Tag Archives: fresh

Slow Cooker Chicken Bahn Mi

Basically, I’m in love with any sort of meal that involves meat between two slices of crusty bread, aka the glorious “sandwich”!  This version is known as a Bahn Mi and is of Vietnamese roots…Now, I do not claim this to be truly authentic, like from those great Viet markets along the gulf coast of Texas.  I do, however, claim that this juicy pull-apart sweet heat sandwich WILL knock your socks off and be a keeper when at a loss for a dinner idea!

*Feel free to tweak the ‘spicy mayo’ to your liking.  I like mine pretty spicy, so I typically add more Sriracha to kick it up!

**I use my mandolin to cut the veggies for the pickled slaw; be careful as these are SHARP!  You can also cut with a knife or in round slices.

***Feel free to use pork or even shrimp (Just don’t put the shrimp in the slow-cooker please ;).  Also, you can make this into a rice bowl, a salad, tacos or even lettuce wraps!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth (or water)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, cayenne, smoked paprika, red pepper flake

Pickled Slaw

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 jalapeno thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pinch of both salt and sugar

Spicy Mayo

  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • squeeze of lime juice

Garnish

  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Crusty French rolls

BahnMi1

Slow Cooker:  Spray the slow cooker with non-stick spray and place in the chicken.  Next whisk together all of the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours.  *When finished, shred with two forks and keep in the pans juices.

In a small pan, bring the 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1/2 cup water and a pinch each of salt and sugar to a boil.  Place the thinly sliced carrots, cucumber and jalapenos into a bowl and pour the hot vinegar/water over top.  Cover and allow to “pickle” for at least 30 minutes.  *This can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator overnight as well.

BahnMi2

Spicy Mayo:  Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.  Feel free to tweak the ingredient amount to your liking.

To assemble:  Slice each crusty roll in half lengthwise (I like to give it a light toasting), then slather on a good amount of your spicy mayo on each side.

Lay down some of the sweet-heat, shredded chicken and top with the pickled vegetables.  Finally, garnish with the chopped, fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime and the top of the toasted roll!  Enjoy!

BahnMi3

Spiked Cranberry Sweet Tea Palmer’s

We’ve had some wacky winter weather so far here in Texas.   My boys are wanting their snow jackets, sleds and snowmen, but I have to say…I’m pretty content in my flip flops and tank tops.

Given that it’s MUCH warmer than usual, I am not craving a hot toddy but in fact something a bit more refreshing…and what’s more summer’y than sweet tea and lemonade!   This time I wanted to take the otherwise known “Arnold Palmer” up a notch by incorporating a VERY easy flavored simple syrup made with fresh Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries…Making it into the most perfect southern libation!

To pick up your very own bag of Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries, you can go online to http://www.CapeCodSelect.com to order online/find your location or head to my favorite local pick up at:

Central Market

4651 WestFree way 
Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Follow my friends Cape Cod Select at:

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The Starting Lineup

  • Cranberry Simple Syrup *(recipe below)
  • Sweet Tea Vodka
  • Sweet Tea (store bought or homemade)
  • Lemonade (homemade ..or the real stuff please if store bought 😉
  • Ice, cranberries and lemon wedges (garnish)

Cranberry Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 granulated sugar

In a blender, pulse the cranberries till they’re nice and minced up.  Next add these along with the water and sugar to a small saucepan a bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stirring often to combine.

Once the sugar has disolved, remove from heat and pour into a sieve or fine mesh cloth over a bowl to remove excess cranberry pieces (optional).  Often times I use as is because I like the texture from the cranberry bits.

Transfer to a sealed jar and refridgerate for up to a week.  

In your cocktail glass of choice, fill to the brim with ice and pour in 2-3oz of Sweet Tea flavored vodka.  Follow that with equal parts Sweat Tea and Lemonade leaving about 1/2 inch from the top.

