Chicken Taco Salad

After the carb-heavy last few weeks we’ve had on the blog recipe-wise, I think it’s a good time to lighten things up around here.

(I do eat and enjoy eating green things, you guys.)

I spent/wasted a lot of time thinking that I hated chicken salad, because most times, it gets made with a mayonnaise based dressing. Mayonnaise triggers my gag reflex and I believe it’s one of the most disgusting foods ever invented, so for a while I just thought chicken salad wasn’t for me.

Then I discovered there were other ways of making chicken salad that had nothing to do with mayonnaise. From there, things have progressed very nicely (and tastily) with me and chicken salad. I set about testing different ways to make it with vinaigrette based dressings and the results have been pretty awesome, if I may say so myself.

Here’s my latest riff on chicken salad. The ingredients are all of the things I enjoy in a taco served up chicken-salad-style while the dressing is vinaigrette based. It’s inexpensive, pretty much fool-proof and also really very good.

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Taco Chicken Salad

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

For Salad

  • 2 rotisserie chickens, deboned (It should yield about 4-5 cups of shredded, and/or chopped chicken)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, diced
  • 3 bell peppers (I used green, red and orange), diced
  • 2 (4.5oz) cans of diced green chiles
  • 1 (15.25oz) can yellow corn
  • 1 bunch (about 2 oz) of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch (about 2 oz) of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

For Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of oil (canola, vegetable, olive will all work; your choice)
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

For dressing: combine all of the ingredients together in glass measuring cup and whisk together with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onion, green onions, bell peppers, chiles, corn, and herbs and stir well with a large spoon.

Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Serve salad on crusty, sturdy sandwich rolls, like these 🙂

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #425, co-hosted this week by Pauline @ Beautiful Voyager.

Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

Consider today’s recipe as a Part II from last week, where I shared a simple, but really special way to make your own croutons from scratch. This week, I’m back with a sweet option.

I’d actually never tried or even heard of sweet croutons before a few weeks ago. Croutons are typically envisioned for savory salads, and as such are flavored savor-ily (if that’s even a word).

But sweet croutons do in fact have their place and purpose. They can go in sweet fruit salads as a crunchy element. They’re good for sweet trail mixes with nuts and candy.

They are also absolutely fantastic for eating all by themselves as a sweet and crunchy snack. Ask my niece; that’s what she’s been doing with them quite contentedly.

Like last week’s Rosemary and Browned Butter croutons, these are a cinch to put together, and they yield such tasty results.

It’s actual cinnamon toast crunch, you guys. How awesome is that?

Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 lb) loaf of sourdough bread, outer crusts sawed off, and cubed into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup white granulated sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon)

Directions


Preheat stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar with the melted butter and whisk with a fork until dissolved, then set aside.

Pour the rest of the cinnamon sugar into a shallow container/bowl and set aside.

Place bread cubes into a gallon size resealable plastic bag. Drizzle the cooled cinnamon sugar butter over the cubes and toss with a spoon. Once you’ve used all the butter, reseal the bag and shake it around, until there is an even coating of butter on all the bread cubes.

Spread cubes into a single, even layer on each of the sheet pans.

Toast croutons one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven, for about 15-20 minutes. Flip the croutons once halfway, to ensure they are evenly toasted. They’re finished when they’re crisp, golden brown and firm on the outside to the touch.

While croutons are still warm, toss them in the dry cinnamon sugar until evenly coated, Set on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil to cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #417.

Browned Butter Rosemary Croutons

Are you all ready for one of the simplest, but tastiest recipes ever?

That’s not hyperbole. I mean every word.

I think Croutons are one of those things that you buy in the grocery store, anf never really thought about making them for yourself. Because, for what? It’s essentially a condiment for salad or soup, and who honestly wants to set aside the time to make their own condiments?

I used to feel that way the exact same way.

Then I made my own croutons, and let me tell you: I take it back. All of it.

Croutons from scratch are worth it, guys. So worth it.

