Friday, May 29, 2015

Grilled Island Chicken with Asian Slaw

Our pseudo "Hawaiian Week" is coming to an end and we have been reminiscing about our adventures that we were blessed enough to experience last summer.  Fortunately the sun has peeked out for us a little bit every day this week.

I even went so far to bring all our outdoor lounge and dining furniture out, so we could enjoy a few meals on the patio this week.  I figured if summer is refusing to come to me, then I was determined to have summer dining even if I was in rain gear! The tiki torches are scattered throughout the backyard again, and we now have a real firepit for some tropical coconut s'mores.

You know it's really bad when I buy "Hawaiian Aloha" flagrance
trash bags for that tropical scent in our kitchen to remind me of the islands.

A couple months back, our Traeger website sent me these recipes.  They were super delicious and easy to make, with a very little prep needed for a wonderful dinner.  We love the slaw so much, we have made it quite a few times since.  I make a large batch of the chicken and we use the extras for various adaptations on dinners throughout the week.

Grilled Island Chicken with Asian Slaw
Adapted from Traeger Grills

4, 4 oz. Chicken Breasts
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
1 tsp. fresh Ginger, grated
1 tsp. fresh Garlic, chopped
2 tsp. Soy Sauce
2 tsp. Coconut Oil

1 tsp. Sesame Oil
1 tsp. fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
2 tsp. Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
1 cup Napa Cabbage, shredded
1 cup Green Cabbage, shredded
1 cup Purple Cabbage, shredded
1 cup Carrots, julienned
1 cup Bean Sprouts
2 Tbsp. Scallions, chopped

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade.  Place the chicken breasts and the marinade in a large, seal-able bag.  Seal and place in the refrigerator.  Marinate the chicken for at least 3 hours, best if overnight.

Add the first five ingredients for the slaw in a small bowl, whisking to combine. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Toss with the dressing at least 30 minutes before serving.

When ready to cook the chicken, start the Traeger on smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to High (450°F), and preheat, lid closed (10 to 15 minutes). Take the chicken out of the marinade and place it on the grill. ** If you are using your own BBQ or Grill, just cook until the internal meat temperature reaches 160°F.

Serve with slaw and white rice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chocolate Chip Coconut Scones

This past weekend was my 18th wedding anniversary.  Last year we had the fortunate blessing of being able to take our family to Mauni Lani Resort in Kona for a special, beautiful anniversary week.

With all our unfortunate weather we have been having this month, it has made me yearn for Hawaii even more this week.  Our first morning we woke up on the island, my husband and I treated ourselves to a taste of Hawaii with Kona coffee and chocolate chip coconut scones.  I have been desperately craving them since.

Last year's Kona coffee and anniversary scones.
Well, I was determined this week to bring back some of those tastes and wonderful memories of our family vacation to us this week.  I started off this weekend with creating my own Chocolate Chip Coconut Scones.  Oh dear heaven, they were amazing!!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Scones
Adapted from Joy The Baker
(makes 12 scones)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons raw or granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 large egg
3/4 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

buttermilk and sugar for topping, before baking

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place shredded coconut on parchment paper lined baking sheet
and toast in the oven about 8 to 10 minutes.
Keep your eye on the coconut, it browns quickly.
Remove from oven when toasted and let cool.

* Heat oven now to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Toss the cold butter into the flour mixture.  Using your hands,
quickly work the butter into flour mixture, breaking it up with
your fingers.  Some butter bits will be the size of small pebbles,
 and some will be the size of oat flakes.  Set in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Whisk together buttermilk and egg.

Remove the flour and butter mixture from the refrigerator and
add the coconut and chocolate chips.  Whisk together.

Make a well in the center of mixture.  Add the buttermilk
mixture all at once to the well.  Use a fork to bring the wet and 
dry ingredients together.  Mixture will be shaggy.

Lightly flour a work surface and dump the shaggy dough mixture
onto the counter.  Bring together the dough with your hands into
a 1-1/2 inch thick disk.  Use a 2-1/2 inch square pastry cutter to
cut out scones.  Flour the cutter if it starts to stick.

Place scones about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
(I used the same sheet that I toasted the coconut).
Brush with a bit of buttermilk and sprinkle a few pinches 
of granulated sugar.