Drizzle in a good ounce of your fresh cranberry simple syrup (give a quick stir) and top off with another floater of sweat tea vodka!  I like to garnish mine with a fresh lemon wedge and more cranberries…I also like to use a big ol’ glass for these too! 😉

Mexican White Bean Tuna Salad

Those who know me well, know that I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise.  Like, at all.  I’m not going to be annoying and not eat a sandwich when a friend makes one for me (who am I kidding…that never happens), but mayo is a huge reason I never opt for the tuna salad at most places.  *and yes, I cook with it when necessary, just not in abundance. 

Now THIS!!! THIS I can do!!  It has a bit of tang, a bit of heat, a real freshness and zero of that creamy mayo!  Sold!!!  It’s a much lighter take on the traditional version that you can still eat between sliced bread, a pita or a tortilla..or simply eat it on its own as the ‘salad’ that it is!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 packets/cans tuna, drained
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained AND rinsed
  • 1/2-1 calabacita (Mexican squash), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4″
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds & pith removed, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, rough chop 
  • 1/8 cup green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil, drizzle (1 Tbsp/ optional)
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste 

This really can’t be any easier…per usual, prep all of the veggies and protein. 

Next, in a large bowl, combine ALL of the above ingredients and toss together.  Yeah…super easy, right??  *you can cover and refridgerate or eat right away!  

I like to serve ours with sliced and seasoned tomatoes, lemon and lime wedges, pita bread or tortillas….and maybe a margarita or two.  Enjoy!!!

Salisbury Steak Bake

If you’re like me, you’re getting really tired of summer by now.  That heat can see its way out!  That being said, I’ve been dreaming of cooler weather, leaves changing, pumpkin everything, football and hearty, stick to your ribs kind of meals.  

Even as a child I’ve always been a fan of Salisbury steak, but as an adult I’ve graduated from eating the frozen dinner version.   Now I definitely have made the handmade patties and floured, seasoned and seared up, but THIS recipe is actually even easier than before!  I’ve turned the individual “steak” patties into a baked casserole dish!  An entire MEAL in one!

*If you’re in a super hurry, you can of course use a couple cans of drained green beans and quickly whip up some instant potatoes.  No harm in that at all.  

*If using fresh green beans, just rinse and chop to your desired size.  There is no need to cook these before adding to the casserole mix.  They will cook while in the oven, but still keep a nice bit of crunch.  Texture to the dish = thumbs up! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups Green beans, fresh or canned 
  • 1 pckg mushroom, halved
  • 1 packet au jus gravy mix
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1/4 cup panko + 1/4 cup flour (or you can use all flour)
  • 26oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • *Mashed potatoes (you can use real or instant)

As a great cook always does, begin by prepping the vegetables so that everything is ready to go!  Also, if you’re making your own mashed potatoes, you can begin that now.  *Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Heat a large pan with a tbsp of oil (evoo, vegetable) over medium heat,  add the onions and sauté for 5-6 minutes.  Once soft and translucent, you can then add in the ground beef, dry onion soup mix and season with pepper to taste. *salt isn’t necessary, as the gravy will have enough flavor to it.  After the meat has been cooked through, drain any excess grease, leaving about a tablespoon in pan.


Next you can fold in the panko/flour.  This helps to “tighten” up the mixture.


The vegetables!  Carefully mix in the mushrooms and green beans, as your pan is going to be pretty full by now.  Also, in a bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, au jus gravy packet and the 1/4 cup of water.


Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Pour the meat and veggie mix into it.  Then carefully mix in the creamy soup to combine.


Finally, top this off with the prepared mashed potatoes and pop into your preheated 350 degree oven, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.  The last few minutes, switch to “broil” to brown the top and create a crust.  Just make sure to watch carefully as not to burn.


There you have it!  Family comfort food at its finest!  If desired sprinkle on some chopped parsley for color and added brightness and dig in!  Enjoy!!

Frozen Blueberry Buttermilk 

Wait, no ice cream maker needed you say??  Yes, it’s true!  This summer hybrid of ice cream & frozen yogurt (that tastes just like cheesecake!!) can be made with just the help of your mixer!

