Best Fajita Marinade

Whew!! It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As I mentioned in my last post, my in-laws flew all the way from Ohio to visit us here in China. Never having been to China (as I think is the case for most Americans!), they wanted to do lots of sightseeing. During their 2 week visit we did a lot of traveling. First we flew to Hong Kong, where we walked Nathan Road, road to the top of the peak, shopped till we dropped at the Ladies Market in Mongkok, and just generally wore out the bottoms of our shoes. After Hong Kong we had just 2 days of rest in Suzhou before hopping on a high-speed train to Beijing. In Beijing we climbed the Great Wall, walked in THE Water Cube, toured the Forbidden City, walked Tiananmen Square, and, of course, ate the most delicious noodles ever!

By the time we got back to Suzhou we had just enough time to squeeze in one last bit of excitement – by riding the scooters to Guanqian during rush hour. If you know Suzhou, you know how crazy that is! Needless to say, I’m exhausted! I *almost* didn’t even have the energy to write this post, but I had to because I couldn’t wait any longer to share this recipe!

I first made this marinade last month and I was blown away by the flavor! My search for the best fajita marinade is now over. This keeps the meat (chicken or steak)  juicy and provides just the right amount of heat and citrus. The key/secret to this marinade is the zest. Donna, from Apron Springs, wrote up a great post about it so if you’re interested in reading about why she chose zest over juice, check it out!

 

Here are a few more great marinade/sauce ideas to add variety to your chicken/fish/beef!
Southwest Marinade
Lemon Greek Chicken
Grilled Marinated Mahi Mahi

Honey Sesame Chicken

I am surrounded by delicious, authentic Chinese food and I have lots of local favorites. There is a cabbage dish at a local restaurant that I could literally eat every single day for the rest of my life. I’ve also come to appreciate and love a level of spicy unlike anything I’ve ever had in the US (seriously, not the kind of spicy that makes you sweat, the kind that literally makes your mouth go numb). And there is a green bean dish that I order at every single restaurant that has it. But sometimes….

Well… sometimes I crave American Chinese food. That’s right. I live in China and I crave Chinese food – from America. Food that is sticky and sweet and salty (kind of like the Jack Daniels Glaze). Sad, I know.

I was having one of those cravings a few weeks ago, so I went on the hunt for a recipe. I came across this Honey Sesame Chicken and I knew it would be a winner. This chicken had all of the flavors I was looking for. The recipe originally called for using a crockpot – but I don’t have one here in China, so I just used my dutch oven and cooked it in the oven. It was still very easy and mostly hands off! I’ll include both methods so you can choose!

 

 

2011 Recap

>First, let me get the cliche stuff out of the way… I can not believe that it’s already time to ring in a New Year. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the older I get the faster the year goes. It feels like just yesterday I was still living in Ohio, away from Jesse, finishing up school.

As fast as it’s gone, I think 2011 has treated us pretty well. I graduated from nursing school and passed my NCLEX, I moved to San Diego, I started blogging again (thank goodness for everyone I decided to go back to food blogging or else there might be more weirdo posts about squirrels!), I visited China for 5 weeks, I went to my first blogging conference, and I wrapped the year up by spending time back in Ohio with Jesse and my family.

Of course I can’t forget about the food! In this post I’m going to recap my top 3 favorite savories and sweets from 2011 along with the top 3 reader favorites. Picking only my top 3 favorites was super duper hard, but I didn’t want to this post to be too overwhelming. Clearly I liked all of the recipes on my blog enough to put them on my blog, so for this post I wanted to highlight the ones that I make over and over again or that were just so good I can’t stop thinking about them.

My Top 3 Favorite Savory Recipes from 2011Pineapple Teriyaki Glazed Salmon was one of the best meals of I made this spring. The glaze was so delicious I thought about slurping it up with a straw.

I must have made this Coffee Chipotle Pulled Pork 4 or 5 times this summer. The dry rub makes a ton so I kept it in an airtight container and any time pork was on sale I pulled it out (only had to make a full batch twice). We looove cheesy grits and serving the pulled pork over the grits has become my new favorite way to eat it!

The sauce for this Spinach and Artichoke Mac n’ Cheese was another one I wanted to slurp up with a straw. I ate way more than my fair share of this before finally putting

My Top 3 Favorite Sweet Recipes from 2011

I LOVED these home made Milano cookies. They were so much better than the last bag of store bought Milanos I had. The PERFECT coffee dunking cookies. And of course I love finding a way to make things from scratch in my own kitchen.

Perhaps I am a little biased about this one because it was MY birthday cake. But I put a lot of time and thought into creating this Not-Ice Cream Sundae cake and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. It’s not one that I can make time and time again, because even my elastic waist pants probably wouldn’t fit, but it’s definitely one I’ll never forget and I will most certainly make it again for special occasions.

Over the years I have tried more Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes than I care to admit. Many of them yielded really tasty results. I’ve even thought that I had found “the one” a few times before. But there is just something about this recipe… It’s definitely my new go-to and in the dozen or so times I’ve made them since posting I have had consistently (darn near) perfect results and rave reviews. Not one flop. That says a lot to me.

Top 3 Reader Favorites from 2011
Well, this one comes as no surprise to me. The Pinterest love I got from this post alone was mind-blowing. Thank you to everyone that shared, pinned, tried, and commented on this Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread. It was a close competitor for my own top 3, but since I knew it would be included in reader favorites I decided to leave a spot open for another sweet treat.

I really loved this Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta, so I was very excited that readers loved it too! There is just something about a cheesy, creamy pasta that goes right to your heart. Know what I mean?

Jesse is pretty excited to see that his Cookies and Cream birthday cake ranks so high with readers. It is well deserving of a spot in the top 3 because it was so freaking good. Plus I think the black and white appearance is classic.

So what do you think? Did I miss one of your favorites? Like I said it was TOUGH narrowing down it down to just 3. There were a lot of memorable meals for me in 2011. Hopefully 2012 brings even bigger and better things!! Thank you again to everyone that has taken the time to read, comment, and share my blog over this past year. I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year!

Foodbuzz Festival 2011

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It’s Sunday night and I’m curled up on the couch blogging and watching the Walking Dead, absolutely exhausted from my weekend. I won’t bore you with tons of details but there are a few moments that must be shared. Oh, and I just want to say how fabulous it is to be surrounded all weekend by people who share my interests… and more importantly, don’t look at me like I’m crazy when I take a picture (or 10) of grilled cheese.

So here are some highlights –

I met my friend Nikki at the airport and after navigating the BART we walked up the station stairs and immediately pulled out our cameras.

After meeting up with Joelen, Krystal, and Jessica (and her awesome mom, Ginger) we taxied over to the Ferry Building for some browsing and eating. And guess who walked by with her entourage. Martha Stewart. In leather pants.


(Since the only thing I could do was stare, I had to steal this picture from Krystal. I’m glad someone had the sense to run after her with a camera)

Later we went to the Foodbuzz welcome reception. That’s where I met Joy (the Baker), only one of my favorite bloggers ever. Don’t worry I was as uncool and awkward as ever. What was supposed to come out as, “You’re such an inspiration and I love your blog” came out as, “You’re like a celebrity.” Head, hand, slap.


From left to right: Me, Jessica (My Baking Heart), Nikki (Pennies on a Platter), Joy (Joy the Baker), Joelen (What’s Cookin’ Chicago), Jess (Forgiving Martha), and Nicole (Prevention, RD)
(I stole this picture from Nikki)

The next morning there was a panel discussion and break-out sessions. Lots of things to ponder!

At the Taste Pavillion later there was a surprise visit from TYLER FLORENCE. No more words necessary.

Tyler made another appearance later for a cooking demonstration at the banquet dinner. I also had a chance to redeem myself with Joy (who, by the way, is even more awesome in person!)

We wrapped up the weekend with the large bowls of coffee and pastries at a nearby bakery. The good bye hugs were tough, but luckily there are lots of ways for us to stay in touch. Especially now that I’m on “the Twitter” (that’s for you Jessica!) Woo hoo for joining in on the 21st century fun!