Hard cider braised chicken tacos with avocado apple pomegranate salsa

Another Tuesday. Another taco dinner. But these ‘no ordinary tacos’ were by far one of the best I’ve ever prepared.

Ohhh the avocado pomegranate salsa! It’s like ” Hey Summer, meet fall.”  This gorgeous salsa (and I rarely use the word gorgeous) is great for dipping, topping, or just looking at!

Chicken loves hard apple cider, especially when braised in it. And the chicken turned out as tender as crockpot pulled chicken without having to let it sit in a crockpot overnight. In order to achieve all the gloriousness of braising,  you must deglaze the pan and scrape up all the browned bits. Don’t skip this step. The bits are full of flavor that you want to incorporate into the sauce.

Can we talk about this salsa some more? How can three ingredients get along so well? Avocado, apple, and pomegranate with a little help of Poblano pepper, green onions, cilantro and lime juice. That’s it! So simple and yet so frigging good. I don’t consider my kids picky eaters, but I totally thought this salsa was not going to impress. Boy was I wrong. We ended up fighting for the leftover on a epic tortilla chip battle where everyone won.

Hard cider braised chicken tacos with avocado apple pomegranate salsa

  • Serves: 4
  • Category:

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 3 chicken breasts (aprox. 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt to taste (I used aprox 2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups hard apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (optional)

For the salsa

  • 1 chopped apple of your choice (I used Fuji)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 chopped green onions (white and green part)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Poblano pepper (can substitute for green bell pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon or more of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  1. Add the chicken to a bowl. Add the minced chipotle, smoked paprika, cumin, and salt. Toss and coat chicken with seasonings.
  2. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until browned. Remove and reserve. Reduce the heat slightly and add the onions and garlic cooking it slightly.
  3. Pour in the hard cider. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, add the chicken breasts, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  4. As the chicken braises, make the salsa. Add all the ingredients to a bowl. Toss well to combine, taste and adjust if needed. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
  5. When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and shred it. Add the shredded chicken back to the sauce in the pot and toss.
  6. Add the shredded chicken to a warmed tortilla (I used corn tortilla and warmed it directly in the stove burner) and top with the salsa. Sprinkle chopped cilantro.

 

 

Citrus Chipotle Chicken Salad Sandwich

You're going to want to try this chicken salad

This is no ordinary, boring, mayo loaded chicken salad sandwich. I love all the different flavors and textures in this chicken salad.  Best of all, it’s actually half of the guilty! Use greek yogurt in addition to mayo and you get an extra creamy and tangy flavor without the extra calories. Then, add a trio of spices– cumin, chipotle powder and plenty of fresh chopped cilantro – along with sweet onions and lime juice for a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor. Piled high on top of a croissant with some radish slices, or just mounded on top of of greens, this chicken salad is anything but boring.

Start by roasting or boiling the chicken breasts. I used leftover chicken I roasted in the slow cocker.

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Chop the sweet onion and place it in a large bowl that gives you enough room to mix all ingredients thoroughly.

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Chop the cilantro really really fine and place it in the bowl.

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Get your hand all over the chicken breasts and start shredding it. To the bowl it goes. Add the Greek yogurt and mayo.

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Finish by adding the cumin, paprika, chipotle, salt and lime juice.

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Mix it well and give it a try. Adjust the flavors to taste by adding more yogurt. mayo or spices. It’s always a good idea to start with less and add more as you go. You can ditch the mayo all together and go full yogurt for even less guilt.

Citrus Chipotle Chicken Salad Sandwich
 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 shredded chicken breasts (roasted or boiled chicken bone in preferable)
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup of greek yogurt
  • ½ sweet onion chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro (chopped)
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • some lime zests (no more than ¼ tsp)
  • Juice of one lime (approximately 2 tbsp)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Serve the salad on croissants, or on your favorite kind of bread. For a fun fix, try rolling it in a tortilla.

 

 

 

What I learned from Martha Stewart

Stuffed Chicken Breast Rolls

When I first saw Martha Stewart on TV many years ago after I just moved here from Brazil, I  thought it was something seriously wrong with her. The slow talking, slow moving, the half smiles, the irritating hair in the eye, the missing sense of humor. What exactly is she? A baker?Designer? Not a chef, not a decorator…Wedding planner? I learned later that boring Martha was is an American icon and everyone loved loves to hate her.

