Watermelon, Feta and Jalapeno Salad

Watermelon, Feta and Jalapeno Salad is spicy, sweet dish that goes perfect with smoky barbecued ribs or brisket.


Watermelon, Feta and Jalapeno Salad
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Saveur.com, 2015)

Serves 8 to 10

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tsp honey
4 large shallots, (2 roughly chopped, 2 thinly sliced)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 Tbsp canola oil
1 large watermelon, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
3 green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

Puree the fish sauce, lime juice, honey, chopped shallot, and garlic in a food processor until smooth Add the oil and pulse until emulsified.

Toss the dressing with the watermelon, feta, tomatoes, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Transfer to a large serving platter and top with the sliced shallots, herbs and green onion slices.

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Smoked Brisket with Coffee-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

It is the 4th of July so it is ample time for Ample Bites do another Smoked Brisket recipe. This time it is Smoked Brisket with Coffee-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce. The sauce is so easy to prepare and the brisket gets hours of smoking and slow cooking love after sitting in the refrigerator with a hearty, spicy rub on it for a couple of days.




Smoked Brisket with Coffee-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

Serves 8 – 12

For the rub:
3 Tbsp chile powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp celery seed
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp ground coriander seed
1 Tbsp ground mustard seed
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 (4- to 5-pound) beef briskets with 1/4-inch fat layer
2 cups apple juice, in a spray bottle

For the barbecue sauce:

3 cups ketchup
1 1/3 cups balsamic vinegar
1 1/3 cups honey
3/4 cup lower sodium soy sauce
4 Starbuck Dark Roast Via packets
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced

Thoroughly mix the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Place the first brisket fat side down on a plastic wrap-lined rimmed baking sheet. Rub the exposed side of the brisket with a quarter of the rub mixture. Flip the brisket over and season the fat side with a quarter of the rub. Repeat with the second brisket. Stack one on top of the other and wrap completely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one day and up to five days before smoking.

To make the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined. Bring to a bubbling boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 1o minutes, stirring occasionally.

Prepare a large foil packet of thoroughly soaked cherry wood chips. Pierce the packet in several places to allow the wood smoke to escape. Heat the grill to between 225 and 250 degrees using one of the side burners only of your gas grill. Place the wood chip packet over the active burner. Place a large drip pan filled with 2 cups water and one lager beer on the side away from the active burner. Close and allow the smoke to build for 10 minutes. Place the briskets on the cooking grate above the drip pan. Cover and smoke, spraying the brisket every 30 minutes with the apple juice until the brisket is tender and reaches 165F, about 6 hours. Moisten the wood chips as necessary.

Preheat oven to 225F. Place the briskets in a large foil pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for an additional 2 to 3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 185F. Remove and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving. Reserve juices.

Warm the barbecue sauce. Slice and serve with the sauce and reserved juices.

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Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna with Asian Dipping Sauce

Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna with Asian Dipping Sauce and Wasabi Sour Cream combines three of Ample Bites’ favorite elements into a delightful entree.


Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna with Asian Dipping Sauce
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Serves 4

2 pound Ahi tuna loin, sliced 1-inch thick
1 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 Tbsp wasabi paste
1 tsp Sriracha

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup sake
3 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

Marinate the tuna in the following six ingredients for 30 minutes before cooking.

Combine the dipping sauce ingredients and let stand at room temperature while the tuna marinates. Also whisk the wasabi paste and Sriracha into the sour cream. Refrigerate until serving.

Heat a flat cast iron cooking plate over medium-high heat on a grill or two burners of a gas cooktop. Sear the tuna for about 1 minute per side for medium rare. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce and Wasabi Sour Cream.

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Asian Lamb Chops

Asian Lamb Chops uses a marinade that is very different than the typical olive oil, garlic, rosemary, lemon version. The fish sauce and soy sauce combined with lime juice, honey and a touch of bourbon create a different flavor profile and super-tender chops.


Asian Lamb Chops
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Serves 4

12 bone-in lamb chops, about 1 1/2″ thick
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup bourbon
3 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp fresh lime juice

Put the marinade ingredients in medium bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Place the chops in a large ziptop plastic bag and pour the marinade over the chops. Squeeze out as much air as possible and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.

Take the lamb chops out at least an hour before grilling. Remove them from the marinade and allow them to come up to room temperature before grilling.

Heat grill for medium-high direct cooking. Grill the chops for 3 minutes per side to sear them. Turn off the middle burner and cook indirectly for another 4 minutes to medium-rare. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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Beer-Glazed Carrots

Beer-Glazed Carrots is a variation on a recipe my wife has made for year using wine. This version is less healthy (3 tablespoons of butter) than her version but it is a pretty darned tasty side dish to serve with grilled chicken or pork chops.



