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.



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.


Gnocchi with Spinach and Butternut Squash

Most of the time when I make a vegetarian dinner, my husband responds with “It’s good, but it would be better with bacon.”

This meal was no exception.

Only this time, he was right.

(shhhh, don’t tell!)

We swapped the kale out for some spinach, added a few slices of bacon, and whoa.  Still relatively healthy, super satisfying, and easy to throw together on a weeknight.  Need I say more?

No?  ok then.

One year ago: Sausage and Pesto Pizza and Three Cheese Hot Artichoke Dip
Two years ago: Thyme Potatoes au Gratin and Chocolate Eclair cake

gnocchi with Spinach and Butternut Squash
adapted from Food Network Magazine

3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh chopped sage (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
3 big handfuls of baby spinach
16 oz package potato gnocchi
3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until browned.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.  Remove all but 2 tbsp of bacon fat from pan.

Add the squash and cook, stilling frequently, until softened and starting to brown, around 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook an additional 2 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Add chicken stock to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Add spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes.  Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat.

Cover pan and cook until gnocchi is just tender, about 5 minutes.  Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup of cheese.

If desired, transfer to casserole dish.  Top with remaining cheese and transfer to the broiler.  Cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.


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.


Mexican-Style Skillet Pasta

I haven’t really advertised this to Scott, but we’ve been trying to eat more vegetarian meals around the PLFF household these days.  Too much ice cream, this girl has got to start watching her waistline!  He’s a very “must have meat in every meal!” kinda guy, so I’ve been on the search for recipes where you really don’t notice that the meat is missing.  And when I saw this recipe, I knew I could fool Scott into eating a meat-less meal.  Oh, and did I mention this was a one-pot, super quick meal I could easily make during the week with stuff I pretty much always have on hand?!  1+1+1+1+1+1 =  a meal that will most certainly be making a regular appearance on our meal plan.  It was spicy, hearty and filling.  And fairly figure friendly.  Win-win 🙂

One year ago: Crock pot roasted pork loin

Mexican-Style Skillet Pasta
adapted from Milk and Honey, originally from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

8 oz vermicelli pasta (I used whole wheat)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (can also sub chorizo or chicken)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1-2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
salt and pepper
shredded sharp cheddar cheese (for serving)
1/4 cup minced cilantro (for serving)

Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium high in a large skillet.  Add pasta and toast until golden, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to cool.

Add remaining tbsp of oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes (with juice), black beans, broth, and chipotle peppers.  Bring mixture to a bubble, season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the toasted pasta.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed and pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Top with cheese and cilantro and serve.


Grilled Skirt Steak Gyros

Back for more camping recipes!  This was one of my favorite recipes of the weekend.  Tasted so fresh and homemade, but with so little effort!  Combined with some grilled corn on the cob and this camp dinner hit the spot on a hot, hot, hot day in the mountains.It’s a little different than your typical gyro, but this version was a tad easier.  I also pruned down the recipe a little to make it more camp friendly.  But whatever you do, don’t omit the dressing.  It was positively delicious!  Reminded me a lot of the Greek dressing on the Med Salad at Noodles and Co.  Never had the Med Salad?  Try it the next time you go, it’s amazing!One year ago: even more camp recipes, like:
easy camp tacos
veggie kebabs
grilled peaches

Grilled Skirt Steak Gyros
adapted from Food Network Magazine

1/3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thick rings
1/2 large onion, sliced into thick rounds
1lb skirt steak
4 pitas or flatbreads
1 tomato, chopped (I forgot to bring the tomato)
1 bunch watercress, chopped (I omitted)

Preheat grill to medium high (if camping, get very hot coals under grill grate).

Whisk together olive oil, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.  Add 1 tbsp of marinade to yogurt in a small bowl, and add 2 tbsp of water.  (if using this for camping, prep this ahead of time and store in resealable plastic storage

Toss onion and bell pepper in marinade, set aside. Add steak to the marinade and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Grill the bell pepper, onion and steak, turning once, until lightly charred, about 4 minutes on each side (may vary depending on thickness).

Set steak aside to rest, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, grill pitas until marked, about 1 minute each side.

Slice the steak against the grain.  Fill pitas with steak and veggies, top with tomato and watercress.  Drizzle with yogurt sauce.



Pierogies while camping?!


More camp recipes!!! Last summer I spent an entire week featuring recipes that
are great for camping. I’m going to add more to that list this year.  And 
to be honest – anything you can make on the grill at home, you can make when 
camping! So check out my For the Grill section for even more ideas for your
next camping trip!

Right before our last camping trip over 4th of July weekend, my Food Network magazine arrived, featuring an ENTIRE section of dinners that could be made completely on the grill. Hello, perfect timing!  We tried two different recipes and both worked out fantastic on our over-the-campfire grill grate.  I mean really, whoever thought to make pierogies while camping? I wouldn’t have, but you can sure bet that we’ll be doing it again in the future!


One year ago: more camp recipes, like:
Breakfast burritos
veggie frittatas
chili with cornbread topping

Grilled Pierogies and Kielbasa
courtesy of Food Network Magazine

1 lb kielbasa
2 tbsp whole grain mustard ( I omitted, we’re not huge mustard fans)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 large onion, sliced into thick rounds
1 lb frozen potato and onion pierogies (do not thaw)
salt and pepper

Preheat grill to medium (if camping, get good coals going until fire grate).  Grill keilbasa, turning, until marked and heated through, about 8-10 minutes.  
Meanwhile, whisk together mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in 2 tbsp olive oil. (if camping, prep this in advance, store in plastic storage container until needed.)

Toss onions and pierogies in remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and
pepper.  Grill, covered (if camping, use an aluminum foil tent), until the pierogies thaw and onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Turn the pierogies and onion and continue to grill until piergoies are cooked through and onions are tender, another 5 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board.

Slice kielbasa in pieces and toss in mustard dressing.  Roughly chop onion and toss onion and pierogies in dressing.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.  


Pasta Primavera with Goat Cheese


I used to be one of those people.  You know… those people.  I used to decide I didn’t like things before I even tried them, especially if they sounded, you know… weird.  Things like venison, asparagus, guacamole, and goat cheese.  Come on, goat cheese sounds… weird.  It’s like… from a goat.  But oh, then there came a beautiful day.  I don’t remember what I was trying or why I decided to try it, but I discovered that not only do I like goat cheese (and venison, asparagus, and guacamole for that matter), but that I LOVE goat cheese.  It’s salty, tangy, and downright delicious. 

Are you one of those people?  You are, aren’t you.  You don’t think you don’t like goat cheese.  You’re wrong.  I know it.  And to show you how wrong you are, I’m going to give you a recipe with goat cheese that you can’t refuse.  It’s creamy (without any heavy cream), full of veggie goodness, and full of wonderful goat cheese.  If you’re even slightly scared of goat cheese, this recipe will break that habit.  Promise!

One year ago: Basic Bruschetta

Pasta Primavera
adapted from Food Network Magazine

8 oz penne pasta or any short-cut pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 lb sugar snap peas, cut in half or thirds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
4 oz goat cheese (I used a garlic and herb blend)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water before draining.  Drain pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add carrots, garlic, bell pepper, and snap peas.  Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies start to get tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook an additional 2 minutes, or until tomatoes start to wilt.  Stir in drained pasta, reserved cooking water, basil and goat cheese.  Stir to combine, continue to stir until goat cheese has melted and coasted pasta and veggies.