It’s fantastic for these hot & humid summertime months..especially as a great memory making activity you can enjoy with your family!  Think about upcoming 4th of July, simply add some strawberries to the mix and there’s your red, white & blue dessert!!  You’ll be everyone’s favorite guest!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup whole milk vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Let’s begin!  In a saucepan over medium-heat, bring the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice to a simmer and allow the sugar to melt and berries to slightly break down (about 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and cool.

 Onto the base of it all!  In a stand mixer or with your hand mixer, combine the buttermilk, heavy cream and pinch of salt to a bowl.  Beat together on high speed just till medium stiff peaks form.  Slowly add in the sweetened condensed milk and the Greek yogurt till combined.

Pour half of the cream mixture into a loaf pan.  Next, pour in half of the cooled blueberry compote and create a swirl effect with a spoon, etc.  Repeat with the remaining half of cream & blueberries, again, slightly swirling together.

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours…enjoy!!

Baja Avocados

Summer is here!  Especially for my friends and family in Arizona..118 degrees this weekend?? Eek!  Given the brutally hot temps, who wants to start up their stove or oven?  I sure the heck wouldn’t!

So growing up, we always had a traditional shrimp cocktail at our holiday parties and I ate every bit…Then I got older and discovered “Mexican shrimp cocktail”. Wow!  Just wow!  The spice, the tang, the freshness!  I just can’t ever seem to go back to my childhood favorite of the traditional variety anymore.  We kind of broke-up.

Now flash forward to today…my hubby and I wanted a light dinner and being a self-described ‘Mexican food guru’ I knew just what to concoct!  Serve alongside a light rice or beans and you have a full and healthy meal!  *Heck, you can eat with crispy corn chips or just a spoon and straw for that matter!  I’m not one to judge in these instances.

So this quick, easy, ‘no cook’ meal fits the bill!  It doesn’t hurt a swimsuit body either 😉

*Pico de gallo is simply a mix of diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and salt.  I know, I know…it’s ridiculously easy to make and 99.9% of the time I make my own, but in a pinch of time you can by premade from the produce section.  I just doctored up mine up for more flavor and heat!  I promise it won’t happen again 😉 

The Starting Lineup

  • 3+ large avocados (I.e. Haas)
  • 1 Lb large shrimp, cooked and tails off
  • 1 cup Clamato juice
  • 1 cup pico de gallo*
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • A couple dashes of Mexican hot sauce (I.e. Tapatío)
  • Pinch of pepper 

We’ll begin by halving the avocados and carefully scooping out most of the avocado flesh, cut into 1″ chunks.  *You’ll want to keep a thin line of flesh against the skin to help it hold together and not fall apart on you. Keep the skins!

 Next, in a large bowl add together the avocado chunks, cooked shrimp, Clamato juice, pico de gallo, like juice, salt, cumin, pepper and hot sauce.  Gently mix together.  *You can cover and place in fridge for 30-60 minutes to meld flavors and chill OR serve immediately.

 Now you simply take a few spoonfuls and fill the hollowed out avocado skin.  Serve alongside a scoop of lime-cilantro rice for a light, summertime meal!  Enjoy!

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Chicken Stuffed Roasted Peppers 

The warmer months are upon us where no one wants a heavy meal and eating a reoccurring plate of grilled chicken over salad can get old.  Now this dish isn’t much different, it still has grilled chicken and vegetables, but it’s put together in a beautiful way with extra flavor from a basil pesto and goat cheese crumbles.  Still light and pretty darn healthy!

Another fun thing about this recipe is it can be done in your kitchen OR take it al fresco and do this ALL on your backyard grill for a fun, light dinner!

*I like to serve this either with: pasta tossed in the remaining pesto, with a pich of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper OR if I’m on the grill…I just grill up some more veggies!  Especially fresh asparagus, mushrooms, etc.

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1lb chicken
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed 
  • 1 4oz container crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 jar basil pesto
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper

Garnish/Side

  • Italian flat leaf parsley, rough chop
  • 1 pckg pasta noodles of choice or grilled vegetables  

Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees and rinsing, cutting in half and removing the seeds of the bell peppers.  In a large bowl combine about 1 Tbsp of EVOO along with 2 Tbsp’s of the basil pesto.  Toss the cut bell peppers in the mix. 

