Chicken, Broccoli and Quinoa Bake

There’s something incredibly satisfying about effectively using all of the vegetables in my fridge, their fate otherwise sealed inside my crisper drawer.

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I feel like a good Samaritan almost – freeing the plastic-bag-strangled vegetables from dark corners under less time-sensitive items like onions and unripe avocados. They’re getting their moment to shine, finally, in a dish worthy of their waiting.

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Now I know my vegetables don’t have feelings. But I do feel responsible for their happiness and I want them to have a full and meaningful life. And that of course means rescuing them from the cavernous black hole my refrigerator can become if I don’t watch it closely.

What You Need:

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  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked according to package directions and set aside (I used Trader Joes Tri-Color Quinoa, which looks super pretty!)
  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, halved with stems cut off
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts, washed and diced into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) cheddar cheese

What You Do:

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Preheat oven to 400F

In a medium saucepan coated with olive oil, add chicken and cover, heating until soft and cooked through. Set aside.

In the same pan, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant.

Add milk, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and stir well, bringing to a simmer. Remove from heat.

In a large baking dish with a cover, add broccoli, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, chicken and scallion/milk/cheese mix and stir well.

Ladle the vegetable broth over the veggies, cover and bake for 15 minutes or until the bake is bubbly and soft.

Top with cheddar cheese and serve! I hope you find this as enjoyable as I did.

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Buttermilk Red Pepper Tomato Soup

It’s football season. I’m not super into watching sports on TV. I like playing sports, but there’s a fine glaze that forms over my eyes whenever Mike switches the channel to a game of any kind. I’m still trying to figure out why there is Sunday night football, Monday night football AND Thursday night football. It feels like it’s always on. (Sorry football fans).

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But – BONUS! If I don’t care about what’s on TV, that leaves me plenty of time to cook. And that’s something I’m totally fine with. On a separate note, does the buttermilk face I made in my soup look slightly demonic to anyone else?

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What You Need:

  • 15 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large red peppers, seeded and sliced into rough strips
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sliced chives
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large baking dish, place the halved tomatoes, onions, red peppers and garlic, alternating layers to ensure they’re all combined.

Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are puckered with split skin, surrounded by juices.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the solid veggies and place in a food processor.

Blend the roasted veggies until smooth, and pour into a large bowl.

Add the spices and buttermilk and stir well. Reheat if necessary but it should be hot enough to serve.

Pro Tip: Dip a grilled cheese in it. Is this even a pro tip? Tomato soup and grilled cheese go together like chocolate and milk.

My other pro-tip is to save the leftover baked veggie juices, pour into a Tupperware and freeze. It’s vegetable broth for your next recipe. BOOM!

Lemony Shredded Raw Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts so much. Just so much. They’re probably the most delicious vegetable out there. I had previously sung their praises in the midst of my Thanksgiving cooking frenzy when I coated them with white wine and honey (right?!?) but this dish is similarly delish and doesn’t require actually cooking the Brussels sprouts, so that’s a win now that we’re off vacation and back at work (read: less time, bigger appetites).

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It’s so easy and works as a light and healthy side dish to almost any meal.

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What You Need: 

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, with stems chopped off, and halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or lemon juice from the convenient lemon juice container you can buy in the produce aisle…)
  • About 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

What You Do:

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Place the Brussels sprouts in a food processor and pulse gently until they are roughly chopped, similar to cabbage in cole slaw.

Place chopped up Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and add oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stirring well to mix

Now it’s ready to serve! Enjoy alongside basically any main dish.

Pro Tip: As seen on the right, this light and lemony dish is especially great served alongside any white fish – like haddock, for instance! Need inspiration? Get my recipe for haddock baked in spicy Cajun tomato sauce here.

Haddock Baked in Spicy Cajun Tomato Sauce

I think we all kind of feel the same right now. It’s that post-holiday food coma and seemingly perpetual exhaustion from too many glorious days off that makes it feel almost impossible to get back on track, go back to work and get motivated to put down the holiday cookies and champagne and pick up a salad.

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One thing that helps me is cooking up a big batch of something super light and super healthy so I can enjoy it for dinner and then take the leftovers for lunch. Having a set lunch plan helps me avoid unnecessary mid-day splurges at the bakery and sandwich shop located RIGHT BELOW MY OFFICE. They sell bagels and sandwiches and cookies and coffee. Oh, so an entire day’s worth of food less than 50 feet from my desk? Awesome. A day without a pre-meditated food plan basically means sacrificing my diet to this restaurant.

