Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

 It’s like a trip back in time. Old roads, old cars, and old buildings. The walls of the Cuban houses in Viñales crumble but no one seems to notice. Or they do, but it’s all they know. It’s a part of this country, a part of life. The adobe on churches—which haven’t hosted a mass since the Cuban Revolution- has been chipping off for more then a decade, and they continue to go un-repaired. In town, the good roads have cobblestone laid down from before the war, and the big interstate is a two-lane paved road. The other roads are just dirt. Regardless, people smile and dance and enjoy life.

           When the sun shines in Viñales, Cuba it hits the crops of the local farms and the animals bathe in its warmth. The farmers that tend these small chunks of land still use classic horsepower (that is, horses and oxen) to turn the land and pull the hoes. Barns are full of drying tobacco, which is regulated through the government, along with anything else produced in the country. Wage is rations. 

            Despite the heavy regulations, there is plenty of tobacco enjoyed on the streets. In the evenings, especially during a feriado (holiday), the air is think with it: smokey, sweet, unmistakable. I don’t much enjoy it, but for how very Cuban it is. 

Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

            I’d like to tell you Cuban food was just as distinct: full of Caribbean flavor, fresh from the sea. I’d like to tell you that tables were covered in a cornucopia, as a continuation of the beautiful scene laid out above, but that isn’t always the case. Tourists may get that experience: I myself was treated to some mighty fine and generous meals, but it was hospitality and should not be mistaken for habit. Lunch was the hardest thing to track down— I remember lunching on personal sized pizzas, if you could even call it that (the cheese was off, the sauce not quite right, and they were served folded in half, like a plump taco). There was also a rather memorable ice cream cone, filled with the best scoop of chocolate ice cream I have had (fifteen years later and I haven’t found one that comes close). And here were two feasts, on one Christmas Eve and one on New Years Eve. But in between, we knew we were eating like tourists.

         I say all of this to explain that while Citrus Cumin Mojo Sauce is considered something of a Cuban classic, it’s is not a dish I experienced while in the country. Rather, it’s a marinade I started experimenting with years later. I say all of this to keep it real, and also to remember. It’s far to easy to day dream about beaches and pine coladas made with local rum; it’s far to easy to forget how things were as time moves on. 

           This marinade is bright and cheery, sunny and fresh. This recipe calls for chicken, but you could use the sauce with shrimp too. 

Want more from the Caribbean? Try this 30-minute ropa vieja.


Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

Published June 12, 2018 by
   |     Print This Recipe

Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

  • For marinade:
  • Juice 1 orange
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon high mineral sea salt

  • For serving:
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • Optional: lime wedges

  • Directions:

    1. In a 8-ounce jar, combine orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, oil, and salt. Place lid on jar and shake to combine.
    2. Place chicken in an air-tight container and pour marinade over chicken. Place in fridge and allow to marinate for 8-12 hours.
    3. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450°F. Slice red onion and bell pepper into strips, and dice sweet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread out on a baking sheet (optionally, line baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. (affiliate link!)). Drizzle oil over veggies. Now, using tongs, pull each piece of chicken from the marinade, letting access drip off. Place chicken on sheet pan with veggies.
    4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, brushing extra marinade over chicken every 5 minutes or so, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and potatoes are cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot with a lime wedge.

    Tex-Mex Potatoes & Eggs

    Tex-Mex Potatoes & Eggs

    Five miles in, and struggling to keep up with the boys, I still had a smile plastered over my face. It was Memorial Day weekend, and we were spending it up at Mount Evans. For the first time all week, the stress headache building at the back of my head had calmed itself.

    I went back to that moment in my head at mile nine, on our way back out. The hike to the Mount Evans climbing area is unique because you have to climb up and then down and then up again, which means that on the way back home you have to climb down and then up again before you get to go down again. You are exhausted and that last little stretch of climbing is a mental battle. It didn’t help that it was our first day in the alpine this season -- where the air is thin.

    Once back at home, we snuggled into the couch with plates of food, and binge watched the last few episodes of Atypical (which I recommend doing). 

    The next morning a feast was an order: a hearty breakfast with starches, carbs, and eggs with runny yolks. Revitalization! Fuel. That’s how this dish came to life. And oh, did it hit the spot.

