Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Is there ever a bad occasion for chicken soup? It’s great when you’re sick, when you’re healthy, when you’ve had a little too much wine at a wedding the night before (ahem…I plead the fifth), when you’re cold, when you’re a kid, and when you’re an adult. I don’t think there is another meal as soul-satisfying, easy to make, and simple as chicken soup.

I must really love chicken soup of all kinds, because this is the third fourth version I’ve posted on this blog (Easy chicken soup with lemon and dill, Avgolemono, and Smoky chicken tortilla soup). This version with wild rice is really, really tasty- it has all the classic tastes of traditional chicken soup with a bit of an earthy, nutty flavor from the wild rice.

chicken and wild rice soup 2

Fun fact: did you know that wild rice is actually a seed, not a grain? And that it contains as much protein as quinoa? And it has a lot of fiber? It’s a great, healthy thing to keep in your pantry (and if you have extra, you should make wild rice casserole).

Whenever I make soup, I make a huge batch and freeze half of it. Sometimes, I forget about the things in my freezer. Often, I’ll go through my freezer and make an exciting discovery, and do a quick celebratory dance around my kitchen. It was no exception with this soup- even though I made it only a couple of weeks ago, I was really psyched to realize that I had it ready to go. Just run some warm water over the container you freeze it in to dislodge it, then pop the frozen soup right into a pot and heat up on the stove. So easy!

 chicken and wild rice soup 3

I’m going to make a plug for you to get a slow cooker right now if you don’t have one. It’s a busy person’s best friend, and in my opinion, it’s the best way to cook a whole chicken (not to mention countless other things). A whole chicken is cheaper by the pound than buying cut up chicken pieces and you can get so much more out of it. A couple of weeks ago, I threw a whole chicken in a slow cooker with some salt, pepper, and a little bit of water, and came home from work to an entire cooked chicken and some chicken stock. I made chicken pot pie with half the meat. THEN, I put the carcass back in to the slow cooker, added water and some celery/carrot/onion scraps, and made chicken stock. THEN, I made this soup with the other half of the meat and the stock.

This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s not. While using a slow cooker does take some foresight and planning, it takes hardly any extra hands-on time, making it really great for busy people who are on a budget (like me)!

chicken and wild rice soup 1

Speaking of slow cookers, you can make this soup on the stovetop OR in the slow cooker (see notes in recipe below for instructions).

You can also make this soup with any pre-cooked chicken you want, and store-bought stock, to make it extra quick and easy. Enjoy!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This chicken soup is soul-satisfying and easy to make, with a nutty, earthy taste from the wild rice. Make on your stovetop or slow cooker, and freeze the extra for a rainy (or sick) day!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • plenty of salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Saute the celery, carrots, and onions in butter in a large pot until softened (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add the chicken and chicken stock; bring to a boil.
  3. Add the wild rice, salt, and pepper; stir.
  4. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

Notes

Slow cooker instructions: Add all ingredients except for butter into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Freezer directions: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. When ready to eat, run warm water over the outside of the container to dislodge the soup, and heat frozen soup on the stovetop in a pot over medium heat until heated through.

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/28/chicken-and-wild-rice-soup/

Mini Meatloaves

Where did meatloaf get such a bad reputation? It’s AMAZING! It’s like a big fluffy burger without the bun. Comfort food at its finest. What’s not to like? On it’s own, with ketchup, in a sandwich, with gravy… there are so many possibilities for such a simple supper.

mini meatloaves 3

And when the meatloaf is made mini, it’s extra amazing. Why?

  • Not only do they taste amazing, they are also so adorable!
  • They are extremely quick and easy- with only 5 minutes of prep time (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • They can be made in bulk and frozen individually for really easy future meals
  • Because they are small, they take half the cooking time of traditional meatloaf (only 25 minutes!)
  • Meatloaf is already an inexpensive meal to make, and by making the mini loaves, it’s a little easier to make it go a bit further (and prevent you from going in for too many helpings).
  • It’s only 5 ingredients besides salt and pepper!

Have I convinced you yet?

mini meatloaves 1

Seriously, this has to be one of the most easy, simple things I’ve cooked in quite some time. And, you know me… I LOVE quick and easy*, especially with my busy schedule. I made mine in bulk with two pounds of ground beef (my grocery store has a delicious grass-fed brand that’s under $5 a pound, so I stocked up), which yields eight mini meatloaves. That’s four (FOUR!) dinners for me and Zach. In only 5 minutes of prep, and for about $10 total. The cost to benefit ratio here is outrageous!

mini meatloaves 2

You can make meatloaf with either breadcrumbs or oats. Since I usually make my own breadcrumbs by putting whole wheat bread in a food processor (to avoid the extra scary ingredients in most breadcrumbs), I opted for the quicker and easier option of oats this time. This is simply a mixture of ground beef, eggs, oats, salt, pepper, and a little soy sauce and hot sauce for an extra boost of flavor. The mixture is divided into eight parts (originally, I did six, which you can do if you have a big appetite. We wanted ours a little smaller next time) and formed into small loaves, with some individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for later.

When you are ready to bake, place in a buttered baking dish, and add ketchup or barbecue sauce to top it off. Or, add nothing! It’s delicious plain as well :-) Enjoy!

* I gave my recipe pages a little makeover! Do you like the new visual gallery? It’s from an amazing new plugin from Strawberries for Supper called Visual Recipe Index. If you have a blog and don’t have a visual index- go get this plugin! Now!

Mini Meatloaves

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 mini loaves

Serving Size: 1 loaf

Mini Meatloaves

Mini meatloaves are delicious and adorable, but they also are very quick and easy to make, use only 5 ingredients, and can be made in bulk and frozen for later. How easy is that?

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • optional: few dashes of hot sauce
  • optional: ketchup or barbecue sauce

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except for ketchup/barbecue sauce in a large bowl.
  2. Mix well- for best results, use hands.
  3. Divide the mixture into eight parts and form them into loaf shapes.
  4. If not cooking right away, follow directions below to freeze/store them*
  5. Place loaves in a buttered baking dish and spread ketchup or barbecue sauce on top, if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Notes

This recipe is for a bulk batch of mini meatloaves. You can cut it in half, if you want to!

* Make-ahead / freezer directions: After all the loaves have been formed, wrap the ones you don't want to cook right away like burritos in plastic wrap. They can be kept in the fridge for a few days until you are ready to cook, or freezer for up to 6 months. Before cooking, make sure you defrost in the fridge for at least 24 hours to fully unfreeze the meat, otherwise you risk overcooking the outside and undercooking the inside.

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/23/mini-meatloaves/

Easy Baklava

One of my oldest and dearest friends got married last night :-)

It was a beautiful, simple, and elegant wedding, and it perfectly suited the couple. Instead of a traditional multi-tiered cake to feed all the guests for dessert, they had a small cake and asked a few friends and family to make a dessert to be served alongside it. I was honored and happy to make one of my family’s favorite desserts for this special occasion- baklava!

Easy Baklava 2

Baklava is one of those things that most people don’t make from scratch. Usually, people have it when they visit a Greek deli or go to their local Greek festival once a year. It’s a little intimidating, especially for non-Greek folks. But let me assure you, this recipe is easy to make (albeit a tad tedious to assemble) and uses only a few ingredients. It’s a delicious, impressive dessert that’s buttery, sweet, and filled with the warming spices of cinnamon and clove. 

Easy Baklava 1

Traditionally, baklava is topped with a syrup consisting of sugar, honey, and water. I cheat with a trick my mom taught me- instead of making a syrup, I just use plain ol’ honey to top it off. (to ensure the honey is not too thick and coats the baklava evenly, I set it on top of the stove while the baklava is baking, which heats it up and thins it out really well.) 

This recipe is certainly not 100% unprocessed (there is white flour in the phyllo dough and white sugar in the nut mixture), as most of my recipes are. However. Using honey does cut down on the amount of white sugar in favor of a more natural one. Plus, nuts are super good for you! So, not only is it a wicked impressive dish to make- it’s also certainly not the MOST unhealthy thing you could consume for dessert :-)

Easy Baklava 3

Working with phyllo dough: Phyllo dough can sometimes be difficult to work with, so just make sure you are in a patient mood when using it. Phyllo consists of very thin layers of dough separated by a dusting of flour. Sometimes the layers are stuck together, which can make them tear. This is fine- just patch up pieces of the phyllo as necessary! No one will ever know. In addition, you will need to work rather quickly, since the dough has a tendency to dry out. One final thing- the phyllo dough will come in a size that needs to be cut down. Put your baking dish on top of the phyllo after rolling out and use a sharp knife to cut the stack of dough to the size of the baking dish by tracing it- and put your geometry skills to work by getting as many pieces as possible out of the dough.

Making ahead: Baklava can be assembled ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to bake it, which makes it a really great option for entertaining!

Serving suggestion: You can make baklava sundaes by chopping up a piece of baklava and serving it over vanilla ice cream. YUM.

Easy Baklava

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Easy Baklava

Baklava is a delicious, impressive dessert that's buttery, sweet, and filled with the warming spices of cinnamon and clove. It's not as hard as you think- especially with this super easy trick!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. phyllo dough, thawed*
  • 5 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1.5 sticks butter, melted
  • one 16 oz. jar honey
  • whole cloves**

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and butter a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Mix together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Unroll the phyllo dough and, using a sharp knife, cut the stack down to the size of the baking dish (You can place the dish on top of the phyllo to trace it. You should be able to get two baking dish size cuts out of the stack, with a few scraps.)
  4. Place one piece of phyllo on the bottom of the baking dish. Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter on top of it. Layer another piece of phyllo and repeat until you have 6 layers.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the walnut mixture on top of phyllo layers in baking dish.
  6. Layer 6 more layers of phyllo on the walnut mixture, and repeat until you have no mixture left, ending with the rest of the phyllo dough (the top layer may have more than 6 layers).
  7. Spread the rest of the butter evenly on top of the last layer of phyllo.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut the top layers of phyllo into small squares, diamonds, or triangles.
  9. Stick a whole clove in the center of each piece.
  10. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. While the baklava is baking, place the jar of honey on top of the oven. This will thin it out and make it easier to pour.
  12. When baklava is done, pour entire jar of honey on top of baklava.
  13. Allow to cool completely, then finish cutting the baklava through to the bottom.

Notes

* To thaw phyllo dough, place in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using. It will last for about a month in the refrigerator. ** You can make this without the cloves, but I recommend having them- it makes the baklava look beautiful and gives it a great flavor!

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/21/easy-baklava/

Chicken Pot Pie (with a whole wheat biscuit crust)

“Cozy” has been the theme of the week. The crisp fall air has rolled in, and the pumpkin beer has arrived. When Zach and I get home from work all we want are flannel pajamas, slippers, dim lighting, and lit candles… and of course a cozy, warm supper to match the ambiance.

Is there any meal cozier than chicken pot pie? Methinks not.

chicken pot pie 4

Even Oscar is hopping on the cozy bandwagon! However, he declined to partake in the pot pie. He is a cat, after all.

Cozy Oscar Kingdom of Blanket

This was the best thing I’ve eaten all week. It’s so comforting, delicious, and warming. It comes together in a jiffy with a quick and easy whole wheat biscuit crust (no rolling out pie dough for this recipe!), making the meal 100% real/unprocessed, not counting a small amount of white flour used to thicken the gravy.*

And, it’s made in one pot! Just make sure you use a pot that can go from stovetop to oven. I used my Dutch oven, but you could use a cast iron skillet as well. It’s also really versatile- you can throw whatever veggies you have laying around in it (I added broccoli to mine) and any herbs or seasonings you want. 

chicken pot pie 1

Use leftover roast chicken to make this, or any other pre-cooked shredded chicken. For mine, I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker all day when I was at work (with just salt and pepper for seasoning, and water added to the pot), so I had both cooked chicken AND chicken broth to use for this recipe when I got home. I left no waste behind- I actually went so far as to use the chicken fat to saute the veggies and add to the biscuit dough (as suggested in my original Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book). I definitely recommend trying this- not only was it amazingly tasty, but I got a ton of satisfaction knowing I was getting as much use out of the chicken as possible. (You can totally use butter too, though. No pressure. It will still be delicious!)

chicken pot pie 2

The meal can be prepped ahead of time as well: simply make the filling and keep in the fridge, and when you are ready to cook it mix up the biscuit topping, spoon on top of the filling, and bake! One more tip- As I was sitting down to eat the leftovers today at work, a coworker mentioned a brilliant idea. She makes her pot pies in individual ramekins, then freezes them for when she wants a quick and easy dinner for one. Genius!

Now, back to being cozy with my kitty, my husband, and my slippers. Ahhhhhh :-)

*A note about thickening the gravy- I’ve heard mixed things about using whole wheat flour for this purpose. I’ve never tried it so I can’t confirm or deny how well it works, but I tend to use white flour as a thickening agent without batting an eye, since it’s not the main event in the dish.

 

Chicken Pot Pie (with a whole wheat biscuit crust)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Chicken Pot Pie (with a whole wheat biscuit crust)

With a whole wheat biscuit topping instead of a traditional pie crust, this one-pot meal comes together in a jiffy! Made with 100% clean, real ingredients. The coziest comfort food out there.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons melted butter or chicken fat
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or parsley, thyme, and/or oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons white flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of butter or chicken fat in a heavy dutch oven or cast iron skillet.
  3. Add onions, celery, carrots, broccoli and saute until tender (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add white flour; stir until vegetables are coated. Add peas.
  5. Add broth and stir (gravy should begin to thicken). Season with salt and pepper liberally.
  6. Add chicken and 1 cup milk. Stir, heat through, and turn off heat once it is thickened.
  7. Meanwhile, mix together whole wheat flour, baking powder, remaining 4 tablespoons butter or chicken fat, and remaining 1 cup milk in a small bowl. Season with salt. Stir until combined.
  8. Spoon biscuit dough on top of chicken mixture (it does not have to be evenly spread- it will expand while cooking and float to the top).
  9. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/17/chicken-pot-pie-with-a-whole-wheat-biscuit-crust/

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Ever have a recipe that you used to make ALL the time- like, every week- and then one day, you completely forget about it? This is that recipe for me. I haven’t made it in two years, and I re-discovered it a few days ago.

I’m SO happy I did! I may be back to my once-a-week schedule. Yum yum yum.

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Spicy quinoa and black beans is the ultimate healthy yet satisfying (and scrumptious!) dish. And it’s a really easy, one-pot meal! It’s vegan-friendly and is packed with nutrient-rich grains, vegetables, beans, and tons of flavor. 

We had this for dinner topped with sour cream, monterey jack cheese, avocado, and hot sauce (chipotle tabasco sauce is my absolute favorite… go get some!) With tons of leftovers, we made burritos to take with us to work for lunch the next day… again, with all the fixings. It was like Chipotle, but healthier and cheaper!

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Spicy Quinoa and Black Bean Burritos

I love it when a meal is super versatile, and can be used for multiple purposes. Next time I make frozen burritos, I think I’m going to use it in place of the beans and rice. It also makes a great side to any other Mexican dish you are making, and is a great vegetarian/vegan dish to take to a potluck. I imagine that it would be delicious topped with a fried or poached egg for brunch as well (because let’s face it- anything topped with an egg instantly becomes brunch!), or as the base for a veggie burger.

I clearly have lots of experimenting to do :-)

Hope you enjoy!

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Spicy Quinoa and Black Beans

This easy, one-pot, vegan-friendly dish is sure to satisfy anyone who loves bold flavor! Nutrient-rich grains, vegetables, and beans make for a hearty meal topped with sour cream and avocado, or side to your favorite Mexican dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth (water can also be substituted in a pinch!)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (or two cans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Optional: fixings for serving (sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, hot sauce, limes, etc.)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, saute the onion and bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat until browned (approximately 5 minutes).
  2. Add garlic; saute for one minute.
  3. Add quinoa, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper; stir to coat.
  4. Add vegetable or chicken broth, stir, bring to a boil, and cover.
  5. Turn heat to low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked.
  6. Add frozen corn, black beans, and cilantro; continue cooking on low heat until beans and corn are heated through (approximately 5 minutes).
  7. Serve on it's own, or top with optional fixings in a bowl or in a wrap as a burrito.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/13/spicy-quinoa-and-black-beans/
 

New England Baked Haddock- real food edition

If you are from New England, you have had this. If you aren’t from here or haven’t had it… you need to get it in your mouth ASAP. And I mean like, now.

Well, read this post first, then run to the store and get all the supplies you need for it.

… did I mention this recipe has only three ingredients, besides salt and pepper? Yes, three. Fish, butter, and bread crumbs. And lemon, if you want it! Which makes this a simple, quick, and inexpensive meal to make.

New England Baked Haddock 3

This is a very traditional dish up here in New England, and is often served as the fish option at weddings and other shindigs. It can be ordered at almost any seafood restaurant, and is so melt-in-your-mouth yummy, it will be hard to go back to eating fish any other way!

New England baked haddock is perfect for when you want something pescetarian, but a little more soul-satisfying than your light and healthy grilled fish. It’s almost like fish meets casserole. It’s warm and hearty, and will satisfy even the meat lovingest of the meat lovers as a main course.

New England Baked Haddock 1

Traditionally, baked haddock is made using Ritz crackers (which are from New England) crumbled up with butter and spread on top of the fish, then baked in the oven with lemon and herbs. However, you can get the same delicious effect by using whole wheat bread crumbs and lots of butter (to get that awesome buttery Ritz-y taste). 

This way, you can avoid all of the ridiculous ingredients, including HFCS, in Ritz crackers: UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE {VITAMIN B1}, RIBOFLAVIN {VITAMIN B2}, FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, LEAVENING (CALCIUM PHOSPHATE AND/OR BAKING SODA), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SOY LECITHIN, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NATURAL FLAVOR. For such an innocent-seeming cracker, it’s a hotbed of processed ingredients.

Yep, I’ll stick with homemade bread crumbs and butter any time (I just toast up some whole wheat bread, throw it in my food processor for a minute, and bam! Homemade bread crumbs!).

New England Baked Haddock 2

OK, now you may go to the store, get your ingredients, and make this as soon as you get back. Go! Now! And then come back here and let me know what you think :-)

And just so you know, you can use any light-tasting white fish (haddock, tilapia, cod, pollock, catfish, flounder, etc.) for this meal. That way, if you are like me, you can buy what’s on sale and save a little moolah :-)

Enjoy!

New England Baked Haddock- real food edition

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

New England Baked Haddock- real food edition

New England baked haddock is one of the most delicious fish dishes you will ever have, yet it is so simple! With only three ingredients and 5 minutes of hands-on time, you will have an elegant, crowd-pleasing meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. haddock, rinsed and patted dry (or other mild-tasting white fish, such as catfish, flounder, pollock, or cod)
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I make my own by throwing some toasted whole wheat bread in a food processor)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • lemon wedges/slices, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour a little of the melted butter in a baking dish and spread to coat the bottom.
  3. Combine the bread crumbs with the rest of the melted butter (since I make my own bread crumbs, I just add the butter to the bread crumbs directly in the food processor)
  4. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish, and lay in the buttered baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the fish
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until fish is cooked thoroughly (and flakes easily)
  7. Serve on top of lemon slices and with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze liberally!
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/11/new-england-baked-haddock-real-food-edition/
 

How to make perfect, crispy oven fries

I promised this post a while ago when I wrote about how to make the perfect simple cheeseburger. Here it is- five simple tricks to making perfect, crispy oven fries!

Perfect Oven Baked Fries 4

How many of you have tried to make oven baked french fries, only to have them come out a soggy mess, or stick to the pan, or burn too much? I have. I’ll find what seems to be the perfect recipe, with a beautiful photograph, only to have wasted my time and practically ruined a pan with sticky, burnt potatoes that end up in a lumpy pile in my trash can rather than in my mouth. So disappointing.

After a LOT of trial and error, I have figured out the way to make crispy oven fries perfect every time. Hip hip, hooray!

This recipe is simple, and uses only salt and pepper (and a bit of crushed red pepper for some heat) for seasoning, which is how I season almost any roasted vegetable I make. The beauty of these is that you can add whatever flavors you want- garlic, parmesan cheese, truffle oil, Old Bay… the possibilities are endless. They are a super healthy alternative to fried fries, they are super inexpensive to make, and if you follow these tricks they will come out perfectly every time!

 1) Coat the fries in oil and seasoning. Slice the potatoes, put in a bowl, add olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you are using, and stir. Many other recipes will tell you to put the potatoes on a baking sheet and then “drizzle” with olive oil. This generally doesn’t work, because the whole fry needs to be covered thinly in oil in order to be crispy (unless you mix it around after drizzling with your hands). I usually use about 3 tablespoons of olive oil for two potatoes (I don’t measure- instead, I count to three using my olive oil dispenser).

2) Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Parchment paper is the most magical cooking supply ever. Nothing will ever stick to your pan, and bonus- just throw it out when you are done and you don’t have to wash your baking sheet! Genius.

3) Spread the fries out so they aren’t touching. If the fries are too crowded, they will steam instead of get crispy, because the moisture won’t be able to escape. If you need to, use two pans instead of crowding them!

Perfect Oven Baked Fries 3

4) Roast at a high temperature. This will produce a crispy outside and a fluffy inside, since they will cook quickly. 

5) Leave the fries alone while cooking. Many recipes will tell you to flip them halfway through cooking. Not only do I find this cumbersome, but I find that my fries come out better if I leave them alone. When you flip them, they will have a tendency to fall apart since they haven’t fully cooked, and unless you spread them out again so they aren’t touching, they may come out soggy. 

Perfect Oven Baked Fries 2

And finally, as with anything I make with potatoes, I always leave the skin on, since it’s where many of the most important nutrients are (plus, no peeling!). Just make sure you give them a good scrub before slicing.

Hope you enjoy this guilt-free way of enjoying fries! And if you try any interesting flavor combos, I’d love to hear about them! :-)

How to make the perfect, crispy oven fries

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

How to make the perfect, crispy oven fries

A super simple, step by step recipe for perfect oven-baked fries (that are never soggy or burnt!)

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes, sliced into fry-shaped pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: other seasonings, such as crushed red pepper, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 425.
  2. Place the potatoes in a bowl and add olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you want. Stir to coat well in the oil and seasoning.
  3. Spread potatoes out evenly on the baking sheets so they aren't touching.
  4. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside.
http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/07/how-to-make-perfect-crispy-oven-fries/
 

Mini Tomato Pies

Have you ever had a tomato pie?

If not, you are really really REALLY missing out. A southern dish popular in the Carolinas, tomato pie is a great way to use up surplus tomatoes from the garden and make a delicious, warming, rich meal that is great for lunch or dinner paired with a side salad. The tomatoes are piled high in a pie crust and mixed with herbs and sometimes other things, and topped with a mixture of cheese and mayo that melts as it bakes and seeps into the the tomatoes. Yummmmmm.

mini tomato pies

Have I convinced you yet? Just you wait. You can make this amazing pie in miniature forms using a muffin pan! And… wait for it… you can individually freeze them to make for super quick and easy microwaveable lunches or snacks during a busy work week, when all you crave is comfort food but you don’t think you have the time to make a proper warm meal. They also make an awesome (and impressive) appetizer for a party!

I try to have mayo in moderation. But I LOVE it, so I don’t want to give it up all together. (Guys, life is too short to not eat what you love. Which is why Zach and I try and stay away from processed foods 95% of the time, so for the other 5% we can have things like mayo and Reeses peanut butter cups. No, not together.) And since these pies are so cute and tiny, it’s easy to enjoy them in small portions, hence limiting your mayo intake! (I’ve also heard that you can sub the mayo for sour cream in a tomato pie, but have not tried it. If you try this, let me know how it comes out!)

mini tomato pies 1

These have been a lifesaver for me this week at work. Zach and I work as teachers from 7:30-5. It’s a long, strenuous, active day, and by the end I’m usually blind with hunger. (And pretty grumpy from said hunger. And angry. Hangry.)

So, I decided that I needed to pack a hearty afternoon snack to help combat the hanger. These tomato pies were the perfect hearty snack for the past two afternoons and guess what? I exercised both evenings AND no more hanger. Hooray!

mini tomato pies 3

Freezer Directions: Once the pies are cooked and cooled, just place them on a cookie sheet and flash freeze for 20 minutes. Wrap each in saran wrap and keep in a container in the freezer. When you want to eat one, unwrap and microwave on high for one minute if frozen, 30 seconds if thawed.

Hope you enjoy! :-)

 

Mini Tomato Pies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: approximately 10 mini pies

Mini Tomato Pies

These mini tomato pies are rich and decadent, warm, and the ultimate comfort food. Perfect for lunch or dinner with a side salad, as a snack, or as an appetizer for a party! Can be individually frozen for a super convenient treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (about two large tomatoes)
  • 2 prepared pie crusts (whole wheat or regular)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to drain in the sink or a bowl (the salt will suck some of the moisture out).
  2. Cut pie crust into small circles.
  3. Line muffin pans with the pie crusts, pressing down along the sides to pack them down.
  4. In a small bowl, mix tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  5. In another bowl, mix cheeses and mayonnaise
  6. Fill each mini pie crust with tomatoes and top with a spoonful of the cheese mixture.
  7. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool, remove from muffin pan.

Notes

Need a whole wheat pie crust? Try this one from 100 Days of Real Food!

Freezer Directions: Once the pies are cooked and cooled, just place them on a cookie sheet and flash freeze for 20 minutes. Wrap each in saran wrap and keep in a container in the freezer. When you want to eat one, unwrap and microwave on high for one minute if frozen, 30 seconds if thawed.

http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2014/09/04/mini-tomato-pies/

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/