The Picotener Biotype of Enrico Serafino

We’re getting a little wine nerdy this week as we learn about biotypes of wine.  Recently I had a pleasant tasting with the export manage, Erika Abate, of Enrico Serafino wines of Piedmont.  Erika felt like a long lost friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time, but we’ve never met.  Some Italians can be so welcoming and warm.  I tasted a number of their sparkling wines from the Alta Langa of Piedmont.  My type of bubbly with soft, fine and elegant bubbles.  Although, I’m here to share a unique tasting of the 2017 Enrico Serafino Picotener wine.   
The winery ~ Enrico Serafino 
Enrico Serafino winery was established back in 1878 in Canale d’Alba within the Cuneo province, where it still stands today.  The winery exchanged hands in 2015 to the Krause Gentile family of Piedmont.  I’m dying to know if there is some relation as my maiden name is Gentile.  Family discount maybe???  The Krause family is dedicated to producing sustainable wines, expanding the vineyards and making advancements and upgrades within the winery.  It’s always sad for me to not see future generations of the Serafino family take over the family business, but there is a time and place for everything and I’m sure the Krause family will carry on their legacy.      
Enrico Serafino primarily produces sparkling wines from the Alta Langa along with barolo, barberagavi di gavi and the picotener I’m sharing today.  Why is this picotoner so unique?  It’s a biotype of nebbiolo and is a grape that has been rediscovered and that is rarely seen.  
So what is a biotype?  We’re going to keep it surface level here as I’m not a scientist and don’t want to bore you with the nitty gritty details.  In laymen’s terms it’s when a grape is mutated and develops particular characteristics.  The most widely used term that many refer to are clones of grapes, but clones share genes with its parents.  According to Ian D’Agata in his book Native Grapes of Italy he best describes biotypes as such: 
“Once reproductive cycles occur, there is a reshuffling of the parental genes, and the offspring will be genetically different from the parents.  Though we habitually describe these new and different grapevines as clones, this is incorrect, as clones are by definition genetically identical to the mother plant.  It is more accurate to refer to these new and different plants as biotypes”. 
About Picotener 
The Picotener that I tried from Enrico Serafino is actually one of the 3 most representative biotypes of nebbiolo along with lampia and michet per the December 2017 issue in the scientific report of Nature.  Nature’s article looked at the genetic mappings of nebbiolo and its biotypes and shared the differences in the genetic characteristics.  Picotener is originally from the Aosta Valley.  According to the article it’s primary characteristics are low vigor and yields, resistance to highly severe climates and it produces wines of intense color, not a characteristic typical of nebbiolo.  
Many producers gave up on picotener due to its low yields.  As you can imagine in a wine region as well known as Piedmont with much success working with other grapes why would one bother.  This is exactly why I love how some wineries dedicate their themselves to reinvigorating ancient grapes, restoring vineyards and digging into further research and experimenting to deliver to us consumers wines like picotener.  I think it’s a beautiful example of their passion for what they do. 
The Wine  
2017 Enrico Serafino Picotener
The 2017 Enrico Serafino Picotener was ruby in color with purple reflections on the rim.  Rather floral on the nose reminiscent of cherries, plums and violet.  Rather approachable with juicy, ripe dark red fruits with firm tannins and a nice structure.  The grapes were manually harvested and kept in temperature-controlled tanks then aged in wood casks for 12 months.  Enrico Serafino planted two vineyards with picotener and the 2017 was their first vintage of this wine.  Nebbiolo is one of my favorite red grapes of Italy and when I can enjoy one at a fraction of the price of a barolo and barbaresco I’m all in!

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake - Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake - Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

My in-laws are coming to town this weekend and after much planning and debating and stressing, I’ve decided this will be the ultimate brunch item that will be served.

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake - Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

It’s ridiculously easy and so unbelievably impressive without any of the fuss or stress. I don’t even know what I was worried about. And I get to prep everything the night before.

