SOFT CHICKEN TACOS

Tacos! That one word brings my guys to the table–and quick. The chicken’s brown sugar-cumin rub and made-from-scratch salsa sets this recipe apart from others. So tasty and so many thumbs up.

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SALSA

1/2 red onion, diced

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced

6 Campari tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

TACOS

1 tbsp brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp chili powder

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied

spray olive oil

4 large flour tortillas

2 cups shredded lettuce

3/4 cups grated Colby-Monterey Jack blend

1) SALSA: In medium-sized bowl, mix onion, jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and black pepper; set aside

2) TACOS: In small bowl, mix brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, sea salt, and black pepper; rub mixture over both sides of butterflied chicken breasts

3) Spray olive oil spray over large skillet (I used a grill pan); cook chicken breasts over medium-high, 4-5 minutes each side until just cooked through; remove from heat, let cool a few minutes, and slice thinly

4) Spray olive oil spray over same skillet and heat tortillas both sides until warmed through; place one tortilla on each of four plates and divide chicken between them; top with lettuce, salsa, and cheese and serve immediately; eat ’em up!

Servings: 4

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COVER REVEAL: LADY OF EVE

One of the joys of releasing a new book is the cover art. Though I’ve been blessed with fabulous covers from RandomHouse, HarperCollins, and Bantam, I’m most excited about my Age of Faith covers and now LADY OF EVE, a “clean read” rewrite of my 1994 Bantam Books bestseller VIRGIN BRIDE releasing early summer 2014. Here’s the beautiful lady:

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Excerpt coming soon: www.TamaraLeigh.com

PECAN CHICKEN

I served this dish at a murder mystery dinner party, and it went over extremely well. The combination of pecans, brown sugar, and maple syrup is over the top tasty. A dozen thumbs up!

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1 cup chopped pecans

1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/3″ thick medallions

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees; lightly oil large casserole dish

2) Spread pecans on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes; remove from oven and set aside; increase heat to 375 degrees

3) To large zip top bag, add Cajun seasoning, salt, black pepper, and chicken; shake to coat

4) To large skillet, add butter and olive oil and heat over medium; add chicken and cook 2-3 minutes each side until just cooked through and lightly browned; transfer chicken to casserole dish

5) To same skillet, add brown sugar and maple syrup and cook 1-2 minutes until sugar dissolves; add toasted pecans and cook additional 1 minute; pour over chicken; cover casserole dish with foil and bake in oven 15 minutes; remove from oven and serve

Servings: 6

HEARTY TACO SOUP

It’s no secret my guys like taco soup, and this one is especially hearty with its three beans and loads of veggies, so it was a pretty big hit and perfect for such cold weather. Enjoy!

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2 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1-1/4 lb lean ground beef

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

5 cups chicken broth

12 oz frozen corn

1-14.5 oz can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained

1-14.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1-14.5 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp minced jalapeños

1-1 oz pkg dry ranch dressing mix

3 tbsp taco seasoning

Optional: sour cream, corn chips, grated cheddar cheese

1) Add olive oil to large soup pot and heat over medium-high; add onion and red bell pepper and cook, stirring often, 7 minutes

2) Reduce heat to medium, add ground beef and, stirring often, cook 5 minutes until browned

3) Stir in salt, black pepper, chicken broth, corn, all three beans, tomatoes, jalapeños, ranch dressing mix, and taco seasoning; reduce heat to  low and cook 20 minutes; remove from heat and serve with optional ingredients, if you like; enjoy!

Servings: 4

MIXED BERRY-RICOTTA-SOUFFLE OMELETTES

Anything with berries lights my guys’ appetites. Yes, they hesitated when I told them I was stuffing an omelette with those juicy beauties, but–hey– they gave it a try. And loved it. Thumbs up!

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1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

10 egg whites

2 tbsp honey

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 tsp butter, divided

2 cups mixed berries (I used frozen and thawed)

1) In small bowl, beat ricotta cheese until smooth; set aside

2) In large bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks; gently fold in ricotta cheese, honey, cornstarch, vanilla extract until just combined

3) To large, non-stick skillet, add 1 tsp butter and melt over medium heat; spread one-fourth of omelette mixture in skillet (about 8″ diameter, leaving a minimum 1″ clear around edges); cook 3-4 minutes until lightly browned, flip and cook 2 more minutes; scatter one-fourth of mixed berries over top, fold omelette over, and cook additional 2 minutes to warm berries through; transfer omelette to plate and repeat for remaining three omelets (Note: to speed process, use two skillets; and, yes, you may need to send the omelettes on a quick trip to the microwave before serving); serve with or without maple syrup

Servings: 4

MAMMOTH CHICKEN QUESADILLAS

There’s no ladylike way to eat these quesadillas. They’re just too thick and chock full of good stuff. But they’re worth the mess. All gone! All thumbs up–duh 🙂

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2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1-14.5 oz black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

1 lb ground chicken

1/4 cup mild jalapeños (I used Mezzetta brand “Tamed”)

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

12 small (6″) flour tortillas

spray olive oil

2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1) Preheat broiler

2) To a large skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil (reserving 1 tbsp) and heat over medium-high; add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes; add black beans and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook 3 minutes longer; transfer to a plate

3) To same skillet, add 1 tbsp reserved olive oil and heat over medium-high; add ground chicken, jalapeños, paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring often, 5-7 minutes until cooked through; remove from heat

4) Place tortillas in a single layer on 2 baking sheets and spray with spray olive oil; broil 1-2 minutes until golden and just crispy and remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees

5) Assemble each of 4 quesadillas as follows, dividing ingredients equally between them : flour tortilla, chicken mixture, flour tortilla, vegetable-black bean mixture, cheese, flour tortilla; place quesadillas on baking sheet, return to oven, and cook 5-8 minutes until warmed through and cheese melts; remove from oven and cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges; serve with dollops of sour cream

Servings: 4 dinner-sized portions; 8 appetizer-sized portions

RITZY CAJUN MEATLOAF

Okay, so I made it sound fancy–word play, you know, courtesy of the addition of Ritz crackers. Regardless, this meatloaf is moist and a real hit with the tastebuds. All thumbs up, including leftovers.IMG_7058

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 small red bell pepper, chopped fine

2 celery stalks, chopped fine

1 egg

2 tsp Cajun seasoning

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

1-6 oz can tomato paste

1-1/2 cups Ritz crackers, crushed

1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef (could be good with ground chicken, too)

1-8 oz can tomato sauce

1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly grease a loaf pan

2) In large bowl, mix onion, red bell pepper, celery, egg, Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, tomato paste, and Ritz crackers; add ground beef and mix until just combined; set aside

3) Spread tomato sauce in bottom of loaf pan; add meatloaf mixture to loaf pan and gently press to shape of pan; bake in oven 1 hour until meatloaf is done in center; sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake additional 5 minutes until melted; remove from oven and scatter parsley over top; let sit 5-10 minutes before serving; chow down!

Servings: 6