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So, to avoid taking the easy route in the new year, I wanted to start things off with just the right dish to last a couple days. I prepared it while Mike was at work so he would have something yummy to come home to, so with his seal of approval under my belt, I present you with this delicious Haddock dish.

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What You Need: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and discarded if desired for less heat
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 3 cups tomatoes, diced, with juices (canned diced tomatoes also work for this)
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
    • 1 lb Haddock or other white fish such as flounder or tilapia

What You Do:

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In a large, deep skillet with olive oil heated on medium, cook the onion and garlic until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the peppers and white wine, cooking until just soft.

Add the tomatoes and Cajun spice and combine well.

Place the haddock in the skillet with the tomato sauce, cover and let simmer for 5-8 minutes or until fish is fully cooked and flakes easily.

Then it’s ready to serve! Check out the whole plate – I also made raw shredded lemon Brussels sprouts that made one heck of a side dish. Stay tuned for that recipe later this week!

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Pro Tip: This dish makes excellent leftovers, but be sure to eat it within 5 days 🙂

 

Winter Warmer Turkey Soup

I feel like this entire holiday season has been filled with turkey. After roasting and frying two free work turkeys, the leftovers were staggering despite inviting several friends over to share in the spread.

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Our dog is still enjoying the fried turkey, the oil from which apparently remains in trace quantities in our backyard. And if anyone is going to track down a small drop of fried turkey oil, it’s Madison.

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We were left with so much food that the obvious solution is throwing it into a giant soup. I can’t take credit for this dish though. Mike has a knack for randomly deciding to make dinner and busting out an amazing recipe. This soup he made on a chilly day last week is definitely blog-worthy, although he wasn’t used to having to keep track of every shake of the spice bottle.

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Soups have the advantage of being filling and giving you tons of leftovers, which was great in the midst of the holidays when I felt like the last thing I had time for was cooking.

Whether you have leftovers or not, this dish is doable with any combination of ingredients, and with our without meat.

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What You Need: 

  • 2.5 quarts vegetable broth (you can make your own by boiling veggies in water and draining out the broth)
  • 3 carrots, sliced into disks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, leaves pulled from stems and chopped
  • 2 large yams, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1.5 cups roasted turkey, hand-pulled into small pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

What You Do:

In a large skillet heated on medium with oil, add carrots and celery and cover, cooking until just softened.

Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is soft and translucent.

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In a large soup pot, bring broth to a boil and add the yams, cooking for about 5 minutes.

Turn the soup pot heat down to a simmer and add the carrots, celery, onion and mustard greens to the pot.

Stir and continue heating for about 10 minutes or until all veggies are soft and mustard greens are limp and reduced.

Serve with bread of choice for dipping – we used pretzel bread rolls from our local food store. Delish!

Pro Tip: As I said, you can add anything to this dish that you have lying around. It would be great with other greens like bok choy, spinach or kale, and other veggies like sweet potatoes or turnips.

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Cauliflower Cous Cous and Vegetables

Lightly adapted from the Nutritionista

I love making one food out of another, healthier food. Like making pasta out of vegetables, a pie crust out of quinoa or cous cous out of cauliflower.

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I actually hardly ever cook using cous cous. I’d rather use quinoa since it’s gluten free and healthier, but there is definitely something about the texture of cous cous that makes it pretty ideal for meals. That’s why I was thrilled to discover a cous cous recipe that didn’t call for cous cous at all. You can easily use cauliflower instead for an all-vegetarian and gluten free dish that is just. so. good.

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What You Need:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

What You Do:

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Gently pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles a cous cous-like texture. If you don’t have a food processor, just finely chop the cauliflower with a sharp knife until it becomes very small pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and serve!

This makes a great side dish, and while it screams summer BBQ, it really works just fine any time of year with your favorite meat, as a filling for stuffed peppers (stay tuned for that recipe), or just mixed in with a salad. The lemon juice and oil make a nice dressing so you don’t have to add the extra calories. Put some avocado in with it and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal!

Pro Tip: This is a great dish to play with as far as adding your favorite herbs. Add freshly chopped basil, oregano, mint or cilantro or even chopped walnuts or dates to give it some different flavor and texture!

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Spicy Jerk Chicken Corn Tortilla Tacos

Jerk chicken is such a summertime food. It reminds me of being in Jamaica (almost a year ago now – crazy!) and the spicy bite of the seasoning is unlike any other.

