Cobb Salad – Taste the Rainbow

Cobb Salad

I made a Rainbow.

Well….a huge salad that looked like a Rainbow.

Cobb Salad

And the thing is….I wasn’t intending to write about it but after I assembled everything, I said to myself:

“Damn. That is a good-looking bowl o’ goodness.”

Cobb Salad

So here it is.

My Cobb Salad.

Nothing crazy, nothing shocking but darn delicious. And like all great Foodies and Nutritionists will tell ya –each meal should cover the Rainbow.

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Cobb Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad
5 cups roughly chopped Romaine lettuce
1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 small avocado, diced
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (I like to use orange and yellow peppers)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup diced grilled chicken
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 crispy bacon strips, roughly chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. (I also like to add the ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up–it’s a wonderful alternative to emulsify the vinaigrette but it serves as the perfect storage vessel for the remaining dressing.)

In a large bowl, add the Romaine lettuce and arugula. Add enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Toss to evenly cover and plate between two bowls.

Divide the remaining ingredients between the two bowls. Serve additional vinaigrette alongside each bowl. Enjoy!

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

So here’s the thing.

I’ve never claimed to have a blog about figure-friendly, low-calorie recipes. I mean, c’mon now. I believe in BUTTER….BACON…and BOOZE!

My kitchen’s Holy Trinity.

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

But even this gal has to be a bit health-conscious sometimes. Eating (or drinking) lots of fresh veggies, getting in some regular workouts and finagling lean proteins into the menu as often as possible.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t naturally gravitate towards chicken breasts–especially boneless/skinless chicken breast. And don’t even get my brother started on his feelings on chicken. But the proof is in the puddin‘ — chicken breast is one of the leanest proteins you can put in your tummy.

Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken

And since we all know that it can so easily dry out and taste like sandpaper, here are my two no-brainer tips to combating the chicken blues.

First, you’ve got to pump the chicken with as much flavor as possible. We’re talking a boom-pow marinade and let the chicken soak in it as long as possible. And if you want to get crazy– brine it!

Second, smother it with goodness! Yup, it’s condiments time – and you know how much I love condiments! Things like pico de gallos, salsas, marinaras, and chimichurris are fantastic over grilled chicken.

My Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken is a standard way I like to marinate my chicken breasts overnight before throwing them on the grill. The tequila and limes help to break down the chicken and as long as you’re not going rogue on the grill, it stays nice and juicy. It’s also a great method for chicken wings—just put a bit of the marinade aside and when you start cooking, baste the wings with it.

Over a salad, inside quesadillas/burritos, in sammies or as a stand alone, my Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken has helped me {in a delicious way} with my skinless-chicken breast aversion.

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Tequila Chili-Lime Chicken
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
1 small white onion
4 large garlic cloves
1-2 jalapeno peppers (depending on heat preference)
zest of 1 lime
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup tequila
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup olive oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts*
vegetable oil
lime wedges

In a food processor or blender, add the first 15 ingredients. Pulse several times until the fresh aromatics have broken down. Place the chicken breasts into a gallon size resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage it through. Be sure to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Put the chicken in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

An hour before you start cooking the chicken, pull it from the refrigerator to take the chill off of it. Heat your grill to medium-high. Brush the grates of your grill with the vegetable oil. Place the chicken breast on the grill and cook for about 5-6 minutes on the first side before flipping. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes on the 2nd side until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches approximately 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the grill and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for about 5 minutes.

Serve warm with fresh lime wedges and your choice of condiments.

*Bone-in chicken breast can also be used but adjust the cooking times as needed.

Turkey & Peppers Tacos – Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

Well gang…y’all made it — HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!!!!

And as promised, I have one more little goodie to share with you that will definitely make some tummies quite happy today.

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

Turkey & Peppers Tacos!

Like my Portabello Mushroom Tacos, these little beauties are super quick to make and are darn right tasty. And if you’re not a fan of ground turkey, you can swap out the protein with ground chicken, pork, beef– or even ground tofurkey!

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

And just don’t stop with tacos. The filling works fantastic over nachos, tostadas, inside burritos or even inside lettuce wraps.

Because this gal likes versatility.

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

Here’s to a fantastically festive Cinco de Mayo – have a margarita (or 2 for me)!

Salud!