 Bake scones for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown and cooked
through.  Remove from oven and serve warm.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

While everyone is enjoying their summer, sunshine, backyard grilling parties and gardening...I am not.  It is STILL raining with no end in sight.  We had a brief moment of broken clouds last week and proceeded to rush the tomato and cucumber starter planting in our garden.  Why, I really don't know. If we don't get any sunshine here soon, it will turn into nothing but soggy leaves.  I honestly don't know who will be more bummed about no fruits of our labor, my husband or me.

That being said, cold, fresh garden salads have not sounded good to any of us.  It's been all about comfort foods, soups, paninis and warm desserts.  Needless to say I dare not try on any of last summer's shorts yet.  To quote my dear childhood friend Charlie Brown, "AAUGH!!!"

In the event that we (or you) have a bountiful summer garden, this soup would be perfect to use some of your fresh tomatoes and/or red peppers.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Courtesy of

1 tsp. olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (or used jarred version)
3 red bell peppers
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp white sugar
6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
2 Tbl. butter
1-1/2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
sour cream (for garnish)

Roast peppers; rub oil on peppers and put them under the broiler until blackened, turn to get all sides.  Put roasted peppers into paper bag and seal.  Let rest for 15 minutes, then peel.  Skins will come right off and core and seeds will fall out.  Chop peppers.  Reserve one chopped pepper, set aside.  (If you are in a time crunch, you could always use a large jar of roasted red peppers also).

Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato, bell peppers (except reserved), thyme, paprika and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat until all the tomato juices have evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Stir in chicken stock, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer partially covered for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Strain soup, reserving broth.  Place solids in food processor or blender and process until fairly smooth.  Add puree back into broth.

Melt butter and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute to remove flour taste.  Stirring slowly, add the broth/vegetable mixture.  Add reserved chopped pepper and bring to boiling.  Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and add 1 tablespoon of sour cream to each bowl.  Serve with a rustic french loaf.

One Year Ago: Loaded Hasselback Potatoes

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Braised Crockpot Balsamic Steak with Gorgonzola Alfredo

So I am finally getting around to cooking up one of the Crockpot make ahead freezer meals that I prepped, froze and mentioned a few weeks back.

Since it is yet still dreary and raining here, this is one of those perfect warm and cozy dinners that was super easy and delicious!  I am such a fan of anything with Gorgonzola cheese in it, I think this was my favorite of all the make ahead meals we have done thus far.

Braised Crockpot Balsamic Steak with Gorgonzola Alfredo
Courtesy of Who Needs A Cape

For The Steak

1.5 lb beef top round steak cut into 2" squares
1 c balsalmic vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
2 T honey
1/4 c worcestershire sauce
3 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

    For the Sauce
4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups parmesean cheese
8 oz gorgonzola cheese crumbled (half for sauce half for garnish)
1 cup of butter
6 oz fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1 lb pasta of your choice (I used Campanelle)

    For the Steak
Mix all the ingredients and marinate over night.

Pour all the ingredients into the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours until steak is tender
Serve over sauced pasta

** If freezing combine all the steak ingredients only and freeze in freezer safe bag. DO NOT freeze the pasta  or sauce portion of this dish.
    For the Sauce
Follow instructions for cooking pasta.

Add the butter to the cream cooking bring the cream to a slow boil, frequently stirring.

Slowly add the parmesan cheese until it is melted into the cream.

Add 4 oz of the gorgonzola a little at a time into the Alfredo sauce until it is combined into the sauce.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil, then add the spinach a little at a time, letting it wilt before adding more spinach.

When the pasta is done drain the water and pour the sauce over the pasta tossing it until coated.

Use the rest of the gorgonzola to garnish the pasta as it is served. Spoon the steak and a bit of the sauce on top of pasta.

This sauce was also amazing over our grilled asparagus!  

**Taste test note, the balsamic taste is really strong in this dish, if you are fan of balsamic vinegar.  If you are not, you may want to do equal parts of the balsamic vinegar and some beef broth, to mellow it out.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pan-Fried Goat Cheese and Balsamic Strawberry Salad

I am feeling like Noah's wife this week.  It has rained, and rained and rained here and will not stop. Oh wait, except that they are saying it will snow tonight...not kidding.  

