Homemade Crockpot Chicken Stock

Chicken stock in a crockpotChicken stock is a blessing to the food world. It makes rice and pasta taste amazing, is essential to risotto and soups, and when you’re sick, it’s so good for your recovering body. Especially if your chicken stock is homemade. Homemade bone broth is soothing, flavorful, and SO GOOD FOR YOU. If you haven’t before, I highly suggest you take a quick browse online and read about the benefits of bone broth! Thankfully, homemade chicken stock is so easy to make. This is important to me because all of the stock options (at least that I’ve seen) sold in grocery stores have celery, potato, carrot, AND/or corn-derived ingredients.

Fortunately, with a carcass from a Roasted Chicken Dinner, a few vegetables, and a crockpot, we can make something that is healthier and tastes infinitely better than any grocery store product. Continue reading

Noodle Bowl with Swiss Chard and Poached Egg

Noodle bowl with broken poached eggNoodle bowls are my latest obsession. I’m not sure why I jumped on this bandwagon after wintertime (i.e. soup weather) ended, but it might be because these soothing, one-bowl meals are never too heavy or filling, and therefore are perfect for all seasons. A steamy bowl of whole wheat noodles, sautéed mushrooms, and barely cooked greens floating in rich homemade chicken stock loudly screams “comfort food!” to me. But not too loud, because that’s disruptive and not at all comfortable… Instead of screaming I think it wraps its warm soup hands around my belly and just murmurs “comfort food.” Yeahhh… Continue reading

Healthy Spinach Turkey Burgers with Gouda

Turkey burger lunch

It’s funny, although I love healthy eating and am not a big sandwich fan, sometimes during the week, especially at lunch, I get a solid craving for a thick, juicy burger. I usually try to ignore it and satisfy myself with whatever nutritious lunch I packed that day, but over time the itch gets so unbearable that I usually end up breaking and splurge on a greasy burger laden with mushrooms and bacon and cheese and all sorts of other glorious things. Yes, I’m weak. But the first step is acceptance. 🙂 Well, this week I decided that all of that was going to be different. This week, I would still pack healthy lunches, but would also ease my burger craving before it even came to destroy me. Continue reading

Super Mason Jar “Salads”

Super mason jar salads 1I’m always looking for creative, healthy lunches for the work week. I can’t quite get with the traditional sandwiches and wraps, and I could never find a way to make salads that lasted throughout the week, were easy to pack in the mornings, and that I looked forward to enjoying at lunch time!

However, all of this changed when I stumbled across this post on Pinterest. Inspired by the Vintage Mixer, I decided to emulate the popular to-go lunch trend of mason jar salads, but instead of cucumbers, chicken, and lettuce, use cooked, nutritional powerhouse veggies and quinoa! Then I’d have vegetarian lunches with high vitamin content that contained some of my favorite sides combined into a salad. I was so excited to begin. A half day of prep and cooking later (and quite a bit of nibbling along the way), I had six “salads” for a nourishing week of ready-to-go lunches! Continue reading

Spinach & Mushroom Orecchiette with Bay Scallops

20140227-213205.jpgFirst off, I want to apologize that it has been so long since I last posted. Guess who finally got a social life?! Yes, my friends, it’s true. My introverted self has been challenged to actually be around real live people. gasp. How terrifying! But I am enjoying it. Sadly, that does translate to less time for cooking and blogging! But, I am learning balance, and promise to try to not leave for so long again.

I bring to you today another scallops dish.
If I only I could explain the sweet, guilty pleasure that comes from eating something you thought you were allergic to your entire life! Every time I eat scallops or clams, I still can’t believe that I’m eating seafood with no reaction! (Still haven’t gotten the guts to try tuna yet…)

But since my discovery of legal seafood, I’ve fallen in love with scallops. The tender, flavorful, decadent seafood pairs well with so many different things. And they cook up in just minutes! Continue reading

Chicken Curry with Butternut Squash Curry Sauce and Lime Rice

20140121-162127.jpgI love curried food. Vegetables, meats, rice… I love all of it. Unfortunately, most curry sauces use tomatoes, potatoes, and/or carrots, which are all on my allergy list. This month, however, I vowed that I was going to make and enjoy chicken curry that was allergen-free. I created this recipe last week, and can I just say, I am beyond thrilled at the result! This chicken curry is easily on par with what I used to enjoy before discovering my allergies.