      

Lay the coated peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt & ground pepper over the tops.  Roast in the oven until just slightly soft (the skins start to bubble), about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  *Keep the oven on, but you can drop the temperature to 400 degrees. 

 While the peppers are roasting you can prepare the chicken and spinach.  Heat a pan with a bit of oil to medium-high heat while coating the chicken also with a tbsp of pesto and salt & pepper.  Cook/grill the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side, till just cooked through (I had thin strips, so please cook accordingly), and has a nice golden-brown crust. 

 Also, rinse the spinach and chop off the hard stems (don’t worry if you miss a couple) and place the cut spinach into the same pesto bowl that the bell peppers where in. 

As soon as the chicken is done cooking, remove to a cutting board and chop up.  Immediately tossing the hot, chopped chicken into the fresh spinach.  *The hot chicken will help to wilt the fresh spinach.  Again, add a pinch of salt & pepper and another Tbsp of pesto. …I promise you, this will not be too much of a basil flavor.

   Assembly time!!  Bring over the baking sheet of roasted red peppers and fill with the pesto-chicken-spinach mixture.  Next, take a good amount of the crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle over top.  *I like a lot, so I press that goat cheese in there! 

 

Finally, pop these stuffed peppers into your preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes.  Remove and serve with a side of pasta or fresh, grilled vegetables.  Enjoy! 

 
*This time I served ours with a side of pasta.  After the noodles boiled, I tossed directly into yes, that same bowl with a bit of pesto in it!  I added more pesto, salt & pepper.  One bowl, three times..LESS cleanup!! 👍 

 


Coconut ‘Fried’ Chicken

This is the perfect weeknight dinner!!  It’s flavorful, fun, and on the table in under 30 minutes…did I mention it’s healthy too??!!  A definite win-win friends!

Now I like to marinate the chicken (2 simple ingredients!) for 6-8 hours..before you head in to work.  However, if you’re worried you’ll forget to quickly prepare this in the busy AM, then you can do this the night before!  So now you just wake up & go!!…After work you can pop in the oven and have dinner in minutes!

This lean chicken has a great savory crunch to it with the added hint of sweetness.  Kids LOVE it!!  …and parents don’t have to feel guilty 😉

*Can be prepared Gluten-Free as well 

*Dipping Sauce:  I make by eye considering the persons taste buds.  Sweeter (more honey), Hotter (more sriracha), etc..  But a basic recipe is below.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs chicken tenders (or Breasts cut into strips)
  • 1 cup honey mustard
  • 1 cup mayonaisse 
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs (or Gluten Free bread crumbs)
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • Pinch of kosher salt & pepper

Dipping Sauce (optional)

  • Honey mustard (1/4 cup)
  • Honey (1 tbsp)
  • Sriracha (1-2 tsp)
  • Rice wine vinegar (SMALL splash)

Garnish (optional)

  • Shredded sweetened coconut
  • Cilantro, chopped  

Easy!!!  The night before OR before you head out for work, marinate the chicken in the cup of honey mustard and cup of mayonnaise mixture.  Cover and place in the fridge.

Now let us imagine that you’re already home and ready for dinner!!  So here you’ll simply preheat your oven to 425 degrees and take the chicken out of the refridgerator.  Prepare a baking sheet with either foil or a silpat sheet and if you’d like, you can add a grate atop.  *Remember to spray the grate and/or foil with non-stick spray, however, the silpat liner will be fine with out spray. 

 Have a shallow dish prepared with the panko (or gluten free breadcrumbs), coconut and salt & pepper.  Next, one-by-one, coat the honey mustard/mayo’d chicken into the coconut-bread crumbs and lay onto the baking sheet.  Repeat until finished. 

   Pop the tray into the preheated oven for 25 minutes and then remove to rest and cool for a couple of minutes.  It’s hot!!!…

I like to serve this healthy and easy meal topped with a bit of extra shredded coconut & cilantro along with a side of rice and dipping sauce!  Enjoy!! 

