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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 56

A dinner salad was a must on this week’s menu. The temperatures have been in the 80s and the days are getting longer and longer. A perfect reason to enjoy a cool, flavorful salad with grilled chicken. I browsed through the grilled chicken salad recipes from Gourmet on Epicurious and this salad was the standout.

It was super easy to prepare – the chicken only has to marinate for 15 minutes and while it’s grilling you can prepare the tomato mixture and plate the salad. This salad is a great healthy and quick option for a weeknight dinner.

Our Easter weekend was awesome! We celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday (say happy birthday to Mema – she reads the blog!!!) and cooked up a storm. I baked my favorite Lady Strawberry Cake and the crowd pleasing Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. I can’t resist sharing this picture of Mema with her TWO birthday cakes!

I’m teaching FOUR BodyPump classes this week. I predict that I will be sore by the time Sunday rolls around. We’re teaching the new release and it’s really tough – the squats and lunges make me want to cry! And I have some news for you guys…I am going to register for the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow. I’m so nervous to commit to a race that is 6  months out but it’s a big goal of mine to run a big city marathon and I’ve heard great things about this race. I’ll start slowly building my base in the coming months and really ramp up my training in July. Ahh! I can’t believe I’m 100% committing to another marathon.

And now salad!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart (YUM!)

Grilled Chicken Salad
(Recipe source Gourmet, August 2005)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup olive oil
6 chicken breast halves with skin and bones (3 pounds total) – I used 2 boneless skinless breasts and halved the lime vinaigrette
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
2 medium shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (1/2 cup)
8 ounces mesclun, thinly sliced (6 cups) – I used baby greens
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced – omitted because the store was out of basil – so disappointing :(
Sliced avocado (if desired – I added this)

Directions:

PREPARE THE CHICKEN AND SALAD
Whisk together lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking.

Transfer chicken to a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag and add 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette, then seal bag. Marinate chicken at room temperature 15 minutes.

Transfer another 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette to a bowl, stir in tomatoes and shallots, and marinate until chicken is finished cooking. Transfer another 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette to a large bowl and set aside for cooked chicken.

Remove chicken from bag, discarding marinade, and sprinkle all over with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

TO COOK CHICKEN ON A CHARCOAL GRILL
Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney starter of charcoal briquettes (80 to 100) and pour them evenly over 1 side of bottom rack (you will have a double or triple layer of briquettes).

When charcoal turns grayish white (after 15 to 20 minutes) and you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds, sear chicken breasts, starting with skin sides down, on a lightly oiled rack over coals, uncovered, turning once, until well browned, 5 to 6 minutes total.

Move browned chicken breasts to side of grill with no coals and cook, covered with lid, turning over occasionally, until just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes more.

TO COOK CHICKEN USING A GAS GRLL
Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then adjust heat to medium high heat.

Sear chicken on lightly oiled grill rack, lid down, until well browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and arrange all seared chicken on rack above shut-off burner. Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, turning over once, until just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees.

TOSS GRILLED CHICKEN IN VINAIGRETTE
Transfer hot grilled chicken to large bowl with lime vinaigrette and turn to coat. Leave in bowl 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter and loosely cover with foil.

ASSEMBLE SALAD
Toss together mesclun, basil, tomato mixture and salt to taste. Slice chicken and arrange over salad. Drizzle with some lime vinaigrette and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

*Note: I used 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and cut the lime vinaigrette in half.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 55

An awesome grilled pork tenderloin to celebrate the first 80+ degree day of the year! It’s been such a cold winter and our recent bout of Spring weather is energizing and refreshing. Brandon, Sullie and I went for a run after work today and then came home and got to work on this delicious dinner!

I will only buy pork tenderloin when it is on sale and lucky for us it was on special this week. I remembered seeing this recipe and thought it would be a great for Spring grilling. This pork would have been great grilled with the marinade alone but the addition of the jalapeno onion marmalade really took it over the top. It was so easy to have Brandon outside grilling the pork tenderloin and our favorite grilled sweet potatoes while I worked on the marmalade and green beans. Teamwork!

