Chicken with escabeche sauce

Despite the fairly high number of Asian dishes on this site, Mexican food is by far my favorite cuisine. I love it all. The seasoned meat, tortillas, fresh flour ones topped with butter and hot sauce or crispy corn pieces pilled high with salsa, oh, and salsa! I could eat salsa by the buckets. I have a theory that Hubster’s parents liked me initially because I would put down copious amounts of their homemade salsa and gladly take jars home. Food = Love in that family. (I fit right in.) Oh and cheese. Let’s not forget the cheese. Heck, sometimes, let’s just eat cheese.

Mmmm… queso…

 

 

I think I blacked out for a minute. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, my infatuation with Mexican food.

Thanks to the wormhole we lovingly call the Internet, I found this recipe for chicken with escabeche sauce. A Pinterest recipe that didn’t seem quite right led to a Google search, which led to Rick Bayless, one of my favorite pseudo celebrity chefs who specializes in authentic Mexican fare. Though I had no idea what escabeche sauce tasted like, I knew it had spices and vinegar. Oh, vinegar you get me every time.

 

I almost skipped roasting the garlic… but Rick is a Master and I’m in no place to question his expertise. So I roasted garlic, broiled peppers, mashed up a seasoning paste, pickled shallots (my only rif thanks to my negligence at picking up a red onion at the store) and grilled chicken. This recipe is not for a weeknight… or a weekend where you don’t have time to roast garlic. This recipe IS heaven. Flavor, heat and… no cheese… It’s not needed. This clean meal is ideal for those times when you have to have Mexican but don’t want to see the scale tick up one more notch. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it. Your mouth will be sending out plenty of happy signals thanks to the punch of vinegar, warm poblanos and perfectly cooked chicken. Grab a piece of everything and you’ll have a near perfect (albeit cheese-less) bite.

 

Grilled Chicken with Escabeche Sauce
Modified ever so slightly from Rick Bayless

Pickled shallots
1 cup water
1 lime
1 large shallot
3/4 tsp salt

Seasoning paste
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt
2 – 3 boneless chicken breasts

Escabeche
2 poblano peppers
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
Chopped cilantro, for serving

Juice the lime to get 2 tablespoons of juice. Bring the water to a boil. Thinly slice the shallots into rings. Place in heat proof bowl. Pour the water over the onions and count to ten. Drain the onions and season with salt and lime juice. Refrigerate.

Preheat the broiler and clean the poblanos. Cut in half and place on a baking sheet, pressing to flatten. Broil until the skin is black. Enclose the pieces in a plastic storage container and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and roast for about 15 minutes, turning frequently, until blacked outside in spots. Cool and then remove the skin.

Place the black pepper, allspice, cloves, cumin and oregano into a mortar and pulverize thoroughly. Add the peeled garlic, vinegar and salt. Pound into a paste.

Spread half of the spice paste over the chicken breasts. Remove the skin from the roasted poblanos and slice into 1/4″ slices. Slice the onion into 1/4″ slices. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and heat a skillet over medium heat. Grill the chicken, loosely covered with foil, until done (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, add the oil to the skillet and cook the onions and poblano strips until onions begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining spice paste, chicken broth, vinegar and salt. Simmer over medium low heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

Divide the escabeche among two plates and top with a chicken breast. Spoon liquid over the chicken and top with picked shallots and chopped cilantro.

Kale fried rice

Dear Santa: I definitely did not wish for a head cold on Christmas Eve, especially one that lingers for several days and has me wondering whether I should buy stock in the company that makes Kleenex. I also didn’t wish for Hubster to get the same cold.

Yep, we’re a big ball of sickness over here. Don’t swing by. If you made me cookies, just leave them at the front door and run. Thankfully, this is the slowest time of year and yesterday we curled up on the couch for most of the day. I thought about ordering takeout… but then remembered it was Christmas.

