Spicy Chorizo Tacos

It’s officially that time of year again when summer is no longer a pipe dream. It feels just around the corner, and I’m already remembering little gems from last year, like these juicy tomatoes. Come onnnn.

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We’ve already got the wood planks set aside for a third raised bed, and I’m itching to get out and make it happen. Time to break out the summery recipes, sweep off the back porch, fill up that wine glass and enjoy.

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Tacos are good whatever the season, and despite the popularity of Taco Tuesday, I’ll eat them any day of the week. Especially with chorizo because, chorizo.

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What You Need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound of chorizo
  • 1 tbsp chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced into tiny bits
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup shredded havarti cheese
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 8-10 taco shells

IMG_2625What You Do:

Get two separate skillets and heat each over low-medium with a 1/2 tbsp of oil.

In one, cook the chorizo until browned and fully cooked.

In the other, cook the chili pepper, onion and garlic, covered, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Combine the chorizo and onion mixture, and combine well. Add the spices and stir to combine.

Heat your taco shells in the oven according to package directions.

Stuff tacos with chorizo filling and top with freshly chopped tomatoes, cheese and salsa.

Pro Tip: Put the cheese into the warm taco shell first so it melts underneath the other toppings. YUM.

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Zesty Honey-Lime Cauliflower Rice

Admittedly, I’m still on a not-so-silent crusade to get a cat.

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A large part of my job is to poke around the Internet for cat and dog videos, memes and stories, and occasionally I come across the right cat video to make me swoon. Then I promptly text Mike to once again ask if we can get a cat, at which time he promptly says absolutely not.

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I’m wearing him down slowly, I can feel it. Madison will be a whole other story, because she has no love for cats and thinks they’re all squirrels she can torture. That would certainly make for some good videos though.

#catsmakeeverythingbetter.

I may not have a cat, but I have this cauliflower rice dish, which is going to be just enough, for now.

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What You Need:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, florets and stems chopped off
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 scallions, whole

What You Do:

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Put the cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower becomes a rice-like texture.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, olive oil, minced garlic, scallions, lime juice, cilantro and pistachios, stirring well to fully combine.

Chill in the refrigerator or heat in an oven or microwave depending on your desired temperature for serving. I served mine warm with a piece of seasoned chicken.

Drizzle very lightly with the honey.

Top with the scallions for garnish, and a lime wedge on the side if desired! Delish!

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Squash Stuffed with Sausage and Wine-Soaked Onions

Mike and I installed a doggie door this summer for Madison.

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I think she has finally achieved her ultimate goal in life – to come and go as she pleases.

All I’m saying is that it was a little TOO easy to train her to use this door.

She’ll always come back in for food, though.

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What You Need:

  • One large summer squash (about 10′ long and fairly thick)
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 lb. hot Italian (or your favorite) sausage, sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 3 cups tomato sauce, either your favorite jar sauce, or homemade this way

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What You Do:

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Preheat oven to 325F

Halve the squash lengthwise from stem to end and scoop out the inside seeds so you’re left with a hollow “bowl”.

Place face-down on parchment paper and bake for about 40 minutes.

While the squash is baking, take a large skillet and partially caramelize the onions by cooking them with the water on medium heat, covered, for about 10 minutes or until they soften and become fragrant.

Add the green pepper, jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, garlic scape and wine, and continue to cook, covered, for about 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are soft and cooked through, the cherry tomatoes are puckered and split, and the wine has cooked off.

Remove from heat, drain and set aside in a large bowl.

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In a separate skillet, heat the coconut oil on low-medium heat, and add the sausage. Cook for about 15 minutes, turning the sausage periodically to prevent burning and to cook through each piece.

When the sausage is done, drain on a paper towel to absorb the grease, and add to the vegetable mixture, stirring thoroughly to combine.

Remove the squash from the oven and flip over so the scooped-out side is facing up.

Scoop the sausage filling into each squash liberally.