    Tex-Mex Potatoes & Eggs
    Tex-Mex Potatoes & Eggs

    If you’ve read Foraged Breakfast, you might be familiar with my story about Huevos Rancheros. My love of Tex-Mex breakfasts continues here: the potatoes have been spiced with chili powder, cumin, and paprika. The addition of avocado is a no-brainer for me; you might want to add some cheese two (we were out). 

    I also used a little hat trick, boiling the potatoes with a bit of baking soda before roasting them. This gives the outside edges of the potatoes a starchy slurry, which when roasted, turns into those super crispy bits we all love. 100% worth the extra step! It also means the potatoes need less time in the oven -- and since this weekend it was over 90°F (In May?!), keeping the oven use to a minimum is a huge bonus. 

    Tex-Mex Potatoes & Eggs

    Tex-Mex Potatoes & Eggs

    Published June 7, 2018 by
       |     Print This Recipe

    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 60 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 4 cups diced Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (avocado oil or melted coconut oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 4 eggs
  • Cilantro, minced, for serving
  • Optional: Avocado, for serving

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat over to 425°F.
    2. Place diced potatoes with water and baking soda in a pot and set on stove over medium-high heat. Water should complete cover potatoes -- if it does not, add more. Bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes.
    3. Pour potatoes into a strainer and discard of water. Place potatoes in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with cooking oil, and the sprinkle with spices: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir potatoes with a spatula until all are equally covered in oil and spices. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
    4. Potatoes should be tender all the way through and starting to get crispy on the outside. Use a spoon to make four wells in the potatoes for the eggs. Crack an egg into each one, and then return the dish to the oven for 10-15 minutes, until egg whites are set and yolks are cooked to desired doneness.
    5. Sprinkle with minced cilantro and salt & pepper to taste, and serve hot with sliced avocado.

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Almonds, pecans, and a dash of cinnamon. That's it: three ingredients is all you need to make this lusciously smooth nut butter, one that is far superior than anything you'll find in a store. And it's not just superior because you're left with a victorious sense of "I made that!" ... it's seriously creamy, with a flavor that leaves you wanting the whole jar for dessert.

    Some almond butters are thick: they stick to the top of your mouth and clump up when spread on toast. This is not one of those almond butters. Thanks to the addition of pecans, which are naturally buttery, this almond butter is smooth and creamy.

    Pecans have a natural sweetness which sometimes tastes a bit like caramel to me. (If you're as big of a food nerd as I am, maybe you'll appreciate this report I found on different varieties of pecans and their tasting notes.) 

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter
    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    That caramelly taste is paired perfectly with a touch of cinnamon -- which is also naturally sweet - and the whole trio goes amazing well on a sliced apple (the combo is reminiscent of apple pie), a banana (I have long had "caramel banana crepes" on my list of recipes to create, but spreading nut butter on a banana is far easier), toast, oatmeal...I could go on... and don't forget straight from a spoon!

    And the magic is all in those pecans. 

    So why even bother with adding almonds? Well, they're cheaper for one. And that texture we were talking about before actually helps out here: pecan butter can be a runny when it's just pecans. Almonds balance that out.

    So, there you have it: dreamy, creamy, caramelly cinnamon pecan almond butter. Eat up! 

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter
    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Cinnamon Pecan Almond Butter

    Published June 5, 2018 by
       |     Print This Recipe

    Yields: ~1-1/2 cups nut butter   |    Total Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 220g almonds 
  • 150g pecans 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pecans and almonds out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and place in oven for about 5 minutes, until nuts are fragrant and golden. Side aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
    2. Place nuts and cinnamon in a high-powered blender. I use a Blendtec with the Twister Jar because the lid also scrapes the sides as you go (affiliate link). Place lid on blender and blend on high (or work your way up to speed 10), blending for a minute at a time, and then turning the blender off to scrape the sides. Repeat this process until the nut butter is smooth and velvety. Note: If you place the nuts in while they are still hot, they will get even hotter in the blender — you may see steam in the blender. If you do, let the nut butter cool off before you taste it to avoid burning your tongue!
    3. Scrape nut butter into a jar with an air-tight lid. Great on apples, bananas, toast, or by the spoonful!