 

This dish would have been the perfect answer to the “I want takeout, but can’t/shouldn’t order anything.” We all know there are only a few days of reckless eating left. Soon we’ll dig out our workout clothes and get back on the diet horse treadmill. This dish will totally satisfy those lingering delivery food cravings, without skyrocketing your sodium count for the day. Plus, brown rice is totally a whole grain and we all need more of those in our lives.

 

Kale fried rice
From Iowa Girl Eats

1 package frozen Trader Joe’s brown rice (or 1 cup cooked brown rice)
1 bunch of kale
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 small onion
4 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp canola oil
Sesame seeds, optional

Tear kale into bite sized pieces, removing the woody stems. Rinse and drain. Boil a few cups of water in a pot. Add the kale and cook for 4 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a kitchen towel and squeeze out excess water.

While the kale cooks, cut a 1″ slit in the rice bag and microwave for 3 minutes on high. Stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and maple syrup. Mince the onion and garlic.

Heat a skillet over medium high. Add the canola oil and saute the onion for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the kale and rice, tossing and stirring to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine. Divide among two bowls and top with sesame seeds.

Sweet potato chili mac

Oh, friends. I’m sorry for the absence. Life has been moving at an unusually fast pace… and you know that means a lot coming from me. I have no good excuse for not visiting with you for over a week. Work, life, preparations for my brother’s wedding (ok, mostly work) just got in the way.

 

I should probably come asking for your forgiveness with a bonus layer cake, because I’m apparently getting quite a reputation as a baker. I know this because I was tasked with outlining my top 5 professional strengths, so, of course, I decided to ask some other people what those are. Topping the list: Baking. I’m pretty sure my corporate job cares very little about my ability to combine flour, sugar and chocolate…
 

 

But, I digress. Rather than a sugary concoction, I come bearing an interesting dish. Normally, I bring recipes that are outstanding and have earned a permanent spot in my menu rotation. On occasion, I’ll let you know when something is totally wrong with a particular recipe.

This… this is somewhere in the middle. I think it’s good, but I think some people out there will find it great. Someone will relish tricking their kids (or picky eating significant other) by sneaking sweet potatoes into a cheesy treat. Someone will enjoy every bit of crunchy chorizo. Someone may even cuddle up with this comforting meal on a blustery day, like what we’re facing in the Midwest right now.

Maybe that someone is you. If you try it, come back and let me know what you think.

 

Sweet potato chile mac
Slightly modified from Cooking Light

2 medium sweet potatoes
4 oz farfalle pasta
½ Tbsp olive oil
6 oz Mexican chorizo
2 green onions
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
½ cup fat-free milk
Salt and pepper
3 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup packed)

Scrub the potatoes and pierce several times with a fork. Place on a paper towel in a microwave and cook on high for 8 minutes, flipping half way, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the microwave and allow potatoes to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add oil, swirling to coat. Cook chorizo, stirring to crumble, until completely cooked. Drain on a paper towel and wipe the pan clean.

Preheat the broiler. Thinly slice the green onions and chop the cilantro. Set aside. Mince the chipotle in adobo. Peel the potatoes and mash them in a medium bowl. Add milk, chipotle and 2/3 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.  Add the pasta to the potato mixture and spread the mixture evenly in the skillet. Top with remaining cheese and chorizo. Broil until the cheese has melted and the chorizo is crisp. Divide among two plates and top with green onions and cilantro.

Cranberry and vanilla cookies

Sometimes I feel a bit like a blogger in a bubble. I have some fairly faithful readers, though judging by the comments most of you are people who know me in the flesh. Save for one online friendship with The Meaning Of Me, which is built on food, sarcastic humor and the love of rotten cats, I don’t have a lot of e-friends. So I jumped at the chance to join The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay and Julie. Networking by food is totally my jam.

