Showing posts with label salsa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salsa. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chile-spiced Chicken with Mango Salsa

How is it August 6th already?  It was just fourth of July like two days ago!  This summer is running away from me and I'm even unemployed and can enjoy every day in the sun.

July was jam-packed with travel.  I spent a week in Buffalo, visiting family I hadn't seen in years, eating locals treats and playing with my parents puppies.  After that I was in Arizona with BF for another week, sweating it out in the Phoenix heat, being awed by amazing geography and taking the longest hike I've even done in my life.

Upon our return from Arizona, we returned to New Jersey to find milder temperatures and rain.  Lots of rain.  That's okay though.  I use the rainy days to focus on my future career plans.  I'm really ready to head back to work after three months off.  I'm running out of things to do at home and I really miss working in the lab!  I'm going to try to make the most of my remaining time off (which hopefully isn't too much more!) and enjoy the last few weeks of summer!  Mostly by eating more fruit.

I made this chicken dinner last week and knew I would love it.  I also knew that BF would leave every last bit of mango on his plate.  He just really doesn't like fruit.  Such a weirdo!  Personally I love fruit with savory dishes and loved the mango salsa with the spice rubbed chicken.  I also got to use one of my new OXO tools - the mango splitter!  While it's totally easy to pit a mango without one, it took about three seconds to pit the mango with it!  I also thought I would show my step-by-step how-to cut a mango pics.  Now you know and it's so much easier than you thought!

Thanks go to OXO for sending me an amazing package of summer fruit tools, including this mango splitter, through the blogger outreach program.  All opinions about the tools are my own, but I have yet to find an OXO tool that doesn't do it's job!  Check out some of their fruit tools and enjoy the summers bounty!

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 jalapeƱo 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.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chicken Tacos and Corn Relish

What happens when it's time to celebrate something huge?

Taco night!!!

That's right, we're celebrating in the Wilde household today because I've made it one whole year at my new job!  Well, technically my anniversary was July 6th, but we were busy doing the fourth of July thing, then I was busy being sick, so TODAY we celebrate.  (And by today, I mean we had this for dinner last night...  Stay with me on this one).

Yes, I have passed the one year mark as a medicinal chemist and it feels great! 

When I was a student for all those years, I looked forward to being done and moving on.  The five years I spent as a grad student in Madison were great, but I couldn't wait to defend my thesis.  The two years I spent as a postdoc were fun, busy and intellectually stimulating, but I couldn't wait to start job hunting.  Now that I'm in the real world, with a job working in my chosen field, it's a total change in perspective - I want to stay right where I am.

I've learned so much this year and there is still so much more to know.  My job is special.  Why is that?  In order to become a really good medicinal chemist, I need to know what is going on in every facet of a project.  I need to not only understand the chemistry and chemical matter, I also need to know the biology, pharmacology, genetics, clinical indications, formulations and still more things that I don't even understand yet.  I've still got a lot of information to stuff into my brain!  Here's to another year working hard in the real world.  Let's celebrate with tacos!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fish (or Chicken) and Mango Salsa & Honey-roasted Parsnips

This past weekend was a sweet one.  In preparation for April 2012 (the month I have declared "Candy Month!) I spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  Some successes, some failures, a whole lot of sugar, chocolate and spices.

Since I spent the majority of my time working with sugar, I wanted something quick to eat for dinner.  It was then that I remembered that I had not yet taste tested my Mrs. Paul's Parchment Bakes!  I was very excited about being selected as a tastemaker for the particular product because I am terrible when it comes to making fish.  Go ahead and have a look in my recipe archive, you will find zero recipes that include fish.

I always have the same problems when it comes to cooking fish.  First, the house always smells like fish for days!  No matter how fresh the fish is, it always leaves its scent behind.  Second, I generally overcook it.  I haven't quite gotten the skills to determine when a fish fillet is done.  Finally, I never know what to pair it with.  Since I don't cook fish a lot, I never know what kind of sauce to pair with it.  I've made some bad decisions in the past!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mrs. Pauls took care of all of my complaints!  I went with the classic grilled tilapia since I wanted to add a mango salsa to the fish.  It went in the oven (in its own little parchment bag) and came out perfectly done.  The fish was flakey and moist.  The sauce was mild and paired well with the salsa.  The final bit of wonderful?  While the fish was flavorful and tasty, the house didn't smell like fish at all.  Mrs. Paul's, you've got yourself a winner here.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a sample of Mrs. Pauls Parchment Bakes.  All comments and opinions are my own.  If you want to give this product a try, here is a coupon for buy one, get one!  (Good through March 30)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snack Week Begins! - Fruit Salsa

Welcome to Snack Week! An overwhelming percentage of you decided that you would like healthy options for your afternoon snacking. While I’m a big fan of the 3pm Snickers bar I think that my body is craving something a little more nutritious. How can I tell? Because I’m sick.

After coming back from Christmas break, I neglected to buy any groceries. Let’s blame long hours at work, snow and plain old laziness. So for two weeks I’ve been living on the staples in my pantry. Pasta, pre-made sauce, dried beans and rice. Luckily I had some chicken in the freezer or I would have starved or had some serious muscle failure. Luckily, I only have to feed myself. If I had a pet or husband to feed they would have ran away from home, or at least been slightly less lazy than I and ordered a pizza.

Snack week is not only filled with healthy, small portion foods, but it is jam-packed with fruits and vegetables. I’m trying to knock out the sore throat virus with some vitamins and minerals! While at the store this week I stocked up on fruits, veggies and whole grains. I did forget to buy cold medicine though, so instead, I’m going to go to sleep at 9 o’clock tonight. I’m very excited about that.

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