Chicken or Chickpea Jalfrezi

Craving something a little different? We were a few nights ago and came across this delicious recipe on Allrecipes.com. While the original recipe calls solely for chicken and includes the addition of turmeric, we wanted to boost the servings a little (along with the amount of healthy ingredients) and didn’t realize we were out of turmeric until we were already cooking. Fortunately, our version still tasted great. The smell is so incredibly good that this is a dish that will make everyone else in the house hungry! Served over rice (and some extra cilantro) or with naan or pita bread. It was a bit spicy and some people liked it with some sour cream or fat-free plain greek yogurt. This was our first time cooking with ghee (clarified butter); we found a little jar at a local Indian grocery. If you can’t find it near where you live, you can try making it yourself (recipes are easy to find online).

Personal preference: We ended up liking the chickpeas best in this recipe, even more than the chicken. Next time we make it, we plan to leave out the chicken altogether and, by using the chickpeas as the protein, keep it vegetarian. The chicken wasn’t bad in the dish, just not as amazing as the chickpeas (and I’m not usually a fan of chickpeas). The texture and the way they absorbed the flavors of the sauce was wonderful. Taking out the chicken will also reduce the time it takes to cook the dish (give the onions and garlic a few more minutes of solo cooking time before adding the tomatoes).

Recipe:

Adapted from an Allrecipes.com by Alia Tasleem; original recipe makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced or grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons ghee 
  • 3 t ground cumin
  • 3 t ground coriander
  • 2 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken, and season with chili powder and salt. Keep cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan frequently and turning the chicken.
  2. Pour in the tomatoes with their juice, cover the pan, and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Uncover and add the chickpeas, and simmer for another 10 minutes to let the excess liquid evaporate.
  3. Add the ghee, cumin, ground coriander, ginger and cilantro, and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes. Serve the chicken pieces with sauce spooned over the top.

Quinoa in the crockpot?

As much as I’ve enjoyed the quinoa recipes I’ve tried so far, they all fit the same pattern: rinse and cook the quinoa in the rice cooker, chop and mix remaining ingredients, mix in the quinoa. I’ve tried some that required baking, but it was still pretty much the same process, just with an additional step of dumping the mixture into a new pot and sliding it into the oven (yay, more dishes).

What if quinoa could be cooked in the crockpot? One dirty pot after prepping a complete meal and a whole lot more freedom in terms of timing. Dinner can be hot and ready whenever I want, without needing me to start cooking in that 20-30 minute window before everyone is hungry. This particular recipe is especially easy since it doesn’t even require much chopping. With the short (for a slow cooker) cooking time, this also makes for a delicious lunch; just toss it together after breakfast and it’ll be ready for you by mid-day.

Recipe: Tex Mex Quinoa

Adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Yield: Serves 6-8

Cook Time:

active prep: 15 minutes

hands-off cooking time: 3-4 hours

Ingredients:

1.5 cups uncooked quinoa, well rinsed

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can green chiles (mild or spicy)

1 cup frozen corn, unthawed

1-2 bell peppers

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 onion, chopped

2 T chili powder

1.5 t ground cumin

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1-2 T lime juice

2-4 T taco seasoning 

1.5 cups shredded cheddar

Optional toppings/additions: diced green onions, sour cream, diced tomatoes, avocado or guacamole

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa well.
  2. Place the washed quinoa, drained and rinsed black beans, undrained diced tomatoes, frozen corn, and diced green chiles in the slow cooker.
  3. Chop the bell peppers. Add the chopped peppers, minced garlic, and chopped onion to the slow cooker. Stir everything together. Add in the chili powder, ground cumin, taco seasoning, and broth (or water). It should look soupy; see picture below. Stir again and cook for 3-4 hours on high or until the water is completely absorbed and the quinoa is cooked through. All slow cookers cook a little differently so make sure to occasionally check the dish to make sure the quinoa isn’t burning or sticking all to the sides.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice, and green onions if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the cheddar cheese and enjoy immediately.

Note: The leftovers taste great wrapped in tortillas for burritos or mixed with greens. We’ve also made delicious nachos with the mixture by adding cheese, salsa, the optional toppings, and chips.

This is what it looks like when the ingredients first go in; it should look a little soupy.

This is what it looks like when the ingredients first go in; it should look a little soupy.

Mango + Quinoa = Magic

While I haven’t posted anything on here in a while, I have still been cooking. A lot has changed since my last post – we moved to a new house (with amazing sun for a vegetable garden!), have a new housemate staying with us sporadically, and we’re learning to cook with the help of our toddler. Some things haven’t changed though – I’m still looking for somewhat easy to prepare recipes. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that I’m still cooking  a lot of quinoa.

