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.
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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.

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!

Cheese Bake

After an afternoon of baking cookies, I was hyped up on sugar and in no mood to cook. Thankfully, hubby was ready to step in and make dinner adapted from a recipe he found online calling for 5 types of cheese in a baked macaroni dish (Original recipe: Wisconsin Five Cheese Bake found on allrecipes.com). Since we wanted to reduce the amount of ingredients we had to buy to make the meal, we adapted it to what we had in the fridge. You could easily sub in your favorite mixture of cheeses and whatever medium size pasta you have in your pantry.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) package bow tie noodles
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese mixture
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add bow tie noodles, and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the shredded cheeses. Remove about 1/2 cup for topping and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt and heavy cream. Season with parsley, Italian seasoning.
  3. Pour the ricotta cheese mixture and drained pasta into the bowl with the shredded cheeses and toss lightly. Don’t worry about mixing it too thoroughly, it will melt. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil. Broil for about 5 minutes to brown the top.

Final Results: Totally decadent, even with the minor fat reducing adaptations we tested. It did need some salt, so adding in garlic salt as the original recipe suggested to the cheese mixture would have been nice. It also could have used a little kick of something – perhaps a dash of tabasco to add some heat or a shake or two of cayenne or crushed red peppers flakes. I loved the crunchy bits on top, but if you don’t like a crunchy top to your baked pasta, don’t broil it at the end. The cheese will still be plenty gooey and creamy.

Here’s what the leftovers looked like packed up for hubby’s lunch the next day (I added some cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices to round it out).

Beef Chorizo, Black Bean, and Chicken Burritos

It’s been almost a year since I last posted, and what a year it’s been! We’ve added a new member to our family, and while my pregnancy was remarkably healthy for the most part, I dealt with an unusual form of morning sickness that not only made cooking difficult due to the smells, but also made it so I was not hungry at all. I tried cooking a handful of times during the pregnancy, but the dishes turned out pretty poorly (my first inedible dish!). But now, Baby Monkey is here in person, I’m able to eat again, and I’m cooking food that’s actually edible once more so I’m back to blogging about our experiments in the kitchen.

The following recipe was cooked by my husband (yay!). Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list or the fact that it isn’t a single pot dinner. The taste is well worth it – it has some heat, complex flavors and generous servings.

Beef Chorizo, Black Bean, and Chicken Burritos

Serves 4

Taken (with some minor changes) from Rachael Ray’s Express Lane Meals.

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1.5 cups white rice
  • 3.5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 lb. Beef chorizo, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1.5 lbs. Chicken tenders, chopped small
  • 1 avocado, halved, skinned, and cut into small pieces
  • Handful grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Heat medium size pan over medium heat with half the oil. Add 1/4 of the chopped onion, season with salt and pepper, and then cook for 1 minute. Add the rice, stirring to coat in the oil. Add 2.5 cups of the chicken stock and bring up to simmer. Cover the pot tightly, reduce heat to medium low, and cook rice for 15-17 minutes until tender. Fluff rice with a fork when it’s done.

2. While rice cooks, preheat large skillet over medium-high heat with remaining oil. Add chorizo and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining chopped onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, and some salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes until the onions start to get tender. Add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until chicken no longer has any pink and is cooked through.

3. Combine avocado with the tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and mix to combine.

4. Add remaining cup of chicken stock to the chorizo mixture and bring it up to a bubble. Once it simmers, add the black beans and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (at least a few minutes).

5. Assemble burrito: Put handful of cheese on the tortilla, add rice, and top with meat mixture, then add some of the avocado mixture. Wrap and enjoy!

White Wine Sangria

This is a dangerously addictive drink – easy to customize, easy to make, easy to drink. We used a bottle of buttery Chardonnay and it blended beautifully with the fruits. Author of the recipe is .

  • 1 Bottle of white wine (Riesling, Albarino, Chablis, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc).
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 oranges (sliced) or may substitute 1 cup of orange juice)
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 1 lime (sliced)
  • 1/2 liter club soda
  • handful of hulled and sliced strawberries

Preparation:

Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the orange,lemon and lime into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving.If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled white wine and serve over lots of ice. 

Addition ideas: peaches, handful of fresh blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, a shot or two of gin, brandy or rum, a cup of citrus-flavored soda pop, ginger ale in place of the club soda.

We had a wine-lover coming over for lunch and had a tough time figuring out what to serve.  This was the perfect complement to a light, summer brunch/lunch including grilled chicken and lemon quinoa.  It might have been prettier served in wine glasses instead of tall tumblers, but these worked well.  One of the best parts was eating the boozy fruit as dessert.