Honestly, no matter how hard I try to eat healthy food, there comes a time (more often than I would like) when I just crave the comfort of something spicy, yummy, finger-licking, lip smacking good, yet come with a not so healthy label. One of those dishes is chili chicken.
I am sure there are as many variations of the dish as there are cooks and kitchens. So, this recipe is of course an original concocted in my kitchen, and enjoyed my many.
(Disclaimer: I did not intend to really post this recipe, so I did not take too many pictures! Talking about pictures, I need to “grow” some patience to fiddle with the settings on my Galaxy or use an actual camera! One of these days! Anyway, the taste and flavor profile of the dish convinced me to take couple of quick pictures to actually post this recipe!)
This dish, unlike some other recipes you might have seen online is very straightforward. Ingredients are just chicken, few basic spices, lots of cayenne powder, a splash of apple cider vinegar and a coating of Thai sweet soy sauce. That’s it guys! So, you ask me what makes this slip from the relatively healthy domain into the not so healthy one…well, it’s kind of the liberal use of oil and cornstarch. You could definitely cut down on the oil and cornstarch or completely eliminate the latter, but the texture will be a bit different. So, I suggest you try the recipe as is the first time and tweak for the subsequent tries – because I know you will want to make it again!
8 chicken thighs, bone in (you can use boneless as well)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons ground cayenne (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated finely
4-6 Thai chili peppers or other spicy pepper like jalapeno, sliced lengthwise
1 sprig of curry leaves (if available)
3 tablespoons canola or other light flavored oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 – 2 tablespoons sweet Thai soy sauce
1. Remove skin of the chicken, and cut into 4 or 5 pieces. Place in a large bowl.
2. Add all spices, through garlic to the chicken and mix thoroughly to coat. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. To this, add the chili and curry leaves, if using. Toss in oil for few seconds.
4. Add the chicken, mix well, cover and cook under high heat for 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces occasionally.
5. Sprinkle the cornstarch. Mix well to coat.
6. Cover the pan and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, turning occasionally. By now, the chicken pieces will be cooked all the way through and there will not be any liquid remaining. If there is some liquid remaining, remove lid, reduce heat and continue to cook till the all liquid evaporates.
7. Add the soy sauce and toss well. Cook for another 2 minutes.
The chicken can be served as an appetizer (a welcome change from chicken wings) or with steamed rice or noodles and veggies for a complete meal. And, oh, the chicken tastes great cold too.
What is it about a blend of tastes – sweet and tangy, sweet and spicy…Flavor combos like these are always extra intriguing to the palette! Such was the inspiration for this dish…healthier ground turkey, seasoned with a blend of spicy jalapeno (mmm…would love to try the recipe with habanero next time around), sweet mango, citrusy note of lemon zest and freshness of cilantro!
This recipe is a nice change from the traditional beef meatballs in red tomato sauce, or if you are a bit more adventurous Swedish meatballs! While you could serve these meatballs as little cocktail bites, mixed with some veggies like carrot and simmered in some liquid, these could also double as a topper for some hot cooked rice or pasta. These would even be great with a side of steamed veggies if you want to go light on the carbs!
These meatballs are super easy to whip together. Yeah, it takes a bit of a prep – sauteing the onion and peppers, making the meatballs, browning them, and then simmering them in the sauce, but the effort, in my opinion, is worth it! They are very tender and delicious, with just a little note of heat and sweetness.
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon oil, additional 2 tablespoons
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet, ripe mango
1 tablespoon lime zest
1-2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 large carrot, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1. Heat one tablespoon oil in a skillet and saute onion, garlic and jalapeno till golden. Take care not to burn. Add the oatmeal and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, combine turkey, sauted mixture from above and all remain ingredients through breadcrumbs.
3. Form into 1″ balls.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Remove to a platter. Note that the meatballs will not be cooked all the way through, so please resist the temptation to bite into one (though you will really be tempted!)
5. In a medium sauce pan,add a teaspoon of oil and saute the carrots for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and a bit of salt to taste. Stir in the orange marmalade and drop the meatballs into the pan. Gently toss to coat, cover and cook for 15 minutes, till the carrot is tender and sauce is a little thick.
