Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘spicy’

Why read food blogs anyway?

Let’s face it, there are thousands of blogs out there now, pretty much about anything anyone can come up with.

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I am always seeing ads or getting emails about ways to “get more traffic to your blog” and some of them have some good ideas but at the end of the day, I just like writing them and sharing stuff I like or have tried or an idea I got some where.  So when other people actually read what I have to say, I am very honoured that they have taken the time out of their day to do so.

And what’s better, is if I can give them some little bit of information that they can enjoy, or that sparks an idea for them to use in their lives, then my work is done.

That’s why I have so many blogs that I have signed up for and read on a regular basis.  Because the best part is, it gives you ideas to do your own thing.

I will see recipes and either think about how I might do it differently, or I might actually intend to follow the recipe verbatim, only to find that I am missing one or more ingredient and then have to improvise and then it can inadvertently become a whole new dish.

But especially with daily cooking and eating, which most of us have to spend a lot of time doing, it is hard to come up with new things.  Or worse, even remember stuff that you like to make!

Sometimes I will look back over the archives of my blog and honestly be surprised by dishes I have made but forgot about and so am happy to make again.

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So the other day I was reading a few blogs and got a hankering for something I wanted to make.

First,I got this idea from my blog friend at EMILY BITES.   I didn’t have all the ingredients that she called for so I had to wing it from what I did have.  But that’s part of the fun, putting your own twist on new ideas.

Click HERE for the original recipe.  She called it “Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken”

I still have the same “slow cooker” that I grew up with that my mother gave me one day years ago because they didn’t use it anymore.   Still works just fine and will probably work for years to come, cause it only gets used a few times a year, so why shouldn’t it.

Chicken & patties004

So into the slow cooker went:

  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 inch chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup, maple syrup or brown sugar ( whatever sweetener works for you)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsps of peanut butter ( I use natural, the other ones will make the dish sweeter and saltier)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice ( vegetable stock would work too)

Stir all that up at the bottom of the cooker till it is nice and saucy.

Then add boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I used four, so if making more than that, just up all of the other ingredients. Basically the rule of thumb is to have enough sauce to cover the chicken, however much it is.

Turn the cooker on high and leave it for a few hours!   Nice!

After a few hours of cooking, poke one of the chicken breasts with a fork, if it falls apart easily, it’s ready!

So then get in there with two forks and pull them all apart till everything is shredded and then stir back into the sauce.  It is actually easier to pull out each breast onto a cutting board and shred it up and then add it back in,, but I was too lazy so I just fought with it still in the cooker!

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But then, what to serve it with?

Well, I saw another blog with an idea for some kind of pancake or patty type thing that I thought might work.   When I went back to see where I had found the idea, I couldn’t find it again, a hazard of reading too many blogs.

So as usual I just “winged it” with what I had.  The one I read had grated zucchini and corn, both things I didn’t happen to have, but no fear, I found other stuff.

In a large mixing bowl, mix:

  • 1 grated carrot or small zucchini
  • half a large red or yellow bell pepper in small cubes
  • 1 cup chopped cooked potato ( left over mash would do too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smokie paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Mix all that together then add:

  • 1 cup milk ( of your choice)
  • 1 cup flour ( also of your choice)

Stir in to the vegetables to make a nice gloopy batter.  You might have to add a little more or less of the milk and flour till you get the right consistency.  It shouldn’t be too runny.

Chicken & patties002

Then when you are ready, heat a skillet to fairly hot, and add a little oil of your choice then ladle out about a 1/2 cup worth of batter into the pan, until you can get as many as fits.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.   Repeat.

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Keep the cooked cakes warm in the oven until you are ready to eat them.

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Lay a cake or two on the plate and then top with your pulled spicy chicken. There you have a delicious super easy meal!!

And if the truth be known, I had it again for lunch the next day and it tasted even BETTER after having sat together awhile!  Yum-eee.

