Category Archives: Savory

How to become a Broncos fan and make the best hot wings; just in time for the big game!

This coming Sunday is no ordinary Sunday. If you haven’t heard, there is a scheduled sporting event that consumes a large percentage of the American population.

The “Big Game”.

The championship of a sport that consumes a large percentage of the American population for roughly five months out of the year.

Football. The Superbowl.

In this house, we are among the football obsessed masses. Broncos Fans. We bleed orange.

Broncos Logo 1

Photo Credit

And this year, we are going to the Superbowl!

And of course, that means a Superbowl party.

I am going to share with you a great Superbowl party menu and my thoughts on how to make the best hot wings, which are a must on game day, but first just a little background on how I came to be a Broncos fan.

Oh come on, Indulge me.

It is a bit Ironic that I am a Broncos fan as the Seahawks are also going to the Superbowl this year. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest by Seahawks fans, immersed in Seahawks culture. Some of my fondest memories of my dad center around the many Sundays we spent watching football together; the foam brick shaped “Hawk Block” being hurled at the TV over and over and over again – the Seahawks weren’t very good for a really, really long time.

And then the day came when I sought my independence, my freedom and I boldly confronted my father and informed him that from that day forward, I was officially going to be a Broncos fan. I offered the small concession that I would still root for the Seahawks too, unless of course, they were playing the Broncos.

Rebellion. Mutiny. Treason.

“A Broncos fan?! You can’t be a Broncos fan, you’ve never even been to Denver. And … they are in the same division as the Seahawks!”

“Yes, I can. I am a Broncos fan.” 

“But why? Why the Broncos?”

And then I said this, “because they have a horse on their helmet and I like horses”  and his face contorted into the strangest gaze as he slowly exhaled the breath from his body.

olddenverbroncoslogohelmet

Photo Credit

And so it was. On that day, I broke away, turned my back on all I had know and became a Broncos fan.

I’m sure my dad thought it was just one of about a million passing fancies but it was not. It stuck. To his credit, my dad made the most of it and a friendly rivalry developed, which, as it turned out, was even more fun than rooting for the same team. Especially since the Broncos were a whole lot better than the Seahawks.

Yes, I chose my team because they had a horse on their helmet. For what other reason would a young girl choose a team of her very own? Still, there is a bit more to it than that.

Truly, it was destiny.

The Big Guy knew that someday, I would meet and fall in love with the most fanatical most devoted Broncos fan ever to walk the earth. It would not be my charm, quick wit or perfect apple pie that would win his heart; no, in the end it would be my Elway jersey.

Just yesterday, we celebrated 18 years of marriage. Love, commitment, hard work and a united front on the field of play (well, at least on the couch watching the field of play). Friends, that is the secret to making a marriage work. It is okay, even expected, to have a rivalry with your dad but with your husband it is best to root for the same team. And it is ALWAYS best to root for the Broncos.

So there you have it. A Broncos fan not by birth but by choice.

I am proud to say that we have been able to properly influence at least part of the next generation.

Connor-BroncosConnor, my first born nephew, my first baby love.

He’s had my heart from the moment I laid eyes on his pink wrinkly self and he just keeps charming his way into my heart. Like at the age of three when he told his mom he wanted to wear makeup so he could be “pretty like Aunt Dani”. Sweet, smart boy. I can share that story with you because I guarantee without doubt that not one of his friends reads my blog. And because his mom said I could so if it scars him, it’s her fault.

And then, a few summers ago when he came down for a visit and asked me to teach him how to make a soufflé. We made two, blue cheese and chocolate.

Come to think of it though, it was on that same visit the he ditched me at the mall, giving me the first indication that I was no longer completely “cool”. Apparently a 14 year old boy shopping with his aunt is style cramping and just not done. What is even more sad is that I actually did not expect it.

I still thought I was cool.

Imagine my shock; “seriously, you don’t want to shop with me? Or be seen with me?” Luckily, he left me feeling old and uncool right in front of the Forever 21 store so I could pop in there and feel better about myself. [sarcasm]

Not to worry though, all has been forgiven because with no undue influence, bribery or coercion, my sweet, smart, awesome nephew has chosen to be a Broncos fan. All on his own. All by himself. No undue influence. None.