6. Serve the meatball with rice, pasta or steamed veggies.
My kids love all sorts of granola, especially with fruits and nuts. I enjoy a bit of it tossed on top of Greek yogurt and fruits. Store-bought granola can be a time saver, but they are usually very heavy on sugar/corn syrup (or another sweetener) and fat. Granola, which could be something healthy and good for you often takes a backseat due to the many bad calories.
So, that nudged me to try a homemade granola recipe. This super easy granola recipe uses ingredients that you are likely to find in your pantry, along with a fresh apple to give that fall flair – albeit we are really closer to winter than fall!!
The hardest part of this recipe is really keeping an eye on the oat mixture as it slowly transforms into granola. You do have to take a peek every 15 min or so, and slowly toss them around to make sure they get cooked evenly without getting burnt. What I truly loved about this recipe was how I could control the amount of added sweetness. Even though honey or maple syrup is better than refined sugar, it’s still calories. Also, by adding in some applesauce, I was able to cut back on the oil as well.
I hope you will give this recipe a try. I really am not sure how long this would keep fresh, especially with fresh apples in it. I would think they should keep well in an airtight container for about a week.
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1 gala apple (or another firm apple of your choice), finely chopped
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 scoop vanilla flavored protein powder (optional)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted this)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 275F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, measure out old fashioned oats, chopped almonds, , chopped apples, chia, protein powder and coconut. Mix in the spices, including salt, if using.
3. In a small bowl, combine honey, coconut oil and apple sauce.
4. Add the honey mixture to the oats mixture and mix thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are well coated.
5. Transfer the granola mix on to the pan and spread the mixture evenly. Place in the preheated oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes lightly turning over the mixture every 15 minutes.
6. Remove the tray from the oven and let the granola cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container.
Hope this granola brightens your morning a little – especially because they truly are low in sugar and fat.
I love chickpeas – drained, rinsed and tossed in a variety of salads, transformed into a luscious channa masala curry and so on. While plain chickpeas are easy to drain out of a can onto a salad, roasted chickpeas elevate themselves to another level!
Roasting canned chickpeas may sound like a major undertaking, but it really isn’t. The hardest part is probably breaking away from whatever you are doing every 15 min or so to toss the chickpeas around so they roast evenly.
Despite how ridiculously easy this recipe is, the most exciting part is myriad of ways to season the chickpeas. You can literally use whatever flavors, spices or seasoning mix you want. Just choose what your heart desires along with couple of tablespoons of oil for a 29oz can of chickpeas. You can always divide the chickpeas into smaller amounts and use different seasonings – you just need to keep them separate while baking. I used spicy seasoning mixes, and hence these are roasted spicy chickpeas. I baked two batches, one with gochujang (Korean chili paste seasoning) and prepared zhoug sauce (it’s a Mediterranean sauce with cilantro, chili and spices and tastes very similar to Indian cilantro chutney. I bought mine from Trader Joe’s). Both types of roasted chickpeas were pleasantly flavored with very distinct flavor profiles which helps add variety to my salads this week (but geez, with the recall of romaine lettuce and all salad mixes containing romaine, it’s going to be a bit challenging to whip up quick salads. Kale anyone?!)
Roasted chickpeas won’t really have the same texture as store-bought ones in sealed packages. They tend to have a very crisp, hard texture. These home roasted chickpeas have a bite and are on the chewy side – in my opinion, perfect texture for a salad or snack.
2 tablespoons zhoug sauce (Trader Joe’s)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil (less oil due to the oil in the zhoug sauce)
2 tablespoons gochujang paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment and set aside.
2. Drain and rinse chickpeas from the two cans and divide among two medium sized bowls.
3. Add seasoning mix 1 and 2 to the bowls (of course, separately). Toss to coat well.
4. Transfer the chickpeas to the baking trays and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, taking care to check on the chickpeas every 15 minutes.
5. Chickpeas will look and feel dry when done. Remove from oven and let them cool completely. Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate. It will taste great at least for a week.
I know instant pots are all the rage now. I have heard of people who own these in various sizes! Not me…at least not yet. I haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet – and even if/when I do, I am quite confident I will not be owning more than one. So, for now, I do own an air fryer (have been for maybe a year now).
You may wonder what I have used it for. In all honesty, my husband has used it more often than I have – and definitely it is not to make anything meal worthy! He has only ever made frozen fries in them. They taste great, but I figured there should be other applications of the gadget than just for crisping up frozen food. So, I started experimenting, first with vegetables seasoned with salt and ever so slightly drizzled with oil. My favorite…eggplant slices and broccoli! Yum! Then, I got to thinking…and googling.
