More Chicken I Don’t Hate…Who Knew?

Buffalo Lime Chicken

I kind of knew that the moment I went public with my hatred for chicken, chicken recipes galore would flood my brain. I was right. So maybe I don’t hate chicken at all. Maybe I just hate chicken done wrong. Yes, we’ll go with that. Chicken done wrong is gross, but THIS chicken was done right!

Say hello to buffalo-lime chicken. This is perfect for a quick weeknight meal and yet tasty enough for a weekend cook-out. The key to chewy-piece-free chicken is to cut away all of the icky-ness before you ever begin cooking. That’s right, don’t just pull the the chicken out of the plastic wrapped styrofoam and cook it as is. Yuck! That’s how you end up with the yucky bite that makes you want to dump the whole breast in the trash. It’s happened to me one too many times- usually at a restaurant. Maybe that’s why I tend to like chicken I prepare a little better. I can control it. I’m a bit of a control freak anyway so that makes sense. For this recipe I used three chicken breasts to make enough for three people. First cut away all of the slimy, nasty, stringy bits, then slice the breasts into 3 tenders each. Season the tenders with salt and pepper, marinate in the hot sauce-lime mixture, then simply grill to perfection. So easy and so yummy!

Happy cooking!

Buffalo Lime Chicken 

1 cup of your favorite hot sauce (I prefer Louisiana)
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  1. In a bowl, combine hot sauce, garlic salt, lime juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Stir to combine.
  2. Toss trimmed chicken tenders with hot sauce mixture and let marinate one hour or overnight.
  3. Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates to keep chicken from sticking.
  4. Grill chicken for 3 minutes per side or until cooked throughout. If need be, place seared chicken on the top rack away from direct heat to keep outside from burning while allowing the inside to cook.
  5. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and hot sauce, ranch dressing and/or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Buffalo Lime Chicken Tenders

Bourbon Bacon Burger with Pimento Cheese

CAUTION: Things may appear fuzzy after eating this burger…or even after just looking at this burger. It’s the bourbon! …Only kidding. The camera played a mean joke on me and not one photo of this gorgeous burger came out in focus. My apologies! 🙂

 

I have two words for you– Bacon. Jam.

Make that three words– BOURBON. BACON. JAM.

Let’s pause for a moment to reflect…

BJ dreamed up this burger last weekend as we were in the mood for something out-of-the-ordinary and fun.

“Have you ever had bacon jam?” He asked from the kitchen.

I had, and he had too, he just didn’t remember. We had bacon “marmalade” atop a tiny mason jar of pimento cheese when we dined at Hugh Achenson‘s Empire State South in Atlanta. It was a scrumptious little appetizer, as anything served in a mini mason jar usually is. I reminded BJ of that date night almost a year ago now, and then these burgers happened. He was inspired and my mouth was watering in anticipation. BJ came up with every component of these Burgers- the bourbon bacon jam, the pimento cheese, and the pretzel bun between which it would all be nestled. I helped him carry it out by flying to the nearest grocery store during the kids’ naps, then coming home and furiously grating cheese, crisping bacon, and basically completing all of the prep work so he could throw it all together. The results were AHHH-MAZING!

Bourbon Bacon Jam needs to live in your refrigerator, perhaps in a cute little jar, for the duration. Yes, you will be tempted by it on a daily basis. Yes, it’s likely definitely not the healthiest condiment in the world. But man…it’s good. As Joey Tribbiani from FRIENDS would say,

“Bacon? Good!”

“Shallots? Good!”

“Brown sugar? Good!”

“Bourbon? Goooood!”

Slather it on a cracker, a biscuit, or some toast. Use it to add some oomph to your next grilled cheese, or maybe stir it into some polenta or grits. However you eat it, you’re going to be glad you know how to make it.

On a side note, this pimento cheese recipe is no slouch either. Inspired by the recipe from Husk in Charleston, SC, this little bit of goodness took me less than 5 minutes to prep and really hit the mark. The original recipe called for bourbon as well, but I wanted it to be kid-friendly and there was already enough bourbon in the bacon jam to go around. Feel free to keep it in there if that’s your fancy.

To pull all of these components together, don’t skimp on the pretzel bun if you can help it. We found ours at Whole Foods, but I’m sure some of the other higher end mainstream stores carry them as well. The bun was almost my favorite part, probably because I just thought it was so smart of my hubby to suggest it. We’ve had a lot of fun picking out special buns for our burgers lately. It really takes a ho-hum burger to a whole other level. Even if all you can find is King’s Hawaiian Buns, it makes a huge difference!

