Category Archives: Meats

Adobo Chicken Tacos

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All tacos all the time!

I think ours would be happy household if we made this every day. The words, “I don’t think I feel like tacos tonight” have never been uttered under our roof. That is partially due to these awesome Adobo Chicken Tacos.

Veggie tacos used to be our jam. Step 1. Go to the latin grocery store around the corner. Step 2. Buy lots of jalapenos and other veggies for nearly zero dollars. Step 3. Cook with spices and insert in tortilla. Step 4. Enjoy. It was a nearly perfect process. Cheap and easy, fast and delicious. But that process was ruined – RUINED – when we received the  June 2012 Bon Appetit.

The June 2012 Bon Appetit is a very special Bon Appetit. It is the one with the salmon on the cover, but inside the is a huge TACO SECTION. There are pork tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos, poblano tacos (which will require their own post at a later date) and SHRIMP TACOS!

(If you know me at all, you know that this is all highly suspect. I don’t eat anything that ever lived in the sea… so a Salmon Bon Appetit and Shrimp taco recipe should be an immediate turn off.)

So these Shrimp Tacos were cooked in an Adobo sauce. Obviously, the shrimp had to go, but the sauce looked so fantastic, we had to try it.

Long story short, (too late!) this sauce is awesome. And you should use it on your shrimp tacos, chicken tacos, sparingly on your veggie tacos, or on other non-taco-centric food-related ventures.

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The whole process starts with Ancho chiles. I took a special picture of these chiles because sometimes it is hard to identify dried chiles once you’re at the market. Obviously, these are easier to find at your local Latin grocery store. If you don’t have one, you can still check at your regular grocery store, but you’ll probably have better luck at grocery stores with more elaborate “ethnic” sections.

If you have a bunch of dried chiles that aren’t Ancho chiles, or only a few Anchos and a bunch of other chiles, GO FOR IT! It’s fun to see what happens when you mix them. It might turn out very spicy though, so be careful!

Many chile sauces start with this same process, so once you have it down, you can experiment with just about everything. Go crazy! Use chicken stock instead of water! Add some spices! It will probably turn out very yummy.

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This also requires a blender and/or food processor. If you don’t have one of these, GET ONE. It’s an awesome investment and your taste buds will thank you. Mmmmm just looking at this awful photo makes me want tacos.

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This is just a picture of the shishito peppers I got at the farmer’s market. (Did I mention lately how much I love our CSA??) If you’ve never had them, you should try them. I just put them in here because I was snacking on them while making these tacos. All you have to do is char them and salt them and you have a really yummy snack!

Happy Taco Time!

Adobo Sauce
(adapted from Bon Appetit’s Shrimp in Adobo Sauce from June 2012.)

  • 6 dried ancho chiles, stemmed
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. Toast the dried chiles in a hot skillet until fragrant and slightly softened, about 1 minute.

For a spicier version: remove the stems but reserve the seeds. Cut the chiles into strips with a scissor
For a less spicy version: remove the stems and seeds. Cut the chiles into strips with a scissor
2. Put the strips of chiles into a bowl and pour 1 cup of hot water over. Let them steep in the hot water (turning and stirring if necessary to get everything wet) for 10 minutes. [The original recipe suggested 1/2 cup water. This makes the sauce more paste-y. This is fine, but if you’ll be cooking it in a skillet, much of the water will eventually evaporate anyways. You can also substitute chicken broth for the water, if desired.]
3. Add chiles, water, garlic, vinegar, salt, oregano, cumin and sugar (along with reserved seeds, if using) to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Process into a thick paste/sauce.
Taco-ize
The best way to cook taco chicken in the adobo sauce is to cut the chicken into cubes, marinate the raw chicken in the sauce for half an hour, and then cook it up in a skillet until the chicken is fully cooked. You can use a simliar method for shrimp or other meats. This sauce is powerful, so use sparingly with veggie tacos.
Taco Toppings!
Our favorite taco toppings are:
– Queso Quesadilla
– Sour Cream
– Pickled Red onions (see quick recipe here) or diced raw onions
– Lettuce or whatever greens are in the fridge
– Cilantro
And here’s one more picture of that awesome taco!
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p.s. Have you seen this recipe on Spoon Fork Bacon (aka my favorite guilty pleasure food blog and thus my favorite food blog)!?
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4th of July Chile-Lime Chicken Burgers

