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Spicy Crispy Chicken Breasts with Kale Salad

Crispy and crunchy chicken without deep frying? Of course, just follow this quick and easy recipe for crisp, hot and spicy chicken breasts. It’s a more healthy alternative to frying, doesn’t require much prep time and is tender and juicy.

breaded-chicken

The key to achieving that crispy texture is to double dip chicken in the wet and dry mixtures.  Browning the chicken on stove top with just butter and finishing it in the oven maintains that crunchy texture and also doesn’t leave with the oily mess you get from frying, never mind the extra fat too.

sauteed-chicken

Since white meat tends to get a little dry, soaking the chicken in the milk mixture for several minutes will also give you a tender and moist piece of chicken.

sliced-chicken-kale

Serve it on a bed of kale salad for a healthy dinner.

Spicy Chicken Breasts and Kale Salad

2 chicken boneless breasts
1 tsp Adobo, divided (found in supermarket Spanish food section or bodega)
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp pequin pepper flakes
salt & pepper
1/2 stick butter

1. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp of Adobo and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Set three shallow bowls in front of you and in first bowl add the flour. In the second bowl beat the egg, add milk and season with salt & pepper and mix. Add the bread crumbs to the third bowl, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, the pequin pepper flakes, the remaining Adobo seasoning and mix well.

3. Dip the chicken in each of the bowls starting with the flour first. Coat the meat with flour on both sides. Then add the chicken to the milk mixture and let it sit for about five minutes. If you have a little extra time let it soak in the milk mixture and leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Lastly, dip chicken in the seasoned bread crumbs until well coated.

4. Repeat step 3 except don’t let chicken soak in milk just dip quickly and cover in bread crumbs.

5. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat, add butter. When butter has melted, saute the chicken until you get a nice brown color on both sides.

6. Finish the chicken in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove from oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Slice chicken and serve over kale salad.

Feta & Red Onion Kale Salad

Chop a bunch of kale greens and toss with a little red wine vinegar, olive oil, thinly sliced red onion and crumbled feta cheese.

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Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja: Spicy Shredded Beef Over Rice

We got over a foot of snow here in Jersey on Friday and heard the Connecticut area got it far worse than us with over three feet of snow! I can’t imagine having to dig out of all that snow! I went out to shovel during the storm just to get a head start so shoveling the next day wasn’t too bad. This is some serious back breaking work but the best part is coming back inside to warm up and relax to a warm and hearty meal. I have always loved snowy days for this, knowing my Mom would have a hot meal for us after a day of snow angels, igloos and snowmen. Today I still want to play in it but instead do the necessary clean up, clear the car, slush around the city in my comfy boots and puffy coat, watch my dog hop around like a little bunny (he hates the snow!), then come back inside for an awesome meal. And I can do all this with my awesome slow cooker without having to fuss too much in the kitchen.

ropa_vieja4

So while you’re out playing, shoveling, organizing your cupboards or what ever you do when you’re snowed in, make this wonderful spicy dish popular in many Latin American homes. Ropa Vieja, or old clothes, is a well spiced, boldly flavored shredded beef dish served over white rice. It’s the comfort food I crave during cold, snowy days like these. This isn’t a dish that’s high on the heat index and most restaurants will serve a hot sauce on the side but I like mine spicy and have turned up the heat in this recipe.

This is one easy recipe where you pretty much just toss everything in and let the slow cooker do its thing. Before you do that though add the onions first. Having the onions on the bottom helps “prop” up the beef and ensures it does not stick to the bottom of the cooker and burn.

chopped_onions

I used this older slow cooker because my roast was only two pounds but the more modern cookers may have a built-in rack. If that’s the case then you don’t need to add the onions first. Add the remaining ingredients and set the slow cooker on high until the meat is fork tender.

ropa_vieja1

The meat will release a lot of juices but will eventually burn off during the cooking process so if you are like me and like a saucier dish, just add a little water and tomato paste. Just make sure you taste it to ensure the seasoning is right for you.

ropa_vieja2

Once the beef has finished cooking, remove from the slow cooker and onto a cutting board for shredding. After you have shredded the meat with a fork just add it back to the slow cooker and stir well.

ropa_vieja3

You can serve the beef over rice, have it with plantains or make a sandwich, this is a dish that will pretty much go with anything. Any leftovers can be frozen if you are not planning on having it within a week.

