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

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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 Thigh Kebabs with Chile-Yogurt Sauce

Summer isn’t over yet! I wanted to get at least one more meal on the grill before Autumn hits, and Labor Day seemed like the perfect opportunity. Since it was just me and my husband Ben, we kept things simple and tried this recipe for grilled chicken with chile-yogurt sauce.

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a 15 minute marinade keeps this recipe quick and easy

I’ve made yogurt-marinated chicken before, and although it keeps the meat tender, all of the flavor is lost in the cooking. Instead, this recipe marinates the chicken in spices and keeps the yogurt on the side as a flavorful sauce. You only need to let the chicken marinate for 15 minutes, making this dish a possibility even on a weeknight. The sauce is a mix of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and spices. I added a little extra lemon to give the mixture a tanginess I enjoy. I was out of crushed red pepper, so I daringly used my Uncle Carl Buck’s “Bucking Hot Sauce” instead. If you don’t mind some heat, and you have a favorite dried pepper blend, feel free to substitute. I used a little less than was called for and the sauce still had some lingering heat.

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Instead of skewers, I used bone-in thighs and legs, increasing the grill time to about 18 minutes on our mesquite charcoal grill. The chicken was good, but the sauce really made the dish. Grilled zucchini was a fantastic accompaniment. This was a delicious and easy way to close out the summer. Happy grilling!

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Chicken Thigh Kebabs with Chile-Yogurt Sauce
Food and Wine September 2014

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

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!

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I love pork tenderloin. It’s an easy cut of meat to prepare and pairs well with a wide variety of flavors. It’s also possible to cook quickly and still end up with tender, juicy meat. Because there are only two tenderloins per pig, it can be difficult to source this cut from an ethical ranch. That’s why I was delighted to find some at New Seasons, our local grocery market. This recipe was a great way to celebrate!

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

Although the recipe doesn’t call for toasting the coriander seeds and peppercorns, I know that the flavor of spices is significantly enhanced by taking this extra step. It only takes a few minutes in a hot, dry pan to create fragrant whole spices. I ground the spices with a mortar and pestle, then rubbed them into the dijon mustard on the tenderloin. This recipe follows a pretty standard preparation of browning the meat in a skillet and finishing it in the oven. My one amendment to the recipe is to take the pork out of the oven when the internal temperature reaches 145 F. If you wait until it reaches 155, it will be well done and possibly quite tough.

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I served this with a side of kale, which I quickly blanched and then sautéed with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving. It felt like a weekday feast, without the fuss. Enjoy!

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin by Ellie Krieger

Fine Cooking            Issue 102

Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic, and Dill

This simple recipe is surprisingly flavorful! Lemon, garlic, and dill are a reliably delicious combination. Paillard refers to meat that has been pounded flat. I’m tempted to prepare all of my chicken this way, because it tenderizes the meat and ensures even cooking. If you don’t own a meat mallet (I don’t), a sturdy rolling pin will also do the trick. I used a gluten-free flour blend for the light dusting of flour on the chicken breasts, but you could easily use rice flour instead. Be cautious about other flours on their own—the textures and flavors may create an undesirable result. Chicken broth is used to deglaze the pan. Deglazing can be done with any liquid, but you need cold liquid hitting a hot pan to effectively draw the browned ingredients (also known as fond) from the bottom of the pan.

trim off the woody ends at the base of the asparagus

trim off the woody ends at the base of the asparagus

Adding fresh lemon juice and dill at the end of cooking brightens the dish, and a small amount of butter gives the sauce a silky richness without making it heavy. This healthy one-pan meal only takes thirty minutes to prepare. Fresh asparagus is the perfect ingredient to celebrate Spring. Enjoy!

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Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic, and Dill

Fine Cooking            Issue 129