I could eat poke bowls every day. Few dishes can rival the vibrant pristine nature of a healthy bowl of vegetables and fresh seafood also known as “poke”. Now you may ask “what is poke”? Well, think of it like the chipotle version of sushi, but more sophisticated and with its own price tag of course. Poke is a deconstructed bowl of custom toppings with a base of diced raw fish or other seafood; it may include raw salmon, ahi tuna, or scallops. By the way, it is pronounced “poh-kay” and means “to slice or to cut” in Hawaiian. The origin of poke is likely from Polynesia (islands from Hawaii to New Zealand) and originated with fisherman who ate a seasoned cut piece of their fresh catch of the day.
It is important that any raw fish you buy is “sushi grade”. Now this does not mean that the FDA said it is “ok” to consume raw. The FDA recommends specific freezing conditions for fish that will be consumed raw but this is enforced by the state. So really, when you see the term “sushi grade” it is the seller letting you know that they are confident that it is safe to consume. It is up to you to choose a reputable seller and determine their credibility.
Now this recipe will be what I used for my bowl, but feel free to use it as a base and swap or remove ingredients as you like. Don’t get alarmed by the long list of ingredients. The ideal thing about these dishes is how customizable they are and you can use whatever you have available in your fridge.
- 2 cups of sushi rice
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 6 ounces of fresh crab meat, drained
- 1/2 pound of shrimp, cooked, de-shelled
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 mango, diced
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 1 bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 3 radishes, sliced
- 1 can of sliced beets, drained
- 1 package of seaweed salad
- Garnishes: seaweed strips, fried onions, sesame seeds
Spicy Mayo Sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- Rinse the sushi rice in a strainer until the water is no longer cloudy. Prepare according to package instructions. I added 2 cups of sushi rice with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to the lowest heat for a simmer. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes. Place the rice is a wooden or glass mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and fold through the rice with a spatula or wooden spoon in a cutting motion.
- Mix the seafood with the soy sauce and sesame oil
- Arrange the cooked rice, vegetables, seafood (crab and shrimp), garnishes in each bowl. Mix the sauce ingredients together and put in a ziploc bag. Cut the corner of the bag so that you can drizzle your sauce over your dish. Alternately you can mix your toppings with the sauce prior to placing them on top of the rice.
- Base: typically is sushi rice but can be substituted for salad greens, long grain rice, brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice
- Seafood: you can use raw fish (needs to be sushi grade) or cooked fish, shrimp, crab meat, tuna meat, etc. If you want to forgo the seafood, try tofu as an alternative.
- Toppings: the veggies can be whatever you have on hand at the moment.
- Pre-cooked beets such as canned or frozen beets are easier to use. You can also roast your own beets.
- Optional garnishes include green onions, crispy fried onions or garlic, seaweed strips
During the past few weeks I have been thinking about restarting my blog so here it goes! Residency has been busy, busy, busy but it’s amazing how much I have learned and how much I have yet to learn at the same time. With these new times of social distancing, you really want to minimize the number of trips you make to the grocery store as much as you can. For me, this translates into relying on ingredients I have in the fridge or pantry rather than making multiple trips to the store.
I have numerous recipes that I’ve been waiting to share with y’all and will start with this simple, moist, double chocolate chip banana bread! It is the perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee and will fool anyone into thinking it is chocolate cake. It’s a great way to use up those ripe black bananas you have stashed in your freezer (if you don’t have any, consider starting a habit of putting your old bananas in the freezer instead of throwing them away). These ripe bananas also have a higher content of sugar compared to green bananas (20% vs 1%) which is why they are used in banana bread recipes.
Want a 4 ingredient banana bread? Check out this previous simple Banana Bread recipe!
- Bananas produce ethylene which helps ripen foods so if you have some firm avocados or tomatoes that you want ripened, then place them next to your bananas! (alternately, if you don’t want certain foods to ripen too quickly, keep them in a separate area)
Double Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup bananas, mashed (2 brown/black ripe bananas)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or dark)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F
- Line the loaf pan with parchment paper (alternate option would be to butter the pan and lightly coat with flour OR to use non-stick cooking spray)
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium mixing bowl
- Mash the bananas with a fork in a separate bowl. Mix in the melted butter and brown sugar. Then mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and yogurt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the chocolate chips and lightly stir (do not over mix or your bread will have a tough texture)
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Oven times vary so check on it at 50 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges of the bread from the pan.
