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Pan-Caribbean Dinner: Mojito Chicken et al

Filed under: — Melissa @ 6:00 pm

On Sunday I promised I would write up the proceedings from the Caribbean-themed dinner I made. I started with a recipe from the Food Network for Mojito Chicken, which I modified ever so slightly: I added a habanero pepper to the marinade, and I grilled it instead of searing on the stove and finishing in the oven. I still think it was tasty, so here you go:

Mojito Chicken (courtesy of Guy Fieri @

1 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) chicken: Note, I used two packages of leg-thigh combos for a total of about 6 chicken leg quarters.

Spice Rub:
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

1 cup orange juice
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sliced garlic
1/4 cup dark rum
1 habanero pepper, seeds removed, diced

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl.

Mojito Glaze:
Mojito Glaze:
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In medium sauce pan, place rum, chicken broth and brown sugar. Reduce by 1/3 over high heat. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together water and cornstarch. When rum mixture is reduced, add cornstarch mixture slowly to simmering liquid and whisk for 3 minutes, until 50 percent thicker. When glaze is at desired thickness, add mint leaves and transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

The process:
Prepare the spice rub. Rub all over chicken, including under the skin. Place in a ziplock back in the fridge for 30 minutes. While this is chilling in the fridge, prepare the marinade. Add the marinade to the bag and return to the refridgerator for at least 1 hour (I let it go for about 3).

Preheat your grill to low and remove your chicken from the bag. Drain off most of the marinade so the meat does not burn on the grill. Cook over low/somewhat indirect heat for 45 minutes, turning once mid-way through cooking. If you use smaller pieces or boneless breasts, you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly (i.e. shorten it). I used a meat thermometer to make sure everything was safe when I pulled it off.

Once the chicken is on the grill, prepare the glaze as directed above. When the chicken is nearly done, brush each side with the glaze and allow it to simply warm. Remove from the heat and serve.

Our second dish was Coconut Rice. I took a basic recipe from a Caribbean cookbook I have and modified it a bit because I didn’t have enough coconut milk on hand.

approx. 3/4 cup long grain rice (I used Jasmine)
1 can of unsweetened coconut milk – not coconut cream or coco lopez. You want the stuff they sell for making Thai curries and the like.
1/2 can of chicken broth (the recipe called for 3 cans of coconut milk and slightly more rice; I modified it by adding this broth I had opened to make the chicken glaze and it turned out fine).
1 T kosher salt
1 T butter/margarine

Bring the coconut milk and broth to a boil in a pot with a good lid. Allow to simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the liquid reduces a bit. Add the rice and cover, stirring occasionally for about 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally, but not so much you let out all of the steam (once every 5 minutes is enough). Turn off heat and leave covered until ready to serve, about 10 minutes.

The side dish was Fried Plantains.
2 ripe plantains, cut in half and then chunks
canola oil

In a heavy pan, heat about 1″ of canola oil. Once hot, add your pieces of plantain. Turn as they begin to turn golden brown. When both sides look done, remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt to taste.

Finally, we served up the meal with a couple of rummy drinks. This is my best recollection of the recipe:

1 part Bacardi
1 part Malibu
1/2 part Myers’s Dark Rum
1/3 part Creme de Banana
splash of grenadine
Fill with equal parts orange juice and pineapple juice (about 2 oz each)

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour all contents into a tall glass. Sip and enjoy!


Turkey with French vegetables, white wine dijon sauce, brown rice

Filed under: — Melissa @ 9:25 am

I put together this concoction for dinner last night and it was pretty good. I want to remember it for another time.

1-2 c. brown rice – note, we used a 2-serving size packet of Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice. You could also prepare some in a rice cooker, but you’ll need to start that first since it will take longer than the rest of the dish.
1-1.5 lb ground turkey
2/3 bag Trader Joe’s “Brittany Blend” frozen veggies, with green beans, wax beans, baby carrots
1 medium onion
2 T. dijon mustard
1/2-3/4 c. dry white wine (I used Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc)
2 t. dried tarragon
2-3 T. flour
olive oil

The Process:
Heat about 2T. of olive oil in a large skillet. Add turkey and brown most of the way through. Drain fat, remove turkey to separate dish and set aside.

Defrost vegetables in a microwavable dish for 1-1 1/2 minutes, until mostly thawed.

Slice onion. In same skillet, add about 1 T. olive oil and saute onions until golden. Salt and pepper to taste.

Push onions to the side and add about 2 more T. olive oil and the flour. Combine, stirring in with onions until you have everything coated with flour. Start adding some of the wine and stir. The flour will thicken this sauce as it finishes.

Add vegetables and turkey back to pan. Stir in dijon mustard and remaining wine. Add dried tarragon, additional salt and pepper to taste. Incorporate all ingredients and continue cooking over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until flour has time to cook and the everything is lightly coated with the mustard-wine sauce.

Spoon rice onto each dish, then add turkey and vegetables on top. Enjoy!


Baked Chicken with Apple Raisin Dressing

Filed under: — Melissa @ 2:04 pm

I made up this dish for dinner last night, and it turned out pretty well. We enjoyed it with a semi-sweet German Auslesse white wine (a $5 bargain at Trader Joes!), which I also recommend 🙂

Baked Chicken with Apple Raisin Dressing

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I used 6 pieces from a bag of frozen tenders for 2 people.
1 stick of butter or margarine
4 slices of bread – I used the wheat sandwich loaf I had on hand
1 small or 1/2 of a medium red onion
2 apples (I believe mine were golden delicious)
1/4 cup golden raisins
4 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Prepare a 13″x9″ or other baking dish.

