Showing posts with label RW2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RW2013. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Auntie Annies

Restaurant Wars 2013 continues with a mall snack, Pretzels! I don't know about you, but when I was younger, a trip to the mall wasn't complete without stopping at the pretzel place for a snack. My mom and I would shop shop shop and then get ourselves a snack pack of pretzel sticks with spicy cheese dipping sauce.


I've never thought to make pretzels and cheese dip at home because, well, I'd have to eat it all!  It's hard to make a single serving of cheese dip! This is more of a recipe that you want to make when you have a bunch of friends coming over.  You know, for game day or a baby shower.  I'm sure pregnant ladies like cheese dip.


In addition to the classic pretzel sticks and cheese dip, I thought I would make one of the sweeter treats too.  Using the same recipe as the sticks, I threw some raisins in the dough and topped the baked pretzels with butter and cinnamon sugar.  The versatility of the dough is perfect.  Next time I'm thinking of adding the cheese to the dough and making a spicy mustard!

One Year Ago: Apricot-garlic Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes and Fennel
Two Years Ago: Peanut Butter Brownies
Three Years Ago: Pork, Cranberry & Pear Salad

Pretzels
Adapted from several sources

For the Sponge
1/2 teaspoon dried instant yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cup warm water

For the dough
1/4 teaspoon dried instant yeast
1 3/4 cup bread flour plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

For the boiling pot & bake
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 egg, beaten
Kosher or pretzel salt

For cinnamon-raisin pretzels
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon cinnamon-sugar

In a large bowl, combine ingredients for the sponge.  Stir until smooth, like pancake batter.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 2 hours.

Add yeast, 1 3/4 cups flour, salt and brown sugar to the sponge and stir until combined and form a ball. (Add raisins if using) Work in remaining 2 tablespoons flour to form a stiff dough.  Knead dough by hand for 10 minutes (or 6 minutes in the stand mixer with a dough hook).  Divide into 6 pieces of equal weight (about 4.5 ounces) and let rest for 20 minutes.

Form each piece into a long rope, about 24 inches long.  For pretzel sticks, cut the rope into 2-inch pieces.  For pretzels, form into the classic knot shape (see great pictures here).  Cover pretzels with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 ºF.  Place a baking stone in the oven along with a broiler pan.

Bring pot of water to a boil and add baking soda and cream of tartar.  Be careful, it will bubble up!  Boil pretzel sticks in small batches for 2 minutes, flip and boil for another minute.  Boil large pretzels one at a time for 2 minutes, flip and boil for another minute.  Remove from the bath to a kitchen towel dusted with flour.  Let dry for 5 minutes before moving to a baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt.

Bake on the baking sheet, or slide onto hot baking stone.  Pour 1 cup hot water into the broiler pan and close the oven door.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.

For cinnamon-raisin pretzels, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.  Enjoy hot!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2014 - Red Mango

Happy Halloween everyone!  Have you picked out your costume, bought bite sized candy bars for the trick-or-treaters and spookified your house?  Personally, I haven't done any of those things...  Living in an apartment really takes me out of the whole - dress up and have a wild and crazy Halloween - thing.  But I have been making lots of treats because I really do love this holiday.  It's the beginning of all the holiday fun!


Today we are going to celebrate Halloween and continue with Restaurant Wars 2013!  I meant to complete this challenge in the summer, because that's when you eat frozen yogurt, but I got side-tracked with unemployment!  Instead of making you a summer frozen yogurt, I decided to mimic the Red Mango fall favorite - Pumpkin spice!


The first time I had Red Mango frozen yogurt, it was probably two years ago.  The Boyfriend and I went in and each got a big bowl and topped it with chocolate sauce.  We each took a bite and were shocked with the flavor.  It was not what we were expecting!  The yogurty flavor screams out from the vanilla Red Mango and it was such a surprise.  We both wondered what was wrong with the ice cream!


I've come to love the unique flavor of their frozen yogurt, but the BF insists on going to the place just down the street that has a more neutral flavor base.  Last week I headed to Red Mango, twice, just to be sure I got the flavors right. Personally, my favorite flavor combination is the classic frozen yogurt topped with raspberries and chocolate sauce.  I also had their pumpkin spice topped with caramel.


