Lemon Chicken with Prunes

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Lemons, sweet prunes and herbs make this “not-just-another-chicken dish.”

Most everyone loves chicken and this is my go-to dish to please crowds. Herbs bring in the savory flavors while prunes soften in the broth adding mild sweetness to this dish. For optimal taste use farm fresh free range chicken and a Moraccan style tagine for meat that falls off the bone. Can be made with a whole chicken cut in pieces but I think thighs taste best with this recipe.

8 chicken thighs
2 medium onions chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to brown chicken
1 Tablespoons dried or fresh rosemary  (or a blend of herbs, such as bouquet garni)
1/4 cup water
Spelt flour for dredging
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup prunes or 1-2 prunes per person

Dredge chicken in flour and salt and pepper to taste. Coat fry pan with EVOO and brown chicken on both sides. Add 1/4 cup oil, onions and garlic in a terracotta tagine or Dutch oven over medium hight heat for 5 minutes. Add water and place chicken on top. Sprinkle with herbs and more salt and pepper if desired. Cover the tagine or pot and lower heat to medium, medium- low.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through.  Add prunes to the liquid and lemon slices on top. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes until lemon is softened and chicken is done. Ladle chicken and sauce over yellow rice and serve. Serves 7-8.

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Creamy “No Cream” Butternut Squash Soup

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Velvety smooth and non-dairy with just a pinch of spice makes this soup delightful on a winter’s day.

My butternut squash soup is laced with a bit of curry and a dash of chili. And it’s so easy to make when the cumbersome job of peeling a butternut squash is avoided. Slice it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds then bake in the oven in a bain-marie bath.

When ready to serve, sprinkle my Sweet & Savory Pumpkin Seeds on top or add a dollop of creme fraiche.

1 medium sized butternut squash, cut lengthwise, seeds removed
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups organic vegetable broth
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper to taste

Place squash flat sides down in a 9 x 13 oven proof glass baking dish. Sprinkle carrots around the squash and fill the baking dish with an inch of water (bain-marie). Bake for approximately 1 hour or when a knife can be easily inserted into the squash. Let cool.  Scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Place aside with the drained cooked carrots.

In a large stock pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Stir until softened. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool a bit. Puree with an emulsion blender or in a high powered blender (mine is a Vitamix).

Muesli with Dried Cherries, Pumpkin Seeds & Coconut

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Keep muesli in a glass canister ready to scoop out single servings when you’re on the go. Much better than oatmeal in a packet any day!

Waking up to a bowl of Muesli with a burst of sweetness from dried cherries (my favorite), delicious tastes of cinnamon and coconut, and raw goodness from pumpkin seeds, almonds, and flax seed is a great way to start the day.  Look for gluten free oats or the best  Irish rolled oatmeal you can find.

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seed meal
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup flaked coconut, unsweetened
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
Optional: 1/4 cup Thompson or golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes until toasted and lightly golden. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients including coconut. Store in a glass jar with a lid or air tight container.

When ready to serve, sprinkle over yogurt (greek or farm fresh sheep yogurt if you can find it). Or let muesli soak in almond or coconut milk overnight.  Warm if desired in a saucepan with a little extra milk.  Top off with a drizzle of 100% maple syrup and fresh berries or bananas.

Bison Chili

Chili

Bold, thick and chunky, this is a one bowl meal!

You can’t have Super Bowl Sunday without chili!

Grass fed bison or local beef  is a good choice to keep it flavorful and closer to it’s source.  I add garbanzo beans along with pinto and kidney beans for variety.

1 green pepper, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
2 medium red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup masa flour
2 pounds ground bison or beef, preferable grass fed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chile spice blend with chili powder, cumin and garlic powder (I used D.L. Jardines’s)
4  15 ounce cans of dices tomatoes (I used Muir Glen’s organic fire roasted tomatoes)
1 quart organic beef stock
2 15 ounce cans pinto beans
2 15 ounce cans kidney beans
2 15 ounce cans garbanzo beans
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 zucchini, chopped

Chop first 4 ingredients and place in a large stock pot with olive oil over medium high heat. Saute until softened. Add masa flour and stir over lower heat for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to scorch. Remove from heat. In a skillet, brown meat. Drain some meat drippings into the stock pot for extra flavor and add chile spice blend, beef stock, tomatoes and beans.  Salt and pepper to taste and add pepper flakes. Simmer approximately 1 hour until reduced and thickened. Add zucchini and simmer 10 more minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Quinoa with Chipotle Lime Dressing

quinoa

Top with sliced avocado and diced plum tomatoes for extra tastes and textures

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains loaded with protien. I use sprouted artisan quinoa with it’s nutty texture and taste and prefer it to rice these days.

2 cups quinoa
4 cups organic vegetable stock
2 roasted peppers, chopped
1/2 cups scallions, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
chopped cilantro and scallions as a garnish

Chipotle Lime Dressing

Cook quinoa in vegetable stock according to package instructions. Add peppers and scallions and toss with chipotle lime dressing to taste. Garnish with cilantro and scallions.

Lemon Savory Crackers (gluten-free)

Crackers

A few minutes in the oven before serving will crisp these crackers up every time.

Yes, you’ll actually want to make your own crackers when you take a bite out of these. They’re made with almond meal and all-pupose gluten free flour and so easy to make.  It takes less than 15 minutes to prepare before going in the oven. Really!!

2 cups almond meal
1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons olive, canola or grapeseed oil
zest from 1 lemon (can also use lime)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk wet ingredients with zest. Mix wet into dry ingredients and form into a dough. Cut dough in half and roll to “cracker” thickness between two sheets of parchment paper. Remove top sheet and with a pizza cutter or a knife, cut into squares. Bake on a cookie sheet for 12 to 15 minutes, being careful not to brown. Cool and sprinkle with sea salt before serving.

Adapted from the Spicy Cracker recipe from the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cook Book by Elana Amsterdam

Southwest Vegetarian Cobb Salad

SW Cobb Salad

Loaded with flavors and color, watch them dive into this salad!

With so many outrageous and fresh salsa recipes to choose from, I’m letting you decide which one to make!

A fan of sheep cheese over cow, I chose feta… but any good artisan cheese will do, especially wonderful queso Mexican cheeses. Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette is the finishing touch to dress this salad for any fiesta!

Salad
1 part salsa (I used mango-pineapple salsa)
1 part feta cheese
1 part black beans
1 part diced avocados or guacamole
1 – 2 heads romaine lettuce

Line bottom of a wide bowl with shredded romaine and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat salad leaves. Add salsa, cheese, beans and avocado or guacamole on top in neat rows. Drizzle extra vinaigrette on top.

Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
juice of 2 limes

Honey Lime Chicken Sates with Chimichurri Sauce

Sate

Skewered sates ready for dipping!

Who needs fatty chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday when you can have chicken sates instead?

Pump up the chili powder and add some red pepper flakes if you want a hot and spicier dish. Be sure to use “smoked” paprika in the marinade…it makes all the difference. Fresh chimichurri sauce is a nice finishing touch.

6 organic or farm fresh chicken thighs, boned

Marinade
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
juice of 2 limes
zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut thighs in 1 inch strips. Barely warm honey so that it has a thinner consistency to blend well. In a bowl, mix the honey with the remainder of the ingredients. Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour, turning often to throughly coat each piece. Sear chicken strips on a hot grill, being careful not to overcook or sates will be dry. Remove and finish in a hot oven for a few minutes if chicken is still pink inside. Sates should be juicy and moist. Skewer chicken and serve with chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 cup firmly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup parsley
4 garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon lime juice
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency, coarse or smooth. Serve at room temperature.

Sweet Potato White Bean Tex-Mex Dip

SweetPotatoDip

A crowd pleasing sweet and spicy dip topped off with jalepenos and pumpkin seeds

If you can’t get enough of sweet potatoes like me, you might want to save this dip for yourself!

3 sweet potatoes
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
15 ounces white cannellini beans
sea salt & white pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Place whole sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet and roast for 45 min. to 1 hour or when soft through the middle. Remove skins and puree sweet potato pulp with the remainder of the ingredients. Serve with artisan corn chips and savory crackers.

Have a Soup Swap!

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A variety of tasty soups… my curry lentil stew along with roasted red pepper, butternut squash, sweet potato kale chowder and potato leek soup.

When cold weather keeps you in, get out and gather with old and new friends at a soup swap.

My friend Carol organized this one and I hosted it at my house last night. Our gathering was complete with homemade Irish soda bread with honey butter, a potpourri of soups and stews, spring mesculin mix with pecans and goat cheese and wonderful desserts.

It was delish! Recipes were swapped along with lots of laughs and a great evening out with the girls.