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.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings – Happy Lunar New Year!

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Today marks the first day of Tết {Vietnamese Lunar New Year} – so allow me to say Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

Like the good Vietnamese gal I am, I’ve spent the past several days cleaning up the house, running to the bank to get “new money” to stuff in the red envelopes for lì xi (lucky money), paying off my bills and finishing everything else Mom used to tell us to do in preparation for Tết. Hey- I do what I can to deflect any bad ju-ju!

I expect that our clan’s Tết celebration on Sunday will be filled with a lot of shenanigans, new year’s wishes, a bit of gambling and a whole lot of eating! Braised bamboo, crab, sticky rice, roast pork, stuffed rice cakes and a ton more. I CAN’T WAIT!

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

To get in the new year’s spirit, I decided to make some dumplings. Truthfully, this style of dumpling isn’t traditional for Tết but they’re quite common for Chinese New Year celebrations. Dumplings are eaten because they symbolize wealth & richness as their shape resembles Chinese gold ingots.

This time around I decided to fill the dumplings primarily with ground chicken, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, some aromatics and a TON of fresh ginger. I often use a pork & shrimp filling as well but you could use almost anything that tickles your fancy. Just one thing, you’ll want to cook a bit of the filling before you start assembling the dumplings so that you can adjust the seasonings. Trust me, you don’t want to stuff 100 dumplings before you discover that your filling is bland.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

As for the dumpling skins/wrappers, let me be the first to admit that I never make my own and I’m happy to just grab a package of the pre-made ones. I’m sure there’s a lot of pros of going 100% homemade but the thought of rolling out all of those super thin rounds is just too daunting. But one day I’ll give it a try— ya know….bragging rights and all.

If you opt to buy the packaged skins, I’d recommend the egg-less Shanghai style wrappers. But if you’re in a bind or live in an area where it’s difficult to procure Shanghai style wrappers, you could use wonton skins. The texture and flavor will be a bit different though as those are typically are made with eggs.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Once you’ve mixed up the filling, you’re ready to assemble the little dumplings.

  • Wet the edges to help seal the edges,
  • Add a heaping teaspoon of filling,
  • Fold in half and pinch the center,
  • Fold 3-4 pleats to the right and then pinch and crease the end to seal,
  • Fold 3-4 pleats to the left and then pinch and crease the end to seal.

And that’s it! The filled dumplings should form a slight crescent shape and be able to sit upright. Alternatively you can fold the dumplings so that they lay flat. Instructions on how to fold a flat dumpling can be found here.

Man…I have the most wrinkly fingers and desperately need a manicure— but I digress.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Keep on filling, folding, and pleating…..don’t worry, it gets faster once you get the rhythm down.

At this point, you can either pan-fry the dumpling right away or freeze them so that you can have them whenever you have a dumpling hankering. If you do choose to freeze them, be sure to freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet for a few hours before stacking them in a container. If you don’t, they’ll clump up together while they freeze.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Once you’re ready to cook up these little buggers, grab a skillet that has a fitted lid and fry them in a single layer for a minute or two. You’ll then want to add a bit of water and slap on the lid to allow the dumplings to steam and finish cooking.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

And that’s it! Deliciously juicy and flavorful dumplings that are ready to be dunked into a quickly made sauce of soy, rice wine vinegar and a few other goodies.

Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings

Well Friends, let me again say – Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!! I wish you all an incredible Year of the Horse filled with health, prosperity, wisdom, and joy!!

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Pan-Fried Ginger Chicken Dumplings
Makes approximately 50 dumplings

Ingredients:

Dumplings:
2 cups finely chopped Napa cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground chicken
1 cup minced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped scallions, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce (more, if needed)
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 package Shanghai-style dumpling skins (50 count)
water
vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Place the cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle it with salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Wrap the cabbage in a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel. Squeeze out and discard the excess liquid and place the drained cabbage back in the bowl.

