Monday, May 27, 2013

Pomegranate Mint Cauliflower Rice

Happy Memorial Day! I thoroughly enjoyed the 3-day weekend, and I now have a completed garden on my terrace complete with carrots, tomatoes, peppers, beets, and lettuce. The picture to the right is the start of my carrots just 3 weekends ago. I will post the updated picture this week, and you won't even believe your eyes! I think I shed a tear (or three) when I saw the first sprouts. I am getting a lot of slack from friends and family for talking to my garden, but I am absolutely convinced that the morning pep talks are really doing the trick. I have always wanted a garden, so I am taking advantage of my outdoor space and am fully committed to loving my plants unconditionally until they grow. I will have updates throughout the spring and summer and hope to make some exciting recipes with my home-grown veggies in a couple of months. Since patience is a virtue I do not have, this is the perfect activity to me. Waiting 70 days for a carrot will certainly be a first, and I'm sure the experience will be useful if I can translate the newfound patience to other aspects in my life.

Tonight's recipe is a wonderful side dish for any upcoming BBQ or get-together. The fresh mint and pomegranate seeds give the "rice" a fresh burst of flavor with every bite. Enjoy the flavors of Spring, and don't forget to tell your plants that you love them!

Pomegranate Mint Cauliflower Rice: Serves 4-6, Prep time: 10 min, Cook time: 15 min

- 1 large head cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1. Heat oil over medium heat
2. Sautee the onion for about 10 minutes until translucent
3. Meanwhile, pulse the chopped cauliflower for a few seconds in the food processor until it makes a rice-like consistency
4. Add the "rice" to the onions, stir well, and cover for 10 minutes
5. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
6. Toss with fresh mint and pomegranate seeds


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Onion Pork Chops

It is a cozy rainy Sunday in CT today. I was planning on planting the rest of my garden today, but it may need to wait until the rain stops. In the meantime, my carrots are growing (there are over 20 sprouting!). I don't have a solid plan for today because I was planning to celebrate winning the Powerball with my family. It looks like I will have to get back to reality, do some cooking, get some work done, and get ready for another busy week. 

Today's recipe is a sweet and savory pork chop dish. I can't even remember the last time I made pork chops, but I wanted to switch it up. I love sweet onions and fruit in absolutely everything, so this is a great dish. You could also make this type of recipe in the crockpot if you prefer, but I chose to pan sear and then bake in the oven. This is a great meal for a rainy Sunday. Hope you enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple Onion Pork Chops: Serves: 2, Prep time: 10 min, Cook time: 45 min

- 2 organic pork chops (I used boneless)
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 sweet onion, sliced
- 1 apple, chopped
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/3 cup organic vegetable broth (I used Pacific)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Heat coconut oil over medium heat
3. Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides
4. Brown the chops in the oil for about 2 minutes on each side
5. Remove chops from the pan and cover with foil
6. Add the onions to the pan with the oil
7. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes
8. Add apples and cook another 5 minutes
9. Add cinnamon and broth, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 3 minutes until reduced
10. Put chops in a baking dish topped with the apple/onion mixture
11. Bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sweet & Salty Fried Plantains

Today marks a huge day in history folks. When I was watering my beloved carrots this morning, I saw about 15 tiny little sprouts of green sticking up through the soil. It turns out that I may just have a green thumb after all! I have lasted over 10 days without digging them up to view (and ruin) any progress, and the patience has paid off. I think 2013 is the year of patience for me; I always knew that good things come to those who wait, but I always say that patience is a virtue that I don't have. Planting a garden is a perfect experiment for me, because I couldn't be more excited to make a meal with home-grown food. I am learning to package up that excitement and distract myself and enjoy my life in the meantime as I wait for 70 slow days for mature carrots! 

Since my patience is being tested in so many aspects of my life this year, sometimes I just need a quick fix! Tonight's recipe is the perfect example. This recipe is simple, quick, and delicious. You can buy the pre-made plantain chips from whole foods, but 1) they aren't as good as homemade, and 2) there is just no way to buy them without eating the whole tub (I dare you). With this recipe you can make as little as a few slices or as many to feed a hungry group of friends at your next party. Either way, you can't go wrong, and you will be going back for more!

