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.



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.


Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars

I’ve been looking for a reason to make these bars for a while now.  They are really just too simple not to have in your dessert arsenal.  There are only a handful of really inexpensive ingredients.  It’s perfect for a last minute dessert to take to a friend’s house.  And whoa, was it a crowd pleaser.  There were only 2 pieces left at the end of the night, which was perfect for me.  We polished them off for breakfast the next morning.

What, you don’t eat cheesecake for breakfast?!

Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars
courtesy of Epicurious

2 (8oz) crescent rolls
2 (8oz) cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar, divided
2 tsp vanilla, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  Coat 9×13 baking dish in cooking spray.

Spread one roll of crescent rolls on the bottom of the baking dish.  Seal holes together to form a crust.

Blend together cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Spread over dough, careful not to spread to edges.

Stretch second roll of crescent rolls over top of cream cheese filling.  Seal together with edges of bottom crust.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add sugar.  Remove from heat, and add vanilla.  Pour evenly over top crust, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool, then refrigerate before cutting into squares.


Jalapeno Salsa for canning

My tomatoes were absolutely insane this year.  And here we are, a hop, skip, and a jump from October and I’m still pulling tomatoes off my plants by the handful.  I’ve never once complained, because there is very little more wonderful than fresh tomatoes from the back yard in the summertime.  But when you’ve literally got over a hundred tomatoes sitting on the counter, there’s only so many tomato sandwiches or cucumber tomato salads you can make.  Enter canning.  I canned a few pints of this salsa and a few pints of regular old tomato sauce to use later in the winter when I’m  left daydreaming about spring.  Nothing like some garden fresh salsa for when it’s chilly and snowing outside! And while canning isn’t necessarily a quick process, it’s a relatively simple one if you have the right equipment.  And one trip to Target can yield all that you need.

If you’re a canning beginner, I highly recommend getting the Ball Blue Book – guide to preserving.  It will give you all of the step-by-steps  for prepping your jars and lids, peeling your tomatoes or fruit, processing, etc.  I could walk you through all of that, but let’s be honest, no one wants a 4 pages blog post about canning.  So I’ll share the recipe itself.  If you have any questions about the canning process, don’t hesitate to ask!

One year ago: Grilled Peaches

Jalapeno Salsa
courtesy of the Ball Blue Book
yields 2-3 pints

3 cups peeled, seeded, cored, and chopped tomatoes
3 cups chopped jalapenos, keeping seeds and ribs.   (I know it seems like a lot, but trust!)
1 cup chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until at least half of liquid has boiled out.  Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Adjust 2-piece caps.  Process for 15 minutes (Denver folks, add 10 minutes.  Above 6,0000 ft, add 15)in a boiling water canner.

Let cool completely before storing.


Spice Rubbed Chicken and Spaghetti with Salsa Verde Cream Sauce

In the never-ending battle of good and evil, there’s always the constant dilemma – what to do with a pound of chicken breast?  No matter how long I blog and no matter how many blogs I follow, it seems like we can never get enough chicken recipes.  I think chicken breasts are one of the most common things in the average american’s fridge or freezer. And we’re always looking for another new and interesting recipe.    Well this recipe will certainly take its place amongst the ranks of go-to chicken recipes in the PLFF household.  It’s flavorful, creamy and definitely unique in our chicken repertoire.  Oh, and easy.  That always makes for a winner in this house.

Spice Rubbed Chicken and Spaghetti with Salsa Verde Cream Sauce
Courtesy of Cassie Craves, as seen on A Taste of Home Cooking

8oz spaghetti
1 lb chicken breasts
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup salsa verde
14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Combine spices in a small bowl and toss to combine.  Sprinkle over both sides of chicken breasts and rub.  Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 4-5 minutes each side.  Remove from pan and cover with foil until ready to serve.

In the now empty skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, cooking until tender, around 5 minutes.  Add salsa, sour cream, and cilantro, stirring to combine.  Heat through.  Add drained pasta and stir to combine.  Spoon pasta onto serving plates and top with chicken.


Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa


When I first met my friend Christine, I couldn’t imagine her life.  Really, she has it really, really rough.  I could never imagine life in her shoes.  I wouldn’t trade places with her if you paid me a million dollars.  No, it wasn’t a bad childhood or a traumatic past.  The girl is allergic to tomatoes.  THE HORROR!

Really, I can’t imagine my life without tomatoes.  Especially this time of year, I feel like I consume a salted tomato on practically a daily basis.  And any time I throw a BBQ, tomatoes are often plentiful.  Like in the grilled corn salad.  And the black bean salsa.  They are everywhere.  But after being friends with Christine for nearly 6 years, I’ve learned to scale back, remind myself to have a few non-tomato options for poor Christine.  Or keep a little bowl separate before I toss the tomatoes in.  And after being at countless parties at my house, she’s never been able to eat the black bean salsa.  Tragedy, really.

So when I came across this salsa recipe (I kid you not), my first thought was “Hey, Christine could eat this salsa!!”  So when they RSVPed that they would be at our most recent BBQ, I knew I had to make it.  And whoa, was it everything I wanted it to be and more.  Smoky deliciousness on a chip.  And Christine approved 🙂

One year ago: Mega Bery Crisp

Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos
courtesy of Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless, as seen on Elly Says Opa!
(I doubled the recipe to have lots of the party, this is the single recipe)

2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and cut in half
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 small chipotles in adobo (resulted in pretty spicy salsa, adjust if you need to)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Lay the tomatillos (cut side down) and garlic in the pan.  Roast for 4-6 minutes or until the bottoms are well browned.  Flip, and brown the other side, an additional 4-6 minutes.  Be careful not to burn garlic.  Tomatillos should be completely soft. 

Scoop garlic and tomatillos into a food processor and add the chipotles.  Add water and salt, and puree until it comes together in a coarse puree.  Thin with more water if necessary.  Cool and serve. 


Salsa Verde Chicken and Dumplings


I never get tired of finding something new to do with chicken and ground beef.  Those two things are always in my freezer and I’m always on the hunt for something different to make with them.  Same with a rotisserie chicken.  Yes, I know it’s easy to roast your own chicken, but let be honest.  It’s so much easier to grab one from the grocery store.  Sometimes I’m in the mood to do everything from scratch and sometimes I’m not.  This is a perfectly acceptable way to cheat, in my humble opinion.  But do yourself a favor and stick the chicken carcass in the freezer for a rainy day and make homemade stock for later.  You know, for when you don’t feel like cheating. 🙂

Oh, and did I mention this is a one-pot meal?  Like we all can’t get enough of those! When I first eyed this on Pink Parsley, I knew we had to try it.  Nothing like a little twist on classic comfort food.  And if this recipe is any indication of the other recipes in this cookbook, I may have to place an order on Amazon…

Salsa Verde Chicken and Dumplings
Adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Perfect One-Dish Dinners

14 oz chicken broth or stock
2 cups (16 oz) salsa verde
15 oz evaporated milk (I used 2%)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen)
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, deboned and shredded
1/4 cup cilantro
2 green onions, minced
salt and pepper

for the dumplings:
1 cup milk (I used skim)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4-5 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix broth, salsa, and evaporated milk in a medium bold until combined.  Set aside.

Heat butter over medium heat in a large ovenproof skillet.  Add onions and cook until soft, 5-8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in flour until combined, cook 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in salsa mixture, stir until incorporated and sauce begins to thicken.  Stir in corn, chicken and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

To make dumplings, heat milk and butter in a glass measuring cup in microwave for approximately 3 minutes or until steaming.  Mix flour, baking powder, salt, green onions, and cilantro in a medium bowl.  Whisk in milk mixture to form a smooth, firm dough.

Using a medium cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop dough from the bowl and drop into chicken mixture.  Return the skillet to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Cover and transfer pan to the oven.  Bake until dumplings are cooked through, 15-20 minutes. 


Denver green chili


Tis the season for BRRRRRRRR!  I don’t know about where the rest of you are, but this week has been a chilly one, perfect for cuddling on the couch and staying in your pjs.  Makes it very difficult to get up and go to work.  Perfect weather for putting on a big pot of something to simmer all day long.

