Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Shish Taouk (Lebanese Chicken Kabobs)

These are some of the tastiest chicken kabobs you'll ever make. It takes a bit of time, many great ingredients, and lots of garlic, but when you make and eat these, you'll always want more! Serve these with Naan or pita and some traditional Middle Eastern side-dishes if you'd like. I suggest you make a cucumber yogurt sauce and a little spicy Zhoug Sauce.

1/2 cup 0% fat Greek yogurt (Fage is best)
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp double-strength tomato paste
6-8 large garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp Za'atar seasoning (if you can't find that use sumac)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (about 2- 2 1/2 pounds)

Combine marinade until smooth. Place chicken in a large glass dish. Combine chicken with the marinade until well covered. Cover dish and refrigerate. Marinade anywhere from 2-8 hours. I find that about 3-4 hours is good.

Place chicken on metal skewers with no space between the chicken. This should make about 8 skewers or more. If you don't have metal skewers, use bamboo ones that have been soaked in water for about 15 minutes.

Grill on high heat for 10-15 minutes, turning to char all sides. Chicken should be tender and well done. This is a very tenderizing marinade, so it should be fall apart tender and not dry.

Serve hot with grilled veggies like peppers zucchini, and onions. Serve with cucumber, tomatoes, hummus or whatever you like. It also is good on top of a bed of rice or couscous.

Leftovers are delicious too!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Harissa Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds (about 4) sweet potatoes (I used organic Garnet)
2 heaping tablespoons harissa (I used Trader Joe's brand)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Juice from a half lemon

Cut sweet potatoes into chunks about an 3/4-1 inch with peel (you can also peel them if you prefer). Place in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and harissa and mix well so each chunk is coated well.

Spray a large baking dish with a 1 inch height with cooling spray (I use pampered chef stoneware). Place sweet potatoes in a single layer on pan and generously salt and pepper the tops.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes, flipping potatoes at least once. Potatoes should be brown and crispy, but not burned and soft in the inside when done.

Squeeze juice over the top of the potatoes and enjoy.

These are spicy, so use less harissa if you don't care for spice. The harissa mixed with the sweetness of the potatoes makes these a tasty balanced side dish with just about anything. I've made them with burgers, chicken, and they would be delicious with lamb (if you like lamb).

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Creamy Low-fat Poppy Seed Dressing

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used full-fat, but 0% fat will lower the calories)
3 Tbsp water
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp poppy seeds
pinch salt

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Might need up to 1 Tbsp water to make it thin enough. Add more sweetener if you like it a bit more sweet or a little more vinegar if you like it tangy.

Makes a great dressing for spinach, strawberry salad. Very light and refreshing.

Makes about 1 cup of dressing.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Chopped Cabbage and Kale Salad

6 cups chopped green cabbage
3 cups packed, de-stemmed and chopped kale
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper to taste

Combine cabbage, kale, red bell pepper, walnuts, dried cherries, and feta cheese in a  large salad bowl.

In a small bowl,  whisk oil, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. Might need to add a little more oil if you have a large lemon. If you like it a little sweeter, add some maple syrup or honey.

Combine dressing with cabbage and toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mexican Street Corn Salad with Yogurt-Lime Dressing

4 cobs of sweet corn
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup crumbled Mexican cheese (such as cotija or queso fresco), divided

5 oz zero fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp Hellman's mayonnaise
1 small clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp smokey paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees and place corn in oven with husks on. Roast about 20 minutes or until corn is soft, but still firm. Cool corn while you chop the ingredients for the rest of the salad. Cut corn off husks and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice and salt and pepper. Add the red bell pepper, onion, black beans, cilantro and 3/4 cup of the Mexican cheese.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Taste to adjust seasoning. If you want it more spicy, add additional cayenne pepper - if less spicy is your thing, don't add it at all.

Gently toss all of the salad ingredients together, pouring the dressing on top to incorporate. Top with 1/4 cup of additional cheese and refrigerate until ready to serve. This salad gets better as it blends and I like it cold, but it can be served at room temperature right away.

