Foodie Friday – Curried chicken tenders

Chicken curry is my culinary nemesis. Back in 2012 I even wrote a whole post about it! After trying so many different curry recipes I’d pretty much given up on producing a good result myself, but then I ran across this Martha Stewart recipe. It’s not a classic chicken curry dish since the sauce is more like honey mustard, but it’s simple and really delicious. The curry flavor definitely comes through. I deviated from the original recipe because for simplicity (and laziness) I used canola oil rather than butter. That’s not exactly Paleo, but I tried to make up for it by using raw honey. I probably could have used olive oil or melted coconut oil too. I’ll have to try one of those next time. I also used chicken tenders instead of breasts because it’s easier to split up into lunch portions. I love this dish. The flavor is amazing and the chicken stays tender. I need to remember to make it for my lunches more often!

INGREDIENTS:
1 to 1 1/2 lb chicken tenders
1/2 c honey
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, canola oil, Dijon mustard, curry powder, and salt. Place the chicken tenders into an 11×7″ or 13×9″ pan coated with cooking spray (I use either Trader Joe’s olive oil spray or coconut oil spray). Pour the honey mustard mixture over the chicken and turn each tender a couple of time to coat. Cook at 375 deg F about 30 minutes, turning the tenders once, or until the chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

Based on Martha Stewart’s Curried Chicken Breasts.

Foodie Friday – Ranch turkey tacos

This dish was inspired by a recipe for ranch chicken tacos that I made a while back. The chicken was just OK (it might have potential with some tweaks), but adapting the recipe for ground turkey yielded much tastier results. I kept the spices the same (what’s easier than a couple of seasoning packets?), added a can of tomato sauce in place of the chicken broth, and cooked it in the skillet rather than the Crockpot. It’s incredibly flavorful and a cinch to make. It would be the perfect weeknight meal. The ranch turkey takes about 15 minutes, and then throw a spoonful into a tortilla with whatever fixings you want. You can’t miss! I must confess that since I’m avoiding grains in my diet I don’t actually make tacos with the turkey, but it’s delicious by itself so I make it quite often for my lunches. It’s a little like chili that way.

As a side note, I’ve tagged this recipe as “grain-free,” but I know the McCormick taco seasoning packet actually contains wheat in some form. They do have a gluten free variety, but it’s not the mild version so I haven’t tried it. I’m worried about it being too spicy! The obvious solution is to mix up some homemade taco seasoning, but my first attempt last year was really disappointing. I’ll have to try to again so perhaps I can make this a true grain-free dish. Healthy as well as tasty!

INGREDIENTS:
20 oz ground turkey (not extra lean)
1 packet taco seasoning (I use McCormick’s mild version)
1 packet ranch dressing and seasoning mix (I use Hidden Valley)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

DIRECTIONS:
Brown the meat in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the turkey is no longer pink. Add the taco seasoning and ranch dressing seasoning and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to low. Add the tomato sauce, stir to combine, and cook for 5-10 minutes. There’s not much liquid so it won’t really simmer, but you want the whole mixture to heat through. Enjoy!

Based on Family Fresh Meals’ Cool Ranch Crockpot Chicken Tacos.

Foodie Friday – Coconut oil roasted green beans

I’ve shared a roasted green beans recipe before (roasted Parmesan green beans back in 2013), but I have much more experience making them now. Just about every week I whip up a batch for my lunches, which means that I’ve absolutely perfected my recipe. And I’ve learned a few lessons from failed experiments too. First of all, coconut oil is a must. The nutty flavor is fabulous. You can substitute olive oil if you want, but I think coconut oil is just a lot tastier. Also, salt is not an optional ingredient. When roasting other vegetables I can simply use a salt-free seasoning (like Mrs. Dash) and they turn out great, but the green beans need salt. Without it they turn out bland and tasteless. so don’t skimp on the salt and pepper. Other than that, these green beans are basically foolproof!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb French cut green beans (I get the pre-washed bags)
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp coconut oil
Salt
Black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Dump the green beans into a large bowl. If yours aren’t the pre-washed variety, you might need to wash them and snap off the ends first. But I’m lazy and I buy the bagged ones to save time. Put your coconut oil into a small bowl and melt it in the microwave. This should only take 20-30 seconds. My apartment is pretty chilly most of the year so my coconut oil is always solid. Chiseling it out of the jar is a pain, but I think the flavor of the green beans is far superior using coconut oil rather than olive oil. Pour the melted coconut oil over the green beans and stir with a spatula to coat. (I have to do this quickly before the coconut oil solidifies again!) Generously season with salt and pepper, and stir as needed to distribute the spices. Pour the green beans onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray), and spread out as much as possible. A single layer is preferable, but I always have some overlap. Roast at 375 deg F for 15 minutes. Stir the beans and roast for another 10-15 minutes. I always end up cooking them the full 30 minutes because I like it when they start to shrivel and char a little. Enjoy!

