Potato and Cauliflower Latkes

We are a family that celebrates both Christmas and Chanukah, so since they overlapped this year we decided at the last minute to add potato latkes to our dinner on Christmas Day. As this was not planned we used what we had on hand, which was two potatoes and a head of cauliflower, but only a small amount of onion. Since the latkes surprisingly tasted really good I decided to jot down the recipe and post it. I didn’t carefully measure this, just worked ad hoc, so the measurements are approximate. Give it a try and post comments if you like on how it can improve. Definitely a work-in-progress.

Potato and Cauliflower Latkes

  • Servings: 12 latkes or more
  • Difficulty: medium
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Slight twist on the traditional potato latke.

Ingredients

  • 2 large baking potatoes, washed thoroughly and eyes removed. I leave the peel on.
  • 1/4 head cauliflower, finely chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup matzoh meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • mix of olive oil and canola oil

Procedure

  1. Shred the potato, chop the vegetables.
  2. Mix the shredded potato, cauliflower, onion, and matzoh meal in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the eggs, dill, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the egg mixture into the potato mixture and stir well.
  4. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add a small amount of the oils to the pan. Heat the oil and form the pancakes with your hands into balls the size of your palm and gently flatten in the pan with a spatula.
  5. Cook several minutes in the pan until crispy and slightly browned on each side. Put cooked latkes on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb extra oil. You can also keep them warm in an oven turned very low if desired.
  6.  Serve with applesauce or your favorite topping and enjoy!

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December 31, 2016

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Mixing the cauliflower, onion and potato
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Forming the latkes
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In the fry pan
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Starting to crisp.
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Finished Latkes!

 

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Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Well it is nearing the end of the hectic holidays and I have not had much time to post recipes. My daughter and I made this over a week ago in the mountains, and it was very delicious and warming so I am posting it today as I finally have a few free minutes! The recipe is pretty much following the original except that I have reduced the amount of chicken and added a lot more vegetables.

Chicken and Vegetable Curry

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Very good and fairly simple chicken and vegetable curry based on a recipe by Craig Claiborne in the New York Times Cooking.

Ingredients

  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut in serving-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons curry powder (NOTE: If using Indian-style curry powder you may want to reduce the quantity as it is generally stronger in flavor than Malaysian curry powder.)
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, sliced in large chunks
  • 3 cardamom pods with husks
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 broken piece of star anise
  • 1  2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of light coconut milk
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced in bite-sized chunks
  • 1/2 pound mixed baby potatoes sliced in half

Procedure

  1. Cut the chicken and vegetables.
  2. Put the chopped shallots, half of the garlic, ginger, curry powder and 1/3 cup of water in a blender and blend thoroughly. Set the curry paste aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a large and deep skillet or sauté pan. Add the sliced onions, remaining garlic, cardamom, cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until shallots and garlic become soft. Add the reserved curry paste and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly. Add the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water and stir.
  4. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and stir until well coated. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2/3 cup of water, cauliflower, carrots and potatoes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are cooked and tender.
  6.  Serve over rice (I made a simple wild rice blend in the rice cooker). Enjoy!

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December 30, 2016

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Tamale Cooking Project

We were in the mountains and were looking for something to do instead of skiing so we decided to make tamales and gingerbread cookies. Oh my, this was a bit too much to take on in one day, but we did it and dirtied every dish in the house in the process! My daughter made the gingerbread cookies, so I will try to get the recipe from her and share that later. Together we made the tamales. We decided we would try to please everyone, so we made four different fillings: Vegetables and black beans, Braised chicken with cheese, Braised chicken without cheese, and Beef and cheese (we had leftover beef from tacos the night before). This is only the second time that we have made tamales, the first being some years ago, so we are not very experienced at this but I decided to post it so I can share it with others and give people the courage to try this, and so I can re-visit the recipe in the future in order to make it again and improve the recipe over time. The recipe may be a little vague as I winged a lot of it. I think I would not braise the chicken if I made this again, instead I would bake it or sauté it in a fry pan with the vegetables. I think that would add a lot of flavor. The ground beef I used for a few Aidan-friendly tamales was leftover from last night’s ground beef taco dinner, so that was the easy part.

 

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Some of the tamales before cooking them

Chicken and Vegetable Tamales

  • Servings: made about 20 tamales
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

Healthy Chicken and Vegetable Tamales and Vegetarian Tamales for a fun afternoon cooking project.