So before you put your ice cream maker away for the winter, whip up a batch of pumpkin spice frozen yogurt.  You'll be so happy that you did!


One Year AgoPumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two Years AgoPumpkin Raisin Muffins
Three Years AgoPear Cake with Pine Nuts

Pumpkin Spice Frozen Yogurt
A Wilde Original

32 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix all ingredients together.

For a smooth frozen yogurt, freeze in an ice cream maker for about 10-15 minutes.  Eat right away for a soft serve feel.  Freeze for 1 hour for a harder frozen yogurt.

For a more icy frozen yogurt, place mixture in an air-tight container and place in the freezer.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Swiss Chalet

My friends north of the border and those lucky ones in the border states know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention Swiss Chalet. Images of rotisserie chicken, golden fries and that classic Chalet sauce all come to mind. 

I grew up in Western New York, just a hop away from Canada, and we had several Swiss Chalet restaurants in town. My mom actually worked at the Chalet before I was born, so it must be in my blood. Having lunch at the Chalet was always on my list of things to do when I come home for a visit.  The BF and I even walked two miles once to get some chicken while visiting Canada on a cruise!


This all changed three years ago when all of the WNY Swiss Chalets closed.  Not only did they close, but they razed the buildings to the ground.  (I kind of wished the burnt them down.  With all the chicken grease in the walls, those buildings would have gone up in a second!)  Now the only way for Buffalonians to enjoy the Chalet is to take a trip across the border, and they do.  My parents head across the bridge a few times a year for dinner.

Even with the inside information from my mom, there was very little chance that I could duplicate the classic Chalet sauce.  According to my mom, the restaurant receives a bag of spices from headquarters.  They then mix the spices with water and simmer for hours.  Even the employees don't know what's in the sauce.


Luckily you too can buy the spice packages!  Just in a much more manageable size.  This sauce is available in Canadian grocery stores, some border stores and a few websites.  After hearing about BuffaloFoods.com during a hockey game, I checked it out and stocked up on all my hometown favorites.  Loganberry soda, Anchor Bar wing sauce and Swiss Chalet dipping sauce!

Nothing in this meal is overly tricky.  Grilled chicken (because the grocery store was out of rotisserie chickens!) and fries with a big bowl of Chalet sauce.  I was concerned that the sauce would pale in comparison to the restaurant stuff, but it was spot on!  I need to order more because it brought me right home.


Order yourself some Chalet sauce and enjoy a little taste of Canada!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Panera

Restaurant Wars 2013 continues today with Panera!  The Boyfriend and I actually live within walking distance to the town Panera, which means we eat there at least once a week.  Usually in the winter, we eat there almost exclusively.  Mostly because it gets cold here in the winter and it's the closest restaurant to our apartment.  Seriously, it's better to walk there than it is to get in a cold car and drive anywhere else.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Dairy Queen

I've been slacking on my 2013 challenge.  It's funny really.  Since I've been unemployed I have had more time to complete the challenges, but I haven't finished one since May!  Today marks me getting back on the horse and starting the second half of the year with a delicious bang.

Today's challenge is perfectly timed with this hot weather that has been blanketing the country.  It's ice cream related.  My challenge restaurant this week is Dairy Queen!


The vast menu of DQ gave me lots of options to choose from for my challenge.  From Blizzards to Peanut Buster parfaits, waffle bowl sundaes to Dilly bars, most of treats are made from soft serve ice cream and different inclusions.  What I usually order when I head to DQ is a vanilla cone, dipped in cherry red shell.  Simple, delicious.  Love it.


There are lots of recipes out there for chocolate magic shell.  Simple combine chocolate chips with some coconut oil and you've made yourself magic shell.  Cherry magic shell is a little bit more tricky.  I had to make a few batches to get this one right.  I started out with white chocolate and coconut oil, with cherry extract.  That batch tasted like coconut magic shell.  Not quite what I was going for.


Batch two I swapped out the coconut oil for grape seed oil.  Grape seed oil is perfect for this because it lends no flavor to the magic shell.  It wasn't there yet, because the cherry flavor wasn't strong enough.  That red stuff from Dairy Queen really tastes like cherries.  Well, fake cherry flavoring actually.  I decided to swap out the cherry extract for cherry candy oil.  It's a much more potent flavoring and matched with a little vanilla extract, made for just the right combination.  I threw in a big dash of red food coloring and I finally came out with magic in a jar.


