Category Archives: Healthy Meals

Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto”

veggie risotto blog

This past weekend was filled with a few more meals eaten out than usual. Meals of the slim-on-vegetables variety. While I enjoyed what I ate, I was ready for lighter fare. I opted to break out my brown rice, and load it up with all the fresh spring vegetables I could find. Which, after my Saturday trip to the farmer’s market, was quite a lot. I’m notorious for buying every pretty thing I see at the market, and then wondering how in the world I will manage to eat it all before it goes bad.

I don’t cook with brown rice all that often. I like it – especially short-grain – but frankly, I often feel like the 40-45 minute cook time is too long. Which is funny, because honestly, making dinner usually takes me at least that long, once you factor in the dishes I am doing beforehand (from our lunches taken to work) and all. If I simply throw the rice on the stove to cook first thing, then tend to the dishes and the rest of the prep for this dish, it honestly doesn’t take any “extra time” at all. Dinner still happened at “normal” time. It was well worth it.

I mean, check out that result. The brown rice is nutty and slightly chewy, and holds up perfectly to this ”risotto” style dish. With a ton of vegetables, and just a splash of cream to tie it together, it’s light and flavorful, and fresh, and plenty filling enough to be considered a main dish if you choose. And while it does have some dairy, it’s easily made dairy-free and/or vegan with a few simple swaps.

So go ahead – go gangbusters at the farmer’s market! Throw caution to the wind! Grab all the fresh green veggies that catch your eye. Throw them all together in this risotto, and you’ll be sure they’ll be enjoyed, rather than ending up sad and forgotten in the crisper. You won’t be sorry.

Print Recipe

Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto” (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

2 1/4 c stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 c short-grain brown rice

2 T butter or olive oil

4 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered (or cut into eighths if they are large)

1 green onion, minced

1 small head green garlic, minced (can use 2 cloves of regular garlic if you don’t have green garlic)

1 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 c white wine

8 oz asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch lengths

8 oz frozen peas, thawed

1 c chopped fresh kale (I used Red Russian, but you can use any variety)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T butter or olive oil

1 T cream (can use almond, soy, or coconut milk for vegan)

2-3 T shaved parmesan (omit for vegan)

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add rice and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add butter/olive and allow to heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add the green onion, garlic, and thyme leaves and sauté an additional minute or until fragrant. Add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. Add the asparagus, peas, and kale and sauté for a minute or until the asparagus is bright green and heated through.

Add the rice and stir in, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Finally, stir in the butter/olive oil and cream. Serve, topped with parmesan and fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

 

Grilled Yellow Summer Squash with Sweet Basil and Feta

grilled yellow squash 2

Last Saturday, in case you missed my flurry of posts about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in The Home Depot’s Dallas Garden Party.

It was a great event for people new to gardening, grilling, or just wanting to get some additional tips and tricks to make their garden-to-table experience more successful. Mary Katherine Green of the Gardenieres was there, showing gardeners how to pot fresh herbs and answering all your garden questions.

Cassie Freeman of Hi Sugar Plum was hosting, and talked to all sorts of people, helping them through the party, decorating pots, taking photos, and learning. There were representatives from Southern Living that showed amazing decorating tips (I need them to come to my house and show me a few things!), someone from Fiskars showing some cool garden tools, and an expert helping me (and interested grillers) understand all the details of the Weber grill.

collage garden party

After all, I was using it to teach many happy eaters learn how to grill with their garden vegetables and herbs as they nibbled on samples of Chicken Yakatori, Grilled Carrots, and my recipe I developed just for this event – Grilled Yellow Squash with Basil and Feta.

garden collage

It was a fun event filled with activity, and I had the opportunity to interact with some wonderful people. The caterers that executed the dishes, including mine, were talented and made me look amazing. I was most thankful for them.

An added bonus? I found out last week that I was to be taped in an interview with Jocelyn White of Designing DFW for an upcoming episode to air in May! So before the Garden Party, we talked about my recipe and the event. It’s my first TV experience, and I can’t wait to see it air. It was exciting and a bit nerve-wracking all at once!

