Dinners

Recipe—Grilled Hawaiian Sticky Chicken & Pineapple

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken & Pineapple

Aloha! Summer is coming to a close and most vacations are currently on hold. So if you can’t get to a tropical island, then let’s bring the island life to you!

Back in April when we were about a month into sheltering in place at home, my family and I came up with an idea to do a weekly family theme night. We were doing them every Friday just so we had something fun to look forward to at the end of the week. The first one we did was a Tropical Beach Party. The primary focus of our theme nights was our menu but we found lots of other fun details to incorporate. We ended up watching Lilo and Stitch while sprawled out on beach towels on our living room floor.

For this specific dinner I made my Grilled Hawaiian Sticky Chicken and Pineapple. It was so good! The key is definitely marinating the chicken for the entire day to really let all those flavors soak into the meat. You get this delicious combination of salty, sweet, and smoky. Cooking it low and slow on the grill gives the chicken and pineapple a nice caramelized exterior and then you brush them with honey at the end so you end up with this sweet sticky exterior that brings out so much flavor. The pineapple manages to get even sweeter and even picks up a bit of a smoky flavor from the grill. My mouth is literally watering just thinking about it. I served it up with some of my Tropical Macadamia Nut Ricewhich is packed with island flavors of toasted coconut and macadamia nuts. If you really want to take this meal to the next level then break out the blender and try my Best Ever Piña Coladas. So, for now, home may not be as good as Hawaii but at least with this meal, the only thing you will be missing is the sand between your toes.

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken & Pineapple

Note: The trick with grilling this recipe to is to do it over a lower indirect heat and making sure not to have it directly over the heat source. The glaze can easily burn if you try and cook it hot and fast. If you are not the grilling type then you can absolutely cook it in a pan on the stove top.

INGREDIENTS
4 chicken breasts
1/4 c pineapple juice
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
fresh pineapple, cut into long spears
1/4 c honey
green onions, chopped

STEPS

  • In a small bowl whisk together the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Place the chicken and marinade in a large Ziploc bag and mix to ensure all the chicken breasts get covered with the marinade.
  • Marinade in the refrigerator for 2–24 hours.
    About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the marinated chicken from the bag and place in a shallow dish. Allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.
  • Preheat the grill to 350º.
  • Add the chicken to the grill making sure you cook it over indirect heat. (See above note.)
  • Cook the chicken for 7–10 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 160º.
  • During the last 10 minutes of the chicken cooking, add the pineapple spears to the grill also making sure to cook it over indirect heat.
  • Turn the pineapple every 2–3 minutes making sure to get some nice grill marks on them.
  • When the chicken and pineapple are done, transfer them to a serving dish and lightly brush with the honey, and sprinkle with the green onions.
Beverages

Recipe—Strawberry Sangria

Recipe—Strawberry Sangria

We have had a hot streak out here in California with every day last week being over 100º and being that it is strawberry season I figured it was time to whip up a batch of refreshing sangria using some of my favorite seasonal fruit! This sangria is so perfect for sipping on in this summer sun. It is light, refreshing, and ridiculously easy to make! You just stir together a bottle of wine, some silver rum, a little sugar, and a splash seltzer. You can certainly make it and drink it right away but I like to let mine sit in the fridge for about an hour so that the wine really takes on those strawberry flavors. Mmmm…mmm… tastes like summer in a glass!Recipe—Strawberry Sangria

And if you like this recipe then be sure to also check out my Red Wine Sangria or Summertime White Sangria.

Notes: 

  • If you are watching your carbs or don’t like drinks that are too sweet, feel free to leave out the sugar all together. I made it that way the other day and it was still delicious! You get lots of natural sweetness from the fruity wine and fresh strawberries.
  • For the white wine I used Pomelo’s sauvignon blanc (one of my favorite summer wines). It has a nice refreshing grapefruit flavor. Anything with citrus notes will give you wonderful results. I recommend using a pinot grigio, rosé, or sauvignon blanc for this recipe. Something fruity and light.

