Coconut Curry Chicken with Basil Rice

For an English/Journalism major, I have a staggering number of classics I still need to read.

IMG_2065

Right now, I’m fully engrossed in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a wonderfully compelling book with such rich, beautiful language it almost inspires me to try and write my own Spanish novel. Almost.

IMG_2063

Obviously it didn’t inspire my cooking, because this dish is clearly not Spanish, but regardless of that, if you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it. And if you have any suggestions for classics I need to read, please send them forth.

IMG_2060

What You Need:

  • 2 cups dry Jasmine rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or regular EVOO) divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 3 large chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons ground curry spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

IMG_2056

What You Do:

IMG_2061

In a medium sauce pot, bring the 3 cups water to a boil, add the 2 cups rice and the basil, cover, and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the water is gone. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil on medium until warm. Add minced garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds or until just softened.

Add onion and sautee, stirring continuously, until soft and translucent.

Add the spinach and coconut milk and turn heat to low. Cover and let steam to reduce spinach. The coconut milk will steam off and absorb so keep an eye on the dish to ensure it stays moist and doesn’t burn.

While the spinach is cooking, place chicken breasts in a large skillet with remaining tablespoon of oil and slowly cook on low-medium heat, turning sides every few minutes to cook thoroughly through.

IMG_2057

Once chicken is done, remove from pan and place on a cutting board. Slice the breasts into 1-inch pieces and place into skillet with spinach.

Add the rice to the chicken and spinach and stir well.

Add the curry spice, salt and pepper and stir well.

I served this with a hearty slice of garlic Naan bread (which is amazing). Enjoy!

IMG_2067

Apple Cider and Dijon Chicken Lettuce Wraps

One of the best things about a change in seasons is the shopping.

IMG_1592

Every store is offering a coupon or a discount, everything’s on sale and all the spring-y clothes look so fresh and glamorous on the rack. I want to own a top in every shade of pink in existence.

IMG_1580

I want all the animal-print flats, strappy sandals and flowing sundresses ever made. The way I see it, the next few months of warm weather is just a multitude of outfit options spread out before me. I love it. Some people in my household would argue I do not need these things, but I think we all know the truth.

What You Need:

IMG_1581

  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 4-6 boneless chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 head romain lettuce with large leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Rice (optional as a side)

What You Do:

Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat.

IMG_1584

Sprinkle the pepper over each side of the chicken and place the chicken in the pan.

Sear each side of the chicken, flipping after about a minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pour the apple cider and vegetable broth into the hot pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape the pan to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom. Simmer until thickened (about 5 minutes). Whisk in dijon mustard.

Add chicken back into the pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.

Peel off 4-6 lettuce leaves and rinse to clean. Lay open on plates.

Slice the cooked chicken into strips and place pieces on the lettuce wraps.

Top with cilantro and drizzle with the thickened cider sauce. Serve with rice and enjoy!

PS. A quick note to apologize for the running blog post I accidentally published to THIS blog last night. I’m in an ongoing battle with technology, where technology usually wins. I am starting a running blog, but it has nothing to do with food, so don’t be alarmed. 

 

 

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.

IMG_0951

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.

IMG_0947

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:

IMG_0943

  • 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:

IMG_0941

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.

IMG_0950

 

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.
Roasted Chix (13)
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.
Roasted Chix (12)
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.
Roasted Chix (5)
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.

Roasted Chix (6)

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.

Roasted Chix (16)

Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken

In New England, there’s a funny thing that happens to everyone when summer fades, the fall leaves all hit the ground and winter’s unmistakable bite is in the air.

Everyone gets upset.

“Ugh, it’s going to SNOW soon.”

“Not looking forward to snow, that’s for sure.”

“I can’t get used to this. What happened to summer?!?”

Well I’ll tell you what happened to summer. The seasons changed, just like they do every year, and now it’s winter.

It’s because of the general unhappiness about this well-known tradition in weather patterns that most people think I’m nuts for not regarding it with the same disdain.

But honestly all I can think about is winter cooking. It’s kind of like rediscovering your sweater collection after a summer of wearing dresses and shorts. It feels new and exciting and full of possibilities (I really like sweaters).

Squash Chicken (10)

Out comes the crock pot. Slow cooking delicious veggies and meats all day long is one of the absolute best things about winter. Especially after a long, cold day hiking or snowshoeing, it’s all I can think about.