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake - Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

So now I don’t have to worry about a single thing in the morning. Nope. I can simply take this out of the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, and then bake for an hour or so.

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake - Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

And it really looks like the most fancy breakfast item ever that took hours of slaving away in the kitchen, especially with the fresh raspberry topping and that beautiful dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Not to mention that ooey, gooey cream cheese filling. It’s legit so so good.

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake - Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

But shhhhh, let’s not tell my mother-in-law how easy this really was!

Raspberry Croissant French Toast Bake

Easiest overnight French toast casserole! Prep the night before and bake in the morning. Too easy and so impressive!

2 hours 15 minutes1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh croissants (about 12 medium), cut in half
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 12 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

  1. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place half of croissants evenly into the baking dish. Top with half of cream cheese and 3/4 cup raspberries in an even layer. Top with remaining croissants, cream cheese and 3/4 cup raspberries.
  2. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, honey, vanilla and salt. Pour mixture evenly over the croissants. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove baking dish from the refrigerator; let stand 30 minutes.
  4. Place into oven and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; continue to bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and center is firm.
  5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with remaining raspberries and confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

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Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Shells

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Shells - ONE POT DINNER! So creamy, cheesy and full of taco flavors using ground beef. Quick, simple + so bomb for the whole family!

ONE POT DINNER! So creamy, cheesy and full of taco flavors using ground beef. Quick, simple + so bomb for the whole family!

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Shells - ONE POT DINNER! So creamy, cheesy and full of taco flavors using ground beef. Quick, simple + so bomb for the whole family!

So the sleepless nights continue with baby Cartman. He is unbelievably adorable and sweet, but he’s also a little bit of a terror when all he wants to do is play at 1AM, and then again at 4:30AM.

But that’s okay. I can still get dinner on the table in a flash using one single pot.

That’s right. We have a one pot wonder here from start to finish using crumbled ground beef, making this super quick and budget friendly. Best of all, the uncooked pasta shells cook right in the Instant Pot with the rest of your ingredients in just 5 minutes!

Not to mention, these pasta shells are amazingly cheesy, creamy and so so filling, giving me the energy to play with this 6lb baby corgi all night long!

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Shells - ONE POT DINNER! So creamy, cheesy and full of taco flavors using ground beef. Quick, simple + so bomb for the whole family!

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Shells

ONE POT DINNER! So creamy, cheesy and full of taco flavors using ground beef. Quick, simple + so bomb for the whole family!

20 minutes20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small poblano pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup mild salsa, homemade or store-bought
  • 12 ounces medium pasta shells
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

  1. Set a 6-qt Instant Pot® to the high saute setting. Heat olive oil; add ground beef and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.
  2. Add onion and poblano, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, oregano and cumin until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in beef stock, tomato sauce, salsa and pasta; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 5 minutes. When finished cooking, quick-release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions. Stir in cheese and heavy cream until cheese has melted, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in cilantro.
  4. Serve immediately.

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The Pearls of Sicily at Assuli Baglio

