Roasted Poblano Pepper Dipping Sauce

A couple of things I love:

1. Non-boring food

2. Easy to cook food

3. Flying

What do 1 and 2 have in common with 3? Well, not much, except that not-so-recently I was reading United Airlines in-flight magazine on one of our many trips to Oklahoma and I came across a recipe for grilled shrimp and green tomatoes with a roasted poblano pepper sauce and it changed my life.

bearfamilystrong.com | roasted poblano dipping sauce

Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. And admittedly, the shrimp and tomatoes were only so-so, but the roasted poblano pepper dipping sauce was pretty darn awesome…to the point where it has now become a regular occurrence in my weekly meal prep sessions. In keeping with my list theme, I love this sauce for several reasons:

1. It’s super easy to make

2. It’s delicious

3. It makes easy to cook food non-boring

In addition to the original recipe where we served the sauce with shrimp and tomatoes, we’ve also had it with grilled chicken slices, served on burgers, as a dip for sliced vegetables…just to name a few. Plus, with just a couple of tweaks you can make this sauce as mild or as spicy as you’d like. The magazine version calls for poblano peppers and thai chilies – we’ve never used the thai chilies, but making the sauce simply with poblanos gives it a pleasant heat that builds, then dissipates. When we’re feeling something a little spicier we’ve added jalapenos. For an extra little kick that won’t knock your teeth out, we’ve used a mix of beautiful green poblano peppers and bright red fresno chilies. Have fun with it!

bearfamilystrong.com | poblano sauce

I’m including the original version in the picture below, but here is my personal favorite variation:

Roasted Poblano Pepper Dipping Sauce (or Chile Aioli)

Ingredients:

2 egg yolks

1/2 bunch cilantro

2 roasted poblano peppers and 2 red fresno chile peppers, peeled and seeded

salt (I use a couple healthy shakes of pink himalayan)

1 cup mild oil (I prefer avocado)

Instructions:

Place all ingredients except oil in a blender or food processor and blend until well combined. Slowly drizzle in oil until the mixture is emulsified and a thick aioli forms.

recipe

Enjoy!

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Foodie Flattery: Thai Lemongrass Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk

Welcome to the second edition of Foodie Flattery!

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk4

So, I decided that I’m going to make this “Foodie Flattery” idea a thing on my blogs. I love to check out other food blogs – mostly for the pictures, I’ll admit – and it only recently occurred to me to try to re-create some of the dishes I ogle over on the internet. I often wonder how much of the picture is attributed to excellent food styling and photography, and how much is actually because the food really does look that good.

The verdict: Definitely the former. Case in point, take 30 seconds to check out this picture, and then compare to my picture above. Am I right??

Anyway, I was trying to come up with some new dinners to eat during our Whole30 when I got distracted and wandered over to Half Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard. I adore looking at the pictures on Tieghan’s blog – she is a fabulous food photographer – but I’ve never really had any intention of making the recipes because frankly, they sound like a lot of work. Many of the recipe titles imply about a thousand ingredients, and I always just assumed that many of them weren’t (or couldn’t be adapted to be) Whole30 approved, and so I usually just ogled over the pictures and then moved on. Really, it just means that I’m lazy.

So when I actually looked at the ingredient list for this Thai Lemongrass Chicken Braised in Coconut Milk I was pleasantly surprised – if you omit the rice and noodles, this is totally Whole30!

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk

I love coconut milk, but aside from curry I rarely use it in my food. The recipe also calls for lemongrass, fresh ginger, and fresno chiles – also ingredients I rarely or never use.  I’m afraid of braising – mostly because I never really understood what it meant. So in terms of stepping out of my comfort zone, this recipe fits the bill on multiple levels. In terms of simplicity, I’d call this recipe a 5 out of 10. Once you get everything in the pot, it drops down to a 1 because all you do is let it cook, but browning the chicken ended up being a bit more difficult – the chicken kept sticking to the pan so I lost a lot of skin by the time it was all said and done.

