Mine went way too fast, but at least I got a taste of spring at the Des Moines Home & Garden Show on Saturday!
My Mom has always wanted to go to the yearly home & garden showcase, so I told her I’d tag along with her this year. While we didn’t leave with too many big ideas (it ended up being more for people who were building new homes or remodeling,) at least we got to stop and smell the flowers. Oh, the flowers! They were such a sight for sore, cold eyes.
We made sure to stop and test drive every single swinging bench we encountered as we wound our way through the aisles of the expo. My Mom’s kind of obsessed with them. Ok, me too. They’re so relaxing.
Oh, btw, an outdoor stone wall complete with tv and fireplace WILL be mine in our future dream home, mmkay?
Afterwards we hopped a couple blocks over to have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants downtown, Centro. Last week I suggested it to a reader who was coming to town for business, which had me craving a taste of their modern-Italian cuisine. Their pizza is to-die!
How I ended up with a bowl of Cheeseburger Chowder and half a Tuscan Panini, I’ll never know, but it was just the ticket for the cold and blustery afternoon we were having.
Later that night Ben and I tucked in and made 4 million pieces of homemade sushi before popping in a DVD. (Here’s my sushi tutorial >Next time I want to try mango, cucumber, and cream cheese!) We got The Bourne Legacy to watch – Ben hated it and I thought it was just meh. Without giving too much away, I was confused by the fact that the movie ended so abruptly. They were in the middle of an epic fight scene, and then the film just…stopped. Obviously setting up for the next movie but still, we were left wanting more.
Hey, maybe they were onto something!
Today has been a mix of work, play, gym , and cooking – including the Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa I made for dinner!
Ben and I had no idea what to expect when we traveled down south in 2010, but were absolutely blown away by the culture, and architecture,
the raging impromptu parties,
the beautiful scenery,
and of course, the food! New Orleans is tied with San Fran for my favorite city in the US (although I think it might have just the slightest edge) and we cannot wait to return someday for one of the biggest parties of the year – Mardi Gras.
Until then I thought I’d pay homage to the festivities by cooking up Cajun-spiced chicken breasts topped with a fresh and flavorful salsa sporting the colors of Mardi Gras: yellow pineapple, green cilantro and jalapeno, and purple onion. Though this Mardi Gras Salsa might not be a staple in the south, the bold taste reminded us of all the yummy dishes we had in NOLA.
Start off by making the Mardi Gras Salsa, which calls for 2 cups fresh pineapple. Breaking down a fresh pineapple isn’t as intimidating as it might seem. Here I’ll show you!
First chose a pineapple that’s more yellow then green, then pull on a frond on the top. If it comes out easily, it’s ripe. Next, using a very sharp knife, slice the top and bottom off.
Now use the knife to cut the peel away. Just follow the curve of the pineapple and don’t worry if some knobs get left behind. Just clean it up with your knife afterwards.
Slice the pineapple in half lengthwise, then slice each half in half again, to make quarters. Turn each quarter on a flat side, then slice the core out on the diagonal.
Turn the quarter onto its now-flat side, then slice. Fresh pineapple for all! (Seriously, you’ll never go back!)
To the pineapple add 1/2 seeded & minced jalapeno, and 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro.
Finally add 1/4 cup minced red onion, and the juice of 1 lime.
Season with salt & pepper then mix to combine. Mardi Gras Salsa = done!
Next, brush a chicken breast on both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season with bold and spicy Cajun seasoning. You can find pre-mixed Cajun seasoning right in the spice aisle, or make your own. I love Emeril’s recipe >Saute the chicken over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes a side then move to a plate.
Top with the bright, sweet & spicy salsa, then enjoy!
For the Mardi Gras Salsa 2 cups chopped pineapple 1/4 cup chopped red onion 1/2 jalapeno, seeded & minced 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro juice of a lime salt & pepper
Combine ingredients for Mardi Gras Salsa in a large bowl. Stir together then set aside.
Brush both sides of chicken breasts with extra virgin olive oil then season with Cajun seasoning. Saute in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Top with Mardi Gras Salsa then serve.
I served my chicken and salsa with spicy Sweet Potato Fries on the side. That’s just 1 small sweet potato cut into fry shapes, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and more Cajun seasoning, then roasted on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes @ 425. Spicy and sweet, they were the perfect accompaniment!