Month: May 2014

California Fried Chicken In A Creamy Tomato Chipotle Sauce

California Fried Chicken In A Creamy Tomato Chipotle Sauce

California Fried Chicken In A Creamy Tomato Chipotle Sauce

I’ve been doing a lot of recipe development jobs lately. Things I never post on my blog, and because I’m under a contract, I am not allowed to disclose the company anywhere. This job has taken up a lot of my free time, but has also taught me a great deal of techniques and has seriously pushed me to venture into a side of cooking that I had rarely visited in the past. I’ve come to realize from the recipes I’ve come up with, that I am especially good at making fusion dishes. Melding my all American girl tastes with my East Los Angeles Mexican girl tastes. The results have been close to sublime, for my palate at least.

My fiance’s cousins are here visiting from Mexicali, Mexico and I didn’t want to make them Mexican food (they eat that all the time), but I wanted to make them something slightly spicy delicious. I decided to revert to what I do best and make them a fusion dish.

Walmart had a beautiful display of tomatoes calling my name when I was there shopping yesterday, and of course I bought about 12 thinking I would be making salsa over the weekend for our guests.  As my work load thickened with plenty, the salsa idea fell to the wayside. I ended up making a fried chicken in a creamy tomato chipotle sauce instead with all those perfectly ripe tomatoes. No one complained, in fact they practically licked their plates clean and asked for more!

ingredients for fried chicken tomato chipotle cream sauce

Ingredients for fried chicken in a creamy tomato chipotle sauce:

  • 4 – pounds chicken (cut into eighths, bone in, skin on)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 – heaping tablespoon garlic (minced, about 3 garlic cloves)
  • 1 – onion sliced
  • 3 – large tomatoes (on the vine) (chopped into cubes)
  • 3 – chipotle peppers (chopped in big chunks)
  • 1/4 – cup tequila
  • 4 – cups chicken broth
  • 1 – cup half and half

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Salt and pepper chicken generously.
  3. Dip chicken into 1/2 cup of flour.
  4. In a large pot / dutch oven over a medium flame add in olive oil and allow to get hot.  Fry the chicken on each side for about 4 minutes to brown.  Remove chicken from frying oil and set to the side. chicken frying in dutch ovenchicken perfectly browned
  5. In the same pot add in garlic, and onion. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes or until slightly browned. Add in 2 tomatoes and chipotle peppers continue to saute for an additional 10 minutes. Stirring often. onion and garlic saute in olive oilmixture of onion garlic tomato and chipotle saute
  6. Pour in the tequila and cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Add in chicken broth, and half and half. Bring to a simmer. adding chicken broth to the saute
  8. Place the chicken pieces back into the pot, cover with the lid and place in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Thermometer should read 165 degrees. chicken back in broth
  9. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  10. Place pot back on the stove top over a low/simmer flame. Mix to combine. Then take a 1/2 cup of the liquid out of the pot and pour it into a bowl and whisk it together with 3 tablespoons flour. Once the mixture is smooth, pour it back into the pot and mix to combine. whisking flour and broth till smooth
  11. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes as the sauce thickens.
  12. Place the chicken in a serving dish and pour the sauce over the top.
  13. Top the dish with one chopped tomato. fried chicken smothered in a creamy chipotle tomato sauce
  14. EAT THIS NOW!

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The New Air Wick Collection And The Best Cowboy Cookies Recipe

The New Air Wick Collection And The Best Cowboy Cookies Recipe

cowboy cookies and a glass of milk

A few months ago I started this routine to eat better, exercise more, and indulge every so often… a girl has got to live.  With that being said, recently I was eating at a great salad restaurant in Pasadena CA, in trying to be healthy and really keeping to my new goals.  My son was with me and wanted a cookie.  I picked him up high enough so he could see what was in the display case. He turned and looked at me and said “What’s that smell? Is it coconut or cinnamon?” I replied “Both.  It’s called a Cowboy Cookie.” He said “Do you want to share the cowboy cookie?” He used the key word “share.”  This way I could have just a portion of it and also because he is an only child, I could teach him the value of sharing.  I said “of course!”  Little did I know it would be a slippery slope down hill.  One bite into this cookie I knew I was gonna crave it all the time.  My boy too fell hard for the coconut chocolate cinnamon oat pecan flavor.  Who wouldn’t?  Since then I have been making my own version of the heavenly cowboy cookie to “share” with my son.  Not all the time but sometimes.

