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Spicy Crispy Chicken Strips

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Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves: 12-15 as an appetizer / party finger-food

Inspired by: I’ve always liked crispy chicken tenders/nuggets/strips, but wished there was a non-greasy version that had real chicken inside that was safe to eat. I thought it might be fun to use my blackening spice for this and try making them for a small party. I love the crispiness, and the spice gives them an awesome kick!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless, organic chicken breasts
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) of crispy bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of Spice it up …by Karen™ (more if you like super spicy)

Preparation:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (or if you have a good toaster oven, there is no need to preheat, but you will need to cook these in batches)
  • Get a non-stick cookie sheet or rub a bit of olive oil on a cookie sheet so your chicken will not stick as it cooks
  • Lightly beat the eggs with a fork or whisk, and mix with the olive oil in small bowl
  • In a low, wide bowl (such as a soup bowl), mix the bread crumbs well with the spice
  • Cut chicken into strips – approximately 1.5 inches wide by 3 inches long
  • Dip the chicken into the egg/olive oil mixure to coat and then roll in the breadcrumb mix
  • Lay the chicken strips a half inch to an inch apart on the cookie sheet
  • Bake until golden brown – probably at least 12 minutes, possibly as long as 20

Notes: Because these are getting so much more surface area covered with spice than making blackened chicken with whole or half chicken breasts, these can get pretty spicy – so if you like spice, but not too much, I suggest using a bit less spice and a bit more of the bread crumbs. For parties, I have prepared these on the cookie sheet early in the day and kept them refridgerated and then took them out to bake when ready to serve. You can bring them to room temperature first, but it really isn’t necessary.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and spice on it would be perfect. A Syrah or Southern Rhone blend, Zinfandel or a spicy older Barolo. Off dry whites are often a fantastic pairing for spicy foods such as a Riesling or Viognier/Condrieu.


Blackened Chicken

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Blackened Chicken

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Inspired by: My love for spice and chicken that is cooked well, but still very juicy! I think this is one of the best ways to really sear in the juices and cook chicken fairly quickly.

Supplies: Cast iron skillet

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  • Heat your cast iron skillet so that it is searing hot (approximately 5 minutes).
  • Pre-heat oven to 375-400 or if you have a good toaster oven you can use that and skip the pre-heat.
  • Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise if they are too large for a single serving.
  • Coat the chicken in olive oil and roll it in the spice until it is completely covered.
  • Add olive oil to the hot skillet, heat for about 30 seconds, and place the chicken breasts in the skillet.
  • Sear each side for 3-5 minutes until blackened and crisp and juices are locked in.
  • Remove from skillet and place in oven.
  • Cook smaller breasts for approximately 15 minutes and larger ones for approximately 20.

Notes: Slice into strips and server over salad.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and a bit of spice on it would be perfect. We just had this last night with our friends Katie and Joe and drank a Southern Rhone blend – Chateau Pesquié Cotes du Ventoux Terrasses. It was fun because, coincidentally, they were at Chateau Pesquié last year. A spicier Rioja, Barolo or Zinfandel, or an off-dry white would be other great options.


Spicy Shrimp – Grilled

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Time: 5 minutes to make marinade, 20 minutes to sit in marinade, 4-8 minutes on the grill

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned but with shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Spice it Up …by Karen™ (as an alternative: 2 teaspoons paprika, ½teaspoon cayenne)
  • ½ teaspoon course salt

Preparation:

  • Wash and drain shrimp (leave shells on).
  • Mix all the other ingredients together.
  • Toss the shrimps into the mix and cover well for 20 minutes.
  • Heat the grill to about 400.
  • Skewer shrimps and grill for a approximately 2-4 minutes on each side depending on whether they are medium or jumbo in size.

Notes: The shells get salty and spicy and finger-licking good! If the shells are tender, they can be yummy to eat as well. These shrimps are so good healthy served over any salad. Try the mango-mint quinoa with them too!

Wine suggestions: Light to medium bodied spicy reds such as a spicier Grenache or Southern Rhone blend, or an off-dry aeromatic white such as a Riesling or Condrieu.