I’ll be continuing over the next month or two sharing some of my personal selections from the Gambero Rosso event I attended earlier this summer.  Thankfully I have been invited to tour the vineyards of Mt. Etna and some other locations this October so I can’t finally wait to truly understand what makes these wines unique.  Sicily has always been a wine region I find intriguing, mostly due to its volcanic soils.  I have a number of favorite grapes that I have enjoyed from this region, including today’s feature of nero d’avola and the unique native, perricone grape.  
I had the opportunity to meet Alessandro, the brand ambassador for the Assuli Baglio winery of Sicily.  Such a kind, enthusiastic man that was so ready to share the wonderful wines of this winery.  I was surprised that they didn’t have an importer yet in Boston and am glad when wineries get this opportunity to share their wines so that we can all experience them. 
The Winery ~ Assuli Baglio 
Assuli Baglio is located in the western part of Sicily near Marsala in the town of Mazara del Vallo in the Trapani province.  They own about 100 hectares dedicated to vineyards that are 50-60 years old.  Their goal is to go all organic next year too!  The winery is owned by Roberto Caruso whose father was known for discovering a new kind of marble known as the perlato di Sicilia back in 1948.  The Caruso family has strong ties to the land and Roberto decided to continue with their pride of the land and bottle the wines from their expanded vineyards.  He even used his father’s perlato di Sicilia in part of the winery’s architecture as you’ll see from the video below.   
Assuli’s main focus is on the autochthonous, native, grapes of Sicily.  These grapes include nero d’avola, zibibbo, grillo, perricone, insolia and catarratto.  I personally I have found some great nero d’avola over the years that I have enjoyed and Assuli was just another to add to the list.  Even better at its suggested price of only $15.  I’ve always also enjoyed zibibbo in Sicily and have tried it in both a dry style and dessert style.  Both a pleasure!   

Assuli Baglio winery in Sicily
Copyright of Assuli

The Grapes ~ Perricone & Nero d’Avola 
Nero d’avola is the most well-known and widely planted red grape of Sicily.  This grape was previously known as calabrese due to the dialect in Italian calavrisi.  It hails from the town of Avola in the southeastern corner of Sicily.  It is a thick skinned, late ripening grape that does particularly well in Sicily’s hot climate.  It‘s a grape that lends deep colors to the glass with red and dark fruits.  A grape developing wines with generous body.    
Never heard of perricone?  It’s no surprise.  Perricone is a grape that disappeared over the last century.  It was basically wiped out by phylloxera.  He stated it is only produced in western Sicily.  It can also be known as pignatello.  I don’t know why so many Italian grapes have so many other names.  Like it’s not confusing enough, right?!  Perricone lends texture and tannin to wines, therefore, it’s typically blended with nero d’avola.  I was lucky enough to try this wine from Assuli made from 100% perricone.  I was able to see what this grape is really made of. 

Assuli Baglio winery Sicily
Copyright of Assuli

The Wines 
I tasted multiple wines from Assuli, but my personal favorites were the 2017 Assuli L’orlando Nero d’Avola DOC Sicilia and their 2016 Assuli Perricone Furioso DOC Sicilia. 
2017 Assuli L’orlando Nero d’Avola DOC Sicilia – Made of 100% nero d’avola this wine was aged partially in stainless steel and in the bottle.  Deep ruby in color with purple tinges.  A very intense nose of ripe red fruits balanced on the palate with soft tannins, nice acidity with a little spice.  SRP $15 
2016 Assuli Perricone Furioso DOC Sicilia – This was my top pick.  Made of 100% perricone the wine macerated with the grapes for about 25-30 days.  This wine spends 1 year in big barrels and 1 year in the bottle.  An intense ruby color with purple tinges.   A very wellbalanced wine with nice structure and jammy fruits.  A wine with lots of characterSRP $20 
Assuli Baglio wines of Sicily
What are your discoveries with Sicilian wines and any particular favorites?

I love this video below on Assuli’s website.  It show’s the family’s involvement with the perlato d’Sicilia and tying it into their passion for their land and vineyards.  All copyright of Assuli.

Grilled Greek Chicken Salad

Grilled Greek Chicken Salad - The BEST Greek salad you will ever have! With perfectly grilled, juicy chicken thighs and the most heavenly tzatziki dressing!

The BEST Greek salad you will ever have! With perfectly grilled, juicy chicken thighs and the most heavenly tzatziki dressing!

Grilled Greek Chicken Salad - The BEST Greek salad you will ever have! With perfectly grilled, juicy chicken thighs and the most heavenly tzatziki dressing!

A Greek salad just got so much better in my book.

The secret? Super juicy, perfectly charred chicken thighs seasoned just perfectly with a dry spice rub of oregano, basil, thyme, paprika and garlic powder.

