Spicy Chicken with Black Bean, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Salsa

I loved this dish, and it’s incredibly simple and easy to make. “Spicy” is debatable, but you can certainly add more cayenne if you want some extra heat. Start by dusting the chicken with cumin, cayenne, chili powder, and salt to give it plenty of flavor. Butterflying and broiling the chicken makes it cook quickly, although you can also sauté it if you prefer.

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I enjoyed the sweet potato and black bean salsa so much that I made a second batch to eat for lunch. The salsa is a healthy and hearty mix of sweet potatoes, black beans, onions, and cranberries tossed with garlic and lime. The spices in the chicken blend with the salsa to create a Mexican-inspired meal. The result is a light dinner that is also satisfying. Brightly colored sweet potatoes and cranberries also make it a beautiful dish.

a light dusting of cilantro on top would add some pretty green

a light dusting of cilantro on top would add some pretty green

If you’re looking for an easy appetizer to serve with this meal, I recommend making blistered padron peppers. Be careful–one out of every eight or so is surprisingly hot! Generally they are mild peppers with a texture so rich and smooth, they almost taste like butter. Don’t be afraid to really let them blacken, and be sure you have Maldon salt to season them properly. The triangular shape of the salt flakes makes the flavor pop.

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Enjoy!

Spicy Chicken with Black Bean, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Salsa

Fine Cooking            Issue 131

Arctic Char with Charmoula

Much of the flavor in this fast and easy dish comes from the charmoula (also spelled chermoula.) Charmoula is a North African sauce made of herbs, garlic, oil, and spices, frequently used to flavor fish. If it sounds intimidating to make, it isn’t! It’s not much different from a pesto, pistou, or chimichurri sauce. This recipe starts by toasting some unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry skillet until the skins begin to blacken. Then use a food processor or blender to combine the (peeled) toasted garlic, fresh herbs, spices, olives, lemon juice, and olive oil into a paste. Add some salt and set aside while you prepare the fish.

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I used marinated green olives for a little extra flavor

The fish—I used salmon—should be seasoned with salt and pepper before placing it in the skillet. I generally like to roast my fish, but the filets only take 3-4 minutes per side on the stovetop and the end result was delicious. The fish should be fairly easy to flip once it’s cooked because the heat renders fat and pulls it to the surface. You can read all you’ve ever wanted to know about techniques for perfectly pan fried salmon at Serious Eats.

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Toast the garlic in its skin, then let cool and peel

By the time you’ve steamed a side of broccoli, this meal is ready! It’s quick to prepare, and full of nutrition and flavor. Enjoy!

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Arctic Char with Charmoula

Food and Wine            August 2014

Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa

I recently went on a trip to Kauai, and returned with a lingering hunger for tropical flavors. The pineapple salsa in this dish made it the perfect recipe to satisfy my craving. I tweak this recipe ever so slightly, but it truly is a happy combination of sweet, spicy, and savory.

fruit stand in kauai

fruit stand in kauai

First things first, this recipe can be made with any cut of chicken. I typically just use bone-in and roast until the meat thermometer hits 160. This time I chose all bone-in chicken breasts and set the oven at 375 instead of 400. Although the light char on broiled or grilled chicken can enhance flavor, the glaze is delicate enough that I prefer a simple roasted version for this recipe.

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The glaze is light and makes a delicious sauce for after the chicken is cooked, so I tend to make two to three times the amount of glaze called for in the recipe. I like to use canned pineapple for the salsa, which means I end up with about ¾ cup of pineapple juice anyway. Since pineapple juice is already so sweet, I cut the amount of brown sugar down just a little. With ¾ cup of pineapple juice, I used 4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of yellow mustard. The lower sugar content means it’s necessary to boil the glaze for a few extra minutes to get it to thicken, but the consistency isn’t as important as the flavor. Just remember to salt and pepper your chicken and your glaze before they go into the oven!

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The salsa is easy to prepare, so you’ll have plenty of time to put it together once the chicken is in the oven. This time I used a fresh jalapeño, and you can even use fresh Serrano peppers if you like a little more heat. As is, this salsa tastes fresh and sweet, with just a little tang and heat from the red onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Again, adding salt and pepper to the final salsa is key.

