Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sesame Asian Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing



This is going to be a short and sweet little post, because I just want to share this delicious, healthy weeknight recipe that is too good to pass up. This salad, adapted from Foolproof Living, is so good that I would make it for company any time, but it's so quick and easy (and portable) that I usually make it to pack for delicious lunches. I've never thought of using almond butter in a salad dressing before, but it makes perfect sense since Thai peanut dressing is such a favorite!

I made a couple of simple change for the sole reason of making this super easy. Local store Wheatsville Co-Op has a salad mix called Beet & Kale that also has the shredded carrots and cabbage already in it. So I started with that and added rotisserie chicken, edamame, sliced almonds, and sesame seeds. I kept the dressing exactly as it is, because yum. Go check it out and make this ASAP.


Recipe: Foolproof Living
Photos: Mine

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Crispy Pecan-Crusted Chicken over Sunflower Crunch Salad and Hummus



Have I ever mentioned how much I love, and I mean love, fried food? Oh, only 1000 times? Great, here's one more. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: you must consider investing in an Airfryer. This nifty little gadget is the best way I've ever found to replicate the brown, crunchy exterior and juicy interior of deep-fried food, and it does it all with nearly no oil. Amazing! This dish highlights an incredibly crunchy crusted pecan chicken, with a perfectly plump and juicy breast hiding under that golden exterior.

I love coming up with new ideas for weeknight meals, and I've got no shame showing a recipe that uses... bagged salad mix. And? Store-bought hummus. Unusual for me, but after a full day of work this is an amazing dinner that comes together in a snap. Most simple salads would work, including spinach or arugula dressed in a light vinaigrette.  The hummus adds such a nice extra flavor element, especially for dipping the slices of chicken. For real though... that chicken!


Crispy Pecan-Crusted Chicken over Sunflower Crunch Salad and Hummus
Serves 2 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground pecans (or whole pecans chopped in a food processor)
  • 2 T. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • Generous pinch of pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to thin slightly if thick (mine were huge!)
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 bag of Dole Sunflower Crunch Salad Mix (I omitted bacon), or any simple salad
  • 2 generous spoonfuls of plain hummus
Directions
  1. Mix the first four ingredients in a shallow bowl.
  2. Crack the egg into another bowl, and whisk with fork to mix yolk and whites.
  3. Coat each chicken breast in the egg, allow excess to drip, and roll in the pecan mixture to coat. Spray lightly all over with olive oil spray.
  4. Cook the chicken in the Airfryer at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, then turn up heat to 400 degrees and cook an additional 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can bake them in the oven at 425 for 45-55 minutes.
  5. While the chicken cooks, spread a dollop of hummus on each plate. Mix the salad (I used way less than the full dressing - it's quite sweet), and divide between the plates.
  6. When the chicken is done, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes (if you can wait!), then slice and plate over the salad.




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

An Afternoon at La Pause, Marrakech






One of the most memorable parts of our trip through Morocco was the afternoon we spent at La Pause, a glamping resort in the Agafay desert outside of Marrakech. I first came across La Pause during my maniacal vaca research as a place to ride camels and check out the landscape outside Morocco's bustling cities. Only after we made the quick 20 minute drive did I realize just how great this little getaway would be.

Accomodations at La Pause consist of a series of cloth tents furnished with comfy beds and sitting areas. There is no electricity at the resort, so nighttime is spent around communal fire rings, or by lantern light. Each meal is made by a fantastic chef with fresh ingredients grown on the property. We didn't spend the night, but thoroughly enjoyed a day trip of camel riding and lunch.

We were greeted with mint tea and a quick tour of the property before mounting our pair of camels. Adam swears mine was better behaved, but I found the ride to be relaxing and easy (after a brief scary bit while the camel stands up). The desert scenery is stunning, with nothing dotting the landscape for miles. The ride is plenty long, and the temperature was pleasant in May. Afterward, we were treated to a multiple course meal of fresh salads, tagine, and dessert that was one of our favorite of the entire trip. It was a great way to spend a few hours on our way from Marrakech to our next destination.


A quick aside: I wear this Sam Edelman jumpsuit everywhere. And these pics show I mean everywhere. It's one of my favorite items of clothing because it can be dressed up or down, never wrinkles, and has the most flattering cut... when not seated on a camel. I wish it were still available, but there's two alternatives below.

Jumpsuit - Sam Edelman (similar here and here)
Scarf - Anthropologie (similar here and here)
Bag - Brit & Belle




Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chipotle, Brown Sugar Bacon, and Goat Cheese Guacamole



You guys... it's nearly impossible for me to believe that there was a time that I hated guacamole. In fact, as I've mentioned before, I hated avocados entirely. Don't worry, I've come to my senses and come around to both like a good Texan. I still, however, don't like the guac at a lot of restaurants, and I quickly realized the reason was because they're so terribly lacking salt and citrus. Now when I make my own, I know to not be shy with either.


And then, well, I trash it up nice and good too... previously copying the Austin restaurant Z'Tejas with cotija and pepitas (still my fav), and more recently with this new twist. First, I wanted to add one of my favorite flavors: chipotle. Then, tangy goat cheese and crispy bacon. I knew both the goat cheese and chipotles would pair perfectly with a little bit of sweetness, so I candied the bacon with a dusting of brown sugar. This guac is seriously to die for, and is definitely not under-seasoned.