Nope, no hours of marinating here. Simply season your chicken and throw them right onto the grill.

Grilled Greek Chicken Salad - The BEST Greek salad you will ever have! With perfectly grilled, juicy chicken thighs and the most heavenly tzatziki dressing!

While you do that, you can also throw on some pita bread for serving – might as well while you have the grill all fired up!

Serve with chopped romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, olives and feta along with the creamiest tzatziki dressing ever.

SO SO GOOD.

Grilled Greek Chicken Salad - The BEST Greek salad you will ever have! With perfectly grilled, juicy chicken thighs and the most heavenly tzatziki dressing!

Grilled Greek Chicken Salad

The BEST Greek salad you will ever have! With perfectly grilled, juicy chicken thighs and the most heavenly tzatziki dressing!

30 minutes10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 head romaine, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 4 ounces feta, cubed

For the tzatziki dressing

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 5 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, buttermilk, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine oregano, basil, thyme, paprika, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Season chicken with oregano mixture.
  3. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  4. Add chicken to grill, and cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
  5. To assemble the salad, place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, onion, olives and feta. Pour the tzatziki dressing on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  6. Serve immediately.

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Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs - Amazingly moist, tender, juicy lemon-thyme chicken, perfectly golden brown, made right in the IP in just 5 min! So quick!

Amazingly moist, tender, juicy lemon-thyme chicken, perfectly golden brown, made right in the IP in just 5 min! So quick!

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs - Amazingly moist, tender, juicy lemon-thyme chicken, perfectly golden brown, made right in the IP in just 5 min! So quick!

I’ve been on a huge chicken thigh binge lately.

From the cilantro lime chicken thighs to the lemon garlic chicken thighs, it’s been ALL ABOUT THE THIGHS this summer.

But when I’m not in the mood to grill or smoke out the house using a grill pan, the IP is here for the juiciest, most tender chicken thigh rescue.

With a simple lemon-thyme spice rub, you can quickly sear your chicken right in the IP. From there, you’ll let it pressure cook for just 5 minutes, infusing your chicken thighs with all that lemony goodness without using a marinade. The pressure cooker takes care of that for you!

So boom. One pan meal. No mess. No fuss.

Use as a base for a salad or serve with a light green salad, crusty bread, and a glass of wine.

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs - Amazingly moist, tender, juicy lemon-thyme chicken, perfectly golden brown, made right in the IP in just 5 min! So quick!

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs

Amazingly moist, tender, juicy lemon-thyme chicken, perfectly golden brown, made right in the IP in just 5 min! So quick!

15 minutes25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine thyme, lemon zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Season chicken with thyme mixture.
  2. Set 6-qt Instant Pot® to the high saute setting. Working in batches, add canola oil and chicken, and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side; set aside.
  3. Place metal trivet into the pot and add chicken stock and lemon juice. Gently place chicken on top of the trivet, slightly overlapping. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 5 minutes. When finished cooking, quick-release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions.
  4. Serve immediately.

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Seeing the Potential of North Canterbury, NZ with Mt. Beautiful Winery

I’ve always enjoyed the wines of New Zealand and their sauvignon blanc has always been some of my favorites including some of their pinot noir as well.  Our Wine Pairing Weekend group is exploring the wines of New Zealand.  My feature is with the Mt. Beautiful winery.  The name alone was enough to peak my interest.….get it! 

The Winery 
Mt. Beautiful is a winery located in the southern island of New Zealand.  It is located right along the coast and at the foothills of Mt. Beautiful to the east.  Owned by David Teece, his family’s roots are engrained in the farming business with an entrepreneurial spirit.  David’s knowledge expands far beyond the wine industry as he is also a professor and author of over 30 books.  He is also rated by Accenture as one of the worlds “Top 50 Business Intellectuals”.  An intriguing man that let his passion for growing great products in New Zealand lead the way to take the risk of starting Mt. Beautiful, also certified sustainable. 
Mt. Beautiful winery New Zealand
Mt. Beautiful winery ~ Copyright of Mt. Beautiful

The winery is located in the North Canterbury appellation amongst a myriad of soils and microclimates.  Wine Spectator named this appellation as “one of the fastest growing wine areas”.  I think this was the first experience I’ve had with this appellation as the Marlborough wine region is probably the one most seen on the market.  If you know me by now you know I love the opportunity to try something different.   

