armadillas


Air mail

Ahhhhh! Look what came in the mail today all the way from the U.K.

 

 

 

Yup, that’s right! It’s a pasty maker! Guess I should go buy some pastry and give it a go (you know, since we all know how making the stuff myself goes). I’m so excited.

Thanks Stepfordtart! Cheers to online communities/international friendship!


To the birds

(Allison stuck the cake topper onto his chest)

My best friend left us for Seattle. Left us for good. So he can go study Comparative Literature in a cozy grad program. We’re all excited for him, and perhaps just a tad bit jealous. Needles to say, we had to throw a little get together since Seattle is on the other side of the country. No more driving down the street to see each other!

Originally, the get together was supposed to be some sort of potluck, cookout thing. But it rained. And for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try out a gnocchi recipe I had. Bad idea. The gnocchi didn’t exactly turn out, and it’s not really cookout food either, is it? But that’s okay. I managed to do something resourceful. See, the best friend decided to make quinoa salad.

I don’t know about you guys, but in my very good opinion the quinoa he brought into my home looked like a bag of birdseed. I was not excited, not at all. But I watched him cook it up. He roasted a red pepper to chop up into it and opened a can of beans. It now looked like fluffed up birdseed mixed with veggies. Poor guy! He didn’t make a sauce/dressing to go with it and that quinoa was one of the plainest things I’ve ever tasted. It wasn’t bad per say, but as bland as a econ book.

When I discovered the stuff sitting in my fridge the next day untouched, I decided something had to be done. It already had red peppers and limes, why not continue a southwest theme? Only problem was a lot of recipes I found called for lime and I had just used the last of my limes not too long ago. Same goes for my lemons. But I had some Greek yogurt. And some BBQ sauce.

I also had a couple tomatoes from the garden. I’m not that much of a gardener, but I encourage everyone to buy a tomato plant. Right now. Do it! So delicious and I’ve never been one to just bite into a tomato

A little more BBQ sauce and we were in business.  The quinoa was now reminiscent of a chopped BBQ salad I’d had at a couple restaurants. Not too shabby for something meant for birds…

I also made up some of these muffins because I had no idea they existed. Reese’s are my favorite candy, especially the holiday ones. Oh. baby!

Here’s to lasting friendships!


Ahhhhhhh would be the appropriate response

There are many occasions in life that require a little comfort food. I mean, come on! Is there anything that comfort food can’t cheer away for a bit? I think not! It’s good for a rainy day, a sucky day, a remembering day- you get the picture. Comfort food is also AMAZING at calming nerves. It’s like going out for ice cream because you scraped your knee only ten times better.

Today I’m in need of something comforting in my belly because right now my belly is full of nerves. I’m so stressed and distraught, I keep pacing the house like a lunatic. In a minute I’ll be cleaning. That’s the kind of serious I’m feeling right about now. See, I’m quitting my job. Yup, saying good-bye to income. It’s only a little restaurant job that helped me get through college, but I’ve been there so long I feel like my soul is slowly being sucked out. In other words, I’m miserable. I’m beyond miserable. I’m so unhappy there, just thinking about going back in makes my stomach churn. Not exactly a good sign. When life puts you in a situation like this, the only thing to do is follow your gut and remove yourself from that situation. Your gut knows more than you would think.

So I’m taking the bulls by the horn, taking some risks, and am leaving. What’s my next move? TEACHING! I have a degree in Spanish Language and Literature. There is absolutely no reason for me to hold on to a job that is unappreciative. Life isn’t about holding on to safe fall-backs. It’s about challenging yourself, seeing what you can accomplish, and throwing safe out the window! It’s about living, and right now that is not what I’m doing. Today I submitted my application to two school districts. Tomorrow I might do a third as well. No more being afraid to take a chance and see what happens. Plus, I really do love Spanish (and really enjoy grammar)! Why not put my degree to use and share my knowledge. It makes total sense. Who would’ve thought…

Which brings us back to comfort food. What I’m doing right now is seriously risky for me. Between paying back my student loans and other life occurrences that pop up, I can’t afford to go without a job. But I’d rather bet all my ducks and be happy, then feel the way I have been feeling over the past month. It’s not worth it. Besides, I feel pretty confident about my applications. Stay positive! And that’s why I’m making rice and beans for dinner. I love rice. No matter what style, it’s at the top of my list of foods I wouldn’t want to live without. The first time I had rice and beans, I thought I was in heaven, which is rather appropriate since I was at a potluck at my dad’s church. There was definitely some divine intervention at play.

