Brown Rice Paella

I love paella.

Correction:  I love this paella.

Until recently, paella was intimidating to me because of three things:

It typically has seafood in it (ew!).
I was under the impression it took forever to make.
It typically has white rice in it.

So mostly I avoided it until I stumbled upon this gem in Food Network magazine.  Not only is it seafood-free, and not only was it in Food Network magazine which made me think it would be super easy to make, but it is a recipe from my favoritest chef ever – Jose Garces.  Jose Garces has several restaurants in Philadelphia, and I have been to almost all of them.  In my eyes, the man can do no wrong.  I just haaad to make this recipe when I saw it because basically I would eat anything Jose Garces put in front of me – EVEN SEAFOOD – yes folks, I lied a little bit, actually the only seafood I eat anywhere in the whole entire world is the fish taco at Distrito.  Even then I can only eat one because my mind starts getting all like YOUREEATINGFISH YOUREEATINGFISH YOURREEATINGFISH and I can’t get through a second one.

Ok anyway.  Back to paella.

So the first time I made this, it took me all afternoon.  Hours.  Many hours.  On my feet.  Mostly because I did not sit and think about how I could combine steps instead of waiting for one step to be done before moving on to the next.  I don’t think the recipe was originally written in that way, but also I probably was just so excited that I couldn’t concentrate. (I get like that.  So excited about food that I can’t concentrate.)  But all those hours of hard work paid off because my house smelled amazing and we sat down to eat and we were blown away.  I felt like I was at a Garces restaurant.  It was dreamy.

Then the second time I made it, I was able to get it done a little quicker but not by much.

I loved this recipe and wanted to make it more often but the time it took to get done, and the fact that it had white rice in it, kept me from making it more.  Hm, how to solve this dilemma?

I’m not a fan of white rice.  I try to stay as far away from white stuff as possible.  In the case of paella, I didn’t think I could simply sub brown rice in and let it cook all together as the recipe says to, because I seem to have serious issues cooking brown rice according to package directions.  Maybe it’s just me.  I have some kind of defect in the area of my brain that should know how to cook brown rice.  It always takes way longer and way more stock before it’s done.  Sigh.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.  (Read:  I’m getting excited and I can’t concentrate.)  I came up with the idea of subbing brown rice recently because I had half of the chicken mixture leftover and was trying to figure out how I could use it.  Solution: mix it in with cooked brown rice instead of finishing the paella recipe as it directs.  And the more I thought about it, the more I thought I would also able to reduce the amount of time it all takes by combining several steps and eliminating many steps as well.

I think what you’ll find here is a paella recipe that results in a quicker turnaround time, less pots and pans to be used, and no white rice (or seafood!  *fistpump*).  🙂  I timed myself when I made this and I actually had the whole thing done in almost exactly one hour.  Try it and let me know what you think!

Brown Rice Paella

Brown Rice Paella
Serves: 4 hearty servings
Time: 1 hour if your chicken is already poached and shredded; otherwise tack on another hour (see Notes)

Saffron Stock Ingredients
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon saffron threads

Chorizo and Rice Ingredients
2 links Spanish chorizo, sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup short grain brown rice (I use Lundberg)

Smoked Paprika Chicken Mixture Ingredients
1 Spanish onion, sliced thin
2 red bell peppers, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Cooking spray
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 lb chicken breasts, poached and shredded

Paella Stir-In Ingredients
1/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
2 tablespoons thinly sliced piquillo peppers (or pimentos, if you can’t find piquillos)

Directions
Follow these directions exactly and you will have dinner on the table in about an hour!

1. Make Saffron Stock: Bring chicken stock and tomato paste to a simmer over medium heat. Add saffron threads and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Get the Chorizo and Rice going: While your stock is simmering, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced chorizo and cook until browned and fat has rendered, about 5-10 minutes. Remove chorizo to a paper-towel lined plate. Pour off most of the fat in the skillet, leaving only about 2-3 teaspoons in the pan. Add the rice, and stir to coat in the fat. Saute for about 2-3 minutes. By this time your Saffron Stock should be ready. Get a fine-mesh strainer and hold it over the skillet of rice while you pour the Saffron Stock through the strainer. (This is to catch the saffron threads.) Stir to combine. Cover the rice, lower the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes or until done. (The directions to cook brown rice may vary by brand.)

