Pozole-ish

If you’re reading this, I’m hoping the title of the post piqued your interest, or maybe you thought it was one giant typo. But it’s not.

My poor hubby has a cold, which in man world means that he is near death. He requested soup for dinner, and I immediately though of pozole, which is a traditional Mexican stew. Two of Miguel’s grandparents are from Mexico, and I would have thought pozole was a typo if not for his family.

Traditional pozole is made with pork and hominy. (In case you don’t know, hominy is a type Pozoleof corn, which has a firm texture and nutty taste. It is available in canned form in most major supermarkets.) The broth is made from dried ancho chiles. Traditional forms of pozole take upwards of 5 hours to put together plus a trip to a specialty market for dried chiles, never mind the less-than-lean cuts of pork. So I decided to put my own spin on this comforting stew, hence the name: pozole-ish. Instead of hours, this took 1 hour total from the moment I started prepping the ingredients to when we were sitting down to eat.

Pozole-ish (serves 4)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp adobo sauce (Look for chiles in adobo sauce carried in most major supermakets. Adobo sauce does have a bit ofa bite, so add as much or as little as you’d like.)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 30 oz can of hominy, drained and rinsed

Toppings:

  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 avocados
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped fine
  • 4 tortillas (or store bought tortilla chips)

Preheat the oven to 400˚ for your tortilla chips before you start the stew.

Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts liberally with salt and fresh cracked pepper. When the pan is good and hot, brown the chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Set the chicken aside on a paper towel lined plate.

Leave the pan on medium-high heat and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes, trying to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add both cans of diced tomatoes and return the chicken breasts to the pan. Cover with the 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, cut 4 tortillas in to thin strips, toss with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and spead out in one layer on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake the tortillas until starting to brown and cripsy, about 5-7 minutes. Alternatively, you can buy store bought tortilla chips.

Remove the cooked chicken from the pan. Using two forks, shred both chicken breasts. UsePozole one fork to hold the chicken breast in place and use the other to pull the meat apart. Return the shredded chicken to the pan, and add the adobo sauce, bay leaf, oregano, and hominy. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes.

While the stew simmers, prep your toppings. When the stew is done, season with about a teaspoon of salt. Ladle portions of your stew in to bowls, and top with cabbage, avocado, tortilla chips and radish as you’d like.

 

 

 

 

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Pasta with Sausage, Brussels Sprouts & White Bean Purée

This recipe was actually inspired by my father-in-law. My father-in-law is an amazing cook, Whole wheat pasta with sausages, brussels sprouts and white bean puréeand fortunately for me, my husband, Miguel, grew up cooking with his dad. Basically, their family is the reason I have grown to love food and cooking the way that I do.

Before I met Miguel, I was a very limited in what I would eat. I used to say I didn’t like certain foods before I had even tried it. My family still likes to give me a hard time that there was a good decade where all I would eat was chicken. Miguel reminds me that for our first date back in the day, I chose an “Italian” restaurant where they served gummy bears on the table when you sat down. I know. So needless to say, not very authentic Italian food.

But he started cooking for me, and not wanting to not seem like a wuss for my new boyfriend, I would try those things. And gradually it was like there was a whole new world before me, as completely cheesy as it sounds. I remember the first meal he made for me was grilled salmon and basil pesto, but he made the pesto himself. I distinctly remember thinking, “You can make pesto?” Jeez. But here I am, making pesto and coming up with my own recipes–mostly without chicken!

My father-in-law often used to make a similar recipe, though the details are a little fuzzy. It IMG_0239had a white bean purée, fresh rosemary and some sausage, the rest I improvised. I wanted to spend little to no time cooking dinner (It took me four hours in the afternoon to make my mom’s birthday cake–HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!), so this is what I came up with.

This recipe served the 2 of us comfortably, but Miguel eats more than any human being I have ever known, so it would probably feed 3 normal eating people.

  • 1.5 lb brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 mild Italian sausages (I used Fra’Mani sausages because they are hormone free, blah blah blah)
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat fusili pasta (I have discovered Community Grains whole wheat pasta, which is the best whole wheat pasta I have tasted. The texture is almost like fresh pasta! It’s not cheap, but worth it.)
  • 15 oz canned cannellini beans
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Put your halved brussels sprouts in a 13” x 9” baking dish, coat with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper (Be careful not to add too much salt as sausages are already very salty.) Cut your Italian sausages into 1/2” pieces and add to the pan with the brussels sprouts. Put in the pre-heated oven and set to cook for about 20 minutes, or until the brussels spouts are golden brown.

While the brussels sprouts cook, fill a medium saucepan with water and set to boil. Cook whatever pasta you choose according to the directions on the package.

While the water boils, drain and rinse the cannellini beans, and put in a food processor along with the lemon zest and garlic. Turn on the food processor until a thick purée forms. With the motor running, drizzle in about 1/2 c. of extra virgin olive oil to thin out the mixture. Remove the fresh rosemary needles by pinching the thin end of the sprig, running your fingers towards the thicker end, pulling the needles down and off the sprig. Finely chop the rosemary. Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the rosemary until fragrant, about a minute or two, before adding the white bean purée and turning the heat to down to low just to warm up the bean purée before adding it to your pasta.

