Easy Peasy Blackened BBQ Chicken

Instagram media by errin_nicole - Think I've found my new favorite blackened chicken recipe @traegergrills #summer #traegernation


Not all meals can be triumphs. Some are cheats, some are consolations and some are bowls of cereal eaten in the dark. I consider a mean a winner if it tastes good and I feel good after eating it. Sometimes that means cinnamon rolls for dinner, because hey you can only not-have-kids-or-responsibilities-cause-trust-me-im-a-grownup for so many years before it get ridiculous.

So after many weeks of boring, responsible, big-girl grilled chicken, salted, oiled and thrown on the grill, like a good healthy person should, I was looking for something a more. Then inspiration struck — as the costco sized jug of chili powder, I just had to have fell from the cabinet and exploded all over my freshly scrubbed stove.

I can use this, I thought. It’s a sign, I thought, and onto the chicken it went.

So, if you want to have the best chicken ever, use this rub and thank me later. For the first round I used trimmed chicken thighs, because their additional delicious fat whispers sweet nothings to my inner Julia Child, but for this batch I went back to boneless skinless breast. Because we can’t be crazy all the time.

For the rub:

1/2 cup chili powder

2 Tb brown sugar

1 tsp salt

crack of pepper

1 tb mixed Kirkland Signature™ Organic No-Salt Seasoning (which is the BEST, but basically a blend of everything you’d ever want in your spice cabinet…)


1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp dried onion flake

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp dried rosemary

To start:

Clean and butterfly 3 chicken breasts, or 6 chicken thighs, skins removed. Mix all together and rub on chicken. I personally, didn’t add any oil. I found that the spice rub doesn’t stick nearly as well when there’s oil involved. After rubbing with the spices, place in the fridge and let rest for about 25-30 min. Heat up the grill and cook until the juices run clear - 10-20 min depending on your grilling style. We’ve got a traeger at home, so the smoke/indirect heat makes for a WAY longer, and much delicious cooking time. Remove and let rest.

Or alternatively, place chicken on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and bake at 400 for 30-40 min. When baking in the oven, I pulled them out to check at about the half way mark and gave them a solid drizzle with some cooking oil. Since they’re in the oven for so a bit longer, I worried a bit about them drying out.

Cook, serve and enjoy.




Eats, Mindful Monday, Wellness

15 Bean Soup with Kale and Parmesan Meatballs

kale, parmesan and 15 beans soup with roasted turkey meatballs.

When did summer decide to get so dreary? After two weeks of beautiful, we’re stuck with a mucky muck of mid-year gloom. As all San Diegans know, June July gloom is the worst. Cloudy in the AM, with weird drizzle and that causes my hair to go all poufy, sunshine and heat by mid-day — where I dream about leaving my office to hit the beach — and 4:00 PM, when the clouds roll back in, effectively dashing my ideas of warm toes in the sand.

This weird weather dichotomy makes me want only one thing — soup. And as odd as that sounds, summer time soup (?) it really is the best. So instead of a hearty, filling, warm up the old bones in front of the fire, rib-sticker, here’s something a little lighter, but just as lovely. Fifteen bean soup with kale and parmesan turkey meatballs.

The hardest part of making this soup is remembering the soak the beans the night before. Just measure, and plop in a bowl with some cool water. If you have the motivation, change the water halfway through, but otherwise, forget about them until dinner, when it’s time to make the soup.

For the soup:

2 cups fifteen bean mix – picked over for stones, soaked over night then rinsed and drained

1 onion chopped

2 carrots chopped

2 ribs celery chopped

3 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp chili flakes

handful of parmesan

3 Tb flour

3 Tb butter

8 cups chicken stock

2-4 cups water

2 cups of torn up kale – ribs removed

vegetable oil

Start by sauteing the onion, carrot, celery until translucent in a bit of veggie oil. Add a pinch of salt then spices and garlic, toast until fragrant. Add butter, when melted, mix in flour. Once flour has cooked a bit, add in chicken stock and scrape up all the tasty brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add water, and beans. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 min until flavors have mingled. Add kale and cover until wilted. Then add cooked turkey meatballs.

For the balls:

1 lb ground turkey – NOT 99% lean or the turkey will be stringy and gross

1 egg

2 cloves minced garlic

dash Worcestershire

1 tsp thyme

1/4 cup parmesan + more for dusting

handful of breadcrumbs


Mix all ingredients together and place turkey in small balls on baking sheet – about ping pong to golf ball sized. Spray with cooking spra, or drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with extra parm. Place under broiler until outside has started to become opaque — DONT burn the cheese! Then turn over down to 375 and cook for 15-20 minutes until done. I ended up only adding about half the meatballs to the soup, and saved the rest of pasta later. If you make the balls small enough you’ll have about 30, so it’s your call.

