Mediterranean Chicken Bowl

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I’ve mentioned it a thousand times, but my Mom is incredible in so many ways. However, since I’m blogging about food, we will narrow this down to what a great cook she is. From the time my siblings and I were young, she introduced us to all kinds of delicious home cooked meals. Some were met by her five children with smiles, some with confused looks. But looking back on it, “adult me” would LOVE to have had these meals, while 6-year old Hannah was a bit unsure of things like stuffed grape leaves, gazpacho, eggplant (cooked any way…young Hannah was not a fan), shad roe (this may have been more my dad than my mom), goulash (yes – I know – it’s meat and sauce and noodles and delicious, but as a kid the name creeped me out) and putting plain yogurt on rice??  What was with that??  **Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t say you’re sorry for this lol.  I love you, your food is delicious, and I was a silly silly child who didn’t realize how good she had it lol. I love you.

But a funny thing happened when I grew up…I make gazpacho all the time in the summer, I’ve sought out shad roe at my local fish market, and it brings back memories of home – never met anyone else that eats it lol, stuffed grape leaves are a treat when I find them at a good restaurant, BRING ON THE GOULASH, eggplant – well, I’m still working on that one.  And the yogurt on rice? Growing up, I would usually decline the yogurt when I saw my mother putting it on her rice, because my brain could not comprehend how yogurt on rice could be even remotely tasty. Well, years later, I tried it, and once again I was reminded that my Mom is always right.

While I still may not be a huge fan of PLAIN yogurt on rice, I AM a fan of tzatziki on rice.  Tzatziki on it’s own is such a versatile condiment. I love it to pump up a somewhat plain dish to make it feel a bit “extra”, especially in the warmer months. Something about the cool yogurt, the crisp cucumbers, and the fresh dill with a zing of lemon makes it a near perfect combination for hot summer days.

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One of my clients requested some ideas for meal prepping, so here we go!  I’ve made all the pieces of this before but have never put it all together until now! I love this Mediterranean chicken bowl because it is essentially three recipes in one, so you can mix and match this pretty easily. Check it out!

INGREDIENTS
Chicken:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs garlic, minced (adjust according to your love of garlic…I love it, and 2T was plenty)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs dried oregano
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cucumber Tomato Salad:img_4163.jpg
2 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced
2c. cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Tzatziki Sauce:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber, finely diced
1 tsp – up to 1 Tbs minced garlic (adjust to garlic preference. I use the garlic press for theist get a little of that squeezed juice in there too)
1/2 Tbs dill weed, or 1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint (optional – but add it – makes it way better)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh mSalt and pepper to taste
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Other Ingredients:IMG_4159
2-3 cups cooked brown rice, or quinoa (I do half and half and mix them up!)
1/2c. Red onion sliced

 

mmm…tzatziki…
(also great as a veggie dip!)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • In large ziplock bag, combine all ingredients for chicken marinade, zip it, mix it, then add the chicken to it, and seal the bag shut.  Squeeze it around with your hands, making sure the chicken is covered with the yogurt marinade, then put in the fridge.  Let it sit for at least an hour, but longer is better!
  • While the chicken is soaking in all that delicious flavor, cook your rice (or quinoa or both) according to package instructions. When rice is done, divide it out to your meal prep containers.
  • Now that your chicken has marinated for a while (an hour +), take it out, and remove the chicken from the bag, and discard the bag with remaining mixture.
  • Heat up skillet with a little olive oil (or throw it on the grill!), and add chicken breasts. Cook chicken until done – depending on thickness of the breast,  timing may change.  Internal temp should be 165ºF, and when you slice into the chicken, make sure it’s fully cooked through.
  • Once finished, remove from pan, and let cool. When it is cool, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, and set aside. When I made this in the past, I cooked the chicken breast as a whole, and it worked great. This time for some reason, I chopped the chicken before it marinated without thinking, and the sear wasn’t as good (missed out on that extra flavor and color)- still tasted great, but it was a bit of a whoops moment.
  • Make the cucumber tomato salad by chopping the cukes and tomatoes, and adding all other ingredients into a bowl, and stir together. Stir to coat everything in the dressing, and set aside.
  • Next up is the tzatziki.  Combine yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon, mint, S&P, and lemon zest (optional) into a bowl, and mix together.
  • Now, start fully assembling your bowls.  You already have your rice in your Tupperware containers, add some chicken, cucumber-tomato salad, some red onion, and a dollop of tzatziki to it, and you are good to go!  That tzatziki will be the dressing for this, but a little bit goes a long way – I used a little less than 1/4c. of it for my bowls.