 

Real-Deal Green Bean Casserole (no cans)

You may be thinking..why go through all the effort when the Campbell’s soup Green Bean Casserole recipe has been around for decades??  Well, because THIS is the best, that’s why!  I luckily stumbled upon this goodie years back and just tweaked a couple of things to suit my family.  There’s no going back to the dark side now!  ..Well, maybe occasionally, it does remind me of good memories growing up 🙂  Anyway…  Now besides what you may be thinking is a lot of work, this can all be done in an hour and it’s ALL fresh!!  You actually KNOW what your family is consuming.  That’s kind of awesome.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
  • 4+ slices bacon (grease reserved after fying)
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 heaping tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided (1:1)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsely, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper 

    Yes…there should also be the thyme, bacon and milk pictured…but lets just hope you’re reading the ingredient list 😉

      

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large deep skillet, cook the bacon strips till desired doneness and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.  Then add the extra virgin olive oil straight into the excess bacon grease and heat till almost smoking. 

 To the hot grease/oil, add in the sliced shallots (about 1/4 cup at a time, it took about 3 batches) and fry until they turn a nice golden brown and and crisp up.  Once done transfer to another paper towel lined plate and set aside. 

  *Meanwhile, you can either steam the green beans on the stove top OR take an easier way out and add them to a large microwave safe bowl with about 2 Tbsp of water.  Cover the bowl with a plate or saran wrap and microwave on high in 2-minute increments until that perfect soft but slightly crisp texture is achieved!  Make sense?  Soft and crisp?  Yes, it’s a thing! 😉
Now that the shallots are done frying up, dispose of the excess grease/oil EXCEPT for roughly 2 Tbsp’s worth.   You will now add all of the mushrooms to the grease over a medium-high heat.  Stirring occasionally, the mushrooms will start to ‘sweat’ and release their moisture.  Keep cooking until all of the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Finally you will add in the minced garlic and thyme leaves.  Cook for 30-60 seconds and transfer the mushroom mix to a bowl, set aside. 

   While the mushrooms are cooking down, whisk together the flour and milk in a bowl until the flour is dissolved. 

Now add this right to the same skillet (you’ve been cooking everything in/mushrooms just removed from) while constantly whisking and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat to medium-low, whisking occasionally, and in about 10 minutes it will reduce down and thicken up nicely.  *should ‘coat’ the back of a spoon.  Remove the skillet from heat. 

  

See how it’s starting to ‘coat’ the whisk and reduce down?

Ok, here is the real easy part!  Now is when you can fold in the mushroom mix, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese, the cooked and chopped bacon, parsely, nutmeg, salt & pepper and the GREEN BEANS to that milk/flour rue you just made.  Resist the urge to spoon in mouth…though I’m 100% guilty! 

     Pour this holiday staple side dish straight into the non-stick coated casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese and the fried shallots you made earlier.  Pop into the preheated oven and bake (uncovered) for 20-30 minutes! 

Enjoy and Happy Eating!! xo


Easy Tzatziki Sauce

This sauce has an unbelievably bright and fresh taste to it!  That mix of Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice and cucumber will wake any flavors up!  

I like to serve this sauce alongside gyros and as a dip to my Greek fries..simple and delicious!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 large cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 tsp dill, to taste (fresh is best, but dried in a pinch)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp EVOO 
  • Pinch each of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper   

Start this easy Greek staple by rinsing and then cutting your cucumber in half lengthwise *You’re welcome to peel the skin, but I like a bit of bright green and texture to it.  Next, remove all the seeds with a spoon by simple scraping them out.  This part is easy … like the entire recipe actually. 

Finally, finely dice the cucumber (teeny tiny pieces) and place onto a paper towel *This will help absorb the extra water from the vegetable.  I even (literally) squeeze out as much moisture as I can so that the sauce isn’t too thin.  Now, mince the garlic and get the dill and lemon ready. 

 In a small bowl, combine all of the above ingredients and give it a good stir.  Cover the bowl with Saran Wrap and let chill in your refridgerator so that the flavors meld together (about an hour).  Meanwhile you can start dinner… Enjoy! 

 

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