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I was pretty indecisive about dinner tonight. At first I was going to do go for some chili, but I have been eating a lot of mexican type food lately. So I did a little investigating online and went to one of my fav food blogs, www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com. I was thinking I needed a little chicken curry in my life, and sure enough I found some inspiration on Gluten Free Goddess: chicken tropicale — an amazing mixture of chicken, pineapple, coconut milk, veggies, and curry. Sure enough it didn’t disappoint. The recipe uses a slow cooker, but I just cooked everything in a pot on the stove.

Ingredients:
 
A dab of olive oil, as needed
4 split happy free-range organic chicken breasts
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
1 Bermuda red onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 zucchini squash, cut into half moons
1 large red pepper, cored, cut into chunks
1 15-oz can pineapple chunks with juice
2 cups organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoons curry- mild or hot, to taste* (I used red curry)
1-2 teaspoons paprika (I’d love to try smoked paprika)
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 teaspoons organic brown sugar, or raw organic agave nectarLater:

1 14-oz can coconut milk
1/2 cup sliced black olives
Juice from 1 large, or two small, limes

To serve:

2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked rice
Silvered almonds, if desired

Directions:

Drizzle a touch of olive oil in the bottom of the pot.
Add onions and garlic.
Sautee a few minutes.
Add the onion, garlic, red pepper, and pineapple chunks with juice.
Add the broth, spices, and brown sugar or agave.
Add chopped cooked chicken.
Let boil and simmer for half an hour. A few minutes before serving, add the coconut milk, sliced olives, and lime juice; stir a bit.
Serve- with all the broth- over hot cooked brown rice.
Serves 4.
 
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I feel like I eat pretty healthily most of the time, but I have always had a weak spot for Starbucks — specifically Caramel Macchiatos and Frappuccinos. At one point in college I had a Frappuccino nearly everyday. Sometimes that was my “lunch”. I’m not proud of it, but I’m just saying…. Now I have somewhat healthier eating habits but sometimes I still can’t resist that sweet, rich, chocolate-y, whipped cream deliciousness that is a Frappuccino. Imagine my excitement when I saw that Starbucks is bringing back the Mocha Coconut Frappucino. OMG is that thing good.  Apparently they haven’t made it since 2002 and customers are asking them to bring it back. Chocoalte and coconut just go so well together. Check out this Starbucks bloggity blog about the long awaited beverage: http://blogs.starbucks.com/blogs/customer/archive/2011/04/04/welcome-back-mocha-coconut-and-coconut-cr-232-me-frappuccino-174-blended-beverages.aspx

Oh, and if you like Frappuccinos and live in the Portland area, you might want to check out Jim and Patty’s on NE Fremont. They are the founders of coffee people and their frappe drinks are the best I’ve had!

May 1 brought with it the nicest day of the year. I spent the day lounging in the sun in shorts and actually remembered to put on sunscreen. It was the first day my knee scar had seen the light of day. Hello world!

I of course had to welcome the sun with a flavorful recipe — nothing other than pineapple pilaf and firecracker red beans. And yes, both recipes were from Molly Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven. Her recipes have the most amazing, unique flavors that meld together to take your taste buds on an adventure. It sounds kinda corny but it’s true.

 Here is the Spiced Pineapple Pilaf recipe:

2 tb Butter
2 ts Mustard seed
1-1/2 tb Minced ginger; fresh
1-1/2 tb Minced garlic; fresh
1-1/4 ts Salt
1/2 ts Turmeric
1/4 ts Allspice
1/4 ts Nutmeg
20 oz Crushed pineapple in juice;
-canned
2 cups uncooked basmatic rice
3 tb Cider vinegar; or rice
-vinegar, (3 to 4 tbs)
Cayenne pepper; for the top

Begin by cooking the rice. Prepare the spiced pineapple while the rice is cooking. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and ginger, and cook over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, turmeric, allspice and nutmeg and saute for about 1 more minute, or until the garlic is just about to turn golden. Add 1-1/2 cups of the pineapple (including its juice) and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Transfer this mixture to the cooked rice, add the vinegar and remaiing salt, mix everything in well. The rice is ready to serve at this point, but it tastes even better if heated through with the seasonings mixed in. Just cover the pan tightly with foil and place in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm, topped with remaininng pineapple and a fine dusting of cayenne.

