Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce

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We got a sneak peak of grilling weather the week before last – a few days of temps in the 70s. After this brutally cold winter, it was such a nice, welcome change. Of course, things are back to a more seasonal low-60s, with the evenings just a little too chilly to comfortably grill.

During our sneak peak, though, I happily busted out some recipes I had bookmarked last year and didn’t get around to trying. These kabobs were by far the favorite of the week, so I wanted to share them for those of you lucky enough to live in a slightly warmer climate. Seriously, if you don’t already have dinner plans for tonight, this is what you should be making. The chicken is good by itself, but the avocado sauce really seals the deal here. I could have eaten it with a spoon. (And, may have finished off the extra that way…)

Chipotle Chicken Kabobs
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 4

Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 chipotle chili in adobo
2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into uniform chunks

for the avocado cream sauce:
1 avocado, split and pitted
1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, oil, salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, garlic, brown sugar and chipotle. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes – I left mine overnight and it turned out fantastic.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Thread the chicken onto skewers and cook, turning once or twice until all sides are slightly browned and chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

To make the avocado cream sauce, add the avocado, Greek yogurt, garlic and lime juice to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with kabobs for dipping.


Make it Yourself Monday: Ranch Veggie Dip

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Raw veggies are a dinner staple around here. On nights I’m too busy (or, too lazy) to make a real side, we’ll just toss whatever veggies are in the fridge on the table for munching. Occasionally, we’ll buy a veggie dip to go with it – but when I realized how unhealthy our favorite one is, it started making the grocery list less and less often.

When we volunteered to bring a veggie tray for Easter, I knew I wanted to make my own dip to go with it. When I asked around, Branny offered up this version. It looked a lot healthier than our store-bought go-to, so it won out – and it was delightful. After making this, I can honestly say we won’t be buying it again!

 

Ranch Veggie Dip
(from Branny Boils Over)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dried dill
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Eggplant Parm Burgers

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Today’s the last Friday of Lent and the Lenten dinner blog series was admittedly sort of a bust this year. We ended up revisiting a lot of old favorites – and getting a fair amount of pizza. Still, I couldn’t let Lent end without sharing these.

As soon as I saw these on Josie’s blog, I knew I had to make them ASAP – a mashup of burgers and eggplant parm? I’m so in. These were just as good as I was hoping they’d be. They also froze well – I stuck too in the freezer for a busy night and they came out just as good as the first time.

I think these officially displaced the black bean burgers for my favorite meatless burger.

Eggplant Parm Burgers
(from Pink Parsley)
Makes 4 Burgers

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 – 2 lbs.)
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil, plus more for serving
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup marinara sauce
Sliced mozzarella cheese
Hamburger buns
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
Garlic powder

Preheat your broiler. Lightly spray a foil-lined baking sheet. Peel the eggplant and slice into coins about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange on the sprayed baking sheet in a single layer. Using 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, brush both sides of the eggplant rounds. Season with salt and pepper. Broil for about 7-10 minutes, until golden brown. Watch them closely to make sure you don’t burn them! Remove from oven and cool until able to handle.

Roughly chop the eggplant and place in a food processor. Add the panko, parmesan, parsley, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes and egg to the food processor too. Pulse until evenly mixed. Form into four patties and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and heat a nonstick, oven-safe skillet with the remaining oil over medium heat. Transfer the eggplant patties to the skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Top each burger with 1 Tbsp. of the marinara sauce and a slice of cheese and move the skillet to the oven. Bake about five minutes, until cheese is  melted and sauce is heated through.

While the patties bake, spread the butter on the cut side of the buns and sprinkle generously with garlic powder. Arrange, cut-side up on a baking sheet. Place in the oven when you take out the eggplant patties and toast lightly. Serve eggplant patties on garlic bread buns.


Peanut Butter Fudge Pie

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I made this because I knew my husband would love it.

He generally gets the short end of the stick when it comes to meal planning – I do the cooking and make the shopping list so I get final say about what’s on the menu. It’s not that I disregard what he likes or doesn’t like – it’s just that I’m sure the meal plan would look a lot different if he was the one making it up. He’s a really good sport about it all, so periodically I’ll make something I know will be completely up his alley. Like, this pie.

This is creamy, peanut-buttery goodness. We happily devoured every bite.

Peanut Butter Fudge Pie
(slightly adapted from Taste of Home)
Makes 1 pie

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 chocolate crumb crust
2/3 cup hot fudge ice cream topping

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the peanut butter and sugar until well combined and then fold in the whipped topping.

Transfer the peanut butter mixture to the crust and spread evenly.

Using the microwave, heat the hot fudge sauce until spreadable. Pour over the peanut butter layer and  spread to cover. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.


Honey BBQ Chicken Wraps with Broccoli Slaw

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One of the most common questions I get asked when people find out I’m expecting is, “Do you have any cravings or food aversions?” For the most part, the answer has been no. I’ve been lucky enough to continue eating fairly normally throughout the whole pregnancy (albeit, with lots more cooking help from Mark).

My one hang up? Chicken. For some reason, I just could not do a chicken we cooked here until about halfway through the pregnancy. Chicken at a restaurant? Fine. Pre-cooked, store-bought chicken? Fine. Any sort of home preparation? Blech.

Rather than trying to force the issue, I just worked around it as much as possible – which is where sandwiches like these came in. These are super minimal effort and time (fifteen minutes, tops), but still made me feel like I was making dinner. And coupled with the sauce and broccoli slaw, it didn’t feel like a straight-out-of-the-freezer section meal either.

I’m sure this is a dish I’ll revisit once baby boy is here and we need quick meals.

 

Honey BBQ Chicken Wraps with Broccoli Slaw
(very slightly adapted from I Should Be Mopping the Floor)
Serves 4

4-8 (depending on size) Honey BBQ chicken strips (I bought Tyson brand – you could make these at home pretty easily too)
4 burrito-sized wraps

For the slaw:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
3 cups broccoli slaw

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Bake the chicken according to package directions.

While the chicken bakes, mix together the ingredients for the slaw, tossing to coat the broccoli slaw evenly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside until chicken is done cooking.

Once the chicken is done, spread 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the sauce on each wrap. Divide chicken between wraps. Top chicken with broccoli slaw. Wrap up burrito style and cut in half to serve.


Irish Cream Double Chocolate Cookies

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This month’s What’s Baking theme was Irish Cream – perfect for the holiday. We’re not Irish, so it’s not a big holiday for us, but I do use it as an excuse to invite our family over and make a big pot of beef and Guinness stew so making an Irish cream dessert for our get together was a no-brainer.

Irish cream liquor is not something we regularly keep in the house (and, since I’m pregnant, I’ve been trying to avoid buying bottles that will just sit around) so I was excited that these cookies use Irish cream coffee creamer instead of liquor. It ends up giving the same type of flavor, but was much easier for just one recipe – a win-win. These cookies were soft and fluffy and had just a nice, subtle Irish cream flavor. I’m sure I’ll be making them for future St. Patrick’s Day parties!

You can check out the rest of the Irish cream dishes other bloggers baked up on The Redhead Baker later this month.

Irish Cream Double Chocolate Cookies
(very slightly adapted from Something Swanky)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Irish cream coffee creamer
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Using a stand mixer, beat together the butter and shortening. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg, creamer and vanilla.

Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Rolls into 1″ balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Black Bean Fajitas

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One of the hardest things about meatless Fridays, for me, is that I don’t usually cook on Fridays. It’s our typical date night so we’re usually going out. But, when I go out I’m always drawn to a burger. Or steak. Or something else that’s off the menu on Lenten Fridays. So, we stay home and I cook, even though I usually don’t want to.

Quick meals make it easier to not throw in the towel and order a pizza. These were whipped up in no time and they were really good.

Black Bean Fajitas
(from One Hundred Dollars a Month)
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1  red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 zucchini, halved and sliced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cilantro, optional
Tortillas, for serving

In a large skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Add in beans, pepper, onion and zucchini and cook until the veggies are nearly done. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes.

Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. Serve in tortillas.


Funfetti Cupcakes for Two

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Pickle dip. Ice cream bread. I bet you know what’s coming next, right? I won’t be cooking for two much longer – we’re expecting our first child this summer! We’re over-the-moon excited.

We found out last week that the baby is a boy, so it seemed appropriate to whip up something special to celebrate. I had blue and white sprinkles on hand already so funfetti was the obvious choice. There was lots of kicking going on after eating mine, so I’m sure baby boy liked them too.

I’m planning to continue blogging, although posts may be a little less frequent as we make the transition to a family of three. I’m also planning to share how we’ll stock the freezer pre-baby, keep ourselves fed post-baby and (eventually) how we’ll make our own baby food. I’m excited to continue sharing our cooking journey and hope you’ll be along for the ride!

Funfetti Cupcakes for Two
(from Chocolate and Carrots)
Makes 2 cupcakes

1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. milk
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Beat the canola oil, egg, milk, vanilla extract and sugar together. Add in the flour and baking powder. Fold in the sprinkles, being careful not to over mix. Pour into two prepared muffin liners in a muffin pan.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool and then ice as desired.


Ice Cream Bread

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This is a really great recipe to have in your arsenal. It’s quick and uses ingredients that I always have around. It’s perfect for a quick after school snack or oops-I-forgot-I-was-supposed-to-make-dessert occasions.

The flavor of the bread comes from the ice cream, so you can use any flavor you want. I went with a basic vanilla ice cream and mixed in chocolate chips – it was great. I think mint chocolate chip ice cream with crushed Oreos would be really fun, too.

Ice Cream Bread
(from Stephanie Cooks)
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups softened ice cream (I used vanilla)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix ins of your choice, optional (chocolate chips, sprinkles, fruit, crushed Oreos, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in softened ice cream until well combined. Fold in mix ins. Place in a greased loaf pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before removing from pan.


Dill Pickle Dip

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My friend Sarah brings up pickle dip whenever we start talking about appetizers. Or football food. Or any other snack-food occasion. And every time she mentions it, I think, I really should make that. I finally got around to it and I’m totally kicking myself for waiting so long.

I’m a huge pickle fan, so this was totally up my ally. Mark and I polished off an embarrassing amount of it while watching a basketball game. It’d be a great snack for March Madness (or, because it’s green, St. Patrick’s Day!).

Dill Pickle Dip
(from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup chopped dill pickles
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2- 4 Tbsp. pickle juice (depending on how thick you want the dip to be)
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients well and refrigerate until ready to serve.