Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad with Sage-Brined Chicken

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Now that fall has officially started, I’m diving in deep to all of my favorite fall foods. I was able to put down my pumpkin butter long enough to enjoy the fall produce at our local farmers market and came home with my favorite squash: delicata! The delicata squash has a sweet, nutty taste very similar to butternut squash, but unlike its flavor doppelgänger, comes without the pain of needing to peel the squash. The salad is a staple in our house during the fall and winter weekday nights. Since we don’t eat as much red meat, our salad is typically topped with a seared piece of fish, sautéed shrimp, or brined chicken. But don’t let that stop you beef and pork eaters. This salad is versatile enough to stand up to the bold flavors of a roasted steak or pulled pork. Just top it with your favorite sauce (Chimichurri? Romesco? Herb vinaigrette?) and you could please anyone with this salad. For this recipe, I’ve included a great quick sage-brined chicken that pairs perfectly.

img_3911Sage-Brined Chicken Breast

Yields 4 portions

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups ice
  • 4 tbsp. salt
  • 2 large sprigs of sage
  • 3 slices lemon
  • 4-5 oz chicken breast or thighs
  • 2 tbsp. neutral oil
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried sage

Place the 2 cups of ice in a large bowl and set aside. In a saucepan, bring to a boil the 2 cups of water, sage, lemon slices, and salt. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the ice cubes and set aside until ice melts completely. Once the ice is melted and the brine is cold, add the chicken. Place the bowl of brining chicken in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. After 2-3 hours, remove the chicken and place on paper towel to dry. Once dry, sprinkle the chicken with pepper and dried sage.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil on medium-low. Place the chicken in the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and cook for additional 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan when the internal temperature (remember to temp the thickest part of the chicken) reaches 158°F. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

img_3908Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad

Yields 4 portions

Ingredients:

  • 1 extra large delicata squash (keep the seeds!)
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 8 oz french green beans (haricots vert)
  • 5 cups greens (arugula, spinach, kale, or mixed greens)
  • tiny pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. neutral oil, plus ¼ tsp.
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the ends of the delicata squash off and then cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds (clean and keep them for the salad!) and slice the delicata in ¼ inch moons. Toss the sliced delicata with 1 tbsp. oil, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne. Place seasoned delicata on sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes. While delicata is roasting, season green beans with 1 tbsp. oil, salt, and pepper then roast for 10-15 minutes. With the seeds scooped out from the squash, toss with ¼ tsp. oil and salt and roast for 2 minutes. (Keep an eye on them because they brown fast!) Once all of the veggies are roasted, cool for 2-3 minutes, then toss with the toasted seeds, dried cranberries, salad greens, and your favorite salad dressing (we used my pecorino vinaigrette). Top with the sage-brined chicken and your favorite sauce or more salad vinaigrette!

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Pumpkin Butter

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As of yesterday, it is officially fall… which means it’s officially pumpkin season! And while the thermometer outside our Northern California home suggests otherwise, I’m ready to gear up for sweater weather and warm spices. One culinary must of mine at the beginning of the season is making pumpkin butter. It’s super easy to make, lasts for weeks (depending on how often you eat it, of course), and can literally go on almost anything. Have it for breakfast on toast, in a parfait, or on pancakes (or my Brown Butter Spiced Parsnip Bread!); dip sliced apples into it or make it part of a seasonal cheese tray for a snack; spread it on a brie grilled cheese, or prosciutto sandwich for lunch; put it on ice cream, in a cake, or on cookies for dessert… or just eat the stuff right out of the jar! The stuff is seriously so good I’m tempted to work it into some kind of savory entree creation. Plus you get the added bonus of spiced pumpkin wafting through your house while it cooks. Talk about the best way to kick off fall!

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Pumpkin Butter

Yields 2 cups

img_3905Ingredients:

  • 15 oz pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice

In a small (1.5qt) saucepan with a heavy bottom, mix all of the ingredients together. Over the lowest heat setting on your stove, cook the pumpkin mixture for 2½ to 3 hours. Due to the high sugar content, make sure to stir frequently and keep the temperature as low as possible. Low and slow is the best for this recipe. The end result will be a creamy, thick, sweet pumpkin butter that you won’t be able to get enough of.

