Spicy Pan-Seared Chicken

I have been concentrating on making major improvements in my health. I’m exercising almost everyday and trying to watch what I eat. It’s a daily battle, but it gets a little easier with each passing day.

Tonight I decided to make a super lean meal: chicken, mushrooms and salad. But as healthy as it was, it was also full of flavor.

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Spicy Pan Seared Chicken serves 1 to 2

1 chicken breast (cut in half, lengthwise)
Buffalo sauce
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Black pepper
Salt
Canola or vegetable oil

Directions

1. Cut your chicken breast in half, rinse and pat dry.
2. Sprinkle the spices over each side of the chicken.

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3. Put a couple dots of buffalo sauce on one side. Spread evenly with a pastry brush. Repeat on other side.

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4. Heat your oil on a large pan. Once oil is hot, cook your chicken. One chicken breast will take roughly 15 minutes to cook, but this will vary depending on its weight.

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Meatless Monday – Broccoli Cheddar Soup

It’s Monday again…and you know what that means…it’s time for another Meatless Monday recipe. I’ve been wanting to make a really delicious broccoli cheddar soup for a while now and I may have found the best recipe ever. I modified it a little, of course, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

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The thing I liked best about this soup is that everything was cooked in one pot, making clean up a little less cumbersome. Cooking every night is great, but I do get tired of the constant dishes.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half n half
1 cup milk
2 cups filtered water (no tap)
2 tsp Better Than Chicken Boullion
1/4 cup orzo pasta
8oz sharp cheddar
1/2 lb broccoli
1 handful of carrots sticks
Chopped onions
Chopped garlic
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Melt butter over onions and garlic
2. Add flour and stir

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3. Pour in half n half, milk, water, and chicken paste
4. Cook on medium-high heat until it’s just about to boil
5. Mix in broccoli and carrots, lower heat to a simmer for 20 minutes
6. Mix in cheddar, orzo pasta, and spices
7. Cook for another 10-15 minutes
8. Serve with bread or crackers

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Breakfast Taco

I promised myself that I wouldn’t go grocery shopping this week. Mission accomplished. I didn’t think this left me with interesting menu items, but last night I came up with something pretty tasty for being so basic.

That’s right. I made breakfast for dinner again. But this time, I kept the focus on the veggies and less on the fried. Couldn’t resist throwing in a couple pieces of bacon though.

While this basically just an omelet thrown into a lightly fried tortilla, my boyfriend made a simple cooking suggestion that really perfected the overall texture of this meal.

Instead of mixing the sauteed veggies into the eggs, I cooked the veggies around the edge of the pan with eggs in the middle. This helped the veggies to stay a little crisp, which was really nice.

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Etli Biber Dolması – Meat Stuffed Peppers

I’ve been looking forward to making this dish all week. It was my first time ever making biber dolmasi, so I needed a recipe to reference. Google came back with this. I didn’t have any reassurance that this recipe would turn out well and a Turkish man to please. The odds were against me. But I am proud to report that I was successful.

I had to adjust the recipe slightly: I used 4 bell peppers, 3/4 of a pound, and a 1/2 cup of Jasmine rice. I omitted all of the seasonings except for salt and pepper. Then I added some cumin, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder (only had a tiny clove of fresh garlic). Other than that, I followed the recipe as is.

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The peppers came out nice and soft, but not too soft. And the stuffing was delicious.

And now I am stuffed! 🙂

And tired. Glad tomorrow is Friday.

Turkish Manti – Sort Of

I hate leftovers. I have a weird thing with eating the same thing twice in a row and most prepared foods just don’t keep well. But I also hate wasting food. That’s why I’ve been working so hard to figure out the right portions. I want to make sure we have enough to eat so that we don’t go on a Taco Bell run…but I also don’t want to have extra. Aren’t we lucky that this is a major concern in our lives?

There are a few things that I can tolerate as leftovers…one of those being ground beef. It’s a lot easier to make a pound all at once even though the most we usually eat in a night is about half of that. I just bag up the second half and save it for the next night. The best part? I can make an entirely different dish–and quick.

Manti is a classic Turkish dish that I absolutely love. It’s like dumplings or ravioli, but soo soo much better. It’s also pretty challenging to make. To be honest, my one attempt to make it was a complete fail. I’ll try again someday, but until then I have an easy substitute.

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I simply make elbow macaroni noodles and top them with garlic yogurt, a little bit of ground beef and marinara sauce, melted butter, and red pepper flakes. You get a similar flavor for a lot less work –and I get to use up my leftover ground beef.

In case you were curious, here’s a picture of real homemade manti I ate while visiting Istanbul last July:

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How do you deal with leftovers?

Kerry

Main Course – Chickpeas with a side of Zucchini Squash

Yes, chickpeas — or garbanzo beans– can be made into the main course of a meal. That is, with the help of the Turkish olive oil/onion/tomato paste mixture and seasoned ground beef. This is such an easy and cheap dish to make! That’s why it’s my go to on busy nights like tonight. You can also skip the beef if you don’t feel like going to store or prefer a vegetarian dish. Just mix the seasoning in with the onions.

I rarely buy canned goods or frozen foods. But I make an exception for chickpeas and tomato paste (along with a few other items). I’ve soaked dry chickpeas over night, but the cooking process takes way too long with too little payoff. I say go for the canned stuff, but buy organic!

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To start, brown a 1/2 lb. of ground beef then drain the excess fat. I actually cooked the entire pound I bought, since I plan to make a meat sauce for pasta tomorrow night. 🙂 We’ll likely have leftovers from tonight’s meal as well so I already have my lunch lined up as well. Amazing how far you can stretch $6! I’ve also been curious to try ground turkey since it’s a healthier option.

Once your ground beef is drained, continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so while you season.

Ground beef seasoning

Cumin

Salt

Black pepper

Cayenne pepper

Garlic powder

Red pepper flakes (optional)

If it’s your first time using cumin, I suggest you go easy. Cumin is the perfect seasoning for meat, but it’s very distinctive and can easily be overused. If you know what you’re in for, season to your heart’s content. You can also use a taco mix, which basically has the same ingredients already mixed for you. Once your meat is nice and seasoned, turn off the heat.

2 cans of chickpeas will feed 2-4 people, depending on how hungry everyone is and what else you serve along with it. I drain the cans by opening them most of the way with a can opener, putting my finger over the lid and pouring over the sink. Then I put the chickpeas in a medium saucepan, covering them with filtered water just covering them. Whenever the water isn’t going to drained, I use drinking water, never tap. I notice a difference in the taste and just find it to be a rule of thumb for healthy cooking.

Keep the chickpeas on medium heat while you saute chopped onions in olive oil in a separate pan. Once the onions are translucent, add a large spoonful of tomato paste and mix. Now you can add the ground beed and olive oil mixture into the saucepan filled with chickpeas. Allow some time (at least 5 minutes) for the flavors to absorb. I try to get it to a tomato soup sort of consistency. That way I can dip bread into the tomato sauce. 🙂 You want the water to evaporate somewhat, but not completely.

For my side dish, I made divine summer zucchini. My dad is the inventor of this dish and it’s one that I make time and time again. Summer may be over, but as long as the grocery store carries, I will buy zucchini.

Summer Zucchini

2 small, thin zucchinis (served 2 perfectly)

1 garlic clove, thinned chopped or peeled

Lawry’s Garlic Salt (or use fresh parsley and sea salt)

Butter

Parmesan cheese (I didn’t have any, but this is usually included)

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Bake at 350 degrees F until the butter melts and the edges of the zucchini get light brown.

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And there you have it! Top with Greek yogurt and dip with your favorite bread. I toasted seven grain bread but I bet this would be divine with some garlic French bread.

How do you prepare chickpeas?

Kerry