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
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small white onion, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)
1 bell pepper of any color, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)
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)
Yep, it’s the middle of January, and yep, I’m craving green things. This recipe is quick to put together, can be dressed up in a bunch of different ways, and keeps like a champ for leftovers.
gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian
Mushroom Pea Pasta
4 servings of your favorite pasta (I used a standard penne, but my favorite rice fusilli would be great here and chickpea or paleo pastas would also be great – shiritaki would even work, if you’re keto or low carb)
8-12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 c. frozen spinach
500g. protein of choice
Salt & pepper
Nutritional yeast (optional but adds a bit of a cheesy taste)
Set your pasta water (generously salted) to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl if ready before the rest of your ingredients.
While the pasta is working, brown your protein in a bit of neutral oil – season with salt and pepper and set aside in the large bowl.
To the pan, add your chopped mushrooms, 2 tsp. neutral oil and 2 tsp. butter. Sauté until the mushrooms are cooked through and a bit browned. Season with 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, salt & pepper.
While the mushrooms are going, defrost your peas & spinach.
Chop your herbs and avocado – chuck into the big bowl.
When the mushrooms are ready, add to the big bowl.
Add the peas & 1 tsp. neutral oil to the pan. Sauté until just beginning to brown. Add the spinach. Season with 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, salt & pepper. Sauté until the spinach is cooked through and the water has evaporated.
Add the green veg to the bowl.
Brown 2 Tbsp. butter in the pan and pour over the top of the pasta and veggies. Toss with 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast.
Serve topped with more nutritional yeast if desired.
Yes, another hash. Don’t @ me; I’ve got a deep and abiding love for hash.
This version takes a “safer” route than I usually take to cook the potatoes to unburnt perfection. I also upped the fat content because I was working with a cast iron skillet, and I have not yet gotten the full hang of using it without stickage.
gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, Whole30 (sub the oil for W30 or strict paleo)
A Nice Herbed Hash Base
1 lb. small potatoes (I used a mix of purple, white and red)
1/2 lb. green beans
Sun dried tomato oil (or roasted red pepper oil – or, regular oil with a bit of either mixed in would also be great)
Citrus salt (I made mine and used this recipe as a starting point. Unfortunately, I didn’t post the recipe here. Mine has cracked peppercorns, rosemary and oregano mixed in and I believe the citrus mix is lemon + orange)
2 -3 cloves garlic
4 Tbsp. mixed fresh rosemary and dill – more if you want it even herbier
Some nice finishing salt (I used Maldon flake salt)
Maybe a splash of red wine vinegar at the end to punch up the flavors and cut through the richness (I added a dash upon reheating leftovers and it was fantastic)
Chop your potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Parboil in a large pot of salted water about 5 minutes or until tender but not falling apart. Drain.
While the potatoes are working, tip and chop the green beans into bite sized pieces.
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large pan over medium-high until shimmering.
Add the potatoes, sprinkle with your citrus seasoning, and sauté 2-3 minutes or until just beginning to get some color.
Add the green beans & some pepper and sauté an additional 3 – 5 minutes or until nicely browned.
While the hash is working, mince the garlic and chop the herbs.
Add the garlic & herbs to the pan and stir to combine. Let cook a few minutes to meld. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.
Finish with a sprinkle of good salt and/or a splash of vinegar.
I served with some vegan cashew curry sausages for dinner the first night and with a sausage, a little leftover seared red pepper + a fried egg the second. Both ways were yum.
Serves 2 for dinner & 1 for lunch if your portions are small (at least small to me; if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I love a healthy portion)
I know … Vegemite (and it’s British cousin, Marmite, are weird.
But … they’re good. Especially when paired with a little fat. I’ve had a little smeared on toast with some butter (sometimes with a little apple butter), on a burger with some bacon (freakin delicious), on toast with cheddar cheese (also yum), and now tossed with chicken – surprisingly good.
I’m curious to taste it with apple pie and macaroni & cheese. Stay tuned for that one; I have plans to revamp one of my old Mac & cheese recipes to include it. I have a feeling it will be fantastic. EDIT: Happy to report that in a test run of both that beloved recipe + a dash of Vegemite was fantastic. Still needs either a dollop more, or more salt …
This dish is really good. It doesn’t scream Vegemite – more like really good chicken. Not sure exactly how to describe the taste. Vegemite tastes salty, kinda yeasty, and kinda like miso. This chicken doesn’t really taste like that – but the chicken ness feels somehow elevated(?)
I don’t know. You tell me. If you try this dish, let me know in the comments what you think it tastes like. I’m curious to see!
gluten-free (check your labels – a gluten free variety of Vegemite is available, made with bakers instead of brewers yeast, paleo if you go for the GF Vegemite
Vegemite Chicken & Rice
1 lb. chicken thighs
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. Vegemite (or Marmite, if you lean toward that continent)
1 Tbsp. coconut aminos, soy sauce or tamari
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 Tbsp. neutral oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Broccolini, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt & pepper
Preheat your oven to 200C/375F. Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat or tinfoil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the chili powder, honey, Vegemite, soy sauce, egg white, neutral oil and sesame oil.
In a shallow dish, combine the baking soda, cornstarch or arrowroot powder and pepper.
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Toss to combine.
Take small batches of the sauced chicken and coat with the dry batter. Lay on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake for 10 minutes, add the broccolini drizzled with a little neutral oil and sprinkled with salt & pepper. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
This recipe as written, I realize, may not be accessible to anyone who does not share my love of grabbing interesting looking ingredients from the Asian aisle and chucking them in whatever looks good.