3. Make the Smoked Paprika Chicken Mixture: While the rice is cooking, get everything ready to make the Smoked Paprika Chicken mixture. Slice your peppers, onions, and garlic. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add vegetables and cook for 10-12 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste, ketchup, smoked Spanish paprika, and chicken stock to a blender. Blend until combined. Pour the mixture into the skillet with the peppers and onions, and cook until the sauce thickens, about 8-10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and stir to coat with the sauce. Lower heat to low to keep warm.

4. Prep your Stir-In Ingredients: Measure out the peas, drain the olives, and slice the piquillos/pimentos, and set aside.

5. Bring it all together: When your rice is finished cooking, add half of the Smoked Paprika Chicken Mixture to the rice. You can (and should!) freeze the other half. Add the chorizo back to the pan. Stir together to combine. Add the Stir-In Ingredients and stir together to combine. Cover to let everything warm together for a few minutes. Then serve and enjoy!!

Notes
I like to poach chicken in big batches in my crockpot, and shred it and portion it into 1/2 lb or 1 lb Ziploc bags and freeze so that it’s ready when I need it. Then all I have to do is thaw it. To poach chicken in the crockpot: Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover with water or chicken stock. Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. And that’s it. If you don’t have any poached shredded chicken ready, toss this into the crockpot about an hour before you start cooking dinner, and it should be done right about when you need shredded chicken for the recipe. That’s how it worked out for me when I made this for the blog.

Chickie’s and Pete’s Cheese Fries

So if you’ve ever been to Philly, you probably have heard about Chickie’s and Pete’s.  It’s a famous sports bar chain whose original location is actually in my neighborhood.  They are probably most famous for their Crab Fries – crinkle-cut French fries seasoned with Old Bay seasoning, served with a cup of white cheese sauce for dipping.

Chickie's and Pete's Cheese Fries

There’s a Chickie’s and Pete’s stand in all of the Philly sports stadiums, and yes – all they sell is cheese fries.  There are a number of full restaurant locations, and the rest of their menu is actually really solid – probably the second thing they are known for is their crab legs.  But ew.  Let’s all agree that we go to Chickie’s and Pete’s for cheese fries, mkay?

A while ago I was working on a white queso dip like they serve in Mexican restaurants – my daughter’s favorite.  And it dawned on me that if I remove all the Mexican flavorings, I pretty much have the white cheese sauce that goes with Crab Fries.  And I tucked that little bit of info back into my head for a while until recently when I was shopping on Penzey’s Spices and saw that they had some Chesapeake Bay seasoning.  Chesapeake Bay seasoning is basically the same as Old Bay, but I could buy a sample jar to see if I liked it.  Score!

So as soon as it was delivered, I attempted to make a copycat recipe of Chickie’s and Pete’s cheese fries, and dude, can I just tell you how I nailed it on the first go?!  I mean seriously.  Nothing has made me happier.  Before, Crab Fries were just something I could get when I went to a sporting event.  Now I can have them anytime I want at home!

Chickie's and Pete's Fries

Try these and have a little bit of Philly in your house.  These would be great for a movie night snack with the fam.  Or just make them for lunch on the weekends.  Because why not?  And because also who doesn’t need more cheese fries in their life?

Chickie’s and Pete’s Cheese Fries
Serves: However many you feel like sharing with

Ingredients
3/4 lb block of American cheese, cubed (ask for this at your deli counter)
6 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup water
1 bag extra crispy crinkle-cut fries (I like Ore-Ida)
3 teaspoons Chesapeake Bay seasoning, or Old Bay seasoning

Directions
1. Bake fries according to package directions. I like the extra crispy fries because they don’t come out soft or soggy when you bake them.

