Quinoa & Sweet Potato Skillet Meal

 

Happy Saturday! I made this dish last night and my daughter, her friend and myself really liked it; it has incredible flavor profiles. The recipe is from a cookbook my boss gifted me for Christmas. It is written by the Canadian Chef, Greta Podleski. Fun fact you may not know, my mom is Canadian and lives in Canada, however, I was born and raised a California girl. The book is titled Yum & Yummer and focuses on healthy recipes. I have made several recipes from this book but this is the one that truly stands out. It is vegan but we made it vegetarian by adding a dollop of sour cream as a garnish. There is a lot of spices. If you want to make it less spicy do not add the jalapeno and cayenne pepper. Its really easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions (I used yellow)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato, uncooked
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted if you can find them
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup whole-kernel corn (thaw first is using frozen, I used fresh and cooked prior to measuring and adding)
  • 2 to 3 TBS minced fresh cilantro
  • Sliced avocados for garnish

Directions:

Use a 10 inch skillet, non-stick with a lid. Heat oil in skillet and add onions, garlic and jalapeno. Cook until tender. Add sweet potatoes and all the spices. Mix well.

Stir in tomatoes with their liquid, broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir in beans and corn, cover and let mixture stand off heat for 10 minutes (do not omit this step). Stir in cilantro just before serving. Garnish with avocado and sour cream using.

I am counting calories now so If there is a calorie count included I will start including them.

Makes 4 meal size serving; 367 calories per serving.

 

Thai-Spiced Rice Bowls

Asian food is one of my favorites. Thai and Japanese are at the top of my list. I have made this rice bowl twice and each time added more spice to the broth. Still, not spicy enough for my mom…she likes it super spicy. Next time I will knock it out of the park. The original recipe was found on cookieandkate.com, but as usual, I have altered it to my taste buds. The original recipe called for no proteins. I have added chicken and a poached egg. Shrimp would be a good addition as well. If you are a vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth and tofu. The choices are abundant.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Fresh ginger, thumb tip sized, peeled and minced
  • 1 TBS Thai red curry paste (or more, if you want it spicier, start tasting once its all mixed)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can, 14 oz, light coconut milk
  • generous squeeze of honey

Garnishes to your liking:

  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced and seeded
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Rotisserie chicken, shredded or chopped
  • Poached egg
  • Shrimp, sauteed

Directions:

Cook the rice as directed. Make the broth by heating the oil, garlic and ginger in a saucepan over medium for about 30 seconds. Add the red curry paste, soy sauce, peanut butter, broth, coconut milk and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce and simmer while you prep the garnishes. Chop all your garnishes. To serve, place rice in a bowl, top with broth and garnishes.

 

Poached Pear Phyllo Triangles

 

Merry almost Christmas. I wanted to share another dessert, because it is the season to eat desserts after all. The funny thing about this recipe is I accidentally bought Phyllo dough instead of puff pastry when I made it. The original recipe called for puff pastry and was pretty difficult. I ended up making poached pears wrapped in phyllo dough and worked with what I had. It was delicious. This is the version I created:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 star-anise pad
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, scrap out seed and reserve
  • 4 to 5 Bosc pears, peeled and halved and cored
  • 1 package phyllo dough, thawed
  • Butter, 1/2 cup (1 stick), melted

Directions:

Combine first 6 ingredients and heat over high heat until sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Add pears and assure they are completely covered in liquid. If not, add a bit of water until covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, pressing it directly on top of pears. Simmer until tender when you pierce with a fork (20-30 minutes). Transfer pears to a bowl and set aside. Heat liquid to high and boil until reduced to 2 cups. Pour liquid over pears, refrigerate until cool (30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once pears are cool, work with the phyllo dough by taking 2-3 sheets at a time, cut into 4 equal strips and butter the surface. Place approximately 2 TBS  pears 1 inch from the end of each strip. Fold into a triangle by placing one end over and over until complete. Lightly butter top of triangle. Place seam side down on baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced Apple Cake

 

Christmas is upon us. It is my favorite holiday. I love everything about Christmas; family gatherings, decorations and especially delicious food. I decided to start baking some new desserts and this cake was first on my list. Found in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine and on marthastewart.com, it is delicious and could be a great sweet side to accompany Christmas breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butted, melted and cooled slightly, plus more at room temperature for brushing
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch rounds, seeds removed
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with butter. Line bottom and 2 long sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Butter parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, all the spices, set aside. Whisk eggs until pale and foamy. Whisk sugar and vanilla into egg mixture until combined. Add 1/2 of flour mixture, then 1/2 of butter and sour cream, repeat with remaining until all combined (do not over mix). Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top with spatula.

Toss apples with lemon juice and place on top of batter evenly.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Apples should be tender and toothpick inserted should come out clean.

Warm jam in saucepan until brush-able consistency, immediately brush on top of cake when it comes out the oven. Let cool completely on wire rack. Lift cake form pan when cooled.

 

 

 

Chicken & Dumplings

 

The other night I made chicken and dumplings from scratch. The creamy sauce was so delicious. My daughter ate a bit and told me how she really liked Grandma Pat’s version of Chicken & Dumplings. My son said he preferred the homemade broth in the recipe I had made that night. My children know I appreciate honesty about my meals so I can keep improving my cooking skills and make things everyone enjoys. I asked Pat for the recipe and I’ve decided I am going to somehow intertwine the two recipes. But first, I am going to share both recipes with you while I experiment.