In the first place, they’re cheap to make. All you need to make a crouton is bread, butter, and in this case, an herb sprig. If you go to the bakery section of any grocery store, you can pick out a loaf of bread for $1-5 that will work perfectly for croutons. Aim for a sturdy loaf with big airy pockets on the inside that you can easily cut into cubes and trim the crusts from; I used a sourdough boule.

In the second place, homemade croutons are easy. After cubing the bread, all you have to do is coat the cubes in butter and any other desired seasoning, then let them toast away in the stove until they’re crisp all over.

I could’ve just went plain for my first time making them, but I’m extra, so I decided to brown my butter first, then add a sprig of rosemary to it, just to up the flavor of my croutons past regular old toasted bread cubes.

I was honestly surprised by how much I loved the taste of these. In the first place, because the bread is freshly made, they have a fresh, heartiness to them that you just can’t get in a prepackaged crouton. Then, add that browned butter rosemary flavor to the texture, and what you’ve got is not just a delicious condiment, but a pretty delicious snack that’s tasty enough to stand over the stove and eat one after another, all on its own.

Not that I would know anything about that; just saying.

Browned Butter Rosemary Croutons

Recipe by Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 lb) loaf of sourdough bread, outer crusts sawed off, and cubed into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Directions


Preheat stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Place the sprig of rosemary in the hot butter and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, until it’s no longer sizzling/crackling.

Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.)

Place bread cubes into a gallon size resealable plastic bag. Drizzle the cooled browned butter over the cubes and toss with a spoon. Once you’ve used all the butter, reseal the bag and shake it around, until there is an even coating of butter on all the bread cubes.

Spread cubes into a single, even layer on each of the sheet pans.

Toast croutons one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven, for about 15-20 minutes. Flip the croutons once halfway, to ensure they are evenly toasted. They’re finished when they’re crisp, golden brown and firm on the outside to the touch.

Allow to cool completely, and store in a resealble plastic container or bag.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #416, cohosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

This past week was the last day of summer. Now that I live in a place where the seasons noticeably change again, I have to say I’m rather ready for the autumn. I’ve missed little things; seeing the leaves change color, brisk mornings that call for pea coats, sweater and boots, cider mills.

Stuff like that.

This recipe happened for a few reasons: I needed a quick and easy side dish for dinner that didn’t take much effort, I wanted it to be light and refreshing, and I didn’t want the summer to end without my having/making some summer squash. This one ticks all those boxes.

My favorite way to enjoy summer squash is a simple roast. Pasta salad is also one of my favorite summer side dishes, so the inspiration for the recipe also comes from there. Think of this as like a summer pasta salad without the pasta.

The list of vegetables you see here are just my personal preference, but you can feel free to swap one or more of them out for what you’re more partial to. Just make sure that the ones you’re grouping together on the sheet pan to roast are going to finish cooking at more or less the same time.

The salad is delicious to serve at room temperature, but I found that it’s even better when you’ve given it about an hour to rest in the fridge.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall….

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

For Salad

  • 2 red onions, cut into large wedges
  • 4 red bell peppers, quartered and cut into wedges
  • 4 green bell peppers, quartered and cut into wedges
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs. of yellow and green summer squash, sliced into about 3/4 inch thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon or honey mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the vegetables in groups on a sheet pan you sprayed with cooking spray. (You will probably have to do this in 2 batches.)

Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently to be sure the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Spread the vegetables in one layer on 2 sheet pans. (If they’re too crowded, they’ll steam rather than roast.)

Roast for 20 minutes. Turn each piece and put the pans back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are crisp-tender. Allow to cool to room temperature., then place together in a large bowl.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together, then drizzle into the mixed vegetables. (You don’t have to use it all if you’d prefer not to; taste and adjust for your personal preference.)

You can serve at room temperature, but for best results, allow the salad to rest in the refrigerator for about an hour so that the flavors can meld.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #399, co-hosted by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Browned Butter Chicken Salad

I can just hear what some of you may be thinking:

Good grief, she’s at it agaiiiiiin!

