Friday, May 31, 2013

Jambalaya (Slow Cooker)

Jambalaya (Slow Cooker)
(4 to 6-servings)


2 cups Cooked Ham, ½ inch dice
2 medium Yellow Onions, ½ inch dice
2 stalks Celery, sliced
½ Green Pepper, seeded & ½ inch dice
1 (28 oz.) can Whole Tomatoes
¼ cup Tomato Paste
1 cup Uncooked Long-Grain Rice
2 tbsp. Canola Oil
3 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Dry Parsley
½ tsp. Dried Thyme Leaves
2 Whole Cloves
1 lb. (40 to 50 count size) Raw Shrimp, thawed


In the slow cooker, combine all the ingredients except the shrimp. Be sure to break up the tomatoes a little as you do it. Cove the slow cooker and cook 8 to 10 hours on low. One hour before serving, turn slow cooker up to high. Add shrimp and stir into the mixture. Cover again and cook until shrimp are pink and tender, then serve.

Note: If you use larger shrimp, be sure to cut them into several pieces to be more bite sized.

Note: You can use already cooked shrimp is needed. Just to sure they are thawed and only let them heat through before serving.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Thursday, May 30, 2013

BBQ Shredded Beef (Slow Cooker)

BBQ Shredded Beef (Slow Cooker)


3 lb. Boneless Chuck Roast
1 ½ cup Ketchup
¼ cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
¼ tsp. Garlic Powder
12 hamburger buns


Place the roast in the slow cooker. Now combine the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl and pour over the roast. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Remove roast from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the meat and then return to the slow cooker. Mix the meat to coat well with the sauce before serving on the buns.

Note: You can use other types of buns or bread for these sandwiches. Also serve with your favorite condiments.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chicken a la Orange (Slow Cooker)

Chicken a la Orange (Slow Cooker)


6 (4 to 6 oz.) Boneless-skinless Chicken Breasts
1 cup minus 1 tbsp. All Purpose Flour, divided
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Garlic Powder
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
3 large Sweet Potatoes, peeled & cut into ¼ inch slices
1 (10 ½ oz) can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 (4 oz.) can Sliced Mushrooms, drained
½ cup Orange Juice (fresh if possible)
2 tsp. Brown Sugar
½ tsp. Fresh Orange Zest
4 cups Cooked Rice (hot)


Combine 2/3 cup of flour with salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic powder and pepper in a large bowl. Rinse chicken and pat dry before coating it in the flour mixture. Place the sliced sweet potatoes in the bottom of slow cooker and top with the chicken breasts. In another medium sized bowl combine the 3 tbsp. of flour, soup, mushrooms, orange juice, brown sugar and zest. Pour this mixture over the chicken, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve the chicken mixture over the hot rice.

Note: It is best to grate the nutmeg yourself. There is a definite difference in taste to the already ground product you can buy.

Note: You could also use boneless-skinless chicken thighs in place of the breasts for this dish.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) use for Summertime

A "Slow Cooker" also called a "Crock Pot" is a very useful piece of kitchen equipment.  Back in 2011 I talked about them a little.  It was mostly about size, price and their basic function.  Today I'd like to go into a little more detail on them.

Someone has been hiding the good stuff from me!
First, however, I have to show a photo of my blog assistant at her "1st birthday" party.  My granddaughter had her first experience with sugar that day.  She discovered that it tastes great.  It also did not put on the "sugar high" that many had thought would happen.  She had a good time opening gifts and had one of the best night's sleep ever.  Her parents were thrilled with that.  I guess that was her present to them.  Now that she is a year old, I plan to have "ice cream" with her every Monday morning for breakfast.  It's so nice being a grandparent and not the parent with such a cutie.  I told her that the ice cream was part of her "benefit package" with the blog.  She's as excited as grandpa!

Slow cookers have been around for 40 years give or take a few.  It first they were mostly called "Crock Pots" and then (I believe) in the nineties the word "Slow Cooker" became more popular or politically correct.  You can cook almost anything in them including some breads.  I've not tried that yet (breads) myself.

Slow cookers work on two settings, high and low.  The high setting is about 300 degrees and the low operates around the 200 degree mark.  The low setting takes from 2 to 2 1/2 times the cooking time than the  high setting.  That is why you will see most slow cooker recipes showing 4 to 5 hours on high and 8 to 10 hours on low for the same recipe.