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The weather in New Hampshire right now is a far cry from Jamaica – it’s cold, mostly icy because for some reason it keeps raining instead of snowing, and windy. So windy. I went on a chilly trail run with my two favorite partners in adventure, and while it was snowy and gorgeous and not actually too cold, I was ready for something warm and filling when I got home and settled in for the night.

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This recipe is 100% gluten free and makes a LOT of tortilla tacos. And even if the freezing rain and wind are whipping around outside the window, you might feel a tiny bit of Jamaican warmth if you focus really, really hard. If not, you at least will have eaten a filling and healthy dinner so, there’s that 🙂

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What You Need

  • Either 4 cooked chicken thighs or 1 whole crock pot chicken, (without the BBQ sauce) pulled with bones removed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 4oz can diced green chilies, drained as much as possible
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Splash of your favorite rum
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions, for garnish
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced for garnish
  • Plain Greek yogurt, for topping
  • Salsa of your choice for topping
  • 1 package of Mission gluten free corn tortillas (or corn tortillas of your choice)

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What You Do:

If you cooked chicken thighs, cut them into strips and dice with a sharp knife until it’s shredded, like the consistency of chicken salad. If you followed the recipe for crock pot pulled chicken, you’re ready to go with slow-cooked pulled chicken right off the bone.

Set the chicken aside in a large bowl.

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Make the jerk rub by loading all remaining ingredients (diced onion through splash of rum) into a food processor and blending well. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of rub once blended.

Mix with chicken.

In an ungreased skillet over low-medium heat, place one corn tortilla for just 10 seconds or so. Then flip and repeat on the other side.

Each side of the tortilla should be just slightly toasted.

Place a generous spoonful of jerk chicken on each tortilla, topping with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, 2 avocado slices and a sprinkling of green onions.

Pro Tip: While the tortillas are very tasty, the rub can be used just on whole chicken to save you some time. Spread on your raw chicken before baking for a deliciously seasoned dish.

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Coconut Vegetable Curry

We had a little bit of a water disaster at our house the other night. Two windowsills that need replacing decided they just couldn’t hold on anymore, and they made that decision during one of the longest and most torrential rainstorms the Seacoast has seen in a while.

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It turns out water had been dripping through the walls and into our basement all day, but Mike heroically made this discovery in the middle of my dinner prep/first glass of hard cider.

Needless to say, my goal of enjoying warm curry and rice in front of the fire while binging on nightime television was not realized. Instead, I held sheets of plastic through the open windows while Mike stood outside, bundled in rain gear, staple-gunning the plastic to our house with frozen fingers. Winter is fun.

So the photos for this dish aren’t great, and I let the whole pan burn at one point because I simply forgot I was cooking. But as long as you don’t discover a hole in your house during a rainstorm while you’re making this dish, you’ll be fine. And it still came out great for us, even if we wolfed it down at the table with zero regard to the actual taste. I’m looking forward to rediscovering it with the leftovers already.

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Also barring any major extraneous complications, this is a really easy dish to make. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s mostly just spices.

What You Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium sweet, yellow or red onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5oz)
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly chopped sage
  • 2 tbsp curry powder

What You Do:

Cook the rice according to package directions and set aside, keeping warm.

While rice is cooking, heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

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When oil is hot, add sliced onions and stir, sauteing for about 2 minutes or until they become soft and translucent.

Add the garlic, carrots and white wine, and cover, simmering until wine is evaporated.

Add the peppers and green onions and vegetable broth, mixing until well combined and cover, simmering, until vegetable broth has evaporated.

Add the coconut milk. Stir well for about a minute.

Add all spices and stir until well combined.

Serve the vegetable curry over a bed of warm Basmati rice.

Pro Tip: Don’t walk away from the dish while it’s simmering in white wine and/or vegetable broth for more than a couple minutes. It’s not afraid to burn.

