Summer Mexican Cobb Salad

Mexican Cobb Salad

Chipotle Chicken and Cilantro Vinaigrette give this one dish dinner a real taste of Mexico.

Combine the taste of cilantro dressing with fresh and lively salad crunch, and top it with grilled spicy chipotle chicken – you’ll have the best summer salad … this one will be on repeat.

CHIPOTLE CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, or 8 boneless, skinless thighs
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Blend all ingredients until smooth, and pour over chicken.  Marinate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

Grill until cooked through, and set aside.  Do not slice until chicken has rested at least 15 minutes.

CILANTRO VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 huge bunch cilantro – chopped up
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 loved garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

Put all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

This vinaigrette is delicious!  Use it on a salad, or as a topping for your steak ….. dip your prawns into it …. the list is endless.

SALAD

Summer Salad

include any number of ingredients to create texture, bright, crispy crunchy fresh vegetables as well as creamy avocado, tasty fruit and toasted nuts

 

  • salad greens
  • spinach
  • cucumber
  • sweet peppers
  • snap peas
  • corn, grilled and sliced off the cobb
  • avocado
  • sliced strawberries
  • cooked bacon
  • toasted nuts

Toss salad ingredients together, and drizzle with cilantro vinaigrette.

Top with sliced chicken and drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the chicken.

 

Mini Lemon Cheesecake

Easter means brighter, fresher desserts, and this fits that description perfectly.  Ideal for brunch, lunch or dinner, these are a real treat.  I found the recipe on “Live Well Bake Often”, and, unusually for me ….. I didn’t change a thing!

Mini Lemon Cheesecake

When spring is peaking around the corner, I immediately think of lighter, fresher desserts …. and usually lemon figures in there somewhere!  These light, lemony cheesecakes topped with fresh whipped cream and berries are an ideal way to finish off dinner.

Cheesecake graham crumb

If you have a mini cheesecake pan, that would be ideal, but this straight sided silicone muffin tin I had worked perfectly.

For the crust:
  • 6 full-sheets (90 grams) graham crackers (or ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
Graham crumb 2

It’s important to get the crumbs settled smoothly into the bottom of the tin, and I used the bottom of a small glass to get it all flattened out.

To make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray each cavity of a 12-count mini cheesecake pan well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (or silicone muffin pan).  If you want to use a traditional muffin tin I would recommend using liners for easier removal.
  2. Add the graham crackers to a blender or food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Scoop the crumbs into a mixing bowl, add the melted butter and sugar, and mix until everything is well combined. Evenly distribute the mixture between all 12 cavities in the mini cheesecake pan, making sure to press each one down firmly into one even layer. Bake at 325°F for 5 minutes, remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Keep oven temperature at 325°F.
Mini cheesecake

These muffin tins used 1/4 cup of the cheesecake batter to make the perfect little mini cheesecake.

For the lemon cheesecake filling:
  • 12-ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
To make the cheesecake filling:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the granulated sugar and mix until well combined. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed, then mix in the egg and egg yolk on low speed until just combined.
  2. Evenly distribute the cheesecake filling between all 12 cavities of the mini cheesecake pan (or muffin pan) and return to the oven. Bake at 325°F for 17-20 minutes or until the tops of the cheesecakes are set.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. Once the cheesecakes are chilled, remove them from the pan. Top with whipped cream and fresh berries if desired, serve, and enjoy!

 

KFC – Korean Fried Cauliflower

KFC

Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and a world of deliciousness.  Welcome to KFC.

I can tell you right now, this is worthy of the time investment.  Hayley had mentioned this dish to me years ago, when she and Andrea had it in Vancouver.  I was intrigued at that point, and tried it in a few restaurants, without feeling the love.  (at least not the love Andrea and Hayley expressed)   We finally did experience that, in Mexico City of all places!  Fat Boy Moves is the name of a Korean restaurant there, and it had such amazing reviews we had to try it out.  We went twice.  This cauliflower is the one item that makes Grant say he could be vegetarian … me too.  Once we got home I went on the search.  There are lots of recipes out there, but none of them had the steps or the ingredients I thought it would take to get that taste experience you just can’t get enough of.  Finally, with a recipe sourced out of “Carbon Bar” (restaurant in Toronto) I think I’ve nailed it.  The sauce makes more than you will need, so just enjoy that, and use it on whatever you feel like.

(sidebar here …. I have no idea if this is authentically Korean, but we had it in a Korean restaurant, so I’m calling it Korean!)

1 head cauliflower

green onions (for garnish)

Cauliflower

BUTTERMILK MIXTURE

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

FLOUR MIXTURE

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder

KFC SAUCE

  • 1 cup gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it and add cauliflower florets.  Cook for only 1 minute, then shock in ice water bath and allow to drain completely.

To make the KFC sauce, combine all ingredients in heavy bottom saucepan and stir until it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and continue to stir occasionally until it reduces slightly and becomes somewhat like a syrup.  (Should take about 15 min) Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  This keeps well in the fridge for 10-14 days in a covered container.

