I rarely buy Trader Joes bagged salad mixes, but for some reason the Cruciferous Crunch Collection with shredded kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green and red cabbage looked really good today. Then there was the problem of what on earth am I going to make out of this? I had an “ah ha moment” when I realized that the real reason I was going to Trader Joes was to pick up some chicken to make homemade chicken soup for my sick child. Then the perfect idea came to me, Asian chicken salad with the extra chicken from the soup, perfect! This only serves 2-3, so double the recipe if you are feeding 4 adults, or use it this way if it is just a side dish for 4-6 people. I hope you enjoy this very crunchy light meal!
I braised the chicken and vegetables in a ceramic dutch oven, but the inspiration recipe cooks it in a crock pot. Either way, this is a pretty easy and healthy recipe that you can throw together the night before or in the morning and cook all day in a crock pot or for a couple of hours in a dutch oven. I made this very mild so the spice phobe will eat it and the rest of us can add chopped chili peppers at the table, but if you don’t have any spice phobes it would certainly be better with spicy peppers cooked in it!
1 quart of no-salt or low-sodium chicken stock (or broth)
1 small sweet onion chopped (or half a large onion)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large bell peppers (whatever color you like) chopped
2 jalapeños chopped (seeded if you want less heat)
2 ears of fresh corn, shucked and cut off the cob
1 – 14.4 oz. can of no salt added roasted tomatoes with the liquid
1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or fresh, use a few sprigs and pull the stems out before serving)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast meat, sliced in quarters (can leave whole if you are willing to cook a longer time or are putting in a crock pot all day)
1 – 14.4 oz can of no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
chopped romaine lettuce (about 1 cup/person)
*Mexican brown rice (or whatever you prefer)
approx. 1 cup of shredded mixed Mexican cheese blend (or cheddar) – Optional
guacamole, diced tomatoes and a few pieced of chopped cilantro as a topping — optional
*Mexican Brown Rice: Cook rice with 1/2 water and 1/2 chicken broth, 1 tsp of chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin and a shake of oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook according to rice package directions (I like to use a rice cooker).
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large dutch oven combine chicken stock, onions, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeños, corn, tomatoes with their liquid, and spices. Mix well and then add chicken.
With the lid on the dutch oven, put the chicken mixture into the the oven for an hour and stir it occasionally.
After the first hour check that it has not become too dry, there still should be plenty of liquid in there. Add the black beans and cook another 30 minutes without the lid, or until the chicken is falling apart and the liquid has mostly evaporated and the dish looks more like a stew and less like a soup.
Remove pot from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
Serve by first layering a cup of chopped lettuce, a 1/4 – 1/2 cup rice, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture, a sprinkling of cheese, a dollop of guacamole, a sprinkling of diced tomatoes and a few sprigs of cilantro.
Note: This can also be put into a tortilla and eaten like a taco; or put into corn tortillas with a spicy red Mexican sauce and melted cheese to make it enchiladas; or spread chicken mixture over tortilla chips and melt cheese over it for nachos. It would also be very nice as a vegetarian dish with extra vegetables and sub the chicken stock for vegetable stock and leave the chicken out. The possibilities are endless!
I took a little blogging-break, but hopefully I am back for the next month or so. June blog entries will probably be very light if at all. But hey, who wants to cook in the summer anyway! This a a very simple and easy dish to slowly get myself back in the swing of writing again. This is a Food & Wine recipe that I added asparagus and mushrooms to. A very flavorful and nice quick weeknight dinner.
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms (or white button), cut into thick slices
1 pound asparagus, ends broken off and sliced into one-inch pieces
fresh ground pepper
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (save time and buy it deveined, it is worth it!)
2 tablespoon small capers, drained
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a very large skillet heat some olive oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes. Add the asparagus and the shrimp and cook over high heat until the shrimp are lightly browned and barely opaque, about 2 minutes.
Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the shrimp and add the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley. Cover and cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the sauce is slightly reduced. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a dish and spoon the sauce on top. Add a sprinkle of the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley and serve. Enjoy with some crusty whole wheat bread or rice.
