Kale Apple Pomegranate Salad

KaleSalad

The crunch of the apples. Creaminess of the feta cheese. Tartness of the pomegranate. The textures within this salad complement each other very nicely and make for easy substitutions.

Recently, when I’ve been looking for healthy recipes I have two goals in mind:

1) easy prep

2) visually appealing 

This kale apple pomegranate salad hit both- it was easy to make in less than 20 minutes and is a work of art. Pair it with protein like shrimp or salmon, or even quinoa and you can make this salad as meal prep for the upcoming week. Whip up stress-free salad as the perfect finishing touch to your dining table!

Did you know? Kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange!!

Kale Apple Pomegranate Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette 

    • 5 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salad

    • 1 bunch of kale (about ½ lb, leaves thinly chopped, stems removed)
    • 1 large apple, thinly sliced
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • ¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
    • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
    • seeds from one pomegranate
    • ½ cup feta cheese (2 ounces)

Directions

  1. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the kale and toss to coat.
  2. Rub the apple slices with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Toss the kale with the pecans, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate seeds. Crumble the feta cheese over the salad and arrange the apple slices along the edges.

Tips:

-Add grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp for more variety 

-If preparing the salad for meal prep, make the vinaigrette on the side and put in little containers. 

-If you don’t have pecans, swap it for walnuts or almonds

-Kale is relatively inexpensive (I bought a bunch of kale for $0.98, or for easier prep you can buy a bag of shredded kale)

-Try to find a block of feta cheese as it is more flavorful compared to the pre-crumbled kinds. Other types of cheese like blue cheese can be substituted. 

KaleSalad2

 

 

 

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Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Couscous

moroccancouscous1.jpg

After making my trip to the grocery store to get everything for this recipe, I had all the ingredients except one. Of course. It had to be the couscous that I just could not find. I made my way to an ethnic grocery store in hopes that they would carry the pearl couscous I was looking for. No luck. Third try was the charm. Without it, I don’t think this dish would have tasted quite the same. Persistence and motivation has never tasted so good!

This one pot Moroccan Spiced Chicken Couscous is a savory, flavor packed dish perfect for meal planning and it only takes 15 minutes to prep. The other hour is where you just wait for it to finish and can take care of other errands during that time!

Couscous Fun Fact:

-Couscous is a sugar free and fat free semolina wheat staple popular in North African cuisine. It is surprisingly not a whole grain like brown rice or bulgur. While similar to pasta, it is made from crushed semolina wheat while pasta is more refined and made from ground wheat.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken Couscous

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Moroccan spice blend (recipe below)
  • 1 ½ pounds of chicken breasts, skinless
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 ounces canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 14 ounces fire roasted tomatoes (1 can)
  • 1 cup pearl couscous, dry
  • 1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped

Moroccan Spice Blend

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Mix together the spice ingredients. Season the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons of the spice blend.
  2. In a dutch oven or oven safe pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and sear each side until golden, for about 2 minutes. Set the chicken aside on a plate.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the dutch oven and saute for about 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the rest of the spice blend and mix.
  4. Mix in the chickpeas, chicken broth, fire roasted tomatoes, couscous. Stir in the kale. Heat up to a boil and then add the chicken breasts on top.
  5. Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven. Bake it for 30 minutes covered then uncover the pot. Bake for an additional 30 minutes uncovered.

Tips:

-If you don’t have pearl couscous, you can also try making this with quinoa

-You can add sautéed almonds after it is done cooking for some extra crunch

-Raisins, chopped apricots, or chopped prunes can be added in step 4 for some sweetness

-Chicken with skin can be used for extra flavor

Recipe adapted from JoCooks

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

I recently went to a local Indian restaurant that opened up in town where I ended up ordering Chicken Tikka Masala which came with some basmati rice and naan. It turned out to be a little on the sweet side and the naan was an embarrassment- a thin and small piece of pita bread that supposedly passed for naan. No pictures survived the incident haha. If I ever go back, I’ll have to order another dish to see if another menu item will be able to redeem themselves.

A few weeks later, I decided to recreate the meal and take a shot at making homemade naan too. The meal was a success. The Tikka Masala was rich and silky with an acceptable spice level. The creamy tomato sauce was perfect for scooping up with naan. Sooo the naan. The joy I felt was indescribable after seeing the naan rise on my cast iron pan and that first fluffy soft bite sealed the deal. The best part about it was that I was able to use it in other dishes even breakfast. The naan recipe will be coming soon so keep posted this weekend!

Chicken TikkaChicken Tikka Masala

Printable Recipe Here

Servings: 2

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

For the Tikka Masala Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients: the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Mix in the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for an hour. If you are patient or have some extra time, you can refrigerate it for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Cook the chicken on a grill or in an oven or pan and set aside. I used an indoor grill and it took about 15-20 minutes to cook it because of the heavy marinade. Timing will vary based on the size of cuts and cooking method.
  3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the onions and garlic until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Season with the  garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and paprika. Stir to combine and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce and heavy cream. Simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens over low heat. Add cooked chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice and chopped cilantro.

Tips

-If you do not have garam masala I suggest checking the ethnic foods aisle at your grocery store or going to your local Indian grocery store. I ended up making my own garam masala and I found it to be a good substitute for me. Recipe can be found here. You can click on the serving size and change it to 5  otherwise you will have some extra garam masala.

-One of the key parts to making a sauce is taste, taste, taste! Always taste it after adding spices and adjust it to your own liking.

-Double the recipe for a larger serving size since this recipe is only for two. Be careful with spices though because the ratio does not apply to them. Best option would be to add spices slowly and taste as you go.

Chicken Tikka

Asian Shrimp Salad

Asian Shrimp SaladThe new dish of this week is: Asian Shrimp Salad with a Creamy Peanut Dressing! On the side is a Japanese Hokkaido Milk Roll (recipe coming soon for those). I decided to cook with seafood this week and got a bag of jumbo frozen shrimp and some ahi tuna steaks. I used the jumbo shrimp first and made a delicious salad with them. I was a little doubtful about how the peanut sauce would turn out because I’ve never made a dressing like that but I actually loved it and look forward to making it again in the future. The peanut taste is not too strong due to the variety of sauces and honey that you add to it. This dish would also look great in a mason jar- if you wanted a quick to-go lunch for work or school.

I first added the chopsticks as a prop just for the picture, but I ended up eating with them and it made for a complete experience. You’d think that lettuce leaves would be hard to pick up with chopsticks, but it was easy and worked out nicely. The cilantro-lime shrimp balances out the peanut dressing and the lime juice drizzled over the salad adds the perfect hint of acidity. Enjoy this dish and add your own special twist to it!

Asian Shrimp Salad w/ Creamy Peanut Dressing

Serves: 2

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

-For The Cilantro-Lime Shrimp

  • 1 lb tail-on jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

-For The Peanut Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

-For the Salad

  • 3 cups mixed leafy greens
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Other optional additions: sesame seeds, cashews, bean sprouts, sliced onion

Directions

  1. If frozen, place the shrimp in a colander or sieve and thaw by running cold water over them for about 5 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt, black pepper, and chili powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet and add in the garlic. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes and then stir in the shrimp.
  3. After 2 minutes, add in the cilantro, butter, and lime juice. The shrimp will be done when they turn pink and opaque and you no longer see any grey. Keep in mind that if using smaller shrimp, they will cook faster.
  4. Remove the shrimp from heat and prepare the creamy peanut butter dressing.
  5. To make the dressing, mix together all the ingredients until smooth and incorporated.
  6. Add the leafy greens to a bowl and top with the shrimp and optional sliced mango and diced avocado. Drizzle the dressing and lime juice over the salad and serve.

Adapted from Rasamalaysia and FoodsofOurLives

Tips

-Jumbo shrimp means that a 1 pound bag will have 16-20 shrimp. Choose another size based on your preference but keep in mind that the cooking time will change. Be sure not to overcook the shrimp as they cook rather quickly, 4-5 minutes for the jumbo shrimp and less if they are smaller.

-If you don’t live near water, I would suggest not to buy “fresh” shrimp because it would have already been frozen and thawed at least once. In this case, it’s better to buy frozen shrimp and thaw it yourself.

-What type of shrimp to buy? Wild is better than farmed as majority (94%) of our farmed shrimp supply comes from India, Indonesia, and Thailand and these suppliers are not regulated in the antibiotics/harmful chemicals that they add (prohibited in the US). If buying farmed US shrimp, make sure it says no antibiotics on the package.

-Have fun with the salad. I made it with mango/avocado because that’s what I had on hand at the time. Other nice additions could be red bell peppers for that nice pop of color or even bean sprouts for that slight crunch.

-You can also blend the peanut dressing instead of mixing it with a fork. Mix it quickly and you will notice the texture of the dressing change as it all starts to combine and take on a smooth texture.

Nutritional Content of Shrimp

-low in fat and carbohydrates

-low in calories (7 calories per shrimp) and high in protein (3 grams per shrimp)

-contain selenium, B12, and phosphorus

-have antioxidants- selenium (fights damaging particles) and astaxanthin (color pigment in shrimp that reduces inflammation)

Asian Shrimp Salad

 

What twists on the everyday salad have you made?

Long Grain Rice with Chickpeas & Meat

Chickpeasandrice

I will be experimenting with a new style that I’ll be featuring on my blog more frequently in addition to all of the baking recipes that I have up, which will include meal planning along with portion sizing to vary recipes to your liking. You really appreciate something once it is gone from you and for me that has been: time. We always think about how wonderful our day would be if we only had that one extra hour, minute, etc. In reality, we can earn that time back with effective time management and that is where cooking comes in. Anything as simple as using one pot to create a dish translates to a few more minutes saved from scrubbing dishes.

Long Grain Rice with Chickpeas & Meat

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup of canned chickpeas
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 & 1/4 cups of water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube

Directions

  1. Mince the garlic and add it to a medium saucepan along with the olive oil. Cook it over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Toss in the cumin, cinnamon, and coriander and stir for about a minute.
  3. Add the diced onion and sauté it for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  4. Stir in the ground beef until it is evenly browned and no longer pink. Add in the chickpeas to the meat.
  5. Add the rice to the saucepan and stir for about a minute.
  6. Dissolve the bouillon cube in hot water and pour  the water into the saucepan
  7. Cover the saucepan with a lid and turn up the heat to medium-high until the water is boiling.
  8. Once it starts to boil, put the heat on low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat off and let it rest for about 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing it with a fork.

Tips:

  • You can also use 1 pound of meat with the whole can of chickpeas and save half of that for another dish (possibly mixing it with pasta) or even freeze that half and use the remaining meat mixture for the rice
  • This recipe can be modified to your liking- if you do not like chickpeas then that can be taken out easily
  • Check out this link for some more ideas of what to do with leftover chickpeas

Chickpeasandrice

Any quick meal ideas that you recommend?

 

 

 

Comfort Classics: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of broccoli cheddar soup to indulge in. It goes great when eaten with bread and even better paired with nothing other than a homemade bread bowl. I first had this delicious dish at Panera Bread and learned how to make it soon after, because nothing beats fresh ingredients. I’ve also tried it at McAllister’s, yet theirs lacked the rich creaminess I had gotten used to and reminded me how much I loved this original and home cooked recipe. In restaurants, we are always limited to one bowl and if we crave another, then we would have to buy it again. If only soup was served like drinks, with free refills. On the other hand, at home, you can gladly pour yourself another bowl of this creamy deliciousness with nothing stopping you. You are limitless.

Homemade bread bowls compliment this soup like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For a quick and easy recipe that is hard to resist, check out my previous post on how to make the perfect bread bowl!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • 4 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 8 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: French bread, baguette, bread bowls

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onions and cook until softer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the flour and stir frequently for about 3 minutes using a wooden spoon or a whisk. It will start to thicken and look clumpy as the butter absorbs the flour.
  4. Gradually add the heavy cream, whisking constantly, until smooth before each addition.
  5. Stir in the chicken broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat so that it can simmer for about 20 minutes. You will notice it start to thicken.
  7. Add in the chopped broccoli and carrots. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Discard the bay leaves.
  8. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender or standing blender to puree the soup to your liking.
  9. Add in the shredded cheese and mix until melted and incorporated.

Tips:

*For quicker results you can use frozen broccoli and carrots. I always recommend fresh ingredients if the time permits for maximum flavor potential

*If desired, a healthier version can be made by subbing the heavy cream for low fat/fat free milk.

*Doubling this recipe ensures leftovers for the next day, so definitely something to ponder over

*Test taste the soup throughout the process and add more spices and seasoning if you see fitted

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Pileup of Ingredients

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Along the Way

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Enjoy!

 

 

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Only the world’s oldest prepared cuisine, curry, has created quite the title for itself. It’s not exactly a term you can grasp. With a flavor-packed punch of spices and aroma, it is generally a meat, seafood, or veggie dish that is served in a sauce.  It can even be made freshly using 5 to 30 whole spices that are ground and mixed together. Trust me, you will never run out of options. 660 Curries by Raghaven Iyer, only serves to prove a delicious complexity that this dish can offer.

Every country has put its own twist on curry making it all the more unique. The motherland that curry can call home is India of course. Each region in India from North to Southeast also has its own speciality curry so it will be difficult to run out of curry combinations to try while traveling. Even the UK adopted curry as a favorite through its colonial past in India and since then has celebrated its fame with National Curry Week. Japan later acquired the taste by imitating the British Navy and today serves kare raisu (curry with rice and pickled veggies). Other curries can be identified by their colors as seen with the Thai-based ones (green, red, yellow, gold) and other Thai curries are paired with coconut milk as seen in this recipe, leading to a less spicy version of what can be a fiery dish.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

The easiness yet complexity of flavors in this dish instantly attracted me. Why not learn a recipe that you can whip up quickly for last-minute prep? Just keep a few cans of coconut milk in the pantry and a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer for these interventions if needed. The other ingredients are usually pantry basics with the exceptions of the curry spices. It may seem like a lot to buy if this is your first time using turmeric or curry powder, but they will become spice essentials as you will be able to use them in a variety of other dishes in the future (only a wise investment!). I highly recommend doubling this recipe, because you will go for those seconds and then crave them the next day for lunch too. Read below for the recipe and detailed step by step prep!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Serves:6

Printable Recipe Here

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Shrimp Marinade

  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp

Coconut Curry

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small can (5.5 ounce) coconut milk
  • chopped cilantro/parsley for garnish
  • 1 cup of cooked rice for serving

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, toss the marinade ingredients along with the shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the coconut curry.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized dutch oven or saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat, until it begins to soften.
  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger, coriander, salt, curry powder, black pepper, and turmeric and cook for another 2 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the tomatoes along with their juices and cook for about 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk and wait for it to boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp along with the marinade juices and cook for another 5 minutes, until the shrimp are pink. Be careful not to overcook it as the shrimp will turn rubbery.

Adapted from JoCooks

Tips

*Do not throw your unthawed shrimp straight into the saucepan as they will cook unevenly. Thaw them by running a gentle stream of cold water over them for a few minutes.

*When doubling this recipe, you can actually just buy a 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk if you do not find the smaller cans. Do not worry about making specific measurements such as 11 ounces and save yourself the trouble by just using the whole can. It will taste just as great and even better!

*Doubling this recipe is wonderful especially if you want an easy flavor-packed lunch for the next day.

Step By Step Pictures (I doubled this recipe in my pictures below)

Coconut Shrimp Curry

I doubled my recipe so I used 2 pounds of frozen shrimp. I left cold water running over them for about 5 minutes and that was sufficient to thaw them.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

After thawing the shrimp, I added the marinade ingredients (salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice) here. You could use bottled lemon juice for ease, but I squeezed one lemon for an additional freshness factor.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Next, I chopped up a medium sized onion. You can also put it in a mini food processor to chop it up quicker.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Sautee the chopped onions for 3 minutes until they are softened.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Add the crazy mix of spices and cook for another 2 minutes. The onions will start to look more translucent at this point.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Only the last line up of characters that will complete this satisfying dish!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Mix in the whole can of diced tomatoes along with the coconut milk and stir.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Add in the marinated shrimp and cook for only 5 minutes, no more or they will turn rubbery! If you have raw fresh shrimp, then a general rule is that the shrimp will be done cooking when it turns pinkish. As well, you do not want straight shrimp, as that means that they are undercooked. When they curl up in a C shape as in the picture above, that is another good indicator that they are ready.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

All mixed up and ready to serve!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

But wait…

Coconut Shrimp Curry

A bit of parsley (or cilantro) will top it off with the perfect pop of green so chop up a small stalk for some garnish.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Fine dining simply at its best!

 

What are your favorite recipes with curry powder?