I’m not exactly a fan but she has my respect. After all she has survived fame, prison, divorce, building an empire twice, and she has taught me how to pound a chicken breast properly.

Now, since I couldn’t find a video of Mrs. Stewart herself pounding the chicken breast here are the non-illustrated directions:

  1. Take a full chicken breast and place it on your cutting board.
  2. Take a piece of plastic wrap 2X bigger than the breast itself and put it over the chicken breast.
  3. With a meat mallet start pounding the chicken. Start from the center and work your way out. Use short and even strokes.

I use this method frequently to make chicken piccata, chicken scaloppini and chicken rolls. Stuffed chicken breast rolls is a quick ‘make ahead’ recipe. I usually stuff it with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and basil, ham and provolone, and even stuffing. First you need to pound the chicken breast like you were Martha and then:

  1. Season the thin fillets with salt/pepper/garlic powder.
  2. Place a mound of stuffing on each breast.
  3. Wrap and roll the fillets over the stuffing.
  4. Secure breasts with toothpicks.
  5. Place rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 380F for at least 40 minutes (depending on the size of the rolls)

Wrap the rolls in bacon or prosciutto for extra flavor. If we could only do the same to Martha Stewart!!!!

 

Spicy Apricot Roasted Drumsticks

Last week’s meal planning worked for the most part. We had one ‘cheat’ dinner on Tuesday so instead of Apricot chicken drums we had Costco frozen turkey burgers, which are surprisingly delicious, somewhat healthy, and a pretty good deal.

I’m actually digging this whole meal planning drill. Baseball season is on and kids have a pretty tight schedule with all the after school activities. Having some meals prepared ahead and other dinners already planned really helped me to save time and money.

The plan this week is to keep it as simple as possible. I know…duh…we all like simple but it’s hard to come up with healthy and simple dishes. Tonight I made the Spicy Apricot Chicken Drumsticks (recipe below) I didn’t get to make last week. We had it for dinner and we all loved it. I’m glad we have leftover for Monday’s dinner.

I’m planning to make ground turkey taco plate with black beans (frozen batch), rice and fresh guacamole for Tuesday’s dinner.  Wednesday is Chicken Parmesan (with frozen chicken strips) and Caesar salad with homemade croutons.  Thursday is shopping day but I’m thinking to make a quick fried brown rice and fish. Honey sesame baked salmon will be a great choice with the rice. Friday is blank.

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SPICY APRICOT CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

(inspired by Jessica Seinfeld from Do it Delicious)

For each pound of drumsticks (skin off as much as you can trim):

  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of: turmeric, curry, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder
  • ½ cayenne pepper

Mix salt and spices. Rub the chicken legs with it and forget about them in the fridge (Ziploc or airtight container) for at least 3 hrs. Mine marinated overnight.

Preheat oven at 400F. Place legs on a Pyrex (discard any chicken juice left in the bag no matter how good it smells or looks. Trash it).

Now is the fun part.  You’ll need approximately 1/3 of cup of apricot jelly for each pound of chicken.  Spread the jelly over the drumsticks and with your hands (no messy brushes please. Your hands are the best tool here. Trust me on this!) Make sure to cover each leg with the jelly.

Roast it for approximately 20 minutes. Turn each leg and roast it for additional 20-25 minutes.  I roasted the drumsticks tonight at 400F (roast setting) for 50 minutes (25 each side).

The Deal

Sprouts Chicken Drumsticks $0.69 ends  03/12

 

 

Changes – but not in the menu

I’m starting a new job in 2 weeks. The last time I had anything to do with the Corp world was in…let’s just say, a long time ago. The opportunity kind of stumbled upon me and next thing I know I was signing the offer letter. I feel fortunate, excited, nervous and kind of lost on a emotional trip that it’s just not worth it to describe because after all this blog is about “dealicious cooking”.

I’ll continue preparing home meals according to whatever is on sale. Because I’ll no longer be afforded the luxury of traveling from one market to the next in order to maximize our food shopping savings, I’ll have to be extra good about picking the market with the best deals.

If the whole working-cooking-mom succeeds I’ll consider investing in a freezer. Meanwhile, I’m going to use the space I have in our small freezer wisely. Beans, meatballs and stews are on my list of foods that freeze well and can be stocked in small quantities.

