Wild Rice Chicken Salad

This recipe uses two of my favorite easy cooking techniques  – the best way to cook brown rice, and the other for the most delicious roasted chicken ever.

First up, the rice.  Now, I’ll be honest – when my Mom first told me about this new way she’d discovered to cook brown rice, I was pretty skeptical. I didn’t try it for a few months; but once I did, boy, was I a believer.  You’ve got to try this.  And don’t wait as long as I did – do it now!  First you measure out your rice – for this recipe I used a combo of wild rice and brown rice but it would work just as well with any kind of rice.  I wouldn’t use white rice in this recipe, but any other kind would do.  I used 3 cups of rice.

Mixed the two kinds together and spread it into a baking dish with 4 2/3 cups boiling water.

I added two pats of butter and a little drizzle of olive oil.  Then, you just cover the whole thing with some aluminum foil.

Next, get your chicken ready. I used the three simple ingredients you need for perfect roasted chicken – olive oil, salt and pepper.  You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts (that’s what I used for this recipe) or you can use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts with this technique.  Either works just as well.  Just drizzle the olive oil over the chicken – don’t scrimp – and add a nice generous shake of salt and pepper over each piece.

Stick both in a 375* oven together – simple!

Take the chicken out after 40 minutes and let it rest for 10 minutes before you chop into cubes.

The rice needs to cook for about 20 – 25 more minutes (60 – 70 minutes total).  When you take it out, it’s the most perfect fluffy rice ever.  The best part? None of it is annoying stuck on the bottom of the pot.

The rest of the salad is easy. Just thaw out 2 cups of frozen peas and put into a large bowl.

Add 2 cups of dried cranberries.

The green parts of two green onions.

You’ll of course also add in all of the rice and the chopped chicken to the bowl.  Next you’ll need to make a simple dressing.  Just take 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of pepper.

My secret ingredient in the dressing – 3 – 4 tablespoons of the juices from the chicken.  Yum!

Mix that all together and you’ve got your dressing.

Just toss all the ingredients together with the dressing, and you’re all set. You can eat it right away when it’s warm, or wait and serve it cold or room temperature – it’s delicious regardless.  Enjoy!

Gluten-free Molasses Cookies

Did you ask for flour for Christmas? I did.  I’d heard about this new gluten-free flour mix called Cup 4 Cup that you could get at Williams-Sonoma.  I knew it was worth checking out since it was created in partnership with the famous Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and endorsed by my favorite gluten-free cook, Shauna.

I am not kidding when I write that this flour changed my life.  I haven’t baked much since I found out I had celiac a few years ago, and now I can.  I can make anything I want with this flour.  Anything.  It might not sound like much, but it is a revelation to me.  So what’s the first thing I made?  Molasses cookies.  Gotta start somewhere, right?

The recipe is simple and I made a few slight modifications since I didn’t have shortening on hand, but otherwise, I followed it as I found it – and these cookies are delicious!

First, I mixed together some canola oil and the brown sugar.

I did have a little help, truth be told.

Next, I added in the flour and the other dry ingredients and the egg. I found mixing with a spoon worked until a point, and then I just had to go for it with my hands.

           

Once it was all mixed together, I let it chill in the fridge for a while until it was ready to be cooked.  I used a mini ice cream scoop to help me make the cookies.

Just take each scoop and roll around in some sugar before sticking on a lined baking sheet.

Ready to go into the oven!

And here they are all ready to be eaten!  They are a cross between a super yummy, soft cookie and gingerbread.  Insanely good, and gluten-free.  Thank you Cup4Cup!

Mini Frittatas

Us busy mamas gotta stick together, and this recipe is one for us!  A while back, I wrote up my typical prep for the week and this recipe is now on rotation in our house. These mini frittatas are prefect for busy mornings.  All of us love them, especially my one year old.   In fact, they are great for parties or brunch too – I made a big batch for a brunch gathering a few weeks ago, and they were gobbled up by the dozen!

You can totally use whatever you have on hand in your fridge.  I try and load them up with lots of veggies so we get some of our veggie servings in at breakfast, but really anything will do.  I typically start with dicing up and cooking some bacon in a big skillet.

While the bacon is cooking, I get 12 eggs into a big bowl – and whisk them together with 1/3 cup of milk.

I add in some cheese with the eggs, about 1/2 cup.

And prep whatever veggies I am going to use. This time I used some leftover green onion, zucchini and yellow bell peppers.  I always use some kind of onion and most of the time some kind bell pepper … and I’ve tried adding in frozen/drained chopped spinach, diced mushrooms, chopped asparagus, and all sorts of other yummy veggies. Whatever you’ve got – throw on in!

Just dice up whatever you’re using.  Once the bacon is done cooking, remove it and let it drain on a plate with some paper towels.  Just throw the veggies into the same skillet and let them cook up in the bacon grease – yum! It takes about 10 minutes on medium heat to really cook the veggies through.