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle of sauvignon blanc (see above note)
1/3 c silver rum
1/4 c sugar
1 lemon, sliced
2 c fresh strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 c seltzer

STEPS

  • Pour the wine, rum, and sugar into a large pitcher.
  • Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the sliced lemons and strawberries to the pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Add the seltzer right before serving.
  • Pour over ice and enjoy!

 

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Cannoli Dip  

Recipe—Cannoli Dip

Yesterday I did my first ever Instagram Live Cooking Demo. Did anyone catch it? If so, what did you think? Any feedback? I know there was certainly areas for improvement but I had fun and know what I can do better next time! If you want to view it you can do so here.

This was my first time ever doing any sort of live cooking demo so when Sac State UNIQUE Programs asked me if I would be willing to be a part of their summer virtual programming I jumped at the opportunity. I have never done any sort of cooking demo or Instagram Live video so I was absolutely stoked to do something outside my comfort zone. After all, virtual programming and activities have become such a big part of life these last several months.

For the cooking demo I was given a 1-hour timeslot and could make anything I wanted. I thought about it for a couple of days and knew I wanted to do a dinner and dessert. My go to favorite meal these days is my Italian Chicken Dinner. (It is so freaking easy and it is an entire meal!) Once I had that established, I decided to commit to an Italian theme. My first thought for dessert was tiramisu or cannolis. However, both are relatively time consuming and complex and since this was my first time cooking live I wanted to be sure it was something I could pull off. I decided to try and do a quick adaptation of cannolis and came up with this cannoli dip. Dessert dips are kind of my thing. You may recall that I have also posted recipes for Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip, Sweet Cherry Chip Dip, Toffee Apple Dip, and a Sweet Cream Dip with Strawberries.

For those of you that may not know, a cannoli, it is a traditional Italian dessert that is a fried pastry tube filled with a sweet cream made with ricotta cheese as the base and then the ends are traditionally dipped in assorted garnishes, pistachios, chocolate chips, cherries, etc. If you have never had a cannoli, you may be thinking ricotta cheese in a pastry? The answer is, YES! YES! YES! Ricotta is a cheese that can be used in both savory or sweet dishes. The fluffy ricotta cheese is completely transformed in this recipe to a light and sweet cream filling that you could eat by the spoonful. This recipe is fantastic to take to a party or just to serve up for the family for a night in. I served it with broken waffle cones but it also goes great with strawberries, graham crackers, and Nilla wafers. The possibilities are really endless!

INGREDIENTS
1 c ricotta cheese
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 c mini chocolate chips
box of waffle cones, broken up into chip sizes

STEPS

  • Place the ricotta, cream cheese, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat using a handheld or standing mixer on medium speed for 3–5 minutes or until smooth.
  • Add in the powdered sugar and continue to mix for another 1–2 minutes making sure it is all evenly incorporated.
  • Add most of the chocolate chips to the bowl and fold in using a rubber spatula or spoon. (Be sure to save a small handful to sprinkle over the top as garnish!)
  • Transfer the dip to a serving dish, garnish with remaining chocolate chips, and serve along with the broken waffle cones.
Beverages

Recipe—Best Ever Piña Coladas

Recipe—Best Ever Piña Coladas

Back in April I posted some ideas for a family theme night to help liven up life at home during the quarantine. One of the first theme nights that we did was a Tropical Beach Party. Of course, no beach party is complete without a tropical drink of some sort. I made these amazing piña coladas and they were so easy! (A virgin one for the kiddo of course!) For a brief moment I was able to kick up my feet, close my eyes, sip my piña colada, and pretend I was on an island far far away.

What sets these apart from a lot of other piña colada recipes is, in lieu of some of the ice, I used frozen pineapple chunks. This keeps them thick and frosty while giving them a nice creamy texture and keeps them from getting as watered down as they melt. With only a couple of months left of summer, it is time for you to get out the blender, and whip yourself up a batch of these delicious piña coladas!

Notes: This recipe makes 3–4 drinks. For a little extra kick, pour a floater of Malibu Rum over the top. For a virgin/nonalcoholic option, just replace the alcohol with extra pineapple juice. You can find bags of frozen pineapple chunks in the frozen fruit section of your grocery store.

