Week of Salads

The week after Thanksgiving I was in desperate need of some fruits and veggies to wash out the rich food of the long weekend. The focus this week was on salads! Here is my haul!

img_2051

On the menu:

Hard boiled eggs, carrots, cucumbers, pecans, and goat cheese over kale.

img_2106

Easy and satisfying– loaded with veggies!

Roasted Carrots, shallots, raisins, walnuts, goat cheese, and chicken over kale salad topped with orange vinaigrette

img_2098

For the roasted carrots: halve roughly 20 baby carrots. Toss them in 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp salt. Spread on a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes at 400F.

Hamburger Salad

img_2107

Trying to keep the excitement alive in a week full of salads. This is romaine topped with my favorite burger meal: raw red onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes (as the ketchup) and some sweet potato chips for fries. Mustard is actually an awesome salad dressing!

Sweet Potato Chips

img_2108

Another super easy recipe: halve and then thinly slice 2 medium sweet potatoes. Spray a wire rack with non-stick spray and place it over a baking sheet. Spread out the chips, spray with non-stick spray and then sprinkle with salt. Bake on 425F for 30 minutes until crispy!

Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaise is a seafood stew that hails from Marseille in the southern Provence region of France. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, this region has abundant seafood. The dish was originally a stew prepared by fishermen using seafood that they could not sell at market. A variety of seafood can be used, but it typically is made with a variety of shellfish and fish.

The fragrant broth is the true hallmark of the dish, including onions, leeks, fennel, garlic, saffron, and cayenne. Crusty baguette makes the perfect accompaniment for soaking up the broth. Traditionally, the bread is topped with a homemade mayonnaise spread and the bread and seafood are served separately then assembled before eating. This simpler version is slightly less labor intensive, but lacking none of the flavor.

img_2026

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fennel, chopped
  • 1½ cups leeks, whites only, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of saffron leaves
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 4 cups seafood or fish stock
  • 1- 16oz lobster tail (optional)
  • 2 cups fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered into similar sizes
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams
  • 2 lbs sturdy white fish (such as rockfish, monkfish, halibut, or cod), cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 dozen mussels
  • ½ lb scallops

Directions:

In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, fennel, and leeks. Season with salt. Cook until translucent. Add tomato and garlic and cook until tomatoes become soft. Add bay leaves, cayenne, and saffron and cook for 2 minutes. Add fish stock. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Add broth and vegetables to a blender or food processor. Puree into a loose, chunky sauce. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Place strained broth back into large pot. Discard the vegetables.

In a separate pot, boil lobster until shell is bright red, about 5 minutes. Remove from boiling water and set aside. Add fingerling potatoes to boiling water and cook until soft. Remove from boiling water. Once lobster has cooled, remove tail and claws.

In large pot, heat broth to a simmer. Add clams and cook for 2 minutes covered with lid. Lift lid and add fish pieces and mussels. Recover pot and cook for 6 additional minutes. Add lobster and potatoes, recover, and cook for 2 more minutes to heat through.

Portion the bouillabaisse into 6 dishes. Serve with toasted baguette.

Another Week of Eats

Another week of eats! Starting with the groceries:

img_1896

This week’s haul is a bit on the lighter side because I pulled all the protein from the freezer. Chicken breasts and a bottom round roast of beef. The beef was from a farmer near my parents and the chicken breasts were bought in bulk when they were on sale and stored in the freezer until I needed them.

I made all of these meals on Sunday and ate off of them throughout the week.

Meal #1: Chicken Breasts with Roasted Acorn Squash

img_1897

Baked on the same baking sheet for easy clean up! No recipe for this one– just oil the baking sheet; season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder; chop acorn squash and season with salt and pepper. Roast on 45 minutes on 375F.

Meal #2: Pesto Brown Rice Pasta with Chicken and Roasted Onion and Fennel

img_1914

This was so good! Comforting but also light due to the extra veggies and protein. The basil was from the freezer, made fresh when I had a surplus of basil!

Meal #3: Beef and Barley Soup

img_1912

Fall in a bowl– so hearty and comforting! Another slow cooker meal for the win. I started this in the crockpot on Sunday morning and dug into it on Sunday night after prepping all the rest of the meals. What a reward!

Roasted Whole Chicken and Homemade Chicken Broth

I am a firm believer in buying whole chickens instead of chicken pieces. Not only do you get more meat for your money and crispy skin, but you also can then make your own chicken broth– saving even more money. Usually when whole chickens go on sale I stock up! They will keep in the freezer for 6 months to 1 year if they are tightly wrapped.

Let’s start with how to roast a chicken. This is so intimidating at first! But once you get the hang of it, you won’t go back! The first very important step is to remove any packaging inside the bird (normally organs). Also, make sure it is completely defrosted to ensure the inside reaches the right temperature in cooking.

I have two tricks that I always swear by for roasting a whole chicken.

  1. Roast it breast side down. The breast are much leaner than the legs, so they have a tendency to dry our faster. Roasting the bird breast side down allows all of the juices and fat to run from the legs down into the breast meat. It gets locked in by the skin, which allows the breast to stay moist.
  2. Start the oven on 400F. Cook it at 400F for the first 25 minutes and then turn it down to 325 for the remainder of time. This crisps up the skin quickly and traps all of the juices in with the meat– resulting in juicier meat. Usually, my chickens will cook on 325 for another 1.5 hours, but this depends on the size of the bird. Check for an internal temperature of 165F. It will continue cooking after being removed from the oven.

IMG_1436.jpg

 

Roasted Whole Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 whole carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F. Roughly chop carrots, celery, and onion. In a deep baking dish, scatter vegetables so that they cover the bottom of the dish. Place whole chicken breast side up onto dish. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Flip chicken over so that is is breast side down. Season backside of chicken.

Bake on 400F for 25 minutes then turn temperature down to 325F. Roast until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F, typically 1.5 hours depending on the size of the bird.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. This is important to keep the juices with the meat and allow them to re-enter the meat before breaking the skin.

___________

I typically shredded the breast meat to use in another recipe or for salads/ lunches. Then use the thighs, drumsticks, and wings as the main protein in meals throughout the week.

Removing the breast meat, legs, and wings will leave you with the carcass of the bird. The base of the stock! If you still have the pan drippings from roasting the chicken, throw those in the crockpot, too.

___________

img_1850

Homemade Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • Bones/ carcass of chicken
  • 2 whole carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • fresh or dried herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1.5 quarts of water

Directions:

Add chicken carcass/ bones to the crockpot. Roughly chop vegetables. Add vegetables, herbs, spices, and water to crockpot. Water should come to the top of the dish.

Cook on high for 24 hours. Strain to remove all large food bits.

Can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week or frozen for 6 months. I typically like to freeze it in either a freezer-grade plastic bag, old quart sized yogurt container, or ice cube trays (then store in plastic bag).

Throwing together homemade soup is super easy and delicious. Drinking the broth straight is also an excellent way to warm up in the fall and winter!

Curried Cauliflower with Raisins

Roasted cauliflower is a simple, easy, and delicious side dish on it’s own, but something about fall makes me crave the flavors of curry. Cauliflower is a great blank canvas for any seasonings, but it also shows the color of the curry quite beautifully. I hope you enjoy!

img_1824

Curried Cauliflower with Raisin

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • fresh parsley

Directions:

Cut head of cauliflower into florets. Combine melted coconut oil, pumpkin puree, curry powder, and salt. Toss cauliflower florets in mixture.

Spread on a baking sheet and roast on 400F for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven. Add raisins and parsley.

Chickpea Pasta Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli

Is there anything that satisfies a craving for salty, decadent comfort food better than warm, melty cheese? Here is a healthier take on a comfort food classic made with chickpea pasta, which drastically ramps up the protein and fiber content. It works as both a side and an entrée.

img_1825

Chickpea Pasta Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of chickpea pasta
  • 1/2 bag frozen broccoli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup of shredded cheese (I used 3/4 cup Monterrey Jack and 1/2 cup cheddar)

Directions:

Cook pasta according to box instructions. Add frozen broccoli to the boiling water in the last 5 minutes of cooking the pasta. Drain pasta and broccoli and set aside.

In the same pot, add olive oil and white onion. Sauté on medium heat until onion is soft. Add chopped garlic and sauté for one minute. Sprinkle whole wheat flour over onions and garlic. Mix until flour it is coated in the oil. Cook for 1 minute to remove the raw flour taste.

Turn down the heat to low and add milk. Stir constantly until the milk begins to gently bubble and it thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Remove from heat and add shredded cheese. Stir in a figure-8 motion until all of the cheese is melted. If the sauce it too thick, add a splash of mix and thoroughly combine before adding pasta and broccoli. Toss to coat pasta and broccoli in cheese sauce.

Serves 4 sides or 2 entrées.

.

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Loaded Baked Potato

This recipe idea came to mind since it’s football season and with football comes bar food like buffalo wings and potato skins. Why not make a healthier combination of both at home?

This was a great meal to prep ahead of time and just assemble and reheat on the day you eat it. On Sunday, I baked the potatoes, baked and shredded the chicken, and prepared the buffalo chicken filling. Just before eating I reheated the baked potato and topped it with fresh spinach before added the heated buffalo chicken. It was a tasty, fast dinner made of slow components! I hope you give it a try.

img_1832

 

Buffalo Chicken Loaded Baked Potato 

Ingredients:

  • 2 shredded chicken breasts (or breast meat from a whole chicken)
  • 3-4 baked potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Wash potatoes and rub outsides with olive oil and salt. Bake in a 400° oven for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Prepare chicken breasts and shredded cooked meat.

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and sauté onion and celery until soft. Add in 3 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat. Add hot sauce, mayonnaise, and black pepper to the pan and stir until thoroughly combined. Add shredded chicken and toss in sauce.

To serve, split open a baked potato and place a 1/2 cup of fresh spinach onto the flesh. Top with a quarter of the buffalo chicken mixture. Add additional hot sauce, if desired.

Serves 4.