IMG_2123Hello again! It’s been a while since the last post, but summer adventures, travel, and family weddings are to blame for the lack of home-cooked meals and time spent blogging. Lauren and Bill took a West coast road-trip vacation where they got to explore Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. I took a East Coast trip to visit family in Boston and stay with friends in New York City, where I had a reunion with the girls I traveled to Prague with three years ago! And just this past week, Lauren and I got all dolled up for a Southern wedding in North Carolina where we watched our older cousin tie the knot! Needless to say, we’ve been busy in a good way. Summer is a time for reconnecting with old friends and distant family, rekindling the love with exciting new adventures, and definitely eating light (to look our best in that brand new polka-dot bikini… or whatever it is). Haha.

I figured 4th of July was a good excuse to get back to the blogging, since food is such an important part of this big celebration. Cookouts, burgers, potlucks, American beer, watermelon, star-spangled cakes and treats… it all about traditional American food, light and fresh to reflect the season. Let’s face it, no one wants to turn on the oven or even cook indoors at all (with the exception of assembly) unless absolutely necessary.

For this 4th of July I decided to make chili-lime chicken burgers. True, they are not your traditional  burger, but it reflects the area I happen to live in, San Jose.. so American it is! I got the patties from Trader Joes and dolled them up with avocado, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese, and bell peppers. I also made a simple corn black bean pepper salsa on the side for my quinoa tortilla chips. Nom nom… great snack while cooking.

After preparing my burger I made some strong lemon green tea (I thought about beer, but who wants to drink alone) with lots of ice and mint and sat down to my all-time favorite and very holiday-appropriate movie, Braveheart! Half way through the movie, I got my own personal firework show from my apartment window. I’ve never spent a 7/4 alone, but I have to say, this was one of my favorites. : )

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Chili-lime Chicken Burgers

Trader Joe’s Chili-lime burger patties

Arugula, rinsed and dried

Avocado, thinly sliced

Heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

Yellow bell pepper

Crumbled feta cheese

Plain yogurt or greek yogurt

Store-bought pita bread, halved

Black bean and corn salsa (optional)

Grill or pan-fry burgers 3-4 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, arrange fixings neatly inside pita bread leaving space for burger patty. When done cooking, place patty inside pocket and drizzle yogurt on top and serve immediately with salsa and chips, and more veggies on the side. Grab a cold drink and enjoy! Happy 4th!

 

 

 

 

 

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Moghalai-Style Chicken with Spinach, Almonds, and Raisins

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Hi Karla,

So, it’s hilarious that you just wrote a post about Indian food, because I have been cooking Indian food too! I was going to try to avoid posting these recipes for a while because (spoiler alert!) this is going to be your birthday present, but then I realized, there was no way of doing that.

People, meet 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.

Long story short, I discovered, through some friends of mine, the most amazing cookbook I’ve ever bought. This sounds like hyperbole (I have a lot of cookbooks,) but it’s not. There are a few reasons for this. 1. It has recipes for food that you have never heard of and would never have any idea how to make otherwise. Obviously, you have probably never heard of Moghalai-style anything. You would have no idea that it requires a spice mix of coriander, cloves, cumin, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, tumeric and cayenne. Most things you see in cookbooks are not that different from things that you could make normally. This is. 2. There is a reason that this stuff is so complicated. It’s amazingly good! The spice mixes will blow you away, and the experience of making them, with whole spices, and understanding how to bring out different flavors in different spices, is amazing. 3. Indian food makes really really good leftovers.

So, I, along with everyone I know who has this book, have been cooking Indian pretty non-stop since I bought it. I’ve made coconut-chile-peanut stuffed eggplant, coconut milk chicken, and now Moghalai-Style Chicken with Spinach, Almonds, and Raisins.

