Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Savory, rich, and full flavored chicken thighs simmered with a few key ingredients — just what I wanted on a rainy evening.

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Fresh garlic and diced red tomatoes combine with warm herbes de Provence and Parmesan rind to create the perfect simmer sauce for chicken thighs.  Parmesan rinds are just that — the hard outer edge of my wedges of Parmesan cheese.  I save them in bags in the freezer and bring out pieces to add wonderful umami to broth or simmer sauces.

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and Herbes de Provence

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and herbes de Provence

I consider this a pantry dish, as the ingredients are either shelf stable, or in my freezer.  Serve this warming dish with crusty bread or polenta.  Enjoy!

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence
(serves 4)

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 TB olive oil
2 tsp herbes de Provence
Parmesean rind piece
Sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, more if needed)

Heat covered sauté pan over medium heat.  When pan is warm, add olive oil, crushed garlic, and sauté just for a few seconds.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.  Check toward the end of the simmer time to be sure the sauce isn’t getting too dry.  Add a bit of white wine or water to add moisture if needed.

Smoky Quinoa and Lentils

Earthy red quinoa and french green lentils taste amazing with sweet ripe tomatoes and a smoky lemon dressing.

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Smoky Quinoa and Lentils

The magic making these simple foods extra delicious is smoked paprika.  I developed this recipe to inspire a friend looking for good lunch ideas.  This one works nicely — it’s best at room temp, protein packed, super tasty, and portable.  It also is an easy make-ahead dish.

simple lemon dressing featuring smoked paprika

simple lemon dressing featuring smoked paprika

french green lentils, tomatoes, red quinoa, and lemon

french green lentils, tomatoes, red quinoa, and lemon

Add a piece of fruit and lunch is served!  Also fabulous over a bed of greens for a dinner entree.  Enjoy!  (for Barbara)

Smoky Quinoa and Lentils
(makes 4-5 generous servings)

1 cup french green lentils
1 cup red quinoa
3 medium ripe red tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup toasted pepitas

For the Smoky Lemon Dressing:
6 TB extra virgin olive oil
3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Make the smoky lemon dressing by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and sea salt.  Set aside.

Cook the green lentils:  rinse the lentils, then place in medium covered sauce pan with 3  cups water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still firm.  Drain and place in a bowl.

Cook the red quinoa:  First, rinse the quinoa.  It is important to wash off the bitter saponins that are a natural part of the seed coat.  I place the dry quinoa in a bowl, cover with cool water, swish around a couple of times, then drain in to a fine mesh colander.  Place rinsed quinoa into a sauce pan, add 1 1/3 cups fresh water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender but still has bite, and the water has been absorbed.

When the cooked lentils and quinoa are cooled to room temp, combine with the tomatoes and smoky lemon dressing.  Just before serving, add the pepitas.

 

California Poached Eggs

Eggs poached in a flavorful, tomato-based simmer sauce is found in many cuisines around the globe.

Eggs poached with tomatoes and chilis

California Poached Eggs

My recipe has a California flavor — adding fresh cilantro, tangy green chilis, and creamy avocado to keep it west coast.
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Suitable for dinner, lunch, or breakfast, this fast tangy/creamy dish wins for taste, nutrition, and frugality.  Make ahead tip: prep the sauce when you have some free time, store in a jar in the fridge, then finish by heating the sauce and poaching the eggs right before serving.  Faster than take out — and way tastier.  Enjoy!

California Poached Eggs
(serves two for dinner)

2 TB olive oil
onion, 1/2 cup small dice
diced tomatoes, 14 oz can
diced green chilis, 4 oz can
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder (add more if you like it spicy)
sea salt
4 eggs (may add up to two more eggs if desired)
cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped
one avocado, diced

Heat wide frying pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and onions, and saute for a couple minutes.  Add the tomatoes, chilis, garlic, chipotle powder, and some salt.  Stir and simmer the sauce for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste for salt, and adjust if needed.  Gently add each egg to the simmering sauce, being sure to leave space between each egg.

eggs just beginning to simmer in the tomato and chili sauce

eggs just beginning to simmer in the tomato and chili sauce

Cover the pan and simmer on low for about 7 minutes, or until the whites of the eggs have changed from clear to white.  I like the egg yolks to be a little runny, but you may prefer yours on the firm side.  Just simmer for a little longer to desired firmness for the eggs.  Garnish with diced avocado and cilantro.  Serve with toast or warmed corn tortillas.

Kefir Panna Cotta with Cardamom Plums

This is the fourth panna cotta recipe on this blog, and one I am delighted with.

Kefir Panna Cotta with Cardamom Plums

Kefir Panna Cotta with Cardamom Plums

I used tart, creamy kefir as the main dairy ingredient, and lowfat milk to keep the flavors light and focused.  I modified my buttermilk panna cotta recipe, substituting  kefir for the buttermilk.  I topped this light and refreshing panna cotta with red ripe Santa Rosa plums, macerated with sugar and scented with ground cardamom.  Altogether, a terrific summer dessert.  Enjoy!

