Blackened Red Snapper

Blackened Red Snapper
Blackened Red Snapper

Dizzy Pig is back at it again adding to  their “-ish” rubs with the new release Bayouish. Once again, they’ve sent me a sample before they release it to try out. I honestly don’t know why they choose to include me on their little list of people who get to sample it first, but I am glad they did.

Dizzy Pig's new Bayouish
Dizzy Pig’s new Bayouish

Along with a small sample, they sent a little note.

Note
Note

Enough of all that. Time to get cooking.

Ingredients

  • about a pound of fish fillets, red snapper, red fish, catfish or trout (or even chicken or steak)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • Dizzy Pig’s Bayouish Seasoning (or other blackened seasoning)
  • lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
Snapper going into a screaming hot cast iron skillet on the grill
Snapper going into a screaming hot cast iron skillet on the grill

Directions

  1. Preheat your grill to hot. We had the Big Green Egg going steady at 650F. Allow your cast iron skillet to come up to heat with your grill.
  2. Brush both sides of your fish with melted butter and apply Bayouish liberally. Reserve remaining butter.
  3. After allowing your skillet to get “screaming” hot, carefully pour in a tbsp or so of butter and put the fish flesh side down.
  4. After two minutes, flip the fish and pour in another tbsp of butter and drizzle some on top of the fish. Cook for another two minutes or until fish is about 130F.
  5. Remove fish from skillet, squeeze lemon juice on top and enjoy.
Look at all that smoke!!
Look at all that smoke!!

Now why would you want to blacken your fish outside? Couldn’t you just do it inside? Check that above pic. See all that smoke? Can you imagine how smoky your house would be after that? This dish is better prepared outside so you don’t smoke out all your family, friends and/or pets.

Fresh off the gril...er...I mean cast iron skillet.
Fresh off the grill…er…I mean cast iron skillet.

     Sometimes, I don’t know what I would do without Mrs. G. She found a recipe somewhere and whipped up some dirty rice to go along with the fish. Not sure what all went into it except hot breakfast sausage, chicken livers (we had some left over from the risotto), celery and rice. Whatever it was, it was tasty.

Plated up and ready to eat.
Plated up and ready to eat.

     The red snapper was pretty darn tasty and I can see us using Dizzy Pig’s Bayouish often once they officially release it. It had a nice flavor and didn’t overpower the fish at all. If anything, Mrs. G and I both wish it had a bit more spice to it. I understand when marketing to the masses, you have to please a wide range of palettes, but the heat was just lacking in our humble opinions. Nothing a little hot sauce won’t fix. Or mixing in a little cayenne to the rub. Otherwise, the flavors were pretty well balanced. If you like really spicy food, this might not be the rub for you, but if you are addicted to blackened fish, you should give it a try.

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King Ranch Mac and Cheese

King Ranch Mac and Cheese
King Ranch Mac and Cheese

WARNING: This recipe is a DIET BUSTER!! If you are on a diet and don’t have planned cheat days (who doesn’t plan cheat days for their diet?), then go ahead and close this page and go about your normal daily activities. But if you are not on a diet, or you are a big fan of King Ranch Chicken and are obsessed with mac and cheese, then by all means keep reading.

Mixin everything into a cast iron skillet
Mixin’ everything into a cast iron skillet

     When I first spotted this recipe in Mrs. G’s Southern Living back in January, I knew I was going to make it, it was just a matter of when. Mrs. G loves mac and cheese, have I mentioned that before? Well, she does and she can whip up some pretty mean ones and her King Ranch Chicken is out of this world (although you can’t tell from those horrible pics I took. Hey, I was just getting started, cut me some slack). What a fantastic idea to combine the two of them. This past Sunday, I grilled up a bunch of chicken thighs (lately, I’ve been grilling up extra food on Sundays for lunches and casseroles and what not during the week) with no real plans of what I was going to do with them. Mrs G has a bunch of casseroles that use chicken, but I wanted something new. Something different. That’s when I remembered this recipe that I believe graced the cover of Southern Living back in January 2013.

King Ranch Mac and Cheese

(Slightly modified from original Southern Living version, serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a 16-oz. package of elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced (the recipe originally called for 1 green bell, but you know how I feel about those)
  • 1 (10-oz.) can Ro*Tel (diced tomatoes and green chiles)
  • 8 oz Velveeta (or more if you really like cheese), cubed
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (leftover BBQ chicken if ya got it 😉 )
  • 1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Mexican Four Cheese Blend
The original recipe called for shredded cheddar cheese. I figured a Mexican Four Blend Cheese would work better. Ready for the oven.
The original recipe called for shredded cheddar cheese. I figured a Mexican Four Blend Cheese would work better. We’re ready for the oven.

