Spicy Baked Chicken with Mango

I’ve been seriously obsessed with mangoes this year.

Nearly every week for the past couple months, I’ve been piling them into my cart at the store, pressing and prodding each one to find one perfectly soft.

Every week I’d cut up miscellaneous fruit and mix it together for breakfast – sometimes cantaloupe, strawberries, pineapple, all kinds of different things.  But one thing remained constant – the mango.

And then I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks – Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless.  It’s insanely easy and uses one of my favorite fruits – mango.

I truly apologize for not posting this sooner – now it’s nearly then end of mango season.   So hurry up and go find some good, ripe mangos.  And make this dish before time runs out.

I think I’m going to make a big batch of this sauce and freeze it to use it all winter long….

One year ago: Guinness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
Two years ago: Summer Bolognese and Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Spicy Baked Chicken with Mango
adapted from Rick Bayless and Mexican Everyday

1 tbsp vegetable oil
16 (1/4 oz total) dried arbol chiles, stemmed and seeded, or 2 (1/2 oz total) guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, fileted into cutlets
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 tbsp honey

To make the sauce: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the chiles to the hot oil.  Turn occasionally until they are aromatic and have changed color slightly, about 30 seconds.  Scoop the chiles into a food processor, leaving behind as much oil as possible.  Add garlic and tomatillos to the hot oil.  Cook until well browned, turning halfway through.  Scoop into food processor, add a pinch of salt and blend into smooth.

Lay chicken out in a glass baking dish and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and scatter the mango over the top.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.  Remove chicken to a platter.  Scoop sauce and mango into food processor with honey.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.



Sweet Pork and Pears

I’ve mentioned before, Pork chops aren’t exactly my favorite piece of meat.  I think I might have one or two pork chop recipes in the entire recipe history of PLFF.

But if I’m being honest?  We might start having pork a bit more regularly with this dish.

This pork was a little bit of everything – juicy, tart, sweet, salty and just seriously delish.  And EASY.  Less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

And now when I see pork chops in the sale ads, I much more likely to pick up a package.

Don’t forget to enter the Yes, Chef giveaway by Friday!

One year ago: Porch Pounder Sangria
Two years ago: Triple Berry Cakes

Sweet Pork and Pears with Goat Cheese on Quinoa
adapted from Clean Eating Magazine

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
1 cup quinoa
olive oil
4 4oz boneless pork loin chops
1 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper
2 ripe Bartlett pears, cored and chopped
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
goat cheese, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for around 15 minutes, or until tender.  Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Season both sides of the pork with salt, pepper, and tarragon.  Add to skillet and brown on each sided (around 2 minutes each side).  Add pears, vinegar and honey, stirring to combine.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until pork is cooked through.

Divide quinoa among serving plates and top with pork, pear mixture, and sauce.  Top with goat cheese and serve.


Grilled Fish Tacos with Cantaloupe-Pineapple Salsa

I’m officially obsessed with summer fruits.  Each week I’ve been coming home from the store with something different – cantaloupe, honeydew, mangoes, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, pineapple, watermelon, and now peaches, nectarines and plums.  I’ve been starting each morning with a HUGE bowl of whatever combination I deem worthy that week.

So when I saw these tacos on Shawnda’s blog, I knew we’d love them.  Well, I love pretty much anything Shawnda puts up, to be honest – we have very similar foodie tastes and really, I trust anyone who loves margaritas as much as she does.

And these tacos took just minutes to throw together.  I actually made the salsa a few days earlier (while I was prepping the rest of my fruit for the week), so it really came together in no time.  Was a little sweet, spicy, and perfect for a summer weeknight on the patio.

One year ago: Pesto Pasta Salad
Two years ago: From-Scratch Mexican Rice and Italian Cole Slaw

Grilled Fish Tacos with Cantaloupe-Pineapple Salsa
adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

for the salsa:
1 cup diced cantaloupe
1/2 cup diced pineapple
1/4 cup red onion
2 jalapenos, minced
small handful of cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime

for the tacos:
1 lb white fish (I used tilapia)
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ancho lime chili powder
shredded cabbage

Stir together all salsa ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (can be done in advance).

Heat grill to high.  Combine olive oil, lime juice, salt pepper, and chili powder into a paste.  Rub over fish.  Grill 3-4 minutes on each side until the fish flakes easily and the center is opaque.  Cut fish into smaller pieces.

