Tarragon chicken breasts, cauliflower puree and beet salad

The plates were literally licked clean last night. There wasn’t a speck of food left, even after second rounds. THAT is how good dinner was last night.

The family and I are going to Hawaii next month and are dead set on eating healthily until that trip. We were a bit bad this last month with birthday cake here, homemade banana pumpkin bread there, pizza here, a sando there. It is time to get back on the saddle!

Ingredients:

Chicken

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt/pepper
  • tarragon
  • chickpea flour

Cauliflower Puree

  • one head of white cauliflower
  • two cups of chicken stock
  • salt/pepper
  • one teaspoon dried rosemary
  • one teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • butter
  • one medium red onion

Beet salad

  • five roasted beets (I prefer Love Beets)
  • two clementines
  • heaping handful of baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup of feta
  • balsamic dressing of your choosing

Getting started on this dinner was a bit of a struggle. I couldn’t decide on anything. But I also didn’t want to have to go back out to the grocery store. I knew we had chicken breasts, I knew we had cauliflower…and that was ALL I knew. I had made roasted cauliflower just the night before so I didn’t want to cook the same thing. Then I remembered cauliflower puree…god’s gift to those that don’t want to eat mashed potatoes (I think I even like the cauliflower ones more). I got working on those because they take a bit longer than everything else. I could figure out the rest while the cauli was cooking down. I also forgot to get a picture. Oops!

I don’t make my cauli puree the same was as most people. I pull out my cuisinart FIRST and shred the cauliflower using the shredding disc. From there I put the shredded cauliflower into a large, high sided pan, add salt and pepper, and mix in the two cups of chicken stock. I turn the heat to med/high and stir frequently. I cook this until the liquid is mostly absorbed into the cauliflower. This is a good time to peel and chop your red onion and prepare the chicken (more on that below).  Once the stock is absorbed I add the rosemary and thyme. I cook that for a few minutes and then stir in the parmesan. Once that is mixed well, I pour (in two batches) the cauliflower back into the cuisinart (now with the regular chopping blade) and whir until smooth. I set it aside in a bowl and cook the rest of the food. Back in the pan where I cooked the cauliflower, I pour a tiny bit of olive oil and a add a pat of butter. When that sizzles (should be quick with the hot pan), add in the red onion. Turn the stove to medium/low. The key to this recipe is browning the red onion while still keeping it soft. When cooked to your desired crispiness, stir it into the cauliflower puree.

The chicken couldn’t be easier. Pound out the chicken to equal thickness. Salt and pepper the top and wait a few minutes. Then sprinkle on a thin layer of tarragon and spoon on a thin layer of chickpea flour. Rub the tarragon and chickpea flour gently into the top of the chicken breast. Don’t worry about the bottom side. You don’t want to flip the chicken to season the other side because the chickpea flour will become a paste.

When the cauliflower and the onion are finished, add a bit more oil/butter to the bottom of the pan and, once sizzling, put your chicken breasts into the pan, chickpea flour side down. While that cooks (on medium), repeat the seasoning process on the other side of the chicken breast in the pan. Flip when the chicken becomes opaque on the bottom. Cook the chicken to 165degrees.

While the chicken cooks, cut up five beets into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel two clementines and slice horizontally. Chop the spinach into bite size pieces. All all of the above and the feta into a bowl. Toss with a dressing of your choice (Hubs makes a super simple, kick ass creamy balsamic that paired well with this — balsamic vinegar, olive oil, plain yogurt, mustard, lemon, salt and pepper).

This whole meal was filling, spectacular (if I do say so myself) and had no offending starches (potatoes, flour, etc).

Chicken tikka masala with cauli-rice, kale and red onion

Ever since I “discovered” cauliflower rice, I’ve been on a “I used to eat this with real rice and couldn’t imagine it without it” kick. Foods that needed to sop up the sauce, in particular. Or foods that need the bulk of rice to finish out the meal. Or, in the case with last night’s dinner, foods that have a little kick and can use some “rice” to temper the heat.