I loved developing the recipe for this event. I’ve been more than ready to break out my grill all winter, and have already shared a grilled asparagus dish. And the summer isn’t even here yet, folks! The grill will certainly be earning its keep around here this season. It’s just so simple for me to grill many of our meals. There’s fewer dishes, it’s fast, and the flavor created by grilling is pretty awesome.

Here in the coming months, summer squash and zucchini will be everywhere. Gardens will be overrun. People will be making casseroles and breads galore. This is a simple, fresh, easy way to prepare squash that’s a little different than the norm. A few ingredients are whisked together to make a vinaigrette. The squash is tossed in the dressing, grilled, and then topped with basil and feta. The combination of flavors is an awesome mix of freshness from the basil, that lovely grill factor, a bit of tang from the mustard and lemon, and a salty note from the feta. It’s literally something you can cook in about 5 minutes, but can wow your guests. Even if those guests are just a few hungry teenagers or your spouse.

Print Recipe

Grilled Yellow Summer Squash with Sweet Basil and Feta, created for The Home Depot Garden Party (gluten-free)

 

4 small-to-medium sized yellow summer squash

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh sweet basil

 

Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

To make the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Slice the squash lengthwise in half, and then lengthwise in half again. Place the slices of squash in the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.

Remove squash from the dressing and grill over direct heat for a minute or two on each side or until grill marks appear and until the squash is just tender.

Remove and place on a plate. Drizzle remaining dressing over the squash. Season with additional salt and pepper as necessary, and sprinkle with feta and chopped basil.

Serve immediately.

 

Serves 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Asparagus with Feta, Almonds and Basil

grilled asparagus blog

Sometimes, you need something that really brings the spring feeling to your plate. For me, asparagus is that “something”. Asparagus means winter is over. That the green things are growing again, and that I can expand my fresh vegetable intake beyond root vegetables, winter squash and cabbage. The beginning of spring vegetables, to me, is the greatest time, because it speaks of all the delicious, fresh things to come.

Now, I feel somewhat guilty saying this, but I’m ready for the winter to be over. It’s been cold even down here in Texas (and I certainly know that it doesn’t even compare to what those of you in the north have endured!), and for longer than usual. I’m embracing spring. I’m ready for rain, thunderstorms, and green, growing things. For now, I’ve temporarily forgotten that with springtime comes our barrage of gigantic Texas insects, followed by all-too-warm temperatures. Come August, when it’s 100 degrees for days on end here, I’ll be wishing for the cold once again. But right now, I’m ready for the warmth.

So in order to encourage spring to come along, I grabbed some asparagus and uncovered my grill. It’s finally light enough in the evening that I can grill without needing a flashlight. (Come on, tell me I’m not the only one that’s done that!) Truth be told, I love grilling. It’s quick and easy, and there’s one less dish to wash when you’re done. It also imparts a lovely flavor to just about anything.

In this case, a brief visit to the grill makes this asparagus tender and full of flavor. Toss it with some lemon juice, almonds, feta (omit for dairy-free/vegan), and basil, and suddenly, you’ve taken an already-fresh flavor and completely kicked it up a few notches. It’s bright, fresh, and definitely is that “something” that brings spring to your table.

It really only takes a few minutes to make, and is totally worth every moment. I enjoyed this as a side dish on a mundane weeknight, but it’s certainly dressy enough for company, or even for a holiday dinner – Easter or Passover Seder (served with a vegetarian main or fish dish), perhaps?

Print Recipe

Grilled Asparagus with Feta, Almonds and Basil (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

2 t extra virgin olive oil

1 t lemon zest

1 t lemon juice

1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T crumbled feta cheese (omit for dairy-free/vegan)

2 T sliced almonds

1 T chopped fresh basil

Preheat grill to medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour over the asparagus, and season with salt and pepper.

When grill is hot, place asparagus in a single layer over direct heat on the grill. Close the lid and grill for a minute or two, and move so that the other side of the asparagus spears touch the grill. Continue to grill just until tender (the time may vary depending on the thickness of your spears and heat of the grill). Remove immediately. Toss asparagus spears with feta, almonds, and fresh basil and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Oven-Baked Chicken Taquitos

baked chicken flautas

I’ve mentioned before that one of our go-to meals is a simple roasted chicken (spatchcocked) with a few simple vegetables on the side. Of course, it’s just the two of us most nights, and we generally have leftover chicken after this meal. Often I’ll throw it on top of a green salad for lunch or dinner the following day. Sometimes, however, a little creativity ekes out, and I come up with something different to make with my leftovers.