- You can enjoy this all at once or can save some to freeze up to a month for later cravings (to freeze- make sure the bread is completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and place in a freezer bag).
- Add extra ingredients as you like- walnuts, dried fruits, etc.
- Plain yogurt can be replaced with sour cream, greek yogurt, or buttermilk
- Butter can be replaced with coconut oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil
- If you don’t have brown sugar, you can replace with coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, white sugar or maple syrup
- If you have a third ripe banana that you really want to use, then go ahead and throw it in the bowl
- For the cocoa powder, if you want extra dark flavor then use the Hershey’s Special Dark 100% Cacao
Burritos! I used to buy burritos from the freezer section in the grocery store, but one day I looked at the nutrition facts and the insane amount of sodium in them made it seem a crime to even think about buying one. To make it worse, when you look at the healthier versions of burritos in the aisle, they run around $3-4 each, which is another issue by itself. The solution: make your own!
This recipe doesn’t take long, and on top of that- you also get a future supply of burritos for those days when you are exhausted from work and need a quick meal, that doesn’t have to be delivered to you and cost an arm and a leg.
This is the basic freezer version- but if you are making it for lunch or dinner, I would also add some cilantro, tomatoes, sour cream, olives, etc. It is not the most photogenic recipe that I’ve posted here, but it will become a staple in your pantry!
A “meatless” aka plant based meat burrito version (above) and a beef burrito (below)
Freezer Beef & Bean Burritos
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 lb ground beef (or plant based meat)
- 7 ounces red enchilada sauce or tomato sauce
- spices: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp smoked paprika powder, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 28 ounces refried beans
- 2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, + extra for toppings
- 18 large tortillas (burrito sized)
- In a large skillet, add the oil, onions, beef and spices. Stir and cook until onions are translucent and the beef is browned. Add the enchilada sauce and simmer over low heat.
- In a separate medium sized pot, add the refried beans and cheese, and heat until the cheese is melted in. Stir to mix together, and keep warm.
- Once finished, spread a 1/4 cup of the beans/cheese mix on the tortilla. Top with about 3/4 cup of the meat sauce. Fold both sides in, and roll the bottom up and over the filling. Roll tightly, keeping the tortilla seam side down, to keep it from opening up.
- Keep a few to enjoy, and for freezing the extras- wrap in freezer paper OR you can wrap in plastic wrap, foil, or parchment paper, and tape up the sides if needed. I usually place all my burritos then in a freezer friendly ziploc bag and label the bag with the date. Remove as much air as you can from the bag.
- To reheat: unwrap your burrito and heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
-try making this recipe with whole wheat tortillas for a healthier version
-based on how much you fill your burritos, you may find that you are able to make more than 15 with this recipe. Range is around 15-20.
-if the tortilla bread is cracking, heat it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds before adding your filling
-try another variation of this recipe for breakfast burritos- with eggs and potato instead
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
- 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
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
-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.
Late nights studying. Early mornings driving to the hospital. Maybe an espresso before you head out. Or not, if you spent too much time steaming your scrubs. Breakfast is usually the last thing on your mind until you hear your stomach rumbling during rounds and wish you had grabbed a banana for a quick bite earlier. A quick filling breakfast is just what you need and unfortunately, many people end up skipping this meal. It turns out, the meal that we pay the least amount of attention to, may be the most important meal of the day. A perfect way to get in your morning nutrients includes making these creamy overnight oats!
Skipping breakfast has been associated with overall lower diet quality, leading to individuals consuming almost half their daily calories from snacks. One study showed that British children under the age of 10 years, ate over half of the daily recommended dose of sugar at breakfast. First off, not only is the act of even eating breakfast important, but the actual content of what you eat is worth paying attention to. This concept is nothing new and a famous nutritionist and author, Adelle Davis, in the 1960s even said “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”.
Trends surrounding breakfast are turning away from the traditional cereals and orange juice and towards convenience foods (sandwiches, protein packs, breakfast bars). This is likely due to more people not eating breakfast at home and more on the go or at work. A survey in 2015 even showed that 40% of millennials didn’t like eating cereal since they had to clean up afterwards (1).
Why Eat a Healthy Breakfast?