First recipe found on tasteofhome.com and modified by me:

Step 1/Prepare the Chicken and Broth

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut up
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, mined
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a shallow bowl, mix 1/2 cup flour, salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces one at a time and coat, shake off excess. In a stockpot, heat oil and brown the chicken in batches. Remove and set aside. Add onion, carrots and celery to same pan, cook for 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and blend. Gradually add stock, stirring constantly and stir in wine, sugar, and bay leaves. Return chicken to broth, bring to a boil, set to simmer and cook covered 20-25 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear.

Step 2/Make the Dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1 TBS butter, melted

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk milk and butter. Combines mixtures until moistened, do not overmix. Drop by TBS onto parchment paper, set aside (this allows the baking powder to produce gas bubbles and helps them with a light consistency).

Step 3/Back to the Chicken

Directions:

Remove the chicken from the stockpot and let cool slightly. Discard bay leaves and skim fat from broth. Remove skin and bones from chicken while shredding the meat. Return the meat to broth and cook, uncovered until it reaches a simmer. Drop the dumplings on top of the broth and chicken, reduce temp to low and cook, covered for 15-18 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the dumplings to see if they are done, it should come out clean. Carefully remove dumplings then stir in cream, parsley and thyme while seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Return dumplings to the pot and serve.

Second recipe from Pat titled Crockpot Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 skinless chicken breast
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 3/4 cup fresh green beans
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 10 3/4 oz cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 oz dry ranch dressing mixture
  • Fresh parsley, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pre-made biscuits, refrigerated

Directions:

Melt butter in sauté pan, add vegetable and stir to coat. Place vegetables in crock pot. Dice chicken, season with salt and pepper and add to crock pot. In a pot over the stovetop, mix chicken soup, milk, sour cream, and ranch mixture, until heat and blended then pour into crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Make biscuits before serving. Serve dish over biscuits and sprinkle with parsley.

 

Bananas Foster

It makes complete sense that Bananas Fosters is the dessert we made at the cooking class I attended in New Orleans. After all, it was invented at Brennan’s in New Orleans. Born from the once booming banana trade in New Orleans, this dish was invented by Ella Brennan in 1950. Her brother, then owner of the famous Brennan’s on Bourbon Street, Owen Brennan, asked Ella to invent a dessert that would honor the New Orleans Crime Commission Chairman, Richard Foster. Inspired by the Baked Alaska, Ella caramelized bananas with brown sugar, butter and liquor, set it aflame and served it over ice-cream. It was instantly a hit and is still served to this day at Brennan’s in New Orleans. if you get a chance to visit NOLA, pay this place a visit and try this delicious dessert. In the meantime, here is the recipe so you can make it on your own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 oz. banana liqueur
  • 4 oz. dark rum
  • ground cinnamon
  • ice cream

Directions:

Melt butter and add brown sugar to form a creamy paste. Let this mixture caramelize over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.

Stir in the banana liqueur, bananas and rum. Heat and ignite. Agitate to keep flame burning and add a few pinches of cinnamon to the flame.

Let flame go out and serve over ice cream.

 

 

 

 

Grillades with Cheese Grits and a Poached Egg

 

 

My favorite part of my recent trip to New Orleans was my cooking lesson at the New Orleans School of Cooking. This was the main dish we made. We used veal but the recipe calls for round steak and I have used chicken upon returning home. The recipe is served on cheese grits and topped with a poached egg; both recipes follow. I don’t usually eat veal and probably will not use it for this recipe moving forward but it was delicious. Use the protein of your choice. Vegetarians could use tofu and vegetable stock. Over the years I have learned that any recipe can be manipulated to your own desire, it will change the flavors but it can still be amazing.

Grillades

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb round steak
  • 1 TBS Joe’s Stuff seasoning (or your own seasoning, see note*)
  • 1/2 cup flour + 2 TBS
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 celery, chopped
  • 1 TBS sliced garlic
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS sliced green onion
  • hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • additional Joe’s Stuff to taste

Directions:

Pound out round steak to about 1/4 inch thick. Julienne the beef into 1/2 inch thick strips. Combine flour with Joe’s Stuff and dust the pieces of meat in the flour, shake off excess flour. Heat the oil and brown the pieces of meat on each side; remove and set aside. Lower heat and add onion, bell peppers and celery until translucent. Stirring constantly, add the remaining 2 TBS flour and cook on medium heat until flour starts to brown. Add garlic, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, tomato and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add meat. Cook 30-45 minutes until beef is tender. Add hot sauce and seasoning to taste.

Serve over warm grits and garnish with a poached egg and green onions.

Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • 1 TBS white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs

Directions:

Bring water and vinegar to a boil. Crack eggs gently into a large spoon or ladle and bring the boiling water to a swirl. Lower egg into simmering liquid. You may need to ladle the egg out to test that the whites are down and the yolks are not over cooked.

Tips:

  1. Poach 2 eggs at a time to not overcrowd pot.
  2. Use very fresh eggs at room temperature
  3. Pour a small amount of whites out prior to lowering into pot.

Cheese Grits

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup stone ground grits
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 TBS cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Bring water, milk and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk grits into the pot. Reduce to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Before serving, add Romano cheese and cream cheese. Stir until melted.

*Link to buy Joe’s Stuff seasoning:

http://store.nosoc.com/joes-stuff-4-5-oz/

You can make your own with salt, dehydrated garlic, paprika and dehydrated onion. I am sure they put some type of secret ingredient in there that I can’t give you.