Dijon-Tarragon Chicken Zoodles

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Vegetable zoodles are the answer to lower carb diets who still crave  “pasta”.  I find their texture remains a bit too wet in hot dishes and prefer the zoodles in cold salads.  To make a linguine substitute with zucchini noodles, I let the noodles drain in a colander for a half hour to try to get as much moisture out.  Then I flash fried them in a bit of hot olive oil and butter seasoned with garlic, to barely cook them but give them some body and flavor. The Dijon-tarragon chicken in a cream sauce was a delicious topping for a quick week night dinner.

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Mexican Cuisine Recipe Round Up

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Food is the language we all speak. I remember very distinctlly the first time I tasted pizza.  I was 9 years old and visiting Expo 67 in Montréal.  My dad ordered a cheese pizza for me and I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted in my life.  Today’s popular pie was considered exotic cuisine back then.  Now, pizza is widely enjoyed  around the world and most of us don’t give a thought to how it became part of out diets.  Funny how that happens!  Our palates evolve and are  enriched by travel and the wonderful contributions made by immigrants into our communities.  And thank goodness!

I came to Mexican cuisine much later in life.  Moving to the USA 26 years ago certainly exposed me to this popular cuisine, especially that my apartment was across the street from a Mexican restaurant.   But until more recently, my Mexican cooking repertoire was limited to taco night for my family and the occasional guacamole.  When I made my first enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo recently, I didn’t think I had been very adventurous as far as Mexican dishes were concerned.  Searching the blog archives, I was surprised to find several recipes I had made and they had all been reader favorites.  I’ve compiled a collection of these recipes all in one place to help you find them more easily.  Most are super easy to make and certainly are “Americanized” versions of Mexican cuisine.   Click on the highlighted title to access the recipes.   As I prepare to travel to Morocco, I am dreaming of the exotic new culinary adventures I will discover and bring back to share on the blog.  This is my 400th post.  Can it really be true?  Thank you for reading me over the years.   Enjoy!

Chilled Mexican Corn and Avocado Soup

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Front Porch Decorating

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“Porches are America’s lost rooms.”

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

One of my favorite spring rituals is setting up the front porch for warm weather living.  This year, I looked at the porch furniture coming out of storage and suddenly felt I had it all wrong.  I decided to move everything around.  Do you ever do this?   I really love the new design so much more and can’t figure out how I didn’t set it up this way all along.  The porch seems more spacious.  The conversation easier.  Movement around the porch smoother.  There is much more of the pretty outdoor rug, my design starting point, to see and enjoy.  I even had room to add a bar area!  It’s not a huge space but it lives big.  I had to laugh, as I sat on my “newly” designed porch reading the latest Architectural Digest issue, when the words of Bunny Williams, a favorite designer, jumped out at me:  “I get so upset when people ask what’s new in decorating? Just take what you have and make it look new.”  Point well taken Bunny!

You can read about how I first created an outdoor room on the front porch here.  Tour the redesigned space and let me know which version of the porch you like more. But don’t  be seduced by those gorgeous blue hydrangeas on the old porch….They’ll be making another appearance at a porch near you, soon!

One of the biggest changes I made was moving this console table previously used as a room divider to the focal point of the porch. The plate rack with its bird house and green tole garden plate was already on the wall. It makes so much more sense to put the console there. The lanterns and urn are the same as when the table was on the side of the porch. Now they really all work together. The table is also in the middle of the seating area and can be used to serve food when entertaining on the porch.

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Salsa Verde-Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean-Pinapple Salsa

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This was my first enchilada dish and I have to admit they were a huge hit.   I have often been turned off enchiladas because they are often too mushy, drowning in sour cream and excessive cheese.  This combination was just right and lightened up without sour cream.  Instead I served Greek yogurt on the side.  Using bottled salsa verde whizzed up with tons of fresh cilantro in the blender made an easy and quick delicious sauce.  Spicing up the meat from a whole rottiserie chicken with cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, chili powder, lime juice and fresh jalapeno made for a light flavorful filing without a lot of work. The fresh pineapple salsa with black beans was a fantastic side.  I pickled the red onion for a half hour while I prepared the rest of the dish to soften their bite.  Although you could use raw onion and skip this step, the pickling turns the onions a pretty pink color and adds some bright notes to the salsa.  This meal was a test drive for Cinco de Mayo and made me wonder how I could have deprived my family from such delicious enchiladas for so long.  It’s destined to become a favorite.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

For the filling:

  • 8 large soft tortillas(10-12 inch diameter)
  • 1 large rotisserie chicken, skinned, deboned, meat shredded
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, cored, seeds and membranes removed, diced
  • 1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese

Toss the shredded chicken with all the ingredients and set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1 16-once jar of medium heat salsa verde
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, packed tight

In a blender, mix the cilantro and the salsa verde until blended into a smooth sauce.

For the topping:

  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Spread a layer of sauce  in the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ oven proof dish.
  3. Warm the tortillas as you usually do.   I microwaved each one for 20 seconds.  Spread about 1/3 of a cup of the chicken filling across the lower  third of the tortilla.  Roll up and set seam side down on top of the sauce. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled.  Spread the rest of the sauce over the enciladas, leaving about an inch of the tortilla uncovered on each edge. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  4. Bake 20 minutes uncovered in center of oven until cheese is bubbly.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with the black bean-pineapple salsa, cubed avocado, extra lime wedges, Greek yogurt or sour cream.

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Black Bean-Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 14-oz can of black beans, drained
  • 2 cups of fresh pineapple, chopped in bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 large jalapeno, cored, seeded, membranes removed, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup of diced pickled red onion*
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  1. Mix all ingredients in a serving bowl.  Let the flavors blend together at least a half hour.  Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

*To pickle the red onion, in an unreactive bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar, a teaspoon of white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Mix well and add the diced red onion.  Leave to cure about a half hour before adding to the salsa.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

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Rhubarb has the power to evoke wonderful childhood memories for me.  I have always loved it and  find all kinds of ways to use it while it is in season.  This classic cake boasts a whole pound of spring rhubarb on top of a fluffly moist honey cake. Although the original recipe on Delish.com was a vanillla cake, I changed it to be a honey cake with cardamom spice which I find such a winning pairing of flavors with rhubarb.  Enjoy rhubarb season!

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