Radish Salad

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Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 8

Inspired by: I like the crunch and spiciness of radishes. This is a salad I’ve started to make more often because it has a fabulous combination of spicy and sweet with the acid of the dressing and goes well with just about any other combination of fish and vegetables that we enjoy.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 8 handfuls of Arugula and/or other peppery greens
  • 2 cups radish sprouts
  • 4-8 radishes sliced 1/8″ thick
  • Nectarine or pear sliced into 1/8″ thick pieces
  • Persian cucumber (optional) sliced into 1/8″ thick pieces
  • Toasted almond slices

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove crushed garlic (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

  • Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a shaker. I like the simplicity of this lemon dressing for this salad.
  • Toss the greens with the dressing first.
  • Add the radish, fruit, cucumber and toss well.
  • Top off with the radish sprouts and toasted almonds.

 


Roasted Tomatillo Soup with Shrimp

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Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 5 – 6 tomatillos
  • 1 large Anaheim pepper
  • 1 very small Jalapeño pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek (white part only), halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned with shells removed – you can leave tails (or substitute black beans, white beans or shredded chicken)
  • Cilantro or another green for garnish (I’m not a fan of Cilantro, but had some arugula)

Preparation:

  • Roast the tomatillos and peppers at 375 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes. Turn half way through roasting. They will be done when soft, lightly browned, and oozing liquid.
  • Meanwhile, sauté leek and onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until they are well cooked, but not browned. Add approximately ¼ teaspoon of salt while cooking.
  • Put all of the above ingredients into a blender and purée. Return to soup pot. Add the chicken stock and cumin and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-20 minutes covered.
  • Add the shrimp 2-3 minutes before serving (if the soup is boiling, medium-sized shrimps will take approximately 2 minutes to cook). Rock shrimp or other small shrimp will likely cook in a minute. Previously cooked shrimp, beans or chicken will heat through in 2-3 minutes. If chicken is your protein of choice, you can add a chicken breast when the soup comes to a boil. It should get cooked through in about 20 minutes. You can remove it, shred it with a fork, and put it back into the soup.

Notes: This will likely be relatively spicy with the roasted peppers and pairs well with an off-dry or dry riesling. It should also pair well with any white wine with nice acid – either light and crisp or full and round. It went really well tonight with a beautiful Chassagne-Montrachet.


Spinach Salad with Mango Lime Puree

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Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves: 12

Inspired by: I’m always reworking spinach and mango to come up with something just a little different. This is definitely my new favorite spinach salad. It is excellent with anything spicy such as blackened chickengrilled spicy shrimppan fried spicy shrimp, grilled vegetable lasagna, and I love it with seared scallops as well.

Salad Ingredients:

  • Spinach leaves for 12
  • 1-2 cups of roughly chopped fresh mint
  • 2/3 of a mango diced into 1/4 or 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 English cucumber diced into 1/4 or 1/2 inch cubes (or can use Persian cucumbers)
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 3/4 – 1 cup sliced almonds or pistacios

Dressing Ingredients:

  • The other 1/3 of the mango (scrape fruit off of the seed and use the riper, soggier, less pretty pieces)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing Preparation:

  • Peel mango, remove seed, and dice fruit into ¼ inch pieces and set aside.
  • Put about 1/3 of the mango into the blender to make the dressing (about ½ cup).
  • Add the juice of 1 lime and a dash of salt and pepper to blender and puree/blend well. Then start adding the juice of the second lime until you find the balance of sweetness/acidity you like.
  • Pour the mango puree into a small pitcher and add in 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well.

Salad Preparation:

  • Wash spinach leavees, remove stems, and spread into a wide salad bowl.
  • Wash fresh mint, roughly chop, and sprinkle over spinach so it’s mixed evenly.
  • Slice cucumber into thin slices (or dice into pieces the same size as the mango).
  • Pour dressing over the spinach leaves and mint and mix well – the dressing should be relatively thick so mix until the leaves are lightly coated everywhere.
  • Add the diced mango, cucumber, crumbled goat cheese and sliced almonds and mix well.
  • Optional – top with blackened chicken, spicy shrimp or seared scallops.

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