Now I don't need to drive halfway across New Jersey to get myself a DQ vanilla cone.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Cheesecake Factory

I wonder why I don't make cheesecake very often.


No wait, I know exactly why I don't make cheesecake very often.  It's because I would weigh nine hundred pounds.  Cheesecake is delicious and I have no self control around it.  This is why I was so excited about having the Cheesecake factory next on my list.  I was looking forward to that cheesecake menu.


For the most part, I have never been that impressed with the Cheesecake Factory's food menu.  I think it's because they have way too many options.  I want a menu with ten to fifteen great options, not seven pages of  sandwiches, burgers, pasta and entrees.  The power that Cheesecake Factory holds over me is in their two page cheesecake menu.



Boyfriend and I enjoyed a pretty basic lunch.  Apparently Cheesecake Factory realized that most of their menu items were super high in calories and has introduced a Skillylicious menu.  I ordered a salad and BF got a lunch-sized portion of pasta carbonara.  (He really likes carbonara and will order it off of just about any menu)  Since it was lunchtime, there was no way I was going to be able to eat my salad and a slice of cheesecake.  Luckily, they have these great to go boxes!


I asked the waitress which two cheesecakes were their most popular.  She suggested their white chocolate-raspberry cheesecake and their limited edition Oreo cheesecake.  I took a slice of each home and found out that I would be eating all of this cheesecake myself.  Boyfriend apparently doesn't like cheese in his dessert.  And he was the whole reason I got the Oreo cheesecake!  I guess I'm still learning new things about the guy I've been with for over ten years!


And you would all be so proud of me!  I had total self control with these two slices of cheesecake.  I had a bite of each once we got home from our day out and promptly put them in the fridge.  It took me until the end of the week to finish eating them!  I think it took me so long, because they weren't mindblowingly delicious.  The limited edition Oreo cheesecake was uber rich and had four layers of mousse, cheesecake, ganache and crumb.  It was just too much, you can see how it was falling over after a short ride in the car.  The white chocolate-raspberry cheesecake was half and half.  The top layer was amazing, but the raspberry-less bottom layer was just meh.


I decided to neglect the entire food menu of Cheesecake factory and try to recreate their white chocolate-raspberry cheesecake, in miniature form.  There was no way that I was going to have an entire 10-inch cheesecake sitting in my house, so my recipe makes six cupcake sized cakes!  I can handle having that many cute little cheesecakes in the house (especially since I'm the only one living in this apartment who likes cheesecake!).

Make these mini cheesecakes at home and enjoy the best part of going out to dinner at the Factory.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - California Pizza Kitchen

First off today, I have to say Happy Anniversary!!! to Boyfriend.  It's been ten years since our first date.  Ten years, seven cities, nine different apartments, over twenty different countries, we're like our own little Amazing Race.  That's right, BF and I have been a couple for a whole decade.  You might ask why we aren't yet engaged or married.  My answers generally vary from 'We've only been living together for 2 years' to 'We're really busy' to 'If I get engaged, then I have to plan a wedding.'  We'll get around to it before all this food blogging catches up to us and I can't fit into a size 4 wedding dress!


Now, back to the reason for todays post - Restaurant Wars 2013!  It's been almost a month since my last RW post because I've been out of town so much recently!  March and April found be travelling to my hometown for a long weekend and to Washington, DC for a work conference.  I also spent my weekend mornings training for my half marathon.  I reorganized my RW schedule based on restaurants that are close to our apartment and therefore easy weeknight meals!


This week brought us to California Pizza Kitchen, on a surprisingly busy night.  Our CPK is located inside of a mall, like most locations these days, and tends to be a popular place for dinner.  It would be forty-five minutes if we wanted a table.  How long for the bar?  You can sit down right now!  I highly reccommend sitting at the bar at CPK.  The bartenders are fun and lead to quick drink service.  You can also watch all the pizzas being made and get good views of the TVs.


Personally, I love all of the unusual pizzas at CPK.  I always wind up with their pear & gorgonzola, spicy Korean BBQ or Jamaican Jerk pizza.  BF is more of a classic pizza fan.  Meat and cheese is his go to pizza.  This trip to CPK was no different - I went with the Thai chicken pizza and BF got the Meat cravers.  Apparently vegetables have no place on a pizza in BFs world. 