This time around, it was chicken taquitos.

Traditionally, taquitos are rolled corn tortillas filled with meat and/or cheese and deep-fried. While I do deep-fry on the rare occasion, it’s a bit of a mess and not something I’d like to tackle on a weeknight. These, however, are totally do-able, don’t make a huge mess, and are lighter to boot. You simply mix together shredded, cooked chicken, spices, and cheese (dairy-free if you prefer), and roll it up in tortillas. Place them on a baking sheet, spritz a little olive oil over, and bake. Whip up a big bowl of guacamole while they’re baking, and you’re set. (Guacamole totally counts as a vegetable, by the way, so it’s a well-balanced meal. Personally, I think I eat enough of it to count as two vegetable servings. Go me!)

They’re definitely kid-friendly to boot, as they’re a great finger food. You can even customize them to your liking. Have leftover beef or pork instead? Use it. Want more spice? Why not add more chili powder, or even a little cayenne? It’s totally up to you. I imagine even adding beans would be tasty. All I know is, this is a recipe we will use time and again. I hope you will too.

Print Recipe

Oven-Baked Chicken Taquitos (gluten-free, dairy-free option)

3-4 c shredded cooked chicken

1 t ground cumin

1 t ground chili powder

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t garlic powder

1/4 t onion powder

1 c shredded cheese (I prefer Monterey Jack or Cheddar) or non-dairy cheese (such as Daiya)

12-16 corn tortillas

Olive oil or cooking spray (I prefer using olive oil in my Misto)

Guacamole and salsa to serve

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, spices, and cheese.

Place the corn tortillas on a plate and cover with damp paper towels. Microwave for 30 seconds, and then rearrange the tortillas so that the bottom ones are on top, the top on bottom, the inside ones moved toward the outside of the stack, and so on. Heat again for 30 seconds, covered again with the damp paper towels. Continue this until they are warm but not hot. This will make the tortillas more pliable and less prone to cracking when you roll them.

Place 3-4 tablespoons of the chicken filling in the center of a tortilla and rill up tightly. Place seam-side-down on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.

Spray the tortillas with olive oil (or lightly brush on) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp.

Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Serves about 4.

 

 

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms, Plus Videos For Veggie Success!

roasted balsamic mushrooms

You’ve made a decision. You want to eat more vegetables. But after eating salads for a few weeks, you’re sick and tired of the same old thing. You want to try a new vegetable, so you browse the produce aisle, and you grab something different. Some spinach. Cabbage. Maybe Brussels sprouts, or some crimini mushrooms. You’ve told yourself “I’m going to cook this!” and you put it in your basket. It goes home with you, and you stick it in the crisper drawer in the fridge.

And there it sits. And sits.

Aaaaand sits.

See, you had the best of intentions. You really did. But that new vegetable? Frankly, it’s intimidating. Outside of the norm. You just don’t know what to do with it! So it remains in the fridge, alone and forgotten, until it has turned into a mushy, slimy mess in its cellophane bag. After a time, you guiltily throw it away, and resolve to do better next time.

Sound familiar? An alternate version of the story involves you browsing the produce aisle, but feeling so overwhelmed by the intimidation (“I don’t know how to cook any of this stuff!”) that you ultimately come home with a baking potato and a bag of salad for the third week in a row.

I’ve been there. I understand. When we’ve already expended so much energy throughout the day focusing on getting kids ready for school, working, dealing with emergencies, ungrateful bosses, traffic, and less-than-ideal weather, we just can’t deal with the “new vegetable” thing. Even if our heart is in the right place.

It just seems so…hard.

That was the premise for the recent string of YouTube videos I’ve been sharing lately. Because I know that for many of us, cooking from scratch alone is uncharted territory, and even if we know how to make a few things, we are often hesitant or just don’t have the energy to do something that seems daunting. A new vegetable, or any food, really, often seems daunting! I’m hoping that through these videos, that we can together change that thought process. Because honestly, a vegetable shouldn’t be so scary, right?