To assemble the tacos, place the fish onto each tortilla, followed by a generous scoop of salsa and a handful of cabbage.


Quinoa Burrito Bowls

*tap tap tap*

Is this thing on?

Is anyone still here?

You are?

All 5 of you?


I know, I’ve been totally MIA here lately.  I’ve been swamped with a wedding catering job a few weeks ago and have barely had time to cook anything remotely blog worthy.  And even when I do, I’m usually starving and have no energy to try to take a picture of it.  And if I do manage to take a picture, it just sits on my camera for weeks at a time until I have time to edit pics and actually blog them.

Well, luckily that time finally came this weekend.  I’ve caught up a little on life, edited a few pics, and I might actually start haivng some regular posts again.

If you remember correctly, we’ve been trying really hard here at the PLFF house to cut back on processed foods.  We’ve cut out a ridiculous amoung of carbs from our diet and have been filling up on fruits, veggies, and whole grains.  And in that search for the healthier, I discovered quinoa.

Now some of my favorite blogs have been writing about quinoa for a while now.  Call me jaded, but I was skeptical.  It just sounded… too healthy.  I mean, I like healthy, but I’m not a rabiit food and cardboard for dinner kind of girl.

But quinoa truly is fabulous.  It’s technially a seed, not a grain.  So it’s super nutty, and has a great bite to it, like good al dente brown rice.  Now, will I ever pick quinoa over pasta?  Of course not.  But I certainly like quinoa enough to satisfy my carb craving without blowing my calories for the day.

One year ago: Pasta Primavera with Goat Cheese and Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa
Two years ago: Blackened Chicken over Garlic Lime Pasta and Mega-Berry Crisp

Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls
adapted from the Shiksa in the Kitchen

1 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken/vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
toppings such as shredded cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa, diced tomatoes, avocado, etc

Pour quinoa in a medium saucepan with chicken/vegetable stock and 1 cup of water (2 cups liquid total).  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Let simmer for 20 minutes (closer to 25 for high altitude folks).  Stir occasionally.

While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until softened.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add balck beans, half of cilantro, chili powder, cayenne, and 2 tbsp lime juice.  Reduce heat to low.  Season with salt to taste.  Stir occasionally and keep warm until quinoa is ready.

When the quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.  Stir in remaining cilantro and remaining lime juice.  To assemble bowls, divide quinoa between four bowls.  Top with black beans and your toppings of choice.  Serve warm.


Chicken and Edamame with Orange Ginger Dressing

So here at the PLFF house we’ve been making a very conscious effort to eat a lot cleaner – we’ve done away with nearly all processed foods in our house.  We still have some ways to go, but we’ve taken leaps and bounds in the past few weeks.

And you know what?

It’s not that hard.

You choose better quality ingredients.

You actually taste your food.

You embrace the whole “less is more.”

And you find that at the end of the meal, you’re still satisfied.

And full.

And after several days without consuming anything processed, you start to notice.

You notice you’re  less tired and bloated.

You notice you have more energy, even though you haven’t had caffeine in days.

Then you wake up one day and realize you’ve drank the metaphorical kool-aid.  And there’s no going back.

And I’m ok with that.

Now don’t worry, that doesn’t mean we won’t still have cupcakes and whatnot around here. But you will be seeing a lot more clean eating recipes.

One year ago: Bug-themed cake and cupcakes
Two years ago: Taco Salad

Chicken and Edamame with Orange Ginger Dressing
courtesy of Confections of a Foodie Bride

1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 orange)
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
salt to taste
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup shelled edamame
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 an avocado, diced
small handful of cilantro, minced

While brown rice in cooking, whisk together orange juice, lime juice, ginger and salt.  Add salt to taste.

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.  Add chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.  Add in edamame, bell pepper, and cooked rice.  Remove from heat.  Add dressing and stir to combine.  Spoon into bowls and top with avocado and cilantro.


Classic Minestrone Soup

Here it is, the beginning of a new year – full of resolutions of eating healthier and getting in shape. 

And I’ve started off the year with two cupcake recipes. 

Sorry about that.

Let’s start over.

