The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Let’s Talk Marinades

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Marinades)

If you finally broke out the grill last weekend, then you’re probably eager to start putting it to regular use for as long as the weather permits. We’re with you on that! After all, what’s not to love about cooking outdoors, enjoying late evenings, and sitting down to a dinner that’s typically fuss-free? Grilling is all about letting the meat—or veggies—shine, and usually, you don’t need much more than a simple sprinkling of salt and pepper. But sometimes, you want to add a bit more flavor without necessarily serving it with a sauce. And that’s where a good marinade can help.

Marinades are, at their most basic, built like a basic salad dressing. (In fact, in a pinch, a bottle of vinaigrette-style salad dressing can double as a great impromptu marinade.) There’s oil, which helps distribute the flavors evenly. There’s an acid component, like vinegar, citrus juice, or wine. Then you need a bit of salt, and any other herbs, spices, or flavors you want to incorporate into your dish. And that’s pretty much it. I always taste the marinade first before using it—if it tastes good right off the bat, then I know I’ll enjoy the flavor it imparts to whatever we’re grilling. If I particularly like the taste of the marinade, I’ll set aside a portion of it so I have a “clean” batch (untainted by raw meat) to brush on the grilled meat or to reduce and serve on the side for dipping. I might even use some of it to dress some simple veggies or flavor rice, to help tie the whole meal together.

The tricky part is usually deciding how much acid to add, and how long to marinate. Typically, the more delicate the meat, the less time you want to marinate, and the less acid you use. Fish, for example, shouldn’t sit in an acidic marinade for too long, lest you wind up with ceviche. (In fact, I usually skip the acid when working with fish.) The same goes for really tender cuts of meat, which will turn mushy on you. That said, in most other cases, I do like adding something acidic to my marinades because I enjoy the brightness it adds, and it also means I can use less salt without sacrificing flavor.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Marinades)

I quite enjoy building my own marinades, and I like changing up the flavors based on the theme of the meal, like the Thai-style satay marinade used in the photo above. If I’m whipping up a Greek-inspired meal, I’ll use olive oil, lemon juice or lemon zest, salt, pepper, and oregano. When I want to add a smoky, spicy kick, I throw in some pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. If I’m going for something herbaceous yet meaty, adding pesto to the marinade is usually a good move. For an Asian-style grilled beef, I like using sesame oil, tamarind (or lime juice) as the acid, fish sauce (or soy sauce), and flavor it with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and a touch of sugar. I do enjoy using sugar in marinades, and I find it helps with browning. But I use it sparingly, just enough to flavor the marinade but not too much that it burns on the grill.

If you use your grill or roaster regularly, you probably already have your go-to marinade formula or even store-bought brand. We’d like to hear all about it! Tell us:

Do you have any favorite marinating tips and tricks? Favorite marinade flavors?

Or maybe you have a marinating mishap to relate, like that time someone I know dumped in half a bottle’s worth of cayenne powder, mistaking it for chili powder. (Yes. That happened.) Share with us below!

 

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Looks Delicious! Fruit Cookie Pizza

Posted by in Baking

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Spring Fruit Cookie Pizza, submitted by TK member Tiffany of This Season's Table)

Wow everyone with a show-stopping dessert that just might be the star of your cookout. If you don’t have time to make the almond cookie pie crust (but if you can, we highly recommend it), feel free to grab a package of your favorite readymade cookie dough. We won’t tell if you won’t.

Thanks for sharing this Fruit Cookie Pizza with us, Tiffany! Click on the photo above to get the printable. And check out Tiffany’s site, This Season’s Table, for more recipes featuring whole foods and seasonal produce.

Enjoy your Monday, everyone!

 

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Burgers for the Weekend!

Posted by in The Theme Is...

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

It’s Friday! Better yet, it’s the Friday before a 3-day weekend. It’s the best kind of Friday! Except, of course, for the Friday before a 4-day weekend.

Whatever you may have planned for the next few days, chances are some form of grilling will be involved. Actually, let me be more specific: some form of grilling burgers will be involved. We’re here to support you all the way. After all, that’s what we’re here for.

Now most of you probably already have your burger method down pat. You know the kind of meat you like to use, the meat-to-fat ratio, and you know exactly where to get the perfect rolls for your burgers. You already know not to handle the meat too much to keep it tender, and you automatically make that center depression on the patty so it cooks flat. So today, we won’t be showing you the classic American burger. Instead, we want to show you a few recent ones—ten of them, to be exact—that we think you might want to try if you’re looking to spruce up your burger repertoire. Let’s begin!

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Peanut Butter, Egg, and Bacon Burger. Who knew peanut butter would pair so well with burgers! Just trust us on this one.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Green Goddess Burgers. Take all those wonderful, fresh, herbaceous spring flavors, and pile them on your burger. Done.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Crab Cake Burger. Go uptown using the seafood route. Just make sure you’ll have enough for seconds for everyone. Make that thirds.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Bacon and Brie Burger with Spicy Peach Caramelized Onions. Jazz up the standard cheeseburger with Brie, and balance the salty smoky flavor with sweet and spicy onions. Oh yes.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

French Burgers & French Fries. Ground chicken, cornichons, lemon, and fresh tarragon. Oh, and Brie. (Can you tell we love Brie?) Skip the usual burger bun and go with a crusty baguette! As a bonus, the recipe includes easy no-thermometer, no-double-fry french fries.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Homemade Butter Burgers. These are all the rage now. Whether you wrap the meat around the butter, or dice the butter into pieces and mix them into the burger, we say a little extra butter makes everything better. (Also, we used the word ‘butter’ four times in this paragraph. Case closed.)

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Bangkok Burger. All your favorite Thai flavors in a handheld package.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Mini Guinness Pork Burgers with Guinness BBQ Sauce. Don’t let beef have all the fun. These pork burgers are where it’s at, and we know you won’t want to make them mini.

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Pork Belly Pimento Cheese Burger. Did someone say pork belly? And pimento cheese? So much goodness in one sandwich!

 
 
 
Tasty Kitchen Blog: Looks Delicious! (Memorial Day Burgers)

Tex-Mex BBQ Black Bean Veggie Burgers. Hey, meatless burgers deserve their own place in the sun, too. These are hearty and loaded with flavor!

Did you see anything you liked? Or maybe you have a favorite that we missed. If so, share the love below!

Happy Friday, everyone! Travel safely, enjoy the weekend, and make something special on the grill. Then come tell us all about it!

 

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Share Your Grill Cleaning Tips!

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Grill Cleaning Tips)

The unofficial start of the grilling season is just around the corner, and I for one cannot wait. Yes, I know in some places, the cold hasn’t quite relaxed its grip just yet, and in other places, it’s been grilling season since 1983. But still. There’s just something exciting about being able to grill with everyone else. Perhaps cooking over fire outdoors is both primal and communal.

Every year, after going through a winter that makes grilling outside impossible, I look forward to the day I can finally lift that heavy grill over off. But I always do it with a bit of trepidation, wondering what I might discover underneath. Did my husband remember to clean the grates properly before throwing the cover on? Did we perhaps get surprised by the first snowstorm and inadvertently cover the grill with food still inside? Will I find my long lost pair of tongs in there? Will I be greeted by that orange monster, rust?

Of course, I’m being melodramatic. We never leave food in the grill, so I don’t know why images of moldy cobs of corn and hockey-puck burgers on black crusted grates dance in my mind. I’ve also never found utensils left inside accidentally. (I should have been a surgeon.) But the cleaning-before-storing part? That’s real. I watch too many food shows and have grate envy. Their grills look so nice and smooth, and when they rub that piece of paper towel dipped in oil all over, the paper towel still looks clean! How do they do it?

So to prepare ourselves for what I hope to be a long season of outdoor cooking and al fresco dining, let’s make sure our equipment is in good shape and looking its best.

What are your favorite grill cleaning tips?

My husband does most of the grilling around here, and my pet peeve is those grates. I look at them and all I want to do is take a brush and Baker’s Joy and make them all shiny and new again. But as I researched grill cleaning tips online, I read that you actually want that black crud on your grates after cooking. Minus any large pieces of food, of course. Apparently, that coating around the grates protects their seasoning in between grilling sessions, and it also adds an extra barrier against rust. The time to clean it up is before grilling, not after. Who knew! (Anytime someone gives me permission to NOT clean, I obey.)

I’ve also seen people clean their grates with a thick disc (about 1-inch thick) of fresh onion pierced with the pointy end of a grilling fork. Once the grill has been preheated, the onion is rubbed all over the grates. Supposedly, acid from the onion helps clean and even disinfect the grates (especially if using a public grill), and it has the added bonus of adding a bit of flavor and making it smell like you already have something amazing cooking in there. I’ve never tried it, but it can’t hurt, right?

I have yet to tackle the outside of our grill, so I’m looking forward to all your cleaning tips. Share your (or your husband’s) favorite tips below!

 

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Let’s Talk Strawberries

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Strawberries are in season right now, and we want to hear all your strawberry tips and recipes!

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Looks Delicious! Ratatouille Sandwiches

Posted by in Looks Delicious!

Here's a sandwich that's perfect for keeping things light today. Sure, you can always churn out a smoothie or a nice green salad, and that would be fine too. But why not continue spoiling yourself with these Ratatouille Sandwiches instead?

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Three Many Giveaways! (Winners Announced)

Posted by in Miscellaneous

To celebrate the launch of the Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters book, and to show you how much we love you, we have three prizes up for grabs today, representing each of the three authors.

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Share Your Stories!

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

To kick off our celebration of the Three Many Cooks book, we'd like to ask you to share your "really good stuff" with us.

Tell us your favorite story about food and family, or friendship.