*These will last 3-5 days or so in the fridge, but I wouldn’t push much longer than 5 days.  
*If raw red onion is not your style, and you want to take the edge off a little, just slice them up and let them sit in ice cold water for 8-10 minutes and they will be less oniony.  

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ENJOY!!!

Sesame Ginger Soba Noodles

Last week, I went down to Marshfield to hang out with my sister, and babysit my niece Maggie, and nephew James. We played outside on the swing set, ran around the yard,  played hokey pokey in the sprinkler, laid on the hammock, and talked about our favorite things. Favorite colors, favorite animals, favorite songs, favorite movies, and of course – favorite food. If you were to ask Maggie any day, anytime “what would you like to eat”, chances are it will be met with a very enthusiastic “NOODLES!”. I don’t know why, but it makes me laugh every time. If she could eat noodles for every meal, she would be the happiest girl in the world.

As I mentioned in the Spaghetti squash post, I too have a love for noodles. Perhaps not as strong as Maggie’s, but it’s still there.  So this week, I decided to make one of my favorite noodle dishes, Sesame Ginger Soba Noodle Salad. You can really put anything on this, but I kept it pretty simple with just veggies.

In my opinion, it’s the perfect summer salad.  Not only is it packed with healthy veggies and ingredients, but it is so easy to make, there is essentially NO way to mess this one up.  My favorite recipes are brainless ones.  My one goal when cooking is: DO NOT BURN DOWN THE HOUSE.  If I have a home at the end of the night, I have succeeded in my cooking goals. Also, I don’t want to use 30 bowls and utensils, and pots and pans, MAKE the clean-up easy.  Especially as we head into the hotter temps – nobody wants to be sweating over the sink cleaning pots and pans.

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SESAME SOBA NOODLE SALAD
*makes plenty for leftovers

INGREDIENTS:
2 bunches Soba Noodles (I use KAME brand – it comes with two packages inside.  I use both so I have leftovers!)
2c. thinly sliced Shiitake mushrooms
3 Baby bok choy
½ c. edamame
1c. Snow Peas (give or take)
1c. Shredded carrots
3 scallions finely chopped
2 medium Garlic cloves
¼ c. Sesame Seeds
Olive Oil

Sauce:
¼ c. Reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2T Toasted sesame oil
3T Rice Vinegar
1T Honey
2t Freshly grated ginger
1t Chili garlic sauce or Sriracha

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To make the dressing, whisk to combine all ingredients, and set aside.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions, and set aside until veggies are done.
  3. Add 1-2T Olive oil to pan, and sautée garlic until aromatic, then add mushrooms, peas, carrots, base of scallions (leave the darker greens for garnish), and bok choy. Stir occasionally, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until veggies begin to soften, and bok choy leaves begin to wilt just slightly.
  4. Add the noodles to the pan of veggies, and add 3/4 of dressing to the pan. Stir to combine ingredients, and let simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce has cooked into the rest of the dish.  Add the edamame and cook for one additional minute.
  5.  Transfer to large bowl, add the remaining dressing and sesame seeds, stir to combine.

This dish can be served, hot, room temp or cold…so really there is no BAD way to eat these noodles.

Turkey, Broccoli & Spinach Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

I didn’t realize until I started writing up this post that just a couple weeks ago I stuffed another squash…but I assure you this is not a new blog theme (“101 ways to stuff a squash“? “Food cooked in other Food Food Blog”…I’ll keep brainstorming it). I can’t help it that squash are both delicious and also a perfect carrier for other food!