Alex-Broncos

And low and behold, my niece Alex, Connor’s little sister (she’s on the right), has also chosen the to walk in the light. In fact, she and the friend pictured here with her wore their full Broncos gear to school on “Seahawk Day”. From what I hear, the school administration frowned on this anti-Seahawk treachery. Whatever. That’s my girl! I’m just so proud. Upon further examination of this photo, I believe that is actually just one pair of Broncos socks and they are sharing. Sharing socks. Still, I’m proud.

She likes horses too. In fact, I chased her escapee pony through razor sharp wheat field stubble more than once. In shorts. But she’s cute and I love her and she’s a Broncos fan so I hardly notice the scars on my shins. [complete exaggeration] Or the sock sharing.

Colin, Brenton and Grace I love you too and will mail Broncos jerseys to you when you come to your senses and realize you are really Broncos fans.

So, readers, if you actually read all of that and didn’t skip ahead, bless you. I am pretty sure that you are ready for me to get to the food. I know Connor is, if for no other reason than to be certain I don’t pull out anymore embarrassing cute stories. Oh, I’ve got plenty but for now, we’ll just move on to talking wings.

How to Make the Best Hot Wings

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Hot wings are pretty much a game day must but not all wings are created equal.

Personally, I am extremely picky about wings. Mostly because I don’t like to eat chicken off the bone. It truly gives me the heebies. In fact, the thought of eating a drumstick makes me break out into a cold sweat. Really, it does; you know I am not at all prone to exaggeration.

Wings are smaller so I can eat them if they are crispy. And I mean CRISPY. C.R.I.S.P.Y. As in not one teeny tiny, itty bitty little bit of fatty smooshyness. Yes, I am using a made up word. It is the only way I can accurately depict the absolute grossness (that might be made up too) of biting into a soggy wing. Cold sweat shudder.

So, now that you are hungry for wings, lets get to it.

This isn’t really a recipe as much as it is a preference of technique. I hate to be the one to tell you this but the best way – by far – to make hot wings is to fry them. Deep fry them in HOT oil.

Why do I hate to tell you this? Because it is messy. And a bit tedious. And somewhat perilous. But in the end, oh so worth it.

While it is far easier to just throw a bag of pre-sauced, pre-cooked frozen wings into the oven and heat them up and it may seem healthier to bake homemade wings, there is NO WAY to ensure an acceptable level of crispiness in the oven. And I for one, just cannot risk the horror of biting into a mushy wing. Really, I’ve got to stop talking about it.

Also, they just don’t taste as good.

So, let the frying begin.

Start with fresh chicken wings from the meat counter. You can buy raw frozen wings that have already been prepped but I really prefer the fresh whole wings as they have less moisture and fry up better.

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Crazy enough, I can’t stomach the though of eating (let’s just call them gross as to avoid anymore unfortunate made up words) a gross wing but I have no problem dispatching a whole wing into “hot wing” parts. Not grossed out a bit.

I like to use a very sharp, heavy chef’s knife. First, remove the tip of the wing. I put the tips in a baggie and then freeze them so I can add them to the pot the next time I make chicken stock. Next, pull the wing gently open and carefully run your knife between the two parts, cutting through the soft spot at the edge of the joint, separating the two pieces.

Once they are all separated, pat the wings dry.

If you are using frozen wings, be sure they are completely thawed and all of the excess moisture is patted off. If they are too wet, you are going to have just a bit of excitement when you put them in the hot oil. Dangerous excitement.

Speaking of oil, this is by far the number one tip I can offer. Do NOT fill your pot too full with oil. If you do, it will bubble over which is messy and dangerous. I fill a enameled cast iron pot about 2/3 full with canola or vegetable oil and then heat the oil on med-high heat to 380 degrees.

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Use a candy thermometer for an accurate temperature and adjust your heat up or down as needed.

Kitchen-Spider

If you don’t have a kitchen spider, I highly recommend getting one as it is the perfect tool for removing the wings and draining the oil off of them quickly. I use mine for all sorts of things.