You’re going to love this burger! It’s a winner on every level and will undoubtedly be the star of your next cookout. I’m not going to put this burger on next week’s meal plan…I think it might be too much for a weeknight dinner. However, since the recipe is posted here you can make that call for yourself! 🙂 If you need help with other dinner ideas, meal plans and shopping lists there has never been a better time to subscribe. As part of a Ladies Night Out event happening in Orange County this week, I’m running a HUGE discount on annual memberships. New members get 80% off with the coupon code “ocladiesnightout”. That’s just ten bucks for an entire year! Crazy, I know. The code is good until August 1st. Happy cooking!

Bourbon Bacon Burger with Pimento Cheese (4-5 servings)

1.5 lbs. ground beef (I use 85% fat for juicy burgers)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
salt and pepper, to taste
canola oil, for brushing
butter lettuce, leaves separated
Bourbon Bacon Jam (recipe to follow)
Pimento Cheese (recipe to follow)

  1. Using your hands, gently mix beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, salt and pepper until just combined.
  2. Divide beef into 4 or 5 equal portions and shape into patties. I like to flatten mine out as much as possible and then press a small well into the center of each to keep them from turning into burger meatballs on the grill.
  3. Brush a small amount of canola oil on each side of the burger patty and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat and oil a grill to high heat. Once it’s screaming hot, lower the heat to medium and add the burgers. Close the grill. After 4-5 minutes, flip the burgers and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Check for desired doneness and move to a top rack to finish cooking if needed.
  5. Build the burgers by topping the bottom of the pretzel bun with the patty, some butter lettuce, 2 tablespoons (AT LEAST!!) of bourbon bacon jam, and 2 tablespooons (AT LEAST!!) of pimento cheese. Serve. Swoon.

bourbon bacon jam

Bourbon Bacon Jam

1.5 lbs. good bacon
1 cup of shallots, finely chopped
2 cups sweet onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ cup bourbon
½ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Lay a wire rack inside a sheet pan and line the rack with the bacon. You may have to do this in batches or use two pans.
  2. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bacon is extra, extra crispy. Set aside and reserve a few tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once bacon has cooled, chop it up finely.
  4. Heat reserved bacon fat in a large skillet or sauté pan on medium heat. Add shallots and onion and cook until caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so longer.
  5. Carefully deglaze the pan with the bourbon, scraping up any bits that have formed along the bottom of the pan. Add the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika and chopped bacon. Continue to cook for about ten minutes or until the mixture starts thickening up and looks like jam.
  7. Drain any excess fat off and pour into jars. Store in the refrigerator. Can be served cold or warmed up in the microwave and slathered all over anything that looks like it needs a slathering. 🙂

 

Pimento Cheese

 

Pimento Cheese

3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup jarred sliced pimiento, rinsed and finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add all other ingredients and combine.
  2. Store in the refrigerator.

pimento cheese crackers

It’s Thanksgiving in June!

turkeyburger Are we seriously already closer to THIS Thanksgiving than we are LAST Thanksgiving? That’s crazy to me! I swear the holidays just passed, didn’t they? Well apparently not because my calendar says June 3rd and everyone is talking about what to cook on the grill and what to drink on a hot summer day. I guess I’ll jump on board. BJ and I are still on our healthy-ish eating kick, so the other night when a burger craving hit we decided to only half way indulge by grilling up some turkey burgers. Turkey burgers are an awesome alternative to beef. Done correctly they can still be juicy and flavorful with much less fat. A friend of ours grills up the most delicious turkey burgers I’ve ever had, but they are HOT, HOT, HOT! He uses, chipotle peppers, pepper jack cheese and more chipotle peppers. They are super juicy and yummy but they will set you on fire! Since I’m breastfeeding and not hoping to set my six week old’s tummy on fire, I thought we should go a different route this time around. That’s when BJ suggested Thanksgiving turkey burgers. Intriguing. You could really go all out with this theme, but we just used what we already had on hand. The burger patties were mixed up with fresh parsley, thyme and caramelized shallots. They were topped with smoked provolone cheese, fresh arugula and a delicious pepper jelly-cranberry sauce spread. It was just enough kick to wake up your tastebuds balanced with the right amount of sweetness from the cranberry sauce and smokiness from the provolone cheese. Thanksgiving on a bun! If you’re feeling the need to channel Thanksgiving in June, give this one a shot!

Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup red pepper jelly
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
4 slices smoked provolone
2 cups baby arugula
4 Kings Hawaiian hamburger buns
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté shallot until softened and beginning to caramelize. Set aside.
  2. Combine ground turkey, parsley, thyme, shallots and salt and pepper, mix gently with your hands. Divide into four equal parts and form four patties.
  3. Heat a grill to high heat. Oil the grates to keep meat from sticking. Once grill is smoking hot, reduce heat to medium and put patties on. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side, flipping only once.
  4. Towards the end of cooking, top each patty with a slice of cheese and let melt.
  5. Meanwhile, combine pepper jelly and cranberry jelly. Set aside.
  6. To build burgers slather cranberry-pepper relish on bottom bun and top with turkey patty. Add another small amount of relish to the top of the patty and then top with arugula. Top with bun. Serve.

