Comfort Food: Spicy Chicken Soup

I was feeling a little under the weather earlier this week and thus was needing some spicy chicken soup. So, I poked around the internet and then threw together a combo of what I found. It turned out quite spicy and delicious and was exactly what I needed. Plus, like so often with the crockpot, it just got better (though less spicy) as the week went on. I served it piping out with shredded cabbage on top. So here it is!

The Recipe:

Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker (in whatever order you deem best). Then, turn on high for five hours (I then left it on low for another hour or so). You could also add tomatoes (which I might do next time).

  • Chicken tenders
  • Veggie broth (2/3 a box from TJs)
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (to thicken the broth)
  • Mirepoix (I was feeling lazy so I got the pre-chopped kind from TJs)
  • 4-5 yellow potatoes cubed
  • Garlic (to your taste)
  • 1 can salsa (I use green tomatillo salsa from TJs)
  • Spices: smoked paprika, cumin,  cayenne, red chili flakes, salt, and of course pepper to taste
  • Shredded cabbage to garnish

Sunday Ingredient: Shishito Peppers

We almost didn’t go to the Farmers’ Market on Sunday because it was pouring. Like sheets of rain with a super dark sky, pouring. But, then luckily after a couple hours and an FM opening delay, the sun came out and the market opened. So we took a walk and then stopped by to find our new ingredient. While wandering the market and getting my weekly haul of okra, we happened upon super pretty small green peppers and so we decided to give them a shot.

IMG_2336I didn’t make them last night though as I made enough turkey chili over the weekend to feed a small army. But, decided tonight after I had some chili for lunch and the Shishito peppers would make a grand appetizer. It turns out they did! They were smokey and refreshing with the lemon sprinkled on top and super salty. Some of the peppers were even secretly hot, which was kind of exciting in the eating process since there’s no way (that I know) to tell which ones will burn your mouth a little.

Plus, making them was super simple with this recipe from Epicurious. Plus, it was really fun to have a multi-course meal (the pepper appetizers were followed by a salad with roasted chickpeas and avocado). I definitely plan on making these again! Especially as I can imagine them tasting delicious with a dry rose or! maybe even pairing well with a margarita …


  • Shishito Peppers
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 a fresh squeezed lemon

The Recipe:

  • Rinse the shishito peppers and then throw them whole into your pan (I used a cast iron, which was awesome) with olive oil and sea salt.
  • Cook on medium to high until one side has blistered/burned.
  • Then shuffle them around/flip them over.
  • Meanwhile, squeeze 1/2 a lemon into a prep bowl.
  • Once both sides of the peppers, remove them from the heat and add more salt and the lemon.
  • Eat the whole pepper! Throw the stems in a different bowl.

Best show to watch while eating them:

  • NCIS: The CBS major hit about Navy cops. I find the show strangely comforting–perhaps due to its crime-of-the-week format and the fun sarcastic banter of the characters.

Comfort Food & Spicing Up Potatoes

Sometimes a bad day requires comfort cooking or rather the comfort of cooking. Today was mostly that kind of day and I needed to use the remnants of food that we brought back from the beach, including a bag of small potatoes (before I could do real grocery shopping). I eat a lot (like a lot!) of potatoes and was feeling a little bored of frying and roasting and my normal set of flavors (normally garlic and onion and pepper). Thus, in a quest to find something a little new but still simple, I happened upon this recipe: Oven Roasted Baby Red Potatoes that much to my delight included parsley, an often forgotten (on my part) and quite loved herb.

I followed all the steps in the original recipe but switched out chopped garlic for pressed (we do not own a garlic press because I do not like cleaning them) and opted for fresh parsley and also we didn’t have red potatoes, so I used just small brown ones.

