Tag Archives: spicy

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

Jalapeño Creamed Corn Stuffed Tomatoes

Like most, when the outside air turns warm (hello 💐 Spring!!) and our grill is always going, I love me some corn!  Not many vegetables go so well with grilled meats and BBQ!  However, to avoid the debacle that is shucking corn and/or soaking it, taking up room on our grill (we were also making racks of ribs, friends) and messy corn-on-the-cob eating faces..I decided for a different route!

Besides corn, cream and spice are my other two favorite food groups, so let us combine them shall we??  You may think, “oh, I’ve had creamed corn growing up.  I don’t like it.  Way too sweet.  Too gloopy.  No cans for me.”  Well, just try it my way, please!!  The corn here keeps its slight sweetness, but it also keeps its shape and crunch!  The cream doesn’t taste artificial and a slight heat from the jalapeño really brings life to this dish!  Jalapeños bring life to me, but that’s another blog post in the making….anyway, just try it would ya!

*ok, the tomatoes are optional, but they’re adorable, easy and healthy!  If you prefer just the jalapeño creamed corn, I don’t blame you one bit.  I “sampled” this far too often before I stuffed the roasted tomatoes for our meal.  

The Starting Lineup

  • 4-6 on the vine tomatoes 
  • 16oz frozen corn 
  • 1-2 jalapeños, minced (we like a bit of heat, so I used two and left seeds in!)
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt & pepper 
  • Milk, to thin at the end (about 1/2 cup)


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place a rack about 6″ under your broiler.  Also prepare a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Rinse and pat dry your tomatoes.  Using a serrated knife, carefully cut off the tops of each tomato and set aside.  Now using a spoon, also carefully run along the inside and scoop out the seeds/juice.  *It may seem tough at first, you can use your knife to get things going, but it all scoops out together beautifully.  Sprinkle the insides of each tomato with a pinch of salt and ground pepper and set the cored tomatoes aside along with their “lids”.

Now, heat a medium sized skillet with 1 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat.  *I used my favorite, fabulous green chili infused oil from our local oil & vinegar market, 1890.  Sooooo good!  Pour the bag of corn straight into the hot skillet along with the minced jalapeño(s).  Toss around a bit till you really start to smell that roasting flavor, about 4-5 minutes, adding the garlic for the last 30 seconds.

Drop the temperature down to medium-low.  To the now heated through corn and peppers, add in the cubed cream cheese, butter, cayenne and salt & pepper.  Stir to combine and help melt.  

After it sits for a bit, prior to stuffing the tomatoes, I stir in a bit of milk to thin to your desired consistency.  It will come back and hold together, I promise.


*While the creamed corn is coming together, place the cored tomatoes onto your baking sheet and pop in the oven for a few minutes, allowing to soften and heat up.

Once combined, (and thoroughly sampled) remove the sheet of warmed tomatoes from the oven and scoop spoonfuls of the spicy, creamy corn straight in!  I like it overflowing!!  Top each filled tomato with its “lid” and place the baking sheet back into the oven and switch over to broil.  Now you can use low or high setting, but just watch closely!!  This just takes mere minutes, especially if on high!

Remove from oven and serve with ..oh I dunno…maybe a rack of ribs, roasted potatoes and cheddar biscuits!  We kind of liked that 😉 Enjoy!!

Ancho and Coffee Crusted Steak Tacos w/ Spicy Corn Salsa

I’m not sure if it’s because I lived in Arizona, California and Texas, but I’m pretty sure that tacos are a way of life for ‘us people’.  They range in flavors and toppings galore as you have Sonoran, Baja, Texmex, standard beef and cheese, shredded chicken..I could go on and on and on.  So I will!

I tried to break out of that standard taco fare box and make it a little more refined, perhaps bigger and brighter flavors, and boy did that work out for me!  Hey, I had OVER a pound and a half of steak, plus toppings and my family of two (apparently starving) adults and two lil ones and we ate it ALL.  I won’t even bother you with the details of me just standing haphazardly at the butcher block shoving steak slices in..damn good!

*I also mentioned below, please cook to your desired preference..However, we may or may no longer speak if you choose well-done, but…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs flat iron steak
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground coffee
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola and 1 Tbsp butter, for the pan) 

Spicy Corn Salsa

  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (I left seeds in, but remove to cut the heat if desired)
  • Juice of 1 ripe lime
  • pinch kosher salt

Garnish

  • Corn tortillas, grilled and warmed
  • Lime wedges
  • Salty cheese (cotija, feta, parmesan)
  • Jalapeños, thinly sliced. 

Lets marinate this steak!  2-3 hours prior to grilling up, you’ll want to begin this.  You could do a longer marinade time, however, marinades can break down the meat too much and it just won’t be quite as good, texture wise.

