tex-mex black beans + brown rice with soy chorizo.

Meal prep alert! Vegan, gluten free meal prep alert! This classic side dish turned main dish is easy, filling, healthy and meatless!

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I adapted this recipe from an old recipe from Fine Cooking and made it less of a side dish of rice and beans to a meal-prep worthy entree by the addition of soy chorizo, which I picked up at my local Trader Joes. You can certainly use 12 ounces of ground beef or turkey, shredded pork, or actual chorizo sausage. The soy chorizo was cheap, filling, vegan, and it’s oh-so delicious! I just take it out of the casing and crumble it in with the onion and garlic to saute. This makes about six one cup servings – perfect for work lunches!

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brown rice + black beans with soy chorizo.
adapted from Fine Cooking.

ingredients
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 14-1/2-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes with chiles
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
12 ounces soy chorizo
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

directions
In a small pot, combine the rice with 2 1/4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pan stand, covered, for another 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and set aside.

While the rice cooks, set a fine sieve in a bowl and drain the can of tomatoes. Pour the tomato juices into a 1-cup liquid measure. Add enough water to the tomato juices to equal 1 cup.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and stir-fry the garlic and onion until the garlic and onion become fragrant and slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add the soy chorizo (remove from casing, and crumble), and saute with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add the black beans, tomatoes, salt, cumin, oregano, and chili powder; stir two to three times to incorporate the mixture and cook the spices, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato juice and water mixture and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo and bean mixture absorb a lot of the liquid, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the chorizo and bean mixture to the cooked rice in a large bowl, toss gently to combine, and top with the chopped cilantro. Serve.

Makes 6 1 cup servings. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

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mexican chicken casserole.

Hi everyone! I’m back, and hope everyone is having a wonderful 2019 thus far! We are experiencing crazy weather here, frigidly cold temperatures reaching far below zero with the windchill to nearly sixty degrees just a few days later! We are back with freezing rain and wind today, which leads me to a comforting, Latin spin on lasagna – Mexican chicken casserole! This has the spirit of lasagna, but it is so much easier. Corn tortillas take the place of lasagna noodles, salsa instead of marinara sauce, and we are lightening up the cheese (and calories!) in a big way by using only 2 ounces for the whole casserole. That’s it. Trust me, there is so much flavor going on here that you won’t even miss the cheese. I promise.

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This makes enough for 8 servings, so it’s GREAT for a party, meal prep, and for planning ahead as it’s freezes wonderfully! You may find it a little dry post freezing and reheating, so a little extra salsa, lime juice, or avocado will help. If you prefer meatless, swap black beans in for the chicken!

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Mexican chicken casserole.
adapted from Cooking Light. 

ingredients
6 ounce cooked chicken breast, shredded/chopped
2 ounces jack cheese or mexican blend, grated
2 small zucchini, diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup onion, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced (red/orange)
1 cup roasted corn (frozen)
4 ounce can green chiles
10 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with chiles
1 cup salsa
8 6-inch corn tortillas
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare casserole, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, corn, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 4-6 minutes or until tender. Add chicken, green chiles, diced tomatoes, chile powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and sauté 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.

Spread 1/2 cup salsa over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of tortillas (two whole and two cut in half for each layer works for me) over salsa. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with 1 ounce of each cheese. Repeat layers, starting with remaining tortillas and ending with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes until bubbly and then turn oven up to broiler and broil for one minute.

Let set for 10 minutes, slice into eight squares, and serve.

Serves 8. Please choose organic ingredients as possible.

apple + aged cheddar salad with whole dijon vinaigrette.

I went apple picking with my friend a few weeks ago on a warm early autumn afternoon when the first apples were finally ready to be picked. She and I planned to use up the haul we picked for a variety of apple desserts – pie, crisps, galettes, you name it! When we got back to my house however, we were too tired to embark on a baking project. Instead, I decided to whip up a quick and easy salad with an irresistible mustard vinaigrette.

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This salad is nothing more than chopped celery, sliced crisp apples (empire, macoun, gala, pink lady all work here), crunchy fresh romaine hearts, an aged cheddar of your choice, topped with seared chicken breast (leave off if vegetarian), croutons and a delicious mustard vinaigrette. If you have a blender, the dressing is a breeze! If not, toss all ingredients in a mason jar, secure with a lid, shake vigorously.

