Grilled Jerk Chicken

Grilled Jerk Chicken is a recent addition to our repertoire, but I think it is worth posting. Normally, I exercise what I call the “Third Time’s a Charm” rule. What this means is that sometimes we will enjoy a recipe the first time we make it, but the second or third time we’ll change our minds and decide it’s actually underwhelming and not worth continuing to hold on to. If a recipe can get past the third try, it has a tendency to stick for years.

Nevertheless, we have been looking for a good, basic jerk recipe for years and haven’t been able to find one until now, and I’m happy to share it. Many recipes that we have tried included too many dried spices that ultimately tasted gritty on the tongue. We tried this one recently for a barbecue and it was definitely a hit. The taste is fresh with a bit of spice on the end, but not too much. How much spice you get can easily be controlled by how many scotch bonnet or habanero peppers you use. We used orange habaneros because I rarely see scotch bonnets here. We followed the recipe exactly and threw the habaneros, whole, into the blender with everything else.

The original recipe calls for chicken breasts, but we used wings, legs and thighs instead. We also have not tried the accompanying watermelon salsa. We weren’t sure if the Coleman’s mustard called for meant the dried or the prepared, but all we could find was the dried so we used that. It seems to have worked.

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf is my husband’s invention. It includes grated veggies in the loaf that help to combat the dryness that sometimes accompany dishes made with turkey. If, like me, you use a food processor to grate the veggies, you will find that some larger pieces of veggie will find their way into the mix. I used to take these and mince them up, but I experimented with the large pieces and found that the occasional larger piece of potato or zucchini in the loaf actually provides a nice textural contrast. Now, I just toss them in with the perfectly grated veggies. I have also grated the veggies by hand when I didn’t feel like washing the food processor, and that works too; it just takes a bit longer.

The type of veggies used is fairly flexible. Depending on what you have, you can use extra zucchini and leave out the carrots, or use extra carrots instead of the bell pepper. A bit of celery might also be nice. I think the only thing I wouldn’t consider taking out would be the onion. Overall, you want to try to keep the ratio of meat to veggies consistent, or the resulting loaf will either be too dry, or it won’t hold together like a proper meatloaf should.

As the recipe stands now, it calls for two packages of McCormick meatloaf seasoning. Sometime in the future, we hope to create a spice mix that will mimic the taste of the packaged meatloaf seasoning. For now however, we use the spice mix.

Over time, grocery store packages of ground turkey have changed. I used to only be able to get ground turkey in 1 1/4 pound packages, but now they all seem to be exactly 1 pound. I’ve made this recipe with both 2 1/2 pounds and with exactly 2 pounds, and it doesn’t affect the result significantly, either way. Use what you have available to you.

Turkey Meatloaf — Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

1 sweet bell pepper, sliced away from stem, ribs and seeds removed
1 1/2 large carrots, peeled, ends cut off
1/2 small yellow onion, peeled, ends cut off
1 russet potato, peeled
1 small zucchini, ends cut off
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt (for vegetables)
1 1/2 tsp salt (for meatloaf)
2 lbs. ground turkey
2 packets McCormick meatloaf seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 C bread crumbs
1 C oats
3/4 C ketchup + more for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop veggies into pieces that will fit in the mouth of a food processor, then grate. In a large saute’ pan coated with the vegetable oil, combine the grated veggies with the first teaspoon of salt. Cook down until the veggies are limp and most of the water has cooked out of them. (When it’s ready, the mixture will start to stick, and what sticks will begin browning) Turn into a bowl and set aside to cool. When the veggies are cool enough to handle with bare hands, add the ground turkey. Mix in meatloaf seasoning, the second 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, eggs, the 3/4 cup of ketchup, bread crumbs and oats until completely incorporated. Turn out into two loaf pans. If you don’t plan to eat both loaves immediately, use a disposable aluminum foil loaf pan for one loaf, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze.

Top the loaf with additional ketchup and then bake at 375 degrees for one hour.

Spectacular served with mashed potatoes and corn!

Baked Brie

Baked Brie is usually either baked covered in puff pastry dough, or baked naked and drizzled with honey. We cover ours in pie dough. It’s simple to do, we can make it ourselves, and if we’ve had the foresight to pick up a small wheel of brie (which we often do) this becomes party of a pantry meal. My 12-year-old insists that when she goes away to college, sometimes she can see this being her dinner (maybe with some fruit, hopefully). We like to do this occasionally as a part of our weekly Snack Plate tradition.

Baked Brie

Ingredients

1 4 – 6oz wheel of brie cheese
1/2 recipe of Wesson Oil Pie Crust

Directions

Make the Wesson Oil Pie Crust as directed. Roll out the resulting ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper. Keep rolling until the dough is as thin as you can get it.