Place back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Cover each piece with tomato sauce and serve.

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Spicy Black Bean & Corn Salad with Pecans

I feel a lot of guilt when I don’t post here for awhile.

So let’s not talk about it.

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Instead, let’s focus on summer. The weather is warm. The sun is out. My garden is in full and bountiful bloom. I’ve also made the grand transition from winter squash-based recipes to summer squash-based recipes.

Things are happening, people.

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There is no squash in this recipe. Shocker! But there is deliciousness that tastes like summer! I don’t really ask for more than that.

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What You Need:

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  • 1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 cups corn kernals (I used bagged, frozen ones)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh feta cheese crumbles

What You Do:

Mix the beans through the salt in a large bowl, making sure to thoroughly combine so the lime juice and olive oil are well integrated.

Chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

Scoop into bowls and top with crumbled feta. I served mine with a hot Italian sausage. Delish.

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Coconut Curry Chicken with Basil Rice

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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What You Do:

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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.

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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!

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

My kitchen hasn’t been calling to me lately. It’s a weird feeling, and it’s a constant struggle to open the fridge and realize I’m going to be piecing together a lunch of crackers, cheese and tomato slices.

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Finally, I jumped on this cauliflower pizza crust bandwagon to end the home-cooked meal drought.

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It was tasty! And the gluten-free part is pretty awesome. It’s not every day you can shove multiple slices of pizza into your mouth and be eating mostly vegetables. Well, and cheese, but there’s nothing wrong with cheese.

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Needless to say, this pizza didn’t last long at all. I would highly recommend doubling this recipe if you’re feeding more humans than just yourself and/or if any of you have even an inkling of an appetite.

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What You Need:

  • One head cauliflower, florets chopped off
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

In a food processor, lightly “pulse” the cauliflower florets to create cauliflower “rice”. It’s best to add the florests one batch at a time to ensure they all get chopped up.

Now it’s time to cook the “rice.” In a medium saucepot, boil about 3 cups water and add the rice. Cover the pot, and let cook about 5 minutes.

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Drain thoroughly using a fine mesh strainer.

Transfer the drained cauliflower rice to a clean dish towel or several paper towels and pat well to dry.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, egg, cheese and spices and mix thoroughly, kneeding with your hands until it forms a dough.

Now it’s ready to be made into a crust!

Sprinkle cornmeal onto the surface of a pizza stone and lay the dough ball on top. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, still use cornmeal and see below for alternate baking times).

Smooth the dough ball out with your hands, flattening to make a crust about 1/4 of an inch thick.

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Bake for about 20 minutes if using a pizza stone, 30-40 if using a baking sheet.

Remove from oven and cover with your favorite toppings. I used sliced zucchini, minced garlic, jalapeno slices, tomato slices and cheddar cheese.

Then, bake for another 5 minutes for a pizza stone, or 10 minutes for a baking sheet.

Slice it up, and serve!

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Honey Lemon Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts

I’m on a not-so-silent crusade to get a cat.

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We have a dog – Madison, who is wonderful and fun. Also, she is super cute. BUT. I really want to get a cat.

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I used to have mixed feelings about cats, but part of my day job entails looking at cat photos online for hours at a time, so it’s kind of hard to resist falling in love with those funny little fluff balls.

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There’s only one small problem, which is that Mike absolutely refuses. He will not budge on this one, which gives me no choice but to quietly plot the adoption of a cat while he is at work, or in the shower or something. I figure once the cat is in our home, there’s nothing he can do. I get a cat, he gets yummy meals. It’s a win-win right?

What You Need:

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  • 1 lb. Brussels Sprouts, stems cut off and sliced into quarters
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

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Combine the Brussels Sprouts, red and green bell peppers and shallot in a large baking dish.

Pour water over the vegetables, cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until veggies are fully cooked.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, honey, thyme leaves, black pepper and olive oil and whisk until well mixed.

