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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sazon Chicken

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I want something that's super flavor but isn't difficult to make. Now, I can't classify this as "quick" since the chicken takes about an hour, but after I made this a few times I do consider this an easy dish since it's basically marinating the chicken, then cooking it in the marinade until there's no more liquid left. It's kind of one of those "set it and forget it" cooking methods. If you've never had sazon seasoning, oh boy are you in for a treat. While the recipe below links to the recipe of how to make homemade sazon, you can also purchase Goya Sazon Con Culantro y Achiote packets, I'd typically use 2 packets when cooking this. But what I love about mixing up the homemade version is:

1. It's easy.
2. It's inexpensive.
3. No MSG.
4. Control the salt levels.

 The packets can be a little salty if you use too much, so when I made my seasoning I use half of the normal amount of salt and prefer it that way.

So, want to know where I got this recipe from? Well that would be from my amazing husband. Yupp, the first time he cooked for me was a version of this with pork chops. Once you try this you can see why I married him.

-4 bone-in chicken thighs
-1/2 cup Goya Naranja Angria Marinade
-1/2 cup Goya Mojo Criollo
-1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-2 teaspoons homemade sazon ( click here for recipe)
-1 small red onion
-1-2 limes
-1/2 cup water

1. Remove skin from chicken thighs, place chicken in a large bowl. Season with 2 teaspoons of homemade sazon  (or 2 packets of Goya Culantro y Achiote Sazon), add the grated garlic cloves, both Goya marinades, and the soy sauce.

2. In a medium pan heat the 1/2 cup water to boiling. Add the chicken thighs and pour in all the marinade from the bowl as well. Reduce heat to low, and cover.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

3. While the chicken simmers, slice the red onion into thin slices and cut the lime into wedges.

4. After the chicken has simmered for 30 minutes, flip each thigh so it is now face-down and increase heat to medium. Cover and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

5. After 15 minutes, remove the cover and increase heat to high to create a boil. Flip chicken so it is now face up again and sprinkle the tops with a little sazon. At this point, you are cooking off the liquid in the pan and for me this process will take about 20 minutes. During this time when you're cooking off the liquid when there only a little of the marinade left in the pan, add the red onions. The onions will caramelize by allowing them to absorb the marinade. When there is no more liquid left in the pan, remove the chicken but leave the onions. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan and allow the onions to caramelize even more, about 5 minutes. I usually do this process of adding the water to deglaze twice.

6. To serve, squeeze a lime wedge over the chicken and top with the caramelized onions.


Sazon Seasoning

-1 tablespoon ground annatto
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 tablespoon cumin
-1 tablespoon coriander
-1/2 tablespoon salt
-1 and 1/2 teaspoons oregano
-1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Mix all ingredients together. Use 1-2 teaspoons to season chicken before cooking.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Honey Glaze

So I am 34 years-old and March 24, 2019 was the first time I've ever eaten a Brussels Sprout.

Why had I avoided these adorable little green cabbages my whole life?! Well, I didn't grow up eating them. They just weren't part of our meals as kids so I just never really gravitated to them even as my cooking got more adventurous. But I've been seeing some mouth-watering Pinterest images of roasted sprouts in balsamic honey sauces that really gave me that kick in the pants to try these out for myself.

A couple things to note, the texture once these are done roasting is similar to roasted broccoli. They aren't crunchy, a bit softer than I anticipated but the outer leaves that have roasted nicely with all that sauce have an amazing caramelized flavor. The other thing to note, and this is a little weird, but in the beginning stages of roasting their smell is a bit...odd. But once they get all nice and roasted they smell perfectly fine!

So the verdict after my first Brussels Sprouts experience? I will definitely make these again, and try even more versions. I'm thinking bacon, maybe adding a crunch like pecans or walnuts. I've also seen some recipes that have a lime marinade and crumbled Cotija cheese on top which sounds incredible. I hope you enjoy these!