Yeah. I know. More browned butter. I still just can’t quit using it.

But in my defense, today I finally found a way to put it to a rather healthy use.

I mean, as healthy as things can be considering the fact that we’re talking about butter here.

But in all seriousness, I am still excited about this recipe; first because it’s not only another tasty use of one of my favorite ingredients, but also because it’s a savory application of it, which I’ve mentioned before was something that I’ve really really wanted to experiment with.

About once every month or so, my taste buds experience a strange phase where they don’t want anything that’s ‘cooked.’ I mean, nothing. The only foods that I’ll be in the mood for during those particular phases is cold cut sandwiches and salads.

Weird, I know.

But when those times come around, I do honor my cravings and stick to the cold cuts and salads for dinner for several days. This past time, I decided to deviate from my norm of turkey sandwiches and/or using shredded rotisserie chicken that I just chop up and toss in salad, try to test out a recipe I’d had my eye on for several months or so.

Vinaigrettes are my favorite, and actually the only type of dressing that I’ll eat. They have that perfect balance of acidity, sweetness and savory that amplifies the flavors of salad veggies without making them ‘eat heavy’ if you know what I mean. The ingredients for today’s recipe are inspired by a similar chicken salad dish I did a few years ago where I made a roasted garlic vinaigrette to dress the salad in. The primary difference between then and now is that rather than roasted garlic, browned butter is now the star of this show.

You may be skeptical of this at first, especially because I’ve only ever shared browned butter as an ingredient for desserts. But let me tell you, this really works. Browned butter has a golden, nutty flavor to it and I was surprised at just how well that nuttiness played against the sharp acidity of the vinegar and lemon juice in the salad dressing.

This was light, refreshing and delicious. I recommend eating it as a sandwich on a sturdy, crusty bun…like these from last week.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Browned Butter Chicken Salad

Dressing Recipe Adapted from MyRecipes.com

Ingredients

For Dressing

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 sprig of sage (about 4 leaves), finely chopped
  • ½ shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)

For Salad

  • 2 rotisserie chickens, deboned (It should yield about 4-5 cups of shredded, and/or chopped chicken)
  • 1 red onion
  • .75 oz (21 grams) fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 oz fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 roasted red peppers, chopped

Directions

For Dressing: Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Let it cook and watch it closely until 3-5 minutes until the butter begins to foam, forms a golden brown color and browned bits form on the bottom. (It will have a sweet, nutty smell).

The moment you see the right color, remove the pan from heat and add your chopped sage and shallot. Sizzle and swirl in the hot pan for about a minute, then transfer to a heatproof bowl.  Add salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, balsamic and lemon juice, and whisk together until vinaigrette looks glossy and smooth. Taste and add salt to your preferences, then allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the chicken, onion, red peppers, onion, mint and parsley together in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Serve salad on crusty, sturdy sandwich rolls, like these 🙂

Linking to Fiesta Friday #376, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Asian Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

How’s it going y’all?

If you’re on my side of the planet, then the answer to that is probably…kinda hot.

Like, really really REALLY hot.  I was recently back in Michigan for a visit and the heat combined with humidity there was just unbearable. We get heat here, but because we’re in a desert valley, it’s really dry heat. The air back in the Mitten felt so noticeably wet. I’d forgotten how wet the air is there in the summer time. My hair was as unprepared as can be. Thankfully, we’re back now. But it’s still hot.

Not a lot of people out here have air conditioning, and in this type of heat the thought of turning on the oven to cook while not having A/C is just unbearable. So aside from take out, the solution to preparing food would be to opt for meals and recipes that don’t require any stove or oven so that your kitchen doesn’t turn into anymore of a sauna than it may be already. Today’s recipe is one of those meals.

The inspiration for this came from a post a few weeks back–this Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad I did, where I took rotisserie chicken and mixed it with some other fresh ingredients, then tossed the whole thing with a homemade vinaigrette dressing. We really loved it, and before the leftovers were even gone I was thinking about different renditions I could give to the base idea of the recipe. Asian was a direction that I knew I wanted to take and I decided to go ahead and test some things out with it.