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One note on this recipe: The spice mix is actually a cinch to make, and you should totally do it, exactly as he says. Some of the spices require going to an Indian grocery store, but you should be pretty safe with what is in this recipe. If you don’t have whole spices, GO GET SOME. It is so worth it  to make this right, and toasting the spices makes a big difference in their flavor. If you absolutely have to substitute something with it’s ground varient, add it after you have toasted the other spices. Toasting ground spices often means burning them, and you don’t want to ruin the flavor of the other spices.

There are a lot of awesome indexes in this book that explain different ingredients and styles. So everyone should just buy the book. His explanations are clear and sometimes sassy, which is awesome. They also explain how to make your own everything, from ghee to paneer to rice and breads as well. And then there are the 660 curries.

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Moghalai-Style Chicken with Spinach, Almonds, and Raisins
(Kishmish Waale Murgh)

1/4 cup canola oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon Punjabi Garam Masala (see below)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 oz spinach fresh or frozen

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, raisins, and almonds, and cook until the onion softens and then turns dark brown with deep purple hues and the raisins turn honey-brown and look succulent, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the chicken and cook until it sears and turns light brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the garam masala, salt, cayenne, and turmeric and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Stir in the spinach and 1/2 cup water. bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low, cover the skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink inside, 5 to 10 minutes.

Punjabi Garam Masala

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds from black pods
3 cinnamon sticks broken into smaller pieces (3 inches each)
3 Fresh or dried bay leaves

1. Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the spices and the bay leaves, and toast, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until the coriander and cumin turn reddish brown, the cloves, peppercorns, and cardamom turn ash-black, thDickinson and bay leaves appear brittle and the mixture is highly fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

2. Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a plate to cool (be very careful not to burn them, as they will become unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and grind them until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. (If you don’t allow the spices to cool, the ground blend will acquire unwanted moisture from the heat, making the final blend slightly “cakey.”) The ground blend will be reddish brown and the aroma will be sweet and complex, very different from that of the pre-toasted and post-toasted whole spices.

3. Store in a tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months. (In my option, refrigerating the blend adversely affects its flavor.)

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Anything Goes Indian Stir-fry

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Tonight I got home at 9pm, after a long day of checking off all my “t0-do’s” like laundry, grocery shopping, running to target, etc. I even snuck in some time to visit a nearby lake (see pic) to get a nice walk in and watch the sunset. No, this is not my evening routine– I just felt like being alone with the outdoors. Anyway, when I got home I was so hungry, but i really wanted a nice hearty meal so I made this delicious stir-fry with some new spices I got (after reading about their nutritional benefits). There’s nothing more satisfying and comforting than asian food, and Indian is high on that list. I followed it up with some mango sorbet dusted with cinnamon, and chamomile tea. Bliss! And I’m ready for bed.. after a quick blog of course. : )

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It’s really important not to follow the recipe too closely here. After all, who has time to go out shopping during the weekday for special ingredients? And even if you do, it’s always so much more satisfying making dinner with what you already have, and using up what won’t be good much longer. The key is to combine at least a few different vegetables, some protein, starch, and tons of delicious and healthy spices/herbs. Whatever you got. To add moistness to this dish, I like to add coconut milk, something I always have on hand. But you can also use cream, clarified butter (ghee), or add a touch more oil to make a nice sauce to accompany the rice (quinoa, barley, potatoes, bread, whatever!).

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Weeknight Indian Stir-fry

*I didn’t put measurements here since you may want to make just one or two portions, or enough for lunch (to take to work) the next day

Sweet potato, broccoli, carrots (red peppers and eggplant would be good in this also, remember anything goes)

Chicken (tofu, edamame or shrimp would taste great)

Brown or white rice (quinoa, potatoes, soft bread, or any other grain works too)

Cashews

Sesame seeds

Sesame oil

Spices: Curry powder (cumin, tumeric, corriander, saffron), paprika, cayenne, dried basil

Coconut milk (remember cream, ghee, or add more oil)

Garnishes: fresh herbs, siracha, soy sauce, chopped green onion

Just boil, blanch, or steam vegetables to desired consistency and cook meat (I simmer it in water or chicken stock, turning occasionally) until just barely cooked through. Prepare rice or grain (I use packs of instant brown rice to it is ready on the stovetop in less than 10 minutes). Add oil to fry pan and add vegetables, protein, and nuts. Add sesame seeds and spices and stir until well incorporated and until nuts are starting to brown. Add coconut milk to give it a nice sauce and let simmer, stirring occasionally for  few minutes on med/low heat to let juices absorb and flavors come together. Plate on top of a bed of rice and add green onions and herbs. Serve with siracha and soy sauce–which will give it a nice kick and add the perfect saltiness). And that was all in less than 30 minutes! Enjoy!!

