Grill-roasted Beet Salad

I was never much of a beet fan. Jarred blood-red root vegetables just never did it for me. But that all changed recently when wifey decided to whip up a batch of her mom’s famous beet salad…

“Beets?…seriously?” “Why not make mashed chicken gizzards…”
“You will love this, I promise. I have been eating beets since I’m a kid…Plus, my mother says they’re good for you”
“Yea, but you also love Pastaroni, that’s not saying much”
“Oh please, you love that too now”
“True”
“Oh, one more thing – don’t freak out when you pee red, it’s just the beets”
“WTF?!”

Get yourself:

  • 1 Bunch fresh beets (~4 to a bunch)
  • 6 Cloves fresh garlic, skins on and smashed with heel of knife
  • 2T Balsamic Vinegar
  • Thinly sliced red onion, just  a bit
  • .25t Garlic powder (optional)
  • .5t Oregano
  • 2.5T Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Foil

Printable Recipe

Rinse beets under cool water and dry

Preheat grill or oven to 400F

Slice the greens off and the root ends

(someone told me you can eat the greens, go for it if you’re into that)

Place beets on a sheet of foil

Smash the cloves of garlic with heel of knife to open up the skins…

…object here is to roast the garlic and infuse the beets with some garlic goodness

Toss the cloves into the beets

Drizzle 1.5T of olive oil over beets and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Wrap it up in the foil making sure there are no holes or seams

Toss the beets on grill or in oven

Roast for ~40mins or until fork tender like a potato

When done, carefully open up pouch

Beets will be perfectly roasted and surrounded by aromatic roasted garlic

Let cool then peel off skins and slice into disks

Dress beets with the red onion, remainder of oil, balsamic, oregano, optional garlic powder, and s&p

Toss it all together and taste

Serve room temp or chill – they’re even better chilled and eaten the next day

Now, I know beets are not the most appealing looking of veggie sides, but the taste sure makes up for that

I’m a true convert

Oh, and someone else told me to add a little crumbled goat cheese to the beets…

…sounds hella good, I’ll give that a shot next time around

…adios…

Grilled Flat-bread

It’s 100 degrees outside and the last thing I’m doing is cranking the oven to 500 to bake a loaf of bread. So to me that translates to another excuse to use the grill. Plus, grilled flat-bread is a lighter twist to the usual rustic style bread I bake up on the regular. Best part…no stone!  Cook these directly on the grill grates!

Prep time: 30mins (after dough has been made)
Grill time: ~6mins

Get yourself:

  • Batch of bread dough
  • Sea salt or Kosher
  • Cracked black pepper
  • .25C Olive oil
  • Basting brush
  • Spray oil
  • Parchment paper
  • Tongs

Let’s get it poppin’

Form dough balls into 6-8oz balls and let rest covered for about 30mins

Preheat grill on high while dough rests

Flour your surface and flatten out dough into a round, size does not matter…

…neither does shape…

I made these two ways:

1) Hand method – best results: soft, airy, and fluffy

2) Rolling pin – Not so good: chewy and dense

Roll ’em out, not too thin or they will be cracker-y

You want them to be thick enough to puff up a bit on the grill…

…soft and fluffy is texture we are going for

Line sheet pan with parchment and brush with a little oil

Lay dough on top and brush with oil

Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper

Pattern…parchment, oil, dough, oil, parchment, repeat

Make sure the dough is not holding any pools of oil…

…or you will experience great conflagration…

Grill grates should be smoking hot…

Quickly – shut off flame, spray grates with spray oil like Pam olive oil…

…turn flame back on to medium high

Grab the parchment and slap the dough onto the grill…

…peel the parchment back

If you feel you might destroy the dough doing this than I recommend you…

…roll out the dough rounds and grill one at a time using a pizza peel to transfer dough to grill

Grill for a few mins on each side

Flip and grill for a few more mins

Keep knockin’ ’em out and stack the flat-breads as they come off the grill

Serve warm on the side of whatever you happen to be eating…

…everything goes with grilled flat-bread…

…yum…

Here’s another version I did…

This one is the pizza peel version that I mentioned above…

Either way is off the hook

Enjoy!