Sweet & Salty Fried Plantains: Serves: Varies, Prep time: 5 min, Cook time: 5 min

- Yellow Plantain(s)
- Coconut oil
- Fine sea salt and pepper

1. Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat
2. Peel and slice plantains to desired thickness
3. Add plantains into hot oil and season lightly with salt and pepper
4. Cook for 2 minutes
5. Flip plantains and re-season with salt and pepper
6. Cook for another 2 minutes and then remove onto a dish with paper towel to drain
7. Eat up because they won't last!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sauteed Kale & Kumatos

Happy Mother's Day! I couldn't be more blessed in the Mom department. Over the years, my mom and I have gotten closer and closer, and I cannot imagine my life without her. She knows me inside and out and has been by my side through absolutely everything. She is one special lady, and she really has taught me how to be a superwoman in every way. She has managed to be a dedicated (and strict) mother, an amazing nurse, an X-rated comedian, an all-star athlete, a fantastic wife, and a loving sister/aunt/friend/etc. Distance may separate us, but nothing could make us any closer. 

I used to hate that my Mom was always right. She was right about every (ex) boyfriend, every big (and little) decision, and the fact that things will always turn out the way they are supposed to. Now I love that I know she is always right, because it makes things a whole lot easier. She promised me when I was a little girl that I would like tomatoes one day, and I promised her I wouldn't. Clearly she was right, and here I am popping a taste of every type of tomato I can get my hands on. Today's recipe is a healthy and delicious side dish to make for your mom (she deserves it!). Kumato tomatoes are a great alternative to your standard pick, and the colors and flavors really compliment the kale. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Sauteed Kale & Kumatos: Serves: 2, Prep time: 5 min, Cook time: 10 min

- 1 bunch organic lacinto kale (or other kale of choice), chopped
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- fine sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
- 2 kumato tomatoes, sliced

1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat
2. Add kale, and cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes)
3. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
4. Top with sliced kumatos 


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Raspberry Hazelnut Spinach

Today was a great day. I got lots of good news, crossed off some huge items on my to-do list at work, and visited with Joann and her little man Tyler after work. Tomorrow is Friday which is even better, and I am looking forward to the weekend. No major plans at the moment, but I am hoping to take my bike out for another spin if the rain holds out. I went for a ride last weekend for the first real ride in about 2 years. Mal and I used to be pros when we biked every morning before work in our old life. Apparently when you take 2 years off, it isn't nearly as easy. As I finished the first monster hill, I was off the saddle huffing and puffing like a 500-lb. man with asthma. Clearly a beautiful site, and I decided one loop was enough (when the original plan was three). I am determined to build back up to our daily 15-mile rides full of hills before the summer ends. Mal will be back in Stamford for the summer, and I only have 6 more days until she arrives. Reunited again, I am sure we will conquer the biking along with everything else that comes our way! I apologize in advance to my die-hard paleo readers if I am eating delicious baked goods from SoNo Baking Company, bagel sandwiches and cinnamon rolls from Liz Sue, and some good old-fashioned rice pudding from the grocery store. If it happens, just remember... she made me do it!

Raspberry Hazelnut Spinach: Serves 4, Prep time: 5 min, Cook time: 10 min

- 5 cups spinach
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- 1 small container raspberries (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

1. Lay chopped hazelnuts on a foil-lined pan
2. Toast nuts for 2-3 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn
3. Heat coconut oil over medium heat
4. Add spinach and cook until wilted (about 5 minutes)
5. Top sauteed spinach with toasted hazelnuts and fresh raspberries


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

CPG Soup

WHAT a day! I decided my team at work deserved a little home-cooked goodness to kick off our busy season and have a little team bonding. After about ten back-to-back meetings, I left work early, went to the grocery store, and cooked for 2.5 hours straight. I went with a belated Cinco de Mayo theme and made fajitas, guacamole, mango salsa, Mexican stuffed mushrooms, and spiced cantaloupe. We had a great time, and I just finished over an hour of cleaning dishes. Luckily I prepped all my blogposts over the weekend after my insane cooking spree, so I have a great soup to share tonight. The "CPG" stands for carrots, peppers, and greens (not that creative, sorry). I had a ton of leftover veggies (still perfecting meal planning and my new routine), so I figured I would make some soup. Ironically, as I was cooking the carrots, my mom sent me this picture of her with her Kentucky Derby hat with carrots attached to the top. Leave it to the girl from the Bronx to make the most creative (ridiculous) Derby hat. While she didn't win the hat contest she entered, the woman who did win didn't actually make her hat (she borrowed one from a friend!). In my mind, that makes my mom the winner. I am proud to say that I have learned a lot from my mom over the years - everything from my passion of cooking to a love of crazy costumes!