This pulled chicken dish was inspired by my recent trip to Syracuse, NY for a race. While there, my running travel buddy Kate and I went to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which is well-known for its authentic BBQ – and for good reason. It was a truly amazing meal.

Squash Chicken (6)

I actually found Dinosaur BBQ bottled sauce at our local grocery store (that’s how famous it is), so even though it’s not pulled pork, this dish is still slathered in mouth-watering, lip-smackingly sweet and savory sauce that you’ll dream about when it’s gone.

What You Need:

  • One whole chicken. Size doesn’t matter too much, as long as it’ll fit in your crock pot
  • 1 yellow onion (or half a yellow and half a red, like I did)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 jar of your favorite BBQ sauce – look for Dinosaur BBQ!

What You Do:

Slice the onion and lay the slices on the bottom of the crock pot, creating a bed on which the chicken will lie. This helps insulate the heat and keep the chicken from over cooking in one area over another.

So I skinned the chicken (messy business) and trimmed off some of the fat before I put it in the crock pot. If you like the skin, that’s up to you. It’ll save some time to leave it on, for sure. Just make sure to empty the insides. If you’ve ever made a Thanksgiving turkey, it’s the same deal.

Squash Chicken (1)                    Squash Chicken (2)

Place the whole chicken over the bed of onions. Pour the vegetable broth over the whole thing, and then sprinkle with pepper.

Place the lid on there and set on high for 4 hours, or low for 6.

A good way to test if the chicken is “pulled chicken-ready” is to try pulling off a leg or something. If it pulls right off the bone, you’re good to go.

Using two large wooden spoons, lift the chicken out of the crock pot and place on a large cutting board. VERY CAREFULLY pull the meat apart, separating it into a large bowl. Pull out any and all bones you find. Some will be big and obvious, but there are a multitude of smaller, more hidden bones and/or hard cartilage parts that will make a giant mouthful of pulled chicken sandwich suddenly more of an ordeal than it should be.

Squash Chicken (3)

Once you have separated the meat from the bones and pulled out all the bones you can find, use a fork to break it up further. I then used my hand to sift through the pulled chicken to double-check all the bones and hard part had been removed. This is a critical step so be extra careful.

Then, add your BBQ sauce! Be liberal and mix it around well with your fork.

Serve on two pieces of toasted bread and, of course, add more BBQ sauce if the mood strikes you!

 

Pro-Tip: Don’t mash too hard with the fork. Pulled chicken is pulled chicken, not chicken salad! 🙂

Squash Chicken (13)

Jasmine Rice and Cooked Vegetables = Super Fast Lunch Recipe

I made this dish during my lunch break when I was supposed to be walking Madison. So it teaches us two things:

  1. It is a super fast and easy dish
  2. I chose food over my dog this week

(To be fair, she did get to sit outside the entire time and never fear – I did walk her after work).

chutney (2)

I made the decision to turn my lunch break in a small cooking adventure because when I opened the fridge to forage for scraps in my frantic state of mid-work-day hunger, I found myself face to face with this:

chutney4

I do not know what it is about this mango chutney from our local Hannaford supermarket that I love so much, but I do love it. It’s sweet and fruity with a little spice, and goes so perfectly with rice that sometimes I forget there is more to a meal than rice and a heaping dollop of chutney.

So, between 12:15 and 1pm I made this super simple dish using Jasmine Rice (my personal fav type of rice) as the base and then literally any veggie that happened to be available in my fridge.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup Jasmine Rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • A bunch of random vegetables, chopped (this is completely at your discretion – anything goes! I used sweet potato that I put through the food processor, onions, red and green bell peppers and one jalapeno for some zing)
  • Any kind of chutney (although as you know I highly recommend mango)

What You Do:

Chop the veggies, and heat, covered, in an oiled pan slowly over low-medium heat.

While the veggies are cooking, make the rice. If you are not using Jasmine rice, follow the directions for whatever rice you’re using. If you choose Jasmine rice, boil the water and rice together, then lower the temperature to simmer, covered, until the water has cooked off.

Plop the rice on a plate, and cover with a heaping portion of veggies. Add some chutney on the side for dipping (also your choice – any sauce or spices will also suffice) and enjoy!

chutney (3)

Pro Tip: Add a protein like tofu or chicken to make it a complete dish!