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Turkey & Peppers Tacos
Makes 8-10 Tacos

Ingredients:

 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onions
2 small serrano peppers, seeds removed, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground turkey meat
¾ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups diced bell peppers (I prefer red and orange peppers)
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, more to garnish
8-10 small tortillas
1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese, or whatever cheeses you prefer
oven-roasted tomato salsa
lime wedges

 

In a large cast iron pan or large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until they become translucent but not browned. Add in the minced serrano, garlic and sauté for an additional minute.

 

Add the turkey and use a wooden spoon to stir it around the pan while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the turkey until it is no long pink & begins to brown– approximately 5 minutes.

 

Stir in the cumin, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, garlic salt, kosher salt, black pepper and scallions. Cook for 1 minute and then add the diced bell peppers. Cook for an additional few minutes to allow the peppers to begin soften and the turkey to cook through.

 

Take the pan off the heat and fold in the cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

 

Warm the tortillas (in a skillet, over a open flame, or even in the microwave). Begin assembling the tacos by placing a few spoonfuls of the filling mixture in the center of each tortilla. Top each taco with some Cotija cheeses and chopped cilantro. Serve with salsa and lime wedges.

 

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

I adore “one-pot” meals.

Not only do you cut down on the extra dirty dishes (I detest washing dishes!) but it also gives me a great excuse to use some of my fab dutch ovens, braisers, and other pots that can go straight from the stove/oven and directly to the serving table.

These types of cooking gear are fantastic to braise proteins in as they allow for an even, slow cooking process. And since I happened to catch a great deal on chicken thighs and drumsticks at the grocery store the other week, I decided to throw them into one of my fav Le Creuset Braisers for an easy Sunday night meal.

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

After browning the chicken for a few minutes, I cooked down some onions, garlic and chopped sage–an herb that pairs wonderfully with poultry. A bit of white wine and a few cups of chicken stock go into the braiser. And then the chicken goes back into the liquids for a slow, bubbling bath in the oven.

Finally, with just a few minutes left of braising, I throw in fresh kale leaves and chickpeas for that extra level of earthiness.

Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas

The chicken is super tender, flavorful and plays off well with the kale and chickpeas. The final touch of fresh lemon juice adds a bit of brightness to round out the hearty dish.

All in all, a winning one-pot meal that’s easy to pull together and totally satisfying.

I’m all about it.

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Braised Sage Chicken with Kale & Chickpeas
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

3-4 pounds bone-in chicken (I prefer thighs and drumsticks)
kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
8 fresh sage leaves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 heaping cups chopped kale leaves
juice ½ lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven (or other oven proof pot with a lid), heat olive oil to medium. In batches, brown the chicken pieces on both sides and transfer to a plate. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the leftover grease.

Add the onions and cook until they have softened and are translucent. Add the garlic, chili flakes, sage and sauté for an additional minute.  Pour in the wine and with a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by half. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken to the pot with the skin side up. Place the lid on and transfer to the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes and remove from the oven. Carefully remove the lid and use a spoon to skim off and discard any excess fat and grease. Add the kale and chickpeas to the pot, cover with the lid, and place it back into the oven. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes until the meat is tender and pulls away from the bone.

Remove the pot from the oven. Taste the broth and adjust for seasonings as needed. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the dish and serve warm.

Cà Ri Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Curry)

Cà Ri Gà

Vietnamese is easily one of the top requested foods people ask me to post recipes for. Of course it’s one of my favorite cuisines but to actually quantify measurements in Vietnamese dishes is really tricky. Like Mom and our aunties, I kind of throw a bit of this and a couple of more dashes of that until I like the flavor results.

So please bear with me as I try to share more delish Vietnamese dishes this year and know that you can always adjust amounts (more heat, less nước mắm…) to your hearts content.

Cà Ri Gà

Cà Ri Gà is the Vietnamese version of a chicken curry stew and I LOVE IT. It’s hearty, incredibly aromatic and the flavors get better over time. The rich Cà Ri Gà can be served with jasmine rice or over rice noodles. However my preferred carb accompaniment is with crusty, toasted baguette so that you can dunk pieces in the sauce and gobble it on up.

Cà Ri Gà

I kind of think of Cà Ri Gà as the Vietnamese approach to fusion as a lot of components pull from various cultures. The curry spices itself are from South India – the Vietnamese call it “Cà Ri Ấn Độ“. I like to use a Madras curry blend–a paste in fact but Madras curry powder will also do the trick. As for the coconut milk and kaffir limes – I think of those as classic Thai flavors. And of course the baguette comes from the very heavy French influence in Việt Nam.

Cà Ri Gà

Cà Ri Gà is not difficult to make but like so many other memorable dishes, it does take some time to layer flavors. And trust me, it’s completely worth the few extra steps.

