Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes with Chicken

Chicken with Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes

I got back to South Carolina Tuesday night from a 2 week trip to Texas. My sons and I had a great time visiting family and friends, but it is good to be home. My husband did not go on the trip with us. While he was home, he looked after my garden and picked up our CSA boxes. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of produce (tomatoes, a variety of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, corn, winter squashes, and blueberries) I came home to. It was time to get to work.

tomatoes (526x343)

I was too tired to go to the grocery store Wednesday, so I came up with this dish. I really liked how this Mediterranean-inspired concoction turned out. Summer comfort food. I added a dash of Penzey’s Bourquet Garni herb mix (a mix of savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, dill, marjoram, sage, and tarragon) to the veggie mixture as it cooked. I didn’t include it in the recipe, but feel free to add your favorite herbs/herb mix. Serve this stew-like dish over rice or pasta (orzo).

Chicken, Peppers, and Tomatoes 2

Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes with Chicken

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I cut them in half horizontally to make the pieces smaller)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Italian eggplant, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces (or use equivalent amount of Japanese eggplant)
2 bell peppers, stem removed, seeded, and chopped
3 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the oil. Cook the chicken until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the chopped onions to the pan and cook until softened. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes, and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces back to the mixture and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the veggies and chicken are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and season the dish with salt and black pepper. Serve with hot rice or pasta.

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale (640x400)

I planted 9 Lacinato kale plants in my flowerbeds and garden earlier this year. Despite deer munching on some of the plants, there is quite of bit of kale ready to be harvested. The kale is a tad bit bitter, so I wanted to cook it rather than use it raw in a salad. I’m a fan of soups made with beans and greens. I had not paired black beans and kale together before, but I thought they went well together. This soup is wonderful. I’m sure using collard greens instead of kale would be equally delicious.

Several times a year, I roast and chop poblano peppers, and freeze them in 1/2 cup portions. I use the frozen chiles in soups, enchiladas, sauces, and egg dishes. Poblanos can vary in heat. The ones I used for this soup were on the spicier side, but the diced avocado I added to my soup bowl helped calm my taste buds.

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale 2 (640x480)

Spicy Black Bean and Hominy Soup with Kale

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped (optional)
1 7 ounce can salsa verde (I use Herdez brand)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 small bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped (I prefer Lacinato kale)
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained
2 poblano chiles, roasted, skin and seeds removed, and chopped (or a small can of chopped green chiles) – see instructions on roasting chiles below
1 15.5 ounce can hominy, drained
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 a cup and extra for garnish)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and jalapeno; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the salsa verde, vegetable broth, and kale. Cook until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the black beans, roasted poblano chiles, and hominy. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the freshly chopped cilantro and serve with diced fresh avocado.

To roast poblano chiles:
Preheat broiler to high. Place poblano chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 miutes until each side is blackened and charred. Place in a large bowl and cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chiles, cut in half lengthwise, discard seeds and membranes, and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Kale and Cannellini Soup

Kale and Cannellini Soup

Here is another easy soup featuring greens and beans.  This vegan broth-based vegetable soup is perfect for lunch or as a first course of a larger meal.

Kale and Cannellini Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
8 cups vegetable broth
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1 15.5 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 medium red potatoes, diced (you could use any type of potato you wanted)
4 cups of kale, stems and ribs removed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil over medium heat until it begins to soften. Add the minced garlic and celery, and cook 1 minute more. Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, diced potatoes, and kale. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a slow boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with dried chile flakes, salt, and pepper. Serve.

Chickpea and Potato Stew

Chickpea and Potato Stew

This easy, flavorful, inexpensive, and healthy stew makes for a quick meal. Serve it with hot rice.

Chickpea and Potato Stew

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 cup water
2 large potatoes, diced
1 15.5 ounce can no salt chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, plus additional for garnish
1 medium tomato, diced

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cumin seeds in oil for 10 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the ground coriander, cayenne, water, potatoes, chickpeas, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Add the cilantro and diced tomato. Cook another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and serve with hot rice.

LID Sopa Ranchera

Sopa Ranchera is one of my favorite soups and it was easy to adapt it for my low iodine diet (LID). I like adding toppings like fresh cilantro, sliced fresh chiles, crumbled tortilla chips, and/or diced avocado to my bowl of Sopa Ranchera. The cool and creamy avocado kind of melts into the soup. So good. This soup freezes very well, so make it ahead of time and freeze in individual portions.

LID Sopa Ranchera

LID Sopa Ranchera

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups unsalted chicken broth or the equivalent of water and unsalted vegetable bouillon (I used Rapunzel brand)
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can (14.5 ounces) unsalted diced tomatoes and their juices (I used Hunt’s brand)
1 (15.5 ounces) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained (I used about 2 cups of garbanzos that I prepared with kosher salt)
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges
sliced chiles (jalapenos or serranos)
diced avocado
crumbled tortilla chips (Frito Lay does not use iodized salt in their products)

To prepare soup, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion; saute 3 minutes. Add oregano, cumin, and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add chicken broth (or water and unsalted bouillon), potatoes, tomatoes, and chickpeas; bring to a boil, and cook 10 minutes. Add corn, salt, and zucchini; cook 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Ladle soup into bowls, and top with toppings of your choice.

