In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, chickpeas, garlic powder, paprika, and seasoned salt. Sautee for 5-7 minutes, until the ingredients are heated through and starting to lightly brown. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, and stir for 2-3 minutes more.
Remove from the heat.
You can serve this plain, with rice or tortillas, inside a pita as a sandwich filling, or anything else you like! I served mine over a green salad with some avocados:
I hope you enjoy this simple, high-protein meal! Give it a try, and let me know what you think!
It's spring, and I have come back to life. The earth is warming, birds are chirping and ... suddenly salad tastes good again. This salad is a variation on another lentil salad I have made for years. I tweaked the seasonings to make it taste something like the filling for dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Let me tell you, this salad hit the spot. This salad made my palate sing. It brought me back to life. Ok, ok, just make it, already.
The cast of characters:
In a bowl, mix 1 c. sliced radishes, 1/2 c. chopped carrots, 1/2 c. chopped green apple, and 1/4 c. chopped fresh mint. I would have added parsley, but I didn't have any. If you have some, add that stuff in there! And once your mint patch gets going this summer, add a whole heck of a lot more mint if you like!
On the stove, get going:
These are green lentils. I cooked 1 cup of them, in about 2 quarts of water. To the water, I added a bullion cube just for extra flavor. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and let simmer for 25-30 minutes. You want them to be soft, but not turn into mush. I also cooked up some rice. I used 3/4 c. of white rice and 1 1/4 c. water, with a pinch of salt. You could easily substitute brown rice here, if that floats your boat.
When the lentils are done cooking, just pour them through a strainer to strain off the liquid. I rinsed mine off with cold water to cool them off and stop the cooking process. To cool off my rice quickly, I spread it out on a cookie sheet for several minutes.
Then, I mixed up my original lemon-olive oil dressing:
This is: 4 T. olive oil, 3 T. fresh lemon juice, the grated zest of one lemon, 1/2 t. herbs de provence seasoning, 1 t. brown mustard, 2 t. honey, and 1 t. salt. Whisk that all together. Then, you just stir the grains and the dressing into the veggies! You can check the taste and see if it needs more salt.
And voila ... instant spring in a salad. I served mine cold with a whole wheat tortilla. It has complete protein, veggies, and the lemon zest makes it taste so bright and cheerful. It is also great the next day for lunch. It made me so happy to eat this.
Enjoy in good health, and happy spring!
Ratatouille is a fantastically simple dish. At its best, it is just tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, and bell peppers cooked to perfection in olive oil. It is traditionally served with French bread, but here I made it with polenta, which is Italian corn meal mush.
I started with these ingredients:
I used one medium eggplant, 2 zucchinis, a can of tomatoes, Italian herb seasoning, garlic, and bay leaves. I didn't have any bell peppers, but you could definitely add one. Fresh tomatoes are also a nice touch in place of the canned ones.
This version is my "quick" version of ratatouille, so I'm making it all in one pot (preferably use a ceramic coated cast iron pot, if you have one). If I had more time, I might roast the eggplant separately in the oven before adding it to the stew. But this way works well too!
Into the pot, I put about 1/2 cup of olive oil. No, this is not a low fat dish. But olive oil is healthy! Heat to medium high and add the eggplant and zucchini. Saute for 5-8 minutes, until the eggplant starts to soften:
At this point, go ahead and add 1 t. Italian seasoning, 1 t. garlic powder, and about 1/2 t. salt.
Cooking eggplant always takes longer than I expect. It has a spongy texture that takes a while to soften. If you use the smaller, lighter purple Japanese eggplants, they will cook more quickly.
Now add your can of tomatoes and 1 bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down. This will need to simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes. You will know it's done when the eggplant is as soft as butter:
There we go! You can check your salt levels at this point and add more if needed.
In the meantime, you can cook your polenta. It only takes a few minutes. I had the "quick cooking" kind, which is even faster. I cooked it according to package instructions, 1 cup polenta with 2 1/4 c. water.
If you've never tried polenta, it's a great alternative to pasta for all your Italian cooking needs! Put any kind of sauces or proteins on top you like, and voila! A tasty gluten free dinner. It's also great the next day! Once it's cold, you can slice it and fry the slices in olive oil. Yum.
Anyway, back to the ratatouille. To serve, I just put a small serving of polenta in the bottom of the bowl, ratatouille on top, and a bit of Parmesan cheese.
I know I'm totally mashing together a French classic and Italian food here, but hey, it tasted great. Let me know if you try this!
This recipe is so easy, it's barely even a recipe. Kale chips are super popular right now. They are delicious and full of vitamins, fiber, and other wonderful kale goodness. My child will eat literally 4 cups of kale for dinner if I make this recipe.
Many of the kale chips you buy in the store are super expensive. My local grocery store sells a popular brand of kale chip for $6.99 a package! For $1, you can buy a bunch of kale and make your own.
I know many cooks prefer to use a dehydrator for kale chips. I don't have one of those. Maybe someday I'll purchase one just for kale chips. For now, I make them in my oven.
I preheat the oven to 375. I wash, de-stem, and rough chop a bunch of kale. I leave the pieces pretty big. I also let some water stay on the kale after washing. This evaporates in the oven, and the steam helps cook the kale. I put the kale on a baking sheet:
Then I drizzle 2-3 T. of olive oil on top, add 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 c. nutritional yeast. I use my hands to toss it like a salad, so the oil and seasoning coats all the kale.
