Za’atar crusted Chicken

_dsc0004Growing up in Israel, Za’atar was a staple at our house.  Za’atar is a spice mix made from thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, and sumac (along with a few more mix ins) and is typically sprinkled over hummus or on bread. A few months ago, I was ecstatic to find Za’atar on Amazon – it was an authentic mix, imported from the middle east – in one pound bags.  Needless to say, I was looking for some other ways to use the mix aside from when snacking with some hummus.

This recipe is so so easy.  And as a busy mom, I’m always looking for the flexibility that this recipe provides.  Aside from searing the chicken, everything else is cooked together in one pan, and the whole recipe requires about 10 minutes of hands-on time.  This is something I can prep ahead of time and let it cook while I bathe and feed my son.

Za’atar crusted Chicken
(serves 2-3)

1 lb boneless chicken thighs
2 medium potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, cut into 2 inch cubes or slices
1-2 carrots, cut to 1/2 inch thick slices
1 turnip, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
3 tbs Za’atar
1/2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil

Set oven to 375 degrees.  Coat both sides of the chicken with 2 tbs Za’atar seasoning and sprinkle with lemon juice.  In a saute pan with 1 tbs olive oil and under medium heat, sear the chicken for about 45 seconds on each side.  In a pyrex pan, lay all the vegetables and sprinkle with the rest of the zaátar seasining and olive oil and mix to evenly coat.  Place seared chicken on top of vegetables, cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, until vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked thoroughly.

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Cook on,
– shirley

 

Chicken Katsu Curry

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It has been unusually rainy and cold here in San Diego this winter.  Don’t get me wrong, we need the rain and I’ve welcomed the change in temperatures that I miss since moving from the east coast, but it still leaves me craving warm and cozy meals.  Soups usually fit the bill, but I was looking for something different.  Enter this rich and creamy curry, coupled with a crispy chicken breast – it really hit the spot!

Chicken Katsu Curry
(makes 2-3 servings)

For the curry:
1 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 medium sized potatoes, diced into 2 inch cubes
1 red pepper, cut into 3 inch long sticks
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 tbs curry (I use golden curry sauce mix)
3 cups rice, cooked

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup vegetable oil

In a large skillet, under medium heat, saute garlic and peppers in olive oil for approximately 3 minutes.  Lower heat to low, add potatoes, carrots, and chicken stock. Continue to cook until the mix simmers, then add curry.  Mix well to ensure curry is dissolved or well mixed. Continue to cook until potatoes and carrots are soft, about 15 minutes. Add chicken stock or curry to thin or thicken the consistency, respectively, to your liking.

While curry is cooking, combine egg, milk, a dash of salt and pepper, and any seasonings you prefer (I like using adobo). Pound chicken breast to tenderize it, dip in egg mixture, followed by panko, and place into vegetable oil under medium-high heat.  Cook chicken until browned, approximately 4 minutes, then flip and repeat.

Serve curry and chicken over rice.

food on,
-Shirley

 

 

Cheese and Garlic Biscuits

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We were lucky enough to receive a gift card to Lobster Gram, a company that delivers live lobster and other super tasty seafood across the country.  I really enjoyed the Lobstergram experience, and I’ll tell you about that soon!  We received lobster tails, many many many lobster claws, and some incredible lobster bisque as part of our package.  To go along with the bisque, I wanted to make some biscuits – reminded of the Red Lobster biscuits that complement seafood anything so well.

I’m not much of a baker – that’s Sharon’s expertise – so I’ve never made biscuits before.  I could not believe how easy and quick they were to make!  They came out moist and rich – just the perfect bite or few to go along with the bisque.

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Cheese and Garlic Biscuits
(makes about 10 biscuits)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tbs butter, at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Mix  flour, salt, baking powder and butter together.  Combine with your hands until the butter is well mixed and the mixture is crumbly.  Add the milk and cheese and knead until a dough has formed.  Form dough into small balls, approximately 3 inches in diameter, and place on a greased cookie sheet, pressing down to form a biscuit shape.  The biscuits will bake for a total of approximately 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.

While the biscuits bake, melt remaining butter and mix with garlic.  Pour a teaspoon of butter on each of the biscuits after about 13 minutes of baking, and bake for another 2-3 minutes so the biscuits are shiny and golden.

food on,
-Shirley

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Almond Butter Cookies

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It’s no secret that I love sweets and desserts.  If I had my choice, it’d be a hot fudge brownie sundae, with extra brownies and chocolate ice cream any every day.  But, sometimes, I can appreciate sweets that are much more subtle – I was shocked at how satisfied these left me.  They are much simpler, the perfect pairing to a meal or with a cup of tea.

I made these for the first time this past holiday season for a few different gatherings and everyone was immediately a fan.  At our housewarming party, I sent a friend of mine home with a bag full, since he liked them so much, and hey, he was going to finish them all anyways!  He savored them for the next few days and was upset when they were gone.

I shape them into small crescents, but any way will do.  I’ve made them with brown sugar and really like the way it compliments the nuttyness of the cookies.

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Almond Butter Cookies
(makes about 15 cookies)

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat together the butter, sugar, and extracts.  Once combined, add the flours.  Stir together until a flaky dough is created.  Knead the mixture together with your hands until a dough is formed.  Break the dough into small pieces, approximately 2 tbs in size and shape into small crescents.  Place cookies on a buttered cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

-sweet on,
Shirley

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Açaí Bowl with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, chocolate chips, and granola

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I never jumped on the açaí bandwagon.  Sure it’s healthy, exotic and has a lot of antioxidants, but so do a lot of other things.  But, about 6 months ago, I had my first açaí bowl and wow, I was hooked.  I couldn’t believe how tasty it was.  And, like other recipes I’ve mentioned before…I thought, they call this breakfast?? Sign me up because to me, this tastes like dessert.  I’ve had a few bowls since, but decided that this was simple enough that I could make it at home.

The only thing I needed to tackle was this açaí berry thing.  After some (okay, alot) of looking and digging, I honed in on what to buy and how to make these bowls.  I found that regular grocery stores had no açaí berry selection (aside from juice), trader joe’s was no help (for once!), and my best bet was whole foods.  The frozen foods section had a few different options – what you want the açaí fruit frozen packs that are supposed to be used in smoothies.  I’ve used the unsweetened packs before, and given the honey and sweet fruits, I personally prefer those.

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Açaí Bowl with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, chocolate chips, and granola
(makes 2 bowls)

2 single serving frozen açaí berry pouches, ~7 ounces
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 banana, thinly sliced
5 strawberries, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup granola
2 tbs honey
2 tbs coconut flakes

In a blender, mix together the açaí berry and the coconut milk until a smooth consistency is reached.  Place in freezer for approximately 10 minutes.  Scoop the açaí berry mixture into a bowl.  Place strawberries, blueberries, bananas, chocolate chips and granola into the bowl and drizzle with honey and coconut flakes.

Açaí on,
– Shirley

Grilled Fish Tacos

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I’ve talked before about my love of seafood and fish, partly due to being raised near great the great waters of New England.  Lucky for me, I was able to potentially upgrade my access to great fish when I moved to San Diego.  And with El Nino warming up the pacific ocean waters, I’ve been in for a treat this year.  A coworker of mine headed fishing this past weekend, and came into work with a large cooler full of mahi mahi.  I came home with a few beautiful, fresh, filets, and I knew I had to make something simple with it so the fish would shine.

Fun fact – did you know mahi mahi, dorado, and dolphin fish are all different names for the same fish?

This dish is super simple.  I put some adobo and lemon on the fish and grilled it on our grill.  Topped it with a little cabbage, cheese, salsa and guacomole.  Took less than 20 minutes and less than 24 hours from swimming in the ocean to my belly.  Talk about fresh.

grilled fish tacos
(makes 2-3 servings)

2 mahi mahi filets
1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp adobo seasoning
6 small corn tortillas
2 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups guacamole
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup cheese

Rinse your fish filets in warm water, and pat dry using a paper towel.  Spread adobo seasoning and juice of a half a lemon onto both sides of the fish filets.  Place the fish on a hot grill or pan, and cook on each side for about 3 minutes.  Once both sides are cooked, remove from heat.  Heat up some corn tortillas so they are warm and flexible.  Assemble cheese, fish, cabbage, and guacamole and salsa on each of the tortillas and enjoy!

fish on
– shirley

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Good morning muffins

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I am not a morning person. at. all.  When I have the option to, whether I’m working or not, I’ll be in bed until at least 8 or 9.  Too bad that most mornings I can’t have this luxury, and I am up before 5.  I always have been good about eating breakfast (you mean some people turn down the opportunity to eat?!?! I just don’t get that).   The last thing I want to do at 5 in the morning is try to figure out what to make for breakfast – so, these muffins are great and perfect to eat in the car if I am running late.

The first time I tasted a good morning muffin was at whole foods.  I thought it was so yummy that I immediately found some recipes online as inspiration and played around with ingredients.  Truthfully, I still adjust some of the ingredients and add-ons based on what I have at home – apple sauce, fruit butters, butternut squash all make these muffins taste so so good.

And by the way, if you have a kitchenaid mixer at home, USE IT.  I didn’t use it to make these muffins until recently, and wow.  I regretted not using it every time.  Not only did it make a huge difference in the prep time and eliminating the frustration of mixing a thousand ingredients together, but the muffins came out fluffier and tastier.

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Good morning Muffins
(makes 8 large muffins)

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup fruit butter, apple sauce, or other fruit “mash”
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place muffin cups into a muffin tin.  Mix together all the dry ingredients (flour through salt) until well mixed and uniform.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together and continue to add wet ingredients (vegetable oil, fruit butter, and vanilla extract) to the eggs.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, gather together the add ins, and fold into the dough mixture.  Place approximately 1/2 – 3/4 cup mixture into each muffin cup and top with some coconut flakes or sliced nuts.  Place into oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  A toothpick placed into a muffin should come back clean when the muffins are ready.  Enjoy!

Breakfast on,
– shirley

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