I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, fall is my absolute favorite season. The air turns crisp, sidewalks are painted with the fiery red, burnt orange and golden yellow of fallen leaves and it leads right into the holiday season. Every time I walk out of our house, I am reminded how much I love our neighborhood and how thankful I am we ended up there! Although I generally am more excited by savory foods, fall brings out the baker in me and I want to make all of the breads, cupcakes, cookies, etc.
Earlier this week I made blackened swai with a mango salsa. These three mangos have been sitting in our fridge for a couple of weeks, and I needed a way to use at least one. Ding – Mango Salsa! Except I didn’t have any jalapeño. “Luckily” for me, Daisy needed treats, which led to a trip to
that black-hole of a store where you can’t help but spend more time and money than you could ever have expected Target. The great thing about Target is that you always find things you don’t need. Like a HUGE bag of jalapeños.
Clearly I couldn’t turn this down, especially since it was less than $2, even though I only needed half of ONE pepper for my salsa :)
I digress. The mango salsa was not the point of this post, although it was tasty. The point was to write about my Wednesday night creation, (sorta) jalapeño popper pasta. I needed an outlet for all those peppers so that they did not go to waste; hence I scoured the interwebs for inspiration and came up with what follows.
First I halved and cored my lovely green monsters. I call them monsters because I could barely breathe throughout this entire step of the process. I think Dave was ready to call in medical assistance!
Then I placed the peppers face down on a cookie sheet and baked at 450 for a while – precise, I know. Once they browned a bit, I flipped them over to roast a bit longer.
While the peppers were heating up, I mixed a cup of almond milk, a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt and two cups of veggie cheese (normally this would read heavy cream, cream cheese and shredded cheese, but I was thinking about our waistlines) in a saucepan to warm on the stove. Later I realized this was not working because veggie cheese doesn’t really like to melt, so I had to get the blended involved. More details to come.
With the peppers toasted to perfection, I put them in a food processor with a bit of olive oil and a heap of minced garlic. My dad has had this same jar (no, not this same exact jar, but many many jars of the same product) on hand for as long as I can remember, and I simply can’t imagine cooking without it.
At this point I decided to put everything in the blender – the pepper blend and the creamy almond-milk-yogurt-veggie-cheese mixture. It smoothed everything together nicely, and I poured the cheesy jalapeño sauce back into the pot, adding salt, pepper and cumin. At some point in the process I began the pasta-water boiling process and cooked some rotini noodles. Once all was fully cooked and warm, I drained the water and covered the pasta in the “popper” sauce! The pasta was served with a side salad and wine, of course :)
What were some of the best meals you had this week?
Which was your favorite?
For those who did not realize, this past Wednesday (July 24) was the official National Tequila Day. This, of course, is different than Cinco de Mayo or National Margarita Day so, naturally, I celebrated accordingly. Read on to hear about my various tequila adventures and find the list of ingredients at the bottom of this post. I’m not one for following recipes so it’s a lot of “as you like,” but feel free to ask questions about my steps if you want to recreate!
First I created a marinade for the chicken breasts, using Tanteo jalapeño tequila, margarita mix, cilantro, garlic and cumin. This tequila is Dave’s fave because it has been infused with the spicy pepper, giving it a nice kick!
This cilantro is the best thing since sliced bread! I get it at Trader Joe’s, and it stays in the freezer in all its perfectly portioned glory. Whenever I need a splash of cilantro, I pop out a couple cubes, et voilà!
I let the chicken sit for a couple hours, and moved on to making the Spicy Mexican Martini. Using the same tequila, I took a lighter route to your typical margarita recipe and mixed with honey, triple sec, lime juice and soda. It’s important to swirl the tequila with your honey before adding ice to the shaker, or you’ll find yourself with clumps of honey instead of a well-blended cocktail. Once the honey is mixed in, add your triple sec and lime juice. SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE! Then pour into your martini glass and top it off with a splash of soda. (I don’t like salt, but I suppose you could line the rim of the glass with it if you so choose. Obviously do this before pouring in the drink!) Enjoy!
With cocktail in hand, I prepped the rest of the ingredients and made fresh guacamole while the chicken was marinating. Rinse off the black beans and set aside to dry a bit. Then chop your green bell pepper, dice a little red onion – some for the guac, some for the burrito – and cut up an entire jalapeño (be sure to scoop out the seeds first!).
IMHO guacamole should be a little chunky, not totally smooth like Wholly Guacamole, so I use my food processor for 1 1/2 of the avocados, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Then I mash up the other 1/2 of an avocado and fold in the diced onions and jalapeño along with the smoother seasoned avocado blend. (My friend Beth showed me a tip: keep the guacamole from turning brown by leaving the avocado seed in the bowl.) Feel free to scale up or down on the amount of jalapeño you use depending on how much heat you like in your guac.
In another bowl, mix the ingredients for burrito stuffing sans the chicken, which should still be sitting in the tequila bath: black beans, cheese, diced bell pepper and onion.
After the chicken has been soaking for at least two hours, pour everything from the bowl into a pan. Cover and simmer around a two or three for about 20 minutes. Shred the chicken with two forks, then let simmer for another 10 minutes to fully absorb the juices from your marinade. Transfer the chicken and cooking sauce to the bowl with your other stuffing ingredients and mix it all together. Apply your favorite non-stick substance to a cookie sheet, fill your tortillas with the stuffing then roll up like a burrito and bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve with chips, salsa and guacamole! (The salsa I used kind of leaked all over the plate, which was fine because I inevitably mixed it all together anyway.)
Tequila Chicken Baked Burritos
1/4 cup Tanteo jalapeño tequila
1/4 cup margarita mix
1 hefty scoop of minced garlic
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp cilantro (or 3 Dorot cubes)
diced green bell pepper
diced red onion
Spicy Mexican Martini
2 ounces Tanteo jalapeño tequila
1.5 ounces triple sec
squirt of honey (to your liking)
squirt of lime juice (also to your liking)
splash of soda
Happy National Tequila Day!! Did you celebrate? Tell me how :)