The only one who usually eats pasta in this house is my son, and frankly he can eat enough of it for all of us if I let him! We call him a “pastaterian.” I came across a Food and Wine recipe entitled Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognesethat I based this recipe on. I changed several things, most importantly I added ground beef and a little chicken breast sausage to 3/4 of the the recipe to satisfy my son who was craving a meaty Bolognese sauce but still left lots of vegetables in to make it healthier than a traditional almost all beef sauce. I also left 1/4 of it vegetarian to satisfy my daughter. The original recipe also called for eggplant but since I added meat I left out the eggplant. Overall we all really liked how both the meat and the vegetarian versions tasted. I noted where you can add the meat or leave it out depending on your preferences. Note: The quantities may look large in the pictures because I doubled the recipe so I can serve it again for a kid party in a couple of days.
3/4 lb lean grass-fed ground beef –IF it will not be vegetarian.
1/4 lb mild ground chicken breast sausage —Note: This may be hard to find, at Whole Foods they made this up for me, just ask you butcher, or just use plain ground chicken breast or pre-made chicken sausage or lean ground beef. I think spicy chicken sausage would be really good except for my spice phobe… so I used the mild sausage.–IF it will not be vegetarian.
1 lb cremini mushrooms, small dice
½ lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
fresh ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild white miso (this is surprising but turned out to be worthwhile)
one 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus grated cheese for serving
one 14.5 oz can crushed peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
3 thyme sprigs (or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I probably add more, but I don’t measure)
½ teaspoon sugar (or honey, to cut the tomato acidity)
1 package of fresh tagliatelle pasta (or pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil (I think fresh is important here, dried basil really doesn’t taste the same, but do what you can)
In a small bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with 1 cup of boiling water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms, discarding any tough bits. Drain mushrooms, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms finely.
In a large pot (I like to use an enameled cast-iron casserole, it cleans up easily) heat 1–2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Add additional oil if needed and then add the ground beef if using, chicken sausage if using, cremini, shiitake and chopped porcini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and miso and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chunk of cheese, tomatoes and their juices, thyme, oregano, sugar and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and bring to a simmer.
Halfway cover the pot and cook over low heat so it simmers gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is very thick, about 1–1.5 hours. Discard the thyme and oregano sprigs (if using fresh herbs); season the sauce with salt and pepper and more oregano and thyme if needed.
In a pot of boiling water (salt optional), cook the pasta until al dente. Drain
Add the pasta and chopped basil to the sauce; toss to coat. Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese.
I love, love, love Spanakopita, but I seldom make it because it is such a pain to deal with the phyllo dough. I made it today because I planned on making Fennel and Feta Salad with Bacon and the only cow’s milk feta I could find (my preferred feta) was giant-sized, so I decided to make some Spanakopita along with the salad to use up some of the feta. Unfortunately I still have a lot of feta left over. I usually make this the traditional way in rolled up triangles, but today I was going to make it easier and less fussy by putting it in a 8×8 baking dish and then cutting it into pieces. At the last minute I decided that it tastes so much better in individual packets, so I tried something different, muffin tins! You can see from the pictures that I am not going to win any awards for my presentation, they don’t look very uniform or very pretty, but they do taste incredible! So, I will probably not make them in muffin tins again, probably go back to rolling up triangles or trying the casserole approach. I based this off of a recipe from the Kosher Gourmet, adding mushrooms and herbs to the dish and only used 1 pound of spinach/baby kale/baby chard mix since I was adding a bunch of mushrooms.
Servings: 6-8 depending on whether it is a side dish or a main course
1 pound fresh spinach (today I actually used 2/3 spinach and 1/3 mixed spinach, baby chard and baby kale)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, small dice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
6 large cremini mushrooms, small dice
1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), minced
1/2 cup cottage cheese
~6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (dry is ok, use a little less)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Phyllo Dough – either thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using or thaw on kitchen counter for two hours.
Place the cottage cheese in a strainer over a small bowl and let it drain for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Working in bowlful batches, fill a microwave proof bowl with the spinach or whatever greens you are using and microwave for two minutes. Place cooked spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside and repeat until all the spinach is cooked and squeezed out. Chop up the spinach and place in a large bowl.
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and mushrooms with a little salt and pepper until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and chopped herbs and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Mix together the pressed spinach, drained cottage cheese, cooked onion mixture, feta, lemon juice and nutmeg. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together the eggs and stir them into the spinach mixture.
Lightly grease a 8″x 8″or 9″x 9″ casserole dish if making this the casserole method (highly recommended to save time!). Or if you are going to put in muffin tins grease those or if you are going to roll in triangles prepare a lightly oiled cookie sheet so the triangles have somewhere to land.