The real challenge will be to ignore the MEGA Whole Foods I have right by my work and just try to take reasonable advantage of it.

Wish me luck!

Here is what we’ve been eating lately:

Spanish Tortilla with zucchini (Potato, onion, zucchini frittata)

Frango Ensopado (Chicken thighs cooked in the a mushroom-onion-bell pepper broth)

NY Steak, pear walnut balsamic salad and roasted purple potatoes


Because we love curry

Eggplant Potato Curry with Brown Rice and Turmeric Indian Celery Seeds Marinated Chicken Breast. Last night’s dinner.

For the Curry you’ll need:

1 diced potato, 1 diced eggplant, 1 onion, 1 jar of Seeds of Change Jalfrezi sauce (find $1.00 off coupon at MamboSprouts.com)

Sauté the sliced onion in 1 tbsp of canola oil. Add potato and eggplant. Sauté for 5 minutes and add sauce with 1/2 cup of water. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

For the Chicken Marinate:

Juice of 1 Lime, 1tbsp Turmeric, 1 tbsp Celery seeds, 1 tsp granulated onion, salt (1 1/2 tsp per chicken breast approximately), 1 hour marinating. Pan fry or grill it.

If you interested to try this simmer sauce, get a $1.00 coupon at MamboSprouts.com or look for the Mambo Sprouts coupon book at Sprouts or Whole Foods. I’ve tried 3 different simmer sauces from Seeds of Change and they’re delicious (and organic).

No, I don’t get paid to blog about any products and even if I did I would never rave about something I don’t like. Poor quality or nutritional value is not included on this blog recipes, pics or links (except for Twinkies which I plan to try for the first time one of these days and definitely blog about!)

Cheers!

Yesterday’s dessert, Today’s dinner, Tomorrow’s lunch

The kids loved this cute treat for dessert last night

Julia Child’s Spice mix it’s AWESOME! A really great rub for chicken breast. The kitchen still smells like Julia. The Lundberg butternut squash risotto (I added some dry cranberries to it) was the perfect pairing with the spiced grilled chicken.

I bought way too many heirloom tomatoes (seriously, organic for $1.99 lb???? That’s a deal) and decided to try this almost gluten free tart.  I started mixing almond meal, 1 egg, olive oil, salt, dry herbs and whole wheat flour. Pressed it on a tart pan. Baked until brown. Sliced tomatoes on top, minced garlic, mozzarella and parmesan cheese and dry basil. Baked for another 12 minutes and here is a surprisingly filling and healthy lunch for tomorrow.

Week 1: Thursday

I love “Arroz con Pollo” but it’s a lot of work. I cut some huge corners on this recipe and dinner was a breeze. I cooked the rice in the morning using a rice cooker and I started to cook and assembled the dish 40 minutes before dinner time. I hold the cayenne pepper so the kids would not be intimidated by the heat. They enjoyed the dish and they liked that their veggies were already mixed in the food.

4 skinless chicken thighs

4-6 skinless chicken legs

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion diced

1 red bell pepper diced

2 cups of diced tomato

3 garlic cloves minced

1 cup of diced carrots

1 cup of frozen green peas

2 cups of cooked long grain rice

1 chicken bouillon cube (I use Better Bouillon)

1 tbsp of salt

1 cup of water

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tsp of dry thyme

1 tsp of dry achiote (Sprouts and Ralphs carry it or you can substitute with paprika)

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Juice of one lemon

Start by cooking the rice on a rice cook or stove top. Add 1 tbsp of salt to the water. Salt the chicken lightly. On a large casserole or fry pan brown the chicken (approximately 6 minutes each side) on high heat. Remove chicken and reserve. Reduce heat and in the same pan saute the onions until transparent. Add the bell pepper and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add carrot, tomato, peas and water. Increase heat, add chicken bouillon cube and cook it until dissolved. Add all dry spices. Dissolve. Add chicken bone side up. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Turn chicken and simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove chicken and reserve. Add more water if gravy is too dry. Add cooked rice mixing it well. Let it cook for 3 minutes in low heat until the rice has soaked all the gravy. Add chicken. Dress it with the lemon juice before serving it.