When it came to reproducing CPK at home, I had a little leg up.  While browsing the local bookstore in Montclair, I stumbled upon this book.  Published in 1996, previously owned, this cookbook cost me $8.  Deal.  The best thing about this version of the cookbook (they have updated it twice since the original was published), this book contains several pizzas that are no longer offered on the CPK menu.  Like BF's favorite - The Rosemary Chicken and Potato Pizza.


 I remember heading to CPK in the early years of our relationship and ordering this pizza.  He's been upset ever since it was pulled from the menu.  When I discovered the recipe in my new cookbook, I knew this would be the recipe to make for RW - CPK.  The only problem, this recipe is so involved.


It took me almost two hours from chopping the first clove of garlic to when I pulled the pizza out of the oven.  You can prepare some things in advance (which I should have done, but I neglected to read the recipe ahead of time, bad blogger) and shave some time off of the prep.  I have also reorganized the directions, to allow you to multitask during the cooking process.

Make this pizza, it is delicious.  And according to Boyfriend, very close to the original.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Restaurant Wars - Red Lobster

I have two complaints when it comes to Red Lobster.  First, the wait.  I have never once walked into this restaurant and gotten a table right away.  It could be three o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon and you could walk in to find a forty minute wait.  Second, the service.  I'm sure it stems from the really long wait and all the people wanting to sit down and eat, but the service you get is more along the lines of - sit down, eat your food and get out.  Red Lobster isn't the European, sit as long as you'd like, linger over a cup of coffee and dessert, kind of place.  Don't take your time, eat your food and give up that table!


The reason we come to RL?  The cheddar bay biscuits of course.  Isn't that why everyone goes there?  That and I don't cook a lot of fish at home because someone won't eat it.  Eating out is the best way for me to get my lobster, fish and shellfish fix.  When ordering out, I get to order the shmorgasboard of shrimp, lobster and fish meal! 


So after waiting almost fifty minutes for our table, Boyfriend and I ordered.  He got his favorite chicken linguine dish and I loaded up on broiled fish and shellfish.  I was trying to order something that wasn't super greasy, apparently broiling also requires heaps of butter, because my dinner was still floating in oil.  To was Boyfriends pasta, but that's just the way he likes it.  We ate lots of cheesey biscuits and had almost all of our dinners to take home.


For our Red Lobster dinner at home, I had to split it into two nights.  There was no way that I could make a pasta dinner and a fish and shrimp dinner at the same time.  As much as I would like to tell you that Boyfriend helps out in the kitchen, his kitchen skills begin and end at heating.  He's had a few culinary masterpieces, but for the most part he's a prepared food preparer. 


Sunday night we had spicy chicken linguine with my own take on cheddar bay biscuits.  Monday night I threw some chicken in the fridge for Boyfriend while I prepared myself some lemon tilapia and shrimp scampi.  I'm in love with the way the chicken and pasta turned out.  It was much lighter than the restaurant meal, but so full of flavor.  It's perhaps because I used an aged parmesan cheese that was amazing.  I wanted to eat it by the chunk.


Monday nights fish dinner was a little tricky to pull together, mostly because fish cooks so fast.  The fish was ready to go much faster than the shrimp and I wasn't ready to juggle all these things (I was also preparing broccoli, stuffing and Boyfriends chicken!).  The shrimp scampi was much lighter than what I got at the restaurant, mostly because I cooked the shrimp in half butter/half olive oil.  My tilapia was simply cooked in a little butter and spritzed with some lemon.  Simple and delicious.


If you only make one thing from this post, make the biscuits!  Oh man, I think I ate four or five of these Sunday night.  I totally deserved it after that long, four-mile run.  There are many recipes for these biscuits online, but they almost all utilize Bisquick.  I was looking to make them entirely from scratch.  With a little tweaking, I think what I came out with was amazing.  If you aren't a salt freak like I am, maybe cut the garlic salt in half.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Olive Garden

The biggest problem with going to Olive Garden? Getting a table. It seems no matter what day of the week you go, you will be waiting for a table unless you arrive at three o'clock for dinner. Yet for some reason, people are willing to wait over an hour for soup, salad and bread sticks. Well wait no more, make it all at home.

