Friday, April 27, 2012

A Spices Inc. Build-Your-Own-Spice Set Contest...and Yucatan-Spiced Chicken with Tropical Avocado Salsa

I get easily excited about food...this I readily admit! I’m sure most of you can relate. But, today? I’m even more excited than usual, because I have a really fun contest to announce! First, a little background: In the early months of this blog, I entered a contest that a food blogger friend of mine hosted (Louanne of Louanne’s Kitchen). I submitted a custom spice collection to Spices Inc. ...and my Wendy’s Wow Factor was picked as a winner! I recently discovered that more than a year later, it’s still available for purchase on their website...and that it’s actually quite popular. That absolutely floors me! What does this have to do with anything, you may be wondering?

Well...Spices Inc. is now partnering with ME on a similar contest! The rules are really simple, so I hope all of you enter this fun contest and showcase just how creative you are! To take part in this Build-Your-Own-Spice-Set contest, here’s what you need to do:

(1)  Go to the Spices Inc. website and browse their huge variety of herbs, spices, chiles, and seasoning blends.
(2)  Pick SIX different items to place in your spice set - spices, herbs, seasonings, or chiles.
(3)  Give your spice set a fun, creative name...something that helps it stand apart from the other entries.
(4)  In a sentence or two, tell us the inspiration for your spice set: how does it reflect the way you cook?
(5)  Leave your entry in a comment below; you have until Friday, May 4th at 11:59 PM to enter.

Greg Patterson, owner and Chief Spices Officer of Spices Inc., will judge all of the entries and pick the most creative spice set as the winner. The contest winner will receive their very own customized six-jar spice set to cook with in their kitchen. In addition, the winning spice set will be featured on the Spices Inc. website as a "Limited Edition Spice Set," along with name credit in the description. How cool is that?!?!? I know...VERY! Have fun creating your spice sets, and GOOD LUCK!

Spices Inc. products are really fabulous! They’re based in Pennsylvania and have been in the mail-order spice business since 2008. Their philosophy is pretty simple: provide excellent products and fantastic customer service. I love their products and use them in my kitchen all the time! My favorite spices from my Wendy's Wow Factor spice set are the Hill Country Chili Powder and the Baharat. For this post, Greg sent me three new spices to try out: Ft. Worth Burger Seasoning, Yucatan Recado Rojo Rub, and Za'atar. I used the burger seasoning to flavor a batch of burgers one evening after work. We really liked the kick and subtle heat that it gave to the meat. You can see the spices in the meat...FYI, my burger was topped with pesto and jack cheese.

Za'atar is one of my favorite seasonings from a local Middle Eastern restaurant. It’s hard to find locally, so I was really excited to try Spices Inc’s blend. I added it to some olive oil and a bit of salt, bought some of my favorite wood-fired pita, and dipped away. It was so good...z'aatar is a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, and other exotic spices. I’m so glad that I can buy this unique spice, because I’ve had to rely on sneaking extra containers every time we go out to eat there! In fact, it was so yummy that I forgot to snap a pic!

The Yucatan Recado Rojo Rub is a really fantastic seasoning: it features achiote, which gives Yucatecan food its characteristic orange color. Per the suggestions on the website, I added a bit of orange juice and vinegar and rubbed it generously on boneless chicken breasts. After some resting time in the fridge, I gave the chicken a quick sear and topped it with a tropical fruit-avocado salsa. It was a light and healthy dinner...served simply over white rice flavored with cilantro and garlic.

Yucatan-Spiced Chicken with 
Tropical Avocado Salsa
a Weekend Gourmet Original

Step 1:  Combine 1/4 cup Spices Inc Yucatan Recado Rojo Rub, 2 tbs. orange juice, and 1 tsp. red wine vinegar in a bowl. Stir well to combine and rub 2-3 chicken breasts (about 1 lb.) with the mixture. Refrigerate for an hour or so to let the spices penetrate into the meat.

Step 2: While the chicken rests in the fridge, make the salsa. Add the following ingredients to a bowl: 1 diced mango, 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple, 1/2 small avocado (diced), 2 tbs. finely diced shallot, 1/2 finely diced seeded serrano pepper, the juice of one key lime, 1 tsp. cilantro, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir and set aside until you're ready to serve.

Step 3:  Add 1 tbs. olive oil to a non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Let the pan heat for five minutes so it's nice and hot. Add the chicken breasts and sear for five minutes per side...until cooked through. To serve, place some white rice on a plate. Top with a chicken breast and spoon some of the salsa on top.

I really enjoyed this dish! The marinade/rub gave the chicken a very nice flavor...the spice was more of a gentle warmth than in-your-face heat. I loved how pretty the chicken browned as it cooked. The tang from the orange juice and vinegar didn't overpower the other flavors at all, and it combined really nicely with the tropical salsa. It was sweet-tart from the fruit, with a little kick from the serrano pepper...and the creamy, cooling avocado matched perfectly!

With warmer weather coming, I'll be cooking lots of dishes like this: light, flavorful, and cooling. I can see myself using this flavorful rub on pork tenderloin, fish, and shrimp in the coming weeks and months. Now...go to the Spices Inc website and get to work planning your personalized spice set! I'm so excited to see what fun creations y'all come up with!!

1 comment:

  1. That Yucatan Spiced Chicken looks scrumptious! I'll surely share this recipe to my mom because she marinades perfectly. I couldn't get any more excited!


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