Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

Hello wonderful!

IMG_5620I decided to challenge myself in a way I never have in the kitchen before: I decided to bake a chicken. A whole chicken.

My typical experience cooking chicken involving baking pre-sliced chicken breast in the oven or on a skillet, but once I read Serena’s Best Roast Chicken Ever recipe I knew I had to give this a shot. If you have not checked out her blog Domesticate Me I highly recommend that you do; Serena has some great food ideas and some serious skills!

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Okay, back to the chicken. I knew based on the recipe reviews that this dish was good, but I did not know just how DELICIOUS it was going to be! Incredibly flavorful and a very versatile entrée that can go with a number of side dishes. I decided to eat the chicken along with some steamed broccoli and brown rice, and I ladled the sauce that the chicken cooks in over everything and it was a great decision.

Oh, and I have the mention that the aroma coming out of the oven when the chicken is baking is phenomenal. Your whole home will smell of baking chicken. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors want to join you for dinner!

A note on the baking process: since I do not own a Dutch oven, I used a large saucepan and covered the chicken with a double-layer of aluminum foil. Worked like a charm!

You can find the recipe here.

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Mason Jar Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

Did anyone make the New Years resolution to eat better? Well if you did, then I am sure you have heard a lot about how important it is to get a healthy breakfast. I am one of those people who love breakfast food (breakfast lovers: you know who you are) so I typically have no problem making myself a nice breakfast in the morning to fuel my day.

Despite all of my love for the first meal of the day, I had a lot of difficulty last week trying to get myself breakfast! I have had to get out the door super early (5:15am), and I was struggling to throw together something to eat that could satiate my hunger and give me energy to make it through the morning. That is, until I thought up this little yogurt parfait here.

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“Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry”…because I have this delicious yogurt parfait!

 

Part parfait, part overnight oatmeal, this breakfast-to-go has it all: whole grains, fruits, and protein. I know I am super late jumping on the mason jar train, but I am so glad I did. This is just the cutest little breakfast I have ever seen! And this mason jar packs a filling and nutritious punch. If trying to get a healthy breakfast to-go is your challenge, then look no further than this adorable and customizable start to the day.

Mason Jar Blueberry Yogurt Parfait (serves 1)

IngredientsIMG_5640

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or any yogurt flavor of your choice!)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (or any fruit of your choice!)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Mason jar

Directions

  1. The night before: layer the yogurt, berries, and oats into the mason jar in whatever order you would like. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, if desired. Cover mason jar with lid and store in the refrigerator.
  2. The next morning: grab your mason jar out of the fridge, grab yourself a spoon, and have breakfast whenever you’d like!

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories: 250
  • Protein: 21g
  • Carbohydrates: 39g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 25g
  • Calcium: 348 mg
  • Potassium: 499 mg
  • Sodium: 134 mg

 

 

 

Acai Bowl

I usually don’t have time to sit down and have a relaxing breakfast in the morning, but in the name of Spring, I decided today I would make myself an acai bowl.

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What’s an acai bowl, you ask? Think of it as a the most delicious smoothie ever covered in toppings and eaten with a spoon. The acai bowl consists of blended frozen acai berries (and fruit) covered in a variety of toppings (like granola, hemp seeds, fresh fruit). It’s tasty beyond description and the contrast of the soft-serve like fruit to the crunchy toppings in addicting. I am always disappointed when the whole bowl is gone.

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Acai is a berry that most will tell you is a “superfood”. Though technically research is still ongoing regarding the health benefits of acai, science has  shown that it does have a high level of antioxidants. It’s a berry that packs a nutritional punch!

And it turns out the brand Sambazon is selling frozen organic acai berries at the grocery store, which is great for someone like me who does not want to spend $10 on breakfast (acai bowls can be pretty pricey). Buying your own frozen acai has another benefit; besides being financially savvy, it will also allow you to add whatever you want and really get creative! I had a lot of fun opening up my cabinets and seeing what I could possibly sprinkle on top. The recipe below is simply an example of the things you can put into your acai bowl. So give yourself some extra time to make this delicious frozen treat for breakfast in the morning, it’s worth it!