Add the ground chicken, mushrooms, scallions, shallots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame seed oil, and black pepper to the bowl. Using cleans hands, mix the filling until thoroughly combined. To test for seasoning, take a small spoonful of the mixture and pan fry in a non stick skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side. Taste and if needed, add more soy sauce to the uncooked filling.

Begin assembly of the dumplings. Lay one dumpling wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the dumpling skin. Pick up the dumpling, fold it in half and pinch the center together. Starting from the center, make about 3-4 pleats on the right side of the dumpling. Repeat with the left side of the dumpling so that all the pleats point towards the center. This will also create a flat bottom to allow the dumpling to sit upright and form a slight crescent shape. Place the dumpling on a baking sheet and continue until all the filling/wrappers have been used.

Prepare the dipping sauce by whisking together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside.

To cook the dumplings, heat a large frying pan to medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place a single layer of the dumplings in the pan. Fry the dumplings for 1-2 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Carefully pour in about 1/4 cup of water and immediately place a tight fitting lid on the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow the dumplings  to steam for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until all the water has evaporated. Transfer the dumplings to a platter and sprinkle the tops with scallions and toasted sesame seeds. If you need to fry the dumplings in batches, use a paper towel to wipe the frying pan clean before repeating the above process. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

*If you would like to freeze the dumplings, place the baking sheet directly into freezer for 4-5 hours after you have assembled them. Be sure that the dumplings are in a single layer and are not touching each other. Once the dumplings have frozen, you may transfer them to a sealed container. They can be kept in the freezer for a few months and should be cooked frozen. Add 1-2 additional minutes to the cooking time when pan-frying frozen dumplings.*

Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip for Game Day

Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

This upcoming weekend will be jammed packed with events. I’ve got our niece’s 9th birthday party Saturday morning with her school friends, our monthly Family Dinner that evening, Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration with the clan on Sunday, and of course– the Super Bowl later that afternoon.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

By the time the game rolls around on Sunday, all I will have the energy to do is plop myself on the couch with an iced cold brewskie and have delish snackies within an arm’s reach away from me. I’m hoping for the usual suspects like pizzas, ribs, nachos, tacos, and wings. Mmmm…..buffalo wings. I love buffalo wings.

But as tasty as buffalo wings are, they are just a mess to eat. I pretty much go through a few trees worth of napkins every time I have them. So instead…..

SAVE THE TREES and MAKE DIP!

Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

My Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip is a nod to the lip-smacking, scrumptious wings. It’s made with lots of chicken (leftover rotisserie is great in this), hot sauce (I like Frank’s® RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce), tons of cheeses and a few other goodies. Once it comes out of the oven, the dip is super bubbly and is just waiting for a potato chip or celery stick to be dunked into it. It is sinfully cheesy so don’t even bother to count calories while you’re inhaling it.

Need some other Super Bowl menu ideas? Here are a few other bites that are sure to please a crowd:

Whatever you choose to fix up, enjoy the Super Bowl!

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Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoon ranch salad dressing
3 tablespoons (or more) hot sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 scallions, chopped and divided
4 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles, divided
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 ounces cooked chicken, roughly chopped
celery sticks
potato chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream and ranch salad dressing until well combined. Stir in the hot sauce, garlic and all but 1/2 tablespoon of the chopped scallions. Mix in 3 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles, Monterey Jack cheese, pepper, cayenne and chicken.

Spoon the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining blue cheese crumbles on top. Place the baking dish on top of a baking sheet. Bake the dip for 25 minutes and then turn on the broiler to allow the top to become bubbly and turn golden brown.

Sprinkle the remaining scallions on top of the dip and serve hot with celery sticks and chips.

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.).

Basic Chicken Stock 101

Chicken Stock 101

For the record, let me say that I swear by store-bought stocks. I always try and keep the pantry equipped with cans/boxes of them to add to my dishes for that extra oompf. However, when given the chance, I do prefer to use my homemade stocks. More often than not, the flavor is a bit “cleaner” and I know exactly what’s in it.

Chicken Stock 101

Now generally when I make stocks, it’s because I don’t want to waste any of the leftover bones from a different dish we’ve prepared or when I’ve broken down a whole chicken and there’s an entire carcass (I know, kind of an ick word but I don’t know what else to call it) & other parts remaining.

