One-Pan Mexican Chicken Quinoa

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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
Salsa
Cilantro
Avocado

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!

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.

Middle Eastern Chicken Kabobs and Yellow Rice

Good weather days are far and few around here.  Even in the summer it seems like we’re plagued by either scorching heat waves or severe thunderstorms.  When that perfect day does arrive, there’s nothing better than savoring a meal al fresco with some friends.  The fresh air heightens one's senses and brings out the flavor in food.  With good company, laughter and conversation can lingers well into the night.  So light some candles and savor the moments.  Today I’m sharing a delicious chicken kabob recipe I recently served on the patio to a group of friends.  I am also including a roasted red pepper sauce which pairs nicely with the chicken and my favorite yellow rice.

2 – 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
1 cup yogurt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp crushed pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon zest of 1 lemon

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except the chicken, to make the marinade.  Add the chicken and coat well.  Cover and refrigerate for about 5 hours.  Place chicken on skewers and grill until cooked through.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

2 red bell peppers
1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, chopped
2 – 4 Tbsp. broth, stock or water
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Roast peppers on a baking tray at 400 F for about 30 – 45 minutes, or until skin is charred.  Remove peppers from oven and place in a covered contained to sweat, which helps to remove the skin.  When cooled, peel off the skin and discard along with the seeds and membranes.  Chop roughly.  Heat the olive oil on low and gently sauté the shallot and garlic for a few minutes.  Place these, along with remaining ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  Adjust thickness of sauce to desired consistency by adding broth, stock or water as needed.  Season to taste.  Serve alongside chicken kabobs as dipping sauce.

Yellow Rice

¾ tsp turmeric, ground
¼ tsp cumin, ground
Pinch of cinnamon, ground
Pinch of coriander, ground
1 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
2 cups broth and/or water
1 ½ cups basmati rice, washed until water runs clear

In a medium pot heat the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and coriander for about one minute.  Add the butter, allow it to melt, and add the garlic.  Cook for about one minute.  Pour in the broth and/or water, add the bay leaf and cloves, and bring to boil.  Add the rice, stir once and cover.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand covered for about 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork, and remove the bay leaf and cloves before serving.

Happy Summer

Fall-Off-The-Bone Lime Chicken Drumsticks

One of the worse culinary faux pas has to be under-cooked chicken.  I not only like my chicken to be fully cooked but actually fall-off-the-bone done.  I normally make this recipe using only sea salt and pepper and it turns out great.  However, lately I have been obsessed with all things lime and cilantro so I decided to add them to my chicken recipe...and voila!

I like drumsticks because not only are they a cheaper cut of meat, especially when buying free range/organic, but also because I prefer dark meat, which comes out crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  You can also use chicken thighs, given they are skin-on and bone-in which insured that the chicken remains moist and absorbs a deeper flavor as it cooks.  I prep the chicken in steps – marinate in the morning, broil and load into the slow-cooker at lunch time, and it is ready just in time for dinner.

Ingredients

12 chicken drumsticks (about 3 lbs.)
¼ cup lime juice, freshly-squeezed
1 garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

Place the chicken, lime juice, garlic, sea salt and pepper into a large zip-lock bag or a bowl.  Toss to combine ingredients and evenly coat the chicken.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat broiled.  Remove chicken from marinade and arrange in a single layer on a shallow baking dish.  Broil on high for about 10 minutes, flip and broil another 5 minutes on the other side, until nicely browned but not burnt.  Turn off the oven and let cool before removing chicken. 

Layer the chicken into a slow cooker and pour the liquid from the baking dish over the chicken.  Cook on low for about 5 – 6 hours.  Before serving, sprinkle chicken with fresh cilantro.