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Do NOT follow the directions on the package or you will end up with soggy, overcooked macaroni after it spends 25-30 minutes additional cook time in the oven. The directions on my box said to cook it for 8-10 minutes, we opted for 6 and it came out perfect.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles and Velveeta; cook, stirring constantly until cheese melts. Stir in chicken, next 4 ingredients, and hot cooked pasta until blended. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 10-inch cast-iron skillet or 11- x 7-inch baking dish; sprinkle with Mexican cheese blend. (The directions said a 10-inch CI skillet, but to us it looked like it wasn’t going to fit, so we used a slightly larger one. I’m not sure on the size as I forgot to measure. maybe 12″?)
  4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  5. Allow mac and cheese to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
After cooking in the oven approximately 25 minutes.
Cooling after cooking in the oven approximately 25 minutes.

How do you like to serve your macaroni and cheese? In a bowl or on a plate?

Mrs. G likes to eat hers out of a bowl.
Mrs. G likes to eat hers out of a bowl.

Me? I’m not real picky. I don’t figure there’s really a right or wrong answer as long as you give me a big ole helping.

I had mine on a plate
Mrs. G served mine up on a plate.

     What can I say? This dish was everything I hoped it would be. Ooey, gooey cheesy just like mac and cheese should be, but with the flavors of a good King Ranch Chicken. Just a touch of heat from the Ro*Tel and chili powder. Not enough to make your nose run or tongue burn, but enough to remind you that this is no ordinary mac and cheese. A slight earthiness flavor from the cumin combined with the chili powder gave it a Tex-Mex/Southwestern flavor. At first, it was a little weird. Missing was the flavor and texture of the corn tortillas that go into a King Ranch Chicken, to be replaced by elbow macaroni. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.

We probably ate more than we should have, it was that good.
We probably ate more than we should have, it was that good.

     If you are going to blow your diet, or you plan your cheat days, this dish it totally worth it, IMHO. Not something we’re going to make on a regular basis for health reasons, but next time we have left over chicken, I’m seriously going to consider this recipe when deciding what to do with it.

What I Would Do Differently

Not a damn thing. Winner, winner, mac and cheese and chicken dinner. Honestly, not one thing would I do differently.

Cast Iron Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

If there is one thing on my blog that you have to make, and make RIGHT NOW, its this peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie. Unless you’re allergic to peanuts. Or don’t like insanely awesome rocking desserts. If that’s you, then ignore this post and carry on. But if you think peanut butter and chocolate are the greatest combination ever, then please read on. Excuse me while I take another bite….

Ok….where were we? Cookies!! Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why don’t we just make one giant cookie?” Come on….you know you have. If not, are you thinking about it now? Don’t lie to me. If not, I’m not sure I want to be friends with you. Cuz let me tell you….this was pure awesomeness!! Fantabulous!! Heavenly!

I’ve got to give credit to Tracy over on Sugarcrafter credit for this one. How did I stumble upon her site? Believe it or not, from a BBQ forum called the Smoke Ring. Seems there’s a section on cooking with cast iron over there and somebody else had made her giant cookie. Once I saw it, I knew I had to make it.

Mmmmm…..cookie…..

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (she used light, all we had was dark)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips (she did not use peanut butter, but used 1 3/4 cup chocolate chips)

Directions

  • Preheat your Egg to 375 with the place setter legs down. If you are using an oven, pre-heat to 350.
  • Coat a 10″ cast iron skillet lightly with PAM.

    Flour, baking powder and salt
  • In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt

    Every good cookie needs sugar and butter
  • In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat about 2 minutes

    Wet ingredients
  • Add in the egg and vanilla,Beat 2 minutes longer
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well combined
  • Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips

    Pressed into CI skillet
  • Press the dough into the skillet as evenly as possible

    On to the Egg!!
  • Bake about 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown, rotating part way through to ensure even cooking, making sure to elevate the cast iron skillet off the placesetter using the three green feet or something else as as a spacer.

    Done!
  • Allow to cool. When ready to serve, cut into wedges and add a scoop of your favorite ice cream (and that better be Blue Bell)

    Doesn’t that look good?

I gotta admit that I was a bit skeptical. I mean…..would it come out? Would the bottom be over cooked? Or the edges done way before the center? I don’t know if it is the cast iron skillet that makes this work (and no, I have not tried it in another pan, do so at your own risk). Maybe the fact that cast iron takes such awhile to heat up, it allows the center to get a head start over the bottom and edges. Or maybe its due to the fact that….I don’t really know. All I know is that it was wonderful. The edges had a bit of crispiness to them and the center was moist and delicious. The creaminess of the peanut butter chips worked so well with the chocolate. And with some ice cream melting on top of it…..oh, I’m making myself hungry again.

But wouldn’t the cookie pick up hints of smoke you may ask? It might if you were using a real smokey lump charcoal or if you added any wood (which I didn’t). No, I used a charcoal that was given to me by a friend to try out. Komodo Sustainable Coconut Charcoal. This is an extruded coconut charcoal that is supposed to burn with a high heat, low ash and produce a sweet smell. I figured that if anything, it would add to the sweetness of the cookie. Look for a review from me of this stuff coming soon, but in the meantime here is a review by the Naked Whiz. Now go on and make this cookie. You know you want to. Or your family and friends will want you to. You can thank me later. 😉

Komodo Sustainable Coconut Charcoal