-1 12oz bag of fresh Brussels Sprouts
-3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. To prepare the Brussels Sprouts, peel off the outer leaves that are a bit dry then cut off the stems. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise, for ones that are a little large I also then cut them into quarters and toss into a large bowl. Note: Some leaves will continue to fall off as you're doing this. Some I discarded but I also left some in the bowl. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, the salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

3. Pour sprouts onto a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 min. While they are roasting, in a small bowl mix the balsamic, the honey, and the remaining tablespoon of EVOO.

4. When the sprouts are done roasting, pour into a large bowl and coat with the honey-balsamic sauce. Pour back onto the baking sheet and bake another 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.


Source: Kevin is Cooking

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Roasted Sweet Potato and Broccoli Buddha Bowls with Almond Butter Tahini

So it's officially Spring. It doesn't quite feel like it yet, ya know since the temperatures are still right around freezing in the morning and the heat is still kicking on at night. But, with the longer and lighter days and a bit of warmth during the day now it's that time of year when I make a change in my eating habits and try to be a little more health conscious. I try to leave the heavy dishes back in the winter and bring out meals that are fresher, lighter, and don't make me feel like I want to hide behind big layers and poofy coats.

Funny thing is, I usually find myself gravitating towards the healthier lighter options anyway. But like most people, I still struggle with keeping my fridge stocked with those healthy options, or if I do have lots of veggies on hand I'll be lacking the energy or motivation to whip something up. Yes, even us food bloggers hit mental blocks whether it be lack of energy or lack of motivation.

Roasting veggies is one of my absolute favorite ways to eat vegetables. The crispiness and depth of flavor roasting adds makes just about anything so savory and addicting. This Buddha Bowl has roasted sweet potato, roasted broccoli, and crispy roasted chick peas. So much flavor. Then, to really take this over the top it's drizzled with an Almond Butter Tahini recipe I found. Guys, this tahini is literally the best thing I've eaten in a long time. I was just dipping tortilla chips in it as I waiting for the veggies to finish roasting.

I haven't mentioned yet the best part about the sweet potatoes....they're seasoned with curry. If you've never eaten curry before I really urge you to try it on these sweet potatoes. The flavor is similar to cinnamon and cumin mixed together, it's not spicy at all. More like a really warm spiced flavor. It's incredible when it's paired with the almond butter tahini sauce.

And these crispy chick peas? You're going to want to put these on everything you make from now on. Truth is, I don't really like the chick peas on their own, like just as a snack. I know a lot of people like to just roast them up and pop them like chips, but I much prefer them mixed into something to add a crunchy texture. I also feel like they do much butter with some kind of sauce. I'm looking to come up with some taco recipes that have roasted chick peas in them. Stay tuned.

Once you eat this not only are you going to feel full and satisfied, but you're going to feel great too. No bloated way-too-full feeling here! After eating these delicious roasted veggies with brown rice and an almond butter tahini you're going to want to keep the healthy eating momentum going and add more veggie based dishes to your weekly menu.


For the Bowls
-2 medium sweet potatoes, diced into medium sized chunks (slightly larger than the size of homefries)
-1 large head of broccoli, diced into chunks removing as much of the stem as possible
-1 15.5oz can of chick peas, drained
-5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
-salt, pepper, garlic powder
-Cooked brown rice (I have a rice cooker)

For the Almond Butter Tahini
-1/4 cup almond butter
-1 lemon, juiced
-1 tablespoon soy sauce
-3 gloves garlic, grated
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-3 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Pour into a large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO and the curry powder. Pour onto a large baking sheet. Next, dice the broccoli into small pieces removing as much of the stems as possible. Pour into the large bowl, add the sea salt and 2 tablespoons EVOO. Toss to coat then pour onto the other side of the large baking sheet with the sweet potatoes. Lastly, drain the can of chick peas into a strainer. Shake the strainer a bit so that any of the loose shells of the chick peas come off. Remove any of the visible loose shells then pour chick peas into a bow, coat is 1 tablespoon EVOO and season lightly with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of garlic powder. Place the chick peas onto a separate baking sheet. (There's so much flavor elsewhere in this dish that I keep the chick peas a little basic and using them mostly for the crunch factor).