This was a beautiful shade of yellow and I couldn’t believe how colorful it was.

The other part of the meal was Firecracker Red Beans. Also, amazing and unique flavor.

Here’s what you need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

• 3 cups minced onion

• 2 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot

• 2 teaspoons fennel seeds

• 2 tablespoons minced garlic

• 1/2 teaspoon allspice

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme

• 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

• 1 cup dry sherry or vermouth

• 2 tablespoons prepared mustard (I used dry mustard)

• 1/4 cup ketchup (1 used tomato paste instead)

• 1 teaspoon minced chipotle chilies, plus more to taste

• 2 cups water

• 1/4 cup almond butter

• 2 tablespoons brown sugar

• 2/3 cup boiling water

About 6 cups cooked small red beans and/or kidney beans (three or four 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven. When it is really hot, add the onion, ginger and fennel seeds, and saute over strong heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, and add the garlic, allspice, thyme and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat.

Stir in the sherry or vermouth, mustard, ketchup, minced chipotle and 2 cups water. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Place the almond butter and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the 2/3 cup boiling water, and mash with a spoon until the mixture becomes uniform. Stir this mixture into the sauce, and cook uncovered over low heat for about 5 minutes.

You can leave sauce as it is if you like it textured, but if you like it smooth, transfer to a blender and puree. (I kept it textured)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the beans in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (or an equivalent casserole) and pour in all the sauce. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, still tightly covered, so the beans can continue to absorb the liquid.

Whew….. That was a long post. Hope you can get through it all. If you can, trust me it’s worth it. Tomorrow I’m heading up to P-town for physical therapy and to drop off my hefty work sample I taught last term for my student teaching. I hope it goes ok!

Stay tuned

So it seems that I have taken a respite from posting on my blog. I actually did make a pretty amazing meal on Wednesday but never blogged about it. So I’ll recap it for you now.  This recipe was inspired my Molly Katzen’s rice noodles with cashew coconut sauce. I ❤ cashews and coconut milk, so I knew I had to give it a try. I don’t normally cook a lot of pasta, but I’ve been craving Thai-style noodles lately, so I knew I had to give it a try.

Rice Noodles with Cashew Coconut Sauce — adapted from Molly Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven with a little extra SNS (Shattered Not Shaken) flava’.

Serves 4 to 6

1 14-oz. can coconut milk (I used full fat, which was sooooo rich and creamy)

1/2 c. water

6 slices fresh ginger (1/4-in. thick) (I grated the ginger)

2 T. fresh lime juice

a few shakes of red pepper flakes

6 large cloves garlic, peeled

1 t. ground coriander seeds

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 T. fresh mint leaves

1 t. salt

1 T. sugar or honey

1 c. toasted cashews

12 oz. uncooked rice noodles

3 green onions, finely minced

added veggies – I used — 1 zucchini, 1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 2 cups cabbage, one carrot

3 pieces of frozen Trader Joe’s chicken breast, cooked

tofu – fried in oil and coated with tapioca flour and garlic powder

Combine the coconut milk and water in a medium saucepan. Add ginger, garlic, lime juice, chilies, coriander, cilantro, mint, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil.

Lower heat to low and simmer for ten minutes. Take off the heat and add sugar or honey. At this point, you can let the sauce steep for a few hours or overnight, or you can proceed with the recipe right away. I let it set for about three hours.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a measuring cup with spout. Press all of the liquid out of the solid ingredients. Discard solids and remove sieve.

Place the sauce with 1/2 of the cashews in a blender and puree until smooth.

With the other half, toast with grated coconut for a delicious topping!

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain the noodles.

In a wok, add olive oil, veggies, and chicken, and cook on high for a few minutes. Add the sauce, noodles, and tofu and cook another minute.

Serve!

I didn’t really eat baked beans growing up, so I used to think the idea of beans with sugar in them was gross. But over the last few years, I’ve definitely sweetened up to the idea. (Attempt at a pun, haha). Tonight, with a little inspiration from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” I attempted to make my own baked beans for the first time. I did end up altering the recipe because it didn’t include sugar and upon tasting it, it just wasn’t sweet enough.