In order to test out the OG, boyfriend and I ventured out to dinner on a very specific night. February 13th. This year February 13th was both the day before Valentine's day and Ash Wednesday. When we arrived at 7:30, we were escorted right to a waiting booth. That's a first in my book.

The person who really likes OG in my house is BF. He calls it classic Italian comfort food. What you would want your bowl of carbonara to look and taste like. The dishes are all simple, straightforward and require no fancy words to describe. It's not the food your Italian grandmother would prepare, unless she was cooking for two dozen. 

To keep with that classic OG menu, BF and I both got simple dishes. BF went with a chicken Parmesan and I decided on a chicken and shrimp carbonara. Both meals came with the traditional OG soup/salad and bread sticks, and I ordered a cherry Italian soda to round out my meal.

First, do not order the cherry Italian soda unless you have a real love of children's cough syrup. It was dead on in flavor and probably had twice the amount of sugar. I took a sip and ordered a water as replacement.

Next, the general rule with the bread sticks is a follows - eat them before they get cold or prepare to sword fight with them. Once these little gems cool off, they take on a other worldly strength. I had ideas on how to avoid this issue at home.


Our meals were just as expected. BF dove into his chicken Parmesan whole heartily, until he realized he ate too many bread sticks and couldn't eat anymore. My carbonara came out looking creamy and delicious, and incredibly oily. I found out the next day as I had my leftovers just how much oil was in my dish. I love carbonara and this was good, it's just not something I could eat on a regular basis.

The plan for home. Recreate the OG experience from bread sticks to salad to main course. Lighten the fat load and try to maintain the flavors. 


Olive Garden salad at home is pretty easy.  The salad itself is just lettuce, pepperoncini, black olives, red onions and croutons.  Black olives are gross, so I omitted those.  It's pretty true to when I go to the restaurant.  The dressing has quite a few copycat recipes online that I based my final recipe on and apparently those are very similar to the actual OG recipe (I couldn't believe that they actually use mayonnaise in their recipe).  Where I took a big left turn is with my carbonara recipe.

Want easy and delicious bread sticks?  You need two ingredients.  Pizza dough and garlic salt.  I used a pre-made pizza dough from the grocery store and cut in into eight pieces.  I rolled each piece into a bread stick-like shape and spritzed them with cooking spray.  After a light sprinkle with garlic salt and eighteen minutes in the oven, we had bread sticks that didn't harden up in two minutes.  A little denser than the OG variety, but BF and I both liked the pizza dough sticks better.


The OG carbonara dish I received was covered in cheese and dripping in oil.  I made a simple and classic carbonara with grilled chicken.  BF was a little sad that my version wasn't under a layer of cheese, but it was something I could actually have before going to the gym.  After our dinner at the OG, we went home and melted into the couch.

Next time you want some Olive Garden and don't want to wait for a table, just pick up a few ingredients and make it at home!  Or you could sit in the bar area, they serve the full menu at the bar and the wait is usually much shorter!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Restaurant Wars - Chipotle

I first stepped foot into a Chipotle restaurant over ten years ago in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. I was a first year grad student and had enough of my friend Bhavesh tell me how many burritos he'd eaten that week. I had to try it out for myself. There was only one problem, I'd never had a burrito quite like this before.

In Western New York we grew up eating Mighty taco. There were few other options when it came to quick tacos. Their menu consisted of soft and hard tacos, filled with beef, cheese, sour cream and "Mighty sauce." Whatever that was.


During my college years, at UB in WNY, a burrito place opened up boasting burritos the size of your head. Being of the female persuasion, that didn't really appeal to me. My guy friends were happy to go there and eat six pounds of runny beans, poorly cooked meat and scorched cheese but I begged off and stayed home those nights.


With grad school came a broadening of my palate and the introduction of healthy burrito options. Bhavesh dragged us all to Chipotle, where he really did eat five burritos a week, and introduced us to what would become a weekly treat. Sometimes twice weekly when we had late exams and only time for one meal.


Chipotle has really spread across the country since my first visit back in 2003. Even Amherst, NY now boasts a location and they're always the last to get anything good! I have gone from solely eating soft tacos, to only getting the spiciest fajita burrito. After the advent of the online calorie counter my order swiftly switched to the chicken salad and these days I'll go back and forth between a salad and a bowl. I'm sure your own ordering process has changed through the years too.


