Monthly Archives: May 2011

Grilled Margarita Chicken Salad

I have been trying hard to cut back on the amount of red meat that my family eats. But when I suggested that we serve grilled chicken to our guests on Memorial Day, my husband practically had a… fine, I’ll say it, he had a cow. Cow, as in hamburger. Apparently one does not ring in the summer season with poultry.

So we’ll have our traditional hamburgers and hot dogs on Monday, and the healthy grilled chicken on Saturday.

Grilled Margarita Chicken Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups margarita mix
  • zest from 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
  • romaine lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • red onion
  • Lime Vinaigrette, below
  • tortilla chips, crumbled, or tortilla strips, or TNWIGTTSFJOBOC Chips, below

Directions

  1. Combine first 6 ingredients (margarita mix through pepper) in a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken. Coat well and refrigerate for at least two hours. While you have the margarita mix out, go ahead and fix yourself a drink. You deserve it.
  2. Grill the chicken (or bake in oven).
  3. Prepare lettuce, tomato, and onion as you normally would for a salad. Pour dressing over top and mix well.
  4. Slice the chicken and serve over salad. Top with tortilla chips.

Margarita Chicken Salad

Lime Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • handful of cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine olive oil and remaining ingredients. Whisk well.

Click here for a printable version of these recipes

I didn’t think of the tortilla chips until I had already gone to the store. But the salad still needed a little crunch. So I came up with:

There’s No Way I’m Going To The Store For Just One Bag of Chips Chips

  • tortillas (corn would be better but I only had flour. See title of this recipe!)
  • cooking spray
  • chili powder and/or sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Slice tortillas as you would a pizza, into 8 pieces. Or you can cut out shapes with cookie cutters, like stormtroopers and Boba Fett. Place tortilla pieces on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with seasoning. I sprinkled half with chili powder and half with salt.
  3. Bake for about 4-5 minutes, or until tortillas are as crisp as you like.

TNWIGTTSFJOBOC Chips

They were not as crunchy as store-bought chips, but they worked. And because they were in Star Wars shapes, I heard no complaints 😉

And speaking of no complaints, there were none with this meal. Yippy-skippy!

Batman: I think this is delicious!

Sarah Crewe: Well, it’s okay. It really tastes like margarita. (as if she would know)

Curious George: Mmmmm!!! It’s really good!

Elmo: It tastes like chicken. (awww… her first real critique)

Don Corleone said I’m putting too much pressure on him to come up with creative comments. But then he cracked himself up with the following:

“This chicken is so good, if I had two pistols I’d shoot them in the air, yelling ‘Ay! Ay! Ay!'”

“This reminds me of when I was in Pancho Villa’s army.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have had that second beer.”

“This reminds me of a Mexican restaurant near my house growing up, except it’s good. And I don’t have diarrhea.”

I hope you all have a lovely Memorial Day weekend! Enjoy the unofficial start of summer, and don’t forget to pause to remember those who have died in our nation’s service.

clip_art_american_flag

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Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

The other day, my Critics asked one of their FAQ (see more of them on my FAQ page):

Critics: What’s for dinner, Mommy?
Me: Tonight we’re trying a new recipe. Shrimp tacos with black bean salsa.
Critics: Oh boy! Shrimp tacos! That sounds so exotic and exciting! And black bean salsa, how delightful! Wowzers, I can’t wait for supper!

And then my alarm rang and I woke up. Boooo! Here’s how it really went down:

Critics: What is that?
Me: Tacos.
Critics: What’s in them?
Me: Food. Try them.
Critics: Just tell us!

Batman takes a bite.

Batman: It’s shrimp!

The other critics retreat in horror.

 Me: It’s for my blog, so you have to taste it and I’ll write down what you think.

The Critics each take one teeny, mouse-size bite and declare their hatred of the crustaceous filling:

Sarah Crewe: I’d like the shrimp if it weren’t so… juicy.

Batman: I just don’t like shrimp.

Curious George: You can write down that I hate it. No, I really do, I hate it!

Don Corleone: I think it’s good!

Elmo slept through dinner. Lucky.

Thank goodness for Bubbye and Zaydee. We went to their house for dessert (and to meet their new little puppy, Louie) so my sweet little Critics did not have to go to bed with empty bellies.

Ah well, you win some, you lose LOTS.

I wanted to come up with my own recipe for shrimp tacos, but I found this recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker, and it looked so tasty (and easy!!) that I really wanted to try it.

Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

  • Taco shells
  • 1 lb cooked, deveined, and shelled shrimp- tails off
  • 1-1 1/2 cups black bean salsa
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • Cilantro- half a bunch
  • Shredded lettuce.