2. Place cubes of cheese, milk, and water in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute at a time, stirring after every minute. When you have some chunks left in the cheese but it’s mostly liquid, try taking it out and stirring it till the chunks melt instead of continuing to microwave it. You don’t want to scorch it. The cheese and bowl will be hot so it will continue to melt after you remove it from the microwave.

3. When the fries are finished baking, pour them into a bowl and sprinkle with the seasoning. Toss to coat.

4. Serve fries with cheese sauce and enjoy!

Chipotle Chicken Grilled Cheese

There’s this adorable restaurant over in Jersey called the Pop Shop that makes amazing food and they have a huge section on their menu just for grilled cheese.  One day I tried what they call their Frazer Grilled Cheese – it’s a griddled chicken breast with Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeno-onion relish, and chipotle mayo.  I’ll never forget the first time I ate this grilled cheese – it was so spicy, it was painful, but I couldn’t stop eating it.  It was so amazingly delicious.

I only had one complaint about it, but it never prevented me from ordering it – the chicken was sometimes too tough to bite through.  It wasn’t cooked terribly, I think it was just the nature of how it was cooked – it wasn’t grilled, I think it was slapped on a griddle and sandwiched with a press to cook it quickly.

So I was expressing this complaint to a friend of mine one day and she said, “Well you should just try to make it yourself, maybe you can do it better.”  LIGHTBULB.  I don’t know why I hadn’t ever thought of that before.  And so my wheels started turning.

Any grilled cheese worth its salt starts with amazing bread.  I had a firm sourdough in mind for this.

Then there’s the matter of the chicken.  I decided to keep it basic since I knew the chipotle mayo would be imparting lots of flavor.  A simple dusting of salt and pepper should do.

Next: the jalapeno-onion relish.  I wasn’t sure what was in it other than jalapenos and onions.  I thought there was no way it could be that simple.  So I figured – what the heck, add some garlic.  Turns out, my first pass at this recipe with garlic in the jalapeno-onion relish was very good, but the garlic was too strong.  And it wasn’t exactly the flavor I was looking for with this sandwich.  So maybe it really was as simple as jalapenos and onions.  But if you’re a garlic lover, go ahead and add a couple cloves of minced or grated garlic to the jalapeno-onion relish and you’ll be a happy camper!

Chipotle mayo.  Easy.  I already had a favorite recipe.

Monterey Jack cheese.  Duh!

I got this.

When the sandwich came together, the result was so amazing, and so much better than what I had at the Pop Shop (no offense, I still love you guys, and I’m still a very loyal customer).  I hope you guys like this sandwich as much as I do!  If you like spicy but not too much of it, eliminate the jalapeno-onion relish.  This sandwich still has plenty of kick with just the chipotle mayo.

Chipotle Chicken Grilled Cheese

Chipotle Chicken Grilled Cheese
Serves: 2

Ingredients
4 slices sourdough bread
4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1 large or 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt & pepper to taste
Cooking spray
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno slices, diced
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 of an 8oz brick of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded, and divided into four equal portions
2-4 tablespoons chipotle mayo (to your desired heat preference)

Directions
1. Prep your bread: Lay your bread out on the counter on slices of paper towel, and spread one side of each slice with 1 tablespoon of butter.

2. Grill your chicken: Pound your chicken breast(s) out to an even thickness and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over medium to medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Chicken is finished cooking when an internal thermometer reaches 165 degrees F. When the chicken is finished, remove from the grill and dice to desired size (I prefer big chunks of chicken). Divide into two equal portions. Set aside until ready to assemble sandwiches.

3. Make your jalapeno-onion relish: Spray a small nonstick skillet with a couple sprays of nonstick cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium heat and add the diced jalapenos and onions. Saute gently until onion begins to soften and turn translucent. Turn heat to low to keep warm. You don’t need to caramelize the onions, only soften them.