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Vegan note:

You could easily substitute the chicken for tofu in that recipe.  Only I would cook only the sauce for a while till it was all cooked down and THEN add cubes of tofu only about a half hour before eating so it doesn’t get all mushed.

And then for the patties, just omit the egg and use a non dairy milk and you are still in business!

Pulled Chicken Pasta

A few weeks back I gave you a recipe for “Pulled Chicken Tacos“.  

This has turned into one of our favorite things to eat lately.  It is easy and flavourful and great in summer.

But as much as I could eat tacos several times a week, sometimes it is nice to change it up a little.   Or maybe you just don’t have the rest of the fixins to go with the tacos?  Whatever the case, here is something to do with your left over “pulled chicken” if for any strange reason you actually have any!

Pulled Chicken Pasta

Cook up a pot of your favorite spaghetti.

Meanwhile, heat up the left over pulled chicken.  If it is too dry for what ever reason, add some salsa or tomato sauce, crushed tomato or even just a bit of water till it is “sauce” like.

Top your spaghetti with it.

That simple and SO good. 

I have a feeling we will be eating this…….a LOT.

South West Supper

We very much enjoy the taste of the South West around our house.  Even if we DO live in the North West.  Maybe that’s why?

Tonight I have made a South West beef stew, a South West salad and some South West corn bread muffins.  All together, you have a South West Supper!

I started with the stew so it would have some time to get acquainted.   I have to warn you that this stew will seem remarkably similar to chili.  That’s cause it most is the same only instead of ground beef I used stewing beef.

So in your dutch oven, brown in a few splashes of oil:

  • cubes of stewing beef dredged in a little flour ( or whatever protein you are into)

Once they are browned on all sides, remove to a resting bowl.   Then add to the pot:

  • 1 large onion sliced and or cubed
  • 1/2 of 1 large red pepper cubed
  • 1 small carrot cubed

Try to keep all of these things the same size of cube for consistency.

Cook these till they are nice and sweaty looking and then add:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika ( smoky adds more flavour)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chili flakes ( depending on your tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 cloves minced fresh garlic

Feel free to use more or less of anything depending on your taste.

Mix those into the vegetables well, then return the meat to the pot with any juices that may have collected.  Stir it all well.

Then add:

  • 1 small tin tomato paste
  • aprox 1 cup water or stock

Stir, cover and let come up to a boil, stir again and turn down to a simmer.

Shortly before serving add:

  • 1/2 can rinsed black beans

Stir in and turn off heat.

South West Stew

While your stew is simmering you can put together your South West Salad.

Add together is a bowl:

  • the other half of the can or black beans
  • 1/2 a can of nibblet corn ( keep other half for corn bread)
  • the other half of the red pepper diced ( same size as corn and beans)
  • 2 green onions ( green part only) sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 large handful of fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Toss all that together.

Just before serving add:

  • 1 ripe avocado diced
  • juice of 1 whole lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • S & P to taste

Toss again and serve.

South West Salad

Put these two dishes together with some nice corn bread muffins to soak up the sauce and you’ve got yourself a tasty South West Supper!

South West Supper

Three appliance beverage.

Actually, I think it is technically a four appliance beverage!

In my last year of holistic school my roommate used to bring me one of these every Saturday morning from a restaurant called “Fresh” near where we lived in Toronto.  Then when I was finishing up school and had to do a work-study I did it there because like the name implies, they offer healthy fare.

So I learned to make this drink myself.

They call it “Deep Immune Elixir” if you are ever at Fresh and want to try it.

Here is what’s in it:

  • 6 dates
  • 1/2 or so of fresh ginger
  • 4 medium red apples
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 tbsp chywanprash  ( see yesterday’s post)

So now here is where all the appliances come in.

First, boil the kettle and put the dates in a small bowl and just barely cover them with boiling water.