With a sharp knife, cut off most of the rind from the cheese. Brie rind is edible, so you can skip this step, but leaving the rind on will prevent the cheese from getting as gooey as you might want it.

Remove the top layer of wax paper covering the dough. Place the entire wheel of cheese on one end of the dough. Using the wax paper to support the delicate dough, flip the other end of the dough over on top of the cheese. Gently press down from the top where the dough meets the cheese. Cut off the extra dough with a sharp knife. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the dough together to create a seal.

Bake in an oven-safe ramekin or on an oven-safe plate at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. Serve with crackers and fruit either as an appetizer, or as a part of Snack Plate.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spaghetti

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Spaghetti is the spaghetti sauce of my childhood. Less acidic, more sweet than most, it wasn’t the only spaghetti sauce that I liked, but it was special. The only time spaghetti had this taste was at my grandma’s house. I couldn’t have told you when I was a child that she used canned tomato soup. Even though I rarely use processed ingredients in my recipes, one bite of this spaghetti and I’m eight years old again, eating spaghetti on Grandma’s blue and white china plates.

Of course, Grandma didn’t really hand me the recipe, so what I’ve written here is my interpretation of her description of making the dish. She started out, “Well, first you fry up your celery and your onion . . .” Enough said. She told me that she uses Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil and garlic powder for the seasonings, but I found similar recipes online that suggested the oregano and basil in place of the Mrs. Dash.

Ingredients

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, fresh ground
1 pound hamburger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
2 cans Campbell’s Tomato Soup
1 Tbs Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 C of the pasta water, reserved
1 pound of dry spaghetti noodles

Directions

Fill a large pasta pot with water and place on the stove, covered, on high heat.

Put olive oil in a large, wide skillet, turning to coat, and put on another burner on medium. When the olive oil is heated through, add the celery, onion and fresh garlic, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook for a few minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the hamburger and a bit more salt and some fresh ground black pepper and continue cooking. When the hamburger is cooked through, add the garlic powder, oregano and basil.

Keep the sauce covered on low heat while you finish the pasta. The sauce should always wait for the pasta; the pasta should never wait for the sauce. When the pasta water is boiling, add kosher salt until the water tastes like the ocean. Then add the dry spaghetti noodles. Cook according to package directions. When finished, reserve 1/2 cup of the water before you drain the noodles.

Once the noodles are drained, return them to the now empty pasta pot, without the pasta insert. Add the Worchestershire Sauce and the 1/2 cup of pasta water to the sauce. Taste, and add salt or black pepper as needed. Pour all of the sauce over the pasta in the pasta pot and toss with tongs to combine.

Serve immediately. Makes about 6 servings.

Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce

Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce is a recipe that comes from a cookbook that I no longer have. I love this recipe, and yet, I didn’t want to make any of the other recipes in the book. When this happens, I make a copy of the recipe(s) that I want to keep, and give away the cookbook to make more room on my bookshelf. My copy of the book called for 2 pounds of shrimp, 1/3 cup of bamboo shoots, and the cornflour was listed as cornstarch, but everything else is the same. If I don’t have any fresh basil already growing in my garden, then I just leave it out; this recipe doesn’t really need it. We do love, however, to add asparagus: one bunch cut into 2 inch pieces and stir fried w/ the rest of the veggies is a fabulous addition.

English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread is hard to have done in time for breakfast, since it has to rise for 45 minutes. If you plan ahead and make it the day before, however, it’s very nice sliced and toasted the next morning. It has the nice, open texture of real English muffins, but having shaped and cooked English muffins, I can tell you that baking a single loaf is much easier. We usually use animal milk in this recipe, cow’s milk or goat’s milk, but you could probably substitute an alternative milk like almond milk if you wanted to. In that case, you would want to add an extra bit of fat to keep the texture of the bread nice and soft.

Classic English Toad in the Hole

The Toad in the Hole that I grew up with was an egg fried inside a slice of bread with a circle cut out of the center. This is different. Classic English Toad-in-the-Hole is chewy, eggy, slightly sweet batter surrounding sausages, traditionally English bangers. If you’ve ever had a popover, the taste and texture is similar. We have a favorite neighborhood butcher who makes their own sausages as our source for the bangers. You can really use whatever kind of sausage you like and that is readily available to you. My kids don’t care for the bangers, so we usually throw in some traditional breakfast sausage as well. We just have to remember where we put which kind of sausage in the pan. For lazy weekends at home, or brunches with company, this is a recipe that I intend to use forever.