Vinegar-based Barbecue Sauce

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for BBQ sauce – a classic, sweet, molasses-y sauce that’s great with beef, especially brisket.  This sauce has a different flavor – it’s a little more of a Tennessee style, vinegar-based sauce.  It isn’t as sweet – a little more tangy.  It’s especially good with pork and chicken.  When you grill and smoke meat as often as the men in my life, there’s room for a bevy of sauces.

This particular recipe comes from none other than Aaron Franklin – of Franklin’s BBQ fame.  I think his has some “secret” ingredients, but this is the recipe he’s willing to share and it’s pretty stellar.  There’s also something to be said for the combination of the smoker smell happening outside and the sauce cooking inside – your mouth basically waters all day.

Vinegar-based Barbecue Sauce

2 sticks of butter

1/2 of a yellow onion

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

half of a lemon

1. In a saucepan over high heat, melt the butter.  Chop the onion finely and add to the butter, cooking until translucent (note that the smell of onions cooking in butter is one of the best in the world!).  Add the ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, and spices.  Stir everything together and cook until it comes to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer on the stove for at least 30 minutes, until it has reduced to a thick sauce.

2. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir to combine.  This sauce has no emulsifiers, so the butter and vinegar will separate.  I store mine in a jar and shake it up before I use it.

Chopped Chicken Salad

As summer comes upon us, the weather gets warmer, and I want to spend more time in the pool and less time in the kitchen, I find myself craving dinners that are refreshing, easy, and still filling.  Salads with protein are one of my favorite ways to get in some vegetables and a hearty dinner without spending hours over a hot stove.  This chopped chicken salad makes a ton – so if you are only serving a few, you’ll have leftovers for a few days of lunch.  Alternatively, served with cold beers and a killer dessert, it’s great when you have company, too (it’s beautiful to serve).  It’s also one of those meals that you can mix up the ingredients on based on what you need to use up in the fridge – the cabbage and carrots are a must to me, but any other crunchy vegetables would work well, too.  I use finely diced grilled chicken, but any leftover protein would work (shrimp. beef, even tofu).

I’m also excited to share that I’ll be sharing nutrition information for my recipes.  I’ve been pregnant and/or breastfeeding continuously for the past 3 and a half years, so being aware of my calorie intake is important.  I certainly believe that there’s a time and place for splurges (um, see the cheesecake I posted last month), so meals like this that pack in a lot of protein and vegetables without a ton of calories make for a great hearty lunch or dinner – especially when there’s great dessert to be had.  I hope you enjoy this new feature.

Chopped Chicken Salad

2 grilled chicken breasts

1 small head purple cabbage

3-4 carrots

3-4 green onions

1 mango

small handful of chopped roasted peanuts

small handful of cilantro

for the dressing;

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sriracha

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2T honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

2T lime juice

2T sesame or olive oil

2T fish sauce

1/2 cup water

1. Chop the cabbage and finely slice the carrots and arrange in a bowl.  Finely dice the green onions and mango.  Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and arrange all in the bowl.  Top with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

2. Stir all of the dressing ingredients together until combined (unless you’re using natural peanut butter, the emulsifiers in the pb will keep it from separating).  Either dress the salad or serve with the dressing on the side (my preference).

Nutrition information:

272 calories for 1/8 of the salad and the dressing.  Note that this does not include the peanuts, which can account for a lot of calories if you aren’t careful.  They aren’t completely necessary, but if you add, say, a tablespoon, you’re adding about 80 calories.  I typically skip them unless it’s dinner and I need some extra protein and calories.

13g fat

10g cholesterol

20g carbs

13g sugars

18g protein


Chicken Pad-ish Thai

Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes of all time.  The tang of lime, crunch of peanuts, savory noodles – it’s my go-to at any new Thai restaurant.  Ross requested Pad Thai for dinner last week and, after scouring about a hundred recipes, it seemed like all of them required specialty ingredients.  I’m sure that using one of those recipes would yield a more authentic taste, but I couldn’t really picture dragging my toddler and baby across town to an Asian market where I was unfamiliar with the layout, restrooms, and exit strategy.  So I wanted ingredients I could easily find at Safeway or, better yet, my pantry.

I came up with this recipe and it is really delicious, but you could hardly call it authentic.  It lacks tamarind paste, rice noodles, tofu (due to my sucking at cooking tofu, not availability), and bean sprouts.  But if you’re looking for a noodle dish that’s spicy, a little sweet, and has a lovely peanutty taste, then this is your dish.  You could certainly substitute any protein here – I had intended to make it with shrimp, but the ones at our store looked pitiful this week, so I used two leftover grilled chicken breasts.


Chicken Pad-ish Thai

12 oz. linguine noodles (or spaghetti or vermicelli)

1/3 cup fish sauce

2T honey

2T sesame oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2T lime juice

1 tsp sriracha

1/2 cup water

1 shallot (or half an onion, if that’s what you have)

3 cloves garlic

2 eggs

4 green onions

handful of fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts

lime wedges for serving

oil for cooking

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, I usually boil for 20% less time than it suggests (so 8 minutes if it says 10 – taste and see).  Meanwhile whisk the fish sauce, honey, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha, lime juice, and water together in a small bowl and set aside.  Mince the garlic and shallot, slice the green onions.  Lightly beat the eggs.

