Yellow Chicken Curry with Chickpeas

I love curry in just about every incarnation I’ve had the pleasure to experience it. Thai, Indian, spicy, mild, you name it, I will probably eat it. Curry doesn’t have to be spicy or taste any certain way. Curry is not even a spice unto itself. It can be any mixture of spices, sometimes just a few, or up to 20! This curry recipe came from Jamie Oliver, one of my favorite celebrity chefs. This is an Indian version that has perhaps been slightly Americanized. There are no unusual ingredients, and the preparation is not complicated. It’s packed full of flavor without being spicy. If you like more heat, use a bit more chile, or a spicier curry powder. For less heat, use less chile or leave it out. I found to be mild as prepared here.

If you don’t like dealing with whole pieces of chicken in sauce, you can substitute boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces. But using the whole pieces not only makes for a pretty presentation, but also makes this very quick to throw together and easy on the budget too! Since the meat is braised in the sauce, it’s quite tender and comes off the bone easily with a fork.

Pukka Yellow Curry

Yellow Chicken Curry with Chickpeas

Yellow Chicken Curry with Chickpeas
(slightly adapted from jamieoliver.com)

2 onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 yellow pepper
1 cup fresh green beans
1 tsp. chicken base or bouillon
1-2 fresh red chiles
½ a bunch of fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons curry powder (any kind)
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs
olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup basmati rice
1 lemon
Plain yogurt for garnish, if desired

Peel the onions, garlic and ginger and deseed the peppers. Put 1 onion, yellow pepper, the garlic and ginger into a food processor. Add the bouillon and add the chili (deseed it first, if you prefer a milder curry), the cilantro stalks, honey and spices, then blitz to a paste.

Place a large casserole pan on a medium-high heat and fry the chicken (pull the skin off first, if you prefer) with a splash of oil for 10 minutes, or until golden, turning occasionally with tongs. Remove the chicken to a plate, leaving the pan on the heat. Roughly chop the remaining onion and add to the pan to cook for a few minutes, then tip in the paste and let it cook down for around 5 minutes. Pour in two cups of boiling water. Drain the chickpeas and add along with the tomato paste and a pinch of salt and pepper, then stir well. Return the chicken to the pan, add the green beans, pop the lid on, reduce the heat and simmer gently for around 45 minutes, or until the sauce darkens and thickens.

While the chicken cooks, boil a pot of water, as if you were making pasta. Add rice. Boil for 8 minutes. Drain. Put the lid back on and let sit until you are ready to serve. This helps give you that wonderful texture you see in Indian restaurants where the grains of rice are separate instead of sticking together.

Serve the curry with a few dollops of yogurt (if using) and a scattering of cilantro leaves, with lemon wedges for squeezing over and the fluffy rice on the side.

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Honey-Lime Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

Sweet potatoes. Eh. Never been a huge fan. At Thanksgiving I place that nasty marshmallow covered pan far away from me. But I’m definitely making progress on learning to like them. The trick for me? Cook them savory, not sweet. And cook them in a way that they get a little crispy. A bit of texture goes a long way with me. Baby food sweet potato mush does not appeal. Give me some crunch!

This recipe went down as a big check in my sweet potato “like” column. The beans and other veggies add texture, the spices add some savory to balance the sweet and roasting the potatoes added some crispy edges and nice chewy texture. It all added up to an out of the ordinary, and very delicious taco!

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
(From Cooking Classy)

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled if desired and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5) oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed and drained
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Corn or flour tortillas
Taco toppings of your choice, such as romaine lettuce or purple cabbage, cotija or feta cheese, lime wedges, diced avocados, fresh salsa or pico de gallo and hot sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil then place sweet potatoes on foil. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp olive oil and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle evenly with cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste then toss to evenly coat. Bake in preheated oven 15 – 20 minutes until tender, removing from oven and tossing once halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until caramelized (golden brown on edges and tender), about 5 – 6 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. Reduce heat to medium-low, add in drained black beans, corn, honey and lime juice. Heat until warmed through. Toss in roasted sweet potatoes and cilantro. Serve in warm tortillas with desired toppings.

 

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Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Well, it’s that time of year again, where I think about putting myself in detox after all my holiday sugar intake and eating just a tad more healthy, and perhaps shedding a few pounds to welcome in the new year. I was thinking along these lines this month when I came across this recipe in Cooking Light.

