Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

This recipe came out of missing the goodness that is Trader Joe’s grab-n-go food. DH stumbled upon a roundup of the top go-tos for nutritionists somewhere on the Internets, and thought a few of the dishes sounded great – too bad we don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby.

I was sure I could create something that tasted at least good from the description. Probably isn’t what their version tastes like, but good nonetheless. We also didn’t know at the time, but we have been sorely missing Cuban food. Semi-passable Mexican is hard enough to find here; Cuban is impossible.

This recipe also uses cocktails in place of the bitter or sour orange featured heavily in Cuban meat marinades – I think it worked out pretty well, but were I to make this again, I’d maybe slip a teaspoon or two in after cooking to add a little bitter punch to the dish. I don’t think it would taste *quite* the same, but it will at least give that element that’s present in my favorite Cuban dishes. If you have access to mojo sauce, that would also be fantastic sprinkled over top.

gluten-free, can easily be made paleo with substitutions

Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

For the chicken:

1 roasting or stewing chicken

4-6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

1 bell pepper – any color, chopped

4 ounce can puréed tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

Generous sprinkle black pepper

3-4 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Juice & zest of 1 orange

1 Tablespoon orange cocktail bitters + more if desired

1.5 cups nice broth

1.5 cups water

1.5 teaspoons your favorite stock starter powder (you want about 3 cups of liquid – I had some nice mixed meats bone broth and use chicken-free chicken bouillon starter powder to make my quick-n-dirty stocks)

For the bowl base:

1 cup long grain rice (or cauli rice if you’re paleo)

1 cup reserved stock from the (cooked) chicken

1 cup water

Generous pinch salt

1 Tablespoon ghee or butter

Bowl accents:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small white onion, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)

1 bell pepper of any color, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)

Neutral oil

Salt & pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon “chicken” bouillon starter

Your favorite black beans (optional. DH found some pre-cooked Cuban style beans in a pouch – they’re amazing if you can eat them. Fillos is the brand)

2 plantains

Toppers:

Reserved raw pepper & onion

Chopped cilantro

Your favorite hot sauce (ours came from the Hot Ones sampler pack we got for Christmas – Hot Ones, if you’ve never heard of it is not only a hilarious YouTube channel filled with celebrities eating ridiculously hot wings, but is also a fun way to play wing roulette at home )

First, dump all the chicken ingredients in your electric cooker or stew pot. I cooked mine for 1 hour on the “meat” setting of my electric cooker. Your mileage may vary.

When the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone, remove from the cooker and set to cool.

Add the rice ingredients to your cooker (swiping a cup of that yummy chicken liquid you just emptied out of the pot). Set your rice to cook. I left mine in the pot on the warming setting for awhile (half an hour-ish) after it finished, and the bottom browned and crisped a bit – y-u-m.

While the rice is cooking, sauté your diced pepper and onion in 1 teaspoon neutral oil. Season with cumin, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. Remove when softened and starting to brown. Wipe the pan.

To your wiped pan, add enough neutral oil to cover the bottom. Set over medium-high. Quickly slice the plantains into half inch thick rounds while the oil heats to shimmering.

Add the plantains one at a time (carefully so you don’t splatter oil on yourself) so they are flat and not crowded in the pan (I did mine in two batches). Once they are all nestled in the pan, flip, starting with the first. Let brown and remove to a few paper towels folded in on themselves a few times. Sprinkle immediately with coarse salt.

Repeat with your second batch, remove and salt.

Heat your black beans if using.

To serve, use the rice (or rice analog) as a base, add the chicken and accents and sprinkle with the toppers. Add some hot sauce if desired.

Serves 4 (the rice and accents) and more (the chicken)

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

This recipe is 100% inspired by one of my good friends & a master of all things philosophical, @Heidi. (It’s a NF forum thing)

I love her no-fuss approach to food and how she seeks meaning in what she uses to fuel her body.