The base of the dressing from the first recipe is a whole head of roasted garlic. This time around I decided to use a combination of garlic cloves with fresh ginger root as the base. The ginger cuts the raw flavor of the garlic while lending a spicy sweetness that works. From there, I also added rice wine vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar. It’s going to taste very strong–but keep in mind that rather than being meant to be eaten alone, the dressing is meant to season the salad, where all those assertive flavors are going to be mellowed & balanced out, especially after they’ve had time to marinate.

My mix-ins before were roasted red peppers, yellow onions, baby cucumbers and parsley. This time around I went with shredded carrots, green onions, sauteed cabbage and fresh mint. I also added some dried chow mein noodles for a crunch factor that’s supposed to mimic croutons. If you’d prefer to use different mix-ins than what I did that’s fine but one thing I absolutely insist you DO NOT try and substitute anything else for is the mint–besides the dressing, the mint is my favorite part of the salad. It gives this such a bright, fresh flavor that I don’t think can be replicated with anything else. So don’t skimp or do without it.

I’ll be sharing this at the Fiesta Friday #231, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health. Stay cool everyone!

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Asian Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Recipe Courtesy of Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

For Dressing

  • 1/2 cup whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • Salt and plenty of Black pepper

For Salad

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned (It should yield 2 1/2-3 cups of shredded chicken)
  • About 3/4 cup (a generous handful) of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of matchstick carrots
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup of sautéed cabbage
  • Dried chow mein noodles, optional

 

Directions

Finely mince the garlic cloves and the fresh ginger. Place the garlic and ginger, as well as the rest of the dressing ingredients into a blender.

Process on high until smooth—taste and adjust for seasoning. If it’s still a little thick you can add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.

Combine the chicken, mint, carrots, green onions, and cabbage together in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld. When ready to serve, sprinkle the chow mein noodles on top as croutons.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Hi, my name is Jessica and I have a confession to make.

Despite the name of this blog being Cooking is My Sport…I don’t always love to cook. Sometimes it’s the very last thing I want to do. I mean, the LAST. I envision putting on my baggy round the house clothes, pulling out pots/pans and standing in the kitchen for a while cooking–and I’ll just say to myself, “Yeah, nope. It’s not gonna happen today.”

And you know what? That’s okay. When those times arise, (and they will for everyone) there are a few different alternatives I will take to cooking a super ‘hands on’, full effort, time consuming meal:

First, I’ll order takeout–usually a pizza. Do I really need to do much explaining for this one? I mean, sometimes carb-heavy, greasy, sodium overload food is just what your body is craving. Life is short and if I don’t feel like cooking, pizza is a tried and true fail safe.

Second, I’ll eat cereal and milk. It’s quick, it’s not overly filling and so long as you pick cereals that aren’t loaded with sugar, it’s not the unhealthiest option either. (Honey Bunches of Oats and Hney Nut Cheerios is my winning combination in case you were curious).

Third, I’ll just pick up a rotisserie chicken.

Let me just say this right now: rotisserie chicken slander will not be tolerated on this here blog. I stan for rotisserie chicken and all the things that can be done with it. They’re awesome. They’re a pretty inexpensive buy whether you buy them fresh and cook them yourself, or pick a premade one up from your local grocery store deli. If the seasoning is done right by the deli, they usually taste pretty good on their own, but even if their bland on their own, it’s EXTREMELY easy to take the chicken off the carcass and give it a flavorific makeover within minutes.

I don’t like most chicken salad recipes because they’re mayonnaise based; mayonnaise triggers my gag reflex. So, I tend to stay away. However,  a little while ago I started experimenting with different ways to make the dressings for chicken salad, swapping out the mayonnaise entirely for other options, like this recipe where I used a base of Greek yogurt instead). This time around, I decided to go for a spin on chicken salad that was  made with a vinaigrette dressing rather than a creamy one.

