chicken

Campfire Nachos

Back in the day, pre-kiddos, my husband and I actually went out on dates.  Like I real-deal left the house and even wore heels! …memories… That being said, one of our favorite places to go was the Yard House for extra-large beers and appetizers, my fave being their chicken nachos.  Given my current, complete “mom life” and flip flops, I still crave those crunchy, cheesy chips, but it’s not as easy to get.

Sooooo, I made my own version!  All I have to say, is that Yard House has best watch-out, because mine are just as legit.  Ok, the multi-million dollar restaurant is probably safe, they’ll just be losing my $13.95. 😉

*Absolutely buy your favorite tortilla chip, BUT for the best experience, I buy mine from our bakery.  They’re 100% fresh, crunchy, salty and thick.  Yes, normally I’d like thin chips for my salsa, but with heavy piled nachos you do NOT want your chip to break, right??  Eating nachos with utensils defeats the entire purpose, so please listen to me folks! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips 
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (i.e. rotisserie); you can also use ground beef or brisket
  • 1 can Borracho beans, drained
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce red, green or both (1/2+1/2 cup…which I love to do!)
  • 2+ cups cheese, shredded (fresh melts best, i.e. cheddar or jack)
  • Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, sour cream

Using a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable foil pan, layer in 1/2 of the tortilla chips, followed by 1/2 each of the shredded chicken (or beef), beans, enchilada sauce and cheese.  Repeat the same process with another layer.

Warm the prepared nachos, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, either over your campfire, on your grill or in the oven (350 degrees).  Once the nachos are heated through, remove and top with a scoop each of the guacamole, Pico de Gallo and sour cream.  Serve warm.

**If preparing on the campfire or grill, you can loosely cover with foil to speed up the cooking time.

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CampfireNachos3

Balsamic Strawberry Chicken Quesadilla

I’m quite the advocate of a great balsamic reduction.  No, not the vinegar (though good where it is needed), but the rich, slightly sweet glaze.  Now, while I mainly consume it over pillow-like soft slices of mozzarella sprinkled with coarse salt, I felt I needed to broaden both the sauce’s and my horizon.  With that being said, I have concocted the easiest hand-held, Springtime delight!

Likely from my raising in Arizona, I am quite partial to the quesadilla, so I decided what better than to “stuff” a few of my favorite light and fresh ingredients into a tortilla and grill up!

Man oh man, when I tell ya that the popular Mexican favorite doesn’t have to contain south-of-the-border ingredients after all!  It was everything sweet, tangy, crunchy and fresh with the addition of fruit and herbs, vegetables, goat cheese and pecans…last but not least, the balsamic reduction to bring it all together!

*If you like it extra, ooey-gooey cheesy, please feel free to add mozzarella as well! 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 6 flour tortillas (regular, spinach, low-carb, whole wheat, etc)
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 (8oz) bottle Balsamic Reduction (not to be confused with vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

In a Ziploc bag, combine the extra virgin olive oil, a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of the balsamic reduction with the chicken.  Zip up, massage to coat and set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate.

Grill the chicken, until cooked through and the juices run clear; thinly slice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the butter.  On each tortilla, layer an even amount of the cooked chicken, strawberries, spinach leaves, pecans and goat cheese crumbles.  Fold in half and cook each side of the quesadilla until golden brown in color.

To serve:  Slice into wedges with a pizza cutter, sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and drizzle the remaining balsamic reduction overtop, enjoy!

quesadillaStrawBasilChx

 

Sweet Lemon Pasta

This is a great way to kick off the warmth of Spring!  So good that I’m sure you’ll carry this lightly sweet and tangy dish all the way through summer!  It’s bright, fresh and quite versatile as I like to pair it with grilled shrimp or chicken, or just eat it as is for a light lunch!

