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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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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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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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Grilled Chicken Smothered in Tomatillo Salsa and Cheese

Ok this isn’t the prettiest dish but looks can be so deceiving! This grilled chicken dish is moist, tangy, spicy, and simply delicious. I picked up some tomatillos at the market the other day to make a salsa for chips but decided on using it to smother some grilled chicken. I went full blown Mexican this month and loved making all these dishes so hopefully you’ve enjoyed them as well.

I grilled the chicken using my George Foreman grill because the weather wasn’t holding up. The grill worked just fine and was able to get nice grill marks on the chicken. I then prepared the sauce in a blender and covered the grilled chicken, added cheese and baked until cheese melted. This was an incredibly easy dish to make and took about 30 minutes.

I also made my own tortillas for the first time! I’m never buying store bought corn tortillas again. They came out a little thick but next time I think I’ll invest in a tortilla press for perfect tortillas every time.

Grilled Chicken Smothered in Tomatillo Salsa

2 lbs chicken breast
5-6 tomatillos, roughly chopped
1 tsp cayanne pepper sauce
1 medium onion
1 tbsp fresh parseley, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
y
1 tsp black ground pepper
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 serrano pepper, sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and squeeze lemon over the chicken breasts. Grill the chicken until cooked all the way through. Add the tomatillos, pepper sauce, onion, parseley, cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, and half the serrano pepper to a blender and puree ingredients. Add the chicken to a baking dish and cover completely with the tomatillo salsa. Add the cheese and remaining serrano chile slices on top and bake chicken for about 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Remove from oven and top with cilantro.

Tortillas
1 cup maseca corn flour
3/4 cup of hot water
1/4 tsp salt

In a bowl add the flour, salt then slowly add the water until a dough is formed. Roll about 2-3 tbsp of dough in hand to shape like a ball then flatten with the palm of your on a floured board. Lay a piece of parchment paper on top and roll until desired thickeness. Heat up each tortilla in a heavy pan (cast iron) with a pat of butter until tortillas are a little browned on both sides.

note: you can get Maseca corn flour from a Latin grocery store. Maseca is the brand name of a very fine corn flour that’s made with a bit of lime.

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All the Way Mexican in May: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I might have been Mexican in a previous life…Frida Kahlo maybe? Ooh the suffering…never mind. I do love her work though and that of her husband, Diego Rivera, so much so that I named my long hair Chihuahua after him. I’ve always been drawn to Mexico’s rich culture, textiles, the beautiful, bright colors and the food, can’t forget the food. I always enjoyed Mexican food but it wasn’t until I first visited Cancun about 20 years ago that I got to experience real Mexican food. Yes, Cancun, the tourist and spring break hot spot…don’t laugh!

Cancun isn’t exactly a foodie destination but I’ve always been one of those to go off the beaten path and wander to where the locals would hang out. I avoided Senor Frogs the like plague (sorry senor) and any other similar establishment that lined the main roads in search of local eateries. What I loved about the food was the simplicity, the spicy heat and the use of fresh ingredients. Everything tasted homemade, like someone’s Grandma was in the kitchen. Today when I go out for Mexican food, I want that same type of experience, homemade, fresh and authentic…and strong margaritas of course!!

For the month of May I’m going to do a Mexico series and post pictures of my inspirations, my trips to Mexico and as many recipes as I can. It’ll be my tribute to one of my favorite places.

So without further ado, here’s a classic that’s so easy and quick to make. It only looks complicated but it takes about an hour to pull this together. Just prep your ingredients and follow easy instructions below. The flavors are bold and fresh and so rewarding! It’s a healthy bowl of soup too!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2-3 chicken breasts, seasoned cooked and shredded
4 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 chipotles in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 qt of water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped & extra for topping
3 corn tortillas
sea salt to taste
1 haas avocado, cubed
handful of tortilla chips or fry up 3 corn tortillas strips
shredded white or yellow cheddar
handful of radishes, sliced

1. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic and chipotle to a blender and puree.

2. In large pot, heat up oil on medium heat, then add tomato mixture and let cook.

3. Add chicken bouillon and water and turn up heat to high. Add the cooked chicken and salt to taste. The chicken bouillon already has salt so you want to make sure you just added enough salt to your liking. Add the cilantro and let soup cook for 10 minutes until the flavors are well blended.

4. Take the corn tortillas, tear it to pieces and just drop it in the soup. This will help thicken the soup. Lower heat and let soup simmer for another 10 minutes.

5. Ladle soup into bowl and top with a bit of avocado, shredded cheese, radishes, fresh cilantro and crumbled pieces of tortilla chips, this last ingredient will give it a nice crunch.