This soup is everything people start looking for at the beginning of the new year – it’s healthy, quick, vegetarian, freezable, and can easily be doubled for extras.  Which is what I did, with visions of a healthier go-to lunch for the winter months when my typical salad veggies aren’t in season.  I portioned them out in individual sized portions and stuck them in the freezer to pull a few out each week for lunch.  Is working out well so far.  Below is the recipe for just a regular batch. 

And this can easily be adapted to meet the tastes of even the pickiest eaters.  Cannellini beans instead of kidney, zucchini instead of green beans, or all of the above.  It’s just a vessel for cramming as many veggies as you can into one soup.   Which, let’s be honest, after a few weeks of potlucks and cookies and extra calories, we can all use a little more veggies. 

Yes, even you.

Check out some of my other favorite soup and chili recipes!
Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup
Leek and Potato Soup
Chunky Italian Soup
Gameday Chili
Denver Green Chili
Chicken Chili

Minestrone Soup
adapted from Ellie Krieger, as seen in Food Network Magazine

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1/3 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or 1 1/2 cups frozen green beans)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
28 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
14 oz can crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
15 oz can low sodium kidney beans
1 cup elbow or ditalini pasta
parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook until starting to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in green beans, dried herbs, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (adjust to taste), and cook an additional 3 minutes. 

Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in kidney beans and pasta and cook until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.


Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

“What are we having for dinner tonight?”

“Stuffed acorn squash.”

“What’s an acorn squash?”

*walks over the counter, picks up acron squash and holds it up for husband*

“oh.  It kind of looks like a green pumpkin.”

“Or an acorn.”

“oh yeah ….. that too.”

Clearly this was our first acorn squash experience.  And despite clear skepticism, Scott was a fan.  In fact, it got a ranger large thumbs up from both of us.  It was slightly time consuming, due to the hour-long roast of the squash in the oven, but it was so simple to throw together.  Perfect for a lazy Sunday.  And since they practically give away acorn squash this time of year ($.77/lb?!  done!), this will surely grace our menu plan a few times before the season is up.

and don’t forget to enter the massive chocoalte giveaway!!!

One year ago: re-post of Gooey Butter Cookies
Two years ago: Christmas cookies

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
adapted from Prevention RD, originally from Food.com

2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1/2 tsp ground sage, divided
3/4 lb bulk Italian sausage (or links, casings removed)
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped (I used Golden Delicious)
1 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine melted butter, garlic, and 1/4 tsp sage.  Brush insides of each squash with the butte rmix.  Place squash on a baking pan, cut side up, and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until fork tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage.  Once browned, remove from plate to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.  Add onions and celery to the pan, cook until starting to soften, 3 minutes.  Add the apples and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Return the sausage to the pan and remove from heat.  Season with 1/4 tsp sage, salt and pepper.  Stir in panko and parmesan cheese.  Add the egg and stir to combine.

Divide the stuffing evenly among the four squash halves.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes.  Yields 4 servings.

Pasta e Fagioli with Sausage

Have you ever gotten haflway through eating dinner and realized you forgot an ingredient in dinner?


I’m the only one who does that?

Well shoot.  Let me start over then….

So for the time, like, EVER, I forgot an ingredient when I was cooking.  And I didn’t even realize it until we were halfway through eating dinner, while we were gushing about how wonderful this soup was.

I looked down into my bowl.

I looked over at the pantry.

I ran over to the kitchen to look at the recipe, just to be sure.

Yep, sure enough.

What’s Pasta e Fagioli without canellini beans?  Clearly, it’s what we were having for dinner. Oops.  Apparently I should have added the beans in when I added the broth and pasta.  Oops.

So anyway.  This soup was absolutely delicious.  Even without the beans.  Probably would have been even better with the beans.

At least it’s one less ingredient I’ll have to buy the next time I make this soup, which, I assure you, will be very soon.

One year ago: Black Bean Salsa and Crack Muffins (Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffins)

Pasta e Fagioli with sausage
Adapted from Everyday with Rachae Ray, February 2009

1 lb bulk hot Italian sausage (or links with casings removed)
2 large carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed and chopped
4 sprigs thyme
salt and pepper
8 cups chicken broth or stock
15 oz can canellini beans (white kidney beans)
1 cup ditalini pasta (or other very small pasta)
grated parmesan cheese
crusty bread, for serving (we always get sourdough)

Heat large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add sausage and stir, breaking into small pieces as it browns.  Cook until browned, 3-4 minutes.  Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic to pan.  Add small bit of olive oil if there are not enough drippings from sausage.  Add bay leaf, rosemary, and sprigs of thyme.  Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add in chicken broth, 2 cups of water, and canellini beans.  Cover the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir in pasta.  Lower heat to a simmer, and cook until pasta is al dente.  Discard bay leaf and stems from thyme.