In a small dish, whisk together all of the spices listed above for the steak.  While using your fingers, coat the steak evenly with the spice blend, cover and place in your refridgerator until ready to grill.  

Next we can prepare that super easy spicy corn salsa!  As always instructed ;), start by rinsing and chopping and dicing the veggies needed.  

In a microwave safe medium-size bowl, pour in the 2 cups of frozen corn.  Pop into your microwave for just about 30 seconds tops.  You do NOT want hot, mushy corn.  On to the other easy part, to that corn add in the prepared red onion, halved tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and diced jalapeños.  Give a good squeeze of fresh lime juice and a hefty pinch of salt.  Toss to coat, cover and like the steak, refridgerate till needed.  

Ok friends..now here come your options and the “blah-blah-blah” of how to cook a steak.  Please follow along.

You can absolutely grill this (quite delish), you can sear in an oven proof pan and pop in the oven to finish or even vice versa, you can place it under the broiler..do what makes your heart sing.  However, if you want it how I made it, then here it goes:

Remove the marinated, dry-rubbed steak from the refridgerator 20 minutes prior to cooking.  I brought my cast iron skillet up to medium/medium-high heat and then added in the 1 Tbsp canola oil and 1 Tbsp butter (never margarine people).

Once the skillet was just slightly smoking, knowing it was hot and ready, I layed the steak into the hot oil and butter.  WALK AWAY.

Let that steak sear and do its thing.  It will of course have a dark outer-edge due to the sugar, coffee and spices creating that great “crust”.  You so, so want that.

I prefer my steak a perfect medium-rare, so for my weight of meat I let each side sear for about 8 minutes on each side…then place on a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.  PLEASE let rest!!  During that time you can get out your choice of salty cheese, the spicy corn salsa AND start to quickly warm and slightly char the corn tortillas!  

*If you have a smaller cut of steak, cook anywhere from 3-5 minutes per side (for medium-rare,  internal temperature of 135 degrees).  Of course you can eat the steak to your liking, so cook it longer if you so desire.

*If you follow the medium-rare advice, but someone in your family is “weird” about that ;), simply take a few of the slices and return back to the pan for just a few seconds.  It WILL cook fast!

Once the steak has had its rest period (keep those juices IN!), slice thinly against the grain..this is sooooo tender and just melts with that fantastic crust.  Drooling….again.  (You can also dice up the slices for small mouths..aka my kiddos).

The time has arrived..assembly time!  Simply take a warm and charred corn tortilla and lay a couple of slices of that beautiful steak on top.  Garnish with a spoonful of the Spicy Corn Salsa, a bit of salty cheese and a few lime wedges..enjoy!!  

BBQ Pulled Pork Enchiladas

Being creative has its perks!  Like when you can’t decide between spicy Mexican food or a warm bbq sandwich for dinner..decisions, decisions!

Now one my think this sounds crazy, but it’s oh so not!  The slightly spicy pulled-pork mimics south of the border carnitas and instead of the flavor of a cornbread side, you’re replacing it with corn tortillas.  Finally, the marriage of enchilada sauce with a slightly tangy and spicy bbq sauce is a winner!  Hell, I know in the near future I’ll be re-concocting this sauce for some barbecue sandwiches!  It has a great flavor that I know no one will be able to pinpoint..unless they read this of course. 😉

*You can use left over pulled pork or even shredded chicken if so inclined. 

*I prefer a thinner, spicy and tangy BBQ sauce here.  Leave the Sweet Baby Rays for your ribs, as these enchiladas need a bit of a kick..NOT sweetness.  My opinion..but believe me!

*When I was planning on preparing  this meal, I knew that I had a busy weekend ahead.  So on Saturday, before we ventured out for a full day of baseball, I slowcooked the pork.  When returning home that evening, I shredded it and placed the meat and the juices in an airtight container in the refridgerator.  The next day for dinner, I simply had to assemble and bake the enchiladas (as pork was cooked) and it took less than an hour to hit the dinner table!

*If you’re not into making your own pulled pork, you can pick up a tub from your favorite restaurant.

The Starting Lineup

Simple Pulled Pork (Slowcooker)

  • 3lb Pork butt/shoulder
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 rounded tsp of chicken bullion 
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Enchiladas 

  • Corn tortillas
  • Pulled Pork (cooked)
  • 1 red onion, chopped (3/4 for filling/1/4 for garnish)
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 3/4 cup bbq sauce (I prefer a thinner, spicy one..not too sweet here folks!)
  • 2-3 cups Mexican-blend cheese
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Garnish (Optional)

  • Red onion, chopped
  • Jalapeños, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream 

Alright!  Now, again, you can pre-cook the pulled pork the day before (like I did) so that this is an easy, quickly assembled homemade dinner OR you can just as easily start the slow cooked pork on a Sunday morning and have this on the table by dinner time no problem!