Heat a small mug or bowl of water in the microwave, approximately 1 minute. Add your raisins to the hot water so they will plump a bit during the prep.

Core and slice the apple into segments, then chop into 1/2-1″ chunks. Next, peel and slice the onion. Add apples and onions to the pan.

Dice bread into 1/2″ cubes. Melt about 3/4 of the stick of butter/margarine in a microwave-safe dish. Toss the bread cubes in with the melted butter until all are coated.

Layer the ingredients in the pan as follows:

Apples and onions on bottom.
Drain the raisins and sprinkle throughout the pan. Add about 2 T. of water, just enough to moisten the bottom of the pan.
Salt this layer, then add some ginger and nutmeg allspice. Dot the apples and onions with remaining (non-melted) 1/4 stick of margarine or butter.
Next, lay the chicken breasts across the top. Season this layer with salt, pepper, ginger and nutmeg allspice.
Finally, place all the bread cubes all over the dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and a bit of salt.

Cover dish with foil, and place in pre-heated oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and the apples reach desired softness. I recommend starting the pan uncovered or finishing it uncovered at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes in order to crisp the top layer of croutons.

Notes: Since this was the first time I made this, the recipe could use some tweaking. For example, it might be best to start the dish covered, and then remove the foil, stir contents, and turn it up to 400 for the last 10-12 minutes in order to crisp the croutons on top. Feel free to try it and let me know if you have any suggestions 🙂


Grilled Beef with Chimichurri Sauce

Filed under: — Melissa @ 11:10 am

I found this recipe on a cooking forum I read; I’m going to give it a try this weekend. I’ll let you all know how it turns out!

Beef with Chimichurri Sauce

Grilled beef is the only correct answer when it comes to Brazilian/Argentinian, South American style
BBQ. Grill some skewered skirt or flank steak and make a chimichurri
sauce to go with, should keep warm fine in a disposable aluminum pan.

Chimichurri Sauce:

6 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 cloves)
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Stir together vinegar, water, garlic, bay leaf, salt, red pepper
flakes, and black pepper until salt is dissolved.

Whisk in oil until combined, then whisk in parsley. Let stand for 30
mintues at room temperature. Discard bay leaf halves and stir sauce
before serving. Makes a cup and a half of sauce.


Another Carrot Soup

Filed under: — Melissa @ 1:39 pm

I have used another recipe for Carrot Soup that I found on the Internet… of course, I don’t have it in front of me, but the proportions don’t need to be exact. If you want the soup thicker/thinner more carroty/more peppery, adjust at will. It’ll be fine.

Don’t worry about chopping the vegetables neatly – this soup will be blended when it is cooked, so it doesn’t matter.

1-2 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cartons chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 T. olive oil
black pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup of any kind of rice

Chop carrots and onions. Heat olive oil in large pot; saute vegetables until somewhat softened, but not brown. Add salt/pepper to taste. (I don’t do a lot of salt – it’s in the broth).
Add the broth and the rice. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes, until carrots are softened and rice is cooked. Set aside to cool. Ladle batches into the blender to puree the soup when finished, unless you’ve got a nifty immersion blender. Then just attack it in the pot.

Serve, adding pepper to taste. The blended rice in this dish makes it thick and creamy, but it’s non-dairy!


Pasta with artichokes, tomatoes and white wine sauce

Filed under: — Melissa @ 8:41 pm

I don’t have a name for this recipe; it’s derived from something I read as a suggestion on a food forum. I’ll do my best to make it a real recipe – add comments if you’d like more detail. Also, feel free to substitute at will. The original recipe called for diced roma tomatoes; I used about a half of a 14 oz can of Hunt’s Petite Diced tomatoes to save time. I also used a bag of small, frozen, pre-cooked salad shrimp, when the original recipe called for medium-sized raw ones, I think. You get the idea.

Cook and drain 1/2 box of pasta (angel hair, linguine, etc).

In lots of extra virgin olive oil, saut?:
Lots of fresh, minced garlic ( I used 4 large cloves)
A bit of dried thyme
Coarsely chopped artichoke hearts (from a can/jar)

Add a few splashes of dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio).

As it starts to reduce, throw in some medium-sized peeled shrimp.
When they?re half-cooked, add roughly chopped Roma (plum)
tomatoes, and, at the last minute, some fresh basil.
Add Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Throw cooked pasta into the saut? pan and toss.
Top with freshly grated parmesan.

Serves 2-3.


New hope for back pain?

Filed under: — Melissa @ 11:01 am

This isn’t a humorous post, but rather something I saw and thought could be interesting to people suffering with back pain. Apparently, they’re working on artificial disks for those who need to swap out the parts that God gave them in v.1.


Darwin would be proud

Filed under: — Melissa @ 12:55 pm

I was reading this story about some “Asian invaders” in our ecosystem. I got to thinking that as bad as this is for Lake Michigan, you have to admire the incredible tenacity and adaptability of these creatures! They’re fish that can frickin crawl on land and more or less come back from the dead!!


Think she saw this one coming?

Filed under: — Melissa @ 1:15 pm

Famed astrologer Joyce Jilson died.

I don’t have any other comments on that, I just wonder if psychics forecast their own demise.


Britches are burning

Filed under: — Melissa @ 10:21 am

Hey hotpants, you might want to get a new act.


Jonah, grab your board

Filed under: — Melissa @ 11:12 am

Seems this surfer caught a whale of a ride.


It’s not easy being green(s)?

Filed under: — Melissa @ 2:42 pm

From the “always inspect your produce before consumption” file, here’s a story about a woman who discovered a live frog in her bagged salad.

I wonder if they should’ve labeled the bag “surprise inside”?

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