2. In a large pot or wok, heat 2T of oil over high heat.  Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, about a minute.  Add the eggs and stir constantly to scramble the eggs – about 30 seconds.  Add the cooked noodles, green onions, and chicken, then toss the mixture together.  Pour the sauce over the top and allow it all to cook together for a few minutes.

3. Chop the cilantro and peanuts for garnish.  Serve warm with cilantro, peanuts, and a lime wedge.


Tandoori chicken with mango and pineapple salsa

There are certain friends you have in life who become more of kindred spirits than friends.  The friends who really get you and, regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve seen them you’re always able to pick up where you left off.  One of our friends like that often comes over bearing a makeshift tupperware full of marinated meat and, upon his arrival, makes plans to grill it for us (a true friend brings dinner that they cook for you!).  Tandoori chicken is his specialty and this recipe is inspired by his many visits bearing delicious food.  He loves garam masala and, actually introduced me to it.  It’s totally worth buying – it’s a unique taste that can’t really be replicated by any other combination.  I like it mixed with greek yogurt as a dip.

This meal is great for a Friday, especially if you’re having company because you can make it all ahead of time.  In the afternoon (or night before), you make the mango salsa and marinate the chicken.  I made a quinoa salad to go with it last time, and it’s best made ahead, too.  Then you can clean the kitchen, and come dinnertime all you have to do is grill the meat and serve.  It’s also very flavorful and tastes very fresh.  I cut the chicken breasts in half width-wise before marinating them to increase the surface area and to avoid the unfortunate mass of dry chicken you sometimes get when grilling a whole chicken breast.  Alternatively, you could pound them out flat.

Tandoori Chicken with Mango and Pineapple Salsa

4 chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded flat

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

2 garlic cloves

a small piece of ginger

half of a lemon

1/2 cup greek yogurt

For the relish:

1 can diced pineapple (or fresh)

1 ripe mango

1/2 red onion

1 red chile

1 lime

1. Several hours or the night before you intend to serve, mince the garlic and finely peel and chop the ginger.  Mix the spices, ginger, garlic, and the juice of the lemon together with the greek yogurt to create a marinade.

2. Butterfly the chicken and place it into your “marinating tupperware” (or a big ziploc bag), pour the marinade over the chicken and move the pieces around, coating all of the sides.  Place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to finish your dinner.

3. Dice the mango into a size similar to the pineapple.  Finely dice the onion and mix the pineapple, mango, and onion together.  Start by mincing half of the red chile and adding into the relish with the juice of the lime.  Taste and add the rest of the chile if you need a little more heat.  This can also be made ahead of time and left in the fridge until ready to serve.

4. When you’re ready, grill the chicken until cooked through.  Serve with the relish.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

On Top Chef this week, Tom Colicchio lambasted a chef for using boneless, skinless chicken breast to the tune of “how stupid are you!” and “it has no flavor!”  All of the other chefs nodded in agreement – who, in their right mind would use boneless skinless chicken breasts? Boneless skinless chicken breasts are the scourge of protein – you might as well be using something *gasp* CANNED!

Look, I get it.  Chicken with the skin indubitably has way more flavor, fat, and other components chefs find sexy.  But you know what it also has?  Bones.  And at some point as either the chef or the eater you have to remove them, which totally grosses me out.  I have few exceptions to my “boneless” rule, and this recipe is one of them.  It’s the ultimate winter meal – hearty, comforting, inexpensive, and easy.  The only real prep here is chopping, and otherwise it all bakes in one pan as a complete meal.  Also note, you could easily substitute the vegetables based on what you have, what’s on sale, or what you prefer.  I do think the carrots, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts are pretty integral.  It’s easy to scale this recipe, too – I plan on 2 pieces of chicken per person.  This iteration serves about 6.


Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

4lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks

1lb fresh Brussels sprouts

1lb small red potatoes

1/2lb parsnips

1/2lb button mushrooms

6 carrots

6 cloves garlic

2T olive oil

1T dried Thyme

4T butter

a few sprigs of fresh rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 475.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (unless scraping schmaltz is your thing).  Prep the vegetables by chopping into bite-sized pieces.  Cut the sprouts in half, peel and chop the carrots and parsnips, quarter the potatoes, peel and half the garlic, and cut the mushrooms into fourths.  Place all of the veg in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.  Arrange all of the veg onto the baking sheet in an even layer.

2. Melt the butter and stir in the thyme.  Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and season everything liberally with salt and pepper.  Next, using a pastry brush, brush the butter mixture onto the chicken until all pieces are covered.  Break the rosemary into small pieces and sprinkle across the top.

3. Bake for about 40 minutes, turning the pan once or twice to ensure that it cooks evenly.  Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, then toss the vegetables to make sure the juices from the chicken are distributed (the schmaltz on the bottom of the pan is the best part).

Source: Adapted from Cook’s Country