INGREDIENTS
3 c ice
1 cup pineapple chunks, frozen
4 oz pineapple juice
4 oz coconut cream
3 oz white rum
2 oz dark rum

GARNISHES (OPTIONAL)
shredded coconut
pineapple slices
maraschino cherries

STEPS

  • Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Add extra pineapple juice if needed.
  • Pour into a glass and garnish with the shredded coconut, a pineapple slice, and maraschino cherry.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Strawberry Cream Crumb Bars

Recipe—Strawberry Cream Crumb Bars

It’s summertime and I have strawberries on my mind! I could eat strawberry anything but these Strawberry Cream Crumb Bars are really something else. Growing up I loved loved LOVED those strawberry shortcake frozen dessert bars that have the crumbly shortbread coating on the outside. Anyone else ever have those? This simple recipe is those embodied in a dessert bar. Crumbly buttery cookie exterior with a sweet and creamy center. These are a perfect summer treat that everyone will love!

Note: These are delicious with any flavor of pie filling so feel free to use your favorite! These cut great with a pizza cutter when cooled. 

INGREDIENTS
1 c brown sugar
3 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter, melted
1 c sour cream
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c strawberry pie filling

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with foil and spray with some nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. (The dough should be crumbly.)
  • Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the crumbly dough for the topping and press the remaining dough edge to edge into the bottom of the foil lined baking dish.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until evenly combined.
  • Spread the cream filling over the crust.
  • Place dollops of the strawberry pie filling over the cream.
  • Using a spoon, gently swirl the pie filling and the cream together making sure not to over mix.
  • Sprinkle the remaining dough crumbs over the top evenly.
  • Bake for 25–30 minutes or until the tops begin to brown and the center is set.
  • Allow the bars to cool completely in the baking dish.
  • Once the bars have cooled, lift the bars by the foil out of the baking dish, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into squares.
  • Store the bars in the fridge until ready to serve.
Appetizers, Dinners

Recipe—Loaded Korean Beef Fries

Recipe—Loaded Korean Beef Fries

If your mouth isn’t watering just looking at this pic, then you must be dead. And if you are doing everything you can to keep from drooling on your keyboard or phone, then please, give this recipe a try. You will have no regrets. Absolutely calorie worthy.

This is actually a copycat version of the Loaded Korean BBQ Beef Fries from my favorite local food truck, Turnt Up Tacos and Tortas. The first time I had them, I was HOOOOOOKED!

I start off with a base of thin crispy fries and cover them in finely shredded jack cheese and then pile on a mound of my sweet and spicy Korean Beef and then top that with a cabbage and carrot-based coleslaw made with a creamy sesame ginger sauce and then don’t forget about that spicy sriracha drizzled over the top to give it a kick. The flavors are so freaking good, I tell ya! Mmmmm… mmmmm… mmmmmmmmm!

I have actually started serving this as a meal in my house with each person getting their own plate of loaded fries (yes, loaded fries as a meal, it even has most of the food groups) but you could absolutely make one big pile of loaded fries and share them with friends as an appetizer or shared plate.

Note: The sesame oil and ginger paste go in both the Korean beef as well as the creamy sesame ginger sauce so pay close attention when preparing.

INGREDIENTS
bag of frozen french fries
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tbsp & 1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger paste, divided
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
3 c green cabbage, shredded
1/2 c carrots, shredded
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 tsp white sugar
1/4 c milk
2 c jack cheese, shredded
Sriracha sauce
2 green onions, chopped
sesame seeds

STEPS

  • Bake or fry the French fries according to the package directions.
  • While the fries are baking, cook the ground beef over medium high heat breaking it apart as it cooks.
  • Once the beef is cooked through, drain off most of the fat.
  • Add in the brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the ginger paste, red peppers, salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer over medium heat for a 4–5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • While the beef is cooking, put the cabbage and carrots in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, white sugar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, the other 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste, and the milk to make the creamy sesame ginger sauce.
  • Toss about 3/4 of the creamy sesame ginger sauce with the cabbage and carrots and set aside the rest to drizzle over the top.
  • When the fries are done transfer them to the plates.
  • Top each pile of fries with the jack cheese, cooked Korean beef, and the coleslaw.
  • Drizzle the remaining creamy sesame ginger sauce and sriracha sauce over the top.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds and finish off with green onions.
Brunch