I was more than happy to have Chipotle as the first restaurant on my war list. bf and I go there a few times a month and my coworkers regularly visit for lunch. I could definitely go for a burrito bowl or salad without the long drive! I decided to try and recreate my two go-to dishes for this challenge. Here's the verdict.


First, it took forever to prepare everything that I needed to make these two dishes. I made three salsas, salad dressing, chicken marinade. I prepped and chopped lettuce, tomatoes, untold numbers of jalapeño pepper and squeezed more limes than I can count. I actually ran out of limes and had to go back to the store for more. I really could have used a staff to help me prep everything. I planned on making this meal for dinner Monday, so I spent two hours on sunday afternoon doing all the prep work.


Next, dinner came together really quickly Monday night, though I nearly drove us out of our apartment. The marinade for the chicken smelled wonderful, but when the chicken came in contact with the grill pan - it was like I set off a pepper bomb. BF and I were both coughing because of the spiciness in air. Maybe grill your chicken outside, or you'll this the police have sent the seat team to your house.


Lastly, adobo seasoning is not the same as adobo sauce. I looked everywhere for a jar of adobo seasoning. I knew it existed because my grocery list app had it programmed into its memory. However, after six different grocery stores I had to give up. Maybe I need to locate a well stocked Hispanic grocery in my area? I wound up buying a jar or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and fishing out he sauce I needed.


You can totally cheat on the prep work and buy your favorite mild salsa or salsa verde. I even shredded my own cheese mixture, which you could skip and buy a pre-shredded Mexican-style cheese blend. For the Chipotle flavor though, you can't skip marinating your chicken, making your own fresh corn salsa, tossing your rice with lime juice and blending up a batch of their salad dressing. At least make the salad dressing, after a bit of tweaking of some other recipes I found - it's almost like being there.

One year ago: Chocolate-Peppermint Marshmallows
Two years ago: Homemade Butterfinger Bars

Chipotle recipes - These have all been adapted from so many different "Copy-cat" recipes online. I changed them all a little to try and get as close as possible to the real thing. Be sure to go out and get yourself a bottle of green Tabasco sauce too, because it isn't complete without a dash of heat!

Salsa verde

4 tomatillos, husks removed
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic
2 Cubanelle peppers
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Juice from 1/2 lime

Turn on your oven broiler.  Place tomatillos, onion quarters, garlic cloves and peppers 4-5 inches below the broiler.  Broil for 5 minutes, turn the vegetable over and broil for another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Peel the charred skin from the peppers, chop in half and remove the seeds.  Combine all of the ingredients except the salt in a food processor or blender.  Pulse to combine, leave the salsa a little chunky.  Give the salsa a taste, season with salt if you desire.  Transfer to an air-tight jar and keep in the fridge.


Mild tomato salsa

4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.  Transfer to an air-tight jar and store in the fridge.
Cheese blend

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
8 ounces Mild white cheddar cheese
Place cheese blocks in the freezer for 10-20 minutes.  This will make it easier to shred.  Shred and combine both cheeses.  So simple!

Chipotle brown rice

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
Juice from 1 lime
Juice for 1/2 lime
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Pour 1 cup brown rice into 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to low.  Let simmer for 40 minutes.  Once the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, add citrus juice and cilantro.  Toss to combine.
Fresh Corn salsa

2 cups corn kernals (fresh or frozen)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced small
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients and transfer to an air-tight container.  Store in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.

Chipotle Chicken marinade

1 ounce dried ancho chilies
3 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 red onion, quartered
1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
4 chicken breasts

Add boiling water to dried ancho chilies and let hydrate for 2 hours or up to overnight.

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and transfer to a large bowl.  Poke chicken breasts with a fork and pierce all over.  Add chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight.

When ready to cook.  Remove chicken from the marinade and shake off excess bits of pepper.  Grill in a well-ventilated area!

Honey-Chipotle salad dressing


1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Combine first six ingredients in a blender.  Pulse to combine.  With blender running, slowly stream in olive oil.  Serve over any salad for a tangy and sweet take on your usual salad.
Yum, delicious.

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