Sweet ‘n Spicy Way to Beat the Summer Heat

Chamoy, chili and mangoes make for a refreshing way to beat the heat.

I’ve mentioned in the past that our kitchen gets super hot in the summertime so I tend to do a lot of grilling and ice cream making and not a lot of baking. As a result, I’ve been making quite a lot of ice pops lately (and thanks you to my co-workers that have been taste testing these recipes over the past few weeks.). I’m also working on a way to boozify my piña colada and sweet lime ginger mint lemongrass ice pop. Though preliminary spherification tests did not fair well. Anyway…this week ice pop recipe is Chili Mango with Homemade Chamoy. a.k.a. mangonada or chamango. What’s chamoy you may ask? Well its a spicy, sweet and sour condiment that’s frequently served with fruit and is really popular down here in Southern California.


  • 2 dried ancho chilies (seeded, stemmed and cut into strips)
  • 1 dried pasilla peppers (seeded, stemmed, and cut into strips)
  • 2 cups boiled water (divided)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 1 TBS Tajin
  • ½ cup orange marmelade
  • ¾ cup apricot jam

Place the dried chilies into a medium sized bowl and cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Let sit until soften (about 30 minutes). Drain the chilies and place the chilies into a blender along with all the other ingredients. Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Run through a find sieve to remove any large pieces and then store in a squeeze bottle and set aside to cool to room temperature. You can adjust the amount and type of chilies to your preference.


Ice Pop molds of mangonada paletas waiting to be placed in the freezer to freeze over night.

Mangonada Paletas/Ice Pops

  • 2 large ripe mangoes diced or 3 cups of frozen mango slices (reserve some of the pieces to place in the bottom of the ice pop mold
  • 1 11.5 oz can of mango nectar (such as Jumex or Kerns)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ tsp Tajin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • agave syrup or sugar to taste*

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


  • soak ice pop sticks in warm water
  • squirt chamoy on sides and bottom of ice pop molds
  • place a few pieces of mango into the bottom of the ice pop molds
  • fill molds with mango purée
  • insert sticks
  • freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight
  • Enjoy!


*depending on how ripe and sweet the mangoes are you may not need to add extra sweetener

That’s how the cookie crumbles..

What’s better than milk and cookies?

This week was filled with all kinds of technical challenges, including the inability to upload images. Which is a wee problematic for blogging. I was finally able to get them resolved, So now that’s all taken care of I’m giving classic chocolate chip cookies. a little shake up for this week’s recipe. One of my co-workers gave me a package of Horlick’s Malted Milk Powder from her prized stash and it got me thinking that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies before. So after a little bit of testing here’s the recipe I came up with.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup/2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed malted milk balls like Whoppers or Maltesers
  • 2 oz of chopped extra dark chocolate
  • coarse salt and chopped dark chocolate for the top (optional)

In a large bowl, cream butter until it turns a light pale yellow then add granulated sugar and light brown sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add in eggs, malted milk powder, coffee and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add in salt, baking soda and sifted flour until the flour is mostly combined. You may have to mix this by hand or use a stand mixer. Stir in the chocolate chips, crushed malted milk balls and dark chocolate. Form into golfball sized balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Place dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet leaving 2″ space between cookies and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Fully Loaded….Fries that is…

Here in Southern California, loaded fries is a pretty big deal and just about every bar and hamburger stand has their variation of them whether it’s Pastrami Fries, Carne Asada Fries, or Greek Fries loaded with Gyro meat and feta. We make our own variation at home and the best part aside from warming up some BBQ brisket or pork and heating up some fries not much prep or cooking required. So this also comes together pretty easy on a week night with stuff from the grocery store.

Jack Danial’s Pulled Pork Fries

1 package of Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork or Brisket

1 jar of Tostitos Queso sauce

1 bag of French fries, tater tots or waffle fries

2 cups of shredded cheese

1 jalapeno finely chopped

3 scallions finely chopped

1 dill pickle finely chopped

bbq sauce/mayo sauce*


Cook the fries according to the package directions. While the fries are cooking, heat up the bbq pork/brisket according to the package directions and set aside. Once fries are cooked, add the shredded cheese and top with bbq meat and drizzle with queso sauce. Return to the oven and heat until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes). Remove from oven, garnish with the chopped onions, jalapeño and pickles then drizzle with bbq sauce/mayo and serve.

*BBQ/Mayo Sauce

½ cup bbq sauce

½ cup mayo

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

pinch of salt

1 TBS honey or agave nectar

1 tsp hot sauce optional

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until combined


Holiday Hiatus

Just letting you all know that we are going on a little Holiday season break here at itstimefordinner.com. We will be back the beginning of the year with all new content. In the meantime, check out my Holiday Treat Series. You’ll find the link to all my past Holiday Treat recipes and videos from years past, which I hope will  inspire your Holiday baking.

Happy Holidays and I’ll see you in the New Year.

Easy Curried Chicken Salad


Curried Chicken Salad tucked into a pita with romaine lettuce

I don’t know about you, but my work life is getting pretty hectic and will probably continue to be until the end of the year so the next few posts will be pretty quick and easy recipes.