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Dadgum That’s Good…and Healthy!

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I recently had the great honor of having a recipe and bio published in my friend John McLemore’s cookbook, Dadgum That’s Good…and Healthy! John is the President and CEO of Masterbuilt Manufacturing, a company based in Columbus, GA that designs and builds grills, smokers, electric fryers, and more. I can speak from experience in saying that these products are AWESOME! I used the indoor turkey fryer when I cooked for the Purvis family beach trip this spring and had delicious results. I used to it to fry up homemade french fries that were so crispy and perfect they were gobbled up in about five minutes, and even replaced the frying oil with water the next night and prepared a low country boil that fed 20 adults. The versatility is amazing and the results are top notch every time. My next guilty pleasure will be purchasing the updated electric smoker. I can’t imagine an easier way to prepare a meal for a crowd that not only fills everyone’s belly, but leaves them wishing for more smokey goodness. Merry Christmas to me, BJ?

This cookbook is full of delicious recipes that are super tasty and yet waistline-friendly. Some of my favorites include Bobby Deen’s Grilled Corn with Pimento Cheese on page 45, the Thumbs-Up Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches on page 91, and the Piri Piri Chicken on page 151. Also, don’t forget to check out my spread on page 127. My recipes for Salsa Verde Skirt Steak and Grilled Green Bean Salad are absolutely worth checking out.

To snatch up your own copy of Dadgum That’s Good…and Healthy! click here.

Grilled Carrots with Citrus-Honey Dressing

It’s officially Summer and I am officially obsessed with grilling. Maybe it’s because as the temperatures rise it just gets too darn hot in my house to stand over the stovetop, but whatever it is, I would much rather spend my evenings cooking outside. Grilling is summer what roasting is to winter. If you’re into food at all you’ve probably noticed the roasting craze that has taken over Pinterest, food television, and cooking blogs. “When in doubt, roast it!” they say. I totally agree and 100% subscribe to that mantra. In the wintertime everything tastes better roasted. Roasted brussels sprouts, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, asparagus…you name it, it can be roasted. However, enter Summer and the oven takes a back seat to it’s cooler, adventurous, macho brother- the grill. If you can roast it, you can grill it. Since both methods are dry heat cooking they are practically interchangeable.

Why is it then, that most of us only use the grill to cook protein? Silly! Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we were able to complete an entire meal outside on the grill? No running back and forth…inside and outside…outside and inside. Craziness! I know every time I’m supposed to be manning the grill and the stovetop at the same time something suffers, and it’s usually whatever I’m grilling. What good is perfectly creamy risotto if the New York Strip you were planning to serve it with looks and tastes like beef jerky? Biggest bummer ever!

That’s why I’m making it my mission to keep it all outside this summer. If my meat is supposed to be grilled then my side dish will be too. Simple. Prep it all inside and then take it all outside to do the cooking. No more running to and fro like a crazy person trying to manage two ticking time bombs at once. I’m simplifying my summer cooking and meal planning.

So far this summer I’ve grilled bread for bruschetta, cherry tomatoes for a taco topping, green beans for a tangy salad, limes before squeezing them into guacamole, carrots for a sweet and smokey side dish, and yukon gold potatoes for a killer potato salad.  I’ll have to share that potato recipe soon. I served it to my meat-and-potatoes-loving Dad and he LOVED it.

Start thinking about your side dishes when you plan to fire up the grill. Is there any reason why they can’t hit the grates as well? Just to prove that it can be done I want you try this grilled carrot recipe soon. I sliced my carrots into 1/4 inch thick strips, tossed them with salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil, and then dropped them right on the grill. The grill marks create a sweet, caramelized crust that brings out the carrots’ natural sweetness. Then toss it with a honey-citrus dressing, fresh mint and feta cheese, and you have a super unique and tasty take on this boring old root vegetable. Enjoy- and get grilling!

grilled carrots

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonade (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat a grill over medium heat. Toss carrots with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Combine orange juice, red wine vinegar, honey, 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil and dijon mustard. Whisk vigorously until combined and slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Grill carrots for 2 to 3 minutes per side with the grill closed, careful not to burn. If needed, remove carrots from direct heat and continue cooking over indirect heat until softened and cooked through.
  4. Toss carrots with dressing, mint and feta cheese. Serve.

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