Start off by taking a chicken (it is chicken curry after all) and break it down into 8 pieces. Of course you can use whatever cuts you prefer but I would suggest leaving the skin on and bone-in for more flavor. Mo’ flavor, mo’ better!

Slather the chicken in some of the curry paste and other aromatics –then allow it marinate for several hours.

Cà Ri Gà

After the chicken has had ample time to steep in all the delicious aromatics, lightly brown the meat on both sides.

Browned goodness = Awesome flavor

Tip: Before browning the chicken, wipe off some of the aromatics as they can burn from the high heat in the pot.

Burned garlic/ginger = No bueno flavor

Cà Ri Gà

Remove the chicken after it has browned and saute some other goodies. I’m telling ya, Cà Ri Gà is an aromatic party!

Cà Ri Gà

Then add in a few dollops of the Madras curry paste and cook it down for a minute or two. The heat will release the natural oils from the spices that will add magic to your sauce.

Flavor Magic.

Cà Ri Gà

At some point you’ll also want to smash up some lemongrass stalks. But do me a favor and be careful while you’re hacking away.

Cà Ri Gà

In goes the coconut milk, chicken stock, beaten up lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and a few dashes of Vietnamese Liquid Gold (fish sauce)……..

Cà Ri Gà

Then the taters, carrots and chicken…………

Cà Ri Gà

And then about an hour later you’ll be ready to get down on some honest to goodness Cà Ri Gà! The chicken should be fork tender and swathed in the luscious curry sauce that is incredibly fragrant from the lemongrass, ginger and kaffir.

Should you find yourself with leftovers, take a tortilla and spoon some basmati rice in the center. Top the rice with the Cà Ri Gà, a few spoonfuls of the sauce and you’ll have an insane Cà Ri Gà Wrap! It also freezes really well.

Cà Ri Gà

And with that dear Friends – Ăn Ngon!

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Cà Ri Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Curry)
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (4-5lbs), broken down into 8 pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided (*more to taste)
5 tablespoons Madras curry paste, divided
1 cup diced white onions
1 inch fresh garlic, sliced into thin matchsticks
2 whole red Thai chilies, minced (*more to taste)
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups chicken stock
2 stalks lemongrass
6-8 fresh kaffir lime leaves (2-3 bay leaves can be substituted if needed)
1 pound peeled potatoes, washed and cut into large pieces
3-4 medium sized peeled carrots, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
toasted baguettes

In a large bowl, add the chicken pieces, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, shallots, minced garlic, minced lemongrass, minced ginger, black pepper, sugar, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Thoroughly coat the chicken and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the chicken in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 6-8 hours.

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the remaining oil to medium. Brush off the larger shallots/garlic/ginger pieces from the chicken (to prevent it from burning) and in batches, lightly brown the chicken on both sides—about 5-6 minutes. Place the browned chicken on a large plate.

Once all the chicken has been browned, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil/grease from the pot. Throw in the diced onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, chilies and saute for 1 minute before adding in the remaining curry paste. Cook for an additional 30-40 seconds to allow the aromatics and spices to release their oils and bring out their flavors.

Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock. Take the back of a knife and smash the lemongrass stalks several times to bruise the stalks and release its oils. Add the bruised lemongrass, kaffir leaves, and remaining fish sauce to the pot. Place the potatoes and carrots in the pot and add the chicken. The items should mostly be submerged in the liquids.

Bring the liquids to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the curry, partially covered, on a low simmered heat for 50-60 minutes. Once done, the chicken should be very tender and the sauce has reduced by about ½.  Taste and adjust with additional fish sauce and black pepper as needed.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot with toasted baguettes (or rice, noodles, etc.).

Spicy Chicken Flautas – ¡Olé!

Spicy Chicken Flautas

I’m kind of a fanatic when it comes to Mexican food. And lucky for me, I live in San Diego where I can get lots of it!

There’s something wonderful about the cuisine that really strikes the perfect balance in each dish. Bright, rich….acidic, salty….spicy, sweet. And the condiments—oh, the condiments! So many options to accompany each bite.

Just perfecto!

Spicy Chicken Flautas

When I’m not ordering fish or al pastor tacos, I’m reaching for a plate of flautas–crispy rolled tacos.

Now here’s the million dollar question. Are they “flautas” or “taquitos”?

I’ve done some research on the matter (okay, I’ve just Googled it and have asked every restaurant I order them from) and there seems to be some mixed thoughts. One school of thought believes that when corn tortillas are involved they become taquitos and are called flautas when flour tortillas are used. Some say it depends on the size and others say it’s regional.