A few months ago I stumbled upon a tikka masala simmer sauce that didn’t use coconut and I just about ran out of the store with it to get it into my belly. And it is delicious. I couldn’t recommend Maya Kaimal’s Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce more. 

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People: Buy this. It has a good balance of spice and savory-ness. And it really couldn’t be easier.

Behold! Chicken tikka masal over cauli-rice with kale and red onion!

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Ingredients:

  • Maya Kaimal’s Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce
  • Three small chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • Half of a red onion
  • One head of cauliflower
  • Handful of kale
  • Tumeric
  • Salt/pepper

 

Put one teaspoon of salt into a bowl of hot water and mix until the salt dissolves. Cut the chicken into one inch cubes and add it to the water to brine. Let it sit while you prepare the cauliflower. 

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and chop the entirety of the cauliflower into smallish pieces. Cut the stem into one centimeter pieces. In a cuisinart and in small batches, pulse the cauliflower until it it resembles the consistency of rice. Don’t keep on pulsing if there are a few larger pieces. Take those out and add them to the next small batch. You don’t want to make the pieces too small or it becomes more like mashed potatoes (also delicious, but not what you are going for). 

You will use two saute pans for this meal. Have them set up side by side on your stove as once you start cooking, it will go quickly. 

Cut the onion into thin, two inch pieces. Saute them in a bit of olive oil until they are starting to soften and char (we like our onions on the crispier side so will leave them longer than you probably will). 

Chop the kale leaves (after removing the spines) into TINY pieces…almost a mince. You want the kale to intermingle with the rice, not overtake it. Once the onions are ready, add the kale and a bit more olive oil.

Meanwhile, heat up a bit of olive oil in the other pan and drain the chicken and pat with paper towels to dry. Add salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and brown on one side.

While the chicken browns, add the “riced” cauliflower to the pan with the onions and kale. Heat should be on medium. Mix the cauli-rice, kale and onions together and sprinkle tumeric across the top. Then add salt and pepper to taste. I usually put in a bit more salt that usual on this dish. Mix it all up and let it sit while you tend to the chicken. It should look like this:

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Flip the chicken to the other side and brown for a short time. Pop the top on the simmer sauce, put it back on and shake. When the second side of the chicken is starting to turn opaque, pour the entirety of the simmer sauce over the chicken. Turn the heat to medium low (depending on your stove) to a low simmer and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

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Keep on turning the cauli-rice to make sure all of it is heated through and keep it over low heat while the chicken simmers. Pour yourself a drink. Set the table.

Add hefty amount of the cauli-rice to a bowl and cover with the chicken tikka masala. Pour on extra sauce if that is to your liking. I like to mix it all up so that the cauli-rice covers the chicken.

I always have to make more of this than I think because EVERYONE wants second helpings. It is delicious.

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Salmon Wasabi “Rice” Bowl

There is this meal, this dish, that Hubs and I have craved since we started this journey but haven’t yet indulged. This dish is so delicious that my mouth taste it just thinking about it. It is sweet and crunchy and savory and spicy and ultimately filling. It is the Pacific Catch Salmon Wasabi Rice Bowl. And until I discovered cauliflower rice a few weeks ago (and have since been obsessed) did I even consider it an option. 

Ingredients

The Salmon & Marinade

  • Salmon (skin off…though it would be good with skin too)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Fish Sauce
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Sesame Seeds

The Rest of It

  • One Head of Cauliflower (though I maybe would do more if more than 2 people)
  • Sesame Oil (two parts)
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Pea shoots (I got mine at Trader Joes)
  • Seaweed Salad (I actually couldn’t find it after two stores so used a kale and seaweed salad that I found at our health food store)
  • Avocado
  • Persian Cucumbers
  • sliced ginger

The Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi

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It all comes together pretty quickly once you have finished with the cauliflower rice which you could do ahead of time to save “dinner” prep time. 

