South of the Border for Peruvian Chicken

No wood-fired stove here, as we were so fond of seeing during our time in Mexico, where we had some of the tastiest chicken we have ever eaten; however, this is still quite good in the oven.  The chillier days that kept us indoors gave me a good excuse to cook, so as promised, here are a couple of our favorite recipes to whet your appetite.

Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

Many of my favorite recipes come from Cook’s Illustrated, which is where this recipe can be found.  And because I cannot leave well enough alone, I did modify this just a wee bit, using Serrano chilies with seeds included and chicken thighs only.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. fresh mint leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
  • 3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1 T. pepper
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 t. smoked paprika
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • 2 t. finely grated lime zest + 1/4 c. lime juice
  • 1 t. minced Habanero chile ( I used Serrano with seeds included)
  • 1 – 3.5-4 pound chicken (I used thighs with skin on)

Directions

  • Process all ingredients except chicken in blender.
  • Rub paste over and under skin of cleaned chicken.
  • Marinate chicken in fridge for at least 2 hours (more is better).
  • Roast chicken in 325º oven for ~ 45 minutes, until thigh meat registers 150º.
  • Turn oven temp to 500º and roast until thigh meat registers 175º, another 10-15 minutes.  Skin should be nice and crispy and golden.
  • Enjoy!

A great side dish with this meal is roasted butternut squash.  This is one of our favorites, for its ease and delicious flavors.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Herbes de Provence

IMG_4009

If you like butternut squash, and really who doesn’t , I think you are gonna love this!

Ingredients

  • 6 c. (1 1/2″) cubed peeled butternut squash (~ 2 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 t. dried herbes de provence
  • 3/4 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, cut into wedges

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Place above ingredients in shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray and toss well.
  • Bake at 425º for 30 min or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Yields 4 servings of ~ 1 cup each.
  • Prepare for your taste buds to do the happy dance!

Top this off with some sautéed garlicky greens and your favorite cocktail and life is definitely good! 🙂

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Healthy Comfort Food for a Chilly Night

Another week down and I am excited for the weekend as it means time to cook some healthy food, a passion of mine.  These are two of our favorite dishes, and with a chill in the air, this is good healthy comfort food.  I give you my version of Shira’s yummy coconut kale chickpea curry (her delicious recipe can be found here) and Naan (Indian flat bread).  Enjoy!

Coconut chickpea curry and naan - sooo yummy!
Coconut chickpea curry and Naan – sooo yummy!

Coconut Kale Chickpea Curry

  • 1/3-1/2 c. coconut oil (or olive oil if you prefer)
  • 1 T. cumin seeds
  • 1.5 c. finely chopped onions (~1 large yellow onion)
  • 1/3 c. sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1-1.5 tsp. salt
  • 4-5 T. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 finely chopped fresh Serrano peppers (I add the seeds for some kick.)
  • 4 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 small bunch scallions, chopped
  • 4 c. curly green kale, chopped fine
  • Heat oil in large pot on medium high for one minute.
  • Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds (the seeds will start to sizzle and become fragrant).
  • Add the chopped onions and continue to cook on medium high for about 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft and brown.
  • Add the tomatoes, pepper, ginger and salt, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the chickpeas and coconut milk and stir well. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to medium low;  keep the pot covered; and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • At the last minute, add the chopped scallions and kale and stir in well. Cook for one to two minutes further until the kale turns bright green.  Serve immediately.

Stove-Top Naan (makes 4-5)

We don’t consume much gluten anymore but this is one dish we just can’t resist.

  • 2+ c. flour  (I used 1.5 cups organic bread flour and 0.5 cups organic sprouted whole wheat flour.)
  • 1.5 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. raw sugar (I use Demerara)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 T. oil (I use coconut oil but you could use olive or a combination of coconut and olive)
  • 3 T. Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c. lukewarm water

Our topping of choice: black or white sesame seeds or combination

  • Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup lukewarm water and let it sit for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  • Combine together flours, salt, and baking powder and mix well.
  • Mix the oil and yogurt into the flour.
  • Add the water/yeast mixture and knead. Add a 1/4 cup water at a time to make into soft dough.
  • Knead for 5-6 minutes until smooth and non-sticky. Place in greased container; spritz top with oil; cover and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled.
  • After rising, knead the dough for a minute; use a little flour to help reduce stickiness; and divide the dough into 5 equal parts.
  • Take each piece of dough, one at a time; sprinkle with sesame seeds; and roll/shape into 8-inch oval shape. Dust lightly with flour to help with the rolling.

