Oh my gosh my friends! I know I’ve been seriously MIA for the last two weeks, but if you knew all I’ve been doing, I think you’d wonder why I’m not taking a longer break! This 2 week absence was not planned.
I think sometime this year I was commenting on how I need a personal assistant to keep me in order. That need still exists but I can’t find enough loot pay one full-time. Either way, I did not anticipate August being this ludacris, but let me fill you in.
I went home to DC last week to celebrate my sister’s graduation from grad school. She got her Doctorate in Physical Therapy!! Woot Woot! So awesome witnessing lil sis do her thing! All the energy of attending two ceremonies and hosting a mega al fresco party at my parents’ house, emotionally and physically spent me! Mami and I shut the kitchen down and made like 12 appetizers, while papi rocked out with some over the top sangria. He totally stole the show. Clearly, we had tons of lushes running around our patio.
I took advantage of being so close to Manhattan, and drove up to the City with some friends for a day of haggling and biting bites. We stopped at the most amazing Cuban café in Soho! Will most definitely have to blog about that later. The joint was the shiznit in all aspects! I wanted to jump over the small, quaint counter and start grilling pollo, maiz and carne! I won’t tell you the name just so you come back and hear my off the cuff, unplanned culinary experience. Just know it was well worth the hour wait on an early Sunday afternoon.
While in DC, I had a few meetings set up to visit the National Gallery of Art. They’ve got some exciting stuff going on over there I’ll have to share with as well! A 2nd impromptu meeting caused me to tickle and just soak in the great Capital City! You know both involved food, but on a level you can’t even imagine. Think TV, Spanish tapas, world-wide and ultra chic! Yeah, that trysts were all that and a bag of Kettle Chips!
BACK IN THE A.
Life here is a bit different. Slower, but engaging. As I get ready to move this week, into a much nicer, plush joint for a single gal, I have to muster energy and more importantly, time, to cook! With my kitchen being boxed away in cartons I hi-jacked from the grocery store, I have to get creative and make something appetizing. I swear those late night runs to the taco joint are just not cutting it.
What better way to stay satisfied, then to rely on good ol’ comfort food you grew up on? I’m talking about effortless food. Simple, yet powerful food! My siblings and I are able to boast an exceptional childhood in that mami fed us 3 times a day, 7 days a week. She made real food, from scratch, and never sacrificed quality for the sake of time. On days when she didn’t feel like being elaborate and sassy, she’d break out something completely unexpected and unscripted. Usually, those meals were just as good as the traditional, tried and true Cuban meals. Much of it is because they were unrestricted to recipes and measurements. They were free and limitless. And of course, saturated with pounds of love!
My favorite among those is a chicken sandwich. Don’t assume it’s a plane Maria chicken sandwich. You’d insult me! This sandwich is right there with the international popular Cuban Sandwich, with ham, pickles, etc… It’s basic, yes, but damn good and a great back-up.
I was inspired to make this yesterday. One because I didn’t have time to get all jiggy, two because I had one while at home last week (hadn’t bitten into one in months!) and three because I thought I’d play around with the marinade.
As in most Cuban food, our meats are marinated in some sort of mojo. In this case, we simply season chicken breasts in fresh lemon juice with garlic and onion. Sometimes you’ll see a recipe call for orange juice. I got sassy today. I added something new, but something that would guarantee 5 stars!
POM juice! Yup, you know that semi-bitter, health kicker! I used that, alongside my lemon juice to marinade the chicken. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but lo and behold, it was all good! The chicken naturally turned a bit brown while soaking, but that just gave it a nice browning when I flash fried it! The combination of the POM and lemon juice gave the chicken a bit more citrus-y bite, and actually tenderized it to perfect point. The Cuban bread element is a must, because if you’ve ever had Cuban bread you understand how amazing, flavorful and crispy it is. I love that local grocery stores bake it daily.
And you know what it also meant? The onions, which always have to make it into the skillet, were doused with POM juice, too! Those little suckers looked like they were sizzling with happiness! Do take note of the garlic chunks. Garlic simply makes everything better.
So, it being hump day, this will be my comfort food for the rest of the week as I finish packing; quick enough to avoid a full out kitchen engagement and delicious enough to look forward to the next one!
The beauty of experimenting! Try it. I love how it seamlessly worked in a childhood meal! Go get you some POM (they’re on Twitter, too @pomonline) and incorporate into your cuisine, what ever it is.
HOW HAVE YOU USED POM Juice?
- 2 chicken breasts
- salt to taste
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup POM juice
- 4 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1/2 small white onion, julienne
- 1/2 loaf Cuban bread, toasted (about 6″ each)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1.5 tbsp. olive oil for drizzle
- pepper to taste
- 2 thick tomato slices
Remove excess fat from chicken breasts. Using mallet, thin out breasts. Place in medium bowl and season with salt, lemon juice, POM juice, garlic and onion. Cover and refrigerate for 30-45 mins. Cut Cuban bread open and toast. You can also grill on both sides, using stove top grill pan. Heat large skillet and add canola oil. Add chicken to skillet, including juices, onions and garlic. Cook chicken on both sides until brown, about 7 minutes, on medium-high heat. While chicken is cooking, drizzle both sides of bread with olive oil, enough to cover most of it. Transfer chicken, including all skillet juice and onions and garlic to bread. Top with tomato slices. Sprinkle crushed black pepper.
Stay tuned for the biggest blog give-away EVA. If you follow me on Twitter, I’ve been kind of hinting toward the prize. I swear you all will be flabbergasted with the details. I urge to tune back on Sept. 1st to read all about it. You’ll be sorry you didn’t! 🙂 Plus, it happens to coordinate with my Hunger Lives No More (One Comment. One Eats.) campaign, so the more that visit and comment, the more food I’ll donate to a local food bank! Please read about it here.
**EDIT/UPDATE AT 2:08 PM**
I totally forgot to mention the WINNER of the GANACHE contest from the 2nd to last post!!! Deb, you have been randomly selected as the lucky winner!! No. 18, which was you, was picked! Thanks for your comment! I have your email and will contact you shortly to coordinate! Thanks to all that left comments and entered. Because of your time, MUST Ministries now has 28 additional food items to use in preparing food for children in Georgia!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.