*To amp up your veggie intake, prepare this with roasted spaghetti squash instead of pasta noodles.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, the leaves (if using dried about 1 tsp) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 8oz of pasta of choice (I prefer a thin noodle for the light sauce) or roasted spaghetti squash

If adding chicken:

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cubed in 1″ pieces
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Garnish (optional)

  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Lemon wedges

Bring water to a boil, cook noodles to package directions, drain and set aside.  Alternatively, roast spaghetti squash in oven, shred with fork, set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the honey, lemon juice, thyme leaves, salt and olive oil.  Whisk and set aside.

Bring a large, non-stick skillet to med-high heat.  Add in the olive oil and the chicken seasoned with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook 3-4 minutes on each side to create a nice browned color.

With the chicken still in the pan, pour in the chicken broth and scrape up any brown bits (flavor!) and then pour in the sauce.  Turn down to med-low heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, till slightly reduced, stirring occasionally.

Add your cooked pasta or spaghetti squash straight to the chicken and sauce and toss to combine.  Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and lemon wedges…oh, and LOTS of warm, garlicky breadsticks!!  Enjoy! xo

SweetLemonPasta2

 

Chicken Cordon Bleu en Croute

Fancy title, right?  I agree (to my own question), but it’s really so easy that my mother could do it and I’m not even saying that meanly. 😉  *unlike me, she loathes the kitchen.

I have another affinity to this recipe, not just because of it’s taste, but largely in part that it was my first “1st Place” winning recipe in a magazine contest a few years back!  Yep, I received my first $check$ from this and I often wonder who else in the world has since made it in their kitchen.

Ok, on to the backstory of the famous Chicken Cordon Bleu for those not ‘in the know’…

“A cordon bleu or schnitzel cordon bleu is a dish of meat wrapped around cheese, then breaded and pan-fried or deep-fried. Veal or pork cordon bleu is made of veal or pork pounded thin and wrapped around a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, breaded, and then pan fried or baked. For chicken cordon bleu chicken breast is used instead of veal. Ham cordon bleu is ham stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.”

Now that we’re all on the same page, you will see how I fancied my version up with baking it in the puff pastry and adding a light pan sauce to it.  No messy frying involved.  Plus with it’s gussied up appearance, this make a for a great in-home date night meal or you can easily double or triple the recipe for a dinner party.

*If shallots aren’t readily available (note: they’re usually by the garlic in your produce section), you may use about a tablespoon of diced red onion + a minced garlic clove.

**The puff pastry will be located in your freezer section’s dessert aisle.  My go to is from Pepperidge Farm, fyi.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 thin slices ham, Black Forest ham from deli section preferred 
  • Egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water)

Pan Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
  • small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Chicken: Cut each breast horizontally through the center to create a total of four pieces. Place pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound gently to an even thickness, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place two chicken breast pieces in pan at a time and cook 2–3 minutes on each side to brown. Repeat with remaining chicken, then set aside to cool (no need to fully cook the chicken). Keep the skillet handy for further use; do not clean.
4. Cut the sheet of puff pastry dough into four squares. On a floured surface using a floured rolling pin, roll each square until doubled in size. Layer a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of ham and piece of seared chicken on the dough diagonally and fold the dough ends over the stack to form a pocket. Turn seam side down and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pieces of cheese, ham, chicken and pastry dough. Place two croutes on each baking sheet.
5. Brush tops with the egg wash. Place both baking sheets in oven and bake 25–30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes.
6. Sauce: About 15 minutes before the chicken is done, start the sauce. On medium-high, heat butter in the same pan used to sear the chicken. Add the minced shallot. When shallot starts to soften and brown, add the flour, stirring constantly to make a golden roux. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, then add the broth. Stir continuously until reduced by about half.
7. Spoon sauce onto plates and set two chicken croutes on each plate.  I like to serve our with a side of steamed or roasted asparagus.  Enjoy!

ChickenCordonBleu

 

Adobo Shrimp Primavera

If this is your first time on my site, you may have noticed that I like to take your traditional recipes and give them a twist and a spike in flavor!  Who needs hum-drum?