Then I place this on the top rack of the oven. I bake it for 15-20 minutes. You will have to watch your kale and see how quickly it's cooking. I usually stir the pieces around once during the baking process. You don't want the kale to burn, but you want each piece to be pretty crispy, with not very many soft pieces left.
Remove from the oven and enjoy!
Kale chips are a great side dish to go with any dinner! Or just make them to have around as a snack. Let me know if you try them!
Last winter, I became obsessed with cooking one pot dinners. I like the simplicity, of course, but also the challenge of making rice and other grains cook perfectly with meat and vegetables at the same time. It's all about the timing, proportions of ingredients, and temperature.
This chicken and rice dish was one of my winners. It's super easy, tasty, and you probably have the ingredients in your house at all times.
Ingredients: 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (not pictured), olive oil, basmati rice, 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, garlic powder, bay leaves, Lawry's seasoned salt, paprika, and black pepper.
Traditionally, these types of dishes are made with short grain rice, because long grain rice like basmati is more fragile and prone to breaking in the cooking process. However, I've been using basmati because it has a lower glycemic index than other kinds of white rice, making it healthier for those watching their sugar intake.
In a large cast iron pot, heat 3 T. olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken breasts on both sides. After turning them over, season with 1/2 t. garlic, 1/2 t. seasoned salt, 1 t. paprika, and 1/4 t. pepper. If you like things spicy, you could totally add Tabasco sauce or any other hot sauce at this point.
Add the can of tomatoes, 3/4 c. rice, 1 1/4 c. water, and 2 bay leaves. Stir, and allow to come to a boil.
After the mixture boils, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir the mixture gently once or twice during this time, but don't mix it too much or you will break the rice.
When it's done, the rice will be tender and simmering in its own sauce:
Yummy! Quick, easy, and healthy: my favorite combination for weeknight dinners. There is something so magical about cooking rice with sauce. Every time, I marvel at how such a simple process can make such deep and wonderful flavors. Enjoy!
Now, I used these things because this is what I had in my kitchen at the time. I love the "exercise" of seeing what I have lying around and making something out of it...
So here's what I did. I shredded that chicken:
I mixed the can of enchilada sauce with 1/3 c. water and 1 c. plain yogurt:
Then, I oiled a 9 by 9 glass pan and started layering things like a lasagna. Here's how I did the layers:
1/4 of the sauce
layer of tostada shells (3 shells)
1/2 the chicken
1 c. of spinach
1/4 of the sauce
3 tostada shells
1/2 the chicken
1 c. of spinach
4 tostada shells
the rest of the sauce
Here are pictures of the layering process:
You can see I arranged the tostada shells so they covered the surface of the pan.
Then I covered this with aluminum foil and baked at 375 for 30 minutes. I uncovered and baked for 10 more minutes. And the end result:
It was delicious! A little bit messy coming out of the pan, but it totally hit the spot for that enchilada craving. It reminded me a bit of chilaquiles as well (a Mexican dish consisting of tortilla chips and enchilada sauce baked together). This was also lower in fat and calories than your typical cream-based enchilada sauce. Try it out sometime! And let me know what you think!
So I've been having a thing with zucchini this summer. I just love it so much. Here at the tail end of summer, there is still a lot of zucchini around in gardens and stores. So, here is one of my zucchini inventions!
Now, some people have a special machine that turns zucchini into "noodles." I don't have one of those things. It's partly philosophical: why spend money on a gadget when a knife will do the trick? And it's partly financial: I don't want to spend money on a zucchini pasta maker. If you have one of those things, I'm not criticizing you, however. I'm secretly a teensy bit jealous.
Anyhoo, you can make this dish with a zucchini pasta-maker thingie, or with a knife.
So, first, you gotta julienne that zucchini. Step one:
Cut your zucchini in half, then make 1/4 inch thick slices out of each half. Step two:
Make matchsticks by cutting each slice of zucchini lengthwise. Now, you can cut each slice, but to save time, I make little stacks of the slices, and then cut them into the matchsticks. The whole process takes 2 minutes, I promise. Much less time then digging out your zucchini cutter gadget anyway...
The other players: Italian herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram, savory, thyme, sage, rosemary), garlic, olive oil, kalamata olives, and parmesan cheese. You could omit the cheese if you're going for vegan here.
Now, I know this recipe is sorta Italian and sorta Greek. Let's think of it as Mediterranean. You could easily use feta cheese instead of parmesan here. Or put any other kinds of olives you like. This is what I had, so this is what I used!
In a medium skillet, heat 2 T. of the olive oil over medium high heat. Let it get nice and hot. Add the zucchini, 2 t. of the Italian herbs, and 1/2 t. of garlic powder.
Saute that for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While you saute, go ahead and rough chop one large tomato. Cut a lemon in half while you're at it.
When the edges of the zucchini start to turn brown, add the tomato, 1/2 c. of the olives, and squeeze half the lemon in there:
Saute for 2-3 minutes more, just until the tomatoes get soft, but not until they are falling apart. I like the zucchini to not be mushy; it should still be slightly firm. You can add a dash of salt here, but the olives are pretty salty, and the parmesan also adds salt at the end, so I chose not to salt at this point.
And serve with parmesan cheese! (Sorry for my weird thumb on the side of this pic!) This made a lovely, light summer dinner for me. You could always serve it as a side dish with some baked chicken or fish as well. Enjoy, and let me know if you try this!
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!