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Artichokes

 

img_3787Artichokes

Yields 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 artichokes, sharp tips cut off
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 3 tbsp. salt

Start by preparing the artichokes. Cut the tips of the leaves off with kitchen scissors. Using a sharp knife, slice the top inch or so of the artichoke off. Next, rinse the whole thing under running water, spreading the leaves to thoroughly clean each artichoke. For an easier serving and eating experience, I alway cut my artichokes in half and scoop out the choke (the fuzzy part right above the heart). You are welcome to skip this step — just alter your cook time, since the halved artichokes will take less time then a whole artichoke. If you do decide to cut the artichoke in half, place the halves in a bowl of water with the juice from 1 lemon. This will prevent the artichoke from turning brown. After the artichokes are cleaned, place them in a large stock pot along with the lemon-water they were soaking in. If the water doesn’t cover the artichoke completely, add more.

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If you’re having trouble keeping them submerged, place a plate or smaller lid on top. The weight will push the artichokes under water.

They must be completely submerged in order to cook evenly. Add the remaining ingredients to the stock pot, turn to medium-high, cover, and boil for 30-45 minutes (or until an inner leaf pulls free with ease). Once cooked completely, drain the water and serve alongside your favorite dipping sauce…like our Lemon Aioli. You can also throw these cooked artichokes on the grill for a minute or two for extra flavor!

img_3790Roasted Garlic and Lemon Aioli

Yields 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • minced parsley (optional)

Wrap the garlic cloves in an aluminum foil pouch with a couple drops of oil (olive, avocado, or vegetable) and roast in 350°F oven for 15 minutes. Unwrap and cool garlic completely before mixing with the remaining ingredients.

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Campfire Cod En Papillote with Grilled “Ratatouille”

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With only a handful of weeks left of bright nights and summer heat, my family decided to squeeze in a last minute camping trip. Now, I know camping isn’t for everyone, but those who love it know that part of what makes camping fun is being able to cook outdoors. I may be used to my well-stocked kitchen at home or at work, but I absolutely love cooking dinner with only a few ingredients and a small arsenal of equipment while being underneath the trees, the stars, and campfire smoke. Even though I may not have my usual tools, I still try to make our campfire dinners just as exciting as those at home. This recipe is a family favorite! And what’s great about this particular campfire recipe is that it works just as well at home in your own kitchen, or on a grill in your backyard!

img_3825Cod En Papillote

Yields 2 portions

Ingredients:

  • 2-5 oz. portions of cod (or your favorite white fish), skinless and deboned
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tbsp. of your favorite white wine (enjoy the rest around the campfire!)
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 large pieces of parchment paper
  • 4 large pieces of sturdy aluminum foil

Lay the pieces of parchment paper flat on a table. Place the cleaned fish in the center of the paper. Sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, and wine. Place the thyme, half of the garlic and shallots, and 2-3 slices of lemon on top of the fish.img_3826

To wrap the fish properly, bring the long ends of the parchment paper together and crimp down around the fish. Twist up the ends of the parchment paper to completely seal in the fish. Repeat this process twice more with each fillet, enclosing the parchment packets in two layers of aluminum foil.

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“En Papillote” means in parchment. Who knew campfire cooking could be fancy!

The key to cooking this fish is getting the campfire embers nice and hot. When the embers are ready, spread them in an even layer on the campfire pit floor. Place the wrapped fish on top of the embers and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for additional 3 minutes.

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While the embers get hot, start grilling your veg on the grill.

Remove the pouches from the fire and let cool until you’re able to open the aluminum foil and parchment paper. Serve with grilled ratatouille.

