Tex-Mex Chicken Salad

This dish was inspired by:
– 2/3 of a leftover roast chicken
This recipe by Martha Stewart
– My gorgeous new cast iron French oven. (It’s turquoise!) Some girls love shoes, I obsess over sturdy, enameled cookware.

Unfortunately, the chipotle in adobo sauce that Martha’s recipe calls for isn’t easy to come by in Oz, so I made a few easy adjustments.

I thought about smuggling a couple of cans of the smoked pepper-and-sauce combo in my checked luggage when coming back from the States. These thoughts were quickly followed by an elaborately imagined scenario in which the contraband goods exploded all over my luggage due to altitude pressure or something. Sooo, they didn’t make the trip. To compensate, I managed to bring back some air travel-friendly chipotle Tabasco sauce instead. Happy days!

For the chicken, I really wanted that smokiness of the chipotle – but didn’t want too much heat, so I used a little of my Tabasco, along with some barbeque sauce and smoked paprika.

The whole thing cooks up pretty quickly (especially if you’re using leftover cooked chicken) but it gets even better after it’s simmered for a while or sits overnight in the fridge. You can easily double or triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers in small portions.

I used the chicken to smother some rice, kale and roasted squash – making a warm Tex-Mex salad of sorts. It would also be awesome as part of a tostada or taco situation.

Or you could just eat it cold with a spoon every time you wander past the fridge…or something.

Tex-Mex Chipotle BBQ Chicken
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
– 1 14 ounce/400 gram can tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
– 1-2 tablespoons chipotle Tabasco sauce
– 1/2 cup water
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

In a medium-sized heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over a medium-high heat.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in paprika and cook for 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes (if using whole canned tomatoes, break them up with a wooden spoon in the pot), BBQ sauce, chipotle Tabasco, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and heat it through, about 2 minutes.

Warm Tex-Mex Salad (serves 2)
– 1 cup of chopped kale
– 1/2 cup cooked rice
– 1 cup roasted squash (you could also use roasted carrot, sweet potatoes, peppers, etc.)
– 1/2 an avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1/4 cup chopped coriander/cilantro
– 1 tablespoon crumbled feta or queso fresco
– olive oil

Wilt kale in a hot pan with a little bit of olive oil. Toss warm kale, rice and squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Divide into two bowls and spoon on warm chicken mixture. Top with avocado, fresh coriander and cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.


Roasted Vegetable Crust-less Quiche

Let me stop you right there. I KNOW I know I know that a quiche is supposed to have a crust. That buttery, crumbly base is half of what makes it so awesome. But let me hit you with some real talk: a.) making my own pastry dough on a busy weeknight is a near impossibility and b.) store-bought pastry shells kind of depress me/make me feel inadequate. (I blame these feelings on too much Masterchef viewing.)

So! That’s where the crust-less quiche comes in, friends.

Quiches are a great way to use leftover vegetables. I love to roast a bunch of different types at the beginning of the week and find uses for them as I go. They usually find their way into some egg-based dish at some point.

You can make this with leftovers or with vegetables you specifically roasted for this purpose. I really love the fluffy sweet potato cubes, salty feta and caramelized onion hit in here, but you can adapt it to whatever you’ve got. Do your thang.
(Yes, I just said thang.)

It’s a lazy-girl’s quiche. A gluten-intolerant person’s quiche. A leftover-using quiche. A quiche for everyone!

Say quiche again.


Roasted Vegetable and Caramelized Onion Crust-less Quiche
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 small sweet onions sliced thin (or 1 medium yellow onion)
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 medium sweet potato, but into 1-inch/2.5-cm cubes
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs
1 cup cream or half and half
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
butter for greasing the baking pan
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oven to 245C/475 F.
On a baking tray toss sweet potato cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 15- 20 minutes, until soft. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook those onions by heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium pan over a medium heat. Add onion, a pinch of salt and balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low, cover the pan and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes until the onions are soft, deep caramel in color and sweet tasting. Set aside.

Reduce oven to 190 C/375 F and butter a 23 cm/9 inch pie dish.

Assemble cooked sweet potatoes, onions, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese in the pie dish.