This recipe is an interpretation of the flavor combinations she mentioned in a daily update post (I haven’t mentioned my fitness community lately, but if you’re looking for a great group of people to help give you a nudge going into 2021, check Nerd Fitness out).

I think we all need a little more @Heidi in our lives. For more reasons than that – hellooooo, badass.

Vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

1 cup Pearl barley (buckwheat groats would be a good gluten-free sub)

1 cup good stock

1 cup water

Big pinch salt

Good olive oil

Neutral oil

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 butternut squash

Curry powder

Large shallot

500g baby spinach

Garlic oil

1 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Big hand full smoked almonds

Cook your barley with the stock, water and a generous pinch salt in a rice cooker or according to package directions.

Preheat your oven to 375F/200C. Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking paper.

While the barley is working, peel your butternut, seed, and chop into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with neutral oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. Toss to combine. Bake 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned.

While those are going, set a medium pan over medium/medium-high heat. Spritz a couple of times with garlic oil. Rough chop a large shallot and add to the pan. Sautee until beginning to brown. Add some salt & pepper + the nutmeg and the spinach. Toss and cook until beginning to wilt.

When the barley is done, add the red wine vinegar, a finely chopped sprig of Rosemary (about 1Tbsp.), 1 tsp. oregano, and a couple glugs good olive oil. Stir to combine and gently fold in the squash & spinach.

Rough chop the almonds and use for garnish.

If you’ve got figs or pomegranate seeds (or both!) they would make fantastic additions. Finishing salt would also not go amiss.

Subsequent reheats are great with a fresh splash of vinegar and a touch extra fat to bring everything together. A shake of chili would also work well.

Serves 4 for dinner

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

This dish is great warm, room temperature or slightly chilled – making it perfect for your next get-together.

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

1.5 cups chopped pumpkin (or any variety orangey squash)

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, ribboned

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 cups wild rice mix (quinoa would also be good – you want something with a bit of body to it)

Crispy fried chickpeas (mine were pre-seasoned and halved)

2 scallions, chopped

1 Tbsp. turmeric olive oil (substitute with adding a little turmeric to your favorite oil )

2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. curry powder

Dressing

1/4 cup turmeric olive oil

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. dijon or whole grain mustard

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

Lay your chopped pumpkin out on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the Tablespoon of oil over top and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 Tablespoon curry powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 200C/375F for 30 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown. Remove.

While the pumpkin is working, cook your rice or other grains however you cook rice. Set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk.

To assemble, combine all but the crispy chickpeas in a large bowl, adding the chickpeas as you serve so they don’t get soggy.

Serves 4 for dinner and more as a light lunch

Caramelized Onion Rolls

This recipe came out of a need. A need for a roast beef sandwich. Where I live, the options for lunch meat of any variety is abysmal – and roast beef is nonexistent.

I’ve been missing my favorite Boar’s Head London Porter something fierce lately, and the paltry French Dip offerings I’ve found (which are wholly not French dip sandwiches and range from sad to inedible) just aren’t cutting it.

I’m still working on my uncured sandwich beef recipe, but this onion roll was too good not to share in the meantime. It’s a Frankenstein of a few different recipes and techniques, most notably a video by Joshua Weissman, Making The Arby’s Beef ‘N Cheddar At Home | But Better.

I used his recipe for the main part, but fleshed out the technique from how I generally make bread at home. I was pleasantly surprised at how light and fluffy these were – I’m imagining because of the extra yeast than what I’m used to with my lazy person Artisan bread – and I got 9 buns out of my batch, so there were plenty of extras with which to make egg sandwiches out of. Y’all know I love a good egg recipe. Yum.

Nope, nothing – not even gluten-free or vegetarian. This may be the first time in the history of this blog I’ve ever posted a recipe that falls into zero dietary categories. Oops. Still good, though.