2. Place the sweet potato/broccoli baking sheet in the oven and set the time for 30 minutes. After 5 minutes has passed, place the chick peas in the oven for the remaining 25 minutes. So basically the sweet potatoes and broccoli bake for 30 min while the chick peas bake for 25 min.

3. While everything is baking is you're cooking rice on the stove top now's the time to do that. As mentioned above, I use a rice cooker which I love. I love that it saves me from having to watch one more pot or stir something else. Just set the cooker and let it do it's thing.

4. To make the tahini sauce, juice the entire lemon into a bowl and grate the 3 gloves of garlic and also add to the bowl. Add in all remaining ingredients and whisk together. If it is too thick add another tablespoon of water. You want this to be the consistency of a dressing and not heavy or thick like peanut butter.

5. Assemble to bowls by first adding as much rice as you want, then as much veggies and chick peas. Drizzle generously with the almond butter tahini.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Nutella Breakfast Energy Bites

To all you Nutella lovers out there, there's a way to enjoy Nutella at breakfast and it's not just a boring smear of Nutella on a piece of wheat toast. Oh no, these Nutella Breakfast Energy Bites are packed with chia seeds and ground flaxseed and lots of oats. When you pop a few of these with some morning coffee you'll feel good about eating these, I've cut down on the amount of honey to offset the sugar in the Nutella. I think you'll really like these, and they are incredibly fast and easy to whip up!

I love these since they also make a great breakfast-on-the-go, or an eat at your desk. We all do it, run out the door without eating breakfast but sucking down that oh-so-needing cup of coffee. Well, now you don't need to resort to that anymore. Keep a bowl of these little guys in the fridge, then just grab a few on your way to work!

Nutella Energy Bites are a healthy way to enjoy the flavor of Nutella while also getting the health benefits of chia seeds and flaxseed. 

-2 cups quick oats
-1/2 cup almond butter
-3/4 cup Nutella
-2 tablespoons honey
-2 tablespoons chia seeds
-3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
-1 3.5oz bar of dark chocolate, chopped...I like to use Lindt 72%

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate 15 minutes, then roll into balls. Yes, it's that easy. I like to keep mine stored in the fridge for a cool refreshing energy snack.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sun-Dried Tomato and Lemon Basil Pasta

Busy people everywhere rejoice! There exists an easy and quick pasta dinner that is so wonderfully flavorful you'll want to make this every week, and it's this Sun-dried Tomato pasta in a delicious basil and lemon tomato sauce.

I love a good pasta dinner, and like adding new recipes to my rotation that are a bit lighter and aren't your typical cream-based pasta. Especially now that we're in Spring and headed towards Summer (aka bathing suit season) I really am loving some lighter meals and staying away from the heavy indulgent dishes that I lean to in Fall and Winter. This sauce is made with sauteed garlic, fresh chopped basil, lemon zest, tomato paste and some of the pasta water. Lots of sweet sun-dried tomatoes and of course, burrata cheese. If you've never had burrata cheese before please go to the store tomorrow and buy it immediately. Burrata is basically an outer shell of Mozzarella cheese and an interior of smooth and creamy Mozzarella. It's heavenly. I want to think up a million recipes now to use burrata...and once you try this recipe I think you'll agree.

To make this easier for you I've written the instructions so that you take care of all the chopping/zesting in the beginning. Another note, the original recipe called for a 1-lb box of rigatoni pasta. I made an entire box, but did not use all of the noodles in the sauce. If I did, I think there wouldn't be enough sauce to generously cover the noodles. So, my recommendation is make the pasta as called for in the recipe but then add it slowly to the sauce and when you've reached the desired amount stop adding pasta.

 Look at these perfectly coated noodles!

And that creamy burrata cheese. Ok, I'm getting hungry again.

-1lb box of rigatoni pasta
-5 cloves garlic, grated
-1 8oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (you will use the oil and the tomatoes!)
-1 lemon, zested
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
-3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water
-Burrata cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and boil the pasta for 12 minutes. While the water is coming to a boil zest the whole lemon, grate the garlic cloves, and chop the basil. Pour the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar into a large sauce pan, then dice the tomatoes. See, all the hard work is out of the way!