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I gently place the wings into the hot oil with a long pair of metal tongs that keep me a safe distance from the pot. DO NOT drop, plop or toss the wings in, think careful and gentle. On that note, it is also a good idea to use a back burner if possible and to keep the kids and pets out of the kitchen just to be extra safe. You can never be too safe or cautious with hot oil.

Frying-Chicken-Wings

Fry the wings in small batches, about five at a time, for 6-7 minutes. I have seen recommended cooking times anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes but 6-7 seems to work best for crispy, juicy wings. Carefully remove the wings with your spider.

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Place the wings on paper towels to absorb any residual oil. If you are doing a lot of wings, you can keep the cooked ones warm on a sheet tray in a 250 degree oven while you finish up the remaining batches.

Hot-Wings-1When you are done frying, it is time to get those wings dressed for the party. Traditional wing sauce is a cayenne pepper based sauce. We like Frank’s RedHot and follow the recipe right on the back of the bottle, with just a couple of tweaks.

For 2 1/2 pounds of wing pieces you will want to mix 1/2 cup of hot sauce with 1/3 cup of melted butter. I just put both the butter and the sauce in a small saucepan and heat them up together on the stove over medium heat. Once the butter is melted I add a pinch of salt and several twists of the pepper grinder. I don’t know if it really matters that much but I add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper to everything. Even my bath water. Not really but I’m thinking maybe I should try it. You can also add cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to taste for extra heat.

Whisk everything together (except the bath water) and incorporate well. Pour the wing sauce over the wings and toss well to coat.

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Serve them with celery and carrot sticks, any extra wing sauce and blue cheese or ranch dressing.

After you’ve enjoyed the game and the most amazing wings, you’ll wander back into the kitchen happy (because the Broncos won) and full only to face the pot of used chicken oil mocking you from the stove.

Not to worry, click here for tips  on re-using or disposing of the oil.

That’s it! I hope you will give these wings a try for your game day festivities and of course, I hope you’ll be rooting for the Broncos.

I will share another game day appetizer and the rest of my Superbowl Party Menu and plans with you in the next few days.

Oh, and for all you 49ers fans out there, we welcome you brothers and sisters.

United-in-Orange_broncos

 Photo Credit

 Even if for only one game.

Go Broncos!!

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

A post or two ago, I shared with you a recent event I did for our Women’s Ministry in which I brought a little bit of the beach to the desert.

Seaside-Beach-Themed-Buffet

In planning the food for the event, I kept imagining a picnic on the beach. Blanket spread out on the sand, a shady umbrella and a gentle salty breeze.

But what would I want to eat?

Something delicious and satisfying but not too heavy and easy to pack and transport.

Something perfect for a picnic. In this case, I also needed something that would easily feed a crowd with little effort.

As I thumbed through my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (which is one of my favorite event/party planning rituals) I came across a recipe for “Herbed Goat Cheese Sandwiches” from Ina Garten, Parties!

Hmmmmm.

At first read they seemed more like a tea sandwich, with cucumbers and the crusts cut off, but as it is with so many things, it is all in how you see it. And I saw these little sandwiches in a picnic basket nestled next to chilled grapes, freshly baked cookies and iced tea; all ready for a day at the beach. Or an evening as it were.

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For the Know Event, I doubled the recipe and made the sandwiches on a whole grain bread and a soft potato bread. While I couldn’t enjoy the sandwiches (no bread for me), the herbed goat cheese spread was another story! I made a batch for home and couldn’t get enough of it. I ate it on everything I could think of. Daddy and the big kids loved it too but Mr. Picky wouldn’t go near it; which is in fact a good sign that it is absolutely delicious – unless of course you too currently only eat  grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate pudding.

Mr.-Picky

“Ewww! I CAN’T like that! It is eesgusging!”

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

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The recipe is not “eesgusging” and is very simple to throw together and holds up well in the fridge for at least a week; if it lasts that long. Click the link above (the one under the picture of the picky 5 year old) and it will take you right to it.

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It whips up easily in a stand mixer but be sure to finely mince or even smash the garlic into a paste as it is pretty potent and no one wants to bite into a big chunk of raw garlic. My husband thought the spread was a little heavy on the garlic so you may want to start with just one clove and see how it tastes to you.