I started out this post by saying I don’t always feel like cooking, and this recipe stays true to that. Literally the only thing that gets ‘cooked’ is garlic heads that are roasted in the oven. ‘Why do we roast garlic?’, you may ask. It cuts through the sharp flavor of raw garlic and improves it, giving a sweeter, richer flavor that really can’t be beat. You’ll be thanking me for this little trick and be using it in all kinds of dishes in the future.

Once the garlic is roasted, you really are practically done. From there, you just mix the rest of the dressing ingredients together in a blender, then pour it over the chicken and vegetables that make up your salad. I used roasted red peppers, cucumbers and onions (the usual suspects in my salads). There’s also a generous portion of chopped parsley leaves in there, which give it a zesty, peppery flavor.

I have to say, the dressing is the star here. The roasted garlic gives it a savory and almost caramelized flavor that’s gets balanced out with the remaining ingredients; acidity with the vinegar and honey mustard, and sweetness from the honey and OJ. Even if your rotisserie chicken isn’t seasoned right, this will spruce it right up. It tastes SO fresh and bright. It’s satisfying, but still light enough to where you won’t feel too full afterwards. This may have been a bare minimum effort meal, but we gobbled it up–I’ve already been asked to make it again. It’s really good and I think you ought to give it a shot on a non-cooking night when takeout or cereal isn’t tickling your fancy. Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #219, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette Chicken Salad

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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Ingredients

For Dressing

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used malt vinegar, but you can feel free to use red wine, white wine or balsamic, according to your preference)
  • 2 teaspoons honey mustard
  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For Salad

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned (It should yield 2 1/2-3 cups of shredded chicken)
  • 1/2 cup baby cucumbers, chopped and sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 cup yellow sweet onion, finely diced
  • Handful of chopped parsley leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub about 1 teaspoon of vegetable or canola oil on top of garlic head. Sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and place in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, like a package. Place on a half sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool until warm enough to handle. Take the roasted garlic head and break off individual cloves. Use your fingers to press/squeeze out the pulp into the container of a blender/food processor with the veggies. (It should come out very easily).

Pour the vinegar, honey mustard, orange juice, honey, olive oil and salt and pepper in the blender with the garlic. Process on high until smooth—taste and adjust for seasoning. If it’s still a little thick you can add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.

Combine the chicken, cucumbers, red peppers, onion and parsley together in a large bowl. Slowly drizzle in about half of the dressing and stir thoroughly to combine. Taste it—if it’s to your satisfaction, you can leave off the rest of the dressing and save it for later, or you can add and stir it into the rest of the salad mixture.

Cover the chicken salad and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight to allow flavors to meld.

Soy Ginger Chicken Fajitas

I’ve said before on the blog that I’m not a huge fan of most 30 minute or less recipes and with a few exceptions, I’m standing behind that. No shade to Rachael, but I just prefer to take a little bit more time with preparing my food. The longer that the spices have to cook, the more they can infuse into the ingredients and make them taste better. There are certain dishes–like braises or stews that I actually prefer to eat the next day after I’ve cooked them, just to give the flavors time to develop. I could name a few desserts that work the same way.

For the most part, it’s just better to have at least one hour of cooking time available for your dishes–better for the food and also better for your tastebuds. Now, I did say ‘for the most part’. There are exceptions to every rule.

After all, sometimes after a very long day when you come home hungry and dog tired,  the last thing you probably want to do is get out a bunch of dishes and stand over a stove for a prolonged period of time just to whip up a meal. You just want to sit down and be able to eat. I get it.

A perfectly cooked and steak can (and depending on the size, should) certainly be made in thirty minutes or less. With a tasty enough sauce, most stir fries can be whipped up in 30 minutes. I can make myself a delicious egg in the basket in less than 10. I’m certainly not above browning some ground beef, using a taco seasoning packet and taco sauce to make quick tacos. And if I REALLY don’t feel like cooking, yes. I too will pick up a rotisserie chicken, shred that bad boy and mix it into a homemade salad for dinner.