The Wine 
2017 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir2017 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir Mt. Beautiful’s pinot noir is located in their southern vineyards at the highest elevations.  There it is the warmest location with a lesser chance of frost.  Mt. Beautiful seems to give great care during harvest hand selecting, destemming and sorting their own grapes.  This wine spends 10 months aging in 20% new and used French oak.  It’s ruby colored with purplish highlights.  Ripe blackberries and blueberries were very apparent on the nose.  Rather lighter in body its black fruits are very expressive in the glass showing elegance with subtle tannins on the finish.  ABV 13% SRP $28 

The Pairing 
I had a few directions I was going to go with pairing this wine, but have been having a recent craving for salmon, which to me is always a classic pairing with pinot noir.  I wanted to grill it, but with the kids it’s not the easiest feat.  I chose to do a simple baked salmon paired with some of our fresh vegetables we pick up weekly from our local farm.  Simple, but delicious!  

Mt. Beautiful salmon and pinot noir pairing

Join the rest of wine and food pairing bloggers as they share their personal dishes with New Zealand wines.  If you catch us in time this Saturday August 10th at 11am EST on Twitter we will be chatting live about our pairings and wines. Check it out at #ItalianFWT.  

  • Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be making Hāngī in a Dutch Oven + Gimblett Gravels Malbec 2017 
  • Linda of My Full Wine Glass will be posting New NZ wine, old Sicilian dish (#WinePW) 
  • Jane of Always Ravenous will be pairing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Paired with Fresh Flavors of Late Summer 
  • Cindy of Grape Experiences will show how to Beat the Heat with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint 
  • Gwen at Wine Predator will be pairing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Zesty Arugula Kale Pesto Pizza and Salad #WinePW 
  • David of Cooking Chat will be pairing Tomato Caprese Salad with Pesto and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 
  • Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings will be serving New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pan-fried Chinese Potstickers 
  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm will be Discovering New Zealand Wines 
  • Sandra of Wine Thoughts will be taking A Tropical Staycation with Spy Valley E Block 
  • Cynthia and Pierre of Traveling Wine Profs will be sipping New Zealand Chardonnay with a view of… The Pyrenees #WinePW 
  • Rupal the Syrah Queen will be drinking New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Grilled Mediterranean Swordfish 
  • Nicole at Somms Table will be sharing Memories of New Zealand’s South Island with Waipapa Bay Wines. 
  • Lori of Exploring the Wine Glass, is thankful that Humans May Only Be 5%, But They Make Great Wine #WinePW


*These wines were provided as samples, but as always opinions are my own.

Easy Chicken Tacos

Easy Chicken Tacos - With a simple spice rub, the chicken is cooked so quickly on the stovetop! Dice into small pieces and serve with pico, avocado + lime!

With a simple spice rub, the chicken is cooked so quickly on the stovetop! Dice into small pieces and serve with pico, avocado + lime!

Easy Chicken Tacos - With a simple spice rub, the chicken is cooked so quickly on the stovetop! Dice into small pieces and serve with pico, avocado + lime!

I think this will be my go-to weeknight meal for the next few weeks. No, wait, months probably.

Because, guys, we just brought home a little baby corgi brother for Butters. So to say my hands will be full with these two little buggers is clearly an understatement.

So enter the easiest weeknight chicken tacos ever.

With a simple spice rub – chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder – the chicken is seasoned just right, thrown on the skillet and cooked through completely before dicing them up into bite-size pieces.