Acai Bowl (makes 1)IMG_4117

Ingredients

For the Bowl

  • 1 packet of Sambazon unsweetened pure acai berry
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla soymilk

For the Toppings

  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/4 cup granola

Directions

  1. Per the directions on the back of the frozen acai, run the package under water for 5 seconds. Place acai in the blender along with other fruits and milk (can use water or juice if preferred, and can also add sweetener).
  2. Blend on the highest setting. The mixture will be very thick, like frozen yogurt.
  3. Pour frozen mixture into a bowl and cover with toppings of choice.
  4. Relax and enjoy!

Feel Stressed? Eat a Salad!

This last week was a doozy for me. You know that feeling that there aren’t enough hours in a day to get things done? I actually think I experienced that firsthand. Usually when life gets a little hectic I tend to naturally reach for something sweet: a cookie, some candy, even a spoon of peanut butter. While these things are all delicious (and tend to make me happier in the moment), they definitely do not lend well to eating healthy. And I can become even more concerned when I realize I have eaten a whole package of cookies/candies/peanut butter.

This was not my approach to food during this bout of busyness. Last week I made sure my meals were nourishing and satisfying, allowing me to maximize my brain power to tackle anything in my path. Now that I finally have a free moment, I want to share my recipe for a de-stressing salad: a salad that is easy to make, wholesome, and light. The ingredients kept me calm and focused during my work, and I ended each day feeling satisfied. I would have normally chopped up the almonds in this recipe, but I did not even feel I had the time to do that (safely, that is-I would like to keep all 10 fingers!).

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Easy to prepare, easy to eat, easy to feel healthy after eating this delicious masterpiece! Say bye-bye to stress and hello to wholesome goodness!

De-Stressing Salad (Makes 1 serving)IMG_3645

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 cup mixed greens, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup green beans, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp almonds
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

This recipe is as simple as throwing together all of the ingredients and enjoying! Feel free to alter the amounts of the ingredients/change the ingredients in the recipe to suit your taste preferences. For example, I ran out of cranberries and used slices of apple and it was still delicious!

My “New York Style” Salad

Oh my. I am becoming a New Yorker.

So picture this: my fridge is essentially empty.

Empty, you say? Like, missing real, fresh food? Sadly, yes.

This predicament is both amusing and saddening. Amusing in that I still cannot believe I find myself taking up behaviors I used to think as exclusively for the native “New Yorker” (I could have never guessed a suburbia-raised girl like me could become a successful city dweller). Despite my new-found urban identity, I am bummed by my fridge because I like to believe that I always prepare and eat home-cooked meals using fresh ingredients. After all, that is how it started when I first came to New York City. Then, slowly I might add, I started buying more “snack-like” foods. Apples and peanut butter, mixed nuts, cans of beans, hummus…you get the idea. Next, I started eating out or traveling every single weekend. Couple that with the night a week I might eat out and suddenly buying a ton of produce and racing to eat it before it went bad became too much. Living alone is stressful on your diet, people!

Anyways, my meals have depended on gauging that “just right” amount of fresh food to buy every week. A couple of apples here, some spinach and baby carrots there…just enough to get me through 4.5 days of meals. And lately most of my protein has come from non-meat sources during the week. Thank goodness I have eggs, beans, and peanut butter (but not together because that would be gross). My love for these items–and their long shelf life–help me from avoiding a nutrient deficiency and keep my energy up.

Another dependable protein item: sliced lunch meat. Although it isn’t as wholesome as cooking chicken in the oven or broiling a steak, for someone with only a couple of meals to prep at home, it’s a great go-to for something filling. Slicing lunch meat further (a.k.a. chopping the lunch meat into coarse pieces) allows it to be tossed into an omelet, thrown into soup, or-as in this instance-sprinkled on salad.

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This recipe was all too simple and the ingredients are solid, nutritional standbys. I buy the ingredients for this salad on a Monday and it will get me through exactly four days worth of lunches. Is it all I have for lunch? No. Is it a better option for lunch that ordering Chinese takeout? Yes. Just pack this salad along with some snackie-snacks (yes I got all cute and called them snackie-snacks). Suddenly, weekday eating for the single-living city-dweller became easy, delicious, and healthy. And now I am craving a bagel…oh, New York.

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Salami & Spinach Salad (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups spinach (1 bag)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 package salami
  • Olive oil and Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Rinse spinach and remove stems. Chop tomato, salami, and avocado. Toss together with 1 tablespoon each olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Home Sweet (Thai-food filled) Home

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The past two days have been extremely relaxing and comforting for me. Nothing beats being home. As much as I enjoy my city life, I was ready to get a break from the craziness of it all. Going back to Cali for a few days is just what I needed. I have spent a lot of time lying around the house, catching up with old friends, and running in the fresh mountain air.

Another thing I have been doing a lot of is eating. Whenever I come home, my parents spoil me with a smorgasbord of food. My dad cooks every Persian meal I could ever imagine, and some I did not even know existed. My mom is currently into make meals using the fresh produce in her vegetable garden. We are talking lots of fresh tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and eggplant. Every meal in this household is a feast. And you thought Thanksgiving was only one day in November.

Anyways, with leftovers from dinner comes creative food options for lunch. And my brother Marco and I were craving Thai.

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I never could have anticipated my infatuation with Thai food. I was first introduced to this lovely cuisine on a family trip to Thailand. I was in the eighth grade at the time, and my initial fear of the spicy, sweet, and unique dishes gave way to an adoration of all things Thai. My love for Thai cuisine has led to regular visits at Thai restaurants and frequent cooking experiments with Thai ingredients.

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That’s where this sandwich comes in. I took the usual suspects found in Thai cuisine (sweet chili sauce, peanuts, scallions) and incorporated them into the cheesiest, gooiest, most delectable sandwich that has even come out of the family panini press. Let’s put it this way, my chatterbox of the brother said not a word as he devoured his Thai panini. Yep, this panini is that good. It comes highly recommended, from my household to yours!

Thai Chicken Panini (serves 2)

Ingredients for Panini

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 mozzarella ball
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 Tbsp Thai Peanut Sauce (see below)
  • 4 large slices Sourdough bread
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium tomato (optional)

Thai Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp ground fresh chili paste
  • 2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Grill and slice the chicken breasts. Set aside. 
  2. Heat panini press to medium heat. Butter one side of each sourdough slice.
  3. For the Thai Peanut Sauce (which I will warn you is irresistibly good), combine all the ingredients for the sauce and mix well. 
  4. Place one sourdough slice butter side down on panini press. Spread 1 tablespoon of the Thai Peanut Sauce on sourdough. Next, layer the mozzarella and chicken on top. drizzle another tablespoon of Thai Peanut Sauce over the chicken. Top with shredded carrot, scallions, and tomatoes (optional ingredient). Place another layer of mozzarella and the other slice of sourdough on top. 
  5. Close panini press and warm the sandwich on medium heat until the cheese is nice and melty (the trick is to go low and slow…be patient!)
  6. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients for the other sandwich. Serve with fresh cilantro and extra peanut sauce. 

Goat Cheese Omelette

You know those mornings where you wake up starving and need food more than anything else in the world? Well, I just had one of those mornings.

Ideally, breakfast is supposed to be eaten within an hour of waking. I know there are people who just aren’t hungry at that time of the day, or don’t have the time (I tend to fit into the latter category) and breakfast is a nonexistent meal. But, it is important to try to get something into your system. A healthy, wholesome breakfast jump-starts the body’s metabolism, gives energy, and helps (note: helps, not guarantees) one avoid over-indulging later in the day.

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Breakfast is a great meal because it can be made quickly too. Take this omelet for example: from start to finish I was making breakfast for 5 minutes. And what I got was a nutritious and filling meal containing lean protein, calcium, and some healthy fats. Served with a side of fruit, I am gonna go ahead and call it a winning way to start the day. Especially when you’re so hungry you could eat your alarm clock.

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Goat Cheese Omelette (serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp soft goat cheese
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • red pepper flakes (optional), to taste

 

Directions

First, warm a skillet on medium heat. Add onions and olive oil to the skillet and sauté for a few minutes until slightly browned. Whisk eggs in a small bowl and pour over onions. Let the eggs cook until slightly firmed, then flip over to cook other side. Add goat cheese and fold eggs over the cheese. Remove omelet from heat and top with avocado slices, salt, pepper, and/or red pepper flakes. Serve with sliced fruit.