Vinegar-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Buttered Greens and Radishes

Vinegar-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Buttered Greens and Radishes is an easy-to-prepare dish that features chicken that has briefly been marinated in white vinegar to help the lean chicken proteins stay juicy and add a slight hint of tanginess. The radishes, which are a bit bitter and peppery when eaten raw, are sweet and mellow when sauteed. Serve this dish with a side of mashed cauliflower and you have one healthy and flavorful dinner.

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Vinegar-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Buttered Greens and Radishes
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of BonAppetit.com, May 2015)

Makes 4 servings

2 lb. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
8 radishes, quartered
1 bunch, Swiss chard, stemmed and shredded
4 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped, divided

Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a large baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup vinegar over chicken and let stand for 15 – 20 minutes. Turning several times during that time. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Reserve baking dish (no need to wipe it out before baking).

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium. Working in batches, sear chicken, skin side down, until skin is golden brown and crisp, 8-10 minutes; turn and cook until other side is just browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to reserved baking dish; reserve Dutch oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 165F, 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat butter in same Dutch oven over medium-high. Add radishes, season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally, until radishes are browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp oregano and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar; toss to combine.

Serve greens and radishes with chicken topped with remaining oregano.

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Crab-Salad-Stuffed Baked Avocados

Crab-Salad-Stuffed Baked Avocados are a decadent appetizer treat. Baking the avocados makes them extra-creamy.

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Crab-Salad-Stuffed Baked Avocados
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes 4 Appetizer Servings

2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
8 oz. crabmeat, rinsed
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1/4 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 large shallot, finely diced
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small skillet over medium heat, saute the peppers and shallots for about 2 minutes, until softened. Place the vegetables in a medium bowl with the crabmeat, cream cheese and half the cheddar cheese. Fold the ingredients together. Season the mixture with the Old Bay, salt and pepper and continue to fold. Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place a quarter of the crab mixture on each of the avocado halves and top each with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately with a couple of dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

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Sweet Potato Skins with Sriracha Sour Cream

Sweet Potato Skins with Sriracha Sour Cream are a little twist on the classic potato skins that uses Idaho russets.

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Sweet Potato Skins with Sriracha Sour Cream
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of LouisianaCookin.com)

Makes 12 side dish servings or 36 appetizer servings

6 medium sweet potatoes, washed and dried
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked to crispy and diced to 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped green onion, green parts only
2/3 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

In a small bowl, mix sour cream and Sriracha sauce and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.

Preheat oven to 475F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Microwave sweet potatoes on high until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise; scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Reserve flesh for another use, if desired.

Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet, skin side up. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes; turn and spray with cooking spray. Bake until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes more.

In a small bowl, mix together bacon, green onion, and cheese. Sprinkle the mixture inside the skins. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. For appetizer servings cut each skin into thirds. Serve immediately with Sriracha Sour Cream.

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Balsamic-Marinated Stuffed Flank Steak

Balsamic-Marinated Stuffed Skirt Steak takes planning and a little time to prepare but the results are well worth it. First, try to find skirt steak instead of flank steak (although flank steak will do in a pinch, you just need to slice it through horizontally lengthwise before tenderizing and marinating). Second, take the time to do the long-term marinade and refrigerating process. Finally, make sure to grill on a cast iron grill pan or skillet to eliminate flare-ups on the grill.

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Balsamic-Marinated Stuffed Skirt Steak
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Chicago Tribune, April 2015)

Serves 4 to 6

For marinade:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 skirt steak, 2 to 3 pounds total

For stuffing:
3 oz. prosciutto
6 slices provolone cheese
1 cup arugula and basil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

48 to 72 hours before cooking the steak, spread steak out on a large piece of plastic wrap. Place another large piece of plastic wrap over top. Pound to 1/2-inch-thickness. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap. Using the tenderizer (studded) side of the meat mallet gently pound to tenderize each side of the flattened steak.

For the marinade; combine vinegar, mustard and garlic in a food processor. With the machine running drizzle in the oil until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Put the steak in an air-tight container or large ziptop plastic bag and add the marinade. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

To prepare the steak for grilling; remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry. Discard the marinade. Lay the steak out on a work surface and season the top with salt and pepper. Lay the prosciutto slices in an even layer parallel to the grain. Add the provolone slices. Top with the arugula and basil.

Roll the steak parallel to the grain, making sure to keep as tight as possible, as your roll. Tie at intervals with kitchen twine. Season the outside of the roll with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the rolled steak for 48 hours and until 60 to 90 minutes before grilling.

To grill, place a large cast iron grill plate or skillet on the grill and turn all burners on high for 15 minutes. Keep left burner on high and turn others to low with the cast iron over the high burner. Add the steak roll to the cast iron and sear on all sides. Transfer the skillet to the cooler side of the grill and adjust the heat to be maintained at about 325F.

Cook until the internal temperature reaches 125F, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Cut the strings and dispose of them. Cut the steak into 3/4-inch-thick slices to serve.

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Rosemary and Red Onion Focaccia

Rosemary and Red Onion Focaccia is a cross between a thick pizza and a flatbread. The coarser, denser dough is due to the longer, multiple rising cycle. The simple toppings make this focaccia a truly basic pizza.

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Rosemary and Red Onion Focaccia
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes One Focaccia Bread about 14″ in diameter

4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

Lightly oil a large bowl, set aside.

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Mexican Style Spicy Pickled Carrots and Jicama

Ample Bites first enjoyed Mexican Style Spicy Pickled Carrots and Jicama at the Chicago-area Lalo’s restaurant chain and then friends, relatives and Ample Bites followers Laura Rice and Patrick Roche shared a batch they made last summer. This inspired me to make my own. Here is the result and how I went about it.

These spicy pickled vegetables can be served atop tacos or eaten alone as an appetizer of sorts. The carrots and jicama soak up the tang of the jalapenos and pickling juice resulting in a pleasantly spicy kick.

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Mexican Style Spicy Pickled Carrots and Jicama
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes 8 cups

1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced on diagonal about 1/4-inch-thick
1 lb. jicama, peeled and sliced into pieces of similar size to the carrots
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 quarts warm water
7 oz. sliced canned jalapeno peppers, with liquid
1 Tbsp dried oregano
12 whole garlic cloves
2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp Kosher salt

Put carrots and jicama in a 4-quart pot. Add warm water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Add peppers, onions, oregano, garlic, vinegar, bay leaves and salt to the pot. Let cool for 2-3 hours.

Divide between jars and refrigerate. The pickled vegetables will keep for a week after each jar is opened.

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