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Easy Herbed Roasted Whole Chicken

I know, it wasn’t too long ago that most of us gorged ourselves on turkey. But I was perusing this lovely farm store near my house and came across the most fantastic meat counter ever. I’m talking all local, grass-fed meats, at shockingly reasonable prices.
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Because of the recent success of our BBQ pulled chicken dinner, I couldn’t resist picking up a whole chicken to cook in a different way. I also learned something really important about roasting meat. Since I’m apparently super lame and don’t own a roasting pan, I had to come up with a quick alternative way to cook it without lighting my oven on fire or ruining the entire chicken.
The trick is to cook the chicken over a bed of sliced onions and potatoes. Doing so gives it a nice lift off the bottom of the pan, plus you get to enjoy a delicious chicken-infused side dish with dinner.
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The best thing about roasting a whole chicken is how much food you get out of it that will last for days. Kind of like…the turkey from Thanksgiving. But let’s not focus on that.
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What You Need: 
  • 1 whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds)
  • 4  medium red or yellow potatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 bay leaves

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 450F

In a large oven-safe pot (preferably round with high sides), line the bottom with the potatoes and onions.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil through lemon juice and mix well.

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Generously slather the olive oil rub over the entire chicken, making sure to spread it over the bottom as well. I also lifted up the skin in places and applied the rub underneath and directly on the chicken meat. This will really infuse the flavor of the rub during the roasting process.

Place the chicken bottom-side-down in the pot.

Place the bay leaves on the potatoes and onions around the chicken.

Cook the chicken covered on 450F for about 10-15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350F and cook the chicken for about 20 minutes per pound. If you aren’t sure exactly how heavy your chicken is, roast it for 30 minutes and then check the temperature with a meat thermometer – your chicken is ready when it reads 180F. (Since all ovens vary, you should always check the temp even if you do know the weight just to be sure it’s done).

Pro Tip: You can make a rub for this chicken out of some various ingredients depending on what you like. Substitute the rosemary for fresh chopped sage or thyme, and use 2 tablespoons of melted butter instead of the olive oil.

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Tofu Honey Chili with Gluten Free Jalapeno Cornbread

So back in the day when I was a budding foodie, I had a food blog on Blogger called Two Peas in a Pot. I was pretty excited about it and posted quite a few recipes. Then I stopped keeping up with it as life got busier, and I let it fall into the great Internet abyss.

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However, I uncovered it recently thanks to Facebook alerting me to the fact that I hadn’t posted in awhile (5 years – thanks Facebook). Having advanced somewhat in the food blogging world at this point in my life, I got a good laugh about the amateurish quality of the food photos I had been posting with my recipes. The whole blog left a lot to be desired, but we all have to start somewhere, right? And the recipes themselves aren’t bad. This honey chili and cornbread is an adaptation of a recipe I had posted on my old blog. However, for comparison’s sake, here’s the photo of this dish that I originally took:

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Appetizing, right? It’s nice that my hand is in the shot, and I’m also pretty sure I had already taken a bite out of that cornbread before snapping this photo. Mike definitely chuckled when I showed him – thank goodness I’ve improved my food photography at least marginally since my old blogging days.

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But like I said, the recipes aren’t bad. As soon as I came across the honey chili and jalapeno cornbread, I wanted to make it again and see what I could do with it. And honey chili 2.0 has come out fabulously. I love making dinners like this because of the leftovers and because they’re basically just super easy but pack a healthy and filling punch. Plus, this entire meal is 100% gluten free. Even the cornbread. (Honestly for something made primarily of corn you would think it would always be gluten free, but it’s not).

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What You Need for the Chili:

  • 1-14oz package firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 oz can diced tomatoes (or chop 1 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes)
  • 12 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese

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What You Need for the Cornbread (adapted from GlutenFreeOnAShoestring):

  • 2 cups coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt*
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 jalapenos, finely chopped (seeded if desired)

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

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Before doing anything, shred the tofu into a strainer using a cheese grater. This will help remove excess water from the tofu and you can set it aside to drain while you cook.

Make the cornbread first, as you can make the rest of the dish while it bakes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornmeal through baking powder.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients, including jalapenos.

Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix well. The batter will be fairly fluffy in texture.

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Scrape batter into a well-greased 8-or-9-inch baking pan. I used a round cake pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. The top of the cornbread will be a lovely golden brown and the bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While the cornbread is baking, heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and saute until soft.

Add the tomatoes and beans and mix well, stirring occasionally until well heated. Then add the spices, honey and vinegar and mix well.

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Finally, add in the shredded tofu and mix well. The cool thing about this dish is that the shredded tofu adds a hearty meat-like look and feel while keeping it 100% vegetarian.

Serve with a slice of cornbread and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.

*Pro Tip: Don’t have plain Greek yogurt on hand for the cornbread? Substitute with an equal amount of sour cream or buttermilk.

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