After placing the bones in a large pot, I throw in any fresh herbs hanging out in the produce drawer of my fridge and cover it all with water. The goodies simmer for a few hours before it’s cooled to room temperature and then refrigerated for several hours. The pot is then strained and Voila– homemade stock that can be used right away or stored in the freezer for whenever you need it.

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Basic Chicken Stock
Makes approximately 5 quarts

Ingredients:

1.5-2 pounds chicken parts (I use the leftover carcass, wings, etc.)
1 large white onion, quartered
3 medium sized carrots, halved
4 stalks of celery, halved
1 whole garlic clove, split in half
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
15 sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 sprigs fresh sage
3-4 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 quarts cold water

Place the chicken parts, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and fresh herbs into a large stock pot. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and pour in the cold water.

Bring the pot with its contents to a rolling boil and then lower the heat to simmer, partially covered, for about 3 hours. Allow the pot to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove and discard the larger pieces from the pot. Strain the remaining contents through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. The stock can be used immediately, stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or kept frozen in the freezer for about 3 months.

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.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka MasalaIN A CROCK POT!!!!!! Yep, you heard me!

When I saw this on Pinterest, I just had to try it. I adore Chicken Tikka Masala and although I’m quite happy with the America’s Test Kitchen adaptation that I often use, I couldn’t resist trying out a slow cooker version.

True to the wonders of crock pot cookin’, I simply threw the ingredients into the pot, slapped on the lid  and let the goodness work its magic for 8 hours.

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

How did it taste? Really great! The chicken was quite flavorful and tender. As for the sauce—creamy and luscious. The only change I would make would be to reduce the amount of garam masala by half. The original recipe from Cooking Classy calls for 2 tablespoons which was pretty heavy handed for me but depending on your flavor preference (and the type of garam masala you use), you may like the full amount.

And although it may not be spot on to my beloved New Indian Cuisine, it’s still quite scrumptious and you just cannot beat how darn easy it is to make.

Want the recipe? Head on over to Cooking Classy.

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad) & Giveaway Winner!

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

Ever had Gỏi?

Gỏi is a general term for “salads” in Vietnamese and can come in all forms using a variety of ingredients. Lately, my favorite Gỏi utilizes thinly sliced Banana Blossoms. I combine it with grilled proteins, pink grapefruit, creamy avocados, a ton of herbs and a healthy douse of Nước chấm “vinaigrette”. It’s absolutely delicious and epitomizes the balance in Vietnamese cuisines.

If you’ve never used Banana Blossoms before, they can be somewhat tricky the first time around. It’s best to remove the outer few petals as they’re quite tough (though you can save them as garnish), use a really sharp knife so you can get thin slices, and be sure to soak the cut blossoms in cold water that has been mixed with some type of acid–citrus juice or vinegar does the trick. The later helps removes some of that chalky flavor that the Banana Blossoms can sometimes have.

And although it sounds a bit laborious—it’s totally worth it and delicious!

 

Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)

And now to announce the winner of a fabulous Nambe Pasta Cradle Bowl

Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Serena Kim who said she would serve Shrimp Pesto Pasta in the Nambé Bowl. Sounds yummy and will look gorgeous in your new bowl! Serena, we’ll be sending you an email shortly so we can get your new Nambé artwork shipped out.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And THANK YOU Nambé !