Each of these videos (feel free to browse around and subscribe to my YouTube channel) showcases a simple way to prepare a fresh vegetable using very few ingredients, and 5 minutes of preparation time, max. The videos aren’t super-fancy; my kitchen isn’t perfect and I’m often in comfortable clothes. It’s not perfectly polished. My dogs make cameo appearances sometimes, as they’re often hoping I’ll drop something tasty on the floor. Moral of the story is: This stuff is totally down-to-earth and doable. Even at the end of a long day. I promise!

This week, I’m sharing one of my favorite ways to make roasted mushrooms. These mushrooms I’ve shared before a few years ago, but I come back to them time and again. After all, they’re easy. You can toss mushrooms with some herbs and garlic, and when you’re ready, throw them in the oven. Then, 20 minutes later, you take them out. The end. Finito. That’s all you have to do.

But in case you don’t believe me, you can watch the video and see for yourself.

See? That’s not so bad, right? Ready to make them for yourself? Here’s the recipe!

Print Recipe

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms (gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, sugar-free)

1 lb fresh crimini mushrooms

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 t fresh thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ c fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Toss the mushrooms with the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast until the mushrooms are juicy – about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and toss with the parsley while still warm.

(hint: to streamline your meal, you can prepare this recipe up to the point where you would put it in the oven, and instead refrigerate for a few hours. Then, when it’s time, just pop in the oven as directed.)

Serves 4.

 

 

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

sauteed spinach

Looking for a quick-and-easy way to get something green on your plate for dinner tonight?

How about spinach?

Gone are those days, when I was growing up, where Mom would open a can of spinach, and we would eat it, pretending we would grow big and strong just like Popeye. I can’t even remember the last time I ate canned spinach, honestly. It’s been a long time. I much prefer fresh when I can get it, frozen when I can’t. It’s a taste preference – canned seems mushy and salty to me nowadays.

Cooking from fresh, however, doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. With just a few ingredients and less than 5 minutes, you can have delicious sautéed spinach with garlic that is a million times tastier than the canned variety. The fresh flavors of the spinach and garlic really shine, and the spinach is tender and bright.

Want to see just how easy it is? Check out my simple instructional video – and while you’re at it, subscribe to my YouTube channel to see even more easy veggie ideas.

So while your main dish is roasting in the oven, pull out a skillet and sauté some spinach! You’ll be happy you did.

Print Recipe

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

1 T coconut oil (or oil of choice – olive oil or butter works well here)

1 clove garlic, minced

8 oz spinach leaves, rinsed well and drained (let any residual water cling to the leaves), torn into smallish pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, swirling around to coat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add spinach leaves and stir to coat. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for a minute or two, or until leaves have turned bright green and have just started to wilt. Remove the lid and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 2-4.

Adventures in Curry-Making, or How to Make a Disaster of Your Kitchen

beef curry

So there I was, this past Monday night, with lofty goals of making a beef curry. I’d prepared the curry paste the day before to save time, and I grabbed my pressure cooker. The recipe I was using as a guideline (it’s rare that I actually follow a recipe – I tend to make a lot of changes along the way) suggested I would be braising my beef shanks for 2 1/2 hours. Since this was a weeknight, I figured a 45 minute stay in the pressure cooker would do the trick nicely.

And so it began. I browned the beef, and placed it in the pressure cooker along with a generous helping of coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, and cilantro. Things were smelling good, and I was salivating at the idea of such a flavorful curry that would be gracing our plates in about an hour. I get really excited about curries of all kinds. There is just something so wonderful about an intense mix of spices and flavors that, when simmered for a bit, they really get to know one another and emerge as more than the sum of their parts. It’s comforting and soul-satisfying, and it’s why I have several recipes hanging around this blog, such as this Kerala-style Curry or this Shrimp Cauliflower Curry. A good curry sends me to my happy place.

Well, my (older generation, super-simple) pressure cooker began to heat and spit some steam, so I lowered the temperature a bit. I then set to chopping cauliflower for a side dish in my “prep area” towards the right of the stove. About 10 minutes had passed, and that’s when it happened.