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I remember distinctly the first time I had spaghetti squash – I was about 40lbs or so overweight, LOVED pasta, and my “portion” for spaghetti was basically about 3/4 box…for myself. This was not working for me and my goals lol (shocking).  So I started to find substitutions for my pasta, and found spaghetti squash – I don’t know how I hadn’t had this before, but that’s besides the point.  I made spaghetti squash with meatballs, and it was delicious – and from then on, I’ve been hooked.

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This week I made a spaghetti squash “lasagna”, which I saw on a vegetarian food blog (yes, I read food blogs for free reading…), but added ground turkey to it to add a little more oomph to it. This one I had been wanting for a while, and as soon as I made it my brain started spiraling with other ways to prepare it. While this one was loaded with spinach, onion, broccoli, and ground turkey, my head couldn’t stop thinking about making a spaghetti squash chicken parm lasagna…but so as to not turn this into the aforementioned stuffed squash blog, I will table that for another blog in the fall.

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As with all the other recipes I post here, this is simple, and depending on the squash size, this can be very filling for two people as a main dish. Now, there are a couple ways you can go about cooking your spaghetti squash, some people microwave it (you can google how to do it if you choose this method – it’s faster, so if you are in a time crunch, this may be a better option), but I always prefer to take a little more time, and cook it in the oven, as I think it brings out way more flavor.

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RECIPE:
*ingredient amounts may vary depending on size of squash…but any additional filling is delicious as leftovers!

  • 1 2½- to 3-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1lb Ground Turkey
  • 2c. spinach
  • 1/2c. red onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°F.IMG_3914
  2. Rub olive oil on inside and outside of squash, and place squash halves cut-side down on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400°F oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.  To test if it is done, gently poke the skin of the squash with a fork, it should be tender and the kin should be soft and tender when done. When you take them out of the oven, change the temp to 450°F
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli, garlic, and red pepper (if using); cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add 2T water and cook, stirring, until the broccolini is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Cook Turkey in same pan, until just cooked through, add red onion, and spinach until spinach is just wilted, then add the broccoli mix to it, stir around for about a minute until all combined then set aside again to the mixing bowl.
  5. Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl with the mix that you already prepped.
  6. Stir ¾ cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the shells; top with the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  7. Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes.

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Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your liking, taking out the meat, changing the meat, adjusting the veggies, etc.

Remember, there is no perfect diet, there is no one-size-fits-all meal plan. Healthy food is only good if you will eat it. So set yourself up for success by making meals that are manageable for you – that taste good to you! In our nutrition program, we often talk about trying to be 1% better than yesterday. This applies to our food choices (and life) – it’s not about being completely perfect all the time, it’s about finding little things that you can adjust. Is this meal perfect?  Screw perfect, but it’s not 3/4 box of spaghetti, and for me, that is a huge step forward in my never-ending journey to nutritional balance in my life.

 

Fresh Rolls

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A couple weeks ago, I was up in Vermont with my family, and my mom just whipped up a batch of these to bring to a friends house for dinner, and ever since then I have been craving them!  Fresh rolls can be SO SO easy, super healthy, and are the type of dish that looks like you put in a ton of effort because they are so beautiful!  And as if these couldn’t get any better, we are going to dip them in a peanut butter dipping sauce…which really just makes everything 10x better.  My mom used a sweet chili dipping sauce for hers, but I live and die for peanut butter dipping sauce, and the recipe below I could literally just eat it with a spoon.

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If you’ve ever rolled a burrito, it’s kiiiind of like that. I’m sure everyone has their own way to roll them, but this is what works for me, and I’m a bit clumsy when it comes to delicate things, so if it works for me, you should be FINE. The other night, I used shrimp, vermicelli noodles, avocado, carrots, red cabbage, mint and butter lettuce.  These can be vegetarian, they can have chicken in them – really you can roll whatever you want into these babies and they will probably be good. In my opinion it’s the noodles and that peanut sauce that make it so good,  but what do I know!  Figure out what works for you!

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INGREDIENTS (that I used, but again – add whatever you want!)

ROLLS:

  • 10 spring roll rice paper wrappers – I used Blue Dragon Brand
  • Carrots (I bought a bag of matchstick carrots…because I was feeling lazy lol)
  • Purple Cabbage (again…bought it pre-chopped – because it’s just easier!)
  • 3 scallions, sliced very thin
  • 1 ounce cooked rice noodles/rice vermicelli
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • handful fresh mint (my sister also uses fresh basil which sounds pretty delicious)
  • Lettuce leaves (I used butter lettuce), torn in half
  • 10-12 medium cooked shrimp, peeled and sliced in half length-wise (if you will be cooking them at home, poach them, and let them cool completely before using)

PEANUT BUTTER DIPPING SAUCE (a.k.a. sauce sent from heaven)

  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter.
  • warm water to adjust consistency
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha or chili-garlic sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped toasted peanuts (optional)
  • key to this…mix in everything except the water, then add water to create the consistency you want.  I add more hoisin or pb, maybe less sriracha based on what flavor I’m looking for.  It should be dip-able without pulling the ingredients out of the roll.  

DIRECTIONS:

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Prepare the vermicelli noodles according to package directions – mine soaked for 10

minutes in hot water, then remove them from the water and let them cool.

Each rice paper will soak in warm water for about 10 seconds, or until it’s flimsy.  Place it flat on your prep surface and get to work!

Place all your ingredients piled up 1/3 of the rice paper wrapper. I usually put the ingredients on the bottom 1/3 of the rice paper so it’s easier to roll up. Biggest rookie mistake?  OVERFILLING THE ROLLS! This will take a bit of practice, but you will get the hang of it within a roll or two.

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Again, you are going to roll this like a little delicate burrito. Gently pull the bottom of the rice paper up and over the filling, tucking it just under the filling – don’t be afraid to pull at it a little – it should roll tightly.  Then fold the sides up, and roll baby roll.  Keep tension on the rice paper, but remember, its very thin, and can tear if you pull too hard.  Sometimes this does happen, but an easy fix is to just roll another rice paper wrapper around it!

Once rolled up, place them on a serving plate (I like to place them seam side down just so they don’t try to unravel. If you are making them in advance, just cover them in Saran Wrap, but they are best served within a couple hours of being made.

 

 

Have fun with these – they are great for summer, great for impressing guests, great for just an excuse for that peanut butter dipping sauce, great for just about any situation.  They can be made as an appetizer, lunch, dinner, you name it!

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Let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

 

Chia Pudding x3!

As far as breakfast is concerned, I typically have the same thing almost every day.  Two eggs and spinach, scrambled with an ezekiel english muffin and a cup of green tea.  But the past three weeks have been really rough for me, and it has absolutely messed with my meals.

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This may be too personal to some, and if so – just skip this paragraph. I’m fairly open when it comes to discussing my personal battles with anxiety and depression, and it is helpful to acknowledge them and to reach out to others who experience this as a part of their lives – as well as those who do not to raise awareness about them. A few weeks ago, my doctor changed my medication, which, as my body adjusts to it, has turned me into a zombie – a nauseous, sleepy zombie. I went from sleeping about 4 hours a night (I know – not healthy) to sleeping about 9 hours a night and napping about 5-8 hours during the day. This left me with no appetite, no motivation to workout, nothing to give – I would come home and immediately fall asleep. Why am I bringing this up?? Because there will ALWAYS be something that throws you off your routine – physically or mentally – there will always be something. There will be things that are completely out of your control, and it’s up to you to see how you can work through it, sometimes in the simplest forms.  For me, it was about finding smaller breakfasts that still pack a punch, that aren’t too filling, but that will wake me up and keep me going through my morning sessions. Was I forcing workouts to happen and making myself eat meals to hit a caloric intake goal?  No. I was eating healthy with what my body would allow at the time. I was moving when my body was feeling up to it – which meant a lot of mobility work and short workouts over the past few weeks. The important thing is to listen to your body, but to set yourself up for small successes for when life is trying to get you down.

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It sounds so silly, but these chia puddings gave me some meal stability in weeks where I felt not at all myself. They were simple to prepare, tasted great, and were the perfect breakfast for my early morning starts! I have been cycling through three different flavors, vanilla, coffee, and peanut butter banana.  I know the texture takes some getting used to (and they absolutely do not photograph very well lol) – trust me – but honestly, give them a try. I tried one brand from a store before and it was repulsive, but homemade is delicious, and these flavors are so so good. Below are the VERY easy recipes for all three flavors.

 

 

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(Also…I found these adorable little jars at Marshalls – 3 for $5.99. I was using small 8oz. mason jars, which also work so great – really easy to just shake it all up – these little ones are more of a snack size)

 

 

 

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  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1T real maple syrup
  • 1t vanilla extract, pure
  • 3 tbsp Chia seeds

    *I top this one with fruit if I’m feeling fancy lol

 

 

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  • 1/2 c. iced coffee (I use cold brew concentrate)
  • 1/2c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 T real maple syrup
  • 4T chia seeds
  • 1t vanilla extract

 

 

 

PEANUT BUTTER BANANAIMG_3888

  • 1/2 banana, very ripe
  • 1/2 Almond milk
  • 2T Almond butter, or all natural peanut butter (smooth)
  • 1/2t cinnamon
  • 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 2.5T chia seeds
    *I top this one with the other half of the banana and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. yummmm.

 

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS (pb banana has a couple extra steps)

  • Add liquid ingredients to jar
  • Add chia seeds, and stir until well mixed (I think a fork works better than a spoon)
  • Let sit for 10 minutes, then stir again with a fork to prevent lumps from forming.
  • Seal it up with a tight lid and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.

*PB Banana

Before you do the steps listed above…add the almond milk, nut butter, banana, cinnamon & vanilla (basically everything except chia seeds) into a blender and blend until smooth. Add to your glass jar, then add the chia seeds, stir it up, wait 10 minutes, stir again as directed above, then refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy!

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

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I know, I know…this isn’t really acorn squash season, but whatever – it’s delicious. This was actually a recipe I made a while back, but never posted – and thought you guys might like it! I’m a huge fan of foods that carry other foods. Soup served in bread bowls, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed peppers, tacos…lol.

I love acorn squash. It just feels like comfort food. No matter how you cook it, it’s just makes you say “mmmmm” and smile a little. It’s naturally quite sweet, but still takes on so many rich flavors. I love pairing it with earthier sides like barley, wild rice, quinoa, etc to balance it’s natural sweetness. It doesn’t need a ton of seasoning, but when done right, it elevates to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Typically, I slice up my acorn squash into cute little half moons, sprinkle them with whatever flavor profile suits my cravings – sometimes sweet with maple syrup (that’s definitely a treat), sometimes curry, or cinnamon, sometimes a kick with some chili or chipotle thrown in there.  But when I made this, I decided on stuffing the bowl with Quinoa, spinach, chopped up portobello mushrooms, onion and garlic.  Topped with a balsamic glaze, and it was pretty phenomenal.

INGREDIENTS:
1 Acorn Squash – halved, & seeds scooped out
2 Medium Cloves Garlic – minced
1/2c. Quinoa – uncooked
1c. Baby Spinach
1 Portobello cap – chopped into small pieces
1/4c. chopped red onion
1/2c. Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
1T butter
*little bit of shaved parmesan (optional)

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat meat of the squash with 1 tbsp oil, sprinkle with pinch each salt and pepper and place meat side down on a large baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions
  • when the quinoa is almost done, add 1T olive oil and butter to a small skillet, add garlic until aromatic, then add mushrooms until they begin to cook through, and onions until they become soft.  Lastly, add the spinach until it begins to wilt. This should all take about 5-6 minutes or so.
  • Once quinoa is done, mix this in with the mushroom/onion/spinach mix and mix around on SUPER low heat, this is just to let the flavors all mix together and stay warm.  Take off the heat and set aside until the Squash have finished cooking.
  • Remove the squash from the oven, flip them over, and fill them with the mixture, sprinkling the optional shaved parmesan on top.  Put them back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or so.
  • While they are back in the oven, you will make the balsamic glaze.  In a small pan, add 1/2c. balsamic vinegar, and wait for it to boil.  Once boiling, lower temp and keep at a simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let it get all saucy.  I found that it was almost ready after those 8 minutes – I prefer mine to be a bit runnier though.
  • Remove squash from the oven, and drizzle glaze over the top, and enjoy!

 

 

Sweet Potato Fries

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No matter how busy I am, I always ALWAYS have sweet potatoes in some form in my refrigerator ready to eat at any meal.  These come in various forms depending how I feel, Sometimes little cubes like a hash, sometimes big thick steak fry style, sometimes skinny little shoestring fries, sometimes if I’m feeling up to it, I will even make some sweet potato mash.  But regardless of it’s form, sweet potatoes are usually my first step in meal prepping because if something happens (I am quite literally ALWAYS assuming some catastrophic event is going to interrupt whatever I am doing), I will at least have my sweet potatoes done.  I’ve always done them the same way, but I was browsing around the interweb the other day, and saw a couple tricks I wanted to try out to see if they had any merit.  These may be common knowledge to some, but it wasn’t for me, my mind was blown that I could have been making EXTRA crispy fries this whole time and had not yet been told of these tricks!

TRICK #1 – SOAK YOUR FRIES
Once you have cut the fries, place them in a bowl of ice cold water so the potatoes are covered, and leave them there for an hour.  Now, some say hot water, some say cold…so I tried the cold this time around.  By soaking them, some of the starches are pulled out into the water.  This starch can hinder moisture escaping from the potato, so when it’s baking, it may leave the moisture in the fry…which recuses the crisp-factor.  Once you have soaked them, make sure to rinse, and pat dry before cooking.

 

TRICK #2 – PARCHMENT PAPER
Okay, so perhaps this one was a no-brainer.  I have always just put them directly on the sheet pan, but nope…the parchment paper crisps these babies up niiiice.

TRICK #2 – LEAVE ‘EM IN THE OVEN
When the timer goes off…turn off the oven, and leave them in there for another 5-10 minutes.  Again…perhaps this is common knowledge, but I somehow missed this memo.  So now I know.

TRICK #3 – SALT AFTER BAKING
I have gotten into the habit of salting things prior to cooking them.  Which for some things works!  But apparently salting those potatoes before baking them reduces the crispiness of the potatoes…so I gave it a shot!

Now…I don’t know which of any of these were most effective since I did them all on the same batch – perhaps I could have taken a more scientific approach by doing small batches with one trick per batch…but I just went all in, and the results were delicious.  Crispy, delicious, and absolutely perfect (well, as perfect as fries can be without that sweet sweet delicious deep fryer from heaven action).  Some of you are probably shaking your head at my naiveté in the world of cooking – how could I POSSIBLY not know these tricks.  But lemme tell ya somethin’…and I’m not ashamed to admit it…I know very little about a lot of things, and tricks in the kitchen is most definitely on that list. 

Below is the “recipe” for the sweet potato fries…not so much a recipe as directions, but here it goes!

INGREDIENTS:
2 Small-medium sweet potatoes, sliced into whatever size fry you want (I went on the thinner side)
2-3T arrowroot powder (or 1-2t. corn starch)
Cayenne, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, garlic powder, or any other SALT-FREE seasoning that you like (we’re adding salt at the very end)
Olive oil
Fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut the potatoes to your desired shape/size, and place in a mixing bowl with ice cold water.  Let sit for about an hour. Once finished, drain water, rinse potatoes, and pat them completely dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Once dried, toss the sweet potatoes in either arrowroot powder or corn starch, then sprinkle in the seasonings of your choice.
  • Place the potatoes on the parchment lined baking sheet, allowing them to have their space – no piles of potatoes here…they will crisp up better if they aren’t touching each other. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil.
  • Bake the sweet potatoes for about 25 minutes, flip them, and then add another 15-20 minutes.  By this time, they should have some browning on them, but if they are not baked to your liking, simply add a little more time!
  • Once timer goes off, turn off the oven, and leave them in there for another 5-7 minutes or so.
  • Take them out of the oven, and sprinkle a little salt over them.  If they do not feel crispy right away…sometimes letting them sit for a minute or so out of the oven will help with that.  When they are piping hot, they usually won’t feel too crisp.  So just exercise your patience, and don’t burn your mouth by eating them RIGHT out of the oven!

 

Obviously you can eat these hot, but since I make up about 5-6 potatoes worth at a time, I let them cool a bit then put them in the fridge for the week.  I usually make 2 potatoes worth of fries, the rest I dice up because they tend to keep a little better, and store better – fries won’t stay cripsy forever in the refrigerator…they kind of turn into limp potato noodles, the little chopped cubes hold their shape a bit better over time.

I know, this was simple, and most of you probably already do EXACTLY this, but maybe you don’t, and maybe you just need some new kitchen tricks, maybe you just need to get some super basic meal prep ideas…whatever your reason is for being here, still reading this very long post…I appreciate it, and hope that you enjoy these potatoes as much as I do!

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic Hummus

Surpise, surprise!!  GARLIC!!  lol.  You may have caught on by now, that I will be happy IMG_3654 2with just about anything flavored with garlic.  YOU CANNOT GO WRONG.  However, if you are not into it, you can leave the garlic out for a more traditional flavor of hummus. Here’s the great thing about hummus though.  1) It usually leads me to make better choices with my food/snacks.  If I’m eating hummus, I’m probably dipping a veggie in it, or using it on a sandwich as a spread (usually instead of mayo), on a burger, you can put it on pizza instead of sauce, and the best part is, with all the flavor options you can create with this versatile spread, you can get pretty creative with how you want to use it!

Hummus is one of those things that is SUPER easy to make, but so many people don’t make it, and it’s usually because they don’t have one of the ingredients…tahini.  Every other ingredient you for sure have in the house already.  It takes about 5 minutes to make and you are set with a batch of hummus that will taste better than what you get at the store!  So here it goes!

INGREDIENTS:IMG_3652
1/4c. Lemon Juice
1/4c. Tahini (I used Sesame King Roasted Tahini)
2-3T Olive Oil
1 large clove Garlic – minced
1/2t. Salt
1/2t. Cumin
1/4t. Black Pepper
1 can Garbanzo Beans (chick peas) rinsed and drained
2-3T water

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a food processor, combine lemon juice and tahini.  Turn on and process for about 1 minute until it becomes light and creamy.
  • Add the olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin, and black pepper.  Continue to process for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the food processor, then process for another 30 seconds.
  • Add half the garbanzo beans, process for 1 minute, scrape down sides.  Process for another 30 seconds.  Add the other half of the beans, process for 1 minute, scrape down sides.  Add water as needed to make the hummus a bit creamier if it is too thick, but this is personal preference.  Start with just a little, then keep adding small bits – remember, you can always add more, but if you add too much water, you can’t take it out!  Once the desired amount of water is there, process for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve in a bowl, or store in an airtight container.  If serving, garnish with a little extra olive oil, or some fresh herbs.

I added my hummus to this delicious sandwich packed with veggies!
IMG_3663

 

Shaved Brussels & Kale Salad

It’s around this time of the year, when Spring weather is JUUUUST around the corner, but it is the longest corner ever…when I crave a big salad (and warm weather, maybe a beach, and some kind of drink with a little umbrella in it).  My current salad obsession is adding shaved brussels sprouts mixed in with the greens for my salad.  Today’s salad combines these with chopped kale, and keeps it super simple for the rest.  I had this plain, but adding grilled chicken, some shrimp, fish, crumbled bacon (for one particular person who squinched her face at the idea of a salad of Brussels sprouts and kale….you know who you are).  I found this recipe on Lasting Ingredient, but made a couple simple adjustments and changed up the dressing.  Another bonus of this recipe?? It’s another one of those “you-might-have-all-the-ingredients-already” kind of recipes! IMG_3647

INGREDIENTS:
1c. Kale – chopped
2lbs Brussels sprouts – shaved thinly with mandolin, food processor (with slicing disc) or just finely slice with knife (which is what I did since I don’t have either of the other options 😉
1/2 Small red onion – thinly sliced
1/4c. Walnuts – roughly chopped
1/3c. Pecorino Cheese – I used shaved, but grated would probably work best!

DRESSING:
1/2t. finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1t. Dijon Mustard
1/4t. Salt
1/4c. Olive Oil
1/2t. Dried Oregano
Black Pepper to taste
1 Medium Garlic clove – minced (I lightly sautéed mine to soften the flavor a bit – just until aromatic) **Garlic is optional

DIRECTIONS:

  • For the dressing – lightly sautée the garlic in a little of the olive oil until just aromatic. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, dijon mustard, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and oregano,  stir in the garlic, then slowly whisk in the rest of the olive oil.
  • In the same pan, VERY quickly (only about 1 minute, sautée the kale and red onion – this is optional, but I like to soften it up JUST a bit, but this is just personal preference.
  • In a large bowl, add the shaved brussels sprouts, kale, red onion, pecorino, walnuts, and toss with the dressing.

Simple, delicious, and quick!

What would you add to your salad??  Or would you keep it as is?

Zoodles with Spicy Garlic Shrimp

My goal for this week was to make a meal that I didn’t have to shop for.  Using only food I already had at home.  Challenge accepted.

You know me, and you know that I am into simple meals.  I don’t need (or really even want) it to be very fancy, I don’t always want it to take a lot of time or energy to prepare, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to TASTE really good.  When I moved to Boston a hundred years ago, I went grocery shopping with my mom, and she said “Always make sure you have shrimp in the freezer.  You never know when you will need it” and since then, I have always had frozen shrimp in the freezer.  And you know what?  It has saved me on numerous occasions.

I distinctly remember when I was young, my Mom made shrimp scampi for dinner one night, and I thought it was just the most delicious thing I had ever had LOL.  I mean, how do you go wrong with it??  It had everything I loved!  Shrimp – check.  Garlic – check.  Pasta – check.  Little bit of a kick – check. More Garlic – check.  And 8 year old Hannah thought this was just the best thing ever.  36 year old Hannah still has it in her top 10.  One of the things I love most about it, is it is SO easy, and I usually have all the ingredients in my house every day.  A lot of times, for dinner I end up just throwing something together, or it’s already prepped, or I’m just too tired to put any effort into it at the end of a long day.  This meal FEELS like I put effort into it, but only takes a few minutes to actually cook.  So that’s a win in my book.

So this week, I took a little riff on the regular shrimp scampi.  Swapped the spaghetti for zoodles, and added some tomatoes, but other than that…kept it pretty basic!

IMG_3560

INGREDIENTS:
(serves 2 – I was just cooking for myself so I halved this recipe – ingredients pictured above)
2 Medium Zuccini – spiralized
1T Olive Oil
1.5 T Melted Butter
4 Cloves Garlic – Minced
6-8oz. Shrimp – tail on. pref. Jumbo – I only had little ones 😦
1/3c. White Wine
1t. Chili Flakes
1/2t. Lime Juice
1/2 tomato (I used about 5 cherry tomatoes)
Salt to taste
3-4 dashes Ground Black pepper
Optional: Chopped parsley garnish
Optional: Lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS:IMG_3562

  • Heat skillet on medium heat, add olive oil, butter and garlic until aromatic (but NOT browned).
  • While heating up the garlic, butter and oil, in a separate pan, heat 1T olive oil, and toss in the zoodles.  These do not need a lot of time, just a couple minutes to soften up a little.
  • Add shrimp and stir a couple times until they are about half cooked.
  • Add wine, chili flakes, salt & black pepper.
  • When shrimp is almost all the way cooked, add lime juice, tomatoes, parsley, then toss the zoodles in for just a moment to let some flavor absorb into them.
  • Plate the zoodles and shrimp – a bowl is sometimes best to hold some extra delicious sauce!

IMG_3567

I squeezed a little bit of fresh lemon on top once it was plated, and it was DELICIOUS!   If you like it extra spicy, toss in a bit more chili flakes, I did…and I loved every spicy bite of it!!  Hope you enjoy this week’s recipe!