Here is the recipe, should you choose to try it…

2 medium onions

olive oil

1/4 cup tomato paste

5-6 cups cooked pinto beans (1 used dried beans cooked in a crock pot)

3 tablespoons dry mustard

1/4 cup molasses

a little bit of Worcestershire sauce 

1/3-1/2 cup of brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 deg. F. Cook the onions in oil in a pot over the stove on medium heat for about 7-8 minutes. Add tomato paste. Let cook for a minute and then add 6 cups of water. Add remaining ingredients, then put them in a casserole dish in the oven, covered. Cook for two hours then check flavors and adjust accordingly. Take off the lid and cook at 400 degree F for another half hour.

Then serve it up! So delicious.

I served this with Trader Joes sausages with homemade buns (my mom made them!)

Before dinner I did part of a Dave Farmar yoga podcast. I haven’t done one of those in a while, but they used to really kick my booty. I took it easy and only did the poses I knew I could handle.

http://www.davefarmar.com/podcasts.php

Trust me, they are awesome! After about 35 minutes I couldn’t handle another chaturunga.

I never disliked bridges. I didn’t exactly love them, but at the end of yoga class, when we moved into bridge pose, it was kind of a relief. The end was near. Savasana awaited.

But with my right leg still gaining strength, one-legged bridges, which my physical therapist prescribed to me, are like hell. With all the weight on my left leg I can handle it. But I nearly crumble during each set of five that I have to do on my right leg. I know it’s worth it. But bleeeeehhhh.

For those who don’t know what a one-legged bridge is, tinajuanfitness.info has the scoop.

Single Leg Bridge

This exercise firms and strengthens the buttocks and hamstrings (back of the thighs).

Exercise:

1. Lie down with one leg bent, foot flat on the floor, the other leg straight.
2. Tighten abdominals and lift straight leg an inch or two off the floor. The bent leg will now carry your body weight.
3. Push hips up by pressing hard on the floor with the foot of the bent leg, and by squeezing the buttocks and back of the thighs. Do not lift the straight leg but allow it to be pulled up together with the hips.
4. Hold for eight slow counts. Breathe continuously.
5. Slowly lower to the floor. Repeat with the other leg.

Gettin’ corny

It seems like this blog has been more about cooking than anything else, but that’s just what I’ve been into lately. Tonight I made some amazing corn chowdah’. It was another recipe from www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com. I had never tried it before but it was so delish I can’t even tell you! I didn’t have any green chiles, so I subbed in some cayenne powder and used frozen corn in place of fresh corn (not really the season for that). I served it with cornbread, southern greens, and salad. I am soooo full right now! The coconut milk made the chowder extra creamy.

Here is the recipe:

Roasted Corn Chowder with Chicken & Cilantro

 
If corn is in season use fresh ears of corn- if not- roast thawed frozen kernels on a baking sheet.1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry or chili powder or paste, mild or hot, to taste
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 ears of corn, roasted, kernels removed
1 large sweet potato, peeled, diced
1 14-oz can Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
1 cup seeded, chopped fresh heirloom tomatoes- I used yellow and pink
4 oz. chopped roasted green chiles
1 quart vegetable broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk or plain hemp milk
2 rounded cups cooked chicken pieces
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
A quick drizzle of organic raw agave, to tasteTo serve:
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Fresh lime juice from 2 limes

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and stir in the cumin and curry or chili powder; cook for one minute to infuse the oil with spice. Add the chopped garlic and onion. Stir and cook for five minutes. Add the roasted corn, sweet potato, canned fire roasted tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, green chiles; stir for a minute. Add in the broth. Cover and bring to a high simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about twenty minutes or so. Add the coconut milk and cooked chicken pieces. Stir and season with sea salt and ground pepper; and add a drizzle of organic raw agave to taste. Heat through gently- please don’t boil it. Just before serving, add the chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. Stir. Taste test. Adjust seasoning. Note: The lime juice brightens the taste and accents the spice. Agave cools the hotness.

Garnish with a lime wedge and pass out the spoons. Slurp! Serves 6-8.

This chowder works well cooked slowly in a Crock Pot; add the coconut milk and cooked chicken 30 minutes before serving and heat through. Add the lime juice and cilantro just before serving.