ropa_vieja5

Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes) – Spicy Shredded Beef

2 lbs chuck roast or flank steak, cut in half
4 small onions, quartered
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 cup cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 oz can tomato sauce
2 chipotles in Adobo sauce
1 tbsp Adobo
1 tsp oregano

1. Turn on your slow cooker and add the onions to the pot.

2. Rinse the chuck roast and add to slow cooker so it rests on top of onions. Cutting roast in half will speed up the cooking time. Add all the remaining ingredients and cover the slow cooker

3. Cook on high setting for 4-5 hours or until the beef is tender enough to pull apart with a fork.

4. Transfer the roast to a shallow pan or cutting boarding and pull the meat apart with a fork.

5. Add the meat back to the slow cooker and mix well with the remaining juices. If meat isn’t saucy enough you can fill the 4oz can with water and add to meat. Add a little more Adobo seasoning if needed to adjust to your tastes.

6. Serve shredded beef over cooked white rice.

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A Foodie’s New Years Recovery through Food

Have any of you seen Bon Appetite’s new Foodie Lover’s cleanse yet? The plan aims to help food lovers get back on a healthy food track after a holiday of feasting. This isn’t a boring diet, or a “diet” for that matter, made up of bland foods but the the kind of menu you can look forward to eating. It’s a menu you would imagine chefs preparing but the appeal is that the recipes are easy enough for home cooks to make. The only drawback is the long shopping list and some of the ingredients aren’t items you would normally stock but hey, you can substitute items so no big deal. The idea is to eat healthy and enjoy every minute of it!

yogurt_cilantro_chicken

I reviewed the entire list and found I had about 75-80 percent of the items which wasn’t too bad so decided to make a few dishes. It’s a two week plan of fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and poultry, and all the sides the body needs to recover from a few weeks of parties, dinners, cookies and cocktails! I actually don’t like following meal plans or getting on a schedule but do understand the value and benefits it can bring in the long run so will be making a few and adding my own. I, of course, had to go through the entire plan and find all the dishes with a good amount of spices and will be sharing some with you here.

yogurt_cilantro_chicken2

I made the yogurt chicken with ginger cilantro chutney the other day and have found a new favorite recipe! The flavor was pretty amazing. The chicken had a little tang from the yogurt and the ginger cilantro chutney had a nice spicy bite. This sauce would be great as a dip, with shrimp or spread on a sandwich as a condiment. I’m not going to post the recipe since you can get it from the Bon Appetit site, besides I just substituted a few items and didn’t change the process much. I did however up the hot paprika and cayenne on the chicken…yes, I used both and it was gooood! Here is what I did with the rest. I substituted the black rice for brown rice and added crushed pistachios instead of almonds and apricots and it all worked just fine. The rice dish would be great with golden raisins which I may try the next time.

yogurt_chicken_salad

Another thing I like about this plan is that leftovers can be used for completely new dish the next day. I made a kale salad using a sherry vinaigrette found in the plan as well to go with the chicken and carrot leftovers the next day! Check the cleanse out and left me know what you think.

If you have seen the plan already, did you find the shopping list overwhelming? We’re you discouraged from making any of the dishes because you didn’t have ingredients in stock?

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Blackout Special Series: Spicy Curried Plantain Mash and BBQ Ribs

So hurricane Sandy knocked us around a little, actually a lot, I had no power in my neighborhood for about eight days but that didn’t stop me from cooking. Not sure if it was out of shear boredom or the fact that the meat in my refrigerator was very slowly defrosting but I was a cooking machine! I packed the freezer with frozen water bottles and that kept everything frozen for a good 4 days. The temperatures started to drop into the 30s & 40s so things lasted a little longer. I wasn’t making anything fancy, that’s not my style of cooking. I just wanted to make flavorful, delicious dishes that would fill my belly and keep my kitchen nice and warm!

BBQ ribs and curried plantain mash

I boiled a couple of green and ripe plantains and made a spicy curried mash that was unbelievably delicious. A little sweet, a little spicy and savory. In Dominican Republic we use plantains about a dozen different ways but curry isn’t a spice Dominicans use. I figured the curry would add a different dimension to the plantains with a more intense, bold flavor.  The plantains tend to be a little bland so adding a little salt when boiling brings out the flavor too.

pot of plantains

I also boiled them with the skin which I don’t normally do but have seen others do this. It actually makes it easier to remove the skin but also darkens the fruit when cooking. I prefer peeling them first before boiling since it’ll give the fruit a more bright color but it’s really a matter of personal taste. This was quick and easy to make and when you’re in the dark and can’t find ingredients, you want exactly that, a no fuss, hearty meal.

pot of bbq ribs

You can have the plantains as a side dish to compliment the ribs or if you’re a vegetarian, skip the ribs and double your serving. Plantains are very filling and a great product to stock, they’re gluten free too. The green plantains can last up to two weeks without having to be refrigerated and will only begin to ripen the longer you store them. So buy them green, they’ll last longer! It’s such a versatile fruit and normally eaten fried, boiled, mashed with a little oil, vinegar and red onions or if you want to be a little different, have them curried!

