Spicy Chicken Salad with Warm Chipotle Vinaigrette

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's hot!!! Too hot to cook, even for me!! Okay fine, you're right, this is another recipe you have to make on a hot stove, but it's light, spicy and worth the minimal heat in the kitchen. ((Insert old cliche: if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen ... wah-wah, I know, lame joke.))

This recipe came from my latest food obsession: Fine Cooking. It's not in their magazine, but online. I try to take decent pictures of my food, but if you want a better visual - go to their website, but please, make sure to come back to mine!

Picky Pants had a birthday recently and I thought this recipe was perfect to make on a special occasion that just so happened to fall on one of the hottest days of the year. Well, think again. Picky Pants wanted chicken fried rice for his B-day dinner. So much for trying to stay out of the kitchen! I made the Spicy Chicken Salad with Warm Chipotle Vinaigrette the next day - and we both drooled over it for a few reasons: It was fantastic! It was pretty and it was spicy!

I'll have to admit the recipe looks a little daunting because there are a lot of ingredients in the vinaigrette. However, with salad dressing getting a bad reputation these days from high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and extra calories, making my own vinaigrette appealed to me on many different levels. It should for you too, c'mon, it's worth a try!
If you remember my post about the rustic Italian flat bread I made last week, I broke two of them in half and served with the salad. I love recipes that make more than I need. I always freeze and have it on hand when I need it. As for the flat bread, I believe I have 6 more pieces for another night. ;) Always nice to have something homemade to serve to guests.

6 oz baby romaine
1/4 lb iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced, washed and spun dry 2 cups
1/2 Cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 chipotle chile (from can of cipotles in adobo sauce) chopped, plus 2 TBS adobo sauce
3 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TSP light brown sugar
1 TSP Dijon mustard
1/2 Cup plus 3 TBS EVOO
Salt Pepper
2 TBS All purpose flour
2 TBS Fine cornmeal
1 TBS Chili Powder
1 TSP Ground Cumin
1-1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch thick strips
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons (I omitted these: Picky Pants)
1 ripe avocado, cut into 3/4 inch dice
1-1/2 C cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels (from about 2 ears) (I accidentally forgot these)
1 lime cut into quarters

Toss the romaine, iceberg and half the cilantro in a large bowl. In a blender or food processor, puree the chipotle chile and adobo sauce, sun dried tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar and mustard. With the machine running, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the oil. Transfer to a measuring cup, season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a shallow dish, mix the flour, cornmeal, chili powder, and cumin with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Season the chicken with 1 tsp salt and then dredge in four mixture.

Heat 2 tbs of remaining oil in skillet over medium high heat until it's shimmering, about 1 minute. Add half of the chicken strips, evenly spaced, and cook until strips are just cooked without touching for 2 minutes. Cook through until firm to the touch. Transfer to a large plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Reduce heat to medium, add the remaining 1 TBS oil and cook the remaining strips in the same manner
Discard the fat from the pan and wipe it clean with paper towels. Set the pan over low heat, add the vinaigrette and cook stirring witha wooden spoon. return the vinaigrette to a liquid measuring cup and whisk to recombine.

Gently toss the greens with the vinaigrette enough to lightly coat. Portion among four plates and top with the chicken, onion, avocado, corn and remaining 1/4 cup cilantro. Drizzle some of the remaining vinaigrette and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over salads.

Mangia! Mangia!

Greek Burger with White Sauce

Monday, June 14, 2010

WOW -- on so many fronts! Sometimes I'm a little disorganized, so I don't always plan out meals when I grocery shop. That's probably why I'm such a big fan of throwing things together. I went grocery shopping yesterday and picked up ground chicken. I had no idea what I'd do with it, but stuck it in my cart anyway. I did some googling this afternoon for a greek chicken burger on the All Recipes website and sifted through my refrigerator and BINGO! I had all the ingredients! After reading some of the reviews, I decided to make a Cucumber-Dill sauce to accompany the burger (you know like Tzatziki sauce in a Greek restaurant.)Oh, but wait. I didn't have a cucumber. So, here again, my disorganization actually comes in handy. Kind of. So, I threw together enough ingredients to make it taste similar and called it "White Sauce." (Partly because if I called it "onion sauce" Picky Pants wouldn't eat it and partly because if I called it "onion sauce" you wouldn't try it)

If you know my husband, you know he likes his burgers plain. In fact, when he goes to get a burger at a drive-thru (ew, right?) his orders sound something like this: "2 Hamburgers, totally plain. Bun, Burger, Bun." Some of our friends even call him "Bun, Burger, Bun." I'll stick to Picky Pants. He always orders two hamburgers, throws one of the buns away and eats a double-decker burger, totally plain with one bun. He says he's a growing man and he needs a lot of protein. I'm like: really baby? It's McDonalds. we aren't even sure if it's real meat. Just kidding, kind of.

So, tonight, I served Picky Pants this plate for one reason and one reason only: to get a picture for my blog. Well! Wouldn't you know, by the time I snapped the picture he took the entire burger in his hands and ate ALL OF IT!

