You know that feeling you get when you’re eating a meal you didn’t think you’d like? How about that feeling when you’re shoveling said meal into your mouth with nary a breath taken? Yup. That’s this meal. I would have totally passed over this kale and quinoa salad had it not been for the wide-eyed urging of my friend, Joan, over a recent New Haven Restaurant Week lunch we had of moules frîtes and a salted caramel brownie topped with a scoop of vanilla at Cask Republic.
It was quite the lunch that day and this was quite the meal as well. I decided to round out the salad with some maple Dijon grilled chicken that I let soak in my newest favorite dressing all day long and then I drizzled the salad with some of the dressing too. I really really love that dressing, can you tell? But it wasn’t really the dressing or the chicken that made this meal (though, omg the chicken! soooo tender!!). It was the barely warm quinoa that just slightly wilted the kale and soaked up the dressing that really made the salad so spectacular. The whole meal came together in under 20 minutes and for a healthy weeknight meal, this one felt pretty special!
Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag and pour half of the vinaigrette over the chicken, massaging the chicken to coat it with the vinaigrette. Refrigerate the remaining vinaigrette. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 8-10 hours, flipping once or twice.
Bring the quinoa and broth to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir once, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until all of the water has evaporated. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and dump it out on to a large dinner plate, spreading it out over the plate so it cools a little.
Meanwhile, oil the grates of a gas grill and heat the grill to high. Grill the chicken (without the marinade) until the internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir the kale and just slightly warm quinoa together. Divide the salad between 4 serving dishes, drizzle some of the leftover vinaigrette over the salad, and top with some dried cranberries, Asiago, and sliced chicken. Serve immediately. Leftover vinaigrette can be stored for a few weeks in the fridge.
maple Dijon grilled chicken is a Smells Like Home original | kale and quinoa salad inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Who’s excited for Cinco de Mayo? Can you believe it’s only a little over a week away?! How fast did these first four months of the year go?! Pretty soon I’ll be sipping frozen mojitos on the deck [that we've yet to build] next to the pool [that looks like a good ole New England winter got the best of it]. Well, friends, these baked BBQ pork taquitos hit on all the notes I’m excited for in the next couple of months, even if we’re still a solid month away from opening the pool.
Perfect for any Cinco de Mayo celebration and easy enough to throw together for a quick dinner, these taquitos are a huge new favorite in our house, followed very closely by the original taquitos we love so much. And because I always tend to overdo things and I always end up slow cooking a ginormous pork butt, I often have a couple bags of pulled pork stashed in the freezer for meals like this one (or these BBQ chicken burgers!). It’s not always bad to be a pack rat, is it?
Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a large baking sheet lightly with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, BBQ sauce, paprika, chile powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, lime juice, brown sugar, liquid smoke, red pepper flakes, and ¼ tsp salt until well combined. Stir in the onions, scallions, cilantro, and hot sauce. Fold the pork and cheese into the mixture.
Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 15 seconds and keep them between two kitchen towels on your work surface. Using a medium-size cookie scoop, line the middle of a tortilla with a heaping scoop (about 2-3 tablespoons) of the filling mixture (leave the rest of the tortillas inside the towels). Roll the tortilla up tightly around the filling and place it seam-side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling, spacing the assembled taquitos evenly on the baking sheet.
Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle a very small pinch of kosher salt onto each taquito – don’t skip this as the salt finishes off the taquitos. Bake 15-20 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Serve with any of the suggested dipping options above (or your own!).
Can you believe it!? Today marks 7 years since I started blogging. SEVEN!! I wrote last year what it felt like all those years ago, fumbling around the kitchen, never straying from a recipe. These cream puffs are a testament to how far I feel I’ve come. They are not difficult by any stretch, but the thought of making them intimidated the heck out of me for years. And if you’ve ever been New England’s major agricultural fair, The Big E, you’ll know that I have pretty high standards for cream puffs. Cream puffs as big as your face. I kid you not.
The pastry shell of the these cream puffs is a basic pâte à choux dough, a simple and timeless blend of pantry staples. The recipe is made partially on the stovetop and finished in food processor and you’ll pipe the soft pastry paste into rounds on a baking sheet, baking them off until they are puffy and golden. A super hot oven allows for the paste to bake into puffed-up pastry shells that you’ll fill with pastry cream. Or whipped cream. Or ice cream (hello profiteroles!).
