Saturday, October 12, 2013

Marinated Tri-Tip Chunks

Yummy Marinated and Grilled Tri-Tip Chunks
The pic above is not one of my favorites, but don't let that deter you from trying this yummy marinade on tri-tip. It just has a nice herbed flavor, and if you don't suffer from hypertension and can use full-salt soy sauce, it will be even better.

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, who is married to my brother. I've had the pleasure of enjoying this recipe twice with them: the first time in Florida when my brother was retiring from the Air Force and the second time at their new home in New Mexico. Both times I raved about its deliciousness and asked for the recipe. My brother and his wife have four boys ages 12 and under, so, well, it took a little while for Heidi to get me the recipe. It was a nice surprise when it showed up in my email about a month ago, and since then I've made and loved it twice. It's fabulous and my whole family loves it. Tastes great leftover too.

So, if you're a fan of grilled beef, you really need to give this recipe a try. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

*Note: Heidi says you can adjust the amounts of each herb to your liking. She suggests starting with slightly smaller amounts of the dry ingredients you're not sure about and then smelling the mixture to see if it needs more of something. I just followed the basic recipe she sent and was very pleased with the results.

Marinated Tri-Tip Chunks
      Recipe from Heidi Wong


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (I used reduced sodium) 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil if you're out of olive oil) 
  • 1 heaping tablespoon garlic powder 
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder 
  • 2 teaspoon ground celery seed 
  • 2 teaspoon rosemary 
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage 
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed 
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 
  • 2-3 pounds tri-tip cut into 3-inch chunks 
In a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients except the meat together really well. Place meat chunks in a zip-top bag, add the marinade, zip the top, and gently squeeze around to evenly distribute the marinade over the meat. Place bag on a plate or in a glass pan and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.

Remove from refrigerator about an hour before you plan to grill. Heat grill on high to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place meat on hot grill, turn every 3-4 minutes, and check internal temperature with a meat thermometer when it's browned on all sides. When temperature reaches 145 degrees, remove to a heat-proof plate/dish. Allow meat to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza (there's pepperoni is under the sauce and cheese)

I think it's been decided that thin crust pizza is the way we mostly like to go in our house. There are several reasons, including, but not limited to my husband's preference, and my one son's need for gluten-free pizza. I forgot to start my thin crust dough last night, though, so I was forced to go with a one-day pizza crust. I've had a can of crushed tomatoes burning a hole on my basement shelf, so I thought I'd do a Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza. I loved it, but my husband felt there was too much crust. Fine by me. I ate my pizza and my husband's and my younger son's crust. Mmmm...
This recipe comes courtesy of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, one of my very favorite publications in the world. This pizza, as I said, is very crusty, very flavorful, and has a unique taste. It's worth it to make the sauce yourself, and it's really not all that difficult--just time consuming and pan dirtying. The laminating of the dough with the layer of butter makes the crust a bit flaky in spots and really just makes it special. It takes some time, though, so be sure to start making it by 4:00 for a 6:30/7:00 dinner time.

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza
    --adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Dough Ingredients:
  • 3 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried basil (depending on the tomatoes you buy)
  • 2 medium garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (If they have basil already in them, only add 1/2 teaspoon dried basil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4-6 ounces sliced pepperoni
  • 1/4 cup Italian mix shredded cheese (or grated Parmesan)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of standing mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast. Turn the mixer onto low and add the melted butter and the water. Turn to medium speed and knead on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and pulls away from sides of the bowl.
Coat a large bowl with the teaspoon of canola oil. Place dough in the bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

While dough rises, prepare the sauce.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Then add the grated onion, oregano and basil. Cook over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and onions turn golden. Add minced garlic, stir, and allow to cook for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until sauce is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.

When dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out roughly to a 15 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread the 4 tablespoons softened butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border along the long edge. Roll dough up like you're making cinnamon rolls. Flatten the log out to a 4 x 18 inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter. Place in the rising bowl again, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in the refrigerator for 40-50 minutes (I actually only allowed 15 minutes because I was in a hurry--the pizza turned out fine, as far as I'm concerned).

When dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface and roll out to a 14 to 15-inch circle (if you don't have a pan that big, you can cut the dough in half and make two circles that will fit into two cake pans.) Place the 3 tablespoons canola oil in the pan(s) and coat all over the bottom and up the sides of the pan with the oil. Place the dough in the pan(s) so that the dough is to the edge of the pan. Cover dough with pepperoni. Cover pepperoni with the cheese. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce over the cheese and then sprinkle with Italian cheese (or Parmesan).

Bake at 425 degrees on the bottom shelf for 20-30 minutes, or until edges of crust are well browned. Remove from the oven and run a spatula or knife around the edge to loosen pizza from the pan(s). Carefully remove pizza from the pan and cut into slices with a pizza cutter.

Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Qdoba's Tortilla Soup

Qdoba-ish chicken tortilla soup

I love Qdoba's tortilla soup, although I haven't had it in quite a while.  I wanted to make some soup on this rainy fall day, and tortilla soup sounded awesome. Surprisingly, Qdoba has posted this recipe on their Facebook page, so I didn't even have to go around trying "copycat" recipes. Now, it's been so long since I've had the soup there, I can't say whether this tastes like it or not. I'll have to go there soon to see, but this soup was delicious nonetheless. Spicy, warm, vegetabley, and satisfying. A great tortilla soup.
*Update 8/11/19: I had the real Qdoba soup yesterday at the Atlanta Airport (concourse E), and it was so delightful that I tried to make this soup today. I used the tomatoes our neighbor dropped off, and I think it made the soup taste not quite right. Still good, but not what I was going for. I'll have to make it again soon. I have changed the recipe below to reflect what I think makes it more like the original. Still guessing a bit, though.

Oh, and the FB post seems to have been removed since I first wrote this post.

Qdoba's Tortilla Soup
     --adapted from Qdoba's Facebook Page


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • ½ cup red onion, minced 
  • ½ cup poblano pepper, diced into 1/4” pieces 
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I recommend not using reduced sodium)
  • 4 corn tortillas 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced 
  • 2 teaspoon jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed (leave those in for spicier soup)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder 
  • 2 cups fire roasted tomatoes, diced (use the ones in a can)
  • ½ cup tomatoes, crushed 
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup grated jack cheese (optional)
  • crushed tortilla chips (optional)
In a 2 quart sauce pot over medium heat add oil, onions, and poblanos and cook for 5 minutes.
Add garlic, jalapeno, cumin and chili powder and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
In blender, place broth and tortillas, and puree until just about smooth.
Add tortilla-broth mixture to pot along with fire roasted tomatoes and crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil.
Add shredded chicken and reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes on medium-low heat.
Season to taste and serve with cheese and jack cheese for garnish (Qdoba's original recipe on Facebook has several suggestions for garnishes that I will need to try).
Makes 6 cups

My delicious Qdoba soup at the Atlanta Airport

Brownies (in Nordic Ware Honeycomb Cake Pan)

Honeycomb Pan Brownies
Next time I'll use cocoa and flour mixed to dust the pan.
Hmmm... This brownie is from the same batch, but taken during
a different photo shoot. Different time of day, different plating...
I got this cute new honeycomb cake pan for my birthday last week, and I decided to break it in with some brownies. It came with a recipe for a honey glazed cake, but since I'm not much of a honey fan, I went for chocolate. I usually use Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate when I make brownies, but the price of that product is forcing me to use regular cocoa and sugar. Of course, I've used it as an excuse to purchase some Penzey's Dutch cocoa powder, which in the end may be as or more expensive, but this is what I do. I rationalize. 
At any rate, I think the brownies turned out great tasting AND very cute. After I turned them out onto the cookie sheet and saw the cute little bees and honeycomb, I of course had to take it a step further and add a bit of chocolate ganache on top. What I've ended up with is actually more of a dense deep dark chocolate cake, which is just fine by me. 
If you don't have the cute pan that you need to turn out in order to see the design, skip the flipping it over step at the end, and just use a spatula to get them out of the pan. You wouldn't think I'd have to actually write that out, but for people who don't bake much, I like to be as explicit as possible. At least I try.

Brownies (in a cute pan)

  • 4 eggs @ room temp. 
  • 1 cup sugar (there's more sugar below too)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup butter, melted & cooled 
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Ganache Topping:
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, chopped
Prepare cute pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray and then dusting thoroughly with flour or a flour/cocoa mix (I should have done the mix, but did only flour and that's why there are whitish looking bits on my finished brownies). If you don't have the cute pan, use a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a spoon, stir eggs with 1 cup sugar and vanilla. Add melted butter. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt with a whisk. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Spread evenly into a prepared pan. If you're adding nuts to half or all of the pan, sprinkle those over the batter and gently press. Bake 30-34 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean. Allow brownies to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Place a cookie sheet over the top of the pan and with oven-mitted hands, carefully flip the pan over so that the brownie pan is on top and the cookie sheet is on the bottom. Gently tap the bottom of the brownie pan and then carefully remove the pan. Allow brownies to cool completely.

Makes 19-ish servings.

Nordic Ware Honeycomb cake pan from Williams Sonoma

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