Eggplant Curry With Meatballs

Ooh, this is a sneaky good one. I had *hoped* it would turn out well, but don’t have the best track record when I’m winging a coconut-based curry.

I’m happy to report that bland track record has been rectified – this dish is zippy, tangy, and still manages to give that ‘hug in a bowl’ feeling of a good coconut broth. Plus: it’s paleo, which is even better feeling for my particular body – and I didn’t miss the rice one bit.

gluten-free, paleo

Eggplant Curry With Meatballs

First, make the curry so it can simmer while the meatballs cook.

2 small potatoes (white and kinda waxy – you want something that won’t fall to mush after a good simmer)

1 medium purple eggplant

1/4 cup tamarind paste (this one is good)

1 Tbsp. roasted chili paste (this one is good)

1 can full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup good broth (I used a homemade combo chicken & ham bone broth)

Heaping Tablespoon of your favorite curry powder

Small chop the potatoes and eggplant. Add to a large pan over medium heat with a couple teaspoons neutral oil. Hit with a little salt and pepper.

Sauté a couple minutes while you gather the rest of your ingredients.

Add the stock, bring up to a simmer and let cook a couple more minutes.

Add the tamarind and chili pastes. Stir well to combine.

Add the coconut milk. Stir to combine.

Add the curry powder. Stir to combine. Bring up to a simmer, kick the heat back and let barely burble 20 minutes or until the potatoes are well cooked and the eggplant is super soft. Taste. Add a little more salt and pepper if necessary.

While the curry is working, make the meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. Prepare a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine:

1 lb. ground chicken

1/4 red onion, grated

1/4 red onion, minced

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1 Tbsp. baking soda mixed in 1 Tbsp. water to form a slurry

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 inch ginger, grated

1 Tbsp. your favorite curry powder

Salt & pepper

Form your meat mixture into ping pong sized balls and arrange on the sheet.

Bake 15 minutes while the curry works.

To serve, a squeeze of lime is nice on top but isn’t necessary.

Serves 3 – 4 for dinner

Non Dairy Greek-Style Frychos

This recipe came about because of a video from one of my favorite kitchen hack channels: RachLovesLife. She’s got a ton of videos testing viral recipes, and they’ve been great fun to watch over this past year & some change of varying levels of lockdown. She did a recipe on fry hacks, and this was something she mentioned wanting to morph one of them into – just with my own non-dairy twist, ‘cause I’m not trying to die.

gluten-free, non-dairy, comfort

Non Dairy Greek-style Frychos

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 bell pepper

1 red onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 batch this 6-ingredient vegan tzatziki sauce from the Minimalist Baker

1/2 a block of vegan cheese (this is the one I used)

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, oregano

Optional toppers: sundried tomatoes, black olives

1/2 a bag of your favorite fries (I used McCann’s crinkle cut)

Chop the onion and pepper fairly small. Mince the garlic. Add to a pan with a couple teaspoons oil and sautee over medium until soft. If the heat is a little high and the mix looks like it’s going to burn before getting nice and soft, hit with a little water and let that evaporate off as the mixture steams a bit. Make sure to hit with salt, pepper and a couple teaspoons oregano as the mix cooks to season.

While the mix works, add the fries to the oven and bake according to package directions. Salt about halfway through baking.

After the veggies are done, remove from the pan.

Add the chicken, chopped into small bites, with a Tablespoon of oil. Sautée, seasoning with salt, pepper and oregano, until cooked through.

Set aside when fully cooked.

Dice or shred the cheese.

When the fries are browned to your liking, pull from the oven, and sprinkle with the cheese. Pop back into the oven long enough to melt the cheese.

To serve, pile cheesy fries on a plate, top with chicken & veggies, drizzle sauce over top and finish with the optional toppers.

Serves 2 for dinner with enough left over toppings for another couple meals – or a nice pasta the next night

Mediterranean Chicken Bake

This one is a pretty, pretty show stopper. Just look at that Insta bait.

Not only is this pretty enough to entertain with, it’s delicious. And low key Mediterranean enough to not squick out my wary-of-all-things-Med-DH.

I also want to just eat this cheese every day. Sitting in the house while this baked was t-o-r-t-u-r-e.

Gluten-free

Mediterranean Chicken Bake

3 – 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (sub your favorite chicken)

1 lemon

1 small red onion

2 cloves garlic

A few small vine ripened tomatoes or Roma tomatoes

Vegan feta (this is my favorite)

1/2 c. good stock

Salt, pepper & olive oil

Oregano

Optional add-ins: Zaatar, fresh parsley, your favorite olives, pine nuts

I served last week’s Garden Orzo alongside and it was the perfect accompaniment

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F.

Arrange the chicken in the bottom of a pan (or sheet tray). Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano on both sides.

Chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan. Halve the lemon and add.

Nestle the tomatoes around the chicken. Pour the stock in and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake 10 minutes, chuck the cheese on top and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese at least begins to brown.

Top with a generous sprinkle parsley, one of the squeezed lemon halves, a sprinkle of Zaatar, and the olives if you like olives. I love them and ended up eating the whole hand full in one sitting.