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Easy Sunday Dinner: Spicy Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti

The last thing I want to do on a Sunday is prepare an elaborate meal, unless there’s a special holiday coming up which is what I’ll be doing next week Sunday for Easter. During those times I don’t mind since I love the times spent with family but most of the time, I just want to chill out on a Sunday. Get up, walk the dog, make breakfast with some strong Bustelo coffee, watch the Sunday news and kick back. I might make plans to go into the city to check out an artsy or foodie event but if I stay in I want to make easy meals. Sometimes I’ll make large quantities so I can have some for dinner or lunch during the week and this is one of those dishes! The all too familiar spaghetti and meatballs but kicked up with a little heat and made with ground chicken…for an easy Sunday dinner.

I usually have beef meatballs but wanted to try chicken instead for a much healthier version….AND with all the pink slime talk I’ve kind of been turned off by ground beef again. I don’t know why people are flipping out because it really isn’t new news but guess with of all the attention it’s getting it’s fresh on everyone’s mind. Ever since that book came out, Fast Food Nation, I’ve been eating less red meat and processed foods in general. It’s all about moderation and buying foods from stores and butchers you trust so I say, eat what you like, just make informed choices. OK, so back to the meatballs…

After you make your meatballs, refrigerate them since you’ll need to make your sauce next and it will need to simmer it for at least 30 minutes. OR you can start your sauce first and then make your meatballs while sauce is simmering. Basically you want the flavors to blend well together. Place the lid on while simmering.

Place the meatballs into the sauce carefully, you don’t want them to break apart. Ladle the sauce over each meatball so they’re covered and cook for another 30 minutes.

I always thought meatballs were so complicated but just look how simple it is. I’d say the most difficult part or laborious part, since it wasn’t difficult at all, was rolling each meatball…and really, who can’t do that?

Serve it family style, with a salad, some crusty Italian bread, and a nice bottle of wine and just chill out and enjoy your Sunday evening.

Serrano Chile Chicken Meatballs and Spaghetti
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile pepper, diced
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric

In a bowl add the ground chicken, onion, garlic, chile pepper, and bread crumbs and mix well. In a separate bowl beat the egg then add the salt, black pepper, cumin and turmeric and mix well. Add the egg mixture to the meat and mix well.

Make the meatballs by spooning meat into hand and rolling. You should have about 12 golf ball sized meatballs.

After you make the sauce and it has simmered for 30 minutes, add the meat balls to the spicy tomato sauce and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Make spaghetti according to directions on the box, drain and spoon the meatballs over it.

Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 30 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, diced
2 jalapenos, sliced
4 basil leaves, ripped apart
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

In a large pot (large enough to hold all meatballs), heat up oil on high heat. Add onion and let cook until translucent. Stir in jalapenos then add the tomato sauce and the diced tomatoes. Mix well then add the garlic, basil leaves, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Turn heat down to low, cover pot and let sauce simmer on low heat for about 1/2 hour.

You can make it spicier by adding extra jalapenos and serrano chiles but I really like this heat level, you can taste all the ingredients in the meatballs and the sauce.

Serve with spaghetti or make meatball hoagies, either way its a great meal!

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Tequila Chile Lime Chicken Tenders with Guacamole

Tequila Chile Lime Chicken Tenders

1 lb chicken tenders
1 tsp of Adobo
1/2 tsp of chile pepper powder + 1 tsp for flour
juice from 1 lime
1 oz of tequila
1 cup of flour
dash of salt

Season the chicken with adobo, chile powder, lime juice and tequila. Let marinate for 1 hr.

Add the remaining tsp of chile powder and dash of salt to flour and mix. Coat chicken tenders in flour mixture.

Heat 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in saute pan on medium heat. When oil is hot, pan fry the chicken until brown and crispy on both sides. About 8 minutes each side. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.

Top with guacamole and serve with your favorite margaritas or try our spicy tamarind margarita for a great spicy appetizer.

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Chicken Banh Mi with a Little Twist

Banh Mi sandwiches exploded onto the scene couple of years ago and are here to stay. Many shops have sprouted up in and around NYC and other metro areas in the US and we’re still obsessing about them, a tell tale sign of a great sandwich. This wave hasn’t quite hit Jersey yet but it will. The Banh Mi is a popular Vietnamese sandwich made with pork, chicken, or beef along with pickled veggies, jalapeno slices and a spicy mayo. The sandwich is so simple and yet so friggin’ good you’ll want to make this at home over and over again.

I, of course, had to make my own version of the sandwich which sort of happens with most recipes I make, especially when I’m seasoning meat. I just have to use Adobo! I use it in my chili, tacos, burgers, etc. It’s what happens when you’re growing up in the US and cultures and food traditions collide. Traditional dishes sometimes become some hybrid of American and _______ “fill the blank” cuisines! In our home that meant sofrito (Latino mirepoix) and tomato paste in our “Italian” spaghetti or pink potato salad which Mom always made using beets. Friends would come over and say what the hell is that, why is it pink?! I’d just say man, just eat it, it’s Dominican style!

For this sandwich I pretty much stayed true to the Vietnamese style for the most part but I made a spicy mayo using chipotle and used Adobo to season the chicken. Talk about hybrid, ha! Seriously though, the flavors work really well. Adobo is just a spice blend of salt, garlic, pepper and turmeric and most banh mi sandwiches call for jalapenos for extra spice so the smoky chipotle mayo made sense.