Beer-Glazed Carrots
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Chicago Tribune, May 2015)

1 lb. carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch sections
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
Sea salt
1 cup beer, preferably a German lager or Stella Artois
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh chives to garnish

In saucepan large enough to hold all of the carrots in a single layer, melt butter over medium heat. Add the carrots and season with salt. Cook the carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring to coat them with butter. Add the beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the carrots and continue to reduce the glaze for another 5 minutes. Add the carrots back to the glaze. Toss to coat and serve immediately with chive garnish.

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Cheddar Crostini with Broccolini Relish

Cheddar Crostini with Broccolini Relish is an appetizer with a salty, vinegary flavor that derives from the malt vinegar and fish sauce. Kale, spinach or arugula can be substituted for the broccolini.


Cheddar Crostini with Broccolini Relish
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

2 Tbsp canola oil, plus more for brushing
2 bunches of broccolini, stems trimmed
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
2 Tbsp malt vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
16 3/8″ thick by 2-inch square slices of rustic white bread
1/2 lb. finely grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.

Prepare the crostini brushing both sides of each bread slice with oil. Bake for 7 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the broccolini and onions on oil until the onions are softened the broccolini is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and fish sauce and cook for another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Switch over to broil and set a rack 4″ below the heating element.

Top each bread slice with cheese and bake until cheese is just melted. Top each cheese crostini with broccolini-onion relish. Broil until the relish is beginning to brown and the cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately.

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Green Beans and Avocado with Sesame-Soy-Ginger Drizzle

Green Beans and Avocado with Sesame-Soy-Ginger Drizzle is a terrific side salad with an Asian flair.


Green Beans and Avocado with Sesame-Soy-Ginger Drizzle
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and steamed
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced and sauteed
1/2 large avocado, sliced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of a medium lime
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 green onions, chopped, including greens

Arrange the vegetables in a serving bowl.

Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, sugar and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle in the oils, whisking constantly to help the dressing emulsify. Add the green onions and cilantro. Allow to sit for an hour at room temperature.

Drizzle over the vegetables and serve immediately.

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Vinegar-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Buttered Greens and Radishes

Vinegar-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Buttered Greens and Radishes is an easy-to-prepare dish that features chicken that has briefly been marinated in white vinegar to help the lean chicken proteins stay juicy and add a slight hint of tanginess. The radishes, which are a bit bitter and peppery when eaten raw, are sweet and mellow when sauteed. Serve this dish with a side of mashed cauliflower and you have one healthy and flavorful dinner.


Vinegar-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Buttered Greens and Radishes
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of BonAppetit.com, May 2015)

Makes 4 servings

2 lb. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
8 radishes, quartered
1 bunch, Swiss chard, stemmed and shredded
4 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped, divided

Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a large baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup vinegar over chicken and let stand for 15 – 20 minutes. Turning several times during that time. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Reserve baking dish (no need to wipe it out before baking).

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium. Working in batches, sear chicken, skin side down, until skin is golden brown and crisp, 8-10 minutes; turn and cook until other side is just browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to reserved baking dish; reserve Dutch oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 165F, 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat butter in same Dutch oven over medium-high. Add radishes, season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally, until radishes are browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp oregano and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar; toss to combine.

Serve greens and radishes with chicken topped with remaining oregano.

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Crab-Salad-Stuffed Baked Avocados

Crab-Salad-Stuffed Baked Avocados are a decadent appetizer treat. Baking the avocados makes them extra-creamy.


Crab-Salad-Stuffed Baked Avocados
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes 4 Appetizer Servings

2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
8 oz. crabmeat, rinsed
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1/4 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 large shallot, finely diced
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small skillet over medium heat, saute the peppers and shallots for about 2 minutes, until softened. Place the vegetables in a medium bowl with the crabmeat, cream cheese and half the cheddar cheese. Fold the ingredients together. Season the mixture with the Old Bay, salt and pepper and continue to fold. Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place a quarter of the crab mixture on each of the avocado halves and top each with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately with a couple of dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

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Sweet Potato Skins with Sriracha Sour Cream

Sweet Potato Skins with Sriracha Sour Cream are a little twist on the classic potato skins that uses Idaho russets.


Sweet Potato Skins with Sriracha Sour Cream
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of LouisianaCookin.com)

Makes 12 side dish servings or 36 appetizer servings

6 medium sweet potatoes, washed and dried
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked to crispy and diced to 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped green onion, green parts only
2/3 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

In a small bowl, mix sour cream and Sriracha sauce and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.

Preheat oven to 475F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Microwave sweet potatoes on high until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise; scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Reserve flesh for another use, if desired.

Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet, skin side up. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes; turn and spray with cooking spray. Bake until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes more.

In a small bowl, mix together bacon, green onion, and cheese. Sprinkle the mixture inside the skins. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. For appetizer servings cut each skin into thirds. Serve immediately with Sriracha Sour Cream.

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