Grilled Tilapia with Fresh Avocado Salsa

Call me the Colonel because I have a bangin’ original recipe for you. I’m talking lite, healthy, bursting with flavor, quick, easy, and sexy. I take a nice hunk of simply dressed tilapia and throw it on the grill for a few and dress it with a super flavorful avocado salsa. It screams fresh…throw this into a tortilla and hit it with some spice and call it a fish taco or do what I did and serve it with a side of warm grilled flat-bread. Money.

Serves 4
Prep time: 15mins
Cook time: 6mins

Get yourself:

  • 4 Fresh Tilapia filets
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Tomato (you can use a beefsteak or a handful of cherry/grape)
  • .25 Red Onion, diced
  • .5 Lemon, juiced
  • 1.5T Red wine vinegar
  • 1t Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Garlic clove, small and diced fine or grated
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • .5t Kosher salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Printable Recipe

Get that avocado opened

…nice and easy when you drop the blade on the pit…

Let tilapia get to room temperature and brush some evoo on

Sprinkle with some kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper

Spray your grates with Pam or brush grates with evoo

Preheat your grill on medium

Salsa time!

…muy caliente..

Chop your avocado, tomato, red onion, garlic, and parsley and toss into a bowl

…nothing fancy a nice rough chop will do…

Add in your fresh squeezed lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper

…mix it good…

…mix it real good…

Taste

Stomp your feet in a fit of joy

Throw the tilapia on the grill for a few minutes on each side

Fish is done when flesh is opaque and flaky

Careful when handling on grill…get a good spatula….

…it can easily go from…

“Oh my, look at that beautiful hunk of fish” to “OMG! I just smashed my fish into smithereens!

Hopefully your fish comes off in one piece…

Dress it up with a little of that delicious avocado salsa…

Break off a piece of that luscious warm grilled flat-bread…

…and EAT!

I will post a recipe for the flat-bread ASAP!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Pinwheels

Why eat pork tenderloin when you can eat stuffed pork tenderloin? Take a boring pork tenderloin…filet it open, stuff it with some flavor poppin’ sautéed peppers and onions, 2 cheeses, bread crumbs, and a hit of spice and that boring pork tenderloin becomes a vague and distant memory. This pork jumps off the plate and screams delicious. Make now, or forever hold your peace….

Time: ~45mins

Get Yourself:

  • 1 2-4lb Pork tenderloin (Have butcher filet open so it’s flat)
  • 4 Bell peppers (multi-colors, sliced into strips)
  • 1 Sweet onion (sliced into strips)
  • 8oz Mozzarella Cheese (Small dice)
  • .25C Dry Sherry wine
  • .25C Seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1T Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Cloves roasted garlic
  • 4 Cloves fresh garlic (grated)
  • .25C Pecorino-Romano
  • 1.5T Oregano
  • 5T Extra virgin olive oil
  • .5t crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Salt & Cracked black pepper
  • Butchers twine

Prep work:

  1. Fillet open tenderloin
  2. Slice peppers and onions into strips
  3. Cube up Mozzarella
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350F

Printable Recipe

Bring it all together now…

Toss peppers and onions in a big bowl with…

2T oil, oregano, 1t kosher salt, 1t cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper (optional)

Set aside

Heat 2T oil over medium-high in a heavy bottomed skillet or frying pan

Before oil gets hot, grate all of the fresh garlic directly into oil

Grated garlic is fantastic because it literally melts into the food so no big chunks!

Let the garlic saute for a ~1min

Toss in the peppers and onions and saute

After 15mins or so the peppers and onions will be nice and soft and starting to char

Add in the sherry wine, bring flame to high and cook off the alcohol for ~1min

Remove from flame

Taste, adjust for salt, pepper, spiciness, garlicky-ness

Set aside to cool for ~10mins

Lay your tenderloin flat and rub with 2 cloves roasted garlic

Time to layer on the goodness…

Sprinkle on the Pecorino-Romano, bread crumbs, and the diced mozzarella

Crack some black pepper on top

Add a nice thick layer of the peppers and onions right on top of the cheese

Sprinkle with some fresh parsley

Roll it up and tie it

Click here for a quick pictorial on rolling and tying

Quickly sear the roulade in 1T hot oil all around

Finish off in the oven for a ~20-25mins or until meat thermo reads 155

Note: make sure thermo probe is inserted in the meat and not in the center of the peppers and onions

