Avocado & Edamame Salad

I’ve been trying to broaden my vegetable side dish repertoire. It’s easy to get stuck in a habit of rotating variations of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. So to freshen things up, I found an awesome (and versatile)  avocado dressing to spoon over a medley of crisp chopped veggies. The result is this Avocado & Edamame Salad – full of vitamins, nutrients, protein, and flavor.

Avocado Salad with Grilled Chicken Kabob

A note about the dressing – it makes alot. Much more than you will need for the salad. And even though the source recipe says it can keep fresh in the fridge, I found that it was best the first day. It was still good a few days later, but I wouldn’t keep it for the full 10 days that they suggest. But considering how good this dressing is, it isn’t hard to find uses for it. It makes a great dip (for fresh veggies or tortilla chips), spoon it over grilled meat (like the chicken above), or just get out your spoon :)

Avocado Dressing

Avocado Dressing

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 sprigs cilantro
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • water (about 1/2 C.)

Combine avocado, garlic, vinegar, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Slowly add water until desired consistency is reached. Best if used immediately. Or cover and keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Recipe modified from Eat, Lift & Be Happy

Avocado & Edamame Salad

  • 1 C. edamame beans, steamed
  • 1/2 C. yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C. mango, diced
  • 1/4 C. red onion, diced
  • 1/2 Pt. cherry tomatoes
  • 2 T. cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 – 1 C. lettuce (bibb or romaine) cut into small bites
  • Avocado dressing

Combine all ingredients except dressing into a bowl. Add dressing 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix to coat. Continue adding dressing until all vegetables are evenly coated.

Cinco de Mayo Feast

Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite pseudo-holidays. Although it has historical significance in certain regions of Mexico, it has become a day to embrace Mexican culture here in America….but for me (and plenty of others, I’m sure), it’s just a great excuse to eat fresh Mexican food and imbibe in some refreshing Mexican spirits. Skip the crowded Mexican restaurant this year, and fix a feast at home. Here are some of my favorite recipes to help you along your way!

Taco Seasoning

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder (or red pepper powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika

Combine all ingredients. Use to season ground beef, chicken, or steak.

Cilantro & Garlic Chicken

Tender chicken that falls to shreds with the touch of a fork. This can be used as filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or quesadillas.

Shredded Chicken

For recipe, click HERE!

Mango Salsa

Super fresh and flavorful, use it as a chip dip or add a spoonful over your entree.

Mango Salsa

For recipe, click HERE!

Grilled Corn & Avocado Salsa

Super fresh and flavorful, use it as a chip dip or add a spoonful over your entree.

grilled corn & avocado salsa

For recipe, click HERE!

Jalapeno Poppers

A baked version of the appetizer favorite.

poppers

For recipe, click HERE!

Pork Taquitos

A great way to use up leftover pulled pork

Baked Pork Taquito

For  recipe, click HERE!

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

For  recipe, click HERE!

Guacamole

guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tap. pepper
  • Dash Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients, mash with a fork until desired consistency is reached.

For a zestier guacamole, add 2 tablespoons of salsa, 2 tablespoons of minced red onion, and a handful of chopped cilantro.

Margarita

Last, but certainly not least, the quintessential Mexican cocktail.

margarita

For the recipe, click HERE!

Cilantro & Garlic Tacos with Mango Salsa

When I met The Man, he claimed to not like Mexican food. But I love Mexican food! Ok, I thought, this is a small concession that I can live with. But a life without Mexican food means no fresh salsas, no garlic and cilantro marinated meats, no cheesy saucy baked tortilla dishes….no Margarita Thursdays!? Ok, this was a bigger problem than I first thought!

Chicken Taco

His former experience with Mexican cuisine involved greasy, bland concoctions that contained suspect meat products and void of all vegetables. Yea, I would hate that too. When I think Mexican, I think fresh, full of complex flavors, and tons of color. Well it turns out that he doesn’t hate Mexican food – he just hates bad Mexican food! Phew! We dodged a bullet there…

Garlic & Cilantro Garlic & Cilantro Marinade

Let’s start with the meat. Whether I’m making chicken or steak tacos, I like to start with the same marinade – a cilantro and lime vinaigrette with a hint of spice and lots of citrus. After a few hours in the acidic and flavor punching bath, meat has no choice but to be tender and juicy. A few minutes on a hot grill, and you’ve got a fab foundation for a great taco.