Eat as a side dish with enchiladas or tacos or just dig in and eat it as a "dip" with tortilla chips. This stuff is addicting!

NOTE: You can grill the corn, slightly charring it instead of roasting it in the oven. This will give the corn a smokey flavor and it will be a bit crispy.

NOTE: If you can't find Mexican cheese, you can substitute Feta cheese instead. Mexican cheese is much milder and has less salty flavor.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fire-roasted tomato, black bean, sweet potato and chicken stew

The smokey flavor of the paprika and the heat from the cayenne pepper and green chilies makes this meal a perfect balance to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. I highly recommend you use the deep orange sweet potatoes as they are much sweeter. I think you could leave the skins on the potatoes if you use organic ones. This meal comes together so quickly and is great for those times when you need to make something early in the day and reheat it for dinner. This is comfort food at its best!

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 heaping Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
16-24 oz low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles (Trader Joe's brand is great)
4 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes, about 1/2 inch dice - about 2 medium (use Garnet if available as they are sweeter)
3 cups shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken) or about 2 cooked chicken breasts shredded
1 large handful of chopped parsley
2 cups of cooked rice or quinoa

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown onion until soft and caramelized. Add paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and stir well allowing the scent of the spice to come out. It's important to use smoked paprika for this recipe as it gives the entire dish a smokey flavor.

Add the broth, beans, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then add your sweet potatoes and simmer until tender, but not mushy. If stew is too thin, mash a few of the sweet potatoes and simmer longer. If it's too thick, add more chicken broth. Add the shredded chicken and parsley and heat until chicken is hot and stew is boiling.

Meanwhile cook quinoa or rice. You can serve stew without the grain, but it tastes great over quinoa. You can add the cooked rice to the stew if you'd like, but don't cook the grains in the stew as it will become too thick.

This stew takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish. It's an excellent meal to make for the entire family and can be reheated later or a day later. It's a quick and easy meal for those colder nights when you want something hearty and tasty. This recipe is 100% gluten-free and tastes amazing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Beer cheese soup with roasted cauliflower and crispy bacon

It was a cold January day....it was my sister Dru’s 62nd birthday to be precise. She was in Florida and I was in Indiana. She was warm, I was cold and in need of a warm bowl of soup to go with the homemade pretzels I just baked. My son, Joshua, wanted beer cheese dip for the pretzels, but I wanted to make dinner. So, I set out to make beer cheese soup. But I had a head of cauliflower in my fridge just waiting to be used and five strips of thick cut bacon from Trader Joe’s dying to be eaten. So, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little. It doesn’t really matter because in the end, I came up with this concoction and it turned out pretty tasty.

6 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
6 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. lager beer (I used Corona), don’t used a light beer
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
20 oz. (4 1/2 cups) shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
5 strips extra thick smoked bacon
1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with foil. Lay strips of bacon in a single layer and place on top rack of the oven. Bake until bacon is crisp and brown, but not burnt. This can take 15 to 20 minutes. While this is baking, prep your soup ingredients and wash and cut up the cauliflower. When bacon is done, remove from pan and drain on paper towels and set aside.

In a large stockpot, melt butter. Add onion and jalapeño and cook on medium heat until onion and pepper are very soft and slightly brown. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds so as not to burn. Add flour to make a thick paste, stirring constantly so as not to burn. Add the cayenne and black peppers.

Slowly pour in the beer, it will foam, but stir in the flour mixture until you have a thick slurry. Add the milk, broth, and mustard. Stir well and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring to keep it from burning. It may be foamy, but it will eventually settle down.

Meanwhile, place cauliflower on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (we like it with a generous amount of black pepper). Roast in the 400 degree oven, stirring once, for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is brown and tender, but not burnt.

Cut up or crumble bacon and place into a serving dish. Place roasted cauliflower in another serving dish. Remove soup from burner and stir in the shredded cheese until melted and totally incorporated into the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve soup in deep bowls, topping it with a scoop of cauliflower and a spoonful of bacon. You can also sprinkle a little extra cheese on top and optionally add a sprinkle of fresh diced chives if you have them.

Serve with bread or freshly-made pretzels.