August 26, 2015

Mexican Grilled Chicken Salad

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We love this Mexican grilled chicken salad. It’s fairly easy for a weeknight and definitely a healthy choice, it’s become part of our normal dinner rotation. The tomatoes and corn from our local farms have been so delicious this summer and they usually have a nice array of peppers too. Now is the time to make this!

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To help with your weeknight dinner planning, you could grill-up a double batch of boneless chicken breasts using your favorite BBQ rub or mine (All Purpose Red Rub). Make chicken fajitas the first night using half of the chicken breasts, and then use the left over grilled chicken for this salad. You could also substitute steak or shrimp, or use an assortment of different grilled vegetables to make it vegetarian.

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Quantities in the ingredients list below are a bit loosey goosey. I generally take the biggest platter we have and fill it up. Three of us eat most of it, with enough left over for a couple of lunch size portions. Not very precise, but you can’t really mess this one up. Just use any combination of the ingredients listed below that you love, and serve it with the dressing on the side… voilà! Or shall I say Olé?

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1- 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • About a cup of shredded carrots (or more if you like)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 cups of corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1-2 grilled red bell peppers, seeded and skins removed – sliced in strips
  • 1-2 grilled poblano peppers, seeded and skins removed – sliced in strips
  • 1 large grilled jalapeño pepper, seeded and skin removed – sliced in thin strips
  • 1 bunch of scallions, ends trimmed and grilled whole
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Cooked BBQ boneless chicken breasts (1 per person)***

Place the chopped romaine lettuce on the bottom of the platter and pile all the other ingredients on top.

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For the dressing… this is very complicated so pay close attention:

  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1 cup of sour cream (I use light)
  • A few shakes of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 of a fresh squeezed lime
  • Pinch of kosher salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and serve on the side with the salad. So easy! If you’re lucky, your container of sour cream or salsa will only be half full and you can just add the other ingredients right to the container and shake it up. Fancy schmancy stuff!

Crushed tortilla chips are a delicious final topping. Yum!

*** To make the chicken:  pound each breast to an even thickness. Not thin, just even them out. Sprinkle each breast liberally with BBQ rub and grill until properly cooked through to 165 degrees. 

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July 30, 2015

Drinking Italy – Summer 2015

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I was thinking of writing such a lovely post about how beautiful the vineyards were in Italy, how driving through the hills of Tuscany there were miles of sunflower fields, like an endless sea of yellow. We learned that all those sunflowers were used to make oil… interesting. I was thinking that I should fill you in on how serious the Italians are about their wine. Black roosters and DOCG. Brunello vs. Chianti and Chianti isn’t Chianti, if it isn’t made in Chianti. The deliciousness of the Sangiovese grapes and that we learned all grapes are white inside, it’s their skins that make the red wines… well, red.

Then I was just thinking about how freaking hot it was. 102 degrees one of our days in Florence and how we were melting in Sienna, even though it was only 98 degrees that day. And then I thought how delicious the ice-cold beers were and that for the first time, I realized that alcohol actually never cools you off, it makes you hotter. Maybe because we were in Italy, the heat wasn’t nearly as offensive as it can be here; or maybe it was because it was generally a dry heat, like Arizona and Vegas instead of the humidity laden muck of summer in New York City. Beer played as important a role in our drinking this trip, as did the wine. I even tried to enjoy Campari. There’s something so sexy about a Negroni. Well it wasn’t happening… too medicinal for me. The disappointment on the handsome Italian bartenders face. In his head I’m sure he was thinking “f*cking Americans!” But the beer, that was a great relief. Here’s what we drank along our travels.

HOTEL L’OROLOGIO, FLORENCE

Our home away from home in Florence, one of our favorite parts of the hotel stay was the bar. Crisp refreshing cocktails and an impressive spread of free bar snacks. The bartender made me my first Aperol Spritz. Delish! Everyone else seemed to be ordering them, too.

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POGGIO AMORELLI, CHIANTI

We had a wonderful afternoon visiting the Poggio Amorelli winery. A family run vineyard, we enjoyed a tour, wine tasting and lunch. They specialize in Chianti and other wines, as well as making their own olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They also made a killer cheesecake which they served for dessert alongside our Vin Santo and biscotti (my favorite). Here I learned that the whole “Italian” ricotta cheesecake thing found commonly in the States, is actually not even Italian. I guess it’s more of an Italian American tradition? Like chicken parmesan and spaghetti & meatballs.

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Other wines we enjoyed and my favorite Italian beer…

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Watch out Italy! The Jacobson’s will be back soon, hopefully not in the middle of summer. Maybe a springtime trip to Milan with a visit to Modena and Bologna next time. Meanwhile, I wonder if they sell this beer here in the US?

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