If you’re still curious to see what this tastes like and don’t share that predilection, an approximation can most likely be made by combining lemon juice, a hint of pomegranate molasses and a hint of rotel green chilis.
I served this plain for dinner (DH added rotisserie chicken to his), and with chili tuna for lunch the next day. Both plain and with some added tuna were good; if you want a little more nutrition with your dinner, broccoli would be great here. Maybe a bit of sesame seed for a little more fat.
gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan
Roasted Potatoes with Avocado Dill Sauce
1 stalk celery
1 Tbsp. Japanese Yuzu jalapeño sauce
1 Tbsp. Kewpie Yuzu no-oil dressing
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2-3 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. oil of choice
Neutrally seasoned roasted potatoes (I roasted mine in a combo of garlic oil, salt and pepper until browned in a 220C oven ~35 mins)
Chop celery and garlic and add to a blender along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Whiz. Taste for salt and acid, adding more if necessary. Add a little more water if it’s too thick for your liking. Mine was fine, but your mileage may vary.
Sauce serves 4 – 5; potatoes can adjust to accommodate that number or more
This is no exception to that rule. This salad is about as light as one would expect, but works well. I worried that the zucchini wouldn’t be great, but it was; even raw. The key here is to peel it into ribbons. I used my regular vegetable peeler. My ribbons weren’t even, but they were delicious.
So much so, I can’t really say this is more than a 1-person meal. I mean, sure, you can feed 2 if you want to throw a main in, but I managed to knock it out in a second helping at lunch.
If you can’t find the Kewpie dressing, a nice sesame would be good. So would my love pomegranate molasses. Balsamic would also work really well. Grapefruit would play nicely.
I had also meant to grab some good vegan Feta for this salad but forgot. It would be nice and would definitely help fill this out to more of a meal, but wasn’t necessary.
gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo
Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad
1 large zucchini, ribboned thinly
1/2 shallot, minced
1 plum, chopped
3Tbsp. Kewpie no-oil Yuzu dressing
1Tbsp. your favorite neutral oil
2Tbsp. smoked almonds, chopped
1.5tsp. fresh thyme
1/4c. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2tsp. red chili flakes
Ribbon the zucchini thinly and add to a large bowl.
I tossed any ribbons that were purely peel to the pups, and stopped when I hit all-seed strips. A bit is wasted here, but can be easily chopped and chucked in a pan for a quick little pop of veggie later in the week. I ended up using mine in a breakfast zucchini & fried egg rice with browned butter and snipped chives.
Mince the shallot, de-stem the thyme, and chop both the parsley and plum. Add to the bowl.
Add the red chili flakes, along with the dressing and oil. I’d start with 2 Tbsp. dressing, toss, and see if it needs more. Hit with a few grinds salt and pepper.
When it’s time to plate, add the chopped almonds and toss quickly so they don’t go soggy.
Serves 1 – 2 for lunch depending upon what all else you have going on
This lower-than-it-could be in carbs dish started life as the baby of a Japanese curry recipe and a ramen recipe and snowballed into a straight-up yummy pasta dish. I’m super bummed I only made enough to serve two; this was fantastic.
gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan
Roasted Pumpkin Miso Pasta
About a cup chopped pumpkin or butternut squash
2 tsp. white miso paste
Veggie or chicken stock
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1 Tbsp. + sesame oil
1 inch peeled fresh ginger, minced
2 scallions, minced
Soft egg (optional)
Kontjac noodles or sushi rice or ramen or udon or zoodles – all would be awesome, though I’ve only tried wide kontjac and rice
Preheat your oven to 200C/375F. Peel and chop the pumpkin into smallish pieces. Add to a prepared baking sheet, lash with oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and curry powder. Toss. Bake about 40 minutes or until browned in spots and soft.
Let cool for a beat, and then add to a blender with the miso, red chili flakes, 2 tsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. curry powder, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, and 1/2 a cup of stock. Blitz, adding more stock if needed to get smooth. I used about a cup in this stage.
In a saucepan or tall-ish sided skillet, add the minced ginger and the white + light green parts of the scallions with 2 tsp. garlic oil. Sauté until the onion is beginning to soften.
Add the blitzed pumpkin and another half cup or so of stock. Let simmer down to the consistency of a thick soup.
Add your drained and rinsed kontjac or whatever curry vehicle you’re feeling, toss, and let simmer a few minutes to combine.
Serve with an optional soft egg, the green parts of the scallions, a little drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and some togarishi if you want another hit of spice.
Finally! I’ve been trying to make a silky, luxurious feeling Thai-style red curry for a minute and keep screwing something up. Either I don’t let it reduce long enough, or I drown the flavors some how – or I forget a key component like curry paste or coconut milk.
This go round, I forgot to pick up coconut milk. I swear my kitchen eats the stuff. I’ve lost like 3 cans of it in the last few months. But, with a last-minute grocery trip I was all ready to go. Whoo. I’m glad I was, too – this is a good one.
gluten-free, paleo, pescatarian
Thai-Style Red Curry
1 can coconut milk
Veggie, fish or chicken stock (1 of the empty coconut milk cans’ worth)
2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce/coconut aminos
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled to reveal the soft center – mince 1 and whack the other with the back of your knife to release its flavors while cooking
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 Thai red chilis (optional), minced
1.5 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, chopped
3/4 cup chopped okra
2 Tbsp. minced basil
Minced smoked salmon (optional)
Rice to serve
This is a simple slow-cooker dump meal. Prep all ingredients and dump into your cooker (minus the salmon, basil and green parts of the scallions). Cook however you would make a stew.
When complete, add to a saucepan and simmer until reduced a bit and silky. Serve over rice, topped with the green parts of the scallion and chopped basil.