When we moved to Colorado over 5 years ago, we were introduced to the world of green chili.  Now, of course we knew that green chili existed when we lived in the midwest, but we sure didn’t know a) how seriously people take their green chili out west and b) just how many different things you can smother in green chili.  Because trust me, out here, they put it on EVERYTHING!  Not that I hate it, of course. 

Now a good green chili recipe is very hard to come by.  Not because there aren’t good recipe out there, but because no one wants to give them up!  You ask for a recipe and they kind of give you a side eye and say “it’s my grandmother’s secret recipe, I don’t give it out.”  Apparently everyone uses their grandmother’s recipe and everyone’s grandmothers got together and decided not to tell anyone their recipe.  One of Scott’s coworkers reluctantly gave up his recipe, but with so few details that I still felt like I was fending for myself.  Although that could partly be Scott’s lack of detailed note taking 🙂

Regardless, it was delicious. Everything I wanted it to be.  And served with some warmed tortillas, it was a big bowl of Western comfort food.

One year ago: Pork Chops Cacciatore

Green chili
original source unknown (probably someone’s grandma)

2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 lb boneless pork loin, cubed in small pieces
1 large onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
1-1.5 lbs green chiles, diced (I used medium Anaheim green chiles)
2lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp cumin
12 cups chicken stock

In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add pork, onions, and garlic and brown until onions start to soften.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes and chiles, season with cumin.  Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.  Add potatoes and cook another 30 minutes, or until tender. 

Enjoy!  And stay warm!

When life hands you jalapenos…


Ok, along with the zucchini that’s coming out of my ears, I have two jalapeno plants that have gone crazy!  One afternoon, I picked SIXTEEN jalapenos off my two little plants!  When life hands you that many jalapenos, there is only one thing you can do – make jalapeno poppers!

Now there’s a gazillion different recipes out there for poppers, and mine isn’t too much different.  I kind made it up as I went along – a little of this, a little of that.  Hardly an original concept, but I didn’t really use a recipe either.  Feel free to doctor it up as you see fit!

Baked Jalapeno Poppers
A PLFF original recipe

12-16 medium jalapenos
4 oz cream cheese (I used reduced fat), softened
about 2/3-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp dried chives
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut off stem of jalapeno.  Cut small slice off the length of the jalapeno, exposing the ribs and seeds.  Remove ribs and seeds.  Chop all of the jalapeno slices.

Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, chopped jalapeno, and chives.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Spoon cream cheese mixture into jalapenos, or use a piping bag to pipe mixture in.  Top with additional cheddar cheese.  

Bake for 12 minutes, or until jalapenos start to roast and cheese is melted.


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Week of camp recipes – Day 4!


The week of camp-friendly recipes continues!

Ok, if the breakfast burritos and frittata recipes seemed simple, then you’ll definitely be able to master these tacos.  Same basic principles, same back prep!

And, if you’ll notice, I divided up my ingredients over all my recipes – I bought one onion, used 1/4 of it in the burritos, 1/4 in the frittata, and the other half for the tacos.  Same for the bell peppers – 1/2 red in the burritos, 1/2 green in the tacos, both other halves of both peppers in the frittata.  See?  Multi-tasking!

Camp Tacos
A PLFF original recipe
(serves 2-3)

1/2 lb ground beef (I used 90% lean)
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
4 flour tortillas
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, chopped

Equipment needed:
– 12 inch cast iron skillet
– camp stove or grill (optional if you can get fire coals good and hot)

Chop onion and bell pepper, place in small zipper bag.  Combine corn and black beans in a second small zipper bag.  Place ground beef in third small zipper bag.  Place chopped tomato in additional zipper bag.  Place all small zipper bags in large zipper bag and label.


Day of:
Heat skillet until very hot.  Brown ground beef.  Add onions and bell pepper, cook until soft.  Add corn and black beans, stir to combine.  Add taco seasoning and water, stir to combine.  Let cook until sauce has reduced.  Remove from heat.  Warm tortillas.  Serve with shredded lettuce, cheese, chopped tomato and salsa.