Spiced Chicken Skewers on Avocado Puree

If you’re a meat lover, chances are that you are partial to the taste of good skewers every now and then.  Of course, people enjoy numerous types of food served on sticks due to the convenience and ease of eating. However, meat skewers are the type of skewered food that started this trend and continue to be a popular way of enjoying a delicious cut of meat in a unique way. After all, they’re economical, versatile, infinitely customizable, and quick cooking, making them ideal for not only summer BBQ but frugal winter grillers who want to limit their exposure to frigid weather and high prices.

In modern times, skewers are used in variety of ways: for candies and other sweet products, to garnish cocktails, and many other types of street-food that are sold ‘on a stick’.

Materials from which modern skewers are made, range from the traditional wood and bamboo to the glass, metal and other decorative materials.

These chicken skewers are not too spicy and have a variety of vibrant flavors going on like coriander, ginger and mustard. If you like avocado as much as we do then you’ll love the puree that goes alongside the chicken. Yum!

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Spiced Chicken Skewers on Avocado Puree
Instructions
Marinade
  1. In a skillet, gently heat the spices for 1 minute or until lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients & stir to combine.
Skewers
  1. Add the chicken to the marinade & coat well. Thread the chicken onto 12 skewers & place in a dish. Cover & refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the grill, setting the burners on high. Oil the grate.
Avocado Puree
  1. In a small food processor, purée the avocado with the sour cream & lime juice until smooth. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside in a bowl & cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface.
  2. Grill the skewers for 5 minutes on each side or until the chicken is no longer pink.
Serving
  1. In the center of each serving plate, spread a dollop of the avocado purée. Top with some caramelized red onions & roasted tomatoes. Finish with 2 chicken skewers.

Apricot-Lime Glazed Chicken

In 2019 & 2020 Brion & I spent a couple of holidays in the beautiful town of Mérida on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Of course there were many places to explore such as the archeological sites like Chichen Itza and Uxmal while we were there. If you would like to see pictures and read about some of our adventures in Mérida, you can find them on the website blogs in February 2019 & January 2020.

When I decided to make this chicken meal today the peninsula’s bright and sunny flavors came back to me remembering the chicken lime soup we had tasted there. In Yucatán, the lime they use for this soup is the region’s native lima ágria.

In Mexico, using lime juice is quite common. People squeeze limes over grilled meats, fruits, vegetables, salads, soups, drinks, and even chips. The lime juice brings out the flavors in food in a way best described as ‘bright’. It’s tangy, refreshing, and brings out the best flavors in the food it’s on.

The apricot-lime glaze, with a touch of hot sauce, makes the perfect combo of sweet, sour, and spicy on these chicken thighs.

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Apricot-Lime Glazed Chicken
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Instructions
  1. Heat grill to medium. In a small bowl, combine preserves, lime juice, hot sauce & red pepper flakes.
  2. Season chicken with 1/2 tsp black pepper & grill, covered, turning occasionally 10-15 minutes. Uncover & continue grilling, basting with sauce until chicken is cooked through, 5-7 minutes more.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. cut each ear of corn into 3-4 pieces. Add corn to pot with 2 tsp salt & simmer until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain, transfer to platter & serve with chicken & lime wedges.

Roasted Tomato & Avocado Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict has been around for a long time. As with many dishes, there is always something that makes you want to take the classic combination to a new level which is equally delicious. Here are a few examples:

  • Classic Eggs Benedict: This brunch staple is typically composed of an English muffin, breakfast meat, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. 
  • Eggs Florentine: In this recipe, the Canadian bacon gets replaced by creamy spinach simmered in butter.
  • Eggs Royale: for royale, the Canadian bacon gets replaced by smoked salmon. This dish with the seafood twist is quite popular in the UK, Canada, and New Zealand.
  • Eggs Sardou: Try replacing your Canadian bacon with the delicious, buttered spinach, slow-cooked artichoke, and anchovies.  
  • Eggs Neptune: Canadian bacon gets replaced by fresh crab meat.
  • Eggs Cochon: To make this, replace the Canadian bacon with pork meat and the classic English muffin with buttermilk ‘biscuit’ to enhance the flavors. 
  • Eggs Tomato Avocado: Slow roasted tomatoes with sliced avocado.

I’m sure people will be eating eggs benedict forever. It will never go out of vogue. Eggs benedict is a dish that is here to stay for a long time. My choice today is with roasted tomato & avocado since Brion & I are avocado lovers. Of course, a little bit of bacon on the side wouldn’t hurt either!