 

The principle is simple. Bake 3 dozen cookies and send a dozen to 3 bloggers. In return, 3 different bloggers will bestow you with a dozen cookies. If you’ve been around here for much time, you may already know that I don’t love cookie production. It’s just too much work. (Yes, there is irony in that statement based on the hours I logged for the 12 Cakes in 2012 challenge.) Even so, I was a little surprised that the one and only cookie I make every year at the holidays has yet to make it onto the blog. That made my choice for the swap really easy.
 

 

These cookies border on perfection. They’re soft and sweet and a little tart. It’s one of the recipes I have at the ready, because every year someone asks. If you’re looking for something to add to your line up, make these. Just don’t be surprised when they become a tradition. A baker’s dozen went to these three ladies:

Julia – A Cedar Spoon – Julia serves up healthy, tasty dishes along with my new favorite Monday tradition: Case of the Mondays. These weekly posts showcase her favorite online finds.
Meagan – Scarletta Bakes – Meagan is cooking up delicious southwestern fare and posting gorgeous pics over on her blog. I basically want to face plant into all of her food.
Courtney – Fitness with a Fork - I love reading blogs that make me want to want to eat healthy and workout. Courtney’s totally fits the bill.

 

 

So, I’m pretty sure that accepting my sugary treats (that’s what she said) is akin to making up a secret handshake. We’ve bonded. What I’m saying is I have 3 new blogging BFFs. (Friendship bracelets are on order.)

I’ll take silence as compliance… or everyone navigating away from this post… and Hubster shaking his head at how weird I can be sometimes…

If you’re a food blogger and want to join in the fun next year (and have a shot at becoming a MMF2 BFF in 2013), you can sign up here to receive updates when the 2013 swap approaches.
 

 

Cranberry and vanilla cookies
Yield: 2 dozen

1/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup vanilla or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in cranberries and chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute then remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Christine’s white chicken chili

We keep getting hints of winter around here in the form of randomly cold days. I’m not ready for snow or bone chilling winds or piling on layers just to step outside. But I am ready for chili.

 

Actually, I’m beyond ready. I’ve already made and devoured two batches of Hubster Approved Chili. I don’t even care that the most recent pot bubbled away on a day that nearly hit 70. I’m prepping for winter and that means chili!

 

 

I’ve been on the hunt for a white chicken chili to serve as a nice counter point to the beefy, red stuff and came across this gem in an unusual way: my best friend. The thing is, she doesn’t really cook. Her husband mans the kitchen and she’s inclined to the occasional baking spurt. But at a small get together at her place, she offered to make the main dish and I went back for seconds and demanded the recipe.

I’ve made a few modifications and am seriously toying with the idea of turning this into a slow cooker dish that starts with dried beans a la Red Beans and Andouille. What you’ll get in this recipe is a great base that includes a touch of sweetness thanks to the corn. Where you go from there depends on your taste. I suggest laying out crushed tortilla chips, sliced jalepanos, chopped cilantro, minced green onions and shredded pepper jack cheese, and letting each person go to town. I love doing this even when there are just two of us at the table. The leftover toppings can be bagged and reused for lunch because if you’re only feeding two, you’ll get a few meals from this pot.

 

Christine’s White Chicken Chili

1 jalapeño
4 green onions
2 Tbsp cilantro
3 garlic cloves
1 onion
1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 15oz cans Great Northern beans
1 can white corn
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp lemon pepper
Salt and pepper
2 tsp (or more) hot pepper sauce
1 15oz can chicken broth
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
½ cup crushed tortilla chips

Slice half of the jalepano into thin rounds and reserve for a topping. Discard the seeds and mince the remaining pepper. Thinly slice the green onions, reserving a few tablespoons for a topping. Mince the cilantro and reserve. Mince the garlic and chop the onion.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the minced jalepano, green onions, garlic and onion for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts into bit size chunks, and drain and rinse the beans and white corn. Add the chicken to the pot and sauté until cooked through. Season the mixture with cumin, lemon pepper, salt and pepper. Cook while stirring for 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, and then stir in the beans and corn.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for an hour or until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve with reserved toppings, cheese and chips.