2. Heat the sun-dried tomato oil over medium heat and add in the garlic, oregano, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup of the basil. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add in the tomato paste and stir to combine then pour in 3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water. Simmer until the pasta is done cooking. I like to reserve about another 1/2 cup of pasta water on the side in case the sauce gets too thick.

3. When the pasta is done, strain and pour desired amount into the sauce pan. As mentioned above, I found the whole box of pasta is too much and didn't use all of the cooked pasta in my sauce. Add the Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and the rest of the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Serve with sliced burrata cheese.


Source: Half Baked Harvest

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Whipped Feta

Ever feel like you're struggling to find new and interesting appetizers for a party? If you've been in a snacking rut, let me introduce you to Whipped Feta. Whipped Feta came onto the food scene not too long ago, and boy am I glad it did. This seriously is a game changer when it comes to party snacks. It's smooth, it's creamy, it's got so much flavor you you're not going to want to stop eating until your cracker is scraping the sides of the bowl and you're embarrassed by how much you just ate.

Another bonus, is this is SO easy to whip up (pun intended). It's literally just blend everything together then service. Yes, that's it! I cam across this recipe when I wanted to make whipped feta for a little get together, and I think it's a really great starter recipe. Eventually I'll want to try making a few other versions, maybe some additional herbs or roasted garlic, or adding a bit of heat. But if you just follow the recipe below you're going to be very happy with the results. Serve with pita bread or crackers, this isn't something you'll want tortilla chips for.

Whipped Feta Dip is a refreshing and light cheese spread. Serve with pita bread or crispy crackers, this easy party appetizer is impressive and packed with tons of flavor!

-8oz feta cheese, crumbled or block is fine
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/2 cup Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo
-zest from 1 lemon
-1 garlic clove, grated
-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and additional black pepper.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Irish Soda Bread

Every year I go to make my annual Irish Soda Bread, and every year I make the same mistake. You'd think I would have learned by now, right?

Every year, I plan to make my Soda Bread. I think about how delicious it's going to taste, about seeing that unique "x" cut into the top, about the sweet raisins in dough. When I've done my food shopping for the week, I'm always proud of myself for remembering the raisins. I don't really eat raisins so they're never a pantry staple, so the fact that I've added them to my shopping list and actually remembered to buy them is pretty impressive for me. So here we go...ready to make that bread. I scan the recipe and BAM...there it is...buttermilk. Yes, in addition to raisins there's another unique ingredient this bread needs and its buttermilk.

I promise I'm not making this up, I forget this every year and have to make a special trip bake to the store just for this. Maybe writing about it in this detail will make me remember next year?

This brings me to something else, I don't know why I only make this once a year. This is a GREAT bread. It's incredibility yeast, no waiting to rise. Just mix everything together, do a little light kneading to get the right shape, then bake! It also has a refreshing sweet flavor unlike any other bread. This makes a great snack with coffee or even a breakfast item.

The spoiler is about this, the "soda" in here is baking soda. As a kid, I always thought I was eating bread make with actual drinking soda, when I learned it was just a leavening agent I was pretty bummed. Honestly, I'm still kind bummed it's not a super cool bread made with soda.

- 4 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup raisins

1. Heat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment, I just greased the bottom of my pan so the bread won't stick.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt with an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low until the butter is combined.

3. Lightly beat the egg in the buttermilk and with the mixer on low speed pour into flour mixture. Mix the raisins in a tablespoon of flour and add into the dough.

4. Flour your counter-top and your hands. Dump the dough on the flour and lightly knead a few times until you get a round loaf. It will be very sticky at first so make sure you have enough flour so it doesn't stick to your hands.

5. Place the loaf onto the baking sheet and cut an 'X' into the top with a serrated knife. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. I only needed to bake 50 minutes and it was done perfectly.

Source: Barefoot Contessa

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Roasted Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes

So something really big happened: I became an Aunt!

My older brother and his sweet wife welcomed their beautiful little girl into the world in the wee hours of the morning on March 5th. We are all completely smitten with this little girl. Since I have my daughter, who is somehow now 17 months old, I know what those first few weeks are like with a newborn. During this time you're in total survival mode. You're doing just enough so that all of you are fed and surviving, and everything else comes in a very distant after thought. Those weeks I felt like I was sleep walking, it amazes you how you're able to function on just a handful of sleep hours that you get sporadically through the night. So it goes without saying, cooking during this time felt like I was being asked to make Thanksgiving dinner every.single.night. Not only are quick and easy meals a necessity, but also meals that make for great leftovers for lunch...or for some much needed nourishment at 2am when you're feeding a newborn for the second time that night.

Twice baked potatoes have lots of filling cheese, but these guys have savory roasted broccoli and garlic to really pack in the flavor. Scale this recipe up as much as you want to make a bunch of potatoes and store them in the fridge, a quick pop in the microwave or about 10 minutes in the oven warms them back up for that leftover meal.

Oh, you'll notice below there's a bit of a cheat. I use the shortcut of microwaving the potatoes first. By all means, if you prefer to pre-bake instead do that. But this is supposed to be the quick time-saver version so throw those potatoes in the microwave and make it easy on yourself!

Roasted Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes are a savory and filling meal that can be used as a side item to a larger meal or eaten alone. Make enough to save for leftovers for a quick and easy lunch! 

Recipe below yields 4 twice baked potatoes.

-2 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets (remove as much of the stem as you can using only the floret)
-2 tablespoons EVOO
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Russet potatoes
-2 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons milk
-2 tablespoons cream cheese
-3 tablespoons sour cream
-fresh shredded sharp Cheddar cheese for topping

1. Heat oven to 450. In a bowl combine the broccoli, EVOO, and sea salt. Stir to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Then reduce heat to 425 and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 350.

2. While the broccoli is baking, pierce your potatoes several times with a fork. Microwave for 11-13 minutes. They should easily be sliced with a knife when they are done. 

3. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Carefully slice open the potatoes length-wise and scoop out the potato and spoon into the bowl on top of the butter and cream cheese (the heat helps them melt). To make it easier to spoon out the potato without splitting the skin, I take my knife and cut all around the perimeter to make a guide of where to scoop. Doing this prevents you from scooping directly onto the skin of the potato.

4. To the potato bowl, add the sour cream and milk. Mash until combined, just enough so that the mixture is smooth but some small lumps are OK, you're not looking for a mashed potato texture you just want it to be mostly smooth with all of the ingredients incorporated. If the mixture is too stiff, add little bits of milk until you get a smoother consistency. Lastly, fold in the broccoli and garlic. Sitr lightly so you don't break up the florets too much.

5. Place the empty potato skins onto a baking sheet. Spoon the potato and broccoli mix into the 4 skins. Top with shredded Cheddar cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 15 minutes.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Spiced Walnut Granola Crumble

Your morning yogurt is about to change forever.

Yogurt is great and all, but let's agree it's a bit boring and the one-note texture leaves a lot to be desired. It needs crunch. It needs texture. Might I say, it needs this Spiced Walnut Granola.

This is one of those recipes that just popped into my mind as I was going through the ingredients I had on hand and working with recipes I've already made. Let me tell you, the mix of crunchy chopped walnuts mixed with cinnamon, sugars, and nutmeg and baked until crispy is so addicting. This makes a big batch so it's perfect to make on a Sunday and have it for the week. And if I'm being honest, my husband and I found ourselves just snacking on this over the's that good.

Spiced Walnut Granola Crumble is made with the mixture of chopped walnuts, sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg combined with melted butter and baked to perfection.

-1/2 cup quick oats
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
-1/4 cup dark brown sugar
-1 tablespoon white sugar
-5 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, sugars, and spices. Add in the melted butter and stir until all the dry ingredients are wet. Lastly, add in the vanilla and stir.

3. Pour the crumble onto a baking sheet. It's ok that this will be a mix of larger chunks and then portions that are small pieces. Once it bakes you can break up the larger pieces into more of a crumble. Bake for 15 minutes.