Month: February 2016

Chocolate Banana Date Smoothie 

I was at Costco the other day, as you do, and picked up a giant bag of dates. I’d eaten a date exactly once before, at which time I thought, “This is not fruit, this is tree candy. It’s weird and I hate it.”

But eating dried dates by themselves is not the ideal way to use dates, Past Me. Dates are little weird sugar pods that happen to also grow on trees. Use them as sugar. 

This smoothie might change your life, not to put too fine a point on it. It’s not too sweet, super chocolatey, and full of healthy crap. I have not tested this, but you might be able to trick small children into thinking it’s terrible for them. 

Note: I have the world’s crappiest blender. I manage to make this smoothie by running it for about twelve years. If your blender is better than garbage, you’ll have an easier, faster time. 

Oh! And this could be vegan if you substituted something vegan for the dairy yogurt. 

Chocolate Banana Date Smoothie 

  • 2T chia seeds 
  • 4T water

Mix these in the blender pitcher and let sit for 5-10 minutes. It’ll turn into a creepy-looking gel. This is what we’re going for. 

  • 4 dried dates, finely chopped (oil your knife so they don’t get stuck)
  • 1T coconut oil 
  • 1C cashew milk (or coconut, or almond, or cow)
  • 1/4C plain yogurt

Add to blender pitcher and blend. Blend the living hell out of this. Blend until you can’t see any date chunks. 

  • 2T cocoa powder 
  • 1t vanilla extract 
  • sprinkle of wheat germ
  • dash of cinnamon 
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 banana (frozen or fresh)

Add to pitcher and blend until smooth. Serve. Love. Enjoy. 

Week 7: Cottage Pie with Spinach Potatoes & Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwiches/Rice Bowls

Yesterday I wrote up this lovely post, with two recipes, and it was so gorgeous, guys. There were bulleted ingredient lists and underlined words and everything. Then I pressed “Publish,” and it disappeared into the void of the Internet and apparently no longer exists.

This one time in grad school, I went to the library to work on a huge paper. I always worked on huge papers at the library because then there were no distracting cats to pet or episodes of Judge Judy to watch. I wrote my paper, which was at least 10 pages, and got up to stretch, and in the five minutes I was away from my computer, my paper had gotten erased from existence forever and ever. I cried. In the library. Loudly. Ironically, I was in school to become a librarian so I knew how obnoxious I was being. You bet your bippy that I became a CTRL+S junkie for the rest of grad school. Every sentence: CTRL+S.

So I guess I didn’t learn my lesson six years ago. That’s the point. Well, the point was really that I was SUPER PISSED about my recipes, which actually take a while to type up, going away with a tiny *bloop* sound. The saddest bloop.

But you’re here for recipes, yes? Yes. These two were sure winners. I made up the first one. I’ve made cottage pie a billion times, but never with such success or such fancy potatoes. The jalapeño popper chicken sandwiches were awesome, and yes, they have about a million elements to them, like most sandwiches, but make them anyway because they are so good. We used some of the leftover chicken for burrito bowls last night, and that worked out super well.

Cottage Pie with Spinach Potatoes

  • 1lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon (or 2T beef stock concentrate)
  • 1C water
  • 2T tomato paste
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • 1 Russet potato, chopped (and peeled if you feel fancy)
  • 3 smallish red potatoes, chopped (there’s really no need to peel these)
  • 1/2C-1C cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2C frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • heavy cream
  • butter
  • salt and pepper

You can make this in advance and then just warm it up later. If you’re making it all at once, preheat your oven to 375F. Brown beef with onions and garlic in a largeish pot. Pour into a colander in the sink and let it hang out there while you get the rest of the filling ready.

Add the bouillon, water, tomato paste, and Worcestershire into the pot you used for the beef. Stir to mix, then add parsnips and carrots. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the parsnips are almost tender. (Parsnips take longer to cook than carrots.) Add the peas, stir, then add the beef and onions back in. Stir, and heat through.

While all of that’s going on, cook the potatoes in heavily salted water until they’re very tender. Cook the cauliflower (I used the microwave) and blend it up in the food processor until it’s totally smooth. Add potatoes and pulse until almost smooth. Add heavy cream, butter, salt, pepper, and spinach, and pulse a few times.

Pour the filling into a large casserole dish and spread the potato mixture on top, sealing the edges. Spray the top with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes are browned. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwiches/Rice Bowls

Adapted from Food Fanatic

For chicken

  • 2.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28oz. can of Rotel (I used two 14oz. cans of diced tomatoes plus two little cans of Hatch chiles)
  • 2T chili powder
  • 1T cumin
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon (or 2T chicken stock concentrate)

Place all in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. I plopped my chicken in there frozen and it only took about 7 hours.

For breadcrumb topping

  • 1C panko crumbs (or other breadcrumbs, preferably coarse)
  • 2T butter

Melt butter in a small pan. Brown breadcrumbs in butter until crispy. Take off heat.

For cheese sauce

  • 1/2C heavy cream
  • 2oz. cream cheese
  • 4oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Cheddar slices that I tore up)

Heat cream in a saucepan. Add cream cheese and whisk to melt. Add Cheddar and whisk to melt. Keep on very low heat until you’re ready to serve.

