Chipotle-Lime Chicken Taco Salad, Week 4

This is definitely my current favorite Cook Smarts meal. I love the flavor, simplicity and time it takes to make this dish! Basically, you mix the marinade/sauce- use half of it on the chicken as a marinade and half you add some sour cream and use it as a dressing! The biggest chunk of time on this meal is waiting 30 minutes (up to overnight) on the marinade!

Avocados, fresh tomatoes, tortilla chips, our favorite bibb lettuce- yes please!

Marinate the chicken in a spicy chipotle pepper, adobo and lime sauce- yes please!

They are really as good as they look- now that’s a plate of nachos!

One of us added cheese!

I tried to get the perfect combination of chip, chicken, tomato half, lettuce and avocado in every bite!

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Tofu and mushroom lettuce wraps and pineapple coconut smoothie-Week 4 of Cook Smarts

This was really delicious! Apparently I was a bit scattered in making sure I had all of the ingredients out before I took my before shot, so you get two photos of the “before”. (That’s what I get for multi-tasking in the kitchen again!)

This beautiful line up along with the peanut butter became my peanut sauce. I love knowing exactly what is going into my sauces! I can adjust the heat, the salt, the acidity, the sweetness, everything myself and that is a power I do not take lightly!

Oh, crunchy peanut butter and peanuts, sure, why not!?  

I really appreciate being able to use more of the bag of frozen peas and carrots on this dish! Have I mentioned how much I appreciate the reduction in waste while using Cook Smarts! Even something as simple as a $1.00 frozen bag of vegetables being incorporated into multiple meals in the week!

Our thoughts and impressions:

~the pineapple and coconut smoothie was delicious, but we’re not big smoothie drinkers so, take it or leave it.
~we would prefer a creamy peanut butter and foregoing the peanuts
~I needed to squeeze more water out of the tofu so it crisped properly in the pan
~Mung bean threads or a wide egg noodle would be a marvelous addition to this dish.
~We’d definitely make this again with the aforementioned changes.

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Shepherds Pie-Cook Smarts Week 4

I’m wildly excited to be using Cook Smarts still. 4 weeks of fantastic experiences in the kitchen. Spoilers: Neither of us loved this dish in the “please repeat” category, but both of us were delighted to eat it. One of the most intimidating parts of the meal planning process for me is hoping we both enjoy the meal. I put a lot of emotional investment into my choices that ultimately I set myself up for disappointments. Cook Smarts has taken this emotional component out of the equation. We both agreed that as often as possible I will cook from their menu. If there’s a dish that both of us are really, genuinely uninterested in, I might skip, but unless this happens I will be cooking from the menu.

We discovered that while the flavors of this dish were really well done, and everything was cooked properly, neither of us are interested in eating it again. However, I thought this would make a fantastic meal-to-share with anyone who enjoys “meat and potato” type meals or particularly loves shepherd’s pie. Also, this dish would freeze really well. If you make meals for families and want a gluten-free, non-dairy dish that’s hearty and comforting, this might be your meal. (To make it dairy free I subbed non-dairy sour cream and just skipped the butter).

Shepherd’s Pie seasoning mix: so yum!

Freshly chopped onions, yummy tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  

The before photo!

That’s a lot of food in that side profile! 

Apparently I misread the directions because I was supposed to have chopped green onion pieces left to sprinkle over the top, oh well!

Southwestern Roasted Chicken with orange avocado salsa / wild rice

I’ve been in a conference all day today and I was in the same conference all day yesterday, so I made this meal in stages which means I forgot to do my ingredients picture. I’m so sad! I really like taking a picture of the ingredients because most of the time it is all fresh or simple ingredients and I really like emphasizing that.

I only made one modification/substitution in this recipe, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (big substitution, right?) 

Let’s talk about this fresh salad! Avocado, orange (okay, I lied earlier, I used a clementine instead of an orange, substitution number 2), lime and cilantro. Yum! So fresh and light but satisfying! I wish I had finely chopped the cilantro instead of coarsely chopping it. That would have improved it exponentially. But hey, I’m learning, so it’s all good!

A perfectly ripe, non bruised avocado? This needed photo documentation!

I mixed up the spice seasoning mix this morning before I left the house! I really like it when the directions say, “you can do this up to ## days ahead of time”! It encourages me to read through my recipes a few times before I make the dish. It also encourages me to do an appropriate amount of prep work when I have a few moments here or there!

The shallots and raw pumpkin seeds are ready to be mixed with the rice!

