimp are on grill. Place mixed greens in all bowls. Top with sliced mushrooms, avocado, and goat cheese.
Wash and gently dry fresh blackberries
Top salad with shrimp, grilled squash and blackberries. Top with dressing and croutons and enjoy.
Dressing should be a Dijon balsamic for best flavor

 

Jambalaya

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For quite some time I had a go to easy dinner that was probably one of the most processed items in our house.  It was perfect as it was shelf stable and could be a last minute meal in about 30 minutes.  This was also one of the few meals Mr. Mixture could make himself and usually did when I traveled.  I will admit there is still a box in the back of the pantry for an emergency, but last summer I finally decided to give Jambalaya from scratch a try.

I had made versions of cajun meals before – gumbo, crawfish étouffée type item, but they never seemed as authentic as I wanted and though they were good meals they still left you yearning for the real New Orleans taste.  I say this yet I have never been to New Orleans so it is really a taste that I envision or one created by visiting some cajun restaurants over the years.

I follow 100 days of real food and though I do not think her lifestyle works for everyone and as a dietitian I have some differing ideas, we have spoken and definitely have a lot in common. I noticed there was a recipe for Jambalaya in her recipe index and though I knew I would need to make changes, as I am not a huge oyster fan, the recipe had great potential.

I already had creole seasoning as I had made a batch for another recipe we had tried previously from the Tupelo Honey Cookbook. A favorite restaurant of ours in Asheville, North Carolina.

Jambalaya

Ingredients
2 Tbsp butter
1 lb of sausage (andouille or kielbasa depends on the level of heat you want in the dish)
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 Large ribs celery, chopped
1 Small head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
1 tsp Creole seasoning (sold premixed or make some)
2 Large tomatoes chopped*
1/2 pound shrimp**
1 1/2 Cups quick cooking brown rice
2 Cups chicken stock/broth (if you don’t have any stock you could use water instead)*
1 Cup water
Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Green onions and Jalapeños for garnish

* I find this is a great meal in the winter, but tomatoes have no flavor during that time of the year.  I substitute one can/ box diced tomatoes, partially drained.  When I make this substitution I reduce the chicken stock/broth to 1 cup and use the tomato juice to add flavor.

** Precooked shrimp and sausage can be substituted without a change to the recipe. If using precooked sausage add during step #3 in directions.

Directions
1. Combine the butter and sausage in a large skillet pot over high heat (I prefer my Le Creuset for even cooking). Cook for about 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Note if using precooked sausage skip to step #2
2. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic, Creole seasoning. Sauté over high heat for about 8 minutes, or until the veggies have browned and carmelized.
3. Add the tomatoes, shrimp, and sausage if using precooked, and stir for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the rice, stir gently, then add the broth and water. Gently stir the rice again to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Taste and if you desire a hotter taste add a few drops of hot sauce, stir and continue to simmer a few more minutes.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (or until the rice is tender).
6. Garnish with green onions, jalapeños and serve.

Jambalaya Printer Version

Mr. Mixture whom continues to enjoy the boxed version that we had discovered during graduate school days.  A perfect meal when on a student budget, gave a raving review.  This new jambalaya from scratch recipe has become a regularly requested meal and for good reason.  It can be spiced up to suit everyones taste and it is a great weeknight one pot meal that can easily be prepared and held for different family members mealtimes.