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!

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.  
Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

This, dare I say, healthy dessert will easily satisfy any sweet tooth and fill your home with the aroma of warm pumpkin spices this winter.  It is free of refined sugar and flour, yet it is so decadent that no one will ever believe it's grain-free.  So this holiday season, prepare to have your cake and eat it too!

My sister, Veronika, introduced me to this recipe, which can be made into muffins, a simple loaf, or in my case, a bundt cake.  If you don’t have a pumpkin spice mix, you may substitute with 2 tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp ground nutmeg.

2 cups almond butter
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin spice mix
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
½ cups dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F.  
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a well-greased and floured (use a GF flour mix) bundt cake or loaf pan.  Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.  For muffins, decrease baking time to about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup

I realize I have been missing in action on the blog lately, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking...au contraire!  Despite my desire to share more recipes, I have been busy with the daily routines of taking care of my family.  On that note, here is an easy and quick soup recipe for those of you who don’t have the time to fuss in the kitchen.  It's hearty and comforting – perfect to enjoy during the cold months.

Red lentils are seeds from legume plants that split in half after hulling.  Unlike beans, they cook quickly and are perfect in a soup. Lentils are inexpensive yet they are rich in plant protein. They are a good source of fiber and also contain folate, manganese, iron, phosphorous, copper, vitamin B1, zinc, vitamin B6 and potassium.

2 cups red lentils
8 cups water or broth
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp butter
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of one lemon

Rinse and drain lentils.  Combine lentils and water (or broth) in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for ½ hour, stirring occasionally.  When lentils are tender, add cumin and turmeric to the pot.  Sauté the onions and garlic in butter until golden brown, then add to soup mixture.  Simmer for 5 additional minutes.  Remove from heat, add lemon juice and stir.  Garnish with parsley and/or paprika before serving.

Meringue Gelato Cake

Here’s a perfect dessert – quick, easy and delicious, on a warm summer night.  This is a frozen version of Eton mess, a tradition English dessert of crumbled meringue, whipped cream and strawberries.  I kept it pretty simple and served it with fresh fruit, however there are many variations to this basic recipe.  Your imagination is the limit, when it comes to what you can add to the gelato base: any fresh fruit or berries, shaved chocolate, cacao nibs, nuts, coconut flakes, etc.  For the garnish you can drizzle it with a chocolate sauce, fruit coulis or fruit compote.

1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp rum
5 - 6 oz meringue cookies (store bought or homemade)
8 oz fresh fruit/berries of choice

Whip the cream until thick but still soft.  Add the rum and fold into the cream.  Crumble the meringue cookies and fold these in as well.  Add any other ingredients if desired.  Pack the mixture into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, pressing it down with a spatula.  Cover and freeze until solid, preferably overnight.  To serve, pull the ice-cream brick out of the pan, unwrap and place onto a serving platter.  Garnish with fresh berries, slice to serve.