Tamale dough recipe from  Mexico in My Kitchen

Ingredients

Tamale Dough (makes 16-20 tamales)

  • 2 1/2 cups of masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cup of warm low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Vegetable Filling (for about 6 tamales)

  • 1 cup of sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 2 large mushrooms, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of refried black beans

Chicken and vegetable Filling (for about 12 tamales)

  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 large mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Poblano peppers
  • 2 Anaheim peppers
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (may be better with jack cheese?)
    • Note: may need more cheese if you are putting it in all of your tamales, we just put it in half of them.

Corn Husks – have at least 24 on hand as some may be small or torn

Tomatillo Sauce – this is very approximate

  • 1 pound of tomatillos, quartered
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Soak the corn husks in hot water for at least 30 minutes and then drain.
  2. Chicken and vegetable filling:
    1. In a medium sized pot add the chicken breast meat and the next 11 ingredients (through bay leaves). Bring to a boil and then partially cover and simmer 30 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
    2. While the chicken and vegetables are cooking, broil the Anaheim and Poblano peppers until the skin is blackened. Turn so all sides are blackened then let cool in a paper bag or foil. When cool peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Chop roughly.
    3. Let the chicken cool slightly in the liquid.
    4. Remove the chicken and vegetables, shred the chicken and mix with the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the broiled peppers and shredded cheese if using. Set aside.
    5. Drain the remaining broth through cheese cloth and reserve the broth for another use or use it in your dough recipe.
    6. NOTE:  I think this was pretty good, but next time for more flavor I would try sautéing all the vegetables together and then separating out 3/4 of the vegetables for the vegetarian filling and using 1/4 of them with the chicken. I would probably just bake the chicken and then dice it up.
  3. Vegetable filling:
    1. Heat a large pan on medium-high heat. Add a small amount of olive oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, jalapeño, spices and salt and pepper and sauté for 8 minutes or until softened. Add spinach and cook for 2 more minutes.
    2. Put the cooked vegetables in a bowl and stir in the black beans (and cheese if using) and then set aside.
  4. Tomatillo Sauce:
    1. Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
    2. Pour cooked ingredients into a blender and blend until sauce is slightly chunky but thoroughly mixed. Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
  5. Dough:
    1. In a large bowl mix the masa harina, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
    2. Add the canola oil and mix with a spoon or spatula.
    3. Add the warm chicken broth and continue to mix. You may need to add a few tablespoons more of the broth to get the right consistency. You want the dough to be creamy like soft ice cream. Set aside.
  6. Assembling the tamales and cooking them:
    1. Using your pre-soaked but dry corn husks, lay one husk out with the pointy end pointing at you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the dough in the top middle of the husk forming a large oval.
    2. Add about 2 tablespoons of your filling on top of the dough, leaving some margin of plain dough on the perimeter.
    3. Fold one side of the husk to the center, fold the other side to the center overlapping the husk, then fold the bottom pointy end towards the center. Place on a plate while you assemble the rest.
    4. NOTE:  We kept the different types of tamales on different plates and then put different food coloring dots on them to color code them so after steaming we knew what each one had in it.
    5. After filling all of the tamales, prepare your steamer. Fill your pot to just under the steamer insert and heat to boiling. Put all of your tamales in the steamer standing up, with the closed side pointing down and the open side pointing up. Put a layer of extra corn husks on top and cover tightly with a lid. Cook on medium heat for 75 minutes, checking periodically to add water if needed (you don’t want the pot to run dry).
    6. To make sure your tamales are finished cooking you should be able to easily remove the husk from the dough and the dough should feel firm.
    7. Serve with the tomatillo sauce. Peel open the husk and enjoy!

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December 22, 2016

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Chopping the vegetarian tamale ingredients
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The onions and garlic in the pot for the chicken and vegetable tamales. I should have diced the onions and minced the garlic, so that is now how the recipe reads.
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The finished chicken and vegetable mixture. 
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Roasted peppers
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Tamale dough. Not quite creamy enough yet.
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Tomatillo Sauce cooking. We blended it first and then cooked, but I think that was a mistake so I am now recommending cooking first and blending second.
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Spreading the dough on the corn husk. A larger disk of dough would be better. There was a learning curve!
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We found that spreading the dough with a spatula worked the best. 
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Our cooked and color-coded tamales. The food coloring was a bit messy.  The pumpkin-gingerbread cookies are also on display. Yum!
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Chicken, vegetable and cheese tamale out of the corn husk.
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Chicken, vegetable and cheese tamale with some tomatillo sauce. 

 

Beef and Chicken Sausage Chili

Beef and Chicken Sausage Chili

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
  • Print

Adapted from Cooking Light's All American Chili - really flavorful and lean chili for a cold winter day.

Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2003.

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 or more large jalapeños or serranos, diced
    • NOTE: I do one of two things due to the spice-phobe in my family; either cook without the jalapeños and serve them on the side or after all the ingredients are combined, I separate out a portion that will remain spice-free and then add the jalapeños (or serranos) to the large pot and cook. 
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken breast sausage (or whatever sausage you prefer). If it is link-style, chop it.
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 3 Tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (lately I have used coconut palm sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups of dry red wine
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans of low-sodium chopped tomatoes with the juice
  • 1 can of low-sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of low-sodium cannellini beans (or great northern or white kidney beans), drained and rinsed

Procedure

  1. Heat a large dutch oven or pot on Medium-high. Add a small amount of olive oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken sausage and ground beef and cook for about 10 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked. Drain the grease from the pot and return it to the heat.
  2. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, sugar, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and bay leaves to the mixture and stir for one minute.
  3. Add the red wine to the mixture. Cook and stir for one minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes and the beans, stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally.
  5. Uncover and cook for 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls. Garnish with chopped onions and/or shredded cheese if desired.

NOTE: This also works well to follow recipe up to step 4, then once you add the beans put the mixture into a slow cooker, set on medium and leave it to cook for the day. I do this in the mountains, so it is about 45 minutes preparation and then dinner is ready when I come home from skiing! 

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December 8, 2016

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Getting my ingredients ready.
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chopping the onions and garlic
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Cooking the onion, garlic, peppers and meats.
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The onion, garlic, peppers, and meat with the spices (step 2).

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Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Cold days call for warm soup, at least in my house. This is the second time I have made this soup, adapted from a Food and Wine recipe, and it is really a lovely warming soup to eat when the temperature drops. I made the recipe with a few modifications. The recipe called for chicken thighs, but I really don’t care for dark meat chicken so I used organic skinless, boneless chicken breasts; I also couldn’t find the specific type of thai chili paste, so I used the one I had in my fridge (Thai Kitchen brand roasted red chili paste); I didn’t have kaffir lime leaves so I substituted a tablespoon of grated lime zest; and lastly Whole Foods didn’t have thai chilies, so I substituted serrano peppers. If I had been more motivated I could have found these items at another grocery store, but I wanted to keep things quick and simple. Despite the substitutions the soup turned out very well, I got a thumbs up from 2/3 of us (I left the serranos out of the spice-phobe’s soup, he found the soup just “okay”). I have no idea why my soup came out whiter than the Food and Wine picture, maybe it was the different chili paste I used? I served the soup with some plain brown jasmine rice and broccoli roasted in the oven with olive oil, squeeze of lime, garlic, salt and pepper.
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Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Sweet and spicy coconut chicken soup to warm you on a cold day.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine, May 2016.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, trimmed and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons Thai chili paste (The original recipe calls for Nam Prik Pao — which is a sweet and spicy Thai condiment. I couldn’t find this at my local store so I used Thai Kitchen brand roasted red chili paste)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated lime zest (original recipe calls for 2 kaffir lime leaves, but these are not easy to find, so I use grated lime zest).
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, tender inner white part only, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Two 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk (I used the lite type)
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and very thinly sliced on the diagonal, plus more for garnish if desired (original recipe calls for Thai chiles, but they are hard to find).
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Limes wedges, for serving

Procedure

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the fish sauce.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken broth or stock with the chili paste, sugar, lime leaves and lemongrass and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and fish sauce to the saucepan along with the shiitakes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaves (if using lime leaves). Stir in the lime juice and chiles and season with salt. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle the soup with the cilantro and serve with lime wedges and sliced chiles.

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December 5, 2016

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Lemongrass. Just use the tender white part you see here.
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Stuffed Baby Eggplant Parmesan

I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday and I found some baby eggplants. So cute! I have never seen baby eggplants before so I decided I would buy some. My son was shopping with me (this is a rarity! He was really only there because he is a boy scout and had to sell wreaths at the market). Anyway, he suggested we stuff them. Wow, what a good idea, but with what??? Later I decided why not make it like eggplant parmesan, but stuffed. I think they came out pretty tasty on the inside, but I am not sure how to improve on the skin, it was sort-of chewy. I guess eating the skin can be optional.