Though it’s technically still winter and we definitely  have our cold days and nights, we also have some quite warm days (it is bi-polar Texas after all) and I was just totally over the typical stew dinner.  So here I give you my “Adobo Shrimp Primavera”, just in time for our approaching Spring!

This alfredo has a great smoky and slightly spicy flavor from both the chipotles and the adobo seasoning, but it keeps with tradition using cream and parmesan cheese.  You can also use your favorite fresh vegetables of choice for the primavera aspect and if you don’t care for shrimp, then use chicken!  ..or hey, keep it vegetarian and enjoy the best aspect of all…that sauce!!

https://www.goya.com/en/products/adobo-with-pepper

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb large fresh or thawed shrimp
  • 1-1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning (i.e. Goya brand)
  • 16oz pasta noodles of choice
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow squash, thickly sliced
  • 6oz asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 Chipotle in Adobo peppers, finely diced + 1 Tbsp sauce (use 1 pepper for mild sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (half & half ok)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

 

Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with the Adobo seasoning, set aside.

Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and butter along with the squash, asparagus and spinach.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Next, stir in the halved cherry tomatoes, heavy cream, diced chipotle pepper + sauce and the shrimp.  Toss and cook until shrimp are opaque, about 6-7 minutes.

Finally add in the cooked and drained pasta noodles and parmesan cheese; toss and cook until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes.  Taste for more Adobo seasoning and/or salt if needed.

Serve in a large bowl along with extra parmesan cheese to garnish and warm crusty bread for soaking up the rich, slightly smoky and spicy cream sauce.  Enjoy!!

ShrimpAlfredo

Pozole Verde de Pollo

I’mmm baack….with my awesome “Spanglish” in the kitchen!  Which, more often than not, means that something yummy is cooking up!  So today, mi amigos, I bring you a Carly rendition of pozole (or posole, depending what side of the tracks you’re on)!

In translation, pozole means “hominy”, which is basically a large, soft corn kernel.  This hominy is then stewed with a meat, peppers, and broth and served with various toppings for your taste bud’s enjoyment.

Now, typically, I like to make the rojo (red) version with seared pork chunks, but today I went out of my comfort zone and opted for verde (green) and chicken!  I must say, though quite different flavor profiles, this one is equally amazing!  A bit tart from the tomatillos, but the charred peppers and garlic yield that smokiness you want and they both pair wonderfully with the slightly salty broth and tender shredded chicken.

In closing, winter is not yet over (but please hurry up) and we still crave that bowl of warm soup on a cold day.  So next Domingo (that’s Sunday to my non Spanglish friends), try out this pot of yumminess!  It will not disappoint!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed & halved
  • 4 poblano/Anaheim chiles (you can mix and match if desired)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic, in skins
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, with stems
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2+ teaspoons cumin
  • 2+ teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2-3 lbs chicken thighs, boneless/skinless, cut into rough chunks
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 28oz can white hominy, drained
  • 4-8oz can chopped green chilies, drained

Garnish ideas

  • Radishes, thinly cut into matchsticks or sliced
  • Avocado, sliced or 1/2″ chunks
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Mexican crema/ sour cream
  • Pickled onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Peppitas, toasted
  • Tortillas, warmed

Verde Sauce

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with the tomatillos (cut side down) and also place the poblano/Anaheim and jalapeno peppers along with the whole garlic cloves (still in husks) beside them.

Place your baking sheet on top rack, 6-8″ from the broiler and turn the warm oven to HI Broil.  Watch closely with oven door cracked, but allow the tomatillos to brown and soften and the peppers to bubble up and char, turning with tongs as needed.  Remove and place all of the charred peppers in a large zip lock gallon bag.  Close and allow peppers to steam for 15-20 minutes.  Once time is up, peel off the pepper’s skin and stems and scrape out the seeds from each.  You can also squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skin.