- May have a link to decreased risk of heart disease
- Leads to more stable blood sugar control throughout the day
- Improves concentration and memory and for children, performance on exams
- Keeps energy levels up and get essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber
- Less likely to snack throughout the day
Try this overnight oats recipe below to jumpstart your way to a habit of eating breakfast every day! It is one of my go to recipes and I love making variations to it whether it be chocolate based, peanut butter, or even cinnamon apple.
Base Recipe for Overnight Oats
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats!)
- 3/4 cup milk (almond milk, coconut, or regular milk)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Toppings/Mix ins (your choice): handful of fruits (blueberries, strawberries etc), nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds), flax seeds, honey, peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract
- Optional for extra creaminess: 1/4 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)
- Mix all ingredients together in a jar or container. Add your favorite toppings and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours
- Enjoy in the morning for a quick and stress free breakfast option!
-After you have made overnight oats a few times, you will figure out the consistency that works for you. A good rule of thumb to follow is 2:1 for milk:oats if you prefer it more porridge like or 1:1 if you want it a firmer texture.
-Chia seeds absorb liquid so take that into account if not using them! You may realize that you need to adjust the ratios of oats to milk.
-No need to microwave these oats! Grab it out of the fridge and start your day with a no-effort breakfast.
-They will last for a week so you can meal prep and put your overnight oats together on Sundays.
Just after taking one bite from these fluffy biscuits, you would never have even guessed that they were gluten-free! This recipe has less than 4 grams of total carbohydrates and a flaky texture thanks to the eggs and baking powder. Instead of the traditional all-purpose flour, this recipe utilizes almond flour. You can buy this at your local grocery store, or can make your own.
What is Almond Flour?
- It has ONE ingredient which is almonds
- A handful (1 ounce) has 3.5 g fiber, 6 g protein, 14 g fat
- Almond flour is blanched almonds that have been ground and sifted while almond meal is the same concept but with almonds that have the skin on
- Gluten-free for those with celiac disease
What Benefits do Almonds have?
- Good source of vitamin E & magnesium (shown benefits in blood pressure and blood sugars)
- May reduce LDL cholesterol levels
- Loads of antioxidants which are mostly in the brown layer of the skin
- Low glycemic index which means it is absorbed at a slower rate and causes your blood sugars to rise slowly
- Can use it as a replacement for bread crumbs (coating fish, etc)
Low Carb Gluten-Free Biscuits
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups sharp shredded cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 eggs, whisked
Preheat to 350 F
- Prepare a parchment paper lined baking sheet
- Mix all the dry ingredients together including the almond flour, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and shredded cheese
- Add the wet ingredients to your dry mixture
- Mold dough into small balls, creating 8 pieces
- Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and cool on a wire rack
-You can use white cheddar cheese or mozzarella for a different variation on the flavor profile
There are some people who are always on the lookout for a quick and easy meal. One that tastes just as good as the time that was saved. Even better- a recipe that can also be used for meal planning!
The creamy texture of the avocado blends well with the crunchiness of the cucumbers peppered in with the occasional cayenne spiced shrimp. To elevate the experience, consider adding some sliced almonds or feta cheese.
The elements of this salad are very simple (serving size varies based on amount of ingredients):
- Salad greens: spinach leaves, spring mix (neutral), romaine lettuce (crunchy) or try arugula (spicy bite)
- Avocado: diced (Pro tip: you can tell a ripe avocado by removing the nub of the stem; if it is ripe it will be green underneath, if overripe then it will be brown, and if it isn’t ready then the nub wont come off)
- Cucumber: peeled and diced
- Shrimp: 1 pound seasoned with cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, pepper, and tossed in a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice; sauté for about two minutes per side or until pink
- Other options: sliced almonds, raisins, cranberries, figs, feta cheese, black beans, tomatoes
Simply toss all of these ingredients together and drizzle with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper!
**Remember: avocados have more potassium than bananas! Remember that the next time you hear someone say they are low on potassium and need to eat more bananas (which are carb heavy!).
Click here to read about my Asian Inspired Shrimp Salad with a Peanut Sauce for another variation.
Hope you enjoyed today’s simple recipe of the day!
What other quick meal plan ready recipes would you like to see posted on the blog?
A colorful recipe packed with antioxidants and fiber that you can make with one bowl. I love having this quick and easy recipe to make for potluck meals or as a side dish for dinners. This salad goes great with salmon or can be served alongside tortilla chips. With the refreshing summer months approaching us quickly, this will be a great dish to have in your back pocket!