4. Make your sandwiches: Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Place one buttered slice of sourdough butter-side down into the pan. To build the sandwich, layer one portion of shredded cheese, one portion of diced chicken, and half of the jalapeno-onion relish. Drizzle with as much chipotle mayo as you desire. Top with another portion of shredded cheese, and another slice of buttered sourdough, butter-side up. Cook the sandwich for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and it’s ready to flip. Check the bottom slice of bread for brownness before flipping – you want it to be a nice golden brown before flipping. Flip carefully, holding the top slice of bread in place if needed. Continue to cook on the other side for 3-5 minutes, until all the cheese is melted and both sides of bread are beautifully golden. Repeat with the other sandwich.

Chipotle Mayo

Ok so let me just be honest up front and say that THIS IS NOT MY RECIPE.  It’s Bobby Flay’s.  But it’s so simple, and so perfect every time I make it, that I really have to share it with you.  There is literally no way that I could improve upon it and make it better.  I use it on so many things.  My favorite uses for chipotle mayo are:

Chipotle chicken cheesesteaks (recipe to come!)
Chipotle chicken grilled cheese (recipe to come!)
As a dip for French fries
As a dip for onion rings
As a dip for tater tots
As a dip for chicken fingers

It is hands-down my most favorite condiment of all time.  I probably make a jar of this every other week or so.  Drizzle it on pizza, nachos, sandwiches, burgers, or anything fried and crispy and delicious.  I could go on and on.  You can literally use this stuff on anything and I promise it will make your cheeks happy.  And your tongue.

If you make your own mayo (as I occasionally do), you can go right from making it to making this chipotle mayo.  The consistency is no different, and in fact it tastes even better with homemade mayo!

My favorite homemade mayo recipe is this one from the blog The Clothes Make The Girl.  I use an immersion blender, and every single time, it turns out exactly the same.

Chipotle Mayo

Ingredients
1 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotles in adobo sauce (I have used as many as 3, if the chipotles are very small)
1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce (depending on your heat preference)
Juice from 1/2 a lime (if the mayo is too thick for you, add the juice from the other half of the lime)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chipotles are minced fine and all ingredients are blended well. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend until fully combined.

Store in an air-tight container for 7-10 days in the refrigerator.

Valentine’s Day: Chicken Piccata Menu

Earlier this week I gave you a romantic steak dinner menu to serve to your special someone on Valentine’s Day.  But maybe you don’t like steak.  Or red wine.  Or broccoli (I don’t blame you, I eat it very begrudgingly).  This would be my next pick to serve to someone on Valentine’s Day.  Chicken piccata is lemony and fresh, tangy and delicious.  Rosemary roasted potatoes are the perfect, rustic accompaniment.  Of course you could still serve broccoli with this if you wish, but it’s totally fine with me if you skip it.  No arguments there.

Chicken piccata has always been one of my favorite chicken dishes.  I first discovered it at a restaurant I was working at as a busgirl when I was a teenager.  We used to get 50% off meals after our shift was over, and chicken piccata was something that I had seen on the menu and always wanted to try.  I will always remember the night I pulled $6 from my tips and asked the chef to make this for me.  He gave me a look like REALLY KID because of course he was trying to clean up and go home too.  But I batted my pretty teenager eyelashes and said please and he made it for me.  Because I’m awesome.

I took my first bite and I remember thinking that it tasted exactly how I thought it would taste.  Light, refreshing, lemony.  The chicken so tender and juicy.  The sauce so smooth and buttery.  I housed that plate of chicken and for the longest time, that restaurant was the only place around that I could get chicken piccata.  Until I grew up and learned how to make it myself.  And now I like my version better than that restaurant’s version.  I have spent many years perfecting this sauce recipe.  The secret to this sauce is the butter-flour mixture.  Instead of making a roux, you mix it together like this:

Butter Flour Mixture

And this makes the sauce so, so slutty.