Now it is true that things taste better when you know the thought and work that went into making them, and I have been deprived for so long, I was just so happy to taste these flavors again. So I recognize that my opinion is probably biased! But you try it and let me know what you think!

Like most of my recipes, you don’t have to be allergic to certain foods to make this, and it’s not lacking any flavor just because they are made without “normal” ingredients. The chicken is juicy and tender and the sauce is creamy and uber flavorful! Lime rice is truly the perfect accompaniment; so much better than plain old normal rice! (I didn’t have any, but some fresh cilantro would be delicious to add to the rice! If you go this route, add it after cooking the rice.) And an additional plus, all of these ingredients are good for you! The butternut squash sauce is a great way to sneak in extra vegetables.

Please forgive me for the lack of photos below; I made this dish on the fly. And although it’s not beautiful, it sure tastes fantastic. I hope you enjoy this dish just as much as I do!

Chicken Curry with Butternut Squash Curry Sauce and Lime Rice

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the chicken:
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. curry
2 tsp. coriander
salt and ground black pepper

For the sauce:
1 1/2 c. butternut squash, cubed (how to peel and cut butternut squash here)
1 c. water
4 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tbs. curry
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 c. plain greek yogurt

For the rice:
1 1/2 c. jasmine rice
3 c. water
1 lime, juice and zest

In a large pan, heat the olive oil until it’s shimmery. When the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs to the pan on at a time. Sprinkle the curry and coriander over the meat, and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Don’t worry about the seasonings being too even or pretty because we’re going to chop these babies up later. Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes on each side.

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While the chicken is cooking, in a medium sized pot add all of the ingredients for the sauce, except the Greek yogurt. On low heat, cook the ingredients until the butternut squash is soft and can easily be pierced with a fork. Let it cool for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse a few times. I wanted my sauce to be smooth with a few chunks, but you can blend yours as much or as little as you want.

Once your chicken is done cooking, turn off the stove and remove the chicken from the pan. Cut the thighs into bite sized chunks and add the pieces to a large bowl. Spoon the butternut squash sauce over the chicken pieces and add the plain Greek yogurt. Stir gently until the chicken is thoroughly coated.

For the rice: In a medium sized pot, add the rice and water. Cook on medium high heat until it reaches a boil. Then turn down the heat to medium low and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water and is soft and fluffy. Remove from heat. Squeeze the lime juice into the rice and stir in the lime zest.

Serve the chicken over the rice and enjoy!

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How to Cook Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is an inexpensive, delicious, vitamin-filled winter vegetable, best enjoyed roasted (as many other winter veggies). However, this vegetable may seem a bit intimidating to tackle if it is bought whole. But this should never keep you from enjoying its goodness!

Below are step-by-step instructions with pictures to peel, cut, and roast butternut squash. Soon to come, a recipe featuring roasted butternut squash!

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel your butternut squash with a peeler or paring knife. Cut off the top and bottom and cut the whole squash in half.

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      2. With a metal spoon, scrape out the stringy insides and seeds in the bulb part of the squash.

butternut coll      3. Place the flat side of the squash down on your cutting board and cut slices or “rings” about 3/4″ across. Then cut your slices into square chunks.

Note: I only used half the squash to make about 5 servings. If you are making it for a large group, use the whole squash. Otherwise, lightly spray a baking sheet, lay the squash cubes in a single layer on it, and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, store them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.

20140107-221024.jpg     4. In a large bowl, add the butternut squash cubes, 1 1/2 tbl. olive oil, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1-2 tbl. brown sugar. Add any additional seasonings you like (fresh thyme, paprika, cinnamon, and sage are all great to try with butternut squash. Not necessarily all at once though!) and stir to coat. Spread in an even layer on a foil covered baking sheet.