Marinate the salmon in soy sauce (a few splashes), about a tablespoon of brown sugar, a few splashes of fish sauce and salt/pepper to taste. Let it sit while you prepare you cauliflower rice (or for about 15 minutes). 

Preheat the oven to 350.

To make cauliflower rice, cut the leaves off of the head of cauliflower and cut the entirety of the cauliflower into two inch pieces. In a cuisinart, pulse (in a few batches so that the already chopped pieces don’t get too small) the cauliflower until it is the size of “rice”. I actually don’t go that small. I leave a few 1/2 inch chunks. In a saucepan, heat on medium a teaspoon of sesame oil and a tablespoon of grapeseed oil. Once glistening, put in the grated cauliflower, add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is warmed through. Put it aside in a bowl.

Put a bit more sesame oil and grapeseed oil in the pan and, again, heat until glistening. On the top of the salmon, shake on a layer of sesame seeds. Put that side down on the hot pan and cook for two minutes. While that side is cooking, sprinkle the other side with sesame seeds. Flip the fish after two minutes and cook two minutes more on the other side. Have ready a 1/4 pan lined with tin foil. After the second side is cooked, transfer the fish to the pan, drizzle on the remaining marinade and put in the oven for 5ish minutes (depends on your oven). The fish is done when it is slightly firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, plate the rest of the ingredients: Put the “rice” in a deep bowl. On top of that put a small bunch of the pea sprouts in one area, a scoop of the kale/seaweed salad in another area, the cucumbers sliced into thin strips in another area and the avocado in slices in the last area. Then whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Adjust as needed for taste (a bit of bite is good as it soaks into the cauliflower rice and other ingredients). 

When the salmon is finished, place it on top of the other ingredients and then dress the bowl with the wasabi dressing and a few slices of ginger. And that is it! We devoured it. The salmon was tangy, the greens balanced well with the sweet and salty of the fish and the “rice” really worked! I honestly wouldn’t have known the difference.

 

Juiciest turkey burgers with white sauce and pureed cauliflower “buns”

I got a bee in my bonnet to cook up some of my, IMHO, delicious turkey burgers. This would have been the first time I would do it without starch so it was going to take some modification. First off, I needed a “bun”. Of course one could eat a turkey burger with a knife and a fork…but really? Isn’t that just a big, flattened meatball?

So the bun. I’ve made “bread” from left-over “pizza dough” before so I thought I would go with a variation of that. Because I wasn’t using any panko in the burgers (which usually is how I keep them moist), I decided to try something new. Mushrooms. MUSHROOMS! It was a genius idea, I must say. These were fantastic. As I was cooking up the burgers, I had a strong urge to make tzatziki. Alas, when I pulled out the big ol’ tub of yogurt, moldy and almost empty. YUCK! So when I dug into the fridge I came up with a winning combo of flavors for a tasty white sauce (I’m not sure how else to term it) that took only 2 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

The turkey

  • Package of ground turkey thigh meat
  • Half large red shallot
  • One cup of dry porcini mushrooms
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh parsley
  • Chia seeds
  • Ground flax seed
  • Two tablespoons of sumac, separated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • One pat of butter, chopped

The bun

  • One head of cauliflower
  • Two large eggs
  • Chia seeds
  • Ground flax
  • One cup of feta cheese

The white sauce

  • Two heaping tablespoons of cream cheese
  • Two heaping tablespoons of feta cheese
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  • One teaspoon of sumac
  • 1/4 cup of white or rosé wine
  • Five cherry tomatoes chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and put a silpat on a large cookie sheet. Cut the florets off of the cauliflower and puree in a cuisinart. Move the cauliflower to a mixing bowl. Add a sprinkle of chia seeds and about two tablespoons of ground flax. Mix in the feta and the eggs and mix until evenly coated. Spread the cauliflower mixture onto the silpat and make sure all points are of even thickness…about 1/2″ thick. If it isn’t even, the thinner parts will burn.  Put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. (Note: I had made demarcations similar to bread for sandwiches to make it easier to cut later…this was not smart. I should have let it cook as a whole and then used a circular cookie cutter to make round, bun like shapes…they didn’t “fit” the burgers very well.)