Unroll the thawed phyllo dough on a large work surface. If necessary, cut the pastry to 9- by 13-inch rectangles. Place plastic wrap over the phyllo dough with a damp dishcloth over the plastic at all times to prevent the thin sheets from drying out.
Casserole Method: Lay one sheet of phyllo on the bottom and brush it or spray it with olive oil. Continue layering five more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with olive oil. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pastry. Layer five more sheets of phyllo over the spinach, giving the top layer a final brush of olive oil. Lightly score the top layer of phyllo into eight squares with a paring knife. (This makes the pie easier to slice after baking.) …Or roll into traditional triangles or use the same layering technique in muffin tins.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the pie is golden-brown and the top layers of phyllo are crisp. Allow the pie to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Keep them refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze. Leftovers will need to be reheated in the oven to regain their crispiness.
Extremely flavorful chicken and vegetable dish that can be fancy enough for company or simple enough for a weeknight meal
safflower seed oil or other high smoke point oil
3-4 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 cup of dry white wine
few sprigs of fresh thyme
handful of fresh sage leaves
few sprigs of fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
5 spring onions (or scallions if you can’t find spring onions), bulbs only sliced thinly, green parts left long
6 large carrots, 2 peeled and cut into thirds, and the others peeled and left whole
2 cups mixed color baby potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 head of cauliflower (or more if you are serving more people), washed and cut into large chunks
2 Tablespoons capers
Heat a large dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat. Add a little oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and when sizzling add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Remove browned chicken from pan and set aside.
Wipe off any extra oil in dutch oven and then place chicken back into it along with broth, wine, herbs, carrots that have been cut into thirds, sliced onion bulbs and capers. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer.Braise the chicken for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove chicken and vegetables from the liquid.
Reduce the liquid until about 1 cup or so. Set pot aside.
While chicken is braising, heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray cooking spray on a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and some rosemary on the potatoes and roast in the oven until partially cooked, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and add cauliflower, whole carrots and sprinkle with more olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs and roast 10 more minutes, then add cooked chicken, skin side up and cook 8 more minutes or until all vegetables are tender and slightly browned and the chicken is crisped.
Remove chicken and vegetables from oven and arrange on a platter. Serve with the reduced liquid on the side. Enjoy!
This is a project, I have to be honest, but well worth it, it came out AMAZING! The beef was so tender and the vegetables were so full of flavor! Last night my husband and I had dinner at Zola, a French bistro here in town. The food was really good, very rich, but in portions that one can handle the richness. My husband and I like sharing our food so we can try more things that way and generally control the large portions that most restaurants dish out. We have been to this restaurant one other time so I knew the portions were normal human sized, so we shared a beet salad, which was delicious, and got a scallop dish and Short Rib Beef Bourguignon. The beef dish was so delicious that my husband requested that we try to recreate it at home. “We,” hah! Anyways, the cooking thing is my new hobby, so I said why not try it.
I made this following a recipe by Melissa Clark on the New York Times Cooking site. I added twice as many vegetables, much less bacon and a pound less beef than the original recipe. I also decided to throw the mushrooms into the stew while it was cooking instead of the traditional method of sautéing the mushrooms with additional onions in butter and adding them when serving. This way I saved some calories (no butter) and an extra step that I won’t miss! If you want it richer, then go ahead with this step. I also added some baby potatoes to the stew, so it can be a complete one pot meal and will hopefully feed us for the next two nights (because now I am tired).
2 pounds beef (beef chuck is most common, but can be very fatty – today I used organic grass-fed chuck eye steak and beef ranch steak), cut into 2-inch cubes and patted dry.
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, thick cut (or any bacon)
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
3 large carrots, large dice
3 celery stalks, large dice
1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on the size (I also had some trumpet mushrooms in my fridge so I threw those in)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, medium dice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups red wine, preferably a light young red such as Pinot Noir
1 cup beef stock or low sodium beef broth
1 large bay leaf
3 large sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs of parsley
2 cups of mixed color baby potatoes (or large potatoes cut in 2 inch cubes)
Season beef with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove bacon to a paper-towel line plate and pat off as much grease as you can. Wipe out at least half of the bacon grease left in the pan, leaving a little grease and all the browned bits for flavor.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Raise the heat under the dutch oven to medium-high. When pot is fully heated, add the beef in a single layer in the pot, leaving space between each piece. Cook until well browned on all sides and transferring pieces to a plate as they brown, about 10-15 minutes. Repeat with remaining beef.
