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Chicken & Rice with Fruit Salsa

I’ve been on another peach eating binge. We bought some at a farm about 20 miles from here and they were very good, albeit not Georgia peaches. I used them to make one of my very favorite meals.

Here’s the recipe:

Grilled Chicken:

2 lbs Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

¼ cup lime juice

2 TBSP soy sauce

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Fruit Salsa

2-3 medium peaches (plums, nectarines or grapes also work)

2 medium tomatoes

3-4 chopped green onions (be sure to get lots of the green part)

2 TBSP lime juice

½ tsp ground ginger

I clove of garlic crushed and finely chopped

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

This meat has to be started early in the afternoon which isn’t my strong suit, but fresh fruit sometimes inspires me to unusual feats!

A few hours before you plan to eat, the chicken breasts need to be tenderized with a meat mallet or similar device. I like to zip them into a plastic bag so that raw chicken juice doesn’t fly around my kitchen.

With a good pounding the breasts should flatten out considerably. Don’t skip this step. It really makes a difference in the tenderness of the meat.

Assemble the sweet tangy marinade with sugar, vinegar, lime juice and some soy sauce. If you have fresh limes, that’s obviously better, but we’re back to that planning issue!

When the marinade is ready, drop in the beaten chicken and make sure that it gets entirely dredged.

Cover the chicken and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.

When the evening sun begins to cast a golden glow, it’s time to start on the salsa. (Perhaps that golden glow is just lousy photography, but I’ll go with it.)

The salsa gets almost the same marinade as the chicken, but without the soy sauce and it has some garlic and ginger thrown in.

Peaches are my favorite centerpiece fruit for this dish, but I’ve also made it with plums and they are an excellent substitute. I bet it would even be good with halved grapes.

Toss the chopped fruits and veggies in their marinade and make sure it all has a chance to sit for about 30 minutes before serving. The timing is just about perfect to pull the chicken out and get it started.

Grilling is not just for guys! My friend Kathy Madison taught me how to grill chicken breasts when we lived in Kansas and could see into each other’s kitchens for a year. She made it sound so simple that I had a hard time believing it would work, but it does – every time. Here’s how it goes: 1) Preheat the grill to medium high.

2) Throw on the chicken. Close the lid and wait seven minutes without opening it to poke, peek or prod. (Who wants to peek into an ugly grill like mine anyway!)

3) Open, turn the chicken over and quickly baste if desired. (I usually do drizzle on some of the remaining marinade.) Close and wait seven more minutes without opening the lid again. When the final seven minutes are up – it’s done. That simple.

Let the meat rest for a few minutes.

Then slice it into thin strips across the grain.

Pile the hot chicken on a bed of Jasmine rice and top it with the cool fresh salsa.

I’m sure that part of the reason I like this meal is that it’s very pretty, but it really is SO good!

Hope you enjoy!


Peanut Butter Cookies

Ah, cookies again! It’s been a while. One of my young friends, Jessica Lawton, asked for my Peanut Butter cookie recipe a couple of weeks ago so this is especially for her. She spent a lot of time in my kitchen last time we lived at West Point and I’ve since seen photos of her impressive cooking. She certainly doesn’t need pictures to go with a list of ingredients, in fact what she needs in an apron award, but since I’ve taken up blogging no one ever gets a simple recipe!

Let me start by saying that I’m not a fan of soft waxy peanut butter cookies – the kind that often have a Hershey’s kiss on top. Those are so cute, but I really prefer the kiss and the cookie separately and I like soft centers with crispy golden edges just as much in a PBC as I do in any other cookie. So, here’s my version.

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup butter (the real stuff!)

2 eggs

2 ½ cups flour (and more at the end if needed)

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Start with the butters and the sugars. I normally like to use chunky peanut butter or chop some peanuts to add at the end, for extra crunch but I don’t always plan well enough for crunch.

I was baking for a bunch of cadets so what you see in the pictures is double-batch quantity – a lot even for Darth.

Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the eggs and mix again.

Then, add the fluffy white ingredients.

I could see the gleam in Darth Mixer’s eyes at the thought of flinging all of that flour across the kitchen, so I covered him with my absolute favorite dishtowel embroidered by my Aunt Mary. A chicken at the Kitchen Aid – yup that’s me. Darth won in his own way!

With peanut butter dough, the rules of great Ku-Ki-Do still apply. It has to be stiff enough to pull away from the mixer bowl into a chunk without a spatula or the cookies will be like pancakes. Sometimes with peanut butter you have to add more flour than the basic recipe calls for because not all peanut butters are alike.

When the dough is the right consistency, go ahead and form balls just like you do with other cookies and line them up on waxed paper. I love rows of Ku-Ki-Do!

As always, the cookie sheet should be preheated. This means that you have to make quick work of crisscrossing the cookies.

Start by dipping your fork in sugar to coat the tines.

Then each time I touch the cookie I re-dip the fork and try to shovel a little bit of sugar onto the tines so that it can be shaken off onto the cookie as I press down.

You have to be as quick as possible to keep from messing up the bottoms but a well-seasoned stone keeps them from burning. Put them into a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on size.

Sometimes peanut butter cookies (and others) have a tendency to spread in unflattering ways on the stone, even when you’ve done your best with dough consistency. They come out of the oven looking life they’ve been in there having a nice big relaxing group hug. If this is the case you can use the spatula like a bulldozer blade to break up the party and push the edges back toward the center of the cookie they belong to before you try to pick them up from the stone. The process is kind of like a cookie tummy tuck and the separation of conjoined cookie twins all in one. While they’re hot, and still on the stone they are very pliable so you can reshape them quite a bit. I was having the group hug problem with this particular batch but as you can see I was able to corral them back into fairly appropriate looking shapes so you would never know if I kept my mouth shut…

…but peanut butter cookies are meant for open mouths!

Happy baking, and stay tuned – the leaves are almost ready to turn. Soon it will be Molasses Sugar cookie time!