Quick update on the fitness front. First, workouts have been solid this week. I’ve taught BodyPump 3 out of the last 4 days (teaching the new release – BodyPump 73!) and also squeezed in yoga and some runs. Feeling strong but getting a little tired towards the end of the week. Legs are pretty dead and my back is really sore. Still hoping to fit in one more yoga practice tomorrow morning before hitting the road this weekend. We’re going to visit my grandmother to celebrate her birthday and Easter!

Hope to have some updates for you over the weekend. My dad and I will be in the kitchen together so you know that means some good things are coming!  Also, I’ll be baking this beautiful Lady Strawberry Cake for Mema’s birthday dinner! Yum!!! :grin:

One Year Ago: Crescent Breakfast Casserole (one of the most popular recipes on my blog!)

Grilled Garlic Lime Pork Tenderloin with Jalapeno Onion marmalade
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, September 1995)

Ingredients:

FOR THE MARINADE
3 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Cayenne to taste
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), trimmed

FOR THE MARMALADE
1 large onion, cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 fresh jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup water

FOR THE MARINADE
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine pork and marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out excess air and marinate 12-48 hours.
FOR THE PORK
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade and let excess drip off. Cook about 4 minutes per side (4 sides) until internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes (resist the urge to cut in – let the temperature continue to rise and the juices redistribute).
FOR THE MARMALADE
While the pork is grilling, cook onions over medium heat in a large heavy skillet until softened, about 5 minutes. (I used cast iron – always do to caramelize onions!) Season with salt and pepper. Add jalapenos and cook for 1 minute. Add honey and cook another minute, stirring frequently. Add vinegar and simmer, stirring until almost all liquid is evaporated. Add water and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened and onions are very tender, about 10 minutes. Season marmalade with salt and pepper.
Cut pork into slices and serve with marmalade.
Yield: 2-3 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 19

I have said this before but I have to say it again. Weekly menu planning and shopping makes life so much easier. I have converted so many friends to this practice and believe me, it’s life changing. First, you save tons of stress by not having to worry about what to make for dinner and having time to make it to the store. Second, you save money by planning meals based on weekly specials and only making one trip. On average I spend between $65-$80 a week on our groceries. Whenever I go to the store for just one meal, I never leave without spending $20-$30. That would quickly add up if you were making nightly trips. Also, if you don’t already have a plan, there’s the added temptation to go out instead of cook.

All that said, tilapia was on sale for $3.99 a pound this week. It was just too good of a deal to pass up and tilapia is one of the few fish that I can get Brandon to eat without grumbling. I found this recipe on Epicurious and was surprised to see that it had received 456 reviews and had a 4-fork rating. It sounded like something we’d really enjoy. This recipe was so simple to make. You could have this on the table in 20 minutes – easy. The chili lime butter was so full of flavor and wonderful melted over the pan sauteed tilapia. Brandon told me at least 5 times during dinner that he loved this preparation and wanted to add it to the regular rotation. We also decided that the chili lime butter would be good melted over grilled flank or skirt steak.

Don’t be scared of the peppers in the butter. The flavors are very balanced and it’s not overly spicy. I had a couple bites with some kick but nothing too bad. The lime juice and zest really add a brightness to the dish. This is a great fish dish to add to your collection.

Chili Lime Tilapia
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, July 2003)

Ingredients:

FOR CHILI LIME BUTTER
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chile (preferably red), including seeds (I used jalapeno because it’s all I had)
1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR FISH
6 (5- to 6-oz) pieces skinless tilapia fillet or farm-raised striped bass fillets with skin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

FOR THE CHILI LIME BUTTER
Mix together the butter, peppers, shallots, lime zest and juice and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE FISH
Rinse fish and pat dry. Generously salt and pepper and then dredge in flour and shake off excess. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmers. Carefully place fish into skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until fish is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees.

TO SERVE
Serve each piece with a dollop of chili lime butter. The butter will melt and spread over the fish.

Yield: 6 servings
(I made the full recipe of butter and only 2 tilapia fillets. We had a little bit of leftover butter but not tons – we are fatties and it was delicious! We kept spreading more on! :) )

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