Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

While doing a little Internet perusing the other day I came across one of those motivational posters that you often see on social media that I thought was perfect- "You will never find the time to exercise, you will need to make the time." Or something to that effect.  No kidding, how many people just find themselves with absolutely nothing to do?  There's always something you could or should be doing but unless you make it a point to exercise that will probably be one of the things that gets left out.  I try to make a plan for each week, write on my planner which days I'll run, which days I'll do some strength and which days I'll do neither.  Sometimes they get shuffled around depending on what comes up during the week.  If I miss something I try to make up for it with an exercise DVD or Pilate's on demand (Verizon Fios has one that I really like) or even go out for a 2-3 mile walk with one or both kids.  The same is true for making good, healthy non-processed food.  If you make the time to pick a recipe and make it,  you will be amazed at how easily and quickly you can bang out a healthy homemade meal for your family.  With the exception of a couple of crazy recipes that I've posted, I've selected every one based on the fact that there is little to no skill required and they are relatively quick.  If you're eating out most nights, you're probably spending at least an hour in the restaurant.  You can be done way faster at home making a meal that doesn't have 2300 calories or 3200mg of sodium.  Then you won't need to find the time to spend in the hospital with ailments ultimately brought on by a terrible diet and sedentary lifestyle.  OK, done with my rant for today.

I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens called Lemon-Braised Chicken Tenders and Cauliflower.  I made a couple of adjustments, took out a couple of things and added a couple of things.  I'm going to share my adaptation along with some substitutions you may want to make to suit your tastes or your pantry.

First you put a little olive oil in a Dutch oven and heat over medium high heat.  Add 1 and 1/2 to 2 lbs of chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken cut into tenders and brown on both sides.  This amount fed my family of four so don't feel like you need to have 4 or 5 breasts, not necessary.
Remove the chicken to a plate when both sides are brown, it will not be cooked through but it's going in the oven so worry not about that.
While your chicken is browning cut up a half head (about 2 cups) of cauliflower.
You will also need to chop one large shallot (use a small onion if you prefer, I just happen to love shallots), 5 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp fresh thyme and 1 tsp of lemon zest.
Now you add the shallots, cauliflower, lemon zest and I added a half can of artichoke hearts cut into quarters, this too is optional but I think it's a very tasty addition not mention they are good for cardiovascular health, immunity, digestion and weight control to name a few of the benefits to adding them to your dish.  At this point I also added a 1/4 cup of dry white wine, again optional but I think wine, lemon and shallots are a dream team!
Once the cauliflower has begun to brown slightly, add the garlic, thyme and lemon juice.  Season with 1/4 tsp of salt and some fresh cracked pepper.
 After a minute or so, add 1 cup chicken broth and the chicken back into the pot, bring it to a boil and then cover and add to a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for about 10 min or until chicken is cooked through.  Once you remove the pot from the oven add two cups of fresh baby spinach to the pot (all my pictures of that step were blurry).
Spoon into bowls over cooked brown rice
top with chopped pistachios (pine nuts would work too)
and maybe the tiniest pinch of shredded Parmesan cheese.  Delish, healthy, easy.

Lemon-Braised Chicken and Cauliflower (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into strips
1 large shallot
1/2 head of cauliflower cut into florets (about 2 cups)
5-6 artichoke hearts drained and quartered
5 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
cooked brown rice

Preheat the oven to 375.  Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and brown on both sides, about 3 min on each side.  Remove chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon.  Add shallot, artichoke hearts and cauliflower to the pot and cook until lightly browned about 3 min.  Add garlic, thyme, white wine (optional), lemon zest and a 1/4 tsp of salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Cook for about 2 min.  Add lemon juice and stir scraping up any bits that stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Add the chicken broth and browned chicken to the pot and bring to a boil.  Cover and transfer to the oven and bake for 10 min or until the chicken is cooked through.  Add spinach and cover allowing the spinach to wilt, about 2 min.  Spoon over brown rice and top with a sprinkle of chopped nuts and a pinch of shredded parm.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

There's A Storm A Brewin'

There's a big o'll snow storm brewing on the east coast and I for one am so ready for one!  I'd like to get snowed in for a couple of days (with my family, electricity and plenty of food of course).  Chances are we'll get less than predicted snow and there will be no such snowing in here but for those of you closer to the coast...look out.  When you head to the store for milk and bread, throw some ginger, stew beef and some Ro-Tel in your cart, you can let this cozy crock-pot meal cook away while you play Monopoly and watch movies.  Slow-Cooker Caribbean Beef Stew from Food Network Magazine is a new twist on your usual beef stew.  I typically make mine with stout beer or red wine but this one has ginger in it (that's new to me anyway).
There are not a ton of ingredients here.  The usual carrots, potatoes and beef along with fresh ginger, thyme, white pepper, allspice and Ro-Tel.
First you'll mix together some flour, chopped thyme leaves, allspice, salt and white pepper.
The recipe calls for 2 lbs of stew meat.  You can buy it chopped up but you can save a few bucks by cutting it up yourself if you've got an extra 2 minutes.
Add the beef to the bowl of flour and spices.
Toss the beef to fully coat in flour.
Next you chop up some carrots (I always go heavy on the carrots) and potatoes, ginger and garlic and toss it in the crock-pot with a couple of sprigs of thyme.
Next you put the meat right on top of the veggies.
Then you whisk a 1/2 cup of water and some Worcestershire sauce into the flour left in the bowl from coating the beef. Add it to the crock-pot
and open up a can of Ro-Tel (I really like this stuff).  This is the original flavor which is the tiniest bit spicy (my kids had plenty to say about that!) but it also comes in mild.
Plop it right on top and you are done for the next several hours.
Just like that, check dinner off the to do list.  Just walk away and let my retro-cooker do all the work.  Such a lovely concept, I do need to find more really good slow cooker recipes.
There you have it.  We had ours with a little rice and a nice hit of Siracha for good measure.  So if you're looking for something easy to warm your bones over the next couple of days, click the link for the full recipe and enjoy!
Caribbean Beef Stew