Lunch


My friend Elizabeth introduced me to African groundnut stew, a wonderfully spicy comfort dish. This version is as easy to make as it is tasty.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
5 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 lbs of small red potatoes with skins, quartered
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt if you can find them)
2 cups of  chicken broth
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 lb baby carrots

How I Made It:

In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, sear the chicken breasts and thighs in the olive oil.  Don’t cook it all the way through, just get a nice browning on each side of the pieces of chicken.

Put the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  Top with the chopped onion and potatoes.  Add the diced tomatoes, then pour 1 and 1/2 cups of the chicken broth over the top.  In the remaining half cup of chicken broth, mix the tomato paste, curry, and ginger.  Pour the broth mixture over the top of the chicken in the crock pot.  Spoon the peanut butter in dollops over the top, then sprinkle with the red pepper.

Cover and cook on high in the crock pot for 4 hours.  Add the baby carrots, stirring the stew with a spoon to ensure that everything is mixed and the chicken starts to break up.  Cook on high for another hour or so.

How It Turned Out:

Holy kamoley — it’s good!  Just spicy enough, the flavors distinct yet complementing each other perfectly. Makes exactly 8 servings, and pairs well with warm naan or flat bread.

African Chicken Stew

 

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I made this easy pasta salad for the annual church picnic today and it was a big hit.  This version has salami in it, but you can leave that out for a wonderful vegetarian option. This recipe makes 20 servings, so you might want to halve or quarter it for a family-size dish.

Ingredients:

1 lb farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1 lb mini farfalle
2 cups fresh organic broccoli florets
1 cup chopped sweet red, orange, and yellow salad peppers
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half longways
1 cup genoa salami, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled low-fat feta
4 tbs organic balsamic vinaigrette

How I Made It:

Cook the pasta according to the box. With 90 seconds left to go, add the broccoli to blanch (for that bright green color).  Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water.

In a very large bowl (preferably one for which you have a lid) toss the pasta and broccoli with half the balsamic vinaigrette.  Add the peppers, olives, salami, and feta.  Toss again.  Add the last of the dressing, and give it a good final toss.

Keep cool until ready to serve.

How It Turned Out:

Picnic perfect!!

Greek Pasta Salad

We had an “End of the World” party at the office Friday, with the theme of foods you’d want to feast upon if it was your last meal.  As a good Southern girl, of course I made barbecue (what else would you eat for your last meal on earth?).  It’s a crock pot recipe, so you just chuck the roast into the crock pot before bed and whip up the sauce the next day.

Ingredients:

BBQ

4 lb pork loin roast
3 cups apple juice
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili pepper

BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Jack Daniels smoked honey mustard

How I Made It:

Put the roast in the crock pot with the apple juice, ginger, and chili pepper.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until it is tender and shreddable.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  You may want to adjust the ingredients to your taste (tangier, sweeter, etc.).  You can add a little Tabasco if you want some heat.  While the sauce simmers, remove the roast from the crockpot and let rest on a plate.  Discard the cooking liquid and return the roast to the crock pot.  Shred with two forks.  Pour the sauce over the shredded pork.  Keep warm in the crock pot until ready to serve.

How It Turned Out:

Tangy and tender, this barbecue is flavorful but lacks heat.  You might spice it up if you need a little kick in your Q.

I feel guilty about going out of town and leaving a full fridge, so I’m always giving away random produce and dairy on my way to the airport. Turns out, that neurosis isn’t unique to me. I was recently asked to rescue some bison, peppers, and other ingredients for chili from a wandering friend’s fridge. This is the result (sadly, the peppers didn’t make it – RIP).

Ingredients:

1 lb ground bison (free range, vegetarian fed)
2 cups dried black beans (rinsed and soaked over night)
4 organic tomatoes, diced
1 cup diced onion (I use frozen because I hate chopping onions)
1 8oz package of frozen organic corn
2 cans organic tomato sauce
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, removed from sauce and chopped

How I made it:

Brown the meat over medium-high heat in a large non-stick pot. Once the meat is cooked through (no pink), add the onion and cook until onions are translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, beans, and corn.  Stir to combine all the ingredients, and then add the tomato sauce. Stir to combine again. Add the chipotle pepper last and stir again.

Turn the heat down to low, and cook for an hour or until the beans are soft.

How it turned out:

Boy, howdy! Two little peppers brought the heat to the entire big pot of chili. For little kids and wimps like me, one pepper would be enough.

I made these “enchurritos” — a cross between an enchilada and a burrito — for Cinco de Mayo. They are super easy and very quick, and you will have enough for a party (6-8 people), or you can make the filling ahead of time and make them one or two at a time, if you’re cooking for one or two people.

