Orange-Guajillo Pulled Chicken Tacos

Tacos are always a welcome dinner in my house. New varieties are even more welcome. 🙂

These chicken tacos were a mildly sweet from the fresh orange juice. Because the seeds are removed from the chilies, the finished dish was not spicy at all. They were really delicious with all of the assorted toppings.

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. We ate the tacos with refried beans, brown Basmati rice, and street corn on the side. Fresh and fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ounce guajillo chilies (5 medium), stemmed, seeded and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 4 large oranges)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or Mexican oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 9 thighs, about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • warm tortillas, for serving (I used Trader Joe’s corn-wheat tortillas)
  • diced white onion, for serving
  • sliced radishes, for serving
  • cilantro leaves, for serving
  • crumbled queso fresco, feta, or shredded Mexican cheese blend, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving
  • rice and refried beans, for serving, optional
  1. Squeeze the orange juice into a liquid measuring cup.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, toast the chile pieces, pressing with a wide metal spatula and flipping halfway through, until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes total. (I used a 12-inch stainless steel all-in-one pan.)
  3. Transfer to a small bowl and pour in the juice; press on the chilies to submerge. Let stand until the chilies have softened, about 10 minutes. Set the skillet aside. (I placed the chilies in the liquid measuring cup with the freshly squeezed orange juice.)
  4. In a blender, combine the chilies and juice, garlic, vinegar, coriander, honey, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth, about 30 seconds. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Pour the puree into the reserved skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high.
  6. Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat to prevent the finished dish from becoming greasy.
  7. Nestle the chicken into the sauce, cover and cook over medium-low, stirring and flipping the chicken halfway through, until tender and opaque when cut into with a paring knife, about 20 minutes. 
  8. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a large plate and set aside until cool enough to handle, 10 to 15 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred into bite-size pieces.
  9. While the chicken cools, bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring, until thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
  10. Stir the shredded chicken into the sauce, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Warm the tortillas. (I microwave them in a tortilla warmer with a damp towel for about 1 minute.)
  12. Serve the shredded chicken with warm tortillas and assorted toppings, as desired.

Shrimp & Grits with Garlicky Roasted Poblano-Jalapeño Sauce

Annually, we treat ourselves to Southern shrimp and grits over Easter weekend. This year, I served the special dish using purple “unicorn” grits from Millers All Day in Charleston, South Carolina. Festive!

This version was topped with a spicy and garlicky roasted poblano-jalapeño sauce which had a terrific balance with the rich, cheesy grits. The shrimp was also cooked in garlic oil. It was a great variation to try for the garlic and sauce lovers in my house. 🙂 The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Marc Meyer. I modified the method and proportions.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk 
  • coarse salt 
  • 1 cup stone-ground white grits (I used stone-ground unicorn grits)
  • 2 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup) 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 jalapeño chile 
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced 
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 T freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1/2 an orange)
  • freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp, patted dry (I used 21-25 count per pound)
  1. Place oven rack in the highest position and set to broil. Place the jalapeño and poblano chiles on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil until blackened all over, about 3 minutes per side.
  2. Remove from the oven and wrap in the foil. Allow to steam and cool for 10 minutes, then rub off the skins. Stem and seed the chiles.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Whisk in the grits and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the grits are tender and very thick, about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the milk, cheese, and butter. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. (I used about 1/2 tsp salt.) Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then keep warm.
  6. In a small skillet, cook the garlic in the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the garlic is softened and very lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a blender. Add the chiles and the orange juice and puree until smooth. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and puree until creamy. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. (I used a Vitamix.)
  8. Pat the shrimp dry and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of garlic oil. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Heat a very large skillet until very hot, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook until browned and just cooked through, about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side.
  11. To serve, spoon the grits into bowls and top with sauce and shrimp. Serve additional sauce at the table.

Single-Crust Damson Plum & Apple Pie

I “had” to make this wonderful weeknight pie with the Damson plums I received in my CSA share. 🙂 Apparently, they are too tart to be eaten raw and must be cooked. Lucky for me, I received over two pounds of them and was able to enjoy them in two different desserts!

The combination of tart fruit with a sweet cookie-like crust in this pie was absolutely delicious. Blending plums with apples was a wonderful bridge from summer to fall as well.

This recipe was adapted from The Guardian, contributed by Nigel Slater, via Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe used prune plums. It was almost a cobbler with its crumbly lid and oozing filling. Amazing.

I’m sharing my pie at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #138 this week, co-hosted by my friends Mollie @The Frugal Hausfrau and Johanne @French Gardener Dishes. Enjoy!

For the Pastry Lid:

  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (I used the zest from about 1/2 a naval orange.)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup plus 6 1/2 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse or flaky salt
  • milk or heavy cream, for brushing crust
  • turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling crust
  • softly whipped, lightly sweetened cream, or vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional (unnecessary!)

For the Filling:

  • 1 pound ripe Damson plums or Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
  • 1 pound apples, peeled, cored and cut into smaller chunks (I used Pink Lady apples.)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • squeeze or two of fresh orange juice
  1. Make the pastry lid: In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the lightly beaten egg and scrape down sides.
  3. Slowly add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until combined.
  4. Scrape dough into a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and stick in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes, or until firmed up.
  5. Assemble the pie: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C or gas mark 4).
  6. Butter a pie dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  7. Add the fruit and sprinkle it with the sugar, cinnamon and orange juice. Gently toss the ingredients together once or twice. 
  8. Roll out the firmed-up lid dough between sheets of plastic wrap or on a very well floured counter.
  9. Gently lift it onto the pie and fold the edges underneath to fit the dish. Crimp the edges, as desired. (Note: The crust may tear- all the better to let juice erupt through.)
  10. Cut 4 vents in the top to allow steam to release and additional juice to bubble through.
  11. Brush the crust with milk or cream, sprinkle with sugar. 
  12. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly golden on top, covering the edges after the first 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.
  13. Scoop onto dishes and serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream, as desired. (I thought it was perfect on its own!)

