Achiote Roasted Chicken

Posted in Dinner, Fit for Sunday, Poultry, Recipes by Ingredient

Achiote Roasted Chicken

Oh, man – man, oh, man, oh, man. First of all, there’s nothing better than a warm, juicy, roasted chicken on a cold winter day. It’s a staple in my house, but I also got a little sick of your standard roasted chicken and decided that it was time to mix things up a bit. At the time, I had a craving for Peruvian style chicken, which is probably where the inspiration for this recipe came from (but, don’t be fooled – the end result tasted nothing like it, but it certainly fulfilled my taste for salt, chicken and bold spices).

Second of all, this was my first time making this recipe, which is basically a hodgepodge of six different recipes that I found on the Internet and elsewhere. Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but this turned out so much better than I ever could have hoped.

Third: achiote paste is a blend of spices that hails from Mexico. It not only gives the roasted chicken a beautiful burnt red color, but also adds to it’s bold flavor. I had no problem finding it at my local Safeway, but if you come up short there, you can always find it in any latin food store.

Oh, and I served this chicken with Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Hash, which I had leftover from the day before. You, of course, could easily prepare this while the chicken is resting.

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Soft, Moist, Delicious: Sour Cream Banana Bread

Posted in Breads & Pastries, Breakfast, For Cooking Rookies

Soft, Moist, Delicious, Easy Banana Bread

Disclaimer: Remember a few months ago when I said that I was going to count calories and only prepare foods that had a decent nutritional value? Yeah – this isn’t one of those recipes. I included the calorie count for those of you that are interested, but I would urge you not to look if you’re not. The good news if that you can stretch this recipe by basically only eating 3/4 of a serving the calorie count is in much more reasonable territory. 

With that said, E’s a huge fan of banana bread, and we frequently have leftover, brown bananas in the house. So, needless to say, I’ve made more than a few batches of banana bread in my life. This one’s taken a few tries to get rights, but it’s damned near perfect at this point.

A couple of tips: First, we put all of our overripe bananas in the freezer. Whenever there are enough in the freezer, I make banana bread. It’s that simple. Just defrost the bananas in a bowl in the fridge. Peel and use as the overripe bananas that this recipe calls for. Second, for whatever reason, I’ve found self-rising flour to work best for this recipe. You can create self-rising flour by adding baking powder and salt (head over to Add a Pinch for DIY instructions). Third, under no circumstances skip the sour cream. I know it’s bad for you. But, it is delicious. Fourth, feel free to add walnuts. Not a favorite in our house, but if you’d like to add nuts, just stir them in towards the end (before pouring into the loaf pan).

At some point I’ll start experimenting with a lower calorie variation of this recipe, but in the meantime, we’re 100% content enjoying this saturated-fat-laden version.

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Saying Goodbye to Winter: Best Ever Chili con Carne (Savory, Spicy, Easy, Delicious)

Posted in Dinner, Fit for Sunday, For Cooking Rookies, Red Meat

Chili Con Carne

With April just around the corner, E and I are anxiously waiting for spring. After living in California for four years, this was my first proper East Coast winter in a long time – and, I had forgotten just how sustained the winters feel here, despite only getting snow a handful of times, it’s been cold, rainy and all together miserable.

One of the things that we both collectively enjoy about the winter is that there’s no need to really leave the house on some weekends. On days where the wind is whipping around our apartment, and an uncanny mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain (which I always thought was the same thing as sleet, but whatever), and hail (which I always thought was freezing rain) falls from the sky, you can guarantee that we’re holed up watching documentaries , enjoying hot toddies, not getting out of our pajamas, and playing rock paper scissor to see who takes the dog out.

A few weeks back on an especially cold Sunday, we did just that, while I prepared one of my favorite recipes - Chili con Carne. It’s taken me a couple of tries to perfect this recipe, mainly because I hate the kind of diner-style chili whose ground beef has the texture of petrified poop. This recipe, which isn’t terribly challenging, uses cubed stew meat (which is just as affordable as ground beef), a slow cooker and about 6 hours. Coupled with the right blend of herbs, spices and chilies, the end result is tender, delicious chunks of meat, in a spicy, tomato-ey sauce. If you haven’t noticed, we like our food pretty spicy. If you prefer a milder chili, remove the seeds from all of the chilis listed in the ingredients below, and exclude the serrano chili.

One last note – this chili freezes really well. So, feel free to be generous with the portions, knowing that you can freeze whatever’s left over.

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Rise and Shine! Cheddar and Spinach Baked Eggs

Posted in Breakfast, Dairy, Fit for Sunday

Rise and Shine! Cheddar and Spinach Baked Eggs

The best part about waking up on Sunday morning is the promise of eggs and bloody mary’s (in my house, at least), in which we throw our diets out the window, eat, drink, be merry, and promptly take a nap. Baked eggs provide a much welcomed departure from your usual fried or scrambled variety. Once you’ve mastered this simple recipe, you can easily add and subtract from it. Some of our favorite riffs on this recipe are adding Canadian Bacon (the turkey variety, we’re a pork free household), tomatoes or artichokes.

Rise and Shine! Cheddar and Spinach Baked Eggs

We prefer sharp, white cheddar here – but, really any decent quality cheese that you have in your fridge will work. Serve with fresh bread for dipping.