Suddenly, the pressure cooker exploded with a loud “BOOM”, and shot off to my left, across the floor. I squealed. And then just stared, motionless, at the disaster in front of me. My husband (who was in our living room), moments later, asks me. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” I mutter, dumbfounded. So he asks again, worry in his voice. “Baby, are you okay?”

“Yes. I’m fine.” I say, rather flatly, given the situation. I was in a bit of shock. ”It exploded.”

The mess was horrendous. There was coconut milk on every surface to the left of where I’d been standing – on the cabinets, on the counter, on the stove (on the burner, smoking a bit and turning black, thanks to the sugar), on the floor, on the walls, and even on the cabinets and the books on top of the cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen from the stove. The smell of fish sauce permeated the air. By some miracle, I had none on me at all. Later on, I would realize that I was rather lucky. That pressure cooker could have flown in my direction and bruised or burned me, or worse.

I quickly picked up the pressure cooker and set it back on the stove, with the beef and about half of the sauce still inside. My husband joined me, and we started cleaning. It was about then that I started to realize just how absurd the whole fiasco was. I laughed at it. Laughed at the coconut milk under the cabinets, laughed at how disgusting the floor was, giggled at the cilantro stuck to the wall inside my combination laundry room/pantry at the end of our kitchen (a good 12 feet away, at least), and joked about how we’d be finding this mess for months. Any other night, an event of this magnitude might have brought me to tears, but in that moment, it was pretty darn funny, and laughing was all I could do. It took us about an hour to get the kitchen back to some semblance of order. I mopped twice, and came back home the following day to mop again so I could get rid of the film left by the coconut milk.

Needless to say, we didn’t have curry that night.

However, I did manage to salvage that beef and remaining sauce. I stuck it in my smaller, 4-quart slow cooker and stuck it in the fridge. In spite of all that happened, I still wanted curry. Also, I detest throwing away food. So the following night, I asked my husband to take the slow cooker out of the fridge and turn it on high for a few hours when he got home. (He’s typically home an hour or two before I arrive.) I was going to resume this curry-making, for better or worse.

Thankfully, it was worth the trouble. Well, maybe not worth the trouble of the whole pressure-cooker-explosion thing, but it was worth salvaging the meat for another night. The slow cooker finished the braising job beautifully, and with a relatively quick finish in my skillet, we had a deliciously spicy, silky beef curry. There are a few things I’d do differently, if I was to make this again (and I’ll share those notes in the recipe below), but we were both more than satisfied, with happy, full bellies and that sense of calmness and peace that accompanies a good curry. It was a tad salty (even though I reduced the fish sauce), and of course, due to the explosion factor, the amount of liquids actually used in the cooking process are approximated. So this is definitely not a perfected recipe at this point, but I felt I had to share with you, if for the story alone! But all in all, it was worthy of seconds by my husband, so I declare it a winner.

Now, the next question is: Does anyone have a good (safe) pressure cooker recommendation? One requirement – it must not explode.

Print Recipe

Spicy Beef Curry, adapted from Bon Appetit - this is what I did, but I am giving you notes to adjust for better flavor next time.

Spice Mix:

3 whole cloves

1 1/2 t coriander seeds

1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick

1 whole star anise

1 t cumin seeds

seeds from 2 green cardamom pods

1 t kosher salt (I would probably use 1/2 t next time)

1/4 t ground cayenne (I would reduce this to 1/8 teaspoon or omit, as the resulting curry was plenty spicy!)

Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Add cold water to cover, then drain. Place spices in large wok or skillet. Dry-roast over medium heat until dry and fragrant, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to spice grinder. Add salt and cayenne; grind to fine powder.

Curry Paste:

10 small chiles de arbol, stemmed

about 25 cilantro stems

1 c chopped yellow onion

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 piece of ginger (about 1 1/2 inches long), thinly sliced

1 1/2 T grated lemongrass

Place chiles in small saucepan; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Combine cilantro stems, onion, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass in large skillet. Add 3/4 cup water. Cover skillet and cook until ginger is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Scrape vegetable mixture into a small food processor. Add drained red chiles. Blend, adding enough reserved chile soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls to form smooth paste. Stir in spice mix. If you are making this the day before, transfer to bowl, cover, and chill.