BBQ Ribs
serves 3-4

2 lbs spare ribs
1-2 tbsp Adobo seasoning
1-2 tbsp oil
1 cup Spicy BBQ Sauce, I used Dinosaur’s Wango Tango Habanero Hot BBQ Sauce
1 tbsp hot sauce, optional

1. Boil ribs in 2 quarts of water seasoned with Adobo until fully cooked. Drain off water after cooking.

2. In same pot add oil and brown the ribs. Add the barbeque sauce, hot sauce and let sauce reduce until ribs are sticky

Curried Plantain Mash
serves 2

1 green plantain
1 ripe plantain
1 tbsp salt
1-2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 dashes of cayenne pepper

1. Peel plantains and cut in half crosswise or just cut in half and boil with skin in a pot of salted water for about 10 minutes.

2. Remove the ripe plantains since  they cook faster. Continue cooking green plantains until fork tender. Lower the heat and drain the water from the pot.

3. In same pot mash the plantains with a potato masher or fork. Plantains should look like a chunky version of mashed potatoes.

4. Add butter, curry, ground black pepper and cayenne pepper and continue stirring until butter melts.

5. Serve immediately

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Spicy Blackened Whiting Bites

Two weeks ago I posted about a little hidden, spicy foods gem down the shore here in Jersey called Ragin’ Cajun. I picked up their cookbook the last time I was there and had to share this recipe for blackened fish bites. If you visit you’ll see the blackened chicken bites on the menu but I had a few filets of Whiting and decided on blackened fish bites. I’m posting this one because it’s one of the recipes posted on their website so not divulging too much from the book, you’ll have to go buy your own copy to get the rest of the goods!

Blackened Whiting with broccoli

Blackened just means you cook it until it looks nice and burnt but it’s not! Actually, you’re cooking at high heat and toasting the seasoning which brings out a wonderful smoky flavor. Also you want to be sure to use a cast iron skillet because of the high temperature but if you don’t have one use a heavy bottom pan instead, that will work just fine. Make sure you have a good Cajun seasoning as well because the only other ingredient is butter so your spice flavors should be well balanced. As an added bonus the book purchase came with a free jar of Ragin Cajun’s very own Cajun seasoning so I was pretty set, no way to mess up this recipe! Check them out and let me know what you think!

Ragin Cajun's Cookbook

Blackened Whiting Fish Bites
Recipe adapted from Sittin’ Bayou Makes Me Hot

2 Whiting Filets, cubed
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter

1. In a bowl, toss the fish bites with the seasoning.

2. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet on high heat. When butter melts and add the fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side making sure the fish is well coated with butter.

3. Serve as an appetizer or add a side veggie for dinner. I cooked broccoli in a little butter, minced garlic clove and red pepper flakes with a side of spicy remoulade sauce for a nice meal.

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Easy Weekday Dinner: Spicy Kale with Turkey Kielbasa

I started working out again about a month ago to try and shed a few pounds packed on in the last six months. I’m not a big fan of working out but it’s a necessary evil if you love to eat like me! Actually, its the gyms and treadmills that I don’t like and prefer any outdoor activities. Also my trip to Argentina and Chile is fast approaching so that’s even more motivation to get in shape! Yes, I’m taking a trip soon so let me know if there are any great food places to try in Buenos Aires, or in the Santiago, Chile area.

So part of the plan is to make more low or no-carb dishes for dinner. Low carb meals are so much better for your digestive system if you’re going to eat late. Try to have heavier meals during the day so you’ll have the rest of the day to use those carbs for energy. Besides, who wants to go to bed feeling full and bloated anyway?

I made this spicy kale dish with turkey kielbasa because I knew it was quick and easy to make. I’m usually starving after a good workout so anything I can make under 30 minutes is fine by me. This dish may not look like much but its so filling. Kale is a hearty, leafy green that’s got a nice crunch even when cooked down a bit and the kielbasa will add the much needed protein after a tough workout.

