thai sweet chili chicken tenders.

Do you ever have recipes that you saw once upon a time ago, told yourself you’d make it in the near future, and then it sat bookmarked for eons? Just me? Well, today’s recipe takes inspiration from that very scenario! I had a recipe for sweet chili chicken bookmarked FOREVER and when I got an invite to a Spring dinner party, I knew it was time to make them. Never mind our Spring theme turned into an icy pajama party theme, as we were dealing with an ice storm warning. In mid April. I love you, upstate NY!

IMG_6072

You guys. I served these as an appetizer, but they would be perfect for a main dish alongside some asian slaw! These are SO yummy. The heat is super subtle and mild here, but you can up the crushed red pepper for more daring palates.

The secret to these is the refrigerator or ‘resting’ period after you bread them! Seriously. Just like in these fish cakes, resting them is essential and non-negotiable. That sounds harsh, but I want you to have successful tenders!

IMG_6073

Once the breaded chicken bakes, they get a quick dunk in the cooled and thickened sauce (basting them with any extra) and a quick final bake to help the sauce cling and get sticky sweet! Top with some sliced almonds and cilantro and serve! These are a great party appetizer, or serve with the aforementioned slaw or even just steamed jasmine rice.

IMG_6074

thai sweet chili chicken.
adapted from Iowa Girl Eats. (<– as a bonus, her recipe is GF!)

ingredients

1.5 chicken breasts, cut into 1/1.5×1.5/2 inch tenders
2 eggs
2 tablespoons unsweetened nondairy milk
1/2 cup rice flour or all purpose flour
sea salt and pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs (or rice chex, matzo meal)
1/2 cup raw sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

sauce:
1/2 sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

directions
Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray (or brush with oil) and set aside.

In a food processor, add the almonds and process until they are a small crumb and pour into a shallow dish. Add the panko and process until small crumb and add to the almonds, seasoning lightly with sea salt and pepper. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside. In a third shallow bowl, add the rice flour (or AP flour), smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper.

Using the wet hand/dry hand method (only one hand handles the chicken), dip each chicken piece into the flour, shake off excess, and then dunk into the egg mixture, and then into the panko/almond mixture, pressing to ensure the crumbs stick to the chicken. Place each piece onto the prepared sheet pan and once done breading all the chicken, refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes at minimum.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. While chicken is resting, combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucier and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium/medium-low and lightly simmer for 5-7 minutes  until sauce has thickened and reduced slightly.

While the sauce is simmering, spray the tops of the chicken with non-stick cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken over, spray again with cooking spray and bake for an additional 7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and lightly golden brown.

Pour reduced sauce into a wide bowl and then dunk each piece of baked chicken into the sauce using tongs, ensuring to completely coat the chicken piece, and then place each piece back onto the sheet pan, topping with an extra sauce. Bake for 4-5 minutes longer, taking care to ensure the chicken does not burn.

Serve, topped with cilantro and almonds. Serves 8-10 as an appetizer, 4 as an entree.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

Advertisements

sesame-tahini chicken noodles.

This dish. Oh my, you guys, this. dish. More specifically, this sauce. Who knew tahini was so amazing in an Asian-inspired dish?? Chrissy Teigen, that’s who. Yes, this recipes comes from her fabulous cookbook, Cravings, which I bought for my food-loving friend MC. She almost didn’t get it because once I flipped through it, I found about 800 recipes that sounded incredible and that I needed to make. Clearly, I’ll be buying a copy for myself!

IMG_5405

I did however, jot down a few of the recipes to make sooner rather than later, and man, if the rest of the recipes in her book are as good as this one…. I’m a goner.

IMG_5404

This recipe puts a delicious, luscious twist on sesame noodles by including tahini in the dressing. It provides a nutty flavor and thick, smooth sauce. I recommend blending the sauce instead of whisking, to completely puree the garlic and help everything emulsify. Make sure to toss the noodles with the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil to help prevent them from sticking together. To round out the meal, serve with some steamed broccolini, green beans, or bok choy.  To make gluten free, use rice noodles in place of the pasta.