I’ve never made rice and beans before. And today I cheated by buying store bought sofrito (which inspired me to make rice and beans as my comfort food in the first place). I didn’t use beans either, but substituted frozen peas. Next time, I would also like to cook the rice with chicken broth/stock instead of water. I think it will give it a richer flavor. You know what? The dish I came ended up with probably should even be called rice and beans? But it wasn’t too bad. Room for improvement, but a keeper nonetheless. I really can’t wait to make it better though. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE rice and beans…

Ingredients:

1 cup rice
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sofrito
1 package sazon
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas

Spoon the sofrito into a sauce pan. I kept mine on medium heat. If a certain someone broke your measuring spoon the other day, just eyeball it with a regular spoon

Add the tomato sauce

And the sazon (perhaps some chicken bouillon would be good here too if you don’t have any broth on hand)

As the sauce begins to bubble, hurry up and toss in your peas. Give everything a good stir

Finally, mix in your rice and water (or chicken broth if you choose to follow my sound advice)

Wow, so easy! Bring your rice mixture to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID! There’s no need to stir. Just let everything cook together. Have some faith. When your boyfriend walks in and lift the lid quicker then you can shout STOP, hit him out of the kitchen with a wooden spoon. Amateurs…always needing to stir and shake things that don’t need shaking or stirring. Hmph!

After 20 minutes, your arroz con gandules will be nice and fluffy. Some of it might stick to the bottom a little bit. That’s okay. Give it a big turn with your wooden spoon and serve

I cooked up some chicken marinaded in mojo, too. And some corn on the cob. Mmmm. Have I told you the secret of boiled corn on the cob yet? Adding sugar to your water. Like my mama taught me, ha!


My crush on Ben Ebbrel

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

Everyone loves some fish and chips——

That’s a little tune I just made up. You see, we’ve been watching a bit of Jenna Marbles around here and if you’re familiar at all with Jenna Marbles, then you know that sometimes she sings. Then it gets stuck in your head. Then you sing. It’s an ongoing circle of singing. Actually, I do a lot of singing. Singing, whether you’re good at it or not (and I’m not), is a very good way of passing time. I sing when I’m at work prepping all those meats and veggies. I sing when I’m trying to stuff clothes into my washer. I sing when I’m walking from one block to another. I find singing to be very motivational, even when it’s a simple little tune about stepping in wet grass on your way to the car because it just rained an hour ago. Most of my songs are what I call chore songs. They just help me out with whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish. I’m not even sure if I would call it singing as more of a talking aloud to yourself, drawling out all your vowels. Would that be called drawling? As someone who studied language, you’d think I should know the answer to that. Whatevs.

Of course, I like to sing when I cook as well. Which is how the fish song came into being. I think it’s pretty clear that I’ll be serving fish for lunch. Fried fish, pub style. I don’t have any potatoes so the chips part isn’t necessarily relevant, but I’ll keep it in the song anyway.

