Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

North African-inspired Chicken Stew

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As you may have been able to ascertain from the distinct lack of soups on this blog, I am not a soup girl.  That’s probably why the guys looked at me with raised eyebrows when they saw a stew on the menu.  What they didn’t know was I was planning on making it less soupy.

I saw the original recipe in the Fall issue of the Cooking Club of America recipe and thought the flavors sounded really interesting.  Even though I omitted the onion, Mr. Onion-hater was still skeptical.  For him, food with cinnamon and raisins should be desserts.  Yep, this has raisins.  I wasn’t quite sure of that, either, but I wanted to give it a try.

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The raisins actually added a nice occasional burst of sweetness that worked really well with the blend of ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and balsamic.  I enjoyed it immensely and even Mr. C thought it was surprisingly good.  Mr. O finished his bowl but didn’t get excited like he usually does.  But I can understand why.  His tongue tasted the cinnamon and was confused by the lack of dessert-like sweetness.

The original recipe said to serve this with couscous  but I took it a step further and used the broth from this slow cooker wonder to make the couscous which I then added back to the cooker.

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Now that the nights are starting to cool off (thank goodness!), warm comforting food like this are especially nice.  Plus, 20 minutes of prep in the morning and 5 minutes of work at the end make this even nicer.  Perfect for a lazy weekend day at home!

This made enough for dinner with Mr. C having seconds and I was still able to get 2 lunches from it.  And, since I know everyone is wondering, it still tasted good cold. 🙂

Am I alone in eating cold leftovers?  Most people think I’m weird for that but since the microwave is my only option for heating things up at work, I’d just rather go the cold route than the microwave route for most leftovers.

North African-inspired Chicken Stew
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Makes: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 - 3 celery ribs, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 heaping Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp ginger
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and quartered
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes in juice (do not drain)
  • 15 oz can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Up to 1 Tbsp hot sauce, to taste (I used sriracha)
  • ½ c raisins
  • 1 c uncooked couscous
Instructions
  1. Add the carrots and celery to the bottom of a 4.5-5 quart slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, olive oil, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon until well blended. Spoon over the top of the vegetables.
  3. Add the chicken and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  4. Add the chick peas followed by the can of tomatoes in juice and chicken broth.
  5. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.
  6. minutes before serving, use a ladle to remove 1¼ cup of the broth to a medium sauce pan.
  7. To the slow cooker, add the raisins, balsamic, and hot sauce. Stir to mix well and cover.
  8. Heat the broth in the sauce pan over high heat until boiling, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the uncooked couscous and cover. Let set for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir into the slow cooker.
  9. Season with salt and pepper as needed then serve.
Notes
Adapted from pg. 21 of the Fall 2014 issue "Cooking Club of America" member magazine

 

 

Loaded Chile Fries

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Next to pizza, fries are way high on my list of favorite foods.  My love affair with french fries goes back so far that I think it was literally one of my first 5 words after “mama” and “gumma” (grandma).  In high school and college, my go-to purchased lunch was a basket of fries and even now, when we meet up with friends at dirty little dive bars, fries are my typical munchy item.

Load the fries up with cheese and bacon and maybe even chili and I am the happiest fat girl in the place.  Psst… “fat” is not a 4-letter word.  I embrace my rolls. 🙂

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So, since our Sloppy Southwestern sandwiches were only borderline unhealthy, I decided to go all the way and make it a completely decadent meal.  I fully support the occasional junk food, especially when made at home.  On the healthy side, though, the fries are baked so that helps, right?

Regardless, I make no apologies for these awesomely delicious fries.  I’d make these just by themselves without the bacon and cheese but… I mean… come one!  Cheese!  Bacon!  Yes, please!  And the diced jalapenos made them even better.

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Since I am a self-professed condiment queen, I dipped these in ketchup, BBQ sauce, ranch dressing and the spicy mayo from the Sloppy Southwestern.  The ranch was my favorite.  Mr. C preferred ketchup and Mr. O didn’t dip them at all.

When baking the fries, be careful to not overcrowd the pan or your fries will not get crispy.  I have the habit of cutting too many potatoes so that usually happens to me.  The flavor makes that forgivable, though.  🙂

Loaded Chile Fries
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Makes: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 - 4 medium russet potatoes cut into ½" strips (I used my mandolin)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil or canola oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp chile powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
  • 4 oz cheddar, shredded (1 cup)
  • 4 oz monterrey jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Pour 2 Tbsp of the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet and smear to coat the pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, 2 Tbsp of the oil, chile powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on the pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, flipping once halfway through cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high until crispy and golden brown, flipping occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon to a couple of paper towels to drain. Pour off the bacon fat, reserving about 2 teaspoons. Cook the jalapeno in the reserved bacon grease for a couple minutes, just until softened. Remove the jalapeno to the paper towel to drain.
  4. Once the fries are done baking, flip them again and push to the center of the pan. Sprinkle the fries with half of the cheddar. Top with the jalapeno then the monterrey jack cheese then the bacon. Top with the remaining the cheddar cheese. Put back in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

 

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Sloppy Southwestern

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I love when an accident turns out to be something wonderful.  These lovely messy sandwiches were actually supposed to be burgers but they completely fell apart when I cooked them.  After a moment of panic, I just decided to add in some of the spicy mayo I had made and serve them loose meat style.

They tasted just as amazing as I thought they would even though the end result did not happen as planned.  I love it when that happens!

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I love that these taste decadent but aren’t as bad for you as you might think.  I used lean ground beef and upped the protein with black beans.  Chopped jalapeño added a little heat and the corn counteracted that with just a little sweetness.

And yes, these were messy.  Dripping down the chin and running down the arms kind of messy… well, they could be if you went with it.  I tried to be a bit more lady-like.  I’m not gonna lie; they still required a couple of napkins.

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Sloppy Southwestern
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Makes: 8 sandwiches
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c mayonnaise
  • ¼ c salsa
  • Up to 1 Tbsp hot sauce, to taste
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained, rinsed and drained again
  • ½ c corn kernels
  • 3-4 jalapeno peppers, seeded, deveined, and chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ c freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 8 hamburger buns, split
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, salsa and hot sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large bowl, add the black beans and roughly mash with a fork. Add the corn, jalapenos, ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt pepper, and cayenne and mix well to incorporate all the ingredients.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the bean-beef mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally to crumble, until the beef is browned and cooked through, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and ¼ cup of the spicy mayonnaise and heat for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve on buns with more spicy mayo.

 

Green Goddess Salad Dressing

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Shortly after we moved to Atlanta, I started working for the company where I currently work.  About once a month, we seemed to have a potluck for one reason or another.  There’d be a lot of the usual potluck fare: chicken from a local deli, pasta salads, chips and dips, veggie trays, fruit trays, etc.  I tried to change my contribution each month but most people had their food thing that they would bring every time.

One of my bosses would bring the veggie tray every time with a lime green dip that was absolutely amazing.  It was sweet and herby and creamy all at the same time.  She called it green goddess dip and I was hooked.

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I finally asked her for the recipe and she coyly blushed.  Apparently, all she did was pour bottled green goddess dressing into a bowl.  Hee hee… I kept her secret but did start buying it for salads at home.  I loved this dressing so much that it pretty much forced me to eat more vegetables.  Then – horror of horrors – my grocer store stopped carrying it!

I asked several times if they could start carrying it again but I guess I was the only one buying it and none of the other stores in my area carried it.  It made me sad so I looked up recipes for it.  As soon as I saw it had anchovies, I decided I had to find another favorite dressing because the thought of anchovies made me feel a little ooky.

Nine or 10 years later and I no longer feel that way, thankfully.  I love how tastes can change and develop as time passes.  I am also more confident when it comes to what I consider unusual ingredients.  Not that anchovies are unusual.  Just kind of weird, imo.

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Making green goddess dressing was a great way to use up some of the leftover anchovies I had from the Caesar salad I made a couple of weeks ago.  Plus herbs were on sale so it was a no-brainer for me to make this.  And all the green herbs smelled so beautiful as I was chopping and mixing them.  It definitely made me happy.

If I had my dream herb garden, I would probably always have this dressing on hand and use it as a dip for veggies.  It also works well mixed with shredded chicken and chopped celery.  The guys wanted just a simple chef salad so that’s what we did.  I felt so guilty buying deli ham and turkey.  Even with the organic and sodium-nitrite-free options, it just feels wrong but ti did make for a tasty salad.  I forgot to make croutons, though, but crushed Triscuits actually worked really well.

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I love that is a pretty healthy dressing, too.  Not the healthiest, of course, with the mayo but this dressing really needs it for the twang that only mayo can provide.  Since I did cut it with the Greek yogurt, there’s really only 2 teaspoons per serving which is not much at all.  I tried it with all Greek yogurt once and I didn’t think it was very good.

If you can, I would definitely recommend making the dressing an hour or more before you plan to have your salad and it actually keeps fairly well in the fridge.  I made this a week ago and finished up the last of it today with some carrots.  It may just need to be shaken a bit first.

Green Goddess Salad Dressing
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Makes: 1½ cups
 
Ingredients
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ c packed parsley leaves
  • 10 lg basil leaves
  • ¼ c lightly packed dill
  • ¼ c lightly packed oregano leaves
  • 2 Tbsp snipped chives
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ c mayonnaise
  • ¼ c plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a blender or food processor, process the anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and vinegar until the herbs are well chopped and blended.
  2. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, salt and pepper and process until smooth.
  3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Notes
Adapted from Food & Wine
Nutrition calculated at SparkPeople
Nutrition Information
Servings: 2 Tbsp Calories: 70 Fat: 6.8 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 1 g Sugar: 0.3 g Sodium: 185 mg Fiber: 0.1 g Protein: 1 g Cholesterol: 3.6 mg

 

Vegetable & Couscous Salad with Lemon-Lime Dressing

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Couscous is a fun word to say.  Couscous.  I can’t help but make a kissy face while saying it.  Couscous.  Koooskooos.  I like couscous.

The first time I ever actually ate this grain-like pasta was back in college when a Middle Eastern friend invited me over for a home cooked dinner.  I’m guessing his college-level cooking skills were lacking because my first introduction to Middle Eastern cuisine was under seasoned baked chicken and plain couscous cooked in water.  He said that’s what he grew up eating and I felt bad for him.  I feel even more bad for him now that I know more about the luscious flavors associated with that part of the world.

I definitely liked the texture of the couscous, though.  I find it a lot more pleasing than rice.  Plus, couscous doesn’t really lose it’s texture once it gets cold.  Unlike rice which just gets hard and weird.  Kind of like my college friend, now that I think about it.  I don’t think he had any body fat but then again, I’d rather be insulated than go without flavor.

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Flavor is something that this salad is not lacking.  Don’t let the boring appearance fool you.  While you can’t see the amazing citrus dressing on here, you can taste it.  It has such a fresh sweetness to it that I am still craving it even though I just ate the last of the leftovers for lunch today.

That’s another thing that I love about this couscous salad: it was just as good warm as it was at room temperature and cold.  I think the flavor got a bit better the longer it sat but it so good when I first made it as well.

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So, if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I love this salad.  Like, a lot.  I will likely make it again this weekend just to have on hand for snacking and for lunches.  This is certainly a tasty way to get a serving or 2 of veggies. 🙂

Vegetable & Couscous Salad with Lemon-Lime Dressing
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Makes: 8 cups
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c lime juice
  • ¼ c lemon juice
  • ¼ c honey
  • ¼ c + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ c water
  • 2 c couscous
  • 4 small or 2-3 med carrots, chopped ½" (~ 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs of celery, ½" slices (~ ½ cup)
  • 2 small zucchinis, quartered and ½" slices
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • ½ c slivered almonds
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, honey, ¼ c olive oil, salt and pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan over high heat, bring the broth and water to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover and let set 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and celery and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. Add the zucchini and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. Add the frozen peas and stir. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the peas are heated through. Remove from the heat.
  4. In a large bowl, add the cooked couscous and vegetables. Whisk the dressing and pour over the contents of the bowl. Stir to mix well.
  5. Either serve immediately, let set at room temp until the rest of dinner is ready or chill in the refrigerator.
Notes
Adapted from BHG.com

 

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Classic Caesar Salad with Chicken

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I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my dinner rotation since I’m not as opposed to them as I used to be.  They just need to be filling so we load them up with protein and carbs as well as lots of vegetables.  With grocery our grocery shopping done on Thursdays, I’ve designated Friday night as Salad Night while the veggies are still at their freshest.

Mr. Consumer’s favorite salad when we go out to eat is Caesar which is hit or miss for me.  A lot of restaurants don’t make a “true” Caesar dressing which can be very disappointing.  In fact, the last one Mr. C ordered had a dressing that he described as “creamy 7-up”.

I don’t know about you but that just doesn’t sound appealing to me.

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So I decided our salad for that week would be a Classic Caesar with the addition of baked chicken to make it a bit more filling.  This ended up being one of those meals where no one really talked until we were done eating. 🙂

A classic Caesar dressing has an ingredient that I know a lot of people shy away from: anchovies.  I know, I know… ew.  I don’t disagree.  But they add a yummy flavor to the dressing that is not fishy by any means and the dressing just doesn’t taste right without it.  I wish I had the foodie vocabulary to describe the subtle flavor they add.  Maybe after I have a bit more caffeine. 🙂

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The Parmesan cheese in a Caesar salad is usually shaved instead of grated but I find the flavor to be a bit overpowering so I do a large grate instead.  That’s just my personal preference.

The next time I make this, though, I think I am going to pan fry the the chicken so it browns.  When I bake boneless, skinless chicken, it usually has a sauce of some kind so I forgot that it doesn’t really get brown without being overcooked.  Despite the bland exterior, it still had a delicious flavor that worked really well with the dressing.  Just make sure your chicken is cooled so it doesn’t wilt your lettuce!

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Classic Caesar Salad with Chicken
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Makes: 3 - 4 entree-sized salads
 
Ingredients
For the croutons:
  • 5 1" slices Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
For the dressing
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
  • 1 heaping Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
For the salad
  • 3 hearts of romaine lettuce (~1½ lbs), quartered and cut into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked, diced & cooled
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Add the bread pieces to a large bowl and drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil over the bread. Toss to coat.
  3. Spread in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with garlic powder and salt.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, for the dressing, add the egg yolk, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, salt pepper, and cayenne to a blender. Cover and blend on low until smooth. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil and run until full incorporated.
  6. Pour into a jar with a lid and cover. Refrigerate until ready. (I usually use this time to cook and cool my chicken if not already done.)
  7. Toss the cooled chicken with ¼ cup of the dressing in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  8. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, cheese, and remaining dressing. Split the salad between 3-4 plates. Do the same with the chicken and croutons. Serve immediately.
Notes
Adapted from Food & Wine

 

 

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