Crumble or chop the crisped bacon into a small pieces. Set aside.
Reduce heat to medium to prevent burning and stir in onion, carrot and celery. Add a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.
Add garlic, tomato and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in flour, cook for 1 minute and then add wine, stock, bay leaf, thyme and parsley, scraping up browned bits at bottom of the pot.
Add the browned beef and bacon back to the pot, along with two cups of mixed baby potatoes and then cover with tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Let cook in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Occasionally stir the beef mixture while it is cooking in the oven.
When finished cooking taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Fish out the bay leaf, parsley and thyme sprigs and discard. Serve in individual casserole dishes or in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Bon Appétit!
Tonight is a Thursday and I start to get a little lazy by Thursday. I was pretty busy today and wanted to buy some specialty items at Trader Joe’s so I thought I would try to find dinner items there as well. I came across some pasteurized and packaged crab in the refrigerated section and decided I would make crab cakes and arugula (rocket) salad for dinner. Easy enough! Maybe throw in a hunk of garlic bread for my almost-teenage son (he is difficult to fill up lately!). I have been making crab cakes in the oven for years, but I keep trying slightly new recipes. I am not a fan of mayo, so I always use non-fat plain greek yogurt in it’s place, although I have experimented with leaving the yogurt out as well, I think the crab needs that moisture, so today I am leaving it in. One can also pan fry them, they may be better, but you have to be willing to use a little more oil with that method.
2 green or spring onions, green part only finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of paprika
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 large egg , lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed (today I used some I bought from Trader Joe’s in a refrigerated package, when it is available I use fresh crab, but today I used what is quick and easy – it is Thursday)
Canola oil or cooking spray
Quick Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup of organic ketchup
2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
dash of hot sauce
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium sized bowl mix the first 11 ingredients together (red bell pepper through egg yolk). Add 1/3 cup of the Panko to the mix and put the other cup of Panko in a shallow bowl to use later to coat the patties. Add the crab and mix the ingredients thoroughly.
Shape the mixture into 8 patties and set on a plate. If you have time put the patties in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (you can make cocktail sauce and a salad while they sit in the fridge!). This helps them to firm up a bit, but will be ok either way.
If you are making cocktail sauce, just mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Easy! I probably add a lot more horseradish, but I like it spicy!
Remove crab cakes from the fridge. Lightly dredge in the reserved Panko. Place Panko-crusted crab cakes on a pan lightly coated with cooking spray or oil of choice. Bake for 15 minutes on each side or until golden on each side. Serve with cocktail sauce or sauce of choice. I also made a simple salad with arugula, sliced cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and very thin shavings of parmigiano Reggiano cheese with a light lemony vinaigrette. Enjoy!
After yesterday’s risotto, I decided today should be an easy and simple dinner. I found this recipe on Food and Wine. For once I think I actually followed the recipe without adding or deleting anything. My creativity was lagging I guess or maybe it was that the recipe just looked perfect that way it was for a Thursday dinner. I think I start to burn out a little as the week goes on…
Anyway, the dish in all its simplicity was just right. The hubby and kiddo both seemed to like it and one of them even had seconds, so I think it went over well. Happily tomorrow is Friday, dinner out night. As much as I enjoy cooking and creating new dishes, I need a creative break sometimes.
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil of choice (today I used Safflower oil because it has a high smoke point, low saturated fat and is high in healthy fats.
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 pound asparagus, sliced on the diagonal, 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread the cashews on a pan and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and fragrant. Set aside and let cool.
In a medium bowl toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken in an even layer (I made two batches so I didn’t overcrowd the pan) and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned and just cooked throughout, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a clean bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to the pan along with the oyster sauce, lime juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer until the sauce is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken pieces and sliced asparagus to the pan and toss to heat through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cashews, basil and chives. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately over fresh brown steamed rice.
Food and Wine suggests serving with a spicy, full-bodied Syrah. We drank a full-bodied white Burgundy with this dish and it was delicious.
This is pretty much a straight-up Food and Wine/Andrew Zimmern recipe. Really easy and really flavorful! Original recipe included 2 scallions, thinly sliced and did not include the mushrooms or avocado (or sometimes tomatoes) that I added. I think some grilled shrimp or hardboiled egg would be really good in this as well. I served this with Quick Brined Roasted Salmon with Lemon Garlic Oil and some simple brown Jasmine rice. Very easy and delicious meal. My son could not get enough of the salmon and the salmon’s savory sauce.