Fresh Corn & Quinoa Congee

IMG_2445This is the first time I’ve ever attempted to make congee, and honestly it turned out pretty well. It’s a kind of porridge dish traditionally made by cooking rice in water or broth. It can then be flavored in many ways. For the people who grew up with their families making the dish, I know this won’t quite be the same. This variation uses fresh corn and quinoa instead of rice. I had a similar dish at a restaurant in Philadelphia and tried to recreate it. It didn’t pack the same punch, but it still turned out pretty great. It’s a great dish for any time of the day. This makes a lot so it’ll feed you all week.

 

What you’ll need:

  • 3 ears of corn
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken broth (preferably sodium free)
  • salt (at least 1/4 cup)
  • sugar (at least 1/4 cup)
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • red bell pepper
  • jalapeno

Cut the kernels off all the corn cobs. set aside 1/3 cup of the kernels. Put the rest in a blender or food processor until pureed. There should be enough liquid in the kernels to puree the corn without additional liquid. If you need to add a tablespoon of water.

Put the corn puree, the extra corn kernels, the chicken broth and the quinoa in a large pot with lid on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook on the stove, stirring occasionally, for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, or until the congee thickens into a consistency you’re happy with. It should be the consistency of a loose oatmeal or porridge.

Now it’s time to season. Note: if you used a broth with sodium, you will not need as much- or any- additional salt. It’s important to keep tasting until you’re happy. I used a homemade broth without any salt, and had to add at least 1/4 cup to make it taste good. Also add about 1/4 cup of sugar. Once again keep tasting. Add a few dashes of garlic powder and a few generous dashes of pepper. Once you’re happy with the taste, you’re done! Dice some red bell peppers and jalapenos (without the seeds or stems) and add on top. The peppers add some great fresh flavor and an awesome crunch.

Enjoy this fresh summer treat!

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Grilled Chiles Rellenos

IMG_2443Now for anyone who really knows a lot about chiles rellenos, this might be a total sham. But this is such a great summer option. Fire up the grill and enjoy a great summer treat. Poblanos are one of my favorite peppers. They’re not really spicy, but they have such a powerful flavor. Plus the interesting way of making the chicken, really adds a lot of moisture and flavor.

 

What you’ll need:

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 2 large chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 medium tomato
  • 10-12 oz queso cotija (more cheese is always better)
  • salt
  • chili powder
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • adobo seasoning
  • olive oil
  • can of refried beans (This is optional. I prefer black if available)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take the two chicken thighs, season them with generous amounts of salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder and adobo seasoning. Take the tomato and puree it in a blender or food processor. Take an oven safe skillet or pot with a lid. Add the milk, butter and tomato. Heat over very low heat, just to warm and melt the butter. Add in a tsp of salt and a pinch of chili powder. Keep stirring occasionally until heated and the liquid becomes almost a salmon color. Place the chicken thighs in the pan with the tomato and milk mixture. Put in the oven for about 20-25 or until the chicken thighs are done. Luckily thighs cook pretty quickly.

Fire up the grill! When the chicken is done, take it out to the grill and flash grill it. It adds a great smokiness and texture. About one to two minutes on each side. (obviously you can skip this step, but you need to use the grill anyway later and it makes a big difference)

IMG_2439Take the poblanos and make a circular cut around the top, and pull out the stem and the seeds. The results should be a hollowed out pepper. Take the cooked chicken thighs and start shredding the IMG_2440chicken with a fork. When done, add the chicken to the bowl with the cotija cheese. (leave a little off to the side for a topping later) take the chicken and cheese mixture and stuff the poblano peppers. Make sure they’re really stuffed to the brim to make sure you get the maximum amount of cheese and chicken.

When stuffed, grease the outside of the poblano peppers. Sprinkle with salt and wrap in aluminum foil. Grill the peppers for 6-8 minutes or until soft, turning the peppers occasionally.

Top the peppers with some refried beans and extra cotija cheese. Enjoy!!IMG_2443

Green Bean Fries

IMG_2432These are a great side dish… and super easy to make. They’ll go well with a sandwich or a burger as an alternate to fries. Although let’s be honest… there’s nothing quite like a good french fry sometimes. These green bean fries are crispy and satisfying. They’re also a little spicy since I add some cayenne pepper… of course if you’re not as big of a spice fan as I am, then you can just take it out.

 

 

 

What you’ll need:IMG_2426

  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 egg whites

IMG_2431Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Trim the ends off all of the green beans and set aside. In a bowl add the egg whites and a splash of water. Mix together. In a separate bowl, add the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Mix together. Coat the green beans in the egg wash, and then in the bread crumb mixture. Put on a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown. Watch the green beans very carefully and check on them frequently so they don’t burn. They may need a little less or a little more time.

Enjoy this quick and easy veggie side dish!

Almond Coriander Baked Chicken

IMG_2430

In my journey to find a more balanced lifestyle (and I want to emphasize balance. I’m not dieting), I thought about using the large amount of chicken broth currently in my freezer. After marinating on it for awhile (pun intended), I decided on using it to bake a basting liquid to cook chicken in. I then turned that liquid into a sauce. The outcome was pretty amazing. Granted I’m a sucker for bone-in chicken.. and wine. The coriander adds really nice floral notes, and the almonds add a great nuttiness.

