Sambal Chicken Skewers

Sambal Chicken2

So, I have a confession to make.

I’m a really bad griller. It’s true. If you ask me to grill you something, I am probably, most likely, almost definitely going to mess it up.

I’m sure that the whole thing is probably easy enough to do if you’ve got a gas grill, but we only have a charcoal grill at my house and for the life of me, I cannot keep that thing hot enough to cook the food. Don’t get me started on using smokers and special types of wood and all those other fancy doohickies (did I spell that right? I don’t think I did.)

I remember one Memorial Day a couple of years back where I tried to help my Mom grill. When we couldn’t keep the coals hot enough, we finally got the idea in our heads that we needed something to feed the flames since the coals obviously weren’t cutting it.

Don’t ask why, but for some reason, we decided to go with old newspaper.

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Well, it got the coals hot enough, for sure. It all just started going south AFTER we put the meat on the grill…and the newspaper started flaking and flying up all over the place, sticking to the food.

Good times, Good times.

Long story short, we ended up rinsing off the meat and just finishing it all in the oven and slow cooker that day. But it still served to teach me a very valuable lesson: I’m NOT a griller. At least not now. Maybe one day I’ll just sit down and force myself to learn. I could also just find a guy to date who knows how to do it and just leave all that grilling business to him. Either one would work.

Sambal Chicken1

I say all of this because it’s very frustrating for me when I see or find a recipe that I would reeeeeeeeeally like to try, but it’s supposed to be grilled. My culinary shoulders give a little slump every time I see that and I just think,

“What? It’s supposed to be grilled? But…but…I don’t know how to grill. I suck at grilling. How am I supposed to do make this if it’s supposed to be grilled? No fair!”

Most of the time, I just end up putting said recipes aside for the day that I do end up learning to grill. But not this time. This time, I just couldn’t put it aside. I wanted to make this recipe, darn it. And I didn’t want to let grilling get in the way of me and my food.

Sambal Chicken4

Bon Appetit is such a dangerous website for me. I can browse it for 5 minutes, and suddenly I want to cook absolutely everything I see there. That’s what happened with this recipe. I saw it, and I just knew, people. I knew I had to make this, come hell or high water.

I may not know how to operate my charcoal grill…but my oven? She and I are on very good terms with each other.

I made this recipe work for me, people. And really, I’m so glad I did. Because grill or no grill, it’s really so friggin delicious. The marinade is what really makes the flavors pop. The rice wine vinegar gives a slight tang and acidity to the chicken that is somehow tempered by both the saltiness of the fish sauce and the sweetness of the ginger and brown sugar. The hot chili paste doesn’t bring as much heat as you would think it would- I would describe it more as more of a smoky flavor. The Sriracha is where the heat comes in, sneaking up on you in the back of your throat even after you’ve swallowed the chicken. I’ve eaten a lot of chicken breasts and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to inject them with much flavor. But this really does do the job.

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I did make some modifications to this recipe for my own purposes: first, I obviously baked them in the oven rather than grilling them. But the original does call for them to be grilled, I can see how they would taste even better if they were. So if you’re good at grilling, then by all means, go for it. Second, rather than just putting the marinade on the meat the same day as cooking, I did let them it sit overnight in the fridge, just to make sure all the flavors would fully permeate. However, if you’re in a hurry this isn’t necessarily mandatory. Third, the original recipe called for you to take the used marinate, bring it to a boil over the stove, then brush it over the finished chicken.

Yeah…I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. I know that boiling the marinade is ‘supposed’ to take the bacteria out of it. But my paranoia and just the idea of eating something that raw, uncooked chicken sat in made me feel queasy. I just re-made the whole marinade and warmed it up over the stove. That way I don’t have to worry that I’ve poisoned myself and my family.

So, Grill. We managed to avoid each other once more. Perhaps we shall meet one day- but that day is not today.

Guys, I give you…Sambal Chicken.

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Sambal Chicken Skewers

Recipe Adapted from BonAppetit.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch–2-inch pieces
  • Sesame seeds, optional
  • 8 bamboo skewers soaked in water at least 1 hour

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Thread 4 or 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.

3. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and place a wire rack over it. Spray rack with non-stick cooking spray. Lay chicken skewers on rack and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until chicken reaches inner temperature of  165 degrees.

4. While chicken is baking,make a second batch of the marinade and warm in a saucepan over the stove.

5. Brush sauce over finished chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bacon-Wrapped Blackberry Pork Roast

Bacon Pork Roast1

Do you ever see something for the very first time, and immediately think: “I HAVE to have that”?

When I was little, I used to get that way about certain toys. There was this doll called Amazing Amy that came out in the 90’s that from the very first time I ever saw it, I knew I HAD to have it. She was this computerized doll that talked to you, telling you when she was hungry, thirsty, sick, sleepy, in need of a diaper change, or when she just wanted to change clothes. The doll came with a number of assort
ed foods/drinks, a medicine dropper,clothes and diapers, all fitted with computer chips. There were computer chips implanted in Amy’s mouth, back, and bottom so that when you gave her the food, changed her clothes or did ANYTHING to her, she would be able to identify what it was you were doing and tell you whether she liked it or not. It seems like a pretty basic toy now, but in the 90’s Amazing Amy was THE doll that I had been waiting for. Every time we went to the store, I wandered over to the toy section and gazed so longingly at that doll. It seemed like the coolest toy in the world. Did I need it? No. But I felt like I just HAD to have it. It took my mom a couple years to save the money (as it wasn’t very cheap), but she did finally buy it for us. Because she’s the best.

Bacon Pork Roast3

Krispy Kreme opened a location in m hometown a few years back. From that very first day, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that I HAD to have a hot, freshly made Krispy Kreme doughnut. I.HAD.TO.

And I did. Actually, I had several. Every week.

The Krispy Kreme ended up closing, being put out of business by a chain of Tim Horton’s that simultaneously opened a few years afterward.

It was a messy end to the break up between me and those hot, perfect doughnuts. But it was for the best….at least that what my butt and thighs keep telling me.

Bacon Pork Roast2

I was flipping through a Food Network Magazine a little while ago, when I suddenly came upon this recipe. It must have been some killer food photography, because the very first thought that entered my mind when I saw it was, “I HAVE to have that.”

Pork wrapped and roasted in more pork- and not just any pork: BACON?!

BAAAAACOOOOON.

I was making this dish. No ifs, ands or buts about it. I didn’t even do my traditional poll of the fam to see if they would eat it. There was no need for any of that. I knew they would.

We’re talking about bacon, here.

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I used a crappy knife to slice this roast, so I apologize for the sloppiness of the photos- but don’t let that throw you off. This dish was absolutely DELICIOUS. The marinade gives it a sweet/tangy flavor,while the bacon provides the perfect balance of saltiness, resulting in a perfect marriage of flavors. My instincts to make this couldn’t have been more spot on. It’s so good in fact, that I’ve decided to bring it to this week’s Fiesta Friday #36, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Selma and Elaine.

What’s one thing that when you see you just HAVE to have?

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

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Bacon Wrapped Blackberry Pork Roast

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup blackberry preserves
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (4 to 5 lb) boneless center-cut pork loin, trimmed
  • 1 clove garli, smashed
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 8 slice bacon
  • 2 tablespoons instant flour (such as Wondra)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth

 Directions

1. Combine the preserves, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, mustard, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Poke the pork with a paring knife, then rub with the garlic; season with salt and pepper.

3. Rub the pork all over with the preserves mixture, then transfer to a large resealable bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

4. About 20 minutes before roasting, remove the pork from the fridge and preheat the oven to 325°. Put the red onions in a metal roasting pan and set a rack on top. Wrap the pork with the bacon (overlapping them slightly and tucking them under; tie a piece of kitchen twice around each slice to secure it). Set on the rack and roast until bacon is crisp and a thermometer inserted into center of pork reads 145°, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer pork to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, make gravy: Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the pan.Place the roasting pan over 2 burners over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour until incorporated. Add the chicken broth and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar and season with salt & pepper.