Spicy Chicken Flautas

So since I use flour tortillas, I’ll call mine flautas :)

And in my humble opinion, what makes a great flauta is not just a crispy exterior but also one that has a really flavorful filling. I start by roasting bone-in chicken breasts that have been seasoned with tons of spices. After shredding it, I combine it with sauteed aromatics, herbs, more spices and lots of cheese.

I’m a big fan of using Sargento’s Mexican Cheese as it contains a blend of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero cheeses. More types of cheese = more flavor.

Spicy Chicken Flautas

Of course, one shouldn’t enjoy flautas without fantastic sides. I serve mine with fresh pico de gallo, luscious guacamole and a dollop of sour cream to cool down the spices.

And with that Friends, you’ve got a meal with the perfect symphony of flavors! ¡Olé!

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Spicy Chicken Flautas
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¾ tablespoon garlic salt, divided
¾ teaspoon ground cumin, divided
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
1½ teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
1½teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 cup diced white onion
1 jalapeno pepper, minced*
1 serrano pepper, minced*
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1½ cups Sargento® shredded 4-Mexican Cheese, or cheeses of your choice
vegetable oil
12 small flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle the chicken with ¼ tablespoon garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Use your hands to rub each chicken breast to thoroughly distribute the oil and seasonings. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes or until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees F. Once cooled, remove and discard the skin and bones. Shred the chicken into small pieces and place in a large bowl.

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Sauté the onions, jalapeno and serrano until the onions are just translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the shredded chicken.

To the chicken, add the remaining garlic salt, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and kosher salt. Stir in the cilantro, scallions, lime juice and cheeses until combined.

Heat a heavy bottomed pot with 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375 degrees F.

Working in batches, place 2 heaping spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll up each tortilla and use toothpicks to secure them closed. You may need to slightly heat the tortillas so that they become pliable to roll.

Fry the flautas for 2-3 minutes until they become golden brown. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Serve warm with pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream.

*The amount of peppers can be adjusted depending on heat preference.

Green Curry Chicken

Green Curry Chicken

I kind of have a thing for Green Curry.

Green Curry Chicken, Green Curry Tofu, Green Curry Prawns—you name it, I love it.

Green Curry Chicken

This is my go-to take on Green Curry Chicken.

You can use store-bought curry paste or try making your own. I use this recipe for green curry paste which is really quite easy-peasy. You simply throw the ingredients into a food processor and shjooge away.

Or is it juugge?

Shuaage?

Um…how about you just pulse away.

Green Curry Chicken

The recipe makes about a cup of paste and anything I don’t use, I divide into 1/4 cup portions and zip them up in little resealable baggies. I toss those baggies into the freezer and bada-bing-bada-boom —I have curry paste any time I need it.

And if you freeze things, don’t be like me and forget to label them because I’ve got a few containers/resealable baggies in my freezer that I can’t remember what the heck they are. But they could prove to be an adventurous meal by using all of the unidentifiable items from my freezer. :)

Back to the curry….

Green Curry Chicken

You can use any type of protein you prefer and feel free to swap whatever veggies you like— eggplants, snow peas, asparagus, etc. I also like my veggies to have a little more firmness to them and opt to add them in towards the end of the cooking process. However, if you like them a bit more tender, you may want to sauté them for a minute or 2 with the chicken.

Serve it up with a steaming bowl of jasmine rice and you’ll be curry-ific!!!

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Green Curry Chicken
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasted
kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
½ cup diced white onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced ginger
1 Thai red chili pepper, minced (2-3 if you prefer more heat)
3 heaping tablespoons green curry paste
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce, more if needed
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1-inch strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1-inch strips
2 cups sliced white mushrooms
¼ cup chopped Thai Basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, more for garnish

Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy bottom pot with 2 tablespoons of oil to medium-high. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover.

Lower the heat to medium and add in the remaining oil. Cook the onions until softened and then add the garlic, ginger, and red chili pepper. Sauté for an additional minute and then add in the curry paste. Stir and cook the items for one minute until they become fragrant.

Whisk in the coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce and allow the liquids to come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 5-10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Add the kaffir lime leaves, browned chicken, peppers, and mushrooms  into the pot. Stir the items together and simmer (partially covered) for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add in additional fish sauce if needed. Stir in the basil, cilantro and plate.

Garnish with additional cilantro and serve immediately with rice.