Kale and Kielbasa

The kielbasa gives this kale a nice smokey flavor similar to what ham-hocks do for collard greens but this is a little healthier with the turkey kielbasa.

Kale and kielbasa in broth

The extra added spices will help boost your metabolism as well which is another benefit of spicy foods. This dish is healthy, gluten free and the kale provides disease fighting antioxidants too. Kale also packs a healthy dose of fiber, vitamin A, calcium and beta-carotene, it’s up there with broccoli as one of the super foods!! If you’ve never had it before give it a try with this easy dish.

spicy kale and kielbasa in a bowl

Spicy Kale and Turkey Kielbasa

1/2 lb of Kale, or half of 16oz bag
1 link of kielbasa, sliced thick
2 cherry chile peppers, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp chile pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup chicken stock

1. Add washed and rinsed kale to an enamel pot and turn heat up to medium. Let kale sweat for a couple of minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Let kielbasa and kale cook for about 10-15 minutes.

You can serve this as a side dish as well, just serve a little less. Enjoy!

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Thin Healthy Pizza to Enjoy Over and Over Again

Who said pizza can’t be healthy? It’s one thing if you’re ordering it with extra cheese and loading it with various meats but if you’re making it at home you get to control the ingredients and can enjoy the flavors while still watching your waistline. Pizza is my all time favorite fast food, actually it’s my only favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good burger but only if it’s homemade and comes off the grill. Pizza on the other hand is something I’ll never get tired of eating and love that there are more gourmet pizza restaurants sprouting up around the city. Nothing like hot saucy pizza coming out of a brick oven with fresh, quality ingredients. I wish I could have it several times a week but I can really do without all the calories and well you know, gourmet doesn’t come cheap! So every once in a while I make these thin pizzas on flour tortillas or wraps for a perfect low calorie alternative.

I made a salami, cheese and jalapeno mini pie and a prosciutto, baby arugula and shaved parmesan pie. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner and won’t have you feeling extra full and heavy afterwards.

Add a thin layer of sauce on tortilla and just top with ingredients. The less meat and cheese you use the better the other flavors will come through. It’s true especially with the prosciutto and arugula pizza, the mild sweetness of the prosciutto  and the peppery arugula are delicious and the citrus infused chile olive oil bring it all together.

These would also be great for entertaining as well and you won’t be slaving in the kitchen! Just cut the pizzas into quarters for sharing and pair with some wine, maybe a Syrah or a Chianti?

Prosciutto & Baby Arugula Tortilla Pizza
Pizza Sauce, see recipe below
Parmasean Cheese, shaved
Baby Arugula
Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Citrus habanero infused olive oil
Flour tortilla

Salami, Cheese and Jalapeno Tortilla Pizza
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella, shredded
Hard Salami, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
crushed red pepper flakes

Pizza Sauce
Tomato sauce
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Oregano, dried
Basil, dried
red pepper flakes

Season the tomato sauce with all the ingredients to taste. Make as much as you need based on the number of pizzas you want to make. For the two pizzas above all you’ll need is about 1/2 cup of sauce.

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Mini Cheese Steak Tostadas

Would you drive over an hour to Philly after midnight just to get a greasy cheese steak? I did that once with a few folks after watching a special Philly cheese steak episode on TV. We just all looked at each other and said “let’s go”! I rarely have cheese steaks now since I’ve cut down significantly on red meat but every once in a while I’ll get a craving.

I decided to make mini cheese steak tacos made with homemade corn tortillas and sauteed onions and peppers for a lighter version. An unlikely pairing but I didn’t want all that bread from the hoagie either so opted for something a little different. I made a few 4 inch size tortillas and loaded them with steak, onions, peppers and melted cheese. By the time I finished there was no way I could fold them like a taco so had them open faced instead! Is there such a thing as an open face taco? I think not so what we have here is a tostada, yeah, that’s it. Either way, it was hearty and satisfyingly good!

Once you prep your peppers (I used cubanelle for a little spice and because they started to ripen), onions, and garlic, just saute them in a little oil. The onions should caramelize and the peppers should be very tender.

I cooked the beef round strips below then later cut into smaller pieces. These here were a bit too large for the small tortillas I made.

Assemble everything on the tortillas, melt the cheese and add your favorite hot sauce for extra heat if you like.

