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!
Eggplant is one of those much beloved and much hated vegetables. I think that for people who hate eggplant, it's all about the texture. And for people who love eggplant, it's all about the texture. Learning to cook eggplant properly results in people loving eggplant, as far as I can tell.
If it's cooked in too much liquid, eggplant can become rubbery and chewy, the dreaded "walrus meat" texture. Ick. When cooked with olive oil and roasted at a high heat, eggplant magically becomes soft as butter, smooth, and mellow tasting.
Eggplant parmesan in the oven can be tricky because the eggplant can dry out, but I've found a method that works pretty well. So here it is! You will need: an eggplant, panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic powder, Italian herb seasoning, and salt.
In a bowl, combine 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, 1/2 c. panko crumbs, 1 t. garlic powder, 1/2 t. Italian herbs, and 1/2 t. salt.
Peel and slice the eggplant in 1/2 inch thick slices. Place them on a plate, and sprinkle with salt on both sides. Allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes. This causes them to "sweat" out some of their liquid, which will remove any bitter taste from the the eggplant, and also make the crumbs stick to them better.
You can see from my photo that I've peeled my eggplant by slicing off the peels with my knife. It resulted in hexagon slices rather than perfect circles, but it also made the process that much faster! I'm always one for making my prep time quicker if I can.
Next, dip the slices into the crumb mixture. You can press crumbs onto each slice to help them stick. Lay the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. I also distributed the remainder of my crumbs onto the top of each slice.
Be generous with the olive oil! I would say I used 1-2 teaspoons of oil on each slice. I've yet to find a "low fat" method of cooking eggplant that works. This is a vegetable that loves its olive oil. They are a perfect pair. However, this method still uses less fat than deep frying.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Check the eggplant frequently, as you want to remove it just when it's golden brown. I've found that oven times can vary on this.
Voila! This method results in eggplant that is super crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside, and just perfect. You can serve it with pasta and marinara sauce, or just a simple salad for a lighter meal.
Cheese is one of the great joys of life, it really is. But some people can't digest cheese. And some people are looking to cut down on fat and calories in their lives. And some people, weird people like me, actually like the taste of non-dairy alternatives. Not all of them, mind you. But if you look carefully and experiment, you might find some non-dairy options that tickle your fancy.
This "cheese" sauce has been a favorite of mine for years. It is one of many variations I've seen online and in cookbooks such as The New Farm Cookbook.
It's easy, quick, full of flavor and vitamins, and healthy. To enjoy it, though, you have to get past the idea that it will taste like Velveeta. It doesn't. I happen to hate Velveeta, so that's a good thing for me. The sauce takes its flavor mainly from nutritional yeast, the miracle food I wrote about here. If you've never tried it, now's the time.
In a medium saucepan, combine: 1/2 c. nutritional yeast, 3 T. flour, 2 c. water, 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. garlic powder, 1/4 t. paprika, 1/3 c. vegetable oil, 1 t. yellow mustard.
Whisk to combine. I know it looks funny at this point. You have to trust.
Heat the mixture over low-medium heat, stirring frequently. As the mixture starts to boil and thicken, whisk a few times more, then remove from the heat.
You can use this sauce in casseroles, on top of pasta or veggies, anywhere you like to use cheese sauce! I've used it on nachos and burritos as well.
Here, I put it on top of a baked potato with broccoli:
Delicious! Try it, and let me know what you think!
This one is a quickie but goodie. If you hate brussels sprouts, feel free to ignore this post. If you love brussels sprouts, you will definitely love this. If you are on the fence about brussels sprouts ... this could really change things for you.
I personally love them. But I've known people who hate them. I always thought that maybe they hated them because they had only had mushy boiled brussels sprouts (think stinky cabbage smell and soft texture). But what if they were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside? Bursting with fresh green spring-y flavor?
You may remember I have an obsession with cooking things on parchment paper. That obsession has not faded over the last year. It has only grown. So naturally, brussels sprouts get the parchment paper treatment here.