This week I’m making a curried chicken salad, which revisits one of the first posts on the blog. This blog was originally started as a requirement for a class on Social Media (yep, you get college credit for learning how to use the social medias).  One of the assignments was to make a BuzzFeed Style listicle. I chose to make my listicle about the best sandwiches (in the world ever!) The assignment gave me a chance (read excuse) to eat/make/photograph all my favorite sandwiches. Let’s pause for a moment of wistfulness and feeling nostalgic for a time when life was arguably less complicated when I was trying to juggle home-life, studio art classes with a full load of credits and working part-time.

Anyway, one of the nice things about this salad is that you can use leftover chicken (or turkey this will be great post Thanksgiving to use up leftover turkey and crudite) and the other ingredients are optional but you probably have them in your fridge and pantry.  Nuts and celery add a nice crunch for texture and raisins, grapes, dated or dried fruit of your choice and some carrots will add a nice bit of sweetness. I used Jamaican style curry seasoning but you could just as easily use a chili powder or five-spice powder to change the flavor profile if you’re not into curry. Feel free to experiment (it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t follow my recipe and well I’d never know either way).  I usually keep it simple and enjoy the salad with crackers or on a sweet roll but you could easily serve it over a bed of mixed dressed greens or between two slices of your favorite bread.


2 cups shredded or cubed chicken

2 carrots peeled and diced

1 stalk of celery diced

2 scallions chopped

¼ cup diced red onion

¼ cup dried fruit like raisins, dates, mango, cranberries or fresh sliced grapes

¼ nuts or seeds

1 TBS prepared brown mustard or dijon

½ cup mayonnaise

1 TBS curry seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized mixing bowl mix the curry, mustard and mayonnaise until everything is well blended. Then add the nuts/seeds, carrots, onions, celery and fruit and mix until everything has been coated with the dressing. Now just add the chicken and mix. Enjoy…

Fig Bacon and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Store bought flatbread is dressed up with fresh sliced figs, crumbled bacon and goat cheese then drizzled with a honey balsamic syrup for sweetness

This is a really quick and easy lunch idea borne from our excess of figs and uses things you may already have in your fridge and pantry.  I took a couple of store bought flatbreads, brushed them with bacon fat and baked on a cookie sheet with a wire rack in a preheated 400F oven for 2-3 minutes. I removed them from the oven then topped them with sliced figs, crumbled bacon and goat cheese. I put the flatbread back in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the goat cheese starts to melt and brown. I removed them from the oven then drizzled with a honey and balsamic syrup which was 2 parts honey to 1 part balsamic vinegar. Then I cut it into 1-2″ wide strips for serving. If you’re thinking of this for a lunch idea then I’d add a simple spinach or arugula and goat cheese salad with a drizzle of the honey balsamic syrup for dressing. Quick and easy…


2 store bought flatbreads

2 TBS bacon grease (melted)

¼ crumbled goat cheese/feta or blue cheese

¼ crumbled cooked bacon

2 tsp of honey

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Ahi Poke (pronounced poh-keh)

Authentically traditional, Ahi Poke with ogo, alaea salt, kukui nut, onions, scallions and sesame oil.

So a few weeks back there were several reports about a midwest company that does business under the name Aloha Poke, trying to enforce their trademark of the phrase Aloha Poke. There was a bit of an inter-web brouhaha because this same midwest company, sent cease and desist notices to Native Hawaiians that use variations of the phrase aloha and poke for their food related business. You can read more about this story here. There are a couple of Change.org petition which you can check out here and here.

I did my ranting and raving about the gall of that company and their profiting off of the cultural appropriation of Hawaiian Culture a few days ago, So I won’t rehash that here. Though the issue has made me realize that many of you may not know what authentic poke (pronounced po-keh) is or how to make it. ‘Cause the stuff they sell at places like Aloha Poke is not authentic.

At its core, poke was a way to preserve the day’s catch before refrigeration was available and it put to use things that were in abundance like salt, seaweed and kukui (also called candlenuts) nut oil and meat. Ogo which is a dark reddish brown thread-like seaweed as well as alaea salt are used. Alaea salt is sea salt that’s been mixed with red volcanic clay. Chopped kukui nuts are roasted and then salted to make inamona. Alaea salt is then added to the inamona and is the seasoning for the poke. Since kukui nuts are hard to find here on the mainland, my local Tokyo Central sells both Noh Brand and Ohana Flavors brand poke seasoning*, which is basically ground up kukui nuts and Alaea salt (and sometimes furikake and red chili flakes). They also sell dried ogo. Here’s the recipe:


1 lb sashimi grade fish or tofu cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 TBS Poke Seasoning* (see above)

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 thinly sliced sweet onion

2 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS chopped and rehydrated ogo

Combine the fish, scallions, onions, ago and oil in a bowl and slowly add the poke seasoning. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors marry.

