Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken BreastsWith the exception of East Williamsburg, just about every apartment I rented in New York City had at least one bodega on the corner. In fact most blocks had several bodegas, a couple of Korean fruit & vegetable markets and possibly a Whole Foods/Trader Joes.

Now that we live in the Hudson Valley that’s just not the case any more (though now we own a house and have a garden and a dog and a bunch of chickens*, so okay, fair trade). But the truth is that, even three years later, I’m still adjusting to the idea that I can’t yell out my window and have someone throw a jalapeño at me.

*I didn’t include cats in this list because I always had cats in the city.

So the other day, I’m walking around the grocery store and find that organic, thin-sliced chicken cutlets are on sale. “Awesome!” I say to myself, because I am literally that much of a dork.

Now if you follow this blog at all, you might have noticed that I almost always use thighs for baking and roasting because I think they have much more flavor. But the one thing you can’t do (easily) with chicken thighs? Stuff them.

So now I’m imagining some kind of crispy, panko-crusted chicken stuffed with some sort of cheesy, creamy, spicy deliciousness. Sounds good right? I thought so too, until I got home and realized that I had completely forgotten to get jalapeños which, surprisingly enough, happen to be a rather important ingredient in jalapeño-popper stuffed chicken.

I hemmed and hawed about it for about four seconds before I decided that, yup, nothing else would do. Back to the store for three dollars worth of chiles.

I don’t regret a thing.

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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Blood Orange Margaritas

We ring in the new year with blood orange margaritas, combining the winter citrus with tequila, lime and triple sec to create damn tasty cocktails.

Blood Orange Margaritas
This drink is my vacation.

I know it’s a teeny bit late to say this but… Happy New Year’s Nerds! (Insert obligatory “I can’t believe it’s 2015 already and where the hell’s my hovercraft!”)

I think I’ve mentioned before that Matt and I have our New Year’s Eve ritual down to a science. Or an art. An art sounds better, doesn’t it? We make a fancy appetizer, steam lobsters, buy the crispiest french fries we can find and eat it all on a messy table lined with newspapers and butter drips. Heaven.

But this year we wanted to mix it up a little (imagine a middle-aged person doing jazz-hands when I say “mix it up” so you won’t be disappointed by what I mean). We still made lobsters and fries, of course (why mess with perfection?), but we went totally off-script with our beverage (that’s one of Matt’s hated words so I must use it as often as possible).

Blood Orange Margaritas

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Blackberry-Ginger Fizz

A blackberry ginger fizz is a great cocktail for using up your late summer blackberry haul. Add ginger beer and elderflower and enjoy!

Blackberry Ginger Fizz

There are times in every person’s life when you have to make the hard decisions. When you find yourself at a crossroad. Do you turn left or right? Recently I was faced with one of those decisions. My own personal King Solomon’s choice, except if the baby was a blackberry. A lovely little blackberry.

Here’s how it began. It was an ordinary Sunday morning, unseasonably a little chilly but nice enough for a stroll. Matt and I headed to the Beacon Farmer’s Market, where we often buy our produce supplies for the week.

We usually get there on the early side, a half an hour or so after they open, but this particular Sunday we dragged our feet a little. We were tired, you see. I won’t bore you with the details but we’re in the process of trying to buy our first house and the stress of it had begun to take its toll. For the last month or so, pretty much every night, one or the other of us (sometimes both) will leap out of bed at 3:30 in the morning, convinced beyond all reason that this whole thing is a HUGE mistake.

Or that house we love? A MONEY PIT!

Or there is NO WAY a bank will actually give us a loan. Do they KNOW how bad our jokes are? [Matt is on the phone with the bank right now – apparently, they do.]

So we were tired and slow and showed up at the market late, after the majority of the stalls had been picked clean. Corn? Sold out by noon. Eggplants?  All gone. Sungold tomatoes? Don’t make me laugh.

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Vietnamese-Style Dipping Sauce

Vietnamese-Style Dipping SauceI’m not sure what it is about fish sauce but it’s kind of like flavored crack to me. It’s salty and fermented and shouldn’t be addictive but I’d sneak this sauce into rehab and drink it in the bathroom if I had to. What? Stop looking at me like that.

[It’s worth pointing out that we like Squid Brand fish sauce – other sauces may be available, but we like to stand up for the cephalopods in this household. They can’t stand up for themselves, after all – Matt]

It works really well with Thai Shrimp Cakes or anything that needs a salty/sweet/sour kick. Ready in seconds.

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The. Best. Mojito.

The Best Mojito

Does the world need another mojito recipe? Yes. Yes it does, because this one has a little something extra that, in my tipsy, slightly slurred opinion, takes it to the next level of yumminess. And no, I’m not suggesting you buy an expensive, impossible-to-find rum. Or scour the earth for special ice made from Himalayan mountain water. In fact it’s something really simple. Mint simple syrup…

imageIf you’re not familiar with it, simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar melts. That’s it. It’s when you start infusing syrups that they get really interesting.

We’re growing all this mint on our deck and smelling it seriously put me in the mood for mojitos. I snipped a whole bunch but before I got to muddling, I thought about trying to make a syrup instead. I’m telling you, it’s a revelation. It’s not only intensely minty but you also don’t have to get a mouth full of squashed herbs every time you take a sip. I did still muddle a few leaves but not the massive handful that a good mojito usually needs.

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