July is off to a great start. We’ve officially been here for a whole month – hard to believe! I feel like we’ve gotten to do so much and have already met so many great people. This month is more of the same so far 🙂
This past weekend while Nate was finishing up his long CCU shifts, I went hiking with a coworker on Turk Gap Trail. Check out the view from the top!
This was a really nice, moderate hike in Shenandoah National Park and I had a good time getting out and about for the day. It was especially great having a new friend to hang out with while Nathan was so busy, too. Definitely won’t be the last time we do this!
Nathan and I had to work Monday but we lucked out and had the 4th of July off together. Since we know these days are rare, we wanted to be sure and put it to good use. Our plan for the day included sleeping in, a trip to Chris Greene Lake, and making a new recipe together for dinner.
The weather was perfect for a lake day. After getting the chicken started for our new recipe at home (see more below), we headed out for the afternoon. The lake is about 25 minutes north of Charlottesville. There’s a swimming area, kayaks/canoes/paddle boards to rent, boating/fishing area, picnic shelters, and even a few hiking trails. It was beautiful and a lot bigger than I expected!
^Not the best photos, but use your imagination…
It reminded me a lot of a reservoir in Tennessee my parents used to take me and my siblings to as kids. Fond memories, and I can’t wait to make more of them here!
After soaking up some sunshine and fresh air at the lake, we came home to put together our new recipe for the month.
Once again, we chose one from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. One night last month, Nate made her brick-oven chicken legs and had gotten some extra leg quarters on sale to freeze for later. So we decided to use them this month in her Chipotle-Honey Chicken with Mango-Avocado Salsa. It worked out perfectly! I used to shy away from recipes like this because it calls for a food processor (which we don’t own and I don’t want to buy) to make your own chipotle sauce. I’ve since learned you can get creative and things tend to work out, or at least be close enough 😉
***Once again, I won’t be sharing exact quantities because #copyright. But the basic ingredients and process are outlined below!***
First, make sure you plan ahead. You need to make the chipotle sauce and let the chicken legs marinate for at least 2 hours (and up to one day…so if you’re having people over and want to make this recipe for them, it would be a pro move to do this step the night before to make it relatively low-key/hands-off the day of).
To make the chipotle sauce, combine:
- Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce [these were fun to hunt down at the grocery store(s)…#wildgoosechase #wegmansforthewin]
- BBQ sauce
- Brown sugar
- Garlic cloves (lots)
- Lime juice
Pulse all of this in a food processor OR get like us and just use a blender and a mixing bowl.
This method worked for this specific recipe but I’m sure a food processor would be better in other cases 🙂
Good enough for me! Coat the chicken legs with most of the sauce but leave about a half cup of it to use later. Let all of this chill in the fridge for a few hours (or a whole day) while you go play at the lake or whatever strikes your fancy.
After marinating, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread foil on a baking sheet and place the chicken in a single layer. Bake for 35 minutes.
In the meantime, get to work on the mango-avocado salsa. You’ll need:
- Red onion
- Lime zest & juice
The hardest part about the salsa was cutting the mango. What the heck?! Chrissy (yes, we’re on a first name basis now…why do you ask?) even gave tips about how to pit a mango in the cookbook and we still struggled. Soooo…next time, we’re buying pre-cut mango.
After 35 minutes, take the chicken out and spread about a tablespoon of honey over each leg quarter.
Top the chicken with the remaining chipotle sauce and put it back in for 10 minutes. Your kitchen will begin to smell amazing and soon you will have this masterpiece!
Nate charred some brussels sprouts in our cast iron skillet to go on the side. Altogether now…
This was such a delicious meal! The chicken definitely has some kick to it from the chipotle sauce, but the salsa was perfect to help balance it out. If anything, we’ll make more salsa next time to go with it. The charred brussels sprouts were also a great complement.
In the future, we may tinker with the sauce a little bit to get it to be the exact flavor we like…Nate loves spice, I could take it or leave it, so we’ll play around with it some (maybe, or maybe not). Honestly, it was all great as is. We felt luxurious even though we were in our own kitchen (and one of us may or may not have already been in PJs for the day…#me #always).
Meals like this make me think we’re in a nice restaurant. It’s so cool to realize I can make stuff that’s just as good/fun/different as I’d find when going out to eat. I NEVER thought that would be the case but these new recipes are proving otherwise. Thanks again to Cravings for nudging us to get creative in the kitchen and for helping me branch out and learn new things! I’m already looking forward to eating the leftovers 🙂