Serve in warmed tortillas with desired toppings – pico de gallo (store-bought shortcut is just fine here!), diced avocado, cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice is my favorite combo right now!

Easy Chicken Tacos - With a simple spice rub, the chicken is cooked so quickly on the stovetop! Dice into small pieces and serve with pico, avocado + lime!

Easy Chicken Tacos

With a simple spice rub, the chicken is cooked so quickly on the stovetop! Dice into small pieces and serve with pico, avocado + lime!

15 minutes15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste,
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 12 mini flour tortillas
  • 1 cup pico de gallo, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 avocado, halved, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Season chicken with chili powder mixture.
  2. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, add chicken to the skillet in a single layer and cook until golden brown and cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4-5 minutes per side. Let cool before dicing into bite-size pieces.
  3. Serve chicken in tortillas, topped with pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro and lime.

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Honey Garlic Asian Chicken Kabobs

Honey Garlic Asian Chicken Kabobs - This honey garlic marinade is to die for! Marinate overnight and throw on the grill when ready to serve. So easy + fast!

This honey garlic marinade is to die for! Marinate overnight and throw on the grill when ready to serve. So easy + fast!

Honey Garlic Asian Chicken Kabobs - This honey garlic marinade is to die for! Marinate overnight and throw on the grill when ready to serve. So easy + fast!

This is one of the best things about summer.

No, wait. The two best things about summer. 1. Super sticky, saucy Asian chicken kabobs. And 2. Ice cold beer.

That’s basically what we’ve been doing in this summer heat, which beats those parka-glove-beanie-Chiberia days by a mile.

No, we don’t miss those days at all.

Instead, I’m on marinade duty all summer – letting the chicken soak up all that saucy goodness – oyster sauce, ketchup, honey, chili garlic sauce, Dijon, garlic and ginger. For added heat, feel free to add additional chili garlic sauce or Sriracha.

Once it’s been swimming in all this glory, Ben fires up the grill to let these get beautifully smoky and charred.

Serve with ice cold beer for a complete meal.

Honey Garlic Asian Chicken Kabobs - This honey garlic marinade is to die for! Marinate overnight and throw on the grill when ready to serve. So easy + fast!

Honey Garlic Asian Chicken Kabobs

This honey garlic marinade is to die for! Marinate overnight and throw on the grill when ready to serve. So easy + fast!

2 hours 30 minutes20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine oyster sauce, ketchup, honey, chili garlic sauce, Dijon, garlic, ginger and 1 tablespoon water. Reserve 1/3 cup and set aside.
  2. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine oyster sauce mixture and chicken; marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, up to 8 hours, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the chicken from the marinade.
  3. Thread chicken onto skewers. Brush with canola oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  5. Add skewers to grill, and cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 10 minutes. Brush skewers with reserved oyster sauce mixture, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

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Friulian Reds with Zorzettig

Nothing gets me more excited when it comes to Italian wine than having the opportunity to taste grapes that I don’t too often have the opportunity to taste.  Going to the Gambero Rosso event in Boston earlier this summer provided me that opportunity.  This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is exploring wines of northeastern Italy including reds, whites, sparkling, dessert wines.  Heck anything goes this month.   
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know that I love the white wines of northern Italy, specifically northeastern Italy.  Not too often do I taste the reds, but I’ll jump at any opportunity to do so.  At the Gambero Rosso even I discovered the wines of Zorzettig located in the Friuli Venezia Giulia wine region.  Today I want to share with you their red wines including schioppettino and refosco. 
The winery ~ Zorzettig 
Zorzettig is located in the hills of Spessa di Cividale of the area of Colli Orientali.  With generations upon generations of winemaking in the family today the winery is managed by Annalisa Zorzettig with the help of her brother’s assistance in the vineyardOther generations including Annalisa’s daughter Veronica and young granddaughter will be following in her footsteps one day.   Their production is quite large with over 900k bottles annually. 