Chipotle, Brown Sugar Bacon, and Goat Cheese Guacamole


Ingredients 

  • 2 large Haas avocados, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 - 2 T. minced shallot, to taste
  • 1 - 2 T. chopped cilantro, to taste
  • 1 - 2 T. diced chipotles, from canned chipotles in adobo
  • Dash of fresh lime juice
  • Generous pinch each of sea salt and pepper
  • 3 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2-3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Directions
  1. Rub pieces of raw bacon with brown sugar until thinly coated (may not use full tablespoon). Cook in a skillet over medium heat, then allow to cool and crumble the pieces.
  2. Stir and slightly mash the avocados, tomato, cilantro, chipotles, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Top the guacamole with crumbled bacon, goat cheese, and extra cilantro for garnish, if desired.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sprouting Broccoli and Edamame Salad with Curry and Toasted Coconut (and Brown Butter Scallops)



Yotam Ottolenghi is a vegetable magician. I so wish I were better at eating and enjoying veggies, but given that I grew up on lettuce with cheese, croutons, and Italian dressing as salad... I've come a long way.  If you're lucky enough to ever eat in one of Ottolenghi's restaurants, you'll find yourself eating plates of veggies and absolutely loving it. Nowhere else would I eat a sampling of salads without even looking at the entrees.

When I'm cooking from someone else's recipe, I almost always change some things. With his recipes, I only change based on necessity, not preference. I couldn't find curry leaves in Whole Foods or Central Market, so I had to improvise there. Also, I scaled the broccoli and green beans down a bit to fit dinner for two, and added some cress sprouts I've been growing in a bowl on my kitchen counter. But, I kept everything else the same, and this salad was fire. We topped it with some seared brown butter scallops for a super healthy, but flavorful dinner.


Sprouting Broccoli and Edamame Salad with Curry and Toasted Coconut
Adapted from Plenty More, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 2 Entrees with some leftovers, or 4 side dishes

Ingredients
  • 8.5 oz broccolini, preferably young and sprouting, stems sliced thinner or removed
  • 5 oz haricots verts, trimmed
  • 1 1/3 cups shelled frozen edamame, thawed
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2.5 t. black mustard seeds
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 1/2 t. Za'atar
  • 3 whole dried red chiles
  • Shaved rind of 1 lime, plus 1.5 T. juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut  
  • Handful of sprouts (I used cress), optional
  • Salt and pepper
If serving with scallops
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. fresh scallops 
  • 4 T. butter

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the haricots verts and blanch for 1 minute. Add the broccolini and blanch 3 minutes more. Transfer the veggies to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Pat dry and set aside in a large serving bowl.
  2. Add the edamame and 1/2 t. of salt to the broccoli and beans.
  3. In a dry sauté pan over medium heat, toast the coconut until edges are golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe the pan out and use the same pan for the next step. 
  4. Heat 4 T. of olive oil in the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and 1/4 t. salt, cook for 4 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the mustard seed and cook until the seeds begin to pop.
  5. Add the curry powder, Za'atar, chiles, and lime rind. Saute for 2 minutes before pouring everything over the vegetables. Stir and set aside.
  6. When ready to serve, add the lime juice, cilantro, toasted coconut, and sprouts. Toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
For the scallops
  1. Pat the scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook without turning until golden brown on first side, about 90 seconds. Turn the scallops and add the butter to the pan. Cook until butter starts turning brown (will smell nutty) and the scallops are just cooked, about another 2 minutes.
  3. Serve atop the finished salad.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Where to Eat & Drink in Tulum


Gitano - The Gypsy Disco

I wanted to go into a little more depth with the restaurants and bars we loved during our trip to Tulum, and also to share some photos that help do these beautiful places justice. The setting and decor at each added so much to the experience, and were almost as important as the delicious food. The design and decor in this town is so on point; I wanted my house to look like pretty much every place.

Posada Margherita

Great for lunch or dinner, the view is unbeatable, and the food is fresh and delicious. Italian is a bit unexpected along the coast of Mexico, but it was fantastic nonetheless. We had an assortment of fresh foccacia and handmade pastas on their beachfront terrace, and of course some cocktails to enjoy with the view.


Coqui Coqui

If this hotel hadn't been booked up for ages, I would have loved to stay here. The interiors are so perfect, and the whole property feels like a secluded little spa. We only had a drink here and hung out at their beach, but this is the place for a massage or spa treatment, and check out their perfumery as well.


Hartwood

This restaurant is, in my opinion, the real gem of the town. I loved it so much that I bought their cookbook, which is stunning from cover to cover. Started by an American husband and wife who wanted to leave it all behind and follow their passion, this place has the freshest, most inventive foods around. You have to line up every day by 3:00pm, when the hostess assigns tables and tells you whether or not you've gotten in. Thankfully after that you can leave to walk around til about 7:00. 

My sneaky favorite dish was the jicama salad, and I don't even love jicama! We also ate langoustine salad and the freshest ever ceviche. Another unexpected highlight for me was the smoked beet with a puree of crack... or whatever that was. Their all-day slow cooked goat ribs are the restaurants staple, and they were fall-off-the-bone tendre and full of sweet and spicy flavor. We drank way too many pitchers of watermelon cocktails as well. The chef came out for a while to have a drink with us, and it was really cool to chat with him about the restaurant and food. 


Gitano

Finally, my favorite place for a drink was Gitano. Their decor and ambiance was unrivaled (see first pic of this post), and they had a huge selection of freshly made cocktails. We had a relaxed evening here, then later meandered to another bar for more of a late-night scene, but I could have stayed all night.


I had high hopes for this trip, and it somehow still exceeded my expectations. Most people who know me know that I press people to go here all. the. time. I'm not going to stop anytime soon.