Damn! You can even make desserts in an air fryer! Wow! Anyway, I wanted to attempt a main dish, and hence was born this chicken and sweet potato recipe.
Honestly, you can use any seasoning for the chicken thighs (or drumstick or cut up breast). I happened to stumble upon harissa seasoning at a local TJMaxx (love the store for the interesting finds) and decided to try it. Harissa seasoning has complex spice notes with good amount of heat, so use it according to your taste. I needed to add salt because the bottle I bought did not have any.
After about 30+ minutes in the air fryer, the chicken thighs were super crispy on the outside (thanks to the skin) and juicy and delicious inside. Sweet potato took on a nice flavor from the chicken as well. The best compliment was “Hon, I am sorry, I don’t think I can eat the bone!” So, if you own an airfryer, you have to try this recipe. If not, either buy one or try the recipe in a 450F oven.
4 chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed, but with skin
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon harissa seasoning
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 medium sweet potato (or regular potato)
2 tablespoons oil, divided
Preheat the air fryer to 375F.
Score the skin side of the chicken thighs deeply with a sharp knife. Season with a blend of 1 tablespoon harissa and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste). Make sure seasoning gets into the cut slashes. Drizzle both sides with a tablespoon of oil.
Place chicken thighs, skin side down in the air fryer and cook for 10 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, peel and cut the sweet potato into large chunks, about 1″ wide. Toss with remaining salt, harissa and oil.
Remove the chicken thighs from the fryer and set aside on a plate.
Add the sweet potato to the air fryer and top with the chicken, this time with skin side up.
Cook for another 25 minutes or more till the chicken and sweet potato are cooked through and the top of the chicken is browned and crispy.
Transfer to serving plates and serve with other sides or vegetables for a wholesome, delicious dinner.
I am glad to admit that I am not a purist. There is something a bit more personal and exciting about bending the norms a little. At least in the food we enjoy! Think about it…if you always followed the same cake or casserole recipe, won’t you be bored? That’s when we get creative with tossing in a little bit of this and that or “wing it” along the way.
These falafels are the result of going with the flow and keeping my fingers crossed that they won’t be a crumbly or horrible tasting mess. Inspiration for this recipe, which uses cauliflower, sweet potato and black beans came from watching the recent trends with cauliflower everything, including pizza crust! PIZZA CRUST! If cauliflower could be a pizza crust, it better be a darn good falafel. And it delivered!
Honestly, these falafels are a winner not not because they have a good doze of veggies, but also because they are oven-baked with a light drizzle of oil and not deep fried like the traditional ones. What is not to love about it, right?! These delicious bites held their shape, stored well for few days refrigerated and made a perfect match as a salad topper or filler for a pita. So, go ahead and make a batch! You can drop a thank you note later! 🙂
Here is a simple, yet satisfying recipe with a South American twist – arepas with chicken and veggie stew (of course, accompanied by sauteed plantains).
I tried my first taste of an arepa not from a restaurant or at someone’s house – let alone in Columbia or Venezuela. I tried my first taste of it from one of many wonderful food carts in New Haven, CT. I am not really sure how an authentic arepa is supposed to taste, but what I tried few weeks ago was intriguing enough for me to do an online search for an arepa recipe. The arepa I tasted looked like a perfectly shaped pancake, though it was about 1/4 inch or so thick. It was soft and sweet and provided a pretty good balance to the savory meat and vegetables served alongside. So, reading through the recipes, I wasn’t quite sure if they were going to result in the version of arepa I tried, or the one that it was supposed to taste like. Only a native can confirm for me, I guess!
Anyway, the first thing I learned while reading through the recipes was there are different types of cornmeal/corn flour. The yellow cornmeal I was familiar with is NOT what you use to make arepas. You need precooked corn flour. Arepa flour is finer, and the at least the brand I bought (PAN) was definitely more white than yellow. After considering a few recipes, I settled for one that appealed to me for whatever reason. This one used a mixture of flour, grated cheese and sugar mixed with hot milk and melted butter.