Most importantly: make this. It’s DELICIOUS!

IMG_5406

sesame-tahini chicken noodles.
slightly adapted from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen.

ingredients
sea salt
8 ounces chicken breast
8 ounces dried thin spaghetti/linguine
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup grapeseed or peanut oil
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoons cayenne
1 garlic clove, minced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
steamed chinese broccoli, to serve alongside, optional

directions
Bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil and add a pinch of sea salt. Poach chicken for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked thoroughly, remove to a plate and let cool. Save the poaching liquid and bring it back to a boil if needed. Cook the pasta noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse.

While noodles are cooking, add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil, peanut/grapeseed oil, tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, honey, cayenne and garlic to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a small bowl or jar and set aside.

Transfer noodles to a large bowl and use a clean paper roll to gently pat noodles dry. Toss noodles with remaining sesame oil.

Shred chicken and add to noodles. Add dressing and toss to coat. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Serves 4. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

chicken, tomato + cabbage ditalini soup.

Yes, I’m bringing you another soup. What can I say, my blog is a true reflection of what I actually eat, and I’m eating soup. You would be eating it as well, with single digit temperatures and feet of snow on the ground! And you should, regardless of the weather outside! This is flavorful, filling, healthy, and satisfying, thanks to the addition of pasta in the soup.

IMG_5385

I very rarely use pasta noodles in my soups, but I was craving a ‘noodle soup’, and I’m a frequent visitor to reddit’s r/eatcheapandhealthy subreddit, and they had a thread some months back about favorite soup recipes. So many of them sounded delightful, but there was one in particular that caught my eye: a tomato and cabbage broth-based soup that used ground turkey and orzo, but I swapped in a diced chicken breast and ditalini pasta. Any small, short pasta will work in this, and feel free to use ground turkey or chicken in place of the cooked, diced chicken. You’ll be surprised at how far a single chicken breast and a half cup of dry pasta will go in this veggie-packed soup.

IMG_5384

Serve with a slice of toasted, seeded whole grain bread and enjoy this twist on chicken noodle soup. As a very January-esque bonus, a serving of this soup is under 200 calories! So go ahead, have some bread. 🙂

IMG_5387

chicken + vegetable ditalini soup.
inspired by and adapted from a reddit eatcheapandhealthy subreddit! 

ingredients
1 tablespoon oil
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups savoy or green cabbage, cored and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
28 ounce can stewed tomatoes
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup ditalini pasta, uncooked
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 dried bay leaf

directions
In a 1.5/2 quart pot, heat water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and the chicken breast, and poach until the chicken breast is cooked through, about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breast. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.

In a large dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat the tablespoon of oil and add the onion and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent browning. Add the cabbage, salt, basil and turmeric and stir, allowing the spices to become fragrant and coat the onions, garlic and cabbage. Cook for 2 minutes further until the cabbage begins to soften and the onions are translucent.

Add the stewed tomatoes (undrained), chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken and bring to a boil. Add the ditalini pasta and reduce to a simmer (medium/medium-low), stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot and cook for 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked through. Remove the bay leaf and add the pepper. Stir, taste to add more salt if desired.

Serve immediately or allow to continue to cook on very low until ready to serve. Freezes well.

Serves 6.

hoisin chicken stir fry with sweet potatoes + cabbage.

During these busy days of December, I rely on recipes that are super quick to whip up so I can save myself from an unhealthy meal on-the-go while running seemingly endless errands for the upcoming holidays. This hoisin-spiced stir fry definitely fits the bill of fast, simple, healthy, and oh-so-delicious!

IMG_5250

I normally dislike when hoisin sauce (essentially a Chinese barbecue sauce) is a major ingredient: I find that on its own, the flavor is overpowering for me. However, mixed with the sesame oil, ginger, garlic, a pinch of red pepper flake and the vegetables: the finished dish was aromatic, complex and balanced.