These time ranges for both low and high settings is directly related to size of ingredients, temperature of ingredients, how full the pot is and even attitude.  It is always best to taste your dish when it is suppose to be done.  You can then adjust the time and/or seasoning before serving.  Most slow cookers now have a holding cycle so that after your set time is up, it will keep it warm and safe for an additional time.  Usually a couple of hours depending on model.

A few benefits of using a slow cooker are;  saves energy, cuts down on kitchen mess (less dishes), doesn't require constant attention, keeps kitchen cooler (great for summer-time) because stove/oven isn't needed, helps keep foods from burning and puts dinner on the table much faster after a hard day.

A big point to remember is the lid.  Because you don't have to be stirring the dish, you don't have to be removing the lid.  The lid keeps the heat in and that is very important with slow cooking.  If you take the lid off the slow cooker, it requires a lot of time to get that temperature back.  That changes your cooking time and adds more to it.  So only take the lid off when it is needed.

You also want to make sure your slow cooker has a removable crock.  It makes clean up so much easier.  That crock is somewhat non-stick but it is advisable to use a pan spray before loading in the ingredients of the recipe.

This brings me to something that I need to point out to everyone.  The original purpose of a slow cooker was to make a meal simple and convenient.  You just throw the ingredients in the slow cooker and walk away.  Hours later you enjoy a terrific meal.  Many recipes are that way (including the 3 I have for you this week) but some now require you to do some cooking ahead of putting the ingredients in the slow cooker.

Most of this is to give the protein a better look.  These recipes require you to brown the meat before continuing to the slow cooker.  These recipes are great but they take away from the biggest reason you use a slow cooker - less cooking involvement for you.  It still does require less time in the kitchen for you but it does make you have to plan your time a little better in the morning.  I usually try to save these recipes for the weekend or other days off.

Another reason for using a slow cooker, it can save you on your grocery bill.  Because you are cooking over a longer period of time, you want to use the less expensive cuts of meat.  They become so tender cooking in a slow cooker.  Your better cuts of meat are not meant to be used in a slow cooker, so don't.  Save those cuts for the grill.

This week I have 3 recipes for you to try.  The  first is "Chicken a la Orange" and it is served over rice which is cooked separately.  The second one is "BBQ Shredded Beef" and makes a great picnic dish.  The last one is for "Jambalaya" and you can spice it up if that fits your taste style.

So get your slow cooker out and use it during the summer.  After all, it is a year-round piece of cooking equipment.  "Happy Cooking!"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Celery Seed Cole Slaw

Celery Seed Cole Slaw
(12-16 servings)


3 lb. Green Cabbage, shredded
½ cup Carrot, finely shredded
½ cup Green Pepper, small dice
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Celery Seed


In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot and pepper and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and celery seed. Bring this mixture to a boil and then pour over the mixture. Toss to combine well and then refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Toss again just before serving.

Note: You can always add other ingredients to make this slaw your own. Change the color of the pepper, use 2 different colors, add onion or raisins to make it meet your taste style.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Old Style Potato Salad

Old Style Potato Salad
(16-18 servings)


5 lb. Red Potatoes, cooked, cooled & medium dice
1 cup Sugar
1 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black Pepper
½ tsp. Dry Mustard
¾ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ cup Water
3 large Fresh Eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups Sour Cream
1 cup Green Onions, thinly sliced


Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender, cool and then dice (peeled or unpeeled-your option). Refrigerate potatoes until ready to assemble. In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, flour, salt, pepper and mustard. Now add the vinegar and water then bring to a boil. Stir while boiling for 2 minutes. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and then add a small amount of the sugar mixture to the eggs. Once combined add the egg mixture into the sugar mixture. Continue cooking mixture for about 2 more minutes or until it thickens. Refrigerate the mixture at least an hour to cool. Once cooled, stir in the sour cream and add to the bowl of diced potatoes with the sliced green onions. Cool the potato salad for 2 hours or overnight before serving.

Note: Yukon gold or even fingerling potatoes would also work well in this recipe.