Drain the pasta, and place in a large bowl. Top with the roasted brussels sprouts and sausage. Add about 1 c. of the white bean purée, or more if you like your pasta a little creamier. (Any leftovers could be good as a dip for pita chips!) Enjoy!

Coq Au Vin

“Life for the Italians was what it was, no more and no less, an interlude between meals.” -Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone

When I was a kid, my mom taught me that you dress up to show respect for an Mirepoixoccasion. No, this isn’t a post about my visceral reaction to leaving the house in sweatpants, but rather how this lesson has translated to my meals. Odds are, when you’re spending time with friends or family, you’re sharing a meal together. And if that meal is on a holiday, hours and hours were probably spent planning, prepping and cooking that meal. Those meals are the bookmarks of our lives. So when it comes time to preparing meals for loved ones, spending time thinking about what I’m going to cook and cooking that meal (usually biting off more than I can chew, no pun intended), is a way of showing respect for the fact that someone is taking time out of their busy life to spend time together. I put love in to that meal.

Last friday, my husband and I had his sister and her boyfriend over for dinner. It’s not everyCoq au Vin day we get to spend time together, her boyfriend had never seen our new house, and hell it was a Friday, so I wanted to make something special. And since I’ve become obsessed with all things Parisian after our trip to Paris last spring, coq au vin, chicken braised in red wine sauce, seemed like the logical choice. I spent hours prepping and braising this delicious dish, listening to my Edith Piaf Pandora station, putting love in to this meal. I had a great time, and we had a wonderful evening.

As I said, this meal is not a weeknight meal. But if you’re willing to put in the time, the effort is well worth it. Note: Make sure the bacon you choose isn’t overly smoky, or it will overwhelm the red wine sauce you spent so much time making!

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 6 skin-on, bone-in whole chicken legs (thigh & drumstick)
  • 12 oz. bacon, cut in to 1/2” pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bottle red wine, such as Burgundy (I used a Côtes du Rhone)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme & a few sprigs of fresh rosemary tied together with butcher’s twine
  • 1 lb. assorted mushrooms chopped in to bite sized pieces (I used mostly baby oyster mushrooms & a few cremini mushrooms because that what was available but you could go wild here)

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Liberally season your chicken legs with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive olive over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven (or other large ovenproof pot). Brown your chicken legs on both sides, two at a time, until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.

After you finish browning the chicken, add the bacon to the pot and cook until rendered. Add celery, carrots and onion and cook until soft and the onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add 1/4 of the bottle of red wine and the tomato paste, stir to release all the browned goodness from the bottom of the bot and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the remainder of your bottle of red wine and simmer until the red wine is reduced by about half, 15-20 minutes.

Returned browned chicken to the pot, add your fresh herbs, and add chicken broth. Cover and bring to boil. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise for 1 1/4 hours.

When your chicken is almost done braising, bring a large sauté pan to medium heat. I can’t remember where I learned this now, but someone taught me to add your mushrooms to a dry pan, allow them to release a little of their own moisture first and then add olive oil. They get less greasy when cooking, I swear, no one knows why or maybe I just can’t remember. Cook the mushrooms until browned, about 10 minutes.

Remove your Dutch oven from the oven (be careful, it’s HOT!). Add the mushrooms to the chicken, and simmer the sauce until reduced by about 1/3, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Be careful not season the sauce before it reduces, or it could get overly salty and peppery. Bon appétit!

Apple & Barley Salad

I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe because I didn’t think it was “fancy”enough. But Arugula salad, Apple, Barleythen I realized this blog isn’t supposed to be about only “fancy” recipes, but my everyday journey trying to eat healthy and not spending my life in the kitchen trying to do so. What does fancy mean anyways?? So here we are.

When I’m not working, I like to make different things for lunch. Ideas can be hard to come by so I’m always looking for inspiration. In this case, inspiration came while in the check out at Whole Foods. I noticed a banner hanging from the ceiling above me with a picture of barley and apples, or something like that. So I decided to add a couple things and turn it in to a salad. I make this lunch for myself often, and although un-fancy, it’s always super easy and delicious.

  • 1/2 apple diced (I use Braeburn or Honey Crisp, but any kind of apple will do)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup barley (I use Mother’s quick cooking barley for this recipe, but you can use regular barley just the same)
  • 1 medium shallot diced
  • 2 big handfuls of arugula

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the barley, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until tender, which will only be about 10 minutes if you use quick cooking barley. If you’re using regular barley, it will take a bit longer, about 30 minutes. Once the barley is cooked, dump in to a strainer and rinse with cold water to cool.

While the barley cooks, add your arugula, apple, shallot, and pine nuts to a bowl. Add the cooled barley to the bowl. To make your dressing, whisk the olive oil, apple cider vinegar and thyme together in a small bowl. Pour over your salad and toss to coat. Enjoy!

(And I realize I said I would post the recipe from my beet salad but the picture is completely un-appetizing, so I’m going to make it again at some point and hope to get a better picture.)