This is so simple it's not even a recipe. Wash a pound of brussels sprouts, cut the bottoms off, and cut them in half. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet, and then put the brussels sprouts on. Drizzle with 3 T olive oil, 1/2 t. salt, and stir to coat the vegetables. That's it, folks. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
The caramelized crispy edges make them so delicious. The inside is tender, but not mushy. There is a real brussels sprout-y flavor, without any stinky cabbage smell. Give it a try!
Poaching is a lost art. As a cooking teacher, I often teach students how to poach an egg. Usually, in every class, there are only one or two people who have poached an egg before. Everyone else stares at me blankly when I say the word.
And for most of us, poaching an egg might be all the poaching we ever do in our kitchen. I recently went on a quest, however, to figure out how to poach boneless chicken breasts. They had always been tricky for me, as they quickly cross the line from "done" to "dry tough leather" in a couple of minutes during cooking. With poaching, they come out juicy, tender, and full of flavor.
Not only that, but poaching has become a go-to technique for me when I need chicken for a recipe. I can easily poach my chicken, then turn it into chicken salad, enchiladas, or anything else! Also, this method of cooking is low fat, as you are not cooking with any oil.
Here are the fruits of my experiments, people. You're welcome.
First, you get some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You put them in a pot and cover them with cold water. Add a generous amount of salt. I think I added about a tablespoon. Poaching is also a great way to add other flavors to your food. I added a vegetable bullion cube here. You can also add lemon zest, garlic, or anything else you want to flavor your chicken. But the salt is key. It helps keep the chicken juicy.
Then, bring the pot to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn it down to low. You will have to play around with your oven's settings to find what will produce the right temperature water. Now, poaching is not the same as simmering. With simmering, you see a steady stream of small bubbles. With poaching, you should see the water steaming and moving around, but not actually bubbling. Cooking the chicken at this slightly lower temperature prevents it from getting tough.
So, you let the chicken poach for 25 minutes. Then, take the pot off the burner and let the chicken sit in the hot water for another 15 minutes. When you take it out of the water, it will be ready to eat or put in other recipes. You won't believe the difference this cooking method makes! Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!
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!
I had a rough couple of weeks at school. If there were a soundtrack to my day, it would be the song, "You Had a Bad Day." Without going into detail, I felt a bit ... roughed up by my life.
Now, when I feel that way, I turn to baking. Banana bread is my comfort zone.
My favorite banana bread recipe comes from the Tassajara Bread Book, a cookbook written by Edward Espe Brown, a Zen practitioner. If you don't already own it, get it! It's a timeless classic. This is the bread cookbook my mother had in our house while I was growing up.
Many people have written about the soothing, relaxing, and meditative qualities of baking. For me, that feeling has several components. First, there is the relaxation of the familiar routine. The motions of making bread are so familiar to my body that I go through them like a gentle dance. It's like a rhythm that I perfect more and more each time I do it. I can literally mix up this bread in 5 minutes, but I'm not hurrying; I've just done it so many times.
Into the bowl: 2 c. mashed banana (the riper the better), 2 eggs, 1/2 c. oil, 1/2 c. honey, 1 grated lemon rind, 1/4 t. salt.
For me, this bread is also relaxing because it's the banana bread of my childhood. My mother didn't bake a lot (though she made an amazing variety of masterful soups and roasted meats). But I remember her baking this banana bread. To me it tastes like "the right" banana bread.
The recipe also has the distinction of being the only recipe I've used that contains 100% whole wheat flour and doesn't come out dry and tough. It also has no refined sugar and no dairy!
So, you add to the bowl: 2 c. whole wheat flour and 1 t. baking soda. Stir until just combined, and pour in an oiled loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
I think for me, the real reason baking bread is relaxing is that I get to make it perfect for myself. Each time I bake, it's my time, my space, my rhythm, and my exploring the recipe. I can make it taste how I like it. For me, the process of baking is a process of coming back to myself when I'm feeling off center. And that, my friends, is truly Zen.
Try this banana bread! It's amazing. And enjoy in good health.
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!
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!