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

Everyone loves some fish and chips

Battered in beer

Battered in ale

Then fried fried fried

To give us crisp fish and cheer

What can I say? I should have become a composer- just kidding! I think my talents are better suited in the kitchen. Anyway, back to the fish. This whole thing was inspired by some tilapia. The only way I myself have ever cooked fish is to make fish tacos. It was time to expand my horizons. I thought about maybe broiling my tilapia seeing that the broiler and I are falling in love. I was all set to do so, too. I had my spices picked out (a Southwest blend provided by Mrs. Dash) and I was ready to turn up the heat in my kitchen when I decided to see what my boys at Sorted were up to. That’s how I stumbled across a video for fish and chips. Hmm fish and chips. What a brilliant idea. Why not give that a go? I wasn’t sure how tilapia would fare all battered up (most of the recipes I found used halibut or haddock), but I was willing to experiment for the sake of lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dark ale or beer (creates a more complex flavor)
  • Splash of red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 tilapia fillets, cut into fingers (total of 8)
  • Canola oil for frying

Because I don’t have a deep fryer, something I would desperately love to invest in, I had to use my cast iron skillet to fry up my fish. Coat the pan with the canola oil enough to cover at least half way up the fish. Turn heat to medium and let oil warm up while you make the batter. When I was ready to fry the fish, I turned the heat down to medium-low. A good way to test the oil is to slip some batter into it and see if it sizzles

For the batter, mix flour, salt, and pepper into a medium to large bowl

Add  the beer and vinegar

Whisk whisk whisk until the batter is nice and smooth. We don’t want any lumps! The consistency will be rather gooey, similar to pancake batter

After halving your fish fillets and whipping up the beer batter, the oil should be the right temperature. Dip your fish into the batter. Don’t you just love playing with your food?

 Carefully lay the dipped fish down into the oil. The last thing we want to do is splatter ourselves with molten lava- I mean hot oil!

After 5 minutes or so (golden brown), flip your fish using a fork. Or whatever instrument you can manage

I know it doesn’t look all that golden. You don’t have to tell me. Fry for another 5 minutes or so and then transfer to some paper towels for draining. Keep frying the rest of your strips in batches. Aluminum foil is a good way to keep the cooked fish warm

Since I had no chips on hand, I served my fish up with some quesadillas…

…which unsurprisingly led to this:

Crispy fish quesadillas! But the fish was good in or out of the cheese filled tortilla. I was pleasantly impressed by my first attempt at beer battered fish. The boys weren’t complaining either. The only downfall is the whole house smells like oil now and I’ve gotten a couple complaints about burning eyes. Poor fellas.

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

Everyone loves some fish and chips

Mixed with flour

Battered in beer

With cheese and tortillas

All made into quesadillas


Leap Year

There are moments in life when a girl just needs to watch a chick flick. It’s the truth, I tell you! Such movies may be cheesy and sappy and might fill our heads with unrealistic romantic notions and all that nonsense. But on a rough day when the world seems against you and nothing is going the way you had planned or hoped and you’re just filled with lots of confusion, a little chick flick can brighten the day a bit. There’s nothing like a chick flick to lighten your heart. My flick of choice today is Leap Year. Not one of my top ten movies for sure, but who can resist a rugged Matthew Goode playing an Irishman? Between the accent and the beard and those wonderful hazel eyes (though I think they’re really blue), my worries melted away in Ireland. Plus, I have a soft spot for lanky men. Oh, and his character is a chef. I think all my everything on my list has been met. Yup!

Ah, nothing like a man that knows his way around the kitchen. I’ll try not to swoon over his chicken stew. Anyway…enough about all that. Another thing that can brighten up one’s day is some mint. Especially when that mint is pureed with some lime and some mayo in a food processor and drizzled over succulent fish tacos. Mmm

I remember the first time I discovered fish tacos. It was the summer after freshman year of college and my best friend and I decided to go visit his mom in good ol’ cali. Santa Barbara to be exact. I can’t remember what we did that day, but his mom and her roommate decided that we were going to cook up some fish tacos. What…? I didn’t think I had heard correctly. Did they say they were going to put FISH in my taco? Now, at this point in my life I was not the adventurous eater that I am today. Fish certainly was not a menu option for me. Ever. Gross. They were trying to kill me. It just had to be a conspiracy. But I did not want to be rude and reject the graciousness of my hostess. So I figured I would take a bite, push the thing around my plate a bit and claim to be too full to eat anymore. To my great disappointment, I ended up eating two tacos. Turns out I liked fish after all. The fish tacos were absolutely fabulous! I was converted as soon as that first bite hit my tongue.

