Monday, July 30, 2012

Garlic Prawns in Edam Cheese Spaghetti

I was sent off to the grocery store with light and fish as my keywords for dinner. None of the fish we like were on sale and I didn't want to spend a bundle on exotic fare.  After considering the whole meat department from fish through chicken to pork, I settled on prawns.  My partner, Fern, doesn't like cream sauces much so I bought a zucchini and mushrooms to go with fresh garden peas and a stick of celery. I planned to fry the prawns in garlic butter and serve them on brown and red rice with vegetables on the side.

When I got home my partner said he wasn't in the mood for whole grain rice but pasta would be nice.
"I could make fresh pasta and a garlic cheese sauce like last week?"

So I got to work picking and shelling green peas.   This takes a lot longer than you would think!  By the time I got the peas done it was only 30 minutes before our usual dinner time. Partner came into the kitchen to inquire why time dinner would be ready.
"I still have to make the pasta but I could use Barilla pasta and get dinner ready in 30 minutes!"
"Barilla will be fine."

Good, I can concentrate on the sauce. I diced up an onion and got it frying.  When the onion was golden I added the prawns turning and taking them out before they were completely cooked. Next I fried the mushrooms and garlic. When they were done I added some flour and cooked off the taste.  I added a little chicken stock and then some milk till I had a sauce then some cream.  I put the celery and peas in to cook in the simmering cream sauce.  I should have sweated them first but forgot, so it might have tasted slightly better. I put the pasta in to cook.  I had my Edam cheese thinly sliced so I added it to the sauce and stirred to melt it.  When I had a good consistency in the sauce I added the prawns and onions to finish cooking in the sauce.

I plated the pasta and spooned the sauce over top.  It was really delicious and completely different than I had set out to prepare. So the message is, be flexible.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dijon Pork Chop with Greek Salad

I was originally going to make souvlaki but time ran out so I just coated both sides of the chops with Dijon mustard and grilled them on the BBQ. Plain old basmati rice under the chop but I let the juice from the chop drip down onto the rice which flavored it nicely.

Greek salad is basic:

cucumber chopped
tomatoes chopped
chives (or sweet or red onion)
black olives
feta cheese
dried or fresh oregano or parsley or nothing
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup xv olive oil/rice oil (I use more than half rice oil so the xv olive oil doesn't overpower)

Toss and serve.

It was all particularly delicious despite only taking half an hour to prepare, much to my surprise.  I guess making good food is becoming a habit. It's a good one.

Southwest Chicken with mixed vegetables

I had planned to have a stir fry but my partner was yearning for something different. I decided on Southwest Chicken on whole grain rice with fried vegetables. I got the rice on first, just over half brown basmati, a little pot barley and the rest red basmati or similar.  Cooked in half water half chicken stock with a little salt, onion and garlic powder.  I stirred some chives in when it was done. High fiber and very tasty.

I did the Southwest Chicken on the BBQ, season it, spray with oil then  2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes, turn over, 2 minutes rotate 2 minutes and all the grill marks are on the chicken.  Then I moved the chicken off the burner and left it to roast for 30 minutes total cooking time.

The vegetables were half an onion diced, mushrooms, celery stick, a red pepper and bean sprouts.  I fried the onion till golden then took it out of the pan.  Next I fried the mushrooms till almost done then I put the onions back in and added the bean sprouts, red pepper and celery.  When they were cooked I sprinkled a little flour over all and added a little chicken stock, salt, mixed pepper and paprika.  I stirred in the seasoning and plated everything.

This time I was able to plan a little better and get the chicken and rice to communicate on the plate but the vegetables are still in another car. The paprika in the vegetables and and Southwest rub sort of brought them together but I think the bean sprouts just dragged vegetables where they shouldn't have gone.  I might have had a better dish if I'd thrown the bean sprouts away, another case of less is more.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Steak'n Caesar

My partner fell out of a cherry tree and broke a rib the other day so he wants easy to eat, easy to digest food. Like cherries maybe. He wants a salad and small protein.  I bought chicken breasts but that was too much.  I had one rib steak left, we could share it with a Caesar?  Bingo!