Note: You could also add other ingredients like radishes, celery, pickle relish or any color of bell peppers to make your own creation. Just use your imagination.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Starts the Summer Season

I'm not even positive that spring is here yet, but it's "Memorial Day Weekend" this weekend.  That is the official start of the summer season.  A great 3-day weekend to kick it off.  So picnics are a big thing this weekend.  Since this blog has been going for sometime, there are plenty of recipes already for you to pick from in most of the recipe categories.

I'll list a few of them here.  You should just have to click on the recipe name to bring up the full recipe.  Burgers are always good at picnics so you might want to try one of these; Bleu Bacon Burger Mushroom & Swiss Stuffed Burger or Jalapeno Burgers.  They are 3 of my favorites from the blog.

If you need a salad or two, try one of these; Harvest Grains Salad (V) or the Mandarin Orange Pudding.

For a dessert, Fran’s Bars (V) is a great finger food.  With spring finally here, there should be some rhubarb coming up in the garden.  If there is some available, then try the Rhubarb Crunch (V).

A couple of sides you might want to try are Spicy Cream Corn (V) or Grilled Corn on the Cob (V).  It might be difficult to get good fresh ear corn at Memorial Day but remember it when the 4th of July rolls around.

But I have a couple of side dishes for you to try this year too.  They both are a little twist on the conventional picnic sides.  The first one is for "Old Style Potato Salad" and it's a little different because it uses eggs but they are not hard boiled ones.  The other is a recipe for "Celery Seed Cole Slaw" and the celery seed adds a nice wrinkle to the recipe.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and get out there on the grill or travel somewhere for a good old fashion family picnic.  "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Salad

Roasted Red Pepper Salad


4 large Red Peppers
2 tbsp. Capers, rinsed & drained
12 medium Pitted Black Olives
12 medium Pitted Green Olives
6 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, pressed
2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
to taste Salt & Black Pepper


Wash and dry peppers before placing over gas stove burner, outdoor grill or under broiler to blacken all the skin. Watch carefully and turn as needed until done. Place the peppers in a large bowl and cover with film to seal in moisture. Let the peppers sit like this for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the film and peel the peppers of all black and skin. Remove stem and seeds before slicing peppers into strips a half inch wide. Place the peppers in a medium sized bowl. Add the capers and olives to the bowl next. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste before combining with the pepper mixture. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes then toss well, divide among the 6 plates and serve.

Note: To add a little more color to this dish, you could use yellow and/or orange peppers with the red ones.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fennel & Orange Salad

Fennel & Orange Salad
(4 servings)


2 large Fennel Bulbs
2 large Oranges
2 Green Onions, sliced in 1 inch length (white & green parts)
4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
to taste Salt & Black Pepper


Wash the fennel and remove outer leaves. Slice bulbs in half from top to bottom. Lay cut side down and slice across bulbs to make thin pieces. Place in a medium sized bowl and start on oranges. Slice off top and bottoms. Then slice off the peel to expose the orange. Next cut out each orange segment over the bowl with the fennel dropping each segment into bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together. Season with the salt and pepper before combining with the fennel and orange segments. Portion the salad on to four plates, garnish with the sliced green onion and serve.

Note: If you like your food with a little kick, put a few red pepper flakes in the dressing before you whisk it.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Part Nine of Italian (Salads) Cooking

As I continue the "Italian Cooking" series, it is about time we pay a little attention to salads.  Italians are big on salads.  The Italian people love their vegetables, fruits and nuts.  They have created all types of salad dishes from them and added their favorite herbs and seasonings.  They also use many of their meats, poultry, fish/seafood and even breads to enhance the salads.  Not to mention their beloved cheeses.

When most people think of salads, they think of lettuce or other greens as the basis for them.  Their are many of this type in Italian cooking.  However, Italian food is probably one of the cuisines that offers so many other types of salads without leafy greens.

This week I picked two salads that help represent these non leafy greens types.  The first, "Fennel & Orange Salad," is a simple but flavorful salad that uses just 3 ingredients plus the dressing.  It uses an ingredient that many of you have never tasted and may not even be familiar with today.  It is "Fennel" and it has an aniseed (licorice) flavor to it.  It can be used raw or cooked.