Plate the soup with meatballs, toasty breads, and parm, because cheese. Enjoy your summer soup.




Health, Meditation, Mindful Monday

Mindful Monday: Exploring the Power of Intent

There is a certain mysticism surrounding the idea that positive energy attracts positivity. When Rhonda Byrne’s book, The Secret, was published in 2006 it broke all estimated expectations and rose rapidly to the top of the New York Times best-sellers list. People were stunned. It was amazing, like someone had stumbled on a long forgotten book of spells, all of which were geared toward the attraction of wonderful thing

Want a trip to Fiji, one million dollars? Consider it done. A house in the Hampton’s, your picture on the front page? Done and done. The power of positivity promised greatness, material things, things that are wanted above all else and eventually, after weeks of manifesting, people were disappointed when it didn’t happen.

All in all, The Secret might not have been the best way of promoting intent, but the idea that good thoughts, attract good things isn’t magic. It isn’t the rare musings of some secret sage, wrapped in a book you purchased from amazon while sleep-shopping, and SURPRISE gets delivered to your doorstep. The power of intent is within you — you just need to learn how to use it.

The power of positivity is your chance to change the way you think

Consider a terrible day. You wake up grouchy, trip on the cat and realize for the third time this week that you probably should have gotten gas yesterday. You do, and are late for work; because of this you’re reamed by your boss, give a crappy presentation and forget to bring your lunch.

After 2PM you get tired — because, humans — and find that your cheat of a boyfriend is actually sleeping with that girl-he-promised-was-just-a-friend. You cut the bastard, schlep your single self home, pop that bottle of sad-girl chardonnay and drown your sorrows in a pint of butter pecan. Around 10PM you realize it would probably have been better not to get out of bed at all.

A wasted day.

Now, for a bit of thinking. Who’s fault is it that this day was wasted? From that very moment when you get out of bed grouchy, you make the choice that rest of the day is going to be shitty. What if instead, you take a second to fix your thinking. Fix you, and decide to see every ‘bad’ thing that’s happened doesn’t have to be realized as such.

By putting on a happy face, you set in motion a manifestation of good intent. By telling yourself and setting a goal — today, I will view the world through love and take the things that come as they do and not worry about everything else – you change everything.

Take for instance a recent study on the how manipulated facial expression can actually influence the way we feel. Just pretending to be happy, going through the motions can change yourself.

Let’s explore The Smile Study: - smile study

METHODOLOGY:  In an experiment that was smile-worthy in its own right, researchers used chopsticks to manipulate the facial muscles of their 169 participants into a neutral expression, a standard smile, or a Duchenne smile. A Duchenne smile involves contration of both zygomatic muscles — which raise the corners of the mouth – and the orbicularis oculi – which crinkles the eyes and give the illusion of crows feet. A non-Duchenne smile, just influences the mouth. A fake smile as my mother would say. In addition to the chopstick placement, some were explicitly instructed to smile. Then, they were subjected to a series of stress-inducing, multitasking activities, which they struggled to perform while continuing to hold the chopsticks in their mouths. The subjects’ heart rates and self-reported stress levels were monitored throughout.

RESULTS:  The participants who were instructed to smile recovered from the stressful activities with lower hear rates than participants who held neutral expressions, and those with Duchenne smiles were the most relaxed of all, with the most positive effect. Those with forced smiles held only by the chopsticks also reported more positive feelings than those who didn’t smile at all.

CONCLUSION: When a situation has you feeling stressed or flustered, even the most forced of smiles can genuinely decrease your stress and make you happier.

So think about what could happen if you didn’t just go through the motion, what if you made up your mind to live positively. Instead of hating the world after you trip on the cat, consider how grateful you were for kitty cuddles the night before — when you were sodden with chardonnay and pecan pralines – when you’re late to work and your boss is grouchy think about how you are grateful you have a job. Even if your job isn’t the best. Forgot your lunch? See if you can go out and get something, take a walk and consider it a breather from that reaming session. The now ex-boyfriend? You were better off without him anyway. Cheaters never prosper. And next time, just remember to get gas when the light comes on. #firstworldproblems

So think this over and marinate. Let it sink on in. Later this month we’ll delve into Deepak Chopra’s 5 steps to powerful manifestation.