It’s so easy to make, and really doesn’t dirty too many dishes in the process.

What you’ll need:

  • Skin on, bone in chicken. (You can use a whole chicken broken down, or what I did, which was two large breasts and a pack of thighs)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • coriander
  • paprika
  • flour

(all of the spices will be dashes, or to taste. I feel like the best way to cook is just to taste as you go… which may be why I’m not a great baker haha)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take the pieces of chicken. Season both sides with salt, pepper, coriander and paprika. Coat a pan with olive oil, and put on medium-high heat. Place the pieces of chicken skin side down in the hot oil. Brown on both sides and remove from the pan. IMG_2425-1

When the pan cools a little, add the white wine, garlic and almonds. Simmer until the wine reduces some and thickens (it can still be fairly loose). Stirring occasionally. Then add the chicken broth. Once again allow the liquid to reduce. Stirring occasionally. There’s no thickening agent so it won’t become super thick, but when it reduces some and thickens a little take off the heat.

IMG_2429Put the chicken in an oven safe dish, and pour the chicken broth mixture on top of the chicken. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-35 minutes (the thighs take closer to 25 but the breasts take as long as 35. Just keep an eye on it). After about 20 minutes, take off the aluminum foil and allow it to finish uncovered.

When the chicken is finished, take the liquid at the bottom of the pan and put it back into a pot on the stove, and put on medium heat. Whisk in a few pinches of flour until it thickens into a sauce consistency. (**note: you have two options here. Either put a little bit of the broth with the flour beforehand and make a paste before mixing it into the rest of the broth mixture, OR be very very careful and gently sprinkle the flour into the broth while it’s heated on the stove. If you put too much in at once, the flour will clump up and not mix in evenly.**)

Once you get the sauce the correct consistency, drizzle it over the chicken and serve. It’s a really delicious and satisfying dish. Great protein. If you pair with a vegetable then it’s a complete meal!IMG_2430

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

strawberry cookies 2I’m learning a lot more about moderation. For a long time I got paranoid about what to eat… Or whether I could have a cookie. Well I’m trying to be better. And I started with this recipe I made for my family this Easter. I got some pretty good reviews. So I decided to share. I originally got this recipe from Martha Stewart… But tweaked it a little. They came out great! Who can pass up cookies with fresh strawberries?!

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of fresh strawberries hulled and diced.
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus a little extra to dust the cookies with)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter (cold)
  • 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt (feel free to use Greek if you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Set aside so the strawberries aside and let them macerate.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Mix together (using your hands is best) until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.strawberry cookies 1

Take the bowl with the strawberries. Strain the syrupy juice from the bowl and add into the flour mixture. Once combined, add the rest of the strawberry mixture and the yogurt. The dough should become sticky.

Place parchment paper over a baking sheet. Scoop out the cookie dough using heaping tablespoons… And leaving space between the cookies for baking. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.

bake the cookies for about 25 minutes. Look for a golden color around the edges (however because the cookies are pinkish it can be hard to tell)

These cookies are best served same-day.

 

 

Healthy Bison Fajitas

bison fajita 3I’m one of those people who gets big red meat cravings. I try not to overdo it…. and while sometimes nothing can beat a big, fatty, juicy burger…. I turn to bison when I’m trying to eat healthier. Bison is lower in calories and fat than beef. Top the fajita with some veggies and my favorite low-calorie tortillas, and you’ve got an extremely flavorful, healthy dish. Bison steak is sometimes hard to find… but go to your local butcher and they should have it. (Whole foods also has bison most of the time.)

The tacos makes enough for roughly 1 person.

 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 8oz sirloin bison steak
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Tortilla shells (try “La Tortilla Factory” low-calorie tortillas)
  • Romaine or red leaf lettuce
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1/2 small white onion
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Adobo seasoning
  • olive oil

bison fajita 2Put the sirloin steak in a ziploc bag. Mince the two cloves of garlic, and put it in the bag. Take the lemon and lime and squeeze the juice into the bag. Season the steak with salt, pepper, adobo seasoning… and one tablespoon of olive oil. Mix the marinade together. Make sure the steak is well seasoned and put the meat in the refrigerator for about an hour. (The longer you keep the steak in the fridge… the more flavor will be infused into it. However, an hour does the trick if you’re short on time.)

Slice the peppers, onion and avocado. Cut the lettuce into strips. Dice the tomato.

Heat a pan with olive oil. Put the peppers and onions in the pan and heat until they’re soft.

Heat another pan with oil. Drop the marinated steak in the pan, and cook to your desired doneness. (I prefer medium rare) Remove from heat, and let the steak rest for a few minutes. Then Slice into half inch slices.

bison fajita tacoHeat your tortillas in the oven, microwave or stove (just put the tortillas right in an ungreased pan). They will be a little crispier in the oven or on the stove… and softer if you use the microwave.

Build the fajita with the peppers and onions, bison steak, avocado, lettuce, tomato. If you like your food spicy, add your favorite hot sauce!! Great summer option for lunch or dinner.