One of the keys ingredients to making a great Banh Mi is the bread. Actually the translation in Vietnamese just means bread, loaf or slice of bread which is probably why the filling varies so much. So first find a great bakery and get a freshly baked French baguette or Italian hoagie style bread. The Vietnamese French style baguette is what’s traditionally used but I used Italian hoagie style bread which works just fine. The important thing is that the bread is fresh, light, soft on the inside and chewy on the outside.

Top with a thinly sliced cucumber, cilantro and extra spicy sauce and you’ll have a delicious, healthy, hearty meal. If you’re in the city or find yourself near a Vietnamese community please try one of these BUT if you can’t, make the one below and let me know what you think.

Chicken Banh Mi with a Twist

1 chicken breast
dash or 2 of Adobo
juice of 1/2 lemon
pickled carrots and daikon
1-2 slices of cucumber, sliced lengthwise
2-3 sprigs of cilantro
1-2 tbsp of spicy mayo
1 loaf of Italian hoagie bread
vegetable oil for sauteing
sriracha for extra spice

Season chicken with Adobo and squeeze of lime. Let marinate for about 1/2 hour. Heat oil on medium heat, add chicken breast and saute until chicken is cooked through. Slice chicken breast on a biased cut.

Spread a generous amount of spicy mayo on both sides of bread, add sliced chicken and top with pickled carrots and diakon. Top with slice of cucumber and cilantro.

For extra spice, top with some sriracha and enjoy!!

Pickled Carrots and Daikon

1 medium carrot, julienne
1 medium daikon, julienne
1 jalapeno, julienne
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

Add water, vinegar, salt, sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Add carrots, daikon and jalapeno to a small, clean glass jar and then fill jar with liquid. Let sit for several hours before using but best if overnight.

Chipotle Cream Sauce

1/2 cup mayo
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, minced

Puree all ingredients until smooth.

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Spicy General Tso Chicken

This is it, the final dish in this week’s Chinese New Year series and what a tasty week it’s been! So many great Chinese food recipes out there but I chose three of the ones I always order when I’m in the mood for take out. My third dish is General Tso…yes, I can hear you, “that’s so American” but I just couldn’t help myself, I love the sweet, spicy and crispy flavors in this dish. When I’m in the mood for real Chinese I’ll just head over to Joe Shanghai’s in New York City’s Chinatown or Szechuan Gourmet on 39th, and when I’m really feeling adventurous I’ll trek over to Main St, Queens!

So I selected a recipe I had bookmarked from the From Away blog simply because the photos were stunning and mouth watering. Making recipes from books, magazines, and online sites can be a hit or a miss at times since dishes never come out exactly as shown or expected. This one however was a definite hit! I did make a couple of changes like adding more chile peppers because I just like it extra spicy and found a great substitute for sherry because I didn’t have any but other than that I pretty much followed their instructions step by step.

So ok, I didn’t have sherry on hand and figured I can use dry white wine as as substitute. I usually keep wine stocked but nooo, I didn’t have that either! No worries though, not all was lost since apparently a mixture of vinegar, sugar and lemon works just as well, thanks to Google! Let me tell you, the dish tasted just like the restaurant version, but only better! Maybe the sherry would have made a slight difference and next time I make this I’ll try it but I was very happy with the results. Here I paired it with a lychee martini to complement the dish, see martini recipe below. This is really a great meal, and not the sugary, fatty mess you get sometimes. Once you make this, I’m sure you won’t want to order it again.

Spicy General Tso Chicken with Rice
adapted from From Away

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of chicken stock
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
2 tsp of sesame oil
2 tsp of sirracha
3 tbsp of sugar
2 tsp corn starch + 1/3 cup for coating chicken
1 lb boneless chicken breast, cubed
2 tbsp dry white sherry
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
10 dried Chinese chile peppers – break open 2 when cooking
3 scallions, diced 1/2 in
oil for frying

1. Add the first 6 ingredients to a bowl, then add the cornstarch and mix well, set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, add diced chicken, sherry and let marinate for 15 minutes. After marinating, pat dry the chicken with paper towels and add the 1/3 cup of cornstarch until chicken is well coated.

3. Fry chicken in a pan with vegetable oil until crispy, about 8 minutes, make sure both sides are cooked. Remove chicken from oil and place on paper towels to absorb oil. Discard oil used but leave about a tbsp.

4. Add garlic, ginger to pan and saute for a few seconds then add scallions and peppers and saute for less than a minute. For a spicier dish, break apart at least 2 of the chile peppers. Add the fried chicken to pan and stir well. Finally, add the liquid mixture and continue to stir until sauce thickens.

5. Serve over white or brown rice!

Lychee Martini
1 part vodka
1 part lychee juice
lychee for garnish

Add vodka and lychee juice to a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake it, shake it! Drop a lychee to a chilled martini glass and pour. Enjoy!

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