Take the remaining Naan along on a picnic, with some good aged cheese and a glass of red…muy delicioso! 🙂

 

 

Farm Update, Unwelcome Dinner Guests & a Refreshing Drink

The plants and seeds have all been lovingly placed into the earth, cared for like a mother attending to her newborn.  The cool weather garden, planted just after we arrived, has brought much delight to our palates, a variety of baby lettuces, spinach, and kale tantalizing our taste buds.  Yesterday our first tightly held broccoli head was removed and gingerly placed into the fridge, waiting to be savored.  We are also quite proud of our handmade recycled barn wood and wire fencing tomato stakes.  All things ‘green’ can be found in this section of the garden.

Bringing toxin-free vegetables from garden to table is something I am once again enjoying, if agonizing over a bit (ok, a lot) as the stress of too much rain and too little sun is seen in the yellowing leaves of the tomatoes and peppers.  We have painstakingly selected these heirloom varieties, with the thought of a fresh caprese salad in our future.  Hopefully Mother Nature will be kind and shine the warmth of her sun on us, gifting us with plump, juicy tomatoes and crunchy peppers.

Along with Mother Nature’s many ‘less than sunny’ faces, we have also had to contend with some unwelcome dinner guests.  Don’t you just abhor that, those who, unannounced, appear prepared for a meal?

I will admit to having a romanticized view of vampires, but the creepy little eight-legged insect discovered on the back of my neck after a long day toiling in the gardens was not welcome to taste of my blood!  Honestly I had not even considered the risk of ticks here in Ohio, but after Terry’s mother found two on her I photographed this ugly creature and sent him off to the “tick expert” in the state, who quickly responded with the identification of American dog tick.  Thankful that he was not the dreaded deer tick, carrier of Lyme disease, I wasn’t much happier to learn that he does carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever at times and that the tick population has exploded here in Ohio over the past decade.  So daily tick checks have been added to the agenda.

For the health of the garden, the cute, cuddly bunny, who seems to think this is home, is much more destructive.  She immediately discovered the carrots and collard greens and claimed them for her own.  I granted her that but when she moved on to sample mother’s beloved peas, something had to change, or according to mom, rabbit stew might be on the menu.  I opted instead for a couple of organic recipes to keep said ball of fur away.  We will see how that goes.

As for the squirrel population around here, the folks have been enjoying a game of ‘catch and release’ after Terry’s purchase of a cage.  These bushy-tailed little guys seem to annoy them more than anything else…go figure.

Although Mother Nature is toying with the vegetable garden, she is presenting some delightful bouquets, much ‘pretty in pink’ appearing in the flower beds.

And after a long hot day working in the garden (when the sun shines that is) ;), I have found a refreshing drink packed full of vitamins.  Given some of my earlier food posts, I can already imagine some of you turning up your noses.  For those more adventuresome, here it is:

Green Lemonade

2 handfuls of organic spinach

1 lemon, peeled and segmented

1 inch piece of fresh ginger root

1 diced pear

1/2 cup coconut water

Sweetener of your choice, if needed

Throw the above ingredients in a blender (a Blendtec works great!) and blend until smooth.  Add a little ice and blend on high until frothy or pour over ice.  Delicious!

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Oh So Yummy Chocolate Pudding

We would all like to think that chocolate pudding is good for us, but for the most part we would be fooling ourselves, said dessert being chock-full of bad fats and sugars.  How about a chocolate pudding that is really yummy and good for you, provided you don’t sit down and inhale the entire recipe yourself (everything in moderation, right?).  I think I may have stumbled upon something.

A mere six ingredients tossed into a blender or food processor result in the most velvety smooth chocolate pudding you may ever stick a spoon into.  Oh baby, this is sooo good!

paleo chocolate pudding

Check out the recipe for this fudgey rich chocolate pudding here.  It couldn’t get any easier than this.  Just toss the cocoa powder, avocado (yep, you read that right), honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt into the blender.  Spoon it into dessert cups, chill, and you and three of your most favorite friends will be indulging in gooey deliciousness in no time.  I like to top it off with my own whipped topping (heavy whipping cream and vanilla) and toasted unsweetened coconut.