Caramelized Onion Rolls

Caramelized Onions:

2 yellow onions

1 Tbsp. butter – chilled is fine

2 tsp. sugar

Hefty sprinkle salt

Thinly slice the onions and add to a pan over low heat with the butter, salt and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until deeply brown. The browner and jammer the better. I’m poo at having the patience necessary to do this, so I always end up jacking the heat up to medium and working through half-burnt onions. Which I happen to enjoy, so you do you.

Let sit to cool. You don’t want to add hot onions to your dough.

Rolls:

3 1/4 cup flour – I used a mix of mostly white all purpose with a little wheat left in the container; he used bread flour. I’m sure bread flour is even better, but I can’t be bothered

3 Tbsp. butter, softened

1 Tbsp. instant yeast

2 tsp. sea salt

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water

In a large bowl, stir the flour, yeast and salt together. Crack the eggs in, add the butter, and slowly stir in the water. Chuck in the previously caramelized onions.

When your flour is incorporated, i.e. not running around like lots of dust in the bottom of the bowl, dump onto a floured surface. He used a dough hook on a Kitchen Aid mixer and let run until … ? … I quit paying attention to that part at dough hook; I don’t have one, so I went old school.

Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is just tacky to the touch. This will take a lot of dusting of your work surface to get your dough to quit sticking. That’s okay; you won’t kill the dough by doing what you need to do with it.

When your arms are dead and your dough is where you want it, add back to the bowl, cover, and let sit 2 – 3 hours in room temperature to rise.

About an hour before dinner, punch your dough down and separate into about 9 balls. I did this by pinching off about a hand full, lightly rolling in my hands to form something that looks like a roll, and placing on a silicone lined baking sheet. I ended up with 9 roughly same-sized balls.

Cover and let sit 30 – 40 minutes.

While your dough is resting, preheat the oven to 200C/375F.

*Note: If you want your buns to be shiny, brush with a little egg wash before baking. It won’t affect the taste, but they will be prettier. A little butter brush would also be a nice addition.

Bake 15 minutes or until browned but not burnt on the top and sounding hollow when you knock on the top.

Makes 9-ish buns of sandwich size

Zucchini Rice Pilaf

Sneaky veg FTW in this one. I snuck half a huge zucchini in this rice and it went unnoticed (or at least un commented on). Win.

I served this the first night with seared salmon, and the second with some pepper steak Quorn and a sprinkle of mushroom powder. Both were delicious, and I could see a swirl of pomegranate molasses or some chopped apricot or golden raisins working well here. Smoked almonds instead of plain slivered would also be fantastic.

I also *almost* added the juice and zest of 1 lemon, but am glad I pulled back from that at the last minute. Lemon would be good, but I apparently missed buttery rice in my life.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Zucchini Rice Pilaf

1c. basmati rice

2c. water

1Tbsp. butter (dairy or non; whichever you prefer)

1/2tsp. salt

1/2 a big zucchini (you could actually add the whole thing, but I erred on the side of caution)

1 large shallot

2Tbsp. slivered almonds

2Tbsp. capers

1Tbsp. snipped chives

2Tbsp. chopped parsley

Neutral oil of choice

Make your rice however you make rice, using the water as the liquid and the butter as the fat. Don’t forget to add salt.

While the rice is working, grate the zucchini, snip the chives and chop the parsley. Add to a large bowl.

Finely slice the shallot and fry in a little oil over medium-low heat until browned. When nicely browned (I had wanted caramelized, but this small a quantity of shallot in only the bare minimum of oil browns rather than caramelizes. Would also be amaze with caramelized onion), push the shallot to the side of your pan and add the capers and a bare drizzle of fat.

Push that to 1/3 of the pan until the capers look like they’ll start jumping any minute.

Add the slivered almonds to the last 1/3 of the pan. Toast. Pull the individual items as they are ready and add to the big bowl.

When the rice is done but still warm, add to the big bowl and stir all vigorously to combine.

