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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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. 

 

 

Acorn Squash and Brussels Sprouts Casserole

I’m a sucker for advertising.

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It’s funny to me because I work in marketing, so I’m not a stranger to the ways in which brands sell to consumers. But I’m still a sucker. Banana Republic, in particular, has really tapped into the best way to get me into their store. Just send me an email that says, “Hey, you haven’t been here in awhile and we miss you! Come back!”

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Well, ok! I’d love to! And suddenly I’m scrapping my plans for an afternoon run (wholesome, healthy, FREE) and driving to the store. They miss me! I have to go!

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Everyone wins though, because I’ll stop off at the grocery store too, and get food for our dinner. Along with something I saw a commercial for that I now most definitely need to have.

What You Need:

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  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, stems chopped off and sliced into quarters
  • 1 acorn squash, halved with seeds removed
  • 1 cup dry wild rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 375F

Place the acorn squash halves face down on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until the skins begin to brown and pucker.

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Simultaneously, cook the wild rice according to package directions. It usually takes about 45 minutes so it’s good to start it early so it can cook while you prepare the rest of the meal.

While the squash and rice cook, place the Brussels sprouts, walnuts and cranberries in a large dutch oven or casserole dish, mixing well.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (mustard through crushed red pepper) and set aside.

When the squash is done, gently remove the skins by peeling them off (you may find it easier to flip the squash right side up and scoop out the flesh).

Fold the squash into the Brussels sprouts mixture.

Pour the mustard sauce over the entire dish and bake, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are soft. Some may have leaves that dry out or slightly blacken – this just means they’re done.

Serve over the rice and enjoy!

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Mexican Potato Tacos

Even for New England, this winter was pretty terrible. But the tides are turning, as they say.

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We can all feel it – it’s the feeling that leads you to believe wearing flats to work instead of boots is a great idea, until you go out for lunch and realize you’re severely under-dressed because – duh – it’s still winter and 21 degrees actually isn’t that warm after all…it’s just warmer than 10.

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The feeling of spring around the corner also comes from a renewed interest in my favorite activity – running. Suddenly, races are back on the table. Training has begun. I am starting to think of the weekends as good days for long runs instead of a good opportunity to catch up on my favorite TV shows.

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And of course with a renewed interest in running comes a renewed interest in my diet. Pulling myself out of hibernation and the excess of Popchips, cookies, wine and beer that kept me warm all winter is quite liberating. And it starts with these potato corn tacos, inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Emerging Adult Eats.

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What You Need:

  • 1 lb (about 2 cups) fingerling potatoes, quartered
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into quarter-inch long strips
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and sliced into quarter-inch long strips
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 small can chopped green chilies
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • Corn tortillas (I used Mission)
  • Your favorite salsa (I used Newman’s Own hot salsa)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced into strips

What You Do:

In a large pot filled with boiling water, boil the potatoes uncovered for about 20 minutes or until a fork easily pokes through. Run one or two under cold water and taste-test to be sure they’re done.

Drain potatoes and set aside.

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While the potatoes are cooking: In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium. Add the onions and saute, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until they begin to get soft.

Add the peppers and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until soft.

Add the red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika and green chilies and combine.

Remove from heat.

Combine the potatoes and pepper/spice mixture. Stir well.

Lightly toast the corn tortillas in a non-greased, nonstick frying pan over low heat. They only take a few seconds on each side to toast, and the tortilla will begin to wrinkle and smoke when it gets too hot.

Lay out each tortilla and top generously with the potato filling. Garnish with a drop of salsa, some shredded cabbage and the avocado, and they’re ready to eat!

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Heavenly Slow Cooker Meals: Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash

Once again, I will repeat: I love the snow.

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There are a few basic, undeniable truths about New England life between November and April.

1. It gets cold.

2. It will probably snow.

3. It will probably snow more than once. And be really windy.

4. It will stay this way for so long, you’ll begin to forget four seasons exist.

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People get really annoyed about the snow and how long this whole season drags on for. Give me a snow day, a glass of wine and a good meal, and I’m good to go. I’m pretty sure winter in New England is why crock pots were invented.  After a long day of shoveling, maneuvering cars that were not built for blizzard conditions through snow banks, and uncomfortably trying to get work done on my slow home computer, nothing beats wandering into the kitchen and discovering that dinner is just…ready. Just like that.

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What You Need: 

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  • 4 cups cubes butternut squash
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and diced (substitute potatoes here if desired)
  • 1 can chickpeas (15.5 oz)
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp oriental seasoning OR 1 tsp each of onion and garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cups shredded swiss chard (leaves only – remove from stems)

What You Do:

In your crock pot bowl, add the squash through vegetable broth and cook on high for 4 hours.

Once the time is up, keep warm and add the coconut milk, stirring well to combine.

Add swiss chard leaves, stirring well until the leaves become limp and reduced.

Now it’s ready to serve!

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Heavenly Crock Pot Meals: Vegetable Stew with Chickpeas

Thank you Parenthood. Thank you The Newsroom. Twice in one night I found myself bursting into tears because your stories are so damn compelling.

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I am talking total waterworks. I’ve been known to fold during iPhone commercials and especially poignant endings to novels, but it was a double-whammy this time around. As I sat alone at home with a glass of wine watching my shows On Demand, these people’s fictional lives really rocked my world. I hate series finales. Worst. Idea. Ever.

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So maybe I made myself feel better by stuffing my face with slow-cooked comfort food. Maybe.

What You Need:

  • 3 large tomatoes, diced into cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved, with stems cut off
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

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What You Do:

Easy. Dump everything into a crock pot and turn it on. Cook on high for 6 hours.

Pro Tip: Make ahead and freeze for a fully prepared meal at any time. This serves 4.

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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Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Mike keeps yelling “Serenity Now!” at home, which is something George Costanza’s father would say on Seinfeld when he was looking for some peace and order in his life. IMG_0977I do believe when Mr. Costanza said it, he was referencing his wife and George, who were probably bothering him, so I’d like to say for the record that Mike saying it has nothing to do with me (obviously). But it’s a pretty apropos expression for our lives right now. Somehow with the onset of 2015, life got crazy. Get up too early, go to bed too late, squeeze in a workout routine or two, try to maintain a social life. IMG_0968 Kind of makes you want to just throw the covers over your head and yell, “Serenity Now!” I think Mike might be on to something. In the meantime, I made us these no-bake peanut butter energy balls to help us get motivated for those workouts. Or really just the day… IMG_0975 What You Need: 

  • 1 1/4 gluten free steel cut oats (or regular oatmeal)
  • 3 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp whole flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter

What You Do: In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and combine well – get into it with your hands or use a wooden spoon. When a thick and solid batter has formed, roll about a tablespoon of the mix into a ball and set aside in another bowl. These will be great left in the fridge for about a week. After that, move leftovers into the freezer where they’ll keep forever? and they don’t freeze solid so they’re still great for grab-n-go. Makes about 35 energy balls. And since these are for energy, I feel required to provide a calorie count: about 200 for 3 balls. IMG_0976 Pro Tip: Add or replace ingredients in these energy balls, like hemp seeds, different types of nuts, and different dried fruits (think raisins, cranberries, pomegranates?!?) Go crazy.

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 🙂