Many moons ago I worked at a post production studio where we recorded sound for big animated movies and cartoon series.  Lots of famous celebrities would come in for voice over work.  One day a huge starlet came in and instead of going straight to her studio to start working she stopped to smell a bowl of chocolate instead.  I told her “go ahead, and get a few pieces of chocolate.”  She smiled and said, “That’s okay honey, I’ve been on a diet for the last ten years and never get to have a piece of chocolate, but the next best thing is smelling it.  It keeps me thin this way.”  I remember thinking that she must have the willpower of the strongest human on this earth.  How could she smell something and not go in to taste?

Air Wick Collection

Recently I was shopping at Walmart and found a whole new collection of Air Wick air fresheners inspired by the beloved brands of Snuggle, Baby Magic, and Cinnabon. I think that it is smart of Air Wick to partner with those brands, they all evoke the comfort of home.  Just like that a light in my head went on.  When I want all the comforts of something sweet I don’t nessecarily have to eat it, I could just smell it and Air Wick just made it so easy to do that with their Cinnabon scent.  I couldn’t resist, I grabbed the Snuggle scent because fresh laundry is always enticing, Baby Magic because I miss that new born scent, and of course the grandfather of them all, the Cinnabon scent, which caters to my food palate. Smells so good you can practically taste it.

Ingredients for Cowboy Cookies:

  • 3/4 – cup butter (room temp about 1 1/2 sticks)
  • 3/4 – cup sugar
  • 3/4 – cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 – eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 – cups unbleached flour
  • 1 – teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 – teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 – tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 – teaspoon salt
  • 1 – cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 – cups sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 – cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 – cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large mixer cream sugars and butter until smooth.
  3. Add in one egg at a time  and continue mixing to combine. Add in the vanilla extract, and mix till completely combined.
  4. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together.
  5. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Continue to mix until all combined.
  6. Fold in pecans, coconut, oats, and chocolate chips into the dough.
  7. Ball up 3 tablespoons of dough and place on a baking mat lined cookie sheet about 3 to 4 inches apart. cowboy cookie dough on baking mat lined cookie sheet
  8. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden crisp around the edges.
  9. Allow to cool on baking sheet.
  10. Eat this now!

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How We Have Been Growing Happy The Last Few Months

How We Have Been Growing Happy The Last Few Months

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Knowledge Universe. However all opinions are 100% my own.

Max wearing his goggles for swimming lessons

I love to go from being a mess to getting work done.  I’m not only talking in the literal sense, but the physical sense too.  A few months back I was inspired by Knowledge Universe and made a commitment to GROW HAPPY for me and my family.  I  wrote about it here on my blog. 

I teamed up with Knowledge Universe which is a great company that cares for 0ver 130,000 kids everday and have now teamed up with Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a healthier America (PHA) to help battle child obesity.  The goal was to help families make little simple changes that would lead to a healthier lifestyle down the road.  I took this challenge myself and these are the results.

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Results On Goals:

FOOD: We have been able to maintain the less sugar rule in my house.  We are down to one amazing dessert a week.  I have cut all soda from the household and reduced the amount of sugar I would normally put in aguas or lemonade down considerably.  I make big bowls of fresh-fruit salad (which usually get sprinkled with fresh lime juice and tajin.)  I have also been freezing bananas then putting them into my vitamix for a quick banana sorbet and topping it with shredded coconut and chopped pecans.  This works really perfect and always hits the spot.  My son has still not fallen in love with salads but I surely have.  It seems I am eating salad way more than anything else these days.  I go to the farmers market usually on Sunday morning and buy anything that looks vibrant and fresh.  Then I come home and roast a batch of veggies to drop in a salad anytime I’m craving one.  This has really helped me, plus roasted veggies simply taste better.