When vegetables are done cooking, pour into a large serving dish and mix thoroughly with cooked quinoa and cranberries.

Pour the lemon-honey sauce over the entire dish and mix well.

Top with crumbled feta and you’re good to go!

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Apple Cider and Dijon Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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

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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.

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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:

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  • 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.

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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. 

 

 

Maple Acorn Squash and Spinach Pizza

My best friend and I just took a weekend trip to New York City. Honestly, the food options in that place are more overwhelming than the crowds of people.

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I could spend 5 days there just trying different restaurants. Of course I would walk from one to the other to burn off some of the calories.

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We packed a lot into a day and a half. Empire State Building, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, riding Citi Bikes (aka flirting with certain death), a run through Central Park, meandering through Highline Park and dinner/drinks with friends and family. It was perfect.

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Probably the best thing I ate was the Crepe Suzette we ordered for dessert at Les Halles, the restaurant owned by Anthony Bordain. The chef made it right in front of us and it was delicious.

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This trip also taught me that I can’t afford to eat fancy NYC food all the time. So instead I made this pizza at home and pretended it was fancy city food.

Inspired by Smitten Kichen’s Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza.

What You Need:

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  • 1 small acorn squash, halved, seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil, divided
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pizza dough (I used a gluten-free pre-made dough)
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 cup raw spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large mixing bowl, toss the half moon slices of acorn squash with the half the oil, the red pepper flakes, maple syrup, salt and pepper until thoroughly and evenly coated.

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Lay the squash out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes or until soft and golden.

Roll out your dough using the other half of the oil to keep it from becoming sticky.

Sprinkle the cornmeal over a pizza stone or your baking sheet, and lay the dough out over the cornmeal.

Once the squash is cooked, gently peel off the skins.

Lay each half moon over the pizza.

Top with gorgonzola cheese, spinach and Parmesan, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crust edges are golden brown, cheese is melted and spinach is wilted (but not dry!)

Slice up and chow down!

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Italian Chickpea “Meatballs” with Herbed Tomato Sauce

IT’S MARCH MADNESS BABY!!!!

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I’ve gone completely off the deep end. Mike doesn’t even know how to handle my new-found love of all things basketball. But tell me there’s $100 at stake, and I take shit seriously.

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I joined the NCAA pool at work, and in my determined fervor to not lose, I spent (no joke) 3 hours cramming college basketball knowledge into my previously sports-neutral brain. I studied stats. I read player analysis and game predictions from various sports writers. I compared different brackets online and looked into why a team was chosen over another and whether it was the best choice.

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What this experience teaches us is that I am highly motivated by prize money. I won’t say how my bracket is doing, because I’ve also developed a bit of a serious superstition problem, but I will say I’m going through withdrawals at the moment since the games don’t continue until Thursday. Like I said, Mike is wondering who I am and what I’ve done with the real Jen.

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But really – she cooks AND she likes basketball? He’s not complaining.

What You Need:

  •  1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • IMG_135315 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium eggplant cut into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

Combine the tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic in a large dutch oven or baking dish and bake, covered, for about 45-60 minutes. It’s done when the veggies are soft and cooked through with their juices at the bottom of the dish.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, egg, all the spices and the cornmealand blend until well-combined. This is your “meat”ball dough.

Scoop the dough out of the food processor and form into small round balls. Set aside.

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Once the tomato and eggplant mixture is done baking, scoop out the veggies using a slotted spoon to separate them from the juices.

In the food processor, blend the tomato and eggplant mixture until it becomes a chunky sauce.

Pour the sauce into a slow cooker and add the chickpea balls.

Cook on low for 1-2 hours (I cooked for 2 hours and kept on warm for another hour while I was at work).

Serve over baked spaghetti squash and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

And I will say that some of the “meat”balls did break apart in the crock pot (just a bit) but all that happens is the tomato sauce turns into a delicious “meat”sauce. YUM.

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