In a blender, combine 1/2 cup of chicken broth with the now roasted tomatillos (and any sheet pan juices left behind), steamed chilies and peppers, garlic cloves, cilantro, cumin,  Mexican oregano, lime juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  *If you like a thin broth, you can now strain this through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and discard any extra skins/seeds.  However, I like the rustic’ness of it all and do not strain.

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In a large Dutch oven pot (with lid), heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Add in the cut up chicken thighs and sear and brown all sides; also add in the diced onion.

Once seared, pour the remaining chicken broth over the browned poultry to deglaze the pan; scrape up all of the brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.  Flavor right there!

Next, pour in the Verde sauce you made in your blender along with the drained hominy and green chilies (I also like to add another teaspoon or so of cumin and Mexican oregano here again).  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, drop way down to a simmer and cover.  Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours.  Slightly shred chicken chunks, if desired.

Serve

Ladle into bowls and top with your desired garnishes, serve with warm tortillas.  Enjoy!

PozoleVerde2

 

French Onion Chicken Poutine

What kind of comfort-food-sort-of-blogger would I be without a plate full of hot salted fries, topped with a rich gravy and melty cheese chunks?  Not one that I would like to know…

Now here in the states, we fondly know of this dish as Disco Fries (main difference being the variety of cheese overtop), but it’s more commonly known everywhere as “Poutine” thanks to our friends north of the border, eh Canada?  That main difference, again, is the use of real cheese curds…and please choose the white variety for more authenticity.

Now myself, I find the cheese curds in the gourmet cheese/deli section, but if you just cannot track them down, you can substitute torn full-fat mozzarella chunks (NOT the fresh mozzarella you’d make a pizza with) as you actually do not want these cheese chunks to completely melt.

Now to add my weird twist on the forever popular dish, I made a classic French onion soup combined with chicken (my boys always HAVE to have their protein) and turned it into a poutine.  So whether you prefer to eat this with your hands or a fork, you will NOT be unsatisfied!  It’s also equally great as leftovers!!

 

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2-4 (about 1lb) chicken breast or thighs, skinless/boneless
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons beef broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Cheese curds
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped, for topping (optional)

French Fries

  • Frozen bagged fries are fine or….
  • 4 very large russet potatoes, skin on, cut into 1″ wide fries
  • Vegetable/ or Canola oil, to fil a large skillet/pot 2″ (or deep fryer)
  • Kosher salt

Begin by cleaning and cutting your potatoes, if making homemade fries.  Add the cut potatoes to a large bowl of ice water and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  This helps to remove the starch, resulting in a crispier fry.  *Completely pat dry before frying.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large oven-safe skillet, over low heat, melt butter. Add onions and 4 tablespoons of the beef broth; sauté onions till a buttery brown in shade and are rich and caramelized, about 20+ minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

While onions are cooking, prepare the chicken by drizzling with oil, then seasoning with salt & pepper and the Italian seasonings. Once onions have finished cooking and are removed from the pan, cook chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat (don’t clean out the pan between the onions and chicken) until browned on both sides. (Chicken may not be fully cooked through yet, that is okay).  Remove from pan.

To the skillet, pour in the beef broth over medium-high heat to deglaze and stir while scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Next, turn down to medium-low heat and whisk in the flour thoroughly for 5-6 minutes until smooth; taste for seasoning.  Add the sautéed onions and browned chicken back in.  Cover the chicken with the Swiss cheese slices and transfer, uncovered, to the oven for 10 minutes, till cheese is melted and bubbly.

*Meanwhile, pat dry (between two towels) and fry up the sliced potatoes.  Salt and keep warm. **After you fry, transfer each batch to a paper towel/baking rack lined baking sheet and straight into a 225 degrees preheated oven.

Remove the skillet of your French Onion Chicken from the oven and either shred or slice the chicken in pan.  Ladle the rich gravy and chicken over your fries and top with the fresh, chopped parsley and cheese curds!  Enjoy!…because I so know you will!!

Poutine

 

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