Based on The Rising Spoon’s Oven Roasted Green Beans with Coconut Oil.

Foodie Friday – Roasted broccoli

I love roasted broccoli! Seriously, I can’t get enough of it. Every week I make a batch for the lunches I take to work, but it’s always gone too soon. I do my best to rotate other vegetables into my diet (carrots, green beans, asparagus, etc.), but broccoli is by far my favorite. A couple of years ago I shared the Parmesan lemon roasted broccoli recipe that I made for Christmas 2012 so I was already somewhat aware of how delicious it could be. But what I didn’t know is how simple it is to make an amazing vegetable dish for my grain-free homemade meals. Just a few ingredients, less than a half hour in the oven, and you have a healthy and scrumptious side dish that goes with just about any protein. Sometimes I even grab a few florets off the cookie sheet and pop the right into my mouth after they cool. This means my lunches have a little less broccoli, but I can’t resist!

INGREDIENTS:
12 oz broccoli florets (I get the bagged, ready-to-use variety)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (or another 1 Tbsp olive oil)
Seasoning (salt, pepper, or other)

DIRECTIONS:
Throw the broccoli florets into a large bowl, breaking up any that aren’t already bite-sized. Drizzle the olive oil and sesame oil (or just olive oil) over the broccoli and gently stir with a spatula to coat. Season as desired. I haven’t tried every option, but I figure you can use just about any variety of seasonings. Sometimes I use simple salt and pepper, but other times I just sprinkle some Mrs. Dash on the broccoli and nothing else. It’s all a matter of taste. You can’t really go wrong here! As far as how much, I usually add a little seasoning, stir a bit, and then add a little more. Dump the seasoned broccoli onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray (the Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray is my new favorite). Roast a 375 deg F for 15 min, stir, and then roast for another 10 min or so. Check for doneness after 5 min. I like it when the florets start to get a little crispy. So delicious! Enjoy!

Based on Rachel Cooks’ Best Broccoli Ever.

(Not quite) Foodie Friday

It’s been a while since I posted a new recipe, but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen this week. I’ve got three different recipes for roasted vegetables in various states of completion, but none of them are ready to be posted yet. Take a look at those pictures, though. Don’t they look delicious? I’ve been roasting a lot of vegetables lately as part of my attempt at a grain free diet, but I’m still perfecting the ingredient lists and cooking directions. Usually I just toss the vegetables with some oil and seasonings, dump them on a cookie sheet, and throw them in the oven until they look done. Not exactly scientific, but I always enjoy the results. I seriously can’t get enough roasted broccoli these days, so I’m looking forward to having a recipe to share soon. The carrots and green beans are pretty killer too. I think I’ll only need to make a couple more batches before I figure out the right oven temperatures and cooking durations. Stay tuned for a recipe next week!

Foodie Friday – Amazing bacon chili

When the chili cook-off at work rolled around on Halloween I still wasn’t 100% satisfied with the recipe I had been working on. In the end I whipped up a batch that I called “When Zombie Pigs Fly Double Bacon Chili” that used a whole pound of bacon, but I wasn’t sure it would be a success. People seemed to like it (I knew the bacon would be a crowd pleaser), but I actually didn’t even taste my own concoction! I was a little afraid to considering how badly my previous batch had turned out. I’m not sure what I did differently the last time, but I threw half of that batch out because I simply didn’t like it. What a waste. I’m pretty sure the chili cook-off version was better than that since my co-workers at every last bite, but I still had a nagging feeling that it was just mediocre. So a couple of weeks ago when I decided to make a batch of chili for my weekday lunches I was nervous that it would be another flop. Fortunately I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was amazing! Here’s what I did differently: 1) I used maple-flavored bacon (the hint of sweetness made all the difference), and 2) I cooked in on the stove rather than in a Crockpot. Those tweaks turned this chili into one of the best things I’ve made all year. I even made a batch for my co-workers this week and they loved it.