He ate it without removing the bun and picking out the spinach and he ate it without questioning the White Sauce. Have I died and gone to heaven or is my boy growing up? Tip - if you chop the onions fine enough, even the pickiest eaters will eat them!

Greek Burger

1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 C Italian Bread Crumbs
1 egg
1 TSP Fresh Thyme
1 TSP Fresh Basil
2 TBSP Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes from a jar
Feta Cheese
1 TSP Lemon Juice >
1. Combine Chicken, bread crums, egg, lemon juice, spices and sun dried tomatoes in a bowl, mix with hands. Add Feta Cheese and mix until Feta is coverd in chicken-mix. (This way when you bite, it's like a yummy-Feta-surprise!)
2. Spray Pan (or you can grill them) and cook on medium high about 5-7 minutes on each side.

White Sauce
1 small container Plain Greek Yogurt
1/4 C finely chopped white onion
1 TSP Minced Garlic (from jar)
Dill Weed
Splash Lemon Juice
Serve on burger on a bun with White Sauce and a few leaves of spinach.

Mangia! Mangia!

Chicken with Creamy Corn Sauce, Citrus Quinoa and Rustic Italian Flat Bread

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Even if it's just the two of us, I believe in having a sit-down meal a few times a week. No TV, No cell phones and No computer at the dinner table. I'll have to admit, I also like planning a meal to see if Picky Pants tries whatever I made for the day. Can you believe he spooned up a whole chunk of an avocado from the Citrus Quinoa and ate it? Of course, this is after he asked me what it was and what it tasted like, to which I replied, "butter." No wonder he loved it! Here's to hoping you can start hiding veggies in your dinners and making it all taste great!!

Tonight,Picky Pants and I had a fabulous meal thanks to my new favorite food magazine.
Sorry, Southern Living!
Fine Cooking magazine is now my go-to source for new recipes and kitchen tips and need I mention Fine Cooking is now following me on Twitter? Yay! This is exciting news!

On Fine Cooking's website, I started reading a blogwith an excellent flat bread recipe. I knew it would take some time so I started it while I had laundry going this afternoon. Let me begin by saying 'Old World' or in this case "Rustic" flat bread is not like the kind you buy at the store. It's crispy but slightly doughy. The browned-top is textured with fresh herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme and Basil. It's an excellent conversation piece and could be a great gift in a homemade Italian meal basket.

Rustic Italian Flat bread
Makes 16
1 C Warm Water (Microwave cold water for 1 minute)
1 tsp. Active Dry Yeast (from an envelope)
3 C All-purpose flour, plus more for surface and hands
3 TBSP Olive Oil, plus more for bowl
Coarse Salt
1 TSP Sugar
1 large egg with 1 TBSP water for egg wash
Thyme, Rosemary or Basil -- or all 3! I used Thyme and Basil.

1. Place water in medium bowl, sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, oil, 2 tsp salt and sugar. Stir until dough forms
2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead with floured hands until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough stand in warm, draft-free place until it doubles in volume. About 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Divide dough into 16 pieces, cover with plastic. Toll 1 piece to 4X10inch on floured surface, transfer to parchment paper lined sheet. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sea salt and herbs. 4 pieces of flat bread per sheet. Bake 18 - 22 minutes, rotating pan 1/2 way through. Let cool on parchment paper on wire rack.

Also from Fine Cooking Magazine: Creamy Corn Sauce. Now, this is a great way to disguise veggies as a dipping sauce! Plus, it's a pretty flash of color on your plate.
1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp all purpose flour
1/4 C dry white wine
1 3/4 Cup low sodium chicken broth
1 sprig fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. add the onion and cook until tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Stir in the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until the wine is reduced by about half - 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and thyme sprig and bring to a boil. Add the corn and simmer over medium-low heat until the corn is tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig. Puree the corn mixture in a blender until smooth. Return puree to the pan and stir in butter, chopped thyme, 1 tsp salt and pinch of pepper. Spoon over any kind of chicken, fish or pork chops.

Picky Pants and I have been enjoying quinoa for the last few months. It needs to be "dressed" up a bit with spices but not necessarily salt! My friend and fellow blogger at Erins Food Files posted an amazing recipe for Lemon Cumin Quinoa a few months ago. Picky Pants and I loved it! I had to make my own rendition of it today since I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. Erin, thanks for the inspiration!

Citrus Quinoa
Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
Lemon Juice to taste
Ground Coriander to taste
Ground Cumin to taste
Cilantro to taste
Dash of Salt
1 Ripe Avocado

1. Make the quinoa as according to package instructions except instead of water, use chicken broth.
2. Season quinoa until desired taste
3. When you're ready to serve, chunk an avocado on top into bite size pieces. Serve immediately.

Hope you take time to sit, eat and enjoy with your family this week. Mangia! Mangia!