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Roasted Tomato & Avocado Eggs Benedict
Instructions
Avocado Butter
  1. In a food processor, puree avocados, oil, lime juice, water & mustard. Cover & blend until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl & stir in cilantro paste & salt & pepper to taste. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use.
Roasted Tomatoes/Poached Eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. For Tomatoes: Line a baking sheet with foil. In a small bowl, combine a bit of Italian dressing with cherry tomatoes. Pour onto baking sheet and pull foil slightly up around them. Roast until they are starting to burst. Remove from oven & keep warm.
  3. For the poached eggs: For easier clean-up, grease each muffin cup. Then add 1 tablespoon water to each muffin cup–even if you are NOT making a full batch. Adding water to the empty muffins cups will help the pan not scorch in the oven.
  4. Crack one egg into each muffin cup.
  5. Bake for 11-13 minutes. 11 minutes, the yolk is very runny and egg whites are just about set; 13 minutes, the yolk is runny, but beginning to set around edges and egg whites are completely set.
  6. Using a spoon, gently scoop out the poached eggs at an angle, allowing the water to drain off the poached egg.
English Muffins
  1. Slice English muffins & toast. When toasted spread each piece with 'avocado butter'.
Serving
  1. Place 2 buttered English muffin halves on each of 6 serving plates. Divide roasted tomatoes between them. Lay sliced avocado on all 12 pieces. Top each muffin half with a poached egg then spoon more avocado butter on top. Sprinkle with fresh chives & serve immediately.

Zucchini Lime Cupcakes

Ingredients like zucchini, lime and cream cheese may give off summer vibes, but the reality is that they are available all year round. Sometimes you just want a dessert that tastes like sunshine and warm weather.

Zucchini can blend into almost any dish. Its flavor is versatile and spans from sweet to savory and does so flawlessly.

The truth is zucchini adds no flavor to cakes – but what it does do is add an incredible texture and moisture as well as bulk.

I had never really thought about combining zucchini with lime. It is such a unique but delicious combination. The lime really brightens the flavor and the zucchini, although you really don’t taste it, keeps the cupcakes nice and moist.

When preparing your ingredients however, you do need to be careful not to get too much of the white pith into your cake or frosting. The green outermost layer of your lime is the zest, and this is what you want to grate. The white layer right underneath is the pith, and it can be quite bitter.

Here comes spring with its sunshine and warm weather!

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Zucchini Lime Cupcakes
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with 12 deep cupcake papers.
  2. In a bowl, beat together vegetable oil & sugar; add eggs & grated zucchini & beat again.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, baking soda, baking powder & salt.
  4. Add flour mixture alternately with milk then stir in lime zest. Divide batter between the 12 cupcake liners.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).
  6. Remove from oven, leave in tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting
  1. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese & butter until light & fluffy. While mixing on low, slowly add powdered sugar & lime juice & beat again until fully combined.
  2. When cupcakes are cooled completely, pipe a rosette on each cupcake & sprinkle with lime zest.

Guacamole Prosciutto Chicken Breast

One of my basic, unwritten, rules for food preparation is: everything that can be baked in the oven should be baked in the oven. I have no doubt that there are others who will say that baking in the oven is expensive, that it consumes a lot of electricity, but baking in the oven has some other advantages compared to classic frying in a pan. 

Apart from the fact that food is prepared faster, which consumes less energy and consumes much less fat, you need much less time to prepare, as well as to wash the sprayed and greasy stove (or fryer). When I mention the speed of preparation, it is certainly much faster and easier to bake a few kilograms of chicken in one or two pans at the same time in the oven than in a pan. And if you also use baking paper, the profit is incomparable.

I always thought guacamole was an unlikely stuffing or topping for chicken breast as it usually served as a cold tortilla chip dip. It’s one of those taste ‘sensations’ you must taste to believe. Of course, you must start with liking avocados —and you guessed it, Brion & I do.

Then enter Italian prosciutto … which, is like ham that went to university abroad — sophisticated and cultured. What’s not to love about chicken oven baked, or air fried, loaded with guacamole; prosciutto & pepper jack cheese for some ultimate juicy and tender chicken roll ups.

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Guacamole Prosciutto Chicken Breast
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Guacamole
Chicken Breasts
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Guacamole
Chicken Breasts
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Instructions
Guacamole
  1. In a large bowl, coarsely mash avocados, lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro; blend well. Cover & set aside until ready to use.
Chicken
  1. Slice chicken breasts in halve lengthwise. Place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Rub olive oil on the chicken.
  2. Rub creole seasoning (or seasoning of choice) on each side of the chicken pieces.
  3. Cook in the air fryer at 360 degrees for 9 minutes. Open the air fryer and flip the chicken. Divide guacamole, prosciutto & cheese between the 8 pieces of chicken. Cook for another 9 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer to oven roast your chicken breast without using an air fryer, just preheat the oven to 375 F. After oiling & seasoning, wrap the prosciutto loosely around the chicken breasts. Place the chicken on a foil lined baking sheet & bake for about 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove from oven, top with cheese & guacamole, return to oven until cheese is melted. 
  • I roasted some grape tomatoes for the garnish which adds more flavor to the end result.