Grilled “Ratatouille”

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Yields 2 portions

Ingredients:

  • ½ red onion
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 15 grape tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • salt and pepper

img_3824My interpretation here of ratatouille takes some of the typical ingredients and grills them over an open campfire. Start by slicing all of the vegetables in ½ inch pieces. I like to lay a piece of aluminum foil over the campfire grill because the grate seems to be too large at times and I end up losing precious food to the hot fire. Toss all of the vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables over the fire and grill for 20-30 minutes, depending on the heat your fire is giving off. Make sure to keep an eye on different areas of the grill – some spots may be hotter than others, so you should move your vegetables around occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Enjoy those crispy, grilled vegetables with your cod en papillote and a glass of cool, white wine as the sun goes down.

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Want to do this at home? Just throw the fish (with the same “en papillote” preparation) in a 400°F oven for 7 minutes.

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Don’t waste that campfire while you eat dinner – sprinkle sliced pineapple with cinnamon and grill for 3-4 minutes on both sides.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken with Miso-Lime “Noodle” Salad

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I’m always on the lookout for healthy alternative ingredients for dinner during the week. I figure if I get creative with nutritious yet yummy food during the week, I can enjoy myself  a little more on the weekend. So when I came across kelp noodles a few years ago, I’ve tried to incorporate them into noodle-y dishes ever since. These noodles are quite delicious! And don’t let the word “kelp” scare you into thinking they taste like the ocean- they’re actually a blank canvas! The beauty of these noodles is that because they don’t taste like much on their own, they take on the flavors of whatever marinade you soak them in. For example, in this recipe the crunchy kelp noodles take on this vibrant, tangy-sweet-salty flavor from the honey, miso, ginger, and lime vinaigrette. What’s even better is that they are ready to eat right out of the package! No cooking or boiling — just toss with your favorite veggies, top with some sweet and spicy chicken, and you’re good to go.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken with Miso-Lime “Noodle” Salad

Yields 4 portions

img_3677Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tbsp. sweet chili sauce (store-bought is easiest for the weekday, but if interested, ask for my homemade recipe!)
  • 1 shallot, roasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, roasted
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce, plus 1 tsp. (try my Turkish Hot Sauce recipe!)
  • 2 tbsp. avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Blend all of the ingredients except the chicken and sweet chili sauce in a blender until smooth. Pour the blended liquid on the chicken, evenly coating, and let rest to marinate for 1 hour. After 1 hour, sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper. Now you can either grill your chicken (medium heat for 10-15 or until the internal temperature is 155°F), or roast your chicken (400°F oven for 10-15 or until the internal temperature is 155°F). Don’t forget to rest your cooked chicken for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. While the chicken is resting, mix 1 tsp. of hot sauce with the sweet chili sauce and spread evenly over chicken.

img_3679Miso-Lime “Noodle” Salad

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. bag of kelp noodles
  • 2 small carrots, shaved
  • 3 radishes, shaved
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • ½ cup pickled cucumbers (recipe below)
  • ¼ bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger
  • 1½ tsp. white miso
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • ½ cup neutral oil (avocado, canola, or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
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Crunchy and fresh kelp noodles! I found mine at Whole Foods.

For the vinaigrette, blend the lime juice, ginger, miso, vinegar, honey, garlic, dijon mustard, oil, salt, and pepper until emulsified and a creamy consistency. If the vinaigrette is too watery, add another tablespoon of oil and blend. Add more salt if desired. Mix all of the other ingredients with the vinaigrette right as you’re pulling your chicken out of the oven to rest (the 10 minutes to rest the chicken will give the salad time to soak up that lime-miso vinaigrette).

Pickled Cucumbers (great for snacking or adding sweet-tangy punch to dishes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 english cucumber
  • 1½ cup rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. pink peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, roughly chopped

Cut off the ends of the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, slice in ¼ inch moons, and place in a clean, metal bowl. In a pot, boil the remaining ingredients. Once boiling, pour over cucumbers (make sure the cucumbers are submerged), and cool completely.

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Turkish Hot Sauce

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries with Aioli

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To me, a burger isn’t complete without a side of sweet potato fries. And as much as I wish I could eat the fried version every week, I wanted a baked version that was just as tasty. Unfortunately, as I’m sure some of you have discovered, “crispy” and “baked” are not synonymous with sweet potato fries. Until now! The process may seem a little labor-intensive but I promise the end result will be worth it. And to pair with these crispy baked sweet potato fries, I make a simple aioli as a dipping sauce. The beauty of this aioli recipe is that it’s quite easy and can be altered with SO many additional ingredients if desired. Check out my aioli flavors below the recipe!