Serves 3 – 4 for dinner – take care to double the orzo recipe if you are serving 4; you could stretch it if you’ve got dinner bread to 3, but 4 would be a bit light of a meal

Sheet Pan Miso Bowl

This is a simple and quick sheet pan dinner with a nice, light taste for nights when you *want* some super unhealthy Japanese takeout, but don’t want a bunch of grease – or to wait for delivery.

gluten-free

Sheet Pan Miso Bowl

1.5 Tbsp. miso

1.5 Tbsp. brown sugar

1.5 Tbsp. date molasses (or a smaller amount of honey or other sugar)

3 Tbsp. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

3 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 bell pepper

2 – 3 carrots

2 – 3 chicken breasts or other protein

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.

Combine all the wet ingredients together, mashing the miso with the back of a spoon to break it up better. Set aside.

Chop the chicken, carrots and pepper into bite-sized pieces, placing all onto the prepared baking sheet.

Pour 2/3 of the sauce over top and toss well to combine.

Spread the chicken & veggies out in a single layer over the baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Take the last third of the sauce, zap it in the microwave about 20 seconds to ensure the sugar is melted. Add a Tablespoon of water to thin the sauce a bit. Stir well to combine and toss with the cooked chicken & veggies before serving.

Serve with rice, cauli rice, noodles, or alone.

Serves 4

Hot Mustard Chicken with Carrot Fries

What to do with some rapidly wrinkling carrots and an abundance of hot sauce? Spicy chicken with carrot fries. Yum.

Hot Mustard Chicken with Carrot Fries

2 medium carrots

2 – 3 chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

2 Tbsp. your favorite hot sauce (I used a garlic variety)

1 Tbsp. Maggi chicken seasoning (I used Magic Sarap, but this isn’t strictly paleo – regular chicken seasoning would work just as well)

2 tsp. garlic powder

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 – 2 Tbsp. fat of choice

2 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. chipotle seasoning

Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

Halve and slice your carrots into roughly fry-shaped pieces. Toss with the oil, cornstarch/arrowroot powder, chipotle seasoning and salt & pepper.

Spread out in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes, flip, and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until your desired crispness is reached.

While the fries are working, chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with the mustard, hot sauce, maggi, garlic powder, lime juice, salt & pepper.

When the fries are ready to flip, scoot them all to 1 side of the baking sheet. Add the chicken to the other side in a single layer and bake.

The fries serve 2, the chicken 3

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)

Mushroom Pea Pasta

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

Neutral oil

Butter

2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped

1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

1 Avocado

1/2 c. frozen peas

1 c. frozen spinach

500g. protein of choice

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Nutmeg

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.

Serves 4

Vegemite Chicken & Rice

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

Sushi rice

Neutral oil

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.

Serve over sushi rice.

Serves 2 for dinner

Peanutty Fancy-Ish Ramen

It seems our Lockdown staple of ramen noodles isn’t going anywhere any time soon. DH and I are both still craving comfort, and I’m still on the war path when it comes to wasting ingredients and clearing the pantry – so we are having some mish-mashed meals as of late.

Which is all fine, provided I can continue to find ways to add at least a little nutritional value to dinner. Some sort of vegetable.

This dish elevates some pantry staples admirably, adding two sources of protein (if you add meat), and a veggie that can also serve as a freezer cleaner.

A note on ramen: I used pot noodles (aka cup o’ noodles) for this recipe. We are loving the Korean brand Budok lately – the base flavoring I went with was chicken cheese, but this would be great with pretty much any base flavor. Mushroom, chicken, chili chicken, shrimp, curry – all would be delicious.

vegetarian and vegan if you don’t add meat, gluten-free with substitutions

Peanutty Fancy-Ish Ramen

1 pot instant ramen per person (any flavor will do, or sub rice noodles for gluten free – a little chicken or veggie bouillon would add some nice flavor if you are not using the flavor packet that comes with the noodles)

2 Tbsp. peanut butter (I used a low sugar variety)

1/4 c. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. sambal olek (chili garlic sauce)

2 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. honey (sub agave for vegan)

2 small scallions, sliced thinly

Frozen spinach

Optional: leftover ground chicken or beef, soft boiled egg, fish cakes, leftover fried tofu, or other additional protein source

Sesame seeds for garnish

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, sambal, sesame oil and honey in a small pot over low heat. Simmer, stirring, until well combined and beginning to thicken. If your heat is too high and this mixture dries out too much like mine did, add a Tablespoon or two of water, stir quickly to combine, and move off the heat for a second or so to cool down a bit.

While the sauce is working, add frozen spinach to the noodle pots and fill with boiling water. Let sit 3 minutes and drain.

Add the noodles to the pot with the sauce, along with scallions, any additional protein sources, and the seasoning packet. Stir well to combine and garnish with sesame seeds.

Serves 2

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

This dish takes the goodness that is buffalo chicken dip and brings it to the dinner table. It’s creamy, satisfying, and just a bit spicy. Yum.

gluten-free

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

4 servings your favorite pasta (I used rice fusilli)

Shredded chicken (I used rotisserie, about half a chicken)

3 ounces buffalo sauce (Franks Red Hot is the best IMHO; I used half garlic flavored and half regular)

5.5 ounces cream cheese (vegan or otherwise)

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if you’re using celery salt, make sure to taste before adding more salt)

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

Cook your pasta according to directions. Drain and add to a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.

Serves 4 for dinner