Oh my goodness! The flavors and aromas!!

So sometimes I’m a ninny and forget that when you remove a pan from the oven, the handle you can normally grab shouldn’t be touched without a pot holder. Ouch, I’ll be doing burn wound care this evening. (I’m okay, my palm just looks like I spent some time in the sun.)

I have no idea why or how these flavors complement so well, but this was a very tasty meal!

 INGREDIENTS

Southwestern Roasted Chicken:

  • Coriander, dried – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Paprika – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin – 1/2 tsp
  • Chili powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Black pepper – 1/4 tsp
  • Shallots – 1 clove, chopped
  • Pepitas / pumpkin seeds – 1/4 cup
  • Chicken thighs, boneless (with or without skin) – 1 1/2 lbs
  • Oil, cooking – 2 Tbsp
  • Cooked wild rice (leftover from Monday) – ~2 cups

Orange Avocado Salsa:

  • Oranges – 2, segments, roughly chopped
  • Avocados – 2, chopped
  • Cilantro – 1 Tbsp, leaves torn
  • Limes – 1/2, juice of

*This meal is part of Cook Smarts subscription meals!

Turkey Kofta with broiled zucchini / mint yogurt sauce

After making my 10th meal, a full meal, plating a dinner (!), I cannot sing the praises of Cook Smarts any louder (!)! My confidence with serving a dinner has grown exponentially! We haven’t loved every single complete meal, that’s for certain, but we have greatly enjoyed having a complete meal at dinner. Formerly we would save our extravagant cooking for the weekends. Our week night meals were very simple. (Imagine: chicken thighs and peas, a lot, not saying that’s what happened, but you could imagine. Sometimes we’d add garlic powder or Italian seasoning to this hypothetical chicken.)

Now, we’ve enjoyed a different vegetable every night! In addition to that we’re incorporating a variety of proteins as well!

If I read the directions properly ahead of time I would have realized I could have made the turkey kofta’s a day in advance (!) this would have saved me some time at dinner prep Wednesday evening, oh well!

I’d like to share with you my favorite method to chop: mint, basil, parsley, spinach, etc. I learned this technique from Gordon Ramsey.

You stack all of your leaves together flat in a pile,

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Then you roll them up as tightly as possible.
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And carefully slice with a knife. Easy peasy and you have similar sized pieces as your final product!

This yogurt sauce was really delicious. I made a few substitutions: coconut milk yogurt (minimal to no flavor difference) and fresh dill instead of dried. Also you might be interested to note that I actually made the yogurt sauce a day early. I have a conference on Wednesday so I knew my time/energy might be reduced and this component lent itself to making ahead.

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INGREDIENTS

Turkey Kofta:

  • Green onions – 1/2 stalk, green and white parts chopped and combined (I used a whole stalk)
  • Turkey, ground and lean (sub any ground meat) – 5/8 lb (I eyeballed this and probably landed closer to 6/8 lb)
  • Panko breadcrumbs – 1/8 cup
  • Italian seasonings – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Black pepper – 1/8 tsp
  • Pine nuts (sub chopped walnuts) – 1/8 cup (eye balled)
  • Oil, cooking – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Stock, any type – 1/4 cup (I used chicken broth)

Mint Yogurt Sauce:

  • Mint, fresh – 5 leaves, finely chopped
  • Lemons – 1/4, zest of
  • Yogurt, Greek or plain – 1/2 cup (I used non-dairy coconut milk yogurt, yum)
  • Honey – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin, ground – 1/16 tsp
  • Dill, dried – 1/8 tsp (I used fresh and eye balled it)

Crispy Zucchini Spears:

  • Zucchini (buy the smallest you can find) – 1/2 lb, quartered lengthwise into spears (I cut it in half and then sliced it as close to evenly as possible, but I ended up with more than quarters)
  • Oil, olive – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Honey – 1 tsp
  • Panko breadcrumbs – 1/8 cup

*Recipe from Cook Smarts subscription service

Penne with sausage and broccoli rabe

One of the cool parts about having a modified tiny house is that all of my furniture is really easy to move. I can move almost everything in the house by myself. I took advantage of this today when I relocated our island so I could watch tv while cooking. Full House is so much fun! I think I’m in season 4 now.
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I love pasta dishes, I mean really, really, love pasta dishes. My favorite lately have been ones I’ve made using fresh, homemade pasta. Unfortunately (fortunately?), I had a full and busy week this week so I did not make pasta. I bought pasta and it worked nicely.

This meal was incredibly simple, AND I got to cook with broccoli rabe! This was my first time purchasing and cooking with broccoli rabe! So much fun to try new things!

I doubled the garlic, I know you’re shocked! 🙂  

Above you’ll see one of the optional components- the red pepper flakes, that I affectionately call “pizza pepper flakes.” I decided to add these- good choice (sometimes I “make good choices”). It only gave the dish a touch of zing, and we all need a touch of zing in our lives!

I loved the garlic-y bread crumbs (panko and sautéd garlic)
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INGREDIENTS

Chicken Sausage Penne:

  • Broccoli rabe (also called rapini; sub broccoli florets) – 6 oz, chopped (I don’t think I used enough because it was 6 oz with the stems and I cut most of the stem off and it cooked down substantially)
  • Garlic – 1 cloves, chopped (I used 2)
  • Sausage, chicken (preferably pre-cooked; sub any variety sausage) – 1/2 lb, casings removed (if applicable) and sliced (I used 1 lb)
  • Pasta, penne – 5 oz
  • Butter – 1/2 Tbsp (I subbed non dairy butter, but oil would have worked as well)
  • Panko breadcrumbs – 1/4 cup
  • Oil, cooking – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Red pepper flakes (opt) – 1/8 tsp
  • Lemons – 1/4, zest of

*This recipe is part of the paid subscription service on the Cook Smarts website.

Honey Citrus Salmon with Radicchio, Fennel and Orange Salad

The sub title to this post is: someday I’ll have a gas stove top cooking surface and an oven that properly heats/regulates temperature. I now have a thermometer in the oven, but the oven is so temperamental it really makes cooking an extra sensitive adventure.

Another alternate title, Cook Smarts adventures, Week 3, Meal 1.

One of my favorite parts about this meal is that it made going to the grocery store a lot of fun! A)I’ve only purchased fennel seeds and had to google an image of a whole fennel. And B) I had no idea what a radicchio looked like either! Also, this recipe required a trip to two grocery stores due to a non existent supply of mint and radicchio at our normal Kroger stop. New discoveries at the grocery store: win!

Apparently, this is a fennel:

It has a sweet flavor but it’s not sugary. The recipe called for much less than I chopped up, but it was so good, I’d use that much again in the future. I probably needed to do something better about that center piece and it would have been better if I’d broken up the pieces better. All in all, this was a fun and tasty try. They mention that there are things you can do with the long stringy green pieces, but today I was already experimenting enough as it is, maybe that’ll be part of next round’s adventure.

This is a radicchio:

You treat it like a cabbage, you chop it like cabbage, it looks like a cabbage but the color is richer (I think), more of a mauve hue than a red cabbage. Also, it is incredibly bitter. So bitter, we couldn’t eat it. The recipe indicated that you could sub in red cabbage or baby spinach. I think next time I make this dish, I would prefer spinach.

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Had I subbed spinach or anything-but-radicchio, this salad would have been awesome. I liked the orange marmalade dressing, the fennel, the beans and the oranges, I did not like the radicchio.

Remember my persnickety oven? Well, I over cooked the salmon. Oh well, it was still mostly edible. Personally, I thought this meal looked a lot better than it turned out, but that’s my own critique on the meal. Also, even with the results, it was still a lot of fun to try this new recipe. I enjoyed the challenge, the hunt in the grocery stores and trying new dishes! If the salmon were properly cooked, and the spinach replaced the radicchio, I think I would have given this meal an A!

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INGREDIENTS

Honey Citrus Dressing:

  • Orange marmalade (sub any orange or yellow jam) – 1/8 cup
  • Lemons – 1/4, zest and juice of
  • Soy sauce – 1 tsp
  • Mustard, Dijon – 1/2 tsp

Honey Citrus Salmon:

  • Salmon – 1/2 lb
  • Honey – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Homemade honey citrus dressing (ingredients listed separately) – ~1/8 cup

Radicchio, Fennel and Orange Salad:

  • Fennel bulb, small – 1/4, thinly sliced
  • Radicchio (sub red cabbage or baby spinach) – 1 cups, chopped
  • Oranges – 1, segments
  • Mint, fresh – 5 leaves, torn
  • Beans, cannellini or butter (14 oz / 397 g can) – 1/2 can, drained and rinsed
  • Homemade honey citrus dressing (ingredients listed separately) – ~1/8 cup
  • Oil, olive – 1 Tbsp