If you haven't tried fennel before, please do.  There are many more recipes out there using this wonderful ingredient.  If you have read my cookbook (which contains much more than just recipes) or followed this food blog from the beginning, you know that I always suggest pushing your food boundaries   This would be a good one to try.

The second recipe this week is for a "Roasted Red Pepper Salad."  Again it is a simple recipe.  If you have never tried roasting peppers, here is your chance.  It  is not that difficult and the resulting flavor is amazing.  It is also much less expensive compared to buying jars of roasted peppers in the store.  This recipe only has 4 ingredients plus the dressing.  And actually both dressings only have a few ingredients too.

Now, both of  these recipes can be used with many different meals.  They don't have to be Italian either.

I still have 2 or 3 more segments of "Italian Cooking" yet to come.  I do hope that they have been helpful and  that you have tried many of the dishes.

I want to thank the many people that have commented on the new blog design/layout.  I am surprises that they have all been positive comments (but quite happy about it).  I'm sure there must be some negative reactions or even some other suggestions for me.  Please continue to respond to me with comments on the blog.

One of the best responses has been to the language translation tab.  I am very happy to have so many following this blog from around the world.  Thank you again.

Have a great week and "Happy Cooking." 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Italian Meatball Burgers

Italian Meatball Burgers


1 ½ lb. Ground Chuck (see note)
1 small Yellow Onion, grated
1/3 cup Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
1 large Fresh Egg
¼ cup Ketchup
4 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black Pepper
¾ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
4-6 Ciabatta Rolls, sliced
½ cup Marinara Sauce, warm
4-6 slices Mozzarella Cheese


In a large mixing bowl, combine and mix all the ingredients through the bread crumbs being sure not to over mix. Now form the mixture into 6 quarter pound round patties creating a dimple in the center. This helps Keep the patty flat during grilling. Grill over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until you reach the desired doneness for your taste. Grill the buns and spread bottoms with a tablespoon of marinara sauce. Top the burgers with the cheese slices during the final minute of grilling. Then place on top of sauced bottom bun, top with other half of bun and serve.

Note: I use 80/20 or 85/15 (meat to fat ratio) because they offer more flavor. You can use leaner meat or even ground turkey or chicken. You could also use Italian sausage or a mixture of ground chuck and the sausage. In the directions I show 6 portions. You can make 4 – 6 oz. Burgers too.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jalapeno Burgers

Jalapeno Burgers


1 ½ lb. Ground Chuck (see note)
3 each Fresh Green Onions (white & green), chopped
¼ cup Pickled Jalapeno Peppers, chopped (see note)
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
4-6 individual Hamburger Buns (or your favorite type of bun)
4-6 slices Pepper-jack Cheese (optional)
as needed Condiments


In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, peppers, garlic, Worcestershire, salt and black pepper. Now add the ground chuck and mix. Form into 6 quarter pound sized round patties creating a dimple in the center. This helps keep the patty flat during grilling. Grill over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until you reach the desired doneness for your tastes. Top with cheese (if using) and melt. Grill buns as the cheese is melting or burgers are finishing. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Note: I use 80/20 or 85/15 (meat to fat ratio) because they offer more flavor. You can use leaner meat or even ground turkey or chicken. In the directions I show 6 portions. You can make 4 – 6 oz. Burgers too.

Note: You can use fresh jalapeno peppers too. If you don't want much heat, try using chopped green chilies from a small can.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Redesigned Blog

For all of you that have been following my food blog, you'll notice that I've made some changes to the design.  As I start my 3rd year of the blog, I wanted to make some improvements and give it a new look.  You'll see that it is still "under construction" and I would like feedback from you.  Please let me know if you like the new look.  Is the blog more user friendly to you?  Are there other changes you would like to see?  I really am looking for your help.  I want the blog to be as helpful to you as possible.  Thank you in advance for your input on this matter and for your continued support of "Cabana Boy Cooks."

Many of the changes are self-evident but I want to point out a few.

First, because I have a good following from some other countries, I have a link in the upper left to translate the blog into many different languages.  I hope this is helpful all of you around this great world of ours.

Second, because I keep adding more recipes each week, I have broke out the recipes into each of the categories I've been using.  The one tab that was listing all the recipes was just getting too long for one to quickly find the recipe they wanted.  With the new design it should be much easier to find a recipe.