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This salad just says ‘fall’ to me. The abundant produce, the cool mornings and shorter days. This salad is equally delicious with a crisp white wine as it is before a mug of hot apple cider. Your choice. Welcome back, autumn. I’ve missed you.

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apple + aged cheddar salad with mustard vinaigrette.

ingredients
2 romaine hearts, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup croutons
1 cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
sea salt and pepper

vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon whole dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
pinch of marjoram
1 teaspoon raw honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons onion, roughly chopped

directions
In a high speed blender, add all ingredients of vinaigrette and blend on high to emulsify.

Add all ingredients except chicken to a large bowl and add 1/3 of dressing and toss gently.  Divide amongst two plates and top with half of chicken to each plate. Add additional dressing if desired.

Serves 2 as an entree. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

 

grapefruit gimlet.

I know, I know. It’s Labor Day, it was 91 degrees outside today, and the markets and farm stands are positively overflowing with bumper crops of squash, tomatoes, peppers, corn, peaches, plums – the list goes on! So, it makes perfect sense that I am sharing a recipe with you that highlights a winter citrus fruit!

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Regardless of the exact wrong time of year to post this, I couldn’t resist the urge! I had a half of a grapefruit hanging out and got a hankering for a gimlet that I could not refuse! I used grapefruit juice supplemented lime juice, but you can use all six ounces of grapefruit juice if you’d like. I supplemented because my grapefruit only made about 4 ounces of juice.

I garnished with fresh mint because I had it laying around and I’m of the firm belief that most everything (especially cocktails!) can be improved with a sprig of fresh mint. Shake these up, strain and pour over ice. Enjoy with some friends; the ideal way to cool off during these last days of summer! Oh, and they’re pretty good during winter, too!

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grapefruit gimlet.

ingredients
10 ounces gin
4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
fresh mint springs, to garnish

directions
Combine all ingredients except for mint in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and pour into rocks glasses filled with ice. Garnish with mint.

Makes 6 cocktails.

 

zucchini with tomatoes + mozzarella.

Could there be a recipe that is more summery than one that consists of zucchini, grilled ever so simply, tossed with fresh, locally grown tomatoes, baby balls of fresh mozzarella, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garnished with basil? I don’t think so. This ‘recipe’ (can it even be called one due to its simplicity?) is everything I want in my late summer produce.

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I dub summer 2018 as the summer I fell head over heels in love. In love with caprese salad, that is. 😉 I’ve always enjoyed it just fine, but over the past few months, I’ve become borderline obsessed. Now that it’s August, and the markets are just bursting with bumper crops of tomatoes of all kinds, it’s caprese time 24/7. No lie, I ate it for breakfast last weekend.

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To keep my seemingly endless salad obsession fresh, I got slightly creative and paired it with some zucchini and yellow summer squash I had that I quickly roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of sea salt. You could easily toss the oiled rounds of sliced squash on the grill for 6-8 minutes, but for some reason, tossing them in the oven for a quick roast seemed easier than heating up my grill pan (although the directions below are for grilling). Grilling them would be peak summertime, and something I would absolutely do if I had an actual outdoor grill. Maybe next summer!

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Grilled squash is wonderful at room temperature, so I would allow them to cool just slightly before you top them with the sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Give the whole platter a drizzle of oil, some balsamic glaze (homemade by reducing the vinegar in a pot for 10-15 minutes until thick and sticky), and some extra salt and pepper. I promise, you won’t be sorry!

zucchini, fresh tomatoes + mozzarella.
adapted from NYT Cooking. 

ingredients
1 pound zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 pound tomatoes (roma, campari, anything that looks good)
1/2 pound baby mozzarella balls, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
balsamic glaze
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt + black pepper

directions

Heat a grill. Brush zucchini rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, until tender and can be pierced with a fork. Alternatively, heat the oven to 450 degrees and roast the zucchini rounds for 10-15 minutes, flipping over once during cooking. Remove from grill or oven and let cool.

On a serving platter, arrange the zucchini. Top with halved cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella, and basil leaves. Season with sea salt, pepper, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

peanut cabbage slaw with herbs + chicken.

Last post, we made chicken with braised cabbage. As cabbage heads are normally HUGE, there is typically always some leftover. With that leftover cabbage, and two of the chicken breasts AND the onions (that I quick pickled!), we have this recipe, which is perfect for lunches! A cabbage slaw tossed in a quick peanut dressing, highlighted with some herbs, and topped with that leftover chicken. So easy and so delicious!

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The dressing uses some of the vinegary pickling liquid, but if you choose to not pickle the red onion, use unseasoned rice vinegar. Here is a great tutorial on pickling red onions – they keep for weeks, and are a great way add a pop of tart flavor to your dishes! The base of this slaw is cabbage and red bell pepper, but I added some sliced cucumber, as I was positively swimming in it! Feel free to add any veggies you have on hand — carrots would be a lovely addition!

If packing for lunches, mix the dressing, add to the bottom of a jar/container, layer with the chicken and then the cabbage slaw. Enjoy!

cabbage slaw with herbs + chicken.
from Buzzfeed Food.

ingredients
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon liquid from pickled onions or rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup pickled red onions
1/2 small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
8 ounces cooked chicken breasts, sliced

directions
In a bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, fish sauce, pickling liquid/fish sauce and olive oil until smooth and well combined. Add cabbage, bell pepper, pickled onions and toss with the dressing until the slaw is well coated.

Divide between two plates and top with chicken. Serves 2.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

pan roasted chicken with braised cabbage.

I’m not sure if it is due to my strong Polish heritage or what, but I LOVE cabbage. It is so versatile, it lasts forever, and it’s a bit of an unsung food hero, in my humble opinion. I also feel like it gets brushed aside in favor for its more trendy cousins, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts, and I love an underdog. Ergo, here we are — where I’ll be showcasing cabbage in two different preparations over the next few days. First up – a braising recipe so easy and quick, it’s perfect for weeknights, or for meal prepping! Pan-roasted chicken with braised cabbage.

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Cabbage lends itself easily to being cooked, where it becomes tender and sweet with minimal effort. Here, we will briefly saute it with some red onion and the leftover marinating liquid, and it gets roasted in the oven with the chicken. The result? Soft, tender leaves punctuated with with the sweet-tangy flavor of the onions, cooked down in the vinegar and fish sauce (<– don’t be afraid… fish sauce is ALL about the savory, umami flavor!). I used chicken breasts that I sliced in half as I prefer their flavor, texture, and lower calorie count. If you prefer, use chicken thighs – if using skin-on, make sure to saute long enough to render out the fat and create a crispy skin.

This is a simple dish with loads of flavor – what could be better?

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pan-roasted chicken with braised cabbage.
from Buzzfeed Food. 

ingredients
4 chicken breasts or breast halves (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 small head of green cabbage, cored and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
sea salt
black pepper

directions
To marinate the chicken, combine the garlic, ginger, vinegar, fish sauce, and olive oil in an air-tight container. Add the chicken and shake everything together. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least an hour, and up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from the marinade; reserve the marinating liquid. Pat the chicken with paper towels to dry and season with sea salt and pepper.

Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat with a teaspoon of oil. Add the chicken and cook, 4-5 minutes per side, until lightly golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet and set them aside. Turn the heat down to medium, add the red onion and saute for about one minute, until the onions begin to soften, about a minute. Add the cabbage, and marinating liquid and stir to ensure the cabbage is coated. Bring to a boil, add the chicken atop the cabbage and place the skillet into the oven to roast for 15-18 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked and the edges of the cabbage are lightly browned.

Divide the cabbage mixture amongst to plates and top with a chicken breast for each. Serves 2, with 2 chicken breast halves leftover.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

 

 

white wine + shallot vinaigrette.

This dressing. I want it on everything. I think it may be my favorite homemade dressing to date. It is SO. GOOD.

I’ve been eating this so simply — spooned over sliced half moons of cucumber; cucumber that I had left over from last week’s pasta salad. I enjoyed that combination so much, I actually went out and bought more cucumbers just for the dressing! YUM.

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This is absurdly simple to make – especially if you have a blender! I tend to mix up my dressings in the blender — usually due to laziness. I don’t have to worry about a perfect mince of the garlic and shallot, and the mustard and honey emulsify beautifully with the whizz of the blender; yielding a thick, almost creamy dressing. If you don’t have a blender or don’t want to dirty it, never fear! Simply toss all the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake vigorously until all the ingredients are combined.

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This is tangy, light, yet super flavorful. It is Italian dressing-esque, but a more delicate flavor, thanks to the white wine vinegar. Feel free to use champagne vinegar in place of the white wine, and red wine in place of the apple cider if that’s what you have on hand. I recommend using a neutral oil; olive will overpower the other flavors. You can also use dijon in place of the whole grain mustard, but I love the bite of the whole grain. Enjoy this tossed with fresh, crisp romaine, in a pasta salad, or, over chopped cucumbers like me!

white wine + shallot vinaigrette.

ingredients
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
2 tablespoons shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons raw honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
scant 1 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed or avocado

directions
In a blender, add all ingredients except the oil. Turn the blender on medium-low, and stream in the oil, increasing the blender speed for 30-45 seconds, allowing the dressing to come together.

Makes about one cup. Keeps for 2 weeks refrigerated.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

roasted sweet potato salad.

People feel really seriously about potato salad. Mayo, or no mayo? (<– NO. Never. Yuck.). Eggs? Chopped pickles? Celery? It can be made a plethora of ways, but for me, the idea of potato salad is almost always better than the reality. I too often find them bland and unappealingly gloppy. Aside from the warm, vinegary German potato salad I grew up on and LOVE, I always tend to be disappointed. HOWEVER. I stumbled upon the idea of a sweet potato salad and was immediately intrigued. You guys. I have your new summer staple picnic salad!

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Yes. This salad combines roasted sweet potatoes with crunch red bell peppers, scallions, roasted frozen(!) corn, dressed in a bright yet lightly sweet honey dijon lime dressing (<– use agave for a vegan dish)! The original recipe I used for inspiration included black beans and cilantro, but I decided to keep it simple and omitted the cilantro simply because it didn’t look good at my grocery store the day I was there. I would also probably skip the cilantro for parties, as many people have a vehement dislike for it. There is so much going on here, you won’t miss it. Promise. 🙂

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As a bonus, this is better the longer it sits as the flavors will be allowed to mingle and marry. Letting it rest for 30 minutes is necessary, but you could make this a day ahead – so convenient for busy schedules! I served this with chicken enchilada meatballs and tortillas, but this would be amazing inside the tortillas for vegan tacos or enchiladas! Enjoy this new warm weather favorite.

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roasted sweet potato salad.
adapted from Averie Cooks.

ingredients
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1.25 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and black pepper (1/2 teaspoon each)
1 cup frozen roasted corn (thawed)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch strips
3-4 scallions (green parts), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon raw honey (agave if vegan)
1/4 teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
pinch of cayenne (optional)

directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss the cubed sweet potatoes with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. On a baking sheet lined with foil and nonstick cooking spray, add the sweet potato. Roast in oven for 30-45 minutes, tossing about halfway through, to ensure even browning. Check potatoes for doneness around the 30 minute mark; they are done when they can be pierced easily with a fork but are not falling apart.

While the potatoes are cooking, slice the red peppers and scallions and add them to a large bowl along with the thawed corn. In a small bowl, whisk together the tablespoon of olive oil, dijon mustard, honey, lime, salt, pepper and cayenne until emulsified.

Once the potatoes are done cooking and at room temperature or slightly warm, add to the bowl with the vegetables, pour the dressing over top and toss gently to combine.

Let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Keeps well for up to 5 days. Serves 4 as a side.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

roasted salmon salad with honey-dijon vinaigrette.

I just showed you how to meal prep salmon, so let’s turn those portions of delicious fish into a delicious workday meal!

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This salad is so simple – just toss some chopped romaine, baby kale, carrots, cucumbers and sliced almonds with an easy honey-dijon vinaigrette and top with the salmon (warmed or not!). As you can see, I used a whole filet to top my salad; that I had warmed slowly in a pan on the stovetop. For work lunches, I recommend flaking some cold salmon atop your salad (store separately from the greens until just ready to eat).

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Not only is this great for meal prepping, it’s also a great ‘clean out’ recipe! Toss whatever vegetables you have into the salad bowl, top with a sprinkling of almonds or walnuts, or even some leftover fresh herbs. Possibilities are endless.

roasted salmon salad with honey dijon vinaigrette.

ingredients
2 salmon filets, cooked
1 romaine heart, chopped
4 cups baby kale
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup mixed vegetables such as cucumber, bell pepper, celery, etc. (optional)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
sea salt and pepper
dressing:
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
dash of sea salt and pepper

directions
In a blender or small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and then whisk in the olive oil until well combined and smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

If serving immediately, toss together all salad ingredients except for the salmon. Divide amongst two plates and toss with 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing (you will have dressing left over). Top with salmon filet each and serve.

To prep: toss together the salad ingredients except the salmon and dressing. In containers, add the salad greens/vegetables. Store salmon separately in an air tight container; same with dressing.

Makes 2 entree-sized salads. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible*