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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Curry Chicken

This has been one of those weeks that I've wanted to get in the kitchen and get cracking. Having a husband gone for 4-5 days of the week and living off the boys leftover mac and cheese, pb&j crusts and cereal makes me want to be productive by the time Monday rolls around. Throw in a big trip to Trader Joe's and I'm all set for some therapeutic chopping, sautéing and simmering. Yes, cooking is therapeutic for me.

So I'll cut to the chase. I had an insane craving for homemade pico de gallo and guacamole. I love good guac but I can't tell you the last time I made it. It's been years...maybe even a decade. Seriously. That streak is over thanks to Pioneer Woman's recipes for both. Her pico is super easy. Use equal amounts of:
1. diced yellow or red onions (I like yellow)
2. diced roma tomatoes
3. chopped cilantro
Add in some diced jalapenos (I cheated and used a couple spoonfuls of jarred diced jalapenos)
Stir all together in a bowl, add the juice from half a lime and season with salt to taste. Test it with a chip before adding more salt, since the chips usually have salt.

Pico only keeps for a day or so, so only make the amount you'd use in that time.

For perfect guacamole, simply mash a ripe avocado with a fork (not too mushy!) and toss in a hefty pile of the pico. Stir together gently, test to make sure the taste is how you want it and sprinkle with a little paprika to make it look pretty. If needed, add a little more lime juice. Both the pico and the guac are AMAZING with Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Pita Chips. To me, they're way better than tortilla chips.

So that was lunch...pico de gallo and guacamole. Oh, and I forgot to mention a helping of Pioneer woman's Sherried Tomato Soup. This soup will knock your socks off, big time.

O.K, so moving on to dinner...

Thanks to Jen, I now have a subscription to Cooking Light again! The first recipe I wanted to try was Chicken Curry. I tweaked it a bit, and here's what I came up with. It was pretty good and didn't take long to throw together.

1 TBSP grapeseed oil
2 boneless skinless breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups green and red bell pepper strips
half of a small yellow onion, but into strips
small can bamboo shoots, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
2 TBSP reduced sodium soy sauce
2-3 TBSP red curry paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1 (14-oz) can light coconut milk
torn fresh basil

3 cups hot cooked jasmine rice

1. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pan fry in oil until lightly browned on all sides. Add bell pepper, onion, bamboo shoots and garlic to pan; saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken and vegetables from pan. Combine juice, soy sauce, curry paste and sugar in small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add juice mixture and coconut milk to pan, bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 12 minutes or until slightly thick. Return chicken and vegetables to pan; cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Toss in some torn fresh basil. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super easy party treats

Is it just me, or is Valentine's Day becoming like another mini-Christmas season? It seems like this week has been filled with having to get lots of goodies, treats, Valentines, etc. together for the boys' Valentine's parties at school. I tell you, these elementary parties can be quite stressful! I need something easy as my "go to" treat for these things.

The following is not my own creation. I got this from my sister in law, who I believe got it from someone she works with. They are SUPER easy, the kids can totally help, and they usually get devoured at a party. And there's really NO baking involved, although you do have to turn on the oven.

What you need is this:

1 bag of small Snyder's pretzels (This brand works better than Rold Gold for this recipe)
1 bag Hershey's Hugs (the milk and white chocolate swirled ones...NO nuts)
1 bag colored M&M's (for whatever holiday you're celebrating)

Preheat the oven to 200.
Line a cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper. DON"T skip this step! You'll regret it later if you do.
Place as many pretzels on the sheet as will fit. Don't use any broken pretzels. Top each pretzel with a hug. Pop in the oven for about 5-10 min. Stay close by and keep an eye on them. You want them to be soft, but not totally melted.
Remove from oven and immediately top with M&M's by lightly pressing.
I like to use a variation of 1, 2, or 3 on each pretzel. Put in the refrigerator to cool down and return to solid.
Once they are back to solid, put on a pretty plate, wrap with foil and keep refrigerated until party time.

Another variation...use a Rolo instead of a hug and a pecan half instead of a M&M. They're like mini-turtles and people go NUTS over them.

Imagine the possibilities...Spring M&M's for Easter, multi-colored for Summer, red and green for Christmas, etc.