The recipes under each category are still in alphabetical order and a (V) will denote recipes that are vegetarian.  Please remember that many of these vegetarian recipes can easily become vegan (if not already) with simple changes.  That goes for many of the recipes that are not vegetarian too.  A few simple changes and they can become vegetarian.  So please check out all the recipes even if vegetarian or vegan are your lifestyles.  Remember, you're only limited by your imagination and taste-buds.

Third, I changed the background and color of the blog because I believe this is easier to see and read.  This is the area that I really want your feedback.  Does the look appeal to you?  Is it easier to read and follow?

There are other changes as you will notice, but the three mentioned were the biggest changes.  I will leave the blog "under construction" for a few more weeks.  There are some other changes I'm looking at in addition to what has already been done.

Enjoying the possibility of spring
I'm also hoping to start adding food photos starting in July or August.  My family will be moving into different living quarters during the month of June.  So I won't tackle the photo project until after we are settled.  There will also be more photos of my blog assistant as she continues to grow and give me her opinion on the recipes we test and post.  As of now, she surprises me almost daily with her lack of fear to try new foods.  The other day she was eating mixed vegetables.  She picked out all the peas first and I was thinking "she is just like grandpa" (I hate peas and pick them out so I don't eat them).  Then she ate all of them before eating any of the other vegetables.  I'm checking DNA now.  Can't believe she would do something like that to her grandpa.

This week I have a couple of burger recipes for you.  It looks like spring is maybe finally here (although we just had 9 inches of snow on May 2nd).  It was a new record for the most snow in May.  Seem that's all we did this year.  Trying to break weather records.  I'm still thinking spring and grilling.

So this week I have "Jalapeno Burgers" and "Italian Meatball Burgers" for you to try.  Sometimes plain old burgers get boring.  So here are two that add a little flavor and offer you a change up from the old usual.

Enjoy and "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice
(4-6 servings)


1 tbsp. Butter
2 cups Long Grain White Rice
1/3 cup Jalapeno Peppers, seeded & fine dice (see note)
1/3 cup Green Onion, white part, sliced (save green part for garnish)
1 clove Fresh Garlic, fine dice
1 tsp. Paprika
½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper (optional)
1 tsp. Cumin
½ tsp. Salt
2 ¼ cups Chicken Stock (see note)
½ cup Tomato Sauce


In a 2 to 3 quart sauce pan with tight fitting lid, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the rice and stir to coat evenly and saute for 2 minutes. Now add the jalapeno, onion and garlic while continuing to saute for another 2 minutes. Next add the spices (paprika, cayenne, cumin & salt) and incorporate well. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the chicken stock and tomato sauce to mixture. Stir well and bring to a slow boil. Cover the pan, turn heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes. When the time is up remove lid and fluff rice with a fork. Replace the lid, turn off the heat and set the timer for 9 minutes. Remove lid and fluff again with a fork. Taste the rice and adjust seasoning if needed before serving. Place in a nice serving dish and top with the sliced green part of the onions for garnish.

Note: You could use another type of rice if you wish. The time may have to be adjusted if you use brown rice. The reason behind the butter and sauteing the rice is to keep it from sticking together which happens many times with some Mexican rice dishes. So be sure to use the technique with any rice.

Note: If you don't like heat, use a bell pepper (color your choice) in the place of the jalapeno pepper. If you like more heat, leave the seeds in or use a hotter pepper.

Note: To make this dish a vegan/vegetarian one, just use a vegetable stock or water for the chicken stock ingredient.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa
(4 plus cups)


2 cups Fresh Mango, diced (see note)
1 cup Red Onion, diced
½ cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
½ cup Poblano Chilies, seeded & diced
2 small Serrano Peppers, seeded & diced
½ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. Fresh Orange Juice
2 tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
1 tbsp. Honey
1 tsp. Kosher Salt


Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Refrigerate the salsa for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Stir the mixture well before serving with your meal or snack.

Note: Mangoes are a somewhat difficult fruit. Pick one that should be at it's peak ripeness for this recipe. Remember they have a very hard core and you do not want this in your finished product. You can peel and slice off sections as you go around the fruit and then dice. This is best until you become more familiar with the mango.

Ideas for Future Efforts