Chicken Piccata

Rosemary roasted potatoes is actually one of our stand-by side dishes.  We probably eat these once a week.  They are so easy and come out perfect every single time.  This started out as one of those recipes we found somewhere online that sounded great but whenever we made them, they didn’t turn out right.  The potatoes were always burnt, or they stuck to the baking sheet, or they were too done on the outside and not done on the inside.  My husband is the one who has actually perfected this recipe, thanks to his many nights of starting dinner before I get home.  There really is nothing like biting into a perfectly roasted potato – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, perfectly seasoned, tasty and herby.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

They are a perfect side dish for chicken piccata.  They go pretty well with the sauce so, you know, if you have extra sauce all over your plate as I most often do, you can dip your potatoes in the sauce for a lemony, slutty treat.

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day: Chicken Piccata Menu
Serves: 2
Time: Give yourself about an hour. Be sure to set butter out to soften for several hours beforehand; overnight if possible.

Chicken Piccata Ingredients
2-4 chicken breasts, pounded to an equal thinness (I say 2-4 because it can depend on how big your chicken breasts are; whether you make 2 or 4, you will have enough sauce)
2 tablespoons + 4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons if they are juicy)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup drained capers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Additional 1/2-1 cup flour
Salt and pepper

Chicken Piccata Directions
1. Prep your ingredients: FIRST – Season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Pour additional 1/2-1 cup flour into a shallow dish to later dip your chicken in. Set aside. SECOND – Take 2 tablespoons of the room temperature butter and put into a small bowl with 3 tablespoons flour. Combine with a fork until it looks like the picture above. It will have a pasty consistency. Set aside. THIRD – Pour wine, lemon juice, and stock into a measuring cup. Set aside.

2. Cook your chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Dip each chicken breast in the flour to coat, and shake off the excess. Place each chicken breast into the skillet. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

3. Make the sauce: Pour off excess fat from the skillet. Pour the wine, lemon juice, and stock into the skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in the butter-flour paste. Continue whisking and boiling until the sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the capers, parsley, and remaining 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Lower sauce to a simmer.

4. Finish the chicken: Return chicken to the pan, and cook in the sauce for an additional 5-10 minutes to warm it back up. Serve with extra sauce poured on top.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Ingredients
2lb bag baby red potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons minced rosemary

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Make the taters: Scrub the potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. Stir well or toss to coat. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and arrange into a single layer. Bake for 30-45 minutes, checking every 15 minutes for doneness and to stir and flip. Ours are usually done around the 30 minute mark.

Valentine’s Day: Steak au Poivre Menu

A long, long time ago, in an apartment far, far away, there lived a girl who did not know how to cook.

And, wanting a marriage proposal so terribly, having been with her boyfriend for several years, she started to wonder if he saw her as non-marriage material due to her lack of cooking skills.

So off she went to the primitive internet, via AOL, in search of some special recipes for a Valentine’s Day dinner to impress her boyfriend.

At last she found a recipe for steak au poivre, which she recognized as something she ate at a very nice restaurant once and really liked.  She also found a simple recipe for roasted potatoes and thought about sauteeing up some broccoli to round out the meal.  Her boyfriend always said you needed something green on the plate.

Now a trip to the grocery store was necessary.  And not just any grocery store would do for this meal.  She must go to the fancy, organic, expensive grocery store.  Here she purchased steaks, broccoli and potatoes.  She also found out what shallots were.  And she learned how to pick out a good bottle of red wine, too.  And since cooking was only barely her thing, she decided to purchase pre-made mini desserts instead of making something from scratch.

She secretly took the day off of work to spend the entire day preparing for this meal.  She minced, chopped, diced, and sliced all of the ingredients and portioned them out into little bowls.  She measured all spices and liquids and set them aside until everything was ready to use.

And finally the time came for her to start cooking.  She wanted to have dinner on the table when he walked in the door.  That’s what a good wife would do!

She was very nervous but she followed the recipes exactly.  She cooked the steaks perfectly, and the sauce was better than she ever could have expected, and the side dishes turned out exactly as they were supposed to.  She was so impressed with herself.  For her first time in the kitchen cooking something other than Hamburger Helper or Chicken Helper, she felt very proud.  Her boyfriend was equally impressed, complimenting that the steak and sauce were of “restaurant quality”.