 

glazed carrots finished

Thyme & Honey Glazed Carrots

glazed carrots finishedHi everyone! it’s been awhile since my last post, but I’m back with some spring recipe ideas! The weather is warmer… and apparently that means my recipe block is over. I thought I’d start with a sweet side you can bring to any spring picnic. These carrots can be served hot or cold, so you don’t have to worry about them sitting out. They’re also super quick and easy to make.

 

 

What you’ll need:IMG_2300

  • 1 bunch of medium-sized carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Place the carrots in a large saucepan with a lid. Fill the pan with half an inch of water. Season with salt and pepper. Turn your stove on high or medium-high and let the carrots steam uIMG_2301ntil soft. (This takes roughly 10 minutes, but continue to check every few minutes so they cook to your desired softness.) Add more water if needed. When tender, drain any remaining water. Add the olive oil, honey and a few healthy dashes of thyme (or sprigs if using fresh thyme). Sauté the carrots until glazed.

Enjoy! These carrots will be a hit at any summer party or cookout!

 

 

 

Habanero Turkey Chili

turkey chiliIt’s getting a little chilly outside now… so what sounds better than chili??? It’s simple, quick and easy to make… and with basically one pot used, it’s an easy clean up. Don’t be afraid of the habanero. If you use one, it doesn’t actually make the chili that hot, but it adds a lot of great flavor.

Admittedly, for a long time making chili to me was using one of those McCormick packets you can buy at the grocery store. But really it’s just as easy to make on your own… and adapt adding any flavors you like!

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 can black beans
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
1-2 habanero peppers
1/4 yellow onion (chopped)
salt
pepper
garlic powder
1 cup beef stock

Take a large pot, add a little olive oil and heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Add the ground turkey. Season with salt & pepper. Cook until browned. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Pour out 1/3 of the liquid in the black beans and add them to the pot. Add the chili powder & habanero (add 1 if you like your chili a little more mild, 2 if you want a little more heat). (add some chipotle powder if you want a smokey taste). Add salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Simmer for at least an hour.

The biggest thing I learned is to continue to taste and adjust. A lot of the measurements are approximations, so just keep tasting.

Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Risotto

mushroom barley risottoI can’t take a lot of credit for this one. I found the recipe on foodnetwork.com and adapted it a little (although i guess most ideas are repurposed anyway) I love slow cooker recipes.. you could definitely make it on the stove… but why gradually stir in liquid for an hour when you can stick it in a crock pot and forget about it.

The best part is that this ENTIRE recipe is 550 calories. Yes, the entire slow cooker. It’s vegetarian…remove the cheese and it’s vegan AND only 375 calories. (Honestly the cheese adds some richness… but it still tastes AMAZING without it). It makes about 4-6 servings… depending on how much you eat… and it’s EXTREMELY filling.

Calories: 550 for the entire recipe. (375 for the vegan version) Makes 4-6 servings. ( I did NOT account for oil used in this recipe. Add another 120 for a tablespoon of olive oil)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
  • 1-1 1/2 cup maitake mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
  • ~ 2 tsp (or to taste) Thyme (you can use fresh.. it’s better… but i used dried)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • Garlic to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Green peas (optional)
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (leave out if making vegan version)
  • tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Heat a pan with olive oil. Add the onion, and cook until they begin to caramelize. Then Add in the mushrooms and cook until soft (this happens very quickly). Add in the barley, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, until the barley is golden brown. (about 5 minutes)

Add the barley mixture to the crockpot along with the carrots, water and broth. Let cook on high for about 3 hours. (keep checking… my slow cooker took a little less time) (if you add in peas.. throw them in with about an hour left to go… they don’t take as long to cook) When the barley is soft, and all the liquid is absorbed turn the slow cooker off. (If you’re making the vegan version.. stop here and serve!) Add in the cheese and vinegar, add any more salt and pepper you might want. ( i found it did NOT need any more salt)

Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you tried it!!

Low-Calorie Honey Almond Pumpkin Muffins

almond pumpkin muffin closeI’m on a big almond kick right now, and loved the idea of getting a nice crunch in the middle of a muffin. And since it’s fall… let’s make it pumpkin!

They’re only 85 calories a muffin! If you remove the honey and almonds and decide to do a plain pumpkin muffin, it’s only 65 calories each!

*Also check out my recipe for Low-Calorie Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Calories: 85 per muffin (makes about 12 muffins *note this muffins are a little small, if you want larger muffins fill up only 9 of the 12 spaces in the muffin tin)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 4 tbsps brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp raw honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

almond pumpkin muffin farIn one bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, honey and apple sauce. blend together. In a separate bowl add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and whole wheat flour. Add the wet and dry ingredients together. DO NOT OVER MIX. Over mixing will make these too dense. Fold in the sliced almonds. Evenly distribute the batter in the muffin tray. (you don’t have to, but I used cupcake wrappers. If you don’t, just make sure you grease the pan.) Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until you can poke a toothpick into the muffin, and have it come out clean. Drizzle the top of the muffins with honey.

Enjoy the guilt-free muffins!