Bellini's, Biscotti and Burgers!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hope everyone spent Memorial Day with family, friends and of course, good food! What's a drink you can feel pretty drinking all day and not worry (too much) about calories? My new cooking hero, Teresa Giudice, has an awesome recipe for Bellini's (From her book, Skinny Italian) Ever had one? If not, you're missing out. Go make them today for some good girl time and great conversation!

2 ripe white peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 C fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
One 750-ml bottle Italian sparkling wine, like Prosecco or Spumante, chilled

1. Puree the peaches in a blender. you should have 1/2 cup of peach puree. Pour into a small bowl. Rinse out blender.
2. Puree the raspberries in the blender. Strain the raspberries through a wire sieve to remove the seeds. You should have at least 2 TBSP of raspberry puree. pour into a small bowl. Chill.
3. For each serving, spoon a heaping tablespoon of each pure into the bottom of a champagne flute. Top with about 1 TSP of raspberry puree. Slowly fill the glass with the sparkling wine. To keep the foaming at a minimum, fill the glass halfway, let the fizzing subside, then finish with a second pour. Serve immediately.

Sometimes there's nothing better than sitting with a friend over a steaming cup of coffee and having a good talk. Well, if you're going to the trouble of waking up early, fixing your hair and meeting your friend at a coffee shop ... why not have them over and serve homemade Biscotti? To me, nothing says I love you more than food. I can't wait to invite someone over to taste the double chocolate Biscotti I just made. Picky Pants has started to drink coffee, so I guess we'll give it a try tomorrow, but don't worry, I won't make him have girl talk with me!
Again, this recipe is Teresa's (From her book, Skinny Italian) (I know! I have an obsession!)

Double Chocolate Biscotti
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 TSP vanilla extract
1/4 TSP almond extract
2 1/2 Cups All purpose flour
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 TSP baking powder
1/8 TSP salt
1 C Unsweetened Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup confectioners' sugar, for kneading.

1. Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whip the eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla and almond extract in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
In another bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together,. Stir into the egg mixture to make a stiff, sticky dough. Stir in the chocolates.
3. Sprinkle the confectioners' sugar over the work surface. Transfer the dough to the work surface, and knead gently until the dough is cohesive and loses its' stickiness. shape into a thick 8-inch long log and transfer to the baking sheet. Shape the dough on the sheet into a log about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide.
** So, this is where I felt like the recipe gets ... well, "sticky." This dough is very moist and sticky! Next time I make it, I'll remember to pat the dough with confectioner's sugar quickly and transfer to pan. The longer you have it in your hands, the stickier it gets. Make the log and move on, it's Biscotti, it will be pretty no matter what ... and if you're sharing it with a friend, they won't care ;)
4. Bake until the dough is lightly browned and cracked, and feels set when pressed on the top, about 30 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.
5. Reduce the oven temperature to 325. Carefully transfer the log to a chopping board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange the slices, flat sides down, on the baking sheet. Bake until the surfaces begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Flip the Biscotti over, and bake for another 10 minutes. The Biscotti will become crisper when cooled. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Dunk in milk, cocoa and coffee and most importantly: Mangia! Mangia!

Turkey Burgers

I've had an interest in Turkey Burgers since our trip to Vegas a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I'll always remember the day the Turkey Burger caught my eye ... it
happened after Picky Pants and I learned of the flooding in our basement, suddenly, drinking wine and going to dinner with the crew didn't seem as enticing as laying by ourselves in our hotel room overlooking The Strip. Yes, I know we sound like a barrel of fun. Normally we are, this was abnormal. Anyway, Picky Pants swore he was "too sick about the basement" to eat dinner that night. Me? Well, we know that answer! I picked up the phone and ordered two Turkey Burgers from room service.
Me + Food = Happy. And to my surprise, Picky Pants ate every bite of his burger!

So, yesterday I made some of my sister's best salsa recipe ever. It makes a ton, so I had a lot left over and knew I wouldn't be snacking on chips and dip this week. This, friends, is a great way to sneak in some veggies to those ... PICKY eaters. ;)
I mixed some salsa with the ground turkey, rolled into 6 patties and grilled on my cooktop. YUM! What kind of Turkey Burgers do you make? And, more importantly, what kind of creative things can you make out of what's in your refrigerator? I'm a big fan of "throwing things together" and today, it was a hit!

If you haven't had the opportunity to try the homemade salsa I make ... it's my sister's recipe. (Why doesn't she have a blog?!) It's awesome and very versatile, hello - turkey burgers! You can stick it in chili, tacos, Queso Dip, serve with tortillas and hide in burgers!

Turkey Burgers:
1 lb Ground Turkey
Lindsay's Salsa

Lindsay's Salsa
4 large tomatoes, diced
2 yellow Spanish onions, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
Hand full Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Hot sauce
Chili Powder

Fresh is best with all these ingredients:fresh garlic, onion, jalapeno and tomato. However, if you get into a pinch, buy low sodium diced tomatoes and add the salt yourself. A can of Rotel will do as well.

Mangia! Mangia! XXXOOO!

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