Pineapple Basil Chicken Over Cauliflower Rice in Lettuce Boats

It has been hot hot hot where we live in the recent weeks and I have been craving the fresh, juicy and a little bit spicy tastes of summer. 

Last night I made pineapple basil chicken lettuce boats and they were…amazing. Light and refreshing but also totally filling. I will be making this a LOT this summer.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in 3/4″ cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • half of a large vidalia onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • large handful of basil
  • 6 large romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 lemon

For the terayaki-ish marinade:

  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • ginger
  • lemon
  • brown sugar
  • mirin
  • rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil

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The chicken cooks quickly so I prepared everything in advance while the chicken sat in the marinade for about an hour…but could be as little as twenty minutes. 

Cube the chicken and then prepare the marinade. I tend to eye and taste this to make it to my liking before adding the chicken so the measurements aren’t exact. About 1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce, a few squirts of fish sauce, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of mirin, a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, the zest and juice of one lemon, a one inch knob of ginger grated, and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix it all up and add the chicken.

While that marinates, rice the cauliflower (buzz it in the food processor for a bit), slice the pineapple, cut the onion, slice the red pepper and finely dice the skin of one jalapeno pepper (and unless you are brave, avoid the seeds). I also wash the lettuce at this point, too.

When you are ready to cook, divide the cut onion into two batches (for cooking chicken and for cooking “rice”). You will need two pans for this part. I suggest a high sided pan for the rice and a saute pan for the chicken. Add oil to both pans and, once hot, add the onion. Let it cook until translucent. In one pan, add the rice with salt and pepper. In the other, add the chicken, reserving the marinade for later. Cook one side of the chicken until browned and then flip the chicken. It will cook quickly so don’t go too far. Pour in half of the marinade and discard the rest. When the chicken is almost cooked through, add the rest of the ingredients to the chicken and cook until the pineapple begins to brown. The rice will take about the same amount of time to warm through.

To plate, fill the lettuce boats with cauliflower rice and then top with the chicken mixture. Serve and enjoy!

 

Grilled pork tenderloin with Thai-ish green sauce and charred red cabbage

You guys. YOU GUYS! This experiment? Totally worth it. I knew I wanted the charred red cabbage. But I wasn’t sure with what to pair it. It was just hubs and myself so I knew I wanted meat but I had had steak the night before (and hubs had had salmon) and we have been tiring of chicken. So we decided on pork tenderloin. When I went to the store to pick some up, there was the most succulent looking basil hitting me in the face as I walked in. And the mint in the garden is a bit out of control. So I figured why not doing something similar to my chopped chicken, Thai style. Do I stuff it like this recipe? Or make it more like a chimichurri sauce? Or chop up the pork similar to the chicken and mix it all in there together, like this? I decided on something sort of in the middle of all of that. Grill the lime and ginger rubbed pork tenderloin and then make a basil-mint-lime-ginger pesto. And holy cow. It was juicy and flavorful and really delicious.

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Ingredients:

The pork

  • pork tenderloin
  • salt/pepper
  • lime zest
  • ginger
  • thai chili oil
  • grapeseed oil

The pesto

  • 1 cup of basil leaves
  • 1 cup of mint leaves
  • 2 inches off a knob of ginger
  • zest of two limes
  • juice of one lime
  • half of red shallot
  • a few drops of thai chili oil
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil

The cabbage

  • red cabbage
  • balsamic vinaigrette of your choice

When I told Hubs what we were having for dinner, he went outside to get the grill ready. He came inside and said, “okay, we have 20 minutes worth of gas!” so I made this dinner in a MAJOR hurry.  After patting the pork dry, I quickly rubbed on a bit of salt and pepper, a few drops of the chili oil, about a teaspoon of grapeseed oil, the lime zest and ground ginger (using my plane grater). I actually wore a disposable glove for this one because, not only did I have to move quickly, but I had other things going on at the same time and wouldn’t have time to deal with chili on my hands (avoiding my eyes, the kids, etc). Put it on a cutting board and then cut the red cabbage, after having removed the outer layer, into wedges (leaving the core intact), sidling them up beside the pork. Hubs is a master vinaigrette maker and I don’t really know what goes into his (oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, mustard, and sometimes plain yogurt I think…but I asked him to leave out the yogurt on this since it would be on the grill) but really, any vinaigrette would be okay here. I brushed it on one side telling Hubs that that side should go on the grill first.