NOTE:  Even those who do not like avocado should give this a whirl.  Seriously, you cannot taste the avocado.

Terry has never failed to lick the spatula, his fingers and mine (was that too much information?).  This dessert borders on an obsession with him.

Here are some of the health benefits you will be gaining, along with tantalizing your taste buds:

Cocoa powder ( I use the natural form and a heaping 1/2 cup at that)

  • rich in antioxidants
  • good source of magnesium
  • assists in the manufacture and function of insulin
  • helps flush out harmful toxins

Avocado

  • valuable source of monounsaturated fat
  • high fiber content
  • high in vitamins B, K, and E

Honey (I use organic raw honey and about 1/2 what the recipe calls for)

  • relieves seasonal allergies
  • supports good bacteria
  • improves sleep
  • antibiotic and antiviral properties

Coconut oil

  • Take a peek here for my earlier post on this wonder food.

Vanilla

  • weight loss aid
  • reduces anxiety and stress
  • helps with nausea

You know you want some, so get out in the kitchen and whip up a batch.  Your taste buds will love you for it. 🙂

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Feeding Body and Soul in San Diego, CA

Sunrise on a cloudy day

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.  ~ Albert Einstein

I love the early morning, that quiet time before the pace that takes over the rest of the day kicks in.  Today is my day to do sprints, a way for me to “shock” my body, taking it out of its normal routine and kicking up the cardio a bit.  I know this is not for everyone and some days my body seems to be asking me, “are you sure this is what you want to do?”, but after it’s over I feel invigorated, so for me 30 minutes once a week works.  Being on the beach is the perfect place to do this, a nice soft surface, a cool breeze, the pounding surf, and the salty air.  What could be better?  Ok, a nice gentle walk along the beach, but I digress.

All together now ~ surf’s up!

Exercise time is over so I kick off my shoes and walk back in the surf, another great resistance exercise for the old bod.  The water is a refreshing 64º, that ‘just right’ mix of a little gasp when the waves rush over your feet and that feeling of utter bliss when the tide pulls back again and the sand is running through your toes.

Brown pelicans in flight

This is my time for reflection, meditation by the water if you will, and at times I find my thoughts moving back through time to the beautiful, rugged Oregon coast where we spent a few months earlier this year, and thanks to Gunta and her amazing photography, I get my regular fix.  San Diego is equally as beautiful and we feel blessed to winter here.

Paddle boarder catchin’ a wave
Wipeout!

Today began with a mixture of clouds and sunshine.  Mother Nature seems unsure which direction she wants to head, enticing us with a little sun, then pulling the clouds back like a nightshade, bringing a little chill to the air.  Whichever she decides, it looks to be a glorious day with temps around 70º.

Kelp~the sea’s gift to the shorebirds

My walk back has me jumping over large masses of seaweed which the ocean has presented as a gift for waiting shorebirds.  There are a large number of kelp beds off-shore near San Elijo State Beach and what may be viewed as large buggy masses to us is a veritable feast for these birds, and the kelp beds themselves are recognized as one of the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth.  Everything has its place in the world…perfect harmony.

Back at the RV, time for some breakfast of my own. Today I’ll share with you one of many smoothie recipes I throw together.  We like to get most of our carbs from vegetables, the green leafy kind being most dominant but berries just cannot be beat blended into a smoothie and are oh-so-yummy!  Here is what was on the menu today, should you be so inclined to whip yourself up one of these ice-cold treats.

Bluff along the beach.

Berry-Spinach Smoothie

(use organic ingredients when possible~makes 2 large drinks)

2 c. frozen mixed berries

1 c. water

1 scoop protein powder

3 large handfuls spinach

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 avocado

1 T. flaxseed oil or ground meal

Blend and enjoy!

Mother Nature has spoken; looks like another warm sunny day in paradise.  I hope wherever you are, even if the sun isn’t shining, you are having a marvelous Saturday.  Now off to work I go with a very big smile on my face.

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