Thursday, April 30, 2015

Coconut Cashew Chicken with Mango Dipping Sauce


It’s been an exciting couple of days off work – we spent the afternoon yesterday at Philippe Park in Safety Harbor, and I came home with a ring!  Lance and I will have dated 4 years as of tomorrow, so obviously I knew I wanted to spend my life with him, but I’m so happy to finally make it official!

Luckily, I had Wednesday/Thursday off work this week, so I had time to share the good news with my friends and family.  And tonight I made us a pretty simple dinner, but Lance swears this is the best food I’ve ever made (he’s said that a few times now, but I think this topped the other meals…he said I should make this dish once a week he loved it so much). 

We bought a mango and some limes at the Clearwater Farmer’s Market yesterday, so I knew I wanted to make something tropical.  I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest and was happy I could use our ingredients in the dish. 

The dipping sauce was amazing – we actually ended up using the rest like salsa and eating it with chips.  It is sweet, but the red pepper flakes and lime also give it some spice and tartness.  Even if I wasn’t making the chicken, I’d eat the dip on its own.  You could even add some jalapeños if you really wanted to give it a kick.   

I halved the recipe since it’s just the two of us, but I wish I’d made the whole thing.  I’d recommend doubling my amount so you have leftovers – you’ll want them. 

Coconut Cashew Chicken with Mango Dipping Sauce (adapted from Carlsbad Cravings)


·        About 1 pound chicken tenders
·        1 egg
·        Juice of 1 lime
·        ½ cup cashews
·        ¼ cup sweetened coconut flakes
·        ½ cup panko bread crumbs
·        ½ T brown sugar
·        ½ t garlic powder
·        ½ t onion powder
·        ½ t cumin
·        ½ t salt
·        ½ t pepper
·        ¼ t red pepper

Dipping Sauce:
·        1 mango, chopped
·        2 T honey
·        Juice of 1 lime
·        1 t apple cider vinegar
·        ¼ t cumin
·        2 cloves garlic
·        2 green onions, chopped
·        1 t red pepper flakes

1.  Preheat oven to 400. 

2. Add cashews and coconut to a food processor and blend until about the size of the panko bread crumbs.    

3. Add the cashew and coconut mixture to a shallow dish with the bread crumbs, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and red pepper.   

4. Place the flour in another shallow dish.  Whisk egg with the lime juice in a 3rd dish.  Dredge each chicken tender through the flour, dip in the egg, then coat in the coconut/cashew/panko mix, pressing to make sure it sticks. 

5. Top a foil-lined baking sheet with a rack prepared with cooking spray.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, then broil for about 2 additional minutes until the tenders look crispy.    
6.  Place all the ingredients for the mango dip in the food processor and blend, leaving it just slightly chunky.  Add more spice (or jalapeños) if desired.   

7. Dip the chicken & enjoy!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Miami Eats (& Drinks): Kush, Wynwood Brewing, J. Wakefield Brewing, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Huahua’s Taqueria

We took another mini-vacation last week – this time to Miami as an early anniversary celebration since Lance & I will have been together 4 years May 1st!  We headed there Monday night after work and came back Wednesday, so it was a pretty short trip.  Unfortunately it was pretty rainy those days, so our original plan of snorkeling off the beach didn’t happen, but we did find plenty of other things to do (and lots of food!) 
We stayed at the Daddy O Hotel (not sure how it got its name, but it was a great deal for a pretty nice hotel).  My only complaint was that the complimentary breakfast was pretty pathetic – plain stale bagels, bananas that were either overripe or underripe, and packaged oatmeal.  We could have skipped the free food and just gone out to breakfast since there were so many options nearby, but we didn’t want to dine out for 3 meals a day. 
After breakfast the first day, we wandered South Pointe Park, and then checked out the Art Deco District along Ocean Drive. 
My favorite part area of town by far through was Wynwood – an incredible arts district where nearly every wall you see is covered in graffiti murals.  There are literally hundreds of paintings – you could spend the entire day trying to see them all. 
We found a nearby restaurant for lunch – Kush by Lokal.  There were so many highly rated restaurants in the Wynwood area, but I’m so happy we picked this place.  The people were unbelievably friendly and the food was delicious!  They had a great selection of craft beers and their bartenders were very knowledgeable.  The menu reminded me a lot of Datz – which is probably why I liked it so much. 

