31 May, 2012

Mango Almond Rice

I have diagnosed myself with "cooking fright". On those nights when it is just myself and Mr. SP I will easily knock dinner out of the park with a tasty dish we both enjoy. However, as soon as I invite a friend over for dinner or I am in charge of bringing a side dish to dinner, I freeze. My mind goes blank and I second guess myself every step of the way. What if my guests don't like seafood (broccoli, asparagus, cilantro, mango, etc). So I am currently treating this diagnosis by taking two chill pills a day (i.e. dark chocolate) and drinking plenty of water. And I think my treatment is working so today I will share a successful side dish I created for dinner at a friend's house. 

I prefer this dish served at room temperature so it is perfect for warm summer night cook outs.

 Mango Almond Rice
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
2 cups uncooked Jasmine rice*
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
4 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sliced almonds
1 mango, diced

Heat olive oil on medium and cook onions for 3-4 minutes. Add rice and stir for minute until mixed with oil and onions. Add broth, water, and lemon juice. Allow rice to come to a boil then turn to simmer on low for about 18-20 minutes until done. Remove rice from heat and once at room temperature add almonds and mango. Serve.

*Jasmine_rice is a long grain rice that is more flavorful and less sticky than white rice. This dish can be made with white or brown rice also.

18 May, 2012

Salsa Friday!

Happy Friday friends! Today we dance. And we make salsa.
The variations of salsa are endless and the uses are infinite.
Brighten up fajitas.
Pile on top of burgers.
Stir into pasta salads.
Scoop up with a chip.
Spice up your eggs.
Somebody stop me! No, Don't.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa
(makes about 6-8 cups)
7 Roma tomatoes
4 ears of corn, cut off of cob
2 green bellpeppers
1/4 red onion
1/4 white onion
2 jalapeno's
1 14 oz can black beans
1/4 cup cilantro
juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic

Dice veggies*, add beans, cilantro, lime juice, salt, cumin and garlic. Add more salt, cumin and garlic to taste if necessary. Refrigerate for about an hour and let flavors fuse before serving.

*I cheated and used this nifty little dicer thingy at the bottom of the picture. I got it from Williams-Sonoma and rarely use it except for salsa. It saves alot of time and the uniform dice is beautiful as you can see in the top picture. I apologize I do not have a picture of the salsa and my excuse is that we ate it too fast. Believe it.

07 May, 2012

Chill Out With Chicken Pasta Salad

When it starts warming up, I start to crave cool, light and refreshing plates. Seems natural, right?
I think so; however, some of my family members don't think like this. I have been at the beach sweating it out in the sun with my family when a conversation ensued about someone craving some type of stew (gumbo, chili). And most everyone else there agreed and chimed in with "yum". So I suppose I was the odd man out because that sounded like the last thing I wanted to eat. But that is okay. I love them and they love me and we are different. That is a fact.

Lately I have been making a chicken pasta salad served chilled. It works well for big groups and leftovers are even better the next day. Below is the recipe for the ingredients I found in my fridge/pantry.  This one seems to be Italian but you could do a Southwest version with corn, black beans, and cumin or an Asian version with snow peas, carrots, almonds and sesame oil. You can go around the world with this. Create!

And report back.
What do you put in your pasta salad?

Chilled Chicken Pasta Salad
Serves 4-5 as a meal
1 lb tri color rotini, cooked
1 lb chicken breast, poached
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
14 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp oregano
14 oz can of kidney beans
1 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
14 oz can black olives, sliced

Let pasta and chicken come to room temperature or cool in fridge. Cut chicken into bite size pieces or shred. Combine pasta, chicken, and veggies. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top, add salt, garlic powder, oregano and parsley and toss. Top with shredded cheese if desired. Serve room temperature or out of the fridge.