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Out he went and I got to making the pesto.\

After washing and drying the basil and mint, I threw all of the ingredients into the cuisinart. I pulsed them, using a spatula to pull the displaced pesto back into the mix often, until it was pureed. I tasted as I went adding a dash more of chili oil or jalapeno if it needed more spice or ginger if it needed punch. At one point I considered putting in a bit of plain yogurt to smooth it out a bit…but I’m glad I didn’t. It REALLY didn’t need it.

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Hubs is a master griller so can tell when things are ready by touch. I need an instaread thermometer. With the cabbage, he grilled it until the first side began to wilt and char. He then doused the other side with the vinaigrette and flipped them so that the other side would char…about 10 minutes for the first side (depending on how hot your grill gets)? The pork and the cabbage will take almost the same amount of time to cook so they were a good match. When he taken all of the cabbage and the pork off of the grill, I went out with my jug o’ pesto and doused the entire thing on while it was still toasty.

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This wasn’t just beautiful to look at. It was GOOOOOOOD. Hubs likes his meat a bit more cooked so he took the ends. I like my pork pink in the middle (AS IT SHOULD BE!) so I took the center pieces. Both of us were happy.  The cabbage was caramelized on the outside with some crunch and the interior was a perfect mix of bitter and sweet. The grilling really mellows the flavor and the vinaigrette ups the flavor throughout.

My dad, who was delayed on his flight to visit us last night and didn’t land until 12:30am (5 and a half hours later…) had the last remaining piece when he arrived and, even cold, he was talking about it when he woke up this morning. A hit for sure!

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Salsa and Broccolini

Last night’s dinner was a super success. I had hubs pick out the fish for us when we were at the farmer’s market yesterday (quickly becoming my favorite Sunday morning activity with the kids — helps P try new foods, too!) as I really want to get him involved in the food we eat. The best way to do this (in my experience) is to have him grill the food…and to have him pick it out himself.

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Yesterday he chose a GORGEOUS mahi mahi (after helping P make friends with the little guy to our left…this lil’ dude was about three inches long).

I wasn’t sure what I could do with the mahi mahi as I sometimes have a major fear of “new to me” ingredients. But if he was comfortable grilling it, I was sure I could figure out a side, marinade and/or sauce. Apparently, I mastered two of the three (in hubs’ opinion).

Once we were home and were unpacking the days glory, I noticed that the pineapple that I had purchased two weeks ago (before “the sick”) was on last legs. It had to be used. And from there I got creative!

The fish marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (we used low sodium)
  • 3 limes (zest and juice)
  • 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons of cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt/pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (for the high temps)

The pineapple topping/salsa:

  • At least a cup of freshly cubed pineapple (reserve the juices when cutting)
  • 1/2 of finely chopped vidalia onion
  • 1 tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of super finely chopped jalapeno
  • 12 mint leaves chiffonaded and then finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lime juice

I forgot to take a picture of the final plate…because we dove into it so quickly that I didn’t even have time to consider it. It looked and smelled THAT good.

Before doing anything else, whisk all of the ingredients for the marinade together and then place the fish flesh side down (skin up) into the marinade in a dish (I used a pirex pan).

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Then, go outside and clean the grates on your grill VERY well and coat them in grapeseed oil…while the grill is still cold.  Come back inside and prepare the salsa.

Chop all of the ingredients, mix in a glass bowl, taste and add more heat from the jalapeno if it seems light on heat or add some more lime juice if it needs more acid and let them sit. Make sure you have put back all of the pineapple juices lost when cutting it up. Because hubs likes his food extra hot, I chopped up a bit more jalapeno for him to add after I had plated dinner.

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Once the fish has sat in the marinade for at least 30 minutes, it is ready to grill. Hubs took over at this point but we followed this tutorial. Basically, hot grill skin side down first for 8 minutes or until the bottom side is turning white (1/4 of the way up), flip and cook until the other side is almost completely opaque (about another 8 minutes). Hubs made sure to pour the marinade over the fish throughout the cooking.

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While he was outside cooking the fish, I steamed the broccolini in my wok with the bamboo steamer. I salted the water prior to turning on the heat and squeezed a bit of lemon on it at the very end of cooking.

Once the fish was finished cooking, we served it immediately. And it was freaking DELICIOUS! The perfect mix of hot and sweet and tangy. It tasted fresh and light…but amazingly filling, too. The perfect meal.

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Ginger lime chicken with leeks and broccolini

M was out with some buddies for dinner the other night and the girls were out with some friends so I was home cooking for myself. I didn’t feel like doing TOO much but felt like I wanted a little zing with a lot of veg. 