The result was potatoes that were just (just) a little different and fresher and generally delicious, which was just what I needed on this strangely rainy summer day (although this is the South and it rains a lot in the summer here!). Sometimes  I just need to feel creative in the kitchen or make something tangible as my job mostly involves (especially when I’m not teaching) writing on the computer, producing things certainly but not things that I can touch or taste. I think, sometimes, this is why cooking is such a good outlet for me! That and then I get to eat the product, which is a major benefit.

potatoesThe Recipe:

  • Use one bag of small potatoes (of any variety)
  • A handful of fresh chopped parsley and at least 1 clove of chopped garlic

Chop your potatoes into twos or threes and put them in water to boil for 7-8 minutes. While they are boiling, chop your garlic and parsley and drop them into your big bowl. Once the potatoes are done, throw them in the mix with some olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste (I tasted quite a few because they were delicious). Lastly, throw them in the oven on a baking sheet for about 25 minutes at 425 degrees (or until they browned on at least one side).

I served them with sautéed kale with zucchini and garlic (in the lemon/garlic salt I made for my wedding) and then made hummus for protein and piled everything together in a bowl.

PS Just in case you (like me) need a movie to accompany you whilst cooking: check out the ever-wonderful Kinky Boots (available on Netflix) about a shoe factory in northern England.

Midweek snack: Marinated Zucchini

This last week, I found (unsurprisingly perhaps) a giant zucchini and summer squash at the farmer’s market. They were so pretty and looked so good that I got one of each. Honestly, I wish I had bought more! But, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them … I debated stuff squash (inspired by something my dad made last week) and then zucchini and squash pasta–but wasn’t feeling that either. And, then as I googled zucchini-related options, I came across this gem: Garlic-Marinated Zucchini. I was immediately inspired as it contained so many of favorite things including lots of garlic and salt (and the husband claims to be getting sick, so the more garlic the better, right?!).

I made a couple changes to the recipe due to the limits of my kitchen: apple cider vinegar for red wine and fun Italian herbs for oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. And, of course I added half a summer squash.

Other than that, I followed the recipe step by step (including the super fun rub salt on your veggies and let them hang out for 30 minutes). As I let the zucchini and squash sit, I made cauliflower rice, sautéed green beans in garlic, and roasted some chickpeas. Then, dinner consisted of piling everything on top of the rice and it was delicious and light and good for a summer meal! The zucchinis and squash were so amazing and refreshing and worked well with the other vegetables, especially due to the vinegar I think. Plus, there are leftovers for tomorrow, which I cannot wait to eat. I contend the zucchini and squash will make a fantastic midweek snack.

Summer Cocktails: Palomas

Last Friday I was listening the radio on my way home from taking the dog to the Beltline and was delighted to find out that it was National Tequila Day. I felt confident it was a made-up (i.e. fake marketing) holiday but I also felt that it would such a shame not to celebrate it! Plus, it was my last week of teaching for the summer term (which has been a serious sprint: five weeks to teach writing and multimodal communication! It was fun but I was excited to be done.). Thus, it seemed like the stars had aligned for a tequila-oriented celebration.

After many years of not drinking cocktails, due to anxiety about what the alcohol contained (in terms of allergens) and the fear of feeling terrible after, even after only one drink (again due to allergens), I’ve recently rediscovered tequila and experimented with margaritas. I’ve been totally delighted to find out that with good ingredients and less sugar, I wind up without a hangover after a couple margaritas. This has been great news for me because I love margaritas–especially with the salt rim–and my birthday is Cinco de Mayo and so I’ve missed celebrating with an appropriate and festive drink pairing.

Image-1For national tequila day, I wanted something a little different though. So, I poked around the internet and found Palomas and a lovely recipe from Bon Apetit. I made one key change to the recipe, switching out club soda for grapefruit flavored bubbly water and then slightly adjusted the rest a bit too. For the palomas, all the ingredients were fresh squeezed, which meant I finally bought myself a small juicer (which cost me $5 and has already payed for itself in usage. I can’t believe how long I’ve waited to buy one–like 5 years.).

Mine didn’t look as pretty as the Bon Apetit ones, but they were so good and refreshing and felt very celebratory. Inspired by the drinks, we had burrito bowls for dinner (with cauliflower rice as a base), but that’s a different post. All in all, it was quite a delightful success and I’m so grateful to National Tequila Day for providing the motivation/inspiration.

The Recipe: Palomas

This combo will make 2 medium-sized palomas. Take a grapefruit wedge and rub the rim of each glass and then rub sea salt on them. Then, squeeze the grapefruit and lime into a container and pour half of the juice they produce into each glass. Add a pinch of sugar to each and mix it all together. Then, add the tequila and the grapefruit bubbly water to fill the glass. Add a couple cubes of ice and toast away!