You are right…I couldn’t get myself to use the whole 1/3rd cup sugar or the 6 tablespoons of butter the recipe called for. I used a little less than 1/4 cup sugar and about 2 tablespoons butter. I also used only 1% milk. Last modification to the original recipe was the omission of the cheese slice to make arepa sandwiches. So, either follow mine if you want a lighter version, or go with the original recipe at this site. With lower sugar and butter, the arepas tasted best freshly made. You also have to warm any leftover arepas so soften them as they do get firm when refrigerated.
I am not going to make yet another apology for being ridiculously tardy with my postings, so I will just jump to the recipe at hand!
Do you like fried chicken? Me neither! It’s not that it’s not yummy or satisfying. It sure is! The reason I don’t like it is because it is so damn bad for you…like looking at it on your plate makes you want to grab your chest like you can somehow feel the arteries getting clogged! Real fried chicken is definitely full of fat and calories – store-bought/ commercially prepared chunks likely brim with thousands of calories and more than a few days worth of saturated fat. So, yes, I don’t like them. I never order these from restaurants, but on a rare occasion, I do fantasize about biting into one with no regrets!
Hence, this attempt at making an oven-fried version, which will not make it to any healthy dish list, but at least satisfies one’s annual craving for fried chicken without a wholelot of guilt. I wanted to emphasize a few words in the previous sentence as this chicken is still an indulgence in my opinion. Although I carefully trimmed out most of the excess fat and good portion of the skin, there is still some of that bad stuff on the chicken. In addition, even though I skipped the deep frying, there is still some oil drizzled on the chicken before baking. So, all in all, please do indulge and enjoy this dish, but try with all your might to only make it on a rare occasion or two.
With that out of the way, this chicken is truly delicious. Marinating the meat in seasoned buttermilk (in my case, 1% milk soured with a bit of white vinegar) for 24 hours goes a long way in making sure the chicken tastes well seasoned and comes out juicy and delicious. Seasoning the flour mixture adds another layer of seasoning that makes the exterior of the chicken delectable as well. I debated going with just all-purpose flour, but then opted for a “house blend” of all-purpose, cornmeal, rice flour and cornstarch. In case you are wondering how I came up with this blend, honestly, 100% on a whim. I figured rice flour and cornstarch tend to make things crispy,cornmeal adds bit of a textural element and all-purpose flour, well, it’s “all-purpose”. I think this is a keeper! After all the waiting around with the marinating and long baking time, this recipe proved to be a winner. And the chicken tastes great even the next day!
8 chicken thighs, excess fat and skin trimmed carefully; deeply score the skin side
1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk made with a cup of milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar)
1 teaspoon salt
Cayenne powder to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon)
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon each, onion powder and garlic powder
1/4 cup each all-purpose flour, rice flour, cornmeal and cornflour
Cayenne powder to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon extra hot)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons canola oil
1. Blend all marinade ingredients. Pour over chicken thighs arranged in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 425F.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flours with ingredients through parsley leaves.
4. Remove chicken pieces from the marinade. Blot dry (I skipped this step because I was in a mad dash to the next step for no real good reason).
5. Toss the chicken pieces one at a time in the flour mixture until well coated. I even made sure some of the flour mixture got in between the slits on the skin side.
6. Arrange the coated chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil, skin side up.
7. Cover the chicken pieces with a good coating of cooking spray. Drizzle the oil evenly over all the chicken pieces.
8. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes till juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through.
9. Serve with sides of your choice (Tip: a good serving of vegetable should at least take some of the guilt off!) Enjoy!
As the long summer days wound down, I was kind of excited about welcoming the glorious colors of fall! Bright hues of red, yellow, orange and brown with quickly fading greens bursting in the canopies! But, fall splendor seems to be quite elusive this year!
Despite the lack of the autumn chill, I still had the timely craving for something comforting and delicious to enjoy! My appetite is so predictable! Anyway, my craving for some homemade hashbrown (potato kind), eggs and bacon didn’t really stick. For once, I convinced myself quite easily to try to make something a little lighter and healthier. As I made a mental run of things in the refrigerator, I paused at zucchinis and Granny Smith apples.