In a bowl beat the eggs and stir in the cream. Pour over vegetables and cheese, sprinkle with thyme leaves and another pinch of salt.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

New York Favorites List

I didn’t intend to take a full 3 week vacation from writing…but alas, here I am. Major fail!

I would apologize, but being home for the first time in 8 months was too much fun to feel sorry about. Between catching up with friends, quality time with the family, shopping, going for nostalgic walks in old neighborhoods and eating through all of my favorites, I didn’t leave myself much time for cooking or writing about cooking.

But I’m back! And before I go back to the usual I thought I would share my New York favorites for eating and drinking. These are the things I crave most when I’m gone and are completely essential to any visit when I’m back.

rooftop view
The Met
williamsburg bridge walk with Mr. F

Bagels: What can really be said here? New York has the best bagels of anywhere ever. Hands down. Get involved:
Russ & Daughters
Brooklyn Bagels
Pick a Bagel

everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese

Boozy Brunch: This has become some what of a New York tradition. On Saturday and Sunday many restaurants offer unlimited breakfast cocktails (mimosas, bloody marys, bellinis) either free with the purchase of your meal or for a small fee (usually around $15 for 2 hours of drinking.) It’s a slightly naughty way to spend an afternoon with your girlfriends and it’s always a boisterous good time.
Essex – The menu is a cut above.
Sunburnt Cow (or Sunburnt Calf or Bondi Road) – A NY-Aussie classic.
Yerba Buena – Fantastic South American/Mexican food and killer cocktails.
Tapeo 29 – Flamenco eggs cannot be overlooked.
Poco – Unlimited sangria AND lobster mac and cheese? Whaaat?

Coffee: I don’t know why I feel so endeared to these iconic little Greek coffee cups, but I know I’m not alone because they keep making them. You absolutely can’t drink fancy coffee from these cups, it’s just not done. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t taste awesome. One of my favorite places to get a drip coffee or espresso is:

Juicy Lucy – My drink is cafe con leche. Cafe Bustelo espresso with warmed milk and one sugar. Perfection.

cafe con leche

New York Classic: For the love of God, forget street hot dogs and big pretzels. Pastrami on toasted rye is where it’s at.

Katz’s is a total institution.

A Quality Margarita/Margarita Deal: I am always on the lookout for a good margarita. My criteria are simple: decent tequila, fresh lime juice, easy on the triple sec, on the rocks, lots of salt.

Benny’s Burritos – Always underrated and a personal favorite. Fresh lime juice margaritas are available in sizes ranging from modest to a large beer mug-full. Get them half-priced at one of the two daily happy hours (6-7pm and 10-11pm)

Lobster Roll: Technically a sandwich from Maine, but New York has a few good ones in the running.

Luke’s Lobster – For something that is usually sold for around $25 in New York, Luke’s Lobster has them for a steal ($14) and makes them my favorite way: a tiny bit of mayo on the toasted split bun, with big, generous chunks of sweet lobster drizzled with butter and topped with a celery salt-speckled spice blend.

Date Night Spot: Must have a romantic but fun ambiance, with good food for sharing and great wines. Big life decisions have been made at these locales.

Tapeo 29 – My all-time favorite tapas place. Their sangria is best.
Ten Bells – A tiny bar with lots of nooks for two. Specializing in French organic wines, stinky cheeses and $1 Oyster Happy Hour.

Best 24 Hour Diner: One of the joys of living in New York is that you can get pretty much whatever you want at any time of day.

7A – Breakfast all day. Shouldn’t that be enough? They also have great salads, veggie dishes, sweet potato fries and burgers.

Fresh Seafood/Dad’s Cooking: My dad is the captain of a fishing boat. He has been catching his own fish to eat since he was a boy and takes the quality and preparation very seriously. Because the man is so particular about his seafood, over the years he has made himself into one of the best seafood cooks I know.

Some favorites include: clam sauce, grilled lobster tails, beer battered fish, fish tacos and his newest dish: flounder fillets rolled with spinach and feta.Whatever he cooks, he hits it out of the park. Besides spending time with they guy, this is one of my favorite parts about being home.

Food Lovers Paradise(s):  New York has quite a few venues and events where you have free reign to geek out over tons of amazing eating and buying options in one place.
Hester Street Fair
Chelsea Market

west village