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk2

In terms of looks, I’d give my end result a 3 out of 10. Clearly I have a ways to go in my food styling ability. (Note to self; next time, remember to keep some of the fresh ingredients to use as garnishes in the picture!) But in terms of taste the recipe gets a solid 10 – it was delicious. I loved the combination of lemongrass, ginger, and the hint of heat from the fresno chiles. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the bok choy and cilantro – they end up getting cooked in the dutch oven with everything else, so I found them to be a bit too overcooked for my liking. If I were to make this recipe again, I think I’d cook the bok choy separately and use fresh cilantro as a garnish.

bearfamilystrong.com | thai lemongrass chicken braised in coconut milk3

Back to my point above – obviously this is a dish best served with rice or noodles. To keep it Whole30, I whipped up a batch of saffron scented cauliflower rice and served the chicken and vegetables atop the rice and drizzled with a couple spoonfuls of the delicious coconut milk sauce from the pot. Looks aside, it turned out to be an excellent dinner!

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*Original recipe can be found here.

Tostones (Twice Fried Plantains)

Let’s go to South America!

bearfamilystrong.com | tostones

When it comes to international travel, my tastes run more towards Eastern Europe than anywhere else. I studied several languages in high school and college, to include Russian, and I spent the first two years of my overseas career living in he gorgeous utopic country of Slovenia. Needless to say, the Balkans are near and dear to my heart. I’ve done extensive travel throughout Europe and I’ve seen my share of the Middle East, but interestingly enough the one language I’ve never studied is Spanish, nor have I traveled to any Latin American countries. I’ve recently decided that I need to remedy this, for one reason alone: the food.

bearfamilystrong.com | tostones

Oh, the food. Cuban sandwiches. Plantanos. Tostones. Mofongo. With the exception of the cuban sandwich I’d never before heard of any of these exotic dishes until recently, when I was introduced to a friend of my husband who hails from Puerto Rico. Just listening to him talk about the food makes my mouth water! It also made me want to try some of these dishes he was talking about, particularly the ones that involved plantains.

I can’t remember the first time I ever tried plantains, but boy do I love them! I shared a recipe for sweet fried plantains very early on, as you can tell my the horrible photography in that post. Plantains can be sweet or savory, depending on the ripeness of the plantain and how they are prepared. And they are ridiculously cheap – the grocery store where I do the majority of my shopping sells them for 2/$1.00, and ALDI sells them for .35 each! Major win.

bearfamilystrong.com | tostones

Having already tried my hand at sweet fried plantains and savory fried plantains, I decided to try my hand at Tostones. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the word comes from the spanish verb tostar, which means “to toast”. Literally, they are plantain slices that are fried once, smashed thin, and then fried again.  Kevin and I both tried our hand at smashing the plantains – apparently there is a special tool called a tostonera, which is used to smash the plantains thin, but we just used the bottom side of a regular old plate and it worked just fine – and we found out that while my plantains tended to end up on the thicker side, Kevin mashed his a lot thinner, so they turned out crispier and more like chips. Interestingly enough, once they were fried up we found out each of us liked the other’s way better!

bearfamilystrong.com | tostones

These make a great snack just eaten like chips, but they taste even better when topped with pork carnitas, green salsa, and some avocado pieces. Yum.

TOSTONES (Twice Fried Plantains)

serves: 2

prep time: 10 min

cook time: 20 min

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

2-3 unripe (green) plantains, peeled and cut into one inch pieces

olive oil

salt

small bowl of tepid salt water

WHAT YOU’LL DO:

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a deep skillet. You don’t want to completely cover the plantains in oil, you just want a thin layer on the pan. Once the oil is hot, fry the plantain pieces for a few minutes, making sure each side is nicely browned. Set aside on paper towels to dry, but don’t turn off your pan of oil. Using the bottom of a plate or other flat, sturdy object, smash the plantain with decent force – you want a thin plantain slice. NOTE: I would recommend using a metal flipper to peel the plantain from the plate; otherwise it might fall apart. Dip the plantain into the bowl of water and set on paper towel to dry slightly. (This keeps the plantains crispy, and maintains their color during frying.) Then re-fry the plantains in your hot oil for about two minutes on each side. Blot the tostones on another paper towel, sprinkle liberally with salt, and serve immediately.

bearfamilystrong.com | tostones