And so a desire in her was born, to learn how to cook, to make fabulous dishes and recipes, to try new foods and ingredients, to develop skills and techniques and become a kitchen maven her boyfriend could be proud of.  And subsequently ask for her hand in marriage, of course.

And here we are, 15 years later.  He did ask me to marry him a couple years after that Valentine’s Day.  He still says we need to have something green on the plate (though I tend to disagree – and anyway does parsley count?).  I still make this steak dish on occasion and I have truly perfected the sauce recipe over the years.  I give you this menu for Valentine’s Day because if it was simple enough for such a novice cook to attempt 15 years ago, surely it’s simple enough for anyone else of any skill level.  Go forth and nomz!  Impress your sweetie with this restaurant-quality meal.

Valentine's Day

xoxoxo <3 <3 <3 xoxoxo

Valentine’s Day: Steak au Poivre Menu
Serves: 2
Time: Give yourself a couple of hours if you want to take your time. When I cooked this for the blog, I was moving at a quick pace and it took me about an hour.

Steak au Poivre Ingredients
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cracked whole peppercorns, or very coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup red wine (I use Malbec but any red will do)
1 1.5oz puck Demi-Glace Gold (I recently saw this at Whole Foods if you don’t want to order online)
4 ounces red wine + 2 ounces hot water
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 steaks of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste

Steak au Poivre Directions
1. Prep your ingredients: FIRST – Shallots will make you cry. If they don’t, you are the luckiest human being I know. The easiest way to get chopped shallots without crying like a newborn is to cut off the root and the top end, peel off the skin, chop into a few pieces, then drop them into a food processor or a mini food processor. Pulse a few times till you have finely chopped shallots. SECOND – Cracked peppercorns. This is a great place to get your kids involved. Measure 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns into a Ziploc baggie and zip shut. Take a meat mallet or the back of a skillet and bang away at the peppercorns until they are all cracked and there are no whole peppercorns left. THIRD – Measure out your two instances of red wine. Pour a half cup into one measuring cup, and 4 ounces red wine (yes I know this is also a half cup) plus 2 ounces hot water into another measuring cup. FOURTH – Chop your parsley. FIFTH – Trim your steaks to your liking, and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Don’t taste the raw meat. Just, you know, look at it and decide if it’s enough salt and pepper for your tastes or not.

2. Make the au poivre sauce: Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and saute shallots until transparent, 3-4 minutes. Add cracked peppercorns a whisk to combine. Pour in the 1/2 cup of red wine and increase heat to medium high. Boil until the mixture reduces to an essence with just a hint of wine left in the pan. Add the Demi-Glace Gold, and whisk until it melts like chocolate and is completely incorporated. Then pour in the red wine + hot water mixture, whisk well, and reduce heat to medium. Strongly simmer the sauce until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Once it reaches your desired consistency, turn heat to low to keep warm until you are ready to serve. Just before serving, whisk in the parsley.

3. Grill your steaks: There are many different ways to cook steak, so you can cook your steak in your preferred way or I will share with you how we do it here. Heat a grill pan on the stove over medium heat until hot. Grill steaks for 3-4 minutes per side. Preheat your broiler to high heat. Place the grill pan in the broiler and finish cooking the steaks to your liking. For a medium-done steak of average size, count on cooking it for anywhere from 5-15 minutes in the broiler. The internal temperature on a medium steak will be 135-140 degrees F. Here’s a great chart on internal cooking temperatures for reference. And here’s a great tutorial on cooking steak on the stovetop.

4. Serve: If your steaks are finished cooking and you are still waiting for your sides to finish, remove them to a plate and tent them with foil to keep them warm. When ready to serve, put each steak on a plate and pour some of the au poivre sauce on top. Or, alternatively, serve the au poivre sauce alongside the steaks in a sauce boat or bowl.

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes Ingredients
2 medium russet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes Directions
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, line your baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with plenty of nonstick cooking spray. When you think you’ve sprayed enough, spray a little more.

2. Prep your taters: Scrub your potatoes if you would like to leave the skin on, or peel them. Cut into bite-sized cubes.