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop the shrimp. Pour the salsa over the shrimp, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. Chop the tomatoes and cilantro. Combine in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Heat taco shells according to package directions. Add shredded lettuce to the shells.
  4. Dump the shrimp mixture into a skilled and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Using a slotted spoon, divide the mixture among the taco shells. Top with tomatoes and cilantro.

Shrimp Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

Apparently I do not know how to follow directions, because I didn’t realize the shrimp were supposed to be cooked first. So I marinated my uncooked shrimp in about half a jar of salsa, then drained it and cooked the shrimp in the remaining salsa in the skillet.

I, for one, thought this recipe was very yummy! My unfortunate Critics may be seeing this one again someday!

Frank Sinatra’s Sausage and Peppers

Would it sound as good if it were “Frank Sinatra’s Tuna Casserole?”

Hey, you know what? Frank tells you to make tuna casserole, you make the tuna casserole.

Fortunately for us, it’s sausage and peppers.

Frank Sinatra died this week (May 14) 13 years ago. I still remember it so clearly. I was getting ready for work when my mom called to tell me the news. ‘Oh man,’ I thought, ‘How am I going to break the news to Don Corleone?’

We had been married only nine months, and this was the first “big” news I had to break to him. He was (and is) a HUGE Sinatra fan. I knew I had to be gentle and sensitive. How would I, in my new role as a loving wife, handle this momentous occasion?

I hung up the phone, went into the bedroom where The Don was dressing for work, and blurt out, “Guess what! Frank Sinatra died!”

Smooth.

Don’t beat around the bush, that’s my motto.

This is the recipe that Frank Sinatra prepared when he appeared on Dinah Shore’s television show, and you can also find it in her cookbook:

Someone's in the Kitchen With Dinah

Frank Sinatra’s Sausage and Peppers

  •  1 lb hot Italian sausage
  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper (optional)

Directions:

  1. Remove stems and seeds from peppers and cut into large chunks. In an ovenproof baking dish that can be used on top of the stove, saute green peppers in oil until they begin to soften. Sprinkle with a little salt. Lift green peppers out of dish and set aside.
  2. Brown the sausage in the same baking dish. When browned, add the red wine.
  3. Cover the pan and bake the sausages in wine in a 350F oven for 40 minutes.
  4. Uncover and add green peppers back to the dish. Bake for another 30 minutes and serve in the same dish.

I used half hot and half sweet Italian sausages, because I thought the hot would be too much for the kids. I served this with crusty garlic bread and spaghetti with marinara sauce. And salad, which nobody ate because we were all too stuffed from the pasta and sausage.  

Frank Sinatra's Sausage and Peppers

Wow. This was good. I mean really, really good. And I’m not just saying that because I think Frank will send some of his goons to haunt me from the grave. It really was fantastic.  My critics agreed:

Don Corleone: It’s ring-a-ding-delicious!

Sarah Crewe: I really love the sausage. The peppers are bad.

Batman: The sausage and peppers are really good!

Curious George: I like the sausage. I don’t like the peppers.

Elmo ate only pasta. But she didn’t have a nap today, so I think it’s unfair to take her opinion too seriously 😉

If you’re interested, click here to watch a video on youtube of The Chairman cooking his marinara sauce with Dinah Shore in 1970. It’s fun to watch!

 I always loved Phil Hartman’s portrayal of Ol’ Blue Eyes on Saturday Night Live…

Best of Phil Hartman

Phil Hartman as Frank Sinatra

Enjoy 🙂

Grilled Five-Spice Chicken

I think I have Senioritis. I am not a senior anything, but it’s spring, and the weather has been gorgeous, and I don’t want to work. I just want to bang on the drums all day.

Or toot my oboe. Either one.

God bless the teachers of high school seniors in the spring. You might as well just phone it in. That’s what your students are doing.

My high school graduating class recently had its 20-year reunion. I didn’t go, because oh my gosh I totally wanted to but there was this really important thing I had to do that day and I’m so sorry but I just couldn’t get out of it which is a shame ’cause I’m sure it was loads of fun, too bad I had to miss it, so sad boo-hoo.

Ahem.

When the weather is as nice as it’s been this past week, I want to grill every night. This accomplishes three things: one- there is very little kitchen mess to clean up. Two- Don Corleone does the grilling (less work for me). And three- we get to eat a super yummy dinner (not to mention make our neighbors jealous with the delicious smell of meat cooking on an open fire).

Grilled Five-Spice Chicken

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine oil, sherry, five-spice, and garlic in a large ziploc bag. Put the chicken in the bag and coat thoroughly. Marinate in refrigerator for at least an hour.
  2. Grill the chicken. Truth be told, my directions end here. I would like to write: “Give the chicken to somebody else to grill while you go read a book” but I realize that not everyone is scared of the grill like I am. I’m afraid you’re on your own for this part.
  3. Combine soy sauce and brown sugar and brush on chicken during the last few minutes of grilling, to create a glaze. Remove from grill and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Chicken on the grill

Holy cow.