Shredded Chicken

The choice of taco toppings is endless – sliced avocado, salsa, shredded lettuce, cilantro, cheese, corn salsa, guacamole, chipotle sour cream, diced tomatoes, sauteed onions and peppers….in fact, if you’re hosting a casual party, a taco bar is a great buffet idea! Tonight I’m gonna go with fresh mango salsa and sliced avocado (and probably a little cheese and sour cream too…). If you can’t find good fresh mango, frozen works alright too. It’s not quite as good – but it’s better than no mango salsa.

Mangoes Mango Salsa

Cilantro & Garlic Tacos

  • 1 1/2 Lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 C. cilantro and garlic marinade
  • Flour tortillas
  • Mango salsa
  • Sliced avocado
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Sour cream

Marinate chicken breasts in marinade for at least 6 hours. Remove from marinade and grill on medium for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes, then shred with 2 forks.

Warm tortillas on the grill for about 1 minute per side. Alternately, heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds.

To assemble, place a scoopful of chicken on to warm taco shell. Top with mango salsa, 2 slices of avocado, a Tablespoon of cheese, and a small spoonful of sour cream.

Cilantro & Garlic Marinade

  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 jalapeno, halved
  • Lime zest and juice, from 1 lime
  • Handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 C. orange juice
  • 1/3 C. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until everything is smooth and combined. Marinate chicken for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Makes enough marinade for 6 chicken breasts.

Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/4 C. red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • Handful cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Pinch of salt, pepper, and cumin

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Who Puts Peanut Butter On Pizza!?

I do! I put peanuts on there too….But it’s not what you think (because I’m sure you think it’s disgusting). Thai Chicken Pizza is The Man’s favorite pizza. In lieu of the traditional red sauce, I use a slightly spicy peanut sauce. Then top it off with the veggies you may find in a stir fry dish – red bell peppers, scallions, cilantro….and of course a little chicken (tossed in Hoison sauce). Does that sound a little better? Maybe the pictures will help convince you….

Thai Chicken Pizza

We’ll start with something normal – traditional pizza dough. Nothing strange here –  flour, water and yeast. A little salt for flavor and a little olive oil too. I use a stand mixer, but this can easily be done by hand. I measure out the flour first – using 1 Cup for each pizza. This will make about a 10-12 inch pizza. Then I add in the other dry ingredients (yeast and salt). Warm up a cup of water to around 115F. Slowly pour the water in until you have the right consistency. The dough should form into a ball (no crumbly bits) and should be slightly sticky. About 1/3 to 1/2 Cup of water per 1 Cup of flour. If you are using a mixer, turn it to “stir” and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. If making by hand, dump the dough onto a floured surface, and knead with your hands. You want the dough to be smooth and elastic – it should no longer be sticky. Oil up a clean glass bowl, dump the ball of dough in, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Dough

kneaded dough

I like to make my dough in the morning, and let it rise in the fridge. This acheives two equally important goals. First, it gives me more time in the evening for prepping toppings, tending to the child, and relaxing with (i.e. sipping a glass of vino with) The Man. Secondly, the cold fridge causes a slower rise. The longer the dough rises, the more time it has to develop flavor. And obviously, more flavor is good! I check the dough about an hour before we want to eat. If it’s already doubled in size, just leave it in for another half hour. If it hasn’t done a whole lot, pull it out and let it warm up. Within an hour, it should be up to size.

dough is risen

Alternatively, you can make the dough 1 – 2 hours before dinner time. Leave the bowl in a warm dry place, and allow it to double in size. On a perfect day, I let the dough rise outside. On a not-so-perfect day (too cold, too hot, windy, rainy, etc.) I use the “proof” setting on my oven. Within an hour, the dough is ready to use. Punch down the dough, and divide it into balls (1 per pizza…). Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest while you prep your toppings. That’s right, back to the peanut butter….

dough is ready

We love peanut butter in this house (my 3 year old “needs” a spoonfull at least once a day). We also love peanut sauce! And it’s exactly what it sounds like – peanut butter that is thinned down (using water or stock) and kicked up with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. It makes a great dipping sauce (chicken satay), or is great over stir fry. But my favorite usage is on pizza.

