Carne Asada

Ample Bites uses Hawaiian hot sauces made by Adoboloco in a Carne Asada marinade. The combination of the hot sauces, the acidic vegetable and lime juice do a tremendous job of flavoring and tenderizing the flank steak. The result is a juicy and flavorful ingredient for tacos, burritos or tortas.

Carne Asada
(Mark Kelly)

Serves 8

1 ½ pound flank steak
3 large limes, halved and juiced
4 Tbsp Adoboloco Jalapeno Hot Sauce
2 Tbsp Adoboloco Bankok Thai Hot Sauce
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes including juice
1 large red onion coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the steak in a large bowl and top it with the lime juice, hot sauces, peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Mix the marinade and distribute it evenly under and over the steak. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Heat grill to high.

Remove the steak from the bowl and discard the marinade. Pat the steak dry. Brush the steak with a light coating of oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the steak for 5 to 7 minutes before turning once. Continue to grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the steak from the grill and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice the steak thinly and on a bias.

Serve the steak on a tortilla with refried beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, queso fresco and pickled red onions.

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Sweet Chile Orange Salmon

This dish is a spicy sweet adaptation of the classic brown sugar glazed salmon. Serve the salmon with rice or couscous and some sauteed spinach for a rich and healthy meal.

Sweet Chile Orange Salmon
(Mark Kelly 2012)

Serves 2

1 pound salmon fillet
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp chili garlic paste
1 ½ ounce Triple Sec liquor
Zest and juice of one Orange

Heat grill to medium-high.

In a saucepan, bring the brown sugar, chili sauce, garlic chili paste, liquor, zest and orange juice to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. Cool to room temperature.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the salmon skin side down on the foil. Ladle the sauce over the salmon covering all of the flesh.

Place the foil boat with the salmon on the grill and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the cooked through. Allow the fish to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, slice pieces into 2 to 3-inch thick sections and cover with the sauce.

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Garlic Fries with Parmesan and Parsley

These homemade baked Garlic Fries with Parmesan and Parsley are a perfect side dish for burgers, steak, and lamb chops. You can find a picture of these beauties in Ample Bites’s earlier post Green Chile Turkey Cheeseburgers.

Garlic Fries with Parmesan and Parsley
(Mark Kelly)

Serves 4

4 large baking potatoes, cut into ¼-inch by ¼-inch sticks
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Pat potato sticks dry with paper towel. In a large metal bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil until thoroughly coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the potatoes evenly on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for a total of 45 minutes, turning the potatoes once halfway through.

In a large skillet, melt the butter with the remaining olive oil until the butter foams. Toss the potatoes in the butter-oil mixture with the parsley and cheese until the cheese has melted and the potatoes are coated. Season again with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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Green Chile Burgers – A Southwest US Treat

Rather than top your next burger with the usual condiments, such as mustard, catsup, steak sauce, try a little Southwestern American specialty Green Chile Sauce. This spicy-sweet sauce has a vinegary bite to it which goes perfect with a juicy burger. A perfect side dish to accompany the Green Chile Turkey Cheeseburgers is my Garlic Fries with Parmesan and Parsley.

Green Chile Turkey Cheeseburgers
(Mark Kelly)

Serves 8

1 ½ pounds lean and extra lean ground turkey
2 large eggs, yolk only
8 whole wheat hamburger buns, lightly grilled
8 slices Colby-jack cheese
2 large poblano peppers, halved, seeded, roasted and skinned
4 large jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded, roasted and skinned
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional to drizzle
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat grill to medium-high.

In a bowl, combine the ground turkey and egg yolks and gently fold the egg into the meat without over-compressing the meat. Form the meat mixture into eight equal-sized patties and place them on a baking sheet. With your thumb punch a hole in the center of each patty. This hole will fill when the burgers are cooked through. Drizzle the patties with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the roasted and skinned peppers, vinegar, honey, and 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pulse until the mixture becomes a thick, chunky paste.

Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, turn and grill for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through. During the last 2 minutes of grilling place a cheese slice on each burger to melt.

Place a cheeseburger patty on each grilled bun and top each burger with a large spoonful of the Green Chile Sauce. Serve immediately.

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Crispy Eggplant and Tomato Salad

The combination of crisp eggplant with traditional salad ingredients and a rich dressing make this salad a favorite in the Ample Bites household.

Crispy Eggplant and Tomato Salad
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Kay Stepkin of Tribune Newspapers)

Serves 4

1 medium-large eggplant, unpeeled, sliced into ½-inch thick rounds
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced ¼ to ½-inch thick
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
½ cup flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup fat-free milk
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, divided
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 small shallot minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp salt
Lettuce such as arugula, Romaine or Boston Bibb

Heat oven to 400F. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt; let drain on a rack set over a cookie sheet, 30 minutes. Blot dry removing some of the salt.

Meanwhile, measure breadcrumbs and flour into separate plates; season each with ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper. Mix 1 tablespoon of the mustard into the milk in a shallow bowl. . Press each eggplant slice on both sides into the flour, shake off excess flour, dip each side in the milk mixture and finally into the breadcrumbs. Place coated slices on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the salad, whisk together olive oil, vinegars, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste. Layer the vegetables on each diner’s plate: first the largest eggplant slice, then a tomato slice, a drizzle of the dressing, a piece or two of the lettuce, another slice of eggplant, another tomato slice, another drizzle of dressing, another piece of lettuce and then top the stack with a third eggplant slice. Drizzle the top of the stack with dressing and serve.