And then there’s fajitas. Chicken fajitas is another one of the ‘quick meals’ we whip up around here when no one feels like doing much labor intensive cooking, but we also don’t want to order out either. I usually make huge batches of it to last a few days and we can use the meat for various types of meals: tacos, salads, sandwiches, whatever. Today’s recipe is the latest version I made for us. Normally I stick to a Latin cuisine flavor profile, but this time I switched it up a bit. Here the chicken is flavored with soy sauce, mirin, ginger and sesame oil so that they have more of an Asian flair to them.

A few things I particularly love about this: first, it doubles as both a 30 minute meal, BUT the spices have also been given plenty of time to permeate the chicken and give them plenty of flavor thanks to a marinade that they sit in overnight. The night before, mix together the marinade and place the chicken inside. The next day when you’re ready to put dinner together, all you gotta do is cook the chicken over high heat so that it cooks quickly, then give a quick saute to some onions and peppers. That’s it. Plenty of flavor to go around for what’s a pretty low effort meal. I know I don’t have to say it but I will anyway: this was really good stuff. Please do help yourself.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #209, co-hosted by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

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Soy Ginger Chicken Fajitas

Recipe Adapted from Williams Sonoma

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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 2 green bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion
  • A few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil
  • Tortilla shells, for serving

Directions

Cut the chicken into small strips and place inside a gallon size Ziploc bag.

Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and brown sugar in a bowl. Pour over the chicken in the Ziploc bag and seal. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Pour the oil into a large skillet and bring to a medium-high heat. Take the chicken out of the marinade and sear it in batches in the skillet until golden brown. Keep cooked chicken in a bowl you cover with foil until all of it is cooked.

Once the meat is finished, saute the peppers with the onions in the skillet until softened and slightly charred, about 5-10 minutes.

Spoon the chicken into tortilla shells with the veggies and serve drizzled with sweet chili sauce and/or sriracha.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

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Whelp. As the song goes, this is The End.

The end of 2016, that is.

Wait, what; did you guys think I meant…THE end?

I mean, I dunno. Maybe it is. Check back with me after January 20th.

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For today however, let’s just keep the main focus on the fact that we’ve reached the end of the year. There is but one more day left in 2016. Crazy.

I won’t say this year’s went by particularly quick; it hasn’t really felt like that for me personally. I will say that it brought LOTS of change. Lots of new. Lots of different. There’s room for pessimism but the thing about starting a new year is that there’s also room for some new optimism. If things can get worse, there’s no reason not to hope that they can and won’t just might get better too, right?

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Some of us may choose the simple practice of optimism going into the new year. Others like to engage in certain practices that across cultures are supposed to bring especial luck to individuals if done on New Years Eve. I’m sure you guys are familiar with plenty of them.

Healthy amount of libations consumed.

Kissing a significant other or a… whatever you want to call them, at the stroke of midnight.

Opening doors and windows wide at night to let the ‘bad luck’ out of a house.

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There are plenty of places worldwide where people will consume particular foods, whether through tradition or believing that the foods themselves will provide good luck because of what they symbolize. Noodles consumed in Asian countries symbolize and are supposed to bring life longevity. In Spain, eating 12 grapes for each month of the year is supposed to predict the kind of year you will have (sweet for good times, sour for bad). There’s a certain Greek bread called Vasilopitta that I swear I’m gonna get around to trying myself one of these days. In the American south, black eyed peas, corn bread and leafy greens eaten at years end/new years are supposed to bring good luck.

If I’m being completely honest, I really don’t know or care whether or not eating greens of any kind will bring good luck. I’m gonna eat ’em regardless. But if the taste of today’s recipe was any indication, I’d say I was feeling pretty lucky this afternoon.