So what kind of nutrients are inside this salad?
- Avocados (not pictured)
- contain vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium and are packed with 2 g of protein, 15 g of health fats (monounsaturated fatty acids similar to that found in olive oil), and 7 grams of fiber
- they have more potassium than bananas!
- contain 95% water
- lots of antioxidants especially lycopene which is mostly found in the tomato peel; lycopene has been linked to lowering cholesterol
- contain vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium
- Black Beans: great source of fiber, protein and folate
- contain vitamin C, folate, and potassium
- colored onions have more antioxidants than white onions and it is the antioxidants that give red onions their color
- the main fiber, fructans, can be used by good bacteria in the gut
Southwestern Black Bean Salad
- one 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- one 15 ounce can corn (or frozen, thawed corn)
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 medium avocados, chopped
- Optional Additions: 2 tbsp cilantro (chopped), 1 bell pepper (chopped), diced jalapeno, quinoa (1/2 cup cooked), garbanzo beans
- Combine black beans, corn, tomato, red onion, and scallion in a large bowl.
- Mix together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder and stir into the salad.
- Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Lightly mix in the chopped avocado before serving.
-Add salt/pepper and chili powder to taste. After you sprinkle a bit, mix the salad and then taste it to see if you need more or not
The search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie seems to be never ending. Some of the best desserts though come with patience, persistence, and motivation. We can thank Ruth Wakefield for creating this national wonder by accident at her Toll House Inn back in the late 1930s.
Making the cookie dough is the effortless and straightforward part. The challenge is waiting 24 to 36 hours while the dough rests in the fridge and you anticipate it’s completion. It’s just like marinating meat where it really makes a difference when you taste the juicy tender cuts. Don’t settle for the ready to bake “instant” cookies found in the refrigerated aisles of grocery stores. Rather, treat yourself to a quality freshly baked homemade dessert. One that you’d probably have to pay an exorbitant price if purchasing from the elite bakery with 1,000+ Yelp reviews around town. Pair your warm, irresistible cookie with some creamy ice cream and take it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness as you bask in the fruits of your efforts. Mind you, this product is far from actual fruits but there is a time and place for everything and occasionally it is the time for you.
Classic NY Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour (8 ½ ounces)
- 1 2/3 cups bread flour (8 ½ ounces)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, room temperature (2 ½ sticks)
- 1 ¼ cups brown sugar, packed (10 ounces)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (8 ounces)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 1 ¼ lb good quality dark chocolate chips/discs (Ghirardelli or Guittard) (3 1/3 cups)
- Sift cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Add in vanilla bean paste and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough just comes together. Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
- Press plastic wrap against the dough covering it completely, and refrigerate for at least 24-36 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Take 3 ½ ounces of dough and roll into a ball (about the size of a golf ball) and place 6 mounds of dough on a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle cookies with fleur de sel or sea salt. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes. Rotate baking tray 180 degrees halfway through.
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then move to a rack to finish cooling. Store in air tight container for up to 3 days or freeze for a few months.
-Highly recommended to sprinkle the cookies with fleur de sel (sea salt) towards the end. It is part of the little touches that will make these cookies different than your average recipe.
-Resting the dough for 36 hours is hard! Most times we want instant cookies but the wait will be worth it. This allows for the gluten in the dough to loosen up and allows for the dough to absorb all the liquid leading to a firmer dough that will cook more evenly.
-Instead of dark chocolate you can split it up with half milk chocolate and half semi sweet chocolate for a different variation.
-If you don’t have cake or bread flour, you can substitute all purpose flour. Bread flour with its higher protein flour allows for a chewier cookie and cake flour with its lower protein flour allows for a softer cookie.
Adapted from NY Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe
This may not be the most photogenic dish but it certainly makes up for that in taste. Salmon is one of my favorite foods but the last 20 times that I’ve made it, I’m pretty sure I made it the exact same way: topped with lemon pepper seasoning and olive oil. Don’t get me wrong, lemon-pepper is quick and easy and tastes delicious even on chicken but I was ready for a change.
I was scrolling through some food blogger posts and came across this recipe on theMDChef that seemed very different compared to previous salmon recipes that I have seen. I’ve never tried making any Libyan foods but this Libyan recipe looked too good to pass up.