Recipe—Strawberry Pop Tarts

Recipe—Strawberry Pop Tarts

Growing up, eating pop tarts was part of my morning school routine. They were quick and easy to throw in the toaster and chow down on as you were headed out the door. I thought they were the best! Now as a parent, I buy them for my son. Don’t go get all judgey on me here. He doesn’t eat them every day. I am a working parent with limited time in the morning and it is a child’s rite of passage to eat pop tarts. LOL

Recipe—Strawberry Pop Tarts

A couple of weeks ago I asked for a bite of his and I just have to say, they were not all that I had remembered them to be. Clearly my standards of quality food have changed over time. I started to think of what goes into a pop tart and realized I could easily make a copy cat version of my own. They were so simple and relatively quick to make. I literally just used refrigerated pie crust from the store and some strawberry jam and made a simple icing using powdered sugar mixed with a little water and vanilla. So basic and so easy!

It was fun to spend a lazy morning recreating something from my childhood and let me just tell you, they were so good, like way better than I would have ever imagined! Let’s be real, this is actually like eating pie for breakfast. The crust was so flaky and lite and the jam and frosting were the exact amount of sweet you would want for breakfast. Plus, they were just as good the next day and they looked super cute in my cake stand on the counter.

Next up, homemade toaster strudels!

Recipe—Strawberry Pop Tarts

Notes:

  • I was able to make a total of 8 finished pop tarts using the two pie crusts. I was able to cut out a total of 16 3” x 4” rectangles, 8 from each crust.
  • You can obviously use any flavor of jam you would like. I was a strawberry pop tart girl, so that’s what I went with. You do you.
  • The frosting will set on these within a couple of minutes of frosting so be sure and add sprinkles right after applying frosting to each..
  • Do not reheat your pop tarts by putting them in the toaster! They are delicious at room temperature, even the next day.

INGREDIENTS
1 package (2 sheets) of refrigerated piecrust at room temperature (I used Pillsbury)
flour (for dusting)
1 c seedless strawberry jam
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
water
sprinkles

STEPS

  • Cut out a rectangle template using cardstock or paper that is 3” x 4”. (You will use this as a template to cut out rectangles from the pie crust that are all the same shape and size.)
  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Dust a little flour over a large cutting board or work surface to help keep the pie crust from sticking when you are rolling it out.
  • Lay out one of your pie crusts on the floured surface and roll it out until it is 1/8” thick.
  • Place the cardstock rectangle template on the rolled-out pie crust and, using a knife, cut around the edges of it. Repeat this until you have gotten as many 3” x 4” rectangles as you can, transferring each one to the baking sheet as you finish them.
  • Take the scraps and roll them into a ball and roll that out to get more if you can. (I was able to get six initially and then rolled out the scraps to get two more, for a total of  eight.)
  • Place about 2 tablespoons of jam in the center of each rectangle and spread it out slightly leaving about 1/3” of clear space around all 4 edges. (If your jam is thick and hard to spread, warm it in the microwave for about 15 seconds and stir it.)
  • Roll out and cut the second pie crust in the same manner as you did the first placing the second batch of rectangles on top of the jam.
  • Use your fingers to gently press around the edges to help create a seal between the two layers of crust.
  • Next, use a fork to crimp around the outside edges and poke 3 sets of holes down the center. This will keep the jam from leaking out the edges.
  • Bake for 12–15 minutes until they are all a nice golden brown.
  • Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 3–5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool for another 10–15 minutes.
  • While the pop tarts are cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of water, and the vanilla. Add additional water a little bit at a time as needed until your frosting is slightly runny and whisk until there are no longer any clumps.
  • Spoon the frosting onto each pop tart and add sprinkles immediately. The frosting will set really quickly once put on the pop tart.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Mexican Street Corn Salad

 

Recipe—Mexican Street Corn Salad

I made this salad last month for a final end of summer hoorah BBQ and let me just tell you, it was delish! The olive oil mixed with vinegar and lime juice creates a zesty vinaigrette dressing and just pairs so nicely with the sweetness of the corn and the saltiness of the quest fresco and then don’t forget the smoky flavor from the paprika. It hits all those flavor points your mouth desires.