Lance enjoyed the Grandpa Joe’s Pastrami Reuben with sweet potato fries and I had the Chicken n Waffles (which were apparently voted the best in Miami).  I’ve had a lot of chicken and waffles, and I’ve got to say this was the best I’ve had by far.  They take free-range chicken and fry it perfectly in a homemade batter – they did a great job of making it juicy on the inside while crispy on the outside without being greasy. The waffles are dusted with powdered sugar and topped with crumbled bacon.  And their maple syrup is made in house with a bit of spice.  WOW!
Lance tried out a beer from their reserve list called Bad Hipster – an imperial pilsner brewed in Switzerland.  We talked with our bartender, Benny, about all the breweries we’ve been visiting in the Tampa Bay area.  He used to live in Orlando so he excitedly wrote us a list of all the best restaurants, bars, and breweries in that area!  We’ve actually only been to one of the fifteen places, so we have lots to check out next time we take a day trip to Orlando. 
From there we headed to Wynwood Brewing, Miami’s first craft production brewery.  I was a bit surprised that having Wynwood in the name that the interior wasn’t covered in graffiti like the rest of that area of town, but they did subtly reference the art scene with tap handles shaped liked spray paint cans.  It’s was founded by the Brignoni family – their porter style is named after the patriarch of the family “Pops”. 
We played some board games while Lance drank their Wynwood IPA and I sampled a flight.  I especially liked their Flagler Saison.  The Pops Porter was very good as well, but the Grand Pops (imperial version) was much too strong for me (9.8% alcohol!) 
For those of you who live in Miami (or will be there mid-May), there is an all you can eat and drink event sponsored by Harry’s Pizzeria & Wynwood Brewing called BBQ Night in Pizzaland.  I probably wouldn’t eat/drink enough to make it worth the $68 ticket price though. 
My cousin, Chris, told me that the best beer he’s had in a long time was the Hazelnut Porter at J. Wakefield Brewing.  It was right down the road from Wynwood, so we walked there afterwards. 
Unfortunately, the hazelnut porter is seasonal and wasn’t available, but this place is one of my new favorite breweries.  Not only was the beer variety great, but what we didn’t expect was the fantastically nerdy décor. 
As soon as you enter, you’re greeted with the words “No Droids Allowed” (if you aren’t a nerd…the bartender kicks R2D2 and C3PO out of the Cantina in Star Wars Episode IV because he "doesn't serve their kind"). 
Murals on the wall depict Darth Vader, Yoda, and other Star Wars characters enjoying JWB beers, and another piece of art depicts a stormtrooper and an ewok toasting to eachother.  You would think that with all the geeky paraphernalia that it would look like a teenage boy’s bedroom, but they somehow managed to keep it from looking tacky. 
The beers have all sorts of pop culture references, like Hop for Teacher IPA, Have You Seen My Stapler? Belgian Tripel, Weird Science Belgian Style Imperial Stout, and Symbiote Black IPA.   
That night we went to dinner at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink – which I read about on Southern Living’s list of top 100 restaurants in the South.  We went for a pretty late dinner, but it was still crowded for a Tuesday night.  The atmosphere was perfect for a romantic date night. 
I wanted to order everything on the menu – it all sounded fantastic.  It changes daily depending on what is in season and what they can locally source.  We decided on the crispy sweet & spicy pork belly, duck confit, and the barrelfish & shrimp ceviche. 
They make their own homemade soda, so Lance had the sarsaparilla with Wild Turkey.  It was pretty strong, so I couldn’t really taste the homemade soda, but Lance likes the taste of bourbon so he didn’t mind.
The pork belly came out first – I love anything with an Asian influence, so I was excited that it was served with kimchi, crushed peanuts, and cilantro.  This is the dish that Southern Living had recommended and I can see why. 
The duck confit was topped with kumquat chutney and spiced pumpkin seeds and served over frisée (curly endive leaves).  The combination of flavors was delicious. 
They actually forgot about our ceviche, but as soon as we reminded them they went ahead and prepared it.  We probably should have skipped it altogether since we planned to have dessert and were already getting full, but I’m glad we tried it.  The fish and shrimp were combined with coconut, papaya, Serrano peppers, red onion, and Thai basil.  It was tropical and light – with just a bit of spice from the pepper. 
We finished with the homebrew sundae – with malted caramel, homebrew ice cream, toasted marshmallows, and pretzels.  The sweet and salty ice cream reminded me a bit of our popcorn sundae dessert at Canoe in Atlanta, and although it was very good, it was a bit pricey for a small mason jar filled with ice cream.  The marshmallow chunks throughout were great though. 
Michael’s Genuine was right in the middle of the Miami Design District, so after dinner, we walked off our food while window shopping at the high-end clothing and furniture shops.  The stores were still all lit up inside, so it was fun to peek in and check out the fancy designs. 
The next day (after another unimpressive breakfast), we went to the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).  The modern building has gorgeous hanging garden suspended from the perforated canopy.  There were a few questionable exhibits (a chair covered in laundry in the middle of a room – is that considered art?), but there were plenty of really cool pieces as well. 
Unfortunately since it’s a long drive back, we couldn’t stay in Miami long that day.  But before heading out, we grabbed lunch at Huahua’s Taqueria – and scored some free chips and queso for checking in on Yelp! They had all sorts of exciting taco varieties to pick from.  I chose the chili rubbed shrimp, fried chicken, and grilled steak. 
The free chips and queso were great – the chips were warm and tasted very fresh – and we devoured the whole container of queso. 
The spicy mayo on the shrimp taco was pretty hot!  (I had some coconut water to cool down).  I loved the fried chicken taco – with jalapeño cornbread, cabbage, ancho ranch, and cilantro.  It was interesting having a southern-inspired taco.  And the steak was great – topped with large chunks of avocado.  Definitely worth checking out if you want a more interesting take on the classic taco. 
We stopped at one of the overlooks at Alligator Alley on the drive home, and sure enough we saw some gators.  Wish we had more time to spend in Miami since there’s lots more we wanted to see, but we’ll have to save that for another trip!
Kush is located at 2003 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127 and is open 12pm – 11pm Sunday – Tuesday, 12pm – 12am Wednesday – Thursday, and 12pm – 1am Friday – Saturday. 

Wynwood Brewing Company is located at 565 NW 24th St, Miami, FL 33127 and is open 12pm – 10pm Sunday – Monday, and 12pm – 12am Tuesday – Saturday. 

J. Wakefield Brewing is located at 120 NW 24th St, Miami, FL 33127 and is open 2pm – 10pm Tuesday – Thursday, 2pm – 12am on Fridays, and closed Saturday – Monday. 

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is located at 130 NE 40th St, Miami, FL 33137 and is open 11:30am – 11pm Monday – Thursday, 11:30am – 12am Friday – Saturday, and 11am – 3pm then 5:30pm – 10pm on Sunday. 

Huahua’s Taqueria is located at 1211 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139 and is open 12pm – 11pm Sunday – Thursday, and 12pm – 5am Friday – Saturday.