3. Make taters: In a medium bowl, add olive oil, Parmesan cheese, parsley, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir or whisk to combine. Add cubed potatoes and stir well or toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until potatoes are lightly browned and easily pierced with a knife, about 20-25 minutes.

Sauteed Broccoli Ingredients
1-2 heads broccoli (depending on how much green you want on your plate), chopped into florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauteed Broccoli Directions
1. This is a one-step recipe!: Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and saute until softened, about a minute (don’t let it burn!). Add broccoli florets and stir to coat with the garlic butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute broccoli until it has reached your preferred doneness; about 10 minutes for tender-crisp florets.

Valentine’s Day: Chocolate Covered Strawberries

If you’ve ever done any kind of shopping for Valentine’s day, then surely you’ve come across how much chocolate covered strawberries cost.

Seriously though, like $5 a berry?  It’s kind of ridic.

I’m in the wrong business.

Making chocolate covered strawberries at home is SO EASY.  There is really no need to buy them as long as you can set aside a little time and do them yourself.  AND they aren’t expensive.  It certainly won’t cost you $5 a pop.

I have had so much fun with these over the years – you can get so creative with them.  One time I even managed to score myself a little needle from a pharmacy to inject them with Grand Marnier.  Those berries were the shiz.  (That was when I lived in Spokane though and I haven’t had the nerve to ask a Philly pharmacist if I can buy a single needle.  Somehow I get the feeling I’ll get turned down.)

Personally, I’m a fan of milk chocolate covered strawberries.  But I do use semi-sweet chocolate (you could also use dark chocolate) and white chocolate as well.  My favorite toppings are ground almonds, shredded coconut, and mini chocolate chips.  You could also use sprinkles of any kind, other little candies that you like, and drizzle them with anything you can melt – caramel, white chocolate, etc.  I have seen the fancy strawberries with long stems around Valentine’s Day at Whole Foods, but that’s the only time I’ve seen them.  I bet you could find them at a farmer’s market too.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

This a great activity to do with your kids as well.  My 5yo daughter helped me with these and she had a blast.  Have fun!!  Be sure to post your pics on Instagram and tag me @sluttyfoodblog so I can see how yours turned out!!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Ingredients
1-2 boxes of strawberries (depending on how many you want to make)
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate chips
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 small bag slivered almonds
1 small bag shredded coconut
1 bag mini chocolate chips

Directions
1. Get your chocolate melting: You will need three saucepans and three glass or ceramic (not metal!) bowls that fit inside them without touching the bottom. Put a little bit of water in the bottom of the saucepan, and set the pan over the lowest heat possible on the stove. Set the bowl on the saucepan, and pour one bag of chips into each bowl. Stir periodically to hasten the melting process. Keep an eye on the white chocolate in particular – it can be fussy. Don’t let it go too long without stirring. Keep all the chocolate moving so that it doesn’t have time to get too hot in one place. Alternatively, you could melt the chips in the microwave in microwave-safe bowls. Melt for 10-15 seconds at a time (yes seriously) until melted. Remember, cooking something in the microwave for 10 seconds 5 times, is different than cooking something in the microwave for 50 seconds 1 time. Cook in short bursts of time, stopping to stir every time.

2. Rinse and dry your berries: Rinse your berries under cool water. Dry them REALLY WELL. I usually rinse them then lay them on a paper towel. Then I take another paper towel and individually dry off each berry. It is very important that your berries are not wet when dipping them in the chocolate, or the chocolate will seize up. Once dried, lay them on a dry paper towel until you are ready to dip them.

3. Prep your toppings: Pour the bag of slivered almonds into a food processor or a mini food processor and pulse a few times so that they are more like big almond crumbs instead of slivers. You could also run a knife through a pile of them a few times. Pour the almonds into a little bowl. Pour the shredded coconut into a little bowl. And pour the mini chocolate chips into a little bowl.