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Spring Pasta Dinners


As it’s nearing the end of the quarter, I’ve been making a lot of pasta to try and make some cheaper meals. One of these is a light vegetarian pasta for spring, and another very hearty and meaty. Dennis and I used the moose-meat (his idea) and made a an awesome tomato cream sauce to go with it. There’s a secret ingredient that makes it better too— plain yogurt! It’s my new favorite on pasta to make it super creamy without all the fat. Try it!

Rigatoni with Olives and Pine Nuts

Rigatoni or other pasta

Plum tomatoes, chopped

Canned green olives, chopped

Pine nuts

Good strong olive oil 

Salt + pepper

Boil pasta as directed. Meanwhile add a good amount of olive oil (enough for dressing pasta) in a saucepan and add olives, tomatoes, and pine nuts to taste. Ad salt and pepper and simmer, stirring frequently, until tomatoes are cooked and pine nuts are starting to brown. Pull off heat. Drain pasta and add olive oil mixture. Serve or top with plenty of goat cheese which will melt to make a creamy sauce, or serve by itself for a light and refreshing spring pasta. Good cold for a picnic also. 

Moose-Meat Papparedelle

Papparedelle or other pasta

Pasta sauce

Ground meat (anything goes)

Carrots, shredded or chopped

Roma tomatoes, chopped

Cream, plain yogurt or sour cream

Egg (for topping, optional)

Salt + Pepper

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, place pasta sauce in a large frying pan. Add uncooked ground meat and simmer, adding carrots and tomatoes. Stir frequently and separate meat. When meat is fully cooked, stir in cream or yogurt until desired consistency. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Place in a large bowl. Fry up an egg and top with cheese for a richer meal (I didn’t do the egg, but apparently it was great). Bon Ap!

Stuffed Chicken with cheese and herbs

Chicken breasts (or tenders, for appetizer size)

Lemon

Herbs de provence (thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc)

Goat cheese (or other cheese)

Salt + Pepper

Kitchen twine (for tying)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lay breasts on a cutting board and place plastic wrap over to cover. Pound them with a mallet or a glass jar until flattened out evenly, about 1/2 inch thick for breasts and 1/4 inch for tenders. Be careful not to break apart. Take plastic off and squeeze lemon juice on top each one. Mix cheese and herbs together in a small bowl and spoon over chicken pieces (don’t overdo it). Roll each one up and tie with string (bow) and sprinkle with more herbs, salt, pepper and more lemon juice. Place on a baking pan with sides, non-stick spray and aluminum. Bake in oven until cooked through, about 30 min for chicken breasts and 15 for tenders (check a couple times with a knife to see doneness). and Whala! Impressive and so easy. Just serve as is and let people pull their strings off themselves.

Xo, K

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French Island Supper

Last night I made MOOSE hamburgers, thanks to Dennis’s friend whose dad was hunting in Alaska recently! I just had to share that because it was a new food experience… and I always love trying something new. But on to other things, I went to Vashon Island this weekend to visit Alan and Amy. Originally, I was just planning to have dinner with them, but I ended up staying overnight and spending the following day with them going to yoga, the saturday farmer’s market, the bookstore, helping out with some garden work, and taking in some sun on their deck overlooking the Olympic mountains and the bay. It was sublime. Friday evening we celebrated my birthday by making a French supper: summer chicken, chocolate mousse, and a viognier (french white) made by their friend and winemaker who lives just down the road. The recipes are below along with some pictures from the Island. What a life!