The following recipe is one I made first for a potluck at work. I made 2 or 3 different salads, figuring that the leftovers would be nice to have with dinner that evening. None of this delicious mango quinoa salad made it to evening, let alone through the entire lunch period. Who knew sweet fruit would work so well with the rest of the ingredients?

Since that first time, this recipe has been requested multiple times and not just by my coworkers. Our housemate has an aversion to tomatoes, to the point of asking for them to be left off her tacos and creating BLTs with no actual tomatoes in the finished sandwich. After trying this for the first time, she’s taken to “accidentally” purchasing the ingredients for this salad whenever she hits the grocery store and always includes the tomatoes.

If you’re looking for something healthy but delicious, light but filling, easy to make but fully flavored- this is the recipe for you. Most of the effort for the recipe is just going to be the chopping up of the ingredients. Since the recipe tastes great after chilling and even better the second day, you could easily make this ahead of time for picnics or summer BBQs.

 

Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Tomatoes

Adapted from two peas & their pod

Yield: Serves 4-6

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water

1-2 large mangoes, diced (make sure to get ripe, sweet mangoes)
2 large tomatoes, diced or a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4-5 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or more if you’re a big cilantro fan)
2 medium avocados, diced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste

Lime wedges for serving (optional)

Directions:

1. Rinse the quinoa under cold water. Cook the quinoa in your rice cooker and then fluff with a fork. Let quinoa cool to room temperature (we’ve skipped this step sometimes when really craving the dish and everything turned out fine).

2. While the quinoa cooks, wash and prep all the other ingredients. Toss the mangoes, tomatoes, green onions, and avocados in a large bowl.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, and cumin.

4. When the quinoa has cooled (as much as you plan on letting it cool), dump it into the bowl. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and gently stir everything until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled. The salad tastes great fresh, but even better on the second day.

Notes: Pouring the dressing over the quinoa while it is still slightly warm usually ends up with the quinoa absorbing almost all of the dressing, which we prefer. Then we mix the whole salad up to ensure the flavored quinoa is well mixed into the salad so it flavors every bite. The salad tastes great fresh, but even better on the second day. Just be sure to mix it up well before eating.

Crustless Quiche

This is another recipe adapted from Diane Phillips’ Perfect Party Food and can be made in greased muffin tins for individual servings instead of the pie tin; in this case bake for only 25 minutes.

Ingredients:
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 shakes Tabasco sauce
  • 2 scallions (white and green), finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. beef chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 3 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Stir in the scallions, chorizo, and cheese until blended.
Do-ahead: At this point you can cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 10 inch pie pan with nonstick spray.
3. Pour quiche batter into pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the quiche has puffed up above the rim of the baking dish, 40-50 minutes.
At this point, you can let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 6 weeks. Defrost and bring to room temperature. Reheat in 350 F oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Micro-Steamed Hoisin Salmon and Vegetables

For all that I love having long, slow cooked meals that fill the house with their delicious aroma and welcome us home after work or play, it’s also nice to have some recipes that can be thrown together somewhat quickly without any prep ahead of time. These are the recipes that need to be really easy and tasty and tempting for the moments where we want to eat something homemade but feel lazy and the takeout menu starts sounding like a good idea.

I thought this recipe (adapted from Anne Byrn’s The Dinner Doctor) sounded perfect for addressing that kind of need; it’s healthy, claims to have 10 minutes of prep and only 6 minutes of actual cooking time. Who needs 30 minute meals when you could be done in half that time?  In reality, the prep took a bit longer than promised, but the results were worth it. Sharper knives (or getting the butcher or fishmonger to slice the fish for me) would have shortened my prep a LOT and probably resulted in a prettier looking final dish since mine looked a bit mangled. Luckily, the flavors were great and it was a nice change from our regular routine. We served the dish with steamed quinoa and rice (a 50/50 mix).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb salmon, 1.5 inches thick (could also use grouper or other fish fillets)
  • 8 oz fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced (would have been even better diced)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots or pre-shredded carrots
  • 4 scallions, both white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 3 T hoisin sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T rice vinegar (we added more to our rice/quinoa)

Directions: 

  1. Cut the salmon into 1 inch wide strips and place in 2-quart microwave safe dish. Top with sugar snap peas, carrots, ginger, and scallions.
  2. Pour the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and vinegar into a small bowl and stir until well combined. Drizzle over fish and vegetables.
  3. Cover dish loosely or top with plastic wrap (peel back one corner if using plastic wrap to allow steam to escape).
  4. Cook on high in microwave until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp-tender, 6 minutes. Stop every 2 minutes to gently stir and reposition the fish so that the outside pieces are moved to the inside. Microwaves vary in power; you may need to add another minute for the fish and vegetable to cook through. We ended up adding 30 seconds.
  5. Serve!