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 lime
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 shot of tequila
  • Grapefruit-flavored bubbly water

Sunday Ingredient: Okra

As a kid growing up in California, I never had heard of okra much less tried it. The first time I ate it was (I think?) in a friend’s gumbo and my first reactions were (sad to say) a little confused and not terribly supportive of the weirdly slimy vegetable. But! Then, I moved to the South, made my own gumbo for the first time, and came quickly to realize how delicious and amazing okra truly is. Plus, it is super good for you as it is packed with nutrients, high in fiber, and Image-1 2high in antioxidants. Until tonight I had only used frozen okra and it turns out (perhaps unsurprisingly) that the fresh variety, which I found this morning at the farmer’s market (the lovely Sunday one in Grant’s Park) is worlds (!!!) better.

Finding okra at the market this morning inspired both tonight’s meal and a new cooking project: finding a new-to-me ingredient at the farmer’s market each Sunday and building Sunday’s dinner around that ingredient. I’m hoping that it inspires a lack of boredom in the cooking department and helps me branch out and learn new things in the kitchen arena.

For tonight’s meal, I looked up a bunch of fried okra recipes and then took what I learned and modified the recipes to be gluten and corn free (getting rid of the cornmeal was sadly key for me as I have to avoid corn). The results were super exciting and delicious and both of us were IMG_2185sad that all the okra was gone and in our tummies. I used eggs, seasoning, and garbanzo bean flour (my fave of the gluten free variety) and cooked everything in a cast iron pan. Then, to go with the fried okra, I sautéed up some greens (a cool spinach from the farmer’s market, whose name is escaping me. But, the awesome guy at the market stand let us taste the spinach before buying it, which was so fun.) and made some quinoa as a base to throw it all on top of. For a little spice, I added some green tomatillo salsa from TJs.

I love (love!) fried food and cannot wait to make fried okra again.  I am fully converted from a blithely unaware and unappreciative-of-okra Californian to a major champion of the slimy (and IMG_2192supremely healthy) veggie.

The Recipe: GF Fried Okra

First, chop the okra into 1/4 inch pieces and then rinse it all off. Then, throw the newly rinsed okra in a bowl with the flour, egg, and seasoning. Make sure the okra is all evenly coated! I saw some recipes that used a big ziplock to do this but I just tossed it all around with a fork in the bowl I was using. Then, heat the oil (I just olive oil as my staple) in a cast iron pan and once it is hot, throw in your dough-covered okra. Cook on medium heat and let it brown and then flip it over until the second side browns. And, done. Snack away.

  • Fresh okra (about a 1 cup … but I wish I had had more!)
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a pinch of smoked paprika (all to taste)

For the greens, I just sautéed spinach with garlic, sea salt, pepper, and onions. Between the greens, the garbanzo-bean encrusted okra, and the quinoa, the resulting dinner was a southern-inspired meal chock full of protein and salty goodness.

For the Love of Cauliflower

Summer in Georgia is HOT. Like, really hot. And, humid. As a result, cooking anything seems to make me just feel hotter. I love roasting things from chickpeas to potatoes and beyond but that just feels far too heat-producing these days. At the same time, I’ve been experiencing salad-boredom, a condition I routinely feel in the summer. Thus, I’ve been trying to brave the heat and hit the stove. Recently too, I’ve spend a lot of time experimenting with cauliflower, a vegetable that until recently I believed was my food nemesis.

When I was kid, I would refuse cauliflower at all costs, including foregoing desert. Then, I literally didn’t eat cauliflower until this last year. That is almost 20 years without even once considering cauliflower as an option. So, getting over my feelings was no small feat. The promise of rice, which I can’t eat the normal kind, was enough to begin my newfound love affair with the vegetable. Plus! Cauliflower is so good for you, which I hadn’t realized. Thus, once I got past the smIMG_2155ell (which is pretty weird), a whole new world of rice and tortillas and pizza crusts opened up to me.

So, tonight I was trying to figure out something to go with delicious steak we got yesterday (from the amazing Spotted Trotter) for a Sunday night dinner and had a cauliflower desperately in need of use in the fridge. In search of something that would combine the two, I found a recipe for Cauliflower Fritters with Avocado Lime Sauce, which looked easy (both the pizza dough and tortillas can be a bit time consuming and labor intensive for just an average day), delicious, and refreshing.

The recipe turned out to be amazing! I just made a couple alterations, switching out coconut flour for garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob’s Redmill), which I like more just broadly as a flour substitute. Then, I also added cilantro to the avocado lime sauce, which gave it a little more kick.

The final step was to make a spinach salad with apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing (s&p to taste!). Then, I served up the fritters and avocado sauce with steak and a the salad on the side and garnished with cilantro. It turned out to be the perfect summer meal in two ways. The first was that it was not too heavy but still substantial and refreshing and the second was that it didn’t make me too hot while cooking (a major summertime plus).

IMG_2159One recommendation I will make: only cook cauliflower, when you can open the windows and doors, because (again) the weird smell. Hence, why the lone cauliflower had sat in my fridge all week (i.e. it had been way to hot to open any windows.) Luckily tonight was cool enough that between fans and open windows and doors, we could air out the house a bit, which made all the difference and resulted in delicious fritters, which I’m definitely making again.

The Recipe:

Cauliflower Fritters:

Rice the cauliflower and then cook for a couple minutes in a frying pan (with olive oil) with the lid on. Then, take the lid off and cook the rice for a couple more minutes. Then, remove the rice from the pan, put it in a bowl, and place it in the fridge. Once the rice has cooled off, add all the ingredients and mix them together. It should make an almost paste-like substance. Then, scoop a dollop (I just used a tablespoon) into the pan and let it cook until the first side browns, flip over and do it again. Make as many as the batter takes. Remove from pan and eat!

    • 1 head medium cauliflower
    • 1 Tbs. olive oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 5 tsp. garbanzo bean flour
    • Sea salt to taste
    • Olive oil for cooking
Lime Avocado Sauce
Blend everything together in a Cuisinart (or something of that ilk) and refrigerate for a bit before serving.
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 fresh lime (juiced)
  • Pinch of fresh cilantro
  • Salt and peper, to taste

Breakfasts, Birthdays, and Beyond

Yesterday was the BF’s birthday and while I gave him his present, we had to spend the whole day at my graduation. We had a lot of fun–including family, friends, beer, wine, sun, and snacks. Plus, we brought the pup and he is always good company. However, we didn’t have much time to celebrate his birthday and so this morning I thought a birthday breakfast was in order. I really like birthdays (not my own but everyone else’s) and I love making fun special meals, especially since I rarely actually make breakfast (I’m more of a lunch person).

In celebration of the BF’s birthday then, I made scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and socca. All gluten free and all wound up being pretty delicious. The eggs were scrambled and had stir-fried onion, basil, and nutritional yeast. I cooked the turkey bacon in a little olive oil and salt and the socca was plenty oily and salty (which is how I love it).

It was pretty fun to eat breakfast together and hang out on a beautiful Portland morning. Plus, since school is out for the summer (for both of us), a big and celebratory breakfast was the perfect prelude to a relaxing and lazy afternoon after a hectic couple days (or year for that matter). I think I had forgotten how fun making breakfast is or even how nice it is to kick off a day with brunch. But there is something so lovely about starting the day with a meal, chatting, and having coffee.

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Dessert for Dinner: Chocolate Coconut Mousse

I’ve long felt that one of the best parts (maybe even then best part) of being a grown-up is having dessert for dinner. I realized this perk near the end of college when I was living with my best friend in Washington D.C. While we ate a lot of soup and rice and I imagine stir fry that summer, I have a distinct memory of eating many dessert-filled meals. It was my childhood dream come true–as much as I love vegetables, although I’m not sure that I loved veggies as much back then–where I wouldn’t have to finish my dinner before dessert.

Strangely in the last few years, my sweet tooth has–shall we say–lessoned, swung more towards salt (although, I’ve always loved salt) and all things salty. However, on occasion–and often on somewhat rough days–I still celebrate adulthood by having dessert for dinner. Today, was one of those days and so I decided to make a chocolate coconut mousse.

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