20140107-221032.jpg     5. Roast at 425 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes.

Enjoy as a delicious side, and stay tuned for butternut squash featured in curry!butternut r

Sick Boyfriend Chicken Soup

soup2 crPoor boyfriend called me up last night to say he still wanted to come over today but he wasn’t feeling well. Although I was sad my man was sick, I was excited to create a nutritious, yummy, comforting chicken soup to make him feel better! This soup only takes a little bit of chopping, and can be modified with whatever you have in your kitchen. Mine features great (and allergy-legal) winter vegetables, fresh herbs, and chicken thighs that remain tender simmered in the tasty broth.

This healthy chicken soup feels and tastes so good, and is perfect for whoever in your life is sick (including yourself)! I present to you: Sick Boyfriend Chicken Soup.

Sick Boyfriend Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 in. chunks
1 c. chopped shiitake mushrooms
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
2 medium sized parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig oregano
3 sprigs thyme
3 1/2 c. water
1/3 c. cream (optional)

Saute the chicken cubes in a skillet with olive oil until lightly browned on the outside. If necessary, do this in two batches so that the chicken gets browned and not steamed. Move the chicken to a Dutch oven. Saute the mushrooms in the same skillet until lightly browned as well. Add the sauteed mushrooms, other vegetables, and herbs to the Dutch oven.

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Pour 1 cup of water into the skillet and deglaze it. This means gently stir the water around the pan, scraping the bottom, to get up all the crispy pieces on the bottom and to mix in with the leftover flavorings. Pour this water, the additional 2 1/2 cups of water, and the (optional) cream into the Dutch oven.

20131231-184426.jpgPut a lid on your pot (loosely, so steam can escape) and cook on medium-low heat for 1 1/2 hours.

Spoon into bowls and, if desired, top with Parmesan cheese. Serve with tea to your poor sick loved one.

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I accompanied this soup with Homemade Dinner Rolls. I am in love with these soft, tender rolls!

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Best wishes for a well and healthy body, and a Happy New Year!

Lentil Soup

Nearly every weekend, one of the items on my To Do list is to make lunch for the upcoming week. I never have time in the morning (and I never make time in the evening) to make lunch for the day. It is so much easier to just have it all pre-packaged at the beginning of the week so that all I have to do in the morning is grab a container on my way out the door.

For my first allergen-free lunch-for-the-week, I looked in my pantry to see what allergy legal lunch items I had. Lo and behold, something simple, super quick, and oh-so-easy! Lentils! And I had just discovered on Delphi Forums that Trader Joe’s jasmine rice is confirmed corn-free, and I knew it would go perfectly with the lentil soup.

Lentil Soup

Unfortunately, I’m used to cooking every other type of bean except lentils, so without reading the package first, I rinsed and dumped the entire bag into my dutch oven! You do not need to replicate my silly mistake. Follow the directions on the package and cook 1 cup of dry lentils.

1 c. dry lentils
5 c. water
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic (being Cuban, I LOVE garlic, so adjust your amount of garlic to taste)
1 large onion, peeled
1 medium sized carrot, washed
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
dash of olive oil

Jasmine Rice

1 c. Trader Joe’s jasmine rice
2 c. water
dash of olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

Rinse your lentils in a wire mesh sieve a few times. Add the rinsed beans and water to a Dutch oven.

Chop your carrot and onion. These pieces can be relatively large and rough. Throw those pieces into a food processor with the garlic and process until all the ingredients are diced well. Add your diced vegetables, a generous dash of olive oil, and ground black pepper to the Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil, then turn down to medium-low and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt to taste.

About halfway through the cooking time for the beans, add 1 cup jasmine rice, 2 cups of water, a dash of olive oil, and sea salt to a pot. Cook on medium-high heat until it reaches a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, stirring often.

Add rice to a bowl and top with lentils, or package in individual containers for lunch. Make sure you get enough of that delicious lentil broth!