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Homemade Tomato Sauce

When life gives you tomatoes, make tomato sauce.

The Ample Bites Vegetable Farm has produced an abundance of Roma tomatoes and Sandy, the proprietor of “The Farm”, has developed an outstanding recipe for Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce. It is so good that it can be used as a pasta sauce without any further embellishment.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce
(Sandy Kelly)

Makes about 1 Quart

3 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1 handful fresh basil leaves
2 tsp Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the tomatoes in half through their equators and squeeze out the seeds.

In a large roasting pan or Dutch oven combine all of the ingredients. Stir to blend then transfer to the oven and bake for about 90 minutes or until the juices of the tomatoes release and begin to get syrupy and the tomatoes begin to caramelize. Check the tomatoes every 15 minutes after the first 30 minutes to make sure they don’t burn.

Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature. In batches, spoon the tomatoes into a food mill and work them through the mill into a large bowl.

Pour the tomato sauce into a quart jar and use the same day or store in a refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a year.

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Shrimp and Polenta

Shrimp and Polenta seem to be a natural combination. This dish is a staple of Italian menus and it occurs in the American South in an iteration known as Shrimp and Grits. Ample Bites make a version that incorporates elements of the traditional Italian version and along with Creole seasoning. Enjoy!

Grilled Shrimp with Polenta
(Mark Kelly)

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
2 Tbsp Creole seasoning such as Emeril’s Essence
3 bell peppers, preferably one each of red, orange and yellow for color, quartered and seeded
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
3 cups milk
¼ cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Broil the peppers until the skins are black. Place charred peppers in a large zip-top plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes. After the peppers have chilled, remove the blackened skins and slice the peppers lengthwise into ¼-inch strips

Heat grill to medium-high.

In a heavy medium-sized skillet over medium heat, drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil and add one tablespoon of butter. When butter is melted, add the onion and soften it for 2 to 3 minutes then add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they release their liquid, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Before serving, add the white wine and the sliced peppers and simmer for 3 minutes or until the peppers are warm.

Skewer shrimp. Drizzle the shrimp with a light coating of olive oil and season both sides with the Creole seasoning. Grill the shrimp for a total of 4 minutes, turning once halfway through. The shrimp will be done when they are pink.

In a large skillet, bring the milk and 1 tablespoon of butter to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, stirring constantly until it has thickened and in the last minute add the Parmesan cheese.

To serve, place the creamy polenta on a plate, top it with 4 to 8 shrimp and ladle on the mushroom and pepper mixture along with some of the wine sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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Herb Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This simple little recipe is something that my wife found and asked that I try. It is, as we say in the Ample Bites household, a “keeper”. Herb Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken Breasts is a basic recipe that takes less than an hour to prepare, including the white wine sauce just before serving.

Herb Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of

Serves 4

½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, pasted
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
3 large basil leaves, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
4 small pieces skinless, boneless chicken breast, pounded flat
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
4 thin slices prosciutto
¼ cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a bowl, season ricotta with salt and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, basil and thyme. Place ¼ of the ricotta cheese mixture on each chicken piece and fold the meat over. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap each piece with prosciutto.

Heat an ovenproof skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the chicken bundles and brown over medium-high heat, turning once for 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to oven to cook for another 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Swirl in the butter. Spoon the sauce over the chicken to serve.

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Very Good and Inexpensive Red Wines

How often have you agonized over selecting a wine for a special dinner you are making? Are you at a loss for a wine selection for a party gift? Most people worry about these things. The natural solutions are to a) buy a more expensive wine, so as to make a good impression, b) pick a “reserve” wine from a familiar name (for example: Mondavi, Jacob’s Creek, Fetzer), or c) pick a wine based on the design of the label.

Ample Bites is pleased to introduce you to two proven selections that are relatively inexpensive but bold red wine.

The first selection is a wine that we found during a trip to Florence, Italy. While we tasted amazing wines in the nearby vineyards of Tuscany, and I might add loved them all, we found this in a local wine and spirits store near our hotel. We have since found the Santa Christina 2010 Toscana at Binny’s Beverage Depot and at liquor stores in South Carolina and St. Pete Beach, Florida. The price is normally $8 – 10 for a 750ml bottle. The taste profile resembles the better Chianti Classico wines of Italy.

We found the second selection by experimenting with some of the Spanish offerings at our local Binny’s. Rioja produces the Montecillo 2007 Crianza. This bold, tannic red wine usually costs $9 – 12. We have not found it in as many stores as the Santa Christina. This wine is a favorite of our around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we are hosting large, sit-down, dinner parties. The taste profile of Crianza holds up well to most rich holiday entrees like beef rib roast, roast turkey, and ham.

Ample Bites hopes you enjoy these wines and we look forward to hearing your recommendation of reds, and whites, that you have enjoyed. Cheers!

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Grilled Eggplant Salad

This fresh, light grilled salad is a perfect match for almost any entree.

Grilled Eggplant Salad
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine, September 2012)

Serves 4

2 small eggplants
2 small red onions
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon to drizzle
1 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup pickled hot cherry peppers, sliced

Slice eggplant lengthwise into ½-inch-thick planks and cut the onion into 1-inch wedges. Toss with 1 ½ tablespoons of oil and season with salt. Grill over medium-high heat until charred and tender, turning once, 6 minutes.

Toss with 1 ½ tablespoons each of red wine vinegar and olive oil, parsley and the cherry peppers. Season with salt to taste before serving.

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