The only wonderful saving grace is that I am saving money on not having to water the lawn...and my husband's cancelled rounds of golf. The drawback to that though is he gets cabin fever really bad.  Thank goodness I bought him a practice golf net for the garage last winter, so he can keep busy with that until the sun decides to return here.

The other downside to all the gray skies and dreary weather, it makes me want to bake like crazy...and I'm not even that good of a baker.  I have been trying out new recipes and flavor combinations which makes the house warm, cozy and smell amazing.

That being said, I (and my tight pants) needed to take a break from the desserts and I made this salad for dinner the other night.  It goes together fairly quick and has incredible layers of flavor.

Pan-Fried Goat Cheese and Balsamic Strawberry Salad

6 ounces goat cheese
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbls. canola oil, divided
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or panko crumbs)
3 Tbls. butter
1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 Tbl. freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 to 6 cups mixed salad greens
1 cup thinly sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Slice goat cheese into 12 small rounds, about one-third of an inch thick.  If you freeze the goat cheese for about 15 minutes before you cut it, this should help the ease of cutting the soft cheese.

Combine the egg, 1 tablespoon canola oil and 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl and mix with a whisk.  Spread the bread crumbs over a plate and season with salt and pepper.  Dunk the cheese rounds, one at a time, into the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then roll in the bread crumbs to fully coat on both sides.  Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Heat the butter and remaining 3 tablespoons canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Carefully place the breaded cheese rounds in the pan and fry until light brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Drain on paper towels.

After skillet has cooled enough, carefully drain out any excess oil from skillet and clean off.  Add the chopped pecans and cook on medium heat until just starting to get fragrant and turn light brown.  (Watch carefully, so you do not let them burn)...I speak from great experience here!!  Remove pecans from pan and let cool.

For the vinaigrette, place 1 tablespoon vinegar in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and slowly beat in the olive oil and lemon juice.  (If you like more dressing on your salads, you may want to double the vinaigrette ingredients here).

Combine the salad greens, sliced strawberries, vinaigrette and chopped pecans in a bowl.  Place a small amount of salad greens in the center of 4 (side salad size) or (2 dinner/meal size), surround each plate with 3 (or 6 for dinner size) cheese rounds.  Enjoy!!

**Served with mushroom-Parmesan flatbread and a chilled bottle of Butternut Chardonnay.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze

Here was our dinner table conversation the other night, as dogs were trying to solicit during our meal...

Daughter:  "Get out of here Angus".
Mom (me): "Be nice to him".
Daughter:  "He is so annoying".
Mom: "Yes, and you can be annoying at times too".
Daughter: "But he's always begging".
Mom: "The way you are always begging me to make you something because you claim there is nothing to eat in the house"?

Right then, it hit me.  Teenagers and pets are exactly the same, which I then expressed my revelation at the table that night...there really isn't much difference between the two.  Here are my conclusions:

  • There are days when they only want to eat and sleep, and nothing else.  I call this the Slug Syndrome.
  • They can destroy the inside of your car in 2.3 seconds.
  • They decide if and when they want to have you hugging and snuggling them.
  • When they are not feeling well, they throw their sad little eyes on you, vomit right next to your feet (on the carpet of course, because they don't give you enough warning), and proceed to go to their bed.
  • They sass you when they don't immediately get their own way.
  • They are relentless when they want to go somewhere or want something and are very vocal about it.
  • When you finally get them in water, you can't get them out (i.e. teen girls in showers vs. dogs swimming in lakes).
  • When they do well at something, they love to be rewarded with treats.

Even with all their similarities (pleasant or not), I love them so much and wouldn't trade being a mom to each and every one of them for anything.  They all have their own wonderful traits, personalities and I am so blessed to have them in my life.

So, as we celebrate Mother's Day this weekend, be kind and remember that special someone in your life who has taken care of you and/or your pets.

Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze

For the cake:
1 box Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix
1 (3 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup canola oil

For the glaze:
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbl. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbl. orange juice

Preheat oven as directed on cake mix box.

Mix all cake ingredients and bake as directed on box (for bundt pan size).