For jalapeños

  • chopped, seeded jalapeño (I think I got a couple of dud jalapeños, because they weren’t spicy AT ALL. Next time I might get the pickled kind.)

Assembly

Using a slotted spoon, place chicken on buns, then top with cheese sauce, jalapeños, and panko crumbs. Alternately, you could skip the buns and put everything into a bowl of cooked hot rice. That was surprisingly good.

Also, do not skip the breadcrumbs! I thought they seemed kind of unnecessary, but they add crunch to something that is otherwise very squishy.

This makes a stupid amount of chicken, so freeze some leftovers, or use the extra to make burrito bowls.

Week 6: Chicken Parm and Honey-Baked Chicken 

So I kind of cheated this past week. I made two things I’ve made before, but in my defense, I hadn’t made them in a very long time.

Anyway, these are delicious. The Parm is probably not authentic, and since I’m from New Jersey I should care, I guess, but I’m too tired for that crap. Eat it. It’s good.

The honey-baked chicken is my mom’s recipe. When I was a kid, I had no idea it had curry in it. (Come on, Past Me, get it together.)

Chicken Parm

  • One recipe Crockpot Pasta Sauce, with or without leftover meatballs
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, butterflied or cut thinly
  • Breadcrumbs of choice (Progresso Italian worked well)
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Provolone, if you’re feeling zesty

Spoon a little sauce in a Pyrex baking pan. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs and Parmesan, and brown in olive oil in a big pan. Drain on paper towels and place in baking pan. 

Spoon more sauce over chicken, sprinkle with mozzarella, and top with slices of provolone. Cover with foil, taking care not to touch the cheese. Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you cut the chicken. Remove foil and let cheese brown. Serve with pasta and more sauce. 

Honey-baked Chicken 

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4T butter
  • 1/2C honey
  • 1/4C mustard (brown, spicy, yellow; pretty much whatever you have)
  • 1t curry powder
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter in a baking dish (I used a Pyrex pie pan). Stir in honey, mustard, and curry powder. It’ll be a really pretty color. Add chicken, coating each piece in sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serve with brown rice. Lick your plate. 

Breakfast Coconut Rice 

I finished a bowl of this not even five minutes ago and I needed to tell you about it. This is a super easy rice cooker breakfast (I know, that’s weird). Make it if you love coconut, rice pudding, or delicious things. 

It’s also vegan if you use a non-animal sweetener!

Breakfast Coconut Rice

Adapted from Coconut Lover’s Cookbook by Bruce Fife

  • One rice cooker cup of brown rice (it’s really around 3/4C)
  • Water up to the 2 line of your cooker
  • 1/2C shredded coconut 
  • 2T raisins 
  • 2T honey (or vegan sweetener)
  • 1/4t ground cardamom
  • 1t ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1T chia seeds
  • 1t vanilla extract 
  • 1T coconut oil
  • Coconut milk (I used canned full fat)
  • Slivered almonds 

Combine rice, water, coconut, raisins, honey, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, chia seeds, vanilla, and coconut oil in rice cooker. Set on cook. (I have an Aroma Simply Stainless.) When done, scoop some into a bowl and pour coconut milk over. Add almonds. This makes about two servings. 

You could also make this in a pot on the stove; just make the rice as usual, but with the raisins, etc. added in. I am awful at making stovetop rice so the rice cooker is my best friend. 

Week 5: Thai Chicken Curry & 3-Packet Pot Roast 

Both of these are from, you guessed it, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, by Stephanie O’Dea. The Thai curry needed a lot more salt and spice than called for, so I changed that here. 

I’d make both of these again, particularly the pot roast. Holy crap, that was good. 

Thai Chicken Curry 

  • 1 (14oz.) can coconut milk
  • 3T soy sauce
  • 1T brown sugar 
  • 3T Thai green curry paste 
  • 1T fish sauce 
  • Grated ginger, to taste 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped 
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped 
  • 10 mushrooms, chopped 
  • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine sauce ingredients (through garlic) in crockpot. Taste and add more curry paste if you think it needs it. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat. Add veggies on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if you want. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with lime wedges and cilantro on cooked rice. 

3-Packet Pot Roast 

Note: normally I wouldn’t even call this a recipe, but it was so good that I had to share. 

  • 1 (3-4lb.) chuck roast, trimmed
  • 1 packet salad dressing mix (I used Good Seasons Balsamic Vinaigrette mix)
  • 1 packet Italian salad dressing mix (again, Good Seasons to the rescue)
  • 1 packet McCormick Grill Mates Peppercorn & Garlic (note: I couldn’t find this for the life of me, so I used 2T of McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb that comes in a little bottle)
  • 3C water

Place roast in crockpot. Combine seasonings and sprinkle on all sides of meat. Add 1C water. It won’t look like enough and you’ll think, “Well, shit, this isn’t right,” but stop that self-doubt and trust me. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. 

A half hour before you want to eat, add 2C warm water to the crock and raise temperature to high. The meat only needs 1C of water to cook, but you will die of sodium poisoning if you try to eat it like that. Adding two more cups of water makes a super tasty gravy that was perfectly salty. 

Serve over mashed potatoes.