Happy Birthday, Bubba! (Or Paleo Cilantro Chicken for the Birthday Boy!)

Today is my dog’s fourth birthday. And while I’m tempted to get out my glittery markers to make him a hat, I think he’d prefer kisses and a fistful of meat instead.

What's this I'm hearing about a hat?

What’s this I’m hearing about a hat?

Last night I made a super delicious chicken dish, and I saved some chicken scraps for him. Maybe we’ll sing “Happy Birthday” and make it a proper celebration with candles and everything. (I need help. Clearly.)

Or maybe we’ll just go for a hike and snuggle on the couch together.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

If you want to know why he’s so fixated on the chicken, here’s why:

It's somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

It’s somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

I found the recipe in this great gallery of 22 Paleo-friendly recipes from Bon Appetit.

I’ll be honest, though, I didn’t really follow it closely when it came to the ratio of lime juice, cilantro, celery, or pears. I just piled it all on. (I look at savory recipes like speed limits — polite suggestions for minimizing mayhem and mishaps.)

So basically my version just goes like this.

Celery, Cilantro, and Pear Chicken with Lime

4 celery stalks, sliced
2 Asian pears, thinly sliced
A heaping pile of cilantro leaves
Juice from 1 fresh lime
2 chicken breasts
Olive oil

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Don’t bother pounding them. I think it yields a negligible benefit, frankly. Cook the chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil — in the stove at 350 or on the burner — whatever your preferred method. (I’d give you cooking times but my stove is whack so it wouldn’t be useful. Just don’t overcook them. Chicken seriously sucks when it’s dry.)

Meanwhile, slice the pear and celery. Squeeze lime juice over the sliced stuff, throw in cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (This limey salad can be made the night before if you’d like. It’s almost better the next day, actually.)

Remove chicken from heat, cover in fruity, veggie lime mixture. Devour.

And maybe save some of the chicken scraps for your birthday boy.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

It’s Dark and Stormy Up in Here (Or At Least in My Glass)

Sorry for the freak out on Friday. Whoa, that was unpleasant. (Thank you all for the encouragement. Sincerely. It really means a lot!)

Anyway, I’m fixin’ to tell you about the elephants soon, but first? We should talk about my love of Fever Tree Ginger Beer.

I adore ginger. Adore. It. I could almost live on it – particularly the pickled kind. I have been known to fight my friend Melissa for the last shred of pickled ginger on a sushi plate. We are obsessed. Like have to order extra obsessed.

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This is Melissa and me with our Long Lost Danielle in the middle. We need Danielle back in LA, like immediately.

So anyway, the other night I ordered a marvelous meat sandwich from the deli up the street and mixed myself a Dark and Stormy with some Fever Tree for a divine pairing that was sort of like au jus and rum nirvana. (For real.)

If you’re not familiar with Dark and Stormies, you should be. They’re a feisty, fabulous, little rum cocktail with a good gingery bite. I think the key to making the perfect Dark and Stormy is using the right ginger beer. Bars often make them with Bundaberg’s and that’s a’ight, but not tremendous. The drink is vastly superior when it’s made with Fever Tree. Trust me.

Fever Tree is amazing, and it even has bits of ginger floating in the bottle. (Heaven!)

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Check out this bottle of feisty goodness!

Technically, the recipe looks something like this:

Dark and Stormy

2 oz dark rum
8 oz ginger beer
lime wedge

But mostly I just pour it all in my glass haphazardly, add some fresh squeezed lime juice, and then sip it with a huge grin on my face.

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Gingery rummy goodness in a glass. Pirates would be proud of me.

Fever Tree can be tricky to find, but you can buy it here.

Now I’m off to the Thai Town Rotary Club Meeting to discuss a fire station fundraiser. I don’t know how I get myself into these things*….

 *Actually I do. Here’s how: last spring, my gorgeous British friend rather sweetly and not so subtly informed an entire fire station that I was a good cook and I’d be happy to make them pasta with spicy Italian sausage. This was overheard by the Rotary Club President, blah, blah, blah, etc., you get it. Suzie was trying to set me up with 14 firemen and now I’m planning a fundraiser. Or something. 

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Suzie is sexy with legs that do not end. She and I exceed at causing trouble together.

Too Tired to Write Up a Real Recipe (Or How to Make a Mojito)

Today my apartment and I are recovering from a midsized dinner party. This basically means my dishwasher and I are working overtime to remove the remnants of pork carnitas from the plates while listening to Patsy Cline and fantasizing about naps.

I promise I’ll post the recipes for the salsa verde, the slow cooker cola carnitas, and the guacamole next week, but I’m just not ready to do it now. See, I was so busy mixing drinks, frosting cupcakes, making rice, and talking and whatnot that I totally forgot to photograph the food I served. (Oops!) I’m going to repeat the menu for another dinner party on Friday (different dinner guests, obviously), so I’ll have a second shot at a food photo shoot then.

So anyway, today I’m going to tell you how I made the mojitos — partly because I’m just too tired to get into anything more elaborate and partly because a few of my friends asked for the recipe. If you’re wondering why I’m so particularly tired today it’s probably because I didn’t go to bed until well after midnight and then a certain impetuous puppy woke me up at 6 am to take him out…. He has no regard for my exhaustion because he sleeps all day long. Well, that is when he’s not trying to crawl into the lap of an unsuspecting dinner guest, pretending he’s a 65-pound lap dog. (I digress.)

Back to the mojitos. Mojitos are possibly my favorite thing ever, but they can go so terribly wrong that I rarely order them in restaurants and I NEVER order them in Vegas because I swear they make them with Sprite there. This is why I had to figure out how to make them on my own. (Note: the proper method does not involve Sprite. Lemons do not belong anywhere near a mojito. Ever.)

There are two ways I make them, and I outline them both below. I personally prefer the powdered sugar method, but that’s just me. I think the slight grittiness of the sugar helps to release the juice from the mint during the muddling process, and the increased surface area (compared with regular sugar) aids in the proper absorption into the drink. Enough with the chemistry lesson, though, and on with the drinking. The recipe is below.

Mojito Recipe

10 large mint leaves
2 T of powdered sugar (or 2 T of simple syrup)
2 ounces of fresh lime juice (from one medium lime)
8 ounces of soda water (1 cup)
3 ounces of white rum

Tear the mint leaves in half. Place them in the bottom of a sturdy glass or a cocktail shaker. Add either 2 T of simple syrup or 2 T of powdered sugar. Using a muddler (or the end of a wooden spoon), muddle/smash the mint leaves to release the flavor.

Squeeze the fresh lime juice into the glass. Add rum. Pour in soda water. Place ice cubes in a serving glass, and pour the contents of the cocktail shaker (or mixing glass) into the serving glass.

Drink. Smile. Repeat.

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*Simple Syrup Recipe

1 C water

1 C sugar

Pour the sugar and water into a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Cool.