Monday, February 25, 2013

Grilled Coconut Curry Chicken

I love that we can already grill. I initially planned to make this dish in my Le Creuset (which you obviously could, especially if it's still cold and gloomy in your neck of the woods), but I was inspired by a new bag of charcoal and a lovely Sunday evening. This was on the menu plan for last week, and since it was a huge success, I wanted to share!

Grilled Coconut Curry Chicken

1 inch of ginger root, peeled
2 cans coconut milk (I used one regular, one light)
1 tablespoon curry powder, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced, separated
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (8 thighs)
1 lemon, halved
1 cup basmati rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
8 ounces spinach
1/4 cup cilantro

Grate half of ginger in a microplane or zester. Add to a medium bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/2 tablespoon curry, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, half of minced garlic, salt and pepper, and oil. Add to a large ziplock bag along with chicken and lemon. Marinate 1 to 4 hours.

Heat coals (or warm grill) and place chicken on grill, skin side down. Grill until cooked through, flipping only once if possible.

Prepare rice, then keep warm. Add butter and salt to taste, if desired.

Meanwhile, heat a medium pot on medium heat and warm oil. Mince remaining ginger and add to pan along with remaining garlic and onion. Saute 5 minutes. Add in remaining curry and cayenne and cook another minute. Add in remaining coconut milk (about 2 1/2 cups) and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes until nice and thick. Add spinach in batches and stir in. Let cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place bed of rice on a plate. Top with 1-2 chicken thighs, then pour sauce over. Top with cilantro, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Menu February 24, 2013

Welcome to another menu plan Sunday! This week we're keeping things simple. Luke and I have both been in Spring cleaning mode, so I want to keep dinners simple so I have time for some organizing. I'm excited because we bought some white paint for our fireplace. It's brick, and unfortunately the previous owners painted over it, and an odd mustardy-neutral color at that! Hopefully, we can make time to tackle that this week :)

  • Monday:  Chicken and White Bean Chili, which I'll riff off of this recipe from Whole Foods Market.
  • Tuesday:  I'll do my own take on Cooking Light's Shrimp Linguine with Ricotta, Fennel and Spinach (I'll be swapping fennel for broccoli since we aren't big fans). 
  • Wednesday:  Since I'm planning on buying some delicious ricotta, I want to get full use of it since it doesn't stay fresh for long. We'll roast up some beets and pair with citrus (whatever looks good at the store) and some fresh greens and grains for a colorful dinner.
  • Thursday:  I'm having some girlfriends over, so we're going to do a top-your-own sweet potato bar. I'll roast up a potato for everyone and have these toppings to choose from (hopefully there's something for everybody!):
    • The last of our fall garden greens, braised
    • Rosemary white beans
    • Chipotle black beans
    • sharp white cheddar
    • Greek yogurt
    • Pesto
    • Salsa
    • Cilantro
    • Bacon
My friend Brittney is coming in town this weekend with her husband Chad - I can't wait! What's cooking in your house this week?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Grilled Endive Salad

Well, the good people with California Endives are at it again! They sent me another lovely Endive Valentine Bouquet, so I had fun again this year dreaming up a new recipe. This February, the weather has been exceptionally mild and lovely in Texas, so we took it to the grill.

Grilled Endive Salad

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, zested and juiced, reserve lemon halves
1 red onion, cut into thick rings
6 endive
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 ounces spinach
1/4 cup Marcona almonds (or plain almonds)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Whisk together Worcestershire, garlic, 1/4 cup canola, salt and pepper and lime juice and zest. Pour into a large ziplock bag. Add in chicken and lemon halves. Marinate at least 1 hour, up to 4.

Meanwhile, brush the onion rings and endive with remaining oil. Warm charcoals, then add chicken, onion and endive and grill until onion and endive are lightly charred and chicken is cooked through.

Cut onion into large pieces. Trim off the endive end, then slice into bite-sized pieces, discarding the cores. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then slice into bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, toss endive, onion, blue cheese, spinach and almonds. In a small bowl, whisk mustard, honey, vinegar, lemon and olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. Add to salad bowl and toss to combine. Top with chicken and serve. Enjoy!

We had people over, so I tossed in a large metal bowl, then transferred to this pretty one :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chickpea Soup with Pesto

This fresh soup was actually inspired by lots of ingredients I had lying around. Luke and I (ok, really just Luke) built more garden boxes, and we've started our planting. Our fall greens have been producing like CRAZY, but at this point the plants are pretty mature and the leaves aren't really good for salads anymore. So, I decided soup was in order. Since I had a big batch of chickpeas that I'd cooked up and then frozen for an occasion just like this, dinner was a snap!

Chickpea Soup with Pesto

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups cubed butternut squash
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 carrot, chopped (optional)
6-8 cups broth of choice (depending on how soupy you want your soup. I used veggie broth)
3 cups chickpeas (or 2 cans)
1 huge bunch leafy greens (I used a mix of collards, kale and swiss chard that filled my colander when I rinsed them)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup pesto

Heat a large soup pot on medium heat and warm olive oil. Add butternut squash and saute 3-4 minutes. Toss in onions, garlic and carrot and saute additional 5 minutes. Pour in broth and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in chick peas and cook 3 minutes. Add hearty greens (such as collards) that require more cooking than lighter greens (like chard and spinach) and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in lighter greens and cook 3 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and add a tablespoon of pesto to each bowl. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Menu February 17, 2013

Over the years I've had several friends say, "if only you'd plan my menus, maybe I'd cook more!" Well, I don't know how consistent I'll be at doing this (I menu plan on Sundays, a day I typically don't get on the computer), but I thought I'd give it a go. Here's a snapshot of this week's menu:

Sunday: Grilled Coconut Curry Chicken with Basmati Rice and Spinach - recipe to come (if it's good!)
Monday: Quinoa and Salmon Salad, as seen on What's Gaby Cooking
Tuesday: Salt and Pepper Shrimp Rice Noodle Bowl, as seen in the March edition of Cooking Light
Wednesday: Winter Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing, from Epicurious
Thursday: Leftover Lentil Meatball Subs from Kim O'Donnel's The Meatless Meat Lover's Celebrations
Friday: Eat out

Some background on how to build a menu:

Depending on my mood, I have a few starting points.
  • I check our calendar to see any obligations we have, to make sure I plan for the correct number of meals.
  • I also take lunches into account. Typically, I prepare a dinner for four, so Luke and I eat half for dinner, and take it to work the next day. If I know one of us has other lunch plans, I might do something like a salad the night before that is lighter and might only make one lunch for the next day.
  • Since I subscribe to so many magazines, not to mention I stumble upon great recipes throughout the week through my job, I typically start with recipe inspirations for in-season recipes I've been dying to try. 
  • I then take stock of what I have in the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what needs to get used up and to also make sure I don't purchase what I already have.
  • I usually take stock of the weekly circular for my grocery store to see if there are any deals I should be taking into consideration, either to try a different recipe or maybe to tweak one I was going to try to include an on-sale ingredient.
  • I then list out all the ingredients I need, by recipe.
  • Then, I reorder the ingredients by the order of the store, so I won't have to hunt all over the list when I'm there to make sure I get everything.
  • For any oddball ingredients (like something I need from a specialty shop or the farmer's market), I make sure to keep on a separate list so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
See, there IS a method to my madness :) And now, I have my handy-dandy chalkboard so Luke knows what we're eating too! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Portobello Poblano Tacos with Black Beans and Zucchini

So, the meat-free challenge might be over, but I inadvertently planned 3 vegetarian meals this week - sorry Luke! But, at least this one has dairy twice over, and Luke was freaking out over how good these were, so I think I was forgiven :) The portobellos have quite a meaty texture here - you don't miss the beef! We had lots of fun with toppings, but I've included just the basics of what you need to make it tasty, and then suggestions on how to make it delicious based on what you have on hand!

I minimized tortilla calories and maximized filling goodness with one overstuffed taco
Portobello Poblano Tacos with Black Beans and Zucchini

2 poblano peppers, roasted (I did this while I had the oven on to roast something else earlier in the week)

1 can black beans
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or chile powder if you don't have chipotle on hand)
4 portobello mushroom caps, wiped down with a wet cloth and stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 zucchini, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler (or chopped up if you prefer)
4-6 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves 
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

1/3 cup nonfat green yogurt
1 small avocado
1/3 cup crumbled queso fresco
2 green onions, chopped 

If you don't have your peppers roasted, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast them, rotating every 7-8 minutes, until lightly blackened. Let cool, then peel off skin. Seed and slice.

Place beans in a small sauce pan with 1 teaspoon cumin and chipotle chile powder and warm.

Preheat a cast iron (or other large skillet) to medium high heat. Brush mushrooms with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Place cap-side down and let sear, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove and let cool one minute, then slice into long pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to the same pan and sauce zucchini 3-4 minutes. If you already roasted your poblanos another day, add them to the pan to warm them up.

Warm tortillas then top with mushroom slices, black beans, zucchini and poblano then add juice from a lime wedge and cilantro. Enjoy!

Luke went the more traditional route with 2 normally stuffed tacos

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pistachio Gelato

To celebrate the end of the official dairy-free challenge, we decided to whip up some gelato for friends coming over. My rationale was that since gelato just has whole milk instead of the heavy cream you find in ice cream, it isn't THAT bad for you :) As a background, I used to work in a cafe in college, and I was the "gelato girl" who received the base from a local gelato shop and made it in the store. I had so much fun mixing and matching flavors and making pretty peaks. That's where I discovered and loved pistachio gelato!

Luke led the charge on this one and did lots of research, and we ended up doing a mash-up of several recipes he found, tweaked to what we had on-hand (we'd run out of the almond extract that most recipes called for, and we were also super low on sugar). We waffled on whether or not to strain out the pistachios and ultimately decided to in the name of texture, so we were amazed at how strong the flavor still was! My only complaint was that I wish we had made more. This made 4 pretty large servings, so we don't have any leftovers.

Pistachio Gelato

1 cup pistachios, raw and shelled
1/4 cup almonds, raw
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
5 egg yolks

Put pistachios, almonds and 1/3 cup sugar in a food processor and pulse until very fine.

Bring milk, remaining sugar and pistachio mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Strain out pistachios over a fine mesh sieve and reserve for a different use (we mixed ours in some oatmeal and it was dynamite!). Pour hot milk mixture slowly into a bowl of egg yolks and whisk.

Warm mixture over medium-low heat until thick, but not boiling, for 5-7 minutes. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon. 

Pour in a metal bowl and chill for a few hours (we chilled ours for 4). Pour into your ice cream maker and let churn 15-20 minutes. Ideally, you should chill the bowls you plan to serve it in so that it doesn't melt. Serve with additional pistachios on top and enjoy!

Up close and personal