I chose pastry cream this time because well…it’s pastry cream. I could faceplant into a bowl of it and never feel bad about myself. You can pipe the pastry cream directly into the shells or slice them open and slather a layer of cream between the halves. When eaten fresh, the cream puff shells are ever so slightly crispy with a burst of cold and creamy pastry cream nestled inside. Needless to say, they are insane. The two of us polished off a batch of these cream puffs in the course of a weekend with no regrets whatsoever. #foodbloggerproblems And with the ever-difficult decision of what to make for Easter dessert looming over me, I think I may need to make these babies reappear.
These cream puffs with pastry cream can be fully assembled in advance, frozen, and thawed without issue. I tested doing this and the only issue I found when thawed is that the pastry shells aren't crispy any longer. It didn't deter from the taste at all, and the pastry cream was still delicious, so if you're OK with a soft cream puff this would be a great make ahead dessert. Otherwise, see the instructions below for freezing and thawing the unfilled pastry puffs.
For the pastry cream:
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of table salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
For the cream puff pastry:
2 whole large eggs plus 1 large egg white
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
2 tbsp whole milk
6 tbsp water
1 ½ tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp table salt
2 ½ oz all-purpose flour, sifted
To make the pastry cream: Heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until well-combined. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar into the eggs, and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
When the half-and-half mixture reaches a full simmer, slowly whisk the simmering half-and-half into the yolk mixture by the ladleful to temper the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
To make the cream puff pastry: Beat the eggs and egg white in a liquid measuring cup until combined. You should have ½ cup - discard the excess. Set aside. Ready your food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Grease the bottom of a large baking sheet with butter or cooking/baking spray and the line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Once the mixtures fully boils and the butter is melted, immediately remove the pan from the heat and beat in the flour with a wooden spoon until it combines and clears the sides of the pan.
Return the pan to low heat and using a heatproof rubber spatula, cook the mixture while you stir it constantly with a smearing motion on the bottom of the pan. Continue this for about 3 minutes. The mixture should be slightly shiny, look like wet sand, and tiny beads of fat from the butter should appear on the bottom of the saucepan. If you have an instant thermometer, the temperature should read 175° to 180° F.
Immediately transfer the mixture to the food processor. Leave the feed tube open and process (not pulse) for 10 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the eggs through the feed tube in a steady stream. When the eggs have been added, stop processing and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Process for another 30 seconds, until the mixture turns to a thick, smooth, and sticky paste.
Preheat the oven to 425° F with a rack in the center of the oven. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip with the paste. Pipe the paste into 24 1½-inch rounds on the baking sheet. Dip the back of a small spoon in some cold water and gently smooth out the irregular tops of the rounds.
Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 375° F - do not open the oven door. Bake for another 10 minutes until the puffs are golden brown and fairly firm - they should not be soft and squishy. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and using a clean kitchen towel, hold each puff while you slide a ¾-inch slit into the side to allow the steam to escape with a paring knife. Return the baking sheet to the oven, prop the door open with a wooden spoon, and allow the puff to dry out and crisp up for about 45 minutes. Transfer the puffs from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.
At this point, you can store them at room temperature for up to 24 hours or freeze them for up to 1 month. If you freeze them, thaw them to room temperature then heat them on a baking sheet at 300° F for 5 to 8 minutes, until crispy. Alternatively, see my note above for assembling and freezing the puffs in advance.
To assemble the cream puffs: Once the pastry cream has chilled for at least 3 hours, slice a small X into the side of each pastry puff. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch round tip with pastry cream and pipe some cream into the X of each pastry puff. You'll know when you've piped enough cream because the cream will start to either push out the opposite side of the puff or it will start to push the pastry bag out. Dust the tops of the filled cream puffs with some sifted powdered sugar and serve immediately.
This maple Dijon vinaigrette has basically rocked my world over the past couple of weeks. I actually made it back in the fall for the first time to dress my sweet and salty harvest salad but I’ve been making a batch a couple times a week and eating it on salads for lunch and marinating chicken in it for dinner. I recently committed myself to eating more leafy greens (other than romaine lettuce) and this dressing it helping me to stay on track. To say that my favorite [new] lunch salad – chopped kale, crumbled gorgonzola or feta, sliced almonds, and a chopped pear all drizzled with this dressing – has been something I totally look forward to every day, it’s got to be something pretty excellent.
Whisk the maple syrup, ¼ cup olive oil, mustard, vinegar, and salt together in a medium bowl or shake it all together in a mason jar. Whisk in additional olive oil in small increments up to 1/3 cup total until you reach your desired dressing consistency. Vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
This is most definitely the time of year when I start craving quick and healthy meals and with the longer days and gorgeous weather, I don’t want to spend a ton of time cooking dinner. That’s where these crispy baked fish tacos with margarita slaw come in. A quick dip and roll through a basic flour-egg-panko trio and then 12-15 minutes in a high-heat oven is all this fish needs. I considered using our favorite beer-battered fish for these tacos but they do take a little extra time and contain considerably more calories that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice.
While my crispy fish tacos were stellar with some super easy margarita slaw (see also this honey lime grilled shrimp for more on my love of this margarita slaw) and a drizzle of sour cream, Kyle ate the fish as traditional fish sticks with some tartar sauce. One baked fish sticks recipe eaten two ways! We both declared the fish to be one of the best “keeper” recipes we had in ages and since I’m a total sucker for tacosofallsorts, this one absolutely makes the list of favorite taco recipes now too.
To make the crispy baked fish sticks: Preheat oven to 450° F. Position an oven rack in the top third of the oven. Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with vegetable oil (a pastry brush helps here).
In three shallow dishes: stir the panko, salt, and cayenne together in one dish, whisk the eggs in the second dish, and add the flour to the third dish. Roll each piece of fish in the flour, tapping off the excess, then coat each piece with egg, and lastly, coat each piece in panko. Press the panko lightly onto the fish pieces to ensure it sticks well before placing them on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.
To make the margarita slaw: Place cabbage and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, lime and orange juices, lime zest, tequila, and Tobasco. Pour over cabbage and toss to coat completely. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble: Layer the slaw on top of a tortilla, top with couple of hot fish sticks, drizzle with sour cream, and sprinkle on some chopped scallions. Serve with lime wedges.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought cornflakes but there was something about these cornflake marshmallow chocolate chip cookies that completely hooked me. And yes, the name itself is quite a mouthful, but I guess it’s sort of fitting considering I couldn’t keep these cookies out of my mouth. Ha!
One might think that you just mix some cereal into a cookie batter and call it a day but these cookies, as trashy as they do sound, are a bit more “upper class” than that. With the cornflakes, you’ll first make what likens to a big crumbly bunch of slightly salty cornflake crack (oh my gah! Keep that stuff at a distance while you make the dough!!) that you’ll mix into marshmallow chocolate chip dough. That mix of sweet and salty gets me every.single.time. Like with these salted caramel brownies and these salted caramel cupcakes.
The cookies bake up with crunchy edges, soft centers, and gooey marshmallows running amok throughout. And they are big cookies – not as monstrous as my s’mores stuffed chocolate chip cookies however – but I felt like they baked better from the freezer than they did from the fridge, as the recipe instructs, in that the marshmallows weren’t so apt to run all over the cookie sheet. So don’t be afraid to flash-freeze the portioned dough and bake them off later – you’ll thank me when you find the extras weeks later during a must-have-something-sweet freezer raid.
Sweet and salty cornflake marshmallow chocolate chip cookies that hail from the famed Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC.
For the cornflake crunch:
5 cups cornflakes
½ cup milk powder (regular, malted, or diastolic)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
9 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the cookies:
16 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 cups (about ¾ of the full recipe) Cornflake Crunch
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 ¼ cups mini marshmallows
To make the cornflake crunch: Preheat oven to 275° F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add the cornflakes to a very large bowl and crush them up with your hands until they are about the size of small peas. Stir in the milk powder and salt and then the melted butter, stirring everything together until well-combined. You should have small clusters. Spread the cornflake clusters out on the baking sheet in one even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once, until they are toasty and golden brown. The clusters will crisp as they cool. Cool the cornflake crunch to room temperature on a wire rack before adding to the batter.
To make the cookies: Cream the butter and sugars at medium-high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating for 7-8 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. With the mixture on low, stir in the cornflake crunch, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. With a large cookie/ice cream scoop, portion out 1/3 cup rounds of dough onto the sheets. Lightly flatten the rounds into discs with your fingers (see photo above). If you have extra cornflake crunch, feel free to sprinkle on a little extra over the discs. Wrap the baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before baking. You can also flash-free the dough at this point - freeze completely on the baking sheet and store the frozen dough in plastic zip-top bags for up to 1 month in the freezer.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375° F. Space the dough 4 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 12-16 minutes, until the cookies are light brown and turn puffy in the centers - they will spread as they bake. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring the cookies to the racks to cool completely. Cookies will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
So last week I told you guys about this fabulous cilantro lime rice. It’s pretty insane. Today, I’ve got these grilled fajita chicken burrito bowls for you. Enter that cilantro lime rice again! A homemade, copycat version of Chipotle’s chicken burrito bowls? You’ve got it right here.
The chicken hails from my favorite first-grill-of-the-season recipe, these grilled chicken fajitas. They’re pretty insane too. I know for a fact that both Josie and Annie also make them to kick off their grilling seasons so I’m positive that I’m not stolidly obsessed with them for no reason. Anyway…I busted out my juicer a few weeks ago to quickly turn my limes into the chicken marinade, fired up the grill, and threw these burrito bowls together. As I mentioned last week, I made the cilantro lime rice with brown rice but the beauty of the 40 minutes it takes to cook is that you can marinate and grill the chicken aaaaand prep your toppings all while the rice is cooking. I love when dinner comes together like that!
They’re so much like the real thing that I could almost say I would never need to eat at Chipotle again. Almost. Because, there’s always lunch with Joan again tomorrow. (Hi Joanie!!)
Whisk the lime juice, four tablespoons of the canola oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, jalapeño, minced cilantro, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl. Reserve ¼ cup of the marinade and transfer the rest to a large, shallow casserole dish. Add the chicken to the dish, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 15-20 minutes.
While the chicken marinates, make the rice. If the rice finishes before the chicken, keep it warm (covered) in the saucepan. Add the black or pinto beans to a small saucepan along with the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook the beans for about 10-12 minutes, until they are soft and the liquid thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, heat the grill to high then turn two of the burners down to medium, keeping the third on high. Brush the grill grates with a tablespoon of oil.
Place the chicken (without the marinade, which you can discard now) on the hot end of the grill. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, until nice grill marks emerge and it is cooked through (165° F). Remove the chicken from the grill and keep it warm on a platter under foil.
Add the reserved ¼ cup marinade to a large, shallow bowl. Slice the chicken on the diagonal and add the chicken to the bowl, tossing to coat well with the marinade.
Divide the rice between serving bowls and top with beans, chicken, salsa, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. Serve hot.
Raise your hand if Chipotle is a dangerous experience for you? Are you with me?? Sometimes there’s nothing that makes my week better than a quick random email from my friend Joan around 11:30, when I’m already starving for lunch and counting the minutes until noon, that asks if I’m free for lunch. Chipotle is usually our go-to since it’s quick and central to both of our offices…and it always always always hits the spot.
I’ve made my own burrito bowls at home over the past couple of years, sometimes with rice and others with quinoa, but I always feel like the rice gets a little lost. And if I’m going to eat rice, I really do want to taste it. Enter this cilantro lime rice. It’s a recipe that’s been kicking around my consciousness for years and with it sounding exactly like what Chipotle serves, I finally put it to good use a couple weeks ago with our most recent round of bowls. And honestly, it was the first thing Kyle commented on after he dug into his bowl. We both loved it equally though; he was just the first one with the fork in his mouth. Ha! With just enough tang from the lime juice and freshness from the cilantro, this cilantro lime rice is definitely the way to go for any Tex Mex meal.
I used brown rice in this recipe since we very rarely eat white rice. It takes about 40 minutes to cook but since it's a healthier option to white rice, I don't mind the extra time it takes.
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or water), divided
½ tsp salt
½ cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
Combine the rice, 2 cups broth, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring the broth to a boil, stir once then turn the heat to low, cover the pot and cook according to package directions. (White rice will take about 15 minutes; brown rice will take about 40 minutes.)
Towards the end of the cooking time, add the remaining 2 tablespoons broth, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor (with the steel blade) and pulse the ingredients until well blended.
When the rice has finished cooking, fluff it up with a fork then stir the cilantro-lime mixture into the rice until well-combined. Serve the rice hot.