Sweet Potato Fries

Yields 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 tbsp. neutral oil (avocado, vegetable, or canola)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ tsp. paprika (optional)

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Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash the sweet potatoes and cut in long, thin sticks. Immediately submerge the fries in water and set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the water from the potatoes and spread evenly over paper towel to remove excess water. Place sweet potatoes in a bowl with cornstarch and toss vigorously until lightly and evenly coated. Add remaining ingredients and toss to evenly coat. Lightly brush two wire racks with oil or spray with cooking spray and place the fries evenly on the rack.  (I stacked the wire rack on cookie sheets to catch any falling fries.) IMG_3632Make sure to not overcrowd the rack. The more space each piece of sweet potato has, the less likely they will steam and create soft, soggy fries. Place trays in oven and cook for 20 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown. You may need to rotate your trays halfway through the cook time if your oven bakes unevenly. Remove sweet potato fries carefully from the racks and enjoy with….

 

 

This aioli recipe is a great one to keep in your back pocket for meals that need a little something extra. Not to be confused with mayonnaise, an aioli makes for a great dipping sauce and pairs well with savory baked goods. This recipe is my go-to basic aioli (and it doesn’t require a blender — just needs a little elbow grease!). Once you’ve mastered this version, the flavor combinations are endless.

(Note: Real aioli contains raw egg and is not recommended for young children, pregnant women, elders, or those with weak immune systems.)

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Aioli

Yields 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg yolks (have any yolks hanging around after making my pumpkin pancakes??)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane or finely minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 cup avocado oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne

IMG_3628Roll up a slightly damp kitchen towel, shape it into a circle, and place a medium mixing bowl in the center of the towel (this will keep the bowl in place as you  stir). Add the egg yolks, water, salt, and garlic to the bowl. Whisk constantly as you slowly drizzle in the avocado oil (this step may take up to 5 minutes. Hang in there. You can do it!!). When the sauce becomes thick and emulsified, whisk in the remaining ingredients.

Once you have that basic recipe down you can add all kinds of flavors. I made our aioli with toasted vadouvan, turmeric, and more cayenne!

Try these sometime:

  • Lemon
  • Smoked paprika
  • Madras curry
  • Ginger
  • Shmichi togarashi
  • Cabernet shallot
  • Turkish hot sauce (recipe to come!)
  • Moroccan
  • Harissa
  • Herb
  • Avocado-wasabi
  • Rosemary-garlic

… Just to name a few! Comment below with your own fun combinations for others to try.

Guilt-Free Pumpkin Pancakes

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YOU GUYS! It’s almost time for pumpkin season!! I have been waiting all year for my two favorite seasons: pumpkin season and Christmas-treat season! But because I’m staring down a few months of delicious goodies, I came up with this guilt-free, protein-packed pumpkin pancake recipe to fuel you through the upcoming festivities. And I threw in a recipe for apple compote and homemade almond-honey granola to go along with it!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Yields 10-12 small pancakes

Ingredients:

  • IMG_36201 cup rolled oats
  • 5 egg whites (reserve egg yolks for my aioli recipe to come!)
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree (made from roasted fresh pumpkin or from the can. No judgment here!)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    • To make your own: mix 1½ tbsp. cinnamon, 2 tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. allspice, ½ tsp. ground mace, ½ tsp. ground cloves, ½ tsp. ground nutmeg)

In a blender, mix all of the ingredients until fully blended and smooth. Cook pancakes on a 350°F griddle or skillet on low for 4-5 minutes, flipping after 2-3 minutes. Because of the amount of pumpkin compared to that of the oatmeal, these pancakes are more on the denser side than fluffy. So trust me, if you’re dying for a pumpkin fix, these are right up your alley.

