Sweet and Sour Chicken

image2I’ve worked at many different restaurants ever since I was 16 and boy have I learned A LOT! My first dinner I ever made was a penne ala vodka that was inspired from one of the restaurants I worked at. Although our diets have changed from the heavy cream sauces and pasta–I have found an alternative that I will be sharing at some point of a dairy and gluten free version. Anyways… Last summer I worked at at Asian fusion restaurant.This summer I was inspired to use various Asian flavors without compromising my food “morals”. This recipe is full of flavor, sweet and sour, without a bunch of hidden additives or preservatives. I was nervous to taste this once I made it because I’ve made plenty of “copy-cat” recipes that aren’t nearly as tasty as take-out. You just have to trust me, this is a good one. My husband, who isn’t a big fan of Asian food loved it. And I loved it…someone who is a BIG fan of Asian food. Bottom line…it’s a crowd pleaser! I’ve added a few optional ingredients that I used and you’ll see that from my picture.

Ingredients:
Chicken:
1 lb. chicken breast
2 eggs
3/4 cup tapioca flour
salt and pepper
1/2 coconut oil

Sauce:
1/2 cup honey
5 tbsp coconut amino
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Optional:
red pepper
scallions
sesame seeds
red pepper flakes

Directions:
1. Prepare the sauce by mixing together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
2. Cube the chicken breast and sprinkle with salt and pepper, set aside.
3. Heat coconut oil in a large wok or skillet over medium heat.
4. Beat the egg and place in a bowl.
5. In another bowl, place the tapioca starch.
6. Dip the chicken in the egg then the tapioca starch. .Do until all chicken is properly coated.
7. Fry the chicken in the coconut oil until all sides are brown and the chicken is cooked. Don’t over crowd the wok/skillet. Drain any oil left over.
8. Add the sauce to the wok/skillet until boiling then reduce to simmer about 10 minutes. If you want to add red pepper, add now while the sauce and chicken is simmering.
9. Top with scallions, red pepper flakes or sesame seeds if desired. Plate and enjoy! Serve with cauliflower rice, brown rice, or mixed vegetables.

 

Loaded Grilled Chicken

 

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Can you smell the grill???? It’s that time of the year again!!! I’m so excited to have the spring weather and spring food! It doesn’t come to many as a surprise that many tend to eat healthier in the warmer weather. Grilling is such a great way to cook delicious food without excess oil, butter, or other fattening additives that we tend to use when we saute or fry. This recipe is great because you can have it started and finished in 20 minutes! I’ve timed it! Fresh herbs are great this time of year and, if you’re like me, you’ll grow them right on your front porch and have them whenever you like! Top this chicken with some fresh parsley or basil to give it a fresh wake up!

Ingredients:
1 1/2-2 lbs. chicken breast, boneless skinless
10 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. bacon, chopped
1 leek, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Season chicken with a generous amount of salt and pepper and grill chicken on prepared grill.
2. Cook bacon over stove top until done in a medium skillet. Remove most of the bacon fat, leaving just enough to saute the mushrooms and leek. Remove bacon from skillet.Cook the mushrooms and leeks until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Return the bacon to the skillet and cook for a minute longer to let the flavors combine.
3. Top the cooked, grilled chicken with vegetables and bacon. Add fresh herbs if desired or fresh lemon juice.
Enjoy:)

Braised Beef Short Ribs

 

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Ingredients:
2 lbs beef short ribs
1 1/2 cups good red wine
1 cup organic beef broth
2 tbsp organic tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 springs rosemary
1 yellow onion, sliced
olive oil for sauteing
salt and pepper

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on high heat for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper on all sides of the short ribs. Brown in the dutch oven on all sides. Set aside.
2.Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the dutch oven. Add onions and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until slightly tender.
3. Add the minced garlic to the dutch oven, stirring constantly to be sure not to burn the garlic, about 1 minute.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir until onions and garlic are coated.
5. Return the short ribs to the dutch oven along with the wine, beef broth and rosemary.
5. Cover and cook in preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours.
6. Serve with rice, potatoes, or roasted vegetables.

Chicken Piccata

I can thank my mother for the inspiration for this recipe. She was making this one day when I was over and just one taste of it made me plan out this recipe. I love love love lemon! Being pregnant, I’ve come to really enjoy foods with strong flavors, especially vinegar and lemon (I guess a commonality among pregnant women). The crunchy outside of the chicken with the tart sauce all accompanied with a starch is such a great combo. This dinner can be served all year around, it’s light enough for a summer meal but still is hearty for the winter. Since we are finally enjoying spring weather (did I stress the word finally?) I think this is perfect for this time of year. I’m not a huge fan of capers so I want you to know you can make this without these briney little fellows should you be like me. Because of my pregnancy, I actually don’t mind them at all and enjoyed having them along for the ride.