    Looks messy, smells wonderful, tastes great!

    Looks messy, smells wonderful, tastes great!

Pesto and Tomato Frittata

Researching recipes to prepare for a birthday brunch for our two year old (can it seriously already be time for a second birthday party?), I wanted something easy, accessible, and preferably something that I could make ahead so I had less to stress over the day of the party, especially since we planned to host the party at a local park. Since we wouldn’t have access to electricity while at the park, I couldn’t use the crockpot (which I usually do whenever I have a party and don’t want to be cooking right up until the guests arrive). Luckily, I found some good ideas in Diane Phillips’ Perfect Party Food. The self-proclaimed “Diva of Do-Ahead” offers a lot of interesting ideas and recipes in the thick book, but unfortunately I have to return it to the library before I get to try out very many of them. I’ll update with pictures when I test out the recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Directions:

1. Coat a 10 inch round baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until blended. Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella, the pesto, and the tomatoes. Pour into prepared dish and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

(At this point you can cover and refrigerate overnight)

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the frittata until  puffed, golden and set in the center, 35-40 minutes.

At this point you can let it cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Serve the frittata cold or at room temperature, or reheat covered with foil in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes.

Moroccan Marathon

Picking recipes is something of a hobby of mine, but sometimes I spend too much time thinking of all the things I could make and have trouble actually picking what’s for dinner so I asked my husband to pick a recipe for us to try. He definitely spend a lot less time deciding on a recipe than I do, but that is in large part because he does not actually read the recipe at all. This is how we ended up spending 3 days working on a single dish, Moroccan Stew we found through Gojee. For someone cooking without an infant in the house, or with a fully stocked kitchen, this probably won’t take as long. Fortunately the results were delicious and tasted unlike anything we’d made before. The chickpeas added some nice texture and the figs melted into the sauce, giving it an unexpectedly nice fruitiness.

One of the first steps of the recipe is to make the spice mixture used to marinate the meat. The spice mixture is called Ras el Hanout. Our local grocery store doesn’t stock the spice mixture, but we discovered weeks later that you can purchase it inexpensively at Cost Plus. This recipe seems like one that could be adapted pretty easily to go in the crockpot (follow the recipe through step 3, then dump everything in the slow cooker and let it work its magic).

Ras El Hanout

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne

Combine all the spices together. Store in a cool, dark place.

The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of turmeric as well, but even after making a grocery run, we didn’t have any and made do without. The recipe can be halved. Even after halving the recipe, you won’t use all of the mixture and will have some to store for future recipes.

Hearty Lamb Stew with Chickpeas and Figs.

Moroccan Stew - packed up for lunch with cilantro and quinoa.

Moroccan Lamb Stew

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 – 3 pounds lamb shoulder or leg, cut in 2 inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 – 14 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
2 cups chicken stock
12 dried Calimyrna or Turkish figs, halved
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons ras el hanout
1 – 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Harissa or red chili paste
Fresh cilantro sprigs

Directions:

1. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Mix to form a paste. Place lamb in a large bowl. Rub paste all over lamb. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate covered up to 24 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or oven proof pot with lid over medium-high heat. Add lamb in batches and brown on all sides, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer lamb to a plate or bowl.

3. Add onion and carrot to the same pot. Saute, stirring up the brown bits, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and continue to saute 1 minute. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, figs, cinnamon stick, ras el hanout, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

4. Return lamb and any collected juices to the pot, submerging it in the stock. Add additional chicken stock to cover, if necessary.

5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot. Transfer to oven and bake until lamb is falling apart tender, (about 2 hours).

6. Transfer pot to stove. Remove lamb and vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil uncovered until sauce is reduced by about half and thickened, skimming fat.  Stir in chickpeas. Taste to check for seasoning. If necessary add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the stock. Return lamb and vegetables to pot.

Recipe may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, skim any collected fat from surface. Rewarm over medium-low heat or in a 325 F. oven. Serve with prepared quinoa or couscous. Pass bowls of harissa and fresh cilantro around the table as condiments.

We made a quick pot of quinoa in our rice cooker as we finished up the recipe and it was delicious! Be prepared for your entire house to smell of the rich, spiced aroma of the dish.

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