Is what you will not be having for dinner tonight, because you have to make this chicken. It is really, really simple, and really, really good! My critics all loved it, and that’s saying something!

Don Corleone: This chicken is an explosion of summer in my mouth. It reminds me of the summers I spent in China, if I ever went to China.

Sarah Crewe: This chicken rocks!

Batman: I love the chicken!

Curious George: I like it.

Elmo: More yeah-yeah.

Grilled Five-Spice Chicken

See the pretty salad next to the chicken? I was going to blog that recipe, too, but it wasn’t so great. In fact, next to each of the Critics’ comments above, just insert “…but do I have to eat the salad?”

Except for Don Corleone, who said, “The rice reminds me of Apocalypse Now.” I asked him what he meant by that and he said, “I don’t know. It just does.”

Here’s to high school graduations, movies, and grilling! Enjoy!

Star Wars Oreos

My husband informed me this morning that today, May the 4th, is Star Wars Day.

Duh.

You knew that, too, right?

I got the idea for Star Wars oreos from justjennrecipes.com. Jenn is my go-to resource for all things Geek and Food. I am so enamored of her creativity! Since I am married to a Geek, and am apparently raising a whole new generation of Geeks, and since I love to cook, I visit her site frequently (read: daily).

Star Wars Oreos

  • your favorite sugar cookie recipe
  • Star Wars cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Prepare sugar cookies with Star Wars cookie cutters, adding food coloring if desired. While the cookies cool, prepare the filling:
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter while carefully adding the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and beat until creamy.
  3. Plop some filling onto one cookie, and top with another. (Depending on the shape, you will put some filling on the flat side of the cookie). And there you have it. These aren’t the cookies you’re looking for.

Nice try, Obi Wan. These are precisely the cookies I’m looking for!

The last time I made these, I added green food coloring to half the batter for Yoda, and cocoa powder to half the batter for Darth Vader. I didn’t take a picture, because I had no idea Star Wars Day would be here so soon! It just creeps up on you, doesn’t it??? This time I only made Yoda and Boba Fett, because making one big green batch was, quite frankly, all the excitement I could take for one day.

Yoda & Boba Fett Oreos

Goodness, with the Royal Wedding, the bin Laden news, and Star Wars Day… this is turning out to be quite a week! I’m going to need a vacation after all this!

Speaking of vacations, my six-year-old wanted to know if cereal for grown-ups has alcohol in it. Mmmmm… Martini-O’s! That might be just what the doctor ordered!

May the 4th be with You!

(that’s the Star Wars Day slogan. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up!)

Crockpot Teriyaki Pork Chops

U.S.A.!! U.S.A.!!

Two major events that will go down in history happened in the last two days. One, Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals. And two, I made a dinner that every member of my family enjoyed.

I do realize that one is significantly more important than the other (but I won’t say which one).

Whenever the leader of a major terrorist organization is captured and killed by Navy Seals, you should make teriyaki pork chops in your slow cooker. That’s just good sense.

Crock Pot Teriyaki Pork Chops

  • 4-5 boneless pork loin chops
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp water

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and brown both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Put chops in slow cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients (except cornstarch and water) in a small bowl. Pour over chops. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
  3. Remove chops from pot and keep warm. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add to sauce in the slow cooker and cook on high for 30 minutes to thicken the sauce. Serve over rice.

Teriyaki Pork Chops


Do you believe every single Critic loved these chops?

Don Vito Corleone: It’s delicious!

Sarah Crewe picked up her chop with her hands and ate it like a barbarian. She was afraid if she cut it on her plate, some of it might touch her applesauce. But, she said: I like it!

Batman: This is really good!

Curious George: I like it! 

Elmo: Yes. Chicken. 

The Navy Seals rock! They know how to whack a bad guy when they find one. Here are some movies where the villain also gets his/her comeuppance:

The Wizard of Oz:

"I'm melting! Melting!"

Die Hard:

Bye-bye, Hans!

Raiders of the Lost Ark:

Ewwww... that's just gross. But deserved.

Saturday Night Live It’s a Wonderful Life Lost Ending:

Mr. Potter getting his butt kicked

Tombstone:

"You tell 'em I'm coming! And Hell's coming with me!"

Inglorious Basterds:

Re-writing history

Terminator 2:

"Hasta la Vista, Baby"

Charles Bronson, in any movie:

"Goodbye"

This is so not my area of expertise, so VC had to help me!

And now I leave you with this last thought:

“The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” -George W. Bush