Almond-Honey Granola

Yields 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup raw sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (or other neutral oil like avocado, vegetable or canola)
  • 3 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 260 °F. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a saucepan, bring vanilla extract, oil, and honey to a boil. Once bubbling, turn off the heat and pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, mixing to combine. Spread mix evenly on oiled or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir the granola, spread evenly, then bake for additional 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

IMG_3621Apple Compote

Yields 3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 granny smith apples
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. garam masala (it’s my secret! No one will know what amazing warm spices you used!)
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Cut apples into small cubes. Add remaining ingredients and apples to saucepan and simmer on low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

“Gourmet” Weekday Dinner

Ok, bear with me… This one is a doozy, but I promise it’s worth it…

I may be a professional chef by day, but coming home after working all day in a kitchen to make dinner can feel quite daunting. Despite my lack of energy, I always strive to cook a fresh meal for my family. They are the reason I love cooking, after all. It doesn’t make sense to cook 4-star rated food to strangers only to come home and press 4:00 minutes on the microwave for my loved ones. So in an attempt to save a little energy at the end of the day and still provide a balanced, home cooked meal for my family, I’ve used a couple of tricks from my years as a catering chef and applied them to our weekly dining routine.

One of the most challenging things to master as a chef is timing. Catering chefs, for example, have to manage a menu for hundreds of people at one time. The food, in every single detail, has to ALL come out piping hot, not over- or under-cooked, AND taste delicious. How is this possible? One method: par-cooking. By partially cooking your food,  cooling it down, then bringing it back up to the proper temperature for consumption, you’re able to uphold the ultimate vision of the dish without comprising the tasty end result due to lack of time. Still with me? It’s actually quite simple. Here’s how I use this technique for my family.

Saturday was a beautiful day in California and we had a few pounds of chicken breast hanging out in the freezer, so we pulled out the grill. But instead of grilling enough chicken for just our Saturday dinner, I fully grilled enough for us that night, then lightly kissed the grill with the rest of the chicken for later in the week. I did the same for some vegetables. Now we could eat “Grilled Chicken with Summer Vegetables” on a Wednesday night when I was more interested in playing with my daughter than cooking. Hang in there… I promise all of this detail will be worth it. But first…here are a handful of tips for properly par-cooking food

Tips for properly par-cooking food:
  1. Invest in a good thermometer. And calibrate it regularly. (Comment below if you have questions on how to do this!)
  2. Lightly sear or grill your food only for a couple of seconds — just long enough to get those gorgeous grill marks.
  3. Cool your food properly. Hot food must be cooled to 70°F in 2 hours, then down to 41°F in an additional 4 hours. Example: If I grill chicken at 2:00P, I have until 4:00P to get the internal temperature to below 70°F (this is where that thermometer comes in handy!). I then have until 8:00P to get the internal temperature to below 41°F. All of this time and temperature monitoring might seem overwhelming but it ultimately means delicious leftovers without a nasty stomach ache!
    • Don’t put your hot food in the fridge to cool faster. The residual heat could potentially heat the inside of your fridge, which could cause other food in your fridge to get warm and spoil. Ew. And a waste of money.
  4. When ready to eat your food, properly heat it up again in the oven. Use these temperatures when cooking various types of food. (Make sure to temp the thickest part of the ingredient. Cooking multiple sizes? Start with the smallest item, remove it from the oven once fully cooked, then continue with the rest. This will eliminate any random overcooked food):
    1. Fish – 145°F
    2. Casseroles – 165°F
    3. Pork – 145°F
    4. Poultry – 165°F
    5. Beef (steaks)  – 145°F
    6. Ground meat – 165°F
  5. With all of that being said, don’t cook your protein until the thermometer reads that number above. Pull out the protein when the temperature reads about 10°F less than the goal. (e.g.: Take chicken out of the oven when the temperature reads 150-155°F). Why? Because all protein needs time to rest. Resting allows the juices to flow back into the entire piece of the protein cooked. And when you rest your protein, it will continue to cook. So…. If you pull out your chicken exactly at 165°F, and it rests for 10 minutes, then by the time you eat the chicken it will be overcooked.

Still with me? I promise it’s all worth it.

Ok, how about we do some actual cooking?

