butternut baby

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So I found this recipe via Weight Watchers Online. Despite my own misgivings, the food I’ve made from their site has often been stunning… and that’s a nice surprise, of course. This dish is hands down, one of my favourites. You don’t add a lot of herbs and spices to the dish, and yet what is there plays with the flavour of the butternut and fruit. Not too unlike a more complex red wine, each bite has a few layers of taste that your tongue processes one by one, which is actually rather exciting!

What you’ll need, keeping in mind that I’ve made substitutions for my dietary preferences, as noted

1 tsp table salt, or to taste

1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1 pound(s) uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s), four 4 oz pieces (I used Quorn chicken substitute)

3 spray(s) cooking spray

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin, or to taste

1 tsp ground coriander, or to taste

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

1 large uncooked vidalia onion(s), chopped

2 cup(s) uncooked butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3/4 lb)

3/4 cup(s) uncooked jasmine rice, or basmati rice, rinsed

16 halves dried apricot halves, roughly chopped (I used white peaches as I couldn’t find apricots. I think apricots are pretty important here, and if I had to replace them again, I’d opt for plums instead as their density is more close to the apricot)

1 1/2 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or more if needed (I used veg broth)

1/4 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, minced (This is a must-have, but if you can’t get some, use parsley, flat leaf if possible, as I have done here)

 

What you do:

Coat a large crock or cast iron pot with a little cooking spray; heat over medium heat.

Heat and add cumin, coriander and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You’ll notice that it starts to stick immediately, at this point, I added a small amount of broth so it didn’t burn. You really want some pan scrapings so don’t add too much.

Add your “meat” cook until lightly browned and remove to a plate; set aside.

Add onion and squash to pot, scraping down sides and bottom of pot to incorporate the charred spices. Cook, fruit. Pour in broth; bring to a boil for 1 minute.

Cover pot and simmer until rice and squash are tender, checking half way through to see if more broth is needed, about 20 to 25 minutes.

I added my soy chicken at the very end, to preserve the flavour and prevent it from getting soggy.

Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Yields about 5 servings but it depends on your appetite. I found that the rice swelled up quite a lot in the end and it was pretty heavy and filling so I didn’t eat too much.

You want to make sure you have enough broth in the pot so it’s slightly saucy, otherwise I think it will be too thick. Play with it and see what suits your taste!

Weekend Brekkie

Now – I will say up front that I don’t like eggs. I used to enjoy them quite a lot when I was younger, and then one day out of nowhere, the smell of them turned my stomach… it wasn’t pregnancy induced, but just some change in my senses.

A further deterrent was the taste. I once enjoyed a runny egg with bacon and toast, and voila! I ordered some and took a bite and thought, these eggs must be off. But every single egg I’ve eaten since that day has tasted like iron to me.

Maybe it’s me who has some sort of vitamin deficiency.

BUT – I once liked eggs, and I have a certain nostalgia for them, and so I persevere and find ways that I can still have them.

Usually if I add other things I can manage, like feta or goat cheese, herbs, tomatoes, and my ultimate favourite food: mushrooms!

Here is a simple frittata of sorts that I often whip together on the weekend: 2 eggs, whisked with S&P, almond milk, and fresh chives. In a small pan, pour the egg mixture and let it cook through, flipping, etc… then place on a plate

On the side, brown onions and mushrooms with little cherry tomatoes. At the end, toss on a touch of cheese, S&P and top the eggs.

You can fold it together or eat it flat. I like to add some Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce and in this case, fruit, to cool my palate

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Where have you been all my life?

Growing up in the US, I’ve had my fair share of take out Chinese food over the years. You know it’s not really healthy, but there’s something about the greasy lo mein noodles and a stale fortune cookie, that oozes nostalgia. Since moving abroad, I haven’t had much in the way of Chinese. It’s quite a bit more expensive here and the non-meat options are usually bleak. Where’s my sweet & sour chik’n? My soy meat and broccoli? My General Tso’s chik’n? What about a vegetarian version of won ton soup!?

When I found his recipe on veganyumyum, I thought the pictures looked pretty darn similar to how I remember beef and broccoli of my youth, so I gave it a try. Here’s how it went for me:

The sauce itself is a breeze to make. I think if you tried something like this a couple of times and then started putting different ingredients into it, you could expand your Chinese food repertoire with ease.

Basically, you mix all the sauce ingredients together and simmer for 20 minutes. It will thicken and start to become sticky, saucy, dark, rich… all great to grab hold of your veggies!  Let it simmer until it boils a bit, then set aside. It thickens (as you can see from the photo) quite a lot by the time the food is plated and ready to eat.

Obviously, you prep your veg and rice (more details are provided on veganyumyum, where I found the recipe, but it’s pretty straightforward. I just prepared rice on the side in a pot as I would for any other occasion and in a wok, seared the broccolini and veggie meat. Easy peasy.

What did I think about this dish? I didn’t use a low-sodium sauce, and it was VERY apparent. The underlying flavours had so much potential but the saltiness it difficult to enjoy. Next time I’m sure it will be fantastic.

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Seitan and Broccolini with Clementine Teriyaki Serves Two

For the main dish

8 Ounces Sliced Seitan (I used a soy meat substitute as my local health food store was closed)

1 Cup Sushi RIce (I used something more standard, like Jasmine)

6-8 Stalks of Broccolini

2 Clementines (I think I used an orange instead, but I can’t recall. Either way it was fine)

1 Tbs Vegetable Oil

Japanese Seven Spice, optional (skipped it)

Clementine Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 Cup Low Sodium Tamari

1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar

1/3 Cup Fresh Clementine Juice

1/4 Cup + 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar

1/4 Cup Water Zest from 1 Clementine

More explanation and details can be found on the site below.

recipe via: Veganyumyum

The. Best. Idea. Ever.

I love pasta. Love it. With tomato sauce, even more. Add some cheese, a ragu, a Bolognese, braised meat (back in the day), cream sauce, broth… I am far from fussy when it comes to preparation. Pasta, and bread alike, are just comfort foods in my world. Pair them with something horribly naughty, like salted butter and a glass of rustic red wine and I’m set.

Bah… but it sticks to my ass, the pasta. I often feel bloated after eating it as well, and in the end, wonder  if it’s even worth the indulgence. So what to do? How can I have a faux Bolognese if the pasta itself makes me feel gross? Replace it with something else (dare I say it… something BETTER!!?)

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Squash or courgette – sliced into fat ribbons or passed through a spiralizer (I am assuming there as I don’t have one, myself) make for a lovely “pasta” dish. The texture is eerily similar. The taste mild. I try to cook the slices for just the right amount of time (maybe a few minutes) in order to leave it firm, but not crunchy. The worst-case scenario is overcooked, which I’ve also done, and it’s mushy.

So, the above photo is my interpretation of a summer pasta. I made a light white wine sauce with fresh herbs, tossed in tomatoes and peas, and then topped it with (too much by the looks of it) shaved Italian cheese.

I don’t think you can make a recipe for this… but it’s easy enough to wing it and come up with your own ideas. I’ve done it now a myriad of ways… white cream sauce with peas (love’em!) and mushrooms, seared tuna and white wine, shrimp and white wine, spicy with soy chopped meat (sort of a Bolognese, but with mad heat).

Usually what I do, is make the sauce and other components in a wok, and then when it’s nearly finished, I plop in the entire wad of stripped courgette, toss it into the mix and put the lid on. After 4 minutes or so, I toss it again, and that’s it. It still cooks a bit from pot to plate to mouth, so it’s almost always worked out perfectly… except the mushy time.