Once cooked, remove from oven and let site for ~5mins

Keep string on and slice the stuffed tenderloin into pinwheels

Serve (2) per person with a side and some good bread

Feel like impressing someone?…

Enjoy hearing praise and accolades from friends and family?…

…Make this…

De nada

How to Plant A Vegetable (Bucket) Garden

Not everybody has a yard big enough for a veggie garden, but I’m pretty sure everyone has a hardware store and garden center nearby, and that means you can pick up what you need for a veggie bucket garden! That’s right, screw the ground…where straight up planting veggies in a bucket and it’s easy, cheap, and beyond rewarding. Personally, nothing comes close to the feeling you get when you walk outside and pluck a juicy plump ruby-red cherry tomato off the vine of a tomato plant you grew…yourself…from seed…in a bucket.

Bravo!

Difficulty: EASY
Time: 35 mins (4 buckets)
Cost: ~$20

Get yourself:

  • 5 Gallon bucket(s)
  • Garden soil for vegetable gardens
  • Manure & Humus
  • River pebbles
  • Phillips screwdriver or drill
  • Seeds (I planted Tomato, Cucumber, Zucchini)
  • Tomato cage(s)
  • Gardening shovel
  • Garden gloves
  • Plastic knives
  • Sharpie marker

Let’s get to plantin’…

Grab some 5 Gallon buckets

They’re (dirt) cheap…like $3 ea.

Poke some holes in the bottom of the bucket, not too many or the water will drain right out…

Do like 10

(I know there are more than 10 holes, I effed up and my plant lost too much water…I had to replant in another bucket with fewer hole…live and learn)

Excess water drains out and roots don’t rot

Bag of this rock is cheap like $5

Used to aid in water drainage

Fill up the bottom 2″ of bucket with river pebbles

Garden soil

That’s a 2 cu. ft. bag – ~$6

I made 4 buckets and only used half the bag

Fill bucket ~3/4 full of garden soil

Pure nutrients – ~$4

A little goes a long way

I only used half the bag

Add manure and humus to almost fill the remaining .25 of the bucket

Break up any chunks of soil and manure

Mix to combine everything

Dig a small well in center of soil

Drop a few seeds in well

Cover well with soil

Put on glove, make a fist, and lightly flatten soil all the way around the bucket

Drop the seed packet on top so you don’t forget what you planted

Move on and assemble your other buckets

Genius idea…

Grab a plastic knife and sharpie

Label

Stick in the soil like you just usurped some foreign territory


Basic Care

  1. Water thoroughly
  2. Place in full sun
  3. Buckets dry out quickly so water often
  4. Check for bugs and bug damage. Use a natural insecticide if you have to

My buckets…

Beefsteak tomato, cherry tomato, and 8 Ball zucchini

Don’t forget to pop that tomato cage in the tomato bucket(s)

French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

So, there’s store-bought vanilla ice cream and there’s this rich, decadent, creamy, custard-y, fresh vanilla bean studded stuff that’s like creamed crack. You definitely won’t find this in a little cardboard container with a quirky name and a cartoon drawing. Sorry to have to do this to you, but this homemade French vanilla bean ice cream will set your ice cream “bar” wayyyyy high. Oh, and it’s French because it’s made with a custard base…which means it’s made with egg yolk…which means it’s better than just milk…which means you need to make this now.

3 Key components before starting:

  1. Ice Cream Maker (I use a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment for the Stand Mixer)
  2. Vanilla Beans
  3. Time and patience
Makes 1QT
Time: Mostly passive time while cream infuses, chills, then freezes. All in all about 20 mins is actually spent getting your hands dirty.