Fast forward a couple years and I discover Aarti Paarti and her FISH TACOS. I’m telling you, in this recipe it’s not even the fish I care about. The mint mayo absolutely makes this dish in my opinion. Something about the mint mixed with the lime just pacts the perfect punch of flavor for my taste buds. I’m drooling now as I type. Here’s her video if you care to watch:

Yum yum yum and yum. There aren’t enough yums in the world to go around! I love Aarti. She’s so adorable. I want her hair. My curls are never so tame! Okay, let’s get cooking!

Back in college, we used to have family dinner nights. I miss those nights. As you can see, sometimes the menu changed

Recipe courtesy Aarti Sequeira

Ingredients:

Fish

  • 4 white fish fillets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 lime
  • 8 mint sprigs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Of course, we need tortillas too. As far as toppings go, I like nice crispy cabbage. I may or may not have added some pickles. I love pickles. I blame Aimee

(Borrowed your pic. Hope you don’t mind!)

But you can use whatever taco toppings you want! So first thing’s first. Mix up your spices! That would be the coriander, chili powder, and garlic powder, plus a few shakes of salt and pepper. And the cinnamon. I almost forgot

Mix the spices with the olive oil so that you have a nice little marinade. Slop all over fish in a large bowl. Leave it be for 20 minutes or so

While that bit of magic is happening, we can make the mayo. I like mine served chilled so it’s best to do it before we cook up the fish. Add mayo, garlic, mint, cumin (toasted for a few minutes on the stove top if you like…I skipped this step), juice from the lime, and some salt and pepper into the food processor. Pulse until smooth. Presto done! How simple can you get? Pour your minty concoction into a bowl and stick it in the fridge

Set your skillet on medium heat. Place fish into non-oiled pan and cook for roughly three minutes per side

That’s it! Chunk up you fish with a fork and get ready to assemble. Slather your tortillas with the mayo and lay down some cabbage. We also whipped up some coleslaw to go on the side

Oh boy! Am I excited for these. Bad day shmad day. Do you know what else makes you leave your worries behind? Looking at old photos of your friends doing a crazy dance while you were cooking


Direct heat

I have an announcement to make! Today I entered to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer…along with some 60,000+ other people. My odds are slim, but they’re better than not entering at all. My fingers are tightly crossed.

But that wasn’t my real announcement. What I really wanted to say is that the broiler and I are becoming fast friends. I have grown to love my broiler. She is teaching me wonders about cooking tender, juicy meat. First the steak and now the lovely pork chops I made for dinner tonight. I will never cook on the stove top again! Okay, that’s probably not true but I’m certainly feeling that way at the moment. And it’s so fast. Tonight my dinner was done under ten minutes (not including the time it took to marinate the chops). Aaaa-maaaaaazing! Let’s not forget that the cleanup is pretty easy, too. Oh, yeah!

It seems to me that recently I’ve been borrowing a lot of recipes, some of them tweaked, some of them not. Today was no exception. I knew I wanted to make some pork chops, but had no idea how to do them up. Pan fried, smothered, baked, grilled, Asian style, Italian style (which almost happened), Southwest style. The possibilities were endless and yet I could not settle on a single idea. SO I turned to the web. Smitten Kitchen to be precise. I stumbled upon a lovely haiku she had written about her pork chops and was inspired to write my own:

Tender, soft, juicy

Pork chop how I enjoy thee

Melt in your mouth glory

I can’t take all the credit. The boyfriend helped with those lines! He can be cute when he wants to be. Anyway, so the recipe I used belongs to Deb Perelman with slight changes. I jumped the gun and ended up throwing all my spices in with the oil at once, but it turned out superb. I was a little iffy about using cumin because it just isn’t one of my favorite spices, but the more bites I took, the more I loved it. Mmm hmm!

