Barbacoa Beef for Burrito Bowls

I love parties, I love to cook, I love to make cakes, and I love to entertain, so when one of our friends had a birthday recently, it only felt right to throw a party for her! I knew right away that I wanted to make some kind of Western foods. Something new and different for the birthday girl. Thinking about how much she likes spicy food, Mexican food came to mind. I’ve been absolutely CRAVING Chipotle recently, so I’m not surprised that’s where my mind went. 🙂

With Chipotle on the brain, I came up with party menu plan. Being a little nervous about how my guests react to Mexican food, I thought a buffet style meal would be a safe way to go. That way everyone could take as little or as much of each food as they wanted, and everyone could build their own burrito bowls. I am happy to say the party was a success and the guests devoured the food!

For the bowls I made cilantro-lime rice, black beans, barbacoa beef, and pico de gallo. And because no bowl would be complete without it, I also had freshly grated cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Keep an eye out because next week I’ll be sharing the cake that I made for the party! It’s a pretty one!

 

 

 

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

This is a recipe I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. Jesse loves crispy breaded chicken, especially if it’s stuffed with cheesy gooey goodness and I love jalapeno poppers. It’s like cream cheese and jalapenos are a match made in heaven.

I have no idea why I waited so long to finally give this recipe a try but it’s a keeper and is definitely going to be a regular at our table. The only adjustment I made was to use Panko breadcrumbs with a added seasonings instead of a mix, since Panko is easier to come by in China. I served the chicken with a side salad and corn casserole (recipe to come). Yum!

 

 

Spicy Cold Noodles

Last summer when I was just visiting China and no idea I would ever actually live here, I took pictures and made notes of my favorite foods. Some dishes I just had to learn how to make on my own. That’s exactly how I felt about this noodle dish. It’s like a Chinese pasta salad. Cold, refreshing, and spicy all at the same time. It is easily one of my favorite dishes here and Jesse can’t get enough of it either.

Lucky for me I have some pretty great local Chinese friends. Almost exactly a year ago I posted about our friend Mandy teaching us to make dumplings, now she has taught me how to make these cold noodles. My 24×24 party was the first time I made them on my own.  I  have to admit, I was a little nervous making it on my own for a group of Chinese food experts, but this dish was the hit of the party and disappeared in the blink of an eye.



Spicy Cold Noodles 

Ingredients
~12 oz Chinese Noodles*
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup cucumbers, cut into thin matchsticks
1/4 cup green onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, plus more for garnish
2 cloves garlic, very finely diced
2 Tbsp very finely chopped peanuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark rice vinegar (white rice vinegar also works)
2-3 tsp chili oil **
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp white sugar

*Noodles can be found in the Asian aisle of your grocery store, may also be labeled Rice Noodles. Thin, spaghetti like, noodles are best, but thicker noodles, like in the photo, also work. My noodles came in a roll and I used 1/2 of the roll, which I guess to be about 12 oz.
**If you can find Lao Gan Ma brand in the Asian aisle or at an Asian grocery store, use that! Or look for a chili oil that has chilies in the oil. 


Directions
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally*.  While the noodles are cooking, prepare a cold water bath. When the noodles are cooked to al dente, drain and immediately place in the cold water bath. Let sit for 2 minutes then drain again and place in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil to prevent from sticking. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and peanuts and cook for just 30 seconds to 1 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant (you’re not trying to cook the garlic, you’re just trying to take a little of the edge off). Immediately remove from heat and add, along with the cucumber and green onion, to the noodles. Set aside.

In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, and sugar. If you like a lot of spice, add more chili sauce or a pinch of dry red pepper flakes. Pour over the noodles and toss to combine and evenly coat noodles. Can be served immediately or chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 *These noodles cook much faster than Italian style noodles. Keep an eye on them so they don’t turn to mush!

As taught to me by my friend, Mandy

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

As I said earlier this week, I have always been a huge fan of Spicy Buffalo Sauce. So when the craving hit, I knew I would need to act on it. The first step was sauce, which turned out be a great success. The second step was to decide what to do with the sauce one I made it (other than dipping random vegetables and an occasional finger in it).

As much as I love Buffalo sauce, I am not a huge fan of eating meat off of bones. Every once in a while I’ll get a craving for traditional wings, but usually I like to stick with the boneless variety. Keeping that in mind I tossed around a few ideas and finally decided that what I really wanted was Buffalo chicken sandwiches. More specifically, crispy coated chicken, with a balance between spicy sauce and cool creamy ranch, a few blue cheese crumbles, all on top of a soft and somewhat sweet bun. I don’t think I can even describe to you how much this meal hit the spot.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally then cut again into chunks *
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
heaping 1/4 tsp onion powder
heaping 1/4 tsp garlic powder
heaping 1/4 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil, divided, plus more if needed (alternatively you can reduce the oild to 1 Tbsp and oven bake the chicken)
Slider buns
Buffalo sauce
Ranch dressing
Blue Cheese crumbles
Thinly sliced red onion

*I was going for sliders so I cut mine into about 2.5×2.5 inch pieces, about 5 from each breast. The key is to make sure each “chunk” is about the size of your slider rolls and no more than 1/2 inch thick.
 
Directions
In a shallow bowl, mix together the panko, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place the egg in separate bowl.

Coat the chicken by dipping into the egg first, then the panko mixture.

To cook by pan frying, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches, so as not to over crowd the pan, until all of the chicken is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Add additional tablespoon of oil in between batches and as needed if the pan becomes dry.

To cook by oven baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by placing a wire (cooling) rack over the tray and lightly spraying with non-stick spray.. Place the coated chicken on the wire rack and bake for about 10 minutes, or until a piece of chicken cut in half is no longer pink inside, rotating pan halfway through.

Serve on top of slider buns with Buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles, and thinly sliced onions. Goes well with oven fries and celery sticks.

Breading/Coating recipe slightly adapted from the recipe I use for fish sticks, originally from Elly Says Opa.