Serves 4 as a side

Ginger Scallion Chicken

This recipe sounds simple but omfg it’s like comfort in a bowl. If you’re thinking about skipping out on the browning stage for your chicken because you’re lazy: don’t. I often do (see previous excuse) and I’m beyond glad I didn’t for this recipe. It absolutely made the rice.

gluten-free, FODMAP friendly

Ginger Scallion Chicken

4 boneless chicken thighs

2 inches ginger, peeled

1 cup rice (I used sushi rice because that’s my family’s favorite)

2 cups water

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos

1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar, divided

1 tsp. salt + sprinkling salt

2 tsp. sugar

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

6 scallions

Black pepper

Fat of choice

Note: Other versions of this recipe call for onion and garlic; if you’re not FODMAPping, these would be lovely additions, I’m sure

Sprinkle your chicken with salt & pepper. Chuck into a pan over medium-high with a little fat (I used garlic oil) and cook until browned on both sides.

While the chicken is working, add the rice (wash if you wash rice; I can never be bothered and really liked the way it was kind of pasty in this dish – reminded me of a casserole), water, 1 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar, soy sauce, and the chunk of ginger.

Place the chicken and any pan drippings on top of the rice, hit the rice button and cook until done. If you’re not using a slow cooker with a rice function, cook rice however you cook rice with the chicken on top – the little bits of chicken fat and the juices from the meat run into the rice creating yummy goodness.

While the chicken and rice are going, chop the green onions (if you’re FODMAPping, green parts only) and add to a small bowl with the 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes. Mash as best you can with a spoon – or, if you have one, mash in a mortar with a pestle. That would be great. Mine didn’t mush up as much as I wanted with a spoon but the onion still broke up enough to release some good flavor. Taste yours and if you want another tiny bit of sugar add that in. I was on the fence about adding more sugar to mine, but left it out because I like a nice acerbic bite.

To serve, fish the ginger chunk out of the chicken & rice and top with the scallion dressing. I mixed mine together for leftovers and that worked even better for subsequent meals.

Serves 2 for dinner and 2 for lunch

Sesame Coconut Rice Bowl

This dish turned out miles better than I feared it would. I was hella worried that by using coconut milk as the sole liquid to cook my rice I was going to blow up my rice cooker.

I’m glad those fears were unjustified, because this rice is bomb. So bomb, I made more just so I could serve it with another ‘stepping out on a limb’ dish I’m hoping will be good enough to share with you guys in a few days (spoiler: it involves beets and stir-frying).

This rice makes a great base for simple broccolini like I’ve served here, a nice light green curry, some simple salmon, or even – strangely – some soft-scrambled eggs (or as soft as I can get them, which is not Julia Child level soft).

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Sesame Coconut Rice Bowl

1 cup rice (I used a Basmati/wild combination)

1 14 ounce can coconut milk

1 Tbsp. sesame oil (+more)

2 tsp. your favorite chicken bouillon (mine happens to be vegan and it’s fantastic – Ida’s is the brand and I believe it’s out of South Africa)

Zest of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. tahini

Red chili flakes

Toasted sesame seeds

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 bunch broccolini, chopped

2 tsp. neutral oil

2 tsp. ground turmeric

Set your rice, coconut milk, sesame oil and chicken bouillon in your rice cooker. Add a generous sprinkle salt and cook however you cook rice.

While the rice is going, stir-fry the broccolini and onion in the oil until browned (if you add the stalks in first and get those going until just starting to look cooked you’ll have less chance of burning the flowery bits). Whack with salt and pepper. Add the turmeric and toss. Throw in a few Tablespoons water and let cook until the water evaporates and the broccolini is done to your liking. We like browned in spots but still crisp-tender.

Stir in the tahini and lemon zest.

To serve, add 1/3 of the rice to a bowl and top with 1/3 of the broccolini. Add a drizzle of sesame oil, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Serves 3 as a light meal or side

Pork & Bacon Quinoa with Peas and an Egg (Gluten-Free)

Yeah, there’s a lot of meat going on in this dish. But it’s good. This was a meal that came together based on what I was craving – crispy bacon, luscious egg yolk and a carb – and what needed to be used up – a bag of fresh peas, the pork chops I had defrosted, and the celery nubbins hanging out in the crisper.