This recipe goes great with grilled meats or any Mexican dish. Tacos, enchiladas, you name it. It is cheap, easy, and so quick to make. Like really quick. This recipe literally took me 5 minutes from start to finish.

Note: You can make this with fresh corn on the cob or canned. It is great both ways. If you are using fresh corn you will need about 6-8 cobs of corn. Cook them as you normally would, whether that be on the grill or in a pot of water. Then allow the cobs to cool completely and cut the kernels off the cob and prepare the salad as directed. 

INGREDIENTS

3 (15.25 oz) cans whole kernel corn, drained
1 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c green onions, chopped
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c queso fresco, crumbled
paprika

STEPS

  • Place the corn kernels, tomatoes, and green onions into a serving bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice.
  • Pour the dressing over the corn and stir to coat.
  • Top with the queso fresco and a sprinkling of paprika.
Brunch, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Cherry Cream Cheese Danishes

Cherry Cream Cheese Danishes

You know what is great about breakfast? It is the one meal during the day where it is acceptable to eat a dish that can be classified as dessert as the main dish. You can’t do that for lunch or dinner. While I typically prefer savory items when it comes to breakfast, I can not pass up a well done danish or doughnut. And if you recall from my Cherry Cheesecake Bars or Sweet Cherry Chip Dip, cherries and cream cheese are like totally my jam.

We were hosting Mother’s Day at our house this year and since I was going to be in the kitchen cooking for all the amazing women in my life, I decided I was going to make all of my favorite things, these danishes being one of them. Now don’t go tell anyone, but these are so quick and easy to make. You can whip these up in less than 30 minutes and look at how beautiful they are!

Note: I have a weak spot for cherry danishes but you can mix things up and use your favorite type of pie filling.

INGREDIENTS
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp Sugar
21 oz can cherry pie filling
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • On a lightly floured cutting board, unfold the puff pastry sheets.
  • Cut each sheet into 9 equal squares so you have 18 total.
  • With a butter knife, gently score a 1/2 inch border around the edge of each piece of puff pastry
  • Using a fork, poke each pastry square 3–4 times in the middle.
  • Combine the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until well combined.
  • Place a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each square and spread it evenly, ensuring it stays within the border.
  • In the middle of each square, place a large spoonful of the pie filling.
  • Transfer the squares to a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish each one up.
  • Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl.
  • Brush the edges of each pastry with the egg wash.
  • Bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove the pastries from the baking sheet and allow to cool.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Strawberries & Cream Poke Cake

Strawberries & Cream Poke Cake

Fourth of July is right around the corner and that means it is summer party season! I absolutely love this time of year. Days sat around the pool, getting together with friends, and the awesome party food. Burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, garlic bread… yumm! But what is a summer BBQ without an amazing summer dessert? Crap. That’s what it is. I kid! I kid! For real though, every good bbq needs a good dessert. Like this one.

Beings that strawberries are in season this makes it the perfect summer dessert. If you have never made a poke cake then this recipe is a must try. It is so easy to make! You literally just poke holes into the baked cake and all the Jello just fills in the holes and soaks into the cake. It is incredibly moist and it just looks so pretty once you cut into it. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost. 😉

INGREDIENTS
1 box white cake mix (as well as any ingredients it requires)
3 oz package strawberry Jello
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
fresh strawberries, sliced

STEPS

  • Prepare white cake per the package instructions in a 9” x 13” large square or rectangular baking dish and allow it to cool.
  • Bring one cup of water to a boil and remove from heat.
  • Add Jello to the hot water and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Add one more cup of cold water to the Jello mix, continue to stir, and set aside.
  • Using a fork, poke several holes into the cake.
  • Pour the Jello evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Cover the cake with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.
  • After the cake has set, combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until the whip cream thickens up.
  • Spread the whip cream over the top of the cake and then garnish with sliced strawberries as desired.
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Recipe adapted from Chef in Training.