Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nopalito Chicken Stew (Whole30)

I adapted this from a recipe I found on a Chowhound thread when I was looking for something exciting to do with a big jar of nopalitos (sliced and boiled cactus pads) I had in the pantry. 
I'm currently on the Whole30 nutrition plan (no dairy, grains, sugars, alcohol, additives, sulfites, etc) so I was happy to find this recipe would fit in with my diet. 

The original recipe writer said her family would cook this down until there was not much liquid left and eat in tortillas- kind of like carne guisada. Since I can't have tortillas on Whole30, I made it into a stew.

It would also be good with beef or pork subbed in for the chicken, or with more veggies like potato, corn, or zucchini added in.
Toppings could vary as well for those not abiding by Whole30: sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, etc. 

This could be done in a slow cooker by browning the chicken and onions first, then adding in the rest of ingredients and cooking on low for about 8 hours or high for about 4. It could be done in the Instant Pot as well by doing the same, but adding less broth and using the "stew" function.

Nopalito Chicken Stew  
Servings: about 6

1 or 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1lb, 14oz jar nopalitos
1 20 oz can tomatillos
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies; OR 2 chopped chipotles in adobo
1 medium tomato, chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle paste (omit if using canned chipotles)
2 cups chicken broth (more or less for desired consistency)

Optional toppings Whole30 compliant: chopped cilantro, diced avocado, diced radish, chopped jalapeno, chopped green/red onion.

Toss chicken in garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper. Brown in heavy-bottomed dutch oven (or similar).
Once browned, add onion and cook until soft. Drain & rinse nopalitos, and add to the pot. Drain the tomatillos and add to the pot. Once tomatillos are in the pot, gently break them up (or they will squirt you in the face) with a spoon or cut them up with kitchen shears.
Add tomato paste, chilies (and adobo if using), garlic, cumin, and chipotle paste,. Stir to combine, then add broth to cover the items in the pot. Stir, turn down heat to a very low simmer, cover and simmer for about 35-40 minutes.
Serve in bowls with desired toppings.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Italian Farro Salad

Farro is a nutritious, whole, ancient grain that you can read more about here.
This is a super tasty, and versatile salad. If you can't find farro, you could use barley, quinoa, or brown rice in its place.
If you're on Whole30, use riced cauliflower in place of farro and this salad will be completely compliant (just check your dijon label).  
Add feta cheese, or avocado for some extra excitement!

1 c uncooked farro, cooked according to package directions.
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 c diced pickled carrots (or plain)
big handful of arugula leaves, roughly chopped (add just before serving)

Combine all of the above in a large bowl.

1/4 c olive oil
1/8 c balsamic vinegar
1/8 c apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste 

Shake all of the above in a jar. About 30 mins before serving, drizzle as much vinaigrette as you deem necessary over the salad and toss. Toss the arugula 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Curry in a Hurry

I've only recently (as in the last few years) developed a taste for curries, but now I can't get enough. Curries are so versatile and quite easy to throw together and "use what ya got" once you get the hang of it.
When I first started researching how to make curries, I was intimidated by the vast lists of spices and other ingredients involved. So I started looking into pre-made curry pastes. I read labels and weeded out a lot of brands with too many additives, msg, or fillers. I tried Thai Kitchen (the most prevalent brand found at a standard grocery store) and found it bland and disappointing. Then I discovered the Maesri line of curry pastes and upon trying their "Karee" paste for the first time, I was sold.

Here is my basic formula for curry using Maesri paste:

1 lb Protein + 4-6 cups chopped Veggies + 1 can Curry Paste + 1 14oz can Coconut Milk + 1-2 cups water/stock

-Cut protein into chunks, brown in a hot skillet with coconut oil, remove from pan & set aside.
   (You can pre-season the meat a bit if desired, but most of the pastes are salted already so be careful. I most often use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you can use anything- pork, shrimp, tofu, paneer... really, anything!)

-Put entire can of curry paste in hot skillet with a little coconut oil and saute a couple minutes until fragrant (adjust amount for how much you're making)

-Add vegetables, saute for about 10 minutes. 
   (I always use onion, garlic, carrots, and either sweet potato or butternut squash, and then whatever I have on hand- eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, greens, you name it.)

-Add meat back in, coconut milk, and about the can's worth of water or stock. 
   (I like to have enough liquid to just cover the meat & veggies.) 

-Let simmer until veggies are tender (or longer for more flavor).

Serve over basmati or brown rice (I mix quinoa in sometimes), top with chopped cilantro (or thai basil, or both!). And for an occasional treat, I serve it with Trader Joe's garlic naan from their freezer section. 

This makes at least 6 servings (but it is even better leftover)!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Bid Farewell to Summer: Zucchini, two ways

I recently loaded up on zucchini, trying to get my fill while it's still in season here in Central Texas. It may still feel like summer, but fall is drawing near and soon we will be loading our plates with root vegetables and cole crops.

My 7 month old enjoyed eating whole chunks of soft, steamed zucchini slices and homemade purees like one I made with zucchini, black beans, sweet potato, and cumin.

I often go simple when it comes to zucchini, like cutting lengthwise and grilling, or slicing and sautéing with onion & garlic. This time, feeling adventurous, I looked up some recipes and found two that I will definitely make again.

The first was a chocolate zucchini bread (see this post for a slightly healthier of version Chocolate Zucchini Bread). I used this recipe as my guide:
Changes: I used less sugar, greek yogurt instead of regular, cacao powder instead of cocoa, 63% dark chocolate chips, coconut oil instead of vegetable, and added 1 tsp vanilla extract.
This moist, dense, but not too heavy, cake---errr, bread, was excellent on it's own, but the night I made it we also happened to have some Caramel Salt Lick ice cream from our favorite local shop Lick Honest Ice Creams  so we threw a scoop (or two) on top of the bread. Oh. My. Goodness.... that was heaven!

The next recipe I made was a Zucchini-Tomato-Rice Gratin (YES! I finally got to use my Le Creuset gratin dish).  I used this recipe:
The recipe seems to have a lot of steps, but it's really not that difficult. And once you get the steps down, there is a lot of room for adjustment/substitutions. It would be especially easy using leftover rice instead of making it fresh. I let my zucchini and tomatoes roast a bit longer than the recipe states- until the zucchini was golden and the tomatoes were starting to shrink down. I also let the onions caramelize instead of covering/steaming as the recipe instructs. I did not have fresh thyme on hand, so I used dried, but I would just omit if I don't have fresh in the future. I added fresh basil which was an excellent addition.
I served this alongside roasted salmon and asparagus which all went wonderfully together!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cool (as a) Cucumber-Avocado Soup

(adapted from Mike Hennessy's recipe served at the former Side Oats Cafe in Menard, TX)

2-3 large cucumbers (peeled, seeds scooped out if large)
2 large or 4 small avocados
1/2 c chopped onion (more or less to taste)
2.5 c plain yogurt 
1.5 c heavy cream (or 1/2 & 1/2 for a lighter version)
3 c cold water (more or less to desired consistency)
1 T chicken stock concentrate (or bouillon cube. I use Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken Base)
2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp ground black (or white) pepper
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning (like Tony Chachere's)
1 T apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Serve chilled.

Optional: Add fresh herbs like dill, basil or cilantro. Reserve some diced avocado & cucumber to top each bowl. If you don't have/don't want to use chicken stock base, just use your favorite seasonings to taste, or add a dash of liquid aminos. Also delicious with a bruschetta tomato topping.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Herb Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

Herb Roasted Chicken & Vegetables
1 whole chicken (I used a small 2.5 pounder)
1 lemon
2 T melted butter
2 T olive oil
¼ c fresh chopped herbs (I used parsley, basil, thyme & sage)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 carrots, cut in 2 in lengths (split lengthwise if they are fat carrots)
3 celery sticks, cut in 2 in lengths
10 (or so) fingerling potatoes cut in half lengthwise
1 onion, chopped
1 T parsley
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Tony's Cajun Seasoning

Preheat oven to 425
Put all veggies in a bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 T parsley, and a sprinkle of each seasoning.
Make sure chicken is at room temperature & that you've removed giblets if there are any.
Drizzle 1 T olive oil, the melted butter, and juice of the lemon all over the chicken (save the squeezed lemon).
Shake some salt & pepper into the cavity & add the squeezed lemon pieces + any extra herb pieces (such as the stems).
Sprinkle the entire chicken with each seasoning. Rub it in good.
Then pat on the minced herbs & garlic. Loosen the skin on the breasts of the chicken by sliding your fingers in and make sure some seasonings, herbs and oil get in there. Rub those herbs & garlic all over the chicken.
Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the lil wings in toward the body so they don't burn.
Spray or oil a roasting pan and put a small layer of the veggies down.
Place the bird breast side down on the veggies. Disperse the rest of the veggies around the chicken.
Roast for 30 minutes, then flip the bird breast side up and roast another 30-40 minutes. (adjust time to size of bird)
Let rest with a lid or foil tent over it for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Coconut-Citrus Roasted Carrots

Coconut-Citrus Roasted Carrots
Here's a rundown on how I made these cute lil itty bitty roasted carrots (you could use any sized carrots, just note that the cute factor will be affected).
Leaving some of the greens attached gives a fun crunch to the dish and their slight bitterness counters the sweetness of the carrots nicely. 

Take one bunch of washed carrots w/greens.  
Cut the greens off, leaving a few inches attached. (I like to save the greens for juice or pesto)
Toss carrots in a Tbsp or so of coconut oil (melt it if it's solidified), about a Tbsp of orange juice (or grapefruit), sea salt & fresh cracked pepper.
Roast at 375 for 30 mins or until they look like the picture & are tender (but not soft).