You can eat poke over cooked rice (sticky white rice ideally), with crackers or if you really want to get authentic, with poi. There are other varieties of poke out there, but this particular one predates the arrival of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans workers who brought soy sauce, salmon and rice to Hawaii.

Shoyu Poke

1 lb fish or tofu

¼ cup chopped scallions

¼ cup thinly sliced sweet onions

2 TBS sesame oil

1 TBS shoyu

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds or sprinkle of furikake rice seasoning

pinch of alaea salt

1 tsp brown sugar or honey

1 tsp garlic chili paste (optional)

In a bowl, mix the shoyu, sesame oil, salt and sugar/honey until both the salt and sugar/honey are dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Shoyu Poke with tako cucumber and avocado and wonton chips


Getting pickled

We get weekly produce deliveries from imperfectproduce sometimes I forget to customize my order and we wind up with types of produce that I normally wouldn’t have picked. Or, we wind up with a larger quantity of something than what the 2 of us can use in a week. This has been the case with both cucumbers, carrots and radishes recently.

Since the whole idea behind us getting produce from imperfect produce is to reduce waste it seems silly to throw the unwanted or unused produce away. So I made a couple of quick pickles. One a fairly Americanized quick cucumber and onion pickle and the other an Asian style pickled carrot and radish similar to what you may see on a Bahn mi. You don’t really need any fancy equipment for this, These can be eaten same day and held in the fridge for about a week.

First up,

Quick Cucumber Pickles

1 large English cucumber or 4 or 5 smaller Persian cucumbers sliced into ¼”. thick slices

½ medium onion peeled quartered and sliced thinly

⅓ cup white or apple cider vinegar

2 TBS salt

⅓ cup sugar

1 cup water

1 sliced green onion

1 sprig of dill (optional)

10 peppercorns

Slice onion, green onion and cucumbers and place into a large mouth sanitized canning jar. In a small sauce pan, bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Turn off heat and set to the side. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour liquid over cucumber and onion making sure to leave a little space at the top of the jar. Top with a sanitized lid and place in the fridge. These can be eaten immediately and stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Pickled Carrots and Radish

Sealed jar of pickled carrots and radishes cooling off. Once they’ve cooled down they’ can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Traditionally, these are made with daikons rather than radishes. But since the whole idea was to use up some excess produce I used the radishes I had on hand. I used my food processor to grade the carrots and radish, but a box grater can also be used. I strained out some of the excess liquid so I had something that looks like this:


1 bunch carrots washed. peeled and grated

1 bunch radish tops removed, peeled and grated

½ cup sugar

2 TBS salt

⅓ cup each rice wine vinegar and white vinegar

1 clove star. anise

2 cloves

1 tsp peeled and crushed ginger

4 cups warm water

Mix the warm water, sugar, salt and vinegars until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Place  star anise, cloves and ginger into the bottom of clean 1 qt canning jar then add carrots and radishes. Cover the vegetables with the brine mixture until completely covered. Top with a sanitized lid. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Mission Fig Galette


We’re fortunate to share a garden with our neighbors. We have herbs, tomatoes, artichokes, lemons and a couple of fig trees. The first fig provided the perfect filling for this galette. Galettes are easy desserts, think of them as a pie or tart, but you don’t need a pie plate or a tart pan. You can also use store bought pie crust or use your favorite crust recipe. I rolled out a pie crust on to parchment paper and spread orange marmalade on the crust leaving about a 1 inch border. I sliced the fig lengthwise and cut it into 8 pieces. I placed them in a kind of spoke pattern on the pie crust and dusted with sugar and topped with a little more of the orange marmalade. Place the galette on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Holiday Treats IV-Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark

Barks are really easy candies to make and you can use either white or dark chocolate. Just melt the chocolate, pour it onto a wax paper lined baking sheet (one with sides) and then top with whatever flavorings you want. Things like, dried fruits, like dried apricots, coconut and candied orange zest, nuts, crumbled candies, crumbled pretzels and crumbled malted milk balls are just a few examples of things I’ve used. Use whatever your family likes.

You can melt the chocolate using a double boiler over a simmer and stir constantly (Be careful not to get water into the chocolate or the chocolate will seize and you’ll have to start over). The kid friendly way to work with chocolate is to employ the nuker. Microwave the chocolate on 50% power for 30 second intervals, stirring in between the intervals until the chocolate is melted.

The other caution I’ll give is to good quality chocolate bars versus chocolate chips when making candies, especially when it comes to white chocolate. White Chocolate chips rarely have any cocoa butter (thank you FDA and your lax food labeling policies) in them which is what you want for this.

Peppermint Bark
Probably one of the easiest home-made candies you can make.

1/2 cup of crushed candy canes or any hard peppermint candy

1/4 tsp peppermint extract

16 oz white chocolate (not chips) chopped

Line a sided baking sheet with wax paper and lay out 1/2 of the crushed candy. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Make sure to stir constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peppermint extract.

Pour over candy on baking sheet. Then top with the remaining candy and spread so its a 1/4″ to 1/2″ layer. Let cool in the fridge for about an hour then break apart and store in an airtight container.