So either way you choose, you’ll always start with the pulled pork..and its simple!  In your non-stick sprayed crockpot, place in the quartered onions followed by that pork butt!  Next, add all of the seasonings and the cup of bbq sauce.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours! (*Once finished, continue on to assemble the enchiladas OR shred and store in an airtight container, remember to ladle in a bit of those juices too!

Enchilada time!!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a large pan over medium heat, add in the vege oil.  Follow that with the 3/4 cup of chopped red onions, green chiles, cumin and smoked paprika.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.  Then in goes the cooked and shredded pulled pork, cook till mixed throughly together.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the can of enchilada sauce and the bbq sauce.  Make sure to taste as you can add more BBQ sauce if desired..I think I did add a bit more?? Haha. 

Warm the corn tortillas (in a tortilla warmer OR on a plate with a damp paper towel over top for a few seconds.)
One by one, spoon a good amount of the spiced pulled pork onto the middle of each tortilla and roll up.  Place seam side down into your baking dish.  Repeat until full.  *One or two may slightly crack..dont you worry!  They’ll be covered by sauce and cheese and will taste the EXACT same..no one will be the wiser! 😉

Pour the BBQ enchilada sauce evenly over the filled tortillas and top with all that glorious cheese!

 

Place (uncovered) in the oven for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and edges are browned.  Remove and let sit for a few minutes as the cheese will be molten hot!!

Serve up with the garnishes of your choice and unlike the normal Mexican cerveza you’d enjoy with enchiladas..we’re actually tasting BBQ flavors here!  So we like ours with a cold good ol Texas beer and a shot of bourbon!  Enjoy!!  

YUMMMMMMMM……..

Spicy Shrimp & Guacamole Tostadas

Crunchy and spicy..and healthy!  As usual, I was craving some tasty Mexican food, but just didnt want the heaviness that goes along with cheesy enchiladas, super burritos or chimichangas.  I also didnt have the time to braise a big hunk of meat or use my slow-cooker for a yummy shredded filling.  

Instead, I ran up to my grocer and picked up some of their very tasty, in-house made guacamole, fresh deveined shrimp and quick heat up refried beans.  Heck, if you wanted you could even buy pre-made pico de gallo and tostada shells, but I knew I could tackle those myself. 😉

*To keep with the light & healthy meal, I made a quick Mexican Fruit Salad to go along with it.  Simply cut up some cantaloupe and honey dew melon.  Dust on a bit of chili powder and kosher salt, then topped with a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and its zest!  Yummmm…promise!

The Starting Lineup

  • Corn tortillas
  • 1lb shrimp, tails off
  • 1 cup guacamole
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 1 cup refried beans (I used low-fat)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Mexican hot sauce
  • Lime wedges
  • 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Canola or vegetable oil, for frying 

Begin this super quick and flavorful dinner by heating up the cooking oil to fry up your tortillas.  I used my deep fryer, but if you do not have one you can fill a large heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven with a couple inches of oil.

While the oil is heating up, whisk together the spices and toss with the shrimp and extra virgin olive oil.  Cover and set aside.

Using tongs, carefully place 1-2 tortillas into the hot oil and allow to crisp up.  Generally just 2-3 minutes; you can flip over after a minute or two if needed.  Set aside on a paper towel lined plate.  Also, heat up those beans!

Now either on the stove top or hey, even your grill, we’ll cook up those shrimp!!  These go fast, again just 3-4 minutes.

Assembly time!  Quick meal right??  On each tostada shell, spread on a layer of beans followed by a layer of your guacamole.  Next top with a few of the spicy shrimp (the guac helps them to stay on) and the pico de gallo.  I like to serve with some Mexican hot sauce, lime wedges and a cerveza!  Enjoy!  

Mexican Breakfast Bowls

I love Mexican food.  Seriously, truer words have never been spoken.   So, like every morning, I woke up craving just that!  Now instead of the usual breakfast burrito, the typical Texas breakfast taco or the fancier heuvos ranchero and chilaquiles, I thought “what about a taco salad??? But a breakfast version??!!”  Genius..Ill let you say it.  I know I did.

What’s also fun about this is it’s so customizable for everyone!   Say you’re hosting a brunch, you can make just about all of it in advance and warm when ready.  Set out the baked tortilla shells to fill with a multitude of different toppings!  Or even make healthy version with low-sodium black beans, scrambled egg whites, fresh sautéed veggies and salsa!  I could go on and on and on…

*I did not put exact amounts for the ingredients, as it depends how many bowls you are making.  I made 4 bowls with the below pictured ingredients.

