Southwestern Salad Bowls

With the lengthening days, blue skies and sunshine, thoughts turn to salads, barbecues and eating alfresco. That’s the fantasy anyway. My reality is as soon as the sun comes out and the trees have their beautiful blossom, my horrible hay fever with huge sneezes and itchy eyes kicks in!

Southwestern Salad1

This salad is particularly summery, full of flavour and good for you too. The chicken is coated in taco seasoning, so it’s a little spicy and the cool, creamy dressing is a perfect accompaniment.

I’ve made my own taco seasoning as it’s not so readily available in the UK, but I like to make my own spice blends anyway as they will always be fresher than anything you can buy in the shop and you can customise and add a little more chilli if you like it spicier. However, my taco seasoning isn’t too hot as I was making it for the family, but it does have a bit of a kick.

Taco seasoning also goes amazingly well on anything that is good grilled or roasted – prawns, fish, vegetables and steak kebabs!

Southwestern Salad5

You can serve the chicken on this salad warm or cold and I sometimes scatter hot crispy, smoked bacon over the top and a scattering of grated cheese for something extra!

I tried a few variations for the dressing and decided that I liked half greek yogurt and half sour cream, but it really could be all of either. I included a tiny squidge of honey too, just to balance out all the flavours.

This recipe is enough for 4 large chicken breasts, but can easily be halved to serve 2. I like to cook extra for leftovers, or to take to work for a packed lunch.

Taco seasoning :
4tbs chilli powder – I used hot chilli powder
2tbs cumin
1tbs paprika – I used smoked paprika
1tsp salt
2tsp dried onion flakes
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp dried oregano – you could use Italian seasoning if you don’t have any

Simply mix everything together and store in an air tight jar until you are ready to use.

Taco Seasoning

Dressing:
3tbs sour cream
3tbs Greek yogurt
1 medium sized bunch of coriander/cilantro including the stalks
Zest and juice of one small lime
Pinch of salt and pepper
1tsp (tiny squidge) of honey

Blend everything together until smooth, taste for the seasoning and refrigerate. I just used a hand blender as I didn’t want to get my main blender or food processor out!

Coriander dressing.jpg

Ingredients for the salad:
2tbs taco seasoning
Pinch of salt
1.5tbs olive oil
Juice and zest of one small lime
4 skinless chicken breasts
2 Romaine lettuces, roughly chopped or torn
2 avocados, skinned, sliced and tossed in lemon or lime juice
1 punnet of tomatoes – I used multi-coloured ones
1 can of sweetcorn, rinsed and drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
A few coriander leaves and lime wedges to garnish

Southwestern Salad2

Method:
Mix together the seasoning, salt, lime and oil together and thoroughly coat the chicken. You can do this in a plastic bag, or in a dish covered with cling film. Refrigerate and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is even better.

Grill the chicken on a griddle pan or frying pan until cooked through – 4-6 minutes on each side depending on how big the pieces are. You might need to add a little more oil and then leave to rest if using it warm, or leave to go completely cold, before slicing and preparing the rest of the salad.

Southwestern Salad3

When ready to serve, place a bed of lettuce into each bowl, top with the sliced chicken and then arrange the tomatoes, avocado, beans and corn around the chicken. You can also toss everything together before placing the chicken on the top.

Garnish with a few coriander leaves, before pouring over a little of the dressing. Serve the salad with extra dressing and my husband likes the addition of crispy bacon and cheese too.

Southwestern Salad2

I always like to make enough so I can take a lunchbox to work the next day with the dressing in a little screw top pot. Just remember to toss the avocado in juice or it will discolour.

Southwestern Salad lunchbox

Baked Sour Cream Doughnuts with Pumpkin Pie Spice Sugar

The weather has been so murky and misty lately that I decided to try out an autumn recipe early with the children who are on ‘summer’ holidays.  These are very moist, sour cream doughnuts, spiked with cinnamon and coated in pumpkin pie spice sugar.

donut tower

The doughnuts are baked rather than fried, so you don’t have to heat a vat of oil and then worry about the kitchen catching fire. Or is that just me?

I used to have a neighbour who refused to deep fry in her kitchen, due to the oily residue left behind. Her family still wanted deep fried chips, so she had her deep fat fryer installed in the garage and made them do it outside!

Anyway, no frying here, just baked delicious and gently spiced doughnuts, brushed with melted butter and coated in pumpkin pie spice sugar.

baked donuts

The doughnut moulds I used came from Amazon.  They are silicone, full sized and come in a set of three, so no waiting while one batch cools before baking off the rest.

I have used one of my disposable piping bags to pipe the batter into my doughnut moulds, but you could easily make these in a mini muffin tin too.

These are so quick and easy to make, I have also used cups here, so no weighing out either.

baked donuts1

Ingredients:
½ cup sour cream
1 extra large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup vegetable oil + a little extra for greasing the doughnut mould
½ cup golden caster sugar
1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
1½tsp cinnamon
½tsp baking powder
½tsp baking soda
½tsp salt

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and prepare the doughnut moulds.  This recipe makes 8 full sized doughnuts, but if you have a mini doughnut mould, you will get more

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the sour cream, egg, vanilla, oil and sugar together until its light and smooth.

In another bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.

Transfer to a piping bag, cut off the end and pipe the batter into the prepared moulds.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Leave in the moulds to cool for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the coating.

baked donut

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Coating:
1 cup golden caster sugar
2tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
Generous knob of butter – melted and cooled

spiced sugar

Method:
Brush the doughnuts with the butter and place into the sugar.  Using your hands, completely coat the doughnut in the sugar, tapping off the excess.

baked donut closeup

Enjoy while fresh and warm!