Serve with crusty bread and top with shredded cheese.


(and don’t forget the beans!)

Almond Crusted Salmon

This seafood thing is pretty new to the PLFF household.  As I’ve mentioned before, Scott isn’t a huge seafood fan.  I’ve gotten him to the point where he’ll eat fish.  Shellfish is another story.  So when a friend of ours asked if we wanted some of the CO river salmon he caught, I was thrilled that Scott told him yes.  And we’ve been savoring every bite of the like 5 pounds that he gave us.  Delish!  So when a seafood theme came around on a recipe swap I’ve seen lots of bloggers doing, I jumped at the change to do something outside the box for us.  Since I don’t get to make seafood often, I don’t have a huge range of seafood recipes.  And when I received this Baked Dijon Salmon as my recipe to make, I feared it just might be too far outside out little box.

We aren’t pecan fans.  We aren’t mustard fans.  I forgot to buy parsley, but had a huge cup of thai basil that some friends had given us from their garden.  But the test of a good cook is to be inspired by recipes and adapt to suit your tastes.  So I did just that.  And the end result was ok.  Not bad, but not great either.  The crust wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked, but I think that was because the glaze was a little too thick.  If I make this again, I’ll cut the glaze in half  so the topping stays crispier.  The recipe below reflects both the changes I made, and changes I would anticipate for next time.  Be sure to check out A Taste of Home Cooking tomorrow for the round-up of all the seafood recipes, and see who made one of my recipes!

Almond Crusted Salmon
inspired by What’s Cookin, Chicago?

2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup almonds
1 tbsp chopped thai basil (or regular basil, or parsley)
4 salmon filets
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a small bow, stir together butter, mustard, and honey.  In a small food processor, pulse almonds until chopped finely (or chop fine by hand)

In another small bowl, mix together panko breadcrumbs, chopped almonds, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

Season salmon with salt and pepper.  Brush each salmon filet lightly with honey mustard mixture.  Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.

Bake for 12-15 minute, or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.


Summer Veggie Pasta

I’m one of those super indecisive people.  When I was wedding dress shopping, I kept finding myself saying things like “well, I like the top of this dress, but I like the skirt of the other dress better.”   Over and over again.   I just did the same things when shopping for bedroom furniture last week – “well, I like the headboard of this bed, but I don’t like the footboard.  I like that footboard better.”  Like I can just magically Frankenstein things together.

Sure enough, I bookmarked two different recipes featuring some of the same summer-y ingredients.  One had bacon, corn, and zucchini.  The other had zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and white wine.  I kept looking back and forth between the recipes, so undecided on which to put on the menu.  And while I couldn’t Frankenstein two wedding dresses together, I could Frankenstein these two recipes – I don’t have to pick Option A or B, I get Option C – all of the above.

And it worked beautifully!  The sweet corn and tomatoes, the crispy bacon, the tender zucchini, the garlicky pesto.  I was worried that there would be too much going on – but it wasn’t.  EVerything worked together in awesome harmony. It was still so light and flavorful.  It was like everything you love about summer on one plate.

One year ago: Cranberry-Almond Granola Bars

Summer Veggie Pasta
adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking (originally from Cooks Country) and Milk and Honey (originally from Gourmet)

12oz short cut pasta
1/2 lb thick sliced bacon, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, diced
3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cob
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper
1/2 cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
shredded parmesan cheese (optional, I forgot it and it still tasted great!)

Bring large pot of water to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.  Remove all but 2 tbsp of bacon drippings from the pan.

Add onion to bacon drippings and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until softened, another 2 minutes.  Add zucchini and corn, cook 3-5 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.  Add wine and cook until reduced by half.  Season veggies with salt and pepper.

Add tomatoes, drained pasta, and pesto to the veggies and stir until thoroughly combined.  Top with crumbled bacon and shredded parm if desired.