I decided to make some sort of a fritter using zucchini and apple, but without any eggs. I made a version of these with eggs, and decided I am not a big fan of egg-y fritters. If you like crispy texture, you will probably not enjoy this the way I made it – unless you coat it with breadcrumbs and bake/fry. These fritters (“hashbrowns”) are sort of creamy, sort of soft, sort of pate-ish. Not sure how to explain them, but they are delicious. They are very light, so you can easily eat half the fritters…and it’s OK if you do because they are, in my opinion, quite healthy! Curry powder adds a certain depth to these fritters and I highly recommend you use them. But, if you don’t have it in your pantry, you can skip it.
These fritters are quite versatile. They will go well with eggs for breakfast or with rice and curries for a main course or just a little snack! I also stored leftovers for couple of days in the refrigerator and they warmed up beautifully in the microwave. Hope you give this recipe a try!
2 zucchinis, grated
1/2 Granny Smith apple, grated
2 scallions, green and white part minced finely
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder, if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
Few tablespoons of oil to pan fry the fritters
1) Squeeze excess water out of the grated zucchini and apple and add to a medium bowl.
2) Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well by hand. This helps breakdown the ingredients a little so they are easy to form into little patties later on.
3) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to let the cornmeal and flour soak up any excess liquid.
4) Heat a frying pan over medium heat and a tablespoon of oil. Swirl around to coat.
5) Form the mixture into golf-ball sized round. Place a few in the pan with enough room around them so you can flatten the balls into small disks, about 3″ wide.
6) Cook on one side for 2 minutes or so till golden brown. Flip carefully onto the other side and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a serving platter and enjoy warm.
No apologies this time because I never seem to learn. So, let me just jump to what I am about to share – a simple recipe for an incredibly satisfying soup that I really, REALLY hope you all will try to make at least once – especially as the leaves start to change colors and the air begins to get crisp!
I was browsing through the web looking for inspirations to use quinoa and potato in a simple, yet satisfying recipe. Yes, it was a weeknight yesterday, but since I was able to get home a little earlier than usual, I had a little extra time to put into prepping dinner. This is not an original recipe of mine. It just altered this a bit, but this is largely a Taste of Home recipe.
All you need is a combination of your favorite soup vegetables and quinoa (any kind will be fine, but the tri-color blend I used was phenomenal) and voila, you can whip up this soup without much fuzz. Trust me, if you make it once, you are going to want to make it again (how about topped with a bit of crumbled bacon bits next time!).
Here is an amusing aside (or something to make you go what a fool!)!
Addition of jalapeno was a great idea to add a much appreciated kick to the soup. Of course, this particular jalapeno happened to be a super spicy one. I am the type of person who tinkers around in the garden with bare hands, minces up spicy peppers like they are just little fruits and pulls hot pans out of the oven with just a kitchen towel or paper towel! Yes, I never learn and I have scars to prove Last night was a repeat of the familiar story. Just as I rinsed my hands (yes, no scrubbing under nail) after mincing the jalapeno, I must have promptly rubbed my left eye lid. Initially, I just felt a weird sensation and I wasn’t quite sure what that was. Then, I felt it – the much familiar burn of hot pepper smear! Ouch. Then I remembered the coconut oil in the pantry. Ladies (and gentlemen), if you ever experience a similar thing, just dab a bit of coconut oil (REMEMBER TO WASH YOUR HANDS REALLY WELL BEFORE APPLYING) on the affected area. Grit your teeth and go about your work for 3 ymin or so. It’s like a miracle, how the simple oil just eases away the burn!
Now, jump on to the recipe and enjoy this delightful bowl of soup for your next meal! I am already dreaming about enjoying the leftover for lunch tomorrow!
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 – 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 cup chopped potato (I used russet for creaminess)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (de-seeded if you prefer the soup mild)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 32-oz vegetable broth
1 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup light cream
1 tablespoon crumbled dried thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
1) Heat a large stock pan over medium heat and dry roast quinoa for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the quinoa to a bowl and return pan to heat.
2) Add the oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrot, red pepper, jalapeno and potato for 3 minutes.
3) Add the flour and stir in, breaking up any lumps. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
4) Add the corn kernels and the vegetable broth, cover and cook on medium low heat for 25-30 minutes till vegetables are tender and quinoa is cooked through.
5) Stir in the milk, light cream and thyme. Adjust seasonings with a dash or salt and pepper, as needed.
6) Let simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes.
Serving Suggestion: This soup can be topped with a bit of grated cheddar or a dollop of sour cream. For an extra indulgence, you can also sprinkle a few crushed tortilla chips.