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts
1 lime
1 can La Victoria red enchilada sauce
1 sack frozen onion and pepper blend
1 tbs canola oil
1-2 cups low fat shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 package Tumaro’s 8 inch White Gourmet  Tortillas and/or 1 package Tumaro’s 8 inch Jalapeno and Cilantro Gourmet  Tortillas
sour cream and salsa for garnish

How I made them:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken breasts in a foil packet (my favorite way to cook). Squeeze the juice of the entire lime over the chicken and bake for 20 minutes. Open the packet, turn the chicken breasts over, and continue to bake uncovered until done through (about another 15-20 minutes).

Saute the frozen onions and peppers in the canola oil. When just done through, add the enchilada sauce. (You may need to drain some liquid off before adding the sauce.) Let simmer until the chicken is done cooking in the oven.

When the chicken is done, cut it into small pieces and add to the enchilada sauce and peppers.  Let cook a bit longer (5 minutes or so), then remove from the stove.

Prepare a baking dish with non-stick spray. Using a slotted spoon, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a tortilla until just slightly full. Roll it like an enchilada (no tucking or folding) and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Continue until you’ve used all the chicken and pepper mixture. If you like spicy food, go with the jalapeno and cilantro tortillas. If you’re less brave, stick with the white ones.

You should have a little  left over sauce to spoon over the top of the enchurritos, but if you don’t it’s okay. (That’s why they aren’t true enchiladas — the sauce is on the inside).  Top with shredded cheese (as much or as little as you like). Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the tortillas start to brown around the edges  just a little.

Garnish with sour cream and salsa and serve.

How they turned out:

YUM-MEE! A quick and easy dinner that’s I’ll definitely be repeating.

P.S. You could make this recipe even more quickly in the microwave — I just don’t use one.

Inspired by the July edition of Bon Appetit, I decided to adapt a couple of recipes for our Independence Day celebration.  Both turned out so yummy that they disappeared before I got pictures.

Grilled White Salmon with Thai Sauce

This is a spicy coconut sauce that was great with fresh Alaska salmon.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (regular, not lite)
the juice of one lime
5 tsp ginger paste (in the chilled section of the produce aisle)
3 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp diced serrano chili (no seeds or pith)
1 lb salmon fillet

How I made it:

Heat the coconut over medium-high heat.  Add each of the other ingredients one at a time, gently whisking to combine them all.  Let cook 3-4 minutes, until it becomes a little thicker.  Remove from heat.

Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce over the fillet and let sit for an hour (in a glass dish, preferably) before putting on the grill.  Reserve the remaining sauce in the refrigerator for later. 

Grill on a medium-hot grill until cooked through, flaking easily and no longer translucent in the center.  Reheat the remaining sauce in a glass bowl in the microwave.

Serve the fish with 2-3 tbs of sauce spooned over the top.

How it turned out:

Given how little was left over, I think it was a hit.  Very moist, with just the right amount of spice.

Soda Jerk Beans

These are a lighter version of the traditional baked beans.

Ingredients:

1 vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups root beer (use a rich artisanal one, not A & W)
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
3 tbs light or mild molasses
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs dijon mustard
2 tsp chili spice blend (available in the chilled section of the produce aisle)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

How I made it:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In an ovenproof pot or skillet, saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, until the onion just begin to turn brown.  Add the ingredients one at a time, saving the beans for last.  Stir until well combined.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

How they turned out:

A light and tasty version of baked beans.  They won’t be the thick or sticky kind associated with traditional baked beans, but they are full of flavor and a great side dish for food off the grill.

As promised, here is the first of two clam-tastic recipes from our recent Clam-a-palooza.  While I helped create these recipes, I didn’t actually prepare them.  One of the best things about Clam-a-palooza was that, not only did we feast on freshly caught clams, I didn’t end up cooking a thing (or washing a dish!). 

So here’s the stuffed mushroom appetizer.

Ingredients:clam-stuffed-mushrooms-21

15-20 large white mushrooms

1 stick butter

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 tsp garlic

3-4 cups very finely chopped smoked clams (this was pretty labor intensive)

2 cups caesar flavored croutons

grated parmesan and romano blend

How they were made:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash the mushrooms.  Remove stems, hollow out caps.  Chop the stems up in small pieces. 

Saute the onions, garlic, and chopped mushrooms in butter until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms tender.  While that is cooking, smash the croutons into crumbs.

When the onions and mushrooms are done, add the clams.  Cook just a couple of minutes, then add the crouton crumbs.  Mix well to make stuffing.

Stuff mushroom caps, placing them on a foil covered cookie sheet for baking.  Top with grated cheese. 

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and just a little brown.

The results:

YUMMY!!!  I don’t even like clams, but this stuffing turned out very mild and flavorful. 

For the next time:

Maybe work on a creamier stuffing version.  That was my only criticism, that they were a bit crumbly.