Being that salmon is not simply salmon in the grocery store but rather wild caught King or farm raised Atlantic, I decided to do a little more research to make it easier for you (and me) since you don’t want to spend a lifetime navigating through the fine print telling you everything from how the salmon was caught to where it was caught. We are a society that is always looking for answers. Unfortunately, there’s an unresolved debate on whether farmed or wild salmon is better. At the end of the day, it’s salmon and you’re getting the benefits either way just by eating the fish as compared to no fish. Both will be a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice per week. If you have the time, you can check the Seafood Watch site/app and look up the salmon you wish to buy. Wild salmon is considered “healthier” than farmed salmon but it is significantly more expensive.
Pointers when choosing salmon:
- Pick salmon that looks moist and has no brown spots/bruised skin.
- Avoid salmon if it has a “fishy” smell.
- Fresh isn’t always the best. Frozen fish is put on ice right after caught to preserve freshness and can be frozen for 4 months.
- Don’t make a choice based on words like “organic” and “fresh”. There is no FDA certification method for organic fish.
- Two large categories of salmon based on which coast of the US they were caught in
- Pacific: King/Chinook is the Cadillac of fish with a high oil content and lots of flavor, Sockeye comes from cold glacial waters and is known for its deep red color, Chum and Pink are usually used in canned fish, Coho is widely available and lighter in color
- Atlantic = farmed raised
Salmon with Chriameh Sauce
- ½ cup of olive oil (will be divided throughout the recipe)
- 1 lb salmon fillets (or 3-4 pieces)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, freshly ground
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 lemon, cut in 4 wedges
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Optional: tablespoon chopped cilantro (garnish)
- **Serve with rice, couscous, quinoa or other grains for a main meal or can have it as a side dish
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat in a dutch oven or a large pan with a lid
- Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Sear the fish for about 2 minutes on each side until it is lightly browned and cooked halfway. The middle of the fish will still look raw at this point but it will be added to the dutch oven later where it will continue cooking.
- Blend the garlic, paprika, caraway seeds, cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of oil together in a food processor. Add more oil if needed.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the dutch oven and then add the spice paste. Stir and let the spices sizzle for just about 30 seconds.
- Add in the water and tomato paste.
- Allow the sauce to simmer and add in the sugar, lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Place the fish in the sauce and allow to simmer while covered for about 10-11 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, take off the lid, and allow to cool before serving.
- Add a few lemon wedges and cilantro for garnish.
- The cooking time for the fish will vary based on how thick it is.
- If you didn’t have cilantro on hand (like me), use any other fresh greens that you have on hand. I had some fresh thyme which worked well with the dish.
- Other than salmon, white fish like sea bass, tilapia, snapper etc also work for this recipe
What is your favorite variation of salmon?
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
- 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
Preheat: 375 F
- Mix together the spice ingredients. Season the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons of the spice blend.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
-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
After quite the long pause, I’m excited to be back! Studying got the best of me and hopefully with better time management you’ll be seeing more posts here.
We’re in the midst of a fall frenzy once again that just always seems to start and end too early. If you’ve been to World Market then you know that they have all their winter stock already on shelves ready to be sold. I even read an article about people who protest pumpkin spice lattes being sold “too early” and they’ve even started a #stopprematurepumpkinspicing hashtag trend. This is one of my favorite seasons so I try to take advantage and enjoy the pumpkin spice flavored everything- I’ve seen it in cereals, coffee, tortilla chips, salsa, hummus, etc. The best thus far has been the pumpkin spice chocolate covered almonds; so good that I may even have to hunt them down in other stores and stock up!
Ok onto more important topics such as what this blog post is really about- mini pumpkin bread loaves. Personal sized of course and perfect for sharing or storing in the freezer for a later dessert or coffee pairing. These are everything you love about that Starbuck’s pumpkin bread- moist, dense and truly satisfying. They’ll stir up childhood memories or create new ones of sweet autumn spices.
Mini Pumpkin Bread Loaves
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (or homemade recipe- in tips)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 2/3 cups of sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 2 cups canned/homemade pumpkin puree
- optional: pecans, chopped
Maple Syrup Glaze
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat: 350 F
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well incorporated. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and oil together.
- Beat in the flour mixture alternating with the pumpkin puree until just combined.
- Pour the batter in a greased pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.
- While the loaves are cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and maple syrup together. Drizzle over the cooled mini loaves.
-Homemade pumpkin spice mix: 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
-Add more powdered sugar for a thicker glaze or more syrup for a thinner glaze.
Everyone has at least one food obsession- something that you can’t say no to no matter how full you are. For me, it’s bread. Soft, fluffy, and fresh from the oven. While trying to think of words to describe the satisfaction that comes with making this bread, I suddenly had a craving for it. Considering all the ingredients are kitchen staples, making a decision has never been so easy. As I type away now, there is a bowl of dough rising in the corner that will soon become steaming fresh naan.
This flatbread is versatile because you can eat it bare in its simplicity or pair it with some tikka masala or other saucy dish to scoop up the flavors as pictured above. You can also add a spread on it like za’atar (oregano thyme spice blend) with some olive oil and toast it for a few minutes for a fulfilling breakfast or midday snack as shown below.
- 3/4 cup warm water (not hot)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 teaspoons sugar, divided
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will see a thin layer of foam develop.
- Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar together and set aside.
- Add the yogurt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Pour this into the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork initially till most of the flour is incorporated into the dough.
- Knead the dough with your hands for a minute or two forming it into a ball. The dough will be slightly sticky and soft. If you feel that it is too sticky, add flour as needed (I added about an extra 1/4 cup of flour).
- Lightly oil a medium sized bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm area for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Warm a large cast iron pan or a nonstick skillet over medium heat until very hot. Dust a clean surface with flour and separate the dough into 6 pieces. Roll out each piece into an oval shape, taking care to dust the dough with flour so that it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.
- Put the dough into the dry heated skillet and cook until you see the top bubble up, which should take a few minutes. Flip the dough and cook the other side for another minute or two until you see the browned spots.
- Remove the naan from the pan and brush generously with the melted butter on both sides. Place the naan in a towel lined basket or dish to keep it warm.
Adapted from OnceUponAChef
Step By Step Photos
Yeast mixed in with the warm water and sugar, notice how it is starting to foam up
Dough ready to rise in an oiled bowl
After dough is done rising, cut it up into 6 pieces
Roll each piece out into an oval shape to your desired thickness
Place the rolled dough into a heated cast iron or nonstick skillet and you’ll see it bubble up
Flip it over to cook the other side
After a minute or two, flip it and you’ll see these beautiful brown spots
Be creative, eat your naan in its simplicity or spread some za’atar on it
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 Tikka Masala
Printable Recipe Here
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Season with the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and paprika. Stir to combine and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
- 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.
- Serve with rice and chopped cilantro.
-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.
This is one of my guilty favorite meals/snacks/whatever you wanna call it. It is very customizable so you can make it with anything you have laying around in your fridge or pantry. I’ll give a rough breakdown of ways you can develop this dish to make it your own. I’ll also have the recipe I used towards the end if you are the type that needs to have a step by step guide rather than a general outline.
- Tortilla Chips
- I used ground beef, but you can also use sausage, ground turkey, etc (saute some diced onions, mix in the meat, then season the meat to taste with chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper)
- Use your favorite type, I like the sharp intense flavor from sharp cheddar cheese and grated an 8 oz. block of it
- Diced avocados, chopped cilantro, chopped romaine lettuce, chopped jalapeno
- Diced tomatoes, if you don’t have tomatoes you can also use red bell pepper, the contrast of the red is a nice pop with the other colors in these loaded nachos
- Additional optional garnishes
- Sliced black olives
- Dollop of sour cream ( a must for me- not optional!)
- Lime juice
Printable Recipe Here
Makes: 8 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- tortilla chips
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 1 /4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 avocados, diced
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook for a few minutes until soft and then add the ground beef. Cook until browned, stirring to crumble the beef. Drain the fat and then add the seasonings: chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.
- Layer the tortilla chips with the meat and cheese. Warm it in the microwave for 30 second increments until the cheese has melted. Add on the tomatoes and avocados. You can make as many layers as you wish.
- Top with some chopped cilantro and sour cream before serving.
-You can adapt this recipe for smaller servings by changing the ratios to your needs. Using 1/4 pounds of ground beef for example for a 2 person serving along with 1/2 cup cheese, 1 tomato, 1/2 avocado, and 2 dollops of sour cream.