Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shack Sauce

If you don't live near a Shake Shack or aren't willing to wait on an hour long line for a burger (check the shack cam before you go), at least you can make your own shack sauce at home. I'm not promising it will transform your homemade burger into a shack burger (because let's face it, they crank tons of those babies out all day, every day, so they must have a few more tricks up their sleeve than you do). But what I am saying is, if you make a decent burger to begin with and then add some nice tangy shack sauce, it will definitely pump up the volume. You don't have much to lose here. It takes about 5 minutes and you can make it ahead of time. Although I should warn you, it does get thinner, the longer you keep it. I'm guessing because the pickles release more liquid. You can see what I mean in this photo, which was after at least two weeks in the fridge. Also, adding an extra pickle didn't help any. So don't do that.

Yield: about ¾ cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
4 slices kosher dill pickle
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth, scraping down sides of blender with rubber spatula as necessary.

from the Shake Shack (New York, NY)
all the ingredients in the food processor
shack sauce
putting shack sauce on a burger

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Easy Pesto Chicken

If you buy the pesto already made, this is sure to be the easiest dinner you make this week. Unless of course you consider taking a Big Mac and fries out of the bag and arranging them on the plate making dinner. Then this is a huge hassle.
Yield: 4 servings

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup homemade basil pesto (or store-bought)
2 -3 plum tomatoes, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1.      Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.
2.      Place chicken on the baking sheet and coat each piece with about 3 tablespoons pesto.
3.      Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.
4.      Remove from oven; top with tomatoes and cheese.
5.      Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

slightly adapted from (submitted by Tish)
raw chicken breasts with pesto
adding sliced tomatoes
sprinkling mozzarella on top
cheese melted
baked pesto chicken


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wild Mushroom Pizza with Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese

I can't be objective when it comes to this pizza. Because I love the combination of caramelized onions and goat cheese so much, I think I would eat it spread on a piece of cardboard. Cold. So all I can say is, if you feel the same way and you like mushrooms - booyah! This is your new favorite pizza. You're welcome. Side note: if you have any toppings leftover, use them to make your new favorite omelet. Again, you're welcome.

Yield: 6 (8-inch) pizzas

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (about 6 cups)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 lb. assorted wild mushrooms (crimini, oyster, chanterelle, shiitake), cut into bite-size pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 Kontos pocketless pitas (whole wheat or plain)
olive oil (for brushing)
8 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled

Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt butter with oil in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic and shallot. Sauté 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 13 minutes. Add rosemary; season with salt and pepper.

Can make toppings ahead—bring to room temp. before adding to pizza dough on the grill.

1.      Preheat grill.
2.      Brush the top side of each pita with olive oil.
3.      Place pita oiled side down on hot grill. When the bottom is lightly browned and has nice grill marks, turn the pita over.
4.      Working quickly, sprinkle the pita with goat cheese and top with mushrooms and onions.  Close the lid, and cook until the pita has browned on the bottom and the cheese is warmed through.

adapted from Woodfire Grill (Atlanta, GA)
raw chopped onions in the pan

I decided to chop mine, instead of thinly slicing them. The flavor
is the same, but the pizza looks a little more elegant with the onions
sliced (it's me that looks way less elegant when I'm eating and
the long, thin onions slide off my pizza and onto my chin).
caramelized onions
raw mushrooms
adding wine
adding rosemary
cooked mushrooms
Kontos pocket-less pita (whole wheat)

You can, of course, make your own pizza dough from scratch.
I just really like this for a short cut. Since I made my toppings the
day before, making this pizza with these pitas took all of
10 minutes to assemble and 10 minutes to cook.
goat cheese sprinkled on pita

I usually grill these pizzas, but it's was hot and rainy out
there. So I preheated my oven to 400
º F. and cooked these
on the bottom rack (for crispier crust) for about 10-11 minutes.
(There's no need to oil the pita if you're baking them.)
mushroom layer
caramelized onions on top
baked & sliced
wild mushroom pizza with caramelized onions and goat cheese

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mini Caprese Bites

This is such a simple way to enjoy fresh tomatoes in the summer. Especially when it's ridiculously hot outside and the idea of turning the oven on is about as appealing as snuggling under a comforter, in front of a roaring fire while drinking hot cocoa. Plus they're cute as the dickens. Whatever that means. Because now that I think about it, I've seen pictures of Charles Dickens and he's okay, but definitely not all that.

Makes 8 appetizer servings

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
10 to 14 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, cut into thirds
32 (4-inch) wooden skewers or toothpicks
32 small fresh basil leaves (or larger leaves, ripped to fit)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste

1.      Thread 1 tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, 1 piece of basil and another tomato half onto each skewer. Place skewers in a shallow serving dish.
2.      Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle oil mixture over skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

barely adapted from Southern Living, May 2008
grape tomatoes
small mozzarella balls
assembled caprese bite
caprese bites (without balsamic vinaigrette)
balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper
caprese bites drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

I'm assuming these are not exactly traditional enchiladas (because when I google images of enchiladas, most of them have a red tomato-based sauce on them). This one is topped with a white sauce (made with sour cream and green chilies). Between the creamy sauce and all the melted cheese, it's no surprise that I enjoyed these so much. And by the look of my fellow Americans on the evening news, something tells me I'm not the only one who likes my enchiladas creamy. (I think I just insulted my audience. Again. Honestly, I don't why you put up with this abuse. I'm pretty sure at least a third of you deserve better.)

Makes 8-10 enchiladas

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 (4-inch) corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese or Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
15 oz. (1 7/8 cups) chicken broth
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies

1.      Heat oil in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken and garlic and cook until chicken is no longer pink on the outside.
2.      Divide chicken mixture evenly between the tortillas; add 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese to each tortilla.
3.      Lightly oil a 9” x 13” baking pan. Roll enchiladas and place seam-side down in the pan.
4.      Preheat oven to 400º F.
5.      Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour and keep stirring until bubbly. Gradually whisk in chicken broth then bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
6.      Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and green chiles; pour sauce evenly over enchiladas.
7.      Top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese (baking dish may be double-wrapped and frozen at this point) and bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce near edges of baking dish is bubbly.

adapted from
raw chicken and onions

The original recipe called for cooking the onions with
the chicken, but I think it would be better to cook the
onions a little first - so I changed it in the recipe above.
cooked chicken mixture
chicken on corn tortilla
sprinkled with cheese
When you use room temp. corn tortillas, they will most likely
crack when you roll them. You can soften them by warming
them a little first, but the cracks are okay too because when you
spread the sauce on later, it covers everything and weighs it all down.
adding flour to melted butter
adding sour cream and chilies (the
chicken broth was already added)

These are pretty mild, so if you want to heat things
up, I suggest chopping a fresh hot pepper and adding
it to the chicken mixture, along with the spices.
sauce spread over the enchiladas

(See, no one will ever know about the cracks.)
sprinkled with cheese
chicken enchiladas

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baked Buttered Bugles

One day my husband told me that his grandparents used to make baked buttered bugles and that they were delicious warm from the oven, served with a glass bottle of coke (not a can). It became clear as he reminisced, that this was a very happy, childhood food memory for him. My response was something like "They did what?! They put butter on bugles? That's ridiculous. It's totally unnecessary. So they're the ones who started the childhood obesity epidemic." Chuck just shrugged and said it tasted good. Of course it tasted good. I was just incredulous at his revelation.

I filed this news away in my brain under absurd and things to make Chuck for his birthday. Because even though the whole idea of buttering bugles is preposterous to me, I love a good food memory and surprising my husband. Unfortunately I didn't think it through because my daughter had some (and of course loved it), so now I've inadvertently turned this into a food memory for her too. Which either makes me evil or the best mom ever. Since I'm leaning towards evil, my advice to you is don't butter your bugles. Which I probably don't have to tell you because you live in 2012 and get your cholesterol tested regularly and can see for yourself that it's totally superfluous, preposterous and borderline irresponsible (not to mention buttery, warm and crunchy).


1 (14.5 oz.) bag Bugles
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1.      Preheat oven to 300° F.
2.      Spread the bugles out on a sheet pan.
3.      Melt the butter, pour over the bugles and mix.
4.      Bake for about 45 minutes, mixing every 15 minutes, until dry.

melted butter
pouring butter over the bugles
buttered bugles before baking
It just wouldn't be baked buttered bugles without
a glass bottle of coke to wash them down. For some reason
I'm picturing Chuck at his grandparents' house sprinkling
pop rocks over his captain crunch, followed by a
refreshing candy cigarette and a rousing BB gun fight.

It's not easy to find coke in a bottle these days. I found
this one at Wegmans in the International aisle (it's
Mexican coke made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup).