Orange Chai Spice Cookies (made with whole wheat flour!)

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I love me some whole grains, and I try to eat them as much as possible. But let me be clear. Whole wheat pasta? I eat it, and I don’t not like it, but I can tell the difference. White pasta tastes just a little better.

But whole wheat flour in cookies? You will never even notice the difference! Promise. Cross my heart.

And these Orange Chai Spice Cookies are the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth, without too much guilt since there is no white flour at all in them! And man, are they tasty. 

Orange Chai Spice Cookies 1

Granted, there is a lot of sugar in them. But since these are small cookies and are freezable, it’s easy to enjoy them in moderation and save them for a long time for when you just need something sweet in your life. Or, pull them out of the freezer when you have unexpected guests. OR, you can eat a few and bring the surplus to your new neighbors, which is exactly what I am going to do!

Orange Chai Spice Cookies 2

Fall seems to be slowly creeping in to New England early this year. My favorite season! I’ve always loved fall in that it’s a multi-sensory experience: the smell of the cool, crisp air, the crunch of the fallen leaves on the sidewalk, the beautiful foliage on your drive to work, wearing scarves and boots, and of course, the warming flavors of fall foods. In these cookies, orange, golden raisins, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice all blend together to create a chewy, spicy, unique cookie that is perfect with a cup of black coffee, tea, or cider.

It’s a perfect way to ring in the fall :-)

Orange Chai Spice Cookies 3

I used whole wheat pastry flour for these. Pastry flour is ground a little finer than regular flour, which helps avoid the harshness that some whole wheat flours can have. As an alternative, you can use spelt flour for these- it’s a bit lighter tasting than whole wheat flour, but still a whole grain (it’s just a little more expensive, too). For an example of yumminess made from spelt flour, check out my lemon poppy seed bread :-)

Shoutout to a Handful of Raspberries for the inspiration to create a whole wheat chai cookie! Genius.

Instructions below- don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients- you likely already have most of them in your pantry. Enjoy!

Orange Chai Spice Cookies (made with whole wheat flour!)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 dozen small cookies

Orange Chai Spice Cookies (made with whole wheat flour!)

Orange, golden raisins, and chai spices all blend together to create a chewy, spicy, unique cookie that is perfect with a cup of black coffee, tea, or cider. It's the perfect way to ring in the fall!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
  • 1 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, plus the zest of the orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • turbinado sugar, to coat the cookies (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add egg, mix until well combined.
  3. Add orange juice, zest, salt, baking soda, and spices; mix until well combined.
  4. Add flour; mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in raisins.
  6. Chill dough for about an hour.
  7. Put turbinado sugar in a small bowl, if using. Spoon out small portions of the dough and roll into balls (no bigger than a ping-pong ball), and roll the balls of dough in the turbinado sugar until coated.
  8. Place the cookie balls on a parchment covered cookie sheet, about two inches apart (they will flatten considerably)
  9. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until just starting to get golden.

Notes

*You can use regular whole wheat flour, spelt flour, or even white flour for this!

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/31/orange-chai-spice-cookies-made-with-whole-wheat-flour/

 

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins (with a dairy-free option!)

Guys, this is SERIOUSLY something amazing and wonderful. This chicken salad is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and it’s PACKED with flavor. I want to eat it every second of every day. Give me a spoon and a bowl of this stuff and I’m good! I don’t even need bread (although, it certainly doesn’t hurt).

curried chicken salad with apples and raisins 1

I love love love Indian food, but have not really delved into cooking Indian food until now, besides the occasional curry here and there. (Not that chicken salad is exactly traditional Indian fare, but you know what I mean.) This chicken salad is very different from your traditional chicken salad in terms of taste, but it’s put together in a similar way which makes it easy for any new-to-Indian-cooking-cook like myself. 

I seared chicken breasts after marinating in a combination of olive oil, salt and pepper, Indian seasonings, and plain yogurt. The yogurt is optional here- but using it makes the chicken really moist and have a really great coating, much like tandoori chicken. After cooking, I shredded the meat using two forks (shredding chicken is far superior to chopping for chicken salad. It creates more nooks and crannies to which the sauce can stick). This is not an option. Shred, don’t chop. 

curried chicken salad with apples and raisins 3

You can also use other already cooked chicken for this recipe- leftover roast chicken or simply cooked with olive oil, salt, and pepper (see notes in recipe below).

Now for the fun part. Traditionally, chicken salad is made with mayonnaise. I usually make mine with sour cream (since mayo has refined oils and usually some other processed ingredients, I try to have it in moderation). THIS chicken salad, however, uses a base of hummus and plain yogurt! Mind = blown.

The idea came from a friend (who doesn’t eat dairy) when we were talking about different substitutions for mayo in tuna and chicken salads. She mentioned that hummus works really well, so I gave it a try! Since I am definitely NOT dairy-free (I’m shuddering right now at thinking of a life without cheese), I used a combination of half plain yogurt and half hummus. You can use any combination of these two ingredients you wish.

curried chicken salad with apples and raisins 2

Some hummus, yogurt, spices, chopped apples, golden raisins, and scallions later, I had myself a big bowl of delicious curried chicken salad to make sandwiches for the week for work. Do you know what kind of self-restraint I had to exercise to save it for work and not eat the entire bowl right then and there? A lot, that’s what kind. But I am so happy I did, as this was a perfect work lunch today in a whole wheat pita pocket with baby spinach.

Other serving ideas: use lettuce wraps, eat with pita chips or crackers, or add a scoop on top of a green salad.

Can’t wait to try my next Indian dish! Any favorites to share? Leave them in the comments below :-)

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins (with a dairy-free option!)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins (with a dairy-free option!)

This chicken salad is the PERFECT blend of sweet and spicy; it's simple to make with a complex flavor that will knock your socks off. Make in bulk to have sandwiches all week in a whole wheat pita pocket with baby spinach! Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken, cut into tender-sized pieces (breasts work best)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for searing
  • 1.5 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 plus 1/2 cup plain yogurt**
  • 1/2 cup prepared hummus**
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together curry powder, cumin, and tumeric in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. In a container or gallon sized plastic bag, add chicken, olive oil, 1/2 spice mixture, plenty of salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup yogurt. Stir or shake to coat, and marinate for at least 20 minutes (or overnight).
  3. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast-iron or other heavy skillet. Sear chicken until cooked through, approximately 5 minutes on each side (depending on size).
  4. Remove chicken from skillet and place to cool on a cutting board for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add to the remaining spices 1/2 cup each plain yogurt and hummus**, the diced apple, the raisins, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. When chicken has cooled a bit, shred meat with two forks into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Add chicken to bowl and stir to combine.
  8. Refrigerate overnight before eating for best results.

Notes

* You can use already cooked chicken meat if you want- just skip to the other steps and use all of the spices when mixing the chicken salad, instead of reserving some for the marinade.

** You can omit the yogurt in the marinade and use any combination of 1 total cup hummus and/or yogurt for mixing the chicken salad.

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/25/curried-chicken-salad-with-apples-and-raisins/

How to make Perfect Baked Potatoes (with yummy crispy skin)

Who doesn’t love a good baked potato? Deliciously simple, wicked easy to make, and super versatile topped with whatever fixings you want, they can be a really great, very inexpensive dinner on their own, or as a side dish with a delicious steak.

perfect baked potatoes 7

Unless you are my husband, in which case, you don’t ever want baked potatoes. For some reason, Zach isn’t really a fan. I, however, LOVE them. And since he is off galavanting in the woods right now chaperoning a camping retreat for the seniors we teach, I’m jumping at the opportunity to make a baked potato for dinner. Yum yum yum.

I like my baked potatoes with crispy, yummy, seasoned skin.  So many people don’t eat the skin on their potatoes, but they should! That’s where many of the nutrients, including tons of fiber, are. I leave the skin on for mashed potatoes, soup, when I make oven fries… not to mention, it means you don’t have to peel potatoes! (which I am hereby declaring as the WORST cooking chore ever.)

perfect baked potatoes 8

Here’s how to make perfect baked potatoes with yummy crispy skin, step by step.

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Next, you’ll want to use a vegetable brush to scrub the potatoes clean, since they can be pretty dirty. They do grow in dirt, after all. If you don’t have a vegetable brush, a clean towel will do. Then, pierce the potatoes with a fork a few times around the entire vegetable. This will allow steam to escape through the skin and proactively avoid a potato explosion in your oven.

perfect baked potatoes 1

Now, rub the potatoes all over with olive oil. Coincidentally, olive oil is an awesome natural skin moisturizer. If you aren’t weirded out by this, rub the residual olive oil on your hands into your hands and arms before rinsing it off and you’ll have silky smooth skin!

perfect baked potatoes 2

Season all sides of the potato liberally with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (if you like things spicy). I will usually lay the potatoes on a cutting board, season the side facing up, and turn the potato 90 degrees to season again, repeating until I am finished. 

Place the potatoes directly on the rack in the oven and place a cookie sheet or roasting pan underneath (to catch any drippings). Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until you can easily pierce the potato with a fork or knife. (This is one of those meals that takes a while to cook, but the hands-on time is really short.)

perfect baked potatoes 3

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes. Slice the skin on top across lengthwise with a sharp knife, cutting about a half an inch through. Then, squeeze on either end of the potato pushing in toward the center. This will make the cut open up and allow access to the inside of the potato without compromising the skin’s structural integrity. Fluff the insides with a fork and, viola! You have the perfect baked potato!

perfect baked potatoes 4

NOW FOR THE FIXINGS!!!! Sorry to yell, I just get really excited about this part. I usually go traditional: sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, and green onions. Sometimes I add crumbled bacon and/or cheddar cheese, if I’m feeling crazy. 

OR, you can try something from this awesome list of 23 Amazing Ways to Eat a Baked Potato from buzzfeed. I will definitely be trying #21 with my smoky vegetarian chili sometime in the very near future.

Enjoy!

How to make Perfect Baked Potatoes (with yummy crispy skin)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

How to make Perfect Baked Potatoes (with yummy crispy skin)

Baked potatoes are cheap, wicked easy, and SUPER tasty, especially if you make the skin crispy and delicious using this method! Makes a great dinner on their own or a side for a bigger meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (optional), to taste
  • Fixings (sour cream, butter, scallions, bacon, cheese, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Clean potatoes well with water and a vegetable brush or clean towel. Dry.
  3. Pierce potatoes with a fork a few times to allow steam to escape.
  4. Rub potatoes with olive oil and season all sides with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  5. Place potatoes directly on rack in oven with a roasting pan or cookie sheet underneath, to catch drippings.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork-tender.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Using a sharp knife, slice the skin lengthwise on top.
  9. Squeeze the sides of the potatoes to open up.
  10. Fluff the insides with a fork, and top with fixings.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/19/how-to-make-perfect-baked-potatoes-with-yummy-crispy-skin/

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Some people crave chocolate; others crave potato chips. Me? I crave buffalo chicken at least once a month. And when I get it in my head, I have to have it. There are no other options. I have to have it or else I will surely die.

So, I made good ol’ fried buffalo chicken fingers, from scratch!

buffalo chicken fingers 3

Guys, these are delicious. So so so so SO delicious.

As a person who likes to eat healthy, mostly unprocessed foods, these cravings can sometimes be a challenge. When I get the craving, my head immediately goes to the sub shop down the street, imagining their buffalo chicken finger sub. Yummmm. But what kinds of things are IN that sub? Countless processed ingredients and chemicals, no doubt.

buffalo chicken fingers 1

And so even though these aren’t “healthy” by traditional standards (they are fried, they are breaded in white flour, and are laden in traditional buffalo sauce with butter), they are made with all real ingredients (minus the flour*), and since you can make them at home, you can be more aware of what goes into them. There are no chemicals, no preservatives, and the chicken is free range/organic. Guaranteed, this is not the case in the sub shop!

AND, since breading and frying things isn’t the most leisurely cooking task you can do, it makes it easier to eat them less frequently once you know how much work goes into it! (TOTALLY worth it once in a while.)

buffalo chicken fingers 2

Plus, there’s a salad in this picture! Vegetables! Yay!

These are best served with a side of homemade ranch dressing. Use leftovers cut up in a salad or in a sandwich! Recipe below :-)

* I have heard that you can also dredge these using whole wheat flour, and that it will also work and that there is negligible difference. I have yet to try this, but if you do try it, please let me know how it is! :-)

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

For those times when you crave buffalo chicken and must have it or you will die. Made from scratch, with no added chemicals or processed ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons butter (for frying, plus more if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (such as Frank's)
  • 1/2 cup butter

Instructions

  1. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet.
  3. Place flour in a shallow bowl or dish, and beat eggs with milk in another bowl.
  4. Dredge the chicken in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then dredge in flour again.
  5. Fry chicken in oil, approximately 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked (this depends on how thick the chicken is cut) Add more butter/olive oil if necessary.
  6. Meanwhile, melt hot sauce and butter in a small saucepan together.
  7. When chicken is done cooking, drizzle hot sauce mixture over the chicken fingers.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/14/buffalo-chicken-fingers/
 

 

Creamy Potato, Caramelized Fennel, and Kale Soup

Before you flee in terror at the word “fennel,” hear me out.

I am one of the few people under the age of 82 who loves the taste of licorice. I’m the one that jumps at the black jelly beans when no one else will eat them, and I LOVE Good and Plenty. Hey! Stop looking at your computer screen with that look of disgust.

That being said, the majority of the population, my husband included, hates the taste. In fact, I came across these particular fennel bulbs because my friend got them in her CSA box and pawned them off on me (along with some excess potatoes) since she, too, hates the taste (YAY for me! It’s like the black jelly bean of sustainable produce!). Because fennel and anise have a licorice flavor, many people avoid them. And even though I love the taste of it, I also love my husband, so I set out to experiment with how to make something he and I would both like from my surprise new gift of fennel and potatoes.

creamy potato caramelized fennel and kale soup 3

The solution for minimizing the licorice flavor? Just cook the fennel for a very, very long time- long enough to caramelize it.

This soup was the result of the fennel and potatoes and also a forgotten bunch of kale that I had meant to use last week but did not. The result: this creamy soup that’s 100% vegan and 100% delicious.

creamy potato caramelized fennel and kale soup 1

The first step is to caramelize the fennel with some onions. This is one of those tasks that takes quite a long time but requires very little effort- something that you can do when you have a few hours and can get some household chores done or catch up on the latest episodes of The Pioneer Woman (love her). 

To caramelize the fennel and onions, use a heavy pot with a thick bottom. I used my blue Cuisinart enameled cast iron dutch oven(which I LOVE, especially for making whole roast chicken). Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the sliced fennel and onions. The most important part of caramelizing: do not use high heat. It may seem like there are a lot of vegetables, but because the liquid in them will slowly evaporate, they will shrink down considerably. Stir the vegetables around to coat in the oil, then leave alone for 15 minutes. Come back to the pot, stir, and if starting to stick, add a couple tablespoons of vegetable stock or water to the pot. Allow to sit for another 15 minutes, and repeat. It should take about an hour for them to caramelize properly- you will know you are done with the vegetables turn a deep brown color and reduce in size significantly.

caramelized fennel and onion

Once the fennel and onions were caramelized, I added some garlic, vegetable stock, diced potatoes, and plenty of salt and pepper. When the potatoes were cooked, I blended the soup using an immersion blender (one of the most handy, awesome kitchen tools you can have!). You can also use a regular blender, or just mash the veggies with a potato masher (this will make it more lumpy, but still tasty!). The potatoes will thicken the soup to a creamy texture, so you don’t need to add milk or cream to make it have a creamy consistency. That being said, if you want to add some cream or whole milk to the soup, now would be time time :-)

creamy potato caramelized fennel and kale soup 2

After that, I added chopped kale and allowed the heat of the soup to wilt it. You can theoretically use any chopped green you want- spinach would be awesome, or chard or turnip greens.

Top with some croutons, green onions, or serve with some crusty buttered bread. Enjoy!

Make in advance: Make this soup on the weekend in advance, allow to cool, and store in your refrigerator directly in the pot you cooked it in. When you are ready to eat, just remove the pot from the fridge and heat up for a quick meal!

Freezer directions: This soup is freezable in an airtight container for up to 6 months. When you make it, divide the soup in two, freeze one portion, and eat the other portion, so you have a meal for the future ready to go!

Creamy Potato, Caramelized Fennel, and Kale Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Creamy Potato, Caramelized Fennel, and Kale Soup

The fennel recipe for people who don't like fennel! Caramelized onions and fennel are blended with vegetable stock and potatoes to create a creamy, rich tasting soup, with fresh kale wilted in. A simple, delicious, vegan recipe that's super healthy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 bulbs fennel, quartered, core removed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.
  2. Add fennel and onions, stir to coat in olive oil, and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir, and if sticking to the pot, add 2 tablespoons vegetable stock. Allow to sit for another 15 minutes, and repeat for approximately 1 hour, or until vegetables are a deep golden color and greatly reduced in size.
  4. Add garlic; saute for 1 minute.
  5. Add remaining vegetable stock, potatoes, and plenty of salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for approximately 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  7. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until creamy. Alternatively, use a regular blender in batches or use a potato masher to make a less creamy soup.
  8. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper if necessary.
  9. Add chopped kale, stir in, cover, and allow to wilt into the soup for approximately 5 minutes.

Notes

Make in advance: Make this soup on the weekend in advance, allow to cool, and store in your refrigerator directly in the pot you cooked it in. When you are ready to eat, just remove the pot from the fridge and heat up for a quick meal!

Freezer directions: This soup is freezable in an airtight container for up to 6 months. When you make it, divide the soup in two, freeze one portion, and eat the other portion, so you have a meal for the future ready to go!

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/10/creamy-potato-caramelized-fennel-and-kale-soup/
 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Corn

Wow. Just… wow.

I am sitting here in amazement wondering, “why have I never made this before?” This is decidedly the meal that I am going to be making at least twice a week for the next few months rest of my life.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Corn 2

Jerk seasoning is very unique and very versatile. It’s extremely aromatic from the allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, spicy from the jalapenos, savory from the onion, and slightly sweet with the addition of honey. Yum yum yum. This combo is anything but bland, so if you are looking for something along those lines, I would recommend something like my shepherd’s pie (because sometimes, you just want something simple!). 

And while this is extremely simple and easy to make, the taste is anything but simple.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Corn 1

Guys, I can’t keep committing to making every single thing I discover and fall in love with twice a week. I need to be more realistic. Sigh. There’s just not enough time (or stomach space) to eat all the delicious things in this world.

Also, moderation. Yup, that.

I made chicken drumsticks and seared them in a cast iron skillet, finished cooking in the oven, and cooked fresh corn on the cob from the Salem farmer’s market- it was picked THIS MORNING! And… wait for it… mixed melted butter with jerk seasoning and brushed it on the corn. (WHOA. I know.)

corn on the cob

Enjoy this jerk chicken on its own, cut up in a salad, in a sandwich, or as a base for chicken salad. Or, in PASTA! (getting lots of ideas in my head all of a sudden… uh oh.) You can also use jerk seasoning on fish (maybe as a substitute for fresh lemon pepper?), on veggies, and other meats. The possibilities are endless.

Best of all? We have leftover jerk corn that I’m going to use this weekend to make black bean and corn salad to bring to work with tortilla chips. I love using leftovers up!

Hope you enjoy this as much as Oscar, the most interesting cat in the world, did:

the most interesting cat in the world 2

Note: The first time I made this I used my cast iron skillet to cook the chicken the entire time. Because of the high heat and fresh jalapenos, garlic, and scallions, the seasoning burned quickly resulting in every single smoke alarm in our apartment going off. It was not the most relaxing cooking experience. This is why I recommend searing then roasting in the oven. Alternatively, you can bake the entire time- you just won’t have as crispy skin as searing first!

Weekend prep: Mix the seasoning and marinate the chicken, and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. Then, when you are ready to cook, it will only take about 20 minutes!

Variation: This recipe uses some pantry items (dried spices) and some fresh ingredients. To make a jerk seasoning completely from pantry items (so you can make in bulk and keep on the shelf), omit the scallions, substitute the jalapenos with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and substitute the minced fresh garlic with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Omit the honey or replace with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Freezer directions: Freeze marinated raw chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 6 months. When ready to cook, remove from freezer and place in refrigerator 2 days before cooking to defrost.

Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken

This jerk seasoning is BURSTING with amazing Caribbean flavors- spicy, savory, salty, sweet, and extremely aromatic with the addition of allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Use the seasoning on grilled chicken, fish, or vegetables, or mix with melted butter and brush on corn on the cob. You will want to put it on EVERYTHING!

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs. chicken drumsticks, thighs, or breasts
  • 4 ears corn, husked
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly and finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small jalapenos finely chopped (de-seed if you do not want it to be spicy)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except for the chicken and corn) in a gallon-sized freezer bag, bowl, or container. Reserve 1 teaspoon seasoning.
  2. Add chicken to bag or bowl; toss to coat.
  3. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight.
  4. Sear chicken skin-side down on grill pan or heavy skillet for approximately 2 minutes. Grill on other side for approximately 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to oven proof dish (or keep in skillet if oven proof). Bake the chicken at 375 for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked. (alternatively, you can bake the chicken for the entire time for 30 minutes, or until cooked.)
  5. Meanwhile, cook corn however you like (I recommend boiling or grilling).
  6. When chicken and corn are ready, mix melted butter with reserved jerk seasoning and brush on corn.
  7. Eat with lots of napkins.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/07/jamaican-jerk-chicken-and-corn/

DIY No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

I am hesitant to put this down on paper (as you will) since writing it will seem to make it true. But alas, there is no avoiding it. This summer has come to an end, and not just because New England seems to be on strike with producing warm weather.

Zach and I must return to work as teachers tomorrow. Siggghhh.

I know, I know… we are lucky we had a summer vacation at all. Sorry, I got sulky there for a second. Let me look at the silver lining! For one thing, I can get back to problem solving for this blog and really hone in on the real food for busy people aspect… I have drifted away from this since I have had inordinate amounts of time for the past six weeks to make whatever cooking creations from scratch I wanted! So, good news for the blog.

For another thing, back to school means more snacks, which I like to keep as healthy and as energizing as possible, as well as easy-to-make. So, without further ado (and complaining), the first back-to-school snack on the menu: DIY chewy granola bars!

DIY chewy granola bars 1

What is awesome about these granola bars? I will tell you.

  • You can basically use any combination of ingredients you want! This recipe consists of oats, nuts/seeds, and dried fruit, bound together with coconut oil and sweetened with honey. 
  • These are no-bake granola bars, which makes them really easy! The method is similar to making rice crispy treats- just heat up some liquid ingredients, add the dry, and press into a baking dish and allow to cool. Boom. Done.
  • They stick together! There is no crumbly mess! (well, maybe there are one or two crumbs, but almost every other granola bar recipe I have made has resulted more in granola rather than a bar, which is less portable and totally not as fun).
  • They are super duper healthy. No refined sugar, good-for-you coconut oil, and lots of fiber and good fats from the oats, nuts, and seeds. It will keep you going for a long time.
  • Did I mention they taste amazing? Especially since you can add whatever fruits and flavors you want, catering it to your own tastes.

DIY chewy granola bars 3

When I made these, I used what I had available. I had dried figs leftover from a recipe I made months ago, plus some almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. I have a never-ending amount of chia seeds (anyone else have this problem? They really should come in smaller packages, if you ask me.) so I threw some of those in there as well, and since I made a delicious coconut cardamom granola a while ago, I added cardamom for flavor, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, which paired VERY well with the figs.

DIY chewy granola bars 2

In the recipe below, I explain the ratios I used for these cardamom fig granola bars, as well as how to add your own ingredients. On my mental list of future granola bar combinations:

  • Orange cranberry (I’ll add orange zest as a spice and dried cranberries to the bars)
  • Ginger molasses (I’ll substitute molasses for the honey)
  • Carrot cake (think I can use shredded carrots in place of dried fruit?)
  • Honey almond (simple, no extra spices and omit the fruit)
  • Peanut butter (add peanuts and peanut butter to the mix)
  • Chocolate coconut (coconut flakes and cocoa powder)

If you make these and find a magical combination, or if you have any other ideas for combos, please share it below!


One important note: it is very important to press these into the baking dish very well- as much as you can. I used my Lodge Cast-Iron Grill Press to make sure it was sufficiently pressed, but you can also just use your hands. Just cover the top of the granola bars with parchment paper and press away!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sulk because summer is over. (and by sulk, I mean eat a granola bar) :-)

DIY No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 8 bars

DIY No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

A no-bake, easy chewy granola bar recipe that comes out perfect every time with coconut oil and no refined sugar! Add any nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and spices you want. A perfect back to school snack!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1/4 cup honey (or other sweetener, such as molasses, agave, etc.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • other spices/flavors (I used 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup nuts/seeds (I used 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, and 1 tablespoon chia seeds)
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit (I used chopped dried figs. You can omit the fruit if you want.)

Instructions

  1. Melt coconut oil, honey, salt, and other spices/flavors in a medium saucepan.
  2. When liquid mixture melts and becomes a bit foamy, turn the heat down to low, add the oats and stir to coat.
  3. Add the nuts/seeds, and stir to coat.
  4. Finally, add the dried fruit, and fold in to the mixture.
  5. Continue cooking on low heat for just a couple minutes (this will soften the ingredients slightly before you cool them, allowing them to stick together better).
  6. Meanwhile, line a small baking dish (mine measures 6" by 8") with parchment paper or plastic wrap, leaving the sides of the paper/wrap long.
  7. Add the mixture to the dish; press with the back of a wooden spoon so it is evenly spread out.
  8. Fold the parchment paper/plastic wrap over the granola so the top is covered (get more if necessary). Press the granola aggressively, so it is as packed as you can make it. I used my grill press, but you can also use a dish or cup, or your hands. Just make sure it is well packed and evenly distributed!
  9. Place in refrigerator and allow to cool completely- at least two hours, but I recommend overnight.
  10. Remove granola from parchment paper- it should be in one big block. Cut into 6-8 bars, and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for about 2 weeks.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/08/03/diy-no-bake-chewy-granola-bars/

 

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

I have two HUGE jars of these and I could not be more excited about it!

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

Ever since learning to pickle my own jalapenos and sweet dill cucumbers, I’ve had pickling on the brain. Every time I have a bunch of extra veggies, I think… hmm, can I pickle this? And since I make refrigerator pickles instead of properly preserving them by canning (which is still on my list of things to learn how to do), it is very easy and hassle-free, but will still last a very long time in the fridge.

Yum… perfect for snacking, for sandwiches, and my favorite… in a bloody mary!

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots are perfect for a bloody mary!

The first time I tried one of these bad boys was at Elizabeth’s in the bywater in New Orleans… only two blocks from where I lived. Best. Brunch. Ever. I am not kidding. If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, go here. Get the praline bacon (yes, I did just say praline bacon), and order a bloody mary- they are delicious, served at any time of day, and come with the best spicy pickled green bean you will ever have.

But, these are a pretty awesome substitute since I live 1,542 miles away from Elizabeth’s (yes, I did just google map that)

I don’t know if you know this, but we have an expert cocktail maker living in the house. Zach has perfected the old fashioned and Manhattan (both of which helped get us through the long, cold winter), makes a mean margarita for Mexican Mondays, and has now mastered an awesome bloody mary.* Between my cooking and his cocktails, we may have to start opening up our kitchen for business!

Back to the pickles. If you are missing one of the ingredients in the recipe, it’s OK- the most important things are the brine (vinegar, sugar, salt, and water), the cayenne pepper (for the spicy factor), and of course, the green beans. You don’t have to add carrots, but I did since I liked the pretty color combination and since I had them in my fridge already. This couldn’t be easier- simply put green beans and carrots in a jar, add spices, and pour hot brine over them. Done! 

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

*A word of caution: if you consume a bloody mary during the day you will likely need a nap afterward. Especially if you are me.

*Another word of caution: liquor contains a lot of sugar. Add this to the more obvious reasons why you should consume it in moderation. Many people who follow a strictly “real food” diet cut it all together- I’m more of an all things in moderation kind of girl, and I don’t believe in cutting anything completely out of my diet. I aim for 90-95% real, clean, unprocessed food so I can still enjoy things like cocktails, Reeses PB cups, and white pasta/bread every once in a while. For what is life without Reeses?! I do not want to find out.

Recipe below is for one, quart-sized mason jar. I doubled it since I had a whole pound of green beans to make two jars. Enjoy! 

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Spicy Cajun Pickled Green Beans and Carrots

You'll find these pickled green beans everywhere in New Orleans, especially in bloody marys! These are super easy, they pack a punch, and are great for snacking, for sandwiches, and of course, bloody marys.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 2 carrots, sliced into "green bean" size
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Fit as many green beans and carrots as you can into a jar, vertically.
  2. Add the garlic and bay leaf to the jar, using a chopstick or something similar to slide them down the sides of the jar.
  3. Add oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, celery seed, and peppercorns directly to the jar.
  4. Bring vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan to make a brine, stirring to make sure sugar and salt are dissolved.
  5. Pour brine over vegetables in jar, making sure to cover all the vegetables and fill to the top.
  6. Allow jar to cool, and keep in refrigerator for 6 months. These will taste best if you allow them to sit in the fridge at least overnight, and the flavor will intensify as time goes on.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/28/spicy-cajun-pickled-green-beans-and-carrots/

Flounder and Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Pepper

I have been eating this at least once a week ever since I discovered the glory of fresh lemon pepper. I would hereby like to declare this as the Perfect Summer Meal. (Although I will definitely continue eating this all year round as well.)

 flounder and asparagus with fresh lemon pepper 3

Have you ever had the lemon pepper seasoning that comes in the spice aisle? Well, this is NOT that lemon pepper seasoning. I can’t believe I didn’t discover this sooner. It’s bright and citrusy without being too acidic, and adds HUGE, healthy flavor to an otherwise bland filet of fish and plain veggies. The result is a very healthy, light meal that you will want to eat every. single. day.

Here is the magical equation for all your fresh lemon pepper needs:

lemon zest + cracked pepper + olive oil + salt + garlic = fresh lemon pepper

The proportions of the ingredients are flexible; I provided measurements in the recipe below but if you just estimate, you really can’t go wrong. I used flounder and asparagus, but you can use any fish or vegetable you want here- cod, salmon, tilapia… zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, etc. Or, with chicken! It’s a great way to buy whatever is on sale or in season to keep an otherwise “fancy” dinner within your budget. I really should have just titled this post “Whatever You Want to Cook with Fresh Lemon Pepper.”

Another awesome thing about this meal- you use only one skillet (!!!) for the entire meal, which makes clean-up a breeze. I’ve been using my Calphalon nonstick skillet a lot lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cast iron skillet, and it will always be my favorite, but it’s just so heavy and it’s so hot outside. And, for light dishes like fish and veggies without a lot of natural fats, a non-stick skillet works really well without the fear of burning or sticking.

The asparagus (or whatever veggie you are using) is sauteed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and just a little bit of the lemon pepper seasoning in the skillet. No need to get a bowl dirty- just mix it up right in the skillet! As the veggies are cooking, rinse the fish and pat dry (rinsing in cold water will help dilute any unpleasant “fishy” taste, while patting dry will ensure the fish browns properly and the lemon pepper sticks to it), then coat with the rest of the lemon pepper seasoning on both sides. When the veggies are done, just transfer them to plates and cook the fish in the same skillet. Fish cooks extremely quickly, and with only a couple of minutes on each side, the veggies will still be nice and warm when you serve the meal.

Now, how easy is that? (Uh oh, I think I’ve been watching too much Barefoot Contessa on my summer vacation…)

flounder and asparagus with fresh lemon pepper 1

The lemon pepper can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for about a week until you are ready to use it, but even if you wait to make the entire dish all at once, it should not take more than 30 minutes.

Here’s the thing about lemon pepper- you use only the lemon zest. This leaves you with a lot of zest-less lemons. But you know what they say… when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Or… make avgolemono! Or… clean your cutting boards, brighten the metal on your sink and shower, or clean your dish disposal (or any of the other suggestions listed here). I chose the former to have with our meal- just mix the juice of the three lemons you have already zested with 1/2 cup sugar and 5 cups of water! Boom. Lemonade.

Hope you enjoy this Perfect Summer Meal as much as we did!

Flounder and Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Pepper

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Flounder and Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Pepper

Bright and citrusy without being too acidic, fresh lemon pepper will brighten up fish, vegetables, chicken, or other dishes! With flounder and asparagus, it is the PERFECT light, healthy summer meal.

Ingredients

  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 more for sauteing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. flounder, rinsed and patted dry (or other fish)
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed (or other vegetable)
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine lemon zest, pepper, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt to taste in a small bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add asparagus, salt and pepper to taste, and a small spoonful of the lemon pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon) to the skillet. Stir to coat, and saute until browned and cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, while asparagus is cooking, coat the fish with the rest of the lemon pepper evenly on both sides.
  4. When asparagus is cooked (after approximately 10 minutes), remove to plates to serve.
  5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet and place the fish in the skillet.
  6. After 2 minutes, flip fish to the other side.
  7. After about 2 more minutes, the fish should be cooked through (if it flakes easily with a fork, it is done). Remove to plates with the asparagus and serve with lemon wedges if desired.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/23/flounder-and-asparagus-with-fresh-lemon-pepper/

 

Lightened-up Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Whoa.

Did I just discover the holy grail of Eggplant Parmesan? Methinks yes.

eggplant parmesan stacks 1

I love eggplant parmesan. And chicken parmesan. And [fill in the blank] parmesan (even veal, which I tried once, before I decided that I never wanted to eat baby animals again). It’s basically guaranteed to be good even at a so-so restaurant, but homemade… well, you can’t beat that.

[fill in the blank] parmesan can be somewhat complicated to make, because traditionally it involves breading and frying the [fill in the blank] part, THEN layering it with delicious sauce and cheeses, THEN baking it. It generally creates a huge mess and is fairly time consuming, regardless of how delicious it is. It can also be fairly heavy due to the frying, leaving you full of regrets, lying on the couch unable to move (no? Just me? OK then).

So tonight, I tried something different. Inspired by a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Meatless (one of my favorite cookbooks), I made individual eggplant parmesan stacks and sauteed the eggplant pieces with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, rather than breading and frying them. Then, I simply stacked with sauce, cheese, and basil, and baked! Delicious! And since I had a bunch of marinara sauce already made, the whole process only took about 25 minutes (besides the optional way I prepped the eggplant- see note below) and I barely broke a sweat (partly because the weather has cooled off substantially, but also because it was very easy).

eggplant parmesan stacks steps

And, since Zach is still out of town (WAHHHHH, again), it was incredibly easy to make this meal for just me tonight (especially since I went grocery shopping after my last post). I made two stacks and it was more than enough. If I had paired it with a side salad or pasta, one would have been plenty for dinner (recipe below is for four stacks, which feeds two or four people depending on how hungry they are). Despite the stacks’ small size and their light ingredients, the richness of the eggplant and the combination of flavors and fresh cheeses makes this a very satisfying, hearty meal.

eggplant parmesan stacks 2

I know what you are thinking right now, and why yes, I DID make that gorgeous loaf of homemade whole wheat bread in the background! I am experimenting with making a hassle-free whole-wheat bread from scratch and will post results in the near future. But if I am being honest, as pretty as it looks, it came out a bit dense. I have some tweaking to do before I post a recipe. Even so, this fresh bread was delicious with olive oil bread dip on the side!

Recipe and how to prep the eggplant below- enjoy! :-)

Optional eggplant-prep: Eggplant can sometimes be a little bit bitter and cause a bit of indigestion if not cooked thoroughly and prepared properly. In addition to cooking it thoroughly, one other easy thing can be done in advance to reduce the bitterness, if you have time. About a half an hour to an hour before cooking, slice the eggplant, salt it, and place it upright in a colander with a clean towel underneath, or in the sink. The bitter liquid in the eggplant will be drawn out by the salt and drip through the colander, almost like it is sweating (I apologize for the somewhat unappetizing comparison). After 1/2 to 1 hour, remove the eggplant and blot dry with a clean towel. Not only will the eggplant be less bitter and more easily digestible, but it will brown more effectively when sautéing because it is dry! Again, this step is not vital, but whenever you cook eggplant it is a good idea to do this if you have time (kind of like how soaking beans is way better than not soaking beans before you cook them- but it’s not necessary!).

eggplant parmesan stacks salting

 

Lightened-up Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 stacks

Lightened-up Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

These eggplant parmesan stacks are a lighter, quicker version of traditional eggplant parmesan. Eggplant is sauteed in olive oil, then stacked with sauce, cheese, and basil, and baked! Delicious, fresh, and super easy.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices of eggplant, approximately 1/4 inch thick (about 1 large or 2 small eggplants)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup julienne-cut fresh basil
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. (optional): at least 1/2 hour before cooking, sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices, place upright in a colander on a clean towel or in the sink, and allow the liquid to be drawn from the eggplant slices and drain. Blot slices dry with a clean towel.
  2. Season eggplant slices with pepper (and salt, if skipping optional first step) and saute for approximately 2 minutes on each side in a large skillet on medium-high heat in olive oil. Set on paper towel to drain.
  3. On a parchment-covered or greased baking sheet, arrange four slices of eggplant.
  4. Top each slice of eggplant with a spoonful of tomato sauce, a small piece of mozzarella cheese, approximately a tablespoon of parmesan cheese, and a pinch of the fresh basil.
  5. Repeat the layers two more times, omitting the basil on the last layer.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted (this doesn't take long because all the ingredients are already cooked and the eggplant is warm!)
  7. After removing from oven, add remaining basil on top of each stack (this is added after baking so it doesn't dry up or burn)
  8. Serve with a little bit of crushed red pepper and some fresh cracked black pepper on top, if desired.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/07/17/lightened-up-eggplant-parmesan-stacks/