Note: This chili recipe is completely customizable. If you want some heat, add a little cayenne pepper or some diced chili peppers. I can’t handle spicy food so I simply leave those kinds of ingredients out. Also, you can throw in a couple of cans of beans (drained and rinsed), like I did in the batch I made this week. Black beans and red kidney beans are my favorite. You can also use other meats or vegetables. Whatever you want! I think I’m going to try sweet potato chili next. The sky’s the limit!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb maple-flavored bacon
1 c diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 c diced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp paprika (mine is smoked)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce (can use two 8 oz cans instead)

DIRECTIONS:
Cut the bacon slices into 1/2 in pieces. In a large nonstick skillet (I have an aptly named chili pot that I love), cook the bacon over medium heat. Use a splatter guard if you have one because that bacon grease is hot! Once the bacon pieces are crispy, remove them from the pan and set aside for later. Add the ground beef, diced onions, and peppers to the pan with the leftover bacon grease and cook until the beef is no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and reserved bacon and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook for at least an hour (longer if you want), stirring occasionally. Enjoy!

Based on Kate’s Healthy Cupboard’s Bacon Chili (Gluten Free).

Foodie Friday – Korean ground beef

I bet you thought December was just going to be a bunch of wordless posts, right? Well, as much as I’d like to keep that up (less stress and all), the pure laziness has to stop now. I can’t spend the whole of December this way! So be on the lookout for some more substantial posts in the days ahead. But for now, on to the recipe.

This Korean ground beef one of my favorite grain-free recipes to make and divide up for weekday lunches along with some roasted vegetables (broccoli and carrots are my favorite). It’s simple, doesn’t require any unusual ingredients, and tastes great. What more could you ask for? Brown the meat, add the sauce, simmer a bit, and you’re done. Delicious! Next time I make a batch of this Korean ground beef I’m going to add some diced vegetables (whatever I have on hand, really) and see how that turns out.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp honey (I used raw honey)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used gluten free)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the garlic until the meat is no longer pink. At this point you can drain the fat if you want to, but I use such lean ground beef (7% fat) that it doesn’t seem necessary. In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients (honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and pepper). At first the honey will seem like it doesn’t want to combine with the other ingredients, but keep whisking and everything will come together. Pour the sauce into the skillet and simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes to blend the flavors. The sauce will thicken a bit too. Serve with vegetables (roasted broccoli is my favorite) or over rice (if grains are in your diet). Enjoy!

Based on Six Sister’s Stuff’s Korean Beef and Rice.

Foodie Friday – Roasted potatoes

I’ve shared quite a few really simple recipes on my webpage, but this one rivals them all for ease of execution. It’s almost a no brainer! But believe it or not, before I tried this recipe I had never cooked potatoes in my life. Is that weird? But when I gave up grains I had to find something to replace the carbs in my diet, especially before long runs. Potatoes seemed to fit the bill. Too bad I didn’t know how to cook them! Fortunately this method couldn’t be easier. I even found a recipe that left the skins, which was great because I dreaded the idea of peeling potatoes! Pretty much all you have to do is dice them and roast them. So simple and so delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
1 large white potato
1 large sweet potato
~2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Clean the potatoes (I had to buy a vegetable brush for this) and then dice them into approximately 1/2″ to 3/4″ pieces. You don’t even have to peel them! Put the diced potatoes into a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Don’t be stingy with it. My first batch stuck to the pan because I didn’t use enough oil. Stir the potatoes (a spatula seems to work best) to make sure all of the chunks are coated. Then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Stir the potatoes again and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Spread the diced potatoes in a single layer onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray (another nonstick line of defense). I like the olive oil spray from Trader Joe’s. Bake the diced potatoes at 400 deg F for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice. When they’re done the potatoes will be slightly crispy on the outside. Enjoy!