Here is the dish that inspired this post:

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Herb Grilled Chicken with Lemon Cauliflower Rice, Grilled Vegetables, and Hazelnut Romesco

Yields 4 portions

Ingredients:

Chicken
  • 3 chicken breasts ( I aim for 5 oz. serving portions per person)
  • ½ tsp. minced parsley
  • ½ tsp. minced oregano
  • 1 tsp. avocado oil (or oil of choice)
  • salt and pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
Hazelnut Romesco
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 tbsp.
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp. sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 roma tomato, roasted in 400°F oven for 10 minutes
  • ¼ bunch of parsley
Lemon Cauliflower Rice
  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp. avocado oil
  • ¼ bunch of parsley, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot (or ¼ yellow onion) minced
  • zest of 1 lemon and its juice (want my recipe for preserved lemons to add to this dish instead? Comment below!)

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    Make preserved lemons for added pop of flavor all year!
Vegetables
  • Whatever you have in the fridge! Or find at the Farmer’s Market or grocery store! Go seasonal and it will be delish. Just season with oil, salt, and pepper. Then kiss the grill lightly, cool, then reheat in a 450°F oven for 10 min.

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Chicken

IMG_3610Start by marinating the chicken with the ingredients listed. This can be done 24 hours in advance. Lightly grill the top side of the chicken. Cool (as directed above). When ready to reheat, preheat oven to 450°F. I prefer a higher temperature to add more color to the chicken and to enable you to get the chicken in and out of the oven faster, which will prevent drying out the chicken breast. Cook for about 8-10 minutes (or until the temp is 155°F). Rest, serve, and eat! You can also throw it in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes too and cut the time even more!

Hazelnut Romesco

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat bell peppers with 1 tbsp. olive oil, place on a cookie sheet, and roast until skin is black (about 15-20 minutes). Rotate occasionally for an even char. Remove bell peppers from oven, place immediately in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Cool until you’re able to touch. Once cooled, peel skin and remove the seeds. Place roasted bell pepper in blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Lemon Cauliflower Rice

IMG_3611Cut core from cauliflower and place in food processor. Pulse until until cauliflower is the size of rice. Reserve until ready to sauté. In large saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 30 seconds. Add garlic and saute for 10 seconds. Turn off the heat and add cauliflower, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and serve. If you’re not a fan of cauliflower, substitute with quinoa, brown rice, basmati rice, or pearl barley. Just make sure to alter the cook time accordingly. Comment below if you have questions!

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Thank you for hanging with me for this long one! I hope it helps those who wish they could have a home-cooked meal on those busy weekday nights.

Have any questions? Comment below!

Nectarine-Bourbon Chutney

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It’s getting to the end of stone fruit season, and one of the ways I like to savor summer’s delicious fruit is by making it into a sauce. I love having a variety of sauces and dips stored in my fridge — it makes for an easy addition to a “gourmet” weekday dinner. This easy sauce takes little time to prep but makes up for it when cooking. But it’s ohhh-so-worth the time. The longer and lower this sauce can cook, the more the flavors can meld and create a thick, pungent chutney.

Nectarine, Pink Peppercorn, and Bourbon Chutney

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients:

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Pink peppercorns are dried berries with a black pepper flavor!
  • 7 nectarines
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tsp. shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups bourbon
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. red chili flakes (or more if you like it spicy!)
  • 1 tsp. pink peppercorns
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • salt to taste

IMG_3614Cut nectarines in half, remove the seed, and cut into medium sized chunks. (I prefer a chutney with pieces of nectarine as opposed to a more pureed consistency.) In a large saucepan, add oil on medium-low heat. Sauté shallots, ginger, and garlic for 30 seconds. Add in nectarine chunks. Turn off heat while you add in the bourbon slowly. (Use caution adding alcohol to a hot pan.) Turn heat back on to medium-low and add remaining ingredients except the salt. Stir together, then turn heat to low. Stir occasionally for about an hour, or until the sauce turns into a thick chutney. Taste and season with salt to your liking.

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I enjoyed my chutney with a smoked pulled pork and kale-cabbage slaw sandwich! Want the recipe? Comment below!