Cinco de Mayo

Guacamole Tortilla Chip-Crusted Nacho Chicken

Prepare yourself, for an awesomely different looking chicken dish – it’s GREEN!! This is not Dr. Seuss’s green eggs and ham, we’re talking about Cinco de Mayo food!

In addition to the delicious strawberry margarita mix from On The Border, which I used to make the cupcakes I shared yesterday, I also received their Monterey Jack Queso, Medium Salsa, and Guac Blast Tortilla Chips. Did I get your attention with that last item? Because it surely caught my eye when I first saw them. They really are very green and since they taste like guacamole you almost don’t need to dip them in anything. But that didn’t stop me from dipping them into the Monterey Jack Queso… MmMmm.

I decided to have some fun with these products and used the chips as the breading for an oven-fried chicken. It resulted in a fabulously green and festive exterior, which was packed with flavor and crunch to boot. The queso was mixed up with some Greek yogurt (my favorite sour cream substitute), to then be dolloped on top of the cooked chicken along with some salsa and cheese. It’s a full blown Mexican fiesta all on one piece of chicken!

Guacamole Tortilla Chip-Crusted Nacho Chicken

One year ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Two years ago: Butterscotch Truffles
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Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

I have a bad habit of forgetting about Cinco de Mayo every year because my birthday is the day before and it is also Star Wars Day (may the fourth be with you). I pretty much have the most amazing birthday ever, right? But when I was contacted by Karla of Truco Enterprises recently, asking if I’d like to try out any On The Border products, I knew it was a sign that I wouldn’t be missing out on posting any recipes for the holiday this year.

Of course, the first thing I was drawn to was the strawberry margarita mix. What’s Cinco de Mayo without a good margarita in hand? As a bonus, On The Border’s margarita mixes are made with all natural flavors and juices, setting them apart from many other manufacturers. After seeing many different margarita cupcake recipes, I knew I had to try making a strawberry margarita cupcake with their mix. And I have to say, they taste fantastic and look brilliant! I even gave them a sugar rim just like the drink itself. Obviously these are not kid friendly cupcakes since they do contain small amounts of tequila, but you can substitute with extra margarita mix if you want a “virgin” cupcake.

These are actually displayed in a huge margarita glass that I own, and will likely need to fill it up with the actual strawberry margarita beverage with the remaining mix on Sunday! Yummy :-)

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

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Spring Salsa

For The Secret Recipe Club this month, I was assigned to Baking and Creating with Avril. She actually had my blog in March of 2012 and she made my Fluffernutter Blondies, so I was excited to explore her blog this time. Initially I was drawn to her Crescent Chicken Packages and Chunky Monkey Oatmeal Cookies, but with Cinco de Mayo coming up in combination with the spring weather, I had to make this salsa.

This salsa was incredibly easy to throw together and disappeared even faster. If you are serving this to more than 2-3 people you might want to consider doubling it. My friend Maggie and I nearly killed the entire thing while watching Hustle and Flow (figured we should watch it since we live in Memphis).

Spring Salsa

Two years ago: Funfetti Month Recipe Round-Up
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Slow Cooker Chicken Nachos

After 6 years of grad school you would think I would be completely dependent upon my slow cooker to provide sustenance. Somehow I’ve only started utilizing it frequently over the past year (and also maintained my blog without depending on it to do the cooking for me) and have discovered a whole new world of slow cooking that I never knew existed. I used to think slow cookers were only for stew-type meals, and a few years ago would’ve never dreamed of being able to cook oatmeal, dessert, or Asian cuisine in it. Most recently I enjoyed slow cooked chicken for tacos, which then lead me to try the same process for nachos.

Although my slow cooker is a bit temperamental and had to cook this on low for only 3 hours instead of the directed 6, at least I know my slow cooker well enough to do so. Since I do not have a slow cooker with a timer on it – just on, warm, low and high – I now use a plug timer. Before I used this method I could only use my slow cooker on the weekends, and that kind of defeats the purpose. Now I set it up right before I leave in the morning with the plug timer turning on a few hours after I leave so that it just finishes cooking when I get home. And what a great meal to come home to! Once it was all prepared with the toppings it was actually hard to believe it came from something as simple as a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Chicken Nachos

One year ago: Cheesy Potato Casserole
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Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla Pie

I thoroughly enjoy cooking with others, but I don’t do it much living by myself. Thankfully my friend Maggie has gotten more into cooking lately and we’ve had a few dinner-made-at-home dates. Most recently we made this quesadilla pie and while making it I showed her a trick for her to use with her new Kitchenaid standmixer (she has the green 6 quart one and I’m jealous – don’t tell my 5 quart). After you cook your chicken (or pluck all the meat off a rotisserie), plop into the bowl of your standmixer, fitted with the paddle, and stir on low. Proceed to watch as it magically shreds it, perfectly!

With that little trick, this recipe becomes super easy prepare. Everything gets mixed together, with a little cheese reserved for the topping, and then goes on its merry way into the oven. I thought it was perfection, but at the same time might add a little jalapeno next time to add a little spice. Maggie’s boyfriend Will thought it was a bit heavy on the cilantro but I didn’t mind. However, some people are more sensitive to it’s flavors so adjust accordingly.

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla Pie

One year ago: Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza

Two years ago: Apple Harvest Oatmeal
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Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

After having highs in the 70s over the weekend, the weather here in Memphis has drastically changed. Two days in a row we have had wintry mix with highs of 32. The warmth we recently had means everything hitting the ground melts and then later turns into ice. Since I grew up in upstate NY none of the wintry weather here phases me, however I do have to drive more cautiously due to the drivers around me and the inefficient systems set up to handle this sort of weather (since it’s not a common occurrence). The university closed at noon yesterday and even though I make jokes about it, I am really pulling for it to be closed at least until 1 pm today so I can get out of doing a journal club presentation. Although I have to go in to do lab work regardless. Priorities.

In other news, I think my slow cooker is incapable of actually cooking things slowly when it is not filled to maximum capacity.  When I make corned beef and cabbage, for example, it is nearly overflowing and cooks perfectly on low for extended hours. But whenever I cook a small amount of chicken, fully covered in liquid but only filling the bowl 1//3 of the way, it cooks in about 2.5 hours on low instead of 5-7. I’m starting to think I need to invest in a smaller crock pot for such recipes because the whole point of the crock pot is to SLOW cook.

Nonetheless, the chicken for these tacos came out wonderful since I made them over the weekend and was able to check on the doneness. Unfortunately, it was done much too soon for dinner but just turned it to the warm function. I added more taco seasoning than the original recipe called because my sister-in-law made them and told me she would’ve preferred more seasoning – a wise move.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

One year ago: Carrot Cake Oatmeal
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Guacamole Seasoning

I am a minimalist when it comes to my guacamole. All I do is mash up two avocados, add some diced Roma tomatoes, then a little salt and a clove or two of minced garlic. And commence inhalation. So when I saw this recipe for a guacamole seasoning, I was a bit hesitant at first because I love my simple guacamole.

But now that I’ve tried it, I would love to make a big batch of this seasoning and store it for later use. Might be a good gift too (since we are becoming ever closer to that gift-giving time of year). I also tried this guacamole with the Trader Joe’s black bean quinoa chips which were fabulous themselves. First time trying those too, and in combination with the guacamole I just might’ve eaten the entire bowl by myself O:-).

One year ago: Breakfast Quesadillas

GUACAMOLE SEASONING

Makes about 1-1/2 tsp seasoning for 2 avocados-worth of guacamole

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp dried minced onion or onion powder

Pinch of cumin, to taste

1/4 tsp dried cilantro

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container if not using immediately.
  2. To make guacamole, mash two avocados with the seasoning, then stir in 1 chopped Roma tomato. Add 1/4 tsp lime juice to prevent browning. Serve.

Source: Adapted from Peas and Crayons.

Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas

Did you ever try the cream cheese chicken enchiladas I posted? They are the #1 most viewed recipe on this blog of mine, so it seems as though you should if you have not yet. But before I send you away, focus on this new enchilada recipe I am sharing with you today. It is another deliciously creamy enchilada, but this one is packed with avocado and some spicy serrano pepper! Do you think it could be a serious contender for the future #1 spot? I certainly enjoyed it and the leftovers :-).

If you are not into spicy things, seed the serrano pepper or use a jalapeno (which is less spicy), and use mild salsa verde instead of medium. I think these could also be prepared ahead of time, but I did not try it out for myself yet.

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Dulce de Leche Brownies

Happy day after my birthday…I mean…Cinco de Mayo! And of course that also means the Holiday Recipe Club is stepping up again to bring you all kinds of festive foods incorporating dulce de leche, chorizo, or tomatoes. I caved into the desserts once again since I have never baked with dulce de leche before. And after seeing this brownie recipe I really could not pass up the opportunity. Just the simple addition of some dulce de leche really kicks these brownies up to a whole new level, while retaining the characteristics of being thick, chewy, and moist – the way all brownies should be.

You can definitely use store-bought dulce de leche, but I went ahead and made my own because it was so easy (and cheaper). You simple take the label off of a regular can of sweetened condensed milk, submerge it under water in your slow-cooker and set on low for 8 hours. Take out, cool and use!

How are you celebrating today? Check out the other recipes linked up at the bottom of this post for more festive ideas! And if you are interested in joining for the next holiday, be sure to visit the HRC contact page.

One year ago: Homemade Salsa
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Raspberry Mango Margarita Pie

For once I feel as though Memphis has experienced the season of Spring for more than a week this year. But sadly, I fear we are now entering the summer heat. I love spring, but ever since I have moved here it just means that the disgusting humidity and heat are right around the corner. I despise breaking a sweat at 7am while walking from my parking garage to the lab. It’s just wrong – the weather will be the #1 reason I move away when I graduate.

High temperatures in the morning are also the reason I feel that ice cream (it only happened once so far -  on my birthday) or a fruit smoothie for Breakfast is acceptable sometimes. No, I did not also eat this pie for Breakfast. I actually made it for Cinco de Mayo, but it’s such a refreshing and satisfying dessert that it’s great all summer long. Which in Memphis is about 6 months out of the year. But there is not a single chance this pie will last more than a couple of days in my home. I’ll just have to whip it up a couple of times, and maybe alternate the fruit combos! Such a hard life ;-).

BTW, I did not have enough of the crust mixture to go all the way up the sides. Maybe I made my crust on the thicker side, but next time I will use more graham cracker crumbs, this change is in the posted recipe.

Ingredients:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2/3 cup sugar, divided

8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup fresh mango, cut into chunks

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

6 Tbsp tequila

1/4 cup triple sec (I didn’t have any so I used pineapple juice)

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Zest of one lime

2 cups heavy cream

Lime slices or wedges, for garnish

Directions:

  1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment, as well as the sides of the springform.  In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and 1/3 cup sugar.  Add the melted butter and toss with a fork until well combined.  Transfer the mixture to the springform pan and evenly cover the sides and bottom of the pan with crumbs (use the bottom of a ramekin to even the bottom crust).  Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  2. To make the filling, combine the raspberries, mango, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, condensed milk, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and lime zest in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.  Transfer to a large bowl.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add one third of the whipped cream to the puree and gently fold in with a rubber spatula.  Stir in the remaining cream.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust, cover, and freeze until firm at least overnight.  To remove the springform sides, wrap a towel soaked in hot water around the outside of the pan for 10-15 seconds.  Carefully remove the sides of the pan.  Before serving, garnish with lime slices as desired.  To serve, slice with a hot, dry sharp knife, wiping the blade between slices.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

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