Cheesy Corn Fritters

Corn fritters can be sweet or savory, consisting of a batter or dough made with corn kernels (often whole canned corn), flour, milk, eggs, and melted butter. They are often served with fruit, jam, cream, or honey. Sometimes they are also made with creamed corn, and then baked and served with maple syrup. They originated in Native American cuisine and are a traditional snack that’s eaten in the Southern United States. Europeans adopted the recipe of corn fritters from native Americans and modified the ingredients to fit their continent.

These bright crispy morsels make great additions to summer barbecues and backyard gatherings as they will go with just about anything. While they may have originated in the south, corn fritters can easily be changed up with peppers, onions, or herbs to give them regional and seasonal flair.

When paired with other vegetables and a pan-fried fish filet, corn fritters create a unique fish sandwich. Don’t look at corn fritters as just a side dish, but a functional part of a complete meal.

They’re also a popular fried food that has been given their own ‘holiday’ in the USA. A holiday that always falls on July 16th and is known as National Corn Fritters Day. Origination and the history of the National Corn Fritters Day remain anonymous.

Corn has always appealed to me. I could eat corn anytime, for any meal. Today, I’m making some savory, cheesy corn fritters to go with our fish fillets for a supper meal.

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Cheesy Corn Fritters
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine corn, cornmeal, flour, paprika, salt & pepper, egg, parmesan, green onion, cilantro & lime juice. Add a splash of water if mixture is too dry.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet. Divide corn mixture into 4 large or 8 small portions in pan to form patties. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream if desired. If you are making them into a fish burger, we used tartar sauce instead.

Nectarine, Mango & Guava Mini Galettes

When it comes to fruit, some flavor combinations just automatically work well. But, when you start to dig deeper, you can discover some less common amazing flavor combos.

There’s something about using tropical fruits that have a way of transporting us to the best parts of summer. Summer desserts don’t have to be complicated. Add a scoop of ice cream and you’ve got a sweet treat that’s even more agreeable, with little extra energy expended. Whether it’s a simple fresh fruit parfait, or a rustic galette (the word sounds so exotic and continental), this is the time of year fresh fruit can do a lot of the heavy lifting in a dessert, you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

You know how sometimes a recipe can take a long time to make but the end result isn’t that great which makes for a low return on your investment. When it comes to galettes, it’s definitely a high return on investment because they  turn out so nice and hardly take any time at all especially if using frozen puff pastry.

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Nectarine, Mango & Guava Mini Galettes
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch. lime juice & preserves. Set aside.
  3. Slice nectarines then chop them slightly. Divide preserve mixture in half. Fold half of it into the nectarine pieces.
  4. Cut puff pastry sheet into 6 even squares. Divide the remaining preserve mixture between the puff pastry squares placing a spoonful in the middle of each. Divide nectarine filling equally between the squares.
  5. Brush edges with egg wash & fold up sides to form galettes. Brush top dough with egg wash & sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  6. Bake until golden brown & bubbling, about 20 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • Instead of puff pastry, I had a bit of frozen homemade pastry leftover from a previous bake, so I used it instead. Worked out just fine.

Spicy Chicken Naan Pizzas

CELEBRATING FAMILY DAY!

Family Day is observed on the third Monday in February in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life of people and their communities. Its timing is said to have been selected to coincide with the American holiday of Presidents Day. About two-thirds of all Canadians will have the day off on Family Day.

Alberta was the first province to adopt Family Day as a statutory holiday in 1990. 

There are no established traditions surrounding Family Day as there are for occasions like Christmas and New Year’s Day. But, as the name implies, many Canadians take advantage of the three-day weekend in February to spend extra time with loved ones. Road trips, winter sports outings, and extended family gatherings are all popular ways to observe the holiday.

Who needs a holiday to eat pizza? Not Brion & I … YUM!