Spicy Mini Cheese Steak Tostadas

1 lb beef round, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large cubanelle pepper, julienned
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 tsp Adobo, see recipe below
1 tsp sea salt
10 mini (4″) corn tortillas, see recipe below
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp parsley
1-2 tbsp butter
hot sauce

Corn Tortillas

1 1/2 cup Masa corn flour (found in Latin grocer or any large supermarket)
3/4 cup of hot water

1. Heat up about 2 tbsp of oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Season the beef  with the Adobo and add to the hot oil. Saute beef until cooked through and nicely browned. After beef browned add about 1/2 cup of water, stir and let it reduce. The beef should be a bit moist and saucy.

2. While the beef is cooking prep onions, pepper and garlic. In a separate saute pan heat up about 1-2 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the peppers and cook until soft, add the garlic and season with a tsp of salt. Once cooked , add to a bowl and set aside.

3. In a bowl, add corn flour then slowly add the hot water and stir until dough forms. If it’s too sticky, add more flour. Knead dough on floured board and divide dough into about 10 golf sized balls. Flatten each in a tortilla press for perfect round tortillas or with a rolling pin between sheets of parchment paper. Cook tortillas in a hot pan with a tbsp of butter for about 1 minute on each side. The thinner the tortilla the less time it needs to cook. Tortillas should be a bit brown on each side.

4. Set oven to broil. Place tortillas on an oven proof dish, top with the steak, then top with the onions and peppers. Top with the mozzarella cheese and place in the broiler only until cheese melts. Top with you favorite hot sauce.

Spicy Adobo Seasoning

Adobo seasoning can be purchased in the Latin aisle of a supermarket but I like making my own. It isn’t a spicy seasoning but I add a little cayenne pepper to mine. You can leave this out if you like. Check out my recipe below.

1 tbsp Himalayan Sea salt
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp hot paprika
2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black ground pepper
1 tsp dried garlic

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Spicy Asian Chicken Skewers

I made these for dinner the other night and really had to stop myself from eating all of it! These Asian inspired skewers are spicy, flavorful, and trust me, you will be licking your fingers.

These are perfect for a week night dinner since it only takes as long as you need to marinate, fire up the grill and cook. You can also save some time by marinating the night before. When I get home late from work I just want something quick, light and satisfying so I don’t feel so weighted down afterwards. Pairing these spicy Asian chicken skewers with a chilled Gruner Veltliner is perfect and one of my go-to wines for spicy foods since it’s fruity and refreshing but not sweet. This really hit the spot!

What spicy dish do you like to make when time is not on your hands?

Spicy Asian Chicken Skewers
yields about 8-10 skewers

1 lb chicken breast or chicken tenders
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp scallions, chopped
skewers

1. Mix all ingredients, except for the chicken, in a bowl and stir well.

2. Cut the chicken breasts into strips or use pre-cut chicken tender and place in a bowl. Add the liquid mixture to chicken and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

3. Skewer the chicken and grill for about 15 minutes.

I made these in an indoor grill and was able to use some of the drippings to keep the skewers moist. You can reserve some of the liquid also and cook on stove top quickly since its had raw chicken in it and pour the reduced sauce over skewers. Enjoy!

Also, if you want a heavier meal just make a side of white rice or grill some of your favorite veggies.  A side of grilled Chinese broccoli would go well with these. Just be sure to grill them separately since meats and vegetables have different cook times.

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Easy Sunday Dinner: Grilled Chicken and Spicy Mexican Corn on the Cob

Here’s an easy Sunday dinner for you, perfect for when you want simple, flavorful foods without having to spend the whole day in the kitchen. This took me about 20-30 minutes to make, seriously. It’s healthy, gluten free, low fat and the leafy greens are low in calories and high on vitamins. Oh, and the spicy corn on the cob, the kind you find at Mexican fairs, balances this dish on flavor. In Mexico they use crema but I didn’t have any so I used sour cream instead which is very similar. If you never had this spicy corn you have to try it. Simply out of this world!

Happy Sunday and enjoy this glorious day!!

Grilled Chicken with Spicy Mexican Corn on Cob

chicken breasts
corn on the cob
escarole bunch
seasoned chile salt
sour cream
Tajin (or your favorite chile pepper powder)
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 tbsp butter

1. Season the chicken with with a mixture of chili salt. Grill the chicken until cooked all the way through.

2. Grill corn with or without husk. Grilling with husk makes it much more plump and juicy, just make sure to get rid of all the silk. Slather on the sour cream and sprinkle as much Tajin as you like.

3. Saute the escarole in butter and garlic with a little chili salt until wilted on medium heat. Remove from heat.

Enjoy your Sunday dinner!

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