Get yourself:

  • 2 Vanilla beans
  • 1C Whole milk
  • 2C Heavy cream
  • 3/4C sugar
  • 6 Egg yolks (Large)

Printable Recipe

Grab a couple of vanilla beans and split down the length of the pod using a pairing knife

Scrape out the vanilla bean “caviar” using the dull side of the knife

Set caviar aside

Combine milk, sugar, vanilla caviar, and vanilla pods in a heavy bottomed pot

Heat over medium-low flame until wisps of steam begin to rise off of milk

DO NOT BOIL, gracias

Once milk warms, kill flame, cover, and set aside to steep for an hour

After one hour is up, build an ice water bath

Big bowl with ice and water – 2qt glass bowl inside big bowl – sieve on top

Grab your heavy cream

Pour heavy cream into glass bowl so it stays super cold

Go reheat your infused milk mixture in the pot

Same deal, just warm it over medium-low flame

While milk warms, combine egg yolks in bowl

Don’t forget about your milk…

…Temper Time…

Grab a ladle-full of the warmed milk…

Carefully add the warmed milk little by little to the egg yolks while constantly stirring

This is tempering, the goal is the incorporate the milk into the egg yolks without cooking the yolks

…Custard Time…

Add the tempered mixture back to pot and heat over medium flame while…

…CONSTANTLY STIRRING with a rubber spatula

The spatula is good at preventing the custard from sticking to the bottom of the pot

Stir for 10 mins

Stop whining, man up…it’s worth the effort

Once custard is thick enough to coat the spatula without running…

Pour the custard through the sieve

Press the custard through the sieve using spatula

Stir the mixture to combine

This is your ice cream in liquid form

Taste…

Pop the bean pods into the cream, cover, and chill overnight

Once your cream is thoroughly chilled, set up your ice cream maker

Pluck pods out of cream and pour into base of ice cream maker

Begin to process

After about 10-12 minutes it begins to freeze and grow

After ~25mins you’ll have soft serve ice cream…

Taste (eyes roll into back of head)

…one more step before you indulge…

Pour ice cream into a glass bowl and lay Saran wrap on top of the ice cream

Press down lightly to adhere the Saran wrap to the ice cream

Freeze for a few hours

Look at that scoop action!

Make yourself a big bowl and indulge, you deserve it

In mine and wifey’s honest opinion…

…it tastes a bit like creme brulee…

…just throwin’ that out there

Don’t toss those vanilla bean pods!

Rinse, dry, and stick into your sugar for amazing vanilla infused sugar

Bravo

Tilapia Oreganata

Gotta switch things up a bit…can’t always be eating meat and pasta…at least that’s what Mom says. Tilapia is a great white fleshed fish that takes well to any preparation and when cooked properly is flaky and velvety. I like to make most of my fish Oreganata style, which is simply fish encrusted with seasoned breadcrumbs and baked. I’ve been on a Panko kick lately so when I came across the Tilapia I immediately thought about using Panko instead of only regular seasoned breadcrumbs…I’m glad I did…you will be too…

Prep time: 15mins
Cook time: 20mins
Serves: 4

Get yourself:

  • 4 Fresh Tilapia fillets
  • .5C Panko
  • .25C Seasoned bread crumbs
  • .5C Pecorino-Romano grated
  • 1.5T Fresh Parsley chopped
  • 8 Cloves roasted garlic
  • 1t Dried oregano
  • .5t Garlic powder
  • 2T Extra virgin olive oil
  • .5C White wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • .5 Fresh lemon, juiced
  • 4T Butter, melted
  • 1/8t Kosher salt
  • .5t Black pepper
  • Preheat oven to 350F

Printable Recipe

Grab some thick fresh fillets and dry thoroughly

Rub 2 cloves of roasted garlic into each fillet

The garlic will melt right into the flesh

Don’t be too rough though you’ll smoosh the flesh…

…nice-n-easy…

Pop open a bottle of white

Pour a  glass, make sure it tastes good…

…get back to cooking…

Drizzle some olive oil in a Pyrex large enough to hold all of the fish

Pour the wine into Pyrex

Crumb mix:

Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley (save a little parsley for garnish)

Mix it all up

Now add the lemon juice and olive oil

Stir

Mixture should be crumbly NOT pasty

Lightly pack the crumb mix on top of fillets

Note: you are not dredging the fish

Drizzle the melted butter directly over the fillets

Bake uncovered in a 350F oven for ~20mins

Check after 15mins by pulling at the flesh with the tines of a fork

Flesh will flake off in layers when cooked

Crumbs should take on a nice golden hue

Serve Tilapia over a bed of sautéed spinach

Light, buttery, velvety, zesty, garlic-y

If you’ve been meaning to eat more fish, well, here’s an excuse…

Enjoy!