6. Remove twine and slice the pork. Serve with onions and gravy.

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

Pizza Pasta Salad1

I know, I know. Another ‘pizza’ themed recipe. I’m sure it’s kinda getting to be overkill at this point, right?

Well just bear with me one more time. This’ll be the last ‘pizza-style’ recipe I share for a while (at least I THINK it will. I may change my mind about that), and it really was too good NOT to share with you all in the case that you hadn’t heard of it before.

Does pizza have a flavor? I don’t mean the individual ingredients themselves, I mean the actual dish of pizza in and of itself- does it have a specific taste and flavor all on it’s own?

I think so. I mean, I sure can pick out a particular smell at my job and immediately think, “Someone here ordered pizza.”

Then I stick out my bottom lip and kick an imaginary rock because somebody has pizza and they’re not sharing it with me.

I don’t care if it’s just one of the $5 Hot-N-Readys from Little Caesars. When you’re at work and you smell pizza, ANY kind of pizza smells and looks good. And when you don’t get any, you just get in a really rotten mood, then turn back to your crappy food that you brought from home and tell yourself that it tastes just as good. (It definitely doesn’t. Very few things taste as good as pizza.)

Pizza Pasta Salad2

I decided to make this dish purely out of curiosity. I thought it sounded like a good idea, but wasn’t exactly sure if pasta salad- that most famous dish of cookouts that’s usually just seasoned with a bottle of Italian dressing, could actually taste like the ‘flavors’ of a pizza. As it turned out, it really did because the first thing that came out of mouth when I took a bite of this was, “Heh. It tastes like pizza.” (i.i, delicious)

Although the title of this recipe is Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad, I think you should really just adapt it for yourself, and throw whatever you eat on your pizza, into this salad. Supreme Pizza is just what I like, so I used the toppings, plus some roasted red peppers that I roughly chopped up.

Pizza Pasta Salad3

Well, I kinda take that back. There are some rules that go with this when it comes to add-ins. You have to put pepperoni in this- even if you don’t like it on your pizza. And if you don’t like pepperoni on your pizza, then you’re dead to me.

Also, if by some horrible error of your tastebuds in fooling you into believing that you like things like anchovies or black olives on your pizza, then you shouldn’t add them in here either. They’re both disgusting. They’ll ruin the dish.

I’m taking this dish to this week’s Fiesta Friday #28, hosted by  Margot and Saucy.  Give it a shot,  it’s quick, easy, and tastes like pizza: what more do you want from me? 😉

Pizza Pasta Salad4

And now, because I’ve run out of things to say and am too lazy to try and think of anything else to discuss: some completely random facts I hunted down just for you guys.

  • It takes the “Where’s Waldo” artist one month to complete a drawing. (Yeah, I can definitely buy that. I have no idea how that guy can make so detailed drawings that, save for the one itty bitty space where Waldo is hiding, are wholly insignificant. Great talent.)
  • Oprah Winfrey earns $315,000,000/year = $26,000,000/month = $6,000,000/week = $850,000/day = $35,000/hr = $600/minute = $10/sec! (I don’t know whether to be really happy about this because Oprah represents such a Cinderella story, or really depressed because my yearly salary is what she makes in an hour and a half.)
  • Make a fist with your left hand, squeeze your left thumb and then put your right index finger down your throat. “NO GAG REFLEX” (OMG, guys, I actually tried it, and it worked! #MINDBLOWN)

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

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Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

Recipe Adapted from Rachael Ray

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 8 fresh white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 stick pepperoni, casing removed and cut into a small dice
  • 1 (9.6 oz) bag of pre-cooked sausage crumbles
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
  • 1 pound rotini pasta, cooked to al dente and cooled under cold water, then drained

Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or Italian dried seasoning
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

 Directions

1. Combine tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, peppers, pepperoni, mozzarella, basil and pasta in a big bowl.

2. Whisk garlic salt, oregano or Italian seasoning, tomato paste and vinegar together. Stream in extra-virgin olive oil while continuing to whisk dressing.

3. When oil is incorporated, pour dressing over pasta salad, add a few grinds of black pepper to the bowl. Add the parmesan cheese, then toss salad to coat evenly. Adjust your seasonings and serve salad.