Zorzettig family ~ Copyright of Zorzettig

The land ~ Colli Orientali 
The Colli Orientali is one of the respected wine producing areas of Friuli.  It’s found just north of Collio in the eastern part of Friuli at the foothills of the Pre-Alps.  The vineyards were built there by the legionnaires of Julius Caesar.  Due to the steep hillsides the vineyards are terraced to allow easier cultivation of the grapes and hand harvesting of the grapes. 

Copyright of Zorzettig

The grapes ~ Schioppettino & Refosco 
Schioppettino and refosco aren’t two grapes I have covered a lot in the 6 years since I started my blog so am always happy to share them once I find ones I’ve enjoyed.  Schioppettino, pronounced skee-oh-pet-tino, is one of Friuli’s native red grapes.  It’s also known as ribolla nera.  This grape faced extinction since it was challenging to grow, but was rescued in the 1970’s by the Rapuzzi family and the Mayor of Prepotto.  It’s darkly colored with notes of black fruits and some spice.  It’s a full-bodied wine with intensity, structure, high acid and tannins.  They usually will age well as well. 
Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, another native red grape of Friuli, is found throughout the region with its home in Carso.  The name of the grape means “from the red stem” and is due to the fact that the stalk turns red once the grapes have ripened.  Refosco can produce different styles depending upon the use of oak or not.  Medium to full-bodied it lends red and black fruit notes with herbs and spice.  Another grape high in tannins and acid.  
The wines 
2016 Zorzettig Schioppettino 
I was informed at the tasting that the word schioppettino comes from the verb scoppiare meaning to burst as the skins explode during fermentation.  Made of 100% schioppettino.  With a nose of black pepper and green bell peppers.  Rather lighter than I expected close to medium bodied.  A soft wine with notes of forest berries.  At this price point it’s quite the bargain.  SRP $10-12 
2015 Zorzettig Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Myo 
These grapes hail from the oldest vineyards of the estate and was a project started in 2008 with a new selection of grapes both native and international.  The project is named Myo Vigneti di SpessaVigneti meaning vineyards of SpessaMyo stems from an ancient Friulian ballade based on the simplicity of daily living.  Zorzettig felt Myo was the best name for these wines due to their pride and respect for their land and their labor of love put forth in the vineyards. 
From the Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, this wine was my favorite of the two.  Made of 100% refosco.  Deep ruby red in color.  Moderate tannins with nice, crisp acidity.  Black fruits and ripe raspberries.  Good overall body and structure.  SRP $20 
Join my fellow wine and food loving friends as they share their choices for northeastern wines of Italy.  If you catch this in time we will be live on Twitter Saturday at 11am EST @ #ItalianFWT.  See you there! 

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla hunts down “Coniglio in Agrodolce + Ronchi di Cialla Ribolla Gialla 2017”

Wendy tries “Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Pizza with a Terlano Pinot Bianco” over at A Day in the Life on the Farm
Linda investigates “Alto Adige: Is this wine region Italian or Austrian?” at My Full Wine Glass
Gwendolyn is The Wine Predator, and she will be “Celebrating Summer in the Mountains of Italy : 4 wines with 4 courses from Südtirol”
Jeff at FoodWineClick! will be getting back to nature with “A Food-Friendly Skin-Fermented Vigneti delle Dolomiti”
Cindy will be taking a look at “Picolit – A Historic, Rare, Sweet Dessert Wine from Collio DOC” over at Grape Experiences
Lauren, The Swirling Dervish, will be trying out “Elena Walch Müller Thurgau with Summertime Shrimp Pad-Thai”
Katarina will be look closer at “Aquila del Torre winery: An Oasis in Friuli Focused on Local Identity and Innovation” at Grapevine Adventures
And our host Kevin will be doing a bit of a double-header at SnarkyWine, with some “Mountain Bubbles and a Tannic Finish”