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My Prayers Have Been Answered. Lay’s Sriracha Potato Chips.

Posted in Food Obsessions, Miscellaney

Chicken and Waffle Flavored Potato Chips. Yes, please.

Oh, the irony. Only in my life does news of not one, not two, but three new potato chip flavors hit my desk no later than six hours after I started my new “diet.” Typical.

Rumors of Frito Lays’ newest in-market test flavors have been flying since it’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest concluded, but looks like it’s now official. Potato chip enthusiasts, rejoice!

Sriracha flavored potato chips. YES!
Chicken and waffle flavored potato chips. DOUBLE YES!
Cheese and garlic flavored potato chips. TRIPLE YES!

Standard rules apply. Try all three flavors, vote for your favorite. The one with the most votes wins. Unless, they all sell well – then, I imagine that Frito Lay will be forced to keep them all. Move over Sour Cream and Onion – sounds like a flavor revolution might be brewing…

12 pounds? How the #$@% did that happen?

Posted in Miscellaney

This is the thing about big life changes. You’re prone to either gain or lose weight. Fortunate as ever, in my case – I gained weight, 12 pounds of weight to be exact. A recent visit to the doctor confirmed what I’ve been suspecting for the past few months.

Despite my affinity for a good glass of wine or a stiff whiskey, I’ve generally eaten a fairly healthy, balanced diet. I’ve made a conscious effort to eliminate as many pre-packaged foods from my diet as possible. I cook at least three times a week. My diet is filled with plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. I exercise several times a week.

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Cannellini Beans with Spinach, Sausage and Mushrooms

Posted in Appetizers, Dinner, Easy Weeknight, Poultry, Vegetables

Cannellini Beans with Sausage, Spinach and Mushrooms

Despite an unusually warm start, it’s now 100% obvious that it’s winter on the East Coast, with temperatures in the teens last week (brrr). With frostier temperatures setting in, I’ve been focused on making food that will keep us warm, full and happy. And, there’s nothing that makes me happier than sausage and mushrooms. Nothing. Period. End of story.

A riff on the classic Italian dish, this dish is somewhere between a very thick stew and a dip. We eat it more like a dip with plenty of warm, crusty bread. It could also easily be served with pasta or on top of rice for something a bit more filling.

Best of all, this dish is on my how-the-hell-did-I-gain-fifteen-pounds diet (more on that in another post), coming in at under 250 calories – check out the nutrition facts at the bottom of this post.

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Crispy Curried Chicken with Wild Rice, Grapes and Green Beans

Posted in Dessert, Poultry, Vegetables

Crispy Curried Chicken with Wild Rice, Grapes and Green Beans

For whatever reason, curry tends to be something that most home cooks that I know tend to shy away from. While potent and well-pronounced in any dish it’s contained in, curry is easily balanced by hearty grains (wild rice in this instance), and a touch of sweet (grapes here). I know that curry, grapes and green beans aren’t exactly a combination that most people think of – but, the three ingredients work surprisingly well here.

E isn’t a big fan of chicken thighs (still working on converting him), so I prepared a mix of boneless skinless chicken thighs and breasts. While the breasts turned out fine, I thought that the thighs had a lot more flavor.

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Cumin Scented Quinoa & Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Posted in Dinner, Easy Weeknight, Lunch, Pasta, Rice & Potatoes, Recipes by Ingredient, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Cumin Scented Quinoa & Roasted Vegetable Hash

We’re not huge fans of new year’s resolutions, which – let’s be honest with ourselves here – no one ever really keeps. But, in the spirit of a fresh start in 2013, E and I are making an effort to eat at home more often (save some money), eat healthier (not everything needs to contain 5 pounds of saturated fats), and eat vegetarian once a week (Americans eat way too much meat anyway).  Along those lines, my personal non-resolution is to lose the fifteen pounds that I inadvertently managed to gain since moving to Baltimore / working from home / eating myself into a coma over the holidays.

As massive carbohydrate and protein enthusiasts, the eating vegetarian thing has proved to be a little difficult, as a sala just isn’t going to cut it for dinner. And then – I discovered quinoa (a little late to this party, I know). Prior to this year, I’d probably only prepared quinoa once or twice. Mistakenly thinking that it was basically the same as rice, 2012′s experiment’s with the hearty grain were lackluster, at best. Committed to our Health(ier) Eating in 2013 Plan, I came across this super helpful article about how to prepare quinoa via Eating Rules. If you’ve never made quinoa before, or you’ve made it before and it’s sucked – I would highly recommend bookmarking it. My only change to the instructions outlined there is to use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water for added flavor.

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Miso Salad Dressing: Take 1

Posted in Condiments, Easy Weeknight, Salads, Summer Favorites, Vegetarian

I have a tiny little obsession with that flaming orange, citrus-miso salad dressing that you find at most entry level sushi places.

I’m going to preface this by saying that the results of this first experiment were good, but not 100% what I was looking for. I’m posting it because it does make a pretty good salad dressing, but an even better glaze for fish. If you don’t do a ton of Asian cooking, you might find yourself buying many of these ingredients, which you should look at as a good thing (it’ll give you an opportunity to practice your Asian cooking skills).

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