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Stuffed Baby Eggplant Parmesan

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

New twist on eggplant parmesan, but healthier and cuter. No frying involved, just a lot of super-healthy baked vegetables and it works well as either an appetizer or a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 6 baby eggplants (or one to two large eggplants)
  • 2 large Cremini mushrooms, finely diced
  • About 1 cup of fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of chunky tomato sauce (I had some of my Basic Tomato Sauce in the freezer)
    • NOTE: Use a very chunky tomato sauce with onions and garlic, since the recipe is relying on these being in the sauce and I didn’t include adding extra onions and garlic into the vegetable mixture. If you don’t have them in the sauce then add a 1/4 cup of chopped onions and 1 minced garlic clove to the vegetable mixture.
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1/4 cup of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chiffonade cut (thin strips)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional garnish)

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside flesh with a knife, leaving approximately 1/4 inch of flesh in the eggplant so it can serve as a cup for the vegetables. Chop the removed flesh into a small dice and put into a medium bowl.
  3. Roast the eggplant shells in the oven for 15 minutes, or until softened.
    1. Note:  Some people say salt the eggplant for an hour before roasting to make it less bitter but I think that the baby eggplants are not bitter and I have also read that salting is a waste of time, eggplants have been bred to not have that bitterness, so I skip that.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms and spinach to the bowl. Add some salt and pepper the the vegetables. Microwave the vegetables for one to two minutes, until softened.
    1. NOTE: You could also sauté them with some olive oil for a few minutes on the cooktop, I just wanted to save time and calories today. 
  5. Add the tomato sauce and half of the mozzarella and parmesan. Mix thoroughly.
  6.  Fill the eggplants with the vegetable mixture, top with remaining cheese and bake for 12 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the basil and parsley. Enjoy!

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December 4, 2016

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The chopped eggplant, mushrooms and spinach before cooking.
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Homemade chunky tomato sauce that I had in my freezer.
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The cooked vegetables mixed with the tomato sauce and cheese
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Eggplants ready to cook
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Coming out of the oven
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Finished eggplant, served as an appetizer

Jambalaya with Quinoa

Today I decided to cook Jambalaya after reading about a Quinoa Jambalaya recipe on icooktheblogs.com. What a creative and healthy idea to use quinoa instead of white rice! The recipe actually originated on another blog, but after reading it I decided why not stick with my regular Jambalaya recipe and just sub out the rice with quinoa. I usually put shrimp and chicken sausage in my Jambalaya, but my husband always complains that the shrimp is slimy and too fishy from my regular market and I didn’t have time to go to a special fish market, so I used a small boneless skinless chicken breast and three chicken sausages. I used mild organic spinach and chicken sausage by Aidells, mainly because I had it in my freezer. If I were to make this again I would have gone to the fish market and added the shrimp, but it was still quite good! I will list the recipe with the shrimp even though I didn’t use any today.

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Jambalaya with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Traditional Jambalaya recipe with a very untraditional substitution of quinoa in the place of the white rice (and optional substitution of baby bok choy instead of celery).

Credit: Inspiration for using quinoa in this recipe was from icooktheblogs.com , but I created my recipe from an old Cooking.com recipe sourced from Burt Wolf’s Menu Cookbook, but the website doesn’t seem to be live anymore so I can’t share a link to it.  

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 chicken sausages – spicy is best if you like spicy food, otherwise mild works
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
    • (NOTE: ok, I am not sure anyone will take this seriously, but I actually used one piece of baby bok choy chopped instead of the celery because I really don’t care to buy a whole package of celery and only use two stalks and throw the rest away. Then I panicked that it would look weird so I added a handful of chopped celery from the WFM salad bar…but traditionally I have used celery. The bok choy was actually good in it!).
  • 2 bell peppers (I used one orange and one red), chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, de-seeded and chopped.
    • NOTE: in the future if my son is not going to eat this I will add two jalapeños and not de-seed them so it is spicier. If you like food mild, 1 jalapeño de-seeded is going to be perfect. I like it hot!
  • 1 – 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, with the juice
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste (approximately 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper).
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/2 pound of de-veined and shelled shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, sliced

Procedure

  1. In a large dutch oven or stockpot heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the sausage and chicken and cook until the sausage is lightly browned and the chicken is cooked through. Remove the meat from the pot.
  2. Add a little more olive oil and add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the celery(or bok choy), bell peppers and jalapeño and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked chicken and sausage back to the pot. Add the tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, salt and pepper, bay leaves, oregano, chicken broth and quinoa to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Check on it occasionally to make sure is has not become too dry and to stir it.
  4. Add shrimp and basil, turn heat up to medium and cook with the lid off  for 5 minutes or until the shrimp is fully cooked.  Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls. Enjoy!

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December 2, 2016

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