Paleo Turkey Chili

I was nervous when I started the Whole30 Paleo diet because of ingredients I’ve never used before. The only time I’ve ever used coconut oil was when I was pregnant and it was to prevent stretch marks! I love Trader Joe’s because they have a great selection of fresh and organic foods that are more affordable than most groceries. When I went shopping for the Whole30, I didn’t have specific recipes in mind and figured I’d wing it. Again, I like to emphasize how much I enjoy making soups and chili, so putting this recipe together was a no-brainer. I was thoroughly surprised by how flavorful and delicious this chili came out to be. My toddler and husband ate it willingly and happily which was a plus for our first Paleo meal. Enjoy!

Paleo Chili

Paleo Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • Grass fed 1-lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 cup organic butternut squash – cubed
  • 1 cup organic rainbow carrots – diced
  • 1 organic Leek stalk – diced
  • 1/2 small onion – chopped
  • 2 organic roma tomatoes – chopped
  • 1 cup organic Tuscan Kale – chopped
  • 1 tbs cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of water (or stock of choice)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • Chopped scallions for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven on medium high heat (I like to make soups and stews in mine), add coconut oil and sauté turkey until lightly brown. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
  2. Throw in all the vegetables minus the tomatoes starting with onions, leeks, and then carrots and squash. Once mixed add in spices. Stir frequently and well.
  3. Add in tomatoes and water. Stir and deglaze and wait for it to boil. Once it boils, turn it to low and cover for 1 hr. Occasionally lift lid and stir the chili.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with scallions for garnish.

Enjoy!

Banana Nut Bread

I‘ve been testing and tweeking different banana bread recipes for a long time now (okay, more like a year or so, since I’ve started baking). I haven’t found the right amount of moistness, rise, and texture. I’ve been researching different recipes adapted from allrecipes.com. Because I like to use sugar substitute like Splenda, the chemistry changes. I realize when I use Splenda, I need to add an extra half cup of applesauce for moisture and extra baking soda for the rise. Don’t be disheartened if you’re not a Splenda person, I use half and half and think this recipe would work with all granulated sugar or half brown sugar. This was so delicious, Ray asked for two slices after dinner! Now that’s a rare occasion if he chose this over ice cream!

Banana Nut Bread

Makes 10 servings: 55 minutes baking, 15 minutes prep

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Splenda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 4 ripened bananas mashed or 1 and 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Grease bread loaf and set aside. Crisco works well because it doesn’t burn. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg) into a large bowl.
  3. Add wet ingredients (bananas through vanilla) and mix well. Add optional walnuts.
  4. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes. I like to bake for 50, turn off oven and let it sit for last 5. Insert toothpick to check doneness (should not stick). Set aside and cool for 10 minutes before turning over into a rack/plate.

Enjoy!

Nutrition: 1 Serving (Generated by Sparkrecipes)

  • Calories: 241.8
  • Fat: 11.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 58.9 mg
  • Sodium: 259.6 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 32.2 g
    • Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
    • Sugars: 10.4 g
  • Protein: 4.8 g

Butternut Squash Soup

I was never a big fan of pureed pumpkin, squash-like soups. The idea always turned me off until I’ve tasted, made and eaten DELICIOUS butternut squash and pumpkin soup. You think it takes time but it really doesn’t. Butternut squash soup is basically a puree mixed with soup and is very simple to make. I think I was turned off a long time ago by eating it from a soup box. However, making it fresh is ALWAYS the way to go when you talk about soups. This soup always make me think of the Holidays. Mm!

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4 servings: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stock, chopped
  • 1 clove onion, minced
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can chicken or vegetable soup stock
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Peal and remove seeds from squash, then chop in 1 inch squares. Melt butter in large sauce pan. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Sautee until onions are translucent.
  2. Add butternut squash and stock. Once boils, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to spoon contents into a blender and puree. Return puree to soup.
  3. Add seasonings, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a dollop of cream and snippets of chive. Serve with crusty bread or a sandwich!

Enjoy!

“Ca Chien” – Vietamese-Style Fried Fish

Honestly, it took me 3 whole tries to finally fry a fish correctly like my mom’s. However, I could use some more practice and precision! When my mom was here visiting, she used my stainless steel pan to fry delicious fish! I tried it with my stainless steel pan and nearly burned down my apartment. I suppose my heat was too high when I added the oil. Not a a good idea. My mom decided to give me a non-stick skillet and I finally was able to fry my fish! Now, let’s get back to “ca chien”, which means “fried fish” in Vietnamese. Fried fish is a normal staple in everyday Vietnamese cooking. I grew up on fish and we eat that a lot. When I traveled to Vietnam in 2002, fried fish was a part of many dinners. It’s so simple yet so delicious and complex in flavor from the crispyness of the skin to the soft delicate meat. It’s often served with a tomato (fish sauce) sautee poured on top or under the fish. That’s my favorite type! Alongside the fish, you’d eat it with your bowl of white jasmine rice, dipping fish sauce, a vegetable side, and a soup! I made this alongside canh chua, which I will post next. Most people are afraid of frying or cooking fish because of the smell and the intimidation of it. I know I was, but if you do it right and with practice, it should come out fragrant and delicious!

