I Like Your Spice

I have had a craving for something hot, something tingling with spice, something that makes me sweat.  I recently went to Nashville and while I was there I picked up this really fun cornbread mix.  Ass Kickin’ Hot, well that’s what they say.

The mix found its way into my kitchen cabinet and that is where it stayed.  Every time I opened the pantry and saw the mix I felt the urge to make it but thought  I needed a special occasion to prepare the cornbread.  One day I was sick of the mix staring at me in the face, so I grabbed the bag and came up with a dinner idea: spicy, spicy and spicier.  I was going to make Tuesday night la noche de comida caliente.

Note: You have complete control over the spice level, this dinner does not have to be very spicy if you don’t want it to.

The menu for la noche caliente: Shriracha “fried” chicken, balsamic collard greens (not spicy), green chili and cheddar cornbread muffins and a refreshing, yet spicy cucumber salad.  Now hop in that kitchen, tap your feet to some twangy country music and get to cooking some spicy food.

First the Chicken.  Now for fried chicken, you usually have a wet wash then a dry wash  that you dip the chicken in, which gives the chicken that nice crunchy outside crust.  The wet wash for this recipe is a mix of mayo, shriracha, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  If you want really spicy chicken make the mayo to shriracha ratio more equal but if you want a more mild flavor use more mayo than shriracha.  You can taste test this until you reach your preferred spice level.

The dry wash is Panko crumbs because I think that Panko is crunchier than bread crumbs but if you only have bread crumbs they will work fine.  Once completely coated place the chicken on a broiler pan and stick the oven for about 20 minutes.

Note: If you choose to use bone-in chicken, the cooking time will be longer, if you choose boneless or smaller pieces of chicken, the cooking time will be shorter. To make sure the chicken is done, check for the color of the thickest part of the chicken: the meat should be white and opaque not pink or translucent.

This chicken is absolutely divine.  It is spicy and crunchy without frying.  You will surely surprise someone who doesn’t know about the spicy surprise.

The Collard greens are very simple.  Adding balsamic vinegar gives the right amount of acidity to the mixture.  Just a simple saute with garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The cornbread mix was also easy, I just followed the directions on the box, put the mix in muffin tins and viola! cornbread. 

The mix was fool-proof and it was super moist and filled with flavor.   Buy your own Ass kickin’ cornbread here.

And finally the fresh yet very spicy cucumber salad.  Start by cutting 2 cucumbers lengthwise and with a spoon scoop out the seeds.  Once you’ve taken out the seeds slice the cucumber in thin strips.

Place the strips in a large bowl.  Now for the spicy part, finely dice one Thai pepper.

Don’t let this little guy fool you, he is small but packs a punch of flavor.  Start by cutting the pepper lengthwise.  If you want a super spicy salad feel free to include the seeds, if you want a milder flavor omit some or even all of the seeds. Once diced, add to the cucumber.

The dressing/marinade that I used was very simple, feel free to make it a little more interesting.  All I used was a little white vinegar or rice vinegar, water, sugar, garlic powder and peppercorns (or freshly ground pepper).  The key to this salad is letting it sit for at least an hour before serving.  It tastes even better after a day or two of marinading in the fridge.

Below are the recipes.  Enjoy a noche caliente some time this week,  your taste buds will be glad that you did.

Shriracha Baked Chicken


3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise

2-4 Tbsp Shriracha

1/4 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

4 chicken breasts

2 cups Panko crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Clean and dry chicken breasts
  3. Mix first four ingredients together.  Coat each chicken breast completely with “wet” sauce
  4. Put Panko out on a plate.  Place chicken breasts one at a time on the plate.  Coat each breast completely with Panko then flip on the other side and coat.
  5. Place on a well-greased broiler pan and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until fully cooked.

Collard Greens


5-6 cups collard greens

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tbsp olive oil

5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Clean collard greens well and cut into bite-sized pieces.  An easy way to cut them uniformly is take a bunch of leaves and place them one on top of the other.  Roll them up lengthwise like a cigar (or a yoga mat) and slice 1/4 inch apart.  You will get uniform ribbons of greens.
  2. Heat a large and deep skillet (or two medium skillets) on medium heat.
  3. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil.  When hot add greens, garlic, salt and pepper.  Mix until all greens have been coated with olive oil.
  4. Add 1/4 cup broth/water and 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to skillet.  Put the lid on the skillet to steam for about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid, stir and let cook for another few minutes.  Add more liquid if you like and the other two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  You want the greens to be softened but not gummy

Cucumber Salad


2 cucumbers

1 Thai pepper

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar (depending on your preference, you might add more or less sugar)

4 peppercorns or 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

1-2 Tbsp soy sauce (optional)

1/2 Tbsp sesame oil (optional)


  1. Cut two cucumbers lengthwise.  With a spoon scoop out the seeds from the center of the cucumber.
  2. Slice cucumber halves in thin slices.  Place in a large bowl
  3. Cut one Thai pepper lengthwise and remove any seeds you do not wish to incorporate into the salad (I removed about half). Finely dice and place in large bowl.
  4. In a smaller bowl combine all the other ingredients, mix and taste.  This would be when you add other ingredients or alter the proportions of ingredients.
  5. Combine dressing/marinate and cucumber mixture.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

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