Remove cake from oven and let cool.  While cake is cooling, mix all ingredients for glaze.

Turn cooled cake over on a serving platter and drizzle citrus glaze all over cake.

Let glaze set and serve.
Take the time to set a beautiful table for Mother's Day.
  She (and the dogs) will love you for it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

"Un"Fried Ice Cream in Cinnamon-Sugar Bowl

If you're feeling a sweet tooth coming on, this is the perfect answer to that and an incredibly easy Cinco de Mayo dessert.  If we ever have room in our stomachs after eating at a Mexican restaurant and are feeling like a splurge, sharing one of the Fried Ice Cream desserts is always at the top of the list.

I figured out a few years ago how to do a homemade version, without the deep frying.  It tastes exactly like the restaurant recipes!!  My kids love having them...okay, I do too!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, ice cream, butter, 
flour tortilla and cinnamon-sugar blend.

Take about a cup of the cereal and crush it in a 
plastic sandwich bag.

Roll one large scoop of ice cream in the crushed cereal.
Let set in freezer for about 15 minutes.

While the cereal coated ice cream is freezing, 
spread butter on flour tortilla and sprinkle with
the cinnamon-sugar blend.

Form tortilla into a bowl and bake at 425 degrees 
for about 10 minutes, or until just getting crispy and brown edges.
(making sure sugar does not burn)

Serve ice cream in baked tortilla bowl.
Drizzle with chocolate and caramel sundae syrup.

One Year Ago:  Margarita Cupcakes

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Creamy Baja Avocado Pasta with Chili Lime Chicken

Among my many weaknesses, I have an accessory addiction.  I rarely go out and look or search for them, they just seem to scream out and find me...take me home, they plead.  As I was out last weekend and finishing up some grocery shopping, I was driving home and stopped...that was my first mistake.  These little beauties were waiting for me.  Three gorgeous candle holders that not only blended in with the color palette of my project, they also fit perfectly in the coffee table topped tray.  I love it when these little surprise finds happen, don't you.

Speaking of great finds.  I stumbled on this Pinterest (another addiction) recipe a few weeks ago and thought it would be perfect for Cinco de Mayo night dinner.  I took it for a test run last month and it was awesome!!  I really loved the chicken part of the recipe.  I think this rub is my new go-to standby for chicken tacos and fajitas.

**Preparation warning makes a lot of food!!!  So, unless you are feeding a huge crowd, you may want to figure taking this recipe in half.

Creamy Baja Avocado Pasta with Chili Lime Chicken
Courtesy of Carlsbad Cravings

For The Chicken...

1 pound chicken breasts pounded to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness
  • Chili Lime Rub
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • fresh-squeezed lime juice from 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Lime zest from 1 lime
In a small bowl, whisk chicken rub ingredients together and rub evenly all over chicken breasts. Timer permitting, allow chicken to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate up to 8 hours then bring to room temperature for before cooking.*

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned (or blackened if you prefer) on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Garnish with extra fresh lime juice if desired.

For The Avocado Pasta:
  • 1 recipe Chili Lime Chicken (click HERE for recipe)
  • 16 oz. thin spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • fresh corn kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • hot sauce to taste
Creamy Blender Avocado Sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream (may sub. Greek yogurt)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeded, deveined and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
Garnishes (optional)
  • Pepitas
  • Pepper jack/cotija cheese
  • fresh lime juice
Prepare Chili Lime Chicken according to directions. When done, remove chicken to cutting board and cover to keep warm. Don't slice until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, add all of the Creamy Blender Avocado Sauce ingredients to your blender and chop then puree/liquefy until smooth.

In the same skillet you cooked your chicken in, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat (you can use remaining oil from chicken if there's enough). Add red bell peppers, corn and garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes, or until red peppers are crisp-tender. Add diced tomatoes/green chilies and heat through.

Add cooked pasta followed by Creamy Avocado Sauce and stir to combine. Heat through. Taste and add additional salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste.
Garnish individual servings with chicken and optional toppings of cheese, pepitas and fresh lime juice.
Refrigerate leftover pasta for up to 5 days. The lime juice will keep the sauce from discoloring.

One Year Ago:  White Pizza