 

The view from the porch on Vashon Island, WA

Summer Chicken (a la Francaise)

1 whole chicken

Bunch of fresh basil, washed with stems on

6-8 cups Chicken broth

5 Red or fingerling potatoes, whole or halved

Bunch of Green beans

Bunch of Carrrots, cut into chunks

Fresh parsley

4 tbsp Butter

4 tbsp All purpose flour

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1/4 cup creme fraiche

Salt & Pepper

Cook: Heat chicken broth in a large pot to to immerse chicken in, but not to cover. Stuff fresh basil in the bird, place chicken in pot (broth will not cover), and boil for about 50 min-1 hour or until chicken is fully cooked. Meanwhile, blanch vegetables in boiling salted water: 20 min for potatoes, 12 min for carrots, and 7 min for green beans. Do not overcook. Set aside. When chicken is done, set to rest on cutting board and put broth in a microwavable cup, skimming of any fat with a large spoon. Take basil out of bird and chop coarsely.

Sauce: Heat 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan until melted. Add flour and stir without browning for a minute. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth in microwave for 2 minutes (will be very hot!) and add to saucepan slowly, whisking vigorously. Whisk while roux simmers for a minute. Add dijon, creme fraiche, the chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mixture should reduce into a thick sauce. Pour into a serving pitcher or gravy boat.

Prepare: Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan and saute vegetables with fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Slice chicken and arrange pieces on a large platter. Add vegetables to platter with more fresh parsley. Pour some sauce on chicken and serve the rest on the side for people to pour themselves. Serve with crisp white wine. See dessert suggestion below.

Bottles of Viognier, french white wine, made locally from a friend

A neighbor’s chicken coup (best eggs I’ve ever had!)

Chocolate Grand Marnier Mousse with Berries

1 cup bittersweet chocolate (chocolate chips work great)

4 eggs, separated

1 tsp sugar

2/3 cup whipping cream

4 tbsp espresso, cold (brings out chocolate flavor)

2 tbsp Grand Marnier

Whipped cream, cocoa nibs, mint, & fresh raspberries for garnish

1. Melt chocolate with a bit of butter in a double boiler (or rest a large glass bowl over a small pot with a small amount of boiling water) and stir. When melted, set aside.

2. Whisk egg yolks with sugar in a medium bowl until creamy and has a ribbon effect. Add chocolate, espresso and Grand Marnier to bowl.

3. Whip cream in a chilled metal bowl until stiff peaks form (but do not over-whip). Gently fold cream into chocolate mixture with a spatula.

4. Whip egg whites until they become stiff and form peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture until mixture is uniform but still frothy.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, 4 hours for individual portioned cups. Place in bowls and garnish with whipped cream, cocoa nibs, fresh raspberries, mint, or whatever you like!

Ta da! This is so easy to make (no baking required), great for a summer evening, and fit for a birthday dessert. Cake is so last year.  🙂

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Southern Comfort

This week I made something I’ve been wanting to make for a while, southern food! I bought grits at TJ’s and have been trying to think of some different recipes besides the standard gritz n’ cheddar cheese. This grit recipe is so good even non-grits lovers will like it and the collard greens are yummy and a great way to get those greens in. Lauren, grits will always remind me of you- I have no idea why. Maybe because I associate you with anything comfort food (grits, mac n’ cheese, pot pies…). I definitely never considered myself to be a ‘comfort food’ lover, but here I go… into the unknown. 

Parmesan-Perfect Grits

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium shallot, minced

1/2 cup frozen corn 

1/4 tsp salt, to taste

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cups stone ground grits

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Parsley or chives for garnish (optional)

In a large pot melt the butter and add shallots. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Add frozen corn kernels and salt. Add water and bring to a boil. Gradually stir in the grits. Let the water return to a boil. Set burner on lowest possible setting and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 15-20 minutes. Add milk and stir for an additional 10 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in grated parmesan cheese, and cream or butter for a richer taste. 

The collard greens are very easy. I just sauteed a mix of spinach, mustard greens, and kale with some bacon, shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper for 15 minutes (until all greens are wilted and soft- make sure stems are removed) and its ready to serve alongside grits and a protein- whether sausage (like I have here), fried chicken or fish. Gotta love the southern comfort. The sauce was a leftover spicy paprika from my previous spanish patatas recipe. I just added a couple tsp of brown sugar. Enjoy!

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