I started frying croutons and asked for a head of romaine from the garden. I was well into making the mayo for the Caesar dressing when I realized I didn't buy a lemon today.  I had limes in the fridge, they'll have to do. My partner came in and I told him I was using limes.
"Glad you told me ahead of time." he replied.

Expectations with food are so important. If I say it is one thing, it has to be at least that. It can be more, but it has to be at least what it claims to be. That's why when asked what's for dinner it's 'chicken' not 'Indonesian satay chicken with Thai peanut sauce' even if that's what ends up on the plate. Until I have it successfully on the plate all I have is chicken. Or in this case rib steak. 

I finished making the dressing and got the lettuce into the spinner.  I seasoned the steak with my Beef Rub and got it on the BBQ. It was a bit thinner so I gave it a minute and a half on each turn. 6 minutes altogether with the BBQ on High.

I must say our home grown romaine is smaller but also much sweeter than what I get from the store. It was a real treat. The steak was amazing, almost as good as Angus beef but not quite.  That's New Zealand Beef and it's competitive with local fare.  I like to buy local but New Zealand is only across the water (two oceans). I can practically see it from here.

So that was a wonderful light meal.  I hadn't thought of buying one steak for the two of us but it certainly worked in this situation. I've gotten the hang of doing steaks on the BBQ finally.  No more shoe leather.

Panna Cotta

One of the chef's on Chopped made a panna cotta the other day and I had no idea what panna cotta was.  It turns out to be heavy cream or just about any liquid, sugar, flavoring and gelatin. No cooking but it does have to set for 2 hours.  After one hour mine was still liquid in the center but at 2 hours it was completely set. Unfortunately I'll have to photograph it next time I make it because I dove in forgetting to pick up the camera first. Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet gelatin

I could have used all cream but my partner has already had bypass surgery so losing a little of the fat keeps the doctor happy.  I used Knox gelatin which had to be dissolved in hot water then mixed into the cream mixture. Follow the directions for your gelatin. Keep in mind that 1 packet will gel 2 cups of liquid. So modify the recipe so you end up with the correct amount of liquid for the gelatin you are using.

I did not plan to unmold the panna cotta which I regretted when I was plating. I'm used to making jello pudding so I was treating it the same way. It would have been easy to unmold if I had planned it from the start.  Next time, don't be so lazy Doug! I was going to put some strawberry rhubarb compote on top of the panna cotta but I needed some crunch too.  I decided to make some butter crumble for the top.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 oz  brown sugar
1-2 tsp milk

I used a pastry cutter to turn the flour and butter into course meal then cut in the brown sugar.  I didn't measure my sugar but I think that's about what I used.  If it doesn't look like enough, add a little more. Finally I added a little milk and stirred with a fork to make a loose lumpy dough.  I put the dough in the oven at 400ºF for 20 minutes or until it was browned. When it cooled I spread the crumble over the strawberry rhubarb and served the dessert.

It was rich and creamy with the sweet and sour notes of the compote lifting the vanilla flavor of the panna cotta.  The crumble was really nice too, I'll have to do that again! Vanilla panna cotta can be whipped up and served in two hours with any kind of fruit or berries and nuts could have given crunch instead of pastry dough.  The pastry dough added flavor to the dish so I prefer it to nuts for both flavor and cost. I had a bit left over which I served to the gardener on his break.  He said it was the best tasting thing he'd ever eaten. That made me feel really good!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moose Roast

Our gardener gave us a moose roast so we had him over for moose dinner tonight.  He gave me his mother's recipe which was a marinade.

1 can beef bouillon  (I used a liter/quart)
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme

Marinate the moose roast overnight.

Then I salted and floured the roast and seared it all around then put it in a 300ºF oven.  It took 90 minutes to cook just past medium rare.

Turnips I started an hour before serving time and put two carrots in for the last half hour. Mashed potatoes are standard nothing special.  The peas are from the garden and these are the very first peas I have ever podded before cooking. It was worth the effort. So much more flavor than frozen. I smeared horseradish on my meat before remembering to take a photo. I did remember to put chives on the potatoes and I even managed to have chopped parsley to garnish everything.  It dawned on me last night watching Chopped why my plating is so terrible.

This dish is 4 separate foods cooked differently and all put on the same plate together. Of course they don't form a cohesive dish so they all sit there crowded together but not uniting. I have eaten meals like this all my life so it's going to be difficult to change but it has to happen if I am going to put out a beautiful plate. That will take a lot more thought to plan not just a protein but a whole cohesive plate where everything works together. Hopefully it gets easier as I learn, but it took quite a bit just to recognize the problem.

Anyway, the meat was delicious as were the veggies and taters even if it looks ordinary.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rib Steak with New Potatoes and Corn on the Cob

I knew I wanted some kind of beef steak today but the best deal I could come up with was 3 8oz rib steaks from New Zealand for $12.  So I have an extra in the fridge for lunch later this week. I soaked the corn for 30 minutes in cold water before putting it on the BBQ which was ~400º.  I kept it there for 30 minutes turning the corn occasionally.

I boiled the potatoes and fried the mushrooms in butter on the stove.  The steaks I seasoned with my Beef Rub and cooked for 8 minutes on High heat, 2 minutes per grill mark per side. Salt and butter on the corn on the plate and butter and chives in the potatoes. The mushrooms were fried with a little butter, salt and pepper.  A very simple meal to prepare but the taste was phenomenal, not Angus, but close.

The corn was just barely done and I ended up with burnt corn husks everywhere so next time I think I'll just use a big pot and boil the corn on the cob.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I found this recipe on the Canadian Living website.  It's the tastiest, moistest recipe I've come across. It can make a 9x13 rectangular cake or 2 9" or 8" rounds as I used here. I cut each cake in half horizontally so I had 4 layers. I didn't make enough icing so I ran out before I got to the sides.  Here is the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350º put rack in center of oven.

Grate 2 cups carrots
Drain 1 cup canned pineapple (fresh pineapple won't work)
toast 1/2 cup crushed walnuts or pecans

In a bowl beat:

3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

beat in:

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar

add and mix slowly:

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg

mix in the carrots, nuts and pineapple, pour into cake pan(s) and put in the oven.  40 minutes for rectangular and about 30 minutes for round.  Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Let cool completely before icing.

The icing is very simple cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla.  For a rectangular cake:

1 pkg cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup icing sugar

For layer cakes double it.  Cream the cheese and butter together.  This means put it in a mixer and let it beat till it has a soft even texture. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat again. Apply to cake or for layer cakes:

Decide which cake will be the bottom and use the pan as a guide to slice the top off that cake so the second cake will sit level on it. To slice the cakes in half horizontally carefully slice into the cake then rotate the cake into the knife all the way round and it should come off in one even slice.

Obviously I'm not an expert cake decorator but this was my first layer cake and it wasn't for show so I'm not worried about the look so much.

Creative Leftovers

The last time I made Cajun chicken I had one extra breast that I cooked and put in the fridge for...later. It's now later and I decided to get another breast and make a standard starch, vegetable and meat dinner, the grocery store had other ideas.  I needed either one or three breasts to be left with none or enough for two. The store had none or four boneless breasts.  There were three bone in, skin on breasts but I didn't want to make stock again and they were expensive. There was one package of one breast bone in, skin on but it was priced the same as the boneless breasts, which is more than I'm willing to pay for skin and bones I'm going to throw away. So what to make. I still have frozen prawns...if I make pasta with a garlic cream cheese sauce and put in prawns and Cajun chicken it should taste pretty good. So that's what I decided to do.

The peas were fresh from the garden, the first time I've ever picked podded peas for dinner (excuse the alliteration). It was extra work, a bit fussy, but was well worth the effort.  The peas were rich with flavor that's lost in the frozen ones. I put a pot of water on the burner and added the spaghetti when I was about 15 minutes from completing the sauce.