4. Prep your setup: Set out two cookie sheets and line each with a sheet of parchment paper. Take your bowls of melted chocolate off the stove and set them on the counter near the cookie sheets. Arrange your bowls of toppings in an easy-to-reach place. You will want to be able to dip your berry, dip it in a topping (if desired), and lay on the cookie sheet in very quick secession. You don’t want your stuff set up all over the kitchen.

5. Dip your berries: Now for the fun part! Take a berry and hold it by the leaves. Dip it into whichever chocolate you’d like, being sure to dunk it to get it chocolatized on all sides. Then lift it out of the chocolate and let some of the excess drip off. Quickly dip one side of the berry into whichever topping you prefer. Repeat with all berries with whatever flavor combinations you prefer. When finished, put the trays of strawberries in the refrigerator to help the chocolate set.

Notes
1. To make chocolate covered strawberries with different-colored-chocolate striped drizzles, skip dipping those berries into the toppings, and lay on the cookie sheet. When finished dipping all berries, take the leftover melted chocolate and pour it into a Ziploc bag, and snip a small bit off the corner. Squeeze the chocolate towards the snipped opening and drizzle over the dipped berries as desired.
2. You will probably not use entire bags of almonds, coconut, or mini chocolate chips. So if you have unopened bags lying around in your pantry, go ahead and use those, unless you think you’ll need more, obviously.

Eggs on Toast

This is one of those recipes that is so easy, you will wonder how you did without it all your life.

Or maybe I’m just late to the game and people have been eating this forever and I’m the one who did without it all my life.

I was never really an egg person growing up.  I don’t like scrambled eggs.  I liked fried eggs but I’d only dip my toast in the yolks and leave the whites behind.  One day I discovered Eggs Benedict and fell in lust.  (We went through a period of time where we ate a lot of Eggs Benedict.  Like every Saturday.  And Sunday.  And not just two perfect little stacks drowning in Hollandaise sauce; THREE little stacks drowning in Hollandaise sauce.  We were a touch obsessed.)

But when I started clean eating, I had to cut my breakfast staple out of my diet – cereal.  It’s not even like I ate healthy cereal.  Even as an adult at 30+ I was eating cereals full of sugar and marshmallows.  (Occasionally, I still do. What?)  So I was trying to think of what else I could eat for breakfast, and I came up with the idea of a clean “Eggs Benedict” – a slice of clean bread, with grass-fed butter, and a poached egg on top.  I made Aaron teach me how to poach eggs, and voila, one of my favoritest breakfasts ever was born.  (Next to actual Eggs Benedict, of course.)

Eggs on Toast

So, what’s so slutty about eggs on toast?  Orange egg yolks.  You don’t get orange egg yolks in any kind of eggs except eggs from pasture-raised chickens.  I buy Vital Farms Backyard Eggs at Whole Foods – they are pricey but they are so worth the splurge.  The taste and flavor of the yolk of these eggs is unmatched by any other egg I have ever tried.  They are truly luscious.  I will use these types of eggs for egg-centered dishes, but not something that the egg would be buried in (like pancake batter, or cookie batter, or donut batter, or brownie batter, or whatever batter).  I use regular organic cage-free eggs for that stuff.

But seriously though.  Go find yourself some pastured eggs and give ’em a try.  Look at that orange lusciousness…

Eggs on Toast

Eggs on Toast

Ingredients
2 slices bread (I use Ezekiel bread)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter (I use Kerrygold)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Fill a 12-inch skillet with water and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, or to a heat that leaves the water at barely a simmer. Sprinkle some salt into the water so the eggs don’t stick.

2. Toast the bread to your liking, and spread each slice with a half tablespoon of butter.

3. When the water is at a steady barely-simmer, crack one egg into a small bowl, taking care not to break the yolks. Gently tip the bowl into the simmering water, allowing some of the water to seep into the bowl, and slip the egg out of the bowl and into the water. Repeat with the other egg on the other side of the skillet. Simmer the eggs for 3-4 minutes, or until the egg whites are set.

4. Turn the heat off under the skillet. With a slotted spoon, scoop one egg at a time out of the water and pat dry with paper towels. Slide eggs onto buttered toast, top with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.