Tuesday Dec 04, 2007

30 Minute Marsala

Yum!  This is so simple and delicious that there's no way anyone will believe that you made it in 1/2 hour.  This recipe was inspired from Elise at Simply Recipes.  I really think hers needs more sauce though! :)

Here's what you need:

  • 4 oz of Pancetta, or Salt Pork, or Bacon (with Pancetta being the most preferred)
  • 1 Sweet Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Shallot, Diced 
  • 2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut in strips (note, the best way is to use really thinly pounded chicken breasts but that takes too long!)
  • 1 cup of Marsala wine
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • Salt, pepper, garlic salt

Cut up the Pancetta (or Salt Pork as seen here or Bacon) into small cubes.  Cook in just a touch of olive oil until browned.

Add your chopped onions and diced shallots and a little salt.

Cook until translucent.  If you like mushrooms, add them now and toss for a few minutes.

Remove from pan.  Add a bit of olive oil to the pan.

Spinkle the chicken breast strips with garlic salt and pepper.  Working in batches, brown up the chicken strips.

After all the chicken is browned, your pan will look like this which is good!

Now deglaze the pan by pouring 1 cup of Marsala wine.  Be careful here because the pan is very hot, splatter is possible and so is flame.  Once the wine is in, scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom.

Bring the wine to a boil and add the heavy cream.  Bring this to a boil stirring constantly.  It should thicken up, if it doesn't then add a tablespoon or two of sour cream or a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch.  Once it starts to get thick, add some salt and pepper to taste.

Add back in the Onion, Shallot, Pancetta/Salt Pork/Bacon (whatever you chose) back to the pan and stir them into the sauce

Add the chicken back to the sauce. Coat in the sauce and also bring back up to serving temperature.


Saturday Dec 01, 2007

Frittata 101

The S word of the day is scrumptious!

A few weeks ago I snapped a photo of some frittatas I made and wrote a quick post about it.  In the comments, Simon and Melanie asked for recipes. (Not to ignore their comments, Linda and Barb did make me laugh). 

While I'm happy to provide a "How To" on the Frittata front, I'm sorry that I have to disappoint  Mel.  See Mel is currently appliance challenged and is sans oven over in China.  (I'd go nuts!)  An oven is required to make a frittata properly, it's what separates it from the omelettes of the world.  Now it's possible that you could do the baking part on a stove using a good lid or even a double boiler of some sort but you'd have to be careful of direct heat at the bottom of the pan which will most likely result in the worst kind of eggs, burnt ones.

These are super simple to make.  You add what you like and you can get as creative as you want.  I usually make two or three different types due to different tastes in the family.

First start off with what I called the shared ingredients.  These things will go into each frittata, and it's kind of a free for all.  Add what you like.  In this mixture I have:

  • One large maui onion, diced
  • One green bell pepper, diced
  • One red bell pepper, diced
  • One Jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • One shallot
  • 6 strips of turkey bacon, crumbled
  • 2 turkey sausage links, sliced
  • 2 ham steaks, cubed

Any reason I used the above?  None for except I like them and I had them.

Cook that all up with a little bit of olive oil until the onions are just getting translucent.

I'm also going to make one with some mushrooms.  I'm the only fungus fan in the house, so I sauté these sliced baby portobello in a different pan.


While I'm waiting on the shared ingredients to finish, I'm going to get a little creative with my mushroom frittata.  I've thin sliced two medium yukon gold potatoes which I seasoned with some garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Into 450 F degree oven for about 15 minutes to get crispy.  This is going to be my "crust".



When the mushrooms are done, I transfer them to a bowl and then line that pan with my crispy potato thins. 



On top of that I add some of the shared ingredient mixture, and put back in the mushrooms. 



For your other frittatas, spray some non-stick cooking spray into oven safe pans and load up them up with your ingredients.  You actually want to turn the stove on now and get the pans up to temperature for the eggs.  I've got three going here, the "plain", mushroom, and a Hawaiian, which is basically just the shared ingredients with pineapple included.  Crushed works best if you have it, and if you are going to use canned, make sure you get the kind packed in juice not syrup.



Now to add the eggs.  This is about 30 eggs.  I used about 12 whole eggs and 18 egg whites.  Whip the eggs in a large bowl and add salt and pepper.  If you used whole eggs for all of them, the frittata would be super dense.  Using egg whites make the dish lighter, fluffier, and far lower in fat.   Note that I've also added some green/spring onions to the top.

