Monday, April 8, 2013

I've moved!

Check out my blog at its new address!

Hope to see you there :)

I'll be keeping this blog up for a little while, but not forever. All my old posts are available on my new website :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

Buffalo chicken has to be one of my favorite foods ever.... and of course it's one of my boyfriend's favorites! I love it in pretty much any incarnation, whether it be the classic buffalo chicken wings, or a twist on the classic, such as a topping on a pizza, inside egg rolls, in potato skins, etc. If it has buffalo chicken in the title, it can pretty much be guaranteed that I'll try it.  When this recipe popped up on Smells Like Home a month ago, I immediately put it at the top of my "make after this detox" list. Ron was all for it because even though it's a healthy salad, buffalo chicken makes everything exciting!

The buffalo chicken in this recipe is baked, which cuts the guilt down even further. It's breaded in a toasted panko breadcrumb coating, and baked on a wire rack, which ensures that the chicken will stay crispy, rather than soggy.  The creamy avocado ranch dressing is a perfect accompaniment to the salad, although if you wanted, you could certainly serve it with a regular ranch or blue cheese dressing. I will most definitely be making this regularly. Ron has already requested a repeat of this meal, and I will be fulfilling that request soon.

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Serves 2-4 (Depending on how hungry you are!)

1 recipe buffalo chicken (recipe follows)
Avocado ranch dressing (recipe follows)
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Blue, feta or cheddar cheese
Crumbled bacon(optional)
Scallions or red onions (optional)
Celery (optional)

1. Assemble individual salads. Place buffalo chicken on top. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Buffalo Chicken
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3 large egg whites
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
Cooking spray
1 lb chicken tenderloins ( or boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4-inch strips
1 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot Original)
3 Tbsp salted butter

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and place a wire rack on the sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add canola oil and breadcrumbs. Toss together and stir until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a shallow dish or pie plate when toasted.
3. In a second dish or pie plate, stir together the flour, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper, if using. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.
4. To prepare chicken, dredge each piece in the flour mixture, then the egg whites, then the breadcrumbs. Place on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet. When all the chicken is coated, spray the tops with nonstick cooking spray. (I highly recommend getting an oil mister- that way you can use your own oil, without all the other ingredients that the cooking spray usually contains.)
5. Place the chicken in the oven and make for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and the coating is golden brown.
6. While the chicken cooks, place the butter and the wing sauce in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments until the butter is melted. Whisk together to combine.
7. When chicken is cooked, dredge each piece carefully in the buffalo sauce to coat.

Avocado Ranch Dressing

1/2 avocado, removed from skin and diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Up to 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 small bunch of chives, or 1 scallion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4 cup buttermilk, chives (or scallions), parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, in a blender. Blend for about 10 seconds. Scrape down side, add more buttermilk if desired to change consistency, and blend until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Smells Like Home

Buffalo Chicken Previously: Buffalo Chicken Melts

Here are some other buffalo chicken recipes from around the web that I'd love to try!
Buffalo Chicken Monkey Bread (Confections of a Foodie Bride)
Buffalo Chicken Bites (Tracey's Culinary Adventures)
Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls (Smells Like Home)
Buffalo Chicken Sliders (Country Cleaver)
30-Minute Buffalo Chicken French Breads (How Sweet It Is)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins

Weekend breakfasts are wonderful! I love taking my time in the kitchen cooking up some bacon and fried eggs, an omelet or the occasional batch of pancakes, but I am always on the hunt for good weekday breakfast recipes. Because I have to be at work at the bright and early hour of 7 AM, I don't have time or energy in the morning for a long leisurely breakfast, and even cooking something quick like eggs turns me off because of the dishes it dirties cooking them. These banana-apple buckwheat muffins are a perfect solution. They can be made a couple of days in advance, they are healthier than regular muffins as they are pretty low in sugar (and the sugar comes from natural sources- honey, banana and apple), and to top it off, they are very tasty! This is my first time cooking with buckwheat flour, but it definitely won't be my last. It's a great source of protein and is naturally gluten-free!

Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins
Makes 4 Muffins

1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 mashed banana
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sweet apple finely diced (honeycrisp or pink lady would work well)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a muffin tin, place 4 baking cups.
2. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt to a bowl and whisk together. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, banana, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Add the apples and walnuts, and fold in.
3. Split the batter between the 4 baking cups. Fill the empty cups with water. (This will help the muffins to bake evenly.)
4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool on a rack.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Here are some other recipes using buckwheat flour that I've come across in my search so far that I'm itching to try:

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake (David Lebovitz)
Vegan and Gluten-Free Vanilla Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes (Oh She Glows)
Yeasted Buckwheat Pancakes (Not Without Salt)
Buckwheat Crepes (Gluten-Free Girl)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Spring really seems to have arrived here in Connecticut! I actually have been able to go outside without a winter coat, and have had to turn on the air conditioner while driving around in my car. I am extremely excited about this development! We have a couple of 40-something degree days this week, but the rest of the 10-day forecast is in the 50's, with a couple of days reaching 60!! I know it's mundane to talk about the weather, but hey, if I'm excited about it, I assume others are too!  Now, this dinner is not spring-like at all, but it is still worth sharing! This is from week 3 of the Whole Living Action Plan (I have one left to share after this before I get back to our regularly scheduled programming).

I love squash! Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, delicata... They are all good to me. This stuffed squash is a really good, hearty way to make squash a main dish. It would be wonderful to have in the fall (or winter, spring or even summer if you want to turn on your oven), and I think it would make a fabulous vegetarian/vegan main dish for Thanksgiving!!

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 2

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/3 cooked white beans
1/3 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup kale, chopped
2 Tbsp toasted* hazelnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, flip squash over, and set aside.
2. While the squash is roasting, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes, until tender. Add the sage, thyme, beans, quinoa and kale to the onion, and cook about 2 minutes, until the kale is wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Stuff each half of the acorn squash with half of the quinoa-bean mixture. Roast about 15-20 minutes, until golden.
4. To serve, top each acorn squash half with 1 Tbsp hazelnuts, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

*To toast hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and roast for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Halibut with Roasted Beets

When I first looked at the title and ingredients in this recipe, I was hesitant. Halibut? Good! Spinach? Good! Beets? Goooood! But together? I wasn't so sure. I've have never thought of beets and seafood going together. I persevered though, as I was determined to try every recipe in this cleanse, and I was having fun trying recipes that I normally would have passed over because they sounded boring, or were something that I knew Ron wouldn't eat. Luckily, this recipe proved to be a winner. The combination of the mild fish, the sweet beets, and the spinach proved to be a really tasty combination! I used cod in place of halibut due to price, but any similar fish would do. I served this over brown rice because I wanted my meal to be a little more substantial, but you could serve it without any accompaniment, or serve it with any other whole grain. I imagine it would go well with quinoa, or farro, or whatever whole grain you happen to have on hand.

Halibut with Roasted Beets
Serves 1

2 cups chopped spinach (or Kale or Swiss Chard)
1/2 cup roasted beets, diced*
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 5-oz skinless halibut filet (or similar fish such as cod, flounder, sole or tilapia)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking dish, toss together the spinach, beets, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Whisk together the mustard and olive oil in a small bowl. Season the fish with salt and pepper, lay the fish on the beets and greens, and spread the mustard mixture on top of the fish. Cover with foil and bake 20-25 min until fish is cooked through.
3. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

*To roast beets, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets in foil. Then roast for about an hour, until tender. Let cool off, and then dice.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa

Another of my favorites from week 2 of the Whole Living Action Plan, these roasted vegetables were so filling and flavorful! Seriously guys, this dish was so good! I love butternut squash and Brussels sprouts already, and roasting them is definitely the way to go, but tossing them with smoked paprika gives the vegetables another amazing layer of flavor. Smoked paprika has to be one of my favorite spices ever, but I don't cook with it nearly enough. The sauce that is mixed with this dish, and then served on top is also a wonderful thing! Who would have thought the combination of tahini, apple cider vinegar and some herbs could be so wonderful. I love all those flavors separately, but I never would have thought to put them together. Definitely a winning dish!

Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa
Serves 2

3 cups butternut squash, diced
2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup cooked Quinoa
2 1/2 cups baby spinach, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and on the baking sheet toss together the butternut squash, olive oil or coconut oil, salt, pepper. and smoked paprika. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown.
2. To make the sauce, add the garlic, tahini, vinegar, olive oil, water, chives, parsley and cilantro to a food processor. Pulse together until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Toss the roasted vegetables, Quinoa and 2 Tbsp of the sauce together in a large bowl.
4. To serve, toss each serving with 1 1/4 cups baby spinach. Drizzle with remaining sauce, to taste.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Smoked Paprika previously: Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Black Bean-Brown Rice Patties

Happy weekend everyone! I hope spring has started well for you all.  It's still quite cold here in CT and it'll be a few weeks more before we actually start feeling any spring-like weather, but for now I'm enjoying the lengthening of days and searching for signs of buds and shoots pushing up from the earth. It looks like we possibly might have snow on Monday, and honesty, that doesn't bother me at all. That's just one of the things I expect from living in New England. The snow this winter has not burnt me out yet! 

These patties are a wonderful light, but hearty meal, that are one of my top contenders for my favorite recipe of the cleanse. I served mine with romaine lettuce drizzled with olive oil and lime juice, with some buttery avocado and cilantro on top. I didn't even miss having a bun for these patties. The only issue was that they were a bit dry, so maybe next time I'd add a little bit more oil, or possibly bake them a bit less.  Regardless of this though, they were fabulous!

Black Bean-Brown Rice Patties

Makes 6 Patties (Serves 2-3)

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cup cooked brown rice (For reference, 1/2 cup uncooked rice will yield about 1 1/2 cups cooked rice)
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp flaxmeal
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add all ingredients to food processor, and pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt.
3. Form 6 patties, about 1-inch thick. Place patties on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake about 20-minutes, until the tops are crisp and golden.

You can serve these plain if you'd like, but they are fabulous with a few extras- some ideas: lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lime.