Based on The Cookin’ Chicks’ Parmesan Roasted Potatoes.

Chili cook-off test recipe #6 – Pineapple chili

I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing Paleo food blogs lately. Despite the fact that I’ve been doing really well cooking meals consisting of meat and vegetables to fit into my new diet, I still need to branch out and give myself more options. Fortunately, it’s easy to make chili both grain free and Paleo, so preparing for the chili cook-off at work next week has been a snap. Not only am I perfecting the recipe I’m going to feed my hungry co-workers on Halloween, but I can eat the practice batches with zero guilt.

To build on the success of my yummy bacon chili, I found a recipe on a Paleo food blog that included both bacon and pineapple. I definitely had to try it. Besides the pineapple, this chili wasn’t all that different from my previous batch, so I was basically just seeing whether the fruit would add anything to the dish. Unfortunately it really didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the chili wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t remarkably good either. The good news is that I got quite a few healthy lunches out of this pineapple chili, but the bad news is that it didn’t help me improve my bacon chili recipe. I’m planning to make one more test batch this weekend so hopefully it won’t be long before I perfect what I’m making for the chili cook-off next week!

INGREDIENTS:
12 oz bacon
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
1 c diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 c diced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14 oz) diced pineapple (I used tidbits) in juice, drained

DIRECTIONS:
Cut the bacon slices into 1/2 in pieces. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Add the ground beef to the pan with the leftover bacon grease and cook until no pink remains. Add the diced onions and peppers near the end to cook them slightly before they go into the Crockpot. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Dump the beef mixture into the bottom of your slow cooker, preferably with a liner to make clean up a breeze. Pour the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and diced pineapple (make sure you drain off most of the juice or the chili will be runny) into the slow cooker as well. Throw the reserved bacon on top and stir gently to combine all of the ingredients. Put the lid on the Crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. Enjoy!

Note: You can make this on the stovetop as well. Check out the recipe link below for details!

Based on Civilized Caveman’s Spicy Pineapple Chili.

Chili cook-off test recipe #5 – Bacon chili

It’s that time again – time to prepare for the annual chili cook-off at work! October is almost here again which makes me extremely happy. I’ve already decorated my apartment for Halloween so that’s taken care of, and now I can turn my attention to fall cooking. Usually I’d be focused on baking, especially cookies and cakes with pumpkin or apple, but this year is going to be different. I’m not saying that I won’t be making any seasonal goodies (I’m actually baking some pumpkin bread for my co-workers tonight), but I won’t be eating too many of them since I’m working on eliminating grains from my diet. I even bought gluten free soy sauce on Saturday (for some amazing cashew chicken that I’ll post another time). Yep, I’m that committed to making a change. So instead of scouring Pinterest for new and exciting pumpkin cookie recipes (although my favorite pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are pretty much perfection), I started searching for Paleo-friendly chili recipes to try. When I saw this recipe for bacon chili I was really excited to try it. How could chili + bacon be bad? Anything with bacon in it is bound to be a hit with my co-workers, which will give me an edge during the cook-off. And the bacon chili turned out to be not just good, but great! The bacon and bacon grease made the flavor out of this world. Next time I think I’ll try adding more bacon (because why not?) and some other vegetables (carrots, at least). This is an excellent jumping off point for this year’s chili cook-off!

INGREDIENTS:
6 slices bacon (~1/2 lb)
1 c diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 c diced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:
Cut the bacon slices into 1/2 in pieces. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked though, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside for later. Add the diced onions and peppers to the pan with the leftover bacon grease and cook until the onions get tender and start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved bacon and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and let the chili simmer for an additional hour or so to thicken up. Enjoy!

Note: Rather than simmering on the stove, I made this in the slow cooker. However, cooking it on low for 8 hours made the vegetables way too mushy. If you’re going to finish this chili in your Crockpot, I’d either not pre-cook the onion and pepper, or just cook it on low for no more than 6 hours. Maybe less. I’ll make a few changes next time and see how it turns out.

Based on Kate’s Healthy Cupboard’s Bacon Chili (Gluten Free).