I counted out 10 frozen prawns and put them in cold water to thaw. I diced up half an onion and put it in the pan with some oil and butter. When the onions had a bit of color I added two cloves crushed garlic and cooked it a bit.  Next in went the prawns and I cooked them about half way on each side then I took them out and left them aside with the cubed chicken. The peas were added then a heaping teaspoon of flour and a bit more oil followed by milk. I added about a cup of milk in small amounts so I didn't end up with a lumpy sauce.  Once all the milk was in I added about 50 to 100 gms (1/4lb) of Edam cheese cut up.  I kept stirring till it was mostly melted. Then the prawns and chicken went back in to finish cooking. I plated the pasta and spooned the sauce over it.  This is the first time I've made spaghetti with anything other than tomato sauce so a lot is riding, it better be good.

We sat down and dug in.  The garlic was cooked perfectly so the sweet flavor came through over the Cajun spice from the chicken.  The prawns were not over cooked which made a real difference in the overall enjoyment of the meal. Somehow rubbery prawns just don't eat well. The Edam cheese came through tempered with garlic and Cajun spices. Over all it was absolutely delicious, one of the best prawn dishes I've ever made. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I use the recipe on the bag of Chipits chocolate chips from Hershey.  Their recipe makes 4 dozen cookies which is way too many so I make half a batch, which is what I'll detail here.  I cook on parchment paper to prevent flavor transfer and make cleanup a breeze.  I have one ceramic cookie sheet and wish I had two.  For the second dozen I use a pizza stone. I don't know why cooking on a ceramic surface makes better cookies but it does, it also takes a little longer. I took the butter and an egg out of the fridge to warm.  A warm egg shell is softer and less likely to leave bits of shell in the egg. The butter needs to be creamed so it must be soft first.

 Put two racks in the middle of the oven with enough space between for your mitted hands. Preheat oven to 375º. Ingredients:

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup flour
1 cup Chipits chocolate chips (or your favorite)

Cream the butter and slowly add the brown sugar, then the white sugar.  Add the vanilla. (I bought a liter bottle of Vanilla Extract for $32 from  and was very pleased with the products.  I don't know if they ship outside Canada.) Add the egg. When the batter is uniform add the salt, baking soda and flour. When uniform add the Chipits and mix till uniform.  Drop onto  parchment paper if you have it or a cookie sheet will do. Bake about 12 minutes for metal cookie sheets and 20 minutes for ceramic. They'll burn at the back of the oven first. They should be golden and crisp right through for the most satisfying result.

Nachos with Salsa

A mid movie snack, depending on your knife skills this can be a very quick dish to prepare and serve.  I don't like the airy watery mess created by electric blenders making salsa.  Finely dicing everything by hand gives the best result and is worth the effort. I started with the tomatoes then moved on to the jalapeno.  I used to take the seeds and membranes out to cut the heat a bit but last time my partner said I should leave them in.  This time I put half the seeds in and the result was little hotter than leaving them out so it's really only the aesthetic that matters. I also chopped up a thin slice of red onion and some fresh cilantro or parsley if, like me, that's all you've got.

I juiced a lime and added that with salt, pepper and 1/4 tsp cumin to the salsa. I turned on the toaster oven to warm up to 300º and started grating some cheddar cheese.  I put layers of taco chips and cheese  in the pan and stacked it up to a respectable height then popped it in the toaster oven. A regular oven would work just fine but it takes more than twice as long to warm up. When the cheese was melted inside the pile the chips were done and I took them out.

The salsa was fresh and delicious. The melted cheese on the sesame taco chip, irresistible. It was all so good it made the movie seem like a first run feature.

Dijon Mustard Pork Chop with Homemade Ketchup

Originally I went to the store intent on buying pork for a stir fry. I found a couple of nice chops that would do and came home.  My partner asked what we're having for dinner, "Pork Stir Fry" I replied.
"Can't we just have a pork chop?"
So I quickly changed gears.  Mashed potatoes, snow peas, carrots and a Dijon mustard seasoned pork chop done on the BBQ. Quickly peeling potatoes and carrots and putting the potatoes on to cook. I put a pot with some water on to boil for the vegetables and put my carrots in the steamer. I also added some frozen peas to the carrots because there weren't quite enough snow peas.  I lit the BBQ to warm up and spread Dijon Mustard on my pork chops. Usually I cook them in a frying pan but I wanted to try it on the BBQ for a change. The BBQ stays around 400º so it should take about 10 minutes to cook the chops.

