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Caliente Kitchen

We went back and forth about what to do for dinner when we were in Florida but it’s not an area where we could wander and peruse menus. We spent the day strolling a wildlife refuge peeking at gators and the rest of the day we were on the beach. For dinner we started with mojitos. I got a great blackberry mojito and Mr. J had a super refreshing cucumber mojito.
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Mr. J spotted a few menus but was undecided and I was in the same boat. I saw Caliente Kitchen which was right across the street so we ended up there.

It was such a fun dinner! We both really enjoyed it and were happy with the choice!

Ohh the chips.
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Good thing the chips weren’t bottomless because they were so good we could have kept going! They were fresh and had the greatest seasoning. I think it was chili powder and cinnamon. YUM!

I took my cue from the beautiful beaches and couldn’t get enough seafood. I chose shrimp tacos with a cilantro dressing. There was a nice zest to the sauce and I loved them. I don’t get enough fish tacos.
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Mr. J got traditional beef tacos. He thought they were good and enjoyed the whole thing.
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It was a great last vacation meal before heading back to Boston.

Hola Empanada

Tacos make dinner feel like a party! I couldn’t remember making tacos since living in this apartment (about a year and a half). Mr. J swears we have but I don’t think so. We’ve definitely had burritos and even a tortilla pie, but I don’t think I’ve made hard tacos in years! I wanted something a bit more than a few tacos for the meal so I thought of empanadas….or my version.
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My favorite Mexian would cringe but I LOVE them with puff pastry, rather than pie dough. Since I’m not the slightest bit Mexican, I don’t care. Puff pastry is so flaky and buttery that I can’t switch to pie dough no matter how much of an impostor it makes these.I had a craving for tacos and was loving the fact that these weren’t going to require too many ingredients other than what I had on hand.Again, work is nutty right now and will be for about 40-something more days so tacos were a fun & quick weeknight meal.Remember when I became a genius and started getting up an hour earlier each morning? I chopped my veggies for the empanadas and defrosted some of the other ingredients so I was a step ahead when I got home.

Ingredients

frozen puff pastry sheets, defrosted
1 zucchini, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbs grilling rub, taco seasoning, or chili powder

Directions

Chop zucchini and onion and toss with spices of choice
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Saute until slightly soft
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Unfold puff pastry sheet and cut into 9-3 inch squares
Add zucchini and onion mixture into the center and fold into triangles to close
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Bake 20 minutes at 375 until golden brown
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These are so easy and a great side. Anything goes in empanadas but I think they make for the perfect warm side or appetizer and since I was serving them with tacos, I figured a veggie filling would be best. Puff pastry is flaky and puffs just how the name suggests so mine never seem to stay closed and I’m A-OK with that. This time I pinched the opposite corners together (making them less and less authentic all the time).

My tacos featured ground chicken, refried beans, lettuce, corn, cheese, and salsa in hard taco shells. I used some leftover ground chicken from my lasagna meat mix.

A Comeback with Chicken

I know a few of you felt cheated with the Brownie post. In an effort of full disclosure: I love all food. I love to make things myself and I love that which others make for me too. There are not as many restaurant reviews as I originally anticipated but winter in New England makes us hole up inside sometimes.

I’ve been sick so I agree that my recent posts are not all AMAZING. The other night I did make a pretty amazing meal. Without further ado…I present to you: Smoky Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa. Boo-yeah.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
marinade
spice rub
1 ½ cup chopped mango
1 cup chopped tomato
½ cup chopped roasted red pepper
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp brown sugar
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Marinate the chicken and then dredge into the rub. I used my fav lime salad dressing and a rub blend I got Mr. J in Seattle from the famous Chef Tom Douglas.
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Grill the chicken until cooked through. Since our chicken breasts were so enormous I cut them each in half (yes, those are 2 breasts cut in half, woah!)
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Chop the mango, tomato, roasted red pepper pieces. Add vinegar, oil, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Roughly mix with a fork to incorporate all the flavors. Let stand while chicken finishes cooking.
mango_salsa_290_200Serve over rice with salsa spread on top.
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This was so easy and was wonderful! The chicken was veryyy spicy because of the rub but I liked that combo with the sweet salsa. Mr. J may not have been expecting the kick during his first bite! I hadn’t been sure what to make for dinner when I defrosted chicken early that morning but this was almost all pantry/freezer items!

I used frozen mango chunks that I keep handy for smoothies or when we’re just out of produce and I’m in fruit-withdrawal. Since mango can be so pulpy or fibrous I probably should have chopped it while frozen, but I didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect. Pineapple would be a great alternative!

We ate the chicken & mango salsa over instant brown rice to cut the spice. I steamed some pea pods on the side. I really enjoyed this flavorful & instant dinner! It was refreshing and was a perfect amount.

Pie for Dinner: Tortilla Pie

I was in the mood for something fun and after scouring the fridge I thought about Mexican. I went with a tortilla pie and it was great! All the ingredients were things I had on hand and threw in what I had.

My thought was that it could come out too messy if there was too much liquid. Since flour tortillas won’t absorb much I tried to keep that in mind.

Ingredients

3 flour tortillas
1 can pinto beans
½ cup salsa
2 cups chicken, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 cup brown rice
1 cup corn
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 tbs taco seasoning

Directions

1) Cook chicken with taco seasoning.

2) Cook rice and then mix in spinach. I used instant brown rice and and the spinach wilted perfectly when mixed in. Serve the unused portion on the side. Putting some in will help keep everything from getting soggy.

3) Spray an empty skillet with non-stick spray and toast each side of the tortilla.
4) Rinse beans and add ¼ cup of salsa. Mash the beans and mix the salsa evenly with a few lumps remaining.

5) Layer toasted tortialls with bean spread, chicken, corn, cheese, rice & spinach, and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Repeat layers ending with a tortilla on top.

6) Bake 20 minutes at 350. Sprinkle with cheese if desired and salsa.

I had some leftover breaded chicken pieces that worked really well. The spinach was a good way to add another veggie and tomatoes might have made it too runny. Keeping the salsa out of the pie kept the consistency perfect. I had some salsa con queso cheesey dip so I drizzled some of that too. Mr. J and I liked it a lot and will definitely make it again!