IMG_5251

The longest part of this dish is the cooking of the sweet potatoes: covering the skillet partially and slicing them relatively thin is essential to keeping the cook time under 12 minutes. Adding a splash of water helps prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan and avoiding too much browning. Once that’s done, the rest of the cooking comes together in no time flat.

I think you’ll love this creative take on a stir-fry as much as I did! It’s wonderful for using up leftover produce – as a bonus, cabbage, celery and sweet potatoes last forever in the fridge and pantry, so this is easy to whip up any time!

hoisin spiced chicken stir-fry with sweet potatoes.

ingredients
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, then cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped into half moons
8 ounces skinless boneless chicken, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 cups green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 1/4 medium head)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
pinch of crushed red pepper, optional

directions
Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes and onion; stir-fry until yams are just tender, adjusting heat if browning too quickly and adding water by tablespoonfuls if mixture is dry, about 12 minutes. Remove vegetable mixture from the pan, set aside on a plate.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add chicken, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry 3-4 minutes. Add cabbage; stirfry until chicken is cooked through and cabbage is wilted but still slightly crunchy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in hoisin sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in 1/2 cup cilantro.

Transfer stir-fry to serving bowl; sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

Serves 4. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

clean-out the refrigerator stir fry.

What a title, eh? Along with soups, curries, frittatas, and salads, stir-fries are another wonderful way to use up all those odds and ends in your refrigerator. They are especially forgiving to vegetables.

IMG_4762.JPG

During my market shopping, I picked up a few red bell peppers because, well, why not? I figured I’d use them one way or another. When it became clear that I was going to have one leftover or go to waste if I didn’t act quickly, I soon decided to throw together a stir fry featuring that bell pepper, kale, carrots, and celery from last week’s market haul that needed to be used up before going bad, and topping it off with some leftover cooked chicken from a dinner party I had on Saturday. I had both rice noodles and brown rice in my pantry, and decided to go with rice, although you could use whatever your heart or pantry desires!

IMG_4763

The most important thing to remember is use what you have, and to add them to the wok or pan in order, starting with the vegetables that will take the longest to cook: carrots and onions, in my case. If using leafy greens like me (bok choy, spinach, etc.), I like to add them when I add the sauce, just to let them wilt a bit. The sauce I’m using is a very simple, all-purpose stir fry sauce, and it can be modified to your liking. I don’t add garlic or ginger to this sauce, instead I fry them in the oil at the beginning of the cooking process to infuse the oil. Garlic, ginger and jalapeño in my case, but you could use a combination of all three, or sub in scallions if you’ve got those to use. The addition of the cornstarch makes the sauce thick and glossy, and you’ll be hard pressed to believe that you aren’t eating takeout!

To make this dish gluten free, please sub dark and regular soy sauce with tamari which is naturally GF, and be use to use a GF cornstarch (you can also just leave it out, but the sauce will not be as thick).

IMG_4767

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do; you can feel especially good about not wasting food while making such a delicious dish!

refrigerator clean-out stir fry. 

ingredients
4 cups mixed vegetables, sorted by vegetable (I used onion, carrot, celery, red bell pepper, kale)
6 ounces cooked chicken or other leftover protein, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil + 1 teaspoon sesame oil

stir fry sauce:
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (use all regular, low sodium if you do not have dark soy)
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1.5 teaspoons brown or coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper

2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

directions
Heat grapeseed and sesame oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat.

While the oil is heating, make the sauce: Add together the soy sauces, oyster sauce, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine and dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside.

Once oil is shiny but not smoking, add the ginger, garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes, until the oil is fragrant but the ingredients are not burned. Add the vegetables in order of thickness/hardiness (carrots, onion, celery first for me) and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the bell pepper and any other vegetables besides greens and cook for an additional minute.

Add the cooked protein, greens and scant 1/4 cup of the sauce with 1/4 cup water. Stirring frequently, allow the mixture to cook and thicken up over 2-3 minutes (reduce heat if the mixture is thickening too quickly/starting to boil).

Remove from pan to a serving platter along with cooked rice. Garnish with sesame seeds and/or peanuts if desired.

Serves 3-4.

NOTES: The stir fry sauce recipe will make more than you need for this recipe. Store the remainder in the refrigerator, and it will keep well for up to four weeks.

chicken egg roll bowls.

Egg rolls are one of my most favorite guilty pleasures. I cannot get Chinese take out without getting an order of those crispy, fried delights. Even bad egg rolls are good egg rolls. When they’re crazy good? They should be illegal. At least the calorie count (which can top 800 calories!) should be illegal. What do I do when the craving hits and I still want to be able to wear my crop tops and fitted dresses with confidence? Delicious egg roll bowls!

IMG_4434

That’s right; we are forgoing the deep fried won ton wrapper in favor of a super flavorful  mixture of ground lean chicken, cabbage and other aromatic vegetables that tastes exactly like an egg roll! If you want to be even more authentic, use ground pork in place of the chicken; I just wanted an extra-lean dish. To make this paleo-friendly, use coconut aminos in place of the dark and light soy. To make this gluten free, swap in tamari or coconut aminos for the soy sauces.

I garnished with fresh cilantro leaves, but you could top with sliced scallions, crushed peanuts or sliced almonds, or those crispy Chinese noodles if you want a little hint of decadence. 🙂 Top with sriracha if you so please, and enjoy this guilt free dinner that will be on your plate in less than 20 minutes!

IMG_4433

chicken egg roll bowls.
adapted from Whole New Mom.

ingredients
1 pound lean ground chicken
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
16 ounce bag shredded coleslaw mix OR 6 cups shredded green cabbage and 2 cups shredded carrots
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon reserved
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine) or dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of coconut palm sugar (1/8 teaspoon) optional
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sliced scallions, to garnish
sriracha, for serving

directions
Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat with one tablespoon of olive or grapeseed oil. Add ground chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and cooked through. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and saute for 1-2 minutes until the onions become mildly translucent and soft. Add cabbage, carrots, light and dark soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sugar if using. Combine together to allow sauce to distribute and cook for 7-10 minutes longer on medium heat, allowing the sauce to thicken and the vegetables to soften. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Plate, and add cilantro and scallions. Top with sriracha if desired. Serves 6.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

 

light chinese chicken salad with sesame ginger vinaigrette.

It seems ubiquitous that my 100th post(!) is a salad. I suppose it would be completely appropriate if my salad was lemon-themed, but let’s face it, I am just not that organized, and lemons were not in my meal plan this week, aside from my daily warm lemon water routine (<– SO good for you!).

IMG_3492

However, today’s recipe is a salad of Asian inspiration, which is fitting, seeing as Asian flavors are ones that I never, ever tire of. Do you have flavors/cuisines like that? Even with the copious and frankly embarrassing amounts of ginger I consume on a weekly basis, I can never get enough. So I bring you a light and healthy Chinese chicken salad. I don’t think this recipe is authentically Chinese in any realm, but these salads have enjoyed massive popularity for years. Sadly, most restaurant versions are positively laden with sodium and fat, and before you know it, your “healthy” meal has turned into a calorie bomb. No thank you.

IMG_3490

Here, we are grilling our lean chicken breasts (you can use boneless, skinless thigh meat if that’s what you prefer), throwing tons of delicious veggies into our salad, and topping off with a delicious dressing that is rich, thanks to the sesame oil, but not cloying at all. Sliced, roasted almonds provide the crunch factor, and provide us with healthy fats which keep us fuller, longer. This is one recipe I can make over and over again, and never tire of. I hope it’ll do the same for you!

IMG_3491

light + healthy chinese chicken salad.
inspired by many of the Chinese chicken salads I’ve had over the years. 

1 heart of romaine, chopped
2 cups savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup roasted, sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded
sea salt and black pepper

dressing:
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari, or gluten free soy sauce
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

directions
To make the dressing: combine all ingredients except oil into a blender. With the blender on medium, stream in the tablespoon of oil to emulsify. Pour into a container and set aside.

To cook chicken: Turn the grill, grill pan or heavy cast iron skillet onto/over medium-high. Season chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. If using a grill pan or skillet, add in one teaspoon of grapeseed oil to the pan to heat. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove to a platter, and cut into thin slices.

To assemble salad: In a large mixing bowl add cabbage, lettuce, carrots, red bell pepper, cilantro, almonds and sesame seeds. Add half the dressing, and lightly toss. Top with chicken and additional dressing if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish salads.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

thai chicken noodles with red peppers + basil.

Happy Thursday! This week sure has seemed long, hasn’t it? I’ve had a series of deadlines and deliverables looming over me, both at work and for school, so my free time has been greatly reduced. Who needs to sleep??

While amounts of sleep may be variable, the need to eat certainly is not! I know we all need  easy dishes that come together quickly and stay delicious for next day lunches. Today’s recipe is just that: a rice noodle dish positively loaded with veggies and protein to keep you full and satisfied through the most stressful of days. I’m not sure how authentically Thai this dish is, but I promise you it is positively delicious!

IMG_3416

I like the thin brown rice noodles for this, often called ‘stir fry’ noodles at the grocery store. The brown rice adds additional whole grains and fiber, but if you cannot find, simply substitute white ones. I let them soak until they are just shy of soft, as they will cook a bit in the wok, and continue to soften as they sit. Six ounces of baby spinach (weight) may seem like a lot, but it wilts quickly and you’ll be surprised at how much it cooks down.

Serve with some sake, or a crisp white wine, and congratulate yourself on cooking a healthy, filling meal in less time than it takes to order takeout!

IMG_3417

thai chicken noodles with red peppers + basil.
a ‘PTL’ original. 

directions
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh, minced ginger
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
3 scallions, sliced
1/2-3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
6 ounces baby spinach
1/3 cup fresh basil, minced
1 lime, juiced
8 ounces thin brown or white rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
sea salt and black pepper, if desired (optional)

directions
Heat oil in wok over high heat.  Stir fry chicken for 3-4 minutes, or until no longer pink.

Add bell peppers, ginger, and garlic; sauté until peppers just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add green onions; toss 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, lime juice and crushed red pepper.

Toss to blend, about 1 minute. Add thai rice noodles. Add spinach in 3 additions, tossing until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute for each addition. Mix in basil. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Toss consistently, to prevent the noodles from sticking.

Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

chicken parmesan stuffed peppers.

Do you ever get an idea in your head and it will. not. go. away. until you make it?? That is today’s recipe for me. A colleague brought in leftover stuffed peppers (mmmmmm) a few weeks ago for lunch, and an idea suddenly popped in my head: chicken parmesan stuffed peppers. Sounds delicious, right? Well, I thought so too, so I looked around on the internet and the few recipes I could find weren’t calling out to me, so I decided to create them. If I do say so myself, these are a winner.

IMG_3398

IMG_3396

Inside of frying the chicken a la chicken parm, I decided to impart that crispy crunchiness by topping the peppers with a whole wheat panko, cheese and parsley topping. Delicious, and a great way to cut down on calories. We are using whole wheat orzo pasta in the filling, but feel free to use regular orzo pasta. I also found these super cute teeny tiny little fresh mozzarella balls, but any small fresh mozzarella will work for this. Mine were about 1/2 inch big, but you could always buy a big ball of it, and cut it down. That would probably be more economical, but hey, I was all about convenience, and cuteness.

IMG_3397

IMG_3395

This recipe seems long, but it’s really just cooking each component, adding them together, and then assembling the peppers. Beautiful! My friend James and I devoured these the night I made them. The recipe makes five as written, and three of my peppers were on the smaller side. One big one was almost too much. As with many casserole type dishes, these get better the next day.

A portable, healthy way to get my chicken parmesan craving? yes, please!

chicken parmesan stuffed peppers.
a ‘PTL’ original recipe. 

ingredients
12-15 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached or roasted, shredded or cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
scant one cup whole wheat orzo, cooked
5 assorted bell peppers, tops cut off, seeded, tops reserved and diced (preferably red/orange/yellow)
1/2 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup fresh baby mozzarella balls
1 1/2 cups jarred marinana sauce, 1/2 cup reserved
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

topping:
1/3 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
sea salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon each)
5 baby mozzarella balls (optional)
fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an oval 2 quart dish, add cut peppers, standing up to the dish. Cover with foil, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes to slightly soften the peppers. Remove dish and let cool. Set aside.

To cook the chicken: Heat a deep skillet with one tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, cover and let cook for 20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from heat, let cook for 3-5 minutes, and then shred or cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat a pot with boiling water and cook orzo to package directions for al dente. Remove, strain, and then add cooled orzo to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Make the panko topping: combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and salt and pepper. Toss together with a fork.

While orzo is cooking, heat a small skillet over medium high heat with remaining tablespoon of oil. Add diced onion, diced pepper tops, and garlic to skillet and cook, stirring often for 5-7 minutes, until slightly softened and lightly charred. Remove and add to mixing bowl. Add cooked, chopped chicken, marinara sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, basil and crushed red pepper is using. Lightly toss. Add baby mozzarella balls and lightly toss again.

Using a spoon, carefully fill each pepper with filling to the top of the pepper. Add a small spoonful of sauce to each top, and spoon the remaining sauce around the peppers in the casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to assess softening of peppers. Once peppers “give” a little (about 45 minutes), remove foil, add the panko topping, and top each pepper with remaining mozzarella ball. Turn the oven to the broil setting, and broil for 3-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them to ensure no burning.

Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes. Serve, topped with ribbons of basil.

Serves 5.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats.

I know this is my second zucchini recipe in a row, but if you’re anything like me, you are positively overflowing with zucchini right now. I tell you, every summer! My grandmother gifted me with a few from her garden, and while most of them were of normal size, there was one gigantic squash. I stuck it in the refrigerator while I waited for inspiration to strike. I had just made cookies, so I didn’t want to use it for another baked good. I wanted to use the whole thing in one dish, so I decided on stuffed zucchini, or zucchini ‘boats’! I decided to play around with the flavors for this recipe, and went with Mexican flavors.

IMG_2411

Stuffed with Tex-Mex spiced ground chicken, hearty healthy black beans, and rounded out with some extra vegetables, and we have a very healthy take on tacos!

image

Naturally gluten free, the filling is chock full of protein, thanks to the black beans and lean ground chicken. If you’re avoiding dairy, just omit the jack cheese and the cotija.

Now I had a huge squash, so a quarter of the squash would serve on person. If you have normal sized zucchinis, you can plan on one half per person for a medium sized one, or two halves for a small squash. This comes together quickly and is so incredibly filling!

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats. 

IMG_2412

ingredients
2 large or 4 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise with seeds scooped out
1/2 pound ground chicken
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup of zucchini, diced
1.5 tablespoons of taco seasoning (homemade or purchased)
1 10 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes with chiles
1/4 cup of salsa, plus extra for serving
monterey jack cheese, for serving
cotija cheese, for serving
cilantro, for serving
sea salt
black pepper

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly spray each zucchini half. Place skin side up and bake for 10-15 minutes, until just slightly softened. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of grapeseed oil. Once the oil is shimmery and hot, add the chicken. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to soften. Add your taco seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Add in bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add in fire roasted tomatoes with chiles and salsa. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer softly until everything is heated through and the flavors combine (about 5 additional minutes).

To assemble: Divide the chicken mixture evenly amongst the zucchini boats, top with desired melting cheese (NOT cotija) and put into the oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve, topping with cotija and cilantro. Serve with additional salsa if desired.

Serves 4.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**