**Pico de Gallo: Diced tomato, white onion, jalapeño, cilantro, fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt.

The Starting Lineup

  • Flour tortillas
  • Breakfast sausage or chorizo
  • Refried beans
  • Russet potatoes, cubed
  • Eggs, scrambled
  • Cooking spray
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Salt & pepper

Garnish (optional)

  • Pico de gallo, homemade or store-bought **
  • Jalapeño slices
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Avocado slices
  • Hot sauce/Salsa 

To make perfect restaurant style breakfast potatoes/home fries:  Either bake the potato first OR quarter each potato and add to a large pot of salted water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer.  Once just fork tender (not too soft here), remove from the pot and allow to cool slightly.  Once cool enough to touch, cube up!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place mason jars upside down on a baking sheet or large crumpled balls of foil, etc.  Microwave the tortillas for 30 seconds to make pliable and drape over the mason jar.  Lightly coat in cooking spray and sprinkle on the cumin and chili powder for a nice flavor and color!  Bake the tortillas for 8-10 minutes, watch closely as not to burn, but I like a few “charred” edges myself..rustic!  Allow to cool for a few minutes, pull off the jar and get ready to fill!

Meanwhile…..Heat a tbsp or two of vegetable or canola oil on medium heat in two separate pans.  In one, add the sausage.  Cook through and set aside.  (If I’m not using chorizo, I like to doctor up my breakfast sausage with Mexican seasonings)>

In the other pan, add the par-cooked, cubed potatoes in an even layer.  Let them cook people!  Do not keep stirring around, this allows them to build that golden brown restaurant crust on them!  After so many minutes, flip to get the other sides of the potatoes nice and crispy! 

Once the potatoes and sausage are about finished, beat the eggs with a bit of milk, salt & pepper.  Cook, scrambled, with a tbsp of butter.

Assembly time!  Super simple here folks…take your baked tortilla bowl and fill away!    I like to go this route:  beans, potatoes, sausage and then eggs!  Top with some fresh pico de gallo, avocado slices, jalapeño slices and a few dashes of hot sauce!  Enjoy!! 

Buffalo Chicken Kabobs w/ Grilled New Potatoes (& easy blue cheese dressing)

I’m pretty sure I’ve never (ever) met a person that doesn’t like buffalo wing sauce.  Now some may like it on crispy drumette wings, some that prefer it on the battered boneless variety, but everyone just loves that sauce!  Unfortunately, most of us cannot eat that way everyday, so how about combine those great flavors into a healthier grilled recipe!

My lighter, summertime go-to is a full meal that is chocked full of protein, vegetables and even a light(er) Bleu cheese dressing!  So you will feel full without the guilt!  

*If you prefer ranch over Bleu cheese than go right ahead.

*Use whatever vegetables you prefer on your kabobs.

*Can be made outdoors on the grill or even on a stovetop grill-pan.

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, combine 1 cup of regular milk with 1 tbsp of either white vinegar or lemon juice, stir.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Done!

The Starting Lineup
Chicken

  • 2lbs chicken (breasts, tenders or thighs), cut into 2″ cubes
  • 2 Bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 red onion
  • 8 oz Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Salt & Pepper

Potatoes

  • 2 1/2lbs New/Red Potatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Celery Salt

Bleu Cheese Dressing

  • 8oz reduced fat Blue cheese crumbles
  • 8oz light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk 
  • Salt & pepper

Garnish (optional)

  • Celery, VERY thinly sliced
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Jalapeños, sliced 

SAUCES:  

Buffalo Wing Sauce:  In a small pan or in the microwave melt the butter.  Whisk in the bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and set aside.

Easy Bleu Cheese Dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together the Bleu cheese crumbles, sour cream and buttermilk.  Salt & pepper to taste, cover and transfer to the refrigerator till needed.

Start by rinsing and cutting the vegetables and the chicken into kabob-sized pieces. 

Skewer and salt & pepper to taste.  *If using bamboo sticks, make sure to soak the skewers in water for 20 minutes prior.   If using metal skewers, make sure to lightly coat in oil so the meat doesn’t stick.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water and the potatoes to a boil.  Cover and simmer till just fork tender (about 20 minutes).  Transfer the par-cooked potatoes to a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and the celery salt to taste (about 1 tsp).

With either the outdoor grill or your grill pan indoors, heat to medium-high heat and make sure to oil the grill grates or pan.  Once ready to go, start your kabobs and cook through (15-20 minutes).  Transfer the kabobs to a tray and brush on the buffalo wing sauce.  *You can start to brush the sauce on during the last few minutes of grilling, just add a little at a time and finish once done to avoid flare ups.Next, add the potatoes to the grill/pan and turn often for 10 minutes, until crisped up.


SERVE:  On a large serving platter, lay out the grilled potatoes and drizzle on the Bleu cheese dressing you made earlier and sprinkle on the celery, green onions, jalapeños.  Top with the buffalo chicken kabobs (you can remove from the skewers if preferred) and serve with the remaining buffalo wing sauce for dipping. 

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