Next appliance, the juicer.   Juice the apples and ginger per usual method.

juicing apples

Next is the blender.  Add the apple, ginger and lemon juice to the blender with the banana, blend till mixed.  Then add the soaked dates and the chywanprash and blend till smooth.

Next, transfer blended mixture to a sauce pan.

Heat the beverage till just warm.  DON’T let it boil or even get too hot.  That would destroy all of the enzymes in the juice and ruin the medicinal properties.

Deep immune elixer

Then put in a mug and drink like a nice cup of hot chocolate.  Only this will surely fix what’s ailing you!

Spicy Yam soup

This one is a belly warmer!  

Start with roasted yams and onions.  ( click here for tips on that )

Once those have roasted up nicely, transfer to a soup pot and add:

  • 1 heaping tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes or more if you like
  • 2 heaping tbsp of peanut butter
  • enough stock or water to cover everything and then just a little extra

Bring this to a boil and them turn down to simmer for about 7 minutes stirring everything together and making sure the peanut butter has dissolved into the soup.

Turn it off the heat and let it cool just a bit till it is safe to use the immersion blender on it.  Blend until smooth and then turn on the heat for a few minutes till it heats up enough to eat.

I served it with a dollop of sour cream that I had made into a garlic dip for an extra little zing!

Spicy Yam Soup

 

Southwest Shepard’s pie

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the original.

Ground meat of some kind cooked up with onions and maybe some spices as the first layer.  Then the canned corn ( I never use peas but I know some who do!) and then finally topped with some mash potato and baked.  Pour on a bit of HP Sauce when it comes out and you happy.  Simple and comforting.

But if you’d like to kick it up a notch, then maybe you might want to try my Southwest version.

Start with your favorite chili recipe.

I will leave this up to your interpretation because chili seems such a personal topic.  If you don’t make chili of your own, well then we can address this topic another time, but for now, I will assume you have a favorite chili recipe of your own.

And you can use meat, turkey, sausage, beans or all veg if you like and as mild or spicy as you like.

Once you have your pot of chili ready, transfer it to a deep casserole dish that you would normally make Shepard’s pie in.  Make sure you leave some room at the top for the next layer.

Your favorite chili

Then you are going to make a batch of your favorite polenta recipe.  If you don’t have one of those, and not a lot of people do, just click on the “polenta” to take you to a basic recipe.  Basically it is water and cornmeal.  Boil the water and slowly add the cornmeal while stirring vigorously so that you don’t get clumps.  Then turn down the heat and when the polenta is creamy, you can start adding other things.

While you are making the polenta you want to add a half cup of corn.  Fresh, frozen or canned are all fine.  And half a cup of a hearty grated cheese of your choice.  I like some jalapeno jack or some smokie cheddar but definitely something will a little zing to it.

In this particular batch I also added some chopped up spinach, because I am always trying to add veg where ever possible, but it is just fine without.

Creamy polenta

Once your polenta is all creamy and done, transfer it to on top of your chili and spread evenly to cover the top.   Then sprinkle with a little more cheese so it will have a nice crunchy crust and put it into a 350 oven.  I always put it on a baking sheet incase in bubbles over for some reason.  Easier to clean a tray than the whole oven!

Chili topped with polenta

It won’t take long because everything is already cooked, but you just want to make sure it has heated through and that the polenta forms a nice crust and the chili starts to soak into the polenta.

Once it is nice and browned on top and you take it out, let it sit a minute or two so the polenta will set and then use a knife to cut portions into it, or at the very least cut into four sections.  You can just scoop it out if you like with a big spoon, but I find if you cut it with a knife first then the polenta won’t crumble and it will look nicer.

Crispy on top

Serve with a little side salad, I’ve added some avocado, cilantro and lime to give it that almost guacamole taste, but any kind of salad will do.

Southwest Shepard's Pie with side salad

There you have it, a quick, easy, any time meal that can be as healthy or decadent as you make it.

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