You’ll want to get your oven and muffin tins going while the veggies are cooking.  Set your oven to 350* and get out your mini muffin tins.  If you only have regular muffin tins, those will work too.  No biggie.  Just melt some butter and brush each muffin cup with it – don’t scrimp, you don’t want your frittatas getting stuck in there.

Once the veggies are cooked, remove them from the skillet and let them cool.  Once they are cool, add them and the cooled bacon into the egg, cheese and milk mixture.  Mix it all together really well and scoop into the buttered muffin cups (I used a small measuring cup to make transfering the mixture into the cups easier).  Here they are all ready to go into the oven!

Let them cook at 350* for 30 – 35 minutes, before taking them out and popping them onto a cutting board to cool.

Don’t they look good?  The best part of the whole recipe is that once they are cooled on the cutting board, you can pop them into bags, stick them in the freezer and they are ready to go for quick breakfast meals during the week!  Just pop one (or more) into the microwave for a minute or so and you’re ready to go.  Even my little one loves these things!

 

Curried Cauliflower Soup

I’m back!  I’ve now officially checked off one of my New Year’s resolutions 
{ blog more } and it’s only day one – yahoo!  If any of your resolutions have to do with eating better, spending less, or shrinking your waistline then this recipe is for you.  I found it in the New York Times.  It sounded both yummy and economical. In my book, that’s a winning combo.

You just need a few simple ingredients – one head of cauliflower, one russet potato, two cloves of garlic, one onion, a little fresh ginger, some chicken stock, curry and cumin powders and some salt.  Plus, it just takes about 10 minutes to put together and 30 minutes to cook.

     

First, just chop up an onion – any kind of onion will do.

Sautee it in a big pot with some olive oil (the real recipe calls for canola, but I used olive) for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft.

Add in the chopped garlic.

And the ginger – I’ve found the easiest way to work with fresh ginger is to use one of these microplane thingies.

Next, you add in your spices and stir it all around for a minute or two.  Finally, you add your chopped cauliflower and potato to the pot.

Last thing to add in is the chicken stock.  I had half a box left so I used that and then 4 cups of water.  You could use all stock or all water (if you want to make this vegetarian).

Put the lid on your pot and let it simmer on medium heat. After 30 – 40 minutes, you whiz it smooth with an immersion blender.  God, I love that thing.

There you go – super simple, yummy and cheap.  Happy 2012, everyone!

Green Curry Chicken

Want to see my latest obsession?  It’s not authentic, but that doesn’t matter – it’s dang good.  I serve my version of Thai Green Curry Chicken with some jasmin rice, and I just can’t get enough of it lately.  Here’s how I make it.

First, I chop up a couple red bell peppers, an onion and an eggplant (yum!) and sautee them in a big pot with 3 tablespoons of canola oil for about five minutes.

Looking good!

Next, add 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 2 – 3 tablespoons of green curry paste (not the simmering sauce – I had to go around to a few markets before I found the plain green paste), and 1.5 tablespoons of lemon grass puree.  Just mix it into the veggie mixture and let it simmer for about 2 minutes until the flavors really start smelling good.

Next, add two cans of coconut milk – I like the light, fewer calories – and 1 cup of chicken broth.

You can stick with it just like this if you want a vegetarian version, or you can add in some diced boneless chicken thighs or breasts.  I always use about 1 pound of chicken thighs chooped up into half inch pieces.

Simmer the chicken and veggies in the coconut milk and veggie mixture for 25 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.

After 25 minutes, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.  You’ll first want to mix your cornstarch with some water and then add your little cornstarch slurry to the pot and mix.  If you try to just dump the cornstarch into the pot without mixing it with some water first, you’ll get lumpy goop in your pot. 

To put the finishing touches on the dish, add the juice of two limes and half a cup of chopped basil.

Be careful – it’s addictive!  And it tastes even better the next day. Enjoy!

Paula Deen’s Honey Balsamic Green Beans

I will never make greens beans another way again – these are too freakin’ good!  Truth be told, I’ve never made a Paula Deen recipe, and never wanted to before; but when I saw this one it seemed like something that could be really tasty.  And the recipe didn’t call for a pound of butter or 2 cups of mayonnaise like her’s usually do.  🙂

First, wash and snap a bunch of green beans.

Toss them into a pot of boiling water for about 3 – 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute some chopped garlic in olive oil.  I added in a pat of butter as an ode to Miss Paula.

When the garlic is just slightly browned, add in the blanched green beans and some balsamic vinegar and honey.  Yum-o!

Toss together in a medium high skillet for about 5 – 8 minutes to fully cook.

I can’t even tell you how much I love these things! I’ve been snacking on them cold for the past few days, they are that good.  Enjoy!