KFC Sauce

Whisk buttermilk with cayenne pepper, nutmeg and thyme.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 days to allow seasonings to permeate buttermilk.

Whisk flour and dry ingredients together.

If you have a deep fryer, set it to 350, if not use a heavy bottom, deep saucepan and about 8 cups of vegetable oil for frying.  If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a chopstick into the oil … if little bubbles form around the chopstick you are ready to go!

Put your buttermilk mixture, and your flour mixture into separate large bowls.

Toss handfuls of florets into flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Using a slotted spoon, dip cauliflower into buttermilk and again, let excess drip off.  Roll wet cauliflower back in flour mixture again, to coat.  Place on plate.  Repeat until all florets have been coated.

In small batches, carefully place florets in hot oil.  Do not overcrowd your pot or the temperature will drop and the florets will stick together.  You don’t want either to happen!  Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel line plate.

In large bowl toss fried cauliflower with about 3/4 cup of the KFC sauce until each is covered lightly and evenly.  Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.

Prepare to be licking your fingers, looking for more, and already planning the next time you’ll make it.

Messy kitchen

Sadly, this is what my kitchen looked like by the time I finished. Was it worth it?  You bet, a thousand times yes, and I’ll be doing it again soon.  (and, I have no idea why the reflection out the window looks more like an apartment building and not like the tomato field it is …..)

Moist & Delicious Banana Bread

Everybody family has a favourite banana bread, but you may want to give this one a try!  So moist and delicious, and to seal the deal, it is super easy and quick.  If you are in a hurry, just make the recipe into muffins and they will be ready in 20 minutes.

 

  1. 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  2. 1/2 cup white sugar
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 eggs,  lightly beaten
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 3 bananas, mashed (4 if they are small)
  7. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  8. 1 tsp baking soda  
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and crushed bananas.
  4. Combine well.
  5. Sift together flour, cinnamon, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture.
  6. Mix just until combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
  8. Sprinkle raw sugar mixed with cinnamon over top.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Variations:  (add at the end)

chopped walnuts, or chocolate chips, or (even better) a few chocolate chips and a few Skor bits

Orange Gingerbread Cookies

The first time I tasted these orange ginger cookies, I knew we needed the recipe!  Thanks Courtney for supplying that courtesy of Nana Patti Collins ….. just wait until you try these.

Orange Ginger 1

Preheat oven to 365 F.

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tsp orange peel
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy, add egg, orange peel & corn syrup.

Sift dry ingredients together and add gradually to creamed mixture.

Orange Ginger 2

Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Orange Ginger 3

Roll between sheets of parchment paper (to 1/4″ thickness”) and cut.  (or form into a log and chill to slice and bake) These cookies do spread out quite a bit so leave lots of room between each one.

Bake at 365 for 9 minutes.

Cornbread Muffins

I’ve tried a few corn muffins or corn bread, but so often they turn out a little dry or too grainy.  These were absolutely perfect, so moist and delicious with the taste of the corn.  I found the recipe on “Once Upon a Chef” and for the first time, didn’t tweak a thing!

corn muffins 2

Light and fluffy, moist and delicious – what more could you want from a cornbread muffin?

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup milk (preferably whole but low-fat works too)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°Fdegrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. (I prefer to use non-stick cooking spray so the muffins get nice and crisp on the edges.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, break up the eggs with a whisk. Whisk in the honey and then the milk. Add the milk mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients. Stir until just blended. Do not overmix; it’s okay if there are a few lumps. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup almost full. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are set and golden. Cool the muffins for a few minutes in the pan, then serve warm.
corn muffins 1

I served these with a slightly spicy chipotle beef stew, so I didn’t want any extra spice here, but next time I might try mixing in a little jalapeño and gouda cheese …… yum.

Apple Pie Cookie Bars

apple pie bars 5

Combine an apple pie with shortbread bars and you have this winner!  I found this recipe in my latest Food Network magazine, from Ina Garden, and I’ve already made it twice.  The first time without the nuts so that the kids can take it in school lunches.

  • For the Crust
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
apple pie bars 4

Make sure your little helper has fun!  Stella loves working in the kitchen with Nana…

  • For the Apple Filling
  • 1½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
  • 1½ pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

Apple pie bars 1

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust, place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined. Scatter two-thirds of the dough in clumps in a 9 × 13-inch baking pan and press it lightly with floured hands on the bottom and ½ inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the mixing bowl with the remaining dough back on the mixer, add the walnuts and cinnamon, and mix on low speed to combine. Set aside.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling, combine the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples and lemon juice in a very large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch-diameter) pot, add the apples, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a ½-inch border.

apple pie bars 3

Pinch medium pieces of the remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly on top of the apples (they will not be covered).

apple pie bars 2

Make sure you taste …….. Stella already knows this, here she decided to add a few oats and more cinnamon to the topping mix ….. it was a hit!

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is browned. Cool completely and cut into bars.