One-Pan Mexican Chicken Quinoa


The Christmas season is officially upon us!  Despite my efforts to slow down and savor the holidays, I feel like the time between Thanksgiving and New Year flies twice as fast.  But that doesn't stop me from continuing to cook nutritious meals for my family.  Here, to the rescue, is another one-pan dish.

This quinoa bowl is extremely versatile.  You can prepare it with a different meat as well as vary the vegetables and seasonings.  Even if you don’t have all the listed ingredients on hand or decide to omit something because it’s not a favorite, you will still end up with a delicious meal that won’t take very long to prepare.

2 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1.5 – 2 lbs. chicken thighs or breast (boneless, skinless)
1 cup uncooked quinoa (soaked in 2 cups of water for about 2 hours, drained)
1 cup water or chicken broth
1 can canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup organic corn kernels, frozen or canned
1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 medium onion, chopped
½ tsp cumin
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes

Melt the butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Sauté the garlic and jalapeno in the butter until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the chicken and cook through for about 15 minutes, browning on both sides.
Stir in the quinoa, water or broth, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and onion.  
Season with cumin, salt, and pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. 
Stir in the lemon or lime juice.
Before serving, garnish with your favorite salsa, fresh cilantro and avocado.

Enjoy and spend more time with the ones you love this holiday season!

Steamed Fish with Lemon Butter Wine Sauce

I love this quick and light recipe for warmer weather days.  It works really well with any mild, white-fleshed fish such as sole, cod, halibut or striped bass.  You can also try a more flavorful fish such as salmon or trout.  Just make sure to start with the freshest fish available and choose varieties that are wild caught.  Please see my previous post on why it’s important to consume wild caught fish.  

Steaming is an ideal way to cook delicate fish that might otherwise fall apart or dry out if sautéed, grilled or baked.  It also allows flavors to remain inside the fish, instead of escaping into the cooking water, as in the case of poaching.

I like to pair this light dish with veggies such as the roasted asparagus I previously posted.

4 fish fillets
¼ cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Season fillets with salt and pepper.
Heat white wine in a sauté pan over high heat until it begins to steam.  
Whisk in one tablespoon butter.  
Quickly add the fish to the pan in a single layer and cover.  
Simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until fish is opaque.  Remove fillets.  
Wisk in the remaining butter, lemon juice and parsley into the pan liquid.
When sauce begins to bubble, remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste.  
To serve, spoon sauce over fillets. 

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bread

One day a friend sent me a Snapchat of her peanut butter bread.  It looked so good I decided to bake one too!  I took the idea of the pumpkin spice bundt cake posted in December, replaced the almond butter with peanut and omitted the pumpkin spices.  Just to note, you can’t taste the pumpkin puree; it’s just there to give the bread bulk and make it moist.  I have seen recipes use bananas or zucchini to achieve the same results.

Since we are on the topic, I wanted to mention a few things about peanuts and peanut butter. These products are high in omega-6 fatty acids which, if consumer in a higher than recommended ration to omega-3 fatty acids, increase the risk of inflammatory diseases.  Also, peanuts are technically not nuts, which grow on trees, but in fact are legumes.  They grow in the ground, which makes them susceptible to toxic mold, which is believed by some to be the cause of peanut allergies.  They are also one of the crops that are heavily sprayed with pesticide.  Finally, many commercial peanut butters are made with unhealthy trans-fats, added sugars, and other unnecessary ingredients.  I do not say all this to discourage peanut butter consumption, but simply to help you choose the highest quality product.  So, when buying peanut butter, be sure to read the label.  Ideally it should only contain one ingredient: peanuts. Also always buy certified organic and look for Valencia or Jungle peanut variety, which are less likely to contain toxic mold.

2 cups organic peanut butter
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup coconut sugar or 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
½ - 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a well-greased or lined loaf pan.  
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until an inserted knife comes out clean.  

Roasted Leg of Lamb

We like to reserve eating lamb for special occasions and I can’t think of a better one than Easter!  This year it’s quite early and at this point in time, less than two weeks away!  Here is an easy recipe for a tender and delicious leg of lamb.  It takes some time to cook but it will be worth the wait.

Lamb contains high-quality protein and is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals. The most abundant ones are vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, niacin, phosphorus and iron.

3 ½ - 4 lb lamb leg, boneless, rolled and tied
5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. In a bowl, combine the garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, sea salt, mustard, olive oil and pepper.
3. Mix well and rub all over the lamb.
4. Place the lamb on a roasting rack.
5. As soon as you place it in the oven, close the door and turn down the heat to 350 F.  
6. Roast for 3 hours.
7. Remove the lamb and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy!

Have a blessed Easter, everyone!

Garam Masala Chicken

We really like our Indian cuisine, well the kids maybe not so much, but the husband and I definitely do!  After a recent meal at an Indian restaurant I decided to try to cook a dish myself.  Chicken masala is one of my favorites, so naturally this was the first recipe I attempted.  I looked up a few variations, but in the end, melded them together to make my own.  I kept it fairly mild to make it more palatable for the children, but feel free to add some cayenne pepper if you like extra heat.  I served this dish over yellow turmeric rice and it was perfect!

Garam masala, the dishes' key ingredient, is an aromatic blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cooking.  It translates from Hindi as “hot spice mix.”  The mixture of spices varies from region to region and household to household, but commonly includes cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg and bay leaf.  It can be purchased from an international market or just about any grocery store with a decent spice selection.

Apart from adding flavor, garam masala also has many health benefits.  The spices offer powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-oxidant properties which can improve cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels, improve memory, aid in digestion and enhance metabolism.

1 ½ - 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast or thighs
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
4 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground ginger or 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cups tomato sauce
½ cup water
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, cumin and coriander.  
2. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Fry the chicken until cooked through, turning once or twice.  Remove chicken and set aside.  
3. In the same pot, melt the remaining butter and cook the garlic for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  
4. Add the garam masala, turmeric, and ginger.  Cook for an additional minute.  
5. Add the tomato sauce and water.  Let sauce come to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes.  Adjust sauce for salt.  For extra heat, add cayenne pepper to taste.  
6. While sauce is cooking, shred or cut up the chicken into bite size pieces.  
7. Add the chicken to the sauce, mix well, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.