March 29, 2011

Lemon and thyme braised baby artichokes

As part of this month's Healing Foods, I was challenged to cook whole, fresh artichokes for the first time. Usually I just buy them already cooked and marinated or in water, all ready to go. My grocery store has had a lot of fresh artichokes and figured this would be a good time to give them a try. So, this time I bought a container of baby artichokes which I cleaned myself. It wasn't that difficult at all. If you've never done it before, check out the step-by-step directions on this site. I wanted to keep my treatment of the artichoke hearts simple so that I could really taste the artichokes themselves. I braised them in some fresh lemon juice and thyme and they were quite delicious. Feel free to add other flavors as well such as basil, garlic, or red pepper flakes.

Artichokes are on the Healing Foods list because they contain a lot of fiber, vitamins B and C, iron, and an enzyme called cynarine, which increases your bile flow and is good for your liver and digestion. Give these artichokes a try. They are great as an appetizer or a side and make sure you have some crusty bread to go with them! This will serve 2-4 people as a side. 

March 24, 2011

Tarragon chicken

Another simple, elegant, and delicious dish from Nigella Kitchen. I really loved this chicken. It was so tender and flavorful and the sauce was so easy to make. If you like tarragon, this chicken is definitely for you. If you've never had tarragon before, give it a try. It has a licorice-like taste that pairs nicely with chicken (it's often used in chicken salad). Herbs take food to the next level of greatness and have such wonderful tastes and aromas.

I modified Nigella's recipe ever so slightly to the one below. I served this chicken with some fresh green beans and baked potatoes. It will serve about three people depending on the sides (the green beans went really well with this and the potato was great for soaking up the extra sauce). This recipe makes enough sauce that you can add probably up to four chicken breasts and there will still be enough sauce for each piece.

March 18, 2011

Orange-sour cream-poppy seed loaf cake

I made this cake to take as a dessert for a dinner we went to recently. I really didn't feel like going out to the store, so I was looking all through my cookbooks to find a dessert that I could make with ingredients I had on hand. I found this sour cream-poppy seed cake in my Tassajara Cookbook and thought it would be perfect. I like poppy seed cakes/muffins to have some citrus in them, so I decided to add some orange, a blood orange actually. You can use any type of orange (or lemon) you would like. This cake was really moist, light, and flavorful and everyone gobbled it up! 

March 14, 2011

Salted pistachio lassi

This cool and creamy drink has a slight saltiness to it and is a perfect addition to any spicy meal. I made this lassi to go with one of my favorite curries. I've made sweet lassis before with peaches, but this was the first salty lassi I had. It was different, especially with the nuts in it, but it was also good. Serve this lassi with a snack or as a drink to go with your next Indian-themed meal. This recipe will make two servings. 

March 12, 2011

Turkey sloppy joes

A sloppy joe is something I have not eaten in a long time; probably not since I was a kid. I saw this recipe in my Gourmet Today cookbook and wanted to make it. I always liked sloppy joes as a kid, but it's something I never made as an adult. This recipe is great because instead of opening a can of sloppy joe sauce, you make your own quick sauce that is easy and delicious. You know exactly what you are putting in your sandwich and can control the amounts. I served my sloppy joes on the cheddar and scallion biscuits I posted a couple of days ago. They were written together in the cookbook and they go great together. If you don't have the time or don't want to make the biscuits though, you can certainly eat them on any rolls that you like. A simple green salad makes this a complete and delicious meal for four. I adapted it slightly and scaled down the ingredients because the original recipe served eight.

March 10, 2011

Cheddar and scallion biscuits

While I was eating one of these leftover biscuits with my salad for lunch today at work, someone asked me "Don't you ever just eat anything that comes out of a box?" The answer is that I really try not to. I mean, of course there are times when I need a pizza, but most days I try to eat real food. To me, that means as little processed ingredients as possible and making most things myself (within reason). I don't grind my own flour and I buy things like pasta (but never macaroni and "cheese" - I make that myself with real cheese). I do these things not only because I want my husband and I to be healthy, but I really want to know what I'm putting in my body. My stomach and health issues are a large driver of this because many fats, oils, and other things bring on great distress to my system. This blog is something I developed to help me document the food I'm making and to track the progress I make towards eating better and feeling better.

Sometimes, you just want a warm, cheesy biscuit. These delicious biscuits came from a recipe in my Gourmet Today cookbook. I made them large and sandwich-sized because I filled them with turkey sloppy joes (recipe to come). You can make them smaller to eat as a side as well. They'd be perfect with barbecue chicken, chilis, soups, etc. Or, you can make them large like me and use them as sandwich rolls. I bet they'd also be great for a breakfast egg sandwich. So, depending on the size, this recipe will make 6-8 sandwich-sized biscuits or 10-12 side dish/snack-sized biscuits. 

March 7, 2011

Vanilla Chai tea

We love tea and coffee of all kinds, but I think Chai is a favorite of both my husband and I. We always get a cup at the Indian restaurant and we make it from tea bags, but this was the first time I made myself. I really liked it. The spices were so warm and the smell was so inviting. The tea was creamy, spicy, and sweet. This recipe will make two servings of tea.

You can leave out the vanilla for a plain Chai tea, substitute green tea for a green Chai, or even add a sprinkle of cocoa for a chocolate Chai. You can play with it to make your favorite.

March 2, 2011

Maple almond butter cookies

It's maple season here in NY. I am looking forward to the day when we have our own sugar maples to tap and make our own delicious syrup! But, for now I'll just have to enjoy all the local sources we have here in western NY. I was really craving some peanut butter cookies, but then I found this recipe and decided that I must make these immediately. I was right, these cookies were great - full of almond and maple flavors! We always have almond butter around - I enjoy all nut butters, but I think almond may be my favorite. The recipe below is my slightly modified version. It will make approximately 18-20 cookies.