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Put the dry mushrooms into the cuisinart and pulse until they are finely chopped (think 1/4″ pieces). Add enough hot water to cover the mushrooms and let them sit in that water until everything else for the turkey burgers is completed. In a mixing bowl (I used the same bowl as the cauliflower mix, just quickly rinsed) put the ground turkey, salt and pepper, a sprinkling of chia seeds (about a teaspoon), two tablespoons of flax seed, the chopped oregano and parsley, two tablespoons of sumac, a few healthy shakes of Worcestershire sauce, the finely chopped shallot and the pat of butter (chopped).

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When the mushrooms seem saturated, put then in a strainer over the sink and push them until the extra water is pushed out.

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When drained, add to meat and mix gently by hand.

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Form into patties and set aside until you are ready to cook them.

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(I made an itty bitty one for my daughter to try. Next time I would do a bunch of these and throw them in the freezer for an easy dinner for the kids)

Make sure you are checking on the “buns”. When the top is browning (like below), take them out. They get “harder” when they cool. Don’t forget to turn them a few times if you have a fickle oven like myself. 

Image(This would be a good time to cut them into the circular shapes…which is what I would have done, had I been smarter)

Either while the turkey burgers are cooking or now, you can make the sauce. Couldn’t be easier. Grab a fork and a microwavable cereal bowl. Fork in a few dollops of cream cheese, a healthy shake of feta, a teaspoon of sumac and a few sprigs of chopped parsley and mix them with a fork. Pop them into the microwave for 15 seconds. Add a splash of wine (more if you like it thinner, less if you want to keep it thick) and the chopped cherry tomatoes (and their juices), mash with the fork and then pop back in the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir it up and a bit, et voila! 

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Cook the burger either on the grill or in a saute pan as you would any burger. I cook these on a bit lower heat (low-medium) turning when the first side is browned and then, when the second side is browning, I test the temp with an instaread thermometer, taking them off the heat when they hit 160.

For my veg last night I simply steamed a large batch of broccolini . The picture below doesn’t do justice to the how absolutely DELICIOUS this was. I think this would have been better with a round “bun”…or with some fresh spinach with the burger. But really flavorful and juicy.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

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This was up there as one of the best things I have ever cooked. M and I had been seriously missing Sunday Night Pizza and were about to cheat and order some in. And then I remembered cauliflower crust. Add our favorite toppings and…VOILA!

The crust:

  • One head of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Handful of shredded mozzarella
  • Tspn of oregano
  • 3 tablespoons of ground flax seed

Preheat oven to 450. Cut florets off of the cauliflower and run through cuisinart until riced. Move to bowl. Add flax, oregano and cheese. Add two beaten eggs and mix well.

Put parchment paper in cookie sheet and fold over edges (make sure there is enough hanging over the edge to lift it later). Spray with cookie spray. Pour mixture onto sheet and distribute evenly. Press down all over. Put into oven and cook for 20 minutes or until browned all over and pulling away from edge. Remove and set aside (still in pan). Keep oven on.

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Topping:

  • Chopped rotisserie chicken
  • Frozen spinach
  • Marinara sauce
  • Rest of mozzarella

While crust is cooking, chop rotisserie chicken into 1x2cm pieces. prepare chopped spinach by adding 1/4 cup water in pot, letting it boil, warming spinach, and drain by squeezing spinach thoroughly.

When crust comes out, spoon some warm marinara sauce onto the crust (I kept my sauce thin but up to you). Add chopped chicken throughout. Then spinach. Then mozz. Put it back in the oven, turn on the oven light and keep an eye on it and cook until mozzarella is golden and bubbly.

Remove from oven and transfer entire pizza using parchment paper. Cut and serve. The crust held up well enough to be held to eat.