CPG Soup: Serves: 4-5, Prep time: 20 min, Cook time: 50 min

- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped- 10-12 cloves of garlic, chopped (one large head)- 1 pound baby carrots- 3 sweet peppers, chopped (I used 1 red, 1 yellow, & 1 orange)
- 1 bunch organic rainbow chard, chopped

- 2 quarts organic vegetable broth (I used Pacific)
- 1 bunch organic beet greens, chopped

1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat
2. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes until lightly golden brown
3. Add carrots and peppers and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently
4. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil
5. Cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes
6. Add greens and cook another 5 minutes
7. Remove pot from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or food processor/blender)
8. Serve immediately or let cool and serve later - tastes best after it has a chance to sit for a few hours or overnight in the fridge!


Monday, May 6, 2013

Ginger Chicken

I cooked my heart out this weekend, and then I cooked some more. It took a little time to get back in the swing of things, but I am officially back in action. I have a ton of recipes to share over the next week thanks to all of my hard work, and I am starting off with a delicious ginger chicken concoction that my little brother Brandon and I dreamt up. He came to visit on Sunday to check out my new place and hang out, and we cooked a feast. We went to Fairway to pick out ingredients, and the pharmacist/homeopathic-lover was chatting with us and thought Brandon was my son! Apparently I am not aging as gracefully as I may have thought. Brandon taught him an important lesson that you should always assume the woman is the older sister, because you can never go wrong. I couldn't agree more, so hopefully we taught this guy a thing or two. I was thrilled to have Brandon's company, and he was a fantastic sous chef. He taught me a lot about foreign policy, new technologies, and life as a high school student in 2013. Hopefully with his new cooking skills and recipe ideas he will be even more of a lady killer than he is already! By the way, we decided to name this chicken "ginger chicken" for a reason. Do not try it unless you love ginger! Don't say we didn't warn you...

Ginger Chicken: Serves: 4, Prep time: 20 min, Cook time: 75 min

- 4 organic, free-range chicken thighs (about 1.5 lbs. total)
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled & cubed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
- 6-8 large cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- sea salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Bake cubed squash in a little water for 30 minutes until soft, and then drain the water
3. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and add them to the pan with the squash
4. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic, and drizzle with olive oil
5. Stir to mix, and then add the mint and some more salt and pepper
6. Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring Spinach Salad

Happy May! I have been beyond MIA, and my poor blog has been neglected (I think I have said this one too many times lately...). The past couple of weeks have been nonstop madness, mostly due to my move back to Stamford. Thanks to a lot of help (thank you family!), I was able to move, unpack, decorate, and get totally settled in 96 hours. I have a lot of scratches and bruises to show for it, and I am so thrilled with my new place. Home to me should be a place of serenity and love; I am so grateful to have my own apartment again and build a home in the exact way that makes me feel fulfilled and comforted. I was able to sell most of my furniture before the move so I could get a fresh start in all respects. I am loving the new furniture, my wonderful building, and most importantly being closer to family, friends, and colleagues again. In the midst of all the greatness, I am learning to readjust to office life. This is the fourth day in a row that I have dressed up, worn heels, blowdried my hair, and engaged with dozens of people - definitely a record for the past 2 years! As the weeks go on and I adjust, I will find a way to make time for my cooking and blogging and share some wonderful spring meals with all of you. My first recipe is a great spring salad for those on the go. My cooking is much more strategic now since I am planning many meals in advance to bring to work with me. I love a good salad, so I prepped all of the ingredients on Sunday night and then threw a fresh salad together each night to bring the next day to the office. The ingredient options are endless, and I will be sure to share all future creations!

To the right you will see my brand new dining area in my new place. The chairs are missing (they will be delivered on Saturday), but you can see the table is just dying for some visitors and a dinner party! I can only imagine all of the meals and wonderful times that will happen around this table over the years to come. There are two leaves hanging out in my closet, so I can seat up to 10 people! There are many great things ahead, and I am very excited for this new chapter of my life. Looking forward to feeding you along the way!

Spring Spinach Salad: Serves 4, Prep time: 30 minutes, Cook time: N/A

8 cups organic spinach, washed
- 1 lb. cooked organic chicken, chopped or shredded (I poached mine)
- 1 avocado
- 4 kumato tomatoes
- 3 small sweet peppers, chopped (use red, orange, and yellow for a beautiful mix!)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1. Grab 4 tupperware containers (if you are packing these to-go)
2. Put 2 cups of spinach in each container
3. Split remaining ingredients equally amongst the 4 containers
4. Top with your favorite homemade paleo salad dressing or a little lemon juice, olive oil, and/or balsamic vinegar