I put the steamer with the carrots on the pot of boiling water and took the chops outside and set them on the BBQ. I put the snow peas in with the carrots and waited till they were almost done then took them off the steam and ran them under cold water to stop cooking.  The peas thawed and overcooked before the carrots were done, fortunately not badly enough to ruin the meal. I poured the water out of the steamer pot and put a dollop of butter in.  The pork chops I originally put on medium heat weren't cooking fast enough so I turned the BBQ up to High. Every two minutes I turned the chops so I got crossed char marks on both sides.

I had the potatoes mashed before the chops were done so when the meat was cooked I put the steamer pot with the butter back on the burner.  When the butter was melted I put the vegetables into the steamer pot to finish cooking. Still stuck in suburban standard plating but I did manage to get chives and parsley on the plate so I'm making progress.

The pork was delicious done this way.  I'll be writing up that ketchup when the tomatoes are ripe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

The last of the strawberries and the first of the raspberries. That little recipe for shortcake is so easy I was able to whip up the dough and get it in the oven while I was making the corned beef dinner. Those two muffins are 7 inch shortcakes on a cookie sheet. It really is time I invested in a couple of cake pans.

Anyway I sliced them in half horizontally and stacked them up.  I mixed berries and whipped cream for the filling and used pure whipped cream on top.  The cake was difficult to cut at first but after it had been in the fridge for a while it firmed up nicely.  Everyone was thrilled with the dessert seemingly pulled out of thin air.

Corned Beef

Rarely do I have a meal two weeks in the making but that is what this one took.  I started with a beef brisket, Morton's Curing Salt, pickling spice and a vacuum sealer. Follow the instructions on the bag of salt but I think it was one tablespoon curing salt per cup water.  I brought the brine to a boil and let it cool down then put it in a sealer bag with a tablespoon of pickling spice and the meat.  Suck the air out and seal it up or use a zip lock baggie. Set it in the fridge and turn it over every two days.  In two weeks  maximum it's done.  Drain, quickly rinse the salt water off, cover with water and simmer for 3 hours at least. Or drain, reseal and freeze.

The turnips were cooked with a carrot.  I put the carrot in after the turnip had cooked for twenty minutes. I diced the turnip up into half inch or less cubes so it would cook faster, it took about 50 minutes. Mashed with a little salt and butter then a few drops of lime juice to finish. My partner said next time lose the lime, so I guess where lemon will work, lime might not.

Mashed potatoes hopefully anyone can do but if someone needs a recipe add milk and butter to the mashed potatoes, a little salt if needed and whip with a fork. Don't overwork potatoes or they turn into a thick unpalatable paste.

The snow peas are fresh from the garden.  I steamed them then tossed them in butter with a few drops of lime juice.  Usually I just use Dijon mustard for the condiment but tonight I mixed a little honey into it and called it a sauce. It was all gone at the end so I guess it was good.  The corned beef was of course the best we've had in years.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Angus filet with snow peas and Prawns

Yesterday the 'Appy Hour special at the supermarket was a two pound bag of frozen cleaned raw prawns for $10. Usually I only buy fresh, but prawns can survive freezing without losing all of their flavor and the convenience would be great so I bought a bag. Today was a beef day but there wasn't a nice roast on sale so I decided to splurge and buy the best.  Three filets of Angus beef cost me 5 times what I usually pay for protein, I better not screw them up! I seasoned them with my Beef Rub and paired them with carrots and snow peas from the garden.

Once I had everything prepped I decided to blanch the vegetables then cool them and finish them in garlic butter.  Why not try a few of those prawns too? I got a handful from the freezer and put them under cold running water.  I started the potatoes and had the BBQ heated up and on HI.  I put the steaks on 2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes, turn over 2 minutes rotate, 2 minutes and they're done with perfect grill marks

When the steaks were half done I put the prawns in the hot pan with butter, garlic, salt and pepper. When the prawns were almost done I added the carrots and peas and took the steaks and potatoes off the BBQ.  I just plopped it all on the plate since I thought I was doing well getting two hot proteins on the plate.