Recipe courtesy Deb Perelman

Ingredients:

  • 3 in-bone pork chops
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat olive oil in skillet with garlic on medium-low heat

In a small bowl, mix together your spices. Once you can smell the garlic (it only takes a couple minutes), mix the spices into the skillet with the oil

Stir together for about another minute

Make sure you cleaned your shops. Habit, what can I say. Then pour the sauce over them in a large bowl

Now get your hands dirty!

Allow your little chops to marinate for about 30 minutes. I think I shaved off a few minutes. A girl’s gotta eat! Preheat your broiler. Spray a broiler pan with (none other than) PAM. Arrange your pork chops onto the pan as best as you can

Alright, stick those babies under the broiler for about four minutes. Oh, and don’t forget to move your rack to the upper part of your oven. I put mine one above the middle slot. I feel like the top slop is just too close. Maybe one day. After your four minutes is up, flip

Stick them back under the broiler for another 4 minutes. Easy as pie, I tell ya! Be sure to let your beauties rest for a few minutes, enough time to whip up a side salad. Pick your favorite chop and dig in. Serve with your salad and some mashed potatoes

I’d say this is another meal to add to the I-want-to-impress-someone pile. So tender and juicy! Didn’t even need a knife. Slrrp! Finish it off with a slice of Farm Fresh tiramisu that you just know you could make better. Time to pull out the notebook

Tijuana


Sweet sweet mercy

I’m a gardener. Actually, I only attempt to garden and even that I manage to muck up. My green thumb simply has not developed yet, though my mint and basil are flourishing as well as my salsa peppers. See, look at those babies!

Despite my gardening shortcomings, a few tomatoes have managed to struggle through my neglect. I save a few from the birds every week

Have you ever eaten a tomato straight off the vine? Oh goodness, it is one of nature’s divinities. There are few things in the world more enjoyable than biting into a tomato still warm from ripening in the sun. You can practically taste the sunshine in the juices

I never really liked tomatoes all that much growing up. Unless they were made into some sort of salsa or spaghetti sauce. Hey, I admit I was a picky kid.  As I got older, sure I’d order them on my sandwiches but usually picked them off before I got to the third bite. But fresh tomatoes from the yard are rapidly changing my mind about this lovely little fruit. I’m sure it could change your mind, too, if you’re not already on the wagon. And they make a lovely snack sprinkled with salt and pepper. Slrrrp (that’s the sound of my mouth watering)

But of course, one thing that always comes to mind with fresh tomatoes is green fried tomatoes. I blame the movie

 

The fried tomatoes I made today are very simple. I’m sure they would be better with some cornmeal mixed in with the flour, but you do what you can in a pinch

Ingredients:

1 green tomato (though, honestly, mine was on the yellow side)

1/2 cup flour

1 egg

Splash of milk

Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat, about 1/2 inch. Slice your tomato. I was only cooking for myself, but you can up all the ingredients for a crowd

 

Gather your other ingredients together. In one bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and pepper. Add cornmeal if you have some in your pantry. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and egg

 

Dip your tomato slices in the egg and then dredge them through the flour. You know the drill by now! Fry for about 3 minutes on each side until nice and golden

 

 

Annnnnnnnd EAT! I think they have enough flavor to be eaten plain, but feel free to serve with some ranch if you have a need to do some dipping. Or even some ketchup if you’re feeling sacrilegious

Note to self: remember to keep out of cat’s reach. He has vegetarian tendencies after all… But at least he saved me from a stinging insect. Good Toby!


Bees knees

Like I said, the Alfredo deserved a post unto itself. It was creamy like I wanted. The peas added great color. And of course, the bacon provided a nice crunch and amazing flavor. Here’s to bacon!

But seriously, this was so easy to make and yet seemed like such a fancy meal. Perfect for someone’s special birthday dinner. Of course, it would have been even better if there had been shredded cheese on hand, but the stuff in that bottle/can thingy worked just fine…though, I am out of Parmesan now. Boo! Time to go to the market again

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta (I used penne)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups Parmesan, preferably grated
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • Pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil

Cook up the bacon (chopped up)! Which in my opinion is the best part of the dish. I admit I have a problem…

Melt the butter in a large pot. Make sure it’s big enough to hold all your pasta later. In the meantime, boil your pasta in separate pot

Once your butter has melted down, add the cream. Oh, and keep in mind that we don’t want burnt up cream so keep your heat on medium to medium-low. Whatever you’re comfortable with

After only a couple minutes, it’s okay to add the cheese. Stir stir stir! Terrible picture if I do say so myself

Your cheese is getting all melty and your sauce is thickening up. Squeeze in the lemon juice! Mmmm

I’m not adding salt to mine, but I’m pretty generous with the pepper

Toss in the peas please. I bet broccoli would be great in this. Ooh, or some chopped up red peppers. Ideas…

It doesn’t take too long for your peas to warm up, just a few minutes. By now, your pasta should be done. Drain and dump in right into your Alfredo pot

Now for my favorite part. Add the bacon. How exciting!

Because the basil in your box garden is going crazy, sprinkle some on top

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

Ah, now that’s some good pasta. All is right in the world for a glorious moment with my fork in my mouth.

Tijuana


Sparkle

Today is a special day. Not my special day, no, but it might as well be as excited as I’ve been, counting down the days and suffering from fits of enthusiasm. But it is not my special day. Today belongs to the boyfriend. It’s his birthday! I love birthdays. I love everything about birthdays. I love the cake. I love the ice cream. I love the special dinner. I love the presents. Oh how I love the presents. I don’t think there is anything more fun than planning out a gift, of searching for just the right fit and then wrapping it up to give away. Of course, this year has been a little tight for my post graduate self, but that’s okay. It just means I’m going to have to have some kitchen adventures! I can pour just as much love into a dish as I can into a gift. Probably even more love. And it’s all for love, right?

I’m thinking Alfredo. Rich, decadent, creamy Alfredo. With bacon. And peas. And lemon. Delicious! If I asked the boyfriend what his favorite meal was, I’m pretty sure he would give me some noncommittal answer. I can’t blame him really. Even I have the hardest time with that question. But from several observations, I think Alfredo might be at the top of his list. I’d bet money on it. Plus, it’s just a great celebration dish in general. It’s not like you can eat this Alfredo everyday. No ma’am. We are going big. That means real cream. Of the heavy variety. And let’s not forget about the real butter. Did I mention the cheese?

But that’s only half of it. We also need a special cake. Something homemade. I don’t even want to get into a discussion about those store bought concoctions. Bleh! I really wanted to make a German Chocolate cake. I was ready to take on the challenge. Then I discovered something called a sparkle cake. How could I pass on something with a name like that? Sparkle! Like the sparkling flames of birthday candles. Like the sparkling magic of celebrating your birthday. I just like the imagery that comes with a word like sparkle. So, my German chocolate recipe has been set aside for future use and we’re going to make a light, refreshing cake instead, which is probably more suited for a hot July day anyway

As much as I would love to fill this post with excruciating detail on how I prepared the cake, today I’d rather just show you the result and send you on over to the Pioneer Woman’s site. It was her recipe I used after all. But let me tell you a few things. I’ve never made an angel food cake before and I’m not sure I’m inclined to make one again. The batter was sticky and finicky and I didn’t even want to lick the bowl afterwards. But the cake was exactly what I was looking for and everyone enjoyed it.

Strawberry Sparkle Cake recipe courtesy Ree Drummond

The batter got really big. Whoa!

If you don’t have an angel food cake pan, a bundt pan will have to do. Ungreased.

I really thought it was going to overflow all over my oven

I tried the best I could to dig the cake out of the pan. I heard a rubber spatula works wonders

I resorted to a butter knife

The filling was my favorite part. Strawberry jello with whole strawberries!