peanut sauce

Now that we have sauce, we need toppings – we’ll start with the meat. I have some leftover chicken from making stock on Sunday – but any cooked chicken will work. Cut or shred it into bitesized pieces, coat it in a few Tablespoons of hoison sauce. Next for the veggies. I like red bell pepper, onion, scallions and cilantro. But I think carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, bean sprouts, corn, or shredded cabbage would all be good additions. So use what you like and what you have (Pizza is an ideal way to clean out the fridge!)

thai chicken toppings

When I make pizza, I use a stone, a peel and the gas grill. If you don’t have these things, make your pizza on a cookie sheet and bake it in a hot oven 450F +. Why do I use the grill? Because it reaches and maintains high heat and mimics a traditional brick oven in flavor. Put the pizza stone in the cold grill and let them heat up together on high – this will prevent the stone from cracking. In theory. Personally, my pizza stones always crack (some quicker than others). But as long as it’s a clean break you can still use it…see??

cracked stone

Start by working your dough on a floured surface. When it is about halfway stretched out, move it to the floured peel. Everyone says to use cornmeal – but I have had zero luck with cornmeal. A thin layer of flour works great (too much, and it can burn the bottom of your pizza). Stretch the dough out, then give the peel a shimmy – to make sure the dough isn’t sticking. Start your toppings with a thin layer of sauce, followed by a sprinkling of cheese around the outer edge. The Man worked at Pizza Hut in high school – he says you need to do the cheese around the edge before you place on the toppings. I’ve never worked in a pizza joint – so I trust his word on it. Next layer on your toppings, and top with the remaining cheese. Leave the cilantro off – that will go on after the pizza comes off the heat.

Thai Pizza prebaked

Slide the pizza onto the cracked up stone (oh, you have one that isn’t cracked? Well aren’t you fancy….) and turn the heat down to medium. Check the pizza after 5 minutes. Take it off once the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the crust is starting to color. Once the pizza is off the grill, give it 5 – 10 minutes to rest. Then chow down.

Thai Chicken Pizza

Pizza Dough (for one pizza)

  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 – 1/3 C. warm water

Combine flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly add water until you reach desired consistency. Turn to “stir” and knead for 7 – 10 minutes. Dump into oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for until doubled in volume. Punch down dough, and divide into balls (one for each pizza). Cover until ready to use.

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 C. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C. chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce

Heat up oil in a small sauce pan. Saute garlic for about 2 minutes. Add in peanut butter and remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer then remove from heat. You want the sauce to be slightly runny. Set aside until ready to use.

Thai Chicken Pizza

  • pizza dough
  • peanut sauce
  • 1/4 C. chicken, cooked and tossed in hoison sauce
  • 2 T. hoison sauce; extra for drizzling
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C. montery jack cheese
  • red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • onion, thinly sliced
  • scallion, sliced
  • small handful peanuts, roughly chopped
  • cilantro leaves

Preheat gas grill and pizza stone on high heat. Spread dough out on a floured pizza peel. Shimmy, to ensure it is not sticking. Spread on a thin layer of peanut sauce. Sprinkle 1/4 of cheese around the outer edge. Layer on all toppings (except for cilantro) and cheese. Transfer to the pizza stone, and lower heat to medium. Allow to cook for 10 -12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and dough is cooked through. Transfer back to the peel, and sprinkle with cilantro. Allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before cutting.

Chipotle Burger

Chipotle Burger

Just a quick Monday night post….

I love a great burger. And I think the best burgers are the ones you make at home. Tonight we had Chipotle Burgers – and man, were they good! A spicy twist on a classic.

For 4 burgers

  • 1 1/4 Lb. ground beef (80/20 fat ratio)
  • 3 oz. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (half a small can)
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt, pepper, cumin

Combine all ingredients, and form into 4 patties. Grill to desired temperature.

Garlic Mayo

  • 1/4 C. mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • chives, thinly sliced
  • salt, pepper, cumin to taste

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Assembly

  • 4 Italian style hamburger buns (I use Arnold brand)
  • 4 burgers, cooked
  • garlic mayo
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 Oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • onion, thinly sliced
  • cilantro leaves (4 – 5 per burger)

Top each burger with 1 oz. of cheese, leave in grill for 1 minute to melt. Toast hamburger buns on the grill, 2 – 3 minutes. Spread garlic mayo onto bottom buns. Top with burger, followed by bacon, onion, then cilantro. Cover with top bun.