roasted cauliflower out of the oven

BODY: My son is an absolute athlete in the making.  It might be in extreme sports because he seems to love all things on the adventurous side.  He rides his scooter down hills, jumps off little ramps and is the first one to leap into the pool off a diving board.  Yes, I have a dare devil on my hands.  I’m not complaining, I just have to keep him well protected because of how extraordinarily active he lives.  Me and my fiance have really stepped it up in the movement department.  We have been taking hour long walk/runs at least 2 to 3 times a week and I have been practicing pilates twice a week with my best friend.  I am starting to see a change in my body and have lost 5 pounds.  Yippeee!  Plus I love the accomplished feeling I get after a great workout.

kid jumping off a slide

MIND: Mental health is such a huge issue for me.  A few years ago my son was diagnosed as “provisional autistic.”  He was not talking at the time and had to spend up to 12 hours in therapy every week.  We were unsure of what the outcome would be for him and tried our best to get him the help he needed.  Since then he is talking non-stop and sounds like a young adult half the time, is going into a main stream school (starting this fall for kindergarten), has a quick and wicked sense of humor, and is reading at a first grade level. He has exceeded our wildest dreams.  Even though we’re thrilled with all his astonishing achievements, I will not let his mental health slip my grips.  I am constantly working on building his knowledge base and teaching him new things.  We read almost every night and then I make him repeat back the story to ensure reading comprehension. We play bingo or loteria, build puzzles and of course are always playing his iPad together.  I am very proud of my little guy and know all the hard work it took to get to this place.

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Tostadas De Guacamol Inspired By The Artist Ricardo Arjona

Tostadas De Guacamol Inspired By The Artist Ricardo Arjona

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I was recently assigned a job by Walmart to go review a show by the Guatemalan musical artist, Ricardo Arjona.  The show inspired me to run home and to make the classic Guatemalan dish, tostadas de guacamole.  More on that later;  back to the Ricardo Arjona show.  It wasn’t just any show, it was a show specifically for his true-blue fans.  The only way to get into the event was if you were in his fan club, or if were lucky enough, by winning tickets on a local radio program.

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What I realized about Mr. Arjona’s fan-base is that they are wildly-insane-crazy about him.  The first thing I saw as I got to the venue, The Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles, was the massive line of people that wrapped around the block so they could secure a good seat.  Then as I walked by the line, everybody was singing at the tops of their lungs, song after song by their aforementioned favorite singer.  Some fans even made signs to hold up once they got inside.  There was a lot of love everywhere.  It was a really sweet sight to see.


Once the show got underway, the fans roared in a frenzy as their hero hit the stage to sing the first song.  As fast on their feet and loud as they were, they quickly settled down so they could hear the music.

His setlist ran the gamut from his biggest hits to the newest songs.  The music itself was played in a stripped down, skeletal version, un-plugged if you will.  There was one acoustic guitar, a percussionist and Ricardo (sometimes on guitar or piano.)  It was a very simple set-up compared to the massive production for an artist of his stature.  It was very intimate.

_MG_0194 His voice sounded in top form and the band’s chops were equally good.  The banter to his fans between songs was genuine and charming.  He seemed delighted to be performing for the people that appreciate his music the most.

Ricardo is celebrating the release of his recently released CD titled, Viaje.  The rumor on the street is that he’s about to embark on a grand world tour.  You could buy the CD at Walmart!
Like I said earlier, I was feeling moved by the show and realized that I didn’t have any Guatemalan dishes on my blog so I decided to make tostadas de guacamol.  Check out the simple recipe below:
Ingredients for tostada de gaucamol:

  • ready made tostadas
  • refried black beans
  • tomato (sliced)
  • onion (sliced)
  • avocado (sliced)
  • cotija cheese (crumbled)
  • fresh oregano (chopped)
  • lime

Directions:

  1. Start with a tostada, and smear 2 tablespoons into the center.
  2. Layer a few slices of tomato, onion, and avocado.
  3. Crumble cheese, and sprinkle some oregano on top.
  4. Squeeze lime on top.
  5. Enjoy!

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Tasting Menu at Dodger Stadium

Tasting Menu at Dodger Stadium

UYIFE111Did I ever mention that I’m obsessed with the Los Angeles Dodgers?  Well I am.  So much so that we recently changed our cable company of many years because it no longer showed Dodger games.
JGFRR1 A few days ago I got a call from the Dodger’s front office asking me to come on down to the stadium to try out the new food items on the menu.  You could imagine my freaking utter happiness!

It’s very cool what Executive Chef Jason Tingley is doing for Dodger Stadium these days.  He’s revamping the food selection for those of us that are going to ballgames this summer and also want a little more to eat than just a Dodger Dog.  Not that there is anything wrong with the classic, beloved Dodger Dog.  25,000 Dodger Dogs are sold at every home game, an amazing number by any standards.  It’s just that now and again, food freaks like myself want a variety and oh man, is there a variety now!
TOMMY

First, with the new addition of the restaurant stand, Tommy Lasorda’s Trattoria, you can find things like artisan cheese pizza (inspired by Chef Jason’s trips to Portland, OR),  chicken pamasian sub, the meatball sub, and Tommy’s personal favoratite, meatballs and pasta to which Mr. Lasorda says tastes the closest to the way his mama used to make.
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Let’s move on to the BBQ shall we?  Chef Jason Tingley really put out all the stops with his BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich.  He says he’s willing to challenge anyone in the city to a BBQ Beef Brisket cook off.  Yes, its that good!  The Japanese jidori chicken is pretty darn delish also.  It has a potent spicy kick to it… but nothing you couldn’t  handle.  Then there is the old fashioned, Mexican street elote (Roasted Corn.)  It has all the trimmings and topped with mayonese and seasonings.
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Speaking of Latin flavors, the new Souveneer helmet nachos are to die for.  They are time honored with the ingredients:  Cheese, carne asada, beans, creama, toped off with a pico de gallo.  They went really well with the limited time “Cuban Dog.”  They’ll only serve them when they play the Miami Marlins but its so worth the wait.  They taste amazing with pulled pork, a piece of ham, a slice of cheese and a pickle on a dog.  Wow factor!  Chef Jason Tingley wanted to name it the “Puig Dog” but he didn’t want to hurt the rest of the player’s feelings.  (Awe…)

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A funny story from this evening:  Druing my food tour, I kept saying to Chef Jason that there isn’t enough simple sweet offerings in the stadium.  I said that a Dodger cookie would be nice and that they should consider making them on a regular basis.  I’m sure I was bugging him to no end.  But after the tour was well over and we were deep into the Dodger game, at the 7th inning stretch, I was brought 5 freshly baked chocolate chip cookies that were made just for me by the chef!  I know, Im spoiled!
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Oh BTW, the Dodgers won that night which was a nice capper to the amazing food-frenzied evening.  I highly recommend you give the new selects a try.  You won’t be sorry.
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 GO BLUE!

Agua De Pepino Y Yerba Buena: Cucumber Mint Water

Agua De Pepino Y Yerba Buena: Cucumber Mint Water

agua de pepino y yerba buena or cucumber mint water

It’s been a little over a month and I have been working hard at my exercise routine. Trying my hardest to be as active as possible at least 5 times a week. I am very fortunate that I have a great support team behind me. My fiance joins me most of the time for a serious hike or a walk/run/jog/walk, and then I have my pilates class which my best friend A-dre (who recently moved next door to me, I know I’m lucky to have my best gal living a few steps away) likes to join me for. I must admit this wellness/exercise thing is a serious commitment. I tell myself as I’m sweating buckets in the California heat “it is all for the greater good of my health.”  Of course I’m doing it for vanity (I need to lose some lbs.), but I’m also doing it for sanity. I love the feeling of an accomplished workout at the beginning of my day.

Lately I have been making a refreshing “agua de pepino y yerba buena” that I like to keep on tap chilled in the fridge. It’s my reward when I come back home with a complete overheated RED face from a thorough workout. Walmart makes it easy to keep it handy and with low prices on both cucumber and mint, why wouldn’t I make it often? This is the way I’m staying hydrated this spring/summer, with the people I love most drinking a glass beside me. Cheers to cucumber mint water.

cucumber mint for agua

Ingredients for agua de pepino y yerba buena:

  • 3 – large cucumbers (cut into big pieces)
  • 1 – lemon peeled
  • 1/2 – cup mint leaves (stems removed/leaves only – I used Melissa’s Produce)
  • 1/2 – cup sugar
  • 10 – cups water

Directions:

  1. Place cucumbers, lemon, mint leaves, sugar in a blender, and then add a cup of water. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture through a sieve that pours into a pitcher.
  3. Add the remaining water to the pitcher and give it a stir.
  4. Place the pitcher in the fridge and allow to chill.
  5. Pour agua into a cup and garnish with a mint sprig.
  6. Enjoy!

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Perfecting A Berry Pavlova

Perfecting A Berry Pavlova

perfect pavlova topped with berries

Making a pavlova is no easy task, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  I learned this the hard way.  I guess my confidence had surpassed my common sense.  How does the saying go “Never try making a recipe for the first time when having dinner guests over!”  Like a fool I tried making my first pavlova on a day when I was having a small dinner party for a friends birthday.  COMPLETE FAIL.  I had followed Ina Garten’s recipe, temperature, and instructions.  I had never seen anyone make one so I figured why not turn to her.  I whipped up the egg whites and added the sugar.  It was fluffy, dense, and perfect.  Popped the pavlova in the oven and let it bake and cool.  When it was time to serve the pavlova, it just crumbled and was WAY undercooked.  A little stream of  “egg-white goo” came pouring out of it.  I had to quickly come up with an alternative dessert to serve my guests (which wasn’t a problem, I was well stocked with ice cream, berries, and coffee cake.)  I went to bed that night thinking of the fantasy pavlova I had imagined I was going to make instead of that mush that was now sitting in the trash.

A few days later I was at Walmart and saw a beautiful display of berries in the market section.  They had blueberries, strawberries, blackberries. $1.88 a carton of bright red strawberries. I practically did a little dance knowing that I was gonna pile up on berries because I had a pavlova to tackle when I got home.  It didn’t matter how many times I had to try and perfect it, I was gonna have some berries on my pavlova.

With determination on my side, and a huge carton of eggs, me and my KitchenAid went to work.  I didn’t change much of Ina Garten’s recipe, I just baked it at a different temperature and made sure it was cooked all the way through before I even attempted to place it on a platter. Now that I know how to make it, I’ll be sure to whip it up for my friends the next time they’re here to visit.  Live and learn.

ingredients for pavlova

Ingredients for berry pavlova:

  • 4 – extra large egg whites
  • 1 1/8 – cups sugar
  • 2 – teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 – teaspoon vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 – teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – cups whipped cream
  • 2 – cups berries ( I used a combo of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Place a 9-inch circle piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. _MG_0105
  3. In a mixer attached with a whisk, whisk egg whites for about a minute on high or until peaks form.
  4. With the mixer still on high, slowly start to add in sugar 1 heaping tablespoon at a time. This step should take a total of about two minutes. The whites should be dense and fluffy.
  5. Remove the mixture for the mixer.
  6. Sift cornstarch over egg whites, then add in vinegar and vanilla. Fold the mixture with a rubber spatula until incorporated. Do not over mix.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the center of the wax paper, then with the rubber spatula work your way from the center to the outer edges of the wax paper. Making a perfect pavlova. pavlova before going into the oven
  8. Place the pavlova in the oven, then lower the temp to 250 degrees fahrenheit.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  10. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova in the oven with the door closed for about 5 hours or until completely cooled down.
  11. With a small spatula run it along the edges to remove the wax paper from underneath. Then transfer the pavlova very carefully to a platter.
  12. Spread the top with whipped cream, and fresh berries. An overhead shot of a perfect pavlova topped with whipped cream and berries #WMTMoms
  13. Serve immediately.

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