Whipped cream smeared all over = heaven

The cake was a bugger success than I hoped. Woo hoo! But dinner…dinner was a great hit! In fact, it was such a great hit I’m going to give the Alfredo it’s own post. Stay tuned!


No reservations

If there’s one thing I love in the summer, it’s a good ol’ cookoff- I mean cookout! Grilled chicken, polska kielbasa, coleslaw, corn on the cob…yummm. Let’s not forget the steak and ribs. Last summer the boys had a steak-off. I arrived late so missed out on the fun and haven’t the slightest clue who won the competition, but I’m itching for a rematch! I may not be a grill master (in fact, I myself  have never cooked on a grill), but I’m pretty determined I could show those guys a thing or two about flavor. I’m sure it wouldn’t take much convincing to arrange some ground rules. Hmmm

But it’s been way too hot to spend an excessive amount of time outdoors, and if it’s not scorching out and humid, it’s storming. So tonight we’re just going to bring the cookout-for-two indoors and make use of our oven. The star on our menu? Buffalo chicken. Not just any buffalo chicken either. Baked buffalo chicken. Baked buffalo chicken made with skinless boneless breasts. That’s right. Tonight we’re going healthy. Perhaps lite might be a better word than healthy. Hey, I’ll take what I can get! But honestly, the star tonight might just be the coleslaw, which is what got me thinking about cookouts in the first place. Sometimes you just get those summer cravings and coleslaw is generally at the top of my list, which is funny considering I just became a coleslaw lover two summers ago. Yup, refused to try the stuff as a child.

Now, coleslaw is one of those foods best prepared ahead of time. Yeah, you can eat it right away no problem. But if you cover it and let it chill in the fridge for a spell, some real magic takes place and the flavor will just burst across your taste buds. Trust me you!

Ingredients:

Coleslaw

  • 1 bag prepared coleslaw mix (you can chop up your own cabbage and carrots if you have them on hand)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

I hope by now you have all realized that I love my food tangy. You know that tingling sensation that creeps up your jaw  when you bite into something tart? I’m addicted to that sensation. Needless to say, that means my coleslaw is pretty darn tart. If you prefer a creamier coleslaw, add an extra 3/4 cup of mayonnaise.

Get together your dry ingredients and put them in a medium bowl. Use salt and pepper to taste (I did about a teaspoon of each)

I remembered that I had some dry mustard and added a few dashes on a whim. Next whisk in the apple cider vinegar and mayo

Now that your dressing is all ready to go, add the shredded cabbage mix

Easy peasy! If possible, don’t forget to cover and leave in fridge for a couple hours. Oh, and taste a little bit to make sure it’s to your liking. Try not to eat the whole bowl while you’re at it


Now onto the chicken! I didn’t get this recipe from any single source. I Googled baked buffalo chicken and combined a few ideas together. Hopefully, it turns out!

Buffalo Chicken

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and bonelss
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

As usual, clean and trim your chicken. I chose to chunk mine up, but you can serve your breasts whole if you wish. I’m sure they would make bangin’ sandwiches! Go ahead and salt your chicken up a bit while you’re at it

Drizzle olive oil in a skillet and lightly brown your chicken. I’m pretty sure this step can be skipped, but quite a few of the recipes I found called for browning the chicken so I decided to give it a go. But don’t cook it all the way through. We just want a little color

Mix together hot sauce, vinegar, mustard, butter, and pepper

Spray a baking dish with PAM

Once the chicken is browned, coat with buffalo mixture

Pour chicken into baking dish and pop into a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. Uncovered. Halfway through, flip for the sake of it

And there you have it, indoor cookout!

Of course, no summer cookout is official without some corn. Fill a pot with water, add 1/4 cup of sugar, and boil your corn 5-8 minutes. Mmm mmm mmm! The chicken was pretty good, too, for my first try. In the future I’ll probably tweak it a bit, but it is definitely a recipe worth saving. Oh yeah, and the spice was pretty mild. For something hotter, just increase the Texas Pete!

Tijuana