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Spicy Chicken Naan Pizzas
Instructions
Chicken Marinade
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Guacamole
  1. In a bowl, mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro. Blend well. Cover & set aside until ready to use. You will have a bit extra for something else.
Pizza Topping Prep
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until fairly crisp, drain & blot on paper towels; chop coarsely. Wipe skillet with paper towel, add marinated chicken & stir-fry until cooked then remove to a dish. Add onion to skillet & sauté until tender crisp.
Assembly & Bake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large baking sheet, lay a piece of parchment paper. Place the 4 Naan breads on it. Spread each naan bread with guacamole then spinkle each with a bit of cheese. Layer onion, bacon, chicken, tomato & remaining cheese.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot & cheese is nicely melted. Remove from oven, top with sliced avocado & serve.

Mexicali Quiche w/ Avocado & Roasted Tomatoes

There are so many great things to make with tortillas. You can load up burritos for breakfast, stuff some quesadillas with shrimp or make tortilla chips and cover them with cheese, guacamole and spicy salsa.

A tortilla quiche combines a classic breakfast quiche and a tortilla tart without having the traditional pastry crust.

Breakfast for supper is always good with Brion & I. Making this meal a day ahead of serving it allows the flavors to become exceptional.

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Mexicali Quiche w/ Avocado & Roasted Tomatoes
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook ground pork, onion, mushrooms & garlic. Cook until meat is brown & crumbly & moisture has mostly evaporated from the mushrooms. Stir in corn, beans, chili powder & cumin. Remove from heat.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. In a bowl combine eggs, milk, green chili peppers (if using), salt & pepper. Grate cheese.
  4. Lightly butter bottom of an 8-inch baking dish. Place one of the tortillas on the bottom of dish; sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese & top with half of the pork mixture. Tear other tortilla into pieces & place on top then sprinkle with a bit more cheese & remaining pork mixture.
  5. Carefully pour milk mixture over quiche then top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until set.
  6. While the quiche is baking, place cherry tomatoes in a foil lined baking pan, drizzle with olive oil & roast until skins pop.
  7. On a plate, mash avocados; add salt, garlic & lime juice. When quiche is ready, top with avocado mixture & roasted tomatoes. Serve.

Guacamole Beef Burgers on Portobello ‘Buns’

CELEBRATING HERTIAGE DAY!

In 1974, the first Monday of August was made an official provincial holiday to recognize and celebrate the varied cultural heritage of Albertans. Businesses can choose whether or not to recognize the day as a general holiday, which most do.

Our choice of meal for today are some special beef burgers on Portobello buns. Mushrooms are often cooked and served as a meat substitute in today’s ‘plant based’ society. Large Portobello mushrooms are the general size and shape of hamburger buns so using them to sub for buns seems only logical. I guess you could say they are the earth’s natural burger bun!

I have fond memories of my first introduction to a Portobello ‘burger‘. It was in the quaint little village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, located about 190 km (120 miles) from San Francisco.

Some 35 years ago, actor Clint Eastwood, was elected mayor of Carmel for a two-year term. During that time he opened a restaurant/bar there called the ‘Hogs Breath Inn’. You had to enter it through a long cobblestone alley/corridor. The outdoor patio was nestled between the restaurant and the bar. A massive wall mural and numerous stone fireplaces all added tremendously to the wonderful ambiance. It was here that I first tasted a Portobello Mushroom Burger.

This version , the Portobello mushroom seemed to have been marinated and then grilled on a barbecue. On top of it were some battered onion rings, lettuce and tomato. All of the came in a grilled ciabatta bun with pickles and a side dish of your choice.

In the case of today’s blog recipe, we are using the mushroom cap as the bun. The guacamole is a great accompaniment to the beef burgers along with smoked Gouda cheese, tomatoes and the mushroom ‘buns’.

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Guacamole Beef Burgers on Portobello 'Buns'
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Guacamole
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Guacamole
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Instructions
Portobello Caps
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. & place rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with foil paper & set aside.
  2. Brush the mushroom caps (top & bottom) with Italian dressing & place them, gills side up , on the lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes then flip them over & bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  3. When mushrooms are ready & the juices have been released, remove them from the baking sheet. Place them on a wire to drip off a bit.
Guacamole
  1. On a piece of plastic wrap, mash avocado with lime juice, salt, garlic, onion & cilantro. Fold plastic wrap over guacamole & set aside in fridge.
Beef Burgers
  1. Preheat barbecue grill (or roast burgers in oven).
  2. In a bowl, combine all burger ingredients & mix well. Divide beef mixture into 4 equal parts & shape into patties. Grill patties 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Divide cheese between patties & allow to melt.
Assembly
  1. Top each of the 4 mushroom caps with some guacamole, a burger patty & tomato slices. These are definitely the kind of 'burger' you want to eat with a fork & knife. Of course you could always squeeze the whole thing in a ciabatta bun!