Crockpot Chicken and Chicken Stock

Crockpot Chicken is so easy to prepare. It takes less than 5 minutes to get the chicken started in the crockpot. The chicken always turns out tender and moist.

Making stock from the left over bones and skin is super easy too. The only thing that I hate about preparing chicken and stock is the way it makes my house smell all day. I do not like the smell of cooking meat.

I’m on my first day of a low iodine diet (LID) to prepare for an upcoming radioactive iodine treatment (RAI).  My plan was to have one of the chicken breasts for dinner and then shred the remaining meat and making stock to use in  LID Chicken and Noodles tomorrow.

Crockpot Chicken (640x480)

Crockpot Chicken

1 whole chicken (I prefer hormone and antibiotic free)
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Some whole chickens have a packet of giblets inside. Remove any giblets and save for making stock. Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the whole chicken in the crockpot. Season with kosher salt and pepper. You can also season it with a favorite spice mix, if you would like. There is no need to add any liquid but you could add other flavoring ingredients like garlic, herbs, vegetables (carrots, celery, onion), or citrus fruits (lemons, limes) at this time. I like crockpot chicken with a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary and a whole lemon (cut in half). Replace the lid and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. The meat will be tender, moist, and falling off the bone. Remove all the meat and return the bones, skin, and any left over bits to the crockpot to make stock.

Crockpot Chicken Stock

chicken bones and skin from Crockpot Chicken
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of whole pepper corns
kosher salt, to taste

Once your whole chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the crockpot. Remove all the meat and return any bones, skin, and anything leftover to the crockpot. Add the reserved giblets, if you have them. Add the chopped onion, celery, and carrot, as well as, the garlic cloves, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Fill the crockpot almost to the top with filtered water. Cook in the crockpot on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Making Chicken Stock (640x480)

Season to taste with kosher salt. When stock has finished cooking, ladle into a fine sieve to strain out the bones, veggies, herbs, etc… You can line the sieve with cheesecloth or a paper towel to strain the finer bits, if you like.

Straining Chicken Stock (640x458)

Refrigerate the stock. The fat will rise to the top and solidify. Skim off the fat before using the stock. I measure out the stock in 2 cups portions and freeze in a labeled Ziploc freezer bag for future use. It is okay if your stock is gelatinous. Some people prefer it that way and think it is more nutritious. It will liquefy when heated.

Southwest Chicken (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Southwest Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meal (LID)

On January 30th of this year, I underwent a total thyroidectomy due to papillary thyroid cancer. The surgery went well although it left me with a 6 inch scar on the front of my neck. The next step in my treatment is to ingest radioactive iodine (RAI) to ablate any remaining thyroid/thyroid cancer cells in my body. One of the things I have to do to prepare for RAI is to go on a low iodine diet (LID) 2 weeks beforehand in order to starve any remaining thyroid cells so that they will more readily absorb the radioactive iodine.

The low iodine diet is quite restrictive. Iodized or sea salt (Kosher and non-iodized salt is ok), dairy products, soy products, seafood, sea vegetables, eggs, cured foods, foods containing certain red dyes, any foods containing the previously mentioned ingredients, and most commercial bread products are not allowed on the diet. Basically, I can only eat foods I prepare myself with allowed ingredients. Planning ahead seems like the best plan of action to ensure I make it through the diet at a time when I may be so exhausted from not having a thyroid. Crockpot freezer meals prepared with LID-allowed foods will be helpful.

This Southwest Chicken (I know I labeled my bags as Cilantro-Lime Chicken, but I think Southwest Chicken better describes the meal) recipe is based on a bunch I’ve seen on Pinterest and adapted to fit my needs and taste. It can be served with rice (basmati is best for LID and should be limited) or in a salt-free tortilla (the corn tortillas I buy do not contain salt).

Southwest Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meal

Southwest Chicken (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Per freezer meal (double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to make multiple meals):
1 pound chicken breasts (skinless and boneless)
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a bunch of cilantro, washed and finely chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 15.5 ounce can unsalted black beans, drained or 1 1/2 cups black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lime

For each freezer meal, place all of the ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. It’s helpful to label the bag with a Sharpie before you add the ingredients. I write the date and cooking instructions on the bag. Remove as much as air as you can and seal the bag. Flatten out the ingredients and lay flat in the freezer. Once frozen, you can stand the freezer meals up vertically to make more space.

To cook, defrost the freezer meal in the refrigerator overnight. Pour ingredients out into the crockpot. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken, shred it, and then return it to the crockpot.

Serve the Southwest Chicken in salt-free tortillas (check label for other non-allowed ingredients) for burritos or tacos or with rice for a rice bowl. Some homemade LID-safe salsa would go perfect with these meal. If you are not on the low iodine diet, you can enhance your meal with cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, etc…. The possibilities are endless.