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Prior to this, the only ways I’d had kale previously was eating it raw, then eating it in the crispy chips you bake in the oven. Both are fine, but they’ve never really ‘wowed’ me into thinking kale was all that special. This recipe changed my mind. The kale is quick roasted in the oven, just to the point where it’s soft without being completed deflated. Sweet potato is roasted until it’s soft, but not quite mushy; it’s still got body to it. Both are then gently tossed together with some dried cranberries in a sweet and tangy dressing for a salad that is just REALLY delicious. The best part is, it tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had enough time to meld properly. The firm texture of the sweet potato is preserved and the texture of the kale in my opinion is improved: whereas raw kale is tough and fibrous, the quick roasted kale that’s been tossed in the dressing has this robust chewiness that’s a really great bite.

Truth to be told, it’s gone now and I’m already missing this stuff.  Oh yeah: and did I mention it’s pretty darn HEALTHY? And I actually want it. That’s always nice.

Linking this post to Fiesta Friday #152, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Ginger @ Ginger & Bread.

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Roasted Sweet Potato & Kale Salad

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled, seeded, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch (about 8 ounces) kale
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup (about 6 ounces) dried cranberries or cherries

Directions

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potato pieces with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are tender throughout and well browned around the edges, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from foil. Carefully remove potatoes from foil using a thin metal spatula and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, pick leaves off of kale stems into a large bowl and roughly tear with hands; discard stems. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper, and massage until well-coated in oil. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until wilted and crisp in some spots, about 7–10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to bowl with sweet potatoes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together shallot, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar . Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup of the oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cranberries to bowl with sweet potatoes and kale,. Toss with half of dressing, taste, and add more dressing as desired. The dressed salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let it come to room temperature or briefly microwave until warm before serving.

Summer Pasta Salad

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What do hot, hot, HOT summer days make you think of? For me, it’s a number of things.

Growing up and eating MASSIVE amounts of watermelon with my grandpa.

Being on summer vacation from school and getting to wake up whenever the heck I want. (I’m an ‘adult’ with a regular ‘job’ now, so this doesn’t happen anymore.)

The song “Summer Nights” from Grease.

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The sound of the ice cream truck music playing in my grandmother’s neighborhood.

Spike Lee’s movie, “Do the Right Thing”.

The handful of summer camps/programs that my Mom signed me up for…neither of which I ever liked.

Cedar Point trips.

Beautiful, cool(er) sunsets.

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Now how about food? I know that for me, I have “Summer Memories”, and then apart from that, I have “Summer Food Memories.”

Watermelon. Eating watermelon wedge after watermelon wedge until I start burping- that’s how I know when to stop.

Ice cream. One of the only things that I like about extreme summer heat is that it gives me an excuse to eat ice cream. It’s not like I ever NEED an excuse. I definitely eat ice cream in the dead of winter as well, but…still.

Popsicles. Not the watery kind in the plastic wrappers; REAL popsicles with chunks of fruit that are so thick and creamy, you can chew them.

Barbecue. Nothing replaces  the flavor that a charcoal grill can inject into a piece of meat. Nothing.

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Finally, there’s pasta salad.

Pasta salad has gotta be one of the most quintessential summer foods there is. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I don’t know if I even WANT to know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I’ve tried lots of different kinds of pasta salads in the past that experimented with different flavors, including this VERY delicious Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad. However, this recipe sticks to the ‘basics’ of pasta salad, resulting in a dish that is pretty much guaranteed to please everybody.

I’ve included all of the ingredients that I personally prefer in my pasta salad, but should you try this out, feel free to add or swap out stuff that you or your family prefers, like cheese, olives, or meat.

I think it’ll make for a pretty cool summer memory 😉

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Summer Pasta Salad


Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 green , yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped and undrained
  • 1 cup yellow canned corn, drained
  • 3 mini salad cucumbers, thinly sliced

Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

 

Directions

Combine all of the salad dressing ingredients together in a glass measuring cup with a whisk.. Taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

In a large bowl, toss all of the salad ingredients together, then drizzle in your desired amount of the dressing.

Refrigerate pasta salad for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld, but preferably overnight. Serve chilled.