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Gỏi Bắp Chuối (Vietnamese Banana Blossom Salad)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
Nước chấm (Sauce):
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely minced
chili paste, to taste

Gỏi (Salad):
cups chicken breast, grilled and shredded
cups prawns, shelled and grilled
2 medium sized avocadoes, cubed
1 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit segments
4 cups banana blossoms, julienned
¼ cup loosely packed fresh Vietnamese Mint (rau răm), chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup fried shallots
¼ cup roasted peanuts, crushed
cold water
black pepper to taste

Prepare the sauce. In a medium sized bowl, stir the sugar and water together until completely dissolved. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir until combined. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rice wine vinegar. Peel off the dark colored and tough outer leaves of the banana blossom. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to julienne the blossoms. You can either discard the “baby bananas” or chop them up finely. Submerge the banana blossoms into the bowl of water/vinegar after they have been julienne. Allow the banana blossoms to sit in the vinegar water for 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, prawns, avocados, herbs, and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce until the items are lightly coated. Drain the banana blossoms from the vinegar water and squeeze out any excess liquids. Add banana blossoms to the other ingredients and spoon in some additional sauce. Gently toss the salad with the fried shallots and plate. Sprinkle the top with crushed peanuts and serve.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

The other week I did a quick poll via Twitter and Facebook asking folks what Vietnamese dishes they’d like to see on the blog—well, other than Phở :)

I got a range of requests from Bún (Vermicelli Noodles) to Gỏi Cuốn (Spring/Summer Rolls) and even Bánh Mì (sandwiches).

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But truth be told, outside of the occasional Bánh Mì Chả Lụa (Vietnamese “Ham”/”Sausage” Sandwich), I rarely ever make Bánh Mì.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

By no means is Bánh Mì difficult to assemble but I’ve always been lucky enough to have local Bánh Mì shops nearby and at under 3 bucks a pop (and that’s on the high end), I have been just darn lazy. Yup, I admit it.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

At it’s base, Bánh Mì is made up of a toasted french baguette, pickled veggies, tons of cilantro, mayonnaise, and some type of protein. But don’t let it fool you. Just because it sounds simple, doesn’t mean the flavors aren’t genius!

Bánh Mì is all about balance. The great crunch from the baguette, savory flavors from the protein, bright notes from the herbs and the sweet/tangy aspects of the pickled veggies. Just Perfect.

Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)

But I realize not everyone has access to yummy Bánh Mì shops so I thought it would be fun to share a delish and easy method. For this particular Bánh Mì Gà Nướng, I used chicken thighs marinated with Chinese Five-Spice and Maggi Seasoning Sauce. In fact, this is how our mom would often marinade our poultry—including our Thanksgiving turkeys every year! The Five-Spice gives a deep, earthy flavor from the combination of star anise, cloves, and other goodness. Trust me, it’s amazing.

And with that friends—Ăn ngon! Stay tuned next week for another Vietnamese dish!

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Bánh Mì Gà Nướng (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Sandwich)
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 6-inch Baguette Rolls, lightly toasted and sliced lengthwise
Five Spiced Chicken*
Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables)*
Mayonaisse*
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves, washed and dried
1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 Small Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise


Five-Spice Chicken
:
6 Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin on
1 Tablespoon Five-Spice Powder
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Maggi Seasoning Sauce

Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables):
1 Cup Carrots, julienned
1 Cup Daikon Radish, julienned
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
½ Cup Boiling Water

Mayonnaise:
2 Large Egg Yolks, at room temperature
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Garlic Clove, minced
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped (optional)
2-3 Dashes Nước Mắm (fish sauce)

Prepare the marinade for the chicken. In a large bowl, whisk together the Five-Spice, sugar, and pepper. Stir in garlic, Maggi and oil until the dry ingredients have dissolved. Submerge the chicken into the marinade, being sure to coat both sides. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Đồ Chua (Pickled Vegetables). In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt with the boiling water. Add the vinegar and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the vegetables and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the mayonnaise. In a blender, add all the ingredients except the oil. Pulse several times and then slowly drizzle in the oil until the mayonnaise has properly emulsified. Refrigerate until ready for use. *You can also use jarred mayonnaise to substitute*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with oil and place the marinated chicken thighs on the sheet, skin side up. Roast for approximately 30 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into pieces.

Assemble the Bánh Mì. Spread a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise inside one side of each toasted baguette roll. Fill each roll with the chicken and drizzle a bit of the pan drippings over the meat. If desired, sprinkle with more black pepper. Fill the sandwiches with pickled vegetables, jalapeno and cucumber slices, and the cilantro. Enjoy!