I like lettuce wraps. They make me feel like I’m eating healthy even when I’m reaching for a third or fourth leaf of lettuce. How can that possibly be bad for you? The rice in these make them more filling and they were quite satisfying. Choose a head of Bibb lettuce that has nice big leaves for a little bit less mess. Count on some sticky fingers in any case and serve with extra napkins.

I’m all for eating light if it doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor. The chicken in these lettuce wraps packs a nice punch, without being spicy. The sauce for this includes a new ingredient for me – Gochujang sauce. I looked for it in the grocery store and didn’t have any luck. After searching the shelves at my Asian market, I gave up and asked for help, and the kindly employee pointed it out…right in the middle of the shelves I was looking at. If you can’t find this stuff, you can make something similar by mixing equal parts of Sriracha and white or yellow miso paste.

Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps
(from Cooking Light)

2 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon gochujang sauce (I found this at the Asian market, but some grocery stores probably carry it, or in a pinch you can mix equal parts Sriracha & miso paste)
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
12 Bibb lettuce leaves
1 English cucumber, sliced
4 green onions, diagonally sliced
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Place 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in a small bowl; set aside. Add chicken slices to remaining soy sauce mixture in bag; seal. Refrigerate 2 hours.
Cook rice according to package directions.

Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Do this in batches if needed so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Sprinkle sesame seeds over chicken.

Yummy, sweet, salty, delicious.

Yummy, sweet, salty, delicious.

Tear leaves off of head carefully so they stay whole. Gently wash and pat dry.

A tower of lettuce

A tower of lettuce

Place a big spoonful of rice in each lettuce leaf; top with some chicken slices, cucumber slices, and green onions. Serve with reserved 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture. If, like me, you forgot to pull some out before you stuck the chicken in the bag, just mix up a little extra.

So delicious.

So delicious.

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Pesto Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

I hardly ever make appetizers since I don’t entertain much and I just don’t think to make appetizers for everyday meals. But when the opportunity presents itself, I love to make little bites of deliciousness. I made these little tomato bites last time I hosted my book club. So simple, so yummy. They didn’t last long!

Obviously making these at the height of summer when the tomatoes and basil are ripe in the garden is the optimal situation. But luckily, cherry tomatoes and basil are available in the store year round and even in the winter, the cherry tomatoes are pretty tasty! I make my own pesto, but any store-bought variety would work as well in a pinch.

Pesto Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Pesto Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Pesto Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Basil pesto (click here for my recipe or you can use whatever pesto floats your boat)
Cherry tomatoes

Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Use a melon baller or spoon to scoop out the tomato guts and discard them. Spoon or pipe in pesto (a ziplock bag with the corner cut off works great for this if you don’t have a piping bag).

And that’s it! You can chill these or leave at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers if you have any.

 

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Farmers Market Frittata

Not sure what you guys do with your Saturdays but mine usually start at farmers market. I go and get a mocha from the coffee cart and then start my rounds. This usually includes eating enough samples to qualify as breakfast and filling up my giant market bag so full I can barely carry it back to the car.

For this frittata, you can put just about anything in it that you happen to have on hand. This week I had purchased zucchini, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and red onions. And eggs! Don’t forget the lovely eggs from happy happy chickens who wander around and peck things and live like chickens should. Feel free to substitute ingredients if there is something you like better or need to use up!

This makes a dandy breakfast, but I’ve also been known to serve it with a giant green salad and call it dinner.

Farmer's Market Fritatta

Farmer’s Market Fritatta

Farmer’s Market Frittata

1 zucchini, sliced
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup red onion, sliced
Goat cheese
Parmesan
5 eggs
Salt & pepper

Chop veggies. Beat eggs with a bit of salt & pepper in a bowl. Set aside. Heat 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil. Add onion and cook for a minute or two. Add zucchini and tomatoes. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes until zucchini is barely tender.

Veggies in the pan. Just a quick saute is all they need to bring out the flavor!

Veggies in the pan. Just a quick saute is all they need to bring out the flavor!

Pour eggs over veggies. Swirl to cover veggies evenly. Dot with goat cheese and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan.

If some of your veggies stick out don't worry about it, it will all come together just fine.

If some of your veggies stick out don’t worry about it, it will all come together just fine.

Cover and turn heat down to medium low. Cook for 5-10 minutes until eggs are set on top. Cut into wedges and serve hot. Pairs perfectly with a side of fruit or salad.

 

 

 

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Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

At farmer’s market this week I was shocked to still see strawberries. In October? Yep. There might be something to this climate change thing after all. In any case, as long as they are here I’ll keep eating them. The other thing that is plentiful, huge and super cheap right now is cabbage. Let me tell you I have become very creative with using cabbage. It’s just so hard to pass up such a good deal.

These tropical tacos are easy to make, and simple to modify with different fruits based on whatever you have available. This was a particularly tasty combo and the first time I’ve paired strawberries and fish, but it really worked well!  Plus they are so colorful they practically jump off the plate and into your mouth. If you can’t find mahi mahi, substitute any firm, mild white fish and it will work just fine.

One of the best ways I’ve found to get my kids to eat fish is to put it in a taco. Smothering it with fruit is just taking it up an extra notch in their book.

This recipe made more fruit salsa than we needed for the tacos, but don’t worry! The stuff is delicious on its own, or on top of a green salad, mixed into yogurt, or served over ice cream!

Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

Mahi Mahi Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

Fish:
1 pound mahi mahi or other firm white fish
Lemon pepper
Ground chile powder (I like the plain ground ancho chile powder but if you have regular chili powder blend that will work fine as well)
Salt

Strawberry Salsa:
1 pint strawberries, chopped
1-2 cups pineapple, chopped
1 red or green chile or jalapeno, minced
2-3 tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
Juice of half a lime
Ground chile powder
Dash of salt

Cabbage:
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp. sour cream (or you can sub mayo or greek yogurt)
Juice of half a lime

Corn or flour tortillas

In a mixing bowl mix all ingredients for the salsa. I do this first so it can kind of marinate together while everything else is cooking.

Strawberry Pineapple Salsa

Strawberry Pineapple Salsa

In another bowl, mix cabbage, sour cream and lime juice. Set aside.

Cabbage mixture  to top off your taco!

Cabbage mixture to top off your taco!

Wrap tortillas in foil and stick in the oven to warm while you cook the fish.

Cut fish into strips or squares. Sprinkle fish with salt, lemon pepper and chile powder on both sides.

I don't measure the spices, just sprinkle to your heart's content.

I don’t measure the spices, just sprinkle to your heart’s content.

Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet. Place fish in the skillet, making sure not to crowd the pan. Do it in 2 batches if needed. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through and lightly browned.

Build your taco with a tortilla, a couple of chunks of fish, top with strawberry salsa and cabbage!

Yeah, it's a total mess when you eat it, especially if you go crazy overfilling it like this. But it's worth it! For less mess, go a little lighter with the fillings.

Yeah, it’s a total mess when you eat it, especially if you go crazy overfilling it like this. But it’s worth it! For less mess, go a little lighter with the fillings.

My son Luke prefers his taco deconstructed so he can eat it with a fork:

Don't like wrestling with messy tacos? Make a taco plate instead!

Don’t like wrestling with messy tacos? Make a taco plate instead!

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Beef Daube Provençal

Fall is here and I for one could not be happier! As much as I love the sunshine, I had missed the cool, crisp mornings and stormy evenings. And of course I missed pots of soup and comforting meals hot from the oven. So goodbye summer salads and hello fallish flavors and comfort food.

I suppose this is nothing more than a glorified beef stew, but it’s a top notch version of beef stew. And who doesn’t love beef stew anyway? The wine and slow cooking give this dish a rich, full flavor that really can’t be beat. And serving it over noodles? Pure genius. They soak up the extra juices, elevating this “stew” to fork food. It doesn’t take much time to throw together, but plan ahead for this one since it cooks 2-3 hours in the oven. It’s well worth the wait. And hey, if you get bored, there’s always the rest of that bottle of wine to keep you busy.

Beef Daube Provençal

Beef Daube Provençal

Beef Daube Provençal
(from Cooking Light)

2 tsp. olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (2 pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Dash of ground cloves
1 (14.5) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
3 cups cooked medium egg noodles

Preheat oven to 300°. Heat a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan (you may need to do this in batches so you don’t overcrowd the meat); sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add reserved garlic, beef, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrots, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.

Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until beef is tender.

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Summer Eating, Lazy Cooks, and Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Someone asked me today if this was the end of the Hungry Monkeys. Definitely not! I’m still here. Admittedly I’ve been excessively lazy this summer when it comes to writing my blog, or cooking, or well, lots of things. It’s summer, and it’s hot. The kids are out of school, we have been out and about (mostly trying to stay cool since our house has no air conditioning) and cooking has just not taken a high priority lately.

I’ve been doing about 75% of my grocery shopping at farmers markets. Most of my shopping trips look something like this:

Summer shopping.

Summer shopping.

And most of the meals I make at home look something like this:

Veggies, fruit, sauteed peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Veggies, fruit, sautéed padron peppers and poached eggs. Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions!

Or this:

Tomatillo-corn sauté, three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

Tomatillo-corn sauté (recipe below), three bean salad and sliced tomatoes with goat cheese.

If I’m eating like a rabbit, why am I not jumping up and down at having reached my fitness and weight goals this summer, you might ask?  Because…in between my very healthy and wonderful farmer’s market meals I’ve been eating out waaaaay too much, and the other 25% of my grocery shopping is mostly made up of Trader Joe’s buckets of cookies and other goodies.

So. Kids go back to school next week, a regular routine will once again be established to some degree, weather will be getting cooler and my oven will once again be in constant use. And I am looking forward to all of that!

In the meantime, as I look through the photos on my camera that I’ve accumulated over the few times I have cooked something this summer (ahem, 124 photos, yikes!) I will endeavor to remember how I made the delicious food pictured therein and post a few blogs.

For now, I’ll give you the very simple but delicious recipe for the tomatillo-corn sauté pictured above. This is a recipe invented by my Aunt Debi which she made for us when we went to visit her and paint on her wall a few weeks ago. It was so delicious I just had to make it two or three more times when I came home. I add a little red onion to my version. The three bean salad was something that Trader Joe’s was sampling the other day that I was all too happy to copy at home. Simply a can of garbanzo beans (drain and rinse), a can of kidney beans (drain and rinse), and raw green beans chopped up. Combine all three kinds of beans and add a generous splash of rice vinegar and some salt and pepper.

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté

Tomatillo-Corn Sauté
(slightly modified from the original recipe by Debi Hiltenbrand)

6-8 ears of sweet corn
1 cup chopped tomatillos (about a half pound)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Salt & pepper
1 heaping spoonful of coconut oil

Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and tomatillo to pan. Using a sharp knife, slice kernels off of corn cobs. Add corn to the pan. Add paprika and salt & pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat for at least 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos and onions are very soft.

And there you have it! Am I the only lazy cook out there this summer? What have you guys been making on hot days?

 

 

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Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

When you eat a lot of vegetables, which we do at my house, you get sick of the traditional salad. Sometimes I just don’t want to see another leaf of lettuce, even though I really like salad. But never fear, when salad boredom happens, I tend to just start combining random ingredients in the hopes of inventing something new that everyone will actually eat. It usually works.

I would describe this as a Mediterranean-ish veggie extravaganza. Filling and flavorful, it stands well on its own, or is the perfect side dish for just about anything. As an added bonus, it works well at room temperature which makes it terrific for potlucks and picnics.

No Lettuce Veggie Salad

Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

Forget the Lettuce Veggie Salad

1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can olives, cut in half
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 zucchini, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 small can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 tbsp. vinegar
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients. Eat.

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Roasted Pepper Black Bean Chili

I know, I know. It’s 80 degrees and I’m making chili. You might think I’m odd, but for me, chili is not just a winter food. One reason is I like it too much to confine it to just one season. The other is that I planted ten pepper plants and I have to find ways to use them, assuming I don’t kill them off before they produce anything. Besides, this is a recipe for the crock pot, which means no heating up the house with the oven!

The basic recipe for this is actually quite similar to my regular chili, but this time I used dried beans and roasted peppers and wow! it tastes completely different. Deeper, smokier, wonderful! You can use whatever combination of peppers you like or happen to have. I’ll list the combo I used, which resulted in a fairly mild but flavorful batch. Feel free to toss in some hotter ones if you are a five-alarm sort of person.

Plan ahead and soak your beans the night before to ensure they get done in the slow cooker. Or you can use canned beans in a pinch. This works well as a vegetarian recipe too, just leave out the ground beef.

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

2 cups dried black beans
4 cups water
2 poblano peppers
3 anaheim chiles
1 red bell pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 pound ground beef
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
2-3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
Salt & pepper

The night before, rinse dried beans. Place in a bowl with at least six cups of water. Let soak overnight. In the morning, drain beans and put in crock pot. In a skillet, brown ground beef and add to crock pot.

Remove seeds and stems from peppers and lay skin-side up on a large cookie sheet. Place under broiler 4-5 minutes, until skin turns black. Remove and put in a paper or plastic bag to cool.

Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano and cumin to crock pot.

Remove peppers from their bag, chop and add to the crock pot. Cover with about 4 cups of water, give it a stir. Cook on high for 6-8 hours until beans are soft. Add salt & pepper to taste.

This was even better the next day!

So good.

So good.

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