As soon as the eggs start to bubble, it's time for the oven. 

Put your pans into a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I have a convection oven, so your times may vary.   You'll know they are done because the eggs are firm and you can insert a fork and it comes out cleanly.


For the final step, top the frittata with cheese.  I've added a cheddar/colby mix to the mushroom potato frittata and some fresh shredded Parmesan to the Hawaiian.  The flavor of the Parmesan goes great with the sweetness of the pineapple and it creates a nice crispy top.  Back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted the way you like it.



Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes.  Remember the pans are extremely hot and will remain so for quite a while.  I forget this every time and I always grab one of the handles when I go to serve the dish.  Ouch.



Slice like a pie and enjoy.  Simple, economical, and delicious!   


Sunday Nov 18, 2007

Sunday Morning Frittatas

The perfect breakfast for a beautiful fall morning.  From the left Denver (minus shrooms), Portobello/Cheddar, Hawaiian.


Friday Sep 28, 2007

Hawaiian Meatloaf


Sam Choy is a world famous chef that specializes in flavors of the Hawaiian Islands.  In his book, Sam Choy's Island Flavors he has a recipe for a Hawaiian Meatloaf.  Recipezaar has published this recipe on its site (not sure if they are supposed to!).  Regardless, this is some pretty stellar loaf.

This recipe as written is pretty high in fat and carbs.  You can make it as is, or you can try my healthier version.  If you compare the two (or have read any of my past recipes), you'll see that I've about doubled the recipe and that I usually cook in large batches.  I do this for a couple of reasons:  1) I eat six meals a day for my fitness goals.  This helps me keep variety in my diet and allows high quality food to be available when I need it over the course of a few days.  This recipe would feed me for ten meals.  2) I have five kids.  If they happen to like what I make, that's a lot of mouths to feed!

Ingredients (Loaf)

  • 1 Large Maui Onion - Diced
  • 1 Cup of diced celery
  • 2 Lbs of 4% Fat Ground Beef
  • 2 Lbs of Ground Turkey Breast
  • 8 slices of Healthy Choice Turkey Ham
  • 1 Can (20 oz) of Crushed Pineapple in Juice (NOT SYRUP!)- Drained
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of minced ginger
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper - Eye ball it.  (Perhaps 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Salt, 1/2 pepper) 


Preheat oven to 350F

In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to combine all the ingredients except the ham.  This is messy, but fun.  Kids love this kind of stuff, at least mine do.  Just make sure you get everything mixed together well.

Pack 1/2 of the mixture in a Large Loaf Pan

Layer the ham slices over the meat loaf

Pack on the rest of the meatloaf mixture on top of the ham. 

Put in oven and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes (There's still more to do, keep reading!)

Ingredients (Glaze)

  • 2 Tbsp of Cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp of Water 
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Orange zest (a few scrapes)
  • 1/2 Cup of Sherry (because I couldn't find Mirin, and Sherry has less sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup of Water
  • 2 Tbsp of Equal Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tsp of minced ginger

Directions (Glaze)

Mix Cornstarch and 4 Tbsp of water in a small bowl and set aside

Mix all other ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Once boiling add the cornstarch water mixture.  Stir until thickened and remove from heat

Final Prep

After meatloaf has cooked, remove from oven (keep oven on) and drain off any fat from the pan.

Apply about 1/2 the glaze to the top of the meat loaf.

Put meatloaf back in oven for 15 minutes


Let meat loaf stand for at least 10 minutes.

Cut into slices and plate

Spoon on remaining glaze



Monday Sep 24, 2007

Chicken need not be boring


One of the things that I eat a lot of is chicken breasts.  The problem is they get boring.  Fast.

One of the things you can do with chicken breast is to make them into a roulade.  While a roulade can really be anything that you wrap around a filling of some sort (Hostess Ho Hos could be considered a roulade) typically they are some form of meat, usually poultry, wrapped around some tasty ingredients.  These can be very healthy, unhealthy, or somewhere in between.  If you are low carbing it, the following is right on target for you.  If you are watching the fat, skip the bacon or use a turkey bacon instead.


  • 8 Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Large tomatoes (or 6-8 Roma Tomatos) - Seeded and diced
  • 1/3 cup of diced shallots
  • 1 pound of bacon (cooked on the crispy side)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves (chopped) 
  • Garlic Salt


Preheat oven to 425 F 

Cook the bacon so that it on the crispy side.  Drain on paper towels

Sauté the shallots in the bacon fat until soft - remove and set aside (Don't clean the pan yet!)

Chop or crumble up all the bacon 

In mixing bowl, toss the diced tomatoes, basil, shallots, bacon, and Parmesan cheese.  Add in some garlic salt and set aside.

Place chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound thin with the smooth side of a meat pounder.  The thinner the better IMHO.  If you want them really thin, horizontally slice the chicken breast first.  Repeat for the rest of the breasts.

Lay the chicken breast bone side up and place a few tablespoons of filling in the center.  Rolled up the chicken breast and hold closed with toothpicks.  Repeat.  There will be a considerable amount of "filling" left over.  We'll use that later.

Season the roulades with salt (or garlic salt) 

Brown each side of the roulades in bacon fat (Yikes!  You can omit this step and just let them cook in the oven)

Place on cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove toothpicks and plate the roulades topping with the remaining filling.

Serve with a side of your favorite tomato or Alfredo sauce.

Total prep/cook time:  About 1:15


Sunday Sep 23, 2007

Chinese Beef Rolls

What to do with a flank steak?  I was in the mood for something Asian and Google led me here.  Of course I'm going change up the recipe just a bit, I hope you enjoy my adaptation. 

To be honest making the rolls is a bit of a pain, but they are oh so good.  The meat should really marinade for 24 hours, so you need to plan ahead.

Ingredients List


  • 1 large flank steak (get one with most the fat removed)


  • 1/3 Cup of Soy Sauce (I prefer dark)
  • 1 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp of minced ginger\* (or 1/4 cup grated ginger)
  • 2 tsp of crushed garlic\* ( or 3 cloves minced)
  • 1 Tbsp of Chili Garlic Sauce

\* Instead of crushing garlic and grating ginger, I buy the fresh pre-crushed/minced varieties you can find at your super market.  Just removes a little of the prep time.


  • 1/2 Cup of Toasted Sesame Seeds (I prefer to toast my own, but you can buy them pre-toasted)
  • 2 bunches of green onions, green part only.  Sliced in 1/2 the long way.
  • Hoisin Sauce


Combine all the marinade ingredients and whisk together.  Taste the sauce.  If it tastes like it needs more salt, add a bit more soy.  More kick, add a bit more chili garlic sauce or red pepper flakes.  Reserve a small amount (1/4 cup or so) for dipping sauce if desired (refrigerate).

Put flank steak in a 1 gallon zip lock bag and pour marinade over it.  Zip it, and toss it around to ensure good coverage.

Put in refrigerator and let marinate for 24 hours.  Toss the bag around a few times during this time to make sure all the meat is getting the marinade.

Cooking (Next Day)
  • Remove zip lock bag from refridgerator and let steak come to room temperature
  • Heat your grill up to high (about 600 or so degrees) - Broiler should also be fine if you lack a BBQ
  • Grill about 5 minutes on each side.  This will vary depending on the thickness of the flank steak you got.  To be sure use a meat thermometer and cook until medium rare (or to your liking)
  • Remove steak from grill.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then stick the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes to let it firm up.


With a sharp knife (dull knife, dull chef) slice the flank steak at an angle, against the grain about 1/4" thick.

(Depending on how tapered your flank steak is, the end pieces will probably be too short to use.  Consider them a treat for the cook!)

Your slices should look like this:


Smear hoisin sauce on the strip of beef


Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Use the hand that you didn't use to smear on the hoisin sauce, otherwise the seeds will just be all stuck to your finger.

Place two of the green onion strips on lengthwise.  (After viewing these pictures, it would be a lot easier to roll the meat by making the onions shorter and placing the other direction.  You just won't get the coverage throughout the roll)

Starting at the end and carefully holding the green onions in place, roll up the steak.  Hold together with a toothpick.


Repeat until done. 

Serve with reserved marinade for dipping and an ice cold Tsingtao.


My name is Craig Bender aka ThinGuy. I'm a Principal Software Developer for Oracle's Virtual Desktop Engineering group.

I architect and evangelize the use of Oracle's Desktop technology including Sun Ray, Secure Global Desktop, and Oracle VDI.


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