For the beef:

3 T coconut oil, divided

2 1/2 lbs cross-cut beef shanks (each about 1 1/2-2 inches thick)

2 cans coconut milk (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

2 cups beef or chicken stock (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

About 25 cilantro stems

3/4 c fish sauce (I would use 1/2 cup and increase the stock next time – or if using a slow cooker, I’d use 1/4 cup)

1/3 c coconut palm sugar (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

1 1/2 T grated lemongrass (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

1/4 c fresh orange juice

1/4 c chopped roasted cashews

1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large skillet (if transferring to slow cooker) or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the beef with salt and pepper. Brown the beef, searing until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer beef to plate. Add the coconut milk, cilantro, fish sauce, coconut palm sugar, and lemongrass into the slow cooker or Dutch oven. If using a slow cooker, add the beef and turn on high for about 3-3 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender and pulling away from the bone. If using a Dutch oven, bring the liquids to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and add the beef. Cover and allow to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender and pulling away from the bone.

Transfer beef to a plate to cool. Strain braising liquid using a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in the Dutch oven or a large skillet over medium heat. Add the curry paste. Stir until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved braising liquid and bring to a boil. Add the orange juice and beef. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is silky and clinging to the beef. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve beef curry with steamed long-grain rice, such as Basmati, garnished with chopped cashews and cilantro.

Serves 6.

    Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts

    pan seared brussels sprouts

    A few weeks back, I shared in the Eating the Food group that I was having pan-seared Brussels Sprouts along with some eggs for breakfast. This started a conversation not only about Brussels Sprouts (and their deliciousness, of course) but also about getting more vegetables into your breakfast. I must confess: I don’t always get veggies in first thing in the morning. I do enjoy them (especially with eggs), but it just doesn’t always happen. Of course, that realization got me thinking and inspired this post about getting more vegetables into your day.

    So I’ve been motivated once more to be sure I’m giving vegetables their due. While I have no issues in the spring and summer, when I go to the farmer’s market and come home with more vegetables than any normal human can possibly consume in a week, (What can I say? They all look SO GOOD and I get starry-eyed and have to bring them all home with me.) winter-time makes vegetable consumption more difficult. This is when I focus on those veggies that are longer storage varieties, such as root vegetables, winter squash, cabbage, and of course, Brussels Sprouts, so they still taste fresh. I also try my hardest to make these veggies easy to make, so I’ll be more likely to consume them even on busy weeknights.

    Pan-searing is one such way to accomplish that “easy-to-make” goal. It only takes a few minutes and really highlights the natural sweetness of the Brussels Sprouts, thanks to the caramelization that happens in the pan. They’re delicious alongside meatloaf and mashed potatoes, pork chops, or even with eggs at breakfast. Even if you’ve previously shunned Brussels Sprouts, I encourage you to revisit them with this method. You might just find them not only tolerable, but they could become your new favorite veggie!

    For step-by-step instruction, check out my “how-to” video on YouTube for these Brussels Sprouts (and feel free to subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode!):

    Print Recipe

    Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

    1 1/2 T coconut oil

    1 lb Brussels Sprouts, sliced roughly into 1/4 inch thick slices

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium heat. Add coconut oil and allow to melt and coat pan. Spread out sliced Brussels Sprouts into a single layer in the skillet. Allow to sear without moving for about a minute, or until the sprouts start to brown. Stir around to flip the sprouts and brown the other side for another minute or so. Continue to stir every so often, spreading the sprouts back out, until they are browned on edges and just tender throughout. (Total cooking time is about 5 minutes.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Serves 4.

    Roasted Rosemary Carrots

    roasted carrots with rosemary

    I’ve got another super-easy vegetable solution for you this week, complete with a super-easy video showing you just now super-easy it is to make.

    Doesn’t that sound super-GREAT?

    Okay, maybe I’m getting a tad over-excited. After all, we’re talking about carrots here, right? But these carrots, in my opinion, are worth getting excited about. They take only a few minutes to prepare, and after a little time hanging out in the oven, they emerge with caramelized edges and sweet, carrot-y goodness that can please any palate. Who wouldn’t get excited about that?

    Check out the video (and feel free to subscribe, so you can be notified as soon as I post new videos to YouTube). You’ll even get to see my dogs and their affinity for carrots. They tend to always be nearby if I am cutting up carrots – it’s by far their favorite vegetable.

    Print Recipe

    Roasted Rosemary Carrots (gluten-free, vegan)

    5-6 large carrots, peeled if desired

    1 T rosemary needles, chopped

    1/4 – 1/2 t kosher salt, or to taste

    1 1/2 – 2 T coconut oil

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces (I cut mine about 3/4 inch thick). Toss carrots with rosemary, salt, and coconut oil until evenly coated. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

    Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning over about halfway through the baking time, until the carrots are browned and tender. Remove from oven and serve.

    Serves 2-3.

    Fish Tacos with Southwestern Cabbage Slaw

    fish tacos

    I casually mentioned on Facebook the other day about a “foodie” related resolution I was making for this year – getting more comfortable with cooking seafood. You see, living in landlocked Dallas means seafood is often more expensive, meaning I have historically tended towards land animals for our protein sources. But not all of seafood is prohibitively expensive. There’s some reasonably-priced seafood around, especially the varieties local to the Gulf coast. There are also reasonably priced wild-caught options that are flash frozen. It’s not always optimal, but I can still make some good dishes with frozen seafood.

    So therefore, I am making it my mission to learn to cook many more seafood varieties over the next year. I’ll be attempting to make something at least once a week. They might not always show up here, but I’ll definitely share if there are winners! One such winner? These super-easy fish tacos.

    I found some flash-frozen wild-caught cod on sale. While this kind of purchase isn’t usually excellent for a dish where the fillet needs to be beautiful, they’re perfect for tacos, where the shape and size of the fish isn’t all that important. And with a bit of seasoning, a quick visit in the cast iron skillet, and topped with a simple cabbage slaw, these tacos make for a healthy, easy dinner. The cod, pan-fried in coconut oil, has pleasing little crispy edges that compliment the crunchy, slightly spicy slaw. Corn tortillas make the perfect delivery vehicle, and are a simple, naturally gluten-free option. From start to finish, these tacos can be ready in 30 minutes or less. Best part? They definitely won the husband “seal of approval”. There were no leftovers.

    Also, I’ve made my first “how-to” video, just for you! In an attempt to hopefully give you more insight into the goings-on of my kitchen (and to demonstrate just how easy this recipe truly is), I’m sharing with you some instructions on how to make the slaw for these tacos. I hope you’ll agree that once you see just how little time it takes to whip up, you’ll be sure to add it to your menu. I hope to provide even more simple videos in the future. Stay tuned!

    Without further adieu, here’s the video.

    And the written recipe!

    Print Recipe

    Fish Tacos with Southwestern Cabbage Slaw (gluten-free, dairy-free)

    1 lb cod fillets

    1 t kosher salt

    1/2 t each chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder

    2-3 T coconut oil

    8 corn tortillas, warmed (I like to toast them in a dry skillet)

    Sour cream (dairy-free or regular) and/or avocados, if desired, for topping

    Southwestern Cabbage Slaw, recipe below

    Pat the cod fillets very dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the salt and spices. Season the cod fillets with the spice blend.

    In a cast iron skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the cod fillets, 2-3 minutes per side, until browned and crispy on the edges and cooked through. Remove and allow to sit on a paper towel-lined plate.

    To make tacos, break apart fillets into a few pieces and place pieces in each corn tortilla. Top with sour cream or avocado if desired. Top with cabbage slaw and serve.

    Serves 2-3.

    simple slaw

    Southwestern Cabbage Slaw (gluten-free, vegan)

    2 c shredded or thinly sliced cabbage

    1 large carrot, peeled and julienned (I like to use my julienne peeler for ease)

    5 green onions, sliced thinly

    3 T chopped fresh cilantro

    1 T finely chopped jalapeno

    1 T lemon juice

    1 T olive oil

    Salt and pepper to taste

    In a large bowl, add the cabbage, carrot, green onions, and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together the chopped jalapeno, lemon juice, olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve or use for fish tacos.