“Ca Chien” with a Tomato Sauce

Makes 4 servings: 20 minutes (depending on the width of your fish)

Ingredients:

  • I used a white flounder about 1lb (16oz). Butter fish is also a good one to fry too.
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Once it gets nice and hot. Lower the heat to medium. Add 1 tbs of vegetable oil.
  2. After a min, lay fish in the skillet. Leave it alone and let it fry for 10 minutes. Use a flat spatula and slowly move the fish and flip it to the other side for 10 minutes. Try not to cover the fish or else the condensation will soften the crispyness. Remove the fish and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, add garlic and tomatoes on medium high heat. Add fish sauce, and water, chili pepper and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour sauce over fish and serve with rice.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Cheesecake Muffins

I found this original recipe in my “Winning Recipes” (Vol.2) cookbook under “Berry Cheesecake Muffins” on page 324 and adapted it. I followed the original recipe’s exact measurements but made it slightly healthier using brown sugar instead of white, Smart Balance flax seed butter instead of real butter (but I did use regular cold butter for the streusel topping), 2% milk instead of whole milk, and of course fresh strawberries (because they’re in season and I had a lot of them) instead blueberries and raspberries. They were absolutely wonderful! I think this should be at every breakfast/brunch gathering!

Strawberry Cheesecake Muffins

Makes 12 large or 24 small muffins: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Smart Balance butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • Cream Cheese Filling:
    • 6 ounces softened cream cheese
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/2 cup fresh chopped strawberries
  • Streusel Topping:
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tbs brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tbs cold butter

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Gradually add the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients alternating with the milk. Fill paper-lined muffin cups about 1/3 full.
  2. In a small bowl for the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and egg until mixture is smooth. Add in the berries. Drop a tablespoon into center of each muffin cup. **If there is extra muffin batter, add an extra tsp to each top.
  3. For the topping, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over muffin batter. Each cup should be full.
  4. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Make sure to cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pans.

Enjoy!

Fiesta Baked Flounder

There’s a party! …and it’s on my fish. “Fiesta” means “a party” in Spanish and many use it (including me) to describe our Mexican-inspired dishes. When I think Mexican, I think the use of onions, chili peppers, spices, garlic, bell peppers, cheeses and tomatoes in one dish. I heard that you shouldn’t cheese your fish. The key is not to over cheese it. I lightly finished off the top on these fillets with a mixture of bread crumbs, Parmesan and shredded cheese to give it a nice crust topping. This worked out great. There’s never a right way to eat a fish, so never be afraid to experiment!

Fiesta Baked Flounder

Makes 2 servings: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 6oz fillets of Flounder
  • 1/4 chopped onions
  • 1/4 chopped bell peppers
  • 1/4 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 glove of garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch salt & black pepper
  • 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese mix (cheddar, monterrey jack, colby, mozzarella)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs mixed with 1 tsp melted butter

Directions:

  1. Generously coat fillets with garlic, lemon pepper, salt & pepper, cayenne and parsley in a baking dish. layer on top of each fillet, the onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Cover and set aside in fridge. (Best if marinated overnight)
  2. When fillets are ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 425. Mix Parmesan with bread crumbs and butter. Top the fillets with this mixture and then sprinkle the shredded cheese on the very top. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are golden and fish easily flakes with a fork.
  3. Serve with rice and veggies (broccoli, asparagus, etc.)

Enjoy!

Tandoori Grilled Chicken with Basmati Rice

Having a variety of food at your doorstep spices up your life. No pun intended. I like Indian food and for a long time was scared to cook Indian food because of all the complex ingredients and spices it entails! We found a few Indian grocery shops and decided to venture in one day. WOW! I got so much spices to last me a life time. Tandoori chicken is a classic Indian grilled dish, that is marinated in yogurt and garam masala which is a spicy mixture of spices that include garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, etc. I bought the pre-made paste. Next time I will definitely blend up my own paste. I used “Deep” brand tandoori paste. It’s a good brand thus far. It could be a little more spicier. I marinated the chicken overnight. I’ll try brushing the chicken with a little more paste while it’s grilling.

Tandoori Grilled Chicken with Basmati Rice

Makes 4 servings: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs of Deep’s Tandoori Paste
  • 8 drumsticks
  • Cooked Basmati rice
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Remove skin from drumsticks and cut 2-3 slits in each piece. Thoroughly mix in tandoori paste. Cover and marinate for at least 6hrs or overnight.
  2. Cook Basmati rice according to directions. (I use 1 cup in 1 qt of water-1/2″ deep cooked on medium to high in a covered steam sauce pan for 10 minutes then reduce to low for 10 minutes.) Add peas, cumin and salt. Keep covered until served.
  3. Grill chicken for 25 minutes or until juices run clear. Serve with a side of rice and (I added) chick pea salad.

Enjoy!