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Chocolate-Avocado Pudding

This pudding gets its creaminess from avocados- and you would never know. It’s also made in minutes using a blender- fabulous! I love that it incorporated a vanilla bean and freshly squeezed orange juice too.

This recipe is from Gjusta in Venice, California, via Bon Appetit. Fresh and great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 2 large avocados, pits removed
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Âľ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ÂĽ cup agave nectar
  • ÂĽ cup (or more) fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups heavy cream, optional
  • ÂĽ cup cocoa nibs and/or chopped hazelnuts, optional
  1. Scoop avocado flesh into a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Scrape in vanilla bean seeds; reserve pod for another use.
  3. Add cocoa powder, maple syrup, agave nectar, orange juice, and salt and blend to a coarse purée.
  4. With motor running, gradually stream in Âľ cup hot (but not boiling) water; blend, adding more orange juice as needed, until smooth and creamy.
  5. Divide pudding among eight 4–6 oz. ramekins or small bowls and chill (uncovered) at least 2 hours.
  6. Just before serving, whip cream in a medium bowl to soft peaks and spoon over pudding, if desired; top with cocoa nibs and/or hazelnuts.

Note: Pudding can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

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Cranberry Margarita

Per Bon Appetit, this is Thanksgiving-in-a-glass; we might make it Christmas-in-a-glass as well!! This cocktail was one of the biggest successes of our Thanksgiving celebration! We served it on Thanksgiving Eve so that I could enjoy it with everyone– it would have been too hectic (for me!) on Thanksgiving Day.

The cranberry jam used in the cocktail can be made up to 5 days in advance (wonderful) and can be made with frozen cranberries as well (a great use for leftover cranberries!). The glass rims are coated in salt, sugar, and Chinese five-spice powder which added a surprise flavor and aroma. Freshly squeezed juice is a must.

This recipe is from The Red Cat in New York City, via Bon Appetit. Great!

Yield: Serves 4  (I doubled the recipe for 6)

For the Cranberry Jam:

  • ¾ cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For Assembly:

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 lime wedge, plus 2 oz. fresh juice
  • 4 oz. fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz. tequila

To Make the Cranberry Jam:

  1. Bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy, 30–40 minutes.
  2. Mix in orange zest; let cool.
DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

To Assemble the Cocktail:

  1. Mix salt, sugar, and five-spice powder on a small plate.
  2. Rub rims of Old Fashioned or Margarita glasses with a lime wedge; dip in salt mixture and fill glasses with ice.
  3. For each cocktail, combine ½ oz. lime juice, 1 oz. orange juice, 1½ oz. tequila, and 2 Tbsp. cranberry jam in a cocktail shaker; fill with ice.
  4. Cover and shake until outside is frosty, about 30 seconds.
  5. Strain into prepared glass. (We used a metal strainer.)

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

IMG_5595

My friend who doesn’t eat dessert (crazy!) invited us to dinner. I like to bring dessert to her house to make sure we don’t skip an important course. 🙂 Her husband loves apple crisp and she loves the Barefoot Contessa, so this was the perfect recipe.

I made one huge tart (for the dinner party) and two mini-tarts (for us to enjoy the next day). The topping was fabulous! This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That are Really Fun by Ina Garten. I used 2 1/2 pounds of McIntosh apples and 2 1/2 pounds of Cortland apples. Such a perfect autumn dessert- the house smelled wonderful while it baked too. We ate it warm with vanilla bean ice cream on the side.

Yield: Serves 10

For the Filling:

  • 5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples (I used 1/2 Cortland apples)
  • Grated zest of 1 naval orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

For the Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

IMG_5617

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 14 x 2-inch oval baking dish. (I used cooking spray on a round 12 x 1 1/2-inch tart dish, and 2 mini pie dishes.)
  2. Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish(es).   IMG_5568
  3. Make the Topping: Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.
  4. Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for one hour for the large pan and one half hour for the small pans. The top should be brown and the apples bubbly. Serve warm- with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

IMG_5598

French Green Lentil & Beet Salad with Orange-Mustard Vinaigrette

IMG_4978

My husband was on vacation last week and really wanted to grill a steak (for himself!) for dinner. When he made his special (out of the ordinary – for us) dinner, I made this special lentil salad for my dinner. 🙂 He ate it as a side dish too. I had orange beets from my CSA share to include in the salad, although red beets may have added more contrast in the finished dish. We ate the beet greens sautĂ©ed with CSA Swiss chard and leeks on the side. This recipe was adapted from Saveur. The dressing has a bright, wonderful flavor; I substituted Herbs de Provence for lavender.

  • 3/4 to 1 pound beets, scrubbed clean
  • 7 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups French green lentils
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice (about 6 Valencia oranges)
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (1/8″ mandolin)
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub beets with 2 T olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 8″-square baking dish and cover with foil; cook until tender, about 1 hour on convection roast. Let cool, then peel beets and chop; set aside.
  2. Bring lentils, bay leaves, and 4 cups of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until tender but not mushy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain, discarding liquid and bay leaves.
  3. Toast mustard seeds in a 10″ or 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until they begin to pop, 1-2 minutes. Add juice; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add Herbs de Provence.; cook until juice is reduced to about 1/2 cup, 20-30  minutes. Whisk in honey and remaining 5 T oil.
  4. Add beets, lentils, red onion, salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

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