Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Fourth of July everyone! What are you making for your 4th of July BBQ this year? Usually I do ribs and salads... or Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Smokey Mac and Cheese..... I usually have a LOT of family in my back yard and it's been fun. After we eat, we usually play games, have face painting for the kids, visit and have a great family party. We even light our own fireworks..... but my family has grown. I am 7 of nine children and each of my brothers and sisters are getting lots of grandchildren and their families have grown.
So this year we all decided to do our own 4th of July Barbecues
I am having my wonderful mother-in-law and my parents will be here, and both of my kids will be home. Andrew is even bringing 5 of his roomies home. I may have a brother and sister come that don't have any kids coming home so my party will be a little smaller but fun.
I'm going to switch things up a knotch and have a taco bar this year..... with pulled Pork and pineapple salsa tacos and Pico de Gallo and Guacamole. I might make some Cilantro ColeslawRe fried Beans and Mexican Rice... and maybe have sliced watermelon and other fruits and a veggie plate. For dessert nothing is more American than root beer floats and I think I'll make Apple Crisp with ice cream and Carmel drizzled over the top... How does that sound?? I think YUMMO!
Whatever you cook, have a fun day and enjoy your family and be safe.
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Santa Fe Salad with Cilantro-Lime-Peanut Vinaigrette


Just got back from spending the weekend with my daughter in Salt Lake city. While there we HAD to eat at Cheesecake factory and one of my fav things is to get the Santa Fe Salad... Love the Cilantro-Lime peanut dressing. I have tried to make it before and came close but when I ran across this clone of it  I just had to give it a try....and it was delicious. You can find the original recipe here but I did tweaked it a bit to my taste which is the way I'm posting it. You can marinate and grill your chicken or use up leftover chicken. I hope you enjoy as much as I did! YUMMO!

Santa Fe Salad with Cilantro-Lime-Peanut
Vinaigrette
Ingredients
4 grilled chicken breasts, Sliced into thin strips
1 head romaine or leaf lettuce ( or packaged salad Spring mix)
1 large tomato, diced
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed
1 (16 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup fresh cilantro, stems cut off
1 1/2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1 avocado, diced
2 cups toasted corn tortilla strips **see tip at the bottom

Cilantro-lime-peanut vinaigrette
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (I used 1/2 of a bunch)
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (or 1 scant Tablespoon of the minced or garlic in a tube)
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. lime zest (approx. zest of one lime)
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon of water or so (If necessary)

Method
To make vinaigrette, mix the first 10 ingredients in a food processor. Then slowly add olive oil to
mixture, and blend until smooth. Add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Add water if your dressing is thicker than you like and blend again for a 2nd or two.
****You can add more or less peanut butter, lime juice or honey to adjust to your taste. Just experiment a bit.
To prepare salad,  slice cooked chicken into thin strips.
Wash and dry the lettuce, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Mix in cilantro then dress with desired amount of vinaigrette. Toss so your lettuce is evenly coated.
Divide the mixture between the four plates, and top each salad with chicken, then cheese,  corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado and then tortilla strips. Finish with freshly-ground black pepper.
Enjoy!!
Inspired by The Cheesecake Factory--this is what the dressing looks like. I store my leftover in this handy dressing bottle...it has a plunger in it so I can re-mix when eating it again.

**Tip: Ok, I may be overly enthusiastic about these little tortilla strips -- love them!! In case you've never
purchased them, they are usually available at the grocery store, often found in the salad dressing aisle. (I
found these at Kesler's market ) If you feel like going the extra mile, though, they're simple to make homemade. Just cut up your favorite flour or corn tortillas into 3 even columns, and then cut them again horizontally into matchsticks. Add salt or other seasonings if you'd like. Then pop them in the oven (or toaster oven - yay!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chicken Fajitas

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while...I seem to have run out of recipes.... and I've been trying to not eat flour and sugar too much lately. But I ran across this recipe for Fajitas in my new Cooks Country Illustrated recipe book and tweaked it just a bit of coarse. Instead of using Flour tortilla's we put ours on Corn tortillas so it was more like a Fajita taco. I've posted a recipe for the creamy poblano peppers before but it had corn in it .. this one did not, and I used skim milk and light cream cheese instead of heavy cream to lighten it up a bit. I also used my spicy dilly beans as a garnish... gave it some crunch!  Enjoy! Also the next morning I made omelets with the leftover chicken and poblanos... delicious!!!
Chicken Fajitas
Adapted From America's Test Kitchen episode: Chicken Classics, Improved.
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS:
CHICKEN:
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 1/2teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to 1/2-inch thickness

RAJAS CON CREMA:
1 pound (3 to 4) poblano chiles, stemmed, halved, and seeded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
4 oz. low fat cream cheese
¼ cup milk ( I used skim milk)
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 – 12 (6-inch) flour tortillas, warmed (I used corn tortillas)
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
Grated cheese for garnishing
Spice Dilly beans and carrots (if desired)
Lime wedges
INSTRUCTIONS
1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Whisk 3 tablespoons oil, lime juice, garlic, paprika, sugar, salt, cumin, pepper, and cayenne together in bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 60 minutes.
2. FOR THE RAJAS CON CREMA: Mean­while, adjust oven rack to highest position and heat broiler. Arrange poblanos, skin side up, on aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet and press to flatten. Broil until skin is charred and puffed, 4 to 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through cooking. Transfer poblanos to bowl, cover, and let steam for 10 minutes. Rub majority of skin from poblanos and discard (preserve some skin for flavor); slice into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Adjust oven racks to middle and lowest positions and heat oven to 200 degrees.
OR you can heat your outdoor grill on hi and place the peppers on the grill. Close lid and time for about 3 to 4 minutes till the skin starts to blister, turn and time again for 3 to 4 minutes. Continue turning and cooking until the outside is mostly all blistered and charred in spots. Then remove from grill to a large bowl and cover with saran wrap and let steam and cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Peel the skin from the peppers and discard. Slice into 1/4-inch thick strips. 
3. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until charred and just softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add cream cheese and milk; cook, stirring frequently, until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add poblano strips, lime juice, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. Cover and set aside while you cook the chicken.
4. Remove chicken from marinade and wipe off excess. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in another 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook without moving it until bottom side is well charred, about 4 minutes. Flip chicken; transfer skillet to lower oven rack. Bake until chicken registers 160 degrees, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes; do not wash out skillet.
OR you can grill your chicken on your outside grill on medium high heat. Depending on the thickness of the chicken I cook 5 to 7 minutes per side (mine is usually pretty thin so I go for the 5 minutes per side) Cook until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink in the middle, or is about 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.

5. Slice chicken crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Return chicken strips to skillet and toss to coat with pan juices. To serve, spoon few pieces of chicken into center of warmed tortilla and top with spoonful of vegetable mixture, cilantro, and Spicy Dilly beans and carrots or grated cheese. Serve with lime wedges.