Kefir Panna Cotta with Cardamom Plums
(makes 5 – 6 servings)

1 cup lowfat milk
1 1/2 cups kefir (plain, unsweetened)
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
5 or 6  fresh plums, pitted and sliced
3 TB sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom

First, soften the gelatin. Put the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. It should soak up the water in a couple minutes. Stir to make sure the gelatin is all moistened.

Next, heat milk in microwave or on the stove until hot but not boiling, then remove from heat and skim off protein layer that will form as a natural result of the heating. Stir in the sugar and the softened gelatin until both are completely dissolved into the milk. Cool the milk mixture to lukewarm. (lukewarm is the best temp as kefir may separate if it gets warm when adding it to the milk)

Add 1 1/2 cups cold kefir and stir to combine. Pour into individual serving glasses and tuck them into the fridge. Chill until set. This will take as little as an hour or two.

Just before serving, slice the plums and toss with the remaining 3 TB sugar and the cardamom.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes to dissolve sugar. Then top the kefir panna cotta with the sweetened, spiced plums.   Enjoy!

Sunshine Hash

This delicious entree pairs butternut squash and potatoes with warm spices and fresh orange — for a smile of the sun even if the weather is gloomy outside.

Sunshine Hash

Sunshine Hash

Beautiful oranges are in season right now, and their gentle sweetness combines nicely with the smoked paprika, cinnamon and cumin to coax a smile from most anyone in the kitchen.  This dish easily pairs with either chicken breast or tofu to satisfy all eaters.  Added bonus — fabulous leftovers for a quick, warm lunch.  Enjoy!

Sunshine Hash

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR 12 oz extra firm tofu, cut into chunks
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
one large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of two oranges
sea salt
1 TB smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (optional – if you like spice)

If you are using chicken breast in this recipe, start by sautéing the chicken chunks until almost cooked through with a TB of oil in a large covered frying pan.  Remove chicken to a plate, and set aside.

To the pan in which you just cooked the chicken, add 3 TB oil and onions.  Sauté for 3 minutes, then add the potato and squash chunks.  Sauté for a couple minutes then add the orange juice, 1 tsp. sea salt and spices.  Cover and simmer for several minutes.  Stir and check every few minutes, making sure to avoid burning the potatoes and squash.

When the potatoes and squash are almost tender, add the chicken chunks or tofu.   Sauté for several more minutes uncovered, or until all the various pieces of potatoes, squash and chicken/tofu are cooked through and there isn’t too much moisture from the oranges in the pan.  At any time in the cooking you can always add a bit of water if it’s getting too dry and beginning to burn.

When cooked through, adjust seasoning and serve.

Lime Chipotle Slaw

If you’re getting some beautiful cabbages in your CSA box, or spy some nice ones in the produce market, I have a great winter salad – a fresh twist on coleslaw.

Lime Chipotle Slaw

Lime Chipotle Slaw

I make this one with tart lime juice and spicy chiptole powder.  It’s crunchy and tangy — and perfect with grilled fish or chicken.  Enjoy!

chipotle, mayo, cabbage, and lime

chipotle, mayo, cabbage, and lime

Lime Chipotle Slaw

1 LB cabbage
1 lime, zest and juice
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise

Slice the cabbage fine.  I use the 4mm slicing blade on my food processor.  Juice and zest the lime.  Mix all ingredients and serve.  For a make-ahead salad, just mix all ingredients except cabbage.  Dress shredded cabbage just before serving.

Beef Braised with Tomatoes

When the days shorten and nights lengthen, my attention turns to braises.  Deeply flavored and nutritionally dense, tomatoes and beef are a happy combination in this easy to make dish.

Beef Braised with Tomatoes

Beef Braised with Tomatoes

Beef Braised with Tomatoes is my go-to recipe when I want a savory slow braised boneless chuck roast.  The holy trinity of tomatoes, onions, and garlic are perfumed by herbes de provence, all of which supports big meaty chunks of boneless chuck roast*.

beef, tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices

beef, tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices

I serve this with creamy polenta, a green salad, and a full bodied red wine for a cozy meal on a wintery evening.  This makes fabulous leftovers, and is also a great choice to make in advance for a dinner party.  Enjoy!

Beef Braised with Tomatoes

2.5 – 3 LB boneless chuck roast
2 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 TB olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup red wine
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes
1 TB herbes de provence
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

Cut the boneless beef roast into large cubes, about 2 inches on a side.

Heat a large covered pot on medium high until warm.  Add beef chunks and allow to brown on one side before turning each.  When two sides of chunks are browned, add onion and garlic and saute for a few more minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.   Then cover, and simmer on low for two hours, or until beef is tender but not falling apart.  Taste for salt and adjust seasoning.  Serve in shallow bowls over a serving of creamy polenta, or with crusty bread.  Drizzle with your best quality extra virgin olive oil before serving for extra flavor.

*Whether or not to eat beef is an important question to ask — and answer — for each of us.  I believe that humanely raised grass finished beef is the way to go when I do buy this costly meat.