The recipe calls for parsley and thyme, which is fantastic, but I am going to get a little creative with the herb combinations next time. Basil, tarragon, chives, maybe even olives or tapenade and sundried tomatoes; endless possibilities! I also think a bit of lemon zest would be delicious.

Barefoot-Contessa's-Herbed-

Recently, I made this spread as an appetizer for dinner with friends and served it with baguette slices that I drizzled with a little olive oil and toasted in a 425 degree oven for about 5 minutes. They didn’t last long and the tantalizing crunch of those baguettes slathered in that rich goat cheese spread was almost more than this girl could take.

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So I toasted up some low-carb Joseph’s pita wedges and shared in the joy. Admittedly, it was not the same as a crunchy French baguette but it was still pretty darn good.

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For all of you Trim Healthy Mamas out there, this spread is fantastic rolled up in a Joseph’s lavash for a snack or just  add a little turkey and veggies for a satisfying lunch wrap.

One word … omelet.

My husband is the resident omelet maker around here and he’s pretty darn good at it. He makes one for me just about every weekend and I was most delighted to find rich and creamy herbed goat cheese pooling from every nook and cranny of this perfect Saturday morning treat (another good THM/low-carb breakfast).

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He also brought me a good strong cup of black coffee. I am a blessed woman indeed.

There are so many ways to enjoy this versatile spread, I’m thinking about piping it into cherry tomatoes or on top of cucumber slices the next time I need an appetizer.

I hope you will give it a try and play around with your own herb and ingredient combinations. Be sure to let me know what you come up with and as always …

Enjoy!

Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice; AKA Cauli-Rice

Is there a more recognized American Chinese takeout dish than fried rice? I can’t think of one. Okay, well maybe Chow-Mein but today we’re talking rice.

Fried rice.

Delicious, yes. Healthy, not so much. Sadly traditional fried rice is loaded with sodium and high-carbohydrate, insulin spiking white rice. Not exactly top of the menu for anyone wishing to drop a few pounds or clean up their diet. Which is sad business if you are like me and absolutely love the stuff.

“The next time you’re at a Chinese restaurant, back away from the fried rice … many dishes are loaded with sodium, oil and carbs,” says Jayne Hurley, a senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Those dishes are basically three quarters of a day’s calories, and you’re just getting four or five cups of white rice with oil and a sprinkling of vegetables,” Hurley says. They’re especially dangerous because they’re often served alongside people’s main orders, she says, and deliver “not much more than a smattering of vegetables or protein from the meat.” Unhealthy Chinese Food Choices,

Bummer.

But all is not lost because in steps cauli-rice to the rescue. Cauli-rice is something I have been eating a lot of lately and am absolutely loving. If cauli-rice is unfamiliar to you, I am about to expand your healthy option horizons. What is it exactly? It is “rice”, made out of cauliflower.  Or cauliflower grated to mimic rice in just about everyway.

Did you just close your eyes, sigh and shake your head in a skeptical fashion?

Okay, you may not believe it but I am asking you to trust me here and go with me on this … it looks, tastes and acts like rice; except for the fact that it doesn’t raise your blood sugar and spike your insulin. Really, it does. Still skeptical? Here, let me prove it to you.

Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower, grated
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 12 ounces shrimp, cooked, cleaned and chopped
  • 6 ounces cubed lean ham
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Scallions, chopped for garnish

Shrimp-Fried-Cauli-Rice-Ing

Directions

Chop your shrimp into small pieces.

Shrimp-Fried-Rice-Shrimp

I thawed these pre-cooked and cleaned shrimp and then cut them into three pieces.

Use a box grater to grate raw cauliflower into “rice”.

Cauli-Rice

It is a messy business but well worth it!

Sauté the cauli-rice in chicken broth for 3 to 5 minutes.

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Add in the remaining ingredients, just to warm them, starting with the peas, then ham and shrimp and finally scrambling in the egg whites by making a well in the center of the rice and pouring them in. This will only take about another 5 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

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Top with a sprinkling of chopped scallions and a splash or Bragg Liquid Aminos in place of soy sauce (it tastes the same and is far better for you) and you’ll have a healthy shrimp fried rice dish that you can fill up on – guilt free!

If you are following the THM lifestyle, you know it is not always easy to come up with truly satisfying “FP” (fuel pull) or even “E” (energizing) meals. This fried rice fits the bill perfectly. I am an “S” loving girl and this has become one of my absolute favorite meals for lunch or dinner.

If you want to make it a bit more hearty, you can fry it up in a few tablespoons of coconut oil and use whole eggs for a satisfying S meal.

My goal with this dish was to make it as “Chinese takeout” authentic as possible. Put skepticism aside, give it a try and let me know how I did.

Enjoy!

Baby Portabella Sliders

I have had my eye on these babies for a while. Baby portabellas that is. As the name would suggest, they are smaller than a full grown portabella but a bit bigger than a cremini. So technically, they are really more of an adolescent portabella.

Baby-Portabellas

So, while that very important distinction has been made, the question what to do with them? remains.

Hmmmm. Slice and sauté or stuff like a cremini? No.

Marinate and grill like a big portabella? No.

More creative. Must be more creative.

They are the perfect size to replace the burger in a slider.

No, that’s not it either. Think. Think. Think.

Does anyone else out there have similar conversations with yourself?

Okay, yes, but do you have them about mushrooms?

Marinate and grill. Burger. Slider. I like it but not the burger. The bun? Oh, now that is intriguing.

The bun. Hmmmm. Sliders with baby portabella mushroom buns.

No bread, low carb, sounds delicious. I like it. I like it very much.

Baby Portabella Sliders it is!

Now, who else should we invite to the party?

Blue-Cheese

Ahhhhh, blue cheese. My favorite party guest.

Applewood-Smoked-Bacon

And applewood smoked bacon. Come on in!

Let’s get this party started!

Baby Portabella Sliders

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Prepare slider sized burgers.

You can grill or pan fry them. Right now, it is about 482 degrees outside so I opted for the cast iron on my stovetop in my air-conditioned kitchen. If you are using ground beef at an 80/20 ratio, you don’t really need to do more to it than add a little salt and pepper. I had a leaner blend on hand so to one pound of ground beef, I added one egg as a binder and a dash of cream for moisture (about a tablespoon) along with a bit of freeze-dried parsley just for fun. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. As always, be sure your pan is good and hot before you put the meat in! I am a medium-rare kind of gal so I cooked the burgers on medium-high 4-5 minutes per side.

Marinating-Portabellas

For the “buns”, I pulled the stems out of the mushrooms and then brushed both sides of the caps with Drew’s Rosemary Balsamic Dressing (I absolutely love the stuff) and seasoned both sides with salt and pepper. Use whatever dressing you like or even just a bit of olive oil or coconut oil.

Frying-Portabellas

I adore my cast iron grill pan and it worked perfectly for “grilling” up the mushrooms. Make sure your pan is hot before you put the mushrooms in. I cooked them on medium-high for 2-3 minutes a side. Don’t move the mushrooms after you’ve turned them and you will end up with perfect grill marks.

Now, to build the sliders.

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I selected the least attractive mushroom caps to use as the bottom “bun” and set each on a leaf of butter lettuce. The sizes varied but still worked out just fine.

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Next, the burger patty.

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Blue cheese crumbles.

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Applewood smoked bacon.

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Just a bit of thinly sliced red onion.

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And finally, the second mushroom cap. See those grill marks?

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Buns? What buns? Who needs buns? Not when you’ve got baby portabellas!

These were delicious! The mushrooms were flavorful and juicy and perfect. Messy but perfect.

I can hardly wait to make them again. In fact, I can’t stop thinking about them.

Oh, the possibilities …

Ground lamb with feta crumbles and tzatziki. Maybe a little olive tapenade?

Smoked Cheddar. BBQ sauce. Jalapenos. Caramelized shallots. Garlic aioli. Brie. Pesto. Mozzarella. Roasted red peppers. Goat cheese. Avocados. Serrano ham. Monterey Jack. Pickles.

Infinite possibilities that beg the question … what are your favorite burger toppings?

I would loved to know!

Enjoy!

This Trim Healthy Mama approved “S” recipe is happily linked with other Trim Healthy Tuesday recipes at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen’s Nest.

Avocado Mango Salad, a Cinco de Mayo Must!

This light and refreshing Avocado Mango Salad rounds out my Cinco de Mayo dishes for the week.

What a way to finish!

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I promise, it tastes as good as it looks! The sweet mango and creamy avocado combined with the richness of the chili powder and the deep flavor of cumin give this light salad just the right amount of punch. It is a flavor party perfect for Cinco de Mayo.

Avocado Mango Salad

adapted from Avocado Salad, Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking, Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ripe avocados, cubed
  • 2 ripe mangos, cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

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Whew! That’s a lot of chopping. And a little messy.

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But so, so worth it!

Directions

Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, combine the avocados, mangos, tomatoes, onion and cilantro.

Add the dressing, toss carefully (don’t mush your mangos or avocados) and serve immediately.

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Add it to a main dish of Tequila Lime Chicken, a delicious side of Grilled Corn Salad , blue corn tortilla chips with your favorite salsa and a Blackberry Margarita and you have the perfect menu for a delicious Cinco de Mayo Celebration.

This is the chance I’ve been waiting for to try out The Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Margaritas that she featured on her show a few weeks back. Oh my did they look good! Lime.Salted.Rims. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

remember to celebrate responsibly (but eat all the Avocado Mango Salad you want) and

Enjoy!

Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken

My day is starting to get away from me and I promised to tell you about Tequila Lime Chicken. I must tell you about Tequila Lime Chicken because you must know! Especially with Cinco de Mayo right around the corner!

This recipe comes from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. And is in her Food From My Frontier Cookbook. I love the Pioneer Woman almost as much as I love The Barefoot Contessa – maybe it’s their sassy nick-names? Okay, fantastic recipes, talented personalities and sassy nick-names. Whatever it is, they’re my girls – even though they have absolutely no idea that they’re my girls.

Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken

Just click the linked recipe title above and it will take you right to the recipe.

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The first time I tried this chicken, I was completely blown away. There is something truly magical that happens to chicken breasts when they luxuriate for several hours in this tequila based marinade. I’m pretty sure luxuriate is a word. Sometimes a word sounds good in my head, I type it and then I doubt. Luxuriate. Yup, it’s a word and the only word that seems to fit here.

Avocados-and-Limes

Limes, avocados, jalapeno … oh, my! You know only good things can come of this.

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Good things do not always come of this but when you soak chicken in it; it’s a good thing.

Jalapeno-Slices

          You will need your food processor or blender to make the marinade for the chicken. Limes, garlic cloves, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, olive oil, tequila …

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yes, good things are about to happen.

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Once all of the marinade ingredients are combined, place your boneless skinless chicken breasts in a large plastic zip-lock type bag and pour the marinade in. Zip it up and let it marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or over night. The longer the better, a few hours just isn’t enough; you really want the chicken and the tequila to have some time together.

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Oh, and don’t get a few chicken breasts in the bag and then decide you’d rather use the tongs that are on the counter behind you than your hands, forcing you to let go of the bag that you think is balanced on the counter because the bag could collapse and some of your precious (and messy) marinade could end up on the floor.

Or so I’ve heard.

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After there has been enough luxuriation (now that is not a word but I still like it), just grill the chicken breasts and serve with your favorite festive sides. I served mine with Grilled Corn Salad (which I shared with you yesterday) and a refreshing Avocado Mango Salad that I will share with you tomorrow.

In fact I think I’ll run to the store and get some mangos and make it again tomorrow for lunch. Purely in the interest of quality control and one last test run of course.

Enjoy!

 

Grilled Corn Salad

It is starting to warm up around here and my mind is quickly heading in the direction of Summer. Maybe it is heading that direction because my children only have a few weeks of school left and I am madly planning their Summer activities.

Bored kids can be unpleasant.

Moms with bored kids can be unpleasant.

Aside from the occasional bout of unpleasantness, I really love summer; and I particularly love summer cooking. To me, summer food is light and fresh and most often grilled and nothing beats dining al fresco.

If you hadn’t heard, Arizona Summers are HOT and the last thing anyone wants to do is turn on the stove or the oven. Instead we stand outside, 116 degrees, gentle breeze blowing – as if straight from a hair dryer – and grill. Truthfully, we grill all year-long and probably should be cooking inside in the air conditioning but that just isn’t very summerish now is it?

Besides, there is nothing quite like grilling in a fabulous outdoor kitchen. Would you like to see my fabulous outdoor kitchen?New-BBQ

So would I.

I promise, I’m not poking fun at my hard-workin’ committed DIYer husband who hasn’t had the time yet to move beyond the dry stacking stage. He is way more than capable of building the best outdoor kitchen ever … if only there were about six more hours in a day.

If anyone knows a good (reasonably priced) stone mason in the area you would be my new best friend and my husband would have the best Father’s Day gift ever.

For now, we make do with Old Bessie – I totally just made that up, we don’t really call our ancient gas grill Old Bessie but maybe now we will.

Sad-BBQ-2

She’s not pretty but she get’s the job done.

I apologize to anyone with the name Bessie.

Back to the grilled corn salad. Crunchy refreshing salads are the best and I was very excited to give this new one a try. My way, of course.

Grilled Corn Salad

Adapted from “Festive Corn Salad”, Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Grilled-Corn

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grilled corn kernels (cut from 3 cobs of corn depending on size)
  • 1 grilled zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

I wanted to try this recipe right away but sadly, I was a little early for really good fresh corn. As I couldn’t find any still in the husk, I decided to settled for the only fresh corn that I could find …

Fresh-Corn

To grill them start to finish, they really need to be in the husks (we’ll talk about that when the good stuff starts showing up at the Farmer’s Market) so I had to improvise.

Boiling-Corn

For corn on the cob, I bring a pot of water to a boil, put the corn in, bring it back to a boil, cover and boil for five minutes.

Corn-3

To get the grilled look and flavor I was after, I then misted the corn with a little olive oil and put them on a very hot grill. If you don’t have an oil mister, get one. Today. Trust me.

Corn-on-Grill

The grill needs to be hot because you want the char marks and flavor but you want them quickly so the corn doesn’t overcook and dry out.

Corn-&-Zucchini-on-Grill

Halve the zucchini, mist it with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper and then put it on the grill with the corn – just for a few minutes you don’t want it over cooked and mushy.

Grilled-Veggies

Perfect. Now to put the salad together.

Side note on grilled zucchini, it is a great kid veggie as it is the perfect soft texture for them to practice cutting with a knife and fork. I have a set of kid silverware with very safe knives. I start ’em early cutting soft fruits too. They love it!

Cutting-Corn-off-the-Cob

This is NOT a kid safe knife but my kid is holding it for me so that I can hold the corn and the camera. Now that is trust; but I just had to show you my favorite trick for cutting corn off of the cob. Besides, he’s almost nine and is pretty handy to have around.

Just turn a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl, balance the flat end of the corn on the smaller bowl and slice down with a sharp knife. If you are not trying to photograph the process, two hands should be enough.

The corn kernels fall off into the larger bowl. No mess.

Cutting-Corn-off-the-Cob-2

Genius.

I wish I could say I thought of it but I picked it up somewhere on the Food Network.

Red-Bell-Peppers

Next, chop and add the zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, onion and jalapeno.

Red-Bell-Peppers-2Red-Bell-Peppers-3

When a fine dice or mince are called for, just cut small strips (julienne) and then make perfect little pieces.

Diced-Jalapeno-Peppers

With jalapeno or other hot peppers, most of the heat is in the veins and seeds so remove those with a paring knife before you dice the pepper. I don’t mind the heat but I don’t want the little seeds in my salad.

Next add the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and mix well.

Corn-Salad-2

Serve at room temperature or chilled from the fridge.

You can make it a day ahead and it will keep fine.

Corn-Salad-3

I have made this salad a few times now and served it above with tequila lime chicken.

Oh, I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

And that, over there on the side, peeking over the chicken, that is an avocado salad; watch for that one too.

When I made corn salad last weekend to take to a luncheon, I did it a little differently. I didn’t have time to grill the corn or zucchini so I used 2 cans of corn (drained) and sautéed them and the diced zucchini in a few tablespoons of butter for five minutes. As a last-minute add, I also diced up two mangos and tossed those in the salad for a sweet touch that was very well received.

Play around with your favorite ingredients. Make it your own and enjoy!