I served this with rice but would suggest pasta or roasted potatoes. You can add some color to this dish by incorporating greens (spinach or kale) or just serve a side of vegetables, which is what I did the last time I made this.

I have been experimenting with gee and you could substitute the coconut oil for gee. If you want a nice golden color for your chicken, gee works better than coconut oil. For all my dairy free eaters, obviously the coconut oil is your best bet.

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Ingredients:

3 boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut in half and pounded thin

Salt and pepper

½ cup almond flour

6 tablespoons coconut oil

⅓ cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup chicken stock

¼ cup brined capers,rinsed

Fresh parsley chopped

 

Directions:

  1. After preparing the chicken, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the almond flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the coconut oil for 2-3 minutes or until the oil is hot.
  3. Add chicken in a single layer to cook for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Depending on how thin your chicken is, your chicken should be done. If not, cook for an additional minute or two until chicken is fully cooked.
  4. Remove all chicken from the skillet and set aside. In the skillet, add the lemon juice, chicken stock, and capers. Bring to a boil, scraping any chicken pieces from the bottom of the pan to the sauce.
  5. Return the chicken to the skillet and bring to a boil, cooking for 1-2 minutes longer. Add fresh parsley and serve.

Garlic Paprika Chicken Legs

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Since I’m quickly approaching the last month of pregnancy, you get to hear all the wonderful excitement that’s flooding through our house! I cannot believe May 9th is so close. With all the excitement of nearing the end of my pregnancy comes exhaustion and down right laziness…especially when it comes to cooking. I go through phases where I love cooking and enjoy it so much and have an abundance (well maybe not abundance) of energy. Then there are days when we decide to go out and skip the prep, cooking, and cleaning of dinner. This recipe is great! It has minimal clean up and prep work. I love a recipe that I can start when I walk in from work and then leave it to bake. Low maintenance is KEY! Steam up some broccoli, put a pot of rice on, or reheat leftover sweet potatoes from the night before and you’ve got your side covered!
I went though a phase where I was buying chicken legs once a week. I loved the tender chicken that would nearly melt in your mouth after baking in the oven. I’ve always been a fan of chicken wings, but yet again, would often run into an issue after eating them. The heavy sauce, deep fried grease, and low quality chicken made me feel gross after eating. These garlic paprika chicken legs are much healthier without compromising taste. I hope you’ll enjoy this EASY week night dinner as much as I do!
Ingredients:
6 chicken legs
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. smoked paprika (you can use other paprika…I just love the smoked)
1/2 lemon juiced
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a small sauce pan, add oil and minced garlic. Cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant. Turn off heat and stir in smoked paprika. Let cool slightly.
3. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over chicken legs and place in a 9×13 pan.
4. Add oil mixture to the chicken legs, being sure the mixture coats all the parts of the chicken.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn chicken and spoon sauce over chicken.
6. Broil on high for 5 minutes.
7. Add lemon juice over the chicken legs before serving.
Serve with rice or vegetables.

Kale Salad with Cod

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I know this isn’t a very wintery recipe, but I crave fresh light meals once in a while! Don’t get me wrong, I do love my hearty comfort foods, but this is a nice change. I tweaked this a few times until I liked the combo of vegetables and the tangy-ness of the dressing. I do want to advise you to use wild caught and American fish. Fish is one of those things that sound healthy, but often will have sneaky additives that you don’t want in your body. I’ve been reading horror stories about tilapia and other commonly farm raised fish. If you are lucky enough to reside near the coast, I not only envy you for obvious reasons, but you have the advantage of enjoying fresh fish. As an upstate resident, don’t take it for granted!

Switch up your winter routine with a fresh twist on dinner tonight. Oh and did I mention this is FAST and EASY?? I guarantee it will be on your table within a half hour. Plus it will be such a great leftover lunch if you happen to have any leftovers!

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh cod or salmon
1 lemon
salt and pepper
4-5 cups baby kale
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 apple, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 sweet potato, roasted (or poked with a fork and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes)
1 avocado, chopped

Directions:
1. Juice 1/2 the lemon and add to the cod or salmon. Sprinkle the cod or salmon with salt and pepper. Broil the cod or salmon in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
2. In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and dijon mustard. Set aside.
3. Prepare the salad by mixing the baby kale, apple, tomato, cucumber, sweet potato, and avocado. Add the dressing to the salad.
4. Once the fish is done, top the salad with the fish-serve and enjoy!

Lemon Chicken Thighs with Risotto

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After an e x t r e m e l y long month of January (it was beginning to feel 3 months long) I was skipping into February with a smile on my face. It’s been a hard balance to not wish away the months of pregnancy and preparation for baby when all I want is to hold this precious miracle. And now we are nearly ten days into February and baby boy will be here in just three months, pending if he wants to arrive on his due date or not!!!

My food journey throughout this pregnancy has been an interesting one to say the least. I always thought being pregnant would give me drive to be healthy unlike ever before, but boy was a wrong. You won’t ever hear me judging you if you need to wake up at 2 in the morning to eat a cheese stick and cereal. My love for comfort foods has blossomed into a need for some old staples with a new twist. Which brings us to this recipe. Get ready…

I can’t remember the last time I made a recipe, ate it, then went straight to the computer to write it down. This recipe should inspire you to walk, no run, to your nearest grocery store to purchase these ingredients so you can enjoy this for dinner tonight. This risotto is so full of flavor and richness, you won’t believe its dairy free. I think this may be the best risotto I’ve ever tasted, and I just want everyone I know and love to try it. Chicken thighs are the chicken rejects that should be given more attention than they do. I think choosing chicken thighs with bone and skin is a must for this recipe. The skin just traps the moisture into the chicken and it becomes so tender and full of flavor. Letting the skin crisp up in the oven for a final broil makes for a delicious crust.
This recipe takes a little bit of love and time, but it will taste like you’ve been slaving away all day, when really it only takes an hour or so. I suggest prepping everything first before you start cooking since it all moves pretty quickly in the beginning to ensure everything comes out.
Promise me you’ll let me know if you make it! And invite a friend over so you can enjoy a good meal with friends, the best way to dine!

Chicken
1 1/2-2 lbs. chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Risotto
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 gloves garlic, minced
1 onion finely chopped
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk ( I used unsweetened coconut milk)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Additional: fresh lemon juice, fresh chopped parsley, lemon zest

Directions:
1. Prepare the chicken by mixing the lemon zest, pepper, salt, and dried basil into a small bowl.
2. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken with your fingers. Be sure to get under the skin.
3. In a large dutch oven or oven safe pan, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil on high heat. Let the dutch oven heat up for 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium high. Add the chicken to the dutch oven skin side down. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Flip chicken and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Flip a final time and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Remove chicken from dutch oven. Wipe out dutch oven to remove any excess oil.
5. Add coconut oil to the dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
6. Add arborio rice to the dutch oven and stir constantly for 2 minutes or until the rice turns translucent.
7. Add the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is mostly evaporated.
8. Add milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer (about 2-3 minutes) stirring once at the beginning.
9. Return the chicken back to the dutch oven and cover. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. After 20 minutes, Place covered dutch oven into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove cover and cook for additional 5 minutes. Broil on high for 5 minutes.
11. Plate each serving with fresh parsley, a squeeze of a lemon, and lemon zest. Serve and enjoy!

Seared Scallops and Risotto

I’ve fallen IN LOVE with risotto. I don’t know if its the richness of the rice or the high flavor, but I’m completely won over and can’t get enough. Many risottos I’ve tried contain heavy cream and cheese, which can be a bit much. I have perfected this recipe that is just as delicious without the heaviness of a ‘typical’ risotto. It is the perfect comfort food and pairs beautifully with scallops. My scallops are extremely basic but I think they have so much flavor on their own that you don’t need many other ingredients. And who doesn’t love a simple recipe?
This recipe is wonderful since it looks amazing but its really not complicated. The timing for prep is important since you want to serve the scallops fresh. I tried to give you my best detailed instructions to ensure your dinner will be just as delicious as mine was. Indulge a little bit and enjoy something so delicious! Spoil yourself and feel like you’ve made a restaurant quality meal in the comfort of your own home:)

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Ingredients:

Scallops
1/2 lb of scallops (you can do scallop pieces or bay scallops but I love the whole)
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Risotto
1 cup uncooked risotto (aborio rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wilted Greens
3 large handfuls of spinach or kale
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Honey Glazed Carrots
1 bag baby carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and honey until combined. On a large baking sheet, sprinkle carrots out evenly. Drizzle the oil and honey mixture over the carrots, massaging the carrots to coat completely. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, flip, then continue baking for another 15 or until tender.

2. Cook the risotto in a saucepan with the liquids and salt until boiling. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
3. In a large skillet, saute raw spinach with olive oil, covered until completely wilted. Set aside.
4. Once the risotto and spinach are cooked, prepare a cast iron skillet for the scallops. Let the skillet heat up for 3-4 minutes on high heat. Once the skillet is hot, Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil. Sear scallops on one side and cover. Cook for 2 minutes. Flip scallops and cook for another 2 minutes. If you prefer a mildly raw center, remove from heat. If you prefer a more cooked center, turn off heat and let scallops cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. To assemble, place risotto in the center of your place (I did about 1/2 cup cooked risotto per person). Next, place wilted greens onto of the risotto followed by the baby carrots. Top with scallops. Finish with fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, parsley and sea salt.

Creamy Cilantro Chicken

IMG_2597[1].JPGEasy! Quick! Healthy! Check, check, check! May 5th, Cinco de Mayo was celebrated a few days ago. I warned my husband that I was cooking Mexican but it was something different. Our standby Mexican favorite is linked here. This recipe was a breath of fresh air, a nice spicy switch up to our usual favorite. Chicken breast can be bland and often over cooks. I try to be humble in all things, cooking and life, but I do have to say…I don’t typically over cook chicken. However, for all you over cookers out there, this recipe is great because the sauce is delicious and covers a multitude of mistakes. I made Mexican quinoa (pictured) which is really just quinoa with taco seasoning. I’ve got my taco seasoning recipe linked here. And finally the guac that I eat weekly because it’s so easy and delicious is linked here. This recipe does have a spicy kick so if you are looking for something more mild-just omit the chili powder and red pepper flakes. Even though it’s not Cinco de Mayo any more, you can still celebrate Mexican cooking anytime of the week!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (I used 3 breasts)
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon lime juice (about ½ lime)
¼ onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons arrowroot or corn starch
Additional salt and pepper for chicken

Oil for sauteeing (I used coconut oil)

Directions:
1. Prepare the chicken by pounding out so all chicken breasts are relatively the same size, about ½ inch thick. Salt and pepper chicken breast.
2. Prepare a large skillet with oil and heat for approximately one minute. Add chicken and let cook until brown on one side, then flip. Once chicken is fully cooked and brown on both sides, remove from skillet.
3. In the same skillet, heat up oil and add chopped onion. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add milk, chicken broth, lime juice, cilantro, red pepper flakes, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Sprinkle in starch and whisk vigorously while incorporating the starch into the sauce. Simmer the sauce for another few minutes.
4.Return the chicken back to the skillet. Serve alongside your favorite Mexican sides including quinoa, black beans, guacamole, rice, or chips!

 

Swedish Meatballs

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I’m trying with every fiber of my being to fight the winter blues. As much as I love New York, how are we ever going to survive these cold months? I have had to become intentional about counting my blessings because it becomes a challenge to not let this dark whole of winter swallow me. One of those blessings I am thankful daily, is my warm home and delicious food. Swedish Meatballs are savory and hearty, a wholesome cure for the winter heart. These meatballs have a fabulous balance of earthy, warm flavors with burst of fresh ingredients. I love fresh herbs and feel like they are the most underrated ingredient. I’ve been challenging myself with finding traditional recipes and making them ‘wholesome table’ friendly. This recipe makes a good amount of gravy that tastes so full of flavor. Because of the cinnamon in these meatballs, I try to incorporate the spices into the other food I’m serving. I recently made with roasted carrots with cinnamon. Which was literally roasted carrots with oil and cinnamon. Try it! I tell my husband I could eat a whole dinner plate with roasted carrots. Okay back on subject…carry over your herbs and spices. It gives such unity to the meal and makes it even more complete. These little guys freeze very well. Enjoy:)

Ingredients:

Meatballs:
2 lbs. ground beef
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoon fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
oil for sauteing (I used coconut)

Gravy:
2 cups beef broth
1 cup coconut milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tapioca flour

Directions:
1. Combine the ground beef, egg yolks, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ground ginger, and garlic powder in a bowl. Shape into small meatballs and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the meatballs to the pan and flip occasionally. Cook for 7-10 minutes on medium heat. The meatballs should be nicely browned before removing them from the pan.
3. Once the meatballs have been cooked, drain out any excess fat from the frying pan.
4. To make the gravy, use the same frying pan (meat scrapings are good!) add beef broth and bring to a boil. Add garlic and reduce to simmer. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the coconut milk. Whisk in the tapioca four until you create a smooth gravy.
4. Add the cooked meatballs to the gravy and let simmer for 4-5 minutes. Serve over rice or alongside a vegetable medley