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I serve this dish with some steamed green beans on the side. It’s bright, colorful, summery, and delicious!

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Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa

Bon Appétit            March 2010

Chicken Marbella

This may be the best chicken you ever eat! This recipe is a crowd pleaser, and perfect for picnics because it tastes best at room temperature. The recipe serves 12, but it’s easy to halve or even quarter. It keeps well, so there is no harm in making the full recipe and enjoying leftovers all week long.

pre-oven

pre-oven

It’s important to marinate the chicken at least overnight, and up to 48 hours. This step tenderizes the chicken and infuses it with flavor. When you’re ready to bake, just sprinkle it with brown sugar and pour white wine on top. I typically cut the brown sugar in half, but that’s a matter of personal preference. Capers and olives balance the sweetness of the brown sugar and dried prunes. I substitute Kalamata olives because they’re my favorite, but really any good olive will do.

it's great for guests because all the work is done in advance

it’s great for guests because all the work is done in advance

This dish is beautiful and smells mouth-watering as it comes out of the oven. Sprinkling some fresh parsley over the chicken after baking adds some freshness and brightens up the other flavors. I typically serve this with rice just so I can make the most of the sauce. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Chicken Marbella via Epicurious

Silver Palate Cookbook

French Potato Salad

July is picnic season, and I plan to focus the remainder of this month’s post on picnic friendly fare to celebrate. Fresh dill, parsley, basil, and scallions keep this salad tasting light and fresh. The mildness of champagne vinegar complements the fresh herbs nicely, although you can substitute red wine vinegar if you can’t find champagne. The recommended cooking time for the potatoes is too long unless you use potatoes large enough that they need to be quartered instead of halved. You want them to be fully cooked, but firm so they keep their shape and texture after tossing with the dressing. Test them with a fork to ensure they are cooked all the way through, if you’re feeling uncertain.

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What makes this recipe particularly picnic-friendly is that it tastes great warm or at room temperature. If you refrigerate the leftovers, be sure to let them come to room temp before diving in. And let me tell you, this potato salad leftover is delicious! This is an ideal side for all sorts of dishes, meaning it’s a fantastic potluck addition as well. Enjoy!

French Potato Salad by Ina Garten

The Food Network            The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, 1999

 

Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil

The flavors in this dish are so light and fresh, which makes it perfect for a hot summer evening meal. You can use any white, flaky fish, but I indulged and bought Halibut. The fish cooks on a bed of thinly sliced shallots and summer squash, with cherry tomatoes and basil sprinkled around. It’s important to salt and pepper everything before you cook to make the subtle flavors shine. A tablespoon each of dry white wine and olive oil creates enough moisture inside the parchment packets to steam-cook the filets, keeping them tender and juicy.

i couldn't find yellow crookneck squash at the store, so subbed all zucchini

i couldn’t find yellow crookneck squash at the store, so subbed all zucchini

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This fish is quick and easy to make, and shows off the beautiful colors of fresh summer produce. I steamed some extra vegetables as a side, adding a hearty squeeze of fresh lime juice to finish. Top the finished filets with more fresh basil and enjoy!

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Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil

Bon Appétit            June 2012

Frozen Fruit Smoothie & Baja-Style Rosemary Chicken Skewers

Welcome to the first full day of summer! As the season warms up, I like to add some cold dishes to my regular rotation. For breakfast that means making a frozen fruit smoothie. I love how the richness of the yogurt keeps me satisfied all day long. You can use whatever fruit you like, but make sure to have some sweeter fruits to balance out the tartness of the yogurt. I used ½ cup frozen blackberries, ½ cup frozen mango, and ½ of a large frozen banana. To that I added ¼ cup whole milk Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of almond milk. You can add honey if you like, but I found the mango and banana sweet enough on their own. Lastly, I added a hearty dash of cinnamon. The result was thick, decadent, and delicious! This recipe makes enough for two smoothies, and they also store well in the freezer. Just give it a few minutes to soften before diving in.

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For summer dinners, I am perfecting the art of grilling. It’s so pleasant cooking outside when the sun doesn’t set until 9 o’clock! These Baja-Style Rosemary Chicken Skewers couldn’t be easier. I started by cutting some fresh rosemary from our garden and removing all but the tips so the woody stem could be used as a skewer. The stem holds a ton of flavor, infusing the meat with rosemary as it cooks.

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Next, I prepared the marinade. The chicken only needs to marinate for thirty minutes, which gives just enough time for the grill to heat up. Fifteen minutes on the grill created succulent, flavorful chicken. I served this with grilled zucchini, corn on the cob, green onions, and squeezed fresh lime over the entire plate. I hope you enjoy this summery feast as much as I did!

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Baja-Style Rosemary Chicken Skewers

Food and Wine            June 2014

Southwest Turkey Burgers

The trick to making a delicious turkey burger is to season it well. Ground turkey is lower in fat than beef, which also means it doesn’t have enough flavor to stand on its own. This recipe adds chili powder and cumin to give the burger a Southwestern kick. The end result was so good!

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Crushed tortilla chips replace breadcrumbs as a binder, making this recipe gluten free. Instead of using a gluten free bun, I wrapped the burgers in lettuce and topped them with grilled onions, salsa and guacamole. I skipped the corn because I served this with my black bean and corn salad on the side.

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This meal completely satisfied my craving for Tex-Mex, and was much healthier than the beef alternative. Enjoy!

Southwest Turkey Burgers with Corn Salsa

Bon Appétit

California Chicken Tacos with Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw

In a moment of confidence I decided to master the grill. Last weekend I made my first-ever attempt at grilling and it was a success! Bolstered by my ability to grill simple vegetable and pre-made chicken skewers, I felt undaunted by this recipe, which calls for a whole grilled chicken. I may have been overconfident. This required an entirely different level of grilling skills, but with a second chance and some coaching from my dad over the phone, the end result was a smoky, tender, perfectly grilled chicken.

the lime and salt tenderize the chicken

the lime and salt tenderize the chicken

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First let me say that the recipe gives you the option of oven roasting or grilling. I chose to grill so I could improve my skills and because I think the smoky flavor is an essential flavor in tacos. The preparation of the chicken is very simple—just slide some lime zest beneath the skin, pour lime juice on the outside, salt and pepper liberally and stuff with the used limes. If you go for the grilling method, you can separate your heated coals to make them line the sides of the grill. Place the chicken in the middle of the grill so it cooks over indirect heat. After the coals are nice and hot, cover the grill with the lid making sure to leave the vents open. A five-pound chicken might take about an hour to cook with this method, and using a meat thermometer will ensure your meat is cooked all the way through. Taking the lid off the grill is the same as opening the oven—it dramatically drops the temperature and will increase cooking time, so try to be patient!

grilled green onions are a tasty side dish

grilled green onions are a tasty side dish

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Heating the tortillas on the grill for about 30 seconds will make them warm and pliable. The simple red cabbage slaw adds freshness, color, and crunch to the tacos. I left out the corn because I used it my black bean and corn salad, which I served as a side dish. A few dashes of Cholula brought a pleasant heat to the meal and brought the other flavors together. I have to say, these were some of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten! 0608141947_resized 0608141947b_resized

California Chicken Tacos with Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw by Linda Burkhart

Food 52            May 2014

Black Bean and Corn Salad

It’s Memorial Day this weekend, and that means celebrating with potlucks and barbeques! I got this salad recipe from my mom and have been using for well over ten years now. It’s just the thing for a warm weather celebration because it’s colorful, filling, and tastes best at room temperature.

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Begin by rinsing two cans of black beans until the water runs clear. Drain them well and place them in a bowl with one can of corn, also well drained. (You can also use fresh corn and dried black beans.) To this add one large diced bell pepper, 3 sliced green onions (white and green parts), ½ pint halved cherry tomatoes or 2-3 chopped of your favorite tomato variety, and a full bunch of chopped cilantro (about ½ cup, or more to taste.) This colorful array of vegetables will be dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Add five tablespoons of good quality olive oil and six tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss together and let sit for at least one hour at room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.

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This can be served as a side salad, as a dip for corn tortilla chips, as a taco filling, or on top of warm quinoa for a satisfying lunch. Enjoy, and happy Memorial Day!