Chicken:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • the juice of 1 large lime
  • about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • a dash of olive oil (you can add a bit of sesame oil, too, if you’d like)
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped

In a glass bowl I put the soy sauce, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper, and olive oil. I pulled my knob of ginger out of the freezer where I keep it in a zip lock and grate a knob over the marinade. I whisk it for a second, separate and reserve two tablespoons of the mixture and then let it sit while I prepare the leek. I chopped off the green ends and the bottom portion of the leek, left only with the whites, and cut them into thin, long strips. I then placed those strips and the tenders in the marinade while I prepared the broccolini.

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I rinsed the broccolini and then put it in a bamboo steamer to steam on low heat until bright green.

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When the broccolini was finished, I turned off the heat and let them sit, uncovered, on the stovetop while I cooked the chicken. It goes pretty quickly so do this maybe 10 minutes before you want to eat. This is best served quickly and warm because of the saucey, caramelized bits.

In a heavy bottomed saute pan over med-high heat, warm a teaspoon of olive oil. Once glistening, add the onions and cook for a minute until they are starting to become translucent. Push them to the side of the pan and, using tongs, add the chicken and leeks to the pan.  

Once the chicken is browning slightly, flip the chicken and pour on the reserved marinade. Make sure to mix the onions and leeks into the marinade as well. Using a insta-read thermometer, pull them off the heat at 160ish as they will continue to cook once you take them off the heat. Mix the pieces together on the bottom of the pan as the marinade will have caramelized and is DEVIIIINE.

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Squeeze a lemon over the broccolini and add a few thinly sliced pats of butter (more like a shave). I also shook a tiny bit of parm over the veg. Then put two tenders on a place with the leeks and onions on top. Et voila! The chicken was SPECTACULAR. Succulent, savory, a bit of zing from the ginger and a little smidge of sweet, too. The broccolini was hearty and yummy. Quite a good meal for a lady on her own 🙂

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Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi and Mama’s Asparagus Salad

Last night was another “experimenting” with what is available kind of night. In my freezer I had frozen Trader Joe’s Mahi Mahi filets and a knob of ginger. In my refrigerator I have three bunches of asparagus. And on my counter I had a handful of “on the brink” basil and some “starting to shrivel” cherry tomatoes. I wanted to use that basil. I didn’t realize when I started that the tomatoes would really make this meal.

The Salad:

  • 3 bunches of asparagus
  • large handful of basil
  • tablespoon  of pine nuts
  • table spoon of good olive oil
  • table spoon of balsamic glaze
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt/pepper
  • 10 cherry tomatoes

The Fish:

  • 2 small filets per person, so 8 small filets
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
  • salt/pepper

Knowing that my kitchen would turn into a madhouse at 530 when the kids came up to eat, I decided to roast the asparagus early and then reheat it at the end. I cleaned and broke the asparagus, lining it up on a pan as so:

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I salted and peppered and oiled them up and placed them in a 425 degree oven on the top shelf.

While those cooked I marinated the fish. In a bowl I whisked the soy, honey, balsamic reduction, olive oil and ground ginger. In a Pyrex dish I poured the mixture then placed the fish, skin side down, covered and refrigerated until I was ready.

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Next was the sauce for the salad. I knew I wanted to use the basil but wasn’t sure how. So, I thought, maybe a pesto of sorts? I chopped up a bit, added some pine nuts and a bit of olive oil and, using my immersion blender, puréed the ingredients. It tasted bitter so I added a bit of lemon. Better, but not quite right. Salt and pepper? Better still, but not 100%. Balsamic reduction?! Almost there! A few overripe cherry tomatoes?!! By Jove! It was delicious. But I needed more of this…so I did it again in a bigger bowl.

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I had to stop myself from drinking this concoction. I could eat that every day.

When the asparagus were close to done, I removed them and set them aside until we were at the end.

While the kids ate, I toasted 1/3 cup of pine nuts and set them aside.

Fast forward an hour and the family was close to being ready to eat. I put the oven at 400 and, after turning the fish to coat twice, they went into the oven for 15-20 minutes. When I turned them halfway through the cooking, I put the asparagus back in the oven below the fish. I also quickly cooked up the pancetta, draining it on a paper towel. Remove the fish from the oven when it starts to flake and put the fish on a plate. Pour the marinade into the pan in which you just cooked the pancetta and cook the mixture down a bit. Add a tiny bit of arrow root if it needs thickening.
Put the asparagus, pine nuts, pancetta and sauce in a large bowl and mix. I’m not kidding when I tell you that you may have to hold yourself back from devouring the entire thing right then and there.

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I maaaaaaay have eaten the leftover pine nuts and pancetta with a serving spoon, standing in the kitchen, right before going to bed. It was that good.

After plating the fish and salad, pour the reduced ginger glaze over the fish. Enjoy!

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