The steak was perfect and melted in my mouth.  The vegetables were the best I've done in a while, the pros know what they're doing!  Baked potato, hard to screw up. The prawns were delicious and a welcome addition to my menu. Fern's mother finished everything on her plate except a prawn which she shared with the dogs. She liked it.

I also made banana bread and a batch of chocolate nut fudge but I'm too tired to brag.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eating out a bit

My partner's mother is visiting so we've been eating out more.  The only thing of note I made lately was ice cream and I found out something interesting.  I usually use 100gm of Walmart chocolate bar in a batch of ice cream but this time I put in 200gm just to see what difference it made. It ruined the texture of the ice cream and the chocolate completely overpowered the cream. A clear case of less is more.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cajun Chicken Under Salsa with Potato Salad

Same old Cajun Chicken but this time I put it under salsa and served it with potato salad. The salsa is my simple recipe:

Finely dice everything
1 tomato
1 tbsp chives
1 tbsp parsley
1 jalapeno
1 very thin slice red onion
juice of 1 lime
pinch of cumin

The potato salad was very simple but drew rave reviews.

6 medium potatoes diced cooked and cooled
finely dice all the rest
1 thin slice red onion
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1 tbsp chives
1 tbsp parsley
3 hard boiled eggs
1 lemon juiced
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp paprika
5 stuffed olives sliced

It was a surprisingly good combination.  I think I'll try the salsa and chicken on some whole grain rice with a little parmesan in it next rainy day.

Real Strawberry Shortcake

I always thought strawberry shortcake meant those sponge cakes but I was mislead.  Shortcake is actually a cake dough baked on a sheet.  Here's the recipe I used:

2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients till it is a coarse meal. Add the milk in the center and stir with a fork till it is a ball of dough.  Divide in two and flatten each half on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 450º for 18 to 20 minutes. That makes two thick pancakes which I sliced in half horizontally to make 4 layers of cake.

I sliced up most of the strawberries and mixed in some fine sugar but not too sweet.  A cup of whipping  cream was enough although my partner said it needed more. More might have made it unstable. Anyway the pieces held together on the plate and it tasted great!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Brined Pork Loin with roasted potatoes

This is the pork I put in brine yesterday. I used:

1 tbsp salt, 1/2 tbsp sugar and 1/8 tbsp molasses per cup for 4 cups of water.

Straight out of the brine and into the oven with bay leaves and a sprig each of thyme and rosemary on top.  It took 2.5 hours at 375º.  The potatoes were tossed in oil, salt, mixed pepper and paprika. I served it with carrots and snow peas from garden.

The condiment is French Canadian Ketchup, home made by my partner Fernand.  It was delicious and the potatoes were crunchy but not burned tasting.  It was a very enjoyable meal.  I made short cake for dessert but that will probably be tomorrow's post.

Summertime Guests

My partner's 86 year old mother is here for her annual two week visit so I have been focusing on getting the best flavors and looks on the plate. We're also eating in the dining room so I have to set the table and it's a lot more work, but worth it. The cookies are made using the recipe on the back of the Chip-its! chocolate chips package. Actually I made a half load and only added a cup of diced apricots at the insistence of my partner.  Half of them are gone already so I think they're a hit. Here's the proportions I used adding in this order:

1/2 cup butter creamed
1/2 cup brown sugar cream it in
1/4 cup sugar, cream it in
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips - brand names tend to taste better
1 cup diced apricots

I baked them on a cold ceramic cookie sheet and a pizza stone at 375º for 20 minutes. I bake on parchment paper so I don't transfer flavor via the ceramic.

Dinner last night was Snapper, mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli. My rub was good but I've been there before.  Tonight I made chicken with Southwest Rub, brown and red rice pilaf and garden salad. Good but again, been there done that. It's time to take my meals to the next level and I finally can see in my mind how to do it. This probably means spending an extra hour in the kitchen but the results should elevate my dishes out of the suburbs so I am excited at the prospect.

I have a pork loin brining in the fridge for tomorrow. I'll have to make photographing it part of setting up.  I also have a beef brisket corning in the fridge. It won't be ready for another week and a half. Interesting things are starting to happen with my cooking.