_DS33877w

Pork & Bacon Quinoa with Peas and an Egg

1/2 cup red quinoa (regular would work just fine)
1 cup turkey stock
1-2 stalks celery (I used the inner core + a few leaves)
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. coconut oil
10 ounces fresh English peas (you can certainly use frozen if that is what you have on hand)
2 ounces bacon (1 thick cut strip)
6 oz. pork chops (2 small boneless)
2 eggs
2 tbsp. parsley

Rinse your quinoa and add to a small saucepan with the turkey stock. Bring to a boil, pop a lid on, and drop the heat to a simmer. Simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the curlicues open and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Dice the celery and shallots; slice the garlic thin. Add to a large sautee pan with the coconut oil and sautee over medium heat until just beginning to brown. Add the peas and sautee, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until peas begin to soften. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Slice the bacon into batons and chop the pork chops into bite-sized pieces.

To the pan (still over medium), add the bacon and fry until the fat begins to render and the bacon is about half-done. Add the pork to the pan and continue cooking until the pork is browned and the bacon is crisped. Remove and set aside, keeping the fat for the eggs.

Return the pan back to the heat and add the eggs. Fry until desired yolk runnyness is reached.

Chop the parsley and use as a garnish.

Serves 2 for dinner.

Spring Pea and Asparagus Quinoa with Mushrooms and Leeks

This dish might look like it takes a lot of pans and bother to make, but things can be simplified by cooking the mushrooms with the leeks. I left separate because I am the only mushroom-eater in the house and had a craving.

I also had leftovers for lunch the next day topped with 2 fried eggs – fabulous. The kind of fabulous that made me sad I didn’t have a larger bowl.

_DS33290w

Spring Pea and Asparagus Quinoa with Mushrooms and Leeks

2 c. vegetable stock
1 c. quinoa
2 leeks, white and light green parts only
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
10 oz. fresh English peas
1 shallot
1 bunch asparagus
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. butter
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbsp. chopped mint
Salt & pepper to taste

Add the quinoa and stock to a medium pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, knock the heat back to a simmer and let cook 15 minutes or until curlicues open.

Slice the leeks into thin rounds and chop the garlic.

Add to a large pan with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter. Sautee over medium 10 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and pepper. When the leeks are done, add to a medium bowl.

Add the mushrooms, 2 tsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. butter to a medium pan over medium heat. Sautee 15 minutes or until softened and browned. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the shallot into thin rings and chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Add to the vacant leek pan with the peas and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. sautee over medium-high until browned. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the shallot/pea/asparagus mixture to the leek bowl and toss to combine. Hit with the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. Add the mint and toss. Serve over the quinoa, topped with mushrooms.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch.

Spring Asparagus and Broccolini Farro & Kale Pesto

Farro is one of those whole grains that speaks volumes about comfort to me. It’s nutty and toothsome and just the thing to serve as a great base for any season’s fresh veggies. This dish takes all the best spring has to offer and ties it into perineal favorites like broccolini and lemon.

The picture is wonky but the dish is good. Promise :)
The picture is wonky but the dish is good. Promise 🙂

Spring Asparagus and Broccolini Farro with Kale Pesto

1/2 c. farro
1 c. vegetable broth
1 bunch broccolini
1 bunch asparagus
3/4 bulb fennel
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. water
1 Tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
1/2 c. kale pesto
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring the farro and stock up to a boil in a medium pot. Cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let sit with the lid on an additional 5 minutes.

On to the veg. Chop the broccolini and asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Slice the fennel thinly. Chop the garlic. Add all to a large pan with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and sautee 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Add the 1/2 c. water and continue sauteeing until water cooks out and everything gets nicely browned.

Tip the veggies out into a large bowl. Add the farro, garlic-infused olive oil, kale pesto, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Taste for seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch.