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coriander and smoked paprika chicken tacos with peppers and onions and poblano pesto

20 Mar

i have fond memories of taco night growing up, seasoning packet ground beef, ice berg lettuce, tomato, shredded cheddar. looking back, ugh that was an abomination of a taco. with just a little more effort you can have a really rockin and way better taco night–sans seasoning packet!

my tacos tonight consisted of smokey coriander shredded chicken, poblano pesto, sauteed peppers and onions, melted cheddar jack and avocado. you could easily do something like roasted tomatoes and corn or grilled radicchio instead of the peppers and onions, just don’t do iceberg lettuce. also, the sauteed peppers and poblano pesto taste great with cumin spiced black beans if you want to make it vegetarian.

What You Need for 4 tacos:

2-4 bone in skin on chicken thighs (depending on the size you may need 2 or 4)

2 T smoked paprika (try to get smoked, not just plain sweet paprika. the smokiness makes a big difference)

4 T ground coriander

2 T salt

1-2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp black pepper

1 bell pepper, julienned

1 jalapeno, julienned

1 onion, julienned

2 garlic cloves, slivered into thin slices

grated cheese, (cheddar, monterey jack, queso fresco, whatever you want)

4 corn or flour tortillas or taco shells

1 avocado, sliced thinly

poblano pesto–roast 2 poblanos under the broiler until black and blistered. put in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let steam for 5 minutes. run under water and peel skins off. in a food processor combine the poblanos with a large handful of cilantro, 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 c toasted walnuts, 1/8 c parmesan cheese and olive oil. blend until it’s the consistency of a chunky pesto.

to make the chicken:

preheat the oven to 350.

peel the skins almost completely off the chicken, but leave it attached, you are going to lay it back over the chicken while you bake it so it stays moist–we aren’t actually eating it though.

season each chicken thigh, top and bottom, with 1/2 T of salt, 1 T coriander, 1/2 smoked paprika, a pinch of black pepper and a small pinch of cayenne. (you can add a dash of cumin too, its yummy)

lay the fat back over the top of the chicken and bake for 20-30 minutes, until fully cooked. move the chicken to a cutting board to rest.

you can do all the rest of the cutting and cooking while the chicken cooks and rests. once you are ready for the chicken, remove the skins and shred the chicken using 2 forks.

for the peppers and onions:

heat 1 T of canola oil over medium heat. add  in the red bell pepper and jalapeno. saute about 5 minutes until just beginning to get tender.

add in the onions and saute on low heat about 10 minutes, until the onions are fully translucent and just beginning to turn light caramel colored

so, to build the tacos!

on the bottom of the tortilla, spread a bit of the poblano salsa/pesto. next pile on the chicken, the peppers and onions and the cheese. set under the broiler for 1 minute just until the cheese is melted.

top each taco with some avocado and a bit more of the poblano pesto

 

“blackened” chicken with rainbow chard and salsa cruda

19 Feb

since i am totally incapable of just eating salad and almonds every day, i am eating a lot of what i regularly would just without oil and in a more modest portion size. as such, this dish is 1/2 chicken breast per person which is actually an adequate amount of protein. american consumerism has created a market where only steroid injected HULK style chicken breasts look normal to us. weigh out your chicken breast next time you buy it- i bet it weighs like 8 oz, we actually only need about 3-4 oz of protein per meal.

this is rainbow chard. its beautiful. no, but really it is. big green leaves with hot pink, bright orange, and deep red stems. the stems are edible and really look wonderful on a plate. trade this up for spinach once in a while, its yummy and great for you.

For the Chicken: for 1 serving

1/2 chicken breast

spice rub

in a small container combine 2 T of salt, 1 T each of black pepper, paprika, chili powder. 1/2 T each of garlic powder, onion powder. a pinch of crushed red pepper. mix it up. this is your spice rub 🙂

preheat oven to 350. heat a pan over medium-high heat. let it get REALLY hot. coat the 1/2 chicken breast with the spice rub. spray the pan with pan spray. put the chicken breast down, you should hear a sizzle. let it brown about 3 minutes on each side. then place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. bake about 8-10 minutes, until fully cooked (obviously.)

For the Rainbow Chard for 1 serving:

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1/2 head of rainbow chard, cut up and washed. (doesn’t need to be dried, just shake it off)

1/8 c veg or chicken stock

pinch of crushed red pepps

in a sauce pot, heat the stock and smashed garlic and crushed red pepper over medium heat. once hot, add in the chard, stir and cover to let it steam for about 6 minutes. uncover and check the tenderness of the greens, they should be soft like sauteed spinach or ralph lauren bedding. the stems, however, will still have a bit of a crunch to them, thats okay. adjust salt and crushed red pepper as needed. add a dash of hot sauce if you want!

For the Salsa Cruda:

i just make a big batch and let it sit in the fridge, it lasts about 1.5-2 weeks and it gets better as it sits longer.

1/4 c boxed (or canned, if you must) chopped tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 of a cucumber, seeded and diced

10 kalamata olives, chopped

5 basil leaves, chiffonaded

salt and pepper

combine ALL ingredients in a bowl and mix. thats it. literally.

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

22 Jan

sometimes you just need a good old american classic on a sunday night. chicken, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable medley. its simple, it’s straight forward, it’s honest and real and familiar.  and the reason it’s an American classic–it’s pretty dang yummy.

 

pan roasted chicken, garlic rosemary mashed potatoes, easy veggies and a nice white wine and stock pan sauce.

 

For The Chicken::

You Need:

1 piece of chicken per person, thigh or breast, skin/bones on or off.  i like bone in, skin on of either cut. you don’t actually have to eat the skin but it definitely keeps it moist during cooking. (and its less expensive)

1 large pinch of salt

a pinch each per piece of chicken of paprika, black pepper, italian seasoning

 

How To:

Season both sides of the chicken liberally with salt and then a pinch of the other seasonings.

heat a skillet over medium heat, add 1/2 T of butter and 1/2 T olive oil.

once the pan is HOT HOT HOT. add the chicken, skin side down.

let cook like this until the first side is really brown, good and crusted, about 6 minutes. flip the chicken and let it get a nice hard sear on the back side. then turn the heat down to low and let it cook for about 15 minutes, or until fully cooked. OR stick it into a 350 degree oven for about 9-12 minutes.

For the Pan Sauce::

You Need:

1/4 cup//a large splash of dry white wine (if you woulnd’t drink it, don’t cook with it)

and about 1/2 c of chicken stock

1 T of cold butter

you may also need 1/2 T of flour but maybe not..

How To:

drain the excess oil from your chicken pan DO NOT RINSE, OR WIPE.

immediately, while the pan is still hot from the chicken (but with the heat turned off) pour in the wine. it will smoke A LOT. thats ok. using a whisk, whisk up all the nice browned bits on the bottom of your pan. turn the heat up to medium, pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until it thickens..about 3 minutes.

whisk in the butter. after about 1 minute the sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. if not, you can add in a little sprinkle of flour while whisking and this will thicken the sauce up. just be sure to add a little flour at a time while constantly whisking so that you don’t get lumpy sauce.

For the Mashed Potatoes::

for 2-4 (depending on your appetite for carbs) servings

You Need:

2 lbs of baby red potatoes, cut in  half

1 T of fresh rosemary, chopped

3 garlic cloves, roasted (don’t use raw garlic, its too bitter/spicy)

1/8 c heavy cream

3 T of butter, cut up into pieces (or melted)

salt

How To:

bring a pot of salted water and the potatoes up to a boil (dont put the potatoes into boiling water, start them in room temp water). put the roasted garlic cloves into the boiling water also (weird i know, but its great) cook for about 9 minutes after boiling or until the potatoes are fork tender (take on out and see if you can mash it easily with a fork, thats when they are finished)

drain the potatoes (and garlic cloves) and then put them back in the same pot. with the heat off, add in all of the ingredients and mix together, mashing the potatoes with a fork or a potato masher. Thats all!!

 

the way i like to cook vegetables is to either steam them using a collander suspended over boiling water OR to just drop the vegetables into a pot of boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes and then drain! both methods bring out really vibrant colors and use no fat. also, they are the best methods for preserving the nutrients of the vegetables.

 

and thats my take on a classic!

sesame peanut chicken with fresno chili and basil

21 Jan

What You Need for 2 Servings:

4 Chicken legs or 2 chicken breasts, bones and skins removed

1-2 fresno chilis (they look like red jalapenos), sliced thinly (seeded or not, depending on your heat preference)

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

a handful of basil leaves, chiffonaded

2 T creamy peanut butter

1/2 T of rice vinegar

chili garlic sauce (optional)

1 T sesame oil

i intended to add broccoli to this but i forgot it, you can use any kind of vegetable in this stir fry.

How To:

In a wok or large skilled heat the sesame oil. add the shallot and chilis and let them infuse the oil with their glory for a few minutes.

add in the garlic and the chicken and cook until the chicken is browned on all sides and cooked through. about ten minutes depending on the cut of the chicken and the size of the pieces.

while the chicken is cooking, combine the peanut butter, vinegar, and chili garlic (if using) in a bowl.

stir fry in half of the basil

 

pour in the peanut butter mixture and stir to coat all the chicken. garnish with the other half of the basil! thats it!

serve with rice or on noodles 🙂

 

green chili “pesto” baked chicken

16 Jan

a few notes:

YES THIS CHICKEN IS GREEN. NO APOLOGIES. COOK IT FOR ST PATRICKS DAY IF YOU WANT. OR JUST EAT IT ANY DAY AND GET OVER THE GREEN.

i took almost no pictures, sorry.

you can use any part of the chicken you like, i used legs because they were on sale. you can use bone in skin on or boneless skinless-whateva!

 

What You Need for 4 Pieces of Chicken:

2 poblano peppers, roasted and chopped.

TO ROAST: if you have a gas stove, just set the peppers over the open flame and char on all sides until blackened. immediately put them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let them sit for ten minutes. then using a wet cloth, remove the blackened skin. if you do not have a gas stove: put them under the broiler of your oven until the skin is blackened, rotating throughout so that all the skin chars. then follow the same bowl/peeling steps as described above.

1 large handful of grated parmesan cheese

1/4-1/3 c toasted pine nuts, pecans or walnuts (whatever you have on hand or is cheapest)

1/8 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped

3 cloves of garlic

salt and pepper

olive oil for streaming

4 pieces of chicken..(obviously)

 

the raw garlic adds a good amount of front of the mouth heat but if you want that spicy kick in the back of the throat feel free to add some cayenne peppps.

 

Tha Way:

combine all the ingredients except the chicken and in a blender. turn it on and stream in the olive oil until its moving and liquifying. taste it and add salt and pepper to taste.

preheat your oven to 350.

salt and pepper your chicken really well (always. i actually do it before i make the sauce so that the salt can begin to make a quick little brine-ing action on the chicken to make it extra juuuucccay)

add about 1 T of sauce under the skin of all the chicken (if you are using skin on chicken, if not-ignore this) then add about 2 T of  sauce on the skin.

bake the chicken on a cookie sheet covered in parchment for about 20 minutes (but this time will depend on what cut of the chicken you use). just cook it until it is no longer raw. the outside will get crispy and green chili sauuucalicious and the inside will be super moist and delicioso. ENJOY!

 

my dinner: roast chicken with cheesy pesto farro and garlic green beans

5 Jan

i’m not going to tell you guys how to roast a chicken. although, if you do not know how to roast a chicken and would like to know, please email me. it’s easy and magical. or you can always buy a rotisserie chicken 😉

let’s talk about farro. farro is an ancient italian grain that has very recently popped up on the trendy food list (along with ramps and adzuki beans). farro has ALWAYS been awesome though, trust me. it’s a really nutty, chewy rice like grain. it has lots of fiber and protein per serving so it’s a great alternative to your tired brown rice or quinoa.

what you need for 2 servings of cheesy pesto farro:

1/2 c of dry farro

3/4 c of water

8-10 basil leaves

1 handful of spinach (optional)

1/3 of a red bell pepper, diced

1 garlic clove

olive oil

salt

4-6 T parmesan cheese

 

how to do eeeet:

bring the farro, water and some salt to a boil in a small sauce pot. cover, reduce to a simmer and let cook 10 minutes. then turn off the heat and keep covered another 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

while the farro cooks, combine the basil, garlic and a few tablespoons of olive oil in a blender. pulse, streaming in more olive oil as needed until it is the consistency of pesto- a thick liquid consistency. (if you’d like, go ahead and buy some pesto) i like to add in a handful of spinach here too just for an extra way to get vegetables.

once the farro finishes cooking, pour in the pesto and the diced bell pepper, mix and add about 5 T of parmesan cheese.

 

 

for the garlic green beans:

a lot of people will use minced garlic and olive oil in a saute pan to make garlic green beans. i find that the garlic is too bitter in this application, and it doesn’t permeate every bite. what i like to do instead is to use just 1 tablespoon of garlic infused olive oil to saute the green beans. to make garlic infused olive oil: combine about 5-8 peeled garlic cloves and enough olive oil to cover them in a sauce pot, heat over low heat for about 15 minutes until the oil is fragrant. strain and store the oil in an air tight container in the fridge for up to three weeks. please reference the photo in my chicken sausage and orecchietti soup post!  so to make the green beans, heat a saute pan over medium heat, add in 1 T of garlic oil and 4 oz of green beans. toss to coat, let cook, tossing occasionally, for about 7 minutes. add a pinch of salt and some crushed red pepper and thats all folks!!

 

chicken sausage and orecchietti soup

3 Jan

so this is a soup i made up today to eat with my mouth to go into my belly. i stole a technique of adding pureed roasted garlic and tomatoes to the soup from a cookbook. i wish i could call the cookbook author to say, “with our powers combined, soup awesomeness ensues”.   maybe i’ll write him a letter.

The Loot for 6 servings:

1/2 lb (or a little more..i used .64 lb) chicken sausage, i used 1 italian chicken sausage and 1 basil garlic chicken sausage

1 c orecchietti pasta

3 c chicken stock

1/2 c boxed chopped tomatoes

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 lb roma tomatoes, about 4 tomatoes

2 heaping handfuls of spinach (about 3 packed cups)

1 head of garlic

crushed red pepper

1 large handful of yellow pearl onions (you can just dice a regular onion but i love these little guys, they are so cuteee and they have a strong, sweet onion flavor while still being mild enough to eat whole)

a large pinch of dried oregano and dried rosemary

salt and pepper

fresh basil and grated parmesan (optional, for garnish)

Some Notes before I begin:

normally when roasting garlic, you cut the top 1/3 of the garlic head off, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and then wrap completely in tin foil and roast. I planned to do this until I realized I was out of tin foil so I used a “confit” method; I cooked individual garlic cloves in olive oil in a pot on the stove over low heat until the garlic was soft and mash-able with a fork. you can use EITHER method, the tin foil oven method requires less watching, but the stove top method provides you with garlic infused olive oil which you can save and use for cooking later on! do what pleases you 🙂

dA LoW dOwN:

preheat oven to 400 degrees. cut tomatoes in half, top with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, some dried oregano, pepper. if roasting the garlic in the oven, put the garlic in the tin foil on the same pan as the tomatoes. once the oven is heated, roast the tomatoes (and garlic) for 45 minutes.

while that’s happening.

remove the sausage from the casings and add to a sauce pan over medium heat. crumble/break up with a wooden spoon and cook until happily browned. add in the peeled pearl onions and the carrots. sweat for about 10 minutes.

Add in the boxed chopped tomatoes and the stock, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Once the tomatoes and garlic are finished roasting, add to a blender and liquify. If you roasted the garlic in the tin foil, squeeze the garlic out of the skin into the blender. If you used the other method, just put it right in since you peeled it before roasting it on the stove.

pour this mixture into the soup, stir. add in the